Columnist for Monday, 5/7 - Sun Ra


Hi! How are you doing? Yeah, me too. This will be a pretty laid-back column, so if you feel like going to get a cold one before reading it, why don't you just go on ahead. I'll wait.

Back? Good! See, I told you I'd wait. So, the topic du jour is 'Explosions'. In particular, an exploration of why they are so cool. And they are cool, aren't they? People tell me it's a guy thing, but I see just as many women standing around to watch building demolition.

A little background. We're going to have another "theme week" here at Cant, wherein all the columnists write their columns based around the same thing. In this case, I'm going to pick a picture on the Internet, and everyone will write a column about it, or at least mentioning it. At least citing it. Even if only as Key Grip or Best Boy or Second Unit Catering Assistant.

Why do I get to choose? Because I'm the editor, dammit.

So I thought to myself, "Self, where will you find a totally random picture on the Internet that is cool and has many possible interpretations?" To which I replied, "I'll use a Search Engine!" Of course, that only led to the question "But what should I search for?" And I answered, "Spud Gun!"

If you don't know what a spud gun is, for a detailed answer you can do a google search on "Spud Gun" yourself, or go to The Spudgun Technology Center and check it out there. The short answer is: a homemade gun that shoots potatoes.

No, I don't know why that's the first thing that came to mind. Sometimes my neurons just finre randomly, it seems. But, it did lead me to wonder why it is that violent physical activity (blowing stuff up) is so cool.

Let me mention here that it is obvious why violent physical activity is cool if you are angry. It's cathartic. But if I'm in a great mood, I'll still enjoy watching a television get dropped off of a ten-story building. Why is that?

Looking at it from a strict Darwinian sense, nothing immediately springs to mind. Frankly, it seems rather anti-intuitive, as the following dialogue will illustrate:

CAVEMAN 1: "Gog. Volcano spit fire."
CAVEMAN 2: "Cool. I go look!"

I can see why building things is so gratifying. Building things is useful, and thus is behavior to be encouraged. If you have a more rain-proof hut, you get more chicks. But why is it so much fun to destroy things? Birds don't gather around to watch kids throwing rocks at nests. Well, unless it is their nest, in which case they are definitely not enjoying the proceedings. (Note to kids: throw rocks at bird nests and you're going to BURN BURN BURN in HELL HELL HELL).

Let's go back to the spudgun. (I dunno if it's one word or two. Frankly, I don't know if I should grant it enough real importance to care.) Why are they so nifty? There could be some argument for being favorably impressed by them. The ability to set some goal and then acquire and use engineering talent to achieve it is laudable, and certainly in keeping with evolutionary precepts. Yeah, yeah, I know that primitive tribes which mastered the art of suspension bridges were not necessarily the ones that survived, but I'm trying to find an explanation and am thus willing to stretch a bit.

But watching seven ounces of starchy tuber zip through the air at over a hundred miles an hour doesn't evoke the sort of quiet appreciation that, say, the Pieta does. The quiet appreciation of a successful conclusion to lots of work. No, it evokes a much more visceral, "Yee-haw!" sort of feeling. A feeling that, if you took me up on my suggestion to go snag a cold one earlier, you can probably associate with at a deeper level than if you didn't.

Frankly, it's a wonderful, joyful sense of excitement. And I can't for the life figure out why we're wired that way. Ah, well. Chalk it up to the whims of Chance or the Creator, and just enjoy it, I guess.

Anywhoo, I'd be interested to hear what you think. Feel free to use the comment feature to drop me a line. It may take a few days for me to respond - I've got this new accelerant I have to try in ol' Betsy. I'm thinking I can get the range out another 50 yards.

Sun Ra

P.S. Spudguns aside, I recently went to see The Forsaken, a mediocre vampire movie. As I was discussing it with my fiance, I observed that it had two highly unlikely and totally unnecessary large explosions (1. Hotel 2. Farmstead) in it, and that at such point as I make a vampire movie, I will leave out the explosions.

She informed me that they were pretty much the highlights of the film.

P.P.S. Did you see that spudgun page? There are people out there working out the mathematics for correctly rifling a spudgun. You know, once I get my Orbital Mind Control Lasers working again, there's a whole lot of creative power just waiting to be turned in an even vaguely useful direction.

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