Hitting the Big
by Mad Dog
Stephen King can churn out a book faster than I can fall
back asleep thinking about how I really should consider turning the
computer on. Sad, isnít it?
||This is my 500th column.
Thatís a lot of words, about 450,000 of them to be exact. Okay,
thatís not exact, but itís as exact as it needs to be considering I
used the word ďaboutĒ as a qualifier. While itís true many of the
words are repeated ó hey, you didnít really think I used 450,000
different words, did you? ó I still had to type each one of them. And
put them in order. That is, after all, what writing is about. After all,
I didnít invent many of the words ó at least none that became a
popular catch phrase, ended up as the state motto on a license plate, or
were included in the latest edition of the dictionary ó so it really
comes down to choosing the words and putting them in whatís hopefully
a new order. I feel I did a good job, not so much because I think any of
it was so wonderful, but because I never heard from a lawyer threatening
a plagiarism or copyright lawsuit. Trust me, nothing says a job well
done like the lack of a subpoena.
It actually feels more impressive to
talk about 500 columns than 450,000 words. After all, Stephen Kingís The
Stand, any speech by Bill Clinton, and the Oxford English
Dictionary are longer than that and none of them took 10 years to be
written. Truth be told, Stephen King can churn out a book faster than I
can fall back asleep thinking about how I really should consider turning
the computer on. Sad, isnít it?
Five hundred is a nice round milestone number, though
personally I prefer the binary 111110100 since it looks even more
|| Even the
Bible is longer, clocking in at 783,137 words. While this is about 75%
more words than Iíve packed into my columns, all I can say is big
deal. I mean, if an Intelligent Designer can create such complex things
as the universe, the platypus, chocolate covered pretzels stuffed with
peanut butter, and women, how impressive is it that he/she/it also wrote
a long book? I mean, really, itís not as if I.D. has to work full time
to put food on the table. You want food ó poof! ó youíve got it.
Baby needs new shoes ó voila! ó hereís a pair of black Dolce &
Gabbana pumps in size 7B. You want another sequel to American Pie
ó poof! ó direct to DVD. Hey, no one can win them all.
not forget too that I cranked out 450,000 words without putting
ďestĒ and ďethĒ at the end of every third word so you can
actually read my columns aloud without sounding like youíre lisping. I
can also document the absurd and unbelievable stories I relate. Waters
parting? Bushes that werenít the president spontaneously combusting?
People turning into salt licks? Prove it! I also donít waste a lot of
the time that I could be using to educate, inform, and entertain by
telling you not to do this, that and the 6,468 other commandments that
are in the Bible and roundly ignored by everyone, most of all pompous
zealots. Nor do I tell you that youíre going to hell if you donít
listen to me. Heck, I figure you already know that.
it is that 4 million people read Readerís Digest every month
while my mother canít even remember to check out my column when I
remind her every week? Hey, that was rhetorical.
|| Five hundred
is a nice round milestone number, though personally I prefer the binary
111110100 since it looks even more impressive. Itís an important part
of the Fortune 500 list of the countryís largest corporations not in
bankruptcy or under indictment, the Indianapolis 500, the S&P 500,
and of course itís the magic goal of home run hitters everywhere.
Iím talking about the number of home runs hit in a career, not the
optimum milligrams of steroids to be taken daily to attain that
goal. Peter Paul and Mary liked the number, having had a hit when they
sang about 500 miles. So did The Proclaimers. And itís the distance in
miles between Chicago and Pittsburgh, though that doesnít mean
thereís a good reason to drive it. At least not in that direction.
shot of 500 pride was crushed recently when I learned that Readerís
Digest (motto: ďAll the news, only less of itĒ) had published
its 1000th issue. Now thatís an impressive number. Luckily the
feelings of inadequacy didnít last long once I realized it took them
83 years to reach that milestone while I wrote my 500 columns in only 10
years. Personally, I think thatís much more impressive. Then again if
I donít think that who will? I do have to wonder, though, why it is
that 4 million people read Readerís Digest every month while my
mother canít even remember to check out my column when I remind her
every week. Hey, that was rhetorical. Letís move on, why donít we.
Itís time to stop patting myself on
the back and get started on writing the next 500. It shouldnít be
difficult. After all, there are 616,500 words in the Oxford English
Dictionary, of which about 200,000 are in common use. They say an
educated person only has a vocabulary of 20,000 of these. The way I
figure it, that leaves me a lot of different orders in which to put the
words. And after all, isnít that what itís all about?
©2005 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them. All 500 of them.