On and Off

Consider the light bulb. It’s smooth and round. Screws in and out easily. Operates with the flick of a switch and most importantly illuminates the darkness, saving us from all manner of evil nasties (things that go bump in the night) and worst of all, the dreaded boogie man. If you look back a few hundred years, people were eating and reading by the light emanating from wood fires, candles, oil lamps, fire flies, bio-luminescent moss and anything else that would create an absence of darkness.

Until that magical day in eighteen seventy-nine when Thomas Edison flipped a switch and …(insert car screeching to a halt effect here) …hold the phones… (I can say that since the telephone pre-dated the light bulb by three years)… You mean to tell me that we’ve been duped into believing Edison invented the light bulb for all these years and it was really Humphrey Davy in eighteen hundred six? I guess I’ll have to retract the “Hold the phones” comment. Sorry, Alexander, I honestly didn’t know that the light bulb had you by seventy years.

Coincidentally, this scenario mirrors the technique some authors employ when plying their trade. You’re in the middle of this exceptional novel, in tune with the storyline, the characters, and even the scenery and settings; in your mind, you have it all figured out–you know exactly where the author is going. As you near the ending, you’re rounding third and heading for home. With just a few pages left, you begin your slide and tag home plate. As you begin the last page, you realize that the author is out in left-center field. He has managed to throw you a curve that “The Babe” himself couldn’t hit. This is the moment when that exceptional novel turns into a great novel.

The next time you’re at a baseball game and you want to make a call, all you need to remember is that Dr. Martin Cooper invented the device we have all come to depend on: the cell phone. What does this have to do with light bulbs and landlines? Absolutely nothing. So grab a candle, tie a string between two tin-cans, and take the cheap way out.

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