Thursday, August 29, 2013

1963 or MCMLXIII

by Bill Holmes 

This is the fiftieth anniversary of 1963. We are being reminded of that with documentaries and news shows about the March on Washington. We'll be reminded again in November on the fiftieth anniversary of a tragic event. In some ways it seems every bit of the fifty years ago, in other ways it seems like just yesterday. Here are some of my thoughts, at least those I can remember, of that year.

In 1963 I was finishing my sophomore year and starting my junior year of high school. That means this account will be through the eyes of a 16 year old. A 16 year old middle class white male, attending a Catholic high school and living in a racist southern city. Sixteen is a confusing age for us human beings. We are becoming adults but are nowhere near ready to be an adult. Society and our parents are giving us more freedoms and responsibilities. Our hormones are raging as are the pimples. Some of the girls become much more noticeable. Many reach our final height by this age often before our muscles and coordination are even close to being ready to deal with the new frame. I never had a growth spurt in 1963 or any other year. I'm still waiting. I did get the pimple spurt, I'm hoping to outgrow it soon.

When you go to a four year high school it's a relief to be a sophomore. While you are far from a top dog you are no longer the lowest kid in the pecking order. Some of the upperclassmen know you by name and may even acknowledge your existence. Some of the female sophomores may be dating upperclassmen. It didn't much work the other way. The junior and senior girls didn't have much use for us sophomore guys. While that dating activity took a few sophomore girls out of our dating pool it did get us closer to the juniors and seniors. If your best girl friend (not girlfriend) or neighbor from second grade is dating a senior then every once in awhile you'll be around too. They get to know who you are and certainly wouldn't make fun of you in front of their girlfriend and your friend.

One of the first big events of 1963 was my sixteenth birthday. You probably read about it in the paper or saw the announcement on Cronkite. At that time in Florida you could get a restricted drivers license at 14 and a full license at 16. I had been driving for two years during daylight hours and with an adult licensed driver. I knew how to drive. I had driven on highways, I had driven some couple hour shifts on a trip from Florida to New Jersey and back. I was ready. I did odd jobs for a very nice widow in the neighborhood. She had a VW Beetle, our car was a 1956 Buick without power steering. I figured her VW would be way easier to parallel park and square off the turns during my driving test than the Buick tank. In the summer of 1962 I had taken a driver's ed class at the local public high school (there are stories there too). Our Catholic school didn't have the time or inclination to offer a non-academic course such as driver's ed. In that driver's ed class I had chosen a stick shift VW over the automatic Ford Comet (or whatever it was) for the car to do my training drives. So, I knew how to drive stick shift (AKA manual transmission) and I knew how to drive the neighbor's car. We took a couple of test runs in the parking lot of Philips Mall so I could get the feel for the clutch and shift. One day after school around my birthday this lovely lady took me to the driver's license testing place on Beach Blvd. Neither of my parents went with me. I'm sure Dad was at work but I have no idea why my Mom didn't go. I guess I didn't need a parent there to sign anything. I passed easily in her small car. I think she was almost as happy as I was. I learned later that the reason was that now I could drive to the store for her or run other errands. Of course I didn't mind. Now I had my full unrestricted driver's license. The problem was I didn't have a car and had to negotiate with Dad for use of the family behemoth. That was not easy and of course I quickly made it much more difficult.

Shortly after I got my license Dad let me take the car alone one night to fill up with gas. Of course back then that meant an attendant pumped the gas and they also cleaned the windshield and checked the oil. I don't remember which gas station I went to, there were several within a few blocks of our house. I do remember that I calculated the longest way home possible. That was my mistake. I wound up on Atlantic Blvd. close to my high school. At a red light, a former neighbor pulled up beside me. He was a former neighbor because Interstate 95 came right through our neighborhood and took their house but not ours. We waved and revved our engines. You know what happened next. When the light turned green we took off. I don't remember what he was driving, I'd guess a Ford since that's what his family always had. I was in the huge white Buick. It was heavy but it had a big V-8 engine too. We raced a few blocks and I don't remember who won. I slowed down and turned onto Spring Park Rd. while he continued straight onto Beach Blvd. The cop who was sitting in a darkened parking lot (maybe the Winn-Dixie or was it still a Lovett's) decided to follow me onto Spring Park. My friend got off completely free. Of course the cop gave me a ticket. I had to go to Juvenile Court for that ticket. I must have drawn the hanging judge. I think I got my license suspended for six month, I know I was without a license through much of the summer of '63. The judge told me that if I got caught driving with a suspended license he would take it for at least another year. I believed him and even though I had the opportunity to drive friends' cars I never did, OK almost never. The judge's punishment had a finite end date. Dad's punishment didn't. Thankfully Mom tempered his punishment or I might have never driven the family car again. I eventually got to drive the Buick again. It was a beast and hard to drive, but I could fit about half the junior class in the back seat and four or five more in the front and often did. I never got another ticket during my high school years. That was as much luck as my stellar observance of the traffic laws. Judge Dad did find other behavior on my part from time to time that resulted in suspension of my driving privileges.

1963 was an active year in our history. It was still the early stages of the Civil Rights movement. Our school was the first in the area to integrate in the fall of 1962. The public schools didn't integrate until a couple of years later when the federal laws required it. 1963 is the year George Wallace became Alabama's governor and said "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!" The Beatles recorded their first album but it would be 1964 before they invaded the US. In 1963 we were listening to Motown and the Beach Boys. We got a great variety of music on AM radio. Check out the Top 100 songs of 1963. It's a pretty eclectic list. We didn't need a Walkman or an iPod. WAPE and WPDQ radio stations provided all the music we needed. Of course I still love that music. Most of us always like the music of our youth. 
WAPE the Mighty 690. The Big Ape.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) was very active in 1963. He was leading marches and protests throughout the South. To be honest I wasn't paying that much attention to all this civil rights stuff. As a sixteen year old I was aware of it but it didn't really affect my very important life. 

James Bond premiered on the big screen in 1963. Sean Connery was a cool guy and Ursula Andress was gorgeous and sexy. I know I've seen the movie but I don't remember if it was in 1963, 1973 or 1983. I do know that I read some Ian Flemming novels around that year. I read a lot back then. I still do. We rarely went to the movies or drive-in back then to actually watch the film. It was a place to gather socially or have a romantic encounter or have a few adult beverages. The Buick was an ideal drive-in theater car. If admission was a flat fee per car I could get a crowd in. Likewise if it was a per person fee there was a huge trunk to hide stowaways. It was also very roomy for double dates. A big bench front seat and plenty of legroom in the backseat.  
Ursula Andress

Medgar Evans was murdered and JFK visited Berlin and delivered the famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech. Again no great blips on my radar but I do remember newscasts.

In August MLK delivered his now famous I Have a Dream speech in Washington D.C. I was aware of it but my guess is that since it was a few days before the 63-64 school year began that I was at the beach getting in the last few days of summer. I had a pretty terrific girlfriend that summer. 

In September 1963 I became a junior in high school. Still not the top dog but getting pretty close. More kids were now below our exalted position in the pecking order than were above us.

In much more important news, the Dodgers won the World Series behind Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. I wasn't a Dodgers fan but they beat the Yankees which pissed off my Dad so it made me happy. That was when the World Series games were played during the day. Somebody always had a radio at school so we could keep up with the games. A few of the teachers would let us listen to the games. Mel Allen and Vin Scully were the TV announcers. Vin still does Dodgers broadcasts.
Sandy Koufax

Then in November the real world came crashing into our insulated and very important sixteen year old lives. During a junior English class we got the news that JFK had been shot. Soon afterwards we heard that he was dead. This was devastating to us. I plan to write a post this November to detail what this meant to me and those around me. Suddenly we were a little more aware of what was going on in the world outside our cliques.
Walter Cronkite announcing JFK's death 

While we were never quite the same or as innocent after the JFK assassination it didn't take too long for self absorbed sixteen year old kids to get back to our real jobs of being professional teenagers and high school students. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Thankfully we survived and most of my classmates turned out to be OK adults. 

I'm very glad that many of us from those days have kept in touch through various means over the years. It was a good group and I still consider many of my high school (some back to grade school) buddies to be my best friends. You can be away from a true friend for a few days, weeks, months, years or decades. Once reconnected it's just like that conversation one day in the cafeteria or after school in 1963.

Just like most years in our life, 1963 had it's ups and downs. Although some of it is now fuzzy, I'm betting I personally had way more ups than downs. I made good enough grades, except for Latin, to mostly keep my parents off my back about school. I had a driver's license (sometimes), a ton of good friends and a little romance. I had just enough spending money for an occasional date or to buy a burger at the Krystal, a pork sandwich at Bono's, a few beers and cigarettes. I truly enjoyed my youth. 

The changes that have happened in the 50 years since 1963 are amazing. Personally we've grown from teenagers to grandparents. The world has gone from analog to digital. We have gone from indestructible and bullet-proof to very vulnerable. I cherish my life in 1963. I wish I had been more aware of what was going on outside my little circle. That would have been nice, but it wouldn't have been the same youth experience. Apparently I picked up enough social awareness to fully support the civil rights movement a few years later. 

I'm sure there were many other important events in 1963. I was there, but I missed them or forgot them. In 50 years from now, ask today's high school sophomores and juniors what happened. That would be 2063 so text me at my afterlife Twitter account, @BillyEternity.

Youth is a wonderful time and I'm glad I had mine before social media and all the rules and restrictions of today. Thankfully my kids turned out great. I take very little credit for that.

There are probably more adventures of Little Billy to come. Stay tuned to this station for updates. If you were around in 1963 I hope you have fond memories of those times. For those of you who shared my times back then please let me know if I made errors or omissions in my recollections.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Classic Sports Headline

by Bill Holmes

Lewis Grizzard
My very long time friend, Joe Guidry, sent me the following story. The headline in the story is attributed to Lewis Grizzard which I'm sure is true. Joe and I were in Atlanta at the time Lewis was starting his illustrious career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor at the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution which eventually became the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lewis was also the author of over 20 books, many of which I've read, and did some stand-up comedy. Lewis Grizzard was a very funny and gifted man. Unfortunately, Lewis died in 1994 at the age of 47 so there are no new columns or books. If you come across one of his books at the used book store, garage sale, flea market or eBay give it a read. 

While we no longer have Lewis Grizzard around, you can visit my friend Joe Guidry at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort in Fort Walton Beach, FL or the Destin West RV Resort. I'm sure he can find you a room and/or RV parking spot. Just remember not to mention my name or he may charge you extra. 

Now, on with the humor - 

Greatest Headline in the History of Sports Journalism
Happy Dicks was a linebacker at Georgia in the mid 60's, which will make this article about the journalist from Georgia, the late, Lewis Grizzard, '68, that much funnier.
On the eve of the Georgia - South Carolina game 41 years ago, I was hanging out with three Sigma Pi brothers (the Hound, Tex , and Bake), drinking a few cold PBRs at the old Callaway Gardens Apartment on the Atlanta Highway . We were discussing the upcoming game against the Gamecocks and lamenting the fact that we were going in with several key players out with injuries, including our starting DE, Billy Payne (who ran the Atlanta Olympics and is now Ch of the Board at Augusta National) and his roommate, MLB, Happy Dicks.
About 10:00 that night, another fraternity brother, Lewis Grizzard, came in after he got off work. Our buddy was inactive at the time because he had gotten married over the summer to his high school sweetheart, Nancy ( the first of many--all with the same name--Plaintiff). In addition to taking a full load at the University, he was working two jobs to help pay for (as he called it) "this expensive habit." A talented young man, he was writing two columns daily - one in the morning for the Athens Banner Herald and one in the afternoon for the Athens Daily News.
Lewis walked in, went straight to the refrigerator, got a beer, plopped down in a chair, pushed his glasses back up his nose and announced, "Gentlemen, with any luck at all,tomorrow morning you'll witness journalistic history. I have submitted my column and if it gets by my editor - and there's a good chance of that happening, since he looked drunk earlier this evening - you'll enjoy the greatest headline in the history of sports journalism."
He refused to tell us what it was, and to be honest with you, we all forgot about it. As Lewis went home to his lovely, young bride, the four of us went back over to the Fraternity house to get a head start on the weekend.
The next morning, as usual, I went straight for the Sports Section. As I pulled it out, I could do nothing but smile, because our buddy had pulled it off. To this day, Vince Dooley calls it his most memorable column ever - all because of the headline, which read:
There's no doubt about it, it was "the greatest headline in the history of sports journalism."
He was certainly one of a kind. Grizzard, I mean.
Dr. Robert E. "Happy" Dicks III

 Thanks to Lewis and Joe for the laugh.

Scattershooting 8-25-13

by Bill Holmes

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great Brooks Robinson - Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

This is a very interesting interview of a very rich and influential guy. Larry Ellison, founder & CEO of Oracle, on the Charlie Rose Show. The first 20 minutes are about sailing and the Americas Cup. The next 12 minutes are about his life with Oracle and other technology. The last half is much about Steve Jobs and Apple. Insights from a close friend of Steve's and an Apple board member. He also touches on current affairs, particularly personal privacy. Larry Ellison can be a jerk and his ego would fill a million Oracle databases but he is a smart guy.

In case you missed John Legend's live webcast or his appearance on Letterman here it is.

If you like words this is more good news from Google. Bet all you Bubbas didn't realize you were pursuing a piscatorial hobby.

You may notice that Ryan Braun doesn't feel bad enough to return any of the $150 million still on his contract through 2020.

Just installed the Android 4.3 JSS15Q OTA update on my Nexus 7. Be interested to see if it fixes the GPS problem I've had a few times. (8/23) 

A few Friday (8/23) afternoon bike ride observations - 
• The Redbox at Kroger was hopping. Lotsa movie watching tonight.
• CiCi's was packed. Nothing like fine dining to start your weekend.
• There are plenty of folks watering the curbs and streets including the school across the      street. All the way to the middle of the road. We do have Stage 1 water restrictions in effect.
• Several teachers still at school after 7:00 PM. School starts Monday.
• No good lettuce at Kroger. Bought a bag of spinach to hold me over. Gotta have salad fixins.

It's Elvis Presley night (8/23) at the ballpark on the Southside of Chicago. What could possibly go wrong?


Nothing went wrong - Rangers win 11-5 with 5 HRs.

From the Hops & Barley Party - vote often. I'm voting right now.

Just put out fresh birdseed and now we have a dove dustup. First time I've ever seen one mourning dove chase another away. Don't know if it's a family squabble or rival gangs. No injuries observed yet. So much for the dove of peace. (8/24)

Good deal. Adam Good Guy Scott won the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Even better, Tiger Ass Woods didn't. (8/25)

Still a lot of activity at the school across the street @ 6:00 PM on a Sunday. Cars in the teachers parking lot and folks working on the new landscape plantings by the entrance. School starts Monday (8/26) for most local school systems. Traffic will be a mess. Hope the school air conditioners are working.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crowd Goes Wild

by Bill Holmes

On Saturday, August 17th, Fox Sports 1 (FS1) signed on the air. It takes the place of the SPEED channel on most cable and satellite TV systems. FS1 is a general interest sports network that appears to be Fox's answer to ESPN, CBS Sports and NBC Sports. Fox already had several specialty and regional cable sports channels but no national general interest sports network presence. I have no idea if Fox will become a successful competitor to ESPN but the parent company certainly has deep enough pockets to give it a good try. Maybe as a sign of the new sports landscape, the first prime time live sports event on FS1 was an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card. That's not my cup of tea but another strong competitor in the TV sports arena is probably good news for sports fans. It should mean even more sports on national TV that were either televised locally, regionally or not at all. You can never have too much sports on TV.

This review is about one particular show on the new FS1 network called Crowd Goes Wild. The name is not The or A Crowd... I guess that's cool. It is a daily sports talk show that airs at 4:00 PM CDT. It's been hyped as the return of Regis Philbin to daily TV. Regis hasn't had a regular TV gig since he left the Regis Lee & Kelly Lee (or Kathie Lee) morning show a couple of years ago. He's also never done a sports show. Too bad he didn't stay semi-retired or at least wait for a better show.

Crowd Goes Wild (CGW) is a typical sports talk show with a panel of talking heads only worse. The panel consist of: Regis, Georgie Thompson, Jason Gay, Michael Kosta, Trevor Pryce and Katie Nolan.

Regis is the ostensible host or moderator and he does open the show. After that he is of very little use. Georgie, an attractive British woman, seems to be the real moderator. She's the one who raises the discussion topics and keeps the show on schedule. Jason Gay, a Wall Street Journal sports columnist, is the nerdy guy that knows a lot about sports. Kosta, a supposed comedian, is the designated clown and comic relief. Trevor, an ex-NFL player, is the token jock. Katie is the now required social media coordinator. So, how many of these folks have you heard of? Regis of course and maybe Trevor if you are a big NFL fan. Who knew the Wall Street Journal even had a sports columnist?                                                                                                                        
Kosta, Nolan, Philbin, Pryce & Gay
I watched the first two shows. I only watched the second one to see if the first one was just a one time disaster. It wasn't. With apologies to a friend of mine who is a train dispatcher I'm going to use this analogy. CGW is a train wreck. It has lame, derivative scripted segments. The supposedly unscripted segments are awkward and look poorly scripted. Georgie and Jason are tolerable but the others are non-factors at best and unwatchable at worst.

Here are some lowlights, there are no highlights, of the show. The show allegedly gave Regis an early surprise birthday present, he'll be 82 on Sunday, of Regis the Horse. The horse is a trotter and they did about 15 minutes on the horse in the stall and on the track. He purportedly ran a race live during the show and amazingly he won. There was a race but they never showed any crowd at the track. Don't start your show with a fake "live" event.

Georgie Thompson
During the panel discussions of the topics Regis may say something of little consequence, Jason tries to give relevant comments, Kosta does a scripted comedy routine and Trevor praises all athletes. Trevor said that Yasiel Puig has changed the game of baseball. Puig is having a good season but he's 22 years old and has been in the big leagues since June 3, 2013. Think we might want to wait a year or two before we anoint Puig as the best ever. On the second show Trevor anointed a soccer player, Mario Balotelli, as the best ever. Mario is 23 years old. He's already found the best ever for two sports and the show is still in its first week.

Another segment was "Pardon the Contradiction", sound familiar ESPN watchers? In this stupid premise a member of the panel is given a topic. They argue one side of the issue until Regis rings a bell then the same person argues the other side of the same issue. Riveting.

Of course they have the now required Twitter poll for some inane question. Don't hold me to that. It may have been a Facebook or Instagram poll. I forgot to note the URL or hashtag or to participate.

There is a separate guest interview with Regis and one other panel member questioning the guest. They go to another area of the studio that has a chair, tables and couch for this segment. The first two guests were Oscar De La Hoya, promoting a NYC fight card, and Terrell Owen, promoting himself. Not exactly premier guests. Kosta also gets to ask the guests "Out of Left Field" questions. Completely lame.

The whole show seems disjointed. People are looking into the wrong cameras. There were a few "what's next" looks. Regis looks lost and has no idea what is going on. After a couple of hundred years in live TV, Regis should know how to do this.

Now here comes the creepiest segment ever. It is called "Reach For The Star". This may be the worst ever TV segment idea, a mystery guest comes out on stage and three blindfolded panel members feel (up) the guest and guess who he/she is. Tuesday's guest was golfer Rickie Fowler. He held a golf club and had golf balls in his pocket. It was disturbing. I have no idea how this will work with a female mystery guest and male feeler (uppers).

I've reached my limit of two shows. I hope my review has spared you a wasted hour. Regis needs to retire for good. FS1 needs to air a real show. Train wrecks are never pretty or a good thing.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Scattershooting 8-18-13

by Bill Holmes

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great Blackie Sherrod - Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

I have a dirt stripe down my back. Got caught by a rain shower on the way home from the store. Refreshing but my clothes, bike and grocery bags are muddy. Guess a bike washing is now on the agenda for tomorrow. 8/14

Does anybody else think the Justice Department filing suit against the US Air/American merger is pretty chicken shit timing. The merger and bankruptcy have been in motion for months. Did Justice just now notice? 

Worth a look. Very funny and very encouraging.  -  

Stephen Colbert's 'Best Segment Ever' Will Make You Feel So Many Things

The lead story on the local news tonight (8/16) was that the number of measles cases in Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) had doubled this week. Sounds bad until they showed the numbers. The number doubled from 3 to 6. An update later in the newscast said there were actually 9 cases. There are close to 2 million people in Tarrant County. How times change. When I had the measles there were probably 6 or 9 other kids in my class with the virus. That did not make the TV news back then.

Who knew? While scanning today's (8/17) TV guide I noticed that there is arena football on CBS today. It is Arena Bowl XXVI, that's 26 for you non-Romans. They've already had XXV of these things? I've missed every one of them. No need to break my streak by watching today.

So, in tonight's (8/18) game Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster hits A-Roid with a pitch. It was on purpose. Umpire warned both benches and Yankee skipper Joe Girardi got tossed for arguing. Shouldn't every pitcher be throwing at A-Roid. He's a disgrace to the game. Good job Ryan.
Ryan Dempster

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scattershooting 8-11-13

by Bill Holmes

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Charlie Hough - 

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

What a great night (8/4) of concerts on AXS. Started with Bachman & Turner (no Overdrive), next comes Heart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, then Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd). Pretty solid lineup.

So, the good news is there is no Heat Advisory for today in D/FW. The bad news is it will be 103°. No heat advisory because the humidity will be low. It's a dry heat. Actually the humidity is 61% right now but going lower. I'm sure it will be very pleasant by around 4 PM.  8/5

For some reason I stumbled on the Spotify Linux Preview tonight. I'm not a big Spotify user but it seems to work OK and it did sync over WiFi with my Android app. No guarantee the Linux version will be permanent. Easy install on Debian, Ubuntu, Mint. I'd recommend installing it through the Software Sources & Software Manager rather than the gedit/terminal instructions from Spotify.   8/5

There is no way it was 51 years ago today that Marilyn Monroe died. It was just a few weeks ago. Oh wait, maybe it was a few years ago. Time flies when ...   8/5

Kickstopper - not a bad idea. Probably need a Kickstarter to raise the funds.

  • A little NCAA & Johnny Manziel opinion/rant -

OK, everybody reset your calendars. Since 7/26 Google Play has shown that my Nexus 7 (2013) ships by 7/30. This morning I got an email that says it shipped. That must mean that today is Tuesday 7/30 and not really what your PC, tablet, phone, TV, microwave or watch really shows. Google wouldn't lie.

Break out the champagne! The We Got the Runs completed a perfect 10-0 season with a 10-7 win tonight. They are now officially the Wednesday | Men's D Fld # 2 league champions for 2013. It was an exciting game - Josh hit a three run over the fence homer and Travis did a back flip after he scored. The boys were playing with a slight handicap since many of them had started celebrating at 2:00 for an 8:40 game. (8/7)

Congratulations to WGTR!

I can do this. Baseball has saved me for eternity.

  • Completely random ramblings -

Funny - where's the Cop?

  • My non-scientific review of the Nexus 7 2013 -

  • My review of an old Brian Wilson tribute that finally made it to TV.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brian Wilson - Musicares® 2005 Concert

by Bill Holmes 

On Saturday, 8/10/13, there was a concert/tribute on AXS with the rather long title of Musicares® Person of the Year 2005: Brian Wilson. According to the TV guide info, it was first released and televised this year. So, while the show is seven or eight years old I just saw it. A probably biased review follows.

In the interest of honesty, full disclosure requires me to confess that I am a big fan of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. I have been since they first appeared on the national music scene with their first songs in the early 1960's. I bought their first album, Surfin' Safari. I wonder what happened to that album? It was inevitable and pretty much required I be a fan. Although I wasn't a California surfer I was close. I grew up on the Florida Atlantic coast in the 60's. I surfed while I was in high school. We had real waves, surf shops and a surf culture.

So, with my biases exposed on with the review. The show honored Brian for his lifetime achievements in the music industry. There were about fifteen minutes of red carpet BS before the real show began. Several singers and groups performed Beach Boy/Wilson songs before Brian himself performed. As you may imagine, some of the performances were good and some artists should have stayed home. Here's my take on each performance -

  •  The Red Hot Chili Peppers opened the show with I Get Around. It was not pretty and made me wonder if this program was going to be worth my time. They tried some Beach Boys falsetto and harmony and failed at both. The Peppers are an OK group but this genre is not their strength.
  • Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) played City Blues a rather obscure Wilson song that featured Eric Clapton on one recorded version. Not surprising that Richie chose this song. It wasn't bad but his version sounded amazingly like a Bon Jovi song.
  • A big bunch of folks then played Sail On Sailor that wasn't too bad but came off more gospel than Beach Boy's. The original is somewhat gospel but not as much as this version. Too many individual voices. 
  • The Bare Naked Ladies then did Til I Die but added their own musical into/tribute to Brian. It was just fair. 
  • It gets way better. John Legend sang I Just Wasn't Made For These Times. It was very good and while John doesn't sound (or look) like a Beach Boy, he can hit some pretty high notes. I must disclose that I'm a John Legend fan and like 99% of what he does.
  • Then a surprise. The Backstreet Boys sang When I Grow Up To Be A Man. The boys have grown up to be men and they did a good job. They got much of the falsetto and harmony right. I haven't become a BSB fan but they acquitted themselves well.
  • Another favorite of mine was up next. Shelby Lynne sang Surfer Girl.  I don't know that I've ever heard a girl//woman sing that song. It was interesting and I liked it. Shelby brought a little twang to the song but that's OK. Like John Legend, Shelby doesn't do many songs that I don't like.
  • The good stuff kept going when Michael McDonald and the great Billy Preston did Don't Worry Baby. It's one of my favorite Beach Boys songs and Michael did it justice. He didn't try to mimic the Beach Boys, but he has a very soulful voice that fits the song. I thought it was powerful enough that Michael should put it in his show. Billy didn't sing but he did a nice organ solo. Unfortunately Billy is no longer with us.
  • Jeff Beck did an instrumental version of Surf's Up and then did a big instrumental break on Surfin' USA that the house band sang on. It was good. Jeff certainly can play guitar. 
  • Earth Wind & Fire then did Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder). It was OK. Philip Bailey can certainly hit the high notes but the vocals sounded heavily filtered/produced. 
  • Darlene Love was the last of the guest artists. She sang Wouldn't It Be Nice which is a great Beach Boys song that sounded just like a Darlene Love song. That's not a bad thing but her style is a little different than Brian's.
  • We're getting close to the honoree's appearance. The house band for the evening which was actually Brian Wilson's band played a good instrumental intro for Brian.
  • In his usual awkward way Brian gave a very brief thank you speech and then got down to performing.
  • Brian and his very good band performed Heroes & Villains and Good Vibrations. Heroes is maybe the anchor song of the ill fated album Smile which was mostly written in the late 1960's and was finally published in 2004. It's a long story. Good Vibrations was originally released as a single. It is the Beach Boys greatest hit and a groundbreaking record. It was also supposed to be on Smile. Brian did a pretty good job. His voice is not what it was in 1968 but he can still hit some of the high falsetto notes. His voice is the sound of the Beach Boys and it can still be heard. 
  • After Good Vibrations, many of the performers came on stage to sing Fun, Fun, Fun. It was good with Brian's band providing the glue. 
  • The finale was an almost solo by Brian of Love & Mercy. Good stuff by a true music legend. 
In general it is sad to see Brian Wilson. He still obviously has musical talents but he is a mess as a member of society. He acts like he has Asperger's or some other form of autism. Based on what I remember and what I've read he was not always this way. He was once a very social guy. I can only assume that the pressures, drugs and mental illness have eaten away parts of his brain. This program was recorded in 2005 and I've seen Brian on TV several times since then especially last year during the Beach Boy 50th Anniversary Tour. He seems almost the same mentally but he has declined physically. 

I don't ever expect to see the Beach Boys again live. I've done that probably a dozen times. There are still four original members alive but Mike Love apparently owns the name and has chosen to exclude the other three members. Sad that there has been conflict almost since the day the group began. 

All that aside, I'll be listening to Brian Wilson and Beach Boy music until I can't hear it anymore. Thanks Brian - it's been Fun, Fun, Fun.

PS - I encourage you to click on the links I put with the song titles. Some old vintage Beach Boys stuff and some more recent stuff. 


Friday, August 9, 2013

Nexus 7 2013 Review

by Bill Holmes

A quick review after a couple of days with the new Nexus 7 2013. This is not a detail review of the specifications or scientific study of the performance. Just my impressions of the new tablet.

I bought the original Nexus 7 2012 version when they first came out last summer. It was my first tablet. I have used it extensively almost every day for the past year. I used it to read all the news, comics, blogs, RSS feeds and social media sites that I previously kept up with on my PC. It was much easier than sitting at a desk or balancing a hot laptop on my lap or squinting at a small phone screen. I could sit in a recliner and read all the stuff I wanted to on my Nexus. Even short videos were OK to watch on the 7" screen.

When the new model was announced I decided to upgrade and give the old one to one of my sons. He is an iPhone user so I'm hoping he sees the benefits of Android and the choices in that community.

So, on with the review -

The new processor is noticeably faster. Everything is faster and smoother. It also seems to run a little cooler. No stop-watches or thermometers were used to verify this.

The new N7 is lighter and thinner. It's not a huge difference but it is noticeable. When I opened the new one and compared the weight with the old I thought, not a big deal. Then after holding it for an hour or so while reading stuff I realized it is a big deal. The lighter, thinner difference is a welcome improvement.

The speakers are better but the sound quality is still pretty bad. It's OK for a news or instructional video but for music, TV or movies use earphones. Better yet, Chromecast to a TV.

The notification LED is nice but not a big deal for me.

The rear camera is a very appreciated new feature. I know, holding up a 7" tablet to take a picture is a little awkward but sometimes that's what is handy. As is always said, "the best camera is the one you have with you".

I am getting significantly better battery life even though the new N7 has a higher def screen, faster processor and more memory. Not definitive yet but it's looking like almost twice as much. Some may be due to Android 4.3. I only updated my old N7 to 4.3 a few day before the new one came and obviously I haven't used it much since the new one came. So, maybe the old N7 is doing better. I'm very happy with the battery life on the new N7.

Again not scientific but it appears the WiFi radio is better. The other night at a softball game I was able to connect to a Lowe's public WiFi. I've been at that softball complex many times with my old N7 and never even detected the Lowe's WiFi. The connection was a little shaky but it did work. The Lowe's I connected to was across a couple of softball fields, a couple of soccer fields, a five lane highway and the huge Lowe's parking lot that has two restaurants between it and the sports fields. I also detected a school WiFi that is even a little farther away. I didn't connect to that, it's secured. So, either the N7 WiFi radio is better or Lowe's has a really powerful transmitter.

I was not particularly pleased with UPS and their delivery. It was a knock and drop. I was home but by the time I got to the door the delivery person was gone and the N7 package was at my door. I live in an apartment complex and I'm not thrilled with a $250 purchase being left at my door. Several people walk by every day, there are landscape and other workers around. It was delivered at 10:00 AM. If I was still a working guy, it would have sat outside (in 100° heat) for eight or more hours. The complex office is less than 50 yards from my unit. They gladly accept packages for tenants and keep them in an air conditioned room.

The transition to the new N7 was relatively painless. After a couple of Android updates you sign in to your Google account and your apps start downloading. That can take a while depending on the number of apps installed. I have around 100. You may need to enter user IDs and passwords the first time you open an app. You may also need to go into the settings on some and reenter your preferences.

The transition process gave me even more appreciation for the Google infrastructure. Most of the Google stuff works just like before on other devices. I also appreciate those apps that have a cross-platform sign in or are cloud based. They work just like before once you sign in. Those apps that don't have a user ID require some configuration effort. I had to reenter stuff on some weather sites and re-select all my favorite comics in my comics app. There were a couple of others too, but certainly not a big deal.

There are a couple of apps that don't seem to play well with the new N7 &/or Android 4.3. Nothing important. The ones I've encountered seem to have to do with the new screen resolution.

So, bottom line I'm glad I got the new Nexus 7. The old one is still a great device and I hope the offspring enjoys it. The new one is a significant upgrade. If you want/need a 7" tablet, get a Nexus 7. If you have a 2012 version, consider upgrading. If you want to save a few bucks, find a 2012 model. They're both very good devices.