Ken Jennings


December 18, 2007

Ed Toutant reminds me that Anyone Can Play, the Internet quiz show that he and I (along with Kevin Olmstead and Nancy Christy) are going to be appearing on, begins airing tonight at 9 pm on Shokus Internet Radio.

My brother pointed out that yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of Elvis controversially getting banned from a TV variety show. Not that Elvis. This Elvis. You can watch the clip on YouTube–my brother noticed that the band (the Attractions, not SNL house musicians) is pretty clearly in on the switch in advance. Look at how unsurprised–almost bored–bassist Bruce Thomas seems at the sudden break.

In hindsight, this whole incident makes Costello look good and SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who banned him from the show for twelve years–look small. But is that only because “Radio Radio,” then unreleased, went on to become one of Costello’s signature songs, while nobody’s all that crazy anymore about the plodding “Less Than Zero”? Elvis got lucky.

At the store this morning, I was appalled to feel deeply conflicted saying “Merry Christmas” to the cashier. I was suddenly seized by the suspicion that it’s starting to be impossible to wish someone merry Christmas without sounding like a good ideological soldier. I love Christmas–sometimes I say “merry Christmas.” Sometimes I say “happy holidays,” especially if I suspect the recipient is more likely to be celebrating Hanukkah or Ramadan. But I’m not going to say “merry Christmas” at all anymore if Bill O’Reilly and his fellow “War on Christmas” blowhards on Fox News are turning “Merry Christmas” into some coded “Screw you if you’re Jewish/agnostic/atheist/other!”

If this idiocy continues, we’re going to need a new phrase every December, something that means, “Merry Christmas, including in the secular peace-on-earth-good-will-toward-men sense if that’s all you’re into and if the stupid Wiccans want to put dreamcatchers or whatever next to the nativity and the menorah in the park then that’s fine and I think it’s a disgrace to make Christmas-loyalty a battleground when you don’t really mean it anyway and it’s just a cynical ploy to rile up ratings in the red states.” Suggestions? I’ll make a T-shirt.

An ESPN crew just showed up at the house to film a short clip–for Kenny Mayne’s piece on this weekend’s Sunday NFL Countdown, I think. Gotta run.

Posted by Ken at 3:29 pm