Archive for January, 2011

Crazy like a fox

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Did you guys see this?


ultraviolet sun

The Sun in ultraviolet light.

But don’t call her greedy. She promises to use the profits to end Spain’s public finance crisis.

Speaking to the online edition of Spain’s El Mundo newspaper, 49-year old Angeles Duran explained that she began exploring potential ownership in September, inspired by an American man who previously registered himself as the owner of the moon, and a number of planets in our solar system. After consulting with local officials in her hometown of Salvaterra do Miño, in Spain’s Galicia region, she discovered that although international agreements bar countries from claiming ownership of stars, they don’t stop individuals from doing so.

Duran isn’t exactly modest about becoming the sun’s first proprietor in 4.5 billion years.

“There was no snag. I backed my claim legally. I am not stupid. I know the law,” she said. “I did it but anyone else could have done it. It simply occurred to me first.”

Sun eruption

This is the sun erupting in 1973.

A document issued by her local notary public declares that Duran is now the “owner of the Sun, a star of spectral type G2, located in the center of the solar system, located at an average distance from Earth of about 149,600,000 kilometers.”

Duran hopes to charge everyone who uses the sun—from the owners of solar farms to sunbathers—a to-be-decided fee. She plans to give half of the revenue to the Spanish government, 20% to the country’s pension fund, 10% to research and 10% to ending world hunger. She’ll pocket the rest for herself.

“It is time to start doing things the right way,” she said. “If there is an idea for how to generate income and improve the economy and people’s well-being, why not do it?”

Oh man, I am not looking forward to that bill. Thanks to my sun-worshipping ways, I probably owe her big time. On the other hand, maybe I could sue for the weird moles that had to be taken off as suspected melanomas? Even after insurance, that was a $250 bill for the procedure and biopsies. And don’t forget the markup for ‘pain and suffering.’ One of those babies was on my hand!

At the same time,  if this claim to the sun holds up as legal and legitimate  (and I’m sure it can’t), then here comes my latest million-dollar idea.


Dark side of the sun

I just learned that in about a week (on February 6) NASA will have the first-ever 360 degree photos of the sun. Copernicus would be so proud...

In the Star Wars saga, George Lucas imagined a world where twin suns rose and fell in the horizon. Looks like his vision may not be so far-fetched.

Astrophysicists say that Betelgeuse, the red super-giant that is the ninth brightest star in the sky, is losing mass—an indication of gravitational collapse. Brad Carter, a senior lecturer of physics at the University of Southern Queensland, explained to that the star is essentially running out of the fuel at its core. “This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly,” he said. The subsequent explosion will appear tens of millions of times brighter than the sun, meaning 24-hours of light on Earth.

“It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up,” Carter said. “We’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”

And while the celestial event could take place before the end of 2012, it may not occur for a million years.

As you’d expect, plenty of folks interpret the impending supernova as a sign of the Apocalypse. (Coincidentally, the Mayan calendar predicts Armageddon in 2012, and the word “Betelgeuse” has strong associations with the devil.) But Carter dismisses the doomsayers, pointing out that the implosion will shower the earth with tiny particles called neutrinos that are absolutely harmless. “They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever.”

The sun

El sol, as we know it.

That does it. I’m registering Betelgeuse as my very own and charging the wazoo out of anyone that even says the word (let alone looks up into the well-lit night sky) over the two-week blitz. Michael Keaton had best not audition for any new work, as mere mention of my property is grounds for a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Betelgeuse was there long before anyone heard of Beetlejuice: I know my rights.

I think part of my claim will include the fact that that Betelgeuse is the only star I can accurately pick out of the night sky in any hemisphere due to the story I probably already told you about a collusion between my bad vision, childhood vanity, and the middle school with a planetarium in it.

Just don’t ask me to fly there and plant my flag to make my ownership official: we both know it’s a trick. By the time I get there, the imploded Betelgeuse will be long gone. Plus, it’s probably one of those trips where everyone I know will be dead by the time I get back. Granted, there are plenty of folks I won’t miss, but who will I talk about old Land of Lost episodes with if everyone who ever watched it is gone???

Lastly, I don’t know about you, but despite the associations with the end of the world and the devil, I’m kind of looking forward to the neutrino shower. Sounds cleansing. And fun; kind of Edward Scissorhands meets Tron.

As for the end of the world? End of the world, schmend of the world. Mark my words, as much as I’m down for a revolution, December 21, 2012 will be the same as any other day. As my grandma once put it: they’ve been saying that stuff for ever, and the world hasn’t ended yet.

So don’t go thinking you can shirk me out of what’s due. You take a neutrino shower, you owe me $19.99, payable via cash or charge. I don’t accept checks.

Why the low price? Well, because I’m reasonable, that’s why. There are seven billion people on the planet. No need to get greedy. Plus, I recognize that for those of you in third world countries, $19.99 is a months’ wage. In that case, I’m willing to take a yak or a handful of eggs or a rug or something. Don’t sweat it: we’ll work it out.

Enjoy your shower! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!!!

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Communications from the Other Side

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Why am I up at 5:15am?

And on a Sunday no less?

And why is Facebook suggesting I need laser hair removal? And a whopping $3000 worth? Who told them???

Did anyone else see that Facebook movie? The Social Network? I don’t get it. Maybe I was prejudiced going in (I knew I wasn’t going to like it, but I hoped maybe all the positive hype would prove me wrong) but I remain unimpressed. Is it that most movies are so dreadful these days that the mediocre is now considered brilliant filmmaking? The only movies I really like any more are documentaries. Did you see Exit Through the Gift Shop? That was good.

Now I don’t know about you, but I hear the name M. Night Shyamalan and I think “hot pile of steaming crap.” However, yesterday I read a review on Rotten Tomatoes that said “Holy mother of god: behold the first M Night Shyamalan-associated film in the last 4 years that doesn’t utterly blow.”  I really enjoyed The Sixth Sense (even though I figured out the surprise ending early on) so I specifically hunted down a Redbox containing “Devil” and watched it.

Counter movie review in short: Marc Fennell (if that’s your real name): I beg to differ. It did utterly blow. And it was obvious. And preachy. And tedious. Basically, it was like all his stuff except (blessedly) he didn’t cast himself in it (at least as far as I noticed). However, in the first five minutes I made a prediction as to who the devil was and how the stupid thing would end, and – of course – I was 100% right. (I know. I know. I’m nightmarish to go to the movies with.) They say it’s all been done before, and maybe they’re right. (Although I do have an idea I’m working on that I think is totally original. Time will tell…)

That scandalous new MTV “Skins” show is on: the one a bunch of advertisers pulled out of. So let’s see, wild party at a mansion. Now there’s a stupid reference to Edward Scissorhands and some non-relevant slutty behavior. I guess I’m too old to be titillated, but I still can’t help but wonder why Trojan isn’t all over this thing? That and some rehab centers.

Ghost Hunter M2

Don't waste your time.

So anyway, none of this has anything to do with the title of this blog, which is actually in reference to my brief fascination with these ghost hunting iPhone apps. Logically I was skeptical, but the person who introduced me to it was so freaked out (and convinced – to the degree that they wouldn’t turn it on in their own home) that I became vicariously convinced and totally freaked out.

Thus began a 36-hour whirlwind of tracking the location and communications of the ghosts all around me (often as many as three at a time). The EVPs are read out in a spooky monotone voice that only adds to the chill factor. I was hooked. I even started writing down the words on the screen so I could accurately understand the messages being sent from beyond. Here’s the first one ever (in sentence order, even though the words come one at a time and over several minutes)

Person hard rocky afternoon Charles animal anyway.

Holy crap! I have no idea what that means, but it was thrilling nonetheless. Then came the next revelation:

Eventually carbon glass Philadelphia India Roman highway

This made more sense: my dad had mentioned it had snowed so much in Philadelphia, they’d canceled the Eagles game. And I want to go to India. And I’d been watching the HBO Rome series on DVD. And eventually we ARE all carbon. Wow!

High on otherworldly euphoria, I even (stupidly) spent $.99 to download ANOTHER app – Ghost Hunter M2. This one would record the EVP sessions for me: much more practical.

First session? “Cat”

That’s it. “Cat.”

Not a real talker, that particular entity. Or maybe it was a cat? No one said ghosts have to be human.

INTERRUPTION ALERT: Oh man, now it’s “True Life: I’m Ex-Amish.” Screw sleep, it’s the secret skinny on the Amish, people! Fascinating stuff. I grew up with Amish all around, and all I can say is: too much church. Oh, and some mild hypocrisy at play as they have TVs and televisions and all kinds of modern stuff in their barns. So on the show, one of the people they’re profiling left the Amish and moved to New York City. Gutsy. One of them is still dating an Amish girl in full regalia and bonnet, which doesn’t really add up in my understanding of things. Maybe Witness changed the rules?

As for the EVPs, it was the ‘leave it and record it’ program that did me in. I left it running for almost an hour (12/26 from 19:21 to 20:08) and got:

Idaho ghost dress young fall catch always month Shawn cable start Timmy Raymond mass turn Christopher Ruben

There’s one word on this list that has meaning for me, but that’s it. One. Out of seventeen. Which is when I realized this is complete and total garbage and generating these stupid words all by itself. And the dots that represent ‘ghosts’? No doubt pre-programmed to randomly show up.

Oh, and then we ran two side-by-side. They should show the same ghosts, right?


And the same words?

Not even.

Nonetheless, for the believers out there, let me confirm and reassure you. Yes, there are ghosts:

  • at the coffee shop
  • on the airplane
  • in my car
  • on the beach
  • at the library
  • in the drug store parking lot

Here’s the session from the car: aloud Spain fierce forty cage

And the drug store parking lot: touch Mississippi represent Marty daughter Melva Pansy pickle Louie

And Stella (the coffee shop): fasten offer Lily Gwen help get Virginia


Here’s a session done right now with “Ghost Radar Classic” while typing this: effect (yellow ghost now to my left) product (now a green one sitting next to me on the couch)  came slow (blue one on top of me and a red one behind me) object ordinary although breathe

And now it’s fallen silent for five minutes and the ghosts are gone too. Probably flew down to the drug store for a while.

Unfortunately, before leaving, what they forgot to say was: go to bed now this is total nonsense.

And so it is, and so I will.

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Not the shoes with the chunky soles

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I need help with a platform, as in I need to come up with one: a good one.

It’s harder than it sounds.

I have a pair like this. They make me supermodel tall.

If it was the shoes, I’d be all set. With a nice pair of platforms, I can go from my barefoot 5’6″ to six feet tall just like that. Towering over everyone else, you may not even suspect it’s not my natural height unless you happened to glance down and see my kicks. I am that graceful on lady stilts. I once navigated a steep hillside in six inch platform sandals and didn’t so much as stumble. It’s one of my few natural talents, alongside getting my bra off from under my clothes with one hand and accurately shooting at a target with a 40 caliber Glock. (See? I told you I should have been a spy…)

Defining my focus as a blogger, however? Well, take a look around. Without the fodder of frenetic travel I am…um….well….yeah. Nowhere.

So to back up and explain, among others, I’ve been reading this book called GETTING KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL. It’s written by a mother and writer who got a book deal based on the content of her blog about being a mother and a writer. Owing to her relative success, her argument is that you need a following before you even consider getting published because those people who comprise the following are the ones who are going to buy your books. So basically you guys (for whom I am quite grateful, make no mistake), only a lot more of you.

Apparently, in order to do this, I need to hone down on who I am and what I write about and hone that further into a short sentence or a few words and I need to stick to those topics and somehow ‘create waves’ and pull the proverbial driftwood of the world onto my beach. You are the wood, I am the beach. You be the cat, I’ll be the mouse. You say goodbye, I’ll say hello. Hello, hello.

I don't know why, but nothing says 'stripper' like clear soles. The black shoes are hot. These are trampy. Reason? Clear soles. No further argument. Case closed.

Sounds easy enough, right?

That’s what I thought too.

I got started. I wrote down words like:

  • writing
  • traveling
  • finding (or making) meaning of one’s life
  • eating
  • bitching and moaning
  • owning (or being owned by) an incorrigible dog
  • spurts of spirituality or metaphysical mumbo jumbo
  • stories about nothing
  • making plans to move but never actually doing it

Sounds about right, right? Well, it turns out that’s WAY too many words and concepts: too unfocused. And it doesn’t get into my books. I’m supposed to include that too. It seems that what I write about in my fiction is apparently also part of the platform.

So what do I write about? Well, it’s always a pause point for me when asked, but essentially:

  • autobiographical anecdotes
  • the impending extinction of bees and related food crisis facing humanity
  • Transformation
  • Jesus
  • Aliens and visions of the Virgin Mary and other ‘out there’ improbabilities that fascinate me
  • relationships
  • personal crisis as a catalyst to metamorphosis and growth

So these things are not necessarily where I go on this blog and only make the already too long list even longer. And if that weren’t enough, apparently whatever my platform ultimately is needs to be “juicy”.

These are super cute.

I know. I balked too. And then I looked it up and only felt worse.

juicy |ˈjoōsē|

adjective ( juicier , juiciest )

(of food) full of juice; succulent : a juicy apple | a juicy steak.

• informal interestingly scandalous : juicy gossip.

• informal temptingly appealing : the promise of juicy returns.

The only way I can go scandalous is to start all over with an anonymous blog. I mean my PARENTS read this thing. And my aunt. And my friends. And my dad’s friends. And probably a priest or a nun or something. And there are pictures of me. And maybe someday I’ll want to be governor of Alaska. Or at least the mayor of something. Mayor McCheese. That’s a nice title. And, as I’m sure you can understand, I’m not willing to give up my dreams of being Mayor McCheese with self-confessed scandal. So back to the words we do have; the excessive list and the effort to pare it into an accurate and sufficiently exciting platform.

And then I gave up and took a nap.

six inch platform heels

Lady Gaga called: she wants her shoes back. Cruel and unusual...and freaky.

The author ended up with “Mama Blogger” and I’m thinking it might be easier to just borrow from her playbook and determine that my platfrom, henceforth, will be “Mama Pajama.” I don’t necessarily know what that means we’ll be talking about (Simon and Garfunkel? Me and Julio? Kodachrome?, radical priests? Newsweek?). Or maybe my new segue idea is even better: Queen of Corona.

I like Corona.

I prefer Pacifico, but it’s not as widely available as Corona. It’s something you learn to live with. It’s kind of like how I prefer Sapporo, but I’ll drink a Kirin if that’s what they have. Life is all about compromises.

And that brings me back to step one: defining my compromised ‘platform’.

So what do you think?

Writing and meaning making?
Meaning-making dog-enslaved writer?

Occasionally traveling and ditching her beloved dog but still trying to make meaning and craft something world-changing writer?

Mayor McCheese

I know what you're thinking: I don't have the bone structure to be Mayor McCheese, but I say you're wrong. They do amazing things with plastic surgery these days.

Occasionally traveling and ditching her beloved dog but still trying to make meaning and craft something world-changing out of barely disguised anecdotes from her spotted past and the random things that fascinate her writer?


It’s too long.

So maybe I just stick with the tag line I’ve had all along. The one about searching for meaning, humor, and money, maybe with more of a focus on meaning than the other two?

Did I tell you about how I recently read a proposition that that’s why we create: because we want to matter? The other thing the guy in that book (COACHING THE ARTIST WITHIN) said that struck me was that there is no meaning to life: you can’t sit around and wait for some person or cause or religion or organization or goal or job or relationship or blog or book deal or song or quote to give you meaning. You have to go out and make it for yourself.

So maybe that’s what we’re talking about here: mass delusional rationalization coupled with the occasional spark of hope that there’s a bigger point to it all and writing about all that and the few other things that hit the radar in between?

And maybe occasionally something about oysters.

So I’ll work on that, and – as always – try to be better about blogging. I have some things going on, it’s just hard for me sometimes to find the time and the energy to write and clarify it all for you. However, I suppose it’s not much of a platform if I don’t. So I will.

In the meantime, if you have any ideas about platforms (the shoes or the wooden kind you stand on or my own for this blog), feel free to share. Just remember that my dad is in the audience and try to keep it PG-13.

(and speaking of which, by strippers I mean the machines you rent when you refinish your wood floors. Naturally.)

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Things Can Only Get Better

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Welcome to 2011.

I hate to start things off referencing (even accidentally) mid-80s pop musician Howard Jones, but sometimes distasteful choices must be made. If, like me, you are the highly suggestible sort and will now spend all day singing “No One Is To Blame” then please accept my apologies in advance. You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat…

Anywho, and as the title suggests, I am optimistic for this new year to the degree that “it can’t get much worse.” Although I’m trying to be more power of positive thinking than that in articulation and presentation and overall attitude, truth be told, my mindset is more ‘buck up and knuckle down’ than ‘yippee.’

But maybe that’s 2010 talking?

2011 is the brave new world, without the caste system, but maybe in a sleep-learning kind of way.

Admittedly, my down mood (seriously kind of a year-long event now) has been hard on those who count on me for optimism. “You’re the one who always says it’s going to work out!” is the cry, and it’s a lot of pressure to be a cheerleader when your own team is on a losing streak. However, looking back at my entire life, I’ve always been the Queen of the Silver Lining (as opposed to the Silpstream), and I know I’ll soon hit my bounce. In fact, ironically – or not – I woke up on New Year’s morning with the words to an old Dar Williams song on my mind: “This is your year, and it all starts here, and oh, you’re aging well…”

And I believe it.

At least the aging part.

And I’ve made my list of goals (almost entirely professionally/writing related…but hey, focus on what you can control), and we’ll go from there. I have a new resolve and a willingness to work harder and broader and smarter than before, and I will try like hell not to look back on the disappointments of the last year as harbingers of the future. Part of process (whether it be creativity or life itself) is boredom and suffering and even despondency: it must be slogged through to get the ultimate results we want. Sometimes those qualities are an unavoidable part of getting to the finish line: they must be pushed through or even endured.

So perhaps they had it right: it is better to end than to mend and start anew. Take what we’ve learned and bet it all on a new plan. I have no idea whether or not that’s true, but let’s find out together, shall we?

Something tells me that’s the best option I’ve got…

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