Friday, December 28, 2012

Evidence that you shouldn't get music recommendations from sound therpists

Study Determines This Is the Most Relaxing Song* Ever

Because music is an art, not a science, and perception of it is entirely subjective.

There are five pieces here that I would consider "relaxing":  1, 2, 3, 4 and 10.  The Coldplay song is nice, mellow pop but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's "relaxing."  I like the All Saints song but it is far too peppy to be anywhere close to "relaxing."  As for Barcelona and Adele?  They're crazy.  These songs are too emotionally fraught to be able to relax anyone, although I suppose the Adele song might relax a creepy stalker.  And finally, whoever put that Mozart piece on there must be utterly insane.  That thing sounds like someone scratching their fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

The most sleep-inducing album I have personally owned was The Caution Horses by Cowboy Junkies.  That's not a slam against it, because I think it's a good album.  I just never could listen to the whole thing without nodding off.  But then I also used to go to sleep listening to Deep Purple, so what do I know.

I probably have a couple hundred pieces--at least--on my hard drive that could blow most of this list out of the water.  Here's one that immediately came to mind.  I've had this piece on my "chill" playlist for years, and before that on a homemade mixtape that I often played late at night to relax after coming home from working in that pizza restaurant.**

*Wrong word.  In order to be a song, it must have words.  Many of these are instrumentals.

**A couple of weeks ago, I dreamed yet again that I was back working there.  Brer will know what I mean.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas song a day

Every day since December 1, I've been posting one per day on Facebook of what I call non-traditional pop Christmas songs.  Why?  Well, I don't play any of those stupid FB games, I don't follow astrology, and I don't do any of the other dumb things most FBers do  (sometimes I think Facebook is the last refuge for people who were too stupid to make it at AOL).

Anyway that makes 21 songs so far, and of course there are still a few days left before the season officially ends, so I'll update this later.  I'm not going to embed all these songs here because posts with several videos really bog down my old computer, but here are the links and you can click over if you're interested.

A few of these songs are taken from traditional Christmas songs, but they are significantly different from the usual boring, rote regurgitations of these songs.  So here they are in the order I posted them.  All YouTube links except where noted.

Over The Rhine - All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue

Rosie Thomas - Christmas Don't Be Late

Joni Mitchell - River

Torero Band - Silent Night

The Pretenders - 2000 Miles  (NOTE:  the original link I used is giving me a "blocked in your country" notice now for some reason, but it was here)

Wayfarer - The Holly & The Ivy

Vince Guaraldi Trio - O Christmas Tree

Twisted Sister - I'll Be Home for Christmas

Cocteau Twins - Frosty the Snowman

Ronnie Fauss - Everybody Deserves a Merry Christmas (soundcloud link)

Ralph Stanley - I'm Going Home, It's Christmas Time

Bunch Of Believers - Room in Your Heart

The Pogues (feat. Kirsty MacColl) - Fairytale of New York

Dustin Kensrue - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Phineas & Ferb) - I Really Don't Hate Christmas

Caravan Of Thieves - I Don't Want Anything for Christmas

Rachel Platten - You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Heaven & Hell (Ronnie James Dio) - God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen

Brave Combo - Must Be Santa

Meiko - Maybe Next Year

Matt Wertz - Snow Globe

Bob Walkenhorst - Christmas in Nashville

Hayes Carll - Grateful for Christmas

Dan Fogelberg - Same Auld Lang Syne

Robert Earl Keen - Merry Christmas from the Family

Kate Miller-Heidke - The Day After Christmas

So there they are.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Long file name problem with mp3 downloads

This is one of those rare posts in which I am relating some information that may be helpful because it caused me such a headache.

Recently I have downloaded some of's free mp3 albums that caused problems because either the directory or some of the filenames were too long for WinXP.  I was unable to play them, modify them, or even delete them.

The first was a London Symphony Orchestra version of Tommy (the rock opera by The Who).  This one is no longer available as an mp3 download--it was deleted almost as soon as I had finished downloading it--but you can see which album I'm talking about from this CD link.  In this case, the directory name was too long as written by Amazon Downloader and I couldn't open it, rename it, or delete it.  It appeared to delete, but actually it was only moved to the recycle bin and could not be permanently deleted from it.  Eventually I discovered that I could move it to my root directory and from there was able to permanently delete it.  I came across this solution by sifting through several Google hits on the topic.  Of course this means that this particular album is now lost to me, but hey, at least it was free.

Today I had two more problems with A Collection of the Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe and Beethoven Big Box.

Apparently someone at Amazon thinks the full information for all these various movements should create the filename, and often this is too much.  There were three tracks with filenames that were too long for Windows in the "Relaxing" collection.  I was able to fix these by opening the command prompt, viewing the 8.3 filenames by using the "dir /x" command and then copy them to a shorter filename with the old "copy" command.  From there I went back to Windows and renamed them to something descriptive enough but also short enough.  Of course, the full tagging information remained intact.

But when I tried this solution with the four tracks that had too-long filenames in the Beethoven collection, it crashed the command window and failed to copy the files.  So, after much more Googling, I came across this little (free) tool right here:  cutlongnames.  This tool truncated the names so that I could use the files.  So there you go. The only extra information I would add is that cutlongnames is not default-configured for mp3s, so you need to add the extension "*.mp3" to the configuration, and don't forget that the extensions on the list are separated by a semicolon.

I hope this helps someone eventually.  And you're welcome!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Julian Koster - Jingle Bells

Here is one that I did not post on FB. I present it as a special gift to you, my loyal readers. Enjoy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's not the Mayan Apocalypse

But it is my 9th blogiversary.  It's also Yule.  And so to celebrate, here's Fferyllt with "Yule."

That woman's voice still makes chills run up my spine, and I mean that in a good way.  Here is an English translation of the lyrics that I found at Spirit of Metal.

Strong oars crash to the waves,
Northern wind carries the ships,
Toward their home row grey-haired warriors,
Leaving strange lands far behind.

Grasping flock of ravens were circling
Under coverlet of night clouds,
Sleeping shore was covered, like with black wing,
With the shadows of the horrifying dragonheads.

Like a whirlwind we rode under crimson moon,
We didn't count slain enemies.
By our force we have taken the riches and glory
Of turned into dust strange shores!

In scabbards rests now icy steel,
Sky has changed its crimson color.
Passed out of sight flocks of black ravens,
The holds are crammed with wines and coins.

Winter sun shines through the clouds,
Throws its ray on snow-covered fjord,
Icy strong wind rips the sails
It brings our drakkars to the homeward shore.

Bound up wives with sons will meet us,
Troll will hide in mountain ravine,
With tongues of winter piles, reaching out to the sky,
The fest of Yule begins now!

Again fill be filled our bowls,
Foreign wines flow, like a river.
Drunkenness again will overcome our heads.
Gloomy singer, sing your song for us!

And through the centuries Scald's strings will sing
Songs of our bold victories.
But the Gods carve again the Runes of War for us,
Their Spirit in us will never cease!

Again the sunset is colored with crimson blood,
Again we will leave our home for long.
The world will be shaken with our power,
Again we go to march for glory!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And a horde of faceless cultists

I know I've posted a photo of this thing before, but I just had to say that every time I walk by here, Geronimo looks a little more perplexed, and Hecate looks a little more Gorgo Mormo-ish.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This was interesting to me

12 Letters That Didn't Make the Alphabet.

When I was a kid in school and had to take extensive lecture notes from one of the worst teachers I ever had--our 7th grade Texas history teacher--I made up right out of my head symbols pretty much identical to "that" and "eng" so I could (in theory) write notes faster.

I also used a numeral "2" with a slash through it for "to" or "too."

He wasn't one of the worst teachers I ever had just because I had to take lecture notes all year long.  He was one of the worst because he was ignorant and knew nothing about Texas history--getting all his information from some book he had taken from the high school library.  The first time I corrected one of his mistakes, he gave me extra points.  The second time he only grunted acknowledgement.  The third time he told me, "Shut up, Peschke."  After that I never spoke to him again.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twice in one day

When I came across the first of these today, I made a screen cap of it and then thought, "is it really worth bothering to make a blog post about this?"  But before I got around to deleting the file, it happened again.  The first is from the Noisetrade website about an artist whose Christmas album I just downloaded.  Quite nice, too.

The second one, below, is from a humorous article at Mental Floss about outdated references in Golden Girls.

Now, we may discount these as mere typographical errors.  However, I have upon numerous occasions heard this same error spoken.  I have no idea if the caterer character actually said that or if it was an error on the part of the Mental Floss writer, but please, is it really so hard to understand the difference between "climatic" and "climactic?"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An almost-close call today

Today I was working that cycle 11 route which I have probably mentioned before as the worst foot route I have ever done, and which is my regular 11 so I do it almost every month (in the area of Harry Wurzbach and Rittiman).  Right now it isn't quite so bad, because we haven't had much rain in a while and it's the right time of year for all the overgrowth to be dying off anyway.  Plus, the cool weather today made it not too bad at all.  Oh yeah, I should mention this is an almost all-alley route.

I've seen all the many backyard dogs on this route many times, and know ahead of time where the really bad dogs are.  I got to one yard which holds two dogs:  an older one of undetermined breed which simply walks around quietly and watches me, and the other an extremely active and outgoing young boxer.

I've encountered hundreds of dogs and have developed the talent of being able to read a dog's hostility potential almost immediately, but sometimes I have found boxers are hard to read.  I have also noticed that many boxers do not bark until they are right on top of you.  I make it an iron-clad rule never to reach through or over a fence to pet any dog, because no matter how friendly a dog seems, it's just not worth the risk.  One wrong move and I could end up spending all day waiting to see a doctor at the company clinic, possibly being put on light duty until the injury heals, and maybe even having to suffer through rabies shots.

So I got to this one yard, and as usual, the boxer greeted me by jumping and running around, but he never barked. I said a few things to him, the usual things you might say to a friendly-seeming dog, but of course I did not reach over the fence to pet him.

I went on my way, and two or three houses farther along, I came to a new meter that had not yet been "reset" in the system, which means my handheld still had the information for the old meter in it.  When this happens, I have to reset it myself, which means I have to get the new meter's serial number and enter it.  So I had to kneel down and brush some dirt off to get a good look and make sure I was reading the serial number correctly.  It was when I was down on my knees trying to read the meter number that I suddenly felt two soft things shove into my back.

So in the space of about 1/100 of a second, I thought:  ohcrapsomeoneisbehindmewaitthosearen'thandshthey'repawsohf***thisiswherei'mgoingtodie!!!!!

And then I spun around to see this:

Friendly Boxer at the Dog Park
not the actual dog in question, but very similar

The friendly boxer from two houses back had jumped the fence and run up behind me, demanding attention.  He never barked the whole time.

So for the next several seconds I was a confused confusion of feeling relief, still shaking from the adrenaline surge, and trying to fend off a dog who was trying to lick me to death.

He followed me around for about 20 minutes.  There is a part of this route where there's a string of about 20 meters that are in front yards, and in that stretch there's this one little rat-dog always running loose that tries to nip my ankles.  Today, he just stayed in his own front yard because the boxer stood in the street staring at him.  I guess the rat-dog wasn't going to take any chances on braving a dog that technically could have snapped him in two with one bite.  So that was a plus.  Eventually the boxer got bored with following me around and I guess he went back home.

I greatly prefer dogs that bark.  That way I can tell where they are.  But if a dog isn't going to bark, I would rather it be like this boxer.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"The Shadow Out of Time" short video

A low-tech and I think sometimes unintentionally humorous but still good short video of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time."

Every time I saw one of those flying polyps jetting around it just cracked me up.  Watch and maybe you'll see what I saw.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Just discovered this relatively new webcomic called Broodhollow.  A comic of "cosmic horror" with some bleak humor.  It's new enough that you can start at the beginning and catch up in just a few minutes.  So far there is nothing overtly Lovecraftian about it (which is a plus, in my opinion), but I can see the influences are there.  I just added it to my newsreader subscriptions.  So check it out if it sounds interesting to you.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Christmas songs from childhood

This is probably something that most people won't want to listen to, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.

This is a song I selected more or less at random.  It's from an album called Santa Claus is Coming to Town by a cheesy-sounding group called The Caroleers.  When I was a kid, someone gave this to us kids (my two sisters and I).  I don't remember it being a gift specific to any one of us.  I will conjecture that it came from one of our aunts or uncles.  Back then, we would all gather at my paternal grandparents' house for an early Christmas celebration; usually the Saturday before the actual holiday or sometime thereabouts.  So that first year we got it, we listened to the **** out of it in the days until Christmas actually arrived.

The next year, we did it again, except this time we had even more time to listen to it, beginning with the start of school break.

The next year, we did it again.

Etc., etc.

It must have driven my grandmother crazy.  (My maternal grandmother was our baby-sitter back then).

One strange thing is that I don't remember this being on an LP.  The thing given to us was a boxed set of 7-inch records, although I don't think they were singles.  I think they had two songs per side.  Now, I had gone looking for this stuff in the past.  The problem was, I couldn't remember who the group was, but I could remember the names of two songs:  "Who's That Up On the Roof?" and "Icicles, Holly, Red Berries and Snow."  The latter of those was my favorite from the whole collection, possibly because we never had any of those things at Christmastime or any other time--unless you counted unripened wild dew berries in the summer time.  The former of those two is a song that, I think, could absolutely drive some people nuts if they heard too much--one time probably being too much for some.  I remember being annoyed by it when I was a kid, but now I like it.  Although, I still acknowledge its potential for being incredibly annoying.

Well, this year I went looking for it again and this time discovered that the whole album has uploaded to YouTube by more than one person.  Furthermore, on December 1 of last year it was released as an mp3 download at Amazon.

I was listening to a podcast recently about memory, and one of the researchers they spoke with told how the more often you remember something, the less accurate your memory becomes, and you remember things more accurately if you recall it less.  This seems right to me, because I had remembered the "Icicles" song as being much slower and more atmospheric.  When I was a kid, and even later growing up, I would often replay this song in my head from memory as I was falling asleep during the Christmas season.  To digress a little:  I don't know how many people do this, or even how many can do it.  But I've always had a very good musical memory and often use it to help myself fall asleep by replaying a soothing piece of music in my mind to help me relax.*

Anyhow, on the off chance that this music was also a part of your childhood at Christmastime, you can listen to the whole thing on YouTube.  Here's a playlist.  And yes, I've already listened to the whole thing.  More than once.

*There was another song that I often put myself to sleep with by mentally "listening" to it.  It was a song about rain, and was something they played on Captain Kangaroo with a video showing various rainy scenes.  I'm still looking for it.  The only words I still remember went something like, "It's raining/Morning to night it's the same thing/Falling on my window pane."