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Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Christmas Travesty ...

I have endeavored (with a bit of help from Charles Dickens) in this ghostly little tale, to raise the ghost of an idea which shall neither put you out of humour with yourselves ... nor with each other ... nor hopefully with me ... may it haunt your minds delightfully ... "God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!" ... Henry Beefeater had grown into an uncharitable and begrudging young fellow, along with being an accomplished thief, despite noble efforts by his parents Lamar & Mamie Beefeater to influence the boy to the contrary ... hence, Henry reckoned that the age-old proverb "better to give than to receive" was meant for every living mortal other than himself ... having therefore settled on that mistaken notion, Henry unabashedly presented his parents with his annual Christmas wish list, with intentions of then making a trip to the mall for the purpose of completing his Christmas "shoplifting" ... Lamar quickly glanced at the large piece of paper, Henry's demands and desires scribbled on both sides, then promptly squeezed it into a tight ball, before tossing it onto the glowing embers of the open hearth ... he then set about to explain to the bewildered nestling how that greed and lack of concern for others had finally caught up with him, and that he was to proceed straightaway to his bedroom, devoid of supper ... Henry, hurt and humiliated by his father's terse reaction, ran up the stairs to his room, slamming the door behind him, then diving headlong onto his squeaky bed ... it wasn't long 'till he began drifting off to sleep, but there were no visions of sugar-plums dancing in his head, just angry thoughts ... and images of dread ... Henry had barely commenced to snore, when he heard the sounds of what he thought was something fiercely struggling within his room ... then as mucky water splashed all over his favorite patchwork quilt, he bolted upright just in time to see a tremendous creature, it being nearly five feet in length, with glowering red eyes, and a rusty treble hook embedded in it's fat lip ... lying just inside the thing's jutting, lower jaw was what appeared to be a huge wad of waterlogged tobacco ... Lester Doolittle? ... how could it be? ... Henry's pappy had told him stories about those days when he and Lester were the best of childhood friends ... until Lester robbed the general store, and made off with all that tobacco, only to be turned into a slimy sea monster, doomed to swim around out there in some murky lake or ocean, all by his lonesome, for the remainder of his miserable existence ... Henry mustered up a bit of courage then enquired, "Lester? ... Lester Doolittle? ... is that you?" ... the writhing, scurfy figure paused for a moment, spat a nasty gob of black juice right onto Henry's bedspread, then hoarsely replied ... "Yes Henry Beefeater, I am Lester Doolittle ... first but not last, sent from the briny depths to dissuade you from lying and pilfering folks' belongings ... lest your end be of similar fate, hopelessly swimming alongside I as your mate!" ... Henry attempted a meek answer, but mercifully fainted, as the wretched menace suddenly vanished, after warning of Spirits yet to follow upon the clock's midnight knell ... was it a dream or no? ... again Henry sank into the nether throes of fitful sleep ... Off in the distance, as the pealing bell fell silent ... the curtains on the window cautiously parted, revealing a mysterious, transparent form crawling slowly over the sill and onto the floor ... "Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold me?" asked Henry ... "I am," said the voice so soft and gentle, and singularly low ... "Who, and what are you?" demanded Henry ... "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," it announced ... "Long past?" added Henry ... "No, your past," it said ... as it spoke, it extended it's strong hand, clasped Henry gently by the arm, then hauled him from the bed so effortlessly and light, and down the narrow stairway to where those he foreknew sat looking much younger this night ... the walls and ceiling were arrayed with living green, where bright, gleaming berries glistened amidst crisp leaves of ivy, holly and mistletoe ... a mighty flame roared up the chimney, and out into the chilly air, threatening the stockings hung with great care ... in a corner stood a beautiful spruce, trimmed with sparkling lamps and shiny ornaments of all sorts, heaped beneath it lay piles of gifts, bound together with ribbons and bows ... in the kitchen sat poultry and great joints of meat, mince-pies, plum-puddings, long wreaths of sausages, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes and seething bowls of punch, that made the room dim with delicious steam ... on the couch sat Henry's mother and father, glaring proudly at a tiny baby rocking in a cradle at their feet ... "Who's child is that," stammered Henry ... "Why that's you," declared the Ghost, as a dull rap irrupted at the front door ... "My time has come and gone, and so for you," said the Ghost of Christmas Past ... "the Ghost of Christmas Present would now like some time with you" ... As Henry fearfully opened the heavy door, there stood an immense, albeit jolly Giant, with genial face and sparkling eyes, clothed in a simple robe bordered with snowy-white fur, who with a cheery voice proclaimed, "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, sent here to remind you of those less fortunate than thee, and of those so desperately in need ... come go with me, and in all take heed" ... suddenly there sat Henry surrounded by gifts, while others had none ... his stomach bursting with food, as others begged for scraps ... resting in a warm house, dressed in the finest of clothes, while multitudes wandered homeless, naked and cold ... countless folks barely surviving in squalor and need, as Henry went about spoiled and ungrateful, his heart rotten with greed ... then near the Spirit's side stood a gaunt-eyed boy and a raggedly-clad girl ... "Who are they?" asked Henry ... "Why they are you, meet Ignorance and Want," said the rotund Ghost ... "Beware them both!" ... Henry could stand to see no more, and insisted the Spirit return him back where he had been before ... with a start, Henry was instantly back in his bed ... had this been a dream or no? ... or some poor, disturbed souls returned from the dead? ... he slept again ... Yet another Phantom silently crept 'neath the closed, bedchamber door, slowly approaching the foot of Henry's bed, like icy vapour spreading fright and doom ... shrouded in darkness, it's head and face concealed by misty blackness melding with the night, the frightful form rose to an imposing height ... the Spirit spoke not a word, as it lightly tapped Henry on the knee with an invisible, outstretched hand ... Henry bolted upright, as if unexpectedly seared by an icicle and cried, "am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" ... the Spirit answered not with words, just motioned for the terrified lad to follow ... "are you about to show me shadows of things yet to happen, but will happen in time before us?" asked the frightened boy ... the Spectre seemed to so nod ... "then lead on," said Henry ... "the night is rapidly fleeing" ... at once they were walking down a quiet lane, when passing before the window of a modest tenement house, Henry noticed a group of sobbing children gathered round a sparsely-lit tree, sadly there were no gifts beneath, nary a one -- right away Henry realized that it was he that had stolen those dear babe's hopes and dreams ... straightaway he and the Shadow were legging it amid throngs of humanity on a bustling avenue, and there sitting precariously on the curb was an elderly, decrepit man, wearing dirty, threadbare clothes unbefitting of the intemperate weather, and clutched tightly in his bony, shaking hand was a rusty, tin can, with words scrawled down the side which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" -- somehow Henry knew this unfortunate soul was he ... as they continued along the now dimly-lit street, at their side, just beneath a tiny Shoppe's shattered windowpane, lay a corpse draped with a bloody white sheet ... "Who is that?" Henry asked ... the Phantom was yet to speak, as Henry saw a kneeling policeman pull back that sheet, revealing the lifeless heap sprawled before him amongst the fragments of broken glass -- to Henry's shock and dismay, that pathetic pile was he, shot dead by that officer while trying to loot the place ... sickened to the core, Henry went forth at a quicker pace, only to find himself standing in a most solemn and dreadful place ... brisk wind blew swirls of dried leaves all about the listing, timeworn headstones, which marked the final resting place for various and sundry souls ... the lonesome cemetery felt eerily familiar, as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come led him to the furthest corner, where it pointed out a solitary, unmarked plot ... "and who lies within, sir?" -- but the Ghost had abruptly departed, and Henry knew that within that forgotten tomb rested the bones of none other than Henry Beefeater ... he began to weep uncontrollably, until he thought his entire being would meltdown to nothing other than a lifeless pool of salty tears ... Henry again heard the rings from the courthouse clock, as he opened his eyes to the gradually, dawning light ... had it been but a nightmare, or no? ... he waited for a few tense moments, but no more Spirits did appear ... he hurriedly got dressed, grabbed all the money hidden under his mattress, then ran downstairs to greet his mother and father, giving them big hugs, along with his sister and brother too! ... he then loudly exclaimed, "Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all!" ... "I must hurry to the shopping mall, and purchase gifts for one and all, I've only a day or so afore the Yuletide doth befall" ... as he grabbed his coat and ran out the door ... Henry had the best day of his life ... buying gifts for family and friends ... food, clothing and toys to donate to those in dire need ... dropping cash and coins in every Salvation Army bell ringers' pail, even went out of his way to place a wad of money in an old man's tin can with words which read, "a penny for my thoughts, a nickel for some coffee, a dime for a slice of bread?" ... why ol' Henry had become as thoughtful and generous as that jolly fella named St. Nick ... the Beefeaters were finally granted their greatest wish -- at long last their son Henry had became the man of honour and character they had always hoped for and dreamed of ... Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight! ... I want to take this opportunity to genuinely wish one and all ... friend and foe alike ... a very "Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season!" ... I pray that my story has brought you a few moments of enjoyment and laughter, may you have many more ... although written as a provocative parody of Charles Dicken's classic "A Christmas Carol" ... it is fraught with hidden truths relevant to all ... Above all else, my heart's desire is that all remember the true reason for the season ... "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" John 1:14 ... the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ... --sja

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

journalist jimmy smith talks baseball's designated hitter

what is so appealing about the designated hitter? if the designated hitter is so great, why are there no great national league designated hitters? and how does one get designated? and who does the designating? and where does the designated hitter stay while the designated hitter's team is in the field? and does the designated hitter have a glove contract with rawlings or wilson or somebody? if not, then the designated hitter is not a real baseball player. real baseball players must play in the field. shouldn't bat if not playing in the field. do designated hitters wear protective gear? are designated hitters allowed to enjoy seeds and gum from the team seeds and gum tray? and what does a designated hitter do when a game of pepper breaks out? if a designated hitter hits a ball in an empty stadium is a sound made? does someone hear this sound? can prove it? why are designated hitters big and burly and often fat? why not little scrawny designated hitters? singles hitters. what atlanta braves player would make a good designated hitter? and what could the atlanta braves get for that uh, player in trade with an american league team? ten toes for six toes, so to speak. could be a rumor. and until the designated hitter is banned from baseball this economy is not likely to return to health. as goes baseball, so goes the country.