Be Prepared (To Buy Your Christmas Tree Elsewhere)

This post is part of a blogosphere protest against the discriminatory practices of the Boy Scouts. Remember, if you buy a Christmas tree this season, that there are plenty of places to get them that do not support institutional homophobia and prejudice.

Be prepared! That’s the Boy Scout’s marching song
Be prepared! Though your moral stance is wrong—
Be prepared to hide the fact that you are gay
Let our antiquated stands lead you astray… [Read more...]

Sepia Friday

That is, not quite Black Friday (or CyberMonday) yet. But I’ve been tweaking the store just a little bit, so consider this a soft opening. Let me know if there are any problems.

There are the regular Cuttlefish With Quill t-shirts and such, the best mug in the world (and matching glassware, if you like), a few other tweaks on the design (including, for those who read this blog before it was FtB, stuff with the original Cuttlefish). I’ve added in some more of Mike McRae’s wonderful illustrations on other drinkware–sadly, they are too small to be good shirts. For you artists out there–yes, he’ll be getting his half of any profits. Shh, it’s a secret–don’t tell him. So you can collect all the cephalopod shot glasses, for instance (I have not yet been able to find a way to have them packaged as a single set–sorry!), or treat the world to the wonderful sight of a toddler with a blasphemy sippy cup. Myself, I’ve got my eye on a different sort of sippy cup.

Anyway, take a look. (And like I said, please let me know if there are any problems!) I’ll have it linked up top soon, and maybe a widget somewhere. But I want the bugs out of it (if there are any) by next week when people start thinking about Cephalopodmas!

Merry Christmas To You.

It’s already Christmas in Melbourne and Sydney,
And for just a few minutes, in Perth;
The planet is spinning, and soon will come Christmas
To this, the late side of the earth.

Merry Christmas to you, from your Cuttlefish friend,
To my readers and friends, far and near;
I wish you good health, and great joy, and true peace,
For this season, and all through the year.

The War (On Christmas) Comes Early (Cuttlefish Classic)

From the Cape of Good Hope to the Newfoundland islands,
The sands of Iran to the Panama isthmus;
From Outback Australia to Inverness Highlands
It’s time to take arms in the War Against Christmas!

My weapons are mistletoe, Christmas trees, holly,
A yule-log, and caroling out in the snow;
Sleigh-rides and snowball-fights, eggnog and Jolly
Old Santa Claus, laughing his loud “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

We’ll make them forget all the Truth of the season—
The sacrifice planned by a god up above—
And have them believing some bastardized reason
Like giving, or kindness, or caring or love!

I’ll cruelly and callously help out a stranger
Who’s down on his luck or has suffered some loss,
I won’t even speak of the babe in the manger
Whom God sent to Earth to get nailed to a cross;

When the winds of December conspire to freeze us
I’ll help collect sweaters and coats for the poor,
Neglecting to make any mention of Jesus,
Whose torture is really what Christmas is for.

My hatred of Christmas will focus my labors
On weaving an atheist fabric of lies—
For instance, I’m giving to all of my neighbors
Gift baskets, cookies, and fruitcakes and pies!

I’ll say “Merry Christmas!” I’ll say “Season’s Greetings!”
I’ll say “Happy Holidays—Joyous Noel!”
Intending of course, that with each of these meetings
The Truth About Christmas can just go to hell.

The truth is that Christmas is not about presents
It’s no time for songs, It’s not time to be nice
It’s not time for feasting on turkeys or pheasants—
It’s sin, and redemption by blood sacrifice.

No time to be jolly; no time to be merry
It’s time to be solemn, and grim, and devout!
The heathens might find it depressing or scary
But that is what Christmas is truly about.

Yes, Jesus is really the ultimate reason
And Christmas is really redemption and sin;
The war against Christmas is early this season—
For God’s sake, let’s hope that the atheists win!

******

I had recently linked to this one, so many have recently read it, but for the handful who get here by other means, I’m reposting. As most of us know (except, of course, the people who need to the most), the beginnings of Christmas in America (home of The War On Christmas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fox News) were not festive in the least. The Puritans had better, purer things to do on December 25th (for a couple of decades in the 1600’s, Boston even had a law prohibiting the celebration of Christmas!); a Christmas holiday as we know it did not begin until the 1800’s. Interestingly, celebrating Christmas (as opposed to observing it) spread with the notion of Santa, “The Night Before Christmas”, and commercial connections to stores and products, not with the story of the birth of god’s human sacrifice.

Those who wish a return to the traditional values of Christmas, away from the secularization, are welcome to stay inside, draw their curtains tight and stick their noses in their bibles. I will expect them to show up at work on the 25th (as, indeed, Congress did in 1789, the first Christmas under our constitution). Myself, I will gladly take the opportunity to celebrate with Cuttlefamily and friends. We will probably feast, and may even sing–such decadence would surely have been frowned upon, even fined, by the founders of our Christian Nation (TM).

Good.

An Atheist Christmas (Cuttlefish Classic)

We’ll all open presents, and cook a big dinner,
And share in traditions we learned long ago
But Christmas is different for this humble sinner,
No “birth of the saviour”, just people we know.

It has nothing to do with a babe in a manger
Or kings being led by a star up above,
But rather in family, friend, and in stranger,
In kindnesses done for the people we love.

A spirit of hope, and a spirit of giving,
A promise of peace in a troubling day,
A chance to examine the way we are living–
The courage to say what we’ve wanted to say.

You don’t need to think there’s a god up above you
To want to be good to your fellows on Earth.
To give to your friends, and to tell them “I love you”
Has nothing to do with some son of god’s birth.

For love, and for giving, we say “tis the season”
For caring, for kindness, for sharing good cheer
But why limit ourselves? I mean, what is the reason?
Why can’t we be giving the rest of the year?

This Christmas, my wish for each sister and brother,
To you, and to everyone you may hold dear;
Remember, this Christmas, to love one another—
Not only this season, but all through the year!

******

So today, Cuttlefamily got our tree. Many changes since last year–it was nice to be able to take a dog along again, but of course that was a potent reminder of the last few (declining) years of our poor old pooch. The energy in a young dog is a wonderful thing, especially a dog that reeeeeeeeaaaaaaalllly likes snow. It was significantly below freezing, and I had misjudged the depth of the snow at the place where we went, so my shoes filled with snow as I broke through the crust every 5 or 6 steps or so. Friends from different areas of the world appear greatly amused that we not only have a real tree (as opposed to an artificial one), but that we cut our own. It is one of the wonderful rituals of the season and something the kids, now both in college, see as a quintessential part of life.

Anyway, it put me in a good, but very contemplative, mood, so I thought I’d repost some of my older Christmas verses, now that I have more people reading than in previous years. Happy holidays, all of you, or just happy moments.

Gotta go–time for the traditional untangling of wadded up strands of christmas lights.

The Digital Pack-Rat, vol. 9

All the xmas verses that got away–starting with a response to a youtube clip of ignorant buffoons pontificating on how the true meaning of christmas was being destroyed by having other belief systems … basically, do what christianity had done in its turn.

I do not think highly of Mr. O’Reilly
(That’s fine–he can do that himself)

And Gretchen’s kvetchin’ just pure leaves me retchin’

My guts out, the bleached little elf.

They do love the season, but don’t know the reason

Their holiday comes in December

It was stolen from Norse, and from Romans, of course,

But these “journalists” must not remember.

These pinheads demand, but the Puritans banned

The observance of Christmas, you know:

True Christians could see that a creche or a tree

Was improper, and really should go!

So Gretchen and Billo, go purchase some brillo

And use it to polish your brains

So that maybe next year we can live without fear

Of your ignorant, selfish refrains.

As part of that continuing saga, you may recall, the (horrible, deplorable, sacrilegious, whatever) sign that the atheists put up beside the creche… was stolen! And yes, I stole the melody.

They came upon a midnight clear
Unto the Olympia Square
The night disguised them while they took
The sign the godless put there:
“It is our wish this Solstice time
That reason should prevail”
With hardened hearts and minds enslaved
The thieves may land in jail.

Still, tis the season to forgive;
To turn the other cheek.
Let’s hope they’ve learned their lesson if
It’s wisdom that they seek:
“Be kind unto your fellow man;
Treat them as you’d have them treat you”
There’s room for you in the public square
But only if others fit, too.

The right to different views is where
The strength of our nation abides
The First Amendment makes it clear
The government cannot take sides;
The tyranny of majority
May change with the whim of the day
And someday you may need it too–
Don’t throw your rights away.

My last (I hope) comment on this particular silly nonsense. This year, at least:

The traditional creche, to my thinking, is fine;
I won’t mess with theirs if they don’t mess with mine.
Not even the one at my town’s public square
So long as my own has an equal place there.
If you want the display to be yours, and yours only,
Then keep it at home; hope you like being lonely.
Or join with the rest of us–come and have fun,
If you want a real party… invite every one!

Another in the long line of back-and-forth regarding the Cinci Zoo and FantasyGodLand or whatever it was called…

I’m looking for some funding; gonna open up a zoo
With cages of creationists, all blithely flinging poo
They’re much more fun than pandas–much more active in their cages
With a longer line on Sundays, when they all sing “Rock of Ages”
The children love to point and laugh–they say “Hey look! They’re praying!”
And when they talk, you almost feel they know what they are saying
But clearly it’s just gibberish, not language like a man’s;
(It shows itself–in transcripts, it comes out in comic sans!)

And lastly (this time, anyway), a response to an editorial. This year is Darwin Year, but sadly, it seems that some of those who will speak at Darwin Year events are (gasp!) atheists! Why can’t those militant atheists be more like, say, Darwin himself, and act like the second-class citizens they are? Won’t somebody think of the children!

I thought I saw an atheist, who dared to speak aloud,
Who did not meekly bow his head–oh, no, this man was proud!
Who, rather than–like Darwin–hold his tongue and keep his place,
Demanded equal membership among the human race!

I thought I saw an atheist–a scientist, as well–
Who dared to mention Darwin in the stories he would tell!
Whose glib association with the noble Darwin name
Would tar it with comparison to atheistic shame!

I thought I saw an atheist who read what Darwin wrote,
Who did not have agenda or religion to promote,
Who, on this anniversary, will stand in line to thank
A man who saw a view of life inside a tangled bank.

Happy Christmas To All Of You (From Your Atheist Friend)

I just got a nice “Merry Christmas” this morning
From someone who calls me his “atheist friend”;
He jokingly added, as if for a warning,
His greeting was truly not meant to offend.

He assumed that an atheist hated this season,
Or else he was joking, or just didn’t see;
He was wrong, though, that’s certain, whatever his reason–
Cos Christmas is really quite special to me:

We’ll all open presents, and cook a big dinner,
And share in traditions we learned long ago
But Christmas is different for this humble sinner,
No “birth of the saviour”, just people we know.

It has nothing to do with a babe in a manger
Or kings being led by a star up above,
But rather in family, friend, and in stranger,
In kindnesses done for the people we love.

A spirit of hope, and a spirit of giving,
A promise of peace in a troubling day,
A chance to examine the way we are living–
The courage to say what we’ve wanted to say.

You don’t need to think there’s a god up above you
To want to be good to your fellows on Earth.
To give to your friends, and to tell them “I love you”
Has nothing to do with some son of god’s birth.

For love, and for giving, we say “tis the season”
For caring, for kindness, for sharing good cheer
But why limit ourselves? I mean, what is the reason?
Why can’t we be giving the rest of the year?

This Christmas, my wish for each sister and brother,
To you, and to everyone you may hold dear;
Remember, this Christmas, to love one another—
Not only this season, but all through the year!

I’ll happily send him my own Christmas greeting,
And wish him a good one, and Happy New Year,
And hope he remembers, so next time we’re meeting
He’ll talk as he wants to, with nothing to fear.

Happy Cephalopodmas!

It’s still plenty of time till the plunder–
I mean “morning of childlike wonder”
But it’s such a big Earth
That, for instance, in Perth,
It’s already Christmas Down Under.

(I have recently been accused of being too snow-focused this squidmas, what with the song lyrics and all. So here’s a special Cuttlemas greeting for my dear friend Podblack Cat, for whom it is already tomorrow!)

Christmas Song, Revisited (sheet music!)

Ok, so in putzing around trying to find a way to put music here, I found a wonderful way to procrastinate! Finale NotePad has a 30-day trial period that is fully functional–with enough patience, a non-composer like myself was able to pretty much get my song down the way I hear it in my head… and a few other ways besides! (I did it the easy way–wrote it in C, then cut and pasted it into G, which apparently is the key I sing it in.) I think the Finale people have a place where they host people’s compositions, so perhaps I will put mine there, but I wanted (mostly for Kevin and Glenn, who asked) to put up the music before it is too late. Of course it is not quite the arrangement I hear, but I finally figured out what that arrangement would be–there is an album by jazz trumpeter Chase Sanborn, a small group with a woman vocalist; that is the sound I hear this song in. Oh, well.

This is just the main body of the song–the intro isn’t finished (I may edit it in later). Click for a more readable size. (UPDATE: In the comments, a PDF of the song, courtesy of the kind and talented AnthonyB.)



Oh, yeah, the other verses again:

(actual song)
Christmas is the time when I can say to you “I love you”
Kiss you if the mistletoe is hanging right above you
All through the year,
my friend we’ve grown near
And now when I see you this Christmas, it’s clear

(chorus)
I want to be more than friends this Christmas
I want to be closer than ever before
I want to be more than friends this Christmas
That’s what this Christmas is for.

Christmas is the time to cuddle up beside the fire
Feel the kind of love that only Christmas can inspire
Outside there’s snow,
but in here, a glow
And I’m warm when I’m with you, and that’s how I know:

chorus

Christmas is the time to hear the carols sung so sweetly
Let the magic of the season fill your heart completely
Love is brand new,
and wishes come true
I’ve just one wish this Christmas, and that wish is you:

chorus

Christmas is the time to walk the snowy world together
Face the coming year as boldly as we face the weather
Come and be strong
and join in my song
And the love that is Christmas can last the year long

chorus

The “War On Christmas”, Explained.

So it’s Christmas—my Christmas—my secular day;
The Supreme Court decided it must be that way.
As a secular holiday, Christmas can stay,
With department-store Santa Claus, there on display,
Or with Rudolph, or some other TV cliché,
And your photograph taken in front of the sleigh.

If you want, you can use this occasion to pray;
Even atheists know such behavior’s okay—
Just as long as you don’t expect me to obey,
And admit that your version of Christmas holds sway;
The establishment clause means I don’t have to play
By your rules, because every belief gets its say.

If you really think Christmas is in disarray,
That it’s war, and it’s time to make somebody pay,
Then I humbly submit, you’ve been led far astray
By some ignorant pundit who airs his dismay
By the grace of that same First Amendment that “they”
Get to hide behind, here in the U. S. of A.