Thursday, April 29, 2010

Deferential to the end

It seems literacy rates are falling. It may be tragic from a societal stand point, but for me it is not happening fast enough.

A lot of our citizens can still read which is good for people who write books, blogs and graffiti. When they read they are critically evaluating the subject matter, determining if any of the content applies to them; how they might use the newly acquired knowledge to further the interests of mankind and improve their own lives. Of course this may not strictly apply when people are reading Twilight or The Vampire Lestat. Then there are all of those things published on all of those websites about the lives of the rich and famous. That really is not serious reading. And a lot of the ‘news’ we get now is simply advertising for new products, movies and assorted pieces of drivel, thanks to the infotainment reporting industry. There is a lot of good stuff out there to read and people seem to be reading it, sharpening their skills and their minds.

The real problems starts when we, the blog writers of the world, astute observers of life and the human condition, start to express ourselves about things going on around us. Let’s face it, people do things. Sometimes they do silly things, really silly things. And sometimes those people are within my own sphere of existence.

When I witness one of those incidents it becomes fodder for my own writing, which is where the ethical dilemma starts. Do I relate the tales of my own in-laws and friends misdoings risking family discord? Do I just tell it like it is and let the truth stand as my shield? Will misdirection work or can they still see themselves in my prose?

It is people and the things they do that provide so much of the comedy in the world, at least the funny stuff. Too many of these people can read. Even those who can’t read have internet access and seem to be able to recognize themselves in the stories of mayhem and ribaldry that are such an essential part of so many blogs.

From a writer’s perspective petty judgmental drivel can be very satisfying to produce. And we already know how tasty it is to consume.

The reality is that most of the people I might offend will never read this blog, not because of their own deficiencies, but simply because my work does not stand beside the works of Jonathon Swift, Moliere or Oscar Wilde. So I will refrain, take he high moral ground and confine myself to uncontroversial material.

That should keep my wife happy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A life’s legacy

I recently had the opportunity to consider what I might do if I won the lottery; I was awake, staring at a computer screen and trying to work. What would I do if I had been able to match all the numbers and win $13,000,000.00? Sure there are all the usual promises, making sure my son has funding for his education (to show I am family minded), buying a new but modest car (to show I can enjoy my riches without flaunting it), and giving to charity (to show I am generous of spirit).

So now that I have shown the world what I would like it to think of me, how would I really like to spend the money? I don’t want to blow all of it of course because I do genuinely want to take care of myself, but I would like to use some of it to indulge some of my desires.

This is about thinking inside the box, deep inside the box where the dark resides. This is about indulging that part of you placated by eating buckets of ice cream, giving the finger to old men in Buicks, and wishing the neighbour’s cat would cross the road in front of your car just as you take your eyes off the road.

This is about revenge. Not the hiring a hit man kind of revenge. Too many problems to deal with, like prosecution. This needs to come from where we live, to answer what has scarred us for life. This involves money. Do you really want to give your money away to people who don’t deserve it? People you don’t like? Relatives?

Does your brother really need a hand out of a couple million of your dollars? If by his thirties he can’t figure out how birth control works then maybe he should be forced to understand how maintenance enforcement can improve his life.

Does your sister-in-law think that drinking cheap red wine and playing on-line poker all day really constitutes life experience? Let her fund her lifestyle from her winnings.

And what about that girl you loved in high school? You know the one; you almost asked her out but instead she went to the dance with that long haired creep with the cool car. What would you like to do to her life?

If you dig deeply into your life, into your past, you can come up with so many people who have earned your enmity. Dangle the money in front of friends and snatch it from their grasp. Flaunt your wealth in front of family members who have nothing. Why should they enjoy the fruits of your labours? Let them earn their own way in life. Pull themselves up by their own boot straps. That will teach them to wear flip-flops.

If we have learned anything from reality television, it is that money means nothing without fame or power. In the end isn’t power just the opportunity to control someone else’s life? Right?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The ethical significance of broccoli

Easter, a time to sit back and reflect, review. No, that is New Years, or maybe Halloween. Easter is a time for chocolate. Some people like to drench the long weekend with all sorts of religious significance. That’s fine if you are a Christian and religious. I am not. Conjuring tricks are best left to conjurers.

I have a toddler, TroubleMaker. He isn’t mine in the sense of chattel, like a car or wife, but still he is mine and controls almost every aspect of my life now. Having a toddler around the lets you learn about the priorities in a toddler’s life, in case you had any doubts or never get to see reruns of Dr. Phil. Some people will try to tell you small children’s prime motivators consist of anything that falls into the category of immediate self gratification.

Of course this becomes so obviously false when you are caught doing anything that might be considered embarrassing, like using the toilet, being naked or surreptitiously sneaking macaroons while Mom was supposed to have him otherwise occupied. At that moment their curiosity takes over, becomes the most powerful force in their lives and they ask questions and look for explanations that make your soul wither. You understand societal standards. You know shame. You don’t know why you do, but you do! All that time I spent telling myself I would deal with his need to explore in an educational manner is now out the window because there have to be people around when Troublemaker decides to ask his questions. Mostly his questions consist of pointing and asking ‘Whaz zat?’ Over and over and over.

A healthy toddler only spends part of their time in exploration of your fears and humiliations. Another portion their time is spent in trying your patience.

During Easter however, pleasure in the form of chocolate becomes the child’s life. It is something to eat, to crash from, to end each meal and start the next then fill in those dull periods between meals. It the substance doled out in great quantity by grandmothers, aunts, cousins and Easter Bunnies. And it is the thing TroubleMaker seeks. ‘NO NAP!’ Indeed, his internal clock is set to Chocolate. ‘NO POOPIE!’ No, he just wants to load up the other end with Chocolate. ‘NO TEATS!’ Wait, screwed that one up, he does want treats, Chocolate.

This is Easter in our house. Tomorrow is another day, a day when we will try to break his addiction to that sweet dark confection. In the mean time, CHOCOLATE!