Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Did Rudolf Uncover Santa's Cover Up?

Everyone is a fan of the classic Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special that airs every year. If you are not a fan you must be a real dick. I still try to watch it every year and I enjoy it now just as much as I did when I was 6 years old. Just like scotch.  

But one thing I have always wondered about is the origin of the misfit toys on the Island of Misfit Toys. Who originally made these toys? How did they get there? Whose responsible for all this?

HOOORAAAY! We’re not normal.

Unfortunately, all signs point to one person - Santa! Dun, dun, DUN!

Think about it. This island where the misfit toys are living, is awfully close to Christmas Town or wherever it is that Santa has his complex. Too close to be a coincidence if you ask me.

We also know he has a large staff of elves (or should we call them minions?) that make all the toys he delivers to the children around the world, so we know toys are being produced under his command. If someone else had made all those misfit toys why would they go through such great lengths to dump them all the way up near the North Pole?

And lastly, since Santa delivers toys throughout the world he must know the world pretty well. So how is it that there is an island right near his home called the Island of Misfit Toys that he supposedly knows nothing about? Shouldn’t the name of the island have tipped him off?

What are your thoughts?

Pat: I was always more struck by Hermey, the gay dentist elf (c’mon, we all knew it!). That woulda’ been a tough gig.

Christian: That doesn’t surprise me. Hermey always reminded me of you.


Pat: Never been a dentist. Never been an elf. ‘Nuff said. With regards to Santa, and his being a wayward father-figure god persona...we all make mistakes, man. So judgmental, Christian. So judgmental.

Christian: A mistake? This isn’t just a mistake. It’s a major cover up! Accidentally making a toy train with square wheels is a mistake and is not that big of a deal. Unless of course you are that train and somehow have the ability to experience feelings and emotions, specifically embarrassment. But to continuously make that mistake many times over and then attempt to hide them all on some deserted snowy island in the middle of the arctic is more than just a mistake.

And don’t forget, when Rudolf and crew made it back to Christmas Town and told Santa about all the misfit toys, did Santa own up to it? No. He acted as if this was all news to him and realized his only way out of it was to lie and deliver all those toys to kids who apparently only deserved broken toys. No, no, no, no. This was more than just a mistake.

And Santa couldn’t have been the only one in the know. A cover up this big had to involve many. I’m assuming pretty much all of his top level elves had to know. Dasher might have even been in on it too. It’s quite a travesty.

Pat:  Have you even butt-dialed someone? Posted on Facebook while chemically altered? Seriously, Christian, we ALL make mistakes, and NONE of us wants to revisit them!

So Santa may have fathered a few illegitimate toys...the point is he made up for it. Millions of children happy, right? In my book a few disgruntled and mis-shaped playthings are worth it. We tread a dangerous line when we hold our heroes up to standards that we ourselves could never live up to (a quick Google™ tells me that I mighta’ stolen that from Ayn Rand), in that we set ourselves up for inevitable disappointment (have you ever SEEN Ayn Rand? She’s kind of scary looking). Rather, if we establish a set of norms and mores based on our own objective reality while here on earth, we live according to an objective reality based on our own determination of right and wrong, one in which your irresponsible Santa might be depicted as more human that you currently allow.

Holy shit man, look what you made me go and do. I got all philosophical and shit just from thinking about Santa. What a downer!

However, if my rant above struck a cord, you might want to check out a little video of Mike Wallace interviewing Ms. Rand HERE. Just don’t do it as you respond to a blog post while simultaneously nipping at a bottle of white wine. Dangerous and dark roads await down that path, my friends.

Christian: Ayn Rand is the actress that played Alice on the Brady Bunch right? I haven’t read any of her philosophies.

However, I still don’t think you are understanding my argument with regards to Santa. Yes we all make mistakes (e.g. I totally put too much chocolate syrup on this ice cream I’m eating). And yes we might hold our heroes up to an impossible standard (I can’t believe it! I always pour the right amount of chocolate syrup!). But instead of just admitting to his mistakes, he tried to cover them up but dumping all those grotesque looking toys on that island. And the worst of all? He lied to poor little Rudolf when Rudolf told him about what he found on that island. What about that?

Santa Claus is a man who is obviously driven by greed.

“Rudolf with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Did Rudolf really have a choice?

I bet if he was to be investigated, this misfit toy-Arctic island story would just be the tip of the iceberg (Wait! Was that a pun? I love those! It’s not a pun is it? Close though. Maybe next time.) I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out he’s been giving himself exuberant CEO bonuses and/or has been embezzling the elves’ retirement funds. These are the kind of actions we see from those with power that attempt to hide their “mistakes”. Or should I say “misfit-takes”? No? Maybe I don’t understand puns.

Pat:  No, it wasn’t a pun. Not for lack of trying, mind you. It’s just that you can’t physically have an iceberg on an island. One’s earth, and the other is water. And that second attempt was just kind of embarrassing.

Again, see what you did?! You took something happy and carefree--Santa--and made it all unhappy and uncarefree. And I feel like a dick now for correcting your puns. Or non-puns. I’m not having any pun at all! (<---now THAT’S a pun!)

I was just about to help you work through all of this angst by maybe finding someone at Rankin-Bass, the production company behind your troubles (remember, dear friend, that the Island of Misfit Toys is not a relic of traditional lore, but the product of a likely drunk or altered 1960s animation executive), to talk with and ask for an explanantion.

And then I found THIS guy: Rick Goldschmidt at Now THIS guy has some shit he’s upset with. So much so that your deadbeat-dad Santa exposé is just doggie kibble.

Feel better?

Christian: To be honest I don’t really care what Rankin-Bass and their 31 flavors of ice cream are having to deal with. All I care about is that Santa take some responsibility here. I’m not looking for him to be incarcerated. All I want is an admittance to what he has done and an apology. Ooooh, and a brand new X-Box 360!

And a pony.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Donner or Donder?

Last Christmas, I started reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to my oldest, who was two and half years old at the time and just starting to grasp the concept of Christmas. As we lay in his bed and turned each page with more and more anticipation, the words of that classic poem danced off my tongue with harmonious rhythm and cadence. Until, that is, I got to the part where Santa shouts out the names of his reindeer.

“More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name: Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder on... Wait. What? …. Donder? What the? Donder my ass. It’s Donner. D.O.N.N.E.R. Donner!”

I yelled to my wife who was in the other room, “HONEY!!!! This book is broken. There’s a damn typo in it! We need to return it!”

After my wife calmed me down she informed me that not only is Donder the original and traditional name for that specific reindeer, but it is also pretty common knowledge that it’s the original and traditional name of that specific reindeer. Not common knowledge to me!

(Side Note: It also turns out that the book was written by a Clement C. Moore and not H.P. Lovecraft no matter how much you argue it with your wife until she forces you to look it up on the internet.)  

Anyhoo, either I used to know the original name was Donder and forgot or, more likely, somehow went through life blissfully ignorant to the fact that Donner was originally named Donder.

(Side Note 2: According to Wikipedia, before Donder it was Dunder, but that was probably the fault of the Dutch, so I’m not even going to mention it here.)

So Pat, were you aware of this? I’m an American so I like my steak thick, stuff that is ranch flavored, and my reindeer named Donner. How do you feel about it?

Pat:  Well...

I used to think it was “Donner” too. But I also used to have a speech impediment, so when I learned it was “Donder” (or “Dunder”) I guess I just figured I’d been hearing it wrong. So I was okay with it.

Plus, I later learned that “Donder” means “thunder” in German. At least I think I remember learning that.

And then I thought about the Donner Party. Tragic. They left us a great recreational lake, though.

So...maybe try to look at it this way: If you were that particular caribou, err, reindeer and you had the choice of being named after the kick ass natural wall-shaking sonic version of lightning or the unfortunate family-eating freezing starving expeditionary group who never saw their dream realized...which one would you want?

Kinda’ puts a different lens on it, doesn’t it?

And hey. If you really feel like getting pissed off at alternative interpretations of your favorite holiday traditions (AND at the Dutch again), check out Holland’s version of Santa Claus. Turns out Sinterklaas and his buddy Zwarte Piet do some pretty messed up shit.

“Psst...Santa...who IS that?”

Christian:They think the Pope is Santa Claus? Interesting.

I get your point about the Donner party. I know that I don’t typically think about cannibalism during the holidays. Maybe alcoholism. But not cannibalism.

However, I did a little research and it turns out Donder used to be how the German’s said “thunder”, but now they say Donner. I don’t know if it’s because of the Rudolf special or not though.  

Does this change your opinion at all?

(Side Note 3: To go along with Donner/Donder meaning “thunder,” Blitzen  translates to “lightning” in German. Vixen translates to “slut”*.)

Pat:  I thought “Blitzen” meant to whoop some Brits’ asses via an air raid, or to grow a beard and form a crunchy indie-rock band.

Oh well. No, it doesn’t really change anything for me, but that might be because I’ve never really paid any attention to anything said in German. To many “chhhhhh!” sounds and glottal expectorations to make me want to hear much of it. No intention of offending anyone...I just won’t opt for Thus Spake Zarathustra in it’s original text on CD.

Yeah, no, sorry. I’m okay with the reindeer just being one of Santa’s crew, whatever his name is. I know already, though, that you’re not gonna’ like that answer so let me try something else.


Back to Dutch Santa...NO, he wasn’t the Pope. Even weirder, they think he used to be the Bishop of Turkey, and that he now resides in Spain. Or something like that. Crazy, yeah?

Christian: Nice try. So you don’t care what the reindeer names are huh? They’re probably all just a bunch of meat to you aren’t they? Where’s the compassion? Where’s the humaneness? Am I done filling this paragraph with questions? Maybe?

Pat:, I’m not too concerned with their names. Mainly because I don’t think THEY are too concerned with their names. My guess is they refer to themselves with reindeer grunts and huffs, and aren’t too bothered by our anthropomorphic tendencies. Sorry...would you rather that I get irate with the current state of affairs regarding reindeer nomenclature?  

I’m not willing to place money on it, but I bet “Donder” or “Donner” sounds kinda’ like “hurrmmphhh”, followed by a cloud of exhalation, in reindeer, whether it’s in German or English.

Christian: I think you are missing one crucial point here. These aren’t your normal everyday reindeer. They’re Santa’s reindeer, which means they are magical like wizards. Have you not seen the Rudolf special? They speak English and can fly. Not to mention schedule and run well organized reindeer tryouts.  

Basically they have reindeer bodies but the souls of humans. And can fly. They’re like Cent-deer or Rein-toars. That can fly. So don’t tell me they aren’t aware of their names. 
This is Steve. He’s an everyday reindeer. The one in back is named 57.

Put yourself in Donner/Donder’s point of view. You are an intelligent and magnificent creature. How would you feel if your name was suddenly and inexplicably changed from Pat to Poot?

Pat:  I don’t know, man. You kinda’ keep digging a hole on this one. “Poot” sounds kinda’ cool. I could be down with that. Kinda’ gives me that Euro-flair that I’ve always longed for. That, and imagine what people could say when I walked into the room with my full on swagger and entourage...something like, “Woot, woot, hey ya’ll it’s Poot!”

Christian: OK, I give up.

* May not be factual.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake

Like in most families, the Christmas tree is a staple for Christmas celebration in my family. Just like mistletoe and strong margaritas. And for the longest time I was an adamant advocate against fake trees. You wouldn’t take your kid to see a fake Santa Claus... um. wait no. I mean you wouldn’t have a fake baby Jesus in your nativity scene... Actually, forget that one. How about, you wouldn’t hang fake icicles from your house? Damnit! I did that one last year.

My point is, I was very much against fake trees for some reason. But as I got older and kids began to dismount I have completely changed my tune. Two years ago we bought our first fake tree and it was electrifying! I was overwhelmed with the convenience. We no longer had to fight the crowds and search and search only to end up with a very unsymmetrical tree like thing. More often than not, resembling a trapezoid more than a triangle. Plus we really like silver Christmas trees and it was becoming quite the hassle to have to spray paint our tree every year.

Thus a new era had begun in my household where fake trees were celebrated as if they were amongst the living. How do you fall on this fake vs. real issue Pat?

Pat:   I’ll get to it, but I am dying to know what a “dismounting child” is. I had some pretty funny images running through my head on that one. My favorites all included Mary Lou Retton. Funny.

Really? You really have to ask me this question? Your whole suggestion of the topic kinda’ makes me question your state-of-origin. While I consider myself an ardent environmentalist, and cringe every time I water my lawn, prune my trees, include non-native fruits or vegetables in our compost, or chuck an empty Big Gulp™ cup into the river, when it comes to Christmas trees, all bets are off.

I go back to that ad from our youth, the one that the Oregon Logging Industry or some such group put out as a response to the Spotted Owl issue. The one that included an expansive view from above of a forest, and the line, “Oregon will NEVER grow out of trees!” At Christmas time (or Hannu-Kwanzaa time), I feel like it’s my duty, as a lifelong Oregonian, to do my part to help rid the state of the invasive and threatening Christmas tree. Cut’ em down, and put ‘em in your house to let the other trees know you mean business, I say! Well, that, and to help bring the warm spirit of Christmas into your house.

Christian: First off, yes, the Mary Lou Retton image is an accurate image to have in regards to dismounting children. The dismounting of a horse is also accurate.

During their births, both my kids jumped out of the womb
and landed in this position.

But back to the trees. I wasn’t aware that cutting down Christmas trees helped out the Spotted Owls. I also didn’t know Spotted Owls were still around. I thought they didn’t make it. But hey, good for them.  

However, since there are no longer any TV commercials talking about them and how they are endangered we can safely assume they are doing just fine (probably too fine). So since there’s no need to buy a real Christmas tree for the owls’ sake, I say the convenience of a fake tree still outweighs any benefits of a real one.  

What? That can’t be a real owl. That’s an Ewok from Star Wars. Are we sure these
Spotted Owls ever existed in the first place?

While you and your family are out battling the cold and rain trying to tie a tree to your car, my kids and I are busting out our family Christmas wrenches to erect our celebrated tree. The tree is up and ready to go in 20 minutes. Beat that!

I’ve also noticed that our fake tree doesn’t require nearly as much water as a real one. So you save on water too!

Pat:  Yeah...we gave up on water years ago. Instead we tell the kids that the holidays are the time of year when we pray to the lord that s/he not take our house in a blaze of flame. It’s good to get the kids some religion now and then.

Back to your argument. You have good points, all of them. But what do you do about the smell? How do you get that wintry freshness from your pine of steel?

Christian: Excellent question. Yes, smell was always something I really enjoyed with regards to mortal trees, and was another reason why I had previously avoided purchasing an immortal one.

But have no fear, you do not have to go without smell. There are plenty of Christmas tree smell replication products out there for you. But you know what’s even better? The smell of grilled cheese sandwiches. Just take that delicious sandwich of yours and rub it all over the tree. There’s no pine scent to compete with so you’ll be smelling that sandwich all day long as you open presents! Be sure to make two so you still have one to eat. ;)

You see, another benefit of a fake tree is that you can make it smell like anything you want!

Like the smell of lemons? Spray some lemon scented Pledge on your tree. Not only will it give it that nice lemony smell, it will make it sparkle like a linoleum floor!

Or how about the smell of an old fashioned charcoal grill? No problem! Take those coals, light ‘em up, and pour ‘em under the tree. It’s fake so what could go wrong? I like mesquite.

If it doesn’t smell like how you want it to, it’s your fault, not the tree’s.

Side Note: I don’t recommend spraying it with any of that Axe Body Spray. It just ends up causing a bunch of sexy women to surround your tree while rubbing their hands all over it. Really makes it hard for the kids to enjoy the ornaments.

Pat:  This seems really inappropriate for a holiday themed blog post, but if you re-read your statement immediately above you’ll notice that the word “hard” causes a bit of a double entendré. Huh huh!

Christian: Pat, for the love of god will you grow up and get your head out of the... Oh wait I get it. “Hard” like an erection. He he. Erection. You totally nailed that one Pat!

And that is what Christmas is all about.

Pat:  Really?  I “nailed” it?