Tag Archives: Christmas

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Other Potentially Offensive Classics

Once again those with time on their hands and nothing better to do have found a reason to be offended.  The latest episode from the “I am miserable – let’s make everyone else miserable as well” crew has them at odds with Frank Loesser’s 1944 flirtatious, call and response song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”  In the era of MeToo where any flirtation is a dangerous game, such offense can be expected, but pulling classic standards people have innocently enjoyed for over seventy years into the debate is a stretch at best.  Now before someone gets their panties in a wad and wants to hang me by my thumbs for being insensitive, please listen close.  No one is saying MeToo is without merit – of course, it has merit, and power to those women who stand up to being victimized and manipulated, but when a simple playful tune is depicted as a vicious “date rape” song, the movement may be reaching a bit too far.

Granted, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” may be offensive to some people, and if so, in a nation of free citizens, it is their individual right and responsibility to turn the channel on the radio or television or boycott what offends them.  However, there is no reason for them to assume it is my problem as well?   Personally, I see the song as a silly, fun little song written to instill a happy warm feeling and memories of youthful playful banter.  Any interpretation beyond that is going to extremes.  Unfortunately, in our society, finding offense with any and everything has become common practice, and there appears to be little relief in sight for the foreseeable future.  The day will come when other classics such as The Grinch, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” will come under scrutiny and face removal from radio and television for being offensive to someone.  After all, America’s new creed is “If I am offended, you should be offended as well.”

Other Potentially Offensive Classics:

The Grinch:

A delightful story of a mean-spirited green creature who finds the joy of Christmas.  Unfortunately, in our society there are those who might see a darker side.  The offended are likely to see a despicable green creature who has his creepy eye on an innocent little Who child along with numerous other wicked transgressions.  An ASPCA NIGHTMARE, the green goon ties his poor little dog to a mountainous sled and uses a whip to force him to pull the sled to the top of a mountain.  The sinister Grinch also humiliates the poor little dog by tying a reindeer antler on his head.  AND, if that is not enough to rattle offensive genes, he is a glorified villain who impersonates Santa Claus and steals Christmas!   Oh my!  The offensive horror of it all!

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer:

This is a cute, fun, tongue in cheek Christmas novelty song.  However, you can bet your eggnog, this song is on someone’s offended radar!  There is no way a song about an elderly lady whose family spikes her eggnog, lets her stagger home drunk through the snow alone, and does not bother to check on her until the next morning isn’t on someone’s offended list!  Did the family care she had “Claus marks” on her neck, or were they in on the dirty deed with Santa?  If that isn’t enough to get the offended juices flowing, Grandpa should really ring someone’s bell!  Instead of mourning poor Grandma, Grandpa chugs beer, gambles, and watches football on television.  If that is not enough dysfunction in one family to set the offended meter squawking, how about the part where the songwriter suggests Santa shouldn’t play with elves?  That is blatant discrimination against little and short people!  The “League against the Belittlement of Elves, Dwarfs, Fairies, and Short People” (LBEDFSP) are overdue to jump all over this offensive gem!

AND, let us not forget the most offensive child’s story of all time . . . .

 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:

This Disney fairytale tells the story of good (Snow White) triumphing over evil (the wicked queen).  However, this is exactly the kind of story those who carry the offended torch love to assassinate.  If a classic song such as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” wobbles touchy-feely orbs, then the story of Snow White has got to be on an offended list somewhere.  A young girl living in the same house and sleeping in the same room with seven little men must have someone’s “let’s find something to be stupid about” radar spinning.  After all, the dwarfs are sexists and guilty of slave labor; Snow White cleans their house and mends their clothes.  How can anyone argue a story about a young girl living in sin with seven men (little or otherwise), gets drugged, and wakes up to find her prince charming is anything but a sexist date rape story!  How can anyone not be offended by Disney?  God save America from such perversion!

All this might make a person want to swear off eggnog and join a convent, but as for me, I say, “Dang!  BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!”

JL

©Jack Linton, December 15, 2018

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My Top Five Christmas Movies

This Christmas season, I have watched a top twelve Christmas movie list on television, and read at least two other Christmas movie lists online.  There are probably a hundred or more Christmas movies to choose from when making such a list, but if you look closely, most of the lists contain the same twenty to twenty-five movies.  Usually, the only difference between list A, B, or C is how those 20+ movies are ranked.  However, my Christmas movie list is different in two ways: (1) it only lists the top five Christmas movies of all time, and (2) it is based entirely on my preferences and opinion.  If you agree with my top five movies, fantastic, and if not, it’s too cold to go jump in a lake, so instead, go watch your favorite movies and forget mine.  Here are my top five movies beginning with number five:

#5        How the Grinch Stole Christmas:

The story is about a green creepy/goofy looking monster who hates everybody including himself.  He sets out to steal Whoville’s Christmas, thinking by doing so, he will take their joy from them.  Of course, he is wrong.  His only salvation is Cindy Lou Who, who manages to thaw his cold heart and bring happiness to his dismal life.  As a child, I enjoyed the thirty-minute animated television special that aired at Christmas every year, but when Jim Carrey brought the Grinch to life on the big screen, I was amazed all over again.  The movie version with its occasional naughty innuendoes was made as much for adults as kids, and it succeeded on both fronts.  Jim Carrey’s over-the-top performance was fun to watch, and the visuals were stunning.  Simply put, the movie looked, acted, and felt like a holiday classic.  It did not disappoint.

#4        Elf:

I am not a big Will Ferrell fan, but his role as Buddy in Elf was exceptional.  I am not saying exceptional in an Academy Award sense, but extraordinarily fun and entertaining for kids and adults alike.   As a human raised by elves at the North Pole, the role of Buddy fit Ferrell like a glove.  His trademark off-the-cuff antics, which are sometimes hilarious, but often just miss the mark, were perfect for his role as a lovable human-elf in search of his identity.  His innocent childlike behavior in a world of Christmas commercialization was funny, charming, and magical.  Elf is a holiday classic that should be on everyone’s watch list.

#3        A Christmas Story:

One of my all-time favorite holiday movies is A Christmas Story!  The story, set in the 1940’s, centers around Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.  Throughout the story, everyone he turns to for help to get the gun, even Santa Claus, tells him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  Based on a story by Jean Shepherd, the movie is a trip back in time before X-box, PlayStation, Star Wars, and cell phones.  It was a time when kids played outside, and watched Westerns on television where the good guys and buy guys fought for supremacy with six-guns and lever-action rifles instead of laser swords.  In A Christmas Story, Ralphie faces school bullies, learns the horrible truth about secret decoder rings, has his mouth washed out with soap for saying bad words he learned from his father, and through it all, never loses sight of his perfect Christmas gift.  This movie is a slice of life from a bygone era, but it contains everything that makes Christmas special – family, memories, and the spirit of being served Chinese duck for Christmas dinner.  The kids may not fully appreciate the significance of playing outside or getting “double dog dared,” but this is a Christmas movie the whole family should watch together.

#2        The Polar Express:

The number two movie on my Christmas Holiday list, The Polar Express, certainly deserves the honor.  The movie stars Tom Hanks and is filmed in “performance-action animation,” which results in a breathtaking movie spectacle.  Hanks and the visual beauty of the film are reasons enough to see it, but I simply love the story!  The story is about a young boy who is beginning to doubt there is a Santa Claus, and on Christmas Eve catches a mysterious train, The Polar Express, to the North Pole.  On the train, he meets other children like him, a sometimes-cranky conductor (Tom Hanks, who also plays several other roles in the movie), and a hobo.  One of the most visually impressive scenes in the movie (there are many) is the singing waiters.  The first time I saw the movie at home, I stopped the video at least three times to watch that scene again and again; it is simply amazing.  Although Santa Claus appears in the movie, the movie is not about Santa.  The Polar Express is about bravery, friendship, and the spirit of Christmas!  It is a classic that should be shared yearly as a family tradition.

#1        It’s a Wonderful Life:

The Christmas movie that tops almost everyone’s list is It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.  It is the perfect Christmas masterpiece for the holidays.  The story is about an ambitious young man who sacrifices his dreams to ensure the dreams of others.  Continually hounded by miserly Mr. Potter, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) fights for the right of his neighbors to live a good life, and not struggle in the squalor of Potter’s tenant houses.  Unfortunately, life does not always treat even the best people fairly, and after a disastrous incident, George wishes he had never been born.  With the help of a guardian angel, George learns how his life has impacted the lives of people he loves, and they are not complete without him nor is he complete without them.  It’s a Wonderful Life has sacrifice, redemption, salvation, friendship, angels, and triumph over evil.  It is the root for the good guy, boo the bad guy, feel good movie of all time regardless of the season in which it is watched.  It is the movie that shows us how to get our wings.  It’s a Wonderful life is the epitome of the Christmas spirit; therefore, it is my number one Christmas movie of all time!

Whether you have a Christmas list of your own, or use one someone else has put together, the bottom line is grab someone you love or want to make friends with, and pop your favorite Christmas movie in the DVD and share the Christmas spirit.  I double dog dare you!

Merry Christmas,

JL

©Jack Linton, December 22, 2017

Santa’s Grossest Christmas List:  Real Toys My Grandkids Want

When my grandkids handed me their Christmas lists, I was shocked!  Each list is filled with gross and obnoxious toys.  I am not lying – boogers and pooh headline their Christmas Lists.  I have grown to expect inherited poor taste from the boys, but this year, the girls are just as bad.  I am not a prude or stick-in-the-mud when it comes to gross; I enjoy a good juicy fart joke book or as a boy, shooting dripping spit balls and other bits and pieces of grossness with a rubber band.  To me, the whole toy poopoo fad is funny and highly reflective of our society, but when my granddaughters ask for “turd launchers” and dolls that poo their pants for Christmas, that surpasses even my tolerance for gross.  Why are kids so fascinated with toys devoted to body excretions?  Do parents and grandparents buy their children and grandchildren such disgusting toys?  Of course, we do, or the store shelves would not be stacked to the ceiling with such disgusting games and stuffed caricatures.

When my kids were growing up, my wife often chastised me for sharing what I considered to be a high quality dirty diaper or tasteful fart joke with my boys.  My daughter, like her mama, was too classy to dabble in the sewer, but even she would sometimes cringe and laugh with us.  Other than the boys absorbing my weird sense of humor, no harm that I am aware of was done.  Heck, the uncouth things I subjected my kids to were tame compared to the crudeness of toys today.  My best gross-outs pale in comparison to the toys found on Amazon.com or on Walmart toy shelves.

Apparently, there is a race among toy makers for the “Gross-out” title.  There are toys galore that feature snot, boogers, farting, peeing, and even pooping!  What is the deal with the obsession with crap?  I am not talking about cheap, poorly made, waste of money toys although most of these toys certainly are, I am referring to toys that look and feel like real crap, number two, poo, poop, feces, manure, cow-pies, dung, and doo-doo.  Who would have ever thought a “sack of poopoo” would have a major niche in the toy market?  Take a stroll down the toy aisle in Walmart, Toys “R” Us, or shop for toys on Amazon.com, and you will be greeted by dolls that not only pee, but poop; giant noses with finger picking boogers; stuffed pigs that fart; and dogs that  poo and come with pooper scooper accessories.  I am not completely naïve; I fully understand boys twelve and under have always been fascinated with anything gross, but when did sweet little girls take up that banner?  I can’t imagine why anyone, parents, grandparents, or toy makers, would want to teach our sweet little darlings that cleaning poop is fun!

There are those who claim lifelike dolls with life functions teach children to be responsible caring adults and parents.  According to their reasoning, such toys provide children with life experiences.  That is all well and good, but some life experiences are better left for later in life.  Maybe, it’s my weak stomach, but in my opinion, cleaning poop from a baby’s bottom is one of those life experiences we can spare nine and ten-year-old girls without fear of psychological scarring.  I don’t think I am wrong when I say cleaning a dirty diaper is a shitty experience regardless how devoted and loving you are as a parent.  While I don’t totally disagree with the responsibility angle, for me, a pooping doll is like putting anatomically correct parts on Ken and Barbie.  Ken doesn’t need a penis, nor does Barbie need a vagina for boys and girls to pretend they are boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife.  Why teach children love is dependent on physical grappling?  Likewise, why teach children cleaning poop is one of the pleasures of parenthood?  The imagination is a wonderful place for boys and girls to dwell, so why destroy it with too much realism?

With many of the toys on the shelf this Christmas, there is a thin line between being an educational toy and a toy simply geared to rectal sensationalism.   The grosser the toy the more popular!  If it hangs from the nose or pops out the bottom, it is fun stuff.  Unfortunately, gross appears to have no boundaries.  There are also poo shaped and colored pillows for those who have always had a hankering to cuddle next to or lay their heads on an incredibly plush fiber or down filled turd.  What will they come up with next?  Poo shaped highway signage?

I don’t know where this trend goes from here, but I am sure, the grosser it gets, the better kids will like it.  But, as a grandparent, that is not my problem.  It is not grandpa and grandma’s responsibility to dig the grandkids out of the gutter; that’s mom and dad’s job.  A grandparent’s job is to spoil them rotten, which includes buying them all the slime, guts, and rubber poo they think they need.  Therefore, this Christmas, I plan to visit Amazon.com, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart, and buy the grossest games and toys I can find for my grandkids.  I don’t care about the life experience the game provides, or if it has educational value, as long as it makes them laugh.  I might not get grandparent of the year, but hearing them laugh is all the reward I need.  Laughter is what childhood is all about even if it takes a little plastic fecal matter and nasal slime to help it happen.

So, for those adults who have a touch of a child in their heart, a spark of the rebel in their soul, and love to hear children laugh, I invite you to look at my grandkids’ Christmas list.  It might not be wholesome; it may even be the grossest Christmas list ever compiled by kids, but if a doll with a greasy runny diaper will get me a hug and laughter for Christmas, you can bet a roll of toilet paper, I am all in!  There is little doubt, the toys on the list will bring smiles and laughter to the little ones, but I would not be surprised if those toys, as gross as they are, tickle the kid in adults as well.  Even the clogged hearts of constipated Grinches and Scrooges stand to be softened by the sight of a stuffed turd ornament on a Christmas tree; after all, it seems miracles come in brown this year.

Merry Christmas, and happy shopping!  Remember, the grossest thing of all is a world, especially a Christmas, without laughter.

Santa’s Grossest Christmas List

The perfect Christmas gift list for kids and adults who love to laugh.

Doggie Doo                Best Price:      $25.89 at Amazon.com

The perfect game to train your kids to clean up after the family dog that you can’t house-break!

 Who Tooted               Best Price:      $29.99 at Amazon.com

Great practice for those long family trips in the car!

Gooey Louie              Best Price:       $19.59 at Amazon.com

This game is the perfect consolation for those people who were disappointed to discover the History Channel’s “American Pickers” was not about booger harvesting.

Poopyhead                 Best Price:      $16.95 at Amazon.com

As in real life, everyone gets crapped on, but the winner is the one who gets pooped on the least.

Gas Out                      Best Price:      $10.49 at Amazon.com

Fast action farting fun!  The perfect tooting game without the smell.

Lalaloopsy Babies Diaper Surprise             Best Price:      $149.99 at Amazon.com

There are probably much cheaper ways to play with pooping babies, but for those folks who go to sleep at night dreaming of finding surprises in dirty diapers, this doll is a sure bet to tickle their fancy.

Baby Alive Super Snacks Snackin Sara     Best Price:      $49.99 at Amazon.com

This baby poops in her diaper after she is fed!  Just like a real baby the cycle never ends – feed and poop and clean mess, feed and poop and clean mess, feed and poop and clean mess.  What fun!

PooPen                       Best Price:      $4.68 at Amazon.com

Adds new meaning to crappy writing.

The Farting Animal Coloring Activity Book       Best Price:    $5.95 at Amazon.com

Kids learn all things toot even fuzzy kittens and mom!

Farting Santa            Best Price:      $14.99 at Amazon.com

This little guy is in my personal collection!  Pull his finger and it is easy to see how Santa is propelled up a chimney.

Poop Christmas Tree Hanging Ornament          Best Price:     $11.95 at Amazon.com

A smiling pile of poo for your Christmas tree!  Nothing says Christmas like a poo ornament on your tree.

Happy shopping!  This Christmas brown is the new green.

Merry Christmas!

JL

©Jack Linton, December 9, 2017

Growing Up!  The Worst Thing about Grandkids

When it comes to dealing with our grandkids, my wife and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  She is all about supporting rules and parameters set by their parents while I tend to give them whatever they want and let the parents deal with the fallout when they get home.  The one thing we agree on is you have never experienced perfection until you become a grandparent.  For a grandmother, there will never be a more handsome or better mannered young man than her grandson, and for a grandfather, a granddaughter is the perfect confirmation of heaven and angels.  Unfortunately, grandkids are not all perfection.  They have issues, such as growing up, that can make grandparenting extremely difficult.

It is not fair, but like puppies, grandchildren grow up.  Growing up does not diminish a grandparent’s love for a grandchild, but it does wreak havoc on the number and quality of hugs and kisses a grandparent receives.  As grandkids grow older, they start needing more personal space, which grandparents do not always understand.  They sometimes take it personal, but a sixteen-year-old is simply repulsed by old slobbery lips.  That a teenager would rather be with his/her friends than eating cookies with grandma and listening to grandpa talk about milking cows is a no brainer.  The older they get the more independent and less slobber absorbing they become.  Grandma and grandpa are no longer super heroes with a bottomless cookie jar or inspiring stories of flying with Peter Pan and joining the Foreign Legion as a boy.  As they grow, a child’s universe expands, which means grandparents are often relegated to playing second fiddle to sports, dance, movies with friends, slumber parties, church, and school events.  Even on the increasingly rare occasions the grandkids visit, grandparents find themselves sharing time with Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and text messages that are as continuous as the waves at the beach.  It is a sad fact, but the older the grandkids get the less grandparents see them.  There should be a law that says grandchildren between the ages of birth and eighty must call or visit their grandparents at least once a week.

Another problem with growing up is it becomes harder and harder for grandparents to spoil their grandkids.  Let’s be real, the only purpose in life for grandparents is to pander to the whims and fancies of their grandkids.  Take that away from them, and all that is left are old folks living for the sake of senior discounts, bingo, keno machines, and eating the buffet at Shoneys.  The only thing that keeps grandparents kicking and off the respirator is pampering their grandkids.  Functional grandparenting is just that simple.  However, spoiling grandkids as they grow older is anything but simple.  When they were little, a piece of candy, a cookie, a quarter maybe a dollar, or a bottle of green slime found on sale at Walmart were all that was needed to keep their attention.  However, as they grow into teenhood, attention decreases in direct correlation to the tightness of their jeans!  The tighter they wear their jeans the harder it is for them to focus and the more expensive the toy or bribe it takes for them to show grandma and grandpa the time of day.  I don’t know why; maybe, tight jeans restrict oxygen to the brain. 

One of the most traumatic issues grandparents deal with as the grandkids grow older is the fear they’ll take art lessons.  Imagine grandma’s refrigerator void of hearts cut from construction paper with squiggly “I love Mawmaw” and “Pappaw is the best” scrawled across them.  Think of her refrigerator without pictures of stick people holding hands in front of a red house with a purple sky.  Grandma’s refrigerator without grandkid art would be like a colorless rainbow; it would not make sense.  However, that is what happens when the grandkids grow older and take art lessons.  Their art becomes refined and more intricate, which is wonderful, but it comes at a cost; it loses its innocence.  It is like replacing the Lascaux cave drawings in France with the latest decorator wall paper.  There is joy in the new, but there will always be that nagging sense of loss.  For grandparents, that equates to their fear of being painted out of the picture.

A child’s first Christmas toy is a grandparent; they’re lovable, huggable, and easy to manipulate.  That is the way it should be, and the way grandparents want it to be, always.  Grandkids are grandparents’ second chance to get it right, and grandparents will face off against the world to make sure nothing messes up that chance – not even growing up.  Honestly though, grandparents take great joy in watching their grandkids grow up, but at the same time it reminds them that, like their children, growing up means moving on, and that is not easy for old codgers who have moved as far as they care to go.  Therefore, my wife and I have but one thing to say to our grandchildren – come see us as often as you can and bring a hug.  Don’t worry about squeezing too hard; grandparents don’t break easily unless left alone.   

JL

©Jack Linton, March 7, 2017

Everyone Needs a Little Christmas Magic

Christmas is a time for celebrating family and friends and extending fellowship to all.  It is a time for worship and remembering the sacrifice God made to send his son into the world.  Also, it is a time for reflection on the past year, and boy do we have a year to reflect on!  Beginning with an election campaign filled with calls for disengaging from our love affair with wealth and embracing leveling the playing field for the poor, it is a year to look back on and examine our values.  It was a year that gave support to an isolationist mentality as frustrations grew out of the uncertain impact illegal immigrants had on the economy and rising concern and fears over instability and terrorism in the Middle East.  Sometimes seemingly focused on the disenfranchisement of diversity in America, 2016 was divided by conservative versus liberal, Democrat versus Republican, Christians versus LGBT, and black versus white.  Highlighted by a Presidential election like no other in history, the year gave us reason to question our decency, sense of justice, and even our humanity.  2016 gave us a lot to reflect upon, but unless that reflection leads to lessons learned, it will be just another year to count as a year older, but no wiser.

Hopefully, during this Christmas season, we can slow down enough to realize that in spite of all our problems and differences, we nevertheless work, play, and live in the greatest nation on earth.  We are one people under one flag under God, and regardless of individual stands as conservative, liberal, Democrat, Republican, Christian, LGBT, black, or white, we are one brotherhood sharing the gift of being Americans.  As a Christian nation, we must reflect on our views of the poor, those standing at our door, and the diversity of our brothers.  We must ask ourselves if as Christians we reflect and uphold the views of Christ, who was born poor and never held a job other than as an itinerant preacher, was an immigrant taken by his earthly parents to a foreign land to escape the murderous intentions of Herod, and who as a man of God embraced lepers, prostitutes, and Samaritans.

In 2016, Americans cast enough righteous stones at one another to destroy a lesser nation.  Instead of respecting differences, “I am right; you are wrong” became a recurring battle cry across the nation.  No one was interested in hearing what anyone had to say; Americans only wanted to be heard.  That failure to communicate is still very much alive, but hopefully, the Christmas season will slow things down a bit and allow time to reflect on how we might once again learn to respectfully listen to each.  To do that, we must stop seeing and judging our fellow man as we would have him be and accept each other as who we are.  We must remember during this special season that Jesus was born into the world not to judge us, but to save us, and in turn, to save America, we must stop judging one another.

Hopefully the magic of Christmas will wrap itself around each of us during this Christmas season, and point to a much higher road in 2017 than we traveled in 2016.  If we cross our fingers, wish upon a star, and pray anything is possible.  Until then, I hope this Christmas fulfills all your dreams and brings peace, love, and joy into your life.  This is the time of year everyone needs a little Christmas magic, and I pray you find yours.  Merry Christmas, and God bless us all!

JL

©Jack Linton, December 18, 2016

 

A Crappy Christmas Tradition

my-kind-of-wnekeo

Reading is extremely important in my family, but not just any reading.  I am talking about engaging in scholarly, mind bending, and soul inspiring literature that stiffens the backbone and jolts emotions into overdrive.  I am talking about a passion that has given birth to a family Christmas tradition.  A tradition, so indoctrinated into the lives of my two sons that Christmas would not be the same without it.  Every Christmas for years I have presented each of my sons a special book that I often spent minutes picking out at a local book store.  Seeing the anticipation and excitement in their eyes and the misty jealousy in the eyes of their spouses on Christmas mornings is a highlight of Christmas for me.  Sharing in their love of reading, if only for the brief moment it takes them to unwrap their special book and lay it aside, is simply invigorating.  It brings so much joy that this past Christmas I included my oldest grandson in the tradition and gave him his first special book.  Like his uncles, I thought he coped extremely well.

There is only one book that can command such attention and devotion.  Only one book is tantalizing and fascinating enough to inspire a family tradition, yet it is seldom found in libraries or on home bookshelves.  It is a book that is most often found with dog-eared pages and stained covers lying at the foot of the thrones of kings.  Actually, a series of books with over 15,000,000 copies in print, it is a mainstay in homes across America where it holds a place of prominence in America’s number one conservative and liberal “think tank.”  Of course, I am talking about the one and only Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.

With over thirty titles and counting in print, these books are filled with a perpetual cesspool of titillating facts, humor, and trivia that only true connoisseurs of knowledge can appreciate.  These books are conservative America’s answer to such classics as The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice.  Instead of feeling like crap muddling through and trying to stay awake reading such classics, readers of the Uncle John books can engage in flitter flatter of the brain while anointing the throne.  Unlike the classics that so often beckon with the glow of a flashlight with dying batteries, Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers come at you with the blinding splendor of a lighthouse on steroids.  The books are glaringly void of substance, yet thick and wickedly subtle in wit, and although, they may range from thought provoking (it happens) to pure crap (no pun intended), they are rarely boring, so get out of the way Fitzgerald and Austen.

For the discerning reader with a savory appetite for Americana, “The Bathroom Reader” is the ultimate escape.  Indulging in it brings a sense of WOW and clarity into the normal everyday drudgery of life.  You never know what awaits you in an Uncle John’s book.  As a Christmas tradition, it might appear weird or outrageous, but what other tradition can evoke such Yuletide excitement from the kids as, “Really?  Again, this year?;”  “Dad, why?;” “But, Dad, you gave me a paperweight last year!;” or “Thank you, thank you, thank you!  This is the one I needed to finish the ottoman at the foot of the toilet.”  Giving such a thoughtful gift brings a warm satisfied feeling, but the knowledge that I am giving my sons and grandson (I guess my daughter and granddaughters could be included if they also had problematic taste) something they can treasure for a lifetime is the ultimate holiday thrill.  It is truly a tradition that brings tears to the eyes of loved ones.

However, there are some who may doubt the worthiness of a Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader as a Christmas tradition, but such doubts will be put to rest once they view the sample slices of bathroom wisdom in the following chart.  I am confident these gems will encourage others to start their own Uncle John’s Christmas tradition; it’s not half as crappy as it sounds.  Ask my sons and grandson!  The books have so many uses; for example, they make great pee-pee stools for the little boys in the family!

Slices from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader served with My Thoughts:

1.     Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader:   In 2012, John Hopkins University published a report that said hydrogen sulfide, the gas that gives farts a rotten egg smell, had been shown to reduce high blood pressure in mice.  The report suggested that someday the gas might be used to lower high blood pressure in humans.  The biggest question the researchers had was whether the act of farting or sniffing the fart lowered blood pressure.

My Thoughts:  I wonder if they are still looking for human gas dispensers and sniffers.  Finding sniffers may prove difficult, but I have a couple of grandkids that are natural shooters with unlimited natural resources.

2.     Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader:  The Japanese say they can extract an exact chemical copy of natural vanilla from cow poo.  They plan to use the cow poo vanilla in products such as shampoo.

My Thoughts:   That would certainly give a new meaning to a crappy hair day.

3.     Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader:  Ancient Egyptians used a spermicide made from crocodile poo and honey for birth control.

My Thoughts:   I don’t know if the practice had much impact on births, but I bet the mortality rate of crocodile poo collectors was high enough to stabilize the population.

4.     Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader:  Sweet Maria, a coffee roaster, markets a coffee processed from the poo of the Brazilian Jacu bird.  The bird eats coffee beans and passes them whole in its poo.  The bean is extracted from the poo, which when roasted and brewed removes the bitterness from the coffee.

My Thoughts:  I am not a coffee drinker nor can I say if being extracted from Jacu bird poo actually makes coffee less bitter, but maybe it does explain that gosh awful coffee breath.

5.     Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader:  Plant-based foods produce the most flatulence but not the smelliest farts.  Animal-based foods, particularly eggs and meat, are rich in Sulphur; therefore, those foods produce stinkier farts.   Fructose (sugar that naturally occurs in fruit) is a fart-producer, as are compounds found in cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and, of course, beans.

My Thoughts:  All mamas and wives need to remember this the next time they force the kids to eat their broccoli or insist their husbands order the steamed vegetables with their steak.

P.S.   To my sons: Look through your inventories of Uncle John books, and send me a list of the titles you have, so I don’t get you a book you already have for Christmas.  I wouldn’t want to spoil our Christmas tradition.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 20, 2016

Let the Craziness Begin

Recently I read an article about the steps some schools take to ensure students do well on state standardized tests. Most of the steps mentioned sounded reasonable such as reminding parents to be sure to send their children to bed early the night before the test and staging academic pep rallies to motivate students to do their best on the tests. However, some of the measures came across as a bit extreme such as not allowing restroom toilets to be flushed during testing. As a former high school principal and district test coordinator, I can understand the reasoning behind such an extreme measure though I find it overkill even for my taste. But, I can’t blame a principal for considering going to such extremes, especially when so much is riding on state tests. Student performance on the tests impacts school ratings and rankings as well as job security for the principal and teachers. It would take a very foolish principal not to engage in strategies that might help students be successful on state tests even if those strategies might be a bit extreme.

During my years as a high school principal, I also put in place various testing strategies, but after looking back over the strategies I used, talking to current school principals, and doing some research, I discovered I was not as innovative as I thought. Today’s principals may not be “rocket scientists,” but when it comes to test strategy innovations they certainly rock! I would be hard pressed to keep up with some of the innovative thinking used by the men and women leading schools today, so I started asking myself what I would do differently if I was a principal preparing my school for testing in 2015. As a result, I developed a list of strategies organized as Pre-Test Day Strategies, Test Day Strategies, and Post Day Strategies. Through my experience as a principal and district test coordinator, research into testing strategies, and discussions with other principals, I am convinced these strategies if followed have the potential to guarantee that all students pass the state test.

Pre-Test Day Strategies:

  1. JANUARY: Pump classical music into all classrooms, hallways, cafeteria, field house, gym and everywhere students may gather. Classical music has been shown to reduce anxiety and tension associated with stress;
  2. JANUARY: Rearrange student schedules so they meet in a different classroom every day. According to the research, movement forces the brain to form new associations with the same materials and results in creating a stronger memory. Studying the same stuff in a different place every day makes forgetting information less likely;
  3. JANUARY: Hypnotize all students! Beginning with the second Monday in January, schedule hypnosis sessions for all students who will be tested. Through hypnosis the conscious and subconscious mind work closer together; this makes it possible to retain information faster than normal. If the hypnosis does not work, all students will be taught the power of positive affirmation. Repeat after me, “I am a beast. I am a testing beast. I am a focused testing beast. My mind is clear of everything but the test. I have the power within me to will myself to victory over this test.” Everyone knows the only thing that trumps preparation is believing you can do it;
  4. FEBRUARY: Proper diet is important to learning, and fish heads are highly regarded worldwide as a brain food. Therefore, mandate the school cafeteria serve at least one daily serving of fish heads at breakfast and/or lunch beginning in February. For students with weak stomachs, fish oil capsules can be substituted;
  5. MARCH: Teachers cannot introduce any new material after spring break. Of course, since the focus switches from learning to testing in January, this will have already happened in most classes;
  6. APRIL: Hold an academic pep rally the day before the test to get the adrenalin flowing for the next day; and
  7. APRIL: Require all students to shave their heads as a sign of commitment and servitude to the tests.

Test Day Strategies:

  1. Research indicates caffeine-filled drinks keep us alert, so all students will be pumped full of caffeine the day of the test. Parent volunteers will start the day by serving hot cocoa and coffee on school buses. Cafeterias will serve chocolate milk, coffee, tea, and chocolate donuts with the school breakfast. After morning roll call, all students will report to the gym where they will be served Coke, tea, and chocolate chip cookies. Access to water will be denied until all testing is completed;
  2. Youth ministers from local churches will be brought in to pray and mediate with students before the test;
  3. Students will be served red grades before and during the test. There are claims that red grapes stimulate brain cells for higher brain function although I have doubts as to how effective this one time feeding frenzy might be;
  4. Anyone entering the school building on test days must wear soft sole slippers. Wearing slippers has been proven to help ease stress, and slippers are also great for reducing noise on tile flooring;
  5. No announcements over the PA (public address) system can be made during testing. Of course, students are so attuned to their classes being regularly interrupted by the PA system or telephones such a strategy might pose a problem for some students;
  6. Place the school under lockdown on test days. Have the National Guard on alert and armed guardsmen stationed at each entrance to the school;
  7. As students enter the testing room, each student will be given a special charm such as a rabbit foot, chicken/turkey wishbone, or amulet to rub for good luck during the test;
  8. All students will be required to soak their feet in ice water thirty minutes prior to the test to ensure they are alert and ready for the test;
  9. Classical music will be pumped into the testing rooms to help relieve test anxiety;
  10. The library will be closed during testing to avoid the potentially disruptive rustle of pages or books being closed too loudly; and
  11. Of course, portable toilets will be set up outside the building so flushing toilets will not disrupt tests.

Post-Test Day Strategies:

  1. Although teachers and students will be eager to get back to work once the tests are completed, all instruction will be canceled for two weeks after the last test is administered, so students and teachers can relax and celebrate the tests are over;
  2. Extra counselors will be brought in after the tests to deal with student PTSS (post-test stress syndrome); and
  3. Wine and cheese will be served in the teachers’ lounge to help teachers deal with PTSS syndrome.

Of course, I may be leaving out some innovative strategies, but overall I believe this list is an excellent start. If these strategies are followed, I am positive students will not only experience a 100% pass rate, but they will see a dramatic increase in their individual test scores as well. However, unless there is a significant change in the testing process, the single best strategy with the best chance of success might be to shut school down after Christmas and only require students to show up for field trips, extra-curricular activities, cram days, and test days! Everyone would be a lot less stressed, and there would be little if any significant change in test results.

Regardless of what strategies are put into place, I want to wish all students good luck and extend a big thank you to all teachers, administrators, and parents for hanging in there as the craziness begins!

JL

©Jack Linton, January 11, 2015