All Saints' Day

What a day it was yesterday! All the racing around, getting prepared...then it was cold during trick-or-treating. I had six jack-o-lanterns lit...three I carved myself. In the end, everything went off all right.

After Hallowe'en, we need a change of scenery. Who better to suggest that, than the man on the right?

Salvador Dali (1904-89) was a Spanish painter, and you can sure tell. The stark scenes he creates - the feeling of inhabilitability and desertion - must characterize the feelings of the Spanish people in the first half of the 20th century. Goya (1746-1828) made similar suggestions in his later work.

I've never been to Spain, but my father was there in the summer. He says that the food is fantastic and the people are happy. Hopefully Spain's dark times are in the past - for a while, if not forever. They sure did foster some great art.

Salvador, you're our face of the day. Lookin' good -and wild.

Wikipedia was used as a source for this article.

See you tomorrow.

Salvador Dali Home

Nov 2/11

"And the name of your fella, here?"

"Vincent Vega."

So began the famous twist scene in Pulp Fiction. Vinny (Travolta, of course) had to dance because Mrs. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) wanted to win. The charming hitman's assignment was to "entertain" the Big Boss's wife. He did entertain her - and us. His confidence and charm are qualities I've never managed, but can aspire to.

Vinny, we can all learn something from you, our face of the day.

See you tomorrow.

Vincent Vega Home

Nov 3/11

"She bop you bop the we bop... I don't even understand...."

You didn't...I didn't...have to understand. It was fun, it was 1983, 84, was Cyndi Lauper. She was ethnically New York (Queens), she had wrestlers in her videos, and no two songs were the same. She's So Unusual - the title of her first album - said it all. She was totally different - and great. She was kind of like a female Billy Idol.

I remember hearing her songs on the radio (if we were lucky) on the long bus ride to school. Time After Time was the one that usually came on.

Like many creative artists, her music resonated with the masses for two albums, but soon she had moved on to her own causes which weren't necessarily shared by everyone. Creative people tend to change more quickly than the tastes of their fans.

Cyndi, I remember you from when I was a kid. You are a true artist: you express your own reality, or else what you think reality should be. Here you are, our face of the day.

See you tomorrow.

Cyndi Lauper Home

Nov 4/11

"Wanted...(wanted)...Dead or Alive"

So chorused one of rock's greatest anthems. A 24-year-old Bon Jovi, with rock solid support from his band, arrested any teenager (I was one) who happened to be listening. I remember people waiting by the radio for it to come on (obviously this was in '86, before we all used the internet).

Bon Jovi came from New Jersey. The band's style isn't really hard rock, although they can look the part. They had some really good hits. Although it's not stirring like Dead or Alive, I think Bad Medicine might have been their best. The lyrics were clever, and plentiful.

Whether they liked Bon Jovi or not, I've never seen anyone change the channel while Dead or Alive was playing.

Jon, you're our face of the day. Lookin' good!

Wikipedia was used as a source for this article.

See you tomorrow.

Jon Bon Jovi Home

Nov 5/11

You know, I like Sinéad O'Connor. I realize she was very angry when she was young (and she might still be), but she had reasons to be. I like passionate beliefs; I've always been that way myself. I realize that we are going away from that level of emotional commitment today. Nowadays, most times when you ask a young person a question, you get a blank look with a "Huh?" Of course, that's politically correct because being absolutely clueless - well, at least it's not offending anyone. (It does offend me, by the way.) Furthermore, it takes energy to care about a principle or get angry about a wrong that's being committed. Nowadays, energy is budgeted, so few young people are going to bother getting angry unless they're affected personally. Lord help us....

Sinéad O'Connor didn't care what was in it for her. She had ideas to spare, energy to spare, and guts to spare. She railed about injustices she knew probably wouldn't change soon - and probably not because of anything she did. She practically demanded to be punished for her views. Sinéad was smart, scrappy and beautiful - everything that, in my opinion, a young person should be. Being Irish, she had an advantage.

Nothing Compares 2 U, written by Prince, is probably her most famous song, and the one I first noticed (my friend had the album - and by the way, he was Irish). He loved listening to her in the car. My favourite of hers is The Emperor's New Clothes.

Sinéad's anger and views I found very personal. Even when she wasn't the victim, she clearly saw the situation from the victim's point of view - as if it really had happened to her.

That was twenty years ago. (I'm not young any more, and Sinéad's even a few years older than I am.) But Sinéad still has that effect on me - she gives me hope. Not hope that the causes she fights for will succeed (because if they do, it will probably be by evolution rather than revolution). But hope that if she's still paying attention and getting angry, I'm not alone.

Sinéad, we love you. Looking very young (and military, in your turtleneck), and beautiful, you're our face of the day.

Wikipedia was used as a source for this article.

See you tomorrow.

Sinead O'Connor Home

Nov 6/11

I have mentioned earlier that I have a complicated relationship with Corrie. It's a great show that I can rarely bring myself to watch because of the terrible things that keep happening to the characters. The script writers have no mercy.

My favourite characters often happen to be the "bad" people - Tony, for instance.

Here, however, is a character whom I can't decide whether is good or bad. I like him, though. He's David Platt. People who watch Corrie will understand. People who don't - well, let me put it this way: when you are against David, he's your worst nightmare. But later on, he'll stay in your corner when everyone else has deserted you.

David brings something else: he's ethnically English, with that slim build and dark complexion that you don't think of but has always been mentioned in literature, in battle accounts, in Kenilworth (Scott) - everywhere you read, it's described. He's a survivor; you can see it in his face.

David, here's to you, our face of the day. I hope you're safe from the writers for awhile, anyway.

See you tomorrow.

David Platt Home

Nov-06-2011 15:23 pacific

"Can't read minds, can't read minds...."

Lady Gaga first entered my mind in August '08, when I got satellite radio (it came with a new economy van). She was singing "Just Dance". I didn't know any hit songs back then. I got schooled - and one of my biggest teachers was Lady Gaga.

The dark, yet relatable theme of "Just Dance" (The Fame, first single) told me, at first, that Gaga was just a little different. The isolation she conveys therein really does suggest that she, herself, might be alone - even when she's sober. The words themselves, however, weren't really new.

"Poker Face" (The Fame, second single) revealed more about Gaga. The apt comparison of the mating game to poker suggested an intellect that insisted on being noticed. However she dressed or acted (I heard, but never saw any videos or concerts in those days) - well, I knew that was for the show business. Gaga clearly had talent well beyond what many people who danced to her songs could tell.

With "Paparazzi" (The Fame, third single), Gaga showed me that she was entering a metamorphosis. I knew that soon her music would be radically different. Of course, she hinted that she needed to change by her suggestion in "Paparazzi" that if she stayed the same she would be consumed.

"Telephone" and "Bad Romance" - both off The Fame Monster - were each excellent in their own distinct ways. Both were less subtle, I thought, than the hits off The Fame.

With Born This Way, Lady Gaga went where I can't follow. I find the songs are so personal that they're just too specific to resonate with me. She has her own issues, her own agenda... I wish her well. I'm very different from most people, too - just not in the same ways she is.

Of all people, my mother comes to mind here. Once she said, about the Beatles:

The sign of a truly artistic act is that they change. This album won't be the same as the last one as they improve and re-invent themselves, as creative people always do. A few years later, their style is hard to recognize compared to before. But they keep changing, because artists learn as they produce.

(My mother is a brilliant woman - especially in analyzing people from afar.) I've heard Bruce Springsteen propose a similar idea. To paraphrase from memory, his idea went something like this:

A star, when they're thinking and feeling the same way their fans are, becomes a superstar, because their music absolutely resonates with their audience. But people grow in different directions; no matter how hard they try, the star will probably fall out of step with many of their fans.

I think Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga are all examples of the phenomenon both my mother and The Boss explained in their different ways.

Lady Gaga, I've never been to one of your concerts. But I am, in my own way, your biggest fan. You're our face of the day.

Wikipedia was used as a source for this article.

Note: We have a feed now. Check for the orange icon in your browser.

Lady Gaga Home

Nov 8/11

I've added a feed. See the (usually orange) feed icon in your browser. Now you can view the latest blog entries by clicking there. (See you there!) You can also see new articles continuing down this page, but they appear on the feed first.



Nov-08-11 14:15 Pacific é à ê

Bonne Fête, James!

Tu as sept ans; tu n'es pas un bébé encore. Pour toi, c'est naturel; mais pour moi, c'était difficile à réaliser. C'est la vie: pour les enfants, tous ils connaisent, c'est change; mais pour un adult, c'est possible à rester même pour longtemps.

When I remember your last day at preschool (there was a long look back), then think of you today, sitting in your desk in grade two at your French school, I understand that you've half grown up without my even noticing - even though I've been there every day. I know we have to start pulling up the stakes of the camp we made to raise you and Paul.

That's tough for me, because if children need stability, adults need it even more. Déjà, nous avons renoncé un tas de tes choses des années passées. Même si tu ne les manques pas, je les manques.

Je manque le bébé tu etais dans les années passées. Mais, comme un enfant, c'est ton job à grandir. A day can pass slowly, but the years pass quickly.

Happy birthday, James, from Daddy.

birthday card for james Home
Nov-09-11 10:40 pacific

"Prince of Darkness"?

Starting in the 80s I noticed Robert Novak (1931-2009) on shows like Capital Gang and McLaughlin Group. He always had his own opinion, and never backed down from controversy. He'd already been in the news business for about thirty years.

Novak served in the US Army in Korea (1952-1954). Afterwards, he wrote for Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal. He also started, with Rowland Evans, the politically-focused newspaper column Inside Report, a mix of news and editorial. Rowland stayed with the column until May 1993; Novak continued until July 2008, by which time Inside Report was syndicated in more than 150 newspapers. Apparently, the two men began mainly in the centre but shifted more to the right over time.

Novak was with CNN from its beginning in 1980, with "Evans and Novak". In 1982, he started with The McLaughlin Group, which was a weekly meeting of a panel of five who discussed that week's news, notably the polical developments. McLaughlin Group aired on public television. Capital Gang, another classic discussion show where you found Novak, began in 1988 on CNN. Half the panelists were clearly liberal - the other half (including Novak), clearly conservative. The show ran for 17 years.

I lost sight of Novak in the late '80s, but in 2002, I was on the couch with a new baby son who needed a bottle and to be put to sleep. I turned on CNN, and there was Novak, still smiling, on a show called Crossfire. The show was contrived to be combative, with a guest to start the conversation. The guest wasn't necessarily political; I'm sure I remember Don King being the guest once.

Bob Novak seemed to be a conservative, but in fact his views were more complicated. He was against the invasion of Iraq, claiming no weapons of mass destruction would be found there (which, to my knowledge, turned out to be right). More surprisingly, I'm sure I once heard him endorse the view that "deficits don't matter". That point of view has been voiced by other "conservatives", even though to "conserve" means to "save" (rather than spend).

Furthermore, Novak sympathized with the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel - not, from my point of view, a typical view for a "conservative".

What was truly conservative about Novak's views was his conviction that government should be smaller. He clearly believed in the free market with minimal regulation.

Novak was loved by his friends and (apparent) enemies alike. I loved Novak because he never wasted time getting to the really controversial, long-standing issues that needed (and need) attention.

Prince of Darkness is the title of Novak's autobiography. Oddly, I never would have characterized him that way. Whenever I saw his smile, I knew he was about to illuminate an important issue. To be sure, he was never boring.

Robert Novak, thanks for your smile and all the years of tough reporting. You're our face of the day.

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

Other sources:
LA Times Rober Novak dies at 78

Robert Novak Home

Nov-10-11-12:29 pacific

Not that Innocent?

Some years ago, Britney Spears was a news item almost daily. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that people were critical of her for some reason(s) - whatever they were. At the same time, of course, we assume that Ms. Spears was trying to sell records. Behaving outrageously can definitely gain attention, but attention usually leads to both compliments and criticism, as both sides of the audience weigh in.

"Not that Innocent" is a fantastic song, in my opinion. I've listened to it many times, though I confess I've never seen the video (can you believe I have the CD?) It plays to the theme men love to hear: that a seemingly "innocent" girl may have a darker side. In love, some darkness is attractive - maybe because it's exciting, or perhaps because we all know intuitively that a one-dimensional character (eg., someone who is truly only good) may not be a "survivor." Women, especially, are known to like mean guys: "Nice guys finish last" is the cliché. Men are known to like "bad" girls as well, though: it's a consternation of "nice" girls.

At the same time, in the greater context, innocence is continuously sought, treasured, and protected. It's hard to find. It can be pretended. The people who do the pretending are, of course, "not that innocent".

Besides being pretendable, innocence has another complication: a variable definition. For instance, I think I once read that M.C. Escher, the great producer of fantastic, impossible scenes (that look functional at first), once commented he was "innocent" of physics. He meant, of course, that he had no training in it.

Most people, being less benign than Escher, conceive innocence as being "not guilty". Many such people are careful to toe the line, and watch when others don't.

My version of "guilt" is manipulation. Manipulators are usually careful to contrive that someone else does their dirty work for them, so that the manipulator can claim "innocence" if something goes wrong. Manipulators are like vampires: they don't like the light, and it can take years to discover them. They're secretive, but pry into other people's lives. Once they're outed, it's over for them. Yet they persist: every small town's got some. The manipulators, in my opinion, are "not innocent".

Well, back to Ms. Spears. She certainly didn't avoid the light (she was fantastic in "Piece of Me"). She always seemed to get caught red-handed in her own bad behaviour (whatever it was - I don't remember). Her goals always seemed clear, if confused.

Britney, in my books, you're innocent, despite your claims otherwise. To celebrate, take your place as our face of the day - looking very innocent.

Britney Spears Home

Remembrance Day

Billy Bishop (1894-1956) was a Canadian flying ace in WWI. He received credit for 72 aerial victories and the Victoria Cross. He was from Ontario.

There are so many faces that could have appeared here - so many unknown people and untold stories. Depending on the source, 55 000 to 67 000 Canadians died in WWI alone. About 600 000 served. (This was when the population was around 8.5 million.)

Looking up Billy Bishop, I saw a picture of the Red Baron (Manfred von Richthofen) - Bishop's German rival. The Red Baron was handsome, but he didn't survive WWI; he was shot down in April, 1918.

I'm from a military family, and I've known numerous veterans of WWII - from both sides. To all the veterans I know, and the ones I've never known, I salute you.

Thank you, for my freedom.

Billy Bishop Home

Nov-12-11:08 pacific

Here's Ewan McGregor. I know he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. However, I would never recognize the man in this picture as being Obi-Wan.

My mother once said that, with a great actor, you often can't even recognize who they are in a movie. She mentioned that Dustin Hoffman could be like that: he'd be in the movie, but he was so deeply in character, he didn't even look like himself. I have to agree.

Bringing us back to Mr. McGregor, I guess he's passed my mother's "great actor" test. But there's one thing he can't hide: he looks British. I don't know how you can tell, but when someone's Brit - or Aussie - you can often see it in their picture. French is another one. Who knows why?

Looking very British indeed, welcome, Ewan McGregor! On this rainy, grey Saturday, November 12, you're our face of the day. See you tomorrow.

Ewan McGregor Home

Nov 14 13:20 pacific

Anakin is a favourite of my kids. Damaged and conflicted, he is that interesting type of hero we often love more for their flaws than their strengths.

I'm certainly like that. When I care about someone, I find their faults more endearing than their successes. I don't know why, but I think it's because if someone can survive this flaw or that fault and still be a great person, then they're even twice as good for overcoming the handicap of the flaw(s) they have.

As Darth Vader, Anakin is even more charming than he is as himself. Unlike Anakin, Vader has a sense of humour - perhaps because, as Darth Vader, he finally comes to honest terms with his own flaws.

Anakin, for turning to the Dark Side, then finally coming back, you've earned being our face of the day.

Anakin Skywalker Home

Nov 15/11


A few people have been asking about links and anchor tags. Today I thought I'd do a short talk on them.

Links are not hard to embed in a web page. Anchor tags are what you use. The syntax is

<a href="">This is the text you will click to go there!</a>.

If you want to go to the same web page, but just a different place on it (eg., top), you'll need to insert two items: the link and also the destination. Here's the link:

<a href="#top">Click here for top!<a/>

Next, the destination:

<a name="top">Welcome....</a>

There you go! That's enough to get you started, anyway.

Links are important for setting up a feed.

Now, to today's face: none other than Pamela Anderson. She went to high school about 60 km from here. Looking good, Pam: you're our face of the day.

Pamela Anderson Home

Nov 16/11

Continuing on the web design theme, today I'd like to mention a bit about sources.

When I was getting started, the most important source by far was Compact Guide to Web Page Creation and Design by Linda Ericksen. It's 5" by 8", and only about 75 pages, but it's packed with useful information and so readable! In fact, the funny story is this: my wife was in college at the time taking a computer course, and that book was one of her textbooks. However, the course was not particularly about web design, and my wife is a study-only-what- gets-you-marks type person (when she studies at all), so I'm sure she never even read it.

One day, however, I found it lying around (no doubt, with some of her other unused textbooks). I had no real interest in web design at the time, but it's so small and attractive, I picked it up to look over while I was drinking a coffee. Thence my web design career began - thanks to Linda.

w3 schools is another resource I have used a lot. They cover not only HTML, but pretty much everything else. Their CSS examples have been very helpful, for instance.

Of course, I've had many other sources. Web page design is often about that: just sitting there alone, snooping the web for sources. It's like being a detective....

Speaking of detectives: to our face of the day: the indomitable Clouseau. My kids love his movies. Clouseau, for giving us something truly different - and hilarious - you're our face of the day.

By the way: my wife got an A in that course.