fawny: le «blog personnel»


2003.11.30a – Obviously it’s unfair to pick on Details (“for men”). In truth, it was merely a ripe plum for the picking, Danny Peres having claimedDetails is a magazine for men – all men,” including the inverts. They’re rather botching the job, but at least they’re trying.

What about Esquire?

I’ve read it for ages, in part because I remain a fan of Roger Black’s overcomplex, super-tight hodgepodge-esque magazine design. But interestingly, Roger Black, as I tediously remind people, is one of the very few out gay-male homosexualist graphic designers on the planet. And with Chip Kidd, he’s also the most famous. Roger Black is nowhere to be seen on the current Esquire masthead. The graphic sensibility is nonetheless clearly his, no matter how much design director John Korpics tweaks it.

So why pick on Esquire? Because it’s the most consent-manufacturingly heterosexualist men’s magazine there is. Not even Maxim tries so very hard to paper over its queer instincts. It’s the goddamned pinups, the centrefolds, the “Women We Love” features, and a “Ten Things You Don’t Know About Women” column invariably illustrated by a grinning starlet in an overtight top, that has added up to so many unknown facts that straight men really must be from Mars. It’s girls-girls-girls as far as the eye can see.

But come on, people. Even straight guys spend time with each other. And the rest of the pictorial spreads in Esquire? Guys in suits. In fact, guys in barely-updated suits. (Look at “By Invitation Only: A Special Promotion for Esquire Readers,” p. 140. One woman plus 19 guys in suits, or, as the copy calls them, “suites.” Many of the guys are hockey players.)

It’s a magazine for successful-too-early young businessmen with too much money on their hands – like the hockey players in the “special promotion”; what reader wouldn’t want to play in the NHL? But those readers also have too many unsettling sexual fantasies vying for conscious attention. These Freudian skirmishes never resolve, just as Esquire never resolves its twin voyeuristic desires to look at pinups and centrefolds and also successful-too-early guys in suits.

And the suits? Esquire is all about tiny upgrades to “classic” fashion tropes that won’t rock the Establishment boat. Slightly newer suits with slightly brighter shirts and certainly bolder ties, but no Alexander McQueen or Cory Doctorow–style techno-fetish gear. There is but a single way to dress, just as there is only one kind of body to look at, except inasmuch as there’s another kind available when it is useful to illustrate the single way to dress.

Esquire, through its overcompensation, spends too much time in its closet, alongside a lot of tweed, bespoke wool, and a passel of really sharp silk ties.

I have to wonder what life is like for the gay staff at Esquire. I know an evolutionary role of ours is to enhance the fuckability of chicks, but assuaging “straight” guys is another thing entirely.

So: Just how gay is a “Man at His Best”? December 2003 issue:

Bare chests in this issue

Must be open to the waist to be enumerated.

‘How Not to Be a Metrosexual’

Wow, a magazine devoted to wardrobe and grooming suddenly decides all that shit is gay, teaching you how to be the uncouth slob you must have been trying to change from. Why else buy the magazine in the first place?

Real men can’t spell EXFOLIATE.

James Oliver Cury, a metrosexualist name right there, writes:

You never though it could happen to you. You started out with a single pomade, and now you’ve become softer than that kale-scented man lotion you rub under your eyes three times a day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Actually, there is. So if you’re interested in salvaging even an iota of your fast-fading masculinity, use the chart below to convert the frilly potions crowding your medicine cabinet into no-nonsense toiletries.

(Edited selections)
Metro Hetero
Face-cleansing glycerine bar Irish Spring (“For extra toughness, slice the bar with a big knife like they do in the commercials”)
All-over hydrating shampoo Head & Shoulders 2 in 1
Ultra-shine sculpting putty Royal Crown Hair Dressing
Nourishing cream Lubriderm
Alcohol-free refreshing sticks Speed Stick
Luxurious shaving butter Barbasol shaving cream
Soothing shaving balm with eucalyptus extract Skin Bracer (“After-shave... should reek like napalm and sting like hell”)
Sunless tanning lotion A hard day’s work in the sun (“Get off your ass, you pasty-faced wuss!”)

Evidently real men buy Procter & Gamble. Personally, I swear by Dandruff Control Pert Plus. Surprise, James Oliver.

Putting ‘gay’ in a headline

An illustrated piece on movie blurbs – they seem eerily plausible – includes this pairing of blurb and retort:

“A rare romantic comedy that works for men as well as women”
– Jim O’Brien, Cleveland’s News Channel 3, on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
As long as the men are gay.

Girls and fags watching the same movies. A worst-case scenario for straight guys, I guess. But that selfsame formula, abetted by an unending sequence of untruths about gay life, has made Queer as Folk’s backers rich.


Inverts have little use for vasectomies, unless we have extracurricular affairs with the girlies.

Heterosexualist writer James McManus writes an exceedingly vulgar article entitled “Pearl Jam” about his odyssey toward a vasectomy. The style is intended to be frank and unapologetic. It is merely embarrassing, and contains this clunker: “[N]ature clearly intends a vas deferens between a man and a woman.”

I am just trying to assemble a mental image here. Do you pull it out and rub it between you? Or do you manœuvre your pudendum so that, when viewed from left to right, the order of presentation is MANVAS DEFERENSWOMAN?

Or is the intent to say “Nature clearly intends the vas deferens as a conduit between a man’s spermatozoa and their only natural destination, a woman”? With none of this “damming” of a vas deferens that vasectomies do?

Single men and invert men have relatively well-functioning vas deferens. If we’re somehow putting those to waste, I’d hate to hear what McManus has to say about all those eggs, taken from each woman’s unrefillable supply, that expire every month. He’s almost Vatican in his construction of a sole intended use for the reproductive apparatus.

Why do I think he’s so judgemental? Well, I can be myself, so it does take one to know one. But still (and no doubt further in the intended but unachieved frank-and-unapologetic vein), it is outright shocking that McManus outs a relative as being seriously ill. And he does a lot of talking about his second wife’s health, too. Quite possibly he has permission, but does it particularly matter when the entire theme of the article is McManus’s sperm count? Are there tawdrier imaginable contexts in which to out your relatives’ poor health?

The article is repeatedly off and inappropriate in a surprising constellation of ways. We’re supposed to have editors to avoid this sort of thing.

Further, the allegedly-qualified sex columnist Stacey Grenrock Woods – photographed, “Ten Things You Don’t Know”–style, in tight tank top with laced-up bust – answers a question related to testicle size and “potency” with a host of McManus-esque vulgarisms. She volleys another zinger at the light-in-the-vas-deferens set: “[Y]ou can expect a very gradual decrease in size that comes with age. This is due to testosterone loss and often accompanies an increase in what’s called ‘having brunch.’ ” Of course, straight guys have brunch all the time, where, inevitably, they eat quiche.

We know what these two writers are trying to say. All they end up is trying.

Bonus question for TOEFL students: Pronounce ‘Rudolf Nureyev’

Adrienne Miller’s intro to a short story from Colum McCann fluffs McCann’s novel Dancer, “the brilliantly-fictionalized story of the life of the incorrigible Russian ballet genius Rudolf Nureyev.” Fluffing comes to an abrupt halt with the following proviso: “[A]nd even if your interest in ballet is somewhat, well, limited, it won’t be after you’ve read this amazing novel.”

Straight guys aren’t gonna buy that. A middlebrow critic’s making a genteel bullshit case for the solidity of some upper-middle-class artistic confection or other is the province of Esquire film reviewer Tom Carson, whose attempts to persuade us that stinkers like Company Man are unacknowledged “gems” always strikes me as overpolite cocktail-party chitchat, where the listener adopts a forced smile and pretends to go along.

Want to run for president?

A “parody” Democratic Candidate Application Form by Doug Lansky lists the following options. Choose one.

Political issues
  • No gay weddings; no gays in the military.
  • I’m not personally afflicted with gayness, but I don’t mind contributions from those who are, or even shaking hands with them.
  • I’m fine with gays portraying style consultants.

This is the goods. This shows some knowledge and wryness. And of course it’s on the psychologically-appropriate last page. You can hint at the truth – as you’re walking out the door.  

2003.11.30b – Amusingly, both Details and Esquire this month list their Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation. Esquire’s is bigger, boys: 871,200 vs. 577,522. But the gay magazine for straight readers is almost as big a schmoozer as the gay magazine for closeted readers, with 19,171 free copies of Details vs. 19,735 of Esquire. I guess homosexualism does need promoting.

(Mincing down memory lane: Is anyone out there old enough to remember when these U.S. Postal Service–mandated circulation reports actually carried the home addresses of magazine directors and publishers’ original signatures? Both are now simply fudged.)  

2003.11.28a – Big Danny Peres seems to be butching things up a little down at Fairchild (aren’t fair children more apt to be queer?) as Details (“for men”) produces its least-gay issue since I began these readings of magazine’s pink-coloured entrails.

However, “least gay” does not mean “most straight.”

December 2003 issue:

Cover boy

Tom Cruise, for heaven’s sake, appearing all filthy and long-haired (manly, yes) behind the giant hed TOM CRUISE SETS THINGS STRAIGHT.

Does he? Why would he need to?

Jeff Gordimer’s piece, obviously written on the basis of a single heavily-stage-managed interview, p. 125:

For years, both before and after his 10-year marriage to Nicole Kidman disintegrated toward the beginning of 2001, Cruise has been forced to swat away gnatlike whisperings that he’s gay – something that he describes as an irritating media-perpetuated fiction.... “And finally we were in London one day and this guy wrote this outrageous thing, and I’m not going to repeat it, it’s not worth repeating,” he says. The Express, a British tabloid, had suggested that his marriage was a sham; Cruise wrote the paper a letter demanding an apology. “And they basically wrote me a letter back telling me to go stick it,” he says, “I remember that morning I sat there at the table, and I looked at Nic, and I went, ‘That’s it. That’s it. The line is now drawn....’ ” [Lawyer Bert Fields was sicced on] a gay-porn star who was quoted as saying that he and Cruise had had a fling (and later would up strenuously denying the whole thing), and... a man, known in legal documents as Michael Davis, who sent news releases to the media claiming that he had something salacious on videotape. (No such tape ever surfaced.) “...It’s like, this stuff comes in? Bert? Just sue. Just do it. Sue sue sue. Do it. Go. Go. Go. Go. I’m busy. I’ve got my kids, I’ve got my company.” [...]

Cruise says the questions about whether he’s gay should finally fade away. “Am I? No. Of course I’m not. If I was, how am I going to win the lawsuits? If it’s the truth, it’s the truth. Who cares? If it’s true, it’s true, but it’s not.”

This could be an object lesson in learning to ask the right question. Obviously Tom Cruise isn’t gay. But will someone someday get around to asking “Are you bisexual?” or “Have you ever had sex with a man?”

Remember, if it’s true, it’s true.

Nonetheless, I loved him as Lestat.

Oh, and Jeff? Nice one with the turned phrase “wheelchair-bound and howling at the prison of immobility in Born on the Fourth of July.” I saw that movie and quite plainly remember Tom Cruise getting around no problem in his wheelchair, which had no straps or garters that “bound” him to it.

Obviously, to the writer of this story, being crippled is worse than being queer. The latter has to be repudiated; the former is simply a given.

Bare chests in this issue

Must be open to the waist to be enumerated.

Both are improbably, inexplicably, earth-shatteringly low scores. Has someone figured out that straight guys prefer tits to pecs?

Advertising analysis

Across the gutter from a rather chiaroscuro photo of Tom Cruise’s muscular crossed forearms – pros will be aware that the act of crossing your arms makes forearms, even mine, look bigger – sits a full-page advertisement for the long-delayed HBO adaptation of Angels in America.

When I saw it on Broadway, street traffic was audible through the nearby wall and the midwestern housewives to my left reacted to the play’s onslaught with mumblings of “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” (The last time I’d heard that was the train pulling into Montreal, with some old American who’d led an unhappy life marveling at the neon sign on the Farine Five Roses building, three words she did not quite understand.)

What I didn’t get was why Angels in America was so popular. I could get over the writerly touches like the improbable character name of Prior Walter, but what I couldn’t get over was how much of the play was simply old hat to a queer audience. Oh, but that’s the secret: It’s all completely out of the blue to straight people. They’re always the last to know.

Angels in America the pièce de théâtre was subhedded “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” which phrase is notably absent from the print campaign. Perhaps it’s a bit superfluous when TV shows now have “queer” in their titles. Perhaps that also means Angels in America le film is a bit superfluous.

This month’s instalment of “Gay or Eurotrash?”

It really is a monthly feature now. “Gay or Magician?” is, however, the weakest instalment yet.

“One hides in closets [steamtrunks, shurely?!]; the other comes out of them. From the Las Vegas stage to the South Beach sands, one thing is for real: The gay man and the gallant magician deal from the same deck of cards. Blow out the hair. Pluck up the collar. Bedazzle something. Because there’s no business like show business.” Good way to end your dek with a cliché there, writer-with-supremely-butch-name-of–Whitney McNally.

Shoulder pads
Creates the mirage of added height [solidity, shurely?!]. And how else to protect the neck from catty animals?
Underneath [covering, shurely?!] the handcuffs, codpieces, and sequins, a sensible jacket is the only way to go.

And what’s so wrong with Cumming?

Mickey Rapkin writes a featurette on Dominic West. Who?

This is, after all, a guy who, as a teenager, spent a night in a Mexican jail for crashing a local Club Med. He also trekked the 450-mile Camino de Santiago across northern Spain and did Design for Living on Broadway a few years back just to spend time with his mates in New York. (The four-month Manhattan holiday did come at a cost, namely having to make out with Alan Cumming eight times a week.)

That must surely leave lingering doubts, though, which Rapkin must immediately erase:

And after an exhausting shoot for The Wire, he’d rather sit on a beach with his five-year-old daughter than [do whatever else actors who kiss men professionally but sire offspring in their free time might be apt to do].

Where there’s tranny, there’s Augusten Burroughs

Actually, no, not this month. We’ll get to Details’s house nigger shortly. He always merits his own section.

Anyway, “Suicide by Stripper” by Scott Omelianuk gives helpful tips on sabotaging your hetero relationship through an Affleck-style lap dance.

Come on, who are you going to believe: The talent who won shared an Oscar for Good Will Hunting or the chick whose greatest accomplishment is putting her legs behind her head for $10 tips? Don’t answer that. The key word here is plausible: Recall that all Eddie Murphy had to do to survive his tranny transgression was insist he was only giving the waddaya-call-it a ride home.

What do you call “it”? Well, what did Omelianuk call “it”? “Tranny,” I seem to recall. Does he consider trannies human?

What our Uncle Tom is up to this month

This month, Augusten Burroughs leaps from acting as pre-approved queer mouthpiece for the prejudices of well-groomed straight guys to writing like a gay correspondent at a straight sex magazine. Like a ghostwriter for 1970s-era Penthouse Forum, in other words.

I am aware that queer people are now the official sex advisors of straight people (Savage, Sasha, inter alia), but to give credible sex advice requires you to divest yourself of ulterior motives, like tricking your straight friends into uttering phrases that titillate you.

Burroughs’s piece, with the screamingly-novel headline “Talk Dirty to Me,” also carries the subhed “The secret to an improved sex life lies in using your mouth – but not for what you’re thinking.” What would I be thinking? Details’ Uncle (or is it Auntie) Tom taunts his heterosexualist friend, rather as David Sedaris surreptitiously did in his youth.

“Well, one day, just out of the blue, my wife opens up the drawer on the bedside table and she pulls out this thing.”

I know exactly what he means, but I want to hear him say the word out loud. “What thing?” I ask innocently.

“You know. A dildo. The kind that strap on.”

The rest is simply embarrassing, uniting terms like Amish, Mormon, stick your finger up my, and your mother, whore within four short paragraphs.

Still not spiced-up enough?

Clearly, Details-approved heterosexualism is in crisis. But if strap-on dildos aren’t enough to spice up your heterosexualist love life, there’s always porn. Another devastatingly original service piece here from Details (“for men”). It’s unbylined, but it reads like Burroughs.

[Elizabeth says,] “And then this other guy walked onscreen and got into bed and he sticks his finger [Burroughs-style?] up the guy’s ass? And all of a sudden Michael starts shouting ‘Oh, my God!’ and then he comes.... I mean, we’d been watching for like 20 minutes, but as soon as the video turned gay, Michael got so aroused that he came. He’s gay, isn’t he?” [...]

“No,” I said firmly.... Who knows what Michael was looking at. Her tits jiggling, her hair whipping around, his dick ramming her. Every straight guy gets off once in a while watching some pornbabe get plowed by a stud.

And what is he looking at when that happens? The jiggling, the whipping, the ramming?

Do I feel another cliché coming on? How about “sexuality is fluid”?

Human sexuality is a broad spectrum, not a study in black and white....

I’d told Elizabeth I didn’t think her husband was gay because of the porn incident. But I’d neglected to mention that I did think he was gay because only a homo would live with white shag carpeting in a mid-century-modern Hollywood Hills home.

Gay or Eurotrash?

‘Got screwed in the business’

Details is so cutting-edge, the only rock star it can think to interview is Iggy Pop. What about someone from, say, the Dandy Warhols?

Pete Wells:

Interviewers always ask if you slept with Bowie, if you slept with Jagger. [Leading the witness] And you didn’t...
No, darling.
But did those rumours float around because there was a lot of bisexuality in rock at the time?
There was, and continues to be, a pansexuality in rock and roll. [Sexuality is fluid?] And it works in all sorts of mysterious ways that currently would cause embarrassment in American frat-boy circles. If there’s a guy who most of the guys in America think, “Yeah, he’s cool! His band’s pretty cool!” it actually means they think he’s foxy! [Can a guy even be “foxy”?]His look, and the way he moves, and the sound of his band make them feel really sexy. Also, marijuana makes people think in sensual ways, so even people who aren’t gay will begin to dress with more care... and start to think, “Gee, isn’t my hair lovely?” It was more like that rather than the nitty-gritty of man-on-man sexuality.

Cheerleaders are hot

Bart Blasengame carries out an elaborate act of bearding as he pretends to write a photo-heavy feature on male cheerleaders. In fact, the entire story, from its teaser on p. 121 to the section break on p. 147 – both of which read “Give me an f! Give me an a! Give me a... [g]!” – is an excuse to posit that guys who lead cheers are guys who are queer. (Do they use strap-ons, or do they at least watch porn?)

Some are queer, certainly. One writes his own screamingly neurotic Weblog. But, you know, the numbers, not to mention the sociology, just aren’t there. We’ve got too many guy cheerleaders for them all to be gay (27 men and 72 women, in the article’s case history). They’re too well-built, they read as too straight, and they spend much too much time around homophobic football teams (well, stereotypically homophobic: Like most kids today, the younger players likely don’t give a shit anymore) to really be queer.

But let’s watch Blasengame pick at the scab, as Barts like to do.

...stigma. When it comes to pro sports, big boys don’t do cartwheels unless they’re a little light in their Nikes.

“The Ravens have male cheerleaders,” Ryp11 writes on a Ravens message board, “because all of their male fans are fags.”

That’s a lot of fags.

“I’ve heard the gay thing before,” says Kashan Fields, a fourth-year member of the Titans’ yell squad. “It’s never said to your face, of course, but it still comes up. They think being a cheerleader makes you weak in some way. But you know, they couldn’t do what we do.” [...]

The infusion of beefcake was also meant to cultivate the female fan base, which makes up 38% of the NFL’s 120 million television viewers. “The reaction from the ladies,” [cheerleading-squad founder Tina] Simijoski said, “was ‘Why aren’t the male cheerleaders less covered?’ ” [...]

“One of the male-dominated rock stations here used to razz our guys on the air,” Simijoski says, “But after a while even they had to admit that our guys were the smart ones. They’re around 42 women in a locker room? They’re getting more than anyone.”

They have unisex dressing rooms now?

Anyway, we have a new book out with photos along the lines of those accompanying Blasengame’s piece. I think cheerleaders look nothing short of fabulous in still photographs, and no male athletes short of amateur wrestlers look more solid. Statuesque, even. Literally so, given the poses.

As with the banister Magenta slides down in Rocky Horror, it’s the girl cheerleaders who are lucky.

Bonus question for TOEFL students: Pronounce ‘Mekhi Phifer’

Unbylined interview with Mekhi Phifer concludes thus:

When was the last time you...
had unclean thoughts?
Like being in the middle of a Madonna and Britney Spears make-out session? I’m not the Pope; it’s all clean to me.

What if it were Eminem and Ixuxsxtxixn Limbertake, Mekhi?

Is it “all” still clean then?  

Previously: NovemberOctoberSeptember

2003.11.28b – The December Details table:

Brand of Television or Term from the Matrix Trilogy?
Name TV Matrix
Toshiba Yes No
Niobe No Yes
Oracle No Yes
Sanyo Yes No
Morpheus No Yes
Magnavox Yes No
Zenith Yes No
Zion No Yes
Trinitron Yes No
Trinity No Yes
Neo No Yes
NEC Yes No  

2003.11.28c – Ich kannot Deutsch, but that doesn’t mean ich kannot be translated into Deutsch.

How to Save Web Accessibility from Itself
Wie die Barrierefreiheit vor sich selbst gerettet werden kann

Thanks to Andreas K. Bittner for translation and Tomas Caspers for HTMLification.

Best translator’s note in the whole shebang? “Anmerkung des Übersetzers: Im Original heißt es etwas deftiger: habits of half-arsed hypothesizing.”  

2003.11.28d – “Pseuds Corporate,” Private Eye, 14–27 November 2003, p. 25:

The analysis of the Staff Perceptions indicated that a broadly-supported staff aspiration was for greater clarity and consistency in communication at Mayfield.

As one part of moving this agenda on, the Senior Leadershp Team produced a briefing paper in respect of outgoing correspondence. I picked another strand in briefing when I outlined how we might move toward greater clarity and consistency in respect of incoming school correspondence while minimizing workload for colleagues but still securing our sought-after “vertical” and “lateral” communication and consultation [continues]

John Adam, Headmaster, Mayfield School, Portsmouth, in letter to staff  

2003.11.28e – I visited my Chinese-Jamaican dermatologistrix. Her Jamaicanness always shocks the hell out of the FOB Chinese who show up expecting her to speak their language, only to hear Caribbean English. She diagnosed me with the following:

The rosacea is so subtle I never noticed it and still can’t unless I poke and prod. The nonspecific spot is nestled within a rosaceal patch. Along with the angioma on my forehead (reminiscent of an Indian bindi) and the proliferating liver spots, I am turning into a pizza.

And all these “cosmetic” spots? Well, I can have them frozen and/or “lasered” off, at up to $200 a pop, with no guarantee it won’t leave a scar.

But the kicker?

Everyone, but everyone asks me if I’m Lebanese, “Arab,” Portuguese, Greek, Italian, “Middle Eastern,” or “Mediterranean.” Apparently they look at me and decide I am “dark.” (Well, can I also be tall and handsome, then? All three at once?)

But my Chinese-Jamaican dermatologistrix, in explaining it is not all that unexpected I should have rosacea, declared “You’re very fair.” “I am?” I asked, shocked. “Yes. If I had to type you, I’d say you were Type I or II.” It’s hard to find an explanation of those “types” online, but Fitzpatrick skin types I and II are the very fairest skin colours. Think Boris Becker or Daniel Alfredsson. I am clearly not a Type I (no freckles), but I can buy the expert assessment that I’m a Type II.

This is like finding out I’ve been aboriginal all along or something. Why was this not obvious before? I guess if you’re dark- and abundantly-haired, people project.  

2003.11.25 – I don’t exactly know what relaxation is. When my eyes get tired from staring at screens all day, I have to prompt myself to do something different. I go to the gym or take a nap. Oddly, I never read.

Tonight I rediscovered the burqa look that was so popular with Raoul. Three pillows, Vellux® blanket, Adidas® polypro sweater, matte-black toque, Ritter Sport®, water in Nalgene®, and two of seven remote controls on the bearskin rug, whose dander, as if on cue, triggered four straight sneezes (1×1×1×1 sneezes). Bearskin is the new black and toque is the new burqa when it’s cold out (and in) and it’s time to watch one’s eBay score of the U.S. Miramax pressing of Hard Core Logo, with morally- if not entirely-correct Captions, Inc. captions. None of this Canadian shite. (Two flat-out errors and a lot of fudging of song lyrics. Fudged captions: “You don’t know shit from good chocolate, babies.”)

It’s essentially the real-life story of Hugh Dillon, a drug addict who fucks guys. The last time I saw him was at Nataraj on Bloor Street. It was the first luncheon of the WAI f2f. The door opened, for some reason I looked its way, and I spotted Hugh Dillon, who smiled at me as though I had completely brightened his day. A beautiful smile. I did my usual thing with celebrities and didn’t stare. I should have. Now that he’s off heroin, he needs bottoming. Joe Dick.

I watched the film. I saw it in the Beach several years ago. An unpleasant time, cold, damp. (Tonight it was only cold.) “Turn it up!” a couple of guys in the theatre had hollered.

I watched the film. It’s very solid. I’ve also read Hard Core Roadshow by that punk Baker and Hard Core Logo the comic book. Not the book book yet. That could be the next step, actually.

I watched the film and I “identified.”

‘John-- John Oxenberger’

He jots in his notebook, he can put a sentence together, he’s got a full head of hair. I am John Oxenberger.

And best of all, the title Hard Core Logo is weirdly magical. 4×4×4 letters, 1×1×2 syllables. Turner makes it look easy.

The book is the next step. Definitely.  

2003.11.23 – B.W. Honeycutt, one of the few known invert graphic designers, was asleep at the wheel Ten Years Ago in Spy. You wouldn’t believe the errors of small capitals and the neutral apostrophes.

And also: What does hoity-toity arriviste doorstopper Avenue have in common with Spy? Hint: It rhymes with “advertorial.”  

2003.11.21a – After having gotten captioning right ten years ago in separate products, Apple finally upgraded DVD Player under Panther to display closed captions. Except it doesn’t work.  

Superspecial instant-message addition!

I work redheads and accessibility into everything I do.
nice to know you’re so consistent, dear
Two-track-minded, shurely?!
we’ll always have death, taxes, England, and Joe Clark talking about accessibility and redheads
to look forward to in our dotage.
in the Shady Acres Rest Home for Superannuated Online Personalities, yes  

2003.11.21bJohn d’Addario (no relation):

It’s our job to go out there to the Internet and find what we think is interesting and get it all into one place, so people reading us won’t have to spend four hours a day finding good porn sites.

Now, who was it who broke this scoop originally?  

(See also: Grauniad.)

2003.11.16 – An 8500 and a G4 with, respectively, three and four monitors. Douglas McNutt (no relation):

The G4 [at right] is running Jaguar, which I use for development and Web-surfing with Safari.

All important work, E-mail, finances, billing are done on the 8500 where Microbesoft Excel is allowed to run in OS 9.1. The G4 is MS-free, but it does run a bunch of Linux stuff. The picture doesn’t show my Intel Linux machine which doesn’t have its sole monitor turned on. I telnet to that from the G4.

Oh, yeah. Kit transferred the photos from her Wintel box using FTP into a Mac SE/30 MacOS 7.5.3, which is still my file server for all machines. [Hey! I had one of those! With two monitors! – Ed.] The Linux box keeps my stock portfolio up to date there too. [...]

The monitors are a paper-saver. I find I can run a CAD program on one for designing electronic circuitry while I display a datasheet for a part as a PDF file on another. I still have room to keep DigiKey’s Web page open on a third to check pricing of parts I want to use. And AOL Instant Messenger is running up above along with a window into the SE/30 so I can see when stuff arrives.

And by the way, three of the ones you see are monochrome. That’s all one needs for C code and E-mail.

Three- and four-monitor systems

Try that on your commodity Windows box, commoner.  

2003.11.14 – To coincide with the publication of my newest contribution to A List Apart, “How to Save Web Accessibility from Itself,” it’s time to air some grievances, developed over four long years, concerning the Web Accessibility Initiative.


It sounds great on paper. But WAI is a patient that is sick and needs tending.

Since I have been the most conspicuous chronicler of WAI’s errors over the last four years, I have standing to criticize. How WAI handles these criticisms will itself be a testimony to its willingness to improve.

So: What is wrong with WAI?

They don’t use, surf, or apparently even like the Web

I immediately exempt my pal (he’s on my Friendster list) and esteemed colleague MC May Techno Dance Remix from the following criticism. Kynn Bartlett’s not so bad on this specific count, either. At least they both run Weblogs.

Nonetheless, WAI’s most-frequent contributors never seem to actually surf the Web. They do not understand the real Web as it really exists and is really used by real people. I don’t know what WAI does with itself every day, but reading the Web isn’t it – except perhaps for W3C position papers, whose appearance they seem to want every site on earth to mimic.

Let’s do a comparison of bookmarks. I have 1,954 bookmarks in Mozilla and 127 in Lynx; my old Girl Power iMac has 599 bookmarks in Internet Explorer. Some small number are duplicates, but most are not; a great many (probably the majority) are bookmarked for later reuse or for preservation and are not actively re-visited. Hence, these 2,680 bookmarks must be seen as indicative of my browsing habits rather than a precise measurement.

But 2,680 bookmarks are pretty darned indicative.

Also, like Anil Dash, I maintain a very large history file in all capable browsers. I maxed out Explorer’s and have Mozilla’s set to 31 days.

Hence I definitely get around the Web. The majority of WAI contributors apparently do not. I have seen next to no evidence at all that WAI’s core contributors spend any amount of time at all looking at Web sites – outside of the disability, accessibility, or W3C demimondes, at least. They don’t even read the leading sites on standards compliance.

On the various mailing lists, WAI contributors talk vaguely about Web practice X or Web-developer habit Y, but rarely manage to provide actual examples of the phenomenon they’re discussing.

The WAI politburo, quite simply, is underinformed and behind the times. They don’t know the ways in which compliant sites comply and noncompliant sites fail. As a result, WAI contributors go off half-cocked when they criticize Web-development practices.


  1. Not quite understanding what table markup is for
  2. CSS vs. layout tables
  3. Standards-compliant designers’ sites ignored
  4. Understanding the new rocket science called the hyperlink
  5. Do you want cross-references with your labels and controls?
  6. What are background images on Web pages really like?

There aren’t enough experts

That’s why I wrote the piece for A List Apart in the first place: There aren’t enough people working on WCAG who have definable expertise. You can’t even get correct HTML out of them a lot of the time, and I constantly have to remind WAI of what the W3C’s own various specs actually say.

The result? Well-meaning but half-arsed non-experts post messages on topics about which they know either nothing or not enough about.


  1. [N]on-experts get to create ridiculous, contradictory, and unworkable provisions – and also never have that pointed out” (redux and redux redux)
  2. Not quite taking my word for it

They’re status-obsessed

WAI has a politburo – contributors who are on the inside rung and whose every word is taken at face value. Inevitably, this group all have day jobs that let them noodle endlessly on their favoured side topics and malapropisms.

For the rest of the universe, well, there are strata or classes of WAI contributor. Apart from drawing a WAI paycheque, the highest echelon is the W3C “Participant in Good Standing” or PiGS. (See the requirements.)

Did you know the W3C also has a mechanism to revoke your good standing? In fact, to reverse it?

When the Chair and the Team Contact agree, the Chair may declare that a participant is no longer in Good Standing (henceforth called “Bad Standing”)... in any of the following circumstances:

[...] The above criteria may be relaxed if the Chair and Team Contact agree that doing so will not set back the Working Group.

In essence, the W3C has a mechanism for banning its own participants. Or shunning, you might say.

But if you’re not deemed in either good or bad standing, where do you sit? In purgatory. You become one of the “Other Contributors to the WCAG,” as I am.

This isn’t merely an issue of unequal treatment and wounded pride. Participants in Good Standing (PiGS) are automatically entitled to attend face-to-face (“f2f”) meetings. Everyone else may attend. (In practice, that means everyone else may attend with no pre-negotiation, but I need special dispensation, as we’ll see.)


Cockamamie ideas are nurtured

Any member of the WAI politburo may advance even the most self-contradictory or unworkable proposition for WCAG, and it will immediately be accepted at face value and discussed with a tone of “Good idea! Let’s tweak a few details and rush it right through!”

How do they get away with it? They’re the WAI politburo. They aren’t suspect. Whatever they suggest is correct by definition.


  1. Forcing Web designers to calculate colour differences on every page
  2. Colour-contrast algorithms
  3. Play-by-play is audio description. Not
  4. How not to alienate every Web designer on the planet in accommodating learning disability
  5. How not to ask for the impossible in accommodating learning disability
  6. An old, and ridiculous, requirement from WCAG 1.0
  7. Talking with the taxman about charts and graphs: 1, 2, 3

They never learn

If WAI makes a mistake and you think you’ve finally managed to set them straight, WAI will just turn around and reiterate the same mistake.

The canonical example here is one WAI contributor’s insistence that every single issue of colour discrimination in Web accessibility must be machine-testable. (Some accessibility requirements can be machine-checked, but others cannot be. For some reason, the idea that colour might be in the latter category never occurred to this politburo member.)

In the WCAG Working Group, I am the expert on colour vision even though I have, by my own admission, merely very good layperson’s knowledge. More importantly, I have a stack of original research and a line on all the relevant researchers.

Even so, nothing I told WAI’s mailing lists about colour discrimination was believed. Nothing. In fact, I was accused of “soliciting” for having linked to my free online book chapter. I had to wait until the Toronto f2f, where the politburo member used a lull in the conversation to try to bait me on the topic. I later presented the full and accurate facts, which came to be broadly accepted at the meeting.

Less than a week afterward, the WCAG Working Group reiterated one of its many untruths about colour.

If I give WAI countervailing facts, they ignore me. They act as though it’s a figment of my imagination – even if I can prove it, which I usually can.

Niceness yes, quality no

WAI is all about being nice to each other and supporting each other and never contradicting each other and certainly never rocking the boat. They all love each other and want above all to stay nice rather than doing better work. WAI privileges niceness over quality.

You can have both, if your team is nice and competent. We could use such a team.

In the interim, I get a lot of criticism for my “tone” on the mailing lists. If you read the entirety of my contributions, you will note a range of tone. But whenever WAI complains about my being just too terribly mean to them, it’s because they’ve put forth some cockamamie idea or other and are permitting it to flourish rather than killing it in its cradle.

If I don’t get in there and register opposition, the echo-chamber politburo will act as though it has consensus.


It costs a fortune to ‘participate’

WAI’s politburo cannot even see its own entrenched bias toward participants with expense accounts and day jobs.

Check the definitions of Good and Bad Standing. It’s all about flying to meetings and talking on the phone for three hours a week.

Participation in a Working Group on an ongoing basis implies a serious commitment to the charter, including... attending most meetings of the Working Group....

A participant may be declared in Bad Standing in any of the following circumstances:

The only people who can afford this kind of thing are politburo members with day jobs or some other means of covering the costs of up to 150 hours of long-distance (even overseas) telephone time each year, to say nothing of airfare and accommodation for f2f meetings. In the accessibility field, those people are mostly academics.

Moreover, while WAI has its own IRC channel (wai-wcag on irc.w3.org:6665), you adamantly may not participate in the weekly teleconferences by free IRC. Try that and a WAI staffmember will type back “I’m not voicing your comments on IRC. If you want to participate in the teleconference, please call in.”

They’re visually unsophisticated

In many respects, WAI members are outright anti-visual. Anything that remotely qualifies as a standards-compliant method of making a site look nice is something they oppose. They’ll even mischaracterize such a method if it suits their anti-æsthetic biases.

I am sympathetic to the causes of this failing even as I am unforgiving of the result. Not everyone has taste, which can only sometimes be learned. But one thing that people with no taste, visual sophistication, or knowledge and experience of graphic design can certainly do is keep their opinions to themselves. They don’t know enough to judge. I simply don’t want to hear the politburo’s feelings about the attractiveness of some site or other, because I know what they’re really saying is “Attractive sites aren’t accessible” or “A site that looks nice really isn’t the sort of thing we want to encourage.”

As I so very much love to quip, “Some Web designers think ‘accessibility’ means ‘text-only site’ and hate the idea, while some accessibility advocates think the same way and love the idea.”


  1. Chastising WAI for an anti-visual bias
  2. Eric Meyer invents an all-CSS rollover and it’s immediately dismissed
  3. W3C needs to start working at designers’ level: 1, 2
  4. [T]he only true Web documents are those jammed to the margins with words words words

They treat me differently

The concentric circles of the WAI cosmology can be used as a cudgel to exclude and discipline contributors whom the WAI politburo dislikes. They’re much too wishy-washy and obsessed with peaceable coexistence to actually banish someone, even if the W3C regulations make it possible. To do that you’d already have to be PiGS, and the politburo would have kept you out of that cadre anyway. But that doesn’t mean WAI isn’t too good to give you a rough ride along the way.

The WAI politburo views me as a kind of unexploded atom bomb. In part it’s because they are or claim to be aghast that I am so very stern and direct with them on the mailing lists. I certainly don’t apologize for that, in part because I’m not always that way, as the record will show.

Interestingly enough, the week before the Toronto f2f (on 2003.09.05 13:39, my notes say), my telephone rang. On the other end was an important organizer of the Web Accessibility Initiative, who said the following:

“I just wanted to talk with you more about the meeting.... I just want us to agree that if you start to get abusive in the meeting, I’m going to ask you to stop, and if you continue to be abusive, I might have to ask you to leave.”

Have you had the same conversation with the other attendees? “I don’t think I have to have the same conversation with the other attendees,” the organizer replied.

The organizer then gave me quite a shock by naming a giant of the accessibility field whom the organizer consulted and who told the organizer – in the organizer’s words – “that it often is a good idea to have a conversation with you beforehand to set up what is expected.” The organizer also talked to another WAI source about me, the details of which, the organizer said, “I don’t think I have to share.”

I told the organizer I wouldn’t agree to abide by any rules that everyone didn’t have to abide by, and that announcing the rules at the beginning of the meeting, without singling out any attendees, would be a fair and equitable approach.

The organizer agreed to that.

I explained my WAI maxim to the organizer: Treat me like a problem and that’s what you’ll get. Treat me like an expert with a personality and a sense of humour and you’ll get expertise delivered with personality and humour.

We then had a perfectly nice conversation about the meeting topic (HTML techniques for WCAG), the agenda, multimedia, and a few related issues.

Now, what happened at the actual f2f? A mere six of us attended, and I was the only one who showed up with presentations – 4,300 words of them. It was tremendously enjoyable, if grueling. Luncheons were quite fun. I was far and away the funniest, most charming, best-informed, most technically adept, and of course best-dressed person there. It was a flat-out love-in. It was great. I would f2f these people again anytime!

There was, quite simply, nothing to have worried about. I may sometimes be a bitch in E-mail, but I’m a pussy in person. And in fact, the only admonition delivered to the meeting – really, it was obvious that no admonition was necessary – was as follows: “We’ll try to have a good meeting and hear everybody’s opinion.” We did and we did.

Heck, I even took two of the attendees out to a MoPix Movie Night. Some bitch I must be.

Why is this important?

Because accessibility is important and Web accessibility is very important even within that field. The source for nonpartisan, internationally-recognized Web-accessibility standards is the WAI WCAG. Some governments require that WAI standards be followed. Even some competing standards, such as U.S. Section 508 regulations, are essentially a rewritten WCAG.

And we’re not talking about the guidelines as the result we’re looking for. We want actual accessibility, that is, the guidelines put into practice. Improper, inadequate, or flat-out crappy guidelines will cause hardship for people with disabilities.

But if accessibility is the outcome of the guidelines, we need everyone with expertise to work on the guidelines. We also need the quality of the ideas presented to be accurately assessed – especially if that means calling improper, inadequate, or flat-out crappy guidelines improper, inadequate, or flat-out crappy. WAI has an obligation to act smarter – and to stop pretending that being nice is more important than doing good work.

My advice remains the same: Write better guidelines.

And my catchphrase also remains the same: We’ve upped our standards. Up yours.

Fact-check my arse

Don’t believe me?

Think I’m underplaying my own malfeasance in WAI?

Fact-check my arse. Read the mailing-list postings. (Search in each page for clark.)  

WAI-IG and -GL list postings by author
List 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
WAI-IG (latest) 01–03,
WAI-GL (latest) 01–03,

2003.11.10 23:43 – I was at Yonge & Eg coming out of the MoPix Movie Night (Love, Actually), and I told my lads it was just too convenient: I had to walk a couple of blocks north to the Capitol to see the John Tory campaign “party.”

On the way up, a guy in power chair very ostentatiously takes all the time occupied by passing me and asks “You wouldn’t by any chance know who won the mayoral election?” “Nope,” I told him. A moment later and a block further, an unhappy man in an uninspired but adequate suit walked by. “A gloomy businessman,” I thought. “That’s a good sign.” (It was more meta than that. I pre-logged. I thought “ ‘A gloomy businessman,’ I thought. ‘That’s a good sign.’ ”) Then a gloomy Boomer.

Up at the joint, three cops stood around bored. (At dinner before the movie, four full horse trailers driven by police pickups and a van cascaded by – easily 17 horses. I wondered if they were preparing for a neo–Queen’s Park riot.) Well-dressed patrons milled desultorily about, mostly smoking fags. “Good news or bad?” I asked whomever I could pigeonhole, noting a guy with a film camera backing very slowly out the door a few paces away.

“Bad,” said the man. “40,000 votes,” said a Boomer with a fag. “What’s that in percentage terms?” “I dunno,” said the first man as more people filed out. “Is it more than 7%? That was the spread on the weekend.” “It was about 7%,” said the fag-smoking Boomer. “It was in line with the polls.”

“Now, if this were a real democracy like Australia,” I said to the Boomer, getting up close, “voting would be compulsory.” “Ahhh,” he said, and a flash popped. Out walked John Tory, the epitome of downcast and defeated, saying “No, I can talk about that later” to nobody in particular. He held hands with his wife in a way that immediately imparted the bulwarking and shoring-up that couples give each other.

I was in the shooter’s way, so I took my leave. I momentarily thought I should be a better journo and stick around, but Tory was already on the bus. I crossed the street and shortly a young woman in an excellent peppy ensemble carrying a very horizontal gift asked “Do you know who won the municipal election?” “Miller,” I replied reportorially, and she stopped dead in a smile and a gasp.

At the next corner, the Tory bus, impotently plastered with 400 NEW POLICE OFFICERS and the like, cleared the green light. I waved bye-bye in the girliest manner I could.

Welcome to the state of Toronto, Mark Wickens. Will you finally be moving away now? I will personally pony up for your limo ride to the airport.  

2003.11.09a – Tall heterosexualist writer Ryan Bigge (no relation) wrote a feature article for the homosexualist rag Fab purporting to explore the linkage between veganism and S&M.

As if there were one.

My letter to the editor, published in the current emission of that organ:

I just love it when a gay magazine hires a straight carnivore to cover the alleged incompatibility of veganism and S&M. I would say he rather lacks standing. The entire article played vegans for a laugh. I mean, whatever could be wrong with eating meat? It’s as natural as fucking the opposite sex!

Central to the vegan philosophy is a refusal to eat animals because doing so hurts them, a pain to which they cannot consent. (Bigge’s source Eric Ward is quoted as saying almost as much.) Now, the last time I checked, humans of sound mind were indeed able to consent to pain. That effectively removes S&M from the entire issue of veganism, doesn’t it?

Quickie question: If Doc Martens have been available in non-leather form only since the year 2000, how is it that my vegan Docs (black and cherry pairs) have been admired by the demimondaines at the Toolbox, the Eagle, and their ilk since 1998? Perhaps Dr. Martens has a nouvelle formulation.  

2003.11.09b – For inchoate reasons, I do not name my paramours on this site, except indirectly where necessary or if they are dead. (You may locate your own examples.)

I now begin to be concerned that one of them is dead.

I had something vaguely resembling a “relationship” with the photographer Raoul Josset for more than two years. He parted not at all amicably, but it didn’t bother me particularly much. (He’d already left once before and it hadn’t bothered me particularly much then, either.) Over a year later, though, his Web site fails to work and has been scooped up by a domain reseller; he has not been seen in the hood, at bars, or (according to sources) anywhere else; I have seen no published photos of his, and his name has disappeared from relevant mastheads; and his shoephone was answered by a shifty-sounding playa who claimed it was Raoul’s phone even while children howled in the background. (The kind of playa who will go along with whatever you say in the hopes you give him enough rope to cheat you. Does Bell Mobility turn over its disused phone numbers quite that quickly?)

Possibilities, then, would seem to be:

  1. There is no change since last I saw him. These other indicators are misleading.
  2. He’s moved away.
  3. He’s in the hospital.
  4. He’s dead.

Anyone with information – definitive or not – is asked to contact me. This is for real. And all I am indeed looking for is information: Nobody get their hopes up.  

Update, 2003.11.30: Mystery resolved. He remains undead.  

2003.11.09c – I understand the utility of anonymous Weblogs. The most famous of all is Dear_Raed; Salam Pax even got his own book contract. (And he’s not so anonymous after all, having been beautifully and enigmatically photographed.) A vaguely “professional” Weblog I follow whose author(ess) is not known by name is CodeBitch.

I do not understand the utility of seminominal Weblogs, in which the author:

South of Bloor (Jeremy what’s-his-name – here’s his Friendster profile) and Toddo (Friendster) are two such examples. I suspect, pace Oblomovka, these authors misunderstand the concept of public as it applies to Weblogs.

But these are heavily-indulged invert Webloggers – Jeremy because he is conventionally attractive, Todd because he claims to be ever more muscular (“32w, 15a, 43c”) – so whatever they do is indeed indulged. (Seeming conventionally nice is another important quality that makes them beloved. One of them can actually write, too.) My prediction holds that this tiny Weblog posting will be excoriated from here to queendom come.

I’d be perfectly happy to be given a coherent, defensible philosophical argument justifying these authors’ semisecrecy. Such an argument would have to definitively answer the question “Yeah, but whom do you think you’re fooling?”  

2003.11.11 – Our dear friend Toddo (emphasis added) puts the barbell down long enough to write:

[Jeremy] and I got dissed recently by an old bitter queen. [Jeremy] wins though, because the diatribe resulted in two hits to his Weblog and none to mine. Bitter queens apparently draw as large an audience as PBS these days

...where Toddo works. Pot calling the kettle beige, dear?

Toddo needs to check his referrer logs a tad more carefully, and in any event, I don’t control my visitors’ link selections. But most of all, I deny being bitter or old, and meanwhile, Toddo’s still in the closet, going so far as to pull down his Friendster page. Who’s really doing better?  

Todd Mundt declares the following:

That’s the last time I write a piece about something and then pass it on to my boyfriend. He doesn’t read this website, nor should he.

Todd believes his boyfriend should not read his public Web site.

Does he believe anyone should? Does he understand the entire concept of public? You’d think he would, being a TV and radio star and operator of multiple Weblogs.

The closet is an irrational place, and Todd Mundt lives there.  

2003.11.09d – My esteemed colleague and I were watching the deplorable homosexualist trifle entitled Trick on television last week. We both work in visual fields (despite the fact that a component of one of my fields is blindness, merely one of my many delicious ironies) and we are both all too hideously aware of the truth of the stereotype that men are more readily visually aroused than wymmynz. It is true in our cases.

We are quite accustomed to summing up a fellow on sight, also to lavish repeated re-perusals of cherished photographs. (They don’t even have to be actual porn!) The body at rest is a spectacle whose effect on the visual cortex and associated libido we understand.


We could not, absolutely could not understand what was happening while we watched perhaps-appropriately-underemployed Colombian-Hungarian-Romanian-American “thespian” John Paul Pitoc, who portrays a go-go boy in the trifle. (So help me, the last go-go boy I knew was a straight guy who’s now a snowboard instructor!)

What killed us was the movement. Pitoc was about as aptly cast as a go-go dancer in Trick as John Malkvoich was in Being John Malkovich. Even with hideously inappropriate direction (anticipating Chicago’s inability to depict the full body in motion), the whole package of face, body, and movement was like a singularity ripped out of the space–time continuum. I get those with the occasional redhead who walks by. The motion of walking does not contribute, though.

If Pitoc were less handsome (I like the complexion, the Dumbo ears, the nose, the whole megillah) but moved the same way, it wouldn’t work. The body at rest or equivalent to it is still a component. But we could not understand why his looks plus his movement were knocking us dead.

And all this is true even with the dozens of dance films I have viewed. (I was a regular attendee at Moving Pictures, for example. I saw DV8 live twice.) It is a genre I understand. But I never saw anything like this before – in a trifle, no less.

My esteemed colleague watched the trifle with a chromosomal female.

he speaks with his body rather than his face
and the eyes and Dumbo ears.
what is the magical thing about J.P. Pitoc? and how soon is he gonna lose it?
his movement
like you said, he can dance
also that particular too-short T-shirt with the very wide neck.
and how perfect he looked in briefs
perhaps his awkward features make him more accessible
I promise you we homosexualists react to appearances like that in an way nobody else does.
[...] once you pick him apart, the magic goes
I look at him and in every second see something new and rapturous.
he oozes sex with an open posture.
[the chromosomal female] couldn’t see the whole machine
a perfect encapsulation.  

“How graceful your movements, how bitter your scorn. I’ve been a teenager since before you were born – and I’m younger than some. I’ve only begun.”

2003.11.09e – How hard is it to find strings of LED Xmas lights in the sole morally-correct colour, all-blue?

Also: You can spend US$159 on an LED flashlight. Obviously I want to now!  

2003.11.05a – With the permission of Jeff Hutchins, I am hosting a transcript and a set of documents from the Caption Quality Initiative conference in September 2002. You can read about the conference and its history, and plow through the 50,000-word transcript recovered from the real-time captions of that day.  

2003.11.05bEmma Jane had the capital idea to bring the Webstandards.TO kidz down to the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at UofT (whom I indirectly work with, but not for) to enjoy a demonstration of their massive range of adaptive technology. I arrived moments late to find nine other people there – more than ever turned out to our regular monthly meetings.

The ATRC Workspace is quite pleasant as fluorescent-lit work environments go, with its distinctive tufted lamé wall treatment. We were ushered into the other room for an extensive presentation of Jaws 4.51 (running in demo mode for some reason), ZoomText (a screen magnifier), and Kurzweil 1000 and 3000, programs that scan print and read text aloud with highlighting. We looked at hardware and software keyboards, where the demonstration was not really extensive enough. Lots of questions and answers, and several people in the room had expertise. Toronto is an hotspot, it seems. We spent the last half-hour of our session tooling around, more or less dysfluently, on the various equipment.

But everyone – absolutely everyone, including those with expertise – learned a ton. In particular we learned just how difficult to use Jaws is, even given the fact we were rank amateurs. I knew this from experience and reputation, but now I really know it. I have bumped up the importance of buying a Windows laptop (actually, a desktop might be better, assuming it has an LCD with ClearType) to run the damned thing. Apple can and must do better.

What else happened?

We retired to Boulangerie de l’avenir for some extensive swearing and shop talk. I always wonder about that: I would prefer not to talk shop. The shop we are talking is based around a communications medium, namely E-mail. Shouldn’t we use that to talk shop instead?

En tout cas, nobody from this group I formed called me a snob or told me everyone has a limited tolerance of me, and I suppose I should consider that an improvement. When Langstroþ, seated right next to me on the couch and unusually well-dressed for a presumptive heterosexualist, wandered back from the bar bearing nauseatingly aromatic chicken wings, it was time to be off.

On the subway, three people got into an argument, and after five uninterrupted minutes with no de-escalation in sight, I hit the passenger alarm. Two of the three got off, and we eventually resumed. I knew the Woman’s Intuition was telling me to take the eetcarstray.

See you next month in Rosedale.  

2003.11.03aWhen we last checked up on young Alex Dimitriades, the very-nicest-looking Australian actor, he had signed up for some escapade called Let’s Get Skase. Let us indeed not.

I infiltrated dimitriadesism into my book, actually. Check the screenshot on page 308, also available onliné. Why, yes, that is the lovely and talented Alex Dimitriades talking into his cufflink. Or at least his evocative stubble and teeth.

(In an ultra-ironic twist, Marc accused me of including a screenshot from The Bourne Identity because Matt Damon was in it. Why, no, sir! It was for Franka Potente!)

At a three-for-$45 sale, one gave in and bought what is obviously the worst film with good intentions in recent Australian history, a “sci-fi” “thriller” unparsably entitled Subterano. (I consistently read it as Subterraneo.) Whilst watching it, I kept thinking two things:

  1. Who the fuck did this pissant captioning job?
  2. Would this be better at 2×, 4×, 8×, 16×, or indeed 32× speed?

Mofo looks great in a suit, even better in a postmodern pullover with a collar of Borg-calibre complexity. Gah.

Alex Dimitriades, international man of mystery
Four screenshots of Alex Dimitriades (three in suits, one in a pullover with corded collar) Trio of screenshots of Alex Dimitriades (filthy and bloody on motorcycle, in close-up, in suit with subtitle reading «¿Es hora de cerrar?»)

And of course he was in Head On. He was Head On. It is a sacred text. I doubt I could bear to watch it again. Among other reasons, talking about the film was the icebreaker with the third man I ever loved. Only the third, in fact.  

Does it actually rain, or is it merely wet?
(an even-more-boring IM issuance than a LiveJournal entry)
the atmosphere sort of drools  


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