We all have lots of things to be thankful for, and a host of other writers and reporters will be checking them off for us during this week, in blogs, on Facebook, in newspaper Op-ed pages and in the closing feel-good segments of the evening news. And over the Thanksgiving turkey on the day that is the starting gun to the professional Alka-Seltzer season.
I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, too.
But I feel the gratitude has been adequately covered by the mainstream sentiments. So, I want to look at the other side: I’m such an unreconstructed contrarian that I like to find those missed opportunities, things we were never given the chance to be thankful for.
Like a TV-scape that could have been free of Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Pawn Stars, if only wiser heads had prevailed.
Or a decision not to make a sequel to Survivor, or to keep American Idol and its clones wheezing along season after tedious season.
So I’ve made a short list of things we cannot, in all honesty, claim to be thankful for.
–Like cell phones brrrrting-out in the adagio movement of symphonies.
–Like junk mail and the tonnage of mail-order catalogs clogging the mailbox — sometimes two or three identical catalogs delivered the same day. Can they afford to be so profligate? At least they keep the recycling bin full and humming.
–Like cable TV bundling, forcing you to buy a dozen useless channels in order to get the BBC news.
–Like pledge breaks on PBS, and its endless, insipid Yanni at the Acropolis or Andrea Bocelli “specials,” to say nothing of snake-oil salesmen giving us pep talks on vitamin supplements, nutritional fads or investment advice. Please, just ask for money and spare me the week of unwatchable TV.
–Is there anyone in the country who doesn’t find Flo’s car insurance ads cloying and smarmy?
–All those Linked-In updates from people you never heard of.
–A literal-minded Supreme Court majority
completely lacking in common sense. “Ars lexis,” indeed: “The law is an arse.” I can only imagine Antonin Scalia reading T.S. Eliot: “This is a lie. The man who wrote this poem was 23; he was not old and, according to photographs of the time, he did not wear the bottoms of his trousers rolled.”
–Robo-calls from political candidates and police benevolent societies. I don’t talk to machines.
–Chatty, chummy waiters who will be serving me tonight.
DON’T FORGET TOP TEN LISTS
Hmm. This list goes on: Stomach viruses, daytime talk shows; network sweeps weeks; movies based on television shows; Broadway musicals based on movies; movie versions of musicals based on movies. Then there is Sarah Palin, jokes about Palin, jokes about her trailer park progeny.
Technoweenies, Spotify, people who talk out loud during movies, small portions of cold food.
And more: Twilight and its sequels, movie sequels in general, Jennifer Lawrence rumors, Jennifer Lawrence facts, baby bumps, Kim Kardashian’s steatopygia as ubiquitous as waving flags in a right-wing TV election ads.
For that matter, any election commercials. Cheaply made gross-out animation on Comedy Central. No, it’s not funny just ‘cause it farts.
Promos on local TV news pretending to be actual journalism.
The deluge of so-called news stories that begin “5 things you didn’t know about …” I didn’t need to know.
How about celebrity non-singers who pulverize the national anthem at sporting events?
All that spitting and scratching during the World Series.
Hundreds of cable channels available and still nothing worth watching.
And there are too many Kardashians. Do they multiply like tribbles?
A short list of other celebrities for whom I am not grateful: Prince Harry and his ginger nethers; Kristin Stewart and her sullen pout; Miley Cyrus and her tattoos; Amanda Bynes and her ilk; Taylor Swift and her break-ups; Chris Hemsworth and his hair; Le Bron James and his self-esteem.
I’m sure you have your own list, but I’m sure it includes Adam Sandler.
DAY OF DISCONTENT
So for all this — most of which can keep a curmudgeon in fruitful dudgeon for a year — I am suggesting that we create a new national holiday.
We have a national day of thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November, so why not a national day of remonstrance the fourth Wednesday?
After all, All-Saints Day is preceded by its opposite, Halloween, so why shouldn’t Thanksgiving be ushered in with a day of sour apples and vinegar? Instead of turkey, we could eat grouse.
We could have the bellyaching over with even before we start over-eating turkey and stuffing.
It could be a national day to celebrate all the politicians we’ve elected. I can’t think of a more appropriate day unless it is April 15.
Lewis Black could be spokesman.
It would be a day we would all eat sauerkraut and wear tight shorts, a day to give the lie to ideas of ”peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.”
The holiday would be called the Day of Discontent, but more informally, we could call it Kvetchmas. And even more than Thanksgiving, it would make the appropriate beginning to the holiday commercial frenzy.
Of course one of the complaints celebrated during Kvetchmas would be the proliferation of spurious holidays.