Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well, another year shot down the sewer. Time to make some changes. Yessir, 2010 will be different--now let me see, what should I put on that list of New Year's resolutions?

Hold on there, Wild Bill ! What say we put the new year on hold for a moment. That's it...relax. Let's talk about something directly related to those resolutions, and that's the subject of happiness. If people were really happy with themselves, they wouldn't feel the need to make all those changes, right?

Funny thing, this happiness stuff. The more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. There must be a trick to it somewhere. Now we're getting warmer ! The trick to realizing happiness is to first understand that there IS a trick, and that the trick is on us.

Let's face it, we humans are never satisfied--it's either a thing or a person we don't feel complete without, or some circumstance of our lives that we would change if we could. The culprit is desire--it's what chains us to this world. Only by recognizing that to some degree we will ALWAYS be in this state of unfulfilled desire (until we've evolved enough to master desire) are we likely to amiably accept life on its own terms. This is the irony. The cosmic joke.

Now, just in case I lost you back there, what follows is a mini-play about two friends: Fred, who lives in the moment, and Arnie, who...well, lives lots of other places.


Scene: A New Year's Eve party.
FRED: Hey Arnie, you don't look so happy--what's the matter, itchy underwear?
ARNIE: Naw, I asked my boss for a raise and he muttered something about hell freezing over.
FRED: Wow, too bad...I see you've still got that black eye from when your girlfriend punched your lights out.
ARNIE: Yeah, I need a new job and a kinder, gentler relationship.
FRED: Think that will make you happy?
ARNIE: Damn right.
FRED: Maybe, but can you think of a time when there wasn't something you wanted to change about your life, even if only a little?
ARNIE:, I guess not.
FRED: And as you went through the days and month and years wanting something to be different, what time was it?
ARNIE: Oh, I see what you're getting at--it was always NOW.
FRED: Right, so if you can't be happy NOW, when WILL you be happy?
ARNIE: Maybe tomorrow?
FRED: Today is the tomorrow you dreamed about yesterday.
ARNIE: THAT was the year I had it all !
FRED: The past is overrated. It only looks good to us through hindsight...come to think of it, that's the only way we can look at it. But if I know you, your head was stuck in the past and the future then too, living every moment but the one you're living.
ARNIE: So how does one live in the moment?
FRED: When I was a kid, and the carnival came to town, I would ride the merry-g0 round, There was a brass ring you had to try to grab as you circled around--whoever got it would win this giant stuffed panda bear--but the ring was always just out of reach. I'd get on and off those pretty horses, time after time, intent on spearing that ring...but I never got it. I never saw anyone else who did either.After a while it dawned on me that the ring was there just to keep me on the merry-go-round.
ARNIE: [guzzles his drink] Hee hee hee ha ha ha hoo hoo...hack...cough...choke...N ow I see it! Everybody's running around searching for something outside of themselves-
FRED: Like the other day when you turned the house upside down looking for your car keys, only to find them half an hour later in your pocket.
ARNIE: So, if I'm not happy with things the way they are--right this minute--then I'll NEVER be happy, because it's always now, and even though things change, things are always going to be the way that they are.
FRED: Go to the head of the class.
ARNIE: [frowns] But what about dreams...shouldn't I follow my dreams?
FRED: Of course--dreams are what life is about ! It's just that most people have trouble reconciling the dream the way it appears in their imaginations with the dream the way it turns up in what we call reality--they're never exactly the same, you know.
ARNIE: I THINK I get all of that...but my head is spinning.
FRED: So is the world.
ARNIE: I'm getting dizzy.
FRED: Not as dizzy as you're going to be--here comes another round of champagne.
ARNIE: It's almost midnight. Happy New Year, Fred !
FRED: Happy NOW Year, Arnie.
[Festoons, fireworks, dogs howling]
Fred and Arnie turn to look at a television in the corner of the room. As millions watch across the nation, the giant glowing ball in Times Square drops squarely onto Dick Clark's head, knocking him unconscious. A minute later he jump up, grabs the microphone and says, "Hell, that didn't faze me folks--I'm ninety-seven years old and still feel like a kid! [Leans into the camera] THE SECRET IS TO KEEP ON DANCIN ! "


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE (a Christmas tale for kids of all ages)

Jeremy realized that the bear who was blowing bubbles at him was speaking perfect English as well. At first he thought the voice was coming from someplace else--some hidden speaker maybe--but speakers don't carry on conversations with people.

The boy had sneaked away while his mom shopped for presents. He had already made the rounds of the big department stores in the mall, drawn to the lights and the glitter of each Christmas display like a heat-seeking missile. There was so much to see--the English winter displays with their miniature pubs, storefronts, and tiny skaters that seemed to move under their own power, and the electric tree ornaments that whirred and hummed and clickety-clacked as they came alive to enact some charming holiday scene. Yes, it DID seem like everything was alive, and though a mechanical bear sitting in a Christmas tree blowing bubbles into the air was certainly unique, it was still within the realm of possibility...but a bubble blowing bear that could TALK was something else again.

"I was beginning to wonder," said the bear, though its lips did not move.

Jeremy's eyes made a sweep of the store to see if anyone was near--someone who might be playing a trick on him, but the other shoppers were too far away. "Wonder about what?" he finally replied.

"If you'd ever arrive!" The bear kept dipping the tiny plastic wand attached to its paw into this little bowl, then lifting the device to its face to whoosh the bubbles into the air.

"Why were you waiting for me?" Jeremy said.

"I guess I should say, more accurately, someone LIKE you--a person who comes alive at Christmas time...just like me."

"Yeah, but I feel all alone...I wish that people-"

"Most people don't get it, my boy. They've 'grown up' and gotten so far away from the original pure state--which is nothing more than the ability to see through the eyes of a child--they don't know who they are anymore."

Jeremy thought: What are the shoppers going to think when they hear me talking to a bear? No sooner had the question popped into his head than it was answered.

"Ours in a mind to mind communication, Jeremy, and in case you haven't noticed, your lips are not moving either. We can do that because we are so perfectly tuned in to each other--on the same wavelength so to the way, you can call me Thaddeus."

The boy began to think about the people who go through the motions during the holidays, then revert back to their old cynical ways the rest of the year. "If people really cared," he said, "the Christmas spirit would last all year round."

Just then a SUPER-big bubble alighted onto the tip of his nose and Jeremy looked at it cross-eyed for a moment before it popped and disappeared into thin air.

"I hate to burst your-ah- what I mean is, that's a mistake in thinking a lot of people make. Everything in the universe exists because it has a counterpart...good implies evil, happy implies sad--we could no more have Christmas all year round than you could eat banana creme pie every meal for the rest of your life and still love it as you do!"

Jeremy thought it was pretty cool that even though Thaddeus used some big words, he somehow understood everything that was being said...and the bear even knew what his favorite dessert was! "I guess that's what makes the holidays so special then," he said.

"Not everyone is like you and me. Still, it's the time of year when the best of what we are shines through. Remember that...THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE. Would you believe that even the scrooges forget themselves when they see me? They do--if only for a moment--but in that one instant when they're scratching their heads and trying to figure out how I do it, they've regained their childish sense of wonder and there more that any of us can do than to try to provide such moments for those around us?"

"Uh, Thaddeus...just how DO you do it? Blow the bubbles I mean."

"Hey kid, there are some things that even I can't tell you. Trade secret, ya know."

Jeremy glanced at a nearby clock. "Oh no," he cried. "My mom's gonna be worried. Wait--please wait Thaddeus--I'm going to get her and bring her back to meet you!"

"Just a moment, Jeremy--you must consider-"

But the boy was already gone, plunging through the holiday shoppers, giddy with excitement and chanting over and over to himself: THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE! THE BEST OF WHAT WE ARE!

His mother--who had essentially been dragged up a flight of stairs and half the length of the mall--now stood in front of the tree where Thaddeus was perched, spouting bubbles into the air in darling mechanical bear fashion.

"Here she is--go ahead and say something," Jeremy urged with his mind.

But there was only silence, and the boy's heart sank.

Then the woman's mouth curved into a wide grin and her eyes began to sparkle like twin stars on a crisp and clear December night. "Well, isn't that just the cleverest idea you've ever seen," she said. "Next thing you know the darn thing will start talking too."

Then she gave her son an odd look. "What's that, Jeremy?"

"I didn't say nothing, mom."

"That's funny...for a moment I thought I heard someone whisper, 'Merry Christmas.'"

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Desperately seeking
someone to love
someone to hate
a reason to humiliate

Desperately seeking
to find some direction
to make a connection
to feel your rejection

Desperately seeking
a little hope
some way to cope
the noose of a rope

Desperately seeking
A Ginsu knife
the meaning of life
somebody's wife

Desperately seeking
my moment of fame
where to lay the blame
an end to this shame

Desperately seeking
another shot at the top
some wings when I drop
back into the slop

Desperately seeking
and Betty Jean
a place to lie down
and a chance to come clean

Desperately seeking
to find a new game
like ants at a picnic
where nobody came

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


You worshiped him
Not because of who he was inside--
you never KNEW who he was...
You worshiped him because he could knock
A little white ball
Around a glorified cow pasture.
Not a skill that contributes a lot to the world.
But YOU worshiped him.
He had the pulpit
And could have weighed in
On the state of the world--
Could have STOOD for something.
But he always played it close to the vest.
Don't want no controversy HERE.
Now we know why...
He preferred the HORIZONTAL position.
You never cared about who he was--
Now you're acting disillusioned.
Go back to worshiping people
For some meaningless skill they possess...
Or maybe the size of their fake boobs...
And shut your IDIOTIC pie hole.

Friday, December 4, 2009


This may be the only holiday card you're getting from me this year--that's because there wasn't room enough to write everything I wanted to say on one of those Hallmark jobbies. It also means I had to leave out the fifty dollar bill I was planning to tuck inside the card. Sorry.

I'm going to tell you about the meaning of Christmas--but it's not what you might expect. There are folks who like to haul out the annual guilt trip, reminding you of the "true" significance of the holiday--usually when they catch you having too much fun. I don't buy into that, nor do I subscribe to the popular notion that Christmas is over-commercialized.

Some interpret the Nativity as myth, others accept it as gospel, but it ain't anyone else's business to tell you and me which it should be. Secondly, in the U.S. we live in a capitalist society. Like it or not, the selling of goods and services is what our battered economy depends on. Yet some of us get all huffy during the holidays when business people do what comes naturally, which is to capitalize on the opportunity.

Lighten up already.

Christmas is perfect just the way it is. Everyone gets exactly what he or she wants from it. The retailer brings in the major chunk of his yearly revenue. The homeless person gets a free feast.
Grandma gets to see the kids and grand kids who don't come around the rest of the year. And people everywhere, in spite of themselves, warm to one another. What could be more perfect than that?

There is a young boy who sneaks off to the mall in the latter part of September, because he knows that's when some of the stores begin erecting their Christmas displays. He knows which stores to check because he has done this before. He's got it down to a science. He finds the section that has been cleared of summer merchandise and now is littered with boxes. A few ornaments have been hung on their racks with care, and an employee is crouched on the floor, struggling to wrap the first string of lights around that first fake tree. An adult couple walks by, issuing a pronouncement about it being too early in the season, for Christ's sake, to be putting up all this crap. The boy feels sorry for the employee...she's only doing her job. He knows the store management is trying to hasten the buying season, but he doesn't care. For him, the holidays are glitter, warmth, and fuzziness--and something magical happens when those lights flicker on. While all about him the desert dwellers curse the heat, the boy exults in his moment of discovery. He understands that December 25th is anticlimactic, and that the heart and soul of Christmas lies in the slowly building momentum...the wide-eyed anticipation on the faces of kids from one to ninety-two.

Jump cut to late November. The broken cookies and fruitcakes are heading your way in the mail. The dumb commercials for Chia Pet and The Clapper are back on TV. The Budweiser Clydesdales are clip-clopping across your screen. And some jerk at the office party will dance around with a lamp shade on his head and end up decked in the hall. Soon, someone will step into a red suit and glue on a white beard and BECOME Santa Claus. Carolers will sing in the distance, and the winter night will no longer feel cold.

It's all a hoot.

So that's my fa la la la blah blah. Oh yeah, before I ride out of sight, there's a confession I have to make concerning the aforementioned young boy.

Yes, Virginia, that little kid is me.