hey guys,
my LJ has been receiving a bunch of spam lately. anyone else experiencing this?
Are the LJ gods mad at me for not posting in a couple years?
miss you,

noisebridge plug

if you want to hear me blab about the mysterious life of antarcticans, come to the five minutes of fame talk at noisebridge tomorrow (thurs june 18) at 8pm. it's kind of like a five year summary done in five minutes with pictures that do not involve penguins.

there will be 9 other speakers, and the whole thing last an hour. topics are usually about hacking, computery jiggery-pokery, and assorted geekery. the event is free, but that does not mean you should not give them money.

ps - all my online antarctica photos can be found here.


"ivan the terra bus" - the music video

sharona came up to me shortly before i redeployed in 2007, and told me how she couldn't get "ivan the terra bus," a song bill and i wrote about a 54 passenger bus at mcmurdo, out of her head for months. the band, condition fun, was the silly brainchild of bill (guitar)and i (tuba), and assorted musicians on station who played weird instruments (accordion, banjo, trombone, bass). we mostly wrote kids' songs about the weird vehicles we drive. they're all recorded somewhere. on my last day in antarctica, sharona and holly filmed bill and i playing the song in the bandroom and hanging off ivan. i totally forgot about it.

antarctica is home to a few film festivals. the south pole international film festival (SPIFF) is a highlight of the season. mcmurdo hosts one in the summer, and one in the winter (see youtube: antzarctica).  all footage must be filmed and edited in antarctica. i have copies of most of them if you ever want to come over my house and watch them on a rainy sunday. in 2005, my friend brien and i entered a quick flick about a lonely bored pinstetter in the world's southernmost bowling alley. as it turns out, sharona and holly edited their footage of "ivan" and submitted it to this year's festival in mcm which i believe was last week. here it is, it's totally cute. thanks, guys! 

(ps, i think i had a cold, so bear with the stuffy nose.)


yesterday i had plans to play lego star wars with b, dave,  and my very pregnant friend simone, that is, of course, unless she was busy giving birth.

she did.

emma danger had a twitter account since she was a fetus.

emma danger, 3.4kg, has a posse.

emma danger, meet the world. you will be exposed to many robots. you will painfully embarrassed in junior high. you are already a dork.  you will deserve your middle name.

auntie sandwich



lj is in for it.

lj won't let me properly edit a glitch in my last entry. fuck it. i'm done.

it's time to leave.


it's not about the trip

i was going to post about my wonderful trip back east.

about how our redeye flight to new york was delayed 4 hours while two feet of snow dumped on the northeast. when we arrived in the morning/midday, central park was coated in pretty. we contemplated stealing sleds from children.

about how we played endless hours of guitar hero "just to keep awake so we could adjust to the time zone and avoid jetlag." guitar hero, by the way, makes you hallucinate if there are any vertically stripey tapestries nearby.

i was going to mention about how my spry, 71 year old mom kicked all our asses at bowling, and how my brother turned around and kicked her ass at laser tag.

or about how my first morning in connecticut the weather was one degree. and how EVERYONE everyone everyone perfumes their homes, cars, and shops with fucking yankee candle. (i am allergic to perfume. wanna kill me? spray it on. )

about how my brother got a wii fit for christmas and it really is like the best thing ever and how it tells everyone they're fat. and that christmas was actually pretty enjoyable with the family and they think avulsionist  is swell.

and that i skied at mt southington for the first time since sophmore year of high school. it was avulsionist 's first time on skis and he only fell down like 10 times. which is really good.

i was going to tell stories of mystic, connecticut, and the amazing frigging color changing octopus, and hanging out with jenna, my friend's 3-year-old that calls me sandwich penguinhands. and about how i went to my performing arts academy high school reunion and it was really awesome.

and duckpin bowling. it's more than just small balls, squatty pins, and cheap hot dogs. and how i even haggled a free duckpin out of the manager to see if it would fit in the mcmurdo pinset machine. cause if i go back south someday, ahem, perhaps i could bring duckpin bowling with me.

and i was going to say something about a little sidetrip we took to a little town called sandwich, massachusetts.

then, there was that adventure back in new york that i was going to tell a story about, on new years eve, how we were looking for something to do, and braved the times square madness, then fled because it was 12 degrees crowded and stupid, and how instead we went to an 1890's bar-slash-former speakeasy hole in the wall called bill's gay nineties. and then how we went to an amazing amazing amanda fucking palmer show at the bowery ballroom at 2am which was over at 6am and found b and i stumbling around the lower east side trying to work out how to get back tot he apartment and convince afp that she really really wants to be friends with us.

and about how we did nothing on new year's day except eat at my favorite restaurant in the whole world.

i was going to mention about how we went to the guggenheim and slid through the curly floors, and later met up with old friends i haven't seen in a decade, and also the hilarious comedy theater we caught at upright citizen's brigade ("she was gonna s my d!")

and about how coney island is a beautiful tragedy, and how we wandered around the bitter cold for hours with the beach on our right, picturing its glamour of 80 years ago.

and about how i was only 17 clouds away from getting 2 million points on kitten jump, which i thought was pretty unheard of. an how this trip back east with b was fan-farging-tastic, and brings some nostalgia and love for that part of the country.

but this blog post is not about that. no, no, i decided to write about something else entirely.

i fell asleep on the couch yesterday feeling awful. gross. yucky. that humbling kind of sick, perhaps when your roommates take pity, make sure you have water, and get the f away from you. i woke up today feeling not much better, but though i could at least get to my computer and feel like i did something with my day. good ol' cs suggested i check tom's blog. there it was. the mcm-all email, re-posted in italics. it's official.

"Effective immediately, B-063 housing the Bowling Alley - Weight Gym -
Ceramics Room - Boulder Room and Craft Room is closed to all personnel.
Do not enter the building for any reason.

A cross member structural beam has suffered a failure that has resulted
in the floor sagging approximately six inches. All of the floor joists butt
up and end on this one beam, causing overloading at this point. This is
an extremely unsafe condition that warrants closing the building for all
use by the community. There is a real risk that the second floor in the
building could collapse onto the first floor.

This will have a large impact on the community due to closing of a
building that houses several recreational venues that are used
extensively by the community. The weight room will no longer be
open and all bowling will stop until the building can be inspected and
repaired. Bowling leagues will no longer be allowed to use the bowling
alley and the leagues will need to determine how they will end the
current series without playing any further games. There is no estimated
time frame for when the building might reopen. The closure is totally
unavoidable and is for the safety of everyone on station".

B-63 has been on the demo list for ages, so i've been told. we've joked about this for a while now. while the floor of the upstairs is mushy and soft, the roof leaks like mad, and the weight room is infiltrated by sounds of strikes and spares, the building is old and in need of much repair. i have no news about what they plan to do with it, but given the .... track record, its future looks grim - which saddens me to no end. that bowling alley has a fair amount of history, one of the last functioning manual pinset mechanisms on earth, and is one of the oldest buildings at mcmurdo station.

holding back tears holding back tears.... getting verklempt.....

i'm considering starting a campaign, or perhaps holding a bowl-a-thon fundraiser if i knew it would help. any structural engineers out there who think they can solve this problem, please contact me or someone with more clout in mcmurdo.


crying over spilt Milk.

last night i finished my last final of the semster. statistics. statistics, for those of you who haven't had the joy of experiencing it, is a nit-picky, anal retentive form of mathematics. the wrong verb tense in a conclusion of a hypothesis test can lose you points. after 3.5 hours of that, i feel like i lost a little bit of my soul.
i fled city college, and headed to the castro theater to catch the late showing of 'Milk' with randal. it was important for me to see this movie here, as 1) it's the castro theater, and 2) harvey milk helped to shape the way that san francisco culture thrives today.
sometimes i get glimpses of this city through film and photograph that make my heart feel open. the movie was amazing and powerful. i was thinking about writing this missive about how magnificent this movie was, and how much i love this city, but randal beat me to it. and his words are more meaningful than the ones i could have written, so i'll let him say it. thanks randal.


I'll confess: I really enjoy being affected by movies. I don't see films very often, and that makes them more potent. But this was over the top. I had just disappeared from a holiday party for a couple of AIDS groups, and I had run into some local friends in the Castro district and had burritos. But I was on my way to meet Sandwich in time for the 9:45 showing of Milk at the Castro Theater. I'm rarely the one to catch the first wave of anything popular. But I neither was I the last to see this very pertinent major motion picture. The house was about half-full on the main floor for this late evening showing on a Thursday.

I call the film pertinent because it's a local story with national and international implications. I say pertinent because I got the opportunity last winter to participate as an extra in the filming of the protests and other crowd scenes. I say pertinent because the telling of this historical moment is long overdue. I say pertinent because many of the struggles portrayed in the film seem to remind us vividly of the day before yesterday.

The film opens with a montage of black and white stock footage of police raids on Gay bars from the late 50's and 60's. The men, very stylishly dressed, were well groomed. The didn't wear conspicuously long hair or especially effeminate accessories. There were no Drag Queens, no Leathermen, no Freedom Faggots in blouses and purses. These were businessmen at leisure, most of them shading their eyes from the bright lights, ducking from the news cameras, and bowing their heads. The stigma of being identified in these documents would far outweigh the night in jail they were facing as they were rounded up in handcuffs, and loaded into paddy wagons. But it really wasn't necessary for this film to put the Gay movement of 70's San Francisco into perspective by showing the raids which preceded it. Yes, in the 70's itself, this would have given the audience a chill. But maybe the real-time drama portrayed in the movie doesn't say enough about the how Gays were treated in Milk's time, and how the police force had not yet been cleaned up.

Maybe like me, you were too young to remember Proposition 6 in 1978. This was the Briggs initiative to fire all school teachers who were openly Gay, suspected of being Gay, or even straight allies of Gays. In the 70's, when it was rare to see the tops of a man's ears, we once laughed at those TV preachers and uptight born-again hate mongers. I remember my now-Republican brother telling jokes about Anita Bryant. But Sandwich and I watched this drama play out on the screen, wild with fear-fuled arguments that seemed way too familiar like, "They'll teach homosexuality in our schools."

I was aware of Milk's prophetic tape recording, "In case of my death by assassination." But I was not aware of Milk's three lost elections, and his history of suicidal lovers. It was amazing that his lover's death was overshadowed by the election the next day and it didn't spawn evil stories in the press.

But the historic double-murder took place. And then the epilogues rolled, to remind you that these were real people. And the lights came up as I re-laced my boots. Sandwich reached over to hug me. I looked up at the inspirational logo "Milk" projected on the curtain above the screen. Then I completely lost my shit. I sobbed like a baby as all the realism saturated my little human brain.

All at once, I had to process facts: We've been treated as light entertainment for cops ready to raid bars. Dan White got off with 5 years, for manslaughter, and didn't even serve the full term. The mistakes we made in the campaign against Prop 8 in 2008 were outlined in the story of Prop 6 in 1978; namely that we forgot to mention Gay people in the posters and television spots. The film was very real because 90 percent of it takes place within yards of the Castro Theater. It was very real to me because I was there for the crowd shots and a few other outdoor scenes. We extras came down to the set in support of the film as if it were an actual political protest. I was working alongside bald men with gray beards and caved-in cheeks; many of whom were there in the 70's. And yet they all would have been anachronisms with their casual clothes and artifacts of HIV meds, if only the crowd scenes weren't so dark. I remembered my two 70's costumes. I remembered that I had grown a beard to cover the last signs of Kaposi's sarcoma.

Sandwich dragged me out of the theater, as I was blinded by tears, my teeth humming with passion as I tried to breath. Our view opened out onto Castro Street and I continued my flashbacks and hysteria. "It happened here, and here, and here." "I was there and it happened here!" "I watched it happen."

I stumbled and cried like a maudlin drunk. "Let's get out of here!" I cried a total of 45 minutes. I don't get the opportunity to feel that way very often.

The first of two 70's costumes I threw together as an extra in Milk. I can't find documentation of the beige polyester Levi's suit. -randal smith


santarctica 2008.

spreading the polar jolly from afar..... (thanks katie!)

Alright… now that I’ve got your attention…


What is Santarctica, you might ask?

First you must decide if you’re a Santa or an elf and dress appropriately (costumes are provided to the first 50 or so people who show up).  Feel free to show up in your own SANTA or ELF costume.  Reindeer will also be welcome.  Decide on your first place to spread cheer and run, walk, skip there, spreading cheer along the way.  After joy and laughter have been brought to the first locale, move on and continue spreading cheer until you’re tired and nobody notices when you sneak off.


What places are visited?

Suggestions are always welcome!  There are a few other activities planned for Sunday, so appearances could be made at the softball game, burger bar, different drinking establishments, the McMurdo sign behind 209, some workcenters that don’t mind the distraction, Hut Point… who knows?


What if you can’t make it at 4pm?

We’ll plan to meet any stragglers at 6pm in Gallagher’s.  If you want to meet up, 6pm is your chance.


Remember to bring clothes to wear under or over your Santa or elf suit to keep you warm throughout the event.

Remember to have fun.

Remember to puke in Food Waste.  Nobody likes a disrespectful Santa.

Remember to spread the word.

Remember to charge your camera batteries the day before.

Remember to spread cheer.