Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Got a minute? I have something really important to tell you.

On the afternoon of December 25th, whilst driving with Mrs. RWP the 30 miles to our son's home for the Brague family get-together (total in attendance: 15 , or 17 if you count Chester the dog and Gracie the cat) , I turned the radio on in our car (which vehicle was recently upgraded to a 2006 Nissan Murano with 107,000 miles from a 2000 Toyota Camry with 324,000 miles and now we are only a decade behind the consumer paradise where the automobile industry's incessant commercials tell us every right-thinking citizen should be instead of a decade-and-a-half) . It being Christmas and all, the regularly scheduled talk-radio programs (Can you say Rush? Can you say Sean?) had been replaced by four-hours of pre-recorded holiday music entitled "Mannheim Steamroller's American Christmas" -- I know it was pre-recorded because (1) the very same four-hour tape was broadcast on the afternoon of December 24th as well and (2) the talent presented included stuff like Bing Crosby singing "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and a male-female duo who reminded me of but were not Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and what sounded like a very young Barbra Streisand singing, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" -- stuff nobody but old geezers whose minds are gone and whose muscles are too atrophied to stretch out their hands and change the station would listen to for more than five minutes.

I said all that to say this.

After every third or fourth song, the music was interrupted by somebody from Mannheim Steamroller telling all of us in the vast listening audience some supposedly interesting fact about the season. One of these non-musical segments was about our old friend Santa Claus and his counterparts in various countries of the world. What nearly made me drive off the road was that after the man with the radio-trained voice said that in England Santa Claus is known as Father Christmas, he told us that in France he is called Pierre Noël.

You read that correctly. Pierre Noël.

Au contraire, my golden-voiced, misinformed, highly paid friend. In France Santa Claus is not called Pierre Noël (Peter Christmas) . He is called Père Noël (Father Christmas) .

I'm so glad we had this time together.

I feel so much better now.


  1. Sigh. The familiarity of that man. I am sure that Father Christmas never, ever gave him permission to call him by his first name without an honorific.

  2. I have every sympathy because it's the sort of thing that drives me nuts. For the record, Santa Claus is pretty much universal in the UK these days, or rather Santa as it is shortened, so wasting fewer syllables in these increasingly lazy times. Which is a shame because Father Christmas has quite different origins from St Nicholas and the Dutch Sinterklass.

  3. I thought he was just joking as I read it as père.
    Have a really good 2016.

  4. Happy New Year to one and all!

    Elephant's Child (Sue), are you sure that Père Noël's first name is Pierre? It might be Alphonse or Gaston or Nicholas or even Vladimir, but I don't think it's Pierre.

    Shooting Parrots (Ian), perhaps clever parents invented characters like Sinterklass, Rumpelstiltskin, and Vlad the Impaler to keep their children docile and obedient. Stranger things have happened.

    Adrian, he wasn't joking. He just didn't know how to pronounce French or thought there was a typo in the script.

  5. You listen to Rush and Sean? Really, you do? I ask you in all seriousness, my friend, are they consistent with: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things”?

    I used to listen to Bill O’Reilly who is probably even more hate-filled than Rush or Sean, and even though I disagreed with almost everything he said, I noticed that his hatred was seeping into me. I also noticed that little of what he said was true because I contacted some of the people and organizations he referred to, or at least read news articles about them. For example, if he said that some school committed such-and-such an outrage, I would find that he had twisted the incident into something very different from what actually occurred. I also frequently listened to Sean, and found that he would consistently do such things as to invite a vegan he was interviewing to a steak dinner, and otherwise mock people rather than listen to them. Anytime they came close to making a point, he would either cut them off or ask some irrelevant and insulting question. It actually hurts me to think that you listen to such people because I fully believe that regardless of one’s political and religious views, they pander to evil and are partly responsible for creating the mindset that allows for the rhetoric that is now common among Republican politicians. For example, the more hateful Trump is, the more popular he becomes among the very people who claim to follow Jesus. You claim to follow Jesus, yet you are very unlike Trump, but, still, you listen to these people on the radio, and I don’t understand it because, as I see it, they are so unlike Jesus, and this leads me to ask if they are truly consistent with your faith?

  6. Snowbrush, I have been a flaming liberal and I have been a flaming fundamentalist and now I find myself somewhere between those two extremes, a flaming moderate, but one thing I have never been, sad to say, is "truly consistent with my faith." No one is, truth be told. We all fall short or wander from the path. Try as I might, I'm all over the map. One day I'm up, one day I'm down, one day I'm left, one day I'm right. Well, not literally, but it sometimes seems that way from the vantage point of my advancing years. As far as listening to Rush and/or Sean goes, I'm willing to listen to just about anybody. Even you. Doesn't mean I accept what I hear, only that I'm willing to listen. I think I may have said on one or two occasions that when the whole world is advocating "A" I consider the merits of "B"....

  7. “I have never been, sad to say, is "truly consistent with my faith." No one is, truth be told. We all fall short or wander from the path.”

    Two thoughts, my friend. One is that we all do bad things, so our failure comes, not through individual acts, but when we keep repeating the same bad things endlessly without any sign of progress. The second is that Christ explicitly demanded perfection (“Be ye perfect…”), and said that he was going to send the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen his followers. If it’s true that Christians have the strength and guidance of God Almighty behind them, then surely they can be held to a higher standard than such benighted people as myself.

    If I may be so bold, the problem with conservative talk show hosts isn’t their values and attitudes but rather but rather their meanness, their pandering, their verifiable dishonesty, their stark division of the world into good and evil, and the fact that their arguments are emotion-driven instead of rational. I remember that Hannity used to say, “Three hours a day is all we ask,” and it’s true that if you listen to angry intolerant people for three hours a day, you will become as they are. I’m not saying that liberal talk show hosts are any better, just that they’re rare. In fact, the only one I can even name is Al Franken, and I doubt that he’s still on the air. The truth is that one doesn’t sell advertising by acknowledging complexity but by theatrics and by displaying no more depth and intelligence as a bumper sticker. There used to be a conservative talk show host that I liked, but it has been so long that I don’t remember his name. He was from Seattle, but he was national, and I think he has probably gone by now because he was actually intelligent. I guess the worst of all is Michael Savage who appears to dine on a big plate of excrement before every show.

    What do you think of NPR? I find it boring because I can rarely turn it on without hearing words like Isis or Syria in the very first sentence, but I also find it fair in that it will at least let callers and interviewees make their points. I never listen to commercial radio anymore, so all that leaves is NPR.