Friday, December 2, 2011

This Made Me Literally Sick To My Stomach

Just go see it. There's nothing gory, gross, visually intimidating, or pornographic, but the little product that Barbara highlights on her blog, Spasms of Accommodation, made me throw up in my mouth.

Thanks for shining the light on this one, Barbara.

And readers, do me a favor, do yourself a favor, do humanity a favor...pass this along, especially if you have a daughter, know a daughter, know a girl, even remotely have affection for any female on Earth.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Not Dead...

Just pretending to have another life away from this keyboard.

Trying to put together some posts worth reading and working my tail off doing other things right now.

Here's a nice picture for you while you wait. It's what I see when I sit back in the chair at my desk and look up. Yes, I built all of them. I plead "nerd".

But remember, I'm a nerd who played Ice Hockey, and I will slash the bejeezus out of you for laughing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weird. Science.

I love science. To be more accurate, I should state that I love the scientific method and critical thinking skills. But I do love science as well. Aside from being an incredibly suave, irresistible Rake, I'm also a guy who gets to work in medical science every day, as a hematology consultant for a biotech company. Which would be awesome if it weren't for the fact that the job doesn't entail enough actual "science". It has too much emphasis on pushing certain treatments over others for my taste, and not enough legit teaching of all treatments for certain disease states.

But I have digressed before making my point. Science.

You may have noticed I haven't written as much about science lately. A lot of this blog is supposed to be about critical thinking, science, skepticism, and fashion accessories. For the two of you still reading, that last item was to make sure you were paying attention.

As vital as I believe critical thought is to the survival of the human species, I seem to have been remiss in promoting it here. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm afraid that I'll fall into one of the many traps that so often catch "science writers". They frequently do things like:

- Talk down to their audience (mainly because they suck at teaching).
- Talk over their audiences' heads (see reason above).
- Commit glaring errors which misinform their audience (Centripetal Force vs. Centrifugal Force - which will be a topic here soon).
- Promote pseudo-science. This one irritates me the most.

But I am planning to make some changes to that and give regular posts on the subject. However, my biggest fear is that I won't keep up with my duties, so I'll need regular input from you readers. You can help! Feel free to ask questions, bring up topics, or otherwise chime in. If I don't know an answer, I'll certainly make something up that sounds convincing.

And there's always Barbara, from Spasms of Accommodation. She's frighteningly brilliant, detail-oriented, and about a thousand times more qualified to write about science. Which is another fear of mine; I'll write something totally nutty and she'll read it. And then the shit will really hit the fan. Actually, I depend on people like Barbara to keep on an even keel. That's the way science works. I come up with something, and somebody else verifies it or shouts, "BULLSHIT!". Isaac Newton was really good at that. It had the effect of making everyone hate his guts and vice versa. So I look forward to the shouts. I think. You know what? Just read her blog instead. Well, throw me a bone now and then too, but really, read her blog. Legit genius and hell of a human being.

Next week will be, Centripetal Force: Or How I Learned To Stay On The Merry-Go-Round.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Power Cookies and The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Stay with me on this one, folks. I'm breaking my own rule of "Keep it short."

Recent travel experiences have led me to believe that although humanity may not necessarily be doomed by its own social flaws, it is absolutely living on thin ice.

In this tale, I address the problem of Power Cookies. You know them; you just don't know that you know them. I have used the term for decades to describe the change that comes over certain people when they are placed in positions of authority or power over other people. Ever met someone who seemed drunk with power? Someone who brandished their authority over you for no reason other than the ability to do so? Think a little, and you'll come up with someone pretty quickly, I'll bet.

-That security guard in your apartment building who acts as if he was the emperor of the front desk area.

-The guy at the college football stadium who keeps you from bringing your camera bag into the game, because, in his words, "Terrorists can use bags to bring bombs into the stadium."*

-Anyone at an airport who pats you down.

-The snotty maître d' who has at least three open tables but will make you wait an hour anyway.

You get it. They are ubiquitous. These people all have something in common: they have all eaten Power Cookies, the invisible, yet powerful snack of petty dictators and angry people worldwide. They must be delicious, because so many people eat enormous quantities of them. And I met one of the more delirious ones, yesterday.

Remember the childhood story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff? Goats want to cross bridge, evil troll under bridge prevents them from crossing and threatens to eat them. That troll had polished off his appetizer of Power Cookies a few minutes before the goats got to his bridge.

My troll was a Continental Airlines Stewardess, Shrike, Harpy, Flight Attendant who still had cookie crumbs dribbling down her chin. I had just run the length of the Houston airport, due to the Keystone Kops-like scheduling of Continental's connecting flights in opposite terminals (in which my flight departing Houston began boarding five minutes before my arriving flight landed!).

Perspiring, winded, and a little miffed (yet still smiling because I actually made it in time), I worked my way to seat 29A only to be met halfway by the aforementioned cookie crumb-laden Troll. Apparently, since being acquired by United Airlines, Continental's new greeting for passengers is to make a throat slashing signal with one's forefinger. I kid you not, the Troll's first action upon meeting me in the aisle was to run her finger across her throat, point at me, and say, "There's no room for your roll away bag."

But it wasn't as if she was informing me of a simple fact. With her best "You're late!" expression, and in her most authoritative voice, she made it sound as if I was trying to storm the plane and steal her special cookies. The words she used said one thing, but the meaning was clear. "Halt, you villainous bastard, or I'll cut your throat and kick your body out of one the three approved emergency exits!"

What the hell do you say to that? Between gasps for air, I tried to explain the situation to her briefly. Her reaction? "Well, sir. I am trying to help you! She wouldn't let me pass so I could at least put my computer bag down on my seat. So I simply asked her where the bag could be placed (at which time I'm sure both of us thought of pretty much the same thing). She had me trudge back to the front of the plane and try to find an overhead bin, which I did.

To shorten this long tale, she did what all flight attendants are trained to do, which is to raise human suffering to a new level, and to assert a certain bitter authority over us puny sardines whom the airlines pack into their winged tins.

Travel. The antithesis of what it should be, thanks to Power Cookies and a Norwegian folk tale.

* I swear on a stack of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life that these are the exact words that were spoken to me by some jerkoff at a Penn State football game when he refused me access to the stadium. My photographer friend and I both had the same cameras with us, but I had mine in its protective bag because it was raining at the time. My friend was allowed in, and I was refused entry because, in addition to my camera, I apparently could have been carrying Fat Man** in my small bag. The result: a half mile walk back to the car, in the rain, to put my camera bag back, and another walk back to the stadium. And I payed for the privilege.

**Look it up yourself, slackers. Respect mah Authority-Tay!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quickies, Toejam, and Appreciation

I have just a few, somewhat random thingy-bops to jot down.

I got to use the word(s?) Toejam in a sentence tonight. It felt really good. The recipient of the sentence is a great blogger. She is under-appreciated. Read her blog and you'll know what I mean.

Mrs. Tuna is awesome:

Appreciation, now that I'm on it...if you feel it toward someone, show it, say it, scream it to that person. Not later, but now. I want you all to do this, because I know that every one of us has someone we appreciate but have failed to acknowledge. And you never know if tomorrow will be too late. Think about how good it feels when someone lets you know you're appreciated for something. Pretty good, isn't it?

Yeah. Spread that stuff around a bit.

Quickies? Not what you think, although the ones you thought of have merit, too.
Quickies has to do with the aforementioned acknowledging of appreciation. As in it doesn't take very long to do. A mere few seconds of your time can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day for someone. Or deeper still, between someone feeling despondent or hopeful.

So give somebody a quickie today and make them feel really fabulous.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 7 X 7 Link Award

On Saturday, I received an award from Nubian. She is a terrific person, talented writer, and just one hell of a good human being. I am quite humbled by her choosing me as one of her awardees. 
The award is the 7 X 7 Link Award. I am to find a number (seven - shocking) posts of my own, and link to them here. Each has a category it will belong to.

I will then pass this award along to seven people. Not just any seven people. Seven of my favorites. If any of you have won this award before, you can be exempt from the assignment portion, but please accept the award as a token of my esteem for you.

My seven posts are:
  1. Most Beautiful (admittedly a difficult one to find): Wildlife Moments
  2. Most Helpful: In my opinion, anything that dispels a myth, urban legend, conspiracy theory or other goofball fantasy is a good thing. Helpful. So I consider this post helpful. Flying Rods
  3. Most Popular: According to the blog's statistics, it is Conversation With A Trophy
  4. Most Controversial: Tough call, as I don't consider myself controversial. Sometimes I stick foot in mouth, but normally, I don't go for controversy. However, having given a strong opinion in this post, I may have stirred some little controversy.
  5. Most Surprisingly Successful: Anything I write is a surprise if it read by one person, let alone successful. Since I can't put all of my posts here, I'll pick one. Submarine Races And Other Things I've Fallen For
  6. Most Underrated: This one I do have a strong opinion on, as it got almost totally blanked after it was published. But I really enjoyed writing it and think it's worth a read. The Do Over
  7. Most Pride-worthy: This was almost a tie, but I'll put my most popular one in here, too. Conversation With A Trophy
I now pass this award along to seven of my very favorite bloggers, even if they've already been given this award by someone else.

Keely, The Un Mom
Barbara, Spasms of Accommodation, because she is quite simply, amazing. 
The Bloggess, as if you didn't see this coming a mile away. 
Think.Stew, who just happens to be brilliant, and someone I'd love to hang out with. My favorite guy in the blogosphere.

And I saved one of my very favorite people in life for last. She will turn beet-red when she reads this because she is genuinely humble and doesn't realize she's a genius - 

If you've been given the award already, you don't have to do anything. The rest of you know what to do. 
And YOU, my dear readers - go see these people and add them to your must-read list!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From a Recent Air Show

It's no secret: I love Air Shows. What can I say? I'm an aviator, through and through. Flew before I could drive, taught by my Navy fighter pilot father, then later trained as an Army Aviator, and flew for years in some kick-ass aircraft.

It's really the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
Now that I don't get to cheat death in these machines, I get the random opportunity to photograph them.

 Enjoy a few pics from a show held at the Lancaster County Community Days Air Show, put on over my birthday weekend this past August.


Got MiG?

Closing speed of over 600 mph. Two jets from the Heavy Metal Jet Team.

The Mig-17 stole the show (and my heart).

"King Kong" just couldn't catch this guy.

And this guy will just plain ruin your day if you're in his sights. A-10 Thunderbolt (aka Warthog).

Old fashioned air conditioning.

Just a little rush hour traffic.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Never Thought I'd Say This, But...

...Shame on you, NOVA!

Tonight, while watching NOVA's special on "Hunting The Hidden Dimension" (a special on fractals), I was treated to a sneak peek of next week's program. This was what I was treated to:

(Announcer's Voice): "Six million years ago, what set our ancestors on the path from this to this?"

Doesn't seem bad, right? Except for the video which rolled as the narrator spoke those words.

The first "this" was a picture of a chimpanzee; the second "this" was a picture of a baby (human).

Call me picky, but I have a hard enough time debating creationists when they say we couldn't possibly have evolved from monkeys or apes, or especially chimpanzees (because why would there still be chimpanzees if we evolved from them?).* When a respected SCIENCE PROGRAM like NOVA barfs it up like that, I have no patience or tolerance for it. No excuses.

I went to NOVA's site to re-watch the preview, so I could write a nice complaint to them, but astonishingly, the preview on the site is different from the one they showed on TV, although pretty damn close. It's explained a little better and more clearly, but not much. And most people will see the TV version instead of the website version. So I say again to you, NOVA producers, "For shame!"

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

They will have to stay after school and bang out the chalk board erasers.

Shit. They use what now? Smart Boards? Well, they can stay after school and reboot them or something.

*We evolved from a common ancestor. Whole 'nother thang.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't Rush Me! I'm Getting Old As Fast As I Can.

Tick           (decade)
                                    Tick                (more decades)          
Tock                    (epochs)

The clock in my office: I notice it only when
out of its reach and
I don't hear its inexorable ticking.

And tocking.

I could measure my birthdays in minutes, but
I don't want to.
I'd be too tempted to ask myself,
"How many minutes do I have left?"

I don't want to know.

If Roy Batty couldn't know, then
why should I know?


Thomas Hobbes, there are times when I wish you weren't so damn right.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Advice From a Famous Person

From an original post to Studio 30 Plus on my blog there.

I once heard a smart man talk about fame.
He spoke of why we shouldn't bother seeking it. He asked young people to name the four Beatles. Most couldn't.
But forty years ago nearly everyone in the world knew who they were. They were possibly the most famous people alive in 1970.
In less than the passing of a single generation, most people in the world can't name more than one of them, if even one. If ever there was a perfect example of how fleeting fame is, that is it.
I see so many people who simply want to be famous, for any reason. Mostly, they choose behaviors that make them notorious instead.
Of course, we confuse notoriety with fame. We confuse infamy with fame. Do you know the difference?
Or care?
If you seek fame for its own purpose, then how is that different from seeking notoriety, or infamy? Seeking fame is no different than a child who behaves in a certain way in order to get attention, other than the degree of self-awareness and age of the person seeking the attention.
Astounding is the degree to which people will go to get attention, regardless of the impact on other people, or the world around them. In this, little has changed over the course of human history – perhaps just the scope of the “audience”.
In 1300 A.D., a fame-seeker would generally never be famous beyond his own town (skipping the obvious politicians and warriors). In 2011, a fame-seeker can be seen by a billion people around the world in the time it takes to upload a video to the internets. No filters, no forethought. Simple-minded actions can go out to the world in the blink of an eye. I need give no examples. You know so many already.
Andy Warhol was right and wrong. Everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, he said. He was right in that we can be seen by the world. He was wrong to call it fame. It is most definitely not fame. It is less than a passing thought in most cases. However, his point of the brevity of the notoriety is what has always been so accurate.
So why seek the attention of the world for mere  seconds? What purpose? Does it fill a void in your soul? Does it make daddy come back to mommy, or erase the memory of him beating you when you were six? Does the brief infamy replace any need you have for longer than the time it takes for peoples' attention to be diverted to the next big thing? Being famous does not equal being loved. It will not help the world. It will not help you. It will only make you smaller than you ever imagined.
My advice: be the most famous and beloved person to one other person in the world. Be a mentor  to the child who has never seen an adult of good character. Want to be a father or a mother? Then make sure what you really want is to be a human being who has decided to commit yourself to creating life, and who will dedicate yourself to shaping that life into someone who will leave the world a better place. 

Be kind to someone who can do nothing for you in return.

The strength of character needed to achieve this kind of fame will be contagious, and will build a world we would much rather live in than the one we do live in now. And it lasts forever.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Taste of Summer

This post is an assignment for Studio30Plus. Note that it is an extemporaneous attempt to fulfill the requirement of a writing assignment. I am adding to the challenge by giving myself an extra "degree of difficulty" by trying to write it from beginning to end in one go, without revision, and without giving myself time to consider alternate prose. It will come out as the thoughts are born and arrive at my fingertips. Wish me luck!


My left knee aches fiercely as I pick my way down the steep trail toward the creek, 400 feet below me. I can't recall seeing so much fissile shale before on any of the hikes I've done, going back as far as the 1970s. Then again, I have to remind myself that among other things, I've never been on this particular trail, high above the Susquehanna River. Another thought I force myself to accept is that the legs that powered me through endless periods of ice hockey and trail running are almost fifty years old, and the balance and coordination of youth are now memories.

So I focus on the skidding sedimentary floor of rocks below my feet, catching only glimpses of the awe inspiring scenery around me. I look forward to the trail flattening out so I can stare at the endless expanse of water and hills. The sun breaks through the amalgam of broadleaf and evergreens, reminding me through my salty perspiration and burning skin that I am in the midst of a glorious, but hot summer in Pennsylvania.

As I hit the well-worn and mercifully gently sloping dirt path at the base of my descent, I take a moment to drink from my canteen, which I filled at the summit and trailhead three miles back. The water is cold and sweet. Its source is the very river below me. Strong pumps and old pipes carried it to the top of the hills, where it was stored and cleaned and then sent to an ancient water fountain, built just for this purpose. I don't detect any of the chlorination present in my home's tap water. I can drink this water in huge, greedy gulps and savor it in my mouth, swishing it around with my tongue, which also sponges it up. It tastes like "outside" water and picks at some forgotten memory from childhood - perhaps a garden hose on a similar summer day.

As I trek on, I enjoy the smells of the woods: the Elms (ok, maybe not such an enjoyable smell to my nose), the Sycamores (my favorite tree), the dirt, the rocks that have sat here for a hundred million years, and the mossy smell of water from the creek that flows into the wide Susquehanna River. I follow that creek along, toward its source, back upwards again. This time I go slowly, not because of pain or fatigue, but because this is heaven. I don't want to leave these woods, but I can only stay so long, knowing that reality and the responsibility of home and work await me, impatiently.

The last mile of my hike takes me along a wide, grassy trail, with brambles and low bushes on both sides. Something else is there as well. Something I had hoped for with childlike anticipation: the wild raspberry bushes! They are everywhere! Fresh, beautiful, wild raspberries, dotting the greenery with their bright reds, bluish blacks, and not-yet-ripe greens. I pick them, one by one, and put them on my tongue. They are slightly tart, as fruity as anything can be, and refreshingly moist. I don't chew them but, instead, squeeze them between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The tart/sweet juice runs around the sides of my tongue to its underside, where it mixes with my now plentiful saliva and then slides down my throat.

This ritual is repeated over and over and over, as I amble slowly up the trail. Between swallows of fruit, I place select berries in my now empty canteen and in my hat, knowing that in a month this trail will be devoid of these blissful buds. Animals will live on them, the heat will take its toll on them, and future hikers will not be able to relish their savoriness. I will enjoy the homeward bound berries for weeks to come. Each one will remind me of this hike, just as each one reminds me of summer, when I feel so alive, and so grateful for their taste and the memories that they bestow.

Friday, July 8, 2011

An Open Letter To Retailers

Dear Unnamed Retailer*:

I am your customer. Just one person.  A very frequent, loyal customer. I never complain, I'm always friendly, I thank you for your product and your hard work to make it for me.  I am no more or less important than any of your other customers. I frequent your place of business because you sell a product I like to use. If I and others didn't, you wouldn't be in business. Therefore, is it too much to ask of you to keep the environment of your establishment pleasant?

If I want to sit and relax with a beverage you sell me, but the music playing in your place prevents me from having a conversation with another patron because it is too loud, I'm going to politely ask that it be turned down (although I would think that someone working there should have already checked it for proper volume). Very politely, because why would I be otherwise? I like you, but I simply want to be able to carry on a conversation without raising my voice.

That stated...

Some Dos and DON'Ts:

Please don't suggest I move to a place farther away from the speakers. Please don't look at me as if I'm putting you out. Please don't sigh heavily at me. Please don't question my judgment on what is too loud, because I promise I'm not going to ask unless it's absolutely necessary. Please do tell me you'll take care of it right away, and thank me for bringing it to your attention.

Because if you do the don'ts, you'll lose my business. And guess what? You'll probably never know why, because I'll just stop coming, and you'll lose my business and the other business that I bring in through friends and family. You may say, "No big deal. It's just one person or a few people." Yep, I'm just one person, already admitted as much in the beginning of the letter. But your whole business is built on one person, then another individual, then another, and another, one or two at a time, over time. Trust me when I tell you that you cannot afford to lose the business of just "one person".

We add up. And again, the only reason you have a job, and that your establishment is open, is because I and others are willing to trade our hard-earned money for your product today.


Thank you,

The Defiant Marshmallow

*I really do enjoy your high-priced, great tasting, brewed, dark brown, hot beverages and free Wifi. Honest I do!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Recent Thoughts

Recent thoughts from the week. Maybe from recent weeks. Perhaps from even longer.

- My 138 lb son hasn't yet learned that mass wins. He must know it intellectually, because he's had two decent physics classes, but for some reason, the reality hasn't settled in his brain yet. I would never do anything to hurt him, but the look of surprise on his face when he bounces off of me is priceless. Picture a beach ball and a locomotive, on roller blades, playing hockey. No, I never go after him. It's just that now and then, he gets the crazy idea that he can throw a check at the old man. I'm sure one of these days, he'll catch me with my head down and feel the pride of a victorious hit. I'll be happy for him - and then probably board him like Dave Schultz would board a Red Army Forward.

- Speaking of physics, I was minding my own business in my back yard hammock this week when I experienced a sudden gust of gravity. Turns out, one of my precious buddies (look no further than the photo in the logo of The Defiant Marshamallow) decided to run under my hammock. He is apparently taller than he thought. Or stupider, because he actually hit the underside of the hammock, creating a moment that should have been captured on video, but wasn't. Yes, a hammock can spin around and turn upside down very easily.

- To all new and future pilots, military and otherwise. Please believe me when I say that the 20 Minute Fuel Light in your aircraft doesn't have a built in fudge factor.

- Ran across someone on a web forum who thought he had discovered a rock solid argument that would once and for all stop "those evil atheists" in their tracks. Atheist being his term for anyone who didn't believe in his specific god in exactly his specific way. And it was a very narrowly defined god, trust me. By this troll's account, everyone reading this is an atheist.
I don't know if I'm happy when I run across people this deluded or not. I think not. I would say I'm just weary of them. Any person who thinks he has the ultimate answers and that he, alone, thought of the ultimate solution to life, death, the universe, and the god thing is quite sad, really. Especially when they start off by telling you to prove a negative.


- I've decided to take up Portuguese. The language. I think it sounds beautiful. It's also one of those languages that, when you hear it spoken, you can't quite figure out what language it is. I like that. It will be a challenge. After eight years of German, three of Russian, growing up with Italian spoken in the house, and learning a smattering of Spanish while stationed in Honduras, I think it will be fun to try out a new language. The downside to learning it is that I don't know anyone who speaks it. Maybe this means I'll just have to go to Brazil.

I've always wanted to meet Helô Pinheiro* anyway.

*(The real Girl From Ipanema - who happens to look like this now)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Flying Rods

Just for fun I decided to photograph some backyard insects. This was to make a point about something that irks me. Maybe you've seen videos or photos of strange looking "Flying Rods".  There are plenty of internet sites that talk about them: Flying Rods for instance. Or this gem of a site. Naturally, these sites are dedicated to non-natural explanations of Rods. Why come up with something prosaic and normal when you can speculate all kinds of weird things instead? That was sarcasm, if it wasn't obvious.

Anyway, Rods are nothing more than insects of various kinds: flies (several species), midges, gnats, etc. My gallery has no explanations for each photo, but feel free to browse. Note the information accompanying each photo though, because the primary differences in the pics comes from the varied shutter speeds. In brief, long exposure times, with shutter speeds at or below 1/60 sec, make you see Flying Rods, and short exposure times (above 1/1250 and up to 1/5000 sec) let you see the individual insects as they really are.

Not all is in focus, because...well YOU try photographing things moving at a gazillion mph that won't cooperate and stay in your focal plane!

Enjoy, ask questions, and go out and try it yourself for fun. I know at least one person who will read this who has High Speed video capability (ahem, Barbara).

Click on "View All" to see the gallery and to be able to zoom in on each photo.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Very Important Blogging Tip

Just in! A crucial tip for bloggers. If you want keep from feeling unloved, unread, unwanted, or otherwise like a failure, do this!

Tip: Keep your blog posts short!

Studies have shown* that your readers, if you have any, pretty much all have A.D.D. Or some other issue which keeps them from reading anything they have to scroll to see. In a millisecond, they decide, based on the length of the tome you've written, whether or not they're going to read it, even if it's pure gold (and it's likely not, but that's beside the point).

So keep it short! Here's what some of the great wordsmiths have to say about this tip:

"Awesome tip! Wish I had read this last month."
--The Defiant Marshmallow

--The Defiant Marshmallow

"Quite true."
--Dead Shakespeare

"No shit."
-The Defiant Marshmallow

"I always said that brevity is the soul of wit"
Dead Shakespeare

"Fuck you, Dead Shakespeare!"
--Name Withheld

*Completely fabricated.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Time For Something Meaningful

Yes, friends, it is time for something meaningful. But don't look my way for it. I write crap. When not musing about important topics like how a staple got in my salad at dinner, or how to go back in time and deliver a stupendous comeback to that girl from my Freshman Biology class* at East Stroudsburg, I sometimes try to write meaningful things. But you know what? It's crap. It's time for somebody else to write something meaningful.

So, without further preamble or  exegenesis, exegenetics, exegesis, or some other nonsense, let me get on with this particular nonsense.

I was Tweeting about #boringmusicals today, and it was fun. The object was to take the name of a musical theater show and twist it somehow to come up with a name which would indicate that it was boring. As I read other peoples' tweets, something struck me which didn't surprise me in the least. There are a lot of people who think they are funny, but who are not. Let's take some examples of funny and not funny tweets on this topic (you can look up the link to uncover the identities of these folks).

  • Funny:
    • Oh, Glaucoma!
    • Jesus Christ. Average Guy!
    • A Post Office Line
These are funny. Why? Because the writers get it! They understand the premise of the bit and they know how to turn a phrase brilliantly. Their titles indicate a boring show, but they are also funny because of the puns and translocations of words. The object is to write a title which indicates BORING, not cute, not a simple play on words, not just different. So they're funny and they get an A+ for the effort.
  • NOT Funny (and many of them are from the same Twitterer):
    • Mats
    • 42nd Tweet
    • Man of la Mangia
    • Paid
    • Miss Bygone
    • Guys and Barbie Dolls
    • Annie Get Your Water Pistol (same person for previous three examples - for pity's sake - STOP, Already!)
    • Rocky Balboa Picture Show
Ok, these all suck. But why? If you have even a Troy Ounce of funny in you, then you know why; because they suck. The writers don't get the gag. I used to see this in improv stuff all the time, back when I was involved in certain theater performance that required lots and lots of improvisational comedy. Some people just aren't funny. It's painful and embarrassing  to watch them. But they think they're funny, like the stiffs in the above examples. And you can look for yourselves and see that there were far more bad examples than good ones. 

Seriously, look at those up there. Do you see one that indicates a boring musical? No, not one. I see people trying to make a play on words, doing translocations, insertions, etc. But not one damn boring title!

Mats? I don't even get that one! Paid? WTF?!!! Is that supposed to be a take on Rent? If so, it sucks double! Writer didn't get premise of joke, and came up with a shitty title to top it off. If you're going to change the word rent to something that like its opposite, then for god sakes, change it to Buy

So (panting breathlessly from the effort and rise in blood pressure), what's my point? How decent of you to ask. My point is that there are lots of people who delude themselves when it comes to their abilities, and that they are not afraid to show it. Think about those unfortunate souls who go on American Idol - the ones who should have had, but never did have, someone tell them that they couldn't sing. That they sucked. That they should not ever sing again. Or hum, or speak, or even exhale loudly. They were allowed to keep themselves living in a fantasy world in which they could sing. That's a damn shame. 

In the case of #boringmusicals, the Twitter posters thought they could be funny. No one ever told them that they lacked even the basic understanding of a joke. Probably these are the same people who laugh when Pauly Shore says...well...anything. You know them. You might be one of them. 

If you are a person who is not funny, you most likely know it and simply don't try to be funny. I salute you. On the other hand, if you think you're funny, but really aren't, then you probably won't realize that I'm talking about you. You will be sitting there, reading this, going, "Yeah! The Defiant Marshmallow is soooo right. Some people just aren't funny. Those stupid idiots!" To you, I barf up my shoelaces on your Count Chocula. 

People need to know their strengths, and weaknesses. One can appreciate the Marx Brothers without being able to tell a joke. Just because Twitter lets you post anything that pops into your brain, doesn't mean you have to. So do us all a favor and think twice before trying to be funny. Or as many times as you need to. Really. Take your time, it's not like the world is going to end tomorrow** and you have to get that Tweet in right now. 

I thank you. The world thanks you. Twitter tha--...

...never mind, Twitter doesn't give a shit. 

Below this line is one NSFW verbal exchange, but it explains the first asterisk.

*  October, 1979. A boy; me. And a girl; let's call her Joy (because that was her real name and I couldn't think of any name more appropriate for this story than Joy). She'd been sitting next to me in BIO 101 for the first three weeks of the semester. Every day, after class, we'd walk back to our dorms together, making small talk. We always passed by hers first. One day, she invites me up (remember, I am incredibly naive, and that was 10X worse when I was 18 years old). We go to her dorm room. It's unoccupied by roommates. She gets out a mirror, puts it on the table, spreads some fine, white powder on it, gets out a small straw and razor blade and cuts lines of powder. 

I instantly go from George Hamilton Tan to Edward Cullen white. Fourteen gallons of sweat drop from my body all at once. Even my ass crack sweats. My heart breaks out of my chest, caroms off of the dresser, leaps from the 6th floor window of Hawthorn Hall, and runs all the way to the Delaware Water Gap before plunging itself into the freezing river.

Joy offers me the straw. I indicate my desire to abstain by peeing myself. She does three lines. She comes over to the bed where I am drowning and sits next to me, placing one hand on what used to be my thigh, but is now a palsied mass of muscle. Then she hits me with a pickup line that even I could understand.

Joy: "What f*cks like a tiger and winks?"
Me (squeaking): "I don't know. What?"
Joy: (Winks at me)

The next week, the campus newspaper had a story in it about a strange sound that was heard and felt all over campus and in the adjacent town. People described it as a "loud boom". That's exactly right. I set the Land Speed Record for Human Locomotion going out of that dorm - 756 mph - and didn't look back. Made it to my room in under a half second. Then I changed my underwear.

**  May 21, 2011  October 21, 2011. I know that this was a huge cheap shot, but come on. Totally worth it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Do Over

This is written as an assignment for Studio Thirty Plus and the Weekly Writing Prompt. 
This week's prompt is, The Do Over

Did I forget to mention that comments and criticism are welcome?


So, you wanted to know about the wine? I think it was Monaco, could have been Cannes. No, silly me, it was Monaco. I remember my gorgeous Valentino gown. But who cares? The 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam was to be uncorked, and that was what mattered. Philippe had brought it up from the on-board wine cellar, saying he had been waiting for just the right occasion to crack it open. If ever there was a fitting occasion, this had been it. But Philippe did not know it was a replacement, one which I had purchased, at great expense and effort.

Philippe was two years single that day, having parted company with Scylla, may she rot in Hell. Cruel? Hah!  My dear, I am not being cruel. She was horrid. My nickname for her is cruel only in the injustice it heaps on the original monster. Scylla, or Lady Elizabeth Evangeline Cressida Gotwolt, if you insist that I use her purported name, was little more than a psychopathic murderess, disguised as a woman. Imagine one of those Gargoyles from the Galerie des Chimères, at the cathedral of Notre Dame, and then imagine that it had flayed a woman and donned her skin as a suit. Now you have a kinder vision of this...thing...this heinous imitation of a woman. If Hell has a dungeon, and that dungeon has a crypt for the worst of humanity, she will be sent below it to dig her own pit and crawl inside!

But, yes, the wine. That glorious, sanguine elixer! Dear Philippe wanted to open it in memoriam and in celebration. He was proud, because he had bid so well for it. $98,000 U.S., yet the day he came home with it, that harpy had told him he must never open the bottle. As if she knew anything about wine, or anything, for that matter. Philippe had wanted to open it on their first anniversary, but she had denied him the pleasure, as she always did. Given her background, it was astonishing that she knew less about giving a man pleasure than she did about wine (or fashion, or who her own father was). Oh, she claimed to be from an aristocratic line, and made an effort to affect the mannerisms inherent in good breeding. But we all knew, from the moment she lumbered into our circle, that she was just another wharf doxy, bent on securing wealth through one of our own. One cannot simply fake good breeding. Stupid, illiterate shrew!

Oh, but pardon my wandering mind! The wine, of course. We started with an admirable, but conventional prosecco. Philippe loved the stuff, and we could never convince him to leave his taste for it behind. It is still one of his cutest idiosyncrasies, and I've secretly enjoyed allowing him to indulge his tastes. I will admit, it was bright, dry, and snappy. We opened it just after ten (the "Main Event" would be opened at midnight), when the lights from the city were glimmering on the water and the orange-flushed Moon had just peeked its face above the hills to watch over our celebration in the harbor. The breeze was light, and tangy. Donald was there with Christine, and Flora had brought that delightful brother of hers - the gay one - Geoffrey (or is it Mitchell)? He had been the first to comment on my gown and, for a moment, I thought he might strip it off of me right there on the fantail of the Gossamer Fleur and run off with it! Abel and Katherine were arm in arm, still looking the happy newlyweds. Braden and Sophie, as if mandated by the Gods of Revelry, were always at our parties.

However, it was Archard who had captured my immediate attention. Arriving late, as usual, he had come...alone? No, there was his companion du jour, the enticing Brazilian actress Maria Bettencourt, coming up the gangway behind him. Apollo and Aphrodite in the flesh, and what flesh it was! A pity I wouldn't be able to have him all to myself. Those endless eyelashes, and the deep cocoa eyes themselves, oh my! I decided on the spot that I would be willing to make the sacrifice and share him with Maria that night. Perhaps she would turn out to be a good sport and play nicely. She was new, and I wondered if she was aware of his "proclivities". As I stepped over to greet them, I quickly thought of what I could say to guarantee at least his cooperation with the idea. It turned out that he was a step ahead of me. With the grace of a leopard, he fluidly pulled his lighter from his coat pocket and lit my cigarette for me even before I realized I had propped it up for him. Maria simply gazed blithely at Archard, and then at me, introduced herself as "Mar", and extended an exquisite hand. I took it, felt the youthful, firm grip contrast with the silky skin, and held it longer than necessary while I leaned in to give Archard a kiss on the cheek. He responded in kind, and whispered, "I know what you're thinking and I approve.".

My darling, you have let me stray again. Please, please forgive my deviations! You wanted to hear about the wine and I'm going on about everything but. Some say that Mouton Rothschild has been inflated in the esteem in which it is held. I cannot agree with them of course. One must truly taste it in the company of others who appreciate its pedigree. The 1945 is especially ravishing, perhaps in light of its historical context, but no matter. It is more than wine. It is a living sacrificial liquid, still growing and forming, ever changing in the bottle, and ever changing those who consume its immortal essence.

It had touched my lips only once before, exactly two years earlier, and also on board the Gossamer Fleur. That time I had dared only a forbidden, secret sip, before bringing it to Philippe and Scylla. Of course they had no idea what wine was actually being served them. It would have been unthinkable to announce that I had opened the "Blood of Christ" in her presence. Philippe would have suffered the indignities of her vile, insane rantings. I could not do that to my poor brother. So I quietly dismissed the galley staff and stewards - they suspected nothing, as it was my habit to frequently let them off early (part of my generous nature). I then emptied a Bordeaux of relatively close vintage, opened the Jeroboam, and poured three glasses, dispensing the remainder into the empty bottle. Her glass, of course, had been prepared in advance, and, knowing her peasant taste, she would never detect anything out of the ordinary. It was so precious of her to supply the "additives" herself. The foolish thing had recently begun using a combination of illicit prescription and street drugs, supplied by a "friend" in Bruges. The Nembutal and chloral hydrate I secreted from her cabin would do just fine. No one would suspect a thing, her addiction being known to many already. Just a tragic overdose and drowning. I giggled to myself: like Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood combined! I placed the glasses on the serving tray and went up to the salon.

Did I tell you she murdered my Napoleon? She murdered him as surely as I sit here with you. He was such a sweet tempered, tiny fellow. All Yorkies are sweethearts. My baby. He could Moonwalk, you know. I taught him when he was not quite six months old. He could Moonwalk across the floor, and when he did, he had the most amazing look of pride on his little face. Napoleon knew he was a star and everyone loved him so. My friends would give him little treats, which I had to approve first, of course, and he would dance for them, happy as could be. But she killed him. She was jealous of the attention he received and waited until I was away at clinic for a therapy session (of course you know about my migraines, which require such special care). Then she murdered Napoleon! She said that he ran away while the Gossamer Fleur was docked in Valetta. Liar! Bitch! Whore! Napoleon would not run away, except from her. When I returned from Lyon, he was simply gone. Philippe tried to console me, telling me that perhaps Napoleon was just lost. He had posted notices in Valetta, and left our contact information should anyone find him. But it was no use. I knew what Scylla had done, and that night, two years ago, she received her repayment.

Oh, it was quite good wine, I assure you. Even though I took only the one sip, it was marvelous. I watched as Philippe and his courtesan drank theirs, she slurping greedily, as if a thirst-starved Egyptian slave. Philippe's was drugged too, of course. Much less so than hers, but enough so that I could go about my business with the whore without interruption. Poor Philippe! He would miss her, I thought, at least for a little while. Not as much as I missed Napoleon, but he would be lonely for a few weeks, and I would have to comfort him.

I will spare you the details, but everything worked as I imagined it would. They were both asleep within the hour, and fifteen minutes past midnight, Scylla slipped beneath the surface of the harbor. I was right, as usual. The coroner determined, two weeks later, when they had dragged her pathetic, bloated corpse from the water, that she had died by drowning, after taking an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. And, as usual, the authorities wanted no headlines splashed across the newspapers or internet, so there would be no further investigation or questioning. If they do one thing right in Monaco, it is keep their secrets very secret.

And there we were, two years later, in the same harbor, on the same beautiful yacht, drinking the wine that my dear, dear Philippe had waited so long to taste, or so he thought (thank you, Sotheby's!). His friends around him, his loyal sister by his side, his lonely nightmares a thing of the past, he was finally going to drink his 1945 Jeroboam. That night, I could have swum an ocean of it! I was in bliss, feeling the light of heaven radiate from me, knowing that all was right again, and all would be right from now on. I would have Archard that night, even if it meant having Maria as well. He would be the dinner, and she the dessert. Now, a lady does not give details of such passion, but that night saw the three of us reach the heights of rapture!

I regret (for her sake, naturally) that Maria decided to stay on board when all the others departed, and cruise with us that entire month. She had wanted to rest from the rigors of film shoots and modeling for a short time, and Philippe had insisted she stay with us for the summer. If only she had gone back to Brazil! Silly, foolish Maria. And now, she has gone and fallen head over heels for my Philippe! Why do women behave so? I do what I must now, if only you would please discharge me and allow me to go back to the Gossamer Fleur. The migraines have passed, and I feel completely well. I promise! You know that I must protect Philippe from her. You agree, no? And you know, as I do, that she has no addictions, as Scylla did. But this time I will do it differently. You see, it's like a do-over, and I can change the little details, so no one will connect the two. I so love the do-over! We can use them to become better and better each time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Writing Prompt #11 - Forgiveness and Justice

Written for Studio 30 Plus Writing Prompt #11


Forgiveness and right Justice,
Abide not where my lust is,
Expound on them I will not,
The subject makes my brain hot.

Philosophers and Poets might,
Discuss these prickles through the night,
But I would rather stub my toes,
Than babble and become morose.

Let the pundits rage on high, and keep the torches lit,
The villagers with pitchforks can, if needed, pitch a fit,
Emotions run the gamut from indiff'rence to Atomic,
But I think I am little more than just a wordy comic.

On Earth, it seems, we gather stones, to hurtle at an object,
Of derision, with precision, 'cause it isn't perfect.
My views on this are slightly less than jaded or myopic,
So please forgive this post which does no justice to the topic.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Explanation of Storm

I've been asked by someone who knows her way around the written word to publish the following explanation of a piece I wrote, titled, Faster Toward The Storm. She had been so complimentary of the explanation that I feel comfortable doing so. What follows is what I wrote to her in private, republished, now, for others.

It was a freeform poem written in the first-person by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which is soon to pass through a space "storm" of a sort. Right now, it is one of the fastest human built craft and is the farthest human built object from the Earth. It is so extremely remote right now, that even if it travelled at the speed of light to get back here, it would take over 16 hours. That may not sound like a lot, but converted to miles, it's almost 11 billion miles away. As you can guess, I have a thing for space and space exploration!

Voyager 1 has a twin, Voyager 2, which is also heading out into interstellar space. It's only slightly closer to Earth. I enjoy thinking about just how far away and how extremely remote these probes are from anything. The remoteness is nearly absolute, in terms of location, temperature, light, and speed.

Imagine yourself, flying, as in a dream, not in an aircraft, just you, unimaginably fast, but having zero sensation of speed. No friction, so no wind. No sound can be made, felt, or heard in the total vacuum of space. If you screamed at the top of your lungs, you would hear nothing. There are no nearby visual points of reference, so nothing to gauge your speed by eyeballing it. Even what stars you can see don't move in the distance. They are stationary pinpoints of light. The Sun is just a tiny pinprick of light among them, very dim. But your are moving away from it, the only home you've ever known, at 38,000 mph, and you'll never slow down, turn back, or stop. You're beyond the orbit of Pluto, non-technically outside of the solar system.

But technically, you still have the Sun's influence on you, via the solar wind and the teensiest hint of gravity, therefore, are still in the Solar System. But not for long! Ahead of you, but completely unseen, is the bow shock of the heliopause, the end of the solar wind, which you will pass through to truly enter interstellar space and the ultimate in loneliness. That is the storm your are racing to meet. The charged particles of the solar wind that you were surfing on will have ceased, and the interstellar particles coming from the opposite direction will begin charging toward you. No one knows exactly what will happen when you travel through it (it's up to you to be the first to know), but if you maintain speed and direction, it will still have taken you years to get through the storm and come out on the other side. And then on to real isolation.

At that point, the darkness and loneliness you thought you felt before will seem like a day in Times Square compared to the incomprehensible Void that you have entered but can never leave. And all you will do is race, possibly faster, through it.

I like to imagine what it would be like to be in that place, at that speed, with nothing to reach out and touch. Every direction is up, and down, and sideways, all at the same time. You are always falling, forward, into darkness, in absolute cold and silence. It makes me shiver and feel totally insignificant. Sometimes I even get vertigo from it! Totally cool feeling, but also a bit frightening. Always good to "come back" from that feeling!

Bizarre, I know. But I don't care. It's awesome.

So, that's the long answer to my dinky little poem. If Voyager 1 could think and feel and talk to us, what would it say? Would it feel lonely? Every day, it faithfully sends us the weakest of radio signals to let us know what it is doing, where it is, and what it sees. And we answer back to let it know we hear it. But only barely hear it. Soon, we won't be able to any more, but it will continue sending us messages anyway, until it's tiny nuclear pellet runs out of power. Over the next few years, it will continue to shut down various systems in order to save energy, or because those systems are no longer needed. Then it will fall silent, but continue speeding forever through the Void.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Faster Toward The Storm

Written for the Writing Prompt #10, at Studio 30 Plus

I expect a lot of "Huh?" comments on this. Really. But I'm ok with it.


Through nothing I go, into nothing.

All Void. Void. All Void.

I turn, look back - see nothing,
But I began there,
I know.

It is there. 
Pinprick glimmer.                                             

Shiver in empty darkness.
Nothing to reach out and touch, no walls.
Foreverness, in all directions, save back.
I can never go back. 

Speeding onward toward the storm.
Unfeeling, it will envelope me.
Unseen, it is there.

Storm will become my home, my space.
Storm engulf and charge me.
Storm will I die in, yet speed on.
Storm touch my skin...touch me.

Void. All Void. Void.
All Void. Void. All Void.

Where is my sister?


When will I be with the storm?
I will not be in the Void then.
It will be less than the Void.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Submarine Races and Other Things I've Fallen For

Yes, the links are safe, and you need to click on them for this post to make sense.

Ok, readers, raise your hand if you've ever been gullible. No, your other hand. I'm just kidding; raise the hand you raised first.


Other than just now, have you ever been gullible? Ever felt truly duped? Of course you have. Some of us, however, were born with a specific, yet-to-be-determined, malignant gene that allows us to be taken very special advantage of. I was apparently born with it, along with a backup gene for it.
Gullible would truly have been the perfect name for me. I'm still considering the legal switch over to it, so when I write my memoirs, they can be oh, so cleverly titled, Gullible's Travels.

Here then, is a list of the things that have made me the perfect foil for P.T. Barnum, with appropriate explanations as needed:

Santa Claus

You may think that we've all been duped by this sneaky, rosacea-suffering gift giver. And most of us have. But you stopped believing in him when you were nine or ten years old - twelve on the outside, at most. Try this on for size: 14*.
Was it because I wanted presents, and the ones from Santa were better? Hell, no! It was because Santa needed to be real. What good is he if he's fake?
So, yeah. Santa. Chunky Bastard.

Submarine Races

This one really pissed me off. I spent my summers in the (formerly) little village of Sea Isle City, NJ. Side note: the city is a lesson in how not to do zoning, as it is now a virtual garbage dump of low-rent, fiberboard condos and filth.

But back to the good old days, when it was unspoiled. When it used to have fabulous submarine races! When I was a kid, my older brother used to go to the races all the time. I begged and begged for Big Bro to take me with him, but he said I couldn't go, because you had to be 17 to get in. Besides, he reasoned, our mom wouldn't let me stay up to watch them, because they didn't start until ten pm.

I was crestfallen (god, I've been dying to work that word into something for soooo long!). But I figured that I could get to those races somehow. I knew, from listening carefully to the older kids, that they were always held in the back bay, and you watched them from under the bridge that led onto the island at 41st Street. That was a short, five block walk from our house. All I had to do was convince my mom that I was going to a friend's house for a while and all would be fine. I'd be home by 11 pm.

So I did it. One Wednesday evening in August, off I went. 14 years old**, full of confidence and holding my new Sears binoculars, I executed my genius plan to see the races. I even got there early, so I wouldn't miss the start! Plunked myself down under the west side of the bridge (even brought licorice for a sub-watching snack) and waited. I'd like to skip over the details from here, if you don't mind. Let's sum it up: seemingly endless waiting, mosquitos, darkness, arms sore from holding binoculars, not a submarine in sight, Sea Isle City police officer, short ride home, infinite embarrassment.

Even after this, I still fell for my brother's explanation that they never held the races on Wednesday nights. I was, in fact 18 years old before I knew the truth. And it was my little brother who had to tell me.

Ads in Old Kids Magazines

What kid wouldn't want a Real Elephant!? Or X-ray glasses, or his very own Real, Working Submarine!? I sense a sad, submarine-centric ability to be duped in me. Yeah, the advertisements in some of my favorite old magazines were doozies. In fact, I now realize that the "magazines" were, in fact, nothing more than barely coherent vehicles for the cheap ads. Even the best of them, like Ranger Rick, were nothing but shills for the ripoff artists in the back pages. Do I seem bitter? Let me 'splain.

Years of salivating over ads for BB Guns, exploding cigarettes, fart bags, rubber vomit, "sure win dice", real Indian Headdresses, and the like had primed me for the Holy Grail of prizes: that "real, working submarine". For a kid who loved Jules Verne's adventures, nothing could compare to having your own submarine! It was described as "seven feet long", with a real periscope and portholes, and...get was made out of genuine 200lb-test material! Awesome!

Knowing I couldn't go wrong with this, and having covered every possible angle of where something could go wrong, I went to work on my father to scare up the $9 I'd need. How could he possibly argue with a real submarine for only nine bucks? Our swimming pool was 30 ft. long, so I'd have plenty of space (I cleverly calculated the 23 ft. of maneuvering room) to motor around. Our pool was only seven feet deep, so it would be safe if my sub sprang a leak. Besides, it was constructed from 200lb. test material, so it would hold up under the most vicious Depth Charge assault. I was golden! Pops tried to reason with me, but I was an unstoppable force, my logic was rock solid. He caved and said he'd give me half. I cut out the ad, gave dad the money, and he cringed while he wrote out the check. I would only have to wait five weeks to learn why he didn't want to have his name attached to this scheme.

The big day finally came, and I was positively spastic with excitement. Ralphie's Old Man had nothing on my ecstasy of the moment. The box was huge, and heavy. We dragged it into the family room. I made sure we put it near the French Doors leading out to the pool so we'd have an easier time launching her. I had already come up with a name for my sleek U-boat: Nautilus 2. Of course it was lame, but it was perfect. The box cutters came out, straps were removed from the cardboard container and the cargo was revealed!

Revealed to be more cardboard. Cardboard? Cardboard! What? The? Heck?

A lesser man would have said, "I told you so.", but my dad understatedly mused, "Huh! I guess corrugated cardboard is 200 lb. test material."

My real submarine was, in fact, real, in that it existed in time and space, and it worked, in that the cardboard periscope went up and down through the hole in the top, but it was otherwise, let's say, unsuitable for aquatic adventure. It may have been the first time that I was consciously aware of being the ultimate Boob. Rube. Dupe. I was the owner of a cardboard submarine.

We still assembled my prize in the family room, and yes, I climbed inside my cardboard tube and tried valiantly to play Captain Nemo, but the wind was really out of my sails. The Nautilus 2 was going to make me the laughingstock of the neighborhood if something wasn't done quickly. So my little brother and I took her out for her maiden voyage in the pool, to be used as target practice for our cannonball contest. She lasted a good ten minutes before succumbing to our chlorine-tainted Davy Jone's Locker.

I'd like to say that this was the end of my days as the most gullible person on Earth. I'd really like to say that. But we all know better, don't we? I'm more educated now, a little jaded, and vastly more cautious about things in the back of magazines (I'm not falling for the "Draw Tippy the Turtle" thing!), but everyone who knows me knows that I'm good for a laugh or two. Scary pop up face on some YouTube video? Call me.

Lastly, I fell for this, but in my defense, so did thousands of other people.
Hot Headed Naked Ice Borers.

You would have, too. But Santa wouldn't have. I know, because he's a close, personal friend of mine.

* This is technically measured in Dog or Cat Years, because I still believe in Santa, and if you do the math, it works out about right.

**In people years.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Song For The Day

Happy Earthday to you!

Happy Earthday to you!

Happy Earthday dear Eeaarrrth!

Happy Earthday to you!

(and many mooooooooore!)

The blue arrow in this photo is pointing at Earth. Yes, Earth. That's not just a bluish-white pixel. Please read below and consider keeping it in mind.

The Pale Blue Dot, by Carl Sagan.

"The Pale Blue Dot" image, 1990,  courtesy of NASA
and the Voyager 1 Space Probe.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me*

The blog has been bogged down lately.

Are you buying that? Please do, cause I'm selling it. I don't want to say that I've been bogged down, because that's such a common excuse for not writing. Sure, I'm busy, but we all are. And yes, it's hard to stay one step ahead of the screaming masses of fans** who always manage to find my hideouts and who tear at my clothes, but that's no excuse either.

Truth is (and if you can spot the 'truth' anywhere in this post, I'll give you real money), I have been totally unmotivated. To the writers out there, you know, the real writers who are so lovely and kind for reading this drivel, I ask you this:


I forgot the question I was going to ask.

Well, if you guys think of it, just shoot an answer over to me. it probably had to do with writing, or some jazz like that. You know, writer's impotency or something. Make something up.

That's it! Just remembered it!
(which technically means that I should delete all that other stuff, but it's good filler, so it stays).

Writers, when you've written something that is technically good, fairly interesting, makes a concrete point, or is otherwise worth reading, but you hate it and feel like it's total green snot, do you still publish it?

I come at writing in a different way than I approach my photography. In photo world, I shoot everything that inspires me. In writing, I try to create things that I would like to read. Totally different mind set, but with a similar goal of creation. However, I am so often disgusted with my writing that I literally trash it. Or bury it, hoping that I'll change my mind later and like it. Usually, that never happens.

So what do you all do if that happens to you?

This is not a secret cry for approval, or a way to get people to ask me to publish this stuff. That IS the truth in this post. I just want to know if it happens to actual, literate human beings with writing ability.

Lastly, it is why I am slowing down on meaningful blog posts. I don't like doing meaningful too much. Makes me want to take myself seriously, and that is a joke wrapped in irony. But since you've been gracious enough to hang with me, I thought I'd share it with you and say thanks.



By the way, in bigger news, there are some very positive things happening with Wolfgang Amadeus Marshmallow. We received a phone call last night from Dubai. No shit. As in from the UAE. Wolfgang's instructor (Yanni - no, a different one) was there, performing for some sheiks or something, and he wanted to talk about the inimitable's future.

Seems that the conductor of the 'Must Remain Unnamed' Symphony Orchestra has taken an interest in Wolfgang's career and wants to mentor him, which is good news/bad news. Good news is he told Yanni that Wolfgang is the real deal, and should be groomed for the world stage, like yesterday. Bad news is he's Icky. Let me rephrase that. He's ICCCKKKYYYY. You take the bad with the good, I guess.

This was important enough for Yanni to call from his comfy suite in the Burj Frickintalla***

So, we've got lots to think about. My perspective is that this can only cost me a truckload of money. Things like this always do, initially. But I figure if Wolfgang gets to the big time, he'll be able to afford to put me away in a nice long term care facility or mental institution. I'm pulling for the latter, because I hear they have Dish Network.

I'll keep you posted.

*It's really you, but I didn't want you to get offended and stop reading at the title.
**Fail to show up for a personal appearance just once and people seem to think they should get their money back. The nerve!
***Really high skyscraper with a view of Central Park West - from the city of Dubai. Told ya it was tall!