It’s funny how often main characters in suspenseful stories are journalists. Journalists and cops. It’s like writers don’t know how to manage the narrative of unraveling a compelling mystery unless their fictional lead characters are employed to do so.
I guess that’s because random people digging into strange happenings is just not believable. We just don’t do that in real life. Dead body found in our neighborhood? Oh well. We assume the guys with badges who showed up will do something about that, and then the reporters with cameras will tell us all what happened after they talk to the guys with badges. Or not, in which case we forget and return to our televisions and novels and the fantasy worlds with fantasy badge-wearers and fantasy reporters.
The only exception, maybe – kids. Meddling kids. Kids want to know what’s up; they’re still more curious than apathetic. They don’t like being told what to do and they haven’t yet learned to find relief in being told things they could just accept. Kids want to question things. Adults don’t want to find fault with the answer they’re given. It’s too hard and it leads to strange places.
Kids love strange places.
So. If you want to write a story and you want any of your characters to have any driving curiosity about the unusual things that are happening around them, then you’ve got to make them either a kid, a cop, or a journalist.
January has arrived, and now all of our excuses are invalid.
One of the things I love about the holidays is the free pass not just for indulgence, but for the postponement of asceticism. The indulgence of procrastination. That diet? Starts January. Cutting back on booze? Not until January, you aren’t. Start working out? More like think about starting to work out…in January. Eight hours of sleep a night and eight glasses of water a day? Those kinds of heroics will have to wait for the next calendar year.
The holidays are when we go easy on each other and easy on ourselves, when we strive to establish peace on earth and goodwill toward that next plate of cookies. We instinctively give up our battles, and we allow ourselves not to feel terrible even if those battles are just wars.
I think this is good and appropriate. Lent needs it’s Mardi Gras. And if we’re going to have any hope of effecting changes in the new year, we need to spend the last few weeks of the old year allowing ourselves to get away with doing whatever we want. Because when January 1 hits and you’re staring at a bowl full of kale, you’ll be glad you took the opportunity to double-fist gingerbread back in December.
January is when we tell ourselves things will change, that we will change. New Year’s Day is probably the only day of the year when most people spend more time thinking about what they can do differently than about how their problems or shortcomings are someone else’s fault. It’s a brief triumph of optimism and personal responsibility over defeatism and blame. I say brief because we all know that New Year’s resolutions are the teenage romances of resolve, passionately launched and short-lived.
That’s why I don’t make them. But still, along with everyone else, I sense that January is a time to buckle down and work on the things that aren’t working for me. To start doing things I’ve been meaning to start doing; to stop doing things I’ve been meaning to stop doing. And one of the biggest things I want to stop doing is “meaning to.” Resolutions are nice. But moving past intent and launching into action is much nicer.
When it comes to Halloween costumes, there are two extremes: The people that phone it in and run to the drugstore at the eleventh hour to buy whatever crap is left on the shelves, and the people who really, Really, REALLY get into dressing up for Halloween.
Most revelers fall somewhere in the middle, giving their costumes a little bit of thought and putting in a little bit of effort. Store-bought in full or jerry-rigged at home, these are the costumes of people who want to have fun dressing out of character but know that part of having a good time is not caring too much. The party-goers in over-the-top costumes tend to flail awkwardly on dance floors, sacrificing the night’s fun for being the object of many straight-to-Facebook cell phone photos and maybe a hundred dollar prize, while the here’s-my-costume-it’s-a-wig Halloween slackers just look like assholes.
And we all know that the true spirit of Halloween is sluttiness, and the whole point of the holiday is that women get to wear as little as possible in public and men get to enjoy this. Women should have fun stretching the limits of both their creativity and their modesty; there is really almost no end to what could serve as a costume if your costume is just the barest veil between your body and society.
I love the idea of racey Halloween costumes fashioned from mundane objects, and today when I was tidying the home office I started playing dress-up instead of playing maid. When you live with a techie you live with an abundance of CAT 5 cable; hence my idea for a new spin on the sexy cat costume:
Kitty Cat V
That a holiday so often associated with masks should also be so closely associated with near-nudity is perhaps a thesis for some destitute grad student in the humanities to tackle; I’ll just say that I find it wonderful and amusing, and I think we should continue to embrace sexualizing just about everything and everyone until maybe someday we can just embrace sex.