New address, who dis?

We got a late Christmas card from a “Phil and Pam” and we were scratching our heads trying to figure out who the hell they were. I didn’t recognize the last name or the address it came from. I thought for sure it must be someone who has friended me on Facebook as my address is visible to friends, but I couldn’t find them on my friends list. Additionally, they spelled my first name wrong.

The card in question. A nice little Christmas tree.

Thought maybe it might be my mother’s best friend, who is also named Pam, but the last name was wrong as was the address. Maybe she remarried and moved? Maybe “Phil” was the name of her kid? I couldn’t remember if any of those things were true, but a couple of questions to my mother confirmed that wasn’t the case so it wasn’t her.

After a couple of days, Anne finally figured out it’s from our former next-door neighbors who just sold their house to the Trump supporters. In the three years we’d been here before they moved, I never spoke a word to Phil (because he was upstate most of the time taking care of his mother) and Pam and I spoke maybe a couple dozen times. It’s not because they were unfriendly, just that we only spoke in passing most of the time and our schedules were such that we just didn’t pass each other that often. I could go a few months before touching base with her. She was often gone on the weekends to be with her husband upstate.

They sold the house because Phil’s mom was getting worse and Pam was retiring so it made sense to move in up there. The Tumpers have been friendly enough so far and actually invited me in while they were finishing up the remodeling Pam and Phil had been in the middle of when they sold the house, which makes for the first house in this neighborhood I’ve been in that wasn’t my own. The new neighbors even loaned me their extension ladder so I’d have an easier time getting my lights up this season.

I’ve not spoken to the new neighbors since before the election so I’m not sure how they’re taking the results or what they think of the attempted coup that took place two days ago. I don’t know if they’ll bring it up the next time we interact or not. Until they do, I won’t worry about it.

That’s not the point anyway. The point is this was a pleasant and unexpected surprise from a neighbor we didn’t interact with a whole lot while they were around. We will have to make a point of sending one back next year.

Oh, we did send out cards this year. We’re normally not very good at that, but with Momma living with us now we had constant reminders that she wanted to send out cards so we figured we’d try to get into the habit as well. Or I should say that Anne did as she did all the work. I’m still terrible at it. Hopefully you’re next upset if you were expecting a card from us as, like I said, we’ve traditionally been terrible at it. This year it would most likely be because we didn’t have your address. That’s my assumption anyway. As I said, I didn’t do any of the work on it.

Merry Christmas 2020!

I’m a day late with this, but from all of us here at SEB, here’s wishing you and yours a safe and very Merry Christmas! It’s been a rough year, but it’s almost over and that can’t come quick enough for me.

I had a pretty good haul this year. Got a new coffee mug that says “I drink this so you all may live another day” which will be heading into the office with me in the New Year. Two new Hawaiian shirts, “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” and “Dishonored 2” video games (yes, I know they’ve been out forever), a cast iron kitty door stopper, a USB Bluetooth adapter for my desktop, some new RGB case fans for my computer, and way more candy than I should be thinking of eating. I’m told a couple more things are still in transit.

Lastly, the family is safe and healthy which is the best gift of all. Hopefully the same is true for you and yours.

Christmas shopping back in the day.

While perusing Facebook this morning I came across this Frazz comic strip shared by the Decrepit Old Fool himself. Here’s a quick description in case you don’t want to click on the link. In the past I would’ve included the comic with a link back, but the site specifically mentions a license for blog posts and it’s $35.

Two kids are talking about Christmas shopping in the past. The girls says that her Dad said it used to be all traffic jams by the mall while her grandpa said it was traffic jams by the downtown department store. While they, the kids, would be the ones to grow up to not be able to get out of their own driveways (due to all the delivery trucks). It really is better to go see it for yourself.

This, of course, started me reminiscing about Christmas shopping back in the day. I can vividly remember going to The Pontiac Mall and trying to remember what my parents and siblings had said they wanted and often failing. The crush of the crowd was both frustrating and amazing. It was one of the few times of the year that you really got a sense of just how many people lived in your area.

The Pontiac Mall in its early years before I shopped there.
An example cover.

Of course, we did have mail order back then, but it was mostly limited to a few catalogs that took aim squarely at the Old White People demographic (e.g., Harriet Carter) or foodies (Swiss Colony). Both of those are still around and on the Internet these days, which is a helluva testament to their knowing their target markets.

Though no one I knew did the majority of their Christmas shopping through them. I certainly didn’t, but I did look forward to the arrival of the catalogs as one sign of the start of the holiday season. Also. I did drool over more than a few items in the Swiss Colony catalog. I’m a sucker for cheese and sausage gift packs.

I get excited just remembering browsing through the toys in this venerable book.

We didn’t have an Amazon Wish List. Back then it was the Sears Wish Book. Going through the toy section, circling desired items with different colored pens, discovering the women’s underwear section as I hit puberty, such wonderful memories. Sears is still hanging on by a thread, but back in the day they were one of the big department stores along with Hudson’s which has since gone extinct.

A lot of my clothing growing up came from Sears as did the very first video game console I had: The Sears Video Arcade! Which was just a rebranded Atari 2600. This gives you an idea of the kind of clout that Sears had back then. Atari wasn’t a household name yet, but Sears was. So, Atari agreed to let Sears slap their own name on it because Atari knew Sears was highly trusted brand and it would get their consoles into homes.

When I was growing up The Pontiac Mall had a Hudson’s and a Montgomery Ward as anchor stores. They built a Sears at the north end of the mall in 1973, but it wasn’t attached to the rest of the mall which was annoying during the winter. It was eventually connected during the huge expansion in 1988 that nearly doubled the size of the mall and added stores like J.C. Penny’s and led to changing the name to “Summit Place” which I hated and refused to use. Hell, for most of my childhood I was ignorant of the fact that “malls” were common so it was always just “The Mall” to me growing up. Things have changed a lot since those days. “Summit Place” closed its doors for good in 2009 with only J.C. Penney and Macy’s remaining until early 2010. Sears held out until 2014. It was finally demolished last year. Driving past it during demolition and seeing it reduced to rubble was more emotional for me than I expected.

MY CHILDHOOD, RUINED! Source: Jonathan Hair on YouTube

Not that I’m complaining about things now. The vast majority of my gift giving over the past decade plus has been done online. Yes, I’m Amazon’s bitch. I can’t begin to imagine doing it the old way in the middle of a pandemic. Those crowds would’ve been an unparalleled super spreader event.

I keep my Amazon Wish List updated throughout the year and yet I’m amazed at how many folks still ask me what I want. Here’s a complete list with things both cheap and expensive as fuck. Pick something. I guarantee you ANYTHING on that list will make me happy. That’s why it’s there. For that matter, I’m amazed at how many people don’t have an Amazon Wish List or don’t bother to keep it up to date. It’s one of the things I love about living in the future.

Anyway, I’ve not posted anything since Thanksgiving and I wanted to get something up and the Frazz comic kicked off a wave of nostalgia. I was originally just going to reshare the comic on Facebook as George did, but when I got up to two paragraphs of writing about it I figured it should be a blog post instead. Now I’ve spent the better part of an hour and a half working on this instead of the 2 minutes resharing would’ve taken. That’s OK because I am on vacation and can’t go anywhere thanks to the COVIDs.

What about you guys? Got any memories of Christmas shopping before the age of the Internet and the rise of Amazon? Do you still go to your local mall? Here in Westland where I live now, we still have a local mall — The Westland Shopping Center — that I have been to in the past, but haven’t been in the three years since I officially moved here. I keep meaning to go because I’ve not wasted an afternoon walking around a mall aimlessly in many years, but haven’t yet and probably won’t until this pandemic is under better control. DAMN YOU COVID-19!

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

From all of us here at Stupid Evil Bastard to all of you who still drop by occasionally to see if I’ve posted anything new, here’s hoping you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. The year is almost over and, boy howdy, what a year it’s been.

Looking back, it can be hard to find a lot to be thankful about. Still, I try to be optimistic on this day and, if I’m honest, there are at least a few things. I’m still employed and we still have a roof over our heads. We’re not going hungry and we’ve managed to stay relatively healthy. Or at least, no worse than we already were before the pandemic started. Not least of all, the election swung in our favor and Donald Trump will be out of the White House shortly after the new year starts. All things considered; we’ve been lucky in this household when a lot of others have not. It is my hope that things turn around for them and soon.

That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say in this one. Be safe and try to enjoy the day.

The original lyrics for “Deck the Halls.”

I realize we’re still a couple of months away from the season, but while browsing through memes recently I came across this one:

I recalled having heard something about this previously, but never got around to looking into it. As it turns out, that’s not the only drinking reference removed from the song. Here are the English lyrics as they appeared in in volume 2 of Welsh Melodies in 1862:

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Fill the meadcup, drain the barrel,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Troul the ancient Christmas carol,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

See the flowing bowl before us,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Follow me in merry measure,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
While I sing of beauty’s treasure,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Laughing, quaffing all together,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

The version most folks know today is from the December 1877 issue of the Pennsylvania School Journal.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Don we now our gay apparel,
Troll the ancient Christmas carol,

See the blazing yule before us,
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Follow me in merry measure,
While I tell of Christmas treasure,

Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
Sing we joyous all together,
Heedless of the wind and weather,

Interestingly, the English translation above isn’t a literal one from the original Welsh. Additionally, the tune has been around a lot longer, predating Nos Galan, a traditional Welsh New Year’s Eve carol published in 1794 from which Deck the Halls borrows its melody. According to Wikipedia, the original lyrics in Welsh and English for Nos Galan are as follows:

O mor gynnes mynwes meinwen,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la.
O mor fwyn yw llwyn meillionen,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la.
O mor felus yw’r cusanau,
[instrumental flourish]
Gyda serch a mwynion eiriau
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la.
Oh! how soft my fair one’s bosom,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la.
Oh! how sweet the grove in blossom,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la.
Oh! how blessed are the blisses,
[instrumental flourish]
Words of love, and mutual kisses,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la.
Source: Wikipedia

I don’t have point to this other than I find it interesting how far back this song goes and how it’s changed over the years. I tend to double check memes that make factual claims like the one above and this one dropped me into a rabbit hole that seemed like it would make a good blog post.

Welcome to 2020.

We made it. Not sure how, but we made it. It’s the 2020’s and we can look forward to finally getting those jetpacks and flying cars we were promised, right? Nutritious meals in pill form for the hungry person on the move. Fully automated kitchens. I’ve been really looking forward to that last one.

Not the mention all the self-improvement we’re going to accomplish this year. You know the saying, right? “New year, new me?” I mean, just take a look at the New Me:

Oh boy, we’re in trouble still aren’t we? That’s OK. We’ll be in trouble together. I’m not sure how this year can be anymore of a shitshow than last year was, but with Trump still in the White House I’m sure it’s still a good possibility.

But let’s not end on a note of cynicism even if it is on brand for me and this blog. Let’s try to be positive. The mess up above can be vastly improved with a shower and some coffee. The mess that is this country headed into the 20’s can also be improved with some effort. Let’s try and find the motivation for both and see where we end up next year.

Merry Christmas 2019 from SEB.

This won’t be a super long entry as this is the second year in a row that our budget has been tight enough that the wife and I weren’t able to get gifts for each other or much of anyone else. I’ve struggled with the holiday this year with depression setting in and the stress of my mother in rehab from breaking her hip. That said, I did get a couple of nice gifts from both my mother and mother-in-law that I am sure I will enjoy well into the new year.

Hopefully things are a bit more festive and joyous for you and yours. That is our wish to you this year. May the coming year be even better. For all of us.

Bah! Humbug!

Why you should never tell your co-workers that you hate Christmas decorations.
Yes, this is from my place of work. Click to see it in its full sized glory.

Happy Halloween 2019!

Boo!

I’ve not posted in a bit so I thought I’d toss up a short post wishing you and yours a safe and happy Halloween. We’ve some new residents here at the Jenkins household as my 84-year-old mother and her dog and bird have moved in with us. Needless to say, this has been an appropriately scary time for my two cats who are having trouble adjusting to a rambunctious canine in the house.

This also means that our handouts for this year have changed as in the past we’ve bought our fair share of candy to give out, but my mother has made it a habit to buy a couple cases of potato chips in snack packs (the kind you find in vending machines) to give away so that’s what we’re doing this year. That’s assuming we have any kids show up as it’s raining like crazy outside which is kind of a Halloween tradition in Michigan.

Needless to say, with mom moving in things have been a little hectic as of late so what little Halloween decorating I do has been even less so this year. Still, I did get my blinky pumpkin and scarecrow blow mold in the window with the crocheted ghost my mother gave me years ago and my ghost light is on the lawn. Here’s a quick video of them in action:

So, yeah, life has been busy and big changes are in the process of settling down into normalcy, but we’re making it work. So Happy Halloween to you!

It’s July 4th, 2019 and it’s feeling a little fascist out there.

I’ve not blogged anything in awhile in part because my creative juices have dried up and in part because every day there’s so many new outrages to come out of the Trump administration that it’s hard to keep up without being overwhelmed. Children in concentration camps, his unqualified kids sticking their noises in at the G20 summit, and now his big Russian styled military parade for the 4th of July.

This is why the title doesn’t wish you a Happy 4th. There’s nothing to be happy about this year. It’s all starting to feel way too much like the dictatorships Trump loves to buddy up to. More worrying to me, however, is how Trump has shown the willingness of Republicans to tolerate a wanna-be Stalin so long as he’s a Republican giving them want they want. Trump has already done so many things that they would’ve tried to impeach Obama for if he had done them that it really does put to bed any credibility they might have had. There was one Republican who stood up and called for impeachment, but he’s announced that he’s leaving the party so they don’t even have him to point to anymore.

So, have a safe July 4th. That’s the best I can do this year.