Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ultimate pickup line: "Yeah, I write poetry..."

There was a time long before these days,
when poetry was all the craze!
Just where it all started still remains a mystery,
but many ancient societies maintained an oral history.

The oldest surviving poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh,
which is about a king who lived, breathed and had flesh.
Poetry was born long before reading or writing,
and has recorded epic battles and much fighting!

The Hebrews used poetry to preserve their law,
and Moses used it to record all he saw.
The Old Testament has plenty of Proverbs and Pslams,
and even instructions for making sacrifices for Alms.
Later, Shakespear would be rich enough to afford a bath a day,
and would marry an older woman named Anne Hatheway.
Robert Greene, his rival, would start to jealously resent,
but not the Robert Greene who collaborated with 50 cent!

Europeans had their sonnets;
the Japanese made their haiku.
The Irish specialized in limerick
and the French even have rondeau!
Free verse,
can be dynamic!
Or your pentameter
can be iambic!

There's poetry to make you cry;
there's poetry to make you laugh.
There's poetry for when you die!
It's called an epitaph!

Poetry would continue to evolve every day,
until there was no emotion it couldn't convey.
Pretty soon it reached its prime,

Aaron's Thoughts:
When it comes to poetry I'm a fan.
Some say at writing it I'm the man!
But one thing I can't understand
is why the airwaves of poetry are polluted
with messages so esoteric and convuluted.

Daniel's Thoughts:
art, language
capturing, transmitting, evoking
I used to write.

The Bottom Line:
If you're a believer or you're a skeptic,
The history of poetry is quite epic!
Just don't let your attitude be septic!
Perhaps you should write some, if you dare!
But in the end, you had to be there!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Probably the second most popular thing ever to come out of Seattle

This week we'll be looking at dirt, grime, something repugnant and unpleasant. Grungy, if you will.

That's right, this week we're talking about grunge. It's not the stuff you get under your fingernails when you're working on cars. It's not the stuff that develops around the bottom of your bathtub. It's not a flesh-eating bacteria. It's the music, man.

The grunge movement started in Seattle in the late 80s. For a while a bunch of local bands practiced a style of music that features a lazy vocal delivery, sludgy guitar sound with lots of distortion, and downbeat, angst filled lyrics in their garages and in local venues.

A few of the factors that led to the development of grunge were the weather and the area's isolation from the national music scene. The rainy weather that Seattle is known for led to a less than cheery sound to the music. Just think about how you feel when it rains at your house for days on end. The isolation of the area is a big part of what led to such a consistent sound for bands coming out of the area at the time.

These bands often had no real aspirations for mainstream success, but that's eventually what grunge found starting with acts like Pearl Jam , Soundgarden , and Nirvana . Pearl Jam was the first grunge band to sign with a major record, but Nirvana jump started the grunge movement with their album Nevermind.

The grunge was more than just music though, it was a whole culture. The grunge look featured men and women both wearing flannel, work boots, and other outdoor clothing. Ripped jeans were also a staple for grungers. The look was very unkempt and was inspired by what performers wore onstage.

Aaron's thoughts: The truth is, I never was a fan of anything considered grunge. I take a shower everyday, I don't like holes in my clothes, and I never really liked Nirvana. But I can at least appreciate it some for the impact it has had on Rock music.

Daniel's thoughts: I remember when I was very young my best friend's older brother was really in to this music and the whole grunge look. This naturally trickled down to the younger siblings and so I dressed semi-grungy just to fit in. We would have a flannel button-up (that wasn't buttoned) and a t-shirt. I didn't have any kinda boots or ripped up jeans. I guess I was grunge-lite! As far as the music goes, I was a fan of Nirvana for about 5 minutes. It's just hard for me to appreciate a song I can't understand!

The Bottom Line: Grunge began as a rejection of commercialism, so the fact that it caught on and was marketed is pretty ironic. The music often features lyrics abut dissatisfaction or unhappiness. And if you're not unhappy with grunge, then I guess you had to be there!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Philosophizing: More than just a fun word to say

Philosophy has been a part of every civilization, but it became a huge part of society starting in Greece in 585 B.C with Thales of Miletus. For the next several hundred years, thinkers and schools of thought would pop up every now and then. But then Socrates came and made philosophy a huge part of the culture. The word means "love of knowledge, wisdom," and comes from the Greek words philo- "loving" + sophia "knowledge, wisdom"

Socrates got started on a quest for truth after he visited an oracle who said he was the wisest man in Athens. Socrates realized how ignorant he was and couldn't believe he could be the wisest. So he went about questioning every authority during the day to prove the oracle wrong! Maybe instead of wise, she just meant smart? As in smart aleck?

These authorities eventually got fed up and put Socrates on trial, and this would eventually lead to his death. He was put on trial for corrupting the youth.

Socrates corrupted the youth like violent media was said to have been corrupting the youth in the late 90's and the early part of this decade. Or an even better comparison would be Socrates corrupted the youth like Rock N Roll corrupted the youth. Back in those days, philosophers were like rock stars, and Socrates was like Elvis . Not too long after he came onto the scene, other philosophers and other schools started popping up like fast food restaurants. Thanks Elvis!

In fact, if philosophizing were as big a part of society now as it was back then, you would probably see people competing on reality shows to become the next great philosopher. Instead of singing to become the next American Idol, people would probably be thinking. But eating disgusting things, like on Fear Factor is far more entertaining!

Aaron's Thoughts: If a blog is written and no one is there to read it, is it still a blog? Personally, I wouldn't mind it if more people thought things through nowadays. And I think two seeing two philosophers pound each other on TV because their theories conflicted would be even better than boxing!

Daniel's Thoughts: I think, therefore I am! I would love to see a return to smart people being rock stars! Perhaps the last great rock star of our age was Albert Einstein. Or maybe Tom! He did make myspace, afterall!

Bottom Line: Like it or not, stupid is the new knowledge! To which we say, "That's hot!" We, as a society, idolize idiots! How else do you explain the vast array of news paper tabloids that assault us when we walk down the aisles of a grocery store? Stupid is probably here to stay, so if you wanted smart, I guess you had to be there!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What do Yoda, George Foreman, and 13 Year-Old Girls Have in Common?

The answer...drum roll...nothing! Sorry to disappoint but this post has nothing to do with The Force, slanted grilling machines, or puberty. Instead, I want to talk about something far more interesting: 1996! In 1996, Bandai released the first versions of Tamagotchi's! Around the world, 13 year-old girls flooded the stores and bought their newest companions! Check out Kendra's page for more info! The name comes from a combination of the Japanese word "tamago" which means "egg" and the English word "watch" as in a wristwatch or a clock. The "i" at the end was thrown in for fun! Thus, Tamago+tch+i = no more need for a real animal! Instead of long walks, teaching tricks, buying real food, and picking up real poop you can now just press a few buttons and accomplish just as much! Plus, if your digital pet dies, the stakes are much lower!

Between 1996 and 2009, over 44 different versions have been released. Some of them even fight when you get them close. These were called "Nano Fighters" and were targeted at boys. They were first premiered at a knockout event, featuring former heavyweight champion George Foreman!! Talk about exciting!

Eventually, as most things do, the Digital Pets began to 'cross breed' with other franchises. Before you knew it, there was a Salem the Cat (from Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) giga pet, Looney Tunes, Giga Farm, and various Star Wars characters, among others. There was even one of Yoda!
Although it would seem likely that this fad would die off quickly, that is not the case! In fact, there was a Tamagotchi videogame released for the Wii in May, 2007! Woo-hoo, Party On!

Aaron's Thoughts: Hmm, I'm thinking we haven't fully tapped into the potential of Tamagotchis. Maybe we could use them to teach people how to take care of animals. But why stop there? We could also give them to service dogs to teach them how to take care of people. Yeah, that sounds practical to me.

Daniel's Thoughts: I distinctly remember not really getting what the hype was about for this one. I also distinctly remember throwing my sisters Tamagotchi on the roof so it would starve to death! Mwah hah hah haaaaa!!!

Bottom Line: You know, come to think of it, perhaps Yoda, George Foreman, and 13 year-old girls do have something in common... Whether you prefer having a real pet or a digital pet, you can agree that Yoda should never be caged like that! Of course, in 2009 it's easy for us to look back and say, Guess you had to be there!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"We are family! All my brothers, sisters and me!!"

During ancient times, the favorite form of governemnt was Monarchy! In fact, it was so prized that many royal families took radical moves to keep the royal family on the throne. Usually, that included marrying cousins and, sometimes, even siblings! This method will be referred to as "royal incest."

Royal incest was practiced for a number of other reasons. One of the reasons was hypergamy. This is the tendency of women to marry men who are of a higher social status than they are. In the case of royal families, women couldn't move up the social ladder any, so they married their brothers. Though it really seems like more of a lateral move, I'm sure mom and dad were proud. Of both kids! "I don't think of it as losing a daughter..."

Another one of the big reasons was trying to preserve royal blood. Instead of marrying an outsider and diminishing the purity of the royal blood, the ruling class in places like ancient Egypt would instead marry their brother or sister. This also helped the royal family maintain strict control of power. In ancient Egypt, "The principal wives of Kings were almost always of royal blood and were often either the full or half sister of the king. These incestuous marriages, which we find few if any examples of in the general population, had several practical benefits to the crown ruler." Hawaiian chiefs would sometimes attempt to marry as close a blood relative as possible! This method was dubbed Hawaiian royal incest. Of course, lets not be too hard on the Hawaiians. They did, afterall, create the game of POGs, but that's a whole different post!

One royal family, the The House of Habsburg, ruled accross Europe for hundreds of years and actual married so close within their own gene pool for so long that the final descendant of this line was unable to produce children because of all the genetic problems he suffered. Sadly, their legacy now is having a deformity named after them. The Hapsburg lip, "an overdeveloped, thick lower lip, which often accompanies the Hapsburg jaw (a jaw that projects forward). This kind of lip was characteristic of many members of the royal German-Austrian family that produced several European rulers between 1278 and 1918."

In a world where royalty were so far removed from the lower classes, it can be easy to understand a strong desire to maintain power and keep the family on the throne. It kinda makes sense, but I imagine it was definitely one of those ideas that looked a lot better on paper. Then again, the family tree below doesn't look too impressive...

Aaron's thoughts: I can't imagine ever getting behind the idea of marrying a family member. In my years here on this planet, I have come to learn there are some places where guys should just never hit on girls. Like gyms, churches, and funeral homes. But chief among those places should be family reunions!

Daniel's thoughts: I love my sister...but not that much. Nuff said! As far a gene pools go, I think it's good to marry very, very, very, very far from your immediate family. At least second cousins, come on!

The Bottom Line: I doubt even Mel Brooks would say "It's good to be the king!" if the queen was your sister! The ideas behind royal incest seem reprehensible, dumb, and gross now. But I can remember looking back on some dumb things I've done and saying "It made sense at the time!"

But for this idea to ever make sense, I guess you had to be there!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gotta love those Putative Orthologous Groups!!

Orthologs and Paralogs are two types of homologous sequences. The Putative Orthologous Groups, also known as POGs, are the...wait a minute...are we talking about gene sequences this week?!! Those were never trendy!

My apologies, I misread my notes! This week we're actually talking about POGs as in stack the caps, whack the stack, score and restack! Legend has it that this game first became popular in Hawaii during the 1920's. A brand of juice made from passionfruit, orange, and guava (with the initials spelling out POG) came packaged in glass bottles with a round, cardboard lid that was used to play this game when it first started. Or so the story goes!

Truth is, the POG tropical juice drink didn't exist until 1971 and this urban legend was started by a publicity marketer for the POG company.
Either way, during the 1990's, the whole country had a case of "Milkcap Mania" and the game that started out using plain looking, boring cardboard caps soon had playing pieces as diverse and plentiful as the ways to prepare shrimp Bubba was talking about in Forest Gump! Thousands of POGs were developed using pictures of celebrities, movies, TV shows, and comic books. Some were even holographic! And before you knew it, ridiculous commericals like these were made!

The trend started when a Hawaiian school teacher used bottle caps as a fun way to teach her school children math. Ironically, POGs were eventually banned from schools because they were considered gambling, distracted kids during school hours, and caused playground arguments, but they still have use today! During Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Army Air Force Exhange Service, more commonly reffered to as AAFES, starting issuing POGs instead of actual money, because the lightweight cardboard was cheaper to ship to the warzone than change!
Aaron's Thoughts: I was always more into collecting POGs than playing. My favorite ones were these holographic ones that would show a very normal situation like a man cutting up fruit with a knife or a kid's face with acne. Then you would move it slightly, and the image would change to the man with the knife cutting off his finger and the kid popping his zits full of green pus at you. Brilliant!

Daniel's Thoughts: I remember collecting the Apollo 11 Pogs from Hardees! I had 23/24 dad gum it! My favorite pogs were actually the slug ones. They showed slugs getting killed in all manner of creative and inventive ways! The one thing I'll never forget about POGs is the time I competed in a POG tournament!

It was at the Knoxville Center, during the hot, humid summer. We went to the mall to compete against the greatest POG champions East Tennessee had to offer. We were running a little late, so I was the last kid to sign up. I don't remember all the rules, but I do remember that each kid had two turns. We cycled through and sure enough I lost my first turn! It wasn't looking good for me! After about an hour, the kids cycled through again. I remember seeing kids who would beat 20 people in a row. But alas, because I had been the last to sign up, I was up for my second turn last. That meant that suddenly the championship was only one match away!

I flipped my slammer so we could figure out who went first. He called heads and sure enough...heads! It wasn't looking good at all! He went first and, thankfully, flipped less than half the stack over. It was my turn! The entire mall, perhaps the entire universe, went silent. It was my time to show the world what I was made of. Although I had been playing with the same slammer for a long time, on a hunch I swapped at slammers at the last minute. I grabbed a clear, plastic one. It had a nice heavy feel in my hand. I wiped the sweat off my brown and gave that slam my everything! I was afraid to watch as the stack was hit by the slammer. Slowly...slowly...the stack flew up a few inches and began to descend back to the ground. But as it did, the entire stack flipped! I won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A three foot trophy, $500 in mall gift certificates, and a lifetime of fame and glory were mine!

The Bottom Line: As far as trends, POGs were slamin'! (You know, because of the slammers used to play). You may have banned them from our schools, but you can never ban them from our hearts! Even though it was fun while it lasted, I don't think POGs will make a comeback anytime soon. If this doesn't make sense to you, then I guess you had to be there!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Powdered Wigs

We’ve all seen them at some point in time. They’re part of American history—part of the American heritage! Actually, they’re a bigger deal than just that: They’re a part of history for all Western Society!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look no further than a one, two, ten, or hundred dollar bill. I’m not talking about Presidents, Pilgrims, or the Founding Fathers! I’m talkin’ about the wigs they wore! That’s right, big, white, curly, and glorious powdered wigs! If you STILL don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the English gentlemen in Pirates of the Caribbean. You don’t seriously think they really had hair THAT amazing, do you?

Although the Fore Fathers had it going on, wigs started in ancient civilizations. Mostly the Egyptians are to blame; they wore them to protect their bald heads from the sun. Although wigs had a practical start, they gradually became fashionable. By the 17th century, they had ‘evolved’ into what we now know as powdered wigs. Sometimes they were tights curls, like on the dollar bills, and sometimes they were long, flowing locks of curls like the picture to the right.

These wigs were worn by both men, women, and children for formal occasions. As time passed, the need for such formal dress diminished, and so did the popularity of these wigs until they faded out of usage completely.

From Wikipedia: “Later, wigs or the natural hair were worn long, brushed back from the forehead and clubbed or tied back at the nape of the neck with a black ribbon.” It’s quite possible that if you follow this hair fashion to it’s full manifestation you will arrive at the mullet!!

Daniel’s thoughts: I have to admit that I probably would’ve been born poor and had wig envy all my life! If I were lucky enough to be of noble blood, my wig would’ve been a point of pride and I probably would’ve rocked the ones with the super long and curly locks!

Aaron’s thoughts: Am I the only one who's wondering why these ever went out in the first place? If we're lucky they'll come back into style. Heck, why wait? If we work together we can get this thing off the ground! Tell everyone you know, the powdered wigs are making a comeback!

I'll probably go for a wavy one that would go down to my neck.

The bottom line: No matter where you stand on this issue, powdered wigs were worn by men, women, and children and offered something for the whole family. You can deny it all you want, but ultimately, I guess you had to be there!