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Alex Baer

Faith, Hope, and That Itchy Sensation

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It's been a restless winter.  Our dogs move around from one of their beds to another, and rotate spots on the floor in an ambling, nomadic waltz.  The ants have been especially antsy here this year, leaking out of the ancient, pseudo-farmhouse woodwork in streams, eddies, vortices, miniature maelstroms -- a bumper crop of biblical proportions.

The two humans residing here travel back and forth unpredictably, errant with errands, steeped in to-do lists, turned to and fro by daily tidal forces, triggered by a general twitchiness, tuned to some facial-tic-producing frequency just outside the range of hearing.

When not under the spell of whatever it is that might be working on us, we sometimes ask ourselves about the nature of the possible and probable propellants involved in our fidgeting.  No answers so far.

We keep coming up with a general "hookanno" -- our shorthand for "who can know?"  We say it like "Winnebago," which is HOO-kan-no.  We sound like hoot owls, muttering in the loose, eternal wake of our room-to-room search, hunting for reasons why we might be here, on this planet, just as much as why we might be here, in this particular room.  Both are tricks of memory, I am convinced, one easier to resolve than the other.  I forget which is which.

Our house is old.  It has sections tacked on here and there.  It is growth by afterthought rather than by planning and forethought.  It was built a little at a time, by a hobbyist with more good intentions than good skills.  If Euclid lived here, he would have flat gone insane before his furniture was moved in and arranged.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 February 2014 17:38 Read more...

Dinosaurs, Cello Loops, and the Avalanche of Awe

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There's a certain, spectacular wonderfulness that comes from being ambushed by Beauty.  The experience can be disorienting, dazzling, dazing, delightful.  It can be stealthy and breath-taking, shorting your oxygen before you realize you're no longer continuing that familiar ebb and flow of air in and air out.

Remembering to breathe is the thing, when bushwhacked by Beauty.

It could be I am just out of practice and easily ambushed these days.  That's a possibility.  My circle of travels has been slight for the last year or so.  I have worn pairs of ruts into the roads between home and hospital, and permanently scuffed and squeaked my rubber-soled footfalls on the waxed and buffed tiles of antiseptic hallways.

My guard was down.  And, yeah, it's been a while since anything whacked me upside the head, leaving flickering lights and multicolored whirligigs exploding overhead -- like a cartoon character magically smitten with the blinding high-beams of romantic attraction, all stars-and-planets overhead.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 February 2014 22:30 Read more...

Pop Goes Another Resolution

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A case might be made that January is named after the various American demigods of tax calculation computer programs, weight-loss schemes, resolution daydreams, and instant makeovers of home, family, friends, wardrobes, exercise equipment, cars, relationships -- you name it.

All it takes is a little champagne and the turn of a calendar page:  Presto, there goes another resolution.  One year gone, here comes another.  Up one minute, out the next.  Now you see it, now you don't.  It's the ultimate in on-demand convenience, good intentions, and the sort of regretful, pawing, nagging lapsed morality we've perfected hereabouts -- a real natural for Life in These Here Benighted, You-nited States.

Somewhere in here, in January's brittle fidgeting, is also the routine recategorizing of accepted presents from the joyful and effervescent into the ho-hum, yawning tedium of regiftable status.  Here are stored captured holiday items once received with smiles, originally swathed in shiny paper, and are now framed with flat-lined lips and are swaddled in odious, future benevolence and stale, self-centered philanthropy to come.

January also means laughing at, and cheering on, gargantuan gladiators who bash each others brains out.  It's a fine, high-spirited return to the Colosseum, where the display of a certain thumb toward the battlefield, from a cushioned throne, meant swift and instant death.

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 January 2014 21:45 Read more...

Chilblains, Resolutions, and Head Muscle Exercises

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A new year, and already there's all sorts of bad habits being dragged right into the middle of things.  Again.  Talk about chilblains and the winter of discontent...

For example, resolutions or no, there's the expectation that things make sense every once in a while, if only to keep the Universe somewhat honest, and to keep exercising the head muscles, too, in the rare event something comes along requiring any brain power.

This is like insisting on a periodic win in 3-Card Monte, I know.  It's a hard habit to break, having the expectations of logic, fairness, meaning...

But, every year, there's Realitus Interruptus Annoyus, in which pesky facts emerge that drag yards and scads of mud and muck across that nice, clean floor of my mind.  So much for the nice, clean slate provided by those first few arbitrary, and always promising, seconds of the New Year, too.

But, like crash-dieters crossing their fingers and booking themselves on a cheese-and-chocolate factory tour regardless,  I bought a couple of lottery tickets anyway -- even though I know the chances of winning are in the odds ballpark of getting blasted by lightning, while in a phone booth, while it plummets off a bridge at mid-span, to the arms of a flying, superhero wallaby, or some such.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 January 2014 19:58 Read more...

Santa, Fox News, and the Pope Walk Into a Bar...

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Time, like year-end commentaries, are convenient constructions to help us make sense of our lives.  In the great scheme of things -- or, in The Great Scheme of Things, as you prefer -- both make little difference.  It's not that they don't matter;  they do.  Both require great patience to endure, and both direct our wooly thoughts here and there, willy-nilly.

Distractions explode, pop, and stutter in the mind.  This is especially true if, like me, your concentration and mental discipline are not what they once were.  Digesting a few recent tidbits in the news has proven tougher on my stomach than freeze-dried ostrich or owl jerky.

For example:  In the last week, via media reports, I've bumped into various aspects of God, Santa Claus, Fox News, Albert Einstein, and Pope Francis.  In a move displaying little to no apparent evolutionary advantage, my mind insists on turning these random exposures into patterns -- in this case, jokes of the sort which always begin with a long, convoluted list of people and animals all walking into a bar...

* * * * *

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 December 2013 20:27 Read more...

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