Tuesday, March 21, 2017


I thought I had posted about this podcast once before, but I'm not finding it easily accessible with a search, so I'll post it again with the title, Probes.  It bears repeating anyway, if you are an adventurous music listener or care about the history of music. 

When I was younger my mother made me take piano lessons.  Her heart and thinking were in the right place, but I just wasn't a very good student.  I didn't care about practicing, and wanted to be outside playing tag, riding the bike, or whatever else with my brother.  But I wish I had been more studious back then.  I still remember my piano teacher's name, however, Mrs. Brown.  I remember at times she'd also be cooking and sometimes whatever she'd be cooking (or her husband) would come whiffing from beyond the other room.  Sometimes it would smell good, but sometimes odd to me.  I don't know what it was they were eating that day, smelled like maybe liver and onions, something strong like that or fish or cabbage, but it filled the house with odor. 

At any rate, I stuck with piano until I hit sharps and flats.  I couldn't get the hang of that.  Sharps and flats are the black keys on the piano.  They are the half steps in tones when either written or played.  The piano and all music has the same language or is composed of notes A thru G, then it repeats that into the next octave (8 notes), either higher or lower, A thru G.  But thrown in the sharps and flats and you get A then A sharp, then B and then B sharp.  Sharp being written as a # on the page, if memory serves.  At any rate, either she didn't explain that well enough to me, or I didn't get it, or I just wasn't a very good student, I sort of missed the boat there.  Soon afterwards, I asked my mother if I could drop the lessons.  My sister on the other hand continued, and is still playing well at the church today. 

I wish I had stuck with it though as I love music so much.  I wish I had taken band as an elective in high school too although I don't know what I would have wanted to play, but I did take choir.  If one could go back in time, I would have taken art appreciation all thru those years as well.  I would have been a full-on bohemian art geek. 
At any rate, Probes.  Probes is a music podcast hosted by Chris Cutler, who used to play drums in the RIO (rock in opposition) avant-prog group, Henry Cow, Pere Ubu, Art Bears, among probably some other bands.  Henry Cow were a fantastic band that combined rock, free jazz, classical and avant garde into an unmistakably unique combination.  But Henry Cow were extremely unconventional, and made music that didn't conform to any laws, and were therefore an island to themselves. Of course the Cow unleashed Fred Frith and Chris Cutler into the world, two of the major innovators in new music to this very day.   Frith is still releasing and playing solo and with other bands, however, I'm not real sure what Cutler is doing musically these days, but he has been doing this Probes podcast, which has been very interesting.

The Wire magazine had a write-up on the program as did Dangerous Minds on the web.   For whatever reason, whoever put the podcast together didn't do it in a very organized manner, and I wish they had.  It sure would have made it easier to access.  Cutler goes through the history of modern music, focusing on the rejection of tonality, how our ears have adapted to understand dissonance and "noise" as music, and how sound recording has altered how music is composed. But this short summary doesn't do it justice.   I really can't recommend this podcast enough. Every episode has been fascinating, with mind blowing, enlightening moments. Each episode also has a separate side episode of just the music. Probes is like a college level music history/appreciation course for hipsters. 

To begin the program, you can start with the first podcast here.  And then Probe 1.2 is just the music only.  It follows that path,  Probe 2 is the musical discussion (along with music), and Probe 2.2 is the music only.  With this link you can find out thru the transcript who was being played and talked about in each episode.  For the transcript you'll have to put your mouse and highlight the transcript link:  Probes #1 Transcript, then scroll back up to the top of the page and you'll see a little PDF box.  Then click on that box for the full transcript of the series.   Like I said, it's a little confusing to navigate, but once you get the hang of it, it's worth it. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Space Family Robinson (piggyback)

Just a shorty here today.  I occasionally still watch Lost in Space on the Me TV Network.  It comes on pretty late now on Saturday nights after Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, but used to show at a legitimate hour.  Most of them are too corny for my taste, but as a youngster I used to love them.  The comic books are a different animal.  Some blogger looks like he scanned his own collection for others (me) to read, so I thought I'd others his link in case they were interested too. 

Yes, this Space Family Robinson actually predated Lost In Space, but a legal settlement allowed Irwin Allen to use the name in his TV show and for the comic book to use the name of the TV show. 
The first issue (picture above), is from 1962, three years before Irwin Allen's series premiered.

I'm fixing to run by the library to look for some used books.  They'd gotten in a bunch of SF, plus I wanted to check out some of their larger books for color photos to use for collage material.  So I'm outta here. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Those Were The Days

I bought a Betamax too.  I bought the Toshiba model.  I was excited, and ready to start taping.  I remember I bought it at a department store called Ardan, which is now defunct.  The player itself was rather huge and bulky, but it would fit inside my stereo case where I had my stereo amp and cassette deck.  I could also hook it up through my receiver, so that I could hear it in stereo.  It really boosted the appeal of watching movies that way.  At the time we had either Showtime or HBO, and I collected many movies during that time frame.  I'm not sure what I first taped.  It was probably some type of science fiction.  Like the guy above in the video, I did most of my taping off the cable.  I rarely bought actual Hollywood-made tapes as they were more expensive.  Sometimes a lot more expensive.  I still have an old Movies Unlimited video catalog from 1991.  Don't ask me why I have hung onto it.  But in it most of the Hollywood-made movies sell for around $19.99 a pop, but some go for as high as $89.99, which sounds crazy now.  A lot of the more foreign or esoteric art films like Ingmar Bergman are around $30., but I see Pelle the Conqueror is $89.99.  Just thumbing through the catalog there's also a Roberto Rossellini movie, The Age of Medici (1972), which is basically a documentary on Florentine art, tracing the history through the lives of the famed Renaissance merchant family.   It retails for $129.99.  Just for that one VHS tape!

Later on I did buy a few factory made tapes, but that was when you could find a lot more discounted at Blockbuster near the end days of the VHS industry.  Of course, I eventually had to dump them all as my Beta machine stopped working and Betamax was taken over by VHS. 

I remember going into video stores back in those days, and the stores would be set up or divided with VHS tapes and then Beta.  Sometimes you'd have a rack with Raiders of the Lost Ark with the Beta and VHS displayed more or less side by side.  I should have been tipped off then that VHS was going to take over as there were always more VHS tapes available.   The reason I chose Beta was that I'd read it was a bit wider tape so they got better picture and sound quality, and that's basically true.  By the way, I also bought into Quadraphonic as well back in the day. (If any of you are old enough to remember that audiophile phenomena.)  You had to buy a Quadraphonic amp, which I bought, then a turntable with a Quadraphonic stylus, check.  Then you'd buy the Quadraphonic albums which were more expensive, AND have an extra set of speakers.  Check, check, boom--that craze went belly up pretty quickly.   (Oddly enough with the home movie sound systems, the craze came back, just in a different reconfigured style.)

I remember the first time I was introduced to DVDs.  I had a friend named David, and he was really into collecting things of all sorts: comics, African mask, books, walking canes, and eventually movies among other things.  I think that's one of the things that solidified our friendship, the collector mentality.  I enjoyed comics as well among books, music, and what have you.   At any rate, he gotten a large screen TV, this was before digital flat screens, and a DVD player.  He invited me over to his apartment and we watched the movie, Trainspotting.  Aside from it being a good movie, I was amazed at the picture quality.  It was unbelievable.  I didn't run out and buy a DVD player immediately, but in the back of my mind it was on the agenda.

Eventually I did buy a DVD player.  I can't even remember the first DVD I bought.  It may have been some Woody Allen or maybe something like 2001: A Space Odyssey.  You'd think I would remember something like that, but it's just too far back in history for me, and I've bought countless more DVDs since that day.   I've not yet bought into Blu-ray.  It's probably on the horizon for sure.  My current machine is a Sony, one of those combo VHS-DVD player things.  The DVD player in it still works good, but the VHS works a bit wonky, and really since Suddenlink (our cable provider here) switched over to this new bogus system, heck I can't tape anything anyway.  Sometimes technological advancement suck in that way, but I'm not going back to Betamax anytime soon. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


HI-YAH! is the sound of mayhem – of flying fists and roundhouse kicks, ninja stars and fighting sticks.  Cowboy Bebop isn't exactly that way, although it can be kinetic, and neither is its sister anime, Samurai Champloo.  Although they create these interesting impressions with some pretty gorgeous art too boot.  Cowboy Bebop also is a noted anime for injecting quite a bit of jazz into their mix.  A friend of mine last night gave me a link to an interesting mix of, I think it's triphop or hiphop.  I don't know, but it has a nice vibe, and pretty mellow so you can do task while listening to it.  Check it out.
There some other mixes over there on YT if you follow the above video.  The one I was listening to last night, but for whatever reason I can't find, can be found here.  There are some other parts as well, if you want o hear even more.  

Friday, March 03, 2017

SF Ambience

Short post.  42 hours of ambient noise.  Sometimes ambient music, new age music, acoustic-electro music where you just hear a babbling brook can relax me.  Add a touch of music to that or some white noise, and it's a pretty good way to decompress at the end of a day.

Did you ever watch Star Trek: Next Gen and you'd hear the sound of the engines, and you look out the windows of the ship as the cosmos passes by as some of the main dialogue went on in the foreground?  I always tuned into that.  Well, I guess that's this is all about.  Go here.