March 2012

Joey deVilla wearing headphones in a CD shop, reading the back of Fatboy Slim's "You've Come a Long Way, Baby" CD

This is me in Osaka, Japan in late October 1998, in the CD department of a department store called Loft. I spent the week leading up to Hallowe’en in Southwestern Japan, visiting my friend Anne, who’d gone there to teach English for the year. It was the second part of my Asian vacation that year; I’d spent about ten days in the Philippines visiting family and having a grand old time. The fun would continue in Japan, and that couple of weeks still stand out to this day as one of my all-time favourite trips. I consider it a prelude to the era of the accordion, which I would take to the streets for the first time six months later.

In the photo, I’m checking out the international edition of Fatboy Slim’s then-new album, You’ve Come a Long Way Baby (the one with Praise You, Right Here Right Now, Gangsta Trippin’ and The Rockafeller Skank). I didn’t buy it, since I already had the North American edition, and 1880 Yen was a lot of money then. Instead, I bought a single, Everybody Singin’ Love Song, by a j-pop band called the MB’s (or Magokoro Brothers, or 真心ブラザーズ). It’s a catchy little tune from a time when a lot of bands seem to have rediscovered Stevie Wonder’s sound (Jamiroquai, I’m lookin’ right at you), and I apologize in advance if this song gets stuck in your head all day. Here’s the lower-fidelity version, featuring the video for the song…

…and for those of you who want to get your groove on, here’s a higher-fi version with just the album graphics:

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The people pitching Vytautas certainly know how to make mineral water exciting!

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The Calgary Mayor’s Clever Comeback

by Joey deVilla on March 28, 2012

This Twitter exchange is from last summer, but it’s new to me and might be new to you:

Screenshot of Twitter conversation on iPhone: @tommy_summers: "My limp dick could do a better job of running this city" @nenshi: "Well, I'm away for a few days, so tell him to give it a try! PS: Look into pharmaceuticals for the limpness issue."

Toronto mayor Rob Ford doesn’t have the wit or anger management skills to do this; he’d either flip out or call 911.

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It’s What They Call “The Hunger Games” in Paris

by Joey deVilla on March 27, 2012

Scene from "Pulp Fiction" with John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in the car: "You know what they call The Hunger Games in Paris? Battle Royale with Cheese"

Heh. (If you’re not familiar with the 2000 Japanese film called Battle Royale, here’s its Wikipedia entry.)

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I played Dungeons and Dragons, majored in computer science, know a number of science fiction and fantasy authors and like eating turkey legs. You’d think that that would make me the sort of person who goes to Renaissance Faires, but I’d never been to one…until St. Patrick’s Day, a couple of Saturdays ago. That’s when I went to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival (where “Bay Area” refers to Tampa Bay).

Joey deVilla in a "Three Musketeers"-style hat with feathers, holding a wooden mug with a carved dragon handle, playing the accordion and smiling

I can always be convinced to do something if you say “You get to walk around with a giant mug and a silly hat”. I can be more easily convinced if you’re wearing an outfit like this:

Young lady in full renaissance faire dress

In case you were wondering where Ren Faires are on the Geek Hierarchy, this handy chart should help. Click on it to see it at full size:

The Geek Hierarchy, Version 2.0.

My hat was a loaner from my lovely young lady friend. I’ve got to get me one; I’d wear it all the time, even at work!

Joey deVilla in silly hat

I am a suave mofo.

First, we caught some jousting…

…and then some sword fighting…

…and they weren’t afraid to get a little anachronistic and have a WWE-style smackdown:

Then it was time to walk through the Faire — a collection of tents and stalls spread throughout the wooded grounds of MOSI, Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry — and see what else was going on. Here’s a pic of my charming guide with some of the Faire in the background:

These guys put on a great acrobatics show. My first thought upon seeing the move below was “Hey, I’ve seen this movie before!”

They call this trick “The Table”:

These guys were in great shape. I could practice for 20 years and still not be able to do this:

Elsewhere, there were demonstrations of ancient German sword fighting technique:

They did a pretty good job of showing how to use the large German swords, which many people considered to be too unwieldy.

“The most dangerous swordsman,” they said, “is the one who knows nothing and goes out on the field swinging wildly. He’ll get both himself and his opponent killed or maimed.”

That sword’s a little close to some tender parts:

We covered most of the Faire grounds:

Ye test of strength!

We ended our day by watching the comedic stylings of Christophe the Insultor. He is a clever and funny guy — sort of like an evil parallel universe version of my friend Reg Braithwaite.

Christophe insults people for money. He gets people to pool their money together and choose a person to insult. He’ll then improvise a monologue in which he insults the poor victim; the duration and intensity of the session depends on how much money he’s given.

The lovely young woman in the background was the final victim, for which we collected about $200. That kind of money will get you a full ten-minute Christophe routine.

He got both the audience and victim laughing:

…and he did so with raunch sufficient to make the young lady cover her mouth in shock:

…and a good time was had by all. I love the looks on both the victim’s and Christophe’s faces in this pic:

All in all, great fun, made even better by great company.

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Laser-printed sign taped onto a sliding glass door leading outside: "NO PUBLIC NUDITY. No nudity beyond this point!"

Let me say this: I had a pretty good time.

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Hot Prussian-on-Bavarian Action!

by Joey deVilla on March 26, 2012

Plate of frites with the monogram "Nichts ist so heiss wie die Liebe zwischen Bayern und Preisse"

The inscription on this plate of frites translates from the German as “Nothing is as hot as the love between a Bavarian and a Prussian“. I see potential in making plates like this for film fans (“Nothing is as unlikely as the love between a Coen brothers aficionado and someone who waiting in line for Twilight tickets”), Toronto neighbourhoods (“Nothing is as Toronto hipster as the occasional hook-up between a Parkdale chick and a guy from Leslieville“) or whatever (“Nothing is as WTF as the love between Richard Gere and a guy who looks like the Dalai Lama in a Hamtaro costume”).

Feel free to suggest more inscriptions in the comments.

Fun fact of the day: The Wikipedia entry for Prussia features a map that uses the colour Prussian Blue to indicate the Kingdom of Prussian within the German Empire.

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