Four chords

I came across a video showing how most pop songs are made with the same four chords. This got me wondering which chords go together so I asked my ukelele mentor, Professor Peter. Knowing my musical limitations, he dumbed it way down. If you want a 4 chord group:

A, F#m, D, E(7) – or
G, Em, C, D(7) – or
F, Dm, Bb, C(7)- or
C, Am, F, G(7)

When I started noodling around with these I noticed each group sounded like every teenage tragedy song from the early 60’s so I started jotting down high school memories. A quick, stream of consciousness list: high school cafeteria; AM radio; drag racing; orange vodka and cherry slo gin; fake IDs; 3.2 beer; drive-in movies; etc. I plugged ’em into C-Am-F-G7 and came up with three verses in search of a chorus.

The cool kids table in school lunch room
The A-M radio, playin’ our tunes
They put my jockstrap on my head
You go too fast, you wind up dead

Some orange vodka after the prom
Passed geometry with help from mom
My buddy Jimmy had a fake ID
But three-two beer was good enough for me

Too hot to neck at the local drive-in
Wasted money on the cherry slo gin
Suzie’s footprints on the dash of my car
You can leave but you can’t go far

I’ll cast these crumbs upon the water in hopes that someone will come up with the chorus.

GoPro Camera


As far back as Taxicab Confessions I remember wondering what sort of little cameras they used to get the candid video. Not GoPro cameras. In-car video has become common (Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Carpool Karaoke, etc) but I’d be surprised if they were using these tiny, inexpensive cameras.

I thought it might be fun to keep one of these in the Land Rover. (Don’t ask me why. If I knew when I hit the buy button it has escaped me now.) I’ve always been impressed by the quality of the videos folks got with these and propping up my iPhone never worked the well for me. The GoPro is well designed for this task.

These are really pretty amazing. I can control the camera with an app on my iPhone or even configure for voice commands. In the next few days I want to try the looping feature which is — I assume — how people get all the insane dash-cam videos.

A few people have pointed out the camera angle is too low. No doubt. The Land Rover will have many more placement options.

In praise of YouTube


The video above is the first in a series of 24 (?) chronicling the restoration of a Series IIa Land Rover. The gent doing the restoration — Maximus Ironthumper — describes himself as “a blacksmith living off the grid.”

Let me say up front, I don’t expect anyone to watch these. The series is just a good example of something I think we’ve come to take for granted. In a pre-YouTube world we would never have been able to watch this amazing process. No cable channel would have produced something this… real. This gritty and honest. YouTube has become my go-to source for entertainment and information.

With cable and network television, someone else decides what you get to watch. On YouTube, you decide.

The world was running out of cassette tape

Although the birth and growth of audio cassettes began in the 1960s, its cultural moment took place during the 1970s and 1980s as a more effective, convenient and portable way of listening to music.

By the time I started working at KBOA in 1972, portable cassette players were finally starting to get affordable. Instead of having to coax people into a studio to do an interview we could not take a cassette recorder into “the field” and get the interview with “nat(ural) sound.” It was wonderful.

Cassette audio tapes were a part of my life for the next 30 years. During my years at the station and later — at a regional news network company — we bought a lot of audio tape cartridges from a company in Springfield, Missouri, called National Audio Company. A former coworker sent me the story below. A few excerpts:

Nobody has made audio cassette tape in this country since about 1983 or 1984. […] National Audio is set to begin production this month, having rescued a 62-foot tape-coating line weighing 20 tons from obscurity. Its former owner had converted it into a machine for making credit-card strips. […] Soon, the tape coater will be back to its original purpose, after many months of reassembly and testing. It will crank out 20,000 feet of tape per minute.

If you have (as I do) fond memories of audio cassette tapes, I think you’ll find this story worth a read.

Peter Serafinowicz. The voice of Sassy Trump

Peter Serafinowicz is an English actor, voice actor, comedian, and writer. Among many film roles, he played Pete in Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Garthan Saal in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), as well as providing the voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). He has appeared in a variety of British and American comedy series. (Wikipedia)

It’s been a long time since I found Saturday Night Live skits amusing. For me the comedy gold standard is Mr. Serafinowicz’ Sassy Trump videos.

“I overdub Donald Trump’s actual words with a silly voice. I do not change any words. These are the genuine words of the President of the United States.” More on the Sassy Trump YouTube Channel. If there is an interview with this comic genius (about Sassy Trump), I haven’t found it. I’ll keep looking.

Annihilation

Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy. I read the first book in the trilogy and found it… disturbing. Didn’t feel a pull to read the other two. The film is directed by Alex Garland who did Ex Machina, 28 Days Later, two films I enjoyed very much (if one can claim to enjoy 28 Days Later).