A meal for the ages

“I’m alive, confound it,” he cried, feeling mortality chill his bones. “I loved myself enough women to have a horde of offspring to keep my memory alive, but it never took, and here I am childless, no one to carry a trace of my DNA to the next generation. I failed in the prime directive to reproduce and keep the species going, so I sit here scribbling evidence that I was here in lieu of passing along my genes. I pieced these words together so that when my dust is scattered to the winds, something tangible will remain that says I lived and here is my offering to the future, not in the form of a bright young scientist or poet to save the world but words, words that if you read and absorb properly, perhaps you will learn to be what my never-born child would have been, and What I Was will live on, my white plume of honor and glory and words to live by and love by —”

“Are you quite done now?” she asked. “Can you sit down and eat your supper, or do you need to orate a bit longer?”

“I am not quite done,” he conceded, “nor do I expect to be done anytime soon. I see possibilities in every sunrise and the dance of puppies chasing each other, but I also feel the glory of a sunset and the contented sigh of the old gray dog under the dining room table. Here, there is life worth preserving and sharing and loving.”

“Bully for you,” she said, setting a plate of oh so very delicious looking food under his nose. “You’ll live even longer if you eat something.”

He looked at the food and gaped in awed pleasure. And years later, after his ashes had been scattered to the wind, the critics mourned his passing and spoke of the poetry that sang in his description of that meal.

Up through the time machine

I met some old friends for conversation last night, and they each offered me an insight or two.

“Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation,” Ray said, encouraging me to leave something for posterity to chew on.

Henry was in a reminiscent mood, and he hummed me an old Lapland song with the refrain, “A boy’s will is the wind’s will, and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

And Ed, always the mysterious one, told me, “love is the every only god” and went on to explain, and he was right as always.

It mattered not that Ray told me this in 1990, and Henry in 1858, and Ed in 1940. All three of them are not especially mobile these days, but they left their words for safekeeping, and I traveled through time to retrieve them.

I suspect this is one reason we write books: to still be talking to friends after we’re done talking. And so, should this combination of words happen to reach you long after I’m dust, I encourage you to be the friend that Ray, Henry and Ed have been to me, and write the future a letter.

The dead don’t vote

My dear old Dad will be voting Democrat for the first time ever next week: He passed away in July.

Dark humor, I know (Well, I laughed anyway), but it’s my contribution to the real problem about so-called election interference.

A county clerk said last week that she participated in a briefing with high-level security officials and learned there are confirmed attempts to disrupt the election, but here’s her key point: The attacks are NOT on the actual election results, which have more safeguards against tampering than McDonald’s has burgers.

Continue reading “The dead don’t vote”

Day of the Yellow Clown Elephant

”Let me tell you. I have to tell you. You’re just not going to believe it.” The little one literally bounced with excitement.

“Let me guess first. There’s a yellow elephant the color of a banana peel walking up Main Street wearing pink trousers and a teal bowler hat.” This was spoken by a taller figure slouched over a kitchen sink scrubbing dishes by hand.

The little one’s shock could not be more complete. He stood open-mouthed and tried to speak without success for some seconds before stamping a foot and crying, “How on Earth did you know?”

“Today’s the 26th of October in a year that ends in zero, isn’t it?” said the figure bent over the dishes without looking up. “This is the day when the yellow clown elephant runs the streets. It’s like clockwork.”

“Next you’ll say that hawks poop on the elephant’s head as part of the tradition,” the little one pouted.

“Nope,” said the dishwasher, looking up finally. “That’s a new wrinkle. Must be a 2020 thing.”

‘It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true’

‘It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true’

… a wise man once said — Google The Great and Powerful tells me it was Will Rogers .. or Dizzy Dean … or Muhammed Ali … or … and then somebody said if it IS true, of course it’s bragging. That is to say, if it’s NOT true, it’s just plain lying, and if it IS true, it’s bragging.

Whatever.

Following up on yesterday’s thought about Marvel Comics’ “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine,” there’s something to be said about setting a high standard for yourself.

By proclaiming their book was the greatest, the creators of the Fantastic Four threw down a measurable standard: You’re about to have the most fun you’ve ever had reading a comic book. For a while there in the mid-sixties, they lived up to the standard they’d set for themselves, month after month.

TV, movie and comics creator Joss Whedon put it this way: “I have a contract with my audience — that I will do better, that I will give them a reason to come in again that is more than the reason we gave them last time.”

In that sense declaring your product “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” ain’t bragging — it’s a contract with your audience, and if you breach that contract, they’re not coming in again. If you’ve told the audience to expect your best, you’ve given yourself an incentive to deliver.

The world’s greatest comic magazine

Marvel Comics traces its history to just before World War II, but its modern era, the one that spawned almost all of the heroes in its popular series of superhero movies, began in late 1961 with the release of the Fantastic Four.

They apparently realized they had started something special, because on the cover of Fantastic Four #3 was a blurb, “The Greatest Comic Magazine in the World!!” From issue #4 onward, the top of the cover was emblazoned with the more concise “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!”

For a time, it really was.

Continue reading “The world’s greatest comic magazine”

The agony of Schudei Syndrome

Photo 57629263 © Balefire9Dreamstime.com

Have you ever found yourself stuck wondering what to do next — “Should I try NaNoWriMo again this year? Should I try to work on that project I always wanted to do? Should I try for that dream job? Should I? Should I? Should I?” — and unable to come to any decision at all?

If so, like me you may suffer from Schudei Syndrome (pronounced “Should I”), the world’s leading cause of procrastination, in which the patient is caught in a constant loop unable to select from an endless series of choices, all of them good choices except the choice not to choose.

Symptoms can include stagnation, malaise, unhappiness bordering on depression, agitation, undue stress, and many many more.

Named for Hans Schudei, the psychologist who first identified this disorder, Schudei Syndrome affects millions of people every year. There is good news: A treatment has been identified and found to be effective most of the time when administered daily.

The cure is simple and very inexpensive:

Do — or do not. There is no “try.”