Monday, December 20, 2004


Things are starting to look up. Thanks to UC changing pay days, we're dead broke (after Christmas it looks like we'll get a windfall).

My daughter needed two dentist visits in the last four days which helped bleed us dry but otherwise it's been washing and feeding. I'll try to post again if they ever go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Getting Over Crisis A

My last exam is over and it doesn't look so certain that I'll get a divorce (I was looking for apartments last week).

It does look like I'll have a new kid to take care of (not through basic biology). I'll post again when I get facts straight myself.
Smashing Goldfish

Cecil Adam's explains why fish don't crash into the sides of their tanks despite the lack of binocular vision.

I'm not sure if my goldfish lacks this sense or just enjoys pain. He slams into the sides and lid of his aquarium on a daily basis. I have a large skull in the bottom of the tank and within a day or two after I clean the tank, he has it knocked over.

I never intended to have a goldfish but my step-daughter brought home a bucketful of tadpoles a few years ago. As they metamorphed into frogs, I noticed a tiny fish swimming with them. My wife, a biology major, informed me that it couldn't be a goldfish even though the water came from a pond full of koi. Within a few weeks, it grew into an obvious goldfish and ate the remaining tadpoles. He's lasted for several years, much longer than the fish I bought or won in festival contests.

According to the lists of facts that people feel compelled to e-mail around (which usually include blatant lies like "duck's quacks don't echo and no one knows why"), goldfish can only remember things for three seconds. This fish remembers that when his light is turned on that it's feeding time and surfaces for his breakfast. He's either very smart, a mutant, or you can't believe the goofy crap that people e-mail you.
Moral Centers of Oedipus, Othello, and Death of a Salesman

I gave my Intro. to Lit. students a choice of a take-home test and included a moral center question. There's no consensus to Death of a Salesman, but Tirerias and Cassio are the two main choices for the other plays.

Cassio seems too much of an obvious choice (and Iago does play him for a sap) but Tirerias works for me.

If you're not familiar with Greek mythology, Tirerias is regarded as one of the greatest (or the absolute greatest) seers ever to have lived. When Odysseus needs psychic help, he heads into Hades to specifically ask his advice.

What neither Sophocles or Homer mention is the source of his powers. It seems that when he was a young man, he took a stroll through the woods. On the way, he saw two snakes having sex. For some reason (perhaps he was an early incarnation of Phil Burress), this offended him and he struck the female snake dead.

The spirits of the woods were angered and for this destruction of female sexuality, they transformed Tirerias into a woman. A bit put off at first, he/she returned to society, married, and gave birth to several children.

She still enjoyed woodland hikes and in her later years took another walk through the woods. Again she saw two snakes having sex and, not learning a damn thing, she struck the male snake dead in disgust. The spirits changed her back into a man but with the breasts of an older woman.

What his/her husband and kids thought of this was never recorded but Zeus and Hera took an interest in him/her. Zeus had argued that women enjoyed sex more than men. Hera arguing just the opposite, obviously never having experienced or witnessed a woman's orgasm herself.

Since Tirerias had experience with both sorts, he was brought in as a judge. His answer, "For every pleasure a man feels, a woman has nine-fold," infuriated Hera and she blinded him. Zeus, happy to be proven right but slightly guilty over causing Tirerias's misfortune, gave him the power of foresight with the power of prophecy even greater than that granted by Apollo.

I mention this in class to various reactions but it's funny that even in a Red State, a pagan transexual can be thought of as moral.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I've been meaning to create a link to this (and a million other things) for a long while.

If you plan on submitting your poetry to a contest, check here first.
Michael Crichton Attacks Global Warming

Crichton's new book, State of Fear, features environmentalists who control the weather in an attempt to kill millions of people. Why? To make the public believe that global warming is real, although Crichton knows it is not.

Crichton also includes "facts" about cannibals (if you read Congo, you know that he has a thing for man-beef). I have to wonder if anyone read his claims and thought, "Why aren't there any white cannibals?"

I'm not going to buy this book, not because of its message, but because years ago while reading Lost World, I realized, "This guy is a terrible writer." I'm sure that his book is no more moronic than The Day After Tomorrow but sadly many readers are under the impression that Crichton knows what he's talking about.
Argument on 275

A while back, a former student of mine (and Wes) was killed in a car accident.

It looks like another of my students (same name and area) was involved in a nonfatal but very strange accident.

It's depressing enough when they make you feel old. Reading bad news about an old student is even worse.
Concert Shooting

I've found some quotes about the murder of Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott. (Reuters for whatever reason saw fit to include them under the "Oddly Enough" section.)

"Dimebag was a dear friend of mine. I'm absolutely beside myself with grief. I can't for the life of me understand why someone would do this. Pantera toured with me many many times. I'll always remember the signed guitar that he gave me at my 50th birthday party." Ozzy Osbourne.

"It's a sad day when being such a good guitar player can get you killed. Metal will never be the same." Dan Jacobs of Atreyu.

"As a guitar player he was a true innovator. His sound tone and style shaped modern metal and his riffs are constantly referenced by nearly every band in metal including my own. Only recently did I have the pleasure of hanging out with him on a personal level and he was as genuine and down to earth as anyone you would ever meet." Mark Morton of Lamb of God.

Some violent crimes are shocking but you can understand them on some level. When Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon 24 years ago, it was a sick crime but Chapman's twisted worldview at least gave some reason why he did it. Even with other crimes in which the killers died--Columbine, Heaven's Gate, Charles Whitman, even the September 11 terrorists--you got some impression why they did it.

A few years back, in Dan Quayle's hometown, a nut castrated several men and kept their testicles in pickle jars in his apartment. No one's really explained that one either.

I'm not condoning "understandable" violence but on some level it's less disturbing.
Nude Students

I can see this happening at NKU. Especially in the winter.

Of course, there's a down-side.
Fraternity Tortures/Kills Possums

"It was just like an Iraqi prison," surviving opossum tells the press.
Best Friend the Church Ever Had

The Vatican is going after Satan. And this time, it's personal.
Against His Will?

Yes, doctors can be evil, idiotic, and/or arrogant. But I wonder about this case. Just what was left out of this article?

As a bonus, it might make GOP lawmakers pause in their attempts to cap malpractice payouts.
Sleep Rape

I'm praying this is a sick joke. At the very least, it happened in Norway.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Evils of Reefer

"Because of my age, I can't party with the big guys anyway. I haven't seriously smoked pot in years." Tommy Chong, 66, who is taking a role in the off-Broadway show "The Marijuana-Logues" after serving nine months in prison for selling a bong, in the New York Post.

Can anyone argue hat marijuana is the worst threat to American freedom since King George? It only took fifty years of smoking to slow down Tommy Chong. According to Rodney Dangerfield's biography, he began smoking pot at age 21 which almost immediately killed him sixty-one years later.
Very Good Year

The production of alcohol is recognized by many cultures as what separates us from the animals (consumption is not enough--many species recognize and seek out fermented fruit). Most pantheons of gods--Greek, Celtic, Aztec, to name a few--have at least one party god of booze. In the epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu the wild man is brought into human society by alcohol (and a prostitute). Christ's first miracle was a biblical beer run.

It looks like we've been at it for longer than we've thought.
I'm Crushed

Bugs Bunny lied to me?

Sometimes I hear things that challenge my established beliefs and I want to reject them. Other times I think, "Well, duh."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Alien Porn

Proposal to communicate with extraterrestrials. Might not go over well on the planet of the CCV.
We Forgot

I'm not surprised at all that the British have forgotten that unpleasantness a few decades back.

If I mention Dr. Mengele in class, students have no idea what I'm talking about. I try to explain and they say, "Cool, what movie was he in?"
Bush Arrested

Sometimes I think satire should be labeled so that the humor-deficient won't mistake it for reality (e.g. idiots pointing to Onion articles as proof that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft). Snopes is reporting that this (and a more convincing fake CNN page)"fooled more than a few unsuspecting web surfers"

Friday, December 03, 2004

Bunch of Book Reviews

I'm leaving for my final class at Clermont College in a couple of minutes but I've added several book reviews.

Anybody read something that they'd recommend?
Carolyn Wyman's Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat.

I'm not sure why I checked this out but this book gives the skinny on 46 types of processed food/drink/semi-digestibles including Twinkies, Pringles, Kool-Aid, Cheez Whiz, Clamato, and Tang.

Apparently Pringles gets its name from a street in Finneytown.

Clamato is 99.9% clam-free.

Ataullah Durani, the inventor of Minute Rice, was a member of the Afghan royal family and became a star in Hollywood. He gave up the royal and acting life to experiment on rice.

Jim Jones did not use Kool Aid for the Jonestown Massacre. Apparently he was too cheap to spring for the real stuff and gave his followers grape Flavor Aid (at least according to Kool Aid execs).

Lawyers stopped Screw Magazine from publishing photos of Pillsbury's Poppin' Fresh Doughboy enjoying "lovin' from the oven" (after David Souter's 1994 Supreme Court decision protecting parody, you could get away with it today).

Lipton Cup-a-Soup was used in the first fatal case of food tampering with a packet of chicken noodle soup laced with cyanide in 1986 (I'm not sure how they figured this—obviously food has been poisoned in the past but this must have been the first known case when someone did it in a store to a random stranger).

According to Michael J. Weiss's Latitudes and Attitudes, consumption of Twinkies is linked to diets of bacon, malt liquor, and bacon (as well as the consumer enjoying professional wrestling, country music, and chewing tobacco).

Discontinued Jell-O flavors include celery, mixed vegetables,, coffee, cola, bubble gum, cinnamon, and Italian salad.

General Foods created Pop-Tarts while working on a moist non-spoiling dog food.

Hawaiian Punch had such a small advertising budget that when it premiered they only had enough money for one television commercial during the Tonight Show. Jack Paar was so amazed by Punchy's antics that he ran the commercial repeatedly for free, boosting sales through the roof.

It's heavily illustrated--See the evolution of the Kool Aid packet over the years, starting with an old newspaper style 1930s version offering "10 Glasses . . . [of] Sherbet" to the obnoxious Kool Aid Man of today. See junk food ads from the 1920s. See a photo of the original Beer Nuts factory. See George and Gracie hawking Spam.

If you have any taste at all, avoid this book. I couldn't put it down.
Rodney Dangerfield's It's Not Easy Being Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs

I'm not an authority on celebrity biographies but this was well worth the time. A few weeks back, I had to quit reading a book about Stan Lee and the business operations of Marvel Comics because it destroyed everything I'd imagined about Marvel and Lee. (A hardcore atheist might tell me to face the ugly truth but Stan Lee's facade gave my otherwise sad life a shot of comfort. And besides you never hear about acts of terrorism based on the belief of superheroes.)

Dangerfield's life was miserable at points but he could make child abuse and invasive heart surgery sound funny. Dangerfield (or technically Jack Roy) retired from show business and had to work in alinimum siding sales for 12 years. Against the odds, he made a comeback and along the way helped many other comedians get their breaks.

I met someone from a Film Commission who claimed that Rodney was a pain to work with. I don't know if that's true and I don't want to find out. Until fanatics start bombing schoolbuses in the name of Rodney, I'm happy to take him at face value.

More material at
Alex MacCormick, ed. The Mammoth Book of Maneaters. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003.

Entertaining and disgusting books which claims:

Hunter S. Thompson was bitten in the crotch by an alligator in October of 1997, during a tour of The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters.

In Papua New Guinea two fishermen bled to death after a fish described similar to a piranha bit off their penises in June 2001. Supposedly, the fish follows the scent of urine

Monday August 17, 1888, a woman named Kate Duane, living in Glasgow left her baby in the cradle and returned to find a pig eating its face.

Hampshire, Englang: 18-year old Jordan Lazelle was hospitalized after kissing his pet Black Emperor scorpion named Twiggy. Said Lazelle, "I've kissed Twiggy goodnight hundreds of times without any problem. Obviously he just wasn't in the mood." To no one's surprise, police report that alcohol was involved.

And finally, a religious ruling that we can all agree with: Father Thomas Gonzales, a priest in Santiago, commented on a plane crash in which the survivors resorted to eating the dead, "In the case on board the Uruguayan aircraft, the most useful thing for these human bodies was to nourish the survivors. The dead, therefore, accomplished their mission, and there is no theological opposition in this case."
R. Gary Patterson's Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses

Not a bad book but Patterson uses "ironically" in place of "coincedentally" every chance he gets. Did you know [spooky voice]
that Robert Johnson died August 16, 1938, the same date as Babe Ruth and Elvis? (Patterson links dates in the life of Johnson to everyone involved with rock.) Did you know that Aleister Crowley is linked to everyone who ever picked up a guitar? That the Illuminati were founded by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria on May 1, 1776 which links them to everything from the American Revolution to the death of Tupac.

Some other facts:

There's a lot of material on Anton LaVey who it turns out died October 29, 1997 but his followers [L. Ron-eque] tried to withhold the news until October be more devilish. Reading excerpts of LaVey's writing made me remember writer/professor Austin Wright's comment on narrative styles: "Exclamation points are for wimps." LaVey couldn't write a check without sticking a few dozen exclamation points on it.

Bob Dornan introduced House Bill 6363 which wanted to label suspect albums with "Warning: This record contains backward masking that makes a verbal statement which is audible when this record is played backward and which may be perceptible at a subliminal level when the record is played forward." Among the other silliness, wouldn't that be "subaural," not "subliminal"?

Testifying on behalf of the bill was a woman identified only as "Elaine" who said "I was, for 17 years, a servant of Satan. . . I attended special ceremonies at varying recording studios throughout the U.S. for the specific purpose of placing Satanic blessings on the rock music recorded. We did incantations which placed demons on every record and tape of rock music that was sold. At times we also called up special demons who spoke on the recording—the various back masked messages." Does this mean that there are still demons on some of my old records that I haven't played for years? Do demons have a shelf life?

Mark David Chapman led church youth-groups in a parody of John Lennon's Imagine which began "Imagine there's no John Lennon."

Young Deaths of Musicians (and some other famous people I could think of):

Ritchie Valens 17

Joan of Arc 19

Buddy Holly 22

John Keats 25
Tupac Shakur 25

Robert Johnson 27
Brian Jones (found of the Rolling Stones) 27
Jimi Hendrix 27
Janis Joplin 27
Jim Morrison 27
Kurt Cobain 27

J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson 28

Percy Shelley 29

Alexander the Great 33
Jesus 33 (traditional)
John Belushi 33
Chris Farley 33

Lord Byron 36

I'm sure there's many more but I'm not sure what to google this under.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Dogs and Cats Living in Sin

I worked in legal editing for eight years and, while many municipalities over-regulate zoning laws, in general they're a good and necessary thing (if you disagree, try sinking your life-savings into a house then have a neighbor start a pig farm).

Here's a case where local officials just couldn't stop playing God.
Lion-Killing Mule

I haven't linked to Snopes for a while but here's a new picture of what appears to be a mule killing a mountain lion.

Example of the importance of hyphens: "Lion killing mule" means "a lion is killing a mule." "Lion-killing mule" means "a mule is killing a lion."
Believing in Santa

Via Museum of Hoaxes, British study finds that belief in Santa is linked to good behavior. Experience bears this out.
Let Me Try This Again

Was I back in business a few days ago? Apparently not. I'm all but finished with Clermont College for the quarter so I'll get something of a break. (Thanksgiving was my first scheduled day off since September 22.)

Yesterday I took the kids to the library. I have to carry Devilboy or he engages in his favorite hobby of knocking things off shelves. As I was holding him, he suddenly reached out and jammed his fingers in my eye socket. It didn't go deep but he pushed down so his fingernails got stuck in the tissue below my right eye. I had to yank them out. As the bottom of my eye started to swell over, I realized that he'd either knocked out my contact or torn my cornea.

I felt around my eye and the contact wasn't anywhere. Still holding him, I started sweeping across the floor in the area I was standing. An old man wearing biker shorts was close by but thankfully he moved.

After several sweeps, I was ready to give up. I'm legally blind in the right eye and I have to special order my contacts so this would have cost a bundle before Christmas. Then I thought to check the shelves.

It was sitting on one of the lower shelves between two books. If it had been a few inches farther back, I never would have found it. By this point it was bone dry and I had to use spit to work it back in.

I needed both hands to put it back so I set down Devilboy for a second. By the time I was finished, he was out of sight. I ran around until I found him trying to climb the video shelves. He was laughing.

His sister was looking for books the whole time. I guess one out of two isn't bad.