Thursday, April 18, 2002

Can't Draw A Leviathan? What Good Are You?

The other day I got into an argument with a vendor about whose mother was worst. From my understanding it boiled down to the fact that her mother both looked and acted like the Wicked Witch of the West, so I should give up, cry Uncle, and admit that her mother was by far the worst.

I'm sorry, but the Wicked Witch of the West was a pushover compared to my mother. My mother would not send flying monkeys to do her dirty work. My mother would go do it herself, because she thought the hands-on approach was more fun. My mother was no ugly cackling witch, either. She was pretty and personable, so she could get away with just about anything. My mother was more along the lines of your basic conniving, manipulating, torturer -- the kind that never leaves permanent marks as evidence. My mother made Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest) look like Mary Poppins.

As usual such thoughts made me think of Job. I thought what I always think when I think of my mother, that Job didn't really have it so bad. He didn't have my Mom.

That brings up one of my chief complaints about the Bible. That whole Book of Job was really underdone, in my own disinterested, impartial, and objective opinion. I mean, I personally didn't write that Book, so it's no skin off MY nose if it's thirty chapters short of being done. I'm just saying that if it HAD been one of mine, I wouldn't have skimped so much on the details, that's all.

Maybe there just wasn't enough space for the full treatment. OK, I can see that. But really, do you think that if the author had insisted on the extra space, the editors wouldn't have slashed a few reams of begats to make room? Of course they would have.

First of all, the trials and ordeals of Job are just so understated. So, big deal, his servants were killed. He should have been happy he HAD servants. So, big deal, the fire of God burned up his sheep and dead servants, and a great wind killed his sons and daughters, and Job himself was covered head to toe with hideous sores. So what?

We all have bad days. There needed to be more detail in that part. Maybe it should've said, "And oh yes, the Lord God sent unto Job Wes Browning's Mom, and everyone did see that his suffering was great."

And sent irritable bowel syndrome. And Job should have had to endure late Sunday night TV programming, without the benefit of cable.

But the part where the Book really skimps is the part where Job and God are arguing. If I were writing it there'd be a lot more said on both sides.

Right off, I'd have God try this angle: "So Job, you think you shouldn't have things so bad 'cause you're so good. Did you ever think that was where you went wrong? Maybe I'd treat you better if you didn't think that being good automatically entitled you to it, huh?"

So then Job would go away and work on that, and then he'd come back and say, "I see your point, God, and I've mended my ways. I don't anymore believe I am entitled to good treatment for being good. So how about restoring my fortune now?"

"Good try, fleshy one! But you still expect your fortune restored, so you don't really believe what you are saying, do you? Hah! Catch 22!"

They could go back and forth like that for twenty chapters or so. Then finally Job would get smart. He'd say, "Hey! wait a minute, underlying all this is the premise that you, God, determine the Good. But suppose the Good is independent of you. Then being good, you must treat me well if it would be unjust otherwise."

At this point I would break all the conventional rules of a Biblical Book and have my ultimate protagonist (God) say, "What do you want me to be, good and just, or do you want me to be powerful enough to restore your fortune? You can't have both in this world."

I would have God spend a few chapters badgering Job into answering this question. Finally Job would give in, and true to character he would ask God to be good and just. I would then have God turn Job into a good liberal Democrat under an evil Republican administration.

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Mornings Happen

Recently I had what I would call a Fran Lebowitz Moment. I was minding my own business, getting by, when it suddenly dawned on me how certain other people are nuts.

I suddenly feel an obligation from out of nowhere to become more specific. I will yield to this sense of obligation: morning people. Morning people are nuts. This we knew already. But now I realize precisely how they are nuts. Such a realization is valuable to me. Among other things, it helps make life more interesting for me. At least, more interesting than being dead would be.

Morning people are nuts because they have an insatiable need for useless experiences and information. To a sane person, for example, dawn is a time of day to sleep through. But to a morning person dawn is a time for wondrous observations, insights and discoveries: "Look, wow, its another sunrise!" "Hey everybody! It's morning!" "The Earth is turning to face the sun again!" "Look, the sky is becoming light -- just like it did the last trillion times this happened!"

I didn't arrive at this realization all at once. It began one day when I was forced to be up at the ungodly hour of 9 in the ungodly AM. Maybe I had to go to some stupid ungodly committee meeting that morning. So that the morning wouldn't be a total waste, I turned on the radio and happened to catch a local call-in show, one obviously geared to the morning people audience, on big trees.

When I say it was obviously geared to morning people, I mean it is obvious to me now. Now I see the signs. Suppose sane people had been the audience. Then the program might have told us something useful concerning big trees, such as that you can get in out of the rain by means of them. But no, this program was not about conveying useful information. This program was about big trees. That there ARE big trees. I mean, that some trees are little, and that other trees are bigger. That some trees are biggest.

The show consisted of the local radio guy, I'll call him Steve, interviewing a Big Tree Expert, I'll call him Raoul (I forgot to take down their names, so sue me, I'm too sane.) Steve would say things like, "So I guess you've found some really big trees, haven't you, Raoul?" And then Raoul would say things like, "Once I was in British Columbia, near Vancouver, and I saw a really big one, Steve." And then people would call in, I swear they were all morning people, and they would say things like, "I saw a big tree once, you know the one I mean? It was in California." And Raoul would answer with, "Maybe you're talking about the big one I know of there. It's really big." And the listener would say, "Yeah, that's the one, it was big all right. Awesome!"

Since hearing that program I have been alert to that sort of phenomena. I have noticed that such things occur to the greatest extent in the mornings and that morning people are usually involved. For example, it was morning people who first announced at the end of February that it had been a year since last year's Mardi Gras celebration. In effect, they were telling us all that calendars could be relied upon to that degree, a fact that was probably familiar to the ancients even prior to the invention of Tuesdays.

In the last few days since the vernal equinox, morning people have blitzed the media with the Earth-shaking news that baseball will continue this year. That's right everybody, hop out of bed, you will want to be wide awake for this -- last year's season did not end baseball! They've decided to have another go at it! Isn't that just incredible?! And look! The days are getting longer!

Knowing what I now know, I can identify morning people at all hours of the day. Let's say it's 5 PM and the person I'm talking to suddenly gushes all over me about the fact that it's the 21st Century now. That would be a morning person.

Knowing that could be useful. I could recommend that person to take my place on some ungodly Real Change committee, for instance. My new motto: "Throw the morning people to the morning lions!" (Does not necessarily supercede pre-existing mottos.)