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Friday, September 9, 2016

Music 2016 - Better or Worse?


Is Music in 2016 better or worse than 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996 or 2006? I'm a child of the 60's so I would vote for the 60's and 70's music with maybe a little late 50's foundation. Of course, the answer is dependent on how old you are and what music you grew up with. I have friends who are my age but grew up listening to Country music. My parents listened to the Pop and Jazz standards of the 30's, 40's and 50's so I was exposed to Ella, Frank, Bing, Perry, Duke, Count, Glenn, the Dorsey's, and many others. I still like that music on occasion. I listened to the early Rock 'n' Roll guys like Bill Haley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and of course Elvis. I liked it, but never fully embraced it. I liked the Doo Wop stuff more. My real love of music came in the early 60's with a combination of the Beach Boys and Surf music along with some Folk music and Soul music which was really made popular with the advent of Motown. There was the occasional Country song or artist that got my attention too. After the Surf craze, we had the British Invasion led by the Beatles. To be honest, there were several British groups I like more than the Beatles. The Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Zombies are a few of them. 

Now we get to the differences in music and it's consumption today vs then. We listened to AM radio for most of our music. We might have a couple of 33⅓ LPs and some 45 singles, but none of my friends had an extensive music library. In the 60's, the AM radio dial (there was little or no FM) was divided into pop standard/big band, classical, country and top 40 along with maybe a kind of news/NPR/public affairs station. I guess there may have been religious/gospel stations, but I don't remember them. The top 40 stations played whatever was on the charts so a Frank Sinatra song might be followed by The Miracles followed by the Beatles followed by Johnny Cash, followed by... It eventually was dominated by Rock, but it took several years. The good part was that we were exposed to all kinds of music and artists. The bad news was that we had to listen to stuff we didn't like and maybe wait a couple of hours for that song or two we really wanted to hear. 

I was lucky in that there were always at least two and sometimes more very good Top 40 stations in my town. We were experts at switching between the stations either with the pushbuttons on the car radio or the dial on our transistor radios. We could avoid the commercials and the songs we didn't like. 

Back then, you listened to what was on the air with limited choices. Today, there are a million choices. If you want to listen to only 1998 Rap, you can find it, although why would you. Radio stations are very specific now including pay/satellite radio. You don't just have Country, you have modern Country, classic Country, 70's Country and maybe Texas Country. You also have a plethora of streaming choices, some free and some subscription. That's all great but it can limit your exposure to new and different types of music if you let it. I have built 10 or 12 fairly specific Pandora stations but I usually shuffle all of them together when listening. I don't know if I fit the norm for my quest for variety or if most folks stick to a specific genre and/or time span. 

I have friends who only listen to Country or only Rock Oldies or young friends who only listen to Rap and Hip Hop. Seems very limiting to me. There is lotsa good music out there, also lotsa crap. Our options are so much better now. I can pretty much have music with me whenever I want and wherever I go. In fact, I do have all the music in the world with me all the time since I can get to it on my phone. I have about 800 of my songs downloaded on my phone so I can listen to them anytime, anywhere even without wi-fi or a cell signal. I also have over 7,500 songs that I own in the cloud. That's amazing for someone who once owned maybe 10 albums and an AM radio. That doesn't even include the streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, Amazon and others that have millions of songs available.

So while there is no doubt that there is more music more easily available now, that does not necessarily mean it is better. The fact that anyone can easily record a song and make it available on the internet guarantees that much of it will be crap. Some of those folks have no talent. It also means that a diamond in the rough can more easily be discovered.

Every era and genre has had its outstanding music and also its terrible and ridiculous music. No doubt, there is more music more readily available today than in any time in the past. It is also far less expensive, much of it free. Yes, back in the day we had free radio but you had to listen to what the DJ played.

The good news is that music continues to be important. The next generation has to find their own sound. They often think the prior generation's (AKA parent's music) music is old fashioned. Sometimes as they get older they realize there was some good stuff in that old music collection mom & dad had. 

Like many things in life, there is no definitive answer to which era or generation had the best music. The only thing we can say for sure is that it was different. Different doesn't mean good or bad, it just means different.

wjh

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - August 2016


  • A popular start to news and talk shows is for the host to give a brief synopsis of what's coming and then say "Shows name starts right now". That is a lie. The phrase is invariably followed by a commercial or a long introduction montage. Right now should mean right now, not in a few minutes.
  • Another BS job title. Hulu has a Senior VP & Head of Experience. What the hell is that?
  • Since newsbiz broadcasts can't preface stories that are days old with "breaking news", they now start with a graphic saying "developing news". 
  • I know lawyers need to work too, but do we really need to file a lawsuit for every little perceived slight? 
  • So, which is correct? Chili, Chile, Chilli, Chillie, Chilly? Depends.
  • It seems to me governors that badmouth Washington and the federal government the most are also the first to demand federal aid and assistance.
  • Am I the only one who thinks universities and athletic conferences should tell the NCAA to stick it? 
  • Zero tolerance rules and laws mean zero human judgment, zero responsibility and zero accountability. They are a cop-out.
  • Stephen Colbert does a fake confessional bit called "Midnight Confessions" yet he doesn't use the song Midnight Confessions as the theme. Sacrilegious. 
  • What purpose does Vanna White serve on Wheel of Fortune? The electronic puzzle board letters don't need to be turned. She is proof that you don't need intelligence and hard work to be successful.
  • Meaningless phrase that needs to be retired from our vernacular - "It is what it is".
  • Take it further - "It was what it was". "It will be what it will be".
  • How can there be overweight UPS/FedEx drivers in Texas during the summer? Hot truck and carrying packages to doors, sometimes upstairs, often at a run.
  • I keep seeing TV ads for car insurance that say you can save $400 by switching to (name an insurance company). My question is if I switch to that company and then switch again to a different company, can I save another $400?
  • Watching the Little League World Series reminds me how much difference there can be between 12 year olds. Some are still little kids and some are 6' tall and have facial hair. I was one of the little ones. Still am.
  • Why is Tony the Tiger's nose blue?
  • Every generation thinks the one before them is old fashion, they are near perfect and the one behind them is useless. Somehow civilization continues. 
  • Watching the Little League World Series, it is obvious that the star player on some teams is surprised that they are not the best player on the field, maybe for the first time ever. Those other teams have good players too. Some rise to the occasion, some look like they give up.
  • There is a show on Comedy Central titled @midnight. In the Central time zone it comes on at 11:00 and now that The Nightly Show has been canceled it comes on at 10:30. Always risky to have a time, day or Live in the show title. 
  • "We have launched an internal investigation" never precedes a job well done. What the spokesperson really means is "we are looking for a scapegoat".
  • Don't you just hate it when you smash a bug and red blood comes out? You just know it is yours.
  • When someone states "This is not about me", you can be pretty damn sure that it is all about them.
wjh

Friday, August 12, 2016

A-Roid

Crime doesn't pay, cheaters never win or is that all bullshit? It certainly seems so in the case of one Alex Rodriguez. On Sunday, August 7, 2016, the Yankees and Rodriguez announced that he will play his last game as a Yankee and presumably the last game of his major league career on Friday, August 12th. Because the Yankees are giving Rodriguez his unconditional release, they are on the hook for the remaining $27 million of his contract plus he theoretically could sign with another team. Let's hope that doesn't happen. 

To add insult to insult to injury, Rodriguez will be a special advisor and instructor to the Yankees organization. I don't know whether that job includes more pay or if it is rolled into the $27 million payout. He is also free to pursue broadcast jobs which would definitely pay him and which he will definitely get offers for. Now if you only look at the numbers from his 22 year career you might think all this is fine. An old star player fades into the sunset with a huge severance and thank you package. Just look at some of his numbers. 

That's not how I see it. This is an asshole who made more money than any other Major Leaguer while playing a good part if not the majority of his career while taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Then lying about it, gaming the system, mounting a legal and public relations defense and throwing others under the bus. He is baseball's version of Lance Armstrong only much richer. 

Young Alex was a helluva baseball player even at 18 years old. Of course, who knows whether he was already juiced even then. He was the first overall pick in the 1993 draft and was a part-time starter in Seattle by '94. He had seven terrific years there before signing a $252 million, 10 year contract with the Texas Rangers. It was a record setting contract and wound up hamstringing the Rangers budget for several years. Although he had all-star and MVP numbers while in Texas, he later admitted that he used PEDs during his time there. He also exhibited an aloof and phony demeanor during that time. After three years in Texas, he was traded to the Yankees although the Rangers continued to pay a significant portion of his salary, despite which he badmouthed the organization. He was mostly successful in NY although again the PED problem popped up. He also had several incidents of being an ass both on and off the field. 

This blog is not meant to be a recap of the Rodreguez career. It is meant to convey my total disgust at a first class cheater and pretty miserable excuse for a human being. The fact that he was able to collect almost $400 million in salary despite being at least a two time PED offender speaks volumes. Sure, he was suspended for a season but when you're already that rich what is the real punishment. On top of that, the Yankees were obligated to take him back after the suspension and pay him the remaining $50+ million on his contract. 

Back before the 1970's, the players were taken advantage of by the owners. That power pendulum started to swing towards the players when Marvin Miller became the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Now that pendulum has swung too far in the player's favor. They have consistently blocked meaningful testing and punishment for PED use. Teams should be able to void the contracts of players who fail drug tests or other offenses. Rodriguez should have lost many more millions and been kicked to the street.

Instead, he get's gently let go at full pay from a team and a league that he trashed and with a free pass to possibly play again. The other disturbing point is that Rodriguez will almost certainly end up as a baseball analyst on one of the TV networks that broadcasts baseball. I will bet you large sums of money that we will see him as a regular commentator during the 2016 postseason. That will only be the beginning of his lucrative broadcast career in the future. 

A-Roid or A-Fraud earned those nicknames and he deserves to fade into the background never to be heard from again. His $400 million should be enough. Unfortunately, the Yankees, MLB and media started their image rehabilitation of A-Roid last season and it will continue. Let's hope the Hall of Fame voters don't forget what a fraud and disruptive force he was.

So who will be A-Roid's next employer? Will it be the Miami Marlins or some other desperate team? Will it be the MLB TV Network, Fox Sports, TBS or ESPN? 

Cheaters mostly win nowadays and big cheaters are even bigger winners. 

wjh

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - July 2016



  • Since that child was killed by an alligator at Disney World, every gator siting anywhere has become a life threatening event that gets top coverage on the news.
  • I can't decide which would be worse in my old age. A failing body with a still functioning mind or a deteriorating brain trapped in a functioning body. I hope it all ends evenly and quickly. 
  • I'm old enough now that I can not ever contract an early onset disease or condition. 
  • Our sense of outrage is way off kilter. The news goes ballistic when a shark or alligator attack occurs. There are fewer than one deaths per year in the US from shark attacks. About the same for alligator attacks. Yet, there are over 30,000 US deaths each year from traffic "accidents" and another 30K+ deaths from firearms. Kinda screwed priorities and concerns.
  • Snakes get a bad rap too. They only cause about 5 or 6 deaths per year.
  • Same theme. If the news and social media didn't make a big deal out of (name an event). Would you give a shit?
  • I watch some old TV shows on cable. It is amazing how often the same guest star shows up on back to back on different shows. Today, James Coburn was on Combat and Stagecoach West.
  • Many gun advocates, including tRUMP, say that if more "good" people were armed, they could mitigate the terrorists and other bad guys. There is currently more than one gun per person in this country. When are those well armed folks going to defend the innocents? How many more guns per person (GPP) do we need?
  • Prostitutes screw folks one at a time. Politicians screw folks by the thousands or millions. I like prostitutes way more.
  • Seems every time there is a product recall, the first statement the manufacturer makes is "Safety is our number one priority". Just more corporate and legal BS.
  • If you want to see some bad acting, mute the sound. It is an amazing difference. 
  • How often do you hear a tone on TV or in a song and you reach to check your phone? I think some advertisements do it on purpose.
  • It is very hard to be sarcastic these days unless you stick a fucking smiley face after your comment.   Folks will either miss the sarcasm or be offended.
  • I'm an Eric Clapton fan, but I can't keep straight which of his songs were done with which group. Cream, Derek & The Dominoes, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie or a solo.
  • If we were to go back to most of our favorite stores or restaurants from our youth, we would be appalled at how primitive they were. The only exception might be some of the grand old department stores since we have no great department stores anymore.
  • "Thoughts and prayers" is a phrase that shows up after every tragedy. It should be obvious that neither thoughts or prayers actually fix the problem.
  • Thought I had a smudge on my glasses. Took them off and I still had a blurred view. Seems the smudge was on my eye.
  • It's impossible to do wash in cold water during the summer in Texas. Closest I can do is warm since the water coming out of my cold water tap is 85°.
  • Thankfully the label on the tamales I just bought says in bold letters "Remove husks before eating". No wonder I always thought tamales were so tough to chew and digest. 
  • Why is it you can proofread an email or post a dozen times and not find an error? Yet, in those milliseconds between hitting the send key and it disappearing from the screen, a glaring error will become abundantly clear.
  • What would happen to The Open (The British Open golf tournament) if Scotland splits from England? Could it still be held at the Scottish courses like St. Andrew's and Royal Troon? Or, would it only be held on Scottish courses since the Royal & Ancient Golf Association is based at St. Andrew's?
wjh

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - June 2016



  • I see drug commercials on TV for non-small cell cancer drugs. Couldn't they name it big cell cancer or medium cell cancer?
  • In another TV drug commercial, they tell you to ask your doctor for single dose Viagra. It's a package with one pill. Couldn't you just put one pill in a baggie?
  • Seems like every week I see or read a news story about airline employees making stupid decisions concerning passengers. Do airlines hire a high percentage of idiots, racists or both?
  • Was reminiscing about our high school graduation with old classmates. Back then we knew everything, were fearless and had no real responsibilities. Times have changed.
  • Interesting, $1 in the year I was born is the equivalent of $11 in 2016. A little over 1,000% inflation.
  • Did Edward R. Morrow and Walter Cronkite pay attention to ratings? 
  • Advertised on an infomercial for $119.95, special offer for $39.95, actually worth $1.95. Truth in advertising.
  • If the seas rise because of climate change, will we have to recalibrate the height of everything? Will Denver have to be renamed the 0.874 mile high city?
  • When we watch TV and movies made in 2016 in future years, will they seem dated? Disregard the technology changes.
  • Same theme, men's hairpieces certainly have improved over the years. Still fake, but not as ridiculous. 
  • Old sci-fi movies and TV used to have crappy special effects but better stories.
  • I think we should stop naming stuff (roads, schools, libraries, parks...) after people. Seems those people often are not as wonderful as we thought or their beliefs are no longer in vogue. 
  • Often times conservatives/Republicans think liberals/Democrats are idiots and vice versa. Different doesn't mean stupid, different means different. OK, sometimes the other side is stupid. 
  • Remember back when if a friend or classmate died, it was because of an accident or a war. Now it's because of health or old age. 
  • When did pessimism become the dominant view of America?
  • Will this year's disgusting presidential run mark the beginning or end of slash and burn campaigns? 
  • As you get older, be careful about taking time out from your exercise/activity routine. I'm at an age where it takes six months to get fairly fit and six hours to lose it. Not fair.
  • It seems to me that the idols and heroes of our youth are about five to 10 years older than we are. I have several examples if needed. One is the recent death of Muhammad Ali who died at 74. He easily fit into that five to ten year age difference.
  • Based on the number of unintelligible and error filled Facebook posts, it appears many don't realize you can actually edit or delete a post.
  • What happens when you think you find the love of your life but you are not the love of their life? 
  • If you think there is only one perfect mate, you are pretty damn picky. There are seven billion people in the world.
  • While watching the Kingston Trio PBS concert, I wondered how somebody could go from guitar to banjo to mandolin to fiddle without their fingers getting very confused. Then I remembered that back in my old days in IT at a bank I often went from keypunch to 10 key adding machine without a thought. Those keypads were backward from each other. Some copyright© or patent BS from IBM. Not quite the same.
  • When did it become acceptable for men to fashion a ridiculous hair style rather than admit they were bald or balding?
  • When watching old TV shows and movies, I'm amazed at the amount of smoking going on. Back then, I never even noticed it.
  • I'm convinced that there were some actors back in the day who wouldn't be able to act without a cigarette. It was a great prop.
  • It's pretty easy to lose or gain a day when you are retired. Is it Wednesday or Thursday?
  • Remember when Trumpy said he could kill someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any support. He seems out to prove that with his constant bigoted and stupid remarks.
  • "Accidental Overdose" - one of the most overused phrases of our time. How can you tell if it's accidental?
  • Although used interchangeably, "couldn't care less" and "could care less" are exact opposites. Figure it out. Grammer counts.
  • A now obsolete term - "carbon copy". Do any young folks even know where it comes from?
  • Remember, it is always way easier to criticize than to fix or actually do correctly in the first place.
  • There is now such a thing as a "YouTube Star". No comment.
  • Isn't "neither - nor" a double negative? 
  • It seems like if you have nice clothes on while cooking or eating, there will be some spillage, splatters, stain, drips or some other accident. Wear that 10 year old t-shirt with holes in it and you can't get food on it if you try. 
  • Remember back in your youth when body parts pretty much worked the same every day? Now it's a complete crap shoot. 
  • I'm not sure if getting an Amazon Prime membership was the best decision or just the most expensive. So easy to spend money online, but shipping is free.
  • It seems to me that the most armed people are also the most paranoid and afraid.
  • Nowadays, when I refer to someone as an "old friend", it could mean a friend who is old or a longtime friend. Of course, most of the longtime friends are also old.
  • When did SUVs become crossovers?
  • Is "heat index" a useful metric or is it just something to make us feel worse?
  • "wind chill" - see above.
  • What are all the teenagers and hotdogs with very loud cars/trucks going to do when cars are electric?
  • Leave it to the Post Office to figure out how to screw us. They sold "Forever" stamps for 49¢ and then lower the first class letter rate to 47¢.
  • I think "Study Hall" should be a real class where they teach students how to study. Not just a place for troublemakers.
  • How often do you try to correct an immediately caught misspelled word only to correct the wrong letter(s)? Try again. After about six tries at various combinations of backspaces, deletes, inserts and replacements, the damn word is still wrong. Just start over, it's faster.
  • When did our doctors become pill pushers instead of healers? 
  • Shouldn't Saturday Night Live be called Saturday Night Rerun when it is not an original airing? Any others? Isn't that Regis Lee and Kelly Lee program called Live with...?
wjh

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Kingston Trio Celebration


I watched the PBS fundraising concert by the Kingston Trio and friends. I was looking forward to it because back in the 1960's I was a big K3 fan. I was also excited because the promo showed Bob Shane, a founding K3 member, singing Scotch and Soda, one of my all-time favorite songs.

Well, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I haven't seen the New Kingston Trio since Bob Shane Retired a few years ago. Since then, there are no original members still with the group. There is also no outstanding singer and maybe only one outstanding musician. When they are singing harmony together, it is OK. Unfortunately, none of the new members can replicate the voices of Nick Reynolds or Bob Shane on the solo or lead parts.

The Kingston Trio is not the only group that has deteriorated. The Limelighters were on the bill and if anything were worse than the new K3. I don't think any of the Limelighters are the originals either.

I also had forgotten that folk groups need to explain the origin and meaning of a song before they sing it. 

Barry McGuire, originally from The New Christie Minstrels, sang his song Greenback Dollar. He didn't appreciably upgrade the performances. 

Trini Lopez joined the K3 for a song. No improvement there either.

Bob Shane was joined by Al Jardine and Timothy B. Smith for a rendition of Scarlett Ribbons. Shane's voice was rather weak and the other two didn't contribute much. Bob stuck around to join the new K3 on a rendition of Tom Dooley. Just OK and Shane was better than the new guys. He showed some power and volume.




Then came the highlight. The Great Bob Shane walked onto the stage carrying his portable oxygen tank, with tubes and cannula in place. He stepped up to the microphone and nailed Scotch and Soda. None of the weakness in his voice from the previous songs. 

After that, Bob and his oxygen tank left the stage rather unceremoniously.

The last tribute was a rendition of M.T.A. by the new K3 and Nick Reynold's son, Josh. Again, the new generation didn't measure up to the originals. Josh is no match on vocals with his father. He did sport a similar four string tenor guitar like his father played. 

To end it all, the guests, except for Bob Shane, joined the new K3 onstage to close out the evening. Not very inspiring.

I still like the Kingston Trio (the old K3). If you do too, skip this concert and listen to an original CD, vinyl or YouTube video. 

We still have our memories and they are good ones.

wjh

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Brain Farts II


  • Had a red stain on my left sock. Thought I was bleeding. Turns out it was pasta sauce from a kitchen splatter.
  • Came out of the store, got on my bike, took off and reached for my sunglasses on my hat. They weren't there. Panic, they are expensive glasses, where could I have dropped them? About to turn around when I realized that they were on my face. When did I put them on? 
  • Was absent-mindedly picking at a callous on my toe when I thought the whole end of that toe was going to peel off. It was then I realized that it was actually a band-aid I had put over a blister. 
  • Have you ever gotten pissed when you find an empty toilet paper holder, no paper towels on the cardboard tube, or any other number of similar annoyances? Who was the inconsiderate SOB? Me too, then I realize that I live alone.
  • There really is no reason to store the colander in the fridge after you wash it. The cabinet next to the fridge is just fine.
  • I vigorously tried to get a stain off the kitchen backsplash the other day. Stubborn little devil. Finally realized it was a shadow. 
  • Many times I have also tried to clean a stain on a carpet or furniture that turned out to be a shadow. 
  • Got up the other day and put on my reading glasses that I keep on the bedstand so I could check my phone. Walked to the living room, sat down at my PC and put my living room glasses on right over my bedroom glasses. Pretty blurry and not very comfortable.
  • Couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to fast-forward a show I recorded. Turns out I was watching it live.
  • I'm pretty sure that I will go to the grave never understanding why people want to pierce their body.
  • Opened the oven door, bent over to pull out the rack to check on the food. My glasses fell off my face and onto the 400° oven door. Almost bounced into the oven proper. Luckily I was able to grab them before the lens melted.
  • Guess I didn't close the front door properly and certainly didn't lock it the other night. Woke up the next morning and it was about a foot ajar. Temps were in the 30's that night and it was damn chilly in the house. 
  • Never grab ice or anything else out of the freezer with wet hands. I sometimes do and usually regret it.
  • Was shaving the other day. Lathered up, shaved my neck (that's where I always start) and got distracted by something. Back to the sink and I almost just rinsed off the rest of the shaving cream without shaving. Last minute save when my brain woke up again.
  • The other night during a power outage, I still flipped on the light switch when I entered a room. That's OK, I flipped it off when I left the room. 
wjh