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Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Win Again

I finally finished my first xtranormal movie. Once I had a script, it only took me about an hour. They have a pretty brilliant interface or template or whatever the hell they call all the dingleknobs that allow you to make stuff. Oddly enough, among the many platoons of characters to choose from, there are none approximating a mother and son. Couldn't even find an old lady.

You also have to type a lot of phonetic misspellings, especially names like "Obamma" and "Paylin." And it has trouble with contractions and some pacing, but in a way, the vocal weirdness adds to the humor. Thanks, internet!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Freebooters Galore

Look! Page 2 is even better than page 1. It runneth over with improbable delights.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Joy Ahoy

Fun times ahead, as Edward Bolman, creator of Noble Head Funnies and many other amusements from mini to epic, draws one of my stories into comic form. Page one already complete!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wintry Poetics

Wrote this yesterday, because snow has that effect on some people.


The fly in the window stumbles downpane,
snowblind on the glass map
of the white world.

Two neighbor dogs snozzle and puff,
jamming their noses down again
to the novel powder.

The living squint and the dead lie still,
both with bones in common,
just a blanket apart.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Search engine jokes

To check some facts for an essay about Oprah, I typed "Oprah is moving" into Google. After typing the first two words, I got the following funny list.

oprah is gay
oprah is a racist
oprah is dead
oprah is an idiot
oprah is the antichrist
oprah is on what channel
oprah is the devil
oprah is fake

There you have it. Instant zeitgeist.

The only one I pursued was "oprah is dead," which led to a funny video.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Colony Collapse Disorder?

I hereby record my own chapter in the creeping ecological collapse of our humble biosphere.

In 2009, I witnessed the founding of a honeybee colony high in the brick wall of one of the buildings I supervise at work. They had a little ribbon-cutting ceremony and everything. Actually, I just saw them coming and going through a little hole under some wooden fascia, and their numbers were on the rise.

The entrance to their hive was a few feet from a walkover I use regularly to reach rooftop furnaces, investigate roof leaks, etc. At first I worried that the bees would attack me or some repairman and cause a fall to the death, but soon they were confirmed to be reasonable bees with minimal aggression. Still, they were setting up shop in the wall of an office complex. I let it slide for a while, but the more I learned, I found reasons to worry. A lot of honey inside a wall can draw roaches or other pests, and there was always the chance that someone allergic to bee stings would be stung and I would be found negligent.

Eventually, the problem came when the bees started scouting for new territory INSIDE the building. They didn't sting anyone, but they died by the hundreds in some light fixtures and windows. People started asking about the bees. I thought about just blasting their wall with poison, but I didn't want to kill them, especially with all the news about dwindling bee populations. I asked one day at the Nature Center—it turned out they had a list of local beekeepers.

After a few dead ends on the phone, I met a beekeeper who decided to set a box hive atop the wall. We lifted the concrete cap off the wall and set the hive. There were thick honeycombs right underneath. Bruce, the bee man, said the queen would prefer to move upward, so she should move into his portable hive, given time.

Many bees expanded into the box in just a couple of days. I caulked in the old holes in the wall where the bees originally entered, to encourage full use of the new bee condo. Traffic into the new home seemed to constantly increase.

Every month or so, Bruce came to check, but he could never nab the queen, which was essential.
For several weeks, I updated a few of the nearby tenants on our endeavor. But Bruce ran out of steam, I think. By early fall, I hadn't seen him in a while, and noticed one day that the bee traffic was down (which it always was when temperatures dropped; 45 F was the bottom threshold for bee activity). Way down. A few bees still poked around the wall beneath the box, but none used the round drill-hole that was the main door. I'd lately found a roof leak originating from the hive as well, so I was ready to get closure. It was a cool day, so I just lifted the hive lid.

It was full, not of honeycomb or bees, but of black, webby crud with a sort of rotten grain smell. Total lack of bees. I picked up the whole hive, a stack of four interlocked boxes with wood slats inside. Only buggy rot. Survivors still came and went into the wall; an angry drone or two swooped around me.

Soon after, I reset the concrete wall cap and mortared it into place. There were still a few bees staying on task, so I set two little lengths of tubing into the mortar to allow entry.

Here you can see a couple of bees, one with fat pollen sacks hanging on her back legs.
At last check, a few bees still persist here, so I assume the queen still lives, but the overall colony seems weaker than ever.