Your Time is Now Mine, #5: Merry.
Ethan Van Sciver: Your Time Is Now Mine
This is Your Time Is Now Mine #5. It's the night when I have to drag the garbage out to the curb, and that's how I remember that it's also time to empty out whatever has been banging around in my peanut-sized brain. You, like the guys in the green truck, are obliged to receive my refuse and carry it away. And hopefully profit by it, although I can't guess how. I'm Ethan Van Sciver, comic book artist and investigator of the unknown. Thank you for joining me.
ITEM: Next to me at this very moment is a half-full bottle of Coca-Cola with a smiling Santa Claus on the label. Notice that I call it half-full because I am forever an optimist. The Coca-Cola logo, visible to me now, is supposed to contain a dark, anti-Islam secret. Some say that if you hold it upside down, the letters become Arabic and read "No to Mohammad, No to Mecca". Anyone who is offended by this who might consider writing an outraged email to the Coca Cola Company in downtown Atlanta, Georgia should remember that turning the bottle upside down will spill the liquid inside, so obviously no one ever should upend their soda. And I think that was the point that Coca-Cola was trying to make when they deliberately insulted Islam with their logo. Or maybe that's how they figured their secret would be kept.
ITEM: What is a kid with a terminally ill mother at home doing out at the mall on Christmas Eve buying shoes, presumably alone? And why shoes? Why not a broach or color contacts for when she "meets Jesus?" Is the Lord a foot guy? And how would this kid know?
ITEM: I drive a van slowly at night in residential neighborhoods while listening to a lot of Christmas music. I can't help it, frankly. Driving with my headlights off at 15 miles an hour alongside a strange woman who is out walking her dogs freaks me out too, so a little Frosty the Snowman helps. Or adds irony to the potential for horror, I don't know. It's weird how my pupils dilate to tiny pinholes and I am fully aroused while this is happening, but fortunately I don't have to justify or explain myself to anyone yet.
Anyhow, don't tell anyone I told you that.
I meant to say that I've become enamored with a brand of Christmas tune that I call "Having fun? Well, stop it.", and I love it when these come on the radio. I get all excited and jittery, and if Sharis is with me, I'll talk back to the song. It's great. Here are some examples of "Having fun? Well, stop it." Christmas songs. I hope you are also a fan.
1. Happy X-Mas (War Is Over): This one is great, because it punches you in the face right away. The hatred, the disdain that John Lennon feels for you is palpable. You aren't living up to his standards by any means, and this is the guy that married Yoko.
"And so this is Christmas," he spits. "And what have you done?"
The answer is nothing. I've personally done very little. I barely groom myself. And Christmas, the cheerful holiday where people have cookies and open presents is as good a time as any for self-loathing. Why stop then?
"Another year over, and a new one just begun," John advises us. And this is good news. Another chance for me to get it right. I believe I will cheat on my wife with May Pang, live in a bag and stay in bed all day until Barrack pulls us out of Iraq. It worked before, and...
...Oh, it didn't?
What do you do, as a music producer, when faced with the task of having to mix Yoko Ono's backing vocals? This Working Class Hero is something to me. Imagine sitting behind the soundboard and looking at all those knobs and wondering if technology is truly capable of adequately solving those problems. Only 4 years earlier, they'd managed to put a man on the moon, but it would be decades before the Vocoder would be realized. And still, they were able to muffle the sound of Yoko's barks and yelps with the same technology found in today's pocket calculators.
I truly makes me believe in Jesus. Jesus X.
"War is Over, if you want it." I wish you'd given us that equation before the Tet Offensive, Lennon! Thanks for nothing.
2. This One's For the Children: People ask me all the time, "Ethan, why do you watch footage of the New Kids on the Block?" And the answer is simple: The same reason I watch footage of Hitler and Nazi atrocities. Now that time has passed and the danger is gone, it's safe to look back and remind ourselves, clinically, of past evils. And obviously, I'm not saying that Jordan Knight is like Hitler, (Jordan had far better teeth) but everyone at those times knew that both had to be stopped, by any means necessary.
My grandfather fought during World War II, and he did what he could there. I was there, in 1989, doing what I could to stem the tide of NKOTB. I think I drew a cartoon for the school newspaper, "New Kids on the Chopping Block", where a large chicken was decapitating Joey McIntyre.
You had to be there. And also be 13.
Again, though I'm not actually comparing a teenie pop band to National Socialism, I think it's interesting to compare the mindless fervor of much of Germany during the 1930's to what was happening here in the United States during the late 80's. No one was actually listening to these songs because they couldn't possibly have been. There was something else, something in the way Jonathan shaved canals into his mullet w/rattail that hypnotized millions of willing pre-teen girls into purchasing New Kids On The Block: Merry, Merry Christmas. And on that album was to be found one of the single worst songs ever written, "This One's For The Children." (I guess "Hangin' Tough" was for the Baby Boomers.) Let us examine:
At the start, a lisping male voice startles us to attention:
"This is a very serious message so all of you please listen.."
Tinkly chimes, and then:
"There are some people living in this world
They have no food to eat
They have no place to go"
This non-specificity makes me feel utterly helpless. And without further information, let me recommend that the "place" they should "go" is anywhere that offers something to "eat". This "world" these "people" are "living in"....am I safe in assuming it's Earth? Frankly, the story loses me. And it sucks, because I have a Futon and half a rotisserie chicken that no one seems to want. I wish I could help....
"But we all are God's children
We've got to learn to love one another
Just remember, they could be us
Remember, we all are brothers"
People aren't eating or going because I don't love them? Why isn't God paying child support? And if "they" could be "us", they'd presumably be well fed and playing a brand new Nintendo Wii for Christmas. I think you meant to say, "Just remember, we could be them," but I don't want to criticize too much. I just have some questions.
"I'm not trying to darken up your day..."
And here's the lie, but at least it shows some self-awareness.
"But help others in need
And show them there's a better way"
And that better way, which they fail to realize, is to have a home to go to and food to eat. Why won't anyone listen?
"This one's for the children
The children of the world
This one's for the children
May God keep them in His throne"
It's the word "in" that bothers one here. Not "on His throne", but "in His throne." Forgive me, but has this entire song been about poo? I have to go back and listen again...
3. Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed the World): Dear God, I contort in spasms of glee when this one comes on. It is the Great Granddaddy of "Having Fun? Well, Stop It" songs, and I can't get enough of it. Again, it really appeals to me that there are people out there who find a single day of joy so troubling that they have to create "art" that shakes humanity out of it. It's wonderful, and it's everywhere, in lots of different forms. But at Christmas, like snow, it crystallizes into flakes of embarrassing crap that cover the landscape for all to see and enjoy. And it's truly marvelous when Boy George is a part of it all. I wish I could ride a sled through it.
For those of you who missed the 80's, the era of Reagan brought about a strange phenomenon where large groups of pious pop stars gathered in big rooms together to sing and record these Mega-Anthems meant to feed the starving Africans. It didn't help, really, because the little money that was netted ended up lining the pockets of Idi Amin style dictators who were eating the starving Africans anyhow, but it gave Bono a Bonor to think that singing "Weh-ail tonite thank god it's them, instead of yoooooooooooo" was providing sustenance to millions of hungry Ethiopians. And everyone looked great.
(As a side note, if anyone can think of a way that I can be made to look compassionate towards an entire continent by drawing a picture of the Flash with a lot of other comic book artists, please let me know. I'm not made of stone. Does Antarctica need any help?)
Much has been said and written about this particular song, but it's worth looking at again. Especially since it won't be long before African pop stars get together to do a benefit for Americans. ("And there won't be Samango monkeys in America this Kenyatta Day...!")
Let's enjoy the lyrics, can't we? Oooo...I'm all tingly.
" It's Christmas time
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time"
Well, that's a nice sentiment...I'm merry now. And I'm not afraid, and never was. W-why would they say that?
Wait, there's more?
"But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones"
I do. I pray for the other ones.
"At Christmas time it's hard
But when you're having fun"
Okay! Here it comes! "Having Fun? Well....."
"There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear"
"...STOP IT!!!" Yes! God, I love it.
"Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears"
Not to mention the bitter tears of Sting!
"And the Christmas bells that ring
There are the clanging chimes of doom"
I actually have those doom clanging chimes on my tree this year.
"Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you"
Done and done, Bono. Africa thanks you.
"And there won't be snow in Africa
This Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life"
Well, according to "We Are The World", "Life" is the "Greatest gift of all". So all's well.
No snow in Africa this Christmas? You don't say.
"Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?"
Well, now they know. Midge Urge just told them.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?"
Yeah, what are they doing over there? Oh well, cheers.
"END: Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time
END: (repeat & fade)"
Repeat and fade indeed. And so there you go. A wise man once said, everything in moderation. Even happiness.
ITEM: From now on, the word "skull" is to be pronounced "skole".
Ah, that's a real load off my chest. I feel like a lot of important stuff got said, and I think I communicated it well. You may agree, and you may not, but at least you have clarity. You know where I stand.
Look, I didn't want to mention this, but I'm very sad that we couldn't get last week's column into the Most Commented section. We did well, with over 70 comments placed, but the #10 spot, which I was aiming for, had over 100. And that's where we needed to be. Obviously, we're competing with some real important columns that demand comments from readers, like the many "Ask Dan Didio something" columns. Look, people are going to ask Dan Didio things, I realize. And we're still dominating the chart in terms of "Recommends." But please, let's push for 100 comments this time around. Or else the only water flowing here will be the bitter sting of tears.
I love you all. I'll be back once more before Christmas, at which time I will actually talk about drawing, and show you some sketches!
Most reverently yours,
Ethan Van SciverMake sure you time is fully lost: Your Time is Now Mine, 4 Your Time is Now Mine, 3