Monday, January 31, 2011

We have time for a few questions from the audience.

A reader in Oregon writes, “Rhymes, you surely have solid irons in every antique shop in Georgia.”

A reader in Tooele, Utah, writes, “goodness, gracious, what a pair of glumps you two are, pat from big A and rhymes wit<><><>there has never been or will be greater music, and yes when i was in high school<><><><><><>><><><><<>><><<><><<>><><><><><><><><<>><><<><>”

A reader in Arkansas writes, “I think I have lost my marbles!”

A reader in Groningen (Holland) asks, “Are you okay Mr. RWP?”

Setting aside for a moment the very real question of whether I wish to be addressed as Rhymes, rhymes wit<><><>, Mr. RWP, or a simple “Hey, you!”, I now take pen in hand (figuratively, of course) and respond to your questions because your questions, even when they are not phrased in the form of a question, are important to us.

Oregon reader, no, I personally do not have solid irons in every antique store in Georgia, nor do I know of anyone who does. There must be hundreds of antique stores in Georgia, and that would be one humongous collection of solid irons, to my way of thinking. I would not attempt to guess the number of either antique stores or solid irons in Alabama, South Carolina, or Tennessee. Also, I do not know whether each and every antique store in Georgia would even want to have a solid iron, which is another question entirely. None of the irons, in any case, solid or otherwise, came from me.

Utah reader, according to (my favorite online dictionary), “glump” is not a noun, it is an intransitive verb meaning “to manifest sullenness; to sulk” (albeit colloquially), and I for one -- pat from big A can speak for herself if she wishes to -- can’t make heads or tails of what you’re getting at, if, in fact, you are getting at anything. You mentioned in another comment on the same post that you liked the music of “alll the b’s bach beethoven bocelli brahms,” but you neglected to mention beyoncé, bono, and dieterich buxtehude. The post in question contained a photograph of Elvis Presley performing “Jailhouse Rock” but your contention that “there has never been or will be greater music” is debatable. What about your own Mormon Tabernacle Choir there in Salt Lake City? Did you forget about them? Also, for a minute there at the beginning of your comment, you seemed to be channeling Jerry Lee Lewis. You kind of trailed off at the end, though, and I am not certain what it is, exactly, that you are asking.

Arkansas reader, I rejoice with you, as you seem very happy with the very real possibility that you have lost your marbles. I gleaned this fact from your use of an exclamation point at the end of your sentence. Had you used a question mark -- I think I have lost my marbles? -- I might have thought that some displaced Valley Girls had found their way to your fair region and influenced the local patois.

Which brings me to the final question, “Are you okay Mr. RWP?”

Groningen (Holland) reader, your decision to omit the vocative comma gave me pause. If you had included it (“Are you okay, Mr. RWP?”), I would have answered that sometimes I am and sometimes I am not, but that my not having blogged for a few days just meant I had nothing to say at the moment. My health is good; no problem there. Life is busy and full -- real life, I mean, not this computerized facsimile thereof. But I have taken your question at face value (that is, without the vocative comma), and after pondering a good deal over it, I have decided that I am both an okay Mr. RWP and the okay Mr. RWP. My goal in the time that is left to me, however, is to be the most magnificent Mr. RWP possible.

Speaking of alll the b's, my all-time favorite is this one, especially when she was poking fun at something dear to the heart of every Georgian (part 1) and (part 2).

Hello, I must be going, but I’m so glad we had this time together.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In honor of Carolina in Nederland

...or, to be more accurate, in honor of Nederland itself -- perhaps you call it Holland or The Netherlands, but its inhabitants call it Nederland -- where a cyberfriend and blogging buddy of mine named Carolina and her husband (Hubs) and her horses (Willem, Naloma, and Evie) and her dogs (Holle and Biggles) and her cat (Phoebe, who thinks she is a dog) happen to live. In Nederland.

A neighbor sent me a video clip entitled “Images of a Dutch Winter” in an email a couple of days ago. As much as I dislike the least little bit of winter around here, watching it made me think I actually might enjoy winter in Holland, er, Nederland. Here’s the clip:

Images of a Dutch winter (02:05)

We could sure use some of those skate-behind ice scrapers or snow blowers or mini-plows, or whatever they are called, around here. Somebody could make a mint. Seems a heck of a lot cheaper for a few industrious citizens to own them and then volunteer their time than for the county bigwigs to lay out a boatload of our tax money for a fleet of expensive trucks to sand and salt the roads once every five or ten years and then sit idle in the city parking lot the rest of the time. The trucks I mean, not the county bigwigs. Life in the American south being what it is, I felt it necessary to make that distinction.

In conclusion, ask not what roads your country can clear for you; ask what roads you can clear for your country.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It really doesn’t take much to make me happy.

In fact, here are 14 ways:

When you open your mouth to speak, say:

sub-siddy-ary, NOT sub-sidder-ary (for subsidiary)

puh-riffer-uhl, NOT puh-riffy-uhl (for peripheral)

in-sendy-ary, NOT in-sender-ary (for incendiary)

nu-klee-ar, NOT nu-queue-ler (for nuclear)

vak-you-um, NOT vak-yoom (for vacuum)

dye-uh-mund, NOT dye-mund (for diamond)

joo-uhl-ree, NOT jool-er-ee (for jewelry)

joo-uhl-er, NOT jool-er (for jeweler)

ree-uhl-tor, NOT real-uh-tor (for realtor)

ih-tal-yun, NOT eye-tal-yun (for Italian)

ear-ock, NOT eye-rack (for Iraq)

ear-ocky, NOT eye-racky (for Iraqi)

ear-ahn, NOT eye-ran (for Iran)

ear-onny-uhn, NOT eye-rainy-uhn (for Iranian)

There, that wouldn’t be so difficult, would it?

Or you could just include every one of those words in a comment. You wouldn’t even have to say them out loud.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A B C D goldfish? L M N O goldfish! O S A R...C M?

The end of the world is upon us.

This surprising story made the news yesterday on television stations hereabouts.

I am appalled. One teacher of English to Middle School students (ages 11 to 13) was actually heard to say that “students prefer to use printed block letters rather than the broad strokes that characterize cursive.”

Well, that settles it, then. Let’s give the little dears what they want. Let’s not even consider giving the little dears things they might need to function in society.

If they wanted to cavort in the nude at recess, would we let them? If they wanted to carry rifles and bayonets to school, would we let them? If they wanted to eat candy until their teeth rotted out, would we let them? If they wanted to set their school on fire, would we let them?

Unfortunately, some people exist who would probably answer every one of those questions in the affirmative.

That chart up there shows how cursive writing is taught in the U.S. these days. The style is called D’Nelian Script.

Back in my day, during the Dark Ages, we were taught the Palmer Method. Here is a demonstration, complete with Gregorian chant.

In the nineteenth century, people were taught to write in a style with more flourishes, toots, bells, and whistles called Spencerian Script. Sorry, no Gregorian chant this time.

And even earlier, people could write so as to be noticed. Here’s a famous autograph of one of those people:

The same students who are being told today that handwriting is unnecessary may be asking tomorrow, “Who was John Hancock and why should we care?”

This just in: The end of the world may not be upon us, but you can see it from here.

O S A B I C M 2....!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“There he goes again.” (Ronald Reagan, speaking of Jimmy Carter)

If the shoe fits, wear it.

I don’t know whether the rest of the world understands the utter distaste many, if not most, Americans experience seeing scenes like the one above, but bowing (and scraping) is not something the citizens of this country think the President of the United States should be doing. He bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He bowed to Emperor Akihito of Japan. Now he has been caught bowing once again, this time to the leader of the People’s Republic of China. Yeah, that’s what it’s called, as though the people had anything to do with it.

“But he’s just showing respect,” some will say. I say let him show respect some other way. A firm handshake ought to be enough.

If we truly believe, as our Declaration of Independence states, that all men (yes, and women too) are created equal, there is no reason for our elected leader to appear subservient to another country’s leader.

Not to Saudi Arabia’s. Not to Japan’s. Not to China’s. Not to anyone’s.

I’m not saying we’re above them. I’m just saying we’re not below them.

From my lips to God’s ears.

Monday, January 17, 2011

She may grow up to be the Queen of Femininity

This year’s Miss America Pageant, held last Saturday night in Las Vegas and carried live on ABC-TV, was so bad that this contestant not only won the talent portion of the competition but was also named Miss Congeniality.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding. That was actually Bette Davis singing “I’ve Written A Letter To Daddy” from the iconic film Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and I wonder, what is it about a film that makes people call it iconic? Joan Crawford was the first runner-up and won the wheelchair races hands down easily. Oops, no, sorry, I’m thinking of the Paralympic Games. Maybe the actresses were iconic and the movie was only a travesty.

For the record, I do think Miss Arkansas, a yodeling ventriloquist, was robbed. And since we’re asking questions (well, I was), what kind of stupid moron producer instructs the camera operator to take a close-up of THE MOUTHS OF THE DUMMIES? (and yes, I am shouting at this point.)

You should watch the final couple of minutes of the program just to hear Bert Parks sing “There She Is, Miss America!”

I’m pretty sure his song was pre-recorded, as Bert died in 1992. That may be why he mentions Atlantic City, which is in New Jersey, when the pageant has been held for several years now in Las Vegas, which is in Nevada. And setting aside the question of talent (Miss Nebraska's was so bad I’m not even going to torture you with it), do you see what I mean about Miss Arkansas?

I knew it was going to be a long night when the male host was from ABC’s The Bachelor, the female host (hostess?) was from ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, and one of the judges was Joy Behar from ABC’s The View.

As they used to say down in Texas, beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Better late than never

Last Saturday -- a whole week ago -- Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) would have been 75 years old, and nary a word about it did I hear. Must have been pre-empted by all the William and Kate specials.

One of the people in the preceding paragraph will be king, God willing, but one of them already was.

(Photographs by Mario Testino)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Have a gumball?

If you have one of these, you’ll chip a tooth. They ain’t gumballs, baby, they’re marbles, and not just any marbles, either. They’re part of a display called The Marble Wall at the Moon Marble Company, 600 East Front Street, Bonner Springs, Kansas 66012-1122, telephone 913-441-1432.

There are lots of things to do at the Moon Marble Company. You can take a guided tour:

or visit the Moon Marble Museum:

You can play marbles (but only if you’re a Cub Scout...

...or an Amish girl):

You can even see a fascinating marble-making or marble-sorting or marble-something-or-other demonstration (but only if you are Chinese):

You’ll have loads and loads of fun!

Then, if you need to, you can visit the Moon Marble Museum Bathroom:

I think my temporary obsession with marbles has now ended, not that I have obsessions or anything like that.

Bonner Springs, Kansas, is also home to the Agriculture Hall of Fame:

Coordinates: 39°4′0″N 94°52′45″W

I believe I will have a gumball, after all.

Thank you for asking....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

That Live Traffic Feed thingy over there in the other column -- not me, silly, further down --

...has gone berserk, or whatever the inanimate object equivalent of berserk is. Kablooey, maybe. For over a week now, almost every visitor to this blog has been shown as going to a single post of mine called “And now, for a complete change of pace, here’s...” which I put together back on September 13,2010. It contained a video that is six minutes, 55 seconds long in which a woman named Gladys Hardy in Austin, Texas, talks to comedian Ellen DeGeneres on the telephone. It also contained a photograph of Alfalfa, the child actor, and one of alfalfa, the plant, the reasons for which became clear only to those who actually watched the six-minute, 55-second-long video of the woman named Gladys Hardy in Austin, Texas, talking to comedian Ellen DeGeneres on the telephone. I was just trying to be helpful.

I think Feedjit’s Live Traffic Feed thingy has finally lost its marbles.

If any of you think I have lost my marbles, however, you have another think coming.

Just click here and you’ll see. They’re all present and accounted for.

And if you look closely, you may find some of Gladys Hardy’s marbles in there, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The tragedy in Tucson -- another perspective

Here is a column by Dr. Scot McKnight that is well worth reading, as are the comments that follow it. Dr. McKnight is a professor at North Park University, a Christian institution of higher learning (I know some of my readers think that is an oxymoron) in Illinois.

I am reminded of a twist on an old saying: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you obviously don’t understand the problem.” Dr. Scot McKnight both keeps his head and understands the problem.

The humorous twist is a distortion of the beginning of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Here’s the original in its entirety:

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And -- which is more -- you’ll be a Man, my son!

(End of poem)

In spite of the quaintness of this more-than-a-century-old poem and its unfortunate gender-specific ending, there’s something about that poem that speaks to our common human condition. It encourages us to have the kind of world in which I grew up, the kind that no longer seems to exist, the kind in which shootings like the one in Tucson, now all too common, didn’t happen because individuals were taught to live their lives with integrity. According to Wikipedia, the well-known Indian historian and writer Khushwant Singh has said that Kipling’s poem is “the essence of the message of The Gita in English.” The text to which Singh refers is the ancient Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner has never read much of anything worthwhile, let alone either the poems of Rudyard Kipling or the Bhagavad Gita.

Here’s an old, old joke, one that a man named Donald McGill put on a postcard long ago and sold over 6,000,000 copies:

Boy: “Do you like Kipling?”
Girl: “I don’t know, you naughty boy; I’ve never Kippled.”

I try to have a serious blog, really I do, but it seems it is not to be.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smile when you say that, pardner, or it may be wet noodles at 30 paces at dawn....

I am indebted to two individuals for the data in the quiz in the previous post. The statements of President Barack Obama arrived in an email from my 80-something-year-old neighbor, Rube (his real name; it isn’t short for Reuben or anything else). I don’t know where he found them, but I know they are true because I remember hearing the president make them when he made them. The statements of President George W. Bush were compiled by a woman named Sarah Baxter and published in a copyrighted article in The Sunday Times of January 18, 2009.

Okay, here are the answers to the little quiz:

Statements #1 through #10 were uttered by Barack Obama; statements #11 through #30 were uttered by George W. Bush. I purposely didn’t intersperse them because I thought you would think I had [interspersed them] and so I figured that if I didn’t [intersperse them] it would make the game even more fun (translation: difficult) for you.

In a comment, Yorkshire Pudding added another of President Bush’s statements: “Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?” Good one, YP!

Lord Pudding then implied -- no, he said -- that by including gaffes of both presidents I was participating in the vilification of Barack Obama. I quote from his comment: “Mr. Obama is a far more intelligent man and a more natural orator than George W. Bush ever was. Your amusing quiz puts them on a par - as if they were equally prone to gaffes. That isn’t the case. It is so sad to see, from afar, the vilification of Barack Obama.”

The juxtaposition of those particular sentences is, I think, no accident.

I think Lord Pudding is participating in the vilification of anyone who would even dare to suggest that Mr. Obama is anything less than perfect, a saint, the Savior of the world. Moreover, I think that Lord Pudding’s remarks are a perfect example of the intolerance of the liberal mind toward any but its own thoughts.

Well, I do not want to get into a war of words with Lord Pudding about Barack Obama or anyone else because both of them are world travelers and little old moi has been in only 8 countries and 33 of the 57 states, which is neither here nor there, but if Lord Pudding wants to get into a war of words with me he has -- how shall I put it in a way everyone can understand? -- completely misunderestimated me.

Before Lord Pudding fires off another salvo in my direction, I would like to see him try to diagram the previous sentence.

[P.S. - Did you ever notice that in today’s climate of political correctness it’s absolutely okay to critize people on the right but people on the left, free speech notwithstanding, are supposed to be spared such an atrocity? Well, I for one didn’t care for either Hitler on the right or Stalin on the left. Come to think of it, to believe that fascism is on the right and communism is on the left is to believe that the earth is flat. I have news: the world is round, and tyranny of both extremes eventually meet. And that statement has nothing to do with either Barack Obama or George W. Bush; I just think it needs saying from time to time. --RWP]

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I refudiate the notion that I can’t spell potatoe, or why teleprompters can sometimes be a plus

Politicians, who are human after all, say really dumb things occasionally. Okay, maybe more than occasionally. But we all do. The only difference between us and them is that their mistakes are heard by great numbers of people and then published far and wide.
In fact, the title of this post includes two well-known examples, one by Sarah Palin (former governor of Alaska) and one by Dan Quayle (former Vice President under George Herbert Walker Bush).

My theory when people get their tangs all tongueled up is simple: their tongues have gotten in the way of their eye teeth and they can’t see what they’re saying.

Here are 30 examples of rather odd statements made in public by the last two presidents of the United States. So who said the following, Barack Obama or George W. Bush?

1) “Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

2) “I’ve now been in 57 states I think I have one left to go.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

3) “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes and I see many of them in the audience here today...”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

4) “What they’ll say is, ‘Well it costs too much money,’ but you know what? It would cost, about. It it it would cost about the same as what we would spend. It. Over the course of 10 years it would cost what it would costs us. [nervous laugh] All right. Okay. We’re going to. It. It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about hold on one second. I can’t hear myself. But I’m glad you're fired up, though. I’m glad.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

5) “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

6) “I bowled a 129. It’s like -- it was like the Special Olympics, or something.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

7) “Of the many responsibilities granted to a president by our Constitution, few are more serious or more consequential than selecting a Supreme Court justice. The members of our highest court are granted life tenure, often serving long after the presidents who appointed them. And they are charged with the vital task of applying principles put to paper more than 20 centuries ago to some of the most difficult questions of our time.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

8) “Everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma, they end up taking up a hospital bed, it costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early and they got some treatment, and a, a breathalyzer, or inhalator, not a breathalyzer. I haven’t had much sleep in the last 48 hours.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

9) “It was interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not different from the United States Senate. There’s a lot of I don’t know what the term is in Austrian wheeling and dealing.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

10) “I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

11) “Will the highways on the internet become more few?”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

12) “It’s a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

13) “I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

14) “I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

15) “We’re concerned about Aids inside our White House -- make no mistake about it.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

16) “I’m honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

17) “I’ve coined new words, like ‘misunderstanding’.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

18) “I recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

19) “It’s in our country’s interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm’s way.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

20) “One year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

21) “I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

22) “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

23) “I don’t particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

24) “[The Taliban] have no disregard for human life.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

25) “When the governor calls, I answer his phone.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

26) “Those who enter the country illegally violate the law.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

27) “I think we agree, the past is over.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

28) “America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalien alienable right of life.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

29) “My job is a decision-making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

30) “One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.”

A. Barack Obama
B. George W. Bush

[End of quiz]

What do you think? Every one of the 30 statements is genuine. How many A’s and how many B’s did you wind up with?

I will divulge the answers in my next post.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just when you think you’ve heard it all

...along comes The Homeless Man With The Golden Voice.

This sort of heartwarming story -- there have already been more than 15,000 comments on the original article, and the video itself has gone viral on the internet -- usually comes along just before Christmas, sending me into a “We’re just being manipulated by the media so that we can feel all warm and fuzzy about ourselves at Christmas before we go back to ignoring people in need during the rest of the year” rant, but this story waited to surface until the first week of January.

Somehow I don’t feel like ranting as much in January. Perhaps this year the “peace on earth, good will to men” message of the Christmas season actually penetrated my subconscious. Better yet, perhaps it has a residual effect that can never be displaced.

Come to think of it, I didn’t even go through my usual “Bah, humbug!” phase in December.

I must be slipping.

P.S. - The man in the video has a name: Ted Williams (not the famous major-league baseball player who died at the age of 83 in 2002 but whose body his children have had frozen in case he can be revived one day; another Ted Williams. I don’t really know how much demand there will be in the major leagues of the future for a revived formerly 83-year-old player, but then I don’t follow sports all that closely).

Here’s Ted Williams the baseball player in his pre-frozen days:

P.P.S. - Actually, in churches that observe the liturgical year, most of December is known as Advent. Christmas starts on December 25th and lasts twelve days, until the Epiphany on January 6th. And if you are a member of an Eastern Orthodox community, you celebrate Christmas on January 6th anyway because of differences in the Eastern and Western calendars.

Hey, no wonder this story of the other Ted Williams has such a Christmas feel to it. Today is January 6th! It’s still Christmas!

There’s still time for my rant, after all.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Before we get very far into 2011 we should review 2010

...and who better to do it than the one, the only, America's own spot-on, hit-'em-in-the solar-plexus humo(u)r columnist, Dave Barry!

(Actually, I thought Dave Barry died a couple of years back, but apparently I was misinformed. Either that or he phoned in the above review of 2010 from The Great Newsroom In The Sky.)


Saturday, January 1, 2011

A new year, a clean slate

Really? I don’t think so.

Let me explain.

Change doesn’t happen just because someone hung a new calendar on your kitchen wall. What I’m trying to say and saying badly is this: If your life was going down the tubes on December 31st, 2010, it will probably still be going down the tubes on January 1st, 2011.

You are the same person you were yesterday, and so am I (the same person I was yesterday, not the same person you were yesterday), except that each of us is another day older (but not, it is hoped, as Tennessee Ernie Ford used to sing, deeper in debt). The Roman god Janus, after whom January is named, is most often depicted as having two heads, facing opposite directions, one head looking back at the last year and the other looking forward to the new, seeing into the future and the past simultaneously. So what?

Older is not necessarily wiser. There’s no fool like an old fool, as the saying goes, the implication being that one ought to learn from experience, and if one doesn’t, one is all the more pathetic in the eyes of one’s community. Stupid is as stupid does, said that great philosopher, Forrest Gump. Wisdom doesn’t come with age. Wisdom comes from knowing when to throw in the towel and give up entirely.


It does no good to try to turn over a new leaf. Lifting oneself by one’s own bootstraps is usually an exercise in futility. It never works, or if it seems to work, the effect is only temporary. What we really need is a new life. And we can have one at any time.

Let me quote from St. Paul here: If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (Second Corinthians 5:13-17)

You don’t get a clean slate by trying to change yourself from the outside in. You get one by letting Someone Else change you from the inside out.

Not just once. Every single day.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...