Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Zombie, Slow Down!

Fast zombies are not scary. Strong zombies are not scary. Smart zombies are not scary.

Give me the classic zombie. Vacant stare. Groaning. Above all - slow. What is it that people think we're supposed to be scared of, within the zombie concept? It isn't the fearsome individual physical capabilities of the zombie horde! Otherwise, we'd have horror movies about people being overrun by Olympic athletes.

Jeez.

The horror of a zombie outbreak is what you could become. You could become one of them. The more deteriorated, the more unhuman, the further from you yourself that they are...the more alien they are. The more horrific the idea of joining them becomes. That horror consists in the thought of becoming something so completely, revoltingly other, something as far from the self you know - the reasoning, caring, thinking human being that you are - as far from that as it is possible to picture yourself becoming. To know that your own body would continue on, that your own eyes would continue staring out - but in the service of an inhuman, insatiable, mindless hunger for murder and flesh!

The gap is what's important.

As you close the gap between what a zombie is cabable of and what a human can do...the quicker, the more capable, the more comparable to a human level of function the zombie becomes, the less scary becoming one seems.

And the horror of the concept is what's eviscerated.

Because what you could potentially become...well, it doesn't seem all that bad now! Hell, there are even movies where the zombies are able to learn, coordinate, develop and cultivate intellect! What is there to be afraid of anymore? It's just another alternative lifestyle (apart from the "life-" part). Plenty of Goth kids might volunteer to get bitten, at that point. Witness what has become of vampires.

These modern horror directors, with their "super-zombies" - vaulting and racing after the humans with pro-athlete zeal - shit, what's wrong with becoming one of THOSE? That corpse goes faster than I do! That's a damn upgrade!

I mean, sure, the cannibalism part might seem a bit off-putting. But a little dietary peccadillo like that hardly rises to the level of real, soul-jarring horror. Nothing compared to the horror of being taken over, being made over into something totally alien, something totally inhuman, something utterly abhorrent. Something clumsy and slow. Something that doesn't even know how to use a doorknob, for sake's sake.

Now that's scary.

GAY???

I don't understand this whole thing with being gay. This whole obsession with who is and who isn't gay. A lot of people seem to have this weird stake invested in whether public figures or other celebrities are gay. It's like, they have an idea that one of them is, and then they become impatient with that person: "He or She should just Come Out and Admit It!"

Why the heck are they so invested in this? Who cares? Who cares if anyone is gay? Am I gay?? WHO CARES!! Why should I or anyone else care whether I am gay? What possible difference could it make to me? Or them?

I've known I was gay from a very young age. 7, I think. Only I thought it meant something else. Part of the confusion was that I looked it up in the dictionary. You see, dictionaries back then didn't tell the whole tale. They kind of glossed it over, a little bit. So I was gay some days, and some days, I wasn't feeling so gay. And I was comfortable with that. I was perfectly secure in that, and with myself, and as a person.

I still feel that way today. And when anyone asks me whether I am gay, I say proudly: "not that it's any of your business, but yes. Today I am very gay. Yesterday I was worn down and oppressed by cares and stress. But today I am gay."

But even having to answer the question itself tends to take the edge off my gaiety. Because, why do they even have to ask? When I'm gay, they should be able to tell that I am gay - just by the way I cavort and traipse!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Return of the Conquering Chrono-Hero Part 1: The Inevitability of Consequences

So my time machine worked! I just got back. Thanks to my timely intervention, the Union has now won the Civil War!

Did anything else change?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thoughts on Race and other -Isms

However, having said that, I do think people have come a long way in a short time in terms of intolerance and prejudice. Or rather, I should say, in terms of intolerance towards prejudice, intolerance towards bigotry. A lot of people claim that bigotry is just as bad as it ever was - only it's been driven underground.

Ridiculous. The fact that it cannot survive above-ground represents an almost complete victory.

I'll lay it out for you.

Today, fervent racism is largely limited to fringe groups, hobbyists. People with a weird nostalgic interest in benighted bullshit attitudes. And every one of them knows (possibly, cherishes) the fact that they are essentially a pariah, when it comes to those views. They know what happens to people who express views like that publicly. They know that fight is already lost. They know they're on the side of the losers. And they've already knuckled under. They won't even dispute it anymore! They just...keep it to themselves.

Rightly so. That's where that shit belongs, if it can be said to belong anywhere.

So the racists are losers, and they know they are losers. They even admit as much, by the degree to which they've shut up in public! Everyone knows they're still out there, shooting the shit with their trusted cohorts, in secrecy and cowardice. But no amount of that will keep hope alive for their cause. The pervasive sense of loserism attached to being a racist makes it almost impossible for true believers to gain converts - or even pass their beliefs on to their own kids! No matter how low-key they try to slide it, the kid will sniff it out. Or if they try to push it hard, the kid will go along to get along - but the kid will secretly be embarrassed, even ashamed by the clanging wrongness of their parents' bigoted views. Because AS LONG AS THESE VIEWS CANNOT BE EXPRESSED IN PUBLIC, any child will automatically know that #1 the views in question are indefensible, and #2, those who espouse them in secret are a bunch of cowards.

Man, you'd be ashamed, wouldn't you? If your parents were cowards? Years later, the kid will play it up for sympathy: "yeah, my dad was a racist. It was pretty awful growing up in that house." Yup. It was, kid. There, there.

Now contrast all of that with back in the day: you had a majority of the populace who were perfectly comfortable with racist views being expressed in public. This was a climate wherein most people might not have been bigots per se, but they didn't find it objectionable when others vented their bigotry. It was countenanced. That casual acceptance was a huge boost to the power, the spread, and the descent of prejudices! Without that fertile soil of tolerance in which to grow, bigotry is now withering on the vine.

True, we still have an awful lot of casual racists (and many more casual sexists). But the point is: they know they have to keep it to themselves, for their own good. And ultimately, that means that they have tacitly conceded that it's wrong (or at least, indefensible).

Now that is a good thing. That is a very good thing.

I'm not saying the fight's over. It's not. But the fight is won. There will be further acts of violence. Scumbags acting out of frustration, alone or in concert. But there can be now no reversal. The cause - for racists - is lost. And everyone in the country, including racists themselves, knows that they are the FUCKING LOSERS.

I say: tolerance is overrated as a virtue. Bully's on the ground - let's kick him when he's down!

I am too needy.

Maybe needy isn't the word. I don't know what it is. I'm always experiencing these powerful urges to reach out to people in a way that will probably only make them uncomfortable. The people who make my life bearable, you know? People who I do need in my life and who just...people who I love. I want to tell them how much they mean to me, and there's no really socially acceptable pretext for me to express that. To just come out and say it. But that's the urge I have. I fear that they have no idea how much they mean to me. And they probably do care for me too! I mean, that's stupid - I know they do. Or at least appreciate having me around, but to have me make a big point out of it would clearly...I mean, sure, I know that would not be viewed as a comfortable thing to do. The reaction, even if they on the surface say "Oh, yeah, sure...definitely, yeah - you too!" - inside they are going to feel "and you're telling me this now why?"

It's going to put them off.

Why do I even keep feeling the need to share this weird, needy, cripplingly...clingy feeling? I never do - I fight it down every time. Why does it keep welling back up? I know this person or that person neither needs nor wants to have me make some big point of what they mean to me.

But what if they have no idea? Shouldn't they know?

What if nobody knows.




I LOVE YOU ALL

Questions To Ask 'Em When You Buy A New Car

Questions to ask 'em when you buy a new car:

* "Do the valve-adjusted wheel struts auto-correct automatically on a forced stop?"

* "Does it have a 358 V-Tram platinum-crank ram shaft?"

* "What about twin-pipe double-cam dual exhaust...on both sides?"

It's not going to have any of those things, but after you have humiliated the salesperson with your superior acuity in matters of car-savvy know-how, he will knock $300 off the price of the Tru-Coat.

Heck of a sealant, that Tru-Coat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hey, Viruses: Is That The Best You Got?

Viruses SUCK. Viruses are PATHETIC. What does a virus do? It gets inside your computer and seizes control of the e-machinery, twisting the mechanism to suit its own twisted ends, and then it does...what? What does it do with that purloined might, how does it capitalize on that ill-gotten abuse of another person's computing power? It raids your contacts and sends everybody a spam about prescription drugs?

WHO THE FUCK CARES?! Who the hell is that going to fool, or even inconvenience? It'll just be, "yo, bud, I think you got a virus." "Oh, sorry! Thanks for the tipoff. I'll get it cleaned out."

How totally weak - you're going to tell me the best you can come up with is to spam people, or self-propagate, or wipe my hard drive? Big whup, it's not like any of that is going to actually get me in any hot water.

How about some REAL viruses, how about some viruses that could actually make life difficult for some people?

How about:
* a virus that blind cc's your boss on all your outgoing personal e-mails?

* a virus that scans through all your Word documents and deletes all instances of the space bar?

* a virus that, as your e-mail passes through your 'Outbox' in the moment after you hit 'Send', scans through your message text and randomly re-arranges the order of all prepositions contained therein? Yielding results such as: "a virus that, through your e-mail passes of your 'Outbox' therein the moment in you hit 'Send', scans your message and randomly re-arranges the order after all prepositions contained as?"

* a virus that scans the message text of outgoing messages and inserts one additional word ("fucking") before any mildly negative adjective such as "unexpected," "unfortunate," "disappointing," "troublesome," "problematic" or the ever-popular "regrettable"? Note: the virus would only drop one f-bomb per e-mail. Otherwise: tipoff city.

* a virus that goes through all the names in your contacts with a spell-checker and changes the "Display As" name to the best spell-check suggestion? I tried this with the names in mine and landed such winners as Ms. Moses Karate, Ms. Abounded Lover, Mr. Eros Ingrate, and Mr. Febrile Validations!

* a virus that uploads your amateur love poetry (credited to you, of course) and posts it prominently captioning various features on a hard-porn site?

* a virus that goes into your 'Drafts' folder and sends them all out? VOOP! Not necessarily to the intended recipient, either! Maybe use a "cc shuffle" function: each draft goes to the addressee, plus a random cc'ee from your Contacts. 50% random chance to bcc the boss as well.

I mean, as you can see, there are an awful lot of unexplored avenues here being neglected. It's pretty pathetic what passes for e-malevolence.

Part 1: The Installment

So the fine cold wind went higher than ever previously before thought, and dislodged a foreign object from heaven. It was a long, cold, oblong, metallic, hollow tube - possibly hollow. Now needless to say, such an item had no natural business being lodged in the firmament! But as it fell, first sliding then tumbling through the dry, frigid, empty air, the wind that had liberated it thought it caught a faint cry from within. First a sharp cry, as of dismay. Then, a mournful, lowing moan. And that was how the truth was discovered. For this was no mere tube.

That was the way that it began.

And then came the way that it ended, and for once, the ending mattered. And all who had until then held their breath, waiting for some resolution, sadly let go their hopes along with the stale air in their lungs. For it was not a happy ending, no. But an inevitable one.

And in its inevitability, it satisfied.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogs of Worthiness, Pt.1: Seanibus

When I first started this blog, I didn't realize something. But since then, I've noticed it. And it's got me thinking. I've been looking at blogs of others, recently, and it seems like it's a pretty widespread, ingrained tradition for people to use their blogs to point to other peoples' blogs. I mean, I was aware of that as a possibility! The technology is straightforward enough. But something in me was semi-deeply uncomfortable with actually doing it. It smacked of toadying sycophancy, somehow.

Not for other people to do it! I'm not judging others, just, you know, for me personally. I hold myself to an abnormal standard. When it comes to a lot of things.

But anyway, now that I realize that pretty much "everybody does it," and "it's no big deal," I have no longer any objection to it at all, whatsoever! I'm completely comfortable doing it.

So! Let's kick it all off with a guy who I love to call "Seanibus." He's mostly a voice of calm cool reason, but he can also be a man of deep, inscrutable emotion whose advocacy of powerful stances thrills with a slightly dangerous edge that people find provocative yet hard to describe without resorting to embarrassing superlatives. Here's a post that demonstrates his keen insights, critical acumen, and outstanding good taste:

[a href="http://seanibus.blogspot.com/postID=211a11BaZ11a]"@#~#_FAILED HREF_*

Male Ballerinas?

"Ballerina" sounds like an Italian word to me, but what's the masculine? Ballerello? Ballerino?

Things ought to be that simple in life, but they rarely are.

Dumbledore Gay?

Apparently it was more of an off-the-cuff remark at a live Q & A session ("honestly, I always saw Dumbledore as gay") than an authorial pronouncement. Not that I expect to see her issue a retraction or anything! Why should she? She's entitled to her opinion same as anybody.

But people need to realize, the worth of an authorial pronouncement is relative. The author knows nothing more about a character than was established and can be supported from within the work itself. If we (or Rowling) wish to interpret Dumbledore as gay (or straight, or marxist-feminist) then we can derive our arguments from the text. Impartial observers will judge for themselves what is supported and what is not. No one need get all het up about "oh, she's changing everything up on us after the fact!" Because if Dumbledore is gay, then he was gay long before the press conference.

Not that creators don't try to change it up after the fact. Examples abound of creative types who wax revisionistic on their creations long after the wax has dried. Such musings are interesting, sure! It's always interesting to see how the creative mind works, considers, reconsiders, justifies. It's interesting, but not necessarily valid. At that point, random after-the-fact pronouncements and musings are about as valid as reconsidering who you should have asked to the prom. What's done is done.

I mean, some morons believe that Deckard's a replicant! Ridley Scott among them.

Anyhow. There's no shame in being a replicant. I don't mean to offend any replicants, but is Roy Batty not role model enough? CHRIST, PEOPLE!!

It doesn't matter what the artist thinks: it matters what interpretations the artwork can support.

Kickass TV Show Idea #1: "America Can't Sing For Shit!"

I want to start a reality show called "America Can't Sing For Shit!" It goes like this. Basically: each week, callers would call in voting for whichever contestant, but week after week nobody ever gets the axe. Nobody gets cut. No eliminations. Everybody stays in till the end. No elimination whatsoever. EVERYBODY STICKS AROUND!

I think the eliminations are where most of these contestant shows mess up. These are premature eliminations. It's anti- the drama possibilities. The way every single one of these (seems like!) is set up, it eliminates the chance of a comeback from a real slow-starter. Like the guy who's the absolute worst in the first two weeks, but then dramatically catches fire, just suddenly starts coming on like a madhouse and then...wait. Coming on like a...some kind of house. Freight-house? Firehouse? Coming on like a doghouse? Ahh. Heck with it. Any one of those works equally well! I'd like to see some guy who was totally written off in the early going suddenly start just coming on like a dollhouse and then...

You know. Winning the whole schmeer. I think that kind of format tweak would be a revitalizing shot in the arm to a cliched, overplayed, insipid and waning genre.

Or hey, here's another curve-ball! Week after week, nobody gets eliminated. But that's just the setup! Because at the end, the big season finale, the final shocker - EVERYBODY WINS!

Now you're talkin'.

Kickass Screenplay Idea #2: Super-Hitler

This would be pitched as basically a ripoff of Jet Li's The One. Only not played for laughs, because once Hitler gets involved - people quite rightly take it serious!

So the idea is, Hitler - on balance, the most evil dude in the multiverse. The multiverse is like, all the parallel universes put together. Like, there's a hundred thousand million billion of you, each in a pretty much identical dimension to the one we all know, except you had something different for breakfast this morning. That's the multiverse - a common trope in speculative fiction!

So, Hitler: on balance, the most evil dude in the universe. SO evil, in fact, that every single one of him in all of the infinitely parallel universes that there are, is evil. Every single one.

Except...for one.

There is one alternate Hitler who isn't evil. In fact, he's good. In fact, thanks to the cosmic balance, he is SO good that he is AS GOOD as all of the other parallel Hitlers combined are EVIL - PUT TOGETHER!!

Sorry about all the caps, but...how else to you get a mind-breaking idea like that across?

All of that goodness flowing into him from the cosmic balance, thanks to the extreme evil of all his counterparts, infuses him with a power and majesty unmatched by any other mortal man. And as the power and the goodness flow into him, his strength increases a hundred-thousand-million-billionfold, his senses expand and he finds that he is more than simply Adolf Hitler, mild-mannered and contended-if-mediocre painter of picturesque landscapes. He is become Super-Hitler.

As his Hitler-senses expand - cosmically - he becomes aware on a higher level of the havoc wrought across the multiverse by all of his contemptible alternate selves. He is disgusted. Overwrought. Overborne. Overcome by guilt over the almost inconceivable misdeeds perpetrated in his name, by his namesakes...in some horrible way, by himself. Who among us could come to terms with such an awful revelation, save by going gratefully insane? But our hero is made of sterner stuff. It dawns on him that with his great power, he may be capable of breaching the multiversal continuum itself - traversing time, space, and more realities that you can shake a stick at, to one-by-one, track down and destroy that being whose name is reviled above all others across who-knows-how-many realities!

The rest of the film unfolds with him zapping around and killing Adolf Hitlers all over the place. In creative ways, at various times and places and under various constraints and complications. For one thing, not all Hitlers are evil in the same way. Most orchestrate ethnically-themed atrocities on a grand scale, but some ineffectually publish pamphlets, for instance. How to deal properly with each case, yet leave nothing to chance that a given Hitler will turn out to be a "late-bloomer" in the garden of ultimate evil? For another thing, the multiverse is not perfectly synched up, so in some cases he is forced to confront the dilemma of killing himself as a seemingly-innocent (yet evil, EVIL!!) infant, or as an elderly man secretly living in Argentina, or even in the very grave itself (I don't want to spoil how that one works!).

Despite the various complications and differences, it's interesting to note that every damn one of them has that mustache. Okay, maybe not the infant...but his lip is fated to grow it, I can pretty much tell you that!

So he's a real first-class archetypal superhero, his outfit is basically an exaggerated version of what he always wears, except instead of the drabbed-out browns of his real-world uniform, Super-Hitler's super-suit is a burnished gold with bright, primary-colored accessories such as bright blue boots, a white cape with red trim, and an armband with a red, blue and gold swastika design. Pretty much what you'd picture. No mask. He's too noble a hero for that.

The film is heavy on grand set pieces, WWII-style hijinks and high-stakes action. Part of his struggle involves interacting with the ordinary people in these various dimensions, who are quick to judge and fear an immensely-powerful being who comes out of nowhere, upsets the established order and - quite frankly - is obviously Adolf Hitler to boot! Themes of tolerance, justice, and tough moral compromise on behalf of the greater good abound.

Best part is...the multiverse is infinite! So you can never really run out of sequels.

Cha-ching.

My Favorite Word to See Mispelled

...isn't "Misspelled."

It's "puerile."

I love the word already, but it's just such a snottily derogatory, condescending little shit of a word that when you see someone using it, and they spell it "peurile"...! It's like, self-inflicted poetic justice! "Slap me, I'm a jackass!"

Come on, you can't do that! You know you've got to be a little more conscious of your spelling if you're going to go all full contempt on somebody, you know? Peurile. Sheesh! I admit, as word spellings go, this one looks pretty good either way.

Peurile.

Puerile.

Peurile.

Puerile.

Well, when you start doing that, neither one looks right! But that's partly the fault of the capitalization. It doesn't seem natural, capitalized. Some words don't!

I mean, how are you ever going to begin a sentence with "Puerile"...?

My Loyal Readers Part 2

Dear Loyal Reader (or even first-time reader! AS LONG AS YOU'RE LOYAL. It doesn't have to be to me, but damn it, I don't want any disloyal types in here!

Wow. Consider that original parenthesis void. I can't really see any easy way to go back and close it at this point. Oh wait a second, of course:

)

Anyway, Dear Loyal Reader, This post is just a place for you to place a nice comment on "my blog in general" (instead of feeling pressured to remark upon any individual post or topic). I'm going to start the ball rolling with a quote from Loyal Reader Blue, who touched my heart in many ways with this quote from a comment on a previous post:

"I'm gleeful you've got such a rockin' blog."
- Blue (emphasis hers)

See, that sets the tone. Comments should be in that vein. Positive comments are appreciated. Substantially negative comments on this post will be considered "off-topic", and deleted accordingly! This is not the place.

If I get good feedback on this one, and if you're all very, very good, maybe later on down the line I'll post a "My Loyal Readers Part 3" with the express stated purpose of housing negative comments. I'm not insensitive to the prospect.

There Is No Time.

"Spacetime" is a misnomer. Time is not a property or a dimension of space. It is merely a concept, an organizing principle invented by humans to track sequentiality and assist in the prediction of certain regular movements and events. As a concept, of course, it is indispensible! As a supposed component of physical reality, it's a phantasm.

Relativistic effects such as time dilation (where time is said to "slow down" at extreme velocities) are nothing more than the observable, physical effects of velocity upon matter. Time does not slow down: matter does. As a mass is accelerated to relativistic (very high) speeds, the physical processes within that mass slow down. Right down to the subatomic level. Everything decelerates, from gross mechanical processes such as the ticking of a Swiss watch, to biological processes like neurons firing in someone's cerebral network, to invisibly minute processes such as the oscillation of electrons in their atomic orbits. Time is simply how we measure things like objects crossing distances, or the resonance frequencies used by an atomic clock. If something slows all of these processes down, we perceive and describe it as time dilation - "time slowing down."

It's a harmless enough way to put it, from a purely conceptual standpoint, but it is rather putting the cart before the horse! Because as convincing as the illusion is, it's nothing to do with forces "acting upon" time. The slowdown is a simple property of velocity acting upon matter - a fundamental, easily-observed and easily-understood interaction, and one that cries out for no mysterious, mystical entity such as "Time" to explain it.

Even experiments whereby physicists claim to have demonstrated "time reversal" - what bilge! Shall we be shocked and amazed that under exotic conditions, certain particle degradations can be made to run in reverse? Does this demonstrate the existence of a cosmic force or dimension? Such parlor tricks are not going to save anybody's Abraham Lincoln, or get anybody's infant Hitler killed.

It is inevitable that as generations pass, even the ordinary layperson will eventually come to regard our modern era's stubborn belief in the literal existence of time as something quaint, even superstitious. How serious physicists persist in such a silly delusion is beyond me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Do We Need a God-Specific Pronoun?

There seems to be insufficient regard for God in the hearts and minds of the general populace, and I for one feel that the solution to the problem is to find more things to get uptight about. The religious among us do a pretty fair job of this already, I feel, but more could be done on that front. Consider the following suggested core concepts, some simple restrictions to be added in to everyone's Christian upbringing and accepted etiquette:

• "Hail to the Chief" - no one should sing this. The word "hail" should be restricted to the Lord. The Lord is the only true Chief, and indeed, the heart that hails two chiefs is like the house divided that can't stand up for itself. Even the instrumental version should be avoided, since it will only tempt us within our hearts to sing silently along, within our minds ("Hail to the Chief, he's the Chief and so we Hail him..."). I suppose it would be technically okay to use "Hail to the Chief" specifically as a hymn - with "Chief" referring to the Lord - but this seems a faintly ludicrous stretch. And besides, the secular associations will be hard to shake. Like when a "Christian Rock" artist tells us that the "You" in their blatant love song is really Jesus. Whom shall we fool with such sophistries? Not the Lord!

• Capitalizing pronouns and nouns that refer to the Lord is well and good, but it is disrespectful to God to capitalize the proper names of other people, places, and institutions. Capitalization should be reserved unto the Lord only. Except for the beginning letter of a sentence! Which is only capitalized in due tribute to God, who was at the beginning of all things.

• Kissing one's spouse with your eyes open is an abomination.

• As an outward sign of our respect for God, we should refrain from giving each other sidelong looks and saying things like, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Only the Lord can read minds!

• Superhero comics and movies should be voluntarily revised so as to make it clear that all of the superheroes' amazing powers come from God. This has not been sufficiently stressed in many of our popular entertainments. As long as this oversight is redressed (within a reasonable period of time), no boycott should be necessary. NOTE: the fact that superheroes' amazing powers come from God does not absolve the heroes of their great responsibility for the decisions they make, nor does it implicate God for the uses to which they put their great power. Such a view would negate free will!

• It should not be considered permissible to joke or jape at things religious. Whether God has a sense of humor is beside the point. Of course God has a sense of humor! God is endowed with every sense that humanity enjoys, and many, many more besides. So of course God has a sense of humor! And it is infinite. But there are limits, and joking about religious matters would seem to be out-of-bounds any way you slice it. For any number of good reasons. So basically, don't.

• Use of the word "brethren" for sarcastic purposes is not an abomination, but it comes pretty perilously close.

• Eating for pleasure is a sin. The purpose of eating is nutrition only; any other use is a misuse and an abuse, like masturbating with your mouth.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: As of this writing, none of the above are (as yet) in any way improper or objectionable. These hangups are merely at the "proposal" stage. However, I feel that they are easily on par with many of the persnickety little details, taboos and legalisms that people bandy about to make each other feel bad, or damn each other to hell with. My proposed New Rules for Christian Etiquette could easily be adopted and stand proudly alongside many similar, well-established traditional restrictions with equal justification. Pretty much.

Also, at least a couple of those ideas up there have probably already been kicked around in other forms, by other thinkers in other times, maybe partially embraced in some quarters, but still haven't quite "caught on" in the mainstream yet. So I'm including them here to "give boost to it", as it were. To throw my support behind what should be an unjustly-overlooked signpost for the soul, a guideline to help our wayward feet find the narrow path that we can ease on down.

Brethren, never let us forget that more rules = more attention paid to God. You can't follow it if there's no rule, right?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My High-Handed Review of One of those Fantastic Four Films

I say "one of" because if you put 'em both together, it'd be one pretty good movie. I guess that would be "in retrospect, with the memory of the good parts lingering while the cringe moments fade."

Chris Evans's performance as Torcho is the the heart and soul of the film, its emotional center: shallow, preeningly self-satisfied, and vacuous. Evans does a great job in the role, and it's good to see the actor getting the exposure. He even manages to make his "Flame On!" motto convincing as a crutch, a necessary trigger-phrase for an outwardly-cocky, inwardly-insecure hero not completely in control of his powers. Rather than say, an inexplicable outburst of super gay bravado.

Note that when I say the film is at its heart shallow, preeningly self-satisfied and vacuous, I do not mean that the movie or its makers are unintelligent. They're not dumb, they just don't care. They skirt the hem of plausibility, but they don't really care whether they miss a few stitches here and there. When Reed Richards warns Johnny Flame that his supernova-mojo heat could "ignite the atmosphere," it's a credit to Ioan Gruffudd that we wonder whether maybe this is a real possibility in this movie's universe...as opposed to the quaint and discredited cusp-of-the-atomic-age bugaboo that it is in ours. But as events unfold and explanations for them are tendered, it becomes clear that what we have here isn't a gaggle of morons, so much as a gaggle of pretty smart folks with minds switched mostly off.

The performances and characterizations are on-target for the most part. Newcomer Norrin Radd as the Surfer has freaky lats, which I could maybe see if he were an actual surfer - all that paddling! But it seems like his board does all the work for him here, really. So maybe that's just a physical feature of his alien species. And his freaky big lats are in a constant state of being tensed! Like he was flexing in the mirror and they just stuck that way. It looks uncomfortable; I kept expecting Sue Storm to give him a neck-rub. Apart from the lats issues, he comes across as a little slow in the head. Perhaps aliens brood at different speeds than what we're used to. I'll give him the benefit of that.

Jessica Alba portrays emotion convincingly whenever she's invisible. Or off-screen. One's as good as the other really - where acting is concerned, she does her best work out of sight. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her many, many nude scenes. These were pretty much all invisible, and I've heard several churls observe that this diminished the effectiveness of these scenes. Me, I'd say that it's all in keeping with the "Approved By the Comics Code Authority" tone. Only a real pig could complain on that score.

Michael Chiklis's performance as the Thing...what can I say? He's perfect. He's Ben Grimm, the gruff orange rockpile we all know and love. Only thing I wish is, he should be bigger. The Thing's nearly Hulk-sized, or oughta be! He should certainly not be the third-tallest member of any given foursome. Make no mistake, I'm not saying they should have cast a different, taller actor. Chiklis rocks. But they could have reverse-hobbitized him or something. We have the damn technology, alright?!

Ioan Gruffud's performance as Reed Richards, Mister Fantastic himself, is problematic. He's certainly game, I'll give him that. But I kind of wish he had "pushed back" a little on some of the cringe-inducing motions that they make his character go through. Gruffud seems like a capable actor. He brings a solid core of humanity to a role that could easily have seemed cold and inhuman, without stinting on the intelligence and leadership qualities that are an absolute must for the character. Yet apart from Alba's disgusting color contacts, almost all of the worst cringes come courtesy of Stretcho. I mean...that dance scene!

PUKE!!!

Now, it's possible that the F/X techs let him down on that one. Maybe that was partly their fault. I can't help but think that the scene could even have been a high point, had they backed him up with some real CGI dance wizardry - for instance, if they had him performing an amazing routine of impossibly rotating, gyrating dance moves while (mostly) retaining human shape and dimensions. Instead, he just writhes goonishly with his rubber arms stretching around. Like that should impress anybody! It's painful, and I have to admit that since Gruffud's head wobbles and facial expression would have killed just about any effect they slapped on him, he can't escape the blame entirely.

The dance scene is only the worst of a number of Stretcho moments that make you wonder who lost control of the storyboard. It's a tribute to Gruffud that Dr. Richards keeps any dignity whatsoever over the course of the storyline. Which brings up another thing, why is he "Dr." Richards but "Mr." Fantastic?

Even as I type the previous sentence, it occurs to me that that particular observation must surely already be a geek cliche. But it bears being brought up by me nonetheless.

You know what else? If the Surfer can just fly up into space and kick that cosmic cloud's ass that easy - why didn't he do it ten planets ago? Come on!

Galactus went out like an omnipotent bitch.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Once Again: The Underappreciated Innovator

I was the first person to come up with prototype soft-drink beverages in flavors such as Ketchup Pop and Mustard Pop.

Pickle Pop was a non-starter.

Tips on Wearing Stained Clothes

We've all had it happen to us. Oh, man! My FAVORITE t-shirt! And it's got a big ol' stain on it. What do I do now, throw it in the TRASH?

Well, hold on there, partner. Before you take any such drastic steps as that, try washing it first. There are many sites out there in the wide world's web providing helpful hints on how to get stains out using various pre-treatment products or lemon juice and/or what-not. I don't need to get into that here. Go, check out the methods available, make an informed decision, and see if you can't get that stain out. If you can, great! You need read no further.

All of that's assuming the shirt has not already been washed. Because the one thing that everybody says is in total agreement: once you wash it...that stain is "set." As in, you're stuck with it. So I never wash a shirt with a stain until I'm sure I can get that stain out. But yet, I'm hesitant to try these weird pink or blue pre-treatment liquids, since if I splortch that stuff all over the stain and rub it in all around, and the stain doesn't disappear like magic - then what have I got? An even bigger stain! With like, coffee in the middle, and surrounded by a colorful soapy patch that will dry looking even worse!

So what to do, then?

What I find is that in practice, you can always wear a shirt a couple few extra times while it's still basically "clean" (stains aside). Right? And after a stain dries, it looks the same whether it happened this morning or a year ago. Right? People can't really tell the difference. So, who's going to fault you for what could clearly be passed off as this morning's simple accident? We're all human, right? It happens to us all, right? So as you will see, in practice, all you need to do is have a little presence of mind and you can keep on wearing that favorite shirt!

The key is to maintain "plausible deniability." Where are you going in that shirt? If it's just out and about to a party or wherever, it's perfectly plausible to explain the stain away as if it had happened earlier that day: "oh, damn coffee at breakfast!" Who's going to blame anyone for that? - what with today's hectic breakfast lifestyles, hash being slung and coffee being drunk thick and fast? Accidents will happen, and you're not always able to nip back home for a clean shirt. Note that this statement: "oh, damn coffee at breakfast!" is not technically a lie. It might not even be technically a sentence. But taken by itself, you could easily be damning the poor quality of coffee at breakfast in general. Still. That's a side point, because the real point is that the spill may have happened at breakfast weeks ago, and it would be a true statement! But people are going to assume you meant today's breakfast. Ideal for our purposes!

A wide range of stains end up looking plausibly enough like coffee, so that's usually the line I use. But for the stains that can't pass, "oh, damn mustard at lunch!" or "oh*, damn spaghetti-o's!" will work almost as well in a pinch. "Damn spaghetti sauce" is pushing it, since that sounds more like last night's dinner than something that happened earlier that same day. You can only abuse people's credulity to a point.

So anyway: like I said, if you're just going out and about, you ought to be able to fake your way through plausibly. But if you're going in to work, where everybody has already seen that damn stain a number of times already, the subterfuge won't hold up.

You're just going to need to exercise some judiciousness.

Friday, October 19, 2007

How Come #1: How Come There's No Umlaut in Umlaut?

Sorry, yes, I know I already included that exact observation/question in the previous post, but it kind of deserves to be split out on it's own, don't you think? It's a puzzler!

How come there's no umlaut in umlaut? Isn't that hypocrisy, on some level? And if not hypocrisy, certainly it's a missed opportunity on the part of whoever markets typography to the masses! It ought to be on there. I don't care if it does change the pronunciation. People will adjust. Put it on there.

This post inaugurates my soon-to-be-burgeoning "How Come" series, wherein I wonder about things like...this, for instance. Things that people really ought to be more on top of. Or other things too, of course! I don't want to define my horizons too narrowly on my inaugural "How Come" post! Otherwise, people would be like, how come he did that? Hemmed himself in. Poor move.

I've Got A Pret-ty Cute Eye!

I do! Example: I picked up a copy of Q Magazine. My girlfriend likes that one. It's British. Which is not to say that she's pretentious!

Anyway, on the cover there was a banner proclaiming "The Song Writers," alongside a picture of Rufus Sewell, Michael Stipe and Björk. (The Song Writers.) But as I looked at it, I knew immediately: "something's not right!" I could tell that they weren't all there, physically in the same location. There was a definite sense of disclocation, manipulation of the truth.

I know they do that on these covers! You can't tell me otherwise! They take your picture "for the cover of the magazine" and then the issue comes out and you're standing in a crowd, they've glommed a whole bunch of other dudes in! Meanwhile you look like an idiot because you're all standing there all hard, like you think you've got the cover to yourself, and everybody else is lounging casual, in a semi-mocking way. Like they were informed in advance.

They totally do that, and I've been noticing. But this was the first time I really made a point of pointing it out - and I was vindicated! I pointed it out to my girlfriend, I was all "see! Look at the light falling on Björk, it's totally a different light source than the light falling on Stipe! You can see it!" And she was like - "Yeah...? Ya think?" She looked at it, kind of squinted.

I could definitely tell that she definitely felt that it was possible I was right.

And then when I turned to the article itself, I was super-vindicated, because - a ton of pictures of Stipe & Rufus, but none of Björk with them. And as if that weren't proof enough, later on I read the article. They alluded to the fact that Björk's pic was taken separately! Case closed!

But I'm telling you. I spotted that stuff RIGHT OFF. By dint of my keen, discerning glance. My keen eye catches all!

On an unrelated note, when I went to google Björk so as to grab the umlaut (how come there's no umlaut in umlaut?), THIS was the text from the second link:

In a white bodysuit and with bleached eyebrows, Björk conjurs red translucent threads to shoot from her bosom and enwrap her in a cocoon, while she sings...

Man, if that don't just about say it all! That's exactly how she comes across.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My blog is sooooo hilarious.

Honestly? I find my blog sooooo hilarious. I'll be writing it, and I'll be just cracking myself up as I type! It's just sooooo hilarious.

Then sometimes I'll go back and re-read something from way before - sooooo funny. I enjoy it sooooo much. I can't get enough of it! That's why I do it sooooo much.

Sooooo...how's it working out for you? Anybody?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FW: A message from Leonard DiCaprio about protecting bears

This was an e-mail that actually showed up in my in-box; I don't know any "Rico Koeberson" person, but if it's on the level, Leonard DiCaprio sounds pretty SERIOUS!

Sorry about the year's delay - it got routed to my spam folder for some reason.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rico Koeberson
Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 11:39 AM
To: Joseph Recipient
Subject: FW: A message from Leonard DiCaprio about protecting bears

The message below, a letter from actor Leonardo DiCaprio urging concerned Americans to help save Yellowstone's last remaining grizzly bears, was sent to you by Rico Koeberson from http://www.savebiogems.org

. . .

Dear Friend,

Will you please protect these fucking bears? I am writing to ask for your help to protect these fucking grizzly bears that live in and around Yellowstone National Park. The pricks in power keep trying to implement a disastrous plan to repeal the bears' protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Yellowstone's grizzlies have only recently begun to recover from the brink of fucking extinction. It's too fucking soon to remove the safety net that has prevented these fucking bears from disappearing in the first place. That's why it's so important for all Americans all across the country to band together to tell the fucking government that they can stuff their fucking bullshit plan.

To take action, go to the Natural Resources Defense Council's BioGems website at
http://www.savebiogems.org/bears/takeaction.asp

What could be a purer icon of the American West and the great wilderness that once covered most of this rugged land, than the fucking grizzly? Grizzlies are also a fucking barometer of the region's health. Healthy bear populations mean a healthy landscape. A big omnivore, a top-of-the-food-chain animal like a fucking grizzly, consumes a lot of resources. The grizzlies don't thrive unless the whole fucking system is thriving. Ergo, you kill off the grizzly - the whole system dies. Simple fucking math, folks.

But so many of these magnificent animals have been killed off and so much of their habitat destroyed that today they live on less than one fucking percent of their former range. That's fucking atrocious. Now there are only between 50 and 600 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone. That's a tiny fucking number when you consider that as many as 100,000 grizzlies roamed the West just a few fucking hundred years ago!

Stripping endangered species protection from Yellowstone's fucking bears would open their habitat -- vast wild forests around the park -- to large-scale real estate and energy development. It also would allow hunters to fucking kill bears that roam outside the park. The state of fucking Wyoming has already announced plans to allow grizzly bear hunting as soon as the bears are off the endangered species fucking list.

We all hope for a day when grizzly fucking bears truly are recovered and can be removed from the endangered species list. But first we need to make sure that their habitat is fucking protected.

I'm working with the Natural Fucking Resources Defense Council, which is leading the campaign to protect and restore the fucking grizzly bear in the lower 48 states. As the bears sleep through the coldest and darkest months of the year, please join us to ensure that grizzly bears have a healthy landscape to wake up to -- this spring and for many fucking years to come.

Go to NRDC's BioGems website to send a message telling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to leave Yellowstone's grizzlies on the endangered species list:
http://www.savebiogems.org/bears/takeaction.asp

Then I hope you will also forward my fucking message to your friends and family.

Thank you!

Leonardo DiCaprio
Board of Fucking Trustees
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

. . .

BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council
http://www.savebiogems.org

_________________________________________________________________
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Friday, October 12, 2007

Criss Angel: Who Should Be Ashamed?

Criss Angel's parents should be ashamed of themselves for giving him such a crappy name; alternately, is that not his real name? did he pick that himself?? he should be ashamed of himself for that.

Eggs McBenedict - And Why Not?

That Egg McMuffin is pretty tasty. Yet I thought, "hey, it's basically an eggs benedict with a hat on, right? Why not complete the gustatory picture, with a little sauce hollandaise? Right?

Right? That'd be one haute breakfast puck right there, SON. Think how good that'd taste! You'd need like, a McMimosa to go with that!

Now, it wouldn't necessarily have to be a true, authentic five-star hollandaise. For one thing, that might be a little too runny for sandwich applications. Not practical. You'd want to thicken it up some, maybe to the consistency of the "special sauce" - but obviously not just use the special sauce! That would be an abomination in the eyes of God, to do that. You need it to be a hollandaise-flavor sauce, but just maybe a little thicker and gloppier. To stay on.

I can just about taste it right now! C'mon, McDonalds! Let's raise the breakfast stakes a bit, here. What do you say?
A Brief History of the Benedict

As many of us know, Eggs Benedict was invented by St. Benedict, founder of western monasticism. Well-known as one of the Fathers of the Church, St. Benedict was something of a demon in the kitchen as well. He concocted the dish that bears his name for a special breakfast at his original Benedictine Monastery, in honor of a visiting Pope who, along with his retinue, was inspecting the progress of the then-novel institution. As it happened, the dish was responsible for a notorious schism in thought among early monastics. Some held that such rich, sumptuous dishes were inappropriate for the palate of a monk, who should sustain himself on simpler fare. Benedict disagreed, pointing out that as elegant as the final product was, the ingredients were only the simple fruits of the earth - and was it not our duty as God's servants to glorify God in food, just as we do in song, art, and architecture? By taking humble materials, and using them to craft masterpieces as enduring testaments to faith?

Some bought this line of reasoning, others didn't - but to this day the head chef of the Vatican is always a Benedictine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Open Dream Journal #17: Creature Double Feature

I had a dream where it was like, bigfoot versus king kong, only they were both just a guy in a suit so they were roughly the same size. Otherwise, quick fight. But despite the less-than-imposing scale of these two brutish bruisers, everyone was treating the situation like a real threat! There was talk of calling in the military. I was like, "come on, people! Get organized! For man-sized monsters all you need is torches and pitchforks!"

And they looked at me like I was crazy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I Love God

And By God, I mean, the Deity.

I love God, and why wouldn't I? God is Love. God is gracious. God is kind. God smoothes false hopes over, and makes room for the new! God makes steps that you wouldn't otherwise take seem like a good move. That's all by virtue of God's love!

Some might say, "No! What about stuff? Some stuff is bad. And God made stuff - all kinds of stuff. Therefore...Ergo!"

I don't mind standing here before you and saying that I find all such lines of reasoning suspect...IN THE EXTREME.

But I could be biased. After all, I love God.

But then again, who doesn't? Seriously? Does anybody not love God? True. Some people say they don't love God. But really, I think if they're honest with themselves, the real story is they just don't believe in God. Because what kind of a MORON believes in God, and DOES NOT LOVE GOD? Seriously! Is that a sound position?

I never understood Satanists. I mean, these guys, theoretically, they go in for all the Judeo-Christian whammy-bazzer; they believe in God, and they believe in the Devil, and all that that entails, but...GET THIS...they say, "oh yeah. We're for the one who got his ass kicked."

Maybe they're like, Bills fans or something.

Monday, October 08, 2007

NFL 2008: My Trenchant Week 5 Analysis

Yeah, that's RIGHT!! That's RIGHT!
FUCK YOU, DICK JAURON!!!!!
In your FACE!!! You little WUSSY!!! Yeah, ICE THIS!! IN YOUR FACE TWICE!!! BOOOM!! RIGHT DOWN THE PIPE TWICE!!! BOOOM!!! ICE THIS!!!

I got your ice right HERE you little PINYATA! Ya little PISSANT!! You little PAJAMAS!!! Why, you don't even deserve the TERM pajamas!!

Ah, whatever. Agh. I hate it when it's like that. Ag. A.

5-0.

No chance now we'll be too overly-cocky going into next week's match, that's for sure.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Egg Basil Two-Tomatoes Scramble!

I've been perfecting the proportions on this very simple scramble recipe. I made it for myself yesterday and then again today. It's delicious and easy!

I have the ingredient amounts figured for a two-egg scramble, but if you prefer a three-egg scramble you can get the proportions right by first dividing by two and then multiplying by however many eggs you want in there. Then you're set, no matter how many-an-egg scramble you like! Also handy if you're cooking for two. In that case you might want to play it safe with a five-egg scramble.

How big is your pan, though? You may need a bigger pan to pull that off well. Surface area. An oft-neglected key!

Personally, with all the bold flavor, I find a 2-egg scramble perfect on this. I had a 2-egger yesterday, and a 3-egger today. The 2-egger made for a nice, light breakfast, but definitely satisfying and perfect. It left me ready to face the day! Whereas the 3-egg version left me saying "MAN, that was good. I wanna go lie down for a while and happily digest."

Which can also be good. Hey, it's Sunday!

So for recipe purposes, I'm putting the 2-egg version but like I said, feel free to scale up or down via my simple math trick as outlined above.

My Egg Basil Two-Tomatoes Scramble

2 eggs

some liquid - now some use water, some use milk, when making scrambled eggs. I use 2% milk. Just add the amount that's right.

2 big basil leaves, cut up (not cut up fine - you want some nice big pieces. Maybe four fourth-sized pieces per big basil leaf).

4 cherry tomatoes, halved (try to get ones that are longish not perfectly round, and then halve them in the middle, not longwise. The ones I got refer to themselves as "sugar plum grape tomatoes" which sounds disgusting and ridiculous. But they're lovely, so it's not their fault what they're called!)

5 sun dried tomatoes (the kind marinated in olive oil and herbs), chopped up coarse.

2 very jolly cracker's-worth portions of soft havarti cheese (about the size of one of those big pink erasers! No, bigger. A little bigger than that, each portion)

dill, a slightly indecent amount.

salt & pepper (to taste)

That's it. Combine eggs with other ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir vigorously with a fork, and pour the well-mixed mixture unto a heated, buttered saucepan. And, you know, scramble yourself some damn eggs.

I think you hardly need me to tell you how that part works!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

BOONT!! There it is!

The Anderson Valley Brewing Company's flagship Boont Amber Ale. Endorsed by the Boonville Beer. Ah yes, the famous Boonville Beer of Anderson Valley, California. Not a deer. Not a bear. A Beer.
Who let the Beer out? BOONT! BOONT! BOONT! BOONT! Photobucket
Who let the Beer out? BOONT! BOONT! BOONT! BOONT!

That Mustang Dome Thang

So yesterday I was out driving on the main drag, and I saw this Mustang. One of the old ones. A classic! Cherry red...no, not quite cherry...more like, sealing-wax red. By sealing wax, I mean the sort of wax that was used to affix seals to letters and state documents, and then stamped with the Pope's ring (or whoever's, obviously the Grand Duke of Luxembourg isn't going to go with the Pope-stamp). Is that sealing wax? Maybe sealing wax is something else. But you'd think it should be legit to refer to that sort of red wax as sealing wax, since it was wax, and it was used to seal things. "Sealed with the Official Seal of Whoever's Highness and Pomposity."

But wait, maybe it's spelled ceiling-wax. In which case, I don't even know what color that would be. Who even uses that stuff?

Let's cut to the chase already. Everyone has seen that red waxy stamp on ye-olde style documents in big screen historical epics - or failing that, on the odd classy liquor bottle such as your Grand Marnier - so I daresay everyone knows what exact type of red I'm referring to here.

So. Back to the Mustang. The car was that particular red color, but not cherry. A bit less bright, a bit more matte, but with a certain dull, deep, dare-I-say-waxy luster.

Anyway, the thing that struck me most about it was that this Mustang had a DOME! You know - like the new one has a dome. The cockpit or cabin area or whatever you call it - it's topper was rounded. I didn't know they had old ones like that! I thought that the dome was some new something they came up with, specifically for the new ones. And frankly, I hated it. It looks awful! It clutters the sculptural composition with this totally random element that doesn't meld at all with what's going on in the body. The net impression is that somebody tried to turn the top of the car into a UFO. I admit, I like the new Mustang in a convertible, since that ameliorates the dome effect somewhat. With the top up, the ragtop isn't nearly as stupid-looking as the dome is. It cuts a better line. And with the top down, you're left with the simplicity of the rest of the body - which is quite a robust, muscular design with a lot of sex appeal.

I mean that like these car enthusiasts say it. It's kind of a saying. They'll say that a car has "sex appeal"...what do they mean by that...it's a colloquialism or whatever. Euphemism? Idiomatic expression! Because in any event, I'm not actually sexually attracted to machinery in that way.

But the main thing is, after seeing this classic example of the precedent of the domed Mustang, I no longer know how to feel about the dome. When I thought the dome was a novel element out of left field, I was like: "who the hell's idea was that!?" But now that I know it's a throwback, an homage, a nod to the earlier history and configuration of what is surely one of the most deeply-ingrained in the psyche of the car-head nation cars in the history of the

Sorry, I got lost on the way to there. That sentence just wasn't worth saving.

But you see what I'm saying here. About the dome. That thing's UGLY!

What were they thinking?

Friday, October 05, 2007

On The Sea-Bird

Many have asked me to elucidate a little on the meaning and origins of The Sea-Bird, my recently completed epic poem - epic in scope, not in length (epic-length poetry has no place on this blog. It would go in my hidden poetry blog). And so I shall.

Well, you may not believe this, but dude! I just thought that whole thing up off the top of my head! Oh yeah, I worked on it some afterwards, fine-tuning it. But mostly I just came up with it on the drive home from work! It was bothering me half the way home, composing itself into ungainly couplets and marching along from the back to the front to the side of my mind unwanted, even as the backed-up traffic slogged its unruly way along the back roads by the coast. In fact, if I hadn't taken that particular route, I would never have come up with the poem at all!

Fate does indeed take a hand in matters of inspiration, it seems. And posterity is the richer for it! Because, as I was headed up the hill by the river - man! it was windy! - I saw this big damn bird who was all coasting along for like minutes not even bothering to flap, barely just above the water surface! And then suddenly he faltered, and flailed around for a second, and then dude - he got DUNKED. Took a big ol' belly-flop.

Served his lazy ass right if you ask me. Should have put more effort into it.

Anyhow, I took a little poetic license in changing the gender of the sea-bird from a he to a she. Seemed more picturesque somehow, less automatic. But apart from that, it pretty much unfolded as I told it. Like a sweet photograph in words, of that big ol' dumb wet bird getting dunked!

The Sea-Bird

This is intended as a bit of epic piffle in the style of Yeats or Shelley or some such similiar poet, such as one has not read. Is it Yeats? It might be Keats. Perhaps there are both. A Keats and a Yeats!

In any case, the name hardly matters - it's the impression that the name is meant to convey: that's the thing. This poem is intended to be in that same general rank and category, to belong to that particular grand style, to be placed in that class among the rich literary legacies of those immortal names, those giants: Keats, Shelley, and perhaps Yeats. Now that I think about it, "Yeats" sounds a little goofy. "Yeets!" But what do you want from me? I didn't name the bastard.

To best appreciate the effect of the language, the poem should be read aloud in a measured voice at a stately pace, in arch accents rich and dripping with ripe, plummy vowels; and read slowly - with great deliberation and with well-placed pauses to give the portent of it all a chance to really breathe. Remember: meaning lives in the silences.

Without further ado: I give you: The Sea-Bird:

The Sea-Bird

- by Geholmes Watchfop Thacklevoy -


(my pseudo pen-name de guerre du jour)


I saw a mighty sea-bird hover,
wings athwart, above a choppy river-mouth
that empties to the Bay.
She labored lightly, leaning into
headwind, shaking wings akimbo
barely flapping, course correcting,
one foot over copper waters.

Making slow but forward progress
all unsteady, shaking pinions
barely just aloft, but gliding
ever forward, yard by yard.
Suddenly, mid-air she stumbled,
tottered as the wind from under
failed her - her with only inches
'twixt her and the waves beneath.

Up they slapped, to catch and gather
her ungainly, graceless flapping,
floating now, and looking 'round to see
if any witness saw. I will never tell -
my lovely sea-bird: please consider
your indignity a confidence
between us that I vow to keep

as I make my way on forward
slowly, leaning into headwind
ever forward, yard by yard
catastrophe an inch beneath


It may seem a bit of a weak effort now, a bit daft to the modern eye perhaps. Never you mind. It will fall to later generations to read reams of meaning into those elegiac verses - certainly freighted to bursting with hidden significance and themes, themes, themes of universal import and significance. If I've learned one thing from studying poetry: that's it.

A New Idea That Will Change the Entire Way of How Business Gets Done, Potentially

I've developed an idea for a startup company developing a procedure that will allow other startup companies to actually ship goods through the internet. This idea is potentially a blockbuster.

Think about it. Shipping goods through the internet.

It's a whole new way of doing business.

Stick with me, and I'll let you in on the ground floor.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Gettin' Political

People ask me, "how come you don't do more political posts?" Well here it comes.

If I had to give my honest opinion of George Bush...George Bush, the current one...if I had to give my personal judgment, - now let me clarify, here! - if my judgment came down, and I knew that George Bush would be judged by it, as in, judged accordingly, then I couldn't do it. Because, "judge not!"

But knowing that it's only my own personal opinion, that it doesn't affect him at all one way or the other, and that it has no bearing at all whatsoever on anything, I'm free to give it. I feel free to give it.

I don't know the man. I've got precious little upon which to form any sort of opinion. But just going by my impression of how he comports himself media-wise, I think he's not evil. I think he believes he's in the right. My impression is that he's pretty smug in that belief. Which...hey, aren't we all? Anyhow, contrary to conventional wisdom, I don't think he's a dupe or a moron. I doubt that anyone who is really that stupid - as stupid as his detractors make him out to be - could be smart enough to play dumb* like he does. Smart enough to play the part. I'd say he's of above-average intelligence, not-so-good verbal skills, well-above average affability, and very conscious of the nature of his appeal: the "aw-shucks" ostensibly-common-man factor. He's self-aware, and he plays the part that got him there.

So while I don't see him as a pawn, I do think he's aware enough of his limitations to rely on the advice of the people with which he has surrounded himself. He's been a bit too loyal to some of them, perhaps. I see him as similar to Reagan in that respect, albeit, Reagan had a far more outstandingly-capable cabinet! Sheesh - remember some of those guys?! But in general, George Bush has been quite Reaganesque in his ability to surround himself with trusted advisors, rely on their expertise while still coming across as more-or-less "in charge." Reagan had that to a much greater degree, of course - but I don't think even Bush would fault me for putting Reagan ahead of him. His dad might, but whatever. Those two had beef.

So yeah. I don't think he's the brightest bulb in the buy-one-get-one-free value-pack. But not dumb, either. Clinton was of course, far smarter. And yet, so dumb in other ways! Clinton was dumb similar to how Nixon was dumb.

And Nixon was very smart.

Yet he believed he was above the fray, and couldn't be held accountable for shenanigans. Tricky Dick found out the hard way that he wasn't - that in the 1970's the President wasn't above going down for being implicated in masterminding half-assed burglaries. And then later on, Slick Willie found out the hard way that in the 1990's the President wasn't above being implicated in half-assed perjuries over some chick going down.

But none of these people are stupid. They just want love like anybody, that's what I think.

Business-World Truisms #2

"Of course it's better! Before it was early. Now it's 'Just In Time!'"

Hey, What's the Date?

10-4, good buddy!!

Mother Of Pearl

I'm pretty proud of myself on this one. Someone in my office was showing me the glass beads she's begun making (having taken it up as a hobby), and one of them had a certain pattern on it that made me go: "Ooo! If you can do that, you should make a bead that looks like mother-of-pearl.

Then another person in the office asked, "what's mother of pearl?" And as a thoughtful look crossed my face, I reeled off this monstrosity in one go:

"It's the glossy, lustrous, often iridescent patina that coats the inside of a seashell. For shellfish that make pearls, the secretions accrete around irritants, encasing them in a hard coating that won't chafe the sensitive flesh of the mollusk."

There was a moment of silence, and then everyone dissolved into hoots of derision, repeating choice portions giddily in high-pitched British accents. What can I say, I deserved it, but I still say that's a pretty sweet off-hand definition!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Has Anyone Tried...?

Has anyone ever tried - wait, first, let me say that my epicurean curiosity leads me always afield on a quest for new tastes, new flavor combinations. Sometimes it leads me into blind alleyways, oftimes it launches me out over unlooked-for taste vistas. Occasionally it will slam me against a brick wall of savory unexpectedness and steal my wallet of skepticism. Leaving me, I suppose, out of skepticism. Wait - "bereft of skepticism"! Ah! Nice touch. Good one.

So, has anyone ever tried a big, crunchy halved dill pickle, spread with tart sweet pickle relish? I bet you haven't! The brands may make a deal of difference to the equation, so let me disclose: I used Clausen dill halves and Del Monte sweet pickle relish. Have you tried that combo? Has anyone tried that? A big ol' cleanly-sliced half-a-dill, spread with a fat dollop of mmm! tart julienned gherkins! Have you tried that?

If you haven't - boy, oh boy! - don't! It sucks.

A real disappointment.

Hard to believe, I know. It seemed like such a "theme-ingredient" move.

Pet Shop Boys, In a Nutshell

The Pet Shop Boys. After looking up the lyrics to one of their songs, I stumbled upon their page on mtv.com. The little descriptive blurb about the band CRACKED ME UP.
from mtv.com:
Postmodern ironists cloaked behind a veil of buoyantly melodic and lushly romantic synth pop confections, the Pet Shop Boys' cheeky, smart, and utterly danceable music established them among the most commercially and critically successful groups of their era. Always remaining one step ahead of...

Read More

Who could possibly want to read more? How could it possibly get any better? This is how I've been trying to write for years, this distills what my style aspires to! What unsung bard composes such dense and dulcet prose for mtv.com, and can I get a job like that?

No. I can't. Because I'm just not that good.

But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's Supposed To Be Atrocious.

OK. Couple things.

With apologies to those who do read this blog...NOBODY reads this blog. Its main purpose remains what it was: it is writing practice for me. Many of the views expressed are repugnant, atrocious, unconscionable. Too bad. I need practice writing in those modes! It may come up as a necessity for a screenplay someday. So in the meantime, I hope none of you are too terribly put off, but if you are, don't take it seriously. I won't!

The other thing. After this post, I impose an abject ban on any posts with "blogging" as the topic. I need more posts on "love" and "God" and "music." When I try sorting my labels by frequency, I come up with way too many posts on "blogging"! It sounds like my head's gone up my.

If you'll pardon the.

Open Dream Journal #6: Presidential Honors

I was sitting on the couch (in the dream) and President Bush was on tv, at the podium making a press conference. It turned out to be in honor of our cat! The golden curtains parted behind him, and the camera angle sort of swooped in and up, and there was a gigantic close-up picture of Frank! Not a video display, either. This was some kind of monumental portraiture of Frank, looking as regal and dignified and loyal as ever.

The President was of few words on the topic, but he said what he had to say with a dignified and serious tone that conveyed great import. Fixing the camera with a warm but solemn gaze he said simply:

"He's a cat."

"His name is Frank."

"And he gives his all."

"That's Big Booga."

I was looking all over for my girlfriend - she would have loved to see this! But I don't know where she was in the dream. When I woke up, I told her all about it. She didn't like Bush any better as a result, but she had to admit that if it had happened for real...it would have scored a few points.

AT&T Won't Give You the Time of Day

"At the sound of the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be..."

For decades if not generations, the soothing voice of that woman would be there any time of day, to give you the time of day. All you had to do was call POP-CORN. That's 767-2676. That spells "POP-CORN," because in phone-button parlance, each number corresponds to three letters. This leads to some legitimate questions: why do we say it spells "POP-CORN" and not (for instance) "ROS-COSM"? But in any case, you would call up POP-CORN and there she was. Beeping incessantly. Every ten seconds!

But no more! Not unless you live in Nevada. AT&T has discontinued the service. Well I say, it sounds to me like somebody's getting too cocky! Somebody needs to be taken down a peg! Where's the government on this one? Isn't this a violation of their Monopoly agreement? How dare they act, with impunity, in a monopolistic fashion, to discontinue a vital service upon which so many Americans rely, when struck with power outages or too stupid to wear a watch?

Frankly it is as if some bell has tolled, sounding the knell for the passing of a bygone age. Prompting the admonition: "Ask not, for whom the sound of the tone sounds...it beeps for thee."

What a weak ending. I could have wrapped that up better.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Do People Say "Janked"?

And if they do...what do they mean by that? Do they mean the same thing I mean by it when I say "janked"? And if so, what?

Let me give you an example. I may say, off-hand, "oh, you didn't hear about what happened to him? He got janked." And in this usage, it's clearly kind of an off-hand situation. The context governs. I don't necessarily have to spell it out, or necessarily know what it means. Because it's clear from context! It's clear that he got JANKED.

So that's not what I'm asking. What I'm asking is, do others employ it the same way? And if not, how do they get the same idea across, when somebody got janked?

There's just no other way that I know how to say it.