austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Mistletoe hung where you can see every couple tries to stop.

The upstate returns aren't in yet despite threat of penalty but it looks we're finishing the year with December. That makes this a good chance to talk about putting up decorations for Christmas. Those who wish to discuss putting up decorations against Christmas may apply for equal time in care of this station and see just what sort of care they have been taking of their time. It would give everyone a good lesson.

The fundamental unit of Christmas decorating is the poinsettia, which has been cherished for several centuries, two decades, and a peculiar number of shillings and pence because when viewed from any angle and under any lighting conditions they appear to be spelled incorrectly. This encourages the enjoyable pastime of slightly rearranging any existing poinsettias to make the spelling look appropriate. In the event the spelling ever looks right, the pronunciation suddenly seems suspect.

It's natural to wonder if you have ever pronounced ``poinsettia'' correctly. Perhaps your friends and family discuss your performance mournfully once or twice each year. They could wonder if it's related to the time you rode the bicycle without a helmet, pedalling at full speed down that six-foot drop in the woods, and tumbled over into the bushes all the kids swore was poison ivy even though it didn't look like the descriptions you read and no one ever got an itch from it. You can stop thinking about this, as they are much more worried about the selection and arrangement of consonants you use in saying ``often''. Enjoy instead the suspicious glare the cats give the plants. They were hoping for chrysanthemums, which are at least as perilous.

The tradition of putting lights on trees is the descendant of the tradition of putting lit candles on trees, and is considerably safer as it is so much easier to turn these trees off. In extreme cases the lights may also be turned off. Meanwhile the tradition of putting lit candles on the trees is an understandable reversal, for the sake of convenience, of the tradition of putting trees on lit candles. While putting trees on lit candles was festive and produced a hearty glow it could also lead to natural disaster, as in the Deforestation of Prague 1618. The lights are grown on balata rubber trees in tropical rain forests, where the lights serve as a way of attracting insects. The habit of these lights to wink out confuses and aggravates the insects, which shows what sort of tricks plants have always liked to play with animals.

While the vines of lights may be easily trimmed off the original and then grafted or budded onto a Christmas-model tree, the lights will feel an ineffable sadness at not having so many insects to taunt anymore. Those concerned with the mental health of their lights may wish to stand around the tree,admiring the lights which are on and looking disappointed when they turn off, which can extend the life of the strands of light by weeks at the cost of standing staring at lights and making broad faces -- Christmas lights have little appreciation for subtler acting and would love music-hall comedies if they ever saw one, so keep the secret -- for those weeks.

Tinsel is in truth no such thing. What we commonly call tinsel is artificial tinsel, invented by employees of the Hercules Powder Company who thought hard about the saying ``you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'' and, inspired, did not. They hoped the artificial tinsel -- quickly applied to artifices, so that the adjective was thought to be redundant and soon transferred to a more confusing phrase -- would aid the United States in its war effort. However, as they invented it in 1926 and the United States had no particular war efforts they instead lost the formula and donated it to the Sterno corporation, property of the Boy Scouts.

Once one has selected one's decorations, place them in reasonable places in a tasteful composition and enjoy apart from the routine maintenance which should take no more than one-third your sleeping hours, typically the second, fifth, and every third hour afterward.

Trivia: Boston television station W1XAV was not paid for its 1930 broadcast of the first known television advertisement, a furrier commercial appearing during CBS Radio's The Fox Trappers. (They broadcast a video counterpart to the radio.) The Federal Radio Commission ruled the video commercial illegal. Source: Please Stand By: A Prehistory of Television, Michael Ritchie.

Currently Reading: Starshine, Theodore Sturgeon.

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