Callahan's Place is a fictional bar invented by science-fiction author and inveterate punster Spider Robinson, first seen in the short-story collection Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Spider chose to Place the original Callahan's somewhere off Route 25A in Suffolk County on Long Island, New York, across the street from an all-night delicatessen. Many people have gone to Long Island and searched in vain for Callahan's Place without ever finding it. Sadly, it remains a fictional Place.
This, however, did not stop Spider's fans. In November 1989, alt.callahans appeared on Usenet, and subsequently various Internet incarnations of Callahan's Place have manifested themselves. The IRC version, #callahans, started out on EFnet, then moved to Undernet. A few years ago, when Undernet became almost unusable due to raging netsplits, some of us came here and colonized Freenode.net, where we rapidly became established as the unofficial primary social hangout on Freenode. (We were honored to have lilo, Head Anarch of Freenode, as one of our regular patrons up until his untimely death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver in Dallas, Texas.) Freenode offered us a number of things we couldn't get on Undernet, not least among them stability and nick registration.
Freenode #Callahans is one of the most recent incarnations of Callahan's Place on the 'Net. It will surely not be the last.
Callahan's Place, and #Callahans in its turn, is founded upon the premise that "Shared joy is increased; shared pain, lessened." It's a worldwide community of people who (mostly) get along, try to understand each other's points of view, and help each other out whenever they can. Like the fictional Callahan's Place, we have a barkeeper; ours is a bot, though. (Our barkeeper bot is Tom_Hauptmann; Mike Callahan is the bar bot on the Undernet #Callahans, and frankly, they need Mike's special magic more over there than we do.) Like the fictional Callahan's, we have a [virtual] fireplace and a [virtual] chalk line [three, in fact, at varying distances, from the bunny line at ten feet out to the the Black Diamond line at twenty-five], and like the fictional Callahan's, we have The Option.
Yup. The way it worked in the books was like this: All drinks cost fifty cents. The bar only took dollar bills. If all you had in your pocket was a fin, you went across the street to the all-night deli and changed it for ones. You could either take your fifty cents change from the cigar box of quarters on the end of the bar, or you could step to the chalk line, make a toast, and peg your empty glass into the fireplace. If you then chose to discuss your toast, people would listen, and offer whatever assistance they could; if you chose not to, people wouldn't pry. (The latter rule was enforced by Fast Eddie, a little man with a face like a foot who may just have been the best ragtime piano player alive.)
We don't have Fast Eddie, and you have to kind of imagine the fireplace and the chalk line. But we maintain the traditions of Callahan's Place as best we can in a virtual setting -- including no-holds-barred punning, and you will find there are punmeisters here who occasionally emit some of the most excruciating intentional abuses of the English language you've ever heard.
(Also in keeping with the fictional Callahan's Place, that's the only abuse we allow; we will not tolerate trolling or abusive behavior of any kind, and we respect our patrons' privacy. If someone doesn't want to talk about it, please do not pry.)
So, come on in, get yourself a drink from the bar, pull up a seat, sit down and enjoy. Take a look at the #Callahans portrait gallery if you like, or even submit your own photo. Get to know the bar cats, Grimes and Gridley (you can find their help file here), and take a few minutes to go browse through the FAQ. In addition to answers to some commonly-asked questions, it contains a quick summary of our informal ground-rules for code of conduct (which, fortunately, we very rarely have to invoke), as well as a quick primer on services provided by Freenode and what they can do for you.