Monday, September 28, 2015

One man's trash

Years ago I paid a visit to the Roy Rogers Museum, out on the edge of nothing much else near Victorville, California. Out front there was a gigantic fiberglass model of Trigger (the Smartest Horse in the Movies). Somewhere inside, Trigger was actually stuffed and mounted, while in the lobby were glass cases containing, among other stuff, every wristwatch Roy had ever owned. Here at home I'm surrounded by an exhibit of books I've already read, music I'm done with, cellphones I used to yak into. And seriously, I can't imagine anybody ever wanting to curate a Dave Maleckar Museum.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Phoenix Iron Works

In some ways, things are looking brighter for America than they have in years. There haven't been any new Styx albums for a decade, and we seem to have gotten that scarf thing out of our systems. But we're sad and twitchy because we work wimp jobs for wimp companies with Dr. Seuss names like Twitter and Google. That's why we compensate with such brutal movies and sports. Me, I'd rather see a Norma Shearer picture over the weekend, then go back Monday to bust my hump for an outfit called something like Mount Savage Locomotive Works or Consolidated Vultee.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hollywood, you know where to find me.

The people in movies spend a disproportionately large amount of time driving and punching and nowhere near enough eating and pooping. Also, when they talk, they don't spend as much of their time as actual humans do telling each other about sports on television or the plots of movies they've seen. That would make a good movie, I think. Some people are at a table eating food, and they start talking about movies, and explaining them to each other, because they haven't all seen the same ones. Then somebody says, “Excuse me. I have to go to the toilet.”

Monday, September 7, 2015

Not smart, just clever.

A lot of times when I try to say something funny, what I get is blank stares. Then a lot of other times I'll say in all seriousness something that is, apparently, just an absolute hoot. That's what I've been told, anyway. Absolute hoot. Upon what do I not have my finger? The pulse, that's what. Fortunately, somebody always shows up to tell me about kombucha or Kneebody or Jeff Lint. Somebody whose weltanschauung is more aligned with the zeitgeist. Otherwise I could not participate in any reasonably contemporary colloquy; as it is, I still often just nod and bluff.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Inexorable March of Human Progress

Archimedes used something called the method of exhaustion to calculate the value of Pi. That means, I assume, that he worked on it until he got really tired, and then took whatever number he had at that point and said, “That'll do.” And it was good enough for almost everybody when they were figuring out how much strap iron to buy for a wagon tire, or the total length of a pizza crust. Then Newton and Leibniz simultaneously invented calculus, which led to more and more accurate values. Oddly, though, both these guys have rectangular cookies named after them.

Monday, August 24, 2015


There are maybe a couple hundred billion galaxies. In our galaxy, there might be 400 billion stars. About 0.000000045292 percent of the sun's radiation strikes our planet. Of that, about one third bounces right off, about a quarter runs the water cycle (ocean currents, clouds, rain, rivers, stuff like that) and maybe 0.02 percent is used by plants for photosynthesis. And all our food and also our fuel are minor side effects of that photosynthetic process. My point is that probably you shouldn't have invested the energy to tell me my yogurt cup goes in the recycling, not the trash.

Monday, August 17, 2015


We can't believe people used to go to public executions, or even that there was such a thing. But attendance was pretty much mandatory, and it's easiest to understand as a kind of edutainment. The takeaway was: “Here is why it's important to obey the rules.” An expedient way to reinforce social norms. We've got our own ways of horrifying the future. Forget about us eating animals, imprisoning huge numbers of our fellow citizens, moving two tons of metal to get one clerk to Walmart. Bad enough, but then there's this: We poop into large bowls of drinkable water.