Thursday, January 31, 2008

Computer BANISHMENT...
Yep, I've had to resort to drastic measures here...

Computers are so doggone ADDICTIVE. After you've e-mailed everyone who's taken the time to write to you, well, that's only the beginning. You have a blog to keep up, after all...and to make it visually interesting, first you go to Google and find an image which parallels the subject you're blogging about. Then you download the image to your blogsite, and then you begin typing like a madman. But I don't stop there...after editing, editing, editing, then posting my post, off I go, into the search engines...perhaps I'll research a singer or a musical group, which is endlessly absorbing. Or perhaps I'll spend hours on YouTube, watching not only videos of groups I never got to see when I was a kid, but oftentimes I'll go waay back into the past and watch torch singers and jazzmen do their thing. I love going online...there's so much STUFF to flood my mind with in cyberspace!
But lately, the amount of time I've spent online is getting more and more irritating. I've been on the computer as much as 7 or 8 hours (HOURS!) over the course of the evening. In the meantime, I have records that don't get listened to, guitars that sit in the corner that don't get played, TV shows that need to be watched, and most of all, a BRAIN that never seems to function on anything but 'Tilt', especially when I'm on computer and trying to do several other things at the same time. I'm drawn to the computer, but sometimes I hate myself for the amount of time I've spent online, and I've had that feeling more and more lately. But, I have taken ACTION...and it's something that needed to be done...
My laptop computer now sits in my KITCHEN. It's a nice way to start the day; a cuppa coffee, a bowl of bran flakes, and the computer. So I'll be online for a couple of hours, and then I've actually got several hours of daylight left, in which I can Go Out And Actually DO THINGS. And, the main reason I've got daylight left, is that I am not online until 2am (or later) anymore. In the evening, I may be online again for an hour or two; never past 9pm. I'm getting to bed and waking up earlier, which I've needed to do. More time for visits to the record store, or to the ocean beaches. I'm not kidding when I say that over the last half-year, the computer has controlled ME, and that's not good.
Since banishing my computer to the kitchen, and trying to control how late I'm on the damn thing, I've actually found "quiet" returning to my evening hours. The hustle and bustle of society is enough to take without me subjecting myself to it online as well. I've posted a number of entries on this subject lately, about how much I've been blogging and how much I've been doing for my Yahoo group (miss_lee_morse), in addition to everything else. I've been online so much lately that I feel like someone, somewhere should be paying ME. Bill Gates, are you out there reading this? I'm using your Windows program, after all. Wanna put me on the payroll? My HP laptop actually has wear marks on the chassis. The 'left-click' button on mytouch-pad mouse is worn though the metallic paint, down to the white plastic underneath. My letter "N" is starting to wear off...and I just checked, and "E" and "R" are showing dubious signs of key wear as well.
I think life is about "balance". And mine has been all out of whack lately. I don't want to spend any more evenings, checking e-mail repeatedly, in addition to visiting other interactive blogsites I visit over and over again. I figure, if I can blog every couple of nights, spend time on my Yahoo group page maybe once or twice a week, and just try to take back control of my of my life, that'll be a step in the right direction. So my poor little laptop sits out here in the kitchen, in banishment and exile as I try to discipline myself a little bit. If I take it into the TV room, it's too much of a temptation for me. Am I computer-addicted? Sounds like it to me. I've been going online since 1999 and you think I'd have some control over this. Well, I'm trying. How did we ever LIVE without computers? I guess I'm trying to remember. Well, I've got to go now. The phonograph is calling me. There's music that needs to be listened to...
There! I got done with this blogpost at 7:01pm. I'll check my e-mail once more (!!!) (old habits die hard), and then I'm outta here. If you have any feedback on this subject, I'd sure appreciate hearing from ya...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This is a FAIR AND BALANCED blogpost...
Yep, we're covering both sides of the political spectrum here...

I listen to quite a few newscasts, both on radio and TV, and whenever I hear one of those little update blurbs from the Fox Network, they always close their 'newsbits' with the phrase, "Fox News...fair and balanced." In other words, Fox is trying to tell the Public that they're not what they know people think they ARE. Or if Fox News IS actually unfair and unbalanced, they don't wanna admit it. Can't blame 'em. Who'd wanna admit that? It's like when someone tells you, "I'd never do a thing like that" most cases, well, they WOULD do a thing like that but they don't want you to know they would.

So, if the Fox Network has to tell people that they're not a fascist-oriented news organization who've added to their staff many of those who were laid off from the now-defunct WEEKLY WORLD NEWS (the paper that would tell you that Elvis and Eleanor Roosevelt have gotten together up in Heaven and are hatching a three-eyed, wart-covered baby with five arms and a head the size of a medicine ball), well, then I guess I'd better tell everyone right now that I, too am fair and balanced. Although my psychiatrist might wonder about the "balanced" part. But, with this posting, I have sought to bring you both sides of the political spectrum, presented nowhere else as it's presented here...

First, we go behind the scenes at last night's all-important State of the Union speech; important because it's the last chance we'll have to endure President Bush wriggling around in front of the cameras and assembled political bigwigs like a cockroach trying to dodge a Rid-Ex pest controller...

All the talking heads who believe they are so wise, but they're mainly just reading words someone else has written for them on cue-cards said the real "show" at last night's speech was "the changing of the guard"; the new image of the Democratic Party manifesting itself even as the old guard, the old party, and the sorry excuse we have for a Prezzident were bowing out with its last State of the Union message. Am I "fair and balanced" yet? I'm trying, I'm trying...

Next up, we have the Prezzident hisself in action. Despite all his shortcomings, he might actually believe he's doing the right thing, keeping the Iraq war going the way he has. Maybe he believes he's a man on a mission, and that even at this late hour, he will finally find a way to convert the masses to his way of thinking. If indeed he's thinking. The jury's still out on that one. But he's got a message, and he's spread it far and wide, and continues to do so, every chance he gets...

From day one, I've been Anti-Bush; he seems to bring out that trait in me. At the same time, I guess we were all hopeful, that time the TV cameras showed us The Mighty Bush on top of a heap of 9/11 rubble, telling us all that whoever was responsible was gonna get it, and get it good. And then, to prove that, he launched an attack on Iraq. The Wrong Country. I suppose he did what he believed he should do. And his approval ratings reflect that. I'm just waiting to see if there is such a thing as a less-than-zero approval rating. And we may yet find out. That's probably why Dick Cheney doesn't run for Prezzident...he knows his approval ratings approach that of the average axe murderer.

Sure, it's fun to poke at the Prezzidency, but sadly, things are as bad, if not worse, than more intelligent satirists than me dare imagine. So we're gonna have "change" in November. That's what we're already being told. Let's hope that the current meaning of "change" doesn't involve the three words, "stay the course". John McCain's already saying that. Shudder.

DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended in any way to be a substutute for a normal balanced diet. It will definitely not reduce the risk of cancer for those who smoke while reading it, and is not designed to take the place of normal medical procedures involving gastritis, shingles, migraine headaches or dry, peeling skin, the symptoms of which may actually be worsened should you spend too much time reading my stuff. Easy payments. Come as you are. No salesman will call. If I've determined you're eligible and you still don't get it, I'll give it to you free of charge. One size fits all. Terms available. No more embarrassing moments. This is your big chance. Don't miss it. Above photos ripped off from for your reading and viewing enjoyment.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Whatever, let's just find a replacement QUICK...

Tonight, maybe even now as I'm putting this post together, "Mr. Prezzident" will give his "State Of The Union" speech. I don't care. I don't give a rat's patootie what Mr. Bush is going to say. This country is floundering under his leadership. Leadership? What leadership? And, can any of the up-and-coming candidates do any better than Dubya, Chimpy, or whatever you wanna call him?? I haven't a clue. Can they do any worse? LET'S HOPE NOT! They all say stuff, promise stuff, and rip each other to shreds in dog-and-pony-show debates. I am very disenchanted with the whole scene.

Ross Perot, if you're out there, why don't YOU try running again? You just might find yourself in the White House come next January if ya do. That's 'cos, I am not seeing anyone right now, who makes me think things are gonna be much different once the existing Prezzendial term ends. (See the 'countdown clock' in the left margin of this blog; yep, that's how much more time we've got to endure the Current Pretender To The Prezzidency.) Meantime, the little comic item pictured below is how a lot of politicians, both Democrat and Republican, as well as at least 70% of the electorate, feels about the Current Administration:

Goodbye, Mr. Prezzident. Your time is almost through. After this speech you're giving tonight, please just go hide out at Camp David for the rest of your term, okay? I can't recall when people were more disenchanted with a Prezzident. Maybe in Herbert Hoover's time. Maybe in the Nixon administration, post-Watergate-breakin. Maybe in the Clinton administration, post-Monica.

I guess tomorrow is Super Tuesday, in which a few folks in a few assorted states will be attempting to tell the rest of us who we can vote for come November. The only thing I know for sure is that I don't want to see anyone get elected who wants to keep our nation involved in the Iraq situation any longer. The only way to fight a "war on terror" is to protect ourselves AGAINST it. Secure our borders. Put our troops to work here, in our country. Let all of those Middle East wackos blow themselves up. They're already doing that. Can you say "suicide bomber?" I knew ya could...


Politics, schmolotics!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

POTHOLES on the Information Superhiway...'s getting to be quite a bumpy ride, going online!

Now, it could be that I'm spending waaay too much time online, but I've been noticing lately that it does almost no good to have a fast connection when there are so many divots and potholes out there in cyberspace that slow down the whole online experience, resulting in computer users (such as moi) ripping their hair out and swearing out loud at their desktops or laptops. Maybe Hollywood should make an updated version of "The Shining", in which Jack Nicholson would run into the room, madly out of control, axe in hand, and we watch in sheer abject horror as he chops a computer into smithereens. I bet it would be a hit! Golden Globe stuff, that...

I'm referring to programs installed within the computer as well as other annoying things on websites out there in cyber-wasteland. For instance, my firewall (which I pay for) is always throwing up little boxes on my screen, saying something to the effect of, "Such-and-such program is trying to take over your computer in its quest for world domination and to further mankind's endless suffering" or some such thing. Pop, pop, pop, these things keep popping up on my screen. Just when I get going with something (like this post), pop, pop, pop, I have to click "access" or "deny" whenever one of my firewall warning boxes pop up on the screen. I know the firewall's trying to do its job, but I wish it would DO it's job WITHOUT BOTHERING ME. I don't want my firewall to reject everything, but if I don't, I'm sentenced to a lifetime of computer cyber damnation, shooting down these firewall popup boxes.

Another really stupid thing my firewall does...periodically, it scans my computer for viruses, gremlins, bottom-feeding cyber scavengers and all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things. But before it scans, a box pops up on the screen telling me it's going to scan. I shoot down that box, then compute for a while. Then another box pops up telling me that the "scan is in progress", so I have to shoot down THAT box. Then, another box pops up later on, telling me the "scan is complete"...and as I shoot down THAT box, I think to myself (and sometimes yell), "DAMMIT!!! JUST DO YOUR JOB AND QUIT POPPING STUFF UP ON MY SCREEN!!!" I really hate those kind of interruptions, but alas, I need a firewall to protect myself from all of the cyber-sharks out there. Now I need something to protect me from the FIREWALL, because every time it sends me a pop-up box, it freezes my computer until I shoot it down. I get really P.O.'ed about this. It gets my GOAT. Baaaaaaaaa........

And lately, just lately, whenever I visit Yahoo e-mail, if I roll my mouse across the ad at the top of the e-mail page, the ad DOUBLES in length, covering up my e-mails!!! I think that is a very inconsiderate and obtrusive way of advertising; in short it absolutely SUCKS and REEKS. And, sometimes, Yahoo or other websites feature animated ads which contain a whole lot of moving things, and those moving things clutter up and scatter files all over your hard drive, which means you have to sweep up and condense the mess on your disk by running a scandisk or defrag, to "compact" your files before you can visit websites again. In short, it's like a TV commercial that not only invades your mental space; it dumps garbage all over the floor that you have to clean up. I think, anymore, that computers aggravate me. Sometimes I wish I had never gone online. I am trying to wean myself off being hooked up to computers so much. I have a life to live, y'know. Honestly, sometimes my computer makes me feel like this...

The more we make things easier for ourselves, the more complicated things turn out to be. I wonder how much of my life I've wasted, waiting for something to download, waiting for the computer to re-boot, waiting for a computer-cleanup program to finish running so I can get back to what I was doing...heck, I spend enough time online without all of these cyber-complications being thrown my way. All I know is, computer usage is more and more like the picture I included above; it all seems to be getting more and more complicated, just to be able to do the same things you used to do without all those complications. But then again, on a rainy day like today, having online access is a fun thing. Or, it was until annoying little boxes began popping up on my screen. Bang! Shot down another one! I'm having more fun than Dick Cheney in a hunting party!

Another indication that I'm online too much: The silver-gray paint coating on my touchpad 'mouse' is wearing off. I've only had this laptop a year, and it's beginning to look pretty weatherbeaten. And no, that hasn't happened because I've been pounding on my computer. Not yet, anyway.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Buncha words about a Buncha stuff...

...gotta feed the ol' blog-beast, after all...

Heloise ain't got nothin' on me: How about a household tip? I needed to clean the tape heads on my cassette deck the other day...(I remember how cool it was to have a cassette deck, and now they're considered antiques)...basically, you need virtually pure alcohol to clean 'em so your playback sounds nice and spiffy. And, I'd thot I had a bottle of extra-pure rubbing alcohol around here somewhere. That's what I'd thot. And of course, because I needed it right then, I couldn't find it. So, just for the heck of it, I got out my little plastic bottle of ear-drops...turns out they contain 95% alcohol, which is as pure as the rubbing alcohol I normally use. And it worked just fine on the tape heads! So what does the ear-drop company do; buy cases of rubbing alcohol and put it in their ear-drop bottles and sell 'em, turning a huge profit? A minuscule bottle of ear-drops that barely contains enough to fill a thimble sells for about the same price (if not more) than a fairly big bottle of Rubbing Alcohol. Ear-drops are almost pure alcohol. Use 'em enough and you might just turn into an ear-o-holic. "Can You Hear Me Now?" "Good!" "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW"? "Owwww, man, you don't have to shout!"

Every neighborhood has at least one: I'm talking about a dog that just barks, barks, barks for no real reason. Well, the dog might have a reason, but sometimes I wonder if they can even think. Anyway, my neighbor's dog has an annoying high yelp which it utilizes to maximum volume whenever the owner lets it out of the house. "Owoooooo....growl....barkbarkbarkBarkBark BARK BARK BARKBARKBARK!!!" The dog starts out at maximum volume, since it starts out barking next door to me. Then the 'barking machine' runs insanely through the entire neighborhood, barking at everything...barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark...until his barks grow fainter...alas, I know it'll return to the house next door, and it's barkbarkbarkBarkBarkBarkBARKBARKBARKBARK until the owner lets it in, and then, total silence. I like dogs; I think it's cool to watch them go crazy on the beach. But I'll never own one. Too much "doggone" noise. I view barking dogs the same way I view rowdy infants in a restaurant when I'm trying to have breakfast: Both should be ABOLISHED.

Every neighborhood also has one of these: There's always at least one resident in the neighborhood who doesn't believe in having a MUFFLER on his car. Across the street, a car starts up. Vrooooooooom......and instead of letting it idle for a couple minutes to let it warm up, he sits in the car punching the gas pedal...Vroom. Vroom. Vroom! Vroom! VROOM VROOM VROOM VROOOOOOOOOOM!!! It's at this point I begin tearing out the hair that hasn't fallen from my scalp yet, and then when I'm good and riled, he takes off, not gently...VROOOOOOOOM....then he gets a little further away; Vroooooooooooom....and he then enters the city limits, 2 miles north of me, vroooooooom, and then he pulls out onto the highway, 5 miles away from me, vrooooooooooooooom.....and then he returns home, and the afore-described "vroom" process happens again, only in reverse, as he gets back to the 'hood.

What my neighborhood doesn't have: An oversaturation of police personnel waiting to bust motorists for doing 2 miles an hour over the speed limit. It also doesn't have SNOW, which I've pretty much grown to despise over the years. The Snow was more fun when I was a little kid. Of course, everything was more fun when I was a kid. Except for getting beaten up by school bullies, that is. That, I coulda done without. I also have not seen an interstate highway in over a year now. That's just fine with me too. Any particular freeway on-ramp at any given time is just an accident waiting to happen as the roads fill up with uncaring drivers who'd rather mow you down than move over and let you onto the road.

A lateral move in the broadcast world: One of my favorite TV channels, "Court TV" was renamed "Tru TV" as of January 1st...although I haven't watched "Tru" in the daytime, this re-naming, I would suppose, means that somewhere on down the line, Court TV won't pony up for any more expensive gavel-to-gavel trial coverage. They'll just show re-runs of crime programs in the daytimes that originally debuted at least 5 years ago on Court TV's night schedule. Shows about homicides, shows about prison life...why DO I watch that stuff? I gotta be nuts.

Shaken, not stirred: I just picked up a VHS copy of a James Bond movie I haven't seen yet; it's 1985's "Licence to Kill" in which Timothy Dalton is Mr. 007. Dalton was okaaaay, I suppose, but it really doesn't matter...the script features minimal dialogue, and the film features a whole lotta cool action scenes...especially the last half-hour of the movie...the action has to be seened to believe; car crashes, motorcycle crashes, things blowing up, other things burning, and plenty of roundhouse right upper-cuts to the opponent's face. True culture. Next thing you know, I'll be watching NASCAR. Vroom, Vroom!!!!! And I'll turn it up to drown out the sound of my neighbor's car...

I thot maybe I'd been slacking 'till I checked and voila, I've got my two posts in for this week; that's enough to satisfy the Blog Monster's appetite...for now...

Monday, January 21, 2008

BLUE OYSTER CULT might return!!!
...all they'd have to do is write a song called "BLOG-ZILLA"...

There it sits in my TV room. It knows sooner or later that it will be draining my energy. I firmly resolve not to spend yet another entire evening online, searching for 'this', answering 'that', investigating 'this' or downloading 'that'...and, with jaw set in place, I plop down in front of the TV, in total control, for I know the computer, which is right by side in the form of an innocent-looking little laptop, will NOT totally absorb my consciousness tonight. It won't. I won't let it. And then a couple of hours later, here I am writing this post. I feel compelled to do so. I have no control. I Have To Go To The Computer. So here I am.

I LOVE going online. How did I ever survive before cyberspace presented itself? Didn't I actually used to do things? You know, go out and be part of humanity, stuff like that. Maybe it's good that I'm online at this age, for while my body's slowed down as I've trudged thru my '50s, my mind still races around inside my cranium at least four and a half times the speed of light, or so it seems. Especially when there's so much to do, ON THE COMPUTER. So, I'm slogging my way through another post which doesn't seem to be saying an awful lot, yet here I am, throwing words up on the screen the way a short-order cook slings hash. But I've prepared for this particular post...after all, a picture's worth a thousand words...especially when the wordage doesn't seem to be saying anything...

...and this is kinda how I'm feeling lately. Even though January 1st has come and gone, can I go back and make a New Years' rezzolution, to Try and Gain Some Control over My Time? If indeed my intention is to do just that, I'm going about it all wrong. For, in addition to maintaining this website, I'm also hosting a "group" on Yahoo (see the left margin of this blog for details)...and for that "group", I've been doing research, investigating, listening, analyzing and commenting. I think I need to install a time clock in my house so I can punch it when I go online...

What I want to do is try to maintain both of these entities, this blog and that group, without totally wearing off my fingertips on the computer keyboard; after all, I need them to play guitar, right? Play guitar? You mean I could actually turn off this computer right now and go DO THAT? Novel concept! Although, it's actually 2:30 in the morning, and I wanna go to bed. This computer kept me up past dawn yesterday, and I don't want to do that too often; otherwise, I'll probably end up sleeping upside-down, hanging from the coat rack in my I'll offer up a few little thots which have been circling in my brain...and then I'll go. I promise.

Ol' man winter...that ol' man winter...Up thar in North Idaho, where I used to live, it's gonna be cold this week. I heard "below zero" towards mid-week. Brrrrrrr. One of my friends from up there sent me an e-mail which was supposed to contain a picture of all the snow they've received lately. Only, the picture didn't come through for some reason. All I saw was white space where a foto shoulda been. Wait...maybe THAT was the picture she sent...?

My problematic and preposterous prognostication: It looks like it's gonna be NEW ENGLAND (Patriots) and NEW YORK (Giants) in the Stupor Bowl, coming up in a couple of weeks. I usually try to predict the outcome of the big game, but I already predicted that Green Bay would win today, and, well, uh...I mean, Green Bay shoulda won...they don't have a covered stadium; they're used to playing when the weather's crummy, and it was 4 degrees above zero at 'game start' today. I'll bet Packers QB Brett Favre wishes he could get that pass 'back'; you know, the one he tossed for an I ain't gonna predict. But, someone else already has; the official 'line' right now says New England will win by 14. If they do, they'll be the first undefeated NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. 1972 B.C. , that is. As in "before computers".

Beware of man-eating fenceposts! A couple of months ago, when I went out to the mailbox, for some unknown reason, I put my hand on a fencepost as I ambled along. A CEDAR fencepost. BIG MISTAKE. I don't know why ANYONE makes ANYTHING out of Cedar; it's grainy, it's dry-looking, and it practically THROWS splinters at you if you come anywhere near it. I noticed after a couple of days that one of my TYPING FINGERS had splinters in it. So I pulled 'em out. Still, my finger felt weird. A couple of days later, I pulled out more splinters. Since then, I've used enough band-aids and 'wound preparation cream' to keep your average M*A*S*H unit going for half a year, re-opening the skin, pulling out splinters, dressing the skin and then band-aiding it again. The really bad thing about Cedar? It splinters into little fragments which hook into your skin and hide waaay down deep. I think Cedar should be Outlawed along with other Dangerous Weapons. Right now, my finger's better than it was, but there are still some little barbed microscopic tissue-consuming Cedar gremlins in my finger. The band-aids await. And, as one can see, the splinters haven't kept me from blogging. I still have several good fingers yet.

Seriously, I'm surprised that "Weird Al" Yankovick hasn't already recorded "Blog-Zilla". As for Blue Oyster Cult, they're probably set to appear soon in Butte, Montana or Riggins, Idaho, as usually is the fate of formerly famous bands. Hey, don't laugh. I saw Grand Funk Railroad on the Oregon Coast last year...LITERALLY on the coast... they set up on the beach sand for a local small-town festival here. Rock and ROLL!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Well, none of us is getting any younger... if we needed to be reminded of THAT, right?

I am wondrously happy to be alive. To have survived all these years, especially when I take into account that people far more important than me, who've lived fuller lives and have done lots more than me have fallen by the wayside, and somehow, for some unknown reason (or maybe there's no 'reason' to it at all), I'm still alive on this little ball of rock as it hurtles madly through space.

Age is slowing me down, making me feel vulnerable, and putting me more frequently in touch with the medical community, but I'd like to think that getting old is your reward for taking care of yourself when you were younger. But there's no 'reason' in that statement, either. There are folks who have smoked and drank heavily all their lives, living to ripe old age, while there are those who pass away from cancer when they're barely 20 or 30 years old, having lived clean and honorable lives. So there is no rhyme or reason. We're just 'here' 'till we're 'not', and that's that, right?

The passage of time has made me realize that I CAN'T keep up on everything, or know everything, but yet, that's a comfort, because I can more fully explore the things I do know about, and leave all the 'new' stuff for all the up-and-comers out there. Or, I can choose to find out about new things if I want...and then retreat back into my shell of comfortability when I've had enough of a certain 'new' thing. Such as this's wondrous, it's new, it's instant, but still I have to shut it off sometimes, so I can hang on to what's left of my sanity.

It's funny, how I used to think my parents were old-fashioned 'squares', and how I thot I was so 'hip' because I knew about the latest music, the latest stars, the latest fads, the latest things...and now, while I still want to learn about new things, maybe I don't want to 'stretch' myself too much lest I end up losing myself in the process. I find myself remembering 'way back when' things were more simple, a handshake was as good as a promise, and people actually kept their promises.

I find that I'm thankful whenever I meet someone older than me, because that means I'm not the oldest person in the room...or on the planet. And I find that if someone needs advice, who can benefit from my past experiences ('cos I sure haven't!), I feel like the wise old sage imparting pearls and jewels of wisdom to that (probably younger) someone I'm talking to. Although part of me thinks they're just humoring me by pretending to listen, hoping I'll soon shut up and go away.

As I age, I'm finding it's less important for me to actually go out and do things. I find I am actually quite comfortable with just staying home 2 or 3 days a week, and on those days that I do go out, I always try to get back home by sunset, because I'm not as comfortable navigating in the darkness as I used to be. As a matter of fact, these last few years, I'm finding the 'night' to be darker than it used to be, if that's at all possible. Or, perhaps, I'm acquiring night blindness as I age. Oh, grrrreat...another thing to worry about.

It used to be, I'd see a 'Seasoned Citizen' walking around, and I'd think to myself, "Gosh, that guy looks old". And I still think that whenever I run across some little old guy with gray hair stooped over and walking slowly to wherever he's trying to go. Only now, I'm also thinking to myself, "gosh, these old people aren't so much older than me anymore." I'm also less-inclined to look at attractive young ladies for more than half-a-second anymore, because what's the use? If they knew me, they'd probably think, "gosh, he's older than my grandpa". And ya know, when I talk to young people, at times I almost FEEL like a grandpa.
Although I try to keep up on music (which is basically the only thing I know anything about), most of the music I listen to came out back before gasoline had even reached the 50-cent per gallon level. I consider all music recorded after 1985 to be "new". New to me, anyway. My copy of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" album (which I got as a birthday present in 1968) still looks and sounds pretty-much the same, while at the same time the Man In The Mirror grows older, grayer and slower. And, for some reason, I like big-band, swing and depression-era music a whole lot more than I once did. Music as escapism. Works for me.

It's funny how certain things hit my memory banks. For instance, in a little grocery store recently, I looked in their freezer and saw a bunch of frozen flavored-ice sticks, and remembered when my sister and I used to ride our bikes to the grocery store and get a loaf of bread or some such thing for Mom, who would always give us a little extra money...and my sister and I would buy those little "Mr. Freeze" pops; they were so good on a hot summer day. My favorite flavor was Orange. Still is.

I've come to accept, at this stage in my life, there are a whole lot of places I'll probably never see. Such as Florida, for example. That's okay, though; I can see a portion of that area whenever I tune in "CSI: Miami" re-runs. Besides, I don't want to get killed on a Florida highway; I've heard that criminals station themselves along Florida's main roads looking for some stupid tourist they can rob and bump off (not necessarily in that order). Though, there is one place I'd like to go: England. Liverpool and London, especially. I'm such a Beatle-freak, y'know. You know, The Beatles; the group that broke up almost 40 YEARS ago...?

Back 15 or 20 years ago, I just HAD to go out on weekend evenings. Wild horses couldn't have kept me away. I just had to see things, do things, and oh yes, drink more than my share so I could 'be somebody'. That's how I know people don't choose to become alcoholics, because I put away a whole lot of beer and other concoctions, and never became alcohol-dependent. Not physically, anyway. These past few years, I find myself sitting home watching TV or listening to music, and I'm just fine where I'm at. In fact, I'm probably having more fun at home, than if I did go out. And on the relatively few times I've gone out lately, I find myself heading home no later than 10pm. There's just nothing out there in the night-life for me anymore.

Whenever I read about couples who've been together for ages, I can't help wondering how they DID that. I go batty if I have to hold down a conversation for more than ten minutes, let alone a LIFETIME. Sometimes I feel like I'd need at least a 300-year life span to be able to do everything most people have done in 60 or 70 years. Relationships have never been my forte. But, as I age, I just kinda accept that. And more often than not, I'm actually quite content with it. I used to never think about the End of my life. Now, I try Not to think about it. Big difference there. Maybe, in death, there are no more problems, no more hassles, no more sadness, but still, I want to live, because my philosophy, more and more, is...

My high school classmate, Robert, who works in the health-care industry here in Oregon, sent me all of these old-age 'satirical' banners. Only, as I think about it, maybe they're not satirical at all. I guess it's called "gallows humor", where you just kinda laugh at everything, because it's gonna happen whether you laugh or not. All in all, life is pretty good. As long as I don't think about it too much, that is. And I've probably thot about it more than I should've in this post.

However, there is one morbid little bit of philosophy that Robert DIDN'T send in friendly retaliation for all the above little banners, I sent him this charming little retort which I heard long ago, and at last, have a chance to spring on someone. It goes like this..."It ain't the cough that carries you's the coffin they carry you off in." (I think that would qualify as 'gallows humor'.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Now and comes along...

Back in 1995, a 'new' Beatles song, "Free As A Bird" was released, then another came along in 1996, "Real Love", both of which were from the "Beatles Anthology" albums, both of which electronically re-united the voice of the tape-recorded John Lennon, with his former bandmates. There were three "Anthology" albums total, but for 'whatever' reason, the "Three-tles", as they were known at the time, elected not to paste together a third John Lennon song in Beatles form at that time; rumor had it they were working on Lennon's song, "Grow Old With Me", but they never got around to putting the finishing touches on it. So, that's the way it's stood now for the last dozen or so years; no 'new' Beatles songs have emerged since then.

Once again, though, the rumor mills are generating all kinds of reports about Yet Another Brand-New Beatles Track that's supposed to appear sometime this year. Again, it (allegedly) features the fairly-distant and thin voice of a John Lennon 'demo' recording, this time with backing from the 'Two-tles' (well, George Harrison is no longer with us now; it's just Paul and Ringo left to finish it up). Well, it's come to my attention that the New Beatles Track, titled "Now and Then" has already been posted on YouTube...some Beatlefans think it's just a Beatles-sounding song by some other collection of individuals, but some think it's the real deal, just not quite finished yet.

I must admit seeing the alleged New Beatles Song/Video sure beats the heck out of watching cockatiels whistling the "Andy Griffith Show Theme Song"...which I was watching on YouTube last, dear reader, is the following clip the Beatles or Not? It's possible, but you be the judge...

So, is it, or is it not a Beatles' song? At first, John Lennon's voice seems to be strong, but about a third of the way thru, it's hard to hear him; after that he disappears into the mix. Certainly it COULD be them, but as "The Rutles" proved long ago, other musicians could also approximate the sound of Our Heroes From Liverpool. At any rate, if indeed this is the Beatles, and a record comes out...I'll buy it...and I'll probably buy the CD single it's on...and I'll probably buy the CD album it's on...but, more than likely, Apple Corps. Ltd., the Beatles' business organization will probably feature it as "song number one" on a retrospective of all 200+ Beatles songs ever recorded. In that case, I'd end up paying something like $300.00 just to get one song I don't have. (Which is pretty much what all three "Anthology' albums forced all us Beatles collectors to do 'All Those Years Ago'.)

Paul McCartney now has three separate versions of his newest album, "Memory Almost Full" on the market. I bypassed the initial Starbucks-Coffee version of it, because I read on Ebay that a 'deluxe' version, with three bonus tracks came out, so I bought that, thinking I'd really scored bigtime. Imagine the feeling of relative disgust I had when I found out a third version, complete with bonus songs, and now a performance DVD hit the market? Which meant that I had to go back to the store and buy all the songs I'd already bought, just to get the DVD. Only, this time it was different. I DIDN'T BUY the 'Deluxe-Deluxe' version, on PRINCIPLE. I'll buy new music by McCartney anytime, but I'm not gonna be manipulated in order to further finance his divorce proceedings from HeatherYoko. At this point, I'm not really happy with McCartney, because he so shamelessly markets himself, squeezing out every dollar, pound, peso, lira, yen and drachma that he possibly can out of his fans.

Leave it up to gentleman Ringo Starr to put out new music, without playing merchandising games with the public...that's right, he's got a new album out, titled "Liverpool 8", the title of which refers to the section of Liverpool he grew up in. I've seen pix of that old neighborhood, and it's a fairly somber area, with rows and rows of dingy houses attached to each other, stretching onward for miles, sorta like a prison, except that there was no barbed wire or escape-proof walls. The Beatles left the town fairly early in their career, never to live there again, and some Liverpudlians have always thot The Beatles never gave anything back to Liverpool after they left for the greener pastures. I can see the Liverpudlians' point of view, although, had the Beatles elected to stay there, none of the rest of us might have even known they'd existed. Liverpool, I think you should be proud of 'em.

"Liverpool 8" is a warm and content album, full of Ringo's reflections about his past, his memories of past friends, and even features a song about his drinking buddy Harry Nilsson; it's titled "Harry's Song", but even that title has Beatle implications, for George Harrison's publishing company was called "Harrisongs". In the title track, Ringo sings that while he left Liverpool, he never let Liverpool down, and that is true. Very true. The last song on the album, a little skiffle-sounding tune, "R U Ready" seems to feature Ringo's view on the end of his (or anybody else's) life, he says one shouldn't be afraid to "let go" because there's somebody waiting to catch he or she on "the other side". That's an interesting view; I've never heard it articulated that way before. Most of Ringo's album is warm, content and melodic; most of it rocks pretty well. Although Ringo's never been known for making the highest-quality albums, this one isn't bad, not bad at all. Thank you, Ringo.

Meanwhile, I imagine that the late George Harrison is swirling around somewhere in the atmosphere, looking down on this crazy planet of ours, and he's thinking to himself, "I'm sure glad I don't have to be part of that insanity anymore!" In the meantime, soon, it'll be the 40th anniversary of the release of "White Album". Do you feel old yet?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A newly-discovered species...
The VINTAGE SONGBIRD (melodius sapiens)

Lately, I've found myself embarking on a musical search, involving music from the, not my past, and (barely) my parents' past; there's something about the music of the 1920's and 30's that's both fun and emotional, silly and serious, old, yet new again, especially to someone like me who's never really paid much attention to it before. Maybe it was a more dignified, innocent, charming time? Perhaps, although society had its problems and concerns back then as well. Maybe it's a form of escapism; whatever it is, I'm having a great time stepping back thru the ages...this post deals with 'songbirds', a term applied to lady singers of the day...while I'm no authority on this time period, here's some information to get you started, in case you'd like to search the era, too...
It all started a few months ago when I read a book onthe life story of Libby Holman, a singer from the 1920's and 1930's. She hit big with her rendition of a song titled "Moanin' Low". She may or may not have had something to do with her husband's death; it was never proven that she was involved. In 1971, she died of self-inflicted carbon-monoxide poisoning. A singer with a checkered past. I then went to the YouTube site so I could hear some of Ms. Holman's recordings, and I found her to be a good vocalist, although I wasn't really taken by her somewhat mannered singing style. Ms. Holman's voice doesn't really seem to 'fit' the term 'songbird', because she had a very serious tone in her recordings...shades of Marlene Dietrich, perhaps? Ms. Holman certainly looks serious in the photo at left. Were I alive back then, I wouldn't have wanted to get on her bad side.
While at YouTube, I accidentally discovered Miss Lee Morse (1897-1954), whose voice I can't get enough of. I've written about her already on this blogsite, and what an amazing talent she was. She sings of heartbreak in "Shadows On The Wall", and the next minute she can be silly, extolling her consumption of "Animal Crackers". Truly, a voice that most definitely can make one smile. Miss Morse, though, had a self-destructive bent; she hit the bottle more often than she should, which caused her to lose a chance for big Broadway stardom; as it was, she made records throughout the '20s and '30s, composing approximately a third of the songs she recorded. Lee Morse is, to me, the epitome' of songbird; in addition to singing, she yelps, yodels, hums on a kazoo, scat-sings and emotes. Listening to her music, it's hard to believe it was recorded so long ago, because she sounds so fresh and immediate. I've started a 'Yahoo Group' which features information about Miss Morse, her life, her pictures, and links to her music; you can click the little purple button in the left margin of this blog and go there. I wanted to do this for Miss Morse because she's been unfairly forgotten in the vast swirling sea of time; she deserves to be heard. I've become a real fan; something in her vocals touches me. Maybe because she's "real"; she had emotional hard-times and bitter disappointments along the way, and it all seems to come out in her music. When she was happy, she was delirious; when sad, she was The Saddest Person In The World.
I've branched out in my "Songbird Search", and while I haven't found anyone whose voice amazes me as much as Miss Morse's, there were a lot of great 'songbirds' from that era; For instance, Helen Morgan (1900-1941), fell in with some shady Mafia connections later in her life, and also had a problem with The Bottle...which led to her premature death. She was known primarily as one of the first Torch Singers, singing sad and melancholy ballads while sitting atop a piano on a darkened stage. She appeared in at least 15 films; she was the proverbial "star of stage and screen" and is well-represented by the many records she made between 1927 and 1935. From what I've read on the web, quite a few entertainers of the day turned to the bottle to ease the pressures of management, recording dates, and the ever demanding and fickle American Public...stage fright, after all, can be a scary thing.
This next songbird, Jane Green (1897-1931) is represented by only a handful of recordings (33 to be exact), and as you can see, she passed away very, very young, due to a paralytic stroke at age 34, although at the time, some had suspected her husband of acting strangely around the time of her death. Once again, foreboding scandal? Probably not, but we'll never know for sure. And who knows what brought on her stroke, highly unusual for someone her age? While her voice isn't quite as deep or resonant as Lee Morse's, Ms. Green sings with conviction and a natural, unaffected delivery, and brings a large amount of high energy to her recordings; as a result, I rank her right up there as one of the best songbirds. I wonder if some of these ladies actually met way back in the Roaring Twenties. That's the fun thing about musical research; it can go so many ways.
Still another songbird from that era, Vaughn DeLeath (born Leonore Vonderleath) (1894-1943) was, according to what I've read, the first singer to achieve popularity over Radio; she worked at a radio station, and spent a lot of her time on the air; she'd sing for hours until the next singer showed up. This was back in the days of crystal radio, when things were really primitive. She was one of the first "crooners" and became so out of necessity; she had to sing quietly, or else her voice would've been capable of blowing out sensitive radio tubes and microphones back long ago. The industry was still in its infancy; changes were coming fast and furious back in the '20s which probably came close to the insane degree of flux we experience in present-day society. Like many her counterparts, Ms. DeLeath also had a problem with the bottle, which led in part to her early demise.
This next lady wouldn't let herself be pushed around; she wanted to record "St. Louis Blues", only her record company, Victor, wouldn't let her, so she jumped ship, moved over to Columbia, and recorded it there. This headstrong lady is Marion Harris (1896-1944). She is represented by a whole slew of recordings, and while she never appeared in a feature film, I'm aware of at least one musical "short" film that exists which features her singing a couple of songs. Ms. Harris moved to England in the Mid-30s, as the cabaret scene in the U.S. was dying out, and she made some records and had some hits there. Her house was destroyed destroyed by bombs in World War II. She returned to the U.S., and was living in a hotel in New York City, when she perished due to fire. She'd fallen asleep with a lit cigarette which ignited her bed. Another songbird Done Too Soon.
Finally...I've come about the Most Obscure Songbird Ever...her name is Julia Gerity, and I can't find any more than a couple of paragraphs about her on the internet; I don't know her story, there are no birth or death dates given; she's a total mystery. I can't find so much as a single picture of her...although, you can hear her most famous tune, 1931's depression-era song, 'Sittin' On A Rubbish Can'. Here's what she sounds like; click on this little YouTube dealie here...

Finally, I didn't 'attribute' any of this information to any outside sources; call me lazy if you wish. All of the above songbirds can be heard on YouTube, and if you're interested, you can type their names into search engines and go from there. But if you're an escapist like I am, you'll have great fun as a fellow backwards traveler. Try'll like it!

Blogger's note: You have just finished reading this blogsite's 700th posting! I suppose if every entry was a "home run", I'd be right up there with Barry Bonds, but I've hit more than my share of weak squibbers and foul balls in my attempts to make sense here. I suppose I can't make sense all of the time, though; if I did, I'd be too predictable!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One of the most Perfect songs ever...
It's such a charming little tune; I wanted to share it with ya...

Forget that this tune came out back in the 1930's...anyone who likes a good melody, and anyone who's weary of the fast pace of present-day society, will like this nifty little number sung by the long-forgotten songbird, Miss Lee Morse. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present "I'm An Unemployed Sweetheart":

There ya go. Wasn't that nice? Just the antidote for the ugliness that life itself oftentimes throws our way. Hope ya liked it!

There's much more of her at,, and various other websites. Truly a voice like no other.

The King is gone, long gone...
He's fading into the mist through the ages, isn't he?

ELVIS PRESLEY would've been 72 years old today. He left this world over 30 years ago, and he's been mocked and made fun of through the years; perhaps in some cases, justifiably so, but then again, there was only One Elvis; indeed, who else did things like he did? He started out strong in the '50s, faded away in the early '60s, staged a successful comeback in the late '60s and early '70s, and by 1977, the flame burned out, and he was gone. My own Elvis memories are really patchy; my Mom had the singles of "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender", and I remember her playing them on a little RCA phonograph that would only play 45's, and you had to plug it into the back of an RCA radio before you could hear the record. That's back when I was a fairly new arrival in this world.

As I grew up in the '60s, listening to whatever music was popular, I didn't hear all that much of Elvis Presley; he'd stopped having big hits during that time, and his presence just wasn't on the radio very a whole lot. I remember hearing "U.S. Male" and "Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)" a few times on the air; both of those songs came out in the late '60s, but they weren't big hits and soon they weren't played anymore. The first Elvis record I bought was "In The Ghetto" (1969); that one got a lot of airplay, and then, of course, came "Suspicious Minds", which was ha-hyoooooge, and I grew to like that one a lot, too. That was the second Elvis single I bought, waaaay back when.

Then, all of a sudden, he seemed to disappear from the radio again until 1972, when his "Burning Love" single was all over the place, and I thot, "hey, this is as good as anything else out there", and then he disappeared from the radio AGAIN until he came out with his version of an old Timi Yuro song, "Hurt"...which he belted out in a big hunk o' tortured passion in 1976. Shortly after that, "Moody Blue" hit the airwaves, and then, wham, bang, The King Was Gone. I found it ironic that the first posthumous Elvis hit was "Way Down", since that's where he was. Six Feet Down.

I never have understood why Oldies radio stations seem to always feature Elvis' later-period song, "Kentucky Rain" me, that's not really an Elvis song. It's good, but it's fairly generic country-flavored schmaltz that isn't really representative of What Elvis Could Do. I have since backtracked into the Elvis catalogue, and have most of his albums; the movie soundtracks he recorded range from innocuous to purely awful. That said, one of my favorite Elvis songs is from his movie, "Girls! Girls! Girls!"...yep, that's right, for some reason I really 'dig' the song, "Do The Clam". I don't know why. And believe me, I've asked myself dozens of times. It's just a fun song. Dumb, but fun.

Of course, now, in these latter days, I've bought Elvis movies and DVD's, and of course, we've all seen his concerts here and there, whether live or recorded, and all I can say is, when he was good, he was GREAT. I see him as a vulnerable talent manipulated by cruel and sadistic management, courtesy of Colonel Tom Parker, who reportedly was a corrupt so-and-so who never was a U.S. citizen; he was in the states illegally; he was born in Holland. There are Elvis books galore where you can pursue the details of his life...right now, I'm reading, for the first time, Albert Goldman's distorted, inflammatory Elvis biography; I've read quite a few others
which aren't inflammatory. I suppose the complete truth lies somewhere in-between.
Why didn't I post a photograph of Elvis here, opting to instead use an artist's rendition of The King? Because, all an artist can do in a painting is represent the subject, and as memories fade, a sort of idealization and distortion takes place, until we don't really remember the details, but we remember the concept. Elvis has been gone so long, now, that he can basically be anything we want him to be. Some choose to poke fun at him, others are still devoted fans; like the Elvis books that have been published, again, I suppose the complete truth lies somewhere in-between. So, here's a painting of Elvis, and this is an image we generally remember because he made his first, and most successful comeback in 1968, and this was the way he looked. He'd been 'away' for most of the decade doing stupid movies, but with this comeback TV special, he announced to the world that he was BACK. In Elvis' greatest moments, he was almost superhuman. A fascinating character study, but if you don't want to get clinical, you can always hear an Elvis rock song, and it'll get the blood flowin' and the toes a-tappin'.
My own favorite Elvis records (in addition to "Do The Clam") are "Hound Dog", "Too Much", "Money Honey", "Marie's The Name", "Little Sister", and "Viva Las Vegas" (another fairly dubious choice on my part)...and he does some fantastic blues on the album, "Elvis Is Back!", his first album after he was done serving time in the Military over there in Germany. John Lennon once said that, basically, Elvis died the minute he went into the Army in the late '50s. It is true that Elvis all of a sudden became sort of a cleaned-up, buffooned image of his previous self. I probably am being cruel when I say that Elvis wasted his talent during the early-to-mid '60s...but that's precisely what he did. Elvis devotees loved everything he ever recorded...ack! I'm an incurable Beatles fan, and THEY did songs I don't like all that well.
But, hey, Elvis, you did some mighty fine stuff, too. You were what you were, and like the rest of us, there was some 'good', a lot of 'mediocre' and some 'bad' thrown in as well. But, as far as some of the great music you put down on vinyl, thankya. Thankya very much...and try not to spin in your grave too fast, should you ever hear that purely awful "Viva Viagra" commercial, okay?
Ladies and gentlemen, I have now left the building...please exit in an orderly fashion. Thankya. Thankya very much...

Is She Facing The Music?
Yesterday...all her troubles seemed so far away...

Dear Reader: The Following Idiotic Post was originally completed before I'd found out that Hillary Clinton won the latest Political Primary. Still, it represents pretty much how I feel about the whole thing. Now, back to our regularly-scheduled post, already in progress...

Not that I follow the Prezzidential Pry-maries all that much, because I don't. It all basically boils down to this: Some folks in selected states are going to be able to list their Prezzidential preferences before the rest of us do. So, no, I really don't pay much attention to these "primary' things, 'cos there's no one in this neck of the woods who could do anything about anything anyhow. We'll end up voting for the candidates who have pretty much been pre-selected for us to vote for. Ah, but it gives all the talking heads all over the tube a chance to strut their stuff, because after all, This Is Big News That We All Need To Know, right? I said, "right?"

But something really caught my eye over the weekend. How could it not? The front page of an exploitative, shameless, muckraking tabloid noozpaper based in Boston featured Hillary Clinton's face inside of the play-hole of an old 1965 Beatles' single, and the headline said it all: "SHE'S SO...YESTERDAY". Well, anything with a Beatles' association would catch my attention, and so this did. Of course, it caught the attention of a 'few' other folks too: Journalists, talk-show hosts and just about everyone with some sort of access to a TV camera were waving the tabloid around maniacally on camera, giving already-politically-weary viewers yet another reason to run for the Alka-Seltzer.

I tried in vain to find a picture of that Boston tabloid snooze-paper to post. I looked everywhere. Google, Yahoo, Yee-haw and wherever else. Must be some copyright thing; someone out there's bein' stingy with their images. Okay, fine. Instead of my being able to post the Real Thing, I was forced to post a cheap imitation thereof. And, as of this post, blogging has hit a new low...

The only thing I am certain of, is that things can't get any worse, right? I mean, take into account who will no longer be Prezzident as of next January 20th. And yet, right now on MSNBC's "Hardball", I just saw footage of Barack Obama saying, "Let's All Change The World!!!" Rah, rah, rah. It's never that simple.

Politics is never as simplistic as the candidates would have us believe. In a Representative Democracy such as ours, there are many, many shades of gray. More often than not, a new (or old) Prezzident can have real battles on his hands trying to get anything done. And that's when things are going well. Toss in a scandal or two, and well, hang on, 'cos it's gonna be a ROUGH RIDE. Any Prezzident who has thoughts about being an incumbent has gotta start running for his next term two years into a four-year administration. Be President? Subject myself to endless speculation by EVERYONE? Why would anyone want to DO that to themselves? Isn't it supposed to be part of the American Dream that 'any kid can grow up to be Prezzident? If I was that kid, I'd say "thanks but no thanks".

Yesterday...I wished politics would just go 'way...And I need a place to hide-a-way...From all this crap heard every day....

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This post is loaded with SPIN... in, thirty-three, forty-five and seventy-eight...

I posted fairly recently that I became aware of a lady singer who was born in 1897 and grew up in the little town of Kooskia, Idaho. Her name is Lee Morse, but her time was long ago, and she passed away at the fairly early age of 54. She had a three-octave voice, and could sing blues, ballads and swing numbers, all with equal ease. Should you wish to sample any of Miss Morse's musical delights, go to and you'll find a lot her songs posted there. This post, however, deals more with the mechanics of old records, and pretty-much why the '78 rpm' record became a dinosaur...

Here's an old Lee Morse record that came out in the mid-1920's..."June Brought The Roses" is the side you see here; on the back side is "Just For You", recorded for the Pathe' label in New York City long ago. It's quite amazing, watching an old '78' whirl 'round and 'round at breakneck speed on the turntable...sadly, these old discs really don't have much going for them in the high-fidelity department. Especially when you consider that long ago, STEEL needles were used in the tone-arm...I can just imagine a steel stylus, digging into the brittle shellac, and rounding off the twists and turns in the grooves until all you hear after a few plays is something like "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" That's especially true on these old 78's that were recorded acoustically...which meant that the singer had to almost scream to be heard, and the boys in the band had to really belt it out...on my copy of this, the singer and musicians can be heard off in the distance, but I don't plan on playing it a's more a period piece than anything. I like the old-looking label and the sleeve it came in...although, the little blurb on the right side of the sleeve could be taken in different ways..."classical and operatic records by world famous artists--all double-faced." What this means, of course, is that there is One Song on Each Side, which was an important point in those days, since a lot of early '78s featured nothing but a blank side, devoid of any grooves whatsoever. Two songs on one disc! Novel concept there.

Later on, Miss Lee Morse switched over to Columbia Records, a big company even in those days, which used something called the "Viva-Tonal Electrical Process" (not to be confused with those annoying "Viva-Viagra" TV Commercials), but I still don't hear a lot of presence in those recordings either. I have an almost-new copy of a song she recorded for that label in 1928 titled "Don't Keep Me In The Dark, Bright Eyes"...and it's the closest thing to a new 78 I've ever's virtually scratchless, the disc shines reflected light brightly, and it appears to have not been played very much. Still, when I set the tone arm down, even though I could hear the musicians and singer just fine, there was still a very subdued "hissssssssssss" throughout the recording. Face it, shellac just wasn't really all that great a substance for high fidelity, and obviously, in the late '20s, recording techniques were still in their infancy. Also, factor in the added friction of the needle in the grooves at high speed ...I'll bet one of those steel styli wore out after 3 plays. Later on, 78's began to sound a whole lot better, even though record labels still used shellac, which is actually an old rubber compound that's brittle and wears out FAST. You'd still get "groove hiss", but the sound was clearer, brighter and more up-front, so overall, things were much improved. Plus, you no longer had to "wind up" the phonograph...and then vinyl came along, replaced shellac, and fidelity got even better. Then diamond and sapphire needles came along, and the record biz was ready to Rock and Roll!

Anyway, fast-forward to the present...78's are history, so are 45's and 33's, and we're now in the age of the Compact Disc...although the CD format is seeing competition from 'Mp3's' and 'IPods' (whatever those are; I still ain't sure). Still, CD's are convenient; they never wear out, and you don't have to get up and flip the CD over halfway through. (Maybe that's why CD's were such a hit; lots of lazy listeners out there!)

Pictured at left is a two-CD set of Lee Morse's recordings; disc one contains 25 songs from her stint on the Pathe' label, and disc two features 25 more of her songs which were issued on Columbia. And it's amazing what expensive (and highly-priced) technology can do. Disc one (the older recordings) has about 85% of the groove wear and surface noise eliminated, and disc two (the newer recordings) sounds really great; crystal-clear. More than anything, though...the 2-CD set weighs, what, a few Lee Morse 78's (15 in all) probably weigh 5 or 10 POUNDS.

So, am I ever going to amass a collection of ALL of Miss Morse's recordings on '78'? I don't think so...she recorded over 200 songs in her lifetime; that many 78's (double-faced!) would weigh close to a TON. I'd need a Mack Truck to move them! (I almost need one now, considering all the old rock albums that dominate my living area.)

More than anything, though, the old '78s only hint at how good of a singer she, or anyone else at that time, was. The vocal presence just doesn't really come through very well on those old shellac-lined grooves. Miss Morse's personality, enthusiasm and charm do come across, albeit in a slightly muffled way due to sub-par record material and lack of recording sophistication. Later on, much later on, she made a brief comeback in 1950, and the clarity of those recordings is shocking; they sound absolutely GREAT! On the website I listed above, is posted one of her last recordings, "Don't Even Change A Picture On The Wall". She was 53 by then, but her voice was stronger than ever. And, it's a swingin' song, really it is. I'm still trying to find out if her 1950 recordings were issued on 45''s possible; 45's came along in the late 1940s...although some labels didn't utilize the '45' format right away. So far, I can't find any, and I've done a number of internet searches for 'em.

When I first came across the term "double-faced", I couldn't help but think of POLITICIANS. This is an election year, after all. Oh well, at least George W. Bush will be going the way of the old '78s'...gathering dust in the collective attic of our history for the rest of his existence. Yaay.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Just a little bit of Wishful Thinking...
Or, this is as good of a way as any to begin the New Year...

I've got Parakeets; 4 of them, to be exact. I got four of them because if one gets tired of the other, there are two others it can play with. They squabble like little kids sometimes, but I've put plenty of little bird-toys in the cage to keep them happy. I've found two things that Parakeets really like...they love to be sprayed with water mist from a squirt bottle. Maybe on a subconscious level, it reminds parakeets of long-ago times when their ancestors were wild in the jungle, bathing in the warm jungle rain. One of the 'keets actually climbs up on the side of the cage where I can spray him directly. I usually do that in the middle of the day so that they're dry well before the cooler temperatures of nightfall occur. The second thing they go wild about is broccoli. They love the stuff. I scatter bits and pieces of it on the cage floor, making sure there's enough for everybody, and at times, all four of them are munching and crunching broccoli-bits. I guess a few pieces of broccoli is a big deal if you're a parakeet.

So anyway, I'm corresponding with a guy who sold me some albums over Ebay way back when; he makes CD's for his friends, just like I do, and he sent me a whole bunch of Beatles' bootleg albums for my collection, and all I had to do was dub them over to CD for him since he didn't have a way to put vinyl onto compact disc. He's also quite politically cynical, and we both think President Bush is basically an idiot, or corrupt, or both. So, in one e-mail, Joe got around to talking about his pet cats; I told him I had parakeets, and that led to his conjuring up the image of a "Bush-keet". Silly, yeah, but hey, life is dull if yer serious all the time, right?

Long ago, back in the days when a band didn't need hit singles in order to get a recording contract, a British band, "Budgie" had several albums released here in the states, and since 'Budgie' is how the Brits refer to parakeets (it's slang for the name 'Budgerigar'), pictures of parakeets adorn the various "Budgie" albums that came out way back when. So where is this post going? So far, it hasn't interconnected...but don't worry, I'm getting to the point...when Joe came up with "Bush-keet", well, I ruminated upon that for a while, and couldn't resist doing the following Really Dumb Thing:

First, here's the cover of Budgie's "Impeckable" (peck, get it?) album...

And now, here's the same album cover, slightly revised. Wishful thinking, for sure.

Other Budgie albums feature parakeets clad in suits of armor and riding horses, or flying in outer space complete with space suits and glass space helmets, and the funniest Budgie album title is "in for the kill". As though parakeets were menacing creatures. Well, they can be sometimes, especially the one destructive parakeet I have who keeps pulling a seed cup from the side of the cage and unceremoniously dumps it on the floor. Grrrrrr! So I'm always trying new ways to 'parakeet-proof' the cage. It ain't easy. I'll think to myself, "those ungrateful birds; I put food out for them and look what they do", and that's when I have to tell myself that a parakeet has, on average, about a 2-minute memory span. So it's useless to yell at them unless you catch them in the act of destroying something. Bad parakeet! Bad, baaaad parakeet!

So, in part, that's how I spent the first couple of hours in 2007...I mean, 2008. Gotta get used to this being a New Year. An indulgence in unabated foolishness, for sure. But...I would venture to say that a "Bush-keet" would be a quite unfortunate genetic mutation. Can you imagine that...really dumb birds that run head-on into each other when flying...duh........