Posts Tagged ‘funny storytelling’

This is beyond overdue

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

And yet, I still kind of have nothing of any real import to share, so here is a generic list o’ stuff in no particular order.

  • I have been writing the new book. It’s gone relatively smoothly minus the ever-present slight concern that where I’m taking things plot-wise is maybe too far or too slow or not quite perfect, but that’s the way it goes, I suppose. Today I will cross the 100-page mark, which is the clearest sign that an actual novel will come out of this in the end.
  • It’s cold as hell, and yet it’s as warm as it’s ever going to be for quite some time.
  • I’m another year older tomorrow, and yet I’m as young as I’m ever going to be…especially today.
  • My Sims2 have been neglected, but not forgotten…especially not on Saturday night. I’ve created a family based on myself and my dog, except they don’t have dogs in The Sims2, so he is represented by a young black child with white hair named Smelly. Smelly is a lot more useful than the real case study upon which he is based because he’s able to wash the dishes, do yard work, and order a pizza. Hmmm… Maybe I should look into adopting a young black child? Madonna and all them make it look so easy…

    Malamute in city

    Give him a kingdom to oversee, and he's happy.

  • I know it’s $2 or $3 or even $4 a cup, but lattes are so much better than any French press or drip coffee I make myself. And they don’t act as a colonic delivered via my mouth. One more reason I need to get rich…and soon.
  • In the same vein, I realize I’ve got to get my hands on a baby monkey, get it it to ride my dog (backwards being fine, if not preferable), have someone write a catchy and stupid tune to go with it, and become a YouTube sensation. He also does a great thing where he smashes his face against glass doors and rubs his tongue all over it. Hilarious stuff, that.
  • I love Top Chef but I don’t give a rat’s ass about Top Chef Just Desserts. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and TV is already overcrowded with people making ridiculous cakes and swords out of hard candy and copulating swans out of chocolate. Yawn.
  • I’m headed back  to the east side of the state in a couple days as a very good friend is getting married and then I’m off to Pennsylvania for a couple weeks to watch my dad’s kitty zoo while he’s on vacation. In theory, I will keep up my  book writing momentum, although I plan to do just a few pages tomorrow in honor of my bday and again on Thursday because (as I just told you if you were paying attention) I have to drive across the state and that takes a long ass time during which I cannot (unfortunately) write. Actually, in the spirit of accuracy, I COULD write during the drive, but I would likely also die in a fiery car crash for the effort.
  • The parade of Housewives never ends. I’m happy to report I disconnected from the DC wives and have no idea what happened or who they are or who’s insane, but I am ashamed to share that I did watch about 20 minutes of those godforsaken Atlanta Housewives. Damn it all to hell! And what did Kandi do to her hair with that red section on top? And does anyone else think Kim is a man in drag? And why didn’t Dwight take a single lesson from the plastic surgery mistakes of Michael Jackson???
  • Looking at the clock, it’s about time to go boil some water for some of that colon-cleansing coffee and get my write on.
  • I kind of want to go see that Jackass 3D movie. This is the same part of me talking that misses Crank Yankers and owns the Rob & Big DVDs. The part of me that’s a 12-year-old boy.
  • Having walked the dog and witnessed – and more often that not, picked up – his every bowel movement for three weeks, I can tell you two things definitively:
  1. Think twice before owning a 100-pound dog in a city. Not only will they yank your arm out of its socket over the sight of a Pomeranian in some lady’s arms two blocks away, but they make bigger dumps than those of a horse.
  2. Not all poop can be scooped. Case in point, the mess this morning looked shockingly akin to chocolate cake batter, and I didn’t even get a bag out and fake it for fear of getting too close. Besides, the flies were apparently given advance warning and started swarming in almost immediately. My new attitude toward certain poop scooping scenarios: I really don’t need tourists handing me Wet Ones baby wipes after I take a hit for the team; so watch your step, and wear rubber soled shoes. It’s a jungle out there, and my canine provides the quicksand.

Good luck,  happy sightseeing, and enjoy your smooth expensive coffee, you rich bastards.

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The Signs They Are a-Changin’

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

As you have likely observed, I have a long history of getting discouraged and then suddenly becoming optimistic again. I’m not sure why this is. It’s my own opinion that I have a quick bounce. Bounce – or at least my definition, for what it’s worth – is the time between emotionally hitting the ground and springing back up. Even with extremely tragic or outrageously unfair circumstances, I tend to bounce within a few hours. This is why, despite my arguable host of mental problems and questionable sanity from time to time, anti-depressants don’t really seem to be a prescription I need. Anti-psychotics on the other hand? Perhaps.

Beach Status Signs

Not this kind of sign.

Nonetheless and as I’ve mentioned, the last few weeks I have felt kind of panicked. In the simplest of terms, it’s a feeling of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? THIS IS YOUR LIFE!!!” and it’s a really lame and anxiety-causing sensation, especially because there’s no clear answer. On certain terms, I could argue with the Voice of Urgency that I’m doing the best I can – I’m working on a new book (thinking and planning more than writing at the moment, but that will come), I’m living my life, I’m thinking deep thoughts, I have clever ideas at least once a week, I’m mostly in a good mood, I use very few aerosol products anymore, and, by and large, I’m not hurting anybody (as far as I know). On the other hand – and recognizing that the Voice of Urgency comes from my head and, thus, is me in some fashion – I completely agree with it. Somehow, in ways I can’t quite pinpoint, I am wasting time and, by extension, my life.

Ouch.

That hurts.

That more than hurts. That f*cking sucks.

And then enter – stage right – the bounce.

Not this kind either. If this kind is even real. I'm not sure. Somehow I doubt it.

I have long had (and recently had reinforced) the feeling that if I just keep pushing and writing and working that I will eventually hit upon the idea and the plot and the “it”, and then the magical, mystical force that makes stuff turn out happily ever after will kick in and things will go my way forevermore. Just as suddenly, all the work I’ve done up to that point will become useful and relevant, if not sought after. I like this idea. I am buoyed by the hope that I have the talent and the tenacity, all I need is the bright idea and a little bit of star alignment.

This is probably why I was overly excited when my two – count ‘em, not just one but two – fortune cookie fortunes the other day were so optimistic. The first read “Don’t give up. The best is yet to come!” Not too shabby. If fortune cookies were guarantees, this beats the hell out of “You find beauty in ordinary things, do not lose this ability” or “Don’t forget, you are always on our minds.” That second one freaked me out. What? Who? Who’s “our”? A collective hive mind or all of your minds individually? And who are you again? And when you’re thinking about me, do you think good things or wish me well or are you have subtle urges to do me bodily harm? In other words, is this a benign threat of some kind? Seriously, who’s “our”?

I'm trying, I'm trying. The signs are harder to recognize - let alone know - than one might presume.

But not the other night. Those predictions were all good. That night I got two fortuitous predictions: “Don’t give up. The best is yet to come!” and “Your dearest wish will come true within the month!” Sweet.

True, there were only a few days eft in the month, and my dearest wish didn’t quite come to obvious fruition during that time, but maybe the seeds were sown? Or maybe they meant 30 days more than the literal month-end? I’m willing to keep an open mind and a hopeful heart. You never know, I suppose.

Meanwhile, if the fortunes weren’t enough, get this: I found a pearl in an oyster I was eating! I did. A Washington state Sunset Beach oyster grown in the Hood Canal. That has to be some kind of  omen of impending amazing luck, right?

Right???

Well, I say so anyway, and in trying to prove it, I came across the following statistics:

  • The odds of finding a pearl in an oyster are 10,000 to 1
  • Odds of getting a hole in one: 5,000 to 1
  • Odds of an American speaking Cherokee: 15,000 to 1
  • Odds of being struck by lightning: 576,000 to 1
  • Odds of being murdered: 18,000 to 1
  • Odds of getting away with murder: 2 to 1
  • Odds of being considered possessed by Satan: 7,000 to 1
  • Odds of being on plane with a drunken pilot: 117 to 1
  • Odds of writing a New York Times best seller: 220 to 1
  • Odds of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1
  • Odds of finding a four-leaf clover on first try: 10,000 to 1
  • Odds of winning an Academy Award: 11,500 to 1
  • Chance that Earth will experience a catastrophic collision with an asteroid in the next 100 years: 1 in 5,000
  • Chance of dying in such a collision: 1 in 20,000
Change for Homeless sign

I don't think this is real either. If it were, wouldn't they just ask for dollar bills and small bottles of liquor?

So there you have it: I am almost as likely to win an Academy Award or could be considered possessed by Satan one and a half times before I’d find a matching, misshapen pearl in another oyster, and I’d have better luck hitting TWO holes in one as the same occurring. Thus, I rest my case. I think the math makes it plain: this is a harbinger of imminent good fortune if ever there was.

So bring it on, lucky stars: unload a giant truck of the best and make my dearest dreams come true.

I’m ready already.

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Ash is a goddamned robot

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

So the following headline caught my eye this morning: The Challenge of Making Real Robot Skin, which in turn led pretty much immediately to a “come again?” moment.

So I went to the article, and it started to come clear…and then more or less tanked straight into WTF land. Why’s that? Well, just so you don’t feel left out, here are a few excerpts to catch you up:

I don't know what this is, but the 1.5mm skin kind of reminds me of cake. Mmmmmm...  Cake.

I don't know what this is, but the 1.5mm skin kind of reminds me of cake. Mmmmmm... Cake.

In a recent paper “Towards Humanlike Social Touch for Sociable Robotics,” John Cabibihan and his fellow scientists detailed the reasons for testing and developing realistic skin for social robots.

“Touch is important in social interactions. Social touch are all those instances in which people touch each other, when shaking hands, when giving a pat in the back as a sign of congratulations and even in high-fives. Yet, one should not easily assume that humans will be comfortable with the idea of shaking an artificial hand made from a stiff material. In addition to the appropriate controls for a safe handshake grip and other forms of social touch, humanlike skin softness would be a reasonable requirement for the sociable robots envisioned to directly interact with humans in a social setting. “

Human skin has properties that are not easy to replicate in synthetics. The authors created a skin testing machine to check out some of the current substitutes for human skin in robots – like silicone and polyurethane. Unfortunately, these simplistic skin substitutes were tested and found wanting; at present, there is no accepted substitute for the feeling of real human skin.

There have been a number of different attempts to produce more lifelike skin for robots, as well as skin that would properly feed sensation to the operator of the robot. There is, of course, one ideal solution to creating robot skin that is as human as possible. Recent work done at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft science institute in Germany has demonstrated that small swatches of actual human skin can be grown in petri dishes in a mass production facility.

It takes a lot of damage before you realize Arnold isn't actually a person, but a killing machine.

It takes a lot of damage before you realize Arnold isn't actually a person, but a killing machine.

Ummm…what?

Who is doing human skin-covered robot development?
And WHY????

Clearly I missed some kind of memo. What the hell kind of robot is this?

I’m okay with Roomba and his stinky cousin, Scooba and anything that comes over to clean my floors or dishes (but no touching the laundry. I love doing laundry. It’s the only chore where I would even consider use of the word ‘love’ in association.), but I’m not so sure how I feel about robots that I can’t tell are robots.

At least even the iRobot robots looked like robots, so once they turned bad you could tell them apart. And WALL-E. Clearly a robot, and fine by me…especially because he never decided to destroy the humans who created him, which is a plus.

As for the explanation on this bad idea, I’m not buying the whole ‘people don’t want to shake hands with a robot’ excuse, either.

I would shake hands with a robot.

I shake hands with my dog (which has, in turn, taught him to flog me when he wants something, and I’m ignoring him, but that’s another story for another day). And if a robot wanted to pat me on the back with a metallic pitchfork hand, I’d be okay with that (so long as it was gentle and not a robot beat down that punctured a lung or whatnot. Punctured lungs are no good.)

My point here is I think there are only two reasons that they would want to put real skin on a robot:

1. To trick us.

2. To make robot prostitutes (or sex slaves or whatever).

See? Nothing but a goddamned robot.

See? Nothing but a goddamned robot.

And I don’t like it one little bit. And I suspect the robots wouldn’t like it one little bit. And this is where things go wrong. You create something in order to dominate it and use it as a slave, but you made it too smart so it collaborates with the others of its kind and overthrows you and the next thing you know we’re all hanging out in liquid cocoons and powering The Matrix.

Right????

So can’t we at least learn from our popular culture? Life imitates art and whatnot?

For instance,  in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (The Phillip K. Dick classic known more commonly as the Harrison Ford movie Blader Runner)? Replicants – or ‘skin jobs’ as they’re not-so-ironically called – that think they’re human beings but later (and not exactly in the interest of their psychological health) find out they’re not.

Daryl Hannah as a 'basic pleasure model.' This gives me an idea for Halloween....

Daryl Hannah as a 'basic pleasure model.' This gives me an idea for Halloween....

Nobody likes to grow up thinking they’re real and find out they’re not. It’s an identity crisis in the making.

How about Alien? You know, where The Company secretly sends a robot as part of the crew to ensure that a heinous monster will make it back to earth safe and sound? And nobody knew he was a robot until he tried to kill Ripley and then all that white foamy stuff started oozing out of him.

You can’t trust those robots that look like people. You think they’re a regular, reasonable person…but they can be wired as total traitors just like that.

And speaking of treacherous behavior, who can forget The Terminator? Imagine if The Terminator would have at least had the decency to look like a killer robot. Things might have turned out differently for all the other Sarah Conners in the Los Angeles phone book.

In closing, let me go on the record as not liking this petri dish skin human-looking robot stuff. I don’t know what it is, but it ain’t good.

And in the words of Ash, ”I can’t lie to you about your chances, but you have my sympathy”.

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Five signs you might be living above your means

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

So I saw an article on Yahoo with this headline and followed it, hoping for some kind of awesome insight. Sadly, it was super boring and predictable. Mortgage is some gargantuan chunk of your income? Can’t pay your credit card bills? Duh.

It occurred to me that some of you may be living beyond your means and not even know it (and besides, since when does a 600 or less credit score mean you’re living beyond your means? It could just mean you’re a deadbeat or a total f-ck up or think repaying student loans is for chumps).

Regardless, I thought I’d offer some REAL tips to clue you in that maybe it’s time to cut back a little on the champagne wishes and caviar dreams.


1. Your revolving credit card balance is in the high-six or low-seven digits.

The key word here is REVOLVING. It’s one thing if you’re racking up the big bills every month and able to pay them in full, and it’s another thing if not.

(By the way, if you’re of the former group, could you shoot me an e-mail or buy me a beer or several hundred beers or whatever seems reasonable?)

2. You have a gold plated swimming pool with a custom mosaic of your face on the bottom…and you’re paying that off with your job as night manager of a Taco Bell.

Enough said.

I know I keep picking on him, but it's meant affectionately. Really. Probably.

I know I keep picking on him, but it's meant affectionately. Really. Probably.

3. You’ve turned your face into a sphinx, have a $50,000 a month pill habit, your own amusement park in your yard, and at least three doctors on permanent staff, one of whom puts you to ‘sleep’ with anesthesia.

Doesn’t sound so bad?
Did I mention you haven’t really had a hit album since like 1988?


4. You just chartered a private jet to Mustique for a week and got home to find your gas, cable, and electricity have been shut off.

Not judging. Just saying you might want to make sure you can cover the basics before you start sharing Mai Tais and tanning oil with David Bowie and Mick Jagger.

5. You’re on a first-name basis with your local repo-man.

Once again, enough said.


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The Tao of Travel

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I was actually going to call this the yin and yang of travel, but the Tao of Travel sounds so much more svelte, dontcha think?

I know you kids like pretty and irrelevant pictures. I'm just doing my part to keep you happy.

I know you kids like pretty and irrelevant pictures. I'm just doing my part to keep you happy.

I once had (and probably still have in a box somewhere) some book called the Tao of Pooh and then the Te of Piglet – they came together – that I swear I bought because the titles were so damn clever. But I never really read the original Winnie the Pooh stuff, so the point was kind of lost on me.

At least that’s my excuse. As much as I think it would be cool to be a deep and enlightened spiritual guru, I tend to find that kind of reading crazy boring.

Anywho, due to my posting snafu on Wednesday and my icky tummy on Thursday, I am now a bit behind in terms of timeline. In other words, here are my thoughts and reflections from my journey back to the USA, which technically happened a couple days ago, not that I’m CNN or something such that it actually matters that you get my news in a timely fashion.

Today is a four-flight day.

Four flights, in my humble opinion, are four flights too many. First off, flying always makes me feel slightly pukey. I have never actually thrown up on a plane, but I always like to do an equipment check when I first get into my seat and confirm that there is, indeed, a barf bag. One can never be too careful.

(more…)

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