Posted in Mixed Bag Special, Pop Culture, What? on March 27th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: George Carlin offered the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV” on his 1972 album, Class Clown, which caused more than a few legal problems for broadcasters at the time. Read: Appendix to Opinion of Court, to see the words. (NOTE: Appendix is NOT for the faint of heart.)

Anyway, the US House of Representatives recently passed an amendment to a section of the US Code “to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes.” What the punishment might be is not clear. But six of the seven words made it into the amendment – only the word that rhymes with “sits”, and refers to a part of the female anatomy, was left out. Lewis Black, rapidly becoming one of my favorite comedians, delivered a scathingly funny take on the new amendment on his most recent Back in Black segment on The Daily Show. It’s not available yet, but when it’s uploaded, I’ll link to it. In the meantime, check out “Back in Black – Series Finales“, to learn why he didn’t give two shakes about the end of Sex and the City. I’m looking forward to watching his HBO special, Black on Broadway, when it airs – wait a minute – oh yeah, we DON’T GET HBO in Canada. I forgot.

:: Tonya has a new Challenge of the Week. I may try to meet 10% of it.

:: Jerry Orbach may be leaving Law & Order to join – wait for it – the 3rd spinoff series, Law & Order: Trial by Jury. When will Law & Order: Library Fines, go into production?

:: I’ve received links to a few interested videos lately. Check out the History of the BBC News site, choose 1950s, and click on “Panorama.” You’ll watch a short documentary on the annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, broadcast on April 1, 1957. The BBC switchboard was lit up with callers wanting to know where they could buy spaghetti trees. (via Robert.)

Another message led me to this “index of videos” page. If your vehicle has ever been stuck in snow, and another vehicle tried to tow it out of the drift, this video will make you laugh and cringe (takes a while to load – forget it if you have dialup). Some of the videos are rude, some hilarious, some offensive – you’ve been warned.

:: Robert also sent a note about this: a non-English language site (appears to be Scandinavian) for the upcoming Thunderbirds movie. (Click on the viewer to see the trailer in Quick Time.) Yep, a live action version of the 1960s Supermarionation hit by Gerry Anderson, who also created Space: 1999.

:: From Jena’s site, a link to The Crimson Room. The English translation may remind you of “All your base are belong to us.” If you solve this, let me know before I commit suicide by beating myself to death with a wet sock. So far I’ve found only 10 of the items in the room. Jena, what did I do to you to deserve this?

:: I’m not much older than the Fender Stratocaster.

Peter Jackson Exposed

Posted in Pop Culture on March 2nd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Absolutely hilarious cartoon of LOTR director Peter Jackson, after winning the Oscar. (Via: Morrie.)

Topical Maps of Canada and the Oscars

Posted in Film, Pop Culture on March 1st 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: A colleague at work sent me an e-mail, pointing to a site called musicplasma, which “maps” artists of similar musical styles to each other. The idea is, you search an artist you like, and the resulting map will list artists you are most likely to also like, because of similar styles. I searched Steely Dan, and the artists listed as closest to Don & Walt’s sound are Cher, with Annie Lennox and Celine Dion not much farther away. Methinks the program creators don’t much like our boys from NYC. The site is interesting, but there isn’t much explanation as to why it even exists, what the colour scheme represents, etc.

In the same e-mail, however, was a link to Geist, a Canadian magazine “featuring the best in Canadian fiction, non-fiction, photography, comix and what-have you.” Check out Caught Mapping, which features thematic maps in .pdf format. The maps are quite good, but don’t translate well into a .pdf frame. Try these maps: The Erotic Map of Canada, which includes Hump Island, Bare Butt Bay, The Nipples, The Buttocks, and Lac du Pénis de Caribou. However, the funniest collection of names belongs to Newfoundland.

There is also The National Beer Map of Canada, The Doughnut Map of Canada, The Philosopher’s Map of Canada, and many more.

:: The 76th Academy Awards were nice, friendly, predictable, funny in parts, and came in well under four hours. New Zealanders were happy with the results, as well as with Keisha Castle-Hughes’ appearance as a nominee for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, for Whale Rider. Her family in NZ was very excited for her. She wore a special whale pin in her hair. Megan Gibb, reporting for the NZ Herald, provided a moment-to-moment commentary as the evening progressed. Another reporter took the NYTimes to task for describing Jackson as a “bespectacled Australian”.

Weblogs, Licence Plates, and Sampling

Posted in Blogging, Miscellaneous, Music, Pop Culture on February 25th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: What’s next in writing tools for weblogs? Dave Winer wants your opinion. I’m wondering if something like Textpattern is where things are headed. Then there is the corporate blog movement; anyone heard of SilkBlogs?

:: When I drive, I play word games with licence plates on vehicles in front of me. When it’s a plate with three letters, I try to form words using the letters in the order they appear from L-R. For example, my plate’s letters are WZN, which could be wheezing or waltzing. My previous licence plate was STR, which could be straight, stretch, mustard, magistrate, saturate, etc. Today I saw a plate with CRD, and could though of chord, card, cradle, etc. I also though of The Communards, an 80s UK band. Later while driving, I was switching radio stations (all of the pop music stations in Edmonton suck bobos), and the first song I heard was “Smalltown Boy”, by the Bronski Beat, which later became…The Communards.

Coincidence? Psychic phenomenon? Rift in the space-time continuum?

:: Grey Tuesday happened yesterday. An LA DJ, Danger Mouse, “created” a remix of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album, and released it on the Internet, calling it The Grey Album. (Jay-Z had released an a cappela version of The Black Album to encourage sampling.)

EMI, claiming copyright of The White Album, is attempting to stop the album’s distribution, having previously sent Mouse a cease and desist order, re: online distribution of the record. The Grey Tuesday web site notes that “Danger Mouse’s album is one of the most “respectful” and undeniably positive examples of sampling; it honors both the Beatles and Jay-Z.” Jason Kottke suggests that “musical sampling without prior consent of the copyright holder should be legally allowed because it does our society more good than harm.” Hundreds of web sites turned grey on Tuesday in protest.

I can’t buy this argument. I’ve been a musician for 37+ years, and don’t see anything creative or inventive in the “sampling” of another artist’s original work by adding new lyrics or rhythm, then claiming credit (or co-credit) for it as an original work. That opinion notwithstanding, how does not informing a copyright holder that her or his music has been taken by another “artist” and morphed into something else, do harm to society? WTF?

So why am I against this, while not against downloading? Because I believe these are two different issues. If the music industry can get its act together (right, and the sun will go nova this weekend, too) to create a fee-for-service downloading service, I’d be happy to pay to download music, if the fee structure was within reason, and the quality of the product could be guaranteed beforehand. So far, the industry hasn’t responded. And P2P downloading is legal in Canada. With “sampling”, an artist takes an original work, changes it, and we are expected to view this as a new, creative and unique product.

DJ Danger Mouse “honors” The Beatles with this effort? The album cover shows Jay-Z in the centre, with The Beatles standing behind him, as if to suggest collaboration. Still other versions have him sharing space with The Beatles on the Revolver and Yellow Submarine covers. Sacrilege.

Many artists allow sampling of their music, but the process begins with permission to use copyright material, and then negotiations for compensation with the copyright holder(s). Many other artists, The Beatles included, do not allow sampling.

Then again, this is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Comics I Don’t Understand

Posted in Pop Culture, Technology on February 23rd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Garth (old Wpg friend living in Mpls area) sent a link to The Comics I Don’t Understand Page. The owner uploads comic strips published during a one-week period, the punch lines or points of which he doesn’t get, and asks readers for their interpretation.

:: Keith advises that Microsoft is offering its Windows Security Update CD free of charge. “This CD includes Microsoft critical updates released through October 2003…” It’s useful if you are have a slow ‘net connection. More info available here. As well, updated info on the Mydoom and Doomjuice worm variants is available, including a free scan of your computer to see if it’s infected with either of these products.

Maria Dunn: The Ballads of History

Posted in Music, Pop Culture on January 25th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: I went to Maria Dunn’s concert on Saturday night. She performed two sets of original tunes, with support from Shannon Johnson and Dawn Anderson. In 1992-93, I was a member of The Invisible Jug Band, with Maria, Dawn, and Duke Bronfman. I had a blast performing with them at that time.

In the intervening 10-11 years, Maria has developed into a brilliant writer of historical ballads and songs. She is becoming, if she isn’t already, one of Canada’s best storytellers in song. Maria researches the history of places like Edmonton, where she (and I) live, Alberta, Ontario, and other parts of Canada. She finds stories about fascinating individuals who may have struggled for a cause, and then writes a deeply moving and very original songs about them. She is a national treasure, and I’m proud to be able to say I once performed on stage alongside her.

Maria has released two albums to date: From Where I Stand appeared in 1998, and her second album, For A Song, received a 2002 Juno Award Nomination in the Roots/Traditional Solo category. Both are recommended. Maria is in the studio now, finishing her much-anticipated third album.

:: Spam to end by 2006?

:: Nathan Sawaya makes life size Lego objects, such as Han Solo in Carbonite, the Death Star, a rabbit ambulance, a head, a dachsund, and more.