Yearly Archives: 2015

Every year at this time, conservative television pundits air their complaints about The War on Christmas.  They insist that Christmas has been stripped of its true meaning, which for them means shopping for gifts for their family and friends and then hearing a cashier say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” after ringing up the sale.

In this case I agree: there is persecution in our shopping malls.  It is not right that we single out Christians to suffer this crass, seasonal commercialization of their beliefs.  Instead, let’s be fair: if we are going to cash in on one belief system, we should expose them all to the withering wind of winter merchandising.

It is in that spirit (!) that I offer The 100 Billionth Pan-Theistic Holiday Catalog.  It is the Sharper Image of Spiritualism, the Brookstone of Belief, the Frontgate of Faith, all rolled into one last desperate grasp for your year-end shopping dollar.  Happy gifting!

• • •

JELLO SHOT MENORAH

Celebrate the long nights of Hanukkah in the spirit of your ancestors with this colorful Jello Shot Menorah!  One shot the first night, two shots the next… by the eighth night, you will be lit up like a rabbi’s menorah!  Will your bottle of vodka last all eight nights?  This fun glass-and-brass set may have the answer… if you don’t get shamashed first!
$89.95.

Jello Shot Menorah - Photoshop Image by CHCollins
Buddha Songbook - Photoshop Image by CHCollins

BUDDHA HOLIDAY SONGBOOK

All your favorite carols about The Enlightened One are in The Eight Days of Buddha Songbook, including the beloved mantra… “On the Eighth Day of Buddha, meditation revealed to me: the eight-fold path, seven factors of enlightenment, six paths of rebirth, five precepts, four noble truths, three poisons of the wheel of life, two schools of thought, and Buddha sitting by a Bodhi tree!”
$12.95.

“A FRANKLIN KWANZAA”

We all watch it on TV every year, but no one ever talks about how there is no “brown” in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Good grief, where are all the people of color?  Don’t worry, you will find them here in “A Franklin Kwanzaa” which stars Franklin Armstrong, the only black kid in the Peanuts neighborhood. Watch Franklin do his best to put the K back in Kwanzaa, in this 26-minute DVD!
$19.95.

A Franklin Kwanzaa DVD - Photoshop Image by CHCollins
A Clock in a Case - Image by Irving, Texas, Police Dept

CLOCK-IN-A-CASE (REPLICA)

Based on a design by 14-year-old inventor Ahmed Mohamed, this replica clock-in-a-case not only tells time but mystifies friends, teachers and politicians! Like the original, you can open the case to reveal scary-looking wires!  So the next time you visit our nation’s capital, bring your replica clock to the White House fence and see if the Secret Service will take you inside to meet President Obama!
$39.95.

EMPTY BOX OF ZEN

The best holiday gift for the Taoist in your life — and perhaps the one in your next life — is the gift of self-discovery and acceptance.  As the sages in our marketing department instructed us to say:

“This box contains nothing and everything.  What is inside the box depends on what is inside you.”

Gift wrap not available for this item.
$10.00.

An empty box? Or an empty life?

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Every few months, I scan the obituaries published in the so-called newspaper-of-record of this nation, The New York Times.  In the process, I invariably get annoyed how The Times picks and chooses certain lives to elevate while other humans pass on without notice.

You don’t have to pay very close attention to see that every New York Times obituary starts with a headline like this:

Deceased, Who Did X, Dies at Age N

The “Who Did X” qualifier seems to be the most important part for The New York Times.  Here is the all-too-homogenous assortment of “Who Did X” on The Times website as it appeared on November 30, 2015:

• Designer Who Influenced Choreographer
• Utah’s First Female Governor
• Co-Founder and Re-Inventor of Fashion Brand
• Writer for Stage and for Television
• Refined the Record Player
• Nurtured Dance and Joyce SOHO in Manhattan
• Painter of Scenes From African-American Social Life
• Japanese Star of Films by Ozu and Kurosawa
• Violinist and Boston Symphony Concertmaster
• Sly and the Family Stone Trumpet Player
• Coach of Houston’s Phi Slama Jama Teams
• Star of ‘All My Children’
• Student of Texas Blues
• Bustling Host of a Range of Game Shows
• Credit Card Pioneer

When you die, you are more likely to be memorialized by The New York Times if you had made your name as an artist or performer, as 11 of these 15 people were.  I love artists but I also love scientists, park rangers, cashiers and the people behind the counter at the airport that help you navigate the ever-more-complex process of boarding a plane.  These people never appear in the obituary section of The New York Times when they die.

And neither will I.  I am not the “star” of anything.  I have not made a zillion dollars on a smartphone app that helps you get a taxi 40 seconds sooner.  I have made good music but it will remain unheard by all but a few.  In my life, and in spite of my imperfections, I tried to be a good husband, a caring and protective father, a dependable worker and an interesting person to be around, if one could get past my introversion.

Which is not enough for The New York Times.

I have a strong anti-celebrity streak in me — not sure where it came from.  I have a gut reaction listening to famous people (Scarlett Johansson, Harrison Ford, Nathan Lane and on and on and on) expound on issues both trivial and crucial as if their takes on life are more important than yours or mine.  They’re not.  But those celebrities will be the ones whose lives are memorialized by The New York Times, because they entertained us, and by us I mean the editor of The New York Times obituary page.

Craig H. Collins, Who Did All Sorts of Things, Dies Whenever.  That will be the headline  that The New York Times never prints.

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It is not generally known to most Americans, but one of the more insidious provisions buried in the Affordable Care Act was the requirement that all Official Fan Clubs report their membership totals to the National Technical Information Service on September 30 of every odd-numbered year.  The most recent OFC report has just been released; I thought I would share some of it, as you are unlikely to see these figures published anywhere else.

This post focuses on the very smallest fan clubs, of those who bothered to report.  Here are the top dozen (or bottom, as it were).  Total membership is in parentheses.

• People Who Still Care About Don Draper Club (1)
• Hair Club for Trumps (1)
• We Just Can’t Get Enough of David Spade! Gang (1)
• The I Have Mixed Feelings About Tom Brady Club (2)
• I Love It When You Put Me on Hold Club (4)
• The Letter P Is NOT FUNNY Librarian League (9)
Wesley Crusher Fan Club (13)
• Toothbrush-Sharing Cooperative of Eastern Massachusetts (16)
• We Watch Boxing and Football Without a Shred of Guilt Club (18)
• Frozen Lightpole Lickers of The Upper Peninsula (19)
• Cubic Zirconia Investment Club (22)
• The 100 Billionth Person Appreciation Society (23)
• Vegans Against Cruelty to Shredded Wheat (28)

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