Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas at the Nerdery

We have a saying at my parents' house: "Shut the frak up, Whitey, I'll update the blog when I get the chance!" Or something to that effect. And, even though it's the twenty-fifth of December, that saying still got a holiday iteration tonight. So here's a little added Christmas present for my readers: a post.

You should enjoy it, I made it myself.

There are a few Christmas movies that I have to watch every year: It's a Wonderful Life, sure. At least one version of the Christmas Carol, definitely. The muppet version is quite good, and who doesn't love Michael Cain? A Christmas Story, absolutely. As of today I have three shirts that referencing some of this movie's best scenes. Die Hard, one or two. Yippy-kay-ay-yay, my friend.

And then there's a National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Now, I'm no National Lampoon fan. Chevy Chase is usually fun, though, and this installment of the Griswolds' tetralogy is by far the best. One of the things that this movie captures about the holidays (in my experience, at least) better than any of the others listed above is the way the much vaunted season can be magical and mundane, infuriating and intimate, maddening and soothing, all in turn. Sometimes, it can be all those things at once. When I was a kid, some of favorite moments from the film were those with the sled, or the crazy old aunt and uncle, or the squirrel-chase through the home. Now, while those scenes still give me miles of entertainment, a new scene resonates with me more than any other. As a father, husband, and former bank employee who got the holiday hose while breaking his back, I love it when Chevy Chase' character, Clark, hits rock-bottom when he realizes that his boss pulled the financial rug out from under his Christmas plans:

"Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?"

I love that sentiment, and there's a certain clever progression to the Litany of Insults (tm). First, we have the obvious two: cheap and lying. Then Clark moves on to rail against Mr. Shirley's worthlessness with no-good, rotten, and four-flushing. Four-flushing, by the way, comes from poker slang and means someone who operates as though they have a flush even though they only have four out of the five cards needed. Then we have three hyphenated terms for a vile person: low-life, snake-licking, and dirt-eating. Follow that up with two past-tense verbs that serve as adjectives of habitual problems associated with evil southern men--inbred and overstuffed--and you have the first break in Clark's three-iteration pattern. It's too bad, but considering Clark's stress at this point, you can forgive him. Ignorance stands alone thematically in the list, appropriately enough, and blood-sucking and dog-kissing are good hyphenates for inhuman behavior. That's followed by four terms of lacking--brainless, dickless, hopeless, and heartless--that attack his intelligence, forthrightness, potential, and sympathetic value. Then, as any good slander should evolve, Clark's rant closes with a string of aspersions on Mr. Shirley's appearance (fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed) and a general vessel with which to store all these epithets (sack of monkey shit). At the end, Clark is impressed with the effective power (it's really a well-constructed deconstruction of another human being) and the weight (it's also extremely embarrassing, well-done or not) of his words--hence the hallelujah and holy shit, respectively. And after something like that, anyone would need some headache relief.

Masterfully done, Mr. Griswold. And I'm sure anyone over a certain age knows the feeling. Even if you don't watch Christmas Vacation every year for the holiday spirit it exudes, I highly recommend this scene for anyone coping with bad bosses in the corporate world.

A few years ago--exactly when is neither important nor hard to figure out--I tossed together some alternate words to Jingle Bells. It's an ode to the exhilarating-yet-truly-unsatisfying commercial hunt, the frustration of gifting that irascible and sphinx-like loved one who has everything, and the thoroughly sensational brain-washing of pop entertainment. I can't think of many things nerdier and Christmas-oriented.

Unless, of course, you sing along. Out loud. That would be better, and much nerdier.
Dashing through the store on an all-night coffee binge,
down the aisles we roar, living on the fringe!
Cash registers ring, making people fight,
what war it is to shop and scream a last minute song tonight!

Elmo toys, Elmo toys,
they're all out of stock.
Maybe my kid will be a brat and I'll get him a rock.

Standing in the row, while I'm thinking of my Dad,
I should start to go, I'm making people mad!
But they don't know my pop--how tough that it has got--
they don't know on Christmas day he'd bought it and forgot!

War movies, war movies,
who stars in that one?
If it's obscure enough he won't have bought it Amazon.

Fighting with your son over what's appropriate,
you don't let him have fun, he just doesn't get it!
"'R' stands for Relative, 'PG' is Pretty Gay,
if you really loved me you'd give me Die Hard Christmas day!"

Star Wars Three, Star Wars Three,
you're not thirteen yet.
Why the heck did George Lucas make Star Wars so violent? 

Merry Christmas, nerds.

No comments:

Post a Comment