Monday, December 21, 2009

Take That, Inner Child

Wow, the word "Inner" looks really bizarre in writing. I've never noticed before.

Anyway, to the blog!

I realized today that Christmas was less than a week away. Not exactly a feat of mental gymnastics, I'm aware, but it was a realization just the same. With that realization came another thought, which went a little something like this, "Remember when knowing Christmas was around the corner was cause for a change of underpants?"

It's true, I grew up in a house that, from the day after Thanksgiving until the new year, was decked out floor to ceiling and stem to stern with wreaths, nativity scenes, Santas galore and, of course, a big ole tree with a train underneath. (I think this is one reason I don't care much for New Year's Day, it generally meant work undoing all the decor.) The thought of the presents alone was enough to send me into palpitations but that wasn't all. I loved all of the Christmas specials; Frosty, Rudolph and that lot were wonderful but I also loved all of the Flintstones' takes on A Christmas Carole (I think there were three in all) the Very Brady Christmas, and anything else that plopped a tree in the midst of characters I knew and loved. My mom baked all manner of delicious stuff; fudge, sugar cookies, party mix, etc. which she kept replenished all month long. Even church became enjoyable because first we did a pageant and then we had a midnight service on Christmas Eve and I got to stay up for it, all the way to MIDNIGHT!

Yup, there's a little kid somewhere way in the back of the bus that is my psyche screaming for joy that our next stop is Christmas. The problem is, there's a curmudgeonly old driver who can clearly see the potholes. Decorating is work, the presents are just more things I have to find space for in my overstuffed house, the specials are trite excuses for selling me razors and jewelry, the cookies and fudge are empty calories which I certainly don't need (but will likely have none the less) and I stay up all of the way to midnight most nights anyway. Suffice to say, the guy at the wheel has successfully shouted the little boy into his place, "Sit it down, and shut it up. I will turn this holiday around RIGHT NOW!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I can see the strings holding up the marionette, if you'll pardon the peculiar metaphor. I can't imagine a sadder prospect than a grown man who still leaves cookies out for a jolly old elf who will never come. It is my time to manipulate the puppet, to pull the string so that little ones like my nephew can have the sort of magical holiday that I once had. But I do feel that I owe that little kid in the last seat something. After all, if not for him, I wouldn't be here. So, this Christmas I'm going to let him come a few rows up. I'm going to find the magic in the wreaths hanging on people's doors, the wonder of a stop motion reindeer taking flight and amaze myself by the fact that I get to stay up all of the way to midnight. I don't know how successful I'll be, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

There Is No Spoon

To my knowledge I have never bent a spoon, or any flatware for that matter, with naught but the power of my mind. Also, if we are truly trapped in a very complete, never crashing, entirely virus-proof computer program, I can't see the matrix. (If at this point you still don't get my reference, stop reading now and go directly to your video store to rent The Matrix and only The Matrix. You may be tempted by sequels but resist.)

Though I have no psychic abilities and cannot see the world around me for the facade that it surely is, I do have my perceptions and, ultimately, isn't that what it's all about?

I remember being five or so and hearing some people debating where wind came from. At the time I thought that was the strangest debate I'd ever heard because to me it was obvious from whence the wind came; it was windy when the trees waved. If there was a light wind the small branches would flick around stirring up just the slightest bit of air. In a hard, blow the shingles off your roof gust, the trees practically bent over double. It made perfect since. When I was hot I could flap a piece of paper and stir up a breeze and the trees could just do that on a far grander scale.

I can't overstate here how certain I was about my theory. I'd seen this with my own eyes, every time there was wind there was some motion in a tree. I'd done my own experiments with paper. I doubt I knew what a scientific journal was at the time, but had I known, I would have been ready to publish.

So, what does this mean for me now? Other than a potential picture book (copy-write pending, don't get any ideas) I think it proves that seeing shouldn't always be believing. Maybe the things that I'm dead certain about are things that, seen from a slightly different perspective, might not be as clear. Maybe what I think of as empirical evidence is only a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Maybe, even though I can see, touch and eat my cereal with it, there really is no spoon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Kingly Gift

I read yesterday that Stephen King paid to transport a whole bunch (the article was more specific but I've slept since) of soldiers home to Maine for Christmas before they have to deploy overseas in January. First of all, bravo to Mr. King, of course. I doubt that the money put him in any sort of financial bind, but it would have been just as easy to tell them that they were on their own, he paid his taxes and that should be enough to transport the troops wherever they needed to go. Are there no prisons, no workhouses? Sorry, Dickens moment.
Ultimately, he didn't do that, he stepped up and he deserves applause for it. I'll wait while you clap at your computer.

Ready? Okay!

The really interesting part of the whole story though, was that he was asked for thirteen thousand to bring the troops home but he refused to do that on the grounds of thirteen being unlucky. Instead he gave $12,999 and his assistant added the extra buck to round it out. Publicity stunt? Possibly, it does give the story a twist that a simple wealthy man who aids those in need story would not have, but I think it goes a little deeper.
First of all, as a fan and avid reader of Mr. King I know that he has said many times how much he dislikes the number thirteen to the point of avoiding addresses which add up to the wicked number. Those who have read or even seen the movie version of Room 1408 know that he has thought of this before. Also, even if you can consider this a simple publicity stunt, why go this way. It's Christmas, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to send each soldier his ticket in a stocking? That certainly would have garnered more notice than deducting a dollar due to superstition.
No, I think that Mr. King was joking out of one side of his mouth while breathing a sigh of relief out of the other.
Which makes me wonder, how much do I let superstition affect my life? I certainly knocked on my share of wood throughout the day. I refuse to say things out loud lest they come true, or don't come true depending on the desired outcome. I don't worry about spilling salt but I typically walk around ladders rather than under them. I can't remember the last mirror I broke but I'll guarantee that if I should shatter one today part of me would be wondering about the next seven years.
I suppose as long as I'm living my life with out too much interruption my mild superstitions shouldn't bother me, but just to be sure, maybe I should go knock on some wood.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Blognaugural

I'm going to do my best not to make this a blog about blogs. I think by now we are all well aware of the wonder that is wed logging and throwing yet one more voice into that noisy high school cafeteria that is the Internet only to reiterate that which has been said I know not how oft seems a bit silly.

That said, this particular blog is about blogging.

More to the point, it is about this particular blog, my blog, A Fool and his Words. The title came to me when I was commenting on the responses to, you guessed it, a blog. (I don't want to get into the pretzel-like logic that had me commenting on another person's blogs comments, if you've ever been on the Internet, I'm sure you understand perfectly.)

Many of the responses seem to be righteous indignation shot from the hip without a moments consideration, a regurgitation of things heard and read by people who believe fully the things they hear and read so long as it in no way disrupts their basic outlook on life. My comment about these people was that "A fool and his words are soon parted." Eh, sound familiar? Clever twisting of an old cliche' perhaps?

At the time I meant it to be pejorative, of course. I was reading the responses of people who did not share my basic outlook on life and therefore assumed them to be foolish reactionaries. I, of course, would never fly to MY keyboard after reading opinions which differed from my own and slander the author of those opinions. I would never read a fully thought out, well presented argument and respond with a simple invective simply because I did not agree with the person making the point. I would never sum up the ideas of a group of people with a cleverly turned yet ultimately hollow phrase such as, "A fool and his words are soon parted."

Uh oh.

Okay, I'm as bad as everyone else. But I'm trying, I'm trying to take life a step at a time and see things less as black and white. My goal for this blog is primarily to entertain. I hope that I can bring a little pleasure into the life of anyone who might stumble across the pages and tarry a while over my words. But I also want to always remember that, ultimately, I am only a fool and these are only my words.