Some holiday observations to snack on - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Some holiday observations to snack on

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Mark J. Scarp is a contributing columnist for the Tribune. Reach him at

Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 11:30 am, Mon Nov 26, 2012.

A few off-hand thoughts from a man who had too much pumpkin pie …


Why is Black Friday such a madcap spending spree frequently marked by an appalling abandonment of virtues we grew up with? You know, such as fair play and sharing?

With varying degrees of sincerity, people spent Thursday being grateful for what they had, promptly followed by the sudden realization that they don’t have enough. A person has to make sure to have adequate stuff to be sufficiently appreciative next Thanksgiving, right?

Stores are battling Internet sales – although from the long lines wrapped around them on Friday morning it’s hard to see they’re not getting enough business – with offers to match online prices, or prices charged by other brick-and-mortar competitors. This says that lots of people really like to stand in line instead of bathe in the glow of their laptops.

And so, as long as there are lines, the tradition of Black Friday is worth keeping, even though it’s not really the busiest shopping day of the year (and hasn’t been for many years; it’s now the Saturday before Christmas).


Now that Hostess bakery products seem destined to go the way of Burma Shave (or should that be Myanmar Shave?), at least one bizarre legal argument is being remembered: The Twinkie Defense.

Back in 1979, a psychiatrist testified that a diet of Hostess Twinkies and sugary sodas had something to do with former San Francisco County Supervisor Dan White’s strange way of looking at life. White was found guilty of manslaughter in the 1978 shooting deaths of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall.

No other assertions of the “Twinkie Defense” have been made in American courts, although in 1977 an attorney argued that a Florida man, accused of killing his neighbor, did so after a TV-viewing diet of several episodes of one of that decade’s most popular bang-bang detective dramas, “Kojak.”

For the record, while I’m sure that many have eaten cheese curls while watching “Hawaii Five-O” or “CSI,” no evidence exists that such a practice has ever influenced anyone to do anything except reach for antacid tablets.


You may have heard of “negative impact” exercise, but not quite like this.

As reported last week in the Tribune, Mesa’s Mountain View High School alumni will participate in the ninth annual “Nog-a-Thon,” a Dec. 15 charity race involving running around a track and consuming an (unspiked, I’m certain) 8-oz. cup of egg nog after finishing each lap (hold the nutmeg?). This worthy cause will benefit Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit that, the story says, has a Tempe site where volunteers gather to pack “millions of meals” for many of the world’s hungry children.

While participating runners may not realize any net improvement to their health, let’s hope that the health of those starving kids will improve. Information is at

No word on whether an East Valley school will host a Fruitcake-a-Thon, where a beefy slice of the substance annually destined for paperweight and doorstop duty across America will be served upon the completion of each lap around a track. Now, that’s really called running through the pain for a good cause.


Finally, just because you don’t have to deal with it at the ballot box for two more years doesn’t mean it’s not your job to keep tabs on your elected representatives. Take a long, hard look at who got elected this time and vow, as I have, to have enough of your own carefully recorded observations to refer to when considering giving anyone another term.

Nothing too detailed, mind you. Just something like: “tax hike, voted no” or “aid to Somewhereistan, voted yes” or “spent too much time criticizing other party when his did the same thing not too long ago.”

You’ll feel much better advising yourself with what you know than by having someone on television advise you with what they know. And your notes will lack sound effects and shock graphics, too, a very good thing. Believe me, those will be back.


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