Monday, December 30, 2013 1:44 AM
On Bill Moyers tonight a guy said, ‘There’s really only two sides: kindness and cruelty.’ And I agree. When all detail is scraped away, a kind person will do what they can, and a cruel person will do what they can get away with. The main obstacle to that clarity is human history. We start focusing on debts, borderlines, dogmas, politics, and whose dad could beat the other guy’s dad. The cruel side uses all this ‘white-noise’ to tap-dance endlessly around the simple issue of ensuring that no one starves to death.
My South African friend became quite exercised about we Americans always bringing up Apartheid. (On Bill Moyers they also talked about Mandela’s turning away from revenge or bitterness towards his oppressors—and how that was as rare a thing as a thing can be.) I think South Africans have a false sense of how easy it is to end bigotry—their miraculous, overnight switch from apartheid to equality, as an entire nation, could have gone in many different, less peaceful, directions after Mandela’s release from prison.
But the funniest thing on TV today was mentioned on both Bill Moyers and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly—The new Pope, Francis, is throwing a huge monkey-wrench into the neo-con evangelists’ secularizing of Christianity. He reminds the world that ending poverty and hunger must be a Christian’s highest priority, Catholic or otherwise—this flies in the face of pious Republicans whose decidedly selfish narrative ‘explains’ cutting food stamps for poor families and refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy.
The Roman Catholic Church, prior to Francis, was a major banking institution and the single biggest holder of real estate around the globe—an institution soaked in power and property—and was thus reliably on the side of big business and high finance. Pope Francis’s new thrust seems to be a sharp break with expectations. He wants Christians to live their faith: mercy, charity, and love—and he’s not inclined to spiral off into some distraction that allows the status to stay quo. Recently, the Pope even mentioned the existence of atheists like myself—and not as damned souls doomed to perdition, either!
This pleases me more than I can say. I was happy enough to hear that the Catholic Church had finally seen the light, vis-à-vis pederasty and general corruption amongst the priesthood, and would no longer consider buggery an ‘old tradition’, but rather as the crime it was always (quietly) known to be. But now—O, to have a Pope stand up and tell the world that we don’t know what Christianity is. If Christians want to be worthy of their faith they have to act like Christians. They have to believe in mercy towards, charity for, and love of our fellow men and women.
You know, people talk about the Jews having to avoid the flesh of scavengers, like pigs and shellfish; or the Muslims having to pray four times a day (or is i
t 5?). But Christians get a pass. To believe in Christ is to want to follow his teachings—which say plenty about the poor and the outcast, but nothing at all about mortgage derivatives or early foreclosures. There was a story about J. K. Rowling in the news this week—she was a billionaire, but now she’s given away so much to charities that she’s become a mere multi-millionaire. I was shaking my head at the thought that this was news—it was news because no one else had ever f*#king done the same.
But between her, Bill and Melinda Gates, billions of US $s in foreign aid, and the Catholic Church, we still have starving kids and homeless victims of a global system that says, ‘not my problem.’ Just within the USA alone, we have erosion in our beautiful Capitalist sand-castle—Detroit declared bankruptcy a while ago—the whole city. Of course, rich people can move. But what does civil bankruptcy mean to the Detroit denizens that were already broke before the crisis? It means that what little support the poor were getting there will become no support at all. A major city in the USA!—O how the mighty have f*#ked up.
And often we hear about the churches of all denominations being the major source of soup kitchens, charities and volunteer work. There’s only one problem with that—nobody goes to church much anymore. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger—but there are definitely a lot of people besides just me, all staying home from church—some just lazy, yeah, but a lot that just don’t have religion in their lives now. A lot of Catholics are staying away because of the betrayal of sexual misconduct committed by their once most-trusted and respected civic leaders, their local priests. And don’t even ask about the number of young men deciding to enter the priesthood–who in their right mind would jump into that abyss?
I don’t want to go into that cesspool of a subject, but my point is—the church is no longer the core of a town or a neighborhood. And without the collections funds, the charities have no cash to operate. It is time we stopped looking to church charities and began implementing something more secular. We could call it “The Centers For People We’ve Finally Stopped Pretending Weren’t Suffering” (“…and stuff”, as Derek Zoolander might say).
Well, I Googled, so now I know the guy on “Bill Moyers” was Thomas Cahill—and he was right: ‘There’s really only two sides: kindness and cruelty.’
Happy New Year!
Okay, I have a long one here, 20 minutes or so of xmas carol songs–I neglected to sing along, so it’s just the piano part.
Then I did two improvs in that same recording session that I’m calling ‘xmas stuff’ & ‘more xmas stuff’.
And the final upload, a left-over from a few days back, totally non-holiday-related.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 4:54 PM
James S S
18 hours ago via mobile · Like
Janine S C
What type of group is this ?
13 hours ago via mobile · Like
Randy W D
I have the same question, what’s this group about?
5 hours ago · Like
I think it’s about love, freedom, idealism, sharing, music, light, and the good stuff—like all groups, n’est-ce pas?
2 hours ago · Like
Freedom? Love? Sharing? LOL. America is slowly losing freedom because everyone takes their freedom for granted and try to use it against the law. No one knows what love is, having over 50% of divorce rate just in America. No one pays any attention to anyone else unless they’re dating, close friends or family. Other than that, they are wasting their life away on their phone playing Candy Crush or tweeting like a fucking stupid ass bird.
28 minutes ago · Like
Freedom is the willingness to die for what you care about—it can’t be given or taken. Who said marriage?—we just met, man! Besides, love and marriage are two diff things. What have you to say about idealism?
25 minutes ago · Like
That is why I only said those 3 topics. But, marriage comes with love. And family is unconditional love, you grow up to naturally love your guardian. Freedom is the ability to do what you want, but America has regulations. Technically every other country has more freedoms than America. (aside from freedom of religion and cultural beliefs/practices). In other countries, we would be allowed to just walk outside our house and go and kill someone if we wanted to. (Not saying this in all countries, but it’s partially true. People join the army to sacrifice their life in order to have the people they love to live in freedom and safety. Just saying.
20 minutes ago · Like
And when I say marriage, I mean the traditional marriage where the two mates actually love each other and want to make their relationship official forever. Not when military people get married to make more money or other meanings other than love. Which is the reason that most marriages end in divorce.
18 minutes ago · Like
America has a constitution that says what we can’t do, and we are legally permitted to do anything else. It isn’t against the law to do anything unless there’s a law against it. In other countries, the constitution sets out what is allowed, and reserves the right to arrest you for doing anything that isn’t on the list. That is why America has more freedom than anywhere else.
12 minutes ago · Edited · Like
Most marriages end in divorce because mostly young people get married—Claire and I have been married for 34 years, but we had to learn to live with each other—lust is easy, living together is hard.
14 minutes ago · Like
Ehhh, understandable. Just people take their freedoms for granted. There are quite a lot of people that know how to settle down and be with a person they love. Others just don’t, and most guys now treat girls like shit to the point of girls just treating guys like shit. (I.E. My parents. Mom was treated bad, almost didn’t marry my Dad.)
12 minutes ago · Like
People don’t treat each other very well. I don’t know how to fix that except for not joining in. And people take EVerything for granted—I was only a day or two away from dying of liver cancer, then all of a sudden I got a liver transplant—and I haven’t taken much of anything for granted in the ten years since.
8 minutes ago · Like
It’s just annoyingly pathetic, hearing all these people that complain for not getting a black iphone but got a white one, or getting 400 dollars instead of an Iphone. Or when someone is trying to help a friend that is being suicidal and the suicidal person just treats that friend like shit (been there done that so many times) Please do take into account that I’m only 18 and talking like this.
5 minutes ago · Like
The duality is funny, don’t you think? No one is as giddy and thrilled with life as someone who has just narrowly avoided a fatal car crash. Most successful people grew up in tough conditions and that makes them tough and strong and ambitious to get something better—children of successful people grow up with the best of everything—and end up being weaker and less able to compete. It’s crazy
5 minutes ago · Like
You can’t help people that don’t want your help—sad, but the simple truth. 18 is a good year in only one way—no subsequent year will be nearly as hard to live through. Also, don’t go looking for bad stuff—look for good stuff, or just enjoy what you have…
5 minutes ago · Like
I don’t complain about much of anything. Literally the only thing I ask from my parents is some money for soda or gas, that’s literally it. I’m happy with everything I have. Computer, Xbox 360, some games, netflix, a house, food and my parents. They are paying for my college so I try hard to not ask for much. But other than that, I’m quite happy. I’d love to have more, but I’m not a brat about it. it’s just the fact that when you try and help a person, they shoot you down, but later come to you crying for help.
2 minutes ago · Like
Your peers are eighteen too, which means that they will all be kinda selfish and manipulative–you may even catch yourself at it once in a while.
Thursday, December 12, 2013 3:30 PM
“For old Ralph, former top quick draw artist,
lousy guitar player, tossed in the ground yesterday[…]”
— (c) Dec. 12th, 2013 by Dean J. Baker http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/
I highly recommend Dean Baker’s blog “Dean J. Baker – Poetry, and prose poems”. I read this today, from his poetry-blog, and it struck me how my take on these words would differ from that of others’. You see, I’ve been playing lousy piano for most of my life, and I’m proud of it.
We bad musicians are an elite few—we cannot restrain ourselves from playing badly, figuring lousy music is better than none—we don’t concern ourselves with bad reviews because we’ve never gotten a good one. (O, sure, you get those fake good reviews from people who love you—but they only highlight the lack of enthusiasm amongst strangers.)
It doesn’t surprise me that Old Ralph was homeless—we lousy musicians are easy prey amongst the people that face reality, that have black and white judgments on things—we need our dreams and we don’t see any great value in tearing them down. We dislike the smart-alecks who insist that hungry is hungry and cold is cold—as if we have never been hungry and cold (or, as if they ever had been).
It is the voice of fear. Yes, fear has its place—but I’m convinced that we’ve taken ‘fear’ into a strange, new place. We’re not concerned so much about climate change, but we fight like dogs over water rights. We’re not concerned so much for fundamentalists who endorse ignorance over curiosity, but we argue late into the night about why God created us 10% homosexual and how we should treat that 10%.
We witness politicians legitimize fear with legislation. We see capitalists use our fears against us. We see major faiths enshrine age-old fears. And more and more we see the powerful super-wealthy advertising their most cherished fears as if they were common sense—actually spending money to form puppet NPOs and buying airtime to spread their solipsisms from coast to coast.
We can never go back, either. When society makes a technological advance these days it is pre-formatted to fit in with the existing tech (think USB ports). To fail to use the new, next thing is to be instantly mired in obsolescence. High-finance types and legislators use this to their advantage—if they can put in a fix, the world goes by too fast for anyone else to undo their treachery (think the ‘derivatives market’). And the truly gigantic egos that struggle to keep their hands on that tiller—well, their interests aren’t exactly congruent with the 99%.
But I digress. Shying away from advanced tech, or circumventing tech altogether, as the Amish sometimes do, is only protected by the massive civilization that surrounds them—this is a dead end, as it would put us even further under the sway of the top of the pyramid. See ‘hippy communes’ for more information regarding the abuse of power in a small community—and how it makes just as much trouble as the super-wealthy do in their element, i.e. world domination.
Thus we are disabused of the fantasy of idyllic retreat. Pollution, de-forestation, and gorging on non-renewable resources are all in fast-forward mode. We can’t turn our backs on the entrenched powers-that-be, because they are rushing pell-mell towards the destruction of the planet. And speaking of speed, this situation isn’t static—the human race has jumped onto a speeding, out-of-control train—we have to fix things with one hand as we hang on for dear life with the other.
Which brings up another problem—we already have a lot of problems, many of them involving hunger or hatred, and we can interrupt any effort to alleviate one of those problems simply by pointing out that some other problem is being neglected—the politicians keep us running in circles while little change is realized. We now have a full panel of distractions (other problems) the number of which is so large that conversations may go on for days without reaching any clear point.
So, yes, I say that maintaining our dreams is invaluable—and this applies to easily disproved fantasies as well—because modern problems surround us, threaten us, every damn day. We must do what we can, try as we might—in spite of our society appearing to head full-speed towards its own destruction—and in that struggle for change and the struggle to survive, to care for our families and their futures, we need a little rest stop now and again. If I pretend to be a piano player, where’s the harm? If I was trying to interrupt a concert at Carnegie Hall so I could play for the audience myself—well, that’s just plain crazy—and I am by no means endorsing crazy (another time, perhaps). But if I just play to myself there’s no reason to cure me of that delusion other than cruelty or spite.
And so I mourn old Ralph, the lousy guitar player—and I mourn the loss of his brave example, playing guitar to soothe his soul — even when others didn’t applaud.
Monday, December 09, 2013 7:57 PM
If I stop and think about it, I can barely remember what was ‘important’ two weeks ago. There was a government shutdown, a chemical weapon in Syria, a record-breaking typhoon devastated the Philippines, a record-breaking cold snap in the whole western half of our country—there were a lot of things. But whenever something newer comes up, suddenly the disasters and shutdowns are passé and the new ‘News’ is all that matters. It happened with Zimmerman’s third arrest on gun-nut charges, it happened when Miley Cyrus twerked her ass on TV, and it happens when a wife throws her brand-new hubby off a cliff during their honeymoon.
It all changes so fast, so randomly, that when something like Nelson Mandela’s death is reported, it almost hits us in the breadbasket (emotionally speaking). The sudden appearance of a terrible loss like that is out of place in the corn-popping procession of fear-mongering, bear-baiting, and trivia that the News normally shows. And, as happened after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, some conservative politicians were publicly embarrassed by archival videos of remarks they made concerning Mandela before history exalted him to his rightful place among world leaders.
The scariest part is that the President and First Lady, former Pres. and Mrs. Bush, and former Pres. and former Secretary of State Clinton—are all attending Mandela’s memorial in South Africa. And this is at the same time that concerns are being expressed about the ethical vacuum that the great leader left in his wake. It may be a tumultuous ceremony with who knows how many dangers for these American Executives, past and present. If I ran the Secret Service, I’d be sweating bullets over the possibility of some chaos or rioting breaking out.
The ‘next president’ was a concern shared by George Washington—our first president of a free nation—and few precedents were set during his office that might be turned to abuse of power by any subsequent office-holder. To wield power without setting precedents is virtually impossible—and like Washington, Mandela’s journey to leadership was a refining fire that few would afterwards endure. Finding a replacement even half as selfless and visionary will be no easy task.
We see this in the reports of young South Africans for whom Apartheid is a chapter in a history book, not something they truly appreciate—paradoxically, because their parents and grandparents had already gone through the struggle. In making their country free, they have taken the steel out of their children’s lives. This Catch-22 of history always appears, taking the children of the generations that fought in the Revolution, or in WWII, or in ending Apartheid, and making them ignorant of the price of their liberty, because it was there from their first memories—a fact of life.
That is not to say that I would be afraid to walk around in South Africa—they’re bound to be more civilized than the denizens of NYC, or at least more polite. Politically, however, there may be numerous factions who are waiting for their own specific ‘shoe’ to drop—and this time and place could easily become a downpour of shoes. Not the best place, perhaps, for the President of the United States—still, Mandela’s legacy deserves that recognition and more.
It’s difficult to describe my feelings about modern history. Two of the greatest heroes of my lifetime were Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela—both men (and their huge followings) were in a pitched battle with Caucasians like myself, except for the fact that those many Caucasians believed in racism. I’m happy to be on the losing side. I’m sad that I look like those idiots, the White Supremacists and the even-worse closeted bigots who never speak straight about their own hate. I’m relieved that the thrust of history is driving this ignorance from modern cultures. I’m afraid that being pale-skinned makes me part of the problem—even though my sentiments are entirely pro-unity. It’s difficult to describe—especially because my problems pale in comparison with all the non-whites who still face a torrent of bias every day.
In my youth, protestors would see TV cameras and start chanting, “The whole world is watching… The whole world is watching….” And back then it was true—broadcast TV had three major networks and those networks decided what ‘the world’ saw. Protest strategy of the time was targeted towards getting a news camera to show up—that was all that mattered. And if the protestors were lucky, Johnny Carson might make a joke about them in his monologue—which legitimized whatever cause it was as being of national importance. It didn’t seem as strange then as it does now to describe it—it was all part of the culture back then.
Nowadays, the whole world is not ‘watching’, the world is surfing the web and texting on its I-phones. The only unification to be found is the phenomenon of the ‘viral video’—the only trouble with these clips is that they are never of any use or value—other than that they are all something we all agree are delightful distractions. Do not hold your breath waiting for the first viral video about trigonometry or astrophysics.
Will South Africa be able to stick to its founding president’s goals and ideals? Only the people of South Africa can decide—I hope for the best for them—nothing would be more tragic than for Nelson Mandela’s dream to die with him.
Sunday, December 08, 2013 8:01 PM
Super-Spencer! The grasshopper has become the master! My computer suddenly decided that logging in as myself was a system error—it’s amazing how electronics can find an infinite number of ways to piss a person off—I’ve been at it (electronically) since the Bicentennial and in all those 37 years I’ve seen a lot of computer errors, but this was a new one.
I messed around with it for a while, but not being able to login as ‘xperdunn’ (the only login with Admin powers) I was stumped as to how to fix it—Spencer came upon the scene and offered to help—what a man, huh? So, I went back to bed and Spencer worked on the problem—late that night, and all the next day, and the next… He forum-ed and he downloaded and he searched the internet—although the problem was a common one, the only people on the ‘login/sys error’ forums were systems managers—so when he finally found a fix, it turned out to be only valid for Win7-Professional, whereas I, like an idiot, had Win7-HomeDeluxe or whatever it’s called.
Now, I’d spent years as a systems manager and I knew how lonely and desperate the search for solutions to new errors can be—the worst ones had me searching and trying and banging my head against the wall for days. At some point, I’d lose the ability to think about anything else; I’d lie awake and try to make sense of the kaleidoscope of pieces of information, trying to determine what was pertinent and what was noise.
And here’s the weirdest part: when I finally found a fix and got the whole system up and running again, I’d have gone so deeply into unfamiliar territory that I wasn’t quite sure exactly how I’d fixed it. Strange, right? But that’s what happens. If the problem recurred, I’d almost have to start from scratch to fix the thing—the only ‘easy’ error-fixes were the ones that happened so often I became familiar with the fix.
And, while I was a little concerned about not knowing exactly how to fix something I’d just fixed, I was still a long way from the rest of that office, the people that just hung out and waited for the Geek to fix the computer. Those folks could be a mixed bag—some resented me not fixing something instantly, some were very grateful that I had finally restored the computer, and some didn’t care one way or the other. More importantly, none of them had the slightest idea what torture a new error can be—there’s no guarantee that I’d find an answer (although, somehow, I always did). It was impossible to take a break from an error problem since it kept everyone else sitting around waiting for me to do my job—if I sat around, even a few minutes—I’d get the stink-eye from management, i.e. ‘how dare I?’
I taught Spencer a lot about computer fixes—he was interested, so I’d walk him through what I was doing—even before he was out of grade school. We used to get phone calls from grateful parents of play-date friends—they’d say, ‘We’ve been trying everything to fix our PC and your son just pressed a few buttons and fixed the whole thing.’ It made me ridiculously proud of him—I could barely contain myself.
But now that my brain is on permanent vacation, I can’t deal with such things like I used to. And to have my boy find a real killer error’s fix for me—I just can’t tell you how happy I am. And I’m pretty happy about having my computer back, too.
Sunday, December 01, 2013 3:32 PM
Well, it’s December, at least—long past the appropriate time to bring up the holiday season, to most marketers. But Xmas is not so easily tamed. We give our thanks in November, we give our presents in December, and we give ourselves new goals at New Year’s, the first day of next year. Xmas is in the middle but gets the lion’s share of the focus—giving things to each other calls to that materialism we all have at least a spark of—but it is an event, and in so many senses, more engaging than the more ritualistic form of the ‘book-ends’ holidays.
So I prefer to keep each event to its place and I never begin to play Xmas carols on the piano (and worse yet, sing) until December 1st. Xmas has pressure enough—and in the nadir of Winter—with the expectations needing filling and the mandatory purchases having unbalanced a recently comfortable account balance.
More’s the pity—the Winter fest of Europe’s ancienter times was a blow-out in every sense of the word—even sometimes electing a ‘governing fool’ who gave orders to the gentry—but always including drinking too much, brawling for no reason, and debauchery among the adults of the community. Even burning down a house or two was considered no great extreme—and the first thing the Reformed Protestant Churches did was outlaw the celebration of Twelfth Night, or Yuletide.
This did not stop people from celebrating—and it’s my guess that the raucous outburst of pent-up tension was the very best way to prepare for the group to live all huddled together, indoors, for most of the winter. Today, with stress an unavoidable fact of life, it makes little sense to have the holidays be filled with guilts and repressions—as it is celebrated by a tremendous number of Americans today. But even that undertow of familial and social demands on the celebrants does not define Xmas (no matter what Chevy Chase would have us believe).
I believe that Xmas has become an emotional refuge, its most important function being to allow us the fantasy, at least for a day or few, of thinking our lives have the same simplicity and cyclic regularity that those pagans once enjoyed. Most rituals have been stripped away from modern life, aside from weddings and birthdays—the number of people with ashes on their brow on Ash Wednesday is so sparse that it can disturb non-Catholics coming upon it the first time that day—they impulsively tell one he or she has a smudge on their forehead.
Those fortunate enough to be raising children focus the entirety of the ‘Season’ to their children’s (hopefully) treasured memories—the things parents hope their children will reproduce with their own families, some day. And no childhood fantasy is so seriously guarded as the ‘belief in Santa Claus’. This dichotomy between kids and adults has its good side, I guess, but I could never see it as different from ‘lying’, so we had no great emphasis on Santa’s reality—the kids are more interested in the presents, anyway.
That it is a stupid idea is confirmed, by my reckoning, by the number of stupid Christmas movies that focus on the maintenance of this myth as a humorous plot point.
Xmas has to do with being in the northern states, Washington to Maine, or thereabouts, and walking through snow to bring your freshly chopped-down pine tree into your living room. Anything else is not a Hollywood-approved location for this coziest of holidays—one can never feel quite as good about oneself as when donating to (or better yet, feeding) the wretched poor when the ground is covered with snow.
New York City has a slightly different take on the season, but is still within prescribed conditions to be a ‘real’ Christmas. It adds a lovely dollop of urbanity—window displays, municipal decorations, office parties (though not as solid a tradition as once was) and seeing the toys in FAO Schwarz’s and the big Xmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, on ones way to Radio City Music Hall for the traditional “Nutcracker” show.
But the full-on, tradition-filled Christmas happens in New England—plenty of indigenous pine trees, a good chance of snow on the ground (before Climate Change, anyway) and tree ornaments that may have passed down through three or four generations. Ordinarily, the head of the clan will have ‘the family’ to their big house and make a short week of the holiday.
I watch nothing but the Hallmark Channel for the whole of December—I can’t get enough of these crazy movies—Elves fall in love with humans; Santa’s son doesn’t want to take over Christmas; a poverty-stricken family somehow find themselves living in a big, beautiful house in a lovely, loving, small town; Santa’s sleigh is stuck in the shop; A reindeer with a fluorescent nose flies at the front of Santa’s team—you know the drill.
However, it isn’t entirely Hallmark’s fault—it was Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” that gave Christmas its wish-fulfillment aspect. It was his idea that the ‘Christmas Spirit’ was a mandatory giver of grace to even the most twisted misanthrope. The idea that hard-nosed business-people were a blight on society wasn’t new, but the ludicrous suggestion that they can be convinced to open their hearts one day a year… —all Dickens.
And now Hallmark channel has evolved into a cornucopia of sappy, sentimental hogwash, non-stop for 25 full days of nothing but Xmas movies. I am fascinated by their transmutation of human ritual into wish-fulfillment fantasies and Cinderella-type romances. There’s plenty of sneaky elves doing magic and smirking behind a corner at the surprised humans—there are plenty of BFFs that make seemingly trivial remarks that resonate with the movie’s plot-line (or it’s title—which in some cases is the movie in a nutshell, for example: “Snow Globe”).
But sometimes I catch them in a new bit of blasphemy—this year (unless I didn’t notice in previous years) was the use of the tag-line, ‘Hallmark, the Heart of Joy’! Can you imagine? “Joy: def. Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness”. In a religious context (if I may suggest that Xmas has a religious context) ‘joyfulness’ is the ecstasy felt by those who worship the newborn son of God. I’m sure Hallmark was just looking for a generic word, like ‘tinsel’ or ‘stocking’, to suggest Xmas without confining their audience to any specific religion—but in my opinion, ‘Joy’ can be seen as overstepping by sensitive folks like me.
Besides, Joy is pretty strong language, especially when describing the most shamelessly sugary genre of cinema in the world today. Maybe ‘Hallmark, the Heart of Sweet’ ? If you want to see something crazy, check out the Xmas Movies listing of your current cable provider, TV, Hulu, or Netflix—thousands of these films—and Hallmark makes five or ten new ones every year, just to cement their place at the forefront of kitsch. So I guess it’s what you call a ‘guilty pleasure’ for me to watch these movies on Hallmark channel for hours on end. I don’t approve of Hallmark’s immersion in the treacle of holiday sentiment—far from it.
Hallmark has a much older claim than computers to destroying our literate holiday traditions—the whole point of a card, back when, was that you made it yourself—put some thought and feeling into it. Lots of people still do that, but very few Americans—‘we care enough to send the very best’, as Hallmark once drummed into our ears, back when they were merely a greeting card company. All the little notes and present tags and letters from old friends—they are nowhere to be seen in modern American Xmases.
So I lie in bed and allow the false joy of Hallmark channel to wash over me. I wonder about the kids of today—how much of their holiday season is torn from their focus on the gadgets they all have now? How many kids get sleds for Xmas, compared to how many get the latest gaming consoles or handheld electronics? And I wonder at the power of my conditioning as a child, that even now as an atheist of decades, I still think Xmas has great value and should be treasured for whatever few truly human exchanges of love and joy (and presents) it still engenders, in spite of the tinsel.