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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Uncle Hyena's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, October 27th, 2016
7:43 pm
Accountant, Ouija, Reacher
Three movies, and a few other odds and ends.

"The Accountant" is a first rate thriller. It even reality checks fairly well. We liked it a great deal.

"Ouija: Origin of Evil" is a decent if slightly inferior prequel to 2014's "Ouija." Once again, the Hasbro endorsement is more than a little amusing.

Along the way... Several days spent doing home repair to make sure the garage roof doesn't collapse this winter, still another trip south to visit my father, and the box in the breakfast nook is still a conundrum.

Uncle Hyena
6:55 pm
Random bits from Facebook
October 18:
I just stumbled across the phrase, "learning curb", used without the least trace of irony, when "learning curve" was intended. I weep for my language...

October 18:
Once upon a time, one of my mother's friends (who, like my mother, was a second generation Swedish-American) gave my mother a wicker goat (which is a Christmas tradition of sorts in Scandinavia). The friend was a bit confused about things, and told my mother it was a "Swedish Horse."

My brothers and I saw it, and asked, "What's with the goat?"

"It's not a goat; it's a Swedish Horse."

"Mom, it has HORNS and a BEARD. It's a GOAT."

"My friend said it was a horse, so it's a horse."

So for something like 30 years, the wicker goat sat on the sun porch, and was ever and always referred to as "The Swedish Horse". Loyalty and friendship absolutely trump reason, every time. That was my mother.

October 23:
Forty or so (non-consecutive) man hours later, the emergency portion of the emergency home repair has been completed, and the garage roof will not collapse this winter. In honor of this, we have the following, which seems to want to be called, "The Quitter's Cadence." (Those with military experience will know why.)

I am stiff and I am sore; please don't make me do no more.
I'm in pain from toe to head; I just want to go to bed.

October 23:
Steve Dillon died yesterday, at the age of 57. He was one of my favorite comics artists, an absolute master of using art to serve the story transparently. The world is diminished.

October 23:
Forty or so (non-consecutive) man hours later, the emergency portion of the emergency home repair has been completed, and the garage roof will not collapse this winter. In honor of this, we have the following, which seems to want to be called, "The Quitter's Cadence." (Those with military experience will know why.)

I am stiff and I am sore; please don't make me do no more.
I'm in pain from toe to head; I just want to go to bed.

October 24:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2012):
Most married people who are not actively complaining about their spouses will probably tell you that they have a pretty good marriage, regardless of what is actually true. So how do you make the point emphatically?

We've been married for 28 years.
We go out to the movies about 100 times a year.
We hold hands in the theater.
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
4:22 pm
Friday, October 21st, 2016
11:27 am
Rocky Not-Quite-Horrible
This is WAY more detail than I usually go into, but given the significant percentage of my friends list that, like me, has seen the 1975 movie MANY times, I thought it appropriate.

We watched "The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again" in almost real time last night; we started an hour late, which let us time slice out the commercials. Given the DEEP conceptual flaw at the center of the production, it was actually pretty good. I have now seen four versions of this story (1975 movie, live local theater, filmed London theater, and this) and this one is third best. (The London production was pretty bad.)

The good first:

The cast was generally good. Significantly, most of them (in particular the actors for Janet, Brad, and Columbia) were better singers than the 1975 cast. The staging was occasionally quite clever: Having part of "Dammit, Janet" set over a tombstone labelled "Mary Shelley"; using the "Castle Theater" to unify the Usherette's opening number with the rest of the story; having Rocky rise out of an ice bath labelled as a soda dispenser. They did all three verses of "Superheroes", and Tim Curry-- stroke damaged, heart-breakingly game Tim Curry-- SANG parts of the third verse, which just ripped my heart out.

The bad:

Given the strength of the original score, the music was surprisingly bad. The arrangements for "Sweet Transvestite" and "I'm Going Home" were awful, and they managed to bungle the wedding march.

Reeve Carney was terrible as Riff Raff. He doesn't seem to know how to either smirk or leer, and instead just grins stupidly. And he couldn't handle the music (which is admittedly a brutal part).

Ben Vereen can act and sing, but didn't bother to do either of them in this production as Dr. Scott.

While some of the staging was clever, some of it was BAD: They did not, apparently, have a working elevator, so they did something stupid with a cherry picker for the opening of "Sweet Transvestite". They chose to eliminate Eddie's freezer, and had him enter and exit through a window, which set them up to ALMOST eliminate the later cannibalism joke, thus killing two scenes with one decision. And they eliminated the RKO radio tower, which impaired (but didn't quite cripple) the death scene.

For the most part, they stayed very close to the original script, but what changes they made were generally BAD. Most particularly, the lines in Brad's bedroom scene did NOT exactly mirror those in Janet's bedroom scene, killing another joke. The blocking in the bedroom scenes was AWFUL, which didn't help.

And now we come to the elephant in the room, which is the matter of Laverne Cox. She has a great voice, but her acting was impaired by the bizarre way in which she chose to deliver the lines, using a wildly inconsistent British accent coupled with a theatrical gay lisp. But the real problem with her performance was that she just didn't fit the part.

I will allow, for the sake of argument, that this story might work with a gender switched Frankie, IF Rocky is also gender switched, and Brad and Janet are significantly rewritten. But it is very much a package. The main character arcs are based on Janet's sexual repression, and Brad's latent homophobia. If Frankie is female, and the other characters are not changed, Janet's arc is diluted, and Brad's pretty much ceases to exist.

In 1975, when Tim Curry's disturbingly attractive, significantly androgenous Frankie sang "Sweet Transvestite", he was a man in women's clothing assaulting the sexual orientation of every straight male in the audience. In 2016, when Laverne Cox's legally and visibly female Frankie sings the same song, she is a woman in women's clothing, and who really cares?

Final assessment: Worth watching for historical purposes. Otherwise, just fast forward through everything where Tim Curry is not on the screen, and then watch "Superheroes" from start to finish. THAT is worth watching.

(Dementia adds: It was REALLY solid through "Science Fiction Double Feature", "Dammit, Janet", and "Light in the Darkness", got sort of lost during "The Time Warp", and DIED with "Sweet Transvestite.")

Uncle Hyena
Sunday, October 16th, 2016
3:45 pm
Peregrine, Horizon, Katwe
Sixteen days since my last regular entry, but most of the odds and ends of life have been reported, anyway, so we have movies:

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is a pretty good YA targeted movie based on a very strange book of photography. It works well enough, and we enjoyed it a great deal.

"Deepwater Horizon" is, as far as I can tell, a fairly accurate dramatic presentation of the 2010 oil rig disaster. It is well done, and we enjoyed it.

"The Queen of Katwe" is a Triumph of the Underdog movie based on the real life rise of an international chess star from EXTREME poverty in Uganda. It is well done on all levels, and since these movies almost always work if you let them, and we never resist, we enjoyed it a great deal.

In other news, the 3D printer is still in its box in the breakfast nook. I will probably claim it. Probably.

Uncle Hyena
11:09 am
Random bits from Facebook
September 23:
In August of 2013, when I was working 72 hours a week, I was working out on a rowing machine and managed, with some pride, to log 100 KM in the month. It occurred to me this morning that this month, I have done the same thing, sort of: 102 KM IN THE WATER, real boat, real oars. Rather a different experience.

September 24:
Jim Henson's birthday today. Let rejoice for what he gave us as we mourn for what might have been.

September 24:
While watching recorded television, one of my cranial denizens handed me the plans to a booby trap more horrible than any I have previously encountered in fiction (or on the news). My brain is a truly horrible place.

September 25:
His birthday:
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
-- Shel Silverstein, American poet, cartoonist and composer (1930-1999)

October 2:
His birthday:
“The truth has never been of any real value to any human being - it is a symbol for mathematicians and philosophers to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”
-- Graham Greene, English novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and journalist, (1904-1991) (Thanks to Bob B. for pointing this one out.)

October 2:
Went camping yesterday, for one night, for the first time since 2010. Was too lazy to mess with a tent, slept in the back of the van; it's bigger and more comforatable than the tent, anyway. Dented my skull slightly walking into a low beam in the shelter we were gathered in. Got next to no sleep due to sinus problems. Had a good time anyway, but am sick now. Lots of sleep tonight, hope things are better tomorrow. Thanks to Pete, Tom, and Mark for inviting a guy with no kids along on a father/son outing.

October 4:
Today is the birthday or one Damon Runyon (1880 to 1946), in whose honor it has been suggested that we all effect a Brooklyn accent, avoid the use of contractions and the past tense, and generally obfusticate our conversationalism with hyperbolical sentence structure and hallucinatory vocabulism.

October 4:
I had three goals for today: Get a boat in the water in October (which I have never done before); roll the logged mileage for Suchia up to more than twice what it was at the beginning of the year; add the stretch between Burlington and the Rochester dam to my Fox River travels. All three accomplisheds, though the third proved to be harder than I anticipated; the current is FIERCE in some of those sections. This was supposed to be my LAST canoe day of the season, except... I only needed about five miles, and got 11.3, and now I am only five miles away from having 100 for the year... AARGH!

October 5:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke
"Any sufficiently obfuscated magic is indistringuishable from technology." -- Paul Haynie

October 9:
(Dredged from 2010)
Marvelously arcane poker-speak:

Holding 9,000, I limped in for 20 with pocket aces. Someone went all in for 4000; I called, a third player called. Ten-high flop, Player 3 raised 2000; I called. Checked around on the Turn, third ace on the river. No flush, no pair on board, and MAYBE a Jack-high straight. I went all in, Player 3 folded, and I was holding 19,000. I left the table grinning.

October 9:
5.2 miles at Sterling Lake this afternoon; 100.7 for the season, which is now officially over for me. I put the boat away, and actually wiped it down with a damp cloth. I have never done that before, but I have never officially called the season before; there has always been the hope of one more day. This year, I am just deciding that I won't steal any more time from my train wreck of a life to go boating. It's been a good year.

October 10:
Stuff that gets said in my household:

The largest segment of the fiction market is romance, which is female oriented "happily ever after" fiction. The male oriented equivalent, which is a smaller but still large market (and includes things like Conan and Mack Bolan and the majority of Westerns), ends "sort of happily for the time being." Or, to put it another way, "The job is done, let's have a drink."

October 11:
32 years ago tonight, I participated in an Intellivision Baseball tournament in my parent's basement with my brother Pete, and our friends Greg Case and Steve Marinich. It was also the last night I lived in that house...

October 12:
On this day in 1864, John Tenniel presented Charles (Lewis Carroll) Dodgson with the first finished "Alice" illustration, which showed the White Rabbit scurrying away from Alice. On this day in 1893, Mr. Tenniel was knighted by Queen Victoria, the first illustrator to be so honored.

October 12:
Life in Illinois:
Phone message: "Please vote for Senator Jailbird this November. He is due out on parole before the first of the year, and we have every expectation that he will be able to complete his next term without interruption."

October 14:
A variation on a recurring theme, in a haiku:

Lustful unicorn
Carries away fair maiden
Never seen again.
Saturday, October 8th, 2016
12:25 pm
Schrodinger's 3D Printer
There is a large box sitting on the table in the breakfast nook. It may contain a 3D printer. It may just contain a small amount of administrative hassle. I have 30 days to decide.

A few days ago, the Amazon "Deal of the Day" included the Robo 3D R1 Plus 3D printer. I have been interested in getting into 3D printing for a while now, so I looked over the specs, and did some general research, and learned that the Amazon deal was good, and the printer was pretty good, and if you bought and installed minor upgrade X, and printed out and installed minor upgrades Y and Z, you ended up with a really good printer at a really good price. But I still wasn't sure. It was really too much money for a toy, but a REALLY good price for an investment, and if it led to my acquiring/ reacquiring/polishing some marketable skills, it was a GOOD investment.

But there was the time pressure thing, and the deal was good enough to make me sweat... But the thing is returnable, if unopened, no questions asked, for 30 days. And of course at the moment, I am sick, and in no condition to make decisions.

In the meantime, there is a box on the table in the breakfast nook, and it contains a 3D printer if I decide that it does.

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
8:54 pm
Friday, September 30th, 2016
8:29 pm
Jones, Seven, Andrea, Porch
Seventeen days. Shame on me.

"Bridget Jones' Baby" is stupid beyond belief, but the cast is so engaging that the end result is pretty watchable anyway. We enjoyed it, in spite of the brain cells that committed suicide during the movie.

"The Magnificent Seven" is a worthy remake. It is not without problems, but it is still wonderful. The old saw was that the US western frontier was the perfect setting for movies, and this movie seems to validate the argument.

Got up to Lake Andrea on the 26th, finally. Only did one lap of the lake due to wind, but it would have been a shame to let the season end without running Andrea at least once; I still regard it as my home lake.

Spent all summer trying to figure out how to fix the leak in the porch floor/ garage roof, finally figured out a mode of attack, and found out that things had gotten much worse in the meantime. Did some emergency repair, still working a long term solution. Grrr.

Uncle Hyena
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
9:42 pm
Frankenstein, Place, Dog, Michigan, Violin, Chainsaw, Crossroads, Sloop,
September 4 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
Continuing the recent venting about the intellectual bankruptcy of literary academia, and the difference between "literary" and "popular" fiction, we have the following.

Hyena: Name a novel that was actually written during the Regency.

Dementia (who has a degree in literature): The Regency wasn't very long...

Hyena: I guarantee you know one. In fact, pretty much everyone in America knows one.

Dementia: <>

Hyena: It was written by a woman...

Dementia: <> Oh. That.

Yeah, that. 197 years later, never out of print, known by pretty much everyone. The literati occasionally try to claim it, but it has always been popular fiction, and it always will be, probably until civilization collapses if the last two centuries are any indication. Not that there isn't plenty in the book for the literati to play with, but that isn't what has kept it in print. Not too shabby for a ghost story written by the least talented writer at the party...

September 7 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
(Inspired by a story about a Benedictine monk whose tendency to hide out on top of a wind turbine he maintained was discovered by a photo drone.)
Once I had a secret place
Where I could go to be alone;
Then some jerk got in my face
With a stupid flying drone.

Now it's posted on the internet,
As far from secret as a place can get.

But still, with all the drones around
My place is fifteen stories off the ground.

September 12 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
I haven't seen the dog today;
I haven't heard him howl;
But I know he's not too far away,
'Cause I sure can hear him growl.

September 14:
Did a brief foray through Waukegan Harbor, and just sort of tagged Lake Michigan proper. There was a 600 foot long ore carrier (M/V Sam Laurer our of Wilmington, DE) leaving the Gypsum dock, so I skirted the Yacht Club and THEN rowed out the channel, past the breakwater, and decided that today was not a good day to die. BIG lake, SMALL boat. Still, I did it.

September 15:
I found myself alone with a mothballed, mine for the taking violin. I had never attempted to play any bowed or fretless instrument before. I tuned it to itself, plucked out some tolerable scales, and managed to bow one clear note on each string, in spite of more than half of the strands on the bow being broken. Watch this space.

September 18 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2013):
Back in September of 2002, I got stupid with a chainsaw, and tore up my right thumb. It healed nicely, but I still have the scars. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, the old injury started to throb. Eleven years to the days since it happened. Weird as all get out, but I have gotten used to that. Now I just want it to stop.

September 20:
Dementia's ability to fake sincerity is wonderful and terrifying.

September 20:
We had just finished watching the first episode of a new TV series.
Dementia (who owns the remote): OK to erase this?
Hyena: Technically, we should burn it and bury the ashes at a crossroads at midnight, but I guess erasing it is the best we can do.
(For the record: "The Good Place.")

September 22 (Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2014):
Dementia has tried to learn to play the guitar a few times over the years, but like many of us, lacks the necessary manual dexterity. Recently she has acquired a baritone ukulele, essentially a half-sized guitar with only the four highest pitched strings. She has been practicing it diligently, and making good progress. Last night as I was brushing my teeth she played through a long and melodic series of chords smoothly. When I had finished, I complimented her, and asked her what the song was.

"I don't really know the melody well enough to hear it," she said. "It's 'Sloop John B.'"

I smiled. "Strum the first chord." She did, I listended, found the note, and started to sing. She was working off a words and chords chart, and had no trouble following through the verse and chorus. When we had finished, I said, "That... WORKED." I smiled broadly.

"Yeah," she said with an equally broad smile. "That did."

One takes one's triumphs where one finds them...

Uncle Hyena
9:10 pm
12 Miles on the Chain O' Lakes
Once again, linking to Facebook to make photo transfer easier: https://www.facebook.com/paul.haynie/posts/10157538658240512?notif_t=like¬if_id=1474681275440865

The Chain O' Lakes includes 15 different lakes along the Fox River; the Fox actually flows through three of them; the others are connected by canals and, in one case, questionable nomenclature. (Fox Lake and Nippersink Lakes are the same thing, hydrographically.) This trip took me from Grass Lake through Lake Marie, Bluff Lake, Spring Lake, Petite Lake, Fox Lake, Nippersink Lake, and back to Grass Lake again.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, September 15th, 2016
1:20 pm
24 Miles on the Fox River
Once again, pointing from LiveJournal to Facebook to make the photo process simpler: My Fox River trip from September 12: https://www.facebook.com/paul.haynie/posts/10157499350110512?notif_t=like¬if_id=1473957236424708
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
8:45 pm
Hell, Story, Mechanic, Labyrinth, Sully, Row, Row, Row
Five movies and three rowing expeditions, one of them major.

"Hell or High Water" is a caper movie of a sort. The trailers are grim, but the movie is actually a bit more fun and significantly less depressing than advertised. I saw it by Hobson's Choice, and liked it well enough.

"The Neverending Story" is a German-made English language film based on a very popular (but pretentious and depressing) German children's novel. We saw it on original release, and were thoroughly unimpressed; I saw it to see if my opinion had changed in the intervening 32 years, and it hadn't.

"Mechanic: Resurrection" is a Jason Statham movie. It is neither the best or the worst of the breed, but since we are generally fond of most of them, that was fine.

"Labyrinth" is another mid-80s children's epic Dementia and I saw separately (since I was incarcerated in Oklahoma that summer), but loved. 30 years later, it is still flawed but wonderful. It's a bit horrifying to know that it was a failure on original release.

"Sully" gives us Clint Eastwood directing Tom Hanks to tell the story of the US Airways Flight 1549, which swallowed a flock of Canada Geese and did and emergency landing in the Hudson River in January of 2009. Given that the envent itself lasted less than half an hour, a great deal of craft is necessary to create a movie that is adequately dramatic while remaining true to the source material. It works very well, and we enjoyed the film a great deal.

On the 8th I did a short rowing recon trip of the facilities (or lack thereof) in Burlington, WI, and then on the 9th I did a short rowing expedition on Sterling Lake. And then on the 12th...

On the 12th I accomplished another major expedition, 24 miles on the Fox River from Burlington to Grass Lake. Details and photos will be on Facebook soonish.

Uncle Hyena
Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
3:20 pm
Geneva, Ernie, Bristol, Nikki, Ruminations
Thinky thoughts...

So, Thursday I did the Geneva Lake Circuit. Friday I returned to Lake Geneva (Geneva is a city in Switzerland, Lake Geneva is a body of water in Switzerland and a town in Wisconsin, and Geneva Lake is a body of water in Wisconsin, got it?) to help Ernie G. celebrate his birthday. There was a game of "San Juan" in progress when I got there, and eventually a game of "Liar's Dice" after that, and the usual conversation and foolishness.

Saturday Dementia and I returned to Bristol, her second trip of the year, my thirteenth. We wandered, she bought a few things, and eventually she worked up the nerve to climb the castle (a climbing wall), at which she succeeded admirably.

Sunday I put on full Ren Faire drag, but bailed out of the parking queue because I just wasn't up for the crowds. I considered going canoeing at Sterling Lake; it wasn't very crowded, but then realized I didn't have my rowing gloves with me (and my hands were still a bit raw from Thirsday). I went home, checked in at Great America to take advantage of an absurd deal for next year's season pass, and then met the Incomparable Nikki (TM) for dinner and conversation.

Monday was the last day of the season at Bristol, and I was there in full drag for several hours. I listened to some music, heard a few REALLY twisted dark fairy stories, and had a few random conversations. It was all kind of bittersweet. I have had a good time at Bristol this year, but the circumstances were unusual and possibly unique, so this might be a once in a lifetime experience. We will always be back once or twice, but I don't know beyond that. Time will tell.

So... About those thinky thoughts.

Late in the Geneva Circuit, after the sun had gone down, there was a difficult section where I was crossing waves that were large enough to be dangerous, and the thought drifted through my head that I rather doubted one would ever find an honest self-professed atheist who had ever been out in a storm in a small boat (If you haven't heard my rant about the emotional bankruptcy of atheism and actually want to hear it some time, ask.), and THAT led to one of my cranial denizens asking, "So where does that leave YOU?" And I thought about it, and eventually answered, "This lake is my friend. She's playing with me; she doesn't WANT to hurt me. That doesn't mean she CAN'T, of that she WON'T, if I am stupid, but all I need is a little caution, and a little respect, and it will be fine." And of course it was.

Nikki and I go back a LONG way. These days, she is a practicing psychologist, among other things. She is always charming, always pleasant to be around, and Sunday was no exception. We discussed the nature of happiness, and she asked me what I got out of rowing, which evolved to the question of what I get out of being on the water, which I couldn't answer beyond, "It feels right." We talked about her life; I didn't tell her, and should have, that she seems to have a groundedness that I have not seen in her before (which is not to say that I ever felt it was lacking). We talked about my situation, and she said, "You're not really depressed, you're just pathologically pragmatic. And you tend to express yourself darkly." Which made a great deal of sense.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, September 1st, 2016
9:55 am
Geneva Lake Circuit
I often link things that started in LiveJournal into Facebook. This time, there is a photo essay of sorts on Facebook, and I am linking it back to here. We'll see if it works.

For the record, I rowed the 20.5 mile perimeter of Geneva Lake on September 1, and that is the topic at hand.


Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
8:33 pm
Jeans, Lightning, Lovecraft, Unicorn, Milne, Rackham, Art, Fraser, Computer, Shelley, Lawn
Random bits from Facebook:
August 18:
Stuff that comes up in conversation:
Hyena: One of the sexiest outfits any woman can wear is a tank top, jeans, a leather jacket, and boots. Little or no makeup, plain or black nails. It works for nearly any age, and almost any body type. But you have to have the attitude.

Hyena: Come to think of it, I have only ever dated one woman who was inclined to dress like that, and look how that has turned out. (Dementia, who owns and and has worn THOUSANDS of variations on that outfit, laughed.

Hyena: No amount of Spandex or factory processing can EVER make a pair of jeans as sexy as a pair of 501s that have EARNED their softness...

August 18:
We watched a (pretty lame) movie tonight that had an Ariel in it, and of course I recited the relevant couplet. I have never sat down to memorize "52 Vincent Black Lightning"; I suppose that I should. I know most of it already.
It's a night for it, in any case. My portion of the linked post was written on the heels of my Aunt Mary's sudden death in 2005... http://unclehyena.livejournal.com/89037.html

August 20:
It's H.P. Lovecraft's birthday. Feel free to do something unspeakably horrible.

August 21:
There was a woman I saw a couple of different times at Bristol, yesterday wearing a blue sort-of tie died tee shirt that featured a unicorn head silhouette and the words, "Spirit animal." I resisted the urge to talk to her, and just gnashed my teeth. I understand that unicorns have been transmogrified, over the course of the last century, into fluffy bunnies with hooves, but GODS! There has to be a limit to the stupidity, doesn't there? (Don't answer that...)

August 21:
It's Christopher Robin Milne's birthday. Tell a plush toy that you love it. Be sincere.

August 21:
Dementia came with me to Bristol today. We were looking at flags when I noticed a young couple looking at the pirate flags. I pointed to the first one. "This is 20th century junk." Then on to the second one. "This one, on the other hand, is about 300 years old, and pirates fought and died under it. It belonged to a pirate named Jack Rackham." The girl lit up, didn't quite squeal. She said she knew about Rackham from the show "Black Sails." This led to my quickly recounting the details of Rackham, Anne Bonney, and Mary Read. The girl was rapt; her fellow obviously wanted me to die a fast and horrible death. I didn't care. And they bought Rackhams's flag.

August 22:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
During a stray moment this morning, I came across an old poll that had been done on "Wait but why?". Respondents were asked to make a choice; some super powered being was going to either kill 100 random people, or destroy all of the art in the Louvre. Failing to decide destroyed everything. This didn't take any thought at all for me, and I was surprised that (as far as I could see; I did not have time to read the whole thread) the response was unanimous against me. (Though it is worth mentioning that when I put the question to Dementia, she felt the same way I did.) OF COURSE you save the art; people are just people. And if you are wondering: My answer does not change if I am one of the one hundred. Let's phrase it another way: Which is more valuable: 100 humans, or an irreplaceable piece of humanity's SOUL?

August 23:
A successful writer died, and a few years later, his wife died. After that, his children cleaned out the family home and found a locked safe. Once the safe was professionally cracked, they found that it contained the manuscript of a novel that their father had written more than 50 years earlier, when he was working as a journalist. They showed the manuscript to their father's publisher, and it was decided to publish it.
The writer? George MacDonald Fraser
The novel is called, "Captain in Calico."
Time between knowing it existed and having a copy on the way to me? About three minutes.

August 26:
Dementia's primary computer lives in the TV room, which is not climate controlled. The other day, the keyboard freaked out, though the mouse was still functional. She managed to log in once, and did a lot of limping around, got a backup to run, and then did her normal computer things with the backup travel computer. At my suggestion, the computer was taken to the air conditioned bedroom and allowed to run for several hours, then powered down and put in a sealed bag before it could cool off, and then was taken back out into the world and allowed to acclimate (still in the bag) and THEN it was taken out and fired up. Ambient humidity had fallen in the meantime. All is now well. Proving once again that hairless apes are still occasionally smarter than forces of nature.

August 30:
It's Mary Shelley's birthday. She was 20 when her monster made its lasting mark on world literature, though she didn't get her name on it for another five years. Celebrate by creating an archetypal character (or two) that will be remembered 200 years later. (Alternatively, create life in your basement (or attic) lab. Body snatchers are not required; Shelley's Victor did his thing without raiding the local cemeteries, somehow.)

August 31:
(Courtesy of the Facebook Dredge, from 2015):
It's amazing how little yard work you have to do before Stockholm syndrome sets in, you forget you are being tortured, and it starts to seem like reasonable behavior. It's downright CREEPY. Fortunately, all you have to do to recover is STOP.
8:02 pm
Dragon, Kubo, Dogs, Hur, Canoe
Four movies and a minor odyssey.

"Pete's Dragon" is has a lot of good material, but the elements are clumsily assembled and sugar coated. We don't regret seeing it, but would never see it again.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" is what happens when several Nipponophiles fill a blender with Japanese mythology, and then extrude the resulting mess into a stop motion movie. It's surprisingly good for all of that, and some of it is downright wonderful.

"War Dogs" is a reasonably factual dramatization of a bizarre footnote of the Bush 43 administration. It's a great deal of fun and extremely creepy by turns. I enjoyed it a great deal.

"Ben Hur" is an epic story that should have choked on its own pomposity a hundred years ago. The current version is big and beautiful and more than a little flat, though most of the problems have been legitimately inherited from the hopelessly lame source material.

In other news... This past weekend was the (third) annual Michigan outing of my brother's poker club. We went down on Friday evening, stared at each other while it rained on Saturday morning, and then got on with things. I got the canoe in the water for the first time in more than two months, and did a three mile lap of the lake. We ate steak, played poker, and did lake things. In the morning, I was the first one up, so I did most of my packing, and then pulled the canoe back down the beach for another lap of the lake in the morning mist. THAT was a magical experience. Every now and then, it all comes together...

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
10:22 am
Unicorn Thoughts
This is a bit of speculative folklore reconstruction. There is a lot of knowlege behind it, but also a lot of intuition and guesswork. Consider yourselves warned.

The pre-Christian European unicorn was fierce, untameable, goatlike, white, beautiful, and REALLY male (pretty much a penis with hooves, an objectification of rape). But it also had healing abilities. The original virgin-as-bait mechanism was a challenge between the girl's purity and the unicorn's lust, and if the girl lost, she climbed on the unicorn's back and was never seen again.

So what happened? Visually, the unicorn didn't lose its beard, cloven hooves, and tufted tail until the second half of the 20th century, but the transmogrification from galloping penis to fluffy bunny seems to go MUCH farther back than that.

The blame probably lies with the medieval Christian church, which REALLY hated ambiguity and shades of gray. While the ancient Greeks had no real conceptual problem with the idea of a healer god who committed the occasional rape, the contrast would have given a medieval clergyman fits, so the beautiful white healing creature had to ALSO be an embodiment of purity. (The medieval church had a vested interest in the idea that you could be holy and still indulge in wholesale slaughter, so the ferocity got to stay).

In the interest of complicating things, I will offer the following bit of speculation: Maybe the unicorn gets its healing abilities from CONSUMING purity (which Dementia points out makes the gray REALLY dark...)

Uncle Hyena
Monday, August 22nd, 2016
9:34 pm
Squad, Florence, Van Troubles
Two weeks since the last real entry. Shame on me.

"Suicide Squad" is the fifth major superhero movie this year, and the second best. Margot Robie's Harley Quinn steals every scene she is in, but she was expected to. It has many flaws, but in the end it works.

"Florence Foster Jenkins" tells a bizarre true story with a great deal of humor. It is excellent in all ways, but parts of it are REALLY painful to watch (or rather, to listen to).

The van continues to suck down money, but I think the lid is finally on straight, and we can get on with life. (For the record: Catalytic converters, power steering actuator rack, rear coil springs, and all four tires have been replaced.) And the thing now has a trailer hitch. I have fabricated most of the fiddly bits necessary to mount the canoe (and there are a surprising number of them), and life may now return to some semblance of normal.

I continue to spend my weekends at Bristol, occasionally play PokeGo at Great America, and spend a lot of time wondering what I want to do with myself when I grow up.

Uncle Hyena
Monday, August 15th, 2016
7:57 pm
Falcon, Special, Razor, Moire, Poltergeist, Tyger, Wayfarer, Bristol, Firebird, Sync
Random bits from Facebook:

August 3:
Long ago, Dementia and I attended a panel at a con where the project was to map the characters of Star Wars (only three movies, at that time) onto the Major Arcana. I was the only male in the room. There was general lamentation at the dearth of female characters. "You're forgetting one," I offered, "The Millennium Falcon." This was met with consternation and general resistance, which ruined the credibility of moderator for me.

Ships are feminine, always and forever, from the Argo to the Enterprise, from the Nautilus to the Serenity, from the Black Pearl to the Millennium Falcon. And if you don't understand that, you don't know what a ship IS.

August 3:
I was on a bench with my back to the Great America Carousel, playing PokeGo. I looked up and saw five teenagers on a bench across the midway from me, a boy in the middle and two girls on either side. I grinned, waited for a break in the traffic, and walked straight toward them; I was four or five paces away when they noticed me. I pointed at the boy. "You," I said, "Must be doing something right," and spread my hands to indicate his companions. The boy grinned broadly, and they all laughed.

August 5:
Shaving with a new razor blade after about a year is kind of a religious experience. My beard is pale (even thirds dark brown, ash blond, and red, before it all went gray) and grows slowly; I have never had to shave more than every other day, and only every third since the color went. And I have thick hide that tolerates a LOT of scraping with a dull razor, so I just don't bother to change the blade often. But the contrast between a 100-plus shave blade and a new one is kind of a shock...

August 7:
Apropos of nothing...

A few years ago at an SF convention, I fell into conversation with a friend and a young woman I didn't know. It was night; we were high up in a dimly lit hotel atrium; they were leaning against the railing against the abyss, and I was facing them, leaning against a wall between two room doors. The woman was wearing a black top with a vee front that ran from her shoulders to her navel, the structural improbability of this solved by a panel of fishnet fabric. The main local light was from a small lamp near each of the doors, and this created an interference pattern of shadows through the fishnet onto her substantial cleavage that fascinated me. I was engaged in the conversation, but I could NOT look away.

Eventually this earned me a, "My eyes are up here," comment, and I sheepishly explained what it was that I had been looking at. The woman expressed her skepticism.

My friend bailed me out. "He's telling the truth," he said. "I've known him for years, and it's not the tits, it's the math."

August 8:
It wasn't where is was supposed to be. Retrace steps, look in all the places it MIGHT be, spiral outward with increasing franticness, lather, rinse, repeat, each time expanding the pattern. And then, on the fifth (or was it the sixth?) return to the starting point, there it was, exactly where it was supposed to be all along. There are two possible explanations. I am inclined to prefer poltergeisen to insanity; your mileage may vary.

August 9:
Before the movie today, there was an ad for the new Infiniti Q60. Kit Harrington (of "Game of Thrones") climbs into the sexy red car, starts the engines, and procedes to drive it hard while reciting William Blake's "The Tyger". It's a cool ad anyway, but I LOVE the idea of selling modern tech with a poem that is over 220 years old...

August 10:
"Bite the horizon." -- An expression of boundless, sanity optional enthusiasm, from "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett

August 11:
Dementia was practicing "Wayfaring Stranger" on her ukelele. She asked, "Where does the word 'wayfarer' come from?"

Hyena looked up. "Where does the word 'seafarer' come from?"

Dementia replied, "Oh. So he fares on the Way. He's a Taoist."

Hyena rolled his eyes.

I love my wife...

August 13:
Good day at Bristol. Saw Bounding Main three times, the first time I have seen them live since I have become familiar with their music. Let a pretty barmaid talk me into singing the first half of "Spacers Home", and she DANCED.

August 13:
The old Firebird filk album "Carmen Miranda's Ghost", that I once had nearly memorized, is long out of print, and our only copies were long dead cassette tapes. I found a (wildly inaccurate) set of lyrics on line (as well as most of the songs in mediocre condition on YouTube), and was surprised to find a title I didn't recognize at all in the song list. I read the lyrics for the missing song, and realized I HAD heard it before, but had no idea of the tune. 18 hours later, I was crossing the bridge at Bristol, and found myself humming a tune; I pushed a little, and the lyrics came in. My brain had rebuilt the melody from the lyrics. And it IS the original melody...

August 15:
So Very Not a Musician (Weird Neurological Stuff):
I realized this weekend that I can't clap in time to music if my eyes are closed, but I CAN if I sync the image of a leader clapping with the sensation of my hands impacting each other. With my eyes closed, I can hear that I am out of sync, but I can never fix it. Also, apparently, I can't sing and clap in time at the same time (though I have never had trouble singing in time...).

Uncle Hyena
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