Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Merry Christmas, Baby
"I am so sick of that song," C muttered recently as we were grocery shopping in Shenzhen a couple days ago. I briefly abandoned my hunt for a box of eggs with a freshness date more recent than Oct 33(sic), 2003 and tuned into the overhead PA from which a wretched English language version of All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth was squawking.

"Me, too," I said. "Sick of it about 45 years ago. It's probably my least favorite Christmas song. Except for ..." Then the tune I was going to name segued into the rasping mix. Little Drummer Boy. "That one. I relocate halfway around the world to an officially aetheist country and still can't escape them."

Still she's expressed hope that we might buy a Christmas tree this year. An exotic wish from her point of view and a complete waste of money and space as far as I'm concerned. Especially given odd slant that Christmas takes in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Hong Kong is easily more organized, commercial, "western" -- and religous, in that there are easily hundreds - if not more - of various Christian churches and organizations, from store front to full bore mega congregations whereas Shenzhen has one state approved mondo non-denominational church, one large state-sanctioned Catholic congregation, and lots of underground cells. And the mainland in general doesn't recognize Christmas as anything more than a growing curiousity and commercial opportunity, much less an official holiday as in Hong Kong.

Still, at my friendly shopping mall neighborhood/residence in Hong Kong the prominent Christmas displays are, to put it politely, obscene even to my agnostic, Grinch-like sensibilities. Hong Kong Disneyland, which is still suffering from less-than-predicted attendance after a year in business, has rented space throughout the Telford Gardens mall during November and December to promote "The Academy of Princesses." It's Snow White, Cinderella, what's-her-fin from the Little Mermaid and about four others I don't recognize (oddly, no Mulan, the only strong Chinese female character, hell, Chinese character, strong, female or otherwise, period that Disney has ever spun) all in various "Christmas" theme displays.

It's all part of an overall effort by Disney to "educate" the Hong Kong populace about the Disney "story-telling tradition." Mickey, they know. Donald, kinda mostly. The rest...heh. Though Snow White and Cinderella, more so. So build on that; given Hong Kong's obsession with an unrealistic female beauty standard: anorexically thin, vampire white skin, cosmetically enlarged eyes, eternally age 20, mentally about 14, and an equally unrealistic, unhealthy obsession with certified rigid educational standards, and the concept of a pre-fab "Princess Academy" is perfect.

I grumble both grimly amused and aghast as throngs of HK shoppers flock to photograph themselvse and their children posed proudly (flashing the "V" sign, which means not "Peace" or even "Victory" here, only "Hey, I'm having my photo shot and don't know what to do with my hands!") in front of a life size display of a plastic Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs hovering around what appears to be mangercum cottage. No holy dwarf child in swaddling clothes, hell, not even a Santa to be found. He's not a Licensed Disney Character...yet. But the inference is clear. Snow White = Virgin Mary. Just gotta figure out what to do with those troublesome, old dwarf pervs she hangs out with. Seven wise guys?

You know, maybe a real tree -- if I could find one, Shenzhen manufactures about 98 percent of the artificial Christmas trees sold in the USA -- and C and I singing Away in a Manger followed by I Found the Brains of Santa Claus by Jason and the StrapTones ("I found the brains of Santa Claus underneath my bed, They were in a pickle jar, I wonder if he's dead...") as we deck the boughs might put me in just the right holiday mood.
Maybe the 7 dwarves equate to the 3 wise guys ("Hi ho ho ho, it's off to the East we go", and the evil witch is Herod...

In another week, or less if the kids prevail, we'll put some of the christmas cd's on the changer. Favorites include "Hillbilly Christmas", "Doowop Christmas" (gotta love all those circles of 4ths), and the Roches' "We Three Kings". Then we'll go out to 75th and Valmont and buy a charlie-brown tree, fresh cut in the hills west of here, I'll stand illegally on the top step of our 6 ft ladder to install the lights along the rooflines, and viola! (as we musicians say) the Christmas season will have officially begun.
What no "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"? So much for the "true" spirit of Christmas .....

You and C should figure out how and then have a wonderful Chritmas, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing.
And here I thought I was Christmas grumpy.
Well, for me it's "Santa Baby" that has got my circuits fried. It seems I can't step in to Home Depot (which I do most every morning) without hearing it...aaagghhh, at six a.m., no less. Interestingly, in trying to find out who sang it, I came across a good ol' boy Christmas song that might sit well on the musical palate...

Can anybody tell me why hard-rockers feel the need to take an old Christmas chestnut and do it in a "new" style? I don't need to hear Joan Jett sing "Drummer Boy" or Christine Aguilera leave her mark on "Silent Night". If it's going to be traditional, give me Perry Como...

So, you're in China looking for a real pine tree. I'm in Los Angeles and am just pleased as Planters Punch to finally have three pre-lit, probably made-in-China- Christmas trees. After years of coercing the kids to help decorate and light the trees it is now done in the twitch of a nose. Which leaves so much time for the thousands of lights on the outside of the house....somebody stop me!!...these, too, are undoubtedly made in China....

I'm with Don. Find a way to have a merry, merry Christmas, Justin.
The link was to "Leroy the Redneck Reindeer".
But some songs one never tires of: those dogs doing "Jingle Bells, for instance; anything by Alvin and his brothers; and of course my new favorite classic from 2003, my last Christmas in L.A.: "Mamacita, Donde esta Santa Claus?" ("Oh! Pancho, Oh! Vixen, Oh! Pedro, Oh! Blitzen, Ole! Ole! OLE! cha cha cha...")
See, I was under the impression that I could escape Xmas commercialism by coming to China. Then I get the questions of why I don't celebrate it. Wo shi youtairen! And they still don't understand that non-Christian Americans don't celebrate Christian holidays!

Did you see this article? Did this really happen?

From Christmas carols to the public shaming of alleged prostitutes and their pimps...

Yeah, Fred it did happen. I wasn't there, but here's a link to blog with a HK Chinese language paper's coverage of it with photos.

Interestingly, too, the blog's writer, a very smart, worldly fellow named Roland Soong also noted today thar in Denver "John TV" - a cable outlet there - is broadcasting the pics and IDs of busted Johns with no uproar.

"The city and county of Denver follow in the footsteps of other cities -- including Aurora, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; Oklahoma City; St. Paul, Minn.; and Kansas City, Mo. -- that print photographs of "johns" in newspapers, on TV or on the Web. They began the practice following requests from residents to help drive prostitutes out of neighborhoods.
Do you believe that this is what Shenzhen should be doing instead? This is completely consitutionally and legally alright in the United States of America,"
he wrote.
Thanks Justin for the informative reply.

actually, the difference between "john tv" shows in the US and the public displays in shenzhen is that the shenzhen johns and hos were not actually convicted or even tried. The y went from the holding tank to the street to jail. The US johns and hos were already tried and convicted.
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