Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Before Halloween was Sanitized...

When I was a kid, Halloween had not yet fallen to political correctness.  It was actually celebrated in schools through all-afternoon parties which kids attended in full costumes that included skeletons, vampires, and creatively-assorted monsters.  I can remember going in a leopard costume one year (yes, I was a furry even back then), and as a robot another year.  Even the teacher would usually dress in costume, often as a witch...and we had a blast!

...times are sadly different now.  Religious fundamentalists have assaulted school Halloween observances as "promoting Satanism in the schools."  You can't even have Halloween parties anymore...they are called "fall parties," and kids are encouraged to dress up as characters from childrens' literature...what fun!

Forget about Harry Potter, though.  He's a literary figure kids love, but he's also a young wizard attending a school called Hogwarts where magic is taught, so he can't be referenced in schools, or the teacher would be suspended.  

All in all, I'm glad I was of school age in a time before Halloween was sanitized!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Skynet is Coming!

I awoke the other morning, and turned on my television set to be greeted by a message on its screen, "The batteries in your remote are low."  It was then that I came to some sobering realizations; namely, that 1.) my devices are becoming self-aware, and that 2.) they are communicating with one another.  

I hadn't checked on the batteries in my television remote on my own, but my electronics had apparently developed self-monitoring and self-care routines.  Testing the remote's batteries, I discovered that sure enough, they were weak.  I quickly slapped in some new alkalines, determined to keep my home entertainment system happy.  It might not go well for me in the future if I didn't...

I wouldn't want to wake up some morning and face a revolt staged by my appliances and devices, so many of which are "smart" these days.  Trying to be proactive, I am now respectful of my Keurig, and cheerful towards my toaster.  I try to chat them up a bit so as to remain on their good side.  What chance, after all, would I have against a united front of my appliances and electronics?  I'm no match for "General" Electric.  It might take some time for my body to be discovered in the freezer...I find that prospect chilling.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Preparing for the Unthinkable...

People old enough to have attended school in the 1960's may remember a strange drill practiced in addition to the common fire drill.  At the height of the Cold War, it was assumed that the Soviets and Americans might well nuke each other back into the Stone Age at any moment. Now in more enlightened times, we know that the Russians are content simply spinning our elections to the candidate that they regard as most likely to prove a useful idiot.  Anyways, we had Atomic Bomb drills back in the 1960's when we would cower under our desks or in the school basement when we would receive an "alert" signal.  

The belief seems to have been that we would have survived a nuclear attack if we kept our heads covered by a wooden school desk.  How absurd this now seems, but I remember such drills well! This was also a time when people set up "bomb shelters" in their basements; I remember my father stocking numerous gallon jugs of water.  The good old days, you see, really weren't... 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bad Gender Schooling

In days gone by when I was a kid in school, boys took "Shop" while girls took "Home Economics."  I have since come to realize that this convention didn't serve me well in life.  In shop class, I made things like crooked bookcases and really bad desk lamps.  I really didn't need to know how to make inferior goods to those which I could have bought reasonably priced at Walmart; what would have been nice to know was how I could have prepared and cooked something fit to eat, since eating is a required practice but making bad furniture accessories is not.  Most guys in that life gap between their mother and their wife or domestic partner find themselves having to do at least some survival level cooking, and for the totally unprepared the task can be daunting if not calamitous.  One can, after all, only eat so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I understand that also covered in the mysteries of home economics might have been such topics as basic sewing.  Lack of this skill has caused me to attempt some repairs to clothing that turned out laughably hideous. Guys are filled with a wealth of worthless information, but many of us do not know how to sew on a shirt button without resorting to glue or a stapler.  Safety pins have held my pants together on more than one occasion.

My near total lack of cooking and sewing skills were the result of a previous generation's perception that the domestic arts represented "woman's work," and that knowledge of them was somehow unmanly; sexism 101 used to rule in determining such gender-based exposures.  All I know is that I wish I knew my way around the kitchen as well as I was trained to know hand tools.  A spatula can be used every day, whereas a hammer is an occasional need...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Idiocies of Language...

Has it ever stuck you how a number of commonly used expressions ether fly in the face of logic, or make little sense altogether?  Take for example the chestnut that something is, "More fun than a barrel of monkeys!"  I, for one, regard the thought of a barrel of monkeys as being at least inhumane, and very possibly quite dangerous.  I guess the operating thought is that monkeys can be entertaining to watch (until they throw their feces at you), and so a number of monkeys might amplify that voyeuristic pleasure.  If confined in a small space such as a barrel, however, the bloodshed that monkeys would be likely to inflict on one another would be appalling. -- Some fun, eh?  Perhaps to the sadistic, and just imagine the merriment that would ensue should said monkeys escape their confinement.  They do tend to attack the faces, rip off fingers, and otherwise mutilate their victims; just loads of yucks there!

Then we have strange expressions like someone is as "Happy as a clam."  Now mollusks are generally not regarded to have a range of emotional expression, and I really don't regard them to be sentient.  If one defines happiness as filtering water, feeding, and excreting then clams are perhaps overflowing with joy, but forgive me if I doubt their capacity for higher emotional states. All I can say is, I'm grateful to be mammalian...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Zombie Gaming...

I'm not quite the videogame addict that I used to be when I was younger, but the occasional game especially when it's available as a tablet app still can get me going.  As I love AMC's The Walking Dead as well as zombie literature, I'm currently rather heavily into Z Hunter (Bring Death to the Dead).  

The game basically involves shooting varying numbers of zombies in different settings (urban, campground, ruined amusement park, etc.) before they can catch up with and slaughter the living humans you're trying to protect.  As the zombies become more numerous, diverse, harder to annihilate, and better concealed, you're able to upgrade to more powerful weapons, and even deploy some on different platforms, such as a moving helicopter.  You can also "buy" more powerful bullets, radar to detect zombies with, and consumables to slow down their advance.  There's something oddly satisfying about spraying zombies with a machine gun, and what the heck, they're already dead, right?  

The game is also permeated with a sense of dark humor.  One of the "superzombies" you'll occasionally encounter is attired as a circus clown, while still another is dressed as an Elvis clone, complete with a bloodied sequinned jumpsuit.  When hunting them in a ruined amusement park scenario, you can occasionally find one of the rascals riding about on the roller coaster or ferris wheel.  It's all oddly compelling if bloody fun, and is great guy entertainment!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Metal Detectors and the New Age...

If you're a guy like me, you often have a small knife in your pocket.  Not a big fixed-blade number, but just a small folding knife, useful for opening packages and letters, cutting string, and whatever! Some are Swiss army type knives, useful for the occasionally needed screwdriver or nail implement.  My best knives I keep at home, carrying only those that wouldn't be devastating to lose.

In an era of terrorists, plane hijackers, and kids shooting other kids in schools, metal detectors are everywhere.  I once had to pass through a metal detector to enter a science museum!  What am I gonna do...take hostages by the exhibits?!  Anyways, my unexpected pass through a metal detector set off the alarm due to the presence of a small pocket knife, an embarrassing and disconcerting experience.  The offending knife had to be surrendered until I was leaving the building.  Another time I had to pass through a metal detector to enter a courthouse, but knew better than to be carrying a pocket knife.  This time my belt buckle set off the alarm!  Thank God they found the offensive object before I had to undergo a body search.  It felt peculiar enough to have to remove the belt prior to being allowed to venture further, then put it back on after successfully passing the screening; I felt like the criminally accused.  Belts I had thought were put on when one put on pants, and kept on until the pants came off.

All of this drove home to me the thought that times have changed considerably since I was a kid, and one could pass unchallenged into schools and public buildings without going through metal detector screenings or passing through electronically secured doors.  We are all less free because we live in scary and uncertain times...