Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dave Cockrum, RIP.

Sad news to report. Comic book artist Dave Cockrum has died of diabetes related complications. Cockrum worked on numerous titles over the years, but is probably most remembered for his role in turning the X Men from a second string comic property into the juggernaut it would become in the 1980s. Cockrum also played a major role in setting the tone for DC's Legion of Superheroes with his early '70s run as artist on their title. Peter David has a post on Cockrum' death here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Future of the Saskatoon Free-Net.

This evening I received a message in my e-mail about the upcoming general meeting for the Saskatoon Free-Net. The obvious question of course is if the organisation has much of a future, which will be discussed at the meeting. It currently serves primarily as an e-mail service while hosting a few web pages. However taking a look at some of them this evening it's obvious that some are no longer updated, while others merely point to the current pages of whoever ran them. Even the SFN homepage itself has sections that obviously haven't been updated in a good while. It's hard to say what value the service continues to have in an era of easily accessible free e-mail services. I know my continued use of the SFN for e-mail is as much inertia as anything else, and I would guess it's the same for other users. Funnily enough I found my old SFN profile page is still up. Not that I can actually do anything to it, but it's still there.

If you're interested the meeting will be held December 18th in the Meeting Room of Rusty McDonald Library in the Lawson Civic Centre, starting at 7 pm.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Spoke Too Soon.

I was wrong in my last post. Today I got a bunch more of that same annoying e-mail. Oh well, it only takes a few seconds to delete them.

Friday, November 24, 2006


The past few days I've been getting a bunch of bogus eBay messages in my e-mail, all purporting to be from the same eBay seller asking for payment. Of course the item in question isn't one I purchased. Usually you get a bunch of these a week claiming to be about different eBay transactions, not all about one. Most peculiar. In any case I just checked my mail, and I haven't received any in a few hours. So either it was a really clueless scammer who gave up, or someone finally cleaned a virus out of their e-mail system.

Tony Carey On Youtube.

In a shameless attempt to keep the hit counter spinning here are are a couple of vids from Tony Carey on Youtube. First is the video for "A Fine, Fine Day," which hit number one on the Billboard Rock Tracks chart in March of '84. Carey also released material as Planet P, and from the self titled Planet P debut here's "Why Me?" which got some radio play in North America as well.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

John Allan Cameron, RIP.

Reading in the paper this morning that East Coast music vet John Allan Cameron has died of cancer at 67 surprised me. Frankly it's been a long time since I've seen anything to do with him. And this is kind of a surprise. Given the success of groups like Great Big Sea you'd think he'd have been more visible given that he was promoting East Coast Celtic music when a lot of today's performers in the genre were probably banging their heads in their bedrooms to Motley Crue.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Sixth Family Under Attack.

As Canadian readers may have heard by the time they read this police have launched a major series of raids against figures in Montreal's "traditional" organised crime community. This includes senior mob figure Nick Rizzuto. Anyone interested in more background on this situation might want to check out The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto by Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphreys. Lamothe and Humphreys present the history of the Rizzuto family's rise to the top of Canadian organised crime, and argue that it should be considered the Sixth Family of North American organised crime alongside the infamous Five Families of New York's Mafia community. Vito Rizzuto is currently in an American jail for his alleged role in the murder of several New York mobsters in 1981, an event detailed in the book and also presented in the Johnny Depp film Donnie Brasco.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Angelina Jolie, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I was in McNally Robinson today and spent some time browsing through the comic collections. One of the ones I thumbed through was the trade paperback of Marvel's Secret War, not to be confused with Secret Wars, Marvel's 1980s crossover miniseries that introduced Spider Man's black symbiote costume that eventually joined with some other guy and became Venom.(If you're not a comic book fan that last bit likely has you shaking your head.) One of the characters introduced in this series is Daisy Johnson, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who can create earthquakes, and just happens to be the daughter of long running Marvel villain Mr. Hyde.(Long running indeed, since Hyde first appeared way back in 1963.)

And she looks like Angelina Jolie. Quite literally. If you didn't pick up on this instantly you've probably been living in a cave for the last 10 years. In one way I'm surprised they'd do that in our litigious age. Jolie might object to her likeness being used without her permission in a continuing character, since the character has appeared post Secret War. On the other hand this isn't the first time Marvel has done something like this. Justin Hammer, a long running foe of Iron Man's, was all but certainly modeled physically after Peter Cushing, the veteran British actor who appeared in numerous Hammer horror films and as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. For that matter the Marvel version of Hercules, who first appeared in the 1960s, was probably based on Steve Reeves' portrayal of the character.

As for the series itself the art is cool, but I found the actual story a little blah. In it Nick Fury recruits several Marvel heroes for a secret mission into Latveria when the US government refuses to take action against a terrorist plot being planned by Latveria's Prime Minister.(See what happens when you don't read comics? I had no idea that Dr. Doom had been deposed, yet again, as despot of Latveria.) Unfortunately his actions come back to bite him in the rear, as is often the case in covert ops. As this takes place in the regular Marvel Universe this story features the classic white dude WW2 vet with an eye patch Nick Fury, versus the Nick Fury in Marvel's Ultimate line who is a black dude.

With an eyepatch.

On the same eye no less. Geez, why not at least switch eyes?

Included are excerpts from Fury's personal computer files, and I had to smile at the entry for Jimmy Woo. It subtly acknowledges the fact that Woo is no spring chicken, something no doubt intended to make older Marvel fans smile. After all Woo first appeared the late 1950s as an opponent of the Yellow Claw, and apparently current Marvel continuity has him being around in that era. Jasper Stilwell also appears, another nice surprise for long suffering Marvel fans.

While we're talking about Angelina Jolie and comics, here's a suggestion for the braintrust at Marvel's movie division if they stumble across this post. Angelina Jolie as the Black Widow. Seriously, I could imagine her as Natasha Romanov.


Having a bit of a cold I bought some Halls cough candies yesterday. I just went to look at them only to find they aren't in the pocket of the pants I wore yesterday. It seems I lost them someplace. Crap, $1.37 gone. I only had one.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Know Your Topic.

If you're going to advocate some controversial position you should know a great deal on the subject. Not doing so will get you in trouble. While trying to look up a pistol manufacturer on Google I stumbled across a pro-gun control blog called Gun Guys. Skimming through it I came across this piece about a young woman suing the careless hunter who shot her. The young woman was hit by a 7mm Magnum slug. That fact resulted in the following comment: He was shooting at a deer with a 7mm rifle? Did he expect there to be any of it left afterwards?

Apparently the writer didn't bother to do any research. The 7mm calibre is a common size for hunting deer. It's in roughly the same size range as the .30 calibre rounds that have long been a standard hunting calibre. The clown in question no doubt expected to find the majority of the deer to be where it fell after he shot it. All that making a statement like that does is allow one's opponents to point to it as an example of your general ignorance on the subject, and hence that your ideas shouldn't be taken seriously. And if there's anything that gun control foes are going to jump on it's anything that indicates an ignorance of firearms.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Request For Howard Lederer and Chris Rose.

If you guys do Poker Superstars IV, and Eli Elezra takes part, please find out how his first name is pronounced and stick with that pronuciation, please? It's rather annoying when you both say it differently, and aren't consistent about it. It'll take you all of about 2 seconds to ask the man. I'd hate to think how you'd mangle my last name given the chance.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Like any sensible person I believe that one should practice safe sex. However one should also dispose of one's birth control equipment in an appropriate fashion. This afternoon I saw a condom draped over the seat divider on a bus. As you might imagine I made no effort to see if it had been used or not. If it had been used I can only imagine what kind of pig would dispose of it in a public place like that. Of course it's far more likely it wasn't used, and was simply put there as someone's idea of a crude joke. After all no one is likely to be having sex on a city bus during the daytime, and who carries used condoms along with them?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spy Versus Spy.

The front page of today's National Post carries a report that a man has been detained on charges he was conducting espionage against Canada. The news item alleges that the man was a Russian, and that he was an illegal, that is a foreign intelligence operative operating under a false ID, versus someone operating under diplomatic or other legal cover. The obvious question that came to my mind on seeing this is how the spies of an ally would be treated. Would say an American illegal be arrested and charged, or would a double standard be observed and said illegal quietly asked to leave the country?

Anyone who doesn't think allies spy on each other is foolish. The world of espionage is a dirty one, and you spy on whoever you can spy on. It has for example been alleged that the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian equivalent of the US signals intelligence agency the National Security Agency, intercepted the telephone calls and other transmissions of American trade negotiators. Then there is the well known case of Jonathan Pollard, an American tried and convicted of espionage for US ally Israel against the US. In the end national interest trumps friendship.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Beat Goes On.

I was putting my bed back together a bit ago after washing the mattress pad, mattress cover, and quilt today. As I did so I was listening to Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto. This was one of the first CDs I bought when I got my first CD player as a Christmas present 16 years ago. I bought it on a trip to Regina, which for some reason at the time seemed to have a good bit of Japanese pop music floating around. I stumbled across this disc in an HMV, not specifically looking for it. 16 years later it's still going strong. This is especially cool given the fears of CD rot that have been floating around at different times over the years. Thousand Knives was Ryuichi Sakamoto's first album, released in 1978 at around the time Yellow Magic Orchestra released its first album. An interesting album to pick up if you're interested in what could be done with late '70s commercial electronic music equipment.


The past while it seemed like the only way gas prices were headed in Saskatoon is down, including a drop early this week. No longer. The price of gas rose 5 cents a litre today to 90.5 cents. It could be worse I suppose, since it could have gone up quite a bit more. But I would suspect that we may see the price rise fairly rapidly in the next little bit.

Monday, November 13, 2006


While I was talking to my brother in BC on the phone yesterday I mentioned that former Supertramp singer Roger Hodgson was coming through town on a solo tour. He mentioned that that Hodgson and the other members must really hate each other if they can't do some sort of reunion tour. After all a reunion of the "classic" lineup would be the kind of gig that could be expected to make lots and lots of money with 200 buck a shot seats. Hodgson and Rick Davies did try and reunite as Supertramp in 1993 but it didn't work. So perhaps they don't have a great deal of emnity towards each other, but just can't agree musically anymore.

One group that we know is currently beset by personal dislike is Van Halen. Michael Anthony had been there from the beginning, taking part in every lineup. But this has all come to an end with a report that Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang is replacing Anthony. This comes on the heels of various interviews over the past year that indicate amongst other things Anthony is no longer speaking with Eddie Van Halen, and that the Van Halen brothers wanted him out at least as long ago as the 2004 tour with Sammy Hagar. One can only wonder at how much dislike there is floating around amongst them that they'd want Anthony, who has been loyal to the group for 3 decades, gone.

Whatever happens hopefully young Wolfgang will act as a damper on some of Eddie's current excesses, and hopefully he'll be able to stand up to the pressure of being part of a major band at the ripe old age of 15.

Unfortunately sometimes the tensions of the business of a band can even trump blood. John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival and his brother Tom Fogerty were unable to truly reconcile their relationship even while Tom was terminally ill. This was all the result of the interpersonal problems that split CCR and John's feelings of betrayal when Tom didn't take his side in his financial dispute with Fantasy Records.

The Perils of Youtube.

Youtube is a great place to find videos of all sorts of interesting things. Unfortunately said videos are often ephemiral. This is especially the case of copyrighted materials. I just went on Youtube to look at a live video by Japanese new wave group the Plastics of their song "Top Secret Man." Unfortunately the video has disappeared. This has happened to a lot of things I've watched on Youtube, including some I've linked to here. So if you like something watch it while you can. It is possible to download Youtube vids but its rather a pain in the rear since the service wasn't designed for that.

Incidentally the Plastics were the first Japanese pop group many people likely were exposed to when their promo video for "Top Secret Man" aired on an early '80s episode of SCTV.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I was just checking the size of files in the recycle bin on my computer. There are 1.22 gigabytes in there at the moment. Just a few years ago having a one gigabyte hard drive on your computer was the cutting edge of technology, yet now I can have that much in junk files in one place alone. And the 80 gig hard drive currently on my computer is starting to look small by the standards of current drives. Of course as hard drive sizes have gone up so has the size of programs and the files they handle. I can't help but wonder though if it hasn't lead to sloppy programming. After all clever programmers did some amazing things with the by today's standard miniscule memories and tiny floppy drives on machines like the Commodore 64 back in the '80s, let alone the even more primitive devices on machines like the Voyager space probes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Supper Imitates Art.

Yesterday I received a package of several CDs I ordered from One of them was Chicken Skin Music by Ry Cooder. And what did I have for supper? Chicken, with the skin on it. Cool album as well.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Tip.

Don't shave with your electric razor while trying to watch a boxing match on TV. You'll probably miss a spot.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

No Money For Me.

Alas, I didn't make it through the first hour. I played a couple of hands too far and lost a bunch of chips, enough to weaken me too much. Oh well, you can't get lucky all the time. Besides, to make even a buck I would have had to finish 270th or better.

This Time For Real.

In less than a half hour I'll be doing something I've never done before, playing online poker with a chance of winning money. The online poker room PokerStars has a Sunday tournament that you enter by placing 27th or better in one of the multiple freerolls they offer each day. I took part in one last night, and managed, much to my surprise, to make it. In fact I came in 8th out of an initial field of 10,000. I never thought I'd get that far. As you can imagine there were some big hands, including one where I went all in with a pair of kings, picked up the third king and won something like 250,000 chips, making it the biggest hand I've played yet if I'm not mistaken.

I doubt I'll make the money today. Even if I do I won't win much, as the maximum prize is apparently 200 bucks, and the lowest prize is, well, very low. But just getting the chance at winning actual money is a pleasure. Especially when it didn't cost me a dime.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Streak Is Broken.

Wow, I managed to go a week without posting here. I had several ideas for posts, but I never got around to writing them. Sometimes that's just as well, as there are enough half assed posts on here already.