On our way to drop off a piano bench to Alison and Dean, we listened to a CBC report on semi-identical twins.
The twins are chimaeras, meaning they carry two sets of DNA. The mother's egg was fertilized by two sperm cells, and then split, so they each have a combination of genetic material from one egg and two sperm.
It gets better. One sperm contributed an X chromosome, but the other contributed a Y. That is, within each twin, some cells are male, and some are female.
So you have two sets of instructions trying to build one person. One twin develops as a male. The other develops as a female. Mostly. Because their organs were built with contributions from both cell types, the sex organs (in particular) are a melange of girl and boy parts. The "girl" twin has some interesting genitalia, and also sports ovotestes: combinations of ovary and testis.
This is fascinating in and of itself, but of course, it's what it does to the apple cart of gender and sexuality that is most fun. For these twins any relationship will be a semi-homosexual relationship, no matter which gender they go for. Are they gay? Are they half-gay? Are gay and straight illusionary opposites? Are binary oppositions illusionary, period? I'd love to roll this one down the center church aisle and watch the philosophical mayhem. Dah, the whole argument over who people are allowed to be in love with is stupid anyway.
(Author's aside: Did you like my invitation to debate followed by immediate dismissal of grounds for debate? Dirty pool, I know. I have a post to get through, people! But I feel your pain, speaking of church, because whenever I do attend, somebody gets to monologue at me for an hour without a single opportunity for rebuttal and it drives me mental.)
Also, I figure these twins have 1.5 souls apiece, based on the not-at-all controversial view that the soul is infused into the material body at the moment of conception. I guess that same logic dictates that identical twins have only half a soul. And that single-birth chimaeras have two. Oh geez. Time for a heartfelt prayer: O Lord, please get Your act together and fit Your creations into our preconceived notions of how life works. Amen.
Food for thought, eh? Food for thought.
Now that my Wii has shipped, I feel I can blog about how I got it without jinxing myself.
First of all, this Wii was supposed to be my Christmas present, and now it's the end of March, which tells you how it difficult it has been to get one. Either that or the one about Santa doing all the world's chimneys in a single night is beeloney.
At first, naif that I was, I called all the stores around town on a semi-regular basis. "Hello, do you have the Wii in stock?" Weary "no's" were my answer, time and again. Two months of that approach proved fruitless, so I turned to the only power in this world that could help me: technology. Heck, I would have turned to religion, I would, if I thought there was an outside chance God would have three seconds to turn aside from answering all the prayers about famine, pestilence, and lost kittens. It's not his fault - you people are clogging up the request lines with your frickin' demands for grace at mealtimes. Seriously, do you think it matters that the next bite you stuff down your craw is unblessed? Fine, you're thankful, but the resulting DoS attack is the reason for multiplied human suffering around the world. Save it for when it counts.
Aaaaanyway... If you want a Wii short of a miracle, here's what you do.
- Subscribe to a Wii tracker with an RSS feed. I used http://www.xpbargains.com/tracker.php/wii_canada. These trackers regularly ping online stores to see if any Wii have suddenly appeared in the inventory.
- You need to be alerted when a Wii shows up. KlipFolio can be set to monitor the Wii tracker feed every couple of minutes, and play a sound and/or a desktop alert when the feed changes.
- Set up "quick checkout" accounts at all the online stores the tracker is tracking. You will need every second.
I tried using Yahoo Alerts to do the same thing, because Yahoo Alerts can send a text msg to your cell phone, but Yahoo Alerts only check every 30 minutes at most, and by that time, the Wiis are all sold out. I kept the cell phone next to me 24 hours a day and after getting half a dozen alerts that were too late I got very angry. Especially at the ones that woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. I should have had an inkling when the first cell phone alert caught me driving, and I vroomed to the nearest library, ran in and tried to use a public terminal to purchase a Wii and missed one by about a minute. (Inventory showed 3 in stock when I started checking out, but were gone before I could complete.)
All water under the bridge now, because the Wii is on its way.
My Dad was visiting last week and I pulled this off his camera. I watched it about 9 times and at last I realized his piece was saying:
"If one examines neocapitalist construction, one is faced with a choice: either accept the textual paradigm of expression or conclude that the goal of the artist is social comment, but only if surrealism is invalid; if that is not the case, expression comes from the collective unconscious." *
And I think that's not far off the mark. So without further ado, I present the latest in a series of one, directed and filmed by my father, and stolen and uploaded by myself.
Godzilla meets Sasquatch, Directed by Edward C. Tyrrell, Esq.
With the Tokyo metropolis burning in the background, Godzilla and Sasquatch face off to see who will be the Ultimate Champion of the Monsterverse!
* This chunk of spew was spewed at you courtesy of the Postmodernism Generator, an automatic random generator of meaningless postmodernist gobbledegook, and holder of the Chair of Critical Studies at a prestigious eastern university.
The very first car I ever drove, and subsequently the first car I owned, was a yellow 1974 Volkswagen Beetle. Technically it was a Super Beetle, and its top recorded speed was a superlative 118 km/h down the backside of Malahat mountain circa 1988. At speeds over 90 km/h it had a tendency to belch blue smoke. From the glove box.
It made a noise like the Cedar Hill Middle School Jazz Lawnmower Band on parade. It steered like a fully loaded tea cart. The heater didn't work, the windshield fogged up at night, the back seat fit two legless midgets comfortably, and chances were 50/50 it would stall when faced with a red light, forcing me to do a crazy toe-tapping jig to keep the revs up while waiting for the green.
I loved that car.
It had been my mother's. The four of us kids were hauled all around town in the indefatigable VW. Once, Kinza accidentally slammed the passenger door shut on my fingers. I screamed. My mom screamed, and shouted at Kinza to open the door, quickly. Kinza panicked and locked it instead. Thanks Kinz.
When I got my license at 17, I drove the car to school whenever I could. At lunchtime the guys would go to 7-11 or a like purveyor of chili dogs and Big Gulps and other edible oil products. One time we piled into the Bug and roared off to the McDonald's drive-through. The rough howl of the engine was so loud at the order booth that I turned the car off to communicate our dire need for 16 Big Macs or whatever, but when I tried to start the car again it just went: "a-rrur-rrur-rr-rrur-rrur. A-rrur. Cough." And died.
So we got out. We got out and we pushed to the pick-up window, where we were laughed at by the cruel McDonald's pickup window girl, and then we snatched our greasy burgers from her with as much dignity as we could muster, and in those days we gangly acne-ridden D&D players needed every scrap of dignity we could get our hands on.
Fortunately it is very easy to push-start a VW, which we did, after fortifying ourselves with the McDogFood.
Eventually it got to the point where I could push-start the Bug myself, if it wasn't facing uphill. If you put your back into the passenger door hard enough, the car would start rolling slightly, at which point you leaped into the driver's seat, threw it into first, and popped the clutch. It would splutter a little bit and by tramping on the gas you could coax the splutter into a full-blown thundering start and a big reeking cloud of burning oil.
It's funny but I can't now remember how we parted ways, the car and me, but it was the end of an era.
Thanks Ted for sending me this on the weekend. This is the most exciting road test I've ever witnessed, EVER. Beautifully put together and transcending to epic in the final moments*, it got the back of my neck prickling as the gorgeous 1001 horsepower Bugatti Veyron was pushed to its top speed: 407 km/h, faster than Formula 1 racers.
* The observant sci-fi geek will note the nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The Camelot musical scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In Lego! Huzzah! Watch for the Dead Parrot sketch reference.
Here's the URL: http://www.youtube.com/v/fIXByCAIzos
Sit at a desk or table. Put your elbows on the surface in front of you, with your forearms straight up in the air. Hang your head between your forearms, and press your forearms tightly into your ears, covering them. Behind your head, rub the fingertips of your middle fingers lightly together.
Thought I'd spring for a new banner and profile picture. So far I've managed to resist peas of any kind, which is probably for the best.
The stock.xchng has a lot of free-use stock photography. I used orange splash by Henkster, and monkeyed it with Macromedia Fireworks, which I'm getting more comfortable with these days. Rachelle took the profile picture in the Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens. We have a year pass.
With some leftover macaroni, a little know-how, and a lot of careless risk-taking, an ordinary hot dog can become a MACAHOTRONDOGNI. A hotmacadongroni. Thing.
- 1 large globful macaroni-and-cheese
- 1 weiner
- 1 bun, scoop out the bread
- ketchup, mustard, relish, Bajan hot sauce
Slap macaroni glob into hollowed-out bun. Drop cooked weiner onto mac-and-bun from height of 3 inches. Squeeze condiments in that general direction. Fold. Eat.
I love games and gaming. I won't try to figure out why in this post. I will say right off the bat that "games" do not include "sports" in my personal lexicon. Nothing wrong with sports per se, I'm just not naturally interested in them. Probably this has to do with the fact that the games I like involve a "let's pretend" aspect to them, which doesn't translate to sports. "Let's pretend we're a bunch of people kicking this ball around" does not a feast for the imagination make.
Yes, sports are healthy. They are good. Just making a point.
There's been a real resurgence of board gaming in the last 10 years or so, and it all seems to have started with the "German games" best represented by Settlers of Catan, which garnered Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) in 1995. Could I be alive at a better time than this?
When I say "board games" I include games that don't actually use a board. In fact, not one of the games that follows actually has a board. Maybe I should have called them "tabletop games." Too late now. My DELETE key is overused as it is. You disagree. Fine.
Here are the board games we have in our closet and play pretty regularly. I would be delighted to beat you soundly at any one of them.
Settlers of Catan is a must-have. I have burned my Monopoly set, (except for the money, which I put toward my mortgage) and I will never go back. There are a number of add-ons and descendants that extend the game and change the nature of play so as to keep you addicted for the rest of your natural life. We have the Seafarers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan expansions. If you come to our house for a social call, we *will* inflict Settlers on you. We've also recently acquired Candamir: The First Settlers which is vaguely related, and we've played it a couple of times - just last night actually.
Carcassonne is another fine German game that I thought, initially, I had a lock on, but now screw up royally every time I play. On every turn, you draw and place a land tile, so the board gets built as you go. You get to choose where to place the tile, so long as it adjoins an existing tile and is suited to that spot (a road must join to a road, for example). You then decide whether to place one of your little guys (meeples) on the tile, and which role it'll play: knight, thief, monk, or farmer, depending on how it's placed. You garner points for controlling or "closing off" various areas of the board, and different strategies seem to pay off equally well: you can either try to gain a lot of quick cheap points, or invest in good positions for end game scoring. There are about a million expansions to this game.
Bang! is a Wild West card game where the outlaws try to shoot down the sheriff, the deputies try to stop them, and the renegade just gots to be the last man standing. It's kind of a strange game in that almost everyone is going to be eliminated, but somehow you don't mind, and play goes fast enough that you'll be joining a new game within 20 minutes. Competition is very direct - you inhume the other players with bullets and dynamite to knock them out of play! I haven't really figured out any particular strategy that works consistently, which is a good thing, actually, because no one player dominates, and it also means you must rely on your compadres' help to win. The game gets better the more players you have - 8 is best! Especially if they're Friesens. The card deck has both English and the original Italian, which somehow makes the game even better: Mancato! (Missed!)
Coloretto can be hard to explain, but everyone gets it as soon as they see it laid out. You collect coloured cards. At the end of every short round, you are forced to take some. For three colours you decide are "yours" (and you can change your mind on which three at any time), the colours you collect count for positive points, but any extra colour cards count against you. It's very tricky to get just the colours you want, and of course you want to stick everyone else with colours they don't need. Play goes quickly, and there's just enough thinking to keep you interested and vengeful: no "analysis paralysis" in this game, which is a vice of mine in games such as Scrabble, so much so my wife will never play Scrabble with me ever again.
Hive is brand new to me, but I like it a great deal. Only two players, mano a mano, and no board at all: just hex tiles with bugs on 'em. The tiles are nice and heavy and remind me of dominoes. Each type of bug has a different move, sort of like chess pieces, and though the rules are simple, the game play can be highly varied and complex. You can really develop involved long-term strategies and watch them come to fruition, or see the work of half an hour dashed because your opponent's queen bee moved one space. I guess that's like chess again, except I find chess a little too abstract and formal for my taste. Hive is a lot more fun.
We live in an "up-and-coming" neighbourhood, or at least I like to believe that. When I was growing up in this town, the Fernwood neighbourhood was not very well thought of. That was 30 years ago, and things have changed, for the better. There are still a few unsavoury elements, but for the most part community-minded families have taken over. The great part is that the neighbourhood is old, with a number of beautiful heritage houses and a plum "four corners" village which has just recently started to come alive.
Right down the road from us, however, in the opposite direction, is another "four corners" commercial node. It's fairly ugly. No grand turn-of-the-century buildings here, just 1950s two-story drab. Which is okay. Can't have everything.
There's a tiny useless video store, a haircut place, a boarded up laundromat, and an "antique" store that sells reject 1970s furniture that even basement-suite-dwelling college students wouldn't put their beer on (especially when they saw the prices). But these are all nothing, nothing, compared to the twin dingy leper scraghole corner stores that stare at each other across the street through their rheumy-eyed, putrefied, old-dead-fly, sun-bleached-posterized windows.
How they stay in business I'll never know. Porn and cigarettes, we think. And there's two of them! "I believe I'll purchase my copy of Cherry Pie and a pack of Tarball 100s from uh... hmm... Grubby Store #2 today!"
One is actually marginally more tolerable than the other. I don't even know what they're called, but the one on the north side lets in the least amount of light and smells like a catbox. I have been known to buy popsicles from the other one on the south side, but that doesn't stop me from pretending to lob Molotov cocktails whenever we go past.
A myth is not a lie. There is a lot of confusion about this.
A myth is a story that embodies a belief regarding some phenomenon of experience.
Some myths, you might think, can be lightly dismissed as primitive explanations of natural mechanisms. The sun is not pulled around in a sky chariot, it is a very large ball of gravitationally active gas. Silly historical people.
But this overlooks the primary function of a myth, which is to understand ourselves and our way in the world, and is about our psychology. It's all too easy to "disprove" a myth through the observation of physical facts, but this entirely misses the point.
We certainly feel comfortable telling children all kinds of stories, and these are not merely to entertain, but to help them absorb the knowledge and values we feel are important. I've never met a child who didn't love stories. On the other hand, I've never heard of a child who demanded more flashcards at bedtime.
When you wake up in the morning with the remembrance of a dream still lingering on in your foggy brain, how does it come out when you're describing it over the breakfast table? As a bulleted list of data? Or, by gum, in story form?
Is there a religion in the entire history of the world that has not been encapsulated and proliferated through a collection of canonical stories? Or a nation?
History is a story of what happened. Today's top news story is a story of what happened. Every event retold, ever, is a story construction about what happened.
Some stories, whether based on literal events or not, crystallize into myth because they capture something essential about the events they describe. It's often hard to put your finger on just what that essence is, but it seems that the harder it is to define, the more fruitful the myth is, and the more staying power it has.
Rachelle had the plague this week, probably the Norwalk virus. The high tide mark was when she was sitting on the john with a big mixing bowl in her lap, jetting from both ends, poor girl. The moans and cries from the bathroom were quite heart-rending.
But I, more beloved in the sight of heaven than my obviously sinful wife*, miraculously escaped affliction. An angel of the LORD hovered around and upon me, swatting off pesky flu bugs with a flaming sword. Looked like a hippy in a hotel bathrobe playing crazy golf, and the constant BZZRT in the astral dimensions was enough to make me wonder why the LORD didn't just send down some vaccine and dang the Old Testament conceits, but I guess if you're going to enjoy the protection of old Big Beard, you have to put up with all the wacky trappings.
* Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.