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TPCQ = Tangential Pop Culture Quote

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Killer Robots & Funky Music 

There's grim news on the killer robot front. Samsung has announced the release of a fully-armed sentry robot, which is
equipped with two cameras with zooming capabilities one for day time and one for infrared night vision. It has a sophisticated pattern recognition which can detect the difference between humans and trees, and a 5.5mm machine-gun. The robot also has a speaker to warn the intruder to surrender or get a perfect headshot. The robots will go on sale by 2007 for $ 200,000 and will be deployed on the border between North and South Korea.
Be sure to check out the inline video. I, for one, welcome our new sentient robotic overlords. Hail HAL!

A New SynCast? Wha!?

I know it's been months since I've done one of these, but there is indeed a new Deviant SynCast, featuring superb music from:
  • Flavor Flav
  • The Perceptionists
  • Mos Def
  • Venetian Snares
  • and more
Check it out and get your SynCast on.


Catfishing (I swear that's really the name) is a fun little distraction: Figure out the Wikipedia page based on the categories it belongs to. I'm at 62% right now.

Today I'm listening to: me!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Changeover 

TPCQ: It's called a changeover. The movie goes on, and nobody in the audience has any idea.

Last night I watched Borat again, since Jesse hadn't seen it. While the faith-healing scene was going on, I began to reflect on the powerful unspoken arrangement that comes out of spontaneous metaphysical performance.

A year or so back, a hypnotist came to the school where I teach and led students and teachers in a hypnosis exercise. I volunteered, and really gave it a shot. Unfortunately for him, the hypnotist used the theme song from Twin Peaks to set the mood, and suddenly all I could think of was Lisa Simpson speaking backwards: "Chief.. Wiggam.. don't eat the .. clues." I was kicked out because I couldn't stop giggling.

Some students (and teachers) were led to do things they probably normally wouldn't. Of course only the people involved know if they really were hypnotized or not; just as in a pentacostal faith revival, only the participants really know if it's a bunch of snake oil, or they're actually being possessed by the holy ghost. Consider a psychic who convinces a heartbroken widow that he can contact her dead husband. These situations all have something in common.

Let's assume that some people go along with the performance because they want to believe that it's happening. An audience member does what they hypnotist says because it's expected -- or the person wants to be the center of attention. The parishoner of a pentacostal ceremony wants to feel the spirit of God coursing through her veins, and everyone else is jumping around, speaking in tongues.

When the audience member goes through with whatever the assumed action is, there is born a profound unspoken bond between him and the person leading the event. They both know they're acting, but they're both in on the theatrical component -- and the key to getting everyone else to go along is the quality of their performance. If either one admits to not "crossing over" (if we may tip something toward John Edwards), then each party stands to lose. So the stagecraft is maintained through a kind of mass-psychology symbiosis.

I'm convinced that we humans believe much of what we believe because we want to believe it. It's certainly true for me -- I want to believe that all humans are basically good; truth be told, the jury is probably out. I want to believe that the conception of the universe I sketched in The Spheriad (the trilogy of fantasy novels I began writing in seventh grade) is the way things really are. I want to believe that the Buddhist approach to suffering and its alleviation are eternal truisms.

Of course it's possible that I just haven't been possessed by the holy spirit and that I will someday experience it. But those who say such things really ought to admit that it's also possible -- even probable, I think -- that a good percentage of the vacations we humans take from our rational minds are driven by a tangible self-interest. There is a freedom and a protection to be found in claiming that we are not ourselves.

We're often skeptical of murderers who claim insanity, aren't we?


The 2006 Decemberween Strong Bad Email is fun. I want the dancing musical SB.

Today I'm listening to: Soldier 2 Soldier!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Writing for the Pictures 

Okay, it's ready. Today I presented to my creative writing classes the world premiere, and now the world gets to enjoy it too.

Set aside twenty minutes of your life, grab a snack, and (provided you've seen the movie) enjoy Writing for the Pictures: Questions about Barton Fink.

I estimate that I put in around 40 hours of work on this thing, and I'm really happy with how it turned out (even if I keep thinking of things I maybe should have included). I'm eager to see how you all like it. The CW students got a kick out of it; I hope you do too.

Next time, I'll tell you about the killer robots. Seriously.


Watch my thing up there. Do it now!

Today I'm listening to: Jel!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Thnaksgiving 

Hey people.. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I've been crazy busy on the Barton Fink presentation -- and it's DONE! But you don't get to see it until my students see it first. So instead..

Thnaksgiving Pix

I finally uploaded by pictures from Thnaksgiving 2006 -- including Diane's cookbook, numerous food shots, and Jon picking his nose. Also Pookah wearing a hat. Thanks to everyone who attended and especially the Broatler family for hosting.


Let's see.. what's been building up in the ol' bookmarks file? Lando's Stinking Hole has all the old Ali G shows available to download. Check 'em out!

Fight Club a la Dennis the Menace. Nice work; thanks, MonkeyFilter!

Well, I guess that's it. I'm pretty dang tired from school and that. Next time I'll do the Barton Fink flash, and then I'll reveal the Killer Robot News I've been promising. You'll be freaked -- trust me.


The Coup's video for Dig It! is mighty fine. Pam cuts the record like a surgeon cuts a tumor from the brain.

Today I'm listening to: Autechre!