Miraculous Minutiae

So. They've given the

Large Hadron Collider

the old test run, and we're all still here. (It drives me nuts, not being able to figure out definitively if it's HAY-DRAWN or HA-DRAWN.) Of course, if in that initial pass somehow we miraculously reprogrammed reality, we'd none of us ever know it, because, well . . . it's reality, and as we've always known it. As far as we know. Anyway, nobody's even colliding anything yet, so we've got a few more hours, days, weeks, bi-annual periods before we have to resort to our emergency blackhole procedures. (That's good, because my patented Blackhole Resistant Skullcap [with NEW Dense-Particle Bi-Weave trim{TM}] is on back-order.) Actually, everything I've read about it suggests that the cause for fear of man-made blackhole is greatly exaggerated. Particles do what we're now doing to them all the dang time. We just get to catch them at it now. Hopefully.

It got me thinking, though, as I watched the news report on BBC-America this morning. It's a curious winnowing down from "large" things and ideas and efforts that leads us to a profound effect that's instigated on a profoundly "small" scale. I don't know a whole lot about CERN and particle colliders (though


offers a pretty good overview), but from what I understand, this is rather a project that's been in the making in one sense or another for decades, and requires huge amounts of facilities of all kinds. Yet it all comes down to getting one of the smallest things we can identify to behave in a specific way. And the result?

Specificity is important. Making distinctions is, after all, sort of all there is to abstract thought, and it has led us to so many important discoveries and interesting perspectives. I like to believe there's a unifying aspect to abstract thought as well, something that exists purely for the purpose of combining things and finding commonality, but that's a little harder to cite, much less prove. I can show you how you define "good" and "bad" using a binary code similar to . . . uh . . . binary code, but arguing that going beyond concepts of good and bad is both necessary and desirable only holds up until you have to apply it to choosing between eating a fresh sandwich and one that's been sitting in the sun for a week. In the arts, it would be nice to say we're all doing the same thing, different paths to the same goal, and it's all Zen (or whatever substitute you prefer) but it just ain't true. There's good art. And there's bad art. And there's a lot in between, about which we make many distinctions.

I digress, because this is not my point.

No, my point has to do with how insignificant a person can feel, said person particularly so when he or she is an actor. "Oh, boo-hoo-hoo," you may say. "We've all got it rough." True enough, and I don't mean to single out actors in particular for a pity party. They're just what I know best, and that familiarity piques the effect of everything. As actors (or directors, or painters, or nuclear physicists [or, okay: accountants]) we can very easily lose a sense of purpose because, well, what does it all add up to really? I mean, even the movie stars of yesteryear, with huge, global success, fade into obscurity faster than most. Here we are puttering about with this project and that, producing work that occasionally gets notice, but never quite wide enough notice, never quite profound enough impact on the world at large. And there are so, so many of us. Actors come and go and often get treated as a disposable commodity, and why not? There will


be more actors . . . just as I suppose, barring catastrophe, there will always be more and more people. So where does it all lead? What great or -- hell -- even small significance does the greatest thing we may ever accomplish with our lives, lead to? None, it would seem. We're dropping water into an ocean, one drop at a time; our actions are that minute.

A hadron is actually a subatomic particle made up of quarks, one the smallest objects we can reasonably identify. The science people (those in the know call them "scientists") are pretty worked up about the LHC because for the first time they have a technical possibility of proving the existence of the Higgs boson (the "scientists" inform me that a "boson" is another subatomic particle). The

Higgs boson

-- to hereby insult the intelligence of every physicist reading this -- is essentially an imaginary thing. They imagined it, not in the sense that it doesn't exist, but in the sense that they used their imaginations in theorizing it. See, the "scientists" basically came up with the Higgs boson (using an understanding of physics, the universe and everything so infinitely beyond mine that there's no analogy to properly satisfy this insertion) to fill the gap in an otherwise balanced explanation of physics, the universe and everything. This explanation is playfully named the

Standard Model

. (One can not help but picture one of


. You know: just your standard model.) In other words, when you hear the news reports about reproducing the Big Bang, they don't mean annihilating everything everywhere (intentionally, anyway), nor creating a whole new universe (intentionally, anyway), but rather understanding how


came into being. Yes:




, potentially = the result of an interaction on the smallest of scales imaginable. Reaching out from the interaction of two subatomic particles -- the very


of that interaction, mind; not even the particles themselves -- is the potential for consequences that not only affect everything . . . they are everything. This is imaginable to me. It's crazily conceptual, but imaginable. I can also imagine -- though I have to be in just the right mindset -- that the least of my work in this world may go on to have untold repercussions, reaching far into the future and influencing people of similar degrees of diminution and growth both far and wide for ages. In fact, I've already seen some small, yet unexpected, returns on work I've done in my life. Even when all memory of my existence has passed, the ripples of my life will live on and on. Perhaps unrecognized. Perhaps even without the least understanding of their actuality. Yet there they'll be, moving through everything.

I believe the scientists will discover they were all wrong about the Higgs boson, and have an incredible amount of work to do to make the model work again, possibly including throwing out the model and starting fresh. Do I have the physics to back this feeling up? Hell no. I can't even grasp centripetal force; not really. It's just that they seem so certain of it, they just have to have it all wrong. No, I believe this because I believe that our searches have to go on. That's a force I recognize. Imagine, if you will (and why not), the universe as an infinite song, played by an infinite number of instruments and voices. Who wouldn't want to join in? Who wouldn't want to create and contribute the most beautiful music they (and only they) possibly can?

The Complete Urban Guide to Proper Umbrella Usage

The Umbrella

: Some have argued its worth beyond even that of fire, or the wheel, or individually package snack foods. Known by many names--bumbershoot (or bumpershoot), parasol, canopy, sunshade--and appreciated by many cultures, the umbrella is an essential tool in humanity's war against the elements. Canes, hats, sock garters, they've all gone the way of the Dodo as far as standard equipment goes, but the umbrella has persevered in the face of fashion, and with good reason. It is versatile and seemingly infinite in variety, it is simple yet effective, and it's nifty.

This is why, dear friends, after enduring yet another day of the perils of a rainy city, I feel obligated to share with you the secrets of that ancient, nigh mystical martial art surrounding the sensitive and affective use of the umbrella in an overcrowded urban en(and "in")vironment. These many secrets of both external and internal practice have been passed down only orally through the centuries, handed from generation to generation of master, all the while cleverly disguised under the nomenclature "common sense." I think you will find, however, when next you visit New York (or Chicago, Washington D.C., Bangor, etc.), that there is nothing at all "common" about this "sense." Let's begin . . .

  • Rule the First: Best Defense for Rain, No Be There.
  • I paraphrase Mr. Miyagi, of course. (Pat Morita, it is widely known, was a long-time secret practitioner of The Way of The Not Retarded With An Umbrella In Public.) This rule is pretty simple. If it's raining, don't go out. You won't get wet. Oh sure, you may spill some water on yourself at some point, but come on. Take some responsibility for yourself. While you're at it, call in sick to work. Think about it. Public transportation will be full to the brim with people convinced they're getting to work faster by not driving, all the while slowing down the public transportation with their numbers. In such an environment, it's an act of charity to fore go one's usual strident work ethic, and charity is one of the 99 Virtues of this style.
  • Rule the Second: Second-Best Defense for Rain a Hat.
  • It's true. Hats still work. It may seem ridiculous to us, but not so long ago our ancestors (read: grandparents) wore hats out that had a little more style than just a logo and a standing deck on the front. These hats were not just stylish, but practical, with lots of air underneath to separate one's scalp from the elements and, more often than not, a wide brim all the way 'round what prevented elements from getting all elemental in our faces. This simple alternative, when combined with a long coat, will protect all the essentials from said elements.
  • Rule the Third: You Need a Coat
  • No, really. You do. I know, I know, but -- you do. It's the city. Water's going to come at you from directions you never dreamed possible, and it doesn't care how good your legs look in those shoes/pants/eccentric ruffles.
  • Rule the Fourth: As With the (Hu)Man, So With the Bumpershoot
  • So you are rash, young Padawan, and have chosen the Way of the Umbrella over the Ways of Responsible Delinquency and/or Hat. So be it. First: You still need a coat. I'm not letting go of this one. Coat, cloak, poncho, whatever--deal. Second, you are unique. You are special unto your own self. Your umbrella must reflect this. If you are larger than most, you may need an umbrella of greater radius, with corresponding longer neck. If you are more diminutive, so shall your umbrella be. Play to your strengths! Far more often than you may imagine, someone of insufficient height takes it upon his or her self to wield a Vorpal sword of a parasol, thinking bigger to be better. This is plainly untrue, and further, is contradictory to the virtue of Not Being a Punk-Ass, another of the 99 Virtues of this style. Further still, with an over-large umbrella, you are imperiling not only others, but yourself, owing to still another of the 99 Virtues: Tendency to Kill Umbrella-Punk-Asses.
  • Rule the Fifth: Know Your Place
  • What is your "place"? TWoTNRWAUIP is a sophisticated philosophy and way of life, not just a highly effective art-form, and it recognizes that set rules and forms will ultimately limit our ability to adapt to different challenges. For example, a person who's 5'10" in D.C. might think of his or her self as a tall him or her. Odds are, however, that such a one will find themselves in the shorter margin of humans at some point on a visit to N.Y.C. Ergo, one should learn to judge one's opponent(s) on an individual basis. This is harder than it sounds. To practice properly, one must meditate daily on images of reeds in the wind, unconcerned about the battles of ego that might occur in rainy urban conditions. There is no shame in taking the lower stance. Especially if you're a 4'9", slow-moving, grocery-shopping grandmother.
  • Rule the Sixth: Movement is the Key to Successful Movement
  • Herein lies all the complexity of the technique--that formless form that only masters of TWoTNRWAUIP may someday achieve. One must move with precision and ease through the myriad bumbershoots, maneuvering smartly whilst maintaining a sufficient velocity of foot travel, rather like a traceur (a practitioner of le Parkour), or those cooks who chop stuff really quickly. There are many movements, most of which only life can be the teacher of, but the key to them is this: It is not enough to avoid impaling yourself; you must avoid impaling others. Also: Understand that your umbrella is, oddly enough, wet, and can moisten others. Additionally: What is WRONG with YOU? STOP BEING RETARDED.

Dang. I think I need to meditate a little more.

Women of New York: Kindly Knock It Off.

There are those in my profession that keep a very close eye on trends. It's advisable, given a field so influenced by socio-political movements and "what the people want." Plus, one is expected to be as attractive (or, as a possible trade-off, intense) as one can. Actors are meant to be seen, and being easy on or fascinating to the eye is a definite plus. Some would even say it is a necessity. Certainly in New York, one has a great variety of beautiful people, a lot of whom aren't even performers (at least in the occupational sense). With the advent of the metrosexual (or as I like to call them, the image-conscious frat boys who have been relieved of the terror of occasionally being branded gay) even the straight men are in on the details of a beautiful appearance and the latest fashions.

I can't be bothered to follow trends from moment to moment, and have no particular instinct for it that would allow me to pick them up without effort. It has been this way since I was a wee one. In high school I was well known for wearing literally nothing but black, every day. A good deal of making that choice had to do with not having to choose much in the way of an outfit each day. (I love the sequences in

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure


The Royal Tenenbaums

in which characters go to their closets to select from identical suits [and I'm pretty certain that's a bit borrowed from one of the great silent actors' repertoires][not to mention Einstein's habit of it].) I have grown past this technique, but I still am caught unawares by styles and trends, particularly those having to do with clothing.

A clothing trend for women that has walked up to me and smacked me in the face a few thousand times, now that warmer weather has sloughed its way into the Baked Apple, is the T-shirt dress. The

very short

T-shirt dress

. Like, pretty much just a T-shirt, maybe men's size. I should have seen this one coming. What with the encroaching influence of

American Apparel

and our recent fascination with shifting in and out of the 80s pop culture, this was bound to come up. I guess I should just be thanking my lucky stars (


could be my lucky star, but I'm

the luckiest by far

) that the side ponytail has remained in remission, and that said T-shirt dresses come in a variety of styles apart from the typical


variety. Instead, all I can say is this:

Kindly knock it the hell off, Women of New York.

Oh, ha-ha. He's having a comical rant, along the lines of Dennis Leary, Dennis Miller or

Patrick Lacey

. Oh this should be good, full of sardonic wit and wry commentary on his society, all the whilst keeping himself in check with merciless self-deprecation. Ha-ha.

Seriously. Knock it. Off. Knock it off.

I don't think you fully appreciate the effect you're having on the average heterosexual male (or homosexual female, I presume), Women of New York. Each and every time I see one of you wearing one such "dress," I am instantly and involuntarily transported into a fantasy that you are in my bedroom and I am making you a delicious breakfast of an omelet, whole wheat toast, a glass of cranberry juice and a french-pressed mug of coffee. Because, you see


It's Pavlovian, or something. I mean, it's documented fact ("It's


.") that it doesn't take much to make men think about sex. I'm not holding you responsible for that, WoNY. I am merely pleading with you, please, to consider that it's a far worse thing to invite the idea that I've already had sex with you, and may get to again, if it's a Sunday and neither of us have anywhere in particular to be. This misconception doesn't put you in danger, of course, unless you consider having an omelet and surprisingly intimate conversation with a strange man dangerous, but I beg you to consider the effect it may have on the public at large. If legislation can be proposed banning iPods for

endangering pedestrian traffic

, should we not lend the same consideration to those afflicted by the T-shirt dress distraction factor?

And no, no: It doesn't help if you wear a broach, or if the T-shirt is artfully pleated or even if you've added a

stylish belt

to the ensemble. I still see the so-called dress and think, "Oh. My Lake Braddock Intermediate School production T from

The Miracle Worker

. Good choice. That one's


." Maybe you think that wearing tights and boots with it helps to establish--in spite of its cotton magically patented to absently cling to absolutely everything underneath--a more developed sense of outfit. Sorry: No. It doesn't. I just momentarily think we've come in to the lodge from a long, hard day of skiing, and what we really need more than anything else is a dip in the jacuzzi.

And no: It isn't my fault. It simply isn't. I may have fessed up before to

compulsive sexual thoughts

in the past, but this goes beyond the pale. It's not that I'm stifled by some kind of Victorian repression that makes me scandalized over

a glimpse of ankle

. It's that you're wearing absurdly casual lingerie, in public. This is your responsibility, WoNY. Take a lesson from Spider-Man. It is indeed a great power, and you're wielding it like your uncle wasn't killed as an indirect result of your inaction. You should always behave as though your uncle was killed as an indirect result of your inaction! Especially when the issue is relative nudity.

Gentlemen (and lesbians), I do feel we have recourse, desperate though it may be. We have to fight fire with fire. Sort of. I suggest we all take to wearing boxers in public. But not just boxers, my finely-tempered fashion fighting force. Boxers with black socks. Pulled up straight. Preferably with

calf garters

and dress shoes.

We can not lose! They will bow before our mighty retaliation, cowering in the sight of the most unsightly and awkward antiquated fashion trend the world has yet to know! You think you've got us with your bedroom outfit from the 1980s? How about some 1880s boudoir!

You have been warned, Women of New York. Get out of my T-shirt. Get into some pants.

Allow Me to make the Technical Points Perfectly Clear

That was my trigger phrase for an Irish dialect when I was in college. The way I was taught, when working on a dialect it's best to establish a phrase that contains the trickier aspects of that dialect, and one which you practice so much you can hardly help but to say it in said dialect. That way, you can create a sort of shortcut to the "muscle memory" of speaking in that fashion. The above phrase is good for a sing-songy, northern Irish dialect. It practically starts out syncopated, with breathy vowels and mincing consonants. Plus, you get that great "points," which comes out more like "pints."

Now me brain is stuck composing this very entry in an Erin fashion....

My point (POYNT) in so quoting myself, however, is to address something 'blog-wise that seems to have thrown a few of you loyal readers (a large portion of all 6 of you) for a bit of a loop. In the spirit of tech week, then, allow me to make the technical points perfectly clear.

I felt compelled last week to implement Blogger's comment moderation feature. This was something I was hoping to avoid. I liked the idea of this 'blog being open to comment from anyone without the complication of wondering who was getting their chance to be heard, and who was not. Occasionally, sure, I got comments from strange women wanting me to check out their naked photos and buy Vicadin from them, but even these I enjoyed responding to in a fantastical sort of mindset. Last week, however, I struck a nerve with someone through my blogination, and their response allowed my imagination to roam into the possibilities for abusing the comments section of the 'blog.

Let me be clear: This commenter didn't abuse the 'blog. Far from it. He or she just allowed me to see how rapidly a comment string could, without supervision, descend into madness. So I enacted the moderation feature shortly thereafter. And it's a good thing, too, because shortly after that decision a dear friend of mine interpreted the comment as something of an attack on me and responded in kind. That comment I did not allow to post.

So let me state the rules for you, dear readers. I will let every comment through that I possibly can. In fact, I hope this en-action of moderation (such a politic word for censorship) encourages those of you who choose to comment to do so without reservation or inhibition. The only rule that should guide you is to avoid personal attacks on anyone associated with this 'blog, including anonymous commenters. That won't be allowed to be posted. Exceptions? Good-spirited-yet-heated discourse on a subject, as long as it remains predominantly on said subject, will be allowed to pass. Personal attacks on me or what I have had to say will also be allowed, believe it or not. Those comments will be judged based on a ratio of relevance/cruelty. If you tear me a new one, but raise what I deem to be a good point with it, it's getting published for all to see.

Sorry to write about technicalities, but I wanted to be clear and direct with my vasty audience. I am off now to tech for fourteen hours. ROCK N' ROLL!