Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"Inform Miss Penny That One Of The Vacuum Tubes Has Blown, BLAST IT" - yelling was more efficient and cleared Babbage's blood of dangerous humours.
"YELLING" - Functionality was merged with Caps Lock.
π - use of circles and any calculations with circles was seen to be a sign of a weak mind, weaker constitution, and a moral fibre that was entirely suspect.
"Definitely Nazi"/"Most Likely Nazi"/"Carrier Pigeon Error" - Enigma was a very specialized machine.
"Nuke It" - Part of the original DARPA spec, it was thought that there may be a need for more safeguards.
"Check Connection Time to BBS " - Ones parents always needed to use the phone before this became an issue.
"Power Down Memetic Cyclotron " - Can't think of a reason, honestly.
"Toggle" - Apparently in Urdu this means an imaginative way to soil ones underwear whilst balancing on an inverted sun umbrella.
Thanks metamonk, for the idea.
Just leave the food on the ground, seriously. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking I care whether or not food is in the dog dish. It could be beside, or, let's be honest here, inside a toilet, and I'll still eat it. Clinging to a rather disgusting belief that I care either way is an insult to both of us.
Accept that I will slobber on anything and everything. Especially the children. Just tell yourself it's better to have e-coli infused dog slobber on them than the spackle of mucous and food that was there previously.
Why are you throwing away dog bones? They dry out and can puncture your garbage bags, leaving a mess everywhere. Just throw it on the ground. I'm sure someone will dispose of it properly.
Invest in scented candles. Much better than dog baths. I like the way I smell, you hate giving me baths, win-win.
Dirty laundry isn't. It's a marvellous treasure trove of fascinating smells. Please pile it high and everywhere. Tell visitors it's a 'living post-humanist look at canine-hominid cohabitating symbiosis'.
You know what's better than giving yourself a manicure, which is sure to leave human skin droppings (ewww!) and various files and things scattered about the home? Scratching juusut behind my ear, my hair acts as a natural and gentle exfolia-aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.
Take a nap.
Go for a walk.
Take another nap.
The dishes can wait.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We've had another child on January 16th, 2009. A boy this time. A somber, serious boy who will look at you with soulful eyes full of life's regret and the eternal struggle of self-actualization until you play peek-a-boo and he kills himself laughing. He's a mystery. His birth was little on the long side, but everything came out swimmingly, we were out of there in record time because we've done it before and as much fun as hospitals are, they're no place to raise a child.
What else is there to say about him. Well, he's a baby, he doesn't have a whole lot of opinions. He likes to crawl, he likes to hold things and stand up. He's really into objects. He'll be crying bloody murder like someone has just suckerpunched him with a bag full of nickels, then you'll give him, say, a Tupperware container, and he'll be as content as, uhm, well, a baby with a Tupperware container, I suppose.
He's the quiet, understated sort. Or at least, he's quiet in relation to Owlet.
Owletis even more of a firecracker now that she can speak in full sentences. A strong enough grasp of language has lead to bartering and pleading and, more often than not, commanding. While the word 'bossy' is often whispered or just said outloud, we, proud parents, prefer to think of her as spirited! Enthusiastic! Decisive! Bossy! No, wait, not the last one.
She's in a whole whack of activities. Dancing, gymnastics, swimming, and a few hours of preschool. It's fun to see her flail about at different activities and discover the joys of sport and athletics that her parents never quite got a grasp of.
Everything now is pink, princess, fairy, purple, ballet, butterfly, chocolate, and tea. Often times all at once. As much as I'd hoped she'd be kinda agnostic towards the entire 'Princess' thing, she's gone full bore. Hopefully when she's older and rebelling against the perfect image that Media and the Disney Conglomerate try to brainwash into young girls she'll remember the time I took her down the aisles of boy toys and she looked at me blankly before racing towards the aisles of pinky, fluffy, toys that seem to make her oh so very happy.
Owlet loves her brother a whole lot. She's adept at making him laugh, and they'll often sit there laughing and laughing and laughing and I know not too far in the future they'll still be laughing and laughing and laughing but it'll be at me and I'll grumble something incoherently before making shoddily constructed bird feeders in my wood-shop. But what's important is that they seem to be hitting it off. They both find each others pretty darn interesting.
Molly is going with me to work now, which mean she gets to have naps outside the home, which is a nice change for her, I suppose. I'll take her upstairs from the bowels of the building where I stare at a computer all day, to the clerks and program officers and whatnot who all love her to bits. Echoes of her name will ring through the offices as people realize she's come for a visit, "Molly!" "Molly's here!" "Is that Molly?". Course, I've worked there coming on 9 years and I'm sure none of them know my name. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm still at Corp. ABC. At some point they'll try and nail a plaque on me and declare me a heritage building. I'm still doing programming. Let's move on before you fall asleep.
Mrs. Owl is almost done her maternity leave. She feels as if she hasn't done anything this year. And besides birthing our second child; caring, feeding and clothing and entertaining a baby and a toddler; not having a complete night's sleep in a year; and putting up with me, she's completely correct.
She keeps herself busy taking Owlet to all her activities, having play-dates and tea-time with her friends, and dreading the time she'll have to go to work. At least it's part-time. Which will be good since she'll spend most of her time chasing around two energetic small children and counting the hours until she can go into work and take a breather.
And that's all the news that's fit to print for this year.
May the new year find you all healthy and wealthy and wise, and if not that, at least under the influence of a full night's sleep.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- Buy a security guard outfit, stand in the foyer of a very swank theatre, wait for the opera intermission, then bustle about, pushing people aside saying, "Move along, move along."
- Sneak into a gynecologist's empty patient room, then scream at the top of my lungs, "The baby's going to come outta WHERE?"
- Drive at exactly the speed limit. High-beam and honk at others that don't.
- Make a buncha mix-CD's featuring Grandmaster Flash and the Funky Bunch, New Edition, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Cannibal Corpse, put a barcode on them, and sneak them into the library CD section.
- Sing the national anthem at the top of my lungs, with a few incorrect words, give a ribbon to the first person to correct me.
- Put 2 chairs and a desk, interview style, on the street. Put a camcorder on a tripod. Interview any and all people who sit with me. Alternate between an interview for a legally suspect and highly dangerous job, a celebrity interview (with questions intended for John Voigt, circa 'Deliverance), naturalization interview for Luxembourg.
- Go to McDonald's, ask to see the manager, order Combo 1, haggle.
- Get on a bus with a ghetto blaster blaring Bing Crosby's White Christmas at full volume.
- Wear a utilikilt, stand in front of the women's washroom, pointedly refuse entry for anyone who doesn't not, in fact, have a skirt.
- Get a three-piece suit, get a haircut, briefcase, better posture. Go shopping at the local organic co-op. Complain about the prices.
- Protest Greenpeace, just cuz.
- Stand in the middle of a busy street, offer free hugs, ask for tips.
- Go to a Volkswagen dealership, try and get as much info as I can about the current Jetta, try and drop the word 'Nazi' as casually and as often as I can.
- Buy a moleskine notebook, strike a conversation up with a hipster, try and find an excuse to bring out my moleskine and open it up, revealing pages after pages of pasted in Cathy comic strips. Ask him which one is his/her favourite.
- Open up a stall selling peanut butter jelly sandwiches.
Monday, December 14, 2009
That's why I'm going to do this series of posts, where I'll expound on my general overview of the city I live in/around/in a suburb of: Vancouver.
Vancouver is, first and foremost, a city that seems to be always ranked near the top of this and that livability study. It's also tiny. A hamlet. 2.5 million people live here, if you include the suburbs. 600k if you count only Vancouver proper. This gives most of Vancouverites a bit of a complex. A phrase you'll hear often is 'world-class city'. Maybe too often, maybe too forced, usually coming down from some chamber of commerce or some captain of some industry. We're constantly preening and trying to make ourselves a little more important than we are. True 'world-class' cities, like a CIA operative or someone who actually enjoys Christmas cakes, never have to proclaim it. I don't think you'd ever hear someone from Paris, or London, or New York, expound about how 'world-class' their city is. I mean, here's a hint, when Hollywood is shooting a film in LA pretending that it's Vancouver, then you'll know.
If you like the outdoors, rain, and relative low crime rate, Vancouver is not too bad. If you take umbrage with ridiculously high cost of living with lower than average salaries, have a touch of SAD, or are expecting theaters and museums on the level of truly large city, Vancouver is not your destination.
It's fairly boring, fairly nice. Fine for me, fine for people who like safe, boring living. Also, actually, fine for people who like their bit of gangland warfare. We seem to have little flarings of that, every once and a while, I guess we have a booming trade in mary jane, which leads to organized crime having kerfluffles, but I suppose not enough to hurt 'livability' ratings.
The drugs thing is pretty major, in many ways, and in only some ways that I have any handle on. For instance, there are quitea few growops in and about town. And not in the run-down part of town either, in $900k houses in nice parts of town, subdivisions that feature the word 'Heights' or 'Pacific'. I think it's safe to say we have an above average number of hydroponic supply stores. And I can't believe there are that many gardeners who simply must have their hothouse tomatoes year round.
Weed, especially, is largely tolerated. So if you are at some outdoor event, say, fireworks or One of The Ten Days When It's Not Precipitating In Some Way, you'll get a whiff of that really charming 'mossy grass being burnt under a poorly supervised butane torch' smell. I'm more of a live and let live guy, really, and when it comes to things you can use to decimate brain-cells, I'd much prefer to be in a group of totally stoned patchouli chewing THC-imbibers than any number of drunks. In general.
There are really a ton of things to complain about in Vancouver, possibly more than there are to boast about. I'll hit on more of them in upcoming posts.
1 It's awash with controversy, on one side people ecstatic that we are 'on the world stage' and 'make our mark on the map'. On the other side, calls that money has been funneled from social services and money ear-marked for the most vulnerable in our society. On one side, the opinion that this'll really rake in money for the province and country. And then on the other, the realization that most corporate deals are going to companies south of the border, and that local communities are going to be in debt for this world party for a looong time.
I try and stay neutral about these things. I think they both have points. I have no doubt that the public will have a debt, and that private companies will have the lion's share of the profits. But, I mean, they are the Olympics.
Let's not dwell on that.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
There was a certain reader in mind when I wrote this, my little cooking tutorial. Then I realized that this person might think 'learning to cook' as being able to prepare a 6 course meal and dessert cart using nothing less than a Coleman Stove and a rather heat tolerant teacup. I will then presume this little post is for those of you just taking the plunge. Who wish to brandish a spatula with grace and aplomb and who's idea of 'going wild' in the kitchen isn't just adding ketchup to your Mac N' Cheese.
When I cook, I generally go by a handful of rules. Now these rules are written with one objective : Make Stuff Taste Goood. If you have other objectives, you'll likely have different rules. Say, if you wanted things to be Healthy, or interested in Using Semolina In Everything, your rules will be different.
So, with that in mind, in no particular order:
FAT IS TASTE
That clogger of arteries, that most hated and revered of all cooking ingredients, fat. Fat in the form of butter or lard or whatever you have on hand, is the foundation of taste. A good steak is a well marbled (fatty) steak. Recipes are invariably 1000% better when you replace it's ingredient of half-half organic no-fat soy with cream. Those fish only served in fine restaurants? Fattier than a State Carnival deep fryer.
I had to attend a potluck way back in my single days, I didn't really have anything GOOD to make, so I just made mac and cheese. I added real cheese, substituted cream for milk, and added entirely too much butter. It was a hit.
INGREDIENTS, INGREDIENTS, INGREDIENTS
More than half your cooking is done in the grocery. Fresh over frozen or dried, choice cuts over that that slab of government beef that may or may not lead to certain, mouth frothing death. Even using, for instance, fresh basil over some dried Mrs. Spice concoction is massive improvement.
USE A REFERENCE
For me this is the venerable Joy of Cooking, a half-ton tome that has stood the test of time and fallen souffles and too-rare roasts for the past several decades. It's very old school, which I like, and covers almost anything you'd think of cooking.
It covers quite the detail on topics that you'll eventually need to learn, like what cut of beef is best for roasting, how to make a pie crust from scratch, what's the diff between a pancake and a crepe. All sorts of food nerd things that you'll want to know so you can regale your friends just before they suddenly spot someone they just have to talk to across the room.
When cooking meat, use high heat to sear the outside and seal in the juices. Then cook at a lower temp to finish it. I'm surprised at how many old school cooks (mother-in-law, for example) who just never learned this, and spend hours tending to their roasts, basting and fiddling.
That's it, I think. Well, I'm sure there are others, but that's probably too much already. So go forth! Burn water! Add fat! Bask in the glory!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
But I like having these arbitrary limits, it gives shape to my writing.
Anyhoo, this is my entry. It's steampunky, because cheesoning DEMANDED it:
The electro-transmogrifying-intransigent-polychine came alive. Rattling brass pipes, enormous thrumming copper kettle drums all deafened Frank to the tiny alarm he had set up. Too quiet, it turns out. Almost too late.
With an embarassed shuffle perfected by all Continental Engineers, Frank shimmied down the jury-rigged ladders to the belly of the beast. The financial backers and politicians watched with restrained alarm.
"It's moved, hasn't it?" shouted someone.
Frank hit the alarm twice. Nothing doing. It kept pealing away.
"Ah, no. Never will, I'm afraid." He waved vaguely to the North Sea. "Something found, in space."
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Being in such a large complex means plenty of kids. Gaggles and straggles and gangs of them. Gawky rebellious and punk in a way that only youth can be punk; young and exuberant and screamy as pre-teens simply have to be; awkward and confused and just along for the ride as toddlers are (pretty much all the time, actually).
Experiencing Halloween from the other side is, something. As a man, there is the constant effort to not appear to be the Creepy Predator That Your Parents Warned You About. Whether that be walking in the same direction as a woman on the way home at 2am, or giving out packaged glucose to minors, one needs to not scare other people. Not in the goofy 'oh you got me good with that fake vomit and pretend heart attack routine', but the 'honey do you have the cell phone and can you dial 911'.
So, there's very vague smile, a happy Halloween, and a close of the door. Men cannot engage in the banter that makes Halloween for most kids. "Oh, what are you? What's that again? Ohhh, scary pirate!" etcetera. These are the usual back and forth from moms and grandma's and the like. I think that if I get to a respectable age, and perhaps get some reading glasses and a nice tweed sports coat, I might be able to pull it off. But right now I just try and keep it brief and to the point.
This isn't so bad, actually, since for most trick or treaters coming through, we seemed to be at the end of their trip. They have a listless look. Their pillowcases and plastic Jack O' Lanterns brimming with the exciting possibilities of childhood obesity, their makeup smeared, their masks abandoned. Some don't even say 'trick or treat', they just kinda yell incoherently and mumble thanks.
I think there might be a lesson about life in there somewhere. Perhaps an allegory about work and the brass ring. Maybe something about 'you can only have so much money and then after that it's smeared make-up, and dead stare, and the a scramble to enjoy your spoils before the Big Sleep'.
Or maybe I shouldn't be chowing down on teeny tiny Mars bars after 8 pm.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It's a war out there. Every day, on the job.
Anyone can live in a house, but a man wants to reside in his castle. And while there, he needs everyone on his side. Everyone pulling with him. And to where. To where is he taking his family?
To the future. It's not a new world of gristle and grime, of steel and coal. It's plastics, rayon, aluminum.
Your home, your castle.
Friday, October 23, 2009
And like a grown child-actor of a once wildy popular family sitcom, I crave attention and feedback. However, I also know that commenting on blogs can be weird, especially if you don't have a lot to say; and posting just to write 'good post', or 'this sucks more than a suckington vacuum on suck day' does seem to be more bother than it's worth.
There has also been times where my friends or e-friends or whoever have said in passing that 'such and such' post was great. This is... good, except that if I had never crossed that off hand comment by chance, I'd have never have known. The majority of my stuff gets zero comments. Ixnay. Niet. Nein. Zero. The heterosexual rating for a Liberace show. The number of humvees at a Greenpeace protest. The number of people who avidly watch both "Mad Men" and "Deal or No Deal". The rural authenticity of "Blue Collar TV". The street cred for comedians who host any show that begins with "America's Funniest...". The chance that any good, innovative, groundbreaking TV show will last on Fox. The number of post-grads who'll NOT correct you when you refer to soccer as soccer. The number of real lesbians in the porn industry. The number of art house directors who cite Jerry Bruckheimer as an influence.
On top of all this, the posts that people will say they like are, invariably, ones that I just churned out,slowly, painfully, and whose quality is somewhere between middling and mediocre, to me. Which makes my whole 'Best of periodically' kinda suspect. Sure, I like it, but that's not who counts, right?
So, few comments + need for feedback + no real idea of what's good == Outbrain! A ratings doo-hickey widget. See the stars at the end of each post? Just click and rate. It'll help me find which posts are weak, which are good, what to keep doing, what to cease at all costs.
Aaaand, if you read regularly, and have not added yourself to the Google Connect /Friends thing, please do.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Strip malls have always held a certain sad mystery for me. The center of small town activity, beaten up and painfully hopeful.
They bring to mind sun-cooked parking lots, over-designed laundromats, and fake-Chinese restaurants that feature, of all things, smorgasbord. The small-time fast food franchises trying to take hold. The Salvation Army, the runty clothing stores that seem to only carry 'depressingly working class attire sure to draw ridicule in the big city' clothes. The perpetual 70's decor and aesthetic.
It's full of a weird hope because it has so many small business owners scrabbling for success.
It's the juxtaposition :
1) nameless, dry hand of capitalism figuring out traffic flows and population densities and demographic consumer habits then deciding to make COMMERCIAL MULTI-UNIT MIXED-USE ZONING FOR 18.2% PROFIT GIVEN CURRENT FORECASTS.
2) The undented, shining and perfect ambitition of individuals.
They're both the same thing, in a way, but one goes about it in a decidedly sterile, Overpowering Empire sort of way, the other is the elbow grease and sweat and tears and hiring your own teenagers to mind the shop path. The Empire and the Rebel make odd bedfellows.
Isn't it part of any kid who grew up in the suburbs? That's sort of your first hang out, I suppose. Chewing on hyper-sweet corn-starch infused ADHD revving candies and chugging a small tub of pop. Trying to figure out what you wanna do ('what do you wanna do?', 'I dunno, what do you wanna do' etc). The hazy crawl of everyday commerce sluggishly pouring around you. It's there that you usually fall upon the realization that your hometown is 'a hole' or 'a ditch' or whatever colourful euphemism comes to mind when one equates safe neighbourhoods, low crime rate. and middling public school standardized test scores to the heaving quicksand of staid small-town boringness.
It's the place of so many first jobs, when that kid in your realizes how much work sucks, and how much suckiness awaits you in adulthood. Deep-fat fryers, the drone of gossip, the unbearable idealism of high school car wash fundraisers.
It's a weird juncture, a strange porthole from one world into the next. Sad. Mysterious.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
So my good friend spruce (aka Jeff) forayed into that limitless mire of hipster fashion, that bog of sarcasticaly appreciated t-shirt design, threadless. He's an artist, as you can see (and by the by, entered some 24 hour comic something or other, and made this very cool, very quirky, very spruce comic ). He's got a great style. I always get the impression that many of his characters are Dali-inspired Gumby-dolls infused with malevolent intent. There's a pliability there, and a quirky fun that you only get when you arm a serial killer with a very strong rubber band, I imagine.
Anyhow, he created this from scratch. From nothing. That whole creative process thing is terrifying and weird and I think is put under too many words and thinking; and, like zen or your first wedgie, can only be really be known by experiencing it. Nevertheless, I'll attempt to blather on a bit.
When I asked him about his design he was vague. Like, he drew it and whatnot, then thought of a back-story. Like whatever was driving the creation of it and whatever he later lacquered on as a 'story' were completely separate.
That's pretty cool.
You read critics and people who 'care' about art or music and whathaveyou, and they tend to analyze art and meaning until it's desiccated husk would be too dry for The Economist. But, it seems that more often than not, there's just a 'oh shit lets just go ahead and do it and worry about the details later' approach. In a world of checklists and how-to books and endless self-analysis and re-analysis, there seems to be some truth in this method.
There's this old samurai saying that I'm sure I got off some anime or samurai comic or anime samurai comic, and I can't find the quote, but the gist of it is 'given the option between an elaborate feint, the awesome dude will just charge straight ahead'. Paraphrased there, a bit. I think the original is a little more formal and mentions cherry blossoms. But the heart of it is to DO, I guess. Less dithering.
And, as you can see by this t-shirt design, this creates more awesome.
If you think it's as super rad as I, then please go to Threadless and vote.
Friday, October 09, 2009
for the photo.
It's strange. You hit adulthood. You live in a neighbourhood and get married and have children and whathaveyou. But you never, or at least, it'd been my experience, have those friendships you did in school. That clamouring crowd of like-minded individuals, all bursting with excitement and energy and the undaunted optimism. A buzzing outlook tempered by anxiety and parental expectations and the blazing possibility that you just might have a charmed life. And, just as likely, that your life will crash in a multitude of failed tests/interviews/jobs and you'll end up one of those pitiful characters featured in Coen Brother's films.
One moment, you don't have time for all the people you know or are interested in knowing. And in the blink of a year or ten, you're in a perpetual hamster wheel of commute/work/family/Weekend Activity Planned By Extended Family.
There's that somewhat seminal book Bowling Alone, that looks at the fall of civic engagement and group whatever. The takeaway is that no one is joining bowling leagues, no one is squeezing themselves into their monkey suits to go to Elk Fundraiser or hob-nob at a Rotary function. There is almost no way to add more friends to whoever you glommed onto at school, and whoever you may work with.
I mean, where is my Barney Rubble? Where is my Jeremy Piven? Jeremy Piven, as you probably don't know, played what I consider to be the epitome of 'best friend' in two movies that I should feel embarassed for liking but don't: "Family Man" and "Serendipity". He was funny and odd and warm and shared in-jokes with the leading men that showed a closeness you only get through years of knowing each other.
It's likely a losing strategy to compare my social life with those constructed by cocaine and adderall addicted screen writers trying to get six figures for their latest script about the heart-warming strength of the family and about how love really can conquer all, even if you have John Cusack as your lead. But there's something in me that recognizes Piven in those films.
It's like Plato's shadow on the cave wall. It's maybe this imaginary reflection of an ideal that's only pulled out to sell more beer and week-long Alaskan fishing trips. Or maybe it's a representation of what we think we should have. That bond between men. Metaphorically speaking.
As all my semi-deep rants seem to end up in a hap-dash evolutionary discussion, let's go there. Back during our most formative years, tens of thousands of years ago, hunting and gathering as hunter-gathers are wont to do, there had to be friends right? Hunting together, making sure Baak didn't get gutted by a sabertooth or that Tarkuk got his fair share of the mastodon. It was a bond formed on real stuff.
What I'm saying is that call for close friends is not coming from nowhere. Social monkeys that we are. But there is no hunt anymore, there is no grind to strengthen that stuff between men.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Possibly to a Al Pacino monologue, I think.
I saw "I Love You, Man", recently. And damnit all if I wasn't the main character. Socially separated and without any number of dudes who he could call friends. His painful attempts at trying to cultivate guy friends hit a little too close to home. Having 'man-dates', keeeeeripes if that didn't make my skin crawl through my ear and die on the shelf of my brain pan. But his continued awkwardness on what was cool, what was 'right', what was 'guy-appropriate'.
I dunno what happened, jobs happened, maybe, schooling happened. Life and kids and the stuff of being an adult happened. That vast sea of free time that we seemed to have to go to McDonald's or awkwardly stand in line at club vanished.
It's all pretty confusing. All I know is I don't got no Piven.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Alrighty, so the story revolves around Francis, a hemp farmer and interpretive banjo avant-garde conceptualizer who travels three months of the year to Africa to help them run clown schools for the deaf and those susceptible to renal failure.
His partner and love of his life, Jessica, is a folk-singer who plays free shows for Sandinista Rebels and the Society of WW I Half-Track Repairmen. On her time off she crafts beautifully made stained-glass windows for neighbours, friends, and a homeless man who, while looking craggy and utterly without the benefit of modern psychiatric phramacology, is actually very kind and gentle at heart.
They lead a life of warmth and laughter and fill it with quirky friends and a non-traditional yet heartwarming interpretation of the extended family.
Then one day, Francis meets William, a high powered hedge fund manager, champion polo player, and second captain for a nationally ranked yacht team. William, through a series of very low-key and understated adventures, exposes Francis to the rat-race of broken dreams, high grade Columbian White, and 30-something Type-A personalities who are already working on their third angina. He's drawn into a lifestyle of power and six-martini lunches.
Before Francis knows it, he's sold his hemp farm, divorced Jessica, and used exotic financial tools to bilk the African clown schools out of every dime they ever had and then parlayed that money into seeding a venture capital firm which helps build companies that sell and distribute, piecemeal, former Soviet Russia's war machine.
Next is a time-lapse series of events, showing him going through his insanely structured life filled with high-priced Italian cars and higher-priced women. Cross-fades of him laughing hysterically and him sobbing in unhinged peals of deepest anguish, all, of course, in front of some sort of stock-trading computer. Several shots of him in a daze in luxurious rooms surrounded by various indescribable sex and/or drug paraphernalia.
The end of the movie will have him meet up with Jessica, by chance. They don't recognize each other. She has dropped her previous lifestyle and has become a high-powered music executive. The movie closes on them having empty, meaningless sex, each focused in the middle distance while Joe Cocker's version of With a Little Help from My Friend plays over Jessica's immaculate $178,000 custom-engineered Bose stereo system.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Now, I mean this in a slightly derogatory way, but only if you're one to take affront to being called brash, loud, and in possession of far more ego than is healthy. I mean, people wear cowboy hats, in public, and not just during Halloween.
There is a very respectable showing of that slightly irksome sticker "Support our Troops" on seemingly every car. Now here I am, getting political, which I try to avoid as I know little about either side and am generally disappointed whenever I get behind one or the other. But "Support our Troops" has that... that strange air of meaning something very important and then meaning nothing at all. Like 'All Natural', 'Neutral Viewpoint' or 'Mainly Bug-free'.
Who doesn't support the men and women who put themselves in harm's way? But how? By voting for officials who will keep putting them in harms way? By sending them gift baskets? By thinking good thoughts? I guess on one side it's a bit... it sounds like the whole bumper sticker thing is made by cynical neo-cons to create a wedge issue, on the other, it certainly makes one remember that there are troops somewhere, representing our interests (hopefully), and trying as best as they can to avoid injury or death. It's good that there are reminders about that.
Wow, I really typed myself onto the fence on that one.
Back to Calgary. Land of the oil barons and conservative politics. Rodeos! Steak! Things vaguely western! To me it's miles and miles of undulating (I think our friends who lived there said it was.. rolling foothills? They just looked like slightly less flat prairies, to me) hills filled with McMansions and hyper efficient highways.
American highways. Those beasts of concrete that take up twelve more lanes than they should and are spaced so far apart that you need a rest area half way through an on-ramp. Maybe you are American, Imaginary Blog Reader, so you know well of what I speak.
In Vancouver, our highway system is cramped, utterly tiny, and painfully congested. It's like the worst of Europe and the worst of LA in a small, rain soaked area of the Pacific Northwest. Whereas most roadway systems in North America have a super fast highway that circles the city and allows for ingress and egress. Vancouver has one tiny highway, which stops short of the city proper, so one has to go through normal roads to get into the city. It's just as hectic and as brain embolism inducing as it sounds. (A happy by product is that the entire Lower Mainland has really excellent population density).
Onto this constellation of asphalt and yellow lines we drove our rental car. We were happy with a subcompact, that's what we drive at home, a little Mazda, just as much as we need, we figure. The Calgarian at the rental company looked at us, our two brood, and upgraded us to a 'full-sized' car, free.
Full-sized certainly is, especially when you are talking domestic cars. We got a Dodge Charger. Which is part muscle car and part 'good lord why is there so much leg room in here do they think we are transporting giraffe-spider hybrids?'.
I grew up with Dukes of Hazzard so the idea of driving a muscle car was kinda thrilling. Massive eighty ton monsters of road. Chunky road slicks! WELDED DOORS! Mrs. Owl didn't take too kindly to the idea of "Daisy Dukes", however.
Those big cars aren't terribly responsive though. I'm used to small city streets and a top speed of, oh, say, 90 km/h (no, I'm not converting it, go look it up, ya dang Yankee). You hit 100, our Protege5 lets us know that things are 'not cool', we hit around 120, and there had better be a swarm of locusts and a monsoon of frogs on our tail because we are going a Certifiably Dangerous Speed. Things shudder. RPMs on the motor are certainly audible. Air keens through the less resilient windows. This is how I'm used to driving.
In the Charger, you move the steering wheel, and just about after you toasted your bagel and got through the trickier bits of the NY Times crossword, there might be in indication that the car has acknowledged your request and is on its way to possibly altering course. One gets the sense that you need a sergent-at-arms or a quartermaster or some other titled position in order to steer it. The use of sextant would not be surprising.
And then I got onto the highway. At some point, while gliding easily along, I glanced at the speedometer, that told me in no uncertain terms that we were going 110, and that, if it wasn't too much trouble, could we get to driving at some point? I punched it up to 120 just to see if I might hear the engine at some point. I think it may have purred. Of course, since I was on an American Style highway, it appeared I was going about 20km/h, in a school zone, through a bit of pudding, in low gravity, while running my car on good-thoughts and tightly wound rubber bands..
So, there are definitely some good things about a Charger. Suicidally fast speeds. Smooth ride. I think at some point I thought I might look pretty rad in a cowboy hat, and saying 'yahooo'.
I moved Grade 10 to some city school. The mullets weren't as rampant, and the 1972 Camaros and '82 corvettes were replaced with cars that were so riced up they made "The Fast & The Furious" vehicles look like your grandma's K-Car. With the beeping reverse. Supras, RX-7s, s2000s, cars that had wheels that were more expensive as my first car.
Oh, and the school was about 90% not-white (where not-white is Indian or Asian (where Asian is Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese (where Chinese is all the way from hard core Honger who comes to school in a Mercedes 500 SL to the CBC who doesn't know Dim Sum from KFC's boneless wings))).
It was a slight adjustment for me.
One of these adjustments was dealing with a school that was about 50 feet from an arcade. For some reason, the kids from Hong Kong were really really really really really good at Street Fighter II. There were two big screen games set up, and two more just plain cabinets. The reigning champ would sit, slumped, with the arrogant Triad gangster air that is hard to describe, and stay there until he was bested.
At some point a dot-matrix printed Street Fighter II Bible was circulated. I kid you not. there were moves and combos and ... just.... Think Game Faqs except more obsessive and crazy.
The moves these kids did were, I daresay, things that most nerds have not seen. Here are things I"ve seen them do:
-freeze Guile (during which you cannot hit him, he's in the middle of a high kick, i think)
-mute the game (yes, by some game combo hackery)
-reboot the game (no, not by reaching on the top of the cabinet)
-turn Dhalsim invisble (this was before the SF version where Dhalsim could go invisible. He couldnt' attack, he just disappeared)
-do the infamous Invisible Throw (Guile would do a Medium throw movement, and even though the opponent was far away, they'd just fall down and take throw damage).
It was a heady time. This was, as far as I can tell, the Asian equivalent of early 80's Breaking Dance Offs. There were strange rituals, like, if you won the first game, you 'gave' the second round to the other player; that is, you played the 2nd round hard, but when the other player was almost dead, you'd just took your hands off the controls. Breaking this ritual was... frowned upon.
Anyhow, that's my story of the Super Awesome Hardcore Street Fighter II I grew up with.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
We know this stuff is junk. Undeniably, objects that will never ever be used in any capacity. But somehow it seems too useful, or maybe too kitschy (this means ugly, but in a nostalgic way) to just throw in the garbage. This stuff just skirts outside the confines of real junk and earns its place on the Shelf Of Storing.
The Shelf of Storing is that little cubby hole or perfectly situated storage rack in the pantry that would just be great to hold something you'd really need if it wasn't carrying your complete collection of 1981 Hot Wheels and a replacement bulb for an Easy Bake oven. It's something you see every day until you find yourself asking yourself why is it that you have to reach over that box of Slinky's every time you want to get a can of tomatoes?
Garage sales are spurned by that desire to reclaim the Shelf of Storing. That most perfect and ideal spot of storage that, if reclaimed, would make your life as organized and well-run as an Ikea catalogue (Storage & Bin Solutions, p. 872). You'd also start throwing dinner parties, and making all your food from scratch too. Maybe buying a small plot of land just outside the city and doing all your own organic farming...
And yet, somehow, when we see a garage sale, we somehow think we'll discover treasure there, an unrealized wonderiffic find of unbearable value. A baseball card worth millions, a Mongoose BMX, a Van Gogh. We know, somewhere deep down, there's an Antiques Road Show expert just waiting for their moment to shine.
It's a symptom of our own blindness, or a retreading of the phrase "Another man's junk is another man's junk in about 2-3 months or whenever he gets around to having his own garage sale." . We can't be as dull and as stupid as the average Joe. Yet, you know, math never lies, the average Joe is as dumb as the average Joe. Odd how that works.
In other news, I got this totally rad 80's Battlestar Galactica Basestar! Damn, it's sweet. And all for 2 bucks at a garage sale! The guy didn't even know what he had. Hehehehehe.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Whereas the world often thinks of Vancouver as 'pretty' and 'quaint' (if the world ever thinks of the hamlet of Vancouver, at all), Vancouver is a pit of despair, grime, and abject villainy compared to the capital of British Columbia, Victoria. Named after a German who nevertheless epitomizes Britain, Victoria is a place for, as they say, "the newly wed and the nearly dead". Weddings and pensioners abound.
It's a city that looks like it was painstakingly crafted, brick by brick to be the quaintest, most flower basket festooned city in all of North America. There are little pubs that must've cost a fortune to look 'just right', where 'right' is whatever the prevailing opinion is about how an Irish/Scottish/Whatever pub looks like. There is history too. Of course, in BC, history is anything that's lasted more than 50 years.
It's remarkably safe. The homeless folks are more dread-locked hippy than 'scary and perhaps forgetting some meds' types. There are gardens and hanging baskets and well-painted architectural details. It's difficult, if not impossible to find the 'bad' part of town. I narrowed it down to 'any place that hasn't had a coat of paint in the last 3 months', or 'any street that my wife tells me is 'bad''. It's bewildering.
We went over there for a wedding. One of those stunning affairs peopled by the youthful and brash, those optimistic and idealistic beacons of joy and verve that make you wonder when you ever were that. Damn. Perky. We had become the staid, quiet, and somewhat tired thirty-somethings who watched the wedding with distant, half-remembering smiles. It's odd, going to these things. A bunch of strangers who all know two people very well, or are obligated to know them. It's an ultimate test of mingling, making pleasantries and acquaintance with clerks from Fred Meyer's or bankers from Wickitaw, everyone looking dapper everyone asking the same questions. Usually giving the same answers, come to think of it.
I can barely handle those things. It's an extroverts paradise, and only tolerable to this introvert by partaking in the open bar and by faking it. And there is always the Inner Circle, the groom and bride and all their best friends. The best you can do is try not to be too intrusive as they have their last party as wild kids, unfettered by tragedy and life's small injustices. I always feel a little odd. I feel like I'm taking up a space that maybe could have been taken up by someone closer and more important. Invariably, this is true. But I don't mind being part of the crowd. Why I can' t be part of the crowd while at home, safely away from small talk with strangers, I'll never know.
It wasn't all bad, of course. The Missus had a great time. Victoria is really a great place to visit if you like peace, quiet, and hundreds of years of iron-willed British World Domination reduced to High Tea at the Empress for $55/head. And, if you can believe it, they had their wedding at the Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Which, in reality, is some coal magnates hunting lodge/man-castle that blah blah blah, family tragedy, blah blah blah, heirs to the fortune killed or offed or succumbed to dysentery, blah blah blah Canadian Military bought it for a song.
It was no Hearst Castle, mind you, but still, pretty damn awesome. Wood paneling and overprice light fixtures never fail to impress.
There were other niftily nerdy things about our trip.
Oddly enough, our hotel (which wasn't Xavier's School) was situated in some sort of nerd enclave. There were about 4 comic book shops and a Games Workshop, which looked to me to be a D&D... uh.. store? It was pleasant to wander through, and try and recognized old heroes I used to collect, and flinch at the bizarre representations to the female form, and physics defying homages to spandex. And gravity, actually.
There were nice little niches for indie comics that featured artists I had heard of, or thought I'd heard of, and which all made me feel less cool for not really being too interested in it all. The comic shops and whatnot are places where I should feel at home, where, nerd-man-child that I am, should be home at last. Oddly, not so much.
On the way home to the hotel, I stopped by this place, which had pretty much every single toy I had played with or (more likely) toy that my friends had that I coveted. Quite literally in every display were these amazing magic talismen of nostalgia. And they were all pretty reasonable, (like say, 15 bucks for Hocus Pocus). They also had these little art installations, like say, a steampunk AT-AT. Or the Alien from the same movie made out of nuts and bolts.
So there were things for the Missus,and things for me. And during one of our many walks, just wandering around the pretty stores and cobbled streets, I saw the highlight of the entire trip. I think this could be the highlight to any trip, actually, but I'm not sure if seeing him means we were I'm in the dodgy part of town or not.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
But, back to first bikes. Your very very first bike? What was it? Did you dream about it, have a Sears catalog cutout that you kept under your Star Wars pillow case, know every minutae and every word of the sales copy? Was it a Schwinn ten-speed? A Mongoose BMX? A, heaven forbid, Huffy?
I don't recall ever really wanting anything for an inordinate amount of time (the hope I'd get some newest-fangled thingamadoodle was quashed pretty early and often), and a bike was no exception. I saw BMX Bandits, sure, but I don't think I ever thought of having one of those. I wasn't cool enough or adventurous enough, and besides, turning on the TV to watch Electric Company got me winded.
My first bike was some sort of banana seated ... fixie? Is that what they call them? It had coaster breaks, so you could do wicked skids with them. The tires were a type of cheap foam or solid rubber so you NEVER had a flat tire. Of course, it had all the smoothness a sliding town a gravel road infested with speedbumps on corrugated iron sheet during an earthquake, but that was besides the point. The banana seat made me feel like I was riding a chopper.
The next bike that I can remember, I'm sure I had many hand-me-downs in between, was a 5-speed cruiser that me and my friends called "The Red Elephant". I was 12, 13ish, the Elephant was built for an adult man with an overactive pituitary gland. It had these enormous wheels that I swear would not seem out of place on those turn of the century high wheel bikes. These things turned and it didn't so much roll as MOVE THE EARTH UNDER IT. It was quite easily the least cool thing I had ever owned (which is, well, saying a lot). The plus side was that, since this was during the height of the mountain bike craze (and nobbly tires), and owing to the aforementioned enormous (and, actually, road slick, razor thin wheels), it was harrowingly fast. The route from my house to the elementary was down a street/highway workaround. There is no sidewalk, just a paved shoulder. While it was dangerous, it was super fun to go screaming down that road to school, going indecent speeds at a height that would immediately get me three tickets or a fast track career path if I worked for a medieval sultan.
I don't ride bikes anymore. The thought of getting on one makes me sleepy and the thought of trying to learn all the new lingo makes me almost comatose.
But damn, bikes sure were fun, weren't they?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
And one day, you give up Zeppelin, and move onto Sound Garden, or Ice-T, or Street Fighter II. There are these ephemeral hobbies and interests that take up so much of our world and our time, that shape how we see the world and what we see of it. I don't think that, while in the throes of some wicked Joe Satriani lick or finishing the last panel of a Power Pack comic, that we ever consider that we'll never do it again. We'll never give it the care and attention it demanded from us.
At some point, these past-times become nostalgia, which then become fodder for next year's Michael Bay Breast and BOOM-BOOM ExxxTRAVEGANZA! It's something. I'm not sure if it's sad, per se, but it's evidence of the ever rushing passage of time all around us while we fly fish haphazardly in its waters, assured that we will never move, ignorant of the impermanence.
But easy there, before I get too philosophical and have to write an unpublished polemic on space-time and our reality in it and rise to the assistant district manager at a local fast food chain. This isn't some deep and profound insight. You can never go back home, as they say. True enough. You can never quite watch a 297 pound man jump 6 feet off a top rope and absolutely believe it's real again, you can never get those butterflies while trying to get your car in gear on uphill red light.
But there is a transition from there to here, isn't there? A Last Time.
Except for assembling Hyperion, this robot is fricking sweet.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
This past weekend we decided, to hell with curfews, likely meltdowns, a napalm powered cranky toddler with lungs of a robotic screaming dinosaur, we were going out. OUT. As in, out of the home! When it's nighttime! We are a young and semi-but-not-really-free family! We can do whatever the heck we want! Maybe even swear, or eat fast food! Course, we didn't want to go too crazy. It's not like we were going out to the local indie movie festival followed by a Slam Poetry competition and finished by a after-hours rave at a disused grain elevator. But, you know, something semi-exciting!
We settled on the Richmond Night Market. Apparently the largest night market in Canada, which, is, well I'm not sure that's saying all to much. In a country where the weather is lethally cold, malarially humid, or 'meh, you call this summer!?', I'm not sure we can say we lead the charge in Night Market..ing.
Richmond, for those of you who don't know, is an expanse of flat land which goes in every direction as far as the eye can see, or to the mountains, whichever comes first. It's population is overwhelmingly Chinese, even for the Lower Mainland. This is like saying Zimbabwe is overwhelmingly African, even for Africa. Or that parts of America are overwhelmingly armed, even for America. There are parts of Richmond that have, I think, nothing but signs in Chinese. These swaths of the city desperately need an Occidental Town, where people can buy pot roast and overpriced but on the non-legal action side of the law merchandise.
Where was I?
Ah, Richmond Night Market. Where every form of trinket and bauble can be bought, cash, no refunds, 'tax included'. If you're into Hello Kitty or Asian cinema at all, this is the place to be. If you are wondering what people do when they buy commercial-grade 28 slot DVD copiers, well, this is the place for you too. If you are in the market for cheap knockoffs that most likely will disintegrate in your hand if exposed to rain, sunlight, wind, or, you know, use, then come on down!
The entire ground is packed with enterprising souls with a contact in Hong Kong and the ability to set up an outside awning. They have that look of 'it's my father's tent, I just want to go to the mall, but I'll pretend to mind the shop'.
The food fair is where it's at, however all manner of Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese or fusion cuisine you can think of. Dim sum? Got it. Bubble tea? Is there any other kind!? Oddly cut fried potato on a stick? You betcha! Mini-donuts? Why not! It's a place where MSG, adult-onset diabetes, and mild angina get together for a PARTY!
It was a nice get away, if hot. We saw, and those of you who are new parents will giggle in recognition, the sun set for the first time in... well, it felt like years. There were no meltdowns, oddly, and thankfully, enough. The food punishing to the body but awesome. I think we got some trinkets, which have since been lost, tossed, or spontaneously exploded under a stern stare.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
8:39 AM : Tried a 'car wash'. The machine, some behemoth of a thing, tried to touch me. I've made a note to get my missiles reloaded by the Foundation.
10:21 AM : Michael phoned me on his wristwatch, asked me, "How it was all going, good buddy." That watch is not for small talk. I am not amused.
11:55 AM : Tested my oil slick deployment mechanism. Not far from where Michael was swimming, coincidentally.
12:03 PM : Tried listening to some Bach or Mozart on the local classical music station. It's been replaced by two 'shock jocks' who are terribly interested in a young celebrity's mammary glands. Miffed.
1:44 PM : Feeling... spritely. Clipped a small VW Bug that was going a bit too slow in the fast lane.
2:19 PM : Ran a red light. Ran through a dump truck. Indestructible exterior still working.
4:42 PM : Finally evaded police. Less than 30 dead. This 'letting it all hang out' can be quite bloody. Just have to go swing by the carwash to get the blood off... Oh damn.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Greetings New Overlords (or Insectoid Hivemind or Robotic Carnivourous Enslavement Franchisers or Bombastic Militaristic Despotic Regime Of Unimaginable Power)!
Well hey there! Didn't think you'd be here so soon. This is a mighty fine planet we got here, it's got rivers and lakes and oceans; forests and jungles and tundras. A vast array of animal and plant species, that, while diminishing at alarming rates, are still pretty impressive. There's not a small amount of rare minerals to be harvested from any manner of buildings and installations. Or, if you so desire, right from the earth's mantle. Yeah, that's right, we still got some right in the rock! How quaint!
Our people are smart and work hard when given the proper incentives. We can survive under a number of conditions, or make suits to do so without slowing down your entire regime and/or empire. Our lack of any substantial telepathic or telekinetic abilities makes us almost a perfect slave race!
Now, I know what you're saying, there's quite a bit of degradation already around here, what with the toxic chemicals and rampant deforestation, the corrosion of the topsoil, the acceleration of greenhouse gases and runaway global warming. But we've only just begun! This planet has hardly reached the devastated wasteland of a dry burned-out husk of a world yet! People aren't dying immediately when being exposed to our star's radiation! An animal can live it's entire lifespan out in the open air without choking on particulate matter! It's almost pristine, on the scale of things.
Sure, sure, you can see our innumerable number of civil wars and turf battles and small scale battles bespeaking of unimaginable cruelty, vice and evil; but that's just you not looking at the opportunity the right way! Well, if you are in any way warlike, and let's face it, you can't get even three parsecs in this galaxy without taking to the good ol' laser blaster a little bit, well, we can serve as ample fodder. We have initiative and bring a certain imagination to our killing. What you see as barbaric we see as plucky and inspired! And if you aren't so much into wielding the good ol' space destroyer, as it were, well, every highly advanced civilization needs their guards, am I right? Those poor saps you throw at enterprising rebel uprisings or marauding space pirates. We die quietly but not without a fight, as I'm sure you've noticed from your own... experiences.
But hey! Look at me blabbering on about a planet I'm sure you know quite well. Let me say what I can offer to you. A certain amount of respect, for one. I respect the natural order of things. That is, a race which can fire mini black holes and arm all their infantry with high energy particle-beam cannons probably has a right to rule over us puny humans with our nuclear warheads and evangelical TV stations. Secondly, I know the people, it's customs. And, even if you are planning on wiping our memories or implanting devices to make us little more than very delicate robots, I'll have you know I'm well versed in what a human body can and cannot take. Say, for instance, humans cannot walk through molten lava, strange, but true!
I'm not asking for much. A small city, maybe, a few hundred of my own slaves, perhaps.
And, if it's not asking too much, if you could take just a little longer when torturing or killing Sam Anderson, branch manager for the Gap down the street, I'd really appreciate it.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
1987 Chrysler Kamikazee (Station Wagon)- Thinking that it was the culture that was drawing American consumers to Honda's and Toyotas. Liking the idea of a 'divine wind' moving family units about, executives greenlit this car line immediately before it was caught by an intern.
2001 Honda Ascend (12 mpg SUV) Featured real time NYSE ticker, PDF delivery of Fast Company, Business 2.0, and Red Herring, and self-inflating tires.
1975 Ford Unassailable Bastion (5 mpg 389 hp Sedan) 100% American Pig Iron with a 300 gallon gas tank. Touted to go 1500 miles between fill-ups.
1959 Mercury Victory (Wagon) Designed to never ever, ever, ever, ever break down.
1994 Yamaha Breakneck (motorbike) A competitor to the Ninja.
2008 Lincoln Bull (SUV) With over 9000 safety features it was posited to be uncrashable.
1978 Ford Super Pinto (sport sedan) Like the pinto, but with a much larger gas tank for long hauls.
1983 Harley Davidson Traction Their first foray into super fast sport bikes.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I’d like to kick-start a bluesky iniative to start an end-to-end process re-imagineering of how we do our client-centric enterprise software deployments. There’ll be no gold-plating at this webinar. Nothing but down to the bone, boots on the grounds, eyes on the level thinking that’ll paradigm shift how we do our outside the box creative restructuring (creatucturing!).
Think of it as a way to touch base with all stakeholders, so we can go forward while keeping everyone in the loop without having to run a flag up the pole. A solid group meeting where we can all re-integrate our pro-active thought showers and our reflective extra-norma revolution memes.
This is a heads up.
At this moment in time it’s just a call to arms to get us all singing from the same sheet. If we really want to push the envelope and get 360 degree thinking involved in our dynamic work flow processes, this is the only way to get all our ducks in a row.
If we find some vertical shift-progressions to be taking a wide arc in our time box, we can, of course, take it offline. It’s just a time to ping and incent everyone to really drill down and delayer our improvement portfolio.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Anyhow, my friend had some memorabilia from the company they work for, from when they had business in India. Let's call it MegaCorp. So MegaCorp has an India branch, and they use a tiny cricket bat to symbolize this. That is, cricket = India. Which got me thinking to how so many cultures take various things from other cultures, and over time, decide that this borrowed thing is really The One Thing Of Which We Are All Very Proud Of And Certainly Not From Another Country. Like, say, England and tea, or curry. India and pretty much anything from England. Philippines and corned beef and spam (yes, nice choices there). Finland and tango (another head scratcher). Japanese and baseball. Swedes and hockey. French and jazz. Russia and ballet.
It's a weird amalgam where fierce national loyalty adheres to something completely foreign. Maybe it's a testament to how meaningless nationalism is, or what a strange illusion it all can be. I remember a discussion with a coworker and talking about curry, they quite strongly identified with it, him being English and all, this made less than no sense. But I suppose there is little sense in fierce loyalties. Doubly so if they are mixed with nationalism.
But I repeat myself.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
So, obviously, in revealing all this, I suppose to the average normal (non nerd), I am a Trekkie. But us nerds know what a real Trekkie is. They have memorabilia, they go to conventions, they know at least a few passing phrases in Klingon. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I'm not a Trekkie.
In any event, one of my neighbours looked at me slyly and said, "You're a, a 'Trekkie'", as if accusing me of harbouring a harmless if slightly disfiguring form of hepatitis. She has this light European accent, and said it with such pitying derision, I felt my cultural wherewithal being challenged; although, to be honest, I've been upfront to my neighbours about my utter lack of cultural knowledge, a ponderous adversity to culling any sort of zeitgeist or being hip with who the Algonquin [sic] Five [sic] are, and why they are important, and why the name just makes me think of the Council of Elrond. Nevertheless, I will not be accused of something I'm not.
It's a cross, that us nerd, us introverted elite, bear. Yes, we are socially awkward and avoid any undue social gatherings. Yes we have odd and vaguely childish preoccupations which, if you really cornered a normal and asked them about it, they'd have to confess it was pretty rad. But we like to be derided and ostracized for things we really are into.
We take an odd pride, I think, in these impolite and outlandish hobbies. It's not that someone cosplaying Babylon 5 is without social awareness. It's not that two people re-enacting the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail think it's hilarious to the general public. We love it in spite of the normals. In spite of being called odd and weird and chronically virgin. In spite of being pitied and pidgeon-holed and generally laughed at.
Like, I'm terribly into PC gaming, or odd web comics, or software engineering practical theory (yes, yes, I know, oxymoron). I don't mind being avoided at cocktail parties for this. I don't mind my parents trying to veer any conversation in polite company in a wide berth around said subjects. I do, however, take umbrage with dealing with the normals baggage about stuff I'm not particularly into. I think that's fair.
It was hard to convince this neighbour. I decided in the end it didn't really matter, a nerd is a nerd is a nerd, I'm sure they think. Besides, anyone who knows that the serial number for the Enterprise was NC-1701 isn't entirely innocent of Trekkie-hood.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Owlet has become more vociferous and independent as she's gotten older. She's now the ripe old age of 2 years, 9 months. She absolutely must do everything herself, even the things that might get her maimed or killed... especially those things. I try and keep her from doing those things. Mostly.
I cede to simple, non-lethal things she wants to do herself.
After getting her ready to bed one night, I'm carrying her to the bathroom for a tooth brushing and she says "ME WALK! ME WALK!" then proceeds into a semi-meltdown. I drop her faster than Fox drops a promising and innovative new TV series. We're halfway down (a very short) hallway, and she insists on taking a few steps to the doorway of where we started and only then walk to the bathroom. In my mind I start to think "What are you, a chil-- ohright."
She has few silly phrases. These might be sacharrine on honey on sugar sweet, so, read at your expense:
- On seeing Molly (the dog) curled up sleeping, she'll say, "Molly's a circle!"
- Anytime she sees something that she knows she's not allowed to do, she'll get super expressive and say, "When me older, me do that!". I was cutting vegetables for dinner, she said, quite eerily, "When me older, me have knives." Uhm, kay.
- I must use this phrase more than I think I do, because she's started saying, 'Oh good LOWD', quite often.
- When stalling to postpone bedtime, she'll exclaim "Me need water! Me need crackers!", etc. She was caught in the act of just making stuff up when one night she said, "Me need... uhmmmm something..."
- If you ask her the time, it's always 'Six twelve'.
- The bottom lip of pout comes out at the SLIGHTEST provocation.
- Thank god she has a fervent imagination. If she is really upset, or near meltdown, all I have to do is point somewhere, make up an animal, a colour, a name, and say what it's doing. For some reason she utterly believes me, and looks over, and starts chatting with it. For example, "Owlet, look over there, it's a blue elephant, and he's got a banana cake, he's asking if you want some." Man, imagination bordering on hallucination must be aweseome.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
It has come to my attention that while it was, indeed, lovely to spend time in Coventry last year, it being the home of Eliot and being a wonderful metropolis still possessed of small-village England that, I think you'll agree, is essential in this age, it might perhaps be time to reconsider how I might spend my next sabbatical.
There's something to be said about the roar of the engine, don't you agree? Twenty First Century barrelling down upon the gentlemen of England, and indeed, the gentleman's gentleman. One should be steadfast in ones ways, to be sure, but there's something to be said for foresight, and the courage to embrace approaching trends, no matter how low they might seem at first.
We can't all keep our desires lashed against the very idea of progress, as the life of Lord Dufferin in Punjab can attest. And I being of very modest mental gifts, can only shift with the coming seas. I might be wrong, of course, nothing would surprise me less than if I found myself in error, but I do believe, in whatever humble capacity I can do so, that the upcoming
M-M-M-Monster Truck Rally Motor Sport Spectacular and Hooters Pageant 2009 might be a worthwhile event to attend.
I'm of the age that I do not need to explain myself, but, as my employer, I think you should know where I'm going and why, even if where I'm going is the only place on the entire Island that has over 10,000 horsepower of pure adrenaline filled edge-of-your-seat excitement. It might be hard for you to understand, and indeed I think I might take some time digesting it myself, how a wet t-shirt contest to determine the 'perkiest' Hooters waitress in South Wales might further my progression and growth as an Englishman and a humble subject of her Majesty.
It's a question that puzzles me but is not, I think, outside of my grasp, should I pursue it long enough.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Maybe it was morbid curiousity, maybe it was the unreasonable belief that I'd some how come out of my shell and start contributing and brainstorming and gesturing manically towards trenchant Power Point slides. Maybe the solitude of staring at a computer screen for weeks on end had gotten to me. Maybe I was hoping that I'd enter in a smoke-filled room thick with the heady brew of cross-talking think-tanking and creative outbursts the likes of which haven't been seen since Hollywood did their impression of a New York newsroom.
Ah, I know why I really went. It was to meet people who had almost certainly actually read my articles. I mean, they'd have to, in the course of doing layout of editing or whatever it is that editorial boards do. And sure, maybe it'd only be in passing, or by accident, or just to ensure I hadn't mentioned how the entire world banking system is controlled by a race of hyper-intelligent fruit flies with sinister intentions.
Because on the other side of this keyboard here, furiously torturing metaphors and constructing complex barely intelligible sentences with hope, spit, and bailing wire, there's very little feedback. At the newsletter, there's almost none. I get a little kind note from whoever I submit to, and that's pretty much it. My work group sometimes comments, tells me how it's not the shittiest thing that has every molested their eyes, but you know, they pretty much have to say something.
At Periodically.org High Quality Thrice Inspected Original ASCIII Nettube Products I get the occasional comment, but mainly am egged on by the Google Followers (if you read regularly, and haven't added yourself, er, here's the hint).
There's always that bit of madness and neurosis that inhabits every hack that compels them to write. But the idea that actual people read it, and maybe don't shut down their web browser and kick their computer for assaulting their verbal brain centers, well not immediately afterwards anyways, is the drug that keeps one writing.
So, that's why I went, I think.
It went as expected, everyone really quiet since none of us work with each other on a regular basis, everyone being overly polite and no one making too many hard decisions. This is how I imagine every meeting to go, actually. It was pleasant, though, to see the faces of the other contributors and editors and whatnot. I felt like I wasn't just writing off 500 words and sending off to the ether.
And it might have been my imagination, but I think I may have gotten the faintest glimmer of recognition from some of them, as if they may have remembered that I had written an article for every letter since it had been revitalized. There was no back slap and the jocular handshake of journalistic bon homie, nothing of that sort. But I wasn't greeted as a total stranger. I guess not all meetings are bad.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Anyways, I was invited to a fund raiser for a literary magazine I'd never heard of. Not that I know of many literary mags. And I'm pretty sure the mark of a good lit mag is that no one has heard of it. Street cred, as I understand.
There was a nagging part of me that told me I should probably attend. Images of hanging out like Hemingway with all his writerly friends, discussing... well, whatever writers discuss, Post-Modernism, Derrida, liver cirrhosis. I had in my verdant imagination an idea of a culturally rich group of peers all riffing off each other. Discussing meaning and plot and illusion and intention. I tried to silence that ever present pessimist in me who knew that it'd just be a place for all the young hip cats to hang out and be ironic and possibly 'hook-up' with each other. Occam's Aftershave, "Given a set of possible and wildly wonderful reasons for a group to exist, the reason most likely is hooking-up".
But, yes, well, I'm an idealist. It perhaps helps that I keep myself socially sequestered from most of society most of the time. This keeps me from reality and all it's rude awakenings.
So, in a move that I'll ponder over for years to come, I decided to go.
Peer-something something! Creative co-working.. thing. There's a knot in my stomach though. A thick, hairy knot covered in razor-wire and small, shaped explosive charges: I Am Not Cool Enough. This will surprise no one who visits this blog or who has had halting, embarrassingly stilted conversations with me.
I was a Science nerd in undergrad. Arts undergrads were that much cooler, and Fine Arts undergrads were the coolest of the cool. I think the certainty of under/unemployment creates an aura of mystery and danger, don't you? Anyhow, that's who'd be at this thing. Fine Arts undergrads. People who see films, not movies. People who use the term 'slam' when discussing poetry, and think that words should not only be read, but spoken. Pall Malls, I'm sure, are smoked for their sheer irony. Same goes for Pabst beers. It would be a den of meta-ironic post-modernist pseudo-faux hipsters. A DEN, I say.
Going there would be a fate worse than death. I came to that clear conclusion the closer and closer I came to the butchershop-converted-to-art-space.
And I came close, I came within viewing distance of the Den of Hipster. But I could go no further. They were not my tribe. I was not drunk enough. I certainly was not nearly cool enough.
If it was group of nerds doing a late night showing of Robocop 2, maybe. If it was a gaggle of programmers discussing the futility of dynamic languages used by heterogenous coworkers with varied coding ability, I could grit my teeth and bear it. But, this. This was too much.
I'm glad I know my limits. And I'm even more glad that I went home straight away. Serves me right for answering spam.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
This week's idea came from metamonk. I can't link to him since he has no web presence to speak of. No real presence either, now that I think of it. I imagine him to be the sort who knows all about high energy radio waves and how much concrete you'd need to go 'unnoticed'. He's also the sort, although he's never said it, who's quite comfortable using the phrase 'off the grid'.
This is what happens when you spend the most formative years of your life reading books on espionage, apparently.
Onto the topic: Sentences That Imply Their Opposites
- I don't want to be mean but...
- I'm not in it for the money...
- Comic book collecting isn't just for kids and 40 year old virgins who live in their parents basements, you know.
- This won't hurt a bit.
- Far be it for me to suggest a change, but...
- It's not you, it's me.
- Normally I don't watch that show, but I was flipping through the channels and...
- I'm pretty slow to anger.
- I'm not one to notice looks, usually.
- I don't pay attention to celebrity news.
- Man, I hate how cars are such status symbols now.
- Hey, before you head out home, can I talk to you for just a minute?
- I'm not a violent man.
- Strip clubs are so lame.
- I only read the classics.
- Barry Manilow? My mom must've forgotten that CD.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Enthusiasm is something we all aspire to have, in some way. It keeps work fresh, coworkers fired up, and adds a bit of pep when your mind wants desperately to go on cruise control.
Not all the time, of course; no one wants to be the perpetually perky upstart who needs 37 cups of coffee and 2 hours of Elmo just to get out of bed in the morning. The sort who causes everyone to roll their eyes and start speaking sarcasm as their second language.
But some enthusiasm, even the odd outburst of Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailedness is good. Even welcome.
And if there is one word that best describes Joe Smith to me, it'd be 'enthusiasm' (the good kind). There's one instance that comes to mind, where he had to get us rank-and-file enthused.
I mean, there are many ways to rally the troops, as it were. You could stand up and spout off an endless series of speeches that, while perhaps entertaining to some, don't exactly inspire. You could send out craftily worded emails with clever clipart; which would entertain a number of people, maybe not for the reasons intended, and it too would fail to inspire.
Or you could, if you had the moxie and, dare I say, gumption for it, don a super hero outfit, have a comic made of you, and call yourself Captain Positive! That, I'd put to you, inspires far more enthusiasm than anything else.
I didn't even see his transformation in person. I only heard about it, read the comic, and saw pictures. But, even one degree of separation from such a gutsy display of enthusiasm, I was impressed. How could you not be? It's pretty much the definition of 'giving 110%'. It's all the staid corporate phrases broken down and made into something real and applicable -- in the form of ill-fitting spandex and a motorcycle helmet, I'll grant you -- but pretty darn neat, all the same.
And now that he's off, possibly back to the land of Oil and Cow, he's leaving us with that image, that burned-in-the-retina image of a administrator hell-bent on getting, and giving the best to his staff. A man with no compunction for ceremony. A man charged with a hefty dose of enthusiasm. A real Captain Positive!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This is actually a picture of an internet friend of mine, Chris B.
Er. e-friend. Someone I met online. You know, there's no way to phrase that that won't make you stand up and holler at the screen "YOU ARE A GIGANTIC NERD". So I'm going to stop trying to make it normal, because damnit, I'm not, not very, anyways.
Oh shit, I should've gone with penpal. There's nothing creepy about penpals. Damnit.
Onto the picture.
My dad was big into candid shots. He'd sorta stalk his kids, us jumping off the couch or trying to suffocate each other or throw small, blunt objects at each other with surprising regularity. He'd hold this Canon point and shoot by his leg, all spy like. And then, snap. We'd all go "aww maaan" like this was the most worstest thing he could do.
Of course, years later, some of those pictures are pretty priceless. One of me playing 'Submarine Captain' in the toilet comes to mind. Legs fully in, half crouched in the toilet, turning around to look at a camera that has spot me before I 'dive', presumably. I have to salute my dad for not actually rushing to take me out of a teeming mess of fecal coliform bacteria and possible drowning. For not first thinking "my god, if he slips, and hits his head...". Nonono, the first thought that came to his head was, "Camera.. where's my camera?". This picture was the source of untold mirth and retelling for my parents.
Anyhoo, that's been my thing with my kids, candids. I love candids. They are stupidly hard to take and you end up shooting 400 shots before 1 even makes you go, 'meh'. But when you can capture that essence, that unguarded moment of just 'being', damn, there's nothing better. I've seen a lot of candids, my dad pretty much took candids exclusively.
So believe me when I say this candid of Chris B has got to be one of the bestest candid shots I've seen. Lots of awesome stuff going on.
The car, for one. It's some sorta 70's behemoth made from 120% American Steel that gets slightly better gas mileage than an Abrams. That steering wheel looks like it's aimed at Chris' head, so if he ever got in accident, the non-flexing, kinetic-energy transfering 120% steel car frame could direct all it's violence upon his head, taking it clear off. No months of rehab, tragic paralysis for him, thanks.
The passenger seat is filled with a drum. Not a girlfriend. Not his little brother who needs to be taken to a viola recital. A damn drum. So you know that trunk (that could probably take a small Olympic-sized pool) has the rest of the band setup stuffed in there.
I'm pretty sure there isn't a seat-belt on that monster. Or if it is, it's a glorified rope with a buckle. I'm positive that if put on correctly, it would in no way impede the progress of your head smashing into the steering column. It's probably only good for trapping you in your seat should you go over a bridge, or pinning you just long enough for the engine fire to engulf you.
And then there's the subject. He's got that great look of someone who's never, ever going to die. The culmination of perhaps 4 years of high-school band perfected into a garage-rocker extraordinnaire. There's something so carefree about him. Maybe its the fact that he looks about 15, or the brave attempt at a moustache, or the longish hair that proclaims to the world that 'He doesn't need your corporate job, man'. Maybe it's that so in-the-moment glance of "I'm listening, hurry the fuck up". Or the feeling that he could either be listening to his mother asking him to 'please pick up some eggs on the way home', or his buddy about 'how you still owe me twenty bucks for the Mary Jane'.
That picture is like a timeless capture of the invincible, innocent, limitless youth.
Don't know if it's better than the Submarine Captain.