It’s my feeling that we’ve drastically underthought the elevator. Here is a device that could offer many useful functions, but is instead offering only one: delivering people and objects from one floor to another in multi-story buildings. It makes me sick, and I’d like to workshop a few ideas.

  • The Elevator as Mobile Closet: So you live in a huge house – a ten-story house, let’s say. And you love to really occupy all those floors. You’re back and forth, up and down, sometimes sleeping on 3, sometimes shooting a game of pool on 8, etc. Why should you always have to go to your bedroom on 10 in order to access your clothes or your rollerblades or porno-mags or what have you? Well, you don’t! No, all you have to do is make your elevator your closet — install shelves, hanging bars, magazine racks — and you’ll be able to call it to you from any floor in your house — even the lobby! Your house has a lobby, can you believe it?! Way to go, kid — you totally went all the way with your idea about novelty pencils where the lead breaks super easily!

  • The Elevator as Desk Area: Do you work two jobs? Are they for two different companies that happen to be in the same building, just on different floors? Isn’t it a huge pain in the ass to try to be in both places all day long, servicing the needs of both the companies that have hired you to do a discrete, fulltime job for them? I hear that. Consider taking over one of the elevators as your desk area. That way you can quickly shuttle between one job and the other, keeping all your stuff right there in front of you on your desk. As a bonus, nobody will ever know if you’re actually gone, working at your other job, or simply working with the doors to your office closed to avoid distraction. Just tell the folks at either company that when they want to talk to you, they should push your doorbell, and you’ll come out as soon as you’re ready.
  • The Elevator as Plain Old Storage Closet: So you’ve got a bunch of elevators in your building — more than enough, in fact! What you could really use is another plain old storage closet in which to put boxes and maybe cleaning supplies and the like. No problem. Turn the power off in one of the elevators, wedge its doors open, fill the crack between the elevator and the walls and floor with plaster, run an extension cord in there and plug in a lamp — voila! You’ve got your storage closet!
  • Elevator as Incubator: Need to hatch some chicks, some baby chickens? Get you some of those hot bulbs — a bunch of them — and install them in the ceiling of the elevator. Now get some batting or hay or that easter-basket-fake-grass-tinsel stuff and line the floor with it — shoot for a good six to eight inches of insulation. Now nestle those eggs in there in the lining like you do, and sit back and let nature take its course. If you’re doing this as a classroom experiment, the elevator is a great idea because it allows you to share your experiment with classes on floors above and below yours. As a nice surprise, reach in and press the floor of Ms. Henry’s class; the elevator will whisk the chicks — batting, hotlamps and all — to the chosen floor and open up on Ms. Henry’s kids, giving them a great view of your simulation of the ovular gestation of baby chickens. Just make sure, if you ended up using the easter basket grass, to attach a sign that says, “Attention! These are NOT Easter eggs! These are live baby chickens undergoing ovular gestation before your eyes! The heatlamps simulate the warmth of mother hens who would normally sit on top of the eggs for weeks until the babies have hatched! Do not eat!” A nice prank to execute on say Halloween or April Fools is to take out the eggs and fill the elevator with blood (water dyed a nice deep red is fine) so that when it opens a sanguineous tidal wave crashes like an avalanche through Ms. Henry’s classroom. The trick is to leave the sign in the elevator so that the kids think something has gone wrong with the incubation process.

The Science Diaries #8

Mastodons, We have entered Phase

We have entered Phase II of the release of the new album, and the excitement is palpable, it’s practically dripping down the walls. Phase I: We tell you nothing; we develop the album in secret without offering even the slightest hint that an album is in development; we give you one thing and that is a total lack of information. Phase II: We give you a beefy, well-fed preview of the album; this is what happened today; we drop a preview on you, out of the blue, and it explodes your goddamn mind, driving first into your mind from all sides, like a hundred little drillers, and then exploding the whole damn thing; you are in this phase now. Phase III is of course when we roll out the full-fledged, 40 ounce, scratch and sniff album, which is a little ways off yet.
There’s a lot of confusion out there, a lot of hysteria, a lot of excited moaning and hysteric confusion. The safest way, we feel, to approach this sort of situation is through an FAQ. And . . . . voila:
What will it be called? The album will be called Ask Your Doctor About We Are Scientists, and frankly that’s just what you should do.
What form will it take? A three-song e.p. with bonus materials.
Bonus materials? Divulge! Never. Lest the surprise be smeared. Among other things, you can expect a hi-res version of the Great Escape video, that fateful video, so that you and your loved ones will be able to experience its full-screen, tiny-pixelled beauty. Until then, make do with what is currently posted on the front page

The Chronicles of Riddick having seen the preview many times but never the actual film [spoilers!]

Coming at the end of an embarrassing string of cruddy action poops like XXX and XXX 2: Bat Poison, The Chronicles of Riddick is probably Dave Riddick�s last shot at wearing the heavyweight title that he would inherit from those action fixtures of the 80�s and 90�s of whom he seems a watery amalgamation: Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis. Alas, the film announces not a victory, but instead Riddick�s intention to downclass to middleweight, to sprint and punch and stutter along with the Jean-Claude Van Dammes of the world, the Steven Seagals, the Dolph Lundgrens. Perhaps the problem is that all the good action scripts now draw talent like Tom Cruise and Will Smith, leaving guys like Riddick only ill-reasoned, dialog-tarded, proto-CGI fests. That said, Riddick and his emponymous film leave you with little doubt that Dave Riddick is here to stay, if only to fight his way through ten more years worth of high-action, low-concept films that will continue to be sufficiently entertaining to a certain demographic.
The year is 201704 A.D. (or whatever it was in Pitch Black), and the Necromongers, a warrior society intent on cosmic domination, are battling their way across the universe, leaving in their wake a scatter of scathed planets, their cities razed, their water supplies fouled, their nuns tempted. On each conquered world, the Necromongers plant half a dozen mile-high statues, effigies of the ruthless Necromonger High Commander, Pat. These serve both to remind the 19 people left living who it was again that erased their entire culture, and also to be scaled and swung from during theoretically harrowing fight scenes involving Riddick�s character, Vin Diesel.
It is by absent-mindedly running over a tiny model ship with their big model ship that the Necromongers first encounter Diesel, who is shown prior to the running-over in a shot that implies he�s on the tiny model ship, even though there�s no way even a cat could wedge itself into the tiny ship � by comparison, maybe five cats could comfortably hang out in the Necromongers� ship. Diesel looks on with his kind-of-wide-eyed facial expression, bathed in fire-colored lighting, as the tiny model ship that he�s make-believing he�s on is run over by the Necromonger ship. In the next shot, he�s a prisoner of the Necromongers, who all dress in armor, except for Winnie (Thandie Newton), who dresses in three small patches of fabric the same color as Necromonger armor. Winnie is High Commander Pat’s daughter and the wife of Zantor (Mathew McConaughey), second-in-command and first general under Pat. Winnie and Zantor both take an immediate liking to Vin Diesel, who impresses them as both a prime physical specimen and a person with shiny silver eyes. Also, as a purveyor of bon mots such as �Be my guest� and �You�ve got to be kidding�, he�s a hell of a funny guy to be around. Many happy interludes are had by these three burgeoning compadres. Zantor even offers Diesel a taste of Winnie�s ass, to which Diesel replies pithily, �I�m into guys.�
All is well until, 90 seconds after arriving on the Necromonger ship, Diesel tells his hosts that he�s ready to go, and that they should provide him with a ship since they smashed his little model ship. Winnie shoots Zantor a look that says �We can�t just let him walk out of here,� and her mouth says the very same thing, leaving little doubt in Zantor�s mind as to where Winnie stands on the issue of �Should Vin Diesel leave the Necromonger ship? Further, should we give him a small ship to leave on?� Zantor implores Diesel to stay, to share and assist in building the mighty Necroneptor empire, but Diesel declines by punching three Necroneptor soldiers in quick succession and driving a small ship out into space. Zantor and Winnie send the cr�me de la cr�me of their royal guard after Diesel, and turn their attention to the next planet they are �visiting�.
After several days of travel, Diesel stops off at a space station to refuel. Nature calls, and he rents out four lily white twelve year-olds and gets a room at the space station hotel and drills the children�s back ends into pudding, then settles in for a good night�s sleep. He wakes in the middle of the night with the gentle suspicion that he�s being watched; indeed, his bed is surrounded by the cr�me de la cr�me of the Necroneptor royal guard, and there is a pile of dismembered twelve year-old parts in the corner, right where he left them. Though he fights like a bobcat in a burlap sack, Diesel is ultimately no match for the bobcat that the royal cr�me put him in a sack with, and with a look on his face that says �I can�t believe this is happening,� and a mouth that says the same, he is hauled back to Necroneptor HQ, where he is tortured and his eyes are removed and surgically installed in Winnie, silver eyes being what she has always wanted and what, in fact, the Necroneptors have been scouring the universe for all along. And so the deadly wave of Necroneptorian destruction rather abruptly reaches an unforeseen high water mark and recedes back to its origin, never to be heard from or worried about again. The Necroneptors leave the statues behind as remuneration for �any damage [they] might have caused.� Also, they no longer have room for the statues on their ship, for they have picked up tons of souvenirs.
What I liked most about Riddick was its refusal to trade in moral certainties, a rare bravery in the action/sci-fi genre. Though we identify with Diesel, with his bald head and flaring muscles, we aren�t quite sure what to make of his homicidal pederasty and blanket sadism and slavish addiction to chocolate. Likewise the Necroneptors, though we can�t easily agree with their means, ultimately show themselves to be sensitive, thoughtful collectors of silver eyes. In telling a story like Riddick, the filmmakers had to make a pact with themselves, a promise to avoid compromise at all costs. They held rigidly to this promise, and while Riddick is stylistically clich�d and the dialog is horribly underwritten and the acting is for the birds and the set pieces are ugly and the action sequences are confusing and unbelievable, still it has an undeniable authenticity of the sort that is all too scarce in mainstream movies.
Riddick, then, is ultimately a colossal, consummate failure; however it is not without a final scene in which Dave Riddick has his eyes flipped out by Dame Judie Dench�s sorbet spoon.

The Magician

The magician walks with a very long stride. When he takes the stage – which in deference to his fame and the many paying customers it attracts is quite large – he needs only five steps to reach its center. The audience falls immediately silent; the magician’s shows are known to be both short and spectacular, and no one wants to miss anything.

That the magician’s voice carries as well as it does is a surprise; even those seated in the balcony’s last row are enveloped by the sound of it. He asks for a volunteer, specifying that she be a female virgin. After a minute or so of mumbling from the audience, a girl from the fifth row makes her way the short distance to the stage, climbs a stack of moveable stairs placed there for the occasion, and walks to stage-center where the magician has directed her to stand. Her long hair blends almost perfectly into a simple black dress beneath which her figure explores the beginnings of womanhood. The magician takes two long steps away from her and faces the audience. He says, “Since I was boy I�ve enjoyed luck with those of the opposite sex. More than a few of them have I ushered across the river of sexual fruition, from the isle of innocence to the crowded, communal mainland, each girl leaving behind her marooned life and ambling gently into a world of shared flesh.” He waves his wand, a long leather stick reminiscent of a riding crop, with a flourish. “Chalk up another one!” There is a stir of bemusement from the audience, and the girl wears a patient look sarcastically. From offstage comes a man in a long white coat, a medical doctor who sets down next to the girl his case of instruments, rummages therein, and then subjects her to the briefest examinations before verifying, to the crowd’s gasping amazement, that the she has indeed lost her virginity.

By the time the girl, her cheeks flushed becomingly, finds her way back to her seat, the magician is dangling a large white rabbit aloft by the ears. In the other hand, he holds a sharp knife. The rabbit strains slightly to get a look around, but on the whole appears quite calm. The magician says, “Now I want you to tell me everything you know, little rabbit.” He arches one long eyebrow, then eviscerates the rabbit with a graceful, understated gesture. The stroke is so clean that the rabbit doesn’t swing side to side even a little. Another round of gasps from the audience as the rabbit’s guts slough onto the stage. The magician says, “You spilled your guts. It’s rare that interrogations go this well. I’ll reward you with a nice, relaxing vacation inside my hat. It’s just what you need.” The magician removes his hat and places the rabbit inside, without releasing the ears. He says, “Feeling better?” then slowly raises the rabbit back out of the hat to reveal that it is alive and well, with no sign of a fatal abdominal gash. The magician sets the rabbit down at his feet, and there is great applause as the rabbit hops healthily offstage.

The magician says, “I feel like a smoke.” He takes a pack of cigarettes from inside his jacket, removes one, and replaces the box. With a golden lighter that has appeared in his hand, he lights his cigarette. He then encloses the lighter in a large fist and lowers it to his side. He proceeds to smoke in silence and with very little movement, the cigarette never leaving his lips. He smokes. He does not ash the cigarette. When the tobacco has been completely smoked, the magician does not remove it from his mouth and continues to stare straight ahead. The ember continues to creep along the cigarette’s butt, until protruding from the magician’s lips is a three-inch column of ash. Smoke continues to rise from the point where ash now meets human lips. Slowly, the magician’s lips begin going gray. Slowly, the cinder organism expands, creeping out from the lips toward the chin and nose and cheeks. The magician’s eyes blink occasionally, but he is otherwise motionless, concentrating on some point near the back of the theater. His eyes give one final blink just as the upper lids transmute, and the lashes snow to the floor. Within a few minutes, the magician’s neck, shoulders, torso, hips, arms and legs have combusted, so that he appears from any distance to be the grisly mutilation of a statue, hands of living flesh and black leather shoes somehow grafted onto the cool granite. And when finally the hands and shoes have receded completely before the creeping cherries, the magician’s form disintegrates like an overburdened sandcastle, the golden lighter clattering to the stage.

A Top Secret, Highly-Sensitive Letter to General Donald Rumsfeld

More on the LRAD here.
More on the Active Denial System here.

Dustin, NA, Alex

name: Dustin
query: Hey, im 16 and i just recentky told my friends and some other people that i am not a virgin, but i really am, and i have let it go now so long, that now when i tell them that i was lying they dont believe me and i was just wondering. What are the statistics for how many guys lie about not being a virgin? i would appreciate if u could answer this for me. thank you.

If your friends won’t believe the truth, then lying to them is the only way you and they will ever have a friendly conversation.
As to how many guys lie about not being a virgin, we did an informal survey of the band and came up with 100%. Extrapolate those numbers and you find that most and maybe all young men dishonestly deny their sexual inexperience. Who can say why? Is it because chicks only want to do guys who have done tons of other chicks? While chicks definitely feel that way, there may be something more to it. It may be that a fella’s inclination to lie is really based on a desire to seem mature, knowledgeable, cool to his male friends. Certainly that’s the reason a guy gets a fake I.D.: not to fool a bouncer into thinking he’s older than he really is, but to fool his buddies. “Oh, you guys thought I was fourteen like you? No, no. No, man, check out my I.D… yeah, I’ll be twenty-two in July.”
Not to amplify the significant pressure that you apparently already feel to check off “nother person” on your To Do list, but have you considered that one easy way to solve the problem would be for you to go ahead and actually lose your virginity, except for real this time? An informal poll of the members of W.A.S. shows that nearly 35% of us enjoyed the experience of losing our virginity, and a full 66%(!!) are “kind of glad” or “very glad” that they ever did. Strong results that speak a powerful message, Dustin.
name: N/A
query: I’m confused.
Us too, but in a good way, you know? Like, who really wants to have it all figured out? How great is the not knowing, the anticipation, the hoping! How much better than the naked form is the carefully clothed one! How much more exciting the question before you than the answer unveiled! What point would there be to any of this, N/A, if we knew where it would all lead? Cursed omniscience! Weep for God, N/A, and his lidless vision!
name: Alex
query: Hey guys, i have been thinking latley about asking this girl out at my school, but i dont think she likes me. i’m short and fat, how can i get her to like me?
If We Are Scientists has taught the world anything, it’s that guys who don’t necessarily fit the Beveryly Hills 90210 formula for male hotness (baggy jeans shorts; tall, stiff hair; fake jobs; etc.) can still appeal to women. All you have to do is be in a triple-awesome rock band. Do that, and you’re home free. Short and fat? Irrelevant. Look at Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids — dude’s shaped like Danny DeVito, yet he’s got em lining up. Probably he does. At any rate, that guy from Smashmouth, the lead singer guy, is clearly rolling in dates. Every time he shows up at some insiders-only event, like a movie premier or a Toys-R-Us opening, his stretch H2 disgorges dozens of bulemic actress-waitresses in a farcical, Caligulan emulation of the old “How many more clowns can possibly come out of that mini-bus?” trick.
Now, if the problem is that you’re not only short and fat but also operating outside the pheremoneous cloud of rock, then the situation is substantially more complex. What you’ll have to do, Alex, in the absence of both celebrity cach� and traditional good looks, is present this girl with something else to make up for it. Whether it be a decent sense of humor, an impressive (non-Star Trek) skill, or a compassionate kindness that her CEO dad and quarterback-ex-boyfriend never had the time to show her, you’ll need to bring something to the table. Because while there are girls out there who’ll date you simply because they feel sorry for you, who think that, like an old mutt with a smashed hip, you deserve their pity — while these girls do exist, and they’re not bad people, sympathy is the foundation for a pretty dull romance, one you might as well avoid. Hold out for a chick whom you fascinate. Avoid the horror that is 99.4% of highschool romance. Unless you’re in college, in which case we can’t recommend too strongly that you treat yourself to a nice highschool romance.