— From the Fool —

Hubble Telescope Has Possibly Found Oldest Object Ever Seen

So the big news is, they saw the oldest thing.  With a telescope.  A bunch of stars that’s 13 billion years old.  That’s close to when the universe was invented by God or whoever.

It was hard to see, being all black.  Nobody ever saw it before, or even now.  The snapshots are all black on black, but I guess the black all piles up.

The reason they could see it was, they all got good grades in math.  Me, I stopped at the multiplication tables.  Those things went on and on, just kept multiplying till I said, “Lemme outta here!”  But these guys, they multiplied all the way up to 13 billion years.  That’s really back in the old days.

Question is, what do they do with it now?  If they found it, I guess they own it, so they can maybe sell it off.  If they can prove it’s there.  But they might snag their ass on the question marks.

Definitely it was there 13 billion years ago, burbling and twinkling and zapping out cosmic hoo-hah.  But what about now?  What if, a billion years later, it all went up in smoke?  Caveat emptor, it says in the Bible or something.  Meaning, You’re screwed.

Best market might be Wall Street, where they buy and sell stuff nobody can see except when they do the numbers.  A whole incredible galaxy of real estate, mineral rights, solar energy, vacation hideaways, and antique furniture.

Belief.  That’s all it takes.

— From CB —

There’s nothing like writing fiction to make you realize how ignorant you are.  Not stupid, just industrial-strength ignorance.  You’ve had these endless decades exploring the human species — through theatre, through marriage & friendships & raising kids, through bar-hopping along West Colfax St., through reading & travel & major surgery & dreams — and you still don’t know shit about life.

The challenge starts with simple stuff that writers should be able to rattle off instantly: descriptions of flowers, hair styles, clothing, furniture, architecture, the music of the 80s. . .  Procedures: building a house, exploring a crime scene, fixing cars, negotiating divorce, waiting tables. . .  The secret lives of people utterly unlike yourself: the black Cuban transsexual, the schizophrenic NFL player, the headless Queen of France. . .  What Audubon guidebook or Google search or research jag can begin to fill in those vast regions of humankind marked Unexplored Territory?

Many writers take refuge in language.  Smooth-flowing adjectives & metaphors & active verbs can hide long spans of empty shelves.  Dialogue: no problem making talk sound like real talk, though making it sound like this particular person — shaped not by “type” but by a unique life history — is another matter.  You learn very fast just how little you really know of the English language & its lurking, elusive magic.

What to do?  Well, obviously read, research, open your eyes to the lady next to you on the bus whose thumbs are pecking away at her smartphone like chickens on meth.  Go ahead, sit down at the keyboard & fake it.  Trust that the first draft will make it clear to yourself just how big a dunce you are, so you can figure out what you need to know and learn it.  Imagine that Climate Change will start to melt your vast glacial ignorance, and the chunks will gently break off to dissolve in the sea.

— From EF —

Right angle.  Very important concept, but tricky: are all other intersections wrong angles?  Maybe so.  I think my loss of faith in the adult world dates to the time when I was playing with my dad’s framing square and discovered that there wasn’t a single right angle in our bathroom.  I was aghast.

Right angles have been much on my mind of late, because I am now working on the set for King Lear.  Six years ago, I discovered the wonders of square aluminum tubing and created a set structure for Inanna that was light-weight, sturdy, and could be put up in 45 minutes by a single human (me).  Two sides and an upright, bolted together, made a rigid three-way corner that was an ode to the right angle.  And I loved having an excuse to get a drill press.

That nifty structure went on to house The Tempest, Hands Up, and Frankenstein.  Now it’s being reworked as a sort of chicken coop for Lear, smaller, and skewed to give a forced perspective — front face taller and wider than back face.  The righteous squareness of the material is forcing me to be very creative and very careful — measure twice, cut once.  But that isn’t the half of it.  A cube has eight corners, and they’re all square.  This damn thing has eight corners, and none of them are square.

Back when we were doing our radio show, we built a very sophisticated little soundproof booth in the garage: room-inside-room, floating floor, the whole nine yards.  I just about lost my mind getting the inner room right.  If you follow the rules for perfect sound, no two surfaces can be exactly parallel.  No right angles.  Last year we took it down, and I was stunned when I saw its innards.  How did I do that?

It felt weird, prying apart what had cost so many long hours of planning and building, dismantling two thick, hand-made doors that were so perfectly hung that they made a sucking sound when you opened them.  But we needed the space, because we’re suffering from a population explosion of puppets.  Bye-bye, sound booth; hello, storage room.

And the perfect aluminum frame, 8 x 8 x 10, is becoming 4 x 7 x 6 x 4.5 x 6.7 mutant. I’ve already cut and drilled and bolted all the parts where two flat surfaces interface.  Now I have to start inventing rigid corners where bolt holes are drilled at angles, and some kind of shim holds the sticks at a twist.  Holy crap.

Orthogonal means at a right angle.  Orthodontists put metal harnesses on teeth to get them to line up.  And here I am, doing reverse orthodontia on my frame.  Eventually we’ll put something equally crazy inside it.  Stay tuned.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014

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