Tag Archives: insanity

An Open Letter to Retailers

Dear Retailers,

I understand that as corporations, you have but one purpose, and that is to make profit. You do this by selling goods to consumers, and you increase sales by manipulating consumers to demand more goods. That having been said, I feel that your profit-oriented blurring of the calendar has gone too far. And I rather imagine that most people in this country will agree with me.

We humphed when Santa started to pop up before Halloween, we harrumphed when fake trees went on sale in August. We winced as Black Friday inched ever closer to Thursday, and then squeezed our collective eyes shut when it jumped that boundary. You even had the chutzpah to air ads telling us that “Black Friday isn’t over yet,” before my Thanksgiving guests had even finished setting the table.

And now? Candy hearts are already in bloom. Christmas is barely three days in the past, some of us are still on vacation, and we’ve not even had a chance to ring in the new year. But you just had to go and bring up Valentine’s Day, yet another holiday dedicated to gifts and obligations.

I, for one, have consumer fatigue after having been constantly exhorted to buy since summer. You really ought to give us all a rest before trying to push our buttons for the “next big thing.”

Or— don’t. Push our buttons continuously, year-round! You know you want to. But what will happen then is that we’ll eventually quit playing along with the old, co-opted holidays, and make up some new ones.


The Electronic Replicant

TMI Thursday

This would normally be the place where I’d tell all about how I got so involved with the teachings of Ayn Rand that I could hardly function as a human being— and then my friends gave me a surprise hot-tub party. Unfortunately, I just can’t think of a great excuse like that at the moment. I suppose I’ll just skip the intro and go straight into explaining that the following is a TMI Tuesday which I, in a brazen display of utter disregard for propriety, have just performed on a Thursday. You may now emit shocked gasps and fan yourselves vigorously.

1. Which religion or faith do you belong to, if any?
I’m pretty much a None Of The Above. True story, I once took a semi-serious online questionnaire designed to match one’s beliefs with a compatible organized religion. It told me I’d be most compatible with: Secular Humanism, Unitarian Universalism, and a form of Buddhism.
2. What is your opinion of Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays?
I say Happy Holidays for two reasons. One, I can’t simply assume that you’re going to celebrate Christmas. Two, there are other holidays this time of year. New Year’s Eve, for one.
3. Holiday music on the radio? When and how much?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d like to seal all those worn out old tunes in a time capsule and give them a rest for at least a decade or two.
4. When do you start decorating? Do you?
I’m not the type to throw up lights as soon as the turkey’s cleared the table. That’s too early, I think. I may put some lights up this weekend.
5. White lights or multi-colored?
Multi-colored lights tend to give off a random, thrown-together look.
6. Gift cards, cash, or actually shopped-for presents?
Sure. I’m not picky.
7. Christmas cards and/or family update letters are…
Well, it’s the thought that counts.
8. Snow is…
9. Have you been a good little boy or girl this year?
Yes. Mostly. I mean, there were those parking tickets.
1. Food – Yes.
2. Dessert – Double yes.
3. Drink – Triple yes.
4. Holiday movie – Gremlins
5. Holiday music – See #3.
6. Holiday tradition – Eating and drinking.

Wild Mass Guessing

Though I mentioned the Sci-Fi Experience a few days ago, it seems I’ve posted very little in that realm. I think it’s time to remedy that.

Be forewarned, though, that what follows is not a review. Oh, no, dear readers, what follows is a complete and total nerd-out. A nerd-out in which I attempt to create a flimsy connection between a beloved animated feature from 1999 and an obscure anime series from approximately the same era.

I therefore say unto you that The Iron Giant could share a timeline with The Big O.

If you are unfamiliar, The Iron Giant is an animated film set in 1957, in which a huge amnesiac robot falls from space and befriends a boy named Hogarth Hughes.

Iron Giant and Hogarth

The Big O is a techno-noir anime series set in an unspecified year. Beneath the domes of Paradigm City, the City of Amnesia, live humans and androids who lost their memories forty years previously. The city’s top negotiator, Roger Smith, can call upon a giant robot called Big O to defend the city from other giant robots.

Big O, Showtime!

Consider that The Iron Giant takes place in the 1950′s. Stylistic elements in The Big O seem to suggest that The Event of Forty Years Ago occurred in the late 1960′s, (not to mention the fact that the series aired in the 2000′s, forty years after the 1960s.)

In a deleted scene, the Giant had a dream of others of his kind laying waste to an alien city.

Suppose that the Giant regained his memories, or at least some of them, by the end of the film. Let us suppose that while he sat in the ice waiting for the lost pieces to return, he recalled that the others he dreamed of were already on their way. He might try to return to Rockwell to warn Hogarth of the impending invasion, but he might well be tracked and intercepted by the military en route.

Let’s say that the military takes the Giant’s warning seriously. How could they possibly defend themselves from giant alien robots? Why, with bigger, gianter robots of their own! Studying the Giant leads to the creation of the Archetype, the base model Megadeus. (A term for the most giantest of giant robots.) The Giant’s alien technology also enables advanced androids to exist in the 1960′s.

a horde of giant robots

Then, sometime in the 1960′s, the Other Giants land and are met by a horde of Megadeus… es. Megadeii? Whatever. The ferocity of the battle results in a nuclear winter scenario that makes the Cretaceous-Tertiary Event look like a gloomy day. And thus, “the sun stopped shining.”

With the Others defeated, the survivors build domes over remaining settlements, and start to build a Big Dome over at least one city, but construction is for some reason abandoned. The reason for this could well be related to the memory loss event.

Human nature being what it is, especially during the Cold War, the Megadeus pilots would probably splinter into factions and go to war with one another. Perhaps the only way to prevent humanity from ironically wiping itself out after defeating an alien invasion would be to erase some memories.

To prevent further wars, the remaining Megadeus units would be put to sleep, though one would always remain active to stand watch, in case the Others were to return.

Now, this still doesn’t explain the weirdness of the final episode, what with things vanishing into a strange luminous grid. I would like to interpret this as happening in Angel’s mind. As she questions the authenticity of her memories, she questions reality itself. The last thing she can deny is Roger Smith and his concern for her, and in accepting this fact, she returns to reality. Roger himself went through a similar identity crisis at the start of the season when his implanted memories began to surface. It was his android sidekick, Dorothy, who drew him back to reality by calling him Roger Smith. If that was Dorothy needed Roger to be, then that was who he would be.

Now you may be wondering where the Giant and Hogarth Hughes would have been during all this. Hogarth, though he lost his memory just as badly as everyone else, even forty years later, he still dreams of a smiling metal face. A face which still slumbers, far below the City of Amnesia.

Saturday Dance Party

“You can call a man to say what?”

Maybe I’m weird— actually, I’m fairly certain of that— but if you were to ask me what songs and music I most positively associated with this time of year, I wouldn’t name any of the usual Christmas carols. Instead, I might well name the most bizarre thing you could imagine.

I first stumbled upon “Prisencolinensinainciusol” a couple of years ago at about this time of year. It bounced around the inside of my head for the rest of the year. Eventually, I forgot the song, of course, until much later, when I found the post where I’d first shared it. And, just like that, it may as well have been winter 2009 again.

According to Wikipedia…

The song is deliberately meant to sound to its intended Italian audience like English spoken with an American accent, but the lyrics are actually pure gibberish, with the exception of the words “all right.” Celentano’s intention with the song was to explore communications barriers. “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did. So at a certain point, because I like American slang — which, for a singer, is much easier to sing than Italian — I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.”

“…All right!”


Happy Blogaversary. It was on this day in 2006 that I made the fateful step of launching this here blog. Why? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. If you read those early posts (and why would you?) you’d find that I fancied myself something of a mad scientist. And although the science stuff was soon proven to be rather shaky, one must admit that I’d quite easily nailed the “mad” bit.

How the world has changed since then! If you don’t recall, George Bush was still in office, the Global Financial Crisis hadn’t yet materialized, and Christopher Eccleston was The Doctor. At the time, I had just finished Computer Genius School and was looking for the legendary and oh-so-elusive Real Job. (That wouldn’t materialize for several more months.)

Blogging was a quirky hobby that was soon to approach its zenith of popularity. This was before Twitter caught on and when Facebook was just for college students. Heck, MySpace was still popular and thought by some to be a viable alternate route to a “real” Web Presence.

Back then, The Cloud was still a dream, and people still hosted websites in their offices, if not in their very living rooms. This was not even considered unusual, but was simply the way things were done. Back then, nobody cared about mobile accessibility. Most people still had flip phones that could barely display a full sentence on screen, let alone a properly-formatted page of HTML. Some people didn’t even have that. Some people not only had only a landline, but bragged about it.

I still read a lot back then. It seemed as though every day, I’d sit down for lunch with a good book (or at least, a book that I hoped would be good) and then again just before bed. Now? Not so much. It seems my phone is a lot more convenient to carry around, and Twitter makes just as fine of a distraction while I chew.

But while I may check on Twitter, I don’t particularly use Twitter. Yes, I may retweet the occasional thing that strikes me as witty, but original tweets? Very few. I’ve even neglected Instagram lately, and that’s pretty much a no-brainer: take a picture of something and press the share icon. I don’t think it’s social media fatigue, exactly, but rather a case of not finding anything interesting or original to say.

But… Inspiration seems to come in waves, so maybe that will change soon.

Hourly Comics Day

February 1 was Hourly Comics Day, in which artists are invited to draw a panel or a strip each hour they are awake. This is different from 24-Hour Comics Day, in which artists are invited to draw a 24 page book in a 24-hour span of time.

This did not work too well for me, unfortunately. I forgot that it was happening until noon, and then when I remembered, this happened…

Infinite Recursion

My Piece Of Junk

Last weekend, I found a divided wooden box with a handle at a thrift store. It was an unflattering gym-floor-yellow, and gave me the impression that it had been a woodshop project. I suspected that it could be made into something nicer. Something with an authentic old-fashioned finish and brass trim, perhaps.

I did some research and learned all about enough to be dangerous about staining, stripping, and refinishing furniture. So I stripped the gym-floor-yellow finish from the box, and that, at least, worked as it was supposed to. I’d selected a water-based stain in “black cherry,” as I’d been informed that water-based stains worked just as well as oil-based, but without the fumes. Fine. I then applied the stain, and that did not quite work as expected. I had been led to expect that a stain would soak at least somewhat into the wood rather than just coating it like paint. The recommended “light sanding” between coats was taking most of the “stain” off.

I’d rather began to regret not just using spray paint, but I felt I should see the process through before giving up. After another few stainings and days of drying, I applied a varnish. I thought I’d gotten an old-fashioned oil finish, but that was apparently just marketing at work. At least it didn’t look like plastic after it had dried.

Finally, I applied some vintage-looking paper to the back of the box, and then some brass trim pieces to the corners.

Improved Divided Wooden Box with Handle

Yes, it may still be a piece of junk, but now it’s my piece of junk.

On The Futility of Resolutons

Even though it’s now the second of January, and I am therefore a little bit late to the party, I’d like to take a moment to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. I avoid making them, except ironically. I, personally, find that a public resolution to do a thing is an excellent way to prevent me from accomplishing that thing.

For example, were I to resolve to write a New Year’s Day post the very next day, an accident might befall my poor computer.


Now I have the choice of replacing the screen or continuing to use an external monitor. The poor computer is kind of old and its battery’s not in good health, either, so external monitor it is.

The good news is that I was at least able to accomplish a post-Christmas de-tarting of the house, and began hanging pictures on the weak wall. The bad news with that is that there still are a number of craters in the drywall from the old shelf that are too low to be camouflaged with pictures. Surely, something will occur to me.

Revenge of the Santa

I had a bit of a nightmare this morning, complete with false awakenings. It took place in a titanic Chuck E. Cheese that was so big that it included an athletic center with a buffet. As I passed the buffet, a hidden panel in the wall slid open, and the sound of an evil voice emerged. I don’t remember what it said, but presently the owner stepped from the doorway. It was an evil Santa Claus encased in crystal, with a chainsaw for an arm. Its mission: to find and terminate everyone who believed in Santa Claus. It chased me into a huge restroom, like something from a Vegas casino, then I woke up. I breathed a sigh of relief, then heard the crystal Santa bellowing in my living room. Then I woke up again.

santa monster
“Detect! Discern! Destruct!”

Surely, there is an urgent message from my subconscious buried somewhere in there. And perhaps a lesson about having pork tacos too close to bedtime.