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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Off the Top

A few thoughts to hang your hat on...

Sometimes I feel like I'm grasping at the last straw in a haystack that broke the camel's back, but maybe that's just me... Summer is here, which means in people terms that all bets are off. Nobody knows what anyone else is doing or where they're going, there are plans and then there are layers of plans beneath those. I've always wondered why people don't just live where they vacation, since they like to be there more. Maybe they just like the idea of going. If we lived in Tahiti, we might be clamoring to get to the mainland, with lots of exotic postcards of New Jersey to entice us, and we'd want to go there instead.

It was probably about 15 years of watching Wheel of Fortune before I finally realized that it's just hangman... I'm feeling a little shortchanged. Man, special effects can really divert your attention. I think the hypnotic chime music they use also clouded my judgment as well. And Pat Sajak seems like a pretty decent guy, but don't you get the feeling that he'd like to be somewhere else? He seems a little detached, like his heart's not really in it. Like he's about to make a break for the door at any moment, as soon as someone's not looking. Pat is also not all that impressed when somebody gets a right answer. He's thinking to himself, "I solved this three minutes ago – what's wrong with you?"

One of the great dichotomies in life is watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy back to back. It's like two different planets. Alex Trebek & Co. are exploring the vast intricasies of world history and the various liberal arts and sciences, with contestants who've earned multiple doctorates, and meanwhile Vanna is playing ABC's with a 34-year-old high school dropout whose main talent is spinning the wheel. Not only that, but on Jeopardy they're so advanced that they even say answers first and then ask questions, like it's their own special grammatical format. They're too good to speak our plebeian tongue. What if they had Vanna on Jeopardy? She could turn over the clues, and then have small talk with Alex at the end of the show, discussing medieval migration of the Mayan tribes and stuff like that. I also hear there's going to be a take-off on Wheel of Fortune called "The Enunciators."

So, it's only July, and I'm already writing 2009 on my checks. What's up with that?

Question: Do we have enough penguin movies now? It seems like every third movie is a new penguin movie. Does Hollywood get some sort of royalties every time a penguin appears on camera? What is the whole fascination with waddling birds on ice? I guess the props are cheap, so it might have that going for it. This could all just be signaling a temporary budget crisis. History may look back on this moment with fondness: "Back around 2004-2009, the movie industry took a hit in their budget and not being able to afford exquisite movie sets, was forced to churn out a multitude of penguin movies." Incidentally, I've heard that penguins walk everywhere because they have nowhere to fly south to.

How to determine your IQ:
If you watch reality shows - Under 110

Possibly one of the best conspiracy theories is that the protractor and the compass have alternated meanings several times over the past few decades. That's why nobody can remember which is which. Whatever it was five years ago, it's different now. And it'll change again later. I'm not sure what the driving force behind this conspiracy is. It could be a number of things. Maybe school teachers want their students to feel inadequate, I don't know. This will require further investigation — or should we say protracted analysis.

The postal service has a forever stamp, which is a good idea, because you can pay one price now, and then the stamps can still be used after Armageddon comes and we've reverted back to the Pony Express once more. Just hand one of the Pony Express riders an envelope with a Liberty Bell stamp and you're all set, I guess. Guaranteed to be honored by any postal carrier, certified messenger service, or robotic entity of your choice — regardless of the historical backdrop. What a deal!

The next time you see identical twins, tell them they're not really identical, and see what they say. If they're intellectually honest twins, they'll have to admit that each person has unique genetic attributes. Suggest they start using some new term instead, like similar twins, or resembling twins. It could start a new trend.

People say they're looking forward to things that are coming up, but that's really the only way you can look at the future. Forward is all we got.

Daniel pointed out a peculiarity to me about our language structure. You can be generic when answering a question in the negative, but it's not so simple in the affirmative. If someone asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, you can say, "I don't know." But if you do know the answer, it doesn't work to say, "I know." Try it. "What time is it?" "I know." You see, "I know" is an acknowledgement, but doesn't answer the question.

A few indications that humans still have a ways to go before we can pat ourselves on the back technologically... Exhibit A: Parking problems continue to befuddle mankind. Somehow, we are incapable as a society of developing an adequate parking schemata. We've had cars for over a hundred years, but we're still surprised when we can't fit enough cars in the places where we want all of them. Did cowboys of the old west have difficulty finding places to park their horses? Did Roman chariots frequently get ticketed for being left in restricted zones?

Exhibit B: We require storage units, and pay exorbitant amounts of money to people to store our extra things for us that we can't find room for. So not only do we have a hard time finding places to put our cars, but we don't make our houses big enough. Accumulation is progression?

Also, ever notice we're the only species with laundry? How'd we get the short end of the stick on that one?

Wisdom I've encountered:
Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Jesus and Socrates and Luther and Copernicus and Galileo and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever lived. To be great is to be misunderstood.

The optimist says the glass is half full, the pessimist says it's half empty, the idealist says it’s completely full, the fatalist says it's going to spill, the engineer says it was built too big, the atheist says there's no proof of its existence, and the realist just drinks it.

Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't... A chicken is just an egg’s way of making another egg... Poverty can't buy you happiness either... It doesn't do any good to be pessimistic... Your odds of winning the lottery are virtually the same whether you buy a ticket or not... If someone insists they can keep a secret, tell them so can you... Life isn't fair, but at least it isn't fair for everyone, which I guess is fair...

Things that keep me up at night:
• Trying to determine the mathematical value of 'any'.
• How you would describe the color green to a person who's been blind since birth.
• Why Tortilla chips you bring home from the store say 'restaurant-style', and the ones on restaurant menus say 'home-style'. I don't get it.
• Why wrong numbers aren't ever busy.
• Anything Steven Wright ever said.

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