Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best. Coupon. Code. Ever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Spending Days

Let's just get this out of the way, right off the bat: I don't celebrate Christmas. When I lived in China this was inconceivable to people because they thought of Christmas as the quintessential American holiday. This was particularly evident in this classroom display my students prepared when I worked as a teacher.

I probably should have corrected their research, but quite frankly I knew it would be a losing battle. Because the truth is, for most people, the only religion involved in Christmas is worshiping in the church of consumerism. Usually it makes me roll my eyes and acknowledge the kernels of truth in American stereotypes. This year, however, I really do hope that the miracle of Christmas involves lots and lots of spending.

When you're a happy Christmas celebrant, all of the holiday hype is a jolly countdown to the day you get to stuff your face full of gingerbread to fuel a tornado of wrapping paper mayhem. For the rest of us, it's a countdown to the day when everyone shuts up about Christmas. For me personally, it's also a countdown to the day when going out in public no longer means having to endure the scent of artificial cinnamon. Something about it just makes my stomach churn.

While I normally spend the month of December perpetually muting the television, this holiday season I've found myself actually enjoying a great number of Christmas ads. There are still plenty of crappy eye-rollers out there, but I'm pleased to see a more inventive take on the big spending push.


I pretty much love any video that Pomplamoose puts together, but I particularly love that Hyundai reached out to some deserving YouTube stars and gave them exposure to a more mainstream audience. It's clever and forward-thinking.


I can't say enough times how much I adore Target's series of holiday ads. Not only are they catchy and easily recognizable as a brand, but the campaign branches out to offer free downloads of all the songs in their commercials. Check out their website to listen to the specially-written tunes.

Nintendo Wii

Last, but certainly not least, this is a genius move to sell parents on the idea of buying a Wii for their kids. Seriously, I bow down.

So get on out there and spend some money for the good of America. And please, if you work in retail, consider switching out that potpourri for a more pleasant scent. I suggest freshly baked sugar cookies. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waking the dead

As a lifetime insomniac (a fact I'm sure I've mentioned here on more than one occasion) I've tried just about everything to coax myself to sleep. When I was a teenager, what seemed to soothe my mind was memorizing poetry. Reading aloud, the repetition of lines was my version of counting sheep.

Now that I have a sound machine to calm my overactive neurons, my volumes of verse tend to be ignored more than they should be. I don't know if it's the gray day or the fact that I'm nursing a cold, but today I found comfort in one of my favorites.


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known---cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all---
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, my own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle---
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me---
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads---you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

(Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
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