Monday, December 21, 2015

Celebrating the Holidays Under a Chinese Curse: A Cranky, Rambling December Blog Post

You’ve no doubt heard the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”  It’s a curse because “interesting times,” while fun to read about much later, are often hell to live through.  Reading about the French Revolution or the Holocaust or the United States Civil War is radically different — and infinitely safer — than experiencing them firsthand.

Well, we’re living through some interesting times right now.  Somebody has slapped that curse on our ass, and it has stuck.  Don’t believe me?  Three words: President Donald Trump.  Hey, get used to them because you might be saying them a year from now.  A month or six weeks ago, I would have laughed at that suggestion, but now I can’t because too many people are buying what he’s selling.

Trump talks about being president the way drunk frat boys talk about being president, and the worse he gets, the higher his numbers go.  That human flame war has turned political debates into ratings bonanzas.  Have you noticed?  The media are now reporting the ratings of political debates the way they report the ratings of the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards telecast.  With people getting more extreme in both politics and religion in the last couple of decades, elections were already getting weird.  But Donald Trump has turned this election into a slimy reality TV show that has WAY too much reality in it, because this rhinestone rodeo clown is not going away and people from both ends of the partisan spectrum are cheering him on.

Once he wins the primary, I’m guessing he’ll choose as his running mate someone like Omarosa or Martha Stewart, just to show everybody how much he loves women, and then he’ll spend the rest of the campaign commenting on her various body parts.  Upon winning the presidential election, he’ll bring in a team of contractors to turn the White House into a gold-plated Trump palace.  He’ll turn the gift shop into a casino, install an obstacle course in the White House tour and turn it into a reality TV competition on Fox.  I’d give it two months before he’d have us at war with every other country on the planet.  And it wouldn’t be for any of the standard geopolitical reasons, it would snowball out of control over something really stupid, like Trump insulting a world leader’s wife, or telling Angela Merkel she looks like a Minion.

Inspired by the popular fireside chats of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Trump would have a weekly fireside chat, but it would be on TV instead of radio, with a live studio audience and a band, and the fire would be a pile of burning books.  It would be the Koran on the first episode, but then he would extend it to books about the Koran, books written by Muslims, books in which Muslims are portrayed favorably, and he would just keep going until he ran out of Muslim books and started in on everything Mexican.

Trump would be a disastrous president, but I understand his popularity.  People are angry and scared.  All they see are problems that are getting worse and causing more problems and they don’t see them being fixed or even addressed because the people in positions of power are too busy doing other things that often make no sense, but that’s OK, because those things really have nothing to do with us and everything to do with big-money interests.  People are terrified and pissed off and here comes Moneybags McShowbiz with his bluster and his unfiltered bloviating and that thing that lives on top of his head, and people hear things coming from his mouth that they’ve been thinking but have been afraid to say.  They’re looking for solutions to their problems, but with none of those handy, most are angry enough to take scapegoats instead (unfortunately, all too many people don’t know the difference between the two), and Trump has been handing those out like candy on Halloween.

Good leaders appeal to the best in us.  Those who appeal to the worst in us, as Trump does, do not have our best interests at heart, and while they may lead us, history shows that it’s always in the wrong direction.

But, hey, they make for great TV!

Yes, interesting times.  Presidential candidates who sound like they’re running for the position of dictator or king, terrorists, both foreign and domestic, crap falling out of the sky, both space rocks and space junk, twisted little snots shooting people because they can’t get laid, — it sounds like a goddamned video game, but we call it home.

The genres of horror and crime lost a powerful voice when Tom Piccirilli left us all too soon in 2015.  We lost Wes Craven, the man who took us to Elm Street.  And Spock died.  Spock.

Not only is David Letterman gone, which is enough to make me lose the will to live, but late-night talk shows have been replaced with children’s programming.  Instead of acerbic wit, we now get obnoxious games and karaoke and videos from YouTube.  Craig Ferguson has been replaced on The Late Late Show by the single most annoying human being currently drawing breath on this planet.  First, CBS conducted a search for the most annoying person in the United States, and you know that had to go on for a while because there’s no shortage of them in this country.  But so serious and determined were they that even America’s most annoying did not meet their rigid standards.  They had to import an annoying guy from the UK.  But it was worth the effort because James Corden plunges to new depths of “annoying” previously undreamed of by even the most daring irritants.  Every night in front of the camera appears to be his first as he shouts every word in a whiny, pleading voice that suggests he may burst into tears if you don’t absolutely love everything he does.  After years as a regular viewer of THE LATE, LATE SHOW, I have been unable to get through a single episode from beginning to end.  He’s been so successful at annoying the hell out of everyone during his first five months that CBS has extended his contract all the way to 2020.  Because apparently the earth has passed through some invisible membrane into a dimension of wall-to-wall shit.

And now, like the contents of Fibber McGee’s closet (Google it, kids), the holidays are upon us again.  But this year, I’m not feeling it.  It seems like we just put the Christmas decorations away a few months ago, and now Christmas is this week.  This year, the decorations and crowds and music are more of an annoyance than anything else.  Does that mean I’ve finally grown up?

Normally, the new year brings a lot of promise.  This year . . . not so much.  According to all the radio advertisements, we should be building bunkers and filling them with survivalist food to hold us over through the apocalypse.  And the programs between the commercial breaks allow us to pick the apocalypse of our choice.  You want a socialist hellscape with piles of skulls in the killing fields?  Listen to Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, or a host of others.  How about aliens?  Or mind-controlled enslavement to the Illuminati?  Or maybe you prefer Planet X slamming into us?  For those, tune in to George Noory, Clyde Lewis, David Shrader, or a host of others.  How about a totalitarian Christian theocracy in which you’re taxed for not going to church, homosexuals are executed, and atheists and believers in false religions are thrown into prisons or work camps?  There’s no end to the supply of religious radio shows calling for that.  You want informative talk?  Casual conversation on relatable topics?  Fuck you, we’re in the Shit Dimension now and we don’t do that sort of thing here.  If it doesn’t make you angry or afraid or both, it’s crap!

I apologize if this Christmas post has been too negative for you, but I refuse to post trigger warnings.  Maybe I’ll do a better job of catching the holiday spirit next year.  This year, I’m going to try to stay low and keep my mouth shut.  I hope you have a Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a lovely solstice — whatever you celebrate.  And if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness and don’t celebrate anything, have a nice day.  But to be safe, you might want to buy and put away some canned food.  And maybe a gun or two.

Happy Apocalypse.