Learn with Gurn

At a wine tasting recently I spotted a guy with a T-shirt that read “Some people have a way with words, other people…not have way.” This made me so happy that I had to follow him around until I could thank him, though I’m not 100% sure he was aware of the line’s genesis, which was in Steve Martin’s 1970s comedy act.

All these classic bits are hard-wired into my brain machine and will probably remain there long after I have forgotten everything about my own actual life. Imagine then my chagrin upon learning that I somehow missed Steve’s 65th birthday, which took place this Saturday. In my defense I did write a lovely tribute for his 60th, which you can read — along with other related items — in the recently created category on this site that I call Gurn Blanston (after Steve’s real name, of course, as all us children of the 70s know).

An an extra special bonus, here’s a video I found of a dark-haired young Steve doing his magic act on the Smothers Brothers show. Happy Birthday to Steve, and to the rest of you, happy Monday.

A dwarf in more articles than one

Today I have to congratulate myself for officially passing the halfway point of Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which I have been struggling with for lo, these many months.

I am a very stubborn reader. I hate to abandon any book, however difficult/annoying/pointless, and this one – published in nine installments between 1759 and 1769 – is not without its merits. Sterne was ahead of his time in more ways than one: Tristram Shandy is a sort of metafiction, less a novel than an extended commentary on the idea of a novel. It is basically one long series of tangents and digressions, so much so that 300 pages in, the title character has just been born.

Sometimes I think we are stupid and deserve to die

Maybe I’m a little cranky today, but something I just read has me fuming like Lewis Black. Check this chain of events: California in particular, and the U.S. a whole, are finally coming around to the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, with medical use acting as the wedge just like everybody said it would. For the most part I fully support this idea, though I worry a) that our youth will damage their brain cells with cheap, readily available cheeba and b) that having it be legal will take all the fun out of it for them.

Taking advantage of this change in the general attitude toward the ganja, my beloved Oakland has been one of the more aggressive cities in licensing and taxing growers, and is getting even more so in anticipation of de facto legalization being passed by voters in November. Again, this is a good thing. People like to get high and they like to drink, and I think people on the right and the left can agree at this point that it’s not government’s business to stop them. What government can do is regulate the business and scoop some money off the top to support services that people need.

Here’s the part that bugs me: Oakland is licensing four colossal indoor growing facilities. As pointed out by the faithful East Bay Express, the massive amounts of energy required to grow tons of cannabis indoors will not only put a major strain on our electrical grid, but release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This comes just as the U.S. experienced its hottest month in recorded history in July 2010.

So here is what we are doing, fellow humans: exacerbating an already risky global-warming situation to grow a plant that isn’t even food and could just as easily be grown with free and abundant sunlight. Why? What the hell is wrong with us? I refer you back to the headline.