Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stuff in progress

Just for kicks, here's a bunch of records I currently have in progress.

The John Denver cover is smaller because I just snagged it from online. My own album has been defaced from someone writing her name & address all over it. The Eagles cover is smaller because I also snagged it from online. No point in going to any effort scanning a lame-ass cover like that. I see I need to do some fine cropping on the Petra cover. Most of these are in pretty good shape, except for Herb Alpert, John Denver and Petra. The Herb Alpert cover didn't turn out too well. I might do it over again.

It's been ages since I've listened to these Juice Newton and Emmylou Harris records.

Note to self: key phrase "stuff in progress."

Michelle Shocked - Short Sharp Shocked (1988, LP)

This is another one that I previously ripped from a duplicate tape. It was still in very good shape because I had played the record only twice, both times to record it to cassette, so this is only the third time the record has been played. Between those two cassettes, however, I've listened to this album many, many times.

That's an actual photo of her being strangled by a NYC (or was it an SF? I don't remember) cop who outweighed her by about 150 pounds during some protest or other back in her "skateboard punk rocker" days. You can read more about her bio online if you wish.

I first heard this album when I walked into Sundance Records in San Marcos one day (the old store on the square) and they were playing it in the store. It immediately struck as something I had to have, so I bought it that day and it has been one of my favorite albums ever since. This is the only one of hers that I bought on LP; the others I have are on CD. This was her first real studio album. There was one other before it, The Texas Campfire Tapes, which was recorded by a talent scout at the Kerrville Folk Life Festival and released totally as is (or as was), complete with crickets chirping and cars driving by in the background.

She isn't all that famous to the general public because her music is too country--and sometimes too folk--to played on rock stations but too rock to be played on country stations. This album is full of references to her childhood in east Texas. All the songs on it were written by her except for a cover of the country/folk standard "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore," which was written by Jean Ritchie and also covered by Johnny Cash.

Almost this whole album will go on my general favorites list. The modern CD release contains 2 discs, the first being the original album and the second bonus material.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dogs and songs

I got attacked by a loose dog again today. First time in a while that I thought I was seriously threatened. This time it was just some medium-sized yellow mutt.

Thing is, this time everything went just right and I connected with it so hard I actually knocked it down for a second. The hit felt different, too, like I hit something hard and I think I must have hit its jaw or some teeth. When it got back to its feet it ran away as fast as it could go. Who knew playing golf on the Wii would have such a side benefit? I really wish people would keep their dogs secured.

I remember times when this happened in the past, and I would be so hopped up on adrenalin that I would get the shakes when it started wearing off. This time, my heart didn't even beat faster and it was like nothing had happened. I don't know if that's good or bad.

I have been systematically working on creating an actual list of what I call "general favorites," which is quite long, long enough that I'm breaking it into smaller alphabetic lists. I just got finished with Deep Purple. These are not songs that give me that emotional gut-punch, only songs that I don't mind hearing again. Maybe I'll post these lists someday. I don't know if there would be any point to it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just proves what I said a long, long time ago...*

Somebody needs to kill that lunatic.**

*In meatspace.

**Except I didn't say "lunatic." I used two other words (one adjective and one compound noun) that were much less family-friendly yet conveyed essentially the same meaning.

My 2¢ movie review: Death Sentence

Death Sentence: This is the stupidest vigilante movie I have ever seen. It's so bad, I'm not going to waste any more of my time telling you why. Just take my word for it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

East Side pix

Sabra has a neat collection of photos of San Antonio's east side, some of which overlap with a route I do every month (just did it this past week, in fact).

Down toward the bottom there's a picture of a lot of boarded-up building fronts on Commerce St. That stretch has a brand new meter for no reason I have been able to discern. It's kind of a funny story.

When I first started doing this route, a couple of years ago, there was one meter that I couldn't find because it had a "driveway" location and there are no driveways here. Also, none of these old buildings have address numbers on them, so I couldn't be positive of exactly where the meter was supposed to approximately be.

There was, however, one meter box with an old meter in it. Unfortunately, it's number didn't match the meter I was looking for. I called in for what's called "tap measurements," which are supposed to describe to us exactly where the meter was tapped. Unfortunately, the tap measurements put it around the corner, which should have had a "side" location or possibly "side near corner" or something like that. I did find a meter box where the measurements said there was supposed to be a meter, but it was empty.

I called in and told my supervisor all about it, and he told me to "53-oh-1 it." 53 is a trouble code that means the meter is covered up and I either can't get to it or can't find it because of the cover. 01 is a skip code that means I didn't read it for whatever reason comes from the trouble code. This skip code takes the place of the reading that should be there.

The next month, I discovered that in the intervening time, someone had gone out and allegedly found the meter and painted the address in our blue paint on the building just above the meter. It was above the meter box with the old meter that didn't have the right meter number. So I just did as I had been trained: since someone said this was definitely the right address, I just reset the meter number. That is, I changed the meter number and all other necessary information in my handheld computer (which is called a Roadrunner because that's the model name of this particular handheld), entered the read that was on the meter, and went on my way.

So within a few days someone else said I had made an error because that wasn't the right meter. But, I replied, someone painted the address on it, so I was just following instructions.

Nothing else happened for a few months after that, so I just went back to giving it a 53-01.

And then suddenly one month I came up to it, opened the box up out of habit, and lo and behold a new meter was in the box. I double-checked my Roadrunner and saw that the route had already been changed so this new meter was now the meter of the old address that I had been looking for and which someone had painted on the meter.

However, that meter has never measured any water--I don't see how it could because all of those buildings are vacant--and still it sits there, a new meter that has never been used.

I only tell this story to point out that there are still "lost" meters and "lost" addresses and we don't always know exactly where everything is. In fact, I can think of another really good example of this off the top of my head but I guess I'll save that story for another time. Maybe next month, if I can remember to take some pictures of it.

New York Times: If I didn't already hate you so much, I'd pity you

The New York Times says bloggers are killing themselves.

Because "authorized journalists" are superhuman or something, and therefore never feel stress nor need any sleep.

Such a tragic waste of paper.

(I am getting a lot of hits for this article because of this old post of mine.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


The Grand Funk album appears to be in quite good condition. I've been working on it a little today. But I think in the interest of obsession completeness I'm going to have to scan the inner sleeves. It's such a fascinating collection of newspaper clippings that show where they were at in 1972.

This double album was also originally released with an 18x24 poster, and guess's still intact. I mean, it's like someone bought this album, peeled off the shrink wrap, and forgot about it.

The only other thing I'll say about it right now is that it was never released to CD, used vinyl of it is available at Amazon for as little as $1.79, but I don't think any of them include the poster.

I have several other albums in progress, a few of them are in bad shape and are quite hard to clean up, so I haven't been working on them too hard. However, two good ones that shouldn't take too long that are now in progress are Ultravox's Lament and the self-titled Bourgeois Tagg album. It appears that that last one is now out of print.

I have also slightly improved my technique of scanning & stitching album covers, and the last few have looked a lot more "seamless" than previous attempts.

The Rose Garden (self-titled LP, 1968)

Above is the cleaned-up version of the record cover. If you care to see what mine actually looks like, click the small one to the right.

This is another old album that I picked up at Yesterday's Warehouse back in the 80s for a dollar; also another album that had previously belonged to the Schertz Public Library.

I was surprised to find out as much about this band as I did on the internet. I guess I'm used to not being able to find out anything about old bands like this. However, The Rose Garden did have one hit that reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968: "Next Plane to London."

They had that jangly folk/rock sound similar to The Byrds, with three-part vocal harmonies. The female singer, Diana Di Rose, sang lead on three tracks while one of the men sang lead on the other seven. There was one other male backup vocalist; when the lead singers weren't singing lead they also sang backup. One thing that's really worth pointing out here is Di Rose's throaty voice, which sat comfortably in the tenor range. That is, she had a very low voice compared to most women singers, and I like her voice a lot. In my opinion, the best songs on here are the ones she sang lead on. Only one song was written by members of the band; the rest were written by professional song writers who also wrote songs for many other bands & solo artists of the time. Also they covered one Bob Dylan song on this album (and back then, who didn't?). One other track which Di Rose sang lead on, "I'm Only Second," has a decidedly country theme to the lyrics, though not necessarily the music.

Below is a larger-res version of the back cover that should be big enough to read all the fine print. Click to enlarge.

Wikipedia page is here. This album is available at as both a CD or an mp3 download. My record cleaned up much better than I expected it to and I got a pretty much perfect copy of it.

Here's "Next Plane to London" on YouTube.

And here's "I'm Only Second."

The three "reviews" of it at Amazon are glowing, 5-star ratings. I wouldn't rate it that high, but then I was only 4 years old when this came out and I wasn't listening to that stuff much at the time* so it doesn't hold a lot of nostalgia for me. But it is a good example of southern California folk/rock from a band that most people have probably not heard of.

*Except for Peter, Paul & Mary.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The dewy, dewy fog

More pix I took Wednesday morning, once again from the Alamodome/Sunset Station route. This and the following were taken from that building with the big parking lot just before you get to the tracks on Commerce St.

This last one was taken as I was coming around the south end of the restaurant strip from behind the buildings where the tracks are; that is, on Hoefgen St. The Tower disappearing into the mist.

Hoefgen is another of those obscure streets of which I would be completely unaware if I didn't have to read meters there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good news, everyone!

The new high speed service is a go. I have to go sign a contract for it tomorrow. So I hope it will be working sometime next week. Now I can get busy getting more YouTube uploads ready.

I took a couple days off for no good reason, just have some vacation to burn so I figured I'd schedule it to wrap around the weekend with Washington's Birthday so I'd have 5 days straight. Just taking it easy, nothing special going on.

Began working on two different old records. One of them is that GFR album that I posted the ridiculous liner notes from a while back. The other is a somewhat obscure 60s folk-rock band, which I was actually surprised to find (one song from) on YouTube. The record is in surprisingly good shape for a reject from the Schertz Public Library and the cleaning up is going well.

In related news, my top 5 videos on YouTube are still the same, except that numbers 4 & 5 have swapped places, with "End of the Road" pulling ahead of "H.R. Pufnstuf (theme song, reprise)."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jimmy Smith - Live at the Club Baby Grand, vols 1 & 2

I knew that before Jimmy Smith became famous as a jazz organist, he was a pianist. So when I saw these listed at as "Live at the Baby Grand," I thought, cool, some recordings of him playing the piano! Not so. I didn't inspect their small thumbnail album art closely; if I had, I might have noticed that the actual title of this set is "Live at the Club Baby Grand." So I was slightly disappointed that it still isn't Smith playing the piano. However, it's still Jimmy Smith, so I wasn't very disappointed.

I'm still wondering if he was ever recorded playing the piano. As far as I have been able to determine: no.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I would just like to take this opportunity to say...



Uriah Heep - Very 'eavy... Very 'umble (1970, LP)

I took a break from this for a while, but I'm getting back into it now, slowly. Here's one that I had previously ripped from a dupe tape, and this time ripped it straight from the vinyl.

I became sort of a big fan of Uriah Heep back in the 80s, but mostly of the albums Demons & Wizards and The Magician's Birthday. I already had both of those, and I think Return to Fantasy before I bought this one. This was their first album, released in 1970. The above graphic is one that I snatched from Wikipedia, which is what the original cover looked like. My cover looks like the one below:

It has that little faux page-turn in the upper left corner. The original was a gatefold cover. Mine is a 1971 Italian reprint that is just a standard jacket, no gatefold. This album was released in the U.S. as Uriah Heep with a completely different cover. See the Wikipedia entry if you want to see what it looked like. Also the U.S. release had one different track from the rest-of-the-world release, which you can also read about at the link. I don't think I've ever actually seen that cover anywhere except online. Mine has the original U.K. track list.

So anyway I listened to this a lot, too, and it has a few tracks that I would add to my general favorites list. I have a couple of latter-day (post-David Byron) albums of theirs, but they don't grab me like the old ones did.

This is one of those groups that Rolling Stone always hated. One critic famously said, upon the release of this (their first) album, that she'd have to commit suicide if "this band makes it," or some such stupid thing (I hope you passed away peacefully and painlessly, Melissa). I had already learned by this time that if they hated a group, it was worth checking out.* Although they had only what I guess we would have to call "minor success" in the U.S., they were and still are quite popular elsewhere. According to Wikipedia, they were the first western band to play in Soviet Russia after the introduction of glasnost. The current Heep lineup has only one original member, guitarist Mick Box.

This is one of those records that I recorded to cassette the first time I played it, and thereafter listened only to the cassette. So this is only the second time I've played the vinyl, and got a perfect rip after cleaning out 2 or 3 very minor pops.

Sound samples available at Amazon, and I'm sure you can find it on YouTube as well. I would suggest giving "Gypsy" and "Dreammare" a try.

*However, they were totally right about Black Oak Arkansas.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

By the way...

You know those Valentine candy hearts that come in a box with a couple hundred and they have these cute little sayings on them? I hate those things. They all taste like artificially fruit-flavored chalk to me.

Watcha doin' with those cymbals, Sven?

For a plethora of vintage, somewhat odd-looking cover art, check out Svenska Dansband. Example:

I did not know that Romulans played the accordion.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clear Springs

We went to Clear Springs tonight for my dad's birthday, and the food was excellent as always. Everybody else had either shrimp or fish, but I am generally not a fan of things that come out of the water (especially crustaceans)*, so I had the grilled garlic chicken, and it was very good. We all had their famous onion rings for an appetizer. We had to wait about 7-8 minutes for a table. It's always like that on weekends, and this was even fairly early, at 5:00 PM. By the time we left there were about 30 people waiting outside for tables to open.

On the way home a jackrabbit flashed into the road and went right under the front left tire. That's the first jackrabbit I've ever seen around here, and I killed it. Oh well. As I told the kids, I'm not gonna wreck the car for a jackrabbit. If there's one, I'm sure there are others.

*I don't have a seafood allergy. I just don't like the flavor. I noted that they also had crawfish salad. "You gonna try some?" my dad asked. "Noooo," I answered, which made him laugh. I know they are eaten by many people, but to me they are just fish bait. The same goes for chicken gizzards and any organ meat.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ever'body I met seemed to be a rank stranger...

I'm still waiting to hear something from GVEC. Tomorrow, I hope.

I have been watching my YouTube traffic and am finding it interesting. The vast majority of hits come from YouTube searches. Here are the top five.

H.R. Pufnstuf (theme song) -- The first one I uploaded and it's a runaway winner, currently at 99 views.

Kathy Dalton "I Need You Tonight" -- This one languished in obscurity for the first several days, then suddenly began shooting up the chart and currently has 66 views. There is another Kathy Dalton singer who may be getting confused with this one. Not sure. I'm going to upload at least one more from this record if I ever get the chance, another love ballad called "Pour Your Wine."

H.R. Pufnstuf "Ice Cold Lemonade" -- Currently with 43 views and this one has me puzzled. I didn't think it would be near the top of the chart.

H.R. Pufnstuf (theme song, reprise) -- This held #2 for quite a while but has slipped. Currently at 39 views.

H.R. Pufnstuf "End of the Road" -- At 30 views. I expect the Pufnstuf tracks to slip down and some of the other ones to come up and replace them. Currently working their way up are Mark Mothersbaugh "My Home Town" at 27 views and Thomas Jefferson "If I Could Be With You" at 25.

One other note: I received a message from one of the guys in Terra Incognita thanking me for posting their song "Rank Stranger" from the Potatoes album. You can download a free mp3 of "Rank Stranger" from his website, Max Carmichael.

I have also discovered that there is nothing by The Jaye Consort on YouTube, so I think I will also post some from their out of print Medieval Music album, if possible, in future.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The risky business of cooking

Risky...I often cook for the kids because my wife works nights. Today, however, I was forced to cook for the kids and my wife. I don't like reminding my wife that I am a quite adequate cook. I might end up having to do it more often.

In other news, I started the ball rolling to try and get GVEC high speed internet. First thing that happens is a tech dude has to come out here and do signal strength tests and figure out where and how high up the antenna has to go. If the signal strength is high enough that we can get it, I hope it's all done by next week sometime.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Fog over the 'dome

I cleaned out the photos on my phone this morning and remembered this from a couple of weeks ago. January 18, at 7:55 AM. Fog over the top of the Alamodome. Train tracks on the left, all those restaurants at Sunset Station on the right.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Weather day off

Yesterday my supervisor offered us the option of taking a personal day today because of the impending bad weather. A few hours later, her boss nixed it. Yesterday after I got home a "team leader" or whatever they're called, called me to say that we had a 10 AM start time today.

When I woke up this morning I called the automated line and learned that start time had been moved to 12 noon. A few minutes later, the team leader called me again to tell me about the 12 noon start time. So I asked him: if the highways are not supposed to start thawing at noon, how are we supposed to get there by noon? He didn't have an answer for that, except that he expected more instructions soon to clarify matters.

And we were still having a 3:15 PM end time. This means that we would have to stop in the field at about 2:45 in order to get back to the office and turn our stuff in and the team leaders to do their end-of-day stuff so they could punch out by 3:15 also. If we started at noon, that means we most likely wouldn't be actually reading meters until 12:30, which means we would have 2 hours and 15 minutes to do actual work. For the route that I expected to get today, that means I would have been able to do about 2/3 of it, or about 300 meters. And that's only if all went perfectly smooth. The cold weather and icy spots left in the shade would have made it slower work, I'm sure.

So then about 30 minutes later he called back yet again and said I could take a personal day if I wanted to. Yep, back to the original plan. So I took the day off.

We didn't get any snow at my house. We only got freezing rain. In fact I'm pretty sure that's all that anyone around here got. My wife had a treacherous time getting home last night around 10 PM because the roads were already icy by that time.

In other news, my dial-up account is still active and I'm using it today because the wireless has been out since yesterday afternoon, even though they are claiming "no outages." So I'm going to be canceling this service. I've been checking out other options and I think I'll use our local electric company's wireless service. I know someone who has it and has never had any problems with it. I was checking out his installation also, and they use small (10-element or so) yagis (high-gain directional antennas), so I think it will be good. They'll cost me about $10 per month more than this service, plus either $250 or $150 for the installation, depending on which package I get.

In still other news, I am almost out of my favorite pipe tobacco, but I'm going to wait for the income tax return before I order more. I still have plenty of back-up tobacco.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Quest Begins

Side 1, track 1.

I am having a devil of a time trying to scan & stitch the inner cover.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Who'd a thunk it?

Today someone complained to me that he didn't have water. So I asked the most obvious question: "Did you leave any water running last night?"

"No," he said. "I'm from Chicago, so I figured since it was only getting down to 20 degrees, I wouldn't need to."

I tried to explain to him as politely and diplomatically as I could that once the temperature gets below freezing, water will freeze, no matter where you're from.

Apparently 20 degrees in Chicago is warmer than 20 degrees in San Antonio. How 'bout that.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New video

Here's another track from the Thomas Jefferson album: a Dixieland version of "Blueberry Hill." My next project will be to upload some tracks from that album First Quest: The Music. That's the one with electronic music that's D&D themed. I've read many remarks about it here and there, always someone wanting to hear some of it, and it seems that nothing from it is yet on YouTube, strangely enough. So I think that will be a good one to try next.