Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pop Culture Ephemera To Beat Holiday Dread And The Winter Blues

This time of year fills me with conflicting emotions.  I'm actually a big fan of the holidays, and am lucky not to suffer from the holiday-induced depression that plenty of people suffer from for a variety of reasons (crummy family, bad holiday memories, sadness over those who've died who can't be there with you.)  However, I have a big tendency to over-think things, and while I am looking forward to Christmas and New Year's, I'm already dreading what comes after.  January, February, and March are the garbage months on the calendar: cold weather, lack of sunlight, no seasonal food (or beer), and no holidays to brighten things up.  Over the years these times have also been layered over with bad memories.  Lent begins in February, which as a child meant sacrifice and self-induced guilt.  The American Historical Association has its annual conference the weekend after New Year's, a place where I went for five years straight to either interview for a job or talk to university presses to get a book published to get me a better job, or both.  The next months would then be full of anxiety attacks and painful rejection.

It's going to take some Groot levels of strength to get through the year's garbage time.  I've assembled a list of stuff (mostly video clips) to cling on to.

Battle of the Network Stars: Gabe Kaplan Bests Robert Conrad

It starts with Telly Savalas in a tracksuit and shades smoking a cig, and just keeps getting better.  ("I'm from New York, I want the bread, baby.")  Robert Conrad is taking this way too seriously, and it makes my heart happy to see his macho bullshit not work.  Gabe "Mr. Kotter" Kaplan's victory in this competition (and getting a kiss from Linda "Wonder Woman" Carter) is a victory for nerds everywhere.

Stryper Promo Picture

How could you make hair metal even more ridiculous?  Throw in some old time religion and a yellownblack spandex getup.  *Shudder*

Ben Stiller Show U2 Rockumentary

Ben Stiller has become a a big time movie star, but I still fondly remember his old sketch show back in the 1990s, which also featured Andy Dick, Janine Garafolo and Bob "better call Saul" Odenkirk.  Stiller's Bono impersonation still kills me, as does the image of him playing a bar mitzvah while sharing a manager with the Partridge Family.

Ronald Reagan Gives The Gift Of Lung Cancer

This just doesn't need a comment.

Mets Banner Day, 1984

When I try hard to get my mind away from the wretchedness of winter I think about the ballpark.  I imagine myself on a mild early June afternoon drinking a tasty, crisp beer while sitting on the third base side, lost in a baseball game.  The Mets, me newly adopted local team, have a great tradition of fan banners, and "Banner Day" when fans get to parade their creations on the field.  This little video from 1984 shows young people pre-internet with the time on their hands needed to make an amusing creation on a bed-sheet so that they can step out onto the glorious hallowed green of Shea Stadium.  This video also makes me happy, since it helps me recall the ordinary, mundane fashions of the 80s.  (It wasn't all shoulder pads and Don Johnson suits, you know.)

The Cover of Mac Davis' It's Hard to Be Humble Album

Ah, the 70s, when a perm and bare hairy chest were the height of masculine allure.

William Shatner Sings "Rocket Man"

If I am in the lowest of moods, when nothing in the world can cheer me up, I turn to this.  This performance is truly amazing, in that Shatner somehow manages to transcend irony completely.  If only all tacky awards ceremonies had a moment like this to show what rubbish the rest of the proceedings are by comparison.

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