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Showing posts from January, 2008

What's under the hood

This is mostly for my own benefit, so I can refer to what gear I've got if I'm in the mood to upgrade .... or if there's some kind of catatstrophic crash.

Little Eddie, the Home Theatre PC is:
AMD Athlon XP 1500+ at 1.3 GHz512 MB RAM (256 MB x2)MSI MS-6712 board (aka MSI KT4V)BIOS is American Megatrends Inc. 07.00T 04/02/01704.03 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity (Maxtor 6B200P0)SONY DVD-ROM DDU1621Sapphire/ATI RADEON 9000 videoHauppauge WinTV 250 and 150MCE tuner/capture cardsSound Blaster Live! 24-bitSnapStream FireFlyLogitech wireless mouse/keyboardLinksys Wireless-G PCI AdapterInside an Antec Overture II caseHooked up to living room television and home theatre sound
The Stallion (studio/gaming/general purpose PC) is:
AMD Sempron 3000+ at 2 GHz2 GB RAM (1 GB new Kingston Value, 2 x 512 MB Kingston)ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe board (v2.xx), BIOS Rev 1013 407.87 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive CapacitySiI RAID 0 Set + WDC WD800JB-00CRA1 (80.02 GB)NEC DVD_RW ND-3500AGCD-RW LG GCE-848…

Big Ass Music now online

I've signed up to a new service that's in beta testing right now. It's designed to be a MySpace/YouTube kind of site for Canadian musicians, focusing for now on Atlantic Canadian musicians.

I've put some songs up for listening. For the first time, you can now hear some remastered tracks in hi-fi from my first album Serotonin, and a couple of tracks prepared for the (eventually) forthcoming album Mind The Gap.

You can also sign up to be "a fan". I don't know what that gets you. Odds are I won't be mailing out candy and newsletters.

Check it out: the web site is www.onlinemusicnetwork.ca, and my profile page is at http://www.onlinemusicnetwork.ca/Big__Superstar/.

Rock on!

Cygnals: Ween: All about the high sh*t

From the pages of Cygnals Zine, Issue #9, Spring 1997



---

"It's all about the high sh*t." The first words out of Gene Ween's mouth upon answering the telephone.

I can only assume he was talking to sidekick Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo), sharing a downtown Detroit hotel room after spending the night on the tour bus. Gene, known as Aaron Freeman to the police and anyone who needs his real name, is groggy, but fresh from a good healthy shit.

Based on previous interviews with Gener I'd read in other zines, I figured I might be in for a tough time. But little did I know that Gene Ween would be a more challenging interview than any politician or scientist I've ever talked to.

I introduce myself. "Did you just talk to this guy?" asks Gene to Dean. "Yeah, you were in the toilet," he answers. Woo-woo. Gene/Aaron puts down the phone, grabs a cigarette and comes back for the interview.

Warner was kind enough to send me a copy of Ween's current re…

Cygnals: David Bronstein

From the pages of Cygnals Zine, Issue #9, Spring 1997.

"Get off the couch, get out of bed, go to the phone and call the number on the screen!"



If you've had the good fortune to be channel-surfing late at night, among the exercise equipment, food processors and motivation courses, you've no doubt found Dial-A-Date.

Surrounded by bikini-clad dancing girls, the self-proclaimed 'Prince of Love' David Bronstein compels viewers to "call the number on the screen" to "talk live to real single and women and men."

I tracked down Bronstein at the North York
headquarters of the Dial-A-Date empire, B&W
Entertainment.

"I'm an actor, that's all I am," he says.

Bronstein has appeared in a few movies, on CBC's Toronto After Hours, on YTV and USA Cable Network's Dog House, and on the syndicated film trailer show Hollywood Camera. (He was later replaced by granite-jawed pretty-boy Dan Duran. "The station, whoever was car…

Rush: Subdivisions: Mark Dailey: The Truth

** Update December 5, 2010: On the passsing of Mark Dailey, I've written an update for this article with the latest thought on the subject. I hope it may put the issue to rest.

More than ten years ago, I posted an item at cygnals.com correcting a "fact" in the Rush Frequently Asked Questions list:

- Neil says "Subdivisions" in the song of the same name, even though Alex is shown saying it in the video and does it live.
That's wrong. I've found who really says it.
If you live near Toronto, you know who he is. He's Mark Dailey, evening newscaster and "The Voice" of Toronto television station City-TV and also MuchMusic.
I'm thrilled to have first brought this fact to the Internet so many years ago ... and credit and thanks to Mike Wilner for the tip that sent me off on the research mission in the first place.



I spoke briefly with Mark about it back then, and posted a clip of him saying "Subdivisions". He confirmed it outright. Som…

My first newscast

Back in 1982, my teacher, Bill Webster, invited the class to write a little newscast about the school to be aired in a weekly Sunday-night segment on Newmarket radio station CKAN 1480 AM.

IIRC, the whole class was assigned the job of summarizing a series of news items about the school into a short bulletin, and mine was chosen for the show.

Either that, or he picked me out of the class to do it. I'm not sure.

In any case, I present to you my first radio newscast!
I was at Pearson International Airport doing a story for 680News one morning, when I saw Mr. Webster walking through the terminal. I thanked him for giving me that break so many years ago. I don't know whether it had any effect on my future career, but I'm pretty sure I've never been as nervous filing a report over the telephone as I was that lunch hour in the principal's office.

Cuba now, New York later?

We're booked!

We've set up a vacation to Cuba for March. One week in the sun, sand, and endless bacon of the all-you-can eat buffet. Ah, the life of an otter -- laying back in the water with food on my tummy.
I still hope to get to New York City later in the year for another vacation, but Amanda's concerned finances may not allow such a trip.

Fortunately, the amazingly talented folks at Infinite Solutions have served up a guide to enjoying NYC on $100.



I strongly recommend checking out the rest of the Infinite Solutions videos. You'll be surprised how much you learn.

Followup to Donair Salad request

I sent out an email about my Donair Salad article. I asked for feedback from King Of Donair, Bash Toulany's, and Venus Pizza, as well as from two webmasters who feature extensive sites about Halifax donairs.

Chris at TheGreatness.com (a fantastic Donair resource, btw!) responds:

Dunno. I would think, given the Mediterranean emphasis on salads and the North American "chicken caesar salad" phenomenon, that such a salad would make some
sense. It's a natural evolution from the "doner kebab" and green salad combo that is common in Turkey and, by extension, in European towns with large Turkish populations. But Canadian donair has a well deserved reputation of being the food you eat when you don't care about healthy eating. How do you mix that with the healthy clientele that usually wants a salad? Maybe it would work, but it's one more item on the menu to keep track of.
So far, none of the other leading donair innovators or commentators have replied to my r…

A genius tribute or spoof?

If you have an hour or so -- and I'm not saying I do -- and you appreciate visionary genius and absolute skill at editing -- and I do, kinda -- and you think Garfield cartoons are kinda lame -- you got me there -- then please, please, take some time and view the series of videos by Lasagna Cat. You may not laugh out loud at the first one you see, but digest a bunch of them and I hope you'll agree... this stuff is ... like ... good and stuff.


Sorry, bud, wrong Scott Simpson -- part 3

Looks like my Audi A4 has been serviced.

Of course, as documented here recently, I don't have an Audi A4.

Yet, I got another email today from New Country Audi thanking me for having my car serviced, and inviting me to fill out a customer satisfaction survey.

They didn't acknowledge the last email I sent alerting them to the fact that they're emailing the wrong Scott Simpson about the car.

Perhaps there's a field in the customer satisfaction survey about that.

I'll be sending them another email about this today.

---
Follow-up:

The reply to my inquiry was: "I apologize, all you have to do is unsubscribe on the email" (sic)

So, I asked, "Any explanation of why I’d be getting email intended for one of your customers?"

The answer: "To be honest with you, I have no idea, its a third party that does the email address collection, for some reason your email address is attached to scott B simpson. Again, I apologize for this inconvenience"

Someone must make this: Donair Salad

Jason was heading off to Burger King to get a salad today.
Why? Because he had a coupon.
Still, a salad? At Burger King? Home of the Whopper?
It suddenly dawned on me ...
Someone in this town needs to introduce a DONAIR SALAD.
DONAIR SALAD, yo!
Can't you just see it? Or smell it with your mind's nose?
A salad ... a salad with, y'know, lettuce ... but with the usual donair toppings of onions and tomatoes ...
... topped with donair meat ...
... dressed with ... I dunno ... DONAIR SAUCE?
It seems obvious! We have donair subs, donair burgers, donair pizza, perhaps even donair fries. But a google search only turns up a couple of instances of Donair Salad, and I don't think they're even in the Donair Capital, Halifax.
Someone. Please. Make. Me. A. Donair. Salad.
Low in carbs. Crunchy. Meaty. Add it to your menu, and I'll write you up a recommendation here at www.bigasssuperstar.com. And it'll be an especially good recommendation if you give it to me free.

Cygnals: Crazy Joe: You'll be sorry!

From the pages of Cygnals Zine, Issue #8, Summer 1996.



For sixteen years, a bearded man in a black suit has been hard-selling his way into Toronto-area living rooms.

Crazy Joe (the only name he'll give) hit Toronto's Multicultural Television (now CFMT-TV, channel 47) with fast-talking, low-budget TV spots based on a simple formula: "A crazy guy dressed up like a rabbi, with a hat, with a beard, selling blinds, verticals, furniture and carpet," says Joe. Yelling breathlessly for 30 seconds, Joe ambushes the viewer and implores him to "shop at Crazy Joe's or you pay too much ... you'll be sor-ry!"

Why's this nut dressed up like a rabbi? "I'm an Orthodox Jew, that's the difference," he says. "I wear this suit with the hat all the time."

The no-frills, crazy-crazy-crazy, dressed-like-a-rabbi gimmick has inspired spoofs from the likes of SCTV, with a parody piece dubbed "Crazy Hy's." Joe saw it two years afte…

Cygnals: Russell Oliver: Jewellery Fetishist or True Patriot?

(The thought of discontinuing my old site, http://www.cygnals.com/, has crossed my mind from time to time. A few articles from over there still get a lot of hits, so thought it prudent to republish them here. Besides, those articles -- many published more than a decade ago -- had tiny photos and scratchy RealAudio files, as was the style of the time. Now I can offer bigger photos when I have them, and MP3 audio if I can find the source tape. -- Scott)
---

From the pages of Cygnals Zine, Issue #8, Summer 1996.



If you've been up late watching TV in Toronto, you've probably noticed this guy begging for you to bring him your jewelry. He's Rusell Oliver. He spoke to Cygnals from his stately jewelry emporium on Eglinton Avenue West.

Cyg: For anyone outside Toronto who hasn't seen your ads, explain what you do on TV.
Oli: I basically go on myself, and I encourage people to come down and bring me any jewelry they have in the form of gold -- gold chains, gold bracelets, gold nec…

Sorry, bud, wrong Scott Simpson -- the sequel!

Last June, I wrote here about an email I received from a US car dealership about my new Lexus:

Ray Catena Lexus in Larchmont, New York wrote to welcome me to the eVIP program for service on my Lexus Rx350. They even had the VIN# for my Lexus.
Problem is ... I don't have a Lexus.
Today, another email from another dealership addressed to me ... well, to Scott "B" Simpson:

Welcome to the New Country Audi OnStation Program! We are pleased to offer you complimentary membership to our online email program designed to help you maintain and extend the life of your vehicle.

I've sent a reply to New Country Audi, 181 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, CT, asking how this could happen. Haven't heard back yet.

Pennies from heaven or money-grubbing desperation?

Krystal at the "Give Me Back My Five Bucks" personal finance blog is wondering about people who pick change off the ground:


Some people have set standards - they won't pick up change unless it's more than a quarter. Or a dollar. Others just won't pick up money at all. I, on the other hand, clearly have no standards. I pick up money off the ground all the freaking time. Even pennies.

Me? Heck yeah. If it's a penny, I'll justify it by saying it's a luck thing. If it's anything more, it's a money thing.

It's also a karma thing from that time a few months ago when I left $60 sitting in the bank machine 'cuz I was in such a rush to grab my receipt .. and someone walked away with my money.

I was talking about lobby cameras today with a guy who works in the building, and he says his friend used to glue coins to the lobby floor and sit upstairs watching people try to pry the coins off the floor. Sounds like a blast -- and a YouTube project, a…

Name my robot

Still no flying cars, but the Jetsons world is starting to come through at BigAss HQ with the arrival of the Roomba robotic vaccum cleaner.

I got a Roomba Scheduler for Christmas from mom and dad and have had a few opportunities to put it through its paces.

It's cleaned the living room and dining room a few times, and does a decent job. It chokes on cords if they're in the way, and wedges itself helplessly under the coffee table from time to time, but that's half the fun.

It's not a hands-off toy. It demands cleaning after use. Emptying the dustbin is just part of the maintenance. It takes a bit more work to take the roller and brush out and give them a thorough cleaning. But that's, again, part of the fun. It's satisfying dirty work, like popping a boil, or cleaning the wax out of your ears, or a good puke after drinking too much.

Yesterday I cleared the clutter from the master bedroom and sent it on a mission to clean where the regular vacuum won't go -- unde…

Goals for 2008

A few things on the to-do list for the year ahead: Tackle weight loss, again
Complete two albums -- first, finish "Mind The Gap", then work on some originals
Play at least two open-mic gigs in Halifax
Advance two more belt levels in taekwondo
Keep my RRSP maxed out
Increase my net worth. It's not bad now, but will be even better
Finally finish quitting smoking and eating cinnamon buns
Get a tattoo commemorating the disposal of all my vices
Develop my leadership skillsBecome a more accomplished cook -- and cook at home moreBe more assertive about inviting friends to do thingsBe less codependent -- own my own stuff and get more comfortable letting others take care of theirsOn the small-to-do list that's been sitting for ages: digitize all my media (tapes, videotapes, slides, prints, super-8 film), renovate my web sites, get new glasses, steam clean the carpet, take the cat to the vet, etc.