The latest on Elongate

I am conveniently renaming Elon Musk’s takover bid of Twitter from Limpgate to Elongate. Elongate was Elon’s preferred nomenclature for that time when he groped a stewardess or exposed himself, or, hell. I can’t be bothered to look that part up.

But it might be otherwise appropriate to name the Twitter takeover bid, one that has now on its way to the courts, Elongate as well. The Twitter board hopes it can force Musk to seal the deal, and frankly it is so full of missteps and stupidity, that Twitter just might get its way and either extract 40 billion out of him or at the very least, the 1 billion it will cost for Elon to walk away. Elon, being uber-wealthy, can afford tie this up in the courts for years, therby, uh, elongating his freedom from judgement in the public eye.

The reason Elon gives is that it’s about the number of bots. But I just think he wanted to buy his way into a power grab. Buying Twitter would be like buying his own printing press, allowing freedom of speech to him and his friends. Being a private company where he can do anything he wants, he can selectively “moderate” the users he doesn’t like, and allow that unfettered free speech he craves to users he does like. He is a businessman, not a philosopher. He just needs to point to users he hopes to bring back into the fold, such as Donald Trump, and point to him and say that allowing Trump unfettered access is proof that he honors free speech. The appearance of free speech is all the free speech Musk needs.

We all kind of sense this. Since when does an automaker become so passionate about unfettered free speech? Does he allow it for his Tesla employees? The truth is that the 70,000 Tesla employees in the United States are not unionized, and is the only car manufacturer in the United States to operate without any trade union representation. How he sees their rights, free speech and bargaining power is certainly obfuscated by Musk’s bravado and hubris regarding unions in his press releases (or really, his Twitter messages – same thing these days).

Now facing a stock market in freefall (Tesla’s stock has plummeted 34% since January), along with layoffs, and the economy tanking generally, we see a more compelling reason for Elon to want to pull out at the last minute. It is about profit, as it is always about profit. And now he is trying to use the courts to weasel out of the deal, hoping that Twitter will give up as legal costs mount, and the 1 billion dollar severance is no longer cost effective. I think that will take a long time.

More things to worry about

y2.d40 | worry lines | the kind of lines you get on your for… | Flickr

House Prices in the GTA.

Oh God! House prices are falling in the GTA! The Toronto Star has its hair on fire! The shock was never that house  prices were soaring at the 30% level per annum; the shock is that prices are falling by a maximum of 7% over the past 5 months. In Milton, where this maximum is experienced, the average house price has fallen from $1.48 million dollars to $1.37 million last month. While that, along with inflation and rising interest rates are likely to cause remorsefulness among these new home buyers who sank their life savings into their properties, it doesn’t do anything to actually make homes more affordable. If 1.5 million was far out of reach, then 1.4 million is also out of reach. These prices are out of reach for me, even at half that price. Indeed, average condos are half that, and would still need to be half of that half before I can discuss anything (and we are not even talking about condo fees).

Monkey Pox.

We now have a new disease to worry about. According to the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proper spelling is “monkeypox” (one word). The proper spelling may be a tomato/tom-AH-to kind of thing, as I have seen “chicken pox” spelled as two words, which tells me that the one-word rule is not consistently applied. It turns out in the Congo, mokeypox began when they tried to eradicate smallpox. That was back in the 1970s, but incidents have been recorded as far back in 1958 in colonies of monkeys, hence the name. Cases in North America are rare, and mostly tied to people travelling from Central Africa to this continent. The first time monkeypox was observed inside North America was in a person travelling from Canada to the United States, five days ago. It is a weak virus, transmissible only by skin contact.

Elongate.

“Elongate” is what Elon Musk wants you to call that time back in 2016 when he exposed himself to a flight attendant, and was later sued by her. Just before the case went to court, the flight attendant was bought off for a quarter million so that he wouldn’t need to face a court hearing.

Limpgate.

I am imagining that this would need to be the name for the controversy over Musk’s hostile takeover of Twitter, but has now placed his purchase on hold, as he has now seen to his horror that Tesla’s stock was becoming, uh, limp, going by Elon Musk’s nomenclature. His purported reason for delaying his hostile takeover bid was because he was busy looking into the number of automated bots on that site (and thus decreasing the value of his bid to 30 billion). I think the former reason is more realistic. And on the surface, you might think that his committment to unfettered free speech is great and altruistic, but in practice, that philosophy of letting everyone post what they want without any form of refereeing is what led to toxic cesspools like 4chan and 8chan, which led to people posting depictions and comments of explicit racism and child porn. This is why Twitter, and all crowdsourced internet content needs to be moderated. I am guessing that Musk is not so much “investigating the bots” as he is being schooled on the importance of content moderation, putting a damper on his free speech ambitions. And then let’s see if this idea of a hostile takeover is, uh, pulled out at the last minute.

Derechoes.

A derecho is the name given to that storm of two days ago with heavy rain and 120 km/h gusts which extended from around London, Ontario, ripping through the Greater Toronto Area including Mississauga and Oakville, and going as far east as Quebec City. It left in its wake many dead, fallen branches, trees torn at the trunks and destroying homes and property. I would have just said it was a heavy rainstorm with high winds, but I understand that nowadays that weather reporting has become big business, they like to give each kind of storm a fancy name to spice up the reporting a bit.

Conservatives in Ontario.

The election is underway, and the Conservatives are slated to return to power, given their healthy lead in the polls. The best thing to happen to the Conservatives are the Liberals and NDP, who have had at best a clumsy leadership and not the huge following you would expect after Ford doing everything in his power to toady up to big business and his friends constructing outer ring superhighways which will take a toll on farms, The Greenbelt and other protected areas. Ford couldn’t hold his own in the most recent public debate; in addition no word of condolence for anyone whose lives were lost in the storm of two days ago, but none of that seems to matter.

There is a silver lining. There really has been no riding-by-riding polling to get a more fine-grained sense of public political preferences, and this can matter as the most persuasive campaigns are done on foot, meeting people door-to-door, or in public places. While this seems incremental, pollsters say it can make a big difference in the actual outcome of the election. Stop the Split reports that the opposition to the Conservatives would have been starker had the left (the NDP, Greens and Liberals) agreed to form a coalition. Alas, that is not in the works.

In 2018, one riding went Green, 40 went to NDP, and 7 went to the Liberals. Many of the ridings the PCs won in the last election were by thin margins, thanks to the votes being split between NDP and Liberals. If there was a coalition, the PCs would have trailed by 60 seats. But even mitigating this is that Stephen Del Duca leading the Liberals is a kind of blase leader who engenders no spark in the public realm, being seen more as an interim leader similar to Stephane Dion or Michael Ignatieff were for the Federal Liberals in the early 2000s, which extended the minority rule of Conservative leader Stephen Harper well beyond his “best before” date.

Getting your ass handed to you

I have become a fan of author Jon Ronson, a Welsh writer of nonfiction, or more like a journalist who writes books, I suppose. His chosen topics center mostly around the messier, disordered parts of human nature. He deals with the aspects of our experience where we often fear to tread: from online shaming and bullying, to the mentality of psychopaths, to our very own ability to categorize people as our power over them.

The latest I have heard from him was a series of audio podcasts which I had downloaded from Audible called The Last Days of August, a biography of events surrounding the suicide of porn actress August Ames in 2017. Ames was known as an A-List porn star, married to producer Kevin Moore, a man more than 20 years her senior. It is notable that there were 5 suicides of porn actors in the month after Ames’s suicide.

Generally the podcast Last Days spread out over 7 half-hour episodes what could have easily been condensed to half that, at least in my opinion. It isn’t that there was “fluff” in the piece necessarily, it is just that there was too much detail, and by episode 4, even Ronson is questioning whether his digging around the porn industry was too obsessive.

Well, if Ronson was looking for the messier side of humanity to root around in for stories, he certainly found it. We see the messiest possible intersection between messed-up porn actors and actresses, messed-up producers and directors, the vindictiveness of the business generally, manipulation, fear of STDs, fear of each other, and fear-mongering both real and imagined, in all possible directions. What truth could possibly be dredged up from such an unholy mess of people and situations?

But around the 17:20 minute mark of Episode 4, he interviews a porn actress named Lisa Ann, another actress considered to be an “A-Lister”. Her real name appears to be Lisa Ann Corpora, a dark-haired actress known for her porn parody of Alaska politician Sarah Palin. Lisa Ann was one of the rare actresses who lasted in the industry well beyond the 3-4 years that most women last. She owned her own porn production company. Lisa Ann was in her mid-40s at the time of the interview and had just come out of her second retirement (or was it her third?) to sign up with the production company Evil Angel, the same company August and husband Kevin worked for before August’s suicide.

But what comes out of the interview with Lisa Ann was a lightning bolt of clarity in all of the messiness and confusion of the story.

“99.9% of what you are going to hear from interviews is fucking bullshit. Everybody fucking lies. They are the most uneducated, shady fucking criminal people I’ve ever engaged with,” Lisa Ann says. You can say that she is trying to protect her employer, Evil Angel, and in turn her job with these words, but discrediting porn actors in this way amounts to remarks that are uncontroversial, and it is an easy sell. Elsewhere in the series, the porn industry was self-described by those in it as adult actors who have never resolved their childhood issues, being managed by other adults who suffer from the same lack of resolve of childhood issues. Essentially describing the industry as grown-up children managing other grown-up children.

After a few remarks giving her angle on all of those things causing Ronson suspicions about the possibility of Kevin controlling August in several ways, and the pressure of the AVN Tradeshow on August, she continues with “It’s a good thing to have a protective man like Kevin involved because there are many things that are involved in the business that should not be involved but are involved. Again, none of this is going to bring her back to life. None of this is going to make Kevin’s life easier, and none of us are perfect. We have lost a valuable person in the industry, we have an example poorly set for losing 5 girls in a month; they’re all gone now, and we can’t bring any of them back.

“Prodding at the animals in the cage and trying to find out what you can learn from a bunch of people who can’t even know the fucking truth — these are people who don’t even know their own truth — you’re talking about people who do drugs on the regular — People who do drugs and the gray matter in their minds and the things that it affects and the clarity that they don’t have are not respectable people to give their opinion on the death of another human being that they probably weren’t good to, weren’t close with, didn’t care about, and now they’re willing to talk about her.

“Let me put it to you this way: 75% of the industry is on the edge enough to commit suicide at any time. That’s the way you have to look at it. I’ve interacted sexually with more people that are no longer here than probably anybody in this world. It’s not that much of a story with one girl.”

It was chilling and sobering. The death of August and the cyberbullying story angle that Ronson was pursuing now seemed like small potatoes compared with the much larger and starker picture Lisa Ann was painting. It wasn’t just that a bunch of B and C-list porn actors were piling onto August in a short-lived cyberbullying frenzy; the real story is that the porn industry is dark, evil, sick, remorseless, and unempathetic at worst — confused and rudderless at best; and that the Twitter storm is just a small part of this story. Not only is it not much of a story with one girl; but it is likely not much of a story about August either. Ronson will never get the truth from interviewing people in the industry, because when people are willing to speak, it is mostly out of self-interest or self-promotion. Even allegations of August’s mental illness appeared in Ronson’s story to be just that, allegations based on circumstantial evidence and hearsay. This is not to deny that it is entirely possible that August along with a good chunk of the porn industry is mentally unstable; it is just that he didn’t seem to establish this for August all that well.

But Lisa Ann, not wanting to discuss that dark side more than she absolutely wants to, makes an effort to be more positive by breaking with the discussion by saying in the next breath:

“The story is the forward thinking future of not gossiping, not bringing up darkness, trying to look towards the light, and trying to instil a positive mindset, and trying to create groups. You can’t say that this piece of yours is working toward the future; you’re not going to save anybody. They’re already dead. You’re only going to make more people get closer to the edge, and we’ll have more deaths after this comes out. Because everyone is going to feel so guilty for the lies that they told.

“The end result for you is you want to blame Kevin for August’s suicide, right?”

“No”, Ronson insists. While it was Kevin’s idea to get Ronson to pursue the story, Ronson had to pursue the “Kevin is controlling” angle for his own journalistic integrity.

“Your using our industry and the weakness of our industry and the fear involved to create a story for yourself. I’ve seen this too many times before, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re using the dummies.”

The accusation of Ronson “using the dummies” was an unfair jab. Lisa Ann had otherwise said a lot that any viewer ought to digest, and did it in a way that would make a pretty sound conclusion for anyone seeking a story on the porn industry. And there were 3 more episodes to go after this. There wasn’t much more to say. Suddenly August’s story didn’t seem that interesting anymore. 3 more episodes of Ronson prodding and probing around the many angles to the the death of August, not adding much that was memorable. He definitely needs an editor.

But I can say that overall, Lisa Ann definitely handed his ass to him. It should have been a wake-up call to not focus so narrowly on one person’s psychological state, shaming, cyberbullying, and controlling spouses. There was an infinitely bigger story and he was missing it.

There was a lack of authoritativeness throughout this series that reduced the entire series into mostly he-said, she-said dialogues. There was no foundation, and even Lisa Ann’s dialog, while having the feeling of truth, still boiled down to “Lisa Ann’s opinion”, which I found deflating. It is possible that Ronson, a person who has given talks at Oxford University, Ted talks, and has been a guest on numerous podcasts and TV talk shows, is out of his depth here, and it should be taken as a life lesson, learn from it, and move on. And he has seemed to since. Apart from his public appearances on radio and TV, he has continued to make podcasts for the BBC. He is married with one son.

Tampering with Freedom of the Press

I have tried to hold off on writing about the latest kerfuffle regarding Donald Trump being cut out of the CBC televised version of the 1992 film Home Alone 2 during the time that Trump was still a private citizen, and not at all in politics. It is predictable, and right out of the Daily Stormer playbook that the Trump family would exaggerate this entirely out of proportion as a political slight against Trump.

This has now migrated from the CBC News desks to the New York Times, and what is newsworthy to me is that these big-money media organs found it newsworthy. This is man-baby syndrome at its worst. And the major media reports on the man-baby every time the man-baby coos, belches, spits up, bawls, throws a tantrum or tweets.

The thing is, we already know that Trump has a screw loose, so can we just get past that and have more journalistic efforts concentrated on normal tragedies like wars, homelessness and global warming?

Truth and Action

Pontius Pilate answered a life-and-death question with a question: “What is truth?” We recognize his response as a indecisiveness masking avoidance behaviour, since truth is well-defined, requiring evidence. Generally, even the answer to the question “What is truth?” needs argument and evidence.

But truth without evidence is undefinable. It can be anything we want it to be. “What is truth?”, asked as if truth were some abstraction, is a discussion that leads nowhere. Like watching shadows in a cave, we can never be sure what the substance of the shadow is doing if we don’t see it, but we can look to the shadow for evidence. True, we may get the wrong idea, but there’s a pretty good chance of getting most of it right. Our brains are wired to put such things together. And though our perceptions may be wrong sometimes, ignoring those perceptions and assimilations is normally seen as foolish and naive.

We can never see everything there is to see in life, but nevertheless, life expects us to make sense of the world around us given our limited perceptions and world view. And the critical decisions we make affecting our lives are almost never based on perfect information. But we often base decision on the degenerate data available, further informed by past experience, and often are expected to render such judgements, whether it is in our line of work, or our daily lives. More often than not, not deciding is often more damaging to one’s future than deciding. With a decision, at least you have a way to base a future plan for coping with any consequences. In life, there is no fence-sitting. Deciding not to decide is still a decision. And it is a decision with consequences.

 

Back after being blocked out

I haven’t published anything at this blog since mid-2011, and I won’t for some time, as I have to now fix the site. First, I needed to get rid of fake subscribers (over 15 thousand of them)  placed here by spambots. Spambots have also inserted nearly 150 thousand fake messages should you like to hear about male enhancement or raft of stolen/fake Gucci clothing. The “subscribers” are easy to get rid of; the messages are not. I can get rid of them about 200 at a time, but the process is slow. Nursing this patient to health will take some time.

This site still needs its plugins re-installed, spam deleted, and other things updated. The whole loss of the blog was due to a mysterious (until now) bug that prevented me from logging in to do anything. I just got rid of a lot of cruft and installed a fresh copy of the latest WordPress source in place of the old code. Now things are comparatively normal.

Meanwhile, check out my more academic blog, the Pi Kappa Journal. The initials of Pi Kappa are my initials, I try not to make things too snooty around here, so there is no significance intended in the choice of Greek letters in themselves. There, I have documented many of my latest chills and spills  into scitech.

[Media Monday] – Getting Sound equipment on the uber-cheap

This photo shows my sound equipment used for generating voice recording on a laptop.

The most prominent devices on the photo are the pair of Optimus microphones which have no hint of XLR connectivity, and just have quarter inch jacks. I bought them 10 years ago, and they have hardly been used.

There is also a Nexxtech preamp which takes a 9-volt battery and uses only RCA connectors. The Source was able to sell me 1/4″ to RCA adaptor plugs. I already had the required RCA to 1/8″ stereo mike input at home. The Source was able to get Nexxtech to special-order the preamp for me for about 25 dollars.

So, a 9-volt battery, a preamp, and a 1/4″-to-RCA adaptor, with tax came to about $35.00.  I have no need for sound management software, since I use Audacity, which is free.

I thought it was time to pull the old mikes off the shelf and use them for once. But in my ongoing struggle to be cheaper than is socially acceptable, I scrounged around the music and sound shops for equipment that would utilize these mikes. I was constantly confronted by salesmen who, in the efforts to socialise me into the range of acceptability for spending  money, tried to sell me another pair of mikes that would work with the preamps and mixers they had.

Well, admittedly, $150 for a mixer and preamp is cheap compared to what used to be the case years ago. In fact, I have written before about a Behringer mixer that sells for under $50.00. And I’ve seen them and realise now that they don’t work with my relatively antiquated equipment. But because I am more of a cheapskate than is socially acceptable, I see that as their problem, not my problem. The XLR mikes in most of these places would set me back another $30 or so, not counting other needed equipment should I go that route.

The recording below is from my cheap setup, with audacity as the recording software. The sound is compromised as I am sitting right next to the air conditioner (the window is next to my desk), which is turned on. We are in the middle of a heat wave, and things are getting desparate, heat-wise.

(The audio appears to have been deleted.)

Crappy Album Covers #147 — Blunders by Major Acts

Album_Cover_Crap_263_gigwise_com People old enough to remember Abbey Road when it came out engaged in speculation as to why Paul crossed the road barefoot for the album cover.So, I would like to continue the pointless speculation, and begin the discussion as to why Hillel Slovak (1962-1988) refuses to wear a hat. 

However, it’s nice to know that the two guys in the middle like to share their socks among all four members and go barefoot for the good of the band.

Album_Cover_Crap_257_deskgratis_blogspot_com I think they mean “Scandanavian”. Either that or they were playing in “Sockholm”.A CD was released in 1988, but the subtitle “Live In Stockholm” was not added until a 2005 re-release, upon finding the master tapes.In fact, I would speculate that this cover was from 2005, since there is clear evidence of Photoshop at work. The light is coming from the wrong side, and is black and white (seepia, actually), while the light above the mike seems to have arisen from a lens flare effect in Photoshop. Photoshop wasn’t around in 1988. 

The originating concert was broadcast in 1970 for Swedish National Radio.

Crappy Album Covers #146 — MS Paint Massacre

Album_Cover_Crap_253_blogspot_com Well, no, this wasn’t MS Paint. You can tell that a toddler was set loose on a piece of blank ruled paper with markers.Wikipedia makes no mention of whose toddler it was that did this, but does say that this 2004 album was critically well-received, and debuted at #7 in the US.The Cure’s 12th album has been inflicted on over 2 million fans worldwide.
Album_Cover_Crap_251_blogspot_com Frank Black’s “The Cult of Ray”, was recorded in 1996, three years after The Pixies broke up. But this record is not mentioned on the Frank Black website. It is mentioned on the Black Francis website. Why there are two websites referring to the same person, I’ll never know.Frank Black, who also goes by a third monacre, “Black Francis Black” — frig it, let’s keep it simple and call him Charles Thompson. Chuck, you see, released this third album to negative reviews, and had gone on releasing many more albums garnering only but a shadow of his former glory under The Pixies.

In fact, that was the state of affairs by the time this album came out. They were punishing him for overuse of the cut-and-paste tool on MS-Paint.

Allmusic.com has it that The Pixies have reunited as of 2003 and have started touring again. I don’t know of any new albums by them except for “best of” compilations released by 4AD. Chuck’s “Frank Black” website, however, has a list of tour dates.

Crappy Album Covers #145 — Cartoony Covers

Album_Cover_Crap_259_badalbumart_blogspot_com Milton Babbitt looks like he is trying to out-do Stephen Hawking for the tackiest cover. At least Hawking might have an excuse; but Babbitt here is trying to make this poster look avant-garde. 

So here he is, like your most imposing physics teacher, making music about ends being a new beginning, and manifolds. As if there were not enough ended beginnings, he also plays “Swan Song #1” (as if there will be a #2…?).

Allmusic says that he is a leading avant-garde classical performer who taught both music and mathematics at Princeton, and taught music at Julliard. He was a leading music theorist, but you look at this and think that this 2001 CD just contains self-indulgent tomfoolery.

The 50-minute CD appears to be selling for $48 on Amazon.

Album_Cover_Crap_235_-_bizarrerecords_com Uhh, … Hi, yourself….This 1979 album appears to have been Barraclough’s last LP, and she had disappeared amid rumors of connections to Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan. Some fans revere her as quite a talent, but you wouldn’t know it with that cartoony “Hi” on this album cover.This link to You Tube shows her potential talent.

Crappy Album Covers #142 — Diving for Crabs

Album_Cover_Crap_246_sebadohBy the time this record came out, Nirvana already took the idea of totally immersing the kid in water, so I guess they had to settle for this. Neverhteless, I hear that the Children’s Aid Society is looking for the guy who took this photo and allowed the infant depicted in this photo to play with the toilet water.

I have it on some authority that Sebadoh’s album doesn’t suck as much as the cover suggests. In fact, this 1996 album is considered their finest, and it put them at the forefront of the indie rock scene back then, helping to pioneer the so-called “lo-fi” buy cheap tramadol music genre.

Album_Cover_Crap_204_amright_comWat Tyler’s (circa) 1999 recording “The Fat of The Band” is actually a parody of Prodigy’s “The Fat of the Land”.

Tyler has a few humorous songs on this LP, but they have not garnered good reviews. A New Music Express reviewer said of this recording “If this is punk rock, my name is Rick Wakeman”. I could only guess that his name already wasn’t Rick Wakeman, since the article is uncredited.

And just to show you the difference, here is Prodigy’s 1997 million-seller (2 million, actually)  “Fat of the Land”, released on Warner and peaking at #1 on Billboard for 1 week.:

Album_Cover_Crap_273_amright_com

Crappy Album Covers #141 — Food On Vinyl VIII

Album_Cover_Crap_264_gigwise_comOK… I said that Jabberwocky was going to be the last Herb Alpert parody, didn’t I? Well, it seems as though poor Alpert must have a red-and-white target painted on his back, since even the Washington Symphonic Brass is now into it for this 2007 rendition of Carmina Burana.

Many famous musicians such as  Bizet, Puccini, Berlioz and Karl Orff have composed pieces for this collection of medieval Bavarian poems, written in Latin. It is thought by some to be the most famous operatic work after Handel’s Messiah.

This monk seems to have the easy job of drinking beer and dipping his pastry into himself before he eats it. That’s probably why he’s smiling.

Album_Cover_Crap_243_-_bizarrerecords_comI keep saying that I am a newbie with respect to all things classical. So, thus, the use of pan-fried bacon and eggs as the choice of a cover photograph for the “Best of Brahms” is a mystery to me.

Was there ever a “Brahm’s Breakfast Concerto”? Or a “Brahm’s Bacon Bolero”? Or, “Eggs over Easy in E-Flat?”

Whatever it is, I found out through my trusty reasearch that Johannes Brahms has been hawking breakfast cereal. I’ve seen it on You Tube, so therefore it must be true! Just look:

Crappy Album Covers #140 — Bad Hair III

Album_Cover_Crap_207_bad_hair_-_wikipedia_org Enough with bad hair on women, Guys are equally capable of falling out of the wrong side of the bed and combing their hair with a mixmaster. 

Many may like the music inside this 1998 double CD by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but clearly, their hair is wearing them, not the other way around.

The album was recorded over two separate years, all but 5 tracks were done in 1967 and the rest in 1969.

Album_Cover_Crap_230_-_chris_lee-cool-rock_pitchfork_com Chris Lee clearly has a case of bed-head. Photo was likely cut off at the top to hide the “cow-lick”. 

This 2003 album “Cool Rock” has been mildly recieved by reviewers, and has not charted, that I am aware of.

Crappy Album Covers #136 — Food on Vinyl V

Album_Cover_Crap_224_-_amright_com While I can’t say whether the alternative group Soul Asylum qualifies as Aplert “wannabees” exactly, having bassist Karl Mueller sit half-naked in a mountain of clam dip and other unintelligible seafood was actually something that made Alpert very un-amused. And since he is the owner of A&M Records, who in turn own Twin Tone (where Soul Asylum was signed under), this 1989 album was something that almost marked the beginning of the end of the group. 

This album is still in print (according to Wikipedia) under Rykodisk.

Album_Cover_Crap_226_-_amright_com Is it a parody of Alpert’s record? *Is* it? 

Take a good look at the woman’s “dress”: yes, kiddies, it is made of bubblegum. This is “Right to Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited”. Features groups with quasi-familiar names (at least to me) like “The Mitch Easter Sound!”, “Jim Laspesia With Michael Quercio”, “The Rubinoos”. This website has verified that this 2002 album does not suck. It’s currently selling on many websites for around $15.

Crappy Album Covers #135 — Food on Vinyl IV

Album_Cover_Crap_221_-_ebay_com Yes, Herb Alpert was at it again, back in 2006, when this CD got released. Re-Whipped appears to have some of the same standards on there, with some new stuff thrown in.

In this age of “Hoochie Mamas” and Paris Hilton getting laid in front of the whole Internet, the whipped cream idea doesn’t have the same impact it used to have.

Having discovered many of these covers, I now have a plethora of Herb Alpert wannabees which have now engendered an extension to my “Food On Vinyl” subseries over the next few days.

Album_Cover_Crap_223_-_amright_com At least Peter Nero isn’t flogging food but he certainly is a Herb Alpert wannabe, having stolen his typeface design for his own album. This was released in 1967, about the same year as Alpert’s “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”.

Having won two Grammies, and having many honorary degrees, you would think that he wouldn’t need to play a “salute” to anyone.

Nero has been playing Jazz and Pop music since 1958. He still conducts and plays piano for the Philly Pops.

Crappy Album Covers #100 — Monsters!

album-cover-crap-55_thriftstoreart_com Barry Louis Polisar is another one of many CAC makers that appear to have one solution or another to deal with rebellious children. And you know, it is something that no parent I know has ever thought about: Threaten to eat them! 

Eating children has been advocated throughout history as the remedy to one social ill or another. If you recall, Jonathan Swift, when he was still a newspaper editor in Ireland sometime in the late 1600s, wrote A Modest Proposal, which advocated the consumption of children for food. But only the poverty-stricken children, so that it would put an end to the problem of poverty-stricken children in Ireland. It was a clever idea, but sadly however, the urgings of newspaper editorials rarely make it into the cornerstone of Irish public policy (or policy elsewhere, so I hear).

It is nice to know that Polisar is willing to take Swift seriously and put himself on the line for the greater good. Of course, the difference is, Swift was only joking to make a point about poverty.

album_cover_crap_163_showandtelmusic_com Let Ron “The Terminator” Curtis show you the Sounds Of Love, as soon as you tell him where you’ve hidden Sarah Connor. 

Does Ron look like he’s in a loving mood? Would you trust him to show you what love sounds like? Is that an Uzi he has in his pocket or is he happy to see you? You can’t tell with these cyborgs. Just stay clear, is all I can say.

Crappy Album Covers #99 — Creepy Sexuality

album-cover-crap-60_playmates This is the 1958 record which started their short career in singing, being the first of four albums for the American novelty act The Playmates. The single “Beep Beep” lasted 12 weeks on Billboard, peaking at #4. The lyrics mention a Cadillac and AMC’s Nash Rambler, which caused sales of the Rambler to skyrocket. 

When the single crossed the Atlantic, the Brits had laws against product placement in the lyrics, so the British single had no mention of specific brand names in the single.

The playmates broke up in 1964.

album-cover-crap-78_lpcoverlover_com I am not sure who recorded this or what label it was on, but, hey, does it matter? The title tells us right away that this is not a singing record. 

To make picking up girls easy, life experience tells me you need to have a lot of money, job security, and looks come second. Actually, this has been proven to be true cross-culturally, and is believed to be a survival tactic of our species that choices of mates take place in this manner.

But this album came out before we knew any of that, more than likely. And someone likely made a mint off of people’s ignorance.

Crappy Album Covers #98 — Still More Belly Dancing

album_cover_crap_119_-_belly_4 One idea I haven’t yet explored is a blog of belly dancer favourites; a kind of “belly dancer top 40”. I don’t know if it will catch on, though.When you buy a record, its about the music. But if a guy says that he likes belly dancing, it probably is not about the music.

However, this record could be about what the belly dancers like. They may like music that has little to do with belly dancing. This could get interesting …

album_cover_crap_118_-_belly_3 Artie Barsamian currently leads the Boston Big Band and Swingtet. Barsamian is an afficionado of the Big Band sound in the tradition of Benny Goodman, and has been following that tradition for over 50 years.Very little info appears on the album “The Seventh Veil”.

Rube-Goldberg Machines V

Another one. A couple of years ago, this was a Honda Accord commercial, and it caused quite a sensation when it got released. It took over 606 takes and cost over 6 million dollars to make. Any minor misfirings resulted in having to set everything up from scratch, all over again. It was a 2-minute ad spot which was released in the UK in 2006.

Binary adding machine using marbles

My marble adding machine in action. More at http://woodgears.ca/marbleadd

What impressed me is not just the fact that it looks like it could be used as 1) a great woodworking project, and 2) a great computer science tool in grade 10.

There is another video that explains the mechanics behind this adding machine a little better: