Curmudgeon Corner: Words of wisdom

Just some of the many letters I receive urging me to "embrace life"

Just some of the many letters I receive urging me to “embrace life”

My daughter believes negativity leads to disease, so as you might imagine, my cantankerous disposition worries her. And she is definitely not happy this newspaper is “encouraging me” by calling my column Curmudgeon Corner and forwarding me hate mail from hippies upset with my December installment.

To try to counteract my carcinogenic choler, she sends me inspirational quotes in the mail. Here’s a sampling:


To the world you are one person, but to one person you could mean the world.

That person needs a hobby.

Reach for the moon… if you miss at least you’ll be among the stars.

This one almost makes sense if you don’t think about it.

Make today ridiculously amazing.

Is it just me, or has the language of today’s youth devolved into incoherent extremes? Everything is “awesome,” “amazing,” “incredible” or else “horrible,” “sucks,” “unbelievable.” Love or hate, nothing in between. Usually there’s a few expletive modifiers in there. People no longer enjoy studying science. They “f–king love science” (then they show you a picture of a colorful bird). Let’s dust off the old Webster’s and break down the phrase above. Make today (fine) — ridiculously (adv.) In a manner worthy of contemptuous merriment — amazing (adj.) confounding with fear, surprise or wonder. So my daughter wants me to make my day a confounding experience in which I may experience fear, surprise or wonder in a manner worthy of contemptuous merriment? I could never show my face at The Exchange again!

Everything happens for a reason.

Yes, and sometimes that reason is you’re a moron and you made bad choices.

Even if you fall you are still moving forward.

I found this one curious coming from an admitted Obama voter.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

What about my neighbor who leaned into a Mercedes in Manhattan and now lives off the settlement, spending his days smoking grass, blasting Creedence Clearwater Revival and playing slip-and-slide with scantily-clad young women? Maybe, you might say, deep inside he knows he did wrong and is fighting a battle with himself over his fallen nature. Well, I’ve gazed deep into his soul and I can tell you this is not the case. He’s got a whole superstructure of b.s. about how the guy driving the car was part of the “one percent” who got his money through “white privilege” (the young man in question is Caucasian, by the way) and some more ramblings about “The Koch Brothers” and “Rothchilds.” This man is convinced of his own rectitude, as the monsignor might say. He’s not fighting  a battle. He’s no Stonewall Jackson. I have no compunction about stealing his morning paper.

True friendship is when two people can walk in different directions, yet still remain side by side.

That sounds to me more like the horseplay my grandkids do on the arrival/departures conveyors at the airport than something deep and meaningful about friendship.


Another critic of mine

I ran into a friend’s wife at the Mountain View Market recently. She said she found my column “droll,” but asked why I use my “bully pulpit” to “catalogue particular prejudices” and “remonstrate against life’s minor annoyances and your own pet peeves.” (Leave it to this spunky old dame to sum up a literary life in a few choice phrases!) She went on to inveigh against newspapers generally for their rotten insistence on reporting on every misdeed of the poor unfortunate souls of our community, the sad state of those in distress and every disagreement among our chosen representatives while ignoring all the “good news” that happens each week.

I was reminded of a quote from G.K. Chesterton:

“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, ‘Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,’ or ‘Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.’ They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.”


I give ‘good news’ a try

What might a Saugerties paper composed entirely of positivity be like? Here are 10 headlines that could be in this week’s paper instead of the usual calumny.

  1. Saugerties, Along With Rest of Planet, Continues to Enjoy Privileged Temperate Position in Solar System.
  2. Thousands of Saugertiesians Manage to Avoid Arrest for Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, a Misdemeanor
  3. Saugerties Not Smote by God Despite Occasional Sinning
  4. Saugerties Homes Kept a Toasty 72 Degrees Despite Frozen Hellscape Outdoors
  5. Saugerties Pets Cute
  6. Town Board Meeting a Triumph in Principle of Self-Government by Universal Suffrage, Culmination of Enlightenment Movement
  7. Saugerties Veterans Honored (this already happens five or six times a year, but it could be a weekly installment)
  8. Saugerties Oxygen Supply Stable
  9. Saugerties Basketball Team Falls Short, But Only True Failure Is Giving Up (thanks to my daughter’s letters for that one!)
  10. Jimmy Fallon King of Late Night


Rod Selway’s column appears irregularly.