Monday, December 05, 2016

Puddle of Santa

Flat and empty
Belly bereft of jelly
Collapsed like a narcoleptic
Run over by a mattress truck
In some terrible coincidence
At night will you rise
Majestic
Lit from within?
Animatronic reindeer
Shaking their heads
Slowly slowly
Back and forth
Disapproving
Of your midnight
Lawn party

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Game Is Up, Kringle

My seven year-old daughter does not believe in Santa Claus anymore, apparently. It happened naturally I guess, though I suspect it may be because I listen to Father Christmas by The Kinks pretty regularly this time of year and the line "When I was small I believed in Santa Claus/Though I knew it was my dad".

There are of course two schools of thought on the Santa/No Santa LYING/NO LYING question. I struggled with the LYING aspect of the decision for a long time (because it is my jam to struggle with/worry about everything) and finally settled with my wife on the MAGIC argument. The LYING problem is that your kid of course believes everything you say with perfect, unquestioning faith, and when they find out Santa isn't real, they fall from innocence, much like that Michael J Fox movie where he was in a war or something and you had to pretend you weren't thinking "Looka that--it's Alex P Keaton in Vietnam" the whole time. That, of course, presupposes that your kid actually believes everything you say, whereas I have been telling my daughter made-up stuff pretty much since she was born. It's one of the reasons I had a kid in the first place.

The MAGIC argument is that there is very little magic left in the world. All the answers to everything are at our fingertips all time--even if we choose not to look up those answers, like what the name of that Michael J Fox movie was--so having some inexplicable things is no bad thing. Don't get me wrong; one can go too far and end up putzing around the woods at all hours looking for bigfoots.

But my daughter doesn't really seem to care if Santa is not real, and having Ray Davies break it to you is not the worst. 

My daughter seems to be a very truth-oriented kid and always wants to know the real story behind things, a quality I admire. When I was a kid I had a real love for legend and the mystical, even though my parents were godless rationalists, so maybe it is the same for her. 

She certainly seems to enjoy stories about mice solving crimes, so there's that.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Trust Your Mechanic

I was driving to work today and suddenly, every time I put the clutch in, the car was instantly losing power, like it was slowly braking, as opposed to going into neutral.

I instantly envisioned terrible outcomes--towing it to the Wacky German Guys that service my car, and who call me "The Computer Guy" because I once advised them that a blue screen was probably not a good sign. Like, every time I engaged the clutch I was kind of jerked forward as the car slowed unnaturally. I knew this was going to be a more-than-a-thousand dollar fix. And my car has 165,000 miles on it--it's at the stage where one huge repair bill means "let's get a new car" and not "let's fix this one". The same thing as when you have an eleven year old cat and it needs open heart surgery. You have to know when to say when is what I'm saying.

So I thought of all the good times I had had with my sport wagon. Driving to Joshua Tree. Driving to Utah. Going on rollercoasters together. Having our first smoke. That time we danced to Against All Odds at the junior high dance.

With a tear in my eye I pulled into a gas station, knowing that I may have had that last drive with my old friend. In my head, I was already assembling a car-based playlist to help me through these tough times. I won't go into too many details about it, but you know there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house when I effortlessly moved from Jonathan Richman's Roadrunner to Springsteen's Thunder Road.

Or maybe I could learn to fix this old friend myself, despite the fact that the system is all computer controlled, and even though I may be known by my mechanic as The Computer Guy, chances of me fixing anything correctly approach zero pretty rapidly.

Then I noticed a tiny light on the digital display. I didn't even want to know what it meant: HDC. Here Die Cars, most likely. Or Heaven Don't Care? That seemed to match my mood.

HDC: Hill Descent Control. I had somehow pressed the Hill Descent Control button, a button which I have never pressed even once in the ten years I have owned the car.

I restarted the car, made sure HDC was no longer showing up, and drove into the midmorning sun, feeling free and alive for the first time.

Still, I have that playlist ready.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Others

The other people are spoken of in hushed murmurs. We see them going up, going down. There is no evidence they see us. They have ice cream on the lawn sometimes. They stand by their cars and smoke cigarettes. Once they had a food truck come, but we were not invited. Probably fusion tacos. I wonder, do they sense us as we brush past?

We have labored here for so long, alone. Always edging toward release. And when that release came, we were again there in the valley, looking up, and we touched our arms to be sure we were real, and started the ascent once more.

You see, my company was in an otherwise empty building for over a year. Not just empty as in unfurnished. Empty as in unfinished suites and entirely empty floors of the building. I thought idly sometimes that there could have been squatters in here somewhere, or some Hellraiser type with crickets in his beard, waiting only for me to stumble off the elevator onto the wrong floor and hiss "What is your pleasure, sir?"

But now another business is here, doing something that seems frankly a lot more exciting than the software we create (or, in my case, document). Being interesting. Taking the good parking spaces.

And I wonder what they think of us, the old ones? The ones who came before. Will they look to us for wisdom, asking where are the dependable but honestly not great sandwich shops? Or are we but a chill whisper of the past to them?

They seem to be having so much fun.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It Is the Prophecy

Somehow I find myself to be 45 years old. The occasion was marked this weekend in a small ceremony featuring only a few heads of state, some hermit crabs, and the original touring cast of Hair. While I have always been a friend to the majestic hermit crab, and it is always an honor to have King Harald V of Norway stop by for a visit, I was a little confused since I don't like musicals at all.

But there you go. 45. Brimful of Asha and all that.

I can't say I look forward to the coming year with any great sense of optimism. More of a "hunker down and survive" strategy is what I am envisioning at this point. Just stay cool. Protest. Donate. Hope the idiots in charge realize that actual destruction of the human race would result in them having markedly less money.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Help Me I Am in Hell

We will get through this. There will be punk rock and fantastic art created.

But to paraphrase Barry Crimmins, we get done in sometimes by the secret goodness of the American people, the unwillingness to believe the hideous nature of their candidate. They choose to look away because if the truth about Trump (which is so self-evident) is true, then maybe it's true a little bit about everyone. Maybe we as a nation are morally depraved. All those millions who voted for Trump are absolute suckers and we are all going to suffer for it, because I don't think they believed it could be this bad.

Well, it is going to be bad. And Trump will not be running this country. They might pass him the remote every now and then, but it will be the evil Wormtongues slithering in the background who will be running the show. And the Sarumans who speak through them.

And if you are not a white man, the terror in your heart today must be ten times what it is in mine, a white man in California.

I am so deeply sorry. For all of us.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Seems Reasonable

I was behind a Toyota Venza this morning with the license plate NU SHUUZ. 

I imagined a beautiful retirement community where 80s bands are put out to pasture in midpriced cars. Timbuk 3 would be roaming the streets in a Chevy Malibu. Toto Coella stopping by the donut shop in a Hyundai Sonata. Kajagoogoo might glance over at Haircut 100 as they come to a stop sign at the same time. You first, Limahl would signal with a respectful nod from the driver's seat of his Kia Optima. Thanks, Nik Kershaw would respond with a small waggle of his fingers, appreciating the smooth ride of his Nissan Murano.

What's that, boys? Trouble? 

That's right--Ric Ocasek has slid off the road in his Altima and Bob Geldof is en route in his Subaru Legacy--call the Communards! They have a Honda Odyssey!

In the end everyone is saved and they do a kind of supergroup thing where that one guy who you're not sure who he is appears in the video flanked by Howard Jones and the singer from Naked Eyes, his fingers to one ear as he shares the mic.

But this happens every few days, and the songs are never released.

Still, the cars--very reasonable.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

I Can't Even

We have made it through Halloween and now we revolve lazily toward Election Day here in the United States.

My seven year-old daughter was The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for Halloween.
I am so stressed out about this election my eyes pop open in the middle of the night for no reason.

She collected candy in a small cloth pumpkin bag, returning to us every now and then to dump out the Snickers and Skittles, ready for another round.
I reassure myself that really--I mean come on... there is no way on god's green earth that Hillary loses this election.

An inflatable tail really made the costume, though I would guess not too many people knew who she was supposed to be.
I mean, it is obvious that the FBI director knows there is nothing in those emails.

Around 8pm, she gave up on trick or treating and retired to the house, where she sorted and traded candy with her cousins and their friends.
I was waiting to see what came out in that press conference today--a woman who said Trump repeatedly raped her when she was thirteen years old. Thirteen!

She favored Dum-Dums, which I thought was a wise choice (I myself was a devotee of the root beer flavor as a kid.)
Now I see the press conference was cancelled because the woman was getting death threats.

What do we do? Is everything this broken? Is it not that close, and the news networks are trying to keep interest in the face of a Democrat landslide? Or am I in a Bay Area bubble--will there be a rude awakening next Tuesday, when I take my daughter to the polls to see what's great about America?

*twitch*

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Go to Bed Old New Age Man

I am listening to the latest Vangelis album, Rosetta. Some people put entire albums up on YouTube, or so I hear.

I had a vision of my sixteen year-old self realizing that some thirty years on, he would be listening to Vangelis and Tangerine Dream a lot and what would he think? That fresh-faced Cure fan in 1987?

I like to think he'd whisper softly "Awesome!"

Monday, October 24, 2016

Saw II

I cut down a tree in our backyard this weekend. Or, more accurately, I cut lots of gigantic heavy branches off a tree armed only with a woodsaw (not unlike the ones you get for precocious toddlers), and dodged quickly out of the way as the limbs crashed earthward. Somehow, I managed to avoid crippling injury.

This is a black pine that a landscaper planted about ten years ago, when we had our back yard redone, taking it from a nightmarish jungle that probably housed at least one tribe of tiny devil-men into an alarmingly well-groomed paradise. (It has since reverted to just kind of unkempt and dead, but I took lots of pictures of it when it was just done so I have the proof.) He planted the tree and assured us that it would get to be "no more than ten or twelve feet". Of course it is now closer to twenty feet and now represents everything our neighbor resents about us, as it stretches into their yard, threatening their electrical wires and casting a lightless pallor over their once-beautiful hydrangea.

What I want to say is that I have grown as a person, because even though I formed a cunning plan for how to fell a twenty-foot tall pine tree without maiming myself, I recognized that it was fairly likely I would end up maimed in this scenario and chose not to do it.

This represents a significant step forward.

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