Little bitty tidbits

Which Sci-Fi author will you marry? If you choose the first answer for every question, the result will be the science fiction writer I know best. Cory, whoever made this test has the hots for you, I think.

Hey, where’s a test where I’m one of the results? Doesn’t the World’s Most Humble Egomaniac™ deserve one too?

You don’t know Accordion City unless you’ve done these things. I’ve done most of them, having lived here for about 25 years.

The first casuality of war is good manners.

Two hours of busking and less than two quid to show for it? And he’s a good singer/songwriter too. I don’t think he was trying hard enough. These people did better.

Help this guy sound more “street” and he’ll give you twenty bucks. Dat shit is wack, yo. Is this an actor trying to get a gig? A rich white kid trying to impress someone? A cop about to go undercover? A guy who can’t get up enough nerve to buy a FUBU jacket?


Wednesday went something like this…

8:00 a.m.

I got up, hit the shower, shaved, made breakfast and watched some time-shifted TV. This is how most of my TV watching — perhaps a grand total of three to five hours a week — get done: watching some previous night’s show on videotape over low-carb breakfast. This morning’s TV fare was last week’s Enterprise, in which Captain Archer and company find a mysterious ship that the Suliban and the Tholians want to get their grubby paws on.

9:00 a.m.

Email, then some work on a database application for the funniest clients currently on my roster.

10:25 a.m.

Need for Diet Coke sends me to the store. It’s a bright and sunny day, so I opt to not go to the closest convenience store, but the one at Queen an John. It gives me a chance to walk down Queen Street, which look beautiful in the morning. My good mood becomes even better.

I rap out a few lines of Run-DMC to myself: “I’m the King of Rock.”

11:30 a.m.

I’m coding away on that database application when I’m interrupted by a call by a telemarketer:

Telemarketer: Hello, is this Mr…. Mr…. dah-vee-lah?

Me: Speaking. [I realize it’s a telemarketer as I say this and I’m already trying to find a polite way out.]

Telemarketer: Are you the owner of the house?

Me: [A quick way out!] No, I’m renting it.

Telemarketer: Could you perhaps give me the number of your landlord?

Me: Are you kidding? Give my landlord’s number to a telemarketer? What do you think, I want to get evicted?!

Telemarketer: I never thought of it that way.

Me: That’s why they pay me the big bucks. Hey, can I sell you something? A joke perhaps. The first one’s free…

Telemarketer: Ummm….

Me: What has four legs and digs chicks? Me and my housemate! Thank you very much. I’m here all week. Try the veal, and remember to tip your server. You have a good day.

Telemarketer: Uh, yeah, goodbye…


I’ve always wanted to do that.

I’m the King of Rock.

12:00 noon

I get a call from my friend Kevin. Kevin left Canada back in 1992 to study at Cambridge, where he subsequently got a job, then got married and lived in the UK until recently. He;s since moved back to Toronto and is now looking for a job. We try to meet up at least once a week. He’s got a job interview downtown and wants to know if I can meet him for coffee somewhere, to which I gladly say yes. We agree to meet at the cafe inside the Indigo bookstore at the Eaton Centre at 2:00 p.m..

12:20 p.m.

I get a call from a contracting firm who says that there’s a nice 6-ish-week programming contract — Visual Basic 6 and ADO — for the government that could be mine. They don’t have VB expertise, they’re a ColdFusion kind of shop. They found my resume online and really liked the application design case studies.

I’m the King of Rock.

How soon can I show up at their office? (Thankfully, it’s not far: I live here and their office is here).

12:25 p.m.

Putting on a royal blue dress shirt, black dress pants, navy blue Steve Jobs-esque vest, black blazer, Rockports. Employers go crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man.

I’m the King of Rock.

1:00 p.m.

I arrive at the contracting firm’s office. They tell me that the branch of government who needs a programmer is Immigration Canada and that they were burned by the last programmer they hired. He’d used the tactic of a desperate programmer and lied about his Visual Basic programming experience. Even in a down economy, honesty about your skills and experience is the best policy.

The contractor said the client was a bit worried about how much Visual Basic experience I had. “You seemed to downplay it in your resume,” he said, and I explained that it’s not always in one’s best interest to associate yourself with the Rodney Dangerfield of programming languages.

“However, in the end,” I said, “it’s good for a lot of business applications where you want to worry more about the workflow and user-friendliness and less about squeezing the last iota of performance out of the machine or impressing the Slashdot crowd. It’s the programming language that lets you have a life.”

“‘The programming language that lets you have a life.’ I like that. Look, as soon as you’re done with this contract, we might have an even nicer-paying one for you.”

I’m the King of Rock.

They explain to me that they’ve booked a 3:30 p.m. appointment for me with the project manager at Immigration Canada. If they like me, I get the job. I think I can make a good impression, even on such short notice.

2:00 p.m.

Kevin meets me at Indigo and offers to buy me lunch. Since Mom didn’t rasie no fools, I accept.

3:00 p.m.

Lunch ends, and I hop on the subway to go to Immigration Canada’s office at Yonge and St. Clair.

3:30 p.m.

Interview time! First, they show me the program that they want me to work on, after which I show them a couple of applications I’d written using Visual Basic: the database of every mall in America, and the athletic training program used by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Canadian Olympic Ski Team.

The project lead is impressed. The lead programmer is not so easily impressed and throws me some trick questions, which I deflect as a Jedi Master would deflect rubberized weasels hurled at him.

I’m the King of Rock.

“When are you available?” they ask, to which I reply “Tomorrow.”

They say they’ll get back to me.

4:15 p.m.

Back on the subway and now going to Jay Goldman’s house to show him the current state of the control panel application that we’re both working on for an ISP.

5:00 p.m.

At Jay’s place, where I show him the app on my laptop, and he shows me his new pair of Technics 1200 turntables — accept no substitute if you’re a DJ — and spins the Sesame Street album The Count Counts. It’s a classic.

5:10 p.m.

We both get phone calls simultaneously. Jay’s sorting out some kind of Pantone colour problem with a printing company. I’m getting a call from one of the production assistants from the movie Squeezebox, for which I am their accordion consultant.

“Hi, Joey,” Andrea says “We’re doing the bathroom scene and can use your help. Can you be here soon?”

In the scene, the father of a family of accordion superstars has locked himself in the bathroom and isn’t coming out. He’s distraught that his son Brad, who’s tired of polka, has quit the family band (Brad’s the best player, the Jimi Hendrix of the group). Mother (played by Mary-Margaret O’Hara) tries to talk him into coming out of the bathroom and calls her daughter Lolly to cheer him up with an accordion tune. Son is nowhere to ne found; he’s actually in the bedroom next to the bathroom masturbating to fantasies about his sister’s best friend.

It’s a charmingly twisted movie, and the dog gets the best lines.

I’m going to show Jessica, who plays Lolly, enough accordion technique to look convincing on film.

6:00 p.m.

From Church and Dundas to College West and Palmerston by cab. I arrive at an old house, which turns out to have been used for many television, movie and commercial shoots.

One of the behind-the-scenes people — he’s wearing a souvenir t-shirt that says he was on the film crew for Undercover Brother — sees me, still in my interview clothing and says “there goes one sharp-dressed accordion man.”

I’m the King of Rock.

I wait until they need me, during which time I talk to Jim the location manager about his work on Mutant X and on how much work it would take to translate a VB.NET program into REALBasic. I’m called upstairs, where I walk Jessica through some basic techniques (“You want one squeeze per bar, and you want the motion to be smooth”). I watch the shoot, which they do a number of times, from different angles.

The makeup guy asks me why I’m so dressed up and I tell him that it was for a job interview. He asks me what my line of work is, and when I tell him, he informs me that he’s a programmer too. Got his degree from Waterloo. He did programming straight out of school, but then discovered that being a makeup artist is more fun.

7:00 p.m.

Homeward bound. In the cab home, I get a call from the contracting company. The people at Immigration Canada liked me and want to hire me. Can I show up for 10 a.m. tomorrow?

Sure. I’m the King of Rock.

8:00 p.m.

Dinner and Enterprise.

9:00 p.m.

Paul and I do a little guitar-and-accordion practice.

9:15 p.m.

Phone call on my cell, which interrupts practice. Caller ID says it’s the cute girl who’s just come back after being out of town for the past couple of months.

“Gotta take this one, Paul. It’s extremely urgent.”

Well, it is…

10:00 p.m.

A lovely phone call with a lovely person.

I’m the King of Rock.

Practice resumes. Learn a Tom Petty song and Eminem’s Cleaning Out My Closet.

11:00 p.m.

Out to Tortilla Flats for a drink at the Thirsty People of Toronto meeting. Have a lime margarita.

12:10 p.m.

Back home to answer some email and do a little technical reading.

1:00 p.m.

Another chapter of Fast Food Nation, which Jillzilla sent me as a gift! Thanks, Jill! You’re the Queen of Rock!

1:20 p.m.

Contact lenses out, teeth brushed, slip into skin-tight leopardskin-print rubber luge outfit for bed. One of these is not true.

But you know what is true? I’m the King of Rock!


Congratulations, Quinn!

Slight technical correction — see the bottom of this entry

My friend Quinn Norton has given birth to a lovely young girl named Ada T. Norton, who weighed in at a very healthy 8.8 pounds. I believe the baby was named after Lady Ada Lovelace, who — depending on which historical analysis you believe — was either the world’s first programmer or world’s first software and hardware documenter.

Being a house full of geeks deep in the heart of Silicon Valley, they blogged the birth. The best line in that mini-blog goes to Gilbert:

On a completly unrelated note, I’d like to point out to my workplace that this birth was significantly shorter than most internal OSS [Open Source Software] code releases. Perhaps you guys should take a hint or two.

Gilbert fails to appreciate these crucial differences between parents and Open Source programmers:

  • With parents, the guy-girl ratio’s pretty even.
  • Unlike Open Source projects, with parenting it’s considered bad form to abandon, fork or hand the project over to someone else.
  • The maintenance phase of a parenting project is at least 18 years.
  • Parents, by definition, have had sex at least once in their lives.

And now, the technical correction

Gilbert writes:

No, foo, not Open Source Software; I’m talking about Operational Systems Software, something that every good telco or ILEC has. It’s most definately NOT open source.

Oops. I haven’t made an acronym boo-boo like that since the one I made with “MILF”: I thought he was talking about those peckerheads, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and he was using it in the American Pie sense: “Mom I’d Like to Fuck”.

I still think the differences between parents and Operational Systems Software programmers still apply, though.


Damned Blogger ate my post — again…

…so it’ll have to wait until later today.

(What is up with Blogger these days? Since their announcement of their buyout by Google, I’ve had problems with them losing my posts.)


Quiet on the set

Please forgive the lack of a blog entry for the time being. Between teaching actors how to convincingly wield accordions, playing the part of “accordion-playing guy in hallway” and programming on my laptop during the downtime, it’s been a very busy day. Stories are forthcoming, I promise.


Trent Reznor started out this way, you know…

Doctors may have reason complain about the unrealistic portrayals in ER. Cops and lawyers say that while Law and Order’s stories are well-told, they’re hardly what happens in the real world. Military personnel have griped about how Hollywood always gets it wrong. My geek friends and I have laughed at the way computers and their programmers are written for TV and movies.

I am doing my part to prevent this kind of on-screen misrepresentation from happening to my fellow accordion players. You see, I’m the technical consultant for a Canadian Film Centre film called Squeezebox.

I admit that the range of technical errors about accordion playing made by movies and TV is minor in comparison to other fields. Rambo has launched missles with the radio’s “transmit” button, ER‘s doctors take too-heroic measures and Hugh Jackman’s geek in Swordfish broke encryption just by thinking about it hard enough. The most likely error a Squeezebox cast member will make is trying to put on their accordion upside-down.

But dammit, I’m going to prevent that. They will strap their accordions on right side up. They will master the art of moving the bellows. They will position their fingers properly over the buttons and keys. They will learn how to do a convincing bellows shake. Hell, I might even be able to teach them Louie Louie. This will be like the accordion version of boot camp that the actors in Full Metal Jacket and G.I. Jane went through before filming. I will break them! Break them and rebuild them into my Unholy Accordion Army of the Night!

And then I will feast on their souls. Or maybe just the tuna salad from the film’s craft services.

I will also be an extra in the film — I’ll be one of the contestants in the “accordion competition” scene. One of my keyboard heroes, Trent Reznor, started out this way too, with a bit part as a member of the band “The Problems” in the Michael J. Fox/Joan Jett movie Light of Day.

At last, I’ll be able to leave this unprofitable software business and get into music. I hear that’s where the money is.


Top search strings for this site

Here are the top twenty terms that have led people to this site,, in reverse order along with appropriate links:

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19. kode

18. joey

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15. data types in vb

14. accordion guy

13. chauvinism

12. string functions in vb

11. rosetta stone

10. accordian [That’s not the right spelling!]

9. virtual bubble wrap

8. priceless nudity

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6. cute girls

5. accordion

4. string functions vb

3. white trash

2 . vb string functions

and the one you’ve all been waiting for…

1. nudity