Aitch-Bar

Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say


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A Monologue From the Spider Creeping On You Above the Shower

Don’t you mind me, girl. I see you standing there, not sure what to do. You stride into this bathroom all confident, thinking this shower is just another trip under the faucet. You didn’t expect to see Barry up here, spinning a little thang. Barry didn’t expect to see you either. Barry don’t mind, girl. Barry don’t mind.

That’s right. Take it all off. You don’t have to be shy about Barry. Barry’s just a harmless arthropod. No clothes here; we’re all natural in this bathroom. You dropping that towel. Me in this chitinous exoskeleton. It’s your birthday, girl. Let’s wear these suits.

Start that water slow now. You gotta give the pipes a chance to warm up. The water is destroying my proteinaceous silk weave that I inexplicably put under the shower head, even though this ain’t my first night here and I should know what’s up. That’s my bad. Some strands are still in the water, getting tugged on. They’re rockin’ me all the way up here. That’s some good vibes. Barry’s gonna ride these waves. Ride ’em all night long.

Mmmmm.

I hope you like eyes, baby. I’ve got four pairs of them. And they’re all on you. I see your loofah, waxing on. You get clean. I use my chelicerae to periodically groom my extremely fine leg hairs. They sense vibrations in the air. Maybe from predators. Maybe from unwary flies. Yeah. Can you feel it baby? I can too. It’s such a good vibration. It’s such a sweet sensation. I do not know if those are lyrics to a song that already exists, as I have no cognitive storage. Maybe Barry will drop an album.

A lesser man would be drooling for you. Barry’s above that sort of thing. Barry drools only to liquidize nutrients, as my organs are not physically large enough for solid ingestion. Let Barry treat you with respect. Just you and me, some pinot, a low candle, some fresh Drosophila. Barry knows the way to satisfy a lady.

You will have to excuse me for my indiscretion; you captivate me. Watch as I enter an elaborate courtship dance designed to prevent you from eating me before the act of conception. Like these moves? Yeah. Who’s #1 in this disco? Right here, baby. These legs are all akimbo.

The time draws near. I will spread my man seed in a special-purpose web and then transfer it to the base of my pedipalps. Yes. That is actually how I do it. I hear you girl. It is hard to believe in God after learning something like that.

Leaving so soon? Seems like we only met ten minutes ago, or about eighteen hours in spider time. I’ll see you tomorrow girl. Don’t worry about Barry. Barry will be right here. Or possibly over there. That other corner looks like it’s in need of some habitation, Barry style–

Hold up. That’s a nice towel. Barry could see himself all up in the folds of that towel.

Yeah.

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Swimming Tips!

The Dear Leader before heading off to the giant Swimming Pool in the Sky

More like Swim Jong Il!

I recently took up the sport of swimming. It is a great way to get in some heart-pounding cardio while constantly feeling like you’re about to drown. I want to share some tips I’ve learned in the past few months to help other new swimmers succeed in this asphyxiation-inducing form of exercise:

  • Make sure to wear a brightly colored bathing suit. This will make it easier for the lifeguard/police divers to spot you/your corpse at the bottom of the pool/abandoned quarry basin.
    Sexy

    Perfect form!

  • Chlorine in pools can bleach or discolor hair, and some people wear swimming caps to avoid this. If you choose not to, don’t be surprised that 30-40 years of swimming regularly may turn much of your hair a white or greyish color.
  • Breathing enough air to perform the physically demanding act of swimming can be challenging. Yet, the theory that the human body requires oxygen for survival is just that: a theory. Scientific opinion differs on the exact mechanism of respiration, and though some in the mainstream scientific community have come to the conclusion that it is necessary, the winds of discovery often blow in unexpected directions. After all, it was once “mainstream scientific opinion” that the sun revolved around the Earth, how is this any different? Not to mention the suspicious fact that so-called “legitimate” biologists refuse to debate us. What are they afraid of? That their theory of aerobic respiration won’t stand up to scrutiny? An honest debate is all we ask. Just because we find the idea of life-sustaining yet invisible oxygen particles hard to “inhale,” doesn’t mean we should be pariahs to an orthodoxy-enforcing community unwilling to withstand challenges for fear of losing their lucrative grant money. Until we have a real discussion on the merits of Respirationism, you should consider the necessity of breathing air to be just one of many theories about how to sustain life. Teach the controversy!
  • Amphibian-American Michael Phelps is known to consume  upwards of 12,000 calories a day while training, and he is the greatest Olympic swimmer of all time. Try quintupling your usual diet.

    Dolphins respect Putin’s diabolical consolidation of power.

  • Many swimmers find they can reduce drag by shaving their body hair. To gain an advantage you really have to shave everywhere. And I mean everywhere. You know where I’m talking about. Downtown. The basement. The sausage cellar. The Batcave. Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
  • If you’re a novice, stay out of the Shark Lane. The shark cannot tell the difference between different skill levels.
  • Humans are roughly 70% water. Try to use that to your advantage somehow.
  • Good form can be the difference between sinking, and being the next, even douchier, Ryan Lochte. Here is the formula for a perfect front crawl:
    1. Extend your main arm frontwise. Palm down with inosculated digits. The appendage containing your brain, mouth, and sense organs should be oriented orthogonally to your direction of motion. Pivot starboard (or anti-starboard, respectively) as you drag your main arm crosswise through the water.
    2. Repeat this action (mirror-reversed, of course) with your auxiliary arm.
    3. While performing Steps #1 & #2, pump your non-anterior appendages ventrally in a reiterant fashion. A good form mimics the elegant flap of a Sharp-tailed Grouse’s wing. To maximize efficiency, attempt to get the ratio somewhere around 5.67:1 kicks to arm cycles.
    4. Pull the dangling end to the left and then fold it back over itself to the right. Hold this fold, which will be the front loop of the completed tie, between your shirt’s collar points. Tighten by pulling on opposite sides and halves simultaneously. Repeat until the bow is the desired shape and tightness.
    5. When you complete your arm cycle, swivel your facial region in the direction of your auxiliary arm. Expand your diaphragm with your intercostal muscles to effect the intake of air.
    6. As you approach the far end of the pool, and prepare to flip-turn off the wall, think about all the mistakes you’ve made in your life. The friends you should have been kinder to, the elderly relatives you should have visited more often, the times you didn’t work as hard as you should have. If you’ve ever gotten embarrassingly drunk and thrown up on yourself, concentrate on that memory. It will ease the extreme discomfort of water rushing into your sinuses as you forget to strongly exhale during your underwater somersault. With your main and auxiliary arms at your side, tip forward around your proximal axis and use the memory of your romantic failures in high school to ignore the blinding pain of bashing your ankles into the edge of the pool during the flip. After pushing off, extend your distal appendages axially in both directions and rotate 180 degrees as you think about when you spilled red wine on your favorite shirt. Man, you really loved that shirt.


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Two Cats for the Price of One

Brrrow?

This is Venus, the internet’s favorite cat this week.

These are the Charons from the Star Trek TOS episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”:

Anyone else suddenly hungry for Oreos?

This cat-copycatting should come as no surprise: cats have always loved Original Series Star Trek. Dogs on the other hand (which, regardless of their other virtues, are well known to have terrible taste) tend to prefer Voyager. They can relate to Neelix.


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Midwestern Exposure

I’ve presented myself stark naked in front of hotel windows several times, because, you know, YOLO, and few people have ever made a thing out of it. Which is a shame. I can think of no greater lot in life than being at the epicenter of a quake that tears the news media apart, debating over whether one man’s junk is another broadcasting corporation’s treasure. I side with Prince Harry on this one, though it’s not even clear which side that might be, although certainly front side. Thus opens and closes my riffling through CNN for the month of August. Also, add breaking-and-entering to the list of things not to do around LL Cool J, right after fronting in your ride and declaring the unsexiness of fisher’s hats.

There are multiple correct ways to go about painting a classic car, and then there is the way shown at right. Unless Ford is rebooting the franchise and this is a 2013, someone dropped wads of cash on parts and took a long time on painstaking construction. The closest analogy I have is bodybuilding for a year straight and then joining Blue Man Group. Who gives a shit about what’s underneath. You’re blue. This car looks like it has liver spots. It’s the perfect vehicle for hunting senior citizens.

If there is a central theme of Kool Deadwood Nights, it is “old.” It seems as though it was supposed to be “cars;” a swing and a miss. This sounds heavy-handed, and indeed I judge them in their own house. I hypothesize that the age distribution in the area is a rising exponential. But the Jumbotron was like 30 feet from the stage, and the entire two block stretch was filled with orderly rows of lawn chairs. The concert ended by 9. Come on. Block parties themed in the 1900s have been done, and then, they’ve been done again. You’ve got real roots; try an 1800s weekend.

Tangentially related, something about music where all the words have a “yyrrah” sound at the end makes me want/need to windmill. Not because I’ve been seized by some idiot mosher’s version of the Spirit and now, oh, watch out other concert attendees, the Lord has called on me to testify. I assure you that it is strictly a murder response. I would never publicly admit to being inspired by things that annoy me, though I do syphon massive amounts of creative power from my rage font, which, like the rest of my body, runs dry in this environment. I attempt to fill it when I can, squeezing little out of littler still. Even so my mind has been a blank slate lately, with serenity and majesty or whatever everywhere I look. There are mountains fucking everywhere. There’s one right there. And deer and rabbits and giraffe. I forever face the dilemma of taking in the scene with repose or slamming a Dew and tearing up on some motorchair with wheels. I usually do neither and try to run; within a mile I begin to wonder if I have lungs constructed entirely out of asbestos, and then I remember that there is no oxygen at this altitude. I better be Superman when I get back to sea level, or I will be pissed and creative.


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Veeping in the Name of

It’s since been surpassed in the news by some kind of medieval shaman revealing to women at long last that they possess hitherto unknown reproductive powers in the category of “ways to shut that whole thing down,” but last week something amusing happened to someone who shares Todd Akin’s pre-Enlightenment views on female autonomy: VP candidate and ex-professional hand model, Paul Ryan.

P-Ryddy got an unpleasant surprise last Thursday, when Tom Morello, guitarist of his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine, and aging Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino look-alike, penned a Rolling Stone editorial that called him “the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against.” He wonders which Rage song is Ryan’s favorite, “Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of ‘Fuck the Police’? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production?” Rage has got to be one of the most aggressively left-wing bands of the last 20 years, and not just primarily outside their music, like Bruce Springsteen or Avril Levigne—the songs themselves are about the evils of war profiteering and how cool Trotsky’s beard looked. (Fun Fact: “Political Views and Activism of Rage Against the Machine” has its own page on Wikipedia). So it’s kind of funny that a Mr. Burns-level arch-Randian conservative liked their music so much. My theory: he’s missing the irony. Like in ‘Bulls on Parade’ when they sing about “Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes…I walk the corner to the rubble that used to be a library” maybe he just thinks all that sounds like a good idea.

As the campaign puts more scrutiny on Mr. Ryan, we’re going to find out about more of the things he didn’t fully understand. Here are my predictions of the harsh revelations he’s about to receive in the near future:

  • Jefferson Starship was not a real starship.
  • Even though they were both played by the same actor, Han Solo and Indiana Jones are, in fact, different characters.
  • Maize is corn.
  • None of the people in The Crucible were actually witches.
  • ‘Ferris Bueller’ is not Matthew Broderick’s name in real life.
  • “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is only a saying—you can’t just replace Medicare with apples.
  • ‘Rosebud’ was Kane’s sled, a symbol of his lost youth and innocence, not the name of a snowglobe company he tried but failed to acquire during his rise to power.
  • Even though it has ‘America’ in the name, we don’t actually own South America
  • The Eric Clapton song “Cocaine” was about drug use.
  • Cats are not always girls and dogs are not always boys.
  • Nabokov’s Lolita was not primarily a tribute to the motor lodges of the early 1950’s.
  • Crocodiles and alligators are different species. The resulting mix-up during the summer he worked at that zoo was his fault.
  • The music of Public Enemy is not about the supremacy of supply-side economics.


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“Movie” Review: Boa vs Python (2004)

Someone donated this DVD to my girlfriend’s library, and since adding it to the collection would raise all kinds of alarm bells, she was given it to take home, to avoid suspicion. So last weekend we watched it Mystery Science Theater 3000-style with a couple of friends who are connoisseurs of this genre, and it seemed only fair to share my insights on it here. What to say about one of these straight-to-video creature-features that hasn’t already been said? You may ask “Why would someone actually need to review something so obviously terrible, and from 8 years ago? Don’t we already know everything we need to know about this alleged ‘film’ from the title?” My response: who the hell do you think you are, telling me what I can and can’t write about?! Do I come down to your blog and tell you to stop posting pictures of your goddamn two-year-old and what you had for dinner last night? Of course I don’t, so shut the hell up and read my synopsis of one of 2004’s finest Snake vs. Snake movies.

We open in York, Pennsylvania, a strangely specific location for somewhere that no one has ever heard of. Obviously, a Mexican wrestling match is beginning, and the citizens of York are going crazy as the pugilists are introduced. The Boa and the Python. This is foreshadowing. A cigar-chomping bigshot who looks like a non-name-brand version of Tom Cruise sits in the front row and orders “a box of raisinets.” He is clearly a player. He takes a call from some goons driving a shipping truck and yells at them to do something. After hanging up, the truck explodes, allowing an enormous snake to escape and dive into a sewer entrance.

Really?

Just now, one of my watching companions discovers that this was filmed in Bulgaria, as the words “24 Miles Outside Philadelphia” appear at the top of a screen showing what is clearly the Bulgarian countryside. It is convenient that they were able to find a location that so clearly resembles the treeless steppes surrounding the major city of Philadelphia in all directions. Because one of the most interesting things about Philly is the way that despite being the fifth most populous metropolitan area in the US, the urban landscape abruptly stops at the city limits.

We are at the site of the truck explosion and the FBI is investigating the scene. One officer walks up to another inspecting a body and asks if this is body #6. The second officer replies that it’s “parts of bodies #2, #3, and #5” even though it is clearly a single person. An obnoxious news reporter reports the news obnoxiously, his cameraman has an Eastern-European accent.

Hey, watch those corners

Now we see Tom Cruise 2 on board his magic plane. He owns a 747-size aircraft for his personal use. The inside is adorned like a tacky Greek Temple. His girlfriend gratuitously takes a bath using a giant carwash-style sponge. It’s only 9 minutes into this film, but we’ve already seen everything, we’ve seen it all. A snake slithers into the bath so she angrily stomps into the bedroom to yell at TC2, but it is impossible to listen to what she’s saying because these scenes are just excuses to see her breasts. In the course of the conversation she throws the snake on the bed only to later sit down on it, toplessly, having forgotten that she had just thrown a snake on their bed 30 seconds ago.

This is around when we look at the cast list. Several men are all bit character actors, the women are all former porn actresses, the rest are Bulgaria’s finest. The Carwash Sponge was in Playboy Wet & Wild VIII: Bottoms Up; so it’s no wonder she knew how to take a bath. It’s good timing to find this out as we shift to a spring break party around a hotel pool. A bunch of bros are having a breath-holding contest as a blonde lady who is obviously another former porn actress says that she has breath-holding experience from being a Navy SEAL and challenges a giant guy who is whatever the Slavic equivalent of a linebacker is. This makes him good at going without oxygen somehow. They get in the water, and after 30 seconds she takes off her swimsuit top off. This somehow causes the Bulgarian Bruiser to run out of air and swim up to the surface. So she wins through trickery…how does that help you hold your breath during a Seal mission again? People hand her cash for winning the bet and she reveals a surprising proficiency for handling wads of wet $20 bills (how did this bet work again?). Anyway, she has been summoned by the FBI dude and the next scene is them in a car in West Virginia. Despite taking a plane to get there, she hasn’t had a chance to change out of her bathing suit. She is brought to team up with the world’s greatest herpetologist. He is in possession of a giant snake, this is a world where being a reptile scientist means that you create giant freaky reptiles.

Marine Biologists got to get paid y’all

This is when they start talking about “her equipment.” Despite being ~25 and having already spent at least a few years ascending to the top of the Navy’s most elite and challenging force, she is also the world’s greatest neuroscientist, because she has managed to create a computer interface to an dolphin brain. A system that would allow you to see through the dolphin’s eyes, control their actions remotely— it’s such a remarkable achievement that it is hard to believe we don’t need to spend more than 10 seconds talking about it. Rather, it’s time to repeatedly belittle the World’s Greatest Neuroscientist by referring to her work as her “equipment” or “implants” over and over again. Also we need to install it in the freaky giant snake— it’s like the old saying goes: “the only thing that can kill a giant snake is a giant cyborg snake”

Now TC2 assembles the world’s greatest hunters to go down into the sewers. A surprising number of them, including the cowboy stereotype with a giant American flag on his truck, seem to hail from Eastern Europe again. What a funny coincidence.

Imitation Tom Cruise lights a cigar with his magic flame thrower

A bunch of pointless things happen for the next 40 minutes. TC2 and his hunting team searches for the snake in the dense woods surrounding Philadelphia. As the python draws closer to the city, more Bulgarians perish from its fury. The World’s Greatest Neuroscientist goes into the sewers with Giant Boa Man to track their snake. You can’t help but wonder whether all that stuff about snake surgery was not significantly different than putting a camera and GPS on a snake. The hunting team doesn’t realize that if shooting the snake with bullets didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second, third, and tenth times. Tom Cruise 2 dumbly describes his hunting technique as “one shot, one kill”—despite multiple instances where we’ve seen volleys of bullets bounce off the snake. He then switches from guns to a flamethrower, which can’t make up its mind whether it’s the kind of flamethrower that merely projects fire, or the napalm-kind that sprays a stream of flaming gel— it keeps switching. The Python and Boa have sex in the sewer system and instantly lay a bunch of eggs. I don’t know anything about snake reproduction, and won’t insult your intelligence by merely looking it up on wikipedia, but any resemblance to things that could actually happen in reality has to be coincidental at this point.

Carwash Sponge meets her maker

Most of the people tracking the snakes get killed, and the former Navy SEAL (and star of Playmate Pajama Party) uses her breath-holding abilities, genuinely for once, to hide in some water while the python kills a bunch of people. Eventually, only TC2 and the Boa Implant Squad remain, and they head up to Philly’s hottest dance club— a dank, cramped bar with 15 patrons and 10 writhing fluorescent painted nude dancers. The python comes up through the basement, and as the army arrives on the scene, TC2 inexplicably murders about a dozen soldiers with his magic flame thrower. If his reason for doing this was a desire to kill the snake himself, he’s made a mistake, since he is now out of napalm. Suddenly, he decides to bend the laws of the universe by taking off his empty tank and shooting it. Despite being EMPTY it explodes in a magnificent burst of flame that blows away part of the building but doesn’t injure anyone standing 10 ft away from it. The python eats him anyway.

Boa Implant Squad chases the two snakes down to the subway (Philadelphia has a subway now?) and as the good snake and bad snake bite and wrestle each other, the Python gets hit by a subway car. CyberBoa slithers back into the depths of the sewers. After all this, the subterranean giant snake count remains at 1. Has goodness prevailed? We have all lost the ability to care. What part did the heroes play in saving the city? Well, I suppose they released an equally deadly snake into the sewers and got lucky. There. Stop asking questions.

A new day dawns over the suspiciously Eastern Bloc-style architecture of Sofia Philadelphia

Grade: H-
Like Kyopolou, a traditional Bulgarian relish made primarily from eggplant and garlic, this “film” is a gross-looking puree of ingredients so bland and pointless that you have to wonder why anyone bothered. Just as a Balkan dip won’t fill you up, Boa vs Python leaves you hungry for something more substantial, with a bad taste in your mouth, and yet, you knew what you were getting into when you minced the bell peppers and tomatoes.

Pointless.


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… and Put Them Down

Motorcycles, anathema to the typical person, are a thing here in western SoDak. Like, a thing thing. Nine days after the end of the Sturgis rally, the streets are still ruled by a synergistic mix of oversized bikes and deer. Like a germophobe in a Kmart, one must be careful in these parts when stretching one’s opinion muscles vis-a-vis two-wheeled annoyance machines. While locked in a literal 10-minute elevator ride, Jeremy let slip his true feelings and managed to offend someone whose father is a motorcycle, I guess. I assume that individual wished he was on his bike right then, able to drown out the conversation in a deluge of noise and unburnt fuel-laden exhaust, a smile creasing his sandblasted sunglasses-tanned face, behind him a skinny toothless woman with a quarter pound of Mascara, her weighing down the back wheel for traction as they get all the way up to 10 mph under the speed limit.

By the way. Anathema? I am a complete asshole for using that word, and more deserving of a wedgie no one has ever been. I enjoy pretending that my delete key is broken, which pushes the writing process forward in new and spectacular ways. All progress is forward progress. My destiny is made manifest by filling this computer screen with the rawest of prose.

I’m told the rally went off well this year. I heard the death toll was in the single digits, though not by much, but that’s still an improvement. From what I saw, I believe the theme this year was “America.” Apparently, in the ~50s, the rally was a family-friendly event, oriented toward people who zen out on having to stand up at red lights and pretending that they aren’t constantly eating bugs. Today one cordons off a three-block stretch of Main Street, lines up the Sons of Silence on one side and Hell’s Angels on the other, and then lets them hit each other with bats. Details ensue, and out comes a motorcycle rally. Toward the end the bars actually run out of Bud Light. Yes, that is possible; even with the backs of everyone’s fridges inexplicably and perpetually generating five-year-old cans of it, supply still can’t keep up with demand.