Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Moments in Wintertime Literature

    It was the night before Christmas, and it was snowy—very snowy—but not quite snowy enough to suit the tastes of the sometimes-intransigent Tiny Tim (grandson of Martin Chuzzlewit, who is not to be confused with the always-pleasant lad, Tiny Tim Cratchit, son of Bob (nee Robert) who was formerly employed at Scrooge and Marley), because Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, to the rue of Seth Pecksniff, had already given Tiny Tim Chuzzlewit his Christmas present, a Flexible Flyer sled, and the snow was not deep enough to cushion the Baker Street cobblestones (actually large gravels washed up on the Cornish coast and used as London pavers), so the sled runners scraped on the cobblestones making a terrible, caterwauling racket, though, quite frankly, not all that caterwauling nor all that terrible, because snow, as you know, tends to muffle noise, causing the noise to dissipate rather quickly due to the phenomenon of the Doppler effect, which being something of a scientific law, the Doppler effect works just as well on Baker Street Hill as it does on the plains of Kansas, a flat or “flattish” landscape, where it presumably, and for comparison sake, rains as hard as it does on the plains in Spain (affirmed by the noted meteorologist Prof. Henry Higgins), and while the same can be said of snow in Kansas, Spain and London, at least regarding the application of the physical laws known as the “Doppler effect” at the same precisely-measured elevation above sea level as Baker Street Hill, and meaning that snow, whether wet snow or dry snow or icy, granular snow, compares equally in all three locations, the same outcome—the muffling effect—does not apply to the snows of Vermont, for as you must have been taught in public school, the man that Vermonters called “Robert Frost” (their white-haired apparition of “Jack Frost” as he is known throughout the rest of New England) wrote poetically of snow and its many pleasing qualities, not the least of which is the very noisiness of snow that the snow itself makes when it falls from the heavens and lands in the forest where, ironically indeed, trees do not make a sound at all when they fall in the same forest as does Vermont snow, yet Vermont snow does make noise if Robert Frost is to be believed, and he may be infallible in so far as we can determine, because these forests are populated wholly by maple-syrup trees, which of course, give the Green Mountains their name, at least in summer, but perhaps not in autumn as maple trees turn a blazing orange-red at that time of year, but as Robert Frost seemed to be a snow-creature—the Yeti poet, as Vermont Buddhists call him—he would not know of leaves, an ignorance that manifested itself in his once taking the wrong road in a yellow wood, and he probably knew not much about people, Buddhists or other ilk, as he often stopped by woods on snowy evenings, and further, would stop his horse-drawn sleigh without any farmhouse near, which in turn, caused his horse to give his harness bells a shake to warn (reportedly; albeit a human reaction in most cases) Vermont folk of the Yeti poet’s presence, but regardless of how often or how hard the horse jingled the harness bells, the only reply that the horse would hear was the sweep of easy wind and downy flake.
    Another great moment in wintertime literature brought to you by David Allen.
                    MERRY CHRISTMAS

Friday, December 3, 2010

Where is that assignment with FOX News?

I am going to tell you a story that may well jeopardize my career as a contributor to The State Journal. I have kept this story secret for many years, but now it is time for me to fess up.

Some 20 years ago, I was foggy-brained enough to believe in the mission of public radio. I was even a monetary contributor to West Virginia Public Radio. I enjoyed listening to the Saturday opera and "Prairie Home Companion." I also fell swoon to the mellowing liberalism of "All Things Considered." I wanted to believe I could be tolerant of liberals, which, upon reflection, is what held me back for years from becoming an opinion writer for The State Journal.

Then one evening, while I was tuned to "All Things Considered," I had a revelation. An ATC reporter was broadcasting from the apartment of a San Francisco man who collected Sonia Henie memorabilia. If you don't recall her, Ms. Henie was an Olympic figure skating champion from Norway who appeared in more than a dozen films.

The collector had quite a lot of Ms. Henie's memorabilia, and you could tell that he had decorated his apartment almost completely with her mementos. But he had gone too far (in my opinion). He had Sonia Henie's underwear framed under glass and hanging on the wall.

It did not surprise me that a San Francisco man cherished Sonia Henie's underwear to the point that he had it framed. After all, there are a lot of San Franciscans of Norwegian descent. Garrison Keillor once considered airing a Norwegian-themed show from San Francisco and calling it "Bay Companion" ("Fjord Companion" in Scandinavian distribution).

But the Henie underwear show was too much for me. I figured that if public radio had the money to air a story about a movie star's framed underwear, then it didn't need my help anymore.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against collecting women's underwear. I used to collect women's underwear myself, but I had the good sense to keep it where it belonged -- in the glove box of my pickup truck.

I tell this story of my public radio resentment so that I will be renounced as a State Journal contributor. I want my Juan Williams moment. I want a shot at the big money at FOX News.

I must say that I owe my decision to come clean about public radio to none other than Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Had he not had the fortitude to recently denounce FOX News and MSNBC at a Senate committee hearing, then I would not be telling you about my falling out with public radio.

I also owe a measure of thanks to former NPR contributor Juan Williams because he had the inner strength to tell people that he felt uncomfortable seeing people in Muslim dress waiting to board his flight. I just hope that my story rises to that level of reprisal from National Public Radio.

I am told that Sen. Rockefeller knows people who know people who run the public broadcasting empire. If Sen. Rockefeller could use his connections to encourage NPR to renounce me and my opinions in The State Journal, then I just might have the credentials to apply for a job at FOX News. And then, like Juan Williams, I could have a big pay day.

There's more than payola to my wanting to be a FOX News contributor, however.

As you may know, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer is a FOX News contributor. Dr. Krauthammer is a quadriplegic. I am also a quadriplegic. You can take it from me that you never want to believe the opinion of just one wheelchair-bound pontificator. (Professor Steven Hawking excepted.)

To be fair and balanced, you should seek the opinions of two wheelchair-bound pontificators. Roger Ailes, I could be that second, wheelchair-bound pontificator at FOX News. I could even be unfair and unbalanced if that's what you need me to be. Put me in coach, I'm ready to roll.

Sen. Rockefeller, I am more like you than you think. I also believe the First Amendment is an anachronism that should be ignored whenever opinions are unflattering. Like you, I also agree that the old-timey, non-combative news format needs brought back. We need to go back to the days when politicians in Washington used the FCC to hold complete control over the airwaves and the broadcasters.

Of course, times were better back then. We didn't know any different.