Tag Archive: Xmas
Christmas may quickly be receeding into the past tense but the interesting christmas related posts keep coming!
Christian soldiers, marching as to war in the pitched battle for the meaning of Christmas, worry that Santa is a tool of the vast Satanic conspiracy. To be sure, the similarity of their names, identical but for one transposed letter, is provocative. Didn’t Mia Farrow use a Scrabble board, in Rosemary’s Baby, to expose her grandfatherly neighbor with the flyaway eyebrows for the warlock he was, shuffling the letters of his name to reveal his true identity? Could the Religious Wrong be right, just this once? Is Santa the Deceiver’s way of hijacking the Christ child’s birthday? Kriss Kringle is a corruption of the German dialectal Christkindl, “little Christ child.” Were Satan and Santa separated at birth?
The Advent season is a fun time. For many Christians, it is the happiest season of the year. The joy comes from the anticipation: “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king.”I do not desire to dim the lights of Christmas, but it might be helpful to some to hear what the stories of Jesus birth are really about.There are four versions of the life of Jesus. We call them the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Only two of the versions say anything about the birth of Jesus.Mark, the first of the Gospels, begins the Jesus story with Jesus as an adult. John, the last Gospel written, likewise says nothing about the birth of Jesus. Matthew tells the birth story in only a few short paragraphs. Luke’s version of the beginnings of Jesus is four times as long as that of Matthew.Those two versions are very different. Luke plays with a much larger cast. His flair for the dramatic is pronounced. He includes an abundance of poetry and music with the support of angelic hosts.Reconciling the two versions has been tried by many, but never with success. They are two different stories. They each have their own distinctive version of the events that surrounded the birth of Jesus.
Sorry about the deadness. Man, I been fucking working mah fingers to the bone. Christmas shopping, tidying the house. I haven’t slept past 8:30am for the past three days. It’s not good for my laconic soul, it sure ain’t.
Seriously, I thought i’d have time to throw up some links. I’ve been collecting them for this exact purpose, but I been so worn out that I just couldn’t be arsed. Oh well, I’m gonna make up for it now.
So, these links. I haven’t had time to check them out but they look interesting.
For all those who are kicking back during the yuleness with a smidge of webness. These are for you.
Happy Xmas y’all
As christmas day is nearly upon us I thought i’d do a christmas related post. There may be more but don’t hold your breath.
There is a well established myth that the figure and iconography of father christmas/santa that we hold so dear (well, somebody holds it dear i’m sure) was dreamed up by the coca-cola corporation. I used to think this was true myself, the cynic that I am, but it turns out it’s simply not true.
The jolly old St. Nick that we know from countless images did not come from folklore, nor did he originate in the imaginations of Moore and Nast. He comes from the yearly advertisements of the Coca-Cola Company. He wears the corporate colors — the famous red and white — for a reason: he is working out of Atlanta, not out of the North Pole.
Origins: Among the pantheon of characters commonly associated with the Christmas season (both the religious holiday and the secular wintertime celebrations), the beloved persona of Santa Claus is somewhat distinctive in that his appearance is neither one that has been solidified through centuries of religious tradition nor one that sprang fully-formed from the imagination of a modern-day writer or artist. Santa Claus is instead a hybrid, a character descended from a religious figure (St. Nicholas) whose physical appearance and backstory were created and shaped by many different hands over the course of years until he finally coalesced into the now familiar (secular) character of a jolly, rotund, red-and-white garbed father figure who oversees a North Pole workshop manned by elves and travels in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer to deliver toys to children all around the world every Christmas Eve. (Among the many persons who had a hand in creating the modern Santa Claus figure, some of the most influential were writers
Washington Irving and Clement Clarke Moore, historian John Pintard, and illustrator Thomas Nast.)
However, we as human beings prefer definitive answers: We want details about time, place, and source and tend to eschew ambiguous, indefinite, open-ended explanations. We don’t find satisfying the notion that Santa Claus is an evolutionary figure with no single, identifiable point of origin, so we instead have created and clung to a more satisfying, pat explanation: The modern appearance of Santa Claus was a commercial creation of the Coca-Cola company, who cannily promoted a version of Santa garbed in their red-and-white corporate colors.
It is true that, since Santa Claus is an evolutionary figure, he did not suddenly appear fully-formed one day and immediately supplant every other similar character traditionally associated with Christmas — there was a period of overlap during which the modern Santa Claus character coexisted with other Christmas figures and other versions of himself, while his (now standard) appearance and persona jelled and his character grew in popularity to become the dominant (secular) Christmas figure in the western world. And it is true at the beginning of the 1930s, as the burgeoning Coca-Cola company was looking for ways to increase sales of their product during winter (then a slow time of year for the soft drink market), they turned to a talented commercial illustrator named Haddon Sundblom, who created a series of memorable drawings that associated the figure of a larger than life, red-and-white garbed Santa Claus with Coca-Cola, such as the following:
However, the modern version of Santa Claus was not created by Coca-Cola; Sundblom’s illustrations were based upon what had already become the standard image of Santa, as noted in a New York Times article published in 1927, four years before the appearance of Sundblom’s first Santa-based Coca-Cola ad:
A standardized Santa Claus appears to New York children. Height, weight, stature are almost exactly standardized, as are the red garments, the hood and the white whiskers. The pack full of toys, ruddy cheeks and nose, bushy eyebrows and a jolly, paunchy effect are also inevitable parts of the requisite make-up.
Illustrations of lavishly bearded Santas (and his predecessors), showing figures clothed in red suits (and hats) with white fur trimming, held together with broad black belts, were also common long before Coca-Cola’s first Santa Claus advertisement appeared, as evidenced by these examples from 1906, 1908, and 1925, respectively:
All this isn’t to say that Coca-Cola didn’t have anything to do with cementing the modern image of Santa Claus in the public consciousness. Coke’s annual advertisements featuring Sundblom-drawn Santas holding bottles of Coca-Cola, drinking Coca-Cola, receiving Coca-Cola as gifts, and enjoying Coca-Cola became a perennial Christmastime feature which helped spur Coca-Cola sales throughout the winter (and produced the bonus effect of appealing quite strongly to children, an important segment of the soft drink market). In an era before the advent of television, before color motion pictures became common, and before the widespread use of color in newspapers, Coca-Cola’s magazine advertisements, billboards, and point-of-sale store displays were for many Americans their primary exposure to the modern Santa Claus image.
In addition to this christmas myth there is another one that I grew up with, instilled into me by my Dad, that if it is too cold then it won’t snow. This is, as it goes, also bullshit.
The ingredients for snow are: (1) a temperature profile that allows snow to reach the surface, (2) saturated air, and (3) enough lifting of that saturated air to allow snow to develop aloft and fall to reach the surface. In a situation when it is said “it is too cold to snow” there is in reality not enough lifting of air that causes snow to reach the surface.
The phrase “it is too cold to snow today” probably originated as a misapplication of the relationship between temperature and the maximum amount of water vapor that can be in the air. When temperature decreases, the maximum capacity of water vapor that can be in the air decreases. Therefore, the colder it gets the less water vapor there will be in the air.
If the air cools to truly frigid Arctic temperatures such as -40 C and below then the moisture capacity of the air will be so low that likely not much snow can occur. Only at these extremely low temperatures is the phrase “it is too cold to snow” fairly valid.
As for the latter, well, that did allow me to highlight text so I’ve only quoted a few paragraphs. Original article here.
This is a bonus crush because I haven’t had time to post much and I gotta go into town looking for turkey. And an elf hat. Don’t ask.
It’s No Xmas for John Quays by The Fall, off their 1979 debut album Live from the Witch Trials. It’s to complement the last post.
Ah, blog comments. They’re a great place to let off steam, don’t you think? Find a post you disagree with and go let rip. Who doesn’t love doing that?
Only anybody with half a brain and some impulse control.
Yesterday I recieved two comments from a guy called robert. I won’t be revealing his email address, although an evil voice in my head is telling me to do so, because that would be unethical. I will, however, be posting his comments and my reply up here for everyone to see because in writing the reply i haven’t thrown up anything here on the blog and soon i must venture into town in search of a turkey and an elf hat.
First, his comments. They appear on two different blog posts. The fact that he took the time to look at two posts and leave two different comments that say basically the same thing warms the cockles of my heart, it really does. I’m just gonna mash them into one for the sake of brevity. Here they are:
Nice to hear educated debate.
Why was rage against the machine selected to go against the X Factor
It isn’t British
It isn’t any good.
Apart from that -exactly what point did it make???
Pity it wasn’t about music – rage against the machine is a bit of drivel that wouldn’t get airplay otherwise.
I’m not an x factor supporter but this isn’t people power – and why not pick a british act??????
Okay, now apart from his personal attacks on me and everyone else who got behind this campaign he does raise a few interesting points. Well, one interesting point. okay, half an interesting point. It amuses me that I mentioned brevity earlier, because here is my long ass reply:
really? I have to deal with someone like you when I’ve just gotten up? When I’ve barely had a slurp of coffee?
Why the hell not. Isn’t that what christmas is all about? Dealing with assholes? I mean, usually your related to them, but whatever.
you want educated debate? I could write you a 3000 word essay if you like, detailing the further decline in popculture that has been wrought by shows such as the X-factor. I could give you a history of xmas number one. For example how The Pogues were pipped to the number one spot by the Pet Shop Boys. Can anyone even remember that pet shop boys track? Fairytale of New York, on the other hand, is a xmas classic. Hell, It’s the only song that gets played around xmas that I can appreciate without bludgeoning myself over the head with a frozen turkey leg for 20 minutes. The xmas number one has always, in my opinion, sucked. Not this year though. This year it’s a song i actually like.
The song in question, Killing in the Name, is off rage’s debut album which came out in 1992. When released as a single back then it reached number 25 in the UK chart.
it’s 17 years old.
It boggles my mind just how many people haven’t heard of Rage against the Machine, it really does. I guess it just goes to show that if you don’t like rock or metal you live in ignorance of such acts. Of course, if you don’t like pop music chances are you’ve still heard of many of the acts because your beating senseless by their music from all angles. Radio, TV, adverts, newspapers, blah blah blah.
Why rage against the machine? They ain’t british, this is true. You’d have to ask the married couple that started the facebook campaign. Maybe they’ll get interviewed in the coming weeks. Maybe if you dig about on the facebook group you could find out. It is, perhaps, Rage against the Machine’s political stance that lead the couple to choose them. If you look into their history, say, on wikipedia you can see that they have a long history of political activism. You could of course state that how can they be anti-capitalism/anti-consumerism when they’re signed to Sony/BMG and their music is itself a consumer item? Well, here at Either/Or/Bored we reject such black and white interpretation, it’s kinda what the blog title means. Also, you might want to look up irony in the dictionary.
Then again, maybe it is the refrain that appears at the end of the track. “Fuck You, I won’t do what you tell me.” – a statement in this case that has to be directed and simon cowell and his x-factor offspring. It resonates quite well, don’t you think? Again, we get irony as well, as a bunch of people have basically done what this married couple on facebook has told them by buying the track en masse off amazon and the likes. Maybe the others who got behind this campaign are aware of this irony too and it just tickles their funny bone.
Or maybe it’s the irony of a song like this being the xmas number one when it is so completely UN-xmassy – it wasn’t release for the run up for christmas, it has nothing to do with christmas, the lyrics are about racism and police brutality, it’s from an album which is 17 years old, etc. etc. There are many songs that would of served the purpose, to be sure, many british songs, but Killing in the Name is as good as any. Maybe the fact that it isn’t british adds further to the irony value.
Okay, back to the not british thing. What would you of chosen? I’m quite partial to “no xmas for John Quays” by the fall. The Fall are the best band that nobody has ever heard of and they’ve been going since 1981, and they’re british. Mark E Smith, the only consistant member is from Manchester, although not originally i believe. I always sing “no christmas for donkeys” when it gets to the chorus because, as the story goes, joseph and mary road into bethlehem on a donkey, and I don’t know who John Quays is. It’s a great song, and even older than the rage track. I do feel, however, that more of the younger generation have heard of rage against the machine, which is a shame. The Fall are probably the better band. such is life.
okay, time to refer to your other troll-like comment that you left here, on a different post. You say that it wasn’t about the music, but i think it was, very much so. It was about rejecting the sugary ballard formula that has passed for the xmas number one here in the uk long before the x-factor turned up. You say that it isn’t people power when it so clearly is. People injecting a bit of life into the tepid waters of the christmas top-40.
You don’t like rage against the machine, fair enough. I do though. So do many other people. They’re a very popular band in the scheme of things. Here’s an idea: Why don’t you do a little bit of research before you go firing your mouth off on somebody’s blog and showing your ignorance? Just a thought.
Now, it’s not really in my nature to respond to trolls in comments. Okay, actually it is, but i contain myself because it is, ultimately, a futile gesture. I’ve made an exception for you robert because, well, your right. There hasn’t been an educated debate here on this blog concerning this whole thing. Do you know how rare it is for be to be able to earnestly get behind a pop-cultural phenomenon? Seriously, it never happens. I was enjoying myself. When i heard the song playing on the radio in its number 1 position i was giddy. I was singing along. I felt pretty damn good. Thanks for shitting all over that. Whoever you are your obviously a better person than me.
I hope this answers some of your questions.
If you’ve never heard The Fall I recommend them whole heartedly. I’d start with their early stuff (live at the witch trials was the first fall album I believe) and work your way forward. Note the evolution in sound. I hope you enjoy your moment in the sun robert. If you don’t, well, tough.
Well, I’ve just been listening to the top 40 for the first time in like over a decade. I haven’t given this much a fuck since The Prodigy were releasing singles from Fat of the Land, bouncing back and forth from radio 1 and the simpsons, counting the songs down. There sure is alot of shit in the top 40… although the latest Jay Z single is okay.
and the winner is, fresh off the radio waves….
Rage against the machine!
w00t! power to the people! counting digital single sales certainly does open up the top 40 to interesting posibilities.
Ah, lists of cultural stuffs. They’re paticularly prevailant at this time of year, although to be honest they’re pretty prevailant all year round on the internet. They’re okay for a giggle, I guess, but alot of them are a bit lazy and superficial.
This one is pretty interesting though. It’s from the Scottish Book Trust who turned me down for a writing bursuary earlier this year. I’m trying not to hold it against them though because, although I live in Scotland and have done for the past two years, I’m not actually Scottish. My girlfriend is though. I kinda hoped that would of counted for something. Maybe my writing just sucks.
Nah, Must be that other thing.
You’ll be able to find out for yourself soon enough as I’ll be posting extracts of my novel-in-progress at some point in the new year.
Lonely Planet – America on a Shoestring
chosen by Julia Collins
I was rather disappointed when I opened up my piece of paper to find that I had picked Jack Kerouac. Secretly, I had been hoping for a name for which I could recommend Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, as this tends to be my book of choice for, well, just about anything really. However, the thought of Jack Kerouac settling down in a drugged-up stupor to read Jane Eyre did not fit and instead I have settled for the Lonely Planet’s America on a Shoestring series.
I think that this series would have been invaluable for Jack, as apparently these books take you across the continent while “keeping some change in your pocket”.
The Complete Poems and Plays of TS Eliot
chosen by Anna Gibbons
I have agonised over this. A book for Stalin? Moreover a book that I’ve read? My repertoire consists largely of children’s fantasy and Stalin, in my humble opinion, wouldn’t get much out of Diana Wynne Jones. But I was struck by inspiration in the unlikeliest of settings. I attended a carol service in which the Professor of Divinity of Edinburgh University gave the address. I’m ashamed to admit I expected to be bored. But he spoke eloquently with a message for all, not just those who believe in the Christmas story. He talked of the Magi, the three wise men, and their quest to find Jesus and give him the gifts that were most precious to them. He particularly emphasised T S Eliot’s depiction of them in his poem ‘Journey of the Magi’ – after having seen Christ, returning to their own country and everyday lives is dull and painful. It’s hard to go back once discovery has taken you forward. The message of both the Professor and Eliot is this: life is about development, moving on, searching for a greater truth, being open, releasing the past, learning about what’s really important – messages which might have served Stalin well. As an after thought and a stocking filler I’d pop in The Little Book of Calm as well.
Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh
chosen by Olivier Joly
Tamburlaine Must Die is a thriller set in 1593 London that follows playwright Christopher Marlowe in the three days leading to his death as he searches for his own character who has escaped from between the pages of his play Tamburlaine the Great.
There is a theory that Marlowe faked his death in 1593 to re-appear as William Shakespeare (they were both baptized in 1564 and Shakespeare’s first play Comedy of Errors is believed to have been written between 1592 and 1594). It obviously makes a lot of sense for Shakespeare to read a book about his last days as his former self…
Swamp Thing: The Curse by Alan Moore
chosen by Sophie Moxon
Philip Pullman is a committed humanist who once said that, through his writing, he is “trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief”. Now I would hate to offend one of our finest writers by buying him a present in celebration of a religious festival he may well choose to ignore. Therefore, out of respect, I would like to use the money to buy myself a large glass of red wine with which to toast Philip’s continued health and happiness.
Unfortunately I’ve been told this is “cheating” so, just as a gesture of general good will, Philip is getting Swamp Thing: The Curse. This classic comic features the enigmatic John Constantine, a man who refuses to deal in absolutes and puts the good interests of people before the dictates of heaven and hell. I think Philip would appreciate that.
Turns out Father Christmas ain’t quite so white bread after all.
“An advent calendar of unpleasant Santa antics, with the occasional uplifting/confusing Santa action shot.”HammeredSanta“Y’know, for kids.”Brought to you by the producers of THE FIVE FISTINGS OF SCIENCE and HOBO DARKSEID: THE MUSICAL.