Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Viewing total eclipse in Wyoming a profound experience

In Wyoming last Monday morning I stood amongst sweet-smelling sagebrush on a high promontory and watched the sun totally get its hiney handed to it. 

The moon just floated up in there at exactly the right angle and, shoomp, the world around me became dark, cool and so quiet you could almost hear my friend Bob refilling his cup from the boxed wine. 

I am joking, of course. There was whooping. Near-religious spectacles call for whooping. 

I filmed myself, just in case I wept, which I hear people do at a total eclipse, or fell to my knees, or was converted on the spot to the Republican party. It turns out that in the face of once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring views, I tend to look like I am watching a really high altitude documentary about adjustable rate mortgages. 

I did choke up a bit, then became aware I was choking up, then thought “why are you choking up?” Right there is the history of my people. 

Apparently, any given spot on Earth will have a total solar eclipse every 350 years or so. Not patient enough for that kind of wait, my other friend Greg is an eclipse chaser. This was his fifth. A professor of physics, he brought two big telescopes and filmed the thing. 

In contrast, the other two dozen of us mostly sat in camp chairs drinking Arnold Palmers and munching banana bread. Each of us channels his inner scientist in his own way. 

I will never forget the perfect black sphere of the moon silhouetted by the wispy white corona of the sun, but mainly I will remember the way the dark fell. In a span of five seconds day became night, and the primal fear which each of us has inside, going all the way back, was triggered and just as quickly countered. Some whooped, some wowed, some sat slack-jawed, but all, I am sure, felt the same thing—we are tiny. We…are…tiny.

The drive back to the airport, hundreds of miles from the viewing, was a traffic jam of L.A.-on-Thanksgiving-morning proportions, extended the entire day. One little girl in a small town, trying to capitalize on the massive flow of potential customers, paced the sidewalk holding up a sign: “Shave Ice.” 

I wanted to get home, everybody did, but if she had just flipped the sign around, revealing the words, “See you in 350 years,” I would have been her first customer. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Guess they were ready for their closeup

That feeling when they steal your security camera. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A road trip to the Great American Eclipse

Not since the Civil War has the country been so completely split, so upheaved, so divided into two camps—going to the eclipse, and not going. 

Going to the totality, I mean, the total eclipse experience in which half the U.S. population tries to cram itself into a 75-mile wide swath of land 2800 miles long. It is deeply appropriate that this rare spectacle on the American continent will result in the most American of pastimes—massive traffic jams and novelty t-shirt sales. 

My friends have been planning their trip to the totality zone for years, but I did not commit. I figured it would occur around the time school started back up for my wife and son, and I should be around for support. Then I caught eclipse fever, and support be damned. 

I caught it late, with less than three weeks to spare, and when I checked, lodgings for one night in the area I wanted to visit cost $1000. For that kind of money, I had better be seeing “Hamilton” get between me and the sun.

Luckily my long-planning friend said just come out and we’ll find a place for you, so as you read this, I am driving across Wyoming. To get in the mood, I wanted to get an audio book with a story set in the state, but “Brokeback Mountain” was not owned by any of my libraries. 

Others, like “Savage Thunder” and “Trailer Trash” were already checked out. I finally settled on “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There is no Wyoming connection, but it involves people being awed by an incredible spectacle, so close enough.

I have watched several videos online of people experiencing a total solar eclipse, so I can observe proper eclipse etiquette. Evidently, to fit in, I should do this:

As the moon starts to blot out the sun, say “Whoa, it’s getting darker.”

When the eclipse is in full effect, express my awe by whooping like I am at a football game, perhaps my first ever football game, after drinking my first ever beer.

That pretty much covers it.

Since we are spending the night outside the totality zone, then driving 80 or 90 miles into it on eclipse morning, a monster traffic jam is my greatest fear. That, and there is currently a 20% chance of rain. But whatever happens, the t-shirt is going to be epic. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Getting Faced

Half off this month for politicians looking to save.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How climate change is making my pants too tight

People are aware oceans will rise because of global warming, but what about the subtler issue of rising humidity, which has noticeably caused my leather belt to shrink uncomfortably in recent months? 

Humidity is the only culprit I can come up with. My friends report increased stress-eating since last fall’s election, but I have too much self-control for that. No. Rising humidity. It’s heck on leather; that’s a known thing. 

For the longest time, for decades, I had the same waist measurement, same belt hole. We have all seen the news reports that five of the hottest years in recorded history occurred in the last dozen years. They do not mention humidity much. You start to wonder if climate scientists have some sort of deal with the leather industry. Because, I’m telling you, in the last nine months, when I sit down I feel like I am wearing a girdle. 

Have you ever noticed how much better a bacon cheeseburger tastes when the weather is humid? Um, I mean, SOMEBODY needs to do that research, because I, for one, have not been on a quest to find the best bacon cheeseburger in L.A. since November 8th. Nooo. My doctor forbids it, no matter the relative humidity. 

I am starting to think maybe belts are old-fashioned, like coastal cities. Like bathroom scales. 

Belts are just another excuse to keep methane-producing cows around. It may be time to release my inner Mork, to go with suspenders of the rainbow variety, or at least orange. Orange is a conversation starter. As an introvert, I can use all the help I can get. 

They make leather suspenders, but with all this humidity, that’s an invitation to a wedgie by midday. (Imagine sending invitations to a wedgie. Main quandary: what font to use.) 

I have never even considered wearing Sansabelt slacks, because that is a slippery slope to white dress shoes and golf jokes. That is like trashing the Paris Accords using polyester and Spandex, the blending of which, as I recall, is expressly forbidden in the Bible. 

Strangely this rising humidity has not affected the tightness of my leather shoes. I guess it is just one of life’s mysteries, like the Electoral College and the current proliferation of Civil War beards. I hope a scientist will write and explain why my pants no longer fit. They fit perfectly fine when I was 30. 

Maybe Al Gore can weigh in. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Niche Market

Not only do they block UV rays, they live-stream C-SPAN. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fifteen culturally insensitive things we should offer North Korea not to nuke us

The United States has an official policy of not negotiating with terrorists or dictators, but we have fudged that quite often under the table. Under the table is also where I used to hide lima beans I didn’t want to eat at dinner, on a little ledge I found which was perfect for the task. Under the table, anything is possible. That is why I offer these…

Fifteen Possibly Inappropriate Things We Should Offer North Korea Not To Nuke Us

1. Hawaii. Hear me out. For vacation we would still have Florida. They could change Hawaii to “East Korea.” The fusion restaurants would be fantastic, and they could rename the Blue Hawaii the “Blue Jong-Un.” Pineapple juice, Curacao, vodka and medals. 

2. Bob Newhart. It could change everything.

3. Kimchi tacos. Ditto.

4. Lacrosse. Who would really miss it?

5. Dennis Rodman. Same.

6. Easy Cheese; squirtable liquid cheese in a can. As I think Chairman Mao said, once the people can squirt their own cheese, anything is possible.

7. Gerrymandering. Ooh, I could see this catching on big, right after democracy.

8. “The Sopranos.” Couldn’t hurt to plant a few seeds in a few noggins. 

9. Watermelons. Do they even have watermelons in North Korea? I would doubt it. I bet some minds could be blown. 

10. The Rule of Law. Sometimes the best gift is the one you didn’t know you needed until you got it.

11. Our country is a great tech innovator, so I do not think it would be too tough to rig up a jet that could just strafe Pyongyang 24/7 with Philly cheesesteaks. Hearts and minds, people. Somebody get to work on this. 

12. The Olympics. Nobody, NOBODY, does pageantry like the subjugated. 

13. The Rams. I know it’s controversial. The Rams are still building their stadium in anticipation of a triumphant return to L.A., but it’s not like we’ve grown attached yet. Maybe then the Raiders and Chargers could share the new stadium, which would be like Sid Vicious and Mr. Rogers being college roomies—endlessly entertaining. Win-win.

14. The 19th Amendment. The right of women to vote. This would confuse them so much!

15. In-N-Out Burger double-doubles. Because we are not animals. 

Experts say North Korea now has a missile which can probably reach U.S. soil. I have a Twitter account which can reach the president. Let’s hope Kim shows as much restraint as I do.

. . .