Friday, December 18, 2009

twelve joys of christmas

so, christmas is pretty rad. here's 12 reasons (in honor of 'the 12 days of christmas' - whatever that means):

1. presents.

presents are awesome. i know that i shouldn't lead the list of the best things about christmas with presents, but screw it, i really like presents. i like to receive and give. the most memorable present i ever received was a red rider bb gun from my parents. i cried because i was expecting a sweet GIJOE toy. it was a strange time of growing up and embracing the shooting of real guns, rather than just the toy ones that i had imagined to fire for so long.

2. food.

christmas, like every other holidy, is an excuse to eat. i've already gained a few pounds and i'm just warming up. christmas features office parties, candies and cookies, roast duck and egg nogg. these are a few of my favorite things.

3. bars.

nothing beats going to a bar around christmas and running into a bunch of people you haven't seen for a long time. in my hometown, it's a place called 'the palace' that everybody congregates at. i sweat nervously the entire night hoping that i won't run into... well i don't know who i am trying to avoid, but if i see him/her this year, i will freak out.

4. shopping

not really, i hate shopping. it's the worst. next year i am going to hire somebody to go and stand in line and purchase the things i pick out. this person will be my own personal elf.

5. snow.

it never snows. and when it does snow, i complain about it being cold and taking me longer to get where i am going. that being said, there should be snow at christmas. i blame bing crosby for this prevailing notion.

6. christmas music.

i used to loathe all christmas music until i married a christmas music fanatic. i could do without paul mccartney's "wonderful christmas time" still, but other than that, i'm starting to come around.

7. the new year

every year i talk myself into talking about how much i don't care about new years eve and all the hoopla that comes along with it. in reality, i like hoopla and i like making a big-to-do about stuff that doesn't really matter. i like going out and celebrating calendars. i like making resolutions that i invariably will not keep. most of all, i like celbrating the "eve" of a holiday more than the holiday itself. great move, america (and the rest of the world (except china), i guess).

8. traditions.

my family has ice cream sundaes ever christmas eve. on christmas morning, we open our stockings, and then open gifts one at a time and say things like "ooh" and "ahh" when a family member opens a flannel shirt or wall sconce. my dad then cooks a huge-ass breakfast and i eat half of my weight in sausage and biscuits. traditions rule.

9. parties.

these days, if you throw a party around december 25, it apparently has to be a "tacky sweater" party. this is unnecessary, but i continue to appreciate the increase in parties thrown during the last month of the year. one year, i went to a christmas party as will ferrell as robert goulet. i didn't break character all night and it was the best. i even sang "favorite things" and said things like, "i bet you would look good washing my dishes."

10. decorations.

decorating the tree with heidi was sweet this year. appetizers and cocktails while throwing some ornaments on a tree. 1 in 5 of those ornaments will be eaten by our dog. i'm a sucker for houses with lots of lights on. i check out the christmas tree in every house i enter. i still think that people should put real lighted candles on their trees.

11. christmas cookies

i know i mentioned food earlier, but cookies deserve their own section. my mom used to make about 400 varieties of cookies every year and it was open season as far as how many sweets i could consume in a given day. these days, my wife makes about 4,000 cookies-a-week and it continues to be open season. cookies are better around christmas time because it's cold, it's the holidays, and it just feels right. that makes sense, right?

12. jesus.

if you remember, this holiday all got started as a celebration of bis birth. every time i read the account of his birth, i am blown away by something. i will never be able to grasp the significance and overwhelming nature of the whole thing, but that produces awe and wonder, and i'm content with that.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2009: the year of...

with the annual tradition of "best of" lists popping up all over the place, it's time to become reflective and contemplative about the year that was and the year that is to come (note to readers, if i catch any of you referring to 2010 as '010, i swear that i will kick you in the throat with jean claude van dame-force. 2010 can be referred to as either "twenty ten," "two thousand ten" or "ten." that's it. not any of this"o-ten" crap. i've been hearing it lately, and it has to stop)

the latest events engulfing the golf community and beyond (get it: engulf and golf... they sound the same), have drawn focus yet again to the age-old tradition of gossip, slander, and salacious accusations. let the games begin!

i know it's been said by others with more grand platforms than my own, but this year has seen some real "doozies" when it comes to lies and cover ups. in fact, as i researched the subject (sitting on the couch and thinking real hard), i came up with a top ten list of lies in the year 2009.

here, in no particular order, are the top ten lies of 2009:

1. tiger woods

being the most fresh of the bunch, we'll start here. this story is far from over because tiger is still lying. while he doesn't owe us, the public, anything, his continued refusal to address the issue in a forthright manner guarantees that the intrigue and skepticism will continue. the problem that tiger currently faces is the apparent life of lies that he has perpetuated. you couldn't pay me enough to be famous. because of the pressure put on somebody of tiger's stature by himself and others, his dominance on the golf course pales in comparison to the pressure in his daily life. sinking a 40-foot putt on the 18th green to win the masters is a cakewalk compared to having to be perfect in the eyes of the world. it's not fair, but it is the reality, especially when your name is tiger.

2. alex rodriguez

a-rod has to be sitting back in his hot tub and having a good laugh with k-hud. "hey kate, how 'bout tiger? man, i thought i was going down as the most tormented athlete of the year, but now, i'm off the hook..." to which kate hudson replies, "i'm just glad that you're not going to try and off yourself now when i dump you like my ex with the funny nose did last year..." (too soon? never?)

but seriously, does anybody even remember what it felt like when serena roberts announced that she was going to expose a-rod as a steroid-user? of course, nobody was shocked, but i can vaguely remember denial, followed by weepy interviews and half-confessions on 60 minutes and with peter gammons.

nobody remembers because it happened more than 14 minutes ago, and the yankees won the world series and alex had a couple of hits during some big games.

nobody remembers it because a couple of weeks later it happened again with manny and big papi.

nobody remembers it because baseball is forever soiled and the only way anybody can be a baseball fan is to be either naive/ignorant or really old and cranky.

tiger had to call a-rod within the past week, right? just to ask for advice or to hear alex say that everything's going to be alright?

3. david letterman

letterman told some jokes and seemed to gain more fans as a result of his exposed lies. "hey, everybody, let's make fun of marriage and glorify infidelity..." in reality, of everybody on this list, letterman made out with the least amount of dirt on his hands. laughter and honesty are powerful allies.

4. balloon boy

does it count as a lie if nobody believed it for more than 30 seconds?

5. john and kate

actually, give john and kate some credit. in an effort to annihilate the reputation of each other, and to grab as many dollars left on the table, both have seemed to be pretty forthright and honest in the aftermath of their bitter separation. of course, the affairs, the stealing of money from joint bank accounts, and accusations of poor parenting practices all put on parade for the public to consume, doesn't seem like the best of ideas.

6. octomom

i don't really know what this woman did that made so many people mad, but at some point she had to be lying to someone. the real tragedy is that the moniker "octomom" became a commonly-accepted phrase used in everyday conversation.

7. rick pitino

having sex with a woman in the back room of a restaurant is probably not a good idea, even if it is "consensual." paying the same woman thousands of dollars for an abortion and her silence about the matter is probably a worse idea. the amazing thing about this is how pitino was able to carry this lie around for six years. telling lies is like digging a hole. once you start with one lie, you are forever required to keep a shovel on you at all times to keep digging the hole. pitino found himself at the bottom of a hole that was six years deep, and only through confession and repentance can he climb his way out.

8. global warming

when my father-in-law told me about this last week i figured he had watched too much fox news again.

but climate-gate seems to be real. or maybe it's not. i don't know. what i do know, is that i'm completely over every scandal/lie being called something-gate. why is our society fixated on calling events or stories stupid names? do yourself a favor and peruse this wikipedia list for a few minutes.

as a whole, humanity is really stupid and lacking creativity and cleverness.

9. michael jackson

while MJ had a lot of skeletons in his closet that most likely lead to the increased amounts of drugs in his system to dull the pain of his transgressions, ultimately leading to his untimely death (see kids, lying kills), the lie i'm referring to is the lie that we, the people bought into following his death.

micheal jackson was a transcendent and phenomenally influential and talented pop artist. his music is out-freakin'-standing and the cultural impact of his life is a legacy unmatched by any other.

with thousands of cameras and millions of people chattering about his death, does anybody find it interesting that nobody was talking about what a creep he was? MJ was phenomenal... 20 years ago. but the last 20 years of his life have been completely disturbing and appalling. where was the honesty in talking about what a deranged person he was? just because he died, the collective whole of society decided to disregard the fact that he was a child molester.

10. brett favre

the list wouldn't be complete without the biggest liar of them all. it's getting really hard to continue my crusade against brett favre these days. kevin and i are the only ones still on this hate-wagon, and i'm finding it hard to justify my continued displeasure with the man based on what he is doing week after week on the football field.

but let's not forget how we got here and what favre did when he held america hostage year after year with his constant flip-flopping. brett favre lied when he said that he was done. he's done it before, but this time it was too much. in a perfect world, his arm would have fallen off by now and he would be out of the league and humiliated. but karma isn't real, so he gets to enjoy the success that comes from lying, back-stabbing and cheating? (40 year-olds don't play football this well. favre is on steroids. there i said it. i have no proof, but i have no doubt in my mind about it. would you be surprised in the least if he tested positive for steroids? of course you wouldn't because it makes simple sense).

in my new years resolutions post at the beginning of this year, i resolved to forgive brett favre, "if he can announce his retirement for real this year, and i can forgive and forget him for wasting hours of my life over the past several years, then i can anticipate 2010 as a "no brett favre" year... how glorious it would be."

thanks for ruining my year, brett favre.

wrapping it up (like a christmas present)

i wrote the other day on my facebook that, 'i continue to be surprised just how surprised all of us are when a celebrity commits "transgressions.'" the reality is that we all lie. while that doesn't make it right, it makes it predictable. when i first realized that tiger was lying about what his wife was doing with that golf club, i thought that he was lying to protect his wife's reputation and i understood that. but then the reality set in that tiger's protection of his wife's "honor" was really a desperate attempt to protect his own reputation.

lying is all about a fear of man. we lie because we don't want people to think less of us. when we were kids, we lied so we wouldn't get spanked. as adults, we lie so that we won't be rejected, so we won't be judged, so we won't disappoint. we lie because it's easier to ask for an apology than it is to ask for permission. we lie because we think we are better than others and we don't want them to know that we really aren't. we lie to ourselves because we don't want to feel guilt, sorrow and shame.

it's my occupation to be lied to. i spend a majority of every week being lied to. kids lie to me about how much trouble they get into at home and school. teachers lie to me about all they are doing to make sure my clients are getting appropriate education. parents lie about how much time they spend with their kids and how they discipline their kids when they screw up.

you would think that i would be better at picking out a liar, but in all honesty, i'm terrible at it. i continue to be be disappointed and shocked by most lies because i continue to be oblivious to the crooked nature of my fellow humans. we're bent toward lies because we're programmed for survival, and survival today means being well-liked and happy.

all jokes aside, will 2009 go down as "the year of the lie?" can society as a whole agree to get all our lies out of the system withing the rest of the month so '10 can be a year of honesty? of course not. i'm lying to myself if i think for a minute that you and i are going to stop lying to one another, and that's pretty rotten.