Of Pickle Juice, Two Face Gods, and Cow Dung

    As I sat down tonight, after growing tired of train wreck videos and constant political caterwauling on Tik Tok, I originally thought to write a serious essay about this event, that event, or the latest gaffe by the Turnip-in-Chief in the White House.

    However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the last week of the year should be something a little lighter than all that.  After all, 2021 was a depressing (with notable personal exceptions, mind you) twelve months.  Why go into its last week harping about the latest "Idiocy Du Jour?"

    After all, the spirit of Kwanzaa DEMANDS that I restrain myself.

    So, instead of a discussion of the origin of "God Bless You" (which I eventually will get to; just not this year), I decided to delve into the origins of the New Years celebrations.

    Therefore, for my last post of 2021...

 

                New Year's Eve is the final farewell to the year.  More than just uncontrolled drinking of everything from the finest champagne to that almost empty jar of pickle juice in the fridge, it's a time for us to reflect back on the past twelve months.  We take the opportunity to evaluate our successes and joys.

Or the wisdom of shoving a bottle rocket up our butts at the 4th of July picnic.

                Oh sure, New Year's Day is the actual holiday.  But, it's in the new year (hence the name, duh) and involves little more than antacid, aspirin, and resolutions to never drink again.  A resolve which will roughly last until Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

                I was surprised to learn (if Wikipedia is to be believed) that January 1st has been celebrated for more than 2,000 years.  Yeah, right?

                In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar, he of the salad,*  decreed that January 1st would be celebrated as the beginning of the year.  You see, January was named after the Roman god, Janus.  Janus was the god of doors and gates (he originally applied to be God of War instead of that showoff, Mars).

Also God of Candy Bars


                In addition to all that, Janus had two faces, one "looking forward" and one "looking back."  Caesar thought this made him the ideal candidate for the new year (looking back and looking forward is something we do to this day.  Ain't history cool?).

Wrong Two Face


That's better.
"HEY! WOULD IT KILL YOU TO CLOSE THE GD DOOR!?"


                To add a little festive "zing" to the festivities, he then ordered a violent routing of Jewish revolutionaries in Galilee.  Oh, that Julius.  What a party animal, amirite?

                Two years later, he was stabbed to death on the floor of the Roman Senate.  Coincidence?

                Well, despite the dictator being ventilated and the civil war which followed, the Romans continued to observe January 1st as the beginning of the year.  Part of the celebrations included watching a ball of cow dung, virgins, and Greeks descend over thousands gathered in the Roman Forum**.   Drunken orgies followed, which they say reenacted the chaos of the world before the advent of the gods.  So, drunken bacchanalian excesses were highlights of the day wayyyyyyyy before Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve.

"Whoa...hang on...is that cow dung?"

                Of course, I can't confirm the orgy part nowadays.

                Eventually, the killjoys in the nascent Christian religion downplayed the raucous goings-on that were pagan holidays.  Some they incorporated into Christian festivals (e.g., Christmas was celebrated during the Roman Saturnalia or Feast of the Unconquered Sun.  Or did you really think Jesus was born at the end of December?).  Others they got rid of completely.

                For example, January 1st was no longer considered the new year.  Rather, during the early medieval period, March 25th, or Annunciation Day, was judged the beginning of the year.  Yeah, I don't follow the logic of that one, either.

"What's more, no 'Annunciation Day Eve' parties, either."
"Eff."

                However, when William the Conqueror (also known as William the Bastard) successfully invaded England in 1066, he decreed that observance of the new year would return to January 1st so as to more closely align with Christmas and, coincidentally, the commemoration of Jesus' circumcision.


William depicted with his brother, Clive the Motherf*cker,
 on the Bayeaux Tapestry

                And that's the way it's been ever since.

                So, think about that when, this coming Friday evening, the host of the New Year's Eve party offers you a platter full of little cocktail weenies.

                A symbolic remembrance of one of history's unkindest cuts of all, perhaps?

                Personally, I think a drunken orgy would be more fun.

 


                HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

 

*Just kidding.  That was Caesar Chavez.

**okay, this probably isn't true

***yeah, that definitely isn't true.  Because comedy!

God Bless Us Everyone

 The following is a true story (as far as you know)...

    Christmas was always a big deal at my house.

"Wait!  That's the Lynch house!  Wave off!  WAVE OFF!!"

    Starting immediately after Thanksgiving, we began the big run up to the most wonderful time of the year, not counting Flag Day. 

"Hey, once the kid falls asleep, how about I see if I could scrounge up a couple ham sandwiches?  Oh no, it's totally cool.  We're Catholics now."
    

    As much fun as the run-up to Christmas was, it was on the actual day that the real hoopla began.

    When the clock struck nine on Christmas Eve, our parents scooted us off to bed.  Warned to stay there all night, we were cautioned not to surprise Santa as he placed gifts under our aluminum Christmas tree.  With our classy color wheel.

"Now with three of the four primary colors! 
Plus green!"

    OK, so we bought the lie.  We also believed in the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy.

And that a nun could fly.

    We tossed and turned all evening.  To pass the time, we mortified our sister by making armpit fart noises.

    As midnight approached, we heard the sound of movement downstairs.  Instantly calling a halt to the armpit symphony, we strained to hear what was happening.

    “Santa’s here!” my brother Gary gasped.

    Straining my ears, I heard the muffled sound of rustling paper.  Even so, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on.  It was only when I heard a sharp bang followed by a string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill that I knew the magic of Christmas had arrived.

The Myth

The Reality
"Hmm, I wonder if the fat kid will notice his Schwinn
only has one wheel. 
Meh, I'll tell him it's a unicycle."

    Reassured, I happily closed my eyes.

    What seemed like seconds later, I was rudely awakened.  “C’mon,” Gary excitedly cried, “Santa Claus came last night!”


Yeah, that would
have been pretty unbelievable.
    


   He seemed genuinely surprised.  Where had
he been all these weeks?  Of course Santa Claus came last night!  Who’d he expect, Nixon?

    



    We bounded downstairs to a dazzling rainbow of presents beneath our garish tin pole.  Quickly diving into the pile, we were brought up short by a shrill, “Nobody opens anything until your father and I get there!”

For some reason, my parents weren't impressed by my, "That's it?" 
NOTE:  Congratulations to those sharp-eyed readers who noticed
that I said we had an aluminum tree.  Get off my back.

                

    Thus admonished, we anxiously perched on the edge of our avocado and gold couch.  It seemed an eternity until our parents trudged like zombies into the living room.

    Coming out of her narcoleptic daze, Mom gushed, “Wow!  What happened?  Did Santa come?”  (Amazingly, she sounded as shocked as
my brother.  What was it with these people?  Did they all have brain damage?).

    Oblivious to her amazement, my father silently nodded.

    Instantly responding, we dove under the tree in a giddy paroxysm of joy.  We were a brood possessed, we were seized with the spirit, we were seagulls descending on a box of French Fries.  

    After we had torn open our presents, our parents announced that it was time for church.  After all, what says Christmas more than sitting uncomfortably on wooden pews and splashing each other in the face with water from the petri dishes disguised as holy water fonts?

    Despite the fact that Joe Biden makes more appearances at Sniffers Anonymous than my family at Mass, we were “going, goddammit!” 

    So, after exchanging footie pajamas forswanky “Dad N Lad” ensembles and hideous frocks of a color not found in nature, off we sped in the family Batmobile to Saint Stanislaus. 

Canary yellow Ford LTD
Country Squire Station Wagon
with Faux Wood Side Paneling Batmoblile,
thank you very much.

    Upon arrival-five minutes late-my father ushered us into the very last pew.  “That way,” he whispered, “we can beat the traffic.” 

    The service was tolerable.  There were a bunch of mumbled carols, a Christmas sermon about how Baby Jesus didn’t get coal, and the obligatory offering for starving Chinese kids.  “The ones who weren’t Commies,” Father Karl sternly added.  That was about it.  Oh, and Phil needed the Heimlich maneuver to get that communion wafer out of his throat.

Plus, Karen wasn't too happy when Phil and I farted in the pew.  Thus, making a joyful noise unto the Lord.

 NOTE:  Yes, I wrote "pew."  You're welcome.

    Before you could say “Dominus Nabisco,” we were knocking down old Slovak ladies to get out the door.

Although I think the one in the middle
put a gypsy curse on us.

    Once home, we joyfully returned to our toys, although now we wanted to see how creative we could get.  Surprisingly, G.I. Joe didn’t fare too well in the Vietcong EZ Bake Oven.  We also discovered that, if you removed the rubber suction cups, toy arrows sharpen up real nice.

With Kung Fu grip.  Naturally.

    Meanwhile, Mom merrily prepared the “Holiday Feast.”  The star of the show was, of course, the turkey, which had been mummifying in the oven the past two days.  Its aroma filled the house with flavor and its burning grease flooded the kitchen with smoke. 

    Besides the turkey, dinner featured food you’d never see any other time of year.  For instance, I can’t imagine any egg nog keggers at a Fourth of July picnic.

    When presented a choice of turnips, squash, candied yams, egg nog, deviled eggs,
cranberry sauce (always from the can), marzipan, sweet potato souffle with mini-marshmallows, mincemeat pie, and the ubiquitous fruitcake, we usually preferred white meat, Hungry Jack potatoes, and marshmallow snowmen.

There was also blood pudding. 
In case Dracula stopped by, I guess.

    After which, we flung dinner rolls at Karen and the dog.

    Sufficiently gorged, we retired to the living room to strap Karen’s Barbie to the aluminum tree's “Revolving Color Wheel of Death” while Mom hosed down the dining room.  Dad, on the other hand, attired in his festive tee shirt and tighty-whiteys, plopped in front of the television and scratched his back with a fork.

    As afternoon dragged toward evening, our eyelids grew heavy.  Our early morning rampage had finally caught up with us and, chocolate-fueled frenzy notwithstanding, we were sliding closer to sleep.

    Through lidded eyes, I remember my father lurching toward the kitchen.  Before I lapsed into a food coma, I heard a faint, “Boy, I sure could use a turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip.”

    Followed by a harsh string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill as he found one of our pointed wooden arrows.

    “Hey,” Gary mumbled as he drifted off to sleep, “Santa’s back.”

    Let’s see Kwanzaa match those kind of holiday memories.

License To Brag

 Good evening, my two followers.  The following, while not nonsense, isn't exactly serious "stuff," either.  While there are plenty of topics upon which I could pontificate, my brain hurts and I don't want to get into anything too heavy.  Especially, since the 2,021th (or 2,025th) birthday of the Little Baby Jesus is a little over a week away.  Never fear, I'll get into meatier issues once the year turns.

                Having moved to Virginia from the Peoples' Republic of Pennsylvania in August, 2020 (golly, where has the time gone?), I've noticed quite a few differences.

                The weather (it was in the 70s today), the cuisine (Pizza Hut is considered a delicacy), and local major league sports (there are none) all tell me I ain't in Kans...err, the Keystone State anymore.

                But, and like Hillary Clinton, no small but (yes, the spelling's different...sue me...you know what I meant), our Wawas sell beer.

"Good one.  Huh, Rug?"

                I've noticed another thing which also sets us apart.  No, it's not that the Old Dominion will get a governor next month who didn't sport blackface in his yearbook (although there is that).  It's that there are a ton of personalized license plates tooling down the highways.

This guy is probably speeding down the highway.
FULL DISCLOSURE:  I don't think Virginia issues this one anymore.
                Motorists can select any number of possible designs to adorn their rear and front bumpers (the existence of a front license plate being another change from up north).  If you can think of a cause, Virginia has a plate for you.  Anything from a patriotic theme to the state bird to Ducks Unlimited, you can get it.  Well, you probably couldn't get one for the National Man Boy Love Association (although, in this day and age, who TF knows?), but if you're a bird watcher, y'all can get a special plate!

I think we can forget about the "National Man Fish Love Association," though.

                Plus, in addition to that, motorists can insert any cutesy message they wish (as long as it's not pornographic).  For instance, I saw a license plate with "IH8NOVA" on it, which I can only assume means the owner has no great love for Fairfax and Loudon Counties.

                Which makes sense.  Northern Virginia sucks.

                Big problem with this approach, however, is that I sometimes will creep up on them while trying to figure out what it is they're trying to say.  This, of course, is a major detriment to highway safety.  Especially when I'm drinking that beer I bought at Wawa.

                NOTE:  I do not drink and drive.  I pull into a parking lot.

                Now some of you may be thinking that Virginians are a whimsical lot prone to creative self-expression and trumpeting of a particular cause.  Well, okay they are a tad whimsical (for instance, bless their hearts, they think grits is Diet Cream of Wheat).  But, I believe that a lot of the motivation behind this is that, at only $10.00, it's pretty cheap to have one of these things.  Not for me, mind you, I prefer a generic state plate.  Both because I don't want to spend money I don't have and because why chance road rage by some Freemason who objects to my Knights of Columbus license plate?

                However, if I was to get a personalized plate, it would be something along the lines of one I saw yesterday.  This was a special one honoring the driver/owner as a Desert Storm/Desert Shield Veteran.

Hard to believe this was thirty years ago.
I had brown hair back then and everything worked.
What is none of your business.

                As I crept up on him at the red plate (okay, maybe "creep" is an unfortunate term), I thought that that was a nice way to recognize this man or woman's service.  Then, I wondered if that is something I would like to have (yes, I am also a Desert Storm/Desert Shield veteran).  The more I thought about, though, the more I realized that if I was to commemorate any bit of my service, it would not have a picture of the Southwest Asia Service Medal on it.

                No, instead I'd have a picture of the National Defense Service Medal for all the world to see.

I had been in the Navy fourteen years before I was eligible to wear this.
The 1970s and 1980s were good times.
Except for our livers.


                Especially to my service friends, the National Defense Medal is considered a bit of a "geedunk" medal.  It's thought of as the military's "participation trophy."  Meaning, if you're wearing the uniform during a specified timeframe (e.g., Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Global War On Terrorism), you get to throw it on your uniform, even if you're just in Boot Camp.

                NOTE:  Space precludes from explaining the origin of the term "geedunk."  You really should thank me.

                I get it, I really do.  We all get one.  However, to me, "national defense" is what our service was all about.  Whether in basic training, onboard a ship, recruiting Midwest farm boys, flying surveillance missions over the Red Sea, or guarding a South Dakota missile silo, everyone pitched in, everyone was essential to safeguarding our nation.

                Hell, even the Marines kept the crayon industry in business.

                With that in mind, I am most proud of my National Defense Service Medal.  Don't get me wrong.  I cherish the others, even that Coast Guard one.  But, I signed up to defend my country.  Without national defense, all of them would be moot.  National Defense gives us a life which is free.

                And the ability to have a "Bowler" license plate on our car.

Admit it.  You thought I was kidding.


Next time:  Christmas silly.

What's In a Name?

NOTE:  Thanks to those who commented on my post last week about "Socialism."  The first of what will be a regular series of serious bits of "stuff," it's clear that not all of us agree on everything.  I look at things from a conservative point of view, while a good number of you are of a liberal bent. Just because we disagree does not mean we can't be friends, though.  And friends we shall be.  But, this week?  I'll enjoy injecting a bit of silliness to the mix.  While this is, for the most part, a repeat of a post I wrote a couple years ago, it will be new to others.  And for those of you who may remember it, I've updated it a little.  And added a couple more pictures.  Because who doesn't love pictures?


BC/AD, BCE/CE, AC/DC

    Since we've left the dinosaurs, Ice Age, cavemen, and "Make Pangea Great Again" ballcaps of prehistory behind, we'll soon (and, by "soon," I mean "whenever"), be getting into those bits of history which were actually written down.  

    Whether hieroglyphics, cuneiform, or Sanskrit (is that a
Huh.  Whaddya know?  It is a language.  
And it's a mother.
language?  I think it's a language.  Sounds like a language.  Probably is.  Anyway, as always, I don't feel like looking it up.), people will begin writing down political philosophies, business transactions, methods of agriculture, weather observations, and dirty limericks.

"We chopped off the heads of 1,000 Hittites.  You get that down?"
   
    They had no set reference of time, though.  Okay, they probably did, but nothing like our standard method of dating.  After all, we're so much advanced than the primitives of the past, with our space travel, electric cars, masks, and poop on sidewalks.

It's the San Francisco treat.

    NOTE:  Judaism uses a different method of recording the passage of time.  While they undeniably date things employing the method the rest of us use, they also follow a practice based on the Torah, Abraham, or something like that to confuse the living daylights out of us.  For instance, isn't it something like the year 5,800 to them?  It has something to do with the moon, I think.  Or Woody Allen.  I don't know.  My head hurts. 

    Since...uh...a long time ago, we've dated civilization using a
"Catheter Sample Packs are a basic human right!  
BC, AD, whenever!"
"BC/AD" convention.  It's worked well as far as I've been alive.  And, since I've been alive longer than most of you, it should work well for you, too.  
 
   On the other hand, if you've been alive longer than I, good luck with those Depends, catheter sample packs, and Matlock marathons.
"The frik you mean I gotta wait four years!?"
   "B.C." stands for "Before Christ."  Meaning "Before Christ Was Born" not "Before Christ First Started Shaving."  I know that Jesus was born sometime around 4 B.C. (well, that's what the nuns told us), meaning Jesus was born four years before Jesus was born.  

    "A.D." stands for "Anno Domini," which is Latin-not Greek-for "Year of Our Lord."  It does not mean "After Death," you knucklehead.  If that's what it stood for, then, since Jesus was something like 33 years old when he was crucified, there's 33 years (or 37, considering that 4 B.C. thing) unaccounted for.

    In the last years of the 20th Century, though (proving that people have been wacky woke for decades), a new way of dating things has arisen in academia and general society: that of "B.C.E." or "Before the Common Era" and "C.E." or "Common Era."

    This was done to downplay the influence of Christianity and the Western World.  Don't try to tell me this isn't so.

"Okay, yeah, you figgered it out.  Infidel."

    Actually, I guess I'm okay with that in a "whatever" kind of way.  I mean, if I wasn't a
"But turkey bacon on flights to Dubai  is totally cool. "
Christian, I'd probably have a problem with talking about something which happened in the "year of our Lord."  After all, Jesus isn't the Jews' Lord, an atheist has no Lord (unless you count the "God of Climate Change."), pagans worship bundles of sticks, Jehovah's Witnesses worshi..., I don't know what they do, and Satanists idolize...uh...Satan.  Muslims would get ticked, I suppose, but they're too busy bitching about ham on airplanes.
   
NOTE:  I'm making outlandish generalizations for comedy purposes only.  Get over yourselves.

    The problem I have with this, though, is what exactly is "Common"?  Sure, Christianity and Judaism are common (Buddhism was also around, I think, but I'm trying to make a point here).  You can't exactly say Islam was common, because that religion didn't start raging around the Middle East and Mediterranean until 632 A.D.

   This means that, if you were going for a "common" vibe (using the "Big Three."  Sigh...okay Buddhism would make it the "Big Four."  Happy now?), the year should actually be 1389 C.E., instead of 2021 A.D.  

    By the way, I know that "A.D." should go before the year, College Boy.  Shut up.

"Fab Four" was already taken.



    No, what this is is a politically correct way of changing the name of something without actually changing anything.  The years are still the same.  In other words, Jesus was still born in the same year, except now it's 4 B.C.E.
"I still want a birthday party. 
Except no Judas."

"Goin' to Purgatory for that one, boyo."

    If the "C" stood for "Christian," it would at least be an accurate statement of fact.  As in "Before Christian Era" and "Christian Era."  

    Once again, though, I understand the resistance to 
Wrong Christian Dating
"Christian Dating."

    That said, if you want to steer away from a Christian lens, why not date things from the start of Islam?  Or maybe the founding of Rome?  The fall of the Western Roman Empire?  Norman Conquest?  Invention of the sex doll?  
"That last one sounds good."

    I realize that won't happen because can you imagine the disruption that would cause to our sense of our place in the world, to say nothing of what it would do to Hallmark?

    Sooooooo, I'll just go right on using "BC" and "AD,"  thank you very much.  There'll be no silly "B.C.E." and "C.E." nonsense here.  If you're the type of person who is uncomfortable with those terms, rest assured that nothing is different.

    The existence of syphilis was first recorded in 1495 A.D.  Which is the same as 1495 C.E.
"Well, that's what condoms are for."
Yes, I realize this is the second Bill Clinton picture.
Shut up.
    
  There, that's something you know now. 
      
Since I mentioned them in the title, I guess I should include a picture.  
But, I thought we left cavemen behind.


Next time:  Some stuff.

Happy Independence Day!

     Or "Fourth of July" to the rest of the world.     Yes, yes, sigh, I know.  Many other countries, other than the United State...