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Put a Little Holiday in Your Throat

If you're like me -- and if you're not, a good shovel blow to the back of the head will fix you right up -- nothing warms the frosty cockles of your heart like the death of the holiday season. Ideally, the quick, gorey death.

It's not so much the malls crowded with morons, or the edgy familial relations, or the yearly repeat of every damned '60s-spawned, fully-depreciated Christmas special that has ever existed that's earned the season second place on my Things I Could Do Without list, right after "Violent Dismemberment." If anything, these have become so intimately related to the Yuletide that they're the only way to tell Los Angeles in December from Los Angeles in July.

No, what has soured the yearly holiday extravaganza for me is, of course, the ads. The ads, the ads; the horror, the horror. The birth of Christ -- believed by hundred of millions to be the Savior of Mankind and the Lord God incarnate -- is heralded with brain-sapping, soul-crushing, faith-destroying ads.

You know what I'm talking about.

Years ago -- though it's slogged out of the mire many times since -- the Most Annoying Holiday Ad Ever Created first oozed onto the scene. All I have to do is say two words and it will all come rushing back, horrible and familiar:

"André. Ding!"

Remember that? That ad was single-handedly responsible for teaching Irish jigging to half the population by inducing leg spasms and uncontrollable facial tics in anybody unfortunate enough to be subjected to it. "André for the holidays! Ding! André to celebrate! Ding! André banged against that metal plate in your head! Ding!"

You're grinding your teeth just thinking about it, aren't you?

Note to advertisers: taking one of the most grating, piercing sounds imaginable and repeating it half a dozen times over the course of a thirty second ad is a nifty way to encourage mobs of angry, torch-carrying viewers to gather outside your offices brandishing broken bottles of champagne, eager to drown out the all the damned dinging with soothing screams of anguish.

Less annoying but an order of magnitude dumber -- we're not making progress here -- is the old Norelco ad that has Santa Claus zipping around the snow-covered countryside depositing gifts into the stockings of all good little boys and girls from his... electric razor. Really. You remember. A stop-motion Kris Kringle brings joy to the smiling faces of children the world over while sitting in the head of one of those three-floating-bladed Norelco razors. It leaves little tracks of clean-shaven snow.

At what point, and after how many bottles, did this idea emerge? "Well, the schnaps is gone, so it must be morning. Explains that sunrise, too. So. We've got: Santa shaving his beard, Santa shaving his back, Santa shaving Mrs. Claus, and Santa tooling around in a razor. Ed?" Ed vomits. "OK! The razor it is!"

And this year, worst of all, a new menace has emerged, thanks to the wonderful folks at Target. When the ad opens, and for no apparent reason, the classic Warner Brothers animated characters are chasing each other around a posh mountain retreat. Suddenly, Le Ann Rimes, a pudgy, female country singer -- is there some rule that all female country singers need to be pudgy? -- cuts loose with a wail, and Bugs Bunny et al. come to a screeching halt. They blink in surprise for a moment, then -- and I swear I'm not making this up -- begin to line dance.

Take a moment to picture this: Wile E. Coyote, his hand behind his back, line dancing. And this is apparently supposed to encourage me to come to Target. While I understand that sheep-like synchronized goose-stepping is all the rage in the Heartland, for me it amounts to little more than the cruel homogenization of something wildly unique. The desecration of cherished childhood memories isn't a real good way to appeal to my consumerist instinct. "Look, Jonny! It's your beloved dog, Rex! Vivisected! C'mon down to Target!"

But that's not even the worst part of the ad. Over-glossy renderings of the Loony Tunes traipsing back and forth like lobotomized goats -- big belt buckles and chewing tobacco are next -- is only the beginning.

No, the worst part of the ad is the damned song that Rimes, the pudgy female country singer, sings. I have no idea how it actually goes, but it's lodged in my brain like some gigantic, jagged kidney stone, and has been for a month.

All I hear -- day in, day out; in that jaunty, twangy, irritating country way -- is: "Put a little holiday in your heart/Put a little shuffle in your step." Over and over and over again. For sheer teeth-grinding, fist-clenching, gut-churning irritation, this little nugget of fun kicks André's Ding up and down the street, because it doesn't go away. I haven't see the ad in a well-nigh week now, and I still can't get those two lines out of my head, no matter what rusty garden tools I use.

Maybe I'm all wrong about the ad. Maybe it's a subtle dig at nonsensical cross-promotion and crass commercialization. Maybe there's a satirical gem waiting just out of earshot or hiding somewhere in my Swiss-cheesed memory. Maybe the next two lines of the song are, "Bring your Visa and a wheelbarrow/For all the crap you'll have to schlep."

And maybe I'm Santa in a friggin' razor.


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