fawny.org: Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark

Early 2002 archives

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All the “evidence” you need!

Transcript of the “evidence” I gave before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is now up. A full biographical Axxlog entry is now up.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been lately (few of you have, I’m sure, if only because few of you even read this page), it can now be disclosed that I’ve spent the last half-week battling otitis externa in the left ear, an infection so rudimentary and commonplace that doctors sigh with boredom when kids walk into the office with it. It is so passé a malady that it’s almost impossible to find the very old, tried-and-true hydrocortisone/acetic acid medication that cures it.

And it is more than enough to reduce me to a quivering mass. I took six hours of naps yesterday. I could barely think straight. I got all queasy and weak. (Antidote: Eat constantly.) Twinges of pain were so sharp I actually whimpered or barked like a miffed chihuaha and spontaneously closed the left eye. As happens whenever I get sick (always before a long weekend), I could no longer remember being well.

I’m sposta be an old hand at this sort of thing, hangin’ as I do with the cripples. But then I remembered that simple colds are much more incapacitating to my dear cripple friends than their extant disabilities. Remember Hank Rollins’ many essays on how many notches he was brought down by a tiny rotator-cuff injury? This was my weekend in a nutshell. Except it was all concentrated in the cartilage of one ear.

Apparently I am a more fragile and vulnerable biological organism even than I had suspected.


Best homosexualist Weblog content of the week

From Jon-Jon (I am reading his entire archives):

Talked with Sullen Faggacino (I adore him, but he is a low-fat chilled drink and he knows it) at Brewed this morning about how Buck Rogers in the 21st Century psychologically prepared me for techno. I think it was our “coming out” moment.



“An Investigative Tribute to the Most Superspecial Trump of All” is resurrected from the catacombs Ten Years Ago in Spy.

Straws & Camelbacks?

First my article “TypoBlog” comes out in Print magazine. Days later, Andy Crewdson shuts down Lines & Splines. Coincidence, or Chariots of the Gods? (He always hated attention.)


Sites unfucked

Did a GO Transit wayfinding report and have other irons in the fire. Ottawa trip will soon be recounted.


Confidential to Andy Crewdson

Much delayed, but with gratification, I have now received the actual published edition of Print magazine that includes my fabulous story “TypoBlog,” which I now finally can put online.


The Fab bitch-slap

Fab – its content-free site tells you everything – is the kind of rag that’s handy for passing the time while waiting for something halfway human to walk through the doors of your preferred house of ill repute. (I rest mine on my towel and count grey hairs on my shoulders.)

Issue 187 (April 11–24) added Versailles-calibre palace intrigue to the appeal.

The pulpy fortnightly, which achieved the unlikely trio of worse typography, worse paper, and (let’s not forget) worse writing even than Xtra, also garnered exactly what you’d expect with three strikes like those: An even worse reputation. The magazine stank. Take one glance at a typical customer-service representative nursing a “manly” import beer a sweater bar (not Woody’s, shurely?!). What odds do you give he can actually put a sentence together? To these pigeon-chested mass-market-diva apologists, “acumen” is something their girlfriends back in home ec told them to to take for a bad case of zits. They give milquetoasts a bad name. (I should know. I took Quentin Crisp to lunch.)

Now imagine an entire “gay scene magazine” catering to them. It’s an unending litany of bad taste, proving once and for all we are actually capable of it.

You can blame John Kennedy, the arriviste who redefined “light in the loafers.” Fortunately, his reign of error was brought to a merciful end by Fab “president and publisher” Michael Schwarz. In his first and only apparent act of hands-on involvement, he wrote:

Dear Readers,

This is John Kennedy’s final issue. [That is, I fired him and won’t let him tell you himself.] There has been much speculation over why fab [sic] decided to terminate John’s contract, but you won’t find the juicy details here [but juicy they are]. It suffices to say that our new focus will be more positive[, you bitch].

John started with the magazine over five years ago as a contributor and eventually took over as editor. In that time, he has informed, amused, and infuriated many in our community. [...]

Well, let’s Telestrate® this game of pots calling kettles beige. Down the street at the competition, an allegedly-not-for-profit corporation called Pink Triangle Press:

(In case you didn’t know, I wrote for Xtra for about five years, fighting with junior-league editors all the way. Eleanor Brown, moustache misty from huffy flared nostrils, finally killed my music column after my contretemps with ill-mannered, brilliantined editorial quisling Alan-A-Vernon over Ashley MacIsaac. It was a glorious day.)

Now, what was Schwarz saying?

Rob Wilson’s writing style for “Media Watch” improved to the point that it became virtually indistinguishable from John’s own.

Yo, hold on a moment, there. You, the publisher of Fab, are not in any way confirming the widely-held belief that Rob Wilson never existed – that John Kennedy ghostwrote the cleverly-named “Media Watch” column all by himself?

It’s too much to imagine. It’s too... much... to imagine.

[John] has had a long career as a contributor to other publications – most notably Frank magazine, where he’ll continue as a Toronto corespondent [sic] and photographer. [...]

As part and parcel of the Rob Wilson body-snatch, John Kennedy was widely bruited as a Frank snitch. (I’ve snitched for Frank on several occasions, but it never gets published! Argh!) Schwarz alludes that such vile scuttlebutt is in fact true.

[W]e have hired a very talented, experienced, and professional editor-in-chief, named Mitchel Raphael (pronounced raif-fell [no, it isn’t])... He is smart. He is sexy. He is nice. I am, and you should be, looking forward to an interesting and intelligent editorial balanced with humour and humility.

How often do you find a publisher who deploys transvestite-calibre innuendo to defame an editor he already fired? (Or whose contract was “terminated,” as you wish.)

And can anyone remember Michael Schwarz’s byline anywhere else in the magazine – ever?

It was rather alarming to read columnist after columnist – but not, it must be noted, the magazine’s own editor – writing a swan song to his readers. John Fowler (no relation), Nigel Lezama (“we columnists have been jettisoned”), Darren Cooney – all were shitcanned and told us so. But John Kennedy, according to the title of Schwarz’s editorial, was “Just Gone.”

We’re not done yet!

A long two weeks pass. Issue 188 (April 25–May 8) finally clogs the floors by the doorways of invert-infested coffeehouses. TWINKS ARE TOPS TOO shrieks the cover headline, a baby bicuspid of fang to offset five full years of high-school-dropout cover models. (Not like the barely-legal E-bait lad right alongside that headline, shurely?!)

Page 5 includes an amusing RETRACTION: “[John] Kennedy is not currently a photographer or correspondent for Frank, and says he has no plans to be. fab [sic] regrets the error.”

Ah. He isn’t beating his wife now, and promises he won’t in the future. But what about the past? Kennedy is not, after all, currently a stringer for Frank. Currently.

I’ve listened to Mitchel Raphael’s radio show, seen him on TV, read many of his stories in the Post and elsewhere. (Oddly, Raphael was quoted as telling a panel on homosexualists in media that “alternative gay press is ‘on its way down.’ ” He may be in the gutter now, but at least he’s looking up.) Raphael was purged from the Tubby last winter, and all his stories have been purged from the Web archives. (Exactly three pieces are Googlable.) He’s a good writer, indifferent on radio, and very weak on television.

While I was at [Lord Tubby of Fleet’s] National Post, my ideas were never censored. I deeply appreciated editor-in-chief Ken Whyte’s respect for a diversity of opinions, putting up with my spiked hair and allowing my chick-with-dick story to run with a pic [chick-dick pic?].

But now he’s really tearing shit up. Fab Issue 188 shocked the hell out of me. You mean the dying patient finally got a brain transplant?

Severe demerit points, however, for another repetition of a baldfaced lie: Kamal Al-Solaylee tells us yet again that “sexuality... is a fluid thing.” It fucking is not. I don’t see a lot of straight guys getting fluidly topped by cover-boy twinks. There’s a whole other name for those beset with “fluid” sexuality: Bisexualists. Keep your sexual fluids to yourself.

We anglos like to imagine Montrealers as urbane, well-dressed, plus sophistiqués que nous. That image crumbles to dust the first time you set eyes on a unilingual hoser with a mullet whose muttered French sounds like a bandsaw cutting galvanized tin. The image dies a thousand deaths with every Sexe-Si-Bon strip joint you pass between Dunkin’ Donuts and Harvey’s franchises downtown. It withers like overbraised spinach once you set eyes on tough Greeks from Park Ex, or, more to the point, their girlfriends.

Same with inverts. We’re so terribly urbane, so well-dressed, “better than you – daily.” Until you hang around us for a while, when we’ll bitch each other out in public (pot calling kettle beige, shurely?!) and reveal ourselves for the jumped-up white trash we are.

I guess the key is to hire just the right jumped-up white trash. It all augurs well for Mitchel Raphael.


Flash MX: Clarifying the Concept,” on Flash accessibility, is out today at A List Apart.


Spy: Now with pictures!

Thanks to Michael Russell and his scanner, Ten Years Ago in Spy now is illustrated.

Further, I am again quoted in Wired News: “Flash News Flash: It’s Accessible.” Kind of. Got scooped on one fact there.


Joe does Ottawa

On Tuesday, April 22, I’ll be in Ottawa to give evidence to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, on accessibility provisions in the Broadcasting Act. It may eventually be televised.


It’s springtime and I’m the kind of man who rides his bike in the winter, so why the hell am I taking the subway everywhere?

As the doors open, I see that waiting to get out are two young chicks with the bared-midriff adonna-Mae-manquées B<asterisk><asterisk>t<asterisk><asterisk>y neo-whore style. And I’m like, No way am I going to give them the satisfaction of looking.

I walk in. “Love your hat,” one of the girls tells me. And apparently means it.

So just GIVE IN ALREADY. When you bump into jailbait girls in lowrider jeans and blousons knotted virtually at the sternum, fucking well look at them. It ain’t gonna kill you.

Have you had a prostate-pounding commitment ceremony today?

I know I need to handwrite more, and I know I could not find a single example of these cherished items for three full years, but why did I have to buy four Italian Pigna notebooks today? Even at only $3.90 or $4.50 each?

Inverts are notoriously unable to manage their money.

Oh, and interesting factoid for my slavering fans: Based on careful analysis of file requests, this humble Weblog has no more than 42 regular readers, some of which are actually me in the disguise of various browsers used in testing.

I always knew I was unpopular, but.


Nobody’s idea
of a hot redhead date

At the corner of Yonge and Wellesley – the St. Marc Spa corner – at 4:00 in the afternoon, a very fit and well-proportioned strawberry blond, dressed in tank top and shorts in respect of the hot weather, teetered down the sidewalk in Hollywood-style exaggerated intoxication.

I figured it was my old friend. He’s recognizable from behind. He’s recognizable from two blocks away. But you don’t get to see actual staggering much anymore, not even with stereotypical drunken Indians. And you don’t exactly see ravishing redheads staggering all that often, either.

The biomechanics were such that planting one foot was OK, but he got distracted with the next foot and weak with the hip, zipping two paces in the weak direction. I wondered if he’d actually fall over.

I walked right by. Yup, it’s him. I gave him a long glance over the shoulder, feeling like an Amish woman or a hijabi in my hat and shades. (I’m allegedly dark-skinned and I’m the sunphobe; he’s red-haired and freckled and walks around in his underwear.) I carry on, though I figure I shouldn’t, but I’m not about to do a 180 and ask him what’s up. The Woman’s Intuition told me to stand still halfway down the block.

Over he came. Walked right by without recognizing me. Heading past the O&A, I saw a black guy in scrubs.

–  You’re a health-care professional. Do you think our friend here is stoned, or epileptic? I asked, grasping at straws.

The health-care professional seemed pretty frazzled, by his job and not by me, and took a step back.

–  Because I know him, and he’s not usually like this.

–  You know him? You could talk to him.

It was advised that I could ask “our friend” how he is.

I blinked and there he was right out in the street talking to someone through a car window. The last thing we need is a redhead getting waffle-ironed at the epicentre of fagville. (It seemed an unlikely but possible prospect. I am not embroidering here.) He plopped himself down on the planter ledge outside the drugstore. Alongside him sat some girl carrying on a conversation with a fellow standing up. Did he know them?

I sat down next to him. Are you all right? I asked him by name.

–  I’m horny. And I’m drunk, he said.

On the next breath in, I was like, Yeah, you are.

–  I’m horny. And I’m single now, he reveals.

–  I just saw you walk right into the street there.

–  Yeah? Was that on Yonge St.?

–  No, I told him, right here just a minute ago. (Not a good sign.)

–  Do you think you should go home? I asked nonaggressively. You live around here?

–  I live farther away than you, he muttered aggressively.

–  Probably, I told him, going along.

–  I live at King and Bathurst, he slurred, leaning into me and using the first and only French accent I’d ever heard from him.

–  Do you think you should get in a cab? I asked nonaggressively.

–   Yeah, he said. You’re being kind, he said, pawing my wrist and complimenting my “beautiful penis” – sight unseen.

So I asked him if he had enough money to take a cab home. He muttered yes and gave me another once-over. I know for a fact I’ve never looked this good to him. Will he feel the same way if he isn’t shitfaced? Based on experience, no.

After some further manhandling, whose taking place in public I somehow don’t mind, he got up on his feet, dragging me by the hand. Whoa, hold my hand, he said too loudly a couple of times, then turned around to the ostentatiously uninterested girl (still there, though her man had left) and told her it’s OK, I’m a homosexual. I’m a homosexual, too, I reassured her (dropping the -ist). We’re a matched pair, I told my friend, who was still loudly yammering about holding my hand. Straight-line travel remains out of the question.

–  If you were sober, I’d hold your hand, I told him.

Right at the corner, I exhibit marvelous shamelessness as I wish him well and leave, hearing him bellow “I love you!” loud enough to wake a bathhouse.

After a quick stop at This Ain’t, I cross the street and there he is again. He claims to remember my name this time (after I tell him). I unwisely start up the routine of cabbing him home. “Jason!” he bellows at his passing raver-kid friend, grabbing him bodily by the cellphone.

–  How are you? he demands.

–  I’m OK, Jason says, trying to prise his hand away. I’ve got to go now.

I notice the half-healed set of three three-inch scratches on the left rear deltoid. Where’d they come from?

He asks, in so many words, why I care. I’m beginning to wonder myself. There’s no way he’s going home except under his own power, a sobering thought. Imagine him crossing streetcar tracks on a yellow light.

Shortly he walks away, hiking up his tank top. You want to see my tits? he asks, showing me his abs instead. (They’re countable. At his age.) Out come the nipples. A round of applause for Mark, I say with manifest dryness.

It occurs to me this is the sort of thing Scott Thompson talks about when he complains fags don’t look out for each other. It further occurs to me that asking twice after the man’s welfare would be dismissed as codependency or saviour syndrome by any fag (that would be most of them) indoctrinated by psychotherapy. Getting groped and getting flashed should be a dream come true, but I’ve had beautiful friends before, and here it did nothing. He was not, after all, himself.

And anyway, I’m oldschool, I’m vanilla. I’ve asked drunken Indians if they’re all right. In my full-on veil and sunglasses, I will continue to act Amish and Muslim.

I give up and pass him heading south. He pulls himself up the stairs at Crews. Shut up, Joe, he tells me. Oh, I’m already there, I think.

Out of the remaining dregs of curiosity, I enjoy double espresso at the Timothy’s for Seniors® patio. And there he is just barely making it up the stairs to the Eagle.

It’s a long way down from your Olympic medal.


Mother of God, not another one

Another Weblog, but this one’s boring: Axxlog. Yes, the Media Access Weblog. Just what this country needs.


Ten Years Ago in Spy

Two weeks late, but Ten Years Ago in Spy is a killer:


Into perverted sex, pussy, spades

While we’re waiting for Drubskin’s art opening, aren’t skinhead pervert gardeners and their kitties just adorable?

“See Tarzan, hear Jane.”


Sure, mother<asterisk><asterisk><asterisk>er, rub it the f<asterisk><asterisk><asterisk> in

Far be it from me to actually counterblog a fellow fucked-in-the-head homosexualist Weblogger, but the circuit queen known as Holden Caulfield’s Lover needs the gentlest possible bitch-slapping here, as with a fish in the Python sketch.

When my boss handed me that bonus check yesterday I went and sat in my car (my piece-of-shit Toyota which is so on its way out the door after seeing that bonus check – BMW, baby!), I called my Mom and told her I had gotten it and I just started sobbing... I was so embarrassed I had to get off the phone and fast. I felt like the whole shitty year was whacking me in the back of the head. All the rejections, all the false leads, all the goddamn cover letters and résumés, giving up my adorable lakeside apartment [sic], giving up my SUV [sic], giving up all the friends I had to work so hard to make and were so easy to maintain, coming back to Arizona like a wounded dog with his tail between his legs, the thousand questions – “Found a job yet?”; “Are you looking everywhere?”; “Are you sure you’re not being to picky?” – the fake-sympathy-smiles from my bosses as I was escorted out of the agency the day I was laid off, all the doubters among me wondering (was it maybe somehow my fault I had been laid off), the months of scraping by, the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the embarrassment, the humility, canceling parties, avoiding calls, laying low and now finally this.

Now, lookit. I spent nearly two full years documenting in corrosively bitter terms how “the new economy” was a fraud. (Feel free to scour old Weblog postings. That’s why they’re up. I understand the principle of public discourse. Do you?) And I certainly rail against the factually unfounded idée fixe that fags are all rich. And admittedly ships do need to come in. To paraphrase Susan Sarandon in The Client, “Sounds like you’re about due for a break.” Who isn’t?

But for frig sakes! Your lede should not be I’m Gonna Buy Me a BMW! We’re all bitter queens. We all came from dirt and we want nice upper-middle-class things. We’re materialistic. We like to live. So we would have been happy to spot Holden Caulfield’s Lover, like spotting him a fiver, on the hubris of expecting to keep a “lakeside apartment” and an SUV were it not for the gratuitous hubris of asserted BMW entitlement.

Everyone should have a home, and everyone who needs one should have a car. If you can afford a nice home and a nice car (some Toyotas are nicer than some BMWs), then go for it. But do... not... gloat. Immodesty, though a venial sin, raises hackles.

Socratic question: How can a blog be “anonymous” if it carries full-body photographs and diaries of excretory backroom sexual exploits? At least I sign my name to mine.

I’ve been online a third of my life. There’s barely anything important about me that isn’t online. Among other stratagems, lead with your bad press and your critics got nothing on you. Carry on your life like an inverse Fahrenheit 451, with your Web sites as an exteriorized persona, and you got the power.


Further accessible cinema reviews posted (E.T., Panic Room), at cost of sanity.


Armenian metal-d00d ski-slope-nose doppelgänger synchronicity

Whilst parading about town in classic fucked-in-the-head-Weblogger stylee, I occasionally catch sight of myself in the various halls of mirrors set up in homosexualist establishments (all the better for juvenile self-adoration). I already know I have a nose that’s the bastard child of Bob Hope and Richard Nixon. I was afraid to do a DNA test on Roberto Benigni in case he turned up positive too.

But unlike a grown man facing the shocking news that he’s adopted, here I am at least fully welcoming the realization that System of a Down’s Armenian (tautological, shurely – they’re all Armenian! Atom Egoyan even Atom Egoes to their shows!) heavy-metal crooner Serj Tankian and I have the very same nose:

Nose of international megastar metal whelper Serj Tankian, nose of curmudgeon accessibility obsessif (L to R)

It will further be stated that the now-rather-old single “Toxicity” is a shocking masterwork. I had to hear it more than 20 times before I began to understand it. Now I rank it up with “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” as memorable singles of ’02, if not the full Aughties. Mark my words.

(By the way, it is looking more and more like I will become the only person in Canada who voluntarily subscribes to PrideVision and MuchLoud. Yet another of the trademark matter–antimatter combos.)


Not a joke

Homoerotic trash artwork exhibit opens in Kansas.


Red Green

The author courts further ridicule (IN FULL-ON FUCKED-IN-THE-HEAD-WEBLOGGER STYLEE) by admitting he finds cute Jewishy redhead runt Seth Green not-unravishing.

Strikes against me here?

What facts can I marshal in my own defense?

So shoot me. Jeez.


Yo, playa!

I enjoyed a superexclusive playa interlude today. A while ago, I had been cold-ICQed (a term we can add to the vocab along with cold-called and cold-snatched) by a fellow who runs a Web consultancy here in the province of Toronto. I’d never heard of them. It stands to reason: Their office is up at Bathurst and Eglinton. Does that make them Jewish? Yes. And Russian!

What can you say about Russian accents? Everybody sounds serious. And old. But my new friend B. (NOT HIS REAL NAME) is younger than me by six full years. He also lived in Israel and speaks Hebrew. My dry cool wit (“I could be an action hero”) tends to go over his head. (Yo, join the club, playa!)

B.’s site reads like a transliterated Russian accent. He needed it rewritten in fluent English. After several messages and phone calls, it became clear he thought this job was worth only three hundred bucks, a fee I found simply adorable.

But we had a deal that we would have espresso the next time he was downtown. I’m reading the paper waiting for him to show, wondering how I’m going to manage the blind-date aspects of this meeting, when I spot a gunmetal-grey Cherokee doing an instant Uie on the street outside. The driver, in full-on black playa clothes (distinguishable even then), just waves behind him and forges ahead. Like driving in Moscow, shurely?!

He’s reasonably handsome. I could have looked like him with a different nose and something approximating a full head of hair. Good black shoes, good dark-grey pants, an excellent black turtleneck, and a total playa jacket, in off-black, made of one of those delicious leatherette materials that cost you twice a suggested rewrite fee. (“It’s Armani.”)

B. advises me that I should look into offshore Cayman Islands–style bank accounts. I tell him “You say ‘Russian’ and ‘Jewish’ to me, and one other word comes to mind.” I further teach him the term “grey area,” which might be useful for him and his friends.

One of the lads at the coffeehouse has fancied me from the word go, which explains why he’s always oversolicitous and says such obnoxious things. (And pats me on the back.) He spent a full half-minute staring the fuck out of us, wondering, no doubt, what the hell I’m doing with a handsome rich playa like this. I explained this all to B, and the wheels eventually started turning. A later question about my being faithful to a single girl elicited a cocked brow and the response “You’re very naïve.”

Now, I’m sure your life is mostly fabulous. Really, more power to you, but some of us are happy being vanilla. (Vegans and straightedgers are fundamentalists. Try multiplying those together and see what you get.) But you tell me if you’ve ever done this kind of thing:

  1. You get a lift to your next meeting in the playa’s Jeep, with full-on leather upholstery, power seats, moonroof, and Russian/Hebrew disco music on the stereo. You’re riding shotgun with your playa.
  2. You get to fiddle with the electronic controls while your friend B. does a pit stop for a cigar.
  3. On the road, the playa expansively sprawls in his semi-reclined driver’s seat, smoking a cigar, handling the wheel with thumb and forefinger, high-class clothing unencumbered by peasant contrivances like seatbelts.
  4. Your friend admits you’re the first “gay” he’s ever met. Except, he recalls, for an old friend of his who called off a very expensive wedding when he had to admit he was actually gay. How disquieted were B. and his friends – after a bottle of vodka – when it dawned on them that the Israeli entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest wasn’t really a chick?
  5. You sit parked on Bloor for ten minutes trying to explain what “makes” guys “decide” to be gay.

I told him I loved having a Russian Jewish playa friend. And he told me he knows he’s not the kind of person I’m used to dealing with (the converse is also true: He criticized my clothes), then told me to stop acting like he’s a circus animal. So I guess PLAYAZ GOT FEELINGZ TOO. I could not stop thinking of RobDCX mackin’ chicks, and occasional guys, in his own Jeep.

Vazzup, playa tovarishch?


Aquablast your kitchen walls
with rice pudding

Adapted, after extensive evolutionary trials, from Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen (recently republished), the indispensable and beautifully-typeset cookbook.

Coconut-milk rice pudding
Quantity Ingredient

1 ½ cups

long-grain white rice
Use what you’ve got. Viable to use cheapest supermarket variety. Basmati works; jasmine excels. Can use leftover smidgens from rice bags, including arborio for you risotto queens.

1 can

coconut milk
Shop carefully. Some brands are at once watery and mucosal. Mr. Gouda’s is reliable (no preservatives, among other things). Make very sure your can sloshes and gurgles when you shake it. Petrified coconut milk is the devil’s sputum.

4 cups


scant ½ cup



Kosher salt, of course, pinched from nearby open ramekin. Or, if you’re from the Maritimes, poured out of a shaker. Nobody’s looking.

2 Tbsp.

Or 1 Tbsp. butter, margarine, or shortening. Do not omit: Controls foaming. We’re already one step away from the devil’s sputum here; you don’t want him foaming at the mouth, too.

And now the most important ingredient: A pressure cooker. Combine all ingredients but rice in cooker. Rinse rice, but don’t bother doing it obsessively; despite what cookbooks tell you, it is impossible to rince rice “until water runs clear.” Add to mix.

Lock lid in place. Bring to high pressure. Reduce heat to minimum level needed to maintain that pressure. Cook 8 minutes.

Extremely important subsequent step: Ordinarily, in pressure cooking, one quick-releases steam by using the perfectly safe and high-tech valve on the lid. Do this here and you will aquablast the walls of your kitchen with steam-hot diluted coconut milk. Spray will expand parabolically in at least a one-metre radius. The projectile vomiting of triplets with the stomach flu is easier to clean up.

Instead, remove from heat. Let pressure cooker sit there, unadjusted, for any necessary length of time. (Nothing will overcook or burn.) Or immerse in water and/or run cold water over lid (a typical quick-release technique) without opening the valve. (Pressure cooker will remain perfectly safe. The valve is already slightly open during cooking, remember? You have not adjusted the valve, and you’re lessening the pressure, not increasing it.)

When the safety interlock drops, open lid. Add any of the following:

A bit of maple syrple works wonders, but add only to individual bowls.

Leftovers will have solidifed the next day. Steaming works best, but tends to leave tendrils of rice pudding in your sieve for up to several weeks. Nuking may work. Or just stir the bejeezus out of it in a sospin.

Downside: Coconuts and avocados are nearly the only vegetables containing saturated fat. Coconut-milk rice pudding, therefore, is nearly the only vegan dish that’s bad for your heart. But occasional consumption is harmless for healthy people. And besides, this shit owns.

Take inevitable nap after eating.


Links are still happening even as moral hangover is reëxperienced

Surprise, surprise, a Weblog with a link to the outside world: James Seamus McNally is described as “photogenic.” He also owned in his Fray Day reminiscence (RealAudio).

As for okra (Cf. “James contemplates okra” above): I can’t cook the fucker. You have to keep water away from it; something akin to frying is in order. (“Cook okra in separate pot by frying in grease until almost all of rope is gone. Do not prepare ahead.” You have been warned.) Two Indian restos I know do a good job. This is yet further confirmation of the bourdainian precept that only carnivore restaurants get vegetables right.

Also, you are obliged to load up okra with either buttery-subtle rice (buttery – no actual butter, please) or thermonuclear spice assortments. No sissypants okra in the house. Wouldn’t be PUNK ROCK.


Wymmynz in blazes

Again quite by accident, I ran across another Firefighter Combat Challenge television emission. No goddamn redheads hosing themselves off, but aren’t the results interesting?

TV Firefighter Challenge results
Over 40
Over 50
FastestKevin Schultze
Martha Ellis
Bret Yundt
Roy Davis
SlowestBrad Roe
Katie Cassiday
Steve Kotch
Chuck LeBlanc

(Total data set from the TV results is the top five performers in each category only, not everyone who finished. The men’s “open” competition quite obviously involves self-selection: The over-40 and over-50 men stick to their own category. In effect, “Women Open” means “all women competing” while “Men Open” means “men under 40.”)

The official site gives results from a presumably more recent event (though in a brilliant move, date is not listed):

Online Firefighter Challenge results
Over 40
Over 50
Fastest Bobby Russell
Lisa Belanger
Steve Kotch
Juan Ontiveros
Slowest Rodney Vaughan
Jennifer Owens
Pat Hartley
James Neville

(Data set here are the top ten.)

In both these competitions, not undisturbingly, even the fastest wymmynz are slower than all the men. But the 40- and 50-year-old men continue to be employed by their fire services with their own slow times. If they can keep their jobs, so can the girls. If I had access to the finish times for all competitors, I could give a more solid analysis (Cf.Chix with Stix”).

I still have a folder of clippings concerning the machinations of the Toronto fire department in keeping women and minorities out of the service. They’d do things like believe every digit of a recruit’s performance score, claiming that a candidate with a 94% score really is better than one with a 93%. And by incredible coïncidence, all the 94% candidates end up being white males. (Keep in mind that several personal interviews are part of the hiring process, offering lots of room for injection of personal bias of the sort that results in single-digit percentage differentials.)

A recruit with a 93% rating is obviously a qualified firefighter. Or, if you want, set the bar at 95% and take everyone with that rating and above. If more recruits are available than can fit in the slots, pick the girls and minorities first; you have already eliminated the argument that they aren’t qualified, which is the only credible argument against affirmative action in this application. (We’re not revisiting the sins of the past on the men of the present; either they make the 95% minimum or they don’t. And if no wymmynz or minorities make the cut, you don’t have to hire any.)

Or the Toronto FD would require impossibly demanding physical aptitude tests of new recruits but would refuse to re-test existing firefighters to those same standards. The new recruits at least included females; on-the-job staff are almost all men. Coinkydink? There is still no evidence that the current physical-fitness assessment is applied to existing on-the-job crew. The effect is to exclude women on the putative grounds of physical unfitness while babying physically-unfit men already on the force.

In practice, then, new recruits will be in spectacular shape (in relative terms – the fittest women are unlikely to be as fit as the men, but they still qualify), while it is not particularly difficult to spot dumpy, out-of-shape old guys as they pass by on fire apparatus. Fair hiring practices have to include retroactive testing. Is the fire service the right place for “grandfathering”? If the bar gets raised, shouldn’t everybody have to meet the new spec?

What I want to see: More then one woman firefighter in the same house on the same shift (on the same apparatus, even). And the absolute elimination of the allegedly generic and non-ironic use of the term firemen.

Hezbollah-like splinter groups

Longtime fawny.blog readers will of course recall the scathing denunciation of vegetarians levied by Anthony Bourdain in his scabrous Kitchen Confidential (“Vegetarians, and their Hezobollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food”).

Bourdain’s supportable point, made over and over again in his books (including the new A Cook’s Tour), holds that vegetarians don’t know how to cook vegetables. Do they ever not. Heard of roasting, anyone? Every braised anything in your frigging lives?

Bourdain does in fact Tour the world as a Cook, engaging in truly queasying culinary spectacles that would be harrowing even to a carnivore. (He’s an unrepentant carnivore and even he was harrowed. He puts on a brave face that finally he knows where his food is coming from, but the discerning reader knows the truth: He’s been unmanned and hasn’t learned from the experience.)

At any rate, chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville, California (he’s an Andorran!) cooks Bourdain and his posse (accessibilitatus?) four distinct simultaneous 20-course tasting meals, with essentially no overlap in dishes. Bourdain’s quasi-alliterative, trance-like litany of courses verges on the hilarious with the sincere usage of quotation and French and Italian. (Keller’s œuvre, you see, involves reinterpretation of ‘classics.’ Where hack chefs toss around the ‘classic’ terminology, Keller sincerely ‘reinterprets’ it, with gravitas.)


Une salade fraîche au truffe noire with celery branch and celery-root vinaigrette. Hand-cut tagliatelle with Périgord truffles and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (The truffles were shaved tableside from a magnificent fist-sized monster.) Herb-roasted Chatham Bay cod ‘shank’ with a ‘fricasee’ of new-crop potatoes and applewood-smoked bacon emulsion.... ‘Lobster Navarin,’ sweet butter-poached Maine lobster with glazed pearl onions, spring vegetables, and sauce ‘Navarin’ (another crosscultural reference – ‘Navarin’ is usually associated with a heavy, old-school French country classic of braised lamb shoulder). Brioche-crusted ‘confit’ of North American moulard duck ‘foie gras’ with braised fennel, fennel salad, and Tellicerry pepper. ‘Gastrique’ milk-poached four-story Hills Farm ‘poularde au lait’ with ‘crème fraîche’ dumpling and ‘bouquetière’ of spring vegetables. Roasted Bellwether Farms spring lamb with a ‘cassoulet’ of spring pole beans and thyme-infused extra-virgin olive oil.... ‘Roquefort’ ricotta cheese ‘gnocchi’ with a Darjeeling-tea–walnut-oil emulsion, shaved walnuts, and grated Roquefort cheese. Hayden mango soup ‘et son brunoise’ (I love the ‘et son brunoise’ thing – very funny). Haas avocado salad with Persian lime sorbet. (Of all the plates that made their way round our table that night, this as the only one that landed with a thud. Scott’s comment was ‘This is waaay over my head. But then, I’m not that smart.’) ‘Coffee and doughnuts’ – cinnamon-sugared doughnuts with cappuccino semi-freddo (looking exactly like a coffee-shop doughnut sitting next to a Chock full.’ Nuts cup filled with cappuccino, but marvelous). ‘Mille-feuille à la crème de vanille et son confit d’ananas mignardise.’

(“Chock Full o’ Nuts,” shurely?!)

Yes, I did karaoke (not “carry Okie”) the other week. I did not, in fact, sing. But I assure suspicious readers that I am not Mr. Heckler. (I got there late, so I don’t even know who we’re talking about here. I politely or enthusiastically applauded all performers.)

To my pleasant surprise, the GTABloggeurs group seems quite able to accommodate eccentricities. The lavalike heat of vendetta is rapidly cooling, and we can expect two names to be deleted from my shitlist in due course.

As fucked-in-the-head Webloggers, we are all supposed to be marginal, the unkool kidz in school, but ontogeny replicates phylogeny and there are unkool kidz on our little lifeboat, too, whom I am going out of my way to be nice to. I also am trying to think of plausible group outings that do not relate to karaoke or bowling.


Obligatory link to fellow overlooked homosexualist

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY ALERT    Ken Gerrard’s site has the worst URL on the planet (home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~umgerra0/), exceeding the Katzenjammerish unintelligibility even of German university sites’, but he’s doing fun stuff with strange JavaScript reveal/hide mechanisms, and manages to be happy in Winnipeg. (Him and Guy Maddin?) With the new (half-arsed) Webcam, he even looks doable.

But what up with the urban-hipster dramatic teeny rectangular eyeglasses? This is Winnipeg.


The author nullifies
his already-minimal cred
by admitting he likes Carson Daly

As a cred-restoration gambit,
the author admits minor fandom of
the Planet SmashersMatt Collyer,
who resembles Carson Daly
but is cooler than him or the author


Posse accessibilitatus

I’m not leading the proper self-actualized gay life<hyphen>style – no booze, no nights out with the Gang, no having a fucking awesomely amazing fucking great time. So maybe I should concentrate on my calling instead. (Some of us have one. Doesn’t it trump booze, gangs, and awesomely amazing fucking? You tell me.)

In another social gesture that may or may not work out, now we’re having a movie night on the first Monday after a new accessible movie opens in Toronto. A posse accessibilitatus descends on the SilverCity Yonge & Eg and perplexes everyone else in the audience with their ridiculous caption reflectors and bright-LED description headsets.

Really, it’s a blind date (and you know how those tend to work out) every single month, possibly involving actual blind dates, if not deaf ones.

Govern yourselves accordingly.


Typecasting: Heart of the World

After a Sisyphean effort, I am actually quite proud to present Typecasting: Review of, and Commentary on, Film Typography. First example: Guy Maddin’s Heart of the World, which you can watch online in RealVideo.

By the way, nobody sent in thank-you cards for the shitloads of work I poured into the Libeskind iframe below. They’re hard to make, though the redoubtable Jukka Korpela has explained them well. Mine has four separate long descriptions. Does your browser let you read them? (No browser gives you access to more than three.)

Unclear on the concept

You could hear my eyes squeakily rolling skyward as far away as the lofts of Carlaw as I read the complaints about Michael Moore. Yes, Tubby’s on another book tour. This time, he made the mistake (or rather, his advance team did) of booking an audience into an inaccessible church auditorium.

The ramp... was installed years ago for a one-time event, is too steep, has no handrails, and is not easy to get to. I tell her that Wordsworth says the church is accessible, with a pretty good ramp. Revealing a more human side, Linda tells me how she never says the church is accessible, that Wordsworth knows better, and that the store has been renting the space for years. She is clearly upset by being responsible for talking to wheelchair users about access that is no access, while renters think the situation is fine.

[She’s] off the hook. Quick, a new flyer:

This Is Not a Wheelchair-Accessible Event!

Wordsworth has booked this venue with callous disregard for the access needs of disabled people. The church does not advertise itself as wheelchair accessible, because of a steep and dangerous ramp that does not have handrails. It is dangerous for any wheelchair user to try to enter this church. Wordsworth, the booking agency, and, ultimately, Michael Moore bear responsibility for this outrage. An inaccessible venue is the equivalent of a “Whites Only” establishment. As progressives, you should be appalled. We disabled progressives expect to be welcomed at every public event, and should not have to point out the irony of such discrimination occurring during a discussion of empowerment and true democracy.

High dudgeon indeed. But what is our critic missing here?

Based on my own experience putting on accessible events and writing manuals on how to put on accessible events, you cannot expect non-experts to do a really good job. Nor can you get angry with them, because they’re working from a position of ignorance. Only organizers with a repeated need to arrange accessible events ever manage to learn enough to do it right.

On the other hand, you can expect non-experts to do a passable job.

It is possible, then, for it to be quite a bother to make your first event accessible and a simple matter of making a few phone calls for subsequent events.

But most of all, someone at the top has to specifically state that accessibility is required. Ideally everyone would be aware of the issue, but in practice disability knowledge is quite rare. That’s why it makes more sense to get policies changed system-wide rather than bitching out some local pinko group for holding a single meeting in a creaky old church. And really, it isn’t Michael Moore’s fault in this case, though his “people” are the ones who can solve the problem in the future.

Oh, and one more thing. “Progressives” aren’t the only ones with responsibilities. Though conservatives are generally pro-disability (a little-known fact), they’re extra-clueless about real-world needs. I have generally unpleasant conversations with both ends of the spectrum on this topic. “Progressives” tell me they’ll let the “communities” themselves ask for specific accommodations (queer hyperleftist cant on “cultural appropriation” is misapplied here), while conservatives merely state that anyone who has the audacity to be crippled oughta pay for accommodation himself (sic).


“Identify the Beat” Mania!

Via John Peel, one discovered an insanity- and craving-inducing “hardcore” techno song entitled “Identify the Beat” by MARC SMITH v’s SAFE ’N SOUND / ENERGY v’s SAFE ’N SOUND (official orthography). John Peel himself admitted he and his crew played the song all day and still weren’t sick of it.

Me too, and neither am I!

Two audio sources:

  1. RealAudio stream
  2. RealAudio file (note that the filetype is incorrect, but dragging it onto RealPlayer should work; try downloading it from the main page)


Daniel Libeskind’s amyloid plaques

It was a fait accompli that the grande dame of the Royal Ontario Museum, William Thorsell, would advocate for the most radical possible “reinvention” of the ROM. The winning design, by Daniel Libeskind, is the kind of thing only really, really smart people don’t find ugly. And in truth, if you assured them anonymity, wouldn’t those smart people admit they say they like the design so nobody will get wind of the fact that they don’t get it, either?

Or maybe they secretly hate it, but assume that only rubes would dare admit that.

The design, consisting of four crystal-like pyramids colonizing the existing symmetrical stone structure, is the sort of thing I’d imagine using around nuclear waste dumps to scare illiterate future generations shitless. (See impossibly profound examples.) The frigging thing wraps right around the north end of the ROM and covers 2/3 of a window.

The last time I witnessed this sort of thing, a 24-legged starfish (yes, 24) was enveloping a crustacean. Artists’ renderings of fights between giant squid and sperm whales come to mind.

Where is the front door? Don’t front doors have to be vertical? The crystals meet grade at an angle.

The design is terrifying. As unbalanced as a postmodern housing development, walking by it you think it’s going to squash you like the primitive biological organism you are. It is a crystalline superstructure from the future invading, colonizing, parasitizing, dominating, and sodomizing the past. It is an architectural Ice-9.

Indeed, there is ice to consider. The thing probably won’t leak; getting that right is merely a question of putting enough money into it. But look at the angles. Ice, snow, rain, and melted ice and snow are all gonna shoot off that thing like a luger down a mountain. Heat the glass (with wires or an electroconductive gold layer like a Lincoln windshield) and the transparency is impaired. (We can hardly have that.) You also guarantee continuous water sloughing off in sheets half the year. Soaked passersby, flooded sidewalks. Quite the “dialogue” this building “engages,” isn’t it?

What do these cubes really look like? Let’s be honest. They look like Bracket fungi on the side of a tree – an alien creature imposing its own morphology onto a host’s. Or, more aptly, the amyloid plaques that leave behind holes in the brain with Alzheimer’s, mad-cow disease, and their ilk.

Two hundred million dollars. Two hundred million dollars, and what we get is a kind of Scotch on the rocks of the gods. I don’t think so.


Jonathan Hoefler, come on down!

Whose secret typographic epistolary history has finally been unearthed from Ten Years Ago in Spy?

Here’s to you, Jonathan Hoefler!

Scenes from the class structure at Yumei Sushi

Balding late-30s executive asks the tencho “What do you use the quail eggs for?” (he knows they’re quail eggs but not their function?) and “How many kinds of eel to you have?” (admittedly, less maddening than the übertwee “How many eels do you have?”).

He goes on to edify his ample, blond, self-satisfied, pampered princess gf unit: “ ‘Sukiyaki’ is what I made for the Japanese Grand Prix. It’s basically a stew.”

Thanks for clearing that up.



Details (“for men”) assaults the senses this month (March ’02) with a fluorescent-orange accent colour bearing no apparent relevance to the issue’s theme “Generation X Ten Years Later.” (If you’re going to spring for five-colour printing, pick a shade that doesn’t leave retinal afterimages.)

The anchor story is not in fact the Ethan Hawke interview (a nice exercise in metajournalism by Rick Moody) but the mock apologia from Douglas Coupland Himself. The blurry digicam author photo, unfit for publication in the first place, cruelly reveals Coupland’s spooky, pasty homeliness; the mugshot does, however, do a good job of camouflaging the persistent pseudofolliculitis barbæ problem on his neck. (I live with it too: Ingrown shaving hairs.) But in the piece, Coupland misrepresents the origins of the term Generation X and undercuts his own journalistic history.

The millionaire commentator–author–æsthete writes:

It’s now becoming ever harder to recall a time when there didn’t exist that possibly meaningless term to describe a possibly meaningless group of people who possibly don’t exist.

Hard to recall a time? Coupland should have no more trouble than I do, because I have a copy of an article entitled “Generation X: The Young and Restless Work Force Following the Baby Boom” from the short-lived Canadian business magazine Vista (from 1989; issue date is not listed on the copy). The author of the piece? Doug Coupland [sic]. Don’t confuse it with the later Vista comic strip (to which you’ll find many references); this is the original article, also illustrated with comix in what would later become a signature X style.

Los Angeles sociologist Susan Littwin calls [these] young people... members of the Postponed Generation in her 1986 book of the same title. British punk-rock star Billy Idol calls them Generation X.

Idol didn’t quite “call them Generation X”; that was the name of a band he fronted, itself derived in 1976 from “a ’60s paperback called Generation X, a romantic account of Mods and Rocker violence.” Bandmate Tony James “thought it would make a great name for the group. After phoning all their friends, who hated it, they decided to use it anyway.”

Billy Idol did not, in fact, name an entire generation X. He didn’t even coin the phrase, but his own use of Generation X dates back to 1976. (The original book appears to be Generation X: What’s Behind the Rebellious Anger of Britain’s Untamed Youth? by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson.)

Thereafter in the article, Coupland uses the term Type X 17 times, X by itself 32 full times, and Generation X exactly once. That makes a total of three usages of Generation X (one headline, one Billy Idol citation, and one spontaneous use).

So it is, in fact, pretty easy to pinpoint when Coupland started to use the term Generation X: When he wrote the Vista article for publication in 1989. And by his own admission, he didn’t coin the phrase. (If anything, the term Coupland invents is Type X.) Presumably the “time when there didn’t exist” the term Generation X came to a halt when Hamblett and Deverson wrote their book no more than three years after Coupland was born.

“Gen X... [is] proving to be a difficult McGuffin to discard... because it’s so broad and blank that you can mould it into whatever you need,” Coupland writes in Details. Yeah, you can even mould it into a disingenuous falsification of the historical record you wrote yourself. This is a bit of a shame: It’s not widely recognized that Coupland is a perfectly capable journalist in the narrative-nonfiction genre, mincing in the grand footsteps of Capote (Cf.Microserfs” – not the book – and his excellent apocalyptic Y2K piece in Wallpaper<asterisk>). He’s also an effective television presenter: Coupland’s CPAC Doubletake interview with Chilliwack photorealistic painter Chris Woods was an accomplished mix of relaxed conversation, erudition, and exposition.

In the Details piece, Douglas Coupland downplays the monster he created (“In my head it’s only ever been a book I wrote”). That horse won’t hunt, and anyway, it sounds more like a kind of psychological projection. He’s denying that the term Generation X is particularly important to him when he would have been on stronger ground admitting its origins in his own journalistic prehistory – and owning up to the fact that those two simple words made him.


dwell (sic)
beats the shite out of

I muttered “Where have you been all my life?!” with a dreamy sigh upon finally buying an ish of Dwell (perverse corporate orthography: dwell [sic]). I had fingered the previous issue of this bimonthly, but foolishly failed to buy it, and it immediately disappeared from the entire city.

Karrie Jacobs is the editrix. I never wrote for her, but I used to read Metropolis, her Nueva York–centric design broadsheet, circa 1989. (I seem to recall a very young, impossibly smart and talented editor named Hugo. Has anything bad ever happened to this lad? And why can’t I track him down now?) She’s got a noticeable anti-twee approach to design. She writes with actual heart. Design is the sort of thing that is actually lived day by day; it is not something merely nice for rich wankers to have.

I’m being unduly generous here. I am certainly the most sarcastic and – wait for it! – curmudgeonly design writer of the late 20th century. (I’m barely in that business anymore, though I do have two articles coming out in Print this year.) Design criticism breaks into two equally discreditable camps: De facto advertorials (e.g., newspaper pieces by gay writers on lamps, tables, rugs) and overwrought theoretical exercises. This is design, people. It’s only kind of important. It simply cannot support the freight of academic jargon, and pretty but frivolous luxury knickknacks are not worthy of our attention.

Here’s a question for you: If Karim Rashid products are as important as people let on, could someone please explain why nobody, not even him, has come up with a genuinely easy-to-use remote control? (It’s gotta work for the crips, too.) Why is so much ink spilled about marginally differentiated, mass-produced moulded plastic consumer products, yet nothing concerning real-world design problems? You can make things look nice, but they have to work first.

(Other examples: Microsoft type defaults ¶ Doorknobs ¶ Garbage bags ¶ Single-family homes ¶ Voicemail systems ¶ Child restraints ¶ CD and DVD cases ¶ Milk cartons ¶ Dental instruments)

Dwell (which “earnest[ly]... seeks to explore the intellectual side of design, as well as issues of class, culture and ecological responsibility”) appears to stake out the same territory as Wallpaper<asterisk>: Self-consciously overdesigned Modernist architecture and design. But not really: Wallpaper<asterisk> – a conceit of a nouveau-riche arriviste often seen in aggressively monochrome clothing clutching a manpurse and declaring “It’s not about homosexuality or het’rosexuality, it’s about metrosexuality” – embodies a “totalitarian æsthetic,” in the words of one of the magazine’s own staff in a television interview.

The magazine is a parody of itself. But the tail of the brontosaurus had not heard the news that that head has died: Feature stories and city travelogues remain solid even though the whole beast is gonna topple eventually. The quisling milquetoast who runs the show admits it; why else do Liné and Spruce even exist? Gotta extend the brand, particularly now that AOL owns it.

(Isn’t that a killer? Who would have thought a conglomerate could have worse taste than Microsoft? The fussy little man must really stamp his well-shod feet when imagining a gormless suit like Steve Case running his show.)

Dwell seems more interested in the real world. Or the real world enjoyed by people one increment luckier, richer, and more fabulous than you and me. People who live in progressive neighbourhoods, which has nothing to do with accepting alternative sexualisms and everything to do with welcoming Modernist and postmodernist construction styles.

Typography (Quadraat, News Gothic) is OK, I guess. Photography is terrific – a double-truck spread (pp. 70–71) is a tremendously effective collage of house porn, scale models, performance-art danseuses in nuns’ habits, and amber tints. Tufte would have a conniption over Craig Bromley’s illustration of U.S. gardening climate zones made of wild rice and beans. Some work needs to be done on the book’s human subjects: Either stop pretending so very many of them aren’t brittle, instantly dislikable ur-yuppies or find people who genuinely are not. I suppose it comes with the territory.

It seems the April ish includes the literally quintessential Dwell feature: A rich, difficult-to-like couple, deluding themselves that they fit in anywhere in the Deep South, built an aggressively postmodern house in a Quiet Suburban Neighbourhood. It’s got angles coming out its arse, hideous, canonically alienating industrial “cladding” materials, and a particularly queasying interior “sculpture” that labours to mock George Bush the elder.

These people are as hard to like as their house. I’m on their side anyway, because their uneducated vulgarian neighours attempt to take them to court over some obscure “deed restriction”:

The Lakeside subdivision’s deed restrictions stipulate that homes in the neighbourhood be built with so-called traditional materials: Brick, brick veneer, stucco, or stone.... What the house did have was corrugated metal and polycarbonate plastic [tautology, shurely?! – Ed.], and according to this newly-formed neighbourhood coalition, their use violated the deed restrictions (and, by extension, tradition).... But these same deed restrictions also stipulated that African-Americans could not live in the neighbourhood. So how enforceable was this document?

Not, obviously, and anyone who attempts to get it enforced is an outright racist, quite apart from also being a rube: “ ‘My clients and I are all college-educated,’ [some lawyer] continues, unintentionally revealing what is truly at issue – a lack of familiarity with contemporary design that often generates a defensive response.... ‘We’re not averse to good architecture.’ ” Note that the deed restrictions also ban wood and any kind of aluminum or vinyl siding.

The owners of this house are just slightly better than you and me. But their opponents are significantly worse.

Mixed feelings of this sort continue unabated in Jacobs’ own entrail-dissection of a subdivision in Prospect, Colorado, replete with repellent New Urbanist designs mixed literally chockablock with self-parodic postmodernist confections that look unbalanced enough to fall apart right before your eyes. (Note to architects: Off-colour siding makes poor kids like us think of portable classrooms at our old, decrepit schools. We think portables, we think mould [third usage today – Ed.], we think exclusion from the real school. We do not think home.) “Ben Beierwaltes, 23, the director of marketing for Colorado Time Systems” owns a particularly interesting all-black house, but his youthful hubris queers the picture.

The article, however, totally sold me on the mad genius paying all the bills, a former Mexican-onion farmer (note the hyphen) named Kiki Wallace. A middle-aged man named Kiki Wallace. Even his name abuts postmodern confection against timeworn structure.

You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna pitch Karrie Jacobs some article ideas, plus ante up for all the back issues. Dwell is my Brill’s Content manqué – my favourite niche magazine with high production values that I discovered halfway through its babyhood. On the plus side, Dwell doesn’t have Steve Brill upstairs to drive it into a landfill.



How amusing to note that Jonno won the award for which he sponsored the prize. If the fix was in, why didn’t I sweep the category I actually wanted – the one that actually makes sense?

Meanwhile, those bells you hear signify that an angel just got his wings.


“Oh, slow down! You’re gonna crash!

Girl Power iMac’s hard drive is in suspended animation. Power to it simply ceased. I believe this is not the same as a crash or a freeze. It’s in the shop, likely for weeks.


iPoint Computing closed. “Unexpectedly.” The way successful suicide attempts are said to have “died suddenly.” It was no surprise: The day I picked up Girl Power (2001.04.10), their phone wasn’t working. I wonder why.

So I made a command decision, after the manner of firemens (again): You do the first thing you usually do in a similar circumstance unless something is obviously wrong with it. I schlepped over to CPUsed.

The superbly understanding and menschlike service manager explained that, after iPoint went mams-up, downtown dealers were swamped with service calls. I counted 26 devices on the floor that were queued up ahead of me, and the mensch added (twice!) that an entire wall of shelves and a back room held even more machines. He expected eight or nine business days would pass before they even cracked open Girl Power. I consider that optimistic.

I am working on the assumption that the entire hard drive is f<asterisk><asterisk><asterisk>ed. I think it actually will not be, but nonetheless, if that is so, I have sufficient backups not to really have lost much. One is going to invest in full-on Retrospect and FireWire external drives, assuming one can earn the money.

At present, I enjoy the G4 Cube a munificent friend lent me, attached to my old and still-stunning AudioVision 1710AV, which has never given me so much as an upcurled lip of trouble. The generosity is gobsmacking. So is OS X, for that matter.

If anyone cares, I’ve got two more accessible cinema reviews up. And one of them is a real mofo!


The virtues of the self-timer

Corin has a superb self-portrait on his splash page. I suppose splash pages have a purpose after all. This one does.

I find him estimable. It’s the goddamned eyes and lips. Why am I so sentimental about those? What kind of a girl am I turning into?


Multitasking Matthew Shepard

OK, first of all I need to remind everyone that the definitive article on Matthew Shepard was described as follows in a very old blog posting I will simply excerpt rather than link to (or you can skip it):

One was quite stunned by JoAnn Wypijewski’s article “A Boy’s Life” in the September 1999 Harper’s (unavailable online). Though it could have used one more editing pass to make it absolutely crystal-clear, the story makes a very strong case that the killing of Matthew Shepard was not per se an act of overt homophobia but one of failed manliness.

  1. Much remains unknown about the Shepard case. Just why was he talking to Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney? Was it, as Camille Paglia suggested (and Dan Savage supported), a quest for rough trade? (“Does anyone really believe that Shepard, educated in Switzerland, thought those two barely-literate hoodlums were gay or that he left the bar with them for cozy tea and conversation?”) But gay boys are often lonely. They prefer male companions. The more idealistic of this group tell themselves that friendships can and do transcend sexuality. (Why shouldn’t it? They want everyone to accept them irrespective of their sexuality; what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.) So getting to know rough boys from the other side of town might make sense in a misplaced Woodstockian way. In reality we choose our male friends in part because of their sexiness – or rather, our straight male friends, if we have any; inverts are notoriously bad at getting along with straight guys, who are much less of a problem than lore would suggest.
  2. Wypijewski: “[S]ix years ago no one called it a hate crime when the body of a gay UW professor, Steve Heyman, was found dumped by the side of a road in Colorado.” Steve Heyman is influential in my career, such as it is. He phoned me out of the blue in, I think, 1992, and asked me to present a paper on homoeroticism in sports media at the American Psychological Association conference in Toronto in 1993. Heyman had read my article in the Village Voice on the topic and cottoned to it. He also invited the other Usual Suspects of the Toronto gay-sports demimonde, Brian Pronger and Helen Lenskyj. The session went over well, and we repaired to a bar to decompress afterward. But Brian and I could not really figure Steve out. We had made fun of his name, pronouncing it hippy-style as “Hey, man!”; we couldn’t understand what an out psychology professor could possibly be doing in Wyoming. It seemed dangerous even then. Later I received a letter stating that Steve was dead. I rang the university; I was told that, when Steve drank, he drank big, and that probably had something to do with it. But his body was dumped on the lee side of a tall fence alongside a highway. Someone had gone to all that trouble. While it was certainly at least a death by misadventure, to this day it smells fishy. Was Heyman’s death a prefigurement of Shepard’s? Was a quest for rough trade also at play?
  3. I’ve been thinking more lately about my dead friend Ron Kelly. Circa 1989/1990, when AIDS Action Now<bang>, the activist group that was a half-arsed analogue of ACT UP, was going strong here, one of the few boys who took a liking to me was Ron, who stood about 5′6″ and could easily have been hung up on a wooden coat hanger. Blond, glasses, moustache, and a really big mouth. Widely despised by the hateful lesbiana demagogues who dominated the other not-quite-as-good-as-the-Manhattan-original provocateur group de l’instant, Queer Nation. (“And don’t give me any of your condescending comebacks, ’cause I’m a little guy and guys like me get beaten up first!” Go, Ron!) I was too young and green to truly get Ron. I didn’t know what to make of his frequent phone calls, in which he showed a genuine interest in me. I don’t think there was anything sexual at work. (Or maybe there was; I’m blind to that wavelength most of the time.) Ron was upfront about knowing he wouldn’t beat the big A; he didn’t mind the disease as much as the chilly reception by should-be defenders like ACT and AIDS Action Now, neither of which supported his human-rights complaint against York University. I witnessed the AAN politburo’s iciness and disdain firsthand, and will never forgive them.
  4. So are the small fags at the bottom of the totem pole? Especially now, when interchangeable depilated cookie-cutter 180-pound steroid monsters are the only acceptable face of Our Diverse Communities™? Are small straight guys even worse off? When they fall short of manhood, it’s a surprise; when inverts do so, it’s expected.
  5. Wypijewski runs a quote from a documentarian explaining that, with greater understanding of homosexuality, straight guys start to second-guess themselves – not that they’re queer or anything, but it’s the second-guessing that creates a hesitation filter (one of my neologisms). What was once automatic now is delayed by a heartbeat as you wonder if it really ought to be automatic. Richard Rodriguez poked at this phenomenon in Salon: “The men who murdered Matthew Shepard are not, I think, typical of most heterosexuals in America. But their anger against him is, I think, telling. They hated Matthew Shepard not because he was a loser in America, but because he was winning. And who knows? Maybe that’s what they desperately needed to disprove to their girlfriends.”
  6. Wypijewski tells us that McKinney and Henderson’s need to avoid wussiness – or at least the accusation of it – and their difficult upbringings, not incidentally including drug abuse and fetal alcohol syndrome, act together as a more complicated, harder-to-pinpoint, more powerful substitute for the homophobia levied at them. Is she right?

Descriptions of the Heyman case here; obituary, carefully sanitized; tribute by a friend.

Aaron Barnhart tells us a few unexpected things about the filmic form of The Laramie Project:

OK, then – back to the film. Do you approach it the same way? Do you say, “Are there new forms here?”

Yes. Absolutely. When I got into that editing room, I posed that question to the editor. “How can we use editing to talk about” – we came up with the idea of split screens. Multiple screens. Text over one shot that led to the text over the other. “Tectonic,” as you know, is art inside of structure. We approach this from a very structuralist perspective. And it was that question that led to a lot of the work. I said to Brian [Kates,] our editor, “Be bold.” I wanted the film to be such that if an editor were watching it, he or she would get a thrill out of it. [...]

And then that fabulous montage of subtitles in languages throughout the world.

Wasn’t that moving? But again, that was an answer to a very pragmatic question. “You know what? It reached the world. How do we tell that story?”

Somehow I still envision Two Pianos, Four Hands, but with added liberal guilt. I want to see if they flub the onscreen type. It generally is.


“In a minute, OK?”

Took disco-nap. Got up. Fag TV was boring. Deathmetal videos had too much strobing even for someone without epilepsy. But lo and behold, instead of the scheduled cheerleading on TSN we found the moral opposite: Firefighters Combat Challenge. Keith Maidment, come on down!

Apart from a field of Vikings in full-on turnout coats and SCBA (appropriately breathtaking on both counts – note the 240-pound redhead in suspenders and no shirt cooling off under firehose), I observed with fascination the difference in course times: Fastest man did it in 1:19, the fastest woman in 2:26. A minute is a long friggin’ time in a burning building. Would you like to eat fumes for that extra time? I wonder what the correspondence might be between performance here and in the real world.

And as the firemenz “challenge” comes to an end, at the other end of the dial, Pridevision runs actual gay porn. Welcome to diversity.

Details (“for men”)

Late in the previous century, I wrote a couple of dumb-arse record reviews for Details (“for men”), a subtitle that would later go the way of the dodo. My editor was the mumbling, self-aggrandizing nobody Gavin Edwards, who would go on to write two immortal bestsellers of misheard song lyrics. Whenever I wonder if I could have succeeded better in journalism, I remind myself that succeeding like Gavin Edwards is so very much worse.

En tout cas, Fairchild now owns Details and some kid edits it. Its tediously uninviting hepcat-d00d covers – Johnny Depp, Jude Law – nevertheless marginally beat out the strained heterosexualism of the lad rags and, of course, GQ and Esquire, the latter of which remains well-written and a paragon of graphic design.

g in Else, Enigma, Friz Quadrata And actually, Details shows intense planning and good taste that nonetheless raises questions in my mind on every spread. Body copy is in Enigma (at centre in illo) by the redoubtable Jeremy Tankard, a minor god in my cosmos. (Shire Types! Yes, sir!) But, as with Else (at left), the bicameral g, whose bottom half does not quite connect with the top, stops me dead while I read it. I literally retrace the bowl of the g and grind to a halt when I realize it doesn’t hook up. That never happens with Friz Quadrata (at right).

Display type is... poor. Full stop. There is, moreover, a palsied, derivative attempt at full-page typographic collages of the sort Stolling Rhône has nailed for decades. But display type is significantly harder to get right anyway: The temptation is to show off. Resist temptation: “Underplay!” as Julia Roberts commanded Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding. (I will date you for one night, and let you get to first base, if you typeset and print a commercial job with Optima body copy and Palatino heds. True Palatino, not the Adobe. Substitute Aldus if necessary. In fact, that should be your first choice.) True enough, Details has enough money to hire proper talent; it’s a clear weakness of the current art director, Rockwell Harwood (actual name).

Pages use such a strict grid system that the Know & Tell section’s intro page actually is a grid, and a juvenile one at that. The prime accent colour is a chocolatey burgundy, like molé or fake cinematic blood, a shade I have always enjoyed. Adequate fotoz, but I’m sorry, the fags running Esquire are the ones with a lock on the best talent.

We got some good writing, though. Sean Elder:

Affleck’s problem with booze seems so passé, so hopelessly Lost Weekend. But for all their sleek, get-there-quick charm, the latest synthetic opiates and designer sex pills aren’t all that social – no one gets together after work for a Vicodin – and Affleck is very much a social animal. Booze, of the old-fashioned Rat Packy vodka-and-Guinness sort, chased with lots of cigarettes, was his drug of choice. [...] “I’m one of those people that finds no idea what to do with myself when I’m not busy,” Affleck said in July [2001], “and as a consequence, I end up getting in trouble.”

Then we get to the famous David Rakoff (actual name). I just read his book, Fraud. It’s remarkably unfunny. Solid first-person journalism, but he’s no David Sedaris. He’s not even an Anthony Bourdain. Magazines delight in sending the homosexualist Hebrew Canadian on heterosexualist and/or spiritualist and/or wilderness and/or survivalist reportage. In this case, it’s a Playboy shoot in Belize. Opening photo (by Larry Fink [actual name]) shows a blond with a reasonably solid bod and good proportions who wears a ribbed white tank top. Somewhere else in the shot is a chick, plus another guy. So who’s really the star here?

The photographer. In the shot. The blond.

Jarmo, the Finnish stills photographer, is here. With his deep tan, silver-blond hair, and ice-blue eyes, he resembles one of those cyborgs whose scientist-creator unveils him with a portentous “Gentlemen, may I present... the perfect killing machine!”

In-house Apple design Brit Jonathan Ive (actual name) is shown in one sexy and one unsexy photograph, surrounded by an article more interested in his car than his acumen. Design writers are crap, and this wasn’t even written by a design writer, unless Carl Swanson’s got a portfolio I don’t know about. Then again, this fellow cannot even run his snatchmail.

Christopher Hitchens: “A rule of thumb with humour: If you worry that you might be going too far, you have already not gone far enough.” (Mrs. Krabappel: Ha!) “If everybody laughs, you have failed.”

Cynthia Cotts (redoubtable): “A longtime [Dave Eggers] defender is HarperCollins executive editor David Hirshey. [Eggers is difficult] ‘but he’s worth the Sturm und Drang. We’re in such a homogeneous culture that when someone with a distinctive voice comes along, you put up with more crap than you normally would.’ ” Words to live by, shurely.

In successive issues, we deal with a nude sauna photograph of an anorexic jockey, who really does look like he’s about to keel over dead, and a back shot of a solidly-build model in post-ablution mode. Why, yes, those are hairs on the shoulder and that is body copy telling us how to get rid of it. “Back, neck, and shoulder hair is more avoidable than ever”: Considering what it’s attached to here, why go to all the trouble?

Naturally, I have a complaint: When they get mumbling, self-aggrandizing nobody Degen Pener out of the entertainment-editor Oh chair, then we’ll talk.



Well, there I was sashaying out of the senior-citizen Timothy’s on rue de l’Église after speed-reading the almost-content-free Esquire... when suddenly I espied the lovely and talented Guy Gagnier sitting at a table. In the cold. Wearing only a sweater. Editing some kind of script.

As usual, it takes two or three paces before sensory information store tells me what just happened. I bravely retraced my steps and introduced myself, living a cherished dream.

– Guy Gagnier.

– Yes?

I am Joe Clark.

A delightful conversation was had. Guy was pretty shocked to learn that my complaints about Pridevision (whom I have unilaterally elected to give a break, remember) amount to the following. Krystle, c’est hard pour moi de te dire ceci:

Probably also get rid of the cooking shows. Beyond that, I am, strangely enough, a believer.

Guy’s a tad more disappointed with the current Volt generation than I. He remembers the good old days, when Marie Turgeon hadn’t done a total fucking Céline frigging Dion and demanded that none of her episodes ever air again. Tinpot dictatrix. No wonder she feels right at home in Montreal.

I spontaneously coined the term antidilettantism to describe my philosophy for ’02. In other words, someone like Rachel Giese should not hopscotch from “journalism” at Xtra to the homosexualist film festival to “journalism” again, which, she told a reporter, she always knew she would return to. Guy did much the same thing: Volt, then some kind of international-development work at UBC, then Pridevision.

Man, was the wind blowing hard. I had to go. My teeth were clattering.

Nonetheless, it’s nice to have met him. He’s much more formidable in person than his cutesy televisual appearance would suggest, and we are loving the eyebrows.

Next conquest: Paul DeBoy. As fucking if.


In the course of trawling for banner ads to render into boring plain text for the book, I found a dreamy cache of overwrought, minty-fresh, candy-coloured-clown-they-call-the-Sandman advertising from Finland. I have mixed and matched the sources (Avotakka, Eeva, Hyvä Ateria, Meidän Mökki, Meidan Tälo – all apparently wymmynz magazines).

Finncollage 1
Finncollage 2
Finncollage 3
Finncollage 4

I love this shit.


A persnickety singularity

J. “Jilly” MacDowell writes:

Just thought I’d mention that I’ve perused two of Joe Clark’s four Weblogs (the gay-centric one and the persnickety one) regularly since I become a “blogger” and I almost never know what the hell he is talking about.

I laughed for a full minute.

And then it hit me:

The persnickety one? The? A plural is in order here, shurely.


You said a mouthful!

My (admittedly very solid) Symbolizing Accessibility piece is going over well, to which I am unaccustomed. Like:

Joe Clark diskutiert das Problem ein Symbol für Accessibility im Kontext von Computern, Websites, und Multimedia zu finden...

You know, it’s times like these where I really wish I could read German.

Disturbing search requests

This week, the following phrase was plugged into my search engine four full times:

joe clark is an asshole steve champeon

I am having trouble parsing this one. I am treating it as though steve champeon is a noun phrase (which it is) and asshole as in adjective (which it is). I am reading the sentence along the lines of “Steve Nash is the [Canadian [Michael Jordan]],” hence “Joe Clark is the [asshole [Steve Champeon]].”



“What you need to know about the captive husbandry of octopuses [sic] and cuttlefishes [sic]”

Cannibal Octopi of Lesbos!

Most octos will adapt to frozen fish or shrimp as a primary diet. It is a ton of fun to occasionally invest in a live crab and watch your octo go into “Terminator” mode. That crab will never know what hit it. Octos don’t really like fish that much but they will take adult guppies or goldfish as a pleasant change from a steady diet of frozen fish or shrimp. You should plan on feeding your octo at least every other day. If you were to have two or more octos together, or an octo with some other reef creatures, then you better feed it every day to be safe.

God, I love squid. They also terrify me.


“When you say ‘blockage,’
you mean ‘growth’ ”

Our operating philosophy for 2002 combines:

  1. the oft-repeated singularity of the life of Anthony Burgess, in which he was falsely diagnosed with a fatal brain tumour that spurred him to churn out eight books in a year, and
  2. Karaoke, the standard-bearer of autobiographical intertextuality by Dennis Potter, in which the screenwriter protagonist levels a cold eye at his physician and half-asks, half-informs him “When you say ‘blockage,’ you mean ‘growth’ ”

So I am putting the pedal to the metal this year. I am in no health trouble, but I will act as though I am. There was a lot of “blockage” in ’01 as I knew new orders of procrastination. Another year later and I get a free intertextual bonus in the form of a pun: With the blockage comes growth.

Quite simply, I am going to fuck shit up. Mark my words. It’s already happening.


Event horizons

What’s Philo saying these days?

New Year’s Day I sat down with my datebook and my non-cellular phone and began my official attempts in reconnecting with the many who had fallen by the wayside during 2001.... I find it very telling that Walley was leaving a voicemail for me explaining that when she doesn’t hear from gay men in her life over time it routinely means they’ve become drug addicts [or] drunks, or are dying of AIDS while I was leaving her a message of my own. Her noting that the past nine months of total silence was no longer acceptable, regardless of what was going on, speaks volumes to how much she cares about me. We’re having dinner tomorrow night. As for when I called Aunt Kay, who lives right here in the Bay Area, her first words were, “You’re Alive! It’s a miracle!” I’m imagining that you’re getting the picture that I’m not exactly exaggerating here by now. And no, people, I’m not on drugs. I’m not drunk. I’m not dying of AIDS.

The truth, that’s what.



“Who’s your deity?” “You, Big Daddy! You my deity!”

Mercedes: It’s us or it’s DEATH.


A faceplant and a smile

(Bingo & a Movie, shurely?!)

The eetcarstray had to stop to let a fire engine by. I find this notable for reasons I don’t understand. Shortly, I disembarked to the sounds of distant but closing sirens – and full-on Coal Miner’s Daughter black smoke pouring out the chimney of the Chinese-food plant at the corner. (It’s one of four in the neighbourhood, your hotspot for faggy Modernist furniture, days-long, Chernobyl-style toxic fires, and live C&W music at 1970s-style taverns bearing four-story likenesses of the Duke.)

I’m like, Should I call the fire department? Then it becomes obvious the sirens are converging on the plant. I’m all Wow, do I get to meet Keith Maidment?

Four engines (one a hazmat, none a ladder) arrive. I grin expectantly at the Real-Life Heroes™, the cutest of whom gives me a huge smile. (Not the first time. Only the comely firemens acknowledge me.) He bravely jumps off the apparatus and face-plants right into the snow.

“Judge Number 1: 5.9,” I say as he gets right up and flashes me yet another smile.

What up wit dat, as I believe the youngsters have a habit of saying?

True to the caste structure of firefighting, superspecialist firemens in what appear to be pitch-black police uniforms (and no helmets, turnout coats, or SCBA) immediately clump together and exchange hey-haven’t-seen-you-in-a-whiles. They look like watered-down SWAT manqués. And they’re nasty. One gives me a dirty look and comes within a half-second of telling me off after I say “Careful” just before he backs into me.

It turns out the plant was merely having furnace trouble, and furnacemens were there working on it. The echt-firemens-styled acting captain (grizzled, late 50s, stache like a horse’s mane) wraps everybody up. I chat with one of the lads, who confirms that one must dingle the firemens whenever black smoke is seen; it indicates incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons.

But where was the redhead with the firehose and the suspenders? I want my money back.

Beats the shite out of Klingon

Script typefaces are tonyahardingesque because they put on airs. They attempt to jump from utilitarianism directly to glitz without paying intervening dues or even taking up work as a government lobbyist. They leap from nylon Raiders bomber jacket, jeans, and off-brand sneakers to fringe jacket, raccoon eye makeup, and sequins! sequins! sequins!

Because that’s how fancy people dress, right?

I nonetheless have a soft spot for script faces and would like to figure out a way to use them properly. It is not widely known that Zapf Chancery is a magnificent example of typeface engineering. LaserWriters came equipped with the Medium Italic variant, ensurings its tasteless use on garage-sale flyers worldwide and concealing the fact that the family contains at least eight variants, including small caps. It is entirely feasible to typeset a novella in Zapf Chancery. It is that good.

(There are no adequate samples online. PostScript variations actively rewrite and suppress the history of this face, as they do with so many ITC families. One will have to look this up from books.)

At any rate, the best scripts are imaginary scripts.


Fawny salutes Faun Rosenberg!

We explore the eerily occult-like linkage between Spy and the National Lampoon High School Yearbook Parody. Do a Quantum Leap (actually on the air in new episodes while I read the magazine) and join us Ten Years Ago in Spy.

Scenes from the Class Structure
of Computer Backup

Girl Power is in the house. Software has been restored, as have most documents, save for the month-long Dead Zone of collective amnesia that may or may not be recovered. And nearly all those are merely E-mail messages, for which I am a completist. But completism is not strictly necessary. I cannot honestly say I need to refer to, re-send, or reply to any message received in the Dead Zone. There may be one or two mailing-list messages I could readily dig up from Web archives.

Computer users fall into two classes: GAMBLERS and SURE THINGS.

You’re a SURE THING if you’ve got the money for backup storage devices (ideally several – a spare hard disc, a DAT drive, and CD-R; Jaz, SyQuest, and DVD-RAM are peripherally viable), and even more money for proper Retrospect. Cory Doctorow is a SURE THING.

And here I am, a pathological worrier in the guise of an SF writer. For me, the worry revolves around backup. I fear the coming infopocalypse, the day that my place is burgled and my half-dozen-or-so computers are stolen, the big quake, the fire, the flood. My fiction lost forever. My financials, so painstakingly spreadsheeted, gone. Likewise, my E-text collection, 60,000 archived E-mails going back to the early ’90s, and 10 GB of MP3s. I take backup seriously.

My network is backed up to a 70 GB tape every night, and once a week, I swap the tape into a safe-deposit box, along with a backup of my Visor on a backup cartridge. But that’s not really good enough – what if the hemisphere is destroyed? That’s why I also encrypt my data – my entire body of written work, my financials, and an image of my Visor’s ROM -- and upload it to a server in Australia once a month. Just in case.

I’m highly opinionated on the subject of backup. In order to be a proper backup, you must:

Backup is tricky. Used to be, I could back up a 10-computer network on an 8 GB tape. Every computer I’ve bought in the last 18 months has shipped with at least 10 GB of hard-drive. It’s getting harder and harder to fit a whole network onto one tape (and putting it onto two tapes is a non-starter, since you’ll have to remember to swap the tapes once cassette one is filled). Not to mention getting that whole backup accomplished overnight, when you’re not actually attempting to use your computers.

Adam Engst is another SURE THING.

Now, what is an undiscussed irony of the 20th and indeed the 21st century? You can be rich enough to own a computer with a net connection but too poor for adequate backup equipment. This cohort are GAMBLERS. It is a generally reasonable gamble:

  1. Computers are reliable. (I’ll reiterate that: Computers are reliable. They are – at the level of losing your data.)
  2. You are unlikely to lose-drop-misplace your entire computer.
  3. Theft is unlikely.
  4. Infopocalypse is unlikely. Your house will probably not burn down.

You’re acting rationally to rely on this gamble for short periods, but irrationally in the long run. Even spectacularly unlikely events have the audacity to happen: Two different princesses died in car accidents within the same century.

In my case, the “short period” was nine months. My hard disc croaked, but it was under warranty, an unusual occurrence. Why am I missing a month’s data? I ran out of CD-Rs and ignored the Woman’s Intuition to buy new stock.

But on the other hand, I have multiple backups of nearly everything else – more than one CD, archives stored online, and tens of thousands of files on the old jalopy computer.

In fact, in all my time in this city, the only computer files I cannot put my hands on date from the DOS era (and all those available in the ’90s were carefully vetted and transferred to the jalopy, so I’m not missing much) and the last month.

Adequate hardware (a 40 GB FireWire drive, plus 400 CDs a year) plus Retrospect will run about $850 with tax. While this is merely a day’s work as a high-priced accessibility consultant (ha! my special red-haired friend bills two grand!), it requires a spare day of work. Proper hardware would cost as much as a new computer.

Rich people are secure; the rest of us roll the dice. Papa needs a new pair of pumps. The gambling has paid off so far, but it seems I am being made an example of.


Just how much does £6 million buy these days?

If you were a U.K. government agency, would you countenance spending £6 million to equip essentially every movie house in the United Kingdom with captioning and audio description without doing enough research?



Googlewhacking: Simplicity itself

Need a Google search that returns exactly one result? Liberian Weimaraner.

Took me a mere eight plies. Child’s play, really.

Once Google recaches this page, the aforesaid whack will cease to exist.


Faux amis

Jukka Korpela on Finnish and English:

There are some “false friends” [actually false cognates – Ed.] in English and Finnish, i.e., words which look similar in the two languages but have different meanings. For example, in Finnish greippi means ‘grapefruit,’ not ‘grape.’ (This has caused confusions like translations which tell about rodents which have greipinkokoiset aivot, ‘grapefruit-size brain.’)

And actually, he’s got a whole page up on the topic. Stultify your friends at dinner parties!


“Masculine blonds are powerful men”

That sentence came up spontaneously in a SCIM with Noah Abrahamson. Cases in point: Matt Damon, Kiefer Sutherland.

Second time lucky?

I’ve been nominated again for a Bloggie. But I don’t understand how I’m eligible. “Deconstructing ‘You’ve Got Blog’ ” appeared first in the year 2000.

I was gobsmacked to be nominated last year, but am blasé this year. With my luck, this time I’ll win.


BR keystones are illin’

MC Solaar and Björk are sort of post-human. So is Metrosexuality. (Metrosexualismo, shurely?!)

It has now been decided that the tacky high-haired stepcousin of computer graphics, CorelDraw, is sort of post-typographic, or post-graphical. It pines for a future world in which all furniture is neon green and every pair of pants has a set of stripes and a column of easy-off snaps on the side.

How do we (re)interpret the Bad Religion keystone/logotype? Ba(l)dly, with vulgarity, through colours not found in nature, but with feeling:

BR keystones

These keystones are illin’. They’re also typographically inaccurate, using Benguiat rather than Friz Quadrata (ibid.) But your Windows clone is much more likely to come equipped with a bootleg Benguiat (or even a real one, at ITC fire-sale prices) than Friz Quadrata, despite the fact that both are ITC faces.

Or you simply don’t know the difference.

Desktop wallpaper, anyone?

(Contraindication: The illos were originally created in Photoshop, with backup vocals by KPT. I am setting aside the facts to make a point.)

And what do I have to do to get a keystone of my own? Of course, it’ll have to say J/O. (I’d whip one up, but ImageReady is stranded on Girl Power.)

More along these lines in coming days. I am gathering up links.


No one seems to have noticed that SIGIA-L can be pronounced “sieg heil.”