Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Bah, humbug!

WARNING: rant ahead. Spittle-flecked, pinpoint pupils, steam coming out of the collar and out of the ears rant. Like all truly good rants, it's about something trivial. Christmas cards.

I was at the mall the other day, and stopped by the Hallmark shop to look for Christmas cards. Usually I do my Christmas card shopping in a frenzy of anxiety at the last moment, and the pickings are pretty slim, but this year I was early, and figured there'd be a good selection.

There wasn't. There was definitely a selection. But it wasn't good. It really, really wasn't good.

A taxonomy of Christmas cards:

  1. The religious card. Manger scene, Bethlehem under starlight, with the rubble from truck bombs airbrushed out, three wise men, cherubs, etc. Inside copy: "Angels we have heard on high, put prayer back in the public schools and impeach Earl Warren. Hosanna!" Now look, I've certainly got no objection to religious cards (I mean, it's a religious holiday), but why aren't there any cards with, say a Raphael madonna, and copy on the inside that won't make people think I'm an abortion clinic bomber? There's been lots of great Christian art over the past couple thousand years, and lots of Christian/Christmas symbols that have tremendous sentimental meaning. Isn't there any way for me to acknowledge the Christian tradition, and its many symbols and works, without coming across like someone who keeps the television tuned to televangelists all day long? Maybe not. Maybe this is too nuanced a message for a Christmas card. 
  2. The corporate card. Poinsettias, holly, wreaths, more poinsettias, candle, more poinsettias, inscrutable abstract design that looks like a Lincoln Continental hood ornament. Colors gold and red used prominently. Inside message: "Best wishes to you at this time of the year, whatever it is." The corporate card doesn't even acknowledge that there's some sort of holiday taking place. "Why are you even being sent this card? We have no idea!"
  3. The butt crack card. Santa bends over a chimney, shows his butt crack, reindeer make fun of him. "Santa's got a butt crack, that's hilarious, ho, ho ho!" Snowmen butt cracks. Reindeer butt cracks.
  4. Along the same lines, the salacious card, often involving Mrs. Claus, or curvaceous1 elves in bikinis. The less said about this one, the better. [wipes brow] Look, I've got nothing against elves in bikinis, especially curvaceous ones, but they're just wrong for Christmas.
  5. The winter solstice card. Images of various solar and vegetable deities, such as Osiris, Adonis, Mithras, Baldur, and Amataseru no Mikuni, and their festivals. Copy inside: "Join with us in celebrating the promise of spring, and the return of our god from the underworld. Remember to sacrifice turkeys and sweet pototoes, because in the modern world the cops get on your case if you sacrifice people." Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of these. They must have been sold out.
  6. The Thomas Kinkade2 card. Dear god, this is surely a sign of the End Times. Thomas Kinkade, the *coughcough* the self-styled 'Painter of Light', who can't even get his shadows to fall correctly according to his light source, in whose paintings light just springs out of nowhere, as if there were a bunch of stagehands with ellipsoidal spots and fresnels just off the edge of the canvas. 'Painter of Light'? Abuser of Light! Exploiter of Light! Pimp of Light! J'ACCUSE!!!! [slithy begins to spray spittle and tremble uncontrollably. cats flee in terror] Has Kinkade not been mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Revelations?
    8 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I heard the voice of the fifth beast say, Come and buy.
    9 And I looked, and behold a cream-colored Lexus: and his name that rode in it was MARKETING, and MEDIA followed with him. And power was given to them over the Fourth Estate, to sell with hype, and FUD, and with appeals to vanity, and insecurity, with keeping up with the Joneses.

    Biblical scholars identify 'Marketing' with 'the one who shall paint schmaltz', who was condemned as unclean by both Ezekiel and Tom Wolfe. Kinkade's name is featured prominently on the front of the card. I fear this trend. I haven't seen cards with the Ralph Lauren Polo logo on them yet, but it's surely only a matter of time.

So, what card did I ultimately buy? The least offensive. It's got a little illustration of a Klee-sque lion and lamb, and the message insides wishes you peace. It's rather retro, I think it looks rather like what my parents would have bought in the 1950's. People will probably take it as a political message against war with Iraq. It isn't. It's just a gentle card that wishes you peace.

1. This dates me, doesn't it? The word 'curvaceous' is so 1950's.

2. I'm probably getting into trouble for this, I think there's at least one person on my friends list who has said they have a Kinkade on their wall. I'm sorry, but he's not a very good painter. He is to painting what Edward Guest is to verse and Erich Segal is to fiction.

Home theater progress. Fabric is now up on all walls except the front screenwall. I'm very impressed with the fabric installer. Where the fabric covers the batting and other sound absorbent stuff on the side walls, it's tight as a drum. Hugs the corners perfectly. Looks extremely professional. Beautiful job. Screenwall will probably be done the day after Thanksgiving, and the molding early next week.



meaning: group, body, mass, ball, round
団地 == danchi == apartment complex, housing development
団体 == dantai == group
Outer radical is a symbol of rotation (回). Inner radical was originally a character meaning 'exclusive', literally meaning 'spinning weight'. This character originally indicated 'something made round', i.e., a ball. This meaning expanded to include 'lump', 'mass', and so on. How it came to mean 'group' is controversial. Current inner radical is 'hand/measure' (寸). Henshall suggests as a mnemonic:  'Measured circle produces well rounded group.'


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