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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Things I learned working for a call center

Once upon a time I worked in a call center for a major cable company that shall remain unnamed out of fear of a crack squad of lawyers I'm sure they have at the ready unlike actual technicians. That job was a rather eye opening experience as it was the first time I directly dealt with customers. What is more I was dealing with customers from West Virginia even though I was in California because that was just how the system worked. Among the things I learned on that job the following are either the most prominent or humorous.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Not on the list

Here are a list of things that can end a heterosexual marriage:

  • Growing apart
  • Losing interest
  • Money issues
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Being possessive
  • Being jealous
  • Interference by family
  • Different opinions on child rearing
  • Religious differences
  • Sexual incompatibility
  • Not having time for each other
  • Inequity in household chores
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse
  • Putting career ahead of family
  • Being lazy
  • Hatred of the spouses siblings

Not on that list?

  • Another couple getting married who happen to be gay.

Any questions?

Monday, February 24, 2014

What if The Turner Diaries was a romantic comedy?

NBC has decided to roll out a mid season replacement shows following the conclusion of their coverage of the Olympic Winter Games. While one of the new shows, Growing Up Fisher, might not be bad (we'll see  how long the premise of a blind dad bringing up two kids can be stretched) the other show, About A Boy, is essentially about a self centered misogynist lying his way into women's beds and trying to warp the mind of a young boy (his neighbor) along the way.

And that got me thinking....what other fertile ground is there for a show?

There are already reality shows about just about everything anyone who lives in the country or New Jersey has ever done. And sitcoms about quirky people are a dime a dozen.

But....then I got to thinking about a giant neglected demographic: violently inclined white supremacists.

Mrs Turner's Diaries

Think of this show as a little bit of How I Met Your Mother meets Friends with lots of executions, massacres and general acts of terrorism during a long race war.

It starts in the year 2099 about a hundred years after the Great Revolution. In that year the grandchildren of Earl and Martha Turner find a series of diaries kept by their grandmother that details how they met, fell in love, tried their best to raise their children. Oh and this all happens while Earl fights as a terrorist against Jews and non-whites leading to a New Era in which an Aryan Republic reigns supreme.

The pilot episode chronicles how Martha first meets up with Earl in one of the detention camps run by the Jewish human rights groups after being arrested by roving gangs of black urban men. At first Earl is a bit crusty and aloof to the interest of Martha. They make a promise to possibly meet up after they are released.

After leaving the camp system Martha tries to make her way back to the ruins of her neighborhood while attempting to avoid the roving black gangs. Along the way she meets up with men from a group called The Order who promise to protect her in exchange for her assistance in making bombs. Martha agrees but all the while wonders where her wonderful Earl is. Did he get out of the awful Jewish camps too?

Martha completes her bomb and volunteers to be the one to put it in place as the target is near where her old school once resided before the Jews and black gangs burnt it down.

The only problem is that when she gets to her bombing location there is already a bomb set up there! Oh what to do? Martha decides to disarm the device as she knows not it provenance and replaces it with her own bomb. She places her bomb then retreats to wait for it to go off. But is met with only silence. She eventually makes her way back and finds her bomb is disarmed and the old bomb restored. Again she disarms the other bomb and is trying to hook hers back up when a voice booms through the darkness wanting to know what she is doing.


Earl is shocked to find her disarming his own bomb.

Yes, he is also part of the The Order but is in another cell. How funny it is for them to be actively disarming each other's devices!

Thus ends the pilot.

It is my belief that this kind of cutting edge television would appeal to the very select but largely money lacking demographic of paranoid delusional racists who like shallow love stories. Also they tend to not actually watch television. In conclusion this is probably the most terrible idea for a TV show ever conceived not counting About A Boy.

Yechh. Yeah I watched it last night and really hated it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snowball Earth, the mysterious mega ice age

Little rain falls in the Karoo. What little rain that does fall seems to barely get the dirt wet before the clouds break and the unrelenting sun returns to bake the red soils back to a dry, fine dust. The Orange river bisects this bleak land in the western regions of South Africa but its waters originate far in the east and the outflow of muddy water that it carries seems more a tease to the vast plains of sparse grass and thorny shrubs than anything else.

Long the roads seem to stretch here for there are no trees to block views. Yet this region of Africa brings in geologists and paleontologists from all over the world because the Karoo is one of the oldest contiguous chunks of continental granitic rocks on the planet. These large uniform bits of continents, called cratons, are the holy grail from which those scientists can piece together the happenings of ancient Earth. Here in the Karoo lay the largest fossil beds of synapsids; the strange mammal like reptiles who dominated land prior to the massive Permian extinction event wiping them out 250 million years ago. That event, known to paleontologists as The Great Dying, was the closest complex life ever came to being wiped off the planet with 99% of everything both on land and in the oceans dying in just a few thousand years. And the Karoo provided many of the key answers to understanding how it happened.

But our interest is in rocks older than the Permian ones. These rocks are from 700 million years ago and tell a story of an event that was even more devastating to the planet than the Permian extinction. And many orders more bizarre. An event that left Earth looking like a strange and alien planet for almost 60 million years. Something that those that study it can only describe as Snowball Earth.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cyanobacteria, the ancient algae that could

I did two seemingly unremarkable things today. I walked by a local algae covered pond and I breathed the air while doing so. But are those things so unremarkable? Perhaps not. In fact the very act of respiration that I performed while doing that walk is only possible because of the ancient ancestors of the algae that covered the pond.

Earth was not always as we know it now. Of course this is not news to anyone familiar with dinosaurs. But while giant animals roaming the landscape might seem like an Earth that is pretty different from what we know the very ancient Earth was a place we'd never even recognize.

Ancient Earth in the time of the Archean (2.5 - 4 billion years ago) was a planet so different from what we know now—with no life at all on land, green oceans instead of blue ones, a sky that would have been tinted red all day long and the Moon would have been much larger in the sky—that it would seem like an alien planet if you were able to time travel back to it. It'd also be deadly as the atmosphere itself would have quickly suffocated you.

It would have suffocated you because there would have been no oxygen available to breathe.

And why is it that there was no oxygen? How is it that the same planet once lacked one of the most important elements to our metabolism?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why is Michael Sam brave?

Since he was small child Michael Sam has been putting his hands in the dark dirt of Texas and the red clays of Missouri then exploding across the line of scrimmage tearing through opposing offensive lines and destroying their game plan with incredible defense plays born out of his inner tenacity and ferocity. Now he plans to destroy something else: bigotry, stereotypes and ostracism.

Michael is currently a student in the University of Missouri. He's been a star player on their football team earning co-defensive player of the year in the mighty SEC conference. He plans to enter the NFL draft this spring and be selected by a team to play as a pro. He also plans to do this while openly gay and would thus be the first player to do so in any of the major sporting leagues.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The first scenes in my TV Tropes film screenplay

Smoke wafts everywhere for no apparent reason. A CAT HOWLS. In the distance there are SIRENS blaring. Standing in the haze, obscured by chiaroscuro lighting is THE FEMME FATALE.

She is in a lace lined dress with a large, stylish hat and with eyes that glow out of the gloom. She looks down the alley where a figure is walking towards her.

Through the mist comes a man in a trench coat and awesome silhouette fedora, he is HARDBOILED DETECTIVE.