Category Archives: Music

Headphone Quest

I’m on a mission from God.

I need some good headphones or earbuds.

Years ago Sony made a really, REALLY good set that I just loved. This was before Bluetooth really worked well so they were corded, but that was fine. They had the BEST little hooks to go over my ears, they wouldn’t fall out or jiggle loose if I was running or exercising, they were comfortable, and they had great sound.

Of course, Sony stopped making them. No doubt just to spite me and piss me off. Well played, Sony…

I still have a pair, but they don’t work with my current iPhone since Apple in their utterly finite wisdom decided to get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 8.

Since I upgraded to the iPhone 8 a couple years ago it’s been one thing after the other, none of which is particularly satisfying.

The corded funky-shaped fancy ones that come with the iPhone give the best sound – but they don’t stay in very well.

I’ve got people at the office who sing the praises of the Apple Bluetooth ear buds, which are basically the same as the corded funky-shaped fancy ones but without the cord. They don’t stay in very well and then when they fall out they’re lost (and expensive to replace) because they’re not on a cord. Bounce, bounce, bounce, away they go, into traffic, into the gutter, into the bushes, into oblivion.

I researched ear buds for runners, corded and cordless, and got a pair of the best reviewed set.  The best thing about them is that they’re at least are connected together by a cord that hangs on the back of your neck. I’m not sure who reviewed them and said they were the best, but I have some strong disagreements on their assessment. They’re fine (mostly) if I’m sitting at my desk, but even walking around the house has them falling out.

So, falling out’s a problem! #1 on the hit parade when it comes to being useless. Screw that design!

I went on Amazon a couple of weeks ago and found a couple of different “cheap” (i.e., less than $30) corded “over the ear” ear bud sets. They stay on better than the ones without the “over the ear” plastic bits, but they’re nowhere near as good as the old, beloved Sonys. And while they stay on my ears, they’re not very good at staying IN my ears. They’re constantly creeping loose and wiggling out, so that while I can still hear the music, it’s tinny and a lot of outside sound gets in.

They’re better, but only because the bar wasn’t very stinking high.

Looking online it seems that possibly the best bet is to go to a full set of headphones rather than ear buds. I was sticking with ear buds because I want to run and exercise with them and I’m assuming that it’s awkward to do that with a full set of Beats (or whatever) on and that they would be heavy. But maybe that’s an assumption to be tested.

Of course, if I get a nice pair of wireless Beats (or whatever) and the sound is great and they’re lightweight for running and all of those wonderful things, then they probably cost $300 or more. And they may or may not be waterproof or water resistant, which is an issue since I tend to sweat when running long distances and sometimes do it in inclement weather.

Which, to be clear, at this point, I would pay if I could just solve the damn problem. I just don’t want to spend it and then find out that I simply have yet another set that are so-so at best and tend not to get used because they piss me off.

Any suggestions? Does anyone have anything that they’ve found wonderful for running and exercising that gives good sound but also is light and comfortable?

Alternately, if anyone sees that photo and says, “Oh, those are Sony XYZ87’s – I’ve got a whole box of them here we’re trying to get rid of, do you want four dozen pairs or five,” please let me know. I’ll worship at your feet.

As soon as I figure out how to plug the things into my iPhone 8. Or downgrade back to an iPhone 6.

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Filed under Music, Running

Music For “Breaking Strain Redeux”

Last night I waxed poetic about a favorite Kipling poem.

I realized after I posted that I’ve never pointed out that it’s been done very well as a song as well, by the legendary Leslie Fish.

And having implored you to “stand up and build anew,” how could I not also pass on this treasure from Stan Rogers?

Because the second most important lesson to be learned is that it’s not just one time that we have to get up, pull ourselves together, put our failures and defeats behind us, and try again.

While we can hope it’s not EVERY day, in times like these it might be a whole lot of days.

Do it anyway, if for no other reason than to piss off those evil bastards.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Music

Yes

A couple of possibly-not-so-disparate thoughts merge:

First, I’ve mentioned many times the healing ability of the right music at the right time. When it’s been yet another shit day in a long string of shit days and there’s no realistic possibility of an escape to a pillow fort, there’s a lot to be said for the right music to take you out of the doldrums, exhaustion, and self-loathing.

But how do you find the “right” music when you’re so down in the dumps that even your “favorites” playlist just sounds like the same garbage that you always listen to and that’s not going to cut it?

Secondly, I’ve mentioned before the scene in “The Princess Bride” when Inigo Montoya prays to his dead father for guidance after the trail has gone cold in his search for the six-fingered man. Inigo closes his eyes, raises his sword, and staggers around like he’s dousing for water, only to impale the sword in a tree. As he collapses in defeat he hits the hidden switch on the tree that opens the secret door that leads to the stairway that goes down to the dungeon which leads him…

Sometimes you just have to have some faith. It may be the subconscious, it might be fate, it might be a freakin’ guardian angel for all I care.

(On a tangential side note, it suddenly occurs to me that if I’ve actually, really, honest to god **GOT** a guardian angel [for the record, I’m a card carrying atheist for the past 50+ years, or a “recovering Catholic” if you will after doing the whole Catholic school, altar boy thing] he/she must really be getting a workout. I might almost feel sorry for them – if they existed. Which they don’t. So I don’t.)

Anyway… (Sorry, I’m in the final stages of fighting a cold for the past five or six days and between that and the office and the hangar and *LIFE* I’m sort of scattered.)

Music. We were talking about music. And faith.

I went on a search through my monstrously huge digital music collection. I might have prayed to Inigo Montoya.

And I landed on two albums from 1972 by Yes – “Close to the Edge” and “Fragile.”

Perfect!!

And apparently somewhere along the line I got a CD of “Close to the Edge” that has extra tracks – which I don’t remember ever actually listening to. There’s a version of Paul Simon’s “America” in there which is just amazing. That’s a favorite song to begin with, but this version is so different and yet still has the soul of the favorite. (Wikipedia tells me that it was released as a single by Yes – why didn’t anyone tell me??!!)

“Close to the Edge”

“Siberian Khatru”

“Roundabout”

“South Side of the Sky”

Oh, my god, “Heart of the Sunrise!!!!!”

All those things that had me pissed off and down? *NONE* of them went away. There all still there. I’ve been working on a few of them all night. They’re not all going to get resolved tonight, this week, this month, or this year. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You know that bumper-sticker wisdom about how you can’t change things but you can change the way you react to them?

Yeah, this is that.

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Filed under Music, Paul

Pantages

Tonight we returned to the room where it happened – to see a different play.

The Pantages Theater in Los Angeles was, as always, spectacular.

It’s a 1920’s design so the bathrooms sort of suck, but you learn to live with that.

Can you say, “Ro – co – co?”

Sure. I knew you could.

The play, “Waitress,” had a cast with great voices, some great staging and choreography, and one part in particular that was way, Way, WAYYY over the top and hilarious.

Hollywood Boulevard on a Sunday afternoon with all of the tourists and buskers and hustlers and people in costume – it’s our little version of Times Square. Complete with that certain smell (stale urine) which out here is cut with that other (now legal) certain smell (pot).

I love LA!

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Music, Photography

That Feeling When – May 19th

That feeling when all you want to do is get some sleep, a lot of sleep, get caught up on sleep without being woken up by stress dreams or fever dreams or a full bladder or leg cramps (most of all by leg cramps!) and when you wake up you want it to all be better so that tomorrow (as being defined as “what happens when I wake up”) is missing all of the really shitty things from today but keeps all of the really good ones.

Not sure you can get there from here.

The only way out is through. Sleep deprived or not.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Music, Paul

News, Via Paul Simon

It appears that we will not be:

Instead, we’ll be sort of:

It’s good news on the home front.

While the rest of the world might be starting to burn. As I thought it might.

Perhaps tomorrow will be more even keeled.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Music

That Feeling When – May 07th

That feeling when it seems you’ve been beaten heavily about the head and shoulders for weeks and except for being in ICU or prison or the morgue it’s not clear what else can go wrong or add more stress and you’re about to give in and go with “barely good enough” because it’s all that’s available and even that’s iffy but it’s all you’ve got left and “Plan D” is a HUGE freakin’ leap that’s sort of a last resort but at least you have that option when all of a sudden with no warning there’s an opportunity that’s like a bolt of lightning and while you really don’t dare to hope because you’ve gotten your spirits crushed repeatedly you want to hope and you need to hope and when things actually fall into place and this huge weight is being lifted you’re horrified to find that almost all you can think of is a nightmare “what if” scenario where all of this good stuff is just a trap that will temporarily put you on a pedestal so that the upcoming fall will be that much harder and you want to tell your brain to STFU but you can’t quite get past that as fast as things got better for no damn good reason other than blind luck they can get horrible again just as fast.

“Adulting” is sucking it up and going ahead full speed with the good things, despite knowing that those bad things might still be lurking.

Did you see “Arrival” a couple years ago? The big reveal at the end left me a weeping puddle. This is why.

We go on, despite our fears. Maybe some day we’ll even be able to let go of some of the fear.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Music, Paul