August 26, 2007

God Has a Wonderful Sense of Humor

By now, you have probably seen the article about how astronomers have found a "hole" in the Universe. If not, go here to read about it. Don't worry, we'll wait.

Okay, so my first question is: How is there a "hole" in a void. I mean even with the dark matter theory to help "fill in" some of the gaps, still this strikes me as hilarious.
But more importantly: Is it in the center of everything? If so, are we then just a sprinkle on the donut that is the cosmos?

Apparently, I have to quit posting when I'm hungry.

August 25, 2007

Word as Art

Starting with the 20th Century, visual arts moved away from representational depiction to abstraction. Images were reduced to show action, movement, feeling, or to reflect inner qualities instead of appearance. Both two and three dimensional arts moved from a direct form of communication to more thoughtful expression of the subject. (See, I do get to my BFA every once in a while!)
But this leads me to literary arts. For the most part the same form of storytelling has been used for centuries. Very simply stories are broken into 5 parts; exposition, conflict, climax, resolution, and denouement.
I think it is time to change that. After looking at all the various movements in the visual arts, I am spearheading the surrealist movement. When history looks back, and you know they will, you can say that you witnessed the beginnings. With that I give you this:

Apple wings touching purple. Seven penguins eat the stain-glass hamburgers. The pale wind searches for the vapid trees for cinnamon. Remember the brick insects, traipsing along the glistening few.

Of course, as with all new movements, the first attempts are simpler, often carrying one theme. Here I was hungry as I wrote that. I think the image of the diner called Camellia Grill in New Orleans probably comes across a little too obvious. The sacrifices we make for art.

Edit: Okay, some might say that poetry has already embraced this genre. Some might also say that hunger got the best of me. I say some people talk too much.

August 24, 2007

Time Keeps On Slipping

It has been one hectic month. I really haven't been online much; maybe 30 minutes a day, and most of that spent on my other blog. The rest has been spent on utilitarian usage, like paying bills or googling a celebrity's name with the word "nude". A word of advice - don't do that with Keifer Sutherland. I needed to take a cheese grater to my brain to get rid of that image...

Seriously, this month has been spent in reading. More specifically three books. And yes, one of those was Harry Potter. I will admit, I think the series is a good read. The first two were formulaic, and virtually identical plot-wise. My favorite was the third. She broke out of the rut and really added several layers. Sirius Black was a character with great potential. I really thought she would have used him more. I hated the fifth book. It is the longest as well as most useless in moving the story along. If you haven't read it, I won't spoil it. To me, the plot was more about building Harry's strength of character and leadership, but was mired in several sub-plots. And the denouement was completely unsatisfying.
The sixth and seventh books should have come out as one, HUUGE volume. I started Deathly Hallows, but after about 100 pages I stopped and re-read Half-Blood Prince. In truth I had only read the sixth book once, and that was two years ago. Together they are a seamless read.
Deathly Hallows is really irritating. You know where the story is ultimately supposed to go. But, and this is a problem I have with any book that uses time as a factor in how the story is told, she has forced herself to tell the tale over the course of Harry's "Year 7". Too often in the first two-thirds of the story, the plot goes something like this: they try to figure out a course of action, argue about it and fight about it for a while, finally act on the plan, mayhem ensues, regroup and discuss/argue about the action, then try to figure out a new course of action. This happens at least three times. The problem with it is the time factor. They argue and discuss and fight for days or weeks at a time.
The last third is the opposite of what goes on before. Literally 500 pages and several months later, the pace picks up. The next 250 pages detail the events of one night. And a lot of stuff happens. Most are predictable if you have read the first six and follow the style of the writer. Too often a character is not what they appear to be, or not as they are portrayed to be. You know that there will be deaths, so you brace yourself for those to occur. You also know the overriding theme to the book, so you really should know what the outcome will be. I am not spoiling the ending. There are still a few twists as the story winds down that tie up some loose threads nicely. Even a few things that go back several books.

I know I'm rambling. But this is a unique accomplishment. The writer in me that longs for the one good story idea is blown away. Seven novels about a kid growing up with all the pressures a kid has to face, plus he can do magic. O, and the most evil wizard ever was not able to kill him, and will probably come back to finish the deed. And written so that the first couple seem purposely simple, just like a ten year old should be. Style-wise, she tells the tales from Harry's point of view. Very restrictive. You are only in Harry's head. You only experience the world as Harry sees it and thinks about it. (True, the beginnings of the later books start from outside of this perspective, but barely a hundred pages of several thousand fall into that.) And only one major theme to the whole story. Simple story telling, fleshed out characters, built on a solid "history". Brilliant.

August 01, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

There is a logic paradox called the Unexpected Hanging. If you are not aware of story it goes something like this:
A man commits a heinous crime and is being sentenced by the judge. The judge, known to be a man who kept his word, told the prisoner, "Because your crime is so heinous, this is worst thing I can do you. You will be hanged at dawn one day next week. To make your last days on this Earth troubled, you will not know what day it will be."
The prisoner is shaken and white as a sheet. He sees his lawyer has a smile on his face. The prisoner asks, "How can you possibly find this amusing?" The lawyer says, "Don't you see? The sentence cannot be carried out."
Puzzled, the prisoner says, "What do you mean?" The lawyer says, "Look at it this way. The judge said you will not know which day you will be hanged. But you cannot possibly be hanged on Saturday. On Friday, you would know without a doubt that you will be hanged on Saturday. The judge said you would not know the day. So you cannot possibly be hanged, as this would go against the judge's orders."
The prisoner rubs his chin and says, "I see." The lawyer then says, "You cannot be hanged on Friday, either. On Thursday, you would know that you could not be hanged on Saturday. That only leaves Friday as the day to hang you. But again, you would know this. And that violates the judge's sentence."
The prisoner says, "You are right. Thursday is also out, because I know I cannot be hanged on Friday or Saturday. It's the same for Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday and Sunday!" The lawyer says, "Exactly! You cannot be hanged without violating the judge's sentence!"
August 1st, 2005, was an eventful day. It started out as normal. I got up and went in to work as usual. We were resetting the sales floor that day because had new furniture. Most of it back-to-school related. There was also a new dining table; very ornate and very heavy. We put the legs on and went to flip it over. That is when I felt something searing hot in my back.
It felt like someone was trying to brand me, just from the inside out. Then, as if on some hellish cue, pain shot up and then down my spine. Dazed, I sat down in the chair that was waiting to match up with the table. That's when I thought, "Okay. Don't move.", followed by, "Idiot, if you didn't move, how did you end up in the chair?"
This twisted banter lasted a few moments as I began moving extremities. Toes first. Check. Feet. Check. Legs. Ouch!
As I moved my right leg, I could feel a tearing sensation in my lower right back. I told another manager that something was wrong. After my story, she echoed the thought in my head. "Idiot."
Since I knew nothing was broken. I asked her to help me into the office. There, I laid down on the floor. The hard, cold floor. I had hoped that this would let my spine and muscles relax while keeping everything straight. After 15 minutes, several people checking on me (so they could call me idiot, too), and no change, the realization hit me hard. In 20 years of working, I was a worker's comp claim.
I called my wife and had her come and take me to the clinic. Still in excruciating pain, I suffered through waiting for the doctor. I knew what he would say. "You strained a muscle. Idiot." In truth, I would not have even gone, except I knew this would get me out of work for at least a couple of days as well as something that would MAKE THE PAIN GO AWAY!
We go to the first Walgreen's we can find, and Kat goes in while I try to figure out how I would exist in the uncomfortable car seat waiting for the prescription to be filled. I also realized it was after 1 pm and was hungry. When she got back, we headed for my favorite Chinese restaurant. It happened to be in the same area.
We sat down in a booth, ordered, and I took some medicine. Kat went to the restroom and I tried willing the medicine to burst out of my stomach and directly to back. I had just settled into the least painful position I could find, when Kat came back. She wanted to sit beside me. I wanted her to go to the other side. She got her way, and sat close and held me. I could only think that she must really like seeing me in pain, and wanted a close-up view. I looked at her and she met my eyes. Then she said, "I'm pregnant."
On Tuesday morning at dawn, the prisoner was awakened from a restful slumber, led to the gallows and hanged. And the prisoner never expected it.
Yes, I know that this is a strange parallel. But bear with me. You see, we had tried having a child earlier. There were issues, including an ectopic pregnancy as well as the loss of one ovary. The embryo had formed outside the womb, even outside of the fallopian tube. The doctor had to go inside and remove the embryo. While there, she noted one of the ovaries was not normal. I had to make the decision while Kat was under whether or not to remove the ovary. Toughest. Decision. I. Ever. Made.
Babies went on the back burner after that. Kat decided to finish college and try graduate school. This led us to New Orleans, then Orlando. That's where the subject of babies came up again.
So here we go, with worse-case scenarios running through my head. Does this one ovary produce eggs? Does it fire one each month, or is it every other month? If it's been every month, has it depleted its supply? Will this little baby call me an idiot?
Even then, knowing that we were just beginning this adventure, I did not expect results so quickly!
It seems that Kat had a feeling that very morning. She was certain, but when she went in to Walgreen's she bought a pregnancy test. Then, while at the restaurant, she took the test in the restroom. She knew she could not wait to tell me, so she came directly to me right then.
But she got an unexpected reaction. I was so focused on my pain and hunger, I was sitting there in stunned silence. Then I said, "You couldn't wait until I was in a better state of mind?"
Looks like everyone was right. I was an idiot that day. And I never expected any of it.