28 May 2009

Einstein Sings: A Play in No Acts

Well, here it is. The final published edition of Einstein Sings: A Play in No Acts by Seth Davidson & Levi S. Johnston. Click the image for a preview of the first few pages and the back cover. Hopefully we will get to see this play produced. Until then, it is an enjoyable read, even for people who don't typically read plays. There are lots of humorous footnotes and Authors' Notes, funny imagery, and a good dose of old-fashioned hilariousness.

Why I Post My Bad Poetry

It is no secret that I am not a big fan of poetry. Now, I don't blame poetry in itself, nor do I blame the many talented poets that have formed and creatively expanded the literary art form. In fact, I have good friends who also happen to be poets.

Actually, I'd like to take this moment to introduce you to Dr. Constance Stadler. I quick search on her name (or the alternative "Connie Stadler") will bring you to many places where she has posted her thought-provoking, sesquipedalian compositions. In addition to her poetry skills, she is a wonderful person that was a great help to me while I was in college.

Still, though I find some poetry interesting, it tends not to interest me. Granted, I have a science background with only spurious abilities in writing satire (or whatever you might be able to call much of what I write) and interpreting plays, and a great deal of practice writing research reports. Most of my language/literature courses beyond high school were only taken as required or because they were in some way related to theatre.

This brings me to what I believe to be why I am not a fan of poetry. Throughout all of my English and literature courses, not much time was ever spent on poetry. It was a short section at the end of a chapter in a couple of classes. The names (not necessarily the works) of Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, and Robert Frost are just a few that I remember from high school. Perhaps because of the required standards and objectives in those classes the topic of poetry was less important than knowing parts of speech and being able to use an encyclopedia.

So, as a result of not understanding much of poetry, I fall to the default position of not really caring much about it.

Why, then, do I write poems? Even more importantly: why do I post my bad poetry for all the world to see? (Based on the number of comments I get on my blog, that could be as many as my wife.) I certainly can tell that my poems, with their uneven meter and obvious searches for rhymes, are as close to being good poems as a t-shirt from Hot Topic is to being prom-worthy. (For those of you who are getting ready for the SAT: "Levi's Poems : Good Poetry :: Hot Topic T-shirts : Prom Clothing.)

If nothing else, I have learned that poetry is a means to express oneself. If that happens to be in very poorly-worded, unsyncopated, and essentially obtuse ways, it does not really matter. They will never be published in a compilation of great works (though I did fall for the poem book scam that makes it seem like you wrote something that just needs to be published, as long as you pay $30.00 for a book containing 10,000 other poems that just had to be published, a great percentage of which fall under the same category of useless poetry as your own.)

That is why I write poetry at all.

I still don't know why I show it to anyone. Maybe you can give me a hint?

27 May 2009

A Trio of Silly Jokes

These jokes are by no means original. However, they always make me laugh. The trouble is getting someone to buy into it. They always know that something is awry with the question, and only a couple of times have I had anyone actually ask--innocently and unknowingly--the desired setup question that is required to make the joke work.

I present to you a trio of my favorite silly pun jokes, or whatever you want to call them.

Joke #1:

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "Excuse me, young sir. Do you have any updog?"

Mr. Unsuspecting-joke-answerer: "What's 'updog'?"

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "Not much, dude; whassup wit' you?"

(Mr. Joke-asking-person laughs maniacally at the joke victim's expense. Mr. Unsuspecting-joke-answerer stands unamused and slightly baffled.)

Joke #2:

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "Excuse me, young sir. Do you have a henway?"

Mr. Unsuspecting-joke-answerer: "What's a 'henway'?"

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "Oh, about three or four pounds."

(Mr. Joke-asking-person commences with the laughter. Mr. Unsuspecting-joke-answerer gets the joke this time, but continues to be unimpressed by the humor.)

Joke #3:

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "Excuse me, young sir. Do you have a buttfer?"

Mr. (by this point not so much an) Unsuspecting-joke-answerer: "What's a 'buttfer'?"

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "Why, it's for pooping, silly."

(Mr. Joke-asking-person is now ROFL-ing in a very literal sense whilst Mr. Unsuspecting-joke-answerer seeks the hammerfore.)

Mr. Joke-asking-person: "What's the 'hammerfore'?"

(Mr. Unsuspecting-joke-answerer shows him exactly what the hammer is for.)

26 May 2009

Comments on "Poetry Time, Part One"

I worked in the ElectricSky Theater of the Clay Center's Avampato Discovery Museum. We had this 60-foot domed screen upon which we could project the entire night sky from a star ball at the center of the room for our planetarium shows. In that same area was where a 70-millimeter projector would fill 3/4 of the screen with giant, moving images. A state-of-the-art sound system and reclined seating made everything in the theater an immersive experience.

Apart from the thrill of getting to work with all of this high-tech equipment and project my voice through the bass-enhancing speakers, we had to watch the same movies (most of which were within forty minutes in length) over and over and over....and over again. During a movie's 6-month run (yes: we only had 6-month rotations) at 5 showings a day, we watched what amounts to hundreds of hours of the same movie.

Most of the time it would take a couple of months to get tired of hearing the same voices, the same narration, the same music, the same sound effects, the same sequence of events, the same bad dialogue...I think you catch my drift. One film in particular stayed rather comparatively fresh with very few intolerable moments for most of its run: Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey, mainly because there was no spoken dialogue--just very awesome rhythm and music. (I'll post more about this film in a future blog to ease your anticipation on what intolerable moments were in that movie.)

Anyway, I said all that to say this: the poem I posted previously about dolphins was written while I was sitting in the dark at the console while Dolphins was playing on the screen. My mind already knew what sounds and sights to look for in case I needed to react to something going wrong with the film (that is, the film going through the projector; unfortunately, the movie never changed). Early on in my position there I was trained to respond to the sight of scratches in the film, unsynced audio, or too much light on the film. I always reacted to these with a speedy and Pavlovian response: nervous, shaky hands, upset stomach, and squeaky voice over the radio.

But, as I was saying, I was trying to avoid reciting the lines with the movie as I fell asleep. That's where the poem was written. It's not a good poem, as is typical with all of my poems. I just thought you'd enjoy the context in which they were written.

Poetry Time, Part One

A Poem Inspired by MacGillivray-Freeman's 70-mm Film Dolphins

A dolphin is a dolphin,
But it is not a fish.
A dolphin is a mammal,
Like dogs, baboons, and pigs.
Dolphins swim the oceans,
In rivers, bays, and seas.
They come up to the surface
And through their blowholes breathe.
Dorsal fins, pectoral fins,
And springboard-loaded tails
Dolphins jump with amazing force,
Reaching heights where humans fail.
Spinner dolphins, Dusky dolphins,
Amazon River dolphins, too.
Surprisingly, the killer whale—
The orca—is a dolphin—it’s true!

(This poem can be found at my Helium account.)

21 May 2009

Comments on "Song Time, Part One"

I wrote this song "Ode to Supporting Characters" in 2004 either waiting for or during rehearsal for a college play. Although I don't quite remember the initial impetus for writing it (apart from the play rehearsal environment), I do still have the melody for it in my head. At some point I think I tried to build a musical play around this song. As you can probably guess, I have never brought that to completion. It's still floating around in my head though. It would most likely be a play about a play, or at least a fourth-wall breaking farce about musicals.

Song Time, Part One

Ode to Supporting Characters

verse 1

Cop Number 1, you were the first on the scene.
Cop Number 2, you helped to keep it clean.
Man Number 1, you got to say a few lines.
Man Number 2, you had to nod there behind.
Woman Number 1, you got to scream real loud.
Woman 2 caught her before she hit the ground.
Doctor Number 1, you had to bear the bad news.
Doctor Number 2, you stared down at your shoes.

chorus 1

Supporting characters in the movies we see.
Unsung heroes who make the story complete.
You never get to see your name up in lights,
But your roles are important in the movies of life.
So for all you ones and twos,
And sometimes threes and fours:
We sing this song to you
To say that we want to see more.

verse 2

Clowns Number 1 and Number 2 in a car
Climb out first to be big stars.
Then Clowns Number 3, 4, 5, & 6
Stand in behind them to do a few tricks.
Drunks Number 1 and Number 2
Get to sleep on the bar for an hour or 2.
We hate to leave out some we have not said:
The supporting actors who get paid to play dead.

chorus 2

Supporting characters in the movies so dear:
Men and women with importance unclear.
They stand and walk, they hardly talk,
But sometimes they get a line or two.
They never have names,
Yet they’re always the same.
But we need them:
The supporting characters we love.

19 May 2009

Gender-Related Perspectives on Bathroom Cleanliness

Between our toilet and the bathroom counter sets a toilet brush. This is one of those fancy kinds of toilet brushes that has its own storage cylinder that helps hide the fact from your house guests that you even need to use--nay, own--a toilet brush. (The common "courtesy" of hiding the toilet-fixing tools is always a point of great turmoil for me when visiting someone's bathroom, as I often do. Somehow that is always the very time when the toilet decides to overflow, not flush, or leave behind too many signs of me having been there.)

Upon placing the brush side into its place in the storage cylinder, you can rotate the handle and the brush disappears inside like a spy into a secret bookcase passageway, hiding away until it is needed once again. Of course, the next time you realize you need a toilet brush, you forget that the white thing in the corner with the long handle sticking up is a toilet brush, so you end up going to buy another, more normal one.

In the odd event that you eventually remember that you have a futuristic, Bond-esque toilet-scrubbing device, the enclosure has long since sealed up from the oozing, unspeakable horror that was on the brush the last time it was put away, an alien substance cementing the brush to the frame.

In the corner where the brush contraption and the bathroom counter meet, resting atop the brush cylinder is a single, wadded ball of toilet paper. I do not know whether or not this toilet paper has ever been used. Certainly it has not ever been moistened as it still seems to have that cottony fresh look about it. In fact, the top portion that I can see is still completely white.

However, this little ball has been there for at least a month now, maybe more. It has occurred to me a few times to do something about it, but as I am of the male portion of the human species, that quickly ricochets to some other random thought that makes me forget whatever it was I happened to be thinking of at the time. Thus, I leave behind the restroom and the lonely ball of lint-free two-ply.

For some reason, though, a new thought sprung to my mind as I was in the restroom recently. Why is that my wife has not seen and subsequently done away with that little piece of litter? Understand, it's not that I think it is her place or purpose in society as a woman to make sure the restroom is clean. In our household, though, we do have our own responsibilities that we have divided somewhat in the sense of the things we gravitate toward completing more than the other. She doesn't like to wash dishes, but I don't mind to do it. We each put our own clothes away--I don't know where hers go anyway. She is an excellent cook; I make a mean sandwich. I take out the trash; she cleans the bathroom.

Then I had an epiphany. As I was standing there in the bathroom doing my business--thinking of things to write about--I understood a possible reason the paper was still there. When I use the bathroom in the fashion that males tend to, I can see in plain view around and behind the toilet. When she uses it, she sees everything in front of the toilet. That explains why the floor on that side is always pretty clean. Also, from her usual standpoint in front of the sink and mirror, I noticed that I could not see the corner from there either. The paper was still there because she never saw it!

With that revelation came another, equally stunning notion: I am evidently too lazy to pick up and throw away a single piece of bathroom trash. That, or I'm too wary of sticking my hand down that close to the toilet.

Of course, it is probably stuck to that white, long-handled, cylindrical thing. Maybe I should buy a toilet brush to get it out of there. I can't seem to find one anywhere in the house.

(This article can be found at my Helium account.)

13 May 2009


In producing this blog, I will attempt to tag each one pretty specifically. So, to assist you in what you may find here I present:

(cue echoing, booming voice)

The LeviSamJuno Key to Blog Tags

This tag indicates a post in my "Biology Lesson of the Day" series.

This tag indicates that the article can be found on my Helium account. It also appears on articles that link to one of my Helium postings.
This tag indicates that the post was previously posted on another blog I used to have.

This tag indicates a post in my "King of the Forest" series.

This tag indicates that the post is part of the series of "Marketing Ideas": random ideas and advice I offer (free of charge!) to the business world to improve the marketing of their ideas, products, and services.

This tag indicates that the post was previously posted on my MySpace Blog. Underneath the text of each I have noted the orginal post date and occasionally a comment about that particular posting.
This tag indicates that the post is a poem, specifically part of my "Poetry Time" series on this blog. Every poem I post (and there will not be many) will be in the "Poetry Time" series. The title of each will indicate the number of the poem in order of when they are posted. This is not necessarily the order they were written.

This tag indicates that the post is a "Poetry Time Comment". I like to explain the background or at least the context behind the origin of the poems. I don't know if this gives the poem more meaning to anyone or not. I'm not a poet, anyway.
This tag indicates that the post is related to a Reading Challenge, which encompasses any such challenges in which I have participated and any reviews of books that I read as a part of those challenges.

This tag indicates that the post is a song, specifically part of my "Song Time" series on this blog. Just like the "Poetry Time", every song I post here will be part of "Song Time" and will be given a chronological number. Songs may not last on here in case I ever get to get them recorded or something. We'll see.

This tag indicates that the post is a "Song Time Comment". Just like the PTC, I want to give you a little history on the songs. I like writing songs a lot better than poetry, probably because I understand songs better, even though there are some parallels.

A Story Created in an IM

Once upon a time I used to enter random chat rooms in AOL (back when it was all the rage). Rather than engage in any meaningful conversation with anyone in the room, I would just say random, funny (at least to me) things, which were typically ignored, shunned, cursed at, or were otherwise a nuisance to the general assortment of people in the room (populated mainly by teenage boys trying to get teenage girls to speak to them in an assortment of conversations appealing to some of the baser of man's instincts.)

But, occasionally, someone else with a similar sense of humor to mine would take the bait and join me in random banter, which became even more funny juxtaposed with the scrolling screen of swear words, emoticons, and acronyms. Though I would usually only find these people one at a time, then somehow never run into them again, a few became pretty good online friends. In fact, one of them even came with a friend to see me in a play in college. They brought flowers and everything.

This same particular friend asked me to tell her a story. So, I had her help set up the basic setting and character of the story, which I then used to write an off-the-cuff fairy tale of "Max and the Green Bean." I was so pleased with the way it turned out that I posted it to my Helium account: "Max and the Green Bean". Note that the beginning of the story is the setup provided by my friend (identified as "D"). I hope you enjoy it.

12 May 2009


Scientists have known for a long time that something happens to young people as they start to grow from immature, highly-dependent children to immature, highly-opinionated children. This occurs around the age of 8-15 for girls and 11-45 for boys. It is during this time of development called "puberty" that tiny chemicals called "hormones" are sent surging through the body when a part of the brain called "Steve" is activated. Many medical books have been written describing exactly what activates this process, some of which are on my bookshelf this very moment. The results of all these flowing hormones include the following:

Bones begin growing at exponential rates. Most notably, the major leg and arm bones are the ones to undergo the most growth. It is estimated that if puberty were allowed to continue unabated, the average basketball rim would be 100-feet high, and the average Caucasian male would still not be able to dunk. Additionally, the walls of the skull thicken for two purposes:

  • To act as a more effective helmet for the clumsiness attributed to learning how to walk in an increasingly different body; and
  • To make it impossible for the voices of their parents to absorb into their brains.

Muscles begin growing to accommodate the bones. Since girls reach puberty earlier than boys, this may explain why the preadolescent boys are afraid of the girls in their class. Not understanding what's going on and having watched too much television, they believe the girls are either becoming a race of female Incredible Hulks or have been exposed to some sort of radioactive sludge (in the form of "cooties").

Metabolic rates increase. The rapid growth taking place in the pubescent body requires a lot of energy. Therefore it takes a lot more food and sleep to keep the body going. Experts estimate the average pubescent female eats twice as much daily as she did between toddlerhood and puberty. Similarly, the average male eats roughly three-and-a-half times as much as a male African elephant. In order to restore the body, they also need to sleep longer and more often. Doctors suggest a continuous pattern of sleep for a 12-year-old from about 8:00AM til noon on their 16th birthday.

The brain begins to mature. For their entire life up until puberty, children are concrete thinkers. Everything they have learned is based on solid, sensory examples. To them, "2+2=4" mostly makes sense when they think of "2 apples plus 2 apples = 4 apples." Puberty, however, begins to mature the mind so that abstract thought is possible. They will be able to look at a more complex math problem, such as "4x + 4 = 28" and, instead of visualizing apples, they can instead form an abstract thought such as "If we have calculators, why do I need to know how to do this?"

Psychological ideals begin to mature. During this awkward, life-changing transition from childhood to awkward adulthood, the pubescent is suddenly finding him- or herself as not just a member of a family, but as a member of society. A boy or girl in puberty is struggling to find his or her place amongst his or her peers, friends, classmates, and other pop music stars. This development into psychological independence leads the pubescent identifying his or her moral standing on important issues (such as whether or not [insert teen idol sensation of the month] is "hot") and his or her perception of reality (such as the likelihood of [insert teen idol sensation of the month] noticing them at the concert).

Peer perception becomes important. A direct result of the psychological development is the need to feel accepted by one's peers. At this point, the pubescent's relationships with friends become more important than even the family relationships. This is where peer pressure comes in to play. Peer pressure can affect a child's actions and decisions relating to clothes, schoolwork, music, drugs, and even how they vote for American Idol finalists.

Reproductive organs mature. This is, of course, the main reason for puberty. Since it is typically a taboo topic and one very embarrassing for both teens and parents, it must be treated carefully and respectfully. If a pubescent has questions, it is best to answer them directly, with confidence, and in a loving manner.

Son: Dad, I have a question about puberty.
Dad: Err...um...ask your mother.

I am kidding, of course. During puberty, it is physically impossible for kids to talk to their parents. In fact, if they were to even attempt it, not only would they be shunned by their entire group of peers, but their very biological processes could surge puberty into overdrive, causing their skin to turn green and their bodies to shoot up into stratospheric heights.

But, you won't need to worry about that: they'll be asleep.

(This article can be found at my Helium account.)


Many days of continuous rainfall has caused a great amount of flooding in this area. As the overflowing creeks, ponds and streams finally start to empty into the Ohio River, it almost seems like the barges going by are at eye-level. The many pictures appearing in the local media outlets tell stories of lost property and livelihoods, as well as a few lives.

Having lived in an area that flooded at least once every spring, I was introduced early on to the catastrophic effects of flooding. At one point, the water was within an inch of coming in the door. At the time I lived in a trailer which was set rather high and far forward of the nearby creek. That year, the water even got into the front of the car but not causing anything more than an unpleasant smell that lasted a couple of months.

I have to note, however, that the most prominent problem I always notice about floods (and this time is no different) is the huge amount of debris the rapidly-rushing water washes downstream. Although some of the debris is certainly not something that the original owners intended to lose, the majority of it is what can only be described as garbage. Living as I did in the trailer, my brother and I lost a few toys we had in the yard, as well as some items we had in storage underneath the trailer (including a bag full of good-quality, plastic, food-storage containers). After the rain had ceased but the flood had yet to recede, we would sit on the porch and watch as other kids' toys floated past, accompanied by someone's collection of aluminum cans, followed by plastic trash bags and the occasional tire. Along with all that would also be all of the litter that had previously laid along the sides of the road and in people's yards.

When the water had finally gone down to near-normal levels, the ground would be littered by whatever had been too large to be carried any farther. In the upstream areas, most of the trash would be larger things: tires, pieces of houses or trailers, doghouses. Farther downstream--such as at the river near which I now live--the smaller pieces of trash that began their journey perhaps miles upstream accumulate into a large, floating mass of garbage.

The church I now attend used to have flood problems in their old building. Part of the solution when they built the current church building was to install some drains in the ground that would allow most of the excess water to continue its flow without creating a flood problem. It was certainly a good idea; but, last week a problem arose. There are houses and other types of dwellings up the hill from the church. No less than nine tires ended up following the flow of the water down the hill. The tires, along with a substantial amount of other trash, covered and ultimately obstructed the storm drains, causing a waist-deep flood which trapped a few cars in the parking lot and closed off the main road.

This elicited a flurry of questions in my mind:
  • Were the people on the hill trying for a world record tire-hording record of which I was not knowledgeable and may have enjoyed attempting?
  • Upon seeing the water rush down the hill, did they hold a tire-on-the-water race? If so, who won?
  • Did they intentionally set their trash out in the flow of the water just because they were too lazy to get rid of it in any other neighborly way?

And, finally, the most far-reaching question:

  • Would there be so much flooding if people would clean up after themselves and stop littering the roadways, yards, creeks, and gullies with their trash to allow the storm drains to work unobstructed?

05 May 2009

Am I Back?

For the many, many couples of members of my former audience, let me re-welcome you to my blog.

I know what you're thinking: "Is he really back?" "Is this time for reals?" "Blue cheese is not very blue at all."

But, yes: I am here to attempt it once again. A year later, no less.

Now, rest assured, I will be pretty fastidious for a good couple of posts. Then, perhaps I'll wane away again as time or topic elude me. But, we shall see.

For now, I close with a quick "Here's hoping I stick around this time."

P.S. Blogs are rather fading away as it is, anyway. At the very least I will be able to hammer out some interesting/funny things to ease my creativity bug.

04 May 2009

Old Post: Theatre

I love theatre. I love the word (particularly spelled in the aforementioned fashion). I love the feel. I love the action. I love the smell. From time to time, you will see me mention theatre and my particular fascination with it.

Now, when I say "theatre" I mean the live-action performance on a stage and/or in an auditorium, with optional audience participation, scripts, or improvisation. Unfortunately, most of what appears to be popular is not theatre in my definition, but theater (note the transposition of the "e" and "r".) When I say "theater" in this spelling, I mean the auditorium/seating area in front of a large screen with surround-sound and optional THX, popcorn, and sticky floors. As I was saying, theatre appears to be dying.

Sure, there are the big Broadway shows that people who enjoy theatre (a declining breed) pay tons of their money for what anymore is a musical plethora of not-so-much-acting-as-dancing-and-singing. Additionally, there are the off-Broadway (and off-off-Broadway, and more prefixed off's) shows which have evolved into theatrical excuses to showcase attempts to push the envelope morally, politically, and sexually.

Alas, as I grow older, take on more responsibilities, and find myself losing time at a rapid rate, I realize that I, too, am part of that dying breed of theatre-goers and performing participants. How can it survive if there is no active involvement from people like me? Anyone else out there feel the same--or am I alone?

(This JPFPost was originally posted in February 2007.)