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Quotified [Sep. 2nd, 2011|05:25 am]
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.”

-Richard Dawkins
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Dance Moves [Aug. 23rd, 2011|04:39 am]
Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on September 9, 1956. Radio waves transmitted that night have traveled roughly 316,747,584,000,000 miles into space. Elvis has so far reached 133 stars. Eventually, inevitably, Elvis will appear on television screens on some distant alien world. The inhabitants of this world communicate through movement. His dancing will take on meaning there. His pelvis will thrust and hips will gyrate anew. It will be, at first, obscene. It will be a message of rebellion that appeals to their pupae and larvae, which the imago will despise. It will challenge the old religions and social mores. They will celebrate the wisdom in our accidental philosophy, and their linguists will argue that we must have been observing them for some time in order to have learned and mastered their language.

They will send their questions into the sky, toward Elvis: Antennae straightened, thorax bent forward, feet 1, 3 and 6 tapping aggressively, which translates roughly into English as, "What is death? Why do we die? Is there something waiting for us beyond the eternal boundary?" And Elvis, unlike our God, will answer them. He will answer them in disco.

John Travolta's hand travels back and forth with the cadence of the Bee Gees, knee wobbling in fulfillment of the Elvis prophecies, but brimming with new revelations in every consonant and vowel of his vibrating body. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on IR5811. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother," and so on.

Some will say that John Travolta is the only begotten son of Elvis, sent to Rydell High School to date Sandy Olsen that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever-lasting life. Others will keep to the old ways, convinced that Travolta's dance moves are too disparate from Elvis to be reconciled. Mandibles snapping open and shut, pedipalp swaying, telson slapping the ground. "He is a great man, but he is only a man."

The wars will be inevitable. Forgetting that at the core of both doctrines lies a message of peace, love and forgiveness, the creatures will begin to destroy one another. Apocryphal VHS bootlegs will surface, criticized as fakes by the opposing sides. Elvis kissing his cousin. John Travolta trading faces with Nicholas Cage, then trying to murder him.

In the final moments of the last war, some desperate affiliation of peace activists will broadcast a new transmission received that day, fifty years after the Ed Sullivan show first came down from on high. And every soldier will drop his sword, and rise up from the filthy trenches to stand beside his brother. And every segment of every compound eye will fall upon Dancing With the Stars, where Kate Gosselin completes the Holy Trinity. She spins, one leg lifted and cradled by Tony Dovolani.

But how? Women can't even talk. Their egg sacks are too heavy and their legs shrivel and rot once they are settled into the hive. Do they have a part in Elvis' divine plan? Tony lifts Kate into the air. Her arm rests across his shoulders. She turns away, but their fingers lock to pull them toward one another again. Together, their movements translate in a woman's voice: "Eight larvae have spilled from my eggs, and I am a husk. But I have a soul, an interiority. It just can't be expressed on my power alone. Be the legs of your queen, that she might speak her matronly wisdom."

And they will go to the queen. And they will lift her up. And they will dance with her. And she will speak through them. "Feed me," she will say. "Feed me. I am hungry."
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Let Those Who Love Me Follow Me [Nov. 9th, 2010|11:25 pm]
Those of you who know me well, know that I spend a great deal of time trying to figure out which characters from Star Wars should be portrayed by which characters from Winnie the Pooh in the Star Wars/Winnie the Pooh crossover film I intend to make when I am rich and eccentric.

Here is my most recent list:

Winnie the Pooh - While "Poohbacca" is difficult to ignore both as a phonetic powerhouse and promising visual, I think I'd have to go with Yoda here. He's wise. He's shortish and round. He has big ears. It's perfect.

Piglet - Definitely Luke Skywalker. No doubt in my mind. Just look at him.

He's clearly trying to lift the X-Wing (portrayed in this film by a honey pot with wings, of course) out of the Dagobah (Hundred-Acre Wood) swamp.

Trespassers William - follows naturally as Darth Vader.

Rabbit - Princess Leia. Again, I really feel like this needs no explanation.

Owl - Obi Wan Kenobi. An old, questionably wise hermit living alone in a hole? Check.

Tigger - Han Solo. This is really the best fit of the entire list. "Fly the Kessell Run in less than twelve parsecs? That's what Tiggers do best!"

Eeyore - Lando. He bitches and moans until Cloud City gets washed away in a flood and he has to donkey the fuck up.

Kanga & Roo - C3PO and R2D2. Obvious.

The Heffalump & Woozle - Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett.

Questions, concerns and suggestions are all welcome.
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English [Nov. 9th, 2010|05:45 pm]
For those of you who've been sitting patiently at your computers clicking the refresh button and waiting for a new post from me, here it is:

Today, some charismatics came to my door to preach to me. I opened up because I'm a nice guy (I'm for real nice, you guys) and figured they probably weren't getting a very warm reception and could use an opportunity to feel like they were making a difference. The missionaries were two Asian women; one from Myanmar and one was from Korea. I thought that would make them interesting, but I was wrong. Myanmar hardly spoke. I only talked to Korea.

"Are you a sinner or are you righteous?"

Hmmm. I am smoking a cigarette and wearing a Star Wars shirt. I paused Fallout: New Vegas to answer the door. And I clearly haven't brushed my teeth this morning or shaved in several weeks. Put me down for righteous.

The thing that bugs me most about talking to charismatics is that they ask questions, the answers to which are completely unknowable - EVEN TO ANOTHER CHARISMATIC! She read me some verse from her Bible (in very broken English) that mentioned getting the love and the spirit, then asked me what the spirit was. Just to be clear, I am a native English speaker. I know what spirit is. I know what is meant by the word "spirit" in that passage. I can take contextual hints and gather meaning that way as well - but not here. She has a correct answer in mind that someone told her and then asked her to tell me: Spirit is the word of God. Alright, fine.

She went on to tell me about the various covenants with much confusion. She kept getting the Sinai covenant confused with the Abrahamic covenant and stuff like that. There were some language difficulties that furthered the confusion, resulting in me answering all her hypothetical questions but not with the answers she wanted, which led to her talking more. My tactic of providing subtle evidence that I knew and understood the doctrine wasn't working to shut her up.

I tried for a different tack and just said "right" a lot. Twenty minutes later, I was free to treat myself to a shot of Johnny Walker and return to shooting people in the face and taking their stuff.

It was weird, is what I'm trying to say.

In other news, I have discovered the greatest combination of words in the English language: Gallant Stroll. I like the sound of them. I like the concept. I like the act. The gallant stroll is, I think, Man's single achievement.
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Why Inception is more significant than even its biggest fans seem to realize. [Sep. 10th, 2010|12:05 am]
I will assume that you've seen Inception and have already put together your own theory. This post contains spoilers.


The more I see the film and reflect upon it, the more I become convinced that there is no "top level." That's not to say that I think Cobb's dreaming the whole time or that he's awake at certain times or anything like that. I simply don't think that you can take a literal approach to the film. I don't think that there is a base logic that you can cut out and examine in the waking world.

I feel that "top level" Cobb is a Schrödinger's cat, both dreaming and awake, with evidence for both and against both. The film just cannot be broken down via real world logic, and I don't think that's because Nolan was lazy or just slapped together a nonsense plot. I think that's on purpose, and I think the film is an exceptionally well-crafted piece of self-referential, post modern work. The paradox of Cobb's being both awake and asleep mirrors the Escher-like paradox stairs and other elements littering the entire film.

You keep unraveling the puzzle, coming closer and closer, until you end up back where you started - and that's what makes this movie so great. It is, to some degree, about itself and nothing else. It is a box inside itself.

What I mean to say is this:

There's been a lot of fuss over the notion that Cobb is likely to be dreaming the entire time. That may be true. Many people have touched on the notion that even the shared dream technology could simply be part of this over-arching dream. That's also true.

The problem is that all of that misses the greater point, which is that Cobb might not even be the dreamer. There may not be a dreamer. It may not even be a dream. It could, just as easily, be that every person in the movie is equally fictional. They could all just be characters in a film. Which is, in reality, what they are.

The genius of the puzzle is that it shows us that each layer of the dream depends somehow upon the layer above it. When you are considering the top level - the waking level - in the film, you have to look to the layer above that as well. You have to approach it from the meta. You have to acknowledge that the top layer is also false, and has to be looked at in the context of a work of fiction. In this way, the fiction penetrates reality in its own clever way.

It's important to note the subtle difference between "there is no right answer" and "there is no answer." "There is no right answer" implies that either answer (Cobb is dreaming or Cobb is awake) is equally viable and it was purposely left uncertain by the filmmaker. I am arguing that this is not the case. Instead, I'm saying that neither answer can be true.

As I said above, Inception is a film about itself. That puts it in slim company as one of only a handful of truly Post Modern films. I would argue that Charlie Kaufman's brilliant Adaptation was the first. Followed closely by Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York.

Other, earlier films have taken note, at times, of the fact that they were films. In Annie Hall, for example, Woodie Allen turns to speak to the camera several times. Another Woodie Allen film, Stardust Memories keeps ending before the ending, implying that everything that came before was part of a film within the film. Even Mel Brooks' Blazin' Saddles nods to its own movie-dom, when the climactic fight spills off of the movie set and rampages around the studio lot. But in each of these cases, the films seemed to be flirting with the fourth wall. They were definitely Post Modern and definitely self-referential, but they were still only the zygote.

Inception and Adaptation represent the maturation of this approach. What sets Inception apart, though, is the obfuscation. It is the allegory of the cave, told within the cave itself. That is the true significance of the film. It does not provide the pieces to solve the mystery. Those clues are on the next level up. Those clues are out here, when you look into the fiction from outside.
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Writer's Block: Favorite Music Video of All Time [Sep. 9th, 2010|11:42 pm]
[Tags|, , , ]

What's your favorite music video of all time?

I have two favorite music videos:

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Video Blog [Feb. 14th, 2010|07:08 am]
I'm keeping a video blog these days.

You can find it at www.cityofscholars.com
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(no subject) [Sep. 1st, 2009|12:19 am]
Help. My life stopped being weird. It happened slowly. I can't find my way back.
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In Remembrance of the Fallen [Jun. 27th, 2009|02:22 pm]

Dug this old favorite up out of the archives. I, for one, am going to miss the old tart.
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look alike [Feb. 24th, 2009|11:38 am]
Looking back through some old comics of mine, I realized how much I look like Early Cuyler from the Squidbillies in my own mind.

CompareCollapse )
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