General Ramblings

The Most Terrifying Poem in the English Language

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.

 — Robert W. Service, The Spell of the Yukon, and Other Verses (1911)

 

 

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Tonight, on a Special Halloween Episode of…

Anne and I went to a party last night at which the guests were asked to brainstorm “a teaser for a gruesome Halloween episode of a popular TV show” as part of a game. (Actually, the results would more accurately be called loglines, but hey, why quibble?) Winners were chosen for funniest, goriest, and overall best ideas. I thought it was a fun little exercise, and I’m rather proud of what we came up with, so naturally I must share:

Tonight, on a spooooky episode of Hogan’s Heroes: One by one, the men of Stalag 13 are growing sick and dying. Colonel Klink has gone mad with religious fervor. General Burkhalter has gone to the Russian Front where it’s safe. And Hogan realizes that no one sees Schultz during the daytime any more…

And the second one:

In this very special episode of The Andy Griffith Show, the dead are walking the streets of Mayberry. Andy, Opie, and Barney have barricaded themselves in the courthouse. As Andy begins to rave delusionally after being bitten by the zombie Floyd, Barney ponders the best use for his one bullet…

Why yes, we do watch a lot of MeTV, why do you ask?

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Forty-Eight

It’s my birthday again.

I’m home, having taken the day off in what seems to be turning into an annual tradition for me. Outside the sky is low and dark, the color of a deep bruise, and a hard rain is threatening. I can hear backup alarms on the heavy machines across the street; they sound  frantic, like they’re trying to beat the oncoming storm as they crush and grind and rearrange the landscape I’ve literally known my entire life. The image strikes me as profound in some way… but perhaps I’m just being a drama queen about notching off another year, same as always.

A million miles goes by in the blink of an eye
And so I cannot try to slow time down
And years are made of sand slipping through my hands
Even faster than the speed of sound

— Mary Chapin Carpenter, “The Dreaming Road”

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Last-Minute Signal Boost: BHS Class of ’87 Reunion!

Now that the sun has returned and everyone has drifted back to the comforting, unchanging glow of their electronic devices, a message for any of my old classmates who may be reading this blog:

If by some chance you either haven’t heard about it or haven’t made up your mind about attending, we’re only days away from our 30-year reunion. Time to act! Details below… and I hope to see you all there!

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Into the Great Wide Open

Photo by Anne Memmott, copyright 2017Just east of the Nevada/Utah border, there is a stretch of I-80 that runs in a perfectly straight line for a little over 50 miles. The freeway skirts the southern edge of the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, so the landscape around you is perfectly flat, and when atmospheric conditions are right, the mirages make it appear as if the road is hovering over a pan of perfectly still water. A range of mountains stands in the distance, and clouds tend to line up just in front of it, their shadows drifting across the foothills below in a constantly shifting patchwork of dark and light. Meanwhile, the sky above your car is perfectly clear and endlessly high, the tallest vaulted ceiling in the greatest cathedral in the universe.

The eastbound and westbound lanes are divided by several hundred feet, and traffic spreads out to a comfortable distance apart, making it feel as if you have the road more or less to yourself. Sometimes the only other vehicle in sight is an 18-wheeler so far ahead that it appears to be a man on a horse, or perhaps a camel like that scene in Lawrence of Arabia, a wavering smudge in the heat waves rising from the asphalt. The only other manmade object for miles around is the railroad track that parallels the interstate. There’s just nothing out there… no housing developments or strip malls, no Walmarts or fast-food chains or office parks or high-rise buildings… no oil rigs or cellphone towers… no fences, islands or barriers. No traffic lights or cross-street intersections to force you to brake and come to an unwanted halt. And no ugly billboards to clutter your mind with unsolicited marketing messages, at least not on that 50-mile stretch past the salt flats. It’s a no-bullshit zone where my jaw gradually unclenches and my breathing slows as I barrel along at 80 mph with the wind whistling all around my open convertible cabin.

It’s the best therapy I know.

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Mark Your Calendars and Send Me Your Address: Class of ’87 Reunion

BHS-class-of-1987

I don’t know which is more difficult to wrap my head around: the fact that this summer will mark 30 years since I graduated from high school, or the equally far-fetched notion that I — yes, I, Jason Bennion — have ended up in charge of planning my class reunion.

I mean… it’s not like I ever had a notable amount of school spirit back in the day. I was a good student, and I had friends and all, but I just wasn’t much of a joiner. I tended to think of myself as much more of an outcast… a loner, Dottie… a rebel. I went to exactly one football game the whole four years of my high school career, and my attitude about pep rallies was that The Man wasn’t going to tell me what to feel enthusiastic about. If you can find me in the class photo above, you’ll see that attitude pretty clearly on display, I believe.

And yet, as unlikely as you might think based on the wanna-be tough guy I used to be, three decades on I seem to be the one who’s kept in touch with everyone, who still lives in the old neighborhood, who gets sentimental every time one of these big round-number anniversaries rolls around. Somehow I’ve become the nexus for Bingham High’s class of 1987. And so it made sense that I’d end up spearheading this reunion thing.

If any of my old classmates are reading this — does anybody still read this blog? — and you haven’t already heard from other sources, the reunion is going to be Saturday, August 26th. We’re still in the planning stages, but it’ll be outdoors at a county park, BYOB, and strictly casual. And hopefully fun. I’ll post more details as we get things ironed out. Right now, though, I need your help… if you’re a Bingham Miner and you haven’t done it yet, do me a favor and click this link, right now, and register your address there so my fellow planners and I can track you down more easily. The site is self-explanatory, it’s quick and painless, and it’s secure (there are only two people with access to the complete list). As the immortal Arnold Schwarzenneger once said, “Come on, do it… do it now!” And after you’re done there, spread the word to anyone from our class you can think of and make sure they do the same.

Thanks, everyone… and see you in August!

 

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Nearing Midnight…

Those of you who may still be out on this All Hallow’s Eve, still flitting from shadow to shadow in search of candy or mischief, or maybe just a tingle down the spine to break up the monotony of your tame and fenced-in little suburban lives, so modern, so clean and above all, so predictable, had best be making for home soon. But be wary… even in this modern 21st century, you may encounter something you do not understand… out there… in the dark…

“If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” Just then he heard the black steed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered his cranium with a tremendous crash—he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider, passed by like a whirlwind.

 

The next morning the old horse was found without his saddle, and with the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his master’s gate. Ichabod did not make his appearance at breakfast—dinner-hour came, but no Ichabod. The boys assembled at the schoolhouse, and strolled idly about the banks of the brook; but no school-master. Hans Van Ripper now began to feel some uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod, and his saddle. An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they came upon his traces. In one part of the road leading to the church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin.

Happy Halloween, kids…

"The Headless Horseman" by Chris Beatrice

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The Evolution of The Face

I think it’s pretty common knowledge that the face of Michael Myers, the unstoppable boogeyman of the Halloween films, is actually William Shatner’s.

According to lore, the makers of the original Halloween bought a Captain Kirk mask at the local drugstore for a couple bucks, modified it a bit, and spray-painted it white. The rest, as they say, is Hollywood history, as that film went on to become one of the most successful horror flicks ever made (it was the most successful for several decades), spawning a slew of sequels, imitators, and outright rip-offs, while the Michael Myers character became an icon. Personally, I think part of the reason why Michael is so unsettling is because that blank, expressionless visage is so weirdly… familiar. But even knowing why he looks familiar, I’ve had trouble actually seeing my boyhood hero in that face of evil.

Not any more:

halloween_shatner-to-michael

It’s even more unsettling now.

Just something to ponder as Halloween 2016 winds down…

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The Drawing of the Three

Evidently, there was a meme floating around a few weeks ago (which I totally missed because I was on vacation) that asked you to choose three fictional characters that you feel somehow represent yourself. (Kelly did it here.) I’m always a sucker for a good meme, of course, but me being me, I started wondering about things that weren’t explicitly spelled out in the premise. Are these avatars supposed to reflect your self-image or is it about how you think others perceive you? And are we talking your idealized self, i.e., what you want to be like, or is the point of the meme to be honest about what you think you actually are? In other words, do I indulge in a little wishful thinking (Thor! Yes, he’s so much like me!) or go for total self-deprecation (Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons… because he’s… also… so much like me)? Do you see how difficult these supposedly simple games actually are?

Well, after wracking my brains and struggling with a lot of deep self-reflection for, oh, 45 seconds or so, I finally decided on three options, which I will now present for your approval and/or shouts of derision:

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star-trek_mccoy_wtfdances-with-wolves_costner_journal

I started writing explanations for each of my choices, but decided they might all end up sounding narcissistic and ridiculous, so I’ll just leave these here. Thoughts, anyone?

 

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