Both robots waiting for the pancake to be done

Why have I not heard about this PR2 before? Love the Cylon-like scanners on these guys. They can make me pancakes any day.

Sci Fi Digest

I recently entered a writing contest at one of my favourite websites in geekery, io9. I also recently learned that I did not win said writing contest. I had a hunch I wouldn’t: the story I submitted was a good story, not so much full-on science. The science was there, it just wasn’t overbearing like it is in the winning stories. Mine was Fiction-Science, more than Science-Fiction.

Anyhow, don’t be discouraged because I’m not. I’ve had loads of ideas coming through, nurtured by all kinds of random things and human interactions – including seeing Lynda Barry speak. She was very inspiring.

This morning I started a story (it’s more of a screenplay than a story) with the tentative title: Higgs Boson Brûlée. It’s about robots wanting social sophistication. In mid-descriptive sentence, I felt compelled to refer to this video from yesteryear:

Yeah, I was imagining “people” like that: half mechanics, half clothing, the way they look and move is human-esque, but their primary reason for being designed and built is something totally mundane and/or inhuman. I further interrupted my writing to share this thought path with you. Here’s an excerpt of what I was working on:

MURIEL and THOM have just finished eating. What have they eaten? We’re not sure, their plates filled with scraps of tentacled sea-creatures oozing black goo, a brightly coloured sponge in gasoline jus with rainbow-sheen. A flat bowl of amoeba risotto, a dark blue lumpy mixture that emanates tiny busts of phosphorescent light.

Awesome, RIGHT?????

P.S. I’m planning on recording myself reading my contest-losing story and making podcasts available soon. Hopefully before February.

Philosophy of Hallow’een

The philosophy of Hallow’een frustrates me: it is a 100% #firstworldproblem. It is a consumer’s holiday, an event which promotes nothing but shopping. Even the notion of generosity is overlooked: we buy candy to give away to kids, but can you imagine how better spent that money could be? Say a normal family spends $20 on candy, $35 on a costume and another $20 on decorations. What if they instead gave $10 of that $95 to a charity? Like the Food Bank or Dans La Rue, to feed street kids real food? Maybe its because when I was growing up, I always wore those orange cardboard UNICEF collection boxes. That was a great idea, great marketing, but it disappeared.

Maybe I was set off by watching a show last night that took you inside people’s over-the-top Hallow’een homes. Or perhaps because I saw costumes at the big box store, and was grossed out by how cheaply they were made and by how flammable they looked: a fairy costume for kids ran $35 before tax. Don’t even get me started on adults who dress up. Mind: blown.

So I do appreciate the moms that recycle costumes, or DIY them (a friend is making a paper mach horse for her son’s cowboy costume). I’m into that: keeping it imaginative, fulfilling and fun. Not expensive and competitive, which I think some people get carried away by. It’s more fun to be ghetto that to be the best.

Speaking of which, I’ll post some progress pics of the Squidward costume tomorrow.

Day Off in Philadelphia, PA

It has been raining every day since we left on this tour. Except in Albany. It was sunny there. Today is a day off (grey, but not really rainy), which we decided to spend in Philadelphia, PA because Washington, DC was sold out of hotels. Philadelphia is a great city: it is really big, I am learning, and has lots of little parts that each feel like their own little town. Murray, Laura and I walked through the Italian Market and we got all kinds of great food to make dinner. Murray says he’s gonna make little homemade pizzas tonight on the bus but I will believe that when I see it. We walked back to the hotel, went swimming for a really long time and now I’m chilling out on the bus.

The jokes that float around on a tour are usually really lame and insular. Currently the funniest are:

“Bobby Fisher. Where is he? I don’t know! I don’t know!”

Murray selected as 30th sexiest rock frontman in history on Nerve.com.

Summer Heights High.

And the endless musical comedy of Jason and Chris, that usually involves changing keys, modulating chords and vocal melodies, on-purpose rhythmic mistakes and easy-listening instrumental classical-jazz versions of songs (including 22) that make me feel like I’m on hold with the bank.

Now looking for someplace to eat.

Backstage Kitchen

It’s a beautiful day in Albany. Everything is in full spring bloom, and although it seems like half the city is boarded up and slightly depressed, I’m feeling generally lovely about the day. Murray decided today would be the first day of the mobile kitchen. Before we left he assembled some kitchen basics: some burners, knife, cutting board, spices, oils. Him and Yann rode the bicycles we brought to the grocery store and Murray’s making veggie Pate Chinois (Shepherd’s Pie) and streamed broccolini. I’m personally really excited. Eating on tour is always a total chore, it becomes something you have to do out of dire need rather than want or desire. You can only eat so much pizza (even though pizza, along with the everything bagel, is my guiltiest pleasure). Anyway I took some pics of the backstage kitchen….

img00127

img00128

img00129

Morrissey vs. BBQ

This I can respect: Morrissey exhausted by the smell of BBQ. I mean, this would never occur to most people, but the air you breathe during a show is important. It can make you faint, high, nauseous, or leave you breathless. The Dears nicknamed one venue “the chicken wing joint” because that’s what everything smelled like…onstage and off. Perez calls Morrissey a diva, but really, that’s like the kettle calling the pot black.

Bring Back the Victory Garden

Why did this stop? North Americans in the 1950’s got so obsessed with consumerism and plenty vs. constant rations and shortages, that they forgot about the earth…which I guess after a world war is forgivable. But taking is always easier than giving. So while reading the Economist I was reminded about the Victory Garden: a WWII effort where Americans were encouraged to turn their backyards into vegetable gardens and grow their own food. Could you imagine? What would Michael Pollan say?

I was listening to the CBC news and they said a report issued by the city of Montreal on climate change and reducing our individual carbon footprints recommended Montrealers wash their laundry in cold water and eat less meat. Though, of course, I can’t find a link to back it up, because asking an entire population to eat less meat, while inspiring and groundbreaking, is also kind of unbelievable.

My friend Jason sent me this interview with Louis CK – a comedian – on Conan last year: “Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy.” And I kind of agree…we should be more grateful for our lives, live less with a feeling of entitlement and more with a sense of giving, sharing and community. We should rely on ourselves first, rather than on Wikipedia to answer all our questions (of which I am so guilty). Imagine if we reconsidered our real estate: not just a house full of things and stuff and the right paint colours, but as land. Could you imagine?

Less PS3 and more gardening…except in winter when we can’t get to the soil for six months. Although the “Victory Garden” does sound like a level in Bioshock….maybe that’s what I like about it…

Vacation: Poetic Blog

Where does that feeling of the ocean go? Of the sun, of the healing, of comfort and warmth, the cozy uncertainty of vacation? One step out into the snow, the cold gripping my spine, the tension of winter pulling my form into a hunched curve.

The smells can linger; the light humid sulfur of a burning fire, that dank dump smell that pops out of nowhere. The memory of the waves, the evening trade wind, the crash of waves and unfamiliar caw of lankier versions of birds we have at home. The taste of a frozen Danino yogurt on a stick, still warm corn tortillas, drops of lime juice on the rim of a cold Pacifico beer.

But now they are gone, left behind, held only in momentary photographs and sunburns. In the grains of sand I still see in Neptune’s ear.

Its always good to be home, though, even in the winter, even after a vacation. I’m looking forward to sleeping in our own bed, drinking tap water with total abandon.

Now off to real reality. Making macaroni and cheese for Neptune’s lunch, trying to recover from my recovery.

“Don’t burn food: biofuels standards now!” – Avaaz.org

I talked about it before in my Corn Aggression post: the biofuel conundrum. Anyhow, if you want you can do something – something small but meaningful – to encourage sustainability and responsibility among our leaders:

Don’t burn food: biofuels standards now!

Please consider participating in this campaign by taking two seconds to fill out the important bits to send an email to your country’s prime minister, president, monarch, benevolent dictator, or whoever is in charge where you live.

Thanks! Back to my otherwise inane blog…

Popcorn

I’ve been having a loop of thoughts since Neptune requested some popcorn as a snack the other day.

Growing up, my parents had one of those really loud air popcorn makers. You know, the ones with the little plastic tray on top that melts the butter? With the spinning, glorified hair dryer part that shoots popped kernels into the bowl with hot air? It was beige and brown (like everything in the 80’s). Anyhow, that was fun. My parents also had a microwave but that was back when you had to cover your uterus while they were in operation; basically pre-dating microwaveable popcorn altogether.

Now I’m faced with the creation of popcorn for Neptune. We don’t have a microwave, so sometimes we get Jiffy Pop, but it seems like it is something we could do on our own. Can we? Armed with some hot oil and a pot and an inexpensive bag of dried corn kernels? It sounds almost dangerous, archaic even, to actually cook popcorn on the stove.

But the thread of popcorn got me to thinking about the song, Popcorn (click here to refresh your memory). Actually, Popcorn-Song.com has an exhaustive history of the song. If you are too young to remember how this track infiltrated the 80’s, then think about the effect that the Hamster Dance Song had on the early 00’s. You can find an equally exhaustive history here, though it’s almost too much information to bear.