Flashback: NYE Before the Blog

Before I created the Blork Blog, I had several other venues around the Web in which I enlightened the unwashed masses with my sparkling prose. One of them was Boots n’ All, a travel site “for the independent traveller.” I was its Montreal correspondent for about six months, during which I wrote half a dozen dispatches for the backpacker crowd, describing what was going on in Montreal, what there was to see here, and where to score “cheap eats.”

It was a fun gig, and oddly enough, the articles are still available on the Boots n’ All Web site even though they are nine years out of date. (Look for the “Montreal Travel Guide” index page and the only things on it are my dispatches, even though there have been many other contributions about Montreal since then.) It was a lot of fun to re-read my articles after all this time. My January 2000 dispatch, in particular, is notable for several things; it reminded me of all the “millennium” hoopla, it startles me with how young and energetic I sounded then, and it gives a very dated view of the software industry in Montreal.

The best part is the preamble, which I will reproduce below:

The editors at BootsnAll are, no doubt, annoyed at the lateness of this dispatch. My first column of the new millennium and it arrives a third of the way into the month. To make amends, I will promise not to use the word “millennium” again until the year 2999.

In my defense, however, I will offer up the following excuse: I passed the end of 1999 holed up in a chalet next to a lake in the cold and snowy woods of Quebec – the Laurentian mountains to be exact. We had a fireplace, a well, and no telephone. (Actually, between us we had four cell phones, but we pretended their shrill ringings were tropical birds, belying the frozen lake and -15°C air that lay just outside the windows.)

During my ten days in the mountains I shaved not once, and spent most of the time draped in checkered pyjamas, except for those times when I slipped a pair of MEC Rad pants over them to ski across the lake or shovel snow. Afternoon canned Guinness (love the floating widget) was the norm, as were belly-filling late-night meals and other escape-from-reality pleasures.

After the the Y2K thing passed and the lights were still on, we celebrated with a late-night Krazy Karpet ride down the hill out front. Unfortunately, a gut full of Mumm’s prevented me from steering my unsteerable Krazy Karpet and I did a header straight into a malamute, breaking my glasses. The pooch, fortunately, was happy to have another hat to run away with, so he wasn’t upset about the collision and chose not to draw blood.

By January 4, I was safely back to my fully-functioning city life, at my desk, working my butt off to make up for the ten days away from the office. My company has recently released a new software product, so the scramble was on, and there was much time to make up. Would you believe I was home from the chalet for three days before I even moved my luggage away from the front door, and another two before I unpacked it?

Now that my excuse has consumed as much space as my dispatch usually does, I will stick with this theme of software shenanigans and take this opportunity to present to you the software geek’s view of Montreal.

Then it cuts to software. I talk about Softimage, Discreet Logic, Kaydara, and other upstarts. Oh, them’s were the days! Read the whole article here.

Raggafragga is Dead

Before Blork there was Raggafragga. Raggafragga.com was my first registered URL; it was intended to be a hub, or portal, for all of my publishing activities (oh, those heady days of 1999). There was going to be Raggafragga Tech (my freelance technical writing service), Raggafragga Online (which I described as “an online journal dedicated to literary writing in English about Montreal”), and most importantly, Raggafragga Press.

That’s right; Raggafragga Press. I was going to publish literary books about Montreal. The nascent raggafragga.com web site described this enterprise as “a small speck of a literary press, using gleanings from Raggafragga Online plus unique material, Raggafragga Press is dedicated to printing anthologies and thematic collections of original material about Montreal.” I was going to start small, with chap books and short fiction from any local writer foolish enough to hand over their work, and if those birdies flew I would have moved on to larger books with higher stakes.

As you can probably infer, none of this happened. To be clear, I never really got to the point of properly planning any of these activities. It was really more a matter of wishful thinking, conjured up over a few feverish days, then quickly consigned to the procrastination bin.

one version of the old banner

That’s not to say that Raggafragga.com has been entirely latent. This blog’s first URL was http://www.raggafragga.com/blork. Plus, I donated some Raggafragga space to make a web site (my first) for Nana, George & Me, a film by my friend Joe Balass. (That very dated site still exists, although it has moved to blork.org.) I also used ed@raggafragga.com as my primary email address for quite a while, which might explain why I got so little email then. (“Huh? Fragyerrag? Raggarag? Fraggyraggy? What?”)

But as of tomorrow, Raggafragga.com will be dead. My claim on the domain expires December 23, and I’m letting it go. There’s no point in keeping it as the whole literary press thing simply isn’t going to happen — and even if I were to resurrect the idea I would do it under a different name (one that’s easier to spell).

In case you’re wondering, “raggafragga” is an onomatopoeia, coined by myself, that comes from The Flintstones. When Fred Flintstone is really, really pissed off and supposed to be swearing he makes sounds along the lines of “RrrRROWWrrrr, ragga fragga fragga ragga!” At least that’s how I heard it. Raggafragga.com was going to be a place where I could play the role of the grumpy, caveman-like editor.

Raggafragga.com wore a few faces over the years, such as the early one, below, in which I saw it as my personal rabbit hole. (The red link went to my blog; the blue link went to an area called the “World Wide Ed,” where I kept a bunch of other stuff.)

which pill?

Since about 2003, however, raggafragga has essentially been in a coma. For a while, the landing page said simply “someday there will be a raggafragga.com.” A few years ago I changed it to the following:

final face of raggafragga

It’s time to say goodnight to Raggafragga.com.