Do or Do Not…

Here’s a well-known quote from a pseudo-Muppet:

But here’s a quote I like even better, especially as we embark on a new year:

It’s easy to fill your days with to-do lists. But to carve out enough space for the big ideas, you might be better served creating a “to-don’t” list.

[The Patricia Digh quote above was included in a recent 3-2-1 newsletter from James Clear. If you clear enough “don’t” space, adding his newsletter to your weekly reads is well worth it.]

A simple wish for 2023

For you: joy.

For the world: peace.

The original artwork above was done by my friend Damjana, whom I met 32 years ago. You can see more of her lovely illustrations at her Loddelina website.

Here’s to a joyful, peaceful new year!

Stay Weird!

“Weird Al” Yankovic has a biopic out called Weird. In true Weird Al fashion, it’s a parody of biopics. And of course it’s on a weird network (the Roku channel). Weirder still, Daniel Radcliffe plays Al.

I watched it last night. Pretty funny stuff. (One of the best running gags is that Al wrote an original song called “Eat it” and then Michael Jackson came out with “Beat it” as a parody of that.)

Here’s one of the opening scenes, poking fun at the trope of parents who just don’t understand:

“Stop being who you are and doing the things you love…” Classic!

But near the end of the movie, “Al” gives an awards ceremony speech that doesn’t seem like parody (if you can overlook the fact that he pees his pants):

“Live the life you want to live. Be as weird as you wanna be. You will never find true happiness until you can truly accept who you are.”

Al Yankovic plays the accordian. And he does parodies of pop music songs. Not exactly the template for a rocket ride to the top of the music charts. But somehow it worked.

He chose the weird path… the path that was true to himself… and it paid off.

What’s your weird? And are you living it?

Worst. Christmas Song. ever.

I’m a Grinch (pre-heart-growing-three-sizes). And I particularly despise the tripe foisted upon our ears from Halloween onward. You may call it “Christmas music” but to me it’s an aural assault equivalent to a million nails on a chalkboard.

99% of the holiday songs that are played ad nauseum are nausea-inducing. I don’t care if they’re “classics” from milquetoast crooners like Perry Como and Andy Williams or songs from new artists. They all stink.

The newer songs are particularly egregious. Every semi-popular artist releases at least one holiday tune, in a blatant attempt to weasel their way into the nearly-calcified list of 20 or so songs that are trotted out every year, merely to cash in on the “played every 30 minutes for 8 weeks every year” royalties. (It’s called the Mariah Carey Lottery.)

The worst offenders release an entire album of holiday music. “Why thank you, Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, we didn’t think we needed a bazillionth cover of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ but you showed us the error of our ways. God bless us, every one!”

This Tiny Tim probably did a Christmas album.

However, there’s a special place in my holiday hell reserved for what is undeniably the worst Christmas song ever: “The Christmas Shoes.”

Let’s break it down line by line (yes, I know Patton Oswalt does it so much better, but his version is pretty raunchy).

Typical dude, waiting until the last minute to do his shopping. Clearly this song was written in the pre-online shopping era. And let’s face it, no one is in a “Christmas mood” when they’re in a long line.

I think the boy needs to pee. I hope he doesn’t pee in the shoes!

Yes, our narrator is not in a “Christmas mood” nor is he in a Christian mood because he’s being awfully judgy about the lad’s appearance.

And the song has taken a dark turn. But even though the kid’s dad says “there’s not much time” he’s fine with his unaccompanied minor going to the store with a boatload of pennies to buy shoes for his dying mom. Imagine if the mom passes while the kid is out shopping… there aren’t enough pennies in the entire world to pay for the therapy sessions he’ll need.

Also, the dad has informed the wee one that momma is not long for this world, but he clearly hasn’t told his son how funerals work. I’ve been to a few services in my day and have yet to see an “open shoe” casket. So the poor kid is wasting his pennies.

The kid could probably just get her some house slippers. Or use his penny stash to get her some illegal pain meds.

Again, I’m going to go back to the casket thing… the kid should’ve purchased some earrings instead.

Our faithful narrator has been reminded of “what Christmas is all about”:

  • long lines
  • those super-annoying people who pay in cash
  • spending beyond your means
  • impractical gifts
  • imminent death

Sorry for being so grumpy. I blame the music.

The 12 Dates of Christmas

In case you hadn’t heard, Christmas is coming soon. The whole “peace on earth, good will toward men” part of the equation can get lost in a sea of shopping. Buy this! Buy that! “Makes the perfect Christmas gift!”

Chances are pretty good that you’re reading this from the cozy comfort of your home. Or perhaps you’re perusing this post on your smartphone while you’re out and about (you need a new hobby!). Either way, you have shelter… and an internet connection. So you probably don’t need any more “stuff” for Christmas.

Here’s a novel idea: give experiences instead of “stuff”… give the gift of time together. (Time is the most precious gift of all, right?)

That’s what I did last Christmas. Instead of buying my wife a bunch of stuff, I created “The 12 Dates of Christmas” – I planned out an excursion for each month of 2022, to a different neighborhood, where we could “buy local.” Patronize locally owned shops, dine at local restaurants, enjoy a beverage or two at a local watering hole,… visit local parks and attractions too.

We’ve been married for 25 years, and have lived in this city even longer, yet there are so many neighborhoods that we hadn’t fully explored, so many new (non-chain) restaurants to try, new breweries, or places that we hadn’t been to in ages (looking at you, comedy club).

Yes, it’s still commerce, but at least our dollars are staying in the community instead of going to China.

Source: Huff Post

And it ensured that we had a planned “date night” every month. (OK, not every month – we missed a few. We skipped the February one because the Bengals made the Super Bowl – didn’t see that one coming!)

Your 12 Dates don’t have to be with a significant other. It could be lunch with a parent or grandparent. A ballgame with an old friend. Spending your time with someone you love is much more valuable than more “stuff.”

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