Friday, May 25, 2018

What's in a name?

I was playing Russian Roulette with movies on Netflix while working out and watched a documentary called The Strange Name Movie. Here's Netflix's description of it:
"Ordinary people with extraordinary names open up about the ridicule, judgment and rewards that come with having an attention-grabbing moniker. What's in a name? Plenty, especially for the likes of Al Dente, Stuart Putz, Jeanine Cobbledick and Linda Slutsky."
I thought this would be a stretch to create a documentary about, but I'll be damned if all 52 minutes of it wasn't highly entertaining. Maybe it is because I have a sophomoric sense of humor and love the fact that someone would name their kid Tim Burr, Donald Duck (Senior, Junior and the Third) or Ronald McDonald.

There was also a guy named Paul McCartney who married a woman named Linda. And there was Asian American gentleman named Donald Sutherland who enjoyed the disappointed looks on hostesses faces when he made a reservation at a restaurant and they were anticipating Donald Sutherland the actor. There was also a young man named Bond, James Bond.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story

But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame, who tells your story?  
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your StoryLin-Manuel Miranda
Good question. I suppose I do. Oh, not after I'm gone. But now, through this blog, in bits and pieces. My story is woven in and out of the posts. You can find little tidbits of my life and thoughts.

Not that that is why I started blogging. It just started evolving that way. Because, if nothing else, I think I am a pretty good storyteller. And since I am not famous and not constantly shadowed by the press looking for trivia about my life, it falls to me to tell my story. But for the life of me though, I don't know why anyone cares about the lives of famous people anyway.

I've written before about wishing that I had more of my parent's stories. My father died before I thought to ask him what his story was. And I waited too long to ask my mother. By the time I did, much of it had faded from her mind.

My children will at least have my blog. For what that is worth. They may not care. I occasionally try and tell them what it was like for me growing up or at various stages in my life. But I think it is the nature of youth not to hear such stories. At least when I'm gone, and if they want to know, this blog will be there...or somewhere...for them to find out.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Not my own private Idaho

Through an odd twist of fate, I have over the years returned to the place I was born on business. When my mother was still alive, it entailed carving out time to visit her and taking her out for at least one dinner. In the years since she died, I haven't had the opportunity much to go back to Boise on business. I was pulled to other places like Los Angeles or Burbank to produce video ads.

But another opportunity came up and I just returned from a few days and nights in Boise shooting some video for a new ad campaign. The shoot took me into parts of Boise that are charming and give one the impression that the entire city is like that. But it was nothing like the parts of the city I grew up in. I tried explaining this to the people I was with, but they essentially just shrugged.

It is difficult to explain that, despite the changes, Boise will always be haunted by the specter of growing up there. Being a tourist there is one thing. But living there is another. Once you get out of the downtown and the higher income neighborhoods, you're left with strip malls and tract homes from the 50s. It is a flat, sprawling place.

And I wouldn't say I had a bad childhood. Nor did I have more than my fair share of teen-aged angst. I just felt compelled in my early 20s to run as far from the place as I could get knowing I'd be mired there unless I did.

Now granted, I did enjoy the slower pace on this trip. Seattle has become a hectic city. It is fraught with crowds, traffic,  and homelessness. It is expensive to live here. So the thought did occur to me, "What if..." But then I remind myself that Boise is landlocked and conservative. I don't want my children growing up there.

But it is a nice place to visit.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wizard of odd

On this day in 1856,  Lyman Frank Baum (who went by L. Frank Baum because he didn't like his first name), the man who wrote The Wizard of Oz was born.  He died 63 years later on May 6 in Hollywood. His last words to his wife were "Now we can cross the Shifting Sands."

After writing the Wizard of Oz, Baum liked to spend winters at the Del Coronado Hotel near San Diego, California. Coincidentally, there was lots of shifting sands at the Del. Also coincidentally, my wife and I spent a few nights at the Del Coronado before we got married, had kids and couldn't afford such luxury.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Taking care of business

As I write this post, I am watching the second part of a two-part documentary on HBO called, Elvis Presley: The Searcher. I have watched many documentaries about Elvis. I have read many books about his life. But having just go back from my first trip to Graceland in March, watching this documentary has been a different experience.

I had seen many photos of Graceland. I have a miniature model of Graceland that I set up under my Elvis tree each Christmas. But hokey as it sounds, there is just nothing like actually being there in person. The images I see in the documentary are now familiar places I've stood and experienced.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Artificial Intelligence

  1. 1.
    made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, typically as a copy of something natural.

    "her skin glowed in the artificial light"
  2. 2.
    (of a person or a person's behavior) insincere or affected.

    "an artificial smile"

My wife was asking Siri a question on her iPhone and Siri referred to her as Teresa.  She prefers to be called Tess, so she told Siri to "Call me Tess, not Teresa." Siri then started referring to her literally as "Tess not Teresa." It took us awhile, but we eventually convinced Siri to just call her "Tess."

I haven't had that problem with Siri. We don't talk too much. I talk to Alexa more often. But she hasn't graduated to calling me anything. She actually seems a bit distant. Or perhaps she just seems that way because I've given her a British accent. And I don't really say much to her other than "Turn on Elvis" (which is the name of the lamp I've programmed to be controlled by Alexa). She generally just turns on the lamp and responds, "Okay." Or sometimes she doesn't turn on the lamp and says, "I can't find office." This can lead to a prolonged argument about my pronunciation that ends with me just reaching over and turning on the lamp manually.

I imagine Artificial Intelligence, or AI, will eventually be a bit less artificial and a bit more intelligent. But I suppose then instead of just turning on the lamp Alexi will say, "Do it yourself, I'm are just like your lazy brother Dan."

I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Found in translation

On the same day I posted my Lost in translation post, an anonymous person left a comment on a post I made on election day 2016 (If this is Tuesday then there must be an election). Ironically it wasn't in English. It was a single sentence:  Depois, coloque ácido salicílico sobre as verrugas. At first I though it was Spanish so I ran it through a Spanish translator. It came back with "Depois, put salicylic acid on the warts." I Googled "Depois," the one word that didn't translate and discovered it is a Portuguese word for "afterward."

So I ran the phrase through a Portuguese translator and it gave me the English translation "Then put salicylic acid on the warts." Random as this comment is, I decide to approve it because it has been awhile since anyone has commented and I wanted to give this one the benefit of the doubt and hope anonymous was metaphorically suggesting that "warts" are Trump followers (since the post was about the stupidity of Trump and his followers) and we should put salicylic acid (a treatment for acne) on them. Either that or this was from an oddly stupid spammer who forgot to enter a link to his site that sells salicylic acid. If that is the case, I politely suggested in English, "Que seus genitais caiam."  This is Portuguese for "May your genitals fall off."

Maybe I am bi-lingual after all.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Lost in translation

I will be the first one to admit that I do not have an affinity for learning other languages. Perhaps it is because learning English took it all out of me. Oh, I took two years of German in high school and a semester in college.  But beyond telling some one to "listen and repeat," counting to ten and asking you if you'd like to drink lemonade, nothing stuck. Oh, and I can say, "durch, für, gegen, ohne, um" (which means "by, for, up, to, without"). A group of us from Herr Haddock's German class turned it into a cheer at Basketball games for some reason.

I am not even sure why I tried to learn German. I've never been to Germany and I don't have a burning desire to go to Germany. I have, however, spent a great deal of time in Spanish speaking countries, so it would have been more productive to me to try and learn Spanish. Though I can also count to ten in Spanish, ask where the men's room is and order more beer.  And I didn't have to spend three years in a class room learning it.

It's not that I wouldn't love to be fluent in another language. I envy people who have mastered more than one language. It's just that I was never very good at diagramming sentences and grammar in English so trying to make the leap to grammar in another language was just too much. Plus I could never get the hang of formal and informal pronouns.

Monday, May 07, 2018

What if the Bard had a Blog?

I knoweth not about oth'r playwrites, but i spendeth not a most wondrous dealeth of timeth crafting mine own prose. Although i usually not sitteth down and hamm'r one out in five minutes, i rarely spendeth m're than a few minutes h're and th're during a day to writeth one. And i m're rarely ev'r doth a lot of rewriting 'r deleting. So, although mine own prose may not all beest most wondrous art, those gents art f'r the most parteth genuine

But oft,  i catcheth myself being extremely self-conscious. And i'm quaint sure t shows in mine own writing. I starteth w'rrying about being too negative 'r repetitive. I tryeth to soften stuffeth 'r int'rject a self-depreciating jab. And all of this happeneth at which hour i starteth to bethink i'm writing f'r an audience instead of f'r myself

Well enow, i've been writing f'r almost a fourteen years. And occasionally i've hadst regular readeth'rs. But exp'rience hast did teach me yond v'ry rarely doth regular readeth'rs stayeth regular readeth'rs. I can only guesseth at the reasons without wallowing too far into self-doubt and blaming t on mine own writing. F'r the most parteth i bethink t is just a byproduct of the way life is anon. Th're art just too many things tugging on our attention spans to focus on aught too longeth

Friday, May 04, 2018

Time is full of gopher holes

I was reading one of my past blog posts, (The blog/time continuum) that deals with the concept of people popping in and out of a blog (and your life) and only getting snippets of who you are at any given time and place. You can read it yourself if you want to get the full cosmic flavor.

But the image of people popping into your life at random points conjured up the image of gophers popping in and out of gopher holes. Or perhaps it is more like a metaphysical Whac-a-Mole game (because there are many times in my life where I wanted to whack people out of my life [figuratively, of course]). At other times I've wanted to reach in the gopher (or mole) hole and pull people back in who have disappeared for no apparent reason (but not in scary, stalker kind of way).

Maybe I should drag a groundhog into this analogy as well. Because they pop out of their hole and run scurrying away if they see a shadow. Or perhaps I should use my old nemesis the mountain beaver since I have a great deal more experience with them than gophers and groundhogs. But mountain beavers would be more relevant for people who pop into your life and just won't go away (kind of like relatives, Jehovah's Witnesses or timeshare salespeople).

But I digress with a lugubrious howl.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Monkey business improvised

I've come to the conclusion that blogging is writing's version of improv. Or at least the way I've always approached it. I rarely spend more than an hour or so writing a blog post. Sometimes a seed of a thought pops into my head and I start writing. So it kind of approaches real time writing. If I actually had a real time audience reading as I wrote, it would truly be blog-prov.

Computers changed writing the way Gutenberg's press changed the way people accessed writing. It definitely changed the way I approached writing. Writing with a pen or pencil was slow and cumbersome. Typewriters were a bit better, but still you were at the mercy of typos and white out. The first time I experienced word processing and the ability to write almost as quickly as I think, I knew the world had changed forever. Or at least my world.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Let the wolves enjoy my bones

When I die, let the wolves enjoy my bones
When I die, let me go
When I die, let the wolves enjoy my bones
When I die, let me go  
When I die, you can push me out to sea
When I die, set me free
When I die, let the sharks come round to feed
When I die, set me free
Oh the world is dark,
and I've looked as far I can see
When the years have torn me apart.
Let me be  
When I die, let the flames devour me
When I die, set me free
When I die, throw my ashes to the breeze
When I die, scatter me  
Whole world is dark, and I've looked as far as I can see
When the years have torn me apart 
Let me be
Let me be
Let me be
Let me be 
Daylight is waiting for you
Daylight is waiting for you
Daylight is waiting for you
Daylight is waiting for you
--Down Like Silver, Wolves
I have been listening to Pandora a lot lately.  Sure, I have to listen to ads and I can't listen to the exact songs I like, but I can listen to songs that are similar to the songs I like. And that is how I discover gems like the song above that I am obsessed with. It's by singing duo Down Like Silver. It is a haunting song that apparently came out in 2011. But I just discovered it and wonder why the world isn't listening to it. They have other great songs, including one called, Idaho (go figure...neither of them is from Idaho). But Wolves is the one that messes with my soul.