Charles L. Black on Louis Armstrong

I am in the middle of watching Ken Burns’ awesome Jazz DVD Set.  I never realized the importance of Louise Armstrong had in our music and culture:

Charlie Black, a freshman from University of Texas, happened to go see Louis Armstrong at a club in 1931.  He knew nothing of jazz and never heard of Louis Armstrong.

“He played mostly w/ his eyes closed.  Letting flow from that inner space of music things that had never existed.


He was the first genius I’d ever seen. It is impossible to underestimate the significance of a 16 year old southern boy seeing genius for the first time in a black person.


We literally never saw a black man in anything but a servants capacity.


Louis opened my eyes wide and put to me a choice:  Blacks, the saying went, were ‘all right in their place’, but what was the place of such a man, and of the people from which he sprung?'”

Charles L. Black
Excerpt from Ken Burns’ Jazz Documentary

Charles L. Black went on to become a distinguished teacher of Constitutional Law at Yale and in 1954 was on the team of lawyers to convince the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education that segregating school children on the basis of race and color was unconstitutional.

Inspiring.

Valentines Day

p>I’d say we had a pretty unique Valentine’s Day:

First I gave her my gifts:

  • Put the wedding CD I created on her iPod Nano and changed the Artist to the wedding day, the album to “Scott Loves Samantha”, and changed each song album cover to a picture of us.
  • Compiled another wedding CD from all the songs I decided not to include or couldn’t because of space limitations.  Named the artist the same as above, and change the album to something else fun.
  • Bought a bunch of her favorite treats that she enjoys.

Then we went to get something to eat.  We went to some divey chili place my wife really thought was “cute” called, “Chili John’s.”  We were the only people in there.  We didn’t tell the guy it was our anniversary.

Chilijohns

Then we stopped at Smart and Final to pick up a couple things and grabbed me a box of Sour Blow Pops.

After that romantic stop we went to Baby’s-R-Us to figure out what baby stuff we need.  On the way we were treated to “I Want Your Sex by George Michael” (iPod on shuffle).

I tell ya, sometimes my iPod just NAILS the right songs at the right moment on shuffle.  For instance, I was driving in front of this long line of minorities waiting for food in the parking lot of Baby’s-R-Us.  The volume was up pretty high because the prior song was recorded pretty low.  Just as we came up on the mob of people, it switched to Ludacris’ Pimpin’ All Over the World’.  And in case you don’t know, my wife and I are glow-in-the-dark white.  Nice.

I am sure you can agree, it was one of those romantic Valentine’s Day’s you only see in the movies.

iPod with Video Fun

The one gift I got this Christmas/Channuka was a new iPod. Technically, I got several gifts that I didn't like and took them back to get it, but whatev's…I got it.

I have had an iPod since the day they came out for Windows. I mean, this thing looks vintage. It's big, its scratched up, and it is dirty. But my biggest problem is that I have WAY too much stuff to fit on its 20 gigs. I would of replaced it years ago but I knew the iPod with video was coming and decided to wait.

So I got the iPod, and the first order of business was to figure out how to get my TiVo shows on to it. This was accomplished using Engadget's Article. The basic outline is:

  1. Strip TiVo Metadata (pretty fast…about 10 minutes)
  2. Convert MPEG2 to MPEG4 (looonnng…1 hour per 1 hour?)
  3. Add into iTunes. (fast)

So that chewed up my first 10 gigs of space :(.

Now onto my music. I decided to just transfer my main music folders without really qualifying what I liked or not, just because I *thought* I would have plenty of space…NOPE. Somehow I have about 60 – 70 gigs worth of music. UUUGGGGGH.

It wasn't too bad since 10 gigs are electronic music I don't even have catalogged and 5 more is just music I don't need to have on the 'Pod. I trimmed the fat, and took it for a spin.

I noticed that although I have programs that download album art to my hardrive, not all my songs displayed them while playing on the iPod. After a little research, I figured out that you gotta embed the image in the song itself, and that is how the iPod displays them.

I looked around at different programs to download and embed the art, and settled on iPodSoft iArt. Although the iTunes Art Importer is free, I thought $10 was worth the extra ease of use and few additional features.

After I updated all the albums, I noticed iArt could also download Lyrics for all my songs. These also get embedded in the mp3. 12 hours later, that was completed.

So this morning, I was excited to view all my changes. The album art is great and worked fine. But I couldn't figure out how to view the lyrics for the life of me. With a little research I found Adding song lyrics to Ipod which states:

  1. On iPod, start playing any song to which you've added lyrics.
  2. Press the Center button repeatedly. The number of times depends on if you have artwork or not. Here's the order of things when you press the Center button:
    Play status > Scrubber > Album Art > Lyrics/Description > Rating

Wow…I had no idea those menu's were even there!

System of a Down

I have mentioned System's newest album Mezmerize before, but I was listening to it in the car and had some revelations. If you haven't heard System before, the best way I can describe them is “frantic bitch slaps”. I say this seriously, because their music will go from a more soothing, normal melody to a verbal shock of dissonant screaming (which I call the “slap”). I say “frantic” because it isn't that predictable. Just when you think you know where a song is going, he goes and screams and slaps you once again.

The band is a lot like myself at a young age. I would eat a bunch of sugar and drink some coke and I would just go OFF. One minute I would be jumping on the back of a helpless friend, the next passed out watching an after school special.

Anyway, this album is way less “slappy” than the last one, which is why I can palette it. For anyone that didn't dig their first one, I would try to listen again.

Three CD Rule

A rule I devised (yeah, I’m real smart…) that I continue to apply every day is the “Three CD Rule”. Simply put, (like there is anything hard to understand here) you must listen to a CD 3 times before you can really render an opinion. This is not to invalidate you if you hate an album right away, but you wouldn’t believe the change in your thinking if you give it more time.

I put in this rule back in my early twenties when I noticed that the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock albums I grew up loving were being left behind and I didn’t know any of the songs on the radio anymore. I was tired of telling people to change radio stations, and tired of being pissy because the music being played “sucked”. It seemed crazy for me to believe that all these new artists actually sucked, but that I was one of the only few that had figured it out. So one day, I think it was a Tuesday, I vowed to give some of these new artists a chance.

When I would try to listen to a new album, if the artist was distinctly different than the taste I liked, I wouldn’t like it, regardless of how good it was in that genre. I found that to listen to an album just once didn’t allow me to get accustomed to their new style. And the farther that style was from the one I liked, the more times I had to give it.

So when I hear that so and so has the best Rap album of this year, I give a 3 CD listen. Usually if the album is decent in its genre, by the first listen I am not cringing. The 2nd will leave me starting to like it, and the third I will be wondering how I never liked it. And If I still don’t like it, so be it.

I think this is why you see people being so narrow in their tastes. They like their type of music, and never stray far. I know that I was (and still am) a big metal head (Metallica, Megadeth, G’N’R, Iron Maiden), but now I love so much more. I still can’t pallete Mariah Carey and some of that Emo crap, but I surprise myself with artists like Josh Groban, Primus, Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake. And if you don’t like those albums, then you REALLY need the 3 CD rule! (Joking…well kinda).

Yahoo Music Engine

I have been really enjoying the Yahoo Music Engine, along with the Y! Unlimited access. With it, you can download an unlimited number of tracks and abuse them until you stop paying the monthly fee. It is exactly what Napster offers, but at 1/3 the price. You can pay $4.99 per month if you sign up for a year, or $6.99 per month.

I am an avid iTunes and CD guy, as prior posts have shown, but for only 7 bucks a month, I can discover and listen to whole albums before having to commit to buying them. You just can't fully tell if you like an album going off of 30 second clips. Now, I will only buy those albums I really love and want to take with me wherever I go.

In a way, it is kind of like a Netflix for music for me. With Netflix, I stopped buying DVD's so much because I could instead pay the price of one DVD a month and get about 20 rentals. I still buy DVD's, but less than 5 a year. Now with Yahoo, I can listen to a CD a bunch to see if it is just a one-night-stand or one to take home to the parents.

Right now I am listening to the new System of a Down – Mezmerize album. It rocks! Definately buying this one. I also got to try to “My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” which was blah, “Weezer – Make Believe” which was real good, “Limp Bizkit – Unquestionable Truth” which was hella annoying and “Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth” which was hella boring.

Deauthorize iTunes Before Reformatting

I added this to my Reinstall Windows Todo List, but felt I should devote one blog on it because of its importance.

To put it simply, iTunes allows you to play or “authorize” your music on up to 5 computers. If you reformat your machine before “deauthorizing” it, you waste one of those licenses.

As a developer that wipes his two machines every 6 – 15 months, you can eat up licenses quick. On this last install, I happened to stumble on this while looking at my account in iTunes and seeing that I had 5 computers authorized. Being as I should only have two I knew something was up. I sent apple a support request at 11 AM on a Saturday stating:

In my account it shows that I have 5 computers authorized on my account, however I only use two.

I am a developer, so I am wiping my machines every six months, so I am thinking that your software is counting each of my machines multiple times.

I have tried deauthorizing each machine multiple times, but it shows only one license per machine.

How can I fix this? Also, is there a way to just wipe all of my authorizations and start over?

In an act of fantastic customer service, at 1:45 PM they replied with:

For security reasons we generally do not perform this service. However, in this case we have made an exception. If you plan to sell or stop using a computer, be sure to deauthorize it before you no longer have access to it.

You may authorize five computers to play music purchased using your iTunes Music Store Account.

For specific instructions on how to authorize and deauthorize a computer to play your iTunes purchases please visit http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n93014.

You may also find help under the Help menu in iTunes.

Please be sure to deauthorize your computer before you sell it, give it to someone else, reformat it, or have it serviced. If you do not deauthorize the computer, it will continue to have one of your five authorizations attached to it.

Sincerely,

DavidiTunes Music Store Support

So consider yourself warned!