Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Year I Am Thankful For Myth Busting

Thanksgiving is here. I love the turkey, the potatoes, the dressing, the wine. More importantly...THE GRAVY! I fucking love gravy. However, there are a few people propagating a few egregious Thanksgiving patterns and I am DONE letting them off the hook.

I will now dispel five Thanksgiving Myths. They are in order of their egregious ridiculousness.

5 Thanksgiving Myths That Need To Be Stuffed

1. It is not Christmas.
2. It is not Turkey Day.
3. There is no such thing as Cranberry Sauce.
4. Dressing --V-- Stuffing
5. Black Friday

1. Be prepared for this. I have always defined Christmas the way it was defined for me by my family, the calendar, and other things such as...logic. That definition? December 25th. Call me insane. I know, this is a radical approach to The Giving Of Thanks, but it is one that is tried and true. I like to have my holidays in order and clearly defined by the dates, or "set times that they are supposed to happen." Starting Christmas the way retailers and lunatic shoppers do in November, or even (gasp) October is like making a date for a Friday night and showing up on Monday to wait for her to get ready. See? It's silly, isn't it?

2. We have a name for the Holiday that occurs on the last Thursday in November. It is "Thanksgiving." Why this insistence on calling it Turkey Day? It sounds stupid. It sounds juvenile, and most importantly, it detracts from what the Holiday actually is. It is not a celebration of Turkey. Trust me, I looked. It is a celebration of the things for which we are thankful. Come on, people. Look at a calendar. If your calendar denotes this day as "Turkey Day," do nothing. Leave it hanging. Why? Because something so juvenile and obnoxiously cutesy has likely fallen into your possession as a gift from a child who handmade it in kindergarten.

3. Sauce = A liquid one pours onto one's food as a condiment. If your cranberry side of choice is a liquid, someone owes you some actual pieces of cranberry. Also, if it can be poured the same way you pour gravy (as this is how one would pour "sauce"), it has probably gone rancid and should not be consumed. Throw it away. Relish? Yep. Jelly? OK. Hell, if you like the gelatinous cranberry side, throw it in a creative and festive mold! You're welcome. You can use that.

4. Stuffing goes inside the turkey. Dressing goes alongside it. In a separate pan, even. Unless you are using "stuffing" a verb. "Man, this bread-based side dish is STUFFING me so full!" See? It is DOING the stuffing in this case and that is fine. You are saying it is filling. I can get with that. But to say that your chef has "made a pan of stuffing" is ridiculous. Make sense? Excellent. Moving on.

5. Why are we calling it this? Seriously. Black Tuesday was an AWFUL DAY in American history. And while yes, the Friday after Thanksgiving can be awful for many reasons, this is not the lineage of its nomenclature. Retailers began calling it that because it was the day they could get their books back into "the black" meaning positive numbers. Have you ever seen a retail report that details such things? If you are in the positive, the numbers are green. This is also the color of money. Furthermore, it can be the color of zombies, which is what most males turn into after 40 pounds of Thanksgiving gluttony clogs their arteries. It is also the color I used to turn when girlfriends would ask me to accompany them and their mothers on 4AM shopping trips. I feel like Green Friday works much better.

I hope I have not turned you totally on your ear or offended your Holiday Verbiage. But really, guys, I could no longer sit idly by and allow my sense of logic to be assaulted my these gross Thanksgiving travesties any longer.

What about you? What do you call it? Do you do holidays one at a time? What bothers you about these sorts of things? Do share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Stalking, Or Slow Down And Count Your Blessings, Turkeys!

Oh, I know how cliche it is to get all steamed up about how the stores put out their Christmas decorations on the fifth of July and how incredibly commercial it all is anymore, but this isn't about that. This is about how Thanksgiving has been shunted to the Off-Ramp Of Holidays all of a sudden. Relegated to the Minor Leagues along with Earth Day and Arbor Day. It's insane. People do more about stupid Halloween than they do about Thanksgiving, and I'm plenty irritated. So vexed, in fact, that it's High Time we got Downright Thankful about Thanksgiving. Here are a few

Reasons To Be Jazzed About Thanksgiving

1. Turkey Gravy
2. No Gifts
3. Side Dishes
4. Stuffing/Dressing
5. Rolls
6. Cranberry Sauce
7. Sanctioned Slothfulness and Gluttony

Like I even have to explain these! Everyone knows that most food exists only to serve as a conveyance for gravy, which is, quite possibly, the most comforting foodstuff ever. And the King Of That Realm is Turkey Gravy. Sad are those whose cook cannot make a decent turkey gravy. For me, that is the single best thing about the meal, and I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. Just give me a bowl of turkey gravy and perhaps a piece of toast and I am in bliss.... Okay. Wait...I had An Episode just then. Okay.

The second best thing about Thanksgiving is that there is no bigass Gift Exchange. NO SHOPPING FOR PRESENTS. How wonderful. How liberating. One can simply enjoy the pleasure of the company of others for A. MEAL. Totally not mercenary. No frantic mall-running. No online retail hellraising. No last-minute shelf-raiding. It's heavenly.

I can make my entire Thanksgiving meal out of the side dishes alone. For me, the turkey is tertiary. I make one, of course, but it's purely ritual. I live for everything else. The Brussels sprouts, the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, and, of course, the...

Dressing! Or, you can call it Stuffing if you actually cook yours inside the turkey. I don't. Thanksgiving is about the only time I make it, so I make approximately eleventy pounds of it. (Or is it cubic feet? I forget. In any case, I make a lot.) We then eat it for the next several days pretty much on the hour, every hour. Cold, warm, whatever. Isn't it incredible that you can make something so orgasmic from just some bread and eggs and...stuff? Unbelievable.

Speaking of bread, I love it, but nothing compares to having rolls with dinner at Thanksgiving. Oh, sure, I know you can have them anytime, but we don't, and even if we did, it would not be the same. I get those tiny little puffy square potato rolls, and it's embarrassing how we attack them. Sad, really, but do you know how good they are?

And cranberry sauce! My mother never had this, not even the canned junk, (not that I would have eaten that), but once I found out how easy it was to make the real stuff and how good it was, I couldn't believe it. I do make this every now and again as an accompaniment to pork or roast chicken, but do try to save it for Thanksgiving. And cranberries last forever in the freezer. What a deal!

Finally, Thanksgiving is such a no-guilt holiday for everyone, unlike Christmas. What other day can you simply eat yourself into oblivion, lie around like Henry VIII, and be totally okay about it? Oh sure, if you're the cook, you have the dinner to do, that's true. But I cook for my three men only--made sure of that a long time ago. It's a very relaxed affair, and we all enjoy the day hanging out, eating, spending time together, watching football and the dog show, and just taking it easy. When I require their services, they jump in. Very low-impact, high reward for everyone.
O Thanksgiving! So many holidays could take a Lesson from you! Good food, good company, good feeling, and good times. The Stuff that dreams are made of. (Who needs all that "visions of sugarplums" nonsense?)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who Needs A Reason? Not Me When It Comes To This Irritating Stuff

Ever get crabby and dismissive over something for no good reason? I do this often and I don't apologize for it. Hey, it happens.

Stuff I Am Unreasonably Irked By

1. Brett Favre
2. the Dallas Cowboys
3. Short leather jackets
4. Chihuahuas
5. Chris Farley/Adam Sandler/SNL Male Comedian du jour Movies
6. Balloons

I'm going to try to discuss these in a reasonable, calm manner. Don't piss me off and end up on this list, whatever you do. ;-)

1. Okay, look: Brett Favre is a spoiled diva who held at least two teams hostage while he farted around and ninny-nannyed and Kept His Dream Alive, along with ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN753's ratings. He is a Walking Soap Opera. I am sick and tired of athletes being allowed to retire as many times as they want and then come back like Saviors Of Their Sport (do you hear me, Michael Jordan?). And if I have to hear one more time about how BF is *gasp!* FORTY, and yet so exuberant and wonderful, I will vomit all over myself. Big Effing Deal. All BF fans need to look at THIS. End of discussion.

2. Do NOT call the Dallas Cowboys "America's Team." I am an American, and they are not my team. Who started that bullshit, anyway? What is so American about the Dallas Cowboys? Their roster of criminals? I hate having any pseudo-patriotism shoved down my throat, so this automatically frosts my cupcakes. The cheerleaders are bad enough. They even had two movies made about them. And, while we're on the subject, why do NFL teams even have cheerleaders? Can anyone think of anything more pointless?

3. What is the deal with those short, tight leather jackets that some chicks like to wear? I'm not talking about as a fashion accessory; I'm talking about--ostensibly--for warmth. There is no way in hell that they are warm. They cannot be. It doesn't cover the butt; hell, it doesn't even cover the entire midriff area. Looks ridiculous. Every time I see one, the person wearing it looks like she's freezing and can barely put her arms up high enough to fit her hands in her pockets. It's insane.

4. When will these sad, pathetic dogs finally be bred out of existence? I mean, Chihuahuas look like an old man who was left out in the winter naked and wet. They shiver constantly and they look...guilty as hell! All of them look like they have either just been beaten or like they should be beaten because they just peed on the dining room rug or something. What is with these dogs? I don't get the appeal. They kind of look like they need a they've been trying to get off meth but it's just so damn hard! And those Chihuahua owners who dress their dogs? Please. These poor animals have a hard enough life. Don't rob them of what modicum of dignity they possess.

5. Every time someone tries to tell me of the comedic genius of Chris Farley, I want to smack that someone. Hard. I'm sorry, but being a fat guy with no physical boundaries is hardly on par with the wit of David Sedaris or even Richard Pryor. Jiggling your fat will eventually make someone laugh. That is always true. And Adam Sandler? Using a funny, gratingly annoying voice in an inappropriate situation will make males between the ages of 2 and 26 laugh. Not to self-aggrandize here, but I need more. For the rest of the SNL Male Comedians, merely extrapolate. (Hey, even Fletch wasn't really funny. Noted exception, Bill Murray, but even The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou sucked. And you know it did!)

6. Is there anything on Earth more pointless than balloons? Come on, now, really. Sure, they look festive, but then what? After twelve hours or less, they sink sadly, pucker up, and become...sad. Sad, drifting obstacles and reminders of the transience of happiness. And when your little toddler gets a balloon and it A) blows away B) pops C)becomes pet fodder and is destroyed, how fun is that? ZERO--FOR EVERYONE. You can't do anything with a balloon, really. Either when it is inflated or when it's done. It's the single most pointless thing there is. Balloons are awful. Just awful. I abhor waste, and balloons are wasteful. Just seeing them, especially a "bouquet" of them, irks the hell out of me.

Are there more things I am unreasonably irked by? Of course there are. But it's your turn now. What Stuff irks you? Be bold and brave! Call them out once and for all! How dare they, after all, bedevil you?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It Starts With An Airplane And Ends With Underwear, But It's Not The Mile-High Club--But There Is Sighing Nonetheless

At the risk of showing my age, I remember stuff being a Whole Lot Better. Oh sure, there are plenty of things now that I am damn glad I have: a home computer, a hybrid car, Project Runway, just to name a few. But in my dotage, I find that there are more than a few times that I find myself thinking about

Stuff I Miss

1. No-hassle air travel
2. Mars bars
3. Good crayons and coloring books
4. Real TV schedules
5. Drinking soda
6. Cheap nylon bikini underwear

An eclectic list, I know, and one that cries out for explanation. Allow me:

^*^I can remember not so very long ago when I used to take two or three little trips a year to visit friends in Florida or Maryland or Chicago or Denver. As long as I bought my tickets about a month in advance, I could get away really cheaply, pack a decent-sized bag, and zip away with not a care in the world. I'd arrive at the airport about 45 minutes ahead of time with Rick and sometimes the boys in tow and they'd even wait with me at the gate! I could stroll through security--such as it was--in a comparative millisecond, walk onto the plane with a full meal and full-size toiletries in my bag and jet off. Forget all of that now. Air travel now is nothing but an exercise in torture and logistical nightmares involving calculations that defy me in every way. Don't even mention the prohibitive cost. Screw that. The "friendly skies" can kiss my ass.

^*^I have already spoken about my Lost Love Affair with the Mars Bar here. It is nothing short of tragic that I cannot buy this simple confection in the US. If any International Reader wants to hook me up with this fine sweet, email me. I remain morose.

^*^When I was a kid, I adored coloring pictures. I would sprawl out on the floor with my Crayola 64's and my Big Book of Nature coloring book and be in Heaven. Back then, the crayons colored wonderfully. They did not flake and curl and peel on the page when you pressed hard to make the colors dark and shiny. Now, crayons are crappy. And what is up with the new colors with the dorky names? Crayola keeps screwing around with crayon colors and, obviously, with their formula. And what is up with coloring books, too? Now they are all corporate bullshit. You can't find a decent coloring book. All they are is product tie-ins or licensed characters. That's lousy. Every once in a while, I'd still color a few pictures for a therapeutic effect if they made decent crayons and coloring books that weren't commercials for dolls and cartoons. If I tried to color now, it would just make me more pissed.

^*^Remember the days when the new TV season started in September and ended in June? And the shows were on certain days of the week? And you could count on that? NOT ANY MORE! Now, reruns happen IN THE SAME WEEK AND WITHOUT ANY SORT OF RHYME OR REASON. The TV season might start in January and end in March. A show might run on Tuesday and again on Thursday. The next week, it might run on Thursday. Then, the rerun might appear on Friday. WHO KNOWS? THEN THERE MIGHT BE A HIATUS! Does anyone know what happened to "House?" Did I miss something? Sigh. I feel like I'm getting mugged by TV.

^*^This one is a personal thing. About ten years ago, I went on a medicine to prevent my constant and debilitating migraines. It worked, and I'm so grateful. But, one of the side effects that remains is that I cannot drink any carbonated beverage. So, no soda for me. Every once in a while, I miss Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, even the occasional root beer. The only soft drink I drink is water. Water, water, water, water, water. It has also altered my tastebuds and there are certain flavors I can no longer discern, like tea. So, no iced tea either. The tradeoff is, of course, no more frequent migraines, but I miss soda.

^*^As a child of the seventies, I was a devotee of nylon bikini underwear. My older sis and I both wore it. We loved buying it at a local cheapo store in all kinds of wild patterns and colors. I still love it--it's comfortable, snug pants and skirts slide right over it, seams don't show, it's lightweight. Why is it impossible to find now? Everywhere you look for ladies' underwear, it is all cotton, microfiber, and ridiculously overpriced. IT IS JUST UNDERWEAR, PEOPLE. GOOD HEAVENS. And I am all about the bikini cut. No thong, no high-thigh cut, no boyshort bullshit. Come on. This should not be that tough. Yet it is.

Your turn, Stuff Readers. No matter your age, there have to be a few Things You Pine For, too. What are they?


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