Road of the Dead - A Zombie Killing Game

The undead have taken over the city, and you must escape. No, no, sit down. It's a game. In Road of the Dead, you the driver must run over the zombies, and crush the soldiers that are trying to prevent your escape. Fulfil that double fantasy of yours of driving on the open road and destroying the walking dead. Who doesn't like a road trip? I call shotgun!

You must protect your vehicle and yourself. Avoid the vehicles blocking the road while sparing the lives of the civilians. Your progress gets saved at various checkpoints. You keep driving for as long as your car is intact and you aren't shot up by the soldiers or helicopter.

The customizable controls are not the easiest and in their default setting will cause carpel tunnel syndrome. Just go the options menu and change the settings, so that your steering is on one side of the keyboard and your honking and shooting, and punching is on the other side.
Look at the hideous zombie. Oh wait. That's Steve Buscemi.


Stooopid Internet Service Provider

I have been trying to post for the last three days but my stupid internet service provider has been all screwy and pages will not load properly. I did my own troubleshooting and determined there was nothing wrong with my computer, modem or router. Only then did I call my ISP for help. I basically told them to get their fucking act together.

The tech guru on the other end starts by asking me to verify if the wires are firmly plugged in. I ask him if he is serious. He then asks me to reboot my computer. I told him no. He then asks me to reset my modem, I told him I already did that and does he think I would be calling if that was the problem. He then wants me to bypass the router and plug my PC direct to the modem. I humour him. He resets the modem at his end. He checks other users in my building. He cannot determine the problem.
Then my idiot ISP "technician" on the other end of the phone said he will have to send someone as it is not my computer and it is not at their end.. He will send the technician over in four days. Four freaking days?! I told him forget it. Send him now.

That didn't work.

But, he insisted, it isn't a problem at their end. What else could I do? I tried to tell him how important it was that I access the internet but I just could not make porn sound important enough.
But then I remembered, I was supposed to do some work from home. So I told him it was urgent because I have to do some work from home.
He was more interested in my porn story.

I currently have a cable internet connection. Most of the time it is fast. But at least once every two months the line goes down. I find this unacceptable. The problem is my condo association signed an exclusivity contract with the provider. The company also offers DSL. Or I can say screw you and go wireless.
This is not normal...

So, in the end I gave up. I went out for the afternoon. Upon my return, lo and behold, my internet is running faster than Randy Quaid fleeing the United States (topical humour). So, of course, the problem wasn't at their end (sarcasm). The house-elf Dobby (topical reference) magically fixed the connection and it had nothing to do with the ISP.
The Usual...


Creed Bratton and the 3DVB's - Bounce Back

You love him on the U.S. version of The Office as Creed, but did you know that Creed Bratton was also a singer, songwriter and guitar player? Bratton refers to Bounce Back, as not just the title of his new disc but also to what happened to his life and career. His latest release has a guitar driven folky pop and rock sound, and his vocals are reminiscent of Tom Petty. Bounce Back features 11 well crafted songs and is of far superior production value than his eponymous 2008 release. From his 2010 release Bounce Back here is Rubber Tree. Ed Helms, his co-star on The Office backs him on banjo.

Check him out with the legendary Grass Roots performing Sooner or Later. I think I spun the record five times a week when I worked for the Oldies radio station. And check out another funny moment on the Office.



Age of Music

I realized I have been posting more music videos lately. I have also been searching for more music lately. I think it started a few weeks back, reading the latest alternative weekly press when it dawned on me that I may no longer be in touch with the latest music and the goings on in the independent scene. Now, nobody has ever accused me of being a scenester but I always knew what was hot locally, in the alternative and college arena.
Looking through the paper, I realized that of the 15 new CD releases being reviewed, I could only recognize one of the artists.
There was a time where I knew all the up and coming bands, all the college radio bands, and all the groups playing the local club scene.
My interest in music never changed. Perhaps then, only my focus has changed. Or is it less free time?
When was the last time you spent an hour browsing through the music in a record store? Or rather, CD store.

I can't remember the last time I spent more than ten minutes.
This is not a lament about growing older. Statistically speaking I have most of my life ahead of me. I suppose I am remarking on how much our interests change due to less free time, jobs, responsibilities.
I had the opportunity the weekend before last to browse the local book store. Coffee in hand I looked around and walked around and browsed for two hours. This seems a rarity these days - spending the time doing not much at all. Well, that is, aside from sitting in front of my computer writing.
Maybe it's the caffeine. My coffee habit controls my activities. I need coffee in the morning and mid-afternoon.
I planned on sitting in the coffee shop on the weekend. Drink my coffee and read the paper. Unfortunately after my second coffee I was too wired to sit still so I could not finish reading the paper.


Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons

This terrific song from Mumford and Sons, Little Lion Man, caught my attention the moment I first heard it. It continues to grow on me with each listening. These U.K. boys got their start in 2007 and perform with a blend of country, bluegrass and folk. One of their claims to fame, during live performances, the members switch their instruments, as they are each adept at playing a variety of instruments.

Little Lion Man is a song about regret and unresolved heartbreak.

"Tremble, little lion man 
You’ll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck"

Also check out Mumford and Sons, The Cave


The Language Police

Ever read something and say, I wish I wrote that? David Lisbona of the weekly newspaper The Suburban wrote a brilliant piece this week. I applaud Lisbona for it. Not enough people speak out about these discriminatory bullying tactics. Most sit and take it. The Province of Quebec has in place a set of prejudicial laws that limit the freedom to speak English in the workplace. The same prejudicial laws dictate the size that English lettering may appear on signs. These prejudicial laws prevents certain residents from freedom of choice by preventing some citizens from sending their children to English language schools.

My mother tongue is English and I speak French. It is not only important but useful to learn multiple languages. I love Montreal and have no plans to move. But, to force laws into place to protect a language to the detriment of other citizens is abhorrent.

I am not going to go into the whole history of Quebec, the Quiet Revolution, the language laws or why so many English speaking Canadian citizens picked up and left in the late 1970s. Some even tie the departure of the Expos to the anti-English separatist sentiment in the province.
If you have the time, watch these clips that ran on the CBS program 60 Minutes in 1998. If you don't have time to watch the video, David Lisbona's piece in The Suburban is a must read.


Late Night Television

With the upcoming launch of Conan O'Brien's new show, I started thinking about the hosts of late night TV that have come and gone over the years. Who were the best and who were the worst television hosts? I decided to examine the post Carson era. Johnny Carson the legend, was unbeatable and incomparable. And not having been around B.C. (Before Carson) I cannot examine those who came before.
The biggest names since then? Letterman versus Leno. David Letterman has been my favourite over the years. His wacky comedy style may have mellowed recently, especially in the last few years. Many of the comedians in the fifty plus generation, including Letterman referred to Carson as their idol. Letterman is just as important in his time as Carson was in his. Ratings aside, for his influence call him the king of late night TV.
Carson, Letterman

Two years of controversy and embarrassing headlines has hurt Jay Leno's reputation. At his peak he was giving Letterman a run for his money, but as a performer he pales by comparison. I never liked his style, whether going back to his stand-up days or as a fill in for Carson. He still has a loyal following but the heritage that was the Tonight Show no longer garners automatic ratings success.

The first late night host to actually make a dent into Johnny Carson's numbers, Arsenio Hall, was not without his own controversies. Generally a very good show that appealed to a younger crowd. An appearance on the show may have been the boost that put Bill Clinton into the White House. In the end it was likely Hall's poor judgement that suddenly ended the shows run.

If the aforementioned were battling for title of king of late night, the hosts of the late late shows Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon battle it out for title of prince, or jester. Of them all I would rank Ferguson at the top. Having seen him on the Drew Carey Show, and only catching his stand-up act once, I was surprised by the choice to name him as Craig Kilborn's replacement. Ferguson brings a unique style and is funny as all hell. Turns out it was the perfect selection.

Jimmy Kimmel, made his mark on Win Ben Stein's Money and The Man Show. His success at ABC is likely due to his younger male fan base. Sometimes low-brow, and I have no problem with that, Kimmel has the ability to find humour in just about anything.

I haven't watched Jimmy Fallon as much as the I have the other shows. His show got off to a rocky start in 2009 but he seems to have smoothed out lately. Multi-talented, Fallon can do comedy, skits or music. His often too eager to jump on the latest and hottest items has him sometimes coming off as a douche rather than someone in the know.

In the political ring we have Bill Maher, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Some say Politically Incorrect was pulled off the air for being politically incorrect, others say budget cuts were the cause. His latest, Real Time, tends to have less of the celebrity class on its panel and is more provocative and less controversial then his previous incarnation.
Perhaps the most influential of the hosts is Jon Stewart. Many viewers of the 20-something generation view The Daily Show as their number one source for news. From the Daily Show's website "...unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity or even accuracy."
You may remember in the 90s, Stewart's attempt to follow in his hero's footsteps, The Jon Stewart Show was funny and managed to get some of the best up and coming actors and musicians around. The show had no chance of success up against his idol Letterman or even Leno. It ran about one year. It may have had more success as a late late show.
Stewart, Colbert
From the in between group, the late Tom Snyder. Originally a newscaster, who delivered a wonderful interview in a conversational style. Low key and perfect for a mellow late night viewing. I remember him most for his hearty laugh.
The soon to be retired Larry King created a zone of his own. King had just as many brilliant interviews as he did absurd. Many of his interviews were driven by his curiosity rather than any knowledge of the topic at hand. I was a fan of his earlier radio show which was simulcasted in part on CNN.
Joan Rivers was big in the 80s and then refused to go away. Rivers greatest success came as a stand up comedian and writer for Johnny Carson. Originally she was guest host for Carson, before jumping ship to Fox for her own ill fated late night show on Fox.

And then there are the bad ones. Those hosts that should have never been given a show in the first place. Allan Thicke, Pat Sajak, Spike Feresten, Chevy Chase, Magic Johnson and the worst of the lot Mike Bullard. How Bullard had a number one show in Canada is beyond me, yet somehow he managed to stay on CTV for six years. He was unfunny, and his interviews were often embarrassing. Global TV stole him away and launched the new late night show to much publicity. It was cancelled within several months due to poor ratings.
There are and were other talented hosts out there, Chris Rock, George Lopez, Bob Costas, Greg Kinnear, Carson Daly, even Craig Kilborn. Who else did I miss?
Rock, Fey, Letterman


Atomic Tom Goes Viral

Is 1.2 million hits in three days considered viral? Atomic Tom, who from what I can gather were performing around the New York scene over the last three years, suddenly hit the big time, internet style when the video below was posted to YouTube. The guys perform using four different iPhone applications, modelling the instruments they usually play. Thanks to Andy for the tip.


Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien will launch his new late night show on the 8th of November on TBS in the USA and on CTV in Canada. Earlier this week it was announced that his on-again off-again sidekick Andy Richter will be returning alongside O'Brien when the show premieres.
Richter said the usual, that he's "thrilled" to be working with O'Brien and happy about "getting out of the house again." O'Brien added, "This decision was made without my authority. ... I will get to the bottom of this."


Bobby Versus Satan

Another Kids in the Hall classic featuring the holy trinity of rock. Bobby Versus Satan.


Toilet Plunge

My company went on the offensive recently. In an effort to stem the mess, signs were posted everywhere in the restroom – do your share to keep the bathrooms clean. Immediate effect. No garbage on the floor, toilets are getting flushed. And the guy who keeps crapping on the toilet seat? He only missed by a little today.

Anyone who is a guy, lives with a guy or knows a guy knows, that when you stand to urinate you can miss. How the heck does someone miss when they are sitting? I will spare you the explicit details to what I witnessed. Except to say the guy was sitting. And he missed. And it was not the first time. Believe me when I say, I want to catch the person in the act, without actually catching the person during the act.

On the topic of bathrooms, I know no one likes a cold toilet seat. It is preferable and much more comfortable when the seat is warm. When the natural warmth of the room warms the throne... you sit and ahhh...
You know what I hate more than a cold toilet seat? When the seat is still warm from the last guy. There is always that little bit of lingering something in the air that sort of just hovers above the bowl.

Can a company force an employee to wash their hands? This came up in conversation this last week. This was not discussed in any official capacity but merely as an aside. I thought the hysteria over H1N1 last year would have scared people into using a little soap and water. From my understanding walking out of the bathroom without washing hands is not just a guy thing. I suppose it is possible that you might not always need to use your hands. But come on, after sitting and wiping? Come on. Come on! Wash you hands!


Best Looking Man in the World

Who is the best looking man? On the 10th day of the 10th month on the 10th year at 10:10AM. This Kids in the Hall classic "The Best Looking Man in the World" taken from the Kids early years. Who is the best looking man?

Kids in the Hall


A man walks into a bar and says...

A man walks into a bar and says, "Give me a beer before problems start!"
Again, the man orders a beer again saying, "Give me a beer before problems start!"
The bartender looks confused. This goes on for a while, and after the fifth beer the bartender is totally confused and asks the man "When are you going to pay for these beers?"
The man answers, "Now the problems start!"

I've been away for a while. Not out of town away but away from writing. I had seven stories started and no ability to complete any of them. A few days away does a wonder of good. Not to mention the triple shot cafe latte I had at Starbucks about an hour ago. My brain is fired up. Let's see if I can sit still long enough to compose this post.

I usually drive my car to work but decided to take the metro the other day. By subway it takes me just short of an hour to get to the office. By car, about 40 minutes. I have done the calculations and weighed the benefits of car travel versus public transit.
In terms of cost on a monthly basis I would save money with public transportation. Not a lot, but some. A $70 pass compared to $50 for parking at work and the price of gasoline covering about 35 kilometres a day.
I suppose the greatest benefit would be to the environment. But at a loss of 30 minutes of my time each day, I would have to consider it a little more.

Now the reason I took the metro was because I was heading downtown with my colleagues for a team building event. Parking downtown ain't cheap, and since the team building event was taking place in a bar I figured it best if the car stayed home.
Six pints and some tequila proved me right.

Starting off in the morning I pictured a great story about the violence or crime I witnessed on the metro. Luckily for me, but unlucky for the story, I did not witness a crime. It is Montreal after all, and while not crime free, by North American standards, it remains pretty safe.

The best story I could muster, developed on the trek back. Sitting with three of my colleagues in the metro car, I started making fun of them for getting on the train heading in the wrong direction. As it turned out, I was the one heading in the wrong direction. It's not as bad as it sounds. Or maybe it is. I only went one stop out of my way.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I have been watching repeat episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I am running through the seventh and final season and I have found that some of the strongest episodes came in its final two years. The series finished its run of original episodes in 1999. It ended with one unresolved storyline. Everybody went their merry ways except… 

The main story revolved around a new space station commander and his son. There were hundreds of other characters and plot twists but Benjamin Sisko was the central character. Perhaps as foreshadow of events to come, throughout the series, Sisko’s death, potential or actual was examined more than once. Each time, the bond between son and father could not be severed, emotionally or sub-space physics-ly. Each time the son was not yet capable of, or mature enough to handle Sisko's death.
The series ended with son Jake left to contend with his father’s departure and finally capable of being on his own.

But what happened to the Sisko? We know he went to the Celestial Temple to study with The Prophets but he was supposed to eventually come back. While not a pure cliffhanger, the other story-lines were resolved and we are left with this one big question.

Similar to the series finale of Angel, don’t you want to know what happened to Angel, Illyria and Spike after the battle with the demons?

Due to the failure of the later TNG films it is unlikely we will ever see a conclusion to the DS9 story arc on screen. I am curious as to what a J.J. Abrams re-imagined DS9 would look like.

The show was filled with great characters and some fun stories. Last week I watched the DS9 baseball episode Take Me Out to the Holosuite.
During play on the diamond, Sisko encourages his team – who have never played ball before - to chatter at the opposing batter.
In response to,”Batter, batter, batter…” Worf yells, “Destroy the opposition.”

A later scene has the mystified Ferengi catcher not knowing what to do when the runner misses home plate.
Worf yells, “Find him and kill him!”

Of all the ST series DS9 remains my favourite. TNG was more consistent in terms of plot. It also had the luxury of a young and undeveloped Star Trek universe for the writers to create. The darker edge of DS9 appealed to me more.
Each of the Star Trek series dealt with social issues, DS9 took it a step further and dealt seriously with themes of bigotry, genocide, terrorism, racism, stress of combat and the consequences of war.