The lighting is messed up in this video, sorry about that. You can only see my hat and coat. 😉
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all thro’ the wood,
Not a creature was stirring, and that was not good;
For Berthold had hung up his cam’ra with care,
In hopes the “Low Dark Ones” soon would be there.
He’d checked all the settings, he’d put out the feed,
And eagerly waited, with good books to read.
But Berthold had just about given up on the game
Shaking his head, sad to see nothing came–
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
That he ran in the field to see what’s the matter.
Tripping over his pumpkins and Halloween junk—
Running past the old graveyard and dodging a skunk–
When, what to his screen-glazèd eyes should appear,
But that all of his internet friends were now here!
With a look of surprise, did the blogger exclaim,
And he chuckled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“We all know our names,” chorused his followers all.
”Then why,” said BG, “Have you come this evening to call?
For there’s naught going on, as my camera shows,
It only records ‘coz sometimes the wind blows.”
”Oh, you mean like your books?” Waberthold chimed in.
And Berthold shot him a look, erasing his grin.
“As I was saying, there is nothing to see,
The forest here’s quiet as quiet can be.
Not that it matters, since I can’t record sound,
(If only a cam’ra like Katie Dawn’s could be found!)
But anyway, not a creature is stirring, not even a—”
At which point, his friends all together said “shhh!”
“You already said that,” they all pointed out.
“And we’ve come to tell you what the season’s about.”
“Eh?” said Berthold, looking dazed and confused.
(Could it be they had realized he was less than enthused?)
You’re lucky your stocking’s not filled up with coal.”
“The point of the season is family and friends,
Not churning out ‘content’, as if it ne’er ends.”
Berthold began nodding. “Yes, yes; now I see what you mean!”
“Thanks all, for coming, and happy Hallo–”
“Argh!” said Mark, with a scream.
“Just kidding, of course, Happy Holidays one and all!”
They said cheery farewells, till the next time they’d call.
And Berthold went home full of holiday cheer,
And only later did see on his camera appear
Just barely in sight through the winter night’s fog
The shape of a—something. A coyote? A reindeer? A dog?
At any rate, whether man or a woman or a gigantic hound–
Even though, as I’ve said, the camera does not record sound–
I am sure it exclaimed, ere it vanished from sight—
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
It started when somebody told me to write a funny story. So, I did. It’s a very short story, but it was sufficiently long that I didn’t want to create yet another page on the blog for it–it’s getting crowded there.
I could publish it on Wattpad, but the trouble is that too many people have told me it’s a hassle to log in to Wattpad. I hate hassles.
Ultimately, I decided to just put it on Kindle. It’s free for the next four days (and permanently free if you have Kindle unlimited.) If you miss the four day window and don’t have Kindle Unlimited, it’ll cost 99 cents. I felt sort of guilty about charging 99 cents for such a short tale, but then I remembered that the vending machine where I work charges $1.50 for a soda. My story might be short, but I can promise it won’t increase your chance of heart disease, diabetes or cancer. All that and you might laugh a few times, too.
Anyway, you can get the story by clicking here or on the image below. Happy almost-Halloween!
[Lyrics by Berthold Gambrel and Maxwell’s_Maximums]
Here’s the tale of Steve the Pumpkin–
Steve the Pumpkin was my friend.
But on October 31st,
Steve the Pumpkin met his end.
Steve was sitting in the field that evening,
In silent thought, as oft he did,
When he was foully apprehended
By a passing neighbor’s kid.
Then they took ol’ Steve the Pumpkin
And they carved ’em up real good.
And put a candle in his noggin
Just because the bastards could.
I swore that I’d avenge him;
So I dressed up like a ghost
And barged in on my neighbors
Demanding candy, tea and toast.
And that’s the honest story
Of trick-or-treating’s youth.
Others may say different
But Steve the Pumpkin knows the truth.
[I wrote this a while ago, but never posted it. Then I saw Mark Paxson’s post today and thought “why the heck not?”]
Pericles was an ancient Greek politician who presided over what is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age of Athens”. During this period, the Athenians made many artistic and architectural achievements that are still admired in Western Civilization.
However, what sometimes gets neglected is that Pericles also presided over the end of the Golden Age, and the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. The Greek city-states turned against one another, and Athens collapsed into war and plague, the latter of which killed Pericles himself.
“Life”, as the commercials say, “comes at you fast.”
What’s this got to do with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell?
Well, he presided over the Golden Age of Football in the United States. The NFL drew huge viewership numbers and was easily the most lucrative of the major professional sports during his tenure. In his tenure, American football has gone global, and stadiums have become bigger and more ornate than ever. Even the NFL’s premier event has changed from being a predictable blowout that it used to be into, more often than not, a highly-competitive and exciting game.
But now, the end of that Golden Age is at hand. A lot of it is the self-inflicted hubris of all great powers: from making teams play awful games on Thursday nights (dressed in hideous uniforms to boot) despite the fact that players and fans alike hate it, to relocating beloved teams to richer, but less football-loving markets, the NFL’s own greed now works against it.
And then there are political divisions that turn the organization on itself. The National Anthem controversy has made the league a lightning rod for criticism, and it has reacted by trying to come up with a “compromise” that has angered people on both sides of the issue.
Then there are the concussions, which are causing fewer children to take up the sport in the first place. The NFL’s supply of gladiators to feed to the brutal sport is drying up, and so they are changing rules to try to compensate. In the process, they are destroying football in order to save it.
For all these reasons, I think the NFL is in sharp decline, and that it will soon cease to be the dominant sports league in America. And yet, it was only a few years ago that it appeared to be an invincible juggernaut.
OK, maybe this post is a little unfair to Pericles. Although he and Athens fell on hard times at the end of his career, he at least was by all accounts a charismatic orator, competent general, and left the world some marvelous ruins that still stand today. I doubt anyone will be looking at NFL stadiums a thousand years from now.
But the general point holds: when you’re at the height of your power, always remember that there’s nowhere to go but down. Or, in the words of another legendary statesman, Abraham Lincoln:
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.'”
I debated whether to even bother writing these this year. I probably won’t be following the NFL very closely any more for a while. But this is a tradition here at Ruined Chapel, and as Tevye would say, tradition is how we keep our balance. So I went ahead and did it.
As usual, the order in which they appear reflects my prediction for each team’s standing in the division at the end of the season.
Still can win the division.
But not playoff game.
But good enough for second
In AFC East.
Jets will be bad yet again
And fire their coach.
We ended the drought!
Then lost all our good players
And drafted a bust.
In Big Ben’s last year
They recapture the magic
Of Two thousand Five.
So much for Flacco
They struggle again, and start
Jackson by week five
Besides Death and Tax
Is only sure thing.
Hue doubles career wins (team)
In just one season!
Luck returns to form
And they win the division
But lose to Steelers.
Still a strong defense
But Blake Bortles regresses
And they miss playoffs.
Were lucky last year;
Won’t happen again this year.
Better unis, though.
Watson was a fluke;
This year, teams figure him out
And they go nowhere.
Gruden brings them back
To their old playoff glory
But not Super Bowl.
They should be better
But always underachieve.
This year is the same.
The “case” of the fluke
Quarterback in title game
Ends with the Broncos.
They’ll be missing Smith
When unproven gunslinger
Throws twenty-plus picks.
Is Wentz really good?
Yes, but they’re also lucky;
They will not repeat.
Who are they really?
Last year’s bad team or ’16’s?
I think it’s last year’s.
Still paying the price
For bad management’s past sins.
First round running backs
Seldom give good ROI–
Too bad for Saquon.
Back where they belong
Reigning over division–
But can’t beat the Rams.
The magic ran out
Won’t be recaptured.
Could surprise people
But Trubisky will flame out
In the second half.
Stafford’s getting old
Defense has never been good–
Into the cellar!
Behind strong runners
They win the division but
Lose out to the Rams.
Ryan ‘s MVP
But team itself ‘s lackluster–
It’s the old story.
Brees’s decline starts
And Kamara suffers slump;
They miss the playoffs.
Winston is a bust
Now they’ll have to start over
Should have known better.
Completely stacked team
Has best record in the league;
But loses S.B.
Jimmy G is good;
But they won’t overcome Rams.
But wait till next year.
How do you squander
A superstar like Wilson?
Just ask Pete Carroll.
Poor old Fitzgerald
Has played so long on bad teams.
And he will again.
For April Fools’ Day, I had a little fun over on my Twitter account, tweeting as my “assistant”/evil cousin “Waberthold Gambrel”. (I based the name on the Nintendo character, Waluigi, rival of Luigi.) I also tweaked my profile picture a little.
I’ve deleted the tweets now, but I saved a screenshot so Waberthold’s brief-but-spectacular (some would say Scaramucci-esque) career can be commemorated.
Happy April Fools’ Day!
SCENE: INT.–OFFICE–DAY. I am discovered sitting at my computer, eating a granola bar, with an unopened box of cookies on my desk.
Can I have a cookie?
(He opens the box and takes a cookie. Enter CO-WORKER)
CO-WORKER (to ME)
Can I look through your files?
(CO-WORKER turns back to door, looks through file cabinet. Exit INTERN.)
All these files are a mess! It’s never been cleaned up since the guy who used to have your job. It was in great shape before he came.
(Enter INTERN, unseen by CO-WORKER)
That idiot who was in here was so stupid.
Hey, I’m right here!
No, not you–he means the guy who used to have my job.
Oh. (pause) Can I have another cookie?
These files are such a mess!
Why do you have these cookies? You don’t eat food.
I’m eating granola right now.
I mean not this kind of food.
CO-WORKER (who has been grumbling about files the entire time)
You should have seen what it used to be like!
INTERN (To ME)
Oh, yeah, you did say you used to be fat.
No, no–he means what the file system used to be like!
(Exit CO-WORKER, still grumbling, having apparently not found the file. Pause.)
Can I have another cookie?
Honorable readers, distinguished authors, and fellow bloggers:
Tonight, it is my honor and privilege to appear before you to mark the 9th anniversary of this blog. I can think of no date more fitting for me to make such an address.
(laughter, boos from the opposition)
I’m pleased to report that the state of the blog is strong, thanks in part to wonderful authors and interviewees like Carrie Rubin and Audrey Driscoll, who have kindly allowed me to post their insightful and thoughtful answers to my questions here.
…who have contributed to the discussions on this blog on a number of topics, from politics to the craft of writing.
…on how to better the site. I am therefore launching an Executive Initiative to improve the readability and layout of the site, some elements of which have already been implemented. It has, in my opinion, certainly gone no worse than any such initiative can be expected to, in that it at least vaguely resembles what the people have asked for.
(laughter, boos from the opposition)
With all this in mind, and most of all, with the insightful attention and comments of readers like you, I will continue to preserve, protect, and to post on this blog, to the best of my ability.
When I was a kid and would sing stuff at random (as kids do), my Dad would sometimes ask, “What did you do with that money I gave you?”
Me: “What money?”
Dad: “The money for singing lessons.”
And now you know why I’m a writer and not a singer. Happy Holidays to all of you!