August 31, 2007

I Wish I Way, I Wish I might…

Category: Life — Cranky @

I wish that vegetables tasted like steak. I’d eat enough vegetables then.

I wish that our hair would grow thicker and more luxurious right until death. At the funeral, people would say, “Look at that wonderful head of hair!”

I wish that I had the master controls for the weather planet-wide. It would be 29 Celcius on all of the beaches, -12 on the ski slopes,  20 degrees nearly everywhere else, and -40 on the golf courses. Golf is stupid.

I wish that the only computers that didn’t work perfectly were the ones that keep me employed.

I wish Greenpeace and PETA would stop making themselves look like idiots. The decency of their ideas is lost in the stupidity of implementation.

I wish I always knew when to hold them, when to fold them, when to walk away, and when to run. Life would be so much simpler.

I wish that our lives could revolve around the things we are best at. Unfortunately nobody wants to hire a “navel-lint architect”.

I wish cats weren’t so darned stupid.

I wish sports cars got 10,000 miles per gallon, and dinky hybrids got 3.

I wish that true music appreciators and musicians weren’t the first to lose their hearing.

I wish that God, if he exists, would poke his head out of the clouds, say “HELLO!” to everyone, everywhere, and then vanish again.


August 29, 2007

Have You Got a Moment?

Category: Life — Cranky @

When a painter paints on canvas, a work of art is created in three dimensions. The canvas has two dimensions, and layers of paint create the third. When it’s complete, the painting can be viewed for a very long time into the future, provided it is carefully kept. Time is not really involved in the experience of that art, except for a brief sense of history.

When a writer creates a work of literature, a painting of words is made, but time governs it. You cannot begin in the middle of the work and expect it to make sense. You must follow the path that the writer has outlined, and time is the measure of the experience. Sentences only make sense in one direction, and plot twists are revealed only when the writer intends for them to do so.

When a musician plays an instrument, the arrangement of notes that emerge are immediately and irrevocably lost to the past. As time moves inexorably forward, you cannot reach back and retrieve them. It is your memory of the notes that were lost ever so recently that allows you to experience a song. After all, single notes are not music. Taken without the context of those that surround it, the notes experienced in the instant we call “the present” would mean nothing.

Notes only make sense, and create beauty, when experienced sequentially over the passage of time. Sometimes we record music, and as we play it back, those moments, too, are lost. Time is integral to the experience.

Tonight I was playing guitar. It was a piece of music that had its origin in the home of my cousin and his family during the week my grandmother passed away. I had been playing a tiny guitar made to inspire a toddler. Despite its size, it played true. I discovered a rhythm that stayed with me, and this past week I flushed it out.

As I played it tonight, I realized that the time that was slipping by was not so much “lost” as it was “finished”. What I had chosen to do with those moments was fixed in history, even if I couldn’t go back to them. In that brief period of time, forever realized was the music that I had played – I had written that music onto the canvas of time in permanent ink. I consider those moments well spent.

All over the world artists stamp that fickle moment we call “the present” with their vision, whether it be beautiful or terrifying. People do the same with their relationships, their actions (good or bad) and their words. What history we write is up to us. Do we want to leave a trail of singing, or of cursing?

We can never really revisit the past, but I think I would prefer to be proud of the vast canvas of my life that stretches back to my birth. There are parts that I would not look to closely at, but viewed from afar I hope it is a work of beauty. My choices can make it so.


August 23, 2007

Extra! Extra! Cranky Predicts the Death of Newsprint!

Category: Social — Cranky @

As I walked to work this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that there is yet another daily newspaper available on the streets. Like the two most recent ones, this one is free of charge. Consequently, it is not very large. This paper is called “Rush Hour”, and it competes with “24” and “Metro”, both of which are also free. All three are supported solely by advertising. The venerable old-timers, the “Sun” and the “Journal” are still there as well, and they are far more formidable and thorough, but they are not free.

The three free papers have a small amount of news and a bunch of ads, and generally run less than 20 pages. What I can’t figure out is whether or not they’ll be sustainable. Each morning on the downtown street corners, there are people handing out copies of the “Metro”, and for every one person who says, “Yes, please”, there must be 20 or more people who say, “No thanks.” To put it bluntly, most people don’t want it, even at the low, low price of nothing at all.

I think we’re witnessing the death of printed daily newspapers. The free ones, for all their unpopularity, must be cutting into the sales of the larger papers who are already struggling. There is a large portion of society for whom printed papers are pointless. I belong in that group. The only time I read a printed paper is when I go to visit my parents. Street newspapers have some big drawbacks, too. They’re inconvenient and bulky, and they are a conservationist’s nightmare. The news they contain is out of date by the time you read it, and you can’t follow breaking news except by tuning in to some other media.

In these modern times we have 24-hour news networks on television, online newspapers that update constantly, and more sources for information on current events than we have ever had before. Somehow the printed page seems like a throwback. Every morning I easily skim the headlines online, read what interests me, and move on without having to deal with a paper corpse.

I also like to think that people are better off looking to other sources for their news. Every paper has a slant to it, no matter how hard they try to stay neutral. When your only source of news is the same daily paper, you risk absorbing the attitudes of that paper and its editors. Multiple independent sources can mean many points of view, and a greater understanding of events in general.

Lots of people have contended that newsprint is dead. I think it might finally be happening. As the baby boomers age and pass away, the market for them will shrink further, and I, for one, won’t be sad to see the newspapers fold. I think their time has come and gone.