Steering this Site Journal to the topic of the RinkWorks site for a change, I'd like to talk about Things People Said for a moment. Specifically, why I personally like it so much; generally, my thoughts on why it works.
I really do like Things People Said. It kind of ticks me off that it's one of my favorite RinkWorks features, because it's not the product of my creative energy. Then again, maybe that's part of it; by not authoring it, I'm not so close to it, and I'm freed from the burden of creation to laugh at it. But whatever the reason, no matter how many times I go back to it, I simply cannot read, say, the "Accident Reports" page without dying of laughter, even though I know the quotations so well I can recite most of them from memory. It kills me every time I glance at the "Foreign Menus" section of "The Language Barrier" and see things like "Pork with fresh garbage." The movie subtitles, further down on that page, are equally rereadable. If you haven't perused Things People Said -- or even if you have -- I wholeheartedly recommend reading it. (And I don't feel bad boasting about it, as, again, all my part of that site is collecting the quotes, not writing them.)
So what makes this so undyingly funny to me? I don't know how many other people feel the same way, but I know I'm not alone. I think it's a combination of things. One, because each quote is relatively short. An awful lot of the Computer Stupidities stories crack me up as well and as often, but they're a little longer, so you can read fewer of them in as much time, and they aren't quite as easily remembered as a snappy little nugget one can readily recall in full. I think the main reason is that they're the product of unwitting perpetrators.
Deliberate humor is harder to make funny, and it's almost never as funny as the best unintentional humor. It's why I think the oblivious antics of a lot of dogs (running into walls at full speed and thinking nothing of it, as an example) are a lot funnier than practically anything a stand-up comic can come up with. The funniest part about the unwitting humor in things done by kids and animals is that they have no clue they ever did anything funny. This theory of humor carries over into another RinkWorks feature: It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie. Often the reason bad movies are funny is because the makers of the film had no idea that their attempts to make a good movie were so stupid and inane as to be hilarious. The perennial favorite bad movie of RinkWorks readers (and myself), Sinbad of the Seven Seas, certainly follows the pattern. The cast and crew of that movie certainly tried.
Time to shift to a lighter tone. Here's one of those things that "floats around" the Internet. It's a collection of really bad analogies, apparently winners of a "worst analogies written in a high school essay" contest:
"Wolf" has more to say on the subject of the sense of taste. This information is based on a Reuters-Dallas news article reporting on a recent discovery. The original article was dumbed down for general public consumption; Wolf was so kind as to dumb it back up:
TONGUE HAS SENSOR FOR MEATY TASTE
Taste research got a little meatier last week: scientists have discovered a
tongue sensor for the flavour of a chemical in meat and other protein-rich
While many people think of salty, sour, sweet, and bitter as the
four main tastes, we've actually known since the early 1900s of a fifth
taste, umami. In the same way sugar is the source of sweet sensations,
the chemical glutamate is the source of umami. Glutamate -- one of the
essential amino acids required by the body -- is popularly known as part of
the Asian food additive monosodium glutamate, or MSG. It makes sense that
people can taste MSG because glutamate is present in more nutritious foods
like meat, milk, and seafood. It's especially concentrated in aged
University of Miami researchers have reported in the latest issue of the
journal Nature Neuroscience that they have found the sensor for
umami. The sensor -- a molecule called a G-protein-coupled receptor --
sits in the outer membrane of cells in the tongue. When glutamate hits
the receptor cell, a chain reaction is triggered inside that cell. Then
nerve impulses from the tongue race to the brain, signalling that glutamate
has been tasted. Also, a somewhat different version of the sensor is
found in the brain. That's because glutamate is an important
neurotransmitter which brain cells use to communicate with each other.
Taste research got a little meatier last week: scientists have discovered a tongue sensor for the flavour of a chemical in meat and other protein-rich foods.
While many people think of salty, sour, sweet, and bitter as the four main tastes, we've actually known since the early 1900s of a fifth taste, umami. In the same way sugar is the source of sweet sensations, the chemical glutamate is the source of umami. Glutamate -- one of the essential amino acids required by the body -- is popularly known as part of the Asian food additive monosodium glutamate, or MSG. It makes sense that people can taste MSG because glutamate is present in more nutritious foods like meat, milk, and seafood. It's especially concentrated in aged cheese.
University of Miami researchers have reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience that they have found the sensor for umami. The sensor -- a molecule called a G-protein-coupled receptor -- sits in the outer membrane of cells in the tongue. When glutamate hits the receptor cell, a chain reaction is triggered inside that cell. Then nerve impulses from the tongue race to the brain, signalling that glutamate has been tasted. Also, a somewhat different version of the sensor is found in the brain. That's because glutamate is an important neurotransmitter which brain cells use to communicate with each other.
A couple of things today. First, a continuation of of the "senses" thread:
Next, a word about the Academy Award nominations, announced yesterday morning. Here's the full list of nominees. I was glad to see Richard Farnsworth in the Best Actor category and disappointed not to see Jim Carrey there, outraged but not surprised that Reese Witherspoon wasn't in the Best Supporting Actress list (for Election), and happy to see both Michael Clarke Duncan and Haley Joel Osment in the Best Supporting Actor category.
But what I really want to do is talk about Best Picture. American Beauty was a given and really the only one. I was happy to see The Sixth Sense there; lately, the Academy has become less snooty about blockbusters, but they have a long way to go. As usual, great straight comedies are passed over, despite the fact that comedy is harder to do well drama. More outrageous (but, again, expected) is that animated films were ignored. 1999 was, I think, a relatively weak year for films overall, but it was the best year for animated movies in about forever. Tarzan, The Iron Giant, and Toy Story 2 -- all three of them -- were better than any animated movie since, at least, Beauty and the Beast. The latter two should have been Best Picture nominees, and I'm not so sure one of them shouldn't have won. I had hopes for Toy Story 2 breaking the Academy out of its rut, especially after it won at the Golden Globes, but no such luck.
For live action films, Three Kings really deserved a place on the list -- that it didn't was no surprise to me. I ran a poll yesterday that asked people what unnominated film was most conspicuously absent from the Best Picture nominee list. The winner was The Matrix, garnering just under a third of the votes. I can't agree. I loved the movie -- it's an exciting visual and visceral adventure executed with style. It's also flawed in its conclusion; Hollywood's missing third act syndrome kicks in and puts an action climax to a film of ideas when a logical wrapping up of those ideas was more appropriate.
I'll be discussing the Oscars here and in the Reader Poll sporadically over the course of the next month or so until the awards telecast.
As many of you who hang out in RinkChat know, we've been in the process of moving to a new place in the next town for three weeks now. Yesterday, with the help of my brother, we moved all the big stuff, and last night was the first night we've spent here. There's something exciting about moving into a better place, and we're certainly excited.
"Wolfspirit" has the following to say on the subject of senses, and, if you had to lose one, which it would be. It was actually written last January, shortly after the day the question was asked.
"Things get trickier with the question of whether I'd be willing to lose either Taste or Smell. I could reason that Taste helps me to know and enjoy the freshness of the food I'm eating/drinking... like chocolate, hot bread, or freshly-squeezed orange juice. But what does the ability to Smell do for me? Perhaps help me smell the odd rose I might run into, occasionally? Or know when someone nearby has a wild B.O.? Why, if my house is burning down, I don't even need to recognize the 'smell of smoke' anymore -- the smoke alarm will do that job! And many people have been taught that there is something shameful about odors. So given our scrubbed, sanitized, and shrink-wrapped society, it's not surprising that most people would choose Smell as the sense with which to part.
"My choice, however, was to select 'Taste' as the entity to lose. That's because I think *flavor* is only a part of the eating experience -- another component is to enjoy texture, such as crispness or chewiness or smoothness. Dave's 'noodly glop' is amusing not because it tastes awful but because of its presumed 'gloppy' texture. Moreover, aroma itself is a vital component of flavor. Whenever I've had a blocked nose due to a cold, I've lost not only my sense of Smell but also Taste -- and it certainly wasn't because my tastebuds were numb! The physiology of these two senses is sufficiently interlinked that if I lost my sense of Smell, I'd also lose most of my sense of Taste; but not necessarily vice-versa. And then there is the curious, haunting power ofsmells to bring back old memories and emotions most strongly. One day, we may yet fathom a deep connection between pheromones and unconscious memories and human behavior. Perhaps I don't like to think of humans being motivated by something so 'primitive' as such; but God gave us that sense for a reason. The sense of Smell is terribly underappreciated. I can't discount it just yet. :-)"
The second item I'd like to revisit dates back even further: the clone thread that occurred here in the journal last November. I held this letter back, because it was about a related but different issue, and then I just forgot to post it.
Have any thoughts to contribute? Send them.
This journal entry and the next one will consist of stuff I forgot to post here when it was actually relevant. But better late than never, right?
The following letter is from "Dracimas," and it concerns the Reader Poll question from 1/10/00 (answers posted 1/11/00), which was, "If you were to permanently lose one of your senses, which would it be?" This letter followed on the heels of another letter "Dracimas" sent me about a poll question, and that one did get posted here, in the journal entry for January 8, 2000.
"Ok, well, if I had to choose a sense to do without it'd have to be smell. But only if I didn't have to lose the sense of taste with it. I really enjoy my food, and since a large part of how things taste relates directly to its odor, losing the sense of smell could directly affect the sense of taste.
"Touch and hearing are both out because I enjoy music too much. I sing almost constantly. Whether with music, or acapella. In the shower or the car. To the radio or accompanying myself on the guitar. Doesn't matter, as long as I can sing.
"And no sight? Not even an option. Without sight I would not get to see my daughter on her wedding day. Couldn't see what kind of a man my son becomes. And could never see the beauty that is my wife again. No more sunrises. No more sunsets. No more driving myself. No more computer repair. So much in my life would be lost without sight that I can't even fathom losing that one.
"As I'm sure everyone feels, I would not choose to lose any of them. They are a part of me that I have come to depend on. So much would be missing that no matter which were to be lost, it would be a difficult transition. But the loss of smell is a gap that I at least think I could bridge without too much disruption to my everyday life."
Do you have more to say about the subject? Talk to me!