Observation for Now

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

-- Kurt Vonnegut

And now ...

And now ...

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Great State Capitol of Oklahoma

Some of you may know that I work for the State of Oklahoma.  Over the past few years there have been extensive office renovations going on.  Part of that involved a HUGE space in the north hallway on the 5th Floor of the Capitol building.  Here’s an article about it.  The reason this link is to a Tulsa World article instead of a comparable article in the (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman is because the Oklahoman article webpage contains an obnoxious video ad that plays audio, and you, gentle reader, do not deserve the insult.

Now, this photo was taken in the northwest corner of this big Senate meeting room.  If you look at the two people on the right edge of the photo, behind them is the north-south hallway that runs south towards the center of the Capitol.

This rough diagram demonstrates the location of the Meeting Room, and a food prep room next to it.

In the photo above, the fellow with the flag in the foreground is facing north.  Now look at the circled doorway in the middle of that photo.  That doorway leads into a prep room/kitchen.  It is in the Prep Room that our story took place.

In this photo of the Prep Room, the doors on the right being held shut with blue tape are the same ones that are shown open in the circled area in the top photo.

This photo was taken from the Prep Room corner towards the area in the foreground of the top photo.  See the American flag in the background?  That’s the one being positioned in the foreground of the top photo.


My story is a tale of the months before the area was finished, when I played a strange (and VERY ENJOYABLE) game of one-upsmanship with an anonymous construction worker or two.

Now, in the photo of the finished Prep Room, the photographer is standing with their back to an eastward-facing window.  Well, that window used to be very dusty.  So dusty, in fact, that people started drawing in the dust, kind of like kids write “WASH ME” in the dust on a car.

What’s that you see drawn in the window dust?  Let’s look at the window a little more closely.  But let’s take it step by step, because that’s what my tale is all about!

One night, while making rounds, I saw that somebody had drawn something like a deer skull in the bottom pane of the window.

Something like the above.  (It was later wiped out by somebody, not me of course.)

So, one night, for fun, I drew something in the dust in the top pane of the window.

This is what a drew.  And guess what!?! A few days later, somebody drew something in the dust, next to my S Shield!

Yup, somebody liked Batman, I guess!

Well, this was so much fun that the game was on!  I drew another symbol in reply ….

That’s supposed to be the Flash’s insignia.  I gave you the real thing for comparison.

Well, a week later, my unknown Super Friend had made his comeback …

 So the next week, when I smiled at the fine Green Lantern logo my buddy had left, I was running out of Superhero logos that I could draw in the dust freehand.  So, I admit shamefacedly,  I was forced to leave the DC stable …

Once again I am giving you “the real thing,” in case you couldn’t tell that it was Spider-Man’s emblem I was trying to draw.

TO WRAP UP THE STORY …  A few days later, my Secret Pen Pal proposed a triumphant comeback that probably can’t be topped … not in this hyar neck of the woods ...

Below is the entire photo that was cropped to yield the close-ups above:

 Sadly, a few weeks later the time came when I made my evening rounds and discovered that the litter of construction was gone; carpets were laid; and, darn it, windows were cleaned.  Now, I’ll never know who my secret window graffiti pal was, but it was fun over the month or more that our game lasted!

Here’s another angle of the window.  How that tubby guy got into the reflection, I don’t know!

See you next Monday.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Celebrating the Wonders of Past Come-Ons

 Mommy, can I have a dinosaur?  It looks like a plant-eater.  Surely it'll eat less than that pony I've been asking for!

I tend to think that there might be a lot more takers to wear free clothes nowadays ... except it's so hard for the mailman to find the right alley and cardboard box.  If only this could solve the clothing shortage!
 Seeing a guy in a strange suit pouring a blood-red decoction and claiming it's "Miracle Aid" seems a little sacrilegious.  The "instant" part sounds like an additional jab at my Catholic friends.

 A 1966 ad for a teen-oriented comic shows another facet of the "grown-ups don't get it" conundrum.  Maybe the creepiest part is Sylvester, who loves having Scooter as his "disco-buddy."

The limerick may be a little lame, but I still say that the world can never have enough Go-Go Checks.

Now we know the origin of all of those bad Groucho-Marx glasses!  Alternatively, if Roy Kroc had not bought one of these machines back in 1966, the world wouldn't now be overrun with about 13 billion crappy plastic toys.  Once in a McDonald's Happy Meals box -- forever under your bare foot at two in the morning!

See you next Monday.  Stay silly!  After all, our elected officials might need someone to take up the slack!


Monday, April 07, 2014

Amazon, You're Silly. Go Home Now

Amazon has lots of fine services, you betcha.  But their "you might like this" algorithm sometimes spits out suggestions that are kind of silly.

For example, a waterproof digital thermometer might be handy, but what does one of these have to do with the fact that I edited/rated a book about the STAR TREK TV series?  Did my review get me into hot water with somebody?  (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk)

 For a Halloween outfit, I bought some "Jake the Dog from Adventure Time glasses" -- but that doesn't mean I wear the them as a nose filter when I'm painting the house.  Alternately, unless Jake the Dog is supposed to be BLUE, I can't see needing this to help in my costume.

William J Dowlding's Beatlesongs is a fine book with tons of fun tit-bits about the development and background of Beatles songs.  But look at these six suggestions from Amazon, all based on the fact that I told Amazon I own a copy!

I guess if I'm smart enough to like Beatles music, I must want to know about data Information Systems; need to learn more about the US Constitution (although, seriously, you can never know ENOUGH about the backbone of our freedom); learn about Charles Baudelaire, the decadent French poet/writer; and other political stuff.

The only rationale I can come up with is, maybe Beatlesongs is used as a textbook somewhere, which trips a relational circuit in Amazon's "suggested for you" thingie.

See you next Monday with some skewed observations for this Silly April month.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Book Review - These Are the Voyages: TOS 2, by Marc Cushman

            As with Volume I,  here’s a primary resource from this date forward.  It’s for anybody who wants to know about the original STAR TREK.  

            This book plunges to DNA-depth into Season Two, from plot outlines and early drafts to casting and post-production; from Nielsen ratings to fan actions and reactions.

            It’s full of excerpts from hundreds of books, articles, and maybe a hundred interviews with the crew and the cast, guest stars, and creators.

            Marc Cushman started these labors of love decades ago, encouraged by Gene Roddenberry and Bob Justman, who gave him access to personal and studio files.  Cushman went through the  raw materials and lays out about a gazillion bits of new or perhaps-forgotten info.  Just about everything about Season Two of STAR TREK is covered in here; it will engage and fascinate you! 

            You really must read this book, if you love STAR TREK.  It’s also a deep depiction of TV production in the 1960s, and the typical “establishment” mindset of NBC:  “My mind is made up, so don’t confuse me with the facts.”  Some of the things NBC had made its mind up was that STAR TREK was a kiddie show whose budget could be systematically pared with no detriment to what was onscreen.  There are numerous memos laying out the network’s desire for stories on exotic planets; but would they authorize sufficient money to pay for those faraway, strange-looking places?  Perish the thought.

            You’ll read this book with the kind of wonder you feel when you think about your grandparents having survived the Great Depression.  How could so much have been accomplished, given so few resources?  In STAR TREK ’s case, much of it was inspiration or (dare I say?) genius.  In an example of the “new planets” dilemma, why not keep the “sky” on the planet set a neutral color, and paint the background with light?  Sounds simple -- yet it hadn’t been done on television before.

            Cushman gives us wonderful personal reminiscences and technical details; reflections from the present day, and specific newspaper articles from the times.  We get the genesis, development, and final disposition of every episode, and other chapters that discuss creators, fans, and other topics

            You really need to dive into this book, if you care about the Galaxy the Great Bird created.

           You can find the book at its publishers' website here.  If you look for it on Amazon, they say it's not yet available.  Also, Amazon shows a different cover image from the one above, which was sent to me by the author labeled "FINAL."

UPDATE:  This is the absolutely FINAL FINAL cover image, according to Marc.  It's also the one shown on Amazon:


           READ THIS BOOK!

            TRUTH IN REVIEWING:  I am one of the editors of this book.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Magnetel, the Game That's Swell! From Mattel!

I was about nine or ten when we got a Magnetel.  It was a pretty neat game.  You could play pool, bumper pool, and such.  The yellow and black discs were magnetized so you could also hang them on your car's dashboard or your mom's fridge.

A few weeks ago I got out the ol' friend and introduced it to a new generation.  Jazra and I played a few games for old times' sake.

Beware the Magnetel Pool Shark!

One of the neatest things about Magnetel was the spring-loaded cue sticks.  Especially because you could stand it on one end, pull down the housing, and let loose.  The compressed spring would make it shoot up into the air a foot or so.  Instant rocket!

And here are the instructions.

Friday, March 28, 2014

MA-18 - Goin' Fission!: Pop & Rock with a Long Half-Life

Oh, the joys of clip art!  I hope my combination of elements has created a wistful whole.

Yup, it's an early entry in my series of compilations of pop, country, rock, (etc ... ) music about nuclear war, nuclear anxiety, and better living through radioactivity.

1    Jesus Is the First Line of Defense     Pilgrim Travellers   1951
2   Atomic Kisses       Earney Vandagriff       1955
3   Hydrogen Bomb       The Laurels      1961
4   The War Drags On       Mick Softley    1965
5   Atom and Evil       General Electric    1966
6   Please Don't Drop That H-Bomb on Me Country Joe & The Fish 1967
7 Wooden Ships Jefferson Airplane 1969
8 Political Science Randy Newman 1972
9 Nuclear Babies Oingo Boingo 1980
10 Let's All Make a Bomb Heaven 17 1981
11 Run Like a Villain Iggy Pop 1982
12 World Suicide Defuser   1983
13 Uranium Rock The Cramps    1983
14 Surfin' USSR Ray Stevens    1988
15 The Bomb Lifesavers Underground 1992
16 Atomic Power Uncle Tupelo 1994
17 The Bomb Inside the Bomb We Are Scientists 2002
18 Nuclear Blues Frances Plante-Scott 2004
19 Bomb.Repeat.Bomb.1954 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists    2007
20 Atomic Bomb Brian Butler    2008
21 Atom and Evil Heaven and Hell 2009
22 Atom Bomb Blues The Naptown Jug Busters 2009

Well, I hope this Berlin Wall of Noise edifies you as much as me.

See you next week!

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