Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kotter Matrix

I just saw an episode of Welcome Back Kotter. I remember enjoying that show as a child but I was surprised by how cheesy and unfunny it actually was. I don't recall the production values being so low. It looked like a weekend project conceived and shot by your high school's AV club in the school gymnasium. As a child I thought Barbarino was pretty cool and I liked to think that I most resembled him owing to our shared possession of charm with the ladies. The years have given me fresh perspective so I now realize that I was probably 40% Barbarino, 30% Epstein, 18 percent Washington and about 12% Horschak.

Applied to Seinfeld I would be about 40% Jerry, 30% George, 18% Elaine and about 12% Kramer.

On the Sex and the City Matrix I'm not sure if I would qualify but I'd have to say that I was about 40% Carrie, 30% the Brunette, 18% the Redhead and about 12% the Slut.

But I have asked women which character they most resembled and all of them said they most resembled Carrie as played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Given the benefit of perspective I believe these women will one day be watching a rerun 20 years from now and realize that they weren't really 100% Carrie but some alchemical mixture of all 4 of the main characters in varying percentages.

Fellini on Ice

My mother was visiting the other day so I ended up watching some of the closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics from Torino. What were they thinking? Answer: Fellini meets Cirque the Soleil and they decide to go skating.

Perhaps such spectacles are meant to be viewed from a good stadium-sized distance because it looked positiviely silly up close on the TV screen as countless pseudo Florentine/Swiss guards skated about in seemingly random and puzzling movements. This was followed by some bombshell Italian actress who engaged in her own non-sequitor gesticulations. All the while some other beautiful people seemed to be flailing while hanging from rings or ropes high above the stage. Surely Italian culture has more to offer than this. But then again, have you seen some of their variety shows?

Friday, February 24, 2006


I have thought long and hard about what it would be like to be an alien. I am of the opinion that they would be so entirely unlike us that this thought experiment is much less effective than you might guess. We have access to the world through our senses and much of it is arbitrarily so. We see a certain range of the light spectrum, we hear a certain range of audio frequency, we touch, taste and smell according to reactions to our environment and our survival tendencies over many millenia.
An entity on another planet whom we might consider to be living would have to exist in harmony with an entirely different environment such that they might be as physically different from us as fungus is from a cocker spaniel.

It is not really that uniquely interesting to consider all of the different life-forms there might be on other planets. The diversity on Earth is astonishing enough. What is interesting is to consider how a so-called intelligent life form might look and move and act. Could we assign the act of thinking to any intelligent being? What essentially do we know about thinking so that we can definitely say that another life form thinks? How do these beings interact with each other? What of socialization? Individual identity? Is individuality something unique to our particular condition in our particular environment? Would these creatures be a collection of individual creatures or one single creature? Must intelligent beings be evolved to a state that possesses a sense of self?

Ask yourself what it is about being human that has brought us to where we are and how we are. You are left with certain aspects that we would call particularly human. These traits and tendencies are alien even to other life forms here on earth. Think of how much we would need to have in common with a being in order to communicate with it. Over 20 years ago we sent out an intergalactic message in a bottle on the spacecraft Voyager. How similar would we need to be with the recipients in order for them even to consider our message to be something of importance worth investigating? Could there exist an highly advanced being that never looks out above the surface of it's planet? Could they even see? If they could detect the existence of Voyager would they even care? What is it to care? Must an intelligent being necessarily be curious?


Ping set out from his submarine home one day for a swim. He bumped into a boat and was forever changed. When he returned, he was hardly recognizable. He had become a Pong.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Punch Drunk Love

I rememeber that as a child the process for deciding which cereal to buy involved a complex formula that tried to balance the relative value of the cereal with the value of the free gift inside. "I prefer Shreddies but that free hockey card inside the Frosted Flakes makes me wonder".

Last week while shopping for groceries I noticed that a brand of cereal was on special for $3.99. I don't much eat cereal any more expect for this kind which is of a particularly adult variety. So I put one in my cart. There was a splash on the front of the box that indicated there was a bonus to be found inside. Each package contained a free movie pass. I go to the movies all the time so I know that a movie ticket costs about $10. Two more boxes went into my cart.

The next day as I passed the store I rationalized that I forgot to buy some water the previous night. But really I was curious to see if there were any more of those special boxes. There were, and eight more boxes went into my cart. I've been there two more times and I'll be going to the movies for free until July.

So I went to see Capote the other night. Philip Seymour Hoffman was quite good in his role as a reserved yet flamboyant and seemingly always somewhat drunk effete Truman Capote. I first noticed him in P.T. Anderson's Boogie Nights as the pathetic effete schlub who has a puppy dog crush on Dirk Diggler. He also played opposite Bobby Deniro as an effete crossdressing singer in a not-so-good movie. I wonder if he's gay because he's in danger of being typecast as such.

He seems best directed by Anderson as he was in Magnolia playing the palliative care nurse and as the slimebag 1-976 pimp in Punch Drunk Love. In that movie Adam Sandler's character discovers a pudding cup bonus promotion that he can use for free air travel. He then spends a significant portion of the movie shovelling pudding cups into his shopping cart. I now feel a special kinship with that character.

Monday, February 20, 2006


It was well past midnight when I heard someone say "I need that like a fish needs a bike" and I immediately thought that "Fishbike" would be a good name for a band. I emailed Bob with the subject heading "Band Name" and simply wrote "Fishbike" in the body of the message.
The next day I received a reply with various references to "Fishbike" that he had found on the net. We have arrived at a stage in language and communication in which it has become increasingly difficult to coin new and original words.

Many many years ago I went on a cross-country road trip with Bob. While travelling somewhere along the flat Plains, in a near-catatonic state I began blurting out seemingly random words or phrases that Bob copied into his notebook. We called this a list of band names. I remember laughing hysterically years later when we read them over a coffee. I remember one of those band names "Phasers on Marmalade". I'm pretty sure I coined that one. I just googled it in another window and there were no matches. There are however 833 pages on which the word "phaser" appears along with the word "marmalade".

After the success of "The Police", "The Clash" and "The Knack" people soon ran out of single concept names and bands were forced to come up with more clever multi-concept names like "Dalek I Love You", "Porno for Pyros" and "Dayglow Abortions".
Two other creations that came in quick succession in my stream-of-conciousness band naming that day were "Jesus Fonzarelli" and "Elvis Hitler". Two quick Google searches reveal that there are actually bands that are so named.