Monday, June 25, 2012

Merry Mid-Christmas!

It's very early in the morning of June 25th, and we're officially at the Mid-Christmas Equinox, as I have come to call it. The last Christmas was exactly six months ago, the next Christmas is exactly six months away; everything that you wish the holiday had been last year, it can be this year--you have six months to make it so!

Christmases have changed over the years. When we were all younger and thought we had all the time in the world, I tended to think of Christmas as a time when I could do everything I could to bring happiness and satisfaction to the lives of those close to me. Now I know that it's not in my power to do that, no matter how much I'd like to--all we can do it hope that the gifts we give, the greetings we share, the friendship and the love... we can hope that they let those close to us know that we care, that we hope for them, and we want them to find that happiness and satisfation.

I received countless numbers of gifts over the years, but the real gift was the one that I think I took for granted. The real gift was the fact that someone else thought enough of me to want to make my life better, to say, "This is for you" and let me know that I mattered to them.

We all have six months to let others know that they matter and that we want their lives to be better. I'm already making my list...

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Something Somber This Way Comes

The news of Ray Bradbury's death wasn't surprising, but it was saddening. Like many, I grew up with Bradbury's imaginative tales. My first exposure to his work came with the haunting Alfred Hitchcock episode "The Jar," but I didn't know it was Bradbury at the time. At those pre-adolescent days, I paid all too little attention to television writers (an oversight I would compensate for later in my life, of course).

The first Bradbury story I actually read was "All Summer In a Day," a tale of dreams and lost opportunities and childhood cruelties. It haunted me; Margot never deserved what happened to her in that tale, and there was nothing that her classmates could do to make up for what they had denied her. Margot's loss stayed with me even more vividly than the death of the young boy in Frost's "Out, Out," which I read the same year. The boy's death was senseless--the girl's loss was heartless, and heartless is always worse than senseless because of it deliberate nature.

The Bradbury story that haunted me, though, was "There Will Come Soft Rains." It's a vivid story, filled with images that will not go away--images every bit as vivid as he outlines of playing children burned into the walls of a house by the nuclear flash. It was the plainness of the narrative that made it even more disquieting.

That plain yet poetic narrative style propelled me into The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451... Bradbury's voice was distinctive, evocative, cautionary, and disturbing as the story demanded.

I discovered his comics adaptations when Lancer collected them in a pair of EC trade paperback reprints; the stories and the images worked together so well that it was as if Bradbury had written them with visual accompaniment in mind. That's when I learned that Bradbury loved comic books and comic strips as much as I did; it never occurred to me that an author of his stature would share my passion for comics, but it made him seem all the more human and all the more appealing.

Years later, I saw Moby Dick and was enthralled by Bradbury's script. He brought Melville's story to life for me, making me appreciate it for the first time. I now appreciate Melville's Moby Dick, but I absolutely love Bradbury's interpretation of Melville's Moby Dick.

Bradbury wrote all too little in the past thirty years, but every time a new piece by Bradbury appeared, whether fiction or non-fiction, I sought it out. I felt obligated to do so; I owed it to him as repayment for all that he had done to brighten my life.

Bradbury was 91; his health had suffered, and there was no surprise in his death. But there was so much loss. He found the poetry in everyday prose, he evoked the fantasy in science fiction, he conveyed the wonderment in horror. He filled my life with prosaic imagery that will stay with me forever. While I can enjoy all that he has written over his vast career, I am left with an empty feeling when I realize that there will be nothing more from this man.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Poli-ticked Off

I've come to the conclusion that there are few blog and/or social networkssubjects more polarizing than politics.

There are people I've know for years whose blogs I no longer read because of their intolerant political postings. There are friends whose Facebook and/or Twitter feeds I no longer follow for the same reasons.

There is something about the internet that seems to encourage the most extreme means of expression. It doesn't suffice to present one's political viewpoint; one most condemn and excoriate the opposition, dismiss them as sub-human, accuse them of unethical and even criminal action, berate them...

I'm tired of playing that game. I used to post political points of view here, but I see no reason to do so further. If I find myself unsubscribing from the blogs of longtime friends because I grow weary of their political posts posts, then I suspect they probably would feel the same about my posts.

Life is too short. I'm not looking to make more enemies. I'll discuss politics in person with friends and acquaintances because in-person conversations tend to be more tolerant, less offensive, and far less condemnatory in their tone. But no more discussion in print; I'll make my opinions known at the ballot box instead.