Monthly Archives: March 2010

Gambling For Kids

When I picked Nefarious up from school today she was clutching the brochure below in her hand, which you may recognize as materials from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as in the doomsday cult that’s been preaching that the apocalypse is coming along any day now, for way to long to be taken seriously. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I was not very happy with this.


What happened was that Nefarious, another student, and a teacher went on a walk around the community, getting supplies at stores for a variety of projects they’re working on (which I think is wonderful). The snake from the cult crept toward the kids and managed to hand off this one before the teacher scared them away. I have no idea if it’s legal to push religious tracts on kids in public like this, but it’s certainly dispicable, and something that I can imagine being met with something a lot more violent than a blog post.

Speaking of sin, we’ve been adding “gambling” (which if we’re being technical, is not actually mentioned in the Bible) because last time we were at Zellers I picked up two new decks of cards (a green “eco” set, and a set with fantasy drawings that Nefarious totally loves) and a couple boxes of plastic poker chips. The way we use them can be added to virtually any turn based game — we’ve only used it on Crazy Eights and Rummy so far — because of it’s simple rules. First, you have to buy into the game, so we put in $5 each at the start of any game. Then, during your turn, you have the option to (1) do nothing, or (2) place a bet. If you choose to place a bet, the other player has a few ways that they can respond, which are (1) match your bet, or (2) give up, in which case you get all the chips ini the pot. If they choose to match your bet, they can also choose to freeze the betting in which case no more bets can be added to the pot by other player (other than the bet that they must match to have the game continue).


They’re nice simple rules that work well. I don’t know if they’re at all like real gambling since I don’t play poker — and I think it’s been a solid fifteen years since Dave and I developed the IVR poker game (which I built and walked away from without playing it, other than slightly less than the minimum required for debugging) — or any other game that’s commonly gambled on.

At the end of the work day — late enough that I couldn’t make any follow-up calls — I got some medical news that was quite upsetting (because I feel mistakes are being made in my treatment, not because I was given 48 hours to live or anything like that). I was literally hiding in another room collecting my emotions in private for fifteen minutes so as not to upset Nefarious — luckily Caitlin was here and Nefarious was wrapped up in sending her mom an email with her recently acquired email account. Anyway, Caitlin made me feel much better by cooking a delicious supper, and Nefarious made me feel much better — although it was done ages ago — when I discovered the graffiti below, written along the edge of her foam mats.


Video Art and Fighting Art

I’m really loving my recent ventures into animation and video as an artistic media… I’ve begun with 2D animation using the primitive — in a good way — freeware software Pencil, but am stoked on teaching myself After Effects, Digital Fusion, and other fun stuff. As I mentioned before, one of my favorite things has been exploring the tools and then using my new knowledge to really appreciate the projects that I see from other people — sort of like how understanding context through art history gives you a deeper appreciation of a walk through an art gallery or museum. Anyway, one of the recent comments here on my blog was from Goda, whose profile linked to his digital portfolio, which included the sweet video below.

Oh, and I watched the UFC 111 pay-per-view last night and wanted to comment on three of the fights. So stop reading if you don’t want UFC spoilers! First, the Shane Carwin versus Frank Mir, in which Shane Carwin continued his frightening trend of never letting his opponent survive the first round. Damn that guy is scarily brutal… what a knockout. There were a few strikes to the back of the head peppered in there, and it went on long enough — I was amazed the ref didn’t stop it sooner — and I was afraid that Mir had suffered really serious damage. I’m pretty sure Carwin could kill me with a single punch. So scary. I suspect that the eventual Carwin versus Brock Lesnar will be one of the biggest Pay Per View financial victories for the UFC corporation, and a very intense battle of gargantuan robots that’s going to remind me more of daikaiju than humans. Yeah, now that I think about it, Lesnar and Carwin are America’s daikaiju.

The other headlining fight, the brilliant and perhaps “best pound-for-pound fighter” Georges St-Pierre versus Dan Hardy really bothered me. GSP completely outclassed and dominated Dan Hardy, and Dan Hardy pulled the same dishonorable conduct as Royce Gracie while being defeated even more solidly by Matt Hughes. Both Dan and Royce were put into solid joint locks, and so as not to have to “give up” even though they knew they had lost — too big of an ego, and too much bragging and shit-talking before the fight to admit they had been bested — but then refused to tap out, forcing their submitter to choose between breaking their arm or letting them go. In each case the winner chose to let them go. For some reason the commentators commended them on how much “heart” they showed in not tapping out — and in the post fight interview Dan Hardy even said something asinine like “I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘tap’” or something like that — but in my opinion it reflects poorly on them as a martial artist. This isn’t a bloodsport. Great lengths have been taken to make the sport safe while still being as “extreme” as possible. Very few people — I hope — get into the sport just because they want to hurt others, and most of the people at the top of the ladder have great respect for the spirit of the art forms involved. Saying “if you want to win, you’re going to have to break my arm” is in terrible taste, and just a shitty way to behave. I haven’t expressed this as well as I want to, sorry, but I hope you know what I’m saying.

At the other end of the submission behavior spectrum was the fight in which Tomasz Drwal lost to Rousimar Palhares by a heel hook less than a minute into the fight. Tomasz tapped very obviously, first on one part of Rousimar’s body, then another, and then the ref tapped as well, and it seemed like his response to the tapping was to apply more and more force to the heel hook, with a look of obsessed angry aggression on his face. It really looked to me like he was going out of his way to do damage and cause pain, which bothers me, as I’ve always liked joint locks because they allow you to control your opponent with a minimum of violence — there is a real beauty, a real elegance to ending combat with this perfect dance. Rousimar, who is a BJJ black belt and experienced enough to know better, spat in the face of this and the fight didn’t end until the ref pretty much pulled him off of Tomasz. I certainly didn’t buy his “I didn’t want to hurt him” apology, and thankfully he was suspended for 90 days, in addition to taking an impressively fast and decisive victory that should have been on his highlight reel and turning it into something shameful.

Anyway, yeah… I’m looking forward to Lesnar versus Carwin.

America’s daikaiju for sure.

Hung at last

Saira and Michael are renovating some more to accommodate for the [upcoming] baby. On account of the dust and serious clutter as they move their life around their cozy but over-stuffed home, and because they’ve been asking me since I got the big studio to take it off their hands, I took back one of my favorite paintings, Fool’s Mate, which had never been hung and was in storage at their place for ages.

I rented a cargo van today to drive up to Brantford with the Sterling windshield and other parts — I think the Sterling is getting into the final stretches of construction and I am very optimistic that it will be on the road this summer — so we took advantage of not having to carry the art by hand the ten blocks or so between our houses. I have my fingers crossed that this does not fall on my head, because I hung it up on my own, without any help, and have strung it between some old metal posts in the wall and the edges of the painting’s wire, using four bungee cords (two per side), which seemed a lot simpler to handle on my own than trying to coordinate a single point of mounting that’s obscured by the painting itself. This way I was able to catch it on one side, and then slowly pull it up as needed without ever feeling like I was going to have a terrible fall or hit a dead end. But yeah, fingers crossed that there’s no head bonking.



As you know if you have slept in my bed and noticed Mr. Piggily-Wiggily, I am no foe to stuffed night-time friends, and as you know if you have any memory for the volumes of the stuff BME put out under my reign, I am no foe to merchandising and an emotional attachment to corporate icons, so it should come as no surprise that when we were in Vancouver we got some discounted-now-that-the-event-is-over Olympic toys. Quatchi is described as “is a young shy sasquatch who comes from the mysterious forests of Canada and loves to explore new places”, and I think I relate to him a bit on account of sharing the friendly bearded appearance among other wide-bodied traits. I have been a big Quatchi fan since I first heard his voice — it’s just too hilarious. Could I have resisted hugging a full-size one? The other little guy is Caitlin’s Mukmuk (a marmot, and their sidekick), and then of course Piggily-Wiggily. Quite a few people have complained that these mascots were too Asian and not Canadian enough — excuse me, have you not seen the Asian-heavy demographics of Vancouver? — and Imma let you finish, but these are some of the best Olympic mascots of all time. Of all time!


Vancouver Aquarium Photos

The last time I was at the Vancouver aquarium was over thirty years ago. I’m not sure if I remember it — I’m pretty sure I don’t. Anyway, Caitlin and I went there on the second day of our trip — the first full day really. There’s a lot of similarity to the amazing Monterrey Aquarium, that I was at a few years ago when I was visiting my friend Barry at his amazing mountain hide-away and have lots of fond memories of. We began by exploring their anemones and beautifully “landscaped” aquariums, with tons of tentacles, and then on to toads and other creatures… I enjoyed all of this immensely, even with how crowded it was. Top marks. At the end of the visit we went outside, where they had dolphins and beluga whales, which I have very mixed feelings about… I don’t like the idea of imprisoning mammals that are intended for a life in the wild open sea in such small prisons, although I do understand there may be rescue-oriented mitigating circumstances (I hope so anyway).