I’m working on this fine Thanksgiving Day. That means that I’m often perusing the depths of my phone as I wait for the bat phone to ring. Like most stories I read of late, the content of today’s entries keep mentioning restrictions and cancellations of typical events. The mention that spurred me to offer my own volley into the bloggy battle was that some the parades have been canceled.
I haven’t watched a parade in years—maybe 20 years. I remember watching them as children. I cared about every part of them. I loved the floats. I wanted my group to perform. And when I was around 18, my family even went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC.
But then I became an adult and went off to the Air Force to be a hero pilot. Something changed in me. I just stopped caring about the parade. Music preferences had changed. Lots of things felt different. Maybe it was my mental attitude, more concerned with war and the inner conflict of wanting to distinguish myself through one but not actually wanting to participate in one, but what I know is that it became difficult to care about what I considered to be small potatoes
I think I might even say that because of the gravity inherent to flying, I found myself wanting more and more to entertain myself precisely as I chose, and not with some other person’s method. A bit dramatic and morbid, but I could admit that my opinion became, “If I could die any day, I don’t want to have lived someone else’s life.”
Skip to the pandemic. I can’t see Metallica. I can’t go to the symphony. I can’t attend church (in a meaningful way). That’s no fun. But now I don’t have to have an excuse to stay home. Now, I can shut myself off from the world without an excuse. I can use my phone. I can use my laptop. Most importantly, I can use my books. I can sit around reading or texting all day long, and never feel guilty for being fairly anti-social. Hear me clearly: through the pandemic, I have not been terribly inconvenienced, but I have been relieved of a terrible feeling (guilt).
“With COVID-19 out there, we could die any day,” we now say. Then we hunker down and pretend to be making sacrifices for the good of each other, for the good of our nation, for the good of our children, hell, for the good of the world.
“We are heroes!” we allow, silently.
But the dark truth is this: we like our new way of life. It’s easy. It’s without guilt. And it’s how we’ve kinda always wanted life to be—alone, undisturbed, and free from responsibility.
And it’s all because we believe that we could die any day.
Out doing some last and only minute Christmas shopping. I couldn’t help but notice that in the line ahead was some poor old lady with this disease. Fortunately, for me, the inability to purchase something not on sale isn’t contagious. Or unfortunately.
“I’m so excited about St. Patrick’s Day because I get to wear green and my mom’s favorite color is green!”
“Ha. That’s true. When is it?”
“I think it’s Thursday next week.”
“Are you going to wear green?”
“Now H-, when have you ever seen me dress up for a holiday?”
“Do you want to get pinched?”
He whistled loudly as they approached the grocery store.
“What song are you whistling, Daddy?” H- begged.
“My Favorite Things,” he answered.
“Oh,” she said, not familiar with the tune.
“All aboard!” he called, signaling it was time for her to hop on the front of the cart if she was going to.
He watched and heard her begin an open mouth hum as she attempted to demonstrate her own Christmas spirit notwithstanding a deficit in whistling ability. Chuckling, he pushed the cart into the store and began searching for beautiful women whom he could make smile with the assistance of his little helper.
“I said humming to town,” H- said, laughing innocently as congestion in the baking aisle halted their progress.
“What’s that?” he asked.
H- then proceeded to hum the chorus of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Afterward she again giggled and said, “I said humming!”
Squinting and with a cocked head, he looked at her in disbelief and thought, “Surely she knows when she hums no one hears the words?”
“Oh yeah?” he quickly said before the moment passed.
Progressing now to the cereal aisle, another repeat of the chorus was followed by, “That time I said coming.” More humming and another laughing explanation. “I said humming again!”
“Man, I can’t believe they don’t have any corn flakes.”
“Santa is probably humming to the reindeer as they pull his sleigh,” she said thoughtfully, unconcerned with the moment’s dilemma.
“What?” he asked, rising from the crouched position where he had just verified the awful truth that he’d have to get creative to make the cookies.
“I said,” she labored, “Santa is probably humming to the reindeer.”
“A wordsmith is born,” he thought smiling, unable to hide his pride.
So every once in a while I post a scene from a day in the life with George. For organizational purposes these post’s title will now be prefaced with CCWG. I also added a CCWG category at the bottom of the page for easy reference to past conversations. On with it!
The driver and passenger doors shut near simultaneously as the two men got in the car.
“I didn’t want to say anything during the service, but did you smell that?” Pete asked, starting the car.
“Hmm, no,” George answered without confidence. “Smell what? What are you talking about?”
“Back in the church. I kept smelling something pretty rank. I even kept my mouth closed in an effort to eliminate the possibility it was just my own breath,” Pete explained.
“Ha. No, I can’t say that I did smell anything.”
“Weird. I felt bad because A- was right there too and he had invited us and all. A lot of people were lifting their hands in the air, so I guess it could’ve been just the B.O. from that,” Pete said.
“Yeah, it’s always possible. That was a lot of people in there,” George said.
“But it was pretty awful. As predicted, there were a lot of women there too. And you know how bad their farts smell,” Pete suggested.
“Oh yeah. Women’s farts are the worst!” George said. Pete couldn’t help but notice George’s energy go from zero to a hundred in an instant. “It’s all because they hold them in for sooooo long!”
“What? This is great,” said Pete, laughing.
“Yeah. They hold it and hold it and hold it. And then you let them into a large auditorium like that and they let them rip. They figure nobody will suspect them,” George articulated. Continuing the flawless rationale, he explained, “My older sister used to never fart. Never. She actually had me convinced that women don’t fart.”
“Come on,” Pete questioned.
“Dude, I was like seven,” George clarified. “Anyhow, one Christmas I heard her just rip one. She couldn’t deny it, so then she convinced me women only fart one day a year–Christmas.”
Daily, so-called experts advise us to change our perspective, change our job, change our life. They believe we should change our world. It’s sickening. Like you, I’ve followed that message too many times to count and for what? It is a false hope. Change? No thank you.
As the year wraps up I’m happy to report I like life the way it is. And I know you do too. Here’s how I know.
Forgiveness – You forgive me daily. I struggle with why, but am sure you’re the better person for it. It is at once free and invaluable.
Friendship – Again, you give it freely. I cannot imagine a world without the ability to make friends. I don’t want to either.
Peace – The world is close. Real close. Some want to keep the focus on the unrest. The rest of us know to keep peace the focus, and rightly so. Focus on the peace and see what unfolds, I say.
Compassion – Everyone I have ever met understands compassion. While not always possible to act on, their feelings of compassion are always real. I cannot imagine this world before it was filled with compassion. Like most good things, once conceived, the concept of compassion cannot be forgotten. And it never will be.
Love – There is no greater source of strength than the fact that the lowest of the low, the meanest of the mean, I’m talking about the most wretched wretch, this man or woman is still loved by at least one person if they’ll only let themselves feel it.
Change that? Never.
Venspu would have knocked but when he saw Santa at the window he decided against it. He was looking outside, his head resting on his forearm which was pressed against the glass.
“What is it, Venspu?” Santa asked, startling him.
“I can come back,” Venspu began, “it’s nothing.”
“Nothing wouldn’t have led you here tonight, not this night,” Santa said.
Santa’s back was still turned, but Venspu could see his eye’s reflection. They never lost their twinkle, no matter how tired he was. Remarkable, he thought.
“Speaking plainly, the elves are tired,” Venspu said hurriedly. “There’s six days to go. I’ve crunched the numbers. It’ll be close, but if you give them a break tonight, we’ll still be finished before the big night.”
“Think so?” Santa asked, finally turning to face his lead foreman.
“I do,” he said, careful not to betray his hope.
“And just what would the elves do with their time tonight if they didn’t work?” Santa asked.
Could he know? Venspu thought. No. There’s no way. Not this time.
Exhaling, Venspu said, “Sleep, Santa. They’d sleep.”
Santa loved the elves. He couldn’t understand why they were so ready to turn on him. He only enslaved them because he knew they would be happier working for him than facing the cold reality of the human world. Yet here was one of his finest workman, Venspu, looking him dead in the eye and lying. As a tear formed, Santa turned back to the window.
“Give them the night off,” Santa said.
“Thank you, Santa,” Venspu said, adding, “You can count on me to be sure they’re ready for work at first light.”
“Good night, Venspu. You may go,” Santa said, only too aware of the slaughter to come.
“Shhh,” Tinsel mouthed to Mercutious, as he deftly and silently approached his target. Mercutious sat opposite the campfire from Jupton. He couldn’t watch, but neither could he look away as Tinsel, the leader of the Elven resistance, lined up his first officer’s pointy ear for a playful–though painful–flick.
“Ahh!” Jupton cried, as he leaned forward and away from the assailant. Seeing Tinsel standing there with an ear-to-ear grin infuriated and invigorated him. “So you’re back! This is good. How does it look?”
Tinsel informed the rebel Elven leaders that since their last attack, Santa had doubled the number of guards at the wall.
“Were you able to get a response from Venspu? Do they know tomorrow is the day?” Jupton asked.
“I was. They do,” Tinsel replied.
“So this is it,” Jupton pronounced. “The end of Christmas. The end of Santa’s unlawful reign, and the end of the enslavement of two million innocent elves.”
“God willing,” Tinsel said. “You know the plan. We know the plan. Stick to the plan. Venspu wrote that he only has two thousand elves willing to fight. Of those, he personally vouches for only fifteen hundred,” he stopped, harnessed a grave look and continued, “that means the fight is ours.”
“The fight is ours,” muttered the small group of officers in unison.
“Santa is not going to go down easy,” Tinsel lectured. “He has his lists. He remembers everything.” A few of the men chuckled. “What?” Tinsel asked.
Mercutious couldn’t help but sing, “He’s making a list, checking it twice.” Soon the others joined in, “He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.”
A thunderous laughter erupted among the rebel leaders.
“That’s funny,” Tinsel assented. “You’re right. I talk too much. Get some sleep. Be ready at first light.”
Damyanti, Stephswint, iGamemom, Stuart M. Perkins, Frausto, E.I. Wong, Man of Many Thoughts, theryanlanz, RobertOkaji, Elan Mudrow, Dennis Cardiff, KidazzleInk, Dieter Rogiers, Christine Fichtner, Betsy, Karen, Daedalus, Ron, Drew, David, Joan, Vince, Alex, Joe, Eileen, Elliani, Susan, Greeny, Schoen, Tripp, Andy, Garrett, Shannon, Preston, Janet, Larry, Kate, Sam, (Mike?), Grandma, Grandpa, Noa, and K-: Thank you for reading. Some of you have read every single post, and it seems that the rest of you have read nearly every post. Thank you. You give me your time and that means the world to me. Thank you.
We’re all busy today, but in exchange for two minutes more, I’ll give you guys tomorrow off. Please keep reading.
I have quit every job I have had since leaving the Air Force. The other day I finally figured out why. The reason has to do with time and energy. I gave all my time and all my energy to my singular goal of becoming a hero pilot for the United States of America for over a decade. And now when I unintentionally find myself in front of a news source, I see stuff about ISIS. To be clear, I can’t shake the feeling that I wasted my time and energy. If I believe serving in the Air Force of a country whose way of life is worth defending to the death is a waste, you needn’t read my anti-carwash/anti-customer posts to empathize with how I might feel about working at a carwash. Simply put, I realized I’m once bitten, twice shy as they say.
But through it all it’s been seeing your gravatars at the bottom of the posts that keeps me writing. I don’t think it’s a waste of my time to improve my writing, because I think I have something to say. Whether I do have anything of value to contribute on a large-scale is yet to be seen. What I know is that you make me feel like I might. While this blog is primarily a sounding board, I spend hours making sure I don’t think I’m wasting your time. And I think my writing has improved. I’m especially proud of Piano Practice and there is no way I could’ve written that without two years of your encouragement. Again, thank you.
Next to H- and the Mark Twain Listening Club, this blog is the only other thing I give my full attention to. If your name is in the list above, whether you care or not, know that you are one of my top three reasons to try–to fight–in this life. But there is one name missing.
I met George two years ago. He is a constant source of inspiration. He is as principled a man as I have met, moreover he reads and responds sincerely to every post. I have moved away from nearly every friend I’ve ever had for one reason or another and will not hesitate to admit that I’m scared to ever lose George. Honestly, regarding my writing, his encouragement falls under the “dangerous” category.
To know that someone believes in you is probably the most empowering/powerful feeling we can experience as humans. Only I know how I’ve handled this life, and despite the tone that I’m sure comes through in my words, the great “I Am” knows that the truth is not pretty. But that’s the thing about believing in someone. It’s contagious. I know George believes in me. And that makes me believe in me. That makes me believe that no matter what mistakes–sometimes terrible mistakes–I’ve made, the fight is winnable and worth winning.
Thank you George.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
The only way to get there is together.
The first Transformers movie will always have a special place in my heart. Instructor pilots of mine piloted the MH-53 that was the movie-opening Decepticon “Blackout”. Michael Bay even hand chose the pilot that marked me “unsatisfactory” once to be the hologram that “piloted” Blackout and later had a scene in the police car that interrogated Ladiesman217 (Shai LaBeouf).
I need a minute.
Okay, back to the review. Then came the second and third installments. Admittedly they were less than inspiring.
Then number four lost LaBeouf, but gained Marky Mark. Not interested enough to see the film in the theater, I started watching it four weeks ago, and finally finished it yesterday. Why did it take so long? And why did I persist, you ask? Because Optimus Prime riding a T-Rex Dynobot only happens once in a lifetime. And because that darn scene didn’t occur until the 133rd minute in the 165 minute film. But I still got goosebumps. It is awesome.
Here’s what some reviewers said about number 4 on Rotten Tomatoes:
“In the end, though, this is still a movie about giant robots fighting each other, which is to say it’s nearly impossible to take seriously on a narrative level.”
“Inflated, interminable and incoherent …”
“Transformers: Age of Extinction is simply more of the same mindless action, flat characters, and utter boredom that we’ve come to expect from these bloated mechanical sequels.”
And my personal favorite:
“Transformers have souls, this movie repeatedly tells us, but does Michael Bay?”
Know what I say? I say Michael Bay has a soul and it is the soul of a genius. Stay with me. I began watching this movie after listening to H- play for hours on end with a Beauty and the Beast doll set. The set included Belle and a few dresses, the human prince, and a Beast suit to put over the prince. (She hasn’t seen the movie yet.) These three characters became Belle, Belle’s father, and Beast (never mind he doesn’t have legs). And soon thereafter a lego character entered the mix so that it was an even two-on-two. Good guys became bad guys; characters that died came back to life; Beast was always asleep in the moments before only he could save the day. You know I love this child, but listening to her play can be mind-numbing.
Now, I can memorize a two hour movie’s story-line after one viewing, yet can’t follow, let alone repeat, H-‘s story-lines. Michael Bay, on the other hand, can. If you watch Transformers 4 as if you’re watching a four-year-old holding the actors and robots alike and performing all the voice acting, then the movie is perfect. Simply perfect. All the characters are yelling, injured, needing help, fighting, crying, whining, dying, or repeating some cheesy line they probably just heard the day before on TV. Even the scene where the boy and girl kiss after the victory seems like a child is forcing the two of them together while saying, “Mmua, Mmua” and thinking, “Eww gross”. The poor kid knows kissing is what happens when good guys win, but doesn’t understand why.
The genius of the movie and what the critics forget is that it is quite literally a movie about toys in the first place. Perhaps it is the 2007 installment that should be viewed as the fluke. But now with the fourth installment we’re finally getting to the heart of why Transformer toys and Transformers 4 are so great. And all these nay-saying critics probably don’t recognize that when they got big, they became the guy from Big who thinks that there’s something fun about a building that turns into a robot.