Everybody abuse

Regardless of what the calendar says, holidays never fall on a weekend. The day off work is the holiday, and that’s today, so today was Xmas (observed).

Ever since 1987, the year I quit Christmassing and saw Broadcast News instead, my only holiday tradition has been seeing a first-run movie with all the trimmings — popcorn, Raisinets, a huge Diet Coke from the fountain, and in years past usually a hot dog or three. This year I'm mostly vegetarian, so I traded the hot dogs for a few extra boxes of Raisinets.

There was nothing good playing first-run, though, so I CalTrained to San Jose for a double feature of schmaltz at the Towne. I had to bring a bus map to get there. Never been to the Towne before. It's a nice old theater, a little musty and run down, which is great — adds to the time travel factor, of watching old movies in an old theater.

The Yearling (1946) is a tearjerker about a boy and his fawn, growing up together amid Florida scenery. It’s quaint, cuz it was filmed in an era when kids were kids, at least in the movies, and utterly unlike any real kids I ever knew or was.

It has death and violence enough to keep me entertained, though, especially a fierce battle between a bear and two dogs, which I’m guessing was not filmed under SPCA guidelines. There’s also a cool tree house, and an oddly dark performance by Jane Wyman as the kid’s mom. And yeah, I cried at the end. Cried at the middle, too.

The second feature, Little Women (1933), is based on Louisa May Alcott's book, which I've never read, but the movie was tiresome. It’s the story of four sisters, all spunky as sin, but without any sin. They’re supposed to be adolescents but they all look like they’re in their mid-20s, and they have a perfect mother who’s also spunky and sinless. So it’s five grown women being spunky, while Daddy’s off fighting the war. (I’m not sure which war. There’ve been so many.)

It all struck me as trite and smarmy, like an old Osmond Brothers TV show done up in drag. And, Christopher Columbus! I like Katherine Hepburn, but how many times in this movie does she say “Christopher Columbus!” as it it’s a cuss word? Spunky!

♦ ♦ ♦

I fell asleep on the long train ride home, until some woman and her toddler daughter got on at Menlo Park. From the moment they stepped on, the kid was singing the theme from Barney. “I love you, you love me, we’re just like a family…” She'd sometimes stop for a minute or two, but then she'd sing it again for five minutes, ten minutes.

Over and over, that endless ode to the AntiChrist, as I glared at my reflection in the window. Christopher Columbus! I wanted to slap her around — not the kid, I’m not cruel, but her mother — because letting a child watch Barney is child abuse, and letting the kid sing that song over and over was simply, I dunno, everybody abuse.

They were on the top shelf of seats at one end of the train car, and I was at the bottom on the other end, so all I could see was the kid’s shoes. At every station I glances up at those shoes, hoping they’d be walking down the stairs and off the train, but she kept singing and not leaving.

By Hilldale I couldn’t stand it any more, so I said slowly and very loudly, “Barney … is … dead,” and the kid was suddenly quiet for several seconds. Then she started crying.

The crying was better than the singing, though. Pretty soon I was back to my napping, but I caught a mean scowl from an old woman across the aisle before drifting away.

♦ ♦ ♦

Walking back to the rez hotel, I stopped to watch a wondrous ritual. Some guy inside a store was carrying an armload of mutilated red and green cardboard, a Christmas sale display of some kind, out to the dumpster. He tossed the Xmas rubbish in, hit a button, and the dumpster whined and whirred and compacted that Christmas crap to nearly nothing. 

There was some symbolic truth in that moment, certainly more than in any Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph nativity.

♦ ♦ ♦

Perhaps even more religiously moving for me, I stepped into Walgreens for one more box of Raisinets, and noticed that they’ve taken all those repulsive battery-powered talking/singing Xmas knickknacks off the shelves for another year.

Why would anyone, even someone who’s enthusiastic about Christmas, want plastic season’s greetings repeated ad nauseam by a recorded voice, for $9.95 yet? Christopher Columbus!

 From Pathetic Life #7
Monday, December 26, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. I'm looking at the Christmas 1994 box office chart. Ain't the internetr fucking amazing?


    You already saw Star Trek Generations. There'a a lot of pure garbage, particularly the comedies at the top. But you could've seen Stargate, which was pretty good. I have to assume you'd already seen Pulp Fiction and Clerks, toward the bottom of the list. Pret A Porter was a decent, if not great, Altman movie.

    1. I later realized I was wrong about two out of three, but Stargate, Pulp Fiction, and Clerks all looked uninteresting to me in first release. I saw the latter two because people I trusted told me they were good, and I think it your say-so that got me to see Clerks. I've never seen Stargate; the TV show looked bad enough.

    2. God, it's been an easy 20 years, but I remember Stargate as being good schlock. Fucking Kurt Russell in a sci-fi action flick? Can't be that bad. I even read the novelization, god knows why, and didn't hate it.

    3. Sounds like a recommendation from a friend, so the original Stargate has been added to my list.

      Not the TV show, though. A guy's gotta have some standards.


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