Listener letters + fog

March 27, 2009

» Mandi and I celebrate our 10th episode of Nerd Hurdles by opening up the mailbag and answering some of our listeners’ wonderful letters. And by “answer” I mean “use them as a springboard for various tangents.” Mostly these tangents involve celebrity crushes and MPREG. There are no answers, only questions. There might not even be any actual questions, come to think of it. We do, however, telephone an unsuspecting letter-writer and make him back-up his spurious claims about our lack of superhero knowledge.

In other news, we’ve expanded our listenership to Portugal, Spain, Greece and Sweden. I’d like to claim credit for this development—that it was a direct result of some marketing strategy I masterminded—but I’m really clueless as to how these people found us. Maybe they’ll write us a letter and let us know. But maybe after listening to the latest episode, they won’t write us at all. Maybe no one will ever again.

» It’s been really foggy lately. I’m a big fan of the fog. I like how it feels, how it looks and even, sometimes, how it tastes. Though I suspect if I can taste the fog, it’s not actually fog so much as damp clouds of cancerous death. Who doesn’t like a sinus full of cancerous death in the morning?  

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Guesting + contrary to my own opinion

March 23, 2009

» This week Mandi and I guest host on Starbase 66, the supremely awesome international Star Trek and sci-fi podcast. It’s actually a really great podcast. I think we’re just really boring guests. If you like Star Wars and dislike George Lucas, you should still listen to it though. Because that’s what we talk about. Overall the session went a lot better than my 3-second delayed Skyped phone-in appearance on the Pins of Light reunion show last night on CHLY. I regret only 93% of the statements I (or Robocoon) made.

» There’s a graphic design meet-up group for which I’m on the mailing list whose meet-ups I’ve never attended. I’m afraid to meet other designers for three reasons. 1) I’m socially awkward; 2) I fear other designers are generally douchebags; and 3) I suspect I’m actually correct, and not just being uncharitable, about number 2.

But the latest mail-out poses an interesting question:

“With the way the economy is mis-behaving – someone is being affected. But the fact is, are we being affected because there is a recession or are we even in a recession? Maybe it is a state of mind? No one can tell you well off the bat when the recession began and no one can confirm Canada is in one. Recession or Rejection is our themed topic of the night.”

The fact actually is that the above makes no sense grammatically. But I’m willing to let that slide because, once you wade through that jumble of words passing for a paragraph, the question raised about the current economic state is intriguing. Though one can’t deny people—at least in the auto-industry— have been laid-off en masse, how bad is the economy really? I’ve been getting, more and more, a feeling of emperor’s new clothes or Big Brother-esque propaganda about the economic downturn. Is this new depression our version of a fictional war between Oceania and Eurasia to keep the populous distracted? And to what ends? Or is it just a byproduct of the way everything in our culture is over-hyped? A media frenzy where no one has bothered to check the facts before filing their own story? Maybe it’s being downplayed and things are actually much, much worse.

Ironically, I’ve expected and prophesied an economic collapse for years. And now that it’s coming  (or come), I’m doubting its validity. Perhaps I’m just pathologically contrary. I suspect this is the case. It very well might be I’m a douchebag graphic designer.

Bathroom serenade, bent out of shape + orange-ganic

March 19, 2009

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» I was in stall #3 of the 19th floor washroom (the one with the plush TP you might remember) when I heard a guy stride into the room whistling loudly. He continued to whistle enthusiastically, at full volume, while he got down to business at the urinals. It was some famous showtune I couldn’t play. Like "Singing In the Rain" but it wasn’t. He was jazzing up the melody enough that it was just this side of a recognizable melody. I think he might have been mashing-up the Gershwin songbook, whistling a few bars of a dozen songs at a time. I expected him to stop whistling but he kept going. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone whistle in public, much less in a washroom, with such fervor. He only stopped for a spell of grunting and wheezing. So much grunting and wheezing I thought he was defecating in the urinal. The grunting stopped and the whistling restarted as he washed his hands. When he was at the sink I could see through the crack in the door of stall #3 that it was the morbidly obese Roger Ebert clone from the other set of offices on our floor. I later saw him standing by the elevators, still whistling.

» Last wednesday I slept on my arm weird in an attempt to not disturb Mandi in her own slumber. I knew it was a bad idea but it wouldn’t be the first time a guy did something foolish for love. Besides, she made me an origami X-Wing fighter last week. I owed her that much.

As I suspected, I woke up with a stiff arm but I assumed it would sort itself out by mid-afternoon. It didn’t. Nor did it sort itself out in the following days. I’m still not able to raise my left arm higher than between 0 and 10 degrees. Luckily, I don’t really ever need to raise it higher than maybe -25 degrees. So I was ignoring it and wondering if it was semi-dislocated or perhaps there was something wrong with my bursa. I wasn’t all that concerned until yesterday when (not only did I realize it had been over a week but that) it was getting worse. If I turned my arm in certain directions it felt like someone was stabbing me with an invisible dagger. Mandi was poking at it last night and seems to think I have a severe knot. Her poking seemed to help. So she’s probably right.

» Yesterday’s Honey tangerine was a disappointment. Dried out and seedy. It’s skin was somewhat leathery and it simply gave me a sordid feeling having it in my mouth. I thought this might have been the end of my obsession with tangerines but I’ve given the tangy ones another chance. 

I’ve gone back back to the Minneola. But this time I chosen an organic variety. This delightful specimen peeled easily, the juice was both sweet and sour and it was entirely seedless. It was like slipping into a cool bed with freshly made sheets on a hot evening with nightingales singing softly outside the window.

Catooine and Kunta Laforge

March 18, 2009

No one cared about Geordi, originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» On the weekend Mandi and I made our second ridiculous cake. This time it was a Star Trek cake. The crew of the NCC-1701-D travel to the planet of Catooine and face feline danger. As you can see, Geordi didn’t make it out alive. More photos with a story to go along in this gallery.

» Speaking of Geordi Laforge, on Nerd Hurdles episode #9 we talk about celebs who are using Twitter. We of course specifically talk about meeting Levar Burton at his famous Tweet-up in Toronto. The episode is a bit of a mess as it was recorded in two parts and an hour of material ended up on the cutting room floor. Something about this subject made us a bit crazy.

That Makes Sense + Seedy

March 17, 2009

That Makes Sense
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» This week Ampersand Publishing released book #5, That Makes Sense. It’s a collaborative effort birthed on the interwebs. I overheard a perplexing cell-phone conversation on the street and enticed over a dozen writers to submit their imaginings of what the other half the conversation might have been. More about it at the Ampersand Publishing store.

» This morning’s Honey tangerine was much the same as yesterday afternoon’s but I have a complaint about the seed issue. Seriously, honey, you need to do something about the excessive amount of seeds you’re carrying. Fertility is all well and good but having to spit out three seeds per segment is, frankly, a pain in the ass. You’re sweet, but not that sweet. They do amazing things with hybrids these days. Look into seedlessness.


March 16, 2009

Tangental 1, originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» On Friday my tangerine of choice was a Minneola (as I think the previous three tangerines I’ve written about were). It was of a sweet but indistinct disposition. Much like a virgin who’d grown up in the country and was so sheltered they hadn’t even seen animals copulating. It was sort of the fruit equivalent of a wallflower. Very sticky though. I found myself annoyed at having to continually clean away the copious amounts of juice which were clinging to my fingers like kittens weened too young. But still, even that didn’t leave much of an impression.  I actually needed to scribble notes on a desk pad in order to remember the experience. What I’ve just written, I have no memory of. I’m just copying what I see written here. Apparently I didn’t even finish the last two segments of this one.

This weekend I bought three Honey tangerines. I ate the first of these this morning. At first I found it to be no more than a very large Mandarin orange but with obnoxiously large seeds. Its rind was also thin like a Mandarin’s where the Minneola was thick like a Navel orange. Over the course of eating several segments, I began to really get a sense of that classic tangerine flavour coming out. Sweet and tangy. I think the Honey tangerines might be the way to go. Not virginal, but also not a tart. Will its sisters so delightfully dance upon my taste buds? I will let you know in the coming days.

Bitterine + downscale

March 12, 2009

Tangental 2
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» Today’s tangerine is not sour, but is slightly bitter. It’s a tad dry and not nearly as juicy as previous specimens. The rind is an impressive half-centimeter thick but I’m not sure this is an advantage to anything except making peeling the tangerine more difficult. I chose this one because the orange of the skin was a lighter shade than the others on the pile. I theorized this was an indication of ripeness. I think it may be overly ripe. I may not finish the final four segments.

» I’m making an effort to limit the amount of projects I have on the go in order to excel at a few projects instead of merely completing many projects. It seems like a good mid-March resolution. I wonder if I’ll stick to it.

Darkness + Freedom

March 10, 2009

Morning 2
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» Mornings were getting better for a while there. By that I mean it wasn’t pitch black when I left for work. I’d gotten used to being able to see the keyhole as I locked the door and the not feeling like a little of my rightful sleep had been stolen by the workday. It was a particularly cruel blow yesterday morning when I crawled my way out of the subway station to find it was still dark and, crueler still, it was snowing. I felt like I’d been time-warped back two months. I suppose I get to see the sun rise again.

» You can now download the Heavy Moon / Rubacuori album here. You can also find there a link to a podcast version with commentary on the project.

Unwatched men + panda sale

March 9, 2009

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» Still haven’t had a chance to get out to Watchmen yet. Having finally read the graphic novel, I’m very curious to see how it translates to film. I’ve had my doubts it’s the sort of story that even could be told on film. What makes the graphic novel the powerful work of literature it is, isn’t anything that would make a good superhero action film. It’s all the backstory and character pieces outside of the main plot which make the harrowing, prophetic tale the rich, punch-packing story it is. There is the straight ahead superhero story going on parallel to all that but, honestly, it’s fairly weak on its own and since I suspect that’s what the film would need to focus on, I’m skeptical and dubious and a little incredulous about the glowing reviews. But now there’s a few lukewarm and negative reviews trickling in which make me even more curious.

Having disliked The Dark Knight, I suspect I’m going to be on the lukewarm side myself. I could see that maybe it it’d been done by someone like HBO as a mini-series, and included all the backstory and "bonus" materials, Watchmen could be done properly. In this day and age, TV no longer means lower production values than cinema, so why do they make two hour films of books what need 12 hours to tell? Each chapter/issue of Watchmen deserves an hour of screen time.

I’ve been thinking lately that if Lucas really needed to make the Star Wars prequels with the scenarios and characters he ended up using, three seasons of TV would have been the way to go telling that story. I still wouldn’t have been happy with… pretty much everything I wasn’t happy about in the movies, but at least he could have done the political intrigue justice and the horrible CG would have been acceptable on the small screen. I have a feeling that’s what my feelings of the Watchmen film will be. I’ll report back once I’ve watched it.

» Oh, there’s a sale going on at the Pandanoids site.

Trek, Salvation, Toilets, Tang + Tangents

March 6, 2009

I’ll say it, "Raw Chicken Vagina"
Originally uploaded by godpasta.

» I might be the only fan-boy who hasn’t soiled his pants over the new Star Trek trailer. Though it looks to be a better stand-alone sci-fi adventure than the previous trailers suggested, it still lacks any of the flavour that is Trek. Which leads me to believe the fact it is Star Trek is only going to distract me from enjoying what could otherwise have been the first truly good original sci-fi movie since the 80s. I think I feel the same way about Terminator: Salvation. Though it looks like a really great machine vs. man post-apocalyptic war movie, I feel like the fact it’s a Terminator movie is going to have me looking for outside-of-canon nerd-holes in it. Why not start a new mythology about a machine war? Why hamper it with the stigma of a series of 20 year old films? And in Star Trek’s case, 40 years of history. I won’t be able to look at this film with fresh eyes no matter how hard I try to set aside my life-long preconceptions. I also suspect Kirk’s "Yes… we do…" line is going to be laughably cheesy in the context of the scene. In fact, it’s already laughable in the context of the trailer but you don’t have time to notice on the first viewing. So maybe they did get the essence of Kirk right after all. Cheesy lines delivered melodramatically.

» For some reason the toilet paper in the 19th floor men’s washroom is the cushy pillowed kind instead of the usual industrial-grade sandpaper. I’m not complaining. I’m just wondering if it’s someone’s private stash in cubicle three.

» Because I know you’re riveted, please note my third tangerine was again more tart than the second but the fourth—from the same batch—was sweeter. I need to look online for hints on selecting ripe tangerines. The method I’m using is clearly haphazard at best.

» Mandi and I tried to have a conversation about martial arts since we both agreed it’s the nerd element of it all that has kept us at a healthy distance. The problem is we’ve kept ourselves at such a distance, we know almost nothing about martial arts. So our conversation wandered into… other topics (Hint: see photo).

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