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This Is Not Out of the Blue
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in The Almanac's LiveJournal:

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    Saturday, April 11th, 2015
    11:21 am
    Another Dimension, Another Time and Space
    The übergroup has been reborn in a way I never would've anticipated.

    (For those of you who are unaware of the übergroup, I previously provided a brief rundown of its history. Despite my ruminations at the time, there was only one subsequent bit of activity after that before it went dormant again.)

    At some point in December, I casually dropped a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey in the course of a conversation, and one of the people I was talking to said they'd never seen it before. I mentioned that I owned a copy of the film and invited them to come over and watch it sometime, then thought nothing else of it...

    ...until a very similar conversation happened with someone else a few days later. Since I'd just extended an invitation, I told this other person that they should come over to watch 2001 as well.

    Mentioning the two independent invitations to other people led them to talk about how they're never seen it and express interest in joining us, and it snowballed from there. Every time it came up, more people were into the idea, to the point that several people whose places were arguably more conducive to watching movies with a larger group (such as eurekagray and prizypussypants) offered to host what was quickly turning into a true gathering.

    I ran with that and chose eurekagray's place (it really is oriented well for something like this, as well as being more centrally located than my own), so we had to coordinate our schedules. By then, versions of this plan had been floating around for over two months, but the next date that worked for both of us was April 12...

    ...which only increased the factors in its favour, as if this was all inspired by the Monolith itself. After settling on the date, I realised that not only was April the original release month for 2001 in 1968, April 12 is the precise anniversary of the first human spaceflight aboard Vostok 1 by Yuri Gagarin--an event celebrated every year with "Yuri's Night" parties around the world, including one right here in Winnipeg. How could we not head over to a "celebration of humanity's exploration of space" after watching this movie, of all movies?

    There was no denying this was an übergroup-worthy gathering now (even if I'd wanted to do so), with eurekagray putting together a specific Facebook Event page for it (which is probably how I would've done übergroup outings back in the day if the option had existed...and if I were on Facebook) and what seemed like a custom-made followup just waiting for us. I even went ahead and ordered an appropriate T-shirt for the occasion, which I couldn't imagine doing when it was just having a couple of people over and introducing them to a cinematic classic.

    Anticipation is high amongst the friends who are coming, there's already been talk of planning a similar event for Blade Runner later in the year with other movies of future past to follow--and I know for a fact that I never would've been able to make any of this happen if I'd attempted to do so on purpose.

    Somehow, I just got the band back together again without really trying.

    Current Mood: evolutionary
    Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
    12:38 pm
    One by One, They All Just Fade Away
    Once again, I offer up the traditional challenge I make on this holiday:

    Comment here with a topic, any topic, and I will write a limerick about it for you.

    This tradition dates back quite a while now, with iterations in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 which you can peruse at your leisure.

    Please keep it to one topic per comment--though you can comment more than once, and there's no deadline for submitting a request. As such, feel free to drop back in whenever you're in the mood for a limerick. :)

    If you don't have a LiveJournal account or other means of logging in, please let me know how you got here, and make sure to sign your "Anonymous" comment(s) before submission.

    I know I can be notoriously slow at replying to comments sometimes, but (as with previous editions of this challenge) I'll do my best to be as prompt as possible on this.

    Having said all that, the response rate to this challenge has dropped precipitously--there haven't been any comments since a single request on the 2012 entry--so (barring a sudden turnaround in audience participation) this eighth iteration will be the last. The lack of deadlines and limits still apply, however, so people can continue to comment on any and all past challenges for the foreseeable future and still receive a response from me.

    Who knows what that future will hold? The old entries are staying up, and new ones may all depends on you.

    Current Mood: conclusive
    Thursday, February 12th, 2015
    12:55 pm
    Take a Look, It's in a Book
    One of the lesser-known aspects of the Star Trek media tie-in line is that there is a solid tradition of its writers posting author's annotations for their works online.

    I'm not sure exactly how that got started, but I'd always meant to do the same with "You Are Not in Space," my Star Trek: Enterprise short story in Strange New Worlds 10. I managed to get about half of them completed before various other priorities sidetracked that goal--and other than occasionally promoting recent tie-ins written by people on my friendslist, that corner of the franchise hasn't come up here much in the recent past even though I follow it regularly.

    It seems somewhat fitting, then, that my rewards from the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter arrived just as I was returning to this, bringing reading and writing and LeVar Burton back to mind all at once...

    ...and giving me the extra push to finally finish and post those Annotations for "You Are Not in Space" alongside all the other annotations from others which have come before.

    I know how far down the wormhole of Star Trek geekery this is, but I feel like a few of you might still find that appealing. ;) Sales Rank: #1 419 281 in Books
    Amazon Kindle Sales Rank: #970 429 in Kindle Store Sales Rank: #809 635 in Books "Only 1 left in stock (more on the way)."

    Current Mood: explicative
    Wednesday, December 24th, 2014
    8:56 am
    Band of Brothers, Marching Together
    I've written holiday posts somewhat sporadically in the past...I was really regular about it in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, but then didn't post another one until 2013.

    In the interests of trying to make it more of a regular habit, though, I'll offer up something I've been meaning to feature for a while--a rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" by Winnipeg musician Sean Quigley of Bold as Lions, whose locally-shot video went viral a few years ago:

    I'll be taking in my traditional viewing of It's a Wonderful Life at some point this week, but my schedule is otherwise surprisingly open...

    Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope your own schedule for the season is just the way you like it.

    Current Mood: universal
    Saturday, September 27th, 2014
    1:54 pm
    Before Each Night Is Done, Their Plan Will Be Unfurled
    I was amazed enough back in 2011 that I was able to update my Kindred: The Embraced Timeline, given that the series only had eight episodes in 1996 with no further output since then. I had to dig deep at the time, but at least it was possible.

    Imagine my surprise last year, then, when a fancy new DVD boxset was announced that featured commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and "Daedalus: Last Will and Testament," a newly-shot clip with Jeff Kober reprising his character from the series. Even so, it took me a while to buy the set and longer still to sit down properly with everything it had to offer--it wasn't until the recent end of True Blood brought vampiric series to mind again that I was finally inspired to do so.

    Considering how long ago the show was on (and how short-lived it was), it's a great and unexpected pleasure to get just a little more of a series that really worked for me through the new (or at least new to me) material. Not all of it works, of course--the Extended Pilot is mostly extended with a goofy subplot about enrolling Sasha (Brigid Walsh) in a Catholic school, which bears no relation to anything that happens later and was dropped for good reason--but there was quite a bit of information in the new clip and the commentaries about the mythology of that world and where the series was going.

    With all of this additional material now in hand, then, I went back to that timeline (as opposed to working on any of the potential fictional timelines I talked about creating earlier this year or providing a much-needed update to The History of Things That Never Were itself) and gave it a thorough expansion and revision. Besides going over everything that was already there and adding more detail using online resources which weren't available back in the day, I was able to make a proper section for the period after the series and leading up to "Daedalus: Last Will and Testament," which is set in 2013.

    Other than series creator John Leekley, I'm not sure how many people will end up reading or caring about the results of my work (okay, reddheart will probably enjoy it), but it felt great to dive back into this (admittedly niche) fandom for a while, even if I'm just making my own fun. (Having said that, some of the special features on the DVD set specifically mentioned the continued existence of Kindred: The Embraced fansites, so a commentary or interview shout-out would've been nice.)

    Now, I know what some of you are going to say: "This timeline was originally created in 1997, and it looks the part." You're right about that, and I could hypothetically go back and make the whole thing look closer to a "modern" website, but I have no plans to do so. Despite the potential GeoCities vibe, I'm rather fond of this design aesthetic--not only did I base it on the look of the show's official website at the time, but it harkens back to an era when fansites were their own thing without the standardised look of Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, and the like. (Even the show's current official online presence is subject to this.) In general, I also don't think my coding skills or personal inclinations are that in tune with the nature of most websites today (an obsession with maintaining interactivity even when doing so doesn't add any value, for instance).

    There is actually even more I could still add to the Kindred: The Embraced Timeline. I'm sure a complete rewatch would yield a fair amount of further information to incorporate--there are already two changes I've made in this revision based on onscreen dates which only became visible at the latest DVD set's resolution--so it's only a matter of time before I revisit this series once again.

    Current Mood: Ventrue
    Monday, March 17th, 2014
    11:17 am
    You'll Have Some Fun Now with Me and All the Gang
    Longtime readers here will already be familiar with the traditional challenge I always make on this holiday:

    Comment here with a topic, any topic, and I will write a limerick about it for you.

    Whether or not you're familiar with this, you can look at the various examples from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 for amusement and inspiration.

    Please keep it to one topic per comment--though you can comment more than once, and there's no deadline for submitting a request. As such, feel free to drop back in whenever you're in the mood for a limerick. :)

    If you don't have a LiveJournal account or other means of logging in, please let me know how you got here, and make sure to sign your "Anonymous" comment(s) before submission.

    I know I can be notoriously slow at replying to comments sometimes, but (as with previous editions of this challenge) I'll do my best to be as prompt as possible on this.

    With some luck (of the Irish or otherwise), I look forward to seeing your creative responses.

    Current Mood: hopeful
    Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
    1:40 pm
    There's a Path You Take and a Path Not Taken
    The most popular request amongst my list of potential posts from way back in January of last year was one about various fictional timelines I've thought of creating and putting online at The History of Things That Never Were (increasingly out-of-date though it is) to join such perennial favourites as my Firefly Timeline, my Kindred: The Embraced Timeline, and my Sex and the City Timeline.

    When I first sat down to make this post a reality, I knew I'd taken notes on timelines here and there, but not enough to make a list of them a daunting task. Little did I realise there were already thirty fictional timelines I'd made at least some progress on--which is why it's taken until the new year for this post to appear.

    For each timeline, I've offered up some thoughts on why I haven't gone further with it so far, how much material makes up its continuity, and what it would take to put all that together.

    The PotentialsCollapse )

    Needless to say, there are a lot of options I could pursue further, though the motivation has been lacking. Ideally, I'd like to create at least one new fictional timeline this year, but the likelihood of items on this wish list becoming a reality depends on how much time I have, how much interest people express in seeing them, and whether any of these timelines turn up elsewhere.

    If you're really interested in seeing one or more of these fictional timelines come to fruition--or you know of someone else who has already created them--please let me know in the comments below, especially if you arrived here after searching online for something specific. I've tried to gauge the level of public interest in each chronology, but discovering more eager anticipation out there than I expected might be just the incentive I need.

    Current Mood: thoughtful
    Tuesday, December 24th, 2013
    11:02 pm
    The Gallant Leader of Our Band
    I haven't posted a holiday message here since I got rather sentimental in 2010, but I thought I would let the First Doctor (or at least the version of him recreated for An Adventure in Space and Time) send out his greetings much as William Hartnell did back on Christmas Day in 1965:

    I know I've gone for the Time Lord option before, but the timing of this seemed rather appropriate, especially since I've offered both existential and lighthearted options in the past.

    Incidentally, Happy Holidays to all of you at home!

    Current Mood: reconstructive
    Friday, May 10th, 2013
    1:47 pm
    Light Up the Sky Like a Flame
    The most commonly reported statistic on Star Trek tie-in fiction is that its readership is generally about 1-2% of the larger audience for the franchise as a whole.

    In the hope that a rising tide raises all boats, and a larger audience for Into Darkness equals a larger audience for the tie-ins, let's move some paper and list the most recent Star Trek outings by the people on my friendslist, much as I did when the last movie came out in 2009.

    To prevent redundancy, I'm only listing those people who've published something in the four years since then:

    Keith R.A. DeCandido (kradical) most recently contributed the novella "The Unhappy Ones" in Seven Deadly Sins, an anthology edited by Margaret Clark in which seven prominent species from the Star Trek universe are each associated with a mortal sin. (Keith's story features the Klingons under "Wrath.")

    David Mack (infinitydog) wrote another epic trilogy, Cold Equations (consisting of The Persistence of Memory, Silent Weapons, and The Body Electric), which deals with artificial intelligence in the Star Trek universe. He also wrote Rise Like Lions, wrapping up the ongoing Mirror Universe storyline in print; and Storming Heaven, wrapping up the Star Trek: Vanguard series he co-created with Marco Palmieri, which occurs concurrently with The Original Series.

    Steve Mollmann (steve_mollmann), writing with Michael Schuster (michaelschuster), contributed The Tears of Eridanus, one of three novels included in Shattered Light, a Myriad Universes collection which provides tales of alternate Star Trek timelines; as well as A Choice of Catastrophes, a novel set during the five-year mission depicted in The Original Series.

    Scott Pearson (scottpearson) most recently contributed Honor in the Night, one of the other novels included in Shattered Light.

    Dayton Ward (daytonward) co-wrote "The First Peer," one of the other novellas in Seven Deadly Sins (featuring the Romulans under "Pride"), with Kevin Dilmore. On his own, he also wrote That Which Divides, another novel set during the five-year mission; and In Tempest's Wake, an eBook in the Vanguard series. His next Star Trek novel will be From History's Shadow, which combines Cold War conspiracies with visits to the 20th century by various Star Trek characters over the years.

    ...and of course, my last appearance was "You Are Not in Space" in Strange New Worlds 10.

    All of the titles I just listed are also available in paperless formats such as Amazon Kindle, so let's move some electrons as well.

    With a new movie coming out in just a week, though, it's sad to note how much shorter this list is than the last one. :/ Sales Rank: #1 115 637 in Books
    Amazon Kindle Sales Rank: #150 993 in Kindle Store Sales Rank: #448 946 in Books "Only 1 left in stock (more on the way)."

    Current Mood: promotional
    Sunday, March 17th, 2013
    11:21 pm
    Everyone Up, Everyone In, Time for the Fun to Begin
    Completely ignoring any of the ideas or suggestions for posts mentioned in my previous entry, I am instead returning to one of the long-standing traditions of this blog...

    As seen in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, I will once again offer up a challenge for anyone reading this:

    Comment here with a topic, any topic, and I will write a limerick about it for you.

    Please keep it to one topic per comment--though you can comment more than once, and there's no deadline for submitting a request. As such, feel free to drop back in whenever you're in the mood for a limerick. :)

    If you don't have a LiveJournal account or other means of logging in, please let me know how you got here, and make sure to sign your "Anonymous" comment(s) before submission.

    I know I can be notoriously slow at replying to comments sometimes, but (as with previous editions of this challenge) I'll do my best to be as prompt as possible on this.

    There was almost no response to the challenge last year, so I seem to be experiencing a case of diminishing returns. :/ The response to this year's edition will play a big role in determining whether I continue this challenge in the future.

    Current Mood: contemplative
    Saturday, January 5th, 2013
    4:32 pm
    In the Not-Too-Distant Future: Next Sunday AD
    As anyone checking in here can tell, I haven't exactly been the world's most prolific blogger, with a whopping two posts in all of 2012.

    There are a number of reasons for that, but a big part of it has been a lack of motivation and a growing cynicism about posting. In the past, I've put a lot of effort into talking about various aspects of my life, only to find that people would rather see me talk about American politics, fan fiction, or limericks than anything remotely personal.

    That's perfectly valid, of course, but I'd like to find out for certain what people want to see me write about here. (If nothing else, I need to propose some topics before this turns into nothing but a series of con reports, reflecting the pattern in my more recent entries.) To that end, I'm going to throw out a bunch of ideas I've had, roughly in order from least to most personal, and invite you to tell me what you'd prefer:

    The IdeasCollapse )

    I'll post on whichever of these topics people comment in favour of seeing, in order of popular demand...

    Hopefully, that means I'll have a lot to write about soon.

    Current Mood: productive
    Saturday, October 6th, 2012
    3:02 pm
    Heroes and Villains, The Bad and The Good
    Oh, Edgar...I am far more than just another Time Lord.
    Seventh Doctor, You Were My Doctor: Me and Sylvester McCoy, Dragon*Con 2012

    I did not have a great time at Dragon*Con this year.

    It's taken me over a month to post this because I felt almost guilty saying that, as if it would make me seem...ungrateful? Most people don't get the chance to go to a con of that size, and a part of me feels like I "should" have gotten something more out of it, but it was a far more frustrating experience than my memories of attending that con for the first time in 2006.

    Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that any complaints I have aren't of the "those aren't real fans" variety. I know that's been an issue in fandom lately, but I don't doubt that everyone attending Dragon*Con this year had a sincere interest in one or more of the things going on there.

    There were just too many of those people.

    Enter the Dragon*ConCollapse )

    What am I looking for from a con, then?

    I'm not sure I know how to answer that question, and this experience has made me ambivalent about my place in fandom. Everything I wrote above sounds an awful lot like the disappointment I felt when I went to ConVergence in 2010, but I clearly continue to be motivated to travel to large conventions elsewhere (despite the growth of Winnipeg's Central Canada Comic Con). I might feel like I've "outgrown" local cons, but going further afield is expensive when I have to take planes and not trains or automobiles, and it hardly seems worth it if I'm going to keep having a "meh" reaction to those trips.

    I'm starting to think I might get a more positive social experience by going in a group, as Caren and so many others do, but convincing a group of locals to head for a big convention seems like a tall order. (Could I even find enough people around here who have both the motivation and resources to get something out of it themselves?)

    For those of you who regularly attend larger cons (especially if you've gone to Dragon*Con at least twice), have you noticed a similar shift towards the impersonal over time? Do you care? What do you get out of attending a con, particularly a large one, in this day and age?

    Current Mood: aimless
    Saturday, March 17th, 2012
    9:29 am
    The Playtime Silliness Never Ends
    Keeping up the proud tradition started in 2008 and continued in 2009, 2010, and 2011, I would once again like to offer up a challenge in honour of the holiday for anyone reading this:

    Comment here with a topic, any topic, and I will write a limerick about it for you.

    Please keep it to one topic per comment--though you can comment more than once, and there's no deadline for submitting a request. As such, feel free to drop back in whenever you're in the mood for a limerick. :)

    If you don't have a LiveJournal account or other means of logging in, please let me know how you got here, and make sure to sign your "Anonymous" comment(s) before submission.

    I know I can be notoriously slow at replying to comments sometimes (and it's not as if I've been posting a lot lately :/), but as with previous editions of this challenge, I'll do my best to be as prompt as possible on this.

    Current Mood: unproductive
    Friday, October 7th, 2011
    12:39 pm
    Tell Me Why I Love You Like I Do
    This has been an election-rich year in Canada.

    Besides the federal election, whose results were exactly the opposite of what I'd hoped, there were also provincial elections here in Manitoba as well as in neighbouring Ontario this week, with more provincial elections in most of Canada throughout the year.

    Unlike that federal election, though, where I expected more of the same and instead got the dreaded Conservative majority, the Manitoba election was almost entirely pointless, with the New Democrats getting another majority government and the seat totals remaining essentially identical. The NDP did pick up a vacant seat (going from 36 to 37), but the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals have the same seat totals they had going into this race (19 and a lonely 1 for the party leader, respectively).

    On a more personal note, I'm also acquainted with two candidates who failed to unseat the incumbents in their ridings. My friend Anlina Sheng was a first-time candidate for the Green Party, while I went to high school with Paul Hesse, who's been involved in the provincial political scene for a while and has even been talked about as a potential future leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

    What confuses me most about the way Canadians seem to vote is how much of a difference there is between various levels of government--Manitoba itself is largely Conservative at the federal level, but largely New Democrat at the provincial level (albeit with a glaring urban-rural split on the electoral map). My own riding of Fort Garry-Riverview (The Fighting Riverview!) is a microcosm of this, in which there was a very safe win for the NDP MLA in this election but a slim victory for the Conservatives in the equivalent federal riding (where the NDP candidate finished a distant third).

    The CBC has an editorial today arguing that this happens because of "the time-honoured Canadian practice of hedging our political bets," but it still seems strange to me that the same voters would go for the mainstream right-wing party and the mainstream left-wing party in the same year.

    Does this happen in the United States? Do any of the Americans reading this have similar examples in their own districts, with (for example) a Democrat in the State Legislature but a Republican in the House of Representatives?

    Current Mood: confused
    Sunday, September 11th, 2011
    11:21 pm
    Recordatio Postremum
    If you're interested in reading my recollections of where I was and what I did on 9/11, written on its five-year anniversary, I encourage you to do so--and to comment on that entry even now if you wish.

    People never seemed to rush to do so, even though I posted followups in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. For whatever reason(s), I just never got much of a conversation going in that regard.

    Back in 2006, I asked a number of questions, including:
    What do you hope the world will be like on September 11, 2011? Is that the same as what you expect the world will be like then? If not, what are the differences?
    Disturbingly enough, there are a number of good things I feel the world wouldn't have had in the five years since I wrote that without the original impetus of 9/11 happening. I'm not sure there would've been an Arab Spring without it, for example, and I'm very sure there wouldn't be a President Obama without it. The historical forces at work which brought about those events started from that source, just as it caused many negative events (unnecessary wars, the erosion of civil rights) to occur.

    Does that mean that 9/11 was, in some ways, "worth it?" I'm very reluctant to say that, as I still feel that the negatives outweigh the positives.

    What I am also sure of, on a personal level, is that this is the last anniversary I'll spend revisiting the source itself on this blog. I've arrived at the date envisioned when I wrote that original entry, and although I know I'll be just as morbid and pensive about this date and these issues for many years to come--and the issues, at least, will definitely come up from time to time--the moment has come to bring a measure of closure to this particular thread.

    The dialogue, of course, can always be continued or reopened. That part is up to you.
    Friday, September 9th, 2011
    2:09 pm
    Come and Dance on Our Floor
    Those of you who've known me for a while will already be aware that I occasionally do a bit of film work, though I don't talk about it that much. Most of what gets filmed in Winnipeg is made for television or direct-to-video, so (even though I've plugged some things I've worked on in the past) I tend to think of it now as something I quietly do on the side.

    For once, though, I got onto the set of a film intended for theatrical release when I worked for two days last year on Faces in the Crowd, starring Milla Jovovich, Julian McMahon, and Michael Shanks. I hadn't mentioned anything before now because I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to come out, but io9 (a site which I've admittedly complained about before) let me know in its snarky way that the trailer is out for the movie, so the general public is aware of it anyway.

    If you don't want to go to the article, just watch the trailer right here:

    I worked on a bunch of scenes set in a nightclub in a generic (presumably destined to be unnamed) American city. You can see clips of those scenes starting at around 1:35 in the trailer, though I wasn't able to spot myself. Those two days were spent dancing, running in terror, getting my photo taken for visual effects shots, and trying desperately not to make "Leeloo Dallas Multipass!" references around the film's star. To her credit, however, she seemed friendly and had a sense of humour about herself, at one point making (what I thought was) a hilarious Resident Evil joke when director Julien Magnat told her she needed to be "angrier" during a scene rehearsal.

    Faces in the Crowd will be out in October, and (even though the premise is...well, interesting is a diplomatic word for it) I'm sure I'll end up in a cinema seat on opening weekend, doing my best to once again support the local film industry.

    Current Mood: energetic
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    2:08 pm
    I'm Telling You Just How I Feel
    Vulcans can go without sleep for days, but Tuvok never looked this exhausted. It turns out the Emergency Medical Hologram looked more stylish out of uniform.
    Lost in the Delta Quadrant, Found in Winnipeg:
    Tim Russ, Robert Picardo, and Me, Winnipeg Comic and Toy Expo 2011

    Back in March, I attended the very, very small Winnipeg Comic and Toy Expo. For a mere five dollars, I thought it provided rather good value, with both Tim Russ and Robert Picardo in attendance. (Where else are you going to see two opening-credits Star Trek castmembers at that price?) I considered writing it up at the time because it was the first fannish event I'd attended since my disappointing time at last year's Central Canada Comic Con, which was run by the same people.

    Why am I talking about it now, then? Well, a few reasons.

    The last time I brought up cons in general and local cons in particular, I mentioned that Central Canada Comic Con had been bought by Wizard World, and I had concerns about how that would change the con. I didn't give it too much thought after that until I started to hear rumblings in June that something was amiss. Before long, Bleeding Cool (once again) broke the official news that Wizard World had dropped out of the con, leaving things up in the air. Their corporate listing is gone and the con's old website is back with the previous organisers in place and quite a few Star Trek guests announced for this year, but without more information on what happened with Wizard World and why, the whole thing comes across as rather sketchy.

    That impression makes me rather sad, because I enjoyed the expo overall. I was disappointed at the lack of Star Trek merchandise available, since you'd think dealers would be on top of this With two bigger actors from the franchise as guests--where were the novels or graphic novels featuring Voyager characters (or at least other stuff which has come out relatively recently), let alone the older stuff? Nevertheless, the brief actor encounters were fun, even if I mostly talked to the (exhausted-looking) Russ about his recurring role as Principal Franklin on iCarly and to Picardo about his local work on the upcoming Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (the coincidental reason he was in Winnipeg in the first place), where he described his acting in the role of the main villain as "so over-the-top, you can see it on Google Maps." (He seemed to feel similarly about his performing experience on the epic Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, which also came up briefly.) Picardo also complimented me on my "classic" name, both reminding me of LeVar Burton's comments about given names when he was here and amusing me as it came from someone who famously played a character without any name at all, and I was impressed by how complete his photo selection was, including not just his recent roles but earlier work from The Howling to Legend.

    At any rate, all of this would be idle reminiscing if my original plan for the upcoming long weekend were still in place. After deliberating the options for con-related travel in 2011, I'd decided I was returning to Dragon*Con this year after five years away. I bought my membership in July, before the price went up, and I was getting ready to book my flight when I discovered unexpectedly that my schedule wouldn't allow me to take time off to go to Atlanta...which I learned at the beginning of this month, right on the very eve of the deadline for transferring one's (non-refundable) membership. Not only will I have to wait a while before taking a (far less fannish) trip to Georgia, I'm now simply out the hundred dollars I've already spent and missing the con that money is helping to fund in the process. :/

    (If someone would like to explain to me why a large event like Dragon*Con is perfectly set up to take my payment online and willing to believe in my identity in that format, but insists on a printed form directly signed by two parties in order to transfer a membership--along with a thirty-day deadline that ignores the concept of a last-minute cancellation where a transfer would be most useful--I'm all ears.)

    I'm trying to make the most of the situation. Although I'm sad about the guests and programming I'll be missing out on, not to mention the chance to see people like carencey77 (and assorted media tie-in writers of my acquaintance) again, I've taken solace in the fact that Fate is bringing William Shatner to me. I don't know what's going to happen with local fandom shindigs, since I've grown sceptical of Central Canada Comic Con's ability to live up to its promises by October, but I'm trying not to get too bitter about how things have panned out. Instead, I'm looking to the future...isn't that what genre fans do best?

    Current Mood: apprehensive
    Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
    2:32 pm
    Feeling the Pain as Innocence Dies
    As I write this, the body of the Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition in Canada, is lying in state in the House of Commons in Ottawa, two days after dying in the early hours of Monday morning. Layton is receiving this honour, along with a state funeral this Saturday, even though it is usually only accorded to the very highest levels of Canadian government.

    I could go on about the political legacy of Jack Layton, his effect on the New Democratic Party, and how the NDP will fare without him, but (as you can see) much more comprehensive guides can be found elsewhere. (For those of you not in Canada, the article on his passing in The New York Times does a good job of providing historical and political context.) The Winnipeg perspective has also been covered already, with queensugar providing her own personal reaction followed by a roundup of reactions from other local bloggers.

    Tributes are pouring in from all sides, and others have been collecting links to those as well. Journalists have offered accounts of how they learned the news, and comedians have compiled montages of Layton showing a sense of humour amidst the political battlefield.

    I've mentioned before in my posts about the Canadian political scene that my general sentiment already lies along the Liberal-NDP spectrum, but a lot of the historic success the NDP experienced in this year's federal election had to do with Jack Layton personally. If you ever had any doubts that the cult of personality plays a big role in political success, look at the most memorable NDP ad of the last election and how much it centres around Layton, keeping in mind that Canadians don't vote for the head of government directly (unlike American presidential elections). I don't think it's an exaggeration to say the New Democratic Party is the Official Opposition now because Jack Layton was charismatic and former Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff was not.

    Even when I didn't vote for his party, I still admired Jack Layton as a human being, whether he was writing a book about homelessness in Canada or using the word "bling" in the federal leaders' debate. Beyond any political affiliation, I think it would be good to keep in mind the words with which he closed his last letter to Canadians:
    My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we'll change the world.
    There's a provincial election in Manitoba this autumn, and I have yet to be properly enumerated for that. If anything could serve as a reminder that the time for political engagement is sooner rather than later, this is it.

    Current Mood: mournful
    Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
    12:34 pm
    Wake Up the Members of My Nation
    What can I say? I was wrong.

    Not in a good way, of course.

    The Canadian federal election came and went last week, but I've been reluctant to write the post-game wrap-up because the results were so disheartening. People reading this in the United States and elsewhere can start with CNN's article about the election results, which has some decent background information on the Canadian political scene.

    Here is the parliamentary seat count, before and after:

    Conservative Party = 143/167
    Liberal Party = 77/34
    Bloc Québécois = 47/4
    New Democratic Party = 36/102
    Green Party = 0/1
    Independent = 2/0

    After confidently proclaiming in my last entry that "I expect everything to be more or less the same in Ottawa in a few weeks, after the votes have been counted," you can see from those results that there has been quite the change, and the status quo has definitely shifted--in the bad direction I feared in that same entry.

    With a Conservative Majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper can do pretty much anything he wants, which doesn't bode well for the fates of things like government funding or public-sector employment. (Defunding Planned Parenthood? Yeah, our Conservatives plan to do that, too.) This takes away a lot of the joy over left-wing developments like the NDP surging to become the Official Opposition for the first time or the Green Party electing a Member of Parliament, because anyone who isn't part of a majority government basically gets to sit there and complain about what's happening for the next four years without any teeth to fight it.

    There has been a lot of talk about the number of new MP's elected this time around, even though they get trained like all other freshman politicians. In particular, a lot of the attention on rookie Ruth Ellen Brosseau seems both sexist and insulting to the voters in her riding, who had the chance to look at her qualifications and decide if they wanted her to represent them--which they did.

    This is the classic paradox of voter sentiment in a nutshell: People complain over and over about "establishment politicians" and how much of a "need for change" there is from "politics as usual"...and then go on to complain over and over about the lack of experience in anyone new who actually does get elected to a position. You know, everyone was a new politician once--if you don't want dynastic legacies to dominate political discourse, don't react negatively when the narrative actually veers away from that.

    Although voter turnout was somewhat higher than the historic low of the last election, it was still an unimpressive 61.4%, and I haven't been able to find any official figures on the youth turnout. I'd like to think it was higher than in the past, but I suspect it wasn't.

    As for some of my other predictions:

    The incumbent in my riding was defeated by the Conservative candidate who kept robocalling my place, much to my surprise and chagrin.

    Fears of a left-wing political coalition were, naturally, unfounded--not that it matters in this new landscape, anyway. There is now some talk of a Liberal-NDP merger (Liberal Democrats?), but I'm actually not in favour of that.

    Aboriginal issues in general were, indeed, all but ignored--and I don't expect them to suddenly jump to the forefront with this government in place.

    The dominant feeling in my mind now when it comes to Canada's future is dread, with a good mix of disappointment in the Canadian electorate who've reacted to everything Stephen Harper has done by giving him more and more power with each passing election. I can only hope that four years of virtually no checks and balances will snap them out of it.

    Current Mood: disappointed
    Thursday, April 14th, 2011
    12:57 pm
    Show Me That Smile Again
    I hadn't brought it up here until now, but a federal election was called in Canada a couple of weeks ago, to be held on May 2. (If nothing else, Americans reading this may have caught Stephen Colbert making the announcement.)

    You can follow the news on it more closely if you'd like (there are plenty of social media options for this, too), but let's start with the basics. This was the parliamentary seat count as of the writ being dropped:

    Conservative Party of Canada = 143
    Liberal Party of Canada = 77
    Bloc Québécois = 47
    New Democratic Party = 36
    Independent = 2
    Vacant = 3

    There is some disagreement on why there's an election now, but the proximate cause was a committee finding that the government itself was in contempt of Parliament, which has never happened before in Canadian history. As a result, the Opposition voted that they no longer had confidence in said government, leading to its automatic fall.

    If you're wondering why it's taken me this long to bring it up (besides general offline distractions), it's because I've had a hard time mustering up much enthusiasm for this election, the way I did for our last election in 2008. At the time, the simultaneous elections happening here and in the United States left me hopeful that a wave of progressive liberalism was sweeping through North America, changing the whole political landscape for the better...and then the Conservative Party actually gained seats instead.

    Most polls were already predicting yet another minority government, but I thought I might feel more optimism for change after taking in both the English debate and the French debate (which, just in case you forgot this was Canada, got rescheduled so as not to conflict with the NHL playoffs) between the party leaders--or the ones whose parties already had seats in Parliament, at any rate. Other than apparently discovering a "Francophone Joe the Plumber," however, this all seems like a very familiar story.

    Once again, my riding of Winnipeg South Centre (The Fighting South Centre!) seems like a very safe seat for its Liberal incumbent.

    Once again, there is a lot of fearmongering about the possibility of a left-wing political coalition, even though coalition governments are pretty common around the world and (as I pointed out the last time this came up) every party in the House of Commons has been involved in such talk at some point in the past ten years.

    Once again, the Conservatives want to reassure everyone that tax cuts (especially corporate tax cuts) are the best way to grow the economy, even though that is demonstrably untrue.

    Once again, Aboriginal issues in general are all but ignored.

    Once again, political candidates are making ignorant comments which are often condescending and play on international stereotypes in a hot tub. (Before anyone gets on a high horse about this, I'd remind them that the Tories don't have a monopoly on disturbing comments, as candidates for the Greens and the Liberals have already proven.) Once again, I doubt this will actually make a difference.

    Unfortunately, I expect everything to be more or less the same in Ottawa in a few weeks, after the votes have been counted. I'd like things to change for the better (from my perspective, a government somewhere along the Liberal-NDP spectrum), but fear they could change for the worse (from my perspective, a Conservative majority government). I'll still be following along, of course, but I don't see the status quo shifting at any point in the near future.

    Current Mood: apathetic
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