The Holidays are upon us, and I often wonder whether that word "holiday" is really an appropriate description of how we live at this time of year. The dictionary says that a holiday is "A period of rest and freedom" and "A day on which no work is done." Yet never are we so stressed and harassed by too many things to do as during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year. The holiday comes later, when everyone has gone home and the decorations have come down.
There is a charming piece of music by Leroy Anderson called “The Typewriter” that requires a manual typewriter to be played onstage as part of the orchestra. When it was composed in 1950 this was no problem – typewriters were everywhere. When it was scheduled to be performed at the Staller Center at Stony Brook this month there was a problem. Where do you find a functioning typewriter these days?
One answer would be: in my basement, where I have at least five fully-functioning manual typewriters, that provide a reassuring link with the past.
The web site fiasco that has upset the launch of the new health care program is a large scale version of what we all endure every day on a small scale. Any big organization, especially one that deals with money or government programs, seems to have a website carefully designed to create frustration, depression and homicidal rage in its users. Why they do this I don’t know, but they do it brilliantly.
Other people’s memories can be annoying. Like me you are probably surrounded by relatives and friends who remember everything that you yourself have forgotten or repressed, especially the most embarrassing moments, and share them in public at every opportunity. I would prefer not to be reminded of the stupid things I did when I was six, or even sixty. If you are related to someone who has total recall of the past it’s like living inside the National Security Agency – no scrap of data is left unrecorded.
This is not a big election year for us, apart from the New York Mayoral race, and I have nothing to say about that except that we could use someone more entertaining, like Boris Johnson the Mayor of London. If politicians can’t be effective at least they should be fun. Right now politics is all tricks and no treats.