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Alex Baer

A Little Something Under the Ol' Electron Tree

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All I want for Christmas -- now that I have a range of functional teeth up front -- is a memory that's not a sieve.  There's always some body part deserving of its own song as one ages, I suppose, and as the meaty vehicle we all find ourselves traveling in as humans starts to slowly unwind, hiccup, and fade.

However, this year, and every year, there are many other things I'd like to see slipped under the tree -- and under the radar of watchful and disapproving conservative forces.  Contrary to wistful bumper stickers and erstwhile, old-fashioned sentiments, I'd like more than a helping of whirled peas, please.

A little basic economic fairness, say, from the money-go-rounders would be a nice holiday touch.  A giant scoop would be even better, but I dare not wish for such miracles -- not even from the Christianity-espousing moneylenders long since seeped into the temples of our democratic discourse.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 11:53 Read more...

Thankful for Being Able to Be Grateful for Gratitude

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Yesterday was the official day of handing out our thanks to anyone who would listen.  With luck, we not only thought about doing that, but actually did so.  Out loud.  And, with even more luck, we also had some takers, in between thunderclaps of footballer collisions from our Big Scream teevees, and the assorted sonic booms of industry and inventiveness erupting from kitchen and guests.

You might have even been so lucky as to have been heard above the acoustic carnage of the day, and, luckier still, to have received knowing, thoughtful, insightful, and sincere replies along the same lines.

I mean, I can wish that such becalmed seas ferried you along softly and sweetly yesterday, and in the golden photographer's light of dawn or dusk, all the while sipping a profoundly satisfying adult entertainment beverage, but the odds are pretty much against it, I'd imagine -- like hoping Aunt Smelda would please, please forget to bring over her famous Jell-O mold, with odd bits of things suspended in the gelatin (some identifiable and mostly edible, others of a baffling, mysterious origin) like a forgetful, absent-minded cook's version of bugs trapped in amber.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 November 2013 23:07 Read more...

Vultures, Twinkies, and the Way of Nature

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It's possible to chew on things longer than is good for you.  At some point, those bones of contention getting all that Gnawing Attention start redirecting activity back upon the chewer.  It's been that way, and for some time now, on Twinkies.

The way I've been worrying around Twinkies in the back of my mind for the last 12 months, you'd think it was some sort of national emergency or imperative that I'd somehow, inexplicably, been put in charge of.  Although I'm not in charge of anything much these days, I have to say in the same breath that I'm not sure that this isn't some sort of national emergency at that.

This mental hand-wringing may only appear to be about Twinkies, but it's also about vultures (human and bird), and about Nature -- the ways of our cutthroat economic system, the nature and expression of human greed, and the nature of a general failure by the public to Pay Attention to Facts and Warning Signs.

If you felt a burst of psychic energy and clairvoyance, you could also add in there my being preoccupied something fierce about An Ongoing Desire to Act Against Our Own Best Interests as Individuals, and you wouldn't be wrong.

See, the system is rigged, and I've been trying to come up with a way to un-rig it.  But, like punch-drunk prizefighters who have been hammered and blasted for too many rounds without a break, we're on the ropes, all of us, gasping, while the referees are on their mobiles, Twittering, Tweeting, Facebooking, FacePlanting, following each other around and around, in tighter and more incestuous circles, stalkers and stalkees...

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 November 2013 21:30 Read more...

Hot new trend: Home-Made Straitjackets

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A clear theme has emerged in news magazines during the last few years and keeps getting stronger all the time, especially in the last few weeks:  The country is conducting its business on the basis of how much Crazy we can scrape together at any given time.

This is very bad news for the country but somewhat more acceptable news for me personally because, for a second there, I thought it was just me.

See, some time ago my own life slipped on a Canvas Camisole it has still not figured out how to shed.  It will take some time to undo this thing.  I am no Houdini.  Even a right-off-the-rack straitjacket offers me a tight fit -- and tight fits.

(Sidebar:  Perhaps this is where the expression, "dire straits" comes from.  I mean, I can see where dire situations might drive people into dire-straitjackets.  In any case, whether steely-eyed and sober, or barking-mad Looney Tunes, high as a weather balloon, I highly recommend the music of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, jacket or no.)

For examples, you needn't look any further than the ongoing budget madness in the seat of our national government -- a seat I would relish paddling and/or kicking in a burst of absent self-restraint.

I defy anyone to use the words "sane" and "rational" to accurately describe the proceedings on Capitol Hill, a site that could really use a vast influx of canvas camisoles.  First, there was the slack-jawed disconnect of repeated attempts by our representatives to kill off a plan that only wanted to bring a scant, introductory level of medical wellness to their constituents.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 23:34 Read more...

Life, Death, and Other Mindsets

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You're never too old to read a love letter.  It's not embarrassing, either.  It's downright invigorating.  Even at my age.  Or yours.

Age is just a state of mind, anyway.  In a year that's been filled with keen reminders of just how tenuous this whole business of breathing and remaining upright really is, Mark Twain comes unshakably to mind:  "Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I'm not usually so accepting of such homilies and bromides, especially the ones bordering on such blind, positive-thinking alleyways and perky, overly-caffeinated boulevards -- but there you go.  The effects of reading last night's love letter, I suspect.

The love letter was called Young Frankenstein, first rolled out on its electrical scroll, way back in the Dark Ages (as some would say) of 1974.  Hard to believe almost four decades has slipped through consciousness since, the years as easy to misplace as handfuls of lake fog gathered just before dawn.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 14:57 Read more...

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