Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Geek Dojo Master Supreme Excellence of Happy Pop Culture Time Celebrates 40 Years Pineapple Show

Earlier this month, we celebrated Stephen Fitzpatrick’s 40th birthday. Since I’ve known Stephen for over 20 years now, this seems an opportune time to offer tribute.

I’ve known Steve since high school. We met, to the best of my recollection, while serving on Student Council; I was the Grade 10 Representative, and I believe he was the Vice-President…I’m sure Steve will step in to correct me. I liked Stephen right from the start, even though we weren’t much alike on the surface; he was outgoing where I was introspective, he was tall and I was short, he seemed like the least neurotic person I’d ever met, while I felt like I was drowning in teenage angst every moment. Steve was a breath of fresh air.

Stephen Fitzpatrick and Earl J. Woods, back row, right.

Stephen is a very gregarious guy, one of the most fun and fun-loving people I’ve ever met. When Stephen discovers something he loves, he shares it with his friends. And I’ve benefited from that generosity from the beginning. Steve’s impulse to share introduced me to a wide variety of important pop culture touchstones. Steve has long been on the cutting edge of this stuff; without his guidance, I might not have become the geek I am today. Stephen introduced me to...
Moonlighting. It was quite possibly the best television drama/comedy of the 1980s, with terrific writing, inventive direction, and the most engaging leads ever to grace the screen. This was smart TV, and helped me fall in love with the medium.

Crisis on Infinite Earths. I was at that age when I thought that I’d grown too old for comics, but Steve told me that I had to check this out – they’d killed the Flash! And Supergirl! I thought he was nuts – superheroes didn’t die. At the very least, they didn’t stay dead. But Steve drove me up to a comic shop in Edmonton – I don’t recall the name, only that it belonged to a guy named Jim – and I caught up on the Crisis, got hooked on the reimagining of Superman, and collected comics for the next twenty years or so, before I finally realized I was spending more on the hobby than I was paying in rent. My pocketbook may not be too happy with Stephen, but I’m grateful for the endless hours of entertainment.

Science fiction conventions. I knew they existed, but I’d never been to one until Steve drove a group of us down to Con-Version II in Calgary. There’s something very liberating about dressing up like a fool and trading obscure inside jokes while racing from panel discussions to the dealers’ tables to the movie room, all while enduring the befuddled stares of less addled folk. Steve and I even shared a costuming prize one year – he was a Klingon accountant, I was the Starfleet officer tasked to deal with him.

Stephen Fitzpatrick in cosume as...I'm not sure what.

Stephen as a dog soldier, I think, second from left

New tabletop roleplaying games. To wit, the Star Trek RPG (naturally) and Villains & Vigilantes. Villains and Vigilantes was a great game, with a novel conceit: you played yourself, but with super-powers. We had a blast uprooting telephone poles to use as clubs, foiling bank robbers, and surviving nuclear catastrophe.

John Carpenter Movies. Stephen introduced me to John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China – two very different, but equally awesome films. The first is one of the most bleak and chilling SF/horror pictures ever made, while the second is one of my favourite comedies. John Carpenter’s filmography is pretty uneven, but these are masterpieces of the genre, and I’m grateful Steve brought the director to my attention.

So with all that preamble out of the way, let’s enjoy a few pictures of the party. Here’s to your first 40 years, Stephen!

Stephen is sure to enjoy this fine bottle of...cat's piss?

The "Hawaii Four-Oh" theme encouraged loud partying and loud shirts.

Even though fire, alcohol, tools and skipping ropes were all present at the party, Jeff managed not to hurt himself.

Colin, Audrey and Scott look on as Stephen delivers a rousing speech (edited for content and length)

I liked the indoor palm tree, so Stephen was kind enough to take this photo of Sylvia and me.

Pete hammers a coconut, presumably so he can put a lime in it.

Mike sculpts. From the expression on his face, I'm not sure I want to know what horrors he hopes to coax from the clay.

Heather and Jeff, just because it's a nice picture. Except for the branch sticking out of Jeff's head...I'd like to pretend that Jeff merely had another accident, but in this case it's just my bad composition.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pinnacle of Evolution

Earl J. Woods at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Drumheller; May 31, 1987. Photo by Jeff Crozier.
While looking through photo albums for another project, I found this gem. I'm not sure what I was doing...complaining about the heat, perhaps? This was taken on a school field trip to the Tyrell Museum in Drumheller. Timely, since Friday's Edmonton Journal noted that some creationists are building an alternative, anti-evolution museum in Big Valley. Come to think of it, this image would serve nicely as my reaction shot when I heard the news...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Woods World of Sports: Flowerpot Throw

Earl J. Woods begins his spin for Backyard Games glory. It looks good...

The centripetal forces are shocking - will Woods' body collapse under the strain?

AND THE THROW! Up...up...and Away! Look at that form!

OHHHH! INTO THE TREES! A horrifying miscalculation.

Next, Sean Woods makes his bid for glory:

The release...angle looks a little strange...wait...wait...


OHHHHHHHHHH! DIRT CLUMPS EVERYWHERE...the throw is short...but good enough to assure the younger Woods of victory!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Woods World of Sports

Welcome to the Woods World of Sports, where wacky Woods brothers wage the Battle of the Back Yard, beginning here in the front yard with the Flowerbed Jump. Sean Woods clears the tulip field with ease.

Earl Woods is up next, clearing the treacherous tulips with grace and panache. This event: a tie!
Next event: the fiendish Net Toss. Contestants must escape the net, tossed by Saskatchewan Bob. Sean begins his run.
The net is in the air - can Sean evade?

Up, up...
...and away! Sean escapes.
Earl's out of the starting gate with a measured yet powerful stride. Will it be enough?

A precision throw! But Earl's lightning speed may yet win the day.

The crowd gasps in suspense - they've never seen an event like this!

Ladies and gentlemen, just a moment - it looks like - wait - wait -

Yes! Yes! Ladies and gentlemen, Earl J. Woods has been snared! Sean Woods takes a dramatic 1-0 lead! But up next - the flowerpot throw!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Zenith of Comic Art: Tiger Girl

How I wish people would talk like this in real life. From Tiger Girl #1.

Television! Astounding new development of modern super-science! When grownups in spandex pajamas clash - television is there!
Wolf Hound - not just a D-level supervillain, but an unheralded sexual icon.

You're right about one thing, Tiger Girl - there's certainly something kinky about all this.

In a comic book, is it easier to qualify for the giggling academy, or police academy?

Comic books - not just entertainment, but the medium for social progress.