Looking over last year's xmas update ... it was a gnarly, mean-spirited affair that elicited far more than the usual number of comments, all from people who were, at best, uncomfortable with my venom. They were probably right ... I quoted the lyrics to "Street Hassle," after all. Let's see if I can be nicer this year. First, the Icon of Xmas, past, present and future:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's Spot, the Xmas Wonder Dog, back for another year! Recently, we discovered that the company that makes Spot's dog food inserts large amounts of barbiturates into their products, which may explain why the ole pooch hasn't moved in years. Maybe in 2009, we'll start feeding him Purina Dog Chow, instead.
I can't say anything about the year 2008 without mentioning ... well, let's just say, I can't hear myself type because in the room just below me, someone is using a buzz saw to demolish a wall or something. Perhaps it's worth noting that the song playing as I type (which I can't hear, of course) is called "World Destruction." For more than two months and counting, people have invaded our house, torn down walls, jackhammered floors, removed showers and bath tubs and sinks, and replaced them with ... well, so far, with mostly nothing. Our bedroom has a fireplace-style heater which keeps it toasty ... that room is also about 2/3 the size it was before they started. The upstairs bathroom is completely destroyed except for one lonely toilet (I think I've got the name of my next xmas song: "One Lonely Toilet"). The former computer room is now maybe half as big as it used to be, and is taken up almost entirely by the above-mentioned buzz saw. Our living room is filled, wall-to-wall, with all of the stuff that used to be in the rooms that have been demolished. We have a new shower/bath ... it's in the basement and is only accessible via a spiral staircase that is steep and narrow. Since our washer and dryer are still in the basement, and since you can't really carry anything up those stairs, we're still struggling with the logistics of doing laundry. Half of our kitchen is full of clothes and the like ... as of now, we have no closet space. There is a giant new bathtub ... in a box in our backyard. There is a new toilet ... in a box in our living room. I work out of the attic, now ... even given my disdain for cleaning things up, it's a disaster, since we have also used the attic to store everything that doesn't fit elsewhere. Merry Xmas, indeed.
Ah, but when you've got your health, you've got everything, right? This year I finally went to the doctor about my messed up knee area ... I've had some kind of pulled muscle or something for a long time now. He said it was a minor case of arthritis. I'm not a medical doctor, but I'm pretty sure arthritis is about bones and joints, while my pains don't seem to have anything to do with bones or joints. No worries ... a couple of days after the spiral staircase was installed, I scrubbed going down and banged up that knee, so now I finally do have bone problems in that area, along with an ugly scab. This was a big deal for a few days, but then Robin showed that old stuff is just as dangerous as new: last Sunday night, after we'd had a big fight, she went down the big old stairs from the attic and fell on the last step, turning her ankle. Turns out she fractured her leg in two places and tore a ligament. She is on crutches and working out of our bedroom ... she can't get down the Spiral Staircase of Doom, so she has no access to a shower/bath ... when she wants to use the only toilet available to her, she has to scoot a bunch of manly men out of the room so she can use the facilities in "private" (I use quotes because "private" is a relative term around here ... the "bathroom" has no walls, the only window has no curtain, at times there are holes in the ceiling that people can look through and holes in the floor that people can look through). All of this because I was being a dick. Merry Xmas, indeed.
Even I have things to be thankful for at xmas time. Our kids are doing well, all things considered. Neal and Sonia continue to be exemplary and unappreciated workers on their respective jobs, and exemplary and much-appreciated lovebirds off the job. They got a doggy, but I can't post a picture or Spot will get jealous. Sara lives on an urban farm ... I spent the night there on Thanksgiving, which was the first time in my 55 years on the planet that I slept at a farm. I was awoken by roosters.
Meanwhile, I got a big-screen TV, which should keep me pacified for a few months once the workers are finally done and I can hear again.
Finally, here's a brief account of something that happened to me a few days ago ... make of it what you will. I was playing a game online against someone named Sergey. He was 21 years old, and was from Russia. It's pretty commonplace for people to look at technology and marvel at how times have changed ... how many times have you heard someone say something like "when I was a kid, I'd never have imagined that in the future, people would play on this thing called the Internet." Well, I had a similar thought, which I explained to Sergey. I told him that when I was a kid, it would have been unthinkable that at some point, ANY point, in the future, I would be playing a game with someone from Russia.
Since I closed out last year's xmas message with a song, I think I'll do that again this year, to put a period to the year, if you will. Here is "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)" by that Oscar-winning purveyor of Disney music, Randy Newman:
Cain slew Abel Seth knew not why
For if the children of Israel were s'posed to multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:
"Man means nothing he means less to me
than the lowliest cactus flower
or the humblest yucca tree
he chases round this desert
cause he thinks that's where I'll be
that's why I love mankind
I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
from the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
That's why I love mankind"
The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak
They said "Lord the plague is on the world
Lord no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won't take care of us
Won't you please please let us be?"
And the Lord said
And the Lord said
"I burn down your cities--how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You must all be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why I love mankind
You really need me
That's why I love mankind"