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April 30, 2008

100 Questions or A Poem About a Tiger

For an assignment my kids were asked to write down 100 questions, so I decided to do the same. My own twist in the assignment was that the 100 questions had to make a comprehensible script. It's a script. I'll allow you, reader, to decide if it's comprehensible or not.

tyger.jpgZed: Who’s there?

Adam: Who do you think?

Zed: What took you so long? How is it out there?

Adam: How do you think it is out there in the gaping maw of the apocalypse or whatever it is?

Zed: How was it out there… today?

Adam: Do you think I could get a glass of something first?

Zed: What do you want?

Adam: Do we have any scotch left?

Zed: Don’t you remember using the last of it to clean Malden’s wounds?

Adam: That was the last of it?

Zed: You didn’t know that?

Adam: How is Malden, then?

Zed: Any guess why my hands are so dirty?

Adam: You buried him then?

Zed: How about some beer? Would you like a glass?

Adam: Is it clean?

Zed: Is anything here clean? So, how was your journey? How is it out there?

Adam: Do you remember snowglobes? You know how you would look at a snowglobe and everything looks so peaceful and then you turn it upside down and shake it until it’s all just a swirling chaos? Now can you imagine our whole world as a snowglobe in the hands of some cosmic kid? Does that paint a picture?

Zed: Do we know who they are yet? Where they come from? Do we know anything at all?

Adam: Did Malden say anything before he died? Did he say anything about the attaché case he was carrying? About what was in there?

Zed: What does that have to do with… ? Was Malden with Thinktank? Do you think he came here from HQ? Do you think he came here to help fight off the invaders?

Adam: Doesn’t it all fit? Didn’t you think it was suspicious how he knew so much about things we had to piece together over the last three weeks? How he knew about the poisonous red spores? How he knew to take cover when the flying creatures wailed?

Zed: Didn’t you suppose he worked it out like we did?

Adam: But then where did he get all of his fancy equipment? Where did he get the hasmat suit?

Zed: Don’t we have hasmat suits too?

Adam: But don’t you think it’s odd how new and well fitted his was? Didn’t you and I have to cobble together our suits from what we could salvage from the surplus store?

Zed: But if Malden was with Thinktank what was he doing out here? Why wasn’t he back at HQ trying to thwart this invasion?

Adam: Do you think HQ matters anymore?

Zed: What are you saying?

Adam: Assuming Malden is… or was with Thinktank, do you really think HQ can help anyone anymore? Do you think, after three weeks, anyone is coming to help us? If there was any hope, do you think Malden would have been out here wandering around in his well fitted hasmat suit and fancy equipment?

Zed: What are we to do? Where are we to go?

Adam: You know what I think?

Zed: What?

Adam: What would you do if you belonged to a well funded, well equipped, super secret, pseudogovernmental organization and you caused a rift in the time-space continuum and hostile extra-dimensional beings invaded your world?

Zed: Is that what you think they are?

Adam: What would you do?

Zed: How should I know? I don’t even have a university education, do I? How would I know what one of those well-to-do, front-of-the-class, know-it-alls would do?

Adam: Have you ever heard the story of the three wizards who found a dead tiger?

Zed: A dead tiger?

Adam: What if we brought him back to life? What if we could do that? What would happen? Why not find out?

Zed: Did they? What happened?

Adam: What do tigers do? Do you think a tiger is grateful when he comes back from the dead? Or do you think he’s just hungry?

Zed: The tiger ate them?

Adam: So, I ask you again, why do you think our friend Malden was out here wandering by himself?

Zed: Are you saying… they were the ones who started this? That Thinktank raised the tiger, so to speak? But what if you’re wrong? What if help is still on the way? There’s no harm in hoping, is there?

Adam: What if we are the hope now? What if we know more than they do? Where’s that attaché case Malden was carrying? Can you hand it to me?

Zed: Should we open this seal? Aren’t we breaking a law or something when we open the seal?

Adam: Do you think that matters any more? Well, what do we have here?

Zed: What did you find?

Adam: Malden, Malden, Malden, what have you wrought? What have you done in the name of knowledge, my dead friend?

Zed: Why didn’t he tell us any of this? See the dates on these files?

Adam: How long have they known about this? How long, I wonder, were they communicating with these beings until they finally convinced Malden or some other schmuck with a degree and an overinflated opinion of himself to open the door and let them in?

Zed: What were they thinking?

Adam: “What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare sieze the fire?”

Zed: What’s that?

Adam: A poem about a tiger.

Of course, Adam is quoting William Blake's "The Tyger," a poem comprised almost entirely of questions.

April 24, 2008

"We take the 'PITA' out of 'HOSPITALITY'"

My kids and I were just passing by a hotel on our way to rehearsal and Emma, as she often does, read aloud what was on the sign:

Emma: Hos... lity

Me: Hosp... t'lity?

Emma: Nope, just Hos, space, space, space, space, lity.

Me: Oh, maybe that's their new slogan...

Emma: What?

Me: "We take the 'pain in the ass' out of 'hospitality.'"

Emma and Simon: Huh?

Then, of course, I had to explain the acronym "PITA." It was what educators call a "teachable moment."

April 23, 2008

It's Not a Compound

This is a mash up using footage from an ABC interview with some of the women from the polygamist sect in Texas which was raided recently. It's an eerie and somewhat disturbing look at the clash of cultures.

Pulp Fiction as written by William Shakespeare

url.jpegWhat began as a wonderful thread going on at the livejournal of Kevin Pease is now a full fledged wiki for the reconstruction of Pulp Fiction as if it had been written by William Shakespeare.

Here's a sample:

JULES: Your pardon; did I break thy concentration?
Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.
Allow me then to offer a response.
Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.
BRETT: What?
J: What country dost thou hail from?
B: What?
J: Thou sayest thou dost hail from distant What?
I know but naught of thy fair country What.
What language speak they in the land of What?
B: What?
J: English, base knave, dost thou speak it?
B: Aye!
J: Then hearken to my words and answer them!
Describe to me Marsellus Wallace!
B: What?
JULES presses his knife to BRETT's throat
J: Speak 'What' again! Thou cur, cry 'What' again!
I dare thee utter 'What' again but once!
I dare thee twice and spit upon thy name!
Now, paint for me a portraiture in words,
If thou hast any in thy head but 'What',
Of Marsellus Wallace!
B: He is dark.
J: Aye, and what more?
B: His head is shaven bald.
J: Hath he the semblance of a harlot?
B: What?
JULES strikes and BRETT cries out
J: Hath he the semblance of a harlot?
B: Nay!
J: Then why didst thou attempt to bed him thus?
B: I did not!
J: Aye, thou didst! O, aye, thou didst!
Thou sought to rape him like a chattel whore!
And sooth, Lord Wallace is displeased to bed
With aught but Lady Wallace, whom he wed.

April 22, 2008

Blogger X - A Drama

Blogger X - I like X! X makes me happy!

Commenter 1 - I give tacit support for your love of X, but somewhat less enthusiastic support than yours.

Commenter 2 - I point out certain deficits in X, but affirm Blogger X as having the right to hold that opinion.

Commenter 3 - I don't like X because of some childhood trauma.

Commenter 4 - I don't like X because of its negative impact on the environment, cultural morals, or because X is a cheap imitation of Z.

Commenter 5 - I affirm Z as being better. X sucks.

Commenter 6 - X sucks.

Commenter 7 - X sucks more than Z but Z sucks too.

Commenter 8 - X sucks and Blogger X sucks.

Commenter 9 - I defend Blogger X and cast aspersions upon Commenter 8.

Commenter 8 - Commenter 9 sucks.

Commenter 1 - I try to calm everyone down.

Commenter 8 - Commenter 1 is a self righteous prig.

Commenter 5 - I roll my eyes.

Admin - Stop it.

Commenter 8 - Admin sucks.

Commenter 7 - Yeah, what Commenter 8 said.

Admin - Ban.

Commenter 8 as Commenter 10 - You all suck. I launch into a diatribe against everybody.

Admin - Come on guys.

Commenter 1 - This used to be such a good blog.

Commenter 3 - This is all Blogger X's fault, really.

Blogger X - Meh?

April 21, 2008

Umbrella Recycling

blackumbrellas.jpgJust in time for Earth Day I thought I'd share my own form of conservation of umbrella resources. I don't own an umbrella. I have, in the past, owned a panoply of crappy black umbrellas that you can pick up for $5 or so, but I always end up losing them or leaving them places, which has led to my current practice.

If I ever really need an umbrella, which is very rare, maybe once a year or less, I simply walk into a nearby restaurant or shop and approach the cashier and say, "Hi! Can I check your Lost and Found? I think I left a black umbrella the last time I was here." Almost invariably there is a black umbrella in the Lost and Found and the clerk is more than happy to get rid of it.

Now, for those of you who will immediately say this is unethical I'd agree that, nominally, there is some prevarication involved but, in its favor, I'd posit the following.

First of all, it's sustainable. Reusing otherwise idle umbrellas languishing in some Lost and Found cuts down on capricious use of resources.

Secondly, it passes Kant's categorical imperative. What if everyone did this? Well, that would mean that umbrellas would actually get used and people wouldn't buy umbrellas that they didn't need. Eventually it is possible that Lost and Founds might divest themselves of umbrellas, and then the market will correct itself with people buying more umbrellas, but I really don't see that happening in my lifetime. So, in my opinion, if everyone did this it would be a net good.

Third, it's not like I haven't invested in the umbrella economy. I have, in fact, donated many umbrellas to the glut of abandoned umbrellas that clog Lost and Found boxes.

So be kind to the earth and check your local Lost and Found for an umbrella next time you need one.

April 19, 2008

Director's Notes

crystal-ball.jpgI went to a production of Blithe Spirit last night at a local high school. It had a Director's Note like none I've ever seen. Most Director's Notes for plays fall into the following categories:

  • My Artistic Vision - These are always amusing, typically arrogant, and often portend disaster for the next 2 hours.
  • Thank You So Much - This is what a director says when he or she can't think of anything else to say. Also often portends disaster.
  • Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge - The director makes little inside jokes that you just had to be there for. Your friend in the cast will explain it after the show through hails of laughter. Smile and nod.
  • I Have a Masters Degree - Hey, the director spent a lot of time and money getting that degree. Might as well put it to use. Yawn.
  • The History of this Play - Blah, blah, blah. Start the frickin' play already.

This page long "note," however, read like a paper on British-Indian relations in the middle of the 20th century when Great Britain was divesting itself of its colonial possessions. When I got to the bottom of this dissertation it was all because of two lines in the play that disparage Indians and how they decided to leave the lines in even though they are "offensive" and how they do "not in any way condone these beliefs."

I rolled my eyes.

I had never seen Blithe Spirit, though I knew the gist of it. Fabulous dead wife returns from the dead to haunt living husband and domineering living wife. So it was fun for me, considering the lengthy disclaimer in the Director's Notes, to see what this Catholic High School thought wasn't worth disclaiming...

  • Alcohol Abuse - The characters are constantly drinking and it's a major theme of the play, but, on the whole, apparently better than racial slurs.
  • Wife Beating - The dead wife mentions how her husband struck her with a pool cue but that she still loved him. Better than calling Indians lazy!
  • Occult Practice - Summoning people from the dead, while strictly forbidden in scripture, is still more acceptable than racial epithets!
  • Tobacco Use - Considering the current civic obsession about smoking I'm surprised that there wasn't a disclaimer about people smoking in the 1940s being the social norm, but apparently casting aspersions on Indians is worse!
  • Adultery - There's plenty of discussion about infidelities and trysts and indiscretions and other naughty extra-marital behavior which kinda made me blush coming from the mouths of 16 and 17 year olds, but apparently that doesn't merit a disclaimer.

Oh, and not only did these brief comments merit a full page disclaimer, but were the main topic of the opening curtain speech which went on for several minutes. Nothing about how hard the kids had worked on the play or how fun the play was to do. Nope, the director seemed bent on making sure no one was offended.

And that, unfortunately, is what it all comes down to... making sure no one is offended. And, of course, this is evidence of social psychosis. Because we can't control what offends people any more than we can control what makes people sad, or happy, or angry. I mean, sure, it's good to be considerate, but it's a slippery slope to start apologizing for certain things and leaving other issues out. And if we can only do plays that don't offend anyone well, there goes Shakespeare, Moliere, Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and, well, just about any other playwright of note.

So, to all the artists out there, I hereby give you permission to make art that may offend me. Go for it.

April 15, 2008

Das Rad (The Wheel)

This too shall pass.

April 14, 2008

"The marathon is easy. There are no lions."

isaya.jpgIsaya, a 24 year old chief of the Maasai, led 5 warriors in the London Marathon yesterday to raise money for his village. He had never run a marathon before. He'd never been to England before. He recorded some of his thoughts in a journal.

This quotation and the journal reminds me of how much of my life I take for granted. Not that my life is necessarily any better than his, just very different. I assume life is the way that it is because it's always been that way, more or less. His journal is a good reminder just how indoctrinated a person can be to one's culture.


April 13, 2008

Chemistry Card Game

This looks like an amazingly cool way to learn chemistry. Elementeo is a collectible card game where each card is based on an element or a compound and has an action appropriate to the element or compound. There are also alchemy cards which are like action cards.

And if that wasn't cool enough, the game was designed by a 14 year old. I tip my geek king crown to you, Anshul Samar.


King of the Geeks


Last night at Geek Prom I was honored with the coveted title of Geek Prom King. My reign will last until next year's Geek Prom.

It was a really fun evening. One of the best parts was to have people come up to me who have only known me from this blog and start to talk with me. Thanks all of you. Last night was amazing. After the coronation when people were congratulating me it was really odd. It was like being congratulated just for being myself because, as you know dear reader, I am a geek.

Thanks to Starfire for the photo above and other Geek Prom photos.


The lovely Heather Lake, myself, and the fabulously talented Krista Schultz. I wish you could see the red and white superhero boots Krista was sporting. Notice Heather's amazingly retro crimped hair style. Priceless.


I finally met Laurie and her husband, who was close on my heels in the running for Geek King. I also met Christina and she has some dandy pictures on her own blog.

April 10, 2008

Advice for America's Next Top Model


NASA is really branching out!

April 9, 2008

Simon Quote of the Day

notAngry.jpg"I'm not throwing a fit!
I'm... gently tossing a fit."

This boy definitely has a future as a comedy writer.
Or a lawyer.
Or a philosopher.

April 8, 2008

My New Home

daar138942.jpgAs of June 23 I will be residing at 5209 London Road in Duluth [satellite]. It's a beautiful house and I and the kids are very excited about taking up residence there. I'm hoping it will be our home for years and years, even decades, to come.

April 4, 2008

DC Tips

flashearth_dc.jpgMy kids and I are going to be traveling to Washington DC next month for 3 days to see the sites. When I ask them what they want to do there the things that come are the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Mall, the Capitol Building, and the White House. They also have a vague idea that there are a few museums around the area that might be fun to go to.

I thought I'd ask you, gentle reader, to suggest some good things for us to do while there. I remind you that my kids are 10 and 13.

Also, we'll be staying at the Red Roof Inn so that will be our HQ. Here's our hotel on Flash Earth. We'll be traveling in by train so we won't have a car at our disposal, so we'll either be walking, taking a cab, or public transportation.

God Rocks - A RockuMockumentary

God Rocks is the first feature film by Duluth based 4 Track Films. It's set to be released soon. It features a lot of people I know and love. It looks hilarious.

April 3, 2008


So I was just reading through my news feeds and saw this headline...


...and I'm racking my brain to name just one Mariah Carey song, chartbuster or not, and I can't think of one. I could name a score of Elvis Presley hits and I'm not even a big fan of his. I could name Beatles songs until the cows come home. But Mariah Carey?

So I'm either completely culturally out of touch or they don't make pop icons like they used to. I'm betting it's a combination of the two, but bigger than Elvis and the Beatles? Puh-leeeeeze.

So, I'll ask you. Can you name all of Mariah Carey's 18 chart toppers? 6? 1?

April 2, 2008

Carrie Newcomer on YouTube

I knew Carrie back in West Lafayette, Indiana. She was a frequent headliner at a Friday night coffee house I helped start and she and I collaborated on some theater projects. She also sang at my wedding back in 91. It's nice to see her going strong and putting out material on her own YouTube channel.

More Happy Thoughts on Death

This one goes out to Heather.

Second Skin

I'm intrigued by this trailer for the documentary Second Skin, which chronicles the lives of 7 online gamers whose experiences vary greatly.

And for those who keep on telling us gamers to get Outside, well the review of that game isn't that good. Apparently while the graphics are phenomenal and it is purportedly "free of charge" playing the game involves a lot of grinding and the economy is kind of arbitrary and confusing. Further the PvP system is flawed to the point of unplayability. Also you are pretty much required to get the "job expansion pack" which involves a lot of pointless, repetitive tasks.

Thanks to Fuzzy for pointing me to the review.

April 1, 2008

Somewhere and Somewhen Else


Star Wars rocked my ten year old world. I can't even begin to describe the excitement of seeing Star Wars for the very first time. One of the things that made that movie such an amazing experience was the transitory nature of going to the movies in 1977. I have to remind my kids, one of whom is the same age I was when I first saw Star Wars, that back in the day when you saw a movie in a theater that was it. There was no DVD coming out dependably in 6 months. When it left the theater it was gone. So you watched movies differently back then. I think I was more alert than I am now. More anxious to notice every detail.

StarWarsMoviePoster1977.jpgI think what was so groundbreaking for me about this film was that it conceived of a world without us. Most science fiction or fantasy I had read up to this point projected either forward or backward with our own civilization being the grounding point. It was either in a distant or imagined future or past. But Star Wars was neither. It occurred in "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

In other words, from the opening words my mind was blown.

Star Wars is not, in the strictest sense, science fiction. It's fantasy dressed in science fiction garb. But what works in the story is that it transports the viewer into an entirely different world. It opens your mind to possibilities previously unimagined. And when you return to your own world you look at it differently.

What was your first encounter with Star Wars?

Movies that Changed my World

platos_cave_b.jpgToday I'm launching an occasional series about movies that changed the way I look at the world which I'm calling "World Shift." One of the things I love about movies is the ability to escape into another time and place and, occasionally, a moment of inspiration or clarity where things just click. Every so often, every couple of years or so, there's a movie that comes along that just really makes me reconsider how I perceive things.

In The Republic Plato uses an allegory of people trapped in a cave with a shadow play in front of them which they mistake for reality. They have to be freed from the illusion to climb out into the real world.

Ironically sometimes it takes me sitting in a darkened cave of a room with a shadow play of images before me to rethink and look anew at the real world around me.

Also, as I'm sure you'll find out, the Allegory of the Cave is a theme which is prominent in some of my favorite movies.

I hope you enjoy this series and feel free to share your own world shifting movie moments.