Saturday, December 31, 2005

30 Second Spots - Until the Alligators Knock Him Down

You probably knew this one was coming.

First go read about And Pretend That He's A Circus Clown by clicking here - it explains the title and why the spot took an odd turn half way through. Listen to that spot - then return to this post.

Now click here to hear Until the Alligators Knock Him Down which begins identically.

Copyright © December 23, 2005 by David Ocker - 40 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Friday, December 30, 2005

In which the Irate Crime TV Show Host Gets a Face and a Name

Have you seen this woman? Her name is Nancy Grace. Please keep her off the television.

This story begins with my 30 Second Spot: Outlawing Irate Crime TV Show Hosts

I had to wait in my local bank yesterday afternoon. They have a large television tuned to CNN. Just my luck it was showing the same program that inspired the title of that Spot.

Her show is SO awful.: a combination of all the worst elements of network news, food-fight talk shows, tabloids and America's Most Wanted. Trial-by-media, assumed guilt, floods of innuendo and hurricanes of heart-rending human hopelessness. And this Nancy Grace is the ringleader.

Our legal system has enough trouble as it is without this sort of sensationalist interfering crap. Makes me wish we subscribed to cable television so I could not watch this all the time.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

In which Mixed Meters Takes A Victim

It kind of looks like an n, for NetflixI cancelled my subscription to Netflix yesterday and returned the final movies. I guess blogging has taken up a lot of my time and a monthly DVD rental subscription isn't cost effective.

The last three movies we watched were:

  • Wallace & Grommit in Three Amazing Adventures (hysterical half hour animated shorts plus a bunch of really short shorts called Cracking Contraptions. I highly recommend "Snoozatron")
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - sadly, I found it a bore. We also watched Charlie & the Chocolate Factory as a comparison. Equally a bore. Sorry. But now I know. It made me want some good chocolate; but not a Wonka Bar.
  • Munchausen - a 1943 color spectacular Nazi-produced blockbuster filled with special effects and escapism for the masses - fascinating given the time and place of it's creation. Nicely restored too. It holds its own against Terry Gilliam's version. This is one of those movies where you could tell someone the ending, but you should never tell the beginning.

Moral of the story: if you watch a lot of movies, Netflix is a good deal - and I recommend it highly.


Pictures of Plants

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In which "Using Your Head" has a Medieval Meaning

My current soporific book (to get me to sleep each morning) is "The Merchant of Prato - Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City" by Iris Origo. It's based on the letters and ledgers of a wealthy Italian merchant who lived in the late 14th Century.

Here's a paragraph from page 62 that caught my eye:

"There were also other, more brutal sports, even more pleasing to the crowd. In one of the squares, a pig was enclosed in a wide pen and beaten to death by armed men, as he ran squealing from one to the other, 'among the loud laughter of those present'; in another, a live cat was nailed to a post and killed, in spite of her desperate clawing and biting, by men who, with shorn heads and bound hands, drove the life out of her by buffeting her with their heads, 'to the sound of trumpets'.

These, with the accompanying jests and boasts, bleeding backs and broken heads, were rare pleasures."

It's good to know civilization has advanced in 600 years. For example.


Monday, December 26, 2005

In which Christmas Music Persists

Tree Tobacco?I just listened to three hours of the world's strangest Christmas Music. Also the least often played. Click here to hear the Christmas Music Show on WFMU's Fool's Paradise. (An archive is available anytime you want it - like next year.)

It must have included every version of "The Night Before Christmas" in beatnik jive ever made. "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" didn't make the cut.

As a counterweight to these radio rarities, here is a list of Christmas songs heard most often on the radio. (The article also includes the most heard non-Christmas tunes.)

And I promise to make an effort to stop writing about Christmas music.

Pictures of Plants
Music Reviews

Sunday, December 25, 2005

30 Second Spots - Outlawing Irate Crime TV Show Hosts

A Picture of David & Leslie watching Televisionclick here to hear Outlawing Irate Crime TV Show Hosts This was written in a hospital waiting room while sitting directly under a television tuned to CNN. The title is my reaction to the sickening host (thankfully I don't know her name) who was doing "true crime" stories about Missing White Women. She had helpfully convicted all the suspects for us in advance.

Copyright © December 6, 2005 by David Ocker - 34 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Saturday, December 24, 2005

In which Creationism and Evolution Overlap

25% of Turnips Believe in Intelligent DesignMy local newspaper (The Pasadena Star News) had an AP article today about how science museums are (or aren't) responding to the onslaught of creationism and Intelligent Design. At the bottom of the column were results from a Sept. 8-11 Gallup Poll:

58% of people believe Creationism is definitely or probably true. 55% of people believe Evolution is definitely or probably true.

Assuming the maximum margin of error of 3%, it seems to me that 7% of the sample believe equally in Creationism and Evolution. Since those ideas can't BOTH be true (trust me on that), I suggest we believe one of the following:

1) Some people answer polls without thinking.
2) Some people are happy holding contradictory opinions.
3) The Gallup poll writes confusing questions.
4) Newspaper editors can't add.

I couldn't find raw Gallup data online, but the Baptist News seems happy with the results. (They mention the same numbers, but as part of an August poll, at the bottom of this article.)

Pictures of Plants

Friday, December 23, 2005

In which Things Are Combined Without Apparent Reason

Here are two closeup pictures of empty Rose Parade bleachers.

Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena sprouts miles of these at this time of year. It's preparation for the big parade (which, by special arrangement with God, is Never On A Sunday).

For humorous 60's style radio advertising (rather than marching down the street corporate branding) listen to this recording - The Hellers: Creative Freakout (from the 365 Days Project)

"Hey, Charlie. I think your bottle's off key."


Thursday, December 22, 2005

30 Second Spots - And Pretend That It's a Circus Clown

click here to hear And Pretend That It's a Circus Clown - This afternoon the muzak in Starbucks was turned down low. I happily wrote the first half of this spot.

Then six young women, attired in variously-hued red sweaters, with a boom box and a way-too-loud overly-orchestrated Christmas karaoke tape, began to sing, redefining the term polytonality. I finished writing the spot while enduring this 7th level of Christmas music hell.

Can you tell at which moment they started singing?

The title is from their lyrics to Winter Wonderland - the G-rated 2nd verse:

In the meadow we can build a snowman
and pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman
until the alligators knock him down.

Christmas Alligators !! Very Cool.

Copyright © December 22, 2005 by David Ocker - 36 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In which Many Lights Blink On and Off In Rhythm

getting very close to a Christmas decoration 'Tis a movie of the season which you might watch here. It comes with music.

It was done by electrician Carson Williams in Ohio. The music is "Wizards of Winter" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The display has been shut down because of traffic problems.

Much more information here.

Same house - different music here.

Same music - different house here.

Sure glad I don't live across the street.

Music Video

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In which Tomorrow is Probably The Solstice

Chichen Itza - Mayan PyramidTo someone who works all night and sleeps all day (that's me) the Winter Solstice is a red-letter day. That's the day on which I have the least chance of actually seeing the sun. Not good.

On the other hand there is plenty of inductive evidence that after this solstice the days will start getting longer once again. It's happened in previous years. Probably this year too. Reason to celebrate. Especially for your ancestors if they lived in Northern Europe.

And sure enough, just about everyone does celebrate these days - although most wait some days or weeks to begin the traditional party. Blame it on imprecise astronomy. I wonder how native cultures in the Southern Hemisphere celebrated their winter solstices. In June.

By the way - the Jewish holiday this time of year has nothing to do with Solstice. We were lousy astronomers. Hanukkah celebrates a religious insurrection.

I took this picture one year ago in Mexico. It's the Chichen Itza pyramid - designed by the Mayans to align with the Equinoxes, not the Solstices. There will be an Equinox in three months. Probably.


Monday, December 19, 2005

In which Christmas Music Makes David Cry

Detail of Catholic Cathedral door in Merida MexicoSome of you may know that I work for composer John Adams as music copyist. He has written a large Christmas oratorio called El Niño - performed this weekend at Disney Concert Hall. (Hear a 7 minute excerpt here.)

Also, you may have deduced from this blog that I'm not a fan of Christmas music. Not at all.

So it might come as a surprise that the very end of this piece moves me to tears. Not just teary eyes - but big drops running down my cheeks.

This has happened on several occasions including Sunday afternoon. The first time I heard El Niño - at the U.S. premiere in San Francisco - I was so moved that I was unable to talk because of uncontrollable tears. This is as baffling as it is embarassing - hey, I'm supposed to be a hardened professional musician. No other music has ever had this effect on me.

The entire work (nearly 2 hours long) ends with a simple 6/8 tune sung by a children's chorus. Just before the end the orchestra drowns the chorus out - but they reappear accompanied only by a guitar. Maybe my reaction involves the contrast of simplicity with the previous complexity.

It does give me hope that there's something fundamental and honest and important and universal to be expressed musically during the season. It can't all be mindless. Can it?

Plus I think it quite refreshing to find references in El Niño to a cave full of dragons. Or a street massacre in Mexico.

Music Reviews

Sunday, December 18, 2005

In which David meets a Musical Hero

THE BACKSTORY: In the late '60s I was a high school student in Sioux City, Iowa. Someone gave me a tape with no explanation. I played it on my prized possession: a Panasonic reel-to-reel tape recorder with 3 inch reels and a top speed of 3 3/4 i.p.s.

On this tape was a man introducing music at a concert. The very strange - and very funny - pieces were by someone named P.D.Q. Bach. I was enthralled. And baffled. Imagine trying to understand what kind of musical instrument a "Horn & Hardart" was if you'd never been east of Iowa.

I learned the man was Peter Schickele - and I've been a big fan of his good humored music ever since. In fact, Peter Schickele's work has had a huge & positive effect on my attitudes towards music.

CUT TO THE PRESENT: Friday morning I was sitting in Disney Concert Hall before a concert. Several women sat down to my left and later a man and woman sat to my right. I wasn't paying attention. The woman-to-my-left asked "Is the man near you Peter Schickele?" I looked over but I wasn't sure. Then he talked - no mistaking that voice.

Eventually I figured out how to introduce myself - which would be a whole other story. As I've often heard from people who know him - and as I always assumed from his music - he was a thoroughly pleasant and charming individual. When we said goodbye I told him he was one of my musical heroes - and there aren't very many others.

Music Reviews

Saturday, December 17, 2005

30 Second Spots - Christian Pool Players

People on a Steepleclick here to hear Christian Pool Players. I saw the title painted on the side of a car. As a juxtaposition of concepts to me it seemed similar to those between the titles and the music of the 30 Second Spots. Of course, that's really for YOU to decide.

An oldie. Copyright © November 22, 2005 by David Ocker - 33 seconds

Click here to read about the Christian Pool Players Association.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Friday, December 16, 2005

In which David enjoys vintage absurd humor

Consider Man On The Street interviews.

Often used as filler in TV news. Fake ones are staples of misleading commercials. (My favorite line "They're giving it away free? It must be good.")

But how about interviewing unsuspecting people and presenting them with absurd situations? If you think that might be funny you should know about Coyle and Sharpe.

That would be James P. Coyle (in front) and Mal Sharpe (the other one). They were radio comedians in San Francisco during the sixties (not evil assistants to President Nixon as the picture might suggest).

Click here for The Official Coyle & Sharpe Webpage - you'll find audio and video. It's more amusing and droll than this blog.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

In which David Removes a Blemish From Windows

Somewhere in downtown Los Angeles Microsoft is very good at some things . Marketing products. Making certain geeks rich.

One thing they are definitely NOT good at is avoiding small repetitive annoyances in their Windows operating system.

Recently I stumbled across a small free program than removes one Windows Worry which drives me nuts. (Use Mac or Linux? Stop reading now and click here.)

Open Wide (Click here to read all about it) lets you customize the size and settings of the Open File and Save File dialog boxes. Simple. No more microscopic box and click click click clicking to get where I want. Now I get a big list.

Okay, so if you don't sit in front of the computer all day (like I do) this may not be a critical quality of life issue. But when a small infinitely-repeated bother is suddenly removed the sky just seems bluer. Ya know?

Now everyone can go watch the ping pong video.

Computer Headaches
Music Video

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

30 Second Spots - Moved to Maternity

This is not a picture of a Green Dolphin click here to hear Moved to Maternity The title describes something that happened to Leslie, but not for the usual reasons. As always, the title and the music have no relationship whatsoever.

Copyright © December 8, 2005 by David Ocker - 36 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Monday, December 12, 2005

In which David Discusses Death and Punishment

A Candle In the Darkness I once heard Frank Zappa say: "The only reason to become governor is that you can kill people." Or words to that effect.

Back then the thought that governorship comes with the perq of "deciding life or death" struck me as true and obvious. But no candidate would ever admit to being attracted by this power - out loud.

I heard that the last Governor of California to grant clemency in a death penalty case was Ronald Reagan. Apparently Governor Schwarzenegger heard the blood lust of my fellow citizens and he has abused his power of life or death. Do you think it'll help his re-election chances? (Click here for more on that.)

Stanley "Tookie" Williams seems like a dispicable guy who doesn't deserve clemency. But he doesn't deserve death either. He deserves punishment. I think he should endure the punishments of prison for as long as possible.There'll be plenty of time later to suffer those of an imaginary hell.

Besides, if "Thou Shalt Not Kill" applies to individuals it should also apply to governments. Or at least to Governors.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

In which Spies Get Interested in New Music

Largely Overlooked Architectural Detail of Walt Disney Concert HallAs urban legends go, this one about how Anton Webern coded secret wartime information into his music is pretty funny. Once, on an Internet Mailing List that I get, it got taken quite seriously - as it is on the Urban Legends website.

Later I ran across a movie that uses the new-music-as-tool-for-spies concept. It's called The Man with One Red Shoe starring a young Tom Hanks. A remake of a French movie. Pretty funny - but all the reviews said "not as funny as the original."

I couldn't find the original, called The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (imagine the title in French) on DVD . . . until a copy appeared on EBay a couple weeks ago. I ordered it. (The movie is still not available on DVD - this was a bootleg. Bad David.)

My Verdict - the orignal is a little funnier because the star (played by Pierre Richard) is much better at physical schtick than Tom Hanks. Otherwise the movies are very similar. People who are amused by ugly new music will love the "opera" he plays on his violin.

Confusingly, I need to mention another movie - Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. But if I tell you why, I'll have to kill you. Or something.

Music Reviews

Saturday, December 10, 2005

30 Second Spots - The Musical Christmas Sandwich

Tesco, the "English Walmart", announced plans for a sandwich wrapper that plays Christmas music. Here's one link. Here's another.

Imagine many of these, still playing, languishing in the trash. Here's my idea of what that might sound like: click here to hear The Musical Christmas Sandwich I suggest "continuous" mode - so it plays over and over and over.

Speaking of sandwich wrapping, here's the obvious connection.

Copyright © December 10, 2005 by David Ocker - 36 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Friday, December 09, 2005

30 Second Spots - Pharm

Here's a line from The Simpsons that got a big laugh from me: "That's it, it's one thing for a ghost to scare my kids, But it's quite another for him to play MY THEREMIN!"

Here's a cool "Powers of Ten" website that is referred to in that same episode.

click here to hear Pharm which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Simpsons or this picture of a plant or powers of ten or anything at all, really. The title is part of a common word, something you might find around a grocery store.

Copyright © December 5, 2005 by David Ocker - 34 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Thursday, December 08, 2005

In which David Buys More Acid Rain

Acid Rain is my favorite hot sauce because it's not just very hot, it also has flavor. I ran out. The picture is of my last bottle.

I ordered 4 more bottles from Hot Sauce World - I've never found it in nearby stores.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In which David Does Something Stupid With a Mailbox

A week ago Wednesday I paid the bills. And I had a check to deposit in the bank. All the envelopes were together and I forgot to take care of them right away.

On Friday, as Leslie and I were going out, I grabbed everything. We drove by the post office and she dropped them all in the box.

Sunday night: "What happened to the check I was supposed to deposit?" I searched frantically. Then it hit me: the bank deposit envelope had gone into the mail box on Friday. Oops.

Monday I contacted the post office. Talked to a lot of polite people who were very familiar with the concept. "We get a lot of bank deposits." one woman told me. No one could agree where my envelope was supposed to go for sorting. The U.S. Post Office is a big, big place. There are many alternatives.

Wednesday (today) - in the mail was a letter from the Post Office with my check inside. They opened the envelope and found my address. Not bad service, I think. But I do feel pretty stupid.

So the next time you complain about the Post Office, remember it's people like me who make their job hard. No wonder they charge so much for a first class stamp. (It's actually a bargain. According to Federal Reserve Consumer Price Calculator - 37 cents is a nickel in 1957 dollars.)

Pictures of Plants

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In which David Imagines George Bush and Charles Ives

Imagine the U.S. has conquered a foreign country, put its leaders on trial and removed a political party. Iraq? The Baathists?

Imagine that the leaders of this foreign country had a deep interest in serious music which they used for political purposes. Suppose the U.S. wanted to punish a great musician who seemed to have collaborated, but who claimed he was only trying to preserve the music and survive.

Imagine that someone made a movie about this - and even succeeded to the point of presenting both sides of the story without actually taking sides. It's called Taking Sides - (here's a review) - the story of an American Army Major charged with prosecuting Wilhelm Furtwangler after WWII. Good movie.
Twisted MuseMusical life in Nazi Germany interests me. Two fascinatings books by Michael H. Kater "The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich" about the classical side and "Different Drummers, Jazz in the culture of Nazi Germany." Curiously jazz was stronger than the Nazis. But not classical music.

Imagine if powerful leaders in the US thought classical music was essential to our culture. Imagine George Bush having a favorite Charles Ives or Aaron Copland conductor. Would that be good?

Music Reviews

Monday, December 05, 2005

Forty Second Spots - December Fortieth

Sunset Over an Unfinished Church
click here to hear December Fortieth The title was used to describe my brother-in-law's vacation. That's all you need to know.

Copyright © December 4, 2005 by David Ocker - 42 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Sunday, December 04, 2005

In which a Political Column makes David Smile

Robert Novak is not someone whose writing I usually read, but the title of his column "Removing J. Edgar's Name" caught my attention. It's about a speech by a prominant conservative judge calling for the name of J. Edgar Hoover to be removed from the FBI building in Washington. Cool.

Isn't going to happen. Nice thought.

It's not quite De-Stalinization, but I'd like to see a dead politician who did bad stuff have his honors revoked.

Hey, maybe even living politicians. Henry Kissinger?

Here's a picture of J. Edgar admiring a dress.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

30 Second Spots Times 3 - A Personality Quiz

Here are three 30 second spots. There is a new rule however: You May Only Listen To One Of The Three.

"How shall I decide which?" I faintly hear you ask.

Compare yourself to the three personality descriptions below. Then listen to the spot with the statement that best describes you.

1.) I need familiar and predictable situations that will not challenge me. If this is you click here to hear Who Needs an Overcoat (A tonal fugue.)
Copyright © November 28, 2005 by David Ocker - 33 seconds

2.) I like everything in moderation and avoid extremes. If this is you click here to hear Lacking an Appreciation for the Artform - (Random arpeggiated noodling.)
Copyright © November 29, 2005 by David Ocker - 34 seconds

3.) I thrive on uncertainty and prefer ambiguous resolutions. If this is you then click here to hear Sam and Dave - Damned or Saved (A small fanfare for a bad event.)
Copyright © November 30, 2005 by David Ocker - 34 seconds

Later, if you think your personality has changed, you may take the test again.

(P.S. As far as I can tell Sam and Dave - Damned or Saved has nothing to do with the singing group Sam & Dave or the album Salmon Dave by the great Joe Newman.)

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In which David Complains About Christmas Music

Seasons Greeting from Two Plastic Figures Who Wish to Remain AnonymousMerry Christmas from the YOUR NAME HERES

Today is December first and the Christmas Music Season is already three weeks old. I apologize for my bad attitude, but I'm sick of it. Worse yet, it's got more than a month to go.

People who are looking forward to Christmas deserve audio stimuli. For the rest of us it can't be turned off. Must be good for sales. "The First Noel - now with more marketing power!" How about a chorus of The Dreidel Song occasionally for those few of us on the outside.

So much Christmas music has that "Small World After All" quality - you can't stop singing it. Apparently tunes stuck in your brain like that are called "earworms." Just imagine being Jewish the next time you catch yourself humming "Silent Night."

At Starbucks the beautiful & mournful Billie Holiday song "God Bless the Child" is in heavy Christmas rotation. I thought it was about arguing with your relatives about money. Ah, that's the Christmas spirit.

Music Reviews

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In which David Combines Leon Redbone with Tico Tico

A couple weeks ago, in the very wee hours of Sunday morning, I accidentally caught a rerun of an ancient Saturday Night Live. The musical guest was Leon Redbone - with a couple sidemen, all sitting in a sort of Palm Court, wearing tuxes, doing an old-timey tune. Nice.

Leslie has several Leon Redbone LPs which I ripped to MP3s. All the songs are very laid back, stylistically pre-jazz and feature his lightly graveled voice on tunes like Shine on Harvest Moon, Melancholy Baby, Polly Wolly Doodle.

A few days later, on WFMU's Beware of the Blog, I came across an archive of sixty-some versions of the Latin-music-for-Americans tune Tico Tico. It's one of those pieces that attracts musicians who like to play fast and over orchestrate. "Cool!" I downloaded them all.

Listening to 3 hours of Tico Tico is a strong audio drug. "How 'bout some methedrine?" "No thanks I'm doing Tico Tico." It takes a long time to clean that twisty melody out of your brain.

My friend Scott commented on the many obvious differences between Leon Redbone & Tico Tico. This gave me a Light Bulb Moment! I created a playlist with both sets of tunes (total 4 1/2 hours) and turned on shuffle play - that is I mixed them randomly.

It actually works pretty well. Individually the two tend towards the monotonous. But in combination, they balance out pretty well. Two different musical worlds. That's why I like it.

If you want to listen to a few Ticos, - I suggest Xavier Cougat (#1) as urtext, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Perez Prado, Ferrante & Teicher (#1) (there's a little fugue) and Ebony & Ivory (interesting Brahmsian motion).

Oh, just listen to them all. I guarantee you'll move your hips more when you walk.

Music Reviews

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Strange Case of the Lost Rabbit

A white rabbit, approximately 5 feet tall, stuffed, not so clean, wearing an ermine-trimmed purple robe but no pants, was seen sitting on a residential street corner leaning against a stop sign.

Are you looking for Lost Rabbit? Click here. (And you can hear someone else's idea of a thirty-second piece of music.)


Monday, November 28, 2005

30 Second Spots - It's Sixty Bucks a Week

click here to hear It's Sixty Bucks a Week which really ought to have been called "It's Like Sixty Bucks a Week" because the man who said it used the world "like" a lot, in between giggles.

33 Seconds

Copyright © November 27, 2005 by David Ocker

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Sunday, November 27, 2005

In which David Picks Two Free Movies

Because of some lawsuit Blockbuster Video gave me coupons for two free 'non first run" movies. I decided to rent pictures I knew a lot about (because they're often in the media) but which I'd never seen. My choices were . . .

THE BLUES BROTHERS - Leslie says I like any movie with car crashes, explosions and chase scenes. She's pretty much right. This movie, about two unlikely musicians on a Mission from God, has all those things plus great music. My favorite - Cab Calloway singing Minnie the Moocher.

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST - Since I'm not a Christian, I've never read the book. When this came out I wanted to decide for myself if was anti-semitic (I think it is) but I didn't want to contribute to Mel Gibson's bottom line. Hence "free" was the only way I could see it. I feel it quite sad that this violence could be an expression of anyone's religious faith.

- I paid money to Blockbuster to rent this because I needed a good antidote to Mel's movie. "He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy."


Friday, November 25, 2005

The Strange Case of the Marketing Blimp

A Pasadena Thanksgiving tradition since 2005. The Geraldo At Large Blimp; small, noisy and unimpressive - like the show.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

In which David Recommends Three NPR Pieces

  • I've read several of L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez's articles about a homeless, schizophrenic Juilliard-trained violinist named Nathaniel. It's a powerful story that could yet have a positive ending. Articles might be available be at the Times' website (if you register you can see pictures). Instead, here's Lopez's NPR piece about how Nathaniel visited Disney Hall.
  • If you need proof that our country has revived the fifties, I suggest the fatuous NPR series called "This I Believe". When it comes on I change the station hoping to stifle the urge to submit my own article about how I don't believe any of that, er, stuff. Fortunately Penn Gillette has written something even better. (P.S. Leslie decided that I don't really look like Penn Gillette. But do I think like him?)



Music Reviews

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

30 Second Spots - While He's Doin' a Run

click here to hear While He's Doin' a Run - you probably won't like it. It's thirty two measures long - sort of divided into four 8-bar phrases - each measure lasts one second. Plus a fermata at the end and a kind of one-chord coda. Formal, huh?

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In which there are Three Cat Pictures

Leslie is in Costa Rica for two weeks as part of her never ending search for the perfect worm. She mentioned that her hotel room is insufficiently stocked with cats. So I'm posting new pictures of our three felines to keep her up to date. The rest of you are probably not interested.

Batty & ChickapeaThis is Batty on the left) with Chickapea

Miss Ivy TurnstilesThis is Miss Ivy Turnstiles, the six-toed cat

OJThis is OJ

Cat Pictures

Monday, November 21, 2005

In which David links to Richard's Website

A friend of mine from graduate school and from Zappa days has started his own website. His name is Richard Emmet. His website is here. Check it out.

He has the obligatory biography and audio examples of his music. If you click on "Zappa Stuff" you can read Richards essay about working for Frank. And there are pictures.

Something about those pictures seems really familiar to me. With Richard, Frank and John Steinmetz there's a guy with a beard and not a single gray hair (yet). And he's playing the clarinet. Hmmm. That was ME more than 20 years ago.

(And do check out the pictures of Richard back at Cal Arts in the 70s.)

Music Reviews

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In which David talks about Bird Flu, Pizza and Chicago

I noticed a bit of "news" about Richard Nixon - apparently he lied to us about the war in Cambodia. Now there's a surprise.

I like to point out that the real job of the President is to lie to the people.

Sometimes they call it "leading" getting us to follow him. Sometimes it's putting the best face on a situation which is called "spin". He doesn't always have to speak the lie - he has people for that.

At certain times politicians go freaking crazy telling falsehoods. That's called "campaigning". Whatever it's called, it's always about manipulating the facts proving the President is right. And to prove "the other people" are idiots or traitors or enemies.

Our current president is now being accused by people who watch the polls of lying to get us into war. He's indignant at the charge.

I remember clearly how the administration "campaigned" (i.e. "lied") for the war; they were geared up back then just like they campaigned to win election. It seemed they would say anything that proved their case, no matter how true or false.

Anything that might detract from the opposite argument was also okay. Frightening the public was okay too - mushroom clouds over New York indeed. When they were caught in one lie, they found a new one. WMD or Democracy - take your pick. It was war they wanted.

Back then the opposite viewpoint wasn't hard to find (unless you only listened to Fox News.) The administration must have known the opposite viewpoint because they spent so much time refuting it, discrediting the people who dared mention it in public. The opposition party (called the Democrats - I mostly think of them as the left wing of the Republican party) knew all about it but voted according to the polling numbers. The President now finds great solace in this.

Finally a guy named "Scooter" has been charged with telling a lie. Not a lie about going to war but a lie about lying about going to war. Whatever. He could still be found innocent. But at least someone has to answer to something in court.

Unfortunately, other people should also be answering. Those people are protesting indiginantly. What astounds and depresses me is the arrogance of their faith that they were right all along. Instead of admitting they were wrong they want to talk about bird flu.

I was sitting in Starbucks when a man answered his cellphone. "Instead of having a bible lesson tonight," he said "I'm going to bring a pizza." Shifting focus. There's a song in the musical Chicago called Razzle Dazzle. I'd like to play it for you now.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

In which David links things

Paradiddles and Piledrivers - who would have imagined combining drum fundamentals with a professional wrestling attitude. Check out Worlds Fastest Drummer. The have a championship belt and a special e-meter for measuring drum strokes, plus a Girls of the WFD section. (I found the link at Music Thing where electronic instruments are actually amusing.)

Waltzes and Windows - listen to Fatal Exception - an mp3 of piano parlor music flavored by Microsoft Windows system sounds. Mac users may be clueless. (This was in WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Here's another link to 21 versions of They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha, a much more appropriate reaction to Windows.)

Asteroids and Art - imagine an old fashion shoot-the-boulders video game combined with a video and music synth. I was bored after not very long - but your mileage may differ. It's called Transcend and the better you do the nicer the music and graphics. Or so it claims.

Music Reviews
Computer Headaches

Friday, November 18, 2005

30 Second Spots - His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucster

As I was finishing this my friend Bill Howard appeared in Starbucks and I asked him for an original title. He thought for a second and said "His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester" Bill's an Anglophile & a Storyteller so he thinks along those lines. At that point he had no idea why I was asking and had not heard the music.

A discussion of how to spell "His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucster (click here to hear)" ensued and I managed to get it wrong. So the official title of this piece is the wrong spelling - without the e. When he did hear it, Bill said something about folk music - I wasn't sure what he meant.

Here's a link about the properly spelt His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester

Here's a link to prove I'm not the only one who can't spell Duke of Gloucster.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

In which David Goes to Two Concerts at One Time

Backstory 1: I have more recordings of the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach than any other work. My favorite is Glenn Gould's second recording. I listen to it often. I love the music.

The piece is comprised of 30 solo keyboard variations. They say he wrote it to help someone fall asleep. How anyone could fall asleep while paying attention to this piece is beyond me.

Backstory 2: Uri Caine is a jazz pianist & composer. My first exposure to his work was Urlicht/Primal Light - an album based on the music of Gustav Mahler. I was blown away by the creative combination of classical and jazz music. I remember saying "This is the closest the words 'brilliant' and 'jazz' have ever come."

Later I acquired his expansive "re-imagining" of those same Goldberg Variations which I found even more mind blowing. Instead of just combining classical and jazz he combined classical with many musical styles. Dozens of performers, 2 disks, 2 1/2 hours, 70 variations.

The Story: I was excited when I learned Uri Caine would be doing his Goldberg Variations in concert this month - presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. I guess I wanted to find out how (or, rather, whether) it could be played live.

But first there would be a whole other concert the same evening: the original solo Bach version played by Jeffrey Kahane (music director of LACO). I considered skipping the first part. I'd never heard it played live. The work seems so intimate on disc. How could it possibly have the same power in a room full of coughing, rustling people?

Turns out that I was completely enthralled by the solo keyboard performance. Kahane nailed it. Maybe the first few variations were a little shaky - but maybe I just needed to settle down. After that I was hooked. The tricky 20th variation has always sounded out of control to me - except this time. Nobody coughed. Nobody rustled. I was mesmerized.

If I could have an experience like that every time I went to a concert -- I'd go to more concerts.

Alas, following Kahane's Bach with Caine's Bach turned out not to be such a great idea. With only 7 players there couldn't be as much variety as in the recording. The improvised solos lost my attention every time. (Hey, all jazz solos do that to me lately.) Compared to the laser beam of the solo piano performance, this was diffuse, back-lit. With, say, 50 players instead of 7 it might work. Until then, however, the recorded version of Uri Caine's Goldberg Variations remains a great listening experience.

Music Reviews

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

30 Second Spots - Hypnotize You After Work

The music to "Hypnotize You After Work" seems to skip at the end. I think that must have been intentional. The title was probably something I didn't hear quite correctly.

Remind me to tell you what happened when Leslie discovered she had only 12 hours before her plane left for Costa Rica instead of 36 hours.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Sunday, November 13, 2005

30 Second Spot - Earth Shoes Coming Soon!

The music to "Earth Shoes Coming Soon!" was inspired by something else, but the title was inspired by this picture taken in a Whole Foods market. Where else would you expect to buy Earth Shoes?

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: As I've threatened, the mp3's I post will be available for a limited time only. Starting with this spot, old mp3s have started to disappear. If you are somehow inconvienced by this, let me know.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

In which David has Two Strange Conversations & a Coincidental Horoscope

On most of my trips to Starbucks I never talk to anyone beyond pleasantries. It's a coffee shop, not a coffee house.

But Saturday I found myself in two simultaneous inexplicable discussions, both with twenty-somethings - probably college students - half my age at most. Conversations One and Two overlapped; I'll tell about them separately.

Conversation One: a young man sat next to me and started asking questions out of the blue. "Are you from Pasadena?" "Married or Single?"

He kept it up "Where's your wife?" (My answer: "In front of a computer.") "Is she at home?" "What kind of car do you drive?"

"What country are you from?" I found this really surprising, even disconcerting. When I told him that I was Born in the USA he asked "Where are your parents from?"

Conversation Two: another young man had been walking about. At one point he was standing 10 feet away. I was looking off into space. He said to me "Are you okay?" I was worried by this. "Do I look like I'm having a problem?" Just his way of saying "Hello, how are you?" he explained. He wandered off.

At one point I remember sitting between these two, taking a deep breath and thinking "This is very weird."

Conversation Two returned and started into a long, fast monologue about students learning to do jobs "like becoming a medical doctor or something lower" and then going for a job interview and answering all the questions but not having any idea what was expected of them. I wondered if he was on drugs. When he left again I turned to Conversation One "Did you understand that?" "Yes." he said. But I was baffled.

At home I told the story to Leslie. For some reason I wondered "Can my horoscope explain this?" I almost never read them. Here it is, from the L.A.Times: Virgo Saturday 11/12/05:

"There's much to process as the world swirls around you. You're not sure what to think. If you don't immediately see the lesson or allow yourself to feel the emotions involved, don't worry. Everything in its time."

Of course I don't believe a word of it. No wait. The horoscope was good advice. Oh, I don't know what to think. There's a reason the Astrological Forecast is on the Comics Page. If I eventually figure out what those two guys were talking about do I have to keep reading my horoscopes?


Saturday, November 12, 2005

In which David hears Ten Baritone Saxophones

Earlier I wrote about hearing a snippet of a Japanese ten baritone sax group. Charles Ulrich read my comment. Being smarter than I am he was able to Google the name: Tokyo-chutei-iki. He sent me this link from Far Side Music in London. Here's another link. Thanks, Charles.

"Far Side" in this case refers to the Far East not to Gary Larson cartoons. For £9.99 they sell a "4 track mini-album" by Tokyo-chutei-iki and I ordered it. Plus shipping etc I paid $21.31 for 12 minutes of music. I'm not disappointed.

It's excellent avant, jazzy, minimalist stuff. The album proudly announces "They use only human voice and baritone saxophones." There's a picture of the ten in a flying-V formation each holding a bari and not worrying too much about what clothing they put on that morning. Judging by the recorded sound, ten live baritone saxophones could probably blow me out of my chair - and then I'd laugh.

The first track "Strength Hardness Length Angle" has a lead vocal - a cross between very fast rap and a patter song with a melodic chorus. My favorite is "Cat Fight" a lot of high harmonics alternating with unison pedal tones and repeated rhythms. The fourth track, recorded live, asks rhetorically "Can 10 bari saxes play in tune?"

Because of the speed of delivery from Far Side Music I might order another album that seems unavailable in the U.S. It's a new one by a group called Cicala Mvta (sort of a Japanese Klezmer-Bulgarian-Punk-Jazz band led by a clarinetist). I listen to their album Deko-Boko often.

Music Reviews

Friday, November 11, 2005

In Which David Collects Random Thoughts

  1. One of life's little pleasures - persimmons. I just had my first of the season. But if you don't know when it's ripe, it's no fun.
  2. According to the L.A. Times being a member of a street gang is good training for a career in the Papparazzi.
  3. Back in the 80's I tried not to shop at any grocery store which had installed price scanners. That didn't last long. Now I'm wishing I could not patronize any business with a voice mail system. (Press 1 if you agree.)
  4. I laughed hysterically at the ending of the Marx Brothers' movie (A Day) At the Circus. An orchestra, on a floating dock, drifts across a lake into the fog whicle playing Wagner. If I have to listen to Wagner please let it be from a great distance.
  5. I could have hit a Mormon Missionary with my car - clean cut young guy in black pants and white shirt on a bike. He ran a red light trying to keep up with another similarly attired guy who had made it through the intersection legally. If I had not been paying attention I would have hit him . . . bam! "Not my fault, officer." But sometimes I think I'm a traffic accident waiting to happen.




Thursday, November 10, 2005

30 Second Spots times three - My Dad Was Crying for a Bird and Fell Asleep in a Chair

I wrote My Dad Was Crying for a Bird very quickly on November 5. So I copied the "Cantus Firmus" part and created a second spot called My Dad Fell Asleep in a Chair. They're each 34 seconds long and the long notes are the same in both. The similarity ends there.

The first title was said by a teen-ager at Starbucks. Her voice could have carried from Pasadena to Santa Monica. The second is a reference to my own Father, whose habit of falling asleep in a chair after work I've recently fallen into.

It occured to me to combine the two simultaneously. Uncreatively I called the combo My Dad Was Crying for a Bird and Fell Asleep in a Chair. Is this the Ugly Music for which life is too short?

Listen to three, two, one or none of them and in any order. They're all linked from the same page.

Explanation of 30 second spots
30 Second Spots

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In which David Has Some Fun Now

S commented about Moment of Coincidence: "... it would seem that the whole idea of the 30" pieces is, on some level, for the excercise in general to be FUN as opposed to being WORK ...."

So you're saying the opposite of FUN is WORK? Makes sense. I often say "no matter how much fun you have doing something, if you do it long enough, eventually it becomes work."

Don't confuse having fun writing music (that's the essence of 30" Spots) with the music itself being fun.

Composers are often given great respect for composing happy music in spite of their lives being total disasters. Couldn't a composer who's having fun, fun, fun all the time write sad music? I think maybe so.

(Now on my CD player: Richard Galliano Septet - Piazzolla Forever - a wonderful album, but not fun. Piazzolla's music is never "fun" but he must have enjoyed composing.)

Music Reviews

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

30 Second Spots - Moment of Coincidence

Moment of Coincidence - an oldie: written August 3, 2005, over three months ago. I have absolutely no memory of what the title referred to. 38 seconds.

My friend Art Jarvinen (whose photo makes it clear he knows the meaning of the word) wrote to say that he thought my pieces were "fun". So I, always the contrarian, picked this piece out of the directory because to me it seems completely the opposite of fun - whatever that is.

Coming soon: more un-fun spots.

Explanation of 30 second spots
30 Second Spots

Monday, November 07, 2005

David's Voter Guide

There's an election in California on Tuesday. If you are:

Impartial information on any of the initiatives is here

Prop. 73 - Abortion Notification - NO - if this passes can coat hangers be far behind?

Props. 74, 75, 76 - Teacher Tenure, Union Politics & Spending Limits - NO, NO & NO - Ask yourself does your daily life benefit more from teachers, nurses, firefighters or police than from land developers, investment companies or big corporations? If you answer yes, vote NO. Read about Arnold's agenda here.

Prop. 77 - Redistricting by Judges - NO, BUT the polls say this one is losing big so I feel safe in voting YES. This would try to send my message that the system does need reform (albeit not this reform particularly).

Props. 78 & 79 - Prescription Drugs - NO & NO - competing propositions with big misleading media campaigns are not a good way to decide issues. If you think you must vote yes on one of these, remember "78 was written by big business, 79 was written by consumer groups" - so Yes on 79. (I would eagerly vote for an initiative to restrict paid signature collection which is allowing big money to manipulate our government.)

Prop. 80 - Electricity REregulation - YES (I guess) - California got screwed by DEregulation a few years ago. Prop 80 claims it will prevent another Enron episode. I hope it works.



Sunday, November 06, 2005

30 Second Spots - Music For A Three Minute Film About Cephalopods

"Music For A Three Minute Film About Cephalopods" - written on November 2, 2005. My friend Mike Boom (tall person, former oboist, tech writer, mycologist, scuba diver & underwater videographer) asked if I'd write music for a 3-minute film about cephalopods that I presume he's making. "Cephalopods?" I hear you ask.

I told him "No" but I would write 30 seconds of music with that as a misleading title and gave him permission to use it as he wants. Here it is, Mike. Turned out to be 36 seconds.

Does it sound like music for an octopus? (Yeah, I guess, but that wasn't intentional I feebly protest.) (Leave your own opinion on this vital question as a comment.)

Does it sound like music for the excellent Chinese Fried Cuttlefish with Peppered Salt from Fu-Shing that Leslie and I had for dinner. No, that would be going too far.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Friday, November 04, 2005

In which David Finishes Reading a Book

I don't have much time to read, especially since this blog. Last August I needed a book to help me fall asleep. I snatched Baudolino by Umberto Eco off a pile of Leslie's books by our bed. "The perfect soporific" I thought. I just finished it this week.

Years ago I tried to read Eco's "Name of the Rose". Couldn't do it. It wasn't until I watched the movie that I had any clue of what was going on. I decided then that my time was not worth reading more Eco.

But Baudolino's first chapter hooked me and now I'm happy to have read it.

Baudolino lives in the 12th century: Medieval Crusades, Holy Roman Empire, Holy Grail. If you know reams about that period you will not read the same book I did; apparently there are many historical and academic levels in Eco's writing to which my brain has no access.

I'd call it an epic novel, the story of Baudolino's life. He's good at telling lies and telling them makes them come true. He's also a man of great faith - especially that a kingdom of Christians exists in the far east. His lifelong goal: find it. He says "The kingdom of the Priest is real because I and my companions have devoted two-thirds of our life to seeking it."

In all this I find parallels to our time. Religous belief in "what is written" makes people do strange things now, too. Eco reminds us that history is what the historians say. Is telling history the same as telling the truth? These days people who disagree with our accepted story are regarded with suspicion.

On my flight back from San Francisco the woman next to me saw "Baudolino" and said "It's his best book". Great. But I still doubt I'll ever want to read another - unless I'm having trouble sleeping.

P.S. You could read this review but all his complaints are about things I liked.

P.P.S. The chapter headings in "Baudolino" were my inspiration for the "In which" headings of these blog posts.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

30 Second Spots - Tilting

"Tilting" - written on October 29, 2005. This one has what I consider a surprise ending, especially considering the opening material. The title is a clue to the source of the purloined first two bars.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In which David Survives his Most Depressing Sunset

A few friends don't believe this but I keep a very regular daily schedule. Bedtime is usually about 6 a.m. and I wake up mid-afternoon. I'll admit that I've made career choices based on what time I needed to be awake.

Since I sleep through so much of the day, in Autumn or Winter the amount of afternoon sunlight I get is very important to me. Bright sunlight is a great awakener.

By late October the days are noticably shorter. One evil night Daylight Savings Time ends and the clock falls back. That next afternoon is always the Most Depressing. It suddenly gets pitch dark way too early and I have to face two more months of even shorter days.

I have tricks for maximizing my few hours of daylight everyday. What were they? In the far north this must happen to people who sleep on normal schedules. But in Southern California it's my own fault.


Friday, October 28, 2005

In which David is driven to the Rite of Spring by Ravel's Bolero

A few days ago Leslie and I were driving home. The radio came on to the opening flute solo of Ravel's Bolero. I intoned (in my best WFMT-style-stuffy-classical-music-announcer voice) "And now our daily performance of Ravel's Bolero."

Turns out that Bolero improved my experience of driving down California Blvd. in Pasadena, very pleasant. At the end the announcer said (in her best perky-I-used-to-work-on-a-Classic-Rock-station voice) "We get a lot of calls for that."

This reminded me of two times in my distant past when Stravinsky's Rite of Spring became the Perfect Driving Music.

I was on California Highway 1 in Big Sur, the twisty-as-a-television-commercial-for-an-expensive-car highway squeezed between the sea and mountains. As I drove and listened, a storm rolled in. The waves and clouds and wind and music combined perfectly.

The second time I was driving on Chicago's freeway system for the first time, not knowing exactly where I was going. Rush hour. Cars were cutting and swerving, signs were whooshing past. Everything was grey and gloomy. The Rite blended in with the impervious metal and cement of Chicago just as well as it had with the imposing rocks and ocean in Big Sur.

Both trips included a bit of danger. Neither was an easy drive for me. But in spite of environmental differences, the music had a nearly identical effect.

Speaking of Ravel's Bolero - there was an article in the recent Wired magazine about a deaf man who can only hear because of a computerized implant in his brain. He desperately wants to listen to Bolero. The software isn't good at distinguishing pitch so he tries to upgrade the software in his head. I bet it makes you appreciate your own hearing.

Music Reviews

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

30 Second Spots - The Professor Tries to Say a Prayer in Class

"The Professor Tries to Say a Prayer in Class" - another little epic written in Starbucks on October 14, 2005. Presented in magnificent low-fi.

The little bit at the end of "The Professor Tries to Tell a Joke in Class", which I especially liked, has become the "religous" inspiration for this piece. You should listen to that one first, I guess, although they really have nothing to do with one another - except the title and one mordant little turn.

Explanation of 30 second spots
30 Second Spots

Monday, October 24, 2005

In which David Plugs a Song About Hearing 2 Radio Stations at Once

I've talked about how I listen to NPR (with a Tango radio playing simultaneously).

I heard a 2-minute novelty song on WFMU today which refers to listening to two radio stations simultaneously.

It's called Jazz versus Rock & Roll (yeah, that's the title) by Woody Byrd. I'm guessing it's a product of the 50's. It's on Jaro records.

The singer tells how he and his girlfriend disagree on music - he's all-jazz and she's all-rock. Little snippets in the music illustrate. Their conflict escalates until both are always blasting their own stations. You can hear this in the tune. (It's only slightly Cageian.)

As in any good song, the conflict is resolved at the end. I won't say how. My Grandmother would have approved.

Go to Todd-o-phonic Todd's archive page at WFMU , play the show from October 22, 2005. Jazz vs. Rock & Roll starts at 29 minutes and 35 seconds.

Music Reviews

Sunday, October 23, 2005

In which Doctor Phil has a big head

This is Leslie with Doctor Phil's head. She thinks it's a silly picture. (She's correct.)

Years ago I heard a lecture by Ram Dass who asked the question "How many personalities in popular culture, as revealed by People Magazine, do you experience as being fulfilled individuals?"

My immediate answer was none of them. Every pop idol, movie star, news anchor seems hung up somehow.

"Is Dr. Phil an exception?" He gives out serious personal advice all the time so his personal act must be together, right? But he must have issues about something. Can a person give out heavy advice to others day after day without developing some insecurities of his own?

National publicity has to make it worse. Imagine going to a movie and seeing your own head, twice life size & back lit, on the way to the parking garage. Imagine a picture of Dr. Phil himself standing next to Dr. Phil's head.

Maybe I just project my own insecurities on the blank canvass of famous people? No. That can't possibly explain Tom Cruise.


Friday, October 21, 2005

In which David goes Random in "only Music" mode

  • I heard Sandra Tsing Loh on KPCC talking about Van Nuys High School, home of the Zappa Institute of Technology to which Gail donated Frank's sound system. I found two ZIT website URLs but neither was working.
  • I watched an ABC Primetime article about the adolescent singing duo Lamb and Lynx Gaede, whose mother has made them stars of the White Nationalist movement. Imagine little Nazi Olsen twins. They even sang a song about Rudolf Hess.
  • Art Jarvinen's band The Invisible Guys played live on the Internet from Kulak's Woodshed. It sounded great and I could actually see them until my screen-saver came on which caused me to get just a blank screen & clicking sounds. Then they were invisible (and inaudible).
  • I like my latest CD purchase: Taste the Secret by Ugly Duckling. My third rap CD (I'm so old I'm not even sure if rap is the right word). It's a concept album - about waring fast food chains: Meat Shake (where everything contains meat) versus Veggie Hut (where everything doesn't). The samples are jazzy, show-tuney - the lyrics and dramatic skits are clever and funny.

Music Reviews

30 Second Spots - As God Intended

This one's called "As God Intended" - Starbucks on October 7, 2005 -
At 47 seconds it's a "spot and a half" Also it's not very loud - so you might want to turn up the volume a bit.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In which David tests his liberalism in a trial by radio

A few months ago this billboard appeared in Pasadena. "I'm a Liberal," I thought, "Let's find out."

They were right. I didn't like it. But not because of what they said.

I agreed with about half of what I heard. Half the facts. Half the conclusions. Sometimes a true fact was even matched with a logical conclusion.

But two aspects made me hate this station. Just like other talk radio I've heard - including the left-wing Air America.

First - I hated the commercials. Radio commercials generally suck, but these fell off the scale. Many are personal endorsements. Buying new windows and gold coins is supposedly very important. Hucksterism destroys these guys credibility.

And there's a lot of commercial time. Waiting for the actual talk to resume was unbearable. (I can withstand television ads better because I like video effects and I enjoy parsing the sublimnal plotlines.)

Second - I hated the attitude. The hosts and guests and callers were always - always - angry and offended about something. Either these guys actually have a personality like that (probably bad for their life expectancy) or they put on the attitude intentionally to keep listeners from tuning out during the endless commercials (that would be very cynical).

So I'm back to listening to NPR. By comparison it's like a court of law.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

In which David reflects on saxophones, Moondog and automobile ads

A NPR article on Friday flogged a CD complication of world music. In the intro one eight-second snippet of cool chords caught my ear while the announcer said "The Japanese offer up ten, yes ten, baritone saxophones."

"Let me hear the rest of that" I thought. I sat in the car for the entire interview but heard nothing more about saxes. I searched the Internet when I got home. Nada. (Except one curious reference to two ("Yuch") jazz bands with multiple bari saxes.)

A few weeks ago I heard a multi-saxophone cut ("Paris") by Moondog on WFMU. "Very Cool" I ordered the album The German Years. I'd heard Moondog's music a little when I was a student but have had no contact since.

In theory it's music I should like a lot: catchy tunes, interesting counterpoint, upbeat attitude without pop cliches. But after listening to the entire album I thought "This music is way too consonant." I guess he resolves all his dissonances properly. Nothing wrong with simple harmonies unless that's all there is. Gotta break the rules sometimes.

Two of Moondog's tunes are used to sell luxury automobiles on television (Paris and Bird's Lament). I've seen the ads dozens of times. For the life of me I can't remember which brand of car. I could look it up, but I'd really rather not know. Some mega-corporation is paying big bucks to entertain me with mysterious music and I can't even identify their product. All is well.

Music Reviews

Friday, October 14, 2005

In which David finds fauna at Starbucks

I removed the sanitary wrapping from my straw and a bit of paper was left, attached by static..

Looks like an animal - if you use your imagination. (No imagination? Please borrow mine.) Posted by Picasa

30 Second Spots - Strange Happy Music

This one's called "Strange Happy Music" - Starbucks on October 12, 2005

I read an article in Wired Magazine about publisher Tim O'Reilly who asked people to describe their passions in 3 words. What would I have said? And the phrase "Strange Happy Music" was born.

Leslie said twice that she liked this one.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots