This Band Is Pretty Good! I Wonder If They’re Turing!

I can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, and if I have, which is super possible since there’s so much stuff on here, oops.

A long time ago when computers were huge and vacuum-tube-powered, Alan Turing, you know, *the* Alan Turing, figured out how to make them sing. The recording of it was put away, and the poor thing was left to languish and distort. But some geniuses brought it back to its original glory, and here it is, recordings of a really old computer playing “God Save the King,” “Ba Ba Black Sheep”, and “In the Mood.”

I bet he was pissed when it would randomly stop, but it seemed the people around him were good about it.

Was there anything that guy couldn’t figure out?

I’ve Got A Trombone To Pick With You…

This story, although kind of sad, makes me laugh. It’s definitely odd.

It seems this fellow who just moved to a new apartment discovered that someone in his midst has a hate on for trombones.

Sam and a lady friend had been living in Dixon. But this summer she got a job offer in Peoria, so they found an apartment near Pioneer Parkway. In mid-July, they began moving in stages: they brought a small number of items (including the trombone) about a month ago, while a maintenance crew cleaned and painted their place. Then they returned with more items at the end of the month.
On that second trip, Sam glimpsed the bedroom closet. That’s where he’d placed his trombone, zipped inside its canvas case. But the case had been torn open — “They didn’t even bother to use the zipper,” Sam says — and the trombone left disheveled.

So he didn’t even manage to play it in his new apartment and tick off his neighbours before someone decided to wreck it? There’s a part of me that wonders if the damaging of the trombone was a bit of, ahem, preventative maintenance. You have to wonder, since it later says there was no signs of forced entry, and maintenance crews were in there when he dropped it off.

I used to play the trumpet, although if I picked it up now, it would probably sound like a wounded cow had gotten loose in the apartment building. I have to wonder, if I’d continued to play, if my poor trumpet would have been messed with.

It seems like the trombone does him some good, so I hope he can fix it. But maybe he should figure out how to sound-proof his apartment too.

Does This Qualify As Backing Down?

I don’t know if this is weird or not, but even though Tom Petty is one of my favourite recording artists of all time and is at least partially responsible for the creation of literally dozens of songs that I will love forever, I have no idea what my favourite Tom Petty song is. Since the news broke last night I’ve been trying to figure it out, but I just can’t. Although when I really stop and think about it, not knowing might be the highest compliment I could possibly pay Tom Petty the musician.

I feel like sentences similar to this perhaps get thrown around a little too much, but Tom Petty really does strike me as somebody who wrote a song for everyone. Whether you were looking for a loud song, a quiet song, a fast song, a slow song, a driving song, a song that feels like it’s speaking to you alone, a song everybody can relate to, a love song, an angry song, a song to sing along to or a song about some sort of new beginning, odds are you could find one with his name on it. Odds are also that you could find many of those qualities in a single song, because so many of them are just that well crafted. It’s not easy to write a simple song that millions of people are going to want to listen to for decades, but somehow Tom Petty managed to do it over and over and over again, I dare say more than almost anyone.

Ok, back to me for a second.

I still don’t have the foggiest clue what my favourite Tom Petty song is, but I knew immediately which one I’d choose if I could only share one here.

When this came out, I was doing some very small time radio. And while I’m extremely proud of that fact because it means that I achieved one of my life’s longest dreams, it was also pretty clear that for a lot of reasons it was never going to be the career my imagination had drawn it up to be. I think that somewhere inside me I’d known that for a while, but then Tom Petty and his damn song walked up and punched me right in the emotions.

No, nothing super dramatic happened after that. I didn’t march in and quit the next day. But when it was time to go, that 3 and a half minutes helped me make some sense out of how I felt about it. To this day listening to it still makes me a little sad, but that’s what good songs and great songwriters do. They make you feel something. They help you sort things out. They help get you through. I hope Tom Petty knew how many people he did that for.

Tickets On The Weekend


Yet another case of an album I had no idea had already been out for a while.

This is a newish single from Oh Susanna, who Carin and I discovered years ago when she and her band opened for Jim Cuddy. It’s called “Tickets on the Weekend”, and it tells an amusing and apparently true story about getting all revved up to go to a punk show only to be busted trying to buy liquor under age. It’s from the album “A Girl in Teen City”, which has been available in fine stores and apps since the end of May.

Update: Here’s another one.

“My Boyfriend” is a high school story about a guy singing in a band (or at least trying to) and how she knows she could totally kick his ass in the same position, but says nothing.

Well, that Song Is Ruined

This weekend we went to visit my brother. We helped him finally upgrade from the very cell phone Carin was writing about in this post from a decade ago, and we also got to spend some time with Trixie, who is doing pretty well for 12 and a half but is getting noticeably older.

Also, this happened.

Brad: You know that Adalida song that George Strait does?
Carin and I: Yes?
Brad: It says “I swear my balls are drained.”
Carin and I: What!?
Brad: It does!
Me: Uh…
Carin: I think I know the line. It’s the part about swimming whatever that river is called.
Me: Uh…

Now that I’ve heard it I’ll never unhear it, but if you’re going to hear it it helps to either not listen on decent speakers or to not be close to them if you do. Carin played it on her phone and it totally sounded like ‘ol George’s testicles had in fact been emptied, but listening to it here as I write this it sounds more like what it actually is, that being “I’d swim the Pontchartrain.” And for the sake of accuracy, the Pontchartrain is either a lake or an estuary, not a river.

But while we can maybe argue that, the fact that Adalida is ruined forever is not up for debate. Thanks, Brad!

Modern Pop Music Is Awful Say Scientists, Your Parents

Every generation thinks that the stuff it grew up on is better than the shit we have now. It happens with everything. Movies, TV, sports, society in general…you name it, somebody will inevitably complain about it. Maybe it has to do with the things I tend to personally pay attention to, but there’s nowhere I notice this more than when it comes to music. Rock, punk, jazz, blues, big band…all of it has been described as noise or devil music or racket or lame or square or any number of not so friendly terms meant to represent the ruination of a once great art form. So when I started bitching about new music which believe it or not first happened when I was in high school, even though in my heart I knew I was right and everybody else was an idiot, I also figured it was just me getting old before my time.

Or maybe it isn’t. I’m definitely getting old before my time in some ways, I’ve known that forever. but maybe everyone else is, in fact, an idiot where this issue is concerned.

You may not agree with everything buddy says here (there are plenty of songs that have absolutely stood the test of time that took a while to grow on me), but it’s hard to argue most of this. Almost everything (even the stuff I think is good) has a certain sameness to it now. A lot of it is way too loud. And don’t even try telling me that there’s no such thing as a millennial whoop, the fancy term for the oooing and aaaaing and woooing and woeing that slides into every song where the hooks sung with words used to go.

The words which, as has rightly been pointed out in the video and elsewhere, are getting dumber. That’s not me arguing that us older folks didn’t have our share of stupid songs, it’s just pointing out that they used to be called novelty records whereas now they’re just called records.

I know we’re never going to agree on this even though science is telling us to. We can’t even agree on climate change, for Christ’s sake! But when the day comes that you can’t tell an Uptown Funk from a Blurred Lines from a Hotline Bling and you’re wondering what the hell happened, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Please Don’t Nuke Us, North Korea

I wanted to post this song when all the fire and fury stuff started, but then life got away from me. With North Korea doing more missile tests, Now is as good a time as any.

Get your lyrics right here.

I’m not dragging them over here, because they actually have links explaining context of some words, which I think is so much more awesome. They do have an advertisement thwacked right in the middle of the lyrics, so boy oh boy was it ever tempting to copy and paste. But I’ll be good.

This little paragraph caught me, which I hadn’t even considered, and made it that much funnier.

About “The North Korea Polka (Please Don’t Nuke Us)” 1 contributor
In a stupider version of the Cold War, two ill-tempered overtly sensitive world leaders with nuclear arsenals are spewing threats at one another. But one side loves accordions, so Last Week Tonight tries to appease North Korea by calling in America’s best in that instrument, Weird Al!

Yes! It’s true! North Korea does love their accordions! I just read My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons, and there were certainly lots of accordions mentioned in there.

Because I just read that book, I had lots of weird thoughts about that song beyond the expected “ha ha ha you’re funny and weird” that I would have had anyway. I actually wondered, if people in North Korea heard that song, if it would even make sense to them at all, and if it would do the exact opposite of appease them.

So, from what I understand of North Korea, they’re pretty cut off from the rest of the world. I know there are media-smuggling operations trying to make it less so, so not everyone is in the dark, but the fact that smuggling of media is necessary tells you the information isn’t exactly free-flowing. They have their state news, and everything is super controled. So, would they know what fidget-spinning is, or Tinder, or heck, would they get any of the slang in there?

And as for my thought that it would actually piss them off more, here’s why I say that. From what I read in the book, which I admit is the view that people in North Korea want foreign tourists to have, everyone talked about Americans as “American impirialists” who destroyed their country and culture. So, I can’t imagine having an American Impirialist stand up there and basically say “You guys are totally insignificant to us” having a very good result. I’m picturing two kids wrestling and the big one says “Is that all you can do?” What does the little kid do?

I know, I know, it was supposed to be funny, and I’m not saying I actually think it is the only diplomacy avenue being used, and it’s not like it’s getting blasted into North Korea or anything. I just thought it was interesting to look at it from another angle, an angle I wouldn’t have even considered had I not read that book.

The Devil Went Down To The Laundromat

Do you ever get fixated on the rhythm of something like a clock or a knocking engine or a washing machine and think to yourself man, I could put music to this? I do that all the time. Evidently so does this guy, but unlike me he’s ambitious and talented and as a result he made the video I never got around to.

If you can hold it together when the fiddle kicks in, you’re stronger than I.