Season Smells

 There is nothing like the smell of wet dog to bring home the season. Forget gingerbread, roast turkey, and fresh baked cookies. Wet dog is the smell of...

Christmas Specials

I do enjoy the Christmas specials on TV at this time of year. I’m amazed at all of the versions of “A Christmas Carol” there are. What is it about that story that transcends time and place? There’s the classic with Alastair Sims, the musical Scrooge with Albert Finney. Patrick Stewart did a one-man show.  There’s the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and Bill Murray’s Scrooged. And there are all the cartoon versions with Mr. Magoo, Mickey Mouse, the Jetsons, the Flintstones, and even a dog version. What is it that makes the story a classic? I think the story connects with people, no matter what time period it is set in, because we all wonder what our lives would have been like if we had made different decisions along the way. Hopefully we look back and think, “Yes, I’m glad I did that.” But I think there is also a lot of “I wish I had done that.” What I come away with from watching “A Christmas Carol” is that it’s never too late to change. That the decisions you have made in the past don’t have to control your future. You can set a different course for yourself. I think it’s the theme that makes it a classic. It’s as relevant today as it will be in the years to...

Aliens Suck at Music.

I just finished reading “Year Zero,” a humorous science fiction novel. Overall I give it three and a half stars out of five. Parts of it I loved, but a lot of it bordered on too silly. Plus I’m not a fan of long footnotes, especially when the footnote takes up more page space than the story text. The author used them for added humorous asides to the text, but eventually they pulled me out of the story too much and I stopped reading them.  Anyway, two things I did love about this book. First, the opening line: “Aliens suck at music.” That line kept me reading until the end. And there were enough genuinely funny sections to sustain my interest. The other thing that I loved was the ending where it turned out Bill Gates was an alien who was committed to saving mankind by slowing our tech advances. Apparently four out of five species destroy themselves once they reach a certain technological level. Bill Gates has been slowing our progress so that we have time to mature as a society so we can handle the tech power responsibly. His vehicle for doing this is Windows. He said he almost gave the game away with Vista so that he had to make up for it with Windows 8 and 9. But watch out for the next...

Pride

On a news’ show this morning I heard a quote from C.S. Lewis about pride—”Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” That seems to me a one-dimensional definition of pride. I think people who enjoy their work take pride in it. They take pride in doing their job well. Not in comparison to other people, but in comparison to themselves. I take pride in my writing and in my artwork. I like comparing it to the work I did a year ago, or two years ago, and seeing the improvement. I like seeing things turn out the way I had envisioned them. I take pride in doing the best work I am capable of at that particular moment. The problem with pride comes when it turns into bragging. But I don’t think pride necessarily equals bragging. Pride is a good thing. It’s what keeps us striving to do better. We want to be proud of the work we present to the world. If pride was a negative influence, then what kind of work would people...