Archive for July, 2009

Off To PEI

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

On Friday we head out east to visit my sister, her family and some very dear friends in Prince Edward Island enjoying the fresh air.

Speaking of fresh air -

queen_kilt_dick

While I enjoy the east coast breezes I shan’t be without the interwebs but I might get more lazy than I already am.  So this is the post that says I’ll be out of town for a while.

If I remembered to pay the bills then this web site will stay up and running while I’m gone.  If not — well then you won’t be reading this and it won’t matter.

Cheers.

P. S.  In keeping with the photo above, I just had to post this video because the tune is very catchy.  It’s Storm Large‘s song 8 MILES WIDE, from her hit one-woman show Crazy Enough and it was sent to me by Fred via The Bloggess.

Everybody sing!

Eel Pie Island

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I can’t seem to get away from these fucking eels!

Last week I posted my old remembrance of the grisly and botched slaughtering of an eel in my kitchen to make a pie. The recipe was named Eel Pie Island Pie. Today my oldest dearest friend, Bryan, sent me the link to this bit of video about the source of the eel pie recipe: Eel Pie Island.

Turns out the place has quite a bit of history behind it, including being where Dicken’s wrote Little Dorrit and where the Rolling Stones had their first gig. Go figure.

Bryan has also suggested I record the story and put it online as a podcast. He seems to think I’m a good oral storyteller. I’ve got some writer chums on Twitter who are very involved in doing the same sort of thing so I might just give it a go. What the hell – I could always use a good distraction to keep me from pursuing – something – like writing new stuff.

Cheers.

21st Century Literacies – Howard Rheingold

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Twitter is great because it clues you into neat shit in a timely manner. Today’s timely neat shit comes from Howard Rheingold, the author of The Virtual Community and a guy who likes to paint his shoes.

Rheingold spoke at the Reboot Britain conference about 21st Century Literacies and he always gives good talks. His sometimes halting delivery is more than made up for in the depth and breadth of ideas he gently pries apart and reveals for our consumption and consideration.

Good stuff. Enjoy.

Cheers

Teh Saga Of Pinky – Continues

Friday, July 24th, 2009

This is a cool video Cory Doctorow posted over at BoingBoing. It’s just some neat footage of a neutrally bouyant balloon that is placidly hovering in a room.

A pink balloon.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time will know where this going.

Last year, over the Christmas holidays, I posted here (and on Twitter) about the plight of a small, homeless pink balloon named – appropriately enough – Pinky. I can’t replay the old blog post here because when I fucked up my blog it disappeared into the ether of the interwebs along with 2 to 3 years worth of mental gems and turds – but if anyone can find it for me I’d appreciate it. Nor can I lay out the original tweets – entitled Teh Saga Of Pinky – which inspired the blog post in the first place because apparently time to Twitter is like the flat Earth or the simulated reality of the button-eyed freaks in Gaiman‘s Coraline. Twitter Time is only visible within a limited distance after which it simply ceases to be and all sense of history drops over the edge into a timeless abyss and is lost forever.

But I digress.

Here’s what I can recount:

We had a small pink balloon show up on our doorstep in the midst of winter. It lingered there but we (myself and my immediate family) being heartless cretins, left it there – just to see what would happen.

Teh Saga Of Pinky - Coda

It was a loyal balloon that stayed true to its desire to find a home with us until finally I could take it no longer and posted a series of tweets that ended with this picture and asked the question:

“Should we bring Pinky inside & offer protection from the elements – or should we let nature take its course?”

Note: For the record – TwitPic has all my photo posts still archived. Perhaps I should stick pictures with all my tweets from now on.

The response to my Twitter question was an undeniable “Yes! Rescue Pinky!” – and so I did.

Pinky Teh Rescue

In my original post I also tucked in a bit of blather about how human beings like to anthropomorphize things, imbue them with character and feelings, and all too often bestow our care and affection upon objects more than we do on other human beings in our midst. We are all some really fucked up monkeys.

While my original Twitter posts and blog entry have vanished forever I did manage to dig out of my email files this late night drunken missive I wrote to myself on the couch with my iPhone as a nudge to make the blog post the next day about Pinky:

For what is a balloon? Any balloon? It is but a container – a vessel of a moment in time – the encapsulization of the breath of life. And here we have this feeble artifact, this minor player in the grand theatre and parade of life – a lowly, singular, lonesome sagged pink balloon – a vessel of the breath of life constrained, held back, diminished, neglected, buried – and yet persevering against all odds, unrelenting in it’s obdurant determination to not just survive but to also be noticed, to be made note of, to be recognized, named and accepted. Each one of us may only play upon these doorsteps for the most brief of times and yet we are most definitely here and not to be neglected nor discounted nor, worse still, ignored – we are here – as in Horton Hears A Who – we are here, we are here, we are here!

One balloon serves as a rather frail and tepid metaphor for all the many things each of us may ascribe to the story. But it serves well enough -that lone sad semi-deflated rubber sack of air is all of us; it is what we are, how we are perceived and what we yearn to be.

One little balloon – on a doorstep – in a snowstorm.

What a wonderous world this would be when we are finally capable of setting aside the metaphors and allegories and heart warming images to clearly see that all of these stories – that all stories – are about us – about you and me – about us all.

Perhaps one day.

Until then we shall have to be content and find solace for our hearts in the tales of the trials and tribulations of a small pink balloon on a snowy doorstep.

Shortly thereafter my friend Jill Gollick also had an encounter with a pink balloon. She had been away for the holiday season but, via Twitter, got my posts about Teh Saga Of Pinky.

When she got home this was waiting at her doorstep:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I didn’t put it there.

Honest.

While Jill’s tale of Pinky The Second ended in horrible tragedy, our Pinky lived happily ever after.

God Bless Us, Everyone!

But this whole errant pink balloon thing is starting to get on my nerves.

First me.

Then Jill.

And now this hovering version of the same.

Where are these balloons coming from? What do they want? Where is all this leading?

Perhaps time will tell.

But not Twitter time, of course – that’s too short.

Should you or anyone you know have any pink balloon stories to share with us please be sure to let me know.

In the meantime, here’s some balloons who don’t need rescuing.

Cheers.

Canada’s Copyright Consultation

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Speak Out On Copyright

UPDATE: As mentioned in the earlier version of this blog post, Michael Geist will launch has launched the Speak Out On Copyright website and you should go there now.

I’ve been bleating for some time now about how the Harper government was trying to jam through Bill C-61 in the hopes of looking good in that particular shade of brown lipstick the U.S. media lobby loves so well, and how in the well-intentioned but malignantly misguided efforts to reform copyright law in Canada the people most affected by these changes – the people of the country – were not consulted.

Let's tell 'em what we REALLY think!

Here’s your chance.

Michael Geist reports on the launching of the Copyright Consultation Website where you – and everyone you encourage to go there – can let the government know exactly what you feel and think about copyright law and how it affects you, this country and the world.

As Geist himself says in a previous post:

There has been some criticism over the past week about perceived “A” lists for those invited to roundtables and those excluded. My view is that the only list that really matters is the list of people who take the time to make a public submission. That process is open to everyone and this is the ideal opportunity to ensure that Canadians voices are heard. The government has not consulted on copyright since 2001 and this consultation represents both a crucial opportunity and a potential threat. While Canadians can ensure that the government understands that copyright matters and that a balance is needed, some groups will undoubtedly use the consultation to push for a return of Bill C-61. Indeed, the recording industry has already said that that bill did not go far enough. That means we could see pressure for a Canadian DMCA, a three-strikes and you’re out process, and the extension of the term of copyright to eat into the public domain.

Countering those calls will require broad participation. To help foster that participation, tomorrow I will be launching a new website geared specifically to the copyright consultation along with my short form response to these questions. I plan to blog a long form response throughout the summer.

Geist will soon have his own site up to help organize voices that can speak just as loudly as the favoured elite who get to sit in on the roundtable discussions and twist the government’s ear. This is important shit that will affect everything from the public domain, the DMCA, that fucking ACTA bullshit, Net Neutrality, Freedom Of Speech, government transparency, open culture and more.

I’ll be sure to holler about it when the other site comes online.

In the meantime visit the consultation site – tell your friends – talk about it – think about it and be sure to give Geist’s latest post a read since it really distills the issues to the core points that will affect everything we will do for the rest of our lives.

Everything? Really? Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration? Indulging in hyperbole, perhaps? Not when you give it even just a moments thought.

Here’s Geist’s thoughts on Why Does Copyright Matter?

For me, copyright matters because I am a professor and my students need access to copyrighted materials and the freedom to use those materials. It matters because I am a researcher who needs assurance that as materials are archived they will not be locked down under digital rights management. It matters because I am deeply concerned about privacy and fear that DRM could be harmful to my personal privacy. It matters because I have created videos and need flexibility in the law to allow for remix and transformed works and do not want my content taken down from the Internet based on unproven claims. It matters because I am a writer and I need certainty of access to speak freely. It matters because I am a consumer of digital entertainment and I want the law to reasonably reflect the right to view the content on the device of my choice. It matters because I am a parent whose children have only known life with the Internet and I want to ensure that they experience all the digital world has to offer. It matters because I live in a city with a strong connection to the digital economy and we need forward-looking laws to allow the next generation of companies to thrive. It matters because I am a proud Canadian who wants laws based not on external political pressure, but rather on the best interest of millions of Canadians.

So think about it. Read about it. Talk about it. Visit the site(s).

And then speak up.

Cheers.

P. S. Muchos gracias to Jimmy Kayak (aka Jim Taylor) for his shout out about this post and the issue at large. Thanks, man!

Walter Cronkite

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

That's the way it was.

Just A Kaltura Test

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

UPDATE: Check the bottom of this post for a July 19 update.

This is just a test of the new Kaltura plugin.

[kaltura-widget wid="coz4kveom8" width="446" height="400" type="grey" addPermission="-1" editPermission="-1" /]

I’m just farting around here so please bear with me. Kaltura is a new open source video company that provides software and services that allow for the easy posting, uploading and online editing of video. This is pretty cool shit for independent bloggers because it allows for communities to develop and grow where video, and not just text, becomes the means by which ideas are expressed and shared.

It’s sort of like what you can do through YouTube; posting your own video comments connected to other videos, but running it all from your own web pages. The variety of options (free & paid) available are overwhelming and I’m only just getting my head wrapped around them. Using it here and now was dead simple – it’s just a WordPress plugin that allows me a pantload of options. Very cool.

The video above has been posted here using Kaltura but the video source itself is from archive.org. It’s Superman and the Mechanical Monsters, an old Fleischer Bros. cartoon that is now in the public domain. One of the unique things about this particular cartoon is it was one of the key sources of inspiration for Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow; in fact you can spot some sequences that were reproduced in the Sky Captain feature virtually shot for shot.

I’ll blab more about Kultura and Open Video later.

Cheers.

UPDATE: ReadWriteWeb reports on Wikipedia going forward with open source video – in concert with Kaltura – and the possibilities inherent in such an expansive library of shared knowledge being wrought in video is making my head spin. More later.

The Eel Story

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Those who know me have already heard this story but I keep getting encouraged to post it again so here it is.

It’s a true story and still gives me the willies just thinking about it. It involves me a recipe for pie and an eel.

You can download the whole seven pages of woe here as a PDF but here’s a brief snip from the tale:

Something to remember when slaughtering eels is to never panic and begin slashing at your own hands with a sharp knife. Not a good thing to do.

The knife blade dug into my left hand just at the first knuckle, leaving a neat V-shaped cut that flapped open and bled freely. An eighth of an inch to the right and it would have severed the tendon to my index finger.

I shook off the offending serpent and retreated to the kitchen sink. As I washed my hand, peeling eel grease out of the wound, and bandaged myself, my anger boiled up inside of me. How dare such a simple creature attack me? After all, I am a superior being. I reside relatively high on the food chain. I am a human being, dammit! That thing’s not going to get the best of ME!

Oh yes - I still bear the marks.

My friend Ben has suggested I re-stage the event for video but I am not so inclined. I am not now afraid of eels nor am I reluctant to reprise the pie recipe – it was, after all, quite delicious – I just think it would end being like Woody Allen and the lobsters in Annie Hall, so that won’t be happening.

But the words live on.

Enjoy.

Cheers.

Getting Dis Organized – Getting Dat Organized

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Don't laugh - I need to - oh look, another butterfly!Yesterday I went into a tizzy because I couldn’t find a particular backup disk with some important script files on it. Whenever that sort of shit happens to me I behave pretty much the same way I do when my computer or hard drive goes down.

It’s bad enough losing data when one is notorious for not backing up their shit – but when you lose the fucking backup – that’s just too much.

I stomp around and fume and swear and throw things and just generally behave like an ill-tempered ogre that might be prone to dismembering friends and family members if any of them so much as utter the words: “Is something wrong?”

When basic crap around me breaks down or refuses to work – or refuses to be found – I cease to be a civilized human being. I would not fare well in any post-apocalyptic scenario – whether it be an Omega Man or A Boy And His Dog or This Quiet Earth or any other world-gone-wrong scenario. As much as I enjoy watching those films and putting myself in the role of the stalwart and ever-resourceful hero, when confronted with the reality of things-fucking-up I quickly realize I am not the hero type – I am, in fact, the Wallace Shawn character from My Dinner With Andre.

“But, Andre, I like my electric blanket!”

Fortunately, after digging through mountains of improperly filed debris which I like to refer to as my stuff, I managed to find the files I was seeking. However, it would be too easy to simply carry on as before now that the world has been set right once again. It’s not right – it’s still busted – I just happen to be able to once more find a way to pick out a path amongst the shattered landscape that surrounds me. As someone who lives, for the most part, inside their own head, I am all too capable of ignoring the basics that would drive more sane creatures into outrageous fits of despair. Dirty dishes, mounds of laundry, stacks of books, desk buried beneath a sedimentary paper simulacrum of geological proportions – all of it is so easy for me to ignore because all the real action is happening between my ears.

I was better able to cope with this state of affairs when I had an assistant and an office. That’s my excuse – for the moment – and I’m sticking with it. I pretty much need a full time nurse to lead me around and point at the next thing on my To Do List. All the other petty inconveniences that plague normal people and which constitute life in the real world are – in my case – always better handled by someone else.

That someone else is not my wife nor would I ever expect her to assume such a role. Merely thinking of the possibility – let alone voicing it – would ensure my quick demise in flash of eye-ball laser power reducing me to a small pile of smouldering and bewildered ash. She has her own shit to deal with and the attendant shit of sharing her life with the organizational equivalent of Charles Shultz’s Pig Pen.

This is something I must handle on my own.

I’ve done this before, you know. Every time something goes horribly wrong as a consequence of my own inability to cope with the world beyond my eyeballs, I vow to shape up, get my shit together, hunker down, suck it up and a litany of other buzz words all uttered with the intent of, once and for all, ceasing this obsessive compulsive behaviour that is an extension of my fractured thinking processes.

This is my world.Having one’s thinking process be fractured is not, on its own, a bad thing. It leads to many acrostic views and stimulating synchronistic perspectives that can feed multiple creative endeavours.

It just also – in my case at least – requires someone to follow me around with a shovel and a broom.

The human equivalent of a dog-walker, I suppose, prepared to stoop and scoop and perhaps occasionally yank on the leash to keep me off the grass – (that’s intended as a metaphor, yo) – since I am so obviously incapable of doing anything that doesn’t involve what is of immediate interest right in front of my nose or right behind my eyes.

For today, at least, I am making the effort to clear up the strategic piles of thoughts, works, interests, possibilities and potential that allow to cluster about my feet (often literally) and get myself back on the path – any path – that leads to something – anything – remotely productive.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably dig out all the old wind-up toys and spend the day on the floor taking pictures of an as yet to be conjured epic scenario – the dirty laundry can be sculpted to create other worldly landscapes – and those stacks of books can be pressed into service as the ruins of tall buildings from some distant and dysfunctional metropolis.

But what’s really truly important about all of this is . . . I found what I was looking for.

Cheers.

Hibi no Neiro – International Web Cam Collage Music Video

Friday, July 10th, 2009

The Japanese band Sour has released an amazing video composed of multiple screens from webcam sources all around the world. It’s described on the Vimeo page of Magico Nakamura thusly:

This music video was shot for Sour’s ‘Hibi no Neiro’ (Tone of everyday) from their first mini album ‘Water Flavor EP’. The cast were selected from the actual Sour fan base, from many countries around the world. Each person and scene was filmed purely via webcam.

I love works that employ fan participation and combine low-tech resources to craft a really unique piece. I must admit, when I first started watching this vid I got a little irked because the initial layout onscreen is similar to a short film I’m in the process of making for the Zombie Short Film Festival (albeit, my shit won’t be anywhere nearly as creative as this) – but since, as they say, there are only so many crayons in the box I quickly got over myself and just sat back and enjoyed.

I encourage you to do the same.

UPDATE: The original Vimeo post of the video got deleted from their site for some reason, so here’s the YouTube version.

Cheers.

P. S. I originally found this over on Gizmodo. Thanks, folks!