Monthly Archive for December, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

...is whatever she wants.

It’s that time of year again. That magical time of year when obnoxious fundamentalists do battle with government, business and society in order to secure their own vision of what Christmas should be. It’s a time for unnecessary spending and conspicuous consumption. It’s a time for awkward dinner conversation with extended family. But most of all, it’s the biggest opportunity of the year to extend your childhood without penalty.

Like everyone else, I have a charmed, nostalgic view of Christmas. To me, Christmas is linked to my childhood Christmases in a working-class neighborhood in New Jersey. It makes me think of wet snow, sleepless Xmas Eves, shiny red race cars, piles of crumpled gift wrap, turkey with all the trimmings and lots of noise, arguing and even tears.

For some years, I strove to recapture those Christmases. We all do. But I gave up about 8 years ago. Folks say it’s because I don’t have any kids. But that’s not it. I’ve just become jaded and weary. Christmas has devolved from nostalgia to commercialism to a carefully crafted national economic strategy. Try as I may, I can’t get past the fact that Christmas has passed. The American Christmas tradition (what is left of it) no longer appeals to me. At all.

I think the Festivus is a great idea. I’m also down with those druid dudes freezing their asses off at Stonehenge on Winter Solstice. They really walk the walk of Holiday spirit.

I have a friend from Sweden and her stories of Christmas in Scandinavia make me long to spend Christmas there. Being all northern and cold, Sweden has a special claim to Christmas. Even though they’re not a religious bunch, they know how to maintain a serious Christmas tradition. Choirs pop up everywhere, people go outside and ski all over the place, and young girls wear candles on their heads and sing sweetly for the family. They have Christmas trees but they tend to be humble, sparse things. They eat a big smorgasbord of fish and cakes and fishcakes. They give gifts to each other, but the spending is restrained. Oh, and their women look like this:

Beats the hell out of mall shopping, plastic Santas and Doritos n' Cheez Wiz, don't you think?

In Germany and central Europe, St. Nicholas – the jolly sainted man who delivers presents to all the good boys and girls – is accompanied everywhere by his doppelganger, named Krampus or Knecht Ruprecht. Krampus picks up where St. Nick leaves off: his job is to terrify and beat children who don’t behave. Throughout central Europe, when Christmas rolls around, the children are filled with equal parts joy and dread. St. Nick might deliver some goodies to the kinder, but Krampus may very well appear from the shadows and beat them to a bloody pulp.

For some perspective, this is Krampus:

Now THAT’S a goddamn Christmas tradition I can get behind! It’s little wonder that central European children tend to be quiet and respectful. Here in the US, kids have nothing to fear. Hell, if they don’t get everything they want on Christmas, they simply call CPS and accuse Daddy of wrongful touching. In the US, the children are the Krampus!

And so I leave you now, yearning for a better Christmas. I’ll part with a snippet from my favorite Christmas song:

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year;
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart, let your road be clear.

They said there’d be snow at Christmas
They said there’d be peace on Earth;
Hallelujah! Noel! Be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve.

– Greg Lake

Wipe Your Ass!

Tommy Toilet has never spoken truer words. Not that he makes a lot of public announcements. And I admit he has a rather narrow stable of interests. But you can’t deny the truth he evinces in this brilliant screed: you really should wipe your ass after taking a shit.

Why?

Are you kidding me??? Because nobody wants to be around some skid-marked mongo who reeks of week-old turds! That’s why!

“Oh, Ted. You’re just being juvenile. I thought you were so damn smart! This website of yours is getting dumb…”

Juvenile? Dumb? I think not. You should read the book “FLUSHED: How the Plumber Saved Civilization”. Here’s a link: FLUSHED: How the Plumber Saved Civilization

In it, author W. Hodding Carter describes the history of plumbing, from the primitive sewers of the ancients to the ancient copper pipes under your house. Throughout, a singular truth maintains: it doesn’t matter how much money you have, how educated you are or how cultured you may be: if you are knee-deep in bilge, you are NOT civilized. The humble plumber delivers civilization, not the warrior or the teacher.

Chew on THAT!

Now that we have set the serious tone for this conversation, let’s talk turds: we Americans need to re-consider and evolve our poopular practices. We have top-notch sewage systems as well as universal access to indoor toilets and some of the fattest, fluffiest toilet paper the world has ever beheld. So fluffy, in fact, that local grocers are known to squeeze it for cheap sexual thrills.

In America, we wipe our asses. We wipe ’em good. We mow down massive virgin forests to pulp the trees into mush, chlorinate the Christ of it, then reel it out into miles and miles of miles of TP. We stock up on the stuff so we never run out. And each time we take a dump, it is followed by a barrage of wiping. Whether you fold neatly and wipe, bunch it up and wipe, stroke it front-back-front-back or just scrub it till it’s red and sore, we Americans wipe our asses with a vigor heretofore unmatched.

This concerns me.

If all this ass-wiping and all this toilet paper is necessary for normal hygiene, how did we ever make it to the 21st century? Is our success as a species a fluke? I say no. I say that America has an unhealthy obsession with toilet paper.  I say that we need to learn from others and find a new way to wipe.

We’ll begin by facing facts: the vast majority of Earthlings shit into a hole and wipe their asses with their hands. Don’t believe me? Go to any Third World locale, leave the capital city and mingle among the commoners. Eat their spicy foods, get a bellyache, and go take a shit. You’ll be surprised.

Most people shit into a hole. If they have plumbing, they’ll shit into a hole in the floor, like this one:

As you can see, they plant their feet aside the hole, crouch and squeeze out some dachshunds. When the deed is done, they wash their asses and hands using water from the basin. See any toilet paper in this photo? No. It’s all manual, baby. Back to basics.

Is this less hygenic than our perfumed paper serenade? Not really. You may think your hands never touched the poop when you inspect your toilet paper to judge if the job is finished, but you’re wrong. All the icky poop germs easily traversed that thin paper prophylactic and lodged themselves deep in your fingernails and the folds of your grimy mitt. That’s why you wash your hands after. You DO wash your hands, right?

So, toilet paper is not necessarily “better” than a good hand-washing. So why do we do it? Because it psychologically removes us from the presumed offensiveness of the act. It makes us feel more civilized than the animals who squat over holes and splash mucky water on their feces-smeared buttocks. It elevates us. It distinguishes us. It makes us appear “better”.

But it does something else to us: it makes our assholes red and sore. All my life, I have suffered regular (weekly) bouts of diarrhea. I’m not interested in diagnoses of Chronic Diarrhea Syndrome (CDS) or Crohn’s Disease or whatever. I just have a sensitive tummy. Pizza, Indian food and spicy meals make me squirt untold quarts of butt mud every time.

After a lifetime of this, I am amazed at how well my anus has handled it. As I write this, it is as content and springy as a newborn babe. Why? Because my anus has seen The Light.

It occurred on a recent trip to Japan. I had never been there before. When I arrived in Shinjuku, the first thing I did was hie myself to the teeny bathroom to take a dump. The airplane food dismounted poorly. It was one of those pasty, thick poops that normally requires a good 1/5th of the roll. You know – you’re basically just smearing the ass butter all over your cheeks. Each paper inspection is more alarming than the last. You never seem to get that final clean wipe that indicates the coast is clear.

But wait! This is Japan! The Land of the Rising Sun is also the Land of the Rinsed Buns! I inspected my toilet carefully. There was a handle with buttons and Japanese instructions. There were also icons. Like a British explorer deciphering a Babylonian grave marker, I made some sense out of it.

It wasn’t this toilet, but it was much like it. I was able to discern BIDET-MALE-TEMP-PRESSURE. So I selected carefully and to my surprise and delight, a mechanical friend positioned itself below my butt and sprayed a nice warm cascade of spritzy water right up into my butter-smeared buttocks. The sense of relief was universal. Entire continents swooned in unison with me as my turd-pincher sang a stirring love song and exalted in its own being.

As the final stanza trickled away, I turned off the bidet and wiped my ass with about three lousy squares of toilet paper – just enough to sop up the water – and it came away CLEAN.

This is how truly civilized people wipe their asses! It’s the perfect harmony between the Middle Eastern crap-hole, the French bidet and the American paper-thon. This is how we were meant to wipe ourselves. Not manually, but digitally. Throughout the rest of my trip, I spent many a happy moment on the john, spritzing away my worries and fears, and not a few Klingons.

I am now determined to find me one of these toilets. The premier manufacturer is Toto. They have some dealers in big American markets, but it’s almost impossible to find any of these wonderful Japanese-style toilets in the US. Research shows that not only are Toto toilets awesome, but they have the best flush-action-per-gallon in the world. The engineers that gave us the Honda Accord and the Sony Trintron also know a thing or two about flushing down the spackle, if you know what I mean.

Sit down, America! Sit on a Toto toilet! Stop rubbing your ass red with miles of American forests! Let the water do the work! I call on all Americans to contact their heroes – the American plumbers – and demand a Toto bidet toilet. If we all act with one voice, we can create change. Japan has shown us that there is hope. And where their is hope, there is life. I learned that in a Nicholas Cage action movie.

Put down the roll and press the button. Your asshole will thank you.

Own It, Scumbags

In case you haven’t noticed, the US economy is imploding. The housing bubble burst and spread goo all over everybody. The Stock Exchange is in the shitter and roiling about like a dozen weasels in a shopping bag. Unemployment is skyrocketing. The temporary saving graces of low inflation and oil prices are the only things keeping the US from degenerating into The Lord of the Flies.

Here in the USA, we don’t really do anything to solve a problem until the finger of blame has been fully wagged. Since the cause(s) of the implosion are manifold, it’s hard to point at one particular person or institution. But if you had to pick one, it would be the Republican party and the Bush administration.

Why? Because they were at the helm, and because they have been fucking up every other thing they touch. Idiots wanting to live in a giant McMansion on a bus driver’s salary are partly to blame. But these bus drivers were enabled by a real estate industry that operated under the delusion that a Republican America is an America that never falters in business. As long as Bush is in charge, we cannot fail. Ever upward! Deny this and you’re a liberal commie!

Alas, it was Bush’s appointed regulators that turned a blind eye when large investment firms asked that their radioactive mortgage chunks be given an AA rating. If someone had put their foot down, the housing crisis would have been averted years ago.  But Republicans don’t like to limit or regulate massive, greedy corporations. They prefer the wink-wink approach to oversight. If you criticize this approach, you are branded a communist and a terrorist.

And days after calling you a communist, they approve a trillion dollar government bailout for these investment firms. OK, Trotsky. Real good governing there.You idiots fucked up. Big time. Own it.

And the Big 3 automakers? If they need $32 billion, they should ask THIS fucking guy:

Not only does he have an extra $32 billion laying around, he also happens to be the guy the Big 3 have been in bed with for 80 fucking years! ClueBat: the US taxpayers owe the Big 3 nothing. They ignored us, they built us shitty cars and they fought efficiency tooth and nail. So fuck off. Go see fatty if you want some cash. You screwed up. Own it.

There’s plenty of in-depth analyses on the subject of the meltdown. Feel free to peruse them. So far, one of the best (on the subprime fiasco) is this one:

http://www.businesspundit.com/sub-prime/

Rarely in the annals of the Internet have so few stick figures made so much sense on so weighty a subject.

Time to double-check my dying retirement fund…