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Sunday, January 29, 2012

My perfect ending


To the one person that’s noticed (you know who you are), I’m sorry I haven’t blogged lately. Life’s been busy, and the writing deadlines loom. Plus babies require a lot of attention, a simple fact I’d seemingly forgotten. Perhaps in the shadow of new life, it’s only natural that I think of: funerals.
For years I’ve known what kind of funeral I want. Is it morbid to spend time planning for your inevitable death? Maybe, but since it’s the one thing we can all currently guarantee we’ll experience, why not give it some thought? Granted, you’ll be dead, so who cares if your loved ones bury you in the backyard (illegal, apparently), chuck you in the river (also frowned upon), or stuff you and leave you leering in the corner of the living room (maybe not illegal, but absolutely a sign of sociopathy).
Of course, there is a segment of the population that believes the generation of humans that will live forever has already been born. That before we come to the end of our natural lifespan, science will discover some fantastic way to extend existence for a couple centuries, until they find the next breakthrough, which will last a little while longer until the next “Eureka!” moment, and so forth, with medical genius staying forever one step ahead of the Grim Reaper.
Then the sun will burn out and the planet will go. But of course by then we’ll have colonized the stars, etc, etc. Basically these people are incapable of seeing that a glass is not only half-empty, but contains only a drizzle of reduced arsenic residue.
But onto the funeral. I’m not the kind of person that inspires fresh-flower memorials or candlelit vigils. I’m given to understand that such things are typically only done for tragic death: cyclists run over in the road, murdered folk, victims of drunk drivers, that sort of thing. (An argument can and should be made that all death is either tragic or not. When your parent dies due to cancer, how is that not just as bad as a random hit-and-run? Why does one deserve candles by the community and the other just a somber nod of sympathy?)
The “viewing of the body” has always struck me as a particularly morbid and gruesome practice. A little glimpse into our inevitable future? A sort of fatalist voyeurism? Or do we not believe that Uncle Ned is truly dead? Do we need to see for ourselves? I’ve viewed two corpses at funerals, and I’ve got to say, they bore very little resemblance to the living people they’d once been. Grisly. So don’t view my body. Ugh.
Instead, give me a nice, clean burn. Cremation is the way to go, absolutely. First, it prevents valuable land from being taken up by acres of graveyards. Second, it prevents the inevitable Hollywood “Oh my God, the grave’s been dug up!” moment. And third, a cremated body NEVER BECOMES A ZOMBIE! Ever.
When it comes to the actual funeral portion of our program, I want a wake. I want everyone that knew me gathered in a room getting drunk. I want them to toast my memory, laugh at all the dumb things I’ve done, and mock me for all my flaws. If they can think of any, they’re welcome to applaud my virtues, too. Cry if you want, but have some bloody fun. Oh, and make sure there’s a buffet, too. I love buffets. As a last, glorious benefit, it will be the only potluck where I don’t have to personally bring an “entree, hot” or “dessert, dainty.”
Ah, good times. Too bad I’ll miss it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First World Problems


New year, new topics. No more Star Wars. I won’t say “forever,” because, come on, we all know that isn’t true. I will say “for a while,” though. Instead, we’ll go with a nice smooth segue into First World Problems. (It’s a segue because having the time and ability and effort to spare dissecting Star Wars movies absolutely counts as a first world problem. See? How clever is that!)
A while back someone turned me on to the site “First World Problems.” As the title implies, it’s basically a list of grievances that only people in a developed, wealthy, war-free nation would ever focus on. There are a variety of places on the net where you can peruse these types of issues. Usually they’re pretty good for a laugh, a wry chuckle, a roll of the eyes, or a snort. For some people they are just a source for amusement. For some, though, they are a condemnation of our whole privileged lifestyle. “How dare you complain about traffic? There are people in the world who don’t know where or when their next meal is coming! There are people in the world that live in constant fear for their lives! There are—” You can see the pattern.
There is some validity to this argument. Anyone who isn’t blind can see that we’re ridiculously lucky to be born in Canada (and, to a lesser extent, the States). We complain about government or taxes or weather, but it must be pointed out: no one shoots us when we do so. There are a lot of countries where that’s just not true.
What I dismiss, however, is any claim that our complaints don’t count just because they aren’t as “life or death” as someone else’s. People are concerned with their own lives first. We have to be, or we’d all be homeless because we’d be giving all our stuff away just to help the homeless guy shuffling by our office (and wouldn’t he be making out like a bandit!). If you want to say that our first world complaints don’t matter because someone else in the world has it harder than we do, you are beginning a string of argument that will only end when we finally discover the poorest, most miserable bastard out of all seven billion people on the planet. Somewhere we’ll find a guy who’s just a floating head in a jar who’s wife just left him, plus his dog got run over, the rest of his family was kidnapped by drug dealers, and his internet’s been down for months. Oh, and the goo they have him floating in tastes like eggs gone bad. That’s the only guy who’s allowed to complain; the rest of us have to just shut up and take whatever we get and be happy about it, too.
Of course, it could then be argued that the head-in-a-jar guy actually ISN’T the worst off, because at least he gets to bitch when things get too tough. We find a new guy, give him the laurels, and the cycle continues.
Anyway, the point is that I enjoy the idea of 1st world problems, and I’ll use whatever means I have to in order to justify their existence. In that spirit, here are a few of my own:
»When the glue used is stronger than the cardboard in the package. When you try and open the package smoothly, the thing rips and tears and it ends up looking like a rat gnawed it.
»Black jellybeans. Why do they exist at all? The stupid things have no business lurking in my tasty treat. Maybe at some point the only way to find flavour in a porridge world was to suck on anise roots, but we’ve moved beyond that. Now we’ve got a delightful variety of jelly bean flavours, so why keep the worst one?
»I hate all the cords on my kitchen appliances. No matter how well you coil those stupid things, the second you close the cupboard—BANG!—the cords are all tangled. You try and pull out the kettle only to have the blender, mixer, and carving knife all drag out in a clump. It’s stupid. I remember my mom’s vacuum cleaner had a retractable cord. Why doesn’t everything? Better yet, why have cords at all? The outlets in the wall should have the retractable cords. (That’s my patent. You stay away, vultures. Don’t you dare make a million dollars on my idea.)
»My favourite spoon got destroyed this summer. I bought a new one to replace it, but the handle is just a bit too long. If I hold it by the grip, I lack crucial stirring control. It annoys me every time I use it, but when I’m in the store, I always forget to replace it.
»In honour of 2012, I’ll end with my gripe about the Mayan thing. Apparently their calendar ended this year or something, and idiots over the world have taken this to mean that it’s all over for Planet Earth. My calendar ended on January 31, 2011. I bought a new one. Come on, people. Maybe the Mayans just didn’t feel the need to plan THAT far in advance. It is, after all, a few centuries down the road. Besides, if they were really smart enough to predict the end of the world, wouldn’t they have done something to prevent their own drastic decline?