atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5792: Why "Atomic Fungus"?

Eleven years and (nearly) 5800 posts later, I finally get around to explaining it. Or, at least, writing out a bunch of words which may or may not shed light on the name. People ask, from time to time, what the title of the blog refers to; and this morning I realized, "I never did really explain it to anyone," so why not now?

There's no single thing I can point to and say, "That is why I named it 'Atomic Fungus'." But when I was trying on names for the blog, that was the first one that fit; and over time I realized why. "Atomic Fungus" is one of those things which makes perfect sense if you are me; if you are not me, you'd have to be a mind reader to get it without a long-winded explanation. It's a combination of a lot of things, from different places. In no particular order:

1) A Boy And His Dog. Specifically, the poster for the movie version of Harlan Ellison's story by the same title, which apparently was made in 1975 and re-released in the mid-1980s, had a mushroom cloud with a smiley face on it. I thought it was funny.

2) "Do I have time to trim the old fungus?" A throwaway line from the movie Water, wherein this well driller with an impressive beard asks a TV celebrity who wants to interview him for his show whether he has time to trim the beard a bit before taping begins.

3) "Mushrooms will be sprouting!" A warning to Rod Taylor in the 1956 The Time Machine. He stops the time machine while sirens are sounding, and the future grandson of his best friend in the 1800s is trying to convince him to get to a bomb shelter because there's an incoming atomic attack.

4) The old saying, "I am a mushroom. All they do is keep me in the dark and feed me bullshit."

5) A computer game from 1982 called (I think) "Evolution", which--if you lost the game--showed a mushroom cloud with the word "WHOOPS" in it. I never played it, but only saw ads for it in Creative Computing.

6) My notebooks from high school. These contained doodles, because high school was a purgatory of stupidity and tedium, and references to #5 and #1 from this list figured prominently in some of the doodles.

7) I've always been pro-nuclear power. Further, I've understood the physics of nuclear power for quite a long while; and the first thing I ever really did on a computer was to play around with a simulation of a nuclear power plant on my junior high school's Apple ][+.

8) The fact that I started keeping a beard at age 22, years before facial hair became fashionable again. (and kept it since then, but for a four year hiatus starting in 1999, after everyone on the damn planet started keeping beards).

When you mix all that together in my head, "Atomic Fungus" refers to a lot of things all at once. A mushroom cloud. An epic beard. The growth of an economy powered by cheap, clean, convenient, and unlimited electricity. Intellect mired in stupidity. A bunch of other things.

I know it doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's what I've got.

Tags: #1, #5

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