Which really is the cruellest month?

Personal affinities for T.S. Eliot aside, we never quite agreed that April is the cruellest month. But what is?

We can all agree that each month has its own character and its own ambience. But we also agree that these things resonate with us in a very subjective manner. So we decided to settle the age-old debate: What really is the cruellest month, and just as important, what’s the best?

We each brought our own criteria. Stunningly, Tim’s calendar pretty much revolves around sports and God. John, on the other hand, was motivated by weather and holidays. Josh, like John, was motivated by weather and, like Tim, by sports, but both factors paled in comparison to general “feel” and other intangibles.

12. February

Tim 12, John 9, Josh 12

TIM: February from my vantage point has a few big issues: 1. Even though I like winter, I’m sick of it by February; 2. Even though it now has the Super Bowl, it sacrificed the Pro Bowl; 3. Valentine’s Day remains America’s most harrowing holiday; 4. We’re down to one day for President’s Day.

The only thing February has going for it is that it’s over quickly.

big_bill_in_groundhog-731047JOHN: I’m not so much “pro-February” as I am less “anti-February.” I generally agree with Tim’s complaints. Other than the Super Bowl (which should really be in January) there are no interesting sports events in February, and the weather is nothing to get excited about. But I suppose what slightly redeems February for me are the always exciting leap years and Groundhog Day, which inspired one of the greatest movies of all time.

TIM: The NASCAR fans will be displeased, but yeah, the Daytona 500 doesn’t count as a sporting event.

11. August

Tim 11, John 12, Josh 9

JOHN: August is awful. First of all, it’s way too hot. It’s not hot in a sunny, let’s-wear-shorts way; it’s hot in an oppressive, humid, stifling, I-don’t-want-to-go-anywhere-or-do-anything-that-doesn’t-involve-air-conditioning way. Baseball’s going on, but it’s the post-trade deadline, pre-pennant race kind that gets overshadowed by preseason football. Also, August usually features an onslaught of fantasy football guides, leftover blockbluster movie releases like Snakes on a Plane, back-to-school sales and bugs. It also the only month without a SINGLE national holiday, despite being a full 31 days. I challenge Josh to name one good thing about August.

JOSH: One good thing about August, John? It’s part of the summer. John’s weather critique is specific to certain geographic areas but, regardless, summer isn’t just about weather. August has a relaxing feel. It is often when trips and vacations occur and the beginning of August is firmly part of summer break for those of us still pursuing an education. Oh, and was Inglourious Basterds one of those “leftover blockbuster movie releases?” Despite my defense, I still think August gives off an aura of ending, the end of summer, the dread of the start of the school year, etc. which is why I rank it ninth.

TIM: I always felt like I should like August, but its sense of finality ruined it for me. I’m glad I’m not alone there.

10. November

Tim 9, John 7, Josh 11

JOSH: I don’t like November. I feel like it’s a hectic month, the start of holiday nonsense such as Black Friday and early Christmas tree purchases.  People try to squeeze everything in before the holidays. Thanksgiving, too, isn’t that great: Turkey is, by far, the most overrated meat (I don’t care how good the gravy is…) and what’s the big deal about stuffing? And, it’s the start of weather cold enough that tennis isn’t really playable anymore.

JOHN: I have to put November high, I mean, Derek Jeter is Mr. November! November was also the month of one of my all-time favorite sporting events, Game 5 of the 2001 World Series. It also means the start of college basketball season and Thanksgiving, which is an overrated holiday, but still great. Also: Guy Fawkes Night! The only downside of November is that it the official beginning of Christmas season now comes on, like, November 8th.

9. April

Tim 10, John 4, Josh 8

TIM: March is really when I get excited about the start of spring, and while baseball season is nice, it doesn’t fill me with the same excitement some other sporting months do. The season is six months long. And as much as I love Jesus, Easter doesn’t really do it for me.

JOSH: The start of baseball season does excite me quite a bit. The Mets are ALWAYS in contention in April. And, I’m a big fan of spring; it’s my favorite season. Nonetheless, due to rain and Easter (Yes, that’s a negative for me. As I’ve said many a time, I don’t like events/activities that other people get far more excited for than me), April places lower than the other spring months.

8. September

Tim 8, John 1, Josh 10

Mets CollapseJOSH: I am a Mets fan and a student. So, September is the sign of the beginning of a significantly increased workload and inevitable disappointment (of late). Speaking of workload, Labor Day has to be in discussion for the worst U.S. national holiday. And, September 11th hasn’t been helping September either. The start of the NFL season is exciting, but the later months are significantly more exciting.

JOHN: I think the anti-September bias stems from residual feelings about school starting in September. But let’s be rational adults here: September has great weather, football season starts and hasn’t yet become tiresome, TV fall seasons kick off, Hollywood starts releasing its Oscar movies and, most importantly, it’s the final month of the baseball season, when we get to watch the playoff pushes and pennant races, and see the Mets finish one game out.

TIM: Did you just put the kickoff of the fall TV season on that list? Come on, John.

JOHN: Three words, Tim: Curb Your Enthusiasm (but not for September)

7. December

Tim 1, John 11, Josh 7

JOHN: There is probably nothing Tim and I disagree on more (except maybe the DH) than Christmas: Tim loves it, I hate it. And if you don’t like Christmas (in other words, if you’re not a fan of mob mentalities, consumerism, propaganda, sentimentality, and lying to children), then it’s pretty much impossible to have a favorable view of December. December is all about Christmas. Even things that aren’t about Christmas become either subordinate to or marginalized by the tyranny of Christmas. Did you guys know Bill of Rights Day was in December? I bet not, because you’re too busy being bombarded by images of Santa.

TIM: John’s irrational hatred of something that makes a large majority of other people happy aside,* December is just about perfect. I’m one of those weird individuals who loves cold weather despite not skiing or snowboarding, and Christmas Break (don’t let the secularists call it “Winter Break”) was undoubtedly my favorite time of year growing up. Unlike summer, it was short enough to stay worthwhile, there was no pressure to get a job or do anything productive. It’s the only time of year when I can sit back in a sweatshirt and pajama pants all day, watch Christmas movies, play Madden or NCAA College Football and never feel guilty. Plus, the end of the football season can be–usually isn’t, but if the Giants are right there, can be–as exciting as  September pennant race.

*I don’t know if this is the time or the place to have the Christmas debate.

And snow! How can anyone who isn’t primarily responsible for the cleanup of their driveway not like snow?


6. July

Tim 7, John 6, Josh 5

TIM: I think we all feel the same way about July: indifferent. For me, nothing really happens in July, and that’s kind of the way I want it.

JOSH: July snuck into my top five. I associate July strongly with relaxation. I admittedly am biased by my experiences as a student, but it’s in the middle of summer and I don’t need to worry about transitions, going back to school, etc. The middle of baseball season and the trade deadline are a plus as are the finals of Wimbledon. Still, extreme heat is not pleasing to me, which brings July down a bit.

5. January

Tim 6, John 8, Josh 4

JOHN: I don’t really have anything against January, but it’s pretty nondescript. It’s a little too cold for my taste, and occasionally we get blizzards here in the northeast. Those aren’t fun. I guess it has the NFL Playoffs (and, back in the day, the Super Bowl) which are nice, but the second best thing about January is Martin Luther King day, which doesn’t bode well.

TIM: Do I need to play the race card here? MLK Day is great; it’s like the only holiday bridging Christmas and Easter. Again, I really like cold weather, I really like blizzards, and I really like the NFL Playoffs. Therefore, I really like January.

4. June

Tim 3, John 10, Josh 1

JOHN: I’ll concede that June has nice weather, but I think it benefits from biases similar to those that doomed September: We remember June as the end of school. After high school, though, there isn’t really much exciting about June. Do Josh and Tim really get that psyched about the summer solstice? Or Father’s Day? Actually, the most exciting thing about June is probably Bloomsday.

JOSH: I do get excited for the summer solstice, particularly for solstice parties and comedians. The majority of June is also in Spring, my aforementioned favorite season primarily for weather reason. Baseball is going on, parts of the French Open and Wimbledon are in June, making it arguably the best month for tennis. And, there are TONS of positive intangibles. Just TONS. If June were being ranked Madden-style for intangibles, it would get a 99.

TIM: I don’t really know where Josh is going, and I also don’t know why school biases shouldn’t play a part in our rankings, John. School has been a pretty defining aspect of our lives to this point. And June, to me, was always a month of optimism and freedom.

And John: Flag Day? Ever heard of it?

3. May

Tim 5, John 5, Josh 2

TIM: I like May; unfortunately, it’s just a poor man’s June. I assume John’s sourness on June reflects the end of the TV season, no?

BlossomJOSH: This may seem like overt bias because May is my birthday month. But, this is why I didn’t rank May number one. The dominance of the Spring theme continues in May. Spring is my favorite season and May is the month that is most reflective of Spring. The weather is awesome and summer is approaching; yet it is not too hot. Also, Mother’s Day is better than Father’s Day. John’s (S., not L.) remark about those who claim George Harrison is their favorite Beatle holds for those who claim to like Father’s Day more. It is also Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM)!

2. October

Tim 4, John 3, Josh 3

JOHN: The World Series, and the baseball playoffs in general, are enough to catapult this into the top five, but the NFL season also picks up around this time of year, making it pretty good sports month. October also brings us Halloween which, when you’re a kid brings candy and when you’re an adult brings girls in revealing costumes. The holiday that keeps on giving.

TIM: I think I did the same thing as Josh, downplaying my birthday month. Although, when I think about it, while October generally excites me (for the reasons John lays out), it is true that many of the worst moments of my life have happened in October, and specifically on my birthday. Andruw Jones took ball four from Kenny Rogers, Brian Westbrook took a punt to the house, and Carlos Beltran took strike three from Adam Wainwright.

Although, yeah, Halloween’s awesome.

1. March

Tim 2, John 2, Josh 6

JOSH: Two words: Pi day.

TIM: Two words: March Madness.

JOHN: Two words: Spring Training!

TIM: That’s all we’re gonna say about our favorite month? Okay then.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James Schneider on September 2, 2009 at 2:59 AM

    John, you are really down on August. Come on, it has Equinunk and its equal to Christmas break.


  2. […] umbrage at my listing the start of the fall TV season as a reason to be excited about September back when we ranked the months. Well, I know it’s not a traditional thing to get excited about, but it’s mildly […]


  3. Posted by Jake on September 14, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    I agree with John about August, and with Tim about December. And Josh, did I miss it or did you not list a reason for hating February so much? One set of rankings would suggest that you hate it because it’s Black History Month…


  4. […] mentioned the best part of Halloween before. But we don’t like where this is going. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]


  5. […] is really cool though. Leave a Comment Today is Flag Day. Flag Day is my favorite joke holiday (as I’ve implied before), edging out Arbor Day and Columbus Day. But watching the World Cup has, among other things, […]


  6. […] should remember how we feel about August (read: not well), so we’re totally on board with David Plotz’s, umm, plot, to cut it down to a lean 10 […]


  7. […] I know we’ve reached a bit of a lull in the sports conversation when preseason NFL games are being broken down into minutiae and ESPN: The Magazine is ranking college football tunnel entrances in its latest issue. There’s a reason we all hate August. […]


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