M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, December 31, 2002  

You guys responded to a host of topics from December, which is good because frankly, you’re sucking wind on getting me travel tips for Austin. We're leaving next week, you know. Aside from a precious few notable and much appreciated exceptions, y’all have been pretty tight-lipped about the wonders we should experience in the capital of the fourth-largest state in the union (see? That’s what happens when I have to do my own research, people). Compared to the flood of tips I got regarding Seattle, the Austin info I’m getting isn’t even a trickle. If it doesn’t pick up in the next week, I’m going to have no choice but to conclude that Seattle is way, way cooler than Austin.

Here’s further proof of that statement, in the form of an e-mail from adopted Seattleite Gael at Pop Culture Junk Mail:

A friend was saying that she's always shocked when people say their "favorite" Christmas song is "Do They Know It's Christmas," because it's really not meant to be anyone's favorite song, it's a MORAL LESSON. Or, in her words, "People, have we forgotten the clanging chimes of DOOM?"

"There's a world outside your window...And it's a world of dread and fear...Where the only water flowing...Is the bitter sting of tears..."

I must confess, I had forgotten about that song when I said “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was the most depressing. There’s certainly a case to be made for “Do They Know It’s Christmas” being a deeper bummer. But at least it tells you what to do about it. For me, the call to action redeems it, saves it from being completely dismal, expresses a message of positivity and hope. No, I’m not talking about the “Feeeeeed thuuuuuh WAAAAAH-orld” outro. I’m talking about this line:

Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

Why, I believe I will! Thanks, God! I owe you a solid!

Wendy at Pound also chimed in. She says:

Man, I love it when someone writes the same thing I was thinking. Ever since I heard a version of that song with the "muddle through somehow" line in it, I have been fascinated with it, and it's one of my favorite Christmas songs now. This season I've been hearing a version by Coldplay (a band that has never terribly impressed me otherwise) that really does justice to what a sweet downer of a song it is, although it ultimately cops out by using the "shining star on the highest bough" line. And just the other day I was telling someone it was a good thing that they didn't use it or else you'd want to slash your wrists.

Based on that heads-up, I mailed my all my knives to Australia and gave Coldplay’s version a listen. Of course, I acquired a legitimate copy of said version from an authorized dealer of musical recordings in exchange for legal currency and not by downloading an illicit mp3 file via some insidious piece of file-sharing software, because I am a law-abiding citizen of this republic and not a scurvy pirate. It is indeed a perfect song for Coldplay. Those guys would sound sad if they were singing about having sex with a pile of chocolate-covered money at Disneyworld.

There’s also a version by Lucinda Williams in which I think she might actually be sobbing. Maybe next year I’ll collect all of these recordings on a mix tape and bring it to holiday parties. Then the following year, I won’t have to go to any.

Just imagine a transition here, okay? This is long enough as it is.

I had kind of a frightening moment last week when Trash called me from the study to say I had an e-mail.

“From whom?” I answered from the kitchen. Yes, I really talk like that.

Val Kilmer,” she said.

No, she doesn’t really talk in hypertext links to my archives.

I nearly had a thrombo. Then I remembered what Val Kilmer looks like now, and I relaxed. Then I realized that Trash was just reading me the subject line on a note from a reader named Robin and I relaxed even more.

Man, I saw that commercial, and I had exactly the same reaction that you and Mrs. Trash did. "Who...wait a minute...is that VAL KILMER? Holy God, what the hell happened to him?" My roommate and I decided that he looks as though he's had reconstructive surgery. Or like a big alien bug has actually taken over his body, like Vincent d'Onofrio in "Men in Black." Either way, he looks like he's not only been beaten with the ugly stick, but perhaps had the whole ugly tree fall on his face. And quite frankly, it scares me a little.

I suspect Robin knows some people in the industry, because her theory is uncannily close to the truth. According to today’s Variety, the ugly tree was cut down, pulped, converted into paper, and used to giftwrap Kilmer for thirty-six hours as part of an elaborate prank. Tragic, really.

I also got this sad missive from Talula, under the plaintive-sounding subject line, “He was Batman.”

I just wanted to thank you for your comments regarding Val Kilmer. Here I was, feeling disturbed and wronged every time that commercial aired. But now I know I’m not alone. I just can’t believe that my over-a-decade-long crush on the actor has ended because of a camera. After all, this is a man who made “I’m your huckleberry” sound cool and threatening. Poor Val—a hat would have been a moral imperative.

Points for the Real Genius reference. Even a hat with an LCD display would have been an improvement.

Kelly wasn’t responding to a specific post, but she did send pictures. So she wins.

As much as I'm left in awe and amazement at the human-like qualities and antics of your much beloved cats, can they top this?

The amazing cat who sits up like a person, and yet still pees in sand box.

(And yes, that's how this cat normally sits. it's really weird. It's also quite disturbing to people who haven't been exposed to such things.)

People rhapsodize about the grace, dignity, and poise of the common domestic housecat. Those people have never met a common domestic housecat. I love the expression on this cat’s face; what he’s doing is completely normal to him. “What? I’m just sitting. Are you gonna get me a beer or what?”

Trash’s aunt’s cat used to sit like that sometimes. Normally he was very shy and would hide whenever anyone came over. But once in a while, when the aunt had only one guest, and the guest was female, he would sit on the floor, prop his back against the wall, fix his eyes upon the woman in question, reach down deliberately, and—sorry, Kelly—diddle himself.

He would do this outside of his caretaker’s line of sight, so she’d just be sitting there, wondering why, for example, her date was cutting her eyes to one side with increasing frequency and distress.

Or why Trash’s mom was demanding, “Does he have to stare at me while he does that?”

Or why the nun from the Catholic school down the street would wonder, “Is your cat okay?”

Good question, because it’s not like he could have been getting much out of it, being a) fixed, and b) a cat. I don’t care how much he dug the ladies; making his paw go boppity-boppity-boppity over his vestigial feline organ could have had no purpose other than messing with people’s heads. Which I can’t really condemn, given the lengths I sometimes go to for the same purpose. Hell, I even bought a domain name for that purpose.

I also can’t condemn it because that cat died two weeks ago. Rest in peace, Spice.

Dammit, look what I did. I wrote myself into a corner. How do you segue from a recently dead pet? You better have something like a war—wait, okay, here we go.

The preposition entry had readers at each other’s throats! Well, not really, but I had to trump it up a bit. Here’s what the Two B.O.B.s had to say:

so what if removing prepositions from the ends of sentences requires grammatical acrobatics. SO WHAT! just do it and quit yammering about how hard it is. honestly. don't you think if we had complex grammatical filters in place we'd be more inclined to THINK about what we say. we'd probably be more adept at avoiding verbal gaffes a la trent lott, would you not agree? okay maybe not. But still. we should think more about what we say and make a conscious effort to remove verbal static and prepositions from our daily lives. i'm just saying.

Good point. Grammatical rules exist to promote clarity and coherence, after all.

Others backed my position, stating that the preposition rule can actually obscure meaning, and for what? Erin explains:

I learned in graduate grammar class (yes, it was horrible, thanks for asking) that the "don't end a sentence with a preposition" rule was espoused by the poet Dryden in the 16th century because he thought that English should follow Latin grammar rules. It was a totally made up rule.


Stupid Dryden. He wrecks everything. But as Tresa learned during a job interview, it’s still dangerous to ignore the rule entirely—or is it?

I find this guy on Monster.com, send him my resume, and he calls me in. He was one of those sixty-year-old, pulled up by the bootstrap, "I never got any education and I'm going to prove to anybody who slows down that I never needed any, so immense is my natural genius" kind of guys. So I show up and eight hours later, we're still freaking talking! An eight-hour job interview!

He gave me a geography quiz, a personality test, and then he had me give him an extemporaneous writing sample. By that time it was about 4:30, I'd been there since nine with no lunch and at one point he even called my husband in (we only had one car so he came to pick me up at ten and got stuck waiting there all freaking day) to give him an interview. So he takes one look at my writing sample and tells me that it sounds like either I haven't written very much, or I didn't know what I was doing because I ended my first sentence with a preposition. I launched into a lengthy dissertation about the English language being a spoken and transitional language, blah blah blah whatever my professors used to say, and I could just see his ears close up. That's when I knew the job was lost. That was his thing to criticize and I criticized his criticism, which was just unacceptable. Another three months of unemployment was beyond worth not working for that guy. I can see that now. There's nothing so dangerous as a truly stupid person who thinks they are smart.

That guy sounds straight outta Seinfeld. I suspect that terminal preposition was actually Tresa’s subconscious mind refusing to get into the trunk like a good little hostage. Congratulations, Tresa. You owe your subconscious a solid.

Happy new year, and be safe tonight. I hate to think of anybody reading my yammering on the last day of their lives.


posted by M. Giant 3:25 PM 0 comments


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