Saturday, April 14, 2012

Preface To Windows: Not That Kind You Know

You must resist the urge to equate the word "window" with a computer operating systems.

My favorite window memories are drawing on windows fogged by the cold when I was bored child. I also used to love slowly revealing the outdoors by rubbing the window fog away.

My family once lived at an apartment complex, the back end of which abutted the parking lot of a Lutheran Church. The parking lot, of course, was in church's rear. Some kids who went to school with me went to that church. Our apartment faced the church's parking lot, & my bedroom window looked out over the parking lot. Once in middle school, a girl who went to the church complained to me that her entire family could see, through my window, my sleeping body as they exited their car on Sunday mornings. I was surprisingly unself-conscious about this information, & don't remember changing my behavior. The window faced the east, & I loved being awakened by the rising sun. Now I feel a little flattered that something so innocuous caused church-goers to comment. It's not like I slept in the nude!

I have never been much of a voyeur, but I think that most people dream of seeing something surprising & revealing in a stranger's window. & maybe that's why most of us don't want people to stare into our windows. I would prefer blinds or curtains over every window. What do I have to hide? What do you have to hide?

A friend of a friend was in a Christian rock band in Dallas during my college years & I could never remember what they were called. They were called something like "House Without Walls," which is (of course) a reference to something in scripture. But during one visit to Dallas, I asked the friend whose friend was in the band, "Do you ever make music with him anymore, or does he still play in that Christian rock band - what are they called, World Without Windows?"

My friend corrected me but said, "I think yours is a better band name."

Friday, April 13, 2012


Are you afraid of Friday the 13th? You ought not be. But you should. From time immemorial, when we didn't have good records, to time memorial, which is what we also call now, when we have better records but people are instead saving music to their computers, humans all over the place have been afraid of Friday the 13th & that include many people's mothers.

Why would scared parents warn impressionable children of a day like any other which happened to be a Friday &, if the calendar is to be believed, also the 13th? Scholars & circus people alike have spent many hours poring through the annals of human thought (sometimes the two DVD set) overlooking the underpinnings of this nefarious date. Here's something similar to what they found:

- On Friday the 13th, people who otherwise can pronounce English words more or less correctly find certain vowel combinations difficult. "Dairy" becomes "diary." "Tier" becomes "tire." & some for strange reason "beet" becomes "beat."

- On a Friday the 13th when the moon is waxing gibbous, people who drive to work can't get the melody - but not the words - of "Frère Jacques" out of their heads.

- On a Friday the 13th in a Leap Year, any group of thirteen people - even if they don't know each other - must apologize profusely to passers-by or, if they're in an office, or a lobby, or an elevator - mutter undignified excuses to themselves, or else their children's children will be cursed with temporary ineffectualness on important national holidays.

There are terrifying stories about folks who chose to toy with their fates on Friday the 13th, & unfortunately none of them have survived to tell their tales. Here are some moderately accurate recreations:

- On Friday the 13th, 1891, a young man in Ohio refused to offer blandishments to a young maiden who was expecting them, & sixteen years later that young man was forced by President Theodore Roosevelt to put his head in a recently killed moose.

- On Friday the 13th some time in the last seven years, two children who have since stopped being children because of aging were struck by the inherent awfulness of cartoons in the 1980s & never spoke of it again.

- On Friday the 13th when it used to matter, a young minor league Baseball booster decided to cross the street under a ladder walking barefoot over a broken mirror & was accidentally side-swiped by a car owned but not driven by none other than Stevie Wonder's former bodyguard's niece.

How do psychologists treat those with an irrational fear of this day? It turns out it's the same way they treat those with rational fear of this day: with powerful chocolate-scented narcotics. Should you be one of those unfortunate souls without access to decidedly unethical analysts, there are some over-the-counter & over-the-top treatments recommended by those who ought to know better. Try at your own risk.

- Anything with lanolin smeared on any part of you that resembles a sheep.
- A red scarf draped over a blue hat billowing out of a yellow sportscar.
- Reading any three of Shakespeare's sonnets to a surly senior citizen.
- Standing uncomfortably in a hobby store asking uncomfortable questions.
- Calendar avoidance &/or "accidental" date rearranging.

Most of all, you should be entirely aware of the arbitrary nature of this day which happens to be a Friday coinciding with the thirteenth of the month (luckily, not all months have thirteen days). The ancient Eritreans, for example, found Tuesday the 3rd to be full of ill omens, especially if bills were due. Certain South American city-states used to plan no weddings, funerals, or ice cream socials on any Wednesday that fell on a 4th or 14th. & of course certain religious sects have cautioned against going against holy dicta on even-numbered months that fell in odd-numbered years, but you expect that sort of thing from them, don't you?

Hopefully the more information you know about the history of "Friday the 13th," the less you have an irrational fear of it! Have a happy 13th of Friday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Second-Person Shooter Adventures

The Development Officer has an idea. It finds its way to a post-it note. The post-it note does not exist in the physical world per se - it's a small program on the Development Officer's laptop. "That's all right," she thinks, "the idea does not exist in the physical world either."

"That's where you're wrong," says the Production Manager. She is facing quite an unhappy group of developers this morning. She doesn't have time for the Development Officer's half-baked, hare-brained ideas. She quickly fires off a memo to corporate. The memo also doesn't exist in the physical world per se - it's an ingenious application designed for the office's internal network by the Computer Guy.

The Computer Guy, whom everyone called "Jesse," took too many pills last night. He has a terrible habit of taking his friends' prescription medications if they happen to leave them at his place. Or if he happens to be at their place & finds some in their medicine cabinets. He used to take the time to look up the pills in a Big Book Of Pharmaceuticals, but now he just takes them, often in small handfuls, & waits to see how they affect him. One result is: he sometimes does not remember what he did for hours before the effects wear off.

He does not know, for example, that he hacked into his own system - he may have thought he was testing its security, although he obviously knew more about it than any intruder would - & sent out sensitive documents to everyone in the office as well as some who worked from home & others who were subscribed to his Doctor Who mailing list. But thanks to the pills he took around 11:30 pm the night before, he does not know it was he who breached security.

The Chief Financial Officer has spent the morning "putting out fires," as he puts it, so when he finds the Development Officer's idea, sent among a flurry of emails while angry workers storm in & out his office all morning long, he finds the timing so ludicrous that he believes she must have somehow been responsible for the late-night security problem.

The Chief Financial Officer orders Jesse the Computer Guy to surreptitiously search the Development Officer's computer under suspicion of the crime. He tells Jesse, "You know the stakes are high - if you can't find something, make sure you still find something." Jessie the Computer Guy is still a little too messed up to really understand what he's being asked to do.

In the small hallway outside the break room, the Production Manager, who has in the past believed that the Computer Guy has something of a thing for her, corners Jesse & asks about the investigation into the hacking. The Production Manager has not been included in the investigation by the Chief Financial Officer because many of the leaked documents show her in a favorable light toward the employees - defending popular projects, authorizing overtime, supporting (as Production Managers often do) her employees - & while the Chief Financial Officer does not exactly suspect her, he does not entirely trust her at this point in time.

Although the Production Manager is somewhat correct - the Computer Guy doesn't exactly have "something of a thing for her," he just enjoys looking at her breasts - she is not prepared for him to confess that he's been asked to do something unethical, if not illegal, to put the blame on the Development Officer. This gives the Production Manager an idea - & it's not one she commits to a post-it note that does not exist in the physical world.

Later, after the Production Manager has been promoted to Production Director, & the Chief Financial Officer has been suspended pending a criminal investigation, the Development Officer overhears Jesse the Computer Guy tell an intern, whose breasts he enjoys looking at, that it's not entirely true to say that things that are "on a computer," like mp3 files or text documents, "don't exist in the real world," as they are composed of physical things called "bytes," which, he points out, used to be kept on very tangible items like floppy discs, & which now need to be stored on a "hard drive" inside the computer.

The Development Officer suddenly suspect the Computer Guy of hacking his own system &, although she can't understand why he'd do such a thing - he didn't benefit in any way from the episode - she still tells her suspicions - in person - to the new Production Director & the interim Chief Financial Officer.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Come To My Church (Show)

Two things to be aware of about this show: first, I plan my shows some time in advance & I had no idea - really - that I'd be doing a show about church the day after Easter. It's a big coincidence. & second, I think I've only been in a church for church-like business (that is to say, not sight-seeing, as at Notre Dame or a place like that) (& by church-like business, I mean, sermons or weddings or whatever) maybe twenty times in my life (if that). Nothing about churches or the business of going to church is part of my make-up - & I know some people who love church & I know some people who hate having been forced to go to church as a child. I hope the show delights the former & does not terrify the latter. & I hope my ignorance of the subject doesn't detract from the songs I play.

Churches real, imaginary, & both are explored on today's show. You can listen to the show at the Self Help Radio website. If you'd like a direct link to the shows, they are in two parts & they are here: part one, part two. I've handily listed the songs in each part so you don't have to.

The nice thing about a Self Help Radio show about church is: you don't have to tithe!

(part one)

"Get Me To The Church On Time" Rosemary Clooney _Rosie Solves The Swingin' Riddle_
"Church In The Wildwood" The Carter Family _Prayers From Hell: White Gospel & Sinner's Blues 1927-1940_
"The Magnificent Church" The Gargoyles _Steamflapper_

"Let The Church Roll On" Morehouse College Quartet _Atlanta, Ga. Gospel 1923-1931_
"A Little Old Church In England (with Ray Eberle & the Modernaires)" Glenn Miller _The Gold Collection_
"I Met Her In Church" The Box Tops _Soul Deep: The Best Of The Box Tops_
"Methodist Church" The Girls _Reunion_
"Meet Me In Church" Bobby Marchan _Cameo Parkway 1957-1967_

"Church Not Made With Hands" The Waterboys _A Pagan Place_
"The Church Of John Coltrane" Saint Jude's Infirmary _Happy Healthy Lucky Month_

(part two)

"The Vatican Rag" Tom Lehrer _That Was The Year That Was_

"Make Your Church Crackle & Glow (Parsley Sound Mix)" Ronnie Willhoite _The Doorkeepers: A Church Leadership Development Program For Ushers_
"Church Of The Poison Mind" The Yell Leaders _Gag Me With A Spoon: Don't Records Celebrates The 1980s_
"Cleaning A Church" George Carlin _When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?_
"Date To Church" The Replacements _All For Nothing/Nothing For All_
"To The Church" Lloyd Cole _Lloyd Cole_

"The Church On The Corner" Sound Of Six _The Church On The Corner_
"They Tore The Old Country Church Down" Goodwin Trio _Hallelujah Hoedown_
"All Seven Deadly Sins Were Committed At A Church Bake Sale" Onion Radio News _Onion Radio News_
"Waiting At The Church" Julie Andrews _Don't Go Into The Lion's Cage Tonight_
"Church Bells Blues" Luke Jordan _Broke, Black & Blue, Vol. 1: Up Country Blues_
"Church, I'm Fully Saved Today" Blind Willie Johnson with Willie B. Harris _Dark Was The Night (1927-1930)_

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Whither Church?

It's entirely coincidental that Self Help Radio's show about church is happening after Easter Sunday.

Self Help Radio has never been to church.

This is somewhat remarkable, since Self Help Radio resides in Lexington, & Lexington is a city of churches.

This website counts 382 churches in Lexington. That's a church for every 700 or so people.

Don't try to find out which city has the most churches per capita in the world online. There are lots of competing answers. Plus quibbles about the question.

Though the city of Wheaton, Illinois, gets the honor, according to the game Trivial Pursuit.

Here's something I didn't know: Garland, Texas, which is my hometown, & has a population of around 220,000 people (60,000 less than Lexington), has apparently more than 500 churches.

That simply can't be true.

There might be more overt religiosity in Garland (& all of Texas) but I can't imagine there'd be so many churches.

I could be wrong, though.

Churches real & imaginary will be discussed & sang about tomorrow morning on Self Help Radio's show about churches. No tithing necessary! In Lexington (near any church) on 88.1 fm or online at WRFL dot fm. The audio stream is right here. The show will be archived later in the holy sanctuary at self help radio dot net.

As Mike Birbiglia said, "This week it's Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, then Fuckin' Monday."