Future Historical Reenactment

Recently I’ve been watching videos of someone who’s dedicated his life to historical reenactment. Specifically he enjoys reenacting the United States at around the time of the Revolutionary War. While I enjoyed learning about how people lived back then, I still find it weird that a person who spend his life recreating the past. Imagine if 200 years from now there is a bunch of random people who dressed and acted like people from the 1950’s to the 2010’s, portraying what life was like back then. In fact, I thought it would be fun to imagine how we would be portrayed by these future historical reenactors.

First of all, will people of the future be able to understand the nuanced differences between the different decades? To us, the difference between the 1950’s and 2010’s are very stark, but we generally have no clue as to what cultural difference exist between the 1750’s and the 1810’s. In fact, the modern person (the average Americans at least) tends to conflate everything that happened from the time of Shakespeare to the end of the 19th century. We might end up in a very weird situation where people thought poodle skirts were period-appropriate fashion during the 1990’s, or that hearing gangsta rap on the radio was perfectly common during the 1950’s.

The second thing is that there are so many different subcultures during the period we live in. We have nerds, jocks, hippies, gamers, stoners, goths, ravers, and the list goes on and on and on. Each subculture has its own set of values and practices, and view some practices of other subculture as anathema. Will future generation not understand these subcultures, and conflate them all together? Will there be a historical reenactor who portrays a hippie-jock-stoner who makes cat videos? It is possible, but it wouldn’t portray the average person of our time.

Another problem for historical reenators of the future is that so much of contemporary life depends on technology. Imagine a person 200 years from now who wants to drive a Thunderbird. Most likely a car will not last 200 years because of rust, and it would be almost impossible to find parts to repair such a vehicle. Furthermore, 200 years from now there might not be any gasoline because all cars by then will be electric. (Also, 200 years from now almost all petroleum will be used, making gasoline a scarce resource.) A person in the future may still be able to get a 200-year-old car to run, but only the very rich will be able to afford it.

This problem gets worse with electronic technology. Electronics break down over time, and because even the simplest consumer electronic device will be very complicated, it would be nearly impossible to repair. You can, in principle, use emulators to simulate old computers, but there will always be some aspect of the technology that will not be precisely copied by this technique.

Historical reenactment in modern times have concentrated on the subject of war. Therefore, in the United States the two most common time periods to reenact are the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Will people 200 years from now be doing reenactments of World War II, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan? But there’s an obvious problem, because modern wars are fought with tanks, airplanes and missiles, and how will the average person of the future be able to afford those things? Also, a lot of recent wars were guerrilla wars, but that would mean most war reenactment would be getting ambushed, running into booby traps and burning down peasant villages, none of which sounds very fun.

Maybe people from the future won’t be obsessed with war and will be fascinated by our culture. Perhaps historical reenactment in the future would be something like reenacting the lives of the Beatles, or pretending to be a rapper. What nowadays would be just considered forming a tribute band would in the future be considered historical reenactment. Maybe they will memorialize movements when a subjugated people earned some rights, such as the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe they will be fascinated by our video games, and think that this was the Golden Age of Video Games. There are a lot of possibilities.


Do Clocks Speak?

Do airplanes speak to birds
With the rumble of their engines?
Do clocks speak to one another
By the secret language of ticks?

If microwaves can talk
What would they say?
Will they want to be set free
and play in the light of day?

Do computers laugh at us
For all the mistakes we make?
What hilarity must they find in us
Hidden beneath the binary

The Digital Religion

A black screen glows
A kaleidoscope of images and sounds pours forth
A new religion is born

A church built of electrons
sitting in the clouds
floating on fibers of light

What dedicated worshipers sit
in silent meditation
Rapturous gaze at holy icons

Minds meld across the electronic aether
Adrift in collective trance
A digital nirvana

No greater god existed
than the gods of glass and silicon
Cradled in our hands

Take a picture of yourself
Post it
You are now a god

Followed by image-worshipers
from here to the ends of the earth

We are all gods in a sea of gods
Electronic souls raptured into a silicon heaven

My Sister the Queen

“One, two, three-step, four, five, six-step” I whispered to myself as my tender legs bent, stretched and hopped across the floor of sister’s room, dancing to Bach’s “Minuet in G Major”. I looked up and saw my sister in a corner of the room, sitting on her Rococo-style gilded chair, crossing her legs elegantly while sipping tea. She looked down at me with a smug smile like a condescending British aristocrat; wearing a refined Regency-style dress decked out with puffy sleeves, a reasonable amount of lace, and a tasteful amount of décolletage. She was only one pair of white gloves away from looking like the Queen of England.

I got nervous whenever I danced for sister, she looked down at me with such a sense of superiority — as though she owned me. But I did enjoy getting a chance to wear her dresses, she had such a refined sense of taste. I was always mesmerized as I watch the pleats of my skirt twirl as I danced in circles in sister’s room, and enjoy the sensuous feeling of the soft cotton petticoat and underpants rubbing across my legs. I did not have a dancing partner, so I danced with a broomstick attached to a Roomba that had been specially programmed to dance.

Suddenly, sister clapped her hands and said, “Halt! And turn off the music.” My feet quickly stopped at her command, although the Roomba continued to circumambulate for a few seconds. I walked over to her iPod and stopped the music, then looked up at her. She was wearing a wry smile on her face as she signaled for me to come closer. Then, speaking with the most perfect Received Pronunciation, she sternly commanded, “I believe it’s time for some more tea.”

“Yes, m’lady,” I responded, using the closest approximation of the Queen’s English I can imitate, then curtsied.

She looked displeased, then said, “Thou wretched plebeian! Did I not tell thee to address me by my proper title?”

I felt nervous and bit my lips, then curtsied again and said, “I’m sorry, your majesty, your royal highness, Queen Terri Majoria, Duchess of Scotland and Bavaria, Countess of Saxony, Protector of Aquitaine, Countess of the Isle of Man and the Right Hand of God.”

She looked satisfied, then said, holding out her tea cup, “Now, some tea.”

I poured her a cup of tea, then spent a minute staring at her while awaiting for further instructions. After a while she seemed to have forgotten that I was standing next to her, and when she looked up she seemed surprised. Reverting back to her usual California accent, she said, “Well, nobody told you to stop dancing. ”

I bowed, walked over to her iPod to turn on the music, then resumed dancing. A few minutes later mom walked into the room with a scarf on a coat hanger in her hand. A bemused look appeared on her face when she saw me dancing in sister’s room in a dress, she never saw me do this before and asked, “Why are you dancing with a Roomba?”

Sister glanced up at my mother with a mischievous smile and said, “We’re playing a game called ‘queen and slave’.”

Mom wrinkled her forehead and said, “Excuse me, I asked Robbie, not you.”

“Ah, but in this game Robbie is not allowed to speak unless spoken to.”

“I see,” mom said, opening the closet to put the scarf in, then closing the closet. “How does this game work?”

“Well, I tell Robbie what to do, and he does it. That’s basically it.”

Mom shook her head with disapproval, then said, “And what does Robbie get out of it?”

“Well, he gets to wear all kinds of pretty dresses and play with my toys.”

“That seems like a pretty exploitative relationship.”

“Yeah, but he wouldn’t have to do this if you bought him some girly clothes.”

Mom rolled her eyes and said, “I’m not buying a boy a dress.”

She began walking out of the room, but had to duck to avoid walking into a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Sister decorated her room to look like a ballroom, and used me as a living prop to pretend that she’s living inside a Jane Austen novel.

After mom left the room, sister raised her tea cup, then said in RP, “Ah, my personal slave, it feels like I’m living in Regency England.”

“You know, there weren’t any slaves in Regency England,” I said.

She glared at me and shouted, “Shut up, slave!”

I stopped dancing, curtsied, then said, “Sorry, your majesty, your royal highness, queen of…”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said in her normal accent, waving her left hand, “I don’t need to hear all that, just get back to dancing.”

I bowed, then continued to minuet with the Roomba. I usually did not break sister’s rules, but I can’t stand a factual error go unchallenged. 10 minutes later my dad walked in the room; there was a special glow on his face as he saw me. He enjoyed seeing me dance as much as Terri, so he opened his arms and said, “Hey, how’s my special little girl doing?”

A smile immediately appeared on my face, because so far he has been the only person willing to call me a girl. I wanted to jump into his arms, but I still had to deal with sister. I stopped dancing, bowed down to Terri and said, “May I be dismissed, your majesty?”

“Thou shan’t be dismissed at thy pleasure!” sister said.

But dad knew exactly how to handle the situation, he grabbed a roll of wrapping paper as a pretend sword, then said in the most melodramatic Shakespearean actor voice, “I am Prince Ivan, Lord of Prussia, Duke of Zurich, Regent of Hanover, Mayor of Moscow, Bishop of Milan, Gourmand of Capon, and I have come to free this fair noble maiden from thou tyrant!”

Terri looked at dad with contempt, then said, “Robbie is no noble maiden, she is a commoner who I have taught how to be prim and proper.”

“Bloody tabernacle!” dad yelled, pointing his pretend sword at sister, “I challenge you to a duel for the freedom of Maiden Robin!”

Looking incredulous, Terri said, “‘Tis improper tusk for a nobleman to challenge a lady to a duel, knowest not thou the etiquette of the Regency period?”

Dad put down the wrapping paper, then said in his normal voice, “Look, people during the Regency period have already stopped using ‘thou’ so you’re already stretching the rules of your game.”

Terri switched back to her normal voice as well, and said, “Fine, you can have her, or him, or whatever…”

I bowed one last time to Terri, then ran into dad’s arms, squealing in joy. He picked me up off the ground carried me to my room; I looked into his eyes, so shiny and full of joy. After putting me on my bed, he said with unmatched excitement on his face, “Robin, I have a surprise for you!” He reached into a bag, at first I thought it was jewelry but instead he took out a plush toy panda. I would have preferred the jewelry, but I still squealed as I caressed the panda in my arms because I knew it was a gift from the heart.

“I noticed that you like to play with your sister’s panda, so I made you one so you wouldn’t have to share.”

I was surprised, and said, “You made it? But how?”

“Well, I took a regular stuffed panda and put some robotics and artificial intelligence into it. Here, watch,” he said, setting the panda on the bed, he said into the panda’s ear, “Sing ‘I’m a Little Tea Pot’.”

The panda moved its lips and sang “I’m a little tea pot short and stout…”

“Now dance as well,” he said, and the panda immediately got up on its hind legs and did the dance that accompanied the song. I sat there, my mouth agape in amazement, looked into dad’s bewitching eyes and wrapped my arms around his neck and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. He felt a bit embarrassed by my action, but was okay with it. He continued, “I have programmed it to do more than just sing and dance.”

“Like what?”

“Stop panda,” he said, and the panda stopped dancing. “Panda, who built the pyramids?”

The panda lowered its head as though to think, then raised his head to look at dad and said, “The pyramids were built by the ancient Egyptians from about 2700 BC to 1700 BC. The first pyramid was built by the pharaoh Djoser. The Mesoamericans also built structures that looked like pyramids.”

I was far less impressed with Panda’s ability to answer questions, because I already had Wikipedia for that. I was far more interested by his ability to sing and dance. But dad seemed to be far more interested in Panda’s ability to answer trivia questions. Dad’s face lighted up as he said, “Just imagine how much more intelligent Panda will be after a few more years of learning.”

“Can he learn how to love?” I asked.

Dad suddenly looked as though he had a revelation, then said, “It would be hard, but I don’t think it’s impossible.” For a few more minutes he watched me play with the panda, making him do all sorts of dance and song routines, then he rubbed the back of my head, walked up from the bed and said, “Well, I have to get back to work, see you later.”

I was surprised, I thought he had time to play with me. As he left I grabbed his arm and whimpered, “Please, don’t go.”

Dad smiled at me and said, “Aww, don’t worry, see you at dinner.”

“But daddy, when will we have time to be together?”

“I’ll make it up to you, we’ll go fishing over the weekend, okay?” I was satisfied, but I hate the fact that he chooses his work over me. I understand it, but I still hate it. After he left I laid on the bed with Panda in my arms. I got bored after a while, so I lifted Panda in front of my face and asked, “Can you really learn how to love?” Panda rotated its head, then said, “Yes, someday, someday.” I was very pleased, and held him close to any chest as I drifted off into sleep, taking my afternoon nap.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Lunch!

Three score and eleven years ago
our corporate overlords brought forth a nation
conceived in sin
and dedicated to the principle
that “all money is created equal.”

A nation where our children
will not be judged
on the content of their character
but on the content of their bank accounts.

Give me Liberty or give me Lunch!

Let Taco Bell ring!
Let Taco Bell ring from the diabetic state of Mississippi
Let Taco Bell ring from the illegal prisons of Guantanamo
Let Taco Bell ring from the minimum wage purgatory of McDonald’s

Ask not what your country can do for you
Ask what Starbucks can do for your country
We chose to go to war not because it was easy
but because it contributed to the profits of Northrop-Grumman

And the brave men who have died
have not died in vain
But so
a government of the military-industrial complex
by the military-industrial complex
and for the military-industrial complex
shall continue to be a parasite on the earth

Actually Useful Movie Ratings

Currently, the Motion Picture Association of America has five ratings for movies: G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17. However, many people find this ratings system not very useful, so I proposed another ratings system that is more relevant.

EGT – Explosions, Gore and Titillation: This film is only suitable for those easily amused by explosions, gore, or men/women in skimpy outfits.

DEP – Depressing: This film is critically praised but has a plot too depressing for most people to enjoy.

SE – Special Effects: This film has excellent special effects but is not suitable for those who enjoy good plots or acting.

BRO – Bro: This film is suitable for bros. Contains mainly adolescent and off-color humor few other people enjoy.

S – Science: This film contains so much advanced scientific concepts it may not be interesting to people who don’t have at least a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering.

C – Celebrity: You will see this film despite the fact you neither enjoy the genre or the plot, but because your favorite celebrity is in it.

SEQ – Sequel: This film is a lower-quality sequel to a higher-quality film.

NOS – Nostalgia: This film exploits your childhood nostalgia for a franchise that is no longer popular.

A – Animation: This film is that incredibly popular 3-D (or 2-D) animation film that your kid will be obsessed with, and makes her constantly sing songs from the movie and bug you to buy merchandise.

ROM-COM – Romantic Comedy: This is that somewhat boring and formulaic romantic comedy film you have to take your girlfriend to.

T – Teens: This film was made for teens, despite the fact that it contains extremely mature subject-matter such as violence, sex, and other adult situations.

Intentionally Bad Poem

This poem was written intentionally bad
Its atrocious lines will certainly make you sad

The rhymes it uses are incredibly lame
It twice rhymes the word “lame” with the word “lame”

It uses meters that are incredibly forced
Like a mouse and deer fighting a Norse
Non-sequiturs spew everywhere you see
Like a mongoose wearing Spandex jeans
It has no purpose and goes nowhere
Have you seen Vladimir Putin fighting a bear?

This poet does not understand the word “metaphor”
The way a calculator knows not the square root of negative four
Alliteration, assonance, what’s that all about?
Who the hell cares, I think a sphere is a cow

The images I paint with words are a total mess
Like what happens when Freddy Krueger kisses Eliot Ness

If you want elegant verses read a really good poet
I just sit down at the keyboard and totally wing it