ANOTHER YEAR OVER….


This is another of my community newspaper writings from the seventies. Yes I admit it…taking something from thirty years ago and adding a couple of lines to update it is the lazy approach but hey, it’s the Holidays!

New Years. Everybody stops eating, drinking, smoking, running red lights, wearing unmatched socks, and arguing with the kids.

Why do people make promises they know they can’t keep? Getting elected comes to mind but other than that I think it’s because they honestly believe that this year is going to be their year and if they can just get it together everything will be so gosh-darned swell.

Every January First I get it together and spend the rest of the month trying to figure out where I put it but this year will be different. For starters I’ve decided to make my resolutions easier.

I’m going to stop arguing with anything bigger and hairier than me except for maybe the parking meter guy. It’s tough to quit cold turkey. I’m not going to go trail-riding. Horses and I just don’t get along and they’re also bigger and hairier than I am. So are cows but cows don’t run as fast. Neither does the parking meter guy. I’m also going to stop arguing with inanimate objects such as taps, toilets and bank machines. They always win anyway. I’m giving up skiing. It’s far too costly and dangerous. Besides I’ve only been skiing once in my life and one plummet down a mountainside is enough. I vaguely remember trying to scream but when I opened my mouth nothing came out. They heard me at the top of the hill so I was obviously traveling faster than the speed of sound. I’m not going to honk my horn at jaywalkers because they have a much shorter life expectancy than I do and I’d like their remaining days to be peaceful. I’m not going to try to figure out rap lyrics. It’s impossible to make sense of a thousand monosyllable string that doesn’t have to mean anything as long as it rhymes and follows the popular beat. I’m not going to try to figure out politicians for the same reason. I’m no longer going to visit those ‘anti-wolf’ pages until they can come up with more imaginative names to call me or until one single person on them makes sense. This goes back to the whole rap thing again.

I am definitely going to make this my year. I’m going to approach each day with a new improved and easy-to-use attitude. I’m going to be nice to rich people. I don’t know why it just seems like a plan. I’m going to save up all the free airmiles everybody throws at me and give them to the lady next door with the loud stereo. I’m going to stop and smell more roses, pat more puppies and skritch more cats… except for the miserable deaf one that lives next door.

And above all I’m not going to start anything that I can’t

Me2b

A Christmas past…

Whilst sorting through some old files I stumbled on a series of articles I had written for a community paper back in the eighties. I thought I’d like to share one of my Christmas contributions.

‘Twas the night before Christmas…and that’s about as far as the traditional poem goes around our house.

I’m philosophically looking up at a million stars and wondering how many other dads are sitting on the front steps trying to figure out why their kids don’t ‘nestle’ on Christmas Eve. ‘Hot Wired’ is a far more accurate description. And Mom? She’s in the kitchen trying to coax Tom Turkey into the refrigerator. He doesn’t want to go and I don’t blame him. He’ll be tucked in there beside pies, cranberry sauce, and a clear plastic dish of green jelly stuff full of red, orange and yellow floatie things. If Santa had only heard what Momma had called that bird….

Then there’s Harold.

Harold’s a snowman of few words. His nose is bark, his eyes are two chunks of broken cement and his shocking red brushcut is a shocking red snowbrush that has seen better days.

As a matter of fact, so has Harold. He’s survived kids with snowballs, above zero temperatures and dogs with no discretion whatsoever. Yes he’s seen better days but no better nights. The air seems to crackle. Mom’s run out of nice things to call the bird, the kids’ batteries have finally died and Harold and I are just enjoying the moment.

There’s a hint of wood smoke wafting through the neighborhood. The faint perfume mingles with the thoughts of the snowman and philosopher.

A zillion stars all over the world. In China, Bosnia, Somalia…everywhere. If everyone could just take five minutes, stop what they’re doing and look at those stars, all at the same time.

Oh, I know it’s noon somewhere and breakfast someplace else but hey, it’s just a thought.

Most everyone has a Christmas cease-fire. I wonder who decides when the allotted time for being kind to your fellow man is up? And why? I can’t imagine thousands of soldiers checking their watches so they can be the first to get back to work.

Maybe just a few moments earlier they were looking up at the stars and wondering…just like Harold and I.

It’s starting to snow a little. If it had done this yesterday I would have been able to suggest a few more expletives for the turkey. But tonight, snow’s OK. It always seems to snow on Christmas Eve. I think nature planned it that way so that people like me could appreciate the stuff.

It works.

And I can see my breath. Somehow though, it’s not cold. Maybe it’s the spirit of the season. You know…warming of the soul and all that. It’s like feeling all alone yet being surrounded by…something. It’s wanting to shout soppy and sentimental things to the world but not knowing what to say.

It’s like Harold.

Life goes on all around him while he just stares at the world through concrete eyes, hair always in place. My daughter and I made him what he is and he’s happy with that.

So’s my daughter, although I figure he should have been taller. He wishes no ill to anyone, even those who try to knock him down. Harold’s got it all together and I think I have too. Even if I’m sure I hear bells in the night sky.

I wrap my scarf around Harold’s thick neck, pat his brush, and wish him well before I head into the house. Then that old poem comes back…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

ginn2

SONY ET AL….

Let’s see…we have the big SONY scandal, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, world hunger, environmental disasters, questionably lawful police shootings….the list goes on and on yet the biggest thing on some people’s minds is the fact that Blue Buffalo All-Natural Pet Food is using a photograph of a wolf on one of their dog food products. The anti-wolf crowd is calling for all pet owners to boycott the product until they remove the ‘offending’ photograph. My God…cyber ransom over a photograph on a bag of dog food?  Get a life people!

Okay that was my little rant for the day. I  don’t know how far this ‘boycott’ will go and I hope that Blue Buffalo doesn’t bend to what I would assume will be minor pressure from a small group of brave individuals hiding behind their laptops but it does demonstrate the power of the internet, as does the SONY debacle.

The son of a friend of mine is a “Hacker for Hire”. For obvious reasons I won’t disclose names but he’s one of the good guys. Large corporations hire him to try and break their on-line security and offer any advice to improve any weak areas. Typically he works with police departments instructing law enforcement officers on how to break into the bad guys computers and judging by how busy he is, he must be good at it. Three years ago he said that if there’s to be a Third World War it will be fought in cyber-space. Nations will fall when all of their systems fail. I think he may be right.

The kafuffle over SONY could have been the first volley. To me the speculation that North Korea was behind it seems sound but really…is it? How many times have students hacked into school computers to try and change exam marks? We know of a few that got caught but how many are never found out? Over the past few years banks and other financial institutions have been hacked, department store credit card machines have been infiltrated, iphone codes are regularly stolen…who’s to say that the SONY hack wasn’t pulled off by some fifteen-year-old straight A student in his mum’s basement? Personally I don’t understand computers enough to present an educated opinion on this and I would guess that ninety-percent of people that use computers are in the same boat but this should be a bit of a warning to us all. Put it up on the internet and it doesn’t ever go away.

Moving along…try a little kindness. I love this time of year. There are always ‘feel good’ stories about strangers stopping to help out the less fortunate and it’s nice to hear that a homeless person had a new (to him) coat dropped in his lap. I did my small RAOK yesterday and the appreciation and emotion I received from both the elderly woman involved and a total stranger who observed my action gave me that warm holiday feeling. It was small to me, seemingly insignificant really, but it meant the world to someone else. It doesn’t take much, sometimes just a cheery greeting, but it can change someone’s day for the better and when you make someone else feel better….

To each of you Merry Christmas or, if you prefer, Happy Holidays!

Mike

santa

CLUTTER CLUTTER

I admit it…I’m a pack rat.  Everything I “pack” is themed, cataloged, and semi-organized (which takes me out of the hoarder category) and I am impressed with my collections as are most of the visitors to my little world. Over the last few months I have let that damned reality slip into my life and ask the question “when is too much too much?” The answer is…probably now.

A brief summary of some of my passions…221 Alien/Predator pieces, 2850 Hot Wheels, 399 Johnny Lightnings, 327 Matchbox toys, and 200 Richard Petty collectibles. This doesn’t take into account three shelves of wolf sculpts/toys, a kazillion books and videos, two massive shelf units of vinyl music, and…well you get the idea.

I’ve run out of room.

These last few months have been difficult for a rampant collector like me. I decided that I should cut back on purchases and specialize in a couple of areas rather than continually adding to each collection and to an extent it has worked. I’ve saved a lot of money but when I walk away from a Predator figure that would look great on the shelf the “saving” part doesn’t quite smooth over the “wanting” part.

WOLVES

In the last two days I have left a department store not buying a cool wolf blanket and departed a thrift shop leaving two wolf sculpts and a framed limited edition wolf print for someone else to buy. It’s been a rough two days of second guessing and fighting the urge to get back in the car and remedy the roughness.

Cutting back has done nothing to clear the clutter of course…the only way to accomplish that is to let go of some of it.

Some will be easy. I have five guitars. I play one regularly and another one quite often. The other three just gather dust so they could go. I have doubles (in some case triples) of some of the toys I mentioned so selling them is a no-pain option…but that’s as far as the “easy” part goes. I’ve spent years building these collections and deciding what stays and what doesn’t isn’t something I want to get wrapped up in right now.

I’m going to spend this winter organizing for a yard sale but a lot of it I wouldn’t sell at yard sale prices so I’m not sure how successful that would be or even how much I would put out. Online selling doesn’t appeal to me either although it may be the only option.

I know there are people who will say just sell them, they’re only things…yes, but they’re MY things. They’re also my kids’ things and I’m not sure how any of them would feel about me selling off their inheritance. On the other hand “Die Broke” seems to be the battle cry of my generation and there’s a lot to be said for reaping my own financial reward from a lifetime of collecting. I have a feeling I’m going to be wrestling with this a lot more before I decide what to do.

I also have a feeling that my final decision will be “maintain the status quo”.

**Upon rereading this I realize I have just summarized the entire plot of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and I now understand the agony that Andy Stitzer felt while watching his collection disappear into the mail boxes.