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Friday, June 30, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Ice Cold Eyes of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.

Leaked excerpt from the Nowhikipedia, 2051 edition. 

The Nemesis Order: Western Hemisphere Exo-Rational Empire, or N.O.W.H.E.R.E., was a secret cabal of criminals and terrorists dedicated to the overthrow of the western democracies in the early-to-mid 21st century. In 2024, their underwater base in the YUKON RIVER near DAWSON CITY was destroyed by forces as yet unknown, killing N.O.W.H.E.R.E. North Region Chief DAWN SABATINO and an estimated 750 N.O.W.H.E.R.E. AUXILIARY TACTICAL ORDNANCE, MOBILE (A.T.O.M.) troopers. However, this setback did not put an end to the organization, as revealed in The Earl of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to Run, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to Hide, The Challenge from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., et. al.. SEE ALSO C.H.A.O.S., JELLY BALLS, LEAF RAPIDS, PINE, Madison, O.R.D.E.R., SAVAGE, Trinity, X-WAVES, Z-DUST. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Fan of Fans

Here's another thing I liked about Rockin' Robyn's: these cool double-bladed ceiling fans. They're the first thing Sylvia noticed. Is this the sort of thing I could buy and install at home? Because they're pretty neat. I also like the way the owners have mounted a Diamonds are Forever poster on the ceiling. Also, a double-bladed fan might make a cunning trap for Bond. Bond would defeat the gimmick in some way, of course, and quip:

"I'm not your biggest fan"


"I had to blow them off"


"It was a breeze"


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rockin' Robyn's Review

Last week Sean informed me of the existence of Rockin' Robyn's a 50s-themed breakfast/lunch diner located right in Edmonton's west end, not far away from where Sylvia and I live. We stopped in for a late lunch today, and we were both impressed by the evocative decor and the excellent food.

Sylvia chowed down on very well-prepared bacon and eggs with toast and fruit, while I tried out their signature burger, with cheddar, bacon, and hand-cut fries. Everything was excellent, though the portion sizes were too large for us to finish in one sitting. But that's not so much a bug as a feature, since we'll be enjoying leftovers tomorrow.

Rockin' Robyn's also serves homemade pie; we each took home a slice for dessert later. I don't know what Sylvia thought of her apple pie, but my chocolate cream was light, fluffy, and rich.

The only drawback? This cozy little diner is only open from 7-4, which means it'll be a Saturday/Sunday only sort of place for us. But then, you probably shouldn't eat out more than once a week anyway, right? 

I'm Not Batman

Sweets for Twin Peaks

Friday, June 23, 2017

Seafall Atoll

I'm terrible at this game, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. I particularly enjoy the ability to personalize most aspects of the adventure. Here, Mike has named an atoll he discovered "No Brains Atoll." Nyuck nyuck. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Words That Leap Off the Page

It's subtle, but this old copy of Berserker's Planet by Fred Saberhagen has a weird printing error on the first line of this page; the sentence starts to angle upwards as it proceeds to the right, as if attempting to leap off the page. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Grand Illusions

I've often expressed my gratitude for the invention of the Internet. It gives voice to so many talented creators who might otherwise have toiled in obscurity.

Grand Illusions is a YouTube channel in which a distinguished British fellow named Tim demonstrates the operation of a variety of marvellous old toys. It's an utterly charming channel that never fails to evoke feelings of warmth and serenity in me. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thompson Peaks

I find it kind of hard to believe I didn't think of this back in 1990, but better late than never. For those who don't recognize the background, it's a photo I took of Pisew Falls back in 2009, near Thompson, Manitoba. Thompson would be a great place for a Canadian version of Twin Peaks, although Leaf Rapids would be even better...but "Leaf Rapids Peaks" doesn't sound right. Actually, I guess "Leaf Rapids" works as a title on its own...I'm rambling, I'll stop. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Frog's Dream

Ribbbit. Ribbbit. In the spirit of Jeff's Ungood Art, here's even Ungooder Art. I was attempting something other than this, and it all went wrong. So I present...The Frog's Dream. Digital image manipulation, 2017. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dad and Granddad

For Father's Day, it seems appropriate to look back and see Dad with his Dad, back sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Today Dad looks a lot like his father did back then! Sadly, Sean and I never got to meet Granddad, but at least there are some photos. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Suicide Squash

When the garden was threatened
When blight and pestilence loomed
When netting and fences weren't enough
There came a hero
He called himself Zebediah Zucchini
To his friends, he was Zeb
But the world would know him as


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

That Damn Rock

Like thunder it cracked when it landed--
The birds launched themselves away, wings aflutter
The deer leaped into headlong flight
And a fisherman, baiting a hook, shouted
When he jerked in surprise and impaled his left index finger
While the wriggling minnow danced away to freedom in the turbulent river
Only to be swallowed up by a passing Grizzly
Who ignored the rude meteorite completely

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


The machine stops
Just short of the beckoning reeds
Inside a man watches the gentle waters
Polish the helpless stone to nothingness
It takes a mere 10,000 years
And then, curiosity satisfied,
He drives away, tires kicking up
The sun-blasted desert sands

Monday, June 12, 2017


The dead things gather at the shore
Bleached white
A warning
To those who would follow
In the stone footprints of the damned

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Regaling Frequencies Open

Last night I was surprised by a FaceTime call from my old friend Steven Neumann, who dialed me in to briefly join a celebration of our mutual friend Jeff's 50th birthday. I was quite touched to be included in the celebrations at a distance, and watched as Susan lit Jeff's big 50-shaped sparklers. It was quite a festive conflagration!

Inspired by the call, early this morning I celebrated Jeff's birthday in my own way, with a silly email based on some shared in-jokes that go back over a quarter century...which means that Jeff and I have known each other for longer than we hadn't known each other--rather a sobering thought.

Here's the story, which will make little sense to anyone except for Jeff, his wife Susan, her brother Steven, and my wife, Sylvia, who you may spot in this story as thinly-disguised analogues of themselves. And after you read the story, be sure to visit Jeff's blog and buy some art!

*  *  *

Captain Wolverine's knuckles, white with fury, clung to the jewel-encrusted arms of his command throne. No other hint of turmoil crossed his Saturnine features. Coolly, he swiveled the throne to face his elegant yet disdainful - one would almost say insubordinate - communications officer, red-skirted, blonde-beehived, Lieutenant Feral.

"Repeat that last, Lieutenant!" barked Wolverine. It came out as a dare. Feral rolled her eyes.

"There's an incoming transmission from the U.S.S. Encounter," she said. "Admiral Woods has a message for you."

Resigning himself, Captain Wolverine turned his throne to face the bridge's main viewer.

"Put him on," he sighed.

The screen flickered from a starfield to the rakish, dashing visage of Admiral Woods himself, who was currently leaning forward in his own command chair, one eyebrow raised, his slash of a mouth forming an insouciant grin.

"Captain Wolverine," he said. "I hear congratulations are in order."

"Yes," Wolverine replied casually, leaning back in his chair, crossing his legs insolently. "You speak of course of our successful first contact with the Sequential Analog Loving Intellect Validator mark 8 machine culture. Really, the credit goes to my Chief Medical Officer, Commander Steadfast, and her brother, our Science Officer, Commander Ice. They're the ones who..."

"I wasn't actually talking about the SALIV-8 matter, though of course it was quite an accomplishment. No, I brought you something. Transporter room, beam over the package."

In the space just above Captain Wolverine's lap, a swirl of matter suddenly coalesced into a small paperback book, which plopped gently onto his crossed legs.

"What's this?" Wolverine wondered, opening the book to a random page. "'There no doubt existed computer dossiers in half a dozen capitals on the sexual tastes and proclivities of Jonathan Emeric Anderson. Whoever had selected Charla Boyd knew exactly what they were doing; she looked as if she had been literally materialized out of Jack's own sexual fantasies...'"

Wolverine put the book down and looked askance at the Admiral. "Message, Woods?"

The Admiral shrugged innocently. "None that I am aware of, except of course...happy birthday."

Wolverine grimaced. "How did you find out?"

"Well, I could be mysterious and say something like 'It's my business to know," but to be honest your wife and brother-in-law ratted you out."

Wolverine threw an annoyed glare at Steadfast and Ice. Steadfast responded by leaning in behind the command throne and gnawing on Wolverine's throat, while Ice chuckled dryly (his nickname was, in fact, "Dry Ice.").

"You run a tight ship, Captain Wolverine," Woods mocked gently and somewhat hypocritically, being no paragon of discipline himself. "Report to Starbase 50 immediately for R&R, and by the way, I'm poaching Lieutenant Feral from you; her transfer to my command will take effect as soon as you dock."

Feral rolled her eyes again. "It's not real, Earl."

Woods shook his fists over his head theatrically. "I'm doing a bit, Monkey! Also, down with metanarrative."

"I hate when you do this," Wolverine said.

"I wonder," Woods replied. "Anyway, happy birthday, and may you enjoy many more to come."

"Channel closed," Feral reported. "Can we wrap up this story so I can put on some real clothes and get out of these dumb pajamas?"

"Set course for Starbase 50," Wolverine said, making finger-guns at the viewscreen. Alexander Courage's trumpet fanfare rolled across the bow as the ship banked to port, credits superimposed over the VFX before the image faded to black. 

Friday, June 09, 2017

Cherry ZigZag Gum Ad Rough Sketch

This afternoon, it occurred to me that the gum mentioned in Twin Peaks a quarter-century ago hasn't yet been identified. I thought perhaps the universe of Twin Peaks might contain a very special brand of gum: Cherry ZigZag, the gum that makes kids say, "Wow, Bob, Wow!" The gum itself would be white with dark red cherry zigzags, much like the floor of the Red Room in the Black Lodge.

I quickly sketched a rough draft of what an ad for the gum might look like. Sometime in the next few days, I'll work up a real design in Photoshop. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Cat and Kevin Bacon

"Someday," thought Kevin Bacon as he acted his heart out in a key scene of Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984), "This'll play on TV and some damn cat is going to be sleeping over my head."

Seconds after that thought made its way through Bacon's mind, the director called "Cut!" and waved his arms over his head. "More energy!"

That damn cat, Bacon thought.

Years later, Alex the cat leaped onto the television of a perfectly average suburban home and basked in the warmth of electron-sizzled Bacon. 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

This restaurant - seen here sometime in the mid-1990s - sits at the south end of the High Level Bridge, near the University of Alberta campus. Sometime in 1990 or 1991, I went for supper there, along with Carrie Humphrey and perhaps some combination of Paul Allen, Tony Longworth, Ron Briscoe, Steven Neumann, Susan Neumann, Andrea MacLeod, Jeff Shyluk, Allan Sampson and Jim Sandercock: the core, in other words, of the University of Alberta Star Trek club, as it was in the all too brief months before I earned my degree.

The only thing I really remember about that evening out was that Carrie flung ice cubes at one of us and missed, striking another diner. Sheepish apologies were handed out and the breach was forgiven.

I'm not sure why that memory has stuck with me, when I'd much rather remember what we might have been talking and laughing about. Cruel, cruel entropy.  

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

A Tiger at the James Farm, 1972

Our family has some slides labelled "James Farm 1972." Here's a scan of one of those slides, in which we see a tiger behind some chain-link fencing. A Google search using various combinations of "James Farm," "zoo," "animals," and "Canada" produced no results that seem to match.

Does anyone out there remember a "James Farm" that put exotic animals on display in the early 1970s? I don't believe this was Al Oeming's Alberta Game Farm; I have slides of that, too, and it doesn't look like the same place.

Poor sad tiger. 

Monday, June 05, 2017

Divinity at the Dump

On Saturday, Sylvia and I paid a visit to Edmonton's state-of-the-art waste reclamation facility, AKA "the dump." I know it's not really a dump, but I suppose I've been conditioned to think of it that way; it's the place where you dump things.

After our journey, Sylvia remarked how satisfying she found the trip. We both felt that way; dropping off a carload of cardboard, old electronics, our malfunctioning sump pump, and assorted household waste too awkward for the curb gave us a strange secular-spiritual lift, a materialist cleansing. Out with the old, the vanquished, the spent; give us room to breathe again.

Obviously it was just a trip to the dump. But I find it reassuring that both Sylvia and I take so much simple pleasure in it. 

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Lord British's Folly

Powder kegs
Stored in unsafe places
Next to the kitchen
On the staircase
Behind the fireplace
And yet Lord British does nothing