Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: #It Could Have Been Worse

What can you say about the year of our Lord 2014?

The year started off with a "Polar Vortex" which means "cold weather" which apparently happens in "the winter". This cold weather led to a Snowpocalypse Event in the Atlanta area and caused the mother of all traffic jams. There are some people still in this traffic jam.

Your humble correspondent's commute from work, which is usually 20 minutes, took 9 hours. The need for voiding his bladder began 8 and half hours into this commute. When he finally made it home, he went to see the most important person in his life:  his toilet.

What the Polar Vortex proved was this: if ISIS ever gets an ice making machine, the Atlanta area is screwed.

Speaking of ISIS,  I don't ever remember hearing about this group of thugs in 2013. They spent much of 2014 cutting off people's heads which caused the Obama administration to leap into action after they read about it in the papers.

In 2014, we did hear a lot about people who are a definite threat to freedom: Florists who refuse business to Gay Weddings.  We also heard a lot about the Kardashians, who, in case you do not know, have big rear ends. Their step dad, Olympic great Bruce Jenner, is divorcing their mom and trying to become an ugly old woman.

In 2014, many famous people won awards but I can't remember who they were. I went to one movie at the theater this year: The Penguins of Madagascar. The only new song I remember liking the first time I heard it was "Sweet Amarillo" by Old Crow Medicine Show. The song was taken from a Bob Dylan outtake 42 years ago.

In 2014, I was very glad that I did not have a four year old girl or I would have watched Frozen a lot.

I am so glad I've never seen this

In 2014, The Republicans won the Senate, kept control of the House and won a majority of the statehouses. The President responded by basically flipping a bird and granting Amnesty to people who knowingly broke the law and/or don't even care that there is a law.  The basic rationale is: There are so many people "living in the shadows" (really?) that we just might as well make them legal to show them that we are not racists.

In 2014, the 2016 Presidential race became clearer when Jeb (Not Another) Bush has declared that he might/maybe/probably will run for the Republican nomination, if he feels okay about it. Right now he is leading in the polls, although polls right now should be called "Hey, have you heard of this guy?"

Look, sure we're brothers, but it is not like I see him that much

In 2014, Hillary Clinton became a grandmother and also wrote a book that nobody wanted to read.

Speaking of Frozen

In Sports, The Seattle Seahawks won The Super Bowl. Derek Jeter retired from The Yankees. The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner shoplifted some lobsters. Lebron James decided to move back to Cleveland, which has to be a first. Donald Sterling got into trouble for talking nasty to his hoochie girl.

The big medical news in 2014 was Ebola, which is either very, very very, very, very, very, very serious or nothing to worry about.

Two planes disappeared this year. Justin Bieber is still making news. An intruder runs across The White House front lawn and manages to get inside. The TV show "24" was shown in 13 hours.

In "They Mean Well" news, people in 2014 poured buckets of ice water on their heads in order to challenge other people to do the same OR to contribute to a charity to fight ALS.  How exactly this was suppose to cure ALS was not really explained, but hey, it is the thought that counts.

People went Hashtag crazy in 2014. In the old days (2007) the Hashtag (#) was called "the pound sign". Now all of us old people are going Hashtag crazy. Particularly on Facebook where a friend will post a picture of a yacht they just bought and post "The Lord provided us with the means to buy this luxurious yacht and we are going to sail around world making Jesus famous. #blessed". What this post really means is "God likes me better than you because I'm cool. #noteverybodycanbechosen"

In personal news, 2014 saw the son move back home, get a job, and become engaged. He is also buying his own gas and paying off his student loan, which means we must have done something right. #Blessed.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Inconvenient Christmas

I can honestly say I have had some awful jobs in my life.

I had a temp job once. For an entire week, my job was to put twist ties in boxes of plastic garbage bags.  It is not as exciting as it sounds.

I was also a high school substitute teacher. Now that is a terrible job.

One, the teachers don't really have anything to do with you except when they need someone to babysit  substitute. Two, the kids think it is party time.

One time I was substituting in a class and I heard a girl exclaim, "EW GROSS!" A young man then raised his hand and said, "Mr. Manis, do you know what (the technical term for a particular sexual act which I am too chicken to write) is?"

For once, I said the right thing.  I said, "Yes, I know what it is, but it would be better for you to discuss this with your parents."  I should have been put into the Substitute Teachers Hall of Fame right then and there.

The last time I ever substituted, it was the last day for Seniors to attend class. I was subbing in a home room of Seniors, that were SO READY TO GET OUT OF HERE, MAN. One guy, in fact said that: "Man, I am so ready to get out of here."   I said something deep like, "Yeah".  He continued, "I failed four times".  I asked, "How old are you?"   He said, "Twenty-two".  I was twenty four.

The worst job I ever had was working in a convenience store at Christmas time. A lot of people in retail complain about working at Christmas time. I can assure you that working at Christmas time in a convenience store, particularly in a small town, is truly the pits.

One year, I drew the short straw and had to work the worst shift in the invention of work. The graveyard shift. 11:00pm Christmas Eve to 7:00am Christmas Day.

This is the shift that gets the REALLY last minute shoppers. Also, and this may come as a surprise, but  there are many who celebrate the birth of our Lord by getting drunk.

Around midnight,  a guy came in who was already three sheets in the wind. He placed his beer, (like he needed it) near the cash registrar, and began telling me and everyone who happened to be in the store, a long story, in graphic detail, about his love life. He was a local and his wife worked at the bank where I had an account and I saw her every Friday when I deposited my check   I could never look at the lady again.

At around 1:30, all of the customers were gone, except for one guy.  He was at the magazine rack

This little store did not sell magazines. It sold pornography. Some of the filthiest, nastiest publications ever printed. Playboy was probably the cleanest magazine we sold, aside from The Auto Trader. I can't remember all of the titles of the magazines, but one was called Boobs and Buns. It was a boutique publication for a niche audience. 

So there I was, at 1:30 on Christmas morning with a person with some obvious spiritual/psychological problems when this older man walked in.

You know the type of old man that thinks you need to hear what ever floats into his brain? Yup, that was this old guy. What he was doing out at 1:30 on a Christmas morning, I have no idea, although I have a strange feeling alcohol was somehow involved.

This guy talked and talked and talked. None of it raised above the level of inane. Soon, he showed me what he got for Christmas. It was a carton of cigarettes still wrapped in the Christmas wrapping paper. There was a problem. It wasn't his brand. He asked if he could exchange it.  I did, hoping/praying that he would go away. He did.

I looked at the clock. It was 3:30 in the morning. The guy was still at the magazine rack. He looked at his watch, said, "Oh", put down his porn and walked out the door. Time flies when you are looking at porn.

I thought about what a sorry Christmas I was having. Everybody else was asleep in their beds while I was with these two losers. Then I remembered why we were having a Christmas in the first place.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

The World Premier of A New Christmas Song

Today's focus is on Christmas music. There are two types of Christmas music: The sacred and the secular.

Sacred Christmas music is what is sung in churches and is usually about the actual birth of Christ. However, some songs are kind of strange, like "Good King Wenceslas", which is not about Christ per se, but it does show a Good King motivated by his faith to help those less fortunate than himself on The Feast of Stephen, which we didn't celebrate in our house.

It is usually hard to mess up a Sacred Christmas song. Even Bob Dylan did okay on "The Little Drummer Boy".

I know, I know. There are two types of people in the world: People who think Bob Dylan is the greatest living songwriter/musician and those people who are not clinically insane.

Secular Christmas music is a mess, in my opinion.

In the past, I have criticized the secular Christmas songs because they usually fall into two categories: 1) Made up crap about Santa  or 2) Let's use Christmas to beg for sex.

I'm not against people having sex. I'm definitely pro-sex, ask my wife (especially on my birthday, yeah come on). But, it seems like there are a lot of songs that are begging people to have sex, or as we said in the 70's: "do it".

Like "Winter Wonderland". Honestly, find one mention of Christmas in that song. It doesn't even mention the month of December. "Winter Wonderland" could take place in Minneapolis in February for all we know.

Then there is all of that "conspire" by the fire nonsense.

I went to Wheeler High School in the mid-70's. The boys of Wheeler knew which girls would "conspire" and which girls would not "conspire".  It was a topic of constant conversation in December.

Friend: "Dude, I went to Janie's house and we conspired by the fire. Dude."

Me:  "Dude. How was it? Dude."

Friend: "Dude. It was awesome. Merry and bright. Dude."

Me: "Dude."

The Boys of Wheeler, 1975 (as we saw ourselves)

As the conversation shows, we knew what was going on in that Christmas song. By the way, what really happened most of the time was instead of actual 70's teenage sex, it was the guy and girl watching The Six Million Dollar Man with her parents.

But I'm not the kind of guy to just criticize. Nope, I'm going to try to come up with a solution. Particularly a solution that could make me a lot of money. So I decided to write my very own secular Christmas song.

This is problematic. For one, I have the musical ability of a cocker spaniel. Secondly, I couldn't think up any new crap about Santa Claus. He lives on Santa Claus Lane and he's coming to town. He sees you when you are sleeping and knows if your awake. He's our personal NSA.

I decided to write a country Secular Christmas song. I can just imagine Merle Haggard or Kenny Chesney singing this. (But not Florida-Georgia Line. I have my standards.) I have come up with the lyrics and I'm asking those of you out there in blog land to come up with the music. It is called I Didn't Get What I Wanted For Christmas.

I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas,
Just a sorry silent night.
My comfort and joy
Ran off with the little drummer boy.
Santa, that just ain’t right.

I’ve been a good boy all year
You can tell by the presents I gave.
It just don’t make no sense:
I gave her gold, myrrh and frankincense
And I got Old Spice aftershave.

I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas,
Just some sorry silver bells.
Frosty and Rudolph,
Said they’re taking the season off
And Santa might as well.

I’d wish me a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year.
But my stocking's got a lump of coal
And it is too warm for snow
And I drunk up all of my holiday cheer.

I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas
Just a sorry silent night.
O little town of Bethlehem,
What is wrong with them?
Santa, it just ain’t right.

I know that brought a tear to your eye. Now if you can write some music to it, maybe it can bring a dollar to both of our pockets. Dude.