I trust you survived Christmas; while I get less and less loot as I get closer to 30 (not necessarily a bad thing) I still had a good time and hope you did as well. I know a trio of animals who certainly had a good time - my mother's cats, and a friend's dog.
The cats: Patches and Midnight.
Midnight is all black, Patches black & white. Over the years, when we kids are unwrapping gifts, the cats could always be counted on to come slowly sniffing around the curious annual activity. They'd hide under the tree, paw at ornaments; they'd also pick out an empty box and plant themselves inside for a period of time. They're getting older, though - Patches hung out on the back of the couch, watching; Midnight parked in the corner and a lap here and there but didn't show much interest in hiding in boxes. Such is the passing of time. But somebody stuck a ribbon on Patches' neck, which she was blissfully ignorant of long enough to be funny; that same somebody dropped Midnight into a box that had contained a television and closed the flaps. Midnight clawed around a bit, apparently couldn't get comfortable, hopped out. Then she ran under the kitchen table. She seems to think that us two-legged beasts can't get at her when she's under there, and for thirteen years I've resisted the urge to join her on all-fours and give the cat the shock of her life.
The dog: Abbey.
Abbey is a gray, shaggy shitzu with big black eyes. She sits about a half-foot off the ground. When I entered my friend's house to join her for a Christmas dinner (my friend, not the dog), the mutt sniffed and shuffled at my feet and shook like a shivering child who's been out in the snow too long without his clothes on - which is apparently what happens when she gets excited. Abbey hung around the table during dinner; would prop up on her hind legs when begging, as if she were used to getting rewarded for imitating a human. When we opened some chocolates, the dog went nuts, practically hopping up on my lap, huffing and puffing through her nose as if she were hyperventilating, her wide eyes pleading for one of the treats. Later, the dog and I got into a staring contest in which I'd make funny faces; she cocked her head from side to side, her big black eyes fixed on my expressions; then, her long tongue would snake out, curl, touch the tip of her nose, and she'd resume staring while her little brain figured out what the four-eyed two-legged beast above her was doing.
Animals are fun, but I'm glad I don't have any of my own. It's tough enough taking care of myself.
BRIAN'S BOOK NOOK
Can you believe the flood of politically-themed non-fiction books that have flooded bookstores in recent years? I think it all started when Rush Limbaugh did his first book in the early '90s, followed by Howard Stern's Private Parts, which was more about the life of Howard than politics, but he touched on certain issues. Now it seems every radio and television talk show host is hocking a book, some more successful than other, but they all share a common theme:
The right is right. The left is wrong. The left is right. The right is wrong.
Others: The left and right isn't the problem: big business is wrong and the influence of big business is destroying our way of life. Or, It's not the left or the right or big business, it's the global conspiracy which uses the left and the right and big business to fool the world's sheep into thinking they have a voice.
A tip: skip the books written by people on TV and radio. It's all part of their marketing, they never write the books themselves, and some (the worst being Fox News' Bill O'Reily and his new book Who's Looking Out For You) are doing nothing more than blowing smoke where the sun don't shine - because their listeners eat it up, think said entertainers are performing a public service, and proceed to quote them extensively as if they were a true authority. This goes for both left- and right-wingers. I have no real proof or anything to back this statement up, but I do work in the media; those in front of a camera or behind a microphone are primarily showmen trying to gain an audience - so they can hold on to their jobs. While some truly believe what they say, others just think they do.
It's important to be informed. Unfortunately our culture leans more toward fast-food news (the latest on Bennifer) instead of important stuff (history, government). But with all the varying points of view, all of which seem very well researched, with arguments well presented and refuted in great detail, the following conclusion is unavoidable:
There is no absolute truth. There is only what you believe. And you can find support for whatever you believe no matter how obscure the opinion.
"The more we learn, the less that we know," said Dennis DeYoung, of the rock band Styx, in the song "Borrowed Time."
I'll say it better: We're all educated fools.
But the ideology of the left still belongs on the south end of a northbound horse.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
As I write this, we're a few days away from the big New Years' bash. I hope you don't make resolutions - they're pointless, and only seem to provide fodder for talk shows and trivial chatter that everybody is expected to laugh at, agree with, bla, bla, bla. Stop already.
But as we enter the Year of Our Dow Jones 2004, I wish you a safe and prosperous year; may you have everything you wish for yourself - and don't forget to write 2004 on all your checks.
Since this is all bogus chit-chat, do not contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org