Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stupid Christmas by Leland Gregory

Published October 5, 2010.

From absurd 911 calls to presidential philosophizing and foolish felons, Leland Gregory generates the best laughs by exposing the worst of human nature. Following up his New York Times best-selling Stupid American History, Gregory sets his sights on the holidays as he exposes mind-numbing mistletoe maladies in Stupid Christmas: Idiots under the Mistletoe.

Perhaps it's the spiked eggnog or the multiple family members gathered around crazy-colored, twinkly lights, but the holidays are rife with idiocy by the daft and the dumb. Inside this latest collection, Gregory offers more than 200 accounts of holiday-induced stupidity, including:

* While smoke billowed out of the store, firefighters had to physically restrain enthusiastic shoppers from entering a Great Lakes Mall store during an electrical fire.

* In 1995, officials debated over whom to invite to the city's Christmas tree ceremony: President Bill Clinton or the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

* As a joke, Andrew Jackson sent formal invitations to his Christmas ball to a well-known mother-and-daughter prostitute team in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Overall it was a cute read. It got some chuckles out of me. No plot to speak of, of course, but I wouldn't necessarily call someone that just rehashes dumb stories pulled from other sources an author. I'm not trying to say that to be mean or anything. I'm just saying Gregory, in my eyes, is more of an editor than an actual author. Sure he retold these stories to the reader but I didn't feel the voice was all that amazing or anything. Cute, but that's about it.

STUPID CHRISTMAS works well as a stocking stuffer for that hard-to-buy-for person with the quirky sense of humor. There are outright funny stories in these pages, along with some that are slightly horrifying. But they're all interesting to read. And it's a quick read at that. Something that you zoom through, get your fill of human stupidity and set it aside. Maybe hand it off to someone else or else pull it out each holiday season and use it as coffee table fodder next to your dancing Santa Claus.

My favorite blurb, though, was all so poignant to us book lovers -

A public library in Oberlin, Ohio, unveiled a holiday display by conceptual artist Keith McGuckin that featured a legless Santa Claus in a wheelchair being pushed down the stairs by an evil Christmas tree. A narrative that accompanied the image explained that Santa had lost his legs when they got entangled in power lines during an alcoholic binge and that the sadistic tree is planning on stealing the money in a Salvation Army kettle and visiting a strip club. A December 4, 2008, article from United Press International quoted library director Darren McDonough as saying that the display would remain in place during the holiday season and to "Remember the old library saying - 'If we don't having something to offend you, we're not going our job.'"

Loved it. This one really tickled me so. This is also a good example of the length and style of the writing. Not bad, but not really indicative of any kind of stand out voice, in my opinion. I'm just getting retold some silly stuff. It's like of like giving Bob Sagat credit for the videos that's he simply replaying on America's Funniest Home Videos. You get the cute little asides but, at the end of the day, it's really someone else that provides the entertainment.

Like I said, STUPID CHRISTMAS is cute and works great as a stocking stuffer. I learned some mind-numbing stuff about my area as it's so featured in this snarky book. I just don't see anyone needing to read this one more than once, though. I wouldn't be surprised with its regifting potential. Hey, at least it's better than a singing fish.

Ban Factor: Medium - While free of swearing and lewdness, it is poking fun at anything and everything it can get its hands on, including religion. But then banners would need to READ it to see that. That may be asking too much.
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