Monday, December 22, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 83-84

Apparently I have some editing that needs to be done to some of the bottom ones. Whoops. Here's the first two from December and stay tuned for something NEW! Ah.

Part 83

Declared a recession, and all we have to talk about is Christmas cheer? We can do better than that, right?

Let’s call this the however many blogs of Christmas I decide to write, and the first one gets to be the kick-off, where we discuss, of all things:


When I worked retail, and I worked 8 years of customer service and retail jobs, in fact, I still work in a customer service influenced corporation/industry, I worked Green Friday (which is what it was called when I started). Green Friday, has such a better ring to it, less foreboding and less agonizingly painful.

Green for money.

It made sense.

But then people started to call it Black Friday. I understood that too. Mainly because working in retail you don’t see much of the green, but you see a lot of the darkest parts of working in retail.

I worked at any and all retail stores you can think of. You name it, I worked there. And I probably worked there the day after Thanksgiving, the eponymous Black Friday.

One day in particular I worked from 345 in the morning til 1 in the morning. Roughly a 20 hour day, if you take out the lunches and breaks I took. Wasn’t a particularly bad day, just one of the worst of my life.

I never saw someone shot. Or trampled to death. But I did witness cart fights. Cat fights. People screaming at each other about cutting in line and people screaming at each other about jumping in front of them while shopping. People getting into damn near fist fights over dolls and electronics and people line-jumping and gaining the ire of every person near them in the store.

I had fun with it for the most part.

I saw people rob the stores and I chased people out. I got reprimanded for chasing people out and following them to the parking lot. I did everything in my power to make those days memorable for myself, but they were made memorable for me by the people shopping there, by the people waiting at the door when I approached the store as early as humanly possible, and the people I worked with.

There was never any holiday cheer for me this time of year. My wife hates that. She wants me to be as cheerful and easygoing about Christmas as I can, but you know, it’s been tough.

Though this year, I count my blessings.

I didn’t get trampled to death at Wal-Mart.

And before you think I’m making light of his death, I’m not. I’m disgusted that people killed someone over toys, over electronics, over deals on things they don’t even really need.

Not to mention these people had to be told to leave by police after the incident occurred because they felt it was their right to keep shopping even after this poor man was killed.

First thing my wife said to me when we found out about this was thank you for not working retail this year.

But I never had it that bad. Sure I had crazy crowds and crazy people and sure I had to deal with screaming babies and idiots all day, but I never was trampled. I never dealt with that kind of crazy.

I never got shot at in a Toys R Us.

It’s so strange to me.

I looked at the ads, and I couldn’t find anything that was that worthy of going apeshit crazy over. I could be wrong. I don’t feel the need to wake up earlier than the sun to go stand in line for a computer or some form of electronic that I might use once in my life and never look at again.

But people get like that.

And not only that, but the government finally declared that this has been a recession, since December 2007, and we’re looking at things to get worse. It’s all going downhill from here.

What I’m having trouble understanding is why Black Friday is still just one or two days of sales? Why haven’t these big lot stores figured out that it is insanity to have all of the best shopping deals of the year on one day, sometimes for only a four hour period, when people are getting killed, getting into car accidents, fist fights, getting involved in felonious acts and going to jail over what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year?

Maybe the deals should go on for over a week or two so that people can get the deals, so that stores can get the foot traffic, and so that people aren’t murdering each other in the streets over the last Wii Fit or the last digital camera for 20 bucks.

Maybe it would make sense to open up supply and demand to a little bit of thinking and incorporate some kind of idea that belongs to common decency and a society that believes in treating everyone like human beings?

It just boggles my mind.

I had a discussion with my dad about this recently. We both think it’s going to get worse. When people see deals now, they will fight you over it because the way the economy is tanking. I don’t completely fault the people fighting over these things and these deals. I don’t fault them because I don’t have kids. I don’t know what it feels like to have to constantly be asked for a new toy or the hottest thing on the shelves, or have my kids ask me for it the day before Christmas.

I don’t know how that works.

I do know first-hand what it feels like to feel like the world is getting ready to swallow you whole. Or what it feels like to lose a job and still have people rely on you.

It’s tough.

That’s why I’m not judging the people involved. Yes, it’s insane that people trampled someone to death or that two people shot and killed each other at Toys R Us. But the economy and the way the world is is doing strange things to people. People may have just lost their jobs and need to do everything in their power to make Christmas still be special for their kids.

Others may be on the verge of losing their homes and want so bad to be able to give their kids something to look forward to in the event that they kicked onto the streets. Others may be so scared that their rights are being taken away by ridiculous laws and amendments that they have to spend this last Christmas together and make it special before they’re torn away from each other.

I don’t know.

All I know is that supply and demand is what is causing this. People want something so bad but the supply is short. So Best Buy or Target or whoever puts it on sale for the low low price and promises it will be in store, so people freak out. They have to get that Wii. They have to get the best deal possible so that they can buy that toy for their kids and make this the best Christmas ever.

And the stores only promise to have it on sale for 4 hours, one day only.

It breeds chaos. Disruption. Violence. And people start to break. It’s common that if you put enough people together that mob mentality takes hold of them and knocks them down to a lower level of humanity. They may not have thought straight. One person pushes on the door, thinking they’re going to get in first, and then another, and another, until everyone is pushing on the door and a poor man who was only a temporary worker was crushed to death.

Maybe we should blame everyone for this. Was it really necessary that one man should die so that your children or family can have a great Christmas? What about his?

It all boils down to choice. You have a choice how you act. What you do. How you see things in these situations. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Is another person's life not worth more than a deal for Christmas? Shouldn't we be thinking before we tear down a door and kill someone?

Shouldn't we be humans and help other people this time of year, and spread joy to them as opposed to taking away a member of their family?

I know that this is called Christmas Cheer, but I really hate this time of year. With my 25th birthday right around the corner, it makes me think of all the lost promises and failed days and forgotten, wasted time. So bah humbug. Maybe next time I’ll have something better to say but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from yet another ridiculous Black Friday.


Part 84

I'm not a big fan of Christmas.

I'm not a big fan of Christmas movies.

There are just so many schmaltzy things I can take in a year and when Christmas movies try to shove all of that schmaltz into one 2 hour production, it bothers me. It pisses me off.

Plus, having a birthday around Christmas really screws you over. Going on 25 years now and nothing has changed in that aspect. Another birthday is on the way and another massive letdown is right around the corner. Which isn't fair to the people that are going to try and make my birthday better. But, and this is a big but, that's not what this blog is about.

This one is about Christmas movies.

Some are actual movies that revolve around Christmas.

Some are movies that have Christmas-y things in them.

And a few are just movies that I plan to watch or have watched on Christmas.

Cinematical wrote their blog today about Christmas movies for people who hate Christmas movies. This will be a bit similar, but definitely not exact. I promise.

Ernest Saves Christmas

What a great movie. What a stupid movie. What a good way to spend your Christmas holiday, watching Ernest save the holiday when Santa gets arrested. The whole movie has Ernest as a taxi driver in Florida who picks up Santa at the airport. The rest of this film deals with a girl who's a runaway and Ernest losing his job because Santa has no cash.

So Santa is a deadbeat and Ernest has the spirit of Christmas.

Santa gets arrested, Ernest learns he still has Santa's sack of toys, and Ernest, like the name of the film, has to save Christmas. And it involves a Santa Clause-ian ending with a new Santa getting the job.

Dumb movie. Completely stupid. But as a kid, I loved this piece of crap. It actually is one of those Christmas movies that I enjoyed as I genuinely used to love the Ernest movies growing up. They were just fluff films that made you laugh and you didn't have to sit and think about. Plus, Ernest was funny.

I'll admit, I was sad when Jim Varney died. This movie is one of the few actual Christmas-y movies I still enjoy.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

This one holds a certain special place in my heart as there is a character named Momar, Kimar, Girmar, and Bomar. That's right, Momar is in this film.

But in all honesty, this movie is a turkey. A big fat turkey of a film that you can watch once and never have to watch again. It's outlandish, easily lampooned, and completely ridiculous. It involves a plot from would-be world conquering Martians who decide to kidnap Santa, force him to make toys for Martian kids, and there's one that tries to kill Santa.

So it's like an assassination attempt against Santa.

Santa never really conquers them though. He does set someone up to be the Santa of Mars, and escapes, and that's about it.

It's horrendous, but watch it if you've never seen it. Trust me. It's been on MST3K which means that it could be worth the time to just sit, watch, and laugh at this piece of crap.

Jingle All The Way

This one is a bit different. You aren't going to find movies about going home for the holidays (for the most part) on this list. Or finding love on the holidays. No Home Alones. No Home for the Holidays. None of that crap. And none of the Frank Capra films that just drip in bullshit and make me want to vomit.

Those are the movies that make me hate this holiday.

For some reason though, a Christmas film that is sappy, that is dripping with holiday cheer, is one that I will actually watch year after year and would actually think to take part of in a Jingle All the Day as Robert Smigel's version of Arnold so perfectly called the day before Christmas.

I mean, if Christmas Story gets 24 hours and is only an okay film, then this movie deserves it's own day.


Phil Hartman.


The movie is just one of the better movies that you watch as a kid and enjoy as a kid and I still for some stupid reason love this film. As much as I still love most of the comedies the action titans like Arnold and Stallone did, I still enjoy watching this movie.

It's dumb.

It's about a toy.

It's everything Christmas movies are and even features a dad who doesn't have holiday cheer (like thousands of other Christmas movies) and then, before the stroke of midnight, gets the cheer and becomes the best dad ever.

It's not really like it's possible for this film to be any cheesier, but I still love Sinbad movies. I watched Houseguest this weekend.

I still love Turbo-Man.

I still love Jim Belushi, Verne Troyer, and Big Show as evil Santas trying to make knock-off toys. And that stupid cop who keeps getting blown up, shot, or hit by cars. It's actually a Christmas movie that I can stand to watch year after year. And it has a happy ending.

Big deal. I still love it and plan to watch it very soon.

Santa's Slay

Bill Goldberg.

Santa killing people.

Evil creatures.



Great movie? You bet your ass. Not to mention it was directed by a former assistant of Brett Ratner, so you know it's good. Oh, and Claire from Lost is in it too. What a crazy movie.


This one is one of my favorite holiday movies.

Better than any of the above mentioned movies by leaps and bounds. It's directed by Richard Donner, who will have another film on this list in just a bit, but in my opinion, this is the best version of Christmas Carol.

You've got Bill Murray, in the prime of his career, as Scrooge (essentially). You've got his three brothers in varying roles (one plays his dad, one plays his brother, and another plays a friend of his brother).

It's got cameos from people like Mary Lou Retton all the way to Robert Goulet.

It's crazy and it's awesome and it's perfect for anyone who hates Christmas, especially with the creepy special effects for all of the ghosts. But it works. All the major characters are updated for modern times in the 80s and it works.

This movie is one of the most consistently funny holiday movies ever made. Just watch the fake commercial they produce to get people to watch their Christmas Carol and tell me that's not great.

Tell me. Go ahead.

Watch Bobcat Goldthwait in all his manic glory. Bill Murray at his best. And this film is just perfection.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Do I really need to say anything about this movie?

You've all seen it.

You all know how classic it is and how hilarious it is.

So I'll just leave it as the movie on my list that we all know and love and can recite lines from. Another film with Brian Doyle-Murray on the list. That's strange.

Lethal Weapon and Die Hard

These are two movies that every guy loves.

They are quintessential action films starring quintessential action heroes with kick ass bad guys (Gruber and Mr. Joshua).

And they are both set during Christmas time. Christmas in Hollis Queens plays in at least one of them but my memory is telling me both.

Another film directed by Richard Donner (LW).

What do I need to say about these? Now I've got a machine gun. Ho ho ho.

One movie has terrorists getting punched or thrown through or out of windows and welcoming the dad from Family Matters to the party, and the other also features a form of terrorist but has drug-dealing Christmas tree salesmen.


Movies for the guy who hates Christmas and wants to punch a family member in the face during the holiday season or has ever used packing tape to hide something behind his back.

Two perfect films that I will watch in the next few days.

I've seen movies on Christmas day.

First time I ever saw Death to Smoochy was on Christmas at my grandparents house one day (that was an event and a half and probably made me like that movie more than I should have). I saw Alien VS. Predator Requiem on Christmas day (again, what a day). And this year, I have two movies that I'd really like to see on Christmas day.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Wrestler. Now I know that Benjamin Button will be playing where I can see it. The Wrestler, maybe not so much.

But both movies are by my two favorite directors, Fincher and Aronofsky, and I will do anything in my immediate power to see both films on the big screen.

Both look amazing and both look to be something that will probably kick me in the stomach.

I could be wrong. But judging just from trailers, from what I've heard, and from previous films that they've both directed, these look to be treats and I cannot wait to see them.

My wife and I are starting a new tradition this year and will be seeing Benjamin Button. If the Wrestler is in town around the same time, it's a guarantee that I will see that.

And that is all I have about movies at this time. Next time, join me for some holiday gift ideas that might work for anyone in your family. We'll see what we can scrounge up and what it costs to make Christmas a fine holiday.

See ya in the funnybooks.


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