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The Cable Guys

December 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

For a four month period in 2002 while working for The Wire (a division of Trinidad Publishing Company), I co-wrote a television column, realizing they don’t existing anywhere else I’ve collected them here.

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John Ellis’ Social History of the Machine Gun documents and details the development of the rapid, automatic fire weapons in the late 19th century and its uses and effects in the immediate regional and global conflicts that followed. The primary timeline of Ellis’ work covers early attempts at automatic, continuous fire weaponry to the eventual implementation during World War I.

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This weekend during trips to Cincinnati and Chattanooga we managed to put a little over 1,000 miles on a Chrysler 200. With that amount of time in the car, I thought it would be a good idea to document the experience.

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went to see Constantine; mispronunciation not withstanding; last night and i have to say i wasn`t disappointed. it was a hell; pun sincerely intended; of a lot better than i expected.

one of the many redeem factors about this movie, is unlike a lot of other movie treatments based on comics it wasn`t automatically made PG-13, which in a lot of cases just strips a lot of the best elements out of it in order to make it palatable. another saving grace was the supporting cast and visual effects; Tilda Swinton rocks. and unlike a lot of Kenau`s other recent roles he wasn`t clueless and a determined Kenau is kind of cute.

go see Constantine just for entertainment value alone.

one track mind

January 27, 2005 — Leave a comment

i seemed to be stuck on sex these days. it could be my reading material. i mentioned last week that i received a book from a reader. the book is called The Guide to Getting It On! (The Universe`s Coolest and Most Informative Book About Sex) and was sent to me by the author, Paul Joannides. i haven`t gotten very far and i have to say that portion of the title in the parentheses is absolutely correct.

this books is well written and informative and i wouldn`t hesitate giving it to any young; or not so young; adult i know. i can say without shame that my sexual education is pretty through but there are still interesting new facts contained in the book. and unlike a lot of other `manuals` it doesn`t take itself too seriously.

one of the interesting points touched early on was the disparity in the eagerness of the pharmaceutical companies to initially get involved with female contraceptives and the male enhancement market. the book touches on it briefly but provides reference and resource material, which i have already added to my wish list.

i`ve always been puzzled by the disparity in sexual equality and freedoms between men and women. if a man sleeps around he`s a stud, if a woman sleeps around she`s a slut. where is the difference? i read somewhere once that the urge for women to sleep around is actually genetic and more natural. in early human societies women slept with as many men in the tribe as they could to ensure that the got the strongest and fittest babies. that`s been corroborated by recent studies that show a category of sperm that exist only to block other sperm from fertilising an egg. puts a whole new perspective on sexuality doesn`t it.

Best of Show

January 25, 2005 — Leave a comment

MacWorld SF for the most part was all about the new user experience. For long time or power users, finding personal satisfaction required roaming the vast floor space at the Moscone Center.

There were over 275 exhibitors, with recognisable names in software and hardware like Adobe, Extensis, Filemaker, Microsoft, Nikon, and Quark taking up large amounts of floor space. However with the exception of Griffin Technologies and Roxio, most of the exciting offerings at the show were from the smaller manufacturers.

My runners-up in the Best of Show software category are Ambrosia Software; long time shareware manufacturer of games and utilites; and relative newcomer; Panic. These companies both make practical, stable software cheaply, which some of the bigger names might want to take stock of.

Ambrosia recently released their digital recording application WireTap Pro, as well as an OS X version of their classic game Aperion. WireTap Pro allows users record audio from any running application as well as  any input device on your Mac including the microphone, line-in or headset and save it in a variety of formats including mp3, AAC, Quicktime or AIFF.

Panic is a newer arrival in the Mac shareware market and produce a number of cool utilities including Transmit; an FTP client; Unison; a USENET client; and some smaller fun utilities like Destastic; which allows you to make notes on a computer desktop like a whiteboard; and Stattoo; which gives users widgets for mail, weather and time in a translucent desktop bar.

However my Best of Show goes to a tiny start-up company called Delicious Monster who have produced a brilliant piece of software called Delicious Library. Delicious Library allows users to catalogue their books, CDs and DVDs into an easily accessible database. What makes this different is armed with UPC or ISBN numbers and an internet connection the application will pull in all the appropriate information, the application also allows users with an Apple iSight to scan the UPC codes directly into the database. The programme also allows you to import other catalogues your may have created in another programme or have saved in a number of formats and if you have stuff that isn`t in Amazon database where Delicious Library pulls their information from your can enter it manually. For people who value their collections this is the ideal tool for managing and keeping track of your library.

Next time Delicious Library vs Books.

since i got here vic has been trying to get me to read the Jasper Fforde novels. i didn`t get to the first one until recently, not because i didn`t trust her judgement, but i tend to go off on a binge and the libraries in Nashville encourage me; although after three attempts, i`ve decided to wait for Neal Stephenson`s Quicksilver on paperback. I want to read the book but it`s entirely too cumbersome as a hardback.

in the interim, i`ve gone off on a Neil Gaiman binge, from the Sandman graphic novels to Neverwhere and Good Omens; which was co-authored by another one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett, who i`ve since introduced vic too; if the Nashville public library has it, i`m reading it, i still have Smoke and Mirrors and American Gods on the little table next to get to after The Eyre Affair.

Jasper Fforde has a writing style that`s similar to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett; light, easy to read, somewhat silly but an intelligent silliness, if that makes any sense. it`s hysterically funny, but only if your sense of humour generally involves word play and literary devices.

Neil Gaiman is part of my holy triumvirate of comicdom for me. the other two being Alan Moore and Frank Miller and in one of those amazing coincidences Salon, has an interview with Alan Moore today. [if you`re not a member you can just click through the very short ad and give it a read.]

edit: i`ve just finished reading the Alan Moore interview, stop reading this and go read it, the stupid ad to get a day pass is worth it. go. what are you waiting for.

Viva Nashvegas!

June 17, 2004

i lost my virginity last night. well of a sort.

I`ve been Nashvegas for three months now and i attended my first live show at the Ryman auditorium.

For those of you unfamiliar with Nashvegas it is one of the premiere live music towns in the world. there at least four stadium venues; the Starwood amphitheatre, the Gaylord entertainment complex, the Ryman auditorium and of course the Grand Old Opry, plus a myriad of smaller venues and it`s not just country music. Nashville is a must stop on all tours, from OzzFest, Dave Matthews and Prince to Hillary Duff and Simon & Garfunkle. Plus there are all this up and coming indy bands playing at bars all over the place. This weekend, the $5 music series, Dancin in the District kicks off with Cake.

I had the great fortune to start my Nashville live music experience at the Ryman with Keb` Mo`. It rocked. From the opening act to the final encore, I can`t remember the last time i enjoyed a show so thoroughly. the lights, the sound engineering, the performances, the professionalism.

i`ve always said, if i had to take up a second career path it would be sound engineering and not in studio, but live. there were a couple of minor hiccups during the opening act; Shelby Lynn`s first couple of songs, but for the rest of the night, the sound was perfectly balanced.

professionalism at a stage show is something that i always admire, i mean you already have the patrons there, you could just play an hour and leave and we, the patrons would just have to live with it. Keb` Mo` played for close to two and a half hours, interacting with the crowd, trying to acquiesce to all the requests shouted at him. what was also interesting to see was everyone was taking care of their hearing, ear plugs all around, none of this getting older and not being able to hear because of too many loud gigs.

all in all i would i have been glad to spend the night doing anything with vic, but being at the concert was icing on the cake. and we got home to more good news, which precludes me having to drive to Memphis at some ridiculous hour tomorrow morning.

edited for subject change.

We went to see Chronicles of Riddick last night. for free, no less. we had to stand outside for a while and of course yesterday was the muggiest day of the year, thus far. We also had to sit through Regal Entertainment`s The Twenty which i firmly believe is the reason the floor of movie theatres are sticky; it`s your brain leaking out of your ear. the twenty featured ads for the new Universal Studios Mummy themed ride, Evercrack 2, oh sorry Everquest 2, some new limited series on TNT about terrorism closely followed by an ad for the US Army. It boggles the mind, but we`re not here for that.

After the obligatory ad for Pioneer and the competition they`re hosting; what you didn`t think we got in to see a sneak peek of Riddick on my good looks and charm alone did you?

What can I say about the movie? It`s not high art and in light of some of the other crap that we`re being offered as entertainment this year, we could have done worse, plus it was free. It was entertaining, Judi Dench was great, wasted but great. Most of the special effects were quite good, particularly the matting for Dame Judi`s character. Vin Diesel looked good, did some cool shit, kicked some ass and in at least one scene had every woman in the audience`s panties soaked. Thandie Newton put in her best performance since… well ever, I don`t particularly like her, but I suppose seeing her in costumes that relied on an over abundance of cleavage and smouldering looks, she was damn near perfect. The end is pretty much what you expect when you walk into the theatre, the plot is fairly straight forward and the gaping holes are kept to a minimum.  

Chronicles of Riddick is not high art, it`s summer entertainment and could help you pass some air conditioned hours in the company of friends on afternoon, I should warn you however, if you have motion sickness problems or are in danger of psychotic flashbacks when strobes are involved I`d advise you to avoid some scenes in this movie.

i`m an avid reader. the power of words on the page fascinates me. actually the power of the word in any form. i`m a great fan of the oral traditional as well, although that`s an art form that`s slowly dying. i guess this could be the next form of story telling but that might just be really ambitious.

i have to say my favourite form of writing is the short story. it`s writing in it`s purest form, well in my humble opinion. some of the true masters include stephen king, philip k. dick, roald dahl, jeffery archer and isaac asmiov.

all of this preamble is to share some isaac asimov`s short fiction. i found them via metafilter. asimov enjoyed word play in his short fiction and all of these are puns.

As is well known, in this thirtieth century of ours, space travel is fearfully dull and time-consuming. In search of diversion, many crew members defy the quarantine restrictions and pick up pets from the various habitable worlds they explore.

Jim Sloane had a rockette, which he called Teddy. It just sat there, looking like a rock, but sometimes It lifted a lower edge and sucked in powdered sugar. That was all it ate. No one ever saw it move, but every once in a while, it wasn`t quite where people thought it was. There was a theory that it moved when no one was looking.

Bob Laverty had a heli-worm he called Dolly. It was green and carried on photosynthesis. Sometimes it moved to get into better light and when it did so it coiled its wormlike body and inched along very slowly like a turning helix.

One day, Jim Sloane challenged Bob Laverty to a race. ” My Teddy,” he said, “can beat your Dolly.”

“Your Teddy,” scoffed Laverty, “doesn`t move.” “Bet!” said Sloane.

The whole crew got into the act. Even the captain risked half a credit. Everyone bet on Dolly. At least she moved.

Jim Sloane covered it all. He had been saving his salary through three trips and he put every millicredit of it on Teddy.

The race started at one end of the grand salon. At the other end, a heap of sugar had been placed for Teddy and a spotlight for Dolly. Dolly formed a coil at once and began to spiral its way very slowly toward the light. The watching crew cheered it on.

Teddy just sat there without budging.

“Sugar, Teddy, Sugar,”  said Sloane, pointing. Teddy did not move. It looked more like a rock than ever, but Sloane did not seem concerned.

Finally, when Dolly had spiraled halfway across the salon, Jim Sloane said casually to his rockette, “if you don`t get out there, Teddy, I`m going to get a hammer and chip you into pebbles.”

That was when people first discovered that rockettes could read minds. That was also when people first discovered that rockettes could teleport.

Sloane had no sooner made his threat when Teddy simply disappeared from his place and reappeared on top of the sugar.

Sloane won, of course, and he counted his winnings slowly and luxuriously.

Laverty said bitterly, “You knew  the damn thing could teleport.”

“No, I didn`t,” said Sloane, “but I knew he would win. it was a sure thing.”

“How come?”

“It`s an old saying everyone knows, `Sloane`s Teddy wins the race.` ”

 

It was extremely unusual for a Foy to be dying on earth. They were the highest social class on their planet (which had a name that was pronounced-as nearly as earthly throats could make the sounds_Sortibackenstrete) and were virtually immortal.

Every Foy, of course, came to a voluntary death eventually, and this one had given up because of an ill-starred love affair, if you can call it a love affair where five individuals, in order to reproduce, must indulge in a yearlong mental contact. Apparently, the Foy had not fit into the contact after several months of trying, and it had broken his heart-or hearts, for he had five.

All Foys had five large hearts and there was speculation that it was this that made them virtually immortal. Maude Briscoe, earth`s most renowned surgeon, wanted those hearts. “It can`t be just their number and size, Ray,” she said to her chief assistant. “It has to be something physiological or biochemical. I must have them.”

“I don`t know if we can manage that,” said Ray Johnson. “I`ve been speaking to him earnestly, trying to overcome the Foy taboo against

dismemberment after death. I`ve had to lie to him, Maude.” “Lie?” “I told him that after death, there would be a dirge sung for him by

the world-famous choir led by Harold J. Gassenbaum. I told him that, by earthly belief, this would mean that his astral essence would be instantaneously wafted back, through hyperspace, to his home planet of Sortib-what`s-it`s-name–provided he would sign a release allowing you, Maude, to have his hearts for scientific investigation.”

“Don`t tell me he believed that.”

“Well, you know this modern attitude about accepting the myths and beliefs of intelligent aliens. It wouldn`t have been polite for him not to believe me. Besides, the Foys have a profound admiration for earthly science and I think this one is a little flattered that we should want his hearts. He promised to consider the suggestion and I hope he decides soon because he can`t live more than another, day or so, and we must have his permission by interstellar law, and the hearts must be fresh-Ah, his signal.”

Ray Johnson moved in with smooth and noiseless speed. “Yes?” he whispered, unobtrusively turning on the holographic recording device in case the Foy wished to grant permission.

The Foy`s large, gnarled, rather tree like body lay motionless on the bed. His bulging eyes palpitated-all five of them-as they rose, each on its stalk, and turned toward Ray. The Foy`s voice had a strange tone and the lipless edges of his open round mouth did not move, but the words formed perfectly. His eyes were making the Foyan gestures of assent as he said, “Give my big hearts to Maude, Ray. Dismember me for Harold`s choir. Tell all the Foys on Sortibackenstretethat I will soon be there.”

 

 

Monty Stein, in the year 3047, committed quite a heist and made off with quite a tidy sum. He was eventually caught, and the judge sentenced him to seven years imprisonment. However, the night before his impending incarceration, he calmly set his time machine for seven years and one day, and stepped through.

When he emerged in 3054, there was quite an uproar. Prosecution maintained that Monty Stein never actually served the sentence, since effectively no time passed for him. Defense stated that the effect was basically the same, since he lost seven years of living in society, or something to that effect. Both sides called each other names (as lawyers are wont to do).

Eventually, Stein was set free. Some say that the judge succumbed to peer pressure; others said that he simply couldn`t resist the temptation. For his decision, in full, was: … “A niche in time saves Stein.”

 

 

i`m also going to take this opportunity to repost what i believe to be the greatest short story ever written, the author is unknown, but has been attributed to the likes of somerset maugham and reproduced as a preface to a couple of short story collections :

death speaks

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.

I will go to Samarra and there death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse and the servant mounted it and dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

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