Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bueller's Basement

Right now there are only three search results for "Bueller's Basement" (BB).  Each result is a blog entry of mine.  I officially own this exact term.  Rather than having to explain what BB is every time I use the term...I figured that it would be easier (more efficient) to dedicate this blog entry to the full, and then some, explanation.  This way I can just link to this entry in the future.  As in...modular versus monolithic.

BB is kind of like the blog equivalent of a book's afterword.  For me, personally, it presents the opportunity to offer some additional, tangential or random insights and thoughts.

The term BB was inspired by the short scene after the ending of the iconic movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off (FBDO)...





"You're still here?  It's over.  Go home.  Go."

For some reason this scene where he directly addresses the audience really stuck with me.  Bueller obviously couldn't know for a fact whether anybody was actually still there.  But, in his case, given how good the movie was...it was a pretty good guess.  In my case though...most of my audience storms out in disgust after the first paragraph.  So if I'm lucky enough to have somebody actually make it all the way through my gauntlet of words...then they deserve a reward...of sorts.

Maybe a few months ago...or even a year ago...I wondered what would have happened if Bueller had continued talking...

"...well...since you're still here...I might as well tell you about..."

How long would the audience have stuck around for?  If his monologue was as fun and entertaining as the movie was...can you imagine what the audience "fall out" curve would have looked like?  How much longer would the very last audience member have stayed watching the movie?  Another two hours?  Another four hours?  Maybe even 24 hours?

Whenever somebody exited from this extended encore version of FBDO you could ask them..."why are you leaving?".  Their reasons, while different, would all boil down to the opportunity cost being too high.  The expected benefit of leaving would exceed the expected benefit of staying.  The wonderful part that's really worth appreciating is that no two people would reach the "opportunity cost is too high" point at exactly the same time.

Perhaps there's some other situation that would better illustrate this valuation variety?  I'm sure there is.  But I really enjoy the dynamics of a FBDO exceptionally extended encore ending.  First the audience thinks that the movie is over...which is probably really disappointing for most of them.  Bueller seems to sense that the audience doesn't want the movie to be over, which is why he comes out and tells them to go home.  But rather than in the original scene where he walks away and goes into a room...in this version he stops just before going into the room, looks back at the audience and sees that they are still there.  This helps him recognize and appreciate just how much the audience has valued his story.  So he has a change of heart and decides to begrudge them just a little more.  The audience is pleasantly surprised that they were wrong about the movie being over.  Their enjoyment becomes commingled with confusion as Bueller shares more and more...and more.  At this point he's probably down in the basement going through photo albums, showing the audience funny photos and relating wonderfully quirky tidbits about his best friend Cameron.  Of course the movie nerds would be greedily storing up all this treasure to impress their friends with.  But how much movie trivia could their nerdy little brains absorb in one sitting?  Each member of the audience would be performing their different opportunity cost calculations and leaving at different times...until there was only one person left.

What if this FBDO "experiment" was conducted with only one audience?  Can you imagine how much confusion there would be when they talked about the movie with other people?

Bob:  Have you seen FBDO?
Dan:  Of course, it was awesome!
Bob:  I can't believe that it was so long...but I loved every minute of it.  I stayed for 6 hours and would have stayed longer but I really couldn't miss work.  How long did you stay for?
Dan:  Errrr... what do you mean FBDO was 6 hours long?  How high were you when you watched it?
Bob:  I was only a little high!  How long was it for you?
Dan:  It sure wasn't six hours!  It wasn't longer than any other movie.
Bob:  How bizarre.  I don't think I was that high.  You can ask Samantha...we saw it together.  She wanted to stay longer too but I was her ride.
Dan:  I bet you were her ride.
Bob:  Very funny
Dan:  Did you have to pay any extra or something?
Bob:  Nope, just regular price.
Dan:  Man, I really got screwed!
Bob:  Well...two hours with Bueller is better than one hour with Bueller.  But you should really watch the long version...it's hilarious.
Dan:  I'll try and watch it this weekend.

Except, Dan wouldn't be able to watch it because it was only shown to one audience.

This "experiment" would be like a variety of the Folgers' experiment...

"We've secretly replaced this audience's regular FBDO with a "value added" version.  Let's see if anyone can tell the difference!"

Maybe it would be more appropriate to call switcheroo type experiments "Laban's experiment".  Laban was the original switcherooer...

"I've secretly replaced Jacob's bride Rachel with her sister Leah.  Let's see if he can tell the difference!"
21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.
24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? - Genesis 29.
This story never ceases to amuse me....in the morning, behold, it was Leah!  Behold!  I've been beguiled!  Hah.  How did Jacob not realize that it was Leah until the next morning?  Perhaps he was really drunk, it was really dark and they really didn't talk.  For sure it was a perfect concatenation of hazards.  Not unlike that one episode of Californication.  In any case, you got to give Labon props for the prank.

Hmmm...perhaps "Laban's experiment" can refer to switcheroos where the replacement is less valuable than the original and "Folgers' experiment" can refer to switcheroos where the replacement is more valuable than the original.  Everybody would prefer to be a "victim" of a Folgers' type experiment.

I remember quite a few years ago being outside on campus at UCLA either walking to or from a class.  The only other person around was a female student who was walking towards me.  When we were around 7 feet away from each other...all of a sudden a rat decided to run exactly between us from the shrubs on one side of the path to the shrubs on the other side.  The concrete path wasn't narrow...it was around 15 feet wide.  The girl and I stopped in surprise and waited a second or two for the rat to finish its mad dash.  Then we looked up and smiled genuinely at each other and continued walking.

A mundane event was switched with a memorable event.  If I had to guess though I'd say that in most situations, the addition of a random rat is probably more of a Labon's experiment than a Folgers' experiment for the people involved.

"We've secretly replaced this group's rat-less situation with a rat-full situation.  Let's see if they can tell the difference!"

If I had to choose the Folgers' type experiment that I remember most when I was growing up then it would be pretty easy.  It occurred during one lunchtime at school when I was around 11.  I went to a small private school so our class wasn't very large.  Our lunchtime, which we had outside, started off pretty typical with jokes, insults, food envy, trades and what not.  But then some of my classmates started snickering about something.  Curious about what was so interesting, I noticed that they kept glancing at the brand new housing development right next to the school.  When I looked at the house that was closest to our lunch area I saw that, in a second story window, there was a very attractive caucasian brunette in her 20s.  Much to my amazement, I realized that she was showering and completely visible from the waist up.

"We've secretly replaced these boys' ordinary lunchtime with a lunchtime that has real live boobs.  Let's see if they can tell the difference!"

Yes, we could tell the difference!  And did we ever appreciate it.  Thank goodness that the teacher who was eating lunch with us at the time was a young guy who appreciated the difference as well.  Of course, not nearly as much as we did.

It's hard to say exactly how long the lady continued to shower for.  It seemed simultaneously really long and way too short.  Eventually she realized that she was giving a bunch of boys a show that they would never forget.  When she realized this...her expression was priceless...full of shock and mortification...quickly followed by the most hasty exit from a shower ever.

"We've secretly replaced this lady's ordinary shower with a shower that can be seen by a bunch of gawking boys.  Let's see if she can tell the difference!"

Well...not immediately.

What particularly stood out for me was how dark her nipples were.  Not sure why but I was surprised that they weren't more pinkish.  I guess that, thanks to the few magazines that I'd managed to get my hands on, I was under the impression that all white chicks had pink nipples.  Needless to say...this magical Folgers' experiment quickly corrected that erroneous impression in the most wonderful way.

I wonder which of my classmates gets credit for first spotting the showering siren?  It's a pretty good example of Linus's Law...given enough eyeballs, all Easter eggs can be found.

Perhaps the general theme here revolves around unexpected/random supplemental content that's ideally of some value to somebody.  Hence, BB.

It might seem like formalizing/standardizing this type of content could ruin any magic.  But just because you know that a Cracker Jack box contains a prize doesn't mean that you know what the prize will be.  Same thing with geocaches and fortune cookies.

Do you eat fortune cookies?  I don't.  They aren't very tasty.  But a while back a friend received this very tasty fortune in her cookie...

"You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual"

What about like this...

"You transform the mundane into the magical"

Like Edward Weston's photograph of a bedpan...




Or Henri Cartier Bresson's photograph of a jumping fellow's reflection in a pool of water...




If you didn't notice, in the background of this photo there's another leaping figure.
I want the greater mystery of things revealed more clearly than the eyes see, at least more than the layman…Anything that excites me, for any reason, I will photograph: not searching for the unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual. - Edward Weston
...one must not have a too pronounced notion of what constitutes beauty in the external, and, above all, must not worship it.  To worship beauty for its own sake is narrow and one surely cannot derive from it that aesthetic pleasure which comes from finding beauty in the commonest things. - Imogen Cunningham
The movie that best embodies this sentiment is Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express.  It's easily my favorite movie.  No other movie has such a wealth of wonderfully mundane/magical details.  In fact, no other movie comes even close.  That's got to be a problem.

This problem can be solved by BB.  If somebody has read your entire blog entry, especially if it's a long entry, then why not offer them a bit more content that's of a somewhat different nature?  Give them an excuse to linger longer.  Share a fortune cookie that contains an awkward anecdote.  If your guests don't want to go away then serve them some strange dessert.  Serve them a wallop of whimsy.  Since they are there anyways, you might as well take the opportunity to err on the side of sharing too much information.  Have the mental equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction.  Expose some hidden corner of your psyche.  Even if its mundane, especially if it's mundane.

If your blog entry is a tree...then attach an epiphyte to it.

If your blog entry is a photo...then photobomb it.

When you finish writing your blog entry just imagine that there's one person out there who's saying...don't... stop.
































***************************************
Bueller's Basement

You're still here?  This blog entry ended a long time ago.  *awkward*  Well...since you're still here...

Heh, this feels a little redundant.

I wonder how many of you caught the Flight of the Conchords reference.  The correct answer is always "not enough"...

Flight of the Conchords- Business Time

If I had to pick a favorite song of theirs...I'd probably go with Carol Brown.  The thought of somebody arranging all my exes into a choir is wonderfully disturbing...especially if they sounded like a choir of angels.

My current gf has never been outside of the US before.  She's finally getting her passport and making plans to go to...Hungary?  What?  Sure, Budapest is nice...but why would anybody pick Hungary to pop their travel cherry?

Now I'm trying to remember who popped my travel cherry.  It was either Brazil or Honduras.  I remember both trips but for the life of me I can't remember which one came first.  Perhaps it really doesn't matter which country pops your travel cherry?  That can't be right.

My gf and I have the most enlightened conversations.  Not really.  Lately we've taken to replacing the subject of the conversation with the word "butthole".

gf: I feel like Thai food
xero: Your butthole feels like Thai food
gf: That's true

Not too long ago I watched an episode of The West Wing where they superstitiously avoided saying the word "recession" in the White House.  It was randomly decided to say "bagel" instead of "recession".  This inspired me to try replacing the word "butthole" with the word "bagel".

gf: I feel like Thai food
xero: Your bagel feels like Thai food
gf: That's true

The substitution quickly caught on.  But it does put a different twist on one of my favorite poems...
The Bagel
David Ignatow 
I stopped to pick up the bagel
rolling away in the wind,
annoyed with myself
for having dropped it
as if it were a portent.
Faster and faster it rolled,
with me running after it
bent low, gritting my teeth,
and I found myself doubled over
and rolling down the street
head over heels, one complete somersault
after another like a bagel
and strangely happy with myself.

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