Tuesday, August 8, 2006

More Minor Tragedies

I've been thinking for some time about some of the little things in the world that count as (or that should count as) tragic. (See my previous post about "Walking on Sunshine".) Note: These are not seriously tragic issues that are about real human suffering. They are minor things that don't have any really major implications. They are minor tragedies, with the emphasis on "minor".

Tops on my list: Churches that have "hours of operation". There is something horrible about the notion that churches and synagogues (and mosques, I assume) have locks on their doors and that certain people hold the keys and that the doors are sometimes locked. It's a symptom of the world we live in, and I understand it. However, I believe in my heart that this is a very sad state of affairs. These places should offer sanctuary. They should be places of refuge. That's not a part-time endeavour. To my way of thinking, it's an all-or-nothing proposition. (All-or-nothing in terms of when this sanctuary is offered, not all-or-nothing in terms of what the refuge should be offered for.) I firmly believe that criminals should be brought to justice, and that means that a church should not offer protection from the law. However, in terms of offering refuge from the pressures of the world, I believe that a church should serve its function at 3.45 a.m., just as well as it should at noon or at 2.54 p.m.

Next on my list: Ronnie Spector's vocals on The Ronettes' version of "Frosty the Snowman". I can't really explain why, but it's absolutely heartwrenching to me. The song is kind of a happy song, filled with all that childlike wonder and Christmastime joy. And Phil Spector's "wall of sound" is almost the very definition of "joyful noise". How could something so positively exuberant possibly land on my list of "minor tragedies"? I'm not really sure. But what I am sure of is that that vocal just kills me every time! No kidding: it brings me to the verge of tears.

And last for now: The third part of the bell ringer joke. For years, we've been hearing that the third part of the joke is a major letdown after the pure comic genius of the first two parts. Nobody who had heard the third part would ever even tell us the third part, because either (a) "it's so bad that it isn't worth repeating" or (b) "it was so bad that I forgot what it was". In previous posts, I've mentioned two uncles. This "I forgot it" excuse was offered up by uncle #3. Well, a couple of days ago, Beth got it into her head to try to track down the third part on the internet. What she dug up was so abominable that it lived up (down?) to all the hype (anti-hype?). So I forwarded it to my uncle, who responded that not only was it not what he had heard, but that it was actually better than what he had heard. So he did some digging of his own and produced an alternative third part. Frankly, both versions are so horrible that they can't adequately be described. I'm hard-pressed to judge which of the two is worse. In either case, the third part of the joke is third on my list of "minor tragedies".

What the world needs, I think, is something along the lines of the Ansari X Prize, but with the goal of getting a genuinely funny third bell ringer joke. It may take a few years of our finest minds working towards the solution, but I think it can probably be done. It's a noble goal. Too bad I'm not independently wealthy!


  1. Congratulations for winning the Blog Awards of the Day.

  2. Thanks very much! I'm really quite excited by the honor.

    I'm hoping it will increase my readership, and I hope you (and others) enjoy reading it.

    Have a wonderful day!