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Alex Baer

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...

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...

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