Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Simon Says...

Did you know that the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” is a coded message used to teach Catholic children about the bible during the Anglican Reformation in England? According to one website:

“Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829[…] The 12 Days of Christmas is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.”

It then lists the different days and what they mean:

1 Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the 'Pentateuch' which contain the law condemning us of our sins.6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation7 Swans A-swimming = the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit10 Lords A-leaping = the Ten Commandments11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Isn’t that interesting?

No, it’s not.

Because it’s completely fucking wrong. And nothing about it makes any sense. I could go into great detail outlining why this whole idea is so completely batshit crazy, but most of what I say would be cribbed from the excellent Snopes article on this very subject. And here it is -

Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait…..Done? Welcome back. Did you like that? Wasn’t the final sentence just the best thing you’ve ever read? If you didn’t read it, basically it says that the song was likely a memory game people played in the days when the ball and cup game was the pinnacle of entertainment. One person named a gift (“A partridge in a pear tree”), and the next person added to it before repeating the previous gifts (“Two turtle doves/and a partridge in a pear tree”), and on around the circle adding more and more until people couldn’t keep it going anymore. Just like Simon. Aren’t I clever?
Anyway, by now I’ve taken up about 10 minutes of your time, and I’m sure you’re wondering why. Well, I’ve been hearing this particular myth for some years now, and I’m truthful enough to say that the first time I heard it, I sort of believed it. I mean, that song must be about something, and it’s in our nature as humans to seek out the origins of things. Case closed. And I didn’t think about it again AT ALL for a couple years.
Then, one boring day, I happened upon the article listed above and my eyebrows raised, I put the information into the part of my mind where I keep useless factoids, and once again I didn’t think about it again. But I’ll be damned (no pun intended) if the following Christmas this story didn’t spring up like a bloody pox. I must have had to sit through five or six different people rattling off this claptrap, their voices the very definition of matter-of-fact as enthralled audiences nodded along with self satisfied shit eating grins on their faces*. And you may not be able to infer from my typical blog posts, but I’m actually not the type of person who likes correcting people to their faces, especially in public. There’s rarely any point to it. So I let it go, hoping that one day they would figure out the truth (and quietly hoping that a far bigger asshole than me who KNEW the truth would get the satisfaction of telling them.)
Basically though, for me it all comes down to two things – First, stop telling me how hard it is to be a Christian and trying to illustrate your point with ridiculous tales like this. Nobody cares, least of all me, and I will kick you in your crotch regardless of your gender. And second, if you’re going to devote your life to something (like a religious faith) at least have the decency to do the fucking research. Every year people piss and moan about how commercial Christmas is, and how we need to put Christ back into it. And if you believe that, good. Good for you. Don’t stop believing in something. Just make sure that something isn’t some shit somebody made up.

*Note: This sentence contains WAAAAYYYYYY too much description. But I just really want you to understand. Forgive me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hold me closer...

Ok, this is a post I've been meaning to do for a while so bear with me and strap in; it's gonna be a long one.

If you asked me what my favorite movie was (and people often do), my answer would be a slightly evasive "It depends on my mood. There are so many." And that's true - at any given time it might be Seven Samurai (if I'm in an action movie phase), The Godfather (if I'm feeling drama), Malcolm X (because he's the coolest person ever) or Schindler's List (I have my reasons). But whatever my answer, there is always an asterix attached. One of these ---> *. Without a doubt my always and forever favorite movie is Almost Famous (in addition to one of the above). Every time I watch it I find it means more to me than the last time. Now, I'm not going to defend it as the best movie ever made; Cameron Crowe is really just John Hughes for the late nineties, and his movies are in much the same vein. But no film speaks to me more than this one, and here's why:

Most everyone who knows me understands that I've always been in bands since I was about 12 years old. I started playing out in bars and clubs a couple months after my 19th birthday, and I continue to do so to this day. The exact number of bands I've been in is a subjective question. If you count the numbers of different people that I've jammed with over the years with the intention of starting a band only to have it fall through after one or two practices, than...probably between 50 and 80. If, however, you only count the projects that got off the ground then I would have to say I've been in around five bands (two of which played out semi-professionally). I've been a musician since I was 12 and through my teen years and into my twenties that was all I wanted to be. The story of why that's no longer exactly true is a longer one and definitely for another day. But, during those years I focused on nothing else. I went through junior high, high school and some of college having never played any sports (save for one half-hearted year of football during which I never played), dated ANYONE or been a member of any type of activity. I just wanted to play in bands and, I hoped, be semi-successful at it. I could write an entire book about all of the ins and outs of this, and how and why it made me who I am for better and worse. Instead I'll move on.
Bands, you see, are alot like a bad relationship. Everyone goes into it thinking that it's the best thing ever. You'll have a couple practices where everything seems to gel, and everyone will be getting along so well. You'll know in the back of your mind that every previous band you've been in started in just this same fashion, and they all invariably ended up a mangled corpse of bruised egos, stupid ideas and frivolous anger. "This time, though, it's different" you'll tell yourself. "This is the ONE." And, to all appearances, it is. You'll master a few songs, put together some of your own, book some shows, and maybe even get some recognition. Things have never been better. Then slowly things start to crumble. People who were perfectly happy in the limelight will start to demand that their ideas be heard. Women will start coming around. And bit by bit everything ends up in the same public toilet as your last venture.
I was always left holding the bag in these situations because, and stay with me here, I had the purest motives.
"Bullshit" you say, and you're right to do so, but let me say this. I won't deny that it's nice to look out onto a sea of people and know that they came to see you (at least partly), or that it's nice to have praise heaped upon you, and it's certainly nice to get the attention of women you wouldn't even dream of talking to otherwise (and I must interject here that sex is almost NEVER a factor here. Don't let movies fool you into thinking that small local acts get more ass than a toilet seat. That's for the big guys.) But I was never in it for those reasons. I was in it because I LOVED music and how it allowed me to express myself. And that's the secret. If you do something for any other reason than it makes you truly happy you'll never stick with it. You'll elope with the first pretty face that comes your way. And everyone always did.
But I digress, and I fear that I've lost you, or at least that I've gone completely off topic. Forgive me for that, this is a sensitive subject for me. So I'll leave you with this one final thought.

Watch it please and watch it all. If you somehow managed to get inside my head (no pun intended) this video would be playing in a constant loop. I guess I've said enough. I'll write more if it's seems warranted.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just for you

Since I haven't made any comments about it yet, I started my new job yesterday. It's a bit overwhelming to be working in a new place in a completely new field. Nevertheless, it's not the degree of culture shock I've had when starting other jobs in the past. Maybe because I'm finally old enough to realize that it's pointless to worry about most of the things people worry about when they go into a completely alien (and possibly hostile) environment. To give you an example of what that means, I refer to people liking you, wanting to be immediately good at the new job, worrying about how you look, ect... You get the point.

I'll post alot more about this soon I'm sure, but I worked 12 straight hours today with almost no rest. My face hurts, and I didn't even use it except to eat.