Archive for February 2010

Commercialism, Rejection, and Candy Hearts

February 14, 2010

This weekend we celebrate a great American holiday.  It’s a holiday full of love and deep meaning for those who truly take it heart.  Of course, I’m talking about Presidents Day which had previously been celebrated on February 22nd to commemorate George Washington’s birthday.

In 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-363 which made Presidents Day the third Monday of February.  This change was meant to incorporate the celebration of Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12th).

Because apparently those are the only two presidents worth remembering.  Yes, I actually took the time to look that up for you.  The google search took about two minutes.  Also, I’ve included pictures of them, just in case you’ve never seen a one or five dollar bill.  You’re welcome.

We (some of us) also celebrate another holiday that just happens to fall on this weekend.  February 14th or Valentine’s Day is a mixed bag for a lot of people.  For the holiday that is supposedly about love, an awful lot of people seem to hate it.  I say “seem to” because Valentine’s Day is like the popular group at high school.  Those that aren’t part of it outwardly despise it, yet secretly wish they could be included.  But in all honesty, it is the worse type of holiday because it does exclude people.

Then again, I can fully respect a holiday that doesn’t even attempt to water down its commercialism.  The message of Valentine’s Day is – If you have someone in your life, buy them any combination of candy, flowers, jewelry and a card.  If you don’t, you’re kind of a loser. – There are no Valentine’s day advertisements of people just sitting around a fireplace enjoying each other’s company.  They all involve shopping, giving, and receiving gifts.  There is no subtlety whatsoever.

Hollywood also capitalizes on the Valentine “message” by flooding our theaters with romantic comedies and dramas right around this time of year.  “If you have someone you love, take them to this movie.”  And what is the big romantic comedy that came out this weekend?  Why, it’s “Valentine’s Day.”

I mean, come on.  Can they be more blatant?  It’s like they aren’t even trying anymore.  How ridiculous is it to name a movie after the holiday it comes out around?  A bunch of scary movies come out around October 31st, but none of them are called Hallowe-   That’s a bad example.  Oh, here we go.  One of the biggest movie weekends of the year is July 4th, but it’s not like Hollywood came out with a movie called Independe-  Hmm.  Okay, maybe we are due for a movie titled “Valentine’s Day.”  I can still think it’s stupid though, right?

This time of year also provides those with an unrequited love the perfect situation to go for it.  However, this ends much more often than not in bitter, cold, and utter rejection.  Adults can handle it.  It’s the worst for the kids who sit in class and wait for their little homemade boxes to fill up with cards that never come.

Imagine this if you will.  There is a hypothetical third grade boy.  He might exist, or maybe not.  He’s whipsmart, funny, and incredibly talented.  He is, however, a little overweight, chubby, rotund perhaps.  This charming young lad decides on Valentine’s Day to finally tell the girl of his very innocent third grade dreams how he feels.  His palms are sweaty, and his mouth is dry which is kind of ironic.  You know, because normally he has dry hands and a mouth full of saliva.  Anyway, he walks up to this young beauty, gives her his homemade card, and heart pounding in his chest, says, “I like you.”  He waits for what seems like minutes for her reaction.  Then, she responds simply with “Why?”  Not the kind of self-deprecating why, like “Why would someone as great as you ever fall for someone like me?”  It was a disgusted why, like “Why do I have to put up with this gross guy having a crush on me?”  Isn’t that a sad story, readers?  Well, I have a confession to make.  Hold onto your butts because that third grade boy was me.  I was destroyed.  I didn’t think I’d ever love again.  Fortunately, it was third grade, I was only nine, and I had a crush on a different girl two weeks later.  But the point is I still remember it to this very day.

But blatant commercialism and bitter rejection aside, the worst and most disappointing part about Valentine’s Day is the candy.  Candy is a huge part of this holiday just as it is with Halloween and Easter.  But whereas Halloween has the fun size candy bar and the candy corn and pumpkins and Easter has the Cadbury egg, the only candy contributions made by Valentine’s Day are cheap boxes of terrible chocolates and the candy hearts.

The writing might be cute, but you could write Shakespeare on them, but that wouldn’t change the fact that they taste like little pieces of flavored chalk.

Having said all that and as arbitrary as it may be, spending Valentine’s Day with the person you love is truly wonderful.  I hope everyone experiences that feeling at some point.

Now readers, a Valentine’s Day card:

By gum,

I want “chew”

to be my Valentine.

And then, I would give you a piece of gum…

So, what do you think readers?  Agree?  Leave comments.  Disagree?  Email me at


Excuses, Excuses…

February 11, 2010

I’m back…and I’m better than ever

I’m back…and making things better

Well, dear readers, welcome back.  It’s been a long time .  First off, I would like to thank everyone who left comments about missing the blog while it’s been gone.  It’s nice to know people do actually read it, and care when there isn’t a new one.  I’d also like to thank all the people who didn’t hassle me about putting up a new blog.  Hasslers and non-hasslers alike are welcome here.

For anyone who’s been counting, it’s been almost three months since my last one.  What can I say?  There is absolutely no excuse for taking this long.  Nothing could possibly justify a three month hiatus.  But I’m going to try anyway.

Here is a list of the things which have dominated my time and attention over the last three months.  These are the things that have kept me away from you.

Holidays –

1. Thanksgiving.  That’s right folks.  My last blog was a couple of days before Thanksgiving.  You see, I ate a lot of food, and I was pretty tired for like a week…or more

2.  Wife’s Birthday (Dec. 6th).  It’s not a national holiday, but it should be.  It would be known as the day Josh Branyan’s wife  was born.  (Also, now that everyone knows when it is, she’s going to be expecting cards and presents.  In the future.  You don’t need to worry about all the birthdays you’ve missed.

3. Christmas.  Not even Scrooge required his employees to work on Christmas, so I think I get a pass for that one.

4.  New Years.  I was pretty tired because of all the partying the previous night.  Duh.

5.  Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  What?  I can’t celebrate that because I’m white?  That’s racist, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Crappy Weather –

Throughout the month of December, Omaha got around three feet of snow, and the temperature averaged  ten degrees with the windchill.  You’re probably saying, “But Josh, wouldn’t being stuck inside give you more of an opportunity to focus on writing your wonderful blogs?”  An interesting point, but consider this.  I’m also stuck inside a small apartment with a one year old dog who cannot expel his boundless energy.  In the pleasant weather, I was able to walk him and tire him out.  Then while he napped, I could entertain you all with my words.  Alas, this was not the case during the frigidity of December.  Ha!  Take that.

Avatar –

I’ve seen it four times since it came out.  It’s a long movie.

Lost –

My wife, like so many others, stopped watching Lost in the middle of season three.  Since the sixth and final season started this month, she wanted to get caught up.  Just so everyone knows, Lost could end up being the greatest show of all time.  If you have not seen it, wait until this season ends, then watch it from beginning to end.  And then, watch it again.

Indiana –

Friends, family, weddings…Time was not on my side.  No it wasn’t.

Reginald VelJohnson –

Sick Murray –

Just this past week and a half, Murray got an ear infection.  He’s been on a combination of four different medications that have to be administered six times a day.  But he’s hanging in there.

So, there you have it – my perfectly legitimate excuses for taking so long to write another blog.  Thanks for reading.  I promise not to stay away too long.

Comments are welcome below.  I don’t even mind the negative ones this time, as my long absence deserves them.