Monthly Archives: December 2011

As years go I think 2011 was fairly decent and perhaps I’d like to stick with the familiar

Bill Vaughan
“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.”

Of all the pivotal so-called ‘ceremonial’ events of the year New Year’s Eve qualifies as the most loathsome. More boring than Groundhog Day (without the advantage of having Bill Murray punctuating it) and even more overrated than Christmas as it has become, if such a thing is possible. The waning of the old year has never seemed time for celebration.

I suppose when you are young there might be some hoped for blessings as the Dick Clark hour (yes, he’s still alive in his 120s) looms in the probably vain hope of separating someone nubile and sweet from her panties amongst the piled up coats on the bed in somebody’s spare room or, if unsuccessful in that quest (which is likely), then getting shitfaced drunk and courting a hangover that will last until at least the 3rd. Yeah, right, those were the days.

But, what are we celebrating? The successful survival of the old year, or the looming new one. I mean, I’ve never rushed out to embrace the new year. A lot of crap can happen in a year and some of it isn’t so very nice. There’s an old line from Beyond the Fringe in which an oldster states: “It was a good year for petunias, 1939. Wish we’d ‘ave another like it.” Needless to say the other highlight of that year was the beginning of World War Two.

OK, I’ll be frank (I’ll be earnest if you’d prefer) a forthcoming year fills me with a certain dread and I only hope I’ll be able to muddle through and be back her to bore you a year from now.

No, I think I’m more inclined to look backward at what went by and think, I made it, I did. I kept my sanity reasonably intact, equally reasonably honored my domestic vows, didn’t kill anybody (wanted to), didn’t get killed (goes without saying), and still loathe the loathsome aspects of the world much as I ever did and, yes, got a year older. Don’t like that one much either, but consider the alternative. Now, 2011 was a pretty reasonable year for me, so I’d be happy to stay there and eschew pending 2012 because I am always ware of crapshoots.

I emphatically don’t do resolutions. Haven’t for years. They’re stupid and illogical, and an invitation to failure and loss of self-esteem and God only knows that’s in short supply as it is. Sometimes I do ‘aspirations’ which have little to do with me sacrificing any of my pleasures, but are merely hopes for which might transpire in the forthcoming 365 days. Sort of mini-prayers that don’t involve all that folderol of getting down on your knees or going to church and stuff.

But, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful. There are things about 2011 of which I do indeed give thanks. They are:

–         Having a significant ‘other’ in my life: I am a soul that can get lonely in a crowd and can suffer pangs of isolation, so I feel blessed in sharing my digs and life with another person; one with whom I am compatible.

–         Max the Wonder Dog: Nothing more needs be said.

–         Living in a beautiful part of the world: If you are unfamiliar with Vancouver Island, come and make yourself familiar if you get the chance. The place is pretty amazing (see photo). I also live in a very pleasant neighborhood to be noted for its paucity of suicide bombers and active gestapo constabulary. Neighbors hardly every turn anybody in so they can be sent off and never heard of again.

–         Having people in my life whom I genuinely love: I don’t mean carnally. Oh yeah, I have an active imagination, but I mean genuine friends of both sexes and all ages who make my life brighter. And they aren’t all physical presences in my life. I also have some email and blogger and FB people I love dearly and would hate to have go away.

–         Having reasonable health: Can’t buy, beg, borrow or steal that one.

–         Having been to Hawaii in the last year: A year that has included Hawaii is a good year.

–         Having also been to Oregon in the last year: My 2nd favorite state after Hawaii. Oregon is a lot like BC with the bonus being no sales tax.

–         Having enough to live fairly comfortable in a nice neighborhood: Nothing more needs be said.

–         Having people read this stuff: I am an old journo. My ‘stuff’ is my lifeblood and I always aim to please.

Love and kisses to you all and have a fantastic 2012.

Go away little tree; you can’t stay, little tree

Ach Tannenbaum,

ach Tannenbaum,

du bist ein edler Zweig!

Du grünest uns den Winter,

die liebe Sommerzeit.

This is to be maybe my penultimate last word on the Christmas season and I’ll take a moment now, in case I forget, to wish a Feliz Ano Nuevo to everybody. You possibly didn’t know I was so multi-lingual. That’s just as well. Speaking of linguistic acumen, it reminds me of the tale of a friend of mine who told me that his very smart brother was a linguist. He said he’d never been able to resist referring to him as a ‘cunning linguist’. OK, enough smutty innuendo.

What I really am about to discuss is them old tannenbaumen (see, multi-lingual. Faux Spanish and faux German – actually now that I’ve worked faux into the mix we’re up to three languages, I’m on a roll). Anyway, soon the tree will be coming down. It will shed its vulgar yet colorful garb and be put away in its box for another year.

You’ll note I said ‘box’. That no doubt means it’s an artificial tree. More about that anon.

While some aspects of Christmas are either meaningless or offensive to me, I do like the idea of the tannenbaum. It was a good German addition to our culture, as opposed to Storm Troopers in jackboots tromping up the stairs at 3 a.m., which offends at all levels.

I used to be a purist about Christmas trees and insisted on having a natural ‘real’ tree. In my earliest times I recall going out with my grandfather to cut our own. My grandmother invariably hated his choice, by the way. Later we bought a tree, but it was still good. It smelled lovely and put an aroma of Christmas in the room. Christmas trees and the arrival of the first mandarin oranges (in little pine boxes, each orange individually wrapped in pale green paper) meant that Christmas was nearly there. Now, of course, mandarins are available year-round and come in crass cardboard boxes, and trees have not only become inordinately expensive, the conventional wisdom of a few years ago held that they were environmentally evil. Why murder a li’l tree before it gets the chance to become a big tree?

So, about five years ago we bought an artificial tree. That was something I vowed I would never do. Artificial trees were to me like silicone enhanced breasts in that they may look real but a certain charm is invariably lost. But, having grown tired of pitch stained carpets, dropping needles, forgetting to water and balky and inadequate tree stands, with thought we would give a fake one a shot. Turned out that we liked it just fine. It looks good, doesn’t drop needles or ooze pitch, and no real tree has been murdered.

Of course, even when you are doing what you think is right; there is always some bastard who wants to throw a spanner into the works of your rectitude. Not so many years ago we were told that the conventional wisdom on trees had. Al Gore was the spanner thrower.  Al, or one of his self-righteous minions said that artificial trees are environmentally taboo. Not quite at the level of clubbing baby seals or owning a fleet of Hummers, but of impact, nevertheless. You see, if you plant a tree, and even if you chop it down prior to maturity, it has still done good things in terms of carbon footprint. Artificial trees, on the other hand, come from vile, coal-fired factories in China and hence are evil-evil-evil.

Well, I said to Al then what I have always said, or thought at least, Guys who live in a 400,000 square foot house and travel around via corporate jet to spread the good green word haven’t got any right to criticize. Maybe he listened. Al is pretty much old news since the missus dumped him. Anyway, we’re keeping our fake tree.

And now it’s time to divest the tree of its baubly garb. We both have ornaments from a couple of random marriages of our pasts, plus some from vacations in Europe, S. California, Hawaii, all of which have little stories of their own, so it’s comforting in a way to look at them and muse about their tales of Christmases past.

And then the little faux tree will be folded up and put in a box and life can resume a touch of normality. I don’t mind that. I have thought in idle moments of keeping the tree up year-round and changing its festoonery to suit the season. You know, an Easter tree with eggs and bunnies ornaments and a high-summer tree with birds and irrigation depletion brown foliage. I’ll have to work on that idea. This year, however, we’ll just put it away.

Garbage-in; garbage-out. It was all once so easy, sigh

Oh, my old man's a dustman,
He wears a dustman's hat,
He wears cor-blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat.

Lonnie Donegan 

Today is what we refer to as ‘garbage day’ around our house. It’s the day the Dustman Cometh. And GD is yet another one of those elements of society that has become more complicated with the passing years.

What was once a simple matter of disposing of your household effluvia has now joined the legion of human practices that must not only be politically-correct but, I daresay, must indeed be adorned with the ‘green’ mantle. Nope, it’s no longer appropriate to just shift your shit.

No, we have to divide it. It (depending on its description) is either garbage (i.e. trash, crud) or ‘recycling’ (the stuff that we are told but rarely believe will ultimately be turned into bicycles or duvets). Categorization demands we ponder the characteristics of the item in question. Kitchen waste of many descriptions=garbage. Tin cans, cardboard containers, plastic containers, plastic milk jugs=recycling. But, if it’s Styrofoam, for example that irritating stuff (which could be easily turned into horrible tasteless rice biscuits) isn’t deemed recycling. And then there’s glass. The recycle boys don’t take glass. So glass must be taken to the bottle-depot.

See, complicated. Furthermore, they also pick up yard-waste on the same day. So, if you have clippings, cuttings, branches, etc. They have to go into a separate (and so designated) yard waste bin. Tuesday mornings can be very demanding on our street.

Now, all of this stuff is done in the name of environmental wellness. Jolly good thing except for one logical inconsistency.

Whereas we once had one huge diesel-fumes spewing garbage truck that picked up ‘everything’, we are now visited by three huge diesel-fumes spewing trucks to pick up those items from their designated categories. And God help you if you put any of the wrong items in a designated container. If any of the ‘specialists’ on the truck spot your transgression, said item will be dumped on the boulevard and the boys on the truck will no doubt think less of you for eternity.

I’ve often wondered what it’s like to work on a refuse-collection vehicle. I guess you have to be pretty strong. At the same time, I gather the pay is decent (and it should be). But, I cannot imagine that a poll of third-grade students in any school anywhere would find a surfeit of kids that see that chore as being a future career designation. And, I understand why one might not want to spend life in the castaways of others that can range from normal effluvia like coffee grounds, unused string beans or pasta, to soiled knickers or dead cats. Disagreeable.

And then there is the matter or what are now called ‘landfills’, which somehow renders these sites more friendly sounding and maybe a bit more positive than the old fashioned ‘dumps’ or ‘tips’, which references were, however, a lot more honest.

Anyway, dumps get filled up and then we have to figure out what to do with the excess crap when an overflow crisis is reached. That gets us into a whole other realm I’m not about to enter here. And at least we can take solace in knowing ‘all’ our recycling is indeed turned into saintly items to help the human race.


Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

The following questions were sent out a few years ago (I didn’t compose them) and I confess I actually did them once before and now I am interested in seeing if my perspective has changed. It has, so my responses are entirely new.This will also double as my Christmas blog, so don’t you be expecting another one prior to the day. I’m tapped out on Yuletide merriment, damn it. So, you kids get yourselves up to bed and I don’t want to hear a peep until Santa arrives at – oh – maybe 9:30 am. If you get up earlier not only will you get no presents, but you’ll be sent off to boarding school in the new year.

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags for sure. Those wonderful little sacks were invented by guys for guys since guys have an innate inability to wrap anything.
  2. Real tree or artificial? We have a crappy little artificial one that once decorated looks wonderfully whoreish in its tarted-upedness. Love the smell of real trees. Don’t like pitch and needles on the floor because I’m lazy. And there is the environamental thing about hacking out a poor little tree, sticking it in the living room and essentially letting it die for our amusement.
    3. When do you put up the tree? About a week before the 25th..
    4. When do you take the tree down? Probably about Jan. 2.
  3. 5. Do you like eggnog? It’s OK. Pretty rich. Since I no longer drink the good stuff I actually cut it with ginger ale or cola. I know, pretty boring. But, I’m a pretty boring guy. You can argue that last point — if you will – please?.
    6. Favorite gift received as a child? We didn’t get gifts, we got a day off beatings since it was Christmas. No, my parents weren’t really that harsh but I can take such liberties because they’re dead and can’t do anything about it.I honestly don’t remember much about what I got in terms of a favorite gift. I guess my bike when I was, oh I don’t know, 8 or 9 I guess. It wasn’t the bike I wanted. I wanted a Raleigh 3-speed rather than a crappy old single speed.
    7. Hardest person to buy for? Mainily Wendy because that’s mainly who I buy for. She likes girly, but wants to buy those things for herself. I like buying girly and frilly stuff etc. because then I get to hang out in lingerie stores and they are nice, in my warped sensibilities, places to be. However, she wants more utilitarian stuff from me; things she can use. “So, what did Ian get you?” “Ooh, it was just great. A new printer cartridge.””Oooh, lucky you.”
    8. Easiest person to buy for? In past context, my ex, Trudy. She loved girly. Mind you, she also like costly jewelry and cashmere sweaters.Good taste but not for the faint of bank account.
    9. Do you have a nativity scene? Hardly.We’re not allowed to keep livestock in our neighborhood, so once I realized the lambs and goats were out I thought, what’s the point?
    10. Mail or email Christmas cards? A bit of both. I still like getting cards. But ecards are nice too, so feel free to send them to me, OK?
    11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? When I was 7 my staunch Scots Presbyterian grandmother gave me a Bible. Woo-hoo. Just what every 7-year-old wants. Don’t bother with crap like sleds and bikes when the very soul is at stake. Now I appreciate having it. It’s in very good condition and is an excellent resource for the NYT Crossword..”Book before Ezekiel?”
    12. Favorite Christmas Movie? By this point I’m not that big on Christmas movies since I’ve seen them all so many times. But, I retain my huge fondness for the 1950 version of A Christmas Carol starring wonderful old Alastair Sim.
  4. 13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I usually leave it until as close to the day as I can get away with. This year I shopped real early. A much better idea. While others were scrambling at the last minute I could mock them and jeer.
    14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Come on. That’s the gift equivalent of not flushing. There are limits to recycling. Just a bit too cheapskate.
    15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Virtually everything, with turkey being fairly far down on my list. What I like best of all is my own killer Eggs Benedict at Christmas breakfast. It’s an orgasmic treat that is almost as good as the other kind though a bit more fattening.
    16. Lights on the tree? What’s a tree without lights for heaven’s sake. Know what I miss? Care what I miss? Those olden days lights that had a little glass tube on top that bubbled when the lights got warm.
    17. Favorite Christmas song? Traditionally I like the classical Christmas carols and especially by the Kings College Choir of Cambridge, or some other wonderful choir with a mammoth pipe organ to punctuate the mood and momentarily make me believe in God. My favorite in recent years has been the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York (featuring the heavenly and adored voice of sadly lamented and loved Kirsty MacColl).
    18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Ideally I’d love to be away for Christmas. Somewhere warm with palm trees, though probably not Syria.
    19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer’s? Yes I can and please tell your children that one of them is ‘Donder’ (German for thunder) not Donner as I have seen in ads. Disgusting.
    20. Angel on the tree top or a star? An old Father Christmas kind of guy with a long white beard and golden robe.
    21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning. I’m not one of those European sorts that do it Christmas Eve. No wonder Europe’s in crisis.
    22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Any playing whatsoever of that cloying Little Drummer Boy.
    23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Nothing in particular.
    24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? This year we’re dining out at a restaurant and I have no idea what the fare will be. Better be mighty good at the cost.
    25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men, women and young ‘uns.

Merry Christmas all. Love you all to bits.

Was Christmas better in childhood? I have no idea, but I still loved the ‘magic’

The family manse, my grandparents’ house back in the day

Busy time of year and this entry, I confess, is a repeat of one from a number of years ago. But, for me, the sentiments still work and I’m happy to share it once again. If you don’t like it may you get coal in your stocking, so there.

I will also have a nice bit of connectedness with that age-old Christmas described due to the fact we are going to visit with my cousin and his wife on the 26th. Cousin Bruce, around my age, was one of the ‘players’ at my grandparents’ home so long ago, and we likely sat at the ‘kid table’ together. We’ve known each otheer literally all our lives. And, while you don’t have to like your kin, we were always kid friends.

So here it goes:

When I was very young – about 5, I think – and I still believed in magic and sugarplums (what exactly are sugarplums?), Christmas was almost painful in its promised delights. As I said, I still believed in magic and knew that Santa Claus truly did see you when you were sleeping, and kept tabs on you being awake, prompting him to put an ‘X’ on the deficit side of your personal roster if he detected wakefulness. Why Santa should have cared if you were awake or not was beyond me even then. But knowing well it was a bad thing in his esteem, I would scrunch my eyes tightly closed when I went to bed, hoping I could fool the Jolly Old Elf. A Jolly Old Elf who had a bit of a mean and vindictive streak about him, kind of like the Old Testament God.

We lived at my grandparents’ house when I was 5, and my bedroom was in the far back of the upstairs and my stocking, rather than being hung by the fireplace, was hung at the foot of my bed. I expect the reason for that was because the aged farmhouse had nothing resembling central heating, so the living room, in which the fireplace was to be found, would be excruciatingly cold in the morning. The fireplace would be lighted later in the morning, so by Christmas afternoon the room would finally be moderately warm.

In the night I lay there, feigning sleep for part of the night at least. But, I must have drifted off because I recall awakening at some point when it was still dark. There was a rustling in the room and I could see the silhouette of a figure in the gloom. The figure was rummaging around in my stocking. I immediately shut my eyes. It was Santa! It had to have been Santa! I hoped against hope he hadn’t espied my open eyes. I thought perhaps I was off the hook because the figure continued with the task at hand. At that point, despite my excitement, I must have actually gone back to sleep, for when I next opened my eyes there was a shaft of light coming through the panes of the tiny window. It was morning. I could look in my stocking to see what largesse lay therein.

I don’t remember what I got, but since I remember that Christmas so well, it must have been perfect. It must have been all that I wanted. It must have been the best Christmas ever. Or – is that just part of the mythology – for I know it is mythology – of that idealized Christmas. I think many of us have an idealized Christmas and maybe that is something that keeps us moderately sane and still permits a bit of the magic to remain in the air. Magic that suggests that Christmas Eve is unlike any other night of the year.

In my idealized Christmas, there is always snow. I don’t believe for a moment that there was snow in every Christmas of my childhood, but in my mind there was. Deep snow. Snow covering all the trees and shrubs and being tramped through the back door and into Grannie’s kitchen. Snow and chill that sent people to pull up chairs next to the big old wood burning range with the warming oven on top. On Christmas there were always loaves rising in the warming oven, and their rich, yeasty fragrance would permeate the kitchen.

In the living room there sat the big brick fireplace, and also the tree. It was a huge tree; a gargantuan conifer as stately as the trees in the forest that was festooned with baubles and lights and tinsel. I don’t know how huge it actually was, but from my vantage point at age 5, most things were huge, and the tree truly was mammoth, and surely extending right to the 10-foot ceiling of the old house.

Turkey was in the oven, and its fragrance competed with the bread aroma (the loaves of which were by now baked, and were resting on cooling racks). Friends and relatives began to arrive. Legions of friends and relatives, it seemed, and most of them long since gone from this sphere. There were aunts and uncles, and great aunts and great uncles, and mainly there were cousins. Cousins with whom one would sit at the ‘little’ table, the kids’ table when the meal finally appeared. In my myth it was always a fine meal. Port and sherry were served to the adults (my grandparents were ‘very’ English), and ginger ale to the children. Sometimes even ginger beer, which I didn’t like so much because I found it too strong. After dinner there was plum pudding and custard sauce. I took the custard sauce. To this day I have never developed a hankering for plum pudding.

After the meal was all squared away, everybody retired to the living room for gift exchanging. More presents! It was like a repeat of the morning. How blissful could one day possibly get? After the presents were done, the cousins played with them throughout the house while the grownups nattered in the living room. Eventually cousins, and myself, sauntered into the living room. Somebody was at the piano and those who felt like doing so sang desultory Christmas carols. Cousins and I, tuckered from the festivities of the day, slowly crumpled into torpor next to parents on couches, or curled up in a corner somewhere. The time eventually came for cars to be fired up in the long driveway. Cars needed to be warmed up in those days, or they would stall in the cold air. Cousins were carried out to the awaiting vehicles once the heaters had kicked in. Goodbyes were exchanged, and that was the end of it.

It was the end of it for that year. I as yet had no idea what a harsh handmaiden time was to be and how that Christmas had come to an end, and in certain respects my magical Christmases had come to an end, and for each ensuing year they would diminish just a little bit, just like the numbers of first the great uncles and great aunts, and then the grandparents, and then the uncles and aunts.

But, even today there remains a vestige of the magic. A low-key, relatively non-mystical magic, but magic enough to take me back to a wondrous earlier time that only exists in my false memories.

And, what are most memories, but false? That’s part of their blessing.


My ‘superheroes’ are made of stuff much more resilient than mere steel

I believe it behooves me, as a journo of sorts, to write something about the demise of Christopher Hitchens. Everybody else has already done so, it seems, and the papers have been filled with examples of both the profundities of his life wisdom as well as his often-scathing mordant wit.

Well, due to my own lack of self-esteem, I don’t deem myself as being worthy of having held his coat (though I would have been honored to so do), but I thought I’d give a stab and leaving some of my thoughts on the premature demise of a ferociously self-indulgent genius, of whom his death at age 62 has left the planet a much-much poorer place.

Hitchens was a self-indulgent man with a dedicated devotion to our two ‘legal ‘ drugs – alcohol and tobacco. The fact that he died of esophageal cancer came as no surprise to those who knew him and his habits of prodigious drinking and unrepentant chain-smoking. I tried to ape him in both regards for a time in my life, mistakenly believing such behavior might turn me into a Hitchens. I was wrong. I was merely left with an alcohol problem and smoker’s cough. So, I gave them up (OK, I periodically cheat with tobacco).

But, I came to realize that flagrant disregard for healthy living wasn’t the key to Hitchens’ success. Two other things were: genius, and courage. He wasn’t ever afraid to fly in the face of ‘accepted’ verities (he described Mother Teresa as “an evil Albanian dwarf”) and more importantly, he could effectively defend his views. That all takes guts. Believe me, it takes more guts than I was ever able to muster. This was a guy who wasn’t just prepared to write an article on “waterboarding”, he went though it. He concluded it was indeed ‘torture.’.

Originally a left-wing scribe for the New Statesman he switched his views after 9/11 and fully supported the Iraq War. This earned him enemies in some circles. He essentially didn’t give a shit. He supported what he believed in, feeling the war was supporting “all that I love by attacking all that I hate.”

He courted more controversy a few years ago by declaring his atheism and was quite prepared to debate the matter with religious pundits and scholars, including Christian apologist Richard Dawkins and his friend, Tony Blair, a devout Catholic. Even during his illness Hitchens didn’t waver in his lack of belief, but also said he was open for “a surprise” when the end came. And despite the debate on such a personalized subject with those firm in their beliefs, their friendship with Hitchens never wavered.

To me he showed his greatest courage during his time dealing with an illness he knew was likely terminal. Yet we followed him through his stages in Vanity Fair. He lost his hair – but never his dignity. He lost his spoken voice but, blessedly never his written one.

If I’d been able to go through life showing half his courage I would feel I’d accomplished a great deal. As it is, I’ll willingly resign myself to admiration for the man and the thoughts and ideas he often evoked in me. Chain-smoking, boozing atheists can give us much to ponder about life’s truths.

Thanks for indulging my little bit of hero worship.

As a postscript we should also consider the wit of Hitchens as in his assessment, for example of Sarah Palin:

“She’s got no charisma of any kind (but) I can imgine her being mildly useful to a low-rank porno director.”

And George W. Bush:

(He) is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”

Hipster’s Night Before Christmas from 1960

Remember ‘hipsters’? Unless you’re ancient, you likely don’t. Now, this is hipsters, not hippies. Hipsters were cool. They followed the fashion dictates of Playboy and they were afficionadoes of the most ‘progressive’ jazz. I wanted to be a hipster. I read Playboy, only for the articles and cartoons — of course, and I tried to get my rock-and-roll inundated head around Coltrane, Mingus and Dizzy (with varying degrees of success. But, mainly I was too young at the time to appreciate all the nuances of ‘hipsterdom’.

Now, what follows here is not mine, but around the time this appeared in Mad Magazine I was in the midst of my time to be the coolest cat on block. I succeeded, but we had a very sparsely populated block. Anyway, as it is the season I offer you the follow bit of satrical stuff.

Jazzbo ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ Mad Magazine #52 Jan 1960

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the pad,
Not a hipster was swinging, not even old Dad;
The chimney was hung in the stocking routine,
In hopes that “The Fat Man” would soon make the scene;
The moon and the snow were, like, faking together,
Which made the scene rock in the Day People weather,
When, what to these peepers should come on real queer,
But a real crazy sleigh, and eight swinging reindeer,
As sidemen in combos pick up as they stomp,
When they swing with the beat of a Dixieland romp,
So up to the top of my bandstand they flew,
With the sleigh full of loot, and St. Nicholas, too.
His lids-Man, they sizzled! His dimples were smiles!
His cheeks were like “Dizzy’s,” his break was like “Miles!”
His puckered-up mouth was, like, blowing flat E,
And his chin hid behind a real crazy goatee!
He blew not a sound, but skipped right to his gig,
And stashed all the stockings, then came on real big,
And flashing a sign, like that old “Schnozzle” bit,
And playing it hip, up the chimney he split;
And then, in a quick riff, I dug on the roof,
The jumpin’ and jivin’ of each swinging hoof.
As I pulled in my noggin, and turned around fast,
Down the chimney came Nick like a hot trumpet blast.
The tip of a butt he had snagged in his choppers,
And he took a few drags just like all cool be-boppers;
He had a weird face, and a solid reet middle
That bounced when he cracked, like a gutbucket fiddle!
He was wrapped up to kill, Man, a real kookie dresser!
And his rags were, like, way out! Pops! He was a gasser!
A sack full of goodies hung down to his tail,
And he looked like a postman with “Basie’s” fan mail.
He was shaking with meat, meaning he was no square,
And I flipped, ‘cause I’d always thought he was “longhair!”
But the glint in his eye and the beat in his touch
Soon gave me the message this cat was “too much!”
He flew to his skids, to his group blew a lick,
And they cut out real cool, on a wild frenzied kick.
But I heard him sound off, with a razz-a-ma-tazz:
“A cool Christmas to all, and, like all of that jazz!”



Well, I could ‘Bah humbug’ all over the place if I wanted, but I’ve decided I don’t want to

Did I tell you I was going to like Christmas this year?

Yeah, that’s been kind of a revelation to me. I realized I had a choice in the matter. I could continue to follow my time-honored seasonal mode which has been, for years, to attest that Yuletide and all that that entails is a bunch of overcommercialized crap in which people give themselves an excuse to overindulge every aspect of their being.

They spend too much; they eat to much; they drink too much; they exhaust themselves and then they cannot understand why they plummet to the depths of a depression that would even wipe that perpetual beatific smile off the Dalai Lama’s puss and render him to ask: “What the hell is it all about?”

What I traditionally did to counterattack the post-Christmas blahs is get my ill-spiritedness in ahead of time by decrying all aspects of the season from the music to the decorations to the %$#&& TV ads that seem to begin before Labor Day these days. “Humbug” was too mild a word for my crankiness about all the Jolly Old St. Nick shit.

And then the revelation came to me. December is essentially the awfulest month of the year. The weather is atrocious, it’s dark much of the time and spring is a very long way off. It contains the longest night of the year to boot. Added to which, I am a bit afflicted with SADS, so it’s all a losing proposition.

This year I decided to change. I made a conscious choice. I was going to ‘like’ Christmas if it killed me. I was going to have an inner Solstice Festival. I wasn’t going to exasperatedly change stations on my car radio whenever Christmas music was played. Well, except for that (choose any profane expletive adjective you like) Little Drummer Boy. Sorry, you obnoxious little weasel, you didn’t make my personal cut. I mean, think about it. In the first place they didn’t have drumstick using drums in the days of Jesus’ birth. And secondly, Mary has just managed to get the kid to go to sleep in his crappy manger bed and along comes this little creep ‘rumpa-pum-pumping’ all over the place. And no, kid, he didn’t smile at you. Newborns don’t smile. It was probably gas.

But, with that not so notable exception, I have really been quite enjoying myself. I’ve virtually done all my Christmas shopping and truly enjoyed doing so. I have listened to Christmas music and even bought a double CD to listen to while the tree was going up. And the tree is up and decorated. And there are outside lights in place. All cards, meanwhile, have been sent and all that is left is for stockings to be hung by the chimney with care and my specialty eggs benedict to be made for Christmas morning. Oh, and I made sugar cookies, too. And they turned out great. And we’ve driven around town looking at lights on houses and I haven’t once expressed disgust at the ‘vulgarity’ of it all.

Of course this could all mean I’m losing my marbles. But I’m liking it.

By the time I get to ‘Kepler-22B’ she’ll be risin’

Long ago in a galaxy far away there existed ‘Kepler’ and its millions of Keplerian folk.

I say ‘existed’ in the past-tense mainly because Kepler is 600 light years away and so any contact we might have with the inhabitants will have to pertain to conditions as they were more than half a millennium ago. Who knows, maybe their form of climate change took them out 400 years ago and we’ll have to wait two centuries to get that update.

I know this is sort of Dr. Who stuff, but I was enchanted when I read the other day about the discovery of Kepler 22B (its full title, and not to be confused with that old schoolteacher TV show Room 222 which starred the inimitable Karen Valentine). Also not to be confused with Kepler 22A, which is a thoroughly detestable place.

But, I won’t waste your time trying to explain. As follows is the real poop:

NASA, Dec 11 (TruthDive): Kepler-22B may be the most Earth-like world yet found in the galaxy. It orbits a star like the Sun 600 light years — that is nearly 4,000 billion miles away in the constellation Cygnus.

NASA’s new finding, Kepler-22b may support life and vegetation. It may take decades or centuries in making things more clear about Kepler-22B.The most Earth-like planet ever discovered is circling a star 600 light years away and it orbits its sun-like star every 290 days, scientists say.

I mean, how cool is that? Not only is it believed to be just like us, it is so like us that they obviously even have an astronomer with the same name as our own Johannes, and they named their planet after their guy.

Now due to the vast distance Kepler is away from us it’s unlikely that even Richard Branson will be able to transport us there in the immediate future, so we’re going to have to rely on speculation. Likewise I see very little virtue in attempting to acquire Keplerian real estate, despite the fact that Kepler’s vacation areas are believed to be highly inviting and not yet overtaken by cheesy-suited time-share floggers. It’ll come, Keplerians, so enjoy your freedom while you can.

So, and again this is pure speculation, though it is based on a belief that perhaps Kepler folk are a little wiser than are we and haven’t made some of our mistakes. Witness the following differences:

–         Religion: The Keplerians have only one prescribed faith and believe in a deity who looks remarkably like the late Jerry Orbach. He’s a wisecracking god, kind of big on practical jokes as penalties for transgressions of faith.

–         War: They once had a war between East and West Kepler. They didn’t like it all because people got hurt. It was known as Kepler War One. It was deemed that one was enough.

–         Keplerians aren’t very flamboyant and favor earth-tones for the most part. They are, of course, known as Kepler Tones.

–         Being a little more advanced than we are, Kepler scientists have been aware of us for quite a long time. They sincerely hope we don’t try to go there and drive real-estate prices sky-high in our pathological speculative development quest. “&%$## Earthlings came in and ruined the place!” could end up being their plaint.

–         On the other hand texting while driving is widely encouraged on Kepler as an effective means of population control.

–         Keplerians have sex pretty much like we do but since females dominate their society they are the ones making lewd propositions to male underlings or making obscene catcalls at construction sites. They never care if their male partners are satisfied and they philander relentlessly. That’s mainly because the males assume the role of the male black widow. They are only useful for ‘service’.

There is more to Kepler and I am confident that in ensuing years this will become much clearer to us. Meanwhile, please give a warm nod to our fellow planet across the universe.



Blessed farewell to that perennial nightmare before Christmas

I don’t think I went to the one pictured but I can’t be sure

It was with some misgivings that I departed the regular workaday world a few years ago. Misgivings that revolved around getting a regular salary and feeling that I had ‘a place’ in the wider universe. That is, I had an identity and how we are perceived depends on what we do, and in what regard our calling is held.

Well, I was a working journalist and in the total scheme-of-occupations journalists place lower than contract killers in public esteem. Well, I mean, not as low as some ambulance-chasing lawyers or internal revenue auditors but getting right down in the direction of barrel-bottom scraping.

I actually didn’t mind that aspect of my life-career – indeed I took a certain perverse pride in being regarded as a societal weasel.

Nevertheless, I moved on to the private ‘Ian’ domain and all-in-all it hasn’t been a bad thing. And this time of the year I am profoundly reminded that there one huge and cherished benefit to being self-semi-sporadically-depending-on-the-whims-of-unappreciative-contractors-employed and that is the sheer knowledge that I will never again have to go to a @#$$%&& CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY! Sing Halleluja!

Who thought of those things, anyway? What corporate mind conceived that such a contrived social gathering would be good? I think if the so-called ‘Occupiers’ had wanted to protest anything, it should have been office parties.

Any office of any substance invariably has its ‘social committee’. These are the misguided souls who honestly believe that if you work with somebody, you also want to spend your leisure hours with them; you want to get pissed with them; you want to sing-and-dance with them; you want to harbor unacceptable sexual fantasies about them and maybe even feel compelled to suggestively act upon them; and finally you want to spend the rest of your weekend either retching or apologizing to your better-half and assuring her you didn’t mean anything when you were cavorting lewdly with l’il Suzie Homerekker from reception who, in a poor light looks a bit like a less-healthy Lindsay Lohan.

Social Committees are composed of the same people that exult over the concept of high school reunions and make sure they become part of the planning committee at least four years before the ghastly event is scheduled to take place.

What are the bad things about office parties?

–         false bonhomie amongst people who, while they may have dear friends amongst their colleagues, they also spend 9-5, five days a week, with others who would not have been chosen as friends and they are happy to see the last of come Friday quitting time.

–         Excess alcohol both loosens tongues and liberates libidos. Nuff sed.

–         He/she has no hidden and untapped desire to sleep with you and is merely a friendly colleague. An office party should not be regarded as a potential ‘orifice’ party.

–         It’s never a good time to tell your boss what you really think, despite how friendly he might seem to be on this social occasion. Unless he/she is your friend, he/she is emphatically ‘not’ your friend when it comes to any sort of crunch time.

–         If you do happen to be a boss of either sex don’t, emphatically don’t try to pull any of that “if you want to get ahead here maybe we could form a closer relationship” shit with an opposite sex subordinate.

–         And if you are a subordinate, don’t try to pull the same thing with q superior in the hopes of getting ahead.

–         Karaoke!!!! Gaah!

The good thing about office parties?

–         I don’t have to go to them any more.