This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Friday, October 31, 2003

Three and a half hours... and counting...


Today on NPR, there was a segment that confirmed what I've always suspected, and let's put it on its own line to make sure everyone sees it:
There has never been a death or serious injury due to tampered Halloween candy. Never, ever. Not even once.

This in a study going back to 1958. It's all an urban legend, ladies and gentlemen.

There was also a long segment on gay marriages, which convinced me that it's only a matter of time until they are as culturally accepted as, say, interracial marriages are today. (And yes, if you're wondering, I think that's a Good Thing.) It also featured a couple who was A-OK with gay "unions" but said, "don't you dare call it marriage, because marriage means this, this, and this"; their "this"es were:
  • A coming together of opposites,

  • A legal, social contract, and

  • "Fruition" of the marriage, i.e. children or... uh... something else.

Never mind that they gave no references for these supposed "universal assertions"; take a look at that last one. Rather like Rick Santorum, these folks were stepping all over themselves to say, well, yes, "fruition" could mean children, but it doesn't have to mean it, of course it's all right for people to marry with no intention of having children, but, but, um, the women in the first part of the segment, who had a child via artificial insemination, that, um, doesn't mean fruition, that's only something that a man and a woman can have, because... um...

So a man and a woman who don't want to have kids can and should get married, but a woman and a woman or a man and a man who do want to have kids cannot.

In an odd coincidence, I was recently defending people who do choose to have kids (or have them accidentally, for that matter--hello, mirror!). But, really, can someone explain to me: if the point, as many folks have said, of a marriage is to have kids, and that's why gays shouldn't be allowed to marry... well, why should heterosexuals be allowed to marry if they have no intention (or ability) to have kids?

Come on, social conservatives! Convince me! Really! I'll enjoy telling many of my friends (and more than a few readers of this blog) they they have no right to be married if they're not breeding!

Alert! We have Jennifer Garner rampaging through the Senate!

So a toy gun shut down Capitol Hill yesterday. I wonder if the security guard who was "distracted" and let the "gunslingers" through is contacting a temp agency today.

Seriously, though, how the hell did this happen? I don't have any doubt that security guards are human like the rest of us, but gee whiz, you kind've expect them to at least look at the X-ray monitors for guns.

And more importantly, how the hell did everyone get their stories wrong? It was first reported as one unknown white male who grabbed the bag and ran before the guard could react; it turned out to be two white females who worked there who took their bags and leisurely walked on into the building. There comes a point (male vs. female is one of them!) where bad eyewitness testimony goes beyond "mistakes" and into "willful self-deception." I'm surprised they didn't have the imagined culprit become an Arab with an AK-47. (I'm sure that's what Ashcroft would have seen had he been on the X-ray machine. Or maybe he just would have seen the women as nekkid.)

As if that wasn't bad enough, at almost the same time there was an unattended U-Haul truck that sent the Pentagon into a tizzy; that turned out to be completely benign, too, but these two unrelated events were enough to bring me close to panic, I freely admit. Sometimes I hate living in the Washington area; yesterday was one of those times.

Angel in the morning.

It would have been funnier had Wesley said, "Including this, I've had... this?"

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Apropos of nothing.

This was my first computer.

Is that a hypothetical, or a threat?

One of those questions that always got asked late at college parties was, "Which would you rather be, blind or deaf?"

(Well, that's what I got asked. Never once did anyone ask, say, "You have a condom, right?" Although people did often ask me why I wasn't dancing. Clearly, I went to less exciting parties than the rest of you.)

I was thinking about this after I read a profile of a blind acquaintance in the Washington Post Magazine. Well, strike that. He's not really an acquaintance, but rather someone who I recognize around town; in Greenbelt, by default, you recognize people who spend a lot of time in the town center, especially if you do, yourself. It's that kind of community. Anyway, a copy of the article is posted in the building where D's nursery school is, and I read it this morning.

Interestingly, my answer to the "deaf vs. blind" question has changed as I've gotten older. Throughout high school and college, it wasn't even an issue; I'd rather be blind, no question. Music was far too important a part of my life to lose. And though I was first and foremost an actor, I had very little interest in the visual arts.

Now, music is still an important part of my life; arguably more so, since I can play both the guitar and the piano (in high school, all I could do was sing). Yet my perspective has changed; I would choose (if it were a choice) to be deaf.

I'm not sure why; maybe because I've become more interested in film and animation in recent years, or maybe I don't want to miss my children's faces. I suppose, if nothing else, it's a metaphor for how I've grown and who I've become.

Naturally I'd choose to lose neither sight nor hearing, in the real world. But you can take my sense of smell any day (he says, changing his daughter's diaper).

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I'm sure these are urban legends, but who cares?

Tip of the Spice to Stephanie for these:

  • A kindergarten pupil told his teacher he'd found a cat. She asked him if it was dead or alive.� "Dead,"�she was informed.

    "How do you know?" she asked her pupil.

    "Because I pissed in its ear and it didn't move," answered the child innocently.

    "You did WHAT?!?" the teacher exclaimed in surprise.

    "You know," explained the boy, "I leaned over and went 'Pssst!' and it didn't move."

  • One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed.� She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a�tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

    The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."

    A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

  • It was that time, during the Sunday morning service, for the children's sermon. All the children were invited to come forward.� One little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress and, as she sat down, the pastor leaned over and said, "That is a very pretty dress.� Is it your Easter Dress?"

    The little girl replied, directly into the pastor's clip-on microphone, "Yes and my Mom says it's a bitch to iron."

  • When I was six months pregnant with my third child, my three year old came into the room when I was just getting ready to get into the shower. She said, "Mommy, you are getting fat!"

    I replied, "Yes, honey, remember Mommy has a baby growing in her tummy."

    "I know," she replied, but what's growing in your butt?"

  • A little boy was doing his math homework. He said to himself, "Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven.� Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine...."

    His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, "What are you doing?"

    The little boy answered, "I'm doing my math homework, Mom."

    "And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?" the mother asked.

    "Yes," he answered. Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, "What are you teaching my son in math?" The teacher replied, "Right now, we're learning addition."

    The mother asked, "And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?"

    After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, "What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four."

  • One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class.� She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, ".... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

    The teacher paused then asked the class, "And what do you think that farmer said?"

    One little girl raised her hand and said, "I think he said: 'Holy Shit! A talking chicken!'"

    The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

It's depressing when you get more comments on one post in someone else's blog than you've gotten on all the posts in your own.
I'm getting scared...

No, really, why not?

E. J. Dionne, in yesterday's Washington Post, asked a trenchant question: if you believe that God is on your side, and that your God is the one true God, why shouldn't you try your best to kill or convert all non-believers?

After all, as he put it, "if you believe that you are in possession of something like the absolute truth -- and have an obligation to proclaim it and a duty to convert others -- religious toleration ultimately involves tolerating 'error' and allowing error to propagate itself." And who wants to tolerate mistakes?

The context, of course, was the certifiably nuts Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin (which reminds me, I need to ask him what the "Jerry" in "William" stands for), who has publicly stated that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that Allah is just an idol. Of course, I disagree with him on the first statement, but in the interest of fairness, I should point out that in a sense, I agree with the second; but then I think all gods are idols, or more generally silly fantasies.

From that perspective, a letter to the editor, also in yesterday's post, got it even more right than Dionne:

Although Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin's remarks have been widely condemned as offensive, the extent of the national security problems created and revealed by those remarks appears not to be widely appreciated. One of those problems is that the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence believes he saw a supernatural entity on a surveillance photo.

If he had reported seeing a leprechaun in Belfast rather than a demon over Mogadishu, I suspect that the administration would have taken more immediate and drastic action.



I was wondering how she got so prolific.

Good gravy, is nothing sacred?

Now we have bloggers letting their blogs out for rent. Surely, this cannot stand. It's an affront to the American way of life. And don't we all want to be Americans?

Then again, maybe I should take up the offer and troll for links. Nah... I like to earn my stripes. (I have also earned some lovely polka dots in my time.)
Sick, sick, sick.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


I keep forgetting to rig the vote!


La la la, la la la, la la la, la la...

The integral of geek.

A recent Singing Potatoes has reminded me just how glad I am that I use Mac OS X. But as if that wasn't enough, I went and turned my old iMac into a GNU/Linux box over the summer.

My primary motivation was so I could port some of my Cocoa programs to GNUstep, but since I haven't actaully released any Cocoa programs yet, that may be a little premature. My second motivation was so I could use LyX to write a novel, but as LyX is also available for OS X, that's a trifle unneeded to say the least.

How much have I used GNU/Linux since I installed it? Almost never. Part of this is 'cause I kept OS X around on that machine as a dual-boot solution, and I've been busy with other projects that require Mac OS X on two machines. But the rest, I suppose, is because I am brainwashed by the Man into believing that I can only work on proprietary systems. Dammit, I should write MY OWN animation software instead of using someone else's non-free software, even if it is perfect for my temperament!

Speaking of novels, if anyone would like to read my effort from last year's NaNoWriMo--you know, the one that nearly forced me into a mental hospital--it's now online in a handy portable text format. Be warned, it's an unfinished novel; 15,000 words of 50,000 required. But some of it's actually pretty good, I think. (Karen: if you read it, feel free to count it as one of the fifty books.)

I haven't decided whether or not I want to go insane this year... only a few days left to weigh the pros and cons.
Darth Vader: Luke! I know what you're getting for Christmas.
Luke Skywalker: How, Father?
Darth Vader: I have felt your presents.

I don't know what I'll get for Christmas, but I know what I want.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Chili gives you wings.

We went to a neighborhood chili party last night. Damned good food. And, by George, we actually know our neighbors enough to go to their chili party, which is a rarity in today's suburban America. Might help that we share one inch thick walls with them, I guess.

The brother-in-law of one of our neighbors is a professional jazz guitarist, based in Minneapolis... in his words, he spent most of his life working for IBM, and now he does music, usually playing in the various musicals that tour on their way in to Broadway. He had brought along a beautiful Ibanez jazz guitar, and our neighbor invited me to bring my axe over so we could play together (which I guess means she doesn't mind my late-night practicing sessions). He had chops, to say the least. We jammed a bit, starting out with a little twelve-bar-blues and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." He was kind enough to let me take the lead (in the sense of calling the tunes, not lead guitar--I'm strictly rhythm, or at least I should be) at first, then I came to my senses, and said to myself, "Squelch, you idiot, you should be learning from someone this good!"

So he taught me the progression to "Tequila" and a whole new kind of twelve bar blues from G, with ninth chords and thirteenth chords and... I realized just how much of a world of guitar-playing there is that I don't have a clue about; that's even without playing solos. (He could play solos. Damn, but he could play solos!)

It was an interesting way to jam with someone, no doubt, while people were munching on hot dogs, corn bread, and chili, crammed into a tiny living room because it was raining outside, and my son trying continuously to grab my pick away or play along.

I'm very much self-taught, musically; there's a certain honor about that, especially if you're a rock-and-roller, but I often, in jam sessions, am acutely aware of how limited my vocabulary can be. Not to say that I can only play I-IV-V--though there's a lot of songs you can sing on I-IV-V--but I certainly don't know jazz chords at all.

After the party was over I exercised the Stay at Home Dad's prerogative and took a night off to see a movie. There's an art house within walking distance from my home and they were showing Winged Migration, which, if you have any interest in avian biology, animation, culture, whatever, you must see. I don't know how they did it, but Canada geese and other species were filmed so close you could see the muscles on their backs working as they flapped their wings. Absolutely incredible, and with some beautiful touches of humor... I'll never forget the ballet music that played as a bird landed, stuck its tail feathers in the air, and strutted in perfect unison with its mate.

Migrating thousands of miles isn't all ballet, of course. A scene where a penguin cub is killed by some sort of gull (as its parents look on, helpless) is heartbreaking. They also had some pre-9/11 shots of New York City, too, which were heartbreaking for entirely different reasons.

All in all, it was insert pithy rejoinder here before publishing

Nobody's Butt-Monkey!

Did you know that Buffy the Vampire Slayer merits its own e-book genre?

Haith of the fart.

Is there anything worse than having the theme to Enterprise stuck in one's head?
Oh, also added, where there are two blogs run by an old college semi-crony. I couldn't decide which one to link to, so now it's up to you!

Keep those bloggies rolling...

In keeping with the New Improved Rooster Spice, I thought it might be time to cut out the dead wood from the Seal of Approval blogs, i.e. kill off those links which are dead or taking indefinite vacations, and put in links that deserved to be added long ago.

Unfortunately, there was a flaw in my plan; some folks who I wanted to add in, notably Mr. Nosuch and Inane Comments, seem to have vanished, and the only blogger whose link really was dead seems to have simply moved and taken yet another new identity. I suppose I can't nag her about that, having taken a new identity of my own.

Godfrey and Laura are of course still pluggin' along, which we're happy about, and Mike has managed to keep posting for about five days now, so he's looking up. In addition, during my time off, I discovered Brian Flemming, who was a California gubernatorial candidate with a unique platform: "If elected, I will resign." He's a playwright and filmmaker, so he reminds me of what I might have been if I were funnier, more together, and a lot more liberal.

So that's it; one addition, one switch, no removals. What was that about dead wood?

Rock, paper, choppers.

K is lucky, in that our daughter doesn't bite while breastfeeding; but I'm unlucky, in that E takes the bitin' out on me.

Man, but that girl could give a T-Rex a run for its money...!

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Remember when the switch from Daylight Savings Time meant you got an extra hour of sleep?

Now, it just means the kids seem to get up an hour earlier.

Unless, of course, they really do get up an hour earlier, in which case you're bopping around at 4:30 AM. Yeehaw!

Saturday, October 25, 2003

The old stuff is always the best.

The Greatest Hits are now online. They're skewed pretty heavily toward the early days of the blog, when I was young and stupid and had only one kid. Still, it's nice to read some of these. Many are actually pretty good.

I'm taking nominations for a better category name than "Greatest Hits."
This is a very cool thing, and very handy, too. But I wonder how they do it; is it some kind of compression algorithm, or a gigantic hash table? I'm betting the latter, as the links seem to appear in sequence. But that worries me; the hash table has to be stored somewhere, and that means they will, eventually, run out of space.

This has been an example of "high-context"; the David Mamet of blog entries.


Well, I have, I think, eliminated all references to my family's true names, from wife to siblings to kids. My own name does remain attached to one post, because the joke wouldn't work if it wasn't.

There are many good things about Blogger's search capability, but it's not the smartest of algorithms. For instance, searching for "uncle" also gives you a hit for "unclear." That's not so bad, but what if you're searching for your brother's name, and hit every post you wrote about--

Wait, I can't say it, or I'll reveal his name! But--AAAARGH! (head explodes)

There is a story here, but you do not want to hear it.

The world's best and least-known laxative.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Royale with cheese.

Wondering why AOL doesn't have software for Linux is a little like wondering why Maxim's doesn't serve a Whopper.

Forty watt.

I tend to alternate between periods of frenzied creative activity and complete lack thereof. At the moment, I must be coming up on a frenzy, 'cause Ideas (for animations, mostly) have been dropping into my head like... like... things dropping into heads (I said I had ideas, not metaphors). Here are some, mostly just so I'll remember them, not so you folks can comprehend them:
  • Shaggy on a cell-phone

  • Clubbin' Baby Ceil

  • The Book of His Life

  • The God Note

  • 24 to 30 inverse telecine program (for transferring animations to DV)

  • Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue

There will be a quiz later.
What do you guys think of a "Greatest Hits" section on the right, there, containing links to some favorite posts?

Squelch sits and waits, realizing the surefire way to expose how few people are reading is to ask a question.

I'm not really here.

People have wondered why I'm bothering to conceal my name, considering that most people who read this blog read it before last April, when it had my name proudly emblazoned all over it. It's usually futile to try to conceal one's identity in the best of circumstances; I've been told to never try to hide one's blog from those you don't want to read it, because they'll find it all the quicker.

That's all true, no doubt. But I find myself wondering what will happen ten years down the line, when D and E are awkward teenagers; will they really want their friends searching Google for their names and discovering memoirs of their potty-training? (All this assumes Google still exists, and for that manner Rooster Spice still exists.) More immediately, do I really want immediate family stumbling across entries like this one and worrying about me on a daily basis?

Not to mention that I think one Google search already ruined the wife's chances for a little interview.

Yeah, our real names will still show up in the Google archives. But this will make me feel a little better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Going, going...

I've begun the quixotic task of removing any references to my name, or my immediate family's. (The posts won't be removed, but the names will be changed to protect the innocent.) So if you have anything you'd like to keep unadulterated, get it now.

Or, just visit the Wayback Machine.

Could I have Aging Gracefully for $400, Alex?

Arthritis. Overactive bladder. Erectile dysfunction.

Somehow I don't think I'm in the demographic which "Jeopardy" advertisers covet.

King Jeb?

Yes, I know the law only applies to Florida, and I know that it's narrowly focused on one particular (very particular) class of court decisions, but gee whiz, it's still dangerous to allow the governor to override the courts!

I have an opinion, sure, about whether the woman in a vegetative state should be on or off the feeding tube, but frankly it's none of my business, so I don't really care to share it. Do I wish the family could have resolved it without getting into a legal battle? Sure. Do I think it's worth running roughshod over the separation of powers? Hell, no.

After all, remember the last time there was a court battle in Florida? Did we want Jeb Bush to be able to override the judges then? (Then again, the outcome would have been the same...)
All right, we've moved to a new commenting system, which, for the time being, seems more reliable, if butt-ugly. One warning--don't put your true email in the box. The current template has no spam-stopper. (So don't put someone else's in there either.)
I'm told there are currently issues with the commenting engine. I have opened it up and applied oil, but am waiting for the repairman to get back to me. Watch this space for further development.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Where have you been?

None of your damn business.

But, if you must know, I did make it into the 48 Hour Film Project, we made a great film which didn't place at all (I'm not bitter, no sir!), I've returned to animation after a long hiatus (longer than the blogging break), the Band has not been together all summer, D is going to a new school, and that's about it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need lunch.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I didn't hear anything. Did you?

Welcome back to Rooster Spice! All-new, all-impersonal! No more wailing self-pity! No more threats of suicide! Just events and commentary, with nothing inside the author's head!

With any luck, we can have no worries from readers--and no interest, either.

Okay, fine, some of you know who I am, but who cares? I don't! Anyone new will have to DIG DEEP to find out the Truth.

As deep as this page, for instance. Yes, one of those entries is by your faithful blogger! Enjoy it while you can, before I get into a snit and decide to pull the site down again.

Ta-ta for now!