Now that is a tough question. There are so many answers. To begin with, Callahan's is a fictional bar used as the setting in a series of science fiction stories by Spider Robinson. These stories, some shorts, some novels, are found in the books, "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon", "Time Travellers Strictly Cash", and "Callahan's Secret." Related stories can be found in "Callahan's Lady", "Lady Slings the Booze", and "Mary's Place."
Callahans is also alt.callahans; a usenet newsgroup which attempts to emulate some of the attitudes and philosophies propounded in the afore-mentioned stories. That is, the people who participate in this newsgroup more or less pretend to be at this fictional bar and spend their time there telling stories, sharing personal observations, giving advice, telling jokes, making truly, truly horrible puns, asking deep or silly questions and giving deep, silly or even deeply silly answers, having long debates on any and every subject, and in between all of this, having make-believe dances, parties, pillowfights, drinking imaginary toasts, trading virtual backrubs, hugs and kisses and above all, making and being friends.
Callahans is also #callahans, an irc channel for those who can't wait for days, hours, or even minutes to interact with other callahaners.
Above all, Callahans is the people who take part in whatever form it may take. It is not only books and internet exchanges. It is also people who have only communicated by computer getting together in the real world for what they call a real-space gathering. Callahaners have even begun holding annual conventions, called Callahanicons, so that people from all over the continent (and even further,) can get together for a weekend and have fun. And for those who can't travel hundreds or thousands of miles, there are some scattered Callahanicon Annexes, or you can join in solo via IRC at certain times.
Callahans is all about friendship, caring, communicating and making really, truly, horrible puns.
A glutton, are you? Still here? Well, for myself, it all began when a friend named John (AKA Prince John III), told me about alt.callahans. He'd learned about it from a mutual friend of ours named Jada. And Jada had learned about it from yet another mutual friend named Elizabeth (AKA T'Kee, the cat-centaur.) That was back in 1993.
I started reading in May and joined in the fun for real in July of that same year. I still remember the first three patrons who greeted me: Barbara AKA Kitten, Didi, AKA Didi-Sprite and Carl, AKA Speaker-To- Minerals (who, sadly, passed away a couple of years ago.) Since then, I have been in and out of The Place depending on how much time I have had available for playing on the internet.
In that time, I've made friends around the country and around the world. I've traded information, stories, songs, memories and jokes. I've commiserated with the tribulations of others and shared my own news, bad and good.
Well, for one thing, there was the virtual Halloween Party back in '93. The setting was a plantation in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. For my part, I wrote a horror story involving imaginary Cajun cousins (the specific people were imaginary, but I do have some very distant relatives among the Cajuns.)
Then there was the show-down pun-slinging contest. At the time, there was a massive flamewar going on in Callahans (rare, but not unknown.) It was so deeply affecting the mood of the place that I decided to lighten up matters by challenging another patron to a contest of puns. Of course, I'm no master punner and the guy I challenged was at that time generally recognized as the champion of the place. In fact, he had me pretty well out-punned just in the single posting in which he accepted my challenge. But I went ahead anyway. It was fun while it lasted.
Ah, heck. Why don't you just go and check out Callahans for yourself? And tell 'em Prophet sent you.
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