comedy, spew

Is it safe?

A swift recovery from today’s dentist visit to fill two cavities. To my surprise, it was the least-unpleasant such procedure I’ve ever undergone. By far.

I traditionally have a swift and specific reaction to the effects of novocaine: equal parts panic and nausea. But today was the first time I had my own music available on headphones for the duration.

After skipping through some plaintive Radiohead and introspective R.E.M., I realized what I really needed was the post-modernist accompaniment of a previous decade’s high melodrama. Cue Alexander Courage’s 1965 soundtrack for—what else?—Star Trek‘s second pilot episode.

wherenomanhasgone181It worked better than I’d hoped. Space-opera suspense functioned amazingly well to satirize the sight of a masked, lab-coated professional leaning in to mutilate, then repair a tiny portion of my deadened head. Thanks to the serendipitous timing of two practitioners separated by almost half a century (and possibly half a planet), I found I had to work hard to not bust out laughing at least twice during the procedure, and entirely forgot to feel either panic or nausea once the music pitched up into the danger, mystery, and terror of old-style action-adventure network television. Even the arch dialog associated with some of the musical cues worked to my advantage.

I try very hard to make other people laugh when circumstances permit. Today I found a way to do that for myself, the ability for which I’m grateful to every actor or comedian I’ve ever admired or tried to emulate.

family, storytelling

Finest kind.

It’s been a couple of days since my smarter half had the opportunity to briefly interview the incomparable Alan Alda for her employer. I was happy to assist with the nominal tech necessary to capture audio of the conversation. The interview went well, and he graciously gave her double the fifteen minutes she’d been promised.

I could barely contain my glee, skulking in the next room while trying to overhear the back-and-forth. To say I am enormously proud of her ability and erudite charm is to fall short of the reality.

A link to the interview itself will be appended here once it’s up.

UPDATE: And here it is.

family, spew, theater


My immigrant mother didn’t understand Halloween, and so I wasn’t raised to participate in it. She hated the full evening of apartment-doorbell noise, and I mostly lost out on experiencing a bit of kid socialization. I bought into her irritation because I had no idea what I was missing.

Too many years later, I realized it was kind of fun to roll some dice and pretend to be someone else in a game for a few hours. Then, even more years later, I realized I got an even bigger kick out of dressing up and pretending to be someone else onstage for a couple of hours.

Don’t waste your kids’ time filling them full of your bullshit.

politics, science

We chose to go to the Moon.

I was nine. The space program was a reason for me to have optimism about the crazy, chaotic world I’d been born into. It encouraged my interest in science and the future. A huge national effort of engineering and planning devoted to something other than someone else’s idiotic war.

This was the reason America had been founded. This was what we were supposed to be about: solving enormous technical problems, striving to reach places we’d never seen, hoping to learn things about the universe. Nothing to do with killing millions of people over ancient bullshit land grabs.

I watch “From the Earth to the Moon” every two or three years. For several hours I revel in the memory of a time when I was part of a culture that took pride in accomplishing things that bettered all our lives—not just those of a few billionaires.

And then the final episode’s end title leaves me crying uncontrollably for the end of my wonderful space program, and for the end of my optimism. I grieve for both in a way I never have for any human being.

family, politics


USRadiumGirls-Argonne1,ca1922-23-150dpiFrom a March 12th Rachel Maddow report, I just learned of a whole other group of people who underwent slow occupational poisoning from a watchmaking activity very similar to the one that eventually did in my dad. Decades before he succumbed to illness brought about by watch-cleaning solvent poisoning, young women were killing themselves with the radium paint being used on watch faces. All done with a tiny brush that needed to stay pointy for detailed work.


What more, in the name of love?

The writer linked here sets out to examine a very real problem (the darker side of “Do What You Love” career advice), but draws too many initial conclusions from a noticeably selective interpretation of one famous man’s accomplishments. Mention of whom is almost certain to guarantee page views on a for-profit magazine’s web site.

The first half of this article is a careless conflation of selective paraphrases of a speech Steve Jobs once made (from which Ms. Tokumitsu omits exhortations of the value of hard work, which Jobs never avoided) with the broader marketplace of Chinese contract manufacturing and declining salaries for American middle-class knowledge workers. Blame is assigned to elitist privilege in a meandering attempt to find the origin of a very real decline in the value our culture and our business class assign to work.

She finally gets to the point about halfway through the piece. But she’s still avoiding what I understood was Jobs’ original intent in saying “DWYL”: find something you love to do enough to get good at it. Do it well enough so you can make a living off it. Yes, that still originates from a point of privilege and romanticized notions of how much leisure time remains in the lives of a shrinking middle class, but it’s not quite as tunnel-visioned as the article attempts to suggest.

H/T to Kellie M. Walsh for finding this article.