Weekly Pond(er): Christmas bans, El Niño weather, more on Star Wars

Illustration by Mary Vertulfo

When I heard Somalia and Brunei officially banned public Christmas festivities, all I heard was Pat Sajack’s voice announcing, “Pack your bags, but not your Santa hats or Rudolph noses!”

Christmas fell on a Friday this year, which seemed nice for many who got an extra-long weekend for the holidays. Unfortunately, next year is a leap year, making Christmas fall on a Sunday – no vacation days there. Even though my family and I don’t celebrate Christmas, having everyone at home at once to watch endless amounts of Home Alone/Elf/Love Actually and to enjoy the excessive holiday cheeriness is a treat. It all can get to be too much, with the radios abuzz with jingle this and nuts that, and stores shoving sales down our throats left and right. For people who do get annoyed with American society during this time year, I have a solution for you – move to Brunei or Somalia! This week, both of these governments announced a ban on PDCs as I call it – Public Displays of Christmas – because they believe it can be damaging to the Muslim faith.

Winter is finally here, but some parts of the U.S. are having zero chill. I am currently visiting the East Coast right now where Sunday’s high was a scorching 70 degrees in Philadelphia. A lot of people are huffing and puffing about the weird weather being another effect of global warming, but it also has a lot to do with it being an El Niño year. Because of this, meteorologists predicted from the get-go that the North would have a warmer than usual winter in 2015-16 and the South would be cooler and wetter.

A number of southern states and parts of the Midwest have experienced intense storms this past week, resulting in flooding, mudslides and a massive tornado outbreak. As of Sunday, Dec. 27, the death toll has reached at least 17 and around 60 people have been injured as a result of the ravaging twisters. These types of tornadoes usually hit during springtime, but for two years in a row now, December has been a damaging month in these areas. The states that were hit by these weather-related tragedies include Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Indiana. If you feel so inclined to get in on the action from a distance, there’s nothing like feeling full-on storm anxiety than watching footage of storm chasers doing their thing.

Luckily in Eugene, the biggest weather issue lately has been the rain – buckets and buckets of rain. Our rivers and lakes are high. Freeways are getting trickier and trickier to drive on. And some elevated parts of town, like Spencer’s Butte, have snow as of this week! The question on everyone’s tongue: do you want to build a snowman?! Portland got some snow on Sunday as well, but too bad it was the non-commitment type; therefore, no snowmen-building yet.

Now that I got the weather small talk out of the way, let’s talk toys. For whichever gift-giving holiday it may have been for, people really need to lay off the whole hoverboard craze. I’m serious – danger danger! Not only do hoverboards make people both young and old extremely lazy, but more importantly, they’re also a hazard to everyone’s well-beings. Then again, what’s done is done, and as seen with the storms of the South and Midwest this week, tragedy can quickly turn into entertainment by means of technology and social media. The videos of people trying out their new hoverboards on Christmas morning and then eating it are pretty amusing, if that’s your thing.

Also for entertainment, there’s that one little movie that came out last week called Star Wars or something. No thanks to me, the seventh installment of the series made over a billion dollars worldwide faster than any other movie in history. In just the U.S., the film grossed $544.6 million in box office sales in just 10 days. In the past, around and on Christmas day has been a successful weekend for movie premieres, but Star Wars shattered this week’s new movies in numbers. From Friday to Sunday, Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed $153.5 million, Will Ferrell’s Daddy’s Home was at $38.8 million and the one I made sure to see, J. Law’s Joy, grossed an unfortunate $17.5 million. If you’re into films featuring the dynamic-trio of Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, think Silver Linings Playbook, then Joy is a must. Ignore the numbers – I thoroughly enjoyed the picture and all its drama.

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