Friday, 11 August 2017

Because Thinking is Too Hard

David

I have to do some research.

Robert

No problem.  Just Google it.

David

Google it?

Robert

Yeah, Google it.

David

Google is not a verb I’m familiar with.

Robert

Google is not a verb. It’s a search engine.

David

If Google’s not a verb, why are you using it as one?

Robert

Everybody does these days. It’s just the way of things. You’ll get used to it. Stop thinking so much.

David

This ‘Google’ thing, will it give me all the relevant, pertinent facts?

Robert

Of course it will. As long as the website doesn’t contradict anything Google or its Masters don’t want you to think or know about.

David

What was that last bit?

Robert

What bit?

David

That bit you just said about Google not wanting me to think or know about stuff.

Robert

Oh, ignore that. It’ll just put too much strain on your brain. Google knows that. That’s why they tuck away all that nasty information that could hurt you. Google knows all. You can trust them. Go on, get Googling.

David

I’m not sure. Suddenly I’m feeling a bit anxious.

Robert

Stop stressing. Don’t worry so much. Lucky for you, Google has that covered, too. Here, watch a cat video.


Robert

Feel better now? Of course you do.

David

Yes, thanks. What did I just watch?

Robert

That’s Maru. He’s like, the Emperor of Japan now or something. So, ready to Google that information?

David

I think so, but I can’t get past what you said earlier about Google suppressing information.

Robert

Oh that. Come on now. It’s not like Google are the Thought Police or anything. Here, gear yourself up with a nice music video.


Robert

There. That should get you going. All revved up now?

David

No I bloody well am not. If anything I’m more paranoid than ever.

Robert

Okay, okay. Calm down. Maybe you’ll feel better if you do a little socializing. Check in on some friends or loved ones.

David

I can’t leave to go visiting. I’m too far behind in my work.

Robert

You can stay here and visit friends and family.

David

How?

Robert

Facebook.

David

Oh, yeah. I’d forgotten about that. Let me see. Here we go.

Robert

Good thing you’re using a Mac. It’s so easy to find things.

David

True. By using Apple products I don’t have to remember a thing or figure anything out. The machines do all the work for me.

Robert

Like life support for the brain. Oh, I know! Think of Google as an extension of Apple. It keeps track of all the memories and stuff you no longer have the capacity for.

David

Apple and Google: because thinking is hard.

Robert

Are you on Facebook yet?

David

Yes. I’m scrolling down my ‘wall’ now.

Robert

Why the sad face?

David

Everyone has a better life than I do. Look how happy and successful they all are.

Robert

Then do something about it.

David

Do something about it?

Robert

Yes.

David

How?

Robert

Improve yourself by buying a book or product that will enhance your life.

David

Where can I find such things without going out? Is there a way to do that in the privacy of my own home so no one will know what I’m up to?

Robert

There sure is: Amazon.

David

How will I know what to choose?

Robert

Not to worry. Amazon will tell you what you want. Just like Facebook feeds you the news it knows you need.

David

So, Facebook and Amazon: because thinking is hard?

Robert

Now you’re catching on.

David

Maybe I’ll just take a break and read a book.

Robert

An e-book? On your Kindle?

David

No, I think I’ll read a proper book; one with a spine and physical pages.

Robert

You’re so old-fashioned. So, what are you reading?

David

 1984

Robert

Oh dear.

 
 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Doctor Who is a What? or That's Numberwang!

By now you have heard that the 13th Doctor on Doctor Who will be portrayed by Jodie Whittaker. That’s right; the next Doctor is going to be a woman.

How can this happen? How can this be? That’s not cricket. No, number 13, that’s Numberwang.

Who could have seen this coming? Only those who have a clue. D’uh.

The 13th Doctor being a woman was inevitable. The growing army of fangirls coupled with sinking ratings equals BBC executives wondering what trick they can pull to keep the show afloat.

My concern is not that Jodie Whittaker will be playing the Doctor. (Olivia Colman, also with a Broadchurch connection, would also have been a fine choice as she can play intensely serious – as in Broadchurch – and insanely silly – as in Julie on Numberwang.) My concern is which way Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who’s new showrunner) takes the character.

Broadchurch, Chibnall’s deathly serious detective drama, is freshest in the minds of most people. If Chibnall transfers that humourless drudgery to Doctor Who, I fear the show will die and Jodie will be blamed.

I would rather Chibnall go back to one of his earlier creations for inspiration: Born and Bred.

Born and Bred also featured strong female characters. It was a delightful mix of pathos and humour. The balance was a good one.

It is that balance of peril and laughter that Doctor Who has used to survive these many years.

We’ve just gone through the moody, brooding Doctor. We don’t need more of it.

It’s time to lighten up again, but not so light that the audience doesn’t take Doctor 13 seriously.

This will not be an easy time for Jodie and Chris, but I’m sure they can pull it off.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Gonna Take a Paranormal Journey

This post will freak out a lot of people. It contains information many will not believe. That’s okay. I have been called weird (and other names) all my life. My childhood friend Eleanor Hayward even made a point of approaching me on the playground and telling me, “You know you’re weird, right?” She went on to say she thought I was ‘good weird’.

In college three friends and I went out one night to a bar. My one friend had just cashed in some of his Bell Canada stock and had money to burn, so he bought me one of every mixed drink the bartender could make. I, in turn, revealed the true nature of life, the universe, and everything. The boys enjoyed my philosophy, but the girl we were with was gob smacked. She christened me with the nickname “Anti-Christ” and that is what I was known as throughout my college days. (I can assure you my relationship with the Christ Entity is a good one. That's one of the reasons I sought out my wife, but that's another story.)

So I’m used to people thinking I’m nuts.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I am a sensitive born of two sensitives. My parents were both (my Mother still is, but my Father passed away the same week Robin Williams transitioned) highly intuitive people capable of directing the flow of healing energies. The gift of healing is one I have used to help others on many occasions, aiding them in overcoming ‘incurable’ diseases. I am a Level Two Reiki practitioner as of this writing. This is a gift I have not used in many years.

My parents’ ultimate healing challenge came when I was born, for I arrived with a large hole in my heart. The ability to perform surgery on one so young was not available in those days. The doctors told my parents not to expect me to live past a month. (One of the nurses told my Mother, “You can always have another one.”) For the next year my parents and my 6 year old sister (who is an RN today – when they brought me home, she put up her dolls) prayed over me, anointed me with essential oils, and loved me. When they took me back to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto the following year the doctor was furious. He claimed they were trying to fool him by bringing in a different child because there was no sign of the hole in my heart at all. I am on record (as a patient number for confidentiality) as the first person in Canada to ever self-heal a lesion of the heart. The doctor was wrong, but he was also partially right. I was the same child, but not the exact same child.

That early childhood crisis opened the doors to a world beyond what the majority of people experience.

I used to sleep with the covers pulled over my head so I wouldn’t see and hear what I would if there wasn’t something blocking those two senses. In the dark I could see outlines of people, animals, and other things moving around my room. I could hear them. The door to the closet had to be closed so I wouldn’t see the man with the long neck, who I called Charlie Millar.

The best night I recall was feeling the wind on my face and hearing it howling in my ears as I soared high above Alexandria Park. Nothing beats flying.

The most dreadful night involved clinging to the banister as two dark entities attempted to drag me down to who-knows-where. Abject fear engulfed me as I held the railing tighter. Finally a being of light appeared above us on the landing and said, “You may not take this one.”

It’s about 3 a.m. and I find myself standing at the bedroom window, watching the snow fall. Beside me is a being that stands at least eight feet in height. It is covered in hair and does not have a neck. We stand quietly watching the snow. Casually he says, “All this belongs to us.” To this I reply, “You’re very hairy.” He sighs and mentions something about ‘one day it will return to us’ or something like that. I’m not sure; I wasn’t paying close enough attention. For years I wondered if that encounter really happened. Then I read Michael Harner’s “The Way of the Shaman” wherein he went on a psychic journey to a ‘nether world’ where he met a group of these entities. Upon his return he told the tribal elder what they had said (exactly what the one had said to me “All this belongs to us”) to which the elder responded, “Yes, they’re always saying that.”

It’s around 1:30 in the afternoon. My Mother is having her nap. I am alone in the house, playing in my room. An extra-dimensional being (an alien – short, greyish-skinned) pops in for some reason. I have no idea why it came, what it wanted or what it did. I freaked out. It made an odd noise when it left and that is all I could recall when telling my Mother about it. For years my family would refer to my ‘imaginary friend’ “Doodle-Up” because that was as close to the sound he made when he left that I could come up with.

On a warm midsummer evening my parents, my brother Jay, and I are driving back to our new home from the suburbs of Ottawa. Across the field I see a large triangular craft hovering in the sky. No one else seems to see it as no one comments on it. I keep my observations to myself.

There are other experiences, but I think you get the picture by now. My perception of the world is much wider than most.

I spent years dulling those senses because I did not want to see and hear all I was seeing and hearing. The one thing I have not been able to completely overcome is my sensitivity to emotion. I can feel what others around me are feeling. Part of the reason I lived in Toronto (North America’s fourth or fifth largest city, depending on population growth in the other major centres) for so many years was an attempt to ‘short out’ that ability. The effort failed and made my time their quite uncomfortable.

My wife and I lived for over 17 years on the third floor of a house that had been built in the late 1800s. It was an attic space that had been converted. That flat was brimming with activity of the not-so-nice paranormal kind. Names called in the dark. Mysterious scratches and bruises. Hair-pulling. Objects disappearing and reappearing in different places. Dread. Sorrow. Every day I spent in that place was a day I contemplated the best methods for ending my life.

On one particular horrific day I was curled up in a ball on our bed when I caught a patch of darkness out of the corner of my eye. I whipped around to see a tiny demon (about a foot tall, all black, almost looked 2-dimensional) right at my ear. I went from frightened and pitying myself to full burn anger in a nano-second. (A temper that could raze a steel tower is a ‘gift’ from my Father. That has been another challenge for me. It has always been a curse, but on this occasion it was handy.) I bellowed at the little thing. It screeched and fled through a gate that had opened up. Inside the tear in the fabric of “reality” I could see multitudes of entities of every size and description. Many were laughing at the plight of the miniscule being. When I saw the landlord later that week he commented about the guy downstairs claiming to have seen a demon. I went to visit him and asked him what he had seen. He described the exact same type of being.

As an experiment I set my microphone to make a sound-activated recording. My vocal booth was heavily sound-proofed and sound dampened; owing to the fact the apartment was right on a main road and right beside the train tracks. No sound pierced the walls of that booth. This recording took place overnight while all the other tenants were away. Here you can hear the EVPs. Five seconds in there is a singular male voice. The rest are mainly groups of people chatting or are hard to make out. Keep in mind that there should have been nothing at all recorded, because the system was only set up to record when a sound was made. Stop reading and listen if you don’t want to be influenced in any way.

(Continued below)








Are you back? Okay.

My wife and I both hear voice around 5 seconds into the recording saying, “Hey, asshole.”

Needless to say, we don’t live there anymore.

I think that’s about all I wanted to share at this point. There is also the ‘time’ thing. Time doesn’t always run the same way for me that it does for most people. The history you remember is not necessarily the history I remember and that keeps changing, too.

What was the point of this post? Just to share some of my experiences, so that perhaps some of you will not be so afraid to share your own. The universe is a bigger place than the narrow-minded can conceive.

Sorry this post wasn’t funny. Laughs next time. Or check out my cat posts. Just put ‘cats’ in the search bar below. Or try Jay’s Jokes for some groans and giggles.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Black Time for "Wrinkle"

By the gold chains of Mr. T! Hollywood is once again birthing an abomination. To quote Arnold Rimmer: “You filthy piece of distended rectum.” How odious of you to once again take a classic piece of literature, ‘re-imagine’ it (as you call it – more like rewrite, recast, pluck the heart from and leave the rest of the carcass to rot by the roadside), and release it into the unsuspecting world with its original title. We’ve seen this happen many times in the past.

It’s not that these are necessarily bad movies. They (well, most of them – ‘Bewitched’- hack, sputter, spew) can be enjoyable, but only if viewed without comparison to the original. How many remakes can you think of where you expected the movie-makers to follow the established canon, only to discover they had ‘put their own spin’ on things? Dozens, I’ll bet.

“I, Robot” is a good example. The movie starring Will Smith was fine on its own as a science fiction / action movie, but it had little to do with the original group of short stories written by the incomparable Isaac Asimov. [If you want to read the script Dr. A. wanted to see as the “I, Robot” movie, look for Harlan Ellison’s “I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay.” (For the sake of the future of humanity, please, please, please, do not buy it from Amazon.)] Those who thought the movie would remain faithful to the original work were disappointed. Those who weren’t familiar with the original enjoyed themselves. If the movie-makers had called it “Robots Amok” or “Synthetic Awareness” or anything other than “I, Robot”, both groups of movie-goers would have been happy. By using the original title, it inspired resentment and loathing.

Use the words, “based on”, “with a nod to”, “stolen from”, “cherry picked bits from” or some other phrase when mentioning the original title, but do not use the original title. Perhaps there could be a formula devised to calculate whether or not the original title may be used. Say, if 95% of the new work follows the established canon of the old work, then it can use the original title. An example of this would be Steve Carell’s “Get Smart”.

A predominantly Black “A Wrinkle in Time” should be renamed to “Wrinkle” or “Time Wrinkle” or “How Meg Got Her Groove Back” or something other than “A Wrinkle in Time”, because it is not “A Wrinkle in Time”. How about “A Crease in Time”? It has the potential to be a wonderful film, but it is not “A Wrinkle in Time”.

An all-Black ‘Wizard of Oz’ was given the new name “The Wiz” in the 1970s. People knew not to expect it to be exactly the same as the original. (Yes, I know the film version tanked. The Broadway show the movie was based on did quite well, winning 7 Tony awards – including Best Musical.)

If you are going to base a new work (which these movies are) on an original work, give the new work a new title. Don’t sell tickets by conning audiences into thinking they are getting something they are not. A pizza with a seaweed crust is not a pizza. Ice cream that contains no dairy is not ice cream. (For the love of God, vegans, come up with your own name for your craptastic “treat”.)

I pity the fool who makes a movie with an established name and puts out a pale imitation. May the jewelled knuckles of B. A. Baracus plant a hearty high-5 on your face.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

2 Ways to Edit Faster in Audacity

Long form voice work such as audio books or e-learning modules can be a pain to edit, but if you employ either of these two editing techniques it will cut your editing time (and pain) down dramatically.


Method One: The Long Track

1. Start recording. (Why not ‘open Audacity’ or plug in your mic? Some things should be obvious by now.)
2. When you make a mistake, cough, the cat launches a hairball at your feet, or other factors occur that should not be included in the recording, make a loud, sharp noise. Clap your hands (if people start bowing you are clapping too long), snap your fingers, crack a whip, or slap your face. (Kicking the cat is not recommended.) This will insert a spike on the waveform.


3. Continue recording until you are ready to edit the file.
4. When you are editing you will see peaks everywhere you have a piece you want to cut. (The loud, sharp noise spikes.)
5. A quick way to select the bit you want to cut is to:
- find the start of the selection you want to remove (it’ll be just before the spike – you’ll want from the flub to the spike)
- click in the track at the start of the section you want to remove (this moves the editing point to that point)
- hover the cursor over the end of the section you are removing (just past the spike), but do not click there yet
- hold the ‘shift’ key
- press the ‘end’ key AND left mouse click simultaneously


You should have selected only the bit you want to cut out. (You did press ‘end’ and click the mouse while still holding ‘shift’, didn’t you? You did have your cursor floating over the spot just after the spike, right? You didn’t click on the spot just after the spike before doing the above, did you?)


Now you can zip through that long Audacity file and merrily rip out the unwanted chunks.

Method Two: Individual Rungs on a Ladder

1. Start recording. (Not this again.)
2. When something happens you don’t want to end up in the final product, stop recording.
3. Start recording again. Don’t start a new project, just hit record. A new track will be added below the one you were recording.
4. If something else happens you don’t want (early in the new recording), just hit the X to remove the track. Then hit record again to get a new track and carry on.


5. When it’s time to edit, hit the ‘solo’ button on the track you want to listen to / edit. That will mute all the other tracks.


6. Cut and paste the edited tracks together if you want one long file or cut and paste the individual tracks into separate files.

There you have it. Two ways to make editing in Audacity faster.
If you have any tips or tricks to share, please leave them in the comments below.

One side note: Your microphone (in the majority of cases) only records in mono, so you don’t need to be recording stereo tracks. To switch to mono recording, see the picture below.






Monday, 5 June 2017

The Nominees Are ...

My wife and I enjoy Doctor Who, British comedians, and playing games. We often combine all three by playing ‘spot the comedian’ on Doctor Who.

Rufus Hound is the winner of the most finger-pointing-at-the-screen followed by cries of “Oh. Oh. That’s – that’s – Argumental – first name sounds like it’s coming from the last name (Roof roof – like a dog barking) – Rufus Hound!” Then the satisfied sinking back into the couch as if a marathon sex session had just occurred.

We were recently re-watching Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. The robots had more-than-familiar voices. My wife asked, “Those voices belong to a pair we know.”

I responded, “Yes, those are Robert and David.”

To which my wife queried, “Are you sure?”

As any man who has been married for any length of time will tell you, this is wife code for “I don’t believe you”.

So she looked it up on IMDb. “Nope,” she informed me. “You’re wrong.”

“Those two robots are Robert Webb and David Mitchell,” I insisted.

“Not according to IMDb. They’re Noel Byrne and Richard Garaghty.” She turned her laptop to show me.

“Well,” I said. “Then Noel and Richard are doing the best Mitchell & Webb impressions I’ve ever heard.”

Scrolling down the IMDb page, my wife made a discovery. “Oh, wait. Noel and Richard are the guys in the suits. You’re right. The voices do belong to David and Robert.”

It’s all well and good that IMDb is letting us know who the fellows in the suits are. It’s not an easy job and is often thankless. However, they are not the recognisable actors. They are not the ones causing people to point at the screen and say, “Oh. That’s –that’s – oh, who is that? Good thing there’s IMDb so I can look this up.”

Yes, the guys in suits (and girls, too) do act through their actions, but how many have one a BAFTA for doing so?

Is there even a BAFTA category for “Best Performance in a Robot Suit”?

I can see the people who work the Daleks and Cybermen going home after the awards ceremony. Their significant others meet them at the door and ask, “How did it go? Did you win?”

To which the dejected performers inevitably reply, “No, I lost again. Once again the award went to Jimmy Carr.”

Friday, 28 April 2017

Pirate Cats

*sploosh*

Me: (running into the bathroom) What was that? What are you two doing now?

Cat 1: Arr. We be pirate cats.

Me: Pirate cats?

Cat 1: Arr. Yep.

Me: Why is that one wet?

Cat 1: She had to walk the plank.

Cat 2: She kicked me into the toilet.

Cat 1: She refused to learn her R B C’s.

Me: You mean her A B C’s.

Cat 1: You stow your loot where you want and I’ll bury my booty where I want.

Cat 1: Arr. Can I get a new parrot?

Me: What happened to the old parrot?

Cat 2: She ate it.

Cat 1: Let me out onto the deck.

Me: Why?

Cat 1: ‘Cause I needs to lay some logs.

Me: You’re not pooping on the deck.

Cat 1: Arr. Tis a poopdeck, is it not?

Me: No, it’s not. And that isn’t what a poopdeck is anyway.

Cat 1: Arr. If me back legs were wooden I’d be shiverin’ me timbers.

Me: What’s it going to take for me to end this nonsense.

Cat 1: Fish.

Cat 2: Yeah, fish.

Me: Fine. Follow me. I’ll give you some fish.

Cat 1: Victory!

Cat 2: But I don’t like fish.