Friday, February 25, 2011

Gas In Saskatoon, February 25, 2011.

If you thought the goings on in the Middle East wouldn't effect you directly you've probably changed your mind by now.  As a result of rising oil prices gas in Saskatoon is now 119.9 cents a litre at most locations.  Frankly I'm surprised the previous Saskatoon price, set on January 7th, lasted as long as it did.  The jump this week was 8 cents, and I won't be surprised if it goes up further in fairly short order.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CD Minus.

There has been much talk in recent years about the future of the recorded music business.  Downloads, both legal and illegal, have made a big dent in the sales of CDs.  Not only has it effected the record companies, as I still old-fashionedly tend to call them, but it's also hurt stores that sell CDs.  It would seem the decline has claimed another casuality.  While out and about today I found the CD Plus store in Confederation Mall had closed.  The fact the sign on the door announcing the closure didn't mention the other outlets in town made me suspect they were all going.  Sure enough the Midtown Plaza outlet is gone, and the sole remaning Saskatoon outlet, at the Centre at Circle and 8th, continues to have all merchandise at 30 percent off.  A quick search  online revealed that the chain's retail outlets across Canada seem to all be closing.  The company will continue online for the foreseeable future, but the obvious question is whether they can compete against for the online shopping market.

So, what's left for buying CDs in Saskatoon?  The HMV chain still has two stores in Saskatoon, one in Midtown Plaza, the other at the Mall at Lawson Heights.  Walmart, Futureshop, and Best Buy carry CDs, but obviously don't have the variety more specialised retailers do.  The two London Drugs stores in Saskatoon carry CDs, and I've bought quite a bit of Blue Note stuff from them over the last couple of years.  Then there's the independently run Vinyl Exchange, Vinyl Diner, and Tramps.  I would imagine all these outlets will be glad to see a competitor gone as they jockey for shares of the remaining market.  Ironically the independents might hold up better than one thinks, as they all offer music on vinyl and deal in used recordings. 

The way things are going maybe it's time to stock up on CD players....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not Really News.

The title of this post could apply to much of what comes out of the US tabloids, but today we're specifically looking at the latest issue of the National Examiner.  Amongst the headlines is one about how Pat Robertson is supposedly losing his mind.  I hate to break it to them, but lots of people have thought ole Pat was a loon a long time ago.  He likely doesn't have much mind to lose in the first place.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I've Been Troped!

Looking at my blog hits I noticed that one of them came from a TV Tropes page.  I took a look, and much to my surprise found a part of my post on the final episode of 6teen quoted on that page.  Funny to find myself in the company of Ursala K. Le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut, and Bugs Bunny.

Top Ten.

Does your child have a popular name?  According to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix the ten most popular baby boy's names in 2010 in Saskatchewan, in order, where Liam, Ethan, Jacob, Carter, Noah, Alexander. Logan, Owen, Lucas, and Hayden.  For girls they were Emma, Ava, Olivia, Sophia, Brooklyn, Ella, Sophie, Abigail, Chloe, and Avery.  It would be interesting to know what drives name popularity.  For example you might think that Jacob is popular due to the character from the popular Twilight book and movie series, yet Edward and Bella, also characters in the series, aren't in the top ten.  We also see evidence of a continuing trend, the femalisation of male names, with Avery being one of the top ten names for girls, although traditionally it has been a male name.   It would also be interesting to know how many kids are being given these names but with altered spellings, as in past years discussion of baby name trends has indicated many people give their children names without checking out how they're actually spelled, or alter the spelling to make it more "special."(If you're thinking about the latter, don't.  Your child is special because of who they'll be, not because of their name.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Today's Cassette, February 12, 2011.

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Today's cassette is Bill Frisell's, or if you want to be technically correct the Bill Frisell Band's, 1988 release Lookout For Hope.  This was his 3rd album under his own name for ECM, and his last before moving on to Elektra Nonesuch.  It features what was his working quartet at the time, which included Joey Barron on drums, Kermit Driscoll on bass, and Hank Roberts on cello.  Having a cellist reflects a love of unusual for jazz instrumentation that Frisell seems to have had from the start.  His previous album, Rambler, featured Bob Stewart on tuba, and in more recent years he has worked with musicians like steel guitarist Greg Leisz. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

An Old Teacher Of Mine.

Okay, not really.  But as with The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo this series was a staple of my childhood, being played over and over again on local TV.  Frankly I remember it being called Professor Kitzel and His Time Machine, but as you can see it was actually called The Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel.  Of course given that Kitzel showed us the stories with his "time machine" that confusion is really no surprise.  The voice work was done by Paul Soles, just one of so many roles he has played in the Canadian TV business.  Interestingly Paul Kligman is listed as one of the writers.  Kligman was the voice of J. Jonah Jameson on the '60s Spider Man cartoon alongside Soles, who voiced Peter Parker and Spider Man, and was a long serving member of Canadian comedy legends Wayne and Shuster's supporting ensemble.  This was obviously made on even more of a budget than Captain Nemo that didn't allow for the story segments to be given proper animation, but it still entertained a generation of kids.  It's also an ancestor of the modern Canadian animation industry that produces a lot of programming.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Weird Weather.

The weather has dominated much of the news over the last month.  We've had massive floods in Australia and multiple large blizzards in Eastern North America.  Even Saskatoon has had odd weather.  It's February 4, when you'd expect cold temperatures and snow.  Instead at noon today it was above freezing, partially cloudy, and I got rained on.  Yep, rain in Saskatchewan in February.  Yet at the beginning of the week we had nighttime temperatures below -30 degrees C.  The current forecast calls for the cold to come back on Sunday, yet towards the end of next week it looks like it may begin to warm up again.  You definitely won't get bored with the Saskatoon area weather this year.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

What Would Mr. Verne Think?

Jules Verne's classic 19th Century novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was one of the first examples of what is now considered the science fiction genre, and introduced the world to the character Captain Nemo.  There have been various variations on and expansions of the Nemo saga, including Verne's own The Mysterious Island.  One of the (presumably) lesser known ones is  The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo, a 1975 Canadian made cartoon that also aired in the US and elsewhere.  Set at some vague point in the future the series chronicled the adventures of Captain Mark Nemo, commander of the submarine the Nautilus, and his young charges Robbie and Chris.  The episodes were only five minutes each and included infornation abut the oceans and environment in their quick paced plots, being intended as educational programs. 

I'm not sure what got me thinking about the series tonight but a quick trip to YouTube turned up the episode above and several others.  These got played a lot on local TV stations when I was a kid in the '70s, but I'm not sure when the last time I saw one was. It's especially nice that the quality of most of what has been posted has been very good.  Surprisingly some of the episodes have been released on DVD, which is something I wouldn't have expected.  Presumably this is where these episodes came from.

Billie Mae Richards did the voices of the kids, Robbie having the typical "little boy" voice that she used in several variations for numerous characters over the decades, ranging from the Canadian made Spider Man cartoon of the '60s to the Carebears franchise of the '80s.

Like a lot of kids shows as an adult it's not hard to wonder what the parents of these kids were thinking.  Nemo's adventures weren't always safe.  Apparently mom and dad never heard about some of the things Robbie and Chris went through.  You'd also think Nemo's bosses would want him concentrating on his work, and not babysitting children.  Of course this being a '70s kids TV show no one actually put much thought into such weighty issues.  And the kids who watched it certainly didn't.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pity February.

Poor guy, he's the runt of the momths, with only 28 days, except for that extra day they let him have every four years.  So he goes by a bit quicker than his bigger sibs.  Some people might say having Valentine's Day smack dab in the middle is compensation.  But Valentine's Day is just a big middle finger to everyone who doesn't have a romantic partner(or partners if you're into poly relationships) in their life and wants one.  February's other big thing in North America is Groundhog Day, where some poor unsuspecting rodent is pulled from his nice warm home in the bizarre belief that you can tell how much longer Winter will last by looking at his shadow.  February is so pitiful that some places decided it needed a new holiday.  But what did it get?  A pity holiday called Family Day, not one of real importance.  So have a thought for February as his days go by.