Saturday, March 31, 2007

Not A Critical Darling.

Are you a fan of the Left Behind series of religiously inspired novels? If so you probably won't like slactivist's ongoing critique of the title book of the series. But for many others it will be a fascinating look at this highly popular, and in my opinion highly silly, tale. The responses in the comments section are also quite interesting, and often head off on tangents inspired by observations on Left Behind. Supposedly the combined series and its spinoffs have sold some 55 million copies. Presumably most readers actually think this stuff is true to what may happen, but who can really know. Some folks obviously read these book for the sheer badness of them.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday With Fred.

No, I'm not turning this into a YouTube blog. But I couldn't pass this one up.

In the latest issue of Signal To Noise magazine there's a review of a December weekend of gigs in New York with veteran British musicians Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, and Tim Hodgkinson, 3 of the core members of the group Henry Cow. And what should I find on YouTube? Footage from that weekend. This is the kind of thing I like about YouTube, being able to see things I would never get the chance to because of location and time, although apparently this material will come out on DVD. It's not the same as seeing them live, but better than not seeing them at all.

As as extra bonus here's some more recent Frith, this time performing with Japanese guitarist Otomo Yoshihide.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

I picked up a copy of the 2007 Ibanez Guitars catalogue today. It includes headshots of various Ibanez players. Looking at the hairdos on some of them you wonder if they realise it's 2007. Of course if you have the same hair style long enough there's a chance it will become popular again. But if you're a guy and too long goes by you may not have enough hair left when your prefered 'do does become hip again to pull it off.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday With Mike.

Here's something I may continue with. We'll see.

From his performance at Montreux in 1981 here's Mike Oldfield with a live version of "Punkadiddle," first released on the 1979 album Platinum. The song was said to be Oldfield's response to punk, which he had little fondness for, unlike some of his contemporaries. (Although at 26 he wasn't much older, if at all, than some of the actual members of punk bands were.) He even claimed at one point that punk was almost an insult to music. The fact that his label, Virgin, signed quite a few punk bands while not allowing Oldfield what he felt was sufficient freedom in what he put out has been suggested as part of the reason for his emnity.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Context is so often everything. In the winter I don't like shovelling snow. In the spring I do, and miss it once it's all gone. This of course has to do with the fact that when I've shovelling it in spring it's to help it to melt faster, versus the winter when it's just to get it out of the way so people can use the sidewalks. A much more positive result for the former. It's also good exercise, which I can with more of these days.

Monday, March 19, 2007


If you're old enough to remember the early '80s you may remember the song "867-5309/Jenny" by the group Tommy Tutone. The song peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982. As you might imagine when the song became a hit that phone number caused a lot of trouble for phone companies across North America. People phoned it to find out what was on the other end, much to the chagrin of whoever had the number at the time. Other people tried to get the number assigned to them by the phone company. Somehow I got thinking about the song today, and having a bit of time while waiting for a bus I dialed the number into a pay phone. When I did the digital display on the phone asked me to deposit $2.60. I have no idea why it did that, and you'll forgive me if I don't potentially waste $2.60 trying it from my home phone to see what happens if you do dial it. I've seen a couple of sites online that claim it's inactive for this area code, 306, so perhaps it's simply set up so that pay phones give out that ridiculous price so people won't phone the number.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Where Are You, Gene?

It sometimes seems like you find out about pretty much everyone on the Internet. But of course this isn't really true. People often fall through the gaps. For example I was listening to Soul Message by Richard "Groove" Holmes this afternoon, and decided to see what I could find out about the guitarist on that recording, Gene Edwards. Unfortunately although his name comes up via Google none of the references provide details about Edwards himself, just his involvement in various recording sessions. He is, or maybe by now was, Canadian, and that's about all I know. That, and that he often played with a rather distorted guitar sound, much to the chagrin of some listeners. Personally I think it's kind of neat to hear something besides the treble completely rolled back sound most often heard with straight ahead players.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


One thing the recent warm weather has brought that we don't want is mice. We've caught at least five of them over the last couple of days. Where they're coming from is a good question. There have been traps in the basement throughout the winter, so it seems very unlikely they've been here for very long, but it seems odd to be finding them at the end of winter.

Tim's TV Talk.

Time for me to cut into Brent McKee's territory a bit. Too bad this isn't Tuesday, as the title would have been even more alliterative.

CBC announced this week that ratings for Little Mosque On The Prairie have been terrific. The premiere episode received 2.2 million viewers, a record for a CBC series premiere, while the 8 episodes of the series as a whole generated an average of 1.2 million viewers an episode. These are the kind of numbers generally only generated in Canada by American shows, a level of success also achieved by CTV's Corner Gas, which receives an average of 1.7 million viewers an episode. The success of Little Mosque will no doubt get the Mark Steyns of the world ranting that it's all a plot by those evil lefty multiculturalists to sell us out in the coming Clash of Civilisations, given that the series doesn't portray every Muslim as a potential terrorist third columnist.

I personally have not seen the series, as I don't watch much series television these days. Not to mention that I find the title rather grating and cheesy.

You soon may not be seeing any CBC programming if you live in certain areas of the country and watch it over the airwaves, as opposed to cable and satellite. Apparently the CBC made a submission to the CRTC last fall indicating a desire to cease over the air broadcasting in smaller centres, according to the lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Said submission claimed that such broadcasting is increasingly unviable in smaller markets, and that cable and satellite services have supplanted it. FCB disagrees, citing a Canadian Media Research Inc. survey they commissioned that says over the air TV viewing is actually more common in smaller centres that larger ones. The survey also found that 10 percent of Canadians still rely on TV transmitters to view TV. I suspect that if this is true the CBC not only wants to drop transmitters because of the current operating costs, but also because of the costs of installing HDTV compatible transmitters for existing sites.

Of course many people these days are increasingly using the Internet to watch TV and TV type content, and one of the sources of such content, YouTube, is facing legal trouble. US multimedia firm Viacom, owner of such cable outlets as MTV and Comedy Central, is suing YouTube and parent Google over copyright infringement. Viacom claims to have found more that 150 thousand unauthorised video clips of Viacom owned content on the video service in the last two months, and as a result of what they claim is YouTube's complicity in offering such content are suing for 1 billion dollars. They want YouTube to police content themselves, not remove it only if a copyright holder complains as is now the case. Given the amount of material added to YouTube each day, and the variety of sources copyrighted content can come from, this seems highly impractical. Not only would it required a large team of screeners active 24 hours a day it would likely require additional personnel to determine whether there is copyright for specific material and whether the copyright holders want it removed. A much more likely result, should YouTube lose, is the service being heavily curtailed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Beware the Maggia!

If you're not a Marvel Comics reader, or former reader, you're probably thinking "What the hell is Gueguen going on about this time? Is that some weird mispronunciation of Mafia?" Not in the Marvel universe, dear friends. Since the mid 1960s the Maggia has been Marvel's stand in for the Mob, although apparently the "real" Mafia also turns up these days as well. Reading some old comics tonight I got thinking about the Maggia and how it came about. I'd kind of suspected for a while that Marvel didn't want to get in trouble with the Mafia by using it in comic books, and apparently Stan Lee admitted this in an interview in recent years. It certainly makes sense given that Marvel's editorial offices were, as they are now, located in New York, and I would assume their printing was done in New York in those days as well. So, given the Mafia role in a lot of New York business at the time, it's not hard to imagine Stan and company not wanted to cause trouble for themselves by doing something to piss them off in a comic story, even if it was more likely to be deliveries being slowed up by Mob controlled trucking firms than wiseguys threatening to feed Stan to the fishes or something equally cliche.

Incidentally the Maggia first appeared way back in The Avengers #13, as did Maggia boss Count Nefaria. Yeah, Lee was real subtle with that name, wasn't he?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm In The Money.

I've finally managed to do it. I've actually won some money at online poker. I took part in PokerStars Team Canada freeroll and came in 411th. As a result I won five bucks, the first time I've won actual money online. Of course I'm just going to turn around and spend it on a bit of flea level play and a really cheap tournament, but it's still cool to actually win something other than play money chips. Ironically I actually sat out the first twenty minutes as I was still eating when the tournament started.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Go Delta."

Here's a heads up if you're a fan of Teletoon's science fiction cartoon series Delta State. The first 13 episodes are now available on DVD in Canada as Delta State: The Complete First Season. So far I've found the 2 DVD set at Musicworld and Walmart in the 20 buck range. Of course if you bought the previously issued 3 episode packages of the first 6 episodes you might not be so happy. Hopefully this will sell well enough that we'll see the subsequent 13 episodes in the same format at the same price. Unfortunately it seems exceedingly unlikely we'll be seeing any new episodes of the series.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dontcha Hate It...

...when you can't find something you want? Doing a bit of reading online tonight about aircraft ended up reminding me about an old UFO book I have. It's Frank Edwards' Flying Saucers-Serious Business. Edwards was an American journalist who developed a strong interest in UFOs in the aftermath of Kenneth Arnold's pivotal 1947 sighting. He's largely forgotten today, but in the '50s and '60s was a major populariser of UFO ideas. I wanted to drag out the book again to see if I could find out some more information about some of the odder stuff he discussed in the book. Unfortunately I haven't a clue where the book is. I know it's around here someplace, but I'm not in the mood tonight to go hunting for it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Youtube Experiment.

This is just a little experiment to see what a Youtube video looks like on here.