Monday, November 26, 2007

Ozzy Osbourne/ Rob Zombie/ In This Moment, Winnipeg, Oct. 27, 2007, MTS Centre

audience: 11,500
Ozzy 3/5
Rob Zombie 4.5/5
In The Moment 3/5

Overall, I would rate this concert 3.5/5.

Ozzy played about two or three songs from his weak new album. Classic material heard included Crazy Train, I Don't Know, Mr. Crowley, Suicide Solution, Bark At The Moon, the ballad, Mama I'm Coming Home and Black Sabbath's Paranoid. Not so classic material played - Fire In the Sky, Not Going Away, I Don't Wanna Stop. Missing were favorties Over The Mountain, Flying High Again, Iron Man, No More Tears, The Ultimate Sin, Miracle Man and Journey To The Centre of Eternity. Ozzy is a nostalgia act, like many veteran artists, and as such, he continues to survive and draw fans largely based on the strength of his best material, as opposed to his new releases.

Ozzy's vocals were all right. Fortunately for us, he didn't take his shirt off like he did the last time I saw him, about 8 years ago. He looked like he came from a workout with his black outfit appearing as sweats and a sweatband across his head. Throughout Ozzy's set, there was a video camera panning the crowd, which stopped on a woman who was jiggling her breasts. She noticed herself on camer, and pulled her puppeis out to the delight of many. Of course, a few other exhibitionists decided to pull up their tops for camera, including this one woman standing with her girlfriend beside me. One guy in front of me realized that the camera was showing a woman with red horns and turned around to confirm that it was this young woman by me. He pointed towards her bare boobs with his full arm, obviously enjoying the scene and then decided to take a few steps towards her, to get into the party by copping a feel. Well, her friend was having none of that and sternly slapped his hand away. As usual, Ozzy spent a fair amount of time trying to get the audience fired up with his constant beckon on "Make some f**king noise. I can't f**king hear you!" I know Zakk Wylde is a guitar hero to many and is successful with his own band, Black Label Society, but....his ten-minute guitar solo was woefully lame. Maybe I'm spoiled after having seen Eric Clapton solo brilliantly without appearing to break much of a sweat. In comparison, the kilted Wylde was about as good as the guys from Twisted Sister. Randy Rhoads, I miss you.

Rob Zombie played like a headliner and his stage set up was easily the best that I've seen a supporting act perform with, not to mention the endless flames that blasted out in synch with the music. The set boasted six video screens which accompanied all the songs with scary and campy animation and snippets from films, including Zsombie's own The Devil's Rejects. Most of the footage seemed to revolve around vampires, zombies, werewolves, Herman Munster and most common of all, breasts, some clothed, some not, but all jiggling. I'm only familiar with one Rob Zombie song, Dragula. I thought the first song he played was it, but it was saved for the latter point of the show. Zombie's set opened up with the band wearing skull masks, which reminded me of how the last Alice Cooper show began, with the band in masks. The drum kit was on a platform around 20ft in the air, and the platform itself appeared to be a Japanese demon face, almost "Simpsonized." Early on in the set, during More Human Than Human, a 10ft tall robot walked on stage and proceed to thrash around and pursue the musicians. Of course, this is straight out of the Iron Maiden playbook as they came up with the gimmick over two decades ago with their mascot Eddie. Helping out with vocals and eye candy were two scantily clad female singers. Tracks played included American Witch, Demon Speeding, Livin Dead Girl .

With constant visual spectacle, Rob Zombie is tailor made for today's masses of attention-deficit fans who need relentless shock and awe in order to have a great time.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stars - Burton Cummings Theater, Winnipeg, Canada - Nov. 24, 2007

Quite a crowd showed up for Stars' return to Winnipeg since playing the Garrick Theatre in February 2006.

Doors opened at 8 p.m. and the line to buy merchandise was about 30 minutes long. Not a bad way to kill time, I suppose. I'm not sure what the attendance was but I would bet it was around 1,300 as there were fans even in the second balcony of the 1,646-seat venue.

Miracle Fortress took to the stage around 9 p.m. and at first I wasn't sure what band I was seeing. I can recall that Stars has two lead singers, with the guy having short blonde hair.

I quickly realized that they weren't playing anything that I recognized and they must have been some other band, but I didn't catch their name until later. The music was poppy and yet indie at the same time, but not as catchy as Stars' music. The drummer had possibly the best sound that I've heard at that venue.

Sitting in the centre of row four I could see, but not as well as I wanted. During intermission I went to the bar for water and my vantage point, looking over the tops of mostly teenage girls, was much better. I would say the audience was mostly teens and twenty-somethings with older folks being in the minority.

Opening the show with the infectious "Take Me To The Riot" from their new album, In Our Bedroom After The War, the sound was initially muddy but became better later on.

They played a variety of songs from their recordings, including some that the audience sang along to. During those particular moments the band aimed the mics at the audience and the mood turned warm and fuzzy.

Songs played included "Ageless Beauty," "My Ex-Lover Is Dead," "Personal," "Bitches In Tokyo," "Midnight Coward," "In Our Bedroom After The War," the funky "The Ghost of Genova Heights" (complete with falsetto vocals that recall Michael Jackson), among several others.

The five-song encore began with "The Night Starts Here," another instantly appealing song from the band's new album. Not everything was a simple pop, song however. Some were slow-moving, bitter soliloquies to failed relationships. I wouldn't necessarily describe them as ballads.

Throughout the show bassist Evan Cranely plucked flowers that decorated the set and threw them into the crowd, often trying to fling them as high as possible. It proved to be a popular move among the mostly teen and twenty-something crowd. Cranley's bass often stood out and he added some needed visual interest by dancing around a fair bit.

Co-lead singer and guitarist Amy Millan, who was in town earlier this year to promote her country solo album, didn't really crack a smile or look as if she was having a great time. That may have been her regular stage persona. Her eyes were like lasers, staring into Cranley's eyes without flinching as they two of them stood close together and played their instruments on a few occasions.

Torquil Campbell, the other singer, was an athletic foil to Millan's sombre presence. Stars are one of the few bands around with two lead singers, who sometimes sing the
same lines together while other times, their own verses.

He wowed the crowd as he knelt down right in front of the stage and sang directly in the faces of the stunned audience members. I absolutely love the sound of the trumpet and Campbell played his a few times during the show, which added even more variety to the overall sound.

On a couple of occasions, he praised the audience for showing up, curiously saying that they don't have a lot of friends and that having the turnout was something very special to the band. One thing is for certain, unlike some bands, Stars have managed to play larger and larger venues each time they returned to Winnipeg.

During the encore, at the end of one of the songs, the crowd kept on screaming "Amy!" as she handed out some short-stemmed roses to fans in the front. At the very end of the show, as the band members walked off the stage, Millan stayed behind to play the final chords of a song all by herself with her back turned to the audience. It was a poignant moment. As soon as the final note rung, she sped off the stage.

I would describe Stars as one of Canada's premiere indie bands, and Campbell, Millan and Cranley also contribute to the Canadian indie kings, Broken Social Scene.

Prior to releasing their CD, the band made the entire thing available for a free download, knowing that this would happen anyway, and hoping that fans and newcomers would like what they heard and would buy the CD. Months later, Radiohead tried something similar, where people could pay anything to download it.

My rating for this show is 4/5.

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Bob Young and the Rise of Red Hat Software

Globe and Mail Update

One of the most fascinating stories in the technology sector has been the challenge posed by open-source giant Linux to Microsoft's dominance of the market for operating system software. One of the key players in the rise of Linux is Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat Software, the largest distributor of the Linux operating system. Young's creative resolution of a crucial strategic dilemma was the event that put Red Hat – and Linux – on the path to profit and power in the marketplace.

In the 1980s, a movement had taken shape to develop software based on UNIX, an operating system invented in the 1970s at AT&T Bell Labs, and made available at no cost to anyone who requested a copy. In 1991, programmer Linus Torvalds posted a message on a UNIX users' bulletin board to announce he'd developed an operating system from the UNIX code. Before long, suggested improvements to Torvalds' program, dubbed Linux, were pouring in.

New enterprises like Yggdrasil, Slackware and Red Hat Linux sprang up to try to bring some order to the chaos by selling their own versions of Linux to interested buyers. Young ran an outfit called ACC Corp. that distributed their free software. In 1995, Young combined his company with Red Hat, becoming CEO of what was now called Red Hat Software, and shifting the company's focus from distribution of several flavours of Linux to direct sales of Red Hat's Linux product.

From his experience as a distributor, Young knew that the still-tiny market for Linux software was growing rapidly. But the business was going to hit a ceiling unless it could find a new business model.

Young could see that the two dominant models then in existence were profoundly flawed. On one hand, there was the classical proprietary-software model employed by big players such Microsoft and Oracle. They sold their clients only the operating software, not the source code. All enhancements and modifications were in the hands of the software maker.

Young has nothing but scorn for this way of doing business. “If you ran into a bug that caused your systems to crash,” he says, “you would call up the manufacturer and say, ‘My systems are crashing.' And he'd say, ‘Oh, dear.' What he really meant was, ‘Oh, good.' He'd send an engineer over at several hundred dollars an hour to fix his software for you that was broken when he delivered it to you, and he called this customer service.”

On the other hand was the free software model employed by Slackware, Yggdrasil and Red Hat itself, which Young found equally problematic. “You couldn't make any money selling [the Linux] operating system,” Young says, “because all this stuff was free, and if you started to charge money for it, someone else would come in and price it lower. It was a commodity in the truest sense of the word.”

If Red Hat was going to be something more than a low-margin distributor of a commodity product, it would have to find some way of adding value to Linux that didn't involve improving the code. That meant finding something salient about the Linux business that other programmers and distributors had overlooked.

How, then, could Red Hat establish itself as the Linux market leader? By imposing order and control on the chaotic process by which improvements to Linux are developed and captured. A typical Linux operating system is some 800 to 1,000 different packages compiled together. Those packages are maintained by different teams of people, and those people update those packages independently.

It's clear why serious corporate users weren't going to use Linux. Although the price was right, they wouldn't save money if their systems administrators had to track all the random updates. But they would save money – and have a more stable, reliable operating system than Windows – if there were a way to manage the flood of updates. Red Hat would make itself invaluable to customers by taking on that management task.

Young was pleased with this resolution, which blended the best elements of the two competing business models into a new way of doing business. But there was a hitch. Corporate customers wouldn't buy Red Hat's Linux unless Red Hat was the clear leader in the Linux space.

Red Hat would have to find its way onto every hard drive in corporate America. To get there, Young's programming team rewrote the Red Hat version of Linux so that it could be distributed over the Internet instead of via CD-ROM. Young told his team, “We're going to put it up on every FTP [File Transfer Protocol] server we can find on the Internet everywhere in the world, and we are going to encourage people to download it for free.”

It was a risky move. Red Hat was sacrificing all the potential revenue it stood to earn from its new release of Linux. But that was the price of making Red Hat's version of Linux the de facto standard. In a stroke, Red Hat's Linux became legitimate in the eyes of the corporate users.

In 1999, Red Hat went public, and Young became a billionaire in the first day of trading. By 2000, Linux had captured 25 per cent of the server operating system market, and Red Hat held over 50 per cent of the global market for Linux systems. And unlike the vast majority of the dot-com era's startups, Red Hat has continued to grow.

What made the creative resolution of Red Hat possible? Young recognized that the existing proprietary software and free software models weren't reality; they were simply the accepted ways to cope with dynamics of the software business. He didn't rest until he found a new business model that was clearly better than the existing alternatives.

Typically of an integrative thinker, he read the existence of unpleasant tradeoffs a signal to rethink the problem from the ground up. In doing so, he found clues to what was salient to corporate software buyers, and gained a key insight into the causal relationship between industry leadership and prosperity.

Reprinted from The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by arrangement with Harvard Business School Press. Copyright 2007 Roger Martin. Prof. Martin is Dean of the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He holds the Premier's Chair in Competitiveness and Productivity and serves as Director of the AIC Institute for Corporate Citizenship at Rotman.


Friday, November 23, 2007

70,000 Kms on the car after 2229 days.

On Sunday, November 18, 2007, the car was up to 70,000 Kms. This was after 6.1 years or 2229 days of ownership.

The new 2008 Accord Coupes are out and they are receiving some nice praise.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Linux vs BSD

Nov 20, 2007

Linux vs BSD

What is BSD?

BSD family of Unix systems is based upon the source code of real Unix developed in Bell Labs, which was later purchased by the University of California - "Berkeley Software Distribution". The contemporaryBSD systems stand on the source code that was released in the beginning of 1990's (Net/2 Lite and 386/BSD release).

BSD is behind the philosophy of TCP/IP networking and the Internet thereof; it is a developed Unix system with advanced features. Except for proprietary BSD/OS, the development of which was discontinued, there are currently four BSD systems available:FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and Mac OS X, which is derived from FreeBSD. There are also various forks of these, like PC-BSD - a FreeBSD clone, or MirOS, an OpenBSD clone. The intention of such forks is to include various characteristics missing in the above BSD systems, on which these (forks), no matter how well they are designed, only strongly depend. PC-BSD, for example, has more graphical features than FreeBSD, but there are no substantial differences between these two. PC-BSD cannot breathe without FreeBSD; FreeBSD or OpenBSD are independent of one another.

What is Linux?

Albeit users like to use the term "Linux" for any Linux distro including its packages (Red Hat Linux, Mandrake Linux, etc.), for IT professionals Linux is only the kernel. Linuxstarted in 1991, when its author, Linus Torvals, began his work on a free replacement of Minix. Developers of quite a few Linux system utilities used the source code from BSD, as both these systems started parallelly in about the same time (1992-1993) as Open Source.

Today, there are a few, if not many developers of their own kernels/operating systems (FreeDOS, Agnix, ReactOS, Inferno, etc.), but these guys simply missed the right train in the right hour. They did not lose anything except for the fact that they may be even better programmers, but without the public opinion acknowledging this at large. Linus built his fame also from work of many developers and he went on board in the right time. Linus deserves a credit as a software idea policy maker and he helped very much in this respect.

(Open)BSD vs Linux

It is often difficult to say what is better if you compare two things without regarding the purpose of their use. Mobile Internet may appear better for someone who travels often, but for people working at home such mobility is not necessary. In this view, it is a stupid question when someone asks: "What is better, a mobile or static Internet?" It all depends...

If you compare Linux and OpenBSD in their desktop environment features, Linux offers more applications than OpenBSD; but in a server solution BSD systems are known to be robust, more stable and secure, and without so many patches distributors release soon after their new version of Linux slithered to light.

BSD systems are based upon real Unix source code contrary to Linux, which was developed from scratch (kernel).

Differences between BSD and Linux

  1. BSD license allows users/companies to modify a program's source code and not to release changes to the public. In other words, BSD licenses allow commercial use and incorporation of a code into proprietary commercial products. This is how Microsoft incorporated BSD networking into their products and how Mac OS X earns money through muscles of FreeBSD.

  2. Linux uses GPL license for most of the time (applications in Linux can also have a BSD license - or any license; it is up to developers how they decide). With a GPL-licensed program anybody can change the source code, but he or she MUST share it with the Open Source community to make sure that everybody will benefit from such a change.

  3. BSD has the so-called "core system" (without packages). The core system consists of basic utilities (like ssh, fdisk, various commands like chmod or sysctl, manual pages, etc.) and anything beyond this is strictly seen as an add-on. Linux (not only the kernel, of course) is usually packaged as the whole system where this difference is not seen.

  4. On BSD systems, all add-on packages are strictly installed into the /usr/local directory: documents to user/local/share/docs/application_name; themes and other things to /usr/local/share/application_name; binaries to /usr/local/bin/application_name. By application_name we mean a program's name, so if you install IceWM, for example, its binary will be here: /usr/local/bin/icewm. With Linux, on the other hand, all applications get mostly installed into the /usr/bin directory.

  5. BSD systems use the system of "ports", which are fingerprints of applications in the /usr/ports directory, where a user may "cd" and execute a make command, which will download, via a directive contained in such a fingerprint's code, the application's source and the system will compile it as well. "Ports" are actually add-on packages for BSD systems and they are also packaged in packages repository of a concrete BSD system. They can be installed as binaries, too, with use of the "pkg_add" either directly from the Internet or locally. But "ports" have that advantage that if an author of any package makes a new version, a user can immediately get its newest/updated version. Packages released for a particular BSD version (like OpenBSD 4.1) are not updated and users have to wait for a new BSD release (like OpenBSD 4.2).

  6. BSD systems have also their stable version. With FreeBSD, for example, you have a FreeBSD-Release (a version that can be used normally), FreeBSD-Stable (system more profoundly audited for bugs and security holes), and a development version - Current, which is not stable and not recommended for a regular use. Some Linuxdistributions started to imitate this philosophy, but with BSD systems this way of making distributions has become a rule.

  7. Of course, the kernel is absolutely different.

  8. BSD has FFS file system; it is the only file system on BSD's contrary to Linux, where you can use dozens of file systems like ext2, ext3, ReiserFS, XFS, etc.

  9. BSD systems divide their partitions internally. This means that after installing a BSD system to a hard disk, programs like fdisk, Partition Magic, Norton Ghost and many others will not see this internal division of a BSD (FFS) disk; thus, repartitioning of a disk is not such a pain when administrators require a rigorous partitioning (for /home, /tmp, /var, /etc directories). As a consequence, the naming convention also differs a little: a disk - /dev/ad0s3b in FreeBSD indicates that you deal with "slice" 3 ("s3"), which is the equivalent of Linux /dev/hda3; the internal "partition" has the name of a letter: "a", "b", "e", etc. ("b" is a swap partition). BSD systems also use different naming conventions for devices (disks, etc.).

  10. Unless you make a good kernel hack, BSD systems can only be installed into the primary partition. This is not the rule with Linux. However, as BSD systems offer the above-mentioned internal division of partitions, this is not any pain. PC architecture for disks (IDE) follows the rule that you can have only four primary partitions. We will illustrate this on Linux: /dev/hda1 (note: first partition on master disk on first IDE channel), /dev/hda2 (second partition), /dev/hda3 (third partition), /dev/hda4 (fourth partition). PC architecture allows creation of the so-called logical disk on a physical disk (/dev/hda5, /dev/hda6, etc.). You can have as many logical disks/partitions as you wish and you can also install Linux into these "logical disks". On the other hand, installing a BSD OS into such a "logical partition" is not normally possible.

  11. System configuration is manual for most of the time, but various clones like PC-BSD break this convention. The manual approach is a very good thing, as administrators have everything under control without being pushed to waste time in a labyrinth of bloated configuration menus. A good comparison is to imagine a car mechanic repairing the car's engine covered by a thick blanket. To give you even a little better example - you will hardly find a Linux distro that does not have a default X startup (graphical environment). Of course, you can switch off the X environment during the installation configuration, but if you keep forgetting like me and forget to switch this off, or you have difficulties to find it in the menu somewhere, you realize that most Linux distributors do indeed impose on us only one approach - to put our fingers first on the thick blanket, then on the engine. If you are a good administrator, you do not usually trust vendors who program you how to use Linux - you are the boss and you must have your own freedom. However, in most cases you lose few hours instead by deactivating various services, which are, unfortunately, not even necessary but almost always activated by default. Linux is praised both for being a good desktop and server, but administrators of a good server do not need X. The more software is stored on your hard disk, the more security problems you will face, because it is impossible to audit every package in every unthinkable situation. Good and secure systems are always tight, light and simple.

  12. All BSD systems have a Linux emulation support. Running BSD binaries on Linux is a little harder.

  13. BSD systems have less support from driver vendors, thus they lag behind in this view (they are not worse, but many vendors support only Microsoft and Linux). With a BSD system you must carefully research the Internet for supported products/chipsets before purchasing any hardware.

  14. BSD systems do not use the Unix System V "runlevel scripts" (initialization startup scripts) like Linux.

  15. BSD kernels can be set to several security levels. This is also possible with Linux, but BSD's have taken a very good care of this kernel-tuning feature, which makes it even impossible to change something in files in higher security levels - you cannot delete them.

  16. BSD's have everything under one ROOF. Various Linux programs are often not even compatible with other Linuces. For example, if you install a SuSE RPM package on Mandrake, it may not work. BSD's have one solid crown of power. If you move from Linux to FreeBSD, you will soon find out that you got out of this chaos. Do you want a package? Just visit: and download it. Unless its developer made some programming errors, it will always work.

  17. Generally, BSD systems boot and reboot faster than Linux. Linux can do this, too, but it must be tuned. It is very surprising that Linux is shipped, on the one hand, on huge DVD's and, on the other hand, it has a compressed kernel. BSD systems do not use (but they can) a default kernel that is compressed, thus the system boots always faster. As I mentioned earlier in this article, Linux vendors program users to use various, often unnecessary services. I do not need SAMBA (file and print services) and many other things as well. Linux reboot process takes longer because various services running on Linux need time for deactivation. Many Linux users do not even know what is the purpose of these services.

  18. In comparison to BSD, most Linux distributions are overbloated. Few good users noticed this some time ago and a new trend in the Linux world started with ideas to get closer to a BSD-style use. One of such distributions is Gentoo Linux, but also Slackware Linux, which has preserved a very good shape since its first release (1993). The Gentoo "About" page ( says that, "Gentoo is a free operating system based on either Linux or FreeBSD..." Therefore, if you use Slackware or Gentoo, these Linuces will always reboot faster than any other Linux.

  19. If you compile programs from ports, you will not stumble into compilation errors. BSD packagers prepare their packages carefully, so that users will always compile them successfully. This does not always happen with Linux.


I really like all BSD systems. If you are interested, look into FreeBSD documentation, which is one of the best. It will give you a very good overview of history and hard work done in the development of these robust systems. Today, BSD Unices are the only quality alternative to Linux in the Open Source world.

Author:Juraj Sipos

Author's website about FreeBSD and OpenBSD

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular, Nov. 18, 2007 Burton Cummings Theatre

Good turn out at the Burt this evening for lasers, videos and the music of Pink Floyd. This of the best hi-fi that you've heard Floyd on. This was better.

The visuals were far out and tended to follow the lyrics. No spliffs were lit during the performance. Some fans came inebriated. Long lineups for the bathrooms during the 20-minute intermission. The Burt's bathrooms are woefully inadequate.

The first set featured Darkside of the Moon in its entirety. People jumped when the bells rang to introduce Time. Right after the first two songs, people were clapping and cheering.

The second set featured the "best of" Pink Floyd, which of course, it wasn't. They skipped over anything from the early albums and Animals. Lots of tracks from The Wall, some from the Momentary Lapse of Reason with video footage showing a Waters-less Floyd.

Many wore "3-d" glasses , but I opted to not to. Maybe the experience would have been better with the $2 glasses, but I had a good time.

I always wanted to see Laser Floyd when it was playing at the Planetrium in the 70s and 80s, but I missed out. I think I would have preferred seeing tonight's show there, given how more intimate and cosmic it is.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Concert Review: Modest Mouse At Burton Cummings Theatre, Winnipeg, MB, Nov. 7, 2007

It was rush seating on the floor to see Modest Mouse, one of the most celebrated US indie bands in recent memory, whose fans are split over their older, more intimate material versus the MTV-friendly direction of their last two albums.

I left the house around 6:30 pm, and after finally parking a bit further away than I had hoped, I joined the line up of around 30 people. The last time I checked online, the show was not sold out, but the 1646 seat venue did apparently run out of tickets. I struck up a conversation with Sean, a young bearded free spirit, originally from Winnipeg, who was based in Taiwan, teaching English and pursuing work with local Asian rock bands. It's always fun to speak with someone as passionate about music as I am, since you can learn about other cool bands to check out.

Finally, the doors opened and I made my way right to the front of the stage, to park myself in row 1. Sean tracked me down and sat beside me, while hoping that his girlfriend would find us, which she eventually did.

Right away, the young fans began to stream to the front of the stage to see the opening band, Love As Laughter. They sounded like any number of melodic indie bands and could go on to bigger things. I will be checking them out.

Nothing could have prepared the audience for the next band, Philadelphia's Man Man. Wearing a uniform of white t-shirts with sweat bands, these guys were part musical act and part performance art, a modern day vaudevillian group.

They were very spastic, with the lead singer / keyboardist jumping around and yet managing to play in sync with the other band members who were bashing out syncopated, frantically paced pop. At one point, all members started playing kazoos to the delight of the audience. The lead singer threw something towards the bassist who batted it into the head of the drummer. Far from seeming out of the ordinary, this was just par for the course with these wacky musical pranksters.

During one of the numbers, the sound changed for the better, with a fuller bottom end. This was due to the two Modest Mouse drummers sneaking onto their kits and pounding away with Man Man. The drummers, dressed as ghosts in white sheets, injected even more excitement into the show and fans went nuts due to their surprise appearance. As much fun as they were, I can't help but wonder that they will have an intense but very limited appeal. People who are into Frank Zappa might want to give them a try.

Unfortunately, almost an hour passed before Modest Mouse took the stage, at around 10:10 pm. During this time, I marveled at the discretion the bouncers showed as they blocked the aisle to the floor many fans had streamed towards, hoping to get into the front row. As the standing area filled up, the bouncers would turn people away while letting others back in who stepped away for bathroom breaks and beer runs. The smart ones would politely get their attention and ask them if they would be allowed back in. Usually, the answer was yes, but as the area became more packed, some were told that they were taking chances.

Some people who were turned away left quietly and found seats emptied by fans who did it make to the front, while a few argued. One guy who either had multiple sclerosis or was a bit smashed (or perhaps a bit of both), had us grinning as he argued with two bouncers for several minutes. Resembling a young, bearded John Belushi, this feisty cannonball eventually did end up at the front and was seen grabbing people by the neck as he took them on a wild bouncing tour of the pit. I had to brace myself as they collided with me a few times. I looked over to this one bouncer and he reached out with his arm to block these guys from crashing into my part of the floor, all the while enjoying the energy of the fans. Everywhere you looked, it was a sea of flashing teeth, smiles and bouncing, happy people.

The band took the stage with "Black Cadillacs," which had several fans in the pit singing along. Lead singer and band leader Isaac Brock occasionally spoke to the audience but it was largely unintelligible. At one point, someone threw something on stage, which prompted him to snap that if they did it again, he would "fuckin' kill" them. Someone threw a scarf in front of this older looking guitar player with a shock of jet black hair.

In the lineup, I spoke about how Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths, was now in the band and wondered if many of the predominantly young fans would even know who he was. It was only when someone shouted out his name that it occurred to me who this obviously stellar guitarist was. Marr played superbly and was far beyond the caliber of musician you would expect in an indie band. He only spoke to the crowd a few times, to acknowledge the fans in the upper levels. When the encore was over, Marr picked up the scarf, put it on and offered thanks in the general direction from where it came. Recent news from the UK has Marr also serving as a visiting professor at Salford University. Since the breakup of The Smiths in 1987, Marr has performed and recorded with the likes of Bryan Ferry, Oasis, Beck, The Pretenders, Billy Bragg, and The Pet Shop Boys, among others.

During "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes," Brock took to the front of the stage and flew into a spontaneous rant, but again, it was near-impossible to make out what he was saying. Some of the songs utilized both drummers while some had one on percussion.

Still, Modest Mouse, from my intimate vantage point, were superb and were light years more interesting than a recent Ozzy Osbourne/Rob Zombie show I also attended. Their songs are distinctive, and have become increasingly catchy with their last two albums. Some see this as a sellout, while others view it as progress. About a third of the songs were from their first three albums, and several gems had to be skipped. I would have loved to have heard "Missed The Boat," "Florida," "Spitting Venom," "Ocean Breathes Salty," "Dramamine," "3rd Planet," and "The Stars Are Projectors."

Without a doubt, this was one of the most fun concerts that I have been to in years. Curiously, the major local newspaper thought the show was a bust, as they witnessed people leaving early and complaining about the band being limp and lifeless. I have this theory that the closer you are to the stage, the more likely you're going to enjoy the show. I don't know where the newspaper reviewer was sitting, but I found the band was superb. Sure, in comparison to the manic Man Man, Modest Mouse were a bit sedated, but they still put on a thrilling show. Isaac Brock did find his groove and exploded off his feet a few times on his side of the stage. He also strapped on a banjo for "Bukowski" and "Satin In A Coffin," both from 2004's Grammy-nominated Good News for People Who Love Bad News.

Modest Mouse were strong musically although the sound wasn't as good as I had hoped.

Setlist (in no particular order)

Black Cadillacs
Paper Thin Walls
Here It Comes
Trailer Trash
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Float On
Fire It Up
Satin In A Coffin
Bury Me With It
The View


We've Got Everything
King Rat
Parting Of The Sensory
Out Of Gas

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Concert Review: Blue Oyster Cult, Burton Cummings Theatre, Winnipeg, MB, Oct. 28, 2007

This was the legendary New York band's first appearance in Winnipeg in about 20 years, when they last played a bar to less than 300 people. Without an album to support and with only the memories from classic rock radio playing their handful of hits the show, not surprisingly, was not a sell out. Curiously, the best seats they had they day before the show were in the last row on the floor, but there were many seats in the rows in front of us that were empty.

Boy, do they ever look different. Mind you, there's only two original members remaining. Bassist Rudy Sarzo, of Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and Ozzy Osbourne, looks pretty much the same as he always was in the heyday of hair metal. He's actually 57 years old, but was an absolute sensation during the songs and his solo. I was wondering who he was and the audience gave him a lot of applause when Eric Bloom introduced him.

Singer/guitarist Bloom no longer sports tons of hair in an afro, but the bearded 63-year old performed with the vigor of someone 20 years younger.

Lead guitarist/ vocalist Buck Dharma (Donald Roeser), 60, was unbelievable on guitar.

Unlike a lot of guitarists, Dharma apparently played the same guitar all evening, a curious looking axe with no head. His solos in the jams at the end of their classic tracks, were tasteful without being cliched heavy metal-ish. During one solo, a fan walked to the front of the stage and waved others to join him. And join him, they did as many of the fans flooded to the front. Dharma hammed it up by dropping to his knees and bending over toward the crowd, almost to the point where their fingertips could touch him.

It was a bit funny to watch but the fans that were able to get up close and personal no doubt reveled in the experience. A big surprise to me was the axemanship of Richie Castellano, who also played keyboards and sang. Castellano, Dharma and Bloom could probably wander around any city and not be recognized due to their non rock-star appearances. I had never heard of Castellano but he proved to be an intense and formidable performer in his own right, on vocals and instruments.

Early on, fans were shouting out for "Don't Fear The Reaper" and Eric Bloom responded, "Oh, we're going to play all that stuff, don't worry. You are going to stick around for a while, right? I mean, It's not every day we're here."

Songs played included "Summer of Love," "O.D.'d on Life Itself," "Burnin' For You," "Shooting Shark," "ME 262," "Cities on Flame," "Golden Age of Leather," "Black Blade," "The Last Days of May," "Godzilla," "Don't Fear The Reaper," "Hot Rails to Hell," and "The Red and the Black."

Opening for the band was Alverstone, a young, local band that are obviously into The Ramones, Strokes, New York Dolls. They received a fair amount of applause and while are promising, are not quite ready to headline.

Overall, this was a very fine classic rock concert.

During some numbers, there were three guitarists grooving really loud. I don't know if they are having much of a career anymore, in the last 20 years, but they are still touring and recording and still bridge the gap between the sound of heavy metal and hard rock, without having to rely heavily on cliches to keep them going.

Yes, Eric Bloom played a cowbell during "Don't Fear The Reaper," and yes, the audience went nuts for that song.

I would see them again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, they had no merchandise for sale. They could have easily sold hundreds of t-shirts to the mostly older crowd.

My rating for this show is 4.5-out-of-5-stars.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Alleged briefing to President Reagan on UFOs posted online

Steve Hammons

What is claimed to be a transcript of a 1981 intelligence briefing to President Ronald Reagan about UFOs and extraterrestrial visitation to Earth was posted on the Web site on Oct. 30, 2007.

According to the moderator of the Web site and a related e-mail stream discussion list, the transcript is from a briefing Reagan received at Camp David, Maryland, between Friday and Sunday, March 6 and 8, 1981.

Those present reportedly included several advisors to the president, CIA Director William Casey and a CIA contract employee who worked within a group of “caretakers” safeguarding information and other resources regarding the UFO-ET issue.

The names of presidential advisors who are still living were redacted by the moderator during his preparation of the transcript for public consumption. Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and advisor Michael Deaver are named.

The Web site and discussion moderator indicates that Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel provided him with this information to be released to the public as part of an acclimation effort. That is, as part of preparation of the American public for more disclosure about the UFO-ET situation.

The transcript information posted is reported to be only part of the briefings to Reagan on these subjects.


In the transcript, Casey begins the briefing. “Mr. President, good morning. As we discussed in February, this briefing contains some very sensational and some very, very classified information. I am not sure, oh, well, I'm not going to make a decision on who you want in the room. That will be your decision, Mr. President.”

“This will be a real tough one to follow since the briefing starts back, historically speaking, that is, and runs up to recent times. I believe we have prepared a good chronological order of events. I'm sure you, Mr. President, will have many questions,” Casey reportedly stated.

After a discussion to determine who in the room had a “need to know,” the proper security clearance or had not previously been briefed on the matter, Casey continued, according to the transcript.

“…as you will see Mr. President, this stuff is pretty high up on the food chain. We call it ATS or ‘Above Top Secret.’ This stuff has its own classification and markings. We have a special container, special printers and copiers for this stuff. Every word of this material is printed on special paper then placed inside special covers.”

“The caretakers have taken special efforts to protect all of this stuff from being released inadvertently or copied by some unauthorized person.”

After further discussion about the information in the briefing, some advisors choose to leave the room. Casey then turns the meeting over to “The Caretaker.”

“Good morning, Mr. President. First of all, I would like to give you a bit of information on my background. But before that, please, Mr. President, if you have questions during this briefing, just interrupt me, sir.”

“I have been employed by the CIA for the past 31 years. I started the caretaking status of this project in 1960. We have a special group of people whom we call ‘Group 6,’ that cares for all this information.”

According to the transcript, Reagan was somewhat familiar with the topic, having previously received a one-hour briefing from Casey the previous January, and also had been exposed to other information, stating, “Well, I knew a little about this subject before. Back in 1970. Nixon had all of the good stuff and wanted to share it with some of his friends. Nixon showed me some papers. Not sure about who authored them, but they ... huh ... well something about New Mexico and other places.”

“Nixon was pretty ... huh ... well, you know, fascinated with it. He showed me something, some kind of object or device that came from one of their craft. Something that was taken from the New Mexico crash site. I don't know if, well ... huh ... do we know what it was? I don't think we knew or maybe now, after 11 years, we might know.”

After a short break, The Caretaker began the briefing.

“Mr. President, as was mentioned earlier, I must say, that this briefing has the highest classification within the U.S. government. I will start with a slide presentation. I have most of this briefing on the slides, but I also have an outline that I have passed out to each in attendance.”

“The United States of America has been visited by extraterrestrial visitors since 1947. We have proof of that. However, we also have some proof that earth has been visited for many thousands of years by various races of extraterrestrial visitors.”

“Mr. President, I'll just refer to those visits as ETs. In July, 1947, a remarkable event occurred in New Mexico. During a storm, two ET spacecraft crashed. One crashed southwest of Corona, New Mexico and one crashed near Datil, New Mexico. The U.S. Army eventually found both sites and recovered all of the debris and one live Alien. I'll refer to this live Alien as ‘EBE 1.’"

“Mr. President, EBE means ‘Extraterrestrial Biological Entity.’ It was a code designated to this creature by the U.S. Army back in those days. This creature was not human and we had to decide on a term for it. So, scientists designated the creature as EBE 1.”

Reagan asked, “Do we or did we have others? The number ‘1’ would seem to indicate we had others.”

The Caretaker responds, “Yes, we had others.”

“All the debris and EBEs recovered from the first crash site were taken to Roswell Army Air Field, Roswell, New Mexico. EBE was treated for some minor injuries and then taken to Los Alamos National Laboratories, which was the safest and most secure location in the world. Special accommodations were made for EBE. The debris was eventually transferred to Dayton, Ohio, home of the Air Force Foreign Technology Division.”

“The second crash site wasn't discovered until 1949 by some ranchers. There were no live Aliens at this site. All this debris went to Sandia Army Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

Reagan asks, “OK, a question, regarding the first site, how many aliens were in the spaceship?”

“Five dead aliens and one alive. The bodies of the dead aliens were transported to Wright Field in Ohio and kept in a form of deep freeze. They were later transported to Los Alamos where special containers were made to keep the bodies from decaying.”

The Caretaker continues, “There were four dead aliens in the second crash site. Those bodies were in an advanced state of decaying. They had been in the desert for the past two years. Animals and time got to those bodies. The remains were transported to Sandia Base and eventually onto Los Alamos.”

“We determined both crashed spaceships were of similar design and the bodies of the aliens were all identical. They looked exactly the same. They had the same height, weight and physical features. Here are the photographs of the aliens.”

“They don't have any similar characteristics of a human, with exception of there eyes, ears and a mouth. Their internal body organs are different. Their skin is different, their eyes, ears and even breathing is different. Their blood wasn't red and their brain was entirely different from human.”

“We could not classify any part of the aliens with humans. They had blood and skin, although considerably different than human skin. Their eyes had two different eyelids. Probably because their home planet was very bright.”

“ … EBE stayed alive until 1952 when it died. We learned a great deal from EBE. Although EBE did not have voice organs like humans, it was able to communicate with an operation performed by military doctors. EBE was extremely intelligent. It learned English quickly, mainly by listening to the military personnel who were responsible for EBE's safety and care.”

“EBE was housed in a special area at Los Alamos and Sandia Base. Although many different military doctors, scientists and a select number of civilians studied EBE, it never became upset or angry.”

“EBE helped us learn from all the items found in the two crash sites. EBE showed us how some of the items worked, such as a communications device. It also showed us how various other devices worked.”

“EBE did explain where he lives in the universe. We call this star system Zeta Reticuli, which is about 40 light-years from Earth. EBE's planet was within this star system.”

“It took the EBE spaceship nine of our months to travel the 40 light-years. Now, as you can see, that would mean the EBE spaceship traveled faster than the speed of light. But, this is where it gets really technical.”

“Their spaceships can travel through a form of ‘space tunnels’ that gets them from point A to point B faster without having to travel at the speed of light. I cannot fully understand how they travel, but we have many top scientists who can understand their concept.”


The Caretaker goes on to give Reagan a history of presidential involvement and some of the programs involved over the decades dealing with the UFO-ET situation.

“As to some history. The original project, started back in 1947, was called ‘Project GLEEM.’ This project contained volumes of documented information collected from the beginning of our investigation of UFOs and Identified Alien Craft, or ‘IAC.’"

“The project was originally established in the early '50s by, first President Truman and then by order of President Eisenhower, under control of the National Security Council. President Truman established a group of people to handle this project. The group was called Majority 12 or ‘MJ-12.’"

“In 1966, the project's name was changed to ‘Aquarius.’ The project was funded by confidential funds appropriated within the intelligence community's budget. The recovery of these alien spacecraft led the United States on an extensive investigative program to determine whether these aliens posed a direct threat to our national security.”

“As you might remember, Mr. President, our country openly investigated UFO sightings under projects Grudge, Sign and finally Blue Book.”

“The United States felt relatively sure the aliens' exploration of Earth was non-aggressive and non-hostile. It was also established that the aliens' presence did not directly threaten the security of the United States.”

“Secondly, the public was beginning to believe that UFOs were real. The NSC felt this public feeling could lead to a nationwide panic if we disclosed everything we knew about UFOs and alien visitation.”

“When the Air Force officially closed ‘Blue Book’ in December 1969, Project Aquarius continued operation under control of NSC/MJ-12. The NSC felt investigation of UFO sightings and incidents had to continue in secrecy without any public knowledge.”

“The reasoning behind the decision was this: If the Air Force continued its investigation of UFOs, eventually some non-cleared and non-briefed Air Force or DOD civilian officials would obtain the facts behind Project Aquarius.”

“Obviously, for operational security reasons, this could not be allowed. In order to continue the investigation of UFO sightings and incidents in secrecy, investigators from CIA/DCE and MJ-12 were assigned to military investigative units with orders to investigate all legitimate UFO/IAC sightings and incidents.”

“These agents are presently operating at various locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. All reports are filtered either directly or indirectly to MJ-12. These agents are collecting reports of UFO/IAC sightings and incidents occurring on or near sensitive governmental installations.”

Reagan suggests a break. And then the meeting resumes.

“In the 1976 MJ-12 report, it was estimated that the aliens' technology was many thousands of years ahead of ours. Our scientists speculated that until our technology develops to a level equal to the aliens, we cannot understand the large volume of scientific information we have gained from the aliens' craft. This advancement of our technology may take many hundreds of years.”

“ … Mr. President, time is very different on the Eben Planet, which, by the way, we call SERPO. Their day is approximately 40 hours. That is measured by the movement of their two suns. The solar system containing SERPO is a binary star system, or two suns, rather than one, like our solar system.”


Picking up on an implication within a statement from Casey, Reagan asks, “Are you telling me there are different races or species, as you said, visiting Earth at the same time?”

“Can you tell me how many different species have visited us?” Reagan asks.

The Caretaker states, “At least five.”

Reagan: “Are they all friendly?”

An advisor who is not named in the transcript reportedly says, “Mr. President, that is a very difficult question to answer. There are many parameters that we follow to evaluate the threat. However, we have little intelligence on four of the five.”

“We have plenty of intel on the Ebens ... gee ... they've given us everything we asked for! They have also helped us to understand the other four species. I'm afraid to say, Mr. President and please don't misunderstand my words, but we think one of the species is very hostile.”

Reagan is clear about his position. “I'm the President of the United States. I should know if we are endangered by some threat from outer space. If you have something to say about a threat posed by this one species of aliens, then I want to hear it.

Casey explains. “Mr. President, we have intelligence that would indicate this one species of aliens have abducted people from Earth. They have performed scientific and medical tests on these humans. To the best of our knowledge, no humans have been killed.”

“We have captured one of these hostile aliens. This gets into some very, very sensitive areas, Mr. President. I strongly suggest we end this discussion and move on to any further questions you might have and then get back to this. I don't think we are prepared to provide you with accurate answers to your questions about the potentially hostile aliens at this time,” Casey reportedly says.

Reagan: “OK, but expect this to be given to me as soon as possible. I want to know everything about these hostile creatures so I .... or I mean we should start forming policies on how to deal with them … do we have operational war plans on this?”

Presidential advisor (name redacted): “Yes, Mr. President, we have war plans on all potential threats to our country.”

The Caretaker explains further, “We call the hostile aliens simply that, HAV, meaning Hostile Alien Visitors. MJ-12 placed that code on them back in the '50s.”

Reagan asks, “You mean to say, these H-A-Vs have been visiting us and kidnapping our people since the '50s?”

Casey: “Mr. President, we have some indication that they might have been doing this for some time. But we really have to consider all of the evidence, listed in our reports, and compare that to some of the open source information.”


The Caretaker: “In order to protect all this information and the fact that the United States Government has evidence of our planet being visited by extraterrestrials, we developed over the years a very effective program to safeguard the information. We call it ‘Project DOVE.’ It is a complex series of operations by our military intelligence agencies to disinform the public.”

Reagan recalls stories from his days as a Hollywood actor. “I always knew there was some form of cooperation between our government and the motion picture industry. I heard rumors over the years ... even during my acting days.”

The Caretaker confirms this. “Well, Mr. President, the first cooperative venture was the movie, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. That was a cooperative venture with the United States Air Force and the movie industry.”

Reagan: “That movie, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, was that one of them? I guess no "Bonzo" movies were involved. (Transcript: “Loud laughter heard.” Moderator’s note in transcript: “Reagan played the character Professor Peter Boyd in the Sept 1951 movie, BEDTIME FOR BONZO where a chimpanzee named Bonzo was his costar.)

Regarding Reagan’s question about CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, The Caretaker responds, “Yes, Mr. President, we provided the basic subject matter for that movie.”

Reagan: “Was it based on a real incident?”

The Caretaker: “Mr. President, in 1964, we were able to have our very first controlled encounter with the Ebens. Let me first give you the background. EBE was a mechanic, not a scientist. He was still able to teach us some of the Eben language. Their language was very difficult for our linguists to learn because it consisted of tones, not words.”

“However, we were able to translate some basic words. EBE showed us their communications device. It was a strange looking device that had three parts. Once assembled, the device sent out signals, something like our Morse code system, although there was a problem.”

“During the crash in 1947, one part of this communication system was broken. EBE was unable to repair it until our scientists found some items that could be used in place of the broken parts. Once the communication device was repaired, EBE sent our messages. We had to trust EBE as to the contents of those messages.”

“You can imagine what some of our military commanders thought of this. EBE could be sending out a distress call that could result in some invasion. But that, of course, never happened. EBE continued to send messages until his death. But once he died, then we were on our own. We were able to crudely operate the device. We sent several messages out over a six month period (1953). But we did not receive any return messages.”

“Mr. President, EBE sent out six messages. One letting his home planet know that he was alive and his comrades were dead, another explaining the two crashes, the third was a request to be rescued, the fourth was a message suggesting a meeting between his leaders and our leaders. The last message suggested some form of an exchange program.”

After discussion about how linguists and other communications experts were able to establish communications with the Ebens, and the years of effort involved, The Caretaker gets to a main point.

“Over a period of a few years, we could send and receive information. We finally received a startling message from the Ebens. They wanted to visit Earth, retrieve their spacemen bodies and meet with Earthlings.”

“They provided a time, date and location. We figure that the Ebens were continually visiting Earth and had probably mapped it. However, the date was about eight years in the future.”

“Our military figured something was wrong and that maybe the Ebens were confusing Earth time with Eben time. After a long series of messages, it was determined the Ebens would land on Earth on Friday, April 24, 1964.”

“Our government, specifically, MJ-12 met in secret to plan the event. Decisions were made, then changed many times. We had just about 25 months from the time we finally received their message of the date to prepare for their arrival. Several months into the planning, President Kennedy decided to approve a plan to exchange a special military team. The USAF was tasked as the lead agency.”

“The USAF officials picked special civilian scientists to assist in the planning and crew selection. The team members' selection process was the hardest to accomplish. Several plans were suggested and then changed. It took months for the planners to decide on the selection criteria for each team member. They decided that each member must be military, single, no children and a career member. They had to be trained in different skills.”

“Mr. President, a team of 12 men were selected.”

“When it came time for the meeting, we were ready. The landing occurred in New Mexico. We had everything prepared. We had a hoax landing location just in case it was leaked. The landing occurred and we greeted the Ebens. However, a mix up happened. They were not prepared to accept our exchange personnel. Everything was placed on hold.”

“Finally in 1965, the Ebens landed in Nevada and we exchanged 12 of our men for one of theirs.”

“Mr. President. Our team of 12 went to the Eben planet for 13 years. The original mission called for a 10-year stay, however, because of the strange time periods on their planet, the team stayed three additional years. Two died on the planet and two decided to stay.”

Reagan: “OK, this is just amazing! I can see, about that movie. The movie was based on a real event. I saw that movie. 12 men left, along with Richard Dreyfuss.”

Casey: “Mr. President, yes, the movie was similar to the real event, at least the last part of the movie.”


This section of the alleged transcript of an intelligence briefing to Reagan can be read in full at The moderator has also provided additional background information on the Web site.

He indicates that more similar releases may be coming as part of public acclimation activities.

Is this transcript real or phony? Is it completely accurate, completely false or some combination of truth and deception? There is really no sure way for readers to know, at this point in time.

Like other information on about an alleged exchange program with ETs and all of the other reports out there about UFOs, it can be quite difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction.

However, sometimes truths can be told within fictional contexts. Fact-based fiction can provide good information and insight.

Did Reagan and our other presidents receive these kinds of briefings? Do the circumstances described in the alleged transcript actually exist, or something similar to them? Again, who knows?

Yet, we know these things are possible. And, deep down, we may have gut instincts and intuition about the situation that may make us wonder if there is quite a bit of truth in this kind of information.

If we look deep inside our hearts and minds, and into the skies, maybe we will find some answers.

Concert Review: Ozzy Osbourne / Rob Zombie in Winnipeg, MB, Oct. 27, 2007

Around 9500 fans showed up at the MTS Centre to see Ozzy's third Winnipeg show in seven years, but I think many were actually bigger Rob Zombie fans.

Ozzy played about two or three songs from his weak new album, Black Rain. Classic material heard included "Crazy Train," "I Don't Know," "Mr. Crowley," "Suicide Solution," "Bark At The Moon," the ballad, "Mama I'm Coming Home" and Black Sabbath's "Paranoid."

Not so classic material played included "Fire In the Sky," "Not Going Away," and "I Don't Wanna Stop." Missing were favorites "Over The Mountain," "Flying High Again," "Iron Man," "No More Tears," "The Ultimate Sin," and "Journey To The Centre of Eternity."

Ozzy is a nostalgia act, like many veteran artists, and as such he continues to survive and draw fans largely based on the strength of his best material, as opposed to his new releases.

Ozzy's vocals were all right, but obviously past their prime.

Fortunately for us, he didn't take his shirt off like he did the last time I saw him, about seven years ago. He looked like he came from a workout with his black outfit appearing as sweats and a sweatband across his head.

Throughout the set, there was a video camera panning the crowd, which stopped on a woman who was jiggling her breasts. She noticed herself on camera and was really delighted to display them for all to see. Of course, a few exhibitionists decided to pull up their tops for the camera, including this one woman standing with her girlfriend beside me.

One guy in front of me realized that the camera was showing a woman with red horns and turned around to confirm that it was this young woman by me. He pointed toward her bare boobs with his full arm, obviously enjoying the scene and then decided to take a few steps toward her, to get into the party by copping a feel. Well, her friend was having none of that and sternly slapped his hand away.

As usual, Ozzy spent a fair amount of time trying to get the audience fired up with his constant beckoning of "Make some f**king noise. I can't f**king hear you!"

I know Zakk Wylde is a guitar hero to many and is successful with his own band, Black Label Society, but....his ten-minute guitar solo was woefully lame.

Maybe I'm spoiled after having seen Eric Clapton solo brilliantly without appearing to break much of a sweat, earlier this year. In comparison, Wylde was about as good as the guys from Twisted Sister. Randy Rhoads, I miss you.

Rob Zombie played like a headliner and his stage set up was easily the best that I've seen a supporting act perform with, not to mention the endless flames that blasted out in synch with the music. The set boasted six video screens which accompanied all the songs with scary and campy animation and snippets from films. Most of the footage seemed to revolve around vampires, zombies, werewolves, Herman Munster and most common of all, breasts, some clothed, some not but all jiggling.

Zombie's set opened up with the band wearing skull masks, which reminded me of how the last Alice Cooper show began, with the band in masks. The drum kit was on a platform around 20 feet in the air, and the platform itself appeared to be a Japanese demon face, almost "Simpsonized."

Early on in the set, during "More Human Than Human," a 10 foot tall robot walked on stage and proceeded to thrash around and pursue the musicians.

Of course, this is straight out of the Iron Maiden playbook that came up with the gimmick over two decades ago with their mascot Eddie. Songs performed and accompanied by stunning videos, included American Witch, Living Dead Girl, Dragula.

LA's In This Moment, fronted by a female vocalist who looked as if she stepped off a Lawrence Welk set in her dress (costume), were quite good with their dramatic and powerful melodic metal, not unlike Lacuna Coil and Evanescence.

I would see Ozzy Osbourne again, but only if I ended up on the floor within the first ten rows or if he released a really excellent album. While I wasn't Rob Zombie fan and still find his music sounding a lot alike, I might see him if he headlined. He truly earned a second look.

Overall, I would rate the entire evening as a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Ozzy's set was worth three stars while Zombie's was easily 4 stars.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

An Open Letter To Steve Ballmer

31 October, 2007.

An Open Letter To Steve Ballmer

Dear Steve,

Hi, this is François, from Mandriva.

I’m sure we are way too small for you to have heard of us. You know, we are one of these Linux company who is working hard to make its place in the market. We publish a Linux Distro, called Mandriva Linux. Mandriva Linux 2008, our last edition, has a pretty good review and we’re proud of it. You should try it, I’m sure you’d like it. We also happen to be one of the Linux companies that did not sign an agreement with your company (nobody’s perfect).

We recently closed a deal with the Nigerian Government. Maybe you heard about it, Steve. They were looking for an affordable hardware+software solution for their schools. The initial batch was 17,000 machines. We had a good deal to respond to their need: the Classmate PC from Intel, with a customized Mandriva Linux solution. We presented the solution to the local government, they liked the machine, they liked our system, they liked what we offered them, especially the fact that it was open, and that we could customize it for their country and so on.

Then, your people get in the game and the deal got more competitive. I would not say it got dirty, but someone could have said that. Your team fought and fought again the deal, but still the customer was happy with the CMPC and Mandriva.

We actually closed the deal, we took the order, we qualified the software, we got the machine shipped. To conclude, we did our job. And, the machine are being delivered right now.

Now, we hear a different story from the customer : “we shall pay for the Mandriva Software as agreed, but we shall replace it by Windows afterward.”

Wow! I’m impressed, Steve! What have you done to these guys to make them change their mind like this? It’s quite clear to me, and it will be to everyone. How do you call what you just did Steve? There is various names for it, I’m sure you know them.

Of course, I will keep fighting this one and the next one, and the next one. You have the money, the power, and maybe we have a different sense of ethics you and I, but I still believe that hard work, good technology and ethics can win too.



PS: a message to our friends in Nigeria: it’s still time to do the right thing and make the right choice, you will get lots of support for it and excellent services!


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