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alt.callahans ADMIN: Allabout Callahan's, Part 2 of 2

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Archive-name: callahans/allabout/part2
Last-modified: 1995/07/26
Version: 2.6
Posting-frequency: Monthly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
== continued from Part 1

*** Parties and Things in Callahan's

We've already mentioned the New Year's Pizza Party, which is held at the
appropriate time each year.  It was started because the newsgroup used
to be a pretty empty place over the holiday season, with people on
vacation and all, and it's a nice way for the ones left behind to share
some holiday spirit.

There are also birthday parties occasionally.  The Didi-Sprite keeps a
list of Patron's birthdays, and newcomers who want to be on it should
post their birthdays.  Since there are so many Patrons, every day is
_someone's_ birthday, so parties tend to be held only for long-standing
or very well-known Patrons.

What happens is: Someone contacts a large bunch of the victim's friends,
collecting birthday greetings and Virtual mayhem from them in e-mail,
then formats it all together and posts a humongous birthday party built
from everyone's messages.  It's quite an honour to have such a surprise
party thrown for you, but the sheer number of Patrons means nobody
should feel bad about not getting one.

Party posts are often quite long, and the threads can go on quite a
while, so the keyword PARTY should always be included in the Subject
line of any party post.  And if you want to get weekly reminder
messages on upcoming birthdays, contact Didi at .

*** Callahan's and Real Life

Since Callahan's is full of real people, they sometimes find they live
close enough together to meet up in Real Life (RL).  This has led to the
idea of the RealSpace, in which a bunch of Callahanians get together and
have a great time.  There are several groups of people who met in
Callahan's and now get together regularly in RL.  A few romances have
started this way, and even a marriage or two!

There are other ways in which Callahanians can share RL experiences.
People have posted invitations to open parties, and stage performances
in which they appear, and to events like science fiction conventions.
The keyword REALSPACE is sometimes used to announce, organise, or report
on any such gatherings.

And when a Callahanian travels, well!  There are often other
Callahanians scattered around the destination and this makes a great
excuse for a get-together.  Several Patrons have had dinner or attended
parties with people from other countries, and many a Patron has given
free travel accommodation to a visiting Callahanian from across the
country or across the world.

*** Callahan's Books by Spider Robinson (and others)

The alt.callahans newsgroup, as mentioned earlier, is based on some
books written by a fellow called Spider Robinson.  Here is a list of his
Callahan's books:

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, 1977, ISBN 0-441-09043-5.
Time Travellers Strictly Cash, 1981, ISBN 0-441-80713-5.
Callahan's Secret, 1986, ISBN 0-441-09074-5.
The Callahan Touch, 1993, ISBN 0-441-09075-3.
Off The Wall at Callahan's, 1994, ISBN 0-312-85661-X.

Spider has also written two books about Lady Sally, Mike's wife and
proprietor of a very classy bordello...

Callahan's Lady, 1989, ISBN 0-441-09072-9.
Lady Slings the Booze, 1992, ISBN 0-441-46929-9.

All of the above books are published by Ace Books of New York. They are
not the easiest books to find, and you may have better luck perusing
second-hand book stores for some of the earlier ones.  Spider has also
written several science fiction books which have nothing to do with
Callahan's, including a few with his wife, Jeanne Robinson.

The Callahan's Place books are collections of short stories (except for
_Off_The_Wall_, explained below), whereas the Lady Sally books are
novels.  All of them (plus his other books) come highly recommended by
most of the Patrons who have read them, although some of us don't like
them - hey, we encourage diversity and nobody ever said you have to
think any particular way to post here!

The Callahan's Place described in the books is quite similar to the one
in the newsgroup in some respects, but quite different in others. The
general philosophy is pretty much the same, but the decor and traditions
vary a bit.  In the books, the characters indulge in regular pun
contests every Tuesday night, Wednesdays are for tall tales, and Monday
is Fireside Fillmore night, in which some of the characters jam with
their musical instruments.  There is a counter-clock (a mirror-image of
a normal clock) on the wall, an ornate iron spiral staircase leading up
to the roof, no bar stools, a free lunch of ham sandwiches on the
bartop, and no mirror behind the bar (the wall is covered with scrawls
of some of the best (worst?) puns from Tuesday contests - and _this_
stuff comprises the _Off_The_Wall_ book).  Much of this has never made
regular reference in the newsgroup, but occasionally someone might
mention some of it.

And if you're curious, yes, Spider _does_ know about the newsgroup.  He
does not read it, though (at least as far as any of us know), and he has
never posted anything here.  A few of us have met him in person (at
science fiction conventions, for example, where he is sometimes a guest
of honour), and the reports are that he is quite a nice guy.  If you
happen to meet him, please be considerate and don't pester him with
questions about this newsgroup!

There are three stories which may explain why Spider doesn't hang out
1) Chris Davis met Spider once at a Boscone convention, and he said he
   didn't have time for the Net because he was worried about getting
   sucked into it.  (Fair enough; we know how addictive it can be!)
2) Taldin met Spider at I-Con IX, where he said he didn't want to read
   any fan-fiction about Callahan's, because he was leery about getting
   sued for copyright violations if he sees an idea and then later
   accidentally uses it.  This could possibly be extended to include the
   sort of things people write in alt.callahans.
3) Hearsay from an unknown source says that Spider once saw a printout
   of some of alt.callahans and didn't see much of a resemblance to how
   he envisioned the Place.
So, it could be that Spider is actually a little tired of hearing about
us already.  As we just said, _please_ don't bother him about the
newsgroup if you happen to meet him.

There is another book related to Callahan's - it happens to be a source
book for the role-playing game GURPS by Steve Jackson Games.  It was
written by Chris W. McCubbin, with help from Spider:
GURPS Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, 1992, ISBN 1-55634-221-7.

And if you turn to page 73 of this book, you will see alt.callahans
mentioned specifically.  As a Patron of this Place you are therefore, in
some small way, famous.

*** Other Callahan's Resources on the Net (and off)

The Callahan's Round Table:
Apart from the newsgroup alt.callahans, there is a #callahans channel on
Internet Relay Chat (IRC).  At the moment it only operates on Wednesdays
and Sundays (USA time) and mostly during the US evening, or late
afternoon on Sundays.  If you know how to use IRC, simply join the
channel #callahans at the appropriate time and you should find a few
other Callahanians on-line and willing to chat.

The VR space used in IRC is a big, round, oak table situated at the bar.
The people there do all the things they do in alt.callahans, except that
it all happens instantly instead of posting messages and waiting for a
reply.  At the moment, the conditions there are much less crowded than
in the newsgroup.  The Callahan's Round Table is ideal for anyone with
access to IRC and who feels the volume of posts in alt.callahans is just
too overwhelming.  As it grows, the Round Table will eventually expand
to other days of the week, to help keep things small and manageable.
The Round Table was set up and is administered by Elana Beach.  If you
have any questions about it you can e-mail her at .

Here is a quick time conversion chart for the Callahan's Round Table:
US Eastern Time: 18:00 - 00:00
US Pacific Time: 15:00 - 21:00
UK (Greenwich) Time: 23:00 - 05:00 (next day)
Australian Eastern Time: 09:00 (next day) - 15:00 (next day)

If you don't know how to use IRC, then you should either check your
on-line help or ask a local expert on your system.

HoloMUCK is a multi-user game running on a machine in Montreal.  Many
current and ex-Callahanians have characters on HoloMUCK, and logging in
is another way of meeting up with them in real time.

The telnet address for HoloMUCK is (port 5757).
The e-mail contact is Sjade, at these addresses:    for information;                   to set up a character.

If you want to have a look at Holo first, telnet to the above address
and connect as a guest.  Instructions appear when you open the telnet
connection.  If you don't know how to use telnet, either check your
on-line help or ask a local expert.

Callahan's on the World Wide Web:
Several people maintain World Wide Web pages with Callahan's related
information.  Here are the URL addresses and brief descriptions.

Danger Mouse ( maintains the original Callahan's
WWW page (originally produced by John Ockerbloom).  The page contains
links to several Callahan's documents, and also a few classic posts
from the past.

Tink ( has a Callahan's page with links to home pages of
several other Patrons and even a few pictures!

Ceallach keeps a Callahan's Portrait Gallery, with Patron photos.

Signe has another small Callahan's page, with links to various things.

Kathy ( maintains a Web site based on the
Callahan's Virtual Irish Pub SIG forum on Delphi.

As usual on the Web, these pages all contain numerous links and
cross-references.  A bit of searching, and who knows what you will find!
If you don't know how to access the Web, ask a local expert about it.

The Callahan's FTP Sites:
Danger Mouse ( maintains a small Callahan's
anonymous FTP site at (, in the
directory /pub/mar/callahans .

This site contains the latest copies of all the regular informational
posts, and some other stuff of interest.  If you do not know how to use
FTP, check your on-line help or ask a local expert on your system.  If
you have any problems accessing the site, send e-mail to DM.

frood ( maintains another Callahan's FTP site at (  This site contains an archive of
Callahan's posts, as well as a copy of the Callahan's Cookbook (see
sections on the Cookbook and Archives below).

DO NOT try to log in (via TELNET) to these sites as "guest" or
"anonymous".  No such accounts exist on either machine, and your
request will be denied.  These sites are for anonymous FTP only.

The Callahan's Cookbook:
Danger Mouse has compiled a collection of recipes from Callahanians.
Most of the recipes have been posted to the group, and DM collects any
new ones which appear.  The current version is 2.1 (June 23, 1993),
which contains 57 recipes, contributed by 32 different Patrons.

The Cookbook is available from the Callahan's FTP Sites and the
Callahan's World Wide Web Page.  It exists in three formats: Plain
ASCII (a text file like this), LaTeX (a text formatting language), and
PostScript (a graphics format suitable for laser-printing).

On frood's FTP site, the appropriate directory is  /pub/cookbook .
The files there are in GNU zip compressed format, with file names:
cookbook.asc.gz,, cookbook.tex.gz .  Patrons in the USA
should grab the book from this site, to save trans-Pacific traffic.

Each format is available from DM's FTP site both normally and Unix
compressed.  Here are the file sizes in bytes:
125001  cookbook.asc    (ASCII)
 57257  cookbook.asc.Z  (ASCII, Unix compressed)
301200     (PostScript)
121449   (PostScript, Unix compressed)
135166  cookbook.tex    (LaTeX)
 60063  cookbook.tex.Z  (LaTeX, Unix compressed)

The Callahan's Coffeehouse:
This is a collection of songs performed by Callahanians and compiled by
John Ockerbloom in 1991.  It contains songs by the Mandelbear (Steve
Savitzky), Windsinger (Rhodri James), The Green Tiger (James Birdsall),
and Taldin (Jeff Young), all original compositions.  The recording
quality is not very good, but the songs are fun.  Getting a copy of the
tape for yourself these days may prove difficult, however.  Please don't
bother John for a copy - he hasn't the necessary equipment to make new
copies.  If you want a copy, the best way is to find another Patron who
has a copy and ask nicely for a duplicate.

*** Other Regular Informational Postings in Callahan's

In addition to this Allabout file, there are a few other regular posts
which appear in Callahan's.  The reason they are separate from the
Allabout is that they contain information which is either posted or
updated much more frequently than the information here.  You will see
them posted every so often, or you can grab them from the Callahan's FTP
Site or the Callahan's World Wide Web Page.  The files are:

Probably the most important regular post, this describes the action to
take (or not to take) when people start getting insulting or abusive in
the newsgroup.  To summarise: ignore the flamer and e-mail or post
friendly support to the victim.  Posted weekly.

Callahan's New Patron's Guide:
This gives a rundown on net-etiquette and technical information on
posting to newsgroups for new Net users.  Posted every two weeks.

Callahan's Keyword Guidelines:
This post describes the practice of labelling posts with Subject line
keywords (to assist readers) and lists all the keywords in common use.
Posted every two weeks.

*** Related Newsgroups to alt.callahans

Several people have thought that Callahan's is such a good idea there
should be more newsgroups like it.  Some of them went out and created
some!  There are now a few groups which were inspired by alt.callahans,
most of them under the* hierarchy.

The first such group was an attempt to create a bar like the Chatsubo in
William Gibson's novel _Neuromancer_.  The group alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo
is now a bit of a mix of that plus a lot of people posting cyberpunk
style stories.

Another such group,, began as a place similar to
Callahan's but with a strong fantasy theme.  It and its sister group,, have now become places for building fantasy
stories in a VR environment.  The next group,,
continued the idea in a science fiction theme.

More like Callahan's is  It shares much of
the same philosophy as Callahan's, but is not so heavy on the VR.

*** The Growth of Callahan's

The newsgroup alt.callahans was created in November 1989 by Chris Davis.
Since then there have been over 100,000 posts to the group.  (The number
listed at your site may be smaller, since many sites did not receive the
group until much later.)  Nobody really knows how many posters have
contributed, but it must be several hundred, perhaps over a thousand.
Many of those have since disappeared, but now there are about a hundred
'regulars' and perhaps a similar number of semi-lurkers who post

It is impossible to tell exactly how many people read the group, but the
last official estimate (February 1995) was 61,000.  So it seems that
lurkers outnumber regular posters by quite a margin!

With the explosive growth of the Net, these numbers have been increasing
constantly, and it is likely they will continue to do so.  And even
today, the volume of posts in Callahan's can be quite daunting.  A
report from February 1995 listed alt.callahans as the 151st top
newsgroup by number of bytes, and 172nd top by number of articles, with
3100 articles, totalling 6300 kilobytes, posted during January 1995.
It is also interesting to note that Callahan's propagates to 60% of all
Usenet sites, which is very high for an alt.* group.

A few times people have suggested a split of alt.callahans in order to
make the group more structured and hence manageable.  Each time there
was a lot of discussion and a general consensus that splitting the
group would rob it of one of its chief virtues - diversity.  The great
range of topics and cross-linking of conversation threads is probably
the most important thing in maintaining that special and somewhat
magical atmosphere which seems to pervade the Place.  And that same
conclusion will almost certainly be reached any time someone ever
suggests that a split might be a good idea.

But a positive attitude did come out of all those discussions.  And that
attitude was that, if more people want to participate in a group like
Callahan's, we should simply create more such groups!  Then all the
newcomers can spread out over several new groups, and the size of each
will remain reasonable.  In the words of Nick Chopper, "Colonise
Cyberspace!"  The group was the first of
these, and there will probably be many more to come.

*** Archives and Databases

There is no single collected archive of all Callahan's posts.  Taldin
has an archive of the first 14 months or so (November 1989 to about
February 1991), but not in an easily accessible form.

frood has an archive of all posts received at his site since August 1991
to the present.  This archive numbers about 40,000 posts, and is well
over 100 megabytes in size - and obviously growing.  You can FTP single
month's worth of articles from (
The files are in GNU zip compressed tar format, and have names like:
e.g.   /pub/callahans/Y-1992/Aug92.tar.gz
Individual articles or Subject threads cannot be searched for or
retrieved.  If you have any questions about this archive, send e-mail to
frood at .

If anyone has the resources to set up a better article retrieval system
(including search facilities, for example) from such a large archive,
please contact frood to arrange details.

Red Bear ( has collected a database of as many
Patrons as he can find.  He makes a regular post, requesting information
from new Patrons for inclusion.  His database is in Paradox/dBase
format, and you can get a copy by contacting Red Bear.  The database
includes Patron names, e-addresses, RL location, favourite drink, and a
few other things.  You will _only_ be included in this database if you
send information directly to Red Bear.  For privacy reasons, he does not
collect information about people without their full consent.

*** Dedication and Credits

This Allabout is dedicated to:
Caeilte - The first to leave us.
The Artful Dodger - May you forever roam the deserts you loved so much
  and which you shared with so many of us.
Viola - Life was a stage - may the intermission be short.
Tony Kidson - Ever thoughtful, always wise, the words from your Bromley
  cat-warmer will be sorely missed.
None of you are forgotten.

The original Allabout file was written by Taldin the Blue Unicorn.
Nick Chopper maintained and upgraded the information for several years,
with the help of many un-named Callahan's Patrons.
This version was compiled by Danger Mouse, with much help and input of
text from both Taldin and Nick, as well as Firehawk, the Didi-Sprite,
kitten, /*, Jezebel, Draco, Elana Beach, Nicarra, Big Al, Aurora, frood,
Tink, John Ockerbloom, Rowan, and Red Bear.

If you have any suggestions for additions or changes to this file,
please send mail to Danger Mouse at .

- Danger Mouse.

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