Tuesday, April 28, 2020

One Point Six Three Million

I haven't looked at the analytics of this blog for a long time. Google changed something so that they now pop up right away when I start a new post. To my surprise, apparently The Earliad has gathered 1.63 million views since its inception. That seems like a lot to me, but maybe it's par for the course for blogs; I really have no idea. And apparently, only a small fraction of the views are from bots, at least if I'm reading the more detailed analytics correctly (certainly an open question).

Maybe even more pleasing is that people have generated almost 3,700 comments over the years, and I've only posted a little over 4,000 times. What can I say except that I'm baffled and grateful? 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Crisis on Infinite Budgets


YouTube creator UltraSargent has assembled a really fine-looking trailer that asks the question "What might result if someone adapted Crisis on Infinite Earths with an unlimited budget?" Lots of fun easter eggs for DC fans. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

DS9 in 4K


Here is a truly stunning 4K fan-made trailer for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's fifth season. It's very unlikely CBS will ever fund an HD restoration of the show, but oh my, these fans really know how to show just how awesome such a remastering could be. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Before COVID

Here's a nice image of Sylvia's parents in Mom and Dad's back yard from a few years back. I know it's only been six weeks since much of the world went into self isolation, but scenes like this already seem like they belong to another era. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Yet More Gaming in the Time of Corona

Tonight Sean and I squared off across the virtual crokinole and Formula De tables; Sean beat me handily at each game. These tools really do help make being isolated a little more bearable. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Vacuum in Vegas

Tonight I discovered that at least one and a half days' worth of photos are missing not only from my primary hard drive, but all three backup drives plus my cloud storage. In a situation like this, you might be tempted to imagine that the photos in question never existed, but thanks to my blog and Facebook, I know the photos were taken and, once upon a time, stored in the right place on my hard drive(s).

I know that I'm missing December 26, 2011, because that was the day Sylvia and I toured Fremont Street in Las Vegas. I remember shooting many photos on Fremont Street, including three that still exist on my blog or on Facebook: two of Sylvia posing with an Elvis impersonator, and one of Sylvia and I posing in front of a Christmas tree on Fremont Street.

I'm also missing all the photos of the Hoover Dam I shot on January 1, 2012 - but not the photos of the Grand Canyon I shot later that same day. I can almost see a complete folder disappearing, but I cannot understand a folder remaining in place, but all the photos of one subject disappearing from it.

My only hope of recovering these images is to check and see if I was still making CD backups at the time. I did this for several years, until I figured that an original and three backups plus the cloud was probably enough security.

Evidently not.

I'm unreasonably upset about this. Sure I'll be dead in three or four decades (if I'm lucky) and no one but me is interested anyway, but my photos are really important to me and to have part of a significant life experience go missing is really quite depressing. Not to mention infuriating, considering the lengths I go to to back up all my digital files.

Oh well. Entropy always wins anyhow.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

More Gaming in the Time of Corona

From Vancouver Island to Ottawa, a bunch of my friends gathered in virtual space to test ourselves against the tyranny of dragons. So far, we've managed to kill a bunch of kobolds and cultists without being burned alive or otherwise slain, though my stalwart barbarian is starting to look a little frayed around the edges. Personal highlight: skewering two kobolds with a thrown javelin. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Dale Lynch and the Fate of Cthulhu

Tonight I participated in a one-off Fate of Cthulhu adventure with some work friends. It was the first time I've used the Fate roleplaying system, which emphasizes storytelling over tactical combat. Fun stuff. See if you can spot all the influences I used to build my character. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Gaming in the Time of Corona

Most of the lads gathered tonight via Steam and Google Hangouts to play a round of Formula De, a G&G staple. Right now, I'm in second-last place. If we can't game in person, by golly we'll use technology.

Hey! I wound up winning! But really only because Jeff, Mike, and Colin crashed out and did not finish. Still, a win is a win!
Now we're trying out crokinole.

UPDATE: Colin triumphed!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Many Years Later...

...wait a minute, just what were those owls, anyway? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Quick Takes: Angel and the Badman

There's a lot to love about Republic B-western Angel and the Badman (James Edward Grant, 1947). John Wayne delivers a pretty nuanced and more likeable than usual performance, and he's part of a sincere love story with the charming Gail Russell, part of a delightfully wholesome Quaker family Wayne's character takes refuge with after a gunfight. Their romance has real stakes and believable twists and turns, and their happy ending feels earned. Both the Quaker religion and atheism are treated as valuable and respectable viewpoints.

What impressed me most viscerally, though, was a third-act stunt that actually made me gasp in shock and feel genuine fear for the characters onscreen and the stunt people who performed the feat. Physical responses like that are rare for me; it was a real, if scary, pleasure to be surprised by a such a superbly-crafted, hair-raising stunt.

SPOILERS for the stunt:




Wayne and Russell are driving a horse-drawn wagon next to a canyon, trying to get away from some pursuing bad guys. Without warning, the horses break free of the wagon, and in one unbroken shot, the wagon goes out of control and plunges off a cliff, wagon and riders plummeting perhaps 70 or 80 feet into the river below. The stunt is executed so seamlessly that the director and editor made the wise decision to show the whole thing uncut the most crucial part of the stunt in just a couple of cuts to really show off the drama and excitement generated by what looks to have been a pretty dark risky stunt. Amazing stuff.

*Corrected after a second look prompted by Mike.  

Monday, April 13, 2020

Trouble at Infochammel?


Looks like Infochammel is having some issues with their latest feat of techno-wizardry, but I'm confident that they'll overcome, as they always do, delivering quality info 24/7/365/11,000 years. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The O'Neal Connection

WARNING: SPOILERS for LOVE STORY and WHAT'S UP, DOC? 



Late last year, as part of my ongoing quest to see every Motion Picture Academy Best Picture nominee, I screened Arthur Hiller's Love Story (1970), starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw as the two young lovers in question.

Love Story, sad to say, is not a great film; it's certainly one of the weakest Best Picture nominees. The story itself is trite and the dialogue overwrought; the cinematography and direction is workmanlike. These days, the movie is probably most remembered for its infamous tagline, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," delivered to O'Neal by MacGraw's tragically doomed character during the tearful final act.

Enough said about Love Story. Last week, I watched the far better What's Up, Doc?, Peter Bogdanovich's 1973 take on 1930s romantic slapstick. That movie is great fun, and stars O'Neal as a nerdy scientist pursued by an amorous Barbara Streisand. There's a mixup involving secret documents, diamonds, rocks, and lingerie, each stored in one of four identical suitcases. Hijinks ensue, including a really terrific chase sequence in the third act.

Most satisfying for me, though, was getting to enjoy what must have been a beautiful treat for in-the-know moviegoers of the early 1970s: At the film's conclusion, when O'Neal and Streisand's characters finally hook up and all the romantic tension is happily resolved, O'Neal's character apologizes to his new girlfriend.

"Don't worry about it," Streisand replies. "Don't you know that love means never having to say you're sorry?"

O'Neal, with perfect delivery, sneers and says "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard." The end.

It's a silly little in-joke, yes, but it must have earned some great laughs back in the day. It certainly got one from me, nearly fifty years later.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

The New Nuclear Nightmare

Since the mid 1970s, I've experienced a number of recurring nightmares that cycle through time. One of those is my first nuclear nightmare, in which, to sum up briefly, I lead a column of friends and relatives through the forests near Leaf Rapids to a high cliff representing safety from atomic holocaust. I alone reach the summit, and safety, as the bombs go off, and watch in horror as the throng I led is vaporized.

That dream was bad enough, and probably worse, in truth, than the new nuclear nightmare I experienced last night. But this new nightmare still haunts me in its temporal proximity, and I'm just now getting over the physical illness left in its wake.

In the dream, I'm walking east down the Leduc avenue that leads home. Around the time I reach the block where East Elementary sits, a hydrogen bomb goes off behind me, perhaps 20 kilometres away. I turn to watch a gigantic black mushroom cloud rise to the heavens. Then, an instant later, another bomb goes off, this time about 20 kilometres due east, producing a second mushroom cloud of the same horrific magnitude.

I know I don't have time to run for the safety of Mom's house, so instead I dash toward East Elementary, only to be hit by a wave of ash and darkness so black I have to feel my way to the door. Once there, I hammer on it desperately with my fists and Mom opens up, ushering me inside; she'd been volunteering at the school.

I run to the gym to shower, scrubbing away all the fallout, and then I join Mom at a meeting in one of the classrooms. The desks are all full, but with adults scratching notes about survival plans.

A day passes. Pete and Mike are in the school, and I encounter them in a hallway. Stupidly, I ask them if they saw the bombs yesterday; of course they did. I try to check my phone for news, but it's been contaminated by an endless series of popup ads that refuse to go away even if I power off the phone and reboot. Suddenly, we hear rockets flying overhead, and impossible as it seems, we speculate that the two nukes going off here in Alberta must have somehow triggered a global war. I realize that my old high school friend Daryle Tilroe set off the first two bombs as an experiment, and now the world will pay the price. I realize I'll never see Sylvia again, or Sean, or any of my other loved ones.

When I woke up this morning, my head was pounding and I leapt out of bed. Sylvia was already awake.

"Is this the real world?" I asked. "Is this real? I can't believe this is real. Are we alive?"

I went to the bathroom and managed to avoid vomiting, though I was covered in sweat.  It took some time for me to accept this reality over the one I'd just endured.

I went back to bed and passed out, sleeping until noon. I still had a massive headache. Sylvia found a Tylenol for me. I felt hot most of the day. We watched a couple of movies in the late afternoon, and then I passed out again, sleeping until 7:30.

Only now am I starting to feel a little better, and that this might be the real world. I sure hope it is, even with COVID-19. Some disasters are survivable; the one I experienced earlier today wasn't one of them. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Sylvia and the Furby

Ah, the soulless stare of the robotic Furby; meet its eyes and you gaze into the abyss as the abyss gazes into thee. Sylvia's expression takes on a someone crazed aspect here thanks to her proximity to the demonic toy. 

Thursday, April 09, 2020

A Welcome Distraction


Late last night, my PC started to trill unexpectedly. It took me a moment to realize that I was being invited to a Google Hangouts meeting that included several of my best friends. Those same friends are attempting to overcome the logistical and technical hurdles of organizing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign networked across three time zones, and last night was their valiant attempt to get me hooked in. Theoretically, using Google Hangouts is pretty simple, but for whatever reason, despite the loan of a solid camera from Pete and Mike remoting into my computer to lend his technical expertise, we could not get audio and video to work consistently for me--until I plugged in my headset, which somehow miraculously activated the camera and allowed everyone else to see (and hear) me. We already knew the camera was active, as it was displaying me at my desk, but somehow adding the headset (which does not include a camera) triggered some software magic to make me visible to everyone, and them to me.

So it looks like the system works, if in a rather strange way. I was rather touched by the outreach and the trouble everyone went to, and I can't wait for the start of the campaign! 

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Hard Candy

Hard candy was never my favourite treat, but the colours are certainly festive. Hard candy feels like the echo of ancient relatives - great aunts and great uncles, grandparents in farmhouses, quarters handed out by wrinkled hands on green lawns with golden fields of wheat and sunflowers in the distance. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The Slurp That Satisfies

Coke plus Orange Crush=Ultimate Slurpee Combo. 

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Barbara and Earl

Thanks once again to my cousin David Newton, here's another blast from the past: a photo of me sitting on the lap of David's sister Barbara, who recently retired from her nursing career. 

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Birthday at a Distance

It's Sean's birthday today, so Sylvia and I drove to his apartment to drop off his present, a peanut buster parfait, and some hand-me-down blu-rays. Only a few weeks ago there were plans for us to meet Mom in Devon to celebrate at a restaurant owned by one of Sean's friends, but, well...it'll be a while before that happens, given COVID-19.
Happy Quarantined Birthday, Sean! 

Friday, April 03, 2020

Earl and Darwin II

It's still 1971, and Darwin Jones (right) and I are captured here sampling goodies during the 40th wedding anniversary celebration of our maternal grandparents. Once again, this photo was scanned by our mutual cousin David Newton. 

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Earl and Darwin, 1971

Thanks to my cousin David Newton, who scanned this image of me putting a funnel on the head of our mutual cousin Darwin Jones. 1971. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Caught with Packages

Sylvia often teases me about the number of packages I receive from Amazon and other online retailers. From my point of view she exaggerates, but she certainly caught me red-handed a couple of weeks ago.