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Archive for the month “September, 2013”

DOCTOR WHO NIGHT

So, I got a gift recently.

Indulgence.

I talk about “Doctor Who” a lot. On the blog. On Twitter. And around the house. The kids are pretty young and have pretty much no interest yet. My wife, though, has had to listen to me for more than a decade waxing eloquently about the madman in the blue box putting right the wrongs of the universe. I’ve told her about Daleks and the TARDIS. I’ve explained how time is just a big ball of timey-wimey stuff and how regeneration works.

She’s heard it all. And I’m pretty confident saying after hearing all this, she’s…

Well, she’s pretty indifferent to it actually.

BUT…

She does have a generous spirit. So, recently she offered me, unprompted, an opportunity too good to pass up.

DOCTOR WHO NIGHT.

A whole Doctor Who themed meal AND she would voluntarily sit through a Doctor Who episode of my choice. I don’t think she’s ever done that before. (She says she has, but I’m sure, much like the moon landing or the birth of our children, I would remember this.)

So, what did we have? Well, I have to give a shout-out to Dining With the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland.

That was the book that gave the recipe for “New Earth Apple Grass Cocktail”, a drink inspired by the second episode of season 2 of new era Who where Rose and the Doctor visit New New New New New New New New New New New New York. The link is a little iffy – the drink is supposed to invoke the lovely green grass Rose sees on her first time travelling trip. Otherwise, there’s not much of a link to the events of the show.

Damn tasty beverage though. As it should be. Apple juice, lemon-lime soda, blue curacao, peach schnapps, vodka, a lime wedge and ice all play together very nicely. Very nicely, indeed.

I’m thirsty now.

Dining with the Doctor also gave me the recipe for “Weeping Angel Wings”, which are baked (to make them marginally healthier) chicken wings, coated in flour, butter, hot sauce, salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper. They were excellent. Even better, the wings had a direct link to the night’s Doctor Who episode: season 3, episode 11, titled “Blink”, which some Whovians have rightly called not just an excellent episode of Who, but one of the best bits of sci-fi ever. The episode introduces a new villain called “the weeping angels”, hence we had chicken wings for dinner.

Nerds are clever, no?

Dessert didn’t come from the cookbook, but was so good, we almost didn’t need dinner. We had red velvet cupcakes dyed TARDIS blue with cream cheese frosting and blue sugar sprinkles.

So we watched this awesome sci-fi event. And my wife’s conclusion: “It was okay.”

YES! SCORE! NAILED IT!

Well, she watched anyway. And even stayed awake.

It was a nice, high-calorie, geeky evening. More than that, it was a chance, for one night, to share something really important to me with someone else. Even if she never watches another episode (and, seriously, she probably won’t), we had that one evening when she embraced her inner geek.

And I appreciate that.

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THE PAPERLESS BREAKFAST CLUB

John Hughes’ iconic shout-out to 1980’s Chicago teen angst, “The Breakfast Club”, would be a very different movie if it was set in 2013; especially 2013 in White Plains, New York.

That’s because Archbishop Stepinac High School just went paperless. The school is one of the first in the country to dump all the textbooks in favor of digital works.

Call me old-fashioned, as evidenced by the trail of crumpled up paper scraps where I keep my notes – then pile them on top of the computer and iPad, but I’m not sure I like this development.

If you take the paper out of schools, so much of the school experience will be lost. And I don’t just mean paper cuts, though those are nice.

No more spitballs hurled at the substitute teacher.

No paper airplane contests in study hall.

Whole segments of teen culture just wadded up and tossed in the recycling bin. Well, near the recycling bin….okay, not anywhere the thing. My aim sucks.

Then there’s “The Breakfast Club”. How much would be lost if Shermer High School had gone paperless? Unlikely, sure, as computers back then, in 1984 were pretty much good for playing “Oregon Trail” and allowing Matthew Broderick to hack into national defense systems, but not much else.

But if Shermer was paperless, it would be a very different movie. No Mr. Vernon with a toilet seat cover hanging out of his pants.

How would Bender smoke his doobies without paper for rolling? (Sorry if my hip street lingo is stunning you with my awesomeness)

On the upside, Allison’s lovely “winter scene” on the table top will still be in the movie. You film buffs who remember what this was are, um, head & shoulders above the average film fan.

And, of course, the final scene with Vernon reading the letter Brian writes defying him to pin labels on the kids – the brain, the criminal, the athlete, the basket case and the princess – would play totally different if, instead of standing alone in the library with the handwritten letter on college-ruled, white notepaper, Vernon had to read the letter by calling it up on an old Apple IIe computer. He’d just get past the part about not having right to drag them all in on a Saturday, would be just about to “You see us as you want to -” SONOFABITCH! Computer crash.

Roll credits.

Save our cinema. Save paper.

Do it for the kids.

SPECIAL REPORT: EVERYTHING WANTS TO KILL YOU

What’s the point?

Why even risk walking out the front door?

Everything wants to kill you.

Louisiana is warning residents about a brain eating amoeba called naegleria fowleri . Specifically what they’re saying is, don’t get water in your nose, but, hey, it’s cool if you drink it. Probably. The amoeba travel through the nose to your brain.

But, um, isn’t the mouth connected there too? Oh, well, drink up, Louisiana.

Recently, here on the blog we reported how scientists have concluded that people with chocolate allergies are really reacting to cockroach parts in the chocolate, not the chocolate itself.

Pesticides in food give us cancer. Also plastic, cigarettes, and the sun.

Our food gives us heart attacks too. Beef. Cheese. French fries. Deep fried Snickers (that one totally caught me by surprise).

Medications come with a list of side effects so long and comprehensive, it must have been written by lawyers.

Reported cases of nut, wheat and other allergies continue to rise.

Caffeinated drinks are available everywhere, even though caffeine totally messes with your heart rate. Also, fructose corn syrup is the nutritional equivalent of the Crips and the Bloods from West Side Story.

Every other driver on the road is texting while driving. Or blogging. (My bad, dude in the blue minivan.)

Oh and terrorists . There’s lots of those.

From the time you walk out of the womb (What? How’d you come out?) something, somewhere is looking to do you in. The older you get, the more likely that thing is to succeed.

All right then. Have a great day!

I MISS FISH

I haven’t had a fish fry in a long time.

I don’t mean picking up Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks at the grocery store and nuking them.

I mean, go catch a fish, clean it, get some good ingredients and fry it up. Some fries on the side, maybe some beans and some crusty bread.

Yum.

Been a long time…

I miss summer vacation. I don’t mean “summer vacations” where you take your paid time off from work and haul the kids to Disneyland. I mean, being a kid and having an entire summer with NOTHING to do. I wish I realized then the promise and the potential in having an entire three months ahead of you with no responsibilities other than to live life. I would have made better use of my time.

I miss “The Tonight Show”. Not the Jay Leno Show, the classic Johnny Carson Tonight Show, back in an era when a late night talk show was unique, a television event.

I miss having the time and focus to learn and master video games, without the guilt of having spent that time to do it.

I miss cartoons at the movies. I’m not old enough to remember news reels and a LOT of cartoons before the main feature, but I do remember, sort of, being dropped off at the movies as a kid alone or with friends (imagine doing that now) and seeing, before the feature, a Woody Woodpecker or something.

This is just the sort of stuff I think about.

THERE GOES MY SATURDAY

So, I read this recently.

Turns out physics is not your friend when it comes to tipping cows in the meadow, or anywhere else. Except two-for-one-night at the local pub. Those cows can’t hold their liquor worth anything. The scientists say cows are just too damn heavy and cows are too wary to let you get that close. (They don’t really sleep standing up. I do though. I sleep-write too. ZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Cheeseburger-boobies. ZZZZZZZZZZ.)

Anywhere, where was I?

In other disappointing animal revelations, we here at Blog-Zoology labs have concluded after exhaustive study that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The only problem is it’s hard to find a bunny that will come out of a magician’s hat on a dog’s command.

You CAN herd cats. But you have to know the secret code word.

*Antidisestablishmentarianism*

*Which is also the longest word in the English language*

*Look it up*

*I’ll wait*

You can lead a horse to water and you CAN make him drink. BUT thoroughbreds will only drink with this spiral-ly silly straws kids drink chocolate milk with*.

*So do I*

It’s true that elephants never forget. Never.

EVER.

You’d do well to remember that.

You can shove a camel through the eye of a needle, but they don’t like it very much.

Suck it up, camels.

POOP – IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER

The Asian Palm Civet from southeast Asia…

What? Oh. Hold on, here’s one:

Asian Palm Civet

(Thanks, Wikipedia)

Anyway, the Asian Palm Civet pick ripe coffee cherries, eat the fruit, and crap out the coffee beans. The beans are collected, cleaned (we hope) and sold in stores.

Fill it to the rim…with poo.

Scientists are discovering that many people who are allergic to chocolate, might not actually be allergic to the chocolate in the chocolate, but rather the COCKROACH PARTS in the chocolate. An average eight insect parts are found in the typical chocolate part and the FDA is totally cool with that. Allergy sufferers are not.

And hot dogs…well, we don’t have room in this post to detail the crimes against humanity perpetrated by hot dogs.

The point is, food is disgusting.

We should embrace that.

Instead of Food Network, let’s launch OHMIGOD! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SHIT!?!?!? Network.

But only if Alton Brown gets a show on our new network.

Alton Brown is the bomb.

Of course, you can’t say things are “the bomb” anymore because it sounds terrorist-y.

Also, it’s stupid.

Anyway, what were we talking about?

Right, food makes us sick.

You know how sometimes they call tapioca “fish eyes in glue”? Actually, I don’t know if “they” do that, but I know I saw it in a “Dennis the Menace” cartoon when I was a kid. Well, why not just serve up big bowls of fish eyes in glue? Not real glue, of course. Some sort of flour/water thing. The fish eyes have to be real of course. We’re not crazy.

At Halloween, kids like to serve up cold spaghetti and call it “brains.” Peeled grapes that feel like eyeballs. Well, I say, why go half-assed?

Happy Halloween! It’s for the kids. Come on, grow a pair!

That reminds me, way more restaurants should put Rocky Mountain oysters on the menu.

Whut

Yep. Bull calf testicles. You can use sheep or pig, of course, if you’re a weenie (har!), but for my money, bull calf is where it’s at.

While we’re at it, let’s find some other balls to put on menus. The more animal privates on my plate, the better, I say.

And bugs! Lots of bugs. Chocolate covered! Mustard covered! Bug-covered bugs. Worm covered bugs.

So, how about gastronomes of the grotesque? What would you like to see on your menu from Hell?

BON VOYAGER, CHARLIE BROWN!

Last week, NASA, formerly the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, but lately more ADMINISTRATION than SPACE, managed to make good history in space right up there with faking the 1969 moon landing.

Voyager, the satellite launched in 1977 became last week the first man-made object to travel beyond our own solar system. NASA punched another hole in Orion’s Belt. Pass the asteroid gravy, please.

It’s all interstellar downhill from here, right?

I hope so. This is the part where I was going to write a bunch of witty stuff about all the wackiness Voyager could find in interstellar space. Hell, “Star Trek” appropriated the whole Voyager excitement for the first voyage of the Enterprise on the big screen – “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (notable for bald women, “the Kirk unit”, lots of talk about V’ger, and Spock making out with the Voyager probe. Or something like that.)

But I can’t really think of anything funny to say. It is cool that out there right now, as I write this, the little probe that could is soaring through space. Right now, there are electronics and, I dunno, steel and plastic and glass and maybe a little spit and baling wire touched by human hands now touching hitherto unknown parts of space.

You can tell I’m impressed by all this since I’m using words like “hitherto” un-ironically.

Untold millions watched the 1969 moon landing live on TV. We haven’t gone back since. (Hollywood could take a lesson from NASA’s distaste for sequels.) We don’t even have a space shuttle anymore.

I get that America is broke. I get that there are a ton of expensive worthwhile needs for whatever dollars we do have.

But…there’s something to be said for discovery and the spirit and determination it takes to foster discovery. Maybe we don’t find alien life or some stunning space phenomenon, but maybe the quest keeps our thirst for knowledge alive. And then we can start working on some of these other problems – education and poverty and all the rest.

And if Voyager does find something out there? Well, that’s just a bonus.

SEE YA, SUCKERS

This is my last blog post.

I’ve enjoyed the blog. I really have. The chance to vent. The chance to laugh. The copious shipments of undergarments from my number one fan Kate Upton.

Recently, I got an email that changed my life.

No, not the male enhancement email.

No, not the one from the Nigerian prince.

No, not the one from the enhanced male prince. (I swear I don’t know how THAT site ended up in my browser.)

MY email was the digital equivalent of my ship coming in because, you see, I’M ABOUT TO GET RICH!

Here’s a portion of the email I got:

We’re pleased to tell you that you are eligible for gift certificate credits thanks to recent legal settlements between States Attorneys General, Class and two eBook publishers. Barnes & Noble was not a party to the settlements but as a NOOK® customer, you can take advantage of the benefits agreed to by the settling publishers.

If you already received a previous notice regarding three similar settlements, you are receiving this letter because you are eligible for more gift certificate credits now if the Court gives final approval to the additional settlements with eBook publishers, Penguin and Macmillan.

There is nothing you need to do to receive the credits. If the Court grants final approval you will receive credits automatically in the form of an electronic gift certificate sent via email. Once the settlements’ claim period ends, the Attorneys General will calculate the amount of your credits.

First thing, I’m gonna do is gold plate my toilet. How will I do that with a gift card to Barnes & Noble? Well, if you were rich like me, you’d know.

My favorite part of this is that to cash in on my big windfall, I don’t have to do a damn thing. Free money! That’s what we’re all about in America, isn’t it? Well, that and French fries?

So, here’s me signing off. It’s been real. I’ll miss you. But don’t worry, I’ll still be around. Sort of. Some of my millions will go toward erecting statues in my likeness in every Starbucks in the country. You may honor me with offerings of mocha.

GOLD mocha, that is.

Farewell. (*Blows sloppy wet kisses*)

WHEN THE TRUTH SHOWED UP OUT THERE

Twenty years ago today, September 20, 2013, the truth showed up.

And the truth has been out there ever since.

On that date in 1993, The X-Files made its TV debut on Fox. The series chronicled the efforts of FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovny, to prove the existence of extra-terrestrials and, in the process, find his sister who was abducted by aliens when they were both kids. Each episode featured an unsolved case or “x-file” to unravel that either centered on a monster of the week or on something related to the overarching mythology of the series – that a shadow group within the government – headed by the mysterious “Cigarette Smoking Man” – was conspiring to conceal the existence of extra-terrestrials.

Initially, agent Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, a medical doctor by training, was assigned to partner with Mulder mostly for purposes of keeping an eye on him and debunk his crazy theories. Her rational, scientific approach was a counterbalance to Mulder’s impulsive, jump to the paranormal explanation. As time went on, the more she saw, Scully science-based outlook was increasingly at odds with her faith and with all the weirdness she and Mulder saw.

I didn’t watch The X-Files from the beginning. Not many people did. It was a cult hit a long time before it was a mainstream TV event. The first episode I saw was the twenty-third of the twenty-four episodes in the first season. The episode was called “Roland” and the plot involved Mulder and Scully involving the mysterious deaths of scientists at a research facility where the primary suspect is a mentally challenged janitor (“Roland”) who by all appearances would be incapable of carrying out the murders as they happened.

*SPOILER ALERT* After much head-scratching, Mulder and Scully discover that one of the dead scientists was actually Roland’s twin brother and that his body is being cryogenically preserved. They conclude that Roland is being controlled by the brain of the dead scientist. The dead guy is trying to get revenge on the living scientists who stole his work. Mulder and Scully stop Roland from killing one of the scientists and send him to a mental facility, apparently free of his dead twin’s control.

So, I watched this thing. I nodded and thought, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever saw.”

I didn’t watch the show again until maybe the third or fourth season. The show was really big by then and I decided maybe I’d give it another shot. The episode I flipped on was the one where Scully finds out she has cancer and it’s somehow related to a mysterious implant that was removed from her neck and sets off all the bells and whistles on a grocery store checkout scanner. I don’t remember much else about the episode, but I remember this:

I WAS HOOKED.

You couldn’t get DVDs of the show or stream reruns on the Internet at that time. Fortunately, the FX channel was new at the time, it’s primetime lineup consisting mostly of reruns of other network shows and it ran two episodes of the X-Files in primetime, five nights a week. It didn’t take long to get caught up and piece together the elements of the mythology arc.

I don’t know what exactly I saw in this show. I identified with Mulder more than Scully. He was a principled, open-minded loner. And the creatures were cool. And weird. The show could be incredibly moving and incredibly funny.

It was everything I wanted at the time.

Between seasons five and six, when the show was at its peak, it leapt to the big screen in “X-Files: Fight the Future”. I saw the movie with a mixed group of people: a diehard fan like me, a couple casual fans and a couple who barely knew what the show was. Everyone generally enjoyed the film, though my fellow diehard and I were left feeling like, “It was good. I don’t know what I expected, but that wasn’t quite it.” But that didn’t stop us watching the show.

The show finally ended after nine seasons (honestly, at least one season, maybe two seasons, too late). It was expected a series of films would follow, continuing the mythology story. To date, though, only one more film, X-Files: I Want to Believe, has appeared, in 2008. The film was…well, it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t great, honestly. (Though I’ve since watched it at home on DVD and found it to be very satisfying.) It was widely hoped another film would appear in 2012 to play out the predicted alien colonization of Earth that was to occur that year according to the series’ mythology backstory. That didn’t happen though. The generally poor reviews of “I Want to Believe” scuttled that hope probably.

But here’s to you “X-Files” creator Chris Carter. Good, bad or mediocre, there was not a single episode (Well, maybe “Roland”) or film that made me doubt that what you brought to TV was special, never to be duplicated.

BANNED

Recently, Alabama Republican state senator Bill Holtzclaw has been leading the charge to have The Bluest Eye, a 1970 novel by Toni Morrison, banned from schools in the state. This despite the fact that the book has been on high school reading lists across the country.

Why does he want to do this?

Well, full disclosure, I haven’t read the book. I gather, though, that it does have some pretty graphic scenes of pedophilia, incest, and rape. Schools have banned it in the past.

And I get why the temptation is there, I guess. These are awful subjects. These are things I wouldn’t be thrilled to have my kid read about.

But…

such horrible acts do occur in the real world. And everyone needs to be aware of that. I would much rather my kid be exposed to “taboo” subjects in an educational setting where the horrors can be debated, discussed and dissected, rather than experiencing them in some late night cable movie with no context and no adult supervision.

And I think it’s safe to say Toni Morrison wasn’t writing some sort of fetish porn. She wrote a novel where unpleasant things happen. Really unpleasant things. That’s life. Teenagers tend to live in a bubble where nothing, they think, can hurt them, where nothing is beyond their control. I don’t want my kid to be scared of the world, but I don’t want her to know there are scary things in it. A book is a good way to do it.

Not everyone agrees with that, of course. Their reaction to things they don’t like is to lash out at them. Gay people make us uncomfortable? Outlaw them. Decades of science supporting evolution conflicts with religion? Throw out the textbooks. The books teachers assign our kids have concepts in them we don’t like? Ban them.

Back in the day, I was a reporter for my college newspaper. One of my “beats” was the local school district. A local family caused a minor media storm when they asked that a series of children’s picture books about a family called “The Stupids” be banned. The books had the mom, dad and kids doing silly things: wearing goldfish bowls on their heads like hats, wearing pajamas to work, things like that. The volume in the series that really riled up this particular family was when the The Stupids gave their kids rewards for getting ‘F’s in school instead of ‘A’s.

The call to ban failed, of course. The fatal flaw in this particular call to ban was that the problem wasn’t the books were warping children, but that these parents just didn’t think they were funny. That’s cool. Not everyone has to think a book is funny. Or that the subject matter is something they want to read. That’s fine. To each her own. Big deal.

But when you try to decide those things for everyone else, that’s where problems come in. Who decided you get to make my reading decisions for me?

Also, by the time you decide something needs to be banned, a whole lot of people have already read it. And you can’t make them un-read it. And then other people are going to see that, hey, those people who read it didn’t spontaneously combust. So those people will read it too. And then, when your ban goes public, other people who didn’t give a shit about the book to begin with will go out and read it just to see what all the fuss is about.

You’ll be exhausted, hoarse from screaming into the void about the evils of the printed word. But the world just goes on a-spinnin’.

So, Senator Holtzclaw, please put your energy somewhere else. Please.

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