Stupid Christmas Traditions

I don’t completely hate Christmas. After all, I’m not the grinch. But here’s a list of everything about Christmas that irritates me to the core.

1) Santa Claus 

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Where all the hos at?!

Honestly, I have never understood the whole premise behind Santa Claus. Maybe because, unlike most households, leaving cookies and milk for Santa wasn’t a Christmas tradition in my home while I was growing up.

We tell children that if they’re “good” all year, they are entitled to toys manufactured in the North Pole(of which they’ll probably get bored and promptly discard within the following two months)

I’m sorry, but that’s not how the real world works.

A person’s moral compass should not be influenced by the possibility of an external reward. Expecting goodies for “being good” is no different than sucking up!

Children should be taught the value of inner principles. They should view themselves as morally accountable to other people in addition to themselves.

Children should also realize that life, unfortunately, isn’t always fair. In other words, even if they’re as compassionate, kind-hearted and thoughtful as Mr.Rogers, life could still fuck them in the ass! It’s better for them to acknowledge that inescapable fact at an early age. Otherwise, we’re just hindering their potential at personal growth.

2) Christmas Songs

I know most people love the Holiday classics, however, when they’re endlessly played at restaurants, department stores, elevators, waiting rooms, the supermarket, office parties  etc., I start to consider seasoning my meals with a vial of cyanide!

3) The “War on Christmas”

Every holiday season, there’s always some right-wing abrasive blowhard on the radio (most likely, Rush Limbaugh) or some pompous blowhard on television (most likely, Bill O’Reilly) lamenting over a traumatic incident in which their local cashier had the audacity to wish them “Happy Holidays” rather than a “Merry Christmas”!

Oh, and on the flipside, you also have liberal atheists, with too much time on their hands, decrying over a bloody nativity display in the town square.

download-17I thought the holidays (yea I said “Holidays”..so sue me) were supposed to be the one time of year where we could avoid politicized bullshit. In fact, during this Christmas, I don’t want to hear anything about the recent election, Black Lives Matter, the Alt-Right, Political Correctness, ISIS or Castro’s supposed legacy. I really don’t care at this point. All I want to do is gluttonously stuff my mouth with pumpkin pie, decorated gingerbread cookies and eggnog.

People Complaining about Commercialization

Let’s be real. Consumerism is the real reason for the season. I mean Baby Jesus is cute and everything, but seasonal economic stimulation is the real miracle!

And by the way, no one is forcing you to shop! Get off your high horse!! 

Christmas Movies

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World’s worst parent

Holiday-themed films aren’t entirely terrible. However, they’re extremely overhyped, especially when they’re constantly being screened on every fucking channel during the entire month of December! Most of those movies are dated and only serve to indulge our nostalgic inclinations. For example, Home Alone was an unremarkably-scripted movie starring a very annoying child artist (although its sequel has a very notable cameo by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). However, as children, we all watched Home Alone and now, the movie triggers fond memories of a simpler time. This illustrates how memberberries can have an outstandingly potent effect on us

New Years Resolutions 

Oh, you say you going to start eating healthier and exercise more? So….What are you doing  with that glass of eggnog and that piece of pie? january-gymers


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Advice to My Future Daughter  

I don’t have any plans on having children anytime soon.  To be honest, I’m not even ready for a romantic relationship, nor do I envision myself ever being in such an arrangement ! But I often wonder about the future, contemplating on how things will turn out in 2035. Since childhood, I’ve dreamt about achieving super-saiyan mode by that year. Although, realistically speaking, I’d probably have to settle for a stable 9-5 office job.

There’s a higher chance I’ll remain a confirmed bachelor, as I enjoy my freedom and individuality with no incentive to relinquish either. The chances that I’ll invite someone to live with me in my fortress of solitude.

But who knows, maybe I’ll be enticed by a beautiful girl and have a couple of children.  If I do procreate like other members of my species, I imagine having one of each gender, a son and a daughter, similarly to my own parents.

Although I am currently childless., I am well aware that raising a daughter is different, and perhaps more challenging, than raising a son.  A girl’s world is drastically different from her male counterpart.  The pressure pushed on girls is something boys would never been able to relate to (myself included).

Fast forward to the year 2035.  The concept of the nation-state has been eradicated in favor of the New World Order, a dystopian society dictated by super-intelligent robots and antropomorphized Apple products…..
OK Fine!  Maybe that scenario is less likely to happen. Most likely, I’ll be living a quiet, yet content life with my own family.  I’ll be in my early 40’s.  Graying but hopefully not balding! My children will be approaching their teenage years and like all teenagers, they will be searching for their own identities.   The teenage years are a difficult time for everyone, and definitely more challenging for girls.  Here are some bits of advice I would give to my daughter in no particular order of importance.

The Mind
1) Our ability to reason separates us from the animals.  Always utilize your critical thinking skills in every situation
2) There is no such thing as useless knowledge.  The more you know, the further you will go.
3) Always find ways to enhance your reasoning skills.    Do Sudoku or play Chess regularly.  Believe me, it will pay off in the end.
4) Jog everyday and eat a healthy diet.  Your brain will thank you

Family Life
5) Loyality to family is important.
6) That being said, if a family member is doing something wrong or harmful, it is your responsibility to call them on it
7) If either your mother or I tell you to do something you don’t want, don’t just disobey us.  Formulate a rational argument against our request and we’ll consider it.
8) Both your mother and I are open-minded people.  You can come to us for anything, even if you are in trouble or are about to do something we may disapprove of.

Formulating Your Own Identity
9) We traditionally identify ourselves with either our ethnicity/nationality or our careers.  However, such methods of identification are completely arbitrary.  In reality, identity is fluid.  We are not the same people we are ten years ago…nor will we be the same in another 10 years.
10) Maintain your individuality.  You solely define who you are.  Never give in to peer pressure.
11) Some people think one’s purpose in life is pre-programmed within us by a deity.  However, I personally believe its up to the individual to determine his or her purpose.  If you want to give your own life meaning, experience the world.  Travel.  Read.  Network with people.  Volunteer and give back to society.  Be as productive as possible.

The Birds and the Bees
Your mother is going to handle the bulk of this topic for obvious reasons.  However, here are a few bits of advice I have for you
12) If there is such a thing as sacred, human sexuality falls under that category.  I can’t think of anything more beautiful than the physical oneness experienced by two people.  Its intoxicating and invigorating.  However, Sexuality is not something to be taken lightly.
13) I personally think notions of “sex after marriage” is outdated and unrealistic.  However, I strongly advice you on waiting until your early twenties before engaging in sex.  As a teenager, you wouldn’t be able to handle the emotional baggage associated with sexual intercourse.
14) Maintain standards for yourself. Something so intrinsically beautiful should be done with someone whom you have a strong passionate love for.
15) Its not common for a parent to advice safe sex, however, this is the real world.  Young people should have access to information in order to protect themselves.  You are young and you don’t want to do anything that could negatively affect the rest of your life.  So be safe.
16) Disregards words like “slut” and “prud”.  A person’s sexuality is his/her own business and is nothing to be ashamed of.

Surviving in a Boys World 
Even in the 21st century, there are girls are held to a different standard than boys. But you don’t have to be a second-class citizen in a semi-patriarchal world.
16) Don’t be afraid of words like “bossy”. In fact, take pride in them!
17) The world needs more girls in STEM fields.  The number of female computer programmers has decreased!  My advice is, if you’re good at mathematics and you love technology, nothing should prevent you from pursuing engineering.

Surviving in a Girls World
18) When drama happens within your circle of female friends, dissociate from it completely.  Do not get involved
19) Avoid gossip at all times.  People’s personal lives are none of your business!
20) If you feel that one of your own friends is talking behind your back, distance yourself from her.           Who needs friends like that?

Conquering Anxiety
If you’re my child, you have a 50% of having high levels of anxiety.  Here are some ways to avoid panic attacks.

21) Meditate.  Clear your mind every day.22) Don’t worry about things which you have no control over. Whatever happens, happens.  Just keep moving forward.

23) Be active in your community.  Believe me, engaging in community  activities will distract you from your own inner emotions.
24) Don’t be insecure around other people.  EVERY human being has his/ her own insecurities.  Don’t think of yourself as pathetic.
25) Everyone has flaws.  Don’t dwell on them.  Instead, focus on enhancing your positive attributes.
My biggest advice is know that I will always love you, unconditionally.  Do well in life, sweetheart 🙂

Movie Review: American Sniper

Before I dive into my critique of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, I want to elaborate on why I do film reviews. First, it goes without saying that I am an ardent cinephile. I’ve been in love with the art of filmmaking for as long as I can remember. If it wasn’t for my aversion towards the celebrity lifestyle, I definitely would have pursued a career in Hollywood (or Bollywood).

Second, I’m not the only one who loves movies. Everybody loves watching  movies. Everyone can quote random dialogues from films released twenty years ago. Some of our most cherished memories have been shaped around the movie-watching experience.

Therefore, films are one of the best mediums for social commentary. For decades, Filmmakers have utilized their craft to convey an important lesson to their audiences. Born on the Fourth of July poignantly captured the anguish and pain endured by numerous Vietnam veterans. Mummy Dearest (despite the unintentionally laughable acting) exposed the prevalence of child abuse. Inside Out persuaded us to get in touch with our inner emotions. Therefore, cinema has an incredibly tremendous impact on our culture.

This brings us to American Sniper. Clint Eastwood has continuously proved himself to be a sage in filmmaking. American Sniper is no exception. It was, no doubt, a brilliantly-produced masterpiece. In addition, Bradley Cooper was exceptional in the biographical role of Chris Kyle. In terms of film quality, I have nothing negative to say.

I watched this movie a year and a half ago in theaters with a couple of my friends. I remember the theatre room was packed, unsurprisingly. Upon the film’s conclusion, with the credits rolling through the depiction of Chris Kyle’s real life funeral, the theatre room fell into an eerie silence. As the screen went pitch-black, the silence continued. After a few moments, as my friends and I gathered our belongings, a spontaneous applause erupted. Some of the audience members had tears running down their cheeks.
The reason I’m telling this is to illustrate the depth of emotions this film evoked from the American public. In post-9/11 America, this movie had a cathartic impact on its viewers. Because of this film’s monumental significance, I’m even more disappointed by its distorted depictions of the events following 9/11.

The movie implies that 9/11 was the primary motive behind the US invasion of Iraq. That botched episode, which basically annihilated George W Bush’s credibility as president, was glorified in the film as a noble cause.

Ironically, Clint Eastwood is known for being firmly anti-war. He has vocally disapproved of American military engagements in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore, Eastwood insisted that American Sniper was written to be an anti-war film!

Although most have doubt his assertion, I actually believe him. Eastwood aspired to depict the disastrous effects war has on one’s mental health. He never intended to produce a historical documentary. Eastwood primarily wanted to illustrate how PTSD not only affects soldiers, but their families, especially their spouses who are pressured to pick up the pieces.

In order to accurately depict the impact of PTSD, Clint Eastwood did a character sketch of Chris Kyle and portray the battlefield through his eyes. Unfortunately, Chris Kyle’s subjective perspective completely obfuscated the historically-factual account of the Iraq War. Therefore, future generations watching this movie will have an inaccurate picture of the Iraq War.

American Sniper attempts to humanize a person famed for his 150 kills. Chris Kyle is depicted as being helplessly trapped in the shadows of moral ambiguity that envelopes over the reality of the battlefield. However, Chris Kyle’s autobiography confirms that he is a self -aggrandizing liar and a sadistic psychopath who takes pleasure in shooting defenseless Iraqi children! Kyle represents the worst of the US armed forces and does not deserve to be lionized in an cinematic production!

Nativity Display Controversy

A Christmas-themed controversy is currently brewing in Menominee, an town located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In numerous small towns across America, it’s customary to set up a nativity scene in the town square or in city hall during the holiday season. However, for this humble yooper settlement of eight thousand residents, this year will be different.

download-16The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist organization “dedicated to persevering the separation of church and state”, filed a complaint, on behalf of an anonymous Menominee resident, urging the town to discontinue their annual Christmas tradition. According to the FFRF, a nativity display on public property is a constitutional violation, contradicting the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Since the launching of that complaint, residents of Menominee are now relying on a local parish to set up the nativity display.

Menominee is one of a myriad of towns and cities to be threatened by a lawsuit regarding the display of a nativity scene. For the last decade, organizations including the Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Atheists have become increasingly aggressive and emboldened in asserting the “separation of church and state”. Their public relations representatives have appeared on national television and defended their actions by claiming to fight for all religious minorities against what they perceive to be Christian domination of the holiday season. captu

Honestly, these types of news stories really distress me. They’re just examples of self-victimization and manufactured fake outrage in 21st century America.

I’m not religious. In fact, I’m actually critical of certain aspects of Christian theology. However,  I don’t feel threatened or marginalized by the slight of a nativity scene. In India, roadside shrines on public roads are ubiquitous and I’m not offended whenever I come across them while travelling from one village to another to visit relatives. I don’t feel compelled to convert to any religion. Religious displays simply have no impact on me, whatsoever.

Now, proponents for the removal of these nativity scenes point to the Constitution, specifically to the establishment clause which prohibits the establishment of a state-sponsored religion. To which I say “who cares?”. I’m not a legal scholar however, I don’t understand how a cheap, plastic exhibition of the nativity is an endorsement of any religion. No resident is being pressured to join a church or profess a belief in a deity. Nativity scenes are just nothing more than a fun annual tradition for numerous small towns and shouldn’t be discontinued over a complaint from one disgruntled resident.

It’s not often that I find myself siding with a religious cause. This is probably the only instance in which conservative Christians can rely on me as an ally. However, for me, this has very little to do with religious expression. My solidarity with the Religious Right (strictly on this matter) is a counterstrike against the hyper-legalistic culture overtaking America that promotes frivolous lawsuits and PC policing.

Creating a Holiday Safe Space 

The Christmas season (oh I’m sorry, I meant “The Holidays”) are upon us. So, in anticipation of the festivities, here’s a list of Christmas songs we should dutifully avoid to prevent microaggressions 

O Christmas Tree: Appropriation of German culture

Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer: Blatantly Ableist 

White Christmas: A aggressive assertion of White Privilege

Hark The Herald Angels: Male Privilege ( “glory to the newborn King”)

Away in a Manger: Classist

Feliz Navidad: Appropriating the Spanish language

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Promotion of Rape Culture

Twelve Days of Christmas: Too capitalistic

We wish you a merry Christmas: Male privilege ( for you and your king)

Deck the Halls: Too consumer-driven

Jingle Bells: Exploitation of horses (“in a one-horse open sleigh)

Little Donkey: Appropriation of Mexican culture

Silent Night: Slut-Shaming (“round yon virgin”)

Mary, Did You Know: Classist (“Did you know that your baby boy will one day rule all nations”)