Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spontaneous Combustion

‘Twas the night before Christmas many moons ago and on top of the coffee table, not an object was stirring except for a wildly flickering jelly candle… and next to the flickering jelly candle rested an artificial flower arrangement. As the flame turbulently twittered in every which direction, my family lounged, reveling in each other’s company and the holiday spirit. I had assumed my official holiday position, sprawled by myself across the loveseat which visibly bore the punishment of years of insubordination to my mother’s injunction against “plopping”. My parents shared the couch, and my brother and sister each occupied a comfy white armchair. We were engaged in some edifying holiday family togetherness… I think we were reading Dickens or eating plum pudding or (most likely) reciting Christmas Vacation lines to each other when the small undulating blaze emanating from the jelly candle licked the very tip of the lowest fabric leaf of the artificial flower arrangement.

Initially, no one noticed the dueling flames dancing atop the coffee table, but after a few moments, my sister pointed at the six-inch conflagration in the middle of the living room and sputtered, “F-- f--f--.” Try as she might, she could not get “ire” to follow the “f”.

“What is it, honey?” my dad asked.

“F--f--f--,” she stammered, still pointing.

I injected myself into the conversation. “Um, Dad… the flowers are on f-“

I did not stutter. Before the “ire” could pass over my tongue and through my lips, my dad had jumped to his feet and yelled, “FIRE!!!” He immediately transitioned from holiday to survival mode, leapt from the couch and, in one heroic sweep, scooped the burning arrangement into his hands.

The fireplace was four feet away.

Unfortunately, he did not deposit the fire into the fireplace.

The front door, leading to our snow-covered front walkway was six feet away.

Unfortunately, he did not pitch the miniature inferno through the front door to our snow-covered walkway.

Instead, Dad ran. His goal had been to run through the living room, through the dining room, through the kitchen, and through the garage to the driveway wherein he would drop the burning flowers, compose himself, and determine his next course of action.

Unfortunately, his scheme did not go as planned.

As he ran, the flames spread across the surface of the decoration in his hand. He attempted to blow them out but his breath only encouraged the fiery expansion. He made it to the cusp of the kitchen when the flames began to burn his hands, at which point Dad’s Plan B took effect.

Plan B was to dropkick the plant the length of the kitchen to the garage door… and… actually, that’s where Plan B ended. There was no clear exit strategy. Which did not matter, because what seemed to Dad at the time of its inception an infallible course of action turned out to be quite fallible after all.

Arms outstretched toward the garage door, Dad held the glowing orb of flames before his face and dropped it like a punter preparing to send a football flying down the field. He kicked the basket. Instead of catapulting forward (the typical result of having been kicked in a forwardly direction) the basket wobbled up and over and behind his head, barely missing his hair. It landed five feet behind Dad, still in the living room, the flames now two or three feet high.

The smoke alarm finally recognized the potential disaster under its nose and began warning us of impending doom, when Plan C took effect. My sister, finally breaking free of her “F-- f-- f--” paralysis, yelled, “Fire! I’ll go get some water!” She ran to the kitchen, filled a Dixie cup with water, returned to the fire, splashed the water on a Dixie cup-sized satellite flame about eight inches from the main flame (which, thanks to Sister, was almost extinguished), then repeated as necessary, incrementally diminishing the magnitude of our indoor brush fire. Roused from our Christmas perches, Little Bro and I stood by watching, helpful only in the respect that we were not making the problem any worse. Dad stood by with his hands on his head. Black smoke began to fill the living room.

Where, you might ask, was my mother during these escapades? She was nowhere to be seen. We all assumed that she had grabbed her most precious possessions and hit the road, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Turns out, we were wrong: she was readying Plan D. She coolly returned to the room with an old blanket and draped it over the former faux flower arrangement and extinguished the fire by smothering it.

In the midst of the black intoxicating smoke and shrill detector siren, my dad fell to his knees in despair in the aftermath of our Griswoldesque holiday disaster. Before him was an incinerated patch of once white carpet and the remains of his favorite fake flowers. The living room furniture was subsequently rearranged to hide what resembled the last vestiges of an (sub)atomic disaster. Since this nightmare before Christmas, my family has traded their air freshening candles for fragrance oils, and “fire” is a four-letter word around the holidays.

For other death-defying fiery posts, click here or here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Letter to Santa Paws

Dear Blogosphere (especially Santa, Mom and Dad, Grandparents, and anyone else who loves me)...

It's me, Watson, Yajeev's Dog. I have been snooping all over for my dad's password for his blogsite so I could post this note to my loyal and adoring fans in cyberspace. Turns out, he keeps his passwords to all his online accounts in a cryptically titled Word document called "Online_Passwords.doc". Who'da thunk it?

It has come to my attention that America is suffering something of an economic downturn, what the economists are calling a "recession". The talking heads on the cable news outlets claim that people are losing their jobs and houses. Worse yet, they're buying fewer Christmas presents. In fact, I've heard that some concerned individuals, in sensitivity to the financial struggles of their loved ones, are asking their friends and family members not to buy them holiday presents this year.

I just want to make it clear that, while I understand that we are in a crisis of historic proportions, I am not one of those aforementioned concerned individuals. I know that 'tis better to give than to receive, and I dare not rob the pleasure-- nay, blessing-- of those who wish to bestow upon me tidings of holiday cheer. Especially tidings that taste like bacon or squeak. Of course, if you could find a tiding that tasted like bacon and squeaked, that would be ideal. Some would call such a tiding a holiday miracle.

Please, feel free to spare no expense in your holiday expenditures on my behalf. We'll both be glad you did.


Watson Steve

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Remains to be seen

Warning: This post may be considered by some to be beyond the pale of decency. If you suspect that you may be someone who is easily appalled by borderline indecency, click here to be redirected to something more innoucous.

You have been warned.

Death is a natural part of life, so I'm told; thus far, personal experience has confirmed this notion-- I have never met a centenarian (though Willard Scott assures me that they exist). Thus, from a very early age, I have braced myself for the eventuality that I will someday cease to exist in the manner to which I am currently accustomed. I know that some people think a lot about their funerals... who will be there, which people will be crying or laughing, what they will say about the dearly departed... Some wonder about the after party: Will the attendees be somber or jovial? What will they serve? Will there be assigned seating?

These are interesting questions, but, to be honest, I am most concerned with the after-after-party. I am preoccupied with what will happen to my body once my soul has, umm, left it for dead. For some time, I have been torn between the options of cremation and burial. Despite my multiple close calls with fire (see this entry for an example and a Christmas remembrance soon to be posted), the idea of being condensed to a few pounds of calcium phosphate and minerals sort of freaks me out. I know that I will no longer be inhabiting this ultimately temporary structure of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen, and that burial only postpones the inevitable decomposition of this organic container of soul and mind and blog... but I have a deeply rooted visceral opposition to being reduced to an urnfull of ashen remains.

The only problem I have with burial, however-- in addition to the impending cemetery space crisis-- is that I am sort of in love with the romantic idea of having my remains scattered over places that mean a lot to me. I've heard lovely stories about the charred remains of loved ones being redistributed (downwind, hopefully) by family and friends in the mountains, rivers, trails, and foreign lands they once held dear-- becoming one with nature in the truest possible sense. I find this idea to be truly beautiful.

While beard trimming a few weeks back, I found myself pondering my ostensibly incompatible desires for corporeal integrity and decorating nature with ashen yajeev remains. As my shavings drifted to the saran wrap trap I had rigged for their easy disposal (to prevent their clogging our bathroom sink drain), I had an epiphany. As if by angelic courier, the solomonic solution punctured my awareness with the perfect cadaveric remedy. My body could be preserved for burial (or taxidermic treatment if anyone would like a lifesize Land of Yajeev souvenir in their living room) and a certain portion of my remains could be scattered amongst the locations dearest to my heart: rather than prepare my ashes post mortem, my loved ones could collect dispensible parts of my organism while I walk and breathe. Previously trash-bound personal components such as excess hair, fingernail clippings, and dry skin-- all legitimate members of my cellular composition-- will hereby be preserved for their future distribution. My body will remain at peace, and I will be eternally connected with my favorite locales: Chick Fil A, cyberspace, the yeast lab, and movie theater.

May I rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Land of Yajeev honored by MSNBC.com

MSNBC.com recently listed the 11 lamest blogs on the internets, and the Land of Yajeev was decisively not among them.

If X is the total quantity of blogs on the blogosphere, then MSNBC.com has ranked the Land of Yajeev in the top x-11 blogs on the web.

Congratulate yourselves on reading the best.