Friday, November 9, 2007

A great disturbance in the lunch line

British comic genius Eddie Izzard's "Death Star Cafeteria" bit, now with stop-motion Lego animation. (vaguely NSFW, swearing)

[via Whatever]

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Two wheels is plenty

It takes two (three?) things to do what the guy in the Messerschmidt microcar does here: balls made of steel--and brains made of, well, steel. Or anything else that isn't nerve tissue.

Tip o' the hat to Melvin C. Thudpucker for this one.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Well, that only took a month...

Vacation snaps: (click the slideshow to see 'em bigger)

Kinda likin' this Picasa deal. Not quite as nice as Flickr in some ways, but pretty good at photo management.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Montreal, Day One

The Montreal Festival of Cognitive Dissonance
So I found it kind of amusing that before the trip began, my sole Quebecois coworker--who happens to be a young, foxxxxay female--began her advice by listing strip clubs, and after a list of more respectably touristy things, ended her schpiel by announcing "Oh, and if you wanna--'ow you say, pay for fucking?--go to Ontario Street." (Do I radiate loneliness that badly? Please say no...)

Anyway, I figured at the time this was some kind of knowing joke on the part of a long-ago urban planner: "Hey Gilles, where we gonna put dese prostitute?" "How 'bout Rue Ontario? Dat'll show dose Toronto fuckers..."

Today, though, was apparently the fifth annual running of an international festival called "Dans la ville sans ma voiture" ("In the city without my car") which, in its Montreal iteration, involves closing down eight or ten blocks worth of Rue Ste. Catherine and associated cross streets--for my fellow Calgarians, think a much less crowded 4th Street Lilac Fest--and parading throngs of happy, giggling preschoolers down a street that, when it's not full of stores[*], seems to be giant ornate churches on one side--and hole-in-the-wall *ahem* establishments offering "Live Nudes" and "Contact Dancing" down the other. Some of you will no doubt be glad to know the Bill 101 folks seem all right with *that* in English.

[*] he said in a Dave Bowman voice

A Cobblestone In Every Street and a Cathedral For Every Parishioner
Coming from Calgary, a town so in love with reinventing itself architecturally--and so new in the first place--that any building that predates Hitler invading Poland seems like a rare, precious link to a past so remote it hardly seems real. Montreal, on the other hand, has so much architectural history they don't know what to do with it. The guidebooks recommend a walking tour of Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal) with its cobblestone streets, 17th and 18th century French architecture and insanely high gift shop-to-possible customer ratio, and they're quick to play up the strengths of the huge, gothic Notre Dame cathedral--but a five-minute walk through any part of downtown picked at random is guaranteed to turn up at least a handful of charming old buildings--one of which is probably gonna be some breathtaking basilique, cathedral or the like. And three quarters of those are named after the Virgin Mary, so it gets a little confusing.

Evidently I Am Not A Cunning Linguist
Three ways a discussion can go with a Montreal shopkeeper/server/customer service what-have-you, assuming your language skills are identical to mine:

1. Begin in English. The other party, being a consummate professional in a bilingual city, will of course follow--and you'll end up feeling a vague sense of Liberal Guilt(tm) over your Insidious Cultural Imperialism(R) if they have even a smidgen of a French accent. Which they probably do, since like 80% or something of this city rocks la langue Francaise when they have a choice about it.
2. Begin in French. The other party, being a consummate professional in a bilingual city, will of course switch to English before you have a chance to embarass yourself any further. Liberal cultural imperial guilty whatever see above.
3. Allow them to begin in French, and if you're lucky you'll be able to get by with only "Oui", "Non" and "Non, merci". And feel like the worldly cultural sophisticate you are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

VAY-KAY-SHUN, or, Je commence un voyage

Well, I'm off to the land of poutine and Leonard Cohen for a week. This isn't the standard "I apologize in advance for neglecting my blog" post because I pretty much do that anyway, so expect me to actually have something interesting to say and/or share when I get back, if not sooner.

Unless the Language Cops drag moi away for le murdeur vicieux de langue francais, in which case send baguettes, Camus and a t-shirt that says "I didn't mean that about Levesque".

To celebrate, here's Flight of the Conchords explaining in musical fashion what to do with un anana you find in la supermarche.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

[Brand of your shirt] + [Brand of your pants/skirt]

My science fiction name is Lucky 13 Guess.

That is every possible kind of awesome.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Just like the '50s, bro!

Headline: Bush: U.S. Will Call End to Korean War When North Stops Nuclear Pursuits

The great news about this is that the Iraq war might be over as soon as 2060! By which time the reanimated John F. Kennedy will capture America's hearts with a promise to put a zombie on the moon by decade's end, and we might finally hear the last part of Richard M. Nixon's Piano Concerto No. 1. Assuming he doesn't burn the tapes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What's on John Lennon's iPod?

Did I say "iPod"? I meant "portable 40-record jukebox". Excellent documentary on what were apparently the late Beatle's 40 fave 45s.

[via Smashing Telly]

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Brought to you by the letter "B"

Tonight's feature presentation: Arch Hall Jr. in "The Choppers". Crazy beatnik slang? In like flint, Daddy-O. Juvenile delinquents stealing car parts? Oh yeah. Enough shots of a Nailhead-powered T-Bucket that it ought to have gotten co-star credit? Koolsville...

and the crowning touch, a song called "Monkey in a Hatband?" Burn rubber, baby!

[via the H.A.M.B.]

Saturday, August 18, 2007

When an egg loves a calculator

Petra Haden, "Don't Stop Believin'"

[via Whatever]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Three Sheets to the Wind In Bloggenhagen (with Chuck E. Weiss)

Tonight's feature presentation: a twofer of Tom Waits, 70's style.

"The Piano Has Been Drinking" on "Fernwood 2night"

"Eggs and Sausage" on "The Mike Douglas Show"

[both via Bedazzled!]

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Carlos & Buddy

Carlos Santana joins Buddy Guy onstage at the Montreaux Jazz Festival.

More blues in 6/4 at MeFi.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The sky above the port was the colour of a television tuned to a dead channel

It's Which-X-Are-You time again!

I am:
William Gibson
The chief instigator of the "cyberpunk" wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You know those guitars that are, like, double guitars? (AKA the ICFBTHDG's 138th200th episode spectacular)

Zack Kim plays the Simpsons theme.

Two guitars not enough for you? Okay, then, double it with the Aranjuez Guitar Quartet:

Also, in lieu of intelligent commentary on last night's Rush gig, I direct you to the estimable Sir Mark de Zaugg, with only the additional comment that the sound managed to suck in an entirely different way where Melvin and I were seated. Yay for the acoustical properties of western novelty-shaped hockey arenas! The show itself, though? Frickin' sweet, man. I wish they'd have gone as deep into the '70s stuff as they did on the Vapour Trails tour, but the swing era tribute Neil ended his drum solo with and the South Park and Bob & Doug Mackenzie cameos went a long way towards making up for it.

Gentlemen, start your engines

The 1941 Indy 500, in glorious colour!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Wizard of Waukesha

An hour-and-a-bit long documentary on one of the true giants of the twentieth century, jazz guitar virtuoso and inventor Les Paul.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Well, Bert would be happy with this one, then

Top Gear's James May races a Ford SportKa against... are you ready for it? A pigeon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Well, that only took ten days or so...

As promised, here's a look at the '07 Diablos hot rod show. In glorious cameraphone-o-vision.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Attention, hepcats

"Art Ford's Jazz Party", circa sometime in the '50s.

Found on, which is most definitely the new hotness of Internet video sites.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

So that's why they're so concerned about "precious bodily fluids."

Teh Gay, soon to be available in convenient chemical weapon form:

Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called “Gay Bomb.”

The Ohio Air Force lab proposed (in 1994) that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another…

[via warren ellis]

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

911 Never Forget

In which the estimable Mr. Jeremy Clarkson attempts to visit destruction upon a poor, innocent '80s Porsche, for the crime of being too small, too ergonomically poor and too German. Reminds me of my high-school days, when we used to run into buildings and mow down fenceposts in my friend's old '67 F100 and managed nothing worse than to dent the grill a little bit. I wish I'd bought it--I could be leasing it out to the BC government, unleashing the rage of a 390 FE V8 on the pine-beetle ravaged forests of the Interior in order to save what's left.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Coulda been worse, I coulda wound up Rock Hudson...

Your Score: Clark Gable

You scored 23% Tough, 28% Roguish, 42% Friendly, and 4% Charming!

You're a pretty interesting guy, all man but approachable and friendly. You like the lovely ladies, but you're also a real stand up guy with a true sense of honor and duty. You're respected by most men, although they probably wouldn't trust you alone with their girlfriends and even wives. Women find you intriguing, drawn to your playful sense of fun and true-blue core. You think most women are rather silly, but strong dames with smarts really turn you on, and you tend to marry them. Leading ladies include Claudette Colbert and Vivien Leigh, women who find you somewhat charming but a little dangerous.

>Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

And for the lay-deez: take the Classic Dames Test.

[via No Smoking In The Skull Cave]

Monday, June 4, 2007

Satchmo and the Man in Black

Johnny Cash & Louis Armstrong doing "Blue Yodel No. 9" on the Johnny Cash show, 1970. Louis played trumpet on the original Jimmie Rodgers version of this tune in the '30s.

[via making light]

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I'll have the triple Strombergs with a side-order of cheater slicks, please

Coming soon: Pix from the 2007 Diablos Rockabilly Rumble car show, just as soon as I can find my %^&$ micro-SD to not-so-micro-SD card adaptor. Waay better show than last year's--bigger turnout, and some seriously fine rides. If only the "completely bork your photo settings" mode hadn't kicked in on my phonecam when that '32 5-window was leaving the show.

Edit: Here's some black n' whites from the HAMB's Boyd Who to tide you over. And some more. In colour, because they can do that now!

Dial 1-800-HOT-ROCK and order six cassettes

One hour and twenty-five (ish) minutes of circa-1983 MTV. All mullets guaranteed 100% non-ironic.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Can we put an end to this "Harper = Bush" nonsense?

As you can clearly see from the photo above, he's actually Micheal Dukakis.

Also from the cheap sight-gags department:

Cuba II: Electric Boogaloo

I've gotta admit, I pretty much had Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez pencilled in the "good guy" category--or at least the "lovable rogue" category. Democratically elected, supposed champion of the poor and Bush hates his guts? That's pretty close to the trifecta for a third world leader, right there.

The thing about the "democratically elected" part of that, though--you can't have much of a democracy without a free press, can you?

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's top court on Friday ordered the Defense Ministry to take control of installations of an opposition television station amid a show of military force before the station's controversial closure.

President Hugo Chavez's decision to close the RCTV television channel, which he accuses of backing a 2002 coup against him, has prompted international condemnation and several demonstrations.

So long, "good guy" column. Welcome to the "Dude, what the fuck? That is not cool" column, Hugo.
[via dust my broom]

Extra-super-secret irony bonus: Watching right-wing US blogs like Badger Blogger rabidly defend RCTV's right to advocate the violent overthrow of a democratically elected goverment--then Googling their archives for times when they call Alec Baldwin or Jane Fonda traitors. It's like Alanis Morisette, only on-key.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A convienient untruth

Struck by a burning need to refute global warming in the national media? It's a pretty simple process, really:

1. Get some juicy quotes from top climate scientists, and some hard data from NASA.
2. Quote out of context--or better yet, lie completely.
3. ???? Call the National Post.
4. Profit!

"The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments."
-- Friedrich Neitschze

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The truth is out there

A petition to the House of Commons, signed by almost 500 of [Conservative MP Mike] Lake's constituents in Edmonton and due for debate next week, asks the government "to establish immediate, comprehensive legislation to effect immediate protection of Bigfoot."

You know, some people might actually go so low as to mock this as some sort of evidence the current Government is out-to-lunch, but I can see the wisdom in it. Not only will moving the Tory environmental policy into the realm of the wholly imaginary mean good things for the economy, but Stompin' Tom might finally get his wristwatch back.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Miraculous apparition of the Madonna found on city electrical box

The Pope could not be reached for comment.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Daze of Future Past

I've always been fascinated by predictions of the future as envisioned by generations past. Of course, usually such predictions wind up not just wrong, but comically so--atomic aircars! Flying cities! Meals in a pill! Every once in a while, though, I come across one that seems unusually prescient--like this one from the December, 1900 Ladies' Home Journal. Some choice quotes:

Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.”

Wow, Manifest Destiny, anyone? The all-too-American inability to think of the USA as anything but the good guys notwithstanding, the US population is somewhere around 350,000,000 now, without any major land-grabs aside from Hawaii and Alaska.

Prediction #7: There will be air-ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth.

Prediction #8: Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels. Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Such guns will be armed by aid of compasses when used on land or sea, and telescopes when directed from great heights. Fleets of air-ships, hiding themselves with dense, smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities, fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon them deadly thunderbolts. These aerial war-ships will necessitate bomb-proof forts, protected by great steel plates over their tops as well as at their sides. Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains of to-day. They will make what are now known as cavalry charges. Great automobile plows will dig deep entrenchments as fast as soldiers can occupy them. Rifles will use silent cartridges. Submarine boats submerged for days will be capable of wiping a whole navy off the face of the deep. Balloons and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred-mile vision with camera attachments, photographing an enemy within that radius. These photographs as distinct and large as if taken from across the street, will be lowered to the commanding officer in charge of troops below.

Okay, so they missed the boat on commercial air travel. And winged flight, for that matter, but otherwise that's a pretty accurate view of 20th century mechanized warfare. And I'm a little surprised at the amount of detail that went into it, considering this was a magazine aimed at housewives.

Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300. Meanwhile both kinds of coal will have become more and more expensive. Man will have found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity. Along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides washing in. Out of these the water will be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.

Peak Oil, anyone?

Prediction #23: Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking. Food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over, the dishes used will be packed and returned to the cooking establishments where they will be washed. Such wholesale cookery will be done in electric laboratories rather than in kitchens. These laboratories will be equipped with electric stoves, and all sorts of electric devices, such as coffee-grinders, egg-beaters, stirrers, shakers, parers, meat-choppers, meat-saws, potato-mashers, lemon-squeezers, dish-washers, dish-dryers and the like. All such utensils will be washed in chemicals fatal to disease microbes. Having one’s own cook and purchasing one’s own food will be an extravagance.

You know, I work in a cooking establishment in which food is prepared through the use of all sorts of electric coffee-grinders, egg-beaters, potato-mashers and the like, and I wouldn't exactly call it a lab! I wouldn't call it cheaper than cooking your own, either, but having one's own cook is considered an extravagance. Actually, that's a pretty important economic/lifestyle shift, as I understand it--the late 19th century middle class family typically employed servants for a variety of purposes now fulfilled by appliances and/or businesses catering to the culture of convenience, a luxury few can now afford.

Anyway, you can read the rest, including a disturbing number of gigantic plant-related predictions, here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Steve Jobs meets Woodie Guthrie uptown

Living in an era of tech-driven excess like the twenty-aughts, it's kind of hard sometimes to imagine the hardscrabble life of poverty and resourcefulness-or-else that must have characterised the 1930's for many people. One thing that has always resonated from that era, however, is the music. Not merely the commercial hits--the Broadway and movie showtunes that are now considered historic standards, or the sophisticated jazz style of innovators like Ellington and Basie that formed the basis of the first true American art music, but the sounds that came from the gritty, hard-fought existence of the working class and the poor. Blues, folk, gospel and hillbilly, the three-chords-and-the-truth heartbeat of the Old Weird America. Without them, we'd have no R&B, no soul, no country and no rock n' roll.

With commmercial support for this music somewhat lacking--it was often the music of those who couldn't afford record players and thus bought no records--it was up to a government unusually rich in foresight to document it. Enter Smithsonian Folkways. Over the years, they've recorded everything from field hollers to Beat Generation poetry recitals--and now, for your 21st century postmodern listening pleasure, there's a 24-part podcast series produced by Folkways and CKUA to put a little Dust Bowl in your iPod.

(Also found in the process of *ahem* researching this post: another podcast, the very promising (but rather infrequently updated) Down in the Flood.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Freedom of Speech, just watch what you say

What would you do if you found yourself all of a sudden living in the kind of country that is terrified, not only of actions, but of words? The kind of country where "glorifying terrorism" through words--even fictional or satirical ones--now rates as a criminal offence? Well, for a group of British science fiction writers, the obvious solution is find the boundaries of that law--and trample 'em like it's going outta style. Charlie Stross has more.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nighthawk blog post (from Easy Street)

Tom Waits performing "The One That Got Away", animation directed by John Lamb. I'll let the original YouTube page describe it:

An animated film starring Tom Waits.
Performed for us live (at the La Brea stage in Hollywood, 1978), and rotoscoped - a process that traces back the live action frame by frame and turns it into animation. The original live
action was shot with 5 cameras - 2 high, 2 low and one hand held. The music from "The One That Got Away" blared in the background as Tom sang karaoke style different lyrics on each
take. Two strippers, 6 takes and 13 hours of video footage were edited to make a 5 1/2 minute live action short which we turned into animation.

A total of 5500 live action frames were hand traced, caricatured, re-drawn, hand inked and painted onto celluloid acitate cels. Produced by Lyon Lamb, directed by John Lamb, the film bore some cool new technology, talent and was created specifically for a video music market that didn't yet exist . But the buzz was out and we went on to create what arguably may be the first music video created for the new and upcoming MTV market.

[via mefi] [warning: animated nudity]

Don't forget your history, know your destiny

Manifest Destiny and Western Canada is a free online history book detailing the fascinating interaction between the Riel Rebellion, US and Canadian expansionism in the 19th century, and the historical forces that led to Sitting Bull and General Custer meeting at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

No such thing as too much reverb

Grab yer board, hop in yer woodie, and hit the beach, because the fine folks at Surf Guitar 101 have released an mp3 compilation of the fine, fine noises made by a passel o' vintage Fenders and Mosrites with the reverb and presence knobs set to "kill" and the whammy bars set to "twangulate." I'm pretty impressed with Chris Fesker's "Deadwood Beach", dp's trippy "The Red Sea" and the Close Outs' "Hella" with its "Wipe Out"-style drum roll insanity. Get it on

Friday, January 26, 2007

We control the horizontal, we control the vertical

In response to Smashing Telly's Top 10 TV intros of all time (where "all time" mostly equals the '70s, apparently), I give you the ones he left out:

Barney Miller. Dear Seinfeld, this is what funk bass is supposed to sound like.

The Prisoner. Mysterious Cold War spy games, a Lotus 7 at full chat and of course the classic "I am not a number, I am a free man!" exchange. Also a favourite of Iron Maiden.

The Outer Limits. I heard a live act sample this intro at a rave once. It blew my mind, maaaaaan.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The last great gasp of the "describe the show with the theme song's lyrics" school of thought. Mind you, I kind of hope they start doing that with new CSI franchises instead of just using random Who songs as-is: "He's a pinball wizard/ There has to be a twist/ A pinball wizard forensic scientiiiiist!"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Warning time

You know, somebody should have just stuck one of those stickers on Iraq and saved a lot of grief.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Uncle Duke

The late, great Hunter S. Thompson on Richard Nixon and more:

"He stands for everything I not only have contempt for, but dislike and think should be stomped out--greed, stupidity, cupidity, the power of positive lying..." Hey, sound like any other Republican presidents you can think of?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

All Rise for the National Anthem

You know, I never really planned for this place to become all-YouTube, all the time. Smashing Telly, on the other hand, did. Full-length TV programs of excellent quality (content wise) and good-enough quality (bitrate-wise). It's from them that I shamelessly nicked this:

Jimi Hendrix - Live at Woodstock

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Hinterland Who's High

This is your spider's brain. This is your spider's brain, on drugs.
[via mefi]

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Behold the screaming flamer

They say the new Immolate Me Elmo doll is a little late in protesting the Vietnam War, but I say you can't blame it for trying. (Not safe for toddlers--unless you want to emotionally scar them for life, in which case have at 'er...)