Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Little Cheer Never Killed Anyone

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There are some things I can see being angry about if they came early. A dentist appointment, for instance… or a physics exam. Things like these require a certain amount of preparation and mental fortitude; a need to harden your heart just the slightest bit, even. Honestly, I’d be pretty upset if I walked in to class one day and my professor said “Guess what! Your final has been moved from 2 months from today to… Today. Good luck.” Just the thought fills me with a sort of stomach sinking dread, and I can almost imagine turning to the kid next to me and spitting out a biting and unsolicited tirade.

“Can you believe this crap?” I might grumble. “Every year they move the final up earlier and earlier. Before you know it, the final’s going to be on the first day of class.”

Thankfully, this doesn’t happen. Finals are pretty consistently situated toward the very end of the quarter, and no matter how much it might seem like it comes faster every year, it doesn’t. And it never will.

Then there’s Christmas.

I’m not sure why anyone would feel the need to be angry at Christmas, but there’s definitely a discernible amount of bitterness toward the holiday. Especially this time of year when Thanksgiving has yet to pass, and Target’s been selling fake Douglas Firs for two months already.

Anger’s fine, though. It may leave me a bit puzzled, but who am I to look inside someone’s soul and tell them that what they think is hatred toward Christmas is really just a way to hide the fact that they’re mourning their lost childhood? I’m no one. However, I don’t particularly want to hear about it. I especially don’t want to be told that, in getting in to the spirit, I’m feeding in to some kind of corporate commercialistic gang bang. Because that’s just inappropriate. As it is, though, everyone has an opinion.

Today a man said to me “Happy Not-Thanksgiving-Because-It-Doesn’t-Matter-Anymore-Since-Christmas-Decorations-Are-Already-Up-Holidays!”

He really said that.

I kind of “heh”d in an effort at humoring him, but I’m not completely sure I was able to keep the confusion from showing on my face. Was his comment necessary? Did he absolutely need me to know that a few twinkle lights and snowman stickers had the power to ruin his day? I don’t know. Maybe that’s the case, but if it is, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Firstly, I don’t think that putting my tree up in November is going to lessen Thanksgiving for me or anyone else. I’m still going to spend time with my family. I’m still going to eat an impossibly large meal that I have no business having dessert after. My sister’s still going to suggest holding hands at the table and taking turns saying what we’re thankful for, and my dad, for reasons unknown to me, is still going to think that it’s an excellent idea. Walmart displaying advent calendars in November, October, or even July isn’t going to change that.

In any case, I have some doubts as to whether or not maintaining the sanctity of Thanksgiving even has anything to do with some people’s strange attitude toward the most festive holiday of the year. The other day I heard a woman actually claim to “hate” Christmas. When the person she was addressing responded with “Oh, well, I don’t hate Christmas. I just don’t see why it has to be pushed down our throats so early in the year”, she back pedaled a bit.

“Oh, well, right…” She said. “I don’t hate it. I just hate the commercialism.”

That right there is a really popular sentiment masquerading as radical. In other words, people like to think that it makes them seem cool or edgy to look with scorn upon something as harmless as having a flat screen TV advertised more aggressively in the newspaper, but it’s actually incredibly commonplace. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Starbucks is going to try to sell you a gift card this time of year. It does, however, take someone with real independence of thought to be able to look past all that and form their own opinion. If you don’t like commercialism, find a unique way to celebrate, and let other people enjoy their tree and hallmark cards. No one can force you to do it their way, so there’s really no sense in “bah humbugging” your way through the season.

And anyway, when it comes down to it, who doesn’t like getting gifts? You might say you don’t (I’m looking at you, Mom), but you do. Everyone does. Most people like giving them as well, because surprise! It feels good. So, I mean, I honestly don’t see a problem with a day centered around people giving other people things. Unless you’re a character in a Nicholas Hornby novel, you have no excuse to disdain christmas with the kind of raw enthusiasm that I’ve been seeing as of late.

So, this Thanksgiving, I want you to sit back and relax with a big plate of turkey and stuffing, and sing Jingle Bells louder than anyone else in the room. Or don’t… but at least smile.

A little cheer never killed anyone.

Over the Rainbow

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Over the Rainbow

I was born in LA.

I didn’t move here to pursue a dream. I’m not a waitress waiting to be discovered. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t think of this place as the center of the movie industry.

To me, Los Angeles is just home.

Recently, I watched a music video for a song called “The City of Angels”, by 30 Seconds to Mars. I think I’ve heard the song in passing a few times before this, and it never really struck any kind of chord with me. I probably even vaguely noted that it was most likely another one of those homage-to-LA songs without really having to stop to listen to it. There are plenty of those, at least a third of which being written by the Chili Peppers, and the rest being divided up between Sublime, West Coast rappers, and maybe Greenday, I don’t know. The point is, I’ve heard the “I love you in spite of your imperfections, LA” song. We all have.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the city, too… In fact, I ironically even happen to love it in spite of its flaws. That’s all well and good, and if someone wants to write a song reflecting those well meaning if clichéd feelings, I’m all for it. At the very least, not listening to music I don’t like has always been a relatively easy task for me.

But then, there’s this “music video” (an 11 minute long movie patting Hollywood on its back), and what I don’t understand, is the near complete lack of representation from anyone who actually lives here (outside of the bad Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson impersonators, of course, but you’ll forgive me if I feel that those don’t exactly count). Was this video supposed to tear me up with pride? It wasn’t even talking to or about people like me. The super rich and famous experience a part of this place that is so completely removed from what the majority of us will experience that, for all intents and purposes, they are talking about a different world.

Of course, having said all that, I might be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that, yeah… the video did almost, almost, choke me up a little. Which is irritating and, I imagine, as confusing to you as it was to me.

Perhaps getting emotional is the kneejerk reaction of being proud to see someone praise something I love. Maybe, in some weird way, I feel a kind of lame kinship with anyone willing to claim my city as his own. However, I don’t appreciate the glaringly obvious acting for the camera with such gems as Ashley Olsen’s “Fame is an illusion,” and Lindsay Lohan’s pregnant pause before stating “No one’s perfect.”

Really? I mean… really?

Also… I’m pretty sure that Ashley Olsen lives in New York. Why does she even get a say?

In any case, the video isn’t really the problem. Even the commercial for California is laden with shots of celebrities doing very out of the ordinary things. The Olsen twin was wrong. Fame is real. Hollywood is an illusion. Now, before you go and roll your eyes at that particular bit of absurdity, I don’t mean Hollywood the town; I mean Hollywood the idea. There is an image of LA that is perpetuated by the media and by those who have come here to “live the dream”, and that’s kind of all people see. They see the so-called glitz and glamour, and what’s more, they see a culture of superficiality.

No one sees me getting up at 3:30 in the morning to get to work on time. No one sees my fiancé wading through traffic for 3 hours a day. No one sees the first dates, or the broken hearts, or the skinned knees, or the high school graduations, or the birthday parties at the park, or the beach picnics, or… well, any of it. And as much as I’d love Olivia Wilde’s view of LA as “the promised land” to have anything to do with me, it doesn’t. And, unless you’re one of the very few extremely lucky people, it doesn’t have anything to do with you either. That place, Olivia Wilde’s Promised Land, doesn’t really exist.

LA is just a place where people live. Hollywood, however, is somewhere over the rainbow, where much different rules apply.

I’m not saying the spray tans and fake body parts don’t run rampant here, but I am saying there’s a lot more to The City of Angels than the Hollywood sign and Sunset Boulevard.

Disneyland, for instance.