Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve: Judgment Of The Storm

Well, it's New Year's Eve again, a day for looking back on the old year passing as well as the promises of the new year coming. Of course you always hope when you reach it that looking back will be a happy time, and looking forward will be even happier. Alas, it doesn't always work out that way.

I woke up this morning feeling a little tired. The dog's had something wrong with her, and I heard her loudly hacking about 2 in the morning. I got up to see what was going on and there was a little yellow puddle of spit-up on the rug by my bed. I took it to the hamper, the dog following me, who then made signs like she needed to go out. We went out and she took a No. 2, the whole thing then sticking to her fur and needing to be cleaned off in the sink. I felt a little nauseous and couldn't get back to sleep.

I finally did doze off, and woke up to a winter wonderland in progress -- snow. It's snowing still, so this must be the day for it. I had breakfast, the toast burnt (need to check the dial each time) and my eggs messed up, meaning the yolk was hard. I thought, Crap, if this is how New Year's is going to go ... but I said I wouldn't be depressed. The snow is coming down, it's white and piling up like crazy, I need to see it as something of a promise, a new start.

A new start was what I would have! Wouldn't it be great to go out in the storm, there to eat a few flakes as they fell, thereby saving myself a little extra work later shoveling. And I could use the time to take personal inventory, matching beautifully, I hoped, the newness of the day to the oldness of my life. I took a look in the mirror, swallowing my morning pills. What a lot of lines. What's happening to me?

I went out and kicked a bit of snow and immediately stubbed my toe on a big rock. It didn't hurt terribly, so I walked on, thinking, thinking, ever thinking -- I can't stop, sometimes my thinking is torture. Thinking of everything I've done wrong in the course of the year, and how tomorrow's not likely to be any better. I'm the guy, you may recall, who brags about his willpower. Well, so much for willpower; I'm still eating bad, not getting enough exercise, I'm tired all the time, and my dog's sick. If I don't die, it'll be a miracle.

In my walk I thought I'd wander away from the yard, get down the street, and maybe my perspective would be different. Of course my feet and legs aren't used to lifting that much wet snow, with more coming down all the time. I'm thinking, I could just collapse here and die of exposure. There's nobody out today, they wouldn't find me for a week. Or I could test my limits and keep going, which I did.

Along the way I started thinking of all my regrets and personal failings. Here I am, almost 60, one foot in the grave, and what have I really accomplished? One day is about the same as any other, there's never any personal progress. Sure, I fill out the Sudoku in the newspaper once in a while, the easy ones. I write my blog. And the dog needs me; she's on her last legs. But that's it. My big hopes of sailing the world, winning a fortune in Monaco, owning a picturesque chalet in Switzerland, writing a bestseller, being the Fifth Beatle, and becoming the CEO of IHOP, are obviously doomed to failure. I can't even adequately convey the misery this gives me.

Having walked about as far as I physically could, I looked over. What?! The dog had gotten herself trapped in a big wet drift. I had to go over and use up 99% of my remaining strength getting her and myself out, once I'd become trapped. That meant I only had 1% strength left to make it all the way home! Which, think about it, it can't be done! I have no reserve.

But somehow I got home. I don't know how. Maybe the dog dragged me -- uphill. She seems out of breath, more so than usual. I was seeing these terrible red flashes when I blinked my eyes right before I (apparently) passed out. Then I don't remember anything else. But here I am, typing this. I have a cup of hot coffee, although I spilled the first cup and burnt my leg.

Yet, I'm still hoping for a Happy New Year -- and even if it's with my last dying breath, that's going to be my wish for you, too -- but I just don't see how it's going to happen...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Come Back, Vam Moose!

What's in a name? A rose by any other name might run just as fast, especially if it was a literal-minded moose with a weird name like Vam Moose. You get it, right? His name sounds like the word that's synonymous with Scram! Evacuate promptly! and Git!

There's this kid, Seward, who brought Vam Moose home from the frozen wastelands of Alaska when he was a kid up there on vacation. Vam was very small, a baby.

So anyway, he's no longer in Alaska. He's down in the United States, Seward and his new moose, and he gives him this name, as I previously spelled it out, Vam Moose. Seward seriously wasn't expecting any trouble, but Vam Moose, being fairly smart, it seems, took it literally, and scrammed, evacuated promptly, and git every time he heard it.

Seward was out playing with Vam and he forgets and calls out, "Vam Moose!" and Vam immediately runs. And Vam runs fast. He has a very sleek coat, one of the sleekest coats young Seward has ever seen in his short life. The sleekness adds to Vam's speed, there being very little air resistance to ruffle his fur and hence slow him down. So once he gets going, he can't just stop on a dime.

Once Vam kept running so far away, Seward put up posters on every post in the country, saying he answers to the name Vam Moose. You can imagine what happened. Everyone who called out to Vam only caused him to run farther away. That time, Vam was finally spotted leaping over the Florida Everglades, that's how far south he went.

Seward got him home, and it seemed like it'd be a happy ending. But it wasn't, because Seward's mom was calling Vam over nicely to eat some food, Vam heard his name and kicked the crap out of the house, and went through a window. In the melee he managed to kick over his plate of food, which went everywhere, and also cut his leg pretty badly. Enough to have stitches, if they ever manage to get him to the vet.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

That One Chair

I thought he was a very debonair fellow, and so likely to be fairly memorable. We met him -- a close friend and I -- at a party we attended, around a pool with no one swimming and everyone enjoying barbecue.

The guy looked something like a retired ambassador, even a snob, but I recall he was nice. I remember telling him about my game toe, although admittedly it was just something I shared generally with the group, so it wasn't that I was focusing on him alone. His name was Troy, that much I remember. It actually didn't stick with me, the memory of his name, but if I sat and thought about it, sounding out various sounds in my head, I could come up with it.

A lot of acquaintances are like that. If you don't have some good reason to remember them, you don't. And with Troy, it was basically just that one time I saw him up till recently. Just a further word on it, I probably should have remembered him better, because he offered me services in whatever line of work he is in, something to do with either construction, equipment for rent, or apartment management. Not being in the market for anything, I made a mental note of it and promptly forgot.

Time passed by. Years. It's been almost two years since that night. When who do I run into but the same guy, downtown, eating at the same restaurant, chicken wings. "Hey!" He didn't call me by name, and I remembered his name only after we'd parted.

But my lack of memory isn't anything compared to the close friend referred to above. I was telling her that I'd run into Troy downtown. And she went, "Who?" I tried to describe him. We were at the barbecue, he was a debonair looking guy, his hair, his clothes, his line of work, etc., the kid and wife he claimed to have overseas, etc., but none of it rang a bell.

And I was thinking, trying to remember more, and said, "We were sitting here and he was sitting over there, you know, in that one chair." This was one of the clearest memories I had, besides his physical appearance -- being fairly debonair -- the chair he was seated on and where it was in relation to the rest of the guests. But, no, even that didn't ring a bell for her.

Some people's memories are terrible. But mine is pretty good, on average.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Have A Transcendent Merry Christmas

It's that time again, time for us to share our best wishes for Christmas to each one. As the song says, "It's the most wonderful day of the year."

That's something to think about, "The most wonderful day of the year." The buildup to it takes over a month, then you get to "the most wonderful day of the year," and it's suddenly over. As far as days go, just speaking for myself, I'm so hepped up by it that I could crash at any time. Because it seems like there's a thin line between enjoying "the most wonderful day of the year" and being completely depressed.

Ah, but we'll leave the pathological aspects of the holiday aside for the day. Like guns, there's no good time to talk about such things. Not with every merchant in the world just scraping by and depending on us to keep our spending up. I've done my part, both to support online merchants as well as the occasional brick and mortar guy. As the mouse in the psychological experiment knows, we must must must keep plodding along. Don't want the local scientist to be down in the mouth ... not at Christmas.

This year I'm liking the Christmas message you see above, which I didn't write but have adopted as my own. "We hope this season will transcend all of its predecessors in Real Happiness!" Undoubtedly, some blockhead came up with that. Because more normally, we hear "Have the Merriest of Christmases," or "the Best Christmas Ever." That's all our blockhead said, only in a more convoluted way.

On the plus side of it, I like the word "transcend" and "transcendent," which you hardly ever hear, even in church. In this case, though, the transcending, you could argue, isn't transcending in any kind of mystical way, but is only transcending previous Christmases. Still, it's fairly cool, if you can somehow top all the previous ones.

That's my hope for you, that when it comes to your Christmas, assuming there's a way truly to qualify all this year's predecessors and how transcendent they've been in relation to one another, that this one will transcend all of them in Real Happiness!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Guns Guns: Kill Kill Kill Maniac Die

Our dear country, the United States of America, is being overrun by maniacal killers. Hardly a month goes by but an original killer followed by several copycats strikes, with the hideousness of their deeds sending our collective shock level to an all time high.

Gone, apparently, are the days when people knew better. Seriously, I remember a time when maniacs sat in rocking chairs rocking back and forth, intellectually unable to even say the word gun; they weren't imagining a massacre. And if he felt like committing suicide, he just did it -- he didn't take anyone with him. Those were the days. They'd find another guy hanging in the barn and that was it.

More or less, of course, you can't help it if you're a maniac. But the current breed of maniac seems to be in an entirely different class. In addition to being a maniac, they're very cold and calculating, able to assemble an arsenal as big as Fort Knox and keep it all on the sly, so that no one even has the slightest clue that they've turned their lonely apartment into an armed compound. Things have obviously changed when it comes to knowing our neighbors. We need more nosy neighbors, like on "Bewitched."

But not having that, we need to do something else. My suggestion is that we do anything that works, measured of course by a significant time passing in which no one pulls anything terrible.

I remember when I was a kid, somebody kept an eye on you. We were all pretty much normal -- I feel I was a normal kid, although, arguably a true maniac doesn't know he is one; to him everyone else is crazy. I, however, have looked at the issue of my own sanity "from both sides now" (Judy Collins), so I know, having that added level of perspective, that I am certifiably sane. I've seen my profile in the Akashic records.

I was going to say, back when I was a kid, in addition to them (family members) keeping an eye on us, they made sure we had the teaching, the grounding, to know the difference between right and wrong, and the consequences for doing wrong. And I haven't forgotten it. Grandpa and Grandma, from the time we were in our cradles till we were dropping out of junior high, would sing us a little song, full of good values:
You'll be a happy little fellow, yes you will,
If you don't steal and you don't kill.
You'll stay out of prison and you'll stay out of jail,
You'll be a happy little fellow, yes you will.
There was no second verse. You just repeated it forever, that one verse, making it easy enough to remember. Just one verse, but look at the values packed in there. Happiness, a guarantee of happiness. An if statement, happiness coming by refraining from stealing and killing. An alternative consequence, going to prison or jail, which, thank goodness, I was able to avoid.

Of course, most of our maniacs these days end up killing from one to three hundred other people before they kill themselves, so they're not worried about jail or prison. What the answer to that is, I'm not entirely sure. It might call for a second verse, to address the changed conditions. Or very very severe gun control, getting guns out of the hands of everyone. They say "law-abiding" citizens should be able to have a big arsenal, which is fine till they decide (usually without letting us know) to suddenly become criminals.

A guy I know said the maniacs could do the same dastardly killing with a pocket knife. To which I say, you can barely clean a fish with a pocket knife! You idiot.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This Is My Art

Writing here, my occasional blog post, I now realize, is my art. I'm an artist, it turns out, as much as anyone. Only instead of dabbling with oils, watercolors, or other pigments, my art is the weaving, expression, and/or putting forth of words. Phonemes, sounds in the form of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, with a good solid chunk of virtual type as the result.

The weird thing about it, if there is indeed anything weird about it, is that they never mentioned it quite like that in art class. They completely divided it up, as I recall, so art was painting, drawing, and molding (like the time I made my dad a clay ashtray about an inch thick), and writing was just an orphaned offshoot of English class. Looking back on it now, to me, that's weird. What's it got to do with English? You could just as easily write in some other language if you knew one.

Art class, though, obviously wasn't so strictly isolated. You don't even need to know how to talk to do art. You could grunt along, living in your old little world, and still make a halfway good ashtray. Or the Venus de Milo, were you so inclined. The foreign speaker would be at no disadvantage in doing art as my school narrowly defined it. He'd just babble out something incoherent, then dazzle the entire world with a painting of waterlilies.

I guess I must have had a good education in one sense: It laid the groundwork for me to come independently to this conclusion after around 50 years, that they were all wrong about art and writing. So that I can today declare, finally and definitively, writing is also art, and I'm writing, so I'm an artist. This is my art!

I was just in a bookstore today, true story. And if that's not enough, I was also at the library. And I saw a lot of books. Mostly crap, probably, certainly a lot of it I wouldn't be interested in reading. I more or less lump several genres in the crapper, like mysteries, true crime, popular religion titles, and certainly romance. For the most part, just to make a comparison to painting, these are the paint-by-number pictures of the writing world. It's a lot of hack work, churned out cynically and worth our scorn. Then there's the good stuff, actual literature, etc., etc.

Of course I classify my own blog posts in that last category. With the good stuff. Art as it was meant to be, nothing rushed out for an easy buck, but agonized over, and full of blood, sweat, and tears. Picasso couldn't do better. Monet, Manet, and Minet, all, would throw up their arms. And that makes me very proud. I'm to be envied. I use initiative to put ideas into motion, and nobody can say I don't. I love my art!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sarge: Of Men And Mousetraps

Here's another episode, entirely true, from the life of Sarge, a guy I also call Walt.

I hadn't seen Sarge (Walt) in some time. I was saving my money, trying to avoid handymen, if I could do it myself. But then I needed something only a specialist can handle, to have my mousetraps recalibrated. Too many are escaping, either scot-free or only minimally crippled.

Of course Sarge has the skills and tools for the job. He has a real touch with a mallet, a native intuition that puts man one with machine, a level of interaction I'm not good at at all, let alone being a master. For this particular task, you have to know exactly what to do to do it right, bringing together multiple skills, involving BBs, match-heads, and a careful awl. I stabbed my leg and managed to burn a toenail last time I tried it...

Anyway, Sarge came over, and we were out by the garage. He got out his mallet and began the meticulous work at hand. I sat there watching him with affection, making a mental note that the Old World techniques are almost a lost art. Kids today, who never escape our criticism, with their video games and parental pampering are total fools. Not like Walt. With the extra added bonus that he's able to tell a good yarn without referring to the idiocies of modern trivia. His stories go way back.

Here's something you might not believe. As man and tool worked along, and as I engaged him on the old days, Sarge seemed to become noticeably younger and more vital. And none more so than when I said something about Vietnam. I repeated the old (true) legend that I was "up for the draft" two times but my number was too high. Of course Walt had enlisted and worked his way up to being a sergeant.

Once he got going, his tongue loosened up, and the mousetraps starting to sparkle, I went for the jugular, referring to that one crazy son of a bitch he shot. (See the link above). He smiled but then played coy, "Which one?" I put my hands near my crotch and made a mock grimace, mimicking the desperation of a man signing to the world that everything that he once held dear had been blown to bits. Sarge laughed and said, "You remember that?" The gleam in my eye said yes.

We had a great time then, as Walt recounted once again the old, old story of perhaps one of his greatest moments. He was very paranoid in Nam, extremely paranoid. But it was well justified, because so many of our guys were so stoned and just full of crap by nature that you had to be afraid. So he (he had an office) arranged a gun under his desk, bolted there or affixed somehow, to get the better of any crazy guy who might try to take him.

And then it happened. This one stoned son of a bitch was pissed off about something -- these are Sarge's words -- and he was making moves that he was going to come over the desk, just totally crazy stuff. At the last possible second, to defend himself, Sarge reached under the desk and blew the guy's crotch off. It was such a horrendous mess they're probably still trying to clean it up! Or piece the guy back together! It'd be hell to come off a high like that only to realize it was friendly fire that gave your wife grounds for divorce!

But it happened, and I have to say I'm actually quite glad it did ... because Walt is a hell of a handyman, and I would've never known him if that stoned son of a bitch would've had his way. Sure, Sarge had to face a deposition, but the blood tests on the guy were such that he was cleared. So everyone's happy.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Killer With Devil Eyes

What a terrible night it turned out to be! And I even left home telling myself nothing was going to happen, I would be fine. I thought I would be. I left with the best of intentions.

And then it happened... We were out, at a hamburger restaurant, where basically all they sell is hamburgers and french fries, and I looked out on the darkened night, then up at some of the other diners. Suddenly a guy turns around and makes eye contact with me for just a fraction of a second before he turned back to his meal. I felt a chill go up my already cool spine as the thought bore down on me: "The killer with devil eyes!" Or to flesh it out more completely, "Maybe that guy's the killer with devil eyes!"

Of course I don't know that he was. He didn't kill anyone right then, and as it turned out I wasn't killed later in the parking lot. Although, God knows, the night wasn't over yet. And I kept feeling that terrible chill.

The guy never looked at me again, not unless he was looking at my reflection in the window. Which I'll probably never know. But one think I do know, my thoughts were racing in my mind like lightning. The security I'd just felt was shattered. In one moment my world collapsed. Because how would I know? Even if it wasn't him, maybe the killer with devil eyes was somewhere nearby. Are our thoughts and fears ever false and/or coincidental?

I had a hard time eating my meal, which by now was getting cold, although I put up a fairly good facade of a guy still enjoying his meal. I picked at it. Was the killer behind me, one of the cooks? They seem like jolly good fellows, but what do you expect from a killer in the moments before he has the joy of killing?

Then I had another terrible thought: What about the two boys over there with their parents. They were like five and seven. If they're not currently killers, maybe they will be someday. One of them could very easily grow up to be the killer with devil eyes. After all, the mass murderers of tomorrow are already with us today. A few video games, an angry father, and too many greasy burgers, and a kid's suddenly off the beam.

We made our way to the car, me not stating my suspicions. I thought there's no reason to alarm my partner. Just get to the damned car, check the damned backseat before getting in, and head for home. And then it happened ... wouldn't you know it? The car was low on gas! I had to pull into a gas station. No one seemed to be following me. I pulled up to one of the front pumps, one where it'd be harder to block me in, and got out. I whispered a quick prayer, my eyes scanning the windows of the nearby apartment complex. The minute I saw a rifle barrel I would be down, my prayer being twofold, that he wouldn't blow up the gas pump, and that the receipt printer would work, sparing me an unprotected jaunt inside.

Thankfully, nothing happened. It wasn't my time, my number wasn't up. But the fear still remains. If not tonight, when? And where? Where is he, the killer with devil eyes? Is he a man ... or maybe a woman?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Whittier The Snowman

Finally, a Christmas character I can actually like, who brings the true joy of the season to all. No troubles, no conflict, he's simply happy. Whittier the Snowman.

I have to tell you, I'm really sick of conflict in Christmas shows. I was watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the other day, and this is what I'm talking about. Rudolph is bullied by everyone from his father to the younger reindeer to Santa Claus himself! Bullied because of his red nose. I'm sick of it. I can understand the younger reindeer; they're idiots. But his dad? And Santa Claus? How terrible. Santa's supposed to be a good guy, not a bully. So Rudolph, along with his similarly rejected dentist friend, have to leave the compound and run away on their own.

The conflict doesn't stop there, of course. There's the Bumble (the Abominable), the Island of Misfit Toys, and Burl Ives shivering and about to catch his death. There's so much trouble, I'm more depressed after watching it than I was before. You only have to hope Christmas will be foggy every year, just so Santa won't be stupid enough to reject Rudolph again.

One of these shows is on TV right now as I write this, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. I'm not watching it because I hate it passionately. I think that's the one where the town outlaws Christmas, or outlaws toys, or some such nonsense. Like the Republicans, they're violently opposed to common sense. So everyone's miserable, until something happens -- what I can't remember -- but it has a happy ending. I hate conflict. All I want, all I seriously desire at Christmas, is more or less a slice of life in some little Alpine village where everyone is absolutely happy, giving gifts, with no need to exchange because something's the wrong size. No one tries to outlaw anything everyone likes. It's the ending of Scrooge without the rest.

Frosty the Snowman was on a few days ago. I'm not crazy about this show either. A little because it's obvious they're just giving a stupid story to flesh out the song. But mostly because there's conflict in it. There's an evil magician (or whatever), then there's the kids' sadness with Frosty melting. But they deal with it creatively, in that "Christmas snow" can never remain melted. It comes back on Christmas Day, and as for Frosty, since just living on Christmas Day isn't much of a happy ending, he goes with Santa to live at the North Pole. Where, no doubt, Santa will bully him till he moves to Antarctica.

By the way, in Rudolph Santa also belittles the elves' song about filling Santa's shelves. He complains to Mama that he can't stand hearing that song, and that he wishes they'd all become dentists and run away so they'd finally leave him alone. And Mama's not exactly a benign character, since she's explicitly trying to fatten Santa up. In fact, he goes from thin to pants-poppingly fat in a quick cut from one scene to another. That's one dangerous wife!

Must we suffer everlasting conflict ... at Christmas time? It's even in the original Christmas Story itself, we have to suffer Herod trying to kill Jesus. It's a relief that Jesus grows up very fast and conquers the Roman Empire as His first official act. A hero I can admire.

Which brings us to another hero I can admire -- making two, Jesus and Whittier the Snowman.  But Whittier's story is even better than Jesus', because it has absolutely no conflict. Because your mind should be free and clear at the holidays, not having to put up with pain and anxiety.

Whittier's story goes like this. He's created one day by some happy children. He comes to life, and lives to a ripe old age and never dies. His age just gets riper all the time, but with no apparent aging. The people in his town share in his magnificent powers, living forever, or until Christmas is put away. Everyone is very very happy. Then spring comes and he melts -- happily, with no one mourning. All conflict is vanquished till after the holiday, at which point everyone's life gets back on track. See that? A happy story without conflict -- and I just read it again -- absolutely no contradictions to resolve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Neglected, Rejected Christmas Song

There's a song we used to hear that is never played anymore. To me it's the weirdest, oddest, and strangest Christmas song, of those apparently not meant to be weird, odd, and strange.

Remember "There's a Star in the Sky"? I know if you do your mouth just dropped in horror, and you're likely objecting to the fact that someone dared mention it again. Wasn't that song safely excluded years ago from our common memory? Swept under the rug, never to be resurrected? In that case, I'm sorry ... but I was somehow reminded of it, by some involuntary brain tick.

Now that I've ventured out, I'll go further. I remember how this song would bring entire groups of people to a standstill. They might be gathered for Christmas, frolicking, with everyone in a good mood, joyous and giving gifts. You'd think we were one big happy family in common celebration. Then this song would come on -- usually played by a pirate radio station that happened to encroach on the normal radio band -- and every smile would vanish. Fangs would grow in people's mouths. Normal eyes -- blue, brown, hazel -- would turn red, and very beady. They'd breathe fire. Children would turn to devils, more so than usual.

I can easily remember my own feelings of dread and despondency. I would suddenly go quiet, then tear up, and finally -- this happened occasionally -- I would be depressed for weeks. Even writing about it as I am now is making me physically sick, not to mention the emotional toll it's taking. I might retch on my computer; Good God, seriously, I'm falling apart!

[OK, I'm back ... that was a terrible feeling ... 10 minutes ago ... let me sit here again and try to finish.]

The lyrics of the song (here I'm attempting a chuckle), must have been written by a monster. Like I said, I'm chuckling. I'm amused that they've been hidden in my memory all this time without subliminally destroying my life. I'm obviously a lot stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for. I thought they were gone forever, that I had erected a brick wall against them. But not so!

Remind yourself, should you dare:

"There's a song in the air, there's a star in the sky,
There's a mother's deep prayer, and a baby's low cry.
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger in Bethlehem cradles a king."

There's other lyrics but these are the only ones, thank goodness, still cluttering up valuable space in my consciousness.

What makes them so objectionable? It's hard to state the reasons in a definitive way. It beggars a full description, much like trying to say definitively why we're afraid of snakes. We just are; it's primal. In the case of the song, part of it has to be the terrible tune, itself enough to curdle fresh milk. And curl toes.

As for the lyrics, to say, "There's a song in the air, there's a star in the sky," it's a song speaking of a different song, then incongruously pointing randomly to the sky. It sounds like it was written with the express purpose of unsettling people. Then we're suddenly back on earth with some unspecified mother in prayer and a baby crying. They're both moving their lips, to me a disconcerting picture. But it's the third line, seriously, that really sends me over the edge, giving the full measure of revulsion, a star "raining fire" while some group of "beautiful" sing.

That's always made me nauseous, a star spitting and sputtering, raining, drenching the world with fire, and these weird "beautiful" singing. Bleh! It took me some time to realize it meant angels. If you mean angels, say angels. I got stuck on the bizarre imagery of the spewing star and the "beautiful" firebugs. It sounds devilish, demonic! Then it closes off with the line about the manger cradling a king, not itself a terrible line, but still horribly tainted by its surroundings. Plus, it's all so anonymous.

Now, lest you think this is just a hang-up of mine, ask yourself, why is this song so neglected? Why is it overlooked at Christmas, except, as I said, for fly-by-night pirate radio stations, whose only mission is to stir up trouble? "White Christmas" hasn't yet melted away. "Rudolph" every year still gets frequent flier miles. And all the rest. All except the dreaded "There's a Star in the Sky." It's kept out like a black sheep, totally excluded. No one likes it. No one wants it. It's the redheaded stepchild of music...

I'm really sorry for writing all this. Because I know it must have made you sick. Still, doesn't it seem like there should be some sort of statement, at least for the record of history, as to the place in the world of this one miserable song, so understandably neglected and rejected?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 25 Days Of Christmas

Today, as I get into the spirit of the season, I'm going to start celebrating "The 25 Days of Christmas."

This is a personal celebration. I won't be checking in to keep everyone updated on it. I just feel that it's worth noting at the onset, with the additional hope that others might join me, also in their own silent way. We won't be communicating with each other regarding our joy.

The thought occurred to me this morning, that Christmas Day is the 25th. And what better way to lead up to it than with a thought, some token of recognition in advance of the great day? It could be anything, really, a holiday cookie, a special Christmas song, or perhaps a little eggnog, certainly a tasty treat if taken in moderation, because it always feels like I'm going to have convulsions if I drink too much.

But I have one little qualm. Today is already the 6th, meaning Christmas is around 20 days away. If you count the 6th as the first day, it's 19 days going through the 24th. That means I have a bunch of days to make up and no days to do it. So either I forget it till next year, or truncate it to "The 19/20 Days of Christmas," or just double up on Christmas moments to account for the first five days. I like to do things right, but in this case I simply can't. But to make something good out of a bad situation, like making lemonade out of lemons, I'm going to just do that, double up five times.

Obviously, I'm going to do this apart from blogging. If I put on a song right now, while I'm straining my brain to write, I wouldn't be able to enjoy as fully as I'd like. In fact I've always found that if I listen to music while writing the music goes incredibly fast. It might be a three minute song, but it feels like it's over in one minute, a testimony to how great my concentration is. I'm like a laser beam at the keyboard.

My thought, though, for today, celebrating the 1st and the 6th days of Christmas, would be much as I hinted at above, a holiday cookie and a great song. It might be "Rudolph" or "The Herald Angels." And of course I need to go to the store and get some cookies. I have plenty of Christmas music already. I'll try to get something chewy. Those are my favorite cookies.

This is going to be a great holiday for me ... and you. Christmas. 25 days for each of us to make the most of!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Playing Pregnancy Bingo

It's not extremely rare these days to see a pregnant woman. Not like the old days, when you had no idea where babies came from. It was all very hidden then, with long visits to aunts and staying inside behind dark shades.

I still think, even with the relatively frequent pregnancies you see, that there seems to be a lot more people born. So I'm guessing there's still a lot of confinement going on. And other ways of concealed carrying, like with tight clothes ... or very loose.

I mentioned the old days. Going back to that time, it was always worth a comment when you saw someone pregnant. Grandpa had a stock phrase for it, "Someone's been sleeping with a bull." Which was a strange comment for the imagination of us kids.

But these days, living as we do in our "Anything Goes" world -- with a lot of the common decencies of the old world now passe -- you not only see pregnant women, they've taken to normal activities! No more sneaking around to avoid rude comments and raised judgmental eyebrows.

From my own single, limited perspective, I see them around my town, meaning there has to be tons more out there, in towns and cities, doing heavens knows what. Just locally, I've seen them in pizza places, in the park, at the dog show, at parades, in church (!), and at the library, you name it!

I made up a little Bingo game for myself, just to see how I'd do in seeing them various places. I made it both easy and a little challenging. Like Sudoku, I don't want it too easy and I don't want it impossible.

Some of them are going to be very tough, like "standing up in the bus," since I hardly ever ride the bus, and no one else does either, so they're not standing much. Some of them will be very easy, like "pushing an older baby in a stroller," since where better to look? If they crossed the line once recently, recidivism is to be expected.

Again, I don't go to many high school football games, so the chances of seeing a pregnant cheerleader at a football game aren't great. For this I might need to rely on hearsay from the older town guys at the coffee shop. They've all had season tickets since the '50s. And hanging out at an adult bookstore isn't my normal activity, but it might be worth a few visits just to satisfy my curiosity ... about how many pregnancies there would be. Where would you expect more? It's all they're thinking of.

A few of the categories point to some of the more unpleasant aspects of our modern world, like, "Walking with a guy maybe the father." This one might be tough to verify, depending perhaps on how close they are to the adult bookstore. Farther away, it might be the dad. Closer, it could be anyone. Or "smoking." Smoking while pregnant was more common when I was a kid -- I still have a secondhand cough. But these days it's actually looked down on.

It shouldn't be hard to find a pregnant woman in line at the post office. Since they have ten lines and one guy working, when I go in for a stamp it takes all day. That'll give me a lot of time for a pregnant woman to show up.