Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I got no strings to hold me down...

Growing up in Quebec city in the 70's, I watched many shows in their French versions and never even considered that there had been English versions. Any adult who grew up in this province will probably tell you they saw at least one episode of Goldorak, Albator, or Les Sentinelles de l'Air.

Little did we know that the rest of Canada knew these shows as Grandizer, Captain Harlock, or the Thunderbirds. The reason I'm thinking of this now is that I've been made aware (thanks be to Toast) that yet another TV show has been made into a movie.

I'm not sure how the Thunderbirds will work as a movie, especially since they're not using the string puppets. Granted, I remember always feeling a little creeped out about those string puppets for some reason, but at least the look and feel of the ships they fly around in has been preserved.

Oh... who am I kidding? Of course I'll go see it. Maybe I'll rent an episode of the original Thunderbirds before I go see the movie, but then again, it woud be the first time I see the Thunderbirds in English (instead of Les Sentinelles de l'Air).

A few years ago, I went to the Cinematheque to watch a two-hour Goldorak movie in French, which was really four episodes of Goldorak put back-to-back and in sequence. There was about 60 of us in the theatre and we were all about the same age. The nostalgia factor was great, but everyone in the theatre seemed to be thinking the same thing "This is so CHEESEY! I can't believe I used to get so excited about this cartoon!" That was a translated quote from the guy sitting next to me when we both looked at each other and rolled our eyes.

Ah... the filtering and adaptive powers of memory.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Big Savings

In my business, I occasionally have to write online help, which can be that stuff that appears when you select Contents and Index from the Help menu in your applications (whaddya mean you never open that menu?!?).

To be able to write this type of documentation, I need to use tools like Framemaker, Webworks, or RoboHelp. And if you think Windows or MS Office is expensive, you should see these pocketbook gougers.

Framemaker with Webworks can easily set you back $1200 CDN and RoboHelp Office can cost anywhere from $999 USD to $2000 USD. What's worse, RoboHelp gets upgraded several times a year, so if you blink too much, your copy of RoboHelp will be obsolete before you create two hyperlinks.

Personally, I think RoboHelp is so expensive because they pour so much money into their marketing and sales departments. If you only saw some of the full-colour postcards that get dropped at conferences and sent to potential buyers... Their marketing budget must rival their development budget.

So now I have to buy a copy of RoboHelp Office for one of my contracts, which means I'll have to shell out the $999 USD. I was checking out the RoboHelp website to make sure I needed Office and not Office Pro when I noticed this little piece of marketing trash at the top of the column:

You mean for only almost double the price, I could get 15 extra features? Oh joy... Oh bliss! What a fantastic deal! You must really like me to give me such a discount.

Fer fuck's sake. I've often said that if I could count, I wouldn't be a writer, but even I'm not this dim. It must be nice to have such a stranglehold on the industry that they can charge such ridiculous prices.

But a stranglehold is exactly what they do have on the documentation market, unfortunately. There are a few other similar products on the market, but they're all about the same price. Maybe making some affordable documentation tools is what my company should be getting into.

Apparently, people will pay just about anything for a good tool. There's a sound market strategy if I ever heard of one.

Hmmmmmm... *wringing capitalist hands eagerly*

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Pile on the Meat

After the Day from Hell (tm), I went out to meet the gang to celebrate Proust's birthday. We met up at Milsa, a brazilian resto on Bishop below de Maisonneuve. I must say I have never eaten so many varieties of meat in my life.

The way this place works is that you don't even place an order for anything. They bring you some salad, fried mushrooms, and rice, and then the meat starts piling on. Several waiters armed with one or two pronged swords start walking around to offereing different types of meat. If you accept the offer, a waiter will plonk the prongs down upon your plate and either slice off a hunk of meat or slide a chunk off the prong into your plate.

And they keep coming, sliding more and more beef into your plate until you sit back, pop the top button on your pants, and sigh happily. It's like a scene out of a Vegan's nightmare.

But it ain't cheap. Granted, we had a couple of bottles of wine and we were paying for Proust's meal, and we all had a little Brazilian cocktail to start, so it came out to about $60 each. But if you were to go there for a normal meal, it should set you back about $40 per person.

I won't be going there every second Tuesday, but it's on my list of cool places to visit for an interesting meal.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Back to the Old Dublin

I really meant to behave last night, really I did. But the Old Dublin was packed to the rafters with people, just like it was in the old days. All my friends were reasonable and left early. I'm sure they're doing a little triumphant dance this morning, gloating over my present troubles. How else can I explain this constant thumping sound in my noggin?

But before I go and make more tea, I just want to give a shout out to Aleya and Michelle who promised me they would take a gander at the blog today. I started telling them a fine Irish tale, but we got separated before I could finish it.

Tea... tea.. tea...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Look Raist... Bunnies

If you don't know what that means, you won't understand why:

Look Raist, squeeing fangirls!
You are Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance.
You smirk, torment and look dashing in black
velvet. Ultimate evil magic powers are an
additional bonus.

Which Cool Evil Guy Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ahh... the old Dragonlance series. I have many of those from my science fiction days. I keep hoping someone will make a movie based on that series.
Parade Day 2004

As it is tradition with my Montreal Posse, we went out on Sunday to watch the parade and enjoy the company of thousands of Irish Wannabes (pronounced wah-NAH-bees). As our meteorological luck would have it, we had another lovely sunnyish day (for the fifth or sixth year in a row by my reckoning).

Kensington and I met up for brunch at a friend's place in NDG and then headed down to Ste. Catherine's street near Crescent to meet up with Aengus and Drew. The parade itself was okay, with lots of bands and hastily constructed floats. But there's something about having kids with you (Aengus' son and Drew's son) that makes it alot more fun.

After the parade was done, Kensington, Drew, and I followed the parade out to get to the Old Dublin pub. For Kensington and I, having a pint at the Old Dublin is a bit of nostalgia. Back when the Old D was the only pub in town, we spent many an evening there listening to Brendan Nolan play ("Seven Old Ladies!", "No!!!").

We actually spent more time at the Old D than I expected, but that's because we ran into the vivacious Angelica. She was being hailed as the queen that she was by a troupe of American firefighters (some from New York, some from New Hampshire). They had just spent the last few hours marking their territory around Angelica, so they were none too pleased about having two hot Montreal men show up, which pleased me to no end.

At one point, Angelica sat at a booth and invited Kensington and I to sit with her. Almost immediately, the claws came out of these Americans and a couple of them lumbered their way to us. "Who the fuck are you to sit there?" one of them growled (let's call him Biff).

Angelica waved them away with a royal swish of her hand "They're with me guys. They're with me."

They obeyed her, but only grudgingly. But Biff stayed there and swayed uncertainly, pointing a finger at me. "Well don't get comfortable in that seat. And by the way, FUCK YOU!"

It's amazing the amount of judgement that can happen in a split second. Here I am, sitting in my favorite watering hole that I've been visiting for over ten years, being addressed by some yahoo who has been here all of three times in his life, telling me to watch my step. I don't mind telling you that if Biff decided to take me down, it would be no contest. He's a firefighter. There's no way I could take him. I'm not sure I could even take a librarian suffering from a head cold.

But here he is, challenging me. What do I do? If I piss him off, the whupping I'll get will put me in the hospital. But if I don't react in the right way, Biff will be in my face all night trying to provoke me. A rumble in the Old Dublin is a bad scene anyway you cut it.

So my split second decision was made. I squared off against him, looked him in the eye, a leveled a finger back at him "No man, FUCK YOU."

I could feel Kensington tense up next to me, I could see surprise in Biff's eyes. His buddies stopped what they were doing, waiting for his reaction and their cue. The moment hung there between us while Biff mulled it over in his mind. Then his hand shot forward and stopped in mid-air, wating.

"Good answer," he said. I shook his hand firmly and he lumbered back off towards the bar. I looked at Kensington who rolled his eyes.

It's a guy thing. It may sound stupid and infantile to many of you, but it's how men relate to each other. We can fight against it in the interests of social grace, but you can't completely wipe out the male instinctive response.

Then again, maybe I just need to get beaten up to remind me of the risks I take sometimes.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Attn: Comic Book Gurus

I was reading an article about the Golden Age Sandman that made me want to read this series. I was briefly introduced to Wesley Dodds via Jack Knight (Starman). The character has since then stayed with me and I've always been curious to know more.

I took a trip over to the comic shop to empty out my bag and asked them if they had any trade paperbacks from Gaiman's Sandman series. I was directed to a couple of trades that they had left, but flipping through the book, there was no mention of Wesley Dodds. It was someone other pasty-faced guy (Morpheus?). Drat.

Searching the Net, I found that the only part of the Sandman series that does deal with Dodds was called Sandman Midnight Theatre. Can any of you Comic Book Gurus confirm that this is the Wesley Dodds/Dian Belmont storyline that I'm looking for?

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Visual Confusion

I was just going through the MSN news (or "The World According to Bill" as I like to think of it) when I noticed this picture. It was link to an article on the top 10 dog names (slow news day, I guess).

Now I'm sure this is just me, and I think this is supposed to be a dog, but I can't see it. All I can make out are the legs, but what kind of nuclear accident transformed this hound into the misshapened horror it was when this shot was taken? I'm trying to analyze the orifices in the head to get some point of reference, but it's not working. Does anyone else see a dog's head, or am I having issues with my mother again?

Speaking of confusion, this game confused Toast a while back. It reminds me of that Wesley Save the Enterprise Again episode of Star Trek where everyone gets addicted to a virtual headset game. You're not quite sure why its so addictive, it just is. I've play the game a few times and gotten as many different results.

My confusion knows no bounds, as usual.
The Results are In

It's official: we're a hit! We didn't sell out the hall, but we had an audience of about 130 people, which according to Mike Burns, is a bit of a record in this town (you're usually lucky to approach 100 people). The crowd was enthusiastic, attentive, and responsive. After the evening, I spoke with many people who really enjoyed the show, and what was even more impressive was that many people there had never seen a storyteller before!

Nothing really went wrong that night. Unfortunately, we weren't able to tape the evening 'cause the caretaker didn't know how to work the sound system. We were lucky to just get the microphones to work. Fortunately, the Unitarian Church hall is designed for acoustic quality, so everyone could be heard, microphones or not. The stories flowed well, the music was fun and energetic (thanks to the Agincourt Trio!), and the crowd was with us all the way.

After the show was done, a few of us went to the Orchard for pints. I was bouncing off the walls with adrenaline, but a pint and a half later, I was crashing. I had to beg off early (I almost never do that) and headed home. As I was leaving the pub, a gentleman stopped me, thanked me for the great show, and confessed that when I finished my story (an adaptation of Wilde's Selfish Giant), he had a tear in his eye.

I made grown men cry! Score!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Big Night

So tonight's the big night: The Irishman's Tale at the Unitarian Church of Montreal (5035 de Maisonneuve, Vendome metro) at 7:30 pm. I've been getting calls all this week from folks all over the city, asking about the show, where they can get tickets, and whatnot. It has the potential to sell out (200 folks). *crossing fingers*

If this works, I already have plans to do another benefit show for a bigger charity like the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Lakeshore General, or the Missing Children's Network. It would be great to be able to fill a hall like the Oscar Peterson (600 seats) and raise money to a good cause.

I just want to be able to tell stories to a larger audience. If we can draw in more people by making it a benefit show and raise some much needed funds, then all the better.

Wish us luck tonight! Oooh... I'm already getting the pre-stage jitters!

Thursday, March 11, 2004


New chair has finally arrived. Bureau en Gros told me they'd deliver it on Wednesday night, but they were a no-show. They finally delivered it this afternoon and what a difference. Yay!

Now I just need to put my shelves together and find a place for them. No more books on the floor!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Mental note: those kneel chairs that are supposed to be better for your back will improve your posture while destroying your knees. Apparently, you're only supposed to kneel in this chair for a couple of hours a day instead of pretty much all day. Owie.

I'm getting my new chair delivered tonight along with a much needed set of bookshelves that I have suddenly realized I don't have space for. Must do some rearranging in my apartment.

Actually, none of my bookshelves seem to match. Does that add charm to my apartment or is it an assault upon the eye? I never know.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Subconscious Blogging

I had a couple of strange, yet common, dreams last week. We've all had these types of dreams before, right? The ones where you find yourself at work or on the street clad in nothing but your boxers or less wondering "How the hell did this happen?"

One dream I had I was walking home from work and I when I got down to MacDonald and Queen Mary, I suddenly realized that I was wearing only my boxer shorts. I immediately jumped into a bush and tried to figure out how I was going to get home without being arrested when I woke up. The second dream was that I was at a costume party, and for some reason, I was wearing a sandwich board that looked like a playing card (a bit of Alice in Wonderland).

Both times, as I struggled to deal with these new situations in my dreamstate, I said to myself "I'm going to blog about this when I get home."

So here I am. Therapeutical blogging! Bueller? Bueller? Freud?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

On the Radio... Again

About six years ago, I used to co-host a radio show (on Radio Centre Ville 102.3) called Keltic Heartbeat (we took the show over from Cairn MacGregor). The focus of the show was on the local celtic scene in Montreal and we featured events and had invited guests. I hosted that show for about a year and it was fun while it lasted.

When that show ended, Janet Stubbert took over our timeslot and started the Scottish Voice show. To her credit, she's really gone to town with the show! It's been running steadily since then and can even be heard on the Internet.

I've been invited to join Janet on the show at 1 pm on Saturday to talk about our upcoming storytelling show on March 12th. It's going to be weird going back to that station after all these years.

Monday, March 01, 2004


I was riding in from Quebec city this morning on the train (spent the weekend with the folks, it was my Dad's 61st birthday). We were approaching Drummondville, the countryside was white with snow and impenetrable with fog. I lay my head back and stared out into the white expanse as the countryside zoomed past, some Richard Seguin in my mp3 player.

Life's not that complicated, I thought. I closed my eyes as the train jostled on towards Montreal.