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Do you know what today is?

Of course you do!

It's Saint Amnesty to Post About Random Out of Date Stuff's Day!

For it was on this very day back in, oh, let's say the 80s, between the day that the eponymous Saint Amnesty to Post About Random Out of Date Stuff, patron saint of unpaid LiveJournal accounts, finished his grading for the term and the day that he went away on holiday, was killed by a car bomb—a holy car bomb, mind you—and the rest, as they say, is history. So it is that on this day every year, people with unpaid LiveJournal accounts honor St. Amnesty by posting about stuff that they meant to post about months ago, and get toffee.

The thing is, I kind of always knew my brother would grow up to train an army of killer of Asian 4-year-olds... )
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I was going back and forth on whether this was too flimsy to post at 20x20' Room but it seems TypePad is down today, so that makes my decision easy. (Karma for Six Apart and the pain upgrading MT is currently giving me, heh heh heh--oh wait, this also inconveniences me! Damn you, Six Apart! Now watch my LJ implode.)

Primetime Adventures players take note! And see if you can follow along: The title story in Kelly Link’s new collection, Magic for Beginners, is about (I’m quoting a review in The Believer) “a TV show called The Library, a teen drama whose cute, hormonal, conspicuously quotable friends are devoted fans of a TV show called The Library, a paranormal, ass-kicking series of mysterious provenance that pops up without warning at ungodly hours on random cable stations. … The hero, Jeremy, is a sentient TV character, obsessed with Fox, a character on the show within the show within the story, who turns out to be real.” A show within a show within a story, eh? If this is anybody but Jorge Luis Borges…

I’m thinking of taking Primetime Adventures with me to Florida over the holidays, where I’ll be with most of my family. They’re a mix of non-RPGers and long-ago-RPGers, but I might be able to get them to give it a whirl. (We typically play a lot of board games when we all get together, but bulky board games will be a hassle to lug down to the Sunshine State on a pre-Xmas post-Patriot Act plane.) Anyone reading this ever tried PTA with a group of non-gamers? Or does anyone have alternate suggestions of easy-to-transport board/card games or newbie-friendly one-shot RPGs?

See, my subject line is like an answer to the "Central Question" at the top of the Believer review, and there's this old joke, and...

1998

Jun. 17th, 2005 12:03 pm
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I'd better talk about 1998, because I'm three years into my memories of grad school, and I've managed to say nothing about school itself. Here goes. )

Don't forget: Doyle's, 3484 Washington Street in JP, tomorrow night at 7.
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Be somebody... or be somebody's fool!

Mr. T's "Treat Your Mother Right."

(ASX File (Windows Media Player). Go on, click it.)

Sometimes (often) Mr. T just says it all so much better than I ever could myself. Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, and all the other Moms I know.

Love, [livejournal.com profile] robotnik.
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I don't think anybody's actually reading LJ this evening, but I had to share this. My family is so great. Here's the tree at my parents' place this past weekend.

Robotnik Family Tree

Can't see what I'm getting at? Look closer... )

I love you guys. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
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The forecast was entirely too generous: we haven't cracked 0 F (-18 C) today. But the family is great and Westport is twinkling and white and the Festivus festivities have been great fun. More reportage anon. Also: happy belated Life Day to Gamma Fodder, Keith Richards, and my Dad. I'll cheap out this year by simply linking to my awesome but little commented on post from a year ago yesterday.

Edit: And the mercury has been dropping steadily all weekend. Now (9 AM Monday morning), it's a balmy -30 C (-20 F). Lets hope Melba Toast doesn't break down somewhere on the 401.
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Q: Why haven't I been blogging more lately?

A: I've been busy blogging.

Voila my job hunt website and Movable Type weblog www.robmacdougall.org.

The content is pretty dull at this point, I know. The site is part of my whole job hunt self-packaging, and I'm still working out how to make it interesting without ever actually saying anything at all that might strike anyone anywhere even slightly the wrong way. But I'm pleased with the look of it, especially since I taught myself MT and CSS and PHP to do it. (By trial and error, so it's probably pretty ugly under the hood.) And I'll hopefully be adding more goodies and chuckles to it in the weeks and months to come.

Visit often and link freely, and let's see if I can't wrest the top result on Google searches for my name from the Canadian Gothic guy, the guy who makes Jenni Garth icons, and my own review of Dead Inside.

Also: I owe a post on the great weekend we just had with my brother Jamie and his girlfriend Miranda. For now, I'll just say: Thanks for coming down, guys. See you in the car!
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If today, December 18, is your birthday, you are a Sagittarius with a chivalrous heart and an honest, cheerful nature. You are 62, 32, or 60 years old today, and you are a great father, a terrific best friend, and probably the most influential rhythm (not lead) guitarist of the rock era.

If today is your birthday, you revolutionized the field of exercise physiology with a new focus on resistance, rather than aerobic, exercise and the use of techniques like muscle biopsies and histochemistry. Your old flame Marianne Faithfull believes your drug problems stem from guilt over the 1969 death of guitarist Brian Jones, or else your childhood choir and violin lessons. Being so short before your adolescent growth spurt can't have helped. Today you manage a nuclear reactor and are an aspiring techno DJ, a strange avocation for someone who seems to always be listening to the same easy listening CDs from Time-Life records every time I'm home. You can't watch a movie without giving away the ending or offering bizarre trivia like "this was the first action movie to prominently feature cross-country skiing"—a trait I have inherited.

If today is your birthday, you are at home in the outdoors. You seem to know every animal and tree in the forest, and I often wish I'd absorbed more of that knowledge from you, but then sometimes I think you're just bullshitting. Your weblog can be found here, and I love it, though occasionally I think it's a wee bit too eager to convince us how cool you are. If today is your birthday, you are cool, you don't need to force it, man.

In fact, if today is your birthday, you are living proof that geeky kids grow up to be the hippest adults. I can always count on you as a barometer of what's cool and happening. Yet you rate restaurants largely on the availability of parking. If today is your birthday, your solo albums were better than Mick's, but let's be honest, that's not saying much. You say you don't ever want children, but I don't really believe you. You would make a terrific father, as long as you don't harvest your children's organs to replace your own or drain their blood for life-prolonging transfusions.

If today is your birthday, the whole world has followed your tempestuous love-hate relationship with Mick Jagger, [livejournal.com profile] krustukles, and/or Mom. Also Digby. But at the risk of getting a little sappy, you should know how much I value more mundane memories, like all the times we walked home from school past your place talking about mutants and computer games and the Seans, or bonded over crappy Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson movies when the rest of the family was at the cottage, or when you were in a drunken stupor, methodically punching out Anita Pallenberg in front of your children.

If today is your birthday, you are my hero—for your intelligence, optimism, good humor, and the Let It Bleed album. I am lucky to have you as my friend, my Dad, and an indestructible rock-and-roll ghoul who will walk the earth long after the rest of us are dead and gone.

Happy birthday, Chris, Keith, and Dad.
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I'm filling out a lot of immigration paperwork this month in hopes of not getting booted out of this country when I graduate. ("Check all that apply: Tired. Poor. Huddled. Difficulty Breathing Free.") One form asks for the birthplaces of my parents. I joked to my mother that the Department of Homeland Security was never going to believe Flin Flon—the remote Manitoba mining town where she was born—is a real town. Her reply:

Subject: The Secret Origins of Parental Units
Brace yourself, my dear, it is in fact Flin Flon. You can explain, if you dare, that it was named for the deathless fictional hero Flintabadias Flonaton, protagonist of a paperback novel discovered on the wilderness site by prospectors who in the next day or so discovered the fabulously wealthy mineral deposits also there, although they were never able to find out how the book had actually gotten there, 500 miles from the nearest bookstore, in the first place. When you're in the wilderness, you seize on any reading material you can find and don't worry an awful lot about provenance. The Bureau of Vaterland Security cannot be any less dubious about the name than the Swiss were when I was a student there. I had to carry an identity card with me at all times listing my place of birth, which they pronounced with a double nasal (Fla Flo) and the tightly pursed lips of the deeply offended.


Point one: My Mom is cool.

Assuming she was making this up, I decided to post Mom's email to show off how goofy ("the deathless hero Flintabadias Flonaton," indeed) and droll ("in the wilderness you don't worry an awful lot about provenance") she is. But a little Googling revealed that, while Mom may be exceedingly clever ("the tightly pursed lips of the deeply offended," hee hee), the goofiness lies in her forebears, not her. Because other than a forgivable spelling error in the name, the story is entirely true.

The town's fictional founder is in fact "Professor Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin," hero of a turn-of-the-century dime novel by J.E. Preston-Muddock called The Sunless City. In the novel, Professor Flonatin, aka Ol' Flinty, aka Flin Flon, builds a home-made submarine to explore a bottomless lake, and ends up discovering a golden city at the center of the earth.

Then, back in real life (more or less), when prospectors were exploring northern Manitoba in the 1910s, they mysteriously found a tattered copy of Preston-Muddock's novel out in the wilderness. Keep in mind we are talking about a region seriously north of civilization. When they also found deposits of gold and copper there, the prospectors named their camp "Flin Flon," after the prospecting hero of the book, which they read around the campfire each night. Then in 1929, the Canadian National Railway telegraphed the mining camp established there to say that, unless they heard differently, the dumbass name those original prospectors had given them was going onto the official maps. Nobody bothered to reply, and in this stirring fashion, the town of Flin Flon was born.

I can't believe Mom never told me this story before. She says she did, but I know I would have remembered. I don't know which part of the story I like best—that Mom was born in a remote mining town named after a dime novel science hero, that the prospectors just found the book out there on the tundra, or that the name stuck because nobody bothered to come up with anything different. ("The CNR wants a name for this place. 'Flin Flon' okay with everyone?" "Eh.") I guess the part I really like best is that I am half Flin Flonian. (And if I end up immigrating, will that make me a Flin Flonian-American?)

More Flin Flon Flun Flacts to come!
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A butterfly flapping its wings in China may create a hurricane on the other side of the world. Stupid Chinese butterflies! Knock it off!



Everyone is posting heavy weather pictures today, both real and fake, so I thought I'd get in on the action. Now, this is obviously not Isabel, and it's a fuzzy black-and-white photo, and scanning it from a newspaper created that dotty pattern. But this picture is a big deal to me, and it may be interesting to some of you, for the following reason: That's Wolf Lake, where my family spends every summer. This picture is from about two weeks ago. And those of you who recognize Bluff Point on the right will realize that this picture was taken looking north from the Green Shingles and Dunollie side of the lake. Which means that our shore, and our cottage, and at the time this picture was taken, my Mom and Dad and Jamie and Miranda, are all directly on the other side of that twister. Crazy, no? The twister hit the lake right at the Jumping Rocks, on our property just a quarter-mile from the cottage. They watched it roar across the lake and around Bluff Point, where it tossed a bunch of trees and boats and trashed a couple of cottages, including my Dad's cousin's deck. There was even a mini-rain of fish. Nobody was hurt, happy to say, but I think it's pretty funny that my family just stood there on the rocks and watched the whole thing. Only afterwards did they think, "hey, that might have been kind of dangerous."

p.s.: Just to tie this into Unknown USA: the local newspaper quoted a woman saying, "There was stuff flying all over—furniture, boats... All I could think of was The Wizard of Oz."
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My brother J just got back from British Columbia, where he spent the summer as a geologist's field assistant, in a tiny camp (just the two of them) above the tree line in the Rockies near Revelstoke (I think). It's just as well they were above the tree line, mind you, since the trees in question were en fuego, which livened up what was supposed to be a relaxing summer of picking up rocks, playing cribbage, and getting on one another's nerves.

It sounds like J's boss was just exactly the sort of person you want to spend eight weeks in solitary proximity with. She had a number of weird hang-ups, barely spoke to him except to berate him, and made a rule that he could come no closer to her than ten feet but go no farther than fifty feet away from her at any time for the duration of the summer.* Of course everyone who hears that asks him in horror: what did you do to her? He swears he did nothing, she just doesn't like people "in her space." And as she instituted this rule on their first day, I'm inclined to believe him.

Somewhat surprisingly, J says he had a good summer, just hiking, rock collecting, reading, stargazing, and growing a beard. No doubt about it, the boy is mellow with a capital Mel. (The beard looks groovy—sorta half snowboarder, half Old Testament—but it may not pass the girlfriend test.)

* I believe she is French-Canadian, so maybe you can see this bizarre "go-away-but-not-too-far" rule as a kind of metaphor for relations between French and English Canada?

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