Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

There is no sanity clause.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A joke

Q: How do you confuse a blond?

A: Paint yourself green and throw forks at her.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

George and the Conveyer Belt Quest: A Tale of the Good Life

This was written for the final paper in my Humanities class of my first semester at college, which I finished this week. It's allegorical. Sort of.

George woke to a ringing in his ears, soon forgotten as he looked about himself. He was lying on a hard patch of dirt, underneath a surprisingly large signpost marking the beginning of a road. No one was actually walking the road, though George could see shadowy figures shuffling across the barren field in all other directions. Beneath the little boy, the hard-packed ground muttered and quivered indistinctly, as if they were all perched on the stomach of a giant dragon with indigestion.
                George was still pondering this possibility, staring at the ground, when a voice broke through his thoughts: “It’s moving.”
                “Excuse me?” George said, looking up at the man who had appeared before him. The gentleman wore a suit and top hat, though there were enough holes in both that the term “wearing” was generous.
“The ground’s moving,” the man continued, “We’re always moving somewhere, you just don’t notice. The best thing to do is to keep walking. Care to join me?”
                “Sure, I guess.” Now that George thought about it, he realized that he was missing something, as if he needed something to occupy his time with. Simple walking wouldn’t really help, but maybe he could find whatever element he lacked. “Are you walking on that street?” George asked, pointing to the road unfurling from the signpost beside them. But the man in ragged clothes only scoffed.
                “That’s a kinda weird path,” he chuckled knowingly, “Look at that sign. ‘St St.’ What’s that even supposed to mean?”
                The sign did indeed say ‘St St.’ on it, which, mysterious as it was, didn’t quite seem like a reason to disregard the entire road. Still, George deferred to the intelligence of the man he had just met, who seemed worldly-wise enough. They set out to blaze their own path, heading west.
            “The name’s Sentered. Celf Sentered,” George’s traveling companion said with the air of a British secret agent, “I’ve heard tell of a place over here where all your dreams come true and you get anything you want: The Land of Moderation.”
            “Moderation? That sounds pretty good,” George said.
            “Indeed it does… every kind of indulgence imaginable, my friend. You can do anything you want there, and that’s the ticket to true happiness in life.”
The tundra was rocky, and the ground was dotted with thorns, but they managed the trek fine. Soon, other figures could be seen, all headed in roughly same direction; Moderation was a popular destination. As if to explain why, a sign rose out of the mist before them.  The words You can do anything in Moderation were proudly emblazoned upon it, affirming Celf’s recent claim.
Behind the sign, Moderation began with a large forest. Redwood- sized trunks were scattered throughout the scene like the pillars of an ancient civilization, and enormous pears lay in between. Scores of travelers stood around Moderation, indulging in the pears. Almost all of them were dressed like kings, complete with a kingly layer of fat.
            “Welcome!” One of them called out, waddling over. “Take a pear! There’s plenty for all!” Then the man looked around and qualified, “Well, maybe not all. But I’ve already got mine, so grab what you can for yourself.”
            “Nice to meet you,” George said. Celf had already buried his face in a nearby six-foot-tall pear, but burbled something through the pear juice that might have been a greeting.
            “Please, take a pear!” The man continued, “Everyone else is, so you know that you want to! Here in the Forest of Pear Pressure, we all go with the flow. My name’s Celf.”
            “Celf? But that’s his name.” George pointed out his pal, who was difficult to identify now that his back was turned.
            “Sure it is. We’re all Celf Sentered around here; that’s why we all get along. There was that chap Augustine who came for a pear or two, but he didn’t stick around. Now, come on, you might as well have a bite to eat.”
            George left both Celfs, wondering farther into the forest. It seemed like fun. Everyone had all they wanted, and there were even enough pears leftover to smash underfoot. George had been looking for a good life, and this looked like one. But as he walked, he realized something disturbing: hidden around the shadowy pear tree roots were even more people. These ones were even fatter, their rich clothes dank and their faces void of emotion. They were still shoveling pear flesh into their gaping mouths just as efficiently as the others, but with none of the enjoyment.
            This couldn’t be right, George realized. The Celfs weren’t happy; they were turning into empty shells. This was only the ‘right’ path spatially speaking.
            George made his way back, though he couldn’t find either of the men that he’d talked to before. Instead, he heard a new voice, barely audible, whispering, “Come…” from somewhere nearby. George followed, happening upon a train track that pointed back in the direction George had come to Moderation from. A small train stood on it and as George neared the train, its operator showed himself, no doubt the owner of the voice.
            “Hop on,” the wizened and blind old man called, “We depart ASAP.” George was happy to escape the debauched Moderation, and the operator applauded him as he boarded, saying, “It’s hard to get anywhere fast without a Train of Thought.” The train tooted and pulled away, working fine despite the operator’s lack of eyesight. “There’s always the Stream of Consciousness, but that’ll just take you right off the conveyer belt.”
            “The conveyer belt? What do you mean?” our intrepid hero asked.
            “Haven’t ya noticed the ground move?” the operator snorted with superiority, “It’s cause the world’s built on a giant conveyer belt. We’re always headed towards a nasty fall off the end,” –here he jabbed a thumb towards the south, which was to the side of the east-bound train—“unless we go somewhere else with our lives. That’s why I run a train track, helping to move folks around.”
            “Are you sure it helps?” George asked. There seemed to be something wrong with traveling sideways on a conveyer belt in order to keep from falling off, but not being mathematically-oriented, George wasn’t sure exactly what.
            “Oh, sure. It’s not what you do that’s important, just that you do something. Those losers over in Moderation only care about themselves, but I know better. You need to care about something else. You’ll see what I mean once we get to the station.”
            The operator’s train of thought pulled up at a new land, the home of the Faithful Elite. It was a fancy city, and was covered in shiny metallic red and silver walkways, which swept up and over buildings like a bucket of tinsel that had been dropped from the heavens.
            “We’re better than the rest of the world,” explained the operator, whose name was Devotion. “Most of them try to please themselves, and just get fat. There’s more to life than stuffing yourself like a mid-50s college phone-booth.”
Devo pointed out a gentleman below them who had decided to fold as many leaves as possible into tiny origami cranes. A vast pile almost engulfed the man. “That’s False Security down there,” Devo said, “Keepin’ busy. You don’t see him sitting and eating pears. Though technically, I don’t see him at all. And there’s False Hope, busy at his desk job, and False Faith, looking to his model car hobby.” Devo sighed happily. “We’re all too busy to feel empty and useless like the others. We’ve found the good life.”
            George couldn’t wait to think up a task for himself. Maybe he could inflate balloons or watch paint dry. This was definitely the solution to his problems. He followed blind Devotion.
            It was only after picking up his official paint-watching smock, generously provided by the Elite, that George was struck by an issue with the project. It was filling the unhappiness of self-gratitude with pointless activities. It seemed like that wasn’t really filling the void at all, just ignoring it. This epiphany came moments before the ground began to shudder under George even more violently than usual. Ahead, to the south, a glowing red light broached the horizon, growing until George could see the actual edge of the conveyer belt.
            Heading to the east side of the world hadn’t helped at all. George was still going to be swept down just like those in the forested west. Despair gripped him now, as the outskirts of the Elite city began to snap and pop, city tinsel disappearing forever into the chasm beyond the belt. Tiny screams of the devote growing-grass-watchers of the east mingled with the even fainter cries of the fatties of the west.
            “We’re all unfulfilled,” George shouted over the others, “What must I do to be saved?”
            At that moment, he heard one more voice. This one was separate from the rest. It was calm and unwavering, and it was familiar, too. “Come, George.”
            George had heard that call before, he now remembered. It had always been there, overlooked amidst the other travelers George had found, and it had been the faint memory of it that had led George away from the pear forest, and that had pointed out Devo’s various logical contradictions. “Come, George.”
            George followed the call, running north after it. The world collapsed behind him, the mortal earth under his feet churning away from the call. At first the reddish heat of a distinctly bad life practically singed his soles (shoe and otherwise), but eventually it disappeared as he drew away from the conveyer belt edge.
            Other lands and places drifted in and out of the smog George passed through. Some looked enticing even now; a carnival and a candyland caught his eye. But they were all presenting various activities or pleasures that George now knew were useless and even deadly. They all led to a bad life, and George needed something more.
            The call was coming from a lone road in the center of a barren field. In point of fact, it was the same one in which George had begun his trek. A man stood in the mysterious St St., cloaked in a white so bright George couldn’t quite make it out. Its light, however, brightened the rest of the world well enough that the previously ubiquitous fog was swept away, and George could tell how grimy it really was. It paled in comparison with the man who now stood, calling “Come.”
            George’s first step onto the solid rock of Saint Street gave him a new understanding that his old world of secular morality was too shaky to show. The man in white was the missing element, and now George knew he had finally found the good way, the good truth, and the good life.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"No woman can be handsome by the force of features alone; any more that she can be witty by only the help of speech." ~ Kin Hubbard

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Note to self:

Never used the word 'arguably'. No one likes it, since it's so wishy-washy. Maybe subvert their expectations, though: "While it is an arguably good concept, those found arguing so are often morons."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hi Guys!

Hey You Guys Gif - Hey You Guys
see more Gifs

Past Versions of my Blog title

The Big Happy World of Confused People

My, You're Looking Happy Today

You Look Deranged, Deranged, Deranged, Happy, And Deranged.

It's getting harder to come up with titles that make a good joke when combined with the blog url.

Friday, November 19, 2010

25 facts about myself

1. I own close to a hundred copies of Vanilla Ice's autobiography (when I learned it was ghost-written by his manager Timmy Quon, I lost all interest in being a distributor).

2. In the seventh grade, I invented a new eating utensil called the "clingting". I ate every meal with it for four and a half years. It involved magnets.

3. On a dare, I once broke a window of a police car with my head, then blamed it on a homeless guy passed out in a gutter nearby and was awarded a medal.

4. Ever since I saw "The Neverending Story", I've felt that if ever I am truly needed, I will hear a book calling out to me. It's happened twice, and I've ignored it both times.

5. I used to be a vegetarian for moral reasons, but ever since a cow kicked my baby brother in the head I've switched to an all-beef diet. Those jerks deserve it.

6. I've never understood the lyrics to "U Can't Touch This". Is he talking about his suit? Maybe a immaterial concept, like liberty or irascibility.

7. My skills of imitation are inarguable. Once, I was mistaken for a chameleon by three zookeepers. They chased me for a quarter of an hour.

8. I can knit backwards.

9. I have studied lyrical dissonance for three years under the tutelage of Roman Van Duusker, the renowned lyricist. Later I found out that he was actually just the homeless guy getting his revenge on me, but that's life.

10. My theories on Atlantis and its relation to the modern vacuum cleaner have been published in five separate academic magazines and one anthology benefiting those affected by Typhoon Parma in the Philippines.

12. When I was 17, I was hired by as a consultant by a Belgian acrobat. It didn't last long, in part due to my slim grasp of the Dutch language.

13. While some people have an irrational fear of the number 13, and often skip it in the construction of buildings and such, my fear is of the number 11. I try not to use it.

14. I once developed an addition to nicotine patches, working my way up from the weakest to the strongest. In retrospect, this wasn't a good idea.

15. The only pet I've ever had was a mongoose. I feed him on grapefruit.

16. The feathers in my pillow breakdown after a few years of use, so I have now switched to using torn-up pages from autobiographies of Vanilla Ice.

17. January 2011 will mark the tenth anniversary of the last time I ate a banana.

18. Occasionally, if I haven't slept for 24 hours, I see dinosaurs out of the corner of my eye. But normally, I can catch a much better view.

19. I've been contacted to script TV shows based off of my life. Ratings were never very high, however, and after a particularly bad pilot involving an oil tanker and three rare species of bullfrog, I was banned from the Writers Guild of America.

20. I've broken a bone three times. Oddly, it belonged to the same person each time. He's now a close family friend due to the number of get-well-soon cards we've exchanged.

21. I like to tell people that I was involved in a jewel heist during my studies abroad in Africa. But I exaggerate a little; I did trip the criminal on his way out, but it was by accident.

22. My vast collection of candy wrappers is not the largest in the world, but it is the most clean.

23. I once saved a midget from a run-away steamroller while vacationing in New York. He is now my indentured servant (This is the reason my candy wrappers are so clean.)

24. My mongoose was once the suspect in a Murder in the Rue Morgue-esque police investigation. He was cleared, but to this day Police Sargent Ed McJohnston spends his off days staking out my house while muttering incoherently to himself.

25. In the Scottish-Australian community, I'm known as "Lucky".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Vignette

"Good authors too who once knew better words / Now only use four letter words"

    This quote from the musical Anything Goes shows a sad truth: four letter words are now the norm for entertainment. Even a PG-13 rating allows for one use of the ol' F word. This desensitization has destroyed the quaint comfort of movies, plays or novels of old. 
    But wait, says the admittedly theoretical intelligent modernist, aren't you forgetting something? If today's audiences are indeed "desensitized" to swear words, then any media that uses them rests within the certain level of "comfort" that you claim has been lost.
    Alright, we try to say, but the modernist goes on, eager to prove his point: This exposes your hypocrisy! Today's culture merely demonstrates an evolved version of the yesterday's comfort, and you all have failed to appreciate it due to your bias against progress!
    After calming our young dissenter, we attempt to reason with him. Sure, we gently explain, this desensitization has given us comfort with obscene or blasphemous phrases in today's world, but there is another issue at stake here. The impact that such evil words could carry in the past has all but petered out. Now that any children's show can use "oh my God" or "damn", it's hard to gain as much emotional impact when a serious Broadway drama uses an F-bomb. The comfort of the norm still exists, but since shock is the new comfort, there is nothing left to be the new shock. Our world of plays and books is now missing a color from its emotional palette, irreplaceably lost to the sands of time.
    This shuts the modernist up for a moment. But, still unaware that his intellect is of a size highly uncommon to those holding to his modernist views in real life, he strokes his artsy-goatee-studded chin and comes up with another objection.
     This shock incited by dirty words of the past, he says, you imply that it's a necessary part of the olden literature. But I believe your original argument was that such dirty words were never found back then. Are you changing your opinion?
    He sits back with a smug look which is difficult to make out, as the expression is indigenous to his type. He knows he has us now. We must either admit that we are wrong or else adopt a compromising view that swear words were not uncommon in the past. His thumbs are itching with the desire to update his Facebook status, via mobile phone, concerning his triumph over the fuddy-duddies of the past.
    But we are far from defeated.
    The point of the element of shock is to exist without actually appearing, we explain. The feeling of comfort is even more secure when we know that swear words could be used, but are not. This seems like a bit of a stretch to our modernist until we point out that a similar principle applies to his right to vote. At this point, he has little to do but fold.

Author's Note: I came up with that on a whim last night, and haven't edited it, so excuse any errors. I probably misused the term 'modernist' for one. Also, I apparently have an inner intelligent modernist.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Connoísseur, n.

An old wine-bibber was smashed in a railway collision, and some wine was poured on his lips to revive him. "Pauillac, 1873," he murmured and died.

~The Devil's Dictionary

Monday, October 25, 2010



The Myth Behind The Legend

Few literary puzzles have inspired such universal apathy as the question: "Who was Anon?" Books of quotations are cluttered with sayings attributed to Anon, and these scraps of truth and wisdom have earned Anon universal recognition and immortality. Innumerable biographies have been written about lesser authors, even authors so obscure that their works are seldom read. But Anon, though widely read and widely quoted, has been accorded only widespread indifference by the literary community.

Even the most astute literary scholar would be perplexed if asked to identify the central themes of Anon's work. If a historian were asked how Anon's work was influenced by the culture and events of his times, he would be at a total loss for a sensible answer.

So complete has been the scholarly neglect of Anon that his name has become a synonym for "unknown." In spite of this, his works have stood the test of time, and he continues to be one of the most often quoted authors. (Ibid may be more frequently cited, but his works were derivative.)

What little we know of Anon's life is of doubtful validity. We have no authentic picture of Anon, nor any first hand description of him by anyone who would admit to having known him. Not one scrap of original manuscript in his own hand has survived the ravages of time. Scholars have given up hope of ever discovering an autobiography of Anon in some dusty attic.

Yet, from the available dearth of evidence, we can piece together a sketch (albeit apocryphal) of this prolific genius. We know that Anon's wisdom appeared very early in history. When references to him are traced backward in time, in the general direction towards the emergence of civilization, they lead us to a blank wall. This suggests that Anon must be placed in historical times so ancient as to predate the emergence of intelligent thought. He was certainly ahead of his time, which may be the reason why none of his contemporaries knew of him.

If that argument seems specious, consider this independent and equally convincing evidence which leads to the same conclusion. Anon's work was considered immortal in all historical ages, and it is generally quite difficult for an author to achieve immortality in his own time.

Perhaps Anon inspired an ancient "school" of thinkers who later traveled far and wide disseminating his ideas. This may be true. Nobody knows. But then, he would, since Nobody knew Anon personally. Indeed, Nobody knew a lot of things which baffled everyone else. But the hypothesis that Nobody was a pupil of Anon is dubious, if true.

The historical problem is compounded by the timeless quality of Anon's work. His wisdom seems too old-fashioned for modern times, yet too advanced for ancient times. Either Anon was in the habit of living in the past, or anticipating the future. If so, it follows that he was probably neglected and unappreciated in his own age, and that could explain a lot.

Leaving these irrelevant questions aside, let us look at Anon's career. It can be divided into three distinct phases: the first, the second, and the third. That leaves only the problem of deciding into which phase to place each of Anon's works. This is especially troublesome for his posthumous works. Since we have no idea when Anon died, it's even a bit difficult to determine which of his works were posthumous.

We might at least hope to extract Anon's philosophy from those fragments of his genius which have trickled down to us through the sieve of history. It is a vain hope. While Anon wrote (or perhaps spoke) on many subjects, he had the infuriating habit of speaking on every side of every question. No consistent pattern emerges, but this is itself consistent with Anon's own observation that "Consistency is the curse of small minds." On yet another occasion he said, "Sticking consistently to any one position sooner or later leads to logical difficulties." Perhaps Anon merely wanted to ensure that all sides of every question be heard. Yet he expressed reservations about this approach, saying, "One who can see both sides of a question doesn't understand the question." Such remarks strongly suggest that Anon may be the true father of the disciplines of logic and philosophy.

To achieve a true appreciation of Anon's work we must first recognize that the inconsistencies and contradictions inherent or implied in his work do, in fact, represent the central, unifying theme of his philosophy.

Anon's fragmentary output has become so diffused throughout many cultures that it is nearly impossible to specify his country of origin. Some have suggested that Anon was German, his full name being Till Anon--a ridiculous notion at best. Another improbable theory has it that Anon was Spanish with a German surname: Anon y' Maus. Or could this be a nickname describing Anon's timidity: "Anon, the mouse"?

One historian even goes so far as to suggest that all of Anon's works are forgeries of recent (19th century) origin, perpetrated by author Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) writing under the pseudonym: E. M. Anon. When this name is read backwards it is seen to be an anagram of the kind Carroll loved to devise. This outrageous theory deserves to be rejected on its merits.

Lest we be overawed by Anon's versatility, we should look at what he didn't do, for that demonstrates his discrimination and good taste. He never wrote an epic poem, a play, or an opera. He never wrote a best selling work of fiction, never wrote a textbook, and never edited an anthology. He left such enterprises to hacks and lesser intellects.

No painting or drawing bears the signature "Anon." No sculpture has "Anon" chiseled on its base. If he ever tried his hand at art, he apparently never signed his works.

For all of his output of serious sagacity, homely homilies, and profound pronouncements, Anon had a lighter side. In fact his output of jokes far exceeded the rest of his literary work. It is true that many of these jokes are off-color, but that has only enhanced their popularity. They are remembered and quoted verbatim by people who couldn't recite one line of "The Ancient Mariner." Anon knew that art is of no value without an audience, or as he put it so well, "'Tis better to be obscene than unheard."

So, a picture of Anon emerges: a witty, slightly cynical, philosopher of the people. He could sum up the essence of an idea in one pithy sentence. Though many others plagiarized his works, he never complained. He must have cared little for money, for there is no record that he was ever paid for any of his work.

Anon demonstrated that the best way to achieve recognition is by not seeking it. He was unconcerned about the judgment of posterity, for he said, "Be not obligated to posterity. What has posterity ever done for you? The critical judgment of posterity comes too late to be useful."

Of course any conclusions about Anon, the man, might have to be modified if it were shown that Anon was a woman. The true sex of Anon may be a matter of dispute among scholars, yet we have no reason to believe that Anon ever had the slightest concern about this question.

As usual, Anon had the first word on such speculations when he (or she) said, "Nothing stimulates outrageous theories so effectively as an absence of evidence."



1. The name "Anon" is virtually unknown in any language, which suggests that Anon had no descendants. Perhaps Anon's family suffered from hereditary infertility. It's a well-known biological fact that if your parents had no children, it's very likely that you won't either.2. Recently Anon's works have been subjected to stylistic analysis with the aid of a computer. The tentative conclusion is that Anon plagiarized all of his works from others.

3. Those who fault Anon's style should remember that his sayings would probably sound better in Anon's native tongue, if we only knew what language that was.

4. We may safely assume that Anon never had the advantage of higher education, for no Ph.D. thesis bears his name.

5. Though Anon's life is shrouded in obscurity, his works have far greater merit than those of authors whose meaning is shrouded in obscurity.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything.

~GK Chesteron

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Comedy Schematic

I just watched the 2002 film version of The Importance of Being Earnest, which is one of the cleverest plays I've ever seen. It got me thinking about the particular group of period-piece comedies into which it falls. Other stories in this group include Gilbert and Sullivan's works, Moliere's The Miser, most Shakespeare comedies, a lot of Saki's short stories, some O Henry stories, and anything written by PG Wodehouse.

Within this group, there are a lot of similar themes and elements. I've figured out several lists detailing them.

Story elements:

Family pride
Love triangles
Mis-mailed letter(s)
Mistaken identity
New-found inheritance
Political corruption
Social Hierarchy

Two relationships can be given per character, so that the second can be revealed in order to move the plot along during the 2nd or 3rd act.

  -overbearing, doting, cool
  -step-, foster
  -secret, arranged, normal
Old military buddy
Old school chum

An optional list is that of the possible supernatural elements. These change the nature of the story, making it even less realistic than it already was, so they should be handled with care. Also, it's a short list, since there aren't many supernatural things that constantly come up in witty comedies.

Supernatural Elements:

  -benevolent, malevolent, pranking
  -advice-dispensing, task-requiring
Love potions

My last list is of the elements that are more or less completely essential to this type of story. I saved it for last because these ones are pretty intuitive, and shouldn't need as much attention as the others when one constructs the story. They're just helpful to have in mind.


Intellectual exchanges of wit 
A happy ending

Using these lists, one can compose a plot. Mix and match three or four story elements, pick out some good relationships for the characters, and then make a plot that works off of each one. If one can make most of the plot elements intertwine with each other, it will work well. 

A good technique is to choose one of the story elements to center the entire plot on, and weave the others around it, since this makes the story cohesive. Give the characters unrealistic priories, like family pride or a bet over one's life, since this opens up a lot of story possibilities that wouldn't actually exist in real life, and makes the story funnier.

You'll have to come up with the wit by yourself. Originality is one thing I can't help you with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ode to the Eyebrow

“And then, the lover sighing like furnace
with a woeful ballad made to his mistress’ eyebrow”,
--Act II, Scene VII from 'As You Like It’, by William Shakespeare

Ode to the Eyebrow

It’s a thin black line on skin so milky
Dances wild like a merry selkie

Constant measures of propriety
often hinting at faux piety

It decorates a mind astute
And in several ways acute

It rises with an air of shocking
It lowers in teasing or mocking

Always flippant, oozing style
The only brow I’ve seen smile

And an extra verse that didn't fit the rest of the poem:

It volleys forth, it sallies back
It wriggles like a worm on crack

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

There are only two solutions to ignorance: either stop being ignorant, or learn to be ignorant of one's ignorance.


Lottery! That's what it is. Not a death drawing, a death lottery. Death drawing does have a bit of a ring to it, though. Nice alliteration. Probably draws the folks in like crazy.

The above paragraph came to me late last night. Earlier, I'd had one of those annoying moments when you can't find the right word. I'd picked 'drawing' to describe a situation in which everyone draws papers to see who dies, but everyone knows that's always called a death lottery, never a death drawing. Google it; you'll see I'm right.

My roommate wasn't there to hear me muttering to myself. I would say that was a narrow escape from alienation, but considering I engaged in a nerf gun fight while pretending to be a zombified Moriarty to his Sherlock Holmes the other week, he already knows how weird I am and is fine with it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


"One of my students wrote a story about a nun who got a piece of dental floss stuck between her lower left molars, and who couldn’t get it out all day long. I thought that was wonderful. The story dealt with issues a lot more important than dental floss, but what kept readers going was anxiety about when the dental floss would finally be removed. Nobody could read that story without fishing around in his mouth with a finger. Now, there’s an admirable practical joke for you. When you exclude plot, when you exclude anyone’s wanting anything, you exclude the reader, which is a mean-spirited thing to do." 

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I just thought of the phrase "Rainbow Cartel".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I can understand having good looking people populating TV shows.... but why are the murder victims on crime shows good looking, too? They only show up for five minutes at the beginning.

Maybe they're trying to keep up the continuity of a world entirely populated with beautiful people.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teenagers and sarcasm

They go together well.

I think it's because sarcasm is a way to be passive-aggressive, so teenagers can convince themselves that they aren't really at fault, but still vent their messed-up teenage emotions.

I could expound on this and turn this into an essay, but I've been writing a lot of them here at college anyway.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's like The Happening crossed with a typical over-done genre.

The opposite of a vampire: plants. Because they like sunlight. 

In a fight, the vampires' only hope is Bunnicula.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I want a story about reincarnation in which people can be reincarnated at any point in time. The storyline could revolve around a handful of people who retain their memories, and, by strategically killing themselves, can come back as other characters. Famous characters from history. I'm thinking one guy comes back as Nicola Tesla to save the day at the end.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


So not only is there a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie in the future, but Natalie Portman is starring. Looks like it has potential.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I wonder if I could write a story in which Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist from the 1800s, was trying to hide a deep dark secret by keeping it out of the libraries, which were the only source of anything close to obscure information at the time. It would make sense, because he donated money for more than 2,500 libraries, including some belonging to public and university library systems. Maybe it was all so that he could keep out the information he wanted no one to know.

But I could get in trouble for defamation. So maybe I won't do it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The 2 rules to success in life:

1. Don't tell people everything you know.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Biblical analogy

Jeremiah 13:1-11 contains an analogy saying that God's people are his loincloth. This doesn't seem to have caught on as well as the one about the church being the bride of Christ.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Six Lessons

This is a speech by John Taylor Gatto, given as he accept the New York State Teacher of the Year award for 1991, his third in as many years. It was his last one, as he retired later that year, probably because this speech created a little friction with his employers.

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. My license certifies me as an instructor of English language and literature, but that isn't what I do at all. What I teach is school, and I win awards doing it.
Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:
The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong." I don't know who decides that my kids belong there but that's not my business. The children are numbered so that if any get away they can be returned to the right class. Over the years the variety of ways children are numbered has increased dramatically, until it is hard to see the human being under the burden of the numbers each carries. Numbering children is a big and very profitable business, though what the business is designed to accomplish is elusive.
In any case, again, that's not my business. My job is to make the kids like it -- being locked in together, I mean -- or at the minimum, endure it. If things go well, the kids can't imagine themselves anywhere else; they envy and fear the better classes and have contempt for the dumber classes. So the class mostly keeps itself in good marching order. That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place.
Nevertheless, in spite of the overall blueprint, I make an effort to urge children to higher levels of test success, promising eventual transfer from the lower-level class as a reward. I insinuate that the day will come when an employer will hire them on the basis of test scores, even though my own experience is that employers are (rightly) indifferent to such things. I never lie outright, but I've come to see that truth and [school]teaching are incompatible.
The lesson of numbered classes is that there is no way out of your class except by magic. Until that happens you must stay where you are put.
The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. But when the bell rings I insist that they drop the work at once and proceed quickly to the next work station. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of.
The lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their argument is inexorable; bells destroy past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as an abstract map makes every living mountain and river the same even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.
The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal. As a schoolteacher I intervene in many personal decisions, issuing a Pass for those I deem legitimate, or initiating a disciplinary confrontation for behavior that threatens my control. My judgments come thick and fast, because individuality is trying constantly to assert itself in my classroom. Individuality is a curse to all systems of classification, a contradiction of class theory.
Here are some common ways it shows up: children sneak away for a private moment in the toilet on the pretext of moving their bowels; they trick me out of a private instant in the hallway on the grounds that they need water. Sometimes free will appears right in front of me in children angry, depressed or exhilarated by things outside my ken. Rights in such things cannot exist for schoolteachers; only privileges, which can be withdrawn, exist.
The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me). This power lets me separate good kids from bad kids instantly. Good kids do the tasks I appoint with a minimum of conflict and a decent show of enthusiasm. Of the millions of things of value to learn, I decide what few we have time for. The choices are mine. Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity.
Bad kids fight against this, of course, trying openly or covertly to make decisions for themselves about what they will learn. How can we allow that and survive as schoolteachers? Fortunately there are procedures to break the will of those who resist.
This is another way I teach the lesson of dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives. It is no exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends upon this lesson being learned. Think of what would fall apart if kids weren't trained in the dependency lesson: The social-service businesses could hardly survive, including the fast-growing counseling industry; commercial entertainment of all sorts, along with television, would wither if people remembered how to make their own fun; the food services, restaurants and prepared-food warehouses would shrink if people returned to making their own meals rather than depending on strangers to cook for them. Much of modern law, medicine, and engineering would go too -- the clothing business as well -- unless a guaranteed supply of helpless people poured out of our schools each year. We've built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don't know any other way. For God's sake, let's not rock that boat!
In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged. A monthly report, impressive in its precision, is sent into students' homes to spread approval or to mark exactly -- down to a single percentage point -- how dissatisfied with their children parents should be. Although some people might be surprised how little time or reflection goes into making up these records, the cumulative weight of the objective- seeming documents establishes a profile of defect which compels a child to arrive at a certain decisions about himself and his future based on the casual judgment of strangers.
Self-evaluation -- the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet -- is never a factor in these things. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but must rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.
In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts 300 seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other, even to tattle on their parents. Of course I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness, too.
I assign "homework" so that this surveillance extends into the household, where students might otherwise use the time to learn something unauthorized, perhaps from a father or mother, or by apprenticing to some wiser person in the neighborhood.
The lesson of constant surveillance is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient urgency among certain influential thinkers; it was a central prescription set down by Calvin in the Institutes, by Plato in the Republic, by Hobbes, by Comte, by Francis Bacon. All these childless men discovered the same thing: Children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under central control.
It is the great triumph of schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best parents, there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things. Yet only a very few lifetimes ago things were different in the United States: originality and variety were common currency; our freedom from regimentation made us the miracle of the world; social class boundaries were relatively easy to cross; our citizenry was marvelously confident, inventive, and able to do many things independently, to think for themselves. We were something, all by ourselves, as individuals.
It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on. The cry for "basic skills" practice is a smokescreen behind which schools pre-empt the time of children for twelve years and teach them the six lessons I've just taught you.
We've had a society increasingly under central control in the United States since just before the Civil War: the lives we lead, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the green highway signs we drive by from coast to coast are the products of this central control. So, too, I think, are the epidemics of drugs, suicide, divorce, violence, cruelty, and the hardening of class into caste in the U.S., products of the dehumanization of our lives, the lessening of individual and family importance that central control imposes.
Without a fully active role in community life you cannot develop into a complete human being. Aristotle taught that. Surely he was right; look around you or look in the mirror: that is the demonstration.
"School" is an essential support system for a vision of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows to a control point as it ascends. "School" is an artifice which makes such a pyramidal social order seem inevitable (although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution). In colonial days and through the period of the early Republic we had no schools to speak of. And yet the promise of democracy was beginning to be realized. We turned our backs on this promise by bringing to life the ancient dream of Egypt: compulsory training in subordination for everybody. Compulsory schooling was the secret Plato reluctantly transmitted in the Republic when he laid down the plans for total state control of human life.
The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony; we already have one, locked up in the six lessons I've told you about and a few more I've spared you. This curriculum produces moral and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its bad effects. What is under discussion is a great irrelevancy.
None of this is inevitable, you know. None of it is impregnable to change. We do have a choice in how we bring up young people; there is no right way. There is no "international competition" that compels our existence, difficult as it is to even think about in the face of a constant media barrage of myth to the contrary. In every important material respect our nation is self-sufficient. If we gained a non-material philosophy that found meaning where it is genuinely located -- in families, friends, the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent independence and privacy -- then we would be truly self-sufficient.
How did these awful places, these "schools", come about? As we know them, they are a product of the two "Red Scares" of 1848 and 1919, when powerful interests feared a revolution among our industrial poor, and partly they are the result of the revulsion with which old-line families regarded the waves of Celtic, Slavic, and Latin immigration -- and the Catholic religion -- after 1845. And certainly a third contributing cause can be found in the revulsion with which these same families regarded the free movement of Africans through the society after the Civil War.
Look again at the six lessons of school. This is training for permanent underclasses, people who are to be deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. And it is training shaken loose from its original logic: to regulate the poor. Since the 1920s the growth of the well-articulated school bureaucracy, and the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit from schooling exactly as it is, have enlarged schooling's original grasp to seize the sons and daughters of the middle class.
Is it any wonder Socrates was outraged at the accusation that he took money to teach? Even then, philosophers saw clearly the inevitable direction the professionalization of teaching would take, pre-empting the teaching function that belongs to all in a healthy community; belongs, indeed, most clearly to yourself, since nobody else cares as much about your destiny. Professional teaching tends to another serious error. It makes things that are inherently easy to learn, like reading, writing, and arithmetic, difficult -- by insisting they be taught by pedagogical procedures.
With lessons like the ones I teach day after day, is it any wonder we have the national crisis we face today? Young people indifferent to the adult world and to the future; indifferent to almost everything except the diversion of toys and violence? Rich or poor, schoolchildren cannot concentrate on anything for very long. They have a poor sense of time past and to come; they are mistrustful of intimacy (like the children of divorce they really are); they hate solitude, are cruel, materialistic, dependent, passive, violent, timid in the face of the unexpected, addicted to distraction.
All the peripheral tendencies of childhood are magnified to a grotesque extent by schooling, whose hidden curriculum prevents effective personality development. Indeed, without exploiting the fearfulness, selfishness, and inexperience of children our schools could not survive at all, nor could I as a certified schoolteacher.
"Critical thinking" is a term we hear frequently these days as a form of training which will herald a new day in mass schooling. It certainly will, if it ever happens. No common school that actually dared teach the use of dialectic, heuristic, and other tools of free minds could last a year without being torn to pieces.
Institutional schoolteachers are destructive to children's development. Nobody survives the Six-Lesson Curriculum unscathed, not even the instructors. The method is deeply and profoundly anti-educational. No tinkering will fix it. In one of the great ironies of human affairs, the massive rethinking that schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that it is not likely to happen. First and foremost, the business I am in is a jobs project and a contract-letting agency. We cannot afford to save money, not even to help children.
At the pass we've come to historically, and after 26 years of teaching, I must conclude that one of the only alternatives on the horizon for most families is to teach their own children at home. Small, de- institutionalized schools are another. Some form of free-market system for public schooling is the likeliest place to look for answers. But the near impossibility of these things for the shattered families of the poor, and for too many on the fringes of the economic middle class, foretell that the disaster of Six-Lesson Schools is likely to continue.
After an adult lifetime spent in teaching school I believe the method of schooling is the only real content it has. Don't be fooled into thinking that good curricula or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son and daughter's schooltime. All the pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and their families, to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love -- and, of course, lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home life.
Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.
A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; this future will demand, as the price of survival, that we follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A choice

You have a choice before you today. You can click one of the links below and be transported to a location on the interwebs. Two of these links will take you to a recipe for lemon beans, but the other will reveal a witty commentary on a semi-recent blockbuster. Attempt to choose the abnormal one on your first try.

Also, hovering over the links so that you can see what they are counts as clicking them.

Link one.

Link two.

Link three.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"When I was in college, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl. Now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl'."

~Tom Lehrer

Monday, August 9, 2010

Singular Personality Disorder

We all know that a person can have Multiple Personality Disorder, which would give them several different personalities, but what about several different people having the same personality?

I'm thinking they would be twins, with the same disorder due to similar genes and background. And that would mean that they would look the same, as well as think that they are the same person. Sounds like a good black comedy.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Here's a skit I composed about the governmental system in China, as mentioned a few posts down. 

Well, here we are in China. It's about time to start sight-seeing, but first, maybe you can educate me on China's government system. 

Sure thing, buddy.

What I want to know is, who's the President of China?

That's right.

What? I'm asking about the President.


The President of China.


The guy in charge.


That's what I want to know!

I'm telling you, the man's name is Hu.

What's the man's name?

No, Hu's the man's name.

.... Who is the man's name?

That's right!

No, it's not. That's terrible grammar. You don't say "Who is the man's name", you say "What's the man's name". Now, what's the man's name?

It's Hu.

No, it's "what".

You think his name is what?

I don't know what his name is, that why I'm asking you!

Well, now, there's no need to get riled up like that. The President isn't the only important figure, you know. If you don't like his name, there are others.

Like who?

Yes, just like Hu.


No, there's nobody like What. I don't even know where that came from.

Who's what?

No, he's not! That's what I'm trying to tell you!

Who's getting riled up now?

Is he? I wouldn't know.

Look, what were you saying about other people? There are other officials you can tell me about?

Yes. For instance, the Prime Minister?

What's his name?


... What's his name right now?


This very moment.


Has he ever changed his name?


So he's always had the same name?


What is it?


Right now!


Who's the Prime Minister?!

No, he's the President!










I don't even know who What is, but Hu's the president and Wen's the Prime Minister.

When is the Prime Minister what?

He's never What! No one's What. He's when.

When what?

I don't know his given name, I'm afraid. Just the surname.

Which is... what?

I don't think you've learned anything here.

Look, never mind. I give up. You don't need to try to tell me about the government.

Well, alright. Maybe later we can talk about what's what.

I don't even know how this guy "What" showed up. What's he got to do with anything?

I don't know. You brought him up.

Did not... when?

What about him?


He's the President.


Now you've got it. You'll understand the Hu-Wen Administration yet!

The what?

The Hu-Wen Administration.

Well, if you don't know those basic concepts like who and when, it's no wonder we never got anywhere.

Tell you what; let's calm down over dinner. I want to try out my wok.

Your what?

My wok. It's a versatile round-bottomed cooking vessel. It's Chinese. 

So in this government it's a Hu-Wen wok?

Well... you could say that.

I don't think I will. Let's eat.