All Shiny on the Outside

Exterior of the EMP Museum

One more story from last Sunday. I was in Dierbergs, one of the two locally owned, family run grocery store chains that dominate the Saint Louis market. I normally shop Schnucks, it is both closer to home and cheaper than Dierbergs. Besides, Schnucks sports a more interesting and diverse clientele, who are not always annoying. I’m speaking of the students from the three neighboring universities. Dierbergs just happened to be conveniently placed astride my return route from the infamous Micro Center.

So, I’m immersed in my usual snatch and grab that passes for grocery shopping. I like to go commando, no list, no cart. Just a green basket slung in one arm, ready to be wielded as a shillelagh if necessary. Such is 21st-century foraging, it is about getting in and out of the store quickly. The longer you dwell, the more time they have to sell.

So I digress, I’m shopping in Dierbergs and I’m approached by a man. He has a plastic container in his left-hand. I can see that it is one of those whole chickens that both chains rotisserie roast. They’re a good deal, a lot of meat and not particularly expensive. He says that he is short a dollar or two and would like to buy this chicken to bring home to his daughter. While he is telling me this my vision is focused upon his right-hand. It is badly deformed. He has only two fingers, ring and pinky, and only a knuckle’s worth per. He notices this and kind of nervously laughs. I slipped two one-dollar bills between his right-hand’s ring and pinky fingers, which he seemed to strain to grasp. He thanks me and we quickly go our separate ways.

I don’t normally give money to panhandlers. I feel bad not doing so, but I believe that it is the better policy. Besides it’s cheaper. I still wonder about this guy’s story. He could have easily return the chicken to its bin and returned to the liquor aisle where this meet had occurred. Bottom line, I wouldn’t have given, if I didn’t want to, any ulterior motives aside, he was worse off than me. The next day, I decided to assuage any lingering guilt by buying one of those scannable food bank coupons at Schnucks.

Monsters of Our Making

The Terminator’s Skull

The “Terminator” movie series is predicated upon man sowing the seeds of his own destruction. In each movie the machines, representing mankind’s collective stupidity are beaten back at the last minute by a courageous individual. Movie slouch aside we do seem to be heading down the path towards SkyNet. It would be awful for us humans end up as a B-movie.

Today’s real life killer robots prefer to fly instead of walking bipedally. Predator drones overfly many parts of the Middle East and Central Asia. They are also beginning to patrol the US border and this is all their uses that are publicly known. Predators are as much the cyborg as the Terminator is supposed to be. The main difference between these two cyborgs is the nature of the symbiotic man and machine relationship. The Terminator is an autonomous robot that is clothed in and camouflaged by human flesh. With the Terminator the human contribution is little more than window dressing. At the end of the movie the robot part of the Terminator continues to operate even after shedding its human skin. While the Predator drone is a robot tethered to a human pilot who controls it. The Predator is a more equitable melding of man and machine. This robot can’t operate without the man in the loop and the man is powerless without the machine.

The Terminator skull is part of the “Icons of Science Fiction” exhibit at the EMP Museum in Seattle. I must confess that I PhotoShop added the redeye. Otherwise this prop would have appeared both cold and dead. It wouldn’t have seemed so threatening without some spark chasing going on.

Chihuly Persian Ceiling Panel

Chihuly Persian Ceiling Panel

Chihuly Persian Ceiling Panel

I’ve seen this art work three times. First in Dallas, next in Saint Louis and now in Seattle. You walk into a room where the entire ceiling is masked by this colorful piece. Heavy black ironwork supports a thick sheet of clear glass. On this sheet rests a profusion of individual pieces of colored glass. The framework divides the ceiling into individual panels. This is just an example of one of them. The following is the museum’s write-up on this work.  

Chihuly began the Persians series in 1986 while experimenting with new forms. Originally, he displayed Persians in pedestal compositions, often with smaller shapes nested in larger pieces. Later, working with an architectural framework, he mounts larger forms to walls and suspends them as overhead compositions. The first Persian Ceiling was presented in his 1992 exhibition opening in the new downtown Seattle Art Museum. Lit from above and resting on a flat glass pane, the elements of the Persian Ceiling come together to provide an immersive experience in color and shape.

You have to be somewhat careful while viewing this art. Everybody in the room is walking around with their head’s craned upward. No one is watching where they are going. Small children, especially in strollers are particularly hazardous to the ardent Chihuly fan.

Fractal Shadows

Fractal Shadows

Fractal Shadows

This photo shows the fractal hair stylings of Carl and Anne. Their fractal enhanced shadows are projected on to a whiteboard that they face. A camera is embedded in that wall. It photographs them and replays their enhanced selves in movie form. The more you move the wilder it gets.

This exhibit is part of the “Icons of Science Fiction” exhibit at the EMP Museum in Seattle. Carl took us there on our first day in Washington. In addition to interactive exhibits like this one, it also has memorable props from science fiction movies and TV shows. Examples include Captain Kirk’s chair, littered with tribbles, the Terminator’s skull, Chris Reed’s Superman costume and an Imperial Dalek from the Doctor Who TV show. The following is per the exhibit:

Daleks are actually mutant cyborg aliens. Imperial Daleks were the first of their kind able to levitate, thus overcoming one of their main obstacles to galactic domination: stairs.

Anne and Carl Going to Lightspeed



Pictured is a poster in the EMP Museum at Seattle Center. I’m not really sure what GRAK means in this poster. Searching the web, the most plausible explanation that I could find was, Goblin Rights Advocacy Komittee, but somehow I doubt that this is the explanation. One thing that is for sure is that GRAK does not mean GROK. 🙄