d a i l y   d o g 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f r a d i o   f r e e   d o g p a t c h

"A dumb joke is better than a smart bomb." — Roy Blount Jr.

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    God bless us, every one!

    — Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

Grab your shovels, men!

It's a War on Christmas, and Angel is on the attack

  By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

T'S NOT EASY TO WRITE for a magazine with Bicycle Retailer's kind of time lag between submission and publication. By the time its readers clap their bloodshot eyes on this column, they'll probably still be a tad shaky from New Year's Eve, but I just opened my Christmas presents a couple of days ago. So as BRAIN readers contemplate the blank canvas of 2006, they will discover me struggling to find some discernible pattern in the inexplicable graffiti of 2005.

  Back here in the old year, the War on Christmas is still raging. I'm a conscientious objector in this pointless conflict; if somebody wants to buy something from me, I don't care whether he says, "Merry Christmas," "Happy holidays," or "Hail, Satan." Pay up and shove off. I have business to conduct.

    Here in the liberal ghetto, we even shovel the streets.

  And I do, actually. I recently took on some additional chores, stunning family, friends and colleagues, who know I take to work the way a fish does to batter and hot oil. So I have less time to fret about whether I've made Bill O'Reilly's enemies list for thoughtlessly wishing some outraged fundamentalist a happy solstice.

  Ice, Ice, Baby. Winter jumped us early this year with a sucker punch of a Canadian cold front that set me afoot in early December.

  Facing single-digit temperatures and icy streets, I had the choice of running more often or riding the cyclo-cross bike in actual cyclo-cross conditions. Since I was down to one functional 'cross bike after a complex deal with a teammate that had me dismantling two machines to create one, mostly I ran.

  It isn't all that bad, running. Bundle up and totter around for 45 minutes and you have the equivalent of two-and-a-half hours on the bike, and without all that distracting fun, too. Plus the slower pace gives a guy a chance to look around, take it all in, maybe formulate a few new cockeyed theories for fun and profit.

  For example: While jogging along a sidewalk after a snowstorm, how do you tell a conservative dwelling from a liberal one? Easy — the conservative's walk goes unshoveled.

  The Politics of Snow Removal. "Listen, pal," the conservative's sidewalk seems to say. "I'm not the lefty-loony prancing down the sidewalk during business hours here. Next you'll expect me to shovel your sidewalk, or maybe Michael Moore's. You want the walk shoveled, shovel it yourself."

  This is easier said than done, since the his-and-hers Escalade EXTs blotting out the sun at curbside ensure that the conservative's snowpacked sidewalk won't enjoy any solar heating until July. And anyway, the last round of tax cuts required me to give my snow shovel to Halliburton, which turned around and sold it to FEMA's New Orleans office for $2 million.

  Your liberal's sidewalk, by comparison, is scraped clean and its few icy spots treated with organic sea salt. This is not so much a joyous celebration of socialism as an acknowledgment that an unshoveled walk is scary to negotiate in Birkenstocks with an armload of French wine and brie.

  To be sure, occasionally you see a rusty 1968 Volvo with a Kerry-Edwards sticker in front of some vile dump with three months' worth of ice and dog crap on the walk and a rainbow "PACE" flag for curtains. But this is either a Karl Rove scheme to get independents voting Republican in the '06 midterms or an endorphin hallucination triggered by too much running.

  Touched by an Angel. Sometimes the weird things I see are really there, though. Just yesterday, my cyclo-crossing teammate and I dragged our Eurocrosses out for a spin on the bike path, slaloming around patches of ice and snow, when a dog shot out of a nearby skateboard park, apparently bent on mayhem.

  This dog held a plastic bottle of 7-UP clamped in his jaws, yet somehow managed to bark around it as he chased us, his owner shouting, "Angel! Angel!"

  Why is an angel attacking us? I wondered. Is this a skirmish in the War on Christmas? Did the dog know one of us was a Jew and the other a heathen?

  Maybe. But I'll give Angel the benefit of the doubt. I think he saw our Mad Dog Media jerseys and, in the spirit of the holiday season, decided to give a couple of sweaty brothers a bottle hand-up.

  • A version of this column will appear in the January 2006 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, when we will all be older than we are now. Meanwhile, someone has beaten us to the punch — my sister, whose birthday is today. Happy happy joy joy, Sis.

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    Words and pictures on the DogPage © 2006 by Patrick O'Grady/Mad Dog Media. All rights and most lefts reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, laser-printed, photocopied, crocheted into a sampler, knitted into a sweater, tattooed on a floozy, spray-painted on an overpass, tapped out in Morse code, sublimated onto a jersey, shared in whispers in the back row of an adult theatre, shouted from the rooftops, scored for the Crusty County Symphony Orchestra, translated into Squinch, or communicated via telepathy without the permission of and the hefty payment to a heavily armed, whiskey-addled cyclo-cross addict who knows where you live. Bonehead shysters and the simpletons who employ them, take note: The opinions expressed on the DogPage contain toxic quantities of hyperbole, satire, parody and humor. Pah-ro-dee. Hyyuuu-mor. Acquire a sense of same or read at your own risk.