Going for the “Jangular” from the Pretty Voices

A garage band named “The Pretty Voices” seems a little odd, but that’s the gist I think: to be a little off. The group isn’t aimed at a profound/powerful vocal arrangement; they’re about doing the rock thing in the garage-band kind of way: Independent, holding amateur flaws but also showing an ability that warrants exposure in one fashion or another.

It was completely by chance and a “well why not?” attitude on my part that got me to check out their album, Jangular, which was released in May of this year. The entire album is available online for purchase but it’s also able to be accessed through YouTube.

Now, I’m not a garage band listener on the norm… Heck, I rarely listen to anything of current (which holds to this story in a way, we’ll get to that in a second). I really did just listen to Pretty Voices by chance (the direct influence being Creative Loafing Tampa’s tweeting about their review of Jangular). I was drawn into the group from what I was hearing simply because the band could hit an influential riff in their pieces, such as in Control. It’s simple enough, though it also has its flaws (late in the song, it just ends up sounding messy).

El Camino, in beat and pacing, is pop rock in how it comes off. I can’t make out the lyrics but that’s my flaw with hearing disability and it – missing out on lyrics – is a running truth for most of Janular songs. That’s not a flaw for them, not as much as when engineering / production can’t diversify the sound produced for bridges in Pretty Voices songs.

The track that stands out for me to the point that I bought it was “Crackle Pop” which I embed here:

The oddity of the number is that it was released as a single three years ago by the group. The entire concoction of Jangular was put together and amassed over five years. Back to “Crackle Pop”, it’s a brilliant mix of the riff and pacing to truly come off as a crackling pop-rock number. The take from years ago seems a little less refined than the album version of the song.

In the end, Jangular and Pretty Voices are worth checking into in one way or another – be it an online listen on YouTube, buying a track from an online store, or checking the group out in-performance at a show in St. Petersburg.

When you’re better at Tech Support than Apple is

Talk about a tech FAIL on Apple’s part:

I bought an iPod Non 7th generation in April of this year. In some ways I’ve still been adjusting to it and some features I really liked but hadn’t tried out yet. I’ve mostly been using it around the house; I’ve found my other iPod (Nano, 3rd gen) is more effective on workouts than going to the touch-based Nano.

I upgraded the important desktop software tied to iPods and what not, iTunes, on Wednesday afternoon to version 12.4; I’d put off upgrading for a while because of no clear need… But prompts to upgrade came up so routinely that I decided there was no clear reason to not upgrade either.

It would seem the upgrade itself helped give me a reason not to have done so.

The 7th generation Nano doesn’t sync anymore with iTunes saying it can’t identify the device. There’s been no action undertaken on the Nano to cause change/issue, only with iTunes backend. I uninstalled iTunes and found I can’t install older versions any more. I have to use 12.4…and the software won’t/can’t identify the Nano.

This is where tech support jumps in and saves the fray, right? Involvement and instruction to get matters resolved… Yeah, about that…. iTunes/Apple support was a joke. I didn’t contact them having not tried tech support methods that “More Info” on iTunes had prompted, and yet it was that stuff that was fed to me directly all over again. When I told them I’d already tried that stuff, I got instructed to do a … reinstall? Despite the fact it’s prompted by iTunes itself, which I already attempted, which already failed in clearing up the issue. Multiple times at that.

In the end they wanted to send someone (a tech support person) as aid? Or have myself venture to the Apple Store to have one of their people look at the problem in person? It’s not like a device like this can’t be remedied by a user, but the options for doing so themselves were few.

Oh, the 7th Gen Nano still works on its own… I just can’t sync. And my older iPod Nano (3rd Generation) works just fine with syncing. What does that tell you about Apple’s own failure?

As a last, last attempt on fixing things (and I felt bad for doing it because I thought I’d put my music library at risk), I used an elaboration uninstall remedy that CNET had pitched years ago. I didn’t want to reset play-counts or do a media rebuild… I just wanted a clean installation of an (old) iTunes version. The article elaborates on having to uninstall more than just iTunes as part of the process to restarting. Trying to install an older version of iTunes failed, miserably, as the iTunes library database files had to be deleted too. I wasn’t about to restart my audio library…  I gave up on this idea. I uninstalled that older version and re-installed iTunes 12.4. For shame, I’d have to lose this new(ish) Nano.

Yeah, well, I plugged it in for a last sync attempt and everything worked just as fine as it should for how well the device worked on its own.

Some type of software compromise had happened in the Apple core – not just in iTunes but interacting programs.  Getting rid of everything resolved this. Repairing the issue, however, wasn’t what tech support thought. Not in elaboration, at least.

It’s lonely on the chat client

Socializing online has evolved, it would seem. Proof seems to show in how people are conducting themselves online through mobile means with their smartphones or tablets. It’s brought a little quirk that’s surprising in some ways and which shouldn’t be: The fact the stand-alone instant message clients seem to be turning into relics from the past. Continue reading “It’s lonely on the chat client”

My foray into Pinterest

The truth is that while I’ve been on Pinterest (actively) for six months now, I still haven’t picked up a legit follower yet. I also don’t know anyone to follow on there. I’ve been aware of the platform for years, but I don’t socialize much on it (exploring, interacting, etc).

But I am active on there in my own little neck of the wood. I’m just not posting photos I’ve taken or recipes or clothing (sans some custom shirt designs). I’ve stuck with the entertainment field in what I’ve posted. Maybe in time I’ll evolve to something of more significance and extravagance but for now in my lonely life, it’s this.

That brings us to the whole reason I write a blog post on the subject… My most active board on Pinterest is a little project in film reflection… it’s simply looking at some of my favorite movie bad guys/antagonists. I can’t say I break any ground on descriptions / why I list certain characters. I can say I’m entertained by trying to remember villians/challengers that I like from cinema.

So! For the sake of exposing my account on Pinterest and what not… I give you “Favorite Movie Villains”:

Follow John’s board Favorite movie villains on Pinterest.

The joys (sarcasm) of charitable fundraising for a rare disease (NF2)

Wednesday, February 10th marked my 12th anniversary as a hockey blogger.  That’s a pretty huge milestone as bloggers don’t usually last more than 3 years… let alone 12! Oh, Stonegauge is probably older than that – though I did not have many entries the past few years. To mark the occasion I brought up the genetic/neurological disorder I’ve been dealing with since I started, and started a charity drive called Deke the Deuce. The money is going to a Tampa Bay area based Neurofibromatosis Type II charity organization.

Big time blogger raising awareness and pulling in dollars to aid the fight against NF2! Cute name for the drive too!

Yeah, well, what I’ve learned in the past week-plus of the drive is that charity fundraising is tough even if you have a huge reach through social and general media.  You may have a wide number of readers or thsoe exposed to the drive by way of retweets and Facebook shares but if someone doesn’t connect to the cause, why would they hand over a nickel, let alone the amount of cash that would actually show up on the charity page?

I don’t know the best way to “update” the page. Anything I say is too personal and too thin an audience sees it. Yet I have to connect and personal is the only way to do it.  But telling people how you went deaf? What life can be like in deafness or even just hard of hearing?

The fact I’m also mostly pushing this at hockey fans hurts things too just because I’m not sure how to give it a broader appeal.

I plan on running thins through March 16… I don’t know if I’ll even reach $500, but the money raised is better than nothing. And I HAVE enlightened some people and introduced them to the disorder in general.

 

Looking for suggestions: Relaxing pop/rock numbers form the 1980s

Over the years, a lot of 1980s classics that I’ve been exposed to and enjoyed have been mocked and marred because of stenotypes of music form the 1980s in general as being too cheesy or being too slow/sleepy/boring. There are people I know who continue to dress down 1980s music and certain artists specifically because of the era and…

And they’re still good songs so shut up.

There are rich pop songs that are slower and perfect for night when trying to relax (if not sleep).  I’ve got a playlist for it, but I know I’m lacking a lot of the music from that era that would fit:

  • ”All out of Love” – Air Supply
  • “Another Day in paradise” – Phil Collins
  • “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House
  • “Drive” – The Cars
  • “I’ve Been Waiting For A Girl Like You” — Foreigner
  • “One More Night” – Phil Collins
  • “Steppin’ Out” – Joe Jackson (which I wrote about recently)
  • “Take My Breath Away” – Berlin

The whole reason I blog about this is because I’m looking for other 1980s songs like these – soft rock, pop, mid tempo. I’m aware of other options from some of these artists (Air Supply and Collins specifically) but I’m looking for other artists. Hearing different examples or suggestions wouldn’t be a bad thing.

And yeah, there are songs from other decades that fit the bill quite easily (“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel; “Tears In Heaven” (unplugged) by Eric Clapton), but right now the quest is to discover from 30 years ago, not rediscover from the 1990s and be introduced to numbers form the 00s/2010s.

OK Stupid and the joys of social interaction via online dating sites

I’ve done dating sites before. I had remarked on an old-old post here about how much I disliked where I was going with Plenty of Fish (the types of profiles I was exposed to and how there was no positive contact). I’ve made friends and romantic interests through old sites now gone, Match.com and even Plenty of Fish. It’s not all bad out there but the platform for Plenty of Fish keeps me away from it.

With few contacts of recent who have led to a wider social world or romantic promise, I’ve tried two platforms in recent months and both have been dreadful for very different reasons.

Lavalife

An arcane platform out of the late-90’s/early 00’s (at least that’s the way it was in my experience in 2015), Lavalife didn’t feel secure (password size limitations, for example) and being contacted almost outright by spammers/scammers. Pair the clunky, arcane aspect and security issues with the base of the site users being in Canada (that’s not a security flaw, that’s just a distance from each other that prevents actual want to reach out / make contact). All together it just didn’t work. Neither did the brief free trial and then forced paid-subscriber switch to continue.

I do have friends who end up getting married after meeting through the platform and it did remind me of American Singles where I was reached out to and met a friend off the network waaaay in the past. Lavalife trying to stick with that template so-many years after the fact is flawed though. It’s too limited in profile information for it’s users, giving them little reason to stick around before forcing them to pay to continue. I didn’t last on there. My friends who met and forged a relationship did it long before the switch-to-subscriber standard was put into effect.

OK Cupid

This is the dating site I wanted to vent about the most when I started writing this out, as I spent a good length of time on that powerful platform that led to contact from two women total in more than a year of use. Two total contacts after how-many messages sent on my part? Friendly conversation attempts to get things started, not Mr. Pervert antics that are far too common on dating site messages to women (from what I’ve been told by friends). And after investing time in reading profiles, seeking people with high match ratings (more on that in a jiff), no one had responded to a conversation I attempted to start while only one of those two women who contacted me led to a friendly and sustained conversation. It didn’t lead to anything besides some casual and friendly chats, but that’s better than the immediate-social-meeting-because-me-and-my-girlfriend-are-new-to-town antics from the other woman who contacted me.

OK Cupid is a powerhouse platform, as I said, free of charge with solid technology, but it’s flawed deeply. While some users use laptops or PCs to write their profiles and interact on the site, too many others are doing their work (and searches) mobile and won’t make much of an effort to build a profile, let alone communicate. The site tries to extort you into paying a monthly fee to see those who “like” your profile/picture (and a few other bells and whistles), but that’s just an ultra-easy, lazy and stupid means of interaction with someone you take interest in or are aroused by. That “like” system is playing off social media and catering to impulse by mobile users but leaves out the complication of accountability. You like a profile or a photo? Great, congrats, now send a message and break the ice. That’s why a person is on that platform to begin with – to be social. Might as do your part and actually socialize.

OK Cupid also employs a survey/question and answer system that is also a huge flaw. Many, many questions are asked for the topics of ethics, religion, dating, sex, lifestyle and other general shit. They’re all available for you to help set a “match percentage” with other site members. The whole thing is a time occupying sham that defies the basic concept of getting to know someone, let alone finding out things in common or adjusting your habits to suit someone else. It’s possible to click with someone who has different wants / needs / craves that we see as polarizing negatives. The fact that match percentages might be thrown off by the most useless, unimportant differences in opinion (or bolstered by mundane things you don’t care about in a potential friend/date/romantic interest). With that and how so many  members don’t even review that stuff adds to the throw-off aspect of the system.

There’s also the aspect the questions – which are all elective to answer, by the way – have a very wide gray area in reality but are presented as black-or-white, yes-or-no in OK Cupid.  “It Depends” is a truth with certain questions, let alone with how you’d react to certain people you forged a personal connection with regarding their habits, desires or beliefs and what not.

I’ll note here that Match.com owns OK Cupid and now Plenty of Fish. Between how common spam is from people with affiliations to Match, with how bare-bones and weak Plenty of Fish can be, and with how closed off OK Cupid is by way of laziness and anti-social habits from it’s members, I’ve got to search for a better site if I want to try that form of socializing again. At this rate, I have a better chance of meeting someone though Twitter than on an up-front dating site.

Do you do cabinet work in the Tampa Bay area? I’m selling a domain name

I have a domain name for sale that was purchased for marketing sake for a web site I used to work on. The company has been gone for years and they never much took to the regional domain name. Heck, even the field – wood work and cabinetry – makes it feel like a regional domain name isn’t a necessity for marketing.

That being said, TampaBayCabinets.com is available for purchase through Sedo. The site it was purchased for had cabinetry and woodworking in mind catering to customers in the Tampa Bay metro area. While the price isn’t cheap, the regional branding for a company is a good marketing point (as long as the domain name is clearly listed on company branded material).

 

Film memories, lasting legacies, and songs from forgotten films

John Travolta is not the subject of this entry, but he is the starting point to get to what I want to speak about. It’s the way I tend to write – to segue into the point/subject. The subject is tied to Travolta and his work but Travolta isn’t supposed to be the main topic.

I got introduced to Travolta with “Look Who’s Talking” in 1990. I was a kid and the film got a lot of exposure in pop culture by way of the cutesy aspect and the fact stars Kristy Alley (Cheers among other things) and Bruce Willis had their hands in the film (among others). John Travolta was considered an also-ran at that point, or at least that’s how things seem to reflect now. It was a long way from Saturday Night Fever as well as his TV role in Welcome Back, Kotter. If there’s other stuff that was a large success for Travolta between those 70’s entries and his late 80’s/early 90’s stuff… well, I fail there (Urban Cowboy is an exception, I think). I just know Staying Alive was forgettable and we’ll leave it at that.

Between Look Who’s Talking and its sequels, Travolta found himself back in film culture. This ruffled feathers, which is actually my second memory of Travolta that stands out: Quentin Tarantino talking down about Travolta being in “a baby movie” either after his casting for Pulp Fiction or after the film aired at one film festival or another. It was repeated a few times, Tarantino couldn’t believe someone like Travolta had been in a baby movie! How could this happen?! It’s a quirk of cinema in general, for actors to be brushed off or working in roles that seem beneath them because of a lack of offers form the high. Heck, actor Dom Ameche was working dinner-acting jobs because no one would call him and offer work opportunities. It was what he’d already achieved professionally that got him cast as one of the Duke Bros. in Trading Places without even having to read for the role… But it was the first role in a feature film in 13 years.

Travolta had roles though. One of them, his pre-Look Who’s Talking film, is what I’m trying to segue to. I don’t recall exactly when I got exposed to The Experts, but I did catch it on HBO and it’s a quirky spy-comedy that has one immense quirk driving me nuts lately: an intangible soundtrack.

To summarize the movie: Two (Travolta and Arye Gross as Travis and Wendell) unlucky hipsters who keep failing at starting a club in New York agree to trying to launch a club in a small town. They find themselves in a reclusive, socially stunted (read: 1950’s down-home style) place without a lot of normal, modern aspects of society. They don’t find out until much, much later it’s actually a spy town within the Soviet Union. It’s a play on the Cold War and a contrast of culture. The flick didn’t exactly set any precedence but it’s not bad either. Maybe now it seems extra dated – Travolta had a mullet, which should tell you enough – because the Cold War isn’t a driving factor in society.

All of this leads to that aspect about the soundtrack that is driving me nuts: how you can’t find it. While I say the movie comes off dated now, one song promoting Americana can stand the test of time as it’s a nationalism/pop culture ditty called “Hometown U.S.A.”. The song was part of the closing of the film, I’m not going to give spoilers on that… It was quite fitting for when it was played, I’ll just say that.

Yet you can’t find the song in digital music stores. The lyrics aren’t posted anywhere that can be found on a Google search. The song itself is posted on YouTube but the quality of the copy is suspect (at least from my hearing). The artist, for the curious, is credited as David Morgan, with writing credits going to Harold Payne, Pete Luboff, and Pat Luboff. It got posted on July 4th, 2011 – 22 years after the film’s release and yet again fitting as it was the 4th of July.

How common is this in film, where songs just disappear? Ones that stand out to you and yet you can’t find them anywhere besides in the film itself?  I’m not talking about Matthew Broderick’s clarinet playing during Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; I mean specifically songs crafted for films that just slip away. Another 1980’s film song that I was searching for in the last year (just to find the full performance of it) was “Paradise” by Kaylee Adams, which you can hear a snippet of in the movie White Water Summer. The only thing I had luck in finding was the movie clip itself and some employ pages / other Kaylee Adams songs.

A song is something that lasts in your mind if you connect to it or what images it’s tied to, or what feelings are around when you hear it. Songs tied to movies are especially going to leave a mark with you if you like the scene they’re part of… And that’s a fact even if the film is a bomb in cinema – the music can still leave a mark and a memory, which can still draw interest (and make the entertainment industry a dime) years and years later.

A social reaction to an aloof social-media status response

I tend to be a wise ass when I set a status message on Facebook, or I’ll play around with pop culture, or music, or share small, small things in a very unclear way. It part of it is me trying to draw attention and yet also have positive interaction with friends. Talking about private issues in truth and honesty, as a guy, is going to just lead to complaints / mockery from guy friends.

It can also piss you off as hypocrites participate in comments.

Monday morning I dropped on to Facebook and one of the top status messages currently going on my timeline was a female friend telling a personal story tied to….bathroom stall graffiti. My friend is divorced, still trying to move on in life after the divorce (the marriage ended abusively). Between that status, written at sometime around 2 AM, and other thoughts dangling in my mind in recent days, I put up a very personalized status of my own – a little generalized and grandiose but the message was honest:

“Why is it the most mundane and yet immense social destination of life, love, is a journey that fails so completely for me? It’s an adventure with someone that just never materializes into the joint trip.”

A private status just went public, why?  Because of the response I got. See, with a status like that you’d think to either be hands off or encouraging. That’s private and personal. What I got was a dense, reactionary reply from someone who had been who I had a very stunted journey with when it comes to love. Someone who was alienated by life, had long interest in me, and who threw it all away.  We’ll put it that way. Someone who’s twice married and who slept around before, during, and after marriage:

“Love is elusive. You won’t find it if you are looking for it.”

That’d be a profound remark if the responder did not have ties to my statement, as someone I failed the journey with. And I’d willingly open up a conversation on the point – that I had some great leads when I was least looking for romance – if she wasn’t an example; an example of one, who wasn’t elusive but who dropped the entire idea when it was least convenient.

Love isn’t elusive. It’s too easy for some to find to be considered that way. The fact I hear of marriage and babies from so many friends of both genders I’ve known (some of whom I’ve been attached to) is counter to the notion of elusiveness. Even dating that lasts more than a single or few nights, or lustful romances that come and go… That’s something more than what I’m experiencing.

The only thing elusive is what path I have to take to actually find myself in a mutual romantic involvement without being taken for granted or used for the moment. Someone who wants to take the trip in life with me and someone I want right by my side for the trip.