Sunday, December 21, 2008

Burning Sensation

When will folks stop fixing what isn't broken? I heard today that a new version of the Yule Log exists. Some young executive thinks if it looks more like a cartoon of a gas log and is accompanied with soundtracks of old radio shows it'll be better. Different isn't always better.
There is something so pure about 5 hours of watching the log burn. Like many, my friends and I would savor the moment a poker held by a mysterious hand would invade the serenity of the scene and turn the log! The other mystery is why the simple vision of a fireplace with a log burning became so popular. Probably a reaction to all the consumption oriented messages that have become the holidays. I actually like the idea of listening to old radio shows--The Christmas version of the Jack Benny Program, Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy. Item: Amos and Andy was so popular in its heyday, that Macy's had to pipe it in during peak Christmas shopping hours to get people out of their homes and into the store. Pre TV America has some fascinating stories to tell.
I'm not going to get into a young people just don't get it if they mess with the Yule Log thing. But that's the truth. Anyone at any age can see that changing the vision and expectations of that perfect fireplace scene is not a good idea. Trouble is, that young executive can and probably will make the switch. Of course then we'll have competing logs burning with various styles of music or soundtrack, flame and log color, real fire v. gas jets...the American way.
From Kindling to Kindle
While I'm at it, a quick word about another misguided attempt to make things better: the Kindle. Oh I know that one day people won't remember what real books looked like. Fortunately not in my lifetime. What fascinates me is why someone would want to read books digitally? Don't they see what's lost and gained? Apparently not. Online reading gets to me rather quickly. Blog postings should be no more than 1500 words. That's what makes them useful and succinct. Books, however, should be a s long as they need to be. They are wonderfully adaptive and diverse. They can have colorful covers, seductive textures, and evidence of human hands all over them. I have a friend who insists on spending the night with her favorite books nearby. When she finishes something new that she has thoroughly enjoyed, it stays in the room with her like a lover for a few days. In my view, put the Kindle in with the artificial yule log and click both off.

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