The opening synthesizer riff of â€œWonderful Christmastime,â€ symbolic of the songâ€™s late-â€˜70s production era in the same way air raid sirens are symbolic of World War II, serves as kind of an early warning signal: â€œchange the station,â€ it calls out. â€œChange the station before Paul lets us know that â€˜the moon is right.â€™â€ And we do. Yet radio keeps playing it and shopping malls slather us in its goo as if doing so isnâ€™t just one more excuse to shop online.
It would be shocking, really, to consider that the guy who gave us â€œLive and Let Dieâ€ and â€œMaybe Iâ€™m Amazedâ€â€”and who was at least 25 percent of The Beatlesâ€”managed to scribble out, record, and actually release a song containing such lyrical damage as â€œThe choir of children sing their song / ding dong, ding dong / ding dong, ding / ohhhh / ohhhhhhh,â€ and the phrase â€œsimply having a wonderful Christmastimeâ€ repeated 75 times. Until, of course, you realize that Paul McCartney is the evil genius behind â€œLet â€˜Em Inâ€ and â€œSilly Love Songs.â€ He’s also the guy who stole Stevie Wonderâ€™s mojoâ€”an artistic assault with a deadly weapon from which the latter has yet to recover, three decades later.
Clearly, although Sir Paul is a Music Legend with a Ton of Talent, heâ€™s not infallible. â€œWonderful Christmastimeâ€ serves as an argument in favor of middle management, because someone expendable needs to be able to tell the cash cow, â€œNo.â€
I’ve decided there might be some entertainment value to be had in reviewing e-mails from spammers. We all get these 419 scams and promptly ignore them, right? RIGHT??? (Please contact me if you don’t ignore them and you actually think you’re going to get some money out of the deal. There might be some entertainment value in that as well.) So, without further ado, this is the text of an e-mail I received earlier today, broken down with my own comments:
It’s always important to open your scam letter with a friendly greeting. It makes a good impression and puts the recipient at ease. In this case, using a colon instead of the customary comma is symbolic of something the scammer plans to do to the recipient. Nice touch.
With a very desperate need for assistance,I have summoned up courage to contact you since i am presently in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion,29th Field Artillery Regiment,3/4 AAB and found your contact particulars in an Address journal.
How much courage does one summon to contact me??? This guy is in a combat unit for cryin’ out loud. I know I can be intimidating, but traditionally that only applies to iguanas and children under the age of four. A few more weeks of basic training might have done him a world of good. Read More
â€œOfficer, Iâ€™d like to report a theft.â€
â€œUh, huh. Name?â€
â€œ37 Schmuck Lane, Oak Lawn.â€
â€œAnd when did you first notice the theft?â€
â€œLast night, driving to White Castle.â€
â€œHad you been drinking or partying at the time?â€
â€œNever mind. Go on. What is it that was stolen?â€
â€œAn intersection. Several of them, in fact.â€
â€œAn intersection. You see, when two non-parallel roads are local to each other, there is a high likelihood that they might cross, andâ€¦â€
â€œI know what an intersection is. Iâ€™d like to know how someone can steal one.â€
â€œAll I know is, one day Iâ€™m driving convenient side streets to the quickie mart, the next day there are dead end signs all over the place, the intersection is blockaded, and I have to take Cicero Avenue to buy potato chips. As far as I can tell, it must be done under the cover of darkness. The thieving scum wouldnâ€™t dare show their faces in the light of day. So, what are you going to do about it?â€
â€œNothing? What about stakeouts? Dusting for prints? DNA matching? Surely there must be some technology you can use to track down the perps.â€
â€œI donâ€™t have to track down the perps. I know who did it.â€
â€œNot me personally. Actually, it was my brother-in-law, Frank.â€
â€œWhat is he, some kind of a nutcase?â€
â€œYeah, he works for the village.â€
â€œA likely story. Why would he do this?â€
â€œHe was told to.â€
â€œAh, yes. The Nuremberg defense. A classic. Why would someone tell him to do this?â€
â€œWell, gangs and terrorists.â€
â€œWhat does closing streets and making it hard to drive around my neighborhood have to do with gangs and terrorists?â€
â€œWe believe that, if itâ€™s harder for them to get around, our streets will be safer.â€
â€œWhat about making it harder for me to get around?â€
â€œWhat about it?â€
â€œDonâ€™t I get a say in whether or not I want to be safer?â€
â€œWhy wouldnâ€™t you want to be safer?â€
â€œWell, for one thing, Iâ€™ve lived in this town most of my life, and Iâ€™ve never seen a gang member or a terrorist in my neighborhood.â€
â€œHave you been specially trained to spot gang members and terrorists?â€
â€œThen how do you know you havenâ€™t seen them?â€
â€œYouâ€™re right, I donâ€™t. Have you been specially trained to spot gang members and terrorists?â€
â€œNo, but trust me, theyâ€™re out there.â€
â€œSure they are, but are they here?â€
â€œNot since we closed those intersections.â€
â€œBut anyone can walk right around the barriers.â€
â€œGang members and terrorists drive cars, sir. This is 2005.â€
â€œWhat prevents them from driving the roads that are still open? Or are you planning on closing every street in town?â€
â€œThey canâ€™t enter a neighborhood if they canâ€™t find the entrance.â€
â€œBut I canâ€™t find the entrance.â€
â€œThatâ€™s not my problem. Why donâ€™t you get a map?â€
â€œCanâ€™t the bad guys get maps?â€
â€œLook, this is obviously going nowhere. Is there someone I could talk to about closing the intersections?â€
â€œThe intersections have already been closed.â€
â€œOkay, is there someone I could talk to about reopening the intersections?â€
â€œYou could talk to your neighbors.â€
â€œWhat do they have to do with it?â€
â€œTheyâ€™re the ones who requested the intersections be closed.â€
â€œWhy would they do that?â€
â€œBecause theyâ€™re scared of gang members and terrorists.â€
â€œBut that makes no sense. What would any of those people do around here? This town isnâ€™t perfect, but thereâ€™s not much to steal or shoot or blow up. I suppose someone could terrorize me by spray painting my garage door, but then again, it might be an improvement.â€
â€œMaybe theyâ€™re looking to buy some real estate. Did you consider that?â€
â€œDo you really think evildoers might be thinking of buying in my neighborhood?â€
â€œAre you kidding? Who would want to live there? Itâ€™s a pain in the butt. None of the streets go through.â€
â€œWhat would you say if we lived in a world where people could drive their cars wherever they wanted?â€
â€œIâ€™d say the terrorists have already won.â€
The White Sox are going to the World Series. Yikes. At least it turns out that they arenâ€™t playing the heinous Cardinals, which to my Cubs-fan senses might not have exactly rated as hell on earth, but would have been an ample substitute until the real deal came along.
When I was a kid, the White Sox were Chicagoâ€™s team. Bill Veeck owned them at the time, and he spared neither effort nor goofy scheme to put a fan in every seat. He imported the popular St. Louis announcer Harry Caray to do play-by-play, and Comiskey Park (the blue-collar original, not the baseball mall that replaced it) was nightly filled with drunken south-siders watching their favorite team. The hapless Cubs were Chicagoâ€™s also-ransâ€“a bunch of perennial losers playing day baseball for bleacher bums on the north side. In fact, the original bleacher bums were pretty much just that: people with no jobs and lean prospects, who had nothing else to do during the day but buy a ticket in the cheap seats, drink beer, and watch the game.
Things changed in the eighties. Harry Caray was let go by the White Sox and drove across town to work his magic for the north-siders. WGN, which broadcast all the Cubs games, rode an exploding cable TV market to superstation success. Although they never made it to the World Series, winning seasons in 1984 and 1989 pushed everyoneâ€™s favorite underdog into the national spotlight. The Cubs became Chicagoâ€™s team, then Americaâ€™s team. Wrigley Field became a tourist destination for yuppies everywhere. White Sox fans mutated into cranky old men. Even the young ones. Even the women.
I am something of an anomalyâ€“a Cubs fan from the south side. The Cubsâ€™ popularity has made that more common than it once was, which compels me to state that my affection for the Cubs is not transient, but genetic. My dad was a Cubs fan. My grandfather was a Cubs fan. My childhood baseball mitt had Billy Williamsâ€™ name on it. In short, Iâ€™m one of the natives.
Growing up a Cubs fan on the south side meant getting odd stares. Nevertheless, I learned to make peace with the concept. I allowed the White Sox their existence, and formed no hatred of them. Occasionally, I even went to the games and cheered them on. Their fans were my friends, and though I preferred the National Leaguers, the White Sox were from Chicago and I had no intention of rooting against the local boys.
Iâ€™ve recently heard other Cubs fans express similar sentiments. Itâ€™s good that the White Sox are doing well, more power to â€˜em, support the Chicago team, rah rah rah.
Bunk. I used to feel that way, but no longer. Once, I could support or at least tolerate the White Sox, but Iâ€™ve heard too many insults from their fans to continue down that road. I have friends who laughed out loud at the Bartman incident. I know people who canâ€™t drive through Wrigleyville without some sort of snide comment. Iâ€™ve been hassled about yuppies, ivy, rooftops, 1969, and Todd Hundley. One too many times, Iâ€™ve heard Sox fans tell us Cub fans to take our neighborly show of support and stick it. Well, Iâ€™ve stuck it. Itâ€™s high time to either reign in the hatred or embrace it with zeal, and Iâ€™m looking for a hug. I hope the White Sox fail, miserably and spectacularly. I want them to break the hearts of every Sox fan who ever turned to me and said â€œSammy Sosa.â€ How I long to see Mayor Daley writhing in pain on the ground, wrinkled fingers grasping at the Comiskey Park home plate marker, tears welling in the cracks of the asphalt.
When it is all over, and the players have packed up their bats and balls and returned home to distant lands, I will find a Sox fanâ€“a lowly, pitiful, broken thing. I will offer him my shoulder. I will look at him with sympathy and deep understanding, pat him on the back, and say the following words: â€œWait till next year.â€