Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
February 29, 2016
What’s with the pre-tied bow ties, Hollywood?
Category: Current Events … Miscellany

So I didn't watch the Oscars last night because I could care less about rich people patting themselves on the back (if you get paid gobs of money for a job you profess to love, I feel like that's your award and you should neither expect nor require further recognition), but during the few bits I saw in passing I was surprised that many/most of the men who appeared were wearing pre-tied bow ties. What gives? I can understand someone who doesn't often attend flashy galas not knowing how to tie a bow tie, but it seems like a skill A-list actors should possess.

Actually, I'm a little miffed that when I bought my tuxedo -- which wasn't cheap, especially for me -- the salesman sold me a pre-tied bow tie with it. I'm certain he asked me whether I knew how to tie a bow tie and gave me the pre-tied version when I answered in the negative, but here's how that exchange should have gone.

Salesman: Do you know how to tie a bow tie?
Me: I don't.
Salesman: Do you know how to tie shoelaces?
Me: Of course!
Salesman: Same principle! Here's your self-tie bow tie.

Done. Granted, tying a bow tie is *slightly* more difficult than tying shoelaces, but only because most of us have been tying our shoes since we were toddlers and don't tackle bow ties until much later. (Also, the diagrams that detail the steps aren't entirely helpful in that the most important step is actually hidden from the front view.) With a little practice, tying a bow tie is no trouble at all. It's even kinda fun.

-posted by Wes | 9:33 pm | Comments (0)
March 1, 2015
I know I’ve been away a while…
Category: Miscellany … Technical Stuff

...but long enough to have accumulated 1900 spam comments?! JC on a pogo stick.

Anyway, I wanted to post briefly about writing and common phrases/expressions. I was reading a story by a member of a writing group I recently joined, and she wrote that the character's knuckles had turned white from performing a particular repetitive action. And of course I knew what she meant, and the phrasing wouldn't at all have given me pause if I hadn't been in a mood to ponder such things (which I generally am when I'm reading a piece in order to critique it) -- and I got to wondering about "clichés" and how we can (sometimes) end up confusing the reader when we make an effort to avoid them. For instance, I knew what the author of this story was talking about because the expression is common enough. But I could step up to bat thirty thousand times and endure sixteen million close calls on the freeway and strangle a billion fat-necked babies and my knuckles wouldn't even remotely whiten unless my skin were really dry and I needed to put on some lotion. So if the author had tried to describe the character's knuckles becoming white in some novel, creative way -- without using the well worn phrase -- I might not have had any idea what she meant. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 11:24 pm | Comments (0)
February 27, 2015
RIP, Spock.
Category: Current Events … Serious

So the geeky interwebs are blowing up over the death of Leonard Nimoy. Sure, it's a sad thing -- all deaths are sad, I guess -- but I often feel like people shouldn't be so affected? I mean, yeah, people enjoyed and have been fans of Star Trek for decades, but it's not as if most fans knew Nimoy personally. And I get that fans really, really enjoyed his performance(s) as Spock over the years... but I don't think that comes close to matching the value of even minimal interpersonal contact. I love me some Lena Headey, but if/when she dies I will probably only manage to shed a single tear in mourning.

I remember how my sister shed a torrent of tears for Michael Jackson when he passed and I honestly found it annoying; I know for a fact she won't be the least bit sad (she might even crack a smile) when I finally kick the bucket. And yet, whatever my failings as a brother (and I'd passionately argue that her failings as a sister are far, far worse), I should be far more important to her than some pop singer who never even knew her name. (And, if we're talking about proximity, I got closer to Michael Jackson when we lived in Germany than any of my family members. Considering that I was a child at the time -- and considering what we later learned about Michael Jackson -- it's actually a little creepy.)

That said -- RIP, Spock. You lived long and prospered.

-posted by Wes | 8:08 pm | Comments (0)
August 1, 2014
Misapprehension
Category: Miscellany

So today at work, during a lunch break of sorts, I was chatting with this woman from corporate. The conversation was pretty one-sided, but I got her talking about her life and professional history and whatnot -- she went on for several minutes about how she'd lived in Korea and Brazil before coming to the United States. Then she stopped ... and, after a meaningful pause, she smiled and said, "I like you, Wes." (more...)

-posted by Wes | 12:06 am | Comments (1)
May 28, 2014
The Isla Vista road not taken
Category: Current Events … Serious

So in addition to reading parts of Elliot Rodger's "manifesto," I've watched a handful of his YouTube videos and read a bunch of articles and editorials on the dude's background and the tragic events of last Friday (Mashable has a really thorough piece that includes a detailed look at Rodger's personality, a timeline of events, and numerous video links and manifesto excerpts)... and I can't help wishing that I'd had the opportunity to talk to him before he did what he did. Granted, it probably wouldn't have made a difference -- he probably would've called me weak (and stabbed me to death if I'd been one of his roommates) and, for my part, I probably would've found him weird and creepy as heck -- but still.

Someone needed to tell Rodger that not having a girlfriend doesn't diminish a guy's worth as a man or as a human being. Someone needed to tell him that everyone has problems, and that those dudes walking around with beautiful blond girls on their arms didn't necessarily have "better" lives than his because of that fact. Someone really needed to tell him that, at any age, there are way worse things than being a virgin (like being a murderer). Those ideas might seem obvious to many of us, but -- despite Rodger's apparent belief in the superiority of his own intellect -- they clearly failed to take root in his mind. Unfortunately, that's not terribly surprising: while those ideas might seem obvious to many of us, they're not terribly well represented in public discourse and popular media, either.

-posted by Wes | 1:49 am | Comments (0)
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