Monday, December 27, 2010

Bag v. Woo: A Socio-Economic Christmas Story

If you don't know who Woo is yet, let me inform you:


There is more to her than meets the eye.


Anyway, I felt, in the name of celebrating the holiday season, it was necessary to relay a particular story from this year.

The Bag verses Woo.

It was the morning of the 25th, and my family being slightly more into the Christian-decorations (even though a "Christmas" tree is actually a pagan symbol but who's keeping track, really?) we celebrate the season by opening presents.  Woo was there, as she is an integral part to my family's peace of mind through the practice of comparison:  when life gets tough for her, she just sleeps it off.

In fact, if we were to put Woo's Life Guide into some sort of formal writ, it would probably go like this:


1. If you do something wrong, sleep it off.

2. If you are feeling under the weather, sleep it off.

3. Food.  How can life be bad if there's food?

4. If there is food and you can't get at it, stare.  Stare at whoever is not giving you food. Once you get food you don't need to stare anymore--unless there is more food to be eaten.

5. If you're still feeling under the weather, there's a chance that what you just ate wasn't food.
Sleep it off.


We try to emulate this in the Baker Family.  I think in general there is a lot to be said about a creature that gets so excited about the idea that we're going to just go somewhere--it doesn't matter the location, but the journey, the journey is so much an integral part to life.

That's pretty zen for an animal that has no short term memory.

Anyway, it was Christmas-We-Don't-Believe-Jesus-Was-Born-On-December-25th-In-This-Family-But-Are-Happy-To-Celebrate-Him morning, and we all got presents.  Even Woo.

What she got was a brown paper bag, but not just any bag--no.  It was a bag that had treats inside of it, bought at a local pet shop.

The trouble was, in our effort to include her in our ritual practice of unwrapping our presents, Woo was unequivocally left out:

                    Woo's Present Face.

There was a literal pause when she saw it.

Realizing it was unfair to assume opposable thumbs could evolve overnight, we unwrapped the ribbon around the top, leaving the bag's opening vulnerable to any nose longer than 3 inches.

But, wait.  THREE inches?



Woo was, yet again, discriminated against--and this time, not for lacking the ability to comprehend ritual and decorative religious practice and culture.  No, this time it was personal.  We were now torturing our pug.

She tried going to the back end of the bag, as her nose did at least inform her the goods were at the bottom, not at the top, where we had mistakenly placed an opening.



I saw a literal expression of dismay on her face as we all kept unwrapping presents, unaware of the pain she was experiencing.

So, she took up her Fourth Tactic of solving her problems, as described in the above Woo's Life Guide:

Staring.

The staring, I think, was a bit misdirected at first due to the pain.



So, she redirected towards me and, well, I obviously wasn't helping.


She got it eventually though, her aim sharp and true, and this time directed at my mom.


That's when the Hand descended.


If Woo could understand 18th century economics, I think she would agree with Adam Smith that preferring domestic industry over foreign industry causes a betterment of society.  However, I think she would also feel that it is a very tangible, very visible hand that brings these beneficial changes about.


Aka:  go to mother(land) for sustenance, receive treat.

Mom even left it slightly in the bag, so that she could have the final triumphant feeling of pulling it out herself.


Which, sadly, even that took a little bit of work to do.


SUCCESS!


I tried to keep up with her, because at this point she turned and ran full-pelt away from us, so as to enjoy her victory all to herself:


It's funny how she reminds me SO much of Starburst Galaxy M82 just now:


But, way cuter in the physically friendly-to-earth kind of way.



-Beryl

p.s. Next installment:  Gas, aka The Other Thing Woo Has In Common With Stars

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Is Not Funny.

I think about comedy a lot, and not just in the sense of "What's a good romantic comedy?" or "Where did I hear the best one-liner joke ever?" Btws, my answer to both:  Some Like It Hot.

I tend to think about comic timing a lot and what makes something funny--because knowing what's funny is sort of a 6th Sense in a lot of ways. I'm not saying I have that 6th Sense. I am saying I've seen that weird vibe in action enough to know it's a symbiotic relationship at work between the people causing a joke and those who are enjoying it. And I find it fascinating. Btws again, if I am going to spend the rest of the blog actively analyzing and talking about comedy, this update will probably result in one of the least funny posts yet. Comedy is funny like that.

BUT ISN'T THAT FASCINATING?!

To kick off, let's go to a source. I am intrigued by how it works and what it is that drives humor. A lot of people have responded (positively, I might add) to the graphs and drawings I draw. I am glad of it.  But, I recognize that there are two patterns at work here: 1) I like to use the same sort of childish humor over and over and 2) there's comic timing at work even in artistic mediums that technically have no rate of motion, like drawings. How is it possible that something 2-D has comic timing?  How is it possible that something static can still move?  This is the point in which my brain starts churning: comic timing isn't just a matter of watching something humorously interact with the world in real time, it's about how your brain receives a joke. It's a discovery.

I bet you that some of the best one-liners you've heard, you've only heard in your head. Finding someone who can do an incredible deadpan or delivery is rare. But, we still manage to have and churn out a large amount of humor in the world. So, we must not be fully dependent on second parties, walking around, blessing us with a new joke every day. We have to be able to provide that humor for ourselves to some extent. And if while reading that line you have an image to stick it on, you can come up with some of the funniest voices (to you) possible. Case in point:



This just about cracked me in two when I first saw it. And normally using extra "!" 's makes me cringe--but, if we want to get technical here (and I am--this is Technical City, this post) it works because if a little kid a) used swear words and b) could express himself using grammar he would a) use the worst words and b) misuse the grammar. Plus, the fact that it can only be found on the internet in this bite-size format and has no higher resolution, makes for a uniquely powerful impact on the unsuspecting viewer. Plain and simple, this has fantastic comic timing.

But, the reason why it ultimately works so well is that the image and the words used are in perfect alignment for you to hear the best delivery of this joke possible. Comic timing, then, is a symbiotic relationship between our individual sense of imagination and the author of the joke trying to access that imagination. It's sort of like "You're your own worst critic" in reverse. With humor, and reading humorous things to yourself, you become your own best comedian. 

Not that it's all because of you if something's funny. It's a give and take relationship. Those who have that 6th sense can feel that humor stopwatch ticking. They know they have a pocket of fertile time your brain is absorbing the potential joke. And they know how good the work in setting a joke up beforehand is what most likely predicts the resulting physical reaction. When you think about it, humor is kind of like pain:  it has to travel, make a necessary journey through into system for the reaction to come right back out.

Not that I want you to think of me as a pain.

Or that you aren't inherently funny without me watching you.

I have no idea which one of you I'm talking to right now, so I can't tell if you're funny or not, honestly.

You could be Amy.

I know Amy's funny.

Unless she's making fun of me.

Then she's not funny.

Now the word funny has lost its meaning to me because I've read it too much.

But, now that it has lost meaning I can tell it is onomatopoetic (funny sounds funny).

...

Moving on.

I mentioned earlier the idea of successful comic timing. That then made me think, "What is an example of unsuccessful comic timing?" I guess it's when an attempt to be funny just isn't--and no, I don't mean that in the annoyed, outraged tone of voice where I'm about to say next, "People DIED over such and such thing you're making fun of!"  No. I just mean it's boring. If I have no reaction, if my mouth doesn't move into a smile but instead stays perfectly still, my breath doesn't catch, the corners of my eyes are static, then you can pretty much guarantee my fingers are already reaching to click onto something else. It's kind of like how the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference, the opposite of a laugh isn't anger, it's no reaction whatsoever. Anger is at least a reaction--it's poking something that tells you right back that you exist, although you are now the target of some serious pummeling.

A good example, I think, of a unsuccessful comedy (and thus, flat comic timing) is this particular version of the child who fuckin' LOVES to draw I found while looking it up:

Exhibit A:  Not Funny.

Basically, what failed is that someone tried to increase the hilarity of something that's stand-alone funny by adding something else to it. In this particular case it was implanting it into the De-motivational Poster format, which has become its own meme, some successful, some not.

I think what specifically made this unsuccessful was how the joke was presented to its audience. The gem of the actual joke is high-energy, fast and furiously silly. To then try to stuff it into the world of sardonic deadpan, via the graphic design trope of white-on-black punchlines, it becomes less funny, if not altogether ignorable.

The worst part is it leaves that bad comedy karmasay it three times fast nowtaste in your mouth afterwards that someone was trying to ride on the coattails of someone else's good sense of comic timing.

I leave you with a video that I find absolutely hilarious, which will make up for the gratuitous amount of analysis I just put you through:



-Beryl


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Bad Atheist: My First Day in Presbyterian Preschool

When I was a kid my parents wanted to send me to a school that was safe, inexpensive, and aesthetically pleasing (not necessarily in that order).  So, off I went to Presbyterian Pre-School, aka The First Presbyterian Church of Alameda.  And thanks to Alameda's incredibly quaint ways, it even has its own antique portrait postcard for you to enjoy:



The trouble was, my parents failed to really explain religion to me prior to my entry into before-school-school.  It's not like they were out to leave me stranded--nor do I think they had any intention of seeing "how I would do" under stressful circumstances.  (I think by then they already knew I was a slightly neurotic child.  So, really, it wasn't intentional.)

In fact the problem was that they didn't grow me up with any intentional anything; they aren't stalwart atheists, they aren't over zealous christians; they're artists who are self-employed.  Their deities, if they have any, are patrons that are kind and not demanding and/or Gore Vidal.

So, when it came to things like God, Christ, The Holy Spirit, Virgin Mary, Prophets, Saints, Disciples, etc. I knew (some of) the names, but I didn't feel the awe that is part of their definition.  Back then, they all sounded like characters to a story that my parents hadn't read to me, yet.  I mean, when you think about it, my childish brain had a way to explain Christianity that was easy and straight-forward:  we had gotten through The Hobbit, so it was only a matter of time before we got to the Bible series (Volumes Old and New).

Anyway, having recently walked past my old school while out on a walk in my hometown, I was reminded of a particular memory of my first day there.

First off, I remember there was a back entrance that had a corridor lining a courtyard--the corridor then lead to a wide gymnasium.  I would later run around in there a lot--usually attempting to be the fastest and try to get all the attention doing so--and at one point I would pee my pants while in there and be sent home early.  Connected to the now infamous gymn was a messroom.

The messroom still, to this day, seems magical to me.  There were blue, red, green and yellow plastic small chairs, and a big fold-out table.  Snack time took place here and it was there that I learned from now on snack time was going to be different.  Before at home I would either start crying for food, and then get food, or start yelling for food and then get some.

...

I'm starting to realize why disappointment is such a hard emotion for me to handle.

Anyway, on my first morning we all sat down for snack and the "teacher" (they didn't really teach us anything, other than show us where to sit and eat and pee--not that that isn't a incredibly important lesson in life) told us to pray before we got our snack of the day.

Pray...

Pray.

Pray?

In my under-five-years-old brain, I didn't really know the word.  I knew it meant something other-than food.  And I knew it had something to do with elbows because all the other kids drew theirs up on the table top where they did not, as I had been taught, belong.

I started to fidget and get annoyed.  To make things worse, I could see what the snack of the day was:  cheese and crackers.  But, not just any cheese--no.  Delectable Kraft Cheese that was so bad for you (and thus, so delicious) because it came in its own individual plastic wrapping.

And plastic wrapping = my definition of childhood yearning in the 1990s.



I had learned this important lesson at a young age.  Anything that had to be individually wrapped in its own special plastic was literally untouchable and thus badass:  CDs with parental guidance stickers, first edition collectable comic books you could only look at longingly, Lunchables and action figures that were so intense their WEAPONS were individually wrapped:




Anyway, there I was:  confused, hungry (and to this day, when I get hungry I get really grumpy) and ostracized from the information every other kid seemed to know.  Except for the kid who had his finger reaching past his other hand and into his nose.  I didn't talk to that kid.

The teacher explained, I think to help nudge me along (as this whole mental, philosophical debate of want verses social rules of conduct lasted approximately 3.07 seconds) that we must "thank God for the food you're about to eat."

I didn't get it.  My hands were pressed together, but my mind was racing and I had come across my first spiritual debate of my life:

To me, it was God or the Cheese--and I had made my decision waaaay already.

To the Kidstians, it was God first AND THEN the Cheese--and they were quite content to enjoy both in their due time.

All I could think was, "Why?  You have it.  I want it.  What's the hold up?"  But, in seeing how devout* all the other kids were, it occurred to me that there was something else to this--something deeper and bigger than me (which wasn't new, considering I was shorter than three feet at the time).

I still didn't get it.  But, I knew when to be quiet, although grumpily quiet.  I even closed my eyes for good measure.  When I did eventually get my cheese I thought nothing of it--the pained moments of prolonged hunger went away quickly as the oh-so-tempting, slight-adhesive let go of the cover flap of the cheese.  It was mine.  It was glorious.  I had my cheese and I ate it, too.  And yet, I was curious exactly what was so amazing that cheese could be a secondary priority--and individually packaged cheese, no less.

Approximately 20 years later, I now get it.  After two decades of learning and growing and simultaneously hearing from my friends that they're "bad christians" or "bad jews" or "bad muslims" I have realized somethings.  1) I understand the import of being thankful and 2) I'm a bad atheist.

As an Atheist, I try my best to not get codependent on some higher/external power than me.  I even feel guilt--apparently it's not just for Catholics and Jews--if I spend too much time hoping that some external force will guide me in whatever happens next in life.  Talk about ironic.

However, I don't think it's wrong to yearn for guidance.

In fact, I think it's human.

Just as human as it was to want the cheese first, rather than play solo-patty-cake.

These days, since I have the power to buy my own cheese (and eat it too!) I've come to respect anyone who puts their sense of connection and patience into practice with something so essential as food.   It's a form of confidence in yourself and your beliefs, really, that not only teaches you to appreciate what you've got, but is a reminder that things don't always happen RIGHT when you want them to.  But, they do happen.  Cheese in plastic wrap does happen.

Yes, I still scarf food when I feel like it.  But, I do try to at least resist from the external packaging now and then and savor the internal that much more.  Besides, it's my own form of separating all the bits and pieces in my life, which as we now know from my action figure research study, makes them that much more special.

-Beryl


*Can children be devout?  Or does the will power/guilt develop later along with self-loathing and action figure collecting?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holidaze: Constants, Cold Weather and Control

I attempted to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies a couple weeks ago.

And it failed.

Then I tried again this last week.

That batch failed, too.

Usually butter--and the question on whether or not melting it beforehand to make the hand-mixing go faster--is the culprit of these problems.

But, I digress.

I just wanted to feel holiday-y-ish-er-astic-(and other English adjective-creating suffixes as well).  But, like most times in which I really GO for the Christmas (I'm not Christian), Hanukkah (I'm not Jewish), or Saturnalia (I'm not from Saturn) celebration, it falls flat on its face.

Such is life.

There is so little we can have control over in this world, especially when the amount of people we're around and the opportunities for interactions you have no control over (and thus, don't want) seem to pop up that much more often.

It's sort of like a crash course of high school all over again, where insecurity reigns constant.  In fact, I can sum up my high school experience in one graph, simultaneously summarizing, visually, the definition of a mathematical constant:



But, this does not deter any of us from trying to experience the holidays in all their glory.  Or from trying to be around the family members, although it sometimes feels like you're tight-rope-walking the line between an emotional mine field and/or joy & relief at surviving without any awkward moments.

One is always glad to escape those moments.

I had one of those moments a few years back.

I'd like to share it with you now.

It was thanksgiving at my grandma's house (on my dad's side).



I had just sat down to eat.

And then,








I think I ended up actually defining the gay male population as having a higher GDP than the lesbian population due to regional hot spots in the Bay Area being more heavily populated by gay men as opposed to women, which landed me in a quandary of where to place bisexuals, which I then realized would throw off my entire theory of income levels within the queer community, and that's about when I started to flounder in my economic queer theory altogether as there was no way for me to fully categorize who or what or how we all are.*

I then decided to just drop the subject and eat turkey.


*This is proof that there never was, and never could be a Gay Agenda.  Unless you're counting Disney On Ice.  That was totally us.



-Beryl

Woo Update:


Be sure to bundle up as the weather gets cooler.


Woo does.






Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Anna May Wong: Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me About Her?

I noticed on netflix the documentary film by Lisa Ling "Inside North Korea" was on instant play.  So, I watched it.  Then I went on youtube and proceeded to look into the history of the past 60 years of Korea's split.  Then I started reading articles on North Korea's recent military activity.  Then I started reading up on what is and isn't allowed in North Korea--the majority falling on the latter end of that spectrum.


The hours slipped away to reading atrocity after atrocity.  

But, not soon after the fourth or so hour researching North Korea, I came across an article describing the heirs to the regime.  The author described the sister of Kim Jong Ill, Kim Kyong Hui, as an "old battle axe."  Apparently, she does not at all fulfill the 'sexy' portion of that old battle-axe-of-a-stereotype, The Dragon Lady.

So, after all that, what am I going to discuss in this week's blog?

Not North Korea.  

No.

The only thing I will say on that front though, is that I feel North Korea is like the biggest LARP* in action of George Orwell's 1984.  Only, I almost want them to love their Big Brother--just as Winston Smith was forced to in the end.  

That brings me to my First-Ever....

Philosophical Question of the Week!   

Ask yourself:   If physically and psychologically you are made to fear for you and your family's lives day after day--in the vein hopes that you will grow to believe it is a good thing you're oppressed--would you rather a) give in and believe or b) fight and live in fear?  

Think about it.  No, really, really think about it.  I think most of us would actually act differently from what we hope we would, which is why North Korea is the way it is.  

**End Philosophical Question of the Week**

I repeat:  the following article will have nothing to do with North Korea.  I just happened to find some bit of light-hearted (meaning filled with racism, sexism and xenophobia but no LARP-ing) history while slogging through tonight.  And that's Anna.



Anna May Wong (Wong Liu Tsong) to be exact.  


Pst.  White people:  She's not Korean.

Doesn't she just have the perfect embodiment of the 1920s bob?

Regardless, I wanted to bring her up because NO ONE told me about her until I discovered her myself, late last night, while researching the phrase "Dragon Lady," thanks to Kim Jong Il's sister.  Thanks, Kim Kyong Hui!  You crazy alcoholic, megalomaniac, you.

"Dragon" has been used as a derogatory reference term for women, dating back to the 1800s.  But, there is no known documentation of the phrase Dragon Lady until Milton Caniff's 1930s comic strip, Terry And the Pirates, which literally had an asiatic female pirate character called The Dragon Lady.  Anyhoo, the wallflower/dragon lady stereotype for asian women, as we all know, kind of took off in the hollywood scene of the early 20th century.

That's where Anna comes in.


Anna rocks.

She was American, born in 1905 near the Chinatown of Los Angeles and was not only the FIRST Chinese-American actress onscreen, but was also the first Asian-American International star.  She began as a silent-film actress but amazingly was able to make the crossover easily into Talkies.  Bam!  How about them apples?

She got into the movie business on her own gumption (her parents were like "You're crazy.  Why are you trying to be a film star?") AND she continued to be faced with rejection by the hollywood scene.  She routinely was passed over for the lead roles:  you know that novel The Good Earth about Chinese Peasantry from the 1930s that we were all forced to read in high school and then were forced to watch the movie in 6th period English?  Anna was after that role, but in the end she was passed over for the role by the (white) German Actress, Luise Rainer.  And then Rainer went on to win an oscar for the performance.  Ouch.  But, on the positive side, Rainer's performance in that film didn't impress me at all.

Anna May Wong, however, does.

So, I wanted us to remember Anna.  She's fabulous.  She was smart, she had a lot of self-confidence, given that everyone around her kept telling her she shouldn't and, regardless of the bigger role rejections, she made a name for herself in a time that was fiercely xenophobic due to the depression and heightened international tensions of the 1930's.  Plus, when handed her first Talkie, she recorded it in three different languages--can you say overachiever?

Plus, she looks damn good in a tux.



Honestly, there's no competition with these kinds of women.  So, I've decided I'm just going to give up my life-long dream right of becoming the first Chinese-American film star.

You're disappointed, I know.   But, at least we're not in North Korea.

-beryl

*If you don't know what LARP-ing is, then congratulations.  This is a good thing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Spider and the Fly: Make A Wish

Ever feel like "things aren't what they seem"?  Or perhaps, it's that things are what they seem but are also quizzically something else as well.  Something extra, that wasn't in your initial intent when you were searching on google for pictures of Maggie Gyllenhaal and administrative work and that's when you come across a mix of the two with Secretary and whoopsydaisyBAM.


You're in a BDSM website with very graphic images and/or audio.


I find adages, such as "Things are never what they seem," while good advice, tend to have a sinister quality about them.  As if we should beware the things that we are already unable to control.  Sort of like that other adage, "Be careful what you wish for..." That line just seems so unfair.  Wishes are meant to be filled with hope, joy for the future, and exuberance over the possibilities of life.  Being careful states there is a future involving a certain level of pain and/or death.


Turns out, from my experience, both are possible from making one wish.


And turns out, there's more drama in my window than the entirety of my life in the year of 2010.



Not that I was wishing, secretly, for drama to break out in my room.  No, in fact I generally avoid the window specifically because of my neighbor outside the window.  But, this morning was different.


**Note:  When I say morning, from now on, I mean technically after noon but it felt like morning because it was foggy outside.


So, this morning I hear this Fly buzzing around my room, making a racket.  It's loud.  It's annoyingly constant.  I consider opening my window, although it was freezing.  But, I don't.  Instead I just wish, "Something please make this Fly and this noise go away."


For a moment I forget about it, typing in Maggie Gyllenhaal into google search.  But, then I hear the buzz again only this time it is FEROCIOUS BUZZING.


I look up and there is the Fly, up in the high corner of my window.  And it's staying in this one spot, vibrating with a fury.  The shaking becomes more and more frantic, as if it's trying to win the Best Of award from Good Vibes. 


That's when this huge, giant, Shelob-Is-My-Bitch Spider comes creeping down to the struggling, now very much caught Fly.


I could hear the Fly respond to its surprise company a la "Oh FUCK THIS." and it starts buzzing/vibrating even more.


But it's too late.  The Fly is caught--the struggling only seems to strengthen the hold the webbing has on it.  The web continues to vibrate at a hummingbird rate and the Spider is like barely able to walk along the planks of it's web.  After walking around the fly, surveying it's very upset prey, it seemingly walks away.  Only it doesn't.  The Spider has taken a thread of the net that surrounds The Fly and slowly pulls on it and thus, the Fly, back up to it's layer, hidden in the wood work of the window.


And I'm standing there staring, horrified.





And I can't look away.







The Fly keeps making it's horrendous noise.  But, all I can hear is my wish I had made minutes earlier.  Please just make this Fly and this noise go away.


In a twist of dark humor, it occurs to me that the later half of the wish has yet to come true.


But then fly then stops buzzing.


I freeze.


It buzzes once again, in a final whimper attempt to flee, even though I can't even see it from my stance, five feet below in the Safe Zone of no-web.


And then there is silence.






Wish granted.
-Beryl


Woo Update:





Woo does this thing my dad likes to call "Crocodile Eyes."  

This is Woo asleep, as per usual.



This is Crocodile Eyes:



**Edited again to add:  Thank you for the anonymous tipoff of the Rapper Graphs in the last comments section; I totally used them as inspiration (and will continue to) for my blog.   Awesome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Read, Write, Repeat: Where was I when I was his age?

Lately, I've been bumming around the internet to find something to help me with a current predicament:  I need to focus on some written projects of mine, but can't for some reason--or it feels like my efforts inevitably turn into squiggly-squash sounds, mixed with dazing off into the abyss.

Case in point.


I read my grandpa's memoirs not too long ago.  And to say the least, I came away feeling intimidated:  At the age of 24 Eugene Haderlie was diving in the Thames River, diffusing Nazi water mines, bare-handed, 100 feet below sea level.  He then went off to Utah Beach, Normandy and was part of the invasion of Germany, helped liberate the Jews left for dead in a concentration camp Buchenwald, and went on to help found the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  

(Now you know my secret for creating an amazing sea otter costume:  have grandfather be a marine biologist who works in the Monterey Bay Aquarium for 40 + years.  

It helps, trust me.)

Anyway, otters aside, I do feel as though comparing myself to what others have done by this age is a fruitless endeavor.  And I've learned something as a result:
At the age of 24 grandpa was saving the world.

At the age of 24 I am blogging.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But, there is something wrong if the very least I can do for this world (create and rewrite) is somewhat strained.  

In thinking it over, I realize I have had a sort of writers' block.  And yet, it's a weird off-shoot of writers' block.  The difficulty I have in writing is not so much ideas or finding interesting new things to talk about--it is more that it's hard for me to concentrate on one topic at a time consistently.  For me that's where the challenge comes in.  I have five or so unfinished manuscripts/written works in progress currently (a half-written play, two beginnings of two very different novels, a screenplay that's only up to it's first hero-struggling-but-will-overcome montage and of course, this blog).   

I have Writers' ADHD.  For example, I just rediscovered the parametric equations for the Cardiod Curve.  No, you don't have to understand what the equations mean.  But, how RAD is the animation that describes the curve's creation?  Pretty sick.  Who would have thought a circle rolling around another circle would create such a shape?  I guess the Greeks.  Another similar shape to the Cardiod is a Nephroid, which weirdly enough, occurs naturally (sometimes) at the bass of a coffee cup with liquid in it.  

Coffee Nephroid:  You'll never drink it the same way again.


No, your coffee hasn't gone bad--it's just a pattern of shadows that happen when a cup is placed under sunlight; light reflects off the cup in a pattern because the cup's got a circular curve to it (which makes in turn a reflective surface, or a catacaustic) and the outline of the nephroid, aka light beams racing back and forth against each other and the surface, appears as a result.  

And there you go.  Two paragraphs down, a fully random excerpt about nothing to do with anything later, I am back to where I started.  

But, that was a sick animation.

And you'll never look at your coffee the same way again.

Right?

-Beryl


Edited to add, A Woo Update:


This is Woo in real life.  Gotta love that amazing posture.


Found her earlier this afternoon, digging through mom's bag.


How is it possible that she doesn't even look remorseful for her crime, even though her face has been molded to look sad?

*end Woo update*

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I have a pug: They Shouldn't Exist or A Pop-Cultural Study


Her name is Woo.


Not to be mistaken for , the Chinese language that had been in use by 77 million speakers openly up until 1949 at which time the Peoples Republic of China declared Mandarin, and only Mandarin, to be the language of China. 




Not to be mistaken for Woo, the pre-Shakespearean verb to court, or to solicit affection.


Just Woo.



Pugs aren't a modern anomaly; they go back a way in time.   True, they're part of that Shouldn't-Be-Alive-But-Oh-That's-Right-Humans-Wanted-It-To-Happen-And-Humans-Should-Always-Get-What-They-Want-Right? breeding technique.  But seriously, their ancestry dates far back--apparently, first documentation of the short-nosed, squat-dogs comes from around 700BC in China (called the "Foo" dog).  


Foo Dog Pair; Female (coupling baby under paw) on Left, Male on Right


So how has the dog, whose mouth is so small their teeth (still the same amount a Wolf has) become impacted, survived for so long?  Well, they do what any sensible creature would do, if given the choice:  they've become the pet icon of the courts of the rich and famous.  And they haven't done that bad, considering their way of survival has been dependent on somewhat tenuous royalty.


For example, Chinese Emperor Ling To gave his female pugs the same status as his wives.  Not sure how well that went down with the women of the household, but there you have it.  He unfortunately wasn't the best Emperor around, and according to Wikipedia (all-knowing source of info), liked a decadent lifestyle, was a womanizer and an all-around corrupt guy with lots of enemies.  


William the Silent, a dutch Prince from the 16th century, avoided capture by the Spanish, because his pug, Pompey woke him up before any of his guards knew they were under attack.  He escaped to safety and since then Pug has become the symbol of the dutch royalty line, The House of Orange.


The pug was also a secret symbol for the "Mopsorden" sect of the Freemasons in the 1730s.  Mopsorden, by the way, is German for "The Order of the Pug."


And Napoleon's soon-to-be-wife, Josephine, had a pug named Fortune.  When Napoleon tried to kick him out of the bed Fortune bit him.  I feel as though there's a foreshadowing joke of some sort here.  Either way, the pug was let back into the bed.


Given how weird they look and their amazing presence throughout the higher-levels of society across the world, I think that's why pugs have become the new "It" dog for America:








They exude simplicity of life and silliness.  I mean, well.  Look at them.  There is NO point for them to exist.  There is no way that, given the Real World's natural environment, they WOULD exist.  

And yet, they do. 










*crinkly bags*


That's more like it.



I start to worry, though, when I see exactly how deformed a Wolf has become in the name of Cute.  


However, the pug manages to survive, even in the most daunting situations.


I think even the Wolf is going, "Wtf Nature?  What was that?"


cheers,
beryl