Monday, November 20, 2017

Positrons Aplenty

I studied dialectical materialism in school, but I got low Marx.

Actually, today I was reading an article headlined: "Earth Is Getting Hit by Too Much Anti-Matter, And Nobody Knows Why"

That's what got me thinking about Mr. Marx's theory.

What does dialectical materialism
Say about anti-matter?
It’s a breach of catechism
That could make a theory shatter.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

DIY

Somebody got in trouble for this:



Police commented:

Here's a little advice to those aspiring to make their own license plates...
1. Don't.
2. But if you do, make sure not to use cardboard from a pizza box and magic markers.

Point number two points to a marketing opportunity:

There should be a program online
To print a convincing design.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Jelly Wants

I've been mentioning Emily Dickinson, and the other night I heart an indirect Dickinson joke on the sci-fi comedy-drama TV show, The Orville.

There's a green translucent blob character on the show, sort of a big slithering mint jelly with a mouth. And he's in love with the human doctor on the spaceship. She has been refusing his advances.

So, the other night he declares to her, "The jelly wants what the jelly wants." Someone already made a meme of it:



Now, the direct reference is to a Selena Gomez song, "The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants," with lyrics that include these lines:

“There’s a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants.”

And that's what gets us to Dickinson, to a letter, actually, not a poem:

"The Heart wants what it wants - or else it does not care -"

I'm not sure when this became a famous Dickinson quote. I took a college course once on Dickinson, and I don't recall discussing it. Of course, that was at the dawn of time.

Way back before the dawn of time,
I struggled to decode
A message wrapped in gentle rhyme,
But ready to explode.

Feline Mystery

Why do witches favor cats?
Is it to fight off vampire bats?
Is there in fact a running feud
Between them and that Dracula dude?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Belle of Amherst and a Local Review

Well, here's a Chicago Tribune theater review as summarized in one sub-headline:

"Kate Fry is a perfect Emily Dickinson in creaking 'Belle of Amherst'"

He heaps praise upon the actress. I saw her performance, and thought she was excellent.

But then he goes after the play itself, which is interesting. He thinks it's out of date in various ways.

"The piece lacks the deconstructionist complexity (and the recent academic contextualization) that audiences tend to seek out today."

But... how much do audiences really seek out academic contextualization? I imagine there's an audience for that, but that it's not really a big audience.

The play does put forth a certain interpretation of Dickinson. You can say the interpretation's out of date, but I'm not sure. She's one of those poets about whom we really don't know all that much. She remains veiled in mystery. A lot of academic interpretation is itself trendy, and is not really something new that we know.

I say, if you want academic contextualization of Emily Dickinson, go read some academic studies on the topic. But if you just want an enjoyable introduction, this play remains solid. It does a particularly good job of working her poetry right into the script.

I mean, really, she is a difficult poet for most people to get into. The fact that you can sit there and be comfortably introduced - while enjoying yourself - is remarkable.

Both the Trib reviewer, and another local reviewer, suggested that the theater company should have found a newer play about Dickinson.

But as for me,
I was glad to see
An old play well-performed,
That left my heart fully warmed.

Monday, November 13, 2017

No Baby Steps?

I just read a thoughtful piece about why it's hard to revitalize a lot of neighborhoods until they totally hit bottom.

The author pins the blame on all the rules and regulations that are often involved in fixing a place up:

'There’s no in-between. You either get permanent stagnation or massive redevelopment. Baby steps are essentially illegal. “Hold, wait, and do nothing” works for the little guy.'

I really appreciated this comment, pertaining to people who acquire a building and then abandon their initial project, once they find out how expensive it will be to do all the mandated extras:

'I’ve heard many officials and professionals get very derisive in their assessment of such efforts. “Oh, they were idiots. They didn’t do their homework before they started their project. What? They thought they could just do whatever they want with the place? There are rules you know.” These are precisely the same individuals who butter their bread each day with impact fees and billable hours. They have no skin in the game.'

When a neighborhood erodes
Examine the building codes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Space Cat Graduation Chicago

Today's festival performance had a good sized audience laughing uproariously, which made me a happy camper indeed.

With drama, you want to the hushed silence of the audience hanging on every word.

With comedy, you want to hear some yukking.



The silly saga of kitties in space
Marches willy-nilly apace!

Spartan

I rewatched Spartan last night. It's an old thriller, starring Val Kilmer, written and directed by David Mamet. The story involves what we used to call white slavery - the abduction and selling of young women for sexual purposes. In this case, it involved kidnapping a young woman in Boston for the purpose of selling her in Dubai.

I've always wondered about the popularity of these story lines, because my impression is that there's a lot less of this sort of thing in real life than there is in the movies. In one way, that's not unusual. Movie crime rates do not reflect real life crime rates. Movies are full of criminal geniuses. Real life is full of criminal idiots. Criminal geniuses make for more interesting stories - partly because the idea of a criminal genius scares us. If there were a lot of criminal geniuses, would we every catch them? What if there ARE a lot of criminal geniuses, but in real life they just DON'T GET CAUGHT?

So, back to sex slaves, it occurred to me while watching that maybe Hollywood is attracted to this story line because there's so much "sexual exploitation" in real life in Hollywood. I put it in quotes because it's one of those phrases that can mean almost anything, but the daily accusations rolling out of Tinsel Town lately are anything but pretty. Maybe it's a way of dramatizing a situation the script writers know all too well - beautiful young people being lured into a world of dashed dreams.

By the way, the movie is mostly not about that. Retrieving the kidnapped girl is the "McGuffin", but it's more of a movie about tough guy maleness in the face of political betrayal.

The name of the movie seems to arise from this exchange between our hero and the young woman:

Scott: "One riot, one Ranger." You ever heard that?
Laura: Leonidas, King of Sparta... when a neighboring state would plead for military aid, would send one man.
Scott: Well, there you go.
Laura: You ever hear that?
Scott: No. I think we went to different schools.

The hero's kind of a working class snob
Who's very good at his job.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Unlikely

I cannot remember the words, but I was reading an old paperback detective novel set in Chicago, and the Obamas came up as witnesses of some kind. I found it hard to believe and tried to reread the sentence.

I was dreaming. A non-lucid dream, as usual. The closest thing to lucidity was when I found it hard to believe. I do find that the "jarring thing I found hard to understand" is what I often remember about a dream. Maybe it's just that my dreams are chock full of such jarring things.

Maybe, in my dreams,
I'm constantly wondering how surprising
Everything seems
While rarely recognizing
That I am deep
Asleep.