Don’t Blink!

“Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones, an emptiness began to grow.”

~ Jack Skellington

By the time the sun sets on my house tonight, I will be living with one Sand Man, one Mafia Wife, one Princess (pronounced “pin-cess”), one Robot Pirate and a Weeping Angel, of Doctor Who fame. While the older creatures will be off on their merry way with friends, the younger two will be carted from house to house, meaning that I will once again have to dust off my infamous “Grumpy Dad” costume for another year.

Per my youngest, “it’s not really a costume, you know. You just dress like normal.”

“Ah” says I, “But I look mopey the whole time.”

“Yeah,” says he, “like normal.”

Why am I telling you all this? Well, first off, because I don’t really care for Halloween. Sorry to all my Gothic friends, but ghouls and vampires really don’t do much for me. Walking outdoors in the frigid cold doesn’t either. Especially when you’re doing so, simply to obtain candy that you could have easily just have purchased from a store without all the fanfare and hoopty-doo.

Secondly I’m telling you because, while I’m not a fan myself, the ones I love are. As such, I diligently keep my Grumpy Dad costume in good order, just so I can share in the joy with them. It’s during these frigid cold walks that our conversations turn to talk of Thanksgiving, and – that Big Daddy holiday of them all – Christmas. In short, it’s the harkening bells of Halloween that makes us realize the onset of, and brings us together for, the holiday season.

I don’t want to be like Jack. I don’t want to become “empty” to the joy of seeing others happy. The years swim by too swiftly, and I know that it won’t be too long before I’ll be exchanging my Grumpy Dad costume for a Grumpy Grandpa model (I think it’s basically the same, but the Grandpa version comes with a cardigan.) As such, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled, and my mind attentive to the rush of joy that surrounds me tonight.

I hope you all enjoy your Halloween as well. I hope you all are able to soak in every minute of it. I hope that you can enjoy this time, because this time will be over almost before it’s begun. Why, it moves so quickly in fact, that my Weeping Angel son may even be tempted to point a quantum-locked finger at you while admonishing, “Don’t blink!”

Well, OK. As a Whovian, he pretty much says that on a daily basis anyway.

“I’ve never felt so good before. This empty place inside of me is filling up. I simply cannot get enough”

~ Jack Skellington

Dancing With Myself

I’ve no explanation as to why, but on a recent trip home from school, I found myself slamming down the 290 while Generation X’s version of “Dancing With Myself” came blasting – yes, turned all the way up to 11 – through my tinny car speakers. Speakers that are surprisingly resilient, considering how tinny in nature they are.

I had started the trip feeling rather overwhelmed – in addition to everything else, I am foolishly taking statistics this semester – and was in search of some sort of inspiration for my next post. The disc being played (A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box Set, disc 3) was supposed to help, and considering that both mood and weather were rather dreary, I would’ve thought that it would have. But I was coming up blank. The disc that was supposed to inspire ended, and in went the next one in the queue, Generation X’s final effort, “Kiss Me Deadly.”

I’ve heard this album a million times before. I knew what song would be coming on first. And still, when the beginning “ba da da da dum de dum dum de dum” lofted through the small interior of my automotive cacoon, I found myself quickly turning up the volume while beating along on my steering wheel. Madly drumming, like some sort of mid-life crisised 43 year old caucasion suburbanite without a care in the world.

Without a care in the world…

That’s it. That’s why it hit me so forcefully. It was a song from back then. From the “not a care in the world days” of my youth. A time that, oddly, seemed simply chock full of cares right then and there. Cares, and drama, worries, strife and, well, “Life!” It wasn’t until years later that I could look back and see that most of the stress and concern from those days really could have been avoided or ignored, had I only the mental capacity and experience I have now. Obviously I realize that had I already possessed the knowledge obtained through my experiences back then, then I wouldn’t actually have said knowledge, as a result of simply not having the experience in the first. What? Oh, never mind, the Whovians who read this will get me. Everyone else can just skip that last bit.

Anwho, back to the song. That glorious, upbeat, in-your-face song. It’s important that you keep in mind that it was the Generation X version, or as they were called by then, “Gen X.” Yes, I fully realize that Billy Idol wrote the song. And I fully realize that he is the singer in both versions as well. But the Gen X version is stronger. More real. The Gen X version was performed by a bunch of kids trying to make something of themselves, vs. a kid recently signed to a somewhat major label that was controlling the strings. The Gen X version is drummed out forcefully by Terry Chimes. Yeah, the same Terry Chimes who had left The Clash to find a better gig. Think he was a touch pissed about his decision? Sure sounds like it here.

Now don’t worry, as I’ll end the post with the song any way, I won’t bore you with too many more of the musical details. But there is one more interesting point to the comparison of the two, especially for those of you who don’t listen through till the end. In Idol’s version, the song fades out. In the Gen X version, it ends. Just ends, plain and simple. A very punk rock idea. Songs end, they don’t fade out. Only record labels would think of that. Only record labels would be concerned with how their product could slide effortlessly into their next product, for the purpose of endless consumption. For the artist however (punk or otherwise), it’s more an idea of “finish the song, frame that bitch and slap it up on a wall for all the world to see – err – hear.” For the artist, it doesn’t need to “slide” into the next work of art, any more than The Mona Lisa slides into whatever painting has the dubious honor of being her next door neighbor. It can stand exactly where it is, survive and thrive on it’s own merit. The Generation X version has that attitude throughout. In it’s pace, it’s energy, it’s spirit and it’s ending. It says “hey, this isn’t a career,” (even though it was always Billy’s intent to make it so), “but rather this is everything. All we got. Our very spirit.”

“You’re reading too much into it, t.” Possibly. But for whatever reason, the last time I heard that song while in search of inspiration I realized that sometimes you don’t need to search. Sometimes you don’t need to think. Sometimes, all that’s required is that you turn it “up to 11,” beat the loving rubber out of your steering wheel and unleash. I can’t go back to those “without a care in the world” days (nor do I want to), but I can rest easy in the knowledge that these current times too, will someday be fondly remembered as relatively carefree and easy. And even then – in that not-so distant future – I’ll still be able to rock it out with Billy and the boys. I’ll just bruise a hell of a lot easier when I do.

•••

See? I told ya that the post that replaced this one on Friday was way better.

Today’s post, postponed

Honest and true, I actually did have words to place here today.

But they failed to inspire me nearly as much as the poem that appeared in the back of the program produced by Roswell Park Cancer Institute for their memorial service. A celebration of sorts held this past Wednesday, for all the patients who had lost their lives to cancer within the first six months of 2012 – my dad having made the cut by just one day.

I hope Casey and Mary are reading along today, as this poem – I feel at any rate – really nails the truth of it all. The whole of who we are as a species. I hope you’re all reading today actually, and I hope that some of you decide to share this in your own fashion, as it’s hardly people like Casey, Mary and myself alone who need to be reminded of the following…

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live in your eyes
And not on your mind.

Researching this poem further, I found that there were two more verses to it as well. Of the two, the second-to last didn’t really strike me, but the final one did…

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

~ Merrit Mallory

•••

Amazing, right? Of course love doesn’t die.

It never has.

How surprising is it then, that we must constantly remind ourselves of this?

More may be coming on the subject, as this idea slowly begins to weave its way into another post currently under construction. In the meantime, let’s listen to a little ditty that one of my dearest friends in all the world just introduced me to. Seems only appropriate to share it today…

You’ve got a lot of fans David Johansen…

And you too, Tevye.

Remember how I recently spoke of finding a “better place?” Yeah, well I’m finally getting around to that. And one of the things I’ve always wanted to do with this blog was to create one of those “Search Term” posts – you know, like Charissa over at Old Enough For Fairy Tales does – a task I decided was finally due.

As the title implies, Mr. Johansen is the clear winner, scoring in the first with his name alone, and then again in conjunction with The New York Dolls, the movie “Scrooged” (two of you even searched specifically for my favorite line of his in this, “it’s a bone, you lucky dog!”) and his time as Buster Poindexter. Honestly, I don’t feel as if I’ve dedicated that many posts to him, but he is by far the one leading the most people to drink from my muddy word pond.

It should be noted, Jesus comes in at the second and third slots (a lot of you seem to be interested in seeing Him hug people), but it’s Tevye and his “Fiddler On The Roof” that are far more searched for when compiling all the different terms used (five of you went so far as to seek out the logo specifically). And again, I believe I only ever did one post referencing this show. I wonder – in general – do New York Dolls fans also share an affinity for Broadway shows about Jews in Czarist Russia?

Who knows? I do know however, that a lot of people found me while searching about for National Heavy Metal Day (11/11/11). I’m sorry I only made one post about that as well. Hope I didn’t disappoint you. And I can also guess that quite a few of you have probably “borrowed” some my work on same-sex marriage based on some of the very – ummm, let’s say “specific” – searches done on this subject.

Now, while those terms may the ones that saw the most overall action, here’s a brief rundown of some of the odder ones I also found while strolling through the list:

“cool english words.” Hope they found some here – like when I said “douchery,” or “dumbassery.”

“godzilla dance party.” Every Tuesday.

“sexy robot” and “robots doing makeup.” Hey, I’m sure we’ve all searched at least once.

“spooning spoons.” Ummm, cottage industry in the making?

“bert kaempfert – christmas wonderland +cover.” Now that I KNOW the 4 searchers were able to obtain here! Why they were searching for this specifically, I suppose, is a whole different story.

“pooter bunny.” I have no idea, but 2 people thought to look for it here.

“andrew lloyd weber andrew lloyd weber andrew lloyd weber andrew lloyd weber andrew lloyd weber.” Who was that, again?

“i’m a whovian.” We all are. It’s just that some poor suckers don’t realize it yet.

“man spooning naked women.” Without the “with,” I’m not even sure what this involves but – I’ll say it so that you don’t have to – at least they’re not forking.

“baby rooms with dark wood cribs.” None here.

“sign that makes someone feel less ugly.” I hope they found it. If not, here it is again:

“what key did bobby darin sing as long as i’m singing in?” Not a clue.

“old people stoned.” Gotta admit, it would be pretty funny, but I’ve never actively searched for it.

“sex thunks.” Educated!

“clondom.” Wait – a word I made up for a school project was actually thunked up by someone else and searched for?

“invisible like casper.” I don’t know what about this brought them to me, but it does sound like a cool name for a rock band.

And speaking of cool band names, really? “Death donut?”

“i’m gay and i love bobby darin.” Is there a connection? Were they hoping to find a support group?

“cs lewis singing.” to my knowledge, he was actually an author.

“aslongasimsinging.wordpress.com” Come on NOW! If you’ve made it that far, why didn’t you just plug it into the address bar instead of searching?

“lol, that’s all i can say! sap for you and me:-).” I have no idea, but as God is my witness, this is the ONLY time you’ll ever see the dreaded “lol” appear on my blog. omg.

“famous male singers with bad teeth.” It was probably for a school paper or a craft project.

“Godzilla blanket.” One with him on it, or one for him to use?

And my personal favorite, although I don’t know why other than it makes me laugh every time I read it, “judas priest burp.”

Overall, this was a fun exercise, but one that I can’t imagine I’ll do too often. While I stuck to the odd ones here, there were some others that were pretty darned creepy. And others that – well, all I can say about them is that at a certain point kids, you’ll have to just buckle down and write your own damned papers, as I refuse to author your “same sex marriage and negative externalities essay” for you – know what I mean?

And hey, before I go, to the three of you who searched for “song – old fifties song about lost in the jungle,” it’s actually called “Stranded In The Jungle,” originally performed by the Cadets.

Now here’s my biggest draw – Mr. David Johansen – singing it way back when…

First off, I want to thank everyone who commented on Friday.

And I’m even more grateful that none of you called me on breaking my “no more sad posts” promise from the week prior =)

Secondly I wanted to explain to you, as an anal retentive type, I’ve set up a folder for every member of my family on our computer desktop. They each contain the person’s name followed by “stuff.” Well, all but mine. My name is followed by the word “junk.” Pretty telling, don’t you think?

Anywho, I was sorting through my “junk” after Friday’s post, and I came across something I had previously forgotten about. A long way back, I used to teach Children’s Liturgy at our church (I know, right?), and at one point they decided that we should provide the actual homily (sermon) in our own fashion to the general congregation. Of all the teachers, I was chosen (I know, right?) to do so. Now, as the church is a body politic more than anything else, the tides eventually changed, and about a week before I supposed to give the homily, they canned the whole idea. The thing I came across while sorting through my junk, was the homily I had planned on giving, but never did. Until now, that is…

OK kids – we have been getting soooooooo many complaints from the parents, jealous that they don’t get to come to the Lil Church in the back with us every week, that we thought  – just this once – that we would instead bring our Lil Church up front to them! And don’t you worry; I’ll make sure that they behave as well as you do. Well, almost.

.

So, are we ready to listen to the readings?

     (response)

And do we listen with our mouths?

    (response)

Do we listen with our ears?

    (response)

OK, then, let’s go!

.

    (followed by the readings. After Gospel, wait a few minutes. Let the kids sit back down on the floor before doing so yourself. Deep breath, and…)

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“You are the salt of the earth.”

.

Did you notice that?

.

“You ARE the salt of the earth.”

“You ARE the Light of the world.”

.

See, Jesus didn’t say, “you MAY BE the salt of the earth”,

Or, “being the salt of the earth happens from time to time”,

And He didn’t say, “There’s an outside chance that at some point you might possibly be a light of the world – hey – it happens.”

.

No, Jesus plainly states that we ARE the salt.

We ARE the light.

Already.

Without our even knowing it.

COOL!

So… all the hard work has already been done – God already knows we have the ability to shine like His son – God has already placed His trust in us.

.

Now,

all I have to do is just sit here n’ “Shine” – right?

Just hang out n’ be all Salty – right?

Is there something more to it you think?

Well,

I’ve already got salty down (rubbing beard), but how exactly do I shine?

.

I’m pretty sure you guys are too young to have heard of this, but there used to be an uber-popular thing called a “WWJD” bracelet, and these little gems basically reminded us to always think about how Jesus would handle a situation, prior to attacking it ourselves.

I kinda wish it hadn’t been so uber-popular, because once something reaches that level of coolness, then it HAS TO – by some strange cosmic law – become uber-NOT cool at some point, and then it just disappears altogether.

.

I wish this hadn’t happened because these bracelets were so much easier than lugging around a copy of today’s first reading all the time.

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You see the W-W-J-D stood for “What Would Jesus Do”, and in the first reading, Isaiah reminds us that “What Would Jesus Do” is exactly What Would Jesus Did:

  • He gave bread
  • He clothed
  • He sheltered
  • He embraced
  • He Shone with the brightness of God’s Light!

And if I want to shine as He did – if I want to shine with the brightness of God’s Light – then all I have to do is follow His lead – all I have to do is

  • Give bread – either literal or intellectual (got a good book you’re done with? Pass it along to someone else to enjoy! Not playing with that toy? Give it to someone who maybe can’t afford it!)
  • Give clothing – be respectful of the clothes you have, so that when you grow out of them, someone else can wear them as well. Ask your parents to make semi-annual Amvets or Salvation Army runs.
  • Give shelter – friend having a hard time with their brothers or sisters? Invite them over for a sleepover!  See a classmate being bullied? Stand by them instead with the bullies – SHELTER them.
  • Give embraces – real ones are cool, but sharing your toys is another way to make someone feel pretty well-hugged – holding doors for people does wonders as well, and I guarantee, if you VOLUNTARILY do dishes one night – your folks are gonna give you the hug of a lifetime – after they come back to, of course.

In other words – before you do anything – just remember that God has ALREADY placed His trust in you.

And His Son has already shown us the Way – go do it like He did it – and don’t worry about what results. Trust him like he trusts you. Then, not only will you be the Salt of the earth,

you will also be salty  =)

not only will you be a Light to the world,

but you will also SHINE!

.

Will it be easy?

No!

.

Can you do it?

Yes!

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Jesus believes in you, your loved ones believe in you, I believe in you – and I pray that you believe in you too =)

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Now get outta here – be good through the rest of mass, and have a great week kids – thanks!

•••

I guess I’m sharing this with you today, because when I re-read it, I found myself thinking two things. First off, my punctuation skills suck. And secondly, I really should learn to take my own advice more often.