Thursday, November 26, 2009

Apocalypse with a Happy Ending

One of my students asked earlier this semester about doing a research paper on whether the world will end in 2012. I thought the student had in mind the Mayan calendar, but she was inclined more to the movie and other predictions. Having seen the "2012" movie last night, I gather that we really don't need to worry that much at all, as long as we can build a super-ark (complete with animals--one by one) that will carry us to the coast of Africa. I was struck by the closing scenes in the film, as three big techno-arks (Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria?) sailed toward the safest haven, the Cape of Good Hope, now the roof of the world, where the privileged and coddled would form the basis for a new beginning. This despite the fact that there are people already IN Africa, perhaps not ready to take in the tens of thousands of refugees and their rescued menagerie.

The movie is mostly made up of finely-detailed scenes of disaster--buildings collapsing into chasms, waves tipping a giant cruise ship into the drink, oceans washing over the Himalayas, whole landscapes yawing and sliding into the sea, airport runways cracking and crumbling beneath the airplane that bears our heroic family away from the destruction.

When all is said and done, the world looks new again, the continents rearranged, all the mistakes of the world washed away in 27 days--much tidier, say, than the lingering and ongoing disaster that is New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Apocalypse with a happy ending.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out--A Christmas Story


DSU Theater will put on A Christmas Story ("You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!") in the coming week after Thanksgiving. In preparation, yours truly was up at the Playhouse helping build their gigantic set over the weekend, especially the Santa Mountain. It should be fun!

In preparation, wander over to the online BB gun shooting game sponsored by Office Max.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Idea Ventures Forth--LOOK OUT!

The previous post cited G.E. as the source of a great idea, but a magazine article I read afterward put a real buzz-kill on that, noting how G.E. is the scourge of the Hudson, pouring millions of gallons of PCB's in the river since forever ago.

Anyway, more ideas about killing ideas appear in the graphic to the left. Which is your favorite? (Don't get any ideas).

The drawings are from Doobybrain.com, who got them from somewhere else.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Virtual Wind

My friend Dan has turned me on to augmented reality--no, not the kind where you have to ingest peyote and roll around on the porch until you find your spot, ala Journey to Ixtlan. Rather, it's a project whereby a graphic on your webcam identifies a spot to project another object on to your video. No comprende? Me neither. Read about it starting here. Or watch my test of GE's use of it in the video below. Or see other examples here. video

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flying the Flag

As I buzzed around town today, doing errands, helping neighbors, tending my own business, I couldn't help but notice the many flags flying to commemorate Veteran's Day, once a day celebrating the end of war. We do seem to have lost some of our aversion to war, though perhaps too few of us pay enough attention to the costs, in life, respect, and dollars not spent on better things.

I'm the soldier on top of the tank here, probably still only 19 years old, proud here to have converted this war machine, an M-60 tank, to a part-time bulldozer. Note the dozer on the back end. My buddies, Gilbert "Hombre" Lovato and Jerry "Puente" Puent are there probably to mark my achievement. We were stationed at Ray Barracks, Friedberg, West Germany, 122nd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Armored Division, mid-1970's. Jerry, from LaCrosse, WI, was bigger, but I could out-wrassle him, and Gilbert, from Mountainair, NM, was generally just an all-right guy. I haven't seen either of them since then.

I hope they're well. Happy Veteran's Day, soldiers.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Too Many Kids on the Corner

23 kids in two houses? Next door to each other? That's what it was in the 1970's when the Johnsons lived next to the Nelsons in Ft. Pierre. There were more kids on the block, including the Comptons, whose boys were notorious for mischief.
The father of the Johnson brood, Dale Johnson, recently passed away, and I stopped by the service last night to pay my respects and see who turned up. All of them did.
We reminisced a little, and I stopped by the Johnson home here to visit and enjoy some company. Like our family, many of them are artistic, creative sorts who take life by the horns.
I was reminded too of the plight of poor Mrs. Jacobsen, whom I remember as an old crab who chased kids off her lawn. She lived in a little house behind ours, crowded in there among the rambunctious children, then young adults. Poor old lady--she had a reason to grouse.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Maxine Hong Kingston, a Full Moon, and Ghost Stories


Saturday night, while most people were either offering up candy to kids in costumes or being kids in costumes, some of us were in Vermillion, SD, to hear Maxine Hong Kingston, the keynote speaker of the John R. Milton Writers Conference. She read from her published works, including Warrior Woman and China Men, focusing on ghost stories, especially one from Warrior Woman, where Maxine's mother takes on the hairy sitting ghost that appears in her girl's dormitory.

As she read, the glass wall behind her revealed the full moon illuminating the light clouds visible behind the podium. It was a good Halloween.

My other favorite part of it was seeing the wife in her witchy costume.