I'm veering towards Not Being A Fan Of December. December's about everyone else. The holidays bring a weight. Everyone's expectations and disappointments form a ruck, and you're at the bottom of the pile, feeling those cleats raking your back. Add that to the ever-present spectre of Christmases Past - the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year has been forever marked by Lucas' fight with Kawasaki Disease, five years ago or yesterday, depending on our moods - and you get some serious blahs. Outside forces will do their very best to muck things up for us. It's a given. Happens every year, and this year, despite our best efforts, is no exception.
This would be the point where I'd say something like, "but you know, you can't let things get you down. You've got a lovely wife, two awesome kids:
...a day job, two pretty awesome writing gigs, slippers, a choice of several stylish yet functional baseball caps, tea tree shampoo, a few of those individual-sized mini-Gouda cheeses, Scott Pilgrim on Blu-ray, a comfy chair, a gas fireplace like one might find at a couples-only hotel at Niagara Falls, a skateboard, adequate socks, both eyes, three flashlights, avocados, a couple of books that I haven't read yet but have been meaning to, and a towel. So, in conclusion, if I were to offer any sage advice to people like myself who may be feeling a bit inadequate this time of year - perhaps you're feeling this as well - it would NOT be "dance like no one's watching". It would be "dance like people are watching but screw them. Also, we have a Party Goat."
The story goes that when Alex Chilton, then the teenaged lead singer of The Box Tops, showed up to record the single "The Letter", the producers thought he sounded too young. So what he did was, he went into a room and screamed and screamed and screamed until his voice sounded like it had been bathed in cigarette smoke and age, and then he recorded the song. I don't know if that story is true, but I like it. It sounds like something I'd do.
Alex Chilton died today, days before he was set to reunite with surviving Big Star members for a show at SXSW. If you have to ask who Alex Chilton is, I kind of feel bad for you, but I also envy you, for you can (and should) Google "Alex Chilton" and discover greatness in simplicity, as clear and beautiful as the stars over a dark highway.
Best Invertebrate of 2009: Again, this was tough, but the Pompeii worm (Alvinella pompejana) really stood out this year.
Best Source Of Material To Rehash On A "Best Of 2009" Blog Post: Twitter.
Best Vodka: Grey Goose.
Best Way To Drink Grey Goose: Frequently.
Best Dadblog: DadCentric. (Yes, I'm biased. But I'd put my fellow DadCentricians up against anybody. This seems like a good time to thank them for all of the excellent work they've done this past year; I'm humbled to be associated with them. In 2010, we'll be taking the site even further.)
Best Surf Contest: the 2009 Eddie Aikau Invitational.
Best TV Show I Shoulda Started Watching Earlier: Sons of Anarchy
Best Zombie-Related Pop Culture Offering: Zombieland
Best Non-Fiction Book That I Read This Year That Was Actually Published Last Year: The Forever War, Dexter Filkins
Best of Times: The name I would give to my Styx tribute band if I decided to form one.
Best Curse Word Beginning With The Letter "T": Twat. (Really, try it on someone, male, female, doesn't matter. It will enrage them.)
I feel like I should have something to say about the death of Michael Jackson; I do write about pop culture stuff, and this was, after all, the King of Pop.
I was never a fan. I won a copy of Off The Wall at a youth center bingo game when I was a kid; the only album in my rotation back then was the Star Wars soundtrack. I liked "Beat It", but only because of Eddie Van Halen - I was wearing bandanas and parachute pants in those days, and Michael Jackson wasn't my trip, dude. It didn't matter; he sold millions of albums anyway.
Lots of things didn't matter, when it came to Michael Jackson. He was "eccentric", "troubled", "childlike", "a Peter Pan figure". These are the words that people told themselves when the stories began to emerge; it didn't matter, the accusations, the payoffs. A father who treated his own children like animate dolls, to be dressed up and paraded around and dangled from balconies. A grown man who enjoyed sleeping with young boys. I wonder if there was ever a point when the kid that carried the Jackson 5 realized that whatever humanity he once had was slowly starting to slip away. These things didn't matter; he sold millions of albums. He was the King of Pop.
I was behind a Ford truck that was being driven by a virgin. I know this because the truck displayed the following stickers: "JEDI ACADEMY GRADUATE", a picture of a Clone Trooper helmet, a picture of a Stormtrooper helmet, a picture of a Darth Vader helmet, and one that said "MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU...ALWAYS". There was also a license plate frame that read "The Force is strong in this one". Oh, and the license plate itself read "DRTHRON". (Darth Ron!)
Darth Ron would no doubt find my lack of faith disturbing.
As I'm wont to do while driving, I drifted off into a meditative, fugue-like state. I thought of our current national discord, and how we can come together as a people. Then it came to me. Perhaps Islam got it right. Perhaps there's something to the idea of collectively looking towards Mecca and praying, five times a day, every day. In those moments, people around the world unite and in a sense become one in mind, heart, and soul. As Americans, we scoff at the idea of understanding those that our leaders claim are out to destroy us. But there must be something to be learned from this. Billions of people, scattered across the globe, living disparate lives - Canada, England, Indonesia, and yes, even here in the U.S. - and yet in a sense as a people they're never truly apart. There must be some comfort, some strength, in knowing that as you pray, at that exact moment, thousands are doing the exact same thing. We could use something like that here. So this: once a day, all of us will stop whatever it we're doing. We'll gather in conference rooms or town squares or strip mall food courts or football stadium parking lots, anywhere where speakers and soundsystems can be found. And at a given time, synchronized so that all Americans are doing this as one, a song will play. That song will be Boston's "Foreplay/Long Time" (which is even cooler in spaaaaaaaaace) and together we shall all rock out to it and play air guitar en masse, millions of Americans fret-boarding like Tom Scholz in glorious united...er, unison, because if there are two things that Americans know how to do, it's play air guitar, and go fly fishing, but who really gives a shit about fly fishing?