Monday, September 30, 2013

Good at Blocks...But Still a Blockhead?

I’m good—I mean really good—at Tetris, that falling-puzzle-piece game that challenges quick-thinking spatial reasoning and hand-eye coordination. I routinely can make high-level games last for twenty minutes or longer, racking up 200 to 300 lines before “topping out.”

In fact, on September 26, I established a personal record of 541 lines, utilizing lightning-fast mental processing and dexterity that I somehow maintained for more than half an hour through numerous ultra-close calls. Yesterday, I nearly bettered it with a game of 538 lines.

But, as just happened a few minutes ago, I always encounter inexplicable difficulty in properly placing shoes in a shoe box—I keep turning the second shoe around and over and backward until it fits into the shoe box in proper opposition to the first shoe. Despite my proficiency at Tetris, this most basic of spatial challenges often takes me up to half a minute to solve. And after finally placing the shoes properly into the box, I’m forced to realize that even though I’m very talented at a video game, I’m a borderline failure at putting this ability to practical use.

Like Tetris, I used to be an ace at that old, submarine-periscope arcade game, Sea Wolf. But perhaps the hard truth is that, under combat conditions, I don’t possess the right stuff to sink an enemy warship. All those quarters wasted thinking I’d be a cinch to win the Navy Cross if I enlisted when I came of age. No wonder Somali pirates roam the Indian Ocean at will—I would’ve washed out of Navy Officer Candidate School and probably spent my hitch in the brig. No wonder my dress shoes forever lay around on closet floors—I’m too intimidated by my mental incapacity to put them back in their box.

Maybe I’m just a complete moron who happens to be an idiot savant at Tetris.

Yeah, yeah, two seconds to green z-shape, yeah…

Sunday, September 1, 2013

In 1939, Poland Had the Worst Seat in the House; in 2013...

On this, the 74th anniversary of the start of World War II, it seems fitting to post this photo, which has been making the rounds on the Internet this year.

Especially on this day, the poor guy squeezed between these two behemoths is all too reminiscent of Poland trapped between Germany, on his left, and the Soviet Union, on his right. Like Poland, he is powerless to defend himself and will be crushed long before the game is over.

Soon after Germany's blitzkrieg, which commenced on September 1, 1939, the Soviet Union, having previously signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, invaded from the east...effectively obliterating Poland as a sovereign nation.

Both England and France, having pledged to defend Poland at all costs, then declared war on Germany. Yet, like the two spectators sitting disinterestedly in the front row, they did virtually nothing to aid their besieged and very uncomfortable ally.

(The people in the row to the rear ably represent Holland [as evidenced by the man's orange shirt] and the other Low Countries, all of which were soon to feel the murderous weight of Germany when the woman on the left leaned back in her seat.)

And speaking of France and her role in the Second World War, no photo could be more appropriate than this one...