Sunday, April 30, 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith, RIP.

I just found out that John Kenneth Galbraith has died at 97. The Canadian born economist was arguably one of the most influential Canadians of the 20th Century in regards to economic matters. Even into his 90s he continued to discuss economic and political matters.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Always Remember, Buyer Beware!

eBay is currently afflicted with a glut of musical instrument auctions from Chinese sellers of questionable honesty. The prices are ridiculously low, but the shipping costs more than make up for them, and many of the instruments are obviously unlicensed knockoffs of familiar brands. Some are sure to be out and out ripoff situations where you'll never see your money again, while many of those who do received the merchandise purchased are sure to be disappointed because it isn't what it appears to be. But the titles for the auctions do offer a cheap form of amusement. An example is this auction for "elegant of popular music tool electricity guitar." Ummm, okay. Its a major irony that the Chinese government spends lots of time and effort trying to control the flow of information into China via the Internet to maintain its grip on power, yet apparently has little worry about the hit to China's reputation these dodgy eBayers will generate. I guess as long as someone in the Chinese bureaucracy gets a cut of the action they don't care.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Its Been A While.

The Toronto Blue Jays are currently tied for first place in the American League East with the Boston Red Sox. "Jays in first" is something we've heard all too little of in recent years. The Orioles are half a game back, and the Yankees a whole game. Since ole George was in his private box tonight to watch the Jays stomp the Yankees 7-2 I imagine more than a few Yankees will be looking for nice hiding places over the next couple of days.

The game was prefaced by a moment of silence for former Yankee reliever Steve Howe, who was killed in a truck accident today. Given Howe's long running substance abuse problems many folks are likely to suspect drugs played a role in the accident. However given that he was driving back to his home in Valencia, California from Arizona in the early hours of Friday its just as, if not more, likely he fell asleep at the wheel.

...and taxes."

I probably don't need to remind anyone, but you never know. Don't forget that the deadline for many Canadians to file their income tax returns is midnight on Monday. Normally it would be April 30th, but since that falls on a Sunday they've moved it to May 1st. After all we can't have government workers actually doing something on a Sunday. I just know I screwed mine up this year, so if this blog suddenly disappears you'll know its because the Canadian Revenue Agency has busted me. If you're an American who hasn't filed your return yet what preytell is your problem? You were supposed to get it in by the 15th of this month. Bad luck for you if you didn't.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Instant Modern Art.

Well, that's not really what is. The above is a graph barchart for all the hits on the blog over the last year. But it makes me think of some sort of piece of modern art, or perhaps a graphical score for some piece of avant garde music. In any case its the result of fooling around with the statistics graphs for my Statcounter counter account.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm Living In A Franchise?

Today I received a cheap haircut at the new Saskatoon outlet of Fantastic Sam's, a hair salon franchise. Being curious I decided to look it up onlinea and see if the Saskatoon outlet was mentioned. However, I found somthing far more interesting. Someone is trying to start a restaurant franchise called Saskatoon. Very odd. The original Greenville, South Carolina restaurant has a website here, and a link on it leads to additional franchise info. I can only wonder why its creator Edmund Woo picked that name. I can't help but think he knows little about this city, and got his idea for the name from an old and highly inaccurate song "Saskatoon, Saskatchewan" as performed by Burl Ives.

An Experiment.

I've added a banner at the top of the page. Whether I keep it there will depend on whether it drives people, including me, crazy after a short time. After all it is rather flashy and such.

Monday, April 24, 2006


I was just making my bed, since it was well past due for the sheets to be changed. Its one of those necessary tasks I'm sure virtually no one enjoys. Compare it with making food. We all need to eat, but fulfilling this necessary function is often fun even in the prepartion stages. Tucking sheets under a matress isn't. It doesn't help if you're like me, making a bed you're still not all that used to making yet.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

More Musical Commentary.

Last week I linked to a profile of Link Wray. This week its a critique of the music of Bill Evans by trumpeter Tom Djll. Other stuff on the Bagatellen website is worth checking out.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Its Not Just Jesus.

Jimi Hendrix also has the power to make his face appear on stuff.

A Truth.

For me a day without music is like a day without breathing. In other words impossible.

The Quine Collection

Here's something of interest to fans of the late Robert Quine. Carmine Street Guitars in New York is offering his guitar collection for sale. The link is a pdf file so you'll need something that handles pdfs to view it. The man had a lot of guitars! He also wasn't a made in America only snob, as can be seen in the number of Japanese, Korean, and other Asian guitars he had.

Watch That Name.

If you're thinking about giving your child what you think is a name in a foreign language make sure you do lots of research to be sure its correct. As you've probably heard by now Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have named their daughter Suri. Cruise stated it was Hebrew for princess, but apparently thats news to people in Israel. Its not a name they recognise there. Avshalom Koor, an Israeli media personality who has presented many programs on the Hebrew language, claims its an Eastern European Jewish pet name for Sarah. Chances are the name came from some inaccurate online list of baby names or a baby name book. I know I've seen at least a couple of these where my limited Japanese vocabulary was enough to know that some of the Japanese baby names listed either had wrong translations or weren't even Japanese. In the end its probably best to ask a native speaker of the language what a name means, or even if its an actual name, before using something exotic. It can also be a good idea so you don't give your kid some name that is currently seen as outdated. We can all think of English names that you wouldn't give a child today, like naming a boy Gayle.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Good To See You Again.

I'm a regular watcher of Toronto Blue Jays broadcasts, so I've seen you before. I obviously have no idea who you are, and I doubt you'll actually read this, but I got the silly idea in my head I should say hello since you're back for another season. You're the white guy/Asian woman couple who sits in the field level box behind home plate. You sure looked like you were having fun tonight, and who can blame you when the Jays stomp the Yankees 10-5.

And while I'm at it, Geddy Lee, if you should pass through I must say its fun seeing you sitting in that box during Jays games.

Two Off The List.

Its a mystery that may never have an answer. Stephen Marshall, a 20 year old from Nova Scotia living in the US, allegedly shot and killed Joseph L. Gray of Milo and William Elliot of Corinth, both towns in Maine. He took his own life later on Sunday when confronted on a bus by Maine transit police. There is as yet no clue as to what his motive was, but both his victims shared one thing. They were both listed on Maine's sex offender registry.

I've always been leery of such public registries. First and foremost I think they give people a false sense of security. There are people who will decide that since "one of them" isn't located in their community, at least according to the registry, that they don't have to be careful, when the reality is that such lists only indicate the convicted. Rather its best to always be a bit cautious regarding things like child abuse. Then there is the question of who gets on such lists. I've heard allegations of people getting on such lists for such things as drunkenly mooning someone. If true such people surely don't belong on the same list as paedophiles who have repeatedly abused children or serial rapists. Then we have this case, where someone used a publically accessable list to kill someone.

This kind of thing has happened before. Within the last several years a man in the UK was badly beaten when he was mistaken for a sex offender after a local paper published a picture of an actual offender he looked a bit alike. Much more frequently have been sex offenders who have been released from prison and have been subsequently harrassed after their presence in a community has been revealed by the authorities or citizens groups. Although I would not be happy about a serious sex offender living in my neighbourhood they have to live someplace once they are out of jail, and there's the chance some will go back to their old ways if they are subject to too much pressure.

The law must protect everyone in society, even those who break its laws. The obvious question the people of Maine will have to answer is whether the potential harm to sex offenders is worth the possibility of protecting children with a public list. The answer might seem at first blush to be yes, but it becomes less obvious when you learn that Elliot was on the list because he was convicted of having sex with his girlfriend in 2002 when he was 19 and she was 15. In other words statutory rape, a crime where the mooted victim often only is a victim because the law says he or she is despite being considered capable of informed consent in another jurisdiction. In any case there is no evidence Elliot was the same kind of danger to society as others on the same list. But now he's dead because he was on the list, and society likely isn't any safer.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Random Mix.

Today I did something I haven't done in a couple of years at least. I bought a bag of Old Dutch Ketchup potato chips. (That's crisps for you UK folks.) They were all right, although who knows what the dye they use to give the flavouring a red colour does to you. Ketchup flavoured chips are a uniquely Canadian variation on the theme, and often are met with bemusement by American potato chip fans.

I was down to the river today to check out the water level. But I found the 8 or 10 Canada Geese along the waterline more interesting. They seemed to be pretty tame, as I got within 7 or 8 feet of then with some patience, although I stopped at about that point. I would imagine that if they had goslings they might not have been so mellow. Another interesting thing I noticed on the boat ramp near the Bessborough were several small crab claws, their owners presumably victims of the local birds. I didn't know that there were crabs in the area.

Planet S Magazine, a free Saskatoon area newspaper, currently has an article on blogging. Not much to note in it that bloggers probably haven't read before. I was disappointed that the only area blog mentioned was small dead animals. You'd think they could have had a randomly selected list of Saskatoon area blogs. It would have taken about 5 minutes to cook up such a list. Who knows, maybe this blog or I Am a Child of Television would have been selected and got some free publicity.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Late Night Walk.

I was just out for my late night walk and had a bit of a surprise. I heard gulls at one point along the way. I've heard other birds flying at night, such as geese, but to the best of my knowledge I haven't heard gulls before. It would be interesting to know how they navigate at night. I also picked 30 cents worth of empty bottles for my recycling pile that were sitting in the street. Hopefully I'll have the energy to go out for another late night walk tomorrow, as I can use the exercise.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two New Links.

In case anyone is interested I've added a couple of new links to the link list, both blogs. First is The Daily Jazz, which as you might guess is a jazz related blog. Second we have Matrixsynth, a blog for all the synth freaks passing through.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Think Link.

Not much to say about this one but read it. From Perfect Sound Forever an interesting profile/biography piece on Link Wray.

10,000th Hit.

Yep, just a bit ago the hit counter registered its 10,000 hit. Thanks to everyone who has visited since May of 2004. Wow, it will be 2 years of doing this next month. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to get to 20,000.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Not On The Other Team.

Today I received another one of those kind of search engine hits that make me shake my head. The query was "nikki wong from 6teen is a lesbian." Nikki is one of the characters on Teletoon's series 6TEEN, the charming young lady in the picture at left. I can only wonder at why the searcher used that phrase. If they've seen much of the series they'd know that Nikki is not portrayed as a lesbian. Even if we ignore the fact she dates Jonesy, one of the other main characters, for several episodes, we know she has a crush on a member of Dawgtoy, a fictitious boy band. So I find myself wondering if this person figured Nikki might be a lesbian because of how she dresses. Oh yeah, wearing cargo pants and having dyed hair are both well known signs of lesbianism. Well, I suppose in someone's world they are.

If someone had asked something along the lines of "jonesy from 6teen is gay" I would have found that somewhat more convincing given that the show has actually had a couple of bits of what could be seen as gay subtext between Jonesy and Jude, another one of the main characters. Given what Teletoon allows the show to get away with I would imagine if the writers and producers wanted one of the main characters to be openly gay or lesbian they would have written him or her as such already.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Time Travel Healing.

Chiropractic is a controversial discipline, especially when chiropractors hew to the early ideas of the practice that spinal manipulation can cure ailments unrelated to the skeletal and muscular system. But one Ohio chiropractor has become too outre even for the Ohio State Chiropractic Board, because he claims to heal his patients remotely by "reaching back in time" to when the injury first occured. You don't even have to see James Burda, just send him your money and he'll heal you at a cost of 60 bucks a session. The Board accuses Burda of being mentally ill. Hmm, being able to do your work without having to leave your home or office sounds pretty rational to me. Nonetheless I think I'll stick with actual hands on treatments of any ailments I might suffer from

(This one comes via Respectful Insolence.)

Une Message "Scam" en Francais.

Like most folks I get the occasional scam e-mail, offering me all sorts of money if I help out some poor soul who just wants to get their cash, or more often some dead person's cash, out of some foreign land. But the one I received today was a first. It was in French. Oddly enough the person claimed to be from Sierra Leone, a country whose official language is English. Come to think of it its surprising I haven't received more non-English scam letters. After all they just randomly send them out, with no regard of where the potential mark is located.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Naked City on YouTube.

Yeah, another YouTube post, this time John Zorn's Naked City from 1990. I've got the first Naked City album, but don't recognise the tune here and its not named.

Now, if you'll excuse me, its off to listen to The Spotlight Kid by Captain Beefheart, which I literally haven't listened to in years. My copy is a twofer with Clear Spot, no doubt from some long ago budget line of CDs on Reprise.

Mike Oldfield on YouTube

Yep, you guessed it. I have nothing much to say tonight, so its time for another YouTube post. First of all we have the video for "Shadow On The Wall" with Roger Chapman on vocals. I get the impression Oldfield spent more time deciding what guitars to bring along to the video shoot than on the rather generic video itself, as he dragged along an early '60s Strat, an Ovation Adamas acoustic, his '57 Gibson Les Paul TV, early '60s Gibson SG Junior and what looks to be a Roland G808 bass which was used with the Roland GR33B bass guitar synth. Next up is the video for "Five Miles Out," the title cut of the album of the same name. The song is based on a rather harrowing encounter Oldfield had with bad weather while flying his Beechcraft 18.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More Dolby.

Following up my recent Thomas Dolby post I've just found out he has a blog. You can see it here. Its interesting to read about his current gear, especially his comment about buying a Fairlight CMI in '82 for 120 grand which did a lot less than what he's got now, and I bet it cost 20 times as much.

Lost and Not Found.

This afternoon I was trying to find a couple of old webpages so I could read some text files on them. Despite being fairly good at hunting down webpages I couldn't find them, so presumably they've been deleted. Unfortunately there's as yet no real way to get access to defunct pages when you don't know the URLs. There is the Internet Archive, which offers the Wayback Machine, but to access a webpage you need to know its URL. They don't offer a text search engine as yet, assuming its even possible. Nor is the setup perfect, as much of a webpage's content won't be displayed in many cases, especially for older pages. Still, its better than nothing.

On the other hand it sometimes surprises me the stuff that has stayed online despite its age. Last month marked my tenth year online. I recently found a page that I first looked at fairly early after I got online. It probably hasn't been updated in close to 10 years, but its still on a server someplace. I think it was on an university server, so you'd think it would have been deleted long ago.

My initial activities online were via the Saskatoon Freenet, which I still use for my e-mail. It was a text only service, which made for some rather interesting browsing if you wanted to look at any graphics on a website. To do so you literally had to download them to your computer, and this was using a 56K or whatever modem I had on the computer at the time over phone lines. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of my computer watching a picture slowly download, then looking on my harddrive to see what I'd actually grabbed. Still, Internet access was Internet access, and the size and amount of data on a typical website at the time was a fraction of what many sites these days probably waste just on cutesy Flash animations and so on.

Penn and Teller Trivialities.

PZ Myers posted a link to Penn and Teller debunking the Bible and it generated quite a bit of talk about the duo. It also reminded me of one of the odder pop culture Penn and Teller references I've seen, which was in an episode of the cartoon show Braceface. In the episode "Ms. Spitz Goes To Warsh and Stone" the title character takes on a cosmetics company that tests products on animals. Interestingly the company heads Mr. Warsh and Mr. Stone look very much like Penn and Teller, and I assume this was very deliberate. The duo have been harshly critical of the animal rights movement, and Braceface often took a pro-animal rights stance reflecting the view of series star and exec producer Alicia Silverstone.

Personally I wonder about Penn. He named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter. Moxie is bad enough, but the Crimefighter part is worse. And people complain about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin naming their daughter Apple.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

One For the Bassists.

I've made a number of guitar related posts, but have unfortunately neglected the bassists who might pass through. Its time to rectify that situation. However I should warn you that this page is not for the humour impaired. Non-musicians may find this of some amusement as well.

Friday, April 07, 2006

You Wouldn't Name Him That.

Listening to a piece on CBC Radio One's The Current about Michael Baigent's new book The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Coverup in History got me thinking about the name Jesus itself. Specifically I found myself wondering why its a common male name amongst Spanish speaking peoples, but not English speakers. An English speaking person naming their son Jesus would likely not go over well with most other English speakers whether they are religious or not. Yet other Biblical names don't have that problem. Given some of the odd names people in English North America give their kids these days its kind of surprising we don't seem to have them choosing Jesus.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Blue Box and the Brown Guitar

There have been at least a couple of entries on this blog that have mentioned the Roland GR300 guitar synthesizer system, much loved by Pat Metheny. Tonight I stumbled across an interesting page of various bits of GR300 miscellany. So if you're a guitar geek who likes all those '80s King Crimson, Police, and other releases full of GR300 goodness check it out. Personally I'd love to have one, but if I had the money I'd be leery of buying one, since we're talking about a 25 year old piece of equipment that used some pretty unique bits and bobs, and was made in relatively limited numbers. The cabling used in both the GR300 and its associated guitars is apparently pretty fragile.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gene Pitney, RIP.

It has not been a good few months for musicians. To the list of those who have died recently you can add singer Gene Pitney, who has died at 65 while on tour in Wales. Pitney was known both as a performer of such songs as "Town Without Pity" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and as a songwriter of such songs as Ricky Nelson's hit "Hello, Mary Lou."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Where Are You, Thomas?

Seeing this video on YouTube served to remind me that there was more to Thomas Dolby than "She Blinded Me with Science." So I decided to go see if I could find a copy of The Golden Age of Wireless. Not only have I not found one so far, but most of the stores I visited don't even have a Dolby section. A check at seems to indicate that its not available domestically, but an import(US market?) version is available. I guess I may have to order it from them at some point. This really surprises me given how big of a hit "Science" was. Its probably another album that's due for a fancy reissue.

I wonder if the title of the album was intended as a tip of the hat to the Buggles and their album The Age of Plastic and its hit "Video Killed the Radio Star." Before becoming a solo artist Dolby was a member of the group The Camera Club alongside Bruce Woolley, who was an early Buggle.

Monday, April 03, 2006

No Gym Membership For Me.

On Saturday morning I weighed myself for the first time in a while, and its obvious I need to lose some weight. If there is any month in which I'm likely to do so its this one. With spring weather here I can do more walking than I had been. On top of that is all the snow I've been shovelling the past few days. Yes, its spring and the weather is above freezing during the daytime. But when your front lawn is only partially exposed to the Sun and you have large piles of snow on it you need to shovel it where it will melt or you'll still have stuff on it weeks from now. Weirdo that I am I like dumping snow into the street and seeing it melt as I work away. Of course the folks who couldn't be bothered to shovel their walks during the winter aren't doing much with the remaining snow on their properties either.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jackie McLean, Don Alias, RIP

From the blog Song With Orange I just found out that jazz saxophonist Jackie McLean has died at age 73. McLean appeared on numerous albums as both a sideman and as a leader over a more than 50 year career, including stints with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Charles Mingus. From the same blog I've also learned that percussionist Don Alias has died. Although he released no albums under his own name Alias appeared on over 200 recordings ranging from jazz pianist Chick Corea to James Taylor.

More From YouTube

Here's a couple more from the YouTube video service. First is the promo vid for Sandii and the Sunsetz "Sticky Music," with Haruomi Hosono from Yellow Magic Orchestra introing. At least in this vid you get to see Sunsetz drummer Hideo Inoura, unlike the vid to "Battery" I previously posted. Its also interesting that Keni Inoue and Makoto Kubota are both playing Tokai Talbo guitars, an unusual design with an aluminum body.

Second is the vid for Mathew Sweet's "Girlfriend," featuring some typically off kilter soloing from the late great Robert Quine. It looks to be Sweet himself miming the solo in the video. I would chatise him for that, but its likely Quine didn't want to appear in the video anyways. The animated footage is from the Japanese sci fi piece Space Adventurer Cobra. When I saw the film a number of years ago I really didn't find it that great. The video makes it look far more interesting than it actually is.