Open Thread for November 27, 2009

What pop culture are YOU thankful for?

Welcome to Black Friday (or as we Americans have it now, post-racial Friday), so called because it is traditionally the day on which retailers first turn a profit for the year. While we hope you do your fair share of consumption, we hope you will not be blinded to the true meaning of our many holidays, the reason for the season: Overthinking.

Every year it seems to start earlier and earlier. This year, the christmas decorations were up the morning after Halloween. The onslaught of treacly music began. The snowdrifts were painted into the corners of retail window displays. (This is particularly laughable as I live in Los Angeles, which is a coastal desert.)

And yet, the season has its pleasures as well. Great food. Time off from work. Eggnog Lattes at Starbucks. People wearing Santa hats around. Fox News’s annual sanctimonious hand-wringing about “The War on Christmas.” A court case or two over a nativity scene on public property. The release of cynical Oscar-bait films. ‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Question: What do you love or hate most about the holiday season?

And let us not forget the day just past: Thanksgiving. (American Thanksgiving for our international audience.) A time to pause, gather, imbibe immoderately, fight with your family, eat pie, and note your gratitude for things you might take for granted the other 364 days of the year.

Question: What neglected bit of pop culture are you thankful for?

These or any other topics are fair game: It’s the most wonderful open thread of the year!

15 Comments on “Open Thread for November 27, 2009”

  1. lee OTI Staff #

    1) I am by most measures pretty Scroog-y this time of year, but I must admit that I totally and unironically love the song “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

    2) Arnold Schwarzenegger. Poor guy is mostly associated with the mess he’s inherited/created with the California state budget, but let that not make us forget his achievements in film. To borrow a phrase from Fenzel, our favorite actors are those that get work. And boy, did Arnold get work.


  2. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    2. I don’t know if it counts as neglected, but the just-ended season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was tremendous. Rewatched the whole thing with my family over the last few days, and the guy makes comedy look easy.


  3. Genevieve #

    1) Hate Most: Being forced to listen to schlocky holiday music. While I freely admit to actually LOVING most schlocky holiday music, it absolutely has its place. Holiday parties. Churches. My iPod, if I’m feeling sentimental. However, it drives me utterly batshit when it’s pumped through every damn radio in every store from here to oblivion.

    Love Most: Alistair Sim’s A Christmas Carol. Followed closely by A Muppet Christmas Carol.

    2) I’m not sure it’s neglected – I’m sure it wasn’t when it first came out – but I’ve been feeling very thankful for The Tick live action TV show lately. It’s probably because I’ve been going through Nestor Carbonell withdrawal since the last season of Lost ended. Well, maybe not, since Batmanuel is SO MUCH COOLER than Richard Alpert, and that’s saying quite a lot.


  4. roachsrealm #

    1. I hate the mindless consumerism. Door busters remind me of so much cattle being herded for the slaughter.

    2. Thankful for the best holiday-time christmas movie ever: The Ref.


  5. mlawski OTI Staff #

    I second Belinkie’s comment about the greatness of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The second to last episode of this season (“The Table Read”) was one of the funniest things I have ever seen ever. I’ve watched it three times already.

    I am especially thankful for the character of Leon.


  6. Perich #

    I’m thankful for Star Wars and Star Trek. As a literary snob, it’s easy for me to look down my nose at them (“such poor dialogue! such poor engineering! ugh!”). But re-reading John Clute’s excellent Encyclopedia of Science Fiction this weekend reminded me of what these properties meant for the genre of science-fiction when they appeared. They injected two much-needed elements in their respective debuts: wonder and optimism.

    As an elitist and Overthinker, I need to be periodically reminded that there’s something to be said for laser swords and spreading liberal democracy via starship.


  7. stokes #

    I am thankful for Vince Guaraldi. I hate the schlocky holiday music – I hate having it crammed down my throat, and I pretty much hate it as music too. But I always find a smile for the “Christmastime is here” song from the Peanuts Christmas special. Always.


  8. Trevor #

    1.) I know if I were still working retail, “endless cycle of Christmas music” would be my least-favorite thing about the holidays. Next time you’re bopping your head along to Jinglebell Rock at the local mall, take a minute to silently observe the personal hell of those who have to work with that repeating every few hours during their shift.

    2.) Arrested Development is still one of the great “shoulda been a hit” stories in the history of television, on account of the fact that it was just so damn good (even in the less-well-regarded third season).


  9. stokes OTI Staff #

    Is the third season really less-well-regarded? The For British Eyes Only episodes were my favorites ever. “Why am I not going under water?! WHY AM I NOT GOING UNDER WATER?!”


  10. Dan #

    Allow me to concur with all those who hate the schlocky holiday music. I’m a band director by profession, and I HAVE to program it, because audiences expect it.

    But seriously.. why does a quarter of my output every year have to be the same %*#$*! holiday tunes?

    Stupid Leroy Anderson… he went to hahvahd, you know.

    Thankful for the fact that the ski slopes are EMPTY Christmas morning… more skiing for me!


  11. Gab #

    1) Love: The Rankin-Bass claymation specials. And the dog shows on TV. Hate: Trying to come up with gifts without seeming like I either tried too hard or didn’t try enough, all the while still maintaining a balanced budget.

    2) Commercial and movie trailer soundtracks. I have bought numerous entire albums because I heard a snipit of a songg, did research, and discovered I liked much of what the artist has put out already, even if I had never heard them before said snipit and only hear them in my own playlists thereafter.

    @Trevor: I have worked seasonally at a reatil store before. I commiserate, dear sir. Very much so. I shudder at the memories.


  12. Shawn pitre #

    @Genevieve, I’m glad someone else has found/rediscovered the Tick. Batmanuel was a marvellous, very fun character. It also allowed Patrick Warburton shine in a way that made you both smile and feel a bit uncomfortable.

    1) It’s not really related to the Christmas season, however, my son (age 3 1/2) has gotten into the kick of saying that he wants whatever he sees on commercials, from the Playdoh Hamburger Maker to Barbie to Hot Wheels to My Little Pony. While I know the simplest way to discourage this is to take away Television, there are shows that we watch that he enjoys that are teaching him things. He watches both English and French shows, which helps with his understanding of both languages.

    2) I am greatful for Hulu. I may be in Canada, however I do have access to it through…other means. I’ve watched many movies and shows over the last year or so, and it has gotten me through many many Many long nights. Watching my way through entire series episode to episode night after night keeps me sane.

    Oh, and G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Complete Collectors Set. [The Complete Series]. It looks awesome, and may have solved my dilemma as to what to get for my wife. Perhaps someone can affiliate link it so all those who wish to dive into nostalga can help out the overthinkers!

    Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.


  13. fenzel #

    1) I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate cinnamon spray. You know, the stuff they aerate malls and stores with to remind you it is the holidays, so you should spend recklessly or no one will love you. It is literally among my least favorite things in the world. It makes me sick to my stomach, both because it is itself putrid and because what it represents turns my stomach.

    I had a specific bad experience with cinammon spray that I don’t want to talk about that was really really awful. So my hatred is obviously informed in a way that is, I hope, unique. But even without that, the stuff is wretched and should never, ever be used.

    2) I am thankful for Lionel Richie. I’ve been on a Lionel Richie kick for a few weeks, and the guy’s body of work is wonderful. You forget how many great songs he has, and you also forget how good even his really simple ones are. “All Night Long (All Night)” is one of my “new” favorite videos.


  14. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Having just finished watching the first season of Friday Night Lights, I can say this: I am thankful for the first season of Friday Night Lights. In particular, I am thankful for Connie Britton, who needs to be the star of her own TV show when FNL is over, and Kyle Chandler, who needs an Emmy (or at very least a nomination — c’mon Emmy voters!).

    Okay, I’m done fangirling. Move along. Nothing to see here.


  15. Trevor #

    @stokes: In the circles that I ran in online back when the show was still on, the third season was seen as a letdown from all that had come before on AD, as if the manic energy of the first and second seasons was spent and the writers now were trying too hard. Granted, this could be more about Fox’s musical-chairs scheduling policy than the show itself, with the infrequent episodes occasionally popping up if American Idol ran short or the Sunday football games ran long.


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