March 2003

Art imitates life

by Joey deVilla on March 31, 2003

Cory Doctorow hit the 30,000-word mark on his latest novel, usr/bin/god (ask a geeky friend who uses some version of the UNIX operating system if you don’t get the joke). To celebrate the milestone, he’s posted a 2,000-word snippet which includes this interesting paragraph:

Job interview! He cringed at the words, cringed at the memory of the grueling, humiliating pre-test he’d had to do to even *get* a job-interview, which had included fifteen essay questions on the history of the Internet, the fine points of Microsoft Foundation Classes, and SQL query-syntax. He’d had to define a glossary of no fewer than 30 technical terms, including “PEBKAC” (“Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair”), which had been his freaking *login* for five years on an underpowered Solaris box at his ISP.

Regular readers of this blog may recall a posting of mine about having to answer a dozen essay questions — many of which were meant merely to determine my 1337 bona fides rather than any techincal skill or experience — to even get an interview with a particular software company located in downtown Accordion City. After that, there was still the matter of a pre-interview interview, followed by an interview, followed by a presentation.

Cory noted the job interview hoop-jumping I had to do in two entries in BoingBoing back in November. It would seem that those blog entries provided some inspiration for a detail in the story, which seems pretty cool. (The mention of Microsoft Foundation Classes might have also come from me — see this blog entry — most of Cory’s geek friends are either those dirty Linux hippies or glaze-eyed Mac moonies.)

I am, of course, making a wild assumption here. Cory could’ve come up with that detail all on his own. However, as the World’s Most Humble Egomaniac™, my mantra is “It’s all about me.”

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Bet you didn’t know Kim Jong Il had a LiveJournal

by Joey deVilla on March 29, 2003

I’ve kidded Jamie Zawinski that I thought he wasn’t disturbed enough to have a LiveJournal, but I’m sure Kim Jong Il is. And lo and behold, it turns out that “beloved leader” actually has one!

Whoever’s writing it has got the LiveJournal writing style down pat, opting to write Kim Jong Il as a mopey teenager. Here’s a snippet:

I’m not feeling very good about myself today. I guess I build walls around myself because I don’t want people to get too close. Sometimes I wish I could just be normal and not such a Stalinist.

All the writer really needs to do to truly capture the LJ angsty flavour is use a black background and mood icons like:

Today I am feeling: Graphic: LJ mood icon of kitten ennui, but so what else is new?

Here’s my favourite entry so far, a transcript of an IM chat between Kim and Bush. Some of you may find the conversation eerily familiar:

License2KimJongill: hey

License2KimJongill: so listen, if you’re not doing anything next month, i thought it would be fun if maybe we did something

Bush43: LIKE WHAT?

License2KimJongill: i was thinking maybe you could come to pyongyang and maybe we could have nuclear negotiations

Bush43: YEAH! IT SOUNDS LIKE FUN! I’LL INVITE RUSSIA AND JAPAN AND CHINA AND ALL THOSE GUYS. AND MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE IT AT MY HOUSE INSTEAD

License2KimJongill: oh, um……

License2KimJongill: i kind of thought it would be more fun if it was just us

Bush43: WHAT, YOU MEAN JUST THE TWO OF US?

Bush43: ONE ON ONE?

License2KimJongill: yeah! over here in pyongyang. we could watch the mass games and go frolicking on Mount Paektu. there’s this rainbow

Bush43: I THINK THAT MIGHT BE WIERD

License2KimJongill: what do you mean?

Bush43: LOOK I’M STILL GETTING OVER THIS SADDAM THING OKAY? I THINK I ALREADY TOLD YOU SADDAM IS STILL IN MY LIFE. SO I JUST DON’T THINK IT’S A GOOD IDEA RIGHT NOW

License2KimJongill: oh

Bush43: I’D STIL LIKE TO GO BUT I THINK RUSSIA AND JAPAN AND CHINA SHOULD COME TOO. WE COULD DO A GROUP THING

License2KimJongill: you know what…just forget it

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Other "Coalition of the willing" puns

by Joey deVilla on March 28, 2003

A co-worker has locked up a file that I need to edit and gone for a long, long lunch. Bad, bad coworker. How can I write refugee processing software without that file? Leaving refugee data in an inconsistent state makes Baby Jesus cry. I’ll bet it makes relational database pioneer C.J. Date cry too.

In the meantime, how ’bout some more puns on “Coalition of the willing”?

Farmers Coalition of the tilling
Feather-pen enthusiasts Coalition of the quilling
Oil companies Coalition of the drilling
People making flour Coalition of the milling
Everyone on medication Coalition of the pilling
Hit men Coalition of the killing
Drunk oil tanker captains Coalition of the spilling
A mess of Lisp programmers, all saying “no” Coalition of the NILling
The Thirsty People of Toronto Coalition of the swilling
People who make money off the Thirsty People of Toronto Coalition of the distilling
Several trip-hop and ambient bands organizing a cross-country tour Coalition of the chilling
Several hip-hop bands doing the same Coalition of the illing
The North Korean Army doing the same Coalition of the Kim Jong Illing
Carbohydrates Coalition of the filling
The entire Lilith Fair engaged in onanism
(might not be safe for work)
Coalition of the jilling
(might not be safe for work)

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"Worst dates ever" stories still forthcoming

by Joey deVilla on March 28, 2003

I’m just trying to carve out enought time to write those entries. Work has to take precedence as my landlord, the utilities companies and a number of stores in the market have formed a “Coalition of the Billing”.

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A victory for the accordion buskers

by Joey deVilla on March 28, 2003

Morgan and Vinyl Demon both pointed me to this CNN story that begins with this line:

After two run-ins with police for playing his accordion on the village’s streets, Jacob Kouwe has been cleared to polka.

The aptly-named town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio is a suburb of Cleveland (which, contrary to what Drew Carey will tell you, does not rock in the very least). The sixteen-year-old accordion player started busking in the downtown area of Chagrin Falls in December, playing polkas and hymns on his accordion. His playing drew two complaints to the police: one from a busybody nothing-better-to-do Starbucks employee who claimed that he was “soliciting” and another from a resident who complained that his playing was “tacky”. The police looked into the possibility that Jacob was disturbing the peace by breaking a 1935 law prohibiting the loud playing of musical instruments.

I respectfully suggest that the Starbucks employee get a life. As for the other complainant: anyone who lives in Cleveland is automatically disqualified from calling anything “tacky”; this goes triple for anyone who lives in a suburb of Cleveland.

It worked out in the end: the village council (I can’t help imagining a group of elders carrying torches and dropping black or white balls into the preserved skull of the town founder) ruled that his performances do not disturb the peace. Jacob said the following to the council:

I admit street performances are not the polished, perfected, album-quality fare served up by formal concert venues. However, my street performances are from the heart.

Truer words were never spoken. Well done, Jacob!

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Open Mike at Graffiti’s

by Joey deVilla on March 27, 2003

Here’s an entry I wrote about two weeks ago but never got a chance to post. About two weeks ago, Paul and I played the open mike night at Graffiti’s and had a great time. If you’re in the Kensington Market area tonight at around 11-ish, drop by and hear us play the guitar-and-accordion rock that the government doesn’t want you to hear.

I do believe that The Girl will be dropping by, and if I recall correctly, she promised to throw her underwear at me, a la Tom Jones’ fans. Rock!


Immediately after the gathering with Doc Searls, I hopped a cab and made my way to Graffiti’s in Kensington Market. Graffiti’s has an open mike night on Mondays and Thursdays, and its popularity is growing.

Paul and I have been doing the Open Mike circuit more often. We’ve been performing his new songs and they’ve been pretty well received (I’ll have to pen a magnificent rock opus or two myself). He used to hate the chaos that’s sometimes associated with these nights. “Why are these things so random?!” he’d complain, to which I’d reply “because they’re run by neo-hippies.” He’s also now more comfortable in front of a crowd, enjoying the rush that comes with public performance and learning to handle the randomness that plagues events run by indie rock/folkie set.

Graffiti’s has a glass-and-aluminum garage door as their front window. This is quite nice in the summer, as they often roll it up to let some air in. However, in the winter, it’s a poorly-insulated wall that lets in a lot of cold air. Inside, it was cold enough to see your breath. Apparently the heater wasn’t working that night.

We sat near the stage (which also meant we were in the coldest part of the room) and started talking to the people beside us — Derek and Maggie — who’d driven in all the way from Oakville (Oakville is to Toronto as Newark is to New York City. Sort of.). Maggie had never performed in front of an audience before; this was going to be her big debut.

“Don’t worry too much,” said Paul, “never take it seriously.”

“In fact,” I added, “never take anything seriously.”

It was a pretty nice open mike night. There was considerably more variety than what you’d hear at the Free Times Cafe (supposedly the open mike venue here in Accordion City), but it’s always been a bit grating. Too many skinny self-pitying waifs and naifs performing the same damned “nobody loves me” song on their Takamine guitars. Does Takamine have some kind of “unrequited love”, “just got dumped” or “forgot to take my meds” discount? Paul ended up having a conversation with someone who remarked “The Free Times?! That’s just a clique that’s been going on for the past twelve years!”

Early in the evening, one of the performers asked if there was someone in the crowd who was drunk enough to try playing backup piano on a song they’d never heard before.

“I’m not drunk,” I said immediately, “but I’ll do it.”

“Cool,” he said, “and hey, I love your hat.”

I’m going to have to buy another one of these the next time I’m in Vegas.

Sweat-of-the-pants stuff like this keeps me sharp. The song was a simple I-IV-V in the key of G with a very mellow tempo, so it was pretty easy to follow him. By the second cycle of chords, I’d managed to get a lock on its “shape”. By the end, I’d managed to expand the comping and throw in some nice transition chords to boot. I love improvising.

When I returned to my seat after the song, I told Maggie that I like doing that sort of impromptu thing.

“I get a rush from getting thrown into things like that,” I said.

“You didn’t get thrown in, you jumped in.”

“Good point.”

But really, why live on the sidelines when there’s a whole playing field out there?

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Today’s "What the Hell, people?!" award goes to…

by Joey deVilla on March 26, 2003

…the increasingly rabid Indymedia for this vicious posting:

The grenade attack that took place today in Kuwait is alleged to be committed by another AMERICAN SOLIDER. Repeat. The Grenade attack today was an example of Fragging–not a terrorist attack. This shows that RESISTANCE and REBELLION ARE ON THE RISE! Watch the American Free Press downplay and try to bury this incident. Support our Troops–but only those who Frag their commanding officer.

This is disgusting. It’s one thing to say that you don’t agree with the war, but this is something completely different. These people have pretty much turned in their running shoes and left the human race. They’re no better than some of the commenters on the Little Green Footballs blog.

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