margin-top: 28px; The Unlikely Times: 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012


We went out to see Cirque du Soleil show "Totem" today.  A spectacular bit of fun, very colorful, one amazing acrobatics act after another.  For each prop or apparatus, they start simple and get more and more daring, until the acts of dexterity reach levels that don't even seem humanly possible.  Some fine misdirection, some great visual gags.  Amusing (and non-scary) clown bits in between.  The trapeze act was breathtaking: like the rest, you think you've seen some playful trapeze work before but no, this goes over the top; risky, wild and playful.  They could take hula hoops or glowing balls or a couple of sticks and make an act you can't believe you're seeing.  Wonderful costumes and makeup.  The stage itself was like a character, with an endless stream of images beamed down onto it, sometimes perfectly in sync with the motions of the people on it, plus movable parts and all kinds of trapdoors and openings. 

There was a live band performing the music -- at least at the end of the show (I didn't see them in the first act, maybe they lowered the reed barrier for act two?).  I admire the simplicity of just paying to get a top-notch performance, as opposed to something like the olympics where some of the same skills require millions of $$ in endorsements, product placement, and other baloney, just to be nitpicked and eliminated in the end.  There were no losers here, just performance, and that overall sense of circus wonder and thrills that reminded me of being a kid.  No real story, just lots of cross-cultural, multilingual and culturally abstract color and life.

Monday, April 16, 2012


As an interesting example of synchronicity, try reading a book or magazine while the TV or radio is on in the background. I've found that about once per hour there is a near-perfect overlap of a word being read and a word being spoken on the TV/radio. Just now I was cataloging stamps from German East Africa, and was writing "German" on an envelope just as the news said something about the German Chancellor, the word German being spoken at the same time. I've had it happen while reading Sherlock Holmes tales and a commercial for Seinfeld comes on. Or I'm reading a Dune novel and my wife is on the phone talking about gardening. You never know what will mesh together.

These moments are really striking. Oddly jarring from a state of dullness to a state of awareness, and sometimes even worth a chuckle. It should be completely expected, but we can never guess WHEN it will happen. So it feels weird.

I suppose we could increase the likelihood of a hit by reading and listening to things on the same topic. If I was reading about tornados and listening to some Weather Channel report from Iowa (no doubt with Jim Cantore on the line), I would expect to hear a lot more overlaps ... but I'm not sure it actually works that way?

Back in college we'd sometimes get bored and play a game where we pick up wildly different books and take turns reading lines. Guy might read a line from Shakespeare then I'd have to quickly find a reasonable follow-up line from H.P. Lovecraft, followed by Bill finding some segue into a biology text. Usually just silly, but I remember some very strange times where we'd find almost the same exact words on whatever pages we happened to be looking at.

Which reminds me: there was some hype a few years back about the "Bible code". How a guy wrote a program to line up letters in the Bible and look for hidden messages up, down, diagonal, or in any pattern. Especially if you vary the length of the lines of text, and quibble over translations, or pick any edition that suits you, you've produced an endless source of essentially random letters. I once started a program to see if I could get the same effect using Moby Dick, but found it unbelievably tedious. The funny thing is, I watched that "Bible Code" show again (on the so-called History Channel, I think), and even with all that fudging the program was only producing the most inane fragments, which had to be augmented and "interpreted" by the author, often allowing for misspellings to make it work.

It all shows nothing more than if there are enough things happening side-by-side, or enough searching through noise, there will eventually be something that looks like a signal, but is just a playful bit of nothing at all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mother Goose is Dead?

Most recent anthology with one of my stories in it ...

Mother Goose is Dead

I'm afraid I forgot about it in the shuffle, just got mine today. Always a fun theme to play with!