As If 2020 Couldn’t Get Any Weirder…

I’m sure my American followers have heard about the recent discovery of the Asian Giant Hornet (which American mainstream media has dubbed the “Murder Hornet”*) in the Pacific Northwest.

Yeah, about those things. I knew about them long before they made the news. My great-grandmother had mentioned them in passing (she grew up in Japan after all, where they are referred to as the oo-suzumebachi – or the “giant sparrow bee”). I don’t recall her ever mentioning anything about being stung by one, but I can’t remember for sure if she had.

Times like this honestly serve to make me miss her more. I’m not really freaked out by the hornets’ presence (save for the threat it could have on honeybees), but rather it makes me wistful for a simpler time.

In the meantime, for a balanced report on these, check out Nathaniel “Coyote” Peterson. He was brave enough to voluntarily take a sting from this hornet, and gives his experience here plus some other tidbits.

Stay safe out there!

*Addendum – “Murder Hornet” has to be the most ridiculous name I’ve ever heard. I vastly prefer the Japanese name.

Today’s Humor Has Been Brought to You By the “Throat Monster”

So my neuro-sister and twin soul Laina and I have been having a really snotty morning to say the least. Don’t believe me? Check out a snippet of our back and forth:

Yeah, the “Throat Monster” has been kicking both of our asses this morning. Anyway, it reminded me of this, which I just had to share. I guess there is someone for everyone after all.

Hope it brightens someone’s day who needs it.

Autistic Case Study – Michael Larson(?)

**This blog is a re-run from an old blog (with some additional commentary from last time), inspired by the upcoming 2019 reboot of PYL. I got no feedback last time, so I figured a rerun was appropriate.**

As a classic (and modern) game show buff, I can probably rattle off details about every major game show scandal that’s happened over the years, but this one has always intrigued me because I can’t help but wonder if this guy was autistic.

Michael Larson, in a single day, won $110,237** on a classic American game show called Press Your Luck. This was unheard of for game shows and especially on a show that relies more on pure dumb luck to amass cash as opposed to skill. Well, this guy didn’t need pure dumb luck to win. He had it all figured out.

For those who don’t remember, the game consisted of a question/answer round and a spin round, where you answered questions to earn spins on the bonus board which consisted of cash, prizes, bonus spins and the dreaded “Whammies” which if you landed on one you’d lose everything you had won up to that point. With the seemingly random operation of the game board, nobody could really beat the game right? WRONG.

Meet Michael Larson who did. People have always marveled at how he did it but I just get this feeling he was probably on the autism spectrum, just judging by his demeanor on the show, intense focus to do what he did and just the way he “came across.” Here’s his episode from PYL, if you have 40 minutes to watch it. Perhaps you can give me your opinions as well. As for how he did it, pay close attention to the board and see if you can figure it out yourself. As I watched his episode I figured it out pretty quickly myself, but none of my neurotypical friends noticed it. Pay particular attention to Michael’s 2nd and 3rd spins as well as Ed’s first spin. This is the easiest time to see what’s going on.

If you don’t have time or you didn’t see it yourself, here’s how he did it:

Takes a certain someone with an eye for pattern recognition, focus and a high attention to detail to notice these things. Wow. Again, as I watched the special on Larson’s episode I picked up on it pretty quickly but a lot of people don’t, and the producers didn’t think anyone would either. Alas, only 5 sequences was sure to be cracked sometime.

Adding to my suspicions that he was autistic are certain things that his family revealed about his private life in the 2003 GSN Documentary Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal. That can be found uploaded to YT in its entirety here, and if you have an hour and a half to kill it’s a worthy watch.

So what do you think? Does this guy come across as someone who would be on the autism spectrum or is my radar totally broken? I realize it’s speculation but I just get this feeling.

**Adjusting for inflation, in 2019 that would be the equivalent of $267,064. Quite a chunk of change. 

Random Saturday Post: Wiggles + Bagpipes?!?!?

So this might not have much to do with anything on this blog, but every now and then I find something that just amuses the hell out of me and I just have to share it. This is one of those things, and my friends/followers with young kids might really get a kick out of this.

So I was listening to some bagpipe music on YouTube yesterday and came across a few interesting gems which featured none other than the Australian children’s band known as The Wiggles, and all to bagpipe tunes I absolutely love (both to listen to and to play).

The first video I came across was this one, where they did the robot to the classic 6/8 jig “Glasgow City Police Pipers.” This is probably my favorite bagpipe tune of all time.

Then we have a reel called “High Road to Linton” which features Emma’s dancing skills as well as seemingly jibberish vocals to the music, but it’s actually not jibberish. It’s a system called canntaireachd (“KAN-ter-ack”) which is a system of vowel and consonant sounds that was used to pass down bagpipe music before the days of written music. Honestly, it’s still how I learn most bagpipe music personally. I can read music just fine but it’s just easier for me to sing it to myself and learn that way.

This last one is a reel called “Itchy Fingers” which is surprisingly easy to play. Here they did something interesting though – they added lyrics to it and turned it into a sea shanty of sorts. Very entertaining. I know they say “hornpipe is a dance for you and me” but it is in fact a reel.

Anyway, hope someone found this as entertaining as I did. Have a great day!

RIP Roland Orzabal’s Luscious Locks :'(

I never thought I’d see the day one of my musical idols hacked his hair off, but I guess that day has come, and it makes my soul cry. Why oh why did you do it, Roland?!?!?

ro-hair

First he ditched the earrings, now his hair? Why does it have to be this way?

My only thought when I saw a short-haired Roland:

I’m depressed. Excuse me while I go have a tune on the pipes in lamentation – maybe my bagpipe arrangement of “Shout” played a half speed will work…

 

It’s a Horrible Life

Disclaimer: The following is a rant based on my own philosophical views and is not intended to cause offense to anyone for whatever life or reproductive choices you all might have made, nor is it a reflection on how I actually live. 


So this past weekend the local Paramount Theater screened the Christmas classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. I have nightmares about being forced to watch that movie every year as a kid. It’s probably the worst movie ever made – horrendous acting, a ridiculous storyline, fictional beings (angels/god), and out-of-body experiences.

Anyway, none of that even touches my main gripe with the movie. My biggest gripe? The title itself. Life and wonderful do not belong in the same sentence together. Life is anything but wonderful – pain, suffering, disease, illness, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, pissing, shitting, finances, grief, heartbreak, jobs, war and the list goes on and fucking on. Wonderful? What a fucking joke.

Alas, none of us realize how terrible our lives really are. As South African philosopher David Benatar (PhD, Cape Town) argued in the books Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence and The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions, very few people realize how horrible their lives really are. We just live under a state of an irrational optimism bias – a Pollyanna principle as it were. Nobody is immune to it. Not even me.

So, we all know the story – George Bailey (James Stewart) infamously wishes that he had never been born to his “guardian angel” (what a bullshit notion) who then shows him an alternate reality in which he had never been born and the results of those around him, which the then (very erroneously and under duress) begs for his life back.

Nah, Mr. Bailey was right the first time – he WOULD have been better off never existing. But so would have everyone else around him. His actor would have been better off never existing, as would every last one of us. At the end of the day, the fact that we exist is a BAD thing.

As for why this is, there are a number of arguments but Dr. Benatar’s are no doubt the strongest. I already presented one of his arguments above. His other argument is much stronger and does not even take into account the relative pleasure-to-pain balance of one’s life. Rather, his argument (namely that of the asymmetry) generates that any amount of pain, however small or insignficant, invalidates any upside to existence. Whereas:

  1. The presence of pain is bad, and
  2. The presence of pleasure is good;
  3. The absence of pain is good even if there exists nobody to benefit from that good, but
  4. The absence of pleasure is not bad unless there already exists someone for which such an absence would be a deprivation.

So what does this mean? It means any amount of pain, however small or insignifant, outweighs even the greatest amount of pleasure. Put another way, “And all the love and all the love in the world won’t stop the rain from falling – waste seeping underground.”

Now, this is not to say we should all commit mass suicide. This is where Mr. Bailey might have been slightly misguided, namely in thinking that suicide was the best solution. There are many things one must take into account when thinking about suicide – the means, how it will affect those around them, etc. However, the only reason for these implications are because such a person already exists. These implications become null and void if the entity contemplating suicide had never existed. Nonetheless, I remain steadfast in my view that we all have the absolute and indisputable right to commit suicide if we see fit and that the government/state does not have any right to try to prevent someone from committing suicide. We didn’t ask to be born, therefore we have the right to reverse that action at any time, with or without reason.

So was Mr. Bailey correct in wishing he had never been born? In my view absolutely. Further, had he never been born, would those around him have been negatively impaced? In my view, no because they wouldn’t have known any different. Alas, further compounding that issue is all those others were also harmed by being brought into existence, and had they never been they’d have never suffered such unpleasantries.

So what about me. Do *I* wish I had never been born? Absolutely, without question the answer to that question is an emphatic “yes.” I 100% wish I had never been born. Further, even if some guardian angel were to appear to me and show me an alternate timeline in which I had never existed, I would not change my mind. I would still wish to never have been born at which point I imagine I would cease to exist in any form.

Do I wish to commit suicide? At the present time no, but there might come a time when I do. Now that I’ve already been forced into existence without my consent (no thanks to my biological parents), it could be argued that it would be bad to deprive myself of future pleasures, because as I already exist then the absence of pleasure would be a deprivation and thus bad. There’s also the issue of hurting what few people actually do give a shit about me, for even though would have been better never to have existed and our existences are all harms to us, they might be a benefit to some around us. Nobody, not even a crusty, bitchy antinatalist such as myself is immune to grief. That much should have been made obvious in my post a week ago today.

Anyway, I couldn’t let a showing of that movie go without some sharp critcism of not only the movie itself but also the message behind it. There ain’t nothing “wonderful” about life. Though some lives are better than others, no life is good enough to count as (non-comparatively) good. That much is obvious to anyone who steps back and looks at the evidence from an objective lens.

It’s a horrible life indeed.


Addendum: I had no idea my chosen title for this blog post is actually the title of a parody film of the aforementioned worst movie ever made. This might be worth checking out.

Hello From Texas Motor Speedway!

Hi all, Lynn here reporting to you directly from Texas Motor Speedway here in No Limits, TX! A triple header this weekend with the Camping World Truck Series race last night, the Xfinity series race about to go down and the Monster Energy Cup Series tomorrow!

While we’ve got some downtime, I figured I would share with you some pictures from the Xfinity Series garage. For the first time, NASCAR has opened up the garage to all those with infield access (just for a couple of hours but still) so I of course took advantage of it. Got some photos, hope you enjoy:

Of course no trip is without its mishaps and I’ve already had two this weekend. Yesterday I dropped my regular glasses somewhere along the way. After looking in the car and freaking out, I called the lost and found and lo and behold someone found them and turned them in! I guess some people are honest after all.

The other issue, well let’s just say I had a wardrobe malfunction. Somehow something caught on the fringe of my light pair of “Davy” Dukes and split them right up the leg vertically. I was lucky that I saw it before anyone else did because that could have had bad results. Luckily I had a few safety pins in the car and was able to get out to the car and address the situation. My temporary repair looks a little ridiculous…

…but at least it will prevent the free end of the tear from being blown up in the wind and giving everyone a glimpse of my skivvies. Hah.

Oh well. Fun times anyway. Hope you all are having a great weekend. I’m heading out for a little Minuto sized cigar before the race gets going. Have a good weekend all, and sorry I’ll be late with SLS this weekend.

Book Review: Sex, Drugs & Opera

I mentioned a few days prior that I hadn’t read a novel since my senior year of high school (almost 14 years ago). As hard as it might be to believe I’m not much of a reader, I’m just not. Alas, on a bored whim, and going through a bit of a dry spell with reading (I DO read a lot of philosophy and general nonfiction; just not so many novels) I decided I would give this one a shot. After reading it, I figured it was only fair to give it a rather amateur-ish review.

Written by Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears fame, Sex, Drugs & Opera: There’s Life After Rock ‘n’ Roll tells the story of a semi-retired popstar, Solomon Capri, who seems to have the good life. However, not all is as it seems in his life, with a marriage on the rocks and other home life trouble. Capri frantically scrambled to re-kindle a music career, but not as a pop star, but by returning to his teenage years to try to reinvent himself as an opera singer. Sex, Drugs & Opera tells the story of his trials and tribulations in both his professional and personal lives, with a few very interesting and very unexpected plot twists. I shall not reveal anything in too much detail here as to not spoil it for potential readers, but let’s just say if you like intensity, this book is a must-read.

The pacing of the novel was what I would call medium to fast, or so it seemed. Maybe it was my interest level, but I read this book in about 10 hours total. The print edition being 272 pages long, that’s 27.2 pages per hour, which I’m sure seems slow for many of you avid readers but it felt fast for me, the slower reader. Character development was adequate, substantial enough to get a personality of each character but maybe not too many of the really fine details. The story is told from a first-person perspective through the eyes of the main character Solomon Capri, and some accounts were so vivid that I couldn’t help but wonder if Orzabal was just novelizing his own experiences. A little research showed that some events are loosely based on events in his personal life but not much more. Transition from chapter to chapter was well done, keeping me on my toes just wondering what happens next.

This is very much a book for mature audiences. There are some sex scenes and multiple references of substance abuse (predictable from the title) and quite a lot of strong profanity, as well as some other very adult drama. It’s not so X-rated as to be pornographic, but this is not an appropriate book for a child or young teenager. An older teenager should be able to handle the content reasonably well.

Needless to say I thought this was an excellent book. Is there anything Roland Orzabal can’t do? He really knows how to write a pop song, he’s got pipes for days, he plays multiple instruments, does art and has now proven his writing prowess. A quick and engaging read, Sex Drugs & Opera should make its way into any book enthusiast’s reading list. If you can handle the mature content, you will enjoy this book.

No Revolution, Maybe Someone Somewhere Else…

…could show you something new about you and your inner song.

Hmm, I forget who it was that said that. Oh, that’s right, it was the great British philosopher Roland Orzabal! Silly me!

Philosopher, yeah, we’ll go with that…

Anyway, I digress. First things first, glaringly obvious mega fail on my part: I totally forgot Song Lyric Sunday this week. I’m so sorry. I didn’t have hardly any time to think and there wasn’t a glaringly obvious choice for the prompt for me so I’ll just make up for it next week.

Anyway, back to the glaringly obvious song lyric reference in the title of this post (for those who didn’t get it – “Break It Down Again” by TFF). This weekend it really became prophetic. So prophetic in fact, that it’s a direct contrast to an almost complete opposite post I wrote a year ago (which had the preceding lyric in the title – “It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light”).

So I dropped into my favorite local watering hole last night for some wine and pizza as I always do, and caught up with bartender friend. Well one of her other friends was there in the seat next to me and she introduces us and one of the first things “Friend B” says to me is “I *LOVE* Tears for Fears” (note: I was wearing my concert shirt last night).

So what started off as a conversation about TFF morphed into a general music conversation which then gave way to just general life conversation. I got two certain vibes from her almost straight away but we eventually got around to those topics and I was right – 1) she’s on the autism spectrum and 2) she’s lesbian. We both shared with each other the challenges we’d faced over the years and it led to me pouring my soul out to her. We talked about my tattoos, how and why I got my first tattoo, you name it.

Very rarely do I pour my soul out to someone I just met like that, but she just gave me that vibe and I knew it was going to be the start of something great when we talked each others’ ears off for almost three hours and instead of going our own ways and having tons of leftovers we split a pizza and a dessert. She then asked me if we could be friends, to which I agreed. I looked myself up on FB from her phone and just like that we were FB friends. As I said my teary-eyed “till we meet again” in a long, tight hug, I was hoping I’d see her again soon but I had no idea how soon at the end of the night.

Fast-forward to this morning. Bartender friend and I already had plans to go to lunch and a movie today and Friend B texted bartender friend and wanted to do the same. So what do we do? We go as a trio, of course! I was so excited she wanted to tag along.

So on a nice, serene, rainy Sunday (how appropriate, what comes next after all? – “And all the love, and all the love in the world won’t stop the rain from falling…”) we all set out for Thai food for lunch at a little hole in the wall Thai restaurant, which is always amazing AND hot/spicy!!! Of course, that was just the start of the day. To kill some time between lunch and the screening of the movie we chose to go see, I ran the crew up to the old Episcopal church I used to do change ringing at and showed them the building and gave them a bit of an “education” as it were about the various parts of the building, all while still sitting under a kiss of light rain.

Not wanting to overstay our welcome, and owing to a bathroom emergency, we retired to Friend B’s house just a couple of blocks away. Though I got lost on the way (damn stoplights!!!) I eventually found my way there as Friend B showed us the house, I played a few tunes on her guitar (couldn’t help it!) and we all sat down for a glass of wine and a toast to new friends.

We toasted entirely too long as we all loaded up into Friend B’s car (and I left my car at the house) and headed to the theater hoping we’d be just in time for the start of the movie but done with all the bullshit previews. No such luck, but we only missed about 5 minutes. Our movie choice was The Spy Who Dumped Me, and it was by and large stupid but it was at least hilarious and the fight scenes were very well executed, and the cameo by (a fake, obviously) Edward Snowden just make it that much more epic. The three of us hadn’t laughed so hard in forever. It was so great.

The trek back to Friend B’s house wound up being the scenic route so plenty of fun conversation was had, including a rather long discussion of the soon-to-be-felt after effects of the Thai food we all ate for lunch. You chili heads know what I refer to – the dreaded “firerrhea” of course (let’s just break it down and bring the chorus full circle – “…waste seeping underground”). When you can talk about having lava shits with your friends, you know you’re both awkward, weird and super tight all rolled into one!

The day came to an end as we arrived back at Friend B’s house and bartender friend and I gave our teary-eyed, arm-locked goodbyes to Friend B and I chauffeured bartender friend back to her house where we did the same. Needless to say I didn’t want the day to end but it had to.

Wow. I’m just at a loss for words. I really, really needed this. Going through some personal life bullshit and work isn’t exactly going smoothly right now so meeting someone that I have so much in common with was just amazing. It’s the start of another great friendship for me. What a weekend.

Alas, back to “real life” tomorrow. Don’t make me…

My “True” Dream Job

If it is one thing I do bitch about a lot it’s my job. Not going to lie, it’s a bit of a drag. My current company is leaps and bounds better than my previous one for sure, but after the novelty wore off I’m left feeling less than satisfied again. It’s a pervasive pattern and one I’m likely doomed to forever given a new life development that will in all likelihood doom me to corporate servitude forever (more on that later). Alas, give me this one post to really dream.

As much as I wonder about airline life and had it worked out the way I’d have planned, the more I realize I probably would have been in the same spot I am now. It would have gotten old after awhile. Not to mention how regimental it is. My “dream job” likely would not have been so dreamy after all.

So I just put that in quotes because I often say it would have been my dream job but not exactly. My true dream job would be almost impossible to get into, at least in this day and age. Had I been born a couple of decades earlier maybe not so much.

I am often asked if I could have any job in the world what would it be. I have no hesitation about this one: I would be a game show host. What’s not to love about that? You work 1-2 days per week (long hours mind you; most game shows tape a week’s worth of shows in one sitting – Jeopardy! tapes 5 games in one day, for example) and get paid some serious cash. Oh, and you get to make fun of idiots on national television. What’s not to love?

I think back to my childhood and remember some of the people I looked up to – Wink Martindale, Bill Cullen, Bob Barker, Peter Tomarken, Alex Trebek. I always thought of how cool it would be to be them.

As far as game shows I’d have loved to have hosted? Press Your Luck would have been killer. I’d have also loved to have hosted Supermarket Sweep, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble and the like. I don’t think I’d have liked to hosted one show forever but rather a variety of shorter lived ones. Again, Martindale comes to mind for the person whose hosting career I would have idealized for myself.

I’ve loved game shows since I was a kid. I’m very much a game show buff. They’re still one of my main areas of interest. Odd? Maybe so, but so am I.

Alas, I’m but a mere mortal so I’m stuck in mundane jobs and will be until I die. What’s so fucking great about existence again? I wish I knew because I just don’t.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?