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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eighteen Random Rules of Life

Grandmotherly Advice

1. Find the lesson in every failure, and you’ll never fail.
2. The likelihood that you’re right is not increased by the intensity of your conviction.
3. Real friends help you feel worthy and make you want to be better.
4. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
5. Don’t confuse fun with fulfillment or pleasure with happiness.
6. Refusing to let go of a grudge is refusing to use the key that will set you free.
7. Hating hurts you more than the person you hate.
8. Counting on luck is counting on random chance; your odds are much better when you plan and work.
9. It’s better to be kind than clever.
10. Don’t underestimate the power of persistence.
11. The easy way is rarely the best way.
12. It’s much easier to burst someone else’s bubble than to blow up your own.
13. You can’t avoid pain, but you can avoid suffering.
14. Self-pity is a losing strategy; it repels others and weakens you.
15. Shortcuts usually produce short success.
16. Control your attitude or it will control you.
17. It’s more important to be significant than successful.
18. The world is waiting for you to heal it.

*Character Counts

Heath’s death increases apartment’s value

Heath Ledger's Apartment increased in value after the actor's deathThe New York City apartment where Heath Ledger was found dead in bed on January 22nd of an accidental prescription drug overdose is back on the market. Ledger paid $22,000 a month for the three bedroom loft at 421 Broome Street in Soho. It has a private balcony and a wood-burning fireplace. But take notice — rent has gone by $4,000 per month - the building owner is now asking $26,000.

Who knew the death of a celebrity in your building would increase its market value?


Hawaii Wins Little League World Series

BaseballWILLIAMSPORT, PA—The Hawaii team, known for its powerful lineup of short, fat Skill 5 hitters, defeated the Mexico team 12-3 in the championship game of the Little League World Series, a four-round, single-player tournament held from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Sunday. A majority of the games were played in Speed Mode.

Hawaii's offensive outburst was led by such stars as Glen, who had three hits and four RBI on the afternoon, as well as right-handed cleanup hitter Adam, who was 2-for-3 with a double and home run. Leadoff man Thomas chipped in with a home run of his own, which prompted two identical cheerleaders in the crowd to wave their pompoms in front of a giant neon "HOMERUN" sign.

"I say it every year—the short, fat players have the most power," said commentator Orel Hershiser after the game. "When you've got guys like Byron, guys like Steven even though he's just a Skill 2, guys like the 'Big A's'—Aaron, Adam, and Alan—you're going to score a lot of runs. It would take a stellar pitching performance to shut this team down, and unfortunately for Mexico, Ramon did not have his best stuff today."

Hawaii got off to a quick start, scoring six runs in the first and taking full advantage of Mexico's sloppy defense. Third baseman Chico (Skill 1) had a particularly rough day in the field, committing six errors and several mental miscues. In the fourth inning, Chico slid head-first eight times in an attempt to catch a foul pop-up before letting it fall to the ground, and later ran directly past a ground ball in the hole while on his way to inexplicably cover second base. On three occasions, he fielded a routine grounder and accidentally threw it to home plate instead of first base. Chico later claimed that he "didn't know how" to throw to first.


*The Onion

What Love means to a 4-8 year old

Slow down for three minutes to read this. It is so worth it. Touching words from the mouth of babes.

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, 'What does love mean?'

The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined See what you think:

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.'

Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'

Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.'

Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'

Chrissy - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'

Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'

Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss'

Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'

Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,'

Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.'

Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'

Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.'

Cindy - age 8

'My mommy loves me more than anybody, You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'

Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'

Elaine-age 5

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.'

Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.'

Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.'

Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image)

Karen - age 7

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'

Mark - age 6

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'

Jessica - age 8

And the final one...

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,

'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

*Thanks, Pam

What you DIDN'T see at The Olympics...

What you didn't see at the Olympics
Click above to watch!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Trucker

A trucker came into a truck stop cafe and placed his order. He said, "I want three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards."

The brand new blonde waitress, not wanting to appear stupid, went to the kitchen and said to the cook, "This guy out there just ordered three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running Boards. What does he think this place is, an auto parts store?"

"No," the cook said. "Three flat tires mean three pancakes, a pair of headlights is two eggs sunny side up, and running boards are 2 slices of crisp bacon."

"Oh, OK!" said the blonde. She thought about it for a moment and then spooned up a bowl of beans and gave it to the customer.

The trucker asked, "What are the beans for, Blondie?"

I LOVE THIS ONE...........

She replied, "I thought while you were waiting for the flat tires, headlights and running boards, you might as well gas up!"


*Thanks, Daryn

Got nuthin' better to do????

Watch the sun rise and set all over the world on this real-time, computer-generated illustration of the earth's patterns of sunlight and darkness. The clouds are updated every 3 hours with current weather satellite imagery.

Click here to watch the sunrise accross the world in near real time
Click above to watch the sunrise accross the world in near real time...

ain't the internet grand?????

*Thanks, Daryn

Tropic Thunder - A Movie Review

Starring: Jeff Kahn ... Snooty Waiter

Robert Downey Jr. ... Kirk Lazarus

Anthony Ruivivar ... Platoon Sergeant Shot in Head

Jack Black ... Jeff Portnoy

Jay Baruchel ... Kevin Sandusky

Brandon T. Jackson ... Alpa Chino

Ben Stiller ... Tugg Speedman

Eric Winzenried ... Chopper Pilot

Steve Coogan ... Damien Cockburn

Valerie Azlynn ... Damien's Assistant

Matt Levin ... Cameraperson

David Pressman ... First Assistant Director

Amy Stiller ... Script Supervisor

Danny R. McBride ... Cody (as Danny McBride)

Dempsey Silva ... Special Effects Assistant

Synopsis: Warning! Contains spoilers! A commercial depicts rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) promoting his two brands: the "Booty Sweat" energy drink and "Bust-A-Nut" candy bar, while performing his hit song, "I Love Tha' Pussy". The first trailer shows action star Tugg Speedman's (Ben Stiller) latest film, 'Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown', a film so repetitive of it's five predecessors that even the trailer narrator sounds shaky about it. Another trailer features funnyman Jeff "Fatty" Portnoy (Jack Black), playing the entirety of "America's favorite obese family" in the highly flautlent 'The Fatties: Fart 2'. The final trailer, entitled 'Satan's Alley', features Australian "five-time Oscar winner" Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) and Tobey Maguire (as himself) as two monks who begin an empassioned affair.

We are taken, via the narration of John "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Nolte), into a gruesome battle of the Vietnam War. This is actually a scene from 'Tropic Thunder', a big budget adaptation of Tayback's wartime memoir. Starring as the central platoon are Speedman, Lazarus, Chino and Portnoy, as well as young character actor Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). To play his character, Sgt. Osiris, an African American, Lazarus has dyed his skin dark and refuses to break character from Osiris. A take of Osiris crying over Tayback's (played by Speedman) blown-off hands is ruined when Speedman is unable to cry and Lazarus dribbles uncontrollably into Speedman's face. This causes great frustration for the film's director, Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan). The chaos is further exacerbated when the film's pyrotechnics expert, Cody (Danny R. McBride), mistakes Cockburn's conniptions for a go to set off several expensive explosions.

We learn, via Access Hollywood, that Speedman's career has been on a downward spiral. In an attempt at Oscar-bait, Speedman had played the "retard" title character in the flop, 'Simple Jack', apparently considered one of the worst films of all time. Much to the horror of Speedman's agent, Rick "Pecker" Peck (Matthew McConaughey), Speedman doesn't even have TiVO on location. Elsewhere, Cockburn is berated in a meeting, via satellite TV, by studio head, Les Grossman (Tom Cruise). With filming a month behind schedule only five days into shooting, the media has dubbed the production "the most expensive war movie never made". Cockburn tries to explain that the primadonna stars are what's dragging the production down, but Grossman is not sympathetic. Later, the real "Four-Leaf" Tayback, takes Cockburn aside and suggests that he drop the actors in a real jungle and use Cody's explosive to inspire real fear in them. Cockburn enthusiastically agrees.

Speedman, Lazarus, Chino, Portnoy and Sandusky are dropped off with Cockburn in the middle of the jungle who sternly explains that he's going to use hidden cameras ("guerrilla-style") to capture real fear as they survive the real jungle. The actors are only given a map and a scene listing to guide them to the helicopter waiting at the end of the jungle. Just as he walks away, Cockburn is blown to pieces by an old landmine. The actors, with the exception of Lazarus, are convinced that this is some of Cockburn's special effects trickery. Unbeknownst to the actors, they were dropped in the middle of the Golden Triangle, the home of the heroin-producing Flaming Dragon gang. The Dragons believe the actors to be DEA agents and are put off to see Speedman, trying to convince the others that Cockburn's death is a trick, doing a gruesome display with Cockburn's severed head. Believing the Dragons to be actors playing Vietcong, the actors engage them in a gunfight (though the actors only have blank rounds). Tayback and Cody, waiting on a nearby ridge and unaware of the real dangers below, blow a large explosive that causes the Dragons to retreat. After the "fight scene", the actors continue into the jungle to continue the "shoot". Tayback and Cody attempt to locate the now-deceased director. As the two argue and struggle (it is revealed that Tayback still has hands), they are surrounded and captured by the Dragons.

The actors continue their rigorous trek through the jungle. It is revealed that Portnoy is a heroin addict, a drug which he disguises from the others as candy. One night, a bat swoops down and steals Portnoy's heroin. Speedman and Lazarus clash as Speedman insists on holding the map and continuing to do scenes. Lazarus berates Speedman for his acting in 'Simple Jack'. Meanwhile, Chino grows angry at Lazarus for continuing to offensively "act black" as he stays in character. After Lazarus steals the map from Speedman, Sandusky (the only one with boot camp training) reveals by looking at the map that Speedman has been leading them the wrong way the whole time. The group splits from Speedman, who insists on continuing on his way. In captivity, Tayback reveals to Cody that he has never left the U.S. before, and originally wrote the book as a tribute.

Speedman's sanity seems to be slipping as he continues to act scenes from the film and even, much to his own distress, kills a Giant Panda one night. Speedman is soon captured by the Dragons and taken back to their camp. When he is tormented by the gang's prepubescent leader, Speedman stutters and is soon recognized as the star of 'Simple Jack'. This turns out to be the only film the Dragons have seen and they are in awe. The force Speedman to perform the film many times a day. Speedman even gets a young hanger-on, a "son" of sorts. The Dragons call Peck, Speedman's agent, and explain that they are holding Speedman ransom. Peck brings this to Les Grossman, who rabidly curses at the Dragon on the other end of the line. He later tells Peck that they can benefit more by collecting the insurance claim on Speedman's death, offering the torn agent a share of the profits.

Meanwhile, among the actors, tension grows between Lazarus and Chino. Portnoy has begun to hallucinate due to his withdrawal, and has to be tied to a water buffalo and then, at his own insistance, a concrete column. Soon, Portnoy is pleading with others to untie him. During a conversation about women "back home", Sandusky expresses envy of Lazarus having dated Jennifer Love Hewitt. In the course of the conversation, Chino is revealed to be a closet homosexual (he is in love with someone named "Lance"). They soon stumble upon the Flaming Dragon's heroin factory. After seeing Speedman being tortured, they plan an ambush based on the film's plot line.

Lazarus impersonates a farmer who has caught Portnoy (again tied to his water buffalo) in his farm, distracting the armed guards as Chino and Sandusky sneak into the building the captives are held in. After the gang notices inconsistencies in Lazarus' story, the actors open fire on the gang, temporarily subduing them despite being armed with only special effects blanks. Portnoy kidnaps the gang's child leader from the fray in order to be led to the drugs. After barely defeating the young crime lord in combat, he finds an enormous mound of heroin; however, reflecting upon his failing low-brow movie career, he rejects the heroin and uses it instead to knock out two guards. Tayback and Cody join the fighting, using Cody's flamethrower and explosives against the Dragons.

However, Portnoy, Chino, and Lazarus find Speedman brainwashed. After he's performing to an approving crowd several times a day, he now believes he is home. Before they can snap him out of it, Lazarus breaks down, revealing his similar inner-struggle with his own identity. With Chino and Sandusky's help, Lazarus drops the Sgt. Osiris character, in both make-up and accent, and becomes his Australian self. However, even Sandusky's inspiring words cannot break Speedman's trance and they have to drag him away as they attempt to escape in Cody and Tayback's recaptured helicopter. The Dragons quickly rejoin, chasing the actors across a bridge which is rigged to detonate by Cody. Speedman asks to remain behind with his "family", but quickly returns with his "son" stabbing him in the neck and the murderous Dragons in pursuit. Tayback detonates the bridge just in time for Speedman to get across. Lazarus goes to rescue Speedman from the rubble. They swear each other's friendship and Speedman is finally able to cry. However, just as they get in with the others to the helicopter, the prepubescent Dragon leader appears with a rocket launcher. As he shoots at the helicopter, Speedman's agent "Pecker" inexpicably appears with Speedman's TiVO and deflects the rocket with it.

A documentary of the botched production is made from the hidden camera footage, and results in a multiple Academy Award-winning blockbuster film. The film breaks Speedman's streak of flops and he wins the award for Best Actor, presented by his friend Lazarus. Along with Portnoy, Sandusky is present with Jennifer Love Hewitt on his arm and Chino is present with Lance Bass (the "Lance" of earlier) on his arm. Len Grossman does a hip-hop dance in celebration of the hit. (IMDB)

Review: by The MOVIEBLOG.com

I used to LOVE Ben Stiller. Zoolander, Dodgeball, Meet The Parents and several others. But over the last couple of years it seems he’s put out trash film after trash film and I’ve almost totally lost interest. I sort of feel the same way about Jack Black… used to love him, but he’s disappointed me too much over the last little while. So when the first couple of trailers came out for Tropic Thunder, the only thing that REALLY caught my attention was the presence of Robert Downey Jr. playing a black guy. It looked like it could be too funny for words. So my expectations were that the movie would be bad, but that Downey may be good enough to at least give me some laughs. I’m very happy to say the film greatly exceeded my expectations.


The basic idea behind Tropic Thunder looks something like this: A big budget war movie is being made by a first time director and a hard assed heartless producer staring 3 big name actors. The problem is the film isn’t going so well, the producer is furious, the actors are hindering the process and the director is at his wits end. In a desperate attempt to give the movie a gritty realism, the director drops the actors in the middle of the jungle, but unknowingly drops them in the wrong country… and although they think they’re secretly being filmed for the movie, they’re actually in the middle of a fight for their lives.


I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating here. If you’re making a comedy movie, the single most important thing is to make people laugh. You can get away with a LOT of mistakes in your movie if you make the audience laugh… at the same time you can do everything right, but if you fail to make people laugh, then your movie sucks. Tropic Thunder makes you laugh. It’s just that simple. They aren’t the smartest laughs… they aren’t high brow laughs… but oh my goodness they are laughs nonetheless. This is a FUNNY flick.

We all expected Robert Downey Jr. would knock it out of the park, and he doesn’t disappoint (although someone else stole the show from him… but I’ll get to that in a moment). He’s always working the character so much that even the most mundane lines that come out of his mouth make you smile. When he switches from “black” to Australian it’s pure gold.

As the movie starts we’re treated to 4 fake trailers, each staring one of the 4 main actors in the movie. The trailers are designed to not only be funny, but also to introduce us to the characters. Sweet heavens THEY WERE HILARIOUS! But they weren’t just hilarious, they were also a very creative and effective way to get us to know the main players before the “story” of the movie got started.

The cameos in this film are some of the best executed use of cameos I’ve ever seen. Very well done.

Ok… this is the big one. TOM “Fucking Scientologist Freaky Nut Job” Cruise flat out steals this movie every single moment he’s on screen. No, I’m not being sarcastic. No, I’m not exaggerating. And no, I’m not kidding. Cruise doesn’t have a huge role in the movie (maybe about 10 minutes of screen time) but wow… each precious second he’s on screen I was laughing my ass off. This was EXACTLY the type of role he needed to do right now. I’m so glad they never used any of his footage in the trailers… it makes it more effective. Mark my words… people will be talking about Cruise’s performance in this movie for the rest of the year. It’s pure comedy gold.


Remember how I said if you make people laugh in a comedy, you can get away with a lot of other stuff? Yeah well, it’s a good thing for Tropic Thunder because making us laugh is about the only thing this movie does right. The story was horrible, it sometimes couldn’t decide if it was a slapstick comedy or just sort of a silly one, and a lot of things just didn’t make any sense whatsoever. I won’t bother listing all the individual items that were bad… just know that nothing else in the movie really worked. But hey… it’s a comedy and it makes you laugh, so it’s all forgivable.


Tropic Thunder is a damn funny movie that gave me about 10 HARD laugh out loud moments with about 20 good giggles to back them up with. As a result, I walked out of the theater having been thoroughly entertained. Yes it has a wide variety of weaknesses, but you can easily get past those as you try to catch your breath from laughing so hard. I can not emphasize this last point enough… TOM CRUISE RULES IN THIS MOVIE. Overall I’m giving Tropic Thunder an 8 out of 10.

Stereoscopic Parking Garage - Weird!



The three-dimensional directional system Australian designer Axel Peemoeller created inside the Eureka Tower Car Park in Melbourne may have won several design awards, but methinks perhaps it'll freak you out if you happen to be walking by. Especially when you start to notice it looks like the walls and floors are bleeding different colors of ink. Still, it's got to be really cool to see these stereoscopic signs from the driver's seat.

The Eureka Tower is self-described as the tallest residential building in the world as well as one of the largest building projects to use 3D Virtual Building™ .



Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Pink Spotlight on Jeff Straker

“after only 4 bars it’s a given that something wonderful is going on”
(Steve Mcdonnell-Cathedral Arts Festival - Regina, SK - 2006)

The Pink Spotlight NEW NEWS
2008 Toronto Independent Music Award nomination–best pop album
OPENED FOR MEL C (Spice Girls)–TORONTO (summer ’08)
#11 on Proud fm (Toronto) Top 20 chart (summer ’08)
Regular rotation on Z99-fm (Regina) (summer ’08)

Jeff Straker(Photo credit:
Pascal Labillois)

If you put a little Elton John, and a little Rufus Wainwright in a blender, tossed in a dash of Mika - then hit puree - you’d get Jeffery Straker. This Canadian singer - songwriter - pianist takes inspiration from pop-rock, folk, & cabaret leanings and blends in his distinct tenor voice. His vocal range runs from the highest falsettos to deep bass notes and is delivered with lively stage flair. Musically, Jeffery is an actual descendant of both Beethoven and Chopin (see below for the full true story!) and the piano-man recently signed a production deal to record his upcoming 2008 release with producer Justin Gray (LA/Toronto). This will help him do more of what he loves - creating something different with piano/vocal music. People are taking note of his tunes and as one New York City reviewer recently put it:

“If Jeff’s songs have elements of whackiness, it’s always inspired whackiness!”

He spent 2006 & 2007 touring his last album “Songs from Highway 15″ - a collection of folk-pop songs inspired by growing up on the Canadian prairies. FACTOR (a national music funding organization) supported the album with generous marketing funding, while CBC radio airplay as well as video airplay at home and in Australia helped grow his fanbase. Having performed over 200 shows, listeners enjoyed what he had to offer whether they attended solo concerts or heard him backed by his full band. He sold almost 2000 CDs - quite a feat for an indie artist in Canada - and reviews said things like:

One of the hottest entertainers on the Canadian prairie music scene”
(Northeast Sun, Ryan Land)

Songwriting aspirations
“You blew me away with that song” (Jason Blume, May ‘07)

Jeffery’s songwriting & performing aspirations are frighteningly high - to be able to captivate through song, like his favorite storyteller did through word. That mentor was a neighbour, Carl Krall, who lived near his parents’ farm in rural Saskatchewan when he was growing up. “Carl could tell a story like no one else I’ve ever met - if the story was gripping it took your breath away, if it was funny you fell off your chair laughing”. Incidentally, Carl (related to Canada’s Jazz sensation Dianna Krall) was Jeffery’s first glimpse at the touring life. Carl spent his weekends traveling from town to town playing music at dances, weddings, and the like. The seed of the itinerant musician taking his music on the road was planted at an early age.

The 2008 Album Release
Jeffery is currently putting the finishing touches on his upcoming album, produced by the talented Justin Gray (Joss Stone, Emma Bunton, Ashley MacIsaac, Snow, Jacksoul) in Toronto & Los Angeles. The 2 met at a songwriting workshop in Regina (Canada) in 2007. Liking what he heard, Gray promptly signed Jeffery to a production deal to make an album - with release set for 2008. With this pairing Straker’s artful songs met Gray’s incomparable pop-touch that has helped him sell more than 20 million albums worldwide. With the help of the Steven Rosen Music Corporation (Los Angeles) the recording is now being shared within the industry and Jeffery is looking forward to taking this release on the road.

“You’re a superb performer! . . . your music has great energy”
(Sandra Butel-Artistic Director Regina Folk Festival)

Since the release of his last album Straker penned over 40 new songs and has found his songwriting shifting gears a bit. Gray heard it too. So for this new album they wanted to evolve his sound and have taken his piano-driven compositions into fresh new “alt-pop” territory. Drums are superbly played by Randy Cook (Five for Fighting, Chantal Kreviazuk, Kelly Clarkson), with magic guitar touches by Justin Abedin (Amanda Marshall, Jacksoul). When Straker speaks of the upcoming recording he mentions: “When I perform live I like to create a little world that people can enter into and just be there with me for awhile - and I really wanted to do that with this album”.

Early Music/Early Years
“Thank God that my grandparents gave their old upright piano to my mom when she moved out” sometimes I think she gave birth to me under it, because I’ve been glued to a piano my whole life.” In his early days growing up in rural Saskatchewan (near his hometown of Punnichy), Jeff was in front of audiences at concerts, on local TV productions, and in music festivals. Picking out Fats Domino and Frank Mills tunes on the piano by ear at a very early age, his mom saw his talent and put him in piano lessons when he was 7. Soon he was writing music (mostly grand endings to imaginary sonatas) and banging it out on the keys with great gusto. From the get go he was ‘pretty serious’ about his piano studies and actually enjoyed practicing and performing with the help of two local piano teachers “Mrs. Young and Mrs. Mctavish who helped him along with heaps of encouragement. He remembers the autumn day when there weren’t enough local boys to make up a 14-&-under hockey team that season, which allowed him to quit hockey and move on to study at the conservatory of music at the University of Regina while still in high school. A few years later he won the conservatory’s Directors’ Silver Medal for performance.

A Bizarre Musical Pedigree Jeffery|Beethoven|Chopin| huh?
While studying at the conservatory Jeffery worked with Frank Crumly who tied Jeff to the grand musical lineage of both Beethoven and Chopin. What on earth are you talking about, you ask? You classical piano buffs will want to check this out: Beethoven taught Czerny, who taught Leschetizky (the greatest teacher of all time), who taught Howard Wells, who taught Thomas Manshardt, who taught Frank Crumly who taught Jeff (6 degrees of separation). Also if that’s not enough: Chopin taught George Matthias, who taught Cortot, who taught Thomas Manshardt who taught Crumly who taught Jeffery (5 degrees of separation). We’re sure Kevin Bacon fits in here somewhere. It’s inevitable.

Losing the music, and finding it again
A bit burnt out on classical piano, he tossed music aside and shifted gears completely to study biology and biochemistry at university. However a short job stint in a lab with the National Research Council saw him wanting to poke his eyes out with a test tube due to absolute boredom. Later, while working at an office job (with the Procter and Gamble company) he started playing in bands at night “and then writing the odd song of his own to toss into the set lists. Fellow writers encouraged him and he received the first of what evolved into many demo development awards from FACTOR (the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records). With time he re-found his love of music, thankfully, in smoky bars. As the smoke clears we’re now able to see and hear what he has to offer.

Other stuff that’s been going on
Some of his newest songs were debuted in 2007 on tour in the USA and subsequently some interesting things happened:
- The song “FLAT LINES” was chosen for the Saskatchewan 2007 JUNO Compilation CD representing the best in new music from the province.
- He landed performances at JUNOfest ‘07 and Ness Creek Music Festival ‘07 gaining exposure to many new fans.
- He licensed 2 new songs to operatic tenor Derrick Miller (Canadian Opera Company) for release in 2007.
- Co-writes with artists in Sweden, the UK and Los Angeles were released.
- And of course he signed his production deal with Justin Gray/Big Boom Entertainment to record his 2008 release.
Praise for Jeffery’s writing has recently included both the UNISONG and International Songwriting Competitions placing him in final rounds with comments like:

“A smash hit…fresh…killer chorus…poetic and clever” (Unisong)

Straker has also had the chance to share his songs abroad with his active touring schedule taking him to places like China (2005), Ireland (2004), and Panama (2006-on tour with the Canadian Embassy). June ‘06 took him to his debut in New York City where his album was nominated for “Recording of the Year” at the Outmusic awards. In addition to his songs Jeffery’s engaging audience rapport has helped him gain growing popularity. The experience he delivers when on stage caught the attention of the CBC who recorded a performance (with live audience) at their studios in May ‘06.

Historical Footnote
After his first piano lessons in his hometown of Punnichy, Saskatchewan Jeffery was accepted into the Conservatory of Music at the University of Regina at age 15. He completed his Licentiate Diploma in Performance from Trinity College of Music, London England at age 19, having performed major works to strong acclaim. Over recent years, Jeff has merged his classical training with pop influences and further vocal training with the talented Elizabeth Davidson (Toronto) to create his signature sound. His first band experience was in his parents’ farmhouse basement playing piano & bass along with various traditional musicians from that ‘neck of the woods’. He’s also been known to be a mean fiddle player when you get a few drinks in him…..which doesn’t take much…

Middle of Somewhere (2002) (2-song single)
Petrified (2003)
Songs from Highway 15 (2006)
Step Right Up (2008)


And now a message from the Queen...

Preface from The Wizard of 'OZ':

Normally I don't put a preface on a post - mostly just throw them out there and see what sh*t flies! But in this case I am making an exception.

Point #1: I believe in Barack Obama
Point #2: I believe in America's brave, hard-fought Independence
Point #3: I believe in the U.S. Constitution and the democratic process - (Can't say I agree with the gun laws tho'... sorry!
Point #4: I do not believe that Americans are any less intelligent than any other country

So, when reading this post, my American friends, please take it for what it is intended -- and that is satire.

Of course, The Wizard ALWAYS values input from my readers so feel free to make comments! All comments are posted whether I agree with them or not - only profanity and comments off topic are moderated.

So here we go:

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.

Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all.
Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accept ed provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

13. Further, you will stop playing baseball.

It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government
will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

*Thanks, Erwin!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Not True - but creepy just the same....

The young man in this photo visited a historic site in Georgia called Fort Mountain with his friends and he asked them to take his photo while hiking. While his friend took the photo, he screamed and fainted. Then 2 days later he died in the hospital. The doctors said he died from a heart attack.

When the photos where developed, in the last photo there was a woman standing next to the young man, even though his friends said there was no one with him when the photo was taken. Many people know of this rumor and the last photo is the result of the blessings of technology. People say its the ghost of Cherokee Chief Ross's wife Madam Firecrochet.

Double Exposure - fake as proved by snopes.com

Check out why it's a fake at snopes.com

*Thanks, Pam

Former Trail Blazers Kevin Duckworth Dies at 44

Kevin DuckworthLINCOLN CITY, Ore. (AP) -Former Portland Trail Blazers center Kevin Duckworth died while on a trip to the Oregon Coast to host a free basketball clinic. He was 44.

The Lincoln County sheriff's office confirmed the death. He died Monday.

The 7-foot Duckworth averaged 11.8 points and 5.8 rebounds over 11 seasons in the NBA, helping Portland reach the NBA finals in 1990 and 1992. The two-time All-Star also played for San Antonio, Washington, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Kevin will be remembered by fans as one of the most popular and recognizable players to ever wear the Blazers uniform, but to people who knew him, he'll be remembered as one of the warmest and biggest-hearted," Trail Blazers president Larry Miller said.

The Blazers said he was representing the team on a 19-city tour of Oregon.

Duckworth grew up in the Chicago area and was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs out of Eastern Illinois University in 1986.

The Spurs traded him that season to the Trail Blazers, where he had his greatest success, playing with Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Buck Williams and Jerome Kersey on two Western Conference championship teams.

Duckworth remained in the Portland area after he retired in 1997, doing woodwork, fishing and hunting. He ran a construction company in Northern California for a time, and a restaurant venture in Vancouver, Wash., with former NBA player Kermit Washington went out of business.

The cause of death was to be determined by a medical examiner.

BE Careful!

Symptoms and Complications of Listeriosis

Not everyone who is infected with listeria will develop listeriosis. But for those who do, symptoms of the disease may appear suddenly, as soon as 1 day after and up to 90 days after eating food contaminated with listeria.

Generally, milder forms of listeriosis will cause symptoms much sooner than more serious forms of the disease. Symptoms of listeriosis include:

* constipationListeria
* cramps
* diarrhea
* headache
* mild flu-like illness (e.g., chills, fatigue, muscle and joint pain)
* nausea
* persistent fever
* vomiting

Rarely, meningoencephalitis (an infection of the brain and the surrounding tissues) or septicemia (where the bacteria is present in the blood) may follow.

Listeriosis can be particularly harmful during pregnancy. A mother who is infected during the first 3 months of pregnancy may miscarry. Acute illness, premature birth, and stillbirth of the newborn are possible if the mother is infected later in pregnancy. Newborns may also have low birth weight, meningitis, and various other complications.

*Thanks, Pam

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Love Doctor

The Love Doctor Dear Love Doctor,

I have been with this guy for 4 years and I want out - AGAIN! It just seems that no matter how hard I try I get stuck with a man of my nightmares rather than the one of my dreams. Any advice?


Stuck in a relationship I don't want

Dear Stuck,

I don't have any personal advice on this one as I am a gay man after all, so we guys always get along! But according to Relationship Advice--Top 5 Tips By Lisa Angelettie M.S.W from girlshrink.com....

1. Pick a partner that if stripped of everything materialistic (bank account, clothing, car, home etc.), you would still find interesting, funny, and attractive.

2. Find at least one thing you have in common with your partner and do whatever that is on a regular basis. No matter if you get that dream 60-hour work week job. No matter if you have 5 children! No matter if you had a huge fight last night. Do it.

3. If you have to go to bed angry at your partner, at least discuss that anger in a decible level lower than screaming before you do. Both parties should have a clear understanding of each person's side of the story whether they agree with that side or not.

4. Build trust. Do not require titles or labels until both parties feel you must define your relationship. Do not demand a total itinerary of the other person's day/night. Do not snoop. Do not play games.

5. Do not stay in a bad relationship for the wrong reasons. It only prolongs the inevitable. Examples: Length of time together, children, fear of the unknown, pity, waiting for other person to change etc.

This concludes the relationship advice tip list by GirlShrink.com All these tips are based in a core element of all relationships--communication. Much success in applying this relationship advice to your life.

The Love Doctor


In Trucking slang, a "REEFER" actually refers to a refrigerated truck and not marijuana.

Yep! A refrigerated truck or trailer that hauls perishables.

Reefer Truck

"De-Motivational Posters"


*Thanks, Daryn

Beautiful Boy

My Beautiful boy

The light is fading, we’re all alone
I sing you a lullaby
Stars winkin at us, a smile from the man on the moon
I look you in the eye, and every single time time
My heart is a bird in the breeze
Flyin far out from me, roundin you, and landing between

If I only had breath for one more sigh
I’d be callin it out to you
Singin’ bout, what you do —– oh

My beautiful boy , You take me, To a place
Far beyond the point
Where my doubts, can hold on
My beautiful boy

I’m a little boat in the water, the rain in the summer,
You’re my river and I’m comin down
If storms blow on in- You’re my bright sky, oh so blue
And it feels kinda funny, like I’m dancin in the stars
when I’ve got you on my mind,
Sing your song to the northern lights, they’re dancing with us too

If I only had music for one more song,
I’d be singin it out to you
A little verse, ’bout what you do —– oh

My beautiful boy , You take me, To a place
Far beyond the point
Where my doubts, can hold on
My beautiful boy

© Jeff Straker, 2005
All rights reserved. SOCAN

Old Dogs and Children, and Watermelon Wine

Hope you enjoy this since I am posting it purposely for all you old friends - and some young ones too ...

Mike's Place - The Fifties

Were you a kid in the Fifties or so? Everybody makes fun of our childhood! Comedians joke. Grandkids snicker. Twenty-something's shudder and say "Eeeew!" But was our childhood really all that bad? Judge for yourself:


In 1953 the US population was less than 150 million. Yet you knew more people then, and knew them better
... And that was good.

The average annual salary was under $3,000. Yet our parents could put some of it away for a rainy day and still live a decent life.
...And that was good.

A loaf of bread cost about 15 cents .. But it was safe for a five-year-old to skate to the store and buy one
...And that was good.


Prime-Time meant: I Love Lucy, Ozzie and Harriet, Gunsmoke and Lassie. So nobody ever heard of ratings or filters
...And that was good.


We didn't have air-conditioning ... So the windows stayed up and half a dozen mothers ran outside when you fell off your bike.
...And that was good.

Your teacher was either Miss Matthews or Mrs. Logan or Mr. Adkins. But not Ms. Becky or Mr. Dan
... And that was good.

The only hazardous material you knew about was a patch of grassburrs around the light pole at the corner .
...And that was good.

On a clothesline

You loved to climb into a fresh bed ... Because sheets were dried on the clothesline.
...And that was good.

Grandma and Grandchild

People generally lived in the same hometown with their relatives. So "child care" meant grandparents or aunts and uncles.
... And that was good.

Parents were respected and their rules were law. Children did not talk back.
... And that was good.

Tree in fall colours

TV was in black-and-white. But all outdoors was in glorious color
... And that was certainly good.

Car with hood up - Dad lookin' in

Your Dad knew how to adjust everybody's carburetor.
... And the Dad next door knew how to adjust all the TV knobs
... And that was very good.

Your grandma grew snap beans in the back yard. And chickens behind the garage
... And that was definitely good.

And just when you were about to do something really bad ... Chances were you'd run into your Dad's high school coach ... Or the nosy old lady from up the street Or your little sister's piano teacher ... Or somebody from Church. ALL of whom knew your parents' phone number ... And YOUR first name.
...And even THAT was good! ~~~~~ REMEMBER ???

Forward this post** on to someone who can still remember Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Sky King, Little Lulu comics, Brenda Starr, Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Belle, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk as well as the sound of a reel mower on Saturday morning, and summers filled with bike rides, playing in cowboy land, playing hide and seek and kick-the-can and Simon Says, baseball games, amateur shows at the local theater before the Saturday matinee, bowling and visits to the pool...and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar, and wax lips and bubblegum cigars...

Kids smilin'

Didn't that feel good, just to go back and say, Yeah, I remember that! And was it really that long ago?

**To forward this or any post from 'OZ' just click on the envelope icon at the end of the post and follow the instructions -- it's just THAT easy!