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Thursday, February 26, 2004

It's Very Simple Actually
Excerpts from radioandrecords.com:

Clear Channel...late yesterday announced that it has put an indefinite hold on the airing of the syndicated Howard Stern Show by any Clear Channel station. CC called the decision consistent with its "Responsible Broadcasting Initiative," announced earlier in the day. Six stations are affected by the move: WBGG/Miami; KIOZ/San Diego; WXDX/Pittsburgh; WTKS/Orlando; WTFX/Louisville; and WNVE/Rochester, NY.

The surprise is that Infinity-syndicated Stern was carried on any stations owned by Infinity competitor Clear Channel.

In Clear Channel Radio President/CEO John Hogan's prepared testimony for this morning's House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing on indecency in broadcasting...[he] says he is very much against the idea of license-revocation hearings over indecency: "Radio stations are valuable assets. We have paid more than $100 million for a station in a large market. For the government to revoke the license of such a station for such a transgression seems to me to be disproportionate. Threatening to revoke licenses will force us to contest any allegation of indecency because the stakes will be so high."

Looks like Mr. Hogan's running scared.

Well, this morning I tuned in to the tape-delayed broadcast of Stern's show on KLSX, just to see what he'd say. For the record, this is probably the first time in several months that I've even listened to Stern's show (gotta hear my Bill Handel and Tony Bruno - you're welcome, Mr. Hogan). Again from radioandrecords.com:

Stern, who referred to..."Fear Channel," noted these were "the last days of The Howard Stern Show"...

Count on Howard to build this up and get the Stern acolytes energized.

...and "spontaneity and creativity must be dangerous things" in today's world. The radio personality also said he wants to appear in front of Congress to apologize for being "a visionary broadcaster," and even joked that Clear Channel had announced that it was replacing the Bubba The Love Sponge program with a show hosted by terrorist Osama Bin Laden "because he is safer to control." Stern took calls from listeners in San Diego and Pittsburgh who were now no longer able to listen to his show...


  • Who replaces Stern on Miami, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Louisville, and Rochester?

  • Do any competitive radio stations take on Stern in these markets?

  • What happens to morning ratings in these markets?

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    Wednesday, February 25, 2004

    OEMPER is Official
    (See my entries on February 11 and 13 for more background on this.)

    On February 18 I finally made it to Tequila Hoppers, formally signed up OEMPER as an NTN Players Plus member, and got in a couple of trivia games.

    As of today (2/25), I am one of the top 50 players at Tequila Hoppers (see upper right corner). In fact, I will probably still be in the top 50 players as of 3/25. Why? As of today, only 9 Players Plus players have played at Tequila Hoppers. (Compare to McAlans.)

    The location of Tequila Hoppers has a history of having tenants stay for a bit, then close down. Hopefully Tequila Hoppers will stay a bit longer....

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    Friday, February 20, 2004

    Inland Empire Launches Attack on Los Angeles
    OK, so the LALA Times is clearly marked as a satirical website, but let's forget that little tidbit of information for a moment. We're invading Ellay!

    Inland Empire Launches Attack on Los Angeles

    WITH EMPIRE TROOPS OUTSIDE POMONA — The Inland Empire's forces swept into strategic positions today in their mission to liberate "the people of Los Angeles."

    Tensions between the Inland Empire and Los Angeles reached a peak a couple weeks ago when negotiations failed between the two counties and the Inland Empire cut off Los Angeles' water supply. The water rights issue stirred long-simmering political animosities, paving the way for an invasion known as "Operation: Angelinos Freedom."

    During an engagement between Empire troops and Los Angeles loyalists, the 13th Infantry Division managed to breach the county line, then prepared for stiff resistance from the residents of Pomona. Elsewhere, there have been reports that the Empire's 7th Marine Division broke through the San Gabriel pass and is leading a two-pronged attack on Azusa and Monrovia.

    Checkpoints were set up in Diamond Bar and Glendora to ensure the smooth transition of civilian populations into less-volatile zones. And refugee camps were established across the county line, but so far there have been few takers among Angelinos, who are nonchalant about reports of an incursion....

    Don Bleitzenkreig, Inland Empire president, spoke about the war and its overall mission. "Our gripe is not with the good people of Los Angeles. It is with everything that Los Angeles stands for: violence, corruption, decadence, style, egocentrism, vanity, entertainment, culture, wealth — oh, and tofu smoothies. We believe that most Angelinos do not want this to be their fate, so we have embarked on their liberation!"...

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    Internet Traffic Report
    From www.internettrafficreport.com:

    The Internet Traffic Report monitors the flow of data around the world. It then displays a value between zero and 100. Higher values indicate faster and more reliable connections.

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    Stop! in the Name of Traffic Safety
    A few bicyclists ruin it for the rest of them.

    This morning I was in the right lane of a low-traffic road with plenty of stop signs. I needed to make a right turn in 1/2 mile, and there was a bicyclist ahead of me. I figured that I'd go into the left lane, get around the bicyclist, then get back into the right lane before I had to make my turn. There was one stop sign between my current location and my right turn, so after I got into the left lane, I stopped at the stop sign.

    The bicyclist didn't.

    Because I was now unable to get around the bicyclist, I had to get behind the cyclist (driving at bike speeds) until I got to my right turn.

    Bicyclists refusing to stop at stop signs is a common problem. Presumably the thought is that if the bicyclist "unnecessarily" stops at a stop sign, s/he will have to start up again, exerting muscular force which is not necessary. (Ironically, many people bicycle to stay healthy, so stopping and starting again should presumably be a good thing.)

    Those wild-eyed granola eaters at the Marin County Bicycle Coalition have published a Bicyclists' Code of Conduct. I'll reprint all ten points, but please make special note of item 3 and the footnote below the code (emphasis mine):

    1) Never ride against traffic.
    2) Ride as near to the right as practicable*.
    3) Stop at stop signs and red lights*.
    4) Honor others' right of way.
    5) Use hand signals.
    6) With traffic, ride single file.
    7) Be predictable; don't weave.
    8) Follow lane markings.
    9) Don't needlessly block the road*.
    10) Use lights at night.

    *--Note that the two most common offenses of bicyclists are running stop signs, and groups of cyclists blocking the road.

    1. Stop at stop signs/lights: Stop at all stop signs and red lights. If two vehicles arrive at an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way. Politely indicate others' right of way with a hand gesture. For your own safety, never insist on your own right of way. Pedestrians always have the right of way. Your courtesy will be noticed and appreciated by other road users.

    There are, of course, opposing views. Tar Heel Cyclists has posted an essay entitled Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs which speaks a lot about the number of watts that a bicyclist can produce, the problems that sweat causes for bicyclists who cannot shower at work, and sexist statements such as "bicyclists must husband their power."

    Take the bus.

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    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    Exile One
    I was going to write about Johnny Marr, but then I felt better.

    Whilst uploading two new MIDIs to Sloganeering, I took a few minutes to sample my December 2000 collection Exile One. This collection contains the MIDIs "Little Vegas One" and "Little Vegas Two," neither of which are for headbangers. These were written at the same time as the MP3 "Madrid" (no longer available) and the poem Dining in Madrid. You know how John Bell Hood visited Romania? Well, I lived in New Mexico in a similar manner. And everything was mildly captivating (see "Little Vegas One"), then it was very calm (see "Little Vegas Two").

    Inspiration is a mysterious thing. Let's face it: if I can write an entire CD (Road Array) about the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, I can write about anything.

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    The Smiths Revisited
    Back on October 24, I entered the following in this blog:

    When Patti Smith married Fred Smith, did she take her husband's last name, or keep her maiden name?

    Well, I haven't found the answer to that question, but I have found Patti's observations on the subject:

    It was March 9, 1976, and we met in front of the radiator at that hot dog place, Lafayette Coney Island, in Detroit. The Sonic Rendezvous Band was opening for us, but I didn't know anything about him. Lenny introduced me to this guy. I heard that his name was Smith, and my name is Smith. We just looked at each other and I was completely taken by him. I had no idea who he was or anything about him until afterwards when Lenny told me. Lenny introduced him and said "He's one of the great guitar players." I said, "Perhaps you'll want to play with us tonight." And he said, "Maybe so." Then he left and I asked Lenny if he was really good, and Lenny said, "the best." So I was playing with him that night, and I had a lot of bravado in those days. I didn't have respect for anybody. But I totally submitted to his reign. He came on the stage and started playing, and after a while I just set my guitar down and let it feed back. I just let him take over because I felt I had met my match, that I had met the better man.

    This Patti Smith quote is taken from an extensive biography of Fred "Sonic" Smith at oceanstar.com.

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    Back in the Good Ole Days
    TV Acres features a biography of Colonel Sanders. Required reading. Here's a brief story about how Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials were back in the day:

    On February 18, 1964 Sanders sold his franchised chicken business (more than 600 outlets in the United States and Canada) for $2 million to a group of investors but was retained on salary as spokesman for Kentucky Fried Chicken often appearing in television commercials. One such TV spot in the 1960s showed an angry housewife who kidnapped the Colonel, interrogated him in an abandoned warehouse and demanded he give up his secret recipe. Of course, he didn't.

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    Kitchen Fresh Chicken?
    Just to prove that I am incredibly behind the times, everything worth saying about "Kitchen Fresh Chicken" (formerly KFC) (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) has already been said by other bloggers.

    From balnaves.com:

    How PC. Personally I find Kentucky Fried more appetising than Kitchen Fresh.

    From A Musing or Too Much:

    Their latest ads tout "Kitchen Fresh Chicken." I don't know how successful they'll be, but I'll certainly give them credit for hutzpah.

    From Biding My Time:

    What does that mean anyway? You would hope it would be fresh and prepped in a kitchen. Nobody wants bathroom fresh chicken Or kitchen rancid chicken.

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    Heh Heh Heh
    Yes, I like Beavis and Butt-Head. They were true heroes for the Clinton Administration. But I'll never buy the versions of their TV shows that are on sale right now. Probably for licensing reasons, the videos don't include the best part of the TV shows - their commentaries on current videos.

    Melinda Morrow has written an article on that very topic. Excerpts:

    ...This essay will address one of those overlooked questions: Why does MTV broadcast and support Beavis and Butt-head, a show which is often critical of the music videos that are MTV's bread and butter?...

    ...Story lines or social commentary are often totally lost on Be, avis [sic] and Butt-head, but do not necessarily interfere with a video's coolness provided enough hard rock elements are there. For example, the video for D.R.I.'s song "Acid Rain" creates a post-environmental-disaster world where people have inhalers and ponchos to protect themselves from the polluted atmosphere. Beavis and Butt-head don't care about that; they think the video is cool because the song is loud and the video shows people being beaten....

    ...There are two readings of Beavis and Butt-head that assume the show should be understood in terms of what it actually says. The first is what I call the Adolescent Male reading. It agrees that Beavis and Butthead's comments about videos are right on target. Heavy metal rocks, printed words suck, and Beavis and Butt-head are reproducing someone's real experience as a viewer of MTV....The second straight reading also assumes the show means what it says, but finds that meaning reprehensible. This view, which I call the Moral Majority reading, is characterized by its belief that Beavis and Butthead are corrupting the youth of America through their antisocial antics and bad language....

    ...Part of what gives Beavis and Butt-head's criticism its caustic power is the tension between Beavis and Butt-head's moronic antics and their sometimes perceptive commentary. They become idiot-savant critics of music videos, seeing and understanding what other critics ignore or bury in elaborate artistic pretensions....

    ...the videos that Beavis and Butt-head watch are not popular videos currently receiving airplay on MTV. The heavy metal videos, videos by obscure artists, or videos of unpopular songs may have their pretensions and inanities, but there is a limit to how far our estimation of them can fall. The show's critique of MTV has more in common with culling the weak members out of a herd than with subverting an art form. MTV has an interest in sacrificing the weak members because it needs to appear to make fun of itself in order to continue to be successful....

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    I Coulda Been a Contender
    I already talked about Amway back on December 2. When the stellar exponential opportunities of Amway were presented to me at the time, I ended up thinking about the David Naughton song "Makin' It":

    ...Number two to no one
    I've got looks, I've got brains
    And I'm breakin' these chains...
    Success is mine
    'Cause I've got the key
    I'm makin' it...

    Later, I thought that the Peter Gabriel song "Big Time" expressed a similar sentiment. The lyrical parallels are obvious:

    I'm on my way, I'm making it...
    the place where I come from is a small town
    they think so small
    they use small words
    -but not me
    I'm smarter than that...
    I'll be a big noise with all the big boys
    there's so much stuff I will own
    and I will pray to a big god
    as I kneel in the big church...

    And if I had just signed up to sell that shoe polish, I would be so much better than you today. :)

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    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    RFID Tracks You Down...Or Does It?
    Excerpts from Ephraim Schwartz's InfoWorld column at http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/02/13/07OPreality_1.html. Mr. Schwartz lists two possible scenarios identified by Hal Etterman, an "expert on data encryption and surveillance systems" at MindForce Consulting.

    ...You're sitting in the food court at your favorite mall...when a cordon of mall police surround your table, guns drawn, screaming at you to "Drop the bun and put your hands up!"...[T]he clerk at the Gap forgot to deactivate the RFID (radio frequency identification) tag in the sweater you just bought. When you passed an RFID reader, connected to the Wi-Fi enabled network, it sent a message to the security desk, and as you passed each RFID reader along the way, they tracked you down in the food court.

    You don't need this level of overkill. All you need is a very loud alarm as you exit the Gap. These alarms exist today, although RFID will allow better tracking of the merchandise.

    Here's another scenario: You're going on vacation in Las Vegas, and...you buy a book on card counting. Unbeknownst to you, it, too, has an RFID tag impressed into the binding....Now as you enter the hotel/casino, an unobtrusive RFID reader tells management that you have in your possession a book on counting cards. The book has a unique serial number associated not with your credit card -- that would be illegal -- but with a customer ID, name, and address.

    Why would anyone (well, anyone other than BookCrossing) even WANT to embed customer information in a book? If Joe's Books sells a book, it doesn't want to place its valuable customer data out in the book itself, where any competitor can get a hold of it.

    The casino, in turn, subscribes to a service, maybe from Amazon, with a database of every book in print.

    This is again overkill. Assuming that the information is embedded in the book in the first place, and assuming that the information is stored in a standard non-proprietary format, the casino can simply perform a word search for flagged terms such as "card counting." Much easier, and you save the cost of paying huge sums to Amazon.

    In a world of zero latency, as you passed through the doors, your photo was also taken and now it is distributed to every casino on the strip, so that every time you try to enter a casino, your image is matched to the database...

    Hold it right there. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has performed two rounds of face recognition vendor tests. As noted in the summary of the results of the 2002 tests, facial recognition accuracy in substandard lighting conditions is atrociously poor. Unless every person who enters the casino is subject to three-point lighting and positioned in front of an 18% gray backdrop, you can forget about accurate recognition of card counters.

    ...as a possible card counter, and two guys with closely cropped hair and tight-fitting sports jackets politely ask you to leave.

    Well, I don't know a lot about THIS industry...

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    Sometimes it Pays to be Cryptic
    A month has passed. The experiment presumably continues. My experiment (not based on hits, but on Google position) is complete; I'm just waiting for the results. Still waiting...

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    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    Football? You Bet!
    In my February 1st entry in this blog, I made the following comment:

    Many people are probably poo-pooing the first half because of the lack of scoring, but to me that made it even better. A good defense just makes the few offensive scores that much better. (So then, why aren't I a rabid soccer fan?)

    Well, ever since I started watching Fox Sports World, that has been changing.

    Part of it is my fascination with the league structure. The very fact that a team that loses a lot of games could be kicked down to a lower division is compelling. Imagine how the Los Angeles Clippers would play if they were threatened with demotion. Imagine how Donald Sterling would run the team if he was threatened with demotion.

    To a newcomer, the whole myriad of teams and leagues is somewhat overwhelming. Even for a single team it's confusing. During 2003/2004, the Fulham Football Club plays friendly games, Premier League games, FA Cup games, and one game for the C cup. As of today, they're scheduled to play a Premier League game on Saturday, then an FA Cup game on the following Tuesday.

    Add to that the fact that national teams and club teams are competing for players - something that only rarely affects U.S. basketball and hockey teams, and then only during the Olympics - and you have an incomprehensible mess on your hands.

    Regardless, this American is trying to be a wannabe football fan. Now, to be a wannabe football fan, I need to have a team to root for. (And no, the Los Angeles Galaxy doesn't count.) Therefore, I am proud to announce that the official football club for the Ontario Empoblog is...FC Wangen bei Olten. (I spent two weeks there a few summers ago. I like the place.) Their next scheduled game is against FC Zurich U-21 on 28 February. Go Wangen!

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    Monday, February 16, 2004

    Increase Union Pension Funds - Invest in Grocery Companies
    The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) governs itself by the use of eight Guiding Principles. Number five:

    Obtaining the highest return on our investment portfolio to survive, prosper, and grow in a safe and prudent manner.

    It therefore stands to reason that CalPERS would not knowingly want to invest in any stock that is about to tank. They would violate their duty to their constituency by maintaining investments that they know will lose value.

    As of December 17, 2003, CalPERS reported that they maintained investments in the following firms:

  • Safeway: over $77 million as of 12/17/2003

  • Albertson's: over $31 million as of 12/17/2003

  • Kroger: over $71 million as of 12/17/2003

  • So how have their investments done since that time?

  • Safeway: from $19.98/share on 12/16 to $22.43 on 2/13 (12%+ in 2 months)

  • Albertson's: from $20.17 to $23.95 (18%+)

  • Kroger: from $17.33 to $18.91 (9%+)

  • By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial average went from $10,129.56 on 12/16 to $10,627.85 on 2/13 (almost 5%).

    Looks like CalPERS was smart to invest in grocery companies...

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    I'm a rEbEl d00d! tAke mE to tHe sToRe m0M
    Recently, grocery stores have offered gift cards to use at other locations: restaurants, retailers, hotels, and the like.

    Well, Kroger grocery stores are now offering gift cards that can be used to purchase songs from Napster. This is of course the new, politically correct Napster that doesn't rob rocker or torture babies or whatever it is they used to do that made them so evil.

    And now Kroger stores are luring young impressionable kids into their institutions of corporate greed. Will the UFCW boycott Napster?

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    Enjoy the Silence
    Disney has made no official statement on Comcast's bid since the following statement, made 2/11/2004:

    February 11, 2004
    Contacts: Zenia Mucha
    (818) 560-5300*


    The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors has received and will carefully evaluate the unsolicited proposal from Comcast Corp. In the meantime, there is no action for shareholders to take. Today and tomorrow, the company will present to Institutional Investors and Analysts at a previously scheduled conference its broad array of unique and valuable businesses, as well as the strategies being deployed to fully realize the tremendous long-term value of those assets. # # #

    Obviously a response to such a bid must be more than a "yes" or a "no." Presumably the response, when publicized, will be a very long no with voluminous justification of why a higher share price is warranted.

    Perhaps Disney's drafting the response, or perhaps they're concentrating on other shareholder threats to Eisner at the moment.

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    Together Again
    If you had visited the home page for depeche mode dot com several months ago, you would have encountered a page that led you to several separate sites, including solo sites for Dave, Martin, and Andrew (Toast Hawaii). At the same time, rumors were flying about that Depeche Mode had broken up, etc., etc., etc.

    Now if you go to depeche mode dot com today, the links to the solo sites are much smaller. Although there's no new news on the site about any forthcoming album, the subliminal suggestion is that the band is proceeding ahead together.

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    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Found a Flash and the Pan site at Tripod. Not a lot there, but it does have the lyrics to "Walking in the Rain."

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    Catching Up
    Obviously I have some gaps in my knowledge of Billy Idol's career, but I filled them in by reviewing "A Brief History" at www.billyidol.com. A few semi-random excerpts:

    ...Mr Broad decided when Billy was just 2 that they should all set off to follow ‘the American Dream’ & they relocated to Long Island in New York; it was here that sister Jane arrived two years later. The Broads returned to the UK after about four years, Billy bringing back many happy memories, in particular of the cars & the music....

    ...Worthing High School provided Billy’s education & it was here that one of the teachers unwittingly became responsible for Billy’s eventual stage name. Not realising that Billy was actually bored at school, he described him as ‘idle’ in his school report. It was a comment which would stay in Billy’s mind for a long time....

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    William Broad Raked the Lawn
    Bought Whiplash Smile last night. This is one of those albums that I once owned on cassette tape, and am finally getting around to purchasing on CD. (I tossed my cassettes several years ago.)

    Billy Idol is a fascinating character. Let's start with an excerpt from Stephen Davis' Led Zeppelin biography Hammer of the Gods:

    In November [1978] the whole band moved to London to rehearse an album that would be recorded the following month in a Stockholm Studio owned by the group Abba....The rehearsals were sensational, and the musicians realized they still could do it. Led Zeppelin had been scornfully ridiculed as musical Goliaths and anal-retentive tax exiles by the punks and new wavers. Now they could fight back with what they realized was their best, most sophisticated music. In the next rehearsal hall, the punk band Generation X was preparing for a tour. As Led Zeppelin were leaving one night, Generation X's spike-haired young singer hurled taunts of obsolescence at them. Bonzo asked who the kid was, and was told his name was Billy Idol.

    (Off-topic: gotta get In Through The Out Door also....)

    Fast forward a few years to 1986, when Whiplash Smile was released. Idol is collaborating with Steve Stevens on a collection of...no, not punk. Try disco metal. Let's look at Side 5:

    Worlds Forgotten Boy
    Billy and Steve start the album with their version of a metal extravaganza. Compared to some of the other stuff out at the time (such as the completely banal "Talk Dirty to Me"), this is pretty good. We then go to...

    To Be a Lover
    ...Billy growling with a piano player and some soul backup singers. This song, incidentally, includes my favorite Idol line: "Didn't I say all those loving special things?" Gonna try that on the Empress some day...I don't think she cares for my Butt-Head "Hey baby" line any more. (Not that she ever did. But I digress.)

    Soul Standing By
    Ooh baby, this short-haired biker ex-punk is definitely going the metalhead route here. Can't imagine the album changing in any way...

    Sweet Sixteen
    Uh...yeah. Frankly, this is the reason I bought the cassette in the first place. If you don't mind Billy's growls, this is an absolutely beautiful, soulful, introspective song.

    Man for All Seasons
    Rev it back up again.

    OK, ready for Side 6?

    Don't Need a Gun
    Back when records had two sides, there was usually a difference between side 1 and side 2, and side 6 of Whiplash Smile is no exception. Here Billy starts to (in the words of CBS heroine Janet Jackson) "take it slow." Yes, there are guitar solos, but the lyrics are getting softer as we go along.....Wait a minute! Are those synthesizers?

    Beyond Belief
    Fatal Charm
    Relatively quiet lyrics, interspersed with guitar solos dubbed over the synths. Re-read the credits and see that Steve Stevens is responsible for the "programming." This ain't no Sex Pistols.

    All Summer Single
    Any concept of live playing completely disappears on this, the second best song of the album. Well, not exactly ANY concept - there's some beautiful steel-guitarish stuff here and there, as Billy sings about "a good time" over the synth beat. New York's alright if you like introspection and repetition. (Catch the reference?)

    One Night, One Chance
    Billy is more of a modern bluesman than Jim Morrison ever was. Jim wanted to be a drunken bluesman, but he was saddled with a bunch of peach and love TM freaks. Billy had no such restrictions. It sounds almost sweet stuff-ish, these
    lyrics talking about waking up. And "Soul Standing By" was on this same album?

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    Friday, February 13, 2004

    Update on Tequila Hoppers
    After putting Fred Astaire to shame, I drove by Tequila Hoppers. There was a line. A long line. Don't think Friday night will be the night to play NTN trivia.

    Incidentally, while mentioning Fred Astaire, I'm reminded of the famous comment by a Paramount executive at Astaire's first screen test: "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."

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    No, I'm Not Talking About Gilbert O'Sullivan
    For some unknown reason (ha), a particular song by Leo Sayer has come to mind. No, not the one that starts with the words "You got a cute way of talking...." No, I'm talking about "Long Tall Glasses". Let's pick up in the middle of the first verse:

    yeah there was ham an' there was turkey, there was caviar
    an' long tall glasses, with wine up to yar
    an' then somebody grabbed me, threw me outta my chair
    said before you can eat, you gotta dance like Fred Astaire

    So Leo launches into the first chorus:

    you know I can't dance, you know I can't dance
    you know I can't dance, you know I can't dance
    I can't dance

    Yes, this has come to mind. I am making my triumphant return to the stage after a 33 year absence. For those of you counting on your fingers, toes, your spouse's fingers, etc., that's since 1971. (Yes, I know that I've publicly claimed that I was on the stage of Radio City Music Hall a few years ago, but now I am forced to confess that it was part of a facility tour - I wasn't performing in any way. Now you know.)

    Anyway, in my triumphant return to the stage, I am singing (no solos - I'm out of shape there), a few lines ("It was a MULE!"), and some dancing. Well, sort of on the dancing. Tonight was the second time we went through the dance moves, and I think it's fair to say that my moves were...um...not quite perfect yet.

    But I have a month...

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    Don't Read What It Says
    I've seen billboards for ready.gov, so I finally checked it out.

    Under "Make a Kit," it lists the following links:

  • Water & Food

  • Clean Air

  • First Aid Kit

  • Supply Checklists

  • Special Needs Items

  • So, are we supposed to make a kit of clean air? Buy an oxygen tank?

    It gets better. Although the site basically admits that you can't protect yourself against all airborne WMDs (while noting that "something over your nose and mouth in an emergency is better than nothing"), the suggestions are bound to incite ridicule.

    Other Barriers

  • Heavyweight plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting

  • Duct tape

  • Scissors

  • I can't wait for the filmed instructions. (more) (still more) (even more)

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    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    More Links
    Added more links (look to the left). Enjoy.

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    Addictions Available in Upland in Two Days
    My name is OEMPER, and I'm an NTNaholic.

    Although I've played in Minnesota and South Carolina, I usually get my fix at Double Decker's Pub and Diner in Ottawa, Canada.

    That may change. The long-awaited opening of Tequila Hoppers will occur in two days. And yes, they are still scheduled to get NTN.

    This may be trouble...

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    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    This Blog is on Technorati
    And this blog is listed on Technorati also.

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    This Blog is on Blogshares
    There is a website called BlogShares which is "a fantasy stock market for weblogs...blogs are valued by inbound links." And the Ontario Empoblog is listed. In fact, several blogs that I frequent are listed:

  • Ontario Empoblog is valued at B$1,366.67 with a share price of B$0.33.

  • KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts is valued at B$1,000.00 with a share price of B$0.20.

  • eclecticism is valued at B$17,867.10, with a share price of B$408.79.

  • T.M.I. About April is valued at B$1,478.73, with a share price of B$45.30.

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    Pointless Gorilla Marketing
    Haven't done this in a while!

    From the Yahoo! group Silliness and Nonsense:

    How to engage in SLOGANEERING

    We got the eats that can't be beat!
    One day longer, one day wronger!
    We gonna need to get some greed!

    From the Silliness & Nonsense section in Eddyland (proboards):

    How to engage in SLOGANEERING

    Poppycock! U2 rocks!
    Janet Jackson, get some action!
    Justin Timberlake, make your Shake N Bake!

    And, in a totally different Yahoo! group:

    I should have posted this in GROCERYSTRIKE

    I should have posted this in

    "Sloganeering" has begun.

    Current contents:
    "Template Cannon"
    "Mills Around"

    All this for a couple of old MIDIs. Well, it's 2004...

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    Howard Dean is Still Leading in California!
    Just checked CNN again. Dean still has 15 California delegates - more than anyone else - and he has 182 delegates - more than anyone except Kerry.

    Current totals:

  • Kerry: 510 (gain from 482)

  • Dean: 182 (gain from 181)

  • Edwards: 163 (gain from 117)

  • Clark: 98 (gain from 84)

  • Sharpton: 12

  • Kucinich: 2

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    Late 2
    I live on the West Coast. I watch special events on TV. This is the origin of one of my major pet peeves. You know how many great television events are live "except on the West Coast"? Well, we hardly get anything live. For example, take the Grammys - big event, especially when you consider how much of the music industry is out here. The Grammys took place just down the street from Ontario. But we couldn't see them until three hours after they started. (Not that we wanted to, but that's another story.)

    About the only major events that are televised live out here are sporting events. Make that most sporting events. When the Los Angeles Lakers play on the East Coast, we get the game on tape delay. For example, if you tuned in to KLAC AM 570 at about 5:30pm, you would have heard Lakers pre-game show stuff. Go up the dial to KFWB AM 980, and you would have heard the halftime score.

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    Late 1
    So I'm being a good boy and I'm avoiding those greasy slammers that Carl's Jr sells (though I have been known to call their fried zucchini "health food." I avoided them so long that I forgot what they were called.

    So today I'm being a bad boy, and I drive up to Carl's Jr and try to find the things on the menu board, and I can't. So I ask them if they still have the sliders.

    They are puzzled.

    I clarified that I wanted the little burgers.

    They responded that they no longer sell slammers.

    I was late.

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    Howard Dean is Leading in California!
    Michael Hanscom has stated that Howard Dean is in second place in the Democratic primaries:

    As long as Dean is in one of the top three spots (and he's currently in second, though few media reports are likely to point that out), I think he should stick it out

    At first glance, this flies in the face of the conventional wisdom. Everybody knows that Dean is losing. Everybody knows that Kerry is winning most everything, with Edwards and General Wesley "General" Clark winning here and there, and Dean isn't winning anything.

    Only one problem - the news isn't focusing on the real race for the nomination. They're focusing on vote counts, not delegates, with the unspoken implication that whoever gets the most votes gets all the delegates in a particular primary or caucus.

    When you look at the delegate count, the story is somewhat different. As of today, here are the delegate counts for the various candidates:

  • Kerry: 482

  • Dean: 181

  • Edwards: 117

  • Clark: 84

  • Sharpton: 12

  • Kucinich: 2

  • Things get more interesting when you look at things on a primary by primary basis. Did you know that Howard Dean is currently leading the delegate count in California? Yes, I know the primary won't happen until March, but some of the delegates are already pledged:

  • Kerry: 4

  • Dean: 15

  • Edwards: 1

  • Clark: 1

  • Sharpton: 0

  • Kucinich: 1

  • Note that 50% of Kucinich's delegates come from California. The other 50% come from Ohio, which won't have its primary until March either.

    So, in the only count that really matters, Dean is leading California. Unfortunately for Dean, perception is reality.

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    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    False Prayers
    A statement that I made on Saturday on the Yahoo! SWY stock board requires some explanation.

    First, here's what I said:

    The union knew they wouldn't be able to get within 1/2 mile of Burd's home. It was simply a publicity stunt, and a Satanic one at that.

    This was in response to a recent action by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, who staged a pray-in near the home of Steve Burd, Chairman and CEO of Safeway. From CLUE's account:

    Scores of religious leaders and supermarket workers, some with children in tow, had traveled hundreds of miles from Southern California to personally deliver a message to Safeway Inc. Chief Executive Steven Burd....they were met by security guards and local police, and a nattily dressed man who identified himself as Guy Worth, Burd's personal representative. "Our message to you is to please come back to the bargaining table and don't leave until there is an agreement," said the Rev. Sandy Richards of the Church in Ocean Park in Santa Monica. Worth promised to deliver the messages, then joined hands in prayers. He had nothing else to say. For some of the about 200 workers who took part in the clergy-led campaign billed as the "Grocery Workers Justice Pilgrimage," the turndown in Alamo was yet another indignity in the 3 1/2- month-old labor dispute between the United Food and Commercial Workers union and Safeway's Vons and Pavilions, Albertsons and Ralphs supermarket chains...."I want him to see our faces," said Hernandez, noting she was struggling to put food on the table. "I want him to know that we exist."...The campaign was organized by CLUE, or Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, a group made up of about 400 religious leaders in Los Angeles County. Thetrip began early Tuesday with a rally and prayer session at a Pavilions in Sherman Oaks, where Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders offered a succession of blessings, songs and good wishes, along with some choice words for Burd, who is said to be an active member of a church in Walnut Creek. "We are praying for this man, Burd, who has been so recalcitrant, so cold to his workers. He needs to know about the lives he is affecting," said the Rev. Jim Conn, urban strategist for the United Methodist Church of Southern California.

    So, we had a wonderful example of a very public prayer by people convinced that they were better than someone else. We've seen this before:

    9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[1] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

    This tactic is not only employed by the Christian left (or, in this case, the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim left). The same tactic is employed by the Christian right (or the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim right). But regardless of who exercises it, public self-congratulatory prayer is no prayer at all, but mere grandstanding.

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    Tons 'O' Links!
    Faq-O-Matic allows a webmaster to host a FAQ, and allows visitors to append responses. See the FAQ on this page for an example.

    MyWorld66 includes a neat tool to chart the countries and/or states you have visited. For example:

    create your own visited country map
    or write about it on the open travel guide

    Here's the time (in the Pacific time zone, anyway).

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    Sunday, February 01, 2004

    Super Bowl
    Another Super Bowl come and gone...

    The game was a very good one, even in the first half. Many people are probably poo-pooing the first half because of the lack of scoring, but to me that made it even better. A good defense just makes the few offensive scores that much better. (So then, why aren't I a rabid soccer fan?)

    I was disappointed in the commercials, but probably because I have such high expectations. Every year I expect "1984." I never get it. Many of the commercials weren't even that entertaining, although the Budweiser donkey commercial was a good one. Willie Nelson doing a commercial for H&R Block sounded like it had promise, but I'd rather see Willie in a booth giving tax advice than see the Willie doll.

    I guess that just leaves the entertainment. All praise to Steven Tyler for still being able to hit the high note on "Dream On" (that sounded like a live performance to me, but I could have been fooled). Everyone else lip synced pretty well, and Jessica Simpson was not asked to comment on Chicken of the Sea.

    Then there was the ending to the halftime show. CNN reported the incident; here are some excerpts:

    The network quickly cut away from the shot, and did not mention the incident on the air.

    Actually, they did. Either Gumbel or Simms made a comment about expecting a "raw, naked" third quarter.

    Joe Browne of the NFL was quoted as saying:

    "It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime."

    Of course, this means that the NFL will turn to Don King. Or perhaps the Children's Television Workshop. Or Arnold Shapiro.

    As to why this happened, I will go with the following possible explanations until reality corrects me:

  • Justin was firing another salvo in the Britney-Justin war, trying to upstage Britney's kiss on Madonna and her weekend wedding.

  • Janet was trying to get Michael to become interested in adult women.

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