Video Complete!

Amidst packing, 4th of July celebrations, saying goodbye to the city where I’ve lived for the past four years and all the people I’ve come to know in it, training a new employee, moving from couch to couch each night, and trying to enjoy the one sunny weekend in all of the spring/summer thus far, I have been hard at work.  But, at long last, my law school scholarship video is complete.  Please check it out:

Hopefully I’ll be a finalist in the running and calling on all of you fine people to vote for me, come August (Access Group, pick me!  I’m even blogging about you!).  Yippee!

The Weird

In my family, strange is the norm.  There’s something different about our brains that make us think words like ‘cookie’ are funny or that Balki Bartokomous’ dance of joy is awesome (yes, a sister and I have it memorized).  There’s something about my own subconscious that makes my dreams vivid and odd – like the one from last night, where I was with a group of people running around my home church trying to get away from a very slow-moving zombie who always seemed able to catch up.  Or there’s Uncle Pickle, who’s evidently gone AWOL as of this month – mail returned with no forwarding address, phone disconnected, pretty much an almost-missing person.  Shannon, if you’re reading this, don’t freak out.

So I suppose it comes as no surprise that I find myself in unusual circumstances often.  For example, I currently have no place to live.  My address, according to the USPS, is in Indianapolis, but I’m still working in Boston.  For now, I take my housing where I can get it.  Last night I was at my friend Jeff’s apartment.  He was out of town , so I was there alone with his roommate Erin, who I’d never met before.  Somewhere nearby there’s a psychic dog.  I know, because whenever I was about to fall asleep, he would bark.  Not for a long period – just one or two sharp staccato ‘roofs’ just as I was reaching unconsciousness.  If I wasn’t so tired, I would’ve been fascinated.  The roommate was nice though she may have thought I was a freak.  I swear I wasn’t scary – I just sat there alone in the living room all night, completely silent.  Erin, I was working on my law school scholarship video all night.  Really!  And I got quite a bit done, too.  So far it’s awesome, but since I think parts of it are funny, it may be a little weird.

The word itself however – weird – was not originally meant to have negative connotations.  it signified the unusual, the different, the unique and wonderful.  Before even adjective meanings, it was a noun and a verb.  It meant fate and power, the influence of the gods and the ability to read their intentions.  It was a word that implied magic, the supernatural, a force that causes things to spring into being.  So this whole predisposition may be to my benefit after all.

Why I should be in a comic strip.

There are times when life (my life, in particular) really is stranger than fiction.  Tonight was one of those times.

Stacey:  I wish I had a magic jelly bean that would take me anywhere I wanted to go.

Nick:  Wouldn’t you want more than one?  I mean, after you ate the first one, you wouldn’t be able to go anyplace anymore.

Stacey:  Why would I eat a magic bean?  That would just waste it.

Nick:  Oh wait, you mean you don’t activate them by eating?  Oh NO!  Where’s my stomach gone…[internal hemorrhaging].

The Salamander

The word ‘salamander’ today often brings to mind something slimy and wet with very little concern for its own limbs.  After all, it can regrow limbs and other body parts at need.  So an individual arm or leg or even liver would not have the same value to it as these irreplaceable parts do to us.  For quite some time, this ability has been under investigation by the medical community.  After all, what person whose lost a hand wouldn’t give the world to get it back?  There have even been studies (which I know of only from hearsay – I haven’t read the research myself) that the human body originally has this regrowth ability.  Children under the age of five have been known to regrow pinkies – at least those that are cut above the second knuckle.

It seems somewhat realistic then that current medicine hopes to encourage our own stem cells to regrow body parts at least partially today.  While I am a little hesitant to endorse anything named ‘pixie dust’ and made from pig products, it’s still an interesting idea.  I would like to be able to encourage my cells to grow wings so I can fly.  Or at least a useful third arm.

Pixie dust and extra limbs aside, there are other connotations for salamanders that have grown up from misconceptions about the animal that I find intriguing.  Salamanders are named to be fire creature, created from flame, animals that live in intense heat and have the ability to cool fires.  Modern science calls them amphibians, living at least part of their lives in the water, and suspects that the whole fire idea came from rotting logs put on the flames that sent the creatures who lived there skittering out.  According to modern science, they secrete a milky substance when in danger, which may have kept them from being baked crispy by the flames.  But is this really the truth behind their legend?

We may all disparage people in the past, but I find it hard to believe that even the Greeks were without basic concepts of fire building.  A damply rotting log does not burn well.  An amphibian doesn’t usually try to live in a drying-out piece of rot, where its food source has probably already died out.  Be that as it may, there’s a certain attraction regarding any animal said to be born of fire.  Other associations of the word regard soldiers and chaste women.  The soldiers are exemplified for exposing themselves to the heat of the most intense combat; the women, for remaining pure when surrounded by the fires of temptation.  There’s even a verb form in the OED – ‘to live amist fire, like the salamander’.  It reminds me of the proverb about ‘interesting times’ – to live, surrounded by rage and pain and all the other downfalls of society and peril, and still to be a green and glowing thing.  Whether born of fire or pond, the salamander is still a form of renewal and growth and life.

It’s one of them electric horses.

Someone remarked to me recently on the sad state of affairs of public performance, in particular, unicyclists.  And it’s true.  In my childhood, I looked on those juggling wonders as something special, but now they are simply ordinary.  It takes more – more skill, more pyrotechnics, more risk – to perk my interest.  In some ways that’s good, as it motivates performers to increasingly amazing feats.  On the other, I worry about my failing sense of wonder.  I wouldn’t want to lose it completely.

Technology often comes to the rescue, either with the ridiculous or the truly amazing.  The Uno is both.  Think: an electric machine you ride as if it were a motorized horse (leaning to direct or stop or speed up) or a motorcycle without controls (with your legs tuck back, rather than straight down in stirrups).  Think: a unicycle alignment of two wheels close together that balances itself through computerized controls. It makes me wonder what’s next.  The same technology for wheelchairs, getting our grannies back on the streets?  Desk chairs that whisk you through the office with a thought?  A new generation of Power Wheels?  The possibilities are endless and ridiculous, which is what makes them fun.

A Tribute to the Crazy Magician

While looking at the top of my Land-O-Lakes creamer in the break room, I was struck by the contrast of men and women in advertising, especially in the previous century.  Thinking of the various costumes svelte women have modeled to sell goods (Native American, mermaid, goddess, nymph, angel, etc.), I was struck even more forcefully by the opposing male trend – that magical or nefarious male with the devilish eyebrows.  True, such a persona may make sense for the selling of hot sauce or spices, and maybe even alcohol, but food or household products like pain killers and ovens?  And magicians selling themselves?  Really.  That’s uncalled for.

Let’s take a look.  First the women.

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I don’t know what this lady is supposed to be or what she’s selling, but it certainly catches the eye.   Especially with that classic bodice.

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The house maid.  Always a classy dame.

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Again, I don’t know what she’s supposed to be, but she catches the eye.  That’s the bicycle I I’ve always wanted.  Really.

Now the men:

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Again – oven I’ve always wanted.  That’s a HOT oven.

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Yum.  This guy’s scary clown-face and potential nefarious appearance make me really want to eat that totally ordinary-looking spaghetti.   I guess this was before they learned how to artisically make food look appatizing.

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Not sure what this guy is selling, but it definitely cures rheumatism.  It does so by setting your entire body on fire, but who cares?  The rheumatism isn’t bothering you anymore.

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And if I’m going in for vice, why not invite a scary green thing into my life?

And finally, the crazy magicians.

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This first guy looks pretty normal, so I won’t harp on him too much.   I mean he does have lightning fingers, so that’s pretty cool.  And oddly attractive…

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I really don’t know what’s going on with this guy.  Is the skull with the weird stuff coming out of its eyes supposed to be appealing, or somehow more ‘magical’?  So you talk to dead people, and the fairies.  Big deal.   I could do that too, if I didn’t have a real job.