Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Oh, How Cute -- They're Trying to Humanize the Tyrant


Jacinta Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, hopped right on the Christchurch mosque shootings as an excuse to jump-start her regime's victim disarmament and censorship/political imprisonment agenda.

Cue charm offensive.

She'd been with her partner for six years and had a kid with him, but hey, better announce an engagement.

And make a big to-do about returning a schoolgirl's "bribe" with a cute note about research on dragons and telepathy.

And so on and so forth.

Oh, look, cute, cuddly, friendly Aunt Jacinda. Just give your guns to Jacinda and shut the fuck up when Jacinda tells you to and everything will be just fine.

If she doesn't want to be seen as New Zealand's version of Stalin, wouldn't it be easier to just, you know, quit acting like New Zealand's version of Stalin?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Thinking About Going Electric ...


Not electric guitar, or electric car. Electric bicycle.

I loved cycling for both exercise and transportation, but my knees just can't take it for more than a few weeks (yes, I've tried glucosamine supplements, etc., and they didn't help much -- I think it probably has something to do with having broken both of my kneecaps in the distant past).

I don't really need a car. Or, rather, if I did, I could just share one with Tamara. Transport-wise, I'm interested in having something to get around town on when she and/or the car aren't available, and it doesn't need to have huge cargo capacity.

I thought about a motorcycle, but I'd probably kill myself on one of those. A scooter is more attractive ...

... but either one would mean getting a driver's license (I think my last one expired in 2004 and I haven't bothered since because I stopped driving around that time due to a hand tremor which has long since disappeared) and paying for insurance, which seems like it's going overboard to dispose of an inconvenience rather than fill a dire need.

An electric bicycle wouldn't entail a driver's license or insurance payments.

It looks like the current "reasonable price" crop (if you consider $500-600 "reasonable") can hit 20 miles per hour and have about a 20-mile range on one battery if you're not doing any pedaling at all.

My plan would be to carry an extra battery. A 40-mile battery range would presumably be plenty to get me all over the Gainesville area and around the parts of the countryside I like to visit, even if I didn't want to do some actual pedaling myself (and I would want to do as much as I could, just not so much that I start having knee problems again).

When there's substantial traffic, that 20mph will stand me in better stead in bike lanes and on bike trails than a car will on the street. I've biked from my rural digs into town and found myself seeing the same car at each stoplight, until that car stopped catching up with me. And IN town, a bike ride is often a straight shot with few stops while a car ride is almost always bunch of detours with lights at each intersection.

So: Cheaper to buy than even an old beater of a car, especially since I wouldn't be making monthly insurance payments. Faster transportation than a car to many of the places I go. Maintenance, probably mostly stuff I could do myself rather than having to hire a mechanic for.

Other than it kind of sucking to bike in the rain (I can deal with that), seems like the winning solution. So now I just have to locate an extra $600 or so and I'm off to the (20 mph or less) races.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Some Thoughts on Comedic "Originality"


Conan O'Brien just settled a lawsuit with a fellow who claims that O'Brien's writers "stole" several jokes from his Twitter feed. Here's his explanation of why he settled. I kind of wish he hadn't, because he was pretty clearly in the right.

I'm enjoying the process of writing stand-up bits. I've done two short public sets now, and both of them got laughs from the audience (the first one more so than the second one, possibly because I inadvertently over-did the booze just a little before the second one -- hey, it was Tankard Night at The Midnight! -- and may have slurred a bit, etc.).

Every time I think I have a bit starting to get into shape, I Google some of my text to see if I'm doing something that's been done before.

I've yet to find a word-for-word match of any substantial bit of content, but if I did I'd make changes or abandon the bit, even though I would know that I came up with the joke independently.

Why?

While I don't consider "intellectual property" to be a valid concept, I understand why comics (and audiences) disdain a copycat.

When I tell a joke, the first and most important goal is to get a laugh (or multiple laughs out of a longer bit). The second goal is to do so in a way that the audience finds unique or close to unique -- that makes them consider the joke mine, something I brought them.

As with other types of stories, there are really only so many possible joke plots. Joke plotting works a little differently than most story plotting, but there are still only so many interesting topics and so many takes the basic formulas for jokes lead to on those topics. But you still need to find a way to be "original." That's what I'm working on now.

Songs are stories, too, and the same plot constraints apply, but there's still a difference between "covers" and "originals," and between cover bands and bands doing their own things. One of those differences is audience expectation. If you pay a five dollar cover charge to see a local cover band doing a bunch of Lynyrd Skynrd songs at the local bar, you're probably going to be OK with the deal. If you pay 20 times as much to see an "original" arena act, and that act isn't Lynyrd Skynyrd, you're probably gonna be pissed if the whole show is Skynyrd covers.

So I'm doing my best to make sure that the great bit I came up with isn't something uncomfortably close to something Bill Hicks did in 1992, or Bill Burr did last week, or someone else named Bill did some other time. And if I don't think I get over that bar, you're not going to see or hear me performing it.

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