Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Contemplating The Tinsels Of Old

We live in a world deprived of metal. Today, Christmas tree tinsel is made from toxic PVC vinyl. But originally, tinsel strips were cut from real silver. However, that was only affordable for a snooty few. So tinsel makers began making it from cheaper metal alloys, and by the 1920's, American Christmas trees were lousy with tinsel. Back then the tinsel even contained lead so it would hang better. Then in the 50's, manufacturers switched to making tinsel out of aluminized paper. A nice idea, except when it caught fire sitting next to the hot tree lights. Hence, the development of "fireproof" tinsel, as seen here. If you are trying to get across the idea that your tinsel won't burst into flame, is "Doubl-Glo" really the best branding choice?

The fireproof tinsel allowed further mass-marketing, and a continuation of questionable packaging concepts. Take the *Brite Star* product, for example. Why do we see Santa lingering outside the window? What's he doing out there? Why doesn't he get on with it? Perhaps this somewhat creepy Santa is just checking to make sure the family's tree has not burst into flame. After all, notice that *Brite Star* icicles do not bear the same Fireproof statement as the others.

Beyond the world of tinsel, some vintage ornaments are just weird. This tree ornament, made from spun cotton, looks like something wasps would fly out of.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Live-Blogging The Solstice Lunar Eclipse

12:50 am central time:

Put on coat over fleece robe. Put on big furry hat. Walk outside and crane neck. The sky is hazy but the moon is visible. A definite shadow creeping across its edge! Can't discern any coppery color yet.

Go back into the house and drink egg nog.

1:10 am central time:

This eclipse is moving fast! On our way to totality. Moon is almost halfway covered. Makes you realize how fast these celestial bodies are traveling. Peaceful night. Think I'll make a cup of tea.

1:20 am central time:

Geez louise, where's the fire? The eclipse is moving at a fast clip, and the moon already appears nearly three-quarters in shadow. It seems I could just stand out there, planted in the yard, and see it changing before my eyes. I can begin to discern more of a reddish glow, like they talked about, but it's subtle.

1:28 am central time:

Just a slim band of light now, on the moon's right side. The rest is all in shadow. There is more and more of a reddish glow visible. It's nearly 1:30 am and people still have their Christmas lights on. Do they leave them on all night?? I would love to be down at the Powell Observatory, in Louisberg, Kansas, which is open for nuts like me who want to "gather."

1:35 am central time:

Just a sliver left!--rapidly approaching totality. And the moon is indeed taking on a coppery hue as promised! Someone across the street just came out of their house. Did they come out to see the eclipse, or to grab a smoke?

1:45 am central time:

Totality! The moon was a faint smudge in the sky, but now has disappeared altogether, and I am not sure if this is the eclipse at work or increasing cloudiness. Lilah wasn't sure she would stay up at first, but then decided she would, and stands with me trying to find the moon behind all that grey milk. Okay, gradually, the moon is becoming faintly visible again. The person across the street is gone. No one else out in the street or in their yard, no one but us watching.

1:56 am central time:

Clouds! Dense clouds have moved in and I can't find the moon anywhere in the sky. If this keeps up I might have to go to bed. Though I'm not the least bit tired. Astronomical events are pretty stimulating, you know.

2:08 am central time:

Bleh. Still too many clouds to see anything. Well, here's some interesting lunar lore instead: According to the Wichita Eagle, some ancient peoples thought a lunar eclipse was a moon being gobbled by a dragon and bleeding into the sky. Others banged pots and pans until the moon reappeared. I think the pot and pan banging is a nice tradition and should be revived.

2:20 am central time:

I think a dragon has gobbled the moon. It's nowheresville. Clouds, clouds, clouds.

Next door, a large, puffy reindeer is deflating. The neighbors have finally pulled the plug on their *all-nite Christmas light display*. I probably shouldn't keep coming outside. I'm making dogs bark.

2:32 am central time:

I've been sitting here in a stupor since the last post. That tells me that I better hie me off to bed, before I end up sleeping in this chair. I've already started to dream -something about...round, coppery orbs...elusive....vanishing...

2:40 am central time:

Had to step out on the porch and take one last look before going to bed. Sky is overcast, and by now at least half of the earth's shadow will have receded. Soon I will be a lumpish shadow receding to my own bed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Burl Ives Event Stirs Trouble Anew in Small Maryland Town

Dispute over folksy troubador creates rancor in Peaksville, Maryland

Peaksville, MD – A Christmastime controversy over folk singer Burl Ives that has bitterly divided the town of Peaksville, Maryland for three years, is the source of continued friction as a pro-Burl group plans to stage a "Burl Pride" parade down Main Street during the "Tree and Tunes" festivities, in defiance of the Burl Ives My Ass Coalition (BIMAC), which has sought to stamp out any Burl-related activities from the town square during the holiday season.

The pro-Burl group, Burl's Legacy Is Treasured, Honored and Enduring (BLITHE), announced the parade yesterday, saying it had an enthusiastic group of parade participants already signed up.

"We have Burl impersonaters that will knock your socks off," said Harry Hornfield, BLITHE spokesman. "It will be a crowd-pleasing event that will warm the cockles of every man, woman and child."

Hornfield dismissed BIMAC as "a bunch of grouchy old farts who are against joy and happiness in all its purest forms." Hornfield said, "Here are people who have nothing better to do than to ruin Christmas for everybody else. Even in our small town, we have a sizeable population of Burl fans. For them, a Christmas without "Holly Jolly Christmas" sung by the Burlmeister, just isn't, well, all that jolly.

BIMAC countered BLITHE's claims by saying no one wants to hear Burl Ives' "cheesy cornball tweedle-dee-deeing" except the "tone-deaf" members of BLITHE, who "obviously have no taste" and shouldn't be imposing their "fringe" interests on the good people of Peaksville.

"We are doing a public service for the rest of the town, and we do it proudly, " said Clive Hammerschmitt. "Who wants to listen to that crap? No one! But folks are afraid to say it. Well, we're not afraid. We come right out and call a spade a spade." Hammershcmitt said that BIMAC is determined to put a stop to the parade. "I hear they have some Burl impersonators and that. I don't know where they found those people, but if they think they're going to trot them right through the center of our town they have another think coming."

Hornfield said that the parade is perfectly legal and that has group has acquired all the necessary city and county permits.

"It's going to be a great parade. We have Burl jugglers, Burl tumblers, a couple of Burl-themed floats, and of course, a whole bunch of Burl singers. We even have some burlesque performers doing a special "Burl-esque" routine. But the big highlight will be the Burl Ives Santa at the end. I hope everyone comes out and brings the kids. It'll be big, Burly fun for all."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don't You Want To Sing With Heino?

I have Germanic ancestry in my blood but I swear to god sometimes I don't understand the German people at all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When It's This Cold....

......Curse words sound mild as a church chat. Consuming fat feels virtuous and wise. Alcohol is medicinal. You consider taking up smoking as a way to keep warm. You let the recycling go to hell.

When it's this cold....

You keep movements to a minimum, to conserve energy. You keep close to the stove, to your supply of tea. When you must go out, you wear ugly, sensible shoes and take baby steps out to your car. Your winter hat can't be too big or voluminous. It should extend high above your head like a cloud. It's okay to wear your robe under your coat when you go to the store. The normal rules of society don't apply.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is Your Hair Ready For Christmas?

Does your "do" say "I do mistletoe"? Does your upsweep make hearts leap? A brand new hair style will make your holiday hotter than a roasted hog. Nothing beats these merry mops for fetching kisses under the green.

And say, isn't that Susan Dey, aka Laurie Partridge of the Partridge Family, up on the housetop, cooly filching candy mints from the gingerbread people? She knows that everyone is too busy staring at her hair to notice her petty theft. Proving once again that the best front is a bouffant.