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The annual 'Airing of Grievances'

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By Stephen Lega

I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it! Frank Constanza, "Seinfeld", Dec. 18, 1997  

The Christmas season is here, or should I say, the Christmas shopping season has arrived.

But that means something else just as important is on the horizon: Festivus.

Granted the celebration of the annual holiday invented by Frank Costanza (of Seinfeld) may not be as widely celebrated as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, but Festivus, which officially takes place Dec. 23, does have its adherents. For evidence of this, please see the official website, www.festivusbook.com.

There you can refresh your memory about the essential elements of the celebration, see photos of how the minimalist holiday is commemorated throughout the country and read some aired grievances, my personal favorite part of the holiday.

And given the state of the economy, the cost of holding a Festivus celebration will fit in any budget. Just get an aluminum pole and ... that's it. That's all you need and your holiday is set.

There's no need to decorate your house, buy gifts or extend pleasantries to anyone you don't like.

To get in the Festivus spirit, I've decided to air a few grievances of my own. Consider it my contribution to help you get started, and please keep in mind, that some grievances are more serious than others.

- Alert readers, namely you, James Spragens. While I "appreciate" you making me aware of mistakes, in truth I find your "knowledge" troublesome as your insistence on the use of "facts" detracts from the arguments I'm trying to make in my columns.

- Editors (and you know who you are). Every writer knows that editors are a necessary evil, but there is no question they are evil. I don't know how much more I can listen to your "suggestions" for making stories more readable, more interesting and less confusing. (And yes, people do want to read about Festivus, I think.)

- Radio programmers. My desk just happens to be the closest one to the speakers in our office, so I frequently - and I stress frequently - get to hear the latest pop songs, it seems, about 15 times a day. Seriously, mix it up a bit. If I'm going to be stuck listening to music I don't particularly like, at least don't play the same songs twice an hour.

- Christmas cards. I know a lot of people (including my mother) love these. Many people will go so far as to hang them up like decorations on and around doorways or on shelves. If I'm really friends with someone, I keep up with them throughout the year, not just in December. And if your only contact with me is sending me a card once a year, then well, we probably aren't friends anyway.

Either way, don't send me a card.

- Vampires. You're nothing but overgrown leaches, and stay away from my neck!

- Psychics. Seriously, you're not. Quit pretending you have "powers." Quit claiming you are using your "gift" to help others, and just admit you are taking advantage of emotionally distraught people.

- College football. The BCS isn't fooling anyone. College football won't have a real national champion until it has a playoff, and besides, there are too many bowl games anyway. (And in light of the recent federal bailouts, maybe a few banking and automotive companies should reconsider how much money they spend to sponsor these games.)

Depending on what happens in the Big 12, SEC and MAC championship games, there may be as many as four undefeated teams and five one-loss teams at the end of the regular season. Of course, under the current system only one undefeated team (Alabama) is even being considered for a possible spot in the alleged BCS championship. Apparently, there is nothing Utah, Boise State and Ball State can do to earn any kind of a shot at the "big game" under the current system. The argument being that those teams couldn't beat the teams from the bigger conferences even though Utah has already beaten two of them this year, Boise State has beaten one and just two years ago Boise State beat Oklahoma (something most "experts" said couldn't be done).

Of course, if Florida beats Alabama in the SEC title game and Missouri upsets Oklahoma (who is only in the Big 12 championship because of the BCS ratings) that could leave college football with six one-loss teams and three unbeatens (again, Utah, Boise State and Ball State).

Under that scenario, it appears only the unbeaten teams will be excluded from consideration for the so-called championship. No matter what, fans should recognize that it's a lie when analysts claim the entire season is like a playoff in college football. If that's true, then small conference teams are playing a season-long play-in game, some schools are playing a double-elimination bracket and as LSU showed last season, a few very special teams get to play a triple-elimination format.

- ESPN. This is directly related to the previous entry. ESPN just signed a $500 million contract (according to the Los Angeles Times) for the right to broadcast four BCS bowl games for four years starting in 2011.

I'm sure ESPN wasn't the only organization bidding for the right to broadcast these games, but since it won, it will get the blame for providing the financial incentive to perpetuate the idiotic BCS/bowl system.

- And last but not least, newspaper columnists. What makes them think anyone cares about their opinions? (Hey, wait a minute ...)

Have a Festivus everyone. I'll let you decide if you want it to be merry or not.