Gun nuts = geeks.


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As a lifelong geek, this is a painful realization for me – but I’ve come to conclude that almost all gun fanciers are geeks too. They fit the classic definition: they are very knowledgeable and fascinated, even to the point of obsession, about the topic of their obsession and all its minutae.

“You referred to that bullet as a 94-XX-5, when it is plainly a 94-XX-6. Therefore your observation is invalid.”

They of course would be horrified if someone pointed out their geekitude to them. While I and most of the geeks I know embrace the label joyfully, they don’t see themselves as geeks. They see themselves as Rambo crossed with Serpico crossed with Jack Bauer crossed with Chuck Norris. But they fit every aspect of the geek profile.

The realization troubles me too, though. Because indifference to the mayhem, suffering, bloodshed, and death that accompany the focus of their passion seems to violate some kind of unwrittten geek rule.

Gun owners: accept that you are geeks, and show some compassion for the victims. Just my .02.

What’cha doin’ Tuesday evening?

headphonesWell, be sure to be online at 8 pm central time to hear the latest installment of “Two Music Geeks”! I’ll team up with the one and only Alan Haber from Pure Pop Radio to bring you a session about our very favorite topic – “Songs About Girls.” Hear some hits, some lost oldies, and some soon-to-be-favorites – along with factiods, opinions, and general music geekery.

Join us, won’t you? That’s this Tuesday, May 13th – 8 pm central time – at Pure Pop Radio!

Re-geekin’ the 902: Canada is penniless

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Last time around I wrote about the Canadian loonies and toonies, and how much sense they make. On this visit I learned that Canada made another sensible currency decision: it’s eliminated the penny.

Last year the Canadian government decided to get rid of the penny, and the Canadian mint produced the last ones. This past February the last shipment of pennies was sent into circulation. As with the phase-out of paper $1s and $2s, the mint will collect pennies as they arrive and remove them from circulation. Click here for more.

Re-rockin’ the 902: Scandinavians in Cape Breton?

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First full day of vacation. Slept in late. I needed it, plus I kept waking up to look at the clock and automatically subtracting two hours. “It’s only 6:30 back home; I can sleep longer.” Read the rest of this entry »

Six Questions About Six Songs

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A while back I referenced the awesome blog Lucy’s Football. Somewhat more recently I invited genial blogger Amy to participate in the Soundtrack Of Your Life Game. She graciously declined. But today she tossed out a discussion topic, sort of a short-form of the Soundtrack Of Your Life: Six Questions About Six Songs. Spurred on by this article on the NPR website.

Think back over the soundtrack to your life. Those songs you heard in grade school and church, on first dates and at dances, in college dorms and convertibles, at weddings and graduations — it’s all part of your musical makeup.
The categories, in the form of questions, are:

  • What was the first song you ever bought?
  • What song always gets you dancing?
  • What song takes you back to your childhood?
  • What is your perfect love song?
  • What song would you want at your funeral?
  • Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you.

Naturally I’m all over this. You can come and play too. You should.

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The first song I ever bought: When I was six I asked my parents to buy me the 45 of “Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric. But the first record I bought with money out of my own pocket was an LP, “More Of The Monkees.” My favorite song on that album is “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” so I guess that would qualify.

The song that always gets me dancing: I don’t dance much; it’s an introvert thing. But a good swing song will often coax me onto the dance floor. One that always gets me is “Jump Jive and Wail” by Louis Prima, Keely Smith, and Sam Butera and The Witnesses.

The song that takes me back to my childhood: There was always music playing in my early days. It was the pre-Beatle ’60s, and my family loved to sing in the car, so we heard a lot of singable folk songs: Peter Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, and The Brothers Four. Yo ho ho!

My “perfect” love song: Not what you’d expect. It’s foolhardy, reckless, and potentially devastating not to protect your heart, to give it away too quickly.  At the same time it’s equally foolhardy not to risk your heart, to be too passive and guarded. Laura Cantrell captures this dilemma perfectly in “Little Bit Of You.”

The song I want at my funeral: I’d actually given this some prior thought. “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn.

One last song that makes me, me(?): I didn’t like the question, didn’t agree with the premise, so I picked a song that sums up where life has led me. When Bob Dylan wrote and recorded “My Back Pages” in 1964, he was tired of being The Voice Of The Protest Movement ™. He’d discovered that young “free-thinkers” were often as intractable and unrelenting as the older generation they decried. The conventional wisdom is that peoples’ thoughts calcify as they age; Dylan discovered that younger people can be susceptible to the same thing. He started to question things he’d come to accept as truth, and realized that dogma is rigid and limiting no matter what age you are. I can relate to that.

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Roger McGuinn’s jangly 12-string guitar still sounds right to me on The Byrds’ 1967 hit version: while Dylan’s original sounds poignant and wounded, the Byrds’ version sounds transcendent and a little bit trippy.

This is from a 1992 show at Madison Square Garden, commemorating the 30th anniversary of Dylan’s first album release. McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob himself, and George Harrison all sing verses.

O’Donnell’s Cartoon Laws of Motion by Mark O’Donnell

If you’ve known me any length of time, you know that I am a knowledgeable and devoted follower of almost all animation: a/k/a a cartoon geek. You know that even if you haven’t met me, but have spent a little time wandering around on this blog.

I enjoy cartoons. Flat-out funny, brilliant, erudite, or crude, I dig almost all of them. I say “almost” because some of them make my skin crawl and set my teeth on edge: “Calliou” and “Rugrats” come to mind. I lean toward “classic” animation, but also admire the skill involved with computer-generated cartoons. And when the two are melded together, the results can be amazing: “The Iron Giant” is a brilliant example.

Yes, I’ve often told people that I can’t tell them the first thing about trigonometry or applied chemistry but I can go on for hours about “Looney Tunes.” The following article was written by a very funny man named Mark O’Donnell, and published in the very back page of the June 1980 edition of Esquire magazine. I photocopied that page at the library and kept it for many years, until it eventually got lost in a move. Fortunately, other cartoon geeks have posted it in several places here on the Intertubes and have riffed on it to add their own laws. Enjoy.

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O”Donnell’s Cartoon Laws Of Motion

1. Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.

Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of “32-feet-per-second-per-second” takes over.

2. Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly.

Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the “stooge’s surcease.”

Coyote Wall

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3. Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.

Also called the “silhouette of passage,” this phenomenon is the specialty of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks, or matrimony, often catalyzes this reaction.

4. The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.

Such an object is inevitably priceless; the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.


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5. All principles of gravity are negated by fear.

Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth’s surface. A spooky noise or an adversary’s signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole. The feet of a character that is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.

6. As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.

This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character’s head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled. A “wacky” character has the option of self-replication only at manic high speeds, and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.

7. Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot.

This trompe l’oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall’s surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space. The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.

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8. Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.

Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives might comfortably afford. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self-pity they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify.

9. Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Examples too numerous to mention from the Road Runner cartoons.

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10. For every vengeance, there is an equal and opposite re-vengeance.

This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of watching it happen to a duck instead.

A while back I geeked out about Canadian loonies and toonies.

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I pondered why the US Mint doesn’t make a serious effort to follow suit. Well, I don’t know if anyone at the Mint reads this blog, but get a load of this from

Congress Considers Doing Away With The $1 Bill

American consumers have shown about as much appetite for the $1 coin as kids do their spinach. They may not know what’s best for them either. Congressional auditors say doing away with dollar bills entirely and replacing them with dollar coins could save taxpayers some $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.

The latest projection from the Government Accountability Office on the potential savings from switching to dollar coins entirely comes as lawmakers begin exploring new ways for the government to save money by changing the money itself.

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The GAO’s Lorelei St. James told the House Financial Services panel it would take several years for the benefits of switching from paper bills to dollar coins to catch up with the cost of making the change. Equipment would have to be bought or overhauled and more coins would have to be produced upfront to replace bills as they are taken out of circulation.But over the years, the savings would begin to accrue, she said, largely because a $1 coin could stay in circulation for 30 years while paper bills have to be replaced every four or five years on average.

“We continue to believe that replacing the note with a coin is likely to provide a financial benefit to the government,” said St. James, who added that such a change would work only if the note was completely eliminated and the public educated about the benefits of the switch.

Philip Diehl, former director of the Mint, said there was a huge demand for the Sacagawea dollar coin when production began in 2001, but as time wore on, people stayed with what they knew best.

“We’ve never bitten the bullet to remove the $1 bill as every other Western economy has done,” Diehl said. “If you did, it would have the same success the Canadians have had.”

Beverly Lepine, chief operating officer of the Royal Canadian Mint, said her country loves its “Loonie,” the nickname for the $1 coin that includes an image of a loon on the back. The switch went over so well that the country also went to a $2 coin called the “Toonie.”

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., affirmed that Canadians have embraced their dollar coins. “I don’t know anyone who would go back to the $1 and $2 bills,” he said.

Quote of the day

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“I used to think my brain was my most important organ. But then I thought: wait a minute, who’s telling me that?” – Emo Philips


The Soundtrack Of Your Life game, part I

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This game is music geek heaven. I’m one, and so are many of my friends and family. So I sent this message to several of them:

The rules are simple. They’re making a movie of your life, and they’ve asked you to pick the songs for the soundtrack. All you need to do is list a song for each category below. Be creative. Explain your choices if you choose.

The categories are:

Opening Credits
Waking Up Scene
Average Day Scene
Buddy/Sidekick Scene
First Date Scene
Falling In Love Scene
Love Scene
Fight Scene
Breaking Up Scene
Getting Back Together Scene
Secret Love Scene
Life’s Okay Scene
Mental Breakdown Scene
Driving A Car Scene
Learning A Lesson Scene
Deep Thought Scene
Flashback Scene
Partying Scene
Happy Dance Scene
Getting Shitfaced Scene
Regretfulness Scene
Hitting Bottom Scene
Long Night Alone Scene
Death Scene
Closing Credits

Gallantly I offered to show mine first:

Opening Credits: “Try To Make It” by Sloan
Waking Up: “Got The Time” by Joe Jackson
Average Day: “New Slang” by The Shins
Buddy/Sidekick: “Two Of Us” by The Beatles
First Date: “Little Bit Of You” by Laura Cantrell
Falling In Love: “My Lucky Day” by The Smoking Popes
Love: “Sea Of No Cares” by Great Big Sea
Fight: “If She Knew What She Wants” by The Bangles
Breaking Up: “Someplace Love Can’t Find Me” by Marshall Crenshaw
Getting Back Together: “I Will Hold On” by Moxy Früvous
Secret Love: “Searching For A Heart” by Warren Zevon
Life’s Okay: “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” by Buzzcocks
Mental Breakdown: “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness” by Nanci Griffith
Driving A Car: “Movin’ On” by The Rankin Family
Learning A Lesson: “All The Things To Do When She Says No” by Eytan Mirsky
Deep Thought: “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie
Flashback: “My Back Pages” by The Byrds
Partying: “Eagle Rock” by Daddy Cool
Happy Dance: “Banana Chips” by Shonen Knife
Getting Shitfaced: “I Got Stoned And I Missed It” by Shel Silverstein
Regretfulness: “Sad Sound Of The Wind” by Jules Shear
Hitting Bottom: “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” by Bob Dylan
Long Night Alone: “Hold On Hope” by Guided By Voices
Death: “The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes” by Elvis Costello
Closing Credits: “All The Way Home” by Dry Bones

Slowly, responses began trickling in. My friend Laura, creator of the excellent blog My Life As A Slinky, offered hers with comments:

Opening Credits: “Blues Power” by Eric Clapton and Leon Russell
Waking Up: “Boogie Down” by Al Jarreau
Average Day: “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat And Tears
Buddy/Sidekick: “Moanin'” by Charles Mingus
First Date: “You Just May Be The One” by The Monkees
Falling In Love: “Nice And Easy” by Frank Sinatra
Love: “As” by Stevie Wonder
Fight: “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” by Spin Doctors
Breaking Up: “Unchain My Heart” by Joe Cocker
Getting Back Together: “Dance Me To The End Of Love” by Leonard Cohen
Secret Love: “Howlin’ For You” by The Black Keys
Life’s Okay: “Have A Talk With God” by Stevie Wonder
Mental Breakdown: “St. Matthew” by Michael Nesmith
Driving A Car: “Baba O’Riley” by The Who (“just because it’s a kickass song”)
Learning A Lesson: “The Ugly Duckling” by Danny Kaye
Deep Thought: “Let It Be” by The Beatles
Flashback: “Cherry Bomb” by John Mellencamp
Partying: “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin (“I’d be singing it!”)
Happy Dance: “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” by Scissor Sisters
Getting Shitfaced: “Let’s Go Get Stoned” by Joe Cocker
Regretfulness: “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan
Hitting Bottom: “God Bless The Child” by Ella Fitzgerald (“it’s got to be Ella’s version”)
Long Night Alone: “Black Coffee” by Rita Coolidge
Death: “Gone At Last” by Paul Simon and Phoebe Snow
Closing Credits: “The Weight” by The Band

I’ve known my friend Cindy since we were in grade 7, back when Lyndon Johnson was President. So we definitely share some musical tastes. Curious though that neither of us featured Jim Croce or Gordon Lightfoot or Gerry Rafferty in our lists.

Opening Credits: “Ode To Joy” by Ludwig van Beethoven
Waking Up: “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens
Average Day: “Ordinary Day” by Great Big Sea
Buddy/Sidekick: “One Friend” by Dan Seals
First Date: “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
Falling In Love: “Gone Too Far” by England Dan and John Ford Coley
Love: “By The Time This Night Is Over” by Kenny G
Fight: “No Surprise” by Daughtry
Breaking Up: “Almost There” by The Swift
Getting Back Together: “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by Dan Seals
Secret Love: “To Love Somebody” by Blue Rodeo
Life’s Okay: “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” by George Winston
Mental Breakdown: “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.
Driving A Car: “I Walk The Line” by Rodney Crowell
Learning A Lesson: “Forty Days And Forty Nights” by The Rankin Family
Deep Thought: “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks
Flashback: “You Should Have Been There” by Marshall Crenshaw
Partying: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Happy Dance: “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp
Getting Shitfaced: “Me And The Moon” by Gaelic Storm
Regretfulness: “Mellow Doubt” by Teenage Fanclub
Hitting Bottom: “Drifter” by Decemberadio
Long Night Alone: “Far Away” by Nickelback
Death: “Fly Away” by John Denver and Olivia Newton-John
Closing Credits: “Looking For Space” by John Denver

My friend Ann gently nudged the categories, to good effect. She melded two of them together, and added the “Plucky Single Mom Scene.” She also suggested we turn these into playlists and post them on Spotify.

Opening Credits: “That Don’t Make It Junk” by Leonard Cohen
Waking Up: “Bright Light Of Day” by Anne McCue
Average Day: “The Best Day” by Atmosphere
Buddy/Sidekick: “Summer Of Drugs” by Victoria Williams
First Date: “Pressure Drop” by Toots and the Maytals
Falling In Love: “Fearless Heart” by Steve Earle
Love: “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads
Fight: “I Don’t Like You” by Stiff Little Fingers
Breaking Up: “Let Him Fly” by Patty Griffin
Getting Back Together: “Mineshaft 2” by Dessa
Secret Love: “Knapsack” by Amy Rigby
Plucky Single Mom: “Dreamer” by Atmosphere
Life’s Okay: “Brass In Pocket” by The Pretenders
Mental Breakdown/Hitting Bottom: “Lord, I Have Made You A Place In My Heart” by Greg Brown
Driving A Car: “Road Runner” by The Modern Lovers
Learning A Lesson: “Boys Will Be Boys” by Gear Daddies
Deep Thought: “Unsatisfied” by The Replacements
Flashback: “Yesterday (Circa Summer 80 Something)” by Cory Branan
Partying: “Let’s Take Some Drugs And Drive Around” by The Silos
Happy Dance: “Save It For Later” by The English Beat
Regretfulness: “For Shame Of Doing Wrong” by Richard and Linda Thompson
Long Night Alone: “Holocaust” by Big Star
Death: “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prine
Closing Credits: “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I’ve invited other friends and family into my particular brand of geekery. I hope to include their lists in parts II, III, and so forth. Wanna play too? Drop me a line, send me your lists. (Don’t be listless.) I’ll post the ones I like. Note, though, that sending me a list indicates your permission to post it.

Geekin’ the 902: Loonies and toonies are awesome

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Canada doesn’t print paper dollars anymore. Instead in 1987 they introduced a $1 coin called the “loonie” because there’s an engraving of a loon on it. In 1996 they added a $2 coin called the “toonie.” The $1 and $2 banknotes were pulled from circulation to force the switch; no one I asked has seen either for years.

Loonies and toonies are such a brilliant idea that it’s a puzzle why the US government hasn’t followed suit. Or, maybe it’s not a puzzle. We still print $1 and $2 bills: we tried to introduce a $1 coin but it never really caught on. It’s a shame because the use of loonies and toonies saves the Canadian government a lot of money. Paper bills wear out and need replacement about every two years; coins can last 20 years or longer.

(The US government could have made the $1 Susan B. Anthony coin a success if they did what the Canadians did: simply stopped printing new $1 bills and collected the ones that came their way.)

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When the $2 coin was introduced, several surveys were conducted to determine what to call it. The coin bears (ha ha!) an engraving of a bear, so one of the suggestions was “bearie.” Other suggestions were the “deuce,” the “doubloon” (my favorite), and the “doubloonie.” The opposite side of the coin has an engraving of Queen Elizabeth, so another suggestion was to call it the “moonie.” Why? Because it portrays the Queen, with a bear behind.

Not surprisingly, “toonie” won out.

From the blog How To Spot A Canadian:

Some would say it should be spelled “two-nie,” like the number two, but that might bring legitimacy to the strangely named currency, so instead it’s named “toonie.” It could be worse. They could have spelled it “2nie” like “2Pac” if they were aiming to capture the gangsta rap feel of the mid-90s when the coin was released… So if you’re trying to determine if someone is Canadian, ask them if they have change for a five. If they whip out a combination of loonies and toonies, they’re Canadian. If they start fumbling through bills, they’re American. If they give you two nickels and a dime, they either can’t do math or they’re ripping you off. If that’s the case you’ll need to conduct further testing to find out if they’re Canadian.