Thursday, December 30, 2004

One of the top musicians of the swing era has died. Artie Shaw was 94.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hmmm, is this CNN headline kind of dubious? Some folks think so. The line in the article about how the tsunami disaster "spared neither rich nor poor" reads like another promotion of the "celebs are just plain folks like you and me" idea. Of course anyone who puts much thought into it realises that although what happened to them was horrible these well to do folks will have a much easier time of getting on with their lives than the common Thais, Indians, Indonesians, Sri Lankans and others affected by the disaster.
More sad entertainment news to report. Actor Jerry Orbach, best known in recent years for playing Lennie Briscoe on Law and Order, has died at age 69 of prostate cancer. Orbach was supposed to reprise the character in the new Law and Order spinoff Trial By Jury, so it would seem the future of this show will be in some turmoil.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A couple of deaths to report. Legendary country guitarist Hank Garland has died at age 74. Garland is probably almost as famous for the speculation about what he might have done as for the amazing body of work he produced before a 1961 vehicle accident. On the literary front American author Susan Sontag has died of cancer at 71.
From the "Truth in Advertising" department: I got some spam in my email this morning that was labelled as spam. Didn't make me open it, but the thought was nice.

Monday, December 27, 2004

I was just crushing a bunch of pop cans and plastic bottles that I intend to take in for the deposit refund soon, perhaps tomorrow or Wednesday. What a lot of effort! I always go to the trouble of sorting them into separate containers and flattening them. Unfortunately most people are too lazy to do so, so you usually end up at the recycling depot behind someone with a big bag of various types of containers mixed together, which slows things up considerably. The deposit for cans here in Saskatchewan is 10 cents, the deposit for plastic containers under one litre is 10 cents, and those over one litre are 20 cents. Glass bottles vary depending on size, although a typical booze bottle is in the 20 cent range. By themselves thats not much, but save up dozens over the course of a couple of months and you end up with 8 or ten bucks of extra cash on a semi regular basis, and you keep the landfills from filling up with stuff that can be reused. The economics of this recycling may be another question however.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

I hope no one who might come across this blog, or is a regular or occasional reader, has lost any family or friends in today's earthquake and tsunami disaster in Asia. What a horrible mess.

The link I looked at this morning that first notified me of the disaster(I hadn't turned on the radio or tv yet) was via Yahoo. As is usually the case with news stories presented on Yahoo they had a bulletin board section for responses. And as usual a large percentage of what was posted was ignorant crap by moronic twits. Whether they were serious or not doesn't matter, it was just complete garbage. It makes we wonder why Yahoo even bothers with those boards, since all they do is generate flame wars and incoherent yammering. A complete waste of good hard disk storage as far as I'm concerned.
I hope someone will actually be able to read this thing. With my computer it seems to be acting rather wonky right now.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Its very quiet on the hit counter today. I guess folks had better things to do than run around reading blogs. Good for them.
Merry Christmas folks. I hope you're having a good one. Me, I got a big surprise, a cheque for way too much money from my grandmother. Fortunately for me my bank isn't open for a few days, so I can't go run off and spend it all at once.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Its entirely possible I've posted this link before, but doing it again won't hurt. If you're interested in science fiction tv and movies you might find Space: The Imagination Station's message board of interest. Although Space is Canada's equivalent of the US Sci Fi channel not everyone who posts there is a Canadian, so don't feel shy about posting if you aren't.
Oooh dear. Thanks to a heads up from Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence here's a link to The Truth For Youth, a Christian evangelising site with some really cheesy comic books. Check out the anti rock one for example.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Website zap2it has a report on the supposed complaints sent to the FCC about the Athens Olympics broadcasts. Its amazing how much the sight of a breast can freak some people out. As for the apparent "f word" spotting its hard to imagine that anyone watching the broadcast, other than perhaps a toddler or two, hasn't heard that word in use at least once a week for most of their lives. Personally I doubt too many little kids would be watching women's volleyball anyways. The prohibited word occasionally turns up in live sports broadcasts of things like baseball, picked up via on field mics, and I doubt the FCC is going to mandate live sports been shown on a 7 second delay to prevent this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Just found out that blues guitarist Son Seals has died of diabetes related complications at age 62. Interestingly it says he's survived by 14(!) children. He must have been rather busy with the ladies over the years.

Another musician who died this week was British saxophonist Dick Hecktall-Smith, who played with various members of the British music scene. He must have been an amazingly tough guy given the number of health problems he managed to survive over years before cancer finally killed him.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Watching the Christmas episode of 6teen brought up an interesting thought. The episode ends with the kids in the mall the day after Christmas, and they realise that its Boxing Day, which in much of Canada is a day jampacked with sales, and hence stores and malls jampacked with often bargain crazed shoppers. Given that Boxing Day sales are a very Canadian thing I can't help but wonder if that segment will be changed if the series sells outside of Canada. Certainly most Americans wouldn't have a clue about Boxing Day madness.
Today's random search engine attractor phrase is coalsack nebula. :-) Not that I expect it will work.
Its funny how wrong one's perceptions can be. In his column in Macleans Magazine Peter Mansbridge mentions that he is a bit over 6 feet tall. For some reason I had always had the impression he was kind of short.

One thing thats always been interesting about him is that he's never bothered to hide his balding. If he had gone to the US to work for one of the American networks as a news anchor one can't help but suspect they would have made him get hair plugs, or wear a hairpiece.

And speaking of hairpieces how can Donald Trump not know he looks horrible? It looks like he's wearing a dyed skunk tail on top of his head.
Hmm, I wonder if I should post the following every once and a while: The appearance of ads on this blog should not be assumed to be an endorsement by me of the services, products, or viewpoints presented by the advertisers.

Nah, maybe not. I'm sure anyone with a lick of sense can tell thats the case, and I don't want Google's ad division getting pissed off at me.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Here's a tip for aspiring commercial fiction writers: Be careful about using names for your characters based on real people. Todd McFarlane, creator of the comic book antihero Spawn, has seen his company forced to declare bankruptcy after he lost a lawsuit by a former NHLer. Personally I've never even heard of this hockey player, and I never thumbed through enough Spawn issues to remember the character in question.
Since I've just been sitting here reading them I should post a couple of music related links for you to check out. First is the Henry Kaiser homepage. It had been a while since I'd been there, so it was time to go for a look again. My Kaiser albums really need to be yanked out and played again(as you can say about a lot of my music collection), especially Its a Wonderful Life. Amazing solo guitar on that one, the title cut making it onto the Kaiser CD compilation Lemon Fish Tweezer a few years back. On the forum of the site was posted a link to Kronosonic, a neat little page with discussion of some of the more unusual sides of guitar playing, including a recent interview with HK.
Here's an interesting article about the problem of "knife crimes" in the UK, and whether the problem has been overblown. Probably the most interesing thing about this article to me is the question of the collection and interpretation of crime data, such as what constitutes a knife offense under British law and whether knives are an apparently increasing problem only because people are out looking for them. Its also interesting to read that the homicide statistics for 2002-2003 in the UK were higher than most years, but that this was because the crimes of serial killer doctor Harold Shipman were all counted for that period, even though the 172 victims counted were actually killed over a 20 year period. Its not hard to imagine US opponents of gun control using what would appear as a large rise in the murder rate over the course of one year as yet more "proof" that stricter British gun laws of recent years have lead to more crime. I remember hearing talk that a similar sort of spike in Vancouver area murder rates might occur because of the alleged crimes of Robert Picton, currently awaiting trial, would be counted for the year he was charged, and not the years they actually occured.
Since I've been getting some hits from his mention of my blog, I would be remiss if I didn't post a link to Orac's new blog Respectful Insolence. Go look at it, and after you look at it go look at Atrios's Eschaton blog, which I've been perusing a bit of late.

An interesting thing caught my eye the other day. During the Christmas shopping season some firm sets up calender sales thingies(don't know what to call them exactly, hence thingies) in local malls. Looking at the music calenders I came across the 2005 Pantera calender. Kind of odd to see it just after former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell's murder. I doubt he was a public enough figure in Canada for anyone at the company to even consider pulling the calender from sale.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Kind of a disturbing article. Large numbers of Americans surveyed believe in restricting the rights of Muslims in the US.

This of course makes me think of the recently introduced restrictions in France on "overt" religious garb in schools, with Muslim clothing like headcoverings for women being considered one of the main targets. Personally I think this is a foolish idea. They claim they want to retain the secular character of the French school system, but in reality what they are doing is playing into the hands of those who would see their fellow Muslims isolated from mainstream European culture. Those Islamists who advocate such a policy can claim they are being discriminated against by mainstream society, and hence Muslim children must be removed from such a situation.

BTW I came across the link to the article above at Americablog.
The US electronics chain Circuit City is currently using the classic Cars tune "Just What I Needed" in their ads. Of course its the chorus hook they're interested in, not the rest of the lyrics. Somehow I doubt they want you associating the products they sell with the line "wasting all my time" that is repeated several times in the verses. On the other hand I'm sure they'd like you to "kind of lose (your) mind" over their products and service. Hopefully the estate of Ben Orr, the Cars' bassist/vocalist who died a couple of years ago of liver cancer, will get some nice money from the ad, since its Ben singing the song.
Crap! Why can't I ever have 100 million bucks in the bank for stuff like this?

If anyone in charge of the news department at CBC Radio happens to read this, do me a favour. Please get Rubina Ahmed to preread her newscasts. She has this bad habit of mispronouncing words she shouldn't. I'm sure it was her who I recently heard pronounce Maoist as "may-oh-ist."

Friday, December 17, 2004

A tragedy! I was going to have two of these for supper, but one has disappeared, probably to the bottom of the freezer. Oh how will I go on, with only one?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Speaking of trials, the behaviour and treatment of juries after a trial is one interesting difference between the Canadian and American legal systems. In Canada jurors may not discuss their experiences on a jury. In the US in recent years we've seen more and more jurors interviewed, either by the media immediately after a trial or by news programs like Investigative Reports at some later date. Given the publicity jurors get I'm surprised that no one has gone after a juror or jurors after a trial because they didn't like the verdict. Unfortunately I suspect its likely to happen sooner or later, especially in connection with a high profile case.
Yeah, I know, you likely don't want to hear anything else about the Scott Peterson case. But seriously, can anyone actually believe something like this unless they're a complete paranoid kookoo? I suppose the Peterson defense team should be at least be given credit for their imagination.
For fans of fanfiction here's another link that might be of interest, Fanfic Haters Anonymous. Be warned I will take no responsibility if reading this community a.)pisses you off because someone disses your fav writer or fanfic, or your writing b.)makes you despair for humanity because of some of the horrible crap so described within, or c.)makes you laugh until you roll around on the floor with your ribs on fire at how silly some of the fics bashed are.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Okay, Bootleg fans, chapter 8 is up. Finally. I'm sure you're all saying "About bloody time," or words to that effect.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has stated that Canada will not accept missiles for the proposed US missile defense system on Canadian soil. All I can say is "Well, duh!" There's no indication the US has any interest in stationing interceptor missiles on Canadian soil in any case. He also says that he won't put money into the system. This may also be a meaningless statement. Given that the system is going to be tied into NORAD continued Canadian involvement in that organisation all but certainly means defacto providing financial support for the ABM system.

Not that the system is likely to be operational in any sort of effective fashion anytime soon. Today's interceptor test failed. Personally I think the whole thing is a big pork barrel project of questionable utility. Even its supposed current goal of being able to counter an accidental launch, or a deliberate launch by terrorist and the like, seems unlikely in the near term. Of course anyone who seriously wants to launch a nuclear attack on the US can come up with ways of avoiding the shield, like using cruise missiles, which the system isn't designed to be used against.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Weird. My name has turned up in someone's scientific paper. FYI its a .pdf file, so you'll need something like Adobe Acrobat to read it.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Here's a link to a rather interesting article about "white" converts to Islam in the US.
Hmmm, some interesting comments on the history of Christmas in the US.
Another stupid lawsuit. Walmart is being sued because it stocked and sold copies of an Evanscence album with the "f word" on them. Frankly I can only roll my eyes at the plaintiffs. If their daughter hasn't heard that word at least a dozen times in the last month from friends and/or family I would be greatly surprised. Perhaps they should lock the little dear into a hermetically sealed bubble until she's 25 or so so the naughty words don't hurt her.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Hey, Jody Harris! If you ever pass by these parts I just gotta say your playing on the Raybeats Guitar Beat album is damn cool.
I just entered my 1000th bill at Where's Willy a few minutes ago. And I got a hit today, bringing my next milestone, the 100 hit mark, just a little bit closer. Hopefully my slightly more aggressively marked bills will start to generate a bit higher hit rate soon.
There are some really stupid people out there. The US Federal Communications Commission is reportedly investigating an obscenity complaint regarding NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics opening ceremony. One wonders whats next. Perhaps someone will try and force the FCC to mandate the return of the old bra ads, which only showed the products being worn by a dressmakers torso.
James Brown announced in a press release this morning that he has prostate cancer. This came as a bit of a surprise given that he performed here in Saskatoon last night, which was apparently the last date of his Canadian tour.

Since I've been posting quite a bit about guitarists and guitars lately I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of Saskatoon's entries in the business. Fury Guitars is Saskatoon's senior guitar maker, and indeed one of Canada's longest running guitar manufacturers, having set up shop in 1962. Fury are said to be the first manufacturer of solidbody guitars in Canada. Fury head Glenn McDougall also had a hand in designing instruments made by Deakon Roads. Dingwall Guitars are probably the best known Saskatoon maker. Sheldon Dingwall's basses, which use Ralph Novak's fanned fret system, have turned up in the hands of pros like Leland Sklar, major league session bassist and Phil Collins sideman. And there's Pura Guitars, who make a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Its amazing some of the things you run across just by visiting a website. Believe or not, and I know it sounds like a weird joke, there are actually people who like to eat clay.
Another musician death to report, but this time one that happened due to illness, and of a musician known only to a few. Hugh McIntyre, bassist for the Nihilist Spasm Band, died Monday of congestive heart failure at age 68. Founded in 1965 this Canadian group was one of the first to explore totally freeform playing and noise as music, making them contemporaries of the pioneering British free improvisation groups Joseph Holbrooke and AMM, and the multinational collective Musica Electronica Viva. Canadian musician Zev Asher made a film called What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band in 2000 about the group, and it has appeared on Canadian tv before.
Bizarre. Former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed last night during a peformance by his current group Damageplan, along with 3 other people in the club. Reportedly the gunman, who was shot and killed by a policeman soon afterwards, rushed the stage denouncing the guitarist for causing Pantera to break up, and then pulled out a pistol and shot Darrell several times before shooting others. Ironically this occured on the 24th anniversary of John Lennon's murder in New York in 1980. Its hard to imagine someone's fandom for a group going that far, but its really not that much different than the stalkers who have pursued celebs, and sometimes killed them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Dick Clark, sometimes refered to as the World's Oldest Teenager, had a minor stroke this week, but expects to recover. He's 75. So thats how old he is. Having a stroke shows he doesn't have some Dorian Gray-esque picture hidden away. Clark is a survivor though. He was involved in the late '50s payola scandal that helped sink his fellow early rock and roll DJ/promoter Alan Freed, testifying before Congress in 1960 but never charged with any wrongdoing, and managed to ride out any damage the association might have caused to become a major figure in US tv production. His Wikipedia entry provides more detail on his career.

I was doing my weekly "bug the guys at HEL and Long and McQuade" routine today when I had an interesting surprise. Hutterites in a musical instrument store! Hutterites are a conservative German Protestant sect who immigrated to Western Canada to avoid religious persecution in Europe for their pacifist and communalist beliefs. They live in large communal groups, refered to as colonies, and live via farming their communally owned land. With the dark jackets, pants, and hats of the men, and old fashioned skirts and head coverings for the women some folks unfamiliar with them might be reminded of the Amish. Hutterites however do not eschew modern technology in the fashion of the Amish. Hutterites use electricity, motor vehicles, and modern farming methods while living an austere personal lifestyle.

But things are obviously changing, at least in this part of Western Canada. You see them in Saskatoon far more frequently than you would 20 years ago, and in a far wider range of places. Presumably this "liberalisation" has something to do with the fact that they don't largely shun the modern world. It must be harder and harder to justify many limits on personal lifestyles when other elements of modern life are used. A 2 way radio in a tractor presumably makes it harder to claim a personal radio for personal enjoyment is wrong. And like other such movements, such as the Amish, some young Hutterites decide that they aren't willing to accept their traditional lifestyle anymore and leave their home colony to join the mainstream of society.

And speaking of my visit to HEL I had a pleasant time trying out several models of Parker Guitars from their Korean made line, albeit acoustically. I played a PM10,, a PM20, a P36, and a couple of P42s. They were all interesting guitars to play, but of them the P36 was the one I liked the most. Parker's attempt to produce a Fender Telecaster style guitar the example in question had a neck that really appealed to me, being very comfortable and fast to play. I think it won soundwise just a little bit over the others, although there was some minor fretbuzz on the B and high E strings on the lower frets, although it probably would go away with a bit of tweaking and wouldn't likely be noticeable in any case thru an amp. The weight of these Parkers appeals to me, as I tend to find I like a lighter guitar for comfort reasons. The body shapes of course aren't for everyone but I don't mind them.

Living in a city the size of Saskatoon is good if you're a guitarist. Not only are there several musical instrument stores, there are also a wide array of instruments to try, and often several examples of each one. Of course one disadvantage these days is the sheer range of instruments available. Even the low end stuff, made in such places as China, Indonesia, and even Canada, is quite playable, especially compared to the cheapies of previous eras which wer a lot more hit and miss. So a potential buyer is likely to find something he or she likes, but may face option anxiety trying to decide which of several suitable instruments is worth buying.
Well, as regular visitors here will realise I've decided to allow Googlee to advertise on this blog. I figured some minor advertising isn't going to hurt anyone, I might make a bit of cash off of it, and it wouldn't surprise me if Google eventually puts involuntary ads on blogs anyways.
Yesterday seems to have been international day here on the blog. Besides the no surprise US and Canadian hits I also had hits from Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, and France. Of course all that pointless screwing around I was doing a bit ago didn't hurt in boosting the hit count.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I should really know better than to screw around with the formatting of this thing. All it does is cause me to waste time I could be doing something useful with, like eating cookies.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.
If you've been sitting in despair waiting for their next tour you're in luck. Motley Crue have reunited. I guess someone in the band must need money. It will be interesting to see if anyone else in heavymetalland is inspired to get back on the road. Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore might be a candidate. In recent years he's been doing the renaissance festival thing as Blackmore's Night, but I can't imagine he's making huge bucks off it. Could he put together a new version of Rainbow, and would it make him any money? Deep Purple is likely out, because from all accounts he split because he couldn't get along with the rest of them.
Might as well make one more post before I go to bed. If you look at my Blogger profile you'll see that it lists me as a Libra because of my birth date. I find it amusing and bemusing that anyone takes astrology seriously at this late date. Of course the fact people do is just a reflection of their lack of knowledge in all sorts of other areas. It could be worse. At least people in North America haven't taken up the Japanese obsession with blood types, which many look to for some of the same kind of things astrology claims, like romantic compatibility. If you've ever looked at webpages for Japanese celebs and pseudo celebs you've likely run across listings of their blood type.
For some reason the thought of the winter boots I wore as a kid just came to mind. They were navy blue nylon things that if I remember correctly had zippers on them. I certainly remember the felt booties, or liners, or whatever you'd want to call them, that they had. They were detachable, and presumably replaceable, although that never happened in my case. I can also remember the winter boots I wore in high school, at least I think that was when I wore them. They were big clunky things with the most ridiculously stiff and thick laces I think I've ever seen, laces that were so long I ended up wrapping them around the top of the boots a couple of times. They were rather hard to tie.

I gave up wearing winter boots years ago. These days I just wear running shoes as I do the rest of the year. I just don't see the need for winter boots even when its -20 and you're freezing your butt off.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I was just reading some stuff about a Harry Potter fanfic writer who had her apartment broken into and her and roomies computers stolen. Now folks, including many she doesn't actually know, are actually making donations to replace their stuff.

Someohw I doubt complete strangers will be donating me any money anytime soon.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


This time I mean it.

For sure.

If it doesn't happen you can come after me with your pitchforks and your clubs.

Its about bloody time.

Chapter 8 will come out within the next week or so.


Fer shure!

(Of course for most visitors the above will be utterly meaningless, but for certain of you, you KNOW what I'm talking about.)
Just had a first. I hit the "next blog" link on here and up came a blog that tried to dump a trojan onto my machine. Thank goodness for my antivirus software.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Just in case anyone passing thru is a guitar nut, here's a few places worth checking out. The Fender Forum Ibanez Collectors World. The Guitar Gallery.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I just went past the $10,000 entered mark at Where's Willy today. It amazing how much money passes thru your hands over the course of a year. I've also started entering my bills at Canadian Money Tracker as well.

The supposed attempt on the Serbian president I mentioned yesterday apparently wasn't. They're now claiming it was a case of road rage by a US Embassy employee. That guy has got to be one of the luckiest men alive, as the presidential bodyguards didn't just shoot his car to bits. However many people in Serbia aren't buying the explaination. Presidential supporters cling to the idea it was an assassination attempt, while Serb nationalists opposed to the president claim it was all a setup to generate sympathy. Probably not a surprising result in a country as divided as Serbia.
Since I'm sitting here not doing much I might as well post a link to an online comic I came across. Its called No Need for Bushido Its kind of entertaining with some not bad artwork, and bound to make you smile a bit if you're into manga and old samurai movies.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

An interesting article ran in the San Francisco Chronicle today, discussing the appearance by major league baseball players Jason and Jeremy Giambi last year before a federal grand jury in a steroid trafficking case. Both men admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. What I found especially interesting was their willingness to take pills without knowing what they were, trusting that the pills weren't harmful, or conversely weren't placebos they were paying a lot of money for.(One was possibly the female fertility drug Clomid.) One can't help but wonder if Jason Giambi's health problems this year had anything to do with him being on "the 'roids" last year.

You wouldn't catch me doing that kind of thing. I don't like needles.
Looking at the cover of the latest Wired today, which features James Cameron and a blurb about all these high tech research things supposedly on the way, I couldn't help but think of how similiar it can be to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. It features the same kind of breathless techno fetishing of stuff that often doesn't actually appear. Anyone who has paid attention to PS and PM content over the years will be familiar with all the "gee, that REWLS!" high tech stuff they've blabbed about that has never come to pass, including stuff of questionable scientific credibility in the first place. I'm probably not the first person to see similarities with the long defunct "pop science" magazine Omni as well. Omni often did the same kind of thing, but like Wired tried to appear more upscale that PM and PS, and was more interested in fringe stuff like life extension and psychics.
There was an apparent attempt on the life of the president of Serbia yesterday. Someone rammed their car into his a number of times, with no success. Apparently things are so bad for wannabe Serbian assassins these days they can't even afford to buy a cheap gun for assassination purposes.