Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Disturbing Trend

There's a song called "Kids" from the musical Bye-Bye Birdie. It asks, "What's the matter with kids today?"

The answer is "parents". It's bad enough that children can get amped up on candy after Halloween. (When parents don't regulate the amount the children may eat.) Now I see in the sale papers from stores that toys are now a "buy this for your children" item for Halloween. It's bad enough I see Christmas decorations in the stores already. We don't need another "buy me" holiday.

The simple answer to this new problem is not to become a sucker for the advertising and teach responsibility and moderation to your children. The easy answer is to blame the big corporations for not looking out for them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Night at the Opera

I did go to see Extinction: A Love Story last night. (See my 10/12/07 post.) I thought the set design was good (if a bit simple -- but they are dinosaurs, after all), the voices were very good, and the costumes were excellent. The songs aren't immediately catchy, but they are entertaining. ("Carnivores in Love" is a tango.)

The cast of six portrayed a professor and five graduate students, two of whom were vying for the attention of a third, and the other two (a brother & sister) were comic relief. ("Are you sure you're old enough to be college students?" the professor asked.) The love triangle uncover three dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus Rex (carnivore), a Hadrosaur (herbivore), and an Allosaurus (carnivore). The professor has gone off to chase the comics, so the two male students race each other to see who can tell him of their discovery first. Meanwhile, the female student lies on the ground, looking at the bones, trying to imagine why the Hadrosaur and Allosaurus appear to be holding hands while the Tyrannosaurus stands in front of them.

As the stage darkens, the scene changes to become 65 million years ago, "give or take 30,000 years". (Even the mountain backdrop changes from a good reproduction of the Organ Mountains to a volcano.) We see that Birdie & Brodie, the sister & brother, now portray sibling Ornithomimus, trying to pick certain rocks off the ground. Bob, the Hadrosaur, thinks that these rocks used to be living organisms and that the ground they walk on now used to be undersea. (He's very deep for a dinosaur.)

Bob is in love with Ally, the Allosaurus, and he even points out the constellation he named after her, but she can't see it. "My eyes aren't as good as yours," she explains. Tye, the Tyrannosaurus, is dating Ally (they are both carnivores, after all), and he can't understand why Ally seems to be attracted to Bob -- and not as lunch. Bob, on the other hand, is so smitten with Ally that he tries to be like her and eats some leftover prey that Tye presented to Ally. ("Haunch! You remembered!") Poor Bob can't keep it down, though. (When was the last time you laughed at someone vomiting?)

As a subplot, Bob meets Pen, an old Pentaceratops (the professor) who is one of the last of his species. It seems that they have the same views of evolution. Bob is more confident and assertive now, and he convinces Birdie & Brodie that evolving is better than staying the way they are (just because Tye is the biggest and baddest doesn't mean he always will be), and they spend the rest of the musical learning how to fly.

Bob confesses his love to Ally amid a meteor shower. ("I thought that one would hit us.") She is disturbed by her feelings for an herbivore, and Tye is livid. Bob tries to convince her that the future is uncertain because of evolution ("If it all ends tomorrow, life is beautiful today," is the recurring theme song) and that she should love him back. Alas, as they stand hand-in-hand by Tye, a meteorite does hit them.

Back in the present day, Ally the graduate student decides to give her feelings a try and asks Bob on a date. "There's a great steakhouse down the road." (laughter) "I'm a vegetarian." (bigger laughter)

The discussion of evolution had me thinking of the vast amount of time that it would take for one species to be replaced by another, and then by another. To a point, creation is a much more attractive concept because one doesn't have to imagine 65 million years (give or take 30,000) when one's life span is only about 80.

I also was distracted during the performance by realizing that it's nearly a year since my dad died. "If it all ends tomorrow, life is beautiful today," made me a bit bitter, wondering how "beautiful" my dad's last day with pancreatic cancer was. Instead, I ought to remember the full moon rising over the mountains still pink from the sunset as I walked from my car to the music hall. (The second stunning moonrise I've seen, and the second one where I was caught without a camera.)

I tend to be a stick in the mud. Can I take the message with me and live my life as if I won't have a second chance, or will I fossilize as I am? Will I try to learn how to fly like Brodie & Birdie? Will I stay the way I am, like Tye, or will I make a bold move like Bob?

Don't worry. Be happy.

I phoned my friend in San Diego on Wed. night. His house was 3 - 4 miles south of the Witch Fire, so they voluntarily evacuated (to his wife's family in Ensenada, Mexico). They had returned just 4 - 5 hours before I called, and as another matter of coincidence, one of his wife's friends called her cell phone at the exact same time I called his. He and his family are safe, and their house and belongings were undamaged.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Only at an Ag. College...

From a 10/24/07 NMSU press release:

NMSU Student Wins Award

Leticia Varelas, a sophomore at NMSU, received third place and was selected as one of the five National Beef Ambassadors at the 2008 National Beef Ambassador Competition held in New Orleans, La. Oct. 18-20. Varelas won with her presentation "An Agri-Carol: The Past, Present and Future of the
Beef Industry."

Twenty-one contestants from throughout the country vied for the national title and $5,000 in cash prizes sponsored exclusively by Tyson Foods, Inc.

Varelas is majoring in Agricultural Business and Economics and is involved in Block and Bridle, is a College of Agriculture and Home Economics Ambassador and is a member of the National Society of College Scholars.

The National Beef Ambassadors is a real thing, with its own web page.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eensy-weensy Spider

I just refilled my mug at the water fountain. There was a tiny spider sitting on the spigot. Do you suppose it never heard the nursery rhyme?

Retired Books

I took some old books to COAS yesterday. Some were my dad's. Half were rescued from the recycling bin at work. (If I could stick the pages back in with glue, why couldn't the library?) One was a Spanish translation of a book by Stanislavsky, the acting coach. (I have no talent for acting, even back when I was fluent in Spanish, so why did I hold on to the book this long?)

My first instinct was to sneak them into my friend Betty's house. After all, she has hundreds of books lining her walls already. She'll never notice a couple dozen more. That wouldn't be practical, though. I'd have to find out exactly where in Socorro her house is (ever since they added that stoplight, I get lost), and I'd also have to learn and practice breaking and entering. I might as well just give the books away.

I also thought that, if the bookstore doesn't accept some of the books, I can ask the library if they want them for their collection or for their monthly book sale. That plan fell through, as the only ones the bookstore didn't take were the "ex libs".

I was pleasantly surprised when the bookstore did accept my two old almanacs and an old comic book price guide. I guess dated material still can be resold. The odd thing was that the kids (college age employees) only looked at the cover and the first three or four pages, to determine if they would accept the books. They didn't take the library books because they were "all cut up". (A square of the dust jacket was removed, to indicate it was no longer in circulation, but the rest of the jacket, plastic included, as well as the hardcover and the insides were perfectly fine -- once I reglued the pages -- and readable.) However, a child could have taken a crayon to page 47, and they never would have noticed.

I feel guilty returning these books to the recycling bin -- but I did give them one last read, so my mind is eased a bit. Anyone want some old or not-so-old mysteries, cheap?


This is an update to my Mon. 10/22/07 post about the alleged gasoline theft. Yesterday afternoon, after being told by the client to "Handle it. Handle it." (Mayor Teddy Burnside in Carter Country), Ob and Sub finally met with the miscreant, and after the employee admitted stealing the gasoline, they finally phoned the campus police to report the theft. Wasn't that what I recommended way back on Friday, before my office was filled with gas fumes?

Here's an update to my update. As I was typing the above, the employee brought in his resignation letter. That's safer than being fired, plus Sub doesn't need to attempt typing a request for termination to the human resources office.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Sick of/at/by Work

Or at least feeling a little queasy.

Last Friday, I was informed of an incident on Thursday, in which one of our employees was seen (allegedly) filling the gas tank of his personal vehicle with a 5 gal. gas can from work. The incident was witnessed by two employees and documented by a supervisor. I phoned Boss to see if I could report this as theft to the campus police. Instead, he wanted Ob to take charge and phone the client.

Later in the day, the supervisor who documented the incident brought a plastic gas can into my office. He said he and the employee's supervisor found it in the storage unit the suspected employee shares with one coworker. Said coworker was brought in to look at the gas can. He said he had never seen it before. We use only metal gas cans, not plastic. Ergo, this can could be a piece of evidence. The gas can was concealed under my desk, since my office/printer/fax/copier room can be locked.

It is now late on Monday, three full days after the gas can came into my safekeeping. I have been inhaling fumes all day, with occasional breaks to go outside for fresh air. What's also contributing to my general lack of wellness is that Ob's oversight of the incident hasn't resulted in anything. Not only would have my idea gotten attention, it wouldn't have resulted in fumes permeating my brain.

How much do you want to bet that, when Boss returns to work tomorrow, he'll smell the gasoline fumes and bitch me out for not taking any action about the alleged theft? I'll reek of gasoline, and Ob will come out of it smelling like a rose.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Our full-time admin. assistant is leaving us to take another job. Similar to not speaking ill of the dead, I was saying good things to her, such as how everyone in our shop and even within the greater department will miss her, and avoiding all the irritations she will take with her, such as being on the phone constantly. She, in turn, told me that our office will still have a good rapport within the department because of me. "Everyone," she said, thinks I'm "so nice".



Every guy in America knows that "nice" is a euphemism for, "I'm never going to have sex with you."

I've been on this planet long enough to know that I'm cursed with it. Girls think I'm nice. Parents like and trust me. (There's a double whammy.) My grandmother's friends and acquaintances always thought I was handsome and wondered why they weren't 60 (or 70) years younger because I was just what they were looking for. (Ouch.)

On the one hand, I think putting "nice" on my headstone will haunt me the rest of my afterlife. (I imagine guys jogging through the cemetery, or history students perusing tombstones, or nearby mourners looking down on me and saying, "Poor slob. He never got laid.") On the other hand, what better legacy to leave for humanity than a reminder to be nice?

It might not be so bad after all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

I went to see the most recent Harry Potter movie last night. It was at the $2.50 theater (hmm, the price has risen four bits since last year), and I had a coupon, so it cost only a dollar. I thought the film was well worth the money I spent.

If you don't know already, you should strongly suspect that I dislike movies based on books because, in principle, the movies utterly ruin the books. The Harry Potter series is no exception.

First off, they cut out a lot. (What was the point of showing Kreacher at all?)

Second, I should have left after the first ten minutes. Either that, or I should have bumped the record player in my head. It kept skipping, and the needle was stuck on, "It didn't happen that way in the book!"

Third, England must be running out of actors/actresses known in the U.S. After Helena Bonham-Carter, who's left? (Side note to Betty: before the movie, they showed a preview for a children's fantasy movie whose name has something to do with a compass, and Derek Jacobi is in it. No promises about the quality of the movie, though.)

Fourth (and this is the bane of my movie-going life), the screenwriter (or director or producer or somebody) makes things up. What is the point of cutting out much of the book and then sticking in something that didn't happen?

Fifth, I am not a fan of action movies, but that scene in the Department of Mysteries was nowhere near as exciting on the theater screen as it was in my head.

Finally, I think that they could have afforded to include a lot more dialogue or some of the more subtle themes from the book if they hadn't spent so much on special effects.

The Harry Potter books were lauded because they got children to read. Many children don't need encouragement; they'll read anyway -- and they'll get far more enjoyment out of a book than they will out of a movie adaptation. Movies like this one are made for the video game generation: flashy and full of rapid scene or perspective changes (or just bad editing) but utterly lacking in content or plot.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Food for Thought

The other day, I decided to add an extra slice of lunchmeat to my sandwich, so I could use it up before it goes bad. As I enjoyed my amended meal, I pondered if increasing the size of my serving would be bad for me. How many more calories was I consuming? What if I had added a slice of bread?

One slice of ham (28 g.) has 25 calories.
One slice of wheat bread (26 g.) has 70 calories.

Strictly from a caloric standpoint, I was much safer adding a slice of ham than a slice of bread. It appears that, if one wanted to eat more with less concern over calories, making the sandwich bigger would be better than making a second sandwich.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dr. Teeth

On Saturday, I was assisting with Keep State Great, the annual fall community service day for NMSU student groups. One of the young women in my group was trying to remember the name of a Muppet, "the piano guy". "Do you mean Rowlf or Dr. Teeth?" I asked. "I forgot about that guy! Rowlf. I mean Rowlf." You might as well add The Muppets to my list of expertise in arcane, esoteric knowledge about childish entertainment.

Speaking of teeth and doctors.... (I'll never get tired of finding a good segueway.)

Last week, I had my biannual dental cleaning and checkup. It turns out that the reason my jawbones are receding from my teeth is because I apparently clench my teeth when I sleep. (Unlike other bones, according to the hygienist, jaw bones recede under pressure, rather than grow.) I don't think this process can be reversed, but they are going to fit me for a "night guard" to reduce the recession. Plus, the hygienist gave me a special brush with tiny, conical heads to clean the spaces between my teeth. I'm pleased that I can use it without causing pain or bleeding, but it dismays me that I have such gaps in the first place.

While we're on the subject of bones, let me tell you about a guy I met at the gym. He appears about 20 years older than I, but he is in phenomenal shape. He's not overweight, and he has great musculature. He's about my height, and he has all his hair (even if it is gray). Heck, I wouldn't mind being in such great shape now, let alone when I'm in my 50's!

I mentioned my admiration of this patron's apparent physical well-being with the gym's exercise specialist. It turns out that the man in question was quite an athlete in his younger days, hence why he is able to keep in such good shape. However (you should have suspected a "but"), he is about to go in for double hip replacement (both at one time) because the same athletic background apparently did a number on him. I guess every silver lining has a cloud.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's a mystery to me

It struck me again last night, as I watched the Inspector Lynley season finale on Mystery!, that most of the mysteries shown on that series are made in Great Britain. Why are there not any U.S. mysteries? Two Tony Hillerman novels were shown in the past few years, but no other Americans are included.

Mystery fans are as much a significant group as sci-fi fans. My mom even belongs to the Mystery Guild book club, and I'd like to see some of those authors' works made into TV episodes. I think the U.S. mystery fans need to write PBS and demand some home-grown mysteries be shown on TV.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I am not making this up.

The things people will think of....

‘Fossil’nating world premiere of Diven/Medoff musical collaboration

Bob Nosbisch
Oct. 9, 2007

This is not “Seven Brides for Seven Brontos.” It’s not “A Steg is Born.” And it’s not “Tricera(Top) Hat.”

noneBut it is the world premiere of “Extinction: A Love Story,” a musical about dinosaurs. Well-known Las Cruces artist Bob Diven wrote the book, lyrics and music. Mark Medoff, artistic director of New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI), and the Dona Ana Lyric Opera are producing the show with support from CMI and the NMSU Department of Music. Medoff, a Tony Award-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, says the show is for people of all ages - Cenozoic, Mesozoic, etc.

“Extinction: A Love Story” will be performed Oct. 25 through 28 at the NMSU Music Center Recital Hall.

The story is about six paleontologists who make a staggering discovery that takes them back to the last days of the dinosaurs where we find a story of love in the shadow of extinction. Through song, laughter, and some moving epiphanies, the audience learns how the huge animals were discovered in the New Mexico desert 65 million years after a meteorite struck the earth and the dinosaurs perished.

While you may not hear such songs as “Only (Fossil) Fuels Fall in Love,” Diven’s songs “Carnivores in Love,” “The Paleontologist’s Polka” and “Teeth” promise to enthrall the audience.

“This is a big evolution in my own artistic life – creating a theatrical work for others to perform,” Diven said. While calling the work “enormously challenging and exciting,” he emphasized the need to keep the work “entertaining and engaging to an audience, while at the same time containing detail that rewards the careful viewer.”

“Hence, I’ve underscored the drama of the play with solid science, consulting with New Mexico geologists and paleontologists,” Diven said.

Taking the audience on this “sedimental” journey is a six-member cast, called by Medoff “one of the best I’ve been involved with in Las Cruces in 40 years, a cast I could take anywhere in the country.”

The cast includes Jessica Medoff Bunchman, Mark’s daughter and a professional opera singer living in New York City, who earned her Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan; Isaac Quiroga, an NMSU alumnus and professional dancer, singer and choreographer, who earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from New York University; Ashley Foster, who also earned an MFA from New York University; and Ian Sidden, an NMSU graduate student in voice.

Local actor Brandon Brown, artistic director of lo-fi productions, teams with Foster to play a couple of ornithomimus, a genus of dinosaur characterized by long slender arms, a three-toed foot, a birdlike skull and a long neck. Fleetwood Mac may have sung “You Make Loving Fun,” but the duo of Brown and Foster make extinction fun.

“Brandon and Ashley will be our Two Stooges,” Medoff said.

Rounding out the cast is Richard Rundell, head of NMSU’s Department of Languages and Linguistics, as the last remaining pentaceratops, a dinosaur with an accurate if cynical view of evolution, as well as the leader of the present-day paleontologists who has to put up with a group of very bright, if puerile, graduate students.

Sets and costumes are by Deb Brunson, NMSU Department of Theatre Arts costume designer. Choreography is by Debra Knapp, an assistant professor and director of NMSU’s dance program. Lighting design is by Gerald Kottman, resident Dona Ana Lyric Opera technical director.

“All of the artists involved in making this happen are people I’ve worked with in the past, some for years,” Medoff said. “I respect each of them, as well as adore them as colleagues. We’re going to have a great time and that joy will translate to our audiences.”

Tickets for “Extinction: A Love Story” can be purchased by phone and picked up at the Recital Hall on performance night. Curtains are 7 p.m. Oct. 25, 8 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27, and 3 p.m. Oct. 28. Tickets can be bought at the Pan American Center box office at (505) 646-1420, through the F.Y.E. store in the Mesilla Valley Mall, or via Ticketmaster at (505) 532-2060 or


Photo is available at
CUTLINE: “Extinction: A Love Story” official promotional poster
(Artwork courtesy of Bob Diven)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Modern Maturity

On the plane returning home, I could peer between the seats and see that the woman sitting in front of my mother was reading a celebrity magazine. It happened to carry the headline/quotation by Ben Affleck (the only name I recognized out of all the pages she turned) that having children "matured" him. Well bully for him, but wouldn't it have been better if he had been mature before he impregnated someone?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


One of my employees saw me rock the copier toner cartridge this morning to get a few more copies out of it. As I went to fetch the new one from our storage room, he thought he'd try it himself. "You didn't tell me not to turn it over," he said when I returned. Yeah, and I didn't tell him to touch it in the first place, either.

He had created a rather attractive spill pattern of dry toner on the floor. Sub suggested that we photograph it and sell it as art. I would rather it appear on a clean background, rather than our multicolor floor tile, but art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

It struck me that I know mathematicians, physicists, engineers, and other scientific types, any of whom would be glad to explain the pattern to me numerically.


While exercising at the gym yesterday, I was pondering what my reaction would be to being placed inside the Total Perspective Vortex. I like to think that I am not egocentric and that I'd recognize myself as a miniscule speck in the entirety of the universe and emerge relatively unscathed.

Then, on the way home, I thought of what a line of hooey I had just fed myself. As much as I say that I usually think of others rather than myself, that sounds like bragging. A perfect example is all the mentions I've made about my father's death and how I felt about it and reacted to it. Sure, this is my blog, and it comes from my brain, but I do have two older brothers who lost their father, too. When have I ever told you how they feel, in conjunction with my ranting? Indeed, when have I ever asked them how they're dealing with it?

Man, I feel so humble right now.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pink Eye

The response was overwhelming. Everywhere I looked at the stadium, I saw pink. NMSU's student paper, The Round Up, had a front page photo of the football team in their pink socks. (I guess they wanted to prove that even burly, macho, football players can be Sensitive New Age Guys.) The story link has additional photos, including one of our mascot Pistol Pete wearing pink (nyuch).

For those readers who are as anal-retentive as I, note that the lyrics shown are slightly different than the version in the Dr. Demento 25th Anniversary Collection.

Where do I sign up?

While running an errand at the student union building this morning, I observed that one of the meeting rooms was reserved from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. for "NAPS".

Alas, it turns out that the room is being used by the North American Power Symposium.

Sports Nuts

Why are most of my male coworkers enthralled with (American) football? I see no appeal in watching men run into each other while working their way back and forth across a field. I prefer baseball or hockey (which may be back and forth, but on ice skates, and the game moves much faster). A lot of football fans I have talked to claim that baseball is "too slow". Oh, really? But they prefer to watch a game that lasts an hour on the clock but, with time outs and penalties and instant replays and commercials and... With football, you're stuck for three hours or more.

Worker Bee took his family to Phoenix this weekend to watch the Cardinals play the Steelers (his team). That sounds like a nice vacation, but it's so expensive. My dad took my brothers and me to Phillies and Flyers games as we grew up. Those tickets cost a lot less, possibly because there are more games to attend. (Fewer games in football means charging more for tickets.) Maybe that's why football is so hyped; they emphasize each game more because of its infrequency.

Now, in the spirit of humor on which this blog was founded, I hereby replace my gripe with the following.

Golfers have smooth, dimpled balls.
Bowlers have 18 pound balls.
Tennis players have fuzzy balls.
Basketball players have orange balls.
Baseball players have leather balls.
Soccer players have black & white balls.