robotnik2004: (Default)
Good news, everyone! I survived a busy weekend in "South Toronto," that dreaded enclave of radical Islam and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

I was there for a conference, but managed to sneak off the reservation and see [livejournal.com profile] sneech515, [livejournal.com profile] dilyshaner, [livejournal.com profile] tickermicker, [livejournal.com profile] gammafodder1, [livejournal.com profile] krustukles (briefly), and, rara avis, [livejournal.com profile] dreamsanon. (Most of whom don't really update their journals, but it is the LJ convention to list everyone you meet like that, and it's nice to know that nearly my entire social circle can be delineated with nonsensical nicknames and little faceless mannequin icons.)

Saturday night was the first full convergence of the original four Donut RunnersTM since my wedding, I believe, and that was great. We stayed up until all hours playing reprehensible video games, and it really could have been any Saturday night with us four friends from 1986 on, except that Chris' TV is much bigger these days, and the graphics of those reprehensible video games have markedly improved. There was a brief window of opportunity, as one of the Seans pointed out the next day, when we almost turned the Xbox off to spend some time catching up with one another and perhaps even sharing our thoughts and feelings, but the pull of scantily-clad wrestling polygons was too strong, and the moment passed. As we trundled home just before dawn, I felt a little sheepish about how thoroughly we'd wasted the evening, but in retrospect, a thoroughly wasted evening may have been just what the doctor ordered. Thanks, guys. Let's not wait five years to do it again.

The conference itself went well, considering I'd slapped my talk together between diaper changes and late-night soothing sessions. It was one of the first conferences I've been to where I wasn't on the job market, wasn't trying to hook a publisher, and basically didn't have anything to prove. That was a great feeling. I didn't even bother to put a PowerPoint presentation together—just offered to show pictures of You Know Who instead. It helps that I've been to this particular conference a couple of times now: I still remain mostly beneath the notice of the serious old guard, but there are lots of friendly folks at the middle of the profession who know me now, and a genuine cohort of recent PhDs and advanced grad students that I actually like to hang around with.

I also went to a dinner at the UofT business school for "business historians and business leaders," and even that was kind of fun. I didn't bone up on my Canadian Business Leaders Trading Cards before hand like I should have, but as the avuncular old guy I was chatting with was Jim F——, and the room we were in was the James D. F—— Atrium, I suspect he's done fairly well for himself. I have to say, I like hanging out with ridiculously successful businessmen. They tend to be smart, droll, and hilariously un-PC. They usually love history, in an A&E sort of way, and they spend most of their time talking about how to give away vast sums of money. Plus they often look like classic character actors.

It was weird to be away from You Know Who for so long, though—these were my first nights away from home since she arrived. I tried not to spend the whole damn weekend talking about her, with limited success. She seems to be punishing me now for going away by only letting Mommy soothe her. Which could mean more sleep for me, but at the cost of a broken heart.

Mea culpa: Between prepping for, and going to, the conference, I've barely looked at the For Want of a Nail lexicon in about a week. Final round due tomorrow? Alternate time flies! Sorry for my slackitude: I'll try to get something up at least, so I can pretend like I was in it from start to finish.
robotnik2004: (Default)
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... )
robotnik2004: (Default)
There’s an article in today’s Globe and Mail about something called “the Royal Society for Adventurology.” It does not, alas, seem to be available online, but I found them mentioned in a weblog with a few pictures here. Seems it’s a group of fellows in Toronto, let’s describe them as “confirmed bachelors,” who stage bicycle polo matches and tricycle regattas and so on. They wear Edwardian clothes and take on various alter egos: Vicar Rudyard “Ruddy” Tempers, the Earl of Puntings, Oscar Wildeflower III. (They also claim to be working on “unpowered flight.”) The Globe headline was: “Pip, pip! Care for a spot of frippery? Young chaps in jodhpurs are spreading old-fashioned fun without the snobbery.” Also noted in the Globe article were their rivals, the Upper Canada Chap Society.

Now why do I feel like this is something [livejournal.com profile] that_cad and [livejournal.com profile] my_tallest should be aware of? Of course, for [livejournal.com profile] that_cad, the snobbery is probably half the point.

1999

Jun. 18th, 2005 11:53 am
robotnik2004: (Default)
Hey, kids: do you remember 1999?



Do you remember when there was a New Economy and we called the internet "cyberspace" and websites "new media" and the stock market was going up and up and up and "nobody can be told what the Matrix is" and every week another kid was a software billionaire? In 1999, half my students were cutting classes to sweet-talk venture capitalists and launch IPOs, and I thought about when I was 12 and split my time between playing D&D and programming Apple BASIC, but then I only kept one of those geeky hobbies going over the years, and in 1999 I asked myself, is it possible I backed the wrong horse?

Well, do ya? )
robotnik2004: (Default)
Well, I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I sure saw AC/DC...
Drive-By Truckers, "Let There Be Rock"

Was it the power outage? A weird Asian virus? Or too much Alberta beef? Whatever it was, something swept through Toronto this summer and turned everyone there into head-banging AC/DC fans. I was back in the Canada last week, and everybody I know, from my trance-techno-spinning hipster friends to my Mozart-and-madrigal-loving Mom, was raving about how great AC/DC had been at the big Concert for Toronto, aka SARSstock. (My Mom is enough of a flower child to disapprove of that nickname, and more power to her. But when a meme sticks, it sticks.) I guess Angus, Malcolm, and Bri totally stole the show from Mick and Keef, the official headliners. I got nothing bad to say about AC/DC. I couldn't be happier to see them get their props. It's a puzzler, though.

On the subject, I should say that I had a great time last week in Canada. I got to see almost all of my sibs (and we all tele-conferenced with Beth and the babies via speakerphone) and a pretty large swath of my Torontonian friends. Perry & Tina were terrific hosts in their gorgeous new home in Toronto's Little Italy (mmm... cannoli...) and Gamma Fodder's party blew the doors off, but the best parts of the trip were, as always, the conversations: dissecting bobo-ness with Isa and Noah, holding forth on telephone history at the Victory Café, debating the D&D alignment of Indiana Jones, or catching up on the adventures of my Dad's buddy Pukeface* at the family dinner table. I am rich with loved ones. Of course, the visits are always too short, and I always wonder why I don't stay in better touch with my friends and siblings throughout the year. If only there was some kind of technology I could use to communicate with them over great distances...

* This is worth adding. So you see everybody in the little town my Dad grew up in had a nickname, and one of my Dad's friends was indeed known as "Pukeface." So Dad starts telling a story about him, and my brother's girlfriend Miranda says, "I'm sorry... I start laughing every time I hear the name Pukeface." And my sister Amy says, totally deadpan, "Why? Do you know him too?" Hee! My family deserves each other.
robotnik2004: (Default)
Hmm. Birthday wishes and congratulatory emails from my friends and relatives in Toronto and southern Ontario have dropped off precipitously this evening. What could the matter be?

Ha ha ha. Seriously, though, I hope all my very favorite Canadians (and New Yorkers too) are safe and managing to keep relatively cool and are with people they don't mind being with in the dark. I have faith that Gamma Fodder is on the job and you will have the juice to read this again soon.

Power to the People.
robotnik2004: (Default)
(This is mostly for the benefit of my Boston-based gaming cronies. Any Toronto homeys that stroll this way will either feel a brief hit of nostalgia or else groan, "he's digging that out again?")

Cleaning out a pile of old floppies last night (I may be the last man in America to use cassette tapes, but I just realized I have no earthly use for floppy discs) I found this old beauty. Detailed summaries of The New Know-Nothings, a 1970s Mage game I ran in the mid-1990s. "If only there was a place," I often thought to myself back in 1995, "where a geek like me could 'publish' mildly creative but ultimately self-indulgent ramblings like these summaries of RPG sessions, for all the world to see..."

I cringe a little when I think of my GM-ing style for that game. The social contract was the standard White Wolf "you get to look cool, and I get to control the plot utterly." Also some of the ideas we stole from other media look a lot more egregious now than they did at the time. In 1995, a lot less people knew who Jet Li or The Invisibles were. Or even Cleopatra Jones for that matter. But I remain proud of the amount of goofy shit crammed into that game, and damn, we had fun. In the (purple?) living room of Chris and [livejournal.com profile] krustukles's first Toronto apartment, with Rhino's 5 CD History of Funk on repeat in the stereo, and the sweet smell of something Canada is rapidly decriminalizing in the air.

It's pretty long. I'll give you the list of PCs and Chapter 1, with Chapters 2 to 4 to follow. Think of it like an old time movie serial.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the New Know-Nothings... )

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