A skeleton picked clean by the vultures of neglect

September 12, 2011

Yes, those are tumbleweeds you see rolling by, and yes that is a lonesome wind whistling through the weathered wooden boards of this ghost town’s abandoned remains. This blog is a skeleton picked clean by the vultures of neglect.

Or maybe not so much neglect as distraction. The real fun — if you can call it that — is happening at what has become my primary blog, www.jamesdeagle.blogspot.com, established in 2009 as a political/social commentary blog. Before long it veered wildly off course and turned mainly into a creative writing venue.

Meanwhile, my woefully-indecisive mind is agonizing over what to do with the blog you’re reading now. Do I simplify things and pull the plug altogether, or do I set it aside for some specific purpose? Such as political/social commentary? Ack!! I feel like I’ve been down this road before!

In any case, I think I’ll hang onto it for now, if only to maintain ownership of “jamesdeagle.wordpress.com”, as I’m hardly the only James Deagle on the web. Those running around with my name include:

With competition like that, this piece of real estate needs to be fiercely guarded.

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When Larry King asks, I answer.

November 27, 2009

Here’s a comment I posted on Larry King’s blog on November 25 in response to the question: “What’s your favorite ‘wild’ animal?” His guest that night was zookeeper extraordinaire Jack Hanna. Here’s what I had to say:

November 25th, 2009 5:00pm ET

Hi Larry,

For me it’s a two-way tie between dolphins and grizzly bears. Out of any ‘wild’ animals I have ever seen up close, these two have made the biggest impression.

Here are my thoughts on the above…

I had the privilege of observing two grizzlies up close in their fenced-off sanctuary on Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, BC. I remember walking up to the fence and being confronted by this bear suddenly staring me down, as if doing a threat assessment. He quickly decided I was harmless and went back to burrowing his head into the snow. This instance of being ‘read’ by such a magnificent creature was a brief but awesome moment that cannot be described or forgotten.

A year-and-a-half later, my wife and I had our picture taken with a dolphin at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Again, it was all too short, but it allowed us a glimpse of a creature that exhibited intelligence, personality and a sense of humor.

James
Ottawa, Canada


Autobiography excerpt: the Commodore Vic-20 years

November 23, 2007

Like many computer geeks from my generation, my first computer was a Commodore Vic-20, bought second-hand in August of 1983 with money saved from a weekly paper route. For an 11-year-old paperboy trying to get by on such a meager income, it took about six months to accumulate the $200 I needed for this purchase. The resulting joy, however, cannot be measured in dollar value.

At first the Vic-20 was a merely a gaming machine to which I lost countless hours. It didn’t matter at the time how crude the graphics were, the games were simply a hell of a lot of fun. (As a contrast, I recently picked up a demo disk of the latest Playstation games, and found myself feeling bored and unimpressed very quickly. And that’s despite the leading edge graphics and first-person interface.)

Before long, however, I was writing my own programs in BASIC. Whether it was coming up with some simple routine from scratch, or punching in a program listing from a computer magazine and then changing and modifying it into something much wackier than intended, the overall feeling was one of total empowerment. The ability to imagine something and then just go ahead and create it was downright intoxicating.

When I look at my present fixations through the lens of the past, it’s easy to see how the Vic-20 years have shaped my computing biases. I’m a steadfast FreeBSD user, and an advocate of free software. And whether I’m using FreeBSD (at home) or Windows (at the office), I usually try to find ways to do things from the command line wherever possible. Today’s mouse-driven computing experience is one of simply using other people’s applications, as opposed to interacting directly with the machine itself.

About 10 years ago, my Vic-20 was sold at a yard sale by a well-meaning family member — without my knowledge or consent. I was enraged and heartbroken. It was like a long-lost friend had been abducted and spirited away in the middle of the night. (If only I had kept in touch, maybe I could have done something…) The offending family member thought they were just getting rid of a dusty old machine that was going on many years of neglect. To me, however, they were blithely disregarding a piece of my childhood.

I still think about my old Vic-20 every now and then, and I wonder whatever became of it. I’d like to think it didn’t meet its Waterloo in a trash compactor behind Value Village, though I can’t think of any reason why a child of the iPod age would be anything other than embarrassed by it. I guess kids today have more advanced toys in mind as they slog through their paper routes.

©2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved


In dreams the war is closer to home

November 16, 2007

Due to a lack of interest amongst grown men, the U.S. government has resorted to drafting Canadian children for its war effort in Iraq. A seven-year-old version of my nephew stands in front of me, clad in a formal military uniform, fitted perfectly for his small frame. In a matter of minutes he’ll board a plane for the Middle East. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I beg him not to go. I tell him that it is wrong to send children into the line of fire, and that I’m worried this will be the last time I see him. He looks at me with big, innocent eyes and says “Don’t worry, Uncle Jimmy. I’ll be careful.

©2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved.


In print!

October 12, 2007

I’m cold, damp and tired after an extended walk on a misty October evening. Beyond that, I have nothing profound to say today except that the New York Observer published my Letter to the Editor in this week’s edition. That means my words will wrap an order of fish somewhere in Brooklyn.

The letter, as it appeared upon publication, can be viewed online at:

http://www.nyobserver.com/2007/coulter-comebacks

©2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved.


Ann Coulter, enemy of democracy

October 4, 2007

(The following is a letter I submitted to the editor of the New York Observer after reading an interview George Gurley did with neo-con pundit Ann Coulter in that paper’s current edition, Coulter Culture: Ann Blames Clinton, Carter for 9/11 and Dreams of Denying Women the Vote. As of this writing I have yet to hear back as to whether it will be accepted for publication. -JD)

___

To the Editor:

Ann Coulter’s self-professed “personal fantasy” is an America in which women don’t have the right to vote, in turn making it a one-party theocracy. That doesn’t sound like a daughter of the American revolution to me. In fact, despite her anti-Islam stance, I bet she’d be quite happy living as a woman under Taliban rule. Perhaps it’s not too late for her to go to Afghanistan and defect to the enemy side.

James Deagle
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

©2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved.


When jokes kill…

September 28, 2007

(The following is a little something I posted on ottawacomedy.com in the “Reviews” forum. It’s just a quick and dirty account of the ProAm night at Absolute Comedy on September 26. I bashed this out on my office computer at lunch time between salmon sandwiches. I have made no edits or alterations, as there’s only so many hours in a day. -JD)

_____________

 

 

This is more of a news report than a review, but here it goes anyway…

I was at Absolute Comedy last night for the Pro Am show, with Slim Bloodworth headlining and Derek Lengwenus as the MC.

Overall it was a great evening that was interrupted when a woman in the middle of the crowd collapsed during Dave Delima’s set. (I’m pretty sure I’ve misspelled his name or even gotten it totally wrong. My apologies…I’m going according to my beer-addled memory of the event.)

Because I was sitting near the bar and completely away from the action, I didn’t see what happened to the woman when she fell — from my vantage point I just saw Dave step back from the mic and fold his arms while a crowd suddenly rose to their feet in the middle of the room. A voice from within the throng yelled “Somebody call 911!”

Perhaps the most harrowing thing at first, for those of us seated away from the action, was not knowing what was happening…was it a fainting spell? heart attack? seizure? stroke? Was this person dying?

While all this was going on, Slim took stock of the situation and went up to the microphone to reassure the audience that everything was under control, and that the show would resume as soon as possible.

Eventually the paramedics arrived and were able to get the woman to her feet and out to an ambulance. About half an hour or 45 minutes later, Derek announced that the woman was safely home and in stable/good condition.

When Dave took to the stage again to resume his act, he opened with a killer line: “So much for laughter being the best medicine.”

Slim also referenced the incident at the beginning of her set, noting how this was a good end to a week that saw her suffer a cardiac arrest and incontinence. She said something to the effect of “My week just got up and shat on that woman.”

Kudos to the management of Absolute Comedy for distributing free passes after the show to make up for the interruption…completely unnecessary but very classy. I also commend the management and staff for their swift and professional handling of the incident.

©2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved.