Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Power of Editing

Here's a well-crafted video essay explaining how Star Wars' editors transformed a deeply flawed original cut into the blockbuster we remember. The section on the revised finale is particularly fascinating. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Black Mirror Season 4.5

Last night, I dreamed I was the involuntary viewer/protagonist of seven episodes of Black Mirror. An elevator served as the dream's framing device; I rode it up and down to different floors, and when I stepped onto a floor, its respective episode would begin.

I only remember two; one began with the elevator car suddenly losing its ceiling and walls, revealing pitch darkness all around. I dropped prone and clung to the remaining floor as the elevator plunged sideways and down, eventually flinging me into an ornate bedroom where it was revealed that my bride (not Sylvia) wasn't human; she peeled all her skin off and revealed a faceless mannequin beneath, the suddenly-revealed backstory revealing the ironic twist: my character had complained about robots dehumanizing marriage.

In the other episode I recall, I was joined in the elevator by an old colleague named Judy, back from my days at the Official Opposition. We chatted for a moment, and when the elevator doors opened, she vanished and I stepped out to meet at least a dozen Kevin Tafts (or would that be Kevins Taft?). Each Kevin had a different costume and role, and we appeared to be attending a very classy fundraiser for the Alberta Liberals, held in a swank hotel gilt in gold and diamond. Kevin welcomed me "back," (whatever that meant), and encouraged me to climb a makeshift ladder to the ceiling of the ballroom, a ladder made of sofas, love seats, and recliners stacked atop one another.

"Watch it--precarious," he warned. I begged off and retreated down a dark, candlelit corridor, which turned out to be a strangely-designed restaurant. I thought I saw some of my old caucus friends there, but the Black Mirror dead channel static ended the episode. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Letterboxd Crew Stat

I just discovered that Letterboxd has added a new category to user stats: Crew.
Just as it inventories your most-watched directors, stars, decades and so on, Letterboxd now reveals how many movies you've seen by producers, writers, editors and more. My all-time list is above. Pretty cool! 

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Glitch in the Matrix

Earlier today, over lunch, I was writing an email to Mike, Scott, and Sean. In the midst of composing my message, the Gmail client, as it is wont to do, revealed that there was a new message from Sean in the thread. I knew that Sean's reply might impact what I would have said, but for whatever reason I pressed forward, finished the email, and sent it...

...only to discover, after reading the refreshed thread, that Sean's reply was to the email I'd just composed. That is, he somehow answered my email before I'd sent it.

As a scientific materialist, I know of course that there's a rational explanation. Perhaps I'd sent a draft without realizing it, or perhaps I had a minor hallucination. Even so, it was a startling moment. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Kubros Worf

I built the door prize Paul Totman gave me on Brain Freeze night! A fearsome warrior indeed, destined for my desk at work. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Salt & Vinegar

Salt and vinegar
Always a winnegar
When you pour it over fries of French
Sour cream and onion
Good ointment for your bunions
When you're working hard digging out that trench

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

We Dropped it Off, Honest!

This is mildly interesting: a few days ago someone dropped off a package and emailed me a photo to prove they had indeed delivered it. I'm not sure if this is creepy or good customer service. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Unpainted Pakhet

This is Pakhet, a superheroine I designed for our Villains and Vigilantes campaign using Hero Forge. She's Egyptian, so I'm thinking the paint job will feature shades of blue, gold and tan. This is the second miniature I've designed using Hero Forge, and I must say I'm pretty happy with the results. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the details are very fine. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Great Moments in Misunderstanding

I visited Steve's place on Saturday for some gaming, and Steve generously allowed me access to his home wifi. But I had some trouble typing in the password (password changed to protect Steve's wifi):

STEVE: Okay, ready? Sierra, Tango, Alfa...
EARL (murmuring): S, i, e, r...whoa slow down, sorry.
STEVE (in disbelief): Are you...are you spelling that out? Dude, do you not understand the phonetic alphabet?

As if that wasn't embarrassing enough, Steve had his younger daughter Glory come downstairs for a challenge: to see which one of us could spell out my name using the phonetic alphabet faster.

She won. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

For the Want of a Thermocoupler

For the want of a thermocoupler
The hot water was lost
But luckily Sylvia's uncle knew what to do
And I just had a hot bath

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Topsy, Blackie, and Earl

Here's my maternal grandfather, Thomas Earl Etsell, directing horses Topsy (left) and her son Blackie (right) to haul a load of manure from the barn for spreading into the fields. This photo was taken (presumably by my grandmother, Mom, or one of her sisters) in 1958.

According to Mom, "Blackie was black when he was born! But as he aged, he turned into a dappled grey, and then as he became older, he became whiter."

Aunt Jean sent the photo along. Thanks, Aunt Jean! 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Brain Freeze 2018

I just returned from Edmonton's Corporate Challenge Brain Freeze, an annual trivia contest held at Schank's sports bar. Pete, Mike, Paul and I scored 69 out of a possible 100 points, good enough for a 15th place finish out of 52 teams. Respectable, but disappointing given our third place finish two or three years ago. The first place team wound up with 80 points, a very high score for this particular event (at least in my experience).

We performed very well in history and science, moderately well in the sports and "winter" categories, and surprisingly poorly (9 out of 20 possible points) in movies and television.

Thanks to Paul, though, Pete, Mike and I came away with fun little door prizes, and it's always nice to chat with the guys, so the evening was anything but a loss. Thanks for organizing this again, Mike! 

Monday, March 05, 2018

Monochrome Workstation

For a couple of years in the early 1990s, I moved back into Mom and Dad's basement. This is my computer station: an Atari ST computer with an Atari monochrome monitor and a Commodore 1702 colour monitor, an Atari 1200 baud modem for connecting to local Bulletin Board Systems, and a noisy dot-matrix printer. I still have most of the books in the bookcase, along with the second edition of the DC Heroes roleplaying game seen under the printer. Note the "Call for Submissions" ad taped to the wall just above the monitor; I wonder if I submitted anything. 

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Things I'd Like to Learn to Cook in the Cast Iron Frying Pot

  1. Fancy Breakfast
  2. Pancakes
  3. Fresh Fish
  4. Pizza
  5. Chili
  6. Taco Innards
  7. Cherry Pie
  8. Fancy Fried Chicken
  9. Healthy but Tasty Vegetable Stir-Fry
  10. Blackened Cajun Strips
  11. Chicken-Fried Steak
  12. Lemongrass Pork Chop
  13. Something from the Herbs & Edible Flowers book I wrote almost 20 years ago
  14. Fried Fruit Pizzazz
  15. Potato Pancakes
  16. Fried Pineapple Rings
  17. Onion Rings?
  18. Sweet and Sour Vegetable Medley
  19. Hot Buttered Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Spears
  20. Caramelized Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Rings?

Saturday, March 03, 2018

A Poem for Snow

Snow, snow, o woe! O woe!
Why won't you, why willn't you, why shouldn't you go?
Didn't I see you enough times up no'?
Why must you come when it's zero below?
Don't you know Christmas is long, long ago?
You've worn out your welcome, O snow, so go, go! 

Friday, March 02, 2018

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Extraterrestrial Globes

My colleague Ayesha has a handsome globe in her cubicle. I was admiring it the other day, and a thought struck me: wouldn't it be cool if you could buy high-quality globes not only of Earth, but of the alien worlds described in fantasy and science fiction? Here's a list of globes I'd love for the den:

  • Mars, as imagined by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Mars, as imagined by Ray Bradbury
  • Mars, as imagined by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Venus, as imagined by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Mongo, from the Flash Gordon comic strips
  • Earth, as imagined in the DC comics universe
  • Tatooine, from Star Wars
  • Hain, from The Dispossessed
  • Dune, from Dune
  • Trantor, from Foundation
  • Altair IV, from Forbidden Planet
  • Vulcan, from Star Trek
  • United Earth, from Star Trek
  • Caprica, from Battlestar Galactica
  • Solaris, from Solaris
  • Krypton, birthplace of Superman
  • Earth, as imagined by George Orwell
What worlds would you harbour in your home?