Jul 11

Not Clear at All

Not much inspiration today, I’m afraid. I’ve been sitting here reading various Internet flotsam, eating Boulder Canyon Parmesan and Garlic potato chips and drinking Dr. Pepper Cherry. All to no avail.

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Not even Lafayette could bring forth the snark today. It’s that bad.

I suppose I’m entitled to skip a day, especially considering the marathon posts of the previous two. But no! I must sally forth! So today, I’ll focus on upcoming events.

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Apr 09

State of the Blog

It’s gonna be a short, choppy post today. My synapses are firing about as poorly as a Cobra Commander-led offensive.

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That is, even worse than a Star Wars battle.

I recently gave SB more search engine analysis apart from what WordPress graciously provides us bloggers. According to the fine folks at Alexa, SB is currently the 14,924,888th most popular site on the Internet. You know I’m humming the theme from The Jeffersons upon receiving that news.

Yesterday’s experiment left me wiped out. I used to recover quicker than this, but I also used to be in my 20s. Only 18 views as of 8:45 pm Command Center time today? That’s bad even for this silly-ass site. I guess y’all want to take a nap too. Well, except those of you looking for “gr8tits2play,” which is still by far this site’s most popular search engine query:

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She ain’t here! She ain’t anywhere! Damn ….
Image credit: Don Hitchcock

The Idaho state song occasionally produces hits. Until today I thought this was the most pointless site on the Internet to mention “Here We Have Idaho.” I was wrong.

At least the History Wednesday feature snags some intelligent queries. Be sure to come back tomorrow for this week’s installment. It will be a good one.

So, um … that’s it for today. Oh yeah, I’ll shamelessly mention “gr8tits2play” one more time to get that sweet, sweet SEO traffic.

Mar 19

That Giant Sucking Sound

Back in 1992, part-time presidential candidate and full-time lunatic Ross Perot coined the term “giant sucking sound.” He originally used it to criticize the then-proposed NAFTA treaty. Later politicians also used it to play up the “jobs lost” bogeyman. Admittedly, in that context it really doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for me around here.

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“Our jobs are secure. Now piss off.”

Nevertheless, it’s still a good phrase. It’s also one of the few notable things conceived during Perot’s presidential runs which didn’t involve pie graphs and/or batshit conspiracy theories. For me, the “giant sucking sound” is what I often hear in the back of my mind when I’m writing. It’s a thought along the lines of, “Hoo boy. I’m really posting a turd to the Internet today!” I’m having that thought right now, actually.

Yet one person’s manure is often another person’s manna. Regardless of what kind of artist you are – be it a painter, actor, musician, or a writer like myself – you fancy some of your works are much more awesome than others. However, what you think is good and what others think is good are often two different things. The same holds for one’s perception of crap.

Here’s a case in point. The late Alec Guinness thought of himself as an old-school English stage actor of the highest caliber, on par with his contemporary Laurence Olivier and with Patrick Stewart later on. Indeed, like Olivier and Stewart his Shakespearean chops were indisputably world-class. However, most of you out there know him for this role:

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“It’ll be just like Connery in Zardoz. No one will remember this.”
Image credit: williampcoleman

At best, Guinness viewed the Obi-Wan Kenobi role as a late-career afterthought and a retirement hedge. Indeed, thanks to some shrewd negotiating he made a ton of money off of it. But once it became apparent many would remember him from his Star Wars appearances more than anything else he ignored the subject as much as he possibly could, even going so far as to throw away Star Wars fan mail unopened.

Something like this happened to me, albeit on a much smaller scale. For a few years in the mid-90s I was on the staff of the Bengal, the student newspaper at Idaho State University. I started out as an op-ed writer and remained in that capacity throughout my tenure there. That’s how I saw my role there. Oh yeah, I also wrote some straight news stories, mainly for shits and giggles.

One day in 1995 I was informed I won first place in a regional college newspaper newswriting competition. This came as a complete surprise because (1) I wasn’t aware I entered a competition in the first place and, (2) the article I won for I found banal and pedestrian at best. I don’t recall exactly what it was about, but it had something to do with proposed fee increases, something dry and boring like that. To this day I’m somewhat bemused by the experience.

Mind you, I don’t try to write garbage on purpose. Well, not usually. However, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I gave up all attempts at humor, intellect and integrity, and wrote entirely for the lowest common denominator. I could totally pump out dreck for the Oprah-addled masses if I wanted. I imagine the result would be akin a mashup of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and the Twilight series.

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Illustrated by the undead Thomas Kinkade, of course.
Image credit: ojimbo

Ultimately I’ve learned over the years to discount the giant sucking sound, at least to an extent. It’s often completely wrong anyway.

Mar 14

The Indifference Strikes Back

“A blog entry every day, no matter what.” I swear sometimes I’m such a bitch to myself.

“And make it funny, dammit!” Yeah, yeah, yeah …. This is easier said than done when one is battling bipolar depression, insomnia and cats who want to sit on one’s face at three in the morning.

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Yes, I’m looking at you, Sneferu.

Today I’ve been thinking about the benefits of carbonite as depicted in the Star Wars series. For the benefit of the three of you who have never heard of Star Wars, it’s a series of science fiction films involving good guys, bad guys, terrible laser gun shooting, something called the Force, curious swordplay, and of course explosions and shit. As a four-year-old I declined an invitation to see the first (fourth?) movie when it first came out in 1977. I thought it sounded stupid.

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A good cereal notwithstanding, C-3PO needed to be slapped, repeatedly.

Anyway, carbonite. According to the august, authoritative Star Wars database Wookieepedia, carbonite “was a metal alloy that was made from carbon. It was mixed with tibanna gas, compressed, and flash-frozen into blocks for transport.” In addition to its industrial uses and thanks to several convenient leaps of logic, carbonite was an ideal medium for placing people, and presumably other living things, into a state of indefinite suspended animation. Han Solo was placed in carbonite towards the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

Too bad it’s not real. Given my chronic sleep issues I’d love to place myself into suspended animation from time to time. Today being a perfect example. At least as far as my experience is concerned, depression isn’t a constant state of sadness as much as it is a constant state of “fuck it.” Of course, if it were real I’d probably have to pay royalties to Disney, as they own Star Wars now.

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Behold your corporate overlords.

Personally I’m more of a Star Trek fan. The technology featured in that franchise strikes me as much more practical overall. I’d love to see a real-world transporter in action. Space travel wouldn’t be necessary to appreciate its benefits; you could just as easily use it for those nasty commutes.

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“I’m going to Albania for the afternoon. See you at 5.”
Image credit: tkksummers

Of course, the airline industry lobby would delay transporter technology for years.

All right, so I’m in the 400-word range with this. Good enough for me. I’m going back to bed now.

Mar 12

Habemus Deliramentum!

I’m not entirely sure why, but every time there’s a papal conclave I watch events intently. I’m not Catholic. I’m not even religious. So what’s the attraction?

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White suits? Nah ….

The historical aspect certainly has a lot to do with it. This is only the fourth papal conclave of my lifetime. For those of you who didn’t pay attention, there were two in 1978 and one in 2005. The fact Benedict XVI resigned just makes it more intriguing this time around. As you may have noticed, I’m into history. Besides, with Elizabeth II staying put for the foreseeable future there’s not a lot of excitement in this arena.

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“Tell me about it ….”
Image credit: Dan Marsh

Another facet that captivates me is the regnal name the new pope will take. While this has the potential to be exciting, in reality it isn’t. Since 1800 popes have only used one or a combination of six names: Benedict, John, Paul, Pius, Leo and Gregory. In addition, we haven’t seen a Leo or Gregory since before 1900. I’m writing this before the much-anticipated white smoke appears, but I suspect the new pope’s name won’t deviate from this format much, if at all.

That’s too bad. There are a lot of awesome papal names throughout history. Some of my favorites include Sylvester, Hormisdas, Anastasius, Gelasius, Hilarius, Cletus and Lando.

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Yes, seriously.

I think it would be nice to see the new pope take one of these names, or something equally bizarre like Jehoshaphat, just to force the world media to use it for the next few years. Given the very unfunny scandals the Roman Catholic Church faces and will continue to face, a little bit of levity may be in order.

Or he could go off the deep end and take the regnal name “Blue Ribbon.” Why? Well, the German word for pope is “Papst,” so …

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With my brain constantly coming up with stuff like this, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since 1985.

The Catholics are concerned about growing secularization. This is one way to bring the hipsters on board.