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Give a tree, take a tree December 5, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Flyboy254 prompted me to write about “Christmas away from home.”

My whole family doesn’t get real sentimental about exact dates of holidays. One year we went to San Diego over the winter vacation, and got Christmas-day plane tickets because they were the cheapest. If people can’t meet up in December but we have a gathering in mid-January, then we’ll just save the presents and do Christmas in January. So that’s nice.

Here’s a photo from one of my first apartment Christmases:

Picked up the tree for free off of someone’s curb one January. It was the perfect size for a tiny apartment. Plus it came apart into pieces you could stuff in any box, and went back together super easily.

Now it’s been six months since I put it out on my own curb before leaving MA. Sure hope it got picked up by a new person who will appreciate it just as much.

Still have the tinsel and ornaments, though! My aunt doesn’t have a tree, so the ornaments are still boxed — but from where I’m sitting now, basically every direction has some tinsel draped over the most convenient surface.

(December talking meme.)

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AO3 Tag Wrangling for Christmas December 11, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom.
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I’m going through AO3 tags, trying to round up all the freeforms in the wilderness of No Fandom that should be in Christmas Tales & Traditions. Everything from Christmas caroling to Santa pub crawls to ugly holiday sweaters.

As of last night, a search for “christmas” in freeforms turned up 2024 results. Most of which aren’t in Christmas Tales. This could take a while.

On the plus side, in the process I’ve put at least a few dozen 0-use tags in the path of the rake (the daily subroutine that gets rid of such things). So that number should look a smidge less intimidating soon….

So they made a Cat in the Hat Christmas special in 2012… December 9, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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…in association with this TV series, and the art is this unholy hybrid of Flash animation and Dr. Seuss’s original drawing style. It’s such a trainwreck. Especially when you compare it to something like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which animates Seuss’ character designs with so much love and care in order to make them work.

Although I do give them points for making the reindeer look like actual caribou, not Rankin-Bass-esque white-tailed deer standing in snow.

Early in the episode, the plucky kid heroes arrive home, and one of them goes “Look! Our dads are bringing in the tree!” Smash-cut to two clean-cut men, one black & one white, carrying a giant fir.

I was briefly so excited. Casual same-sex couple in a children’s show, and not just any children’s show, but a Seuss adaptation?!

…and then the moms showed up, and eventually it sank in that these weren’t the divorced moms spending Christmas with their exes and the kids to round out the blended family, these were just two unrelated heterosexual couples, having Christmas dinner in the same house for some reason.

Which makes it all the more annoying that the Cat (voiced by Martin Short) is played with the most exaggerated, campiest, lispiest voice you could imagine.

Sigh. I’m gonna go look up shippy Cat/Grinch fanart, just to cleanse my soul.

Greatest thing I’ve seen all year. January 2, 2013

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Dear friends/readers/watchers/random-scrollers-by:

Do you feel like something is missing in your life?

Do you ever suspect that that something could be “an animated video in which Santa Claus and an anthropomorphized FOX News attack the Daily Show desk with rifles, only to have Jon Stewart defeat them using a fire extinguisher, then harness them to the sleigh and take off”?

Me neither. But good news! You get to have one anyway:

…and a Grumpy Cat in a Christmas tree. December 25, 2012

Posted by Erin Ptah in Memes.
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On terrible store holiday music December 10, 2012

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Apparently playing bad music is a calculated strategy to get you to buy more. When you’re frustrated and overstimulated, your system panics and you’ll make the decision to buy something just so you can feel like you have closure and can get out of there.

This explains so much.

So, yeah, I work in retail now. A couple weeks in, and I have a whole lot of Feelings about their playlist. Like: No traditional carols that namecheck Jesus are on it. Okay, that’s understandable — they’re trying to get that holiday mood without annoying the non-Christians too too much. Except that the rule doesn’t apply to Taylor “here’s to Jesus Christ who saved our lives” Swift. What’s up with that?

Also, for some reason “Little Drummer Boy” doesn’t get nixed. (Do they think Muslim customers won’t get that it’s about the nativity?) Meanwhile, lovely classics like “Silver Bells” and “Deck The Halls” don’t get played in any version. I object.

There’s a sharp contrast between the “buy more stuff!” songs (“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”, “Santa Baby”, the insufferable “Toy Town”, etc) and the “Christmas is not about the stuff!” songs (“Christmas Must Be Something More”, endless variations of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “One Wish (For Christmas)”, anything related to The Grinch). Maybe the latter category is there to give them plausible deniability about the former.

They have three separate songs about celebrating Christmas in a tropical place. (“Christmas in the Caribbean”, “Christmas on Christmas Island”, and “Mele Kalikimaka”). It’s cute and trope-twisting when it comes in the middle of a bunch of more typical songs, but starts to grate when the idea is being smacked at you all the time. Call me back when you’ve decided to let “White Wine In The Sun” in on the action.

There’s one Mannheim Steamroller song. It’s a great song. Did they just buy the one? What, was the rest of the album not good enough?

You can make some inferences about the customer base from the playlist. We get a whole lot of Spanish-speaking customers, and there’s a decent amount of Spanish versions of carols. I can’t vouch for how well they work (my sample size of one, a co-worker, said she thought they were trying too hard). There’s also a fair proportion of black customers, so the playlist has one single Kwanzaa song, which I cannot for the life of me find online in video or lyric form, in spite of the fact that it’s stuck in my head right now. (“It’s a Kwanzaa celebration! Honor elders from the family tree! If not for them there’d be no you and me receiving glory from above. It’s a Kwanzaa celebration! Come together with your family. Something celebrate our history and the harvest of our love!”)

No sign yet of a Hanukkah song, btw.

I had thought, previously, that “Feliz Navidad” would be the song I hated most. I was wrong. It helps that they have a couple of versions that are sung prettily, crooned and harmonized, instead of the weird exaggerated Speedy Gonzales-esque cover that was the only one the radio back in MD ever played. No, the song that makes me want to punch things, or at least go hide in one of the young-adult corners of the store (tiny enclaves with TVs that play pop songs) until it’s over, is “Run, Run, Rudolph”. Multiple versions of it. If I never have to hear one more male singer happily imitating a girl whose greatest ambition in make-believe is to clean up baby pee, it will be too soon.

(It’s very disorienting to come out of one of the teen sections and transition from Taylor Swift singing “We are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together” to Taylor Swift singing “Santa, Baby”.)

Also up there on the DNW list: “Little Saint Nick”. It’s apparently a riff on one of the Beach Boys’ other songs with Christmassy words put in, but since the other song (“Little Deuce Coupe“) isn’t played any more, nobody gets the joke and the result is just kind of teeth-gritting. Oh, and the speedy polka version of “Step Into Christmas”! Who thought that was a good idea? (Elton John’s version can stay.)

There are a couple of songs that have come up, but don’t seem to be on the endless-repeat list. Springsteen’s iconic “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” was there earlier, but I feel like I didn’t hear it at all last week. Same with Glee’s “Extraordinary Merry Christmas”. And I swear they played the SpongeBob version of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” (which I had not known existed until then), precisely once. It has not returned.

Some bright spots: “2000 Miles” is pretty, as is “We Need A Little Christmas”. There are a bunch of covers of “Last Christmas”, all very lovely. I haven’t even ranted about all the ones with adults trying too hard to sound like cutsey children, which apparently means they’re not a lasting annoyance. And there are some notable terrors that they haven’t even touched. (Three words: “Dominic the Donkey”.)

So that was my Christmas music rant! Next up: customers: why don’t they notice that we have trash cans? Even if you don’t, come on, at least carry your kid’s used juice box out into the main mall and throw it out there, instead of leaving it on our T-shirt displays.

Unitarian carols December 2, 2011

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(To the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
God Rest Ye, Unitarians

Gods rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay
Remember there’s no evidence there was a Christmas Day
When Christ was born is just not known, no matter what they say

O, tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact
O, tidings of reason and fact!

Our current Christmas customs come from Persia and from Greece
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East
This whole darn Christmas spiel is just another pagan feast

O, tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact
O, tidings of reason and fact!

There was no star of Bethlehem, there was no angels’ song
There couldn’t have been wise men for the trip would take too long
The stories in the Bible are historically wrong

O, tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact
O, tidings of reason and fact!

***

(To the tune of Jesus Christ Is Risen Today)
Jesus Christ May or May Not Have Risen Today
set for Pretty Yellow Flower Day

Jesus Christ may or may not have risen today
Alleluia
Whether or not he did is pretty difficult to say
Alleluia
Let’s discuss all sides of the issue thoroughly
Alleluia
We can take a vote! And then we’ll see
Alleluia

***

More Unitarian jokes. Features some absolute gems; check them out.

What do you get when you cross a Unitarian Universalist with a Jehovah’s Witness?

Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason.

Links with His Noodly Blessing December 15, 2010

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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A bunch of Flying Spaghetti Monster links that I picked up a while back.

Crafty crafts: make your own FSM brooch, knit your own FSM hat, and wish you had bought some FSM magnets.

Our second official hymn, to the tune of “The Old Rugged Cross”. (The first official hymn is, of course, “On Top Of Spaghetti.”)

Ancient Native Americans knew of the FSM. So, evidently, does chemistry.

And, in soon-to-be-obsolete seasonal news, a bizarre video review of the leadup to this year’s Yuletide. (They, uh, want Stephen/AU!Stephen slash. Been there, done that…)

Closin’ some of last year’s tabs. January 1, 2010

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup, Personal.
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Struggling church decides to be openly accepting of GLBT population, sees its congregation nearly triple in size in just over a month.

Freelance writing gets a lot easier for women when they use male pseudonyms. Staying at a friend’s house after the storm last week, I brought up this article in conversation. His father was kind of stunned; his mother, not at all.

Average American consumes 34 GB a day. Yikes.

Tim Minchin does a Christmas song, which is witty, dry, perceptive, and then unexpectedly rips your heart out.

If you want some idea of just how non-intuitive Internet searching is, look at the trouble kids have approaching it.

I finally managed to get into my recently-retired computer, by hooking it up to a non-shattered monitor. So the last of the non-backed-up material is now safely on my new box. Happy Erin is happy.

Tidings of comfort and joy December 21, 2009

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Why so many of the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews. (What, no shoutout to the entire A Colbert Christmas soundtrack?)

A quest to collect one million (handmade) giraffes. See, this is what the Internet was created for.

Fandom snowflakes! I don’t even know half these fandoms, and still I can tell you that these are awesome.

In Memory of Soldier A, an ode to the brave and heroic extras who lay their lives down for anime combat scenes.