Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Santa Inc.'s Biggest Day Of Business... NOT!

As Santa becomes an industry in his 'hometown,' some fear magic is being lost

SANTA'S VILLAGE ON THE ARCTIC CIRCLE (AP) - Santa Claus takes a long look at two English children sitting on his knees. Santa talks with many children in "Santa's village" on the Arctic circle, in Rovaniemi, Finland. (AP/Lehtikuva, Pekka Aho)
"Have you been good?" he asks gently. (Usually...)

The question might well be thrown back in his bushy-bearded face, considering the fuss a British family caused this month by complaining that they spent a fortune to come to Santa's village on the Arctic Circle, only to be given the brush-off.

Hilary Hughes, who brought two daughters and four grandchildren to visit Santa, claimed to the Guardian newspaper in London that they were told he was too busy to see them, then finally received them in a dining room cluttered with dirty plates.

Finns, highly sensitive about their nation's image, were horrified, and tabloid newspapers passionately bemoaned the damage to Santa's prestige. "This was most unfortunate, and we can only apologize profusely," lamented Jyrki Niva, manager of the firm that arranged the trip.

He blamed a delayed flight, adding: "We had 1,600 guests that weekend, and there were no other complaints. Everything else went smoothly."

But the flap may be just a symptom of a deeper concern that the Christmas spirit is getting lost as the Santa industry gets bigger and more regimented.

The Finns have always claimed a special relationship with Santa, and since the 1960s the idea that Santa's home is in Lapland has been strongly promoted by travel agents, the government and Finnair, the national carrier, which calls itself Santa's official airline. Lapland... wasn't that a strip joint where I once attended a Bachelor Party?

Tourism took off in 1985 when Santa's first workshop opened here, 840 kilometres north of Helsinki, the capital. How ironic is this - Stan... I mean, Satan... I mean... SANTA is close to HELsinki... The irony never stops... (Yeah - I know - I gotta stop mixing egg nog and... well, that would be telling! *LOL* No egg nogging and blogging - can be as disastrous as drinking and driving... right? (NOT - I know!)

Since then millions have flown in to sit on Santa's knee, ride reindeer sleds and snowmobiles, and visit the husky farms that dot the snowy landscape. Some 600,000 are expected this year, with more than 250 chartered flights this month alone arriving in Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland eight kilometres south of Santa's village. That's 25 per cent more than last year.

To get all those multitudes off the plane, onto Santa's knee, around the attractions and out again calls for clockwork timing. (What a fine waste of time and money, verily... as also unnecessary use of logistics and planning strategies... why not put that to greater use by, I don't know... get those multitudes out of harm's way in war-stricken parts of the mudball... uh... globe that is... ;)

"There is a danger we will be swamped by the growing numbers, so we have to be very careful when we plan," said Niva. "Quality must come before quantity." But, as far as moolah goes, quantity is all that matters... right Santa?

Santa's log cabin, originally built for a visit by Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of the U.S. president, is now dwarfed by Santa's Office and workshops, the Santa post office that receives more than 500,000 letters a year from all over the world, and dozens of souvenir stores. Eleanor would be proud, I'm sure...

Then there's SantaPark, a deep cave where visitors can listen to the sounds of Lappish nature and throw frozen snowballs, and a bar where drinks are served from ice glasses at a room temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Batman has nothing on Santa... we now know who has the better cave - no question!

At the newly opened Santa's Technology Park, companies work in tourism and communication technology, including answering Santa's letters and making DVDs about Santa and Lapland. Santa's workout DVD - coming out soon!

And of course, Rovaniemi boasts a Hotel Santa Claus. In fact, three quarters of the work force in the town of 35,000 directly or indirectly services the $460 million US annual tourism industry. Hotel New Hampshire revisited...?!?

Has the Santa business gotten too big? No one will say so on the record for fear of hurting their own livelihood. But privately, some are worried. One waitress fears that "Santa saturation" - tourists are shunted in and out as though on conveyor belts - will ultimately cause a backlash. Anti-Santa sentiments are surging - hey, I am at the forefront of it... eh? ;)

In his quiet, cozy grotto, Santa won't be drawn into the debate. His real identity is a secret and he won't answer questions about himself. His unchanging message is the well-being of children. Mayhaps Santa has more in common with Batman and M.J. than we all first thought... hmm?

"It's nice that children can have lovely presents, but the most important thing is that they should be made to feel secure and happy," Santa said. "In this way, we can all have a better, safer world." Right...

And for eight-year-old Guy Johnson from England, the magic is still very much there.
The real-life Harry Potter speaks up...?!?

The Santa he met in London wasn't the real thing, he said knowingly after meeting Finland's Santa. "This is the real Santa. He lives here. He was fantastic."

How easy it is to deceive and lead astray today's youth... eh?
Oh yeah... MERRY CHRISTMAS! HO-HO-HO... and all that stuff!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Things to extirpate from Christmas once and for all...!!!

Each and every year, it never fails - the same damned things come back like they have before with sickening frequency and zombie-inane-like regularity...
It is time, I believe, to kick out some of those damnable bad habits, don't you agree? My top five things to extirpate from this greatest of holidays go like this...

No. 5- Santa Claus - you're out! You want old geezers who'll bring you lame gifts you see no rhyme nor reason to (though they are lame only in your poor uneducated eyes...) - then go for three of them rather than one - go for the Three Wise Men! (Although, just like the Three Musketeers, there were more than three... but I digress). Instantly, you've tripled your chances to get the gift that you really want (that is, if myrrh is it...!). Only downside is - you will have to await until the first week of January to finally collect on any goodies coming your way... and that is a bummer - right folks? :(
Still - if prolonging pleasure is good for the goose... it should please the gander as well... hmm? ;)

No. 4- Ban certain perennial musical so-called "favorites" - I don't know about any of you, but if I hear the ghost of John Lennon tell me one single extra time that "... so this is Christmas..." (duh) and ask me "... what have (I) done"... I shall not be responsible for my actions (meaning, what I might do to my stereo sound system...!!!). Have some Crash Test Dummies-style rendition of "Noel-Noel... Noel-Noel" instead... And all the FEED THE WORRRRRRLD one can tolerate at its loudest! But pleeeeeeeeeease... Lennon is dead. So is Nathalie Cole's career... So are the original artists who gave us most of the original classics... And as much as I like it, Jingle Bells Rock is downright annoying and gets on one's nerves, quite frankly, after a while...!!! So there...

No. 3- No more silly fake and bogus cutesy wootsy miracles (and no - by the way - I am not a relative of Scrooge... thanks for asking). The only miracle that really happened and is being remembered on the night of the 24th (even if it did not happen on a 24th of December...) is the coming of a newborn king - a Savior... Christ. Miraculous birth it was, being born to a virgin and all...
Thus, lay off the lame latest additions - 'miracles' such as a snowman or a snow... dog (...) simply springing to life and just in time to be enjoying the spirit of Christmas too.... sheesh.

No. 2- Dump the elves too - of course. When one cuts off the head (Santa), one has no use for the rest of the half-baked organization... eh? Besides, elves, to me, were always really too much leprechaun-like to be trusted... am I right, hmm?

No 1- Enough with the wreaths already!!! No one is dying - and we are not part of the cast of HBO's Six Feet Under... capisce? I'd rather be on The Sopranos anyway... if you know what I'm saying... hmm? ;)
With a name like mine, I am predestined for it... and I could get lucky too... maybe with, say... Lorraine Bracco? *LOL*

Enough said as it is...
Blessings amongst the Yuletidings...! ;)

P.S. - below you will find (as you already did HEAR IT) what NOT to extirpate from CHRISTmas - EVER!

Myspace Layouts :: Funny Videos :: Music Video Codes

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Something for the ex-men to ponder...

Mutant syphilis proving resistant to antibiotics -Associated Press
Hmm... will Marvel Entertainment let another mutant property get away like those teen tortoises managed to escape, somehow...? If there is mutant moolah to be made, you can bet that Marvel Entertainment wants to take more than its fair cut of it...!

A fast-spreading mutant strain of syphilis has proved resistant to the antibiotic pills that are offered to some patients as an alternative to painful penicillin shots. The Scarlet Witch must have been the infamous "patient one" of this - she has virus spreader written all over her...

Since the late 1990s, doctors and public health clinics have been giving azithromycin to some syphilis patients because the long-acting antibiotic pill was highly effective and easy to use. Four pills taken at once were usually enough to cure syphilis. Yes... this "social disease" is still an embarrassment and a profound annoyance, but it isn't half as bad as aids - it is curable now!

But now researchers at University of Washington in Seattle have found at least 10 percent of syphilis samples from patients at sexually transmitted disease clinics in four cities had a strain resistant to azithromycin. Oh-oh... spoke too soon, have we? The embarrassment struck back!

"That suggests that this mutation is pretty widely distributed geographically," said Sheila A. Lukehart, research professor of infectious diseases. Nice - her initials form the name S.A.L. - I like originality wherever I see it! ;)

The percentage of samples from San Francisco with the mutant strain jumped from 4 percent in 1999-2002 to 37 percent in 2003, with the increase taking place largely among gay or bisexual men with multiple partners. Now why would that be I wonder...? Why them... and not, say, ubiquitous heterosexual irksome television personalities instead... hmm?!?

The study was reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. My favorite - right behind The Skeptical Chronicles, yeah...

Experts say doctors should switch to penicillin or other antibiotics if azithromycin does not work. But some of those antibiotics can cause nausea and other side effects and must be taken for two weeks; some patients do not complete their treatment and are not cured. Just what the public needs - more medication side-effects and nefarious symptoms-type of trouble (FDA - Where Art Thou?) and coupled up this time with a new epidemic...

Experts said the findings also show that syphilis patients treated with azithromycin must have follow-up tests to be sure they are cured. After syphilis sores disappear, the disease can silently attack the brain and cause dementia, paralysis and death. And you thought Celebrex was bad, people... eh?

Penicillin has long been the recommended treatment for syphilis. But it must be given in two buttocks injections much more painful than typical shots, because a large amount of the solution must be forced into the muscle. Ahh - the good old days of "rough-around-the-edges medecine are back I see... eh?

Syphilis decreased in the United States through the 1990s, then climbed 19 percent from 2000 to 2003 to about 7,100 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not exactly the Black Plague... eh? More like the black and blue variety... Only the not lonely enough for their own good know its effects...

The CDC attributed the spike to a twelvefold rise in cases among gay and bisexual men, many of whom are also infected with the AIDS virus. Oops - now this is getting serious folks...

Lukehart studied 114 syphilis samples from Seattle, San Francisco, Baltimore and Dublin, Ireland, finding 28 percent were resistant to azithromycin, including 88 percent of the Dublin samples. Bloody hell; there seems to be no pot of gold at the end of this downpour... heck, there sure isn't any rainbow in sight...

Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC's division of sexually transmitted disease prevention, said the agency is formulating a plan to test for resistant strains in some areas. Nice example of quick thinking - if the gays of San Fran and the terrorists of the IRA are feeling woozy and demented from azithromycin treatment, they won't be in any condition to go around spreading the disease elsewhere... And they can do some good by testing new ways to deal with this damnable resistant strain... Aye, verily, we are all in this fight together...! Kudos, Doctor Douglas! ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Kissing under the mistletoe

Thinking of stealing a big wet one there in the coming hours... days?
HA - read this first, you humanoids...! ;)

"Kissing under the mistletoe is first found associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites. They probably originated from two beliefs. One belief was that it has power to bestow fertility. It was also believed that the dung from which the mistletoe would also possess "life-giving" power. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. Later, the eighteenth-century English credited with a certain magical appeal called a kissing ball. At Christmas time a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments, cannot refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. If the girl remained unkissed, she cannot expect not to marry the following year. In some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry. Whether we believe it or not, it always makes for fun and frolic at Christmas celebrations. Even if the pagan significance has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries as well as in Canada. Thus if a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. In France, the custom linked to mistletoe was reserved for New Year's Day: "Au gui l'An neuf" (Mistletoe for the New Year). Today, kisses can be exchanged under the mistletoe any time during the holiday season..."

This despite the fact somebody has ventured to spread the rumor -on the internet, of course... the rumor mill of the new millennium, indubitably- that a kiss under the mistletoe is verily... the kiss of death!
Wait a second... there was no mistletoe when Lita planted a big one on Trish Stratus two weeks ago on Monday Night Raw... and then proceeded to beat the Christmas cheer as stuffing out of her - in the ring! *lol*

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Of Kwanzaa, Hanukkah... and Yalda!

The TRUTH about Kwanzaa (not according to me... whoa, no! According to Tony Snow!)

Dec. 31, 1999/22 Teves, 5760 by Tony Snow

BLACKS IN AMERICA have suffered an endless series of insults and degradations, the latest of which goes by the name of Kwanzaa.

Ron Karenga (aka Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga) invented the seven-day feast (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) in 1966, branding it a black alternative to Christmas. The idea was to celebrate the end of what he considered the Christmas-season exploitation of African Americans.

According to the official Kwanzaa Web site -- as opposed, say, to the Hallmark Cards Kwanzaa site -- the celebration was designed to foster "conditions that would enhance the revolutionary social change for the masses of Black Americans" and provide a "reassessment, reclaiming, recommitment, remembrance, retrieval, resumption, resurrection and rejuvenation of those principles (Way of Life) utilized by Black Americans' ancestors."

Karenga postulated seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith, each of which gets its day during Kwanzaa week. He and his votaries also crafted a flag of black nationalism and a pledge: "We pledge allegiance to the red, black, and green, our flag, the symbol of our eternal struggle, and to the land we must obtain; one nation of black people, with one GOD of us all, totally united in the struggle, for black love, black freedom, and black self-determination."

For more information about African tribal violence and a real look at Black Africa visit: Welcome to Africa


Now, the point: There is no part of Kwanzaa that is not fraudulent. Begin with the name. The celebration comes from the Swahili term "matunda yakwanza," or "first fruit," and the festival's trappings have Swahili names -- such as "ujima" for "collective work and responsibility" or "muhindi," which are ears of corn celebrants set aside for each child in a family.

Unfortunately, Swahili has little relevance for American blacks. Most slaves were ripped from the shores of West Africa. Swahili is an East African tongue.

To put that in perspective, the cultural gap between Senegal and Kenya is as dramatic as the chasm that separates, say, London and Tehran. Imagine singing "GOD Save the Queen" in Farsi, and you grasp the enormity of the gaffe.

Worse, Kwanzaa ceremonies have no discernible African roots. No culture on earth celebrates a harvesting ritual in December, for instance, and the implicit pledges about human dignity don't necessarily jibe with such still-common practices as female circumcision and polygamy. The inventors of Kwanzaa weren't promoting a return to roots; they were shilling for Marxism. They even appropriated the term "ujima," which Julius Nyrere cited when he uprooted tens of thousands of Tanzanians and shipped them forcibly to collective farms, where they proved more adept at cultivating misery than banishing hunger.

Even the rituals using corn don't fit. Corn isn't indigenous to Africa. Mexican Indians developed it, and the crop was carried worldwide by white colonialists.

The fact is, there is no Ur-African culture. The continent remains stubbornly tribal. Hutus and Tutsis still slaughter one another for sport.

Go to Kenya, where I taught briefly as a young man, and you'll see endless hostility between Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Masai. Even South African politics these days have more to do with tribal animosities than ideological differences.

Moreover, chaos too often prevails over order. Warlords hold sway in Somalia, Eritrea, Liberia and Zaire. Genocidal maniacs have wiped out millions in Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia. The once-shining hopes for Kenya have vanished.

Detroit native Keith Richburg writes in his extraordinary book, "Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa," that "this strange place defies even the staunchest of optimists; it drains you of hope ..."

Richburg, who served for three years as the African bureau chief for The Washington Post, offers a challenge for the likes of Karenga: "Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I'll throw it back in your face, and then I'll rub your nose in the images of rotting flesh."

His book concludes: "I have been here, and I have seen -- and frankly, I want no part of it. .... By an accident of birth, I am a black man born in America, and everything I am today -- my culture and my attitudes, my sensibilities, loves and desires -- derives from that one simple and irrefutable fact."

Nobody ever ennobled a people with a lie or restored stolen dignity through fraud. Kwanzaa is the ultimate chump holiday -- Jim Crow with a false and festive wardrobe. It praises practices -- "cooperative economics, and collective work and responsibility" -- that have succeeded nowhere on earth and would mire American blacks in endless backwardness.

Our treatment of Kwanzaa provides a revealing sign of how far we have yet to travel on the road to reconciliation. The white establishment has thrown in with it, not just to cash in on the business, but to patronize black activists and shut them up.

This year, President Clinton signed his fourth Kwanzaa proclamation. He crooned: "The symbols and ceremony of Kwanzaa, evoking the rich history and heritage of African Americans, remind us that our nation draws much of its strength from our diversity."

But our strength, as Richburg points out, comes from real principles: tolerance, brotherhood, hard work, personal responsibility, equality before the law. If Americans really cared about racial healing, they would focus on those ideas -- and not on a made-up rite that mistakes segregationism for spirituality and fiction for history.

Tony Snow is a columnist for the Detroit News


Food writer Adell Schneer explains the meaning of Hanukkah

Hanukkah often gets depicted as the Jewish version of Christmas. Though the two holidays fall at the same time of year, they are actually very different. Hanukkah, a festival of lights, is rich in history and meaning. Adell Schneer, a food writer for Canadian Living, shares what Hanukkah means to her.

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after the victory of the Maccabees around 165 BCE. After a three-year-long uprising against the ruling Assyrian-Greek regime, the Maccabees recaptured the temple and restored it to its traditional Jewish service.

The word Hanukkah, Hebrew for 'dedication,' refers to the rededication of the temple after it had been defiled. According to tradition, only enough oil was found to light the temple menorah for one night. Miraculously, the small amount of oil burned for eight days. We celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the hannukiah, a menorah holding nine candles, while reciting blessings.

In our family, just before dinner our kids take turns each night lighting the candles. On the first night, we light the shamash (servant) candle and the first candle. On the second night, the shamash and two candles and so on until the eighth and final night, when we light all the candles. While lighting the candles, we recite blessings and sing traditional Hanukkah songs.


Yalda (also called Chelleh) is the night of the birth of the unconquerable Sun, or Mehr. This occasion offers a great opportunity to get closer to your loved ones. So send warm messages. Is it a mere coincidence that these two celebration are so close to each other, Christmas is celebrated on Dec. the 25th. and YALDA is celebrated on the night of Dec. the 21th. the night before the first day of winter? Hmm...

Yalda, a Syric word imported into the Persian language by the Syric Christians means birth (tavalud and melaad are from the same origin). It is a relatively recent arrival and it is refereed to the "Shab e Cheleh Festival" a celebration of Winter Solstice on December 21st. Forty days before the next major Persian festival "Jashn e Sadeh" this night has been celebrated in countless cultures for thousands of years. The ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia (God of Agriculture, Saturn) and Sol Invicta (Sun God) are amongst the best known in the Western world.

In most ancient cultures, including Persia, the start of the solar year has been marked to celebrate the victory of light over darkness and the renewal of the Sun. For instance, Egyptians, four thousand years ago celebrated the rebirth of the sun at this time of the year. They set the length of the festival at 12 days, to reflect the 12 divisions in their sun calendar. They decorated with greenery, using palms with 12 shoots as a symbol of the completed year, since a palm was thought to put forth a shoot each month.

The Persians adopted their annual renewal festival from the Babylonians and incorporated it into the rituals of their own Zoroastrian religion. The last day of the Persian month Azar is the longest night of the year, when the forces of Ahriman are assumed to be at the peak of their strength. While the next day, the first day of the month "Day" known as "khoram rooz" or "khore rooz" (the day of sun) belongs to Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom. Since the days are getting longer and the nights shorter, this day marks the victory of Sun over the darkness. The occasion was celebrated in the festival of "Daygan" dedicated to Ahura Mazda, on the first day of the month "Day"

(I must say at this point - I like the sound of that! Victory of Light over darkness... the first day belonging to the Lord of Wisdom... all things that truly befit... a luminous blog! If I do say so myself... *LOL*).

Fires would be burnt all night to ensure the defeat of the forces of Ahriman. There would be feasts, acts of charity and a number of deities were honored and prayers performed to ensure the total victory of sun that was essential for the protection of winter crops. There would be prayers to Mithra (Mehr) and feasts in his honor, since Mithra is the Eyzad responsible for protecting "the light of the early morning" known as "Havangah" It was also assumed that Ahura Mazda would grant people's wishes, specially those with no offspring had the hope to be blessed with children if performed all rites on this occasion.

One of the themes of the festival was the temporary subversion of order. Masters and servants reversed roles. The king dressed in white would change place with ordinary people. A mock king was crowned and masquerades spilled into the streets. As the old year died, rules of ordinary living were relaxed. This tradition persisted till Sassanian period, and is mentioned by Biruni and others in their recordings of pre-Islamic rituals and festivals. Its' origin goes back to the Babylonian New Year celebration. These people believed the first creation was order that came out of chaos. To appreciate and celebrate the first creation they had a festival and all roles were reversed. Disorder and chaos ruled for a day and eventually order was restored and succeeded at the end of the festival.

The Egyptian and Persian traditions merged in ancient Rome, in a festival to the ancient god of seedtime, Saturn. The Romans exchanged gifts, partied and decorated their homes with greenery. Following the Persian tradition, the usual order of the year was suspended. Grudges and quarrels forgotten, wars would be interrupted or postponed. Businesses, courts and schools were closed. Rich and poor became equal, masters served slaves, and children headed the family. Cross-dressing and masquerades, merriment of all kinds prevailed. A mock king, the Lord of Misrule, was crowned. Candles and lamps chased away the spirits of darkness.

Another related Roman festival celebrated at the same time was dedicated to Sol Invictus ("the invincible sun" Originally a Syrian deity, this cult was imported by Emperor Heliogabalus into Rome and Sol was made god of the state. With the spread of Christianity, Christmas celebration became the most important Christian festival. In the third century various dates, from December to April, were celebrated by Christians as Christmas. January 6 was the most favored day because it was thought to be Jesus' Baptismal day (in the Greek Orthodox Church this continues to be the day to celebrate Christmas). In year 350, December 25 was adopted in Rome and gradually almost the entire Christian Church agreed to that date, which coincided, with Winter Solstice and the festivals, Sol Invicta and Saturnalia. Many of the rituals and traditions of the pagan festivals were incorporated into the Christmas celebration and are still observed today.

It is not clear when and how the world "Yalda" entered the Persian language. The massive persecution of the early Christians in Rome brought many Christian refugees into the Sassanin Empire and it is very likely that these Christians introduced and popularized "Yalda" in Iran. Gradually "Shab e Yalda" and "Shab e Cheleh" became synonymous and the two are used interchangeably.

With the conquest of Islam the religious significance of the ancient Persian festivals was lost. Today "Shab e Cheleh" is merely a social occasion, when family and friends get together for fun and merriment. Different kinds of dried fruits, nuts, seeds and fresh winter fruits are consumed. The presence of dried and fresh fruits is reminiscence of the ancient feasts to celebrate and pray to the deities to ensure the protection of the winter crops.

The Iranian Jews, who are amongst the oldest inhabitants of the country, in addition to "Shab e Cheleh" also celebrate the festival of "Illanout" (tree festival) at around the same time. Their celebration of Illanout is very similar to Shab e Cheleh celebration. Candles are lit; all varieties of dried and fresh winter fruits will have to be present. Special meals are prepared and prayers are performed. There are also very similar festivals in many parts of Southern Russia that are identical to "Shab e Cheleh" festival with local variations. Sweet breads are baked in shape of humans and animals. Bon fires are made; dances are performed that resemble crop harvesting. Comparison and detailed studies of all these celebrations no doubt will shed more light on the forgotten aspects of this wonderful and ancient festival, where merriment was the main theme of the festival. Happy Shab e Cheleh.

Courtesy of Massoume Price.

Monday, December 20, 2004


NEW YORK (Reuters) - A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression.

Twenty-three-year-old painter Christopher Savido's painting 'Bush Monkeys,' a portrait of President Bush, at the Animal gallery on New York City's Lower East Side, made quite a splash... The portrait of Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression.

"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month.

The show featured art from the upcoming issue of Animal Magazine, a quarterly publication featuring emerging artists.

"We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild."

Turco took the show down on Saturday and moved the art work to his small downtown Animal Gallery. Calls to the management of Chelsea Market for comment were not returned.

From afar, the painting offers a likeness of Bush, but when you get closer you see the image is made up of chimpanzees or monkeys swimming in a marsh.

Savido, 23, said he was surprised by the strong reaction to his painting, listed in the catalog at $3,500.

"It seems like people got a kick out of it," Savido said. "When they really see it, they almost do a double-take. I like to get a reaction from people."

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-bred artist said he was happy for all the attention paid to his work but said the decision to shutter the exhibit was "a blatant act of censorship."

Savido plans to auction the painting and donate proceeds to an organization dedicated to freedom of expression.

"This is much deeper than art. This is fundamental American rights, freedom of speech," Savido said. "To see that something like this can happen, especially in a place like New York City is mind boggling and scary."
Quite obviously, the "manager" who rained on the whole monkey parade is not an evolutionist... In the light of that, and despite my anti-Bush sentiments, I must say... kudos to him! ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

no referendum

Martin says no to same-sex marriage referendum News Staff
With Luminous Commentary every now and then... when the fancy hits me, really...! *LOL*

Prime Minister Paul Martin gave a frosty (how seasonal of him - although I would've thought of him as more of a Rudolph type... with Dubya as Satan... I mean, Santa... of course... ;) reception last Sunday to holding a national referendum on same-sex marriage, saying the issue belongs in the House of Commons.

"I think that this is an issue that Parliamentarians ought to decide," Martin said before addressing a brunch in his Montreal-area riding.
(Figures he'd be riding Montreal... and riling everybody else really...!!!).

"The courts have now given their direction. (Sure... the precipice is THAT way...! With direction(s) like that, you can't miss, Paulie my man...!) I think it's one for Parliament and I think that Parliament ought to accept their responsibility." and the blame that comes with it... eh?

And Martin wasn't alone in giving the referendum concept the cold shoulder.
Historically - hell, NO! Most Quebecker politicians have no use and see no point in asking or even knowing -much less acknowledging- "what the people want"... then again, judging from the past two American elections -and we all know that Canadians are American Imitators- "the people don't know WHAT the hell they want... and always make the WRONGEST choice in the end... hence Paulie is STILL where he was at... and so remained Dubya!

John Reynolds, the federal Conservative House Leader said his party won't push for a national referendum either, despite what Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says.

"That's Ralph," John Reynolds told CTV's Question Period on Sunday, "and Ralph is Ralph." No amounts of cream pies in the face will ever make Klein change... nope! Good ol' Ralph...

Klein told CTV's Calgary affiliate CFCN Friday he's "thoroughly disappointed" the Supreme Court gave Ottawa the go-ahead last week to redefine marriage and urged people to lobby for a national referendum. Not gonna happen

On Sunday in Montreal, Martin said the political action he's interested in will happen on the floor of the House of Commons. Sounds dirty to me...

Martin's sentiments were echoed over the weekend by his Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler, who slammed the idea of a plebiscite. That is something he learned from his namesake, Irwin R. Schyster, aka I.R.S. - who used to slam tax cheats across the land and bodyslam fakes and frauds like... well, like him and any politician now that I think about it...! *LOL* And... FHomers? No - a plebiscite is NOT a website... nor is it any form of killing; that would have to end with "-cide"!

"He's trying to do an end run around the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Cotler said of Klein's position. "And it's not going to work." Kudos to Klein for trying... eh? As I said, good ol' Ralph...!

Harper against idea, too. Yeah... He think it bad, bad idea... no good... no... Sheesh, CTV guys - the syntax patrol must have been fast asleep last week... eh?

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper hasn't demanded a referendum but still accused the Martin Liberals of being undemocratic. Thus, next month's pay-per-view will feature a free-for-all elimination match inside a steel cage - the Martin Liberals versus the Harper... Viscerals? *LOL*

"It's clear to me that with or without a referendum, this government didn't want a democratic decision. This government wanted the court to settle the issue for it and the court refused to do so," he told reporters. So what now? We flip a coin? Let it be an impartial coin... not a gay coin now...! *LOL*

However, Harper remains opposed to same-sex marriage and said the issue now is whether Martin will allow a free vote when the bill is introduced. Sure... Free love worked for its time... now a free vote should settle THIS type of debate easy... ahhhhh - the irony!!! To think that one freebie led to the other too...! (Get it?)

"I think the total change of the definition of marriage is not what Canadians want and so I think Mr. Martin's on the wrong side of that." Truth is, Canadians and North Americans in general, for the most part anyway, are so damn confused nowadays that they have no idea anymore what the definition of marriage is anymore... Correct, folks? Uh? UH? Ok, never mind that...

NDP Member of Parliament, Bill Siksay, told Question Period his party does not support the idea of a national plebiscite on the issue. So what...?!? Nobody cares what the NDP supports or not... they are like unto a whole party full of political entities that could be likened to Canadian equivalents of the other Ralph - Nader! (Gosh - a whole party of Naders!). Who listens to him... hmm?

"I don't think you put basic human rights to a national referendum. I think this is a place where parliamentarians have to take our responsibility seriously." The next logical step: Quebec an independent country by 2006 - and Canada a dictature by 2009! *LOL*

But doing just that may stir up political controversy, warns Ontario Liberal MP Pat O'Brien, who says the vote in the House could be very tight. No - Pat is no relation to Conan O'Brien... But maybe to that bodacious CNN hostess with the mostest - might be the reason why CNN ignores Canada so much... eh?

"It's an uphill fight, but closer than some people would like to believe it is," O'Brien told CTV from his home riding in London, Ont. Yes - Pat was riding his house - sitting atop his cathedral roofing and going "hi-ho silver...!". Crazy politicians... Next month's quirky pat-per-view moments will include Pat chasing frozen stiff windmills... And in his spare time, he hosts Access Hollywood...

After the Supreme Court decision was announced, Martin said legislation extending marriage to same-sex couples will be introduced. With Paul playing the trumpet, George the base... and Ringo might be back to play drums...?

The bill will go what's known as a "two-line whip" vote in the House of Commons. That means cabinet ministers will have to vote for the bill. However, backbench MPs will be free to vote as they choose. A two-line whip... eh? A modern-day two-edged sword...?!?

O'Brien said Martin should let all of his MPs -- including cabinet ministers -- vote as they wish. 'Once in a lifetime' And Santa will also be bringing Sheila Copps her own seat, spot, PARTY - why not?

"Let them vote their conscience," O'Brien said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-career issue." To fully get in the spirit of the proceedings, the MPs might be encouraged to contemplate who would be their same-sex spouse one day... As they say, walk the walk when you talk the talk...

And, while O'Brien would not name names, he suggested one cabinet minister will vote against the bill. Somebody who has balls... indubitably! Whoever it is.

"I know one friend in cabinet who has said, 'I'm gone if I have to tow the party line on this.'" Tow? Simply start singing "Row Row Row The Boat" and ye shall see the rest of the party follow like ducklings...

Northern Development Minister Joe Comuzzi signaled Thursday he might break ranks. He said he can't break an election promise he made to constituents to fight same-sex marriage. A mid-card match-up on next month's pay-per-view; Comuzzi versus the Cause... without much of a cause, really...!

Taking a closer look at support for the legislation, it appears the 54 Bloc and 19 NDP MPs would vote for it. Of course - once a Blockhead, always a blockhead... eh?

There are 134 Liberal MPs. If 39 Liberal cabinet ministers vote for the legislation, that means as many as 87 Liberal MPs could vote in favour of the legislation while 47 could vote against it and it would still pass. Don't you just love numbers... eh?

Of the 99 Conservative MPs only one, Belinda Stronach, has said she will vote in favour of the same-sex legislation. She is looking forward to catching her first bouquet at her first big-time lesbian wedding...

That leaves 98 MPs who could vote against the bill. Uh... okay...

It's not certain how the two independents, former Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish and Chuck Cadman will vote. Is there any doubt - against anything Paulie is for! Politicians are a vindicative lot...

With a total of 308 seats in the House, the bill would need 155 votes to pass. With all that, Canadians can never again make fun of the American "electoral votes"

Meanwhile, veteran hockey star Brett Hull put the whole controversy in perspective this way on NBC's Saturday Night Live: "Well, that's what happens in Canada when there's no hockey." I actually have, personally, a whole lot more things to blame on the damn NHL, the NHLPA, the lockout and Gary Bettman - curse them all to hell!
With files from CTV's Question Period and from The Canadian Press

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