#3. The NHL Winter Classic
In a desperate last grab at garnering some much needed attention for their borderline useless league, the National Hockey League started a yearly tradition in 2008 where, on New Year's Day, they host an outdoor game, usually at a football or baseball stadium. The 2009 game between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks took place at Wrigley Field, for example.
If you think I'm going to say this tradition needs to stop because it's way too cold for outdoor sports in January, you're wrong. I adore the NFL, and half their season is played under the ever-present threat of inclement weather. You can play all hockey outdoors, for all I care. You can play all hockey on fields of grass with high school chicks. It's all the same to me.
"Never let anyone say you can't play the same boring sports the boys do."
No, my problem here is no different from when I mentioned seeing hockey in person as one of the points in my "5 Supposedly Fun Activities Nobody Actually Enjoys (Part 2)" article last year. My argument then was that, despite being a vastly superior game to soccer in terms of action and scoring and such (and by "vastly" I mean "barely"), the fact that the puck is nearly impossible to see when watching in person makes the entire hockey experience a lot less enjoyable. And, as you can see in this shot from a recent NHL Winter Classic, the problem is made infinitely worse in a stadium environment.
Not a good seat in the house!
Even the sole enjoyable aspect of watching hockey in person, which is, of course, having an upfront view of a man getting smashed into a pane of glass by another man, is practically nonexistent in that seating arrangement.
How many runs is this worth?
So at the end of the day, you're still just showing up for the fights, except this time you'll freeze to death while watching. Fun!
#2. Christmas Albums
Christmas albums are a roller coaster of emotions. On the one hand, when the news first breaks that a musician you enjoy is releasing a new album, you're elated. Moments later, when you hear that it's actually a Christmas album, your excitement gives way to full-blown apathy. Because no matter how much you love a band or musician, nobody loves a Christmas album.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few good modern Christmas songs, like this beauty, for example:
That's just one song, though. I have no desire to hear Run-D.M.C. "yes, yes, y'all" their way through an entire album of Christmas standards. And besides, what they're doing in that song is more the exception than the rule when it comes to Christmas albums. Usually, what you get is something more like this:
That's John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John throwing down on a vanity Christmas project, because what the hell else are they going to do this holiday season? Scientologists don't celebrate Christmas, and Australians don't celebrate anything beyond surviving another day without being devoured whole by one of the countless Walmart-size insects that inhabit their nightmare of a landscape. That doesn't mean we have to enjoy it, though.
Of all the worthless possibilities in a musician's catalog, nothing stands out as such more than a Christmas album. It's like one of those contract-fulfilling greatest hits or covers albums, except in this case, listening to it anytime outside of a three- or four-week window at the end of the year makes you look like a total weirdo. Oh, and speaking of things only a crazy person would enjoy ...
#1. Shopping on Black Friday
Holy mother of fuck, what is wrong with people? There is no amount of savings on a 32-inch Westinghouse LCD TV that justifies sleeping in front of a Best Buy. I don't care if you're homeless and someone is going to give you that television for free so you can pawn it and put yourself up in a meth motel for a week, it's still not worth the effort.
I guess I was a little more able to understand the appeal back when "Black Friday" was an appropriate term for the event. You know, the days when it actually involved waking up (or camping out) early enough to be one of the first people through the door when the store opened. It was kind of like hunting, except for women. In other words, I still didn't get it, but to each their own.
But if she's killing the turkey, who's cooking it?
Eventually, though, the cutthroat competition among retailers to attract more shoppers led them to start opening earlier and earlier. It used to be that stores would open at six in the morning the day after Thanksgiving, and even then, people marveled at the dedication required to shake off a turkey (and booze) hangover at such an ungodly hour just to score a sweet deal on a Teddy Ruxpin or whatever the fuck. Nowadays, stores don't even wait for Thanksgiving to end. Walmart opens at goddamn 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night this year. This is the only time of year when a store opening too early actually counts as an inconvenience.
The concept of Black Friday is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that, if you just wait a few more days, you can get most of those same deals online without seeing so much as a single stampeding horde of shopping hooligans.
It's called Cyber Monday, and it's how grown-ups shop for stuff they don't need. Not only do you get to skip the inclement weather and long lines, you also get to shop while you should be working. It's all upside.
Nevertheless, at the exact same time this column hits the front page of Cracked, people all across the country will be Bloodsport-ing each other to get their hands on deals that will probably be available at any time for the rest of the year, because tradition says that's what they're supposed to do.