Ok, So Maybe I’m A Little Envious

It’s not like I would wish harm to befall him, and thus open up his staff writing position at The Nation. But Calvin Trillin, well, comments on things, in verse, and makes a living at it.

You can see where I might have mixed feelings toward the man.

He was on the Daily Show last night (video down below), with Jon Stewart singing the praises of his new book, Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign In Verse. The presidential campaign in verse? What am I, chopped liver?

You want political doggerel? You’ve come to the right place! Being paid to write it for a magazine can’t hold a candle to obsessively writing it to get it out of your skull. You want Mitt? We’ve got Mitt. A meaningful percentage of Mitt. You want Newt? We got Newt. Plenty. Perry? Lots. And lots. Bachmann? Santorum? Yes, Santorum. Value Voters Summit? The Republican Primary Race? Tons. Seriously. The Convention? And a few commentaries on the voters themselves.

Akin? Beer? The debates? More debates? Horses and bayonets? The debate over whether polling works?
It’s enough to drive one mad. But despite it all, encouragement.

Ah, the video. Trillin has a poem title that alone is worth the price of the book. He mentions it at about the 6 minute mark.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Calvin Trillin
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Now… Retire, Mr. Trillin. Call me, Nation.

The sad thing is… this isn’t even my whole collection of appropriate verses. Just a sampling.

Bill O’Reilly Does The Same Damn Thing He Always Does…

Seriously, I had to check the calendar. Billo had American Atheists president David Silverman on, and… Oh, go see for yourself. Or, frankly, don’t. You already know the dance. The steps are the same, the music is the same, the dancers are the same… only the date has changed.

Dammit, if Billo can do it, so can I. (consults random number generator…)

‘Twas the night before Christmas; the Christians all hunkered
In basements of buildings they’d armored and bunkered.
They huddled in silence; they huddled in fear,
With thoughts that the atheists soon would draw near

The War Against Christmas had started on Fox—
Just a couple of fools on the idiot-box
Who were looking for noise to give ratings a boost—
But lately, those chickens have come home to roost:

Believers are frightened; they’re panicked; they’re scared,
And not one among them will go unprepared;
They’ve heard that the atheists roam, Christmas night,
So Christians stay hidden, and safe out of sight.

It’s serious business, the whole Christmas season,
When people of faith fend off people of reason—
At least, that’s the story you hear on TV,
So the basement’s the place meant for children to be

There’ll be no “Silent Night”, or “Away in the Manger”
The godless might hear it! Consider the danger!
And then, they’d attack—Why, they’ve done it for years,
With that vile “Season’s Greetings!” invading the ears!

“Happy Holidays!” may seem inclusive and nice,
But it just isn’t Christmas, unless it’s got Christ;
Those words are no less than a form of assault!
So it’s war (and it’s clearly the atheists’ fault!)

(Plus, it’s unpatriotic, and now it’s high time
We made non-Christian greetings a federal crime!
The clear, true intent of our great founding fathers—
Which someone should check, although nobody bothers)

The elders remember an earlier time,
When a bottle of Coke only cost you a dime,
Each Christmas the snowfall was brilliant and white
And there wasn’t an atheist heathen in sight!

Folks visited neighbors; they caroled with friends;
They hand-crafted gifts out of old odds and ends;
They knew that the joys of the season would last…
But now, such delights are a thing of the past.

There are rifles to oil; there is ammo to check;
There’s a radio, straining to tune in Glen Beck;
No time to sing carols, or even say prayers,
With the danger that some may be caught unawares!

A war—manufactured, but war nonetheless—
Could kill hundreds, or thousands, it’s anyone’s guess;
They’re under attack, and that is the reason
They’re locked and they’re loaded, the whole Christmas season!


The atheists, meanwhile, are feasting and singing;
Our stockings are hung and our sleigh-bells are ringing—
Though Jesus had nothing to do with a sleigh,
We’re all unbelievers, and so it’s ok!

With holly, and eggnog, and mistletoe kisses,
We’ll watch “It’s a wonderful life” (just like this is)
With family and friends—with the people who love us—
With no one beneath us, nor no one above us

We’ll celebrate all the things Christmas is for,
Like giving, and loving, not hatred or war
And we’ll say to the world (cos we’ve got every right):
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

(yes, I linked to this in my very most recent post. Complain to Billo–if he can put himself on autopilot, so can I)

More On The War On Christmas

The latest silliness from Pat Robertson and from Bill O’Reilly has been making the rounds–Lawrence O’Donnell offers a simple counter-example (video at link) to the claim of the bitter, hateful atheist who wants everybody to be miserable at Christmas the end of December. That counter-example?

Ricky Gervais.

In a 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal, Gervais answers questions about atheism; the last question asked is “How do you plan on celebrating Christmas?”

Eating and drinking too much with friends and family. Celebrating life and remembering those that did, but can no longer.

They are not looking down on me but they live in my mind and heart more than they ever did probably. Some, I was lucky enough to bump into on this planet of six billion people. Others shared much of my genetic material. One selflessly did her best for me all my life. That’s what mums do though. They do it for no other reason than love. Not for reward. Not for recognition. They create you. From nothing. Miracle? They do those every day. No big deal. They are not worshiped. They would give their life without the promise of heaven. They teach you everything they know yet they are not declared prophets. And you only have one.

I am crying as I write this.

His full answer is beautiful. Go read it.

Related posts:

The Night Before (The War On) Christmas. A scary story, but with a happy ending.

(The War On) The War On The War On The War On Christmas You know, in case you feel like denying that there is such a war.

The War Against Christmas Comes Early One of my favorites, contrasting the solemn observation of Christmas in early America with the modern celebration.

An Atheist’s Christmas Answers the question “why would an atheist want to celebrate Christmas?” Another favorite.

An Atheist Christmas Card Just a wee bit snarky. Mostly sweet. Historically accurate.

Another Atheist Christmas Card Weapons-grade glurge, but I’ve already had some people tell me this one is their favorite.

‘Tis The Season Last year’s earlier offering. It’s actually a song, if only I were a singer.

The War On Christmas, Explained Blunt, for those who are unclear on the concept. Not terribly poetic, though.

It’s Tough To Be Christian (When Christmastime Comes) A lament. It’s always nice to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

This Means War! (on Christmas) A brief explanation of the War.

Wait–Voting Again, Already?

It’s Time–that is, it’s time for Time,
If I could make that clear
For me to plead for votes, in rhyme,
For Person Of The Year.

Yep, Time Magazine is getting ready to name their Person of the Year. There are the usual politicians (failed and successful), the usual power brokers (failed and successful), the usual celebrities, the obligatory quirky mentions (Higgs-Boson Particle and Mars Rover) and (this being an Olympic year) the occasional Olympic athlete.

And there is Malala Yousafzai.

You can vote people up or vote them down. I was surprised and pleased to see her name at the top of the list after I voted, but there are many days to go.

I can’t pharyngulate a poll, but I can certainly try to Sepiate one.

(And yes, you can vote for more than one, so the Rover can be runner-up…)

In Sincere Appreciation Of My Readers

First, read this (rather lengthy but excellent) comic.

I agree with a great deal of what is said there about the creative process. Sadly, I’m a bit more obsessive than the artist is–I do try to have something up every day, or nearly so. (Which, when you see his example of “if I had to produce a new comic every single day, this is what would happen”, now explains quite a bit about the lack of quality control here at the Digital Cuttlefish.)

But that’s not what I’m talking about today.

Even further down the comic… the talk about comments.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a sincere thank you, to all my readers and commenters, for not being typical of commentary on the internet. Hey, part of what I do is read the comments at news and opinion sites, and then write about that commentary. Sure, part of the difference in comment quality might be due to the nature of the topics… but it isn’t. I don’t much like reading about the sorts of things I don’t write about. I don’t write about, say, celebrity pop culture, so I don’t get into those sorts of squabbles. I don’t write about sports, because I’m a Cleveland Browns fan. And of course, people who don’t like stuff written in verse have all the rest of Freethought Blogs to read from without clicking on my site, so I don’t even get a lot of style haters. I write about atheism, skepticism, nature, science, love, politics…. and I have seen what the comments look like on news sites (CNN, FOX, etc.) on these topics.

So, yes, thank you all, for being the best group of readers/commenters I could possibly hope for. And thanks, also, to The Oatmeal, for reminding me of what it’s like in the rest of the interwebs.

In Which I Agree With The Pope… A Little

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed
The pope says believers are being misled
The stars in the sky look down where he lay
The pope says it didn’t quite happen this way

The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes
The pope says the story is full of mistakes
I love thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
But even the pope knows the story’s a lie

Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
The stories are bogus; what more can one say?
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
Their number is zero… you really aren’t there

Yeah, the pope has a new book out-volume three of his biography of Jesus. This one, “Jesus of Nazareth–The Infancy Narratives” (conveniently out in time for Christmas sales) would appear to be yet another salvo fired in the war against Christmas. That’s right, against. All those nativity scenes in Santa Monica and elsewhere? Yeah, not so much.

According to the pope’s research, there is also no evidence in the Gospels that the cattle and other animals traditionally pictured gathered around the manger were actually present.

He also debunks the claim that angels sang at the birth, a staple theme of Christmas carols.

I can’t wait until Bill O’Reilly attacks him for being a grinch.

Santa (Monica) Won’t Let Jesus Come To Town

“The atheists know
how the game’s s’posed to go;
That’s the only reason they won it”
You see, all good fools
know that reading the rules
Is the best way to solve a whodunit
Now this ruling means
our nativity scenes
Are in violation of laws!
But I’m filled with doubt—
could you point the law out?
(First Amendment; establishment clause.)

Earlier this year, I wrote about the decision to remove all the displays–nativity scenes, menorah displays, pastafarian dishes, you name it–from the Santa Monica oceanside park where nativity scenes had been displayed for decades.

A coalition of churches asked a judge to allow displays to continue this year, while the case was still making its way through the courts… and the judge said no.

William Becker, the attorney for the Christian group, said he expects the case will be dismissed at a hearing on Dec. 3 based on Monday’s proceedings and plans to appeal.

“The atheists won and they will always win unless we get courts to understand how the game is played and this is a game that was played very successfully and they knew it,” Becker said, comparing the city to Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who authorized Jesus’ crucifixion.

A good move, when your case depends on not being explicitly religious in nature.

There are plenty of other places in town where nativity scenes will be displayed. There is a limited amount of space where a public park can show an unobstructed view of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Good move, judge.

Celebrate World Toilet Day Today!

Today is so special—I don’t want to spoil it
For all ‘round the world, it’s the day of the toilet
The loo, bog, or crapper, the privy, the John
The can, lav, or potty… the list can go on
The commode, the latrine, or the porcelain throne
How odd that it’s so euphemistically known—
How strange we disguise it (a nice form of lying)
When plumbing like this has saved millions from dying
Without sanitation, diseases can spread,
And with so many sick, there’s a fair share of dead
So here’s to the shitter! Let’s all raise our glasses!
So dear to our hearts, and so close to our asses!

Today, November 19th, is indeed World Toilet Day.

This is actually quite a serious issue, and a matter of life and death for millions. So follow the link, and (their words, not mine) show them that you give a shit.

Food Dreams

I found myself eating, last night, in a dream,
These most wonderful scones, served with real clotted cream
And a strawberry jam that was fit for a king…
I awoke to a fridge that contained not a thing.

… well, close, but not quite 100% accurate. The fridge has all sorts of things in it… for thanksgiving dinner. Not for today. But I did have a dream about scones with jam and clotted cream. Oh, my goodness, I did have a dream about scones, jam, and clotted cream. Now I have to get clotted cream to have on hand for when the Cuttlekids come for thanksgiving. Or maybe just for me.

Have you ever dreamed about food? What food? What circumstances? Have your food dreams ever come true? Was that a good thing?