Wayback Interview: Charles Holland Duell

As many of you know, I have a fully-functioning time machine.  I use it all the time to give people the heads-up on things like the Miami Dolphins’  2015 Super Bowl win and so on (congrats to Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning!) But I thought it’d be nice to really see what this thing could do, so I decided to pry the minds of some of history’s giants.  Okay, maybe “giants” is a bit of a stretch…let’s say interesting footnotes to our societal timeline.  Grand.

First up: Charles Holland Duell. Who is he?  Only the most famous head of the United States Patent and Trademark Office EVAH!! Why is he famous? Because of something he said.  A statement that seems ludicrous today, and incredibly short-sighted. He once recommended that the Patent Office be discontinued because “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”  Dumbass.

"Also? This telphone nonsense is complete bullshit." - C. H. Duell

Charles agreed to let me interview him in the office he used after he was chosen to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC.  It was March 3rd, 1904 and as I entered, Judge Duell sat in a leatherbound chair, smoking a pipe and sipping brandy.  I politely declined his offer of a drink and sat opposite him in a similar armchair to begin the interview.

ME: So, Your Honor.  Do you mind if I address you in a more…familiar manner?

DUELL: Not at all.

ME: Can I call you Chuck?  Or better, Chuckie?  See, in the future there’s this awesome series of movies about a killer doll named Chuckie, and what happens is–

DUELL: You may call me Charles.

ME: Fair enough.  Speaking of the future, do you know if you have a great grandson named Doug?  Because he was my defensive partner when I played hockey in Evansville, and…well…you know.  Same last name.  Small world and all that.

At this point, Charles Duell glared at me in the way that only old judges with bald heads and white mustaches can glare.  He re-lit his pipe and took a long drag.  As he exhaled the blueish smoke, his eyes never so much as blinked. He was a tough customer, this Charles Holland Duell.  And his middle name was a country, so I knew I was in for a challenge.

ME: Well, let’s get right to it.  This quote of yours.  What were you thinking when you said “Every–

DUELL: Nonsense.

ME: Pardon?

DUELL: I never said that.  I never said anything like that.

ME: But…the interwebs…

DUELL: The which?

ME: It’s…it’s this thing that allows computers and mobile devices to…share…um, you can look up, uh…stuff.  I mean, it’s like…

More icy staring. I wondered how to explain Reddit or Wikipedia to someone that barely knew how steam engines worked.  I decided to move on.

Seriously, it's like a bunch of Dwarves got together to find a way to totally fuck the environment.

ME: So you’re saying that this quote that has been attributed to you for, what? Over a century?  You never said that?

DUELL: Correct. I know of this ill-attributed “quote” [editor’s note: at this point, Charles Duell may have given the first-ever “finger-quotes” in American history]  And if you would use your fancy Webnitron or what-have-you to do better research, you would realize that I actually implied quite the opposite.

Me: Oh.  Okay, when I get Back to the Future, I’ll look that up.  But…then, if not you…who?  I mean, are you suggesting that perhaps someone completely made that statement up?

DUELL:  Sir, you have a time-travel device.  Certainly you’re not so vacant and insipid that you believe everything you read.  You can read, can you not?

ME: Oh, I read good!

DUELL: But of course.  Young man, if I may…

ME: Young?  Dude, I’m forty-one years old!

DUELL: Wow…you look really good for forty-one!  I bet you work out, huh?

ME: Oh, yeah!  And you know the real secret? Clean living.

[editor’s note: none of the events from the last three lines ever happened.  Ever.]

DUELL: The truth is, I was and continue to be impressed with the breadth of creativity this great nation has spawned.  Here at the turn of the century, we marvel at splendid advances in the sciences and the arts.  Would you like to hear something that I wrote a few years ago on the subject?

ME: Yes, sir!

Charles Duell then produced a folded piece of good parchment, put on a pair of rimless reading glasses, and read his statement in an authoritarian baritone.

DUELL: Ahem.  In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold.

He folded the paper lovingly and placed it back inside his jacket.  He then removed his glasses, took a long pull of brandy, and folded his hands in his lap.

DUELL: Have you any further questions?

ME: No, sir.  And thank you for enlightening me.

Charles Holland Buell’s mouth hinted at a smile, and he stood and firmly clasped my hand with his.  His hands were very warm, probably because the dude had spent all day chugging brandy.

DUELL: I envy you.  The things you’ll get to see, the music you’ll hear, the wonderful Velodrome Racing advances you’ll witness. [editor’s note: Velodrome bicycle races were fucking HUGE in the 1900’s]

As I turned to leave, I considered how badly I’d probably messed up the space-time continuum already, but couldn’t help myself.  I had to tell him.

ME: Your Honor, one piece of advice.  In about eight years, say you happen to be in Europe for any reason, do NOT buy a ticket on a boat called the “Titanic.”  Gonna sink, bigger’n shit.  The White Star line will brand it as “unsinkable.”  It ain’t.

DUELL: Another reason you shouldn’t believe everything you read.

ME: Oh, also?  Keep an eye on those Krauts.  Just sayin’.

DUELL: Duly noted.



Just the Facts.

On the Twitter recently (@turnerwatson) I’ve seen a lot of so-called “facts”  Many of these Tweets are not, in fact, actually based in any sort of reality.  In response, I started Tweeting what I call “Turner Watson Facts, or #twfacts for short.  Yes, I know that it looks like either “Twitter Facts” or even worse “Twat Facts” but goddammit, that’s not the point.  Most of what I post under that hashtag is completely made up.  I’ve assembled some of them here, along with some ones from my little iPod notepad PLUS as an added bonus, there are some real honest-to-goodness facts sprinkled in to keep you guessing.  It’s like a big Easter Egg hunt, but without a crazy duck following you around trying to eat you. That’s an “Adventure” joke, by the way.  See?  An Easter Egg inside of an Easter Egg in a blog that casually mentions Easter Eggs!  It’s the INCEPTION BLOG!!!


White Midwestern kids love Bob Marley 73% more than actual Jamaicans.

The current railway gauge used in the US and Europe is actually based on the width of Roman chariots.  Roads, and eventually railways, were measured using the ruts made by chariots that spanned the Roman Empire.  In Asia, the railway gauge is different, so railway travelers entering parts of Russia from Europe must actually switch trains.

Scientists have proven that it is 82% more difficult to get out of bed on a Saturday morning when surrounded by purring housecats.  This rate doubles in Winter.

Ladies reading this post just fell in love.

Leonard Cohen wrote “The Safety Dance” and intended to record it himself, but thought that the tone was too somber.

Eating too much granola can give you a granuloma.

The original name of “Special K” cereal was “Bowl O’ Scabs” due to its high iron content.

Yep. Enjoy your breakfast!

In the 1800’s most swim caps were made of whale foreskin.

During the Great Depression, “Peanut Brittle” was temporarily replaced with “Flea-Nut Brittle” (Flea nuts were cheap and abundant.)

The multi-layer space suits worn by the astronauts to the moon weighed 180 pounds on earth, but thirty pounds on the moon due to the lower gravity.

A moon that is “growing full” is known as a “waxing moon.”  A moon transitioning to “new” is called a “waning moon.”  A moon shot over the shoulder in a bathroom mirror is called “Scarlett Johanssoning.”

You're welcome, ladies. And fellas. Enjoy your breakfast!

The sexual term “fisting” was coined by mistake.  “Penthouse Letters” simply misspelled “fishing.”

It was physically impossible for John Belushi to ice skate, so his part in “Slap Shot” was handed to Paul Newman.

In August of 1972, a girl totally said “Bloody Mary” into a darkened mirror, and was, like, totally never heard from again.

Your Homework Assignment

I’m happy to say that this here blog is now read by dozens…literally dozens of actual, literal human beings.  One of my responsibilities, nay…one of my dearest pleasures is turning people on to stuff they might not have fancied, like pomades and fashion or chicks from eighties movies And I figured now was as good a time as any to let you in on a few of the greatest movies of all time. Of all time. (Get used to italics, because I’m in a slanty-typin’ mood, bitches.)

I also need to clarify something right away.  When I say “greatest movies of all time” I do NOT mean “best movies of all time.”  Not even close, in some cases.  But they are movies that when I find myself flipping channels and stumble across them, I’m hooked.  Done, for the duration.  Don’t care if there’s only twenty minutes (including commercials) left in the damned showing.  I’m not going anywhere. And to be even more accurate in my description, some of these flicks are what many reviewers would term “absolute crap.”  But they’re so very dear to me.  So here’s your assignment, class:  watch each and every one of these before the end of the month.  Already seen ’em all?  Watch ’em AGAIN, damn you! In no particular order, then…

Big Trouble in Little China

This is the first of two John Carpenter-Kurt Russell collaborations on my list.  And easily the most-quotable.  Carpenter and leading man Kurt Russell did some amazing things in the 80’s, like “Escape From New York.”  In fairness, they also did “Escape From LA” so nobody’s perfect. But this movie is so goddam epic, it inspired at least one major video game character.  True.  Ever play Mortal Kombat?  You know Raiden (or later “Rayden”)?  The guy in the coolie hat that wields lightning? The designers of that game admitted that they designed the character after one of the Three Storms in Big Trouble in Little China.  Did you know that WWE superstar CM Punk wore Jack Burton’s famous Chinese-motif tank top into the ring for the Halloween 2011 RAW SuperShow?  The point is, the influences for this gem, which only grossed $11 million at the box office (it cost $25 million to make) reverberate to this day.  There is no cooler idiot than Russell’s Jack Burton, and no better blend of over-the-top Asian martial arts and truck-driving, mulleted hilarity.  Own it if you can.


Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

People complain about product placement in modern films, but Jesus, this whole damned MOVIE was essentially a commercial for motorcycles and cigarettes.  I mean, it’s in the stinkin’ TITLE!! Except that Don Johnson’s character doesn’t even smoke, even though he has a cigarette dangling from his mouth through most of the movie.  This one was more of a box-office disappointment than “…Little China” making only $7 million in 1991.  That’s not a typo.  Not seventeen million.  Seven million.  Ouch.  But, like the previous movie on this list, it found a cult following thanks to DVD and Spike TV.  Set in the then-future of 1996, the world is a mess.  The ozone layer is depleted, gas is $4 a gallon, and there’s a new drug on the streets being peddled by Tom Sizemore. Damn, if they’d only pushed it back another ten years, the movie would be scarily accurate.  Anyway, it’s got great one-liners, Mickey Rourke, and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”  ‘Nuff said.

Oh, Mickey. What happened, dude?

Point Break

If there’s a movie on this list that you’ve likely seen, it’s this one.  So go watch it again already.  I’ll just leave you with this: UTAH!  GET ME TWO!!

RIP, Angelo Pappas (Oops! Spoiler alert!)

Buckaroo Banzai

Technically, the full title is “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension.”  See, they figured this would be a smash and they’d have a whole franchise of Peter Weller not being Robocop and instead running all over Earth, time, and the heavens like a super-powered Doctor Who only with a jet car instead of some lame police call box. They were wrong.  Pity, that. Why is Weller’s Buckaroo one of my personal heroes? Um, he’s a brilliant physicist, neurosurgeon, and rock band frontman.  SUCK IT, BRUCE WAYNE!!  Clancy Brown, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, a cameo by Yakov Smirnoff and another by Billy Fucking Vera and the amazing legs of Ellen Barkin (her red dress is proof that God loves us)…there’s nothing not to like about this movie.  It’s a lot to assimilate all at once, and yes, it’s hard sometimes to tell if it’s a straight-up parody or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink tour de force.  Doesn’t matter.  When you’ve got lines like “Evil, pure and simple, from the Right Dimension!” you just roll with it.

Reason number 13,445 to be envious of Al Pacino

The Thing

One of the best science-fiction scary movies ever.  EVER.  Between 1979’s “Alien” and 1982’s “The Thing” science fiction did what it does best.  Not commenting on the cold, vast emptiness of space and what wonders might be found there, but on real-life issues, like the then very real Cold War paranoia that affected everyone in the United States. This John Carpenter masterpiece works on every level, from Ennio Morricone’s (NOT, for once, Carpenter himself’s)  theme music…a steady thrumming that builds tension from start to finish…to the old-school special effects by Rob Bottin which not only hold up well today, they’re actually more frightening than the CGI crap you see nowadays.  If you can, watch this film in the middle of a blizzard at night.  Fuck, that’s good.

IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!! (See what I did there?)

Enough is Enough.

Okay, this shit has got to stop.  As most of you know, February is Black History Month.  Yes, the shortest freaking month on the calendar, even in a leap year for crissakes.  Black folks get one freakin’ month to shine and educate people about the greatness (and yes, sometimes the sorrow) of black history in these great United States of America.  On one hand, it’s sad that in the 21st Century, we still have to divide people between black, white, asian, hispanic, and all other manner of skin-tone-based descriptions.  It would be great if people were just “humans.”  But I know that, like it or not, we DO see the differences between people, and I guess that’s fine as long as we’re not associating stereotypes with those descriptions.  After all, isn’t skin color difference just as important as height, facial hair, weight, etc. when describing a robbery suspect or an actor whose name you can’t remember?

The difference, of course, is that in this country people have not been subjugated to hundreds of years of subjugation, slavery, and discrimination based on whether or not they have a beard.  (As much as I’d like to see hipsters subjugated, it’s an unrealistic dream at best.)  So, that being the case, the black community is alone in the long struggle to make a place for themselves in our society.  The only ethnic group that comes close is the Native American population, and like it or not, the European American has pretty much taken everything possible from that group, starting with the land they fucking lived on.  Not getting into that.  There’s just so much bad there.

Anyway, I saw this link recently and it just made my blood boil.  Take a good look at this, people, and I’ll give my calm, reasonable rebuttal. Okay. When I see this sort of thing, the only reaction I can come up with is “YOU HAVE THE ENTIRE FUCKING CALENDAR, YOU BACKWARDS-ASS CRACKER!”  I mean, really?  Really? White people are still 63% of the total population. And when you think “rich people” you usually picture white folks.  Yes, black athletes and entertainers make mad cash.  That is, the very small percentage of the total population that is in the NBA or works with Sean Combs.   Against this, you have the fact that only 11 black executives have ever made it to the Chairman or CEO position of a “Fortune 500” listed company. Of these 11 executives, only 6 remained as of April 1, 2011. (http://www.blackentrepreneurprofile.com/fortune-500-ceos/) That’s eleven…EVER. Dude, it’s a list of the top 500 companies every year. Starting in 1955.  That’s a total of 28,500 companies not including, obviously, repeats.  Example: Wal Mart has been there at least eight times in the last ten years.  So, let’s take a guess and just halve that number…let’s say there have been 14,250 companies listed.  Of those, 11 have had a black CEO/chairperson.  Including repeats.  If we’re gonna play the “repeat” game, you’ve gotta figure that means, what?  About eight?  Yep.

Anyway. A friend once asked me why I don’t like the word “nigger.”  His rationale, as misguided as it was, consisted of his black friends using it and so on and so forth. My response is that “you haven’t earned the right.”  Unless you’ve been born black, especially in a mostly-white community (like, you know, all of Indiana) you just simply cannot know what it’s like. I don’t.  He didn’t.  We’ve never had people eye us suspiciously when we entered the store, never learned about how our people came over to this country in chains (in fucking CHAINS, people!) and we’ve never had to work harder and think faster than an equally-qualified job applicant just to get a look at promotion. We haven’t.  And as such, we haven’t earned the right. I know a few older black dudes that dislike the way “nigga” gets used by modern black youths.  They find it distasteful.  The counter argument that I’ve heard is that by using that word amongst one another, black kids have taken the power out of it. They’ve neutralized the sting, much like “Yankee” used to be sort of a derogatory term slung at American Colonists.  Now we take pride in that term.  Either way, this discussion is one that the white man needs to butt out of.  It’s not up to us.  That’s not a word for us to use.  Period. And yes, I’ll concede that words are just words.  Some of them just carry more weight: Nazi, cancer, hipster…these words are a little bigger than a collection of vowels and consonants.  It is, after all, the intent behind the word that gives it menace.

“It’s just a word” is a mantra I hear a lot.  I think the best argument for this sort of thing is from the late, great George Carlin:

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word “Nigger” in and of itself. It’s the racist asshole who’s using it that you ought to be concerned about. We don’t mind when Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy say it. Why? Because we know they’re not racist. They’re Niggers! Context. Context. We don’t mind their context because we know they’re black. Hey, I know I’m whitey, the blue-eyed devil, paddy-o, fay gray boy, honkey, mother-fucker myself. Don’t bother my ass. They’re only words. You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it’s an unpleasant truth, like the fact that there’s a bigot and a racist in every living room on every street corner in this country.”

He’s right, of course.  And I’m not a big enough hypocrite to admit that I’ve never told a racist joke.  I always justify it by saying “I make fun of everyone, regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference.”  I return to Carlin’s belief that it’s the intent behind the joke/racial epithet/what-have-you.  Maybe.  But I still feel really guilty, and frankly, a little dirty when I stoop to that kind of humor.

So, just…I don’t know.  Stop being assholes.  Let the back community have one stinkin’ month.  Jesus, if that’s the best we can do as a nation to apologize or at least try and somewhat rectify the ninety or so years that we put this group of people through hell, so be it.  Imagine how mad some people are going to be in fifty years when “Gay Pride Month” or “Latino Culture Month” roll around.  And I, for one, have no problem with that sort of thing coming to pass.  (Sidebar worthy of another entire blog: if you discriminate/hate on gay people because of some stupid line of religious text, you are an ignorant bigot.  So stop that shit.)  We’re Americans.  More importantly, we’re Humans.  Let’s get over this cultural and racist divide and accept each other.  It’s okay.  When the comet slams into Earth, it’s not gonna care a damn what color you are at the time of impact.  Because we’re all gonna be equally screwed in a fiery conflagration.

We’ll all be reduced to a smouldering pile of bones.  Charred, black bones.  How ironic.

What is Wrong With You People?

Whew!  Been a busy week.  I haven’t had a whole lot of time for writing, and honestly wasn’t really inspired to put anything down until I looked at some of my web stats.  One of the features that WordPress provides for bloggers is a measure of how many different search terms led people to your page.  Sometimes the results are, well…surprising.  Sometimes they’re plain ol’ obvious.  Take a look at my search engine referrals for the past 30 days…

1. big bang theory isn’t funny
2. fake tan fail
3. tan fail
4. fake tan
5. fake tan orange
6. why the big bang theory isn’t funny
7. carrot top before and after
8. amish
9. yar yar bins
10. viking rape
11. misfits shirt
12. cynthia gibb
13. skater hair
14. big bang theory not funny anymore
15. 50s flying saucer
16. misfits merch
17. turner watson
18. male second life hair
19. chaps
20. range fake tan

Okay, then.  Sure, people are still reading my rant about TBBT.  That’s actually very flattering, and a little hopeful.  It’s nice to know there are some people who “get it.”  Also, notice how many “fake tan” searches landed on my page.  Holy crap!  People is KRAY-ZEE for that orangey goodness.  After all, look how popular “Jersey Shore” is.  But then there are other searches.  Check out #9: the search(es) for “Yar Yar Bins.” Yes, more than one person searched for “Yar Yar Bins.”  The problem, of  course, is that THERE’S NO SUCH FUCKING THING! So now I’m confused.  Are people looking for Jar Jar Binks?  Or Tasha Yar?  Or storage bins?  What?

Ironically, no searches for "Ronaldinho looks like a slightly-racist stereotype CG douchebag"

It’s also comforting to know that people are going to Google, bing, etc. to look for someone named “Turner Watson.”  I’m right up there with ol’ Yar Yar!  Of course, I’m way behind “viking rape,”  “Cynthia Gibb,” and “Skater hair.”  In fact, I barely beat out “male second life hair” and “chaps.”  Good company, nonetheless!

But then it gets weird.  The following are some of the search terms that didn’t make the top twenty, but deserve a bit of scrutiny, in order that we might discover something about the nature of the interwebs and also a little about ourselves.  Dig into these gems:

“spice hair for boys” – Spice Hair is the new Candy Floss

“nazi five races nordic phallic” – this is either a new Papa John’s offering or a spa pedicure treatment that’s sure to be  hit! (Paging Mel Gibson, right?  Right!)

“cussing sapphire ring” – motherfucker oughtta be fucking OPAL, bitch!

“silly sailors drinking” – Sailors? Drinking?  ARE YOU MAD?!?!

“short hair cuts for oddly shaped heads” – The ‘fro.  That’s the only possible answer.

“my drunk sister in law passed out naked” – so that’s who that was.

“candy fromscotlandcalled skittles” – or, as we call them in the USA, “skittles.”

“things about t-rex” – there are some really neat things about t-rex.  Unfortunately, I haven’t really covered them in my blog, so don’t ask me how the hell they ended up at my page.  Thanks, though!  Dinosaurs rule!

Not sure what sort of workout program that is, but it beats P-90X all to hell.