I will have already been going to go

I am a sucker for time travel stories. I love the whole idea of alternate possibilities, and I’ve never been able to figure out why they confuse so many people. I still remember movie reviews complaining that “Back to the Future 2” was hard to follow. But I suppose this speaks to the kind of people who review movies for a living.

On the other hand, even I am confused by the timeline of the Eagles’ “Already Gone”. See if you can figure out what’s going on here. Continue reading

Fighting A-ha in the cargo bay

I was in the car yesterday when the 1984 hit “Take On Me” by A-ha came on the radio. It’s one of the few 80’s songs I listen to but don’t sing along with in the car. Partly because I can’t understand many of the words, but mostly because I can’t sing high enough to crack the windshield. (Disclaimer: Kids, do not sing high enough to crack the windshield and drive!)

However, the words that I do understand bring up some issues that should be addressed. (Disclaimer: I’m going to bring them up whether they should be or not.)

1) I’ve never really gotten the point of the refrain. Perhaps this is really clear in the singer’s native Norwegian, but I can’t tell whether he’s asking her to “take on me” as one would take on passengers or cargo, or “take me on” in an adversarial manner, like the Rebel Alliance took on the Empire. Moreover, I’m not sure which is a better sign in a relationship. Continue reading

I don’t remember the point of this

From time to time, someone will characterize their superior knowledge of a given subject by saying to an opponent, “I’ve forgotten more about that than you’ll ever know.”

Pretty scathing indictment, wouldn’t you say?  I would have, until I thought about it driving home this morning.  While it is supposed to mean “I’m smarter than you!”, it really just conveys the idea, “I’m experiencing noticeable memory loss in this area!”  And the greater your knowledge, the more severe my amnesia is.

Not only that, if I started out knowing everything about a subject, and you only knew 50% of the subject, my having forgotten more than you know (say, 51%) means that I now know only 49% of the subject, and therefore your mastery of the data currently exceeds mine.

Don’t you just hate it when a perfectly good insult is ruined by math?  I might, but I’m just not sure any more…

Better living through warnings

As I have explained before, warning signs are what separates modern humans from cavemen.  If Neanderthals had spent less time doodling on cave walls and more time putting up signs saying “Warning: Cro-Magnons may be hazardous to your survival!”, actuarial tables show that Neanderthals would be approximately 92% less extinct than they are today.

Fortunately for us, modern humans warn the crap out of each other.  This morning, while I was getting my oil changed, I walked down the road to a nearby coffee shop.  (Disclaimer: it was not olde enough to be a shoppe.)  While I was waiting, I glanced up at the menu board and saw a warning in small print at the bottom.  I don’t remember the exact wording, but the gist of the message was this:

Allergen warning: Some of the products here may contain the following allergens: peanuts, tree nuts (which I first read as “tree moss”), wheat, milk, and (wait for it) fish.

Fish. Continue reading

New fall season, part 1

As a TV junkie, I’ve been reading TV Guide since I was a kid.  As the new fall season starts rolling out, I always look for things that catch my eye.  As we get closer to the fall, I will make my prediction of what show will be cancelled first.

For now, the thing that has caught my attention is the new Robin Williams / Sarah Michelle Gellar show “The Crazy Ones”, about a father/daughter ad agency.  Two quick observations:

1) I would like to be among the first to refer to this show as “Mork and Buffy”.

2) I would like to be the first to point out that “Mork and Buffy”, a “V”-like story about an Orkan invasion of Sunnydale, would probably be a better series than “The Crazy Ones”.


In the shadow

While I was at Barnes and Noble this morning, I noticed a new book on the shelf in the sci-fi/fantasy section: The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien with his son Christopher Tolkien.  I find this unsettling on two counts:

1) J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973.  It took him 40 years to write this book.  What else did he have to do for the last 4 decades?

2) On the assumption that Christopher Tolkien did most of the work, it just seems sad that he still got second billing.  That’s going to make for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, even considering the fact that Dad is going to want brains again instead of turkey.

Disclaimer: I have no opinion on the question of whether Christopher Tolkien is real.

Evolution of the iconic family

Once upon a time, long ago, you used to see minivans bearing a sign indicating that there was a “Baby on Board”.  Back then, babies were notorious for boarding minivans, and then tooling about town lording it over pedestrian babies who had nothing to board but a mommy-powered stroller.  (Babies can be cruel that way.)

Over the years, those older babies got tired being babies and stopped.  Newer, more enlightened babies were produced, who didn’t need to brag about their boardedness, and the signs came down.  This left a huge unblind spot on the minivan’s windshield.  And who wants an unfettered view of traffic?

And thus were born the Family Icons.  They started out primitive, barely more than stylized restroom door signs, crudely suggesting gender.  They came in different sizes, crudely indicating relative age and family status.  There was even a crude crawling icon to indicate the presence (but not the boarding state) of a baby.  These symbols served a vital function in large families by acting as a kind of family legend (the map kind, not the ancient lore kind).

Dad (loading the trunk after a day at the beach): OK, time to go!  Is everyone in the car?

Mom (counting heads):  One, two, three… wait, I think someone’s missing.

Dad (consulting the rear windshield): Hey, you’re right!  We’re missing the second largest child!  The one with hair like Marlo Thomas from “That Girl”! Continue reading