29 January 2017

Time Stops Again (Again)


Special note or appendum type thing: This article may be a rehash, or a foreshadowing.  Time has apparently been turned upside down (again) (whatever that means), and the future may or not guarantee present or past results. (The Future is Void Where Prohibited.)

Time itself, that cheap inviting bastard who flies when you'd have him crawl, and crawls when you wish he'd fly (e.g. when you're crawling with flies), stopped again on Thursday at 10:24 a.m., as the Central Clock went kerflooey and the fabric of the universe was once more torn asunder, whatever on earth that means. None reported hurt and no injured, Kent, no one seems to really know what happened, or if anything at all happened, and frankly some are starting to once again ponder the age-old questions, the nature of the cosmos, its source and its ultimate destiny, and the meaning of the fact that no good answer exists to the question of the meaning of existence.

People are kind of falling into two camps on this one, with one camp insisting that time actually stopped this morning, and for several days, though no one can really say how long it lasted, while the other side, in fact the vast majority of the citizenry, seems not to have noticed and continued about their business more or less as usual. There were scattered reports of a palpable weirdness, a definite oozy thickness to the atmosphere, and many if not most of the basic rules of the physical universe seem to have been suspended (one example being the law of conservation of energy, which states that great players save a little something for crunch time). Still, most assumed it was some combination of lack of sleep, gastrointestinal distress, or overindulgence in spirituous liquors, and bravely pushed on with their day.

Authorities are calling all this talk of time stopping "a lot of dangerous nonsense," fearing that any anomalies in the flow of time could cause jitters among already-nervous investors and send them fleeing for the exits in a panic that could scupper the prospects for a robust period of growth for the markets, i.e. more free money for everyone involved. Allegations in the blogosphere that the time stoppage was engineered by Goldmen Sax so that their trading algorithms could rake in another zillion remain unsubstantiated, which is not to say disconfirmed, so you just go right ahead and believe what you want to believe, apocalypse be damned.

Many who claim to have experienced the stoppage were people who were meditating, as well as some (although interestingly not all) of those who were playing music at the time. One dude speculated that what happened was that they were so in the moment that when the moment stopped, they were still able to move and flow freely, inside of it. Asked to describe the sensation, the consensus is that it was pretty, you know, like, "heavy."

And then, whether or not it actually and in fact did happen, it was over. Snap! Just like that.

Physicists at the Institute for the Study of Time said they didn't notice anything, they were 'on break' at 'the time.' Then they started parroting my questions back at me but with extensive, inappropriate uses of air quotes, all while giggling uncontrollably; after twenty minutes I got tired of waiting for them to stop and I left. I don't know what they're smoking, chewing, snorting or shooting over at the Institute these days but I'd like to boil it, distill it and slip a little into my coffee one of these Sunday mornings.

Central Timekeeping was flummoxed, no one from the department could give a good account of what happened. Conflicting stories about the readings on their instruments at the critical moments in question were leaked to the media, and all we could get was an assurance that they would look into the matter thoroughly in due course. In other words, don't hold your breath.

Questions regarding this alleged event or non-event are many and perhaps, in the end, unanswerable.

If it did happen, how could it be verified? Does time stop all the time and we just have no way of knowing? Is this why people spend so much for a Rolex?

Is it even possible for time to stop? To speed up, slow down, or flow in other directions? And not just theoretically, but for humans to actually experience the fluctuations and live to describe them in comprehensible terms?

If a glass were falling, and time really did stop, does the glass just hang there in the air?

If time stops, how do you measure how long it stopped for?

What is time?

[Pauses, looks uncomfortably at shoes.]

We'll be right back.

23 January 2017

Off the Gridirony, Part I: Down Syndrome


With the Super Bowl once again upon us, it seems important that (now more than ever) we settle this nagging question of the downs, which being the more and which the less critical of the downs, in terms of winning the football contest and capturing the big prize.  We asked former Miami Gold Star Tiara Queens Linebacker Johnny "Big Uncle" Brownstone to explain it slowly and clearly once and for all so that even the most boneheaded among you can get it through your thick skulls, and he was like, You know what?  I tell ya.

First down is the key down…  Everything happens on first down and that makes first down the most important down, first down sets it all up for the downs that follow, first down sets the table and that’s why coaches call it the table-setting down and suchlike, first down is where you line up your ducks against their ducks and establish the ground game, or threaten the deep middle (of the pond), maybe set a few decoys out there, because if you can get a nice chunk on first down that sets you up nicely for second down.

Second down is where the rubber meets the road, not literally and not figuratively either but second down is the middle child, it exists in the shadow of first down which, though second has no control over it, has already laid down the broad parameters within which second down must exist and attempt to strike out on its own, make its own name, knowing that third down is coming and bound to soak up all of mom and dad’s attention and leave it the overlooked middle child of downs, as downs go second down is an absolutely critical down and it’s a down good teams make something on, good teams make something on second down that’s either gonna give em another first down or they’re gonna try and leave themselves with a nice short makeable third down.

Because third down is where reputations are made, third down is where the cream separates itself from the chaff and that’s why third down is absolutely the most important down, the down to end all downs, third down is where the Tchaikovskys of the world compose their best music, third down is when Julia Child finally got her own cooking show, heck even Hitler (who was evil) recognized the importance of third down although fortunately for freedom and human decency he was unable to convert the critical third downs that would have kept his team on the march and refused to listen to his generals even when they pleaded with him that everything is riding on third down because if you can’t get a first down on third down you’re stuck facing the grim reaper, the fortified bunker of downs, the end of the line: fourth down. 

Fourth down is the down on which dreams die.  It is absolutely the ultimate down, the sine qua down (res ipsa loquitur), fourth down is where you show your mettle, where you comb the burrs out of your thick winter coat and buckle up your chinstrap and buckle down your shinchaps and literally put the pedal to your mettle, the strive to your drive, where the guts and bolts of your desire to win rise like the cream to the surface of the kettle, like the wheat rises to the challenge of creating separation from the chaff.  If there were a fifth down that would probably be the down of all downs, the be-all and end-all down-wise speaking, but nope.  There’s only four and then one way or another it’s back to first down, which to be honest is not very important because you still have two or even three more chances after that and even if you have to punt it’s not that big a deal and besides football is stupid, the end.