Quote of the day: "Show your confidence. Show you're not afraid. Go to restaurants. Go shopping." ~ Rudy Gulliani
Song of the day: "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (Cuz Some Schmuck Knocked Them Out In The TV Aisle)."
State of mind: A little ranty. Still.
Date: Nov. 30th, 2008
I'm really starting to hate this time of year. I used to love it. When I was a kid and didn't have to deal with the realities of the Christmas season it all seemed magical and fun: the lights that I didn't have to put up, the wrapped presents I didn't get paper cuts wrapping, the gifts I didn't wait in line 3 hours to buy, the food I didn't have to make... The most I had to do as a kid was 'behave' to rake in the goods.
As I got older and started paying attention to the world at large, I noticed a startling trend. People kind of suck, and the holidays do not mean what everyone pretends they mean. And I don't mean to sound like a Scrooge, but seriously. Come on! Doesn't the pressure to purchase the best gifts get to you a little more each year? Doesn't the constant news stories about the economy and whether or not shoppers are out there spending their dough and what that means for the future of our country put us all on the hot seat to buy buy buy? They (and I mean the 'experts' and the media that are interviewing them) make it seem like if we, the people, don't buy our loved ones gagets and gizmos that they don't really need then we don't love America. Shopping is our answer for everything and it seems that our numbers in the malls on Black Friday are the canary in the cave. (Putting all the responsibility on Main Street to keep America going.) And to keep that canary singing most chain store retailers have been slashing prices on everything to get us in the door. That last part I'm quite fond of actually. The cost for most things are just ridiculous. But it makes you wonder just how much of a mark up is on all of these high ticket items that are suddenly medium ticket items. If they can sell them for half the price now, why couldn't they before?
But the biggest deals are reserved for the day after Thanksgiving. That day it takes the truley dedicated shopper (or the ones that love America the most apparently) to be first in line to ensure the savings. And this year more is at stake seeing how our economy is circling the drain so if you want that big screen TV you better get it now. Isn't scarcity fun? So as in years past the mobs show up and wait in front of the glass doors for the store to open so they can run in and every year the local news agencies get camera men stationed just inside the doors so they can film for posterity what morons we can be and at what lengths we will go to for purses, video games, and too big TVs. And every year someone falls and gets trampled. (Or fights break out.) This year was no exception:
The Christmas shopping begins in earnest!
This time, instead of it being a shopper that was just too slow for the crowd, it was a Long Island Wal-mart worker that made the mistake of being on the other side of a closed door. The customers couldn't wait any longer so they tore the door down, killing him. For goods at Wal-mart. And the kicker is, after he had died and the police and ambulance were called to deal with his body and the injured- including one 28 year old pregnant woman- shoppers got pissed off because they closed the store due to his death. Merry Christmas! Good will towards men. Except, I guess, dead ones.
And in California, there was a shooting at a Toys R Us. A kids store. A KIDS STORE! Who brings a gun to shop for toys? Maybe if my mother had thought of that during the Cabbage Patch craze I'd have my very own adopted plastic doll right now. As it was, my sister and I saw those stories of mobs fighting for those dolls on the news and told my mother there was no way in hell we wanted one; not that she would have gone through all that to get us one any how. But the idea of my mother being in a mob and someone else shoving or hitting her for a doll even now makes my blood boil. The uselessness of it! It's not like these fights are breaking out for the last can of peas in a store with no food left or for life saving medication when more is unlikely to be on it's way anytime soon.
I know for a lot of people the season isn't just about the goodies under the tree or elbowing old ladies for that last sweater, but every year I hate this holiday just that much more because of the people for whom this is what the holiday means. Is this really who we are?
And how hard is it for those retail stores that set up the scarcity sales to get a grip on the crowds they know will show up? The only time I ever got up in the dead of night to go shopping for a present was at a ski shop to get snowboarding boots for this guy I was dating at the time. Every year this store would have a midnight sale, but unlike Wal-mark, K-mart, or most malls, instead of everyone mobbing the door to get in, the store asked everyone to line up, which had the additional bonus of the first person to have arrived actually being the first person in the door. What a concept! And they would only allow a certain number of people in at a time and only after most of those folks had made their purchases and gotten in line to pay would the next set of 20 or 30 be let in. With this completely logical system everyone could find what they were looking for without having to resort to gunplay and the people working could actually help customers rather than get trampled by them. I did spend about an hour outside waiting to get in, but once inside I was able to get to the boots, find a sales person who got me the right size, and get out of there without injury or frustration. Why aren't the discount stores enacting similar policies? Just how many shoppers or minimum wage employees have to die before everyone realizes that the crap in those stores isn't worth it?
In truth, I am not anti-gift giving. I love shopping for other people. (Which is odd since I hate shopping for myself.) But I have a few rules for holiday shopping:
1) If I start to get frustrated or it becomes not fun anymore to be shopping, I go home.
Ok. I only have that one rule.
That's it. I will not fight someone for the last Elmo. I will not shop if I'm in a bad mood. If you aren't smiling on the inside when you hand over your cash for whatever it is you are getting, is it really a gift?
This year I'm going to be doing any shopping I have online or at local stores owned by local folks and avoid the malls, mobs, and hopefully retail related death. I try to be creative with what I purchase. Pay attention to what someone needs or wants and wouldn't get for themselves. Some times I try and be practical and get a gift that has a purpose and fills a need in someones' life. Like after my father's hearing started to go, I got him a set of cordelss headphones to hook up to his TV so he could turn it up as loud as he wanted without annoying my mother (or the neighborhood). So, really, that one was a gift for everyone. And I'll try and bring to you links to other online sites that have unique gifts that can't be found at the malls and a few that can help us all to do good during the holidays for others as well as our friends and families.
BTW, I have already found two good items that can only be purchased online. That's right! Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is now ready for pre-order on DVD and will be ready on December 19th. This is the one. Tell your friends. Also, The Write Enviroment has a DVD interview with Joss Wheadon that is available for purchase right now. They have other DVD interviews with other writers, including Heroes creator Tim Kring, but whatever. ;) Buy early, buy often. And skip the retail related death yourselves.
ETA: Found this in the NYTimes Online: The Media Equation in Black Friday. And BTW, as far as I recall, every year someone gets hurt and a lot of the time they end up dead due to Black Friday sale rushes, so the economy isn't the one thing that is to blame for this tragedy.
Show quote of the day: "What do you get off brow-beating a hooker? Jesus was nice to prostitutes."
I was tagged by JennyLu to find the fourth picture in my photo album, post it, and write something about it. I have multiple albums so this is the fourth picture in the fourth folder:
This is the hotel room I stayed in when I was in NYC for the Tribecca Film Festival this past April. I love this room. I want to live in this room. I was on the 38th floor and had my own balcony and I'm pretty sure I was given that room by mistake because I didn't reserve a suite when I booked online.
But they had no room service.