Monday, February 28, 2005

8 Comments/Questions About the Oscars

I bailed at 10:00 PM. Actually, it was more like 10:11. I hung on, hoping for things to get interesting, or something. Really, I think I was subtly aware that, once again, the Academy choose not to honour the best in film. Anyway, here we go:

1) Is it just me or does the lead singer of Counting Crows look exactly like Sideshow Bob? By the way, that song is BORING!

2) Why does Drew Barrymore get the label "multi-talented?" What, does she play the Aeolian Wind Harp, or something? And, while we are on introductions, why is Mike Meyers "lovely?"

3) Had anyone else noticed that Rene Zellweger holds her head with a kind of faux differential incline and wears a perplexing squinty eyed sour face? What's up?

4) I my opinion, Leonardo DiCaprio is our next Jack Nicholson. No further explanation is required. Let's just look back in twenty years and examine his hairline, wardrobe, and whether he wears sunglasses in doors (by the way, there are only four degrees of separation between me and Leo: I just have to work out how to get to Kevin Bacon in two more steps).

5) Johnny Depp may well be the next Marlon Brando, and here I am thinking about the later Marlon, or at least the Marlon of Apocalypse Now. Trust me on this one.

6) Beyonce can't sing to save herself. She looks nice (although her makeup last night was rather severe).

7) I liked Chris Rock's comments on Bush.

8) There were a few nice dresses.

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

GMail Invites

Wow, I have 50 to give away. Leave a comment if you want one.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

I have some of these:

You have to accept the definition they apply to gadget: The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time. In my cursory examination of the list, I noticed that there is a paucity of Ronco products. That has to be an oversight. After all, Ronco gave us Mr. Microphone and with it -and long before Seinfeld's "Master of my Domain" and "yada yada yada" - that essential phrase "Hey, good-looking! We'll be back to pick you up later!"

The list raises a few questions & comments:

Why is the Pez dispenser way down at #98?
How on earth did the inventor of the Tamagotchi manage to sell 40 million of them?
Tickle Me Elmo should make the list of most irritating gadgets of all time.
The Mattel Magic 8 Ball?
The Clapper? Even my grandmother didn't buy one of those, but she is cheap, so maybe that's the answer.

And, most importantly, why is the vibrator not on the list? I suppose because this list is from a male geek mag.

Anyway, you look and tell me what you think.

P.S. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Paul Cellucci, please go home and whine to someone else about your stupid missile defense plan.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

My Email to TV Ontario

TVO Kids and Advertising

While I am pleased to see that there are no commercials on TVO Kids, I am upset that you allow one entity to have what seems to be free advertising. The Bod Squad segments are extended advertisements for the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

Without going into an extended discourse on the relative value of cow's milk to the human diet (suffice it to say that, despite popular wisdom, there is a considerable debate on its merits, including interesting cases of links to autism and even osteoporosis, despite prevailing popular opinion - try a MEDLINE search if you want confirmation) you are pushing products that some parents do not want their children to have for many reasons.

Many children are allergic to milk and many parents recognize that cow's milk is not the perfect food it is portrayed as being. In addition, many immigrants, who form a large portion of your audience, do not choose to include dairy products in their diet. And yet, they too are being forced to watch these skits that promote, more than any other type of food, dairy products. What is even more interesting is that there have been segments promoting chocolate milk, which is packed with sugar. That is not a healthy food choice. It also amazes me that pizza is promoted as a healthy food. Saturated animal fats are not healthy.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Am I really this out-of-touch? and Sex Blogs

Pitchfork Media has released it's list of top 100 albums from 2000 to 2004. How can it be that I have only 4!? They are:

#041: Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
[Kranky; 2000]

#039: Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
[Capitol; 2003]

#021: Radiohead - Amnesiac
[Capitol; 2001]

#001: Radiohead - Kid A
[Capitol; 2000]

I am trying to decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I have so few of the top 100. Any ideas? At least I have the #1 album. Of course, I have issues with some of the items overlooked, but that's another story.

The good news is that I have none of these albums from the Museum of Bad Album Covers (although my dad has a couple).


I stumbled upon Eros Blog the other day. In addition to the link to I Am a Library Girl and Naked Librarians (which I had seen before), there is a lot of interesting stuff here. Maybe I shouldn't say too much else. Go there, if you like. Note that there is nudity and adult situations. Viewer discretion is advised.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Decline of the Urban Bank

The corner bank is disappearing in Toronto. Today, I noticed another one is gone. In my neighborhood, there is a brand new Pizza Pizza where a stately corner bank once stood. Now, the place has been desecrated by ugly orange and white tiles.

I understand the new economy of online banking, but I regret the passing of the bank on the corner. I am from a small town where the main street ran for a quarter mile. When I was a kid, there were four banks and each one stood on a corner. They are still there. In Toronto, they are dying only to be replaced by Pizza Pizza and 7-Eleven.

I think that there is something interesting about how bank architecture has changed over time - I have to admit having a particular fondness for early 20th century design. Later bank design just doesn't do it for me, and neither does later church design. Let's face it, modern banks and churches are ugly, and there is no reason for it. Any place where people go to worship (either some god or money) ought to be architecturally inspiring.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Thinking Outside the Box, HVD, etc.

I like this story. In Boise, Idaho, a city ordinance bans complete nudity at strip clubs. But, because there are exclusions for art (ballet, dance, dramatic performances, etc), the club is handing out pencils and paper two nights per week. Patrons are then permitted to sketch the models during their routines.


And, just when I thought I had caught up, by purchasing a DVD player, I read about the competing formats for the next generation, those being Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Fine, I thought. But, now we hear that six companies are working on a next next generation product called HVD, or Holographic Versatile Disc.

Evidently, in its final state, this disc will hold a terabyte of data, or the equivalent of 200 DVDs. It can also be used for data backup. But, let me ask you, who has a terabyte of data hanging around? And, having a terabyte of film on one disc sounds great, I'd hate to scratch it. That sounds expensive to replace.

Hey, Hunter S. Thompson is dead of an apparent suicide.

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Friday, February 18, 2005

14 Random Facts About Me

1st concert: Prism (with FM and the Pumps).

1st kiss: Veronica and Caroline under Veronica's porch when I was 7 or 8. I went first; Gordie went second. It was on the cheeks.

1st real kiss: I can't remember.

1st girlfriend: Heather - I was in grade 7; she was in grade 8.

1st car: Pontiac Ventura - it was brown and ugly and only had a AM radio.

1st job: cleaning store windows (age 10).

1st real job: summer job bailing hay & straw.

1st really real job: summer job as bartender, waiter, bell hop, etc.

1st office job: credit department at a major credit card company.

1st body modification: ear piercing.

1st time on TV: age 5.

1st fight: vs. Ray in grade 2 (there were only two fights in my life).

1st award: for perfect attendance in grade 6.

1st flight: to Florida, age 5.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Lost Bet (part five, the final part), in which I listen to the last of five CDs

Recap: I lost a stupid bet about movie dialogue (both the dialogue and the movie are too embarrassing to mention) and my punishment was to listen to five CDs of the winner's choice. The final CD is Monster Ballads.

I am not sure if I have saved the best or worst CD for last. Just looking over the cover filled me with trepidation. I didn't think I had heard any of these songs, but I did know one. I recognized lots of the band names. We have Warrant, Poison, Whitesnake, Europe, Cinderella, Extreme, etc. I'd say that the only thing missing is Beth (the KISS high school slow dance favourite).

The tag line on this CD is "Every bad boy has his soft side." On the back, there is even a picture of a hand with a lighter! Rock on. I have always felt that these hard rock guys put a power ballad on their albums for two reasons: the first is so that their fans - long-haired, earnest young men - will have a chance to score with their girlfriends (if they are lucky enough to have one; if not, it gives them a slow dance option). The second reason is that the ladies will request this song at radio stations around the world, because they are sick of the metal, and it will shoot to number one. And, you have to admit, it never fails.

And now, on to the CD. I have heard Almost Paradise. It sucks. Mr. Big sucks. Warrant sucks. I have heard Carrie before. It is unremarkable. Maybe it's the exhaustion of losing this bet and having to list to so much strange music, but I can only manage to summon the word suck. Maybe I need a thesaurus. How about this CD stinks. It is appalling, dreadful, frightful, horrible, horrific, shocking, terrible, abhorrent, abominable, detestable, obnoxious, offensive, repulsive, and revolting.

Is that too harsh? I am sure that there is someone out there with fond memories of some of these songs. If so, I am sorry if I have offended you.


No I know why Poison is called Poison: the music is poisonous.


Here is a good diversion.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Lost Bet (part four)

After the horror the preceding three CDs, I felt a sort of warm comfort when I put "Women and Songs" into my CD drive. (By the way, this is the first of these CDs. It has grown like some sort of noxious weed into a multi disc franchise).

My warm feelings were shattered by the self-important whining of Jewel. I fear I am going to offend legions of Jewel fans here, but let's be serious. She reminds me of Tori Amos, someone I have always characterized as a poor man's Kate Bush. In fact, I felt that Tori was some sort of novelty act after hearing her awesomely hilarious rendition of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Only later did I realize that people admired that perverse performance. And I was left waiting for her to do a breathy piano version of Stairway to Heaven. But, back to Jewel. The lyrics of Foolish Game are silly and embarrassing.

The good news is that there are some songs that I like on this CD. For instance, I like Suzanne Vega and the Pretenders. That might be it. Did you know that Tom's Diner refers to Monk's Cafe, the cafe used in Seinfeld? But, my overwhelming feeling about this disc is one of sleepiness. I could just drift off. And, that may be a good thing. There must be something redeeming about music that I can sleep to.

Here's a random fact about me. I once won tickets (thanks to K.) to see Moxy Fruvous. The opening act was Jann Arden. I didn't like her then and I don't like her now. Boy, anyone reading these recent posts might think that I hate all music. That's not really true. I tend to dislike popular music, but there are exceptions.

I should mention that I am not opposed to women singers. I like, for example, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, Bjork, The Breeders, Lush, Cocteau Twins, the Cranberries, P.J. Harvey, Linda Thompson, Lucinda Williams, Cassandra Wilson, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, etc.

An acceptable description of this disc has to include the term "adult contemporary." That's what it is after all: a middling collection of fairly uninspired tunes. On the other hand, I may have stumbled upon the perfect xmas gift for my father.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Self Portrait #2 (self-portrait #1)

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A Lost Bet (part three)

But first, on my way in today, listening to The Smiths, I recalled a dream I had last night. In the dream, I was asked to sing the national anthem at some major sporting event in a huge stadium. The crowd was enormous. Anyway, I walked out, stood before the microphone, and forgot the words. The crowd took over, keeping up with the music. I decided to sing along with the crowd, but I lost the tempo, and, so, I was seriously out-of-time. The whole thing was a mess, and I was chased from the field by an angry mob. It turns out, that in my dream, I was a lousy singer. With that in mind, I move on to the third CD I am forced to listen to.

This dream provides a good segue to today's CD, for I have decided that Bon Jovi cannot sing. I am in the midst of the disastrous Keep the Faith. I am not sure I will be able to make it to the end.

The AllMusic Guide's description really sums it up for me. They write: "the New Jersey-based quintet developed an ingratiatingly melodic and professional variation of hard rock -- one that appealed as much to teenagers as to housewives." Therein lies the issue for me: I am neither a teenager nor a housewife. Let me also say that I object to AllMusic's comparisons with Bruce Springsteen. AllMusic would have you believe that Bon Jovi merged aspects of Def Leppard with Bruce Springsteen. If you ask me, it's more like Rick Springfield and Twisted Sister.

And that voice! It's like fingernails on a blackboard. I don't think I can take it. I'd rather listen to Boney M or Gloria Gaynor or even Milli Vanilli. Here is perhaps the most surprising thing: I had never heard any of these Bon Jovi songs before. It's true. Oh, and I say that "I Want You" is the worst song on the CD.

So, in the end, I am comfortable reporting that Bon Jovi sucks! Now, I need some Tylenol.

Three down, two to go.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

A Lost Bet (part two)

Today, I am Spin Doctoring. Cd #2 is the Spin Doctors, a band, believe it or not, I had never heard of before. (Read the previous post if you have no idea what I am talking about). I know, this might seems amazing to some of you but, trust me, there are lots of bands I have never heard of.

First impressions: I hate the cover. Second impressions: the dudes in the band are trying way too hard to look cool. That is always a bad sign, especially when there are hats, scarves, and baby ZZ top beards involved.

So, I made a stop at AllMusic to get an informed opinion about this odd looking bunch of guys. Somewhat surprisingly, the folks at AllMusic give this motley looking crew a positive spin. They say, "not only could immerse themselves in a groove, but they also had concise pop skills." And so, off to the CD.

It's not as bad as I had imagined. There is guitar, drums, a not too irritating vocalist. But, I have to say that the lyrics do nothing for me. They are remarkably lame and uninspired. Having said that, there is little here for me. It's largely average-ish and too much like so many other bands for me. But, I could listen to it again, even without a gun to my head, although I would probably never choose to do so, and will never buy this CD.

So, I am not going to say that its sucks. I should be happy that the person I lost the bet to didn't force something more objectionable on me. Of course, I have three more CDs to go.

I just ate a banana. (not in public, mind you).

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Friday, February 11, 2005

A Lost Bet (part one)

I lost a bet and my punishment is that I have to listen to five CDs of the victor's choice, and not necessarily ones that the victor likes. It's more like things that are known to be antithetical to my tastes. And so, I am horrified to report that I am typing this while listening to Mariah Carey's #1's complete with bonus tracks. I am using headphones and, if someone should come into my office and ask what the tunes are, I will have to say something I consider to be the opposite of Mariah, which is probably Skinny Puppy or Throbbing Gristle,or maybe even Mandy Patkinin (ok, so the last one is a joke).

So far, I have listened to five songs and they pretty much all sound the same. I feel like there is something boring huge chunks out of my brain. It may well lose thought capacity and slide down the IQ scale. I have to say that as much as I dislike it, I don't feel like I am under aural assault like when I happen to hear Celine Dion. Of course, my feelings about her music are known.

My final review of Mariah is that the music is unremarkable. I even hesitate to apply the term music to it. It almost doesn't qualify. Her voice is irritating, making me think of sand paper on skin. What's worse is that she sings with such self-importance. She's not that good.

On the positive side, the dress she is wearing on the cover is fabulous.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Clearly, no one cares about Star Trek. Or, at least, that is what someone just told me. So, move on, I must.

Somehow, I ended up in a conversation about underwear today. And, it reminded me of a story I read earlier today. Virginia (the state, not the girl) has passed a law that authorizes fines for anyone wearing droopy pants. If your underwear is showing, you can get a $50 fine. This begs lots of questions, but mostly, I have to wonder why the United States is so puritanical? My second question is: are they targeting teenagers or plumbers? If plumbers, then I am with them. If teenagers, then I am opposed. We don't need to alienate the youth more than they already are.

And, get this: an Oklahoma judge has been forced to retire after he was found masturbating on the bench during proceedings. Evidently, he was using some sort of penis pump (on many occasions), which made a whooshing sound. Charges are pending. OK, so I know that legal types are weird and probably under-sexed, but can court really be that exciting? I have served as a juror, and let me tell you that I found the environment to be less than stimulating. Maybe that was it: maybe he was just bored.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Star Trek

Finally, this is what you have all been waiting for; a post about Star Trek. It has been announced that Enterprise is wrapping up this spring after 4 seasons. Oddly, the word cancellation was not used. Clearly, the show has been cancelled, despite the spin put on it by the network.

I am a casual Star Trek fan. I have seen many of the episodes, but certainly not all. I am not a trekker or a trekkie; I do not speak Klingonese; I do not own Star Trek paraphernalia. In fact, I like to point out some of the flaws in the so-called science of Trek. My biggest question is why they have doctors. Once you have complete control over matter and energy (and they do via the transporter and later technology, like the holodeck), why do you need doctors? Such technology makes doctors irrelevant. Oh, and don't get me started on time travel (just remember what Stephen Hawking said on that subject: “Time travel is not theoretically possible, for if it was they’d already be here telling us about it!”). Anyway, back to Enterprise.

When the concept of Enterprise was announced, I was skeptical. I felt that the idea of a prequel was a bad one. But, as it happens, I think that the show is far better than I ever would have imagined, except for the fact that it is badly cast. I mean, other than Jolene Blalock (as T'Pol) and John Billingsley - who has turned the character of Dr. Phlox into the best doctor in the Star Trek franchise - there is not much depth. I mean, Lt. Mayweather? He is the lamest character ever. Malcolm? He's a whiner. They make Wesley Crusher look good.

My other problem with this series is that it did little of what a prequel ought to do. In fact, it has largely ignored much of the material that originally appeared on the so-called original series. It has made no effort to prequelize anything, so far at least. But, it is a far better series than Voyager. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my last word on Star Trek.

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A Cold

I hate getting colds. I woke up this morning with a bad one. Don't you hate that feeling of a cold coming on when you sleep? It just creeps up on you during the night, and makes you feel like crap. I tried to check my email, but it is down, so I feel rather disconnected from the world. It's amazing how much I rely on email.

Kissing in Indonesia

Did you hear that Indonesia may ban kissing in public, but only if you are unwed? If you are co-habiting, your home may even be raided. If passed, these laws would include prison terms for exposing "certain sensual body parts". I wonder which parts they mean. Some lips are very sensual. Some eyes are too. If certain people I know went to Indonesia, they would have to walk around with a bag on their head to avoid a jail sentence. These laws can't help with tourism, I would think. It is a move in the wrong direction.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Conference

I have to say that the speech by Stephen Lewis at OLA was, without any question, the most moving speech I have ever heard. It was one of those speeches that I wished everyone in the world could have heard. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, you must.

I used to have a theory that the whole conference thing was a fraud. I felt that those in attendance were there simply to get out of work and that those presenting were there for much the same reasons, but to also puff up their CVs. I think I have moderated my opinion, but I am still amazed that there can be so wide a range of quality of presentation. I presented two years ago at this conference, and I believe that those in attendance learned something, or at least went away with something to think about. I have to say that I attended some sessions that were less than stellar.

Perhaps people just go for the free wine and food and socializing.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

I survived the conference. Actually, it was a rather enjoyable conference, if a bit long. I can never figure out why they plan conferences that run until Saturday and even Sunday. Let's be reasonable and end the conference on a Friday. Why not make it Wednesday to Friday instead of Thursday to Saturday. This would improve my conference enjoyment rate by a factor of ten.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I forgot...

to mention that I picked up a copy of Valley of the Giants. This is a fabulous CD, and it only cost me $7.99 at Soundscapes on College Street! Go get it.

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Million Dollar Baby, Tom Hanks, Simian Porn, and Same-sex Marriage

The Movie

I felt like I was watching Rocky albeit with an unRocky-like ending. Hillary was quite good, as was Clint, although he reminds me of a friend of my dad's, except that my dad's friend is missing part of his forehead. I believe a huge swath of cancerous skin was removed. It's quite difficult to not look at it.

I do like Morgan Freeman, but he seems to always play the same character. Part way through the film, I started to wonder where Miss Daisy was. I feel the same way about Tom Hanks. It's not that he is a bad actor. Well, to be honest, I think he is very mediocre. I cannot suspend my disbelief: I just see Tom Hanks on the screen. So, I suggest that from now on, he just be cast as Tom Hanks. His name should be Tom Hanks in every movie. Don't you think it would have been more interesting if it had been Tom Hanks, and not some fictional courier guy, who was stranded in Castaway?

Monkey Pornography

Did you hear that some scientists have proven that monkeys like to watch porn? They found that monkeys will give up their juice rations to see images of female monkey butts and the faces of dominant males (they likened that to an interest in paparazzi) on computer screens. Does this mean that there will soon be monkey porn sites on the web?

Same-sex Marriage

I am dismayed by the results of the recent National Post/Global survey that found 66% of Canadians favour the "traditional" definition of marriage. Can we really be that insensitive? This is a basic human rights issue. I know a lot of gay people, and I am upset by these results. Of course, you never know who the Post interviewed. No mention of who the survey group was comprised of is mentioned. Maybe it was National Post readers. That group is not representative of the Canadian population.

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I'm Not Here

I'll be at a conference for the next three days, so don't expect anything new from me.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New Template; New Comments

Haloscan comments disappear after 4 months and I am too cheap to pay their fee. So, I decided to go with Blogger Comments, but I couldn't get them to work with my last template, so I changed it. And then, I started putting all of the comments back (manually) and then suddenly, Blogger tells me that comments have been disabled for each post I try to add comments to. So, the short story is that a good number of pithy comments, and my even pithier replies, are now gone. What a pithy... I mean pity.

By the way, did anyone notice that the Blogger spell-checker no longer works?

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