I really like it when readers email me their stories to post here on The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog, I like reading them all. I especially like the stories that I can relate well to, such as the following story, because I was an 80’s kid. Being born in 1968 I can remember most of the 70’s, how things really started improving in the 80’s, and as a young adult when the 90’s started. But, I remember being the kid who “caught” my parents pretending to be Santa Claus red handed. I had always wondered how an old fat bastard got around down here in southeast Texas, the humidity had to make him sweat something fierce. Plus, having a fireplace was more like a decoration, it wasn’t meant to be functional, it was meant to be the eyesore in the corner where all the junk collected. As a kid I grew up and lived in the same house for 16 years, never once was the fire place used. My mother installed lights in it to accent the seasonal array of plants she would put in it to fill the void. Our winters are mild here to say the very least. But, this isn’t my story to tell, I turn y’all over to read the story of another disappointed 80’s kid.
Fortunately, I’m guessing, I don’t have a horrific Christmas tale of woe to share really, Scorpion Sting. Let’s just call it the “God-awful, just heinously suck-fucking-tastic family Christmas story”, okay? What I do have, however, is a tale of complete parental letdown, a tale of epic Santa denied disaster, and ostensibly the end to ever seeing the world of gift giving the same forever.
Do you see this here? That Tabletop Pac-Man circa 1983? Yeah, well, that’s all a young Spirit Fingers wanted for Christmas. And how could anyone not want this wonderrific arcade game styled in true arcade fashion making for the unique opportunity to eat ghosts, cherries, and power pellets right at their frigging fingertips? This was THE quintessential gift item. Yah, Cabbage Patch dolls were for over exuberant baby-lovers, Freezy Freakies gloves were for nerd-junkies and future Fox 5 weathermen, naw, the Tabletop Pac-Man, that, my friends was for cool kids with skillz, the ones who wore Jordache not Wrangler, had crimped hair not crispy bangs, who prided themselves on acquiring over 50 Garbage Pail Kids, not those who played Uno with their cousins on Friday nights. Yah, knowledge of the T.T.P.M meant you’d actually been in the mall arcade with real high-school kids, if only for a few seconds before your mother grabbed you and said you’re too young and they probably smoke “reefer” in there.
So, I’d dropped hints about this thing. Showed everybody the picture in the Toys R. US (parental nightmare) catalog. Put it as the NUMBER ONE gift on my Santa letter, which was stamped, mailed, and shipped directly to the North Pole of course. I even confirmed this fact during my phone call to the man himself. (In the 80’s parents calling taped phone recordings of “Santa” so their kids could “talk” to him were popular) and felt I had done all I could to secure the gift. I stopped smacking the ever-living dog shit out of my brother for breathing. I washed dishes for two weeks straight without an increase in allowance, AND smiled graciously when my Nana mentioned some lameitude about pink and blue Barbie themed legwarmers. (which I actually received to my shame)
Everything was all set. Cookies were set out. PJs were on, off to bed I went, secure that Santa would bring me the toy that I could play, but was also excitingly portable so you could bring it to taunt all your friends who just got LEGOs or some other “thinking child’s” toy. Now, every parent knows no kid goes directly to sleep on Christmas eve. They all just lay wiggling in their beds in a ball of hope and Santa magic straining to hear reindeer or the jingle of bells until sleep forcibly takes them. So instead of bells or a distant “Ho, Ho, Ho.” I hear a battery operated whirring, and a chorus of whines and staccato electronic bleats and bleeps…very odd for a house built in the 1950’s to make. I creep downstairs to the kitchen to find my father and mother bending over a TABLETOP PAC-MAN game blustering and cursing AND fucking playing the shit out of my Christmas gift like they’ve been doing so for frigging weeks! I’m appalled, I’m mesmerized, I’m thrilled…I’m really fucking angry. Their excuse, “Well uh, we had to know if what Santa brought you…um, earlier, actually worked, because how could Santa really check everything that leaves the shop, right?” Bullshit, fuckers.
In twenty seconds I’ve learned there’s no Santa Claus (assholes), parents lie (assholes), and videogames are way cooler than anything ever if one can lead you to being an asshole in front of your child, and then of course, send them to bed and expect unadulterated joy when they open their NUMBER ONE Christmas gift in six hours that has already been sullied by the hands of Santa Claus thiever of Jesus Christ day veritable joy hijackers…i.e. the people who created and birthed you.
— Just Another 80’s Kid
One time each year, the world acts civilized for a few weeks. The “holiday” season brings out feelings and thoughts of goodwill and brotherhood in the masses, who would normally be at each other’s throats, for one reason or another. It’s a sad as shit commentary on the state of things that humans can set aside their differences and actually be nice to complete strangers, but just long enough to say “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas so nobody gets their their fucking panties in a knot.
I say Merry Christmas. Get over it.
Beginning on Black Friday, the day just after Thanksgiving, although it was on Thanksgiving day this year in the United States, the Christmas season is an officially open invitation for Americans to go on a retail feeding frenzy. As long as you’re not battling your way through the mall or other retail big box stores, someone will offer you good wishes for your holiday season. You may, however, be surprised by the number of widely held beliefs that are inaccurate, misinterpreted, or just plain wrong in regards to the Christmas season. Here’s a look at some of the most common Christmas holiday misconceptions, and how they came to be.
#1 Who Wrote “’Twas The Night Before Christmas”?
An anonymous New York resident submitted this well-known verse, “A Visit From St. Nick,” to the Troy Sentinel in 1823. Clement C. Moore, a local professor and poet, claimed it in 1836, though its structure and style matched none of his other published works. Another family in the area came forward to state that their patriarch had been reciting the poem to them each Christmas Eve since at least 1809. Many suspect that the verse came over with Dutch settlers, because of all the cultural references mentioned in the work. Regardless of its origins, the majority of people are familiar with this poem, but don’t have a clue who gets the credit for writing it or it’s actual origin.
#2 Are Real Christmas Trees A Fire Hazard?
Every year, of the millions of Christmas trees put up all over the world, only a small percentage of fires occur that can be traced back to shitty wiring. Generally, the problem is faulty or overloaded wiring, and not the actual tree, that is to blame. Fire safety experts advise that a real tree is no more hazardous than artificial trees, as long as people are “smart” and remember to keep it watered. But hey, we live in the land of blaming inanimate objects for short comings, why change and accept responsibility once a year. Safety? Fuck safety, we need more fucking lights! Right? Right.
#3 Was Jesus Born On December 25th?
Oddly enough, though bible scholars agree that Christ was more likely born in late Spring or early Autumn, many people still subscribe to the belief that Christmas day is the actual date of his birth. Too many seasonal signs in the scriptures point to the likelihood that he was born during a warmer time of the year. The presence of shepherds in the fields is one of the more blatant signs, but I’m just saying. Centuries later, the Roman Catholics were spreading Christianity to the far reaches of Europe, and trying to assimilate the masses of heathens by superimposing the Christian faith over the pagan traditions already in place. In an attempt to overshadow the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, one of Christianity’s more important holy days was intentionally scheduled for December 25th.
#4 Is Christmas The Most Important Christian Holiday?
It may be surprising for many people to discover that, while the celebration of the birth of Christ ranks high in the religious charts, in the eyes of theologians, it comes in second. The birth of the Son of God is an important earmark in history, but the more notable spiritual moment occurred when Christ’s divinity was proven – at his resurrection. Easter marks the historical point where Jesus stopped being a man, and became immortal, and religious scholars consider this the most important landmark in the Christian faith. Interesting enough, the actual date of Easter is also in question, as its springtime celebration coincides suspiciously with the pagan fertility ritual, Ostara, which is where we get Easter eggs and bunnies. Sneaky, huh?
#5 Did Three Kings Visit Jesus In The Manger?
The bible does not say anything about kings visiting Jesus, at any time during his childhood. Scripture states that three wise men followed an exceptionally bright star in the east, finding their way to the Son of God, and bestowing expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Since these alleged ‘wise men’ still believed in astronomical portents, and none of them had a Eurail pass, it is more likely that the magi caught up with Jesus around his first birthday. Centuries later, a mosaic in Ravenna, Italy, depicted the ‘gifts of the magi,’ and the names of the ‘three kings,’ Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar became part of this nativity myth and is still alive and kicking today.
#6 Is It Sacrilegious To Shorten Christmas To “X-Mas?”
The sad truth behind this myth simply illustrates how little modern Christians know about this holiday. Contrary to the belief that people who write “X-mas” are taking Christ out of Christmas, the habit of abbreviating the name is based on the Greek spelling of Christ, “Χριστός.” The Roman spelling also starts with an X. Entomologically, the argument could be made that people who write Christmas as X-mas are keeping the “Christ” in Christmas. This whole ‘X’ thing probably appeals to American rednecks, who can’t spell worth a shit, I know this personally.
#7 Are Santa Claus, Saint Nicolas And Father Christmas The Same Person?
The modern interpretation of Santa Claus, at least in America, is an amalgam of characteristics from several traditions; however, each of these traditions had very different points of origin.
Saint Nicolas was a Turkish bishop who, around the fourth century, dedicated his life to giving to the poor. He died on December 6th, so when the church canonized him, this date became St. Nicolas Day. In the 15th century, as attention focused back onto Christmas, and less on December 6th, Christians of that era wanted to keep the gift-giving tradition, and he became Father Christmas. The Dutch brought St. Nick to the New World, calling him sinterklaas. So, in America at least, Santa Claus is the modern representation of these varied cultures.
These widely held, but incorrect, beliefs don’t dampen the holiday spirits. It is more common these days for everyone to get their panties in a twist when someone says “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Let’s face facts, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but my family and I do, hope that doesn’t get anyone’s ass all chapped. In reality, those who don’t celebrate Christmas don’t offend me, to each his own, the end. Many of your neighbors celebrate Hanukkah, or Kwanza or some will even argue with you to say they are the real Christians who do not believe in Christmas. These days it’s not uncommon to find new age pagans and wiccans, celebrating the Winter Solstice. Count yourselves lucky that, despite your differences, total strangers are willing to extend you the tidings of peace, brotherhood, and goodwill. Considering the intolerance that is so common in the Christian faith and throughout the world, take what you can get from your non-Christian neighbors, and don’t make problems where there aren’t any.
Regardless, of how – or what – you celebrate, have a safe and Merry Christmas season, and a prosperous New Year. So, there you have it, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, Merry Christmas from The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog.
Posted From Scorpion Sting’s Motorola Droid Maxx!
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sounded a lot like Scrooge this year by threatening to cut nutrition assistance for low income women and children, it was behaving like a secret Santa to special interests spreading good cheer and taxpayer dollars through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Here are more than a few other examples how the program spent $50 million to ring in the holidays early in 2013.
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. And the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association is one of the six projects involving Christmas trees that was funded. These included shearing, marketing and promoting Christmas trees. The program also supported at least five ornamental plant initiatives, including a project to “to increase consumers’ awareness and preference for Florida-grown ornamental plants by investigating determinants of consumer purchasing behavior such as personal health and wellness benefits and environmental and economic benefits and by developing contextually relevant marketing strategies to increase plant sales” and another to support seminars on ornamental plants at the South Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association conference.
Visions of Sugar plums Dancing in Their Heads. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program had a sweet tooth for sugar producers this year and gave the plum growers reason to dance. The California Dried Plum Board received taxpayer dollars “to enhance the market for” prunes in Japan and South Korea. Funding was provided for “developing and implementing a comprehensive social media marketing campaign” for the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, “organizing and promoting a Maple Weekend including a recipe contest, tours of sugarhouses, restaurant participation, and promotional activities” with the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, and partnering with the Michigan Maple Syrup Association “to increase the profitability of Michigan maple syrup producers by developing planting stock for new sugar bushes with a higher sap sugar”.
Global Santa Tracker. Just like Santa with his bag full of toys, the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program traveled around the world this year spreading joy, with more than ten grants paying for international junkets. These included conducting the “USA Pear Road Show” in China, sending representatives from the Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association to international tradeshows, bringing wine connoisseurs from China to Washington state, supporting the participation of Puerto Rican coffee producers in the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe trade shows, hosting seminars on “cooking with pistachios and prunes” in Japan and South Korea, putting on “meetings, product showcases, trade tastings, and educational seminars” for Oregon producers in Asia, facilitating a bean grower field day in Mexico, supporting attendance at domestic and international trade shows for Michigan groups and companies, and assisting with a “trade development mission” to Vietnam, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Holiday Wine and Spirits. Santa may enjoy a glass of milk with cookies to get him through a busy evening of delivering holiday gifts and cheer, but the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program showed a preference for wine. The program funded 35 wine related projects this year. These included creating two smart phone apps to help “navigate to the next winery,” promoting wine trails and sales, improving wine tasting room satisfaction, and developing a West Virginia wine trail publication, and hosting a Wine Pavilion at the South Dakota State Fair.
Making a List and Checking It Twice. When making a list of duplicative government programs, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is sure to be on it at least twice since it mirrors in many ways at least two other USDA programs, the Market Access Program and Value Added Producer Grants. While not all of the projects funded by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program were wasteful, nearly all were eligible for funding from other federal programs making the program unnecessary. The largest proportion of grants was provided for marketing and promotion, such as social media for strawberries and a YouTube video about the proper handling of watermelons.
The Partridge in a Pear Tree: The “USA Pear Road Show,” promoting pears as far away as China, was one of the two pear related projects funded this year by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. While a flight to China was included, no partridge was actually involved in either project.
Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.