As I posted over at Ricochet: Ever had the chance to chat with a childhood idol?
How'd it go? Everything you expected? Somewhat dismaying? Normal as can be?

In related news, here's my newspaper interview with William Shatner.

(Yes, I know, there are two errors. I have been informed in various ways from the usual social-skill-deprived section of the Internet. People are horrible.)

Thank you! It was a good birthday, inasmuch as it was low-key; almost forgot it was my birthday. Really don't care. Went to Target with Daughter - a fun thing! Really. Because I needed to provision. Ever since Europe things have been low and disorganized; I lost the thread. Since we were going to pick up Indian dinner we went to a different Target - not the flagship in Edina. Smaller, fewer things, just off. It's also laid out differently, so I didn't know where to go, and hence felt old and senile. Where's shampoo? They moved it! They're always moving things. Why do they have to keep moving things.

Now it's night and it's boiling and humid, and I've a column to do. Right? No, I wrote it last night. Well, then I'll write another. 104 per year, that's the deal. The maw never stops chewing; the maw must be filled.

Or I could start disassembling my music collection.

I hate my music collection. Or rather I hate iTunes. I wonder how much Apple knows, or cares, about the dissatisfaction users feel towards iTunes. What began as a simple idea - hey, here's something for playing music - has become this wobbly multi-headed monster that does everything poorly. It's built around the new Apple Music online streaming service, for which I have no use. It cannot be customized to eliminate a variety of options, so you're always hitting something that you do not want, or need. It gets in the way of doing the thing it is supposed to do. Everything has three little dots that provide a menu with all sorts of options, and they're not consistent - those three little dots just mean "here's more crap to deal with."

I lost my patience with iTunes before the last trip - I'd loaded up some pdfs and epubs of books and magazines into iBooks, but they just wouldn't sync. I'd see them in iBooks, but they wouldn't show up in the Books sync portion of the iPad pane. (Leave aside for a moment the idea that you have to open a separate app to sync your books; it's like having an App Store in iTunes for iPhone apps, and a different App Store application for Mac OS programs.) I finally succeeded at getting the stuff to sync, but made the mistake of leaving wifi sync on. At some point the various programs said "you did not want to do that. You just didn't. And even if you did you shouldn't." And so it came to pass that I opened up the iBooks app on the plane, and it was empty.

EMPTY. Two weeks of travel ahead, with no books?

No problem. I had synced a batch of stuff to the Kindle app, and it was rock-solid and happy to help.

Anyway: music. It's frustrating. It's work. Having a music collection is now work. It's no longer a matter of having a shelf of albums; you have to arrange and sort and tag and attach genres so the automatic playlist sees them. You have to set up rules - Rules! - so the NEW playlist doesn't add something you don't want added. You want your entire collection to be accessible, but you don't want to carry around 65 GB of stuff just in case you get a hankering for that one obscure tune you haven't thought about in a while. On the other hand, you want that song to be available now, anywhere.

So: you can give it all up and just rely on Spotify, and stream, and run out of data three weeks into the month, or use iTunes, or put it all in a program like Vox, which has both local and cloud storage, or put it all in Dropbox and pay money or put it all in Amazon and pay money or put it all in Google and pay money -

It ought to concern Apple that people want to pay money so they don't have to use their free software.

That's not here or there. What started me down this road was

A) trying to find a song I knew I had, but couldn't find. Anywhere. I have past iterations of my music library from the last five years; whenever I do a sort-and-purge I make a copy of the the library and put it in cold storage. But this song was nowhere. Anywhere. Huh. At some point, despite all the mirrors and backups, I nuked it. Somehow. This is why I have quintuple backups of everything plus cloud and off-site. Stuff just vanishes.

B) and this is the point I wanted to make for comment fodder: there are some songs I have that I hate but can't let go. The very sight of the file irritates me. In the 90s, during the "Lounge" craze, there were many remixes of old swank instrumental pop. A new funky beat, original samples, voila, the old standards reborn. There was a vogue for "space-age" music, from Esquivel to the Gleason classics to Martin-Denn-type exotica to Les Baxter swoon-moon stuff, and I fell in love with it for many reasons. The overall genre had that mid-century vibe, and the Capitol Ultra-Lounge series gave me the bumper music that made the Diner sound like nothing else on AM talk radio. (Dennis Prager, on Friday, uses a number I was playing back in 1997.) It still interests me, but passions cool - and it also seems stuck not in 1961 for me, but 1997. I can't pretend it still has the same appeal, because I'm almost 20 years older and the end-of-history 90s mood that indulged and celebrated the rediscovery, coincident with the rise of the web, is long gone. I love it, but it's old hat, and it's irrelevant.

Doesn't mean I deep-six the files - no, and that's the problem. I keep them all. But there's one CD, long since sold, called "Upstairs at Larry's," which I believe is a reference to Lawrence Welk. Has trendy hip remixes of tunes like - well, Welk's signature theme, "Bubbles in the Wine," the most relentlessly mechanical upbeat song of its time. What galls me is that I ripped, and hence committed myself to saving, a remix of "Baby Elephant Walk."

This is the album art:


There is no woman who looks like that who is intrigued by you because you put on Baby Elephant Walk.

I never want to hear that song again. It was a minor hit when I was a kid, and we liked it because hey that was in that movie we saw! What was it, Harambe!? Daktari? Born Free? One of those Africa movies they did. Boy, dusty brown place, Africa, but funny monkeys! They're just like people.

I cannot imagine a time when I would want to hear this gott-damned song again, but I can imagine a time when I would want to use it in a video.

And so it stays. Here. Join me in my pain.


UPDATE: Never mind, sticking with iTunes, the other thing was a pain too

Another cliche of the era, this time finding humor in spousal abuse. It's always a little man and a big woman.

See, it's funny, because she beats him with it.




Continuing on with Government Agents vs. The Phantom League. (The Specific, Materially Evident League was already defeated.)

It's about truck hijackers.

He was working a hand-car to pursue the gun-emptied henches, when they lit the ground on fire. This was bad because he'd taken the Grenade Express. He makes a command decision, based on his expert knowledge of the relationship between fire and grenades:


Back to the Table of Trucking Executives, one of whom of course is the Phantom. Hal tells the Spunky Gal of Future Peril - have we met her yet?

She's a flat actress who confuses enunciation with performing, but more on her later.

Hal says he's going to set up some checkpoints, and use a 2-way radio to see if anything's going on. The shipping schedule will be kept secret, but of course the Phantom League has a man on the inside. It only takes a few minutes before Hal and his sidekick are off to investigate a missing truck. They find it quickly, because it's a serial and there are never more than 10 people in the world or four vehicles, and Hal does some derring do:


Nice. Although the other Government Agent could have got a little closer.

Well, this means the bad guys will just shoot him, right? Of course not. We have a new standard, ladies and gentlemen: hats-on rule not only observed on top of truck moving at high speeds . . .


. . . but while falling off and rolling down a hill.

Well, the guy they captured was going to be paraded before the Trucking Executives, but he swallowed a poison pill. That's some fanatical dedication, you think, but remember the title? The main bad guy - the driver in the previous scene - learns from the Head Phantom (over the secret radio; that's how they always communicate. Never phone. Radio) that he took an M6 pill, and I'll just bet that it simulates death. You know, your heart stops, you have no blood pressure, no brain activity. But that's just for show.

Hal catches up with them, and there's a gun battle. But then:



I'm pretty sure we saw that in the Crimson Ghost. It's not even the same color car.

My disappointment factor just increased ten fold, but then I remembered: hats-on hill-roll, and I felt better.

It's summer! Let's go back to the drive-in. As I may have noted before, I got these from various PD sources - but they're always in a wad, with the aspect ratio wrong, and in drastic need of color correction. Why don't I just put them on YouTube? Because you can get them here without ads, that's why.

Ads shouldn't have ads.


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