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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Ode to a Grecian Burn

Rage, rage against the flourishing flame
Rage against those who assigned to you the blame
Hurl the code of laws into this bright inferno
Watch the flames flicker and burn, oh! 
Let C see the banality of Scream; 
The only sorcerer is the sorcerer of daydreams.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Rage Against the Latrine

Rage, rage, against the shinning of the bark
Scream maddened mockery into uncaring dark
Kneel before the temple of pratfall agony
Hurl invectives at the prospect of ecstasy
Let bees be the finale of grapes
The only emperor is the Emperor of jackanapes

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Vernal Geekquinox 2023: The Spice Must Flow!


We had a hot time in the old town last night as Pete and Ellen hosted another utterly delightful Geekquinox, this time themed around hot spices. The spice did indeed flow, and many sinuses and intestinal tracts were cleared! 

I talked to Mom about the menu on Friday night, and we both agreed that neither of us would be likely to try anything hotter than the Heartbeat Pineapple Habanero, but I surprised myself last night by sampling each. Surprisingly, I found the hottest spice more palatable than the second-hottest, which had my pores and sinuses open wide and my tongue twisting in protest. Regarding flavour, my favourites were the Heartbeat Pineapple, the Los Calientes, and the Ginger Goat Original. I can't really call them hot after detonating The Bomb in my mouth; each offered a nice mixture of sweet or sour to temper the heat. 

Scott samples a sauce. 

I don't believe I've ever had homemade guacamole before last night. It was scrumptious, and a welcome antidote to the heat. 

Pete often prepares his amazing chicken chili verde at Gaming & Guinness, and I'll never tire of it. I could live on this stuff. 

Pete spends most of his time at Geekquinox cooking, but luckily he could take breaks to enjoy his own preparations, thanks to occasional sous-chefing from Ellen and some of the more talented guests. (I was fit only for crumbling some feta into a measuring cup.) 

For example, here's Jeff stirring that delicious chili. 

And here's Steve coring the fruit out of a pineapple. Mmmm. 

Ohhhh yeah. 

Steve enjoys some chili. 

The incredible hamachi shot. 
One of Pete's kitchen light bulbs had been burned out for years, and I'm proud to say that I was among the first to notice he'd finally changed the bulb. Huzzah! 

Our hostess enjoys a steaming cup of specially-brewed spirited rum coffee with butterscotch whipped cream. Even a teetotaler like me has to admit that sounds pretty good. 

Mike's animated conversation brings life to every gathering graced with his peripatetic presence. 

We all feasted on chips, guacamole, and hot sauce between courses. 

But in truth, coming together to share our stories and laugh is the best thing about Geekquinox. Or is it the food? No, it's the friendship. No, the food...they're both amazing. 

The pork and pineapple skewers were heavenly, rivalling, in my eyes (or rather, in my mouth), the chili verde.

Sylvia and I had to leave before the day wrapped up, and boy do I regret missing the Mexican street corn. But needs must! 

Don't skimp on the cheese sauce. 

Sylvia and I feel incredibly lucky to have such lovely friends and to be part of what's become one of our favourite traditions. Thanks again, Pete and Ellen! 

For more, check out Steve's thoughts on the night

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Pineapple Cocktail

Today Pete and Ellen hosted yet another delightful Geekquinox to celebrate the arrival of spring and friendships that are, by this point, literally decades old. I'll write more about the event tomorrow, but as an appetizer, here's the pineapple cocktail Stephen made for me by coring out a fresh pineapple and filling it with Limonetta. Mixed with the leftover pineapple juices, it was quite delightful. (The pineapple pieces proper were used for some truly scrumptious spicy pork and pineapple skewers.) 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Fording Mount Doom

Found a new pop-art model for Stable Diffusion and tried to get it to create an image of Harrison Ford flying a hang glider over Mount Doom. 

Looking dapper, Harrison. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Introducing the MBU: Phase One


Tonight I watched The Bees (Alfredo Zacarías, 1978), one of a series of the killer-bees-panic subgenre of the 1970s. John Saxon stars, so I immediately started texting Sean with a play-by-play of the film, mostly because for some reason Dad hated John Saxon and famously said he'd "shoot that son of a bitch" if he ever ran into him. Of course Dad actually would never do such a thing (although he did in a dream once, right in the face), but Sean and I have always found Dad's irrational hatred for an actor he never met pretty funny. 

Anyway, captured above is Sean's inspired moment where he laments the lack of an extended bee universe. I immediately dubbed it the "MBU," the Malevolent Bees Universe, aping Marvel's MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Phase One of the MBU begins with a recut of Freddie Francis' The Deadly Bees (1966), in which a beekeeper creates a strain of killer bees and uses them to start killing people because the scientific community doesn't take him seriously. After the bees kill a few people on remote Seagull Island, the mad beekeeper's plans are thwarted by a rival, ethical beekeeper. 

Phase One continues with Invasion of the Bee Girls (Denis Sanders, 1973). By looping in some new dialogue, it should be easy to connect this film with The Deadly Bees by revealing that the formula used to create the bee girls of this film draws upon the science established by the mad beekeeper in the first film. 

Next, Curtis Harrington's 1974 made-for-TV thriller Killer Bees our heroine, Victoria, encountering an eccentric family who are using Africanized bees to improve yields at their vineyard. With some editing tricks, we can connect villainess Madam Van Bohlen to the first two films by suggesting that her psychic power to control bee swarms is a result of experiments from the first two films. We could also suggest that our heroine, Victoria, is an ex-Bee Girl. By film's end, she has become the new Bee Queen. Perhaps we'll see her again...

Mission: Impossible creator Bruce Geller produced and directed The Savage Bees (1976), in which savage bees stow away on a freighter and attack partiers at Mardi Gras. With some simple newly-shot scenes, we can create a framing story that reveals the Bee Queen is behind this attack. 

Believe it or not, there was a sequel to The Savage Bees: Terror Out of the Sky (Lee H. Katzin, 1978). This time (thanks once again to some newly-shot footage), the Bee Queen uses her psychic bee control powers to attack a school bus, a marching band, a truck driver, and other unfortunates. What is her overarching plan? 

In Irwin Allen's The Swarm (1978), the bees mount their greatest assault yet, invading the continental United States in full force with only an all-star cast of classic Hollywood greats (Fred MacMurray! Olivia de Haviland! Michael Caine! Richard Widmark! Lee Grant! Ben Johnson! Richard Chamberlain! Henry Fonda! Katharine Ross! Slim Pickens!) standing against...THE SWARM! (And the Bee Queen, thanks to some dialogue looping and new scenes, of course.) 

Phase One of the MBeeU concludes, fittingly, with The Bees. After a tremendous amount of hilarious carnage, John Saxon learns how to communicate with the bees and basically acts as their spokesperson at the United Nations. The bees swarm the General Assembly, and in a fantastic cliffhanger to end Phase One, Saxon sides with the bees to demand humanity surrender control to the bees - or face genocide by bee sting. Wow, Dad was right: John Saxon really was a son of a bitch! At least in this role...


Monday, March 13, 2023

Sunday, March 12, 2023

2023 Oscar Guesses


I know this is late; the Oscar broadcast has already started. But I haven't watched it and I don't know who's already won. 

This marks the first year in a while I haven't seen all of the Best Picture nominees before the broadcast. I had intended to watch three out of the four I haven't seen today, but I awoke very unwell and wound up staying in bed until 5 pm or so. 

My guesses this year are particularly uneducated and based more on sentiment than who I think will actually win. Well, that's not true; some of my guesses in the technical categories are based on who I think will win based on past choices of the Academy. 

Anyway, sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Final Sunset

None left to remember the last outpost
All to dust returned far back and down the deep well of time
One final guardian against entropy
One final sunset before infinite winter
But there was existence, once upon a time
And it was enough

Friday, March 10, 2023

Fallen Idol

Here's a rare instance of a miniature that looks better in a photograph than it does on a table. I haven't painted anything in a while, and this ancient statue demonstrates how my skills have lapsed. Or maybe I was just too ambitious this time; I was trying to give the impression of corroded and stained precious metals, and instead it's really just a ruddy mess. 

I think the base looks okay, however. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Film Franchises Well-Suited to Bond-Style Main Title Sequences

The Bond films are iconic for a number of reasons, but for the purposes of this thought I'll name two: reliably entertaining use of key tropes, and opening titles marked by stunning visuals  combined with pop music that adheres to musical structures formed by John Barry and other Bond film composers. In most Bond films, a short prelude, usually an action set piece, opens the film, followed by the main titles. 

This structure has become part of the language of nearly every Bond film, and it creates a sense of familiarity and excitement for the moviegoing public. When you sit down to watch a Bond film, you know exactly what kind of experience you're going to have, and the prelude and main titles reassure you that Bond, once again, is back. 

I don't see any reason--aside from being accused of imitation, the sincerest form of flattery--that other iconic film series couldn't benefit from a similar structure. 

Imagine, if you will, a Superman film. It could open with Clark Kent interviewing people in an underserved neighbourhood of Metropolis, empathizing with their concerns, determining to bring much-needed attention to marginalized people. Just then, his super-hearing picks up an emergency; a man is having a heart attack on a bus, and traffic is too heavy to get him to a hospital in time. Clark rushes into a back alley, changes into Superman, flies across the city to the bus, cradles the man in his arms, and flies him to the hospital in time for life-saving treatment. "You're going to be okay," Superman says, gently placing him on a stretcher rolled over by paramedics. "These fine folks are going to take care of you." (In Superman's world, the US has single-payer healthcare to avoid thorny questions like "Why didn't you let me die so my family wouldn't have to go into bankruptcy to pay my hospital bills?") Superman flies back to the underserved neighbourhood, resumes his interviews, and the camera pans across a shot of bustling Metropolis, which transitions into the main title sequence, beginning with a Daily Planet headline about Clark's story. Images of Clark's glasses, the Superman symbol, the Daily Planet itself, Jimmy Olsen's camera flashbulb going off, Krypton exploding, Kal-El's rocket, Lex Luthor in a power suit, more Daily Planet headlines showing how Clark's story has prompted reform, other Daily Planet headlines about Superman exploits, Lois Lane's purple eyes, Superman's hands saving a cat from a tree, the words "Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow" scrolling by, silhouettes of Superman fighting villains like Metallo or the Atomic Skull, Clark Kent's hands typing at super-speed and melting a typewriter, Superman's cape fluttering in the wind, panning shots of the Hall of Justice and Fortress of Solitude, home video footage of Superman saving people, and finally one final Daily Planet headline that also happens to be the film's title, all set to some amazing song by, I don't know, anyone who's sung a Bond song or someone who probably will in the future. 

Surely this structure would work for other superhero films at the very least, and for Star Trek, the Fast and the Furious, perhaps somewhat ironically for the Universal Monsters, Star Wars (already done by an amateur for The Empire Strikes Back to great effect), Tarzan films, Indiana Jones--really any action-adventure style movies. 

Not Mission: Impossible, though. They use a different structure (essentially the "this episode" montage used in the original TV series), and it's perfect for those movies. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

To Ear Is Inhuman, to Condemn, Profane

Jeff and I were corresponding about Stable Diffusion and ears, and during that exchange I wrote, pithily, I thought, "To ear is inhuman, to condemn, profane," an attempted witticism on art and artificial intelligence. 

I liked my version of the classic phrase well enough to use it as a prompt in Stable Diffusion, but instead of producing one image, it produced 50 (I'd been trying to generate multiple iterations of something more interesting, and forgot to reset the counter). 

Obviously I'm not going to post all 50, but here's a selection of the most bizarre. Do you see the same common themes as me?