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Holidays

The Last Most Beautiful Thing Not Yet Ruined

No matter how snow-sparkled and gingerbread-housed your childhood may have been, working a retail gig at Christmastime is enough to turn anyone into a total Scrooge. I spent a good 15-plus years vending knickknacks and gift certificates to an only occasionally grateful public, and I’ve gotta say—it changed me, maybe not for the better.

Yes, I’ve endured hearing A Charlie Brown Christmas on repeat hour after hour, week after week, until the Vince Guaraldi Trio became the stuff of nightmares. I’ve borne customer bellyaches about out of stock items, pawing listlessly through the back room for products I knew perfectly well wouldn’t be unearthed until January. I’ve been on the receiving end of customer jeremiads for no other reason than that—shocker—the store was really busy. And by no means did I suffer the worst of what the season has to offer. Can you blame me for feeling decidedly meh this time of year, even if it’s been ages since I had to touch a cash register?

And the point is, folks, that Albuquerque’s Twinkle Light Parade is coming and you’ve got one more day to register your floats.

But I’m not entirely a lost cause, because one thing still has the capacity to rise above it all. One sparkling night of cheer, one public act of guileless sweetness. One word that cannot be said angrily or critically.

Twinkle.

You’re with me, right? Twinkle is the most cheerful word I know. Twinkle twinkle twinkle. I get giddy just typing it. Twinkle! And the point is, folks, that Albuquerque’s Twinkle Light Parade is coming and you’ve got one more day to register your floats.

Choose from one of nine categories of (try “Misfit”—that sounds like a good one, doesn’t it?) and pay your entry fee (nada for government, $25 for single families and single vehicles of a non-commercial nature, $50 for nonprofits, schools and community entries, and $100 for commercial entries). Visit the city website for deets and the application—the deadline is mañana, Friday, Nov. 15. The parade happens in conjunction with Nob Hill’s Shop and Stroll on Dec. 7.

Holidays

A St. Pat’s playlist

Play Youtube Video
The Dubliners with Shane McGowan — The Irish Rover
I have a good friend who refers to me as "green-sweater Irish," meaning that like many St. Paddy's Day revelers, I only give creedence to the Emerald Isle one day a year. It also means that I don't know shite about the culture and have no place associating myself with it.

For the record, I heavily contest all of these counts against my perceived lack of Irishness. As evidence, many of my favorite authors and musicians are Irish (I've listened to The Pogues so many times that I believe it's contributed to my perilous dental condition).

My dad also claimed to be a quarter Irish, which, given my mom's Eastern European genes, would make me about an eighth.

So there's a start.

Beyond that, I enjoy potatoes and drinking. And by drinking, I don't mean swilling a concoction of Natural Light and Green No. 3 through a plastic tube hanging from a balcony.

OK, I'll admit I've done that.

But my Irishness (or lack thereof) aside, I thought I should bless you fair readers with a few musical gems to commemorate this fond anniversary of a drunk beating at serpents in the woods. Or whatever it was that happened—this holiday, like my beloved Casimir Pulaski Day, is kinda hard to pin down.

So here are a couple great Irish songs. And no, you won't find any of that feckin' Flogging Molly shite on this list:

Play Youtube Video
Luke Kelly — Black Velvet Band

Play Youtube Video
The Pogues — Dirty Old Town
Play Youtube Video
Steve Earle — The Galway Girl
Play Youtube Video
The Auld Triangle, written by the great Brendan Behan and performed by The Dubliners
Play Youtube Video
The Wolfe Tones — Come Out Ye Black and Tans
Play Youtube Video
Joe Heaney — Caroline And Her Young Sailor Bold

More Videos

Holidays

Casimir Pulaski Day

Casimir Pulaski: big-time Polish hero.
Casimir Pulaski: big-time Polish hero.
Yep, break out the kielbasa, it’s Pulaski Day. What, who, huh, you ask? Casimir Pulaski, I reply: the great Polish leader who did a lot of noble things and is the only Pole I know of who has his own holiday in the U.S.

Still not ringing a bell? OK, I’ll try and break it down for you.

I was having a heated debate the other night with a friend over who had a richer wealth of achievements, my Polish forebears or his ... well, let’s keep this about the Poles.

Friend: So, what have you guys contributed to the greater good of humanity?

Me: Hm, well every culture has some form of stuffed dumpling. The Polish version of this is pierogis, which are unquestionably the best stuffed dumpling around. Can’t argue with that. Then there’s kielbasa, galobki and of course, vodka. The Russians completely stole the idea of vodka from us and now take all the cred. In fact, those mink hat-wearing—

Friend: OK, OK, but outside of your country’s irrefutable culinary prominence, what have the Poles done for society? I can’t even think of a famous Pole ...

Nicolaus Copernicus: Pole, star guy, genius.
Nicolaus Copernicus: Pole, star guy, genius.
Me: Sure. Let’s start with Copernicus. Great astronomer. Did a lot of big things to further the field of astronomy. He was the first person to realize the universe doesn’t actually revolve around us. Not only was he a genius, but he was humble. Copernicus—topnotch astronomer. Great guy. We also had Chopin.

Friend: OK, I’ll give you those, but what about world leaders? Lech Walesa was alright, but he wasn’t exactly JFK.

Me: That’s an easy one. Caz the Great.

Friend: Huh?

Me: Casimir Pulaski. Great Polish leader. Probably the greatest of all great Polish leaders. In Chicago, where I’m from, and where our Polish population is second only to Warsaw in numbers, Pulaski Day is a big-time holiday. Kids take off of school. There’s a huge parade. Everyone drinks vodka all day and sings “Sto Lat.”

Friend: Really?

Me: Well, no, not really. At least not the part about the celebrating. But still, Pulaski—great leader.

Friend: So what did he do?

Me: [Long pause.] Think he was a general. Did some big things during a revolution a long time ago. Anyway, Pulaski—a great Pole. Can’t argue with that.

Friend: Whatever.

Holidays

Oh, John Quincy!

A few years back former arts editor Erin Adair Hodges and I played a game of long-dead presidents Do, Date or Dump. Happy Presidents’ Day!

Holidays

Post-Christmas blues

“Aw shucks, Christmas is over.”
“Aw shucks, Christmas is over.”

For those of us with the Christmas spirit, it’s funny how much time and effort we put into an event that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Big-box stores start pushing Christmas miscellany in September, for Chrissakes. And I know people who put up their trees before Thanksgiving. It all leads up to two days of festivities and then, poof, it’s gone. A lot of folks are probably suffering post-partum depression in the wake of Baby Jesus’ birthday. Fortunately for entertainment’s sake, Alibi columnist John Bear is not one of those folks. Read his devilish Christmas column on India Knight’s novel Comfort & Joy here.

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