Archive for June, 2007

For those without the bard’s gift, there are numerous sites out there now that will generate insults to order. Here are a few of the better ones, with the fewest actual curse words:

  • We leak in your chimney 
  • You are a candle, the better burnt out!
  • If you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit bankrupt
  • Thou has not so much brain as ear-wax
  • Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands
  • Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee
  • O teach me how I should forget to think
  • I would not have such a heart in my bosom, for the dignity of the whole body
  • Confusion now hath made his masterpiece

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I had been working hard all day, and as I left the office we were getting thunderstorms just east of the city. I was hoping they would continue in that direction, as I had no rain gear. There’s one thing about Halifax; if you’re a pedestrian, you see some strange and interesting sights. This is partly because it is a university town, combined with a naval base, combined with a fishing village, and combined with a mix of Scots, English, Acadians, and African Americans, who had all emigrated to Nova Scotia hundreds of years ago. Also, port cities are inherently interesting because of those who visit.

This day there was an American carrier visiting called the Wasp (after the famous World War II ship), and it was also the night of a high school prom. The first thing I noticed on my way home was a nice old Ford (from the 1910’s) with dear old dad (from the 1950’s) driving the kids (born in the late 1980’s), who were appropriately dressed for the gay 90’s (1890’s) in this year of Our Lord 2007.

Then I saw a sign in front of a stylish and brash clothing store catering to the university crowd.

The store, called the Peepshow, always has unique and flirty advertisements. You should see some of their mannequins.

Then I boarded the ferry to cross the harbour, and I had a nice view of the Wasp from a distance.

Silva Wasp
The “Tall Ship” Silva passed near the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship. The Wasp was in town doing joint security exercises with Canada, and is extremely versatile. For example, it can provide medical care for up to 600 people, can handle flight operations for many aircraft, and can land or load massive amounts of people or equipment almost anywhere.

I've got an idea
Then I saw the small tour boat/bus called the Harbour Hopper (the green boat just to the right of the carrier) much nearer the ship. Then a light-bulb flashed in my head, and when I stopped blinking I went to get a ticket for the Hopper.

The Harbour Hopper is a LARC-V from the Vietnam era converted into a tour bus/boat. It was originally designed to carry up to 5 tons of cargo, and can navigate through 3 metre waves when landing or going into the water. It’s also quite annoying for residents of Halifax, with the tour guide blaring cute anecdotes about the city and history of same, and with the passengers waving to all and sundry. Normally I wouldn’t go near the monstrosity, but I wanted to get close to that ship!

Screwy wheels
Here is what we depended on for locomotion in the aqueous realm. The screw is linked to the wheel drive-shaft, and both turn at the same time, even in the water. The LARC can putter along at about 16 km/h in the water.

Last one in is a rotten egg
After a quick tour of the town and Citadel Hill (I actually learned a few interesting things, and it was late enough and gloomy enough from the looming storm so that we weren’t bothered much by waving) we headed for the ramp leading into the water. Having seen these boats zoom straight into the water, I knew how high a splash they could raise. I had to get a shot of the splash. However, we were all forced to say “Ribbit” very loudly as we went into the harbour. It was very traumatising, and not very complimentary to Kermit, who I have always respected.

Right of Way
We started heading up the harbour towards the carrier USS Wasp. Like on regular streets, you keep to the right. We were scrupulous about observing the rules of the road, as were other boats when they stopped staring at us. The LARC rode the water very well, and had little trouble with the waves from other ships and boats.

Bare Sticks
There were a number of tall ships in the harbour recently. These are the masts of two ships from Brest. In the old days the harbour would look like a denuded winter forest.

Guest from Brest
This is one of two ships visiting from Brest. She looks more like a vessel designed for an inland sea like the Baltic than an ocean-going vessel.

Size matters
Two lookouts and a US Coast Guard helicopter on the flight deck, after a hard day’s work. They really helped me to appreciate the true scale of the ship. If one of them had fallen overboard, just hitting the water wrong would either have seriously injured or killed the person falling.

The USS Wasp is about 840 feet long and the flight deck is about 100 feet wide. Plenty of room for four US Football games, or 3.5 Canadian games.

Look up, look way up.

From a distance
Except for the American nuclear carriers, the Wasp is one of the largest vessels in the American Navy.

Sundown on Thunderclouds
There were some storms east of town, but luckily not a drop fell in town, and I had an uneventful walk the rest of the way home.

If you try hard enough, you can always keep from being bored.

a quickr pickr post

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Have a look.

Also take a look at the one where Star Trek meets Monty Python.

We interrupt this film to apologise for this unwarranted attack by the supporting feature. Luckily, we have been prepared for this eventuality, and are now taking steps to remedy it.
Projectionist, “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life”

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During the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, there was a scene in which all of the Pirate Lords raised their flags, and they were very interesting to look at, too. A friend of my at the local museum thought that he recognised some of the flags. I was just doing a quick search and found the following:

  • Captain Chavitalle, Lord of the Mediterranean Sea, has a flag almost identical to that of Stede Bonne, the Gentleman Pirate
  • Captain Villaneuva of Spain, Lord of the Adriatic Sea, has the flag of that scurrilous slimy sacreligious scoundrel Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard.
  • Barbossa’s flag is that of John “Calico Jack” Rackham. Anne Bonny and Mary Read were part of his crew.
  • Jack Sparrow’s flag is similar to Henry Avery‘s, but without the sparrow. I guess you could find sparrows near Avery’s (sorry).
  • Gentleman Jocard’s flag is based on one of the flags of the notorious scourge and most eminently successful pirate, Black Bart.

If anyone could chase down Mistress Ching’s and Sao Feng’s original flag origins, I’d appreciate it.

Good luck, Mateys!

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This list is extracted from a much longer list in an ABC Forum which I just noticed. These are mostly shows that I enjoyed when I was much younger. Those items in italics I have seen more than a few times (at least 4 times), and those in bold I have seen and liked. I thought I had seen more than my share of Science Fiction and Fantasy TV series (and I still think so) but I am woefully short of being one who has seen the majority of SF&F during my TV tenure. In fact, I have seen about 90 TV series out of about 700 from the ABC Forum list. Of these, I like 36 to some extent, and I really love 15 (since I started watching TV in the 1960’s).

Here is what I have seen at least four episodes of:

3rd Rock From the Sun (1996) –basically a sitcom.

Adventure, Inc. (2002)- I tried it because Michael Biehn (Reese in the original Terminator movie) was the star. It was disappointing.

Alf (1986) – I only saw a couple of episodes

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)- Definitely great suspense and some wonderful mysteries and moral conundra.

Alias (2001)-It didn’t turn me on much. A retake of La Femme Nikita (the movie) without the sharp edginess.

Alien Nation (1989 (Fox)-5/10

Amazing Spider-man The – The classic superhero cartoon. Really cheesy, but still fun.

Andromeda (2000 (Gene Roddenberry’s)-Not that interesting.

Avengers The (1961)- Steed and Emma Peel. What else needs to be said?

Babylon 5 (1993)- Groundbreaking. It was the first to have a continuous plot with believable conflicts and characters extending over five complete seasons. It changed the way SF TV series were made (i.e. the new Battlestar Galactica, the latter half of Deep Space 9, Firefly, etc.)

Batman (1966) –Pure camp,and the ultimate in tongue-in-cheek

Battlestar Galactica (1978)-A bit cheesy, but well done for the time.

Battlestar Galactica (the new one) – Subtle, realistic characterisation and plotting, intelligent and thoughtful black hats and white hats, and a plethora of hidden meaning. Also the special effects and cinematography is exceptional. Highly recommended.

Beauty and the beast (1987) – a bit too much unrequited love and agonising for my taste

Bewitched (1964)- Dr. Bombay, Endora, Aunt Agatha, Tabitha, etc. Good clean fun.

Bionic Woman The (1976)- One of my first teenage crushes, and a surprisingly good actor.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979)- 4/10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I avoided it for a long while, then saw a couple of unique episodes on the recommendation of my nephew. There’s some amazing directing going on here, and some characters with real depth hidden in the valley girl image.

Charmed (1987)- Kind of like Practical Magic as a TV series.
Children of Dune (2003)- not as good as the Dune miniseries.

Chronicle The (2001) – a few good episodes and ideas

Crusade (1999) (Babylon 5) – based on Babylon 5, but not in the same league.

Dark Angel (2000) – James Cameron always has good ideas, but the execution was fairly good rather than great.

Dark Shadows (1991) – A classic vampire movie, but the vampire Barnabas is a “good” guy.

Dead Zone, (2002) – Nowhere near as good as the movie (I never read the book).

Deep Space Nine (Star trek) – it started weak, but ended very strong, with very good characters.

Dr. Who (1963) (see also K9 and Company aka A Girl’s Best Friend ) (1981)pilot only. – I haven’t seen many episodes, so can’t comment on the overall quality, but it is one of the ultimate cult SF series, and maybe the longest running.

Dune, 3-part Mini-series (2001) – It is very difficult to be faithful to the depth and grandeur of the book, but this is a good attempt, and Dune purists tended to like this better than David Lynch’s movie version.

Earth 2 (1994)it started with an interesting premise, but bogged down partway through the season.
Earth: Final Conflict (1997 (Gene Roddenberry’s) – It had interesting aspects, but never really grabbed me.

Enterprise (2001 (Star trek)) – It was the weakest of the Star Trek series, and I was rather disappointed. However, there were a number of very good episodes.

Fantasy Island (1977) – “Baas, the plane, the plane!”

Fireball XL5 – Related to the Thunderbirds and other Marionation TV series with a British influence. I was a kid and loved the spaceship and other gadgetry.

Firefly (2001) – From the creator of Buffy TVS, this is cowboys in space with a Chinese influence, and rapidly gained a loyal audience. But it was given a bad time slot and the channel scrambled the order of episodes, and it died in the first year. However it was popular enough to spawn a pretty good movie called Serenity.

First Wave (1998) – Alien invaders aka the 1960’s series The Invaders, complete with a hero on the run like David Vincent. Not that great.

Forever Knight (1992) – A vampire trying to go cold turkey in Canada, and the usage of turkey is apt.

Futurama (1999) – from the creator of the Simpson’s with a similar type of humour in the future. It didn’t grab me.

Galactica 1980 (1980) – Run of the mill.

Genesis II ( Gene Roddenberry) – a fascinating TV pilot with a main character called Dylan Hunt, who was in suspended animation for 150 years and woke in a post-Holocaust world where recovery was starting to take place. It had a couple of unique elements from most other post- apocalyptic movies/shows, and was entertaining. I’ve been waiting for it to come out on TV again, for the last 30 years. I’ve seen it about 4 times in the 1970’s, but haven’t caught it since.

Get Smart (1965) – The best spy comedy in my memory. 99, 86, Max, Hymie the robot, the Chief, the Cone of Silence, the Shoe, Steiger, CHAOS, the mobile island with the giant outboard motor,…”And loving it!”

Greatest American Hero (1981) – A cool superhero story, where a guy finds a superhero suit which gives him special powers, but the instruction book is missing.

Highlander (1992) – Based on the movie, and not as good.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I loved the book, liked the radio play, liked the movie, but never saw the TV show. I’m told it is very good.

HR Puffinstuff – from when I was very young.

I dream of Jeannie (1965) – Simple fun with appealing characters.

Incredible Hulk The (1978) – Lou Ferrigno is the only reason to watch this.

Invaders (1970) – A classic invasion and infiltration story with flying saucers and a lone hero who is hunted by the aliens and the authorities, who does his best to let others know what is going on, as well as to foil the alien’s nefarious plots. Cool flying saucers, and David Vincent does a lot of stuff that is unusual for your run of the mill architect.

Invisible Man (2000) – 4/10

Knight rider (1979) – 4/10

Land of the Giants (1968) – One of Irwin Allen’s classics. The crew and passenger of a sub-orbital passenger liner go through a strange storm and crash-land on a planet where everything is somewhat larger (kittens the size of moose). Lots of cool special effects and crazy situations to get out of.

Lois & Clark: New Adventures of Superman (1993) – Teri Hatcher and occasional amusements, otherwise dull.

Lost In Space (Fox/CBS) – Irwin Allen classic. I didn’t like it that much.

Lost World, The (1999) – Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s book about prehistoric animals and cultures on a plateau in the furthest wilds of the Amazon basin. The book was much better.

Man From Atlantis (1977) – a man with merman abilities acts as a classic hero. Not great.
Man From Uncle The (1964) – I barely remember some episodes.

Mork and Mindy (1978) – Robin Williams in a sitcom. Often hilarious, and always good.

Munsters The (1964) – vague happy memories.

New Avengers The (1976) – Steed but no Emma Peel. Forgettable.

Night Gallery (1970) – classic in the same vein as The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. Some great scripts and good acting.

Outer Limits (1963) -great!
Outer Limits The (1994) -Very good and sometimes great.

Planet of the Apes (20th Century/CBS) -Pretty bad, but I watched a few because I loved the movie.

Prisoner The (1967) – Convoluted, subtle, intelligent. Patrick McGoohan plays a British agent who ends up in this British seaside village (called The Village), which he can’t escape from and which is filled with others who seem to be agents as well. However, he doesn’t know whether any or all of them are Us or Them, and he is subjected to mental and physical manipulation in multi-nefarious forms. You have to pay attention, but it is worth it!

Quantum Leap – A wonderful series, where the protagonist has to jump into different people’s bodies within his lifetime and “putting things right what once went wrong, and hoping each time, that his next leap will be the leap home. I loved the main character and the humanistic caring tone of the episodes.

Questor Tapes The (#1 was Genesis II, #2 was Planet Earth) (1974).

Ray Bradbury Theatre (1985) – I would love to have seen some episodes, but I missed it. Bradbury is one of the greats.

Raven The (1998) (highlander) – Based on Highlander, and of similar quality (i.e. not too much).

Red Dwarf (1988) – Hilarious British comedy.

Relic Hunter (1999) – Lara Croft on TV. Sometimes okay, and sometimes boring.
Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (1970) – Wonderful. See Night Gallery above.

Sea Hunt – I barely remember it, but I thought the underwater battle were cool, except that everybody was cutting the other person’s air hose.

Seaquest DSVA combination of Sea Hunt and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Average to occasionally good, with a really nice submarine.
seaQuest 2032 – A follow-on to SeaQuest, with a bit more action and less acting.

Six Million Dollar Man (1974) – I was 12 and a space nut, and Steve Austin comes along. I was hooked. I suspect I would like it less as an adult, but it was great for its time.

Sliders (1995) – People wandering into alternate realities at random. Some cool concepts for some of the alternate worlds, but the execution didn’t live up to the concepts in many cases. Still, some pretty cool ideas.

Space 1999 (1975) – I liked it at the time. I rented the DVD for the first season more recently, and wasn’t as impressed. But cool technology and a really nice Moonbase.

Space: Above and Beyond – The Marines in space. Typical issues, including why they fight, racism, leadership, duty versus humanity, etc. It was reasonably intelligent about it, but lacked a certain spark.

Stargate SG-1(1997) – Based on the wonderful movie, it has a charm of its own, and is currently one of the most succesfull TV series around.

Starlost The (1973) – A great concept about a disaster on a multi-generation spaceship, with many cultures in separate domes within the main structure of the ship, called the Earth Ship Ark. The execution left much to be desired.

Star Trek (Paramount/NBC) – I have no objectivity here. I just love it.

Star Trek: TNG (Paramount/Synd) – It started weak, but it quickly became very good, with occasional brilliant episodes.

Stingray (1964) – Another movie like Thunderbirds, which I vaguely remember. Nice cars.

Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills -I left this in just because of the name!

Thunderbirds (marionette) – I loved it for the vehicles and gadgets. My favourite was Thunderbird 2, the big green one with the multiple payloads.
Time Tunnel (20th Century/ABC) – Another Irwin Allen classic. It was okay, but not great.
Twin Peaks – David Lynch in small town America. Enough said.
Twilight Zone (1959) -Superb
Twilight Zone (1985) -Very good

UFO (1970) – Cool vehicles and stories, and very 1970’s costumes.

V (Warner Bros./NBC) – Two miniseries and a regular series. The series sucked, the second miniseries was fairly good, and the first miniseries was better. What made me like the first series was the way it treated the characters as part of their families, their community and their ethnic backgrounds. They felt real, and they reacted realistically as aliens called Visitors came to Earth and how the people coped.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Fox/ABC) – The stories aren’t great, but the acting is not bad and sometimes surprisingly subtle. But I was a young kid and loved the submarine Seaview, as well as the Flying Sub.

Voyager (Star trek) – As usual for Star Trek, the series strengthened as time went on, so it became well worth watching.

War of the Worlds (1988) – Not great.

Wonder Woman (1976) – Fairly fun, and a good role model.

X-Files,(1993) – Extremely well done, with good and subtle understated performances by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

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Here is a little website with a few stories that made me smile. and also made me think of some friends on a wonderful rocky isle…



A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later…. “Da-d….”
“I’m thirsty. Can you bring a drink of water?”
“No. You had your chance. Lights out.”
Five minutes later: “Da-aaaad…..”
“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??”
“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!!”
Five minutes later……”Daaaa-aaaad…..”
“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”


It was a dark and stormy night…

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”.
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug.
“I can’t dear” she said. “I have to sleep in Daddy’s room”.
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: “The big sissy”.


Your Loving Mother (does this remind you of anything you may have heard on the radio?)

Dear Son,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still alive. I am writing this letter slowly because I know that you cannot read very fast.

You won’t recognise the house anymore when you come home; we moved because your Dad read in the paper that most accidents happen within 20 miles of home. I won’t be able to send you the address as the last family here took the numbers with them for their next house, so they wouldn’t have to change their address.

There was a new style of washing machine in the house when we moved in, but it wasn’t working too good. I put 14 shirts into it last week, pulled the chain and I haven’t seen them since!

About your father – he has a lovely new job. He now has 500 people under him. He is cutting the grass at the cemetery.

Auntie Maude has sent you a pair of socks she knitted, she put a third one in because she heard you have grown another foot since she last saw you.

The coat you wanted me to send you, your Aunt Sue said it would be a little too heavy to send in the mail with the heavy buttons, so we cut them off and put them in the pockets.

Your sister, Mary, had a baby this morning. I haven’t found out yet whether it was a boy or a girl, so I don’t know if you are an Uncle or an Aunt.

Jimmy locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were really worried because it took him two hours to get me and your father out.

Your Aunt Harriet took a flight from New York to Los Angeles last week, said it was the first time she had ever arrived somewhere before she had left. Last time she thinks that might have happened, the doctors said it was Altzeimer’s disease.

Your Uncle Dick drowned last week in a vat of whiskey in Dublin Brewery. Some of his co-workers dived in to save him, but he fought them off bravely. We cremated the body and it took three days to put out the fire.

Your father didn’t have much to drink at Christmas. I put a bottle of castor oil in his pint of beer and it kept him going until New Year’s day.

I went to the doctor on Thursday, and your father came with me. The doctor put a small tube in my mouth and told me not to open it for ten minutes – your father offered to buy it from him.

It only rained twice last week. First time was for three days and the second for four. On Monday the wind blew so hard that one of the chickens laid the same egg four times.

Three of your friends went off a bridge in a pickup truck. Butch was driving. He rolled down the window and swam to safety. Your other two friends were in the back. They drowned because they couldn’t get the tailgate down.

We received a letter yesterday from the undertaker. He said that if the last payment on your Grandmother’s funeral wasn’t made, up she comes.

Your loving Mother,

PS I was going to send you ten dollars, but I have already sealed the envelope.

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