Drive like a Brainiac

Drive like a Brainiac

I had this little creative burst last night. You like?

The working title was “The Earliest Bird Chokes to Death on the Rain-Bloated Detrivore”, but I couldn’t remember if worms were actually detrivores.

Turns out they are, but I like the new title better.


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part II

This is my attempt at the second question (what are you thankful for?). I have a large cup of coffee at my side from which I haven’t had a sip, so don’t worry if I start this off reasonably coherent. It’s sure to be a cryptic mess by the time I’m finished.

So what am I thankful for. What are you thankful for? Can we reconcile? I’m guessing you’re thankful for friends and family. I am too, but I’m not going to respond with that, because it’s an understatement and it’s too obvious. Everyone is thankful for friends and family, everyone is thankful for food, for water, for air, etc. If we didn’t have those things we’d perish, so I can’t say I am thankful for them without feeling slightly self-centered. There are some people who claim to have no “friends or family”. I wonder who it is they think they’re kidding. We live in a highly isolated society, I concede, but the man at the bus stop, the person working for the charity, your neighbor, whatever.. they can all be your friends if you let them. There are people everywhere; we need them to survive. They are our friends.

With the friends and family thing aside, I’m left an ocean of possibility. What else is there?! Food, water, air, stuff. There we go – stuff. I’m thankful for stuff. My computer is nice, so is my bed. Let’s see, what else? I’m thankful for my job, though I’m not thankful for the societal structure that allows the majority to flounder with a bare-bones income while a tiny few are living like lords of the nether-world with their turkey legs, and their aged wine and stuff. And I’m also appalled that those people can’t seem to create jobs for the many able-bodied individuals who can’t find work. Really? You have 50 percent of the world’s wealth and you can’t find a penny for the unemployed?

I’m thankful to live in a “free country”, where I don’t have to worry about secret police or rebel military factions taking over my land. Wait.. I forgot I don’t have any land. My land is my landLORDs, not mine. Well then, I’m thankful that my landlord plows the driveway after it snows. Thanks dude.

I’m thankful for clean water and good food, but not for the fact that only people with money have access to these things. If only everyone had access to money…

Okay, so obviously what I’m saying is that I’m thankful for everything I have but I’m also leery because there are so many holes to the tidings-of-great-joy theory that everyone seems to want to profess this time of year. I’m just trying to be realistic.
I want to take this opportunity to name two things that I am definitely thankful for. Two personality types, namely:

1. The cynic
2. The optimist

To the former: thank you for making me smile with every destitute proclamation, for making me feel warm with your superobstinate, cuss-filled diatribes. Flattery will get us nowhere with these people, and I appreciate that.

To the latter: thank you for seeing the bright side when it’s buried under snow and ice, your vision is truly superb. I need people like you in order to maintain a balance.  you spunky devil you.



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The Results Are In

The much anticipated result of the million dollar question is in: 4 out of 4 people that I asked did not know who King Wenceslas was. Out of the 4, 3 were raised Catholic and 1 was raised in a colony of North American Beavers. Coincidentally, the one from the beaver colony seemed more ready with an answer than the Catholics (she actually took a stab, unlike the others, and guessed that Wenceslas was the high alpha-beaver of yore who ruled over teh great dam of Batchawana Bay). Quite the imagination, I say.
So that settles it entirely right? I mean, nuts to all that statistics mumbo jumbo and let’s just go ahead and say that no one really knows what Christmas is about. Except for Linus, of course.
This is the time of year where, as if in an infinite loop, millions of Americans do and say exactly what they did and said last year only with less money and more stress. The givers give, the takers take, the lovers love and the haters hate. It’s a time when our flaws and fine points shine in tandem like two sparkling gems; in this regard, it is a season like no other.
There are two questions I hear too much this time of year:

1. What does Christmas (X-mas) mean to you?
2 What are you thankful for?

My official response to these questions will be included in the following paragraphs, so that I shall not ever have to answer them again (unless of course I undergo some radical transformation/lobotomy).
For the longest time, Christmas meant gifts. I was a spoiled kid, gifts aplenty. I’m not proud of this, and admitting it is something I’m hard-pressed towards, but I think it’s important to lay that out right away. Christmas for me, and many other American children was about reward. I would wait for it, wait for it, and bam! Christmas morning brought a whole array of plastic things, video games, chocolates, etc. Family bonding was secondary to the rush of receiving, not at the helm of the proceedings.
But if I think back now, I can’t remember the gifts I received. I certainly remember the atmosphere in which I got them. Our house was the biggest in the family, and so everyone would flock to it on Christmas afternoon and bring presents for the person whose name they drew. The presents filled up half of our living room and buried the tree. At the age of 10, that is quite a sight let me tell you. But they’re all gone, all those presents. Even the memories of them are mainly extracted. What’s left is a warm feeling that at least one day out of the year, our whole family was in the same place, not fighting but laughing.
Of course that was the positive side of Christmas. Unfortunately the negative is even more overwhelming. All the business leading up to the day. My mother screaming at us to help her clean, me getting further away from religion, gorging myself on food, feeling isolated at school. Christmas was kind of a yearly culmination of my progress as a human being, and most years I didn’t pan out.
Cut to now, what is Christmas? Well it’s “CHRIST” mas, there are no variables. I see it as largely a Christian holiday that is completely trampled on by capitalism. It was actually Bill Waterson, the author of Calvin and Hobbes, who first planted the seed when I was much younger. There was a strip where you see Calvin watching a Christmas special on TV, and Calvin’s dad says,” Ah, another Christmas special extolling love and compassion, interupted every 8 minutes by commercials extolling greed and waste.”
And it was as if the christmas tree had fallen on me, crushed me. There was something manufactured about the event that I hadn’t detected before – something artificial.. like our christmas tree.
Now I see Christmas as two competing vehicles, one is the idea of family togetherness (which by the way should not only manifest once in a year), the other is blitzkrieg of merchandising, advertising and bastardising. The latter seems to win out, and I’m forced to confront my past, accept that I was getting excited for the wrong reasons.
In sum, I believe Christmas is something in need of reinvention. Perhaps this year in lieu of Christmas, I will celebrate Humanlight instead!
This entry is outrageously long-winded, and so I will save the answer to the second question for next time.

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Filed under Blather, Christmas, opinion, writing

Who the Eff was King Wenceslas?

I work in a place where every so often someone will turn on the lite-radio station. It puts an immediate damper on my day, because the songs are predictably, unwaveringly terrible. From Amy Grant to.. well, it’s hard to come up with artists that start with a Z, so I’ll just say Zydeco.

Today was a ‘lite-radio day’, as I’ve come call them- fortunately the rest of my day was going well so everything kinda evened itself out. Anyway, I was standing there, looking over my paperwork when I realized how incredibly esoteric much of the content of these Christmas songs seems to be. And it got me thinking, do Christians know what they’re singing this time of year? I’m going to find out, I think. I’m going to ask my Christian acquaintances if they know the answer to the million dollar question: Who the eff was King Wenceslas?

Turns out he was a duke.. a Bohemian duke.. born near Prague in the 10th century who managed to rise in rebellion with his fellow Christians and usurp his Pagan mother from power. What?

He was a “good king” (though he was not dubbed king until after his demise) who it is said would walk barefoot through ice and snow to give alms to orphans and beggars and such.

Eventually his Pagan brother Boleslav conspired against him to have him killed and took over his position.

Now this is an odd story to be singing about a thousand years later, completely out of context, but I suppose the grandiose mythology of a king one thousand years removed  isn’t much different than say, the grandiose mythology of Jesus.

The tune in question is also a suspiciously potent allegory for the righteousness of the Christian faith. The smoking gun: Wenceslas’ “legend was claimed as fact by Pope Pius II, who himself also walked ten miles barefoot in the ice and snow as an act of pious thanksgiving.” Hasn’t anyone ever heard of frostbite? COME ON people!

Well all speculative analysis aside, I figure one Martyr is enough. I think those carolers should just stick to Jesus this season. It would cause a lot less confusion.

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Filed under Blather, caroling, Christmas, monarchy, opinion

perennial philosophy

I started reading an Alduous Huxley book – The Perennial Philosophy – a few hours ago. The first and only thing I’ve noticed is the superfluity of language. Now, I know there is plenty of terminology in many different fields of study that I will never pretend to understand. Philosophy however, is the only subject I can think of whose terms make sense in and of themselves, but within the context of the writing they tend to not make a damn bit of sense. Ah, the world of philosophy – where authors say nothing with utmost eloquence and readers scratch their heads until they bleed.

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I am them, they are I

I’ve known my share of folks who walk without purpose and whose heads swivel from side to side as though something is circling them. Something pleasant, I think, since they don’t seem annoyed. These are folks whose meager means for, well, whatever (fill in the blank) seem to be more than adequate. They are despicably serene, obviously unmotivated.

Whenever I pass a person like this, I wave. I’ve known myself to fall into this category and will probably fall into it again. Flashing back to the age of 15, I can see myself ambling around Silver Lake, my eyes bouncing from side to side. Not furtively, not curious even, but content. Eyes as spunges.

My perception of these folks is that they are, in fact, uniformly serene. Entirely without problems. I also perceive them to be dull, uncaring, ridiculous, etc. I know I’m off, though. As sure as life at 15 did not consist of blithe relaxation, I know I’m off. They have problems, too. We all do, right?


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The Hopeless

as youth fades, it becomes clear
our bell curve leaves us destined to the dark
we are, of course, unaware in infancy
and through childhood, sunny or rocky, there is only life
the horizon, even during horrific tribulation,
proves substantial, with no sign of oblivion
hope lingers on for the sickest child

that hope stays with us in diminishing degrees
slowly smote from outside factors
or withered from unrelenting mental strife
and at some point it eludes every last one of us

but in hope’s wake there comes a bridge
forked to infinity with paths unique
as the individuals they beckon
and when the hopeless choose their way
with startling conviction

life begins again

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