The holidays are upon us. It is the happiest time of the year, if you take the word of a snowman or an elf. Statistically, it is also the most popular time to kill yourself. Our is a roller-coaster society, incrementally dragging itself to the highest peaks only to hurtle down again. Today is Friday, and I have approximately 20 hours of unsupervised free time before I have to get on a plane for 90 minutes, wait seven hours in the Denver airport, and get on a plane again. Our links are a corresponding garden of delights/trials, alternating between the miserable and the sublime. Won’t you put your arms over your head and go woo! before they are severed by a low-hanging cable with me?
Here comes that cable: John Boehner has withdrawn his Plan B alternative to Obama’s deficit-reduction proposal for lack of votes. It’s kind of a big deal or, as the Times puts it, a “stunning turn of events.” It turns out the Speaker of the House is as frustrated by fashionable Republican intransigence as the rest of us. Although Boehner was able to pass legislation canceling the defense side of the sequester cuts—that one will not fare well in the Senate—he could not get enough R votes for a proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for all incomes below $1 million. Fiscal cliff, you guys. We have several congresspeople who would rather detonate the budget than raise taxes 3% on millionaires.
Scary, right? Don’t worry—our phones are still inserting hilarious typographical errors into our interpersonal communications. I don’t know why the 25 Funniest Autocorrects of 2012 are so funny, and I am concerned that it is not a totally scientific list, but I love them nonetheless. “My love for you is strong,” he writes to Emily. “I would buy a casket for you if I could.” I’m pretty sure the autocorrect mistake is a type of joke unique to our era, unless Mark Twain wrote a bunch of telegram mishap sketches of which I am unaware.
Back to bummers: if this letter he wrote to Adlai Stevenson is any indication, John Steinbeck got really tired of Christmas. I like to think that Stevenson didn’t know Steinbeck when he got that in the mail. Also, what would happen in the America of 2012 if an author wrote a long letter to a liberal politician decrying America’s descent into materialism and saying Christmas was kind of bullshit? His publisher would drop him. At the very least, Glenn Beck would return to television for a week, instead of making his kid film a Christmas pageant for DVD.
There’s only one comeback I care about, though: that of T. Herman Zweibel, publisher emeritus of The Onion and presenter of this year’s person of the year award. Spoiler: he’s a dick about it. “There is no Person of the Year,” he writes. “How dare you even presume there might be?” Zweibel belongs with C. Montgomery Burns in my favorite category of stock character, the angry buffoon. That we like our angry buffoons rich and old-timey surely says something about the present state of our culture and our relation to the past. Maybe I just like to be told I have a “porridge-stuffed head.”
I should have ended on a fun one, but instead I am left only with this vague bummer by an exceedingly handsome man re: gun control. “Write about the massacre of schoolchildren and gun control,” my editor at the small Montana newspaper said. “Sure thing,” I replied. “It’ll be hilarious.” That’s the kind of ambiguous irony you can pull when you never come into the office. Mad props to the Missoula Independent for continuing to let me type pretty much whatever.
Okay, you have to admit that this is kind of uplifting, the way British people uplifted Joan of Arc:
What an asshole.