Monday, May 31, 2010

It started with the '25 songs' meme... and turned into this

In the previous post I introduced the topic of a Facebook meme about "25 songs you cannot live without" and how when eventually I sifted through over 26,000 tracks in my library I'd narrowed this list… to 225.

That seemed too lengthy for the keep-it-short paradigm implicit with Facebook and the blogosphere, so there'd need to be a second round of consideration given to the list, to further winnow it down at least a bit. I wasn't done.

So I went through and assigned rankings to those 225 songs, paring the crème de la crème (so to speak) down to… roughly 50.

Eh, close enough.


Here they are, presented alphabetically by song title (because it seems as good an order as any):
  • 13 - Shadowy Men On a Shadowy Planet
  • 225 - New Model Army
  • 67 East 2nd Street - Liquor Giants
  • Bleeder - Best Kissers in the World
  • Bored on Television - The Methadones
  • Buick City Complex - Old 97's
  • Eye In the Sky - Viva Voce (originally by Alan Parsons Project)
  • Foot - Love Battery
  • From a Whisper to a Scream - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
  • Gentlemen - The Afghan Whigs
  • Green Green - Young Fresh Fellows
  • Hangman In the Noose - Sand Rubies
  • Heart of the City - Nick Lowe
  • I Believe - Buzzcocks
  • I.O.U. - The Replacements
  • If You Go Away - Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
  • I'm the Man - Joe Jackson
  • Interstate 5 - The Wedding Present
  • Julie Paradise - Screaming Trees
  • Make Your Mama Proud - Fastball
  • Mass Romantic - New Pornographers
  • Maureen - Beat Farmers
  • Merchandise - Fugazi
  • Mercury Blues - David Lindley
  • Modern Love Is Automatic - A Flock of Seagulls
  • Moon Over Marin - Les Thugs (originally by Dead Kennedys)
  • My Babe - Little Walter
  • My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) - Ramones
  • Never - Sand Rubies
  • Nights in White Satin - The Dickies (originally by Moody Blues)
  • Nothing To Fear - Oingo Boingo
  • Only - Anthrax
  • Pretty Please Me - The Dickies (originally by The Quick)
  • Public Image - Public Image Ltd.
  • Ring of Fire - Wall of Voodoo (originally by Johnny Cash)
  • Savage Earth Heart - The Waterboys
  • She's a Yo-Yo - The Jazz Butcher
  • Smash It Up - The Damned
  • Sunshine and Cockroaches - 3D Picnic
  • That's When I Reach for My Revolver - Mission of Burma
  • The Door Into Summer - The Monkees
  • The Fan and the Bellows - The Chameleons
  • The Hungry Wolf - X
  • The Hunt - New Model Army
  • The Ledge - The Replacements
  • Timebomb - Old 97's
  • Truly - Hazel
  • Twisted - Spiderbaby
  • Who Do You Love - The Doors (originally by Bo Diddley)
  • Without - Popdefect
  • Your Town - Deacon Blue

Aren't you glad I shared?


A few last thoughts on this, which I will remind you that you are under no obligation to read but which my brain compels me to include here:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reason why I shouldn't be on Facebook (or online in general) #932

On Facebook it's very easy to "tag" someone in a note. (Not as easy as it should be, but that's another story.) One simply clicks on the field on the right of the screen and types part of the name of a friend ("friend") and then select the desired name when it appears. Mere seconds of effort there.

When the note is a meme (as they tend to be) the purpose of the "tagging" is to elicit the tagged party to create a note of his/her own with his/her answers to the question(s) that are going around. Ostensibly these answers provide some kind of insight in to the personality of the "friend," which, I suppose, could serve to strengthen the relationship if both parties bother to put sufficient effort in to composing the answers.

However, the term "Facebook" and the phrase "sufficient effort" seem incongruous, do they not? Is not the point of the social networking site to be pleasant and relatively effortless?

I'll let you know right now: You will learn one thing about me (which, if you've read anything here previously, you should already know) from this post: My brain is not well-suited for Facebook (and by correlation, for the internet in its entirety). That is all you'll learn.


Anyway, a couple months ago I was tagged in a Facebook note with the following description:

"…you are supposed to write down the top 25 songs you cannot live without. The ones you can listen to over and over and never get tired of. They don't have to be in any particular order. These are the songs that make you laugh, cry, think of an old friend, whatever the reason. …" followed by the chain letter-type instructions to subject 25 others to this task.

Initially I dismissed the gesture as "quaint"; the tactic holds no sway over my actions any more (to the extent that it ever did, in my early days on the site). I'd ignored other such tagging in the past, and it seemed likely the same thing would transpire here. However, with this one I found the notion coming to mind every once in a while, and then one evening I had the computer on and iTunes running (to update my iPod) and I started looking through the tracks to see which jumped out at me (so to speak) for such a list of ones I never got tired of.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Music truths

A seven-minute rock song almost always has an extended guitar solo.

A good seven-minute song has an interesting one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The continuing story of hummingbird photos

For those who were caught up in the story of Dolores, the hummingbird mentioned a few weeks ago who had a nest in our condo complex, I wanted to alert you about some new posts over at the photo site featuring... baby hummingbirds!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Random thoughts on the Lost finale presented in bullet point form

Okay, so this is the first entry since the Lost finale (last night). And my prediction regarding the media covering it with the same zeal devoted to the Super Bowl appears to be… less than prescient. Despite ABC's best efforts to make it an societal event, it probably only mattered to those who'd been following the show. Flipping around on the morning TV programs this morning I found nary a mention of the show; it didn't even warrant the coverage that Idol or Dancing with the Stars get.

Um, allow me to interject here that although this post will not attempt any analysis of the episode, if you're in that category of viewers I described yesterday who still haven't watched it but plan to, you should stop now. Or in common parlance:  SPOILER WARNING (just in case).

And glancing on the 'net last night after the episode ended I found a brief post on the EW site where the blogger astutely noted that one who didn't even watch the show could jokingly spoil it for someone by saying they all died, and that would turn out correct, but that would not spoil it for someone who had not seen the show (or even the series). I suppose that's a good thing. Maybe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lost: It'll all be over soon

This is the last post before the series finale of Lost. I'm not suggesting I plan to write about the show here; I'm merely acknowledging it as something that came to mind when I was sitting here trying to think of what to type.

But while we're on the topic...

I have no theory about how it will end. I have no idea what would even make for a satisfactory ending. However, I can say this: When the final episode is done, we'll finally have an end to the incessant coverage that has dominated the media for weeks.

It's not unlike how the sports media beat to death the subject of the Super Bowl in the weeks before the game; it's a test of the audience's ability to not be burnt out on the topic before the event that's the source of the coverage even begins. However, I suppose die-hard fans are pretty much the same regardless of the specific area of fandom; those who follow pro football seriously can discuss the Super Bowl ad nauseum, so it's probable that Lost fans, who have (and have had) myriad outlets for obsessing about the show do not consider all the recent attention from the media to be something that detracts from the pending finale.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Face booked

One of those recent "zeitgeist" topics was some apparent furor about Facebook and a glitch in its privacy policies. Apparently the blogosphere was all aflutter over whatever it was, with there being a push to have everyone quit the site.

Which, obviously, did not happen.

I do think there could be improvements made to the ease of setting one's security preferences, but as one of the panelists on the most recent Slate Culture Gabfest podcast noted: It's a voluntary site. No one is forced to set up an account.

The doofus male panelist equated it to some credit card scam, but that attitude overlooks the reality of these free sites:  They're not really free. The site needs to make money somehow, and they need to make that off of you joining, sharing info about yourself, and then harnessing that to get advertisers to give them money to be able to direct their advertisements that would seem to appeal to you. Or at least that's my take on it.

I'm not an apologist for Facebook. I was amongst the last people I know to join (but it has popped up surprisingly often in posts since then). It's as annoying as it is amusing.  But I've always treated it like anything else on the web: I don't put anything up that I wouldn't want to come up if I were to run for office. (Oh, who are we kidding with that? It's really nothing I wouldn't want to be usable by the prosecution if I'm ever on trial.)

However, I will say this: If you don't like it and want to get off of it I whole-heartedly support leaving. If you feel like you were forced to join because it's what everyone else was doing, or because it seemed prudent for self-promotional purposes, or haven't logged in to the site in longer than you can remember, then by all means do delete your account.

If the media furor about the privacy controversy is your excuse for quitting, so be it, but I'd say that's not so much a protest statement as it's overcoming procrastination and finally doing something you probably should have done before.

If you held some illusion that you could join Facebook without having to pay any membership and get all of its benefits with no downside, without having to make any effort to protect what you wanted protected, and that anything posted on the web is ever completely confidential, then not only should you probably not be on Facebook but that suggests a naiveté where perhaps using the internet at all is imprudent.

And I can say that here, with no concern for exposure or maintaining privacy, because only four people read this anyway. (Go ahead, corporate America: Have at this. I dare you.)

But to the four of you: Thanks for spending some imprudent time here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Draw a weiner on this

On the news this morning there was a report by the entertainment correspondent indicating some company was offering Perez Hilton $20 million for his gossip site.

I'm not saying if this happens to be true that it disproves the existence of God, but it may suggest God takes vacations.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time out for Real Time

I'd watched Bill Maher for years, going back to when Politically Incorrect was on Comedy Central. When I've had HBO I've usually caught episodes of his current show, Real Time. For me it's nowhere near the neighborhood of cleverness that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report display four nights a week, but generally it still holds my interest to watch to the end of the show.

Unlike Maher, I would not consider myself an atheist. I don't have ties to a specific religion, but I do think it's unlikely the universe got to have this order by random chance. I don't attend church because my spirituality is something unique to me, not a general viewpoint that I imagine a room full of people share. However, I absolutely support that churches should exist, as there are many people who clearly do get something out of attending them.

That said, I am a strong proponent of the separation of church and state. One's religious views should dictate only how one lives one's life, not be the basis for political policy. Period.

So that brings me to last week's episode of Real Time, when again Bill went off how deluded are people who believe in God, or even have any view other than atheism, and indicate that all war and violence was done in the name of religion. Okay, the man is entitled to his opinion. However, when guest Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, tried to politely disagree—particularly about religion being the cause or justification for war—Bill would have none of it. Booker astutely called Maher on this, comparing his fervor with it to having the "zeal of a Baptist preacher about your atheism."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Something to read while you watch TV

All television is entertainment. That some of it occasionally conveys some information is secondary.

That's not a criticism of the medium. If anything it's critical of all other media forms that might be informational foremost. Who needs that as a primary reason for being?


In a delightfully meta moment on last night's episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine, Christine meets her psychiatrist boyfriend's brainy ex-wife at a party and in an attempt to contribute to the conversation she discusses the reality TV programs she watches. The ex-wife remarks how she doesn't know what Christine is talking about, as she doesn't own a TV. "How do you keep up with the Kardashians?" Christine asks.

The ex-wife then spouts a statistic about watching more than three hours of TV a day has been shown to inhibit brain development or attention span (or something--remember, entertainment, not information), and Christine inquires "What about people who watch six hours a day?"

Ostensibly the audience has been insulted, but it's the snobbish elitism of the ex-wife that comes off as the buffoon, given that this is all taking place on a TV show.


The flaw with studies is that there's no controlling all the variables; there's no taking an individual and making an identical copy (even twins, as similar as they are, don't qualify for our rhetorical purposes here) and then expose one to a set of circumstances and the other to a near-identical set of circumstances with one aspect changed, then watch what happens and draw definitive conclusions about the effect of that aspect. Researchers find people who watch more TV and find that many of them have diminished attention spans or something and conclude it was the TV that did them in, but there's no way of knowing what their attention spans would have been otherwise. It's feasible that they would have ended up as they did regardless; it might be that because they had a naturally short attention span that they were drawn to the format of TV. It's an equally valid conclusion, but the agenda for the research is to attempt to prove some causal link the other way.

It's not that TV might not have an effect; it's that there's no proving it does. If one has a dim opinion of TV one will believe the statistics prove it's bad, but that's nothing empirical.

It's been suggested that the way people are now on the computer or their mobile device while they watch TV indicates their attention spans have decreased to the point where even the nuggets of entertainment on the screen is not sufficient to hold them for the brief time it's on, but to be able to juggle more than one source like that seems to suggest they have enhanced attention spans.


To wax nostalgic over some good old days where people focused on a single thing is overlooking the reality of the past: It wasn't that people necessarily wanted to do one thing at a time; that's merely all they had available.

Never forget: The past sucked just as much as right now does.  The manifestation of that suckitude merely occurred in a way to which we're now accustomed, and such doesn't seem like it sucks any more.

Or at least that's the sort of conclusion a lifetime of TV watching allows me to draw.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Let me tell you something...

If there's one thing people don't like it's reading generalizations about what they don't like.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

C'mon baby, it's time to rock

One reason (although not the only one) I bother to maintain my eMusic subscription: Finding lost treasures, and how much simpler it is to get them.

Even when I was an adolescent and teen I had an appreciation of music from prior to my birth. That's not suggesting I didn't also like contemporary music, but I'd sometimes change the radio to the oldies station; I suppose a had a nostalgia for a time I'd missed (or, perhaps, that I'd experienced in a previous life if we go the reincarnation route). Maybe even in my youth I was ahead of my time in perceiving that everything used to be better in music.

Anyway, one night this week while on the eMusic site I came across a compilation album called R 'n B: From Doo-Wop to Hip-Hop. I forget what link or search directed me to that but it probably was something about trying to find early rhythm 'n blues. While glancing at the tracks I spotted Roy Hamilton's late '50s hit "Don't Let Go":

My mind traveled back to my mid teens (so, a few years in to the '80s) and hearing that song on KRTH ("K-Earth"), the long-running oldies station here in Southern California (which is still broadcasting as an oldies station). I was so taken by the song by that I called the station. It must have been during a lull in the day, as not only did I get through but the on-air DJ answered (rather than some intern). I recall excitedly asking "Who did that 'Don't Let Go' song?" and the DJ answering it was Roy Hamilton, then started to note how it was actually one of Elvis' favorite songs, and he probably was going to reveal more about it (which likely reinforced the supposition it was a slow time, as ordinarily DJs would not have such time to be chatty) but I specifically remember cutting him off with a curt "Thank you" and hanging up (presumably so I could write it down before I forgot). I don't think I meant to be rude; I merely had little room in my mind to focus on anything other than that immediate need for that specific information.

I went to a record store (probably Tower) at my earliest opportunity (but that was probably at least a few weeks later, given that I wasn't old enough to drive) and found the 7-inch of "Don't Let Go," which I still have to this day.

However, as I rarely actually put on any vinyl these days (although I do still have a functioning turntable) I haven't listened to that in years. And the trickier nature of recording from the turntable to the computer (it can be done but is nowhere near as simple as ripping from CDs) the song had never made its way in to my library of mp3's, and, regrettably, had fallen out of my listening pool.

At least, until that night this week, when I downloaded it with a single click, and was listening to on my iPod the next morning. No waiting weeks to get to a store. No recording it on a cassette to listen to on a Walkman (my portable method in past decades). Mere seconds of downloading… all while sitting in my living room.

The music may or may not really have been better back then but the technology certainly is better now.

Of course, now that the song has made its way into the library (living, as it were, as a file on a hard drive that can be transferred easily to another hard drive, etc.) does that suggest that it won't have the opportunity to lapse into this nether region I had with the record, where technically I had it but was unlikely to actually listen, and thus not allow for the same re-discovery some 25 years down the road?

Then again, might it be folly to think mp3's will still be around 25 years from now? Will those days when I'm approaching retirement (and waxing nostalgically just in general) also make me wistful for the days when I had to put songs on a small device and listen through headphones rather than merely have them sent wirelessly to the receiver implanted in my skull (as I expect we'll all have by 2035)?

I'm sure I'll think: Those were the days. Then blink and listen to the song again.

(What sort of subscription that will entail I cannot begin to anticipate.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Story of the hummingbird photos

Over at the photo site there's a new post featuring this picture of a nesting hummingbird:
as well as many others of this hummingbird. Please click over when you have a few moments and have a look.


Who blew off exercising on a recent morning and instead spent over half an hour photographing a nesting hummingbird?

This guy!

(Probably should have been some reference to having two thumbs or something…)

Of course, how often does one come across a hummingbird sitting in her tiny nest, keeping two tiny eggs warm?


Here's the story:

I’d been alerted to the existence of the nest on the Sunday previous by a neighbor who spotted me shooting the weekly progress of the sweetgum trees in our complex's courtyard (which is a project that will be featured on the photo site in the future). He pointed out that it was in one of the umbrella trees adjacent to the trees I was already shooting, but I couldn’t actually see the nest from where I was on the upper level. So I logged that in the brain for later investigation.

The next morning, after my workout, I made a bonus effort to capture some shots of the sweetgum leaves, as they were wet with drops from the previous night’s rain. While out there the wife of the aforementioned neighbor saw me in the courtyard with camera in hand, and also mentioned the nest. This time I had her point out specifically where it was to me, and then I finally saw it for myself. It was pretty small (but hummingbirds aren’t that big). Inside I could make out the white of an egg, which looked to be only about the size of a jellybean. I attempted a couple shots, but not having much time left to spare before I needed to get ready for work.

Having witnessed it for myself, I made another mental note to look for it on a sunnier day.

Then on the following morning (now a Tuesday) as my wife was leaving and I was heading out to undertake the morning’s workout I beckoned her to take the long way around the courtyard so she could see the nest. However, when I got within sight of it I spotted the bird atop the eggs. In an enthusiastic whisper I said, “It’s in the nest! It’s in the nest!” After she saw it herself, without skipping a beat, she whispered back, “Get your camera!”

I scurried back over to the condo and retrieved the camera, then hurried back to the site of the nest and began shooting. At first it was tricky to get a clear shot, because the bird kept moving, repositioning herself in the nest, but eventually she settled down and like a cooperative model remained relatively still.

Next thing I knew, the entire period I otherwise would have devoted to exercising had elapsed (plus several minutes more). I did go down to the lower level to get some shots from below her and one thing was certain: there’d be no working up a sweat that day.

No, that day was devoted to art and the appreciation of nature rather than health. (There was always a Wednesday for that.)

And last night I finally got around to processing, selecting the best ones, and uploading them. (If only that part was as easy for me as the initial shooting the shots would have been up sooner. But let's focus on the fact that they're up now.)