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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Getting Scrooged on Christmas Eve in the 21st Century

Here is some holiday entertainment, from Counter Culture Journals (文革);

-សតិវ អតុ

Excerpts from The Journals Of A 21st Century Schizoid Man
Getting Scrooged on Christmas Eve in the 21st Century

There I was sleeping in my spacious bed, snuggled under the sheets, with my warm blanket keeping out the cold. Suddenly I heard a horrible shrill scream!
I awoke and looked up. There he was—white as a sheet and clear as smoky glass. It looked like Frank Zappa. He has been dead for years. Could this really be him—in death? He was wearing what looked like a bed sheet. It’s as if he was trying to play the Part of Jacob Marley in the classic tale, A Christmas Carol, 1843, by Charles Dickens,
“Wake up Mark!” the aberration said. “I have an important message.”
“Frank, is that you?” I asked.
“Yes Mark. And you are in big trouble.”
“Me? Is this a Scrooge thing—because I put my Christmas lights up and I gave to Toys For Tots?”
“This isn’t about celebrating Christmas or charity. It is about embracing the present and forgetting the past.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“I spent my whole life making music only a few people liked. I should have made music for the majority.”
“That’s ridiculous! I loved your music. Well—OK there were a few pieces I didn’t really like, but most of it I enjoyed immensely.”
“You and just a few others. You didn’t listen to the music of the people. You don’t listen to Justin Bieber or Bionce. You haven’t embraced rap or hip hop.”
“But I hate listening to Justin Bieber and Bionce! I just can’t enjoy rap and hip hop they way I like rock.”
“You must embrace the present and the future Mark. Throw away your vinyl records. Throw away your CDs. Just buy songs on off a smart phone. Buy them on line and load them on to an MP3 player. Learn to be modern.”
His advice was not new to me. I have heard from lots of young people to just songs off a “smart phone” or computer. One friend of mine said I could help the bands out more by seeing them in concert. Today, concerts are very expensive and I don’t like making a night of it, as much as I did when I was younger, like my high school years. 
Besides, I always enjoyed putting a collection of music together. I always enjoyed reading album covers and record labels to see who sang, played instruments and who wrote the songs. There were always certain bands and singers I followed. Then there was the album art itself. Some of it was quite innovational. Albums were an integrated part of my life in high school. Before I could drive a car, I used to sit on my bed and listen to albums for hours at a time.
By the 1990s music CDs were supposed to replace vinyl and provide us with albums of the future. I liked CDs because there was still some artwork, and the artist’s information was included in the discs. By 2010 it’s getting really hard to find any place that sells CDs.
I’ve been told that all that information is available from music sites and the places where people download songs. But how many young people bother to look at any of that stuff or do they just ignore the details and look for a snappy tune to listen to? And do they keep any songs for later or just listen to whatever they like at the time. I have an album collection and the music brings back memories for me. I love having that library. Some young people still buy CDs and keep music they appreciate. So I’m not the only person who sees the value in investing in a good album.
“That would be throwing away my past,” I protested. “How can I do that? And why not buy CDs so that the artists can make reasonable money off their work?”
“Today’s artists make most of their money selling their music to TV and radio commercials. I realize I ridiculed commercialism in life, but now I am dead and realize I should have embraced it.”
“I can’t believe what I am hearing from you!”
“You will be visited by three ghosts. Expect the first one tonight at Midnight.”
Suddenly Frank just faded away like some ghostly memory. Was it just a dream? I remember the Bill Murray movie I watched in 1988, Scrooged. Could I really afford to just assume this was a dream or was I really about to get Scrooged, as Murray did in 1988?
Sure enough a few hours later I woke to find standing in front of me, a stupid looking Giant TV with small feet, with black boots and two hands with hooks on them. The TV came on and there was this nice looking lady. She looked like Katy Perry from her “Last Friday Night” video.     
“Suppose you are the ghost of Christmas past,” I asked?
“Of course,” the TV answered.
“Or we going to wander around somewhere where I can review my past or am I going to watch all of this on your TV?”
“The TV. Do you think the original ghost of Christmas past would have hauled Scrooge to all those places if he could just sit there in his room and watch videos?”
“But that seems so cheap. It just seems like you’re downright lazy.”
“The afterlife is run a lot like this life. People don’t want to waste any more government money on these things then they have to.”
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. There is supposed to be some kind of justice in the afterlife.”
“Let’s get started.”
Her TV switched to a video of me as a kid getting all kinds of presents from Santa Clause with all of my brothers. We were all in the old family room, in our middle-class brick home in St. Louis where I grew up.
“I sure got a lot of gifts back then,” I commented. “There’s mom and dad. They must have spent a fortune on us. How could they afford it?”
“You were a child,” she said. “You were an obligation. They bought you all that stuff because they felt an obligation to do so.”
“I never knew it at the time, but we got much better Christmases than a lot of other people I’ve known. Some kid’s parents neglected them. Some abandoned their kids and left them in foster homes. Some kids were orphaned. Maybe they were just doing what they thought they were supposed to, but there were a lot of kids at the time that got close to nothing—or they did get nothing.”
“I’ve come to tell you that you should just forget about all of that. Forget about the past. It has no relevance.”     
The next thing I saw on the TV was a scene of my house with multi colored Christmas lights all over it.
“Look at that,” the ghost said.
“Every house has those new white lights that hang down like snow. Yours are old fashion and out of place. Why decorate at all. Your house looks like ‘old-fart-antique-decoration corner.’ Why don’t you leave Christmas decorations to the modern people who truly understand what Christmas means in the 21st Century?”
“I like those lights. They remind me of my childhood. I remember my dad used to have some light bulbs shaped like candle flames. You know they don’t make those anymore.”
“As I told you before—embrace change. Ignore the past. Forget the past.”
Next the TV went to a picture of me and my ex-wife. Her hair was reddish blond and she was as tall as I and thinner. We were toasting midnight on Christmas Eve with glasses of Cold Duck.
“After all these years you finally realize where they actually got the name “cold duck!”
“It’s similar to a German word Kaltes Ende, referring to the combination of dregs of the bottom of the barrel with sparkling wine. It was jokingly changed to Cold Duck.”
“So why, after studying all the fine types of Champaign and dry wines, such as that Cabaret Sauvignon and the Sarah Wines, were you still drinking a wine made from ‘the dregs!”
“It’s a good festive wine. I like drinking it at Christmas. It’s bubbly and a little sweet and Christmas is a good time to throw away our conventional wisdoms and just have some fun.”
“Forget the past Mark,” the TV shouted at me. “Forget everything you ever knew. It has no value now. Embrace the present. Forget what you did before. It is all in the past and it will never return.”

For the rest click here.

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