“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 set to folk music. This song’s presence on the list is admittedly a little bit of a stretch, since it’s best known for being sung at New Year’s Eve these days.
The song is usually performed at a fairly slow tempo, but B.B. King’s rendition is more upbeat.
Written and composed in 1949 by Carl Sigman and Peter DeRose, this is another of one those “Christmas” songs that makes no mention of the holiday. While hardly the first to record the song, (Bing Crosby was first in 1950) Deano bought his inimitable style to yet another classic, earning him a third spot on this list.
You are about to hear one side of a chat that may be taking place this afternoon or maybe tomorrow, assuming it hasn’t already. It involves a speaker who wants to get something off of their chest and a listener who is there for their own reasons. I call this curious conversation: ‘Confession.’
How are you?
I’m fine, just busy, you know?
You, me, and everybody else. Remember when today wasn’t so busy and everybody stayed at home?
Yeah, me too. You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I think it got this way because of me.
How? *sigh* Well, about six years ago, I saw Santa Claus.
Yeah, I know, everybody thinks I’m crazy, but I saw him. I didn’t even hear him or anything, I just wandered into the living room because I just had this feeling, you know? And there he was, leaving gifts under the tree.
Apparently when you catch Santa in the act, he grants you a wish…anything you want, in exchange for keeping his secret.
I wished that it could be Christmas all year…hey, I was eleven years old, it sounded good to me!
Santa tried to talk me out of it. He said something about ‘the balance,’ but like I said, eleven years old. Santa said okay, and disappeared.
Ever since then, the Christmas decorations go up a little earlier, people start putting their lights a little bit earlier, and you start hearing Christmas music a little bit earlier. Like I said, I think it’s my fault.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I guess that I hope that if I break my promise to keep his secret, he’ll break his, and things will go back to the way they used to be…I guess Santa never breaks his word, even when it’s a good idea.
Crazy, huh? I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t believe me. I don’t believe it myself, sometimes…but well, here we are…and here’s your receipt, ma’am. You have a nice day. *sigh*
Tis the season, so the saying goes, Dear Listeners, but which one? It gets harder and harder to tell. For more telling tales told by me, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com. This has been Super-Short Storytime and regardless of which one you’re celebrating: Happy holiday, listeners!
You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 92, “Needless Things,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!
Now that the Texas weather has taken a turn for the slightly cooler, I’ve been talking walks around the neighborhood to get some exercise, fresh air, and sunshine. Some days I walk in the morning, and some days I walk in the evening. As I go around the neighborhood, I’ll often see people outside, watering their lawns, playing with children, tending to plants, or sometimes cleaning out their garages.
The garages intrigue me; they are nearly always packed to the gills with all kinds of stuff: Bicycles, tools, lawn mowers, children’s toys, exercise equipment, and, of course, boxes. Stacks and stacks of boxes, oftentimes nearly piled up to the ceiling. Cars, SUVs and trucks are often relegated to the driveway or to the street. No room at the inn, as it were.
Seeing all of those garages filled with boxes made me think about all the stuff that I kept in my house; I’m not that bad, I reassured myself. After all, I had enough room left in my garage to use it for its intended purpose, so I’m not one of those people.
That notion got thrown out of the window when I sold my house. I got a realtor and began moving out in anticipation of the house being shown to potential buyers. The realtor drilled it into my head that I had to make sure to remove or secure anything that was ‘stealable’ from the house before the showings started. Right or wrong, I interpreted that as ‘get all of my DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games, comic books, books-books, music CDs and nearly all of my computer stuff out of the house.’ As my storage unit slowly began to fill up with boxes, I began to realize, that yes, I did have quite a bit of stuff myself.
By the time the house went on the market and the showings began, I had done a pretty good job of minimizing the amount of stuff that was inside, by either putting stuff into storage or giving stuff away to charity. In many cases, I had two of the same thing that I either didn’t need anymore or I didn’t see myself needing in the future because my next residence will probably be an apartment. One computer went into storage. The second television set that was kept in the bedroom for guests, I sold for cheap to a relative and I did the same with the second living room sofa.
It felt odd to see my house without a lot of the stuff inside of it that made it, well, mine. As a concession to myself, I left the artwork hanging on the walls, as if to say: This house might be up for sale, buster, but until you sign a check, it’s still my house, dagnabbit.
I lived with less stuff for a few weeks as the sale of the house went through, and except for a few moments when I wanted to watch a particular movie, I didn’t really miss the stuff all that much. Granted, I didn’t get rid of everything, I still had my Xbox for entertainment. I moved in with some friends after selling the house, and most of the stuff that I had kept in storage, remained there. The experience made me realize that I can do without quite a bit of stuff, so maybe I’m not doing that bad, after all.
I think we need find a new word to describe the storage units that garages seem to inevitably become. Instead of being a place to store a vehicle, garages have become a place to keep the needless things in our lives; old things that will likely never be used again and yet, they are the things that we just can’t bear to part with. I won’t lie, though. Once I get life squared away and I’m back at my own place, those needless things will be back in my life, taking up space. Or maybe not. After all, I probably won’t have a garage to keep them in, and paying somebody to keep my needless things stashed away kind of sucks.
This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I make a run to my storage unit. If you’d like to hear or read more of my words visit Eduardo Soliz dot com. Thank you for listening!
As the writer in this story is about to learn, just because someone else has a different job than you do doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier. Featured in Fuzzy Words, this furry fracas is titled “Where Credit Is Due.”
The weasel’s tail swished back and forth rapidly as he paced back and forth in his living room with a cell phone held up to one ear. “The script is done, Mark, but I can’t seem to get the songs down, and well, you can’t have a musical without music, right?” He joked in a feeble attempt to appease the angry producer he was speaking with.
Mark was not pleased at William’s attempt at humor, and he let the nervous weasel know: “This is not the time for jokes, Will! I am going to be out several thousand dollars for your advance, not to mention a lot more if you don’t give me a script to put on! It’s been nine months! What’s going on in that head of yours? Are you homesick? Girl trouble? Guy trouble?”
William hesitated before answering. “Do you really want to know, Mark?”
Mark regained some of his composure and eagerly replied, “Well. Yeah, Will. This delay isn’t doing either one of us any good, so…so let’s talk it through and figure this thing out for both our sakes. What’s eating you, man?”
William let out a heavy sigh before answering: “Well, it’s that, uh, I haven’t seen my Muse lately, and, well, I’m pretty useless without her.”
This time, a flabbergasted Mark hesitated briefly before speaking. “Whoa. I did not just hear that. Did you say your Muse?” he asked with a nervous laugh.
“Yeah. My Muse…”
“WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING, WILL? That has to be THE nuttiest thing I’ve heard in all my years working on Barkway! Have you lost your mind? You know what? Don’t answer that, ‘cause I think I already know. I need a finished script by the end of next week, or you are finished working in this town, do you understand me? FINISHED. Nobody will touch you with a twenty-foot leash after I’m done. Get some help and get it done, Will!”
Even the beep that William heard as Mark ended the call sounded angry. William collapsed onto his living room sofa, closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh. My career is over, William thought as he dropped his cell phone onto the carpeted floor and contemplated the dreary future ahead of him.
After a few moments, he opened his eyes to find her there. His Muse. She was a short, sprightly thing: a mink almost completely covered in brown fur except for her muzzle, which was white. She stood over him and looked down at William with a big goofy grin on her face. William stared back for a few moments before the Muse finally broke the silence.
“Hi-eee!” she cheerfully said as she waved a hand in front of William’s face. In response, he groaned and rubbed his eyes before sitting up on the sofa. This was not the reaction that the Muse was expecting, and she began to pout: “Hey, I thought that you’d be happy to see me, Willie!”
“It’s William, and just where have you been?” an agitated William answered. “I need to finish this play because I’ve got a producer breathing down my neck, and if I don’t get it done, he’s going to want his advance back. You know, the one I already used to pay my rent.”
The shocked Muse took a step back. She opened her mouth to speak, but William cut her off:
“What is it with you, anyway? You’re never there when I need you. You pop up at the worst possible times, or at the last minute, like now. You can’t show up whenever I’m sitting at my laptop, you know, WHEN I’M TRYING TO WRITE. No, that makes too much sense. Instead, you pop up whenever you feel like it, like when I’m in the shower, or when I can’t sleep at two in the morning, or when I’m out on a date. I then have to drop whatever it is I’m doing so I can jot something down because I have NO DOGGONE IDEA when you’re going to decide to grace me with your presence again!”
For a moment the Muse looked as if she were about to burst into tears. Instead, she regained her composure, took a deep breath, stepped towards William, and unleashed a tirade of her own:
“Oh, so you think it’s so easy to do MY job? You think you’re the ONLY so-called ‘creative’ person that needs a little extra help every now and then? Well, let me tell you, Buddy, you AREN’T. Every day, I have to help loads of people just like you finish their books or their poems or their scripts or their songs or their paintings or their sculptures. Every. Single. Day. It never ends: ‘I’m on a deadline!’ ‘My assignment is due next week!’ “My mom’s birthday is tomorrow!’ ‘Help me!’
So I show up, inspire somebody, and what I get for my trouble? Nothing! Nada, zero, zip, zilch. When people say: ‘Oh, what a wonderful work of art,’ does the artist ever mention me? No. Do you ever hear somebody say, ‘Thank you, Muse,’ in an acceptance speech? NO! I-I don’t even get residuals!”
A bewildered William interrupted her. “But you’re a Muse…what would you even do with money?” He asked.
“SHUT UP!” she snapped back. “It’s the principle!” she said, turning away from William.
William started to approach the Muse, but since her long fluffy tail was in the way, he walked around to face her.
“So you’re just looking for some recognition, huh?” William asked.
“Just a little would be nice.” The Muse said coyly.
William thought for a moment, and then his face lit up. He enthusiastically asked the Muse, “What if, I were to write a play with you in it?”
The Muse pointed a finger at herself before speaking. “With little old me?” she said with feigned modesty.
“Sure. It will be…” William took a step back, assumed a dramatic pose and spoke as if he were narrating a movie trailer: “The inspirational tale of a guy who’s down on his luck. He can’t get a break, and just when he’s hit rock bottom and things can’t get any worse…” he stopped to point at the Muse with both hands, “His Muse appears out of the blue and saves his tail!”
“Yay!” chirped the Muse in a delighted tone, clapping her hands as she excitedly hopped up and down on both feet. “I’d like that, Willie. I really would. Have you thought of a name for it yet?”
William stifled a laugh before answering: “What else could I call it? Un-a-mused!”
With a smile and a wink, the Muse replied, “Yeah, I think I’ll let you take the credit for that one, Willie!”
Inspiration is where you find it, Dear Listeners, that is, assuming it doesn’t find you first. For more super-short, super-silly stories, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com. This has been Super-Short Storytime, and remember, listeners; always cite your sources!
Author’s note: This was posted to LinkedIn a few years ago.
We have shelves in our bathrooms at the office above the sinks. Crazy it sounds, those shelves are a great analogy for what is wrong at the company I work for.
Our office bathrooms didn’t always have shelves, mind you. Some manager or facilities person a few years ago decided: ‘It would be nice if we had shelves in the bathroom so people can place things there while they take care of their business.’ It’s a good idea, so a shelf was installed. Huzzah!
Things went well for a few months, then one day I noticed the shelf was starting to lean forward slightly, as if it were coming off from the wall. Uh-oh. I stopped using it because I didn’t want my coffee mug to fall into the sink when the shelf finally gave way.
It eventually did break, and for about a week we were once again shelf-less. It was re-installed and life was good again, but after a few more months, it started to lean forward and fell off the wall again.
While I have managed some minor home repairs myself, I’m not going to claim to be Tim the Tool-Man. If I shelf I installed gave way, then okay, fine, maybe I did something wrong or overlooked something that a professional would know to do from experience. How was it that our professional facilities people couldn’t install a simple shelf? A few months later, after we remodeled our building, I got my answer…
There are three brackets holding the shelf in place. Each bracket should have two screws, but for whatever bone-headed reason, only one gets put in. Why? Was the facilities guy in a hurry? Are screws that expensive? My best guess is that the guy figured one screw is ‘good enough.’
Whatever the reason, the job wasn’t done right the first time, and the shelf inevitably has to be repaired. Surely the guy learns that ‘gee, maybe I should do the job right this time and use two screws so this doesn’t happen again.’
Nope! He makes the same mistake again, and as you can see by the picture above (different shelf but you get the idea) he’ll be eventually repairing it again. Even then, the damage has been done and he’ll likely continue ad infinitum.
This is a perfect analogy for how my company does things:
Get a good idea and implement it.
Don’t make the product the right way the first time, but make it ‘good enough.’
Attempt to fix problems after customers complain of issues.
The fixes are also ‘good enough.’
Everything is fine for a while, but the problems inevitably return and the damage has been done in loss of customer confidence and goodwill.
Go back to step 3 and repeat.
So yeah, that’s the way things work (or rather, don’t work) at my office.
I’m just wondering what the facilities guy is going to do when he runs out of wall space. He should have plenty of screws, at least.