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Dear Jon Letters: Eleventh Sort
Literary losers, gifts for the man who has everything, and Christmas trees: real or artificial?

by Dear Jon
December 18, 2000

Dear Jon Letters: Eleventh Sort_Dear Jon-Literary losers, gifts for the man who has everything, and Christmas trees: real or artificial? Dear Jon: Darth Vader, Ebenezer Scrooge, and the Grinch whole Stole Christmas, all have a change of heart in the end. Which of these three turns out to be the woosiest wimp? Sincerely, Literature Fan

Dear Rature: You only think you are a Literature fan, but any serious reader of literature knows the answer. It all depends on the purpose of the story being told. “A Christmas Carol” is a social and ethical commentary disguised as a ghost story, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” is a moral fable disguised as nonsense rhyme, and “Star Wars” is a pandering sell-out disguised as science fiction. If Scrooge goes to Hell, we would all ask, “What is the point?” Now, after the singing by the citizens of Whoville, the Grinch could have dumped the toys on Mt. Crumpet and retreat to his cave to sulk, bitter and defeated. However, his character is the only one in development in the story, so we would come away from the reading also dissatisfied.

That leaves Darth Vader. Vader started out with enormous potential, as an archetypal projection of the Shadow, the “dark side.” If you are a true enthusiast, you would know that Luke is a “hoser” for not joining the dark side. But Lucas, in my opinion, did not realize the power of what he had unleashed. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, knows that Darth Vader is the COOLEST character in the first two movies. In the third movie, Lucas, afraid that a generation of kids was going to follow Vader’s example, had to tame him. So we have the woosiest wimp of the three, throwing the Emperor into the pit, and now a whole series of prequels which try to explain all that away to keep Vader “cool,” but which have to resort to bringing out Darth Maul as a tacit admission that nothing will ever make Vader cool again, and which are left completely in the dust by the freshness, creativity, and effects of “The Matrix” anyway.

Dear Jon: Christmas is coming. What should I get for the man who has everything? Sincerely, Out of Ideas

Dear Ideas: Get him a subscription to Also, guys who have everything never have enough places to put them, so get him more storage: Such as, more stacking trays, or another tower for compact discs, or another two-drawer filing cabinet, or another box of floppies.

Dear Jon: My wife and I have this argument every year. Real tree, or artificial? Sincerely, Tree Hugger

Dear Tree: The simple test as to whether a tree is real or artificial, is to jab your index fingers on the needles. If it hurts, the tree is probably real. Another test is to smell it. Or, you could try pulling out a branch. If the branch pops loose, and then pops back in, its stems are plastic and the tree is fake. However, if the branch snaps, and exposing a sappy white fibrous substance that tears rather than popping cleanly, chances are it is a real tree.

If your question is whether to obtain a real tree for your home holiday decoration, or an artificial tree, the answer is that it depends on what you like and what you are allergic to. If you do not like real trees because their sap causes you to break into hives, you should get an artificial tree. If you do not like artificial trees because they are bourgeois, then get a real tree. If you do not want a real tree because it is living, and you are upset at the consumer demand that has created an industry of farms where trees are raised for slaughter, you should get an artificial tree. If you can’t find an artificial that is right for “you,” maybe you should check the real tree lot for just one more year. In the long run, an artificial tree will save you money, but you will not have the joy of having a unique tree with unique character every year. Still, real trees are getting more expensive all the time. Twenty dollars for a “table-top” tree! I couldn’t believe it! Twenty bucks for a bush that has already been killed!

We always get real trees. Each of the places we have lived have required different kinds of trees, and the artificial trees don’t afford that kind of flexibility. Plus, I have no problem with these trees having been cut down. I eat meat too, by the way, and I drink milk. We might get an artificial tree some year though, just to start saving money.

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