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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 26, 2008

snowman (r)evolution – Part III: snobesity

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 6:41 pm

. . . As demonstrated on our lawns, and in cartoons, comic strips, and movies, Americans have long imbued their snowmen with the same frailties, foibles and fate as humans.

a little dizzy
after chemo — replacing
the snowman’s head

………………… by dagosan

Through our snowmen, in addition to the shenanigans perpetrated by Calvin & Hobbes, we have depicted:

Our fear of death (which is quite unlike the acceptance of impermanence symbolized by snow buddhas), as demonstrated by

Linus‘ poignant mourning in Peanuts over his melted snowman (which was reprised just this month in the Schenectady Daily Gazette), and the search for immortality depicted in Charles Addams

Snowman in Freezer. [See more of his work in a series of holiday cards from from]

snow turns to rain –
our Buddha’s visit
cut short

………………….. by dagosan

Our evil side – as seen

[“Thaw!”] – in the mundane mendacity of John Callahan’s fleeing, frosty bank-robber, who will surely spend a stretch in the cooler, even if defended by Calvin & Hobbes fan, and criminal defense lawyer, Scott Greenfield. (You can find “Thaw!” in the classic Callahan collection, “Do Not Disturb Any Further,” Harper/Quill 1990). [By the way, the cover of Do Not Disturb Any Further has graced my kitchen wall (and an occasional doorknob) for almost two decades.]

sudden blast of wind –
she borrows the snowman’s
hat and gloves

…………………….. by dagosan

He’s Road Chill” – or, the long-simmering, soul-numbing vengeance evidenced on January 11, 2008, in Crankshaft‘s chilling vehicular (snow)manslaughter scene.

– and, the all-consuming malevolent presence in the upcoming movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (via Bob at Today’s Snowman)

Our Towering Tackiness:

Everywhere you look across our land, we are now confronted by the very-American (and sadly, also –British), plague of inflatable snowmen. They loom over our lawns and in our public spaces. As Bob Eckstein, author of ”The History of the Snowman,” told USA Weekend (“5 things you need to know about Snowmen,” Dec. 16, 2007):

Every 8-foot-high blow-up snowman is a lost opportunity of a God-given gift we all have: artistic expression.”

Boxing Day drizzle
the inflatable snowman
keeps smiling

…………… by dagosan

Their/Our Obesity

What is, however, particularly worrisome for me, is the fact that Americans have — over the past few decades and ever-increasingly — actually started to make thinner snowpersons, while taking on the most obvious characteristic of their traditional snowmen icons: We’ve turned into a nation of apple- and pear-shaped fatties. Sadly, though, when exposed to a little sun, we seem not to shrink but to expand further, double-scoop ice-cream or sno-cone in hand.

This snobesity affects not just our men, but also our women and children, who’d rather let little motors inflate their snowmen, while packing on pounds that shorten their own breaths and lifespans. (For a very scary consequence, see, “Study: Stroke Risk Triples for Women Ages 35 to 54,” All Things Considered, February 21, 2008, interview of Dr. Amy Towfighi — The risk is now greater for women than men in that age group, with the apparent cause being excess weight, shown by an increase in waist size of more than two inches since a similar study only a decade ago. My earlier concern for Baby-Boomer daddies constructing snowmen must now, therefore, extend to even younger mommies.)

a sparrow chirping
in his lap…
snow Buddha

………. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

Denial/Delusion: The USA Weekend article on snowmen (“5 things you need to know,” Dec. 16, 2007) demonstrated another troublesome all-American habit (including, Italo-American, if my female relatives are any indication): the delusional belief that you can somehow work-off snowman-size appetites with exercise. Thus, the article says:

4. Constructing one can be a good workout. Calories burned per hour in building a snowman: 238.

Sorry, friends, but it is really hard to work off the effects of any particular snack or dessert with activity — especially in a world where a single cookie often constitutes a few hundred calories (and a mere 200 extra calories a day will add 20 pounds to your body in a year). That’s true because the activity has to burn more calories than you would have otherwise burned (create a net calorie deficit), in order to counter the effects of a particular splurge.

snack break —
no hot cocoa
for the half-built snowman

…………. by dagosan

Let me give you an example from a recent sordid, eating-disorder episode of my own: About a week ago, despite my frequently deriding the fact that our local convenience chain, Stewart’s Shops, markets its 1200-calorie pints of ice cream as “Spooners” meant to be an individual snack, I brought home not a Spooner but a full, 64-oz. half-gallon container of their Peanut Butter Pandemonium ice cream. And, then, I spent about a half hour eating it all by myself.

Yes, I’m appalled (and a little ashamed), too. For your information, Stewart’s Pandemonium is a lot like Perry’s Light Panda Paws (except it has the full complement of milk fat) — as Stewart’s explains: “This vanilla ice cream is loaded with peanut butter cups, peanut butter and fudge swirls.” I had always assumed that Pandemonium was meant to grab fans of Panda Paws, but Stewart’s originally called it Peter Butter Pan, when introduced in December 2005, in conjunction with the road-show production of “Peter Pan” at Proctor’s, Schenectady’s wonderful refurbished theater. But, I indeed digress.

A half-gallon of Peanut Butter Pandemonium contains 16 so-called “individual servings” of ice cream, at 210 calories per serving, for a total of 3360 calories. If I wanted to counteract that many calories, I’d have to do a lot of snowman-making. The 238-calories per hour suggested in USA Weekend comes to 14 hours of snowmen creation. That number is daunting enough but, as indicated above, we really need to count net or additional calories burned.

As “Calories Burned During activity and exercise,” from the Community Health department of Tooele County, Utah, reminds us: “Everything you do burns calories from sleeping to breathing to flipping on a light switch.” Just sleeping burns 60 calories an hour for the average person; watching TV burns 75, and an hour of “mall-type shopping” burns 110 calories. Indeed, although an hour of vigorously playing squash uses 650 calories, just “Impatiently (nervously) standing in line (body twitching, stamping feet)” burns – 140 per hour.

Brain Work; study, desk job, accounting, computer work, heavy concentrating, some moving around” – burns 110 calories per hour.

For numbers that correspond with your size, see “Calories Burned During Exercise,” from NutriStrategy, which gives information for persons weighing 130, 155 and 190 pounds, and indicates that a 190-pounder burns about 50% more than 130-pounder. A 155-pounder like myself burns 211 calories in an hour of cooking/food preparation.

Therefore, if I’m going to work off that half-gallon of Pandemonium, the above numbers and analysis suggest that I’m going to need to substitute 27 hours of snowman-making for a similar amount of time that I would have spent here at my computer working on this weblog. Of course, if Mama G. or a pretty neighbor offers me a cup of hot cocoa to warm up my freezing old body, I’ll need to add another hour sculpting Frosty.

Yep, this three-part series on Snowmen (which started here, and then went there) has just about worn me out. As I sit here, Schenectady and most of eastern New York State is getting a wonderful new blanket of snow. If I’m lucky, my neighbors will treat me to a party-full of new snowmen in the morning, and I’ll get to adopt one or two to keep in hats, and eyes and noses, as February wanes. May you create or espy, and totally enjoy, a few of your own.

he’s holding one
the Buddha

……………… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

first snow…
the children’s hangers
clatter in the closet

……………… by Michael Dylan Welch – from The Open Window (click for orig. photo-poem)

p.s. Wallace Stevens is the most famous poet-lawyer. But, I have to admit: his poem The Snow Man is way over my head and underscores my preference for really short poems.


  1. Never underestimate the haiku defense (it was short, but didn’t rhyme).

    Comment by shg — February 27, 2008 @ 8:49 am

  2. Hi. My name is Chris Canos. I have one of the best sites on the net for American style fridge freezers. I would like to offer all of your clients a 25% discount off anything on my site. Please email me if you would like me to place a link on my site to yours – this way I can assist your SEO rankings. Thanks in advance. Chris.

    Comment by Chris Canos — February 12, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  3. Chris, Thanks for the offer, but I don’t do commercial deals, don’t have clients (I’m retired), and don’t need any SEO help.

    I took the name of your business out of the name box, because I really do not like comments that look more like an ad than a response to one of our postings.

    Comment by David Giacalone — February 12, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

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