Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm the Burning Bush, I'm the Burning Fire, I'm the Bleeding Volcano

That animated gif isn't from this year. This year there's been snow on the ground continuously since, since, well, let's call it forever, because I can't remember. But there's not as much as last year. It's too cold to snow. There's no ground showing or anything, but the snow is  glacial, not slide-y.

I have to pay close attention to the weather because it's hard to heat the house. I don't watch television, and wouldn't watch a TV weather report if I did. I do look at a webpage that has high and low temps projected on a calendar. Well, I did. I got to be a fairly good hand at triangulating what the actual temperature might be by using the hinky numbers they offered. I used to use one webpage, but it went full retard, hid all the temperature numbers, and covered the entire surface of the website with video thumbnails that tout YouTube videos with titles like: You won't believe what happened to this one couple while they were shoe shopping and eating artisanal cupcakes on their honeymoon! The entire page turned into linkbait crapola too stupid for Buzzfeed. The weather was around back, I guess, like it would be if you bought an elephant and fed it refried beans.

I turned it off and tried what my wife calls the Happy Funtime Weather! webpage. She calls it that because they always say it will be five to ten degrees warmer than it is. It cheers her up to see it. It's like people telling you that you look mahvelous when you're caught taking the trash out to the curb in your sweat clothes and slippers, with your hair making architectural poses and sleep seeds in your eyes. Besides, who are you going to believe, the weather channel or your lying eyes and the thermometer?

Anyway, I turned it on a few days ago, and Happy Funtime Weather! decided they'd change the site to default to Centrigade temperatures, because they're hopeless weenies, and it said it was going to be 22 below zero that day, which looked a bit off to me. It took me a few moments to figure out what had happened.

It had been 17 below zero a week ago, but that was good old Fahrenheit numbers. On the same day I got up and saw it was 17 below zero at daybreak, the Happy Funtime Weather! channel was trumpeting a story I wasn't interested in from a Maine newspaper. It said that some commissar had announced that ALL WAS WELL, and because it was so hot all the time, people in Maine shouldn't worry about their heating bills, because it was so hot. Those bills were going to be so low, because it was so hot.

I've run out of shipping pallets to burn, so I'm slowly taking apart the barbarous shelving someone built out of rough lumber all around  the basement of my house 75 years ago, and I'm burning it in the furnace.  Luckily, none of that will show up on by heating bill, which will be so low, because it's so hot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Putting on the Ritz Cracker

Kids gotta make their own fun. They pick up all the stuff we leave lying around the house of the world, and play blocks with it as best they can. It's not up to them what kind of stuff they find to play with when they escape the playpen. Crack pipe or Rubik's Cube, they're bound to fiddle with it.

My children are a rock band in my attic. I mean that literally as well as figuratively. I have seen what other parents are subjected to when their children get old enough to make amplified noise, and it ain't pretty. My children are always delightful, and I never get tired of hearing what they play. I guess that means we left the right stuff on the living room floor. Yay us.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Epiphone Wildkat Reviews, Unorganized Hancock-Style

Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Reviews Are All the Rage

My two sons have a band called Unorganized Hancock. They've been recording music videos for a couple of years, and they perform here and there around the state of Maine where we live. It's interesting to see which of their YouTube music videos become more popular than others, and try to figure out why.

Unorganized Hancock: The Most Famous Band You Never Heard Of

Unorganized Hancock have almost reached 50,000 YouTube views for their YouTube channel. No matter what YouTube says, their algorithms don't count all, or even a small minority of the views these videos generate. YouTube claims they count embedded views, but they don't. If you're unfamiliar with the term "embedded," it means that you watch them directly on the website that features them, without going directly to YouTube first. YouTube might count them if you're already logged into YouTube, which is uncommon when people are reading text-centric blogs and websites like mine. Actually, I doubt they count those, either.

Unorganized Hancock's Grandmother Doesn't Count, Apparently

I estimate that Unorganized Hancock has actually had well over 250,000 video views. It's easy for me to tell, because I can see how many people watch them on my blog alone. Hell, their grandmother has watched their videos more than 50,000 times. The boys have been embedded on lots of other blogs besides mine, many with much more traffic than mine. YouTube fibs, for reasons of its own. They want people to use YouTube as a social media platform, and that's that. If you've ever wondered why you find YouTube videos that say "embedding disabled by owner's request," that's why. The account holder is tired of showing the video without getting YouTube hits on his counter.

They Did A Killer Version of Take Five

Unorganized Hancock recorded Dave Brubeck's Take Five about two years ago. I re-posted it on Wednesday, a charming form of recycling, I hope. My little drummer boy was only nine when that video was made, and he was playing flawlessly in 5/4 Time with no metronome, a near impossibility at his age. His big brudder played two guitar parts, and the bass part too. The video was very well-received, and embedded at dozens of blogs and message boards. Their original dub of the song, which has a very cute joke at the beginning of it, has about 4600 views on the counter, and a hi-def upload that's straight music has another 2600. That's nonsense of course. Those videos got ten times that, easy, but let's not quibble. A broken ruler makes the same, reliable mistake. Let's go with it.

Minor Swing, By Minors, Swinging

The most popular video Unorganized Hancock has recorded, Take Five, is about to be eclipsed by their take on Minor Swing, made famous by gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. It's a so-so take for the boys if you ask me. They were tired, and the big one had been sick, and though the audience wouldn't notice so much, I can still see it wasn't their lively best. It did OK when I posted it on this blog, and then it was forgotten. Here it is:

Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Reviews Are Now Unorganized Hancock's Biggest Fans

Minor Swing is about to pass Take Five, even though it wasn't that popular when it was posted, and we've done nothing to promote it. That's because Unorganized Hancock's version of Minor Swing made the list of the most prominent videos for people searching for: Epiphone Wildkat Guitar Reviews. It really isn't a review, or it's a far superior review than all the others, depending on your outlook on life. The Heir plays an Epiphone Wildkat Guitar that his mother and I gave him for Christmas a couple years back, using money that generous supporters of this blog put in our tipjar. The guitar is prominently displayed in the thumbnail of the video, completely by accident. That's it. Every morning when they get up, their YouTube counter tells them that somewhere between 25 and 100 people watch that video while they were asleep, because they want to see a Epiphone Wildkat Review, and the thumbnail is irresistible.

Hell, they've played Minor Swing live and done a better job:

That second video doesn't have the Epiphone Wildkat guitar in the thumbnail picture, so it has 384 views, no comments, and 10 Likes.

By this method -- or lack of a method, just YouTube madness -- Unorganized Hancock's version of Minor Swing is watched more than any of their other videos, by people who have nothing to do with me, and nothing to do with them. You get an unvarnished opinion, straight from the world that Unorganized Hancock must enter if they are ultimately to be successful. Do strangers like you? The rest is applesauce. Strangers do.

A Busted Ruler Measures the Same Way, Every Time

Unorganized Hancock's version of Minor Swing currently has 77 likes. [oops, while I was writing this, the counter turned to 78] There are more comments than any other video, and they're full of enthusiastic swears in affirmation. That video has delivered more subscribers to their YouTube channel in the last month than they got in the previous year. People looking for Epiphone Wildkat reviews on YouTube are quickly becoming Unorganized Hancock's biggest audience, if only because they're the only ones that are being counted fully. It's the way the Internet works. It doesn't make a lick of sense, but no one asked us how to run it. The kids just play -- play Minor Swing -- along.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Preciso Praticar Meu Português. Never Mind. They Speak Beatles

That's from a show in Brazil called Programa do Jô. It's something along the lines of the Johnny Carson show. Oops, I mean the Leno Show. Dammit, the Letterman Show or something.

Wait a minute, I have no idea if Letterman is still on the air, either. Whatever. On Programa do Jô, a Chilean waiter serves the guests cocktails and food while they're on the air. And they have Beatles cover bands that probably don't have any idea what the words mean in the songs they're singing.
Hey, you've got to guzzle Cabernet!

Hey, you've got an ugly fiancee!

Hey, Yul Brynner hides your lunch away!

Hey, read me a book by le Carre!

Hey, you've got to give me some sorbet!
As I said, whatever. Most people have no idea what the words are, or what they're driving at. In most cases, the composer had no idea what they were driving at either. Writing songs is more a knack than a trade. You're supposed to give the audience a vague feeling one way or the other, and try to concatenate the notes so it can be hummed. That's about it.

A half-decent folk song is hard to come by these days. These Brazilian coves knew where to look.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Take Five. Now Hipster Brubeck Aficionado Approved

Firstly  let me adjust my Patagonia heritage jacket. I won't take it off, even if it's 95 degrees at the loft party. I wear it open. Totally insouciant that way. There's a hint of plaid underneath. Not in my outfit. That's entirely plaid. The hint of plaid is on my skin. I've never been outdoors in the daytime, so I'm sort of sallow, and my plaid shirt, T-shirt, tie, and underpants are starting to leave little checkerboard patterns directly on my skin. Must be all the Fair Trade dye. I'm not wearing sunglasses, of course. That would be silly. I'm wearing mountaineering glasses. Inside. At night.

Anyway, I only listen to Nepalese Dave Brubeck cover bands. You probably haven't heard of them.

When I can't find Nepalese Dave Brubeck cover bands on vinyl at my locavore Greek yogurt stand/independent music store, I'll settle for these two deck cronkites laying it down in an unheated hovel. It's Western Maine, but at least it isn't midtown. They make me want to bust a polyrhythm moby. Peace out.

[Update: Many Thanks to Kathleen M. in the Nutmeg State for her constant support of my boys' efforts via the TipJar. We greatly appreciate it.]

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Everyone Knows A Trombone Can Kill Anything

I do believe the Geneva Convention specifically mentions torture devices like trombones. It's right up there with harsh language, unsolicited head baths,  and Taco Bell food, which if I recall correctly is listed under germ warfare.

That video has a style I recognize. There don't seem to be any credits appended to it, but it sure looks like a video I ran years ago by a guy named Czarek Cwazny. I have no idea why his parents named him after the bug juice I used to spill on the carpet in the living room while watching Star Trek, but he's a talented feller. If it's not him, he should sue, or talk angrily, or something.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Play Is the School of Rules

I'm like a mind reader. I see around corners. Don't envy me. It's a curse.

On Saturday morning, the 10th of January, I posted a video of a person creeping out onto the field and interfering with a play during a Patriots football game in 1961. If it was described to you in today's terms, you'd assume that the person that did it was a jerk, seeking some sort of fleeting fame by barging in on proceedings much more important than his little life. It was nothing like that. It was kind of charming.

Now, then. Later on Saturday the 10th:

Professional football was, and should still be, unimportant. The game in the video from 1961 was a nearly meaningless exhibition of a trivial occupation being performed by people too old to pretend they were college students any more. The fellow who crept into the end zone from the throng they once allowed to stand on the field is an average guy, doing something on a lark, and slipping back into anonymity. He probably made more money at his job than all the football players, and was likely a salubrious person with an excess of twinkle in his eye. His interference in an unimportant game wasn't commendable, I guess, but it was funny, and about as antisocial as throwing toilet paper in the shrubs of that stringy lady that gives out toothbrushes and a lecture on Halloween instead of candy. No. Big. Deal. They didn't bother to play the down over. The ref signaled the game was over, and that was it. Dinner was on the table, I imagine.

The true purpose of sports is not to supply the participants with enough money to buy two diamond earrings to wear under their helmet, and to afford better lawyers when they cold-cock their concubine in an elevator. The purpose of sports is not to divide up spoils. Sports are the school of rules.

It's half a joke that football players are allowed anywhere near schoolchildren to lecture them on "fitness," and character. They are, almost to man, physical freaks who abuse drugs to cheat. They have nothing to offer the average person in the way of advice. They would be valuable if they were willing to participate in the school of rules, but they're not interested. The purpose of sports in general is to train people to compete with one another under a set of rules that apply equally to everyone. You're supposed to learn that the desired outcome does not dictate the rules. You're not supposed to work backwards from desired outcomes to determine the rules on the fly, either. You learn that if you are unable to get the outcome you desire, you're not supposed to resort to violence, cheating, or much more importantly, saying you were cheated when you were not.

The purpose of arbitrary rules in sports (look it up, you have no idea what arbitrary actually means) is to level the playing field. The opposite of arbitrary rules, strictly enforced, is not fairness. Fairness is not a destination. Fairness is the journey. Fighting breaks out when there's no recourse to the rule book anymore, just special pleading to get what you want. When laws are enforced on a sliding scaled to ensure desired outcomes, they're not laws anymore. Wars are started that way.

I don't know what made me think of the trench coat defender, but a few short hours later, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, in danger of being unable to get the outcome he wanted whether he earned it or not, charged out onto the field of play and deliberately interfered with the regular course of play.

He didn't know the rules, or more likely, the rules didn't deliver the outcome he desired, so he wanted to change them, right then and there. He charged at a ref, and appeared to bump into him, an offense that should have gotten him ejected from the game immediately, and earned a six-figure fine from the league. Instead, he was granted a free time out by the officials. He admitted -- he boasted -- that he deliberately did it to stop the game and berate the officials. He's been know to strike officials, before, to get his way, by the way.

I'm not like that referee, or all the referees in the NFL. I would have immediately ejected him for that. If he objected, physically, to the ejection, either he'd be picking up his teeth with a broken arm, or I would be. He's a jerk that knows the referee has been trained to forgive almost any behavior on his part. A coach is not expected to teach in the school of rules anymore. That referee is a better man than I am. The referees are the only people on the field that ever show the slightest bit of aplomb.

In the game on Saturday, the rules were being applied to both teams equally, and officiated fairly and accurately. The referees actually cut the loudmouth coach extra slack, literally pointing out players on the opposition and telling his defenders,"Do not cover him."  The coach didn't care. He knew he was going to lose because he's not as good at his job as the opposing coach, and never will be. So he pitched a fit, and literally interfered in the game rather than play by the rules. When he did lose, an event that was entirely due to his inability to coach, he accused the other team of cheating. He knew it wasn't true, but thought it might be useful to him personally if he said it. He knows sportswriters don't know the rules, and don't care what they are either, and they fawn over loudmouth jerks like him rather than people that play by the rules. But then again, the NFL doesn't function like a school of rules anymore. At least not any rules useful to anyone but a thug or a gambler.

Unlike the trench coat linebacker, there wasn't any charm in it. But then again, no one calls Baltimore "Charm City" anymore, do they?

[Related, from the Rumford Meteor]