October 2008

Monthly Archive

Metal Music and Demon Babies, or How I Learned to Love the BeeGees

Posted by Office-Bob on 29 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: General Craziness

The artist of one of the webcomics that I read on a regular basis mentioned seeing a tribute band called Tragedy (WARNING - MUSIC) and while I’m not really into metal or the BeeGees, the idea of a metal tribute band was too intriguing to pass up without further study. I went to the site, listened to clips from some of the songs, and I liked what I heard so I ordered their CD - We Rock Sweet Balls and Can Do No Wrong - which arrived in today’s mail.

The CD looks like a disco ball!

Not being a connoisseur of metal I have no idea how Tragedy fares when compared to other bands, but I have to admit that overall this is a really good album. All of the “standards” are there - Staying Alive, Jive Talkin’, Night Fever - but for me, the best track is You Should Be Dancing because there’s an extended piece of narration that talks about how a town virgin is impregnated by a dark angel who descends from Heaven, causing a number of dead babies to come out of her womb. Imagine you’re listening to some hard-rocking BeeGees music (the fuh?) and you hear this:

“Their red blood cell count is zero; these are some very sick babies - so sick that they’re dead. And evil. However, protruding from their cute little baby genitalia are four fuzzy little baby goat hooves…”

How the hell can you not love a song with (extra) lyrics like these?

As someone who isn’t a fan of metal or the BeeGees I strongly recommend this album. Those of you who really like one or the other - well, listen to the clips on Tragedy’s website and make up your own mind.

Love it or hate it, at least you have a chance to own a CD that looks like a disco ball.

Popularity: 23% [?]

The best laid plans

Posted by Office-Bob on 20 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: The Church of Pyro, FX

I found out today that a gig scheduled for November 1 has fallen through. While it would have been interesting (a broadcast-to-China benefit for earthquake relief), when you take a few things into account it’s just as well that there’s not going to be any pyro:

  • When we had the first meeting with the production team a couple of weeks ago they didn’t have the stage design completed, which made it impossible to start planning the pyro as we didn’t know how much room we’d have to work with (important for safety, and also important for getting your show permit approved; fire departments don’t like it when you wait until late in the game to file for a permit and, like Bruce Banner, it’s not a good idea to make them angry).
  • At the same meeting it became clear that they wanted more (and specialized) lighting equipment than the original quote they were given; when something like that happens it usually means that the money for extra gear has to be taken from somewhere else in the budget.
  • We were only going to have one day for load-in and setup instead of the 2 or 3 we’d have preferred - this meant that we’d likely not have anything like waterfall effects or snow/bubble machines because we wouldn’t have time to install them in the rigging, and we’d have had very little time to assemble stage boxes because, lest we forget, the day before November 1 is October 31, which is Halloween, which is when a number of us are busy setting up and putting on shows of our own.
  • So to sum up the pluses and minuses:

    Unknown stage design - MINUS

    Lack of load-in/setup time - MINUS

    Trying to do prep right before Halloween when I already have a show to build and shoot - MINUS

    Not having to deal with the hassle of driving downtown and maneuvering around the venue - PLUS

    Not having to deal with potentially neurotic TV directors and producers - PLUS

    Not stressing about having two back-to-back shows - PLUS

    On the whole, I think it balances out.

    Popularity: 32% [?]

    A fireworks compromise that might work

    Posted by Office-Bob on 16 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: The Church of Pyro

    It’s been a while in coming, but the City of Vancouver has created a new policy that might help reduce the problems with underage/irresponsible people doing stupid things with consumer fireworks on Halloween.

    Here’s a PDF that briefly explains the new process; it’s a matter of filling out a permit application and passing a small test. Once this is done you can print out a permit which will allow you to legally purchase and use fireworks within the city limits.

    Considering the original suggestion back in 2006 was to completely ban consumer fireworks in Vancouver, or to require users to obtain a federal Display Operator’s license, I’m happy to see that the City has backed off from such draconian ideas and has made it easier and more practical to enjoy fireworks in a responsible manner…however, I’m not sure how effective this is going to be for the following reasons:

  • Federal law already required users of consumer fireworks to be 18 or older (more on this later), yet it wasn’t hard to find underage people shooting fireworks with seeming impunity…this means that either an adult was buying fireworks and giving/reselling them to minors, or retailers were selling them illegally.
  • For the sake of argument let’s assume that the new permit system works properly; it only covers the City of Vancouver so even if you’re old enough to purchase and use them legally, you could go to a vendor located outside the city limits and buy from them without requiring a permit.
  • To the best of my knowledge the federal age requirement for purchasing consumer fireworks is still 18 or older, but Vancouver is requiring people to be 19; this could raise issues with the legality of the Vancouver rules if someone felt strongly enough to challenge it. Personally I doubt that will happen, but you never know.
  • Announcing new regs two weeks before Halloween is in my opinion not the best idea, particularly when it requires retailers to take extra steps to ensure the legality of their sales; I hope the retailers were warned ahead of time that this was in the works rather than reading about it in the newspaper, as I did today.
  • I guess we’ll have to wait until after Halloween to see how well this works. I hope it does work because then it’s possible that other municipalities, including those that have completely banned the use of consumer fireworks, might rethink their positions and relax their restrictions.

    People of Vancouver: You’re being given the opportunity to show that a reasonable compromise can work…

    don’t screw it up.

    Popularity: 18% [?]

    DHS can GOES take a flying leap (update at end of entry)

    Posted by Office-Bob on 13 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Rants

    My Canadian passport expires in January of 2009 (lets hear it for the Canadian passport’s 5-year lifespan compared to the US passport’s 10-year life), so I’m in the process of filling out and sending in a new passport application.

    After I receive my new passport, I will also have to update my NEXUS information – actually, when anything used as part of the NEXUS system changes (driver’s license, credit card, etc.) you have to update the information or risk losing your NEXUS status. No big deal, I thought, until I started looking up details on how I have to update the information and found that part of the process would entail using GOES, brought to you as part of that organization we all love to hate, known as the Department of Homeland Stupidity Security.

    As you may recall from this entry, I hadn’t used the Global Online Enrollment System after I registered there and gave up on the clusterfuck that was their version of the NEXUS application because they asked for my car’s VIN, which I didn’t have handy because they hadn’t warned me I’d need it. However, I usually do not fight the weather and while I was able to get around the original application snag, it looked as if GOES was the only way to go this time.

    I accessed the GOES site and, of course, realized that I didn’t remember my username (though I could make some educated guesses) or my password (which, because of their insane requirements, wasn’t going to be anything remotely like the passwords I generally create). No problem, I’ll just click the “Forgot Password” link…

    …only to wait 5 minutes while the website decided that their server wasn’t available.

    Sigh.

    After trying a few more times I managed to make it to the page only to be confronted with a plethora of tasks including 3 security questions and a CAPTCHA. As someone who doesn’t tend to take many vacations, I was stumped on how to answer the query regarding my favourite vacation spot (I’m guessing that “anywhere I don’t have to deal with DHS fucktardedry” isn’t an option). I guessed wrong the first time (out of 3 tries before the account is locked) and when I tried it again, it took so long that I was told my session had timed out.

    I went for what I thought was Round Two…

    …and I guess the timeout counted as my second try because after another attempt I was informed that my account was locked.

    At least the password reset link appeared to be dead simple – oh, hell, I spoke too soon, as it became clear that GOES and Safari (my browser of choice) weren’t going to play nice since GOES asked me to enter the state/province I was born in, which I had already done. Okay, I’ll just try this in a different browser and see how it GOES (sorry). Next up…Opera!

    Nope, still had the same bug where it thinks I haven’t entered the state. What would happen if I use the RESET button and entered the information again? Success, it seems to have accepted it but hey wait a minute now I’m back at the GOES home page and I have no idea what just happened what the everloving fuck?

    Another sigh. By this point I’m beginning to think the reason this website is more fucked than a 2 dollar hooker is because any money that should have been spent on computer hardware was instead spent on the new TSA uniforms.

    Of course, it didn’t occur to me until after I’d gotten locked out of my account that I might have a copy of my GOES information archived somewhere. Sure enough, a quick search for the keyword “NEXUS” takes me to a folder with my GOES username (which was nothing like I expected) and my funky password.

    I was tired of sighing by then and was considering bashing my head against the keyboard; I decided against this course of action because, while I do have another keyboard, I don’t want to spend the rest of the evening picking broken keys out of my forehead. Besides, it’s not the keyboard’s fault (is it?).

    Just to see what would happen, I tried logging in with the correct name and password. GOES accepted it (the fuh? I thought my account was locked?)and told me that my password needed to be changed because it was too old (okay, I created the account last year so that makes sense) but when I entered a new password (twice) and clicked the button to make the change, I was told the password couldn’t be changed because my account was locked.

    I think the people who designed this furshlugginer website are the same people who write software for ATMs where it waits until after you’ve entered all your information, including the banking you want to do, before you’re told you entered your PIN wrong.

    Tomorrow morning I shall try calling the toll-free number for GOES “Customer Service” (I fully expect there’ll be a separate rant about that) and if it isn’t available from Canada, I’ll try contacting them through the provided email address.

    Pray for me.

    UPDATE 10/14/08: The toll-free numbers works in Canada, and after spending about 5 minutes on hold I was connected to a very helpful CSR who reset my account; I was able to log in and replace the temp password he gave me, and everything is working for now.

    Popularity: 36% [?]