Saturday, August 30, 2003
( 10:27 AM ) by David Barker
Funniest Thing From The Watergun Party! How Could I Not Blog This?!
Okay, so Michael - a 13 year old Monty Python And the Holy Grail fan - is in the upstairs bathroom window overlooking the backyard, trying to bomb people with water balloons. People are trying to get him with their waterguns.
He looks down at me and shouts "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"
I laughed my guts out.
Fine lad, my young friend Michael.
Friday, August 29, 2003
( 10:14 AM ) by David Barker
Stupid Stupid Rules! Well, Okay, Stupid If I Can't Get Away With Breaking Them
(Coming back to this post a few hours later to add 'I don't normally do anything this impulsive or, in the Santa Claus sense, naughty. I swear.')
TorCon3 is this weekend. An earlier post here told how I volunteered. Well, I wasn't a paid up member, and my evil caught up with me. I did manage to help out on Wednesday setting for the Art Show on the second level of Toronto's Convention Centre.
I had originally been assigned to help unload stuff for the Consuite in Toronto's Royal York Hotel, a classic structure, once the tallest building in Canada, and even the British Empire - maybe Commonwealth. I went to the hotel but there was only one lone soul there, a young fellow named Ori. Turns out he's Israeli, got bailed on by his friends back home who were supposed to come but didn't, and, while he's been at a few other cons in the States, he's never volunteered before. Interesting guy, among other things he teaches D&D to kids and tries to slip in culture and stuff.
So Ori and I waited for our contact, who apparently had gotten busy elsewhere, and we ended up going over to the volunteer centre at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is connected directly to the above mentioned convention centre, a technology we learned from the English, I believe, even if the Americans take credit for it in old movies with Raymond Massey (a Canadian, I might add). Then back to the Royal York to search and wait again, then back to the Crowne Plaza.
Finally Ori and I, among others, started helping set up the racks for the art show. It mostly involved sitting there doing repetitive piece work which I shall not here describe, so we could talk all we wanted. Ori was telling me interesting stuff about Israel, his New Jersey-like Tel Aviv home suburb, Israeli television good points and bad, his American con adventures, and so on.
We worked for a few hours, talked to some interesting people, mostly American, and then went to a nearby food court (Simcoe Place - I'm sick of putting helpful links in here, look it up yourself...), where I found that someone had given me an Italian 50 lire piece as a Canadian quarter (of a dollar, 25 cents) and Ori mentioned he had a few Israeli coins, which I have never seen before. They were kinda cool, one of them looks like a smaller version of our loonie (the one dollar coin, replaced the one dollar bill a few years ago, cf the toonie, the two dollar coin), they have interesting symbols on them, and at least one of them had Arabic script as well as Hebrew. And one had what looked like some ancient eastern Mediterranean script too, although I'm not sure.
So Ori got assigned guard duty for the next day, not letting people in without their official hologrammed pass and decoder ring. He said he had a PhD in guard duty. A guy in the volunteer office said 'wha...?' and I said 'Israeli army.' Everyone was suitably impressed and I imagine Ori gets a great deal of respect down there...
I said I'd go back to the Royal York and get assigned something at the Consuite.
So the next day, Thursday, ("yesterday", local time - Ori was slightly jetlagged, only I can't remember if he was tomorrow, yesterday, or had time travelled, or what...) I went down to try and bravely persevere in my well-intentioned con of the con, and got busted in about three minutes. 'No paid up registration, no volunteering. Bad local. Bad.'
It was fun while it lasted. I definitely should get a job and start going to more of these things.
(I made up the part about the decoder ring.)
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
( 9:24 AM ) by David Barker
John Honderich, Publisher Of The Toronto Star, What The Hell Are You Thinking?
There's a lot of things I could be asking you that question about, but there's one thing particularly current and relevant that's sandpapering my sweetspot just about now!
It's Interplanetary Mars Day in the Solar System. Humans from Mercury out to the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud are celebrating the opposition of Earth and Mars. Common knowledge.
The Toronto Star, quite rightly puts it on the front page (albeit down in the corner) and continues it on page A7. There's full colour charts and diagrams, a cool (but way too small) picture of Mars (from Hubble? Maybe the same as on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day today). There's a box with bits about Mars movies (Mars Attacks -with pic, etc), literature (Gulliver's Travels, Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc) and visual arts (classical paintings and stuff).
Then, and this is the kicker, on the right side of the page is about a third of a column in the middle of the page entitled "Planetary drama will change the zodiac forever" by PHIL BOOTH, STAR "ASTROLOGER" - my sarcastic double quotes. And the further hell of it is, this little article - the whole thing - is bolded. Pardon my French but qu'est-ce que le fuck?
You wanna know why we have computer viruses, SARS, forest fires, blackouts and heatwaves? Well, I'll tell ya right now! It's Mars, that's Mars, with a capital M and that sounds like - um - and it rhymes with SARS! Right here in Sucker City, it's happening now. I say it's Mars, with a capital M and that's an upside down W and that stands for Wars and that looks like Mars.
Okay. Mars is real. The opposition is real. Horoscopes and astrology are a two busloads of horseshit that any shyster with a shingle, a smooth tongue and a cool eye can run a Harold Hill con with and get the town to buy like a big brass band. Well, here's the big fucking naked emperor in the bathwater; there ain't no big brass band.
I don't even have a problem with the picture from Mars Attacks. That's fiction and fun. Ack. Ack. But to put an article on this crap right along with the valid and interesting scientific information about the event is just stupid. Do ya hear me, Mr. Honderich? S-T-U-P-I-D. It's creating a false impression of validity and accuracy that is misleading. Misleading, did I say? It's out and out chicanery and charlatanism! You are tacitly perpetuating an ancient fraud, a con with such a pedigree that otherwise normal people fall for it, in fact might not even think about as harmful simply because of its ubiquity.
Oh, do I hear you say you believe the people ask for it? That you are being objective and inclusive, because some people do believe in it, and who knows, it might have some substance? Nope, doesn't work.
When you publish this type of thing you do two things. You create that false sense of validity I mentioned. And I hope you're reading carefully now, you are damaging the credibility of your whole publication.
I mean why should I take your reporting seriously on stuff like the Aylmer meat-packing story or anything purporting to be the truth about Zahra Kazemi's death, if you think that the astrological analysis of the Earth-Mars opposition is in any way comparable to the scientific facts about the situation?
It's just like the three most important things about real estate, only in this case it's credibility, credibility, credibility. You do know there's a supermarket tabloid with the same name as your paper, don't you?
And don't publish any more crap about how Immanuel Velikovsky got a bum rap either, because that's a whole other naked emperor.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
( 3:05 PM ) by David Barker
The Germans Don't Call It Freudenfreude, But I Do.
Check out my friend Debbie's recent posting about her nieces.
I like reading stories like this. When I do, as I've said before, but I don't think in this blog, I wish it was me but I'm glad it's them.
(A Day Later: Seems some people, maybe Germans, do call it Freudenfreude...)
Thursday, August 21, 2003
( 11:45 AM ) by David Barker
Project Gutenberg Is Going Broke I Ain't Mike and Goldie, But I'm Shilling Anyway
I subscribe to the update email for Blackmask, an online library that is constantly adding public domain books to its virtual stacks. Today, I got one and this is an excerpt (of an excerpt from a message by PG founder Michael Hart on the Book People Archive.)
"" Irony: As Project Gutenberg moves from 9,000 to 10,000 eBooks in the next 4 months, we only have 2 months' budget on hand. . .so right now it looks as if we will run out of money in October. . . .
This month my assistant and I are working with no salary. We might get paid later, if things start looking up.
We are going to need people to interface with the MAJOR granting agencies to get a good run a million eBooks!!!
We should approach the Fortune 500, Computer 100, and the 500 wealthiest people, too.
Can YOU "help??? ""
Check it out and think about it seriously.
Thank you and God bless.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
( 11:43 AM ) by David Barker
Forgot Something About The Watergun Party. The Kids!
Stupid me. How could I forget to mention all my friends' cool kids that were there too?
There were siblings Gareth and Charlotte, wild childs and lotsa fun. Gareth just got his deep-end bracelet from his swimming program and seemed to be quite proud of it.
There were brothers Daniel and Ross. Daniel got into the pool fun, the whirlpool and cannonballs, but Ross, who's younger, not so much. Ross did have a cool Sue the T-Rex t-shirt that I liked.
Sisters Jennifer and Megan were there. Jennifer is pool-savvy, but Megan is way too young (born Sept 11, 2001, a much better anniversary to remember), although she did have fun trying to get into the pool down the ladder with her mum Gail.
Elspeth was there, but she wasn't as into the whole pool thing as the other children, but she's a friend and it's always nice to see her.
Jonathan was there and had his dad and me doing cannonballs right in front of him. He pushed his dad in once or twice.
Eric, Luisa's nephew, was there, but he's not really a kid anymore. Like me, however, he still knows how to act like one. As I must say, do most of the rest of the adult grownups that were there.
(John and Kristen's baby was there too, but he/she isn't actually due to join us in the outer world until November...)
And of course, there were my old friends, Michael and Ronnie, without whom the watergun party, and the pool part of it, wouldn't be the same.
If I missed anybody - I hope I didn't, but I'm old - somebody let me know and I'll put them in.
Next year will come too soon...
Monday, August 18, 2003
( 2:37 PM ) by David Barker
WTF? Yeah, I Said F.
The fearless simpletons at the Toronto Reference Library have posted a handwritten sign on the front door saying it will be closed until further notice. Not 'until Tuesday', or 'for one week'. Until further notice. It better be a friggin' crime scene.
They've always been a shower of dotty ditherers who mean well, but they just get happier and happier.
Their attempt to provide internet access was laughable - is laughable. The right mouse click is disabled on all the public machines in the library, even those not on their LAN and therefore not internet accessible. Their nanny filter blocks access to, among others, Live Ireland, an Irish music internet radio station. Machines sit broken or with frigged up software for months after being reported, and their IT guys have fun in the multimedia studio while people can't get connected.
The public library system wide IT team does not see fit to post occasional library closings on the branch's website or on the internal homepage the browsers (Netscape Navigator 4.7, if you can believe it...) default to when they're opened. Staff post laserprinted signs on the front door, but users aren't reminded when they open Netscape.
It looks for all the world that somebody's nephew was hired to set up the internet browsers, and probably doesn't know that LAN is an acronym and not a one syllable word, never mind that he/she/it has certain responsibilities to the regular users. It's called Information Technology for a reason, slick.
God, they're wretched.
[ A day later; yesterday in the paper it said that all public libraries are closed until further notice to conserve electricity! Again I say, WTF?]
Thursday, August 14, 2003
( 12:07 PM ) by David Barker
Feet First, Or Is It Head First?
Never been to a SF convention before Ad Astra in the spring, now I volunteered for TorCon, which is WorldCon this year, or something.
I have been assigned to the ConSuite, and will also be doing anything they ask. I don't know if the first just presumes the second, or what.
I'm sure I'll find out everything, including the jargon, the politics (aargh!), the personalities (hmm...), and so forth, et cetera.
Wish me luck.
Oh, yeah! I also volunteered for this December's big worldwide Tolkien hoohah, the Gathering of the Fellowship, to coincide with the release of "The Return of the King". But I haven't heard anything back yet.
Wish me luck.
Monday, August 11, 2003
( 9:34 AM ) by David Barker
Told You I Was Going To Enjoy Myself! Huzzah For Me And All My Friends!
Long story short, the Watergun Party had rocks in!
Wild watergun fun in the corner lot front yard! Then fun antics in the round in-ground pool! Including the ever-popular whirlpool, always a highlight of the annual - or annular - event.
The evil couple of Debbie "Evil Web-Goddess" Ohi and her evil henchhusband, Jeff "Big Fella, Ain't He? Evil, Too" Ridpath, totally got me with a digital camera, watergun and pail of ice cold water based practical joke. If, as they claimed, it was unplanned, then I must say 'Well done', if not somewhat evil.
To spare her bandwidth I won't post the URL to Debbie's pictures of the party, but I will say that besides capturing my reaction to the above mentioned evilness, she was able to use her digital camera to get some very nice shots in the pool, actually under the actual water!
To Reid and Luisa and Ronnie and Michael, thank you all very much for a great big wet blast of fun!!!
Saturday, August 09, 2003
( 11:52 AM ) by David Barker
The Watergun Party! Callooh-Callarty!
Today is Reid and Luisa's (and Ronnie's and Michael's, too) annual Watergun Party, the fifth, I think...somebody help me here. (I'm joking, no one reads this...)
Everyone runs around like a herd of maniacs (or whatever the collective noun is; a frantic? a bacchante?)
Luisa always sends out the invitation with a whole slew of highly sensible warnings; bring dry clothes, leave your moisture sensitive valuables inside, watch out for kids when you push somebody into the pool. I always laugh because she's writing these to adults. Not your father's adults!
It's always fun (and No, You Know Who You Are, I don't think everything's fun!) and they don't have to post a rain date, because rain is no consequence, although temperature is.
I shall enjoy myself. And you, whoever you are, and whatever you are going to do today, (unless it involves criminal acts or causing sorrow) do likewise.
Friday, August 08, 2003
( 2:49 PM ) by David Barker
Spirited Away By - You Guessed It - Spirited Away...
I just saw Hayao Miyazaki's exquisite movie on DVD at Tim and Anneli's. I bet you can guess that I liked it.
(And No, You Know Who You Are, I don't like everything!)
Suffice it say that when Sen (Chihiro) remembered Haku's real name and they were falling through the air, I nearly started to cry.
Thank you, Miyazaki-san.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
( 11:48 AM ) by David Barker
I've Got The Best Friends In The Whole World. My Friend Luisa Thinks She Does, But I Do.
Due to the buying and vacationing habits of two different families of friends, I have recently had access to extremely cool video libraries.
(Any more information and I violate their right to privacy. And with some people, it's a rite to privacy. But not these guys, I mean they let me into their homes!)
I saw, for the first time, on DVD, O Brother, Where Art Thou, by the Coen Brothers. Eeyikes! What an excellent film! What exquisite storytelling! What a hand with the dialogue! What a cast!
Then I saw Fight Club for the third time, but the second time was quite a while ago. The things you miss... And I watched the first part again, with the director's commentary. This should be mandatory.
(This is 'Tyler Durden' as the query string for the Wordsmith dot org service, the Advanced Anagram Server. Just a thought. A lost, wasted thought, but what the hell.)
Last night I watched the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Once More With Feeling. Joss Whedon is God. Not just a god. But God. You know, Y-hw-h. J-h-v-h. "I Am That I Am."
That's a joke. I am so close to an atheist that you might say (because I do) I'm an asymptotic agnostic. Joss Whedon is a storyteller of the finest school, someone who has mastered his medium, with little regard for the doldrums and storm seasons of ratings and sweeps weeks. I know he has to deal with the studios and censors, but, Jeepers Tap-Dancing Cripes, he has transcended his restrictions: "Nuns fret not".
You don't like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You don't know it. Click here.
Waiting for me right now is Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki and his posse at Studio Ghibli. I haven't seen it before so I can't wait.