Category Archives: Holidays

Here’s the Phillies 2012 Stars & Stripes Hat (Minus any Stars & Stripes)

2012
As has been the pattern since 2008, Major League Baseball will be using special hats for Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and September 11 as part of their “Stars & Stripes” program. Mixing the design up every year, they’re actually eschewing the namesake “stars and stripes,” replacing them with a digital camouflage pattern. (Let me say that I think it’s the Army’s “Universal Camouflage Program,” but military uniforms are outside my uniform wheelhouse. In terms of straight-up trivia, I’d give the designers lots of credit if the camouflage pattern for the Blue Jays followed one of Canada’s CADPAT designs or if the Padres used one of the US Marines’ patterns instead of what I assume is the US Army’s pattern, but it doesn’t look like either is the case.)

History

click to enlarge

This year, thankfully, MLB says they will donate “ALL NET PROCEEDS” from sales of the hat to the Welcome Back Veterans fund (previously, Kyle gave MLB heat for the shamelessness of contributing only $1 from a $37 MSRP item in order to play the “for the troops” card).

The Stars & Stripes hats are made in China, unlike the normal on-field New Era hats which are made by folks you’d normally see when there’s an aggressive Clint Eastwood voiceover talking about it being half-time or 7th Inning Stretch or Second Intermission in America. USA!

So… how do they look? In a word, ugly. Oddly, instead of just framing the camo pattern with the normal white of the “P,” they added an extra blue stroke on top of the white to frame the camo. Odd (and unnecessary). With just red and (generally green) camo, I’m stretching, but you get a nice “Christmas comes to Winter’s Bone” effect. Red+Blue+Camo? Nope. Looking through the rest of the league, they just look like dirty versions of the normal hats. Also, like the Phillies, other teams, such as the Blue Jays, have gotten vestigial strokes added to the design for some reason. 

For some positivity, a detail I’ve always liked on the Stars & Stripes hats is that they also drop-in the pattern in the “batterman” logo on the back of the hats, and they’ve continued that this year.

Looking at the Phillies hats since 2008,  the 2009 hat is the best (being that it looks just like the normal hat, minus the red button on top) with the navy blue 2008 as runner-up. 2010 is hideous and 2011 looks missed the retro fad by about 4 years. For those interested in such things, the 2009/10/11 versions are easily found on ebay, but the 2008 hats are extremely rare (as in there hasn’t been one on ebay in either hat size I can wear in the last 3 years). Last season,  I offered a middle aged man at a Phillies game $60 for the one he had one his head, and he even knew not to sell it. I am not proud of any part of this anecdote…

Anyone out there planning on buying one of these? If so, you can line Kyle’s pockets by clicking this link to purchase.

Pictures via lids.com and the very cool, but not-updated-since-2o1o Fittedelphia, which chronicles Phillies hats made by New Era.

**

UniDiction 2011: Week 16 – Eagles vs. Cowboys and Week 15 Round-Up

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Again, the Eagles one, I won. Good deal.

Week 15 Round-Up

Throwback_7A little more uniform action in Week 15 than we’ve seen in a while. The Chargers wore their powder blue throwbacks, which are better than the normal Chargers uniforms, but like some of the other (loud) throwbacks (Bucs, I’m looking at you), they’re best as a “two games per year” sort of combo.

Red_red_2The Cardinals wore solid red again (three weeks in a row). Repeating myself, these look awful, though the red pants mean that the rare, trivia-riffic white over red combo may yet make an appearance.

 

Throwback_2Finally, the Rams, the team with a bajillion uniform combos (and that actually pretty much all of them, unlike the Titans), brought out their throwbacks last week. They’re nice, but loud enough that they’re best as a (say it with me) “twice a year kind of alternate.”

 

Week 16 UniDiction – Cowboys vs. Eagles

Of course, this game will be visual deja vu to week 8, as the Cowboys are a White at Home team. Of course, I hadn’t unveiled my snazzy new UniDiction format back then, so I’ll let the picture speak for itself. Even though I dislike (hate?) the Cowboys, I have to begrudgingly admit their uniforms are pretty nice.

Week16

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Cowboys blue uniform set is almost completely incongruous with their normal white uniform set, and I’ll gladly point out the issues at great detail below.

Comparison

The Eagles will be in their best combo, green over white, which is a 22 point sort of uniform.

I’ll also point out that games like this are the reason it’s stupid that the Eagles chose not to wear an alternate jersey this year (whether black or last year’s throwback). It’s like they’re not interested in making money.

Predicted Score

Cowboys 18

Eagles 22

Merry Christmas! (for the record, I’m not above commentary on Santa Claus’ uniform if there’s a desire from the readership….ha!)

****

A pretty good-looking football game, as usual between these teams.

Z2K9 — The Day the Music Froze During the Loading Screen

Update 1/1/2009: All better. The thing “fixed” itself. I was this close to composing a strongly worded letter written under only natural light.

In the time between beginning this post and finishing it, it looks like Microsoft formally announced a solution to the issue, the always exciting “it’ll fix itself tomorrow.” Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that I want to listen to my party mix now. Anyway, um, enjoy the increasingly less relevant post below.

I’ve stood by my MP3 player for more than one-and-a-half years. The 30GB Zune isn’t the prettiest, thinnest, or most useful MP3 player, but I like what it does and how it does it. I spent a lot of time getting the video compression settings “just right,” and I didn’t need to purchase wrist weights to “maximize” my runs. I’ve gotten used to people confusing it with a dumbbell but I have never had the “I think someone stole my mp3 player,” panic because I know my husky baby isn’t going anywhere, if only because it would be a real burden for a potential thief if he or she needed to scale a fence.

My previous MP3 player, the geek approved Rio Karma served me just fine (though a few minor repairs) from 2003-2007, at which point it started turning into “computer junk,” component by component, necessitating a new player. Microsoft’s been good about updating the original, 30GB, player even though it’s now one-and-a-half generations old. I can’t argue with that, and the free Zune Software/Music Player is actually a program I’d whole-heartedly recommend to anyone, whether he owns a Zune or not. Everything was going swimmingly – the only real issues I had were occasional freezes (which disappeared with the latest 3.1 firmware) and a totally buff right bicep. This morning, I saw that one of the “tech news” websites I visit was reporting “Hundreds of 30GB Zune Players Fail Across the Country.” I have one of those. Uh-oh.

zune crash
Probably not the sort of top 10 list for which they hoped.

Skimming the article, I saw that the problems started around midnight PST last night, and most users experienced the freeze as their greeting as they turned on the device this morning. Of course, I still hadn’t turned it on, but I was watching The Matrix last night, and needless to say, perhaps the computer gods were not happy at the ending (with Neo’s bring the physical virtual and verbal smackdown to computer program) and were taking their vengeance. Being that guy, I decided I wanted to see the crash myself so I could poke around at it. Well, I succeeded in seeing it crash/freeze, but that was about all she wrote. Apparently, one can disassemble the player, change the computer calendar to any date but 12/31/08, unplug and replug the battery, then reassemble and use it just fine with no issues, but I decided I was done losing tiny screws when I decided the Rio Karma wasn’t worth fixing.

For a device considered not very popular, the news certainly got around. CNN posted a front page link (below “the fold,” though) to a brief writeup. (Now, to the doubters’ credit, the time between Christmas and New Years is ridiculously slow for the news.)

In terms of why it crashed, December 31, 2008 is the 366th day of the year. Odds are it has something to do with something in the software planning on each year being 365 days. Not the most exciting bug, but an easy one to forget to check for. Of course it could be an ugly coincidence, but Occam’s Razor, people.

I was going to write here about how it could be a challenging bug to fix because the devices didn’t even get to the point where the firmware updates can be initiated and it could be a support disaster, but being that the darn thing will apparently fix itself, I’ll spare the words. (Note to Microsoft employees: I have no idea if that little spiel back there about “doesn’t even get to the point where the firmware updates can be initiated” is even remotely accurate. I’m just counting on all 7 of the readers of this site nodding their heads and saying, “that Dan. He knows about computers.”)

Star Rating is pending the results of tomorrow’s self-update, but let’s not jump to any conclusions.

**

Two stars – nice it sort of fixed itself, not so nice that I actually had to say, “well, I have that song on my MP3 player, but unfortunately, it’s not going to work until noon tomorrow.”

BUT, I have seen some pretty good overly dramatic names for the “situation”: Z2K, Z2K9, ZUNEPOCOLYPSE. I guess give credit for the “social” for making enough noise the problem to be seen in more places than just some isolated support forums.

Of course, none of the postings made any mention of Judgment Day or this being Skynet’s first move, so I’m not completely impressed. That said, in terms of a future where our ground up brains might be used to fuel Gregorian Calendar does help me sleep better at night.

The 2006 Fuller Christmas Letter

Look, we have a new design! If there are any issues with this new layout, please (please, please) leave a comment so I can fix it. It looks fine on my computer, but maybe it doesn’t on yours. Please let us know what you think – Positive, Negative, Who Cares – in the comments section for this review.

What with my mom using a computer relatively regularly these days, she’s made a habit of writing a Christmas letter every year to stuff into Christmas cards. I’ve long been on the record about the, well, “impersonal-ness” of Christmas card letters, but at the end of the day, is a general letter any more impersonal than the simple signatures at the bottom of any Christmas card? Eh, not really. Two (three? – maybe four? – god, I’m old) years ago, I actually made a deal with my mom that I would write the letter for the cards, mainly because I had complained about the content in years past. She sent my letter out indiscriminately with the cards, so I’m sure that my tale of how my brother had become an unsuccessful comic artist/writer probably fell upon many a “not getting the joke” ear. Anyway, that’s in the past, so here we are at 2006′s letter.

Nate still hates Christmas.

First, let it be known that I don’t feel bad reviewing my mom’s letter – as my mother, she should expect no less from me. Whatever the star rating I assign, she should simply say, “well, that’s Dan for ya.” In her defense, this the first year that both my brother and I have been completely out of her hair, both having completely moved out years and (almost) a year ago.

On to the letter (note: my comments are in pop-ins, so be sure to hover over what look to be links):

MERRY CHRISTMAS – HAPPY, HEALTHY 2007

The usual busy-ness has overtaken our lives despite our empty nest. Gordon’s mother passed away in Wilmington in March after her 16+ year siege of dementia or Alzheimer’s. It took about 4 months to know that working weekends & holidays were no longer for me, as much as I enjoyed it. Our business and my new (in August) Nursery School director/ teacher position, trying to rebuild the program, at our nearby church, Mon.-Fri., and painting our new kitchen trim/doors/walls keep me hopping. Sept. & Oct. were crazy with 3 part-time jobs. I left the organist position 10/31.

We celebrated 3 November weekends by going to the Delaware shore – visiting relatives, to Gordon’s take-in father, now 90, in So. N.J., and to Longwood Gardens!

Our business went through a few slower months again this year, but Gordon keeps busy. We were fortunate to have work, while other shops were extremely slow or dead. We’re dinosaurs. Dealerships, as you know, give huge, extended warranties on new vehicles. There are dealer-only repairs due to technological restrictions. The trend is for repair information to be restricted or unavailable- e.g. our ’97 Volvo wagon.

Brian and Beth are fine, in Oxford (near the very recent Amish one-room schoolhouse tragic shooting). She’s made a great recovery from thyroid cancer surgery/treatment, enjoying her new, administrative job with the same hospice. Brian, a Nationwide Ins. senior claims adjuster, is in Chester County, also. We plan to see more of them on our weekends! Brian and Dan live 40 minutes apart.

Dan lives in Media, an hour+ away from us, and is a project manager for LaFrance Corp., Concordville, PA. He works in its factory in China, a 45 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong, a few times a year for a few weeks. Interesting work, but definitely a company city in a ‘third world’ area, he says. After five VERY hot, humid summer weeks, he preferred his three weeks during a very warm, not-so-humid fall. He and his high school friends premiered their new movie, Franklin II, this Saturday night at a church in Bethlehem. They have a good time. It’s not serious movie-making, but with serious production values, I guess. His website is emptybookshelf.com.

Come see our kitchen some time. Primer White (2 coats on walls & trim, which our 2nd contractor custom-made to cover #1’s mistakes takes time!) is looking pretty good. But that’s another story. The year of our totally incompetent contractor-thief is over! I’m jealous of all you handypeople!!

Sorry to be late, but the best to you in 2007!

Love,
Peggy and Gordon

end of letter
***

The 2006 Fuller Christmas Letter receives three stars. There was nothing patently untrue or unnecessarily subjective in it, though the details which make my life more difficult (such as the whole putting the ‘works in China’ part before ‘for a few weeks each year’) makes my Christmas season filled with too many conversations that start with “So, Dan, I hear you’re in China most of the year” then me following with, “well, I’m there less than two months per year…I’m in the US most of the year.” Minor grammatical quibbles aside, it provided a fair update of the Fullers for 2006AD.

I’ve never been known for my punctuality, so I cannot deduct any points for the fact that the cards will be going out during Epiphany instead of Advent/Christmas.

Empty Bookshelf’s First 100 Reviews


Oh, those kids. Always at it. You guys really shouldn’t’ve.

So here we are at the first of what may be a few reviews of our first milestone, 100 reviews. Not only is this the first review of this milestone, but of what could be very many milestones. We here at the Bookshelf like the word “milestone“, and don’t believe in Thesauruses. So here we go, our first hundred in a nutshell.

The first actual review happened way back in October of 2005… remember that time before the Steelers won the superbowl, before “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, before Dick Cheny accidentally shot his friend while hunting, and before Bristol, United Kingdom celebrated the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (actually April 9) by relighting the Clifton Suspension Bridge?

Dan’s first review was aimed at complaining about post-game hype surrounding an extremely long baseball game. Of course our readers probably care about boring Astros-Braves baseball games as much as they seemed to care about my terrible review of the dictionary. Even though that picture was good, it was nowhere near the five star quality of this image. I too tried my hand at reviewing food, but it was an utter failure. On the plus side, my review of the letter to the editor is one of my favorites, and my first review actually got eight comments, including this link. The few following that grilled chese review focused mostly on music, my opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”, a particular episode of Trading Spouses, and Dan’s opinion of My opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”. Dan also said that the Colbert report wouldn’t last, which seems to have been proven false.

October seemed to be us finding our footing.
***

November saw Dan’s Cleveland Trifecta, a diatribe against horses, a road that he liked, an episode of “Coach“, and his complaints about how much he aches, now that he’s an old man. I started the month strong with the Beth review, but struggled through the rest of it, with lame reviews like Thursday, a type of tooth”paste” that doesn’t work for me, and an insightful, yet completely unnecessary complaint about my nosebleeds. My FAO Schwarz review kinda made up for them, but the highlight of the month involved Dan and I sparring about how Christmas is coming earlier every year, and something about me being a time-traveling sheep.

November didn’t see much improvement over October, but the Christmas stuff was entertaining.
***½

December got a bit better, even with a few less reviews. I busted out the old NES games, for a few reviews that I swear are not trying to copy off of XE, another personal favorite, Christmas Cards, Adam’s first review, Dan throwing the hate down on Pitchfork media, and a suprising amount of people commenting on Roger Ebert’s take on video games. The biggest advance in December was the pop-ins, that added added some clarity to our parentheses-obsessed-writing.

December was a highly engaging and entertaining month, even with only nine reviews.
****½

2006 rolled around, and January saw Dan get political, review half of a book, not like warm winters a lot. I only contributed three of ten reviews that month, but all three of them were relatively alright, mostly because “Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego“, and “The Simpsons” after season 9 is so easy to complain about.

January’s topics fell off a little.
***½

February, while being the shortest month, was also a monster for us, as far as number goes. A whopping twenty-one reviews. To be fair, 17 of them came in our envelope-pushing live superbowl reviews, the biggest stunt pulled in the history of reviewing anything and everything on a five star scale. The only other reviews of any substance were my Gauntlet Review of the Beatles albums, and Dan’s digging up of our one-issue underground high-school newspaper.

Despite the big stunt, and two good reviews, February was kinda lacking.
**½

March just plain sucked. Four reviews total. One by me. Three mega-reviews by Dan.

½

April was slightly better, with another of my top five of my reviews, Legacy of the Wizard. The other four I would give an average of 3 stars to, but since there were only four during the month, that’s going to cancel out the Legacy of the Wizard bonus and take it down a half star.

**½

For my money, May was our best month yet. Dan’s contribution was the lengthy three-part TV landscape review. I threw out quality stuff with my Songs for Silverman, and Degree Navigator reviews. The shorter American Dreamz and Davinci Code video game reviews were serviceable, but my immense LOST season 2 review tops everything.

*****

June fell off a bit. Four reviews total. Split two and two. Mine were based on a ridiculous news story, and anger at other people for coincidentally coming up with the same ideas as me. Dan tried to put everything into perspective by seeing how well the entire history of human ingenuity and artistry stacked up in the interstellar community, and complained a little about how the national geography of roadways isn’t designed to suit his needs.

**

July was filled with the (I gotta admit my ignorance as to the relevance of this phrase… and wikipedia does nothing to help) Navel Gazing set. I was had for a few minutes by a Jimmy Kimmel hoax, and I thought the critics were a little too harsh on Shayamalan. Despite the mediocre numbers for the month, I’d give it a 3.5

***½

This gives us a per-month average of 3 stars, which isn’t too shabby.

In my first ever review, I reviewed the concept of this website. I claimed that we wouldn’t be able to keep it fresh, that we’d run out of ideas, and that we wouldn’t be able to stay somewhat funny at least. I believe my exact quote was “It has the potential to provide hours of entertainment for readers, and shape their lives for years to come. However, the downside is that it could get old real soon, and provide us with nothing but an excuse not to get real jobs.”

Well, I think we’ve significantly proven wrong every single point that I just brought up. We have 29 categories, 19 subcategories, and even two sub-sub categories. We’re still writing about reasonably different things, and while we may have slacked on the funny in recent months, we still bring the ‘A’ game on occasion. As far as my quote goes, I’d be willing to bet that we’ve provided maybe a few hours of entertainment for a handful of people, which probably did nothing to shape their lives for even the near fututre. On the upside, it hasn’t gotten old, and we have gotten real-ish jobs.

For all of these reasons, I’m willing to up our star rating by half a star, over the average rating of 3. I’ve also realized that my method of calculating the rating might not be the best, so I’m gonna throw in another half star for a final rating of 4 stars out of five.

****

And for those of you playing along at home, yes, this technically is the 100th review and so therefore should be included. This review receives 3 stars for not having much to offer in the way of witty musings, and for having a faulty overall rating method, but for packing so many subjects and links into one review.

***

Christmas 2005

Be sure to check out Nate’s review of Christmas cards that this review “posted over” tonight. Sorry Nate, I’m just trying to take care of the Christmas Night Media Blitz.

One more down, and lots more to go. It’s not like I hate Christmas, it’s just that I’m a good number of years away from when Christmas was truly an event. I’d like to think that this isn’t just a product of having grown past the age of getting excited about the concept of new toys, but I think in our crass, commercial-driven society, that might very well be the case. As we always disclaim when mentioning something that is not specifically the review’s topic/title, this isn’t a review of “Christmas,” but of Christmas 2005.

Christmas
Today was a lot like Christmas in July, but even more like Christmas in December.

We usually hesitate to review things using a rigid structure as that significantly affects the “delivery” of our jokes, insights, etc. that our readership expects of us. I’d call out Kurt’s review of some computer magazine that he did suspiciously near the launching of this website as an example of this, but being that he runs his site on his computer in his dorm room, it’ll be unavailable until he’s back on campus. Needless to say, that review will be the focal point of my review of his site. Anyway, we will go through the day mentioning those “rigid structures,” but not in some sort of bulleted list.

Needless to say, today was incredibly warm for the season. Downright “mild” as the weatherman might say. Some enjoy these equitorial temperatures, but it’s just not right, especially on Christmas. Beyond that, it was rainy. Way rainy. There’s something to be said for snow on Christmas, but of course we remember three years ago when all it did was make the roads treacherous, but rain on Christmas…that’s just dreary. Heck, if we’re lucky, it’ll go below freezing tonight so that it’s a commuting disaster tomorrow morning. Minus 1 star.

Christmas is more-or-less the beginning of the almost two month “window” and for good reason. It’s been rather true-to-form for a number of years and continues to be, almost moreso each year. Minus 1.

Why do brown sugar and ham go together so well? Chemistry has taught me that reactions are sped up by temperature, so maybe it’s the fact that the ham was served “hors d’oeuvres-style” and the brown sugar crystals had been emplaced on the outside of the ham. All this leads to the fact that when you taste the brown sugar separately from the ham, it’s especially good (remember all the talk about chemical reactions at the beginning of the paragraph? See, the sugar and ham flavors don’t mix until you actually eat it.). Highly recommended. Unfortunately, no desserts were prepared, brought, etc. And oh yeah, every year I end up eating something that doesn’t agree with my constitution. Needless to say, it happened again. Minus 0, Plus 0.

To be honest, gifts really aren’t that big of a deal anymore for the “feel” of Christmas, so they’re immaterial for the review. But, supporting details for the gifts do count. Needless to say, to mention that my brother was dumb-founded by the interface of a modded Xbox and the programs it enables is an understatement, but to be fair, I had a doozy of a time until I got used to all of it. Again, needless to say I could be putting a lot of time in in “tech support.” Of course, that’s no fault but my own, so I can’t hold the Holiday at fault for it. Minus 0, Plus 0.

**½

Christmas 2005 receives two-and-a-half stars due to its nature of being much like most previous Christmases. New to this year was uncharacteristically warm weather and bouts of precipitation that would’ve sent Noah back to the lumberyard. Oh yeah, my family also didn’t/doesn’t have a Christmas Tree because of the super-incompetence of the “contractor” (not) working on our new kitchen and taking up space throughout that part of the house. That’s enough for at least another half-star off.

Christmas Cards


Worst. Christmas. Card. Ever.

I’m taking a little break in my continuing series of reviews on my collection of Nintendo games, but fear not, I still have some doozies to share. That’s right. I just said “Doozy”.

I didn’t send out Christmas cards last year. It was kinda a big deal because the year before, I had found these absolutely stupid cards that (in obvious attempts to not show any sort of holiday, save the season of winter, which isn’t much of a holiday if you ask me) featured a dog in a doghouse, outside, in a snowy scene, while people were inside enjoying some egg nog or whatever you crazy kids drink these days. There was actually no writing on the inside (at least none that was important enough for me to remember), and so I wrote something about wishing people that their holidays were filled with many dogs freezing in the cold, a mean-spirited Christmas wish that was poking fun at the actual card more than actually wishing that people would let their dog freeze. A good laugh was had by many, except for the heartless.

I’m not sure what the reason was last year for me to be so lax in my Christmas-type things, but in any case, I didn’t send out cards. This year, six months after graduation, it’s the first holiday in four years that I haven’t been with my college friends at some time remotely near Christmas/Hanukkah, so I figured that it would be as good a time as any to send cards with some catching up, sort of brief, remotely witty notes from myself. I believe that I started this like two weeks ago (the 8th), thinking that I would be able to find addresses for people that I haven’t talked to since graduation in that amount of time. The bad part about this is that it’s like one of those high school/college essays/projects that you get at the beginning of the year and you know you need to work on it. You spend each week thinking about a goal (“I’ll have this much written by Friday”), but then other work, and all the toils and troubles of daily life prevent you from getting to it. The work just sits there, because you know you only have a few minutes of free time and really need at least an hour free for it to even be worth working on. Then finally the due date comes, but instead of the project being worth 50% of your grade, you realize that it’s just for bonus points and you really don’t need to do it. You may want to because you’re only getting a n 8% in the class, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

That was a long metaphor for where I’m at right now. The only things that are really still keeping me interested in sending these cards are that I spent the money on them, I spent the time to write them out, and they’re nice little things for people that I haven’t talked to in a while to receive, which is the reason why I bought them in the first place. That, and keeping in touch with them increases my chances of one day being actually employed in the real world…. but mostly just to be that guy who tries to keep in touch with people.

Getting more to the point at hand; Chirstmas cards are the one thing that allow us to decide the difference between friends&acquaintances, and just people we know. (I put the word “acquantance” as a separate category of people, higher than “people we know”) It’s almost a less important version of trying to figure out who to invite to your wedding. The difference in that case is that the acquaintances don’t get invited. When it comes to Christmas cards, everyone is fair game for sending. Remember that distant aunt who used to pinch your cheeks and you’d sometimes go to visit at her house about ten years ago when she fed you pimento loaf, because she loved it, while you just rolled it up and gave it to the dog? If you don’t send her a card, she’ll probably think you’ve forgotten who she is, and she’ll be so devastated that she’ll probably leave you out of her will, and there goes that original press version of “A Tale of Two Cities” that you always wanted. You really need to come up with a list of people that you know, no matter where from, and decide whether these people are worth knowing anymore or not, because face it, when they don’t get a Christmas card from you, consider yourself ignored when you see them at the mall.

Of course if you are a member of the Christmas card-sending group of people (many of you aren’t, for shame), it’s actually a more akward thing sometimes to receive them. Say your aunt’s neighbor, Sheila, used to babysit you when you were visiting the aunt, and the aunt went out to play parchese. Say Sheila, after many times of having read you “Goodnight Moon”, but not having spoken to her in ten years, decides to send you a Christmas card. Is it now a prerequisite that you, in turn, add her to your list? If so, do you hustle to get her one before the holiday season is over, or just say “aww to hell with it”, and add her to the bottom of next year’s cards (no doubt the ugly leftovers from Christmas Card packs past)?

I guess for me it boils down to the point that I would like to send these cards out, even though the only thing I’ll be getting in return is some vague idea that people somewhere are getting my well-wishes for the season. My problem is that it’s so low on my priority list (plus getting addresses for 30 people takes a lot of legwork) that these cards will more than likely turn into Martin Luther King Jr. Day Cards (although I would hope not, because the cards really don’t have much to do with Civil Rights… in fact half of them are about yet another dog freezing in the snow). I would hope that people would understand, and be happy because they’re at least getting cards, which, if you’re my age, is something that happens quite rarely. Or perhaps better rephrased “…which, if you’re ME, is something that happens quite rarely”.

**½
I’m torn on the subject of Christmas cards, because while they create an enormous hassle and a (sometimes deadly) higherarchy of friends/acquaintances, they’re also a nice reminder that some people out there (many of whom we haven’t talked to in 5 years) still remember us enough to send us a nice note in the mail. It also feels good to know that people do get them and appreciate them, but bad to know that other people are sending them, and you’re not getting any…. cards, that is… yeah I realized how that sounded and fixed it. I guess I should really go and try to send those out now, but I’ve gotta go get some other stuff done.

Dan’s review of The Myth of Christmas Starting Earlier Every Year


Dan prefers to think the Nessie does exist, because there’s no proof that it doesn’t.

Here we go again. It seems as though, once again, my opinion is wrong and has been invalidated by our site’s speech-impairing oppressor, the same man who makes up words like “opinionary” for use in his reviews. The opinion in question is my agreeance with the masses that the Christmas season is starting a bit earlier than normal this year. I have presented four facts proving that the department stores, media outlets, and product manufacturers have started promoting Christmas-themed items well before Thanksgiving. I provided dates for numerous events that occurred this year, not some vague concept of a time long ago, yet his rambling review is supposed to have more credibility than mine, just because it came more recently? I don’t see how this can fly. Sure, my facts may be wrong, and if presented with proper evedence that shows Santa coming to the mall before November 19th in any past years, or The Grinch airing before November 13th in the past, well then I am all about offering a retraction statement. Unfortunately for my detractors, I have very high doubts about said evidence’s existence. The reality is that Walmart has gone on record stating that their campaign, which started on November 1st this year was the earliest it’s ever been. Toys R US sent their first catalogue out the day after Halloween. Looking at the internet, it seems that either most of the evidence seems to agree with me, or it’s just more popular to agree with my point of view, as I’ve found numerous articles from places like the Chicago Tribune, one of Upstate New York’s top news outlets, and Dan’s favorite, USA Today. Of course, there are stores who are still sticking to the more traditional Thanksgiving-time start to the season, but if just two of those stores would start earlier, I would still be justified in saying that some stores are pushing Christmas merchandise earlier.

I suppose I’m getting away from Dan’s review, so let’s look at it, paragraph by paragraph. First of all, the picture caption. It’s said that I hate Christmas. While I actually laughed at the caption, it’s simply not true. In fact, Christmas is probably my favorite holiday, because there’s actually something to do, unlike the boring Thanksgiving, the all-too-saccharine Easter, and the incredibly depressing Valentine’s Day. Not only that, but nothing in my review states that I have any dislike for the holiday.

Next, he states that I have offered no valid negative effects of Christmas coming earlier each year. If I would’ve offered the negatives, I’m sure I would’ve been chastised for taking up valuable space with cliched arguments that one can find anywhere else on the worldwide web. If my implications in the review weren’t enough, I’ll put them explicitly. The continued expansion of the Christmas season has led to a decline in the amount of celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday, and potentially soon-to-be the Halloween holiday. In addition, the purveyors of said trends run the risk of creating a dissatisfaction with the holiday spirit, weeks before the holiday actually arrives, making it all the less enjoyable for us, the consumer, and the people who have to deal with Christmas songs 24/7.

Next, it is stated that I offered no comparison to years before, which is completely inaccurate. I offer that Santa used to come on Thanksgiving, the entire reason the Macy’s Parade exists in the first place. I also offer that in my childhood, I don’t remember Christmas progamming starting until at least after Thanksgiving, as I used to consider the showing of Rudolph and Frosty to be quite early. I then go on to say that it is completely inappropriate for candy to be Christmas-themed before Halloween, mostly because I’m not used to it being sold that early.

After this, he misreads my attempt at satire (in this specific case, exaggerating the start of the Christmas merchandising season to begin in July) as completely serious. In reality, I was searching for a picture of Santa on the beach, but this was the best picture I could find. I in no way actually believe that the Christmas season would ever start before Halloween (there’s too much merchandising to be made in the Halloween holiday that Thanksgiving doesn’t offer, as well as running the risk of completely alienating their consumers), let alone July.

I suppose that by using this thought process, Dan is literally suggesting that I transform myself into some sort of sheep and time travel back to twenty years ago to see that Christmas music was playing on the radio on November 1st (which is not an exaggeration), see the err of my ways, and come begging on my knees for forgiveness for being “wrong”. I don’t pretend that I’m not agreeing with all the other half-wits who haven’t thought this through, but the last time I disagreed with all the sheep who were following each other in agreeance, I was ripped apart anyway.

I’m not averse to Christmas being a season. In fact, it is a season, and always has been in the Church calendar. But that season starts four weeks before Christmas. Even this year, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, and Advent actually starting five weeks before Christmas, the season doesn’t start until November 27th, again, after Thanksgiving. My point was that this is the first year that I’ve seen significant proof that the people who have been harping on this point for years might be right. My disclaimer at the end effictively showed that in order to see if this is true, we would have to wait until a few years from now. Because I did not have the forethought to write down specific dates of things in the past, does that mean that my opinion should be considered wrong and invalidated? I don’t think so.

**

Dan’s Review of The Myth of Christmas Coming Earlier Every Year gets two stars, mostly because he presented little evidence to prove his case, instead relying on meandering, obscure ideas about the grass being greener on the other side and the probability that old people are wrong simply because they complain a lot and don’t always remember things. I’m not saying that he is wrong, per se, just that it appears as though my evidence greatly outweighs his, thereby lending more credence to my opinion. In addition, for a review that was specifically not supposed to be a review about my review, he spent more time discussing the merits of my ideas, instead of presenting his own case. I may be lashed for speaking out against the upper management, but perhaps this serves to be the last of the unwarranted reviews of other people’s reviews, namely those presented by the Junior Staff.

The Myth of the Christmas Season Coming Earlier Every Year

The Junior Staff has done it again. Instead of reviewing his review per se, I’ll simply re-assess the topic through the lens of having read his review. The issue with his review is simply that it’s plain-old wrong and short-sighted.

Nate hates Christmas.
Nate hates Christmas.

I know that Nate is older than I am (by a whole two months) and that the onset of his old age is even less graceful than mine. Does this mean that he’s moved into the territory of old-cooted-ness? Apparently yes. He offers no truly negative issues relating to the ballooning of the “Christmas Season,” except that it might begin to eventually float into his late-September birthday. In fact, that very day is already marked by a number of historical events and feasts for a a variety of martyrs . Of course, Nate’s birthday isn’t included in these lists, but I’d wager that the populace at large would be more upset that the Christmas Season is encroaching on the anniversary of the Battle of the Sexes tennis match than Nate’s birthday. That out of the way, onto the more general aspects of “the myth.”

Yes, the whole “Christmas-thing” starts early every year. But earlier each year? I doubt it. The Junior Staff offers no comparison to either his youth, his parents’ youth, his grandparents’ youth, or even the creepy old guy’s down the street. In fact, he even says that he has “no historical evidence to back it up.” Now, I’m sure that “way back when,” it was different; the times when people walked to school uphill both ways and Christmas shopping, planning, etc. all began at 10am sharp on December 21st. Those were the “good old days,” and that’s the way they likes it (that’s not a typo). It would seem that the Junior Staff subconsciously remembers those times even though he was born during the Reagan administration. At least ten years ago (probably 15), I remember being at what was then the new BJ’s Wholesale Club on Airport Road. It was mid-September, and guess what, there was a section of the store selling Christmas junk (literally…like those robotic Santas that probably start hundreds of fires each year). Maybe the season starting earlier each year is more widespread than in the past, but it’s not like we see Christmas specials in July and August (Christmas in July sales aren’t Christmas sales, thank you very much). If retailers started pushing Christmas in the summer, it probably wouldn’t get very far, as even though there are people who get their Christmas shopping done extremely early in the year, increasing the amount of Christmas advertising early in the year won’t convert the sane people who take care of it nearer to the actual date.

If Nate wants to complain that it comes early each year, that’s one thing (though it would be a rather trite review, which is probably why he instead reviewed the concept of it coming earlier each year), but giving credence to the myth is just bad news. People like to complain and people like to think it was better in the past. It’s like the story of the sheep who wanted to graze in the neighbor’s grass because it looked better. They went over to the neighbor’s and started to graze, only to then wish they were back on the original side. Well, this whole Christmas Season nonsense is like those sheep, except instead of wanting to graze in the neighbor’s field, they want to use a time machine to graze 20 years ago, when they “remember” that the grass was better. Of course, the grass wasn’t any better and most of them don’t even remember it, and a fair number weren’t even born yet.

Please don’t be one of those time travelling sheep.

*

The Myth of the Christmas Season Starting Earlier Each Year receives one star due to the fact that while not completely a fabrication of the sentimental, it is a greatly exaggerated event. Sure, way back when (maybe the time of Constantine?) Christmas was a day, not a season, but that distinction changed almost equally long ago. In the mean time, the season has grown, but it’s safe to say that it hasn’t been during my (or any of my contemporaries’) lives.

The Myth of the Christmas Season Coming Earlier Every Year


Is this where we’re headed?

I used to think this was a joke; something that hippies and old ladies complain about. “Christmas is getting here earlier every year”. “Yeah, right”, I’d say. “Thanksgiving is still Thanksgiving, and Christmas season doesn’t start until after that, on Black Friday when all the parents of the spoiled children rush to the malls and toystores at five in the morning to fight over a tickle-me-elmo doll.”

That was, of course, until three pieces of information got to me this year. Firstly, last Saturday, November 12th, while visiting Ithaca College, I saw an ad that TBS was running. The Grinch was on, telling us all about how he was going to steal Christmas. This is the old animated Grinch, not the crappy, overhyped, overproduced, overgrossing Jim Carrey atrocity. This was the classic cartoon that gets played every year; as much a part of Christmas as the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” is. Except one thing. They were advertising it because it was airing the next day. That’s right. November freakin 13th marks the official first day of the Christmas television season this year. A full twelve days before shopping season gets into full swing. Of course, this is not to say that Christmas specials have never aired this early. Rudolph and Frosty, etc. usually air around the 7th of December, but that’s forgiveable. Those actually air in the same month as Christmas, without another major holiday between the two. There used to be a time when there actually were Thanksgiving specials (hard to believe, I know). The one I remember had something to do with a bear in a pilgrim suit becoming friends with some other animal (maybe a duck?) dressed as an Indian, and I seem to remember it airing every year. Of course, it could all be a dream, or something I made up because I can’t find it after numerous internet searches.

Secondly: A few days later, I heard a radio ad for the Palmer Park Mall. I’m not sure exactly where that is (Maybe Jersey?). The main focus of the ad was that Santa was coming. HOORAY. Santa’s going to ride in on a fire engine on Thanksgiving day, signifying the coming of the Christmas shopping bonanza. WRONG! Santa is now coming to the mall on the totally arbitrary Saturday the 19th of November…. BEFORE THANKSGIVING! What’s the point? An extra four days to see Santa? Was there really that much of a demand to see Santa last year that kids didn’t get to see him because of time constraints? Are the kids really ready to see Santa this early in the year? I don’t mean to sound paranoid here, but is there some sort of Santa war going on between malls where they’re trying to get there earlier than the next guy to draw more business? Freakin Santa!

Thirdly, while at Redners, pushing the cart for the website’s egomaniacal slavemaster, we were looking near the candy department, by the WALL OF VALUES. And we noticed sweet little hershey candy, wrapped in yuletide colors. Awww, how nice. Green and Red kisses, green and red Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Green and Red Rollos, you get the idea. Really decorative and sweet for your holiday. Except… IT WAS FREAKIN OCTOBER 25th (or thereabouts). This is time to be selling Halloween candy. Pumpkins, and witches, and ghosts, not Christmas trees. I guess the idea is that you can get your Christmas candy early and let it sit in your dish, counting down the days. The one thing that doesn’t cross your mind while waiting for this candy to be in season is that it loses freshness and by the time it actually is December, that candy is more than likely going to break your teeth when you bite into it. The only other reason that I can suggest for the candy being there is that maybe… just maybe, Redners didn’t sell it the year before, which would explain why it was sitting on the WALL OF VALUES!

My point is this: we need to slow down. The earlier we start celebrating Christmas, the sooner we run out of material, and we’re forced to create four additional Charlie Brown specials, or watch Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey look as though they’re having seisures while singing carols, or I don’t know, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” all four times that NBC shows it. We’ll be celebrating in September soon enough, and then my birthday will become engulfed in the massive Holiday that’s enveloped the rest of the fourth quarter of the year. And that’s the real shame of it all. Let’s not let that happen. For the children.

I forgot one thing. Sunny 104.5 in Philly is now playing all holiday music. They started last week (November 15th about). With over a month of this stuff, you’d think your head would explode.

****

The Myth of the Christmas Season Starting Earlier and Earlier gets four stars as it seems to be true, but I have no historical evidence to back it up. Next year, we’ll compare the dates for the Grinch special and Santa’s first day at work, then we’ll see.