Thursday, August 04, 2005

It really DOES hold the world together, Part II

Fifteen points and a Tootsie Pop to anyone who can identify the aerospace engineer's version of Turn It Off and Turn It Back On Again in Figure 1 below:

Yes, here we have the four major stars of Discovery's mission: A woman, her crew, and their duct tape. As earlier discussed, duct tape is the balm of choice within the aviation industry, with great wads of it addressing such ills as falling-off landing gear and coming up short a few chicken entrees in coach. Duct tape is also highly decorative, as seen in this image of a makeshift hacksaw spacewalker Steve Robinson was to use yesterday if the filler material he planned to remove from Discovery's underbelly proved bratty:

I presented this picture to my students as a magnificent manifestation of teamwork, and American ingenuity, and the triumph of duct tape over the eternal span of time and space, and all, but... seriously. This looks like something I would do if somebody left me alone too long with the Christmas gift wrap and a taco shell.

Allow me to further applaud the aesthetic sensibilities of whichever crewmember who took this picture, as he clearly felt that in order to capture the purest essence of Excalibur here, he needed to do so within the context of Discovery's toilet. I suspect MTV will replace their Buzz Aldrin-on-the-Moon icon with this. Less aurora borealis from orbit as the sun slices over the horizion! More hacksaws silhouetted against astro-loos!

It was quite the extravehicular moment. Through NASA TV I heard most of the chatter between the crew and Houston, in which controllers issued such vital commands to Robinson as yelling at him to keep his big fat arms down because he was spoiling their pretty view from his helmet cam. Crack your head against the tiles, that's fine. Just don't ruin the sight of Liechtenstein and all its many wonders spinning towards us below. For my part, I assisted the repair by running around my apartment in small circles while flapping my hands around.

Because I am pathetic, I cried through the whole thing, and then I went to class, and one of the students asked me how mass is measured in space, and I had no idea, so I cried again, and gave him an F.

ladies and gentlemen, the ASTRO-LOOS!! at:

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tipped Over

This weekend I partook of the eightiest eighties movie that ever eightied, Tron, which has aged to quite possibly the most accidentally hilarious movie ever made. It already had a good start with such solemn dialogue as “They haven’t yet made the circuit that can hold you,” but these days, large floating Arc d’Triomphes are not quite as terrifying as the director may have originally intended.

Tron received bonus points on its way up My Bigol Crap List for causing the following:

(What truly horrifies me about this--and there is much to be horrified by here--is that this guy is in a hotel room. Look at the door latch and the You're Going To Die Anyway fire exit directions tacked up to the side. This means that either 1) he walked out that door and wore this in public, in front of people or 2) he wore this to an extramarital affair. I wish to contemplate neither option.)

The many horrors of Tron was somewhat mitigated by Sideways, which was consumed with Flipper and the long-lost G-Force and Oogie. We have not seen each other as of late, largely because when we do things like this tend to occur,

and we are congnizent of our responsibility to the universe to deflect the gaping maws in the time-space continuum that our combined preseneces tend to create.

Alas, the avoidance of social disaster was… unavoidable. We watched Sideways. We not only watched Sideways, we did so while actually swirling wine (it was Australian, which meant we had to swirl counter-clockwise) and saying such things as “It’s very full-bodied. I sense a lavender essence; perhaps the ambient temperature was low at the harvest.” It was absolutely the most pretentious thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve attended a poetry reading in a renovated carriage house. We were disgusting and I hated us.

I am in no danger of such behavior while in the company of Josh the Pilot, who not only enjoys vintages from last week, he does so from the font of a cardboard box. And when the box gets low, he removes the plastic lining and continues to enjoy. I actually broke up with him for a minute and a half when I opened his refrigerator door one day and found Bag O’ Wine on the bottom shelf, but then I discovered that he also had cookies, so I took him back.

It has occurred to me that I am at-risk candidate for pretentiousness of epic proportions; I’m a writer, and a wine snob, and now a professor. It’s like having both parents and a full set of grandparents who are raging alcoholics. I need to play cornhole on a regular basis as a preventative measure.

Then things like Saturday night happen, which tend to mitigate the peril. It is rather difficult to affect class when one finds little ground-up bits of toothpick in one’s ice cream drink. (“I sense… a certain woodiness, with just a hint of congealed underage college student spit.”) So I got a Milky Way martini, and everybody sampled it, which I suspect runs counter to typical martini protocol, because you never saw Frank Sinatra all "Sammy, try this, try this, you totally can't taste the alcohol!"

The Rack, was, of course, a factor. “I’m afraid the I’m Taken tractor beam is on,” I said sadly as I turned down yet another marriage proposal because the gentleman suitor was unable to scrape together the forty-goat dowry requirement.

“It’s the Racktor Beam,” G-Force said. G-Force, who really does have an I’m Taken tractor beam, passed the evening attempting to duck a Dance Spazz who preferred to express his musicality via kickboxing.

The next day we had ice cream, because we are big girls who can have ice cream whenever we want. I had Birthday Cake, the main ingredient of which is cake batter. Cake batter. Because the sugar and the eggs and the more sugar aren’t enough. I believe the Flavor of the Month for August is Lard Ripple.

sugar cones are a must at:

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