Tag Archives: history

Curious George Says Goodbye

Did you watch President Bush’s speech last night? I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to, desperately, but I reminded myself that history was being made. I was watching the end of the worst presidency in the history of our country. If for no other reason than to tell my children and grand children that I was there and was witness…I watched.

As I watched, something amazing happened. My outrage which has been worn down with many abuses lo, these past eight years, re-ignited. The man actually thinks he did a good job! Against all evidence to the contrary and mounting proof of misapplied policy and economic and societal disaster… the man still thinks he was right. My jaw hung open. The darling man shook his head and said he couldn’t believe we were actually sitting still for 15 minutes of such unmitigated tripe.

“Tonight I am filled with gratitude — to Vice President Cheney and members of my administration;…”

(“For buying the election for me and covering up all my mistakes…” “You’re incredibly sexy when you’re cynical, y’know?”)

“to Laura, who brought joy to this house and love to my life;..”

(“And never says a word in public that we don’t write for her…”)

“to our wonderful daughters, Barbara and Jenna;…”

(“For carrying on the proud family tradition of boozing their way through college and never actually using their brains…”)

“to my parents, whose examples have provided strength for a lifetime.”

(“Like how to be an uninvolved father and a petty, superstitious obnoxious self involved jerk, just like mom.” “Hey. Barbara’s not superstitious.” “OK, my mistake.”)

“You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made, but I hope you can agree that I was willing to make tough decisions.”

“WHAT?!” I screamed at the television. “What in hell are you TALKING about?! Of COURSE you were willing to make them; that’s the job! That doesn’t change the fact that they were WRONG decisions!” At this point I had to hold the remote over my head and wave it about to keep the darling man from changing the channel. “He’s on all the other channels too,” I said, pushing him away with the other hand. He finally backed off and let me get back to gaping at the monkey in a $5,000 suit pretending to be sincere.

“This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house — September the 11th, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor.”

(“See!” the SO smirked, “Less than three minutes in and we’re already invoking 9/11. I should’ve run that farewell address bingo game, I woulda cleaned up!” “shut UP, I can’t hear…”)

“The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace…..”

(“Which are we again?” “The freedom lovers, of course.” “But, they believe God’s on their side, too, I mean, jus…” “SHUTUP! This is history, dammit!”)

“This is the belief that gave birth to our nation. And in the long run, advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens. When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror.”

(“I thought Hamas was elected democratically.” “Well, obviously, those people were tricked into doing that. What they should’ve done is had the ballot say ‘people the US and Israel approve of, and this other candidate here who’ll get your ass blown up.’ “)

“President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” As I leave the house he occupied two centuries ago, I share that optimism. America is a young country, full of vitality, constantly growing and renewing itself. And even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead.”

(“Honey? Yer gonna smack your head on the ceiling fan. Stop standing on the bed. And stop screaming, he can’t hear you.” “I DON’T CARE! How DARE he quote Thomas Jefferson?” “Well, if it’s any consolation, he did it completely out of context.”)

“OMG! Honey! Check out BOB DOLE! Even HE doesn’t buy the shit Bush is shovelling!”

Bob Dole is aghast

Bob Dole is aghast

“Yeah, he looks like he’s about to burst out laughing…but he can always blame it on dementia.” “God, you’re such a bitch sometimes…” “Thanks. Now hush, I wanna hear the rest…”

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President. There have been good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country, and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to represent this nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other – citizen of the United States of America. And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: Good night. May God bless this house and our next President. And may God bless you and our wonderful country. Thank you.”

“Wow. He even got through it without stuttering.” “Yes, well, there had to be at least ONCE in his presidency that he managed to get all the way through a speech.” “NOW can we have sex?”

In reading* the address that moved me to spew half of my cherry Pepsi across the bedspread last night, I’m still amazed. He did everything but physically pat himself on the back. Not that I actually expected him to say anything, y’know, RELEVANT to anyone but himself…but it would have been good if he’d actually acknowledged the things this nation is facing as a direct result of his “leadership.”

At this point, I suppose all we can do is be grateful that it’s over and start rebuilding. Like New Orleans after Katrina, it will take our nation many, many years to rebound from Hurricane Curious George.

*You can find the transcript here.

A Short History of Holiday Traditions, Part 2

Okay. So we got as far as Easter yesterday. I know I skipped over quite a few things that are tied into Easter, like Lent and Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.  Rest assured, I didn’t forget about them. To put it rather bluntly: they’re just not that important. They, much like the Easter Bunny, are sort of societal vermiform appendixes. They once had meaning, but it’s changed and now we keep them around more or less out of habit.

Moving on.

Samhain aka Hallowe’en aka All Hallows Eve. Yes, I know. It’s roundly rejected by horrified Christians as a night of demonic influence, but it’s still a religious holiday. What would a religion be without a demon to point to and use to scare the masses?

Samhain (pronounced Sowen, not Sam Hane) and Halloween are now woven together as one holiday, the traditions of both making the whole. In Ireland, where Samhain originated, it was the festival celebrating the end of the harvest, and originally translated to “end of Summer [season].”  According to Wiki:

Traditionally, Samhain was time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, and decide which animals would need to be slaughtered in order for the people and livestock to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock.[3][4][13]

Bonfires played a large part in the festivities celebrated down through the last several centuries, and up through the present day in some rural areas of the Celtic nations and the diaspora. Villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames. In the pre-Christian Gaelic world, cattle were the primary unit of currency and the center of agricultural and pastoral life. Samhain was the traditional time for slaughter, for preparing stores of meat and grain to last through the coming winter. The word ‘bonfire’, or ‘bonefire’ is a direct translation of the Gaelic tine cnámh. With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together. Often two bonfires would be built side by side, and the people would walk between the fires as a ritual of purification. Sometimes the cattle and other livestock would be driven between the fires, as well.

I’m having difficulty figuring out exactly how a harvest festival came to be viewed as “evil” and “the work of the devil” from the Irish custom. Let us move on to the “Dia de los Muertos,” Day of the Dead, as it’s celebrated in Mexico. This, I can at least understand if not agree with.

The Day of the Dead is a rather sweet holiday that got misunderstood by knee-jerk reactionaries. It’s all about honoring ancestors. That’s done in every culture at some point and is still valid in many countries. The church saw this and reacted in a predictably horrified and histrionic manner. It was wicked. It was worshiping ghosts. EVIL!! AAAAAARGH! What, oh WHAT to do? I know! All Saints Day! It had worked with those obstreperous Irish. Well. It worked and it didn’t. Dia de los Muertos is still celebrated, it just has a more Catholic flavor.

Thanksgiving. I need to clear this up. There are two schools of thought on Thanksgiving. One is that because it is about giving thanks to god for making it through the really nasty New England winter it is therefore religious. On the other hand, it’s not celebrated anywhere else by any other Christians, and is viewed by the other school as a purely patriotic holiday like 4th of July. Yes, I’m probably biased in my atheism. But since it is celebrated by EVERYONE in my country regardless of religion or creed, I view it as a secular holiday that is more along the lines of St. George’s Day (Britain) than anything else. Except without the dragon.

And we are brought full circle to Christmas. Which, when you get right down to it, is the latest in a long line of holidays celebrating the end of the dark and the return of the light. So. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukhah, Joyous Yule, Happy Solstice…whichever may be appropriate. Enjoy the season, whatever your personal reason. The sun really will come up tomorrow.