Friday, December 23, 2016

It's All About the Bass (Number Ten)

CJ's note:  This is the first in a series of eleven or twelve posts.  Please refrain from commenting until the final post! 

The early 90s were a period of experimentation (musically) for me, as I've noted previously.  During my high school years, I listened to my parents' music (50s-70s), classical music, AM radio, and was really into the band Dire Straits... a decent but safe mix of music.

In my late teens and early twenties, I began to emerge from my shell and started listening to things outside of my comfort zone, mostly rap, commercial metal, then punk.  From punk, I branched out to goth, industrial, and eventually to electronica.  My favourite bands tended to be the people who blended different styles and genres... sounding sort of like one genre and not quite another.

One such band was the Infectious Grooves, a funk-influenced side project of Suicidal Tendencies' front man Mike Muir and bassist Robert Trujillo.  It was this band that taught me an appreciation for the bass guitar, and one track in particular stood out.

Ladies and gentlemen, coming in at the number Ten spot is Do the Sinister!

My theme song for a few years, Do the Sinister was prophetic in a way, as my musical explorations led me to a number of sinister places (some of which I still visit on occasion).  Join me for a drink tomorrow to see one of the more interesting places.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's All About the Bass (Prologue)

I had a great deal of fun writing my Ten Famous People series back in September.  While it was chiefly an experiment in writing and scheduling and less about the content, it still managed to garner some degree of praise.

But what do I do for an encore?

While waiting for my connecting bus this morning, I found myself groovin' along to the bassline of one of my favourite songs... I had to suppress my natural urge to play "air bass" in order to avoid embarassment!  I say "natural urge" because I've always found myself strumming along to the bassline of my favourite songs (unless there's a superior guitar or synthesizer riff), which has prompted a number of friends to tell me I'm a natural bass player.

(Despite my never having learned to play)

While reliving these happy memories, I thought to myself, "CJ, why don't you write a new series showcasing your favourite bass lines?"

A fine idea!  Please join me over the next twelve days as I do just that.  My musical tastes are varied, to say the least, so there may be a few surprises on the list!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Epilogue)

The Bucket List has been a fun experiment.

So far, the most popular post in the series by traffic was Number Five (Gretzky), while least popular was Number Eight (Merkel).

The drinking angle was really an outgrowth of the excitement I felt about Modern Drunkard's new Clash of the Tightest drinking contest. The famous (living) people angle took a bit of work, but was kinda fun, too.  I was being  genuine, and really had to think about who made my list, and why.  Hell, it was probably more thought than I've put into my blogging in ages!  I kept each entry short (by my standards) and to the point, didn't go into a lot of detail, and tried not to presuppose character.

The real experiment was the writing and scheduling.  If you've been following my blogs or websites (any of them) for any length of time, you'll know that if a post ends with the words to be continued, it probably won't be.  I lose interest, run out of time, get sidetracked, etc, and it's rare to see a series completed.  That's not to say I haven't accomplished that:  my Blog Action Day series "The Power of We" was written over the course of a day, a vacation day I had set aside specifically for Blog Action Day.  My series "A Tale of Entitlement" took a while to complete but eventually got done, thanks to the prodding of a couple of my regular readers.

My original plan was to write The Bucket List as one complete post, in much the same way I wrote the Honourable Mentions list.  But as I started writing, I thought to myself, "CJ, why rip the Band-Aid off quickly when you can slowly pull it off over a period of several days?"

As usual, I had a point.  Anyone who's followed me for years is probably used to the pain, so I decided to present it as a serial.

This time, however, I planned ahead and wrote the whole series ahead of time.  It took a couple of lunch hours to write, and another to steal the pictures from Google Images.  I scheduled each post for 6 AM, which is shortly before I leave the house to catch my bus for work, so I could read it and make changes after the fact during my commute.  On the weekends, I'd read that day's post while I had my morning coffee.

I like the way it turned out, schedule-wise, and am going to employ this method in the future.

Do you know what else I liked?  Not having comments enabled.  I don't know that I'm going to re-enable them, will have to mull it over.  One gets tired of spam and morons.  Of course, I usually announce my new posts via social media (Google+, Twitter, and even Facebook) so, for the time being, if you feel you really must comment, do it there.  Just remember, I'm only polite and respectful to a point.

Join me next time as I (finally) present The Cone of Silence, a piece on distraction-free writing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number One)

CJ's note:  This is the Eleventh in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final synopsis post (which I suppose would amount to twelve posts), as I don't feel like re-enabling them at the moment...

So here we are at the top of the list.  Number One.  The winner.  In my mind, I already knew who would top the list.  Out of the hundred or so people in the running, one name kept standing out whenever I went to trim the list.  There's nobody who could have beaten this person out.  There's nobody in this world alive with whom I'd rather sit back and enjoy a drink or two, even if it would never happen.

So who is our winner?  Who beat everyone else on my list?  Whom shall we send victorious, happy and glorious..?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the world's longest reigning Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!

Now here's a person whom I admire, a woman of grace, humour, and dignity.  Someone who has weathered storms and controversies, who has borne the weight of the Commonwealth on her shoulders.

Being of predominantly English descent, my choice of first place belies my roots.  As a Canadian, and part of the Commonwealth, the Royal Family (love them or hate them) has been part of my life from day one.  We've watched all the Royal Weddings, followed them during Royal Visits, cried at the funerals, and laughed at their foibles and missteps.  We sang God Save the Queen at school (the traditional song, not the one by the Sex Pistols), and pledged to "Do our best, do our duty, to God and the Queen" in Cubs.

So, it seems only proper that Her Majesty take the top spot.

I understand that the Queen is a gracious host, has a wicked sense of humour, and drives like a bat out of Hell.  I would love to ride shotgun as she drove us around in her Range Rover, touring the English countryside, before settling in at the Palace for a nice gin, talking politics, English history, kids these days, and soccer.

This concludes my bucket list.  Join me tomorrow for the recap!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Honourable Mentions)

CJ's note:  This is the Tenth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

Before we move on to my Number One, I'd like to call your attention to five people who very nearly found a place on my bucket list:

Tom Waits:  Singer, composer, actor.  Tom and I would close down one drinking establishment before looking for a bootlegger so we could continue drinking and drowning whatever sorrows/demons come to mind.

Jim Heath, aka The Reverend Horton Heat: Jim and I would rock the joint, closing down one drinking establishment before leaving through the side door to avoid the cops and/or jealous husbands, hopping into a Cadillac convertable to escape.

Pope Francis:  That the first Jesuit Pope isn't on my Top Ten will be the source of anguish for years to come.  As a Catholic convert, I would love to sit down with His Holiness to learn, pray, and talk about the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and the Summa Theologica.  All while drinking Trappist beer.

Ben Stein:  Sometime actor, game show host, writer, pundit, and Penthouse correspondent Stein would have at least as many stories as Peter Mansbridge, but also some from The Inside.  Would consume brown liquors and close down the place while talking recent history and politics.

Ron Jeremy:  Speaking of stories, I'm sure The Hedgehog would have several doozies...

That's my list of the also-rans.  Join me tomorrow to discover the badass who beat everyone else on this list, to take the number one spot!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Two, Runner-Up)

CJ's note:  This is the Ninth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

It was a difficult task, putting these ten people (and five honourable mentions) into a ranked list.  Before I started writing these little blurbs, I agonized over who went where, what ranking each of them got - only to rearrange them as I wrote their entries.

Gretzky moved down a notch, Heenan went up several places (he was originally Number Eight), and Putin was supposed to be in third.  But despite all the agonizing, I knew all along who would be in the top two spots.  The problem is, I wasn't sure which of the two should take the top spot!

It took more agonizing and hand-wringing, but it soon became clear.  With that, I give you my Runner-up:

Tonight:  The voice of The National, Peter Mansbridge!

If I were to pick my favourite news anchor of all time, Mansbridge would still be in second place... to Walter Cronkite.  Both anchors were consummate professionals, and both men exuded great dignity and bearing.  However, as Mansbridge is the only one of the two who is still alive, he's the only one who can be on my list.  (Lloyd Robertson was on the list, but was cut early on).

Mansbridge isn't just masculine dignity and a sexy voice, though.  Anyone who's watched Mansbridge One on One knows of the man's interviewing (and conversational) skills!  I'd like to hear his stories about the people he's met and/or interviewed, the news stories he's covered and witnessed, history, Canadian politics, and sports.  While drinking Canadian.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Three)

CJ's note:  This is the Eighth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

Unlike the previous two entries on my list, Number Three is an athlete in only the broadest sense.  In his profession, one is less an athlete and more a performer, a dancer, a showman, or in his case, Greek Chorus.  While certainly capable of holding his own in a physical capacity (by cheating), in his heyday he was more famous for his strategic and vocal contributions to his sport, and his ability to incite a crowd to madness.

He is simultaneously one of the most beloved and reviled representatives of his sport.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you... Bobby "The Brain" (or "The Weasel") Heenan!

Confession time:  I grew up watching wrestling.  I loved wrestling as a kid, when my dad, brother, and I would sit around watching AWA Wrestling on TV.  Eventually, the WWF/WWE supplanted the AWA, but I remained a fan well into my twenties.  Even now, I find myself tuning into a match, or watching old ones on YouTube.

Bobby Heenan was always one of my favourites.  You could always count on his doing something underhanded during a match to propel his charge to victory, and the hilarity that would ensue whether or not the trick was successful.  His pre- and post-match interviews were always something special.

Sadly, I may never get the chance to have a drink with The Weasel, as he isn't in the best physical shape these days.  But if we could, I'd love to have a few beers and reminisce about the old days of the AWA and the early days of the WWF/WWE.

I'd also like to find out if we have a distant familial connection... I used to remark, as a kid, that, at certain angles, The Brain sort of looked like my paternal grandmother.  I found out later that my granny's maiden name was Heenan... that would be odd.  But cool.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Four)

CJ's note:  This is the Seventh in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

The previous entry isn't the only athlete on my list.  This next entry is a high-ranking and competitive Judo enthusiast, who has released several videos and has made a name for himself on the world stage.

Oh, he's also a politician or something...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the current President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!

I only really "know" Putin by his reputation.  One hears stories in the news (both Western and Eastern media), on social media, and by word of mouth.  Good or bad, statesman or lunatic, leader or atomic supervillain, friend or enemy or some combination thereof, he'd certainly be an interesting drinking partner... and one gets the impression he'd be one of the few who might take me up on my invite!

I imagine a meetup with the Russian President might go one of two ways:  relaxing in a booth, drinking beer or vodka, and talking about history, the Cold War, martial arts, life in the public eye and scrutiny of the West, and personality cults... or a wild night of hellraising, carousing, singing, dancing and alcohol poisoning.

Either way works for me.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Five)

CJ's note:  This is the sixth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

So, here we are, halfway through the list.  Any surprises yet?

If not, this next entry will not surprise you, either.  As an elementary school kid in the late 70s and early 80s, I loved hockey.  We all did.  Most of us played league hockey at the community clubs, we played hockey in the schoolyard at recess, and we collected hockey cards (some of the others still do).  We idolized certain players, and one in particular was idolized the most.

No, not Mel Bridgman this time.  I speak only of one man, one true great...

Ladies and Gentleman, The Great One, Number 99, Wayne Gretzky!

I used to idolize the man who wore Number 99.  Most of us kids did.  Most of us were heartbroken when he was traded to the LA Kings.  I cringe whenever I think of what I did to his rookie cards... coloured on them with markers, cut out him out of the card along with the Oilers' logo to make a collage on my Official O-Pee-Chee hockey locker, played Ninja stars with it...

Hell, I could drink to forget about all the money thrown down the toilet by destroying several (!) Wayne Gretzky Roookie Cards... could have put a couple of generations of Wheelers through university!  But I digress.

Some coworkers of mine had the pleasure of meeting the Great One in an Edmonton bar a number of years ago.  One of the guys had gone AWOL from the group, and when he was spotted going into the lounge, he was asked where he'd been.  "Having a beer with Gretzky," he said, nonchalantly.  The others stated their disbelief, which soon faded when they followed him in.  There, at the table, was Wayne Gretzky.

I've heard stories from others who have met him through similar circumstances, that he's been a consummate gentleman and very accomodating.  Never having met him myself, I'll believe this to be true.  Much like most of the kids on that schoolyard, I'd love to sit down with our former idol, reminiscing about the good times and our own personal Golden Age of hockey.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Six)

CJ's note:  This is the fifth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

I went through a Japanese phase a while back.  It lasted from the early Nineties until a couple of years ago, however it was strongest shortly before and shortly after the turn of the Millenium.  Watched a lot of anime, read a lot of manga, bought all the CDs, watched a few movies, played all the games, and somehow taught myself Katakana and Hiragana.  I also drank a lot of Sake... and I mean a LOT of Sake.

My favourite Japanese movie star is (and always has been) Godzilla, but as the big G is merely an actor in a suit, he's not on my list.  I do have a second favourite, and he's sixth on my list.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  Takeshi Kitano, aka "Beat" Takeshi.

While Kitano is chiefly a comedian, I mostly know him as a gruff-voiced villain or anti-hero.  I was introduced to him through movies like Battle Royale, Brother, and Violent Cop, but despite playing a scumbag, he always seemed... likeable.

I eventually got to know him as game show host "Vic Romano", the name ascribed to him in MXC - Most Xtreme Elimination Challenge, the (poor) North American localization of Kitano's silly Japanese gameshow Takeshi's Castle., where I got to see his funny side.

I spent far too many years of my life watching reruns of this bloody show, a result of which was nicknaming my coworker Keith Babaganoosh (every other MXC contestant was surnamed Babaganoush), which seems to have stuck.

Kitano is the only person on my list whom I'd prefer to meet in a crowded club, preferably a comedy club, as it seems the most fitting.  Knowing he'd hung around with Yakuza and the criminal fringe in his early days, I'd love to hear his stories over a few drinks...  and getting to hear about the Japanese film industry from an insider's perspective would be the icing on the cake.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Seven)

CJ's note:  This is the fourth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

The Fourth entry on my list won't shock anyone per se, but it might seem out of character for me.  As most of you know, I enjoy a wide variety of music, so the appearance of a "controversial" musician on my list is not surprising.

However, what might be surprising to some is my choice of controversial musician:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Canadian performer k.d.lang!

I have a great appreciation for anyone who sticks to their guns and stays true to themselves.  While I'm not a fan per se, I do rather enjoy some of her work. Ingénue was one of my favourite albums when it was released, and songs like Constant Craving were on heavy rotation on MuchMusic.  Shortly after the album took off, during an interview with Much's Terry David Mulligan, she said something that stuck with me, which ultimately led to her appearance on my list.

While I don't remember the exact words, she spoke about spending her 30th birthday alone with a bottle of wine on the banks of the Seine River.  As one who enjoyed time alone with my thoughts, this naturally appealed to me.

If I had the chance to drink with k.d.lang, I'd like to revisit that scene, having a couple of bottles of wine and shooting the shit about music, individuality, stubbornness, and most of all, rebellion.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Eight)

CJ's note:  This is the third in a series of eleven posts.  Please refrain from commenting until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

If the previous two entries on my list surprised those who know me, the Eighth place entry won't... it's really a no-brainer.  I've made no secret of my fascination with German culture, a long-standing result of having dated a woman from Bonn many, many years ago.  I love German beer, German architecture, design and art; I follow German soccer (Eintracht Braunschweig), many of my favourite bands are German, and I usually swear in German (despite not having a working grasp of the language).

Despite all that, the Eighth entry on my list isn't a footballer, musician, designer, or artist.  I have also had a lifelong fascination with Ostpolitik, the Cold War, the German Autumn, and Reunification.  It's interesting to see how the country has changed since WWII, both politically and socially, and of all the actors involved, there could be only one who made my list.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel!

Considering her unique position as (arguably) the most powerful woman in the world and de facto leader of the EU, Frau Merkel would be an interesting person to sit down with, to say the least.  A quiet booth in a cafe would be the ideal place to drink beer and/or Schnapps, talking about politics, religion, art, recent German history, and above all, Fussball.

Don't need to elaborate further, really.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Nine)

CJ's note:  This is the second in a series of eleven posts.  Please refrain from commenting until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list!

Are you over the shock of the previous post?  Good, because my Ninth entry might surprise you, too.  Knowing I'm not particularily enamoured of politics, especially American politics, it might seem unusual to have two American politicians back-to-back on my list.

Yet here we are.  Number Nine on the list is none other than this man:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama II!

That's right, Number Ten's immediate successor is his immediate successor.  As I said, I'm not especially interested in American politics, but there was an incident early in Obama's presidency that really stood out for me... an event that came to be called The Beer Summit.

I won't re-hash the events before and after (read the link), but Obama's hands-on approach to mediating the dispute really impressed me.  You don't see that happening every day, although I don't know that that form of mediation would resolve any of the more serious issues facing the US (Ferguson, health care, etc).

As we're both family men, I'd like to have our respective families have a Beer Summit of our own, talking about parenting, job satisfaction, plans for the future, and hearing how the Presidency affects his family life.

** Spoiler alert:  He's the last American politician on the list.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Ten)

CJ's note:  This is the first in a series of eleven posts.  Please refrain from commenting until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

There will undoubtedly be a few surprises on this list, especially to people who think they know me (but especially to people who know they know me).

My Number Ten is one such entry.  I'm not one for politics, but even I have voiced my opinion on this man, his decisions, his leadership skills, his intelligence, and have even questioned his humanity.  He is probably one of the most... polarizing figures of early 21st Century politics.

I speak of none other than this man:

That's right, ladies and gentlemen: the 43rd President of the United States, George Walker Bush.  One of the most hated men around the globe, and yet he's propping up my list at number ten.  Thought you knew me, eh?

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Perfect plan, CJ, get him drunk and beat the crap out of him!", or "That'd be a perfect time to take him to task over what he's done!".

Well, no.

The whole point is to share a quiet evening having a drink with someone famous, shooting the breeze and bullshitting with each other, not confronting, taking them to task, or voicing opinions.

While there is very little I like about his work, the wars, his track record, human rights record, etc, I figure he'd be an interesting guy to drink with.  I can't describe it, he's got this simple sort of Down Home charm, and I get the impression he'd be a gracious host (assuming you're not in "Gitmo").  One can almost imagine sipping a beer in the backyard, Dubya sipping a spring water while cooking burgers on the grill, smoking cigars, shooting the breeze about football, and listening to humorous anecdotes about Rumsfeld, Cheney, and his pals.

My wife once said, "He leaves a lot to be desired as a world leader, but he'd probably make a great neighbour".

I tend to agree.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Prologue)

While outlining the next installment of my Never Let Your Magazine Run Dry series, I browsed the selection of magazines in the Issuu app on my new tablet.

On occasion, someone will make scanned (and sometimes edited) versions of commercial publications available, the legality of which is questionable.  One such publication was an old favourite of mine, Modern Drunkard, which I haven't read in some time.

Years ago, while I was still a regular reader, Modern Drunkard held a fictional drinking tournament called Clash of the Tightest, where sixteen famous drunks from history faced off in individual drinking contests until only one drunk was left "standing".  The series kept me entertained (and loaded) for months!

So, imagine my delight when I found that the magazine had started a new contest with sixteen more famous drunks!  Unfortunately, only the first four rounds have played out, but I am eagerly anticipating the next round!

I kept myself awake last night, thinking about some of the famous people throughout history with whom I'd like to share a drink.  The usual suspects came to mind: Winston Churchill, Al Capone, Michael Gross, Genghis Khan, Vlad Tepes, Carrie Nation, Karl Marx, Mohandas Gandhi, Pierre Trudeau, et al, but they're on everybody's list.  Or so I'd assume.

Before finally drifting off to sleep (and undoubtedly interesting dreams), I started compiling a long list of (in)famous people who are still alive with whom I'd love to drink.  It was a fairly long list, comprised of politicians, actors, musicians, athletes, newscasters, authors, writers, journalists, and people who had achieved some degree of notoriety.

I pared down the list on the bus ride to work this morning, which didn't take much effort.  I had so many names I couldn't possibly drink with them all, so I needed to filter out the undesirables.

First of all, I thought about what I wanted to do.  This was my bucket list of people I'd like to drink with.  Specifically, this was my bucket list of people I'D like to drink with.  Given that I am quite particular about the company I keep, the most obnoxious and boorish people were cut from the list.

Next, I thought about my typical social situations.  I'm an introvert by nature and am not a PARTY! kind of guy, so hanging out in a crowded bar in a party atmosphere is right out.  Thus, the real party people were eliminated.

Thirdly, I prefer situations that are small in scale and personal, like a private booth or small backyard barbecue, so the real crowd-pleasers and social butterflies were eliminated.

Next, I had to research my list.  Some of the people on my list were disqualified, mostly because I didn't know they had died recently and probably couldn't respond to an invitation (former AWA wrestler Nick Bockwinkel, for example).

Out of the hundred or so people on my list, I've eliminated all but fourteen.  Of that fourteen, I've narrowed it down to my Top Ten, with four Honourable mentions.

Over the next eleven days, you'll find out who... and why... in ascending order.

You might be surprised at who made the cut.

And why.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Musical Interlude: Die Krupps' Gladiators (1991)

Irony is writing a blog post on distraction-free writing, only to get distracted from writing.  The article in question is sidelined for the next day or so as new information comes in.  Until then, I present to you the following musical interlude.

Another of my CDTV-era favourites is Die Krupps.

I discovered DK back in the early 90s, having heard of them via a magazine review of their Tribute to Metallica EP.  The reviewer (probably a Metallica fan) absolutely trashed the EP, so I knew it was something worth hearing.

It took me a while, but I eventually found a copy of Die Krupps' Enter Sandman CD single.  The CD had two versions of the title track (both were alright), but what really stood out for me was their version of Metallica's song One.  I never really cared for Metallica's version until then, but DK's cover really made me appreciate the song.

Die Krupps soon made it into my regular rotation, and I began collecting their albums.

Gladiators, as heard above, went largely unnoticed by myself until recently.  While dismantling my lab late last summer, I popped their album Metalmorphosis of Die Krupps into the player and hit play.  I would habitually skip through most of the second half of the album to get to the last two tracks, and never really gave tracks like Gladiators, Neue Helden, and Tod und Teufel a fair shake.

I was in the middle of dismantling a Sun serial port multiplexer for Project Torquemada when the second half of the album came on.  In the middle of a delicate operation and with the remote out of reach, I couldn't get up to skip through the aforementioned songs.  I was too absorbed in what I was doing to pay much attention to Risk, however halfway through the next track (Gladiators), I found myself bopping along to the song as I unscrewed the hex sockets from the serial port, then started singing along with the refrain "We are gladiators!".

I let the rest of the CD play out, and am glad I did.  I don't know what I had against those songs initially, but it was clear I'd never given them a chance to grow on me.

They are now part of my regular "hacking" soundtrack, played whenever I'm deeply involved in a build or repair job.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Audience Participation Time: Never Let Your Magazine Run Dry (part three)

I've had a little over a year to really experience the digital age, insofar as it applies to magazines... and to be honest, I don't like it.

My initial impression was favourable, and for a few months I enjoyed having Wallpaper and Azure with me wherever I went.  I received an email from Zinio every month, letting me know my latest issue was ready for download.  My Issuu feed updated every time I logged in, and I found a number of great magazines there.

Everything was great, until I dropped my Kobo Vox e-reader on the floor, which somehow reset the stupid thing back to its defaults... wiping everything I'd downloaded.

Being an older tablet/e-reader, I wasn't able to download the latest versions of a number of apps - Zinio being one.  The old version that came bundled with my Kobo would no longer download my magazines, and newer versions wouldn't work.  I was still able to use the online Zinio reader on my XP laptop at home, as well as my Windows 8 laptop at work, so I didn't swear too loudly.

I continued like this for a few more months, but once my Zinio subscriptions ran out, I didn't renew them.  Now, that's not to knock Zinio - they offer a great product and their support is top notch - but it was pretty clear where my heart lay... in print media.

I resumed buying print magazines a few months ago, after I got tired of reading digital mags on my computer.  Sure, the quality of the digital variety is great and I don't have to worry about accidentally tearing it, someone writing on it, getting coffee stains on it, etc, but it's just not the same.

What I don't like about digital magazines is you can't leave one out on the coffee table.  You can't lend it to someone.  You can't draw mustaches and beards on the female athletes, or Hitler mustaches on all the politicians and businesspeople.  There's no sense of wonderment when you find one in a box in your closet.  There's no scent.  You don't get free rub-on samples of cologne in them.  Worst of all, you have no physical artifact to leave to posterity.

Call me an anachronism, but I prefer the real thing.

Which brings us to the Audience Participation part of our show...

I've put up a poll in the upper right sidebar of my blog.  It runs until Midnight, March 1st, and it's aimed at those of you who still buy print magazines.  For those who still enjoy print magazines, I'm curious about how you prefer to buy them.  Specifically, I'm curious to know if you prefer to support local businesses by buying magazines in-store, or if you prefer to support the publishers directly by subscribing to magazines.

Legal note: This poll is for my own curiosity, and I'm not acting on behalf of any demographic, research, Law Enforcement, or marketing agencies.  I will not share (or sell) results with any third parties, this is purely for my own amusement.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cabaret Voltaire: Walls of Kyoto (Live 1982)

This is it... this is the song that got me into Cabaret Voltaire back in the early 90s.

At the time, I was into bands like Ministry, Front 242, and had just gotten into Front Line Assembly.  I first learned of Cabaret Voltaire while reading the FAQ for the Usenet newsgroup, where they were mentioned as pioneers of the genre a number of times.  Ever curious, I embarked on a fruitless search for their CDs at the local music shops.  Nobody had ever heard of them, and, by chance, I found a copy of their live album, Hai!, for 99 cents in the HMV bargain bin.

I got it home, popped it into my Commodore CDTV, and gave it a listen.  My first impression was not a favourable one... in fact, I think my exact words were "What the fuck is this?  This sucks!"

I remember thinking how absolutely grating Walls of Kyoto was, and how it took effort to listen to the tune.  But one day a week later, I found myself in a weird mood, so I decided to expend the effort.

I was on the CDTV, checking my messages on a local BBS, and I was taking a lot longer than normal.  So much longer, that the Ramones CD I was listening to in CDTVPlayer had ended.  I grabbed Hai! and decided to give it another chance.

I let the CD run without actively listening to it... it was, after all, meant to be background noise as I went BBSing.  I let the CD run its course and thought "Well, that wasn't too bad...".

The next day, I listened to the CD again while on my daily pilgrimage to our local 7-Eleven, and found myself enjoying the music.  The CD soon made it into my regular rotation, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I still listen to the album on my iPhone once in a while.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dividing the Audience, or Six Point Oh is the Place to Go!

The Warring States of Flux, Denial, and Mind have signed a formal treaty and have become one again, as Conceit and Sociopathy 6.0.

What does this mean for you?  Well, you'll have two of my blogs to follow instead of just one.  Or you can pick one (or neither) to follow.  Either way, we're cool.

"So, what made you decide to reopen C&S when you just started blogging again on State of Grace?", you might ask.

A fair question indeed.  The short answer is, "Why the Hell not?"

The long answer is a drawn out, meandering affair full of reflection, angst, desire, questionable intent, and proper spelling... I'll spare you the details, just accept that it is.

"But CJ," you go on, "what does this mean in terms of content?"

First off, I dropped the nickname CJ a long time ago.  I use my real name now.

In terms of content, for now both blogs will largely be the same, with perhaps minor stylistic differences (I'll probably swear a lot more here).  I'll do my best to keep multi-part posts on the same blog, however.  As time goes on, each blog will take on its own character again.

The real reason, however, is that I resurrected Nadia for the umpteenth time and am keen to establish our partnership again.  I started Conceit and Sociopathy using Nadia, so it seems only fitting that I do so once again.