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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Went to see Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle at the Drake Hotel last week. Kevin is a keyboardist for the BareNaked Ladies, and has his own band to do his own stuff. It was a great evening, they did some really cool music (with video presentations). Kevin seems to be going for the title of Canada's answer to Al Stewart, with songs about the human genome and Lancaster bombers. Only down side was that they didn't go on till a little before 11 PM, so I didn't get home to bed till 1 AM, and I really can't do that anymore when I have to go to work the next day.

Saturday was the now-annual-it-seems Red vs. Blue in Toronto event at Ryerson. RvB is the Machinima comedy series about a bunch of idiots "fighting" it out in the most strategically important box canyon in the universe (made using the game Halo). Last year Season 1 to 3 were shown (which took most of the day). This year they showed Season 4 only (but didn't bring any DVDs to sell!) but also showed the winners of their machinima contest, had a performance by the guy who writes the music for the show, and had a Q&A session with two of the voice actors.

The machinima contest winners underlined one thing (that also came out in the Q&A), that writing matters. It doesn't matter how cool the graphics are if the dialogue and story suck, and I'm afraid that a lot of these "winners" fell down sharply in that regard. Even some entries with good ideas dragged them out way too long. Short is often better people, till you really know what you're doing! (This also applies to novels and conventions.)

The Q&A session started badly, as it seemed about to become a contest on who could ask the dumbest question (stupid kids!), but it fortunately settled down.

And I won a door prize! A DVD of another machinima series The Strangerhood, about a bunch of people who find themselves in a neighbourhood in the middle of nowhere (literally) with no idea who they are or how they got there. Not as funny as Red vs. Blue, but still good, and the production values (it was made with Sims 2) are outstanding!

Sunday I got together with Paul in the evening to see District 13 (a fantastic French action movie), and in the afternoon when down to the Music Garden for a performance of 17th baroque music. One of the performers was playing something that looked like a lute on steroids. Seriously, it had a neck that was literally six feet long!

Monday was my final samurai film at Cinematheque, Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron, which was fun, but overlong and more than a little confusing in places, with main characters just dropping out of the story before the end. But it had arterial spray, plenty of corn syrup blood, and a surprising amount of skin.

And last night I went on a quite interesting walking tour of High Park, themed on the history of the family who donated it to the city. I also learned that if you come across any Himalayan Balsam there (and there's plenty), you are highly encouraged to just rip it up. Which is easy to do as the entire root is about the size of your fist. But watch out for the poison ivy (another invasive species they're having trouble with).

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The lute on steroids sounds like it was probably a theorbo:

Yes, that was it!

I was confused because I heard them call it "The Orbo", which is the anti-witch serum from Witch Hunter Robin, but I figured I had likely mis-heard it. (Although Robin was raised in Italy, where all the music they played for from...)

I still haven't seen any RvB (the one time I looked into it, they didn't have the first episode available for download on their website, only later ones), despite being a Halo fanboy. You, on the other hand, have apparently seen all of RvB, without (presumably) ever playing Halo.

Funny how that works out.

They only keep the most recent episodes on the website for the non-paying viewer. Become a sponser for x dollars a year, and you get full access. They actually had a short machinima piece on on how sponsers are great and freeloaders are sucky losers.

On the subject of geeky computer game tributes, are you familiar with The Protomen?

If not, it is a groupt that does Megaman rock opera, with a couple good tracks. If such has not already crossed your path, and interests you, I will drop some by.

Incidentally, I think you are completely correct about the planets thing--any way we can elect you to said international body?

I'll give the samples a listen.

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