Entries from March 2002

Old = Good

Ask anyone who knows me at all and they'll confirm it as true: I like old things. My style of dress could be called "1950's Texaco gas station attendant", my musical tastes tend to skew south of 1982 (and further), and most of my favorite films were made by directors that none of the movie-going hoi polloi considers relevant anymore.

So it was with predictable glee that I discovered the Web site Reel Radio. Reel Radio catalogues and streams hundreds of "air checks", which were seemingly random tapings of radio programming to ensure proper signal transmission.

Reel Radio's collection spans decades of "Top 40" radio, however, and some of them last hours, and include music, advertising, on-air interviews, and DJ banter. The coolest thing (for me, at least) are the air checks from the 50's and 60's, ads and all. Nostalgia is king.

ManzanarOther "old" things I'm presently enjoying includes a moving collection of Ansel Adams photographs, entitled "Suffering under a Great Injustice", taken from the Japanese-American internment camp at Manzanar, 1943. Adam's legendary usage of photographic contrast is put to amazing use here; a historical and artistic treasure.

(Update: just found the master list of the entire photographic catalogue contained in the Library of Congress. Methinks I'm going to be spending a lot of time here...)

Finally, something fun: the dMarie Time Capsule. Songs on the charts the day I was born: Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel, I'll Be There by the Jackson Five, and I think I Love You by the mighty Partridge Family.

I wonder if one can tell their fortune from the songs that were hits when they were born. I'd like to get my "charts" done. Arg arg arg. Okay, enough already.

60’s British Pop Culture

Yeah, baby, yeah! My Brit-obsessed friend Trev would giggle with glee with this site, a virtual compendium of 60's British Pop culture. There's the usual suspects (band lists, movies, TV), and also some rather unusual pieces, like the section entitled, "Digger's MIDI Juke box".

Unfortunately, the site is godawful-ugly (I mean, who in their right mind uses the excretable Comic MS Sans as a body text font?)... but there's so much to look at here the aesthetic deficiencies can be overlooked.

(I know, I know - the last few posts have been pretty lightweight. I'm busy, dammit!)

Jerry Falwell is an idiot

Yeah, you knew this already… but this transcript proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. If I were Christian, I’d kick this guy out of my organized religion faster than you could say, “fat dumb ass”.

Shout outs, lots of links, and travel babbling

I'm coming out East next week for a very well-deserved holiday. I'm very much looking forward to visiting with old friends in Toronto, and getting reacquainted with my favorite city in North America, Montreal.

bagelMontreal is one of those cities that has pretty well everything I could ask for in a city: amazing food (bagels, stupidly cheap pizza slices, great coffee, massive, delectable sandwiches, and if you're into it, smoked meat), beautiful, well-dressed folks, stunning architecture, beaucoup de français partout, and that beautiful joie de vivre of the French.

Needless to say, I can't wait. I'm looking forward to seeing my Toronto friends, too, and visit some of my old haunts. And big city transit! God, I can't wait to get back to a city that doesn't punish those of us who refuse to drive. Winnipeg is a city where anything worth seeing is almost always a healthy bus ride away. Frankly, you're also considered a bit of a dolt if you're still riding the bus after you turn 16 here, too... which makes me the Machiavellian Prince of Idiots for not only still taking the bus at 31, but also being the proud non-owner of a driver's license.

Of course, considering the fact that I'm allergic to alcohol, my friends always complain that I should get my license... being the perfect designated driver and all. But, I live to frustrate.

Anyway. Babbling tonight. Eyes like lead curtains. G'night.

P.S. (Keeping the dying art of the postscript alive.) I came to the realization a couple of days ago that I completely missed Chinese New Year's. How the hell does someone completely forget about a holiday their family (nay, their race!) makes such a huge deal about? I think I'm working too much.


(some of these come better late than never. I am such a link slacker):

Salutations to the freshly baked, bloggy goodliness of Twisty Pants; squeeky clean design, with just a bit of salt for bite. || Another spotless Weblog belongs to fellow Canuck Dani. || Check out Lisa's photography, stay for the well-written blog. || While you're blog jumping, don't forget to pay Sarah a visit. She lives in Edinburgh - a place I've never been, but Renée lived there for a while and swears it's a bit of heaven.

This is my brain on coffee

brainCoffeeThis weekend is brought to you by the letter "J", the number "42", and the Sheep header Kaldi. Goddamn, do I love a good cup of coffee...

There's nothing that says 'relaxing weekend' to me more than brewing a gigantic pot of coffee, cozying up with the cats on the couch, and tackling the books-to-be-read pile. Ahhh.



So things are goings to be a bit wonky for the next couple of days. Some weiner hacked into the server that the BeatnikPad lives on and destroyed everything. I had a backup, but only up until the end of January.

As far as this journal is now concerned, February 2002 never happened.

Please bear with me as I reconstruct what I can from google's cache and other sources. And if you should ever overhear a snot-nosed punk kid bragging about trashing someone's server, kick him in the groin as hard as you can.

Moral of this story: Just because your provider says, "We do backups!" doesn't mean that you don't have to. Blech.

Some updates

Okay, my anger has subsided (rising! fading...), and the sense of panic has receeded somewhat. I lost the original (plus it was pretty damn stale) so I whipped together a new FAQs page. It's not really questions, and none of the have been frequently asked, but there you go.

Places to look to find posts that were deleted: First place to check is the Google cache. Do a search on your URL and see what is cached; you might get lucky. Secondly, take a look at Daypop, the blog / News search engine. I found the last four posts cached there. Any other suggestions, anyone? (That is, besides just saying, "Ah, to hell with it!" and letting the dead posts stay dead.)

What a shame: the wonderful Stimpsoft, creator of some really great freeware Mac OS software, has decided to pack it in.

"I need to explore new things. I'm not going to remove any of my software for downloading, but I am no longer developing freeware or supporting any of my old applications."

I can't believe it's been six months already. My brother taped 9|11; I couldn't watch it even if I wanted to. The sight of those buildings crumbling makes me feel ill.

Bums, Bleach, and Black & White

The job that buried the stake in my increasingly wavering faith in humanity has to have been my sojourn as a photographic printer. My specialty at the lab was E-6 (a.k.a. "slides"), as well as some colour and black & white. Some of the more ancient-looking photos that grace this Web site are from that period in my life.

Camera GuyThe very first thing you learn about working in a photo lab is that photo lab technicians are generally a weird, cagey bunch. I think it has something to do with spending the whole day breathing in photo lab chemicals. I was shocked one day to note, while mixing up a big vat of nostril-hair burning photographic bleach, that the package I was holding in my right hand proudly noted: "Tested on animals."

I never figured out if we were the animals the label referred to. Judging from the burnt-out brain cells of a couple of my co-workers, it won't surprise me.

The job had its benefits, however. My darkroom mate was a big, eminently friendly francophone named Paul, obsessed with pop culture, art, and cocktail music. We used to close the darkroom door (thus signalling that we were printing, so no one could just walk in) and I would take two-hour epic naps to the strains of Arthur Lyman's Yellow Bird. We would then get into heated discussions on the execrable qualities of Feliz Navidad (I hated it; he was crazy for it), and what foreign film was playing at the local Cinematheque.

The point where slack turned to sickness was when I started to realize that people - large tracts of seemingly normal, boring people - often dropped off photos of themselves either getting or giving some pretty rude stuff. It started, like everything always does, innocently with a roll here and there of some rather poor quality amateur boudoir photography. Giggle, giggle.

MotoButtIt wasn't until the fiftieth roll had eased its way out of my printing machine that I started to wonder, "Does the entire female world over 35 want to have their photo taken in poorly constructed lingere?" You could also tell men took the bulk of the photos, as there was an unusually high incidence of nude housewives posing while sprawled on top of vehicles; cars, motorcycles, scooters, power boats (!), and so on.

I knew I had a problem when I walked by a woman while grocery shopping in the neighbourhood and thought, "Wait a minute, I know her from somewh-... ew."

Then there was at least a three week running theme of insertions. Cucumbers, zucchini, carrots... if it was an edible vegetable you can bet someone tried to stick it somewhere, and then document it for all eternity.

"Look, honey, Remember when you stuck that yellow squash up my ass? Ha, ha, ha - those were the days, weren't they?"

Without allowing this entry to devolve into a poor excuse for a Penthouse Forum's letter, it should be said that sexual perversion (at least the photographed kind) seemingly moves in cycles. Leather, denim, and whips. Edible oil products. Plain ol' fashion missionary style. Gay sex. Straight sex. Painful looking sex. Men hanging things off of their, um, members. Lots of photos of women baring their breasts to the world. Slides of US Customs agents, er, "practicing" their inspection techniques on each other, with big, corn-fed smiles on their faces. Really.

What made it all seem even sicker was that there were many people in the "industry" who kept gigantic photo albums of the more choice material.

I begged my friends not to drop any film off at any place that used our lab for printing services. I quit when my warnings were not heeded.

The Magic Camera

Beautiful ChairThis is what photography is all about: happy accidents, freak transformations, and capturing a view of the world never seen before.

Farrell Eaves calls it his magic camera. It takes the darnedest pictures. Sometimes it creates pastel auras or adds symmetrical streaks the color of rainbows. Sometimes drips or blobs of color will magically appear that change a well-composed snapshot into art.

Very cool.

Travelin’ Light

StewardessesWell, I'm off in eight hours for nine days of rest, relaxation, and mangling of Canada's second official language. Toronto, with its beautiful friends, detached cool, unending visual suprises, and wily bloggers... and Montréal, with its unending joie de vivre, gorgeous architecture, beguiling history, and kick-ass food. I am going to enjoy myself.

So, posts may be on the slim side for the next little while. I'm going to attempt to stay away from anything resembling a computer. Who am I kidding? Hope all is warm bathes, back rubs, and uncontrollable giggles... I'll miss you.


I'm back, with the lights of Montréal's Rue de St. Denis and the faces of my incredibly beautiful friends still glistening in my eyes. My creative battery is also feeling replenished and revitalized; expect travel photos, stories, and other such dazzlements soon.

27 Things I Did on my Vacation

  1. Read a lot of this and this.
  2. Indulged in rampant relaxation.
  3. Listened to a bunch of grown men talk about wrestling: "... and then he opened up a can of whoop-ass on him. Wow!"
  4. Drank more coffee than is legally allowed.
  5. Bagels! Bagels! Bagels!
  6. Easily avoided a computer for nearly all of my vacation. (see #2)
  7. Listened (and spoke, sort of) to oodles of French and Italian. Felt inadequate. Started planning to take more language courses.
  8. Luxuriated in the gorgeous, history-soaked bliss of Francophone Canada.
  9. Got snowed on a lot. Colourful language ensued.
  10. Met my friend's parents and brother, who treated me to incredible food, wonderful hospitality, and a good, warm pair of winter boots.
  11. Learned that kids can be fascinating, amazing, and incredibly fun to be around. Who knew?
  12. Laughed my ass off, spoke in hushed, serious tones, babbled endlessly, and felt the warmth of connection.
  13. Purchased some amazing music.
  14. Finally succumbed to some rather strident digital camera urges. Expect rampant narcissism soon.
  15. Had a dream about a man named Joe, a red chef's hat, and gigantic slabs of beef.
  16. Watched a rather scattered but artful (whatever that means) Shakespearean adaptation.
  17. Listened to the endearing sounds of a child singing Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck.
  18. Ate sushi with a guy from La Broquerie. And liked it.
  19. Had a streetperson call me "Gramps".
  20. Scoured the city for some of my favorite pants (aka "old man pants" - see above).
  21. Skipped breakfast and went directly to brunch.
  22. Realized that I left my toothbrush and toothpaste back home.
  23. Avoided any signs of encroaching boredom and party-poopiness.
  24. Got hit on by a man wearing a gigantic doily.
  25. Didn't once think about what Gwyneth was wearing.
  26. Instantly started missing my beautiful friends upon my return.
  27. Came back to reality: 915 new e-mail messages.

Reaching New Heights of Pretension

I'm trying out a bit of an experiment, which could prove rather embarrassing to my sense of self-esteem if people hate it. I've revamped and expanded the writing area to make room for different styles of writing besides the old articles I've written.

My goal: to write something new once a week, whether it's some short fiction, verse and/or poetry (oh-oh), or a longer non-fiction piece. Definitely let me know if it blows chunks, will you?

Sliding down the Disinclination

I've been feeling pretty lame the last few days, mainly because I'm wrestling with a ravenous bout of disinclination. Being on holidays for a week and a half can do that to a person. I'm also missing my Central Canada cronies already, but as one of them has reminded me many times, I am a suck. A nostalgic, sentimental, simpering suck.

The disconnect a person feels when they visit a city they once lived in is always strange. The entire time I was staying at my friend's place, I kept thinking, "Well! Time to go home" as if I could just jump a streetcar and head back to my old apartment.

I have no idea who's living there now, but I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate a shabby stranger poking around their cleaning supplies and using their washroom.

Then again, moving back to my home city was a very unsettling experience, also. Everything is exaclty where I left it, but everyone has changed so much. It's amazing what four years can do to a person; fatter, rounder, balder, more wrinkled, more distance. I barely know anyone here now; a city filled with familiar buildings and complete strangers.

Le Musée Mecanique

MecaniqueOne of my favorite places in the entire world has been given a second chance. The Musée Mecanique, a gigantic, endlessly fascinating collection of vintange coin-operated machines (most dating back to the turn of the century) located in San Francisco will stay open.

I almost spent more time just at the Cliff House, where the museum is located, than anywhere else in my trips to San Francisco. Looking forward to going back for another visit.

Billy Wilder dies

First Dudley Moore, then Milton Berle, and now Billy Wilder has passed away. Seeing as how Some Like It Hot is one of my favorite comedies of all time, this is pretty sad.


I was trying to figure out where all of the German visitors were coming from and now I know. Tag, und wie geht es Ihnen to all of the BeatnikPad's German visitors, courtesy of the swankily named Bloghaus, and specifically contributor Claus.

My German isn't very good, but I should clear up one thing mentioned by the Bloghaus crew: I only used to live in Toronto. There's a lot of interesting Weblogs out of Hogtown (go hang with the GTA Bloggers for an evening if you don't believe me), but the BeatnikPad isn't one of them.

That is, not any more: this here be a Prairie blog you're soaking in, steeped in Western Canadian golden sunshine, hail-like snowstorms, and american-built automobiles.

Killing the Biggest Myth in Web Design

Some thoughts about the Web:

"But how long must we infantilize the very people we're building sites for? Why must we make these blanket judgements about the way all users read, based on the dimmest bulbs in the pack? Can we not acknowledge that the web is now a pretty big place, and generalizing about user behavior is pretty sketchy? Where is the room to say, if I treat my readers like adults, perhaps they're more likely to act like adults?"

Ahem, brother.

He has Barry White in him

One thing about the Web that I've found consistently fascinating is how we fill in the gaps. We can come to learn incredibly personal things about a person via their blog or journal, but still have absolutely no idea of what something as truly intimate as their voice really sounds like.

I don't know if you do this, but when I'm reading someone's site, I get an approximation completely make up in my head a guess of what their voice might sound like. It helps make the experience of reading that person's writing that much more fraternal and conjoining, even though it's a total fantasy extrapolated from: their writing style; the design of the site; the usage of the third voice; abuse of the words "buttcrack" or "fart"; a trillion sundry things. At any rate, it is, in a way, very similar to what we do when we read books and imagine aspects of a certain character's appearance. I like to fill in the gaps.

So it was with a rather bemused smile that I realized that Jeffrey's voice, a voice I'd imagined countless times when visiting his site, was exactly as I imagined it would be. (RealAudio stream, courtesy of the {fray} cafe 2.)

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