Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Well Met in Yonkers

Today being a gorgeous summer day, and my day off, I decided to head across town to Lenoir Preserve, on the west side of the City of Y______. Feeling ambitious, I scrambled down a steep path that connects to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, and walked south to Shonnard Terrace, where I turned around. On my way back north, I met a handsome fellow on the trail:

I couldn't believe how bold this young stag was. By moving very slowly, shifting my weight to one foot, then gliding the other a few inches, and making no sudden moves, I was able to get to within about six feet of him:

I was close enough to him to see the glistening wetness of his nose, and the tarsal glands that will serve him during his rut.

At a certain point, I decided it was time to continue north and, because the stag was so uncharacteristically bold, I didn't want to turn my back on him. He and I circled each other warily, and as soon as I picked up my pace, he trotted a short distance away to watch warily. I had never gotten so close to a live, wild deer before.

When I got to sculpted lion south of Odell Ave, I decided that I would do some "exploring", and found a precipitous "goat path" that led, after a vault to the top of a four foot retaining wall, to Untermeyer Park, which deserves a blog post of its own. The pillars you can see in the background of the picture in my linked post are at the top of the narrow, steep path. Here's a view of the Aqueduct Trail from the park:

Having had enough scrambling uphill and down, I decided to walk through Untermyer Park, and its gorgeous gardens (the park gained a measure of infamy during the Son of Sam spree and resultant "Satanic Panic". The park is now known for its beautiful "Persian" gardens, and was occupied by some lovely, mainly elderly, garden aficianados. I must have made quite a contrast to them, a big, sweaty, grubby figure making his way to the exit.

A short walk up Broadway (the same Broadway that stretches from Lower Manhattan to the Canadian border) brought me back to Lenoir Preserve. The deer in the preserve were more shy than my friend from the Aqueduct Trail.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Keep F___ing that Chicken, Chickenhawk

There is a quote that is commonly attributed to Einstein, but which was probably originated by the author Rita Mae Brown in the 1980s: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." This quote perfectly describes the 40th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives.

Apparently, the GOP believes that that opposing Obamacare will help them in the 2014 midterm elections. It's a case of repeating the same failed policy, in the hope that it will help them pick up some congressional seats. Same... old... playbook. Oddly enough, FreedomWorks has an even more bizarre gambit to rally the opposition to Obamacare:

"We're trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange," said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic "Obamacare card" that college students can burn during campus protests.

I don't know how they expect to gin up the youth vote by replicating the social protests of the 1960s- seriously, I preferred Barack Obama to Hilary Clinton in 2008 precisely because I didn't want to see yet another election portrayed as a referendum on the Vietnam Era.

FreedomWorks actually treads on dangerous ground by having a campus protest that hearkens back to the burning of draft cards. Throughout the "War on Terror" era, College Republicans have been notoriously pro-war but anti-enlistment. College Republicans burning "Obamacare cards" on campus would only serve to remind other students that these young conservatives are a bunch of cowardly chickenhawks- a couple of "Yellow Elephant" posters in the background of these protests should send them skulking off in shame... if they had shame.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Another Passing, Way Too Young

Last week, Faye Hunter, the bassist/vocalist of the criminally undersung band Let's Active (led by legendary producer Mitch Easter), died at the age of 59, apparently by her own hand. Once again, we have lost an extremely talented individual who had received critical acclaim, but not mainstream success.

Ms Hunter's lovely voice and bass virtuosity are perhaps best showcased in the song A Room with a View:

Perhaps the band's best known song was Every Word Means No:

I don't know what challenges Ms Hunter faced, and have nothing profound to say about her circumstances, I merely wanted to help to ensure that her passing was not unsung. Ms Hunter brought a lot of joy to her fans, I imagine I'm not the only one to wish that her later days were filled with more joy.

Note: There is no such thing as too much joy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Burglary Suspect

"Yeah, I heard you, that's why I came. I understand you don't have a lawyer... you're just lucky that I was up and about at this ridiculous hour to bail you out."

"Look, I know you claim to be innocent, but you were picked up on private property wearing a ridiculous burglar mask, like something from a cheesy cartoon, or a fast food commercial. It's no wonder they were suspicious when they picked you up."

"Yeah, I know you didn't have any stolen goods on you, but you'll probably face a trespassing charge at the very least. What the hell were you doing on that property at that hour, wearing that mask?"

"What? Somebody told you there was a fancy masquerade there at that hour? Fool, remember that Cinderella had to leave the masquerade ball at midnight... those kind of parties don't start at midnight! Look, I think you were being set up... the real thief wanted you to be the patsy while he committed the crime. Judging from the items missing from the property, I immediately thought of a criminal who sorely vexed me for a long time... but he's been dead for two and a half years- unless he faked his death... but that only happens in bad movies."

"What? Never mind, you're free to go, and take off that ridiculous mask!"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bricolage is the Word of the Week

Last Tuesday, I I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see their "Punk" exhibit. One of the four aspects of the punk aesthetic expounded on in the exhibit was bricolage, the incorporation of "found" objects into art or material culture. Yesterday, I headed across town to the Hudson River Museum to check out the Fantasy River exhibit by Colombian artist Federico Uribe. Talk about a perfect example of bricolage! Here's a video in which the artist describes this exhibit:

While Uribe seems to disavow a larger political message, I found that his use of trash to create sculptures of plants and animals sent a message about consumption and its effects on the worldwide environment. The exhibit opened with a statement from Uribe and the museum staff. Uribe fashioned colorful birds from discarded shoes and a hippo from old computer keys. One of the most striking pieces was a sculpture of the head of a zebra fashioned from pencil stubs:

The sculpture of the zebra was incorporated into a wall mural of a zebra herd fashioned out of strips cut from bicycle tires:

In one of the trees sculpted from old books, I found a copy of the execrable Bobos in Paradise by the odious David Brooks. Finally, somebody found a use for this particular bit of crapola:

I hope my uproarious laughter didn't adversely affect the other museum visitors' viewing experience.

All told, the "Fantasy River" exhibit was a colorful, imaginative tour de force. Not only was it a bright fantasy landscape, but it forced the viewer to reconsider trash and consumption. We so often throw away unwanted goods in a cavalier fashion, with no thought of repurposing them. For another take on this aspect of the exhibit, the blog Everyday Trash has a nice piece, accompanied by a wonderful slideshow.

After taking in the exhibit, I headed north, over the border to Antoinette's, to get a cup of their mind-bogglingly good coffee, a sandwich and a brownie. It being a gorgeous day, I decided to eat my lunch in Lenoir Preserve, back over the Yonkers border, and to follow it up with a short stroll through the grounds. The Hudson peeked through the trees of the preserve at times, a real river even more beautiful and fantastic than the fantasy river in the museum.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Blast from My Corporate Past

Before heading in to work this afternoon, I decided to stop by a supermarket near my workplace to pick up a box of granola and a container of yogurt for a frugal dinner. As I was approaching the supermarket entrance, I recognized a former coworker of mine from my days working for a Fortune One Hundred corporation. I hadn't seen her in about ten years, but she looked like she hadn't aged a bit (for the record, she's an extraordinarily cute woman). She is still working for the same employer. We chatted for a good while, catching up on old coworkers, her children (one out of college and living in Queens, the other in his last year of college, studying sports medicine and physical/occupational therapy). We always got on well, and our impromptu reunion was very pleasant.

I am glad to say that I made my break from Corporate America and the attendant grind. I don't miss the office, I never had wacky adventures or grand vistas on the job. On my current job, I am never at a loss for material, it's not the "turned on the computer, got coffee, started pounding the keys" sort of slog I used to have. Sure, I work weekends and a lot of holidays, but I can't even complain about that.

Given how Corporate America has gotten even more toxic and predatory in the past decade, I don't think I'd ever go back.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Carlos Danger's Weiner

I live about four blocks north of the Bronx, so I am not eligible to vote in the upcoming NYC mayoral elections, but I do follow NYC politics, as the fate of the City of Y______ is inextricably intertwined with that of NYC. Personally, I prefer John Liu, the city's current comptroller, but this post is about Anthony Weiner. Yeah, Weiner... he was recently forced to admit that, even after the fallout from the Snapadickpic scandal abated, he was engaged in "sexting" with a young lady. Cazzo di merda, Weiner, these aren't even real sex scandals, they're just juvenile stunts... I mean, he blew his Congressional gig and his mayoral election, and he didn't even get off? Bill Clinton would've made sure he got his casbah rocked, but Weiner's just a wannabe.

The whole sordid Weiner tale just reeks of a weird combination of hubris and numbnuttery. Weiner has an attractive and accomplished wife, but he spends his free time sending sexually charged missives to young women that he meets online? Sheesh, I think he likes the power trip that he feels from stringing along women barely old enough to vote for him, but his self-preservation skills are a little underdeveloped. Seriously, the guy has impulse control issues, and his lack of judgment should render him unfit to be the mayor of Palookaville, much less the Big Apple. And really, "Carlos Danger" was his pseudonym? It sounds like a character from a rejected "Austin Powers" sequel. Couldn't he have used a more clever nickname, like Miles O'Toole, or Anthony Weiner?

I think that, after this grilling, Weiner is done. He really needs to seek help with his sexting problem. The New York City public certainly doesn't need this weiner running the show. Frankly, Weiner's wife should consider tossing him out on his buns.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Moshing at the Met?

Today was my day off, so I decided to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibit Punk: Chaos to Couture. While I enjoyed the exhibit, I have to say that it was a lot more "couture" than "chaos". Here's the press release for the exhibit.

The exhibit, situated on the second floor of the 'Met, started with a brief overview of punk's "Do It Yourself" aesthetic- an aesthetic born largely out of poverty, as slumming Lower East Siders in New York and working-class kids in England cobbled together distinctive looks out of worn clothing and found objects, forming a look which was calculated to shock middle-class sensibilities. One of the first displays featured a Vivienne Westwood designed red "parachute" tunic, paired with red bondage pants with a terrycloth drop seat. Ms Westwood, it must be noted, was one of the designers who shaped the English punk aesthetic in the 1970s, while running the boutique "SEX" with Malcolm McLaren, who went on to become the "Svengali" behind the Sex Pistols.

The next gallery focused more on the New York punk scene, including (hilariously) a mock-up of the men's bathroom of C.B.G.B.- thankfully, the exhibit did not replicate the hideous miasma which accompanied the original (let's face it, the club was a fetid hellhole, storied as it was). As there wasn't a single "fount" of fashion for the 1970's Lower East Side scenesters, this wasn't the most compelling portion of the show. The soundtrack of this part of the exhibit included snippets of such NYC classics as I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement.

Following on this was an exhibit of clothes sold at the various McLaren and Westwood run shops at 430 Kings Road, London. Among the infamous designs on display were the "Two Cowboys" shirt (modeled by Sid Vicious here), which was inspired by the gay fetish art of Tom of Finland, the "God Save the Queen" T-Shirt, and the "Tits" T-shirt (modeled by Steve Jones here). Additionally, there was a video filmed at the 430 King's Road shop featuring an individual completely encased in a latex bondage suit, complete with "gimp" mask. As an aside, Malcolm McLaren was fascinated by the topic of submission, and he asked the Sex Pistols to write a song about it, with hilarious results. The centerpiece of this area of the exhibit was a "compare and contrast" of the classic Westwood designs and contemporary designs inspired by the originals.

The next galleries explored four different aspects of the punk aesthetic, starting with "Hardware". This section started off with the safety pins, chains, and studs that adorned punk clothes. Johnny Rotten, in his typical blunt fashion, explained the provenance of the safety pin in punk fashion: “The arse of your pants falls out, you just use safety pins.” The exhibit featured designer clothes with gold faux safety pins, padlocks(Sid famously wore a padlock necklace), and studs.

The second aspect of the aesthetic that was explored was bricolage. This gallery featured plastic garbage- and shopping-bag dresses, and dresses made up to look like they were made out of newsprint. In this gallery, the sountrack featured snippets of Boredom by the Buzzcocks, New Rose by The Damned, and Identity by the X-Ray Spex.

The third aspect dwelt on was Graffiti and Agitprop, typified by the spray painted and stenciled jumpsuits worn by The Clash. Tragically, the soundtrack in this section of the exhibit was ambient music, no Mick, Joe, Paul, and Tory-or-Topper to be heard. Among the current examples in this section was Vivienne Westwood's "Climate Revolution" design.

The last facet of the punk aesthetic touched upon in this exhibit was titled "Destroy", and hinged on the ripped-and-reconstituted look necessitated by poverty (refer to Monsieur Rotten's quote about safety pins and the arse of his pants).

All told, I wanted to see more chaos and less couture, to hear more of the raucous music I love so well. The exhibit was good, but I probably wasn't the target audience. Anyway, here's a video featuring Vivienne Westwood in her salad days on the King's Cross Road:

It was nice to see the Met playing homage to punk, they have a heavy metal exhibit every day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

De-Extinction, on the Radio and in the Blogosphere

Today, NPR's Studio 360 featured a story on de-extinction, the "resurrection" of extinct animals using cloning or, in attempts to "revive" the recently extinct wild forebears of domesticated animals, back breeding.

Last month, "Just Alison" wrote an excellent article about the ethics of de-extinction on her indispensible Biodiversity Revolution blog. She concentrates on the "de-extinction" of the wooly mammoth, which has been proposed (mammoth DNA would be implanted in the ova of extant elephants). In their wonderful book Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger my friends Margaret and Michael (I swear, I'm not being biased, the book is great) touched on efforts to revive the thylacine by implanting DNA into the ova of Tasmanian devils.

I am somewhat torn on the issue of de-extinction. While it would be cool to have passenger pigeons or Carolina parakeets back, any "resurrected" species would be mere simulacra of the extinct species whose DNA (probably "repaired" in the lab due to degradation of the DNA in preserved specimens) their somatic cells bear (never mind the fact that they would have mitochondrial DNA from the ova of another species. More importantly, the factors that led to the extinction of these species (loss of habitat, competition from invasive species, harmful human activity) have not been rectified. Any "resurrected" species would probably be limited to a few "hothouse flowers" (and not the good kind) languishing in zoos or the private reserves of the wealthy (I could well imagine Dick Cheney paying some serious cash just so he could shoot a wooly mammoth). As Alison, and many others, have noted, efforts at de-extinction would consume resources better spent on conservation, on preventing the extinction of species that we are in danger of losing.

As nice as it would be to have some of the "charismatic fauna", mega or otherwise, be brought back from oblivion, you don't just get to call a mulligan on extinction. Atrocities and screw-ups happened, we have to own up to that fact and decide to become better stewards of the planet. Our own survival may very well hinge on it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Passing of a Storied Storyteller

The big news today was the death of celebrated journalist Helen Thomas. While Helen Thomas is largely known for breaking into a largely all-boys White House reporters' club in the 1960's, I remember her most fondly for her questioning of Bush 43's motives for invading Iraq:

Helen Thomas was also willing to lambaste the Obama administration's unquestioning support of Israeli policies:

Her comments about Israelis' presence in Palestine, considered extremely controversial, ultimately led to her firing. Personally, I think her comments were a bit extreme (her "Jews go home" bit was ill-advised), but the unquestioning support of continued settlement in the West Bank in the U.S. media is more pro-Likud than pro-Israel, and many Israelis question this policy.

At any rate, my fondest memory of Helen Thomas was her video with Stephen Colbert.

She was one of a kind, perspicacious, often prickly... I am pained to say that I think her like won't be seen again.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Roasting Like a Peanut

It's almost 11PM here in the NY metro area, and it's 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius). This afternoon, the temperature peaked at about 103 (39) degrees. Around the five o'clock hour, I got a laugh out of one of our visitors. This particular visitor, a girl of about twelve years of age, was in our visitors' center with an older youth (probably her brother) and an elderly couple (probably her grandparents). Her companions were taking their time, shopping for souvenirs, when she decided to step outside. She lasted about two seconds, then turned right back around, fanning herself with a brochure. Yeah, I know how you feel, young lady, I was feeling all sorts of melty when I got to work.

The real problem is the heat retention- the pavement just exudes heat even though the baleful sun set around 8PM. The central air conditioning in the building turned off right before sunset, though the interior is still somewhat cool. If I felt overheated, I'd just ensconce myself in the basement men's room, where the tile floor is bound to be cool. It hasn't come to that yet, and I get out of here in an hour.

If there's any consolation, it's the fact that the wild raspberries have finally ripened. One of my wonderful co-workers told me she got enough to bake a raspberry tart for a family get-together. She had hoped to have a slice remaining after the party, but the tart turned out so well that it didn't survive the night. That bodes well for the coming week's foraging. I also heard a couple of teenagers in the local coffee shop talk about picking raspberries, and I was happy to hear that the youth is hip to the whole foraging thing. I wonder how the kids would feel about stinging nettles...

Anyway, things could have been worse, it could have been exactly 92 degrees, a temperature at which people get irritable.

EDIT: Found a better version of the clip...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Car Woes

Today, I have a day off, and was basically hunkered down trying to cope with the outrageous heat that we are experiencing here in the City of Y______. It's flirting with triple digits, and the humidity provides for a heat index of about 105 degrees. Great... even I am having a bad hair day. I had been flirting with the idea of hitting the Hudson River Museum to see Federico Uribe's "Fantasy River" exhibit. Just before I was going to jump into a cool shower, I got a text message from a co-worker whose "check engine" light came on and her car was running rough, so she had to bring the car to her mechanic. I had to deal with that nonsense a few months ago, so I can totally empathize with her situation. Accordingly, I'm going to drag my sweaty ass to work so I can cover for her (can't leave good people in the lurch).

I have long maintained that the only thing worse than owning a car is not owning a car.

I don't know if Gary Numan would agree with me:

Oddly enough, I think the only song which sampled Gary Numan's "Cars" was a 1989 release by Cool G Rap and DJ Polo:

I remember "Cars" being ubiquitous the summer it was released, it received constant airplay. It's well-nigh inconceivable that the song hasn't been sampled more often.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Post-Lecture Recap: Tomato Surprise

Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for the latest Secret Science Club lecture, featuring Dr Zachary Lippman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Dr Lippman studies the flowers of tomatoes, applying basic plant biology to agriculture in order to determine how to improve yields. He characterized his efforts as using a bouquet of tomato flowers to feed the world. His interest in plant biology began with his quest to grow giant pumpkins, and he displayed a photo of himself showing off a 500lb pumpkin that he had grown.

The original wild tomato was characterized by tiny fruits. The first step in increasing the yield of tomato plants was breeding plants with larger fruits. By the time the Spaniards invaded the New World, the Native Americans had bred tomatoes similar in size to modern "beefsteak" tomatoes. One determinant of fruit size is the number of locules that the fruit possesses, and a process known as fasciation can effect the number of locules. Modern attempts to increase yields concentrate on increasing the number of inflorescences, clusters of flowers, that a plant has. A typical tomato plant has six to ten inflorescences.

Dr Lippman showed a couple of videos detailing tomato farming. He has grown tomatoes extensively in both Israel and on Long Island. Tomato plants are ideal for studying flowering because the flowers have both male and female sexual organs. In order to study fruits, crosses from different varieties are made- the male portion of the flower is removed, and artificial pollination is done with a tool modified from a dissection probe.

One key to studying genetics is determining what is "normal", and then studying mutants which deviate from the "norm". There are non-heritable mutations, known as somatic mutations- these occur after fertilization. As an example of a somatic mutation, Dr Lippman displayed a photo of a tomato fruit with a long "appendage" sticking out from it.

One factor which results in higher yields is the degree of branching in a plant- more branching means more fruits here's an article by Dr Lippman describing the effect of branching on tomato yields, specifically developing compound inflorescences. A protein known as "S protein" affects the degree of branching- S protein homozygosity results in high degree of branching but poor inflorescence and slower maturation, while S protein heterozygosity results in weaker branching but higher yields.

Flowering is a reiterative process, stem cells form structures called meristems- in the production of flowers, vegetative cells in the meristems transition to reproductive cells. Environmental cues (such as temperature and amount of light), as well as genetics effect flowering, and many genes and hormones are involved in flowering. Evolution is a master "tuner" of meristem regulation and inflorescence architecture.

Florigen is a protein produced in the leaves of a plant which triggers flowering. Another protein known as antiflorigen suppresses flower formation. The actual development of flowers depends on the ratio of these two substances. If anti-florigen is absent, the plant "self prunes"- there's a tension between florigen and antiflorigen, between vegetative growth and reproductive growth. In order to maximize yield, self-pruning must be delayed, if one copy of a florigen gene is "broken", the yield will be as much as 50% higher. Florigen heterozygosity combined with S heterozygosity provides for even higher yields.

Dr Norman Borlaug was one of the architects of the Green Revolution, which largely depended on mutations which resulted in plants of smaller stature but higher yield. Dr Lippman indicated that the breeding of even higher yield plants could result in a second green revolution.

In the Q&A, some bastard in the audience asked if polyploidy were a major factor in tomato genetics. As an aside, a lot of cabbage varieties and tetraploid (they have four sets of chromosomes) and wheat is hexaploid (it has six sets of chromosomes). Dr Lippman indicated that modern tomatoes are diploid, they only possess two sets of genes, but that polyploidy may have played a role in the development of domesticated tomatoes from their small, wild forebears- polyploids can undergo diploidization and revert to two sets of chromosomes.

This lecture was another fine production of the Secret Science Club. Dr Lippman not only provided great information about plant biology, but he provided a good overview of large-scale agriculture. It was a good reminder of where our food actually comes from. Here's a brief video introduction from Dr Lippman:

On an unrelated note, Bell House impresario, and Friend of the Bastard, Andy Templar (is that the coolest name ever?) gave me a sample of his Floyd's Kentucky Beer Cheese, specifically the bacon flavored variety. I give this "Product of Kentucky, Made in Brooklyn" two thumbs up- it was so good, it was practically sinful, and I'm not a churchly guy. Spread on day-old Italian bread, it made a really good quick meal after a long night of drinking and a tedious late-night subway ride. Seriously, people, get some. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chills in a City of Heat

Today is supposed to be a scorcher, even at four-thirty in the morning, it is warm and muggy out. You know it's horrible outside when I have a bad hair day. I'll be able to sleep for a while during the day's heat, but I'll be heading into the NYC hothouse to attend the latest Secret Science Club lecture. What better way to spend a scorching evening than sitting in the cool precincts of a hot club drinking a frosty beer? Throw in a bonus lecture, and you have a recipe for a good night.

Anyway, here's something cool for a hot, hot day- New Zealand's Chills (anything you ever wanted to know about the band is in this linked documentary, which was brought to my attention by gentleman and scholar Another Kiwi) have released their first single since the 90's, and it's wonderful:

Molten Gold continues the Chills' tradition of tip-top jangle pop. It's awfully cool to have them return to recording.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's July, Therefore... PURSLANE!!!

It's mid-July, and the Yonkers metro area is in the early stages of what's projected to be a week-long heat wave. I've been lucky, I've been working the graveyard shift, so it's relatively cool when I am out-and-about on the job. While I don't really thrive in the heat, it's wonderful for purslane, a subject which I blog about WAAAAAAY too often.

This morning, in the relatively cool 7AM hour, I picked a good sized bag of purslane in one of the on-site gardens. Purslane does extrememly well in hot conditions because it can switch from using typical C3 photosynthesis using the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism method. In wet periods, the stomata of the plant are open, and photosynthesis occurs using the C3 carbon fixation process, which involves a loss of water due to transpiration of up to 97%. During dry periods, the purslane plants can switch to CAM carbon fixation- the stomata are closed during the day, but open at night to take in carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide that is taken in during the night is stored as malic acid, so that photosynthesis can occur the following day. In the hot, dry months, purslane can take over a garden. As commenter "Cebtoo" wrote in response to commenter "GREENGIRL" question about how to grow purslane on the "Almost Turkish" blog put it:

To GREENGRL: Try to grow something else. Water once a week lightly. Everything else will die but your purslane will thrive with or without fertilizer, in sun or shade. Once you get some growing, break it up with a hoe. Spray it with broadleaf weed killer, it loves it. That's been my approach for years here in San Antonio and probably could grow 500 pounds or so in 100 square feet if I let it run wild.

My morning-picked purslane should be pretty strong flavored, being chock-full of malic acid, but I love the stuff. One columnist asks "weed it or eat it?" My answer to that is "YES!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Whither Killer?

I can't say I was overly surprised by the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman... I was mildly surprised that the jury did not reach a verdict of a lesser charge, such as manslaughter, but upon consideration, it was an all-white, six person jury living in a municipality that ran Jackie Robinson out of town for the crime of participating in spring training while being black.

The right-wing attitude towards George Zimmerman evolved over the course of the year since he shot Trayvon Martin. At first, the righties made a big deal about George Zimmerman being a Latino who registered as a Democrat, in a ham-fisted attempt to start a "Democrats are the real racists" dialogue (and to drive a wedge between Latinos and African-Americans). Eventually, though, their true feelings became apparent, and they embraced Zimmerman as a hero... after all, he lived every racist's dream, he killed a young black male for no reason (and now he's gotten away with it). Just about two years ago, right-wing radio bloviator Neal Boortz articulated the right-wing racist's fever dream:

This exhortation explicitly foreshadowed George Zimmerman's pursuit and slaying of Trayvon Martin. Martin's death by gunfire occurred in the context of ALEC sponsored "stand your ground" laws, which have resulted in a 300% rise in killings claimed to be "justifiable" in the state of Florida in the five years after the law was put in place. To my mind, "stand your ground" laws serve only to increase the lethality of fights- why injure someone, who can press charges against you, when you can kill him and claim self-defense? Without a need to retreat before using lethal methods of self-defense, you can initiate a hostile encounter with a kid, shoot him, and have the crime go largely uninvestigated (Martin's body lay in the morgue, labeled as a "John Doe" for three days after his mom filed a missing persons report. While Zimmerman's defense team did not use the "stand your ground" law as a defense, the police investigation of the killing did not proceed in a timely fashion because Zimmerman claimed the killing was justifiable and the police couldn't be bothered to arrest him.

With the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the right-wing blogosphere is salivating at the prospect of riots, to the extent that one Youtuber tried to pass the 2011 Vancouver hockey riots off as a Miami post-acquittal riot (the video has since been taken down). Why would right-wingers want such riots to occur? First of all, they want to be able to claim the moral high ground, to portray African-Americans as violence-prone thugs (Zimmerman's brother has already engaged in character assassination of the kid George killed). More alarmingly, the right-wingers desperately want riots to occur so they can live their George Zimmerman fantasy, to shoot African-Americans with impunity. The fact that the protests regarding this verdict have been peaceful must be galling to the right-wing nutjobs.

So, what of George Zimmerman now? I pretty much believe that the popular concept of karma (which is inaccurate, but that would be a blog post in and of itself) is nothing more than wishful thinking. Now that he has been acquitted, I believe that Zimmerman can look forward to a life on the wingnut welfare gravy train. I can see him getting speaking fees for addressing NRA conventions, and securing a stint as the keynote speaker for next year's CPAC. Fuck, I can even see Fox News bringing him on as a "self-defense" expert. George Zimmerman has passed into the status of folk hero (for a taste of his "heroic" status this is a bizarro exercise in mythmaking)... he pulled off the right-wing racist fantasy. As an added bonus, he can also be considered a "good" Latino who has escaped the "democrat plantation". Zimmerman has pretty much become a big hero in Wayne's world, a world largely motivated by spite, violent tendencies, and race-baiting. While the average human being may look on him with disgust, Zimmerman will make the transition from the swamps of central Florida to the wider fever-swamps of right wing celebrity.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spreading Scientific Literacy

So, I have a friend who is very smart, but whose scientific literacy is, like that of most Americans, sub-par. Thankfully, my mom insisted that all of us were readers, and she supplemented our learning with educational and enrichment trips... hikes, classes, trips to museums. We learned, and we learned to love learning.

My friend's scientific curiosity has been piqued recently by a recent fascination with Richard Dawkins (I don't have the heart to tell my friend that Dawkins is kinda an asshole). Now, one complication in my friend's learning process is that he's not much of a reader... he's an artist, and he learns visually. I've been trying to find decent science videos online to e-mail to him so he can absorb information in the fashion to which he's accustomed. It's funny though, one has to wade through each video in order to see if it's distorted by religious content or WOO!

Why am I bothering to go to such lengths to see to it that a friend of mine gets a belated grounding in the sciences? While I don't have my membership card on hand, I took an oath to spread scientific literacy. I'm stuck at work, but I'll dig up my card and copy down the oath... I swear an oath to do so.

UPDATE: Got my card... emblazoned on it is the following:

Big Bad Bald Bastard
And solemnly swears to uphold
the scientific method and
to advance the public understanding
of science throughout the Universe.

That's a pretty heavy burden, but it's a joy to shoulder it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mom's Birthday

As is customary, I want to take this day to acknowledge mom's birthday. I called her before work to wish her a happy birthday. She's doing well as always. Currently, she's cleaning up the house after a visit from my brother Gomez, whose in-laws all converged on mom's house as well. Mom put everybody up in her usual style, and a good time was had by all. Mom made sure that everybody took a side trip to D.C. to visit the various branches of the Smithsonian and Gomez' brother-in-law, a history buff who hadn't made the pilgrimage to D.C. before, was in his glory.

Mom has a knack for helping people to reach their potential, no matter whether we're talking about a kid involved in academic endeavors, or an adult taking a vacation with his family. I don't see her changing her attitude toward personal growth. Thanks for everything, mom, and best wishes on your birthday.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

You Mean, There Were Two of Them All Along?

This past weekend, there was a major fundraiser at one of my worksites. This week, the event is being "struck" (verb def. 19), so the crew has been feverishly working under some hot conditions punctuated by short, furious thunderstorms. The crew has been supplemented by four workers hired from a temp agency. While most of the crew members are familiar with the site, having worked here before, the temporary workers were all new to the site.

Around 7:30PM, the guys were breaking for dinner, and they all gathered at one spot to confer with the project manager. As it happened, Fred and Ginger were lounging together on a worktable. Seeing them together, one of the temps exclaimed, "That explains it... I thought I was going crazy. I'd see an orange and white cat run off to my right, then I'd turn left and see an orange and white cat. Now I realize there were two of them all along!"

I told the poor guy that, even though I'd worked with Fred and Ginger for years, they still confuse the hell out of me now and again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Day of Scholarly Leisure

Having the day off, and the weather being punishingly hot, I decided that I would spend this afternoon at one of my all-time favorite places, the American Museum of Natural History. My primary goal for this museum visit was to check out two of the special programs. The first of these programs was Whales: Giants of the Deep, which was presented in conjunction with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The second exhibit I checked out was Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture.

Since the exhibits had timed entry, I was a bit rushed through Whales: Giants of the Deep- I had a 12:30PM entry for "Whales" and a 1:30PM entry for "Our Global Kitchen". I'll tackle "Whales" in this post, and put up a post about "Our Global Kitchen" tomorrow.

The "Whales" exhibit, being produced by a museum from New Zealand, also explored Maori culture. The different video displays had Maori language options, and the big displays featured both English and Maori captions- for instance, "the whale lab" is Rangahau Tohorā in Maori. The exhibit opened with a film of various whales, from bottlenose dolphins to sperm whales, in their natural habitat. The exhibit then moved on to whale evolution. The first fossil on display was the skull of Andrewsarchus, and odd meat-eating even-toed hoofed mammal. While only the skull has been found, reconstructions of the animal based on its closest relatives indicate that it may have been 4 to 5 meters in length, which would make it the largest meat-eating terrestrial mammal ever found. Features of its anatomy indicate that it is a hoofed mammal, most closely related to the hippopotomuses and whales among living mammals.

I was next greeted by the skulls of two small, relatively advanced whales, the Oligocene-Miocene Squalodon and the Oligocene Waipatia. These skulls are significant becuase they show evidence of the emergence of modern skull features indicating the evolution of echolocation (particularly a groove in the jaw which probably aided in hearing). After this display, the exhibit "turned back the clock", and showed a nice progression of whale fossils. The most primitive whale ever discovered is Pakicetus, a collie-sized quadruped which was revealed to be an ancestral whale by the structure of its auditory bulla.

Next up was a skeletal reconstruction of Ambulocetus, and amphibious creature which probably had a lifestyle similar to that of a crocodilian. To get an idea of what Ambulocetus probably looked like, this painting by Carl Buell is top-notch.

The next skeleton on display was the small, amphibious whale Kutchicetus, which has been likened to an otter.

Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and Kutchicetus were all found in the India-Pakistan border region. In the Eocene epoch, to which these fossils date, this region formed part of the coast of the Tethys Ocean. The Eocene was marked by warm temperatures around the globe, and conditions conducive to the mammals' march to the sea to exploit its abundant food resources.

The next extinct whale on display was Dorudon, a Basilosaurid whale with a tiny pelvis decoupled from its spine, but trailing two tiny legs. Unlike Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and Kutchicetus, Dorudon probably was completely aquatic. Next to the Dorudon was displayed the skull of another Basilosaurid wale, Zygorhiza.

Moving on to modern whales, the first modern whale skeleton on display was that of a pygmy right whale, the smallest of the filter-feeding baleen whales. This display was quickly followed by a display of the skulls of various beaked whales. The beaked whales are rarely seen, but they display a wide variety of tooth configurations, with the dentition of the strap-toothed whale being particularly bizarre.

The centerpiece of the display was a pair of mounted sperm whale skeletons, with the skeleton of the male dwarfing that of the female. Also impressive was a life-sized replica of a blue whale's heart that children could climb inside. Additionally, there was a video simulation of the dive of a sperm whale (reconstructed from data from a whale-born transmitter), culminating in the almost-cliched battle between the whale and a giant squid.

The tail end of the exhibit was an exploration of human-whale relations, with a concentration on the role of the whale in Maori society. There was also a depiction of the early European whaling industry in New Zealand, and a grim display of the tools used to kill whales and to process their blubber into whale oil. I was a bit rushed for time, so I did not spend as much time as I wished in this part of the exhibit... I will return to spend some more time to the exhibit, museum membership has its perks.

After my museum trip, I took a subway ride home that was bookended by a pint at the Dublin House on 79th St and the Punch Bowl on 238th St- two old man bars, perfectly suited to a man of leisure like myself.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alien DNA

No, no, this post has nothing to do with the anniversary of the Roswell incident. For the record, I have no doubt in my mind that extraterrestrial life exists- the universe is so vast, I believe the incidence of alien life is inevitable, and, since the 90's the combination of the discover of extrasolarian planets (including three recently found earthlike planets) and the discovery of organisms that thrive in conditions that would kill off animal or plant life gives me enough confidence to trust my gut feeling.

I'm not talking about E.T.s or UFOs here, I'm talking about watching a couple of movies that influenced the horror/sci-fi movie Alien. I haven't seen Alien in years, but I finally got around to seeing the John Carpenter-directed movie Dark Star, which was written by, and starred Alien screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, who died in 2008. Dark Star is a blackly comedic science-fiction film about the crew of a spaceship sent on a twenty-year mission to seek and destroy unstable planets ahead of any efforts to colonize other solar systems:

One of the film's sequences involves the conflict between Sergeant Pinback (played by writer Dan O'Bannon) and a beach-ball shaped alien lifeform that he has taken aboard as a "mascot" for the mission. While the episode is largely played for dark, slapstick humor, it prefigures the movie Alien, in which the theme of a hunt for a hostile alien stowaway was extended to become a serious, and terrifying feature film. Dark Star also prefigures Alien in that the crew of the spaceship is portrayed as a bunch of working-stiffs, gradually losing their minds as their mission drags on, and shipboard malfunctions mount to a life-threatening degree. I wouldn't characterize Dark Star as a comedy per se, but it has its incredibly funny moments. The end of the movie is a downer, but it achieves a startling poignancy


I was particularly struck by the line uttered by the character Talby, who, upon hearing Doolittle exclaim that he's going to burn up in the atmosphere of the planet that he's falling toward, whispers, "When you hit the atmosphere, you'll start to burn... What a beautiful way to die, as a falling star." Damn, it was hard not to mist up hearing that. The other scene which I found extremely poignant (as well as eerie as hell) was when Doolittle, acting captain, consulted with the cryogenically frozen Commander Powell, who had fallen victim to a mishap- the captain's plaintive "I'm glad you could come to talk with me, Doolittle. It's been so long since anyone has come to talk with me." It was another surprisingly tender scene in this low-budget marvel of a movie.


I'd recommend Dark Star to any fans of the science-fiction genre, and fans of the Alien franchise in particular.

I also decided to watch Planet of the Vampires, originally titled Terrore Nello Spazio:

This low-budget horror/sci-fi film was directed by horror meister Mario Bava, whose dubious claim to fame was inventing the "slasher" film. Planet of the Vampires also has a couple of scenes which seem to have inspired Alien, specifically a scene involving the investigation of a an ancient derelict spacecraft. While the plot can be somewhat confusing at times, the set design is wonderfully eerie. The costume design is a hoot- the hapless crews of the spaceships stranded on the eponymous planet are decked out in tight-leather jumpsuits with high collars (only the crew of a spaceship in an Italian movie would be so fashionably turned out). The end of the movie was a surprise worthy of a film by M. Night Shabba Doo, although when I discovered the twist ending, I expected something more like the world-shaking revelation in Quatermass and the Pit.

Sure, there are other movies which inspired Alien, like It! The Terror from Beyond Space and The Thing from Another World, but there's only so much movie-watching a d00d can do, especially a d00d who's not too big on movies. At any rate, Dark Star is really a must-see for fans of science-fiction cinema (it's like the bizarro world 2001, with the only alien being a nasty, stupid beach ball, rather than a transcendent overseer of human evolution. Planet of the Vampires, while a fun movie, is best enjoyed by fans of the more pulpy Italian movies (Rossellini, it ain't), and people who are into the leather scene.

Of course, major fans of Alien should watch both of these films.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Got that Melty Feeling

For the third day running, we're having a heat wave here in the NY Metro area. There's a heat advisory in effect from Noon until 8PM. Luckily, I've been working the graveyard shift lately, so I have been avoiding the worst effects of the heat. The period from 5AM to 8AM is the most beautiful time of day this time of year.

Sadly, I have to return to work this afternoon at 4PM... yeah, it's one of those days, out by 8AM, back by 4PM. We're in the middle of a major summer fundraiser, and my department is stretched to the limit (my co-worker **REDACTED** is doing a heroic job, working in the most brutal heat of the day, and I am extremely grateful that she is a superwoman). My usual line is that the job is cushy, except when it's not, and today falls into the "not" category.

I know I posted a video for Too Hot by The Specials, but I found a live 2011 version by a reunited band:

Singers Terry Hall and Neville Staples sound good, and the interplay of vocals is as tight as ever. Nice to see them still performing.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Creepily Prescient!

This post is inspired by OBS's latest post, about watching a documentary about METAL GAWDS Iron Maiden. I was never into Maiden as a high-schooler, entirely due to stupid teenage tribalism... I was a punk, not a metalhead. Foolish, I know, hardcore punk and thrash metal would be virtually indistinguishable to a disinterested listener. My great and good friend J-Co was a big Maiden fan, and he put a couple of their songs on a mixtape he made me (remember when kids did that and it destroyed the recording industry?). Funny, Maiden was pretty much nerd metal, with its references to Coleridge, Frank Herbert, and The Crimean War (hilariously, the linked video was preceded by an ad for Coors Light in Spanish and accompanied by an ad for a Taylor Swift release). Yeah, my Iron Maiden prejudice was pretty much baseless, and could be chalked up to youthful foolishness.

J-Co, being a huge Iron Maiden fan, and an inveterate collector of music, also had not one, but two of Bruce Dickinson's solo albums. Cyclops, a particular song from Bruce's second album, was written about paparazzi, but it could be equally applied to our modern surveillance society:

We all have secret lives
In our secret rooms
Living in our movies
Humming our own tunes

Living life in camera
When the night is closing down
Sliding into darkness
You could be like me

Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Why are you looking
At the camera's eye?

Where are you staying?
Why are you leaving?
We watch you breathing
Through the camera's eye

Blast it, the contractors monitoring the web for the NSA have a right to rock out on the job:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fabulous Fossil Finds

I was happy as a clam when I saw bit on the BBC website about fossil finds in Wyoming that detail the early explosion of mammal species after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Further poking around the t00bz uncovered an interview on Chicago Tonight with Dr Lance Grande of the Field Museum, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois. In the course of the interview, Dr Grande displays some gorgeously preserved fossils:

I am especially intrigued by the bird fossils which show the early evolution of parrots and the hummingbird/swift divergence. Also fascinating to me are the fossils of long-tailed, day flying bats and a carnivore with the earliest appearance of a prehensile tail.

Dr Grande's book, The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time, looks gorgeous. Hopefully, he'll be conducting a book tour that will bring him the NYC in the near future... I know some people who'd want to have a word with him.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Here's wishing a happy Independence Day to all of my U.S. readers, and hoping that all of my foreign readers enjoy a pleasant July 4.

One thing that all liberals should strive for is the reclamation of the word "liberty". Tragically, the word has been co-opted by creepy authoritarians who seek to erode the civil liberties of any Americans who do not adhere to their draconian code of conduct, and corporatists who seek to remove any barriers to the complete dominance of American society by multinational corporations that are answerable only to the oligarchs. It is a sad, sad thing that the word "liberty" in the name of an organization is a red flag.

The domestic struggles of the 20th century, the struggles for civil rights for minorities and women, demonstrated that a strong federal government is the best guarantor of individual liberties. The bad legislation being put forth in states such as Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina underscores the reality that local and state governments really can't be trusted to safeguard liberty for all residents, not merely straight, white males who adhere to certain sects of a certain religion.

Time to take "liberty" back from those who have been distorting it. That being said, by all means take today off, even a liberal firebrand needs to kick back with a cold beer and a hot dog every once in a while.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

150 Years Ago: TiDoS Tide Turned

Today marks the 150th anniversary of Pickett's Charge, a disastrous infantry push by the Confederate army during the Battle of Gettysburg in which the traitorous forces of the CSA reached their furthest extent north- the High Water Mark of the Confederacy. The failure of Pickett's charge to dislodge the Union troops holding Cemetery Ridge marked the turn of the TiDoS tide, the last real hope for a feudalistic system to survive in a nation founded on Enlightenment principles.

Apologists for the Confederacy try to console themselves with the lie of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, and have characterized their failed rebellion as the War of Northern Aggression (even though southerners fired the first shots). Make no mistake, though, this is one war in which the "bad guys" are clearly evident- to underscore how awful the Confederates were, their army seized free blacks and brought them back to the slave markets of the South during their foray into Pennsylvania.

The plantation system was a vestige of the feudal system which had no business surviving in a nation which had a foundational document which stated that all men are created equal. The institution of slavery, along with the extirpation of the native population, was a congenital defect which marred the nation, and from which the nation is still recovering. The Battle of Gettysburg, in which the failed Pickett's Charge spelled the ultimate doom of the Confederate war effort, was merely the beginning of the end of the ills of the Confederacy. Tragically, the struggle still continues, as the forces of patriarchal authoritarianism continue to fight to regain ground in former states of the Confederacy. The Civil War didn't really end in the South, it merely became a cold war, largely forgotten by northerners, many of us (like myself) the descendants of people who emigrated to the U.S. well after the end of the war. We ignore the continuing cold war being fought on our soil at our peril. Dammit, the Union one the war so handily, the Confederacy surrendered unconditionally- why are we still allowing manifestations of the Confederacy to pop up?

This post, which may seem a bit intemperate, was inspired by a call into the NPR show On Point in which a North Carolinian referred to the Confederate army as "we" and showed resentment that Pickett's Charge was not known as Pettigrew's Charge, as it is in North Carolina. If I could have smacked this guy through the airwaves, I would have done so- what kind of pathetic creepazoid not only identifies with an unjust, failed cause, but also with a poorly planned, poorly executed disaster of a military maneuver.

I refuse to be nice when that sort of idiocy is on display.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Secret Science Supplemental: Fruit Flies in Focus

Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for a Secret Science Club event that featured a film clip and a discussion of fruit flies by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories neuroscientist Dr Josh Dubnau. Dr Dubnau studies neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and temporal lobe dementia using fruit flies as a lab subject. Dr Dubnau likened Drosophila melanogaster to the genetic Swiss army knife- they have been the go-to organism used to study genetics for about a century.

Drosophila is a good lab subject because it has manipulable genes and manipulable neurons. Flybase is a database of Drosophila genetics and Flycircuit is a database of Drosophila neurons. Enhancer traps are inserted into the genome of a subject to produce genetic markers, with the GAL4 gene (obtained from yeast) being commonly inserted in Drosophila.

Dr Dubnau made a humorous comparison between Drosophila behavior and human behavior, noting that Drosophila was highly motivated to mate with opposite sex parters (and sometimes with same-sex partners, most appropriate for a Pride Day lecture), and that they enjoyed alcohol (with unsuccessfully mating flies seeking out alcohol after their amatory failure). Those little flies are enough like us genetically and behaviorally to make good models for human genetics and neurology.

Dr Dubnau then went on to discuss the role of transposons or "jumping genes". Transposons were first described by Dr Barbara McClintock, who, while researching the genetics of corn (Zea mays), discovered that there were genes which could change locations on a chromosome, and such changes in location could alter the expression of nearby genes. She was specifically describing the genes which control the pigmentation of corn kernels. McClintock originally described these "jumping genes" as "controlling elements" because she hypothesized that these movable genes regulated development. In humans, about 44% of the genome is composed of transposons.

In Drosophila, transposons have been implicated in intra-specific infertility among two strains of flies (the Harwich and Canton-S populations- Harwich males mating with Canton-S females would result in a lack of fertility)- in the Q&A session, some bastard in the audience asked Dr Dubnau about the role of transposons in speciation, and Dr Dubnau responded that they probably played a major role in the inability of populations to mate successfully, thus leading to a "separation".

Dr Dubnau then moved on to the topic of fruit fly neurology, and his specialty, the study of neurological degenerative diseases. Structures in the fruit fly brain, the mushroom bodies are connected to olfactory learning and memory. Dr Dubnau showed us a video of flies which had been subjected to a mild electric shock while being exposed to a particular fragrance. They learned to associate the fragrance with the shock, so continued exposure to that fragrance would cause them to behave so that they would avoid an expected shock. The flies are then put in a T-maze and subjected to different odors... here's a video featuring Dr Dubnau, explaining this experiment:

Neurological damage may result from a "storm of tansposons", with the accumulation of a protein called TDP-43 playing a role in ALS. In patients with neurodegenerative diseases, these transposons avoid the regulatory affects of piwi-interacting RNA, which "tamps down" transposons.

Besides Dr Dubnau's lecture, the 1910 short film The Acrobatic Fly was shown:

The main news of the night, though, came from Friend of the Bastard Dr Alexis Gambis, who announced that he has finished filming his first feature film, The Fly Room. He will be spending the next few months editing the film, and hopes to shop it around to the major film festivals. The Fly Room will tell the tale of pioneering geneticist Calvin Bridges through the eyes of his daughter Betsey (who, **SPOILER ALERT** makes an appearance in the film). In discussing the film shoot, Dr Gambis told me that filming took place in upstate New York during the emergence of the 17-year cicada brood so, appropriately, **SPOILER ALERT**, insects make their presence known in the film.

All told, it was a great night, and the news of Dr Gambis' first feature film has me overjoyed. I always love to see the good guys succeed and Dr Gambis (who I have known since 2006, before he was a Doktor) is one of the goodest of good guys. Here's video of a TED talk that Dr Gambis gave back in 2011, so you can get an idea of where he's coming from:

Rest assured, I'm going to make it to the theater when The Fly Room is released. GO DR GAMBIS!!!