"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mr. Toast's Greatest Hits

Note: for best results, check the "Open links in new windows" box at the top of the page (just above "About Me") before continuing to read this article.

It's hard for me to believe, but in just a few days this blog will hit a significant milestone: the one-year mark. Frankly, when I posted the first entry here on October 4th, 2005 (at which time the masthead sported the catchy moniker "Name This Blog!") I had no idea what would become of it; was it to be a passing fancy of my interest, or would it become a significant outlet of creative expression for me? It's actually landed somewhere between those two extremes, but looking back over what I've written in the last twelve months, there are a few posts that stand out in my mind as fairly respectable. For anyone who might be new to this blog, this retrospective may give you a rough idea of what this "Mr. Toast" fellow has on his mind. And for those of you who have been with me for some time, let me thank you very much for your steadfast tolerance of my rants and ramblings. Whether you've taken the time to occasionally comment or not, I deeply appreciate you and hope this "Best of Toast" list includes some of your favorites. (I know this post was one that April liked.)

But on with the Year In Review. After getting over my blog's initial identity crisis, I realized that there was no doubt: I was going to hell. Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet, and I also managed to survive the Christmas Blahs. (Hopefully, this holiday season will be better.)

On a lighter note, the New Year kicked off with the bizarre tale of the Roamin' Gnome (To update the story, my friend eventually reported that his gnome had been abducted by a family member, and is safely back at home). Another favorite entry from January was my post regarding the flap over the controversial film Brokeback Mountain. Too bad no Hollywood script writer picked up any of my ideas; surely one or two of them had to have been a better concept for a movie than Snakes On A Plane.

Speaking of creativity, I have also yet to receive any royalty checks from my lyrics to The Bloggin' Blues. Maybe one of these days. If I ever decide to record it myself, at least I can play it on my very own radio station.

I like to think that this blog is a fun and informative spot on the Web to find out things you might not have otherwise heard about. For example, how else might you learn about such interesting Texas hysterical arty-facts as Dime Box and Dead Man's Hole? Or get a lesson on new and exciting ways to waste time on the Internet? Or how to write a cookie-winning haiku? Or hear about the ultimate college prank? Yes folks, this blog is a veritable wellspring of useless crap important cultural information.

One thing I am known for in real life is that now and then I tend to go off on a rant about whatever issue happens to push my hot-button, and this blog has certainly been no exception. A few things really piss me off: censorship in the media, for example, as well as conservative nose tweakers, and idiot politicians. Grrrrr.

Another topic I have written about occasionally in the past has been my adventures in that vast wasteland of fear, uncertainty and administrative bureaucracy known as the American Medical System. After some hesitation about whether I should even bring up the subject at all, I posted this article and a follow up about my diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. I wrote these two posts not knowing if I would be approved for a lung transplant -- and to be honest -- in a pessimistic frame of mind about my odds for long-term survival. Probably the lowest point for me, and certainly some of you as well, was the November 2005 death of Tanya Broden, a close friend of several blog readers. That sad event prompted this meditative post on the fragility of life, and also contributed six months later to a slightly more upbeat reflection on what it all means. Not that I know for sure, mind you, but my theory is as good a guess as any.

But putting the bad news behind, in May I was approved for transplant surgery, which prompted me to ponder the effect that a small electronic object might have on me. I am extremely fortunate that my health has continued to improve since then, as the experimental medication I'm taking for my lung condition is hopefully having a positive effect. Either that, or I am simply a freak of nature. Anything is possible, but I'm counting my blessings. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart any of you who have ever said a prayer or kind word on my behalf. I love you guys. Really.

The other big highlight of the past year for me was of course my Great Road Trip; driving over five thousand miles from Texas to New England and back in the Toastmobile (otherwise known as a 2003 Dodge Caravan). After a lenghthy planning phase I found myself actually standing at the Crossroads; fortunately I did not meet the Devil, however later in my travels I did encounter someone almost as fearsome -- The Pants Nazi! The trip allowed me to experience the joy of reconnecting with old friends in my former childhood home, and also included a perfect moment of Zen experienced on a tawdry yet beloved beach boardwalk in New Hampshire. All in all, the Toasted Tour 2006 was a rounding success.

Finally, I would like to recall a few posts which I modestly feel were among my best writing. I am often less than pleased with my meager efforts, and on the one hand it seems slightly pathetic that out of an entire year's work I can only pick three posts which I think are noteworthy. But on the other hand, when I first began this blog a year ago I didn't think it was likely that I'd have anything to say worth being proud of, so this still seems like an accomplishment to me. I rather liked my commentary from last October on the hazards of Schadenfreude. More recently, the Moussawi trial prompted this discourse on my concept of justice. And of all my posts, I thought my best was entitled "The Karma of Sex and War", which was even picked up by Topix.net, perhaps due to the site's localization of Antelope, Oregon (where part of the article was based).

So there you go -- the First Year of Toast in a nutshell. Many thanks to all of you for sharing it with me. I've made some great new friends as a result of this blog, and I hope the next year will be even more fun than this one. Salud!


  • At 9/28/2006 09:59:00 PM, Blogger bossann said…

    We've certainly enjoyed reading it. Keep up the good work! Thank you for this year in review. There were entries that I've read and some I hadn't. It's been a wild year...


  • At 9/29/2006 08:29:00 PM, Blogger April said…

    I don't know how i missed reading this post until now! i LOVE reading you blog. You're a good writer and I like your reports on worldly activities with the "mr. toast spin" and I defniately love seeing pics of you and your fam including the cats... which yes, are in my favorite post ever! I laughing AGAIN at that post :)


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