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16 December 2004


I mentioned below that I'm dating a guy who owns an aluminum Christmas tree. In fact, he is to Christmas decorations what James Lileks is to pin-up art -- each takes joy in collecting the aesthetic cast-offs of yesteryear.

Fully assembled, the metallic Tannenbaum is a lustrous joy to behold -- this flash-photo doesn't do it full justice, because the magic of an aluminum tree is the way its highly-reflective foil "needles" catch the colors of the lights around it. (But getting a photo with just the ambient illumination of the Christmas lights requires a real tripod, and I didn't have mine with me.)

But although the tree looks very 25th Century, putting it up wasn't accomplished via the push-button automation promised in vintage science fiction. Each of the tree's 90-odd branches had to be individually inserted into one of the angled drill holes in the "trunk" -- basically, a thick wooden dowel covered with metallic paper. The branches themselves are long aluminum rods around which spirals a fringe of gold-toned aluminum foil. The foil "needles" feel neither like kitchen aluminum foil nor the metalized plastic film used for today's tinsel. I assume they are metal foil coated with some sort of polymer to prevent tearing.

The glass ornaments on the tree include examples of the now-rare "teardrop" shape, purchased secondhand on eBay. And at the bottom of the tree, just to the right of the trunk, you can see a pinkish-red Devil ornament, representing the Alec Baldwin Doppelganger whose tree it is.

The Alec Baldwin Doppelganger's doppelganger. He looks exactly like this, I swear!

Of course, we all know what the  X  in  Xmas  stands for -- no, sillies, not xenomorph or eXtra-terrestrial. Ever since a bunch of godsless busybodies got together to take the Saturn out of Saturnalia, December 25th hasn't been complete without a Nativity scene -- whether terra cotta and wood, as at the White House; marble, as in Loreto, Italy; or human models posed in a tableau vivant.

This one was created with state-of-the-art blow mold technology, creating hollow figures that -- mirabile dictu! -- light up from within, as though enchanted.

posted by Throbert | 12/16/2004 01:43:00 AM | (0) responses

13 December 2004

♪♫♭ ''I DIG THEE, LORD JESUS, LOOK DOWN FROM THE SKY...''♪♫♭ sings the uncannily convincing Bobby Darin sound-alike Bob Francis in this week's Xmas Diskoteka selection, "That Swingin' Manger." If you think these lyrics are irreverent:

The cows, they go "moo-moo"
And woke the poor kid
But that little trooper
Never flipped his lid

...then be glad you aren't a parochial-school nun from back in the prehistoric days before Vatican II, because you would've had an instant stroke. See, there are apparently two hymns called "Away in a Manger" -- and according to my mother, Catholic schoolchildren were, once upon a time, strongly discouraged from singing the version that's popularly attributed to Mr. Here-Comes-Protestantism himself, Martin Luther.

UPDATE: Aisha comments from the Land Down Under:

All this talk of Martin Luther and Catholics reminds me of Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish" of 23 October 2004:
NO SHIT: Archaeologists think they have found the toilet whereon Martin Luther figured out that you could be saved by faith alone. Yep, the first protestant was seriously constipated, thereby beginning a noble tradition.
Aisha remembers being told that Martin Luther used to punctuate his sermons with farts (as if this really mattered). Aisha's only in her 20s.
If one is going to criticize Luther for something, his anti-semitism might be a better place to start.

I'd say it's a toss-up between his anti-semitism and "Reason is the devil's whore," if you want to talk about Luther's toxic legacies to European Christendom.

On the other hand, while it's easy to trace a line from the Holocaust back to Luther's overt Judenhass, the man must be deemed a benefactor to the entire Western world -- Jews included -- to the extent that he can be credited with inventing Protestantism.(Just for starters, the world-changing idea that the State should not tell the Individual how to worship came as a response to centuries of political strife among Christian denominations.)

posted by Throbert | 12/13/2004 01:13:00 AM | (0) responses
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