Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trevor the Hobgoblin


As I noted in my last post, it is the Halloween season.  The Halloween season always makes me feel that something cool should happen, and of course it never does, and every year it prompts me to blog. (You can click on the Halloween tag at the bottom of this post to find my old Halloween entries.  Indeed, I should probably click on the Halloween tag to see what I've written in past years.)  

Among other things, Halloween make me wish for something scary—not Ebola-scary, but scary in a fun, fantastical way. Things like that don't happen in our limited world, but I like to think that, in a world of limitless possibilities, a hobgoblin named Trevor could show up at my door.  

It would go something like this:

Trevor: Hi, my name is Trevor, and I'll be your hobgoblin for the evening.

Me: Huh? What does that mean?

Trevor: Basically, I am a hobgoblin, and later on tonight I'll  be haunting you.  

Me: Really? So how is this going to work?

Trevor: I think that we'll be going with the standard package.  You'll enter the cemetery late at night in an attempt to uncover an ancient secret, then at some point I will surprise you and chase you out of the cemetery and across the darkened landscape, until you evade me by crossing a stream, taking advantage of the well-known fact that supernatural beings can't cross running water.  And it will all be over in time for you to be home safe in bed by midnight.

Me: Could we maybe have me home safe by 11:35?  I'd like to catch Kimmel's monologue.  

Trevor: Yes, we could arrange that, but you should keep in mind that Kimmel normally shows a rerun on Friday nights. 

Me: Yeah, that's true, but he said on his show Wednesday night that he'll be doing a new episode for Halloween.  

Trevor:  Well, okay then, that's good to know.

Me: So is that all there is to it?

Trevor: We could do the expanded package, which contains an ironic twist in which, as you try to make your escape from me by the crossing the stream, you're attacked by a swamp monster in a nearby mire.  That would require more time and effort, though, and I'll need eight hours advanced notice in order to schedule the swamp monster.  

Me: Okay, let's just stick with the regular package.

Trevor: Very well then, I look forward to seeing you tonight.

Me: Before you go, I have a question—if you can't cross running water, how were you able to get here today? Didn't you have to go over some streams?

Trevor: We have our ways, sir.  

And then Trevor would be on his way to prepare for the night's events.  And even though I would have thought about it, I wouldn't have asked him what the difference is between a goblin and a hobgoblin, because maybe that would be a sensitive subject which he wouldn't want to discuss.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkin-Spiced Latte


The Halloween season is here again, and this year it is being marked with endless humorous references in the popular culture to pumpkin-spiced latte.  I can't get in on this trend, because I don't drink coffee, and indeed it confuses me, with all its endless variants with names like latte, java, espresso, cappuccino, and frappuccino.  (Some of those things might not actually be coffee.  Some might not even be real. I don't know.)

The only time that I have ever been tempted to drink coffee was many years ago when I was walking by a Starbucks and saw a sign in the window saying that they were serving, for a limited time only, "Komodo Dragon Blend".  I am a huge fan of the Komodo Dragon, and for an instant I thought that I should order some Komodo Dragon Blend to find out how it was different from other coffee.  But then I remembered that I never drink coffee, and thus would have no idea how Komodo Dragon Blend compared to anything else.

Now I have told a non-entertaining story that is not relevant to the topic at hand, whatever that might be. But I felt that I should write something.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I, Carlius


I don't watch the Nickelodeon network, because I am not a kid, nor do I have kids.  And in general I have a hard time even keeping straight which shows have been on Nickelodeon, and which have been on the Disney channel (although, from what I can tell, child actors from Nickelodeon are less likely to develop serious drug problems than their peers from Disney).  

But unknown elements of the popular culture will sometimes float up into my view. An indeterminate amount of time ago, I saw a reference somewhere to the Nickelodeon show iCarly.  I was bored, and decided to research the show on Wikipedia.  I read about the premise (a comedy, that ran from 2007 to 2012, about teenagers who produce a popular webcast), and the characters, and the various seasons, and even the cross-over episode with the show Victorious, starring, among others, Ariana Grande, who sounds like something that one would order at Starbucks.

And then I had an even better idea for a cross-over episode—iCarly meets I, Claudius

I, Claudius (which I discussed earlier) is a classic BBC historical drama from the Seventies, dealing with ancient Rome and the ambitions, schemes, and outright madness of those who ruled it, or sought to. 

And when wholesome teen internet celebrities meet depraved, insane Roman emperors, you get fun for the whole family!  Well, maybe not for the whole family . . .  I, Claudius does contain material that is unsuitable for children.  Indeed, I, Claudius contains material that is unsuitable for adults.

Still, I can't help thinking that an iCarly and I, Claudius cross-over would be a landmark television event just as powerful and crazy as Emperor Caligula himself.  And maybe if we're lucky Patrick Stewart would reprise his role as Sejanus.  Of course, on the downside, there is the reasonable chance that some of the iCarly characters would end up decapitated and/or crucified.


The pitch meeting with a Nickelodeon executive would run something like this:

Me: Okay, I have a great idea.  All that you need to do is to put iCarly back into production, then make an extended cross-over episode utilizing the characters from the BBC show I, Claudius.

Nickelodeon Executive: Hey what what??

Me: It's a can't-miss concept.  Take one of your popular comedies, and combine it with a 1976 TV show based on a 1934 book about the early days of the Roman Empire.  It's what today's tweens are clamoring for.  

Nickelodeon Executive: I don't see that working out on a lot of different levels.

Me:  It would be ground-breaking television.  It would win all kinds of awards.  It would get raves from both twelve-year-olds and classical scholars. Of course, on the downside, there is the reasonable chance that some of the iCarly characters would end up decapitated and/or crucified.

Nickelodeon Executive: Did you just say "and/or" in casual conversation?

Me: Yes.

Nickelodeon Executive:  I just don't think that it would fit with our demographic.

Me: You've got to do it.  The kids will love it!  It'll be awesome!  It won't just be awesome.  It'll be . . . it'll be . . . supercalifragilistic!!

[long, awkward silence]

Me: What?

Nickelodeon Executive: That's Disney.

Me: Oh . . . um . . . sorry.

Nickelodeon Executive: Get out.

Friday, September 12, 2014

People Whom I Have Known Part IV: Gubernatorial Aspirations


("Gubernatorial" is a funny word.)

It is time to return to my series about people whom I encountered in my past who have gone on to some level of fame.  (See Part I, Part II, and Part III.)  Today's entry concerns Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who challenged Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary for the New York gubernatorial race.  She lost in her primary bid, but still collected an impressive 34% of the vote.  

Zephyr was in the class two years ahead of me when I was in college.  I didn't know her all that well, but I did frequently see her working at her job in the dining hall; most of my memories of her involve her serving "meatless baked ziti", which was the staff of life in the college's meal system at the time. 

And it is impossible to forget someone named "Zephyr Teachout".  I imagine, though, that there is no possibility of her remembering me. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Has Slipped Away


Summer has slipped away again.  And I am writing about it again.  

At the end of November, I never feel like writing about how autumn has slipped away.  But summer exemplifies the two things that I hate most about being an adult.  One is that I don't get a summer vacation.  But the other, bigger thing is how fast time goes by.  When I was young, each summer lasted for an entire lifetime, a lifetime of heat and humidity and freedom and boredom and air conditioning and television.   Now it's May, and then there are a few weeks of warm weather, and then a few weeks of cool weather, and then it's January, and then a few weeks later it's May again.  Nothing seems to last.  It's like perpetually falling over a waterfall.  

But I can look on the bright side—since I've never managed to become famous, I don't have to worry about anyone nominating me to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mystery Goose Update



On July 20, I saw the Old Town mystery goose again.  This time it was slightly upriver, in the water at Oronoco Bay Park.  

I also discovered that the mystery goose is on YouTube, in a video from last August that shows the goose in the same place as my most recent sighting.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crash Bandicoot's Eponymous Ancestor


I am interested in cases in which organisms, and particularly extinct organisms, are given non-typical scientific names.  Mostly I concentrate on prehistoric animals named after rock stars (and I have a few of those still to blog about).  But today it came to my attention that paleontologists have named an extinct bandicoot from the Miocene of Australia after the video game character Crash Bandicoot, under the binomial Crash bandicoot—yes, that's right, genus Crash, species bandicoot.  (For the record, I have never played that game, as it came out at a point in my life when I had mostly stopped playing video games.)

What is really surprising to me is not that an extinct animal was named after a video game character, but that the name was used in an entirely unaltered form. Normally when scientists name a species after someone or something from pop culture, they make some effort to Latinize . . . or, um . . . Greekify the name.  For example, a pterosaur from China was recently named in honor of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but the name was rendered using Greek roots as Kryptodrakon

And thus we are left with the irony that Crash Bandicoot himself is not a Crash bandicoot, but (according to his Wikipedia page) an Eastern Barred Bandicoot (Perameles gunnii).

I will note that, if I wanted to, I could update the Crash Bandicoot Wikipedia page, which as of today does not reflect that a prehistoric species has been named after the character, but I just don't have the energy.