Friday, December 23, 2005

Career Choices

So I'm standing in line at the bank,
looking around at the lobby.
And I see myself sitting at one of those desks.
Working here.
Knowing I've got only seventeen years until retirement.
But nevertheless,
coming in every day.
Hoping that today is the day
when I'll get taken hostage.
Because even if I end up getting shot
several times at close range,
and dropped out of the car for dead,
Because even if I am dead,
it would be better than being here
sitting at that desk,
looking at the people standing in line,
knowing that they're going to walk out of here,
and don't ever have to come back.
People like me.
But then,
I don't work here.
I work somewhere else.

What if...

What if the Magi, you know, the Wise Men...those three guys who followed the star to the Nativity? Those three ceramic guys who you always place in the manger scene every year when you put out your Christmas decorations? The ones who obviously aren't the baby Jesus or Mary, but I'll be damned if I know which of the remaining four is supposed to be Joseph? Still lost? Then read your damn Bible. For Christ's sake! You'd at least think that one of you damned Christians would have actually read your f***ing Bible.

Please ignore that previous paragraph. What if, instead of bringing frankincense, gold, and myrrh (ring a bell now?), the Wise Men would've brought a Playboy (or Playgirl, or Blue Boy -- your call), Doritos, and a twelve pack, or maybe some really fine...but I digress. And maybe if one of them would have muttered, "Now this is really nice! Sitting around with people I love, eating, just slightly buzzed...this is great! I hope nobody ever f***s this up with shopping malls..." Wow. Sure beats hell out of what we've got now.

Do you suppose if the only thing that everybody asked Santa for Christmas were for him to go away, that he would? But then, what would we do with all of them damned elves? Maybe we could build a wall on our northern border, too, to keep them out.

And this all leads to...

The Conspiracy of the Week!

Back when I was young, there were no shopping malls. There weren't any cell phones, either. It was chaos. People were dying senselessly. They had to revert to cannibalism because they couldn't phone out for a pizza. When their cars broke down they actually had to walk. It was pure insanity. But I digress... Where was I? Oh yeah, shopping malls.

I remember Christmas when I was a kid. I got an orange, a shiny new penny, and a sock puppet for Christmas. That was when I was four. And those things were expected to last. The next time I got anything for Christmas was when I was twelve. But I loved that sock puppet. I didn't even mind only having to wear one sock with my shoes.

But you see, the thing is, I didn't know the difference. Everybody got the same thing for Christmas. Oh, sure, there were the rich kids at school who got a shiny new nickel, but we weren't even allowed to talk to them in school, so it really made no difference. And we were happy. We'd get up on Christmas morning, peel our orange, and enjoy each other's company for the rest of the day, or at least until Uncle Ralph came over. But that's another story.

Hell, back then we didn't even call it Christmas. We called it Xmas.

But then came the shopping malls. This idea that all these stores could be grouped together, selling absolute shit that nobody, nobody actually needed. And nobody really wanted. (hey, it's my conspiracy, I'll use fragments if I want) The dream was that these malls would be packed with people all frantically trying to find the perfect gift for somebody they really didn't like, all for under $10 (either the gift or the person, makes no difference). Predictably, these malls were a flop. So instead of turning them into Junior Colleges, which historically don't turn a good profit margin, the developers had to find some way to drum up business. Enter Xmas.

What if...what if people could be convinced that God, that Jesus, that even Mary, Joseph, and the stupid ass that they were so fond of (that's a donkey, for those of you who thought I was just slipping in another dirty word) -- what if all these guys actually wanted us to buy all this useless shit (now that's a dirty word), all in the name of God? What if they could convince people that they (the people) would only be happy giving and receiving all of this useless crap? (not officially dirty, but mildly offensive just the same) That people -- you and me and that guy over there by the latté machine -- the target audience -- will actually feel guilty if we don't give stuff to people we really don't know, and truly don't like? That it is better to go in debt than to go without? You know...Christmas.

Case in point: Quickly! What did you get for Christmas last year? I thought so. Couldn't even think of one present, could you? Even more pathetic: Quickly! Name a gift, any gift, that you gave to anybody else. Now there's the true spirit of the season.

But see, it worked! Here's the deal: Christmas (at least the Christmas we've all come to know and love) was invented by retail marketers. It was all concocted for no other reason than to sell stuff, all in the name of God. And we bought it. More importantly, we continue to buy it. Boy, howdy, do we buy it. But it's not too late. We're not too far gone. We can break the cycle! Do it! Get up right now! Go get a hammer! Go out to the garage! And beat the living hell out of your bicycle! Don't worry. It's OK. You can ask for a new one for Christmas. And if you've been good, you might actually get it. Karma-mas.

Comon, folks! Let's put the Mas back in Xmas! More X!

(My editor thought that I should explain that "mas," in Spanish, means "more." But I said, "Screw 'em. If they can't speak Spanish, they need to climb back over the wall." Then my editor reminded me that I really don't have an editor.)

Which all leads to the following poem, which could be about editors, or Christmas, or Karma, or just an afternoon in suburbia...

View from a Recliner

A bottle of bourbon and a handgun
are waiting for me
on top of my television set

They hypnotize me
I can't turn my eyes away

like a rabbit
frozen in the stare
of a patient snake

And I know
believe me, I know
It's just a matter of time

before I finally convince myself
that the taste of metal and oil
would be better than bourbon

But still I hesitate
maybe for no other reason
than not to leave the TV alone

but in the end
no matter how long I wait -- I know
it really won't make any difference at all

Monday, December 19, 2005

Thought for the Every Once in A While

The only people who are certain to be wrong, are those who are certain that they are right.

The Sun is Always Shining Somewhere

If your car won't start,
if you've got an aching heart,
if your dog ran off in the rain...
If there's bills to pay,
and your money's gone away
just remember, the sun will shine again.

So don't let a frown
cross your face,
'cause the sun is always
shining some place,
maybe not here,
but darlin' somewhere.
The sun is always shining somewhere.
Not here,
but the sun is always shining somewhere.

If your house burnt down,
and your family just drown,
if they found a tumor on your brain...
When you're bleeding to death
and you're taking your last breath,
you can still see the sun shine through the rain.

When things don't go well,
when you're burning down in hell,
when no joy that you know remains...
Put a smile on your face,
and remember that some place
there's no sorrow, no clouds, and there's no pain.