Thursday, March 31, 2011

DBIM: King of Hearts (Le Roi de coeur)

This week's DBIM is an odd exception.  I love this movie.  The death of the bird makes sense logically and thematically.  So, yeah, I feel odd putting it here.

Title: King of Hearts (Le Roi de coeur)
Severity: 1
Genre: Movie
Date: 1966
Description: A messenger pigeon is shot.
Mitigating Factors: None.
Aggravating Factors: None.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Long, Unhappy Life of Alfred P. Wincock

Alfred rose from his bed, as he did every morning, tired and dreading the day.

He had his coffee and cereal and drove to work in a deadlocked rush hour.  At work, he couldn’t concentrate until nearly the end of the day, when he had to rush to get everything done on time.  His boss laughed at him.  His coworkers ignored him.  Alfred drove home in a deadlocked rush hour to dinner of a plain salad and flat beer.  There was nothing on television, but he watched anyway.

That night, his wife gave him a break and went to sleep early.  He lay and pretended to sleep until he heard her snoring, then he reached under the bed and pulled out Blade Man #23.  He’d been waiting to read it all month, but his wife had been particularly insatiable (perhaps trying again for a baby).  As he pulled the covers over his head and switched on his flashlight, Alfred felt like a child again.

Later, as he drifted off to sleep, he had a fleeting wish: if only he could be a super hero.

Alfred rose from his bed, as he did every morning, tired and dreading the day.

He had a breakfast bar and orange juice while trying to pull his tights on.  They were getting harder to squeeze into, and he worried he was getting fat.  He was almost to work, feeling the tights chafing under his street clothes, when the red phone buzzed in his pocket.  Dreading calling in sick yet again, he pulled over into a McDonald’s parking lot and parked behind the dumpster before flying to the Mayor’s office.  King of Death decked him.  Psychic Leech got away with three million in bearer bonds.  When he finally got to work, everyone asked why his nose was bleeding.  Alfred drove home, stiff and sore, to an empty house.

He watched a science fiction movie on his home theater and fell asleep halfway through, wishing for a life with servants to do his work for him.

Alfred rose from his sleep shell as he did every hundred years, tired and dreading the day.

As the intravenous tubes fed him nutrition, he looked at the readouts of local planetary bodies.  He chose a little blue-red planet and watched for three weeks as it grew larger and larger out the window.  Halfway into orbital insertion, a set of metallic satellites fired ceramic spikes at his ship.  Most of them missed, but one cracked the integrity seals and he had to spend three hours breathing oxygen gel before the hull spiders fixed the leak.  Eventually, he managed to drop the diplomatic probe before the ship was able to kick back into hyperspace again.

As he felt the longsleep drugs drop into his bloodstream, he had a fleeting wish to live in a simpler time.

Alfred rose from his bed as he did every morning, tired and dreading the day.

As he swept out the cave as he chewed on the salt pork the clansmen of Um left him as an offering.  He summoned his three fate daemons into their warded cages, rose two spirits of greater kings, and made psychic contact with the Wise Dragon of the Upper Hills.  Six soldiers came for protection charms, costing Alfred nearly a cup of blood and two years off of his life.  One woman asked him to resurrect her baby who hadn’t survived the winter (another half cup of blood and year from his life) and then ran off with her child in her arms when it was time to pay.  Complaining bitterly of the fleas infesting his clothes, he dismissed the daemons, returned the spirits to their resting places, and paid tribute to the dragon.

Lowering himself on to his bed of hay, he said a prayer to the southern gods for an easier life.

Alfred rose from his bed, as he did every morning, tired and dreading the day.

He had his coffee and cereal, kissed his wife, and headed to work in a deadlocked rush hour.  Halfway to work, Alfred turned off the road and drove to the comic book store; they always opened early on delivery day.  They kept his books in a brown paper bag behind the counter, and he paid for them greedily, without looking inside; he’d save that happy glance for his lunch break.

Back in the traffic, he sighed pleasantly.  Life wasn’t so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

H8 Her Boi

In my continuing attempts to keep you up to date on the latest in news and entertainment, I’d like you to cast your attention to a song by a Ms. Avril Lavigne called “Sk8R Boi.”

Avril was already on my watch list because of her name.  Avril is French for April, and yet she was born in September.  It’s like she’s just trying to confuse us.  Anyway, she’s just making things worse by using SMS language for her song title.  Seriously?  Sk8R Boi?!  April, if you’re reading (and I know you are), you are officially on notice until you rename your song “Underage Skateboarder Guy” and legally change your name to “French September.”
Ah, Google Image Search, I so love your suggestions.
Anyway, back to the song.

Sk8R Boi is about a pretty girl (only given the name Pretty Face) and the eponymous Skater Boy.  She eventually rejects him.  At this point, the song starts becoming annoyingly judgmental.  As the lyrics state:
Five years from now, she sits at home
Feeding her baby, she’s all alone.
Wait, what?

Since when is being with a baby “all alone?”  Have babies ceased to be people?
Yeah, okay, I see your point.
Anyway, meanwhile the guy has become a rock star dating April.  I immediately felt sorry for the guy, but the song suggests that we should feel sorry for the girl.  She shouldn’t have judged him poorly because of his taste in clothes.  Had she been more open to him, she could have been the girlfriend of a rock star, living in hotel rooms, watching groupies throw themselves at her boyfriend, taking recreational drugs, etc.  Poor kid; stuck in a marriage with a kid.  What ever will become of her?
Poor bastards.
According to the song “this is how the story ends.”  However, we know stories don’t end with people in their early twenties.  I have created snapshots of the rest of their lives by using state-of-the-art technology to analyze demographics and, er, April’s other songs.

Ten Years From Now
Pretty Girl will probably be on her third child.  I get the impression she’ll be in suburbia with a minivan trying desperately to manage the kids and the household.
"Billy, hold the camera straight for mommy!"

Skater Boy’s life is probably described in “Happy Ending.”

So, he breaks up with his girlfriend.  Sorry, April.

Twenty Years From Now
Pretty Girl’s children start leaving the nest.  She’s sad, but doesn’t have to worry about chasing after them all the time or saving for college.
Ah, Google Image Search, you failed me!

Skater Boy’s last album doesn’t sell so well.  He ends up blowing most of his savings on frivolous expenditures such as last-minute trips to Miami and fossilized dinosaur skeletons.  He gets back together with April briefly, as she chronicles in her song “What the Hell.”

So, April's become amoral and it doesn't work out.  Sorry April!
Thirty Years From Now
Pretty Girl becomes a grandmother.  Her husband retires.
No, really, we'd rather be washed-up rock stars.
Skater Boy starts doing infomercials as a last-ditch effort to keep his mansion from foreclosure.
"I wore these when I toured with Van Halen."
Forty Years From Now
Pretty Girl does charity work in the neighborhood, babysits her grandchildren, and travels frequently with her husband.
"Is that you Sk8R Boy?  Oh, I'd love to catch up, but I'm a bit busy."
Skater Boy is found dead on a toilet.  He always wanted to be like Elvis.
Just can't stay mad at you, Google Image Search.
And we're supposed to think the girl is the loser here?  Try again, April.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Trip to Patagonia

No, not that Patagonia.
Can you feel the adventure?
Yeah, that’s it.

I was in San Francisco yesterday and walking with my wife when we happened across this Patagonia store.  My wife suggested we go in, in part, because I’ve been without a jacket for a long time.  You see, I used to have this cool leather jacket, but that eventually frayed on the inside, making me look like The Fonz, if he wore a Jewish prayer shawl.
I meant, a leather jacket with torn fringes coming out from underneath.  Close enough.
I switched to three sweatshirts, but two of them were black and I have two white cats.
Only much worse.
So, for the past several months, I’ve been wearing my old sweatshirt from the old game company I used to work for:
Oh mah Gawd!  It's, like, TOTALLY games!
Unfortunately, my sweatshirt went out of style about twenty years before I got it.

So, we went into Patagonia to get me a new jacket.  I should have been wary as there were remains of fossilized mountain climbers in the concrete in front of the door.
They died, so you could feel rugged.

Inside, we quickly found a jacket that was stylish, warm, and wouldn’t show white cat hair so easily.
I'm too sexy for my jacket.  Too sexy for my jacket.  So sexy I... Er...  Lack it?
Then we looked at the price: $229.00.
Aiiieeee!  I have no career!
Yeah, I now get this t-shirt's slogan.
Live simply, so others can simply...?
Live simply, so you can afford to shop at Patagonia.

Friday, March 25, 2011

DBIM: Ice Age

I really don't get Ice Age.  From the first trailer with the irritating squirrel/acorn joke, it turned me off.  Then, of course, they had to do this:
Severity: Infinite/Maximum/Whatever the Top Is
Genre: Movie
Date: 2002
Description: The main characters, attempting to secure fruit for the child they are protecting, run into a flock of Dodos (who think the fruit is one of their eggs). In the ensuing chaos, many birds are killed in gruesome ways.
Mitigating Factors: None.
Aggravating Factors: After several birds fall off a cliff, one Dodo remarks, "There go our last fertile females" Suggesting that, instead of being eradicated by humans, the Dodo became extinct because they were just too stupid to live.  Charming.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If I could Draw: Word World

My son has a set of ten words every week he has to learn how to spell.  He can't just practice spelling the words, though.  Oh no, he has to do funny things with the words like make them out of raw meatloaf or write them on people's backs with a carving knife.  Twice a week, we have to come up with some goofy thing to do with the words.  Lately, we just have him paint them in watercolor.

While he's doing his watercoloring, I usually do some, too, just to keep him company.  This week, I let him throw out words for me to work on.  Here's what I ended up with:

It makes sense if you've seen Word World.
I used to always hate watercolor in school.  Watercolors always ran off the page and felt like a cheap alternative to tempura.   Now I find I like it, in part because I use good paper.  Note to art teachers: shell out money for the good paper; it's much nicer to work with.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Weekend Trip Report: Part 3

Turn right at the next intersection.
Make a U-turn at the next intersection.
You idiot, now you have to make a U-turn at the next intersection.
Are you even listening? Turn around!
You want to play with me? Fine, I just deleted the email with your flight information. HA!
-Google Maps for Android

On the way down to the wedding, my brother and I noticed the oddest shaped building. I insisted it was a church, but it turned out to be the National Museum of the Marine Corps. On our last day, it turned out we couldn’t go on the excursions we had hoped to go on (we were going to hit the resting places of both Stonewall Jackson’s arm and Benedict Arnold’s leg and do an experiment), so we did the Marine Museum instead.

By the time we arrived at the museum, I was worried about missing my flight, but knew I couldn’t return without gifts for my kids. Every delay began to grate on my nerves. I couldn’t find parking because the parking lot was packed with police cars.

Dude, that's like THREE SPACES!
The other spaces were filled with people taking out signs protesting the arrest of Bradley Manning.
I tried to be a sneaky photographer, but my finger betrayed me.
After I finally found a space, I went straight for the gift shop, and grabbed the first gifts I could find: military issue brownie rations, Blue Angels toy airplane launchers, and a bag of nuts in a camouflaged bag.

Had to pass on the hats.

Oooh!  How much is that?
Then I dashed for my car and peeled out of the parking lot. Threading my way through riot police and barricades, I had to slow to a crawl as I went past the main protest. Hey guys, I know you all care about information being free, but you’re making me miss my plane!

Finally, I turned on my handy dandy Google Maps GPS. Now, a normal GPS would take me on a trip like this:
Man, that's too easy.

Google decided to take me on a trip like this:
Now THAT'S more like it.

And I had to stop for gas.

And I had to return the car.

And I had to book more room so I could fit in my seat.


Well, that’s about it. I made it in spite of everything. However, it’s funnier if you think of me missing it.  Maybe I'm still in Virginia, looking for General MacArthur's left hand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weekend Trip Report: Part 2

Steve: What’s wrong Jenny?
Jenny: Steve, I can’t go out with you anymore.
Steve: What? Why? We have such a great time together. Did I do something wrong?
Jenny: No, it’s not that. I just can’t see you anymore.
Steve: Is it your parents? Is it something I said? I really like you. I don’t want to break up.
Jenny: [bursting with emotion] It’s because you’re not a Christian!
Steve: What? All of this is because of church?
Jenny: It’s not just church. Jesus is my best friend.
Steve: I’ll do anything to keep you. I’ll go to church. I’ll get baptized.
Jenny: It doesn’t work like that. You have to accept Jesus IN YOUR HEART!
Jenny runs off.

-Excerpt from radio show I heard while driving to the airport to pick up my brother. There’s no joke here; that’s what they actually said.
So, day of the wedding.  I'll do the boring stuff you don't care about quickly so you can skim to the stuff about me.
Blah blah blah, the bride was beautiful.
Blah blah blah, they signed the ketubah.
Yadda yadda yadda, walked down the aisle.
Did the ceremony under the chuppa, like everyone else.
Broke some glassware, and the Jewish women cried.
And boom!  We're done.  Now on to the good part.

My children, obviously missing me, asked for some pictures.  Not knowing what would interest a child at a wedding, took pictures of bathrooms, water fountains, bookshelves, wallpaper, etc.  Here's a good one I took of the servers prepping the Caesar salads.

That's a heckofalotta salads.
When they did the obligatory montage of the couple's baby pictures, the screens came down from the ceiling, nearly decapitating one of the guests (note to self: got to get me one of those).  Then, the projectors came out of the ceiling like something out of a science fiction movie.

I don't expect you to talk, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to applaud.
I met a guy named Matthew Kraegel.  I was mightily disappointed he wasn't at the same table as I was, just to confuse everyone.
It's like we're twins!
Oh, and they had two light displays from the DJ!
You think that's cool?

What about that?
Best. Wedding.  Ever.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Trip Report: Part 1

Einstein and Trains, two boys (6 and 3 respectively) wearing pajamas, rub their eyes sleepily as they walk into the kitchen. They visibly startle as they see Daddy, a disturbingly handsome man in his early forties, waiting for them. He’s holding a frying pan.
Daddy: Good morning, kids! How do you feel about pancakes?
Trains opens his mouth cheerfully, but stops as Einstein gestures to him.
Einstein: We don’t like pancakes.
Daddy is visibly deflated.
Daddy: Since when?
Einstein: Since a long time. If you’d have been around, you would know that.
Daddy: Sorry, Stein. I-
Trains: Don’t call him Stein! He hates that. His name is EIN-stein.
Daddy: Okay, okay, I forgot.
Einstein: You didn’t forget. You didn’t know. You don’t know anything about us any more. You just pack up and leave one day and then show up like nothing’s happened. Well a lot happened while you were gone. It was hard without you. Really hard! You can’t just waltz in here and expect you can make us pancakes and everything will be all better. I hate you!
Bursting into tears, Einstein runs from the kitchen. Trains, not quite understanding, makes an identical gesture of crying and runs off. Daddy stands dumbfounded.
Daddy: But it was only two nights.
-Excerpt from "Alone," my son’s autobiographical one-act play. Names have been changed to protect the drama queens.
Let’s start with the big reveal: I took off over a tornado, maybe two.

This is your captain speaking.  Nothing exciting is happening.
It started on the jetway. An alarm went off while we were walking into the plane and it took them several tries before they could shut it off. Once on the plane, the whole thing rocked side to side like a boat from the wind. When we got into the air, there was stronger turbulence than I could remember. The plane kept dropping, the children in the back kept squealing with delight, and the woman next to me grabbed the seat in front of her for dear life. It wasn’t until I landed and could turn my cell phone on, that my wife told me about the tornado warning and sightings.

Once again, nothing is wrong.  Please enjoy the beverage service.
Eventually, the plane stabilized and I decided to get to work. As I pulled out my laptop, the woman in front of me reclined her seat and the woman next to me (who was from Ghana) fell asleep leaning in my direction. Even leaning my seat back, I had so little room that I had to type by dangling my fingers over the keyboard like a puppeteer. I didn’t get much work done.

You know, without the Palmolive skin conditioning.
When we landed, I took a shuttle over to Hertz, which I picked in part because they had a discount deal with United, but mostly because of this old ad about how they were worth the extra expense. After an hour standing in line, I realized that advertising was not the same as reality. Who knew?

I drove past the Washington Monument to a small, 24 hour kabob restaurant in Arlington. It was a crazy, busy place with disturbingly hot chick peas. I squeezed into a table and read the end of Larry Niven’s “The Magic Goes Away” (research to make sure my own fantasy novel doesn’t come too close) while I ate, then grabbed food for my brother before picking him up at Reagan.

My novel will have less sex with 70-year old women.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. I met my family in the lobby of the hotel. Then I crashed.
They're only cute because they look like me.

Photo Gallery:
Trying to keep my belongings safe in the bathroom turned out to be a warning of the trip ahead of me.

Kabob Palace.  I promised this woman I'd delete the picture.

Why is my gate ALWAYS the farthest one away?

I seriously doubt anyone is going to steal your Pesos, lady.  You don't need to have a getaway planned.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

DBIM: Grim Fandango

Severity: 1
Genre: Game
Date: 1998
Description: A messenger pigeon is eaten by a snake
Mitigating Factors: It all takes place in the afterlife, so they're all dead (in fact, skeletons) anyway.
Aggravating Factors: None

What I'm Thinking About Today

I was working on the website for my company I came upon this quote I first heard when I was 15:

The universe may have begun in a state of perfect symmetry. The theory says that matter rose out of energy while the early universe was expanding and cooling that form arose from formlessness like ice crystals congealing in a freezing pond. The mathematical symmetries that the unified theories have exposed at the foundations of natural law are more subtle and complex than those of snowflakes, but their principle is the same.  They imply that we live in a crystallized universe of broken symmetries.

Perfect symmetry may be beautiful, but it is sterile, perfectly symmetrical space means nothingness. As soon as you introduce an object into that space, you break the symmetry, thus creating a sense of location. There is a place where the object is and other places where it isn't and out of that comes tumbling all of the geometry of space as we know it.

Perfectly symmetrical time means that nothing can happen. As soon as you have an event, then you break the symmetry and time begins to flow in a given direction We live in a universe that is full of objects and events and that means that the universe is imperfect. The symmetries of the universe we live in are broken. It may even be that we owe the very origin of our universe to the imperfection of the breaking of the absolute symmetry of absolute emptiness. There is even a theory to this effect. It's called vacuum genesis and it suggests that the universe began as a single particle arising from an absolute vacuum. Curious as it may seem, this idea violates none of the known laws of physics. We have seen how virtual particles come into existence all the time from a vacuum and then fall back into non-existence. There appears to be no upper limit on the size and longevity of particles that can be created in this way. Its just possible that there might have been absolutely nothing out of which came a particle so potent that it could blossom into the entire universe. It is not very likely, but then it only had to happen once.

The theory of vacuum genesis is a new idea, nobody knows whether or not it is true, but it does satisfy two of the criteria of a sound scientific theory: its seems at first so strange that it must be preposterous and, like the universe itself, the longer you get to know it the more beautiful it becomes.

Out of nothingness could have come the spark of genesis. As the universe expanded and cooled, darkness descended. Then light dawned anew with formation of the first stars. Each star is a nuclear furnace where matter is coaxed into releasing a little of the energy it inherited from the primordial fireball. Thanks to imperfection, to the fractured symmetries that produce differences among the particles and forces, atoms in their varieties could build themselves into molecules and molecules rise up in alliances as life, and life gives birth to thought and thoughts produce theories about the creation of the universe.

Timothy Ferris
“The Creation Of the Universe”
It blew me away when I first heard it and even named my company after the theory.  Hope it does something mind blowing for you, too.