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Hyperion November 23, 2004

The Hyperion Chronicles

“The reason God invented words”

#326 Thanksgiving Extravabonanza

My friends (heck; even my enemies); you’re in luck. It is once again time for the always-talked-about-often-dreamed-about-but-never-laughed-about (if-you-know-what’s-good-for-you) one-and-only Annual (well, bi-annual, at least) Thanksgiving Extravabonanza column.

Yes, we’re finally here. Go ahead and pinch yourself.

In this year’s installment we will be talking about things we are thankful for, some holiday movies to watch, and other assorted wackiness. By popular demand, there is a child’s word-search included at the bottom.

Getting, the ball rolling, one of the things I am thankful for is past Thanksgiving columns, which means I don’t have to come up with as much original material. In other words, this column is partially a clip-show.

All right: let’s get to it!!!


This is from November, 2000

At the Thanksgiving Eve service I attended, my father spoke about vocalizing gratitude. This inspired me to go through my email address book and attempt to write everyone and tell each person one thing I was thankful for about him or her. To any one I omitted, know this: what I am most thankful about YOU is your understanding nature, and an ability to forgive unintentional slights.

As for everyone else: this was truly a humbling process. Some of the people on my list are estranged to me right now, but despite the discomfort, a commitment is a commitment. I feel refreshed, and at peace; the way you are when you have done the right thing. Even if I never hear from them again, I left the situation in a way I can be proud of.

Further awe was to come my way. I heard from people I have rarely or never heard from. I was not even sure they were getting this column. It is amazing to me how far a few words of appreciation, sincerely given, can go. Some of the responses I received filled me with tears, as people told me they weren’t used to having anyone say anything nice about them.

Why am I telling you this? Two reasons. First, the people you know need to be told what they mean to you. You may think they know, BUT THEY NEED TO BE TOLD. You will affect people you never expected to. Some of the strongest-looking and sounding people are hurting on the inside and feel nobody cares. Tell them you do. Second, I guarantee that you will get responses. Moreover, it might help you improve relationships. Maybe you no longer speak to several people. You have had a falling out; words were spoken, feelings were hurt. I am not asking you to bake them a casserole. I am asking you to dig deep, and find something you admire about the person, or something you are thankful for. If nothing comes of it, you will have done the right thing, and it will do wonders for your soul. And, who knows? Perhaps there will be a thawing of the ice. Perhaps there will be reconciliation. Perhaps there will be wild, hot monkey love. Just remember to name the first born after me; I gave you the idea.

Sniff Sniff. This is such a good idea. I wish I’d thought of it. Wait: I did! Now, you do it too.

These are (some of) the things I was thankful for in November, 2002

ESPN: Does this need to be explained? [2004 note: now that I’m up here in the land of hockey-all-the-time-even-when-there’s-no-hockey, this one is especially poignant.]

Conspiracy Theories: I think people are more interesting when they believe in one or two (or ten or eleven) things that they can’t prove and make them sound crazy to their friends. Come to think of it, that’s the basic theory of religion or women.

Cool Whip: Truly an underused food. Needs to go on more things. It should be at the table like salt and pepper. This should be our national food. [I also think beef jerky should be on the table at all times. And baby Skittles, also known as Skittles Littles. Those things rule!]

Smart Strangers: I love it when I meet someone new and they get just one of my jokes. It’s proof to me there is intelligent life out there, and also is a quick way to tell me that they are a great mind (along with their appreciation of the Simpsons and ballet). Another proof of intelligence: reading this column. So, feel smug at the next office meeting toward all those wastes of oxygen in the room with you.

Banjos: Like Cool Whip, underrated in the world today. And, as Steve Martin once said, it’s impossible to be mad while listening to the banjo.

Black People: Even for all you closet-racists (you know who you are), consider this; without black people, coolness would be defined by white folks. Do I need to go into grisly line-dancing details, or can we all just agree on this one? In fact, the next time you see a black person, go up and shake his hand, and thank his for sparing us the horror of polka clubs the world over. [2004 note: now that I’m up here, I have to give an even bigger Amen. You should see what these maple-sniffing morons think is cool. More on that in December.]

What am I thankful for now? I’m thankful for hot Denny’s servers who keep my table reserved. I’m thankful for dollar stores where figurine-gods hang out. I’m thankful for local video places, where they mock me as a “bastard American,” try to claim that Canada won the war of 1812 (don’t get me started), and then try to get me to rent Olsen Twin movies (I’m not sure which is worse). I’m thankful for crossword puzzles and people to do them with. I’m thankful for the few really good TV shows left. I’m thankful for all the people who voted for me. I’m thankful for my River Midget interns here at the Institute. I’m thankful for beef jerky, chiropractic care, house-hippos, my fantasy football league (even though I suck this year), my grandparents, collaborative writing experiments, toys in Happy Meals, well-made food, and a few good friends who really get my vision of the future.


When a host of people—of varying ages and interests—invade your home, it’s hard to know what to do with them. May I suggest a video? It’s a good way to get everyone together in the same room without fighting, and at least it will keep the kids quiet. (NOTE: these are not like my usual reviews, where I go into well-written detail about why you should (or shouldn’t) see a film. You’re just going to have to trust me on these, or write and ask for the full reviews.)

For Families:

LILO AND STITCH: I can’t believe how entertaining this was. One of the best Disney films in years, and I can’t imagine the whole family not enjoying this.

SCHOOL OF ROCK: A great family film. Kids and adults will crack up at the school-children, and the message and content are pretty inoffensive.

WHALE RIDER: I wrote a full review of this earlier in the year, but this is a winner. I promise every last person in your family will enjoy it.

SPIRITED AWAY: one of the best films to come along in years. This reworking of Alice in Wonderland will leave you absolutely enchanted.

For Guys:

BUBBA HOTEP: An aging Elvis and JFK (who’s black) battle a cowboy-mummy who’s stealing the souls of old people. What’s not to love?

25th HOUR: This Spike Lee movie shows the last day in a man’s life before prison. The film is edgy, uncomfortable, and a bit violent, and just about every guy will love it.

TOMBSTONE: If you’ve never seen this you should be ashamed. Quite simply one of the five greatest Westerns ever made, and the greatest Doc Holliday in history.

For Girls:

FAR FROM HEAVEN: This is a beautiful made exactly like those 1950s weepy melodramas, but with a modern viewpoint. It’s a little bit sad, but most chicks like that.

CALENDAR GIRLS: I reviewed this earlier. It’s about old women who take off their clothes for charity. Go get ‘em, ladies.

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING: This too is sad, but beautifully acted, about the story behind a famous painting. This isn’t a rah-rah crowd pleaser, but worthwhile.

For the Adults: (All of these have been previously reviewed and are on the website)

21 GRAMS: This would be good for those about 16-30. The plot is out of order, and there is some very rough content, but it’s a fascinating look at how three people’s lives intersect.

DIRTY PRETTY THINGS: This is a wonderful dark movie about the London immigrant sub-culture. Anyone with an open mind who enjoys movies will enjoy this gem.

IN AMERICA: This is really a family film, but not suitable for those under 12 or so. The story is kind of sad, but with a great ending, and it hums with vitality and life. Seriously: this is the one to impress the in-laws.

THE STATION AGENT: Perhaps the best Independent film I’ve seen in six years, I watched this film 5 times in one day. I just want to hug it to death. It’s a quiet movie, without a lot of dialogue or action, but for the sophisticated viewer, this is fantastic.


From November, 2000

The muted brilliance of the sunrise: the soft pinks rippling out of the dark gray matte, the pale blues hinting of the sky to come, here and there; yellows and reds and oranges peek through like flashlights under the blankets at night. All of the colors blend and bleed into one giant palette, wrapped in noble silence. Seeing the Dawn Splendor almost makes it worth being up so God-Awful early in the morning. Almost.

I saw a bumper sticker once that read, “When all guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Well, I have a seasonal version of that:

When all Outlaws are Turkeyed

Only Turkeys will be Outlaws!

Wait, that sounded better in my head.

Fade to Black


November 23, 2004


Thanks to Braj, the god of writing, for inspiring me

Thanks to Hyperion in 2000 and 2002 for writing some of this


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