Monday, December 29, 2008

The Pause Before the Norm

We're in that null season now, when the days hang suspended between the holidays, waiting for one to end, the next to begin and normality to reclaim life. These are the hours that bunch together to form the visible seam in the underbelly of time, where the years are stitched together. This is where we pause, draw a hopeful breath, and begin anew.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Politically Correct Holiday

I promised myself that I wasn't going to post on Christmas, but after two whiskeys and a glass of port (and it's not yet 2 o'clock here, Bucko) I just couldn’t help myself.

I wrote this years ago, but had all but forgotten about it. However, a friend of mine asked for a copy a few days ago and it remined me I hadn't shared it with you yet. So here is my ode to a Politically Correct Christmas. I hope you are all enjoying your day.

A Politically Correct Night Before Christmas (um, I mean, A Holiday)

T'was the night before a Holiday, which one I can't say
or the politically correct will come take me away.
And I couldn't decide, for the life of me
if that thing in my corner was a bush or a tree.
When in front of my house a car horn did blare
so I put down my egg nog to see who was there.
A clean-shaven man in a gabardine suit
stepped out of a taxi cab near my front stoop.
"On Driver!" he said, and paid the cab fare
"Are you Santa?" I asked of the man standing there.
"I was once called Saint. Nick," he said with a gleam,
"But lately that 'S' word has become almost obscene."
"I've been corrected for certain, though improved, I doubt it,
"Let's get out of this cold and I'll tell you about it."
I offered him cake, and bid him to try it.
"I can't," he replied, "You see, I'm on a diet.
"I'm not to have cookies or candy or sweets
"I must set an example for what children should eat.
"Overeaters anonymous and dentists both feel
"that I need to stay slim and eat healthy meals.
"My pipe, of course, was the next thing to go
"The Cancer Society's lawyers said so.
"My fur suit and leather were said to offend
"animal's rights, so I had to change them
"for a synthetic blend in this neutral color.
"And I shaved off my beard to please one group or another.
"My reindeer were loosed in a PETA raid one night
"and the elves unionized, now they're on strike.
"But I no longer need toys, so they're free to go.
"Leaving presents in houses; that's illegal, you know.
"And my name has been changed, it's no longer St. Nick.
"It's now Shirley Abdul Jacob Dinosovitch."
I shook my head sadly, stunned by his speech,
was nothing beyond special interests groups' reach?
"But you aren't Shirley or Jacob or Abdul," I said,
"If you pretend that you are then you're out of your head.
"These groups want you to act as they think you should
"as if they are the ones who define what is good.
"I don't have a society, lawyer or cause
"but I do enjoy Christmas, and I want Santa Claus
"the way I remember, a jolly red elf.
"You're Santa, godamnit, get hold of yourself."
"You're right," he replied, "it's to myself I belong
"they've been holding me hostage to their values too long.
"I'm through taking cab rides, it's back to sleigh power
"and I'll settle with the elves for nine dollars an hour.
"Let's cap this epiphany with a cup of good cheer,
"And for God's sake don't give me non-alcohol beer."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Welcome To My Blog

Welcome everyone! Please come in and take a seat. It’s a bit crowded in here but we’ve sent someone out for a few more chairs. Help yourself to punch and cookies from the table in the back, and say “Hello” to my wife, who would be happy to sell you a copy of my book.

Great. Everyone settled? First some announcements: This is a non-smoking facility, so if you find yourself beginning to smoulder, please go outside. The fire exits are located at the side and front of the room. Please turn off your cell phones and other mobile devices.

Okay, let’s get started. Websters, meet the Bloglodytes. If this is your first visit to the Blogsphere, you may find it a bit odd, but you’ll get used to it. Don’t be shy; make sure to mingle and chat with the Bloggers after the meeting. Now for the Bloggers, please make the Websters feel at home; we may be in your town, but they have been with me a lot longer than you have, and you may find they have some interesting stories to tell about what the Internet was like before they built this shiny, new Blogsphere. So make friends; we’re all here for the same reason.

Ahem. I started my first weblog in 1995. Back then, you staked your claim with an Internet hosting site such as Geocities, Xoom or Tripod. That worked until they discovered that ads made money, and more ads made more money. Soon, any content you uploaded was covered in so many ads that your carefully crafted site looked as tasteful as the homepage for The Carphone Warehouse.

When I bought in November 1999, it was like buying my first house. Here was a permanent residence where I could do anything I wanted and no one could post anything I didn’t want them to. We built web pages using HTML in those days, Sparky, and we liked it that way, so I spent many a weekend and late night (this was between marriages) constructing one website theme after another.

Does anyone here remember what used to be before it was “Postcards From Across the Pond”? Ah, a few of you. Was it the Cigar Pages, or the Irish Dance Diary? Cracks of Time!! Well, you certainly take the prize for longevity; pick up a free book on the way out. You deserve it.

So, yeah, I bought Lindenwald to cope with my habit of switching hobbies every few years; I felt would be too restrictive, whereas Lindenwald would allow me to reinvent myself periodically. (Also, was taken.)

It wasn’t until 2001 that I came up with Postcards From Across the Pond, but it has stayed with me longer than any other theme. Without meaning to, I built up a following, and you, my loyal followers, encouraged me, nay, enabled me, to write my book. So this book is yours as much as it is mine, and I want to thank you – free books for everyone! No, wait! My wife is shaking her head. Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

To get back to my story: then came the blogs. I did try them. I didn’t like them. It was like renting a flat in the city when I already had a four-bedroom house with a full basement in the suburbs. Websites were for craftsmen; blogs were the territory of tyros. Websites were a beacon shining in the night; blogs were a disposable lighter. Websites . . . okay, you get the picture.

But as things evolved, blogs became more than a temporary dumping ground for the angst-ridden verbal meanderings of earnest fifteen-year-olds. They matured, they expanded, they became…attractive. Blogs are simple (though I used to see that as a disadvantage, I now regard it as a selling point), and blogs allow other bloggers to see what you are blogging about without having to put your URL in their Favorites list.

So now I don’t feel as if I’m renting a flat, it’s more like I’ve built a clubhouse and invited all the cool kids to be members, and they have invited me to be a member of their clubs, and so on. And I’m a sucker for clubhouses—they make great places to sneak off to with a nicked bottle of your dad’s Dandelion wine and Sarah Jane Pomeroy, who told her parents she was on a sleep-over at Mary Liddell’s house.

So, welcome; rest assured you are all ‘the cool kids’ and I am honoured to be in your company. And if one of you happens to be Sarah Jane Pomeroy, I want to say I’m sorry I spoiled the mood by throwing up in your hair; it must have been the wine.