Comedy Think Tank

Saturday, January 21, 2006

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS: Unsolicited, Unwanted, and Maybe-Even-Not-Very-Good Advice
(Jan. 9, 2005)
By Chad Morris

We probably all ate more than our share of candy after Halloween, gorged ourselves on Thanksgiving, and noticed that many of the Christmas pleasantries seemed to be high in sugar and fat (for example, a cup of eggnog has 17 grams of fat, 45 grams of sugar, 745 million calories, and 1/37 of an egg.). Therefore, tradition is that as the new year rolls in we all write long lists of resolutions. Of course, it is required by law for everyone to include either “lose weight” or “get in better shape” on that list (You never hear, “this year my resolution is to put bacon and cream cheese on everything”).

And to kick off all of our lofty resolutions we celebrated New Year’s Eve. Unless your goals included partying like a drunk sailor, eating handfuls of junk, and sleeping in past noon, you probably started the year off a little counterproductively.

Before writing anymore, I wanted a clear definition of what the word “resolution” meant. So I looked it up in the dictionary. The entry read,

resolution (n) A determined plan of action that . . . um . . . well . . . I started off strong there . . . but what was I doing? Let me get back to . . . Oh look, fudge!

No, seriously. The word resolution comes from the Latin resolutus which means “a plan of action one is determined to follow, unless you didn’t write it down. Then it was just a wish. So you might as well . . . Oh look, fudge!”

No, really seriously this time. We can do this. We can make goals and achieve them. Joan of Arc didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.” Napolean never said die. Of course, that’s mostly because neither one of them spoke English. So they also didn’t know the meaning of the word “cross-dresser,” and never said, “I’m an egocentric conqueror”. But that doesn’t change the fact that we can do this.

Before we go planning out our 2006, I would like to warn you. When people think of self-improvement they are sometimes tempted to compare themselves to those around them. And if you’re like me, you have neighbors that play 5 different musical instruments, fix their own cars, have their PhDs, trim their hedges to portray famous people in history, exercise at least every hour, and in their spare time translate the unabridged Les Miserables into rare African dialects and hand stitch bandages for the lepers in Russia. I might have exaggerated a little, but they are relentlessly good! However, most of us have to realize that if we try to keep up with these people it will lead to a small family of hernias.

Therefore, I suggest simplifying things. As I was pondering this counsel, I was reminded of a true story. Once in Salt Lake City, Utah a woman sought Brigham Young’s advice. Someone told her to “go to hell” and she didn’t know what to do. The Mormon prophet's response was brief and wise and my inspiration for my resolution. He responded, “don’t.” I think that is some solid counsel. Therefore, no matter how long and exhaustive, or short and pathetic your list of resolutions is, I recommend “don’t go to hell” should be somewhere toward the top.

Anyway, as I say goodbye, remember to be tireless and determined. Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, no never give up.” And Confucius taught “A bird without vision is like a strand of seaweed floating aimlessly in a sea of . . . Oh look fudge!”

OH LOOK MISTLETOE! FANCY A SNOG?
(Dec. 21, 2005)
By Chad Morris

Christmas is a time of many traditions. Some of these traditions make perfect sense to me. For example, cookies mysteriously appearing on my doorstep, presents, a plate of fudge mysteriously appearing on my doorstep, Christmas carols, and a plate of “you’re getting Muffins for Christmas” mysteriously appearing on my doorstep. That’s all perfectly logical. However, some of our yuletide habits have confused me. Now, I could go on a verbal rampage about middle-aged men voluntarily climbing up rickety old ladders to dangle a few lights from their rain gutters, or how people run extension cords across their lawns to bring to life an inflatable family of snowmen when there is plenty of real snow all over the place, but I think our time would be better spent talking about mistletoe.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t wholeheartedly approve of an excuse for a good snog (which is not a holiday drink, but English slang for a little smoochie smoochie. Haven’t you read Harry Potter? If you haven’t, did you hear that in book six Harry paused in a duel with Voldemort to tell him he was off his trolley, and called him a “evil cheeky duffer”? Voldemort promptly killed Harry while he was talking. This will bring on book seven - “The Revenge of Neville Longbottom.” Crazy huh? I never saw it coming.). It’s just that for the longest time I’ve had difficulty seeing the connection between standing under an odd plant and being obligated to kiss someone. First of all, the name mistletoe doesn’t exactly seem romantic, or even remotely plantlike. It sounds more like a badly named Decepticon, or a foot fungus.

In an effort to find the method to the madness I completed extensive research (9 ½ minutes on the internet) on the subject. Turns out that experts trace the mistletoe tradition back to ancient Druid customs. What a surprise! The NCMO plant legacy came from an old pagan culture. Like we couldn’t see that one coming? But I wanted to know if women or men invented it.

The plant’s bad name led me to believe that it was a man’s brainchild. There was further evidence - the whole thing is extremely shallow and gimmicky. Afterall, men were responsible for the great I’ll-bet you-a-quarter-I-can-kiss-you-without-touching-your-lips scheme of the early 80’s. This idea dead ended when I realized that men, ancient and pagan or not, would never hang a plant as decoration. They would be more likely to carry it around with them and quickly hold it over an unsuspecting passing girl (which is not a good idea due to the fact that mistletoe can give you a really bad rash. I mean itchy all over, poison ivy kind of rash. That’s true. . . Not that I’d know. . . nor am I writhing in bitter itchiness as I write).

A woman mastermind was a better fit. Women save anything and everything romantic right? They need it, just in case they happen to marry the guy who gave it to them. And if they break up, they’ll need something to burn while they eat chocolate and tell all their roommates how insensitive he was. So one day, an ancient druid woman, Guntherina, was kissed. The next day, in a romantic daydream and singing a chipper Gaelic song, she revisited the very spot of the first kiss and noticed that it had happened under a strand of mistletoe attached to a tree. She clipped it, took it home and then told all her other Druid girl friends. The group of women giggled and demanded details, then decided that if ever they were under a mistletoe, the closest Druid man would have to kiss them. If the men refused to comply they would be tied to the Stonehenge until the aliens that made the ancient rock formation returned and abducted them.

Of course, the Druid men did a little research and found out 1) that attempting to discard all the mistletoe can give you a terrible rash and 2) that mistletoe is the vampire of the plant world. It attaches itself to another form of vegetation and gradually drains its sustenance (That’s true. It was on the internet. You can’t argue with stuff on the internet). The Druid men thought the similarities between mistletoe and Druid women were profound and deserved deep meditation. So in honor of the victims of mistletoe, human and plant, the ancient Druid men started hanging pieces of dead vegetation and as they passed under it, they were reminded to run from all women before it was too late.

Unfortunately only the female tradition stuck.