Holiday Rant

by Bob Sparrow

I was just coming down from my three Three Musketeers high the day after Halloween, OK four, when my Sirius radio started playing Christmas music, my wife started telling me about our Thanksgiving Day plans and our friends were asking me what we’re doing for New Years Eve. I’m thinking to myself, why have ‘they’ crammed these four holidays into the last 62 days of the year?

It’s 62 days of eating candy, then eating leftover candy, then eating excessively large turkey dinners, then eating calorie-rich Christmas meals accompanied by eggnog, wassail or the latest ‘holiday beverage’, and then we’re expected to have the ‘party of the year’ to celebrate the coming of a new year. If I had lost any weight on the variety of diets I’ve been on throughout the year, that ship set sail with the Three Musketeers. Which is how New Year’s resolutions get created I guess.  You know, historians aren’t really certain about the actual birth of Jesus anyway and the Gregorian calendar, which we follow, is only one of many available calendars so I say move Christmas and New Years to the summer, where at least we can get out and walk off a few calories.

Thank you, Columbus!

And as long as we’re moving holidays around, there’s probably some we could get rid of altogether. Columbus Day immediately comes to mind – a holiday that hangs just outside of that 62 day window, on October 14. This is a strange one to me since Christopher Columbus never set foot on U.S. soil, yet for years we’ve celebrated this Italian’s ‘discovery of America’ along with his other bogus discovery – proving the world wasn’t flat!   Columbus Day’s status as a holiday has been sketchy at best.  Some states don’t recognize it, but rather eschewed this holiday for ‘Indigenous People’s Day’, which was started in 1992 by, who else, the city of Berkeley.  It does make me wonder why we don’t have a national holiday to celebrate Native Americans.  I guess we just don’t want to be reminded of what we’ve done to them.  But Columbus is vigorously celebrated in many Italian communities, just as the Irish observe St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, which was the day St. Patrick died in AD 461 – not sure how that became a holiday. To most of us it’s just another time to hoist a drink – preferably Irish whiskey or beer.

So we have the Italians and Irish taken care of and the Afro-Americans with the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, which is the ‘third Monday in January’ – I wonder if that’s how it read on his driver’s license. This federal holiday was first celebrated in 1986, but Arizona didn’t recognize the holiday until 1992 when the NFL boycotted the state’s Super Bowl. New Hampshire was the last state to adopt the holiday in 1999. Three states, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, today, celebrate both MLK’s and Robert E. Lee’s birthday on that third Monday in January – apparently hoping that the ‘south will rise again’.  But the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., at 18%, the Latinos, have no national holiday. Yes, there’s Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated where there are heavy Hispanic populations, but that commemorates a short-lived victory of Mexico over France. I guess Taco Tuesday is going to have to do until we celebrate a birthday of someone like Cesar Chavez – his birthday was March 31, but it can easily be changed to ‘the last Monday in March’.

It used to be that we’d celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on Feb 12th and Washington’s birthday on Feb 18th and if I’m not mistaken, back in the day we got both of those days off school if they fell during the week. Now they’ve combined them so that we have President’s Day on the third Monday in February. But it is not just to celebrate Lincoln and Washington birthdays, it is to celebrate ALL presidents. So next February don’t forget to wish Rutherford B. Hayes a happy birthday.

I hate to pick on another religious holiday, but have you ever wondered why the date for Easter keeps moving around? Well, exactly when we celebrate this highly religious holiday is based on the position of the sun along with the phases of the moon.  For the record, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (approximately March 20-21 in the northern hemisphere), when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator – seems rather voodoo-like to me for such an august occasion.

Then there’s the ‘BBQ Holidays’, Memorial Day, when we break out the BBQ, Independence Day, when the BBQ works its hardest and Labor Day, after which we put the BBQ away. I think the meaning of these holidays gets diluted in all the BBQ sauce and the attendant adult beverages, so I’m suggesting that these holidays be moved away from summer.

Oh yeah, there is another holiday in these last 62 days of the year, Veterans Day; yep, that’s this week, but don’t feel bad if you didn’t remember it, most people don’t. This is only a holiday that celebrates the men and women who have defended the freedoms that give us the right to be such a diverse and dysfunctional country.

Go wild and crazy this week and celebrate by thanking a veteran for his/her service.


by Bob Sparrow

  oscar2    People's Choice Awards     writers guild Golden-Globe critics choice

     The ‘Oscars’ or The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (Sciences?) Awards Show as they are more pretentiously called, is the final period, at the end of a ‘Let’s Pat Ourselves on the Back Season’ sentence.  It is a season that includes, but is not limited to, the ‘Peoples Choice Awards’ (as apposed to the Vegetable’s Choice Awards), the Golden Globes, Writer’s Guild of America Awards, Critic’s Choice Awards, The Kennedy Center Awards and The Screen Actor’s Guild Award.  It’s like Little League, where no one is allowed to strike out and everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season.

Why so many award shows?  Because WE’LL WATCH THEM!  We’re interested in the stars being feted despite the fact that these were the kids in school who were really good at making up stories (liars) and pretending to be someone else (psychotics).  These were the creative ones who didn’t always fit into the mainstream, but occasionally fit into a dumpster by a high school bully.  We follow their lives maybe because they are so unlike ours – they’re good looking , rich and have their own therapist.  They also set the standard for partying.

Skyline   It was thus with much enthusiasm that I accepted an invitation to Sunday’s ‘Oscars Extravaganza’ at the estate of Michael and Tanis Nelson, of the Skyline Heights Nelsons.  Michael is a tennis pro who’s no stranger to Wimbledon (of course he had to buy a ticket every time) and Tanis, who is a professor of very undergraduate students in the Inland Empire. Skyline Heights, for those unfamiliar with the southern California environs, is a tony, OC hillside neighborhood overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Fashion Island Mall and the Santa Ana Sand & Gravel Quarry.  For security, the denizens of ‘The Heights’ chose not to put up a guard gate and sentry, but rather just have some exceptionally mean dogs roam the streets.

The neighborhood gets excited for an Oscar party as everyone in ‘The Heights’ believes they look like a famous actor or actress.  At these parties you’ll hear the ladies ask one another ‘who’ they are wearing, while the men grumble innocuously of their pork belly investment portfolios.  So the parties are always well attended, elegant and superciliously delightful.

The Nelson gala was no exception.  A ‘Brown Welcome Mat’ served as the ‘Red Carpet’ and once inside the Nelsons had meticulously decorated each room in an ‘Oscar theme’ . . .

–        There was the ‘Lincoln Room’, where one had to negotiate to emancipate their dinner from the kitchen help

–       The ‘Les Mis Room’ where you could act out a scene from the movie only if you sang out of tune and wore that hideous Russell Crowe hat

russell crowe hat

–       There was also the ‘Beast of the Southern Wild Room’ where you could actually adopt a baby from Africa

Then there was the popular ‘Video Room’ where guests could opine into a camera on various political and environmental issues of the day, whether they had any real knowledge of them or not.  The videos were then streamed on a huge screen in the Nelson ‘Home Theater Room’ throughout the evening.  Well, not all the videos are streamed, only those espousing a liberal point of view.

The Nelsons even provided ‘Seat Replacers’, so when you excused yourself to the restroom someone (looking very much like you) would rush in from out of nowhere and take your place in an animated conversation until your return.  This way the party always looked full and fun.

james franco     The piece de résistance was the Master of Ceremonies, who was hired by the Nelson to preside over the evening; I was hoping it was going to be Billy Crystal, he’s my favorite, but it was James Franco.  I think Franco did a decent job in the movie 127 Hours, where he portrayed a man who had to cut off his arm to save his life when it became lodged between two rocks in a remote Utah canyon.  At the Oscars two years ago, Franco, as MC, played a man with his brain lodged between two rocks and should have stayed in a remote Utah canyon.  I suppose the Nelsons got him cheaply.

Dinner included an eclectic, thematic fare that featured, Chips and ‘Fresh Guacamole’, ‘Django Unchained’ and Free Range Chicken, Corn-fed ‘Argo’ beef, ‘Beast of the Southern Wild’ Rice; all served up with a delightful Middle Eastern red wine called ‘Zero Dark Thirsty’.  Dessert was the highlight of this remarkable repast as it featured a ‘Life of Pi’ eating contest.

The final Oscar is presented and Michael turns to Tanis and says, “Let’s go to bed so these nice people can go home.”  I can’t decide which post-Oscar party to hit, the Vanity Fair bash or the Governor’s Ball, but since I wasn’t invited to either, I go home, slip into something more comfortable and watch a good movie.  I love movies.

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