Wednesday, December 9, 2009

C'mon? Charlie Brown? Really?

The following sentence is probably not one anyone ever expected to see in print.

I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, and it made me really angry.

Not the content. That show has been on the planet 3 years longer than I have, and it still seems much younger than I do. I still occaisionally try to duplicate some of the characters' dance moves... which explains why my wife never complains that we don't go clubbing enough (yes, feel free to insert your favorite Tiger Woods joke here, I am taking the high road this time).

What set me off? THEY CUT THE SHOW! C'mon? Charlie Brown? Really? As Joel once said on MST3K, "If you take out the Dolly Madison commercials, the entire show is actually only 3 minutes long." But they cut it anyway. They cut an entire know, the one where Lucy makes Schroeder play jingle bells 4 times, until he finally just plays it with one finger, she yells, "That's it!!", and he goes flying away. Don't look at me that way, you know exactly what I'm talking about...don't pretend you are more cool then I am.

They cut the whole bit!

How sad is that? And how sad is it that made me angry?

I get angry alot anymore...sometimes with reason, sometimes without. I think part of it is just simply I am not as good as repressing my emotions as I used to be. Whether this is a good or bad thing is open to debate, but that's the way it is. However, I think in this case I know how my warped mind locked on to this.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Anything. I did all the right things. I paid attention in school. I worked to pay for my college. I didn't do drugs. I never stole or cheated. I cleaned my room. I did everything I was asked to do, and now for all my efforts, the infamous "they" can't even leave my childhood alone! They can't just leave even the tiniest portion of my innocence intact without trying to get another 30 seconds of advertising in my face so they can separate me from more of my money.

I bought into it all. I was the nice respectful guy. I never caused any trouble. I took my place in the system. When do I get my reward? Where is my flying car? Why am I stressed out at work everyday, but trapped because there are no other jobs out there?

Why can't I just remember , for a few minutes every year, the time when Christmas was magical for me... a time when I didn't have to look through my son's eyes on occaision to feel how special this time is? Instead, I have to be reminded how much things have changed...of what we've all lost along the way.

C'mon, guys... if I promise to buy a couple more twinkies, could you just give me back that 30 seconds of my past? I promise I'll still be good...

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Earl List

"My Name is Earl," we hardly knew ye.

I was not all that sorry to see this show go, it really lost it's way toward the end. Jason Lee probably wasn't all that upset either... he could finally get a decent hair cut and shave. But the central premise of the show, at least in it's early days, always fascinated me.

The Earl list.

People Earl felt he had wronged in his life, and now he needed to make amends with, he wrote down and carried with him wherever he went. He wasn't always successful in righting his wrongs, but I always felt the redemption was in the attempt, not in the result. Earl, with all his flaws, was much, much braver than I.

I hate being self aware. I really, really hate it. I examine my life from so many angles, so often, that I sometimes actually immobilize myself. I practically rehearse every sentence I utter, I edit and re-edit what I write. And if I do make a mistake, or do something I later consider petty, it will haunt me for years. Decades, even.

The prime example... in my third grade class, there was a kid who smelled. I mean, he really had an odor. He was just plain dirty, and he wore the same clothes all the time. The poor kid probably had a rotten home life, and was neglected by his family, almost to the point of criminality. I say "probably" because I never found out. This kid was quiet, polite, friendly, and genuinely just a nice kid... but he smelled, and I did my best to stay away from him. And my best friend at the time and I, in a early bout of my creativity, composed the following song, based on the tune of a band-aid commercial those of you my age will remember..."I am stuck on Lysol, because ***** is stuck on me." In my third grade class, this song caught on like the Marcarena.

I am 41 years old, and that song still haunts me in the middle of the night sometimes. And yes, I remember his name... and I am not going to do him the disservice of mentioning it here.

He is the first person on my Earl list.

My Earl list is so long, I wouldn't know where to begin to work through it. And, in some cases, I probably shouldn't try. I mean, who wants some guy that was mean, or petty, or angry, or cowardly, to show up and bother them so HE can feel better about himself... especially if it was something they had forgotten, and could have lived a wonderfully full life with out revisiting?

But I have that damn over achieving conscience thing, so here for the world, is a sampling of my Earl list... with hopes that maybe putting this out on the web might just take a bit of it off my soul.

I am truly sorry about my friends who's wedding I missed. But, worst of all, I didn't even return the reply card. Their wonderful day was also the day of another person's wedding, who they didn't like. But I felt the obligation of old friendship to attend the other wedding. The simple fact is, I was too cowardly to actually explain this to them at the time. I lost 2 great friends, simply never speaking to them again.

I miss my cousin terribly. She was the closest thing I had to a sister for a big chunk of my childhood. I wish I had been been assertive enough to stay in touch when her parents split, and she stayed with the one who wasn't my blood relative. Coward again.

I am very sorry to have lost touch with some old, but very good friends, several of them on purpose. Some I was angry with for reasons that I realize were so unimportant. Many of them probably never even realized I was angry at all, because I never actually, well, TOLD THEM I was angry. And I was bitterly disappointed that they couldn't figure out on their own what they did to me... even if the transgression was only in my own warped (hey, that sounds like a great blog title) mind.

There are many more people on my Earl list. My one hope is that in this crazy, mixed up world we have no alternative but to live in, being on this list of mine somehow helps their karma or luck or fate or whatever. That the fact that somebody cares enough about them to try to never repeat the mistakes made with them again somehow tips the universe a little in their favor. Even if they don't remember who I am or give me a passing thought.

This is magical thinking, I know. I don't have that strong an effect on the world. But that hope helps me, just a little, to sleep at night.

And if you have an Earl list, and are reading this, please... don't let it grow. Try in small ways to shrink it. For me, if not yourself... let me have a little redemption by convincing you to take away a little of your own pain.

And if you don't have an Earl list, and can get through life without anything approaching my level of self examination...I just plain envy the hell out of you.

Here Goes Nuttin'

Welcome to Quietly Warped. I'm Paul, and I'll be your host for this evening. And hopefully, many evenings to come.

Why a blog? Why me? These are both good questions... now put your hand down and shut up...I'm talking here...

I started this blog basically to do two things. One, to force myself to write again. It's been far too long. Also, to force myself to write things people will actually read. Granted, I don't expect a following, and the few people that check out this blog won't be hyper-critical (Hi Ma! Look at me! I'm on the Internets!). But still, I need to have in the back of my mind that someone might one day, in a bout of drunken random typing, find this blog and actually read it. I can't crumple this up and throw it in the trash. It's out there...I have to take it seriously, and actually practice what I once wanted to be my craft.

The opinions expressed here are purely my own. They may surprise some of you who know me. At least, I hope they will. This won't work for me, unless I can dig a little deeper into myself than I usually like to do, and let others see more of myself than I usually allow. Don't worry, this doesn't mean there will be naked pictures of me appearing here. That would not only be illegal, but just plain wrong on a lot of levels, artistic and gastronomic not being the least.

A few warnings...I am an unapologetic liberal (a few of us still exist, and are allowed to roam freely on the preserve). I am much more angry than I usually let people see...I have been pretty successful at hiding that fact, though less and less as I get older. My language will probably hit PG-13, might on occasion stray into R. I am a spiritual person, but feel that is the one area in life that is wholly my own. I won't comment on your relationship to your religion, you aren't allowed to comment on mine. If you try to blow people up for your religion, however, well, you're just an asshole... no real debate there. I am a straight male. I mention this only because that is how I have to look at the world. You look at the world however it suits you, I really don't mind at all.

And probably my worst crime...I use three dots much too often in my writing. Sue me.

I hope you stick with me...I can't say how often I will post, but I'm going to try for at least twice weekly. I want people to read this. I want to get myself out there, so maybe I can actually write some stuff that will show up on that paper stuff... I think they used to call them books and magazines.

Here goes nuttin'...