Friday, October 31, 2003

First impressions count, even when you're all in disguise

As previously mentioned, I went to a Hallowe'en party last night, which was hosted by my friend Peter McMahon and his roommate Doug. My friend Barry happened to be looking for a Thursday party to kick off his four days of Samhain celebration. I figured this one would be perfect for him, and secured permission to bring him. Barry works in broadcast production, while Peter works at the Discovery Channel and would be inviting a lot of TV people. And Barry goes all-out on costumes, while Peter and Doug go all-out on decorations, activities, and especially costumes.

In fact, Doug happens to be a talented maskmaker. I gave Barry a little preview of Doug's work by sending him to his website, The site's called that because Doug is, in addition to being a very talented maskmaker, a very fat man. He's got to be 400 pounds at the very least. Fortunately, he's got charm by the bucketful and a great sense of humor about his great size.

So Barry and I go to the party, with Barry's friend Raj in tow. We're greeted at the door by Doug, who's wearing one of his scary masks and a flowing black robe, standing there like a silent masked behemoth.

Raj looks at Doug's mask with great interest, looks Doug up and down, from head to foot, then -- as I look on in a horror that sends my testicles retreating into my belly -- reaches out and tentatively prods at what he obviously assumes is Doug's heavily padded fake stomach, being the only one of us who hasn't been briefed that it's not part of the costume.

"What the fuck?!" Doug shouts. "Who the fuck is this guy poking me in the stomach?!"

In fact, Doug wasn't offended at all. It's just that Raj had basically committed a faux pas along the lines of asking an overweight woman when the baby's due and Doug wanted to really rake him over the coals for it. Raj never did end up seeming too comfortable after that, and in fact, he and Barry ended up leaving the party early to go find a bar.

I think what I've learned here is that if you ever make a first impression that awkward, you should probably just commission somebody like Doug to make a mask for you and wear it for the rest of your life. But if it's the maskmaker you offend, you're screwed, because then you don't have anyone to make that unrecognizable new face for you.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

My brain-dmanaged housemate

Meet my housemate Toula. She has brain damage.

Caused in a car accident, this handicap mainly mainfests itself in an inability to understand the difference between first-run television programming and reruns, leading to much confusion over -- and I have to explain this on a weekly basis -- how Friends can air two or more nights in a row. ("But this was just on yesterday at 5:30!") Over the years, living with her has afforded a steady supply of comedy. Take this example:

Toula (standing over stove): I'm going to put this pie on the windowsill to cool.

Me: You'd better watch out for the proverbial pie thief.

Toula: What's a "proverbial pie"?

Me (wearily): No ... what I meant was --

Toula (catching dishtowel on fire): Eeek!

Me: (slips away, thankfully.)

But, I don't even know what to say about this latest one. I'm on my way to a Hallowe'en party tonight. I wanted to go as something scary, yet imaginary, like a vampire or a werewolf, so I'm being the missing weapons of mass destruction. (How deliciously satirical!) My costume basically consists of me wearing black pants, a black knit cap, and a black shirt that says WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION on it. I'm planning on sneaking around from place to place and hiding from any Americans who might be looking for me. You know, good times. But before leaving, I thought I'd run into the kitchen to grab a sandwich, whereupon I encountered Toula.

Toula: You're all in black!

Me: Yep.

Toula (laughing like Muttley the cartoon dog): Are you sure you don't want to be a black man? Haw haw haw!

Me: That's ... not my costume.

Toula: You would have really scared me then!

Uh ... okay.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Tina Fey

The New Yorker has a great article on Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey. If you're the sort who found Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller's SNL history Live From New York to be an engrossing page-turner, it's worth your while. If all those links confused you, just click here. Then go here for another New Yorker article on the creative process behind the show.

Devil to Rod Roddy: Come on down!

Game show announcer Rod Roddy, the booming, jovial voice of The Price is Right, is dead at 66. Reports indicate he had suffered from breast and colon cancer in recent years. And you thought that the only trouble with the T&A on that show came when Barker's Beauty Dian Parkinson sued the host for sexual harassment.

By the way, that last link wasn't work-safe, but I know you always wanted to see that, didn't you?

In other unfortunate health news, the similarly named Ruddy Ruddy may have herpes. At least, that's the hope of direct-mail distributor Young America, which has optimistically mailed a free sample of Heala fever blister/cold sore treatment. "Enclosed is the Sample you requested," the box says, but I assure you in the strongest possible terms that I neither requested any herpes medication nor have any need to.

But, hey, if you have herpes simplex, who am I to judge? Sure, I might point out that you're clearly too stupid to figure out a more complex case of herpes, but frankly, it's bad enough that your mouth and genitals are covered with cracked, weeping sores. I'm here to help you. You can probably get your very own free sample of Heala by writing to:

Young America
PO Box 200
Young America, Minnesota 55553-0200

Note that the company apparently has an entire town to itself -- an entire community that I'm guessing is crawling with herpes cases. If the tourism industry ever gets subjected to stronger truth-in-advertising laws, Minnesota will have to change their nickname from "the land of 10,000 lakes" to "the land of 10,000 contagious, oozing blisters."

Now, dear herpetic reader, because I've helped you, you can help me by rubbing an envelope all over your seeping, sore-covered mouth and sealing it with a kiss. Then mail it to the cretins at RealSimple, who, like Harlequin, are trying to pull some kind of sleazy advance billing stunt on poor old Ruddy Ruddy.

First, they sent the October issue of the magazine, and a letter thanking Ruddy Ruddy for taking a look and inviting him to settle up his account if he wanted to. Later came a letter saying "payment is now due." Now they've sent the November issue and a second invoice, which is due on November 4, 2003 -- barely a week after the letter arrived. Not only are they sending Ruddy Ruddy a product he never asked for and certainly never signed up for, but they're getting increasingly pushy in demanding payment.

Clearly they deserve to have a few cases of herpes on their hands -- literally.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

"That's it ... I'm trading these two love birds."

I don't know why, but something about this screen capture from NHL 2004 just kills me.

By the way, since I've finally had a chance to play the game now, I can say that on the whole, I love the new franchise mode. It's just what I wanted. And not only is the fighting great, but I've already had one goalie fight! Awesome!

However, there are a few things about the game that I'm not crazy about, most of them having to do with things that were in earlier editions, but were taken out.

- The new menu system isn't intuitive and makes it difficult to get the information you're looking for. Particularly annoying is that you can't right-click on a player name anymore and pull up his info.
- You can't look at all players listed by their attributes anymore, unless you're doing a fantasy draft. When building a team, I always liked to be able to immediately assess who in the league had the highest potential. And it was fun to be able to immediately see who was the tallest man in the league, or who was the fastest, or who was the best checker.
- The post-game pop-up is gone, meaning that your goalie could be fatigued or a player injured or sick with the flu, and you wouldn't know it unless you went to the team report screen.
- Here I was hoping they'd put in the skills competition or Young Stars game, and it turns out you can't even play the All-star game anymore in dynasty mode.
- EA is taking their sweet time putting out the opening day roster update. They still have Johan Hedberg in net for Pittsburgh, but no Marc-Andre Fleury. And no Eric Staal on Carolina or Jordin Tootoo on Nashville. In fact, there don't seem to be any rookies at all. Who's going to win the Calder?
- Even when they put the rookies in, it'll still be hard to figure out who's leading in scoring, because they took out the ability to look at rookie-only scoring.
- The controls have been changed around a bit. I'll adjust to that, but most of my scoring was accomplished through deflection goals and these seem to be completely gone. (Of course, I only used deflection goals because that was virtually the only way to score on the hardest level, so if they've come up with another magic scoring technique, I'll use that.)
- The cyberfaces aren't amazing. They're kind of fuzzy-looking and lack detail. The ones for 2002 were better and the ones for 2003 looked great. Of course, the add-on makers in years past have come up with some terrific ones that beat EA's faces six ways to Sunday.
- EA seems to have made the game unfriendly to add-on makers. They've locked the databases so they can't be adjusted (so you can add the rookies or adjust stats, for instance) and I've yet to see any new cyberfaces or player photos for 2004. Of course, these problems will be cracked, but EA knows the add-on community is out there and they ought to make things easier for them, not harder.
- Some of the players still don't have photos. In fact, some players who used to have photos don't now. Why'd they get taken out?
- EA's added minor league teams into the game, but at the same time, they haven't. You can send players down and bring them up, and they do apparently improve their play through minor-league coaching, but your "minor league" team basically amounts to a list of your scratched players. I've got about eight players on my minor league team, which isn't anywhere close to a full roster. And the teams don't have names. The team names might not be there for legal reasons, but they don't even give the name of the city where the minor league team is, which shouldn't cost EA a thing. Say you're playing as the Los Angeles Kings and you send a player down. He should be going to the Manchester Monarchs, or at least to Manchester. This would be so easy to add.

All in all, it's a great game, but these issues bug me. Hopefully, some might be fixed in a patch, but realistically, I'm probably going to have to wait for NHL 2005 to get these things fixed.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Light cigarettes

I just heard a guy in front of me in the grocery store checkout line offer the theory that the light cigarettes he was buying were "not as bad for you as the air in the city. In fact, they're good for you because they help your lungs get used to toxins."

I stared at him, searching his face for some flicker of irony, but either he had the world's most deadpan delivery or he honestly thinks that smoking cigarettes is like taking a self-defence class for your lungs, whereby they can practice fighting off attacks.

That might be the most idiotic thing I've ever heard.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

16 Tons

You get 16 tons of junk mail and what do you get? Another day older and Ruddy Ruddy in debt.

Another package came in addressed to Ruddy Ruddy, which is always even more exciting than the usual mail. A quick look told me that it was another shipment from Harlequin advising me to Open immediately! Surprise gift inside! A Free Gift from us to you See inside carton... So, I saw inside the carton, and sure enough, there were four more Harlequin Blaze novels (Flavor of the Month by Tori Carrington, Over the Edge by Jeanie London, Yours to Seduce by Karen Anders, and Anything Goes … by Debbi Rawlins [and not Cole Porter]) as well as a bookmark, a coaster with a mountain lake scene on it ... and an invoice to the tune of $19.09.

I read the letter that accompanied this and it seems like Harlequin has some kind of sleazy Columbia House-like deal going on here, except that it's even worse because Ruddy Ruddy never signed up for this. They just bought the name and address from whatever third party the name got signed up with. So, now Harlequin is sending a box of books every month, along with an invoice. You can return these if you're dissatisfied or don't want them, but if Harlequin doesn't hear back, they're just going to keep sending them. (Oh, and the coaster? Harlequin is vowing to send a free one every month until Ruddy Ruddy's got the whole set. This is so they can continue to prominently display a big "Free Gift" label on the package, which helps them dupe people into thinking they're getting free books until they finally figure it out, say, when four shipments have come in and the recipient is a hundred buck in the hole. That's even sleazier than this whole negative opt-out routine.)

This is pretty moronic of them. What if they end up mailing a shipment to someone who doesn't live at the address on the package -- like, say, Ruddy Ruddy -- and the occupants just ignore or throw out the packages? Harlequin's going to lose twenty bucks per package until they finally get to the bottom of the matter.

Also stupid: this piece of fine print in the contest rules that they sent along as part of a "win a free plush robe" offer:

In order to win a prize, potential Canadian winners must correctly answer a time-limited arithmetical skill-testing question to be administered by mail.

A time-limited test to be administered by mail. That's not exactly a proctor standing over you with a stopwatch, is it? They're basically saying, "Look, we're giving you at least a week or two to add, subtract, multiply, and divide this equation, because we know you're not just the kind of moron who reads Harlequin novels -- you're the kind of complete retard who falls for shady direct-mail sales campaigns."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Maybe I can clear things up

Here's a little chunk of text from an old pwtorch post:

Hawk came to ringside and joined Ross and Lawler in some "color dissentary (sic)." Hawk slurred and mispronounced his words as if he were drunk. He asked Ross, "Does your wife still have the belt?" Ross said, "My wife doesn't wrestle." Hawk turned to Lawler and said, "Hey, Jerry, remember 1986 or so at the Mid-South Coliseum you told me don't sell the piledriver and I didn't and it was great?" When the announcers ignored Hawk, he asked if they were giving him the cold shoulder and if they were being disrespectful. Hawk asked Ross to "talk to Vince about that raise."

Good old Hawk.

Elliott Smith

Well-regarded folk/punk singer-songwriter Elliott Smith is dead of an apparent suicide. Too bad -- I'd always heard great things about him, and what I've actually heard from him wasn't half bad.

From the article:

Smith's songs were often compared with those of Alex Chilton, Nick Drake and the Beatles, his favorite band.

I'm thinking he's going to get even more of those Nick Drake comparisons now, what with the suicide and all. Whatever had him depressed, though, was obviously self-inflicted:

Smith was born Steven Paul Smith on Aug. 6, 1969, in Nebraska; his mother was a singer and his father was a psychiatrist. He spent most of his childhood with his mother in the suburbs of Dallas and then moved to Portland, Ore., in high school to live with his father.

Smith studied piano and guitar as a youth and began composing songs when he was 13. He began calling himself Elliott in middle school, he later explained to a reporter, because Steve sounded too "jockish."

Coincidentally -- or perhaps not so -- bathetic Smiths crooner Morrissey stopped using his given name (Steven Patrick) for exactly the same reason. And he's on the record as saying (more or less) he'd commit suicide if he had the guts.

Yet, as Canadian young adult novelist Gordon Korman made clear in Don't Care High, the late-night TV heroes who always effortlessly save the day and get the girl are always -- always -- named Steve. So what career avenues are left for you when you reject this natural coolness advantage -- the so-called Tao of Steve -- and thus, the job of professional hero? There seem to be two: "confessional singer/songwriter" and "suicide."

Hawk, revisited

I checked with my friend Mike, who has a memory for these things, about exactly what it was that Road Warrior Hawk said to Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler when he was sitting in on commentary, drunk. Mike says:

I was *just* remembering that! His first line was, I believe

Hawk (boozily): Hey J.R., does your wife still have the belt?

He also had earlier remarking to Lawler:

Hawk ( with comraderie ): Hey King, remember when I no-sold your piledriver
in Memphis?

That's funny stuff.

A good band is easy to like

You know you're at an indie rock show when the band has to get their hands stamped just like everybody else.

In fact, when I caught the Beulah concert tonight at Lee's Palace, I was talking to this guy Danny for quite a while before the show before realizing he was actually the drummer. Beulah are obscure enough that even their fans don't know them, apparently.

But they shouldn't be, because they're very, very good. They rocked the house tonight, generously giving us more than two hours of music and a lot of good times. They played pretty much everything one could hope to hear, and not only did they take requests for the encores, but they dragged anyone making a request onstage to perform with them (including this girl Janette, one half of a friendly couple I'd met while talking to Danny and with whom I watched the show. She was much enthused by the experience. She's also a huge transit nerd, incidentally, and here's an interesting link I mean to pass along to her that details all the minutae of the TTC). Another highlight: Singer Miles Kurosky refusing to play an encore until he was allowed to call back someone who'd called a (mortified) audience member's cell phone earlier in the show. It didn't work out as well as he'd hoped, since the person who answered had no idea who Beulah were, but it was worth a shot.

(By the way, the opening act was John Vanderslice, formerly of the band MK Ultra. I used to draw a comic by that name, so I was curious to hear him. He was fine.)

Anyway, the guys in Beulah are a pretty friendly lot. I got to meet three of them without really trying; we just kind of bumped into each other. Danny, for his part, was having the worst birthday ever, owing to a break-up and a death in the family, but he soldiered on to put on a fine performance. Miles looks a little like Neal Pollack in a Big Star T-shirt (which screams indie cred), and it turns out we actually had something of a mutual case of T-shirt envy, since he told me he liked the "Wolf Buddy" shirt I was wearing enough that he'd nearly pointed it out from the stage during the show. (The shirt's actually been quite popular on casual Fridays at work, mostly with the surprising number of people who get the Teen Wolf reference, but especially with my co-worker Brian Wolf, who takes it as a personal show of support.) The keyboardist, Pat, liked the shirt too, and told me he'd actually been doing the Teen Wolf dance in the van yesterday, for some reason.

Anyway, I like Beulah. You should too. Do yourself a favor and check out "Gene Autry", "A Good Man Is Easy to Kill", and "Popular Mechanics for Lovers" from The Coast Is Never Clear. Then if you like it, buy their latest album, Yoko, since the word is that it's kind of their last-ditch effort for success before they finally just give up. So if you don't buy it, you're responsible for breaking up the band. You don't want that on your hands, do you?

Coming soon: Another mysterious package for Ruddy Ruddy. More details to come when I open it. (I'm such a tease.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

He snacked on danger and he dined on death

Since Scott brings it up, professional wrestler Mike Hegstrand -- better known as Road Warrior Hawk -- died Sunday morning at age 46. The apparent cause of death: falling off the Titantron.

The old "despondent Hawk attempts suicide" angle was a truly awful moment in the history of professional wrestling (and it's pretty ironic that Puke, the guy who was trying to replace Hawk in the Legion of Doom, is the one who actually ended up getting paralyzed due to a fall). But it sure was entertaining to listen to Hawk's "drunken" guest commentary.

Hawk (boozily): Hey J.R., remember when me and your wife used to wrestle in the Mid-South Coliseum?

Jim Ross (testily): My wife's not a professional wrestler!

Hawk (confusedly): She isn't?

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, somebody named Mother Teresa died a while ago and they're trying to make her a saint. This guy sure has some bad things to say about her. (This kind of thing is his stock-in-trade; He did a hell of a hatchet job on Bob Hope a couple of months ago too, slamming him for being "paralyzingly, painfully, hopelessly unfunny.")

Dude looks like a Ruddy or The US Postal Service comes a’grovelin'

What’s better than getting a piece of mail? Getting two pieces of mail, of course. Last night brought a double dose of mail for Ruddy Ruddy.

One’s a package of free samples of Total Effects 7x Visible Anti-aging Vitamin Complex from Oil of Olay (or, rather, "Olay." It looks like they’ve changed their name, and when you think about it, it’s a sensible marketing decision. After all, with so many skin-care products being marketing to fight oily skin, it must have been an unnecessarily tough sell to market one that actually had "oil" in the name.) I think this package lends more support to the increasingly popular "Ruddy Ruddy is a girl" theory. My co-worker Dave disagrees. "Guys can use this too," he says. "I use Clinique and Biotherm."

"Do you carry a purse too, you fancy Dan?" I ask. This confuses my other co-worker Dan, who is nearby, just within earshot.

At any rate, although Ruddy Ruddy’s gender is still a matter of controversy (and come to think of it, the Harlequin Blaze novels would fall on the female side of the argument), this package also seems to make another demographic claim: Since it contains products that "fight 7 signs of aging" – products of which Ruddy Ruddy is apparently in need – Ruddy Ruddy is no spring chicken. It’s tragic that his/her youth is slipping away, particularly since he/she has only been around a couple of months.

The other piece of mail is just a little booklet of recipes called "Fun Meals for Fussy Eaters." It’s more notable for having had a corner torn off it and subsequently having been bagged in a protective pouch, complete with an incredibly apologetic message from the US Postal Service. In deference to their apparent motto, "You can’t spell 'government mailing' without 'groveling man'," they seriously get down on their knees, saying:

Dear Postal Customer:

We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service. We hope this incident did not inconvenience you. We realize that your mail is important to you and that you have every right to expect it to be delivered to you in good condition.

Although every effort is made to prevent damage to the mail, occasionally this will occur because of the great volume handled and the rapid processing methods which must be employed to assure the most expeditious distribution possible.

We hope you understand. We assure you that we are constantly striving to improve our processing methods in order that even a rare occurrence may be eliminated.

Please accept our apologies.


Your Plant Manager
Processing & Distribution

Well, that just won’t cut it, US Postal Service! How dare you damage Ruddy Ruddy’s precious junk mail?!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Geek out!

Yesterday, I totally geeked out and installed a new motherboard, CPU, video card, and more RAM -- about $470 worth of upgrades, all so I could finally play NHL 2004. Tyler helped me pick out all my new gear, which consists of the following:

- Celeron 2.6 GHz 128K cache (CPU)
- ASUS P4S533-X SDR +DDR USB 2.0 (motherboard)
- 512 Mb PC-2700 DDR333 (RAM)
- PowerColor Radeon 9200 SE 128 Mb DDR (video card)

And I installed Windows XP for good measure.

My computer now runs like a cheetah. Finally, it's Hockey Night in Peter's House.

Coming soon: A double shot of Ruddy Ruddy.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Don Mills 25

It's starting to become clear to me that taking the Don Mills 25 bus south from Don Mills subway station is very bad luck. It may be the most direct route from that point to my house, but from now on, I'm taking the Sheppard subway west, the Yonge subway south, and the Bloor subway east to get home whenever I find myself there. It's just easier.

The first time I made this trip, I managed to break my glasses, which was really annoying but has no good story behind it. I just thought they'd be safe in the pocket of my cargo pants and I was wrong. But this time, which is the second and last time, had sitting alertly in my seat, guarding against my own stupidity. Suddenly, I heard a choking cough directly behind me and the back of my head and neck was sprayed with a fine mist. I whipped my head around to see a guy with a bottle of Sprite, sheepishly covering his mouth. "Sorry," he said.

Since it was clearly an accident, I just got up, shot him my dirtiest Who the hell do you think you are -- the Great Muta? look, and stalked to the back of the bus. I sat down beside a big Jamaican lady who chucked at me good-naturedly and confirmed that the guy seemed to have accidentally choked and spat all over me. "That's what I call a drinking problem," I quipped, to her delight. But my mind was troubled by two things.

First, this isn't the first time this has happened to me, and I felt an intense sense of deja vu when I thought back a decade, to the events of my worst bus trip ever, the one when I got bong water sprayed all over the back of my neck in a curiously similar fashion. Frankly, once in a lifetime is enough for that kind of thing, and I want to know if I need to expect more of the same in 2013.

The second stems from the fact that I'd had some really bad luck earlier. I went CD shopping with a friend of mine and I'd bought five discs (First of a Million Kisses by Fairground Attraction, Asleep in the Back by Elbow, Agaetis Byrjun by Sigur Ros, Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne, and Wanna Meet the Scruffs? by the Scruffs), including one that's incredibly rare and I'd picked up for only $11 (the Scruffs one). Then we went to eat, then hit HMV. Somewhere between the restaurant and HMV (or at one of these locations, although the management of each place denies it), I managed to lose my CDs. That's like throwing away money and it really pisses me off. So up until this point, I was wondering if it had happened as punishment for all the music I've downloaded or as a justification for all the music I was going to download in the future. Now, I was wondering if the icky bus incident was just part of a continuing pattern of bad luck for the day that included my losing the CDs, or if I had actually lost the CDs because I was going to take the Don Mills 25 bus later on that day. If so, I think that might mean that the cosmos is actively plotting against me. That's serious stuff.

Oh, and later on during that bus ride, a pretty girl lost her balance and nearly fell in my lap, but then she didn't. So that was bad luck too. I hate the Don Mills 25 bus.

Choose your own Daventure

Wow! A David Lee Roth choose-your-own-adventure! Finally you can be the greatest frontman in rock 'n' roll history!

Incidentally, I got there while wondering if there was a good explanation of the whole "no brown M&Ms" thing anywhere online, which is something Dave set straight in his book. It turns out there is. God bless for fighting the good fight to dispel ignorance everywhere.

The harrowing adventures of Ruddy Ruddy

Thanks to my newfound knowledge (bestowed upon me by Ian) of how to link to my own posts (and I'm a complete tool for not being able to figure out something so extremely simple), I present the easy guide to Ruddy Ruddy's adventures. I'd sort of been meaning to compile them at some point, and Jay gave me a good excuse, since he may well have sent me a visitor or two. (Good god -- with three references to him in as many posts, I might as well just retitle this blog "Jay" and be done with it.) Anyway, here are the posts, in chronological order:

Ruddy Ruddy
In which I discover a wormhole... (Ruddy Ruddy content extremely minimal)
Ruddy! Ruddy! Ruddy!
Ruddy Ruddy #4
Ruddy Ruddy Redux
My love affair with forbidden books
Ruddy Ruddy #8
Who will save Ruddy Ruddy's soul?
Ruddy Ruddy redux, again
Ruddy Ruddy, you'll be a woman soon
Who will save Ruddy Ruddy's soul? (Part 2)

Friday, October 17, 2003

Hall of Mirrors

I just wanted to make the most postmodern post possible in the modern age. (Whew. Read that back to me, would you?) Anyway, go look at Jay's site, which'll send you right back here. Then go to Jay's site again. It's like a laser pointer in a hall of mirrors: Bing-bing-bing-bing-bing--Agh! My eye!

Anyway, I mention all this because he brings up a good point: How do I make it so I can point to an individual blog post? I've been wanting to figure it out for a while, since it might be good for collecting related posts together (say, the Ruddy Ruddy stuff) and whatnot. Anybody know? Comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Motown madness

A while back, after I finished putting together a three-CD compilation of the history of power pop, Jay challenged me to put together a definitive Motown collection. Eventually, I did, but I forgot to tell Jay about it. Last night, I was burning an Mp3 disc to take to work and ran across the files, so I threw them on. I thought I might as well post the tracklist right here so Jay'll know I didn't just blow the whole thing off, and so that anyone else who's interested can see what I picked.

Here are the guidelines I set out for the project (although I did end up bending my rules a little). First, I wanted to make it a chronological compilation, so that it would trace the development of the Motown sound. Second, it should contain only one song per artist. After all, it'd be all too easy to fill up a disc with several songs by the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Supremes, and I wanted to throw a spotlight on a few lesser-known artists. Here's the tracklist I came up with for this single-disc compilation:

1. Mary Wells - My Guy
2. Brenda Holloway - Every Little Bit Hurts
3. Junior Walker - Shotgun
4. Kim Weston - Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)
5. The Contours - First I Look at the Purse
6. Martha and the Vandellas - Nowhere to Run
7. Shorty Long - Function at the Junction
8. The Four Tops - Reach Out (I'll Be There)
9. The Isley Brothers - This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)
10. The Marvelettes - Don't Mess with Bill
11. Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
12. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
13. Marv Johnson - I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose
14. Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through the Grapevine
15. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Someday We'll Be Together
16. The Originals - The Bells
17. Edwin Starr - War
18. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tears of a Clown
19. The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
20. The Spinners - It's a Shame
21. Stevie Wonder - Superstition
22. The Temptations - Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
23. Holland-Dozier-Holland - Why Can't We Be Lovers
24. Gladys Knight & The Pips - Midnight Train to Georgia

I ended up leaving some things off because they didn't fit the overall feel of the compilation, instead concentrating on the glory years of the label, beginning with the emergence of the classic Motown sound and ending roughly around the time Motown moved from Detroit to LA in 1971. For example, I left off Motown's first number one single -- "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes, from 1961 -- because it's got more of an early girl-group sound (but the group did get represented later). I also left off the Commodores' "Brick House" from 1977 and Rick James' "Super Freak" from 1981 because they just came too late for what I was looking for. And of course, when we're talking about Motown's all-time most successful artists, we've got to mention Boyz II Men, but I just can't bring myself to put them on, even if they are the most commercially successful R&B artists of all time, since they're everything I hate about modern R&B. I guess "End of the Road" would be the song to include, if you had to pick one, though, given that it's one of the biggest hits in the history of pop music, spending 13 weeks at number one and breaking Elvis Presley's record (11 weeks for the double-A single "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog"). But still -- they're such a bunch of wusses.

Now, as for the rules I broke, you'll notice straight off that Marvin Gaye actually appears on the disc twice. That's because his duets with Tammi Terrell were of such significance that the duo really needs to be recognized as a separate entity. (And it goes without saying that he deserves to be recognized on his own. The man gave us What's Going On, after all, which is widely considered one of the greatest albums ever.) Also, I sort of cheated in that the last two songs were recorded after their artists had left the Motown label. But given that Holland-Dozier-Holland was the production team behind such a ridiculously high number of Motown hits, it's safe to say they embody the Motown sound, so they deserve to have their only hit single as a group represented here. As for Gladys Knight and the Pips, you just can't not pick the Grammy-winning "Midnight Train to Georgia", their only number one. Anyway, they'd only left Motown (where they'd labored for years) only the previous year, so I think it's permissible. It makes such a good closer too.

World's greatest grandparents

A couple of items in the news today about two old Canadian icons -- folks who were inducted into the Order of Canada together, as a matter of fact -- and two people I might well have chosen as grandparents, had I had any say in the matter.

First, a nice story in Slate about sex educator Sue Johanson, whom I've had the pleasure of hearing speak on a couple of occasions. She's apparently replaced Dr. Ruth as the premiere geriatric sex expert on American television, thanks to her new show on the Oxygen network. Although you don't want to picture how she knows all this sex stuff, her frankness and eagerness to share her knowledge is just so darned cute. (I recently saw her make David Letterman turn beet-red and get tongue-tied during an interview. It was hilarious.) She's a national treasure, and she'd make a great grandma full of all kinds of useful advice for the boudoir.

On a sadder note, wrestling legend Stu Hart died today at age 88. Honestly, I kind of wish he'd died earlier, as the last few years have not been kind to the Hart family. Since 1990, he's lost his sons Dean and Owen, his son-in-law Davey Boy Smith, and his wife Helen, and the family has been torn apart by divorces and infighting surrounding the infamous Montreal Screwjob and Owen's tragic death. There seems to be something of a curse surrounding the Harts, considering all the fatal drug addictions (see: Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman), crippling injuries (see: Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid), and general tragedy that follows them. But in happier times, it would have been cool (if a little scary) to have him as a grandpa and to soak up all the devious wrestling techniques with which he used to torture wrestling trainees in the infamous Hart Dungeon. Even as an octogenarian, the guy was capable of crippling you permanently with one of those arcane old holds.

Imagine the possibilities of having Sue and Stu as grandparents and learning at their knee. You'd become a seasoned expert in both sex and violence.

Dogs with jobs and those without

Speaking of canines, I just saw the most remarkable thing on the way home from work. I just saw a dog panhandling.

Right across from the magazine stand in Pape subway station, this big black dog was just lying there quietly with one paw resting possessively on a baseball cap in front of it, in which rested a single loonie. I stopped and looked at it in amazement. Then I looked around to find the owner, but no one was around. The dog appeared to be there all by itself, begging for change.

The irony of the situation is that I'm pretty sure it was a Labrador Retriever, which is, of course, one of the breeds often employed as "working dogs."

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Seig Howl

Adolf Hitler may have hated a lot of things, but one thing he loved was dogs. So, had his busy schedule as history's greatest monster permitted a little free time, one can easily imagine that he would have taught his faithful hound Blondi to do this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Who will save Ruddy Ruddy's soul? (Part 2)

The Book of John people have some competition, and these folks are prepared to give Ruddy Ruddy salvation out of more than one book of the Bible. "Thank you for your interest in the Bible Quizzes Website," begins their letter. (I've never been there before in my life.)

"We are pleased that you have taken advantage of the opportunity of receiving absolutely free, a Bible Reading Planner in the form of three laminated bookmarks, which are enclosed." (Three bookmarks? I only need one, my good man! I mean, how many Bibles can I read at a time?! Well, actually ... one for the home, one for the office, one for the car ... yeah, three is about right, actually.)

"Each bookmark dishes out a single portion of God's word daily for 365 days of the year." (Not quite -- you'll need the Bible, which isn't included. What does a man have to do to get a free Bible in the mail around here? Maybe the Gideons can help out.)

Yadda, yadda, yadda ... please pray while reading ... God Bless ... Sincerely, Bible Quizzes of Box 2181, Sidney, B.C., Canada, V8L 3S8. Hmm. The other guys were from Oregon, and these guys are from British Columbia (and a town that looks like it's misspelled, but turns out not to be). It's interesting that it's only Westerners who want to save Ruddy Ruddy's soul. Is Cascadia the Promised Land? God knows every one who's been out west sure acts like it is.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Golden Words

While I was collecting all the links for that last post, I notice that my old university paper Golden Words printed a little cartoon that I dashed off for them while I was back for Homecoming last weekend on page 12 of their latest issue. It's printed in space-filler size, so it might be hard to see what's going on, but if you just squint and remember that it involves poison, you should be able to figure everything out. Or maybe not; so far, some people haven't been able to get it at all.

Ruddy Ruddy, you'll be a woman soon

I've taken a sick day to recover from a hideous cold and I finally feel up to blogging again. Coincidentally, fellow Golden Words alumnus Joey DeVilla seems to be doing exactly the same thing today. Has he been French-kissing hobos behind the bus station too? Curious.

Anyhow, the latest mail for Ruddy Ruddy comes in flagrant defiance of all the other mail received so far that's been addressed to Mr. Ruddy Ruddy: This one's from Stayfree, maker of maxi-pads and other feminine hygiene products noted for their remarkable leak protection, and it contains a free sample.

I have three conclusions here:

1. If I thought the Pepsid was a handy one to have around just in case one of the girls at work needed it, this could be even more life-saving.

2. If I find that the Imodium fails in my hour of need, I might just be able to use this myself.

3. If you're signing up to get free stuff in the mail, pick an ambiguous name that leaves your gender in doubt. That way, they'll send you everything, just in case.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Digging up things best left buried

Thanks to my friend Tyler, who has generously provided the server space (or whatever -- I don't even know exactly how these things work, but he does, and that's one of the things I like about him), my old website makes its return to cyberspace.

This is where I kept a bunch of my old comics and articles. The files have just been sitting on a CD for well over two years. It might just sit here as a dead site, but it's possible that I'll update it again. Maybe I ought to hook up my scanner again and scan in all those cartoons that I haven't been drawing. I certainly ought to re-scan some of the older ones that are barely legible.

At any rate, have fun picking your way through the crypt. Peer upon the soon-to-be-resurrected bones of the online home of ... MK Ultra.

For the birds

My living accommodations are for the birds -- literally. I managed to fill my bedroom with birdseed on Friday night. My friend Krista claims it was because I’m trying to attract chicks. But here’s what actually happened:

This summer, my friends Scott and Marlene got married. Every guest was given a small bag of birdseed to take home, the idea being that we should feed the birds at some future date and reflect upon the happy occasion. Of course, I simply threw the bag in my backpack and forgot about it. I did notice it the next time I needed to use my backpack, but I was in a hurry to pack, so I didn’t bother to take it out.

This time, I was in just as much of a hurry, having only a half-hour to pack, eat, check e-mail, and make some phone calls before hitting the road to go to my alma mater's Homecoming. I grabbed my backpack out of the closet and whirled around to start stuffing clothes into it. To my shock, the bag of birdseed had broken open by this point, and seed flew all over my room.

At that point, even though I was pressed for time, I had to sweep it all up. Otherwise, I’d come home after the weekend and I’d be guaranteed to find my room full of birds, and I’d have to call an exterminator to kill them all. It’s like leaving a mound of sugar on the kitchen counter; you’re sure to get ants. Plus, if I accidentally spilled any water, I’d probably end up growing sunflowers where I didn’t want them.

Scott had no sympathy when I arrived at his house (where I was staying) and told him about the incident after noticing that plenty of seed managed to stay in my backpack and got all over my clothes. “It serves you right for not celebrating our love,” he said. “Some groomsman you are.”

I’d like to say I spent a sleepless night when I returned home yesterday agonizing over my lack of a sense of romance or my dereliction of my duties as a groomsman, but in fact, I spent the night tossing and turning because it turned out my sheets were full of birdseed too. That stuff gets everywhere and it seems to multiply. That’s probably why I can’t remember ever seeing a skinny bird.

Things get worse for Arnold (or at least, they ought to)

If Arnold Schwarzenegger wins the governor's race in California, it'll prove that he's every bit as bulletproof as the T-800 itself. Not only have no less than 15 women come forward with allegations that he's sexually assaulted them over the last 30 years, not only has an interview surfaced where he talks about gangbanging a woman with other bodybuilders, not only has he willingly smoked marijuana on camera, but the producer of the movie Pumping Iron has now released this transcript of Schwarzenegger's pro-Hitler comments:

I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on. But I didn't admire him for what he did with it.

Caveat at the end or no, you just don't praise Hitler and expect to be elected to public office. What in the world could possibly make Arnold think he could have this many skeletons in this closet and still win the office of governor?

Only the mere fact that he probably can and will.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

So long, Slick Ernie

Ernie Eves, you are the new Kim Campbell. Finally, the Progressive Conservatives have been booted out of office, and Ernie Eves, heir to the sins of the appalling Mike Harris, has conceded the premiership. Thank god. Look at the guy. He singularly redefines the words "fat cat" as they pertain to politicians. One look at that slick hairstyle and you can immediately picture golden, bejeweled rings on fat fingers, meaty digits afflicted with gout from eating too much rich food. Just looking at him disgusts me. And now I don't have to!

A word to incoming Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, though: "Orating" isn't the same thing as "shrill yelling." Loosen up, you squawking chicken.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Who will save Ruddy Ruddy's soul?

If Absolutely Free Inc. of Glide, Oregon gets their way, Ruddy Ruddy will be among the saved on Judgment Day. Ruddy Ruddy #9 has arrived, and it's actually one that I've already got: The Book of John.

I've already got one on the Wall of Ruddy Ruddy, and when I saw this one, I thought for a second I was in some kind of Gospel-of-the-Month club (collect all four!). But, after a look at their website, it seems they only give out the Book of John. So, I'll just put it up beside the other one and see how many they send me until I crumble and convert.

Meanwhile, here's a review of the Book of John. (Verdict: It's good.)

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