As I may have mentioned before, I hate winter. Hate it. I wouldn't say my dislike of the coldest of the seasons is on par with, say, Roger Ebert's loathing of North, but it comes pretty close.

The land, almost all the way from here to Manitoba, is flatter than Britney Spears' voice, and once a cold front forms in Flin Flon, there's nothing to stop it from falling right down the map on top of us — and it's no consolation knowing that the Dakotas and Nebraska and even Kansas get it first. If anything, the time lag just builds up the inevitable apprehension.

And it's not just the cold, either. (As I write this, snow is falling outside my window, and given the construction standards prevalent when this building was constructed, I'm surprised it's not falling inside my window.) In an effort to make this time of the year bearable, the cultural arbiters have inflicted upon us a panoply of dubious celebrations, starting with the smug self-absorption (not to mention calorie absorption) of Thanksgiving, continuing with the botched pagan festival which is all that remains of Christmas, dissolving into the mishmash of bacchanalia and banality that constitutes New Year's, and finally descending into the hormonal fatuity of Valentine's Day. Not only are these hollow holi