by Rob Perez:
January means colder weather which means we get to set things on fire! Okay. Best fire practices include a fire pit or, in my case, a fireplace. Otherwise, it’s arson. Which is bad. Unless you’re an arsonist. Then, I hear, it’s like, better than drugs good. Still illegal. But I guess some people can’t help themselves. Hence, prisons.
On the other hand, a warming fire in the fireplace is not only legal but also cozy, heating the room, house, and, according to some, heart.
Just how do you make fire? Everyone is different. Really Ancient Man, for example, made fire with patience. He simply waited for lightning to strike a nearby tree or, less ideally, his friend Tog. Different Ancient Man waited for a volcano to erupt. A longer version of that game, however, was waiting for a meteorite to fall.
Middle paleolithic man, on the other hand, would make fire with flint and pyrite. There’s a word I dare you to finesse into a conversation today around the water cooler. “Yeah, their defense was good last night. Reminded me of that rock pyrite.”
I, however, am a modern man. I make fire (in the fireplace) with a lighter. I use small wood, make a pyramid. Underneath – I use a kindling. And here we will take a moment and get specific about kindling. Yes, kindling.
The kindling I turn to most is this column. Beyond Reason ignites fire with haste, vigor, and wit. But how does it compare to other columns? I ran some tests.
Before I continue, I want to assure you, the reader, these tests were conducted without any rigor at all. In my opinion, all the “rigorous” testing out there right now is a good way to pull a hammy or throw out a back. No, thank you. Thus, these tests are completely ad hoc and scarcely should be called “tests” at all. Here are my results: Political columns: I expected the opposite but Republican columns burned blue and democratic columns burned red. Thankfully, they both burned.
Self-help columns: With titles like: “Kindness is always fashionable”, these were objectively the most fun to burn.
Sports columns: Oft written on the couch, dense with opinions from folks who are both out of shape and possess minimal athleticism of their own, these columns, usually sandwiched between other sports columns. produced more smoke than fire.
Columns on the Economy: Paul Krugman’s columns in NYTs are a slow burn. This is good for winning Pulitzer Prizes, bad for kindling. They might just be too dense with ideas. And words. A good fire needs air which is why a great column to burn is… Gossip Columns: Written with the same nuance, insight, and perspective usually found in a high school paper, these columns with unknown sources are the most Sisyphean to burn but, strangely, not actually hot.
Advice Columns: What’s more satisfying to burn than other people’s problems? These things almost burned themselves. Almost. How does Beyond Reason stack up?
I believe it was Lao Tzu who said, “The column that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” Maybe. But, to my knowledge, Lao Tzu never burned Beyond Reason.
According to my “tests”, Beyond Reason defies Lao Tzu, physics, and perhaps math by burning twice as bright for thrice as long while emitting frice the heat. Beyond Reason burns like Rome in 64AD.
But why does Beyond Reason burn so well? Perhaps because the wit is dry, and ideas are explosive? Maybe the prose is airy, and the subtext is hot? Perhaps it’s just that the author smolders?
Some readers, on the other hand, contend that Beyond Reason is written to be burned. Golfers, however, say Beyond reason is best while it’s being burned yet Pickleballers contend that Beyond Reason is better after it’s been burned. Either way, I’m just glad they’re enjoying the column.
A more burning question is, why are there reports of Beyond Reason bursting into flames all on its own? Spontaneous combustion? Self-immolation? Who knows? Personally, I think the burning of Beyond Reason is akin to a Viking pyre funeral. Physically – it’s a form of cremation; emotionally – it brings a sense of closure.
The most combustible praise for this column comes from its most ardent readers. They liken Beyond Reason, when it’s at its very best, to a dumpster fire. Thank you. Thank you very much.