The new and improved Prairie Dogg hands out blessings, every one.

Season's Gratings 

The new and improved Prairie Dogg hands out blessings, every one.

Jesus, you're a mean bastard.

Man, you're a dick. You really aren't very nice. Somebody's going to kick your ass. Has anybody kicked your ass?

That's the kind of feedback this column garners from friends and family. You can only imagine what the people with no moral obligation to love and support the Prairie Dogg might say. Exhibit A: Kasper the Not-So-Friendly Ghost (see Letters) offering to extract my molars with the heels of his Timberlands lest I get my "fucking teeth knocked out" whilst stepping to his crew and offering my opinion on his obvious aversion to punctuation.

But that's behind us now. This Thanksgiving, I became a new Dogg. Somewhere between gorging on gutted bird and chugging Irish car bombs, I was seized by indigestion and the holiday spirit. I came face to face with my own frailties. Like Ebenezer Scrooge if his moment of clarity had been provoked by three bong hits instead of three apparitions.

How had I become such a cynical fuck? Maybe my mom held me too much or not enough. Perhaps my heart was two sizes too small. Or my penis. Maybe I have more hair on my back than on my head. Perhaps I'm too fat. Too stupid. Too self-assured.

Well, that's going to change, for a week at least. This column will scour for the silver lining. Celebrate my fellow man. Refuse to be the Grinch Who Stole Local Musicians' Self-esteem. No longer put down mediocre guitar players or put Canadian pennies in the Salvation Army donation box. Refuse to give bad reviews to bad bands or donate past-expiration tomato paste to canned food drives. No more dumping scalding oil on Christmas carolers or blowing out the menorah.

Instead, I'll pluck a lesson from the first Thanksgiving meal: When you're cranky and cannibalistic and someone offers to feed, clothe and train you to survive, accept their help, break bread, then slaughter your new friends and steal their land. Decades later, celebrate the event in sappy grade-school plays as the birth of the potluck. Suddenly rape, murder, pillaging and pestilence become love, understanding, cheap cardboard turkeys and "pass the candied yams."

As June Carter Cash cooed, keep on the sunny side of life. Old JCC is worm food now, but she brings up a good point. Music is the sunny side of life along the Kansas-Missouri butt crack. Without it, we all would have nothing better to do than sit on the banks of the Missouri River, drool on our overalls, sip thunderwater and comment on how our sister sure has a purty mouth.

I can do this. Musicians are people, too.

Instead of suggesting that the Baloney Ponyz should each be shot twice in the head and their dismembered limbs sent as a warning to all musicians who would threaten to resurrect hair metal, I salute their bravery as staunch defenders of all things acid-washed. Instead of scoffing in smug irritation at a guy named Los Cauz who vigorously pimps the hip-hop group Soul Servers with a flood of phone messages and barely intelligible e-mail manifestos ("Ya'll practicically [sic] giving the City to the machines," he suggests in one), I applaud his diligence in promoting the group's weekly show at the Hurricane.

See, that's not so hard.

I can also eradicate the filthy language that plagues this column by learning from the geriatrics at The Kansas City Star. With a little know-how and elbow grease, I can utilize my moral compass to steer clear of how people actually talk. Thus, an unsightly quote such as "Shit! Ya'll motherfuckers can suck my dick, you damn cocksucking whore assholes! Fuck!" can be translated into a spirited, family-friendly passage like "[Shoot]! [All you] [miscreants] can suck my [toe], you [darn] [toe]sucking [ladies of the night] [or] [disagreeable gentlemen]! [Fudge]!"

Presto, kazaam! No naughty words. No frowns to turn upside down. Now, bands who send stickers, pastries or Laotian prostitutes as incentives for reviewing their albums aren't using bribery; they're being friendly. When the members of Crooked River send us stickers, two copies of their latest CD, some tricked-out truffles from Andre's and a woman in fishnets calling herself Suzy Triple Happiness, they're not being manipulative and presumptuous, just good neighbors.

I, too, can be a good neighbor.

It's a glorious day. You there! The remarkable boy down there! Here's a half-crown. Go and buy me that prize turkey in the window! Give every little musical Bob Cratchit his rightful bling bling! Oh, happy day! Tiny Tim, take us home. God bless us, every one.

Now, [flake] off.

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