Lesson #264: My Mother Is A Wealth of Random Knowledge — The Musical Version.

I was on the phone with my mother today and the subject of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar came up. And she asks, “Do you know who the brother of the original Judas is?”*

No, I do not.

The answer is: Giles from Buffy.

*What’s frightening is that it was a pretty even shot whether or not I knew the answer.


Lesson #241: Darth Vader at the National Cathedral

I’ve seen the Star Wars trilogy exactly once. I was about 10. But Darth Vader sort of permeates pop culture, so here we are.* It turns out that there is a grotesque of Darth Vader on the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.**

I find this equal parts sacrilegious and awesome!

Autobiographical note: I am disproportionately annoyed by people who don’t know the difference between a grotesque and a gargoyle. I have no idea why.

*In fact, one of my favourite Eddie Izzard segments is the Death Star Canteen bit, which is made ever more entertaining when acted out by Lego men.

**For more information see the National Cathedral’s website here.

Lesson #59: Lost’s Life and Death Theme

Post #2 of the Practical Application Series*

We have a piano in the dining room of my house. And with the exception of Urban Planner Housemate who doesn’t actually know how to play**, I am the only person in the house who plays it. It’s a shame because I am pretty sure Lawyer Housemate is a better than I am.

Anyway, I was watching some of the bonus features in the LOST season 4 box set (a present from my brother!) last night and there was a really interesting feature on the music of the show and how the Philharmonic in Honolulu did a whole concert of its music. Which is pretty awesome. So I was practicing this morning and decided to see if I could figure out how to play the Life and Death Theme…it’s not a complicated piece of music, surely I could teach it to myself, right?

It took me all of about ten minutes. What can I say, I’ve got mad skills.***

*The Practical Application Series does not actually exist, which should be obvious since this is only the second practical application post.

**His instrument is guitar, but honestly, he has a much better understanding of music theory than I do, so he can sit and make something up in his head that sounds good and play it based on the way chords move. I, on the other hand, can play the piece if you put it in front of me, but couldn’t even begin to tell you why it moves the way it does.

***Okay, I have grade 8 piano and advanced classical training on another instrument besides. It’s practically cheating.

Lesson #50: The Physics of the Lost Universe

My very favourite TV show starts its final season tonight and I could not be more excited! I have watched LOST religiously since the very first episode and even stuck with it through its sort of muddled fourth season* and the fact that they killed off two of my three favourite characters in season 3. I was annoyed when they killed Mr. Eko,** but I nearly swore off the show completely when they killed Charlie.*** I still miss Charlie even though he’s been gone for two seasons now. At least I still have Desmond.****

Anyway, now that you’re caught up on my favourite characters, which matters, you know, not at all…

I found this article on the feasibility of the physics of time travel in the LOST universe by way of the Discovery Channel science page today. Apparently, they’re doing well with continuity and the laws of physics, which is pretty awesome!

If we’re being honest, when the LOST writers first presented the whole time travel idea to me, I was on board because I thought it was fleeting. I was in for the whole Vonnegut-ian “Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time” aspect.***** But when it didn’t go away, I went “you have got to be kidding me.” Pure science fiction has never really been my forte. I don’t like how quickly it can become utterly ridiculous.****** I need substance with my impossibility. Or Simon Pegg and a Russian with difficulties pronouncing the word Victor (seriously, that makes me laugh EVERY time). But now that I see that there’s a purpose and direction to it, it has grown on me. I don’t so much know what the purpose and direction are, but I know that they’re there. And until they end the series in May without telling me that, knowing that they’re there is good enough for me.

I’m still mad about Charlie though.

*Though to be honest, my favourite episode of the entire series, The Constant, aired in the middle of the fourth season. It changed the game completely and has become the cornerstone for all the discussions on time travel in the LOST universe.

**A friend of mine in a European capital I used to live in went on a date with him — the actor, not the character — while he was in town filming a movie. It ended kind of creepily.

***In fact, after Charlie’s tragic (and heartbreaking) death at the end of season 3, I emailed my mother and said, “if they kill Desmond off, I’m done with this show.”

****Desmond is easily the best character of the entire run of the show. And not just because you find out at the beginning of season 5 that he named his son Charlie.

*****If you haven’t read Slaughterhouse-Five, I highly, highly recommend it.

******Says the girl who watches ‘Eureka’, but I tend to do much better with ridiculous science fiction when at no point does the show take itself seriously and relies on tongue-in-cheek ridiculous science fiction and cheesy dialogue. It’s like a high-tech 50s B movie.

Lesson #45: The Russian Embassy

The other day, I was watching a wholly ridiculous show that airs on FOX in which stuff blows up and people die. Which is normally awesome. I’m a big fan of Burn Notice, which is also a wholly ridiculous show in which stuff blows up (a lot) and people die (often) because it’s awesome.* Also because I love Bruce Campbell. But this show? Less awesome.

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

So tonight, I’m talking to one of my best friends from the most recent state I called home and I could not get over how in this episode the characters were supposedly at a party at the Russian Embassy. Now, I have nothing against embassy parties. Or the Russians for that matter. I do have a problem with the fact that the building they were using looked absolutely NOTHING like the Russian Embassy in DC. The Russian Embassy in DC is a giant Soviet looking white block. It is *not* a neo-classical mansion.** This annoyed me what is probably a disproportionate amount, but really, FOX? It’s not like the building is hidden. And it’s not like there aren’t millions of people who actually know what it looks like. It’s not even poor research, it’s a complete lack of effort.***

Anyway, I swear I’m going somewhere with this.

So this conversation with my friend in the undisclosed state ended with me looking into how many Russian Embassies there are in the world.  Oh yes, you got all that backstory to find out a single number.

The number? 154.

I couldn’t find an actual list, so I had to go to the website for the Russian Embassies and count (and alphabetize) them myself. I hope you appreciate that. And, should you be wondering, here are the countries in which they are located:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovena, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, the Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, the Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, the Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe and representations in Gaza and the Vatican, which I guess count.

*Despite the fact that I would sooner believe that Bruce Campbell’s character and the male lead had a thing for each other than I do that the male and female leads have a thing for each other.

**Mostly, I know this because I have a picture of me standing in front of it from when an old college roommate of mine quite literally lived around the corner from it. And, up until I moved to a European capital and quite literally lived around the corner from the Russian Embassy myself, I thought that was about the coolest thing ever. In fact, I own a t-shirt that says “I heart the Russian Embassy.” Yes, I have an inexplicable affinity for the Russian Embassies. What of it?

***I hate poor research. It makes me crazy. It is why people think Wagner (or Mozart) wrote Carmina Burana. Yes, I’m still bitter about that, what of it?

Lesson #37: A Left Turn at Albuquerque

I was talking with a college friend of mine very early this morning and the subject of Albuquerque came up and he went, “I knew I should have turned left at Albuquerque.” This was met with a blank stare. Or would have were we on the same continent.

Duly horrified by my lack of cartoon knowledge, I was then informed that it’s a running Bugs Bunny gag.

Of course it is.

So that’s it. That’s what I learned today. I learned that I have spent nearly 30 years completely unaware of the expression “I knew I should have turned left at Albuquerque” and variations thereof. Do you know how many times I could have used that?


Also, there is apparently a band called ‘Left Turn at Albuquerque’ which makes sense given that there are also bands called ‘Save Ferris’ and ‘Fall Out Boy’.