Thursday, September 25, 2003

Special Guest Blagh: Susan Shyluk

Blahg reader Susan Shyluk responded to my David Bowie blahg, and has kindly given me permission to post her comments here:

"Hi Earl,
I have been a bit behind in reading your blog, and I finally caught up. I  really enjoy reading it, you have been doing some really great writing.

When I read about how you attended the Bowie concert I thought of  something I would like to share with you. You mentioned that most of these  gatherings are almost always motivated by a desire for money, so I wanted to share with you one I know of that isn't. Where I work we have a room where hospitals, schools and communities can teleconference in groups. Areas all over BC are connected with each other for educational sessions available for staff, and as you may suspect it costs our hospital money for everyone to

Just recently some doctors have made a wonderful donation of personal conference time to isolated patients. The hospital I work at is a centre for maternity care in the province. We often have pregnant women who are on bedrest for months. Some are separated from their families for the entire time because they live so far away from Vancouver. Because of the donation, we are able to arrange for these women to go on a stretcher to the  conference room and live connect with their families who in turn have gone  to a similar conference room close to home.

Every day I learn about something like this I am in awe how significantly  things are changing. This last weekend I attended a youth conference (I fit  the age category of under 35 by 23 days) and I am pleased to see that the  new generation has taken this is stride. It makes me wonder if humanity is  heading towards the dream that Gene Roddenberry expressed in Star Trek.

Keep on blahgging! Susan."

Thanks, Susan. I found your story quite uplifting; I'm glad you shared it.

Susan's husband Jeff notes that SF author and visionary futurist Arthur C. Clarke should be mentioned, since it was he that originally came up with the idea of communications satellites, a technology without which Bowie's simulcast would have been impossible. So hats off to Sir Arthur, and to everyone who dreams of a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Plans from Outer Space

Edward D. Wood, Jr. has long been reviled as the worst director of all time. But for several years now, I've investigated Wood's films and his strange, twisted life - and I have come to the shocking conclusion that Wood was, in fact, a documentary filmmaker. Glen or Glenda was an accurate portrayal of the director's obsession with angora sweaters; Bride of the Monster, a revealing look at the dangers of atomic power; and his masterpiece, Plan 9 from Outer Space, an expose disguised as a grade-z science fiction film.

As documented in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the unknown humanoid aliens from beyond planned an insidious attack upon our own dearly departed. As the alien Ruler said,

"Plan 9 deals with the resurrection of the dead. Long-distance
electrodes shot into the pinion pituitary glands of recent dead."

Fortunately, brave men of Earth put a stop to this plan, but not before a half-dozen innocent souls fell victim to the aliens' diabolical scheme. But what of Plans 1-8? Until now, the teeming masses of man remained blissfully - but dangerously - ignorant. At last, it can be told - the shocking TRUE FACTS behind the plans that came BEFORE Plan 9...

Plan 1 from Outer Space: Invasion of the Sex Changers (1934)

The Ruler: "Plan 1 involves our agrarian division. Mass planting of our homeworld's gyno beans, planted all over plantations in the continent known as North America. Switching the genders of the people of earth, sundering their sense of self."

The plan failed when alien agents Penos and Shava forgot to take into account the common earth locust, which ate all the gyno bean crops before human beings were even aware of the threat. Endemic drought also contributed to the failure of the plan.

Plan 2 from Outer Space: Carpet Bombing (1936)

The Ruler: "Plan 2, unlike plan 1, cannot fail, for it renders the very sun of this pitiful Earth planet helpless, by means of eliminating the nutrient-rich sun-rays which give life to this pitiful planet Earth."

The plan misfired when alien fiends Gendo and Flebulge surrounded Earth's sun with actual carpet instead of the asbestos sheeting they were supposed to use. The carpet burned, and the "pitiful" inhabitants of earth noticed no ill effects.

Plan 3 from Outer Space: The Sounds of Silence (1937)

The Ruler: "Plans 1 and 2 were flawed because they failed to take into account the strange and special properties of this sun-system, with its yellow star and green-blue third world. But Plan 3, which involves sonic bombardment of Earth from beyond the orbit of their pitiful Moon, will shake, rattle and roll the humans into suffering, shell-shocked submission."

The plan failed when alien Chief Designer Designate Erko forgot that sound waves, no matter how powerful, cannot travel through the airless medium of space. There were no human casualties.

Plan 4 from Outer Space: Bubble Gumfight (1941)

The Ruler: "Plans 1, 2 and 3 failed due to the resistance of those stubborn humans, their mettle greater than even our cleverest Space Generals anticipated. But Plan 4, with its focus on impressionable teens, will send these simple Solarians into a frenzy of begging for our mercy, which we will not offer. According to your Plan 4 plans, this chewy substance called chewing gum, filled with our powerful mind-control drugs, will sour their teenage minds on authority and bring their pitiful national governments to their knees, leaving them ripe for invasion."

Plan 4 went awry when the aliens added their "mind control drug" to the nation's bubblegum supply. Unfortunately for the aliens, human beings consume sugar without ill effect - save to their teeth.

Plan 5 from Outer Space: Time Slaves (1943)

The Ruler: "Plans 1, 2, 3 and 4 failed - but Plan 5 is truly infallilble, relying as it does on the humans' own innate savagery. With the new Atomic Time Hole, we can enslave Earth's mightiest warriors, flinging fearsome Roman Legions, bloodthirsty Zulu armies, and crazed Mongol hordes against Earth's defences. Not even the cleverest Earth generals of 1943 can hope to stand fast against our time-lost zombie battallions!"

Plan 5 was the best plan yet, but the aliens, in their ignorance of Earth history, failed to take into account the technological disparities involved when pitting Roman legions, Mongol hordes, and Zulu armies against the sophisticated war machines of the Axis and Allied powers. The invading forces, armed only with swords and spears, were promptly cut to ribbons by machine-guns, bazookas, and torpedoes wherever they appeared.

Plan 6 from Outer Space: Rain of Terror (1950)

The Ruler: "Ah yes, Plan 6 - at last, a foolproof plan, wherein we superior space-men at last bring the foolish, primitive Earth-men under our heel. We shall seed their stratocumulus cloud layer, which protects the humans from ultraviolet radiation, with Atomic Dust, which will force the clouds to lose altitude and break up into deadly sheets of radioactive rain."

Plan 6 was foiled in the testing stages by a group of precocious teens, though three residents of West Armpit, Nebraska, including the county sherrif, were burned into radioactive ash by the alien weapon.

Plan 7 from Outer Space: Pornographic Priestesses (1953)

The Ruler: "Although our last six plans failed, Plan 7 - and I note that the humans consider 7 a lucky number - is a guaranteed success. For this time, we depend upon the very weaknesses of the very Earthlings we seek to conquer. The human procreative drive is the most powerful in the known galaxy, and our seductive "sleeper" agents will seduce Earth's most powerful men into precarious positions from which they are vulnerable to our black-hearted blackmail."

Plan 7 failed because Earth politicians, long masters of adultery, were proficient at escaping the grip of seductive slatterns and gorgeous gigolos.

Plan 8 from Outer Space: Strength in Numbers (1957)

The Ruler: "Plans 1 through 7 all met with failure, not because the humans are inherently superior, but because we have grown too proud. There is strength in numbers, and by calling upon others who have cause to conquer this irritating world, we will surely triumph. Prepare conference by Electro-Atom Video Phone Screen."

Plan 8, while perhaps the most ambitious of the alien plans, failed when our would-be alien conquerors tried fruitlessly for years to contact Ming the Merciless, Guidance Ro-Man, and the brain from planet Arous, unaware that these supposed arch-enemies of man were in fact fictional human creations.

By 1959, the aliens were discouraged, but no less determined to put an end to humanity, a species they saw as a menace to galactic civilization. The visionary Ed Wood fearlessly documented this plan, and perhaps because of the exposure, the aliens retreated, seemingly defeated. But were all of the aliens truly destroyed, as depicted at the end of Wood's documentary? It seems unlikely. While decades have passed since the failure of Plan 9, it seems prudent to keep watching the skies, for our fearsome foes may put the next plan into motion when we least expect it. Ed Wood knew the power of persistence, and so too must we, dear readers, be tirelessly vigilant in our defence of this green and noble world. Are you prepared to face the shocking facts about...Plan 10 from Outer Space?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Cuts Like a Bowie Knife

My brother and I went to the Silver City Imax last night to see the David Bowie interactive concert. Not only did Bowie and the band put on a great set, but the man was quite charming and funny during the Q&A that followed. It was quite neat; Bowie and a moderator sat in a studio in New York while audience questions were transmitted from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janiero. There were a few technical glitches, including some bizarre audio looping when Paul, the guy in our Edmonton audience chosen to speak to Bowie, asked his question. Bowie looked a little confused, and no wonder - Paul's voice was echoing back and forth, along with the laughter of our audience when the problem became apparent. Trippy. But he was a trooper and answered the question ("Do you enjoy working in the studio more, or performing live?") with candour.

I couldn't help but ruminate on the phenomenon; fifty thousand people from half a dozen countries, linked via technology in mutual appreciation of a talented artist. I felt something close to elation when I considered the possibilities, tempered by the understanding that such gatherings are almost always motivated by a desire for money. I can't fault Bowie for that - I've always respected his talent, and he doesn't seem to be in it for the cash - but it's still somewhat sobering.

And yet, I can just imagine giant town hall meetings, people from North and South coming together to hash out the inequities between rich and poor, formulating plans to take back this planet from the robber barons and the scoundrels.

One day.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Mister Tambourine Man

By the way, I do not, in fact, own a copy of William Shatner's masterpiece "The Transformed Man," but one day I will indeed have a copy...MISTER TAMBOURINE MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!

Special Guest Blogger: Alex Zukowsky

Alex Zukowsky of Edmonton amuses his coworkers by sending Top Ten lists via his work email account, and he's graciously provided a new Top Ten list especially for Bleak House of Blahgs readers. Thanks, Alex!

Top Ten Perks to Owning Your Own Website

10. The money
9. Always have the last word in every argument
8. When pulled over for speeding can get out of ticket by flashing your "web designer" badge
7. Can work on website wearing nothing more then a smile
6. Al Gore personally calls you up to apologize for his "invented the internet" claim
5. The women
4. With pasty white "indoor only" skin you do a great imitation of Michael Jackson
3. Free Dilbert calendar for every 1000 site visitors
2. Ability to explain purchase of William Shatner's 1968 "The Transformed Man" album as work related

and the Number One Perk to Owning Your Own Website...

1. Can misspell word like "Blahs" and come off looking like a genius

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Victory is Mine

At last, after sixteen arduous games of Scrabble, I've tied Sylvia. We each have eight wins apiece.

I'm back at work and the pace is frenetic...

There's a mosquito in the apartment!!!!! :-O