Tag Archives: ice

ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge: An Imperfect Place

The devil hides down amongst the cubes*.

You’d have to have not paid your Internet bill over the last couple of months to miss out on knowing about the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge thing.

It started with some professional athletes, not — as myth would have it — an ALS patient. The challenge was to either be filmed dumping a bucket of ice over your head or give money to a charity of your choice. It morphed from there.

And promptly went viral.

Which led to thousands of people filming themselves while having a bucket of ice dumped on their heads while challenging others to do the same. In fact, my dad and I even watched one of those happen poolside at Chabil Mar, a resort in the Central American country of Belize. It was a few weeks ago, before this really hit big so we had no idea what it was about.

Those last four words there. . . That’s what this is about.

So far this post, I’ve written a lot of words about the Ice-Bucket Challenge and mentioned ALS only twice. And never said what ALS really is.

Better known as Lou Gherig’s Disease, named for the New York Yankees baseball player who contracted the disease and thereby showed the bits of the country that liked baseball and were paying attention that the disease existed, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive, degenerative disease that gradually destroy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and spinal column. Over time, the disease annihilates voluntary control over the body’s muscles, robbing the person with the disease of the ability to move, to speak, to breathe. For some patients, the end point of the disease is total paralysis of the body. And the worst part is that their mind still is active and aware and trapped in a decayed body incapable of responding to anything.

ALS is, to put it mildly, a horrifying disease. Donating money to help fund research into a cure or a way to slow the progression of the disease is definitely a worthy cause. (Those who want to donate without resorting to dumping ice water on their heads can do so at the ALSA gift page.)

So, given all that, I should be all for the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge, right, dudes?. After all, as of Friday, the challenges have resulted in the ALS Association receiving more than $41 million in donations.

My issue is with all the challengers who do nothing but dump ice on their own heads, laugh, record it and then post it to some social media site, daring others to follow suit. They don’t know what ALS is. They don’t donate to any sort of charitable institution, including the ALS Association, and only do it because everyone else is doing it. 

After all, the challenge is donate to the ALSA OR dump a bucket of ice on their heads.

I talked about this on Facebook and was called out by several of my friends there (actual friends who I actually know) for dumping (no pun intended) on the whole idea. They focused on the positives, on the donations that were raised, which are substantial.

I thought about it and talked it over with Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, who has some similar issues with the challenge. While Zippy the Travelin’ Boy still takes issue with it (mostly, I think, because it’s popular and he likes to be a contrarian) and, to be honest, so do I, it all led to the realization that I was focusing too much on the negative.

I’ll pause now for your shocked intake of breath.

This was brought home to me — literally — when Hyper Lad walked up to me with a hang-dog look, holding a bucket of ice and a video camera.

Before I would participate, he and I had a long talk about what amyotrophic lateral sclerosis actually does and agreed that he would donate money to the ALS Association.

Only then could I laugh at him when his oldest brother, Sarcasmo, poured cube-filled, ice-cold water over the young dude’s head.

Yes, in a perfect world, Hyper Lad’s fellow shiverers would be donating to worthy charitable causes on a regular basis and also donating their time, sweat and effort. They’d already know what ALS really is, why we should support research toward a cure, and be doing the ice thing only to help raise awareness and get more people to donate money to worthy charities.

But, as the estimable John Bender once said: “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”

And it’s true.

Screws do fall out all the time.

I guess I’ll just have to live with the idea that people are dumping ice on their heads just because everybody else is doing it. And also some of them might actually understand that this is being used to help raise money to combat an appalling disease.

It’s not perfect, but that’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

As if the world were waiting for my approval anyway.

*Yes, this was an imperfect metaphor. I was trying to evoke the whole thing about the devil being in the detail and then conflating that with the ice-bucket challenge. Don’t judge me. I was . . . stretching.


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Making The Time To Find The Rhyme

Poetry is only for snobs, right?

Um, no. Not quite. Well, sort of. I mean, not all the time, you know?

It’s possible I might be the slightest bit confused on the role of poetry in society these days, dudes. It is conceivable I need to devote more thought to it, but, honestly, do any of us believe I’m actually going to devote more than the next hour or so to thinking about poetry?

No. No we don’t.

The thing is, I think as school kids, we were given “important” poetry and told that this is a poem and it is good for you and you will like it, but first you need to understand all about rhyme, meter, iambic pentameter and blank verse and. . .

Well, you get my point. Poetry in language arts classes is like a lot of things in language arts classes: It’s had the fun and the juice sucked right out of it and all that’s left is a husk that we feel obligated to consume.

But it really shouldn’t be like that. I mean, how many of you dudes can remember just laughing your head off while rhyming silly word after silly word? Of reading Dr. Seuss and realizing that it’s not only possible, but it’s okay to make up words to fit your rhymes and people will actually tell you, “Good job!”

The thing about poetry that’s different from regular prose, from fiction or non-fiction, is that poetry is an idea stripped down to its bare bones and then painted in gaudy colors. Whereas, comparatively speaking, prose is a giant, stomping around the landscape, leaving footprints and broken trees in her wake.

That is, in a poem, each line — each word — is there only to move forward the central idea. It’s sparse, even if it’s in flowery language. As far as I’m concerned, poetry can be as hard or as easy as you make it.

For instance: Haikus are wonderful. They’re a style of poetry from Japan and consist of three lines. The first line is five syllables, followed by a line with seven syllables, ending with a final line of five syllables. Each line illuminates the central idea. I love ’em because I can write a poem in only three lines.

Poetry, Schmoetry
Haikus? Not easy.
Despite the number of lines
Being only three

See? Fun. My interest in poetry in general and haikus in particular was rekindled on some early morning walks with Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog. I’d see these shadows full of frosted grass, which were still frozen only because they were not yet exposed to the sun and I tried to think of how to describe them. Which led to the following haiku.

Winter Morning, Buzz
Frozen shadows steam
Edges disappearing quickly
As the sun rises

So what do you dudes and dudettes think? Anyone interested in a haiku-off? Or maybe just a favorite short poem you’d like to share? Join me in the comments and let’s see if language arts class has managed to kill off all interest in poetry.

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The Funniest Throne Ever To Be In A Game

It’s all about context.

Game of Thrones, the HBO series, and the Song of Ice and Fire, the book series on which the tv show is based, are both very heavy, full of portent and violence, with only rare moments of humor. And the humor is, at best, stygian, predicated on knowing that what’s happening to the other dude is at least somewhat worse than that’s happening to you. Although that could change in an instant.

However, leave it up to the internet to get all freaky with it.

The folks over at Bad Lip Reading Films have taken several seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones and recut it, layering in some different dialogue, and come up with one of the funniest pieces of film I’ve seen in quite a while. The Bad Lip Reading comes in, with the fact that the dialogue at least sort of matches up to what the mouths of the various characters look like they’re saying.

Notice I said sort of. I mean, it’s not called Good Lip Reading Films, is it?

Still, this is some very, very funny stuff.

Instead of being a dark quest for the throne of a fractured land, told through violence and horror, the story now is one of uplift and the affirmation of life. Here’s what the new logline of the show is: Theme park manager Eddie Stark has one week to whip his lackluster group of employees into shape before the park’s grand opening. 

Yeah, it’s Game of Thrones as a workplace comedy.

And, yeah, it is abso-freakin’-lootly incredible.

If you watch Game of Thrones at all, you will love the next five to six minutes.

Enjoy.


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