23 December 2009

Festivus Grievances: 2009 Edition

It's the most wonderful time of the year, it's time to recount all the ways you've been disappointed in excruciating detail in the past 364 days since the last Festivus.

My list will be broken into categories: Arts, Politics, Sports, and Random Petty Personal Peeves, as usual, I haven't any real grievances to air against those in my personal life. Unfortunately (from an airing of grievances viewpoint), I'm surrounded by a good family and solid friends, so I have to turn outward to the rest of the world to find my grievances. Luckily, the rest of the world has been working overtime this past year to give me all sorts of great material.


I'm sick to death of death. Not that I don't expect people to die, but it seems the way we as a culture have come to revel in maudlin remembrances of famous folks when they die has gone completely off the rails. Michael Jackson was a freak, whose talent had long left him behind, and more a punch line and afterthought than currently relevant entertainer, yet in death, he suddenly became as vital a force in the public consciousness as he was at his absolute height back in the eighties. The industry that sprang up overnight around his death is just one example of an accelerating trend around what a great career move dying has become. So my grievance is against outsized grieving for famous folks, and the media outlets that feed this stupid behavior.

My next grievance is with ABC and the American viewing public. Better of Ted is a pretty damn fine, and pleasantly surreal, comedy show, yet ABC barely promotes it, and shuffles it around its schedule. Of course I can't direct my grievance solely at ABC, since nobody is watching the show, so how they treat the show is somewhat understandable, but if the support for that show was a little better, maybe audiences would have found it sooner.

Staying with TV grievances, Eliza Dushku, you I'm pointing my Festivus Pole your way (though it pains me to do so). Dollhouse might have been something, but not with you in the lead. Sorry, you have your talents, and in the right role, you are brilliant, but this show asked way too much of you, and was doomed from the start.

Next up, Amazing Race producers, you get a thwacking with my Festivus Pole (I'm pumped up after my Feats of Strength, so swinging that sucker around is no problem) for not figuring out a way to shoot your damn show in HD. The benefits of making a switch will surely outweigh the extra cost, just get it done, the equipment is out there, the selection of HD capable cameras is vast now, and the travelogue aspect of your show would be greatly enhanced (just look at your CBS cousin, Survivor, to see what a difference HD v SD makes, it's easier for them since they're basically on a set, but it's 2010 folks, everything on the broadcast networks should be in crystal clear HD by now).

History Channel, you get a few blows from my Festivus Pole for airing far too much UFO related programming. UFOs aren't historical in any way. Sorry, they're just not. Stick with being the All Hitler All the Time channel if you must, leave the UFO crap for Larry King.

Music, I wave my Festivus Pole in your general direction. Ironically, as we develop more ways to stream, purchase, and access our favorite music, current musical artist seem to be becoming more and more trivial. Music across all genres has become increasingly singles driven, and this mix and match, randomly generate playlist world we live in isn't the musical environment I grew up on. Seems like with the huge variety of choices now available, folks have narrowed rather than broadened how they consume their audio entertainment. Musicians are more known for their ability to attract celebrity press, than their music, I'm not blaming the Lady Gagas, Kanye Wests, Katy Perrys, or Lily Allens of the world for doing what they do, but it would be nice if musicality drove popularity in the music business.

LA Opera, don't think just cause you are high brow and unloved by the masses that you can avoid my Festivus Pole, cause you'd be wrong. Opera can work in Los Angeles, just not the way you've been doing it. We aren't NYC, don't pretend that we are, if opera is to work here, it needs to recognize that our cultural scene is a bit more laid back and eclectic. If I were running it, I'd do one big guest star driven classic per season, then the rest of the year, I'd do small challenging productions as inexpensively as possible. I'd float around the city, bring the operas where the folks are, don't expect to succeed based solely in Downtown.

LACMA, Renoir? Again?? Really???


Plenty of political events to swing ole Polly at (I named my Festivus Pole Polly, got a problem with that?). First up, Obama Administration, you get thwacked for not living up to the promise of being 'the most transparent administration, ever'. Not that I was ever stupid enough to believe this to be true, but a few whacks of the Pole also go out to you rubes out there who didn't immediately press the incoming Obama Administration on just how they intended to implement this vaunted new transparency. The press fawned over Obama, but that's partly because they assumed the public was also in a fawning mood. Still, it's impressive how far off the mark the Obama Administration has been, rather than transparency, they've challenged Nixon and Johnson for most opaque White Houses of the modern, post WWII era. Rather than transparency, we've gotten Chicago style politics writ large across the national stage. For that bit of stagecraft and legerdemain, I suppose they've earned a special anti-grievance for getting away with such an obvious and total betrayal of the principles they claimed helped put them in the White House, and for going as long as they have without having to face any real consequences for this betrayal.

The Press, I'd beat you into a bloody pulp (metaphorically speaking) with my Festivus Pole if I thought it would make a difference in how you'd act in the future. This past year has pulled away the curtain, and removed all pretense about an 'objective' press in the United States. In the long run, that's a good thing, if we end up with a few national papers modeled after the British press where the biases and prejudices of the editorial style of each outlet is nakedly apparent and readily acknowledged, I think consumers will be better served and informed. But we still have this ridiculous attempt at feigned impartiality by the likes of the broadcast networks news arms, NYT, Newsweek, and the rest, even while they campaign for every left wing cause that they can shove down the public's throat. The public has gagged on this, and rebelled by tuning them out, but the alternative channels for disseminating information are still dwarfed by the traditional media powerhouses (even as they diminish before our eyes).

GOP, don't think just cause you aren't in power that you can escape the awesome power of a fully operational Festivus Pole. The Grand Old Party has not taken advantage of the historic fall from grace currently being suffered by the Obama Administration and their Democratic Party allies in Congress. The GOP needs to offer a clear and concise alternative to big government liberalism, but their recent history of big government 'conservatism' creates a lack of credibility when attacking their opponents. What's needed is a recognition of lost opportunities during the Bush years, and total repudiation of 'government first' attitudes to politics. Embrace small government, small "l" libertarianism, and advocate for a return to true federalism, and you will see a wave of people disenchanted with the past year of politics come under the GOP tent.

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, I'm manufacturing a special coal fired, carbon spewing, Festivus Pole swinging robot to repeatedly thwack you about your collective noggins. My specific grievance with you goes along with Prof. Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds' frequent refrain, I'll believe it's a crisis, when those calling such, act like it. No reason why hundreds of world leaders, with thousands in support staff had to travel to meet face to face. There's this thing, it's called the internet, use it. Seems like this would have been the perfect event to organize as one massive teleconference, with everything streamed live to anyone interested in watching. That's just the tip of the (melting) iceberg, though. Beyond the profligate travel, there was the profligate posturing, the profligate use of limos (local supply couldn't meet demand, limos were driven in from hundreds of miles so that conferees wouldn't have to walk a few blocks from meeting to meeting), the profligate arrogance in avoiding even questions (let alone providing answers) regarding the recently revealed climate data related emails, and just the general 'let them eat cake'-ness of the whole event where all these people were meeting to make rules that will create burdens and costs on other people that they themselves never intend on bearing.


Tiger Woods, damn, man, my grievance isn't with the repeated and frequent dalliances, it's with the sloppiness, and also the general lack of imagination. You're one of the most famous and richest athletes in the history of the planet, seems like you could have done better, and managed your assignations more skillfully. Better yet, by choosing to marry and have kids, then realize you are also choosing to put away all that other stuff, either do the 'George Clooney' thing, don't have kids, and let your paramours know there's an expiration date on your interest, or commit to commitment honestly, and wholeheartedly. You messed up a lot of lives, and not just in your own home, lots of other athletes are finding increased scrutiny uncomfortable. No Tiger mess, no soon to debut TMZSports.com, and we all know nothing good can come out of that.

NFL 2009, you get the Pole, this season's been too unpredictable. Of course, had the season been too predictable, you'd also be getting the Pole, but the level of unpredictability this season seems off the chart, and damn annoying. From one week to the next you just don't know which team is good, and which isn't, and even the good teams you don't know if they are going to win by three TDs, or squeak out a last second field goal. Tennessee Titans are the poster child for this season, start with an awful 0-6, culminating in an absolute 59-0 massacre at the hands of New England. At that point, it's easy to dismiss the Titans, write them off, and not worry about them, but no, instead they turn things around, rattle off a 7-1 record over the next eight games, and threaten to be one of the scariest teams in the playoffs if they manage to sneak in. How are we supposed to make sense of a team like that as fans? And don't even get me started on the Raiders. They beat most of the good teams they face, and get thumped by the lousy ones. The AFC playoff picture, even with just two games left, is as muddled as ever, and you could make strong cases for any one of seven teams representing the NFC in the Superbowl with the clear vulnerabilities exhibited by New Orleans and Minnesota. The main problem, though, is that most games are decided by which team screws up least, rather than which team plays best. If a contest is close because both teams are excellent, then it's exciting, but if a contest comes down to the wire because one team only has four turnovers against the other team having seven, then it's an unwatchable mess. There have been a lot of messy games this season.

LA Lakers, don't think just cause you are the current NBA champs, and have the best record to this point in the 2009-10 season that you will be spared from Polly the Festivus Pole. Lakers, you get the silvery aluminum shaft for not winning every game so far this season. Y'all had nothing but home games to start (or at least 17 of the first 21), and should have shattered the old season starting mark of 15-0, but instead you let a few lackluster nights stand between you and the record books. That deserves a few thwacks from Polly.

Kobe's digits, I'll merely point the Pole in your direction, quit breaking on him, please.

USC Football, you deserve a thorough Poling for your performance this season. Key injuries slowed you down, but you still had the top talent in college football and should have been able to overcome losing a few players. You blew it, and performed down to your competition, again and again, and for that, you earned the Pole, and a lousy (non-Rose) Bowl.


Range Rovers, you get the Pole, first it was Cadillac (pre 70s), then in the 80s and 90s it was Volvo, but in the 00s, the grand prize for cars to be most likely driven by the worst drivers belongs to you Range Rover. So for making cars that appeal to people who can't drive, you get Festivusized.

Random People Passing on the Street Who Give Me the Stink Eye Just Cause They Happen to Be in a Shot I'm Framing, you get both the Festivus Pole, and the gratuitous capitalization treatment.

Battery technology, you get a grievance for not getting better faster. I want some sort of super battery, and I want it now. I'm tired of crap not working for as long as you'd like it too. Seems like everything lasts just about 85% as long as you'd ideally like. I'm not asking for massive improvements, just in the 15-20% range (along with quicker recharge times,).

Coffeehouse outlet campers, you suck (not really a grievance, just a statement).

Gratuitously naked old guys at the gym, I'd swing my Festivus Pole in your direction, but I'm afraid I might touch something gross, so just please, I know where all guys in the guys locker, and we shouldn't be ashamed of our bodies, but there's something to be said about showing a modicum of modesty.

Twitter, you get a quick grievance for your frequent outages. Work, consistently, dammit.

Sunsets, you get a grievance for always managing to be spectacular on the days when I can't get my camera out. Seriously, I've missed a half dozen spectacular sunsets this past month, and it's pissing me off. You can go back to being spectacular when my schedule fits having a camera available to record you, in the meantime, be dull.

Flickr and YouTube commentariat, you get a grievance, say something interesting, or don't say something at all. "Cool", or "Nice", isn't insightful, or particularly helpful, if you take the time to comment, take the time to type more than one word.

So, 2010 approaches, and Festivus 2009 will soon be a memory, though these grievances may linger.

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