Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One Singularity

There are all sorts of novelty-type songs out there, from 'She Blinded Me With Science' to 'I Ran (So Far Away).'

Then there's "Bang the Drum All Day" by Todd Rundgren. That upbeat organ-driven tune with all the voices almost monotonously singing 'I don't wanna work/I wanna bang on the drum all day.'

I wouldn't listen to it normally if it were suggested to me, but it happened to unusually play on the radio recently, and I was surprised at the actual full song; I'd only ever heard the chorus, considering I'd only ever heard the song in commercials, movie trailers and other media and the chorus would be the only part featured. It's not an over-used, boring progression when you count the verses. It's not something I've heard a million times, and it's also not complicated.

Upon first hearing the organ of the chorus, I'd assume it to be a 1-5 progression like every other song, except it isn't. It's a 1-4. And it appears to be in D major, not a commonly-used minor. D to G major. On the organ, those chords with a C added in the middle.

But what really interests me is the man behind the song. I read up on Todd Rundgren and learned some impressive stuff. Obviously this isn't his only song, and he's still active. This song was produced in the middle of his career, in 1983. What's most interesting? He did everything himself.

The album this song is from is called The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, and it was one of his last albums produced for a major record label. Apparently he produced it out of contractual obligation rather than out of personal interest, hence the title, but the point is, he did everything. He played every instrument and recorded every instrument. He engineered and produced the album, and directed the picture on the album's cover too.

Rundgren is one of those people I could consider a role model with something like that. He decided he'd rather be in control of how his songs, voice and style went, so he learned how to produce and engineer songs in the recording studio, and did it all himself. Just about any usual band at that time would hire a producer, or their label would hire a producer for them plus advance money for a studio, and then the creative team would be established and either work or not. Rundgren was his own team.

To be able to do that is one of my own goals. The only thing I wouldn't really try is sing, and even that isn't something that would be entirely off the table for me. It would just be my learning to deal with hearing my own voice, as well as acknowledging whether or not it would be nice to hear for others. But I see myself playing every instrument and recording them. I would engineer and mix my own tracks, build my own studio, create my own melodies and write my own lyrics. I'd do the art direction on the cover of the album. If a music video was warranted, I would direct it.

There's definitely people like that out there, people who want to control everything. It's good in moderation. And I wouldn't bar anyone else from contributing, nor would I micro-manage every single aspect of their contribution unless it completely had nothing to do with the direction I'd be going in. But if I meet my goal and produce a few albums, it would be all my creation with help from a few others. I have no interest in following others or working for others. No label would get my signature, if any were ever interested, unless they gave me 100% creative control over everything - and no obligations, no "five albums in ten years" type of thing.

Many artists do their work on their own, by themselves, independently. And yes, most people have no idea they exist, because they aren't mainstream, they aren't shepherded around every radio station/music video channel by a major record label. They don't have the connections to have a huge exposure. If I went the way I want to go in, hardly anyone would ever hear me.

That's perfectly fine.

If I met my goal, if I got to a point where I was producing my own albums in every aspect, I wouldn't care whether or not I had huge exposure and a website to handle my fans. Too many people are in it for the fame and money and exposure rather than the passion and the creativity. This is a side hobby for me. I create what I want so I can listen to it as well as anyone who's interested. However, I think that people like Todd Rundgren are pretty rare when they can produce a few songs by themselves and have them end up as something everyone's heard somewhere or another, the kind of thing where you recognize the tune but can't necessarily recall the name or the artists' name. My goal may not be to be famous or huge through my musical creativity and production, but if one song of mine finds its way into everyone's subconscious, if one song ends up as the kind of thing where it's almost a novelty or a recognizable-yet-forgotten tune, I'll be pretty happy. Because when someone strives to do something on his/her own through a powerful, ongoing passion that won't go away and gets recognized for it, however little or much, that's when people like that finally win. It's the underdog aspect.

If I can do something without really looking for fame, just out of passion and creativity and happiness, and get some minor exposure and acknowledgment for it that's positive, I'll be happy; I want to be someone remembered for proving and emphasizing that you can do it yourself, especially if you believe in yourself. Todd Rundgren proved that, and in a smaller way, so did Karl Wallinger (World Party). One-man team - the strength of your own efforts at work. My goal isn't to have a major hit. But if I had something minor after some real hard work, I'll be satisfied. Because I did everything myself. I didn't even have to feature a rapper.

Red Cloud

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Single Multitracks

I'm starting right to the point with this song, which I've reviewed on here before. I also referenced it as a song in A major. Back when I first found it and listened to it, I had some misconceptions about the song that I wrote down - for example, the descending guitar riff and the 'quiet' guitar is the same guitar. I also pointed out that it sounded nostalgic and that the drums had this neat 'reverb' sound to them. That isn't a product of the recording. It's a product of bad sound quality that hid the true sound and volume of that 'quiet' guitar. That's why I embedded a lyric video version above that has truer sound quality.

Nowadays I liken the song to exuberant happiness at seeing someone, a girl's happiness, and being me, that someone she's happy to see is me thanks to the key and who it makes me think of. This is largely thanks to the guitar sound.

It's probably common knowledge that most artists and bands record by multi-tracking - recording each instrument one at a time, one instrument per track(s). The drums each have their own track and are usually recorded first. Then the bass guitar. And so on. After each instrument and vocal has been recorded and re-recorded, the best take chosen, they are mixed together for dynamics, etc. and committed to a single master track from which the studio takes to the press. The result is a stereo (two channel, so two speaker) single track of all instruments and voice as the completed song.

Due to the way music is distributed, and how the market works, you can't buy a song taken apart with each of its original multi-tracks. And you can't really isolate instruments or vocals in audio programs either - you can extract certain channels in most to remove an instrument or two to hear others better, but you can't literally silence every single other instrument but for the vocals, or isolate only the piano track. The only way to do that is to look online for torrent files of ripped Rockband or Guitar Hero files which have .moggs of the songs used in the games - which themselves are digitally copied or transferred files of the original instrument multi-tracks. You can open them in Audacity, and you get the multi-tracks of a chosen song, giving you the power to take it apart and listen to each actual instrument in a song one at a time.

In searching for a remix I'd found of the song by The Cure awhile ago on YouTube, I stumbled upon a rare greatness. Someone had uploaded each individual track to YouTube - the vocal track, the drum track, the bass guitar track, the guitar, etc.

To hear how each instrument is played with literally no distraction is quite an awesome thing. For me, I get the exact synesthetic reaction to it and see everything as I hear it perfectly, and I also hear things I didn't expect or notice before thanks to the rest of the song.

This instrument track is the reason I like the song virtually at all. And I can tell that this is itself a combination of two or more guitar tracks, because it's obvious it's quite layered. In the song, it's obvious but not nearly as much, and it's relegated to the left channel (left ear/speaker).
The first chord-like picks (A & C sharp) and the second - B & E I reckon - have their own spatial direction, form, and complimentary relationship with each other as one follows the other. With that I get a mixture of happiness, eagerness, anticipation, and reason for it. Then the second two - D & B and D and F sharp (I think) are a further building up of this as well as justification for it and fulfillment of it. The D note combination has that final high to it. All of it is a green/blue and makes me think of that type of face I like, and someone I see now and then. The best parts are not necessarily the main descending riff (which is also great and has a bright blue-white colour to it) but mostly the F sharp-D-A bit that plays instead of the D-F sharp combination (the guitarist is essentially playing a descending D major note-by-note twice).
The guitar's actual sound - achieved probably by a pre-amp or effects board - is a big contributor to how I see it. It's chiming and bright but nice and low at the same time. It's what gives me the colour while the picking and style of picking give me the stylistic form, shape, and direction.

There's still an obvious reverb on the snare drum but it doesn't sound as distant as it did on the original version I would have embedded on here. The drums are probably the only instrument in a song I would not really need to isolate to figure out exactly how they're played. They're always loud enough. However, one thing I did notice is the difference of crash cymbals - the drummer hits a tinkling one and a flat-sounding one. I didn't originally pick up on that first; a lot of 80s songs used that particular flat crash sound. I also confirmed that the bass drum isn't simultaneously struck along with the toms when that common fill comes along. I didn't really think so originally. It's a bad habit I've fallen into when I occasionally play this on my drums.

I have very little to say about this track out of interest. The bass playing got some nice compliments in reviews I saw on the song's Wikipedia page. All I have to say is that it smoothly and correctly follows the song's chosen progression exactly. Otherwise, there is no deviation in it - even in the pattern of the picking. Pick-pick-pickpickpick-pick-pick-pick-pickpickpick...I appreciate songs that have bass lines that don't necessarily have to have difficult progressions, but do something different once or twice. Follow a progression, but add a little style to it, add another complimentary note, alter your playing style slightly. Don't pick a line exactly as you picked it last time. Use the same note an octave higher once or twice. If you wanted to learn how to play this song to the picking style, all you'd have to listen to is the first completion of its progression on the bass, and you're good, except for the F sharp minor - G major bit in the pseudo-chorus.

This is one track I was eager to hear, after the electric guitar track. The rare but very welcome acoustic guitar track, with some added bit of keyboard near the middle. This compliments the right channel in the song while the electric is in the left, and this guitar isn't nearly as easy to listen to over the strings-like keyboard synth. You get it full-on here. I think a 12-string was used, because it sounds dense, and I also think the guitarist didn't bother barring the B minor chord, as I do not hear the deep B note sound, just the higher strings.
Even though this guitar only follows the progression of the song, like the bass does, it's much more interesting to listen to because it simply sounds good thanks to the instrument's tone, the playing style, and the instrument itself. I have no idea how the player was able to energetically strum it so fast over three minutes, constantly. I couldn't go that fast, and not nearly that long. Plus he doesn't strum it exactly the way he did it before on each round of the chord progression, as the bassist does with his pick. Near the end he starts quietly and builds up to a crescendo. It just sounds warm and good. I love how they added this instrument to the song.

This is the track for both the synth keyboard (fake strings) and the piano part that plays over the second verse and the bridge. In the song the "strings" give off a complimentary emotion that makes me visualize the same face and a perceived personality off it (this perception applies to anything else that gives me that face in the song, so it's like a person with a face and personality has come to life via the instruments through synesthesia). On its own, however, it just makes me think of a Star-Trek scenario, space, science fiction, space-like technology, etc. Then there's the piano part, which sounds a lot more computer-based than real. Its echo (which I never noticed/heard on the actual song) and perfect sound give me that impression. Like it was programmed into a computer connected to the keyboard through MIDI and done on it. The piano sounded dreamy in the song. Alone it sounds too processed.

Finally, the vocal track. I'm kind of impressed with it. Despite no song around it, I still can't get exactly what he says once or twice thanks to his vocal tone/inflection, but otherwise he sounds quite emotionally invested in what he's singing. His voice nicely portrays that emotion well. His is a good voice for the song, and you can hear the meaningfulness behind it.

To finish, isolating each instrument's track in a multi-track-recorded song often reveals some good things, some amazing things, and now and then some boring or off-sounding things. I love the electric guitar - it does still sound endearing and happy and layered and beautiful, and works independent of the song - but the keyboard synth alone does not, and the piano was revealed to be way to computer-y to me on its own. The drums didn't reveal anything considering they're naturally loud enough anyway (the only way I'd get messed up in hearing the drums is if a tambourine mixed with the hi-hat, but you don't need to isolate the drum track for that most of the time to figure it out) and the bass turned out to be exactly the same note-for-note, pick-for-pick throughout. The vocals contained raw emotional energy, proving Robert Smith did his job, and well. Finally, the warm, happy, wonderful acoustic addition. I could easily listen to this song for only its guitars, but of course, in the end, the song as a whole is the best product, because every instrument in it is vital to the overall energy, colour, tone, image, and altogether, every instrument sounds awesome. Otherwise the song would only be in one dimension. Without all its clothes on. And of course, knowing now how each instrument sounds on its own exactly, I can notice and hear all of that in the full song now. It sounds better as a result.

If only music could be released that way. I would never tire of having an emotional bliss with that.

Red Cloud

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

No Gear

Top Gear was a show I came to watch in the early summer of 2013. We get BBC Canada, and there was a time where it was broadcasting reruns of the show a lot, to the point even my mother was watching it. I didn't see why my mother would be interested in what looked to me, at least from a viewing distance, to be a car or machine-themed show. Often I'd see a big, wiry-haired guy sitting in a chair interviewing what turned out to be a celebrity mixed with scenes of cars being driven through the British countryside.

It was my mother who encouraged me to watch it, particularly a sequence wherein they were doing a cheap car challenge. The three - not one - three presenters took a van and made it into a makeshift convertible, taking it up to 100 miles per hour, driving through a safari park, and finally putting it through a car wash. The fact that they willingly went through an automated car wash only to have it ruin the makeshift roof, get tangled up, and catch fire intrigued me to watch more, because obviously they weren't being serious and rather going for the lighthearted, entertaining aspect. So I started taking an interest.

It led to an obsession to keep me occupied during times of boredom. I'd surf YouTube for pieces of challenge segments. The car reviews were not something I looked for particularly, but they were still entertaining in the sense that all three of them - Jeremy, Richard and James, though mostly Jeremy - would have an entertaining way of describing the drive and performance.

The true nature of the program came out at me pretty quickly. Three presenters doing "ambitious but rubbish" stunts and challenges and the odd semi-serious car review. The quirkiness of their presentation style, all free-form and casual, made the show seem like an entertainment program mixed with some interesting information. I have several of the series on DVD.

But now it's all done. Jeremy ended up doing what he apparently did, and now the BBC have exhausted their patience and chances with him.

There are two big sides to this - Jeremy's behaviour and the diehard fans who think it's not much of a big deal and isn't worth firing the star of the program over. Apparently, the show generates the most revenue for the British corporation. There isn't a way in any reality Richard Hammond and James May, the two co-presenters, would go on rowing without him. They have a shared common ground and chemistry that makes them work brilliantly together.

I'm in the middle. I don't think it's the end of the world, and no, I don't think the star of the program should be preferentially treated when he assaulted another person over a matter so silly. I love the show. It's fun to watch and can fill hours of time. But it isn't like they can go on forever anyway; two of them are in their fifties, the third nearly there. The older they got and the longer the show went, it seemed to me that the show got more and more clownish. It's one thing to be whacky once in awhile (i.e. the police car challenge) and consistently interesting (the three BMW 325i challenge) but it seemed that the more whacky features and challenges began to outnumber the reviews and other features. An entire episode of this past season was dedicated to the three of them making ambulances. It was one of the funniest episodes I saw, but at the same time, they're starting to look too juvenile for their age. The amphibious car challenge wasn't juvenile. It was a great chronicle of an accomplishment through dedication.

I read a long interview with James May awhile ago. He mentioned in it that he couldn't possibly see the three of them continuing into their fifties as they have, as he felt they couldn't take it. They were taking it. I would have liked to have seen an end to this series, not a cancellation three quarters of the way through, and then be fine with the end. Nothing lasts forever, after all.

As for Jeremy Clarkson, sometimes you just have to accept a person for who he is. Someone at his age is likely going to be set in his views and ideas, and to fight it is to get nowhere or just add to the misery. However, to treat someone like hell just because the chef went home (which is out of his control) and then punch him for that is ridiculously childish and stupid. In that sense I agree he should be at least punished or made to apologize. They should have let the show run the last of its course, and then dismiss him. Having an outspoken opinion is one thing - if everyone disagrees they simply don't have to listen to it - but making it physical is another serious thing altogether.

It was a great show - and of course there are twenty-two seasons and numerous road trip features (Botswana, Vietnam, America, India, etc.) and I think all three are great presenters and have a good sense of humour most of the time. But all things come to an end, and as I said. It shouldn't matter who you are - yelling is one thing, throwing a punch is another.

Red Cloud

1585 Merivale Road - A Visual History

Thanks to the pictures I've come across over the past couple of days, and what I've read out of interest, I think it would be interesting to cover a sort of history of 1585 Merivale Road.

It's a matter of personal interest for me. Everyone would know it as the "Meadowlands Mall" though it isn't a mall, just a facade of stores in a shared building. What I find interesting is the way the facade itself has changed over the years.

It's where Target is now, trying to sell off everything inside from what's on the mostly bare shelves to the shelves themselves.

My mother took me shopping there countless times over the years from when I was a toddler. That's helped in my motivation for knowledge and sharing it as well.

So here I go with the best of what I know.
Expansion in 1968; bottom segment was constructed two years earlier than that.

From what I've read in comments on Facebook and other places online, the bottom segment of building - the part closest to Meadowlands Drive - contained a Steinberg's. In  September and October of 1968, a Miracle Mart and a Pascal's Hardware store opened in the middle and northern part of the building (Sept. 25 & Oct. 5 respectively). All three tenants were of Montreal or Quebec origin.
Put up by GrocerymaniaSam on Flickr

It makes sense the poster is in French. The big rectangular facade in the poster matches the big rectangular bulkhead-looking thing on the building in my aerial photo above. Furthermore, the letters of the store name really were on top of the roof - November aerial images from the same year show the shadows of the letters falling onto the roof when looked closely through a focusing loupe. I find a lot of big stores in Nepean used big roof letter designs like that in the '60s (Shoppers City West did the same thing).

Aside from Pascal's, Miracle Mart was owned by Steinberg's which sat in the smaller southern half of the building. And from what my aerial photos show, it's obvious they remained in the building until around 1991. Around that time, the building got an addition at its Meadowlands end.

It was that year that the entire building changed, both in facade design as well as tenants. Steinberg's had gone bankrupt after difficult times catalyzed by the founder's death in 1978 (according to Wikipedia). Pascal's also became defunct. This screenshot from the GeoOttawa site from 1991 appears to show that:
1991. The big rectangle that was the facade for Miracle Mart is gone and now Zellers, and construction crews are evident at the southern end of the building as well as fences surrounding the defunct Pascal's facade for demolition.
Source: GeoOttawa

The '90s were the time of bigger players, as well as multinational names. Taking over Miracle Mart was Hudson's Bay Company's Zellers, a store that had been around since the 1940s and a national brand. Steinberg's was divided up into several separate spaces and added-on at the south end to include several American tenants, namely a Pier-1 Imports and an Olive Garden restaurant. Pascal's was also divided up, into a Staples - first signed as "Business Depot" - and a Winners.
Shared on the Lost Ottawa page on Facebook; date unknown, early 90s
"Business Depot" - shared on the Lost Ottawa page, Facebook. Early 90s.

This was how I remembered the building and stores as a kid: Sleek-looking white metal panels, crooked bulkheads and poles, giant flat or slanted store signage. Florescent lighting vertically along the walls, glass brick-box panelling. I guess the landlord decided to update the front of the building to have an ultra-modern look, except that on a sunny afternoon it might look like it could hurt your eyes. Zellers' store front was the most dramatic-looking, curved and rising high above the roof. It was the only store that had retained its massive floor space and was probably decided as the anchor of the building.

Things went smoothly along until the latter half of the last decade. In 2004, the building got a big extension along the major back wall. It was obviously for Zellers' benefit. The front of the building also got an update, changing the white panelling to, well, blue-grey and oaky green-brown. A few stores moved around - Winners went south, across Meadowlands, to the plaza on that side of the road. Red Lobster took over Olive Garden. BouClair moved to the other side of the building, and a place called HomeSense (apparently part of Winners) moved into the vacant northern end left by Winners.
Panorama I did outside the building in June 2011. The sidewalk fixtures like the bench remain the same from the 90s.

Wendys/Tim Hortons also showed up to sit in the corner of the parking lot in the late 90s. But Zellers was now floundering. They weren't bringing in enough revenue. The Hudsons Bay Company did not have much interest in a chain that was losing money, particularly its private American owner I'm sure. By the end of the last decade, Target was expressing interest in coming north of the border, and HBC took the opportunity.

What followed was a several year-long transition of closing Zellers stores, renovations, liquidations, and re-brandings. There was no doubt the floor space Zellers occupied is considered the anchor of the building; once Target started settling in, the entire building's facade was once again re-modelled.
Building under renovation again in summer 2013; own image.

Once Target took over (albeit briefly) everything changed, from the facade to the sidewalk fixtures, to even traffic ones - proprietary-looking stop signs at the entrance/exits of the parking lot, massive pedestrian crossing lines in front of the store. The red concrete balls were probably a given. Cart return stalls, which I don't recall seeing in that parking lot in the past. There was also the extremely massive extension that basically took up the entire pavement behind the building, meaning the rear entrance off Grant Carman Drive/Meadowlands had to be re-aligned for the first time since September 1987 (when Grant Carman was first paved as a road, necessitating a proper intersection).

Now the present and future is unclear. I was in that Target recently (last week). They've sold off quite a lot (not that their selves were ever that full to begin with). Almost everything was bare. Fixtures were also on sale. Despite the chain's failure, they did make the building look appealing. I like the light fixtures outside Red Lobster and the new sidewalk pavement. But now we have a gigantic empty space looming:

Screencap from the Colonnade Reality site; Target floor space in red.

In the brief history of Target I forgot to note the new addition of space at the northern side of the building; more retail space was divided up, creating space for the AppleTree clinic to cross the road from the Professional Centre to the 'mall.' You can see how huge the space has become thanks to Target. However, the one thing I do miss is the way the old signage would rise higher than the roof. Target's facade looks low and mundane, whereas Zellers used to have a tall, curvy sign with a signature-like logo that also appeared on the back corner of the building facing Meadowlands. In its place is a bullseye logo that just looks like something you should point an arrow at.

I hope something nice fits in Target's place. It would definitely be neat to see Zellers return. In its time, this plaza has gone from regional stores of Quebec origin to multinational tenants and national Canadian-wide anchors such as Zellers, to almost purely American tenants and giants like Target. It almost raises the question of where we're going in terms of our shopping interests, because there are fewer Canadian places left. Merivale Road itself used to be host to a lot of smaller Canadian chains that covered eastern Ontario/western Quebec and even all of Canada. Most, if not all, of them are gone or defunct. Where's Steinberg's? Where's Towers? Where's Woolco? I think those are all Wal-Marts now and have been since 1994.

I hope something good comes to take Target's place. But I also hope it doesn't mean they redo the building all over again. It's great-looking now. We don't need another update, surely?

Photos were borrowed from Flickr, Lost Ottawa, myself, and/or screencapped. I will remove them of any of the people/sites I've credited has any issue with them being here - otherwise thanks for letting me use them. Normally I wouldn't do a visual history of a retail building, but in this case I rarely had a tonne of information and images, so I couldn't resist.

Red Cloud

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some Minor Changes

Thought I should update the look of the page a little. Just in terms of gadgets and what it says next to my picture.

I had to remove the "Absolutely Everything" gadget for two reasons. The main one was the home site it was operating from. Since I added the gadget in December 2009, I ended up being connected to a companion site through the gadget that told me statistics - who came here from where and how. I found it quite useful even though the search tool the gadget was supposed to be was less reliable than the actual search tool above it. The site went through several names - from "Ljit" to "Sovrn" to something else, and now it's changing again. Ever since January, for some reason, the stats don't work anymore even though I have a profile on there that's valid.

Of course, the second reason was the mindless searches people were conducting. I wouldn't care if they didn't show up as searched terms hugely on the gadget. Removing it was more for visitors who would be confronted with troll-like slurs vandalizing the page.

I actually found some of them funny. I looked up what "hipster" means on Wiktionary. There were 4 meanings: 1 - someone "keenly interested in the latest trends or fashion," 2 - A "member of bohemian counterculture," 3 - An "Aficionado of Jazz who finds him or herself to be hip," and 4 - underwear with "elastic waistband at hip level."

I tend to get the impression a lot of people think they know what certain commonly-used words mean, but they actually don't. I definitely didn't know the proper definition of it, and thought it was generally meant to describe someone trying to be cool, sub-zero, and/or better than everyone else. I'm not interested in the latest fashion or trends - in fact I like to be quite individualistic, my own creator of style, if I wanted to create such a thing. All my movie and music reviews on here are of songs and films that are over ten years old, typically. I don't think that's much of a trend, is it? Listening to old stuff?

I have little to no interest in Jazz; I couldn't consider myself bohemian or part of any counterculture; and obviously I'm not a pair of underwear complete with hip-level elastic band. If you prefer to see me as such, that is your choice.

To finish, this is a personal blog. It's just like any other personal blog. Some are a lot more personal than mine, and I intend on removing some old stuff I have way back here because I consider it too personal now. If anyone thinks all I care about is myself or have a big ego, they're missing the point. You write a personal blog about yourself and your interests, not about what others think. You don't write to devalue yourself unless that's your goal.

That of course was written for the normal visitors who are genuinely interested in what they see and have a brain and an ounce of human decency. Sorry about the vandalism. The other search box is much more reliable. It has always been.

Red Cloud

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Came across yet another song to listen to now and then. I didn't hear it in the car, but via one of those TV radio station things my mother surfs now and then.

Unlike the majority of my reviews of music here, this one isn't amazing. And for the first time ever, the song's music video kind of ruined it a little for me.

The redeeming feature of this song is its general guitar sound. The guitarist took something simple and made it catchy, somewhat refreshing, and generally interesting right to the end of the song.

Otherwise, the progression is very common in that exact key itself. I-VII-IV in D minor. D-C-G. So many songs use that progression. With this song however, that's all it is. The entire song plays these three notes over and over along the bass. There's no change in anything other than the guitar's notes and riffs. And the one pre-chorus bit where the bass switches to C a little earlier than usual.

Then there are the lyrics, which for the verses are the same several lines repeated twice. The chorus is 'here comes the rain/here she comes again,' etc. Singing about the rain as a metaphor for your girlfriend coming is constant throughout the song other than the twice-repeated verse.

Despite this sameness throughout the song - its music, its over-used progression in its over-used key playing over and over, the same generic lyrics - I kind of liked it regardless, largely thanks to the guitar and the general catchiness of the actual key and progression. It's hard to tire of D-C-G regardless of how often you hear it. It was an okay song.

I tried watching the music video. I don't really know why they made a video for a relatively mundane song, and they kept the video itself mundane as well. However, there were repetitive scenes that were close-ups of a tongue licking a microphone. That wasn't too awful. It was the dripping, soaking microphone itself. I have a mildly hard time not substituting the context of the scene as something sexual, which wouldn't be too bad if the microphone hadn't been soaking in a tub of saliva. Too much. Too gross. The singer himself also looked too much like the elder woman that works in dry foods at work. It was a weird mash for me. The drummer wasn't on time in the video, hitting cymbals when they weren't hit, and again, the only person who looked proficient and normal was the guitarist.

In the end, the song is still okay. The guitar saves it, as well as the nice idea of thinking of the girl you're waiting for as rain. It makes me think of how pianos in certain songs (i.e. 'Not Home Today') synesthetically seem 'watery' and 'rainy' to me, and simultaneously make me think of certain girls or a type of girl I like. Rain can be very soothing. I kind of miss it.

Music: C+
Lyrics: C
Video: D-

I don't think I've given such low grades here. The song came out in 1985 from an album called Love. Seems nice, but it goes to show that at least I don't find every possible 80s song amazing or worth a B+/A-.

Red Cloud

Monday, March 9, 2015

There are Harsh Realities out There

Since late last year (well, since I read Jonas Jonasson's novels, really) I've paid a lot more attention to the news and what's been happening in the world and nationally. As a result, I see a lot of reactionary stuff.

There almost always has to be a ridiculous reaction to something. I don't mean a normal one, I mean a ridiculous one where people are chanting and taking the first negative thing they hear and covering everything in it. When I read about the new sex ed. policy the provincial government rolled out, there were crazy reactions and gatherings at the government building and people using the premier's sexuality as a reason for the 'sordid content' of the new policy. Some of the quotes I read were pretty diabolical and stupid.

The more current thing people seem divided over is the whole bill C-51 anti terrorism debate. One of my recent classmates is severely opposed to it. As far as I'm concerned personally, what some unknown public servant I will never meet thinks of me because of the e-mails I exchange or what I write on here is no care or interest of mine. It's another ridiculous reaction because some people seem to think the government is going to immediately go into your computer or tap your phone and listen in or watch 24/7. And if you say the first negative thing about anything, you'll get searched and arrested in half an hour. The windows will brighten up, see, and then a S.W.A.T. team will burst through them.

I think it's a good idea, at least to a point. As long as the government is examining suspected terrorists, and I mean suspected as they actually have suspects, not just anyone, fewer plots may be successful. If it stops a mall from being blown up, or an intersection, or whatever, great. It's when they decide that perhaps they should be looking for more than just terrorists, but any activity, anywhere.

I have no problem if they discover drug dealing or child pornography and act upon charging those responsible, but if someone happens to download something from YouTube or use a torrent, yeah, it's probably wrong, but eventually they end up coming off as hyper vigilant. I wouldn't want a reality where I'm worried about every possible thing I do online. What if I upload a picture I took of someone standing on a street, but McDonalds is in the background, and because the golden arches that show up in my picture are trademarked property, the government orders me to take it down and charges me for theft of a trademark? It's not the subject of the image, it just happened to be in the background, along with the Target logo with the 2% going-out-of-business discount sign under it.

This is probably the kind of argument those who are severely opposed to it make, along with the whole civil liberty argument. I agree with them in that scenario - except that I don't think it would ever go that far. Who is paying for someone to randomly examine twenty-something million connected computers in this country 24/7? There isn't enough public servants in this country to accomplish such a thing. Not enough people and not enough money to pay them.

There are those who believe Harper would eventually get more paranoid and enforce more hyper-vigilant policies with the law, and randomly examine anyone to see if they said he took an ugly picture in a recent press article, but I highly doubt he'd ever be in power long enough to go that far. There really are harsh realities out there. If this law means the government will have the power to look into anyone's computer - though it won't be anyone's, they don't have the resources to do that - and if it means that it stops people from dying just because they went to the store, let them. You aren't losing your entire civil liberty as soon as it receives royal assent. Unless you've posted videos proclaiming in mediocre Arabic that the world is ending soon and the only way to live life to the fullest is to go join ISIS/ISIL (whatever they're called).

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