JohnSilva.net

… because JohnSilva.com was already taken.

iPony

Really, why WOULDN’T you bring your pony into the Seattle Apple Store?

Lucky…

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2009 Northwest Folklife Festival - No Shoes, No Shower, No Problem

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Have the homeless finally taken over the Seattle Center? No, silly; it’s the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Once a year the smells of curry and feet converge upon the Seattle Center, giving the indigenous homeless population a brief respite from all of the dirty looks.

On any given day at the Seattle Center, if a soiled and shoeless person is carrying a cup of change while pushing a shopping cart full of found objects, he is a homeless person. On Memorial Day that person is a musician and the junk in his shopping cart are his instruments. Because let’s face it, the lack of funds with which to purchase proper instruments should not be an impediment to your inner musician. Be creative!

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That old Samsonite suitcase in your basement can become a bass drum. Own a washtub? Of course you do! Pop a hole in that bad boy, attach some rope and a long stick and you have a washtub bass. Got a saw? Drag a bow across it and listen to the voices of angels. Nothing in your basement? No worries, just play a string of your own saliva. At Northwest Folklife, anything goes! (Note: The author strongly advises against showing up with an iPhone based instrument. This violates everything the anti-establishment has thus far established.)

So gather ’round in your finest dust bowl chic attire and let us all reminisce back to a simpler time when the economy was in the tank, unemployment was sky high and poverty was …wait a minute …

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Your A/V Guy Doesn’t Listen to Your Lecture

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It has been my privilege to work with some of the finest A/V guys (and girls) from all over the country. In my vast experience, I have gleaned a few traits common to the A/V community, regardless of their geographic location or religious orientation.

For instance, imagine if you will, the following scenario: You are presenting your life’s work in a conference room of a 5 star hotel. Your caramel voice is resonating through the state-of-the-art sound system. You are a god in your field. For those of us who salivate at the phrase “PET/CT Acquisition and Diagnostic CT Protocol,” your talk is riveting. This lecture is a victory; another proverbial notch in your lipstick case.

But after you finish your lecture, you make the fatal mistake of strolling to the back of the room to ask your A/V guy if perhaps he thought you spoke too quickly. You are immediately met with a blank stare that makes you wonder if you spoke backwards. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just that your A/V guy doesn’t listen to your lecture.

You may be a bit confused. Your A/V guy raised the lights when you asked. He muted the microphone when you started coughing. He brought a glass of water to you when you asked. That’s because your A/V guy has been trained to focus in on keywords. It’s similar to how your brain filters out a lot of the city sounds that it deems unnecessary for your survival (random car horns or requests for spare change) but lets in other more useful sounds (spare change falling on sidewalk or guy trying to sell you weed).

If your brain informed you of every sound your ears encountered, you wouldn’t get anything done. Your A/V guy’s brain has evolved in the same manner. By focusing in on these keywords and filtering out the non essentials, your A/V guy can finish compiling his guitar tablature to Van Halen’s Diver Down by the coffee break.

Some keywords that will trigger your A/V guy’s attention may include: lights, laser pointer, water, microphone, battery, focus, in summary, free boxed lunch, defibrillator, adjourn early.

If you play a funny internet video in your lecture, you will have your A/V guy’s full attention. He will not care that the video has no relevance to your talk (he’s not listening to your lecture, remember?). If you include a joke in your talk, your A/V guy will likely tune in to see if the joke bombs. However, if you make extensive use of graphs and charts in your lecture, your A/V guy will organize his email inbox. If you mention the Framingham Heart Study or the phrase “downstream revenue,” your A/V guy may leave the room and not return.

In summary, don’t be offended to find your A/V guy sitting in the back of the room wearing his noise canceling headphones. That your A/V guy prefers to watch Season 1 of the Venture Bros. rather than a 14-foot brain MRI projected in the front of the room, is in no way a reflection on you or your life’s work. Besides, it would have been painfully obvious to your A/V guy that the MRI was positive for Sarcoidosis, NOT Multiple Sclerosis.

photo by Arman Christoff Boyles

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Economic Crisis Strikes the Superhero World

Given our current economic climate, it was only a matter of time before superheroes would be forced to tighten the old utility belt.

Let’s face it, shark repellent ain’t cheap.

The Green Hornet has always embraced a much more minimalist approach to crime fighting than some of his tights-clad collegues. A mask, a gun, a fedora, and an Asian sidekick was all it took to inflict the sting of the Green Hornet upon the world of organized crime.

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There was also the car: Black Beauty.

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Black Beauty was equipped with explosive warheads, “knock-out” gas, audio/video surveillance, and many other cool gadgets necessary for crime fighting.

Needless to say, I was quite disheartened to see Green Hornet’s current means of transport, parked on a Seattle street.

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Sure, we’ve heard about all of the cutbacks, layoffs, foreclosures, and bankruptcies recently. But when superheroes are relegated to fighting crime with a beat-up truck and an old wooden oar, we’re in trouble.

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Holy Pareidolia!

We’ve all heard of instances where people see religious imagery appear in the most unusual places.

For example, there is the New Mexican woman back in the late seventies who saw the face of Jesus in the burn marks of her tortilla.

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In Clearwater, Florida the Virgin Mary appeared on the side of a glass building.

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There’s the Monkey God that was discovered in the trunk of a tree in Singapore.

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Not to be outdone, the secular world has The Man In The Moon, The Old Man of the Mountain, the Face On Mars, and so on, and so forth.

This phenomenon of attaching significant meaning to random images or sounds is called Pareidolia.

Some pareidolias are pretty remarkable. Others require quite an imaginative leap to see something meaningful.

Significance is in the eye of the beholder.

Back in December, we received a prodigious amount of snow; at least for Seattle. One evening, as my wife and I returned home from dinner, my wife spotted our very own pareidolia. It wasn’t on a tortilla, or a window, or on the moon. It was in the snow, on the hood of my 2006 Honda Civic.

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At the risk of stating the obvious, this is Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, and star of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Sure, Jack doesn’t have the cachet of Jesus or a monkey, but he IS a king. Ladies and gentlemen, call me believer.

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