Category Archives: Music

NC Headphones Vs The Laugh Track

If there’s a special place in Hell, I hope it’s reserved for whoever invented the TV sitcom laugh track. It’s specially designed to cut right through all of the background noise that might be around you as you watch, very subtle, almost unnoticeable, ever present.

Until you have it pointed out to you.

Until you’re listening to it from a TV down the hall and trying to think and you can hear none of the “jokes,” none of the dialog, just a mush that sounds a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher – except for the laugh track, slicing through reality like a prop from a horror movie (what was that spinning ball with the blades that popped out?) headed straight for your ears like a cruise missile.

And then, once you’re aware, sort of like Rowdy Roddy Piper in “They Live,” you’ll never watch a sitcom in peace again. Whether you’re out of bubble gum or not.

Consider this – have you EVER seen a movie with a laugh track? Think of movies you find hilarious. “Animal House” maybe. “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.” Is there any kind of laugh track to make sure you know which bits are supposed to be funny?

It’s a war now.

Then I discovered Noise Cancelling Headphones.

There just might be a God.

Not only do you get tunes, but the laugh track goes away. It’s blissful. If it’s a war, this is the nuclear option.

The good ones are not cheap, but they’re worth every penny. The Apple iPods are in the $100 range and work okay, if you can keep them in your ears. (I can’t.) The top of the line Bose headphones are about $550, but worth every cent.

Wearing them all night might not be the most comfortable thing when it’s warm and muggy, but take them off for a second, listen to the cackling demon chorus hooting at something that’s not very funny to begin with, and you’ll be surprised how fast you can put them back on and be perfectly happy with the choice.

Thank you for listening to my TED Talk!

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Sometimes The Lyrics Just Click

If you’ve listened to any country music in the past twenty years or so, you’ve heard Toby Keith’s “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This” a time or seventy-three. A cute enough love song, I guess, with a video that’s a bit on the creepy side for my tastes.

Anyway, today it came up on my playlist while my brain was busy doing some routine work and suddenly all of the words clicked. But it’s not love that Keith’s talking about!

“Something shot right through me, my heart skipped a beat in time…”

That’s not love, or even lust.

That’s a PVC, or Premature Ventricular Contraction. I’ve had them for years, even to the point of wearing a Holter monitor for a day to make sure they weren’t something more serious. Mostly harmless – unlike what the cougar in the video is going to do to that young stud muffin.

“I even think I saw a flash of light…”

Again – not passion, or a bolt of metaphysical, super psychic energy impacting your cranium from the great beyond.

Nope, that’s a PVD, Posterior Vitreous Detatchment. I had that about a year ago. Lots of floaters and spots and at night and in dark spaces I get flashes of light sometimes, especially when I blink. You get used to it. It can be serious and an indication of something much worse going on, but monitoring it with an exam every six months or so seems to be working fine.

So, much like the cold, harsh reality of the ending of the video, we see that the romantic, gushy, sappy love song is just a sign that we’re all getting old, falling apart, and soon to die. Probably painfully.

(I may be Captain Buzzkill now, but I’m bucking for Admiral Buzzkill!)


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Filed under Farce, Music

No Context For You – July 18th

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about music, both in the philosphopical sense and in the more practical sense.

Philosophically, I’m always surprised by folks to whom music is a take it or leave it proposition. Sure, they like having something on the radio in the car and they may go to a concert here or there, but, you know … whatever! Where for me it’s much more of a passion, a daily presence, something that I’ve got on or available or involved with hours and hours a day.

Practically, I still like my physical media. I know that the world is going to streaming services and content on demand and storing everything on the Cloud. And I’ll most certainly take advantage of those conduits, listening to Sirius satellite radio all the time, storing copies of my music online, listening to Pandora stations centered around favorite groups. But the foundation is always a closet full of CD’s and even records and cassettes. The Cloud can go offline, the streaming services can get into pissing contests with the artists, satellites can fail, even music (and video, and books, and everything else) that you’ve “bought” digitally can all get taken back without warning. They’ll only take my CD’s (and DVD’s and books and tapes and laserdiscs) when they show up with a warrant and/or an army.

Paranoid, much?

Have you read the freaking news recently?

Gotta have my music! And books!

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Focused Elsewhere

Yeah, that’s obvious. There’s a LOT going on right now. Home. Work. Life. The World.

Oh, yeah, all of that shit. I’m sure you all have the same to a greater or lesser extent.

In the fog of just trying to keep one’s head above water in the chaos, something or the other will sometimes trigger a meloncholy moment, a memory, often of someone gone or at least no longer in contact, and I’ll get into that “what if?” mindset. Occasionally there are regrets, but always of the sort where I regret NOT doing something, not regrets over something I did.

At the same time, if you look at the pictures and quick snippets here, you know that I encourage and value the tiny pleasures, the small moments, the subtle beauties all around us. The birds, lizards, flowers, clouds…

So meld those thoughts just a bit and I was wandering off on a whistful train of thoughts. To wit – if I could speak to my younger self in those moments when I had to decide whether or not to step out of my comfort zone, to take a risk, to “go for it,” what would I say? And more critically, when I make a moment to breathe now, pushing away the chaos and pressure for a few precious moments, instead of wishing things were different and just being frustrated with it all, what might my future self be wanting to tell me if he could reach back and talk to me now?

Can that message be heard if I listen closely enough? I wish I knew. Maybe it’s just not that easy.

I hope some of this makes sense, but I doubt it. It’s really late, I was up really, really late last night, and the rest of the week looks to be “exciting.”

Keep breathing, keep helping each other, keep on accepting help when it’s offered. We’ll make it through together.

For probably the dozenth time or more in the 9+ years of this blog…


Filed under Music, Paul

Reprise From Sting

One of my all time favorites from Sting, I do truly love this song:

And now he’s got a live version for the people of Ukraine. As he says, he hasn’t played this very much recently because he didn’t think that it would be relevant again.

Cry your way through either, or both.

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Filed under Moral Outrage, Music, Video

Revelations On A Long Friday

Question everything.

I just tonight realized that the version of the Bowie song “Ashes to Ashes” that I love is not actually by Davie Bowie. I had always thought that it was a live version or something, but always believed it was him. Nope, it’s a Tears For Fears cover.

Gobsmacked. It’s going to be a hell of a weekend.

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The Proverbial Room Where It Happens – Part Two

A couple years ago we saw “Hamilton” in Los Angeles at the legendary Pantages Theater. Then we had tickets to see it again last year, but there was that whole pandemic, quarantine thing

Now we’re all vaxxed and masked (to their credit, they seem to be very aggressive about enforcing that at the Pantages) and the touring cast is back, so it’s our turn to see it again.

The first time we saw it I knew of the hype and the awards and the hubbub – but I had not yet ever listened to the music or gotten caught up in the mania. I had doubts…

Then I saw it.

Oh!! My!! God!! (As they say.)

Now, having seen the Disney production of the live version a dozen or so times, not to mention having listened to the album AT LEAST 100-200 times (no BS, at least once a week for a couple of years), I’m anxious to see how different the viewing experience is this time.

Damn, forgot tissues! We’ll see how absorbent this sweater is, I guess.


Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Music

The Beatles

I have a confession to make, brought about by several Beatles songs popping up on my random playlist tonight.

I’m not a fan of The Beatles.

That might be sacrilege and cause some of you to flee in horror, fearing that any exposure to me or my thoughts might be contagious. No worries, via con Dios.

So while I have pretty much all of the standard Beatles catalogue in my music library (I’m a completist and have LOTS of music that I’ll never listen to but have it because there was one song I wanted on the album), there are only eight in my “Favorites” playlist.

  • Yesterday.
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Penny Lane
  • Lady Madonna
  • Hey Jude
  • The Ballad Of John & Yoko
  • Let It Be
  • The Long & Winding Road

Maybe it was a matter of timing. They were huge in the early and mid 60’s when I was still a pre-teen. I was also in a somewhat conservative family and didn’t discover rock & roll until we moved to the Chicago area in 1967. WLS! WCFL! Top 40 AM radio! I was more likely to be listening to Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel, Grand Funk Railroad, The Doors, or Steppenwolf.

Not much of a Rolling Stones fan either. Just one song, but how could I not have “Sympathy For The Devil” in there?

So sue me.

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As The Grateful Dead Said…

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”


Part of last night’s last minute primal scream was in fact caused directly the the fact that I deliberately set aside a number of tasks that really, really needed to be done no desperately I needed a short break so that I could, in fact, take a short break. The first episode of “Foundation” was streaming on Amazon+ (I enjoyed it, wasn’t absolutely 100% gobsmacked by it as I was hoping, but I’ll be watching more), followed by catching up on the last three or four episodes of “Ted Lasso” (a show that I have grown to truly love dearly).

Friday nights are going to be certifiably odd for the next two weeks as the two continue to get watched back-to-back. I’m not sure it matters which I watch first and which second.

Given the incredible latest episode of “Ted Lasso” I find it beyond sheer coincidence that this morning I heard a discussion about this breaking story out of England.

I love the bizarre, the whimsical, the just old fashioned odd, and I also love the Smiths and Morrisey. (Probably because their songs are bizarre, whimsical, and odd, no matter how old or how fashioned.)

But seriously – Rick Astley doing a tour where he just does covers of Smiths songs?

Well done, September 25th! Well done!!

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They Just Don’t Write Them Like THAT Anymore

I listen a LOT to Sirius/XM Channel 33, “1st Wave,” both online and in the car. It’s the 80’s “alternative” music – Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, Smiths, Police, Violent Femmes, Talking Heads, New Order, Oingo Boingo, Erasure, Ramonex, Fixx, Cult, B-52s, Billy Idol, and so on. While they have an extensive playlist, it’s not infinite. It’s hundreds of songs long, unlike some of the BPM channels that are literally a dozen or so songs long, but there are things I remember from that era which don’t get played regularly.

But there are a couple of shows that get a bit more eclectic, like the Friday night “Party 360” show with Dave Kendall. Which just played…

Indeed, they don’t write them like THAT anymore!

Now if I could get them to play some TonioK…

Does anyone but me remember “Life In The Foodchain”? Anyone? Bueller?

There was some really weird stuff back in the late 70’s, and I wasn’t even on drugs…

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