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June 2001 Archives

Links were checked and verified as active only in the month the Eucalyptus entry was published. Links outside the silverscreentest domain may be inactive from this archive.

June 30

People I can't talk about hosted a small get-together for Miranda. She got a Barbie and some clothes for the doll. The cake featured the Powerpuff girls.

June 29

Wendell Wagner came over to give birthday presents to Miranda. He buys bulk small items from science surplus catalogs and gives them to nieces, nephews, and children of his friends. Miranda liked the flip books best. I liked the astronomy book with pages that has holes in them which you can shine a flashlight through and project them on the wall.

June 28

Miranda playing quizbowl with her stuffed animals.Does this girl need professional help? While some kids play tea party with her stuffed animals, she plays quizbowl. This picture was taken before we moved. I have since found my buzzer system.

June 27

Taxonomy of Baseball Stadiums (with some nomenclatured borrowed from Green Cathedrals by Philip J. Lowry).

Classical - Fenway Park (Boston) and Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs). These were built before World War II and the kind spoken nostalgically of that everyone wants to build.

Modern Multi-Use - Busch Stadium (St. Louis), Cinergy Field (Cincinnati), Humbert H. Humphrey Metrodome (Minnesota), Network Associates Coliseum (Oakland), Olympic Stadium (Montreal), Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego), Shea Stadium (New York Mets), Skydome (Toronto) and Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia). Although these are the most reviled, their quality varies wildly. Busch Stadium and Cinergy improved with the introduction of grass. Shea Stadium is still dingy with grass. Both Qualcomm Stadium and Network Associates Coliseum were severely damaged by enclosure.

Modern Baseball Only - Comiskey Park (Chicago White Sox), Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles), Kaufman Stadium (Kansas City) and Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees). Before the neo-Classical parks, these stadiums represented the baseball ideal. Comiskey Park discovered the millennial vice of triple-decked luxury boxes without the charm of red-bricked exteriors.

Neo-Classical - The Ballpark in Arlington (Texas), Camden Yards (Baltimore), Comerica Park (Detroit), Coors Field (Colorado), Jacobs Field (Cleveland), Pacific Bell Park (San Francisco), PNC Park (Pittsburgh) and Turner Field (Atlanta). After the Maryland Stadium authority built Camden Yards, everybody wanted one. So HO+K cloned it in Cleveland, Colorado and Atlanta. Turner Field has the slight virtue of an earlier life as the Olympic Track and Field venue. In this brick-mad period, only the Ballpark in Arlington, designed by David M. Schwarz Architectural Services and HKS, provided variety from the template. I remember Dubya demanding more nooks and crannies in the blueprint. Was this a baseball stadium or an English muffin? The later stadiums realized that they had been building cookie-cutter stadiums yet again, just with different cookies. Pacific Bell Park has the bay and private financing. Comerica Park is actually a pitcher's park, PNC Park features (horrors!) yellow brick, and both still can't attract many fans.

Neo-Classical Dome - Bank One Ballpark (Arizona), Enron Field (Houston), Miller Park (Milwaukee) and Safeco Field (Seattle). This category was created because, despite how much you dress it up, it's still a dome. These edifices are the billionaire's equivalent of the fau-Victorian houses built by mere millionaires. Safeco is the only one that, when the sun is shining and the roof is open, you don't realized it's a domed stadium.

Post-Modern - Edison International Field (Anaheim), Pro Player Stadium (Florida) and Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay). Post-Modern is another name for "What the f***". This particularly applies to the Florida stadiums. They were constructed with a certain shape, but the teams decided to put up fences with little relevance to these shapes. Although Edison International Field would originally be classified as Modern Baseball Only, Disney has since remodeled it into a post-modern theme park.

I would reiterate my opinion that the design in this area needs to move beyond improving on Camden Yards. The Mets want to rebuild Ebbets Field. Why not construct an art deco steel and metal facade with the skyscrapers on the logo repeated on the outside of the building? In DC, reflect the monuments of the city with columns and faux marble like Soldier Field and the Palace of the Fans. If Virginia builds the Washington stadium across the river, why not look to Mount Vernon or Colonial Williamsburg for their model?

June 26

Miranda pretending to be a dragon.Miranda pretends to be dragon by using an Aquarius card to represent the fire breath. She finally opened her birthday presents today, hauling in quite a load. Now there's more stuff to clutter my mother-in-law's house and our new house when we move.

Joe Torre says that Cal Ripken will be named to the All-Star team regardless of whether the fans vote him in. Well sure, he has to pick an Oriole and the fans would rather see Cal than Josh Towers. Joe Morgan thinks Ichiro Suzuki shouldn't win Rookie of the Year because he's really not a rookie. By the same reasoning, Jackie Robinson should have been denied Rookie of the Year Award as well. Since stars who played their entire careers in the Negro Leagues have been named to the Hall of Fame, and no Japanese stars have been elected, the Negro Leagues must be considered a better league. So if Jackie Robinson got a Rookie of the Year Award, so should Ichiro.

June 25

Our new house with most of the brick installed.Here's a more recent picture of the new house, although progress has advanced even further since the photograph was taken.

Had a bit of migraine yesterday, the result of many hectic days. All week, Michael Reghi has been promoting the appearance of Jeff Conine on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I thought he would be a celebrity contestant, but was just a spectator that Regis talked to a lot.

On Ginohn News May 30, John Cooper relates an elevator talk show adventure at Baycon over Memorial Day Weekend. He credits me with the idea, but I picked it up from Tom Terrell of the University of Chicago back in 1981. College Bowl held the national tournament that year at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, not exactly a garden spot. All the teams stayed at the Huntington Holiday Inn, a passable venue for college students. The year before, Tom was a senior divinity student and that year, Tom graduated to assistant to the dean of the Divinity School and coach of the team. Overall, this background would not sound conducive to creative mischief-making. Nevertheless, on the last night in Huntington, he put some chairs and plants in an elevator car and held a talk show as it moved up and down.

Four years later, in a fit of pointless nostalgia, I mentioned the incident at Disclave to a group which included John Cooper. They all thought this was a great idea and appointed me host. For chairs, we used those low luggage stands one finds in hotels. For a plant, John's then-girlfriend Lisa Lazar stood motionless holding a glass of water with a sprig of green in it. I seem to remember my most entertaining guest that night was Lee Moyer. Hotel security left us alone and just laughed. At the same time, someone was hosting a dirty lingerie party. Don't asked whether that meant the lingerie was merely raunchy or actually soiled. Many women in corsets stepped into that elevator with their crotch at my eye level.

My next recollection of elevator talk shows was when I suggested the idea to some high school quiz bowl team at the 1987 National Academic Championship at the Ohio State University in Columbus. I disavowed all knowledge since I was a judge and symbol of authority at the time.

June 24

I planned to discuss the most recent taping of Silver Screen Test today. However, since I want to keep the results secret until the day of airing, I don't have a lot to say. I just want to thank Jimmy Albert, Ari Brodecki, John Buckley, Margaret Buckley, Yen-Ming Chen, Bob Mattia, Ally Potter, Victor Soto and Francine Wyron for all their help.

Jessie Freeland and MirandaMiranda turned 5 yesterday and we held the party at KidZone in Germantown. This location formerly held a Discovery Zone, but when the company went bankrupt, Chuck E. Cheese bought out the name. A huge poster in the lobby showed a newspaper article about the franchisee's legal entanglements with Chuck E. Cheese about the name. All the kids had a great time. All the parents tolerated it the best they could. Miranda started running out of gas just as the cake was presented to her, the guests sang Happy Birthday, and she blew out the candles. She looked like one of the most listless birthday girls you've ever seen, until she realized the cake was about to be served to her. Then she sure perked up. Of course I don't have any pictures yet, but here's a picture of Miranda with one her best friends, Jessie Freeland, taken at the day care center where they met.

Yesterday, we also got a letter from our builder saying that the inspection of our new house has been scheduled for July 16, with settlement targeted for July 23. Most of the closets now have doors. The study appears to have glass doors, which would be totally cool, combining privacy with openness. The siding has been installed on side of the house. More siding sits ready to install in the garage, as well as the porch posts.

June 23

The Washington segment of the National Academic Championship took place once again at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. The first night, I showed Ernie Anderson, Chip Beall, Tanya Govorune, and Brooks and Tina Sanders my tape of Silver Screen Test. Tina especially liked the low angle wide shot which only appeared once every segment. The shot didn't appear on the original master, but came from an isolated camera that I edited into the program.

I worked the first day with Jason Russell and Scott Beall. Jason felt compelled to occasionally add to the judge and scorekeeper biographies some truly fantastic anecdotes. For example, he said that in my brief but shining major league career, I struck out Cap Anson three times in one game. So in my introduction you learned that Tanya Govorune originated the Anna Kournikova virus, Ed Pizzarello is dating Elizabeth Hurley, Scott Beall is the real voice of 98 Degrees, Ernie Anderson is the biological father of Britney Spears and Dave Huberman won the slam dunk contest at the 1991 MacDonald's All-American All-Star Game.

Jason and I had a fascinating protest which, fortunately, was clearly adjudicated. I don't remember the schools involved, and it shouldn't matter. One bonus question asked what novel was followed by the sequels Pitcairn Island and Men Against the Sea. The team answered,"Mutiny Aboard the HMS Bounty". I buzzed the answer wrong and gave the other team the rebound. The second team answered,"Mutiny on the Bounty". The first team protested that their answer was correct. Neither I nor Jason could recall the longer title and disallowed the protest. The game was close enough that the protest would matter. The first team came back with an listing for a book entitled Mutiny Aboard the HMS Bounty by William Bligh. In fact, this title was not the famous Nordhoff and Hall novel, but a historical account by Bligh himself. So the player confused a first-person non-fiction book with a historical novel. So, again, the protest was disallowed, but I learned about I book I never heard of before.

In the evenings, I used my cell phone to get technicians for next week's taping of Silver Screen Test. Ed Pizarello, the official statistician calculated on his laptop the seedings for the elimination rounds on Sunday. He saved an Excel copy of his data for Chip, but before Chip had a chance to post the pairings. By that time, Ed had gone home. Fortunately, I was able to read the spreadsheet on my computer. That Saturday night, I played Aquarius and Fluxx. The teams from Houston were glued to the lounge television looking for news from home. The driving rain from tropical storm Allison had shut down the airports and paralyzed the city. Around midnight, I showed Jason and his son Christopher the Silver Screen Test tape, then we watched the Giants play the Athletics.

The funniest wrong answer of the tournament came on Sunday morning. We played an audio cut of the Aaron Copeland-composed soundtrack to The Red Pony, specifically calliope music. The question asked what sort of event did the music accompany. The correct answer was a circus. One player answered that it was the death of the pony.

Klein of Houston, Texas won that segment and headed to Los Angeles the following week. Ray Anderson of Redwood Valley in Minnesota was the most exciting player. Complete statistics can be found at the Questions Unlimited web site.

June 22

As explained before, the trivia contest was structured as “Who Wants to Win a Million Credits?” Instead of the Fastest Finger Contest, the potential participants rolled dice to determine their order. I was prepared for 10 contestants and only 8 wanted to play. Players could ask the audience as a lifeline, although no more than 15 occupied the room at one time. The phone-a-friend lifeline turned into ask a single audience member, which usually consisted of a person waving frantically when the contestant looked blank. I played the 50/50 lifeline honestly, rolling dice to eliminate choices. Apparently, on the real show, the producers leave what they consider the toughest wrong answer. In the home game, the host chooses to leave whatever answers they like.

I printed the fake money I mentioned yesterday as prizes, making sure to have plenty of 1,000s and 32,000s on hand, since I expected most folks to drop down to that level. As expected the top two winners, Andrew Love and Wendell Wagner, both missed their 125,000 credit questions and dropped down to 32,000. Martin Morse Wooster stopped at 16,000 because he wanted to get a prize with a writer on it, not a media figure. I expect to put the questions used on this web site.

After the match I wandered the halls and spent some time at the Looney Labs Pop-Tart Café. I had already visited the festivities Friday afternoon, meeting such old friends as Marlene Bruce, who I hadn’t seen in four years. Sorry we didn’t meet up again, Marlene. I still want you to see Miranda in the flesh. I also met Jake, who is Wunderland’s current Brick. That night, I discussed gaming styles with Jake while he played a game of Zendo. I also ate a chocolate fudge Pop-Tart and looked through a deck of Chrononauts.

I also learned in talking to some of the Knossos people that night that they went to a panel on “The Greatest Fantasy Writers of the 20th Century.” I stopped them and said,”No, that panel is on Monday.” Well, the panelists were told that “The Greatest Fantasy Writers of the 20th Century” panel was on Monday and that the “The Greatest Science Fiction Writers of the 20th Century” would be on Saturday. However, the pocket program said that “The Greatest Fantasy Writers of the 20th Century” panel was on Saturday and that the “The Greatest Science Fiction Writers of the 20th Century” would be on Monday. So that Saturday panel spent 20 minutes talking about science fiction, because they were prepared to talk about that, and then spent another 20 minutes talking about fantasy.

The next day I strolled over to Camden Yards to watch the Rangers take on the Orioles. This year home plate was moved back seven feet and the field was angled about 2 degrees left. I can barely notice the difference. I left during the rain delay in the bottom of the 7th and the Orioles won 3-1. Our 20th floor hotel room saw a little bit of the field. Miranda spent a lot of the weekend, sitting on the window ledge, watching the cars coming into Baltimore on I-95. She also drew an elegant picture of the Bromo Seltzer tower. Miranda also got a button that said,”Power Puff Girls to the rescue!” She also got a winged kitten or “Kitty Hawk” from the Worldcon in Charlotte 2004 committee. This stuffed animal has since been named Lula Loop Callecka. Lula has a sister we haven’t met yet called Lala Angelica Callecka.

Back at Pop Tart café, I had another chocolate fudge Pop Tart and asked Andy Looney if he or one of his minions could introduce me to a game of Aquarius. Nathan served as the teacher and I also played with Sonja and Becka. Sonja ate 14 Pop Tarts in a three-hour period last year. This year, the Looney gang limited her to one every two hours. You can also play Aquarius on the web.

This was also the first time Mary and I tried out our cellular phones. It’s so decadent to call each other from anywhere we happened be in the hotel.

The next day we went to the Pizzeria Uno in the Inner Harbor. Tomorrow, I talk about the Washington segment of the National Academic Championship.

June 21

As I set up our desktop computer the night we moved into my mother-in-law's basement, I checked out the e-mail. One of the messages was from Balticon, listing six program items for which they had scheduled me. The e-mail ended by saying that I didn't have to appear at all the panels. When I got to the green room Friday afternoon, I told them I'd only go to three of the programs.

The move took a toll on our family. As a result, Mary and Miranda were too tired to make the convention Friday afternoon. So, I went alone to check into our hotel room and spend the night. In the pounding rain it took me several hours to drive from Rockville to Baltimore. I discovered that a Times Square-like news telegraph ran around a building near the hotel.

My panel Friday night was called “Balticon Picks the Hugos”. I keep up with the short fiction but not the novels. I checked the short fiction nominees online and made a cursory selection of the choices. I expected to be one of five people on the panel and the rest of them would be able to discuss the novels. As it turned out, Catherine Asaro was the only other panelist. Despite our trepidationsm we had four great audience members including my friend Bill Hussar. I thought we were only supposed to talk for one hour, but the pocket program had us scheduled for two hours.

After we exhausted the first hour, we just talked about anything we could such as Catherine’s encounters with the romance writers and our favorite science fiction novels turned into movies. We also discussed the Retro Hugos where works released in 1950 go up for vote. I didn’t pay much attention to those nominations, but a member of our audience had a good memory for that sort of thing. Catherine asked whether your entire Hugo nomination ballot would be invalidated if you nominated a story in the wrong category. I said that only happens in Florida.

Catherine said that romance conventions are pretty much what you'd expect, expect for one feature: the cover model pageant. Hunks in the mold of Fabio preen for the mostly female audience. I think science fiction conventions should adopt this program with both men and women as contestants.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and drove back to Rockville. When we moved, my buzzer system got put into storage, probably behind some furniture. As a result, I had to re-work the trivia contest. Instead of my three period game with a buzzer system, I decided to go with Who Wants to Win a Million Credits? As Mary and Miranda packed for the weekend, I printed out the prizes and wrote questions. The prizes were European-style currency with pictures of famous science fiction personalities. The bills went as follows:
100 Credits - Jar-Jar Binks
200 Credits - Steven R. Donaldson
300 Credits - Wesley Crusher
500 Credits - Robert Jordan
1,000 Credits - Commander Jeffrey Sinclair
2,000 Credits - Brick Barrientos (Yep, me!)
4,000 Credits - Anne Rice
8,000 Credits - Xena, Warrior Princess
16,000 Credits - Michael Flynn
32,000 Credits - Captain Benjamin Sisko
64,000 Credits - Theodore Sturgeon
125,000 Credits - Rick Deckard
250,000 Credits - Samuel R. Delany
500,000 Credits - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1,000,000 Credits - John W. Campbell

Saturday night I was on a panel called "Has the Star Trek Franchise Run Its Course?" I was the only panelist who still hadn't watched the last episode of Voyager. We talked about what was known about the upcoming series, Enterprise. Scott Bakula will star as the captain and the time setting will be before the original series. Most of the panel and the audience expressed skepticism at the potential quality of Enterprise. A few audience members thought we should give this show the benefit of the doubt. I believed that, given the recent past, I didn't have much confidence in the future of Star Trek either. Rick Berman is not Joss Whedon. It's been 13 years since The Next Generation pleasantly surprised us with Whoopi Goldberg. Another audience member advanced that Paramount sifted through dozens of proposed shows and therefore thought this one thoroughly. He added,"These guys aren't stupid."

I replied,"This is Hollywood. They are particularly stupid. A Hollywood executive once said,'Let's remake The Wiz white.' "

The Star Trek panel immediately preceded my trivia contest which I'll talk about next time.

June 20

We're back from our hiatus. Some periods of time get so busy, you spend too much time actually living your life than writing about it.

Most of our move took place on May 21, which turned out to be one of the rainiest days of the year. Tuesday required more clearing out of the old house. Wednesday, we went to our mortgage lender to fill out forms. More cleaning and moving took place on Thursday. So now, we're living in my mother-in-law's basement. Most of our possessions are in storage. Tonight we added a small refrigerator for food. I'll save our Balticon adventures for tomorrow's installment.

Here are some pictures of the house, which, admittedly, are a number of weeks out of date.

Our new house from across the street.Our new house closer up.On the left is the new house from across the street. You can see North Germantown [something] Park behind it. The family members will enter from the garage and the basement foyer. Everybody else will have to climb a long set of stairs up to the porch and the front door on the center left. The right roof features a gable which wasn't in the drawing in the April archives. The right-hand picture is another view of the front of the house from up close.

Cathedral ceilingWindowOn the left is our bedroom, looking from where our bed would be. We have a slight cathedral ceiling. A hallway flanked by the walk-in closets leads to the master bathroom. The original plan didn't have a door to the master bathroom at all. A door has since been framed on the far side of the hallway.

On the right is the window which provides a stunning view of our next door neighbors. On the inside, it illuminates the stairs between the first and second floors. You won't be able to see this view after the house is completed since this shot was taken from the hall bathroom through what would be the walls.

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Last revised June 30, 2001
© 2001 B. Barrientos