Friday, November 30, 2007
If the world record holder for race walking is attacked by renegade samurai, would he walk or run?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
And Now, From the Acme Network . . .
SOCORRO – "Lights, cameras, and action!" The casting call may soon be given for the New Mexico Tech campus to become a real-life movie set for a planned cable television series about the day-to-day operations of a research university.
Van Romero, New Mexico Tech vice president for research and economic development, briefed the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents at its monthly meeting yesterday on recent inquiries made to his office by The History Channel about the possibility of featuring the research university in Socorro in an upcoming 14-part program series.
"Our office recently has been inundated with requests from The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and other television and film production companies, asking to use our campus and research facilities," Romero said. "This could result in some interesting media coverage for New Mexico Tech."
In addition, representatives from Warner Bros. Studios also have contacted New Mexico Tech administrators to explore the likelihood of using the expertise and facilities at the university's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) for a new game show/ reality series based on the company's classic Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons.
In the planned television program, tentatively titled "Man vs. Coyote," two teams of participants would be pitted against each other to replicate some of the mishaps and disasters to which the Coyote was typically subjected in the long-running cartoon series.
"Both of these major television productions, along with any associated media coverage, could possibly provide New Mexico Tech with new opportunities to allow the university to stand out in the public's mind," said Daniel H. López, president of New Mexico Tech.
"In addition to promoting the university, there's also the distinct possibility that these production companies would be hiring some of our students, staff, and faculty as extras or technical assistants, should they decide to come on campus," López added.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sex, Swoony and Otherwise
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Cold Weather Cuisine
So I went to a nearby restaurant and ordered a big heapin' bowl of menudo. Which, for those uninitiated among you, is cow's stomach chopped up and simmered in a red chile broth, served with sides of chile flakes, chopped onion, tangy Mexican oregano, and sliced lemon (which I put in my tea).
Warm, hearty peasant cooking, just right for a cold winter's day. It really hit the spot.
Around here we have a saying, "Menudo pera los crudos," menudo for the hangover. I haven't tried menudo for that reason, since I don't get hangovers since I stopped drinking cheap booze, but I know people who swear by it. Cow's stomach just sops those toxins right up, apparently.
In my case, what was hanging over was Thanksgiving. And now I'm cured.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Back in August, when I complained that none of the monsoon rains that were pelting the rest of the state were hitting my neighborhood, the Weather Gods responded, and hammered the district with a series of storms that washed several new potholes into our road and left my brown lawn all green and rejuvenated.
And just a few days ago, when I mentioned that the weather had been unseasonably warm all autumn and free of moisture, the Weather Gods rolled a storm over the area on Thanksgiving Day, complete with rain, wind, snow, and subzero temperatures at night.
The ski areas should offer their thanks, and so do I.
In the meantime, if any of you have any weather problems, just let me know and I'll see what I can do, okay?
According to an article in tomorrow's New Scientist, we may have doomed the universe simply by observing dark energy
"At the quantum level, whenever we observe or measure something, we reset its clock and stop it decaying - something known as the quantum Zeno effect. Our measurement of the light from supernovae in 1998, which provided evidence of dark energy, may have reset the false vacuum’s decay clock to zero - back to a point when the likelihood of its surviving was falling exponentially over time. “In short, we may have snatched away the possibility of long-term survival for our universe and made it more likely it will decay,” says Krauss."
(Oops . . . )
Fortunately, my forthcoming novel Implied Spaces has a solve for this.
Friday, November 23, 2007
The Turkey Has Landed . . . Houston, Are You Drooling?
Weapon of Choice
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Thank You, David Chase
With The Sopranos finale as precedent, whenever I or any of my writer colleagues are stuck for an ending, we're now empowered to just stop the thing in mid-sentence somewhere near the end and just walk away. If someone calls us on it, we can point to David Chase's "artistic" example. No need for conclusions or endings anymore, suckers. Screw endings. Thanks, Mr. Chase, for saving us a shitload of work.
This is so freaking liberating!
Dark Side of My Ass
Sergeant Pepper was number two.
How fucked is that?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
But more astonishing is the fact we're having a forest fire at the end of November. And furthermore on top of a mountain, where it's colder than my area. The fire season usually ends in July. I think I can safely say that we're not used to this.
We've had a very warm and dry autumn. The last rain was, I think, very early in September. The leaves have turned but most haven't fallen. We've only had a very few nights where it's got below freezing, and those were over a month ago.
By now, the mountains north of here should be white with snow. Thanksgiving is usually the day when Taos Ski Valley opens, but they haven't had a drop of snow. Until a few days ago, they couldn't even make snow, because it didn't get below freezing even at night and the snow would have melted.
In the meantime, the Kentucky legislature held a hearing on global warming and forgot to invite scientists.
"Well, I mean, where are we going to get scientists?" Gooch asked. "We're limited here in Kentucky to what we can do. I don't know how we'd necessarily get scientists to come here."
The scientists are just a few miles away, Mr. Gooch. In that thing called a university, which you in the legislature fund.
Monday, November 19, 2007
. . . And Speaking of Cab Calloway
The film was a sort of who's who of black talent for the period. Fats Waller sings "Ain't Misbehavin'." Lena Horne sings the title song, and also gets to act--- she said it was one of the two occasions in her Hollywood career when she got to really act, the other being Cabin in the Sky, where she played the evil seductress Georgia Brown. (Lena Horne can seduce me any time. And yes, I know she's ninety.)
In addition to more cool stuff from Cab Calloway, the film features this astounding dance number from Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers, which Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly both agreed was the best dance number ever caught on film.
And of course there's the ever-copacetic Bill Robinson. He's in his mid-sixties in this movie, but still vigorous enough to make a plausible love interest for the twenty-something Lena Horne.
There's also Dooley Wilson, Eddie Anderson (who gets screen credit for a part that was cut from the film), and a glance at the Calloway orchestra will reveal glimpses of Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins. Zutty Nicholson, Calloway's wife, is also in there somewhere.
The plot, as slight as most musicals, has to do with Bill Robinson (a veteran, as he was in real life, of James Europe's legendary First World War marching band, the Marching Hellfighters) meeting Lena Horne in a postwar cabaret. After they both become successful in show business, Bill wants to settle down and Lena doesn't. That's it, more or less.
The film's principal flaw, of course, is the limited range permitted black entertainers in the 1940s. This film is, in fact, pretty daring by period standards--- I wonder if the necessity of getting black people behind the war effort loosened Hollywood strictures somewhat.
The film features stereotypes--- Bill Robinson's spectacular Jungle Drum Dance is still, well, a Jungle Drum Dance--- but it helps that the picture is about glamorous show people and not, say, poor folk living in cabins in Alabama. The stereotypes are, as stereotypes go, fairly benign--- something of a contract to the current range of roles for black actors, which runs the gamut from gangsters to Magical Negroes to comics to stern lieutenants. The center may have shifted, but the range is still about the same.
Gangstas vs. amiable entertainers. If you had a choice of stereotypes (and realizing that most people don't get this choice), would you rather be feared or condescended to?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Land of Hope and . . . What's the Other Thing?
The old slogan is "Land of Hope and Glory," which is, as Peter Sagal pointed out, is a Wishbone Ash album.
They can't have "E Pluribus Unum"--- that one's taken.
The public is invited to send in their own slogans. They have to be five words or less.
Slogans submitted so far include:
"Thieving bastards since 1170."
"Courage. Reason. Humanity. Democracy. Monarchy."
"Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used."
"Drinking Continues Until Morale Improves."
"Sorry, It's All Our Fault."
"The Land that Orthodonture Forgot"
Do ya'll have any snappy slogans for Britain, or for that matter any other country?
"Chris," by the way, is short for "Christopher." By the time Cab and Auntie Lena got to the hospital, they had taken on a serious load of celebration, and were far too plastered to worry about gender protocols while naming the new arrival.
We'd seen Calloway a few years ago, when much of her act consisted of tunes made famous by Blanche and Cab, with a bit of Billie Holliday thrown in. This time the first set was a tribute to Auntie Lena, with a number of anecdotes thrown in. She said that Lena and Cab first met at a party, when Lena walked in, looked at Cab's wife, and said, "What's that white bitch doing here?" Cab's wife was not white, as it turned out, and Lena apologized, though not (presumably) for her white husband. An odd beginning for a friendship, but there go you.
The second half featured one Blanche song and one Cab song--- one about Minnie the Moocher and Smokey Joe, but not the one you're probably thinking about. Minnie and Joe were recurring characters in the Calloway song cycle.
Songs were nicely performed, and interspersed with lengthy anecdotes and humor. The band was solid, and I was particularly impressed by drummer Ricky Malachi. Sometimes the schtick got in the way of the music, but it was all amiable enough fun.
At the end Calloway talked about the fact that she'd been undergoing cancer treatment for the last few years, and the audience left in a more thoughtful mood than is usual for that venue.
We bought a CD, and are enjoying it.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Surfer Dude Susses Reality
First, folks at the British Interplanetary Society are spending the weekend talking seriously about warp drive, based on the theories of Miguel Alcubierre.
Second, in a story with a headline that ought to have come from the Onion, "Surfer Dude Stuns Physicists with Theory of Everything." The stunning thing is that Lee Smolin is taking it seriously. "It is one of the most compelling unification models I've seen in many, many years," he says.
Off the Grid
(Not that I don't now, of course.)
But over the years people move or fade away or just lose touch. In the old days that would pretty much be that, but nowadays there's Google to help you keep up with the old gang.
Every so often, motivated by nostalgia and curiosity, I'll type in some names and learn a few things.
So the girl who played viola is now a woman who plays viola for a symphony. Cool.
The talented actress and disk jockey is now a comedian and disk jockey who's won a G.L.A.A.D. award. Nifty.
The student of Greek and Latin is now a professor of Greek and Latin. Excellent!
The artist who was a militant crusader for abstraction is now a landscape painter. The reason? She couldn't sell the abstracts. (The part of me that is a commercial writer giggled a bit.)
One astoundingly talented writer is a colonel and a military linguist. Which is all very well, but what about the stories? I want to read more.
I encountered one bit of sad news. The charismatic actor, who last I heard was a dramaturge at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, dropped dead in a parking lot of a heart attack at the age of 50. (I'd guess too much bourbon, too many Luckies.) He had morphed into a journalism professor, of all things.
(My last conversation with him was pretty funny. I had just started publishing the sea-adventure books, and the Guthrie was doing a production of Billy Budd. He called me and began the conversation: "So what the fuck is a foretopman, anyway?")
But it has to be said that most of my old friends have just dropped out of sight completely, at least as far as the internet is concerned. (Some had common names, though, so I suppose that it's possible they were hit number 75,181 out of 1,890,552.) But since so many of them were both talented and creative, sufficiently so that I was often intimidated by their abilities, that's a terrible shame.
I would like to read their stories, enjoy their poetry, view their plays--- and apparently I never will. And I'm inclined to wonder why their creative abilities never flourished, and mine did.
Was it fear? (I wasn't brave, I was just dogged. Or arrogant, take your pick.) Too many adult responsibilities too young? (I married late, never had kids.) Lack of any clear idea of how to proceed? (I had no idea, either, but found the path after blundering around in the jungle for a few years.)
Do y'all Google old friends? What have you discovered?
Blogger Still Wonky
Oddly enough, when I went to the Help Group page and was asked to log in there, it accepted my email, and thus I am able to post here.
I don't trust that this happy accident will occur again, so if I mysteriously disappear from this site, that's very likely why.
The Surgeon's Tale
And Other Stories
By Cat Rambo & Jeff VanderMeer
Order at http://www.kittywumpus.net/orders
There was a surgeon with a terrible obsession
who befriended a dead girl in a strange underground city
from whence came the trolls that made the farmer's cat mad,
and which manifested itself on the surface in the form of both
the heart of a dark and sinister enchanter
and an eccentric, damned cafe.
but some of them did, indeed, live.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
And Speaking of Veterans
"At least 120 Americans who served in the U.S. military killed themselves per week in 2005, CBS News learned in a five-month investigation into veteran suicides. That's 6,256 veteran suicides in one year, in 45 states."
6256. In one year. That's more deaths than the entire Iraq War so far.
The story here.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Alas, recently declassified information now reveals that both our government and our private sector has once again failed returning veterans. The health care scandal was bad enough, as was the various administration moves to deny them benefits, but here's what's happened to the National Guard and Reservists:
"Since 9/11, nearly 11,000 National Guard and Reserve troops have been denied prompt reemployment. 20,000 service men and women had their pensions cut, and another 11,000 lost their health insurance."
So much for the thanks of a grateful nation.
What's worse is that the Pentagon apparently was in cahoots with the scumbucket employers who perpetrated this--- otherwise why classify this information in the first place?
Yet more evidence that "Support Our Troops" is just a bumper-sticker slogan for those in power.
It would be great to have a list of the offenders, so we know whose tires to slash.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Today I made a point of listening to what was echoing in my brain and making an actual playlist.
"Code Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton.
"The Internet is for Porn" from Avenue Q.
"Going Up the Country Blues" by Sippie Wallace, though sometimes the Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur versions intrude.
That Hollies song about the bus stop and the umbrella, which I heard in a store and couldn't shake.
"Bambole'" by Baka Beyond.
"Hocus Pocus," originally by Focus, but it's been going through my brain for so long that I seem to have evolved my own arrangement involving an alternate rhythm section. I really need to be saved from this one.
What tunes are humming in your minds?
Omniscient Narrator Surprised
The rest here.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
All We Need Are a Couple Wee Little Speakers. . .
"Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have built
the world's smallest radio out of single carbon nanotube one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair.
"Researchers say the tiny radio needs only a battery and a pair of
earphones to hook listeners up with their favorite radio stations. But that's not all the new device could be good for.
"The radio's tiny size could make cell phones more efficient, or it even
could be used in radio-controlled devices that flow through the human blood stream, according to a paper written in part by team leader Alex Zettl, a U.C. Berkeley professor of physics. Zettl also noted that he hopes to use the radio to replace cumbersome devices used today to identify atoms or even measure their mass, since the new radio can pick up on atoms jumping on and off the tip of the nanotube. "
For the rest of the story, check this out.
Back from WFC
And Many, Many more. My apologies if I've left you off the list, but I think I drank more pints of beer than I met actual people, so my memories may be hazy.
Unfortunately I don't have time to record all the fascinating things that these people said to me, so you'll have to settle for looking them up on Wikipedia or something.
Welcome back, Me. One year older, five pounds heavier.