Sunday, January 31, 2016

An interview with the elusive Planet Nine

Astronomers announced last week that they may have found a giant planet beyond Neptune, which may (IF it exists, mind you), MAY vote for Donald Trump in November. All right, only the first half of that sentence is true, because it's an election year, and half-true is about the most you can expect from anybody. I did manage to snag an interview with the elusive planet, however. Don't ask me how. (See: election year, above.)

GW: Welcome, Planet Nine.

P9: Kadjfoieutwqioejgva!

GW: Hold on. Let me fire up my interplanetary translator. O.K., go ahead.

P9: Kadjfoieutwqioejgva! Ha ha, I'm just playin'. How are you?

GW: Fine. You understand that our scientists named you Planet Nine because we already have eight orbiting our sun?

P9: Yeah, but my friends call me Reggie.
GW: You have friends?

P9: Hey, you got an elliptical orbit, you meet people.
GW: Scientists have nicknamed you "Phattie" because of your size.

P9: And they spell it all 1990s to sound cool? That's adorable.
GW: They also tell us you are icy with a gassy outer layer.

P9: People in glass houses, George.
GW: Fair enough. What other attributes do you have that we might find interesting?

P9: I've got volcanoes up the ying-yang.
GW: Volcanoes?!

P9: Extinct ones, yeah. And diamonds the size of your face.

GW: Will you cough one up for me?

P9: It doesn't work like that. Where they come from, well, let's just say it's where the sun don't shine. You might want to pass.

GW: Any life forms on ya?

P9: I used to have a fern. It died.

GW: You're kidding, right?

P9: The Earth man is catching on. Look, even at my closest to the sun, I'm still frostier than Hillary Clinton at a gun show.

GW: Astronomers estimate that it takes you about 15,000 years to orbit our sun. Is that right?

P9: No, it takes a year. How long does it take Earth?

GW: A year.

P9: See what I mean? My year's just got a loooooot more holidays.

GW: Do you think those Cal Tech guys will ever be able to spot you?

P9: Not unless they walk in right now and order a venti macchiato. How do you drink this swill?

GW: Caramel is considered a delicacy here.

P9: Well, I'm out. Tell your guys to put down the telescopes, man. Look in, not out.

GW: That's deep.

P9: Well, let's just say from my neighborhood, I have a little perspective.

. . .


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - When "drought resistant" gardening goes south

 You knew disco was dead, just not where it was buried.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Battling with nature brings out the best in every man

I sometimes think if God had wanted us to do yard work, he would have made our yards smaller. 

I am only now discovering that I apparently skipped a year in trimming my back yard wall hedge. How did I miss that it was exploding in all directions like some giant, green, sticky accusation? 

I don't look out my window much.

A back yard was great when the kids were little, when they needed a safe place to play and climb and splash. Now only the dog is a regular visitor, rooting in the underbrush for lizards, unconcerned that the overgrown ficus vines have probably become sentient, and possibly carnivorous.

Ficus, in Latin, literally means "hassle to maintain." I could be wrong. My Latin is rusty because I took German. But it totally should mean that in Latin, and any other God-fearing language. 

I usually mark the calendar to shear the hedge back into orderly shape, like they do at Versailles or McDonalds. Last year I must have "forgotten." I am putting that in quotes because it's how we use that word in my marriage.

Somehow I never forget to buy chocolate, but I often "forget" to mow the lawn, empty the dishwasher and chop the vegetables. I blame the ficus, which, even now, is probably beaming out forgetful rays at me in an effort at self-preservation, and the rays are affecting other tasks on my list. That probably sounds far-fetched to you, but how else do you explain that once I went three weeks without cleaning the bathroom?

Ficus is in the fig family, but my hedge does not bear fruit, only ill will. It sits atop my block wall providing us privacy and the vague scent of an oil spill which has somehow gotten dusty. It is evidently not content to just be a modesty screen, and so it travels, reaches, spreads down across my pristine block wall like the opening credits of some darkly comic TV series nobody quite "gets."

Ficus sap itches. If you get the white, gooey stuff on your skin it's like that "Alien" slobber. Sure, I could hire a gardener, but then I wouldn't be able to personally give nature "what for." A real man lives to battle nature, and nature in return gives him cocoa beans. 

I'd nail the whole "dominion over animals" thing too, but Facebook beckons. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Not necessarily a good sign

 If you need to put up a sign about it, I think you may be only scratching the surface of your condition.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

On this day in history, January 17

Today, January 17, is the birth anniversary of Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the $100 bill. Before his innovation, people had to go around with wheelbarrows full of rutabagas, just hoping somebody could make change. Other fun facts about old Ben:
  • He invented the rocking chair. Before Ben, long-tailed cats were renowned the world over for their unnerving calm.
  • He opened the first insurance company in the colonies. His spokesman was not an obnoxious talking duck, but it WAS a pretty irritating eagle.
  • He became wealthy printing his famous Poor Richard's Almanack, despite the flagrant typo right there in the title.
January 17 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the PGA, created to promote the sport of golf and add to the English language yet another venue for the word "widow." Other fun facts about golf:
  • Removed the stigma of walking in the park all day, then drinking.
  • First brought into usage the now-common phrases, "Do you see it?" and "Where'd it go?"
  • Finally gave people a way of measuring each other's relative worth as a human.
On this day in 1929, Popeye was born in his first comic strip, Thimble Theatre. Other fun facts about the sailor man:
  • Before it became canon that Popeye's source of strength was spinach, Popeye originally obtained health by rubbing the head of "Bernice, the Whiffle Hen," a fowl possessed of magic good luck powers. Seriously.
  • Popeye is thought to have brought into the lexicon the words "wimpy," "goon" and "doofus." This kind of thing is hard to prove, however, except perhaps by a nerd.
  • Popeye's arch-enemy Brutus started out being called Bluto, but was renamed due to copyright fears which were ultimately unfounded, rendering this sentence about 25 words too long.
  • Olive Oyl had relatives named Sutra Oyl and Lubry Kent. Popeye had a nephew named Poop-Eye. And yet Lenny Bruce was the one they threw in jail for obscenity.
Today is St. Anthony's Day in the Coptic Christian church, a feast day celebrating the life of a monk who lived as a hermit in the wilderness and famously spent decades resisting temptation and curing skin diseases, yet could always, inexplicably, be counted on for a racy quip at a party. He is not to be confused with St. Anthony of Padua, who was a real bore.

Today is the birthday of James Earl Jones, without whom Darth Vader would just be a dude in a cape. Maybe celebrate by calling someone a "whiffle hen" in a very low, ominous voice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Dream Water

 As if I don't already have to get up enough times in the night.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 in review: the year that was, and is about to be

Every Leap Year like this one, a confluence of time and space occurs to reveal to certain seers like me the year ahead in all its detail. Thus…

2016: in review.

In January, El Niño lived up to its hype, flooding dozens of George Clooney's ex-girlfriends' houses and rehydrating two of the Three Stooges, who immediately began running for the Republican presidential nomination. 

February's torrential rains could not dampen the spirits of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who declared the city a tourist destination "lake" and began moonlighting as a gondolier through Uber.

In March, actress Anne Hathaway gave birth to a daughter she named "Cherub Malamute" after her favorite type of sculpture and dog. Hathaway rebuffed criticism of the name until El Niño rains swept her into a section of Melrose from which nobody ever returns.

April brought relief from the rain in the form of relentless sandstorms off the Mojave. Or, perhaps, the almost unendurable stinging in Angelenos' eyes may just have been caused by a "Huntsman" sequel. 

In May, war broke out between the cities of Alhambra and San Gabriel, both of which insisted on calling themselves "The gateway to the San Gabriel Valley." A compromise was eventually reached, and hereafter San Gabriel will use the slogan, "aperture to the San Gabriel Valley," and Alhambra will use the word "orifice." 

El Niño returned in June with a vengeance, confounding climatologists who resorted to using randomly passing polar bears as flotation.

At the Republican convention in July, Donald Trump won his party's nomination and chose his daughter Ivanka to be his running mate. "Hottest VP ever," he proclaimed, and for once even Democrats could not argue.

In August, Kobe Bryant, recently retired from basketball, became the new commercial spokesman for Jello pudding.

California governor Jerry Brown, after a record-setting 56 inches of rain this year, declared in September that the four-year drought was "at least one-tenth over."

October brought peace in the Middle East.

Having lost the presidential election in November, Hillary Clinton announced she would star in a new TV reboot of "The Golden Girls" with Carly Fiorina, Yoko Ono and, yes, Betty White. 

In December, President-Elect Trump proclaimed that his first act in office would be to repeal Obamacare and replace it with, yes, Betty White.

Now save this. Read it again on December 31st, and it will totally freak you out. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My top six or so movies, give or take, of 2015

A lot of critics give you their top 10 lists this time of year, and I have just spent a week in a Rose Parade float-decorating barn sniffing secondhand glue, so I figure I'm just as qualified. I did not see or listen to 10 of anything this year, but here are a few movies I can recommend.

This list is in no particular order, rendering it useless:

  • "Star Wars Episode VII: Hey, That Guy Looks Like Young Snape." I realize many of you have still not seen it, so I won't spoil anything here except to say it appears that Snape from "Harry Potter" has time-traveled into a galactic thrift store and bought himself a very cool helmet. The costume design in general is great, although I did wonder why Leia looked like she could have been a backup singer for Gordon Lightfoot circa 1975.

    We don't go to "Star Wars" for the costumes, though, do we? We go for the daring escapes, the banter, and the new freaky creatures. There is a giant piglike thing with a kind of platypus head-plate, and a huge metal beast which looks like a Kia Soul mated with a Winnebago. A true nerd could name you 30 more, easy. Like golf, "Star Wars" makes it effortless to fill your head with truly useless information.

  • "The Martian." This also took place in space, but was less plausible. 

  • "Ant-man." At this point you are wanting to ask, "Hey, George, are you a 14 year old boy?" Every man is basically a 14 year old boy who just got balder and better at cooking chicken. "Ant-man" was as funny as it was action-packed. Any superhero movie which boasts a Thomas the Tank Engine sight gag is one I will throw money at.

  • "Inside Out." Few films make my eyes leak, but Pixar has mastered the "end of childhood" genre. I never had an imaginary friend to lose, but cried like I did.

  • "Jurassic World." The best way to see dinosaurs and people together without driving to Kentucky.

  • "Trainwreck." The word "raunchy" is often used when describing this because a woman wrote it. If it starred Will Farrell, they would use another word: "hilarious."

I remember when I used to go see serious dramas. Perhaps I have less patience than I used to. Or perhaps I've just grown fond, when someone asks me how the movie was, of replying, "explodey."