Some things that cannot be improved upon

I was doing a crossword puzzle today, and a certain character from a certain magazine was one of the clues. When I realized the answer, it hit me that this character perfectly suited the image the magazine wanted to project. This led me to think of other perfect examples of creative expression. Here are a few that entered my mind. What are yours?

  1. The sly, mocking, knowing grin of Alfred E. Neuman. Could MAD Magazine have been a success without him? Can you even think of MAD without seeing his smirking mug?

  2. The song, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”. John Fogerty wrote many great songs, but there’s something about this one. I can’t explain it, but the melody seems like it always existed, and Fogerty and CCR merely put it into recorded form for the first time.

  3. Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition No.8, 1923. My eighth grade art teacher had us students make an abstract ink drawing, and tried to explain to us how the various forms should balance each other out to create a harmonious, beautiful whole. I had no idea what she was talking about. She should have shown us this painting.

  4. Ray Charles singing “The Sun’s Gonna Shine Again”. Listen to some of it here. Bring a credit card, because I’m quite sure you’ll want it.

  5. Truman Capote’s short story, “A Christmas Memory”. Sentimental to its core, but don’t let that dissuade you (as if sentimentality was a bad thing).

Way back in the 1930s a skinny little guy named Nat King Cole recorded a Hoagy Carmichael song named “Stardust”. He left a swath of very impressive songs over the next few decades, and other people also created renditions of “Stardust”, but it was him at his best, and he was it at its best.

In 1965, for unknown reasons, the Pontiac Motor Division was permitted to release a Bonneville that, if fully outfitted, surpassed the Cadillac Division’s most luxurious offerings in a massive and comfortable sedan that was available stock from factory with a 421 high output 10.75:1 high compression engine with SD aluminum pistons, with three deuces lined up in a row on the six-pack manifold, producing nearly 400 1965-vintage horses in front of a TurboHydramatic 3 and the positraction 3.08 rear end. Leather six-way electrically adjustable bench seats. Real wood (albeit veneer, it DID grow on trees) in the dash. High quality slender-line chromium everywhere. Electric windows for all four doors with all-door driver-side control. Adjustable exterior side mirror. Automatic headlight dimmer. Stereo sound. This is 1965 we’re talking about here. If you floored it on flat ground it would shift from second to third around 103 mph. And squeak a little rubber doing it.

Once upon a time there was this successful pop fiction author who aspired to write a bit of Literature with the proverbial capital “L” while remaining true to his horror roots. He wrote this totally riveting tale of an alcoholic writer and teacher who went off to Colorado with his wife and young son on a last-chance employment opportunity and to write a play, but the play kept reflecting real life and vice versa; the put-upon and randomly struck-out-against and clueless character in his play drew his sympathy more and more as he himself became wrapped up in processes he did not understand…were they supernatural aspects of the hotel? Characterological disorders of the deteriorating alcoholic going stir-crazy in isolation with his little family? Seeing it all through the eyes of the imaginative 5 year old, can WE ever know? Stephen King’s The Stand ranks as one of the true American horror classics and is a definite nominee for king of the genre, and also remains the best thing he ever wrote.

System 4, circa 1987, with Switcher, on an internal hard drive Macintosh SE SuperDrive, with SuperPaint, FileMaker Plus, Microsoft Excel, Ashton-Tate FullWrite, fonts down to your kneecaps and new ones created with Fontastic, DeskZap, DiskInfo, HyperCard, CricketDraw, Aldus PageMaker, and an AppleTalk network that let you share a LaserWriter and print professional-quality WYSIWYG at will. A DaynaFile to read PC 5.25" floppies. Apple File Exchange to copy items to and from PC formatted diskettes (5.25 or 3.5). This was back when the PC users were still using WordPerfect 4.2, not even 5.1 yet, do you remember 4.2? The PC has come a long way since, and the Mac has made incremental progress, but this was when the gulf was the widest. Launching Switcher and running multiple GUI programs in 1987. Quitting Switcher to give all the RAM to one hungry program with no overhead remaining. Oceans of RAM later, I still can’t forgive the designers of System 6 and System 7 for not understanding why you wouldn’t want to drop back OUT of the world of multitasking at will without rebooting.

Autumn in the North American northeast. Incredible clear-blue skies with rusty-red autumn leaves and golden yellow autumn leaves and bronze-brown autumn leaves superimposed against it. No better weather or place or opportunity for falling in love. Everyone ought to fall in love in the North American northeast in Autumn at least once. Not only is autumn anywhere else inferior (even the Rocky Mountain aspens can’t hold a candle), falling in love in any other context is inferior. If you have the hots for someone, take her or him to New York or Boston or New Jersey or Maine or Nova Scotia or New Hampshire in the peak of the fall colors. Really.

There’s a bunch of undoubtedly devoted monks somewhere in Germany in a place called Külmbacher, or possibly just Külmbach. In their spare time, between their meditations, they brew a substance called Külmbachder Reichelsbruäu. I believe they do it in light (helles) and dark (dunkles). The dark beer immediately overturns all distinctions between heaven and hell. God and the Devil would wait in line to fill their flagrons with this delicious stuff, and after the first glass would be joking with each other while they waited. All other beers can but aspire to it.

I know it’s pedantic, but is the unimprovable version of the Stand the edited or unedited?

My post is what is, unfortunately uneditable. That should read The Shining, not The Stand.