Questions of Dave Part II

At what rate must you consume a 48 ounce plastic jug of garden fresh Costco salsa in order to finish it before it goes sour?

Questions of Dave Part I

Cat and I are leaving the kids with my parents and heading to the City of Brotherly Love for the weekend, so I'll provide you some questions to ponder while I'm off the reservation:

1) how many hours of vintage Van Halen concert footage must I force my children to watch before they can truly appreciate the preteen portrayal of Van Halen in the "Hot For Teacher" video?

Dave's Brain = Random Band Name Generator

From the man who provided this phenomenal (but inappropriate) band name, gratis, here's another . . . it's a bit more intellectual, perfect for some math-rockers looking for a moniker:

The Algorithms of Delphi. 

Dave Has No Need For Telepathy

It turns out that my new mind-reading machine is fairly useless-- I thought it might be interesting to read Donald Trump's mind, but his thoughts are identical to his tweets-- and every time I used it on people in my general vicinity, they were thinking the exact same thing: Dave's here! Awesome!

Telepathy of Dave

Just got my new mind-reader operating, so I pointed it at Paul Ryan's brain and found this gem: people will enjoy their own subpar healthcare more if a bunch of other people they know don't have any healthcare at all.

Dave + March = Mirror Madness

I was tired today, despite a good night's sleep and I just realized why . . . I'm exhausted from watching all that NCAA basketball-- that's right, I'm physically tired from sitting on my butt, vicariously competing-- because my mirror neurons were firing like crazy for much of Saturday and Sunday afternoon: in fact, scientifically, it's like I played 80% of those games, because that's the percentage of neurons that fire when you're watching sports (as opposed to playing sports) and I watched quite a few games (the weather was lousy on Saturday) so really I'm probably more tired than some of the kids who were playing, plus I battled plenty of monsters during Kong:Skull Island . . . so I more than earned this beer I'm drinking, and I can't wait to get another phenomenal workout next weekend.

The Test 81: Of What It Is Made

This week on The Test, Dave and Stacey learn that a lot of stuff is made of other kinds of stuff . . . and Cunningham knows what that stuff is . . . not only that, she also knows how to dispose of old soup; so play along and see if you know of what things are made (you should also notice a vast improvement in sound quality, as I learned how to use the level controls on my digital audio recorder).

King Guam

Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining mash-up of Apocalypse Now and every archetypal monster-movie trope; while it certainly has it's share of horrific deaths, it is far more fun than Logan . . . and John C. Reilly has the most fun of anyone in the film, he plays Hank Marlow-- his name is certainly a nod to the narrator of Conrad's Heart of Darkness-- a WWII pilot who crashed on the island in 1944 while engaged in a dogfight with a Japanese plane; both soldiers survive the crash, battle a bit on the sandy beach and in the jungle, and then become friends, bonding over being scared shitless by Kong; we then flash-forward nearly 30 years to 1973, and a government and military crew is sent to map Skull Island and look for resources (but an especially dour John Goodman knows there is more in the jungle) after the crew is properly hazed and scattered by an angry, territorial Kong, one group meets Marlow in the jungle, and though Marlow's friend has died, Marlow has made it through the years and preserved much of his sanity, thanks to some friendly (but creepy) natives . . . so he's a little wacky, but certainly no Kurtz-- and while he's got no idea about what's happened in the civilized world for the past three decades, he is an expert on Kong and the skull-crawlers and everything else Skull Island related (but Samuel Jackson just won't listen to him, his character has been broken by the Vietnam War and just wants to defeat something, anything, and that thing is Kong) and take my word for it, take the kids and go see it, it's a visual spectacular that puts the new Jurassic Park to shame, but more importantly, I just learned Doug Mack's travelogue The Not Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and other Far Flung Outposts of the United States that there was a situation quite similar to Hank Marlow's on the island of Guam: Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi survived 28 years in the jungle of Guam, 20 of them with two companions and the last 8 years alone (his companions starved to death) and he survived by eating "rats, frogs, snails, shrimp, coconuts, and other tropical fruit" and trapping eels; he lived in a cave with bamboo shelves and a bamboo ladder to the surface, and while he didn't have to contend with giant lizards and a godlike monstrous ape, he did make it home, marry, and live to the ripe old age of 82, which is why I pronounce him (posthumously) King Guam.

Breaking News!

Occasionally, the master becomes the student, and a good teacher will accept this turning of the tables and try to glean as much wisdom as possible from the situation; yesterday was one of those days, as a very informed pupil in my Creative Class enlightened me about several items of pop-cultural significance:

1) rapper extraordinaire Jay-Z is married to pop icon Beyonce!

2) rapper extraordinaire Kanye West is married to professional celebrity Kim Kardashian!

and if you'd like more up-to-the-moment celebrity news, tune in tomorrow, when I explain what the term "Brangelina" means (that's a joke, I know all about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but I sincerely had no idea that Jay-Z and Kanye West are both married . . . it doesn't seem to fit their lifestyles).

Missing Ari Shaffir

Last week, I nearly descended into madness, and this week, my podcasting partner Stacey flirted with her own lunatic demons; over the weekend, I received a few cryptic texts from her about some white whale of a project she was pursuing . . . she was collecting a multitude of obscure audio clips, scribbling notes (in various colors of ink) in a marble notebook, recording live audio bits on her phone, organizing aforementioned clips into some kinds of order only she could understand, and she told me she needed to record a bunch of audio before our usual podcasting session for The Test . . . so Monday night she recorded her manic notes, and then I gave her a crash course in GarageBand and left my old Macbook with her so she could try to stitch it all together together during the blizzard, and while she suffered several digital setbacks and nearly gave up (one of her texts to me, while she was deep in the process, said simply: "My life sucks") she persevered and put together a compelling, rather intense, possibly satirical, very-meta Serial-style show investigating the "disappearance" of comedian Ari Shaffir . . . so The Test proudly presents a Stacey Powers original: Missing Ari Shaffir.

DST Is Easier to Deal With When You Don't Have to Go to Work

Where It Hurts, a noir crime thriller set on Long Island-- but nowhere near the Hamptons-- is about as dark and violent as the genre gets, and Reed Farrel Coleman has a deft touch with an extensive set of characters; they materialize one after the other, each the star of a short chapter, each providing a small piece to the puzzle retired cop Gus Murphy is trying to solve, each character broken in their own special way, each piece of information similarly fragmented . . . this was a perfect blizzard read: I couldn't put it down . . . and I didn't need to.

Pun of the Century?

My friend Terry would not shut up yesterday about the imminent blizzard-- he kept abreast of the weather forecast on a minute-to-minute basis and streamed this information to the office in a constant cascade of meteorological bombast-- but moments before final dismissal, justice was served . . . I had a lexical epiphany and called him a "snow-it-all," and for a few hours, my self-esteem was riding high and I was much impressed with my wit, but after some research, I found out that "snow-it-all" is already defined at Urban Dictionary, so though I did think of the term in the moment, I can't take credit for coining up it.

The Test 80 . . . Dave Descends into Darkness

If you thought you were going to escape my semi-annual DST rant, you've got another thing coming-- and while I understand great forces are at work with this policy, forces that want us to consume more Halloween candy and more golf balls-- I'd like us for a moment to consider the feelings and emotions of our loyal four-legged friends . . . what have they done to deserve this shift? why must they be punished for a capitalist conspiracy to make us shop more, consume more, and play more golf? my dog is like a clock, he sidles down the stairs every morning at 5:50 AM to go for his morning constitutional and subsequent defecation, but this morning I had to drag him out of bed and though we took our usual route, he wasn't ready to move his bowels yet-- though he tried-- but the poor fellow was confused by this arbitrary shift in his circadian rhythm . . . so lets end DSL for the children, for the dogs, and for all the good people that have to go to work early in the morning (or just keep DSL and let kids get hit by school buses in the darkness of winter) and if you liked this glimpse inside the darkness of Dave's brain, then you'll certainly enjoy the latest episode of The Test, which details how Dave's life is spiralling out of control, widening in the gyre, how the center cannot hold, but during the journey, plenty of new shit has come to light . . . check it out: The Test 80: New $#@! Has Come to Light.

Your Opinion About Dave Is Not Your Own

Perhaps the easiest way to happily plunge into the surveillance state is to embrace the comforting notion that your mind is not your own, because if you're just along for the ride, then there's no reason to care what anyone (or anything) knows about you-- your deepest darkest most private thoughts are formed by the circumstances surrounding you, and thus there's no escaping them, nor are you responsible for them; Jonah Berger explores this wonderful new way to think and live in our modern world in his book Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Behavior . . . it's a fast, breezy read consisting of summaries of compelling studies and vivid anecdotes which complement the science-- you won't be able to put it down; Berger doesn't really get into the philosophical implications of these ideas, he simply wants you to note them and understand the cliché: everyone thinks these forces affect other people, but no one thinks that they ever fall prey to them, but as you read, you'll slowly agree that your decisions are usually made so you can fit in, stand out, or achieve some desired combination of the two-- and competition, when it's close, may spur you on, and when you're being crushed, may destroy your soul . . . I learned that I'm more working-class than upper-middle-class with my automobile selections, as most upper-middle-class drivers try to select a car that's a little different from their peers-- they want to differentiate themselves, but working class folks don't mind some unity in their selection, and my family drives the two of the most common cars on the road (a Honda CRV and a Toyota Sienna minivan) for good reason, they are extremely reliable and well-rated, and they are easy to get fixed, because there are plenty of parts and all mechanics are familiar with them . . . but with music, I'm a typical hipster douchebag: I only like the early stuff . . . before they sold out, or else I'm listening to jazz . . . and then only this album, etcetera . . . anyway, there's also plenty of the research that indicates that where you are born has a major influence on your thoughts, decisions, and how much money you earn, and so there's no better program to help the poor than Moving to Opportunity, because it's not the money, it's the invisible social forces surrounding children that make them successful . . . anyway, I'm going to take this to heart, and stop getting all freaked out by Benjamen Walker's Surveillance State mini-series and just do whatever.

Some Smart Sci-Fi

Two recommendations for sci-fi lovers:

1) if you're overly worried about the surveillance state we live in . . . or if you're not worried at all about the surveillance state we live in, then take some time off from the screens and read Normal, the new Warren Ellis novel: it's short (148 pages) and fast-paced and vivid, a locked-room mystery set in a high-end asylum/refuge for depressed futurists broken by the digital age . . . and there are lots of bugs;

2) if you're overly worried about alien invasion . . . or not worried at all about alien invasion, then watch Arrival, where Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) truly get lost in translation; screenwriter Eric Heisserer takes a page out of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five: his heptapods see time all at once, like the Tralfamadorians, but this story doesn't have the surreal breezy irony of Vonnegut . . . it's paradoxical, cerebral and byzantine-- and done very realistically-- it's definitely not a thriller, and rather sad, but I loved it and so did my eleven year old son.

Send Lawyers, Guns, and Actors

The Supreme Court unanimously decided that an unloaded gun is still considered a "dangerous weapon" and possession of such during a theft means the crime is an armed robbery, but the possession of a toy gun is more ambiguous and I'd like to propose an amendment to the law: for a toy gun to be considered a dangerous weapon, the person who wields the gun needs to be an accomplished actor . . . if the criminal's acting ability is poor, then he should not be charged with armed robbery . . . but if Clint Eastwood waves a toy gun around, he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Poop and Food: Always Funny

We have a bizarre half-day extended-period schedule this week due to parent/teacher conferences (otherwise known as an insane waste of precious instructional time) and so I had to eat a snack during my Philosophy class to avoid being hangry; I took out my food while my students were watching the super-philosophical (and highly recommended) Erroll Morris documentary Fast Cheap and Out of Control . . . and just as I was about to pop a miniature cucumber smeared with Laughing Cow cheese into my mouth, Ray Mendez-- the naked mole rat specialist-- started graphically describing naked-mole rat bathroom habits, and every time I tried to take a bite, he said something disgusting and absurd-- and I was at my desk right next to the giant projection of the film while I was trying to eat my snack amidst this cascade of scatological imagery, and the students found it very funny; here is the transcript of what he says, and I should note that he says it with good-humored passion and fervor, he really loves these creatures:

They roll in their own feces: it's a way of making everybody smell the same. So it could be the subtle differences in the aroma that you carry around is enough to set you off against an enemy.

They don't urinate on each other. They urinate in the midden pile where all the feces are placed, and the individuals go there and roll in them. You'll see them kicking and rolling and shoving around in it and then turning around and going back into the nest system. They very rarely just go to the bathroom, turn around and leave.

When the young are weaned, they will literally beg for fecal matter so that they can eat it.

It's different than the hard pellets that you see the adults depositing when they're going to the bathroom; this stuff is much more undigested material.

Interesting concept to say: "Well, now I'm going to go to the bathroom, but I'm only going to expel partially digested food, so that some of the whole bacteria and protozoa that is in the fecal material, can be passed on as food."

[There's] a lot more Zen bowel movement going on than what you would normally imagine an animal having.

More Troubles with Detective Sean Duffy

Though Sean Duffy is as cool as they come (especially his eclectic musical taste) he isn't is as particular as James Bond about his alcohol: in fact he'll ingest most anything -- single malt scotch, pints of bitter, glasses of the black stuff, Vodka gimlets, enormous quantities of wine, cans of Bass . . . whatever, and he's not afraid to chase it with narcotics . . . stolen pharma grade cocaine, weed, codeine, or anything else that he runs across . . . sometimes this is to assuage physical pain, he often takes a beating, whether it's donning riot gear in Belfast, trying to keep some order as the lone Catholic in a Protestant housing project on Coronation Road in the town of Carrickfergus, discussing delicate matters with various Loyalist Protestant paramilitary groups in perpetual battle with the IRA, or getting officially roughed up by some American spooks for poking his nose where it doesn't belong . . . and sometimes he's drowning his troubles in drink and drugs to handle the mental anguish of being a "Fenian" peeler in the midst of the Troubles; in Adrian McKinty's new novel, Gun Street Girl, despite all this baggage the MI5 recognizes Duffy's talent and while his contact, Kate, remarks that "your house stinks of marijuana and Scotch, and there's what appears to be cocaine on the lapel of your dressing gown" she still wishes to enlist him in the British secret service, but then things get complicated . . . oddly, the wildest things in this novel are based on real events: a mysterious missile theft, MI5 agents lurking about Ireland in the 80's, a notable heroin overdose at Oxford, a Chinook helicopter crash, and connections to the Iran/Contra scandal . . . if you haven't read any of the McKinty's books, start with The Cold Cold Ground and make your way from there.

Birthday Cards! Not To Be Confused With Christmas Pants . . .

My wife and kids gave me several lovely cards for my birthday, but they paled in comparison to the cards I drew on Saturday night at Stacey's house: it didn't matter how cavalierly I bet, or if it was the flop, the turn, or the river . . . it was all birthday cards for me.

The Test 79: Time After Time (Travel)

This week's episode of The Test has got it all: Knight Rider, Quantum Leap, a Spanish lesson, and plenty of time travel . . . Stacey pithily summarizes the plot and you have to guess the time travel book or movie she's describing; treat yo' future self and give it a listen!
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.