Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RTT: Baby, It's Cold Outside!

If you like Random Thoughts Tuesday, take a look at the Un Mom. She invented it. Go ahead, it won't kill you.


There exist activities in life that are lonely. Long distance running, writing poetry, taxidermy, watching CSPAN. But none hold a candle to the stark solitude of the King of Seclusion: Astronomy.

Sure, it sounds sexy and sophisticated. When I tell people at parties that I am an amateur astronomer, I can see that they naturally want to get closer to me and spend the rest of the party with me holding court over their fascinated faces. It shows in their eyes. Those expressions cannot mask the feelings of attraction and enchantment. Undeniably alluring, as you no doubt will agree.

Yet somehow, people are always too shy to ask more, and they turn away. Perhaps it's their embarrassment of not understanding the Messier Catalog, or their confusion over even the simplest aspects of astronomy, like Stellar Magnitude. Even when I explain the most seductive topics, like Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion with regard to Orbital Mechanics (I see that come-hither look in your eyes already) people naturally cut and run, rather than succumb to their greater desire to spend an evening of star gazing ecstasy.

Therefore, it is my lot in life to spend those long, ebon-blanketed nights with my notebooks and charts, peering through the atmosphere into the deep chasm of the cosmos, keeping all of my heavenly euphoria to myself. But what is seclusion, if not the joy of spending one's time with the company of inner greatness and divinity? Oh yes, some have scoffed at that. But I showed them. I showed them all! When I bring out my completed Messier Certificate and flash that baby at the Scoffers, who has the last laugh, I ask you? Hah! I say. Hah, hah!

Hah! One last time. And last night, while I watched the partial Lunar Eclipse, who had the Divine power then? Was it those in slumber? Of course not. Even my own wife, warmly tucked under the blankets, could not stop my visual caressing of the Lunar surface.

She could, however, lock the house up, forgetting that I was standing in the yard, with the nighttime temperature of 20°F compressing itself into my body, seeping deep into my bones themselves.

You know what? Forget it. Astronomy sucks. I think I'll learn chess. Enjoy the friggin' picture of the Moon, from the other post, Scoffers!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 by Some Cool Kid

Have to say, I'm digging this piece of music. It helps that the kid playing it is my son, Wolfgang Amadeus Marshmallow. You'll need either 11 spare minutes, or a good touch with the FF controls on your player.

It looks great at Original Size and Full Screen Mode. Pardon the sound, this was recorded on my iPhone.

Friday night, December 10, 2010.

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, by Franz Liszt.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

RTT and a Bottle of Rum

Keely, the Un Mom is the creator of RTT so go see her, ask for Banana Pancakes, and show some damn manners while you're over there.

Coconut Rum, to be exact. Not for me. For a friend who loves the stuff. Me, I'm a lightweight. Single Malt Scotch Whisky, from Islay, Scotland. The real smoky, peaty stuff. Laphroaig, Bowmore, Bruichladdie. Yum!

But only a wee dram at a time. And I'd be lying if I said it were for medicinal purposes, because it's strictly for life extension purposes.

I think of it as a version of Pascal's Wager, but for booze. If I believe it will help me live longer and better, then by drinking it I may live longer. If it doesn't help me live longer, then I still get the satisfaction of that taste and feel. I win either way. Just don't introduce any other possible outcomes to me (like liver disease), and I'm good to go.

Also, don't bother me with details about how this is a totally shitty way to look at Pascal's Wager. I already know that, but this is my RTT fantasy, and I'll strangle you with the crook of your own arm if you try and ruin it for me.


Diddle Diddle Dumpling, my Son John's Hands


If you ever find yourself in the position to see this sight, remember to enjoy it, but also remember to get under cover. And for god's sake do not look straight up in awe and say, "Wowwwww!"


On a related note, my wings are tarnished, but please don't tell anyone. 

On a note unrelated to the thing the other note was related to, but related to the previous note itself, I always liked Ginger way better than Mary Ann. Seriously guys, M.A. was all sugar and spice and coconut cream pie nice, but who are you really staring at the whole time? Be honest.


Oh, and if you've enjoyed any of this, found it tolerable, want to bear children with me, or just want other people to share in your misery after reading it, please do recommend this blog. It would mean a lot to me, and it would mean the world to Buster. So if not for me, then look into his eyes, feel his neediness, and do it for Buster. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Peter O'Toole.
Need I say more?


Leslie Nielsen.
No Shirley jokes, please. Ever see him in Forbidden Planet? Or the Poseidon Adventure? As the Swamp Fox? Tammy and The Bachelor? He was great. Even before Airplane! But oh, so funny after that.


I wish my toenails grew faster. And my nose hair slower.


I have a very realistic looking fake foot in my closet. It was used as an anatomical model for teaching nurses how to check for neuropathy, but I keep it just to freak people out when they come to visit my house. You now have a heads up on that.


Oh, and Peter O'Toole isn't dead yet. Eventually he will be, but not at the time of this writing. 


If you've never been to Centralia, Pennsylvania (and why the hell would you have been?), you should put it on your list of creepy places to visit, or even on your list of regular places to visit. However, it is not regular. It is a ghost town. I love going there, especially in winter. 


Props, as always, to Keely, the Un Mom, creator of RTT:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nice Things

When someone commits an Random Act of Kindness upon you, it's nice. Naturally, when it happens to most of us, our first reaction is suspicion. However, in the microsecond before my suspicion gene kicks in, I have a wonderful moment of gratitude, surprise, and warmness. I suppose those are the endorphins surging into my brain. Makes me happy that the endorphins are faster than the susporphins (write that new word down, kiddies).

I wonder what my face looks like when these little chemical surges are going on? Does the RAofK bestower see my endorphin rush through my eyes? Does that person then see my mental defensive shield raise up? I hope so, and I hope not. When you do something nice for another person, ideally you don't do it for any reason other than it's the right thing to do. You don't do it to feel like a potential threat, or pedophile, or creep, and you sure don't enjoy that type of reaction. So I hate to think that my tendency toward putting my guard up is making a do-gooder feel that I mistrust them. Of course, actual creeps are excluded here. I absolutely want them to feel like I'm their personal parole officer.

The event that got me thinking about this is a very simple RAofK that I received from a blogger, I.T. Guru, and fellow Twitter-er, Rob Brown. He had seen a review I had written regarding a new email application called Humail. It's a great idea for email, although may not be for everyone. Feel free to check it out.
My review stated my frustrations with the app, and my wish that it were more functional, because I really want to use it and like it.

I guess Rob saw my review (just guesswork, because I don't know Rob and he could only have known about me from reading what I wrote about it on the web). Well, in short, Rob sent me a nice Tweet to let me know he had written an in-depth review of Humail, and thought it might be helpful to me. It was, and is. By reading it, I learned more about Humail, but I also learned that Rob is a very good writer, reviewer, and expert in computer tech stuff. So I gained another on line "friend" and he helped out a total stranger.

That's nice. It one of those deals in life I call Nice Things. Now do yourself a favor. Check out Rob's blog. It's really good. And you know what? You'll be doing a RAofK to Rob and to me.

I will overlook your raised eyebrow of suspicion when you check it out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

RTT Wall of Shame

When everyone around me (all under the age of fetus to my ancient brain) starts talking about how they love the Kings of Leon, I gamely go along with them and nod vigorously. Although when I look for Leon on Google Earth, I can't find it. Nor is it in the CIA Factbook on countries. And can anyone tell me why Leon has more than one king?


I stayed up way too late last night watching programs on Supermassive Black Holes, and how we should mine the Moon for Helium 3. Then, after about 1 am, I tried to read Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. Who does shit like that? I fell asleep with my iPad on my chest.


My wife does volunteer work for Meals on Wheels, which is a magnificent organization, by the way. One of her coworkers is a 74 year old man named Max. Max is energetic, and only biologically 74. He has the mind of a 20-something, and a great attitude to match. But he does one thing that cracks me up and costs me time. He keeps giving my wife books and CDs on rock bands for me to check out. In particular, on The Band, you know, Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, those guys.

Now, I happen to LOVE the band and I even go see Levon when he performs up near Woodstock at his home. You can't beat that. Great stuff. But Max is killing my productivity as much as this blog is killing it! Max, for the love of my sanity, please stop!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Treatise Rant Regarding Rational Thought

I'm not actually prepared to write anything right now, let alone a Treatise, so let me just wonder for a moment. I have a difficult time understanding people who are determined to avoid rational thought. In particular, when it comes to science, religion, woo, and personal belief systems. This comes up as I have recently tried to discuss a topic in an atheist web forum.

A Christian came into this forum, which I happen to moderate. His first post wasn't an introduction, but a question to atheists. He asked, "If the God of the bible really exists (kind of a big 'If' on an atheist forum), do you think he could reveal himself to you in a way that would satisfy your belief in him? So that you'd know 100% that he exists."

If it is not apparent to you at first reading, why this "What if?" scenario is off base in a number of ways, then maybe this isn't a post you should bother reading at all, let alone participate in.

I can barely wrap my head around this kind of nonsense stuff...these 'what if' things. He might as well ask, "If a carpet fiber could build an electron microscope, would you be 100% convinced that ten monkeys could hijack a planet from orbit and learn the words to 'Louie, Louie'?"
It's about the same degree of nonsensical question to me. The first part of his question, the "Suppose god exists" part, has nothing to do with what we can know or not know. Neither is there any reason to "know" anything with the ideal, but nonexistent 100% certainty. I know where this guy was trying to lead the topic, because fundamentalist Christians love to tout that they have the absolute truth and thus have 100% certainty of things, and therefore, try to use that as a way to make non-believers doubt their own positions. It's a purely philosophical and psychological manipulative trick, in essence. Bugs the shit out of me.

This is as far as I want to take this topic today. More of a rant than anything, but had to put it out there.

Feel free to comment, criticize, unfollow, or get more people to follow me! Really. I'm interested in others' thoughts on this.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Note To The Uninitiated

In case it's not obvious from my writing, I love (reading and) using the Unreliable Narrator in stories. Importantly, I love him especially when he is reliable most of the time, and only occasionally falls into disrepute. More specifically, I am deeply fond of the Unreliable Narrator when she doesn't know she is unreliable. It's almost ecstasy for me.

Just keep this in mind, my seraphic readers, when you come to a point at which you say to yourself, "What an asshole! I thought he was serious." Almost everything I write is all true, has a grain of truth, or is somewhat based on a version of reality in the Multiverses. If not, at least I'll convince myself and you that it is, for a time.

A Voting Tradition Continues

Just a quick note, or perhaps, bragging rights for me yet again this year. Mrs. Marshmallow and I have a tradition that goes back to college, wherein we hold a physical contest for who gets to control the votes that come from our house, in any election. Sometimes it's a footrace to the polling place. It could be a watermelon seed spitting contest. It's even been an around-the-world solo yacht race (that might have been my first or second wife, I forget these details, especially when they end so tragically and without the closure of finding that person lost at sea). In all fairness, I did turn back from my own heading to look for her right up to the point of having to continue or risk losing the world record time.

This year, she unwisely suggested arm wrestling. I mean, please! What was she thinking? I am the Defiant Marshmallow, after all. I suppose the post victory celebration could have been more subdued, but you can't judge or throw stones unless you been in the shoes of someone who wins one of these contests. Besides, who can resist a live Cirque du Soleil show right in your own front yard?

I did make the write in choices easy for her though. Cthulhu is a lot easier to write than it is to say. And how easy is it to write Fine, Howard, and Fine?

Piece of cake.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Random Thoughts, Random Votes.

It's Your Right.
Don't Screw It Up!

I'm not gonna go for the easy, "It comes down to voting between a douche and a turd sandwich." I'm just not gonna. I want to, though.

I did a carefully measured, placebo controlled, double-blind, crossover study of political TV ads this year (meaning: I watched a couple of commercials without changing channels this week). What I found may shock you, but, believe it or not, some of those ads were simply attacks on the character of one candidate by his or her opponent. While it may seem like a good idea to the low-road candidate at the time he approves an attack ad, what he fails to understand is that for 30 seconds, all I can hear coming from the (louder than the program I was watching) commercial is his opponent's name! Over and over and over.

Being the conscientious American I am, I have done so little prework on any of the candidates, I'm most likely to vote for the name I've heard or seen most often. Which means, when I hear "Joe Sestak" 50 million times in a week, I couldn't give a rip about the context in which I heard it. I'm simply familiar with his name. So I feel like I know Joe. I love Joe. I want Joe to be my guy. I don't care if he molested church mice in Afganistan with Voldemort. He's gonna get my vote.

Now, many people would think that I'm just wasting my vote. Au contraire! Ralph Nader wasted my vote. John Anderson wasted my vote. Pat Paulsen wasted my....no, I take that back. Paulsen was an excellent choice.

My point is this...

...Shit! my train of thought derailed back in the Voldemort paragraph. I forgot my point. Which is exactly my point! We vote as randomly as we think. Why not go in and vote for the candidate you think is hottest? You may not like the job she does, but at least when the Fox News puts her on TV, you'll get that warm feeling in your nethers and you'll take your next bathroom break a happier person.

Make up your own criteria for voting. Height, sex, favorite NASCAR driver, number of appearances on Letterman. Who cares? Just don't pretend that you are voting because you agree with the candidates platform, because if you're being honest, you don't have a damn clue what it is anyway. I watched Sarah Palin give an interview in which she hallucinated may have elucidated her platform. Who knows? The whole time I watched her, all I could think was, "Doesn't she see or hear that guy behind her slaughtering those turkeys?" And that's also the only thing I could subsequently remember about her "platform" Turkeys getting their heads ripped off!

Also, she was hot.

So get out there and vote. Write me in if you want. I was hot, back in 2005. Ask the RenFaire people, if you don't believe me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sasquatch is a Pansy

In my zeal to watch something Halloweenie on Netflix tonight, I scraped the bottom of the barrel, found a false bottom under it, dug some more, and finally hit the real bottom of the barrel. Occupying that nether level was the movie I watched: Assault on Sasquatch.

It is a combination of bads for sure. It has the bad acting bad, the bad set pieces bad, bad continuity, bad creature effects, bad editing, bad direction, bad exposition, bad sound, and just a lot of bad moments that make you think in terms of "These guys suck."

It could have been worse, I suppose. Sasquatch could have married the leading lady. Or man. Maybe in the sequel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Swirling Leaves and Pumpkins

I have a weekly ritual that is very important to me - to my general feeling of health and well-being. It involves going to a friend's house and discussing various subjects relating to the human condition, watching British Comedy and cultural events, and partaking of good company. To me, it feels a bit like what is described in older novels and literature of mid to late 19th century England, when friends would gather to spend time at some manor to play, talk, write, or simply laze.

Of course, this is all without the accoutrements of that era, and with the technology of today to helps us along. What started out as a lark has become a very personally fulfilling part of my life. Originally intended as a night to do some Blues jam sessions and to watch Rifftrax  or Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, it has morphed and evolved into much more. Yes, we still watch the odd film (and I do mean odd) now and then, but we found ourselves naturally gravitating toward more heady stuff. I don't believe there is a subject or item that is not appropriate for these evenings. Examples:

Sure, most of this comes from the U.K. Why? Because we can't or won't air this here in the U.S. 
Can you imagine the shit-storm that would come raging in behind a three part special on the growing movement of "disbelief" in the country? I can. Mom, apple pie, Chevrolet, and real Americans would riot in the streets, and you know just how ugly it is when apple pie riots.

Truth is, this is refreshing, eye-opening, and often sobering. I hate sobering. But I'll take it any day over a new episode of The Jersey Shore. Hey, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "But I like The Jersey Shore!" Well, fine then. Go ahead and like it. After all, I'm not the Thought Police. But if you tell me you like it, I'll probably slap you across the face like a southern deb would slap a rascal. But many times harder. 'nuff said.

Oh yeah, this story needs two things, aside from real writing talent. One is a return to my opening thought: the ritual. So here it is. I need this ritual, or at least something like it. I need it more than Kim Jong-il needs lifts in his shoes (and a tailor, and a good mortician). Just wanted to share that with you.

Oh, and the whole "Swirling Leaves and Pumpkins" thingy. Well, on my drive home tonight through town, I saw a whole lot of both. See, I drive through town late at night with my windows down, so I can see, smell, hear, and feel the ambiance of my little town. It's small, quaint, Rockwellesque, and needs to be experienced, not just driven through. So, late at night, when the chance of pissing off other drivers is lowest, I drive very slowly through town with the car windows down and take it all in. All year round. And tonight was swirling leaves, pumpkins, the smell of autumn, and a cool breeze. Perfect. 

You should have been here for it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Learned Something New Today

I learned something new today. Although I probably learn new things every day, there are days when I am aware that I've learned something new. This is one of those days. I have people to thank for this, before I tell you what I've learned. Any time you learn anything, you have someone to thank for it, in case you weren't aware. I'm going to thank two complete strangers. Hell, I only know one of their names.

See, learning isn't always about your "Eureka!" moments - those brief glimpses of genius or inspiration that hit you when you are all alone - it is usually about some mundane activity in which someone else nudges your neurons into action. The smallest word, or sentence, the briefest look at another person's intellect, which triggers your own to say, "Wow! Cool!"

That was today, when I read a Twitter post from Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer, himself), which led me to a link on the web, which led me to a blog by a very enrapturing persona, named Barbara. I don't know Barbara. I don't know Phil, although I corresponded with him once on email, years ago. But I have to thank both of them for making my neurons crank up today. Why? Shit, if you don't know the answer to that, then you need to click on the link to Barbara's blog and read it. If, after reading it, you still don't know, then don't ask me for help!

But I'll briefly say why anyway. Because first of all, those moments when you know you've learned something valuable feel sooo good! It's one of the best feelings you can have with your clothes on. Or off. Second, it's important to be mentally stimulated every day. For some of us, it's important to be mentally stimulated most of the time. If my brain isn't going like an Olympic Luge Racer, I get depressed. Not clinically - well at least, not always not clinically.

So, before my train of thought derails too much further, here is the topic that jogged the noggin and sent me into spasms of mental orgasms (yeah, I wrote it like that on purpose).

Appropriately, the blog is called Spasms of Accommodation, and I hope its author, Barbara, does not object to my singling her out for thanks. Or that I am now following her blog, very un-stalker like, of course. Because she just made my day. So thanks, Barbara!

On a long side note, I think it's important to say thank you to people. Notice how rare "thank you" has become? No? Pay attention and you will. I thank people all the time. Smile at them too. I also say peoples' names back to them when they speak with me. Why? Because it makes people happy to hear, "thank you, or thanks". And it makes people happy to see a genuine smile. And it makes people happy to hear their name being spoken aloud by another human being. Try them sometime, it's true.

So, thank you, Barbara, and please keep up the wonderful blog! Oh, and Phil, thank you too, even though I realize that neither you nor Barbara will probably ever read this. Come to think of it, I may be the only one who ever reads this. But hey, I gotta write the words!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Reading a book. "The Last Stand", about the Battle of the Little Bighorn. There's so much more to that event than we were ever taught in school. It's a shame that we don't get enough of U.S. History any more.

It wasn't "Custer's Last Stand", really. It was Sitting Bull's (and Crazy Horse's) Ass-kicking of the 7th Cavalry. Custer just happened to be one of the egomaniacal leaders on the fateful day (and the days leading up to it). There's a great deal of 20/20 hindsight in all historical military study, but that's how we learn to not repeat mistakes. Unfortunately for Custer, he didn't learn from mistakes so much as think he was immune to paying the consequences of them. So were his co-leaders, Benteen, Reno, et al.

Their personal relationships and antagonistic feeling for one another played a huge role in the slaughter. Worst of all was the abysmal level of communication between them and the assumptions they made. Add to that, the sheer number of Lakota, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes they fought against, and the skill of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and you get what we know as a massacre.

Amazing stuff. Must visit the site someday and walk the routes leading to and around the battles those two days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


He wrote some really great songs.
He became cool in peoples' minds.

He went electric.
Some people got angry.
Some people made him a god for it.

He became a legend.
Don't ask me why, I don't know.

He wrote some really great songs.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Defiant Marshmallow

This is the blog spot for the one and only Defiant Marshmallow. You can squish me, burn me, eat me, or let me melt, but I'll still be.

A marshmallow.

In some form, even if it is only atoms of former sticky-sweet goodness.
So, beware the Defiant Marshmallow!