Sunday, December 11, 2011

Making Sacrifices

In the wake of the recent Chinese ban on unlicensed reincarnation and the Bangkok Metropolitan District's ceremony to appease the river Goddess Ka Kang (see what you miss if you don't follow this blog?), Reuters reports another interesting religious development: Just a few days ago, officials of Nepal's state-run airline sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, because the airline was having trouble with one of its Boeing 757s.

Assuming for the moment that this approach is not suggested in the Boeing Users Manual, I think the airline officials deserve credit for relying on a traditional and time-tested problem-solving method. In the days since the Old Testament, we in the West have devalued the idea of sacrifices, which is kind of a shame. 

The proposition that the universe is run by deities who respond positively to the death of small, and sometimes not-so-small, animals actually explains quite a lot about modern life. Career uninspiring?  Marriage not what you'd hoped?  Having a bad day?  Why would you expect anything else, when the Powers That Be can only be cheered up by the intentional destruction of little furry things and it's been centuries since they were fed?  They're probably pissed off that cable television hasn't come up with The Sacrifice Channel, all-sacrifices all day long.

I'm beginning to integrate occasional sacrifices into my own life, just to see whether I can't get things running more smoothly. 

The problem is that the sacrifices we've read about are all for big things: winning a war, lifting a seige, stopping a river from flooding. I don't have problems of that magnitude, so there are no guidelines. I have to improvise. I'll report later on how these remedies work, but for the moment, here's what I'm doing.

To find my car keys: I allow a moth to fly into a flame. It wants to, anyway.

To get off the boiler-room calling list: I eat dinner in front of my dog without giving her anything. Well, I don't give her much. A little less than usual, I guess. Unless it's chicken. In fact, the calls aren't that much of a bother.

To avoid being seated next to an actor on an airplane: I trap several flies between the closed window and the screen and just let them buzz.

To prevent anyone from saying the phrase "hat trick" within my hearing: I cut out photos of ESPN commentators and fold them mercilessly.

To ward off accidental exposure to Simon Cowell: I make really terrifying faces at the squirrel who lives in the palm tree outside my bedroom window. (This works for Dick Cheney, too.)

To maintain my self-induced (at great personal expense) deafness to puns:  Big shoes in the back yard, walking really hard. Most of what I get would bite me if they got a chance.

To improve something when I rewrite it, instead of just making it longer: I write thirty adjectives on thirty tiny pieces of paper, put them in an ashtray, and burn them.

Obviously, I'm just starting out here. If this approach proves effective, I'll go to work on life's larger problems. On a recent trip to New York, I got into an elevator in one of the city's tallest buildings, with someone who had a bad case of gas. (By the way, if you ever want to verify Einstein's contention that time is relative, try this.) Averting something of this magnitude is in a much bigger sacrificial league, possibly requiring the involvement of vertebrates. It needs to be approached with considerable thought.  

Or maybe there's a book idea here: Creative Sacrifices for Daily Life: The Ancients' Guide to Personal Fulfillment and Painless Weight Loss, As Well As Better Taste in Clothes.  If this stuff works, I'll whip up a proposal.  Maybe even if it doesn't work.

Tim -- Sundays


  1. I'm laughing so hard I dare not step into an elevator.")))

  2. You're sacrificing me, Tim... er... you're slaying you're killing me.

    Well... you made me choke on my cereal.

  3. The question that has never been answered: How is it that no matter how intelligent, no matter how talented, no matter how mature, the male sense of humor doesn't progress beyond age 8?

    For car keys the mantra: something is lost and cannot be found, dear St. Anthony please look around. (personal experience indicates it works).

    Calling list: answer the phone using a non-existent language, speaking loudly.

    To avoid being seated next to an actor: No problem; first class will never be one of my experiences.

    "Hat trick"? - I live in the land of the Stanley Cup winning Boston Bruins. "Stanley Cup" is supposed to be said three times a day to encourage it to stay at the end of this season.

    I have no trouble avoiding Simon Cowell, I continue my stretch of avoiding reality shows at all cost. As to Dr. Strangelove, I wait for the day when he is indicted for crimes against humanity.

    Puns sneak up although I do avoid being in the back yard (sometimes there are snakes out there). As to writing, not a part of my daily experience. It seems the last one works in that there is never any sign of bad writing in anything I've come across.

  4. It's okay, Tim, so far it's all working, isn't it?

  5. Hi, Jeff -- Glad you found it funny. I'll find it funnier if it works.

    Everett, hope it was an inexpensive cereal and that you weren't directly over your keyboard.

    Beth -- there are actually TWO unanswerable questions: Why doesn't male humor progress beyond the age of eight, and at what age does female humor develop? As to your solutions, they seem to be more labor-intensive than mine, and actors are not restricted to first class; maybe I wouldn't mind the phrase "hat trick" so much if anyone had ever explained it to me (please, everyone, don't), and Simon Cowell is everywhere. I've dreamed about him, but not since I started my program of regular ritual sacrifice.

    Lil -- it's working, but as I dispense with one irritant another pops up. I need a mutipurpose sacrifice. Working on something now, involving a very convincing stuffed hippopotamus.