Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Unofficial Musikfest Survival Guide 2014

            Greetings, readers and newcomers!  If you're reading this, it's probably because you're either a regular reader or you're someone planning on attending Musikfest for any length of time (the whole Loki-damn festival runs annually; in 2014, it's from August 1st to August 10th).  Being a slightly experienced Musikfest attendee (Shut up, Spellcheck!), I figured I should give tips on how to survive it.  Just keep in mind that these tips will not help you in the event of zombie outbreak/riot/Dalek invasion/Cybermen invasion/Sontaran invasion/any other alien invasion/a beloved superhero going rogue/dragon attack/vampire attack/werewolf attack/Empire conquest/asteroid Apophis striking the immediate area/the Apocalypse (or Ragnarok if you prefer it that way).

            Also, I suggest you take these suggestions to heart so that you may further enjoy Musikfest without having some locals hate you.

Anyways, shall we begin or shall I continue to chatter the beginning away in silence?  Your optional blog post theme song for today is Deus Ex Human Revolution remix by defibrillator .music!


            Yes, there will be booze among the drinks offered at the festival.  Which brings me to the tips under this category:
1.) Do not drink more than you can handle, so long as you're of age.  If you're underage, you should A.) stop reading this (because this is an R-Rated blog; believe me, I can see you, you chain-smoking hipster teen who's still in high school and totally under 18 years old), and B.) consider either water or soft drinks.  Because drinking illegally will only give you not only glares from me but also the likelihood of police involvement.

I should mention that even I take this to heart.  So you should, too; you don't want to wind up like the former regular who was banned from the Underground Lair, do you?

2.) The Musikfest Mugs are available each year, refillable, for use of consuming alcohol (usually), and it will cost you more than a regular-size drink.  And unless you are interested in collecting the different mugs, as the designs on the outside change from year to year, you do not have to buy one each year that you come!  It has been my experience that mugs from previous years are also allowed to be filled with your drink of choice.  Just heed rule #1, please!

            I have purchased one myself and used it for alcoholic beverages; that's how I found out that my limit is 24-oz. of non-tequila mixed drink. (I don't like many of the beers.  I've tried and tried, wound up mismatching the beer to the food, and at this point, I'm on the verge of giving up.)  If I do opt to drink a 24-oz sonic screwdriver or a 24-oz. Drunk Arnold Palmer (take the iced tea-lemonade mixture, spike it with vodka), I (as everyone should) will be careful with it, by eating before-hand, watching my pace, etc.  I do not want to wind up calling someone up and saying, "I'm drinking lots of water," three times in the same conversation again.  (Sorry, sis!)

3.) Keep hydrated!  Specifically not with outside water!  There are bottles of water available, as well as soft drinks and what-not at particular stalls at the festival, and beer/vodka/insert-liquor-of-choice-here does NOT hydrate you.  You'll just wind up passed out way before bedtime on the festival grounds with people staring at you.

4.) I don't think the ghost-kind-of spirits (as well as the living caretakers) of God's Acre and Nisky Hill Cemetery will appreciate the drunken debauchery on their graves.  Please avoid drinking, pissing, crapping, vomiting, polluting, and passing out in these locations, LEST THOU AND THY FAMILY BE CURSED!!!  (I am neither liable nor responsible for any actual applications of curses.  If you do get cursed, the onus falls on you for failing to apply common sense and self-restraint.  And no, I don't know where your car is; stop asking me.)


             I shit you not, transportation (whether it's by vehicle or on foot) is always a problem at Musikfest!  And I hope to everything that people attending will be more careful this year!  Especially if you share this blog post....

5.) The rules of the road always apply, even if there is a festival going on!  Seriously, I know you have places to go, alcohol (or other beverages) to drink, sights to see, etc, but it doesn't mean that you can just ignore the NO TURN ON RED signs that are basically at EVERY intersection that's there!  Believe me, I almost got run over because of people not paying attention to road signs andchoosing to be bad drivers!  Just fucking pay attention!  Also, pedestrians, there are crosswalks with crossing signals that have buttons you can push!  I strongly suggest that you use them!  Because *rumor voice* I hear that the city will start implementing jaywalking laws on August 1st; the people from California know what I'm talking about…. >:3

6.) MIND THE TRAFFIC!  The usual complaints from the locals is how bad the traffic is, and I can see how bad it can get!  So follow rule #5, please!  So people (like me) don't get hurt!  Which will bring ambulances around which will make traffic even worse!!!  So just be aware of pedestrians, bikers, flying saucers, Godzilla, other drivers, buses, etc!

7.) There will be tons of parking issues during Musikfest.  Seriously, there are lots that are either pay-to-park (expensive) or off-limits!!!!  Seriously, "Residents Only" actually does mean "OFF LIMITS"!!!!  Unless you like getting your car towed at your expense….
-----There will be special bus routes available for certain locations, and that will allow you to park your car for cheaper than $20 per day.  Which brings me to an actual tip:  Park at the Westgate Mall and then ride the LANTA bus ($2 USD one-way; $4 USD day pass; availability limited to schedules; ask bus driver for details) to and from the festival.

8.) Please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not walk through apartment building parking lots (or the apartment buildings themselves) to get someplace!  I don't care how late it is or how drunk you are, it's still a huge security risk: people can get hurt, residents don't know who is going to try stealing their cars, and you'll wake people up by doing that!  You can achieve the same effect of getting to where you want to go by going around the parking lot and not through it!  Yes, it's tiring, but it's good exercise: not only physically but also in respect for property owners and residents alike!

Other Tips Fest-Goers Should Be Aware Of

These are the tips I did not cover in the above categories…..

9.)  On top of #8, yes!  I get it: You're drunk, you're happy, you're having a good time, but the residents don't need to hear you cheering and shouting like the visiting students from fucking West Virginia University!  (Bethlehem, PA, is Marshall territory, because I said so!)  Just please keep it down so they can sleep!  Everyone needs their sleep; the fest will be there tomorrow....unless it's the last day.

10.)  It should go without saying that federal, state and local laws apply, as do the rules for Musikfest (which are available in the pamphlets, on their website and on signs on festival grounds).

11.) Above all else, HAVE A SHIT TON OF FUN!!!! (as long as you don't piss people off)  Seriously, what's the point of attending the fest if you're not there to have fun?  (Well, yeah, besides being a vendor/merchant/business owner/employee/performer....)

For More Info….

            If you are asking a question about Musikfest that has nothing to do with what I covered above, I suggest you click on THIS link about Musikfest or try asking at one of the information booths.

            I do plan on attending (and tweeting about it), and I hope everyone follows these tips!  If you choose not to, well, then it's your own damn fault for someone turning into the Hulk and smashing people and things all because you decided to press that last hot button they have.

            Anyways, I might see you there, or I might not.  In any case, I hope you play it safe and ENJOY YOUR DRUNKEN/MUSICAL FUN TACQUITO!!!!!
(Apologies to ArtsQuest and the City of Bethlehem, PA, for being ^^^that^^^ kind of nerdy blogger.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What the Fuck Happened?! A Long Overdue Update

            OOOOOOF!!!!  It's been such a looong time since I last did a blog post!  The last post was probably done in April, before I traveled over to California Dalek's sector (I'm hoping for your sake, Cali, that it doesn't get split up into six separate states.) and forgot to continue doing blog posts and my XP log!  D:  Not to mention that afterwards, I kind of let my library fines get CRAZY and that prevented me from doing blog posts.  Also, I borrowed wifi for a bit--until it went away.  So now it's back to using the library's CRAPPY computers again.  Oh yeah, (optional) theme music!  It's going to be AC DC - Back In Black (Jim Heinz Remix) by theMHRproject2.

            Anyways, here's what happened to me during that period of time; however, it's going to be a bunch of bullet points that I hope aren't super lengthy, so strap in…..

          Π Trip to California—I was able to travel to California for a week and a half, visit family, check out Disney's California Adventure (after Disney refreshed it to help bump up the various problems with the park that helped drive away crowds), have EXCELLENT food at restaurants I will share the review of soon, complain about hotel accommodations, wander around the San Francisco airport, go through Newark Airport after midnight when all the businesses are CLOSED, get my hair trimmed by my aunt, and just enjoy my vacation burrito.  Oh, and I did go to Meltdown Comics (+10 Life List XP!) and be all touristy there after having a bizarre Garmin-led adventure through these towns outside of LA, take a look at the various populations and even see a mission while we (Dad and myself) drove by.  I consider it to be quite a success.  (No, Chris didn't autograph my copy of the Nerdist Way yet because he wasn't there.  Which actually helped because I was kind of super nervous—I wasn't sure if I wanted to really meet Chris and other people from Nerdist Industries, being all anxious with my small-town fansquirrel feels.  But I did enjoy going there!)  Next time, I shall be successful, with autographs and @midnight tapings that I probably could've not missed had my father not been as discouraging as he was before the trip!  Yes, Dad, I will make sure to get the tickets this time; just try talking to Mom first, okay?
Π     Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference—June 11th and 12th, I was able to attend a conference at the Eden Resort in Lancaster, PA!  And I did it (mostly) by myself as an exhibitor in the expo part of the conference!  I was doing quite a bit of art prior to the show in an effort to be all prepared and to sell some pieces.  Which I was able to do, fortunately: I sold three framed paintings!  That's $90 USD total!  Not a great profit margin but I'm happy about that success!  I was able to meet other people who are also on the Autism spectrum and have a good time!  And it was all PAID FOR!  I didn't have to spend a single cent on anything unless I wanted to!  Not to mention that it's a fancy hotel with suites, one of which I stayed in by myself!  Yeah, I got a whole suite to myself and it was super fancy!  There was even a phone in the bathroom!  (There's a difference between fancy and swanky: fancy is like, a super expensive hotel where you could have a wedding.  Swanky is top hats, monocles, fainting couches that are actually chaise lounges in the ladies' restroom.  And while we're on the topic, "formal gala" is basically what you would see at a Presidential or Royal ball: ballgowns, suits, servants in butler uniforms (read: "suits with tails"), orchestra, etc.)  Mom and Dad were not only proud of me, but so surprised that they said they could've stayed over with me.  I'm like, "But your schedules say no!"  Anyways, I'm glad I was able to pursue going to this event.  Thank you to my Supports Coordinator, everyone who organized the conference, the Eden Resort staff, Mom and Dad (for being SO supportive and understanding) and my Community Inclusion peeps!  As well as the people who purchased my art!  That is one fancy/gourmet tacquito I totally enjoyed!
     Π    Personal Stuff—I have been doing a lot lately within my life, and much of it was for the better: I got the Adult Autism Waiver (hence the conference, Supports Coordinator, Community Inclusion, etc.), I got to clean up my apartment, keep it clean, be very responsible, and it really cheered up my parents!  My psychiatrist was happy about all the progress we reported to him, as is my therapist!  In fact, so many good things took place that I started making a "Good Things List" that really helps keep the mood positive and helps counter the lies that depression tells us are true.  Here's a sample:
ü  I'M  OKAY!
ü  I'm making a ton of progress!
ü  I was able to stay at a hotel in a suite by myself--and it was paid for!
ü  I sold three paintings with a small profit!
ü  Mom is happier!
ü  Parents are more supportive of my artistic and creative pursuits!
ü  I'm being productive!
ü  I'm getting the supports I need!
ü  I'm not really alone.
ü  I enjoyed some nerd humor.
ü  I started having a following under not only the name I blog with but also my secret identity!  (Major yays!)
ü  I'm a little more organized.
ü  There is less yelling and arguing between me and my parents.
ü  There is generally a good mood in the air!
ü  My meds work for my depression AND the anxiety I sometimes feel.
ü  Parents are more understanding!  :D
ü  Assessments (for Autism Waiver) showed how many things improved!
ü  I have not argued with parents in at least one month!
ü  Problem solving skill levels are up!
ü  I'm more attentive.
ü  I can relax over mistakes I make.  (Like missing a therapy appointment is NOT the end of the world for me at this point!)

            If you're dealing with depression, why not do what I did?  It really helps to have something to go back to, like a list of happy truths that can tell depression to fuck off!

            Of course, this is only part of the story: just recently, I discovered that at least one of my wisdom teeth has to be removed.  The dentist couldn't do it at the office I usually go to (1.5 to 2 hour bus ride away; 1/2 hour by car) couldn't do it so I have to go see a specialist.  I was super upset and anxious about it, fearful even, mostly due to the fact that I will not be conscious during the procedure (Do I even want to be?!?!?!).  And I'm fearful of how I will be loopy immediately after the procedure; however, my allies in the Twitterverse definitely cheered me up!

            I love you guys/gals/Daleks/other sentient races!  You totally made me laugh when I needed it and you let me know that it's super common for people to undergo wisdom teeth removal.  (Lucky Mom!  She doesn't have wisdom teeth so she doesn't have to go through it!)  And according to my parents, the car ride home will be super fun due to the loopy phase I will be going through; so with all of that info being fed to me through my ear holes, I think I should just drunkenly smile and ride that dragon all the way home.
            Question is, will the dragon be real, colored purple, fluent in cat, and smell like root beer?

            Anyways, I must prepare for the possibility that my base will be overrun with drunks due to the 10-day presence of Musikfest.  Yes, overrun with drunks.  It's a shame that I can't have weapons here at my residence, because if the drunks turn into real zombies, I'm fucked.  But I might be one of those drunks anyways because I plan on going.  Just look for the drunk Padawan that's actually more sober than the rest of the people attending the festivities while strategically avoiding the polka tent except for possibly passing through to take one of the paths traveled a little less because foot traffic.

            Anyways, I believe this update is sufficient enough to say, "I'm sorry for disappearing because stuff and I will be back to blogging; here's an update to share the stuff."  Now, to plot out my Birthday/Christmas Wishlist of Awesomes (that's already a few yards long because of ThinkGeek's Wishlist feature)…..  And I promise to try and post some blogs I drafted out already.  But that's for another time.

Enjoy your California/Amish drunk/high tacquito!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hooked: When Addiction Enters Your Life

            This is a bit of a sensitive topic in a highly verbose blog post.  You don't have to read it if you feel uncomfortable about addiction, but you might want to as addiction has about as many flavors as fear does (just google "phobias").  I know that many people are going to say, "Bullshit!  You can only be addicted to illicit substances!" or something like that, but you have to understand that there is a thin line between dedication to what you enjoy and addiction that chains you to your vice.  For that I have the optional playlist of mine that I titled Addiction Blog Post Mix.

            For me, it's a touchy subject: Dad tends to say that I am "addicted" to the Internet.  And that really rubs me the wrong way, the same way that someone says, "I can't do that because I'm disabled," or "I'm Autistic," or "She's retarded—stay away from her!"  To touch a bit on this subject: GODDAMMIT!  You are a person, not a problem!  What do you like?  What do you want to do in life?  Do you want to travel?  Meet people?  Do you have dreams of doing something you've always wanted to do?  Well then, fuck the "being disabled," because you've allowed it to define who you are; you've allowed it to own you, instead of you owning it!  Much like Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider: the curse owned him for a while, but once the Devil said, "You are no longer my pawn," or whatever, Johnny went, "Fuck you, I'm not your pawn!  I own this shit, it doesn't own me!"  Your disability is a part of you, but it shouldn't define you.  That's why I say that I have Asperger's and a hearing impairment and depression and ADD!  I'll never ever say, "I'm an Aspie girl who is deaf and depressed and ADD."  Because that's not who and what I am; I am the Jedi warrior I make myself to be.  I want to look in the mirror and see what I want to be, not the traits I know I have that people don't like.  Yes, I put "Aspie" in my Twitter profile, but only because I'd run out of room otherwise!  It's easy shorthand!

            Anyways, sorry for that sideways segway into my rant about disability-and-identity.  But it does irritate me how Dad says that I am "addicted" to the Internet, because I don't like the negative connotations; in fact, for a while I used to say, "I'm connected deeply to the Internet," because I was hankering for the "social interaction" from Second Life.  (Mom's way of describing it is better: I would "get lost" in the Internet.)  But then I read about addiction in Chris Hardwick's book, The Nerdist Way, that, for some reason, I can't stop referring to all the time!  (JUST GET THE DAMN BOOK ALREADY!)  *Ahem!*  In the chapter titled, "Addiction-ary," he describes how he experienced addiction to beer; for many of us, the scientific term is "alcoholism."  And it opened my eyes up to what addiction really is: it's not the item that's the problem, it's the problems that a person has that they are trying to hide from by using the item.  What that means is that you can become addicted to anything, if you have the genetic predisposition for it, according to some non-Gallifreyan doctors.  Have you ever seen "My Strange Addiction"?  There are people who are addicted to collecting things, people addicted to eating things that aren't good for them at all, and there are people addicted to certain sensations that would just make this blog sound super creepy and weird if I ever mention it.

            And yet, once you get thinking about it, how can a crackhead's addiction be the same as alcoholism and Internet addiction and also addiction to food or sex?  It's not really the item; it's the feelings that the object of eternal siren-like desire that it brings to these people.  They're hooked on the good feelings that eating a lot of food or having sex or drinking or doing drugs brings them.  The equation is the same for everyone:

Problem → Need to feel good → Use of desirable object → Feeling good

But here's a tricky twist: addiction is itself a problem, especially if it interferes with your everyday life; so, in a sense, it turns into a thick, gummy, nearly concrete, manipulative frosting layer on the cake of problems and lies (PORTAL!) that you're dealing with.  So, there comes a time when you have to just sledgehammer that shit open in a giant epiphany moment of "What the fuck am I doing to myself?!"  For those of you having substance or gambling abuse and are thinking that, I shall include a list of numbers at the bottom that you can call for help.

            Anyways, I have discussed this with one of my witchdoctors (head-shrink!  HA!  Get it?!  #badpsychiatrypuns) and he did share with me this penny for my thoughts: you can enjoy something a lot, like sex or the Internet and that wouldn't be addiction; but when you enjoy it so much that you start to ignore your daily responsibilities that are needed (like hygiene, eating, work, family, real life friends), that's when it becomes an addiction.  You know the people who many of us label as "homeless," and  seem to just always drink or do drugs or whatever?  They are homeless because they were too busy being drunk/high to shower, eat, interact with family, pay rent, or go to work, and they got kicked out and have no place to go or no back-up plan for getting evicted out of their dwelling.  They're just stuck on feeling better and crave it so much that they can't quite move on from getting that fix.

            For Big C, it was alcohol.  He got into the never-ending party scene, he felt like he was in control of his forever yammering mind, he felt good, he let it get in the way of his daily responsibilities, his credit was ruined, he wasn't in the best of shape (besides round); essentially, he was a living buffet for a horde of zombies.  (He calls this phase of life "Peter Hardwick," aka "Chad Softwick," aka "Chris Fatwick," aka the fat drunk brother he never really had but someone kept alluding to during the early days of the biographical Wikipedia article about him.)  But on October 8, 2003, he was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, with Jenny NOT-AN-EXPERT-ON-AUTISTIC-SPECTRUM-DISORDERS McCarthy as the guest.  At one point, at the end of the interview, Stewart says, "Oh, by the way, Chris Hardwick works here now."  To which she responded with, "Really?  Cool!"  Stewart shot back with, "Yeah.  He gets our coffee." [audience laughter]  "Fu.  Cking.  BALLS!" Big C shares next in the text.  He was called out on one of his favorite shows for being a loser, "and the worst part was, he was right."  That sent him on a journey to sobriety and fitness, and 10+ years later, he's on top of the world as the sober attractive-yet-out-of-my-league-in-more-ways-than-one COO of Nerdist Industries, hosting a shit ton of shows like Talking Dead and @midnight, as well as the Nerdist Podcast!

            As for me, I will admit (wincingly) that I have an addictive personality thanks my half-Vulcan father's side.  And it is a little easy for me to get hooked on things that allows me to feel good (which I will not dive too far into because it's a little uncomfortable for me to talk about) but now I know better.  I've done a paper on drunk driving and I learned that alcohol can magnify the effects of antidepressants.  And with that in mind, along with my being prescribed with antidepressants and that looming genetic predisposition hanging over my head, I make sure to never really hit the point of "durrunk," (I never want to be Dalek-hugging drunk, but I'm such a lightweight that I'm sure that I'll pass out before then.) because I don't want to fuck myself over.  Which I'm actually making into a rule for myself right here and right now: never ever create a tolerance for alcohol that's above 24-oz of something.  I actually don't even drink
socially; I'm not anywhere close to being social drinker, as I am pretty much a lightweight in terms of alcohol tolerance and terms of how much out of shape I really am; so Musikfest is really only the time I would have 24-oz. of alcoholic something and just drunk dial my sister and go "I'm drinking lots of water," 3 times in the conversation (true story).
            But on the flip side, I was actually typing this post up at home instead of surfing the webs at the library on a Saturday because Monday-Friday this past week (the week of March 9th, 2014, when I posted my review of the premiere of Cosmos ASTO), I was there, getting some semblance of Internet access.  Every single day, during that time period.  And it got to the point of "I need to not go there!  I need to take a break!"  The reasoning behind it is that I felt that it started to really tug at whatever part of me that many Christians call my soul, the siren call of the Internet was really sounding itself until closing time passes.  So, I needed to #SEPARATE myself from the library on a day that it's actually open so that I don't wind up going over that edge of self-destructive library-internet addiction spiral of DOOOOOOM!!!!!

            It's an interesting idea to talk about and I really do think that everyone shouldn't have a vice.  I remember having on my old blog, a very explanatory blog post about the whole Straight Edge movement (It's a movement, Mom!  It's not a club confined to my college, but a movement that was all over the country!) being positive about "not drinking, not doing drugs, beware of the asshole hardliners!" and to be honest, I would never have been able to be truly straight edge.  Jonah Ray was, but I really wasn't because I got lost in the Internet that was Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, MMO games, etc.  And I can't just let myself get to that point again, because it created this black hole that swallowed the path I was on to "apparel design and merchandising" in my Family and Consumer Science major.  But perhaps I didn't want it; perhaps, super-subconsciously I wanted to do pure art, or something else that would satisfy what kind of future I would want, and I, instead, went, "I'll go into fashion!" to people to get them to stop saying, "You'll starve as an artist," and, "You'll never have a real future," to me, and then I set up some red-matter dynamite on that career path I was on, pushed down on the plunger of the detonator box and created this void that I could not cross that I'm sure four-dimensional me would be able to cross somehow in a way that I would not understand.

            Wow, that was a convoluted creative over-exaggeration of Freudian thinking of subconscious desires that I just described in half of a paragraph.  I think I'm turning into another version of the Bloggess.  OH CRAP!  JENNY!  HELP MEEEEEE!!!!!  I CAN'T HAVE TAXIDERMY IN MY APARTMENT!!!


Just Because the Phone's Right There: Some Helpful Non-Finger Digits

Here are some numbers you can call:

Alcohol Anonymous (AA): Okay, AA is good for people who need structure for getting back onto the "right" path, but it's not for everybody.  Big C admitted this in Nerdist Way and on one of his podcast episodes (the number of which I don't really don't remember) that it's just not the program he needed, he just did his own thing because AA never really resonated well with him.  He still got sober, stayed sober, and is doing well.
            Website: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org

Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Spin-off of AA that helps deal with drugs and substance abuse.
            Website: http://www.na.org

IntheRooms.com: This is a social network for those in recovery.  It's a thing that Big C discovered that he hasn't used, but it does allow you to connect with similar folks at varying stages of recovery with at any level of privacy that you would prefer.
            Website URL: http://www.intherooms.com

A Confession

            I have to say that I'm not an expert, much like Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. Phil McGraw are experts.  I'm just sharing my experience, adding in my thoughts and knowledge so that you may know of my views of the whole addiction landscape.  I still don't consider myself to be addicted to the Internet; but there is a danger for me to start drinking like it's going out of style.  For that, I must be careful.  So don't take my entire word for it as "expert advice," beyond "get help if you're suffering."  So don't be afraid to confide in people such as sisters and friends and therapists and faith leaders.  They can help you get started on the right path.  It takes a lot of support to get over addiction and to solve the core problem, so I ask of you all to also accept the support and help that works for you, or, if it's someone you know, just be there for them, without enabling by providing drug money, a place to stay, providing the drugs, etc.  They will thank you in the end.  Just don't give up because the journey to sobriety is a long, hard, rough hike through mostly charted territory that is easy to just give up on.

            Another confession: Most cigarettes are flavored with ambergris.  That's whale vomit.  Think about THAT the next time you light one up, readers!

            ENJOY YOUR SOBER TACQUITOS!  Unless it's tiramisu.  Or cheese fondue.  Or you're in Colorado.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Review of the Great Cosmos: A New Journey Begins When Another Ended

            Wow!  WOW!  I know this is a highly verbose review, but I am typing this up as fast as possible so that all the knowledge and impression of the show doesn't fade away from my brain or attention span!  The theme for this blog post is Snow Park by Connect Ohm!

            On Sunday, March 9, 2014, at 9:00pm EDT on all the Fox and National Geographic networks, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, author and hilarious scientist, led us on our first steps on a journey that Dr. Carl Sagan started a generation ago, on the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (preceded by Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) with the (paraphrased) words, "It's time to get going again."  I've been treated to a perspective that the late loved Dr. Sagan has only introduced us to, to a thirst of knowledge that many scientists are trying to quench with new information about Life, the Universe and Everything (to which the Answer is 42!  HA!  Hitchhiker's Guide, people!  Come on, nerd out with me with that one shitty joke!).

            I have to say, the introduction was mind blowing!  I swear, all the visuals in the intro sequence gave my mind a blowjob!  I loved it so much, I think I was sort of drooling at the end of it, but only "sort of" because I was having dinner, my Soup of the Cosmos (which I will share the recipe to at the end of this post; it's perfect for people on the lower end of the income scale!).  Anyways, to have Dr. Tyson start the show at the edge of the very same sea cliff that Dr. Sagan stood on when he started his Personal Voyage is entirely poetic; it's like Dr. Sagan was still with us, continuing our journey through the universe that we dwell in.  I've been fortunate enough to be able to watch Cosmos: A Personal Voyage thanks to National Geographic airing it before the premiere of A Spacetime Odyssey.  We were taken on a journey of the mind, to the edge of our universe, being given our address in it, which I have to say is a little inaccurate: according to the Doctor of the Whoniverse, we live in the Sol system, on Sol-3!  Not just "the Solar System"!  So please, astronomers and astrophysicists, incorporate that into our universal address!  But I swear my brain was fried when we went a bit "Inception" with the Universe-inside-of-a-multiverse-that's-inside-of-another-Universe.  My nose didn't start bleeding, but at least my brain got a warm-up before the show: Journey to the Edge of the Universe, narrated by Alec Baldwin, describing our observation of the universe as we come across celestial bodies in the sky, such as "angry moons", dangerous hypernovas, etc, etc.; during that show, I managed to come across a realization of my own, Dr. Carl Sagan style:

If we were to travel across the Universe beyond our galaxy, we'd also be traveling back into time, as the universe is not only a bubble of a network, but also has a reverse sort of tree-ring effect to the point where the farther we travel from Earth to the edge of the Universe we live in, the more we travel into the older parts of the universe, and if we exited past the universe's threshold, we would've been able to witness the Big Bang, to which I ascribed the physical edge of our Universe, the Big Bang Threshold.

            Not only that, Dr. Tyson says that our Universe started out smaller than a subatomic particle; in a sense, it relatively still is if you're far enough past the Big Bang Threshold, outside of every Universe located within our multiverse; we're still smaller than sub-atomic particles in a universe before the Big Bang, like cells in the human body.  Yes, it's frustratingly confusing, but it really is Inception-like!  BWAHHHHH!!!

            I'm sorry, through that shared epiphany, if I made everyone's noses bleed and their brains hurt more than Chris Hardwick's and Matt Mira's did when Dr. Tyson described the Ascent of the Cubes in Nerdist Podcast episode number 139.  If you have to be redirected to it, I suggest you check out the bottom part of this ranty blog post.

            But I have to say, "Spaceship of the Imagination" is pretty cool, despite the name!  I would've loved to have kept the retro look Dr. Sagan had in his spaceship, but Dr. Tyson's ship is a bit cooler, having the ability to not just travel across space but also peer through time, with its poetic floor-portal to the past in the floor (archaeology anyone?) and ceiling-portal to the future (STAR TREK IS OUR FUTURE!  If we have not destroyed ourselves with the thermonuclear World War III or disastrous climate change due to our self-inflicted global warming!), and has a sort of gyroscopic sort of bridge in that spaceship (in a realm beyond ours that has no "up"?  Really, Dr. Tyson?), which, to me, is in the shape of a dandelion seed.  You see, the dandelion seed is quite an integral part of the Cosmos program, and Dr. Sagan used it quite a bit when he was hosting Personal Voyage, and it only seems poetic to be traveling on that seed throughout the universe as we know it, as the dandelion seed in the organic sense is actually an organism traveling in its own spaceship to someplace new where it can colonize the ground it lands on.  But I also have to say, "Spaceship of the Imagination," doesn't exactly have a good ring to it: I understand that it's, to put it in Dr. Tyson's words in Nerdist podcast episode #139, "a journey of the mind," but couldn't you just name it the "Tyson TARDIS"?  Or the A.S.S. Imagination?  Just saying.

            But the visuals were stunning, the inclusion of history in the science exploration, the addition of the multiverse inside of the lectures, the sharing of the perspective of our slice of time in the universe, how the birth of the universe and our existence would've looked liked spread over a Gregorian calendar year, how religion treated new ideas, all of it, to me, was pure GENIUS!  I was looking forward to this premiere, as my friend Jesse (who still needs to do that superhero blog post) also was, despite not having access to cable.  And I can't wait to continue on with our next steps in this journey of 13 episodes where we are enlightened over how scientifically accurate the theory of evolution is, and the whole Creationism issue may go back as far as the Big Bang, which I'm sure was not instigated by Stewie Griffin restarting his time machine.  Which is why during the show, I posted these tweets:

            And I hate to spoil it for everyone, but I have to describe the end bit: I saw all the old footage, and the Sagan seaside cliff bit, and I can't help it but I cried a little much like Matt Mira teared when he was watching the last shuttle launch of NASA, but for reasons a little bit different from what Dr. Tyson ascribed to him in that first episode of Nerdist podcast that he was on all that couple of years ago.  In fact, I tweeted this when it happened….

all because not only did Dr. Tyson talk about how much of a leader Dr. Sagan was, but he also suddenly pulled out Dr. Sagan's planner, and turned to the page where an appointment with a young Dr. Tyson was listed, and it was not only a tale of how a young man growing up in the Sky View apartments in the Bronx was influenced by his genius and his tutelage, but it was also, in Dr. Tyson's words, a sort of "passing of the torch," which made me think a little: Dr. Sagan would've been so proud of him, and he wouldn't have trusted anyone else to do the reboot of his show, because Dr. Tyson would've been the only one to do it right.  He influenced many scientists, much like Aristotle influenced many mathematicians.  He is the Aristotle of our time, and if he saw the show today, he would've approved, despite any flashiness.  RIP, Dr. Carl Sagan, wherever you are, whether you're in heaven, the great big observatory/laboratory in the sky or even in the fourth or fifth dimensions.  We miss you, even though I haven't watched your show before Saturday or Sunday, March 8/9th, 2014!

Our Universe Is One Giant Pot of Soup: A Recipe for the Soup of the Cosmos

            Because I was running a little low on food, I improvised my dinner, anxious to have it be done by the time Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (which shouldn't be "STO", because "STO" is already taken by Star Trek Online!  It should be ASTO, so as to not confuse people!  #addressingthiswiththehopethatIAmNotTooLate #longhastags #hashtaggingoutsideofTwitter) aired.  And I tweeted:

because I'm sure that it has not yet been done in detail!  Nerd-Chef Alton Brown might disagree, but goddammit, IT'S MY RECIPE AND I SHALL SHARE IT WITH Y'ALL FOR NEXT WEEK'S EPISODE!

Soup of the Cosmos (aka, Cosmic Soup)

Pasta In Potato Pot (aka, a saucepan that's the second to smallest you have)
1 ½ cup salted water
1/2 cup small pasta shells

Broth In Vegetable Pot (aka, smallest pot you have)
1 ½ cup salted water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried minced onion
½ cup panko bread crumbs

Fancy shredded Mexican blend cheese
Four packets of string cheese, unwrapped and chopped into 1/8-1/4 inch long pieces

  1.  Boil pasta according to directions.
  2. In small "Vegetable pot", boil water; crush and add chicken bouillon cube, stir.  Add basil, minced onion and panko breadcrumbs; stir, let sit.
  3.  Drain pasta when finished, return to "Potato pot" without heat.  Add broth to pasta, stir.  Stir in shredded cheese and chopped string cheese, making sure it melts.
  4.  Serve warm.  Makes two servings.
Isn't our Universe like this soup?  Isn't the basil like the asteroids and comets, the chopped string cheese like our planets, the pasta shells like our stars in the sky, the shredded cheese like the nebular clouds and the broth like the dark matter of space?  It's so poetic that I think it's appropriate for everyone to have.  Also, it's great for Lent because it doesn't have real meat!  It has chicken broth, but not REAL meat or poultry or pork!  Can't the bouillon be an exception to this, Church?  PLEASE?

           Anyways, I hope you enjoyed Cosmos ASTO just as I enjoyed my soup with it.  And I hope everyone gets to experience the enlightenment and pleasure of education in the hopes that we can all become smarter, we can all become nerds and continue to have intelligent discussions about science, the universe, the multiverse, and our place in the—SQUIRREL!  *scamper, chase, falls asleep and snores*

P.S. I have GOT to share this tweet!  This tweet won the Internets last night in my opinion....so go Favorite and Retweet this, because it's HILARIOUSLY TRUE!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

War Horse: A Tale of Bravery and Magnificence

            Still no word on a completed guest post about superheroes (JESSE!  THESE PEOPLE ARE WAITING!) so how's about a review of a movie sans the Broadway show?  For this post, it's the (optional) theme song of the full War Horse Soundtrack.

            If anyone's ever heard of War Horse, they might think of the Broadway show, with the amazing puppets, and the brilliant actors making it all seem so real.  But the movie is just as spectacular!  You get all of these great shots where even the scenery gets to be the star of the show, where these 6-star actors (out of five, mind you) make your wildest dreams come true, and you are just taken on the journey, like a spirit witnessing the miracle of a horse surviving World War I, that many people thought was the War to End All Wars.  It was utterly brilliant!

            Not very many people realize that Steven Spielberg directed this movie much like Vincent Van Gogh created his paintings; he used the skies of Devonshire to his advantage, the moors like a landform just waiting to be used as a backdrop for an epic movie, he used the landscape to its advantage, the surrounding areas as part of this great beautiful story, and it seems that he sees it all in his mind and just HAS to make it real.  It all came together very beautifully as a work of art that tells this war story, this journey of a horse from birth to war to home again, who is a character in and of itself, that had to be trained to run into battle instead of away from danger.  In fact, Tom"Loki" Hiddleston, who played Captain Nicholls in this film, was witness to how Spielberg directed and constructed shots for the film; it might be a lot of hard work to other directors, but it was like "water out of a tap for him," because it would just flow with ease.  If I couldn't make it as a director for my Polar Vortex film, then I probably would've co-directed with Spielberg, because he's just.  So.  Brilliant!

            The acting was incredible, the horses were probably trained extremely^2 well to act properly, in the way that was just not only natural, but also like they are also the stars of the film, having to bear many a rider from many backgrounds on their backs.  And what's also great, having ridden horses myself until my teen years, is that they never had one shot in the film be of the horses taking a piss or a shit.  I'm serious, it isn't fun to have to wait around for the horse to finish their business for me to continue with dressage riding.  BUT(T)!  Squirrel moment aside, they were beautiful and they deserve their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and knighthood in the UK.  Of course, the knighthood will be up to Her Majesty.

            I have to spoil it a tiny bit.  Because there is just this one beautiful scene, one where I will not reveal where it lies in sequence of the film lest I spoil it for everyone who didn't watch it but SHOULD….  It's a scene where you're on the moors of Devon, and the skies are awash in the fiery sunset glow of the sun.  It's so beautiful, like the skies are awash with flame, and everything is lit in the firelight of the sky.  You can't help but just go, "Oh….my….GODS!  Someday, this HAS to be the setting for a photo shoot!"  (Heh, you might not go "PHOTO SHOOT!"  But, I confess that I actually did.)  But it was just so beautiful, like Spielberg's version of Van Gogh's Starry Night, with the color temperature thermostat set to warm!  All those oranges and yellows just giving it the right sense of amazing jaw-dropping BEAUTY!

            I also have to admit that I did not realize that it was a book FIRST…  I would LOVE to see the Broadway show for sure, but now I have to find the book and read it!  Because Mama always told me to read the book first!  However, I don't think Spielberg could do the book any more justice than he already did!  He did excellent with the firing squad scene, with the shot construction and execution, Tom Hiddleston did excellent as Captain Nichols, Benedict Cumberbatch was wonderful as Major Jamie Stewart, and it was just the right amount of jaw dropping beauty mixed together with emotions and storytelling and character AND DELICIOUS CHEEKBONES!!!!!  Even I would nominate this movie for every Oscar category, including made-up categories I'm still trying to come up with for @midnight's Hashtag Wars!



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Life On Hoth: When Snow Just Keeps Inviting Its Relatives

            I know I promised y'all my friend's guest blog post, but for technical reasons, he wasn't exactly able to make a draft for me.  Not to mention he has a job now, so he'll have less time to do the post.  So, I suggest that we all wait patiently for him as I share my bullshit with you to tide you over until then.  The optional theme song for this week is a Red Hot Chili Peppers "Snow" Remix.

            If you haven't read my post about the Polar Vortex from earlier this year that made just being outside completely dangerous, I suggest you PAUSE on reading this current post in order to catch up on weather issues.

            All caught up now?  Good.  *AHEM!*

            Being a resident of the Northeastern (specifically Mid-Atlantic) region of the United States does have its perks a bit, mostly because we actually get all four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn/Fall, and Winter actually take place here.  I've experienced heat waves, the odd stray hurricane, freezing cold and snow, as well as unusual weather patterns such as tornadoes north of me in the mountains and the unusual declaration from school of "flood days".  But right now, everything seems off balance thanks to the fuckers who are not helping us at least slow down the global warming we have inflicted upon the planet.  Not only do we have more and more dangerously hot weather every Summer (which should just be called Tatooine season at this rate), but now we are facing a ridiculous Winter.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that this is why Punxsutawney Phil, the famous meteorological groundhog of PA, predicted 6 moreweeks of winter (would should just be called Hoth season at this point); I actually did wonder why he "saw his shadow", but now I know:


Yes, first it was the Polar Vortex in early January; then it was Winter Storm Pax last week (which is pretty funny because it not only is Latin for "peace," but it's also the name of some gaming conventions that happen periodically every year, with PAX Prime in Seattle, PAX East Boston and now PAX Australia!), and this past weekend it's another storm called Winter Storm Quintus, which I'm sure was named after the Pennsylvania Lottery game known as Quinto!

            Since when is it okay to advertise by having snow storms be named after what you're trying to sell?  Since when is it okay to control the DAVROS-DAMN weather?!?!  I'm frustrated and tired and coming up with ridiculous conspiracy theories, because, now, the snow isn't going away!  People are barely shoveling sidewalks, putting down salt, and not giving a fuck about bus stops I use!  And that's not the only danger!

Life On Hoth Just Got a Little More Dangerous

            We've faced below freezing temperatures, sleet, freezing rain, snow, thundersnow, rain, frostbite dangers, and driving winds.  At a couple of points, it was colder here in the U.S. than in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympic Winter Games are being held (or were held if you're reading this in the future)!  But now there's another couple of issues that are not exactly being covered in the news just yet.

            For one, we've got structural damage to buildings, which is hurting business!  Yes, I said structural damage, but only because a building in Easton, PA (or its surrounding neighborhoods) has actually started to (or already did) collapse under the weight of the snow that refused to melt!  We're also running out of room to put it all!  Seriously, Mother Nature, can't you give us a fucking break?  Or did someone steal Sean Connery's weather machine and fuck around with it, making us suffer the consequences?

            You see, deep down at its core, EVERYTHING is made of the same "stuff," which scientists call matter or mass.  And you can't really just erase matter from existence; it can be transformed from one state to another, converted into energy and back, but it can't be destroyed or removed from existence all together; it just stacks itself upon itself.  All we can do with this STUFF that is currently called "snow" and "ice" is to move it, mostly onto bigger and bigger piles of snow and ice.  We're running out of room to put the snow so it can stay out of the way!  In fact, I just recently found out from sources of mine that on Saturday, February 15, 2014, the city of Bethlehem, PA, closed off part of Main St. that runs through downtown in order to remove a giant nuisance pile of snow by way of two backhoes and a dump truck!  They even closed off the bridge that goes into that section!  Which isn't helpful considering that the historic Hotel Bethlehem (complete with its own room with a "boo") is RIGHT THERE!

            One woman I've chatted with about the weather while riding home on the bus actually asked if the snow is being dumped into the river that separates South Side Bethlehem from the rest of the city.  I am not sure about this info, but I'm kind of leery about it.  You see, streets are indeed made from asphalt, but it's also often soaked in petroleum products, like oil and whatnot.  This "street-oil" is actually what lends cause to a driving phenomenon known as hydroplaning, where the car just slides along the surface of the street in wet weather with loss of traction and some control, mostly because oil tends to float on the water that seeps into the asphalt whenever it rains and lubricate the surface even further.  So, if you're plowing snow out of the way, you're also scraping up not only pieces of asphalt but this oily residue stuff with the snow.  Which means that it might not actually be safe to be dumping into the water, I fear.

            (Also, yellow snow is an issue, but it's easily identifiable, and not as prevalent as a problem.)

            But another issue with the added mass of snow that isn't melting or going anywhere at the moment is the combined weight of it.  You see, you have layers of snow and ice and snow and ice not just landing in the streets and on top of cars, but also on top of buildings.  It's not necessary to remove snow from the rooftops—that is, unless the structure of the building is unable to hold the weight of the snow.

            Just this past Tuesday (February 18, 2014), a carousel building at the old, abandoned, historic, hard-to-restore amusement park known as Bushkill Park actually collapsed under the weight of the snow.  I kid you not, I was like, "NOOOOO!" because I actually went there and skated at the roller rink!  It's like, your favorite tree on your property getting cut down and it stings quite a bit because it was a part of your life.  At least the carousel wasn't damaged and nobody was hurt; in fact, the carousel wasn't even there: it was sold a long time ago already, according to my half-Vulcan Spockish father.

            I also heard from him that fairly recently, in the Bethlehem area, the 24-hour Wegman's off of Center St. had a collapse scare.  One day, the manager showed up to work to find out that the steel pillars of +25 roof support that are located throughout the store have started to flex "near the roof"!  I'm not making this up!  He actually freaked out a bit and said, "WE  NEED THIS CHECKED OUT!"  The fire department showed up and kicked everybody out for safety reasons!  The store was closed for 17 hours (overnight) while the employees and manager had to wait for an assessment of the structure by an inspector.  The inspector said that the place will hold the weight, despite the weirdness of FLEXING STEEL POLES (that aren't from Poland; sorry for the stupid pun), and they reopened at 2:30 PM EST on Sunday, February 16th, reassuring everyone that it will be okay.  However, I'm typing this while having images in my head of that Wegman's being the center of a story about how an inspector gave the green light on the structural safety, only to have the building collapse days later with some casualties.  Of course, this was out of concern thanks to media influence sensationalizing such stories and making it near impossible to think "Just fucking trust the inspector," without thinking about the possibility of false structural positives turning into bad news for people working in that building as it collapses onto their heads.

            So I beg you, with this in mind, BE CAREFUL!  Make sure that the tops of your cars, trucks, buses, SUVs, etc, are cleared off so you don't wind up killing people with frozen blocks of snow falling off the roof of the vehicles/shipping containers/buses on bridges only to slam into the cars trying to pass underneath.  Stay warm, and make sure you keep an extra supply of tauntauns on hand and share if people need them!

BONUS!  Ascent of the Cubes: A Way to Make Sure You Don't Go to Bed On Time

Oh, my...Davros/Cthulhu!  This poster is full of WIN!
            Just recently, I've been listening to one particular episode of the Nerdist podcast over and over (because I enjoyed it a lot), with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson as the guest.  And in the episode, he described higher spacial dimensionality.  Please, allow me to share his ideas so that you may experience the liquification of your brain!

            Once you've listened to that, let's take it further: if the four-dimensional cube has eight three-dimensional cubes as boundaries, isn't the five-dimensional cube bounded by ten four-dimensional cubes, which each have eight three-dimensional cubes as boundaries?  *offers tissues for bleeding noses and painkillers for readers who can't quite grasp that concept*  It's so crazy to think about!

            Anyways, I shall leave you writhing in agony like that, while I go hunt down some chocolate to celebrate a belated Singles Awareness Day by myself.  Please don't hate me for making your brain constipated.