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A Brief History of My Cremation

Let it be known that when I become irretrievably incapacitated, or worse, unable to operate my iPhone, I choose to be euthanized and then cremated – in that order. I don’t want any surprise cremation until I’m good and flatlined. And this is not some morbid fascination with the great beyond. It’s all part of a grand strategy where I come out the other side of my death bigger, better and more magnificent than when I went in. My unorthodox plan for my cremation could become very popular and might suggest a societal trend. Then again it might suggest I’m a lunatic. It’s not a question for me to decide. I’ll leave that to my court-appointed conservator to resolve. In any event, I bequeath to posterity my cremation plan for a post-David life. And if posterity refuses my plan, I’ll bestow it upon a more ambitious and can-do heir capable of executing my wishes – listening Bezos or Musk.  

 

Hawking’s cremains in hallowed Westminster Abbey

Revered astrophysicist Sir Stephen Hawking’s ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey between Isaac Newton’s body at rest and Charles Darwin’s non-evolving corpse. When you’re a genius it’s easy to keep good company. I don’t fit the genius category (except when it comes to my knowledge of Hogan’s Heroes) so for my final resting place I resolved to have my unknighted ashes scattered to the wind and leave it at that.

 

 

 

Quite the triumvirate

But Sir Stephen Hawking’s genius gave me another idea on how to venerate and perhaps even invigorate my lifeless ashes. Instead of having them strewn piously in some verdant meadow or scattered ceremoniously into one of our fine, welcoming oceans, I’d have my ashes compressed into an infinite singularity. An infinite singularity –  like the mighty primordial singularity from which the Big Bang boomed and all of creation sprang forth. Sir Stephen discusses infinite singularities in his monumental work A Brief History of Time. He describes this infinite singularity with unclouded professorial surety, but also in a manner that is completely impenetrable: “In the moment before the Big Bang, the universe is thought to have had zero size and so to have been infinitely hot.” Huh?

 

Now I don’t know what any of that means, or why one would follow the other – that is, why would a zero size universe (whatever that is) should be infinitely hot. But I’ll take it on faith that Mr. Hawking is on to something Big. Really Big. Amazon Prime big. So hitching the success of my afterlife to Sir Stephen’s luminous star seems like a good bet. More specifically, combining my quantum calculus with Sir Stephen’s theories, I believe that if my carboniferous ashes were compressed into an infinite singularity, my cremains would achieve Hawking’s vaunted “zero size and infinite heat.”

 

And don’t think this is some pie-in-the-sky idea. It’s more of a pi in the circumference idea I’ve thought through very carefully. The plan is to have my cremains launched toward each other at the speed of light in the 17 mile circumference loop of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland). The result of this collision would be the hyper-concentration of my cremains into an infinite singularity and would set the stage for a 2nd Big Bang. A 2nd Big Bang based on my cremains, whereby I might become the universe and permeate this new Davidverse with the unmistakable tang of my being. This isn’t about notions of legacy or immortality. It’s about us God sparklers retaking our rightful place in the Cosmos. Not just for me, but for everyone.

 

This new Davidverse would be a divine and accessible place where everyone would be cleansed by meteor showers. Where we wouldn’t need Intimacy Coordinators because we’d know just what to touch and when to touch it. Where never was heard a discouraging word and the skies were not cloudy all day. In this less formal Daveverse; napkin rings, finger bowls and grapefruit spoons would be optional. Other than to say, “Don’t play with matches,” you wouldn’t have to tip people any more. It would be a place where 2 additional hours of daylight would be available for busy people who complain, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Guilt and depression will be so last week – so will 7 days ago. In this 2nd Big Bang universe, circumstances, predicaments and situations (which I believe are all about the same thing) will be replaced with a vitality of soul last seen when Bobby Sherman danced his way through an in-house milk commercial on Shindig. Bobby says not one word and exudes effortless energy drawn from some deep wellspring of joy we’d all do well to tap into.

 

I know. Becoming an infinite singularity is a Big Ask. Perhaps the biggest Ask ever. But what can I say? I’ve always been a big pain in the Ask.

 

THE END

 

 

Outtakes, Addenda and Bootleg Material from “A Brief History of My Cremation”

Now in the odd way I always have extra puzzle pieces leftover when I’m thru with a puzzle, I have extra material leftover from the above story A Brief History of My Creation. I’ll share this less cogent material with you below:

I don’t make the karmic laws, I just try to avoid them. 

Stephen Hawking’s son went into the underwear business and wrote a book called A Brief History of Briefs.

I’m sure in some parallel universe they’ll be a Stephen Hawking avatar who is an Astro-herbalist and writes a groundbreaking new book called A Brief History of Thyme.

Some people call it euthanasia because they want their suicide to feel more virtuous.

And don’t you find it odd that the pedestrian term “Big Bang” has been applied to something so mysteriously magnificent. I mean the transcendent ignition point to the universe – an event so ineffably awesome releasing untold energies and the beginning of time – and the best descriptive term scientists can apply to it is…”Well, it’s like a Big Bang.” One can only  imagine the Big Bang translated into other Languages:

    1. French: Le Grande Boom Boom
    2. Mexican: Habanero Supreme
    3. Ebonics: Boom Shaka Laka  
    4. Japanese: Boomzilla or Shibumi
    5. Esperanto:   Bam Bam Pebbles
    6. New Age: Cosmic Achoo
    7. Yiddish: Mazel Pop

Isn’t That Precious: Confessions of a Catalytic Converter Thief

I’ll always carry a torch for catalytic converters – an acetylene torch. I had to in my business. How else was I going to cut them out of the exhaust system?

Cut away view of a catalytic convertor. It’s a car’s liver.

Hello law-abiding citizens, my name is Eugene Clark and I was once a catalytic converter thief. My street name was Acetylene Gene and due to my dastardly deeds I had a carbon footprint the size of a crop circle. And while catalytic converters save the environment from ghastly gasses, they saved me from financial ruin. That is until I got caught platinum-handed by the Alameda County Sheriff while practicing my craft in a dark and unmonitored Costco employee parking lot. I had just harvested my 3rd converter of the night when Officer Malloy collared me. I knew I should’ve stopped at 1, but you know how it is when you’re at Costco – you always end up getting more than you planned on.

 

Since that eventful evening I’ve gone straight. I mean I’ve always been straight, it’s just that I no longer steal for a living (unless you count not paying rent at my girlfriend Stacy’s trailer). The Alameda County Probation Dept. sentenced me to house arrest and outfitted me with a hi-tech GPS tracking ankle bracelet. That didn’t last. I kept torching it off and selling the bracelet for its precious metals and valuable circuitry (old habits die hard). The Probation Dept. finally clamped on an unforgiving manacle of worthless iron and I got the message. I’m housebound once again (trailer-bound really) which is no different than my life during COVID. As part of my plea bargaining sentence I’m duty bound to enlighten the public on the nefarious ways catalytic converter thieves operate and how citizens can protect themselves against such rank thievery.

 

To the School Children of America

Kids, as the theme song for the TV series Baretta advised, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Of course Robert Blake, the star of Baretta, is in jail for murder so I don’t know how valid this line of reasoning is. Let me come at you another way. I believe it really hurts your grades to spend too much time trying to picture your teacher naked. It’s a short term benefit that’s not helpful in the long run. But if I could say something more instructive and useful to the school children (and the court does order me to do so) it would be this: Kids, don’t meddle with precious metals. Rare earth materials belong either in the earth or under a car in the exhaust-scrubbing catacombs of a catalytic convertor. A life of larceny will eventually catch up with you so you might as well get on the straight and narrow so you can avoid living in a tin can with manacled ankles.

 

What do catalytic converters do? Yeah, what do day do?

Catalytic converters are like the automobile’s liver. They filter out (convert) harmful and poisonous exhaust gases into relatively harmless compounds. More specifically they transform carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons into more environmentally friendly carbon dioxides and water vapor by means of chemical reactions. As the polluting hot exhaust gases pass through honeycombed chambers coated with precious metals at temperatures of 400°, chemical reactions occur that essentially neuter the malevolent gases and convert them into less noxious vapors.

 

Catalytic convertors have a salutary effect on the environment depending on if you know the meaning of the word salutary. Some regard catalytic converters as solid state chimney sweeps. It’s worth noting that despite the ubiquity of catalytic converters, the average vehicle still produces roughly 8 tons of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) annually, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Now multiply that by 1.4 billion cars on earth and that’s a ton of CO2. Actually it’s 11.2 billion tons – almost as heavy as Homer’s The Odyssey.

 

That’s what’s different about today’s global warming. It’s not some endogenous cyclical process. It’s a gross imbalance of 11.2 billion tons of CO2 injected into the air annually. It’s not part of some organic long term cycle of heating and cooling that the Earth can naturally manage. The earth has never faced this level of unmitigated ecological imbalance since that asteroid impacted the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs and injuring Barbara Walters. Barbara has since recovered, but the earth may not be able to recover from this avalanche of CO2 as greenhouse gases slowly trap evermore heat. I’m not a doom and gloomer, I’m just stating it as a distinct possibility. It could be catastrophic. The only thing left would be Mt. Rushmore. Read the rest of this entry »

The Breast Story Ever Told

In 1975 at the tender and horny age of 14 I spied with my little eyes a glimpse of 2 glorious female breasts. At the time they were heaving provocatively and bathed in the pink smoky light of the Palace-a-Go-Go Lounge on James Street in my hometown of Syracuse, NY. These breasts possessed my ideal demographic – human, female, and naked. Through the eyes of a lovelorn 14 year-old, these priceless ornaments were like 2 Crown Jewels perched regally on the chest of a royal subject. I took one breathless glance at those twin charms and sighed “God Save the Queen.”

 

In order to perpetuate whatever it is we’re doing here on Earth, God had to keep us reproductively interested in each other. He accomplished this with sex. Never underestimate the zeal of the organs for one another. They’re a powerful driver of action. Especially when you’re 14. But this is just a small part of the whole story. 

You may wonder what circumstances gave birth to a callow 14 year-old finding himself in a position to ogle a stripper gyrating onstage at midnight? Well the real story behind this wormhole into a forbidden dimension begins at the intersection of lust and wanderlust. Actually it began at the intersection of Wolf Street and 7th North Street where my sister Gail had an apartment.

 

And that’s where our story truly begins. But before we pick up things at the Danforth Arms Apartments, some background is needed so you may understand my journey from being a student with plenty of homework and chores to do on a quiet Sunday evening at home, to an outlaw truant drinking in a salacious eyeful of Gypsy Rose Lee strutting her fleshy stuff across a smoky stage. I don’t want to tell the story too quickly or you won’t appreciate the journey. Now that I’m 60 I know how to pace myself in elucidating a story so you’ll better appreciate it. No longer am I an excitable 14 year-old prone to premature elucidation. Read the rest of this entry »

I Just Want to Stop the World Here for a Moment to Say, “Wait, did that really happen?”

And I’m neither referring to NASA landing and operating 5 rovers on Mars (not to mention a helicopter), nor am I referring to the fact that an Airbus 350 weighing 620,000 lbs. at takeoff can stay airborne for 19 hours and fly 9700 miles. While I marvel at these stellar (and interstellar) achievements, what I am referring to specifically is something even more miraculous and decidedly earthbound. It’s probably the most miraculous feat of forever and for all-time. What I’m referring to is free soloist Alex Honnold becoming the first human to summit the 3200′ sheer granite face of El Capitan. And he improbably accomplished this without benefit of any mountaineering equipment except for a pair of really good rubbery shoes and a keen sense of which way is up.

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I’m not sure Alex Honnold  understands the gravity of his situation. Alex shown here defying every one of Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.

I use the term “the first human” advisedly because even though I’ve witnessed Mr. Honnold ascend El Capitan in the movie Free Solo, I still don’t believe it’s humanly possible to do what he did. Clearly his status as “human” is in question. Even hybrid human Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” would have had difficulty traversing this unforgiving eminence. And Honnold made his ascent in only 3 hours and 56 minutes – or about as fast as it takes Elon Musk to manufacture 150 Teslas. So perhaps you can understand why, when I consider Mr. Honnold’s feat, I say, “Wait, did that really happen?”

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Yes, it really did happen and there is much to say about this superhuman achievement. But words will only conjure a mental dimension of this experience and that’s why I’ve provided some video: Free Solo. It is a worthy exploration to comment on and marvel at this spectacle of indescribable derring-do. And as I share my sense of unalloyed awe at Alex’s outrageous feat and his courageous feet, I realize this endeavor is just business as usual for our uniquely wired Alex. He is not doing this with feigned swagger and false bravado. To Alex, this anti-acrophobic act is not some kind of flashy derring-do. It’s just…do. Read the rest of this entry »

The Simple Annals of Vinnie Fanucci

The circumstances of my early life afforded me opportunities a wellborn boy might never have had. Not that I was poorly-born, but I certainly wasn’t wellborn either. Let’s put it this way, I was just…well…born – without being wellborn. My strained syntax has led some to label me a White Semanticist, but I consider myself more of a Grammar Cracker.  And I always thought a syntax was something you paid to the devil for having a little fun.

 

These are the size of the mirrors we glaziers worked with regularly at our family’s glass shop. 

More to the point, when I was a teenager working at my family’s glass shop, I was privy to a cast of colorful characters we employed from time to time. They ranged in temperament from the rowdy rascal to the lovable lug to the bastard biker. This clutch of inexpert glaziers were usually from the Italian Northside enclave of Syracuse. They all knew each other from high school and they also knew that Eastwood Glass was a quick way to transform themselves from hungover on a Sunday to gainfully employed on a Monday. This employment makeover usually was the result of receiving a call from one of their network of friends alerting them that Eastwood Glass needed a couple of guys for some jobs that Monday.

 

One of these bevy of factotums was Vinnie Fanucci. Mr. Fanucci…nah, that doesn’t sound right. No matter how many times you say “Mr. Fanucci” it just doesn’t ring true – it sounds like some kind of Italian undersea character featured on Sponge Bob SquarePants. You simply cannot have a “Mr.” before Fanucci and not think in terms of a cartoon character. While he wasn’t exactly a Mr. Fanucci, he was definitely a Vinnie – through and through.

 

Vinnie and his motley band of cohorts (Johnny Ventresca, Mike Procopio, Stewart Vendetti, Nicky the boxer, a fat guy named Tiny et al) all somehow made it through high school – probably because Principal Spadafora couldn’t stand the thought of having them back for another year and ushered them through the system. And since they weren’t in jail and were able to blink their eyes in unison, they qualified easily as potential Eastwood Glass Shop employees. Vinnie worked on and off for us in the late 70s and early 80s and enjoyed the casual barrier to entry into the workforce that Eastwood Glass afforded him. He was amateurish yet dogged in performing the skills of a glazier.

 

Vinnie was a streetwise guy, combining equal parts kindness and rowdiness. He suffered from strabismus – a misalignment of the eye whereby he’d be looking at you straight in the face, but he’d be describing something happening 30 feet down the street. His affliction is more commonly referred to as being wall-eyed. His visual defect wasn’t a problem, but it could’ve been. I mean it’s not like we were working with large and dangerously brittle panes of glass that could sever an artery or something.

 

Vinnie’s friendly Roman face possessed warm, endearing puppy dog features – like if Robert DeNiro had been born a Beagle. He learned his roughhewn ways on the street where I’m sure he also learned any Japanese tea ceremony etiquette he may have picked up.     Read the rest of this entry »

“All Syracuse Public Schools are… Closed Due to Snow.”

“Holy holiday on ice, Batman,” exclaimed 9-year old David Hardiman, upon hearing the jolliest words of the holiday season. It was 6:30 in the morning and I’d waited breathlessly in paralytic anticipation next to the radio for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably about the time it takes for a snowflake to fall lazily to earth. This unexpected Snow Day electrified my body with ripples of sheer joy, causing me to shimmy down the hallway in a funky celebratory gyration – like the way Steph Curry does after swishing a spectacular trey.

 

Ode to Joy for this Snow Day – Well at Least Owed to Somebody I Suppose

That’s no day. I mean, that Snow Day!

For my snow day good fortune I felt a great debt of gratitude to somebody or something. This bonus day, this meteorological windfall, this unexpected gift of the Magi was way better than frankincense, myrrh or gold. It was the pinnacle of pre-pubescent happiness. And when I think of the small world I inhabited in the early 1970’s, I’m surprised I even fit into it. But fit I did, and some experiences were tailor made for me. Case in point: a sweet and dearly unearned school “snow day” – or as we called them back in the days of the Ice Capades, a “Holiday on Ice.”

 

When those cheery words “All Syracuse public schools are closed” were broadcast over the airwaves from on high, all public school pupils were elated, and all the pupils’ pupils were dilated. This eye-opening experience allowed us to see our way clear to a sensuous morning of deep, cozy hibernation nestled in our beds, followed by a strenuous afternoon of deep, snowy celebration sledding with our friends.

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As it was, we were already knee-deep in juvenile joy because the brawny forces of nature had defeated the bureaucratic powers of mandatory school attendance. Truant officers would have to find someone else to hassle today, because when afternoon came we’d be chest deep in snow drifts – and that’s no drift. I mean, and that snow drift was huge.

 

In my little 9-year-old way I realized that when mounds of the white stuff triggered a school closing, it was a kind of “white privilege” that everyone could share in equally. Snow: the equal opportunity precipitate.

 

My early Christmas present was given me by WNDR’s “Dandy” Dan Leonard – 1260 AM on your radio dial. His unctuous radio inflections are imprinted on me like a tattoo I can’t remove. The larger point however, was that there’d be no school on this fiercely-snowing, traffic-snarling Tuesday in the arctic tundra masquerading as the city of Syracuse, NY, and I couldn’t have been any happier if Marcia Brady had asked me to a sleepover. Read the rest of this entry »

“I Will Not Sleep, Until I Find a Cure for Insomnia”

Those are the words of Dr. Gershwin Fassbender, Director of the SIA (Slumber Institute of America). Like most of the employees at the Slumber Institute, Dr. Fassbender is woke. In fact maybe a little too woke and that’s what accounts for the insomnia.

 

The Problem: Nocturnal Adrenalizing

When cartoon figures suffer from insomnia it’s funny. But when it’s you, well that’s another story.

We will survey the career of Dr. Fassbender in due course, but first let us examine the disorder of insomnia. Insomnia is a pervasive national calamity responsible for grievous errors in judgment including leaving a tip at McDonald’s, watching Hee Haw or sending money to a Nigerian prince. Chronic insomnia dumbs us down, jitters us up and can leave us in a state of trivial speculation whereby one wonders if the employees at Yahoo! drink Yoo-hoo. I do. Do you?

 

The vicious circle of sleeplessness presents its ironic geometry when you lie awake all night worried that you won’t fall asleep. This self-fulfilling prophecy of not getting to sleep keeps you up at night, so during the day you shuffle about somnambulistically. And if we’ve learned anything from somnambulism (sleep-walking) is that it’s very hard to pronounce and even harder to spell.

 

The need for regular, replenishing sleep is a metabolic requirement providing normative homeostasis to an otherwise unregulated body. Despite what Big Pharma might have you think, there is no substitute for restorative, deep REM sleep. Big Pharma offers nothing but Ambien. Little Pharma has come up short on the matter and Medium Pharma has just stayed home on the Pharm. Let me illustrate this disconnect in another way; Ambien is to sleep as drinking ocean water is to thirst – it may solve your problem in the short run, but there’s hell to pay in the long run. And hell, I’m told, extends credit to no one.   Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Boyle, John Lennon and Joe?

♫Puttin’ on the Ritz♫

Most of us are familiar with actor Peter Boyle, either as grandfatherly Frank Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond or as Gene Wilder’s clunkily dancing monster in Young Frankenstein. Prior to his death in 2006, Peter Boyle was always a welcomed presence in films and TV. He was a valued and respected B-list background guy. He was the kind of guy about whom a Hollywood agent might knowingly remark, “Peter Boyle will always make a beautiful dollar in this business.”

 

There are however 2 highly dispensable facts to know about him. And I present these superfluous oddities so I may keep my little corner of the world tidy and in doing so relieve my OCD. One bit of choice minutia deals with John Lennon and the other petty detail is a connect-the-dots cerebral feat of utterly inconsequential coincidences. So fasten your seatbelt everybody. Not for this tame piece, but just in general. I mean it’s a good idea to fasten your seat belt and that’s why I like to place a little Public Service Announcement in all my stories.  

 

John Lennon was the Best Man at Peter Boyle’s wedding. Imagine, John Lennon. Could Peter Boyle somehow be the 5th Beatle? – Hardly. And if you ever heard him sing Puttin’ on the Ritz in Young Frankenstein you understand he couldn’t even be the 5th Season for Frankie Valli. But as it was Peter Boyle became friends with John Lennon through his fiancé Loraine Alterman who was a writer for the Rolling Stone. She had befriended Yoko Ono. And when Peter Boyle married Ms. Alterman, he asked John Lennon to be his Best Man. Legend has it that Mr. Boyle also considered Leonid Brezhnev as Best Man, but the Soviet leader decided to remain Back in the USSR. As it was Peter Boyle chose well and the former Beatle won out.

 

OK so far? Good. Now savor that celebrity morsel while we move on to the entrée where I present a wholly unneeded examination of a string of insignificant theatrical coincidences in the career of Peter Boyle. The fact that John Lennon was the Best  Man at his wedding is evidence enough that Peter Boyle was not your average Joe – Joe being the operative word here. It is infinitesimally fascinating to note that in no fewer than four movies/TV shows Peter Boyle starred in, the name “Joe” appeared in the title. See below:

Joe – As a world weary misfit 1970

Crazy Joe – As crazy mobster Joey Gallo 1974

Tail Gunner Joe – As overly zealous commie-fighter Senator Joe McCarthy 1977

Joe Bash – As a jaded NYC cop 1986

 

For the love of Pete that’s a lot of Joe’s. Even for the love of Pete Boyle that’s a lot of Joes. There may be more Joe’s in his career that I’m unaware of. For example I don’t know what they called Dr. Frankenstein’s monster in Young Frankenstein – coulda been Joe Monster. I heard Peter Boyle refused the roll of Joe in Joe vs the Volcano for fear of being typecast.

 

In the short-lived (alright, barely-lived) TV series Joe Bash, the promotional tagline was hardly something to rally around or render it as must-see TV. It read: He steals donuts. He dates a hooker. He’s one of New York’s finest. He’s Joe Bash. Really? Yes, really.

 

Epilogue

Well, what have we learned after reading 135 pages on Peter Boyle and the uncanny recurrence of Joe roles in his career? Fortunately for you, I edited-down the original 135 pages to these 2, must-read pages. Think of it as the Cliff Notes to this story: Peter Boyle, John Lennon and Joe? I think condensing those less to-the-point, 133 pages into just 2 pages makes this piece more essence-y.

 

Highlighting the happenstance of the many Peter Boyle “Joe” roles is how I role. It’s my cup of tea. No, that’s not quite right. It’s actually my cup of Joe.

When the Big Picture is Just Too Big  

Never judge a deep space telescope by its clunky cover. Be it ever so humble – the Hubble.

The universe, which is vast, has taken on new dimensions thanks to unwelcomed discoveries from that meddling Hubble Telescope. Just when I was getting comfortable with my place in the 200 billion galaxy cosmos, the Hubble discovers that it’s 10 times larger than originally thought, thereby making me 10 times smaller – thanks a lot Hubble ass-tronomers. Could you make a guy feel any more insignificant?

 

 

A galaxy is defined as a localized cluster of stars numbering between a few hundred million (108) stars to one hundred trillion (1014) stars, each orbiting its galaxy’s center. That’s almost as many stars as Adam saw when he first laid eyes on that forbidden fruit known as Eve. Most galaxies are 3,000 to 300,000 LY (light years) in diameter (about the same diameter as Charles Barkley). Galaxies are separated by distances on the order of millions of light years from each other (about the same emotional distance between Atilla the Hun and his estranged son Caitlyn the Hun). And because our immeasurable inky playpen is so crazily proportioned, I began this little essay with the understatement of the epoch: “The universe, which is vast…”

 

A 60-year-old 3rd Grader Discusses Light

Yes it’s real. Spiral Galaxy not spiraling out of control, but spiraling into control. Such is life.

By definition all discussion about light is illuminating. For example, a light photon is sometimes referred to as a wavicle because it possesses properties of both a wave and an icicle, I mean a particle. It travels at 186,000 miles per second – unless it’s in a construction zone, in which case it slows down to posted speed limits in order to avoid the double penalties. But for the life of me I don’t know why the photon would “play nice” and slow down to avoid a ticket – I mean who’s going to catch it? In theory nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but I once saw a zebra sprinting at 186,001 miles per second. It’s true. Of course, at the time, the zebra was being chased by a lion doing 186,000 mps. Motivation is where you find it.

 

But these alphanumeric hieroglyphs I produce with droll ardency cannot touch the absolute enormity of the cosmos. To get some sense of its outlandish proportions one has to approach it with a measure of humor and unorthodox comparisons. For a down to earth, intergalactic comparison (love the mixed metaphor), our Milky Way has a diameter of at least 100,000LY. It is separated from its nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, by 2.5 million LY. To put this in perspective, 2.5 million LY is almost as far as PBS’s Rick Steves traveled in 2010. There’s a lot of vacant acreage out there in space just screaming to be developed. Of course no one hears those silent screams because in space there’s only the sound of silence. That might not be totally correct. I think Einstein, Goddard and Elon Musk have all heard the siren call of the eternal cosmic voice – Giuliani, Weinstein and Heinrich Himmler, not so much. Read the rest of this entry »

Van Gogh’s Severed Ear Reportedly Found in Provence

“How could it be found?” declares Mademoiselle De Lune. “It was never lost.”

This self-portrait conveys a world-weary soul with a still integrated ear.

I’d heard the quaint whispers: “They found Van Gogh’s ear.” Heard they found an ear – funny stuff. But this improbable discovery was no laughing matter. Rumors were rife and flew around like so much paint onto a Jackson Pollock canvass –  that the fabled ear of perhaps the art world’s most influential Impressionist had been found. These rumors did not demonstrate explicitly that the ear had been found, but created an impression that the ear had been found. Was this just an eerie case of life imitating art?

 

To dispel this absurd rumor required some sly sleuthing. Only then could it be relegated to the clickbait trash heap of e-history. But what if it wasn’t dispel-able. What if this cockamamie tale was true? It would turn the art world on its…oh what’s the word?

 

And that’s where I enter the painting. My name is Dr. Ellison Archibald Jones (of the Canterbury Jones’s) and I’m an untouchably tenured Art History professor at Balliol College at Oxford University in England. My lofty perch in academia allows me to indulge my deepest passion – locating, retrieving and otherwise restoring lost appendages to dis-armed or defaced sculptures.

 

Balliol College had always been very generous in rewarding me with sabbaticals due in large part to my prodigious fundraising skills and my popularity among art patrons. My recently published book Art: The 4th R, has added to my fame and is now in its 3rd printing (the first two printings being smudged).

To convey a sense of my expertise and qualifications in spearheading this caper, I’ve provided a brief résumé of my achievements: Read the rest of this entry »