Sunday, December 28, 2008
As I survey what most people were call their Living Room, you know TV, stereo, couches, etc, I see all of those, plus a large table that is covered on computers, two desktops and a laptop, two portable DVD players, and the worlds most expensive alarm clock! On the floor I see two more computers and monitors, and box after box of stuff in my to do pile.
When we left Canada, I also left hundreds of CD's and DVD's with my daughter, it appears that it is taking me no time at all to amass a new collection. The mail man doesn't even bother with the mail box most days, he just pulls up in front of the house and honks his horn, a sure sign that more stuff has arrived. UPS know me so well that a package was addressed incorrectly, the guy knocked on the door and said, "address is wrong" but I realized it was for you!"
None of this is new, you move 2000 miles and it is all shades of deja vu.
What is interesting though is I have connected with a PR guy who reps a lot of prog bands from the 70's. Prog rock is one of my favorite genres, and I have had some great access to some great bands. In fact in early 2009 I am hoping to get to talk to Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep).
If you want to check out some of the interviews take a look at my profile on BTR.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
To my absolute horror I discover a terrible buzzing sound on my damn phone line. In a race to fix the problem I change phone cords, hand sets, and DSL filters. No damn go! Maybe its the DSL modem? So I reboot my computers, the modem, and the router. Still no go. It is now two minutes to air time, poor Christian is sat listening to dead air! I dial back in, and with 90 seconds to spare get the show set up.
Damn humming persists throughout the entire broadcast but luckily it is fairly indistinct on the recorded version.
So I get on the phone with AT&T and after playing twenty questions with the voice activated annoyance system that AT&T employ to dissuade customers from being able to report problems, I finally get a human. This numskull asks the same twenty questions and finally asks me what the problem is. "Can't you hear the damn problem" I ask him. "Oh, all that noise on the line, yeah that would get old" is the helpful reply.
So the unhelpful tech writes up a trouble ticket and drops the bombshell that they likely won't get to it till Monday.
This is just great! We have a one hour talk show scheduled on Sunday!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Radio really is a fun experience in time management. Trying to get your questions in and keep the interview flowing can be quite a challenge. The major issue is the ending, I get a 90 second, and a 60 second warning, hell that last minute is tough. No time to ask another question, but to much time to wind the show down.
I love a challenge, and I think I have found a good one. Even Jan has risen to the occasion and is helping me as a co-host on a weekly News Roundup.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I love the internet, it makes it possible to do the impossible. I know if I trotted down to my local radio station and said "Hi my name is Simon, and I'd like to host a few shows" they would call security and escort me off the premises. The internet though is different, if you want to do it, you can. Best of all it does not cost a dime. All you need is a telephone and a computer and away you go.
You can check out some of my efforts here.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I do not advocate the piracy of music or video's, to me that is robbing the artist of the few cents on the dollar that he is due for his hard work. Although The RIAA claim the cost per year is in the $billions, I suspect that they are aiming a little high, but certainly there is a $ cost. And certainly the artist, and creator is the one who hurts most. He may only be getting a few cents per CD, but those few cents are what he lives on.
For the longest time I have felt that the Artist is the one getting the short end of the stick.
My opinion about the music world changed yesterday. A couple of days ago I received a copy of Al Stewart's new album Sparks Of Ancient Light. I am a huge Al Stewart fan and couldn't wait to rip the plastic off it and get it on the player.
I had my review written in no time flat. While reading it prior to publishing I realized that it would be so much better if I could embed a track sample, you know, a 30 or 45 second sound byte. So it was off to the world of the internet to see if such a beast existed on Al's web site or the labels web site, alas none was available.
Well I don't give up easy, I am a known entity to Al, his PR folks, and the label, having reviewed most of his now 19 albums at one time or another. So I fired off an email to the record company asking if they has a streaming audio that I could access.
Within minutes, I had my answer, 'no streams available'. But all was not lost. Appleseed went on to say that they had included an MP3 of an entire track, and as long as I promised not to make it available for download I was free to use it in the review. In other words stream it.
In this day and age of RIAA breathing fire over piracy and shared music, I find Appleseed's approach to be a real breath of fresh air.
Oh, and you can read my review here.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Unfortunately man has encroached on this squirrel nirvana by putting up houses. The standard house in this neck of the woods has a porch at the front, and a car port at the side.
So whats the problem? I hear you ask.
Well, it is really quiet here, particularly in the middle of the night. Seeing as the weather has cooled off we are not even running the air conditioners 24/7 (a huge sigh of relief comes from my bank account)!
I woke up at 4am, and decided to smoke a cigarette, it is so nice not having to put on the arctic clothing to participate in this filthy habit. So with my robe on, I headed out the back door. Everything was so quiet that you could hear the moon orbit.
Then a sound from near by that sounded like small arms fire, maybe a .22? Well we don't live in the best area in town, but it is hardly a ghetto, so I decided that it likely was not a gun. But what the hell could it be?
Bloody squirrels messing around in an oak tree, dislodging acorns, which when dropped from 30 feet onto a corrugated tin roof makes a noise that could wake up the dead!
Ah, the joys of the deep south!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
On the downside Picayune is in a dry county, yup, zero bars! I viewed this as a very bad situation, and I have to admit that I suspected Jan did this on purpose! But those of you that know me, also know that where there is a will there is a way!
It did not take much exploring to discover that the local gas station, and the local supermarket sell beer, oh and its one hell of a lot cheaper than Canada. I also discovered that the local coffee shop three blocks away has a beer license, woo hoo.
The Cafe Amore, is quite the small town gathering point, and although I am an international interloper I have been excepted into the fold. The hot time to visit is between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. It is at this time that an eclectic group of generally dissatisfied people gather around one of the outside tables to bitch and complain about life in general and Picayune in particular.
Non of this group is actually from Picayune, but for one reason or another call this little piece of purgatory home. Cafe owner Angel heralds originally from the Philippines, and moved from New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, his right hand man Trunks is from New York, the ever grumpy and amusing retired restaurateur Chris is Austrian. Others come and go, but this is the core group.
The daily meeting of The Knights Of The Round Table is always a fun event and if you happen to be passing through Picayune well worth stopping in to say hi.
So, as you can see, I am still alive and kicking.I do hope to get back to writing more on here, but this not working for a living has me so damn busy I never seem to have time.
I have to admit though, there is something really nice about telling Jan that I am going off to work, grabbing a chair and sitting on the porch to read for a couple of hours in the mornings.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
God only knows what we are going to do for furniture and other luxuries like pots pans plates etc. Oh well, I have always enjoyed a good adventure.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
And there is one sitting on my kitchen table! Mine is even signed by the author!
So what was the furor about? Loreena felt that her privacy had been violated, particularly the sections describing the death of her fiance.
The book also goes into some detail about Loreena McKennitt's management style, which is at odds with the Celtic Goddess image that she likes to portray in public.
Personally I did not find the revelations particularly shocking, but I did find the court case to be of great significance. Most people agree that McKennitt would not have prevailed had the case been heard in the US, but the UK system works a little different.
The shocking part of this case was that the facts stated in the book were not called into question. Everything Niema Ash claimed, stands as true. McKennitt merely objected to the publication!
This creates a very murky precedent, that should have every news organization very worried.
Want a copy? Well I found one for sale.
Monday, August 18, 2008
while this is not as much fun as interviewing the famous, and maybe rich, I did do something today that was life changing. I resigned! Jan has some family stuff that can not be put on hold. So we are packing up and heading south. Of course this will not be an easy deal, my idea of moving is two suitcases and a computer or five. Jan on the other hand thinks that everything, including the kitchen sink should become part of the adventure!
I can see this becoming a stressful adventure!
Just another boring day in paradise :)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I had completely forgotten the entire adventure, apparently the folks at RED (I think they are part of Sony) had not forgotten. There are two press passes and a Photog credential waiting for me to pick up for tomorrow nights adventure into Metal!
God, what was I thinking? Needless to say, my Country music loving wife is overjoyed at the prospect of 6 hours of aural assault by Motley Crue and the various other bands.
I suspect that Jan won't be speaking to me for days after this adventure.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Yesterday I was looking for something to review, I have no shortage of stuff, just a shortage of stuff that passes my cover test.
Pretty much experience has told me that if the cover art contains Skulls, Dead People, Blood, or depictions of Hell the music genre is likely to be Death Metal. Equally telling is if the Bands name or the CD title contains words like Atrocity or Malevolent. Any CD or DVD that hits this early quality control test immediately go to the bottom of the pile. Actually to be accurate, they go in the bottom box of the pile of boxes!
So there I was diligently going through recent arrivals when I stumbled upon Passing Train by Joel Harrison. It looked harmless, so I took it out for a whirl. I really liked it, great little CD. So I stuck up a quick review.
The problem though, was where the hell did it come from? I know the 'calling cards' of most of the publicists I work with, but this CD was different. The press release was not one that I recognized, there was no contact info! Now I was really confused. It had to have come from somewhere, and my shipping address while not a state secret, is not something I have posted anywhere.
I searched the cavern that is my email repository and could find no reference to either the singer or the album. Well someone wants to know that the review is up, but who the hell is it?
Well I decided that if nothing else, I could at least tell the srtist Joel Harrison that it was live. It was pretty easy to track down an email addy, so I sent him an email explaining that I had no idea where it came from, but I liked it, and the review was running.
A couple of hours later Joel got back to me:
ummm, that was me, I sent it. A publicist I know gave me a few addresses, so I sent the copy.
Problem solved! Oh and I do like the CD, so I hope lots of people rush out and order it. Give Joel a chance, oh and tell him I sent you! I have not heard back from him yet, but I am hoping to do an interview with him.
To say I was pissed is putting it lightly, and so I launched a couple of tirades on Blogger News. Being the Editor of a Google News accredited site does have its perks! About 6 hours later with no apology or explanation the lockout was removed.
'Do No Evil', great company philosophy!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Of course when I dialed the number all I got was his voice mail, but the day is young.
You just never know what is going to happen next in the silly world of news and reviews. I received an email from Oliver Wakeman today, asking me to change a link that I had used in my interview with him. Oliver, for those of you that live under rocks, is Rick Wakeman's son. And if you don't recognize that name (keyboard player on Yes), you must be living under a very large rock.
Wow, I must be famous!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I interviewed Rick last year, so it was with great pleasure that I interviewed the next generation of Wakeman musical geniuses. I really like Oliver, he has no pretensions, what you see is what you get.
Somehow I got caught into reviewing an alarm clock. Well it is not your regular deal, this thing does everything but make the coffee, oh and it has the best speaker system I have ever heard. It is outrageously expensive at $350, but it sounds so good you will want one.
I also got a couple of galleys this week. They are hitting the bookstores in September. They are both great books, and they both deserve to be on the NYT best seller list. Actualy I am willing to bet that one of them will make that coveted slot. Homeland Insecurity is the most damning work I have ever read about the US government. Author Terry Turchie takes no prisoners, from Nixon to the Bush administration, they all get a good beating.
I really have not read enough of the other galley to make any judgments. But it certainly looks like a great read.
There were two or three other books that passed over my eyes. Two were great, one was not quite up to par. First time authors come in all shapes and forms. Some though skip the vital step of having an editor carve and hack. Now I am the first to admit that I hate my stuff being dissected by anyone. But the past two years of being a reviewer have changed my mind.
Without a good editor, you are screwed.
Have a great day!
Friday, June 20, 2008
Jan and I had been discussing opening a joint savings account with the assholes that I bank with. Oh, and I'll name them CIBC. Anyway, I went to their website, and it was pretty easy opening an account, just for grins I even put some money in it. I opened the account at the same branch that I have been banking with for 6 years.
My next plan was to add Jan to the account. The bank beat me to the punchline. A couple of days after opening it, they called me. Not to thank me for opening the account, but telling me I had to get to the branch PDQ to sign a signature card. Huh? I already have an account, they already have a damn signature card.
The (not from around here) guy on the other end of the line was relieved when I explained that I was planning on visiting the branch the following day, and that I wanted to add my wife to the account. "what do we need?" I asked, "She needs two pieces of ID and it will be no problem".
So, we enter the bank at 10am, right on time, Mr. Not-From-Around-Here invites us to sit down.
Out of left field he askes me for two pieces of ID. Well this is my damn account, I opened it, and I had already spoken to Osama Bin Teller on the phone. I hand him two pieces of ID plus my bank card, and cannot resist a minor dig about how much easier banking is now the internet is here.
'None of that tedious dealing with people', the humor missed Osama Bin Teller by several hundred miles.
"So you want to open an account" he asks, "no, I already have, all I want to do is add my wife to it".
It went downhill from that point. Osama Bin Teller could not grasp the idea that when Jan was born her name was Jan x, and that is the name on her birth certificate (one of the pieces of ID that Osama had told me was OK to use). Next Jan became Jan Y, she got married, and then divorced, her current passport is in the name of Jan Y (Oh, Osama told me passports were OK).
Then Jan and I got married, so now she is Jan Z.
I had smelled a rat early on so I told Jan to bring out marriage certificate as well. We have the original, but we also have a copy, so I told her to just bring the copy.
Yes, you guessed it, Osama and his boss (some other banking terrorist) refused to put Jan on the account. Needless to say I gave Osama Bin Teller a good earful, but I suspect he didn't understand it all because English was obviously not his primary language.
The way I look at it is, if I want to give someone the run of my house, I go to the local Wally World and get a key cut, and I give them the key. It is that simple.
Banks though are a whole different universe. It's OK though, I have a plan 'B', I am going to open an account with a different bank, and CIBC can weep. I'll take my $5 and put it somewhere where they like me.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I haven't written the review yet, but this is a pretty awesome object d'art. It not only is a Clock Radio but also a CD player, or you can dock other devices to it. The quality of the audio is amazing. It is reminiscent of the Bose Wave Radio. In fact right now I am using it as my primary speaker system, it is way better than the speakers I was using!
Everyone should have one of these!
In the book world it was a slow week, I actually ran out of books! This is something that happens about once a year. But I did get to read James Heaphey's new book. Jim is a great guy, and a superb storyteller. This book How To Survive In An Organization is a business book, not a genre I usually dabble in. But Jim puts his own unique spin on it. I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading it.
My vacation from books ended yesterday with the arrival of four of them in the mail. I also have two galleys heading my way. These books are slated for a fall release, and I am really looking forward to getting a sneak peek. I can not tell you anything about them, I am sworn to secrecy. But one of them is almost certainly bound for the best seller list. Oh the joys of having friends in the publishing world!
The music world was a blur this week. But what was notable was a new DVD by Rick Wakeman. I am a big fan of Rick's, Grumpy Old Picture Show is essentially a one man gig, but very cleverly done. I also got an early look at his son Oliver's new DVD which is being released in July. Oliver is following in his fathers footsteps, prog rock! I hope to be interviewing Oliver next week.
I am so far behind with music reviews that I have enlisted Jans help. She has done a stellar job. But she doesn't have the staying power of a seasoned pro hahahaha As you can see with this story.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
One of the problems with being a reviewer is having to deal with the Canadian version of Homeland Security, and even worse the damn idiots that run the customs and excise department. Here is the deal, I am asked if I would do a review of an alarm clock radio. It sounded good to me, plus my lovely wife Jan has trashed the existing one. Of course there was a hitch, it isn't your regular $20 Wal Mart one, it is a $350 designer one from Germany. The bozos that supposedly are protecting our borders (tho I can not for the life of me figure out from who) decided that they needed to tax me. So if I want this 'free' clock radio I have to pay them $90!
Needless to say, no one is happy. I was so pissed off about it, I just ignored it. The latest development is that the PR company is picking up the tab and I should see it Monday.
The other classic screw up that occurred was a TV preview. TV is pretty easy, you get a DVD and you post the review two days before it airs. It could not be easier. OK here is the deal, I get a preview DVD from HBO, and I am absolutely convinced that it airs on June/2, so I bust my butt to get the review running. HBO tells me "wow that was quick". It was days later that I discover the show didn't air till June/9. Oh well, thats life in the trenches.
The other low spot of the week involves an interview with a leading Cancer researcher. I asked the simple question "Can you tell us a little about yourself (short bio)', his response was to send me a 35 page CV! (CV is resume for the ludites that might be reading this) About the only piece of information that is not in this guys CV is the name of his pet Goldfish.
I was supposed to be quoted on the back of a book. You know the deal, a one liner, almost every book has them. I got the book, and I am not mentioned! I was pissed. But I have the last laugh. The type setters have screwed up, and the book has to be reprinted.
There were some good bits to the week, but I am too lazy to write about them.
Oh, well except that Jan and I met 5 years ago. Happy anniversary honey.
Friday, May 23, 2008
People seem to like my interviews, and I think I do a pretty good job with them. But you can't please everyone.
I also managed to get rebuffed a couple of times last week. I have been writing articles about the Payday Loan industry, and specifically what the law makers are doing. The esteemed South Carolina senator Joel Lourie is avoiding me like I have rabies. I am guessing that I am off his Christmas card list.
But the ultimate interview rejection came from Canada's most prominent and media friendly scientist. I have been covering a series for a US based cable station, this weekly show features sound bites from this Canadian scientist. So I decided to go for an interview. The interview was declined because 'it would be more appropriate if the interviewer was in the US'. hahaha What a giggle, Blogger News is US based, I just happen to live in Canada!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Anyway, I am currently covering the Sundance Channels Big Idea For A Small Planet series. It is a pretty entertaining show that looks at companies and organizations that are eco friendly. The nice folks at sundance sent me a gift pack to get rid of. So if you have time check out my article about it. And leave a comment on the article, the swag could be yours!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The simple answer is that I have been pretty busy in the review world. And recently it has been in the world of TV. The strange thing is that all of the work has been for US cable stations, and although the stations air in Canada, they tend to have a Canada schedule which tends to be weeks or months behind the US.
I played with HBO on their great series John Adams. And I know that HBO must be pretty pleased with the series, because I could not believe the hits my reviews got. So when you extrapolate out, they had a lot of viewers for their 7 part series.
Right now I am playing with Discovery with their hot series 'Deadliest Catch', this is a fabulous series that follows the fortunes of crab fishing in the Bering Sea. I am having a few issues with the 'go betweens' but I am sure they will work themselves out.
Next week sees the premier of a great show on Animal Planet 'Raw Nature', I can't tell you to much about it, I have been asked to hold the review till next Tuesday. But I can tell you, this is a show worth checking out. If I was asked to sum it up in one sentence, I would say "This is Mike Rowe meets Godzilla". If you are looking for something to watch next Tuesday evening try Animal Planet at 9pm.
I have a couple more series hopefully blasting off soon as well. I'll keep you posted.
On the gizmo front I got to review a Portable Media Player for IOGEAR. It blew my mind, a little box the size of a cigarette pack that could store 50 hours of DVD quality video. Load the little gizmo up with your favorite DVD's, then plug it into a regular TV and you can watch them! Or if you prefer music you can slap 30,000 MP3's on it! Just amazing. In fact I get to interview one of the big wigs at IOGEAR on Friday.
So, I am still around, I have just been busy with stuff.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
One of the best guys that I have come across is author James (Jim) Heaphey. Jim authored a wonderful book Legerdemain, which I really enjoyed. One thing led to another, and now we are friends. When he told me that he and his wife were heading off for three months in Cyprus (to promote the book) I was envious, and I asked him if Jan and I could come along as paid bloggers.
This was the result!
Friday, March 28, 2008
The computer world is sometimes like 'Iron Chef', you have no idea what you are going to be asked to do. This weeks challenge sounded simple, move 5 meg of data from one laptop to another. Walk in the park was my first thought. How difficult can it be to transfer 5 meg?
Well, it was a little trickier than I had imagined. The laptop was ancient, it was running Win 95! I should have said "NO", but of course I said "sure I can do this". And then the problems started!
A quick look at this aging laptop revealed that it had limited capabilities. No USB, no Ethernet, oh, and no floppy drive. This makes it more exciting.
Right about now I am considering the idea of getting Jan to just re-type the damn documents and we can get this monkey off our backs.
It did have a modem though. This could be a breakthrough. Alas it was not, the Win 95 installation was a little 'banged up' and while the modem 'modemed', it refused to connect to the ISP that I use. The problem was in the TCP/IP stacks. I am a bit of a pack rat, but search as I did, I could not find a Win 95 CD.
My next plan was to upgrade the pc to Win 98, but the only CD's I had were 'For A New Computer Only' versions. And the last thing I wanted to do was reformat the drive.
Plan 'C' was to install Win 2k, this worked well for about 2 minutes, then I got the 'you don't have enough RAM message.
Hmmm, I thought, actually I was swearing up a storm by this time.
It was time to think outside the box.....
"Go back young man" was the thought that went through my mind.
So it was 'back to the future', way back when, I used to use something called Laplink. Laplink allowed you to copy files between computers using a funky cable connected to the printer port. Being a retro kind of a guy I just happened to have one of those funky cables, and 2 minutes of Googling found some shareware that would do the job.
It didn't exactly work like a charm, there was much wailing and complaining from both laptops, I guess the clocking on the parallel ports was not quite in sync, but it worked!
Sometimes you just have to go backwards to go forward!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
TV was the big problem over the past week, TV has its own unique challenge you need to get the review up between 48 and 72 hours before the program airs. Anyway, I am covering the HBO miniseries John Adams. This is a 7 part deal, and part 1 and part 2 aired last Sunday. Of course someone at HBO managed to screw up, and forgot to get the screeners out to the reviewers, and HBO ended up having to Fed-Ex everything last Thursday. This didn't leave a lot of time for the reviews. What did impress me though was the 'press kit', it was the size of a book! Part 3 airs tomorrow at 9pm.
HBO is also premiering a documentary Autism - The Musical.
On the 25th Stephen King's The Mist hits the stores. This is a two DVD collectors version. I am not really into the horror genre, so I had to get Jan to help get that one out in time.
There was a whole pile of other stuff, books, a couple of interviews, a couple of indie movies, and some music. Too much to detail. But if yyou want to read em they are here.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I love my daughter dearly, but I could wring her neck, she brought the damn shelving over the next day. I tried the 'But honey, I don't have any tools' approach, and this just resulted in a glare that would freeze molten lava.
I borrowed a thing from work, its a #11 (whatever the hell that might be), and assembled the darn things. I did have the last laugh, once I got it made I told Jan that I planned on putting all of the stuff I reviewed last year on it. The blood drained from her face. She was in shock.
So I did!
That is one years of Books, CD's, and DVD's! Well, almost, it doesn't have the 80 to a 100 items that we gave away.
Most regular folks read maybe 10 books a year, they buy 20 CD's and about 10 DVD's.
Where did I go wrong?
Saturday, March 08, 2008
About 15 years ago I visited England for a week, and I have to say I was not impressed by what I found. I even made a pilgrimage to West Hendred. The church no longer has a vicar, the village school had long since closed, the Shop and Post Office gone, It was as if the very heart of the village had been removed.
The village schools headmaster Mr. Prossir had long since retired and I went to visit him. It was delightful to spend some time talking about the long and distant past.
My other destination was 'The Hare', boy the place had changed. Odd to walk into your 'home' and not recognize it. I had aranged to meet a very old friend Jim Spey. Jim was one of my heros growing up, a proud Scotsman, resplendent in Kilt and Dirk, with a Rosewood pipe in his mouth. Ex BBC reporter, ex code breaker, and connoisseur of Single Malt Whiskey. Jim had aged, but was still sprightly and engaging. It was two hours that I will always have fond memories of. It was this visit that provoked me to write a short story 'Death of a Country' which I will have to dig out and re-post.
Anyway, Gary apparently had run across this blog and wrote to ask if I was the same Simon Barrett. Better still he included a photo. A photo of the entire village school attendees taken in about 1965. In this day and age of classes overflowing with 35+ kids, and schools boasting pupils by the thousands it is sometimes nice to look back at the way it was.........
Yes folks that was the whole school, and the two teachers! For those of you interested, pictured in the photo are:
Back row left to right: Tina Hazel / Christopher Bullard? / Lucille Harris / Peter Robey / Anne Kearvill or Louise Harris / Michael Hislop / Mr. Prosser / Simon Barrett.
Middle row left to right: Gary Rixon / Aden Atkins / Robert Atkins / Mrs. Phillips / Charles Brewer / Brother of Gail North? / Gail North.
Front row left to right: Belinda Rogan / ? / Miriam or Susan Rogan / Jane Rogan / Barry Dwight.
Anyone know where these people are?
Friday, March 07, 2008
So this week I read the book, absolute pile of crap! It is so bad that I have decided to go ahead and write a review. Normally with crap books I just stick them in a dark corner and pretend they don't exist, but this guy deserves all he gets.
In fact he has ticked me off so much that I am in the process of getting quotes from Daniel Petrocelli who was the lead attorney in the civil trial, and Fred Goldman. This idiot book trashes both of them as being gold diggers. The author is going to wish he had never emailed me hahaha
On the music front, well that damn 'to do' pile is getting really big, I have lost count on how many cd's are waiting. It is just a daunting thought. About the only good thing was that my daughter came to visit, and I managed to persuade her to take some away with her. It wasn't nearly enough though. She only took about 10, 50 would have been better.
The high spot of the week in music was the new Clive Nolan double CD. Recorded under the name Caamora, She is a classic rock opera. I love prog rock and this is prog rock at it's very best.
I have been trying to get an interview with Clive for months, to no avail. But of course with this new CD coming out suddenly he wants to talk to the press! The problem that I faced though was Caamora is not being released in the US till May. So my distributor here is not going to have it till April. No prob, I went straight to the record label who are in Poland, they were delighted to send me a copy and arrange the interview with Clive (who is in England). Of course the blasted CD's didn't get here in a timely manner, and I ended up having to FTP a digital version from Poland.
The label was happy to do the FTP, but boy they were paranoid, I guess their FTP server is not as secure as it might be, and having the CD images on there was not their favorite. They had them deleted within a couple of minutes of me getting them.
With the panic over I was able to conduct the interview. You can find the review on http://www.bloggernews.net or do a google news search on Caamora.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Life was fine until Jan and I heard a thump from outside. I peeked out the window and to my horror saw a Canada Post truck parked outside the house. My worst fears were realized when I opened the door, a dreaded Clint box! But this was a Clint box on steroids!
I openned it up and I am now the proud owner of 37 more DVD's and CD's that need to be reviewed!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Sony working on the principle of 'it's cheaper by the box' decided that they would add a few extra items. So instead of one CD there were about 10 of them. Mercifully most of them were harmless.
My favorite was a promo for the new Black Crowes album Warpaint that is being released soon, favorite because it only contained one track hahahaha. The bad news is I did an article about it, and now they want to send me the whole album. And I'll bet a dollar that when it arrives it won't be traveling alone!
The piles will be further exploding in the near future thanks to Robert Redford's Sundance cable channel. I have just agreed to two weekly series for them. The Green, is a great show, and I did season one for them last year, so I am quite looking forward to that. It is a series about people and companies using eco friendly approaches to life and business.
They want to use the same format as we did last year, each week I do the review a couple of days before the show airs, and include a short interview with one of that weeks guests. I like that, interviews are fun, and I sure interacted with some curious people last time.
Sundance are also premiering another series that promises to be fairly interesting. Take four young men of Arab origin and relatively new in America, stick em in an RV for 10 weeks and let them explore the country. I think this should be quite interesting.
The net result of this is going to be another 18 DVD's to add to the damn piles! I guess I am going to have to do something with them soon.
One of the genres of music that I enjoy because I am an aging hippie is Prog Rock. And beleive it or not the center on the Prog Rock universe is Katowicz Poland, and specifically the company Metal Mind Productions. One of the artists that they represent is Clive Nolan, Clive is a fascinating musician, he looks, sounds, composes, and acts just like Rick Wakeman in the 1970's.
I have been trying to get an interview with him for over 6 months, which is how long it took me to get an interview with Rick Wakeman (they even treat the press the same way hahaha).
Well last week I saw a press release about Clive, he has a new double CD being released, and there are interview opportunities. The problem though is the CD is not being released in the US until after the interview opportunity. I know that the US distributor will send it to me, but that will be too late. So I got hold of my Metal Mind connection, they are shipping the CD direct from Poland, and I have my interview op with Clive in England. You have to love the global environment that we live in!
It mentions at least three times the fact that this DVD has an individual digital watermark in it, and if it appears on Bit-torrent they will know who did it!
In fact the DVD is not even mine! It is just on loan to me, but they don't want it back! I am not allowed to lend it out, or show it to unauthorized people. I guess Jan won't get to watch it hahaha
All in all I view this as slight overkill. Being long in the tooth in this reviewing game there is no way I bit-torrent a preview disc, of course it is going to be watermarked. If I was going to get involved in piracy I would use a store bought copy. Not that I have any interest in pirating anything. Why the hell would I want to pirate anything?
Oh, and this movie was not from some no-name indie organization, it was from one of the big studios (name withheld to protect the stupid).
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I'll bet you have never even heard of Region Codes. Well they are yet another insidious way that the music and movie industry control what you can and cannot do with the product you have purchased. In a nutshell it works like this:
REGION 1 -- USA, Canada
REGION 2 -- Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Greenland
REGION 3 -- S.Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Parts of South East Asia
REGION 4 -- Australia, New Zealand, Latin America (including Mexico)
REGION 5 -- Eastern Europe, Russia, India, Africa
REGION 6 -- China
REGION 7 -- Reserved for Unspecified Special Use
REGION 8 -- Reserved for Cruise Ships, Airlines, etc...
REGION 0 or REGION ALL -- Discs are uncoded and can be played Worldwide, however, PAL discs must be played in a PAL-compatible unit and NTSC discs must be played in an NTSC-compatible unit.
What a f'ing scam I say.
Oops I have digressed. I was talking about the weapons of the trade. Well I use a couple of portable DVD players and an old LCD Projector.
Now I know that most households have absolutely none of these devices. But they work great for watching DVD's. The one on the left has a 10 inch, and the one on the right a 9 inch screen. That might sound small, but they work great.
The biggest issue is the 'Done Pile', this is without doubt the hardest pile to manage, and requires constant attention. Essentially everything ends up on the 'Done Pile', and when it starts to eat us out of house and home we go through it and decide which items we want to keep, the rest gets put in boxes that we hide around the apartment. Right now the 'Done Pile' is getting out of hand!
Ah, the joys of being a reviewer!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My solution was to go out and but a portable DVD player with a 7 inch screen. That might sound small, but we are in a small apartment, and it works great, or at least worked great. For the past couple of weeks though it has been hit or miss. No doubt it was not designed with me in mind. We sling two or three DVD's or CD's on it a day. We watch, we review, we stick it in a box. Unfortunately for the past couple of weeks we have had about a 40% failure rate on playing stuff. But it all plays fine on the computers.
I was ready to just go out and buy a new one, but Jan has a better idea! Jan is a pack rat! She found the receipt, and the original box. It turns out that it came with a 90 day 'in store' warranty,
and right now we are on something like day 82. So it is off to Wal-Mart in the morning. I doubt I will tell them how many discs have been through the unit, that would likely void some other warranty!
Saturday, February 09, 2008
I tend to work on the assumption that the 'thing' being reviewed, and it could be a book, music, or a movie, is the very best that the artist can do, he or she has put their heart and soul into it. On the odd occasion that I come across something that I genuinely do not like, I still try and find some redeeming feature in it.
For the most part this formula works quite well.
But what happens when you write a good review and the artist hates it? Well this was a first for me. I reviewed an indie movie, documentary in fact, by a fairly 'off the wall' film maker, I gave it a pretty positive review, tho I did remark that the film maker seemed a little eccentric. Well the guy went up one side of me and down the other! So F him, and the horse he rode in on!
He will get no further coverage from me. In fact he is such an ass, I won't even share his name.
Friday, February 08, 2008
We, well I, got up a few minutes before 6am. At six we turned the TV on to the watch the local morning news program. The little information bar at the bottom of the screen revealed that it was a balmy -5c outside. -5c is not bad, you need a jacket, but it is pretty livable. Of course Calgary weather is about as stable as Britanny Spears, and by 6:30am it had changed to -18c, and a wind chill of -30c. The TV weather guy then went on to explain that we are due for 40mph winds, ans snow! By tomorrow morning the temperature with wind chill will be at least -40c. Oh and for you folks that don't do Celsius, -40 is where Celsius and Fahrenheit come together. -40 is really stinking cold!
The good news is, I have a plan. I am going to call a cab and go get a good stock of beer so that I can sit this one out!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I of course decided that he needed some exposure, so I launched into the Richard Sandler film fest. A review a day, for a week. I am on day four, I love the movies, but boy am I burnned out. A movie a day is just a little much. Meanwhile, the damn books are piling up, I just did a quick look around and it seems to me there are 11 in the queue. There is also a fairly impressive pile of DVD's, god only knows what they are.
I was also contacted a few days ago by one of Sony/BMG's labels, they seem to think that I would have the perfect home for the 75 new releases that they have planned for the first 6 months of this year!
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Morocco is a pretty poor country apart from the drug trade, and I'm sure you can buy a truck load of Tangines for $20.
I love to cook, and I love to explore new things, Jan hates it, but generally goes along. I am pretty certain that she thinks living with me is like being permanently on 'Fear Factor'.
For weeks now I keep seeing Tangines on the damn TV. This afternoon I was happily writing a review of 'Swamp Thing', yes the cheesy TV series from the 1990's, when another damn Tangine appeared on TV. That was it, Swampie was out Tangines were in. "I want one of those" I told Jan.
Some quick research revealed that there are two basic varieties, the glazed and decorated type, these are designed for presentation more than cooking. Well thats not what I want, I want to cook. The second sort is for the most part unglazed, and you have to soak them in water before using. Thats what I want!
Then I hit the sticker shock! Only a few places sell Tangines, and they want $100 for one! What a bloody rip off! At the very most they should be $20. So Tangines have gone on the back burner for now!
Friday, February 01, 2008
Next, select the leading man and leading lady, this is where it gets a little harder, your best bet are those 'house hold' names that have most recently been released from Detox. You want to get em nice and clean and sober. Of course this will not last long, so you want to make sure the shooting schedule is pretty aggressive. Certainly no longer than 3 months. Else they will be wanting to 'go dry out' again.
Early in the shooting cycle you want to make sure that you get your leading lady and leading guy on as many late night talk shows as possible. This will vastly increase the 'hype' factor behind the enormous scam being played on the unsuspecting theatre goer.
Even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with the storyline, if the leading lady has any sex appeal at all, you will want to get some footage of her naked. This can be spliced in afterwards as a filler for spots when the dialog gets truly awful.
What about the plot and storyline? Oh, that's cake, put up a Craiglist Ad, asking for a 500 word synopsis of a movie. You will get hundreds of dumb ideas, you might even get some intelligent ones. If that happens, throw them away. Select the absolute dumbest from remaining ones. For a couple of grand any old hack screenwriter can eek 500 words into a 100 minute yawner.
If this sounds like too much effort, and for the past several years this has indeed been the case. Either do a remake of a movie that made it big 20 years ago, or do a sequel to something more modern. If you are super creative you might also try a 'prequel', For example, instead of 'Grumpy Old Men', do Nasty Kindegarteners! And if all else fails, take a cheesy 80's TV series and appall the audience with the silver screen version.
I'll just stick to my Indie Movies, not everyone is great, but almost every single one is better by far than the noxious crap served up at the MegaPlex!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Well pick up the average book, like 80% of them, and look at the back cover, they have those one sentence reviews written by famous people. Well I have been asked if I would do one for a book coming out on June! This is the next best thing to actually being an author.
Now if that isn't bragging rights I don't know what is.
I also received an really interesting manuscript this week. Alas it looks like its publication is going to be delayed for a while. It concerns the assassination of Martin Luther King, unfortunately the author and publisher are concerned about some potential litigation from the 'very far right' white supremacy sector, and have decided to spend more time backing up their assertions. Now personally I would be more concerned about my personal safety rather than the potential for a law suit. These are some not very nice people to have on their 'bad side'.
Ah, the joys of being a reviewer, I get to review things that don't actually exist yet! hahahaha
Friday, January 18, 2008
Generally speaking all of these books contain exactly the same 'common sense' ideas, but authors keep churning them out. About the only thing that changes is the order of the chapters. If these authors are so damn good at making money why are they writing books? Hell I'd be on a sail boat somewhere warm, screw writing books! Who needs the headache of publishing?
The other peeve I have is the style of writing that associates itself with this type of book. Lots of font changes, lots of italics, bold, caps, and bloody ordered lists. This is the book version of a scam get rich quick web site! They use exactly the same techniques.
THE 57 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO BEFORE TAKING A CRAP
1) Make sure that your Backberry has new batteries in it
2) You have your Day Planner
3) Your pen works!!!!!!!!!!
57) There is toilet paper!
It was my misfortune to have to deal with two of these stupid books this week. I hated every moment, and can honestly say that I learned absolutely nothing, other than the fact that you would need your head examining to go out and actually spend your hard earned money buying them. The best way to get rich is to not waste your money, and this is a complete waste of money.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Not content with these major lifestyle enhancements, she also added one of those pointless Toilet seat cover warmers! Why does a toilet seat cover need a warmer anyway? In my opinion toilet seat covers are right up there with Chia Pets!
The net result is that Jan has created a monster! The toilet cover warmer has changed the entire dynamics of the plastic bits. To take a leak, you now run the gauntlet of the Willy Wonka. Just as you are enjoying getting rid of that 6 pack, 'KERASH', and the Willy Wonka has nailed you!
I am thinking about renting a Porta-Potty, the bathroom is just out and out to dangerous for male use!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
This started a nasty sequence of hospital related activities that I did not enjoy at all! I hate hospitals to begin with, I don't even like visiting people in the place, never mind being the 'victim'. I swear they stick needles in just because they have a sadistic streak.
Today I got the results of all of the poking, prodding, pricking, MRI'ing, Ultrasounding, heart monitoring, CT scanning, and all the rest of it! Other than having ridiculously high Blood Pressure, they have declared me likely to live! When they took my BP I clocked in at 212/110 which had them reaching for their Tums!
So they have upped the drug level to a dosage that is in the range that likely contravenes the SALT treaty, and I am now the proud owner of a swishy at home Blood Pressure monitor! I wonder how much I can get for it on eBay?
Oh, and for the foreseeable future I get to meet with the delightful Stroke people every two weeks. About the onlt amusing part of this whole adventure is that they want to include Jan in these sessions, so she likely will get as much abuse as I do! hahahaha
Friday, January 04, 2008
Now that might seem like a great idea. But, it really has its downside. These guys are so big that they release at least one item each day. This has resulted in a constant stream of innocuous looking brown cardboard boxes arriving. Even the delivery guy knows them because he is here so often. On the rare occasion that I actually see him, he hops out of his truck, comes bounding up the pathway, and with a smile says "Looks like a Clint box".
Clint Boxes are taking over the apartment! They are everywhere! Jan lives in fear and dread of them. Well most of them anyway! A couple of days ago I was heading out the door to go to work, and what did I find? A very frosty Clint Box, it had been there all night, the temperature as something like 10f. Unfortunately the contents survived the arctic conditions!
Later that morning another Clint Box arrived, but Jan didn't mind getting that one, it contained some very yummy Belgium chocolates! Clint is now Jans hero!
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
In a wild move, I have decided to make two New Years resolutions. I'd love to share them with you, but they both involve Jan in a French Maids outfit!