Friday, March 31, 2006


Someone at EMI's pressing plant needs to loosen up the hubs in their CD trays a bit. I just picked up Hank Mobley's Workout tonight and boy was the disc in there tight. It took me a few minutes to get loose, as I didn't want to get too forceful and snap the CD in half. Incidentally this is a just released remaster of this album, part of the ongoing Rudy Van Gelder reissue series remastered by the man himself.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Can Call Me Reverend Gueguen.

I was just checking out my e-mail, and noted a message with the subject line "GOOD DAY Dear REVEREND." It turned out to be another scam letter, this one claiming to be from the son of Jonas Savimbi. The text of the letter indicates that its not a case of the writer not knowing what the term reverend means, as it talks about the supposed money in question being used to build places of worship and winning souls to the Lord, and their desire to find a suitable clergyman to work with. Why the scammer decided to try the reverend schtick is beyond me. Is there someone out there in cyberland who has the utterly mistaken impression I'm a man of the cloth? I just hope some naive pastor doesn't let visions of expanding his congregation short circuit his common sense and end up in big trouble because of these guys.


Yesterday I picked up an extra dollar and five cents by happenstance. Today this was balanced out when I lost one of my Staedler Lumocolor permanent markers that I use for bill marking. Worse, I think the price on these has gone up, so they sell individually for 2 bucks or so with the tax. Looks like I may have to consider buying them in cheaper packaged sets, if I can find them, or switch to the competing but easier to find Sharpie brand markers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I ate way too much today. Way too much. Anyone who knew me in my school days would likely be surprised how much I weigh these days since I was such a skinny little freak. I keep telling myself I'm going to cut back on some of the overindulgence of food, and seriously, I must get a handle on it. At least I did some walking around today to burn off some of this week's calories. Tomorrow will be better, that I know.


I was walking by a Coke vending machine today and noticed the display said 1.05. Out of curiosity I pressed the coin return and out popped 4 quarters and a nickle. I could only wonder why whoever dumped that buck five in there didn't get their coins back, but their loss was my gain. I sincerely doubt they were going to come back and get it if I just left it there.

Beverage vending machines, specifically soft drink machines, make up the majority of product vending machines in public locations in Saskatoon. There are occasional food vending machines, such as on the University of Saskatchewan campus, but they're very uncommon. Why this is the case is something I won't speculate on.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hello Japan.

Things sure have been busy here today, especially compared to yesterday. For the first time ever its not hits from the US or Canada that are predominant, but Japan. A couple of Japanese visitiors were quite interested in the blog today, pushing up the hits, and a couple more have just been visiting. Most interesting.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Slow Day

Everyone must have decided to stay offline today, as my hits went way down. Of course it didn't help that I didn't post anything until now. I just didn't have anything worth writing about.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bad With the Good.

Looking at the forecast you can tell spring is on the way for Saskatoon. But unfortunately with the warm weather comes the bad. For some its worrying about their basements and so on flooding. There's all the snow you need to shovel off your lawn so it melts quickly. But most importantly the most annoying facet is the return of insects. I just smushed one in my bathroom a bit ago, a silverfish or whatever it was. And soon we'll have to start thinking about the camelback crickets that appear in our basement every summer. At least we didn't have any mice visit us this winter, as they sometimes have in the past.

Buck Owens, RIP

I seem to have been making a lot of posts over the past few months about celebrity deaths. Unfortunately I have another to report. Country music legend Buck Owens has died at 75. Owens was considered one of the key players in developing the "Bakersfield sound" associated with California country music in the '60s and '70s. It was more gutbucket version of country at a time when Nashville had already become quite slick in so many of its productions. Unfortunately Owens is probably better known these day as the long serving host of the show Hee Haw than for his music.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Magazine on YouTube.

Time for some more YouTube links. This time its to some vids of Magazine, Howard Devoto's late '70s New Wave group. First up we have "Model Worker," where you get to see a glimpse of John McGeoch's famed MXR Flanger on a stick. Next is "Shot by Both Sides." I was hoping to find the video for "Feed the Enemy" since the Launch online video service used to have it, but no such luck.

More Caganism.

I know. I know.

Tough luck.

Anyways, here's Josh Cagan's MySpace page.

Hmmm, perhaps I should write something about John Cage one of these days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Toppamono, a review.

Today I finished reading Toppamono: Outlaw, Radical, Suspect. My Life in Japan's Underworld by Manabu Miyazaki. Its the story of the first 50 years of Miyazaki's life. Born into a Kyoto yakuza family Miyazaki has been a leftwing student radical at one of Japanese top universities in the turbulent '60s, a freelance journalist, head of his family's demolition firm, a bodyguard, a participant in the real estate boom of Japan's late '80s "bubble economy," and a suspect in one of Japan's most notorious extortion cases, the Glico Morinaga affair. Toppamono is his first hand account of these adventures and misadventures. Originally released in 1996 it sold more that 600 thousand copies in Japan, and has now been translated into English.

Its an entertaining book. Miyazaki makes no excuses and gives no apologies for spending much of his life on the wrong side of the law. He also provides a glimpse into a part of Japanese society unfamiliar to most foreigners, and probably unfamiliar to many Japanese. He became interested in Marxism as a teen and you can see hints of it in some of his comments on Japanese society and economic structure. Conversely his interest in Marxism may have been fostered by his yakuza background given that members of Japan's underclasses, ethnic Koreans and the traditional Burakumin "untouchables," frequently end up as yakuza given their limited opportunities in Japanese society. The reader is likely at times to shake their head and smile at the brazeness that Miyazaki often used in his business dealings, like selling the same load of scrap to two different people, or literally making a neighbouring gravel pit vanish when the one his firm was using ran out of materials.

One thing I would have liked was some pictures, especially of the immediate post war period of Miyazaki's childhood in Kyoto. It would have been especially helpful regarding a poignant scene when Miyazaki returned to Kyoto in the late '80s after a long absense. Getting off the train he found that the area around the train station, where he had spent much of his childhood, had been flattened and turned into a concrete barren by the very real estate speculation he was involved with at the time. It would also be interesting to be able to compare the Miyazaki of the mid '80s with the "Fox Eyed Man" sought by police in the Glico Morinaga case.

Oddly the book doesn't really go into the details of Miyazaki's adult family life. He was married to the same woman twice, and had at least one son with her, but they only come up when Miyazaki sent them to Tokyo during some of his legal troubles in 1980, and he sees his son's first day of school at an exclusive Tokyo grade school when it is shown on TV. Nor does he discuss whatever other romantic involvements he might have had. Perhaps his intent was to protect his family from public scrutiny regarding events they had no actual role in.

Despite these shortcomings Toppamono is recommended to anyone interested in Japanese culture beyond its traditional arts, high tech wonders, and glossy pop culture.

Miyazaki has official websites in both Japanese and English, although the English on the latter can be a bit funky.

Spelling Annoying.

Looking back at my old posts I notice places where things are misspelled and find it rather annoying. Unfortunately they're usually things that a spell checker wouldn't catch, like quite for quiet. If I was using nice fifty buck words like mesothelioma or antidisestablishmentarianism all the time I wouldn't be all that annoyed at the errors.

Yes, Yet Another Undergrads Post

Don't worry, those of you uninterested in this series. This should be my last post about it for a bit. Well, maybe. In any case since I've mentioned Pete Williams online activities I'd be remiss if I didn't post a link to Josh Cagan's blog. Its not exactly the most frequently updated blog on the planet, but Undergrads fans might be interested. BTW, if you're passing through and have a blog or webpage related to the series(especially if you were involved in making it) leave me a note in the comments section of whatever the latest post is and I may post a link to it. Emphasis on the may. If your page is a massive collection of your nude fanart of the pizza guy with the high voice I doubt I'll be posting it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pete Williams on MySpace

This time there's an actual Undergrads related post to go with this picture. In his ongoing campaign to generate some action regarding the series Undergrads creator Pete Williams has set up a site on MySpace. He seems really determined given how active he currently is online.

(Yes, I know the picture doesn't really go with the post. I just wanted to use it since I went to the trouble of grabbing it.)

A Different Kind of Casino.

Its been a while since I've posted a random Japanese culture link, and since I'm bored I'll post one here. Its for cotton & billawtm web, the homepage of Cotton Casino and Bill Lawton. No, Cotton Casino is not a place but a person, the former synth player, beer drinker, and cigarette smoker for Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO, the Japanese neo-psychedelic group. No, I don't know why she calls herself that. Its probably none of our business.


Posting about King of Vegas got me thinking about cards, but not gaming cards. Rather it got me thinking about all the cards we all seem to carry these days. In my own wallet I found:

A Rogers Video rental card.
My University of Saskatchewan ID card, 1985 vintage.
My Social Insurance Number card.
My dad's old CAA card.
An M&M Meats Max card.
My Saskatchewan Health Services card.
My Visa credit card.
My Saskatoon Credit Union bank card.
My Saskatoon Public Library library card.
My Air Miles card.
And my Shoppers Optimum card.

And I'm travelling light compared with some folks. Just imagine how many barrels of oil a day go into just producing a bunch of stupid cards we don't really need.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


A quick check shows there will be a King of Vegas 2. I guess that means the ratings must have been good.

The King of Vegas Is Crowned.

Tonight was the final episode of Spike's King of Vegas. It turned out I was half right about the outcome. For a while now I had suspected that Alan Borman would be in the final showdown. But I had expected it to be with Hollywood Dave Stann, a professional blackjack player whose primary mission seemed to be to be as annoying as possible to everyone. Stann and Borman didn't like each other, but then who did like Stann, other than maybe David Williams? Their climatic battle actually turned out to be last week, and Borman took out Stann. So the final 3 were Borman, David Williams, and 83 year old Vegas fixture Jerry Goldberg. Williams had a string of bad luck tonight, but with a couple of his moves you almost have to wonder if he didn't deliberately lose. As a gambling pro Williams has already made close to 5 million bucks at a mere 25 years old, and can easily make the 1 million bucks he would have won tonight elsewhere. So the final battle was between Borman and Goldberg, with it all coming down to a final hand of Texas Hold 'Em poker where both players bet all their chips. Borman ended up with a pair of aces and won, becoming the first King of Vegas. Not bad for an amateur.

In a "blink and you missed it" moment I'm sure I saw Jon Finkel in the crowd at the start of the show, no doubt there to cheer on his friend Williams.

If Spike produces another season of King of Vegas episodes my suggestion is that they drop the horse race betting. Personally I found it the least interesting of the games shown, and I suspect the producers may have realised that as well since they only used it twice. At least they didn't do something really silly like having a slot machine segment.

How About Some Fresh JFK Ideas?

I was just reading a bit from a thread on Usenet on some Kennedy assassination program. One of the posters claimed he was killed by Lyndon Johnson and the Mob conspiring together. How dull. You'd think after all these years someone could come up with some new suspects. How about:

Aristotle Onassis? After all Jackie eventually ended up as his wife. Perhaps he decided years beforehand she had to be his, and his first move was to get rid of the competition, JFK. If anyone could arrange a hit and get away with it one of the world's richest men could.

Jackie Kennedy? Yeah, even "Saint Jackie" would get pissed off at his roving eye sooner or later. Maybe she finally had enough.

The French? Lots of Americans currently hate the French. I'm sure with a little bit of work somebody could come up with some nefarious reason De Gaulle wanted Kennedy wacked.

I'm sure with some work someone could come up with all sorts of interesting candidates. And given the funhouse mirror quality of the Kennedy assassination fandom, which arguably you could call what the debate has become, anyone who comes up with a new theory, no matter how outlandish, will find the evidence, and the "evidence," proves their theory.

(Of course now someone will tell me there is an Onassis theory, or a Jackie theory, or a French theory floating about. It wouldn't surprise me in the least.)

I'm en-titled

I'm going to try a little experiment for a while and see if I can come up with actual titles for these posts. Perhaps it will spruce up the search engine hits.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

There are few things nicer than picking up some CDs cheap. I got lucky and came across a couple at McNally Robinson Booksellers here in Saskatoon. They're Inference by Marilyn Crispell and Tim Berne, and yet can spring by Myra Melford and Marty Ehrlich. Both came to under 13 bucks with the tax. Interestingly both are piano and reed jazz duet albums. The Melford/Ehrlich disk is more straight ahead than the Crispell/Berne one. Seeing how cheap they were I figured I'd better bite before someone else did. There are a couple of somewhat more expensive reissues of albums on the JMT label I'm tempted to snag eventually. The packaging looks really nice on those. In the much more immediate future I'm thinking of getting something by Lee Morgan or Hank Mobley on Blue Note to go along with the several Blue Note Rudy Van Gelder series reissues I picked up a few months back.

(Yep, I stuck a lot of links in this post. Check 'em out!)
Todays feature article at Wikipedia is on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious antisemitic forgery. I was curious to see if the article would have one of those "the neutrality of this article is in dispute" warnings that Wikipedia has with some articles on controversial topics. It doesn't, which no doubt drives some racist ninnies to distraction. Of course some of them don't really care if its real or not. One antisemite on Usenet once posted to me that it didn't matter if they were real or not because it accurately reflected what Jews were up to anyways.
I was just doing some searching for skeptical commentary on a book called Cosmos and Psyche by an author named Richard Tarnas after hearing an interview with him on CBC Radio One's Tapestry. Not much out there yet, as its a very new book. Part of Tarnas's idea is that astrology is a worthwhile indication of some "higher purpose" of existence because of its supposed correlation to historical events and the behaviour of historical figures. But from what Tarnas said his correlations are the same old copouts. That is the connections are sufficiently vague for him to find the results he was looking for. For example he claims that a conjunction, or perhaps it was an alignment, of Uranus and Pluto resulted in a time of revolution and creativity between 1960 and 1972. But these are arbitrary dates. I could just as easily pick the period 1954 to 1970 and come up with some other astrological correlation. After all in 1954 Elvis made his first recordings, the French lost in Vietnam, and Eisenhower became US president. In 1970 Jimi Hendrix died and the Beatles broke up. Or perhaps 1963 to 1974 would be a better choice, since the period started with the assassination of JFK and ended with the impeachment of Richard Nixon.

I also had to chuckle that Tarnas subtly compared himself to such pioneers as Copernicus and Galileo at the end of his interview. Apparently he doesn't know that "they laughed at Galileo too!" is an incredibly common cry of defense amongst all sorts of promoters of complete nonsense like health quacks and promoters of ridiculous perpetual motion machines.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Following up my last post here is a much longer skeptical article on the Aviation Week Blackstar story.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Reading James Bamford's article "Big Brother Is Listening" in the new issue of The Atlantic made me wonder, as I'm sure it did other readers, whether I'm on anyone's watch lists. I can think of no reason I would be, but as the article notes there is no way to know unless you start to have problems as a result. And there's definitely no way of knowing what search parameters might end up with you being on such a list. For example would the phrase "We're interested in ways to avoid NSA surveillance" cause a computer at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade to flash on some analyst's screen "Hey, guy, you might want to look at this?" Could going to school at some point with someone with a distant connnection to al Qaeda or the IRA subject you to NSA interest? Its disturbing to think of the ways something you've posted on Usenet, written in a blog, or said in jest over the telephone could make you a target. Its also disturbing to think of how overly zealous search criteria could lead to resources being wasted on those who are of no threat to anyone, and lessen those resources applied to legitimate targets.

Speaking of high tech spying I also read an article in Aviation Week & Space Technology about Project Blackstar, an alleged US spaceplane project which may or may not have seen operational use in recent years. What's especially interesting is the idea the mothership for this craft may have been based on the long cancelled B70 Valkyrie trisonic bomber of the early '60s. The cover of the issue and the artwork within certainly made me think of the Valkyrie even before I read the actual article. Not everyone believes the idea is credible, this article from Jeffrey F Bell being an example.
Good news for US sci fi fans. The Sci Fi Channel will premiere the new Doctor Who tonight. Hopefully they won't chop too much out of it for more ads or for content worries. Of course Canadian viewers already saw the first season of the new Who last year, something kind of unusual for North American TV, where US stations often get such programs first.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Perhaps its my imagination. But I seem to have received a lot less spam today than I usually do. Are the spammers on vacation? Even the Nigerian scammers seem to be less active.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Now here is an interesting blog that I stumbled across at One Million Blogs. Its supposedly MC Hammer's blog. If that isn't Hammer its one of the better hoax sites I've seen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Marriage makes for strange juxtapositions. I don't know about you, but comedic actor Jack Black and the great jazz bassist Charlie Haden are two people I wouldn't have associated with each other. But now Haden is Black's father in law, as Black has married Haden's daughter Tanya. Kind of interesting to see Black marry someone his own age instead of some 20 year old swimsuit model or something.
Passing by a bookstore today I saw a book with the title Evil Serial Killers. Personally the "evil' part seems rather redundant. Evil as opposed to what, all those serial killers who raped and killed a bunch of people, but only killed those who deserved it?

Monday, March 13, 2006

I was just over at the IMDB looking to see if any sort of remake of 1977's robot horror film Demon Seed is in the works. Frankly I'm surprised that someone hasn't decided to remake this one given some of the stuff that is being remade, such as the just released remake of The Hills Have Eyes. After seeing that no remake is apparently currently under production I took a look at some of their entertainment news headlines.

For some reason I was imagining future obituaries of some celebs in the show this morning. Why? Beats me. One of them was Sean Connery. Now I find out that Connery has just had surgery to remove a tumour from his kidney. The tumour is apparently benign. Coincidence can be amusing.

Bill Paxton and Chloe Sevigny, co-stars of the new HBO series Big Love, apparently got very upset when one of the hosts of the TV talk show The View brought up the oral sex scene Sevigny did in the Vincent Gallo film The Brown Bunny. The duo kept quite until the segment ended, then let the hosts have it off camera, Paxton apparently vowing never to appear on the show again. The offending question apparently was edited out for the west coast feed of the show. Although its really not the kind of topic you'd want to discuss on a show like that I can't feel sorry for Paxton and Sevigny. After all they were on promoting a show revolving around a man with 3 wives airing on HBO, a network known for pushing the limits of TV with shows like The Sopranos. Obviously the topic of sex would be likely to come up. I can only wonder about the taste of someone like Sevigny, given that she did the scene in the first place, and given that Vincent Gallo, who wrote, directed, and starred in the film, and was the recipient of Sevigny's sexual attentions in the film, apparently is a little bit of a loon. Just check out his miscellaneous merchandise page, including the requirements to buy his sperm.(Of course its possible Gallo has a very warped sense of humour and all of that is intended as one huge joke. If so, Vince, it doesn't work. Trust me.)

I was also interested to read in the article about Macaulay Culkin and drugs that he is 25. Time sure flies. Too bad for Culkin that in a lot of ways he's become a classic example of a child star, one whose adulthood has so far been less than terrific.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hmmm, if you have a blog but can't think of anything to post on a specific day, does that count as writer's block?

To be more serious it would be interesting to know how many blogs there are that are effectively inactive. That is the person who started them has abandoned them. I would guess a lot. Especially since there are likely a lot of folks who sign up for an account on one of the blog sites, post a couple of times, and then post no more because blogging really isn't for them. I know that when I first started using a commercial ISP I actually activated some free webspace they offered, but never actually came up with anything to do with it. Blogs are obviously going to be the same.

BTW if you're waiting for a picture of me on here or on my Blogger profile, don't bother. My appearance shall remain a mystery except for those I have met in person.
Some peculiar rumours(no pun intended) have been floating around for a while now regarding Fleetwood Mac. Specifically there is talk the original lineup of the group might get back together, including Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green on guitar. Frankly its the kind of thing that many will be watching just as much for its sheer potential for disaster as its possibility for good music. Jeremy Spencer joined the controversial Children of God religious group in 1971, literally dropping out of the group and the mainstream world in an instant. Green went on an 3 day LSD trip in 1970 and never really recovered, and has gone through numerous periods of mental instability since. Although both perform music these days its hard to think that they'll produce anything near the quality that made the original Fleetwood Mac so well remembered by many '60s music fans. Green at the very least is well known for the inconsistency of his live appearances.

Fleetwood Mac's third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, also ended up rather a mess. He spent much of the last 25 years homeless, although he reportedly has a bit more stable life now. Why 3 men who ended up with personal problems like that ended up in the same band is a probably unanswerable question.

Its really surprising we don't hear more talk of a Fleetwood Mac curse. Perhaps its because the post 1974 lineup with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham became so hugely successful, and its members have managed to get past all the problems that plagued them over the years. This success is of course a problem for any potential reunion of the early Mac. Its pretty safe to assume many people don't realise there even was a Fleetwood Mac before 1975's self titled album. These folks aren't likely to be happy seeing the group expecting to hear "Go Your Own Way" and getting a ten minute version of "Black Magic Woman" instead.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A big hello to the people of Wallaceburg Ontario. One of you gave me my first Willy hit in more than a week, and my first Ontario hit in a long time. I also came across an unmarked Canadian Money Tracker bill as well when I entered a pair of twenties I was about to spend on Chinese food.
I'm currently sitting here watching a Chuck Norris movie called The Hitman. (Yeah, I know, I should be watching something with class. So sue me.) But since its on Spike TV the swearing has been heavily edited. And very badly edited. Its rather jarring when the swearing is replaced by people who don't even sound like the original actors. But hey! Its got Al Waxman, Bruno Gerussi, and Ken Pogue in it. Just imagine it, Nick Adonidas as a gangster.
I was going to write this earlier, but I decided to wait until a new day began here. No one seemed to be reading anything Friday night anyway.

Its hard to watch a TV commercial break these days without running into some pop tune in an ad. But for all the pop tunes we hear we can all think of ones that would probably make good ad material that haven't been used. An example I was listening to tonight was Planet P's "Power Tools" from the self titled debut album. With its driving synths and guitars and chorus lyrics of "Power tools, to make life easy. Power tools, to make life fun" it would seem a perfect song for a computer or computer software ad, or perhaps a car ad of some sort.

If by chance some ad exec wanders through here and decides this is a good idea, I want a cut of the contract, okay?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Another fun video from YouTube. This time its a Japanese piece about a cat and his poultry friend. Don't worry, no knowledge of Japanese is needed to get a smile from this clip.
One more space related link that may be of interest. Its an article from the online version of Desert Exposure magazine discussing plans to build a spaceport for commercial space tourism in New Mexico. One of the players is Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic firm. The article notes that Branson's Virgin Group took in 10 billion dollars of revenue last year. And to think it all came from Branson owning a record shop and the success of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Perhaps Branson should give Oldfield, an aviation enthusiast himself, a free ride on one of his spaceflights.
More good news from space tonight. NASA's Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter has successfully entered orbit around the red planet. Now the orbiter will spend the next few months gradually altering its current orbit to one suited to observing Mars. NASA's 1993 and 1999 attempts to send exploration craft to Mars failed, and you can read James Oberg's article on the reasons why they failed here.
A piece of spam I keep receiving has the message line "We can cure any desease." Apparently inability to spell properly isn't one of them.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It seems that we may see a new genre of music, synth music from cats, if this post is any indication: Matrixsynth: Kitty Goes Modular Given that cats can probably only hit a couple of keys at a time I suspect they'll do a lot of sequencing instead of real time performance.
This is very cool. There's a new possible site for life in our solar system. Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft indicates Saturn's moon Enceladus has liquid water on it. Combined with the detection of CO2, methane, and propane on the moon scientists say this means organic life as we know it could exist on Enceladus. Just don't expect it to be a little green man. Rather if life exists there it will probably be like the organisms that live deep in Earth's oceans near geothermal vents. Still, if life is found elsewhere in our solar system this will be the first evidence life exists elsewhere besides Earth.
How's this for an interesting idea? The One Million Blogs page. Dave, the fellow behind it, wants to build a website with a grid of one million blogs. For a buck he'll sell you a 30 by 30 pixel square that will link to your blog. You can buy several squares if you want. Once he reaches the 1 million point he'll pay 580 randomly chosen blogs who have signed up to advertise other blogs on their blog. The big winner will get 100 grand. I decided that it was worth the buck twenty to buy a square on the grid, as its less than the price of the bag of chips I had today. I'm number 312. Stupid Evil Bastard, who is on the link list here, has also signed up and is on grid 169. If you click on the button I've just added below my Adsense ads you can see it for yourself.

There are many images that come to mind for the typical Canadian when the word Japan is heard. Homeless people isn't one of them. In reality like any other country Japan has its share of homeless, many of them victims of the collapse of the so-called "bubble economy" at the start of the 1990s. Its 3 such homeless people who are heroes of the anime Tokyo Godfathers.

Drunken gambler Gin, transvestite Hana, and teen runaway Miyuki are part of Tokyo's homeless population. Living together in a small cardboard hovel they comprise a sort of ersatz family, making up for the real families they have lost, or in Hana's case never had. After attending a Christmas Eve pageant/evangelical meeting Hana makes a wish for a Christmas miracle, perhaps the baby "she" knows she can never have. Much to their surprise the trio soon comes across an abandoned baby. Naming the little girl Kiyoko they soon set off on a journey across Tokyo, hoping the scant clues they've uncovered will lead them to the child's mother.

Tokyo Godfathers is a wonderful movie. The story revolves around chance, coincidence, and happenstance, and the movie gleefully shoves it in our face. For example when the trio stumbles across a Yakuza boss pinned under his car in the snow they rescue him, and this rescue leads to them attending the wedding of his daughter. The groom? The man who Gin lost so much money to gambling, resulting in his eventual slide on to the streets. What in many movies is often a sign of bad writing in this movie is an amusing part of the whole experience. Another clever idea used in this film concerns a Spanish speaking character who doesn't speak Japanese. Instead of showing the viewer via subtitles what she is saying her lines are left untranslated, and we're made to get the gist of what she's saying by her actions. This was an element of the film in its original Japanese release, and its left intact in the subtitled English language release.

The movie doesn't ignore the problems of being a street person. One sequence features Gin comforting an old man who is just about to die, preventing him from dieing alone. Unfortunately this results in him being assaulted by a group of college students just because he is homeless. We see other reactions, such as those who are still willing to treat them as human beings worthy of respect, or who are willing to behave with stereotypical Japanese politeness even to the lowest of the low. The story also puts forth the idea in several places that many Japanese aren't all that far from ending up just like our heroes, that anyone could be just a few steps away from losing everything, or even of losing their lives, no matter how well off or innocent they may be.

If you're looking for giant robots, superhuman warriors, and jailbait girls with sex kitten personalities and triple D breasts look elsewhere. This isn't that kind of anime. (The two times we see bare breasts they're being used for their primary design purpose, feeding a baby.) Rather Tokyo Godfathers is the perfect film to show if you want to demonstrate to someone that Japanese animators produce more that those shows with the weird looking characters with the big eyes and funny hair the kids watch.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One of the ads that has turned up on my Google Adsense banner this week is for information on how to improve your Google Adsense returns. I decided to check it out. Its basically a video ad for some software that will supposedly allow you to optimise your Adsense settings. I found it amusing that the guy doing the narrating came across this program when he was trying to find ways to improve his Adsense revenue. He was upset about only making 300 bucks a month. Only 300. For most of us in blog land we'd be ecstatic if we generated enough hits to make anywhere near that amount of money a month.

Obviously part of the secret to making lots of money with Adsense is to use the right keywords on your page to generate the highest paying ads. Supposedly combinations of asbestos, disease, mesothelioma, and lawsuit are one example of good keyword combinations. But this of course brings up the question of exactly why you're doing a website. Are you doing it to provide content you hope will be of interest to others, or are you simply trying to make money? If you do a lot of search engine searches on various topics you've likely run into pages by now that are nothing but Adsense "traps." That is they'll be something like a few photos of GM Hummers and a couple of Adsense banners, the hope of course being you'll click on the ads in search of whatever it is you're interested in regarding Hummers. People who have webpages like that obviously are interested strictly in the revenue they'll make from ad banner clicks.

For me trying such manipulations with this blog is something I'm not interested in doing. After all this would require me to deliberately write about things that might generate high paying Adsense ads, and this would stilt the ramblings this blog is supposed to be about. If I want to write about Iraqi currency trading or whatever it will have to be because something about the topic catches my attention, not because I hope I'll make a bunch of money off of it. Besides, given the small number of daily hits I get it probably wouldn't be worth the effort.

If you're looking for the Undergrads DVD set in Canada check out CDPlus if there's one near you. I was in one yesterday and they had it for $15.99, the cheapest I've seen yet and a buck cheaper than Wal Mart. If only I'd known. That fancy booze you were gonna buy? Buy the DVD set instead. Just look at the before and after shots of Jesse and see what you'll avoid.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More crappy news to report. Malian guitarist/vocalist Ali Farka Toure has died of bone cancer. Ironically he was just the cover artist on Folk Roots magazine, as he had just released his first album in 5 years. Its not clear how old he was, as although he claimed to be born in 1939 he wasn't really sure of the date.
Today's first post unfortunately revolves around stuff that sucks.

First off we have the death of Dana Reeve, wife of the late actor Christopher Reeves, at age 44 of lung cancer. This comes a year and an half after Christopher Reeve's death, as well as the death of Mrs. Reeve's own mother last year of ovarian cancer. I suspect we'll soon see more nonsense about the "curse of Superman" as a result.

Minnesota Twins great Kirby Puckett has died of a stroke at 45. Puckett's career was cut short in 1996 when he lost vision in one eye due to glaucoma. Puckett's life after baseball was troubled, and he apparently had put on a lot of weight in recent years that may have contributed to the stroke.

Greek musician Yanni, who became well known for his brand of glosssy New Age music, has been arrested on domestic battery charges. Apparently he doesn't find his own music sufficiently soothing enough. For several years Yanni had a relationship with actress Linda Evans of Dysnasty fame.

And here in Saskatoon the price of gas went up 8 cents a litre today to 98.9 cents. I doubt I'm the only one who is not too happy with the oil companies today.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I think this is a neat cartoon so I figured I'd pass it along.
Sometimes I just have no luck. I managed to get two different vehicles stuck today. If I could I'd probably just park the damn things, but I know I'll have to do some more driving in the next few days. And there's a freezing rain warning out tonight, with 5 cms of snow predicted for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Exactly how clueless are some people? Apparently several fans of American Idol winner Clay Aiken have lodged a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission because of stories Aiken's private life might not match his public one, and are also considering a class action lawsuit. They're comparing this to a manufacturer hiding that a product is defective. You'd think anyone over the age of say 7 or 8 would realise that the pop world is full of artifice.
Once again I find myself wondering about CBC's budget priorities. This week Peter Mansbridge will be hosting The National from Khandahar in Afghanistan. Frankly there is no need for this. I can only imagine how much this kind of thing costs, but its not hard to guess that Mansbridge's various on location broadcasts each year probably end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. This is money that would be better spent on hiring more reporters, cameramen and so on. Let the foreign correspondants do their job, and keep Mansbridge in Toronto where he belongs.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Tsk tsk. No one came and shovelled snow like I asked them, so I was just out doing it. Surely there is some other blogger willing to visit and let me be lazy?
Well, here's some porn for certain folks.

Synth porn that is, for any music types passing through.

Hah, now a bunch of morons will waste their time by coming here instead of getting another hit for some poor girl with no clothes on.

This post has been brought to you by Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Riot in Lagos."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Does anyone want to come to my house tomorrow and shovel snow? After getting 15 centimetres earlier in the week we might get 10 or 15 more tomorrow and early Sunday. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm watch for the area. I need some exercise, but not that much at once!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Yep, another day, another post, another Undergrads pic.

I sat and watched "Screw Week" with Pete Williams commentary on the episode running. Its not likely to be labeled the greatest commentary ever but it was still interesting. I also watched the clip of Williams doing the character voices, which was amusing. I'd kind of hoped it would include a shot of Jene Yeo, aka the voice of Jesse. But given that he admitted in the commentary that Jesse's regular outfit was pretty much identical to one Ms. Yeo liked to wear when they went to university together its reasonable to assume she looks a lot like her onscreen conterpart.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I did my duty today.

Yeah, I've seen it over and over. Taped it. Even downloaded some of the episodes. But really, there's just something right about supporting a TV series you like with your meager funds by buying the DVDs. Of course being able to get a complete season of 13 episodes for just under 20 bucks is kind of an incentive. I was going to order through, but a visit to the local den of evil, aka Wal Mart, turned up several copies, one of which came home with me.

Who knows? Maybe if enough Undergrads fans buy the DVD the show will be continued in some form. I doubt it would be a full blown batch of new TV episodes, but in this day and age there are other outlets for creative endeavours if you have the finances.