What's the Word?

I should mention that Word on the Street was a big success. Though rain threatened throughout the day, the Toronto scene was hopping. One of the veteran attendees told me there was something like twice as many people this year. Certainly The New Quarterly booth did well. We sold six subscriptions and a load of back issues.

I also met up with a number of people who recognized me through this blog. Andrew Spicer dropped by to say hello, as did Cameron Dixon and Sean Learner of the TTC Efficiency Guide. And also a young fellow who I recognized through DWIN, whose name I unfortunately forgot. My sincere apologies, but it has always been the case that I’m good at faces and terrible at names. If you’re reading this, feel free to stop by in the comments and take a bow.

I also chatted briefly with Michael Enright, who is a cool individual, and sort-of remembered me from when he visited St. Jeromes’ two years ago.

At around 1:30, I stepped over to the kids’ tent and heard Jeff Szpirglas read. Jeff awed me a while back by crediting me as one of the influences that got him into his career in writing. He was the first person to submit a story to my Trenchcoat series of fan fiction magazines, when I opened things up to other writers. He was fifteen years old at the time (1992) and exuberant, and though his story showed was clearly the work of a young writer, the exuberance paid off, and we were able to play off of it with the inclusion of pulp-comic themed artwork.

He went on to submit to Myth Makers, with a wacky style that was fun to read, and which transferred well to his later work. He’s worked in Canadian television, and has also published two non-fiction books with Maple Tree Press, introducing wacky science and history to kids. He shared some of that during his reading, and had the audience enthralled. He’s a natural, he is.

I didn’t get a chance to chat with Jeff beyond a quick hello, but if he’s reading this, I am quite proud of him.

Eyebrows Up, Again!!

Grandinite has been picking up a lot of good weird weather stories, lately. Now he points me to this weather radar mystery of five blots of superheated air appearing mysteriously to the west of Rita just before the storm’s unexpectedly early turn to the north (which, incidentally, spared Houston a direct hit). A few sites have picked this up, and it seems to be more than just a radar glitch. In the absense of official word, however, the theories are running fast and furious:

kent, whatever those 5 spots are, they definitely are not an artifact and they are the cause of rita turning north a few miles ahead of schedule. they seem to be directed from corpus christi. my presumption is that they are ships. we have high powered microwave weapons , ship mounted, in the 90-110 GHZ range which overlaps the radar freq. used in the animation. i worked on the first ones in 1983. contract was NSG through DOD. they heat a thin surface layer of any watery target (like raindrops-though that wasnt the original intent) they are aiming UP toward top of rita. you found a definite “something”

It makes for interesting reading, at least.

When Conceptual Art Attacks!

This comes from Boing Boing and is proof that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

So, there’s a piece of conceptual art floating around Manhatten. Called “Floating Island”, it’s supposed to represent a little part of Central Park. Why? I don’t know. It’s art!

Well, another group of artists decided that what they needed to do was board this floating island and install a replica of Christo’s “the Gates” on “the Floating Island”. I’ll let the New York Times supply the rest:

Approaching the Rachel Marie on its starboard side was a small motorboat, affixed to which was a replica of one of the saffron-colored gates created by Christo and Jeanne-Claude that dotted Central Park last winter. Captain Henry remembered “The Gates” and, putting two and two together, he worried that maybe the man in the motorboat was planning on boarding his little version of Central Park and planting a gate somewhere among the trees.

“He was coming up on me a couple of times,” recalled Captain Henry, the owner of Island Towing and Salvage in Staten Island and a plain-spoken 40-year veteran of the harbor. “I was trying to wave him off.”

He added, sternly: “When I saw the kind of rig he was running, I didn’t want him getting no closer. Joker like that? In a motorboat? I don’t need that.”

As all this was happening, a group of graphic designers in a studio in the Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn, who had been monitoring the Smithson project’s daily passing from their office window, caught sight of the little floating gate chasing the little floating park.

What’s even funnier is how both combating conceptual artists were so full of themselves. “Floating Island” was upset that others would try to desecrate it with art of their own, and “The Gates” was upset because people were laughing at the whole thing.

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