DFHC 11/30/2011

Who’s Eating Ask Cool Daddy?

Dear Cool Daddy: I remember one year, you and Stolf were talking on the radio about the “cannibal” Christmas Tree. What in the world is the story behind that? Or shouldn’t I even ask? Gulp!  …from Ceylon, in South Colton NY

Dear Ceylon: I agree, it sounds rather unpleasant, but chalk it up to some people’s poor memories and/or general cultural ignorance.  Most artificial trees today are marketed under fanciful names…for example, below you see Kensington, Endicott, Preston, Van Buren, and McKinley Pines…mind you, these names correspond to no actual botanical species, they are just made-up “brand names.”

I googled them, coming up with 3 to 10 thousand hits apiece…(as opposed to the over 300 million hits you get with simply “pine”)…and needless to say, not one hit had the slightest arboreal, horticultural, or forestry connection…all were fake Xmas trees for sale. It’s intended to imbue these trees with a status, elegance…or “swelligance” if you will…that they simply don’t possess. They are just plastic Christmas trees, which is fine, but if you think a “Kensington Pine” is better than a mere “fake pine,” you’re barking up the wrong tree, dog-face.

And it can get downright silly…see the “Preston white pine” above? I don’t know how to break the news to you, but a White Pine is “white” because that’s the color of its wood…not its bark, and certainly not its needles, which are are green as can be.  D’oh!!  Lately I’ve been seeing something in ads called “Mixed Pine”…no clue as to what that might mean, probably because it doesn’t mean anything. And a “Cashmere” Christmas tree? Not made of yarn I hope? Again, nobody seems willing to come right out and actually explain it, but it always seem to be used with the phrase “Cashmere bottle-brush needles”…so if you don’t have one, and would like one, but can’t afford one this year, hang some you-know-whats (left) from your current pitiful tree, and hope your guests are fooled…

Now there are any where from 105 to 125 different species of pine trees, no one can agree exactly, plus many evergreens called pines that aren’t actually “true” pines. But the real ones include….Scotch, Swiss, Northern, bull, cluster, Jeffrey, Canadian, foxtail, loblolly, stone, lacebark, sugar…not to mention…red, white, yellow, blue, and black pines, all of which of course are green. But these names are apparently not “sexy” enough for the stores….they don’t nearly sound like something from a picture print by Currier and Ives. So you get Glenwood, Lakeshore, Bristol, Monticello, Rocky Mountain, Dawson, Sugarloaf, Scottsdale, Northfield, …all woodsy, wintery, or Westerny sounding…and yes, even Donner Pine…seen below, from 2007.

So what? There they are on the map…not hurting anyone, right? Donner Pass and Donner Lake in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, west of Truckee, California. Trouble is, these places are so named because it is there that, in November of 1846, a group of pioneers lead by George Donner and his family were stranded by heavy snow…only 45 of the 81 survived, and some did indeed resort to cannibalism…altho it is generally believed they ate only those who had died of illness or starvation, and did not actually kill anyone just to eat them.

The Donner Party is today seen as one of the most spectacular tragedies in California history…but on the positive side, it did result in more effective systems of relief and rescue for trapped travelers. And that’s why people in that part of the country remember and commemorate the episode, and don’t shy away from its more gruesome elements. Pictured below are 2 of the survivors, James and Margaret Reed. Altho last year, archaeologists examined bones from the reputed camping site, and found they were cattle, horses, dogs, but no humans. Well, like they say: Everything you know is wrong. What’s more likely is, those they ate were given proper burials, with only the animal bones left strewn about.

So naming a Christmas tree “Donner Pine” probably was a bit much…unless they meant the reindeer whose real name is Donder…but I doubt it. Still, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention in American History class, you know?

Not So Wicked Ballsy

Xmas tree fads come and they go…see here for 2 recent beauts. Now I suppose with some things, less is more, but I’ll never agree that that applies to Xmas trees. On the right, a silly thing from Target, called a “slim” or sometimes “pencil” tree. Not for nothing, but back in the day, this might have been called a “cigarette tree”…LOLOLOL…and on the left, a strange “pull-up” contraption…doesn’t show how you get from the 3rd stage in the small illustration to the finished product…”add the top” seems to leave something to be desired, nez pah?

shameless plugs, round and firm and fully packed…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com  and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Deep Fried Hoods Cups Daily Blog:    https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com/

Other Daily Blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com  (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)

More bloggage at  http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com  and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Updated Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com/p/resume.html

Audio samples at  http://stolfspots.podbean.com

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