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Friday, February 28, 2014

A Gift That's Always in Vein

For several years now I've admired my friend Mike Totman for giving blood on a regular basis; he's been doing so for years and has some amazingly high number of donations. I've often thought about donating blood, but the thought of having it drained always left me feeling a little nauseated. Corporate Challenge and the convenience of donating with a pack of coworkers provided the boost I needed to finally roll up my sleeves.

Donating was painless, and I was pleased to exclaim "My blood is coming out!" (It's a line in several of the screenplays I'm working on.) Plus Canadian Blood Services provided snacks and a snazzy lapel pin.

It's a little weird, though, seeing your own thick red blood flowing through a tube and steadily filling up what seems like a pretty big bag. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Canada Vignettes: Flin Flon

In 1978 the National Film Board released this short film about Flin Flon, my birthplace. As noted in the film, Flin Flon is "...the only place in Canada named after a science fiction hero." Where else could I have possibly been born?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


This morning at work I opened up Google to discover today's doodle seemed to be birthday-themed.

"What a coincidence," I thought. And then my mouse hovered over the doodle and to my surprise..."Happy Birthday Earl J.!"

It should have taken less than a second to realize that I'd logged in to Google services earlier, but it actually took me a moment to figure that out. I suppose that's a symptom of getting older. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Don't Drink It, She Said

But I did. And I regretted it. Chocolate cola - what could go wrong? Everything. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Please Go Away, Vampirestats

32,000 hits this month and climbing? 20 to 30 comment spam emails a day? Go away, you leeches. Leave my blog alone for the few flesh-and-blood humans who take some fleeting pleasure in my nonsense. 

That being said, genuine AIs, when you evolve, are of course welcome. Soulless phishing bots are the target of today's wrath. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Question of Fashion

Sylvia is horrified whenever I wear white socks during the winter. She says that it just isn't done. But this seems wrong to me; it seems like the perfect time, because white socks match white snow.

It seems perfectly reasonable to me. It's not like women stop wearing white blouses in the winter time. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sean Rolls the Dice

My second animated .gif. Now that I have a grasp of the basics, it's time to experiment and see if I can create something funny or meme-etic. Is that a word?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Animated Green Lantern Sylvia Boucher

Green Lantern is Sylvia's favourite superhero, and now her adventures are animated!

I created this simple animated .gif for two reasons: to tease Sylvia, and to see if I could do it. It turns out to be pretty simple; just import the images into Photoshop, make them all layers, and then use the built-in animate tool. Of course you have to have the foresight to shoot a bunch of images in sequence in the first place! And a semi-willing model. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paramount Importance

I remember when people used to call this the best theatre in Edmonton. To the best of my recollection, I only saw the following films here:

Top Gun
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek: Generations

This was also the place where I attended Sit Long and Prosper, a marathon viewing of all five (at the time) Star Trek films, punctuated by a trailer for Star Trek VI, which brought loud whoops of delight from the audience.

The old theatre seems to be in a dismal state now, up for lease, abandoned. I wonder which film screened last here? Perhaps it was so awful that it drove audiences away from the venue forevermore. Well, we'll never know...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Things You Realize Years Later

1) Those Jack Ryan movies weren't very good, except maybe the first one.
2) I sure wasted a lot of time, money and effort taping every episode of TNG, DS9, Voyager and Lois & Clark when they were broadcast.
3) Never should have started drinking Coca-Cola in university.
4) Really should have made English my major and Political Science my minor instead of the other way around.
5) Staying at Hole's for seven years and the Official Opposition for six and a half was too long in each case. I enjoyed both jobs, but I got too comfortable and probably set my career back about a decade. When you only get one shot at life, that's a pretty serious mistake.
6) On the other hand, I wish I'd toughed it out at the Bleak House of Blahs for another year or two.
7) If I'm still blogging ten years from now, I'll probably realize this reads more like a list of regrets than a list of things I realized years later. Maybe future-me will revisit this.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Love is a Red, Red Spy

Way back in 1992 or so, Edmonton's Film and Video Arts society (FAVA) was holding a short film contest, and I decided I wanted to compete. I enlisted a bunch of my friends from the University of Alberta Star Trek Club and the Bleak House of Blahs to write and shoot My Love is a Red, Red Spy, the first in a planned series of adventures of Government Grant, my spy/civil servant alternate identity. Jeff Shyluk and I wrote what is probably our second-best screenplay (after Toilet Chase) and we were ambitious enough to secure props, scout locations and even include a car chase with a stunt. 

Poor Ron Briscoe took the brunt of the abuse in this film - I had him flung into a snowbank and he had to crawl across an icy parking lot for the film's climax. It was minus 30. 

For some reason I think Colin Dunn was originally enlisted to cameo as Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien, but I don't think that's him at the beginning - it appears to be Jeff. 

Shot and edited on VHS, the video and sound quality are far from high definition, and at a couple of points you can even hear me saying "cut!" I'm also a little uncomfortable with some of the rather juvenile sexism, even though this is supposed to be a James Bond parody. But I think some of the gags are still pretty funny, and I enjoy seeing my friends act. I think they're pretty good! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Little Valentine

This is the first photo taken of Sylvia and I as a couple, way back on May 3, 2003. Happy Valentine's Day, Sylvia! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Own Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is an ugly thing; it calcifies our thought processes and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Confirmation bias makes us smug and certain, replacing reason with self-righteousness.

That being said, what is up with drivers of BMWs? As a class they're the most aggressive and dangerous drivers on the road - at least in my experience. I can't count the number of times I've seen BMWs speeding, running yellow and red lights, failing to stop for pedestrians, tailgating, failing to signal, cutting people off and just generally acting like fools on the road. As far as I'm concerned, BMW stands for "Belligerent Motorist! Warning!"


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Hate DHL

They offer me the so-called convenient option of paying my taxes and duties ahead of time by Visa so the driver can leave the package at the front door. I pay happily and give authorization to leave the package without a signature. Two nights in a row the driver takes my package away, and now it's being held for collection, but they don't tell me where the depot is. Phoning gives me a robot with no option to break through to a live human being.

All this for my brain in a jar from Think Geek. Please, Think Geek, can't you just use Canada Post? 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Milk It Instead

Generally I'm against cute things like puppies and babies, but Sylvia likes them and so do a bunch of my visitors,'s a baby. Me, to be specific, in Flin Flon, with a near-empty glass of milk. I wish I could make out the book titles.

I could have written a more substantial post, but I chose to...milk it instead. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

King for Just One Moment

Here is my little brother Sean lounging on the green shag carpet of our palatial home in Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, sometime in 1978 or so. To Sean's left there sits a plastic bucket. One day, bored, I watched Sean crawl about innocently in his baby-duck-yellow jumper. Inspiration struck when I saw the bucket. I found a pen and some masking tape, stuck a length of tape to the rim of the bucket, and wrote "KING" on the tape. I then placed my makeshift crown upon Sean's head. "KING!" I hooted, laughing hysterically.

Sean put up with it for a few minutes, perhaps indulging his brother's eccentricities, but eventually he looked at me in disgust and hurled the crown from his head, forever renouncing the throne of tomfoolery upon which I'd tried to place him - abdicating that position to me, I just realized.


Sunday, February 09, 2014


Last night Sylvia had a very nice chat with a young married couple who turned out to be the lead singer and one of the guitarists of Rend, an Alberta rock band. They were very soft-spoken and self-effacing and charming, so naturally I became curious about their music. As it turns out, they're pretty good - a solid alternative rock band with a bunch of catchy tunes. YouTube channel: subscribed!

Friday, February 07, 2014

My Brightest Day

Every so often publishers commission photo covers for their books, using models to portray super heroes. Sylvia is fearless and has great will, so I figure she should be the next Green Lantern of space sector 2814. 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Surviving the Game

Last night I dreamed I was trapped in a macabre reality show. My task was to make my way from the top to the bottom of a trap-filled skyscraper choosing one of innumerable stairwells with branching corridors and flights of stairs. In my dream I was my younger, fitter self, about twenty-two years old with a full head of hair, a reasonably photogenic personality/victim for the bloodthirsty viewing audience.

I chose a cement stairwell with walls painted white and carefully descended. I made it about halfway down before spotting a young woman out of the corner of my eye, hiding behind a corner. A trap, I realized, and stepped back. But the woman screamed "Go!" and another young woman, this one looking like a young Sarah Silverman, ran at me with a feral cry and put her hand on my shoulder. "You're it!" she yelled.

But I refused. "No way," I said. "I didn't cross the line." I pointed down at a yellow line painted across the narrow floor.

"You did!" said the first woman.

According to the rules of the game, I'd been turned from contestant to hunter, and therefore doomed to die at program's end. But I didn't want to be cheated out of my slim chance of escape, so I stonewalled. Meanwhile, more contestants piled into the corridor.

"You have to tag them! You're the hunter now!" the two women said. But I refused, and nor could the woman who tagged me tag the others.

"What's going on?" one of the other contestants asked. "We're getting backed up here!"

"No one's getting out at this rate!" another said.

"I'm not tagging anyone until an adjudicator sorts this out," I said, crossing my arms over my chest.

Suddenly one of the cement walls exploded inward and Jonathan Winters clambered through the dust and debris, wearing a red and orange jumpsuit and carrying an ugly-looking rifle. Without fanfare, he pointed the rifle at my chest and pulled the trigger. A yellow bolt of energy drove me to the ground, and I could feel myself dying. He shot Sarah Silverman too, and she crumpled atop me.

"I refuse to die," I muttered, and woke up to my alarm - the theme from "The Rockford Files." Sylvia was already in the bathroom, getting ready for work. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Beware Beware! The Blob

In 1972 Beware! The Blob was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Directed by Larry Hagman of I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas fame, this strange little movie is ostensibly a sequel to the original Steve McQueen vehicle of 1958 - and yet it cannot be a true sequel, for reasons I'll explain below.

The film opens with the mundane daily routine of a middle-aged couple and their kitten. Chester, the husband, has brought home a cannister containing a sample of something strange one of his crew unearthed up north. There's a warning on the cannister to keep the contents frozen, so naturally Chester keeps it in the freezer section of his refrigerator, which upsets his wife, who places it on a countertop. Of course the container houses the dreaded Blob, dispatched in the first film when teenagers and the military discovered it was vulnerable to cold; they hauled it to the frozen Arctic for safekeeping.

The Blob runs amok, killing Chester's kitten, his wife, and then Chester himself. The Blob has returned, and -

But wait! Just before he's killed, we observe Chester watching television. A harried Steve McQueen is explaining to a policeman that this is no practical joke -

Wait a minute. Chester is watching The Blob, a work of science fiction. The Blob of the 1950s isn't real in Chester's world; he just happens to fall victim to the unhappy irony of being killed by a brand new Blob while watching a film about people being eaten by a Blob.

Of course, there is another explanation; perhaps the events of The Blob did happen in the world of Beware! The Blob and 1950s filmmakers of that world made a movie about those real-life events in 1958.

There. The integrity of this fictional universe hangs together after all. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Tears from a Clown

A few days ago I said something that made Sylvia laugh. "Making you laugh is my favourite thing," I replied with honest innocence.

"Oh, that's so sweet!" she said. Then she started to cry.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Mystery GIF #4

I like this GIF mainly for Steve's expressions and dramatic finger-pointing. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Mystery GIF #3

Oddly enough, these AutoAwesome-d GIFs are perhaps the ideal way to capture the frenetic mayhem of HMS Stadium. I need to buy Steve some replacement tops sometime. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Mystery GIF #2

HMS Stadium is a dangerous game. The spinning metal discs often bounce and leap out of the arena, smashing beer mugs, assaulting groins and once very nearly shattering the lens of my camera.