Friday, February 28, 2003

The Jukebox that ate the Cocktail Lounge

For those of you who were intrigued by my earlier item on Scopitones, an article talking about the Scopitone in America.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

It's a sad day in the neighbourhood

Fred Rogers, the beloved PBS childrens host, has died. For those of you who would like a sense of what he was like, here's Mr. Rogers' Dartmouth College commencement address in 2002. Gentle, kind and thoughtful, just like he was on TV.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

The spy who schlub-ed me

James Leigh, would-be confidential operative is in the news again, which leads Kevin Michael Grace to recall the time that he flew out to London Ont. to interview him.

The resulting piece, which I link to above, is one of my favourite KMG pieces and I regret not telling him so at the time. It's hilarious. Please read it.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Sting, call your office

A University of Victoria scientist is using messages in sealed beer bottles to test ocean currents. His students dropped the bottles off Canada's east coast and one of themhas been picked up on the coast of Ireland.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

As seen in Friday the 13th, Part 2

Kevin Steel went shopping the other day, and ran into a knife saleswoman with a unnerving selling pitch for vegans. Fortunately, I'm an omnivore.

Some interesting weblogs

Fulfill the five-year weblog plan!
Over-fulfill the five-year weblog plan!

Here are other weblogs that I think you might be interested in:

Diotima is a weblog by two female university students who occasionally like to critique the feminist left. I see that Russia recently had a Men's Day, where women traditionally give men presents. Is this an old tradition?

If your TV isn't working and you need infomercials *now*: Shopping Blog at * Hot News About Hot Products *

The Alchemist's Arcanabulum is a weblog that talks about alchemy. One of this fellow's hobbies is to read up on alchemy and try to recreate some of the spices that the ancient alchemists used. Bonus: it appears that blogger Kevin A. Murphy knows and uses as many obscure words as William F. Buckley Jr..

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Ship of Fools

A friend recommends the Christian satire site Ship of Fools. In turn, I've linked to their Fruitcake Zone, which seems to be a good place to start your explorations. And the Fruitcake Zone is all true.
Oh, the humanity!

X-Entertainment has named the Hungry Man All Day Breakfast "The Worst Breakfast Ever" due to its amazingly high levels of fat, etc. Profane article, alas, but funny. Fark denizens are stunned, and debate whether they are brave enough to eat the breakfast.

This meal gives you 231% of your suggested daily intake of cholesterol. I'm surprised that the reviewer didn't say that the HMADB is the gastronomic equivalent of the Hindenburg disaster. The cholesterol hits your arteries and Boom!

Friday, February 21, 2003

No blood for mead!

Domenico Bettinelli reveals that there is an anti-war movement in Middle Earth too. We need more time for sanctions against Sauron to work.

Thursday, February 20, 2003


Miss the Atari video game systems? Atariland has free Atari video game shareware and a simulation program that lets you play them on your home computer!

I fondly remember Atari video games, but we had the Activision, not the 2600. Technology has progressed so much that one company now makes a hand-held controller that includes 10 Activision games. No cartridges, just a handheld controller.

Atariland says on their website that Atari is still making video games, by the way.
"Come back, Zinc...come baaaack!"

Jeremy Lott has a post explaining that he is taking zinc to ward off a cold. In a response that he doesn't quote on his own weblog, Kevin Steel suspects that he is playing into an elaborate alien overlord scheme.

My observations would be more plebian. Zinc now reminds me of that educational film about zinc in The Simpsons. A teenager gives up using zinc and finds that his phone won't work, the car won't start. He's reduced to crying plaintively, "Come back, zinc, come back!"

I can deal with alien overlord schemes as long as I have my phone!

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Muses get it bass-ackwards

No, no, no.

Hey muses, it should be like this. Johnny Paycheck should be dying in four years and not passed away now. The annoying 'For Better or for Worse' comic strip should be dead right now, not in 2007.

Did you mess up somehow, muses?

Watch and see if Kevin Michael Grace will comment on the planned end of For Better Or For Worse in 2007. I'll let him explain, if he cares to.
Were cosmonauts killed in space? Nyet.

The Straight Dope recently debunked the theory which asks : Are there really "Lost Cosmonauts" stranded in space?

I'd already heard of the website Lost Cosmonauts. It's interesting, but it proves nothing. I don't know Russian, but after hearing the website's audio files, I became very skeptical as all the alleged dying cosmonauts seem very calm despite what is allegedly supposed to be going on.

But, you may be interested in reading how this theory could come about. And, as Cecil notes, the Soviets were always reticent about the accidents that did happen in their space program, so it's not like the theory is completely off base.

Afraid to say what they think

Conservative journalist Ric Dolphin has been sacked by the Calgary Herald and Colby Cosh argues persuasively that the real reason that Mr. Dolphin was sacked was due to being censured for some columns arguing that Canada is actually harming its aboriginals through race-based programs and special treatment.

This reminded me of a small item that I recently found in the North Island Gazette, a Port Hardy B.C. based newspaper. There is a largish percentage of natives in the northern end of Vancouver Island, where the paper is based. The paper always runs an "inquiring reporter" or "Vox populi" feature, where people are asked about a current issue and their quoted response runs, with their photo, in the newspaper.

In the January 29 edition, the paper had intended to ask Port Hardyites what they felt about the idea of a race-based fishery. This proposal would at the least set aside a large amount, if not all, of the local commercial fishery for natives to use alone. Geoff Plant, B.C.'s attorney-general has suggested giving huge swaths of commercial fishing in B.C. to native bands as a sweetener in treaty negotiations.

Instead of the regular feature, though, the paper ran a letter criticizing the idea of a race-based fishery and this note. Sorry, it's not online:

Editor's note: Reporter Christine vanReeuwyk was unable to persuade even one North Islander to answer our question of the week for the record.

Online respondents voted 12-0 against awarding commercial fisheries on the basis of race.

Email your opinion to....

We're not talking about anything that's obviously racist, such as a proposal that no natives should be allowed to fish, but I still find it very unnerving that people feel afraid to express what their opinions are in their home town newspaper, on an issue where it should be perfectly fair to advocate a colour-blind approach.

All of which goes to show that the kind of chill on "incorrect" arguments that Colby sees in the Ric Dolphin case blows through B.C. as well. It blows in great gusts and, in the case of this small note in an upcountry newspaper, slight breezes...that chill you to the bone.
Little Marcy...hip to be square?

In the subculture of those who like strange and obscure music, Marcy Tigner, the 1960s Christian ventriloquist behind Little Marcy, is a bit of a celebrity. It's amusingly surprising, as Little Marcy spends all her time singing in a super high voice about Jesus, and Mrs. Tigner (whom you will meet in the link), is quite serious.

It must be one of those hip to be square things. The reSEARCH book Incredibly Strange Music is probably what started the mini-craze. Recently, a Little Marcy souvenir pin was bid up over $50 on eBay!

Other pages on the site linked above, by the way, have MP3s of Little Marcy songs that you can listen to. Album covers too.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Record covers you won't believe

Show And Tell Music is a online collection of intriguing and odd album covers. Enjoy!
Onward Christian soldiers...

Martin Roth has some good arguments that a conflict with Iraq may well be a just war: Just war, Christians and Iraq - where's the justice in not attacking?. He's also written several posts on the issues related to Christianity and the use of military force that are linked at the bottom of the post.

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle for the link.
"....Journalists were people who wore turtle-necked sweaters and berets and worked for the CBC. We were newspapermen...."

Ted Byfield has a great tale of how he and other reporters did their job before journalism was completely sissified.

His attitude, that it is often better to serve the best interest of your readers and defy the anger of the chattering classes, is pleasantly refreshing.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

The Scud spud

Being a war correspondent isn't all that fun, according to this feature: Have Flak Jacket, Will Travel
Better than a box of candy

Jodi Robinson is giving her husband something very special this Valentines Day, one of her kidneys, so doctors can surgically put it in his body.
Did France invent the music video?

The French might have a case that they invented the music video. In the early 1960s, French companies developed the Scopitone, a large machine with a bank of short film clips. You dropped in your coins and the film clip, always a song, played for you on the screen.

Scopitone machines were imported into the U.S., but the genre didn't quite take off. However, they left a legacy of sometimes cheezy music clips (Everybody does The Twist!). You may enjoy some Scopitone snippets posted here, if you have Quick Time on your computer.
Holy Weblog, Batman!

One good weblog that has lots of regularly updated religious news links is Holy Weblog!.

Check it out!

Friday, February 14, 2003

He's going to Sea World!

The inspiration for Troy McClure is partly explained in passing by the indispensable James

Weblog 101

There's a college course that asks students to do an anaylsis of a weblog for credit. Colby Cosh wonders out loud what the assigned questions should be for his weblog.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

"Gabby Hayes?!?!?" offers a free online test, asking you Who's Your Movie Star Double?

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

"Do you take this Hobbit..."

The latest trend in wedding wear...Lord of the Rings inspired fashions.

Thanks to Fark for the link.
Number 97 with a bullet

Here's one website that gathers data to make regular educated guesses on what the top topics are for bloggers. It's called Popdex.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Wouldn't his medals do?

The Windsor Star reports that World War Two hero Jerry Billings has donated something very unusual to a French museum.
Give Michael Moore a wedgie, not an Oscar nomination

This morning it was announced that Michael Moore has garnered an Oscar nomination for his "documentary" Bowling for Columbine. This is obscene, as documentaries should not be riddled with factual errors as this site, amongst many others, points out.

The fellow with the weblog, by the way, describes himself as an ideological liberal and supporter of gun control who is just offended by Mr. Moore's carelessness with the truth.
(radio announcer) "Starring....Sonny Tufts?!?!?"

RetroCRUSH has a listing of The Most Annoying Movie Characters of All Time, Volume One. Even though it's loaded in favour of movies of the recent past (Where's Mala, or his annoying sidekicks, from Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island? The character of Dropo from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians?)'s pretty good.

Monday, February 10, 2003

The great American song poem contest

[Are you a frustrated would-be songwriter? PBS has organized a song poem contest to coincide with the documentary on song poems that they will be airing this week. Here is the press release...]

OFF THE CHARTS: The Song-Poem Contest

Do song titles like "I Am a Ginseng Digger," "Chicken Insurrection" and
"Non-Violent Taikwondo Troopers" cause a stir of the creative juices?
Well, then we have the contest for you!

In the world of the song-poem industry, you write a poem and they'll make
a song out of it – for a fee. But wait … if you go online and enter the
OFF THE CHARTS Song-Poem Contest... it's FREE!

The contest, launched in conjunction with the PBS premiere of OFF THE
CHARTS: The Song-Poem Story on February 11, 2003 at 10:00 p.m. on PBS
(check local listings), is happening now at OFF THE CHARTS explores a truly unique
slice of Gothic Americana through interviews with song-poem writers, the
jaded producers and musicians who turn their lyrics into songs, and
zealous song-poem connoisseurs.

The winning lyrics will be set to music, made into a professionally
produced CD recording and featured on the OFF THE CHARTS Web site for all
the world to hear!

The two runners-up get a video copy of Jamie Meltzer's documentary OFF THE
CHARTS: The Song-Poem Story and The American Song-Poem Anthology CD from
Bar-None Records!

Contest closes: February 28
Winners announced: March 17

ENTER TODAY! Pass this on to others!

The Facts:

WHO: Anyone 18 or over can enter

WHAT: The OFF THE CHARTS Song-Poem Contest

WHEN: Now through February 28


WHY: To have your original song-poem lyrics set to music, and recorded
on a CD, to see your name in lights and hear your song online 24/7, and to
tell all your friends!

[For more about the song poem industry, visit! "Burmese Land is like money land...."]

"Ever see a movie so completely awful that it is funny...?"

The film-loving weblogger really needs to stop beating around the bush and say what (s)he really thinks! ( ;) )

Now showing at a weblog near you: the grumpy critic!

Sunday, February 09, 2003


In case you plan a career in organized crime, here is a Mob Nickname Generator.
"Fox turned into a hard-core sex channel so gradually that I didn't even notice...."

Michael Winnick has some useful advice to increase traffic to your weblog, and a wry sense of humour too as you may see here:

....submissions and meta tags should be crafted to maximize the number of times your site gets brought up in a search result. You know what that means: Porn.

Rumor has it that the top 100 keywords on all the search engines involve some obscenity and 15 misspellings of Pamela Andersen's name. Instead of fighting the flow, Fillet [a culinary webzine he uses an an example--R.H.] should rush to join it. Not in the brash and unsubtle manner of sites like Swoon and Persian Kitty that simply pepper their meta tags with smut, but in a more elegant and honest way. A good description for Fillet may include phrases like "big meats," "oral pleasure," and words like "hot," "steaming," and "amateur." "Searching for the latest hot information on dining, Fillet is an amateur Web site housing recipes for steaming big meats and other culinary forms of oral pleasure." Complete nonsense, but very effective.

Hmm....I don't think it will work, as Rick's Miscellany seems to be a mellow weblog so far. No hot or steaming yet. If anyone does have meta-tage suggestions for me after reading my weblog, please let me know. I welcome non-steaming advice.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Free illustrations for your website!

Dave Stevens, a talented cartoonist, has linked to some free illustrations of his that you can use. Click here. They are free cartoons...if you care to meet some easy conditions (YOUR FIRST BORN CHILD! No, an artist credit and a link whenever you use them. And he does cartoons-to-spec for a nominal fee.)
The family that steals together...

The Maple Ridge--Pitt Meadows Times reports on a crime story where a mother and her teenage son teamed up in an attempt to steal 300 plants from a marijuana grow-op.
The truth hurts. And that is why it is the truth.

Sometimes I have had occasion to write critically about how the church handles religious matters. I've been assailed for doing so. My pastor, leading prayer, complains about people in the media "exposing sin in the church" and asks God to stop them. I get complaints that, as a Christian, I should do my little part for the team by neglecting to talk about matters and issues in the church that the world as a whole would be concerned about.

And then I saw this artcle this afternoon, Foley says 'bad examples' biggest hurdle for evangelisation, and I felt a little better after reading this quote

"Ironically, the good news about the church is more likely to be believed when it is made known through the secular media, first, because they are viewed as not having a vested interest in telling such good news and, second, because they are better known for having published so much bad news," he said.

I would suggest that if Christian journalists strove for holding the church properly accountable for its sins we would do a much better job that those who may be clueless about the issues involved. We shouldn't leave hard hitting coverage to those who may overtly hate the church. We should do it ourselves, so it is done accurately.

The link, by the way, is from Kathy Shaidle's Relapsed Catholic, a uniformly fine weblog. Check it out.
Insert derisive snort here

BTW, this week's The Straight Dope answers the question Was Chuck Barris a hit man for the CIA?

Cecil Adams doubts it, but how he puts "Consider the source!" is worth reading.
The Ambler is Back in Black

Kevin Michael Grace has a spiffy new design for his weblog. Visit for the re-design, but stay for the content.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Louie, Louie...

The Smoking Gun has posted selections from the FBI file on that subversive song, 'Louie Louie'.
Saint Rasputin?

Russia's Orthodox Church is split over a proposal to make Rasputin a saint. Bad idea, if I remember my Russian history correctly.
"Rebellious Wives, Slacker Husbands"...tonight on Fox

You might enjoy a visit to Donna Kossy' s BOOK HAPPY: World of Weird Books. Ms. Kossy, by the way, is the author of Kooks, a fascinating study of American eccentrics. A very good book.

I have one of the books on this entry page, the one with the cover art of the giant flying eyeballs terrorizing humans. :)
U.S. invasion plans for Canada

The Straight Dope, one of my favourite columns, is asked "Did the U.S. plan an invasion of Canada in the 1920s?"
The pain, the pain...

An anonymous entertainment magazine writer dishes on Hollywood celebrities who are
the world's most boring celebrity interviews. Catty stuff.
The Search Engine unburdens its soul

Satire Wire has an Internet first, an Interview with the Search Engine.

I've had interviews like that before, myself :) .
Fashion notes

Dave Stevens writes that a proofreader colleague of ours has an amazing taste in ties. See some of the ties he actually wears at Dave's site, including my favourite...a giant hamburger tie!

(With more than "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce cheese..."! It looks like the Famous Shameless burgers that they used to make at Fogg n' Suds in Vancouver, the kind that you needed to squish before you bit. Let's see, there were two patties, fried onions, two kinds of cheese, tomatoes, bacon, lettuce and, if I remember correctly, a sliced and fried hotdog!)
Without heat in Edmonton

Colby Cosh recently endured a cold winter day in Edmonton without heat, phone, or an internet connection. Despite all this, his (linked above) journal of his experience is fun to read.
Republican Babes are here

I get hits looking for "Republican babes" due to my use of the phrase when I was writing about Rachel Marsden. By the way, her trial is set for next year.

If you fit under that category, you may well be looking for the Republican Babe of the Week contest. Now up to 34 winners and counting.

Alas, no babes here, but there is other fun stuff for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Jingle time

For those of you who are looking for the ad jingle for the Commodore 64 computer...if I remember it correctly, it went:

"I adore my 64
My Commodore 64,
I write with it, create with it, telecommunicate with it,
My Commodore 64
I adore my 64,
My Commodore 64."

I also will know what goes into a Big Mac for the rest of my life thanks to that 1970s commercial:

"Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."

We now return you to our regularly scheduled weblog ( :) ).

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Report transmogrifies

The magazine that I work for has been re-launched. Colby Cosh has some details, and a picture of what our new cover design looks like.

Jerry Lewis' film about the Holocaust

If you have never heard of The Day The Clown Cried, Jerry Lewis' jaw-dropping film about the Holocaust, check out this feature, published in the late Spy magazine.
Turning radio into Velveeta

The singer Janis Ian explains why sharing music over the Internet can be seen as a "High-Tech Lifeline for Musicians" in a February 2 L.A. Times opinion column. (Rats, you have to register as an online L.A. Times reader to see it.)

She raises a point that I have often thought about myself. If you don't like the Britneys and Shakiras of radio you need to go looking for the music that you like, or might be willing to try, and the Internet can be a big help towards making this search easier. Most radio stations won't broadcast a variety of music to find out what listeners might like to listen to. Indeed, when you look at it from a business sense, you can't really expect them to. The lowest common denominator rules.

However, I am mindful of property rights, being a writer and all. Yet, I believe that a balance should be struck so that the Internet can be used to maximize a creator's audience (increasing what they earn), without cutting it off entirely by insisting that everything must be paid for.

What that balance is, I am not sure. Perhaps some of my readers have some thoughts on that subject.

(Also, which is the lesser of two evils to see something "free" online.... 1) Having to brave and close pop-ups or 2) Having to register and give demographic info to access the website.)