Haunted CDs

The first I heard about a haunted CD was with Nirvana’s Nevermind album. You put the CD in the CD player and it mostly played normally. That is until the 12th and final track. Sure it played that 4 minute song normally. However the counter for time kept going long after the song had stopped. From 4 minutes to around 13:52 it played the song of silence.

Then at 13:52 it started playing what can only be described as a heavy experimental song. This goes on for another 6 minutes or so.

I just imagine that some people just let Nevermind play, thought it was done, and then about 9 minutes later are shocked awake again. “Who is in my house?” they might think. “Where is that thrash metal coming from?” Well they have 6 minutes to figure it out.

Later came Sarah McLachlan with her Fumbling Towards Ecstasy album. Again the final track ends but the time counter keeps going in silence. There’s a few seconds of experimental music then a rest. Finally a different version of the single Possession comes on with just Sarah and the piano.

The album that got me scared for a few minutes was Undertow by Tool. When you play the tenth and final track, Disgustipated, the track numbers go from 10 to 11 to 12 to 13, etc. They just count upwards to 69.

The first time it happened to me I thought my CD player had broken and was just counting upward incorrectly. I pressed buttons frantically but nothing seemed to help. I didn’t press power. My CD player didn’t have a total number of tracks on it which would have given the trick away.

Finally the song comes on at track 69. But it is just a clicking sound every few seconds for a minute. Now I thought my CD player was permanently broke and this clicking sound was the proof. Eventually after a minute, the real song began and I realized that Tool was using tools because they are tools! Yes I am Disgustipated at them.

Cracker was a superstitious band. On their album Kerosene Hat, they would have had 13 tracks. Instead they had songs 13 and 14 be just empty tracks. The thirteenth song is number 15. The total number of songs given is 99. And past the 15th song, each track is silent for three seconds then advances to the next track. Up until track 69. Oh my. I’ve had this CD for decades and never realized this track was on it!

Already this post is a success. The song sounds like it is called Eurotrash Girl. It’s 8 minutes long. After this, the tracks went for 3 seconds of silence till number 88. This is a 6 minute song that I can’t figure out what it might be called. The next tracks go by in silence. Then track 99 is just a one and a half minute throwaway.

These were all albums from 1991 to 1993. But Coldplay decided to revive this strategy a few years ago with their album Everyday Life. I guess they decided that they really wanted 24 tracks for this album, for each hour of the day, although they just had 16 songs. So in the middle, they put 8 songs that were only a few seconds. I think 4 songs divide the one chiming of Big Ben. Like Cracker, the other four songs are 3 seconds of silence.

And that my friends is what a haunted CD is like. If you know of anymore, please inform me about them.

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What’s Left Over

I have two brothers who are left handed and also play the guitar. They do this in the normal way. That is they conform to right handed guitars and play them the right handed way. That is the left hand is for fret work, and the right hand is for strumming and picking.

Myself and Stephen Huss used to write songs and jam. He was also left handed. But he refused to conform in a right handed world and had himself a left handed guitar.

I regret that I never brought up my fire breathing dragon guitar idea to Stephen while he was still alive. With him and a left handed dragon guitar, our guitar flames could face each other. Maybe we’d even bring back glam rock. We could have had on stage guitar playing battles that were reflected in our flames and guitar posturing.

Anyhow, I think I could have gotten at least a laugh out of Stephen, thinking about this.

Stephen also played keyboards. He played a normal keyboard, not a left handed one. This made me wonder if there were any left handed keyboards around. In other words, those that have the low notes on the right and the higher notes on the left.

The internet is riddled with articles saying that left handed keyboards are an abomination. That keyboards don’t favour right or left hands – you have to use both anyhow.

Poppycock! I’ve seen people play the piano before and play some myself. Almost always the lead is done with your right hand and the more simple bass lines are done by your left hand. It is obvious that songs, as written, favour the right handed player on the normal keyboard.

I think that some right handed players want things to stay the way they are so they can play any keyboard they see. I’m a guitarist. I resigned myself to not being able to play Stephen’s guitar. It’s not hard. After all it was his guitar. I shouldn’t be playing it without permission anyhow.

I would also like to see left handed keytars. After all there could be similar fire breathing dragon get ups just as easily as with a guitar. Then I could have a band with 4 fire breathing dragon instruments, 2 guitars, bass and a keytar. Suddenly drums will seem relatively boring. Or flammable.

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Ripping Off Album Buyers

The recording industry has been ripping off music album buyers for a long time. It all started a very long time ago with greatest hits packages. There are always one or two of the very biggest hits left off the album. So it isn’t the act’s greatest hits. For instance, after buying two double albums of the Beatles greatest hits, I defy you to tell me where “Twist and Shout” is on the compilation. With greatest hits packages you always have to buy at least one more album.

The first act I know to rip you off the following way is Led Zeppelin. No amount of album buying can save you from what they did. Even if you have a complete set of their albums, you do not have the song “Hey Hey What Can I Do” which to my ears, could have been a single in its own right.

I guess singles sales weren’t high enough at the time because they put it on the B side of the single “Immigrant Song”. Now, Immigrant Song is off Led Zeppelin III. The rest of the album sucks. I do however like Hey Hey What Can I Do. So, if knowing all this before buying, I’d buy the single of the Immigrant Song instead of Led Zeppelin III. And I’d save myself some money in the process.

I guess the recording industry tried to make it back up to us with the advent of the CD. A lot of albums from that era are 55 or 60 minutes. Compare this with the 40 minutes standard of the record album.

But one thing that can’t be seen easily is that very, very few acts are ever capable of making solid albums of that length. The only two that I thought gave it a good go were Nirvana with Nevermind and Pearl Jam with Ten. Even though most of these songs were solid, the unrelenting harshness of these two albums does not make me want to listen to a full hour of it.

So, because of the return of the 40 minute album, more great albums have arisen.

Now we are in the era of streaming. Basically everything gets put up for streaming. But if this is the focus, why are acts still trying to rip off us album purchasers?

Yes 40 minute albums are better. But in my eyes less can be seen as laziness. Recently Olivia Rodrigo had success with a 33 minute album. And Bastille just tried a 32 minute album on the public. Now I don’t know about Olivia Rodrigo but Bastille has “extra” songs in streaming that I would have liked to be on this album. I feel ripped off.

But the worst offender has got to be Imagine Dragons and their latest ploy. Last year they released an album called Mercury Act I. This year they released a double album called Mercury Acts I and II. It’s the price of a double album. It includes the full first album. And nowhere do you see Mercury Act II by itself. I don’t want to buy an album I already have for the 2nd time. So I haven’t as yet. Thus we are stuck in a stalemate. It’s me and the recording industry in a great big stand off. F U Interscope Records!

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The Modern Midas

We’ve all heard the story of King Midas who was granted the power of the Midas touch. That’s where everything he touched turned to gold. At first he wanted this power and saw it as a blessing. Then he realizes it’s a curse and everything he loves must not be touched or they, too, will turn to gold.

But let’s analyze this a bit more. When he gets this power he was likely clothed. And he was touching his clothes. His clothes never changed to gold because gold is hard and wouldn’t allow him to move easily as clothing. Gold is one of the densest substances on Earth and would also weigh him down terribly.

I think it’s safe to say his clothing never turns to gold. Thus it is only his exposed hands that have the Midas touch. He could run around touching many many things that would sell for a large value if they were gold.

Then he can pay for a doctor and hospital bills. He will need to have his hands severed off or even possibly his arms to have no chance of changing a loved one into gold.

Maybe he should sever his hands in a well guarded part of the castle. Perhaps the Midas touch works after the hands have been severed and people can touch things to the hands and they too will be turned to gold. The king will be so rich, he won’t ever need real hands again.

He can use artificial limbs and maybe one day there will be robotic hands that can be wired to the brain so he can control them as he once did his real hands.

The original Midas story was a powerful moral tale. Telling this in modern times is more likely to get an expression of “Meh.”

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A is for Female

About half the female names in English end in the letter A. I was oblivious to this until I noticed it when the song Mambo #5 was a hit. In that song, every single female’s name rattled off ends in an A except Mary. And that name contains an A.

It’s not just English. I can think of many foreign female names that end in A. I think it is an Indo-European family of languages thing. Maybe it’s even a worldwide thing. Regardless, a lot of female names end in A.

But what struck me was that the last name Taylor was being given out as a first name almost exclusively to females. And the last name Tyler was being given as a first name almost exclusively to males. They’re both surnames and as such can be male or female. Is that A denoting female names even when it’s not the last letter?

I found other female names that when the A disappeared became male names. I change the spelling in the following to the most common spelling of the male name:

Addison becomes Dyson, Alessa becomes Les, Bailey becomes Billy, Bertha becomes Bert, Gayle becomes Giles, Joan becomes Jon, Kayla becomes Kyle and Layla becomes Lyle.

If you are hoping to find rarer male names that are English words, we then have our next list:

Alice becomes Lice, Amy becomes My, Athena becomes Then, Avery becomes Very, Carol becomes Crawl, Charo becomes Crow, Diana becomes Din, Elsa becomes Else, Ida becomes Id, Laura becomes Lore, Maud becomes Mud, Maura becomes More, and May becomes My.

If you are wondering why the names stop halfway through the alphabet it is because figuring these things out takes a lot of time so I stopped at M.

But what about those female names that exist both with an A and without an A?

Like Gisella and Giselle, Helena and Helen, and Julia and Julie?

Maybe Giselle, Helen and Julie are very masculine women.

Which brings us straight to the question that aren’t males, with an A or two in their name, effeminate? As a Larry, I have to say decidedly not! I am masculine in every way. Don’t let the long hair fool you. Oh. The long hair.

Well if that’s true, I’m going to throw Giselle, Helen, and Julie under the bus of masculinity.

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Are You a Speciesist?

Do you love one species over another? Then you are a speciesist. The law is speciesist. There are many protections for homo sapiens but few protections for other animals by comparison.

And way back I bet we were really speciesist. The fact there are no neanderthals or Denisovans left I think speaks to a real bias among our ancestors. It is my belief that they were on a campaign to deliberately wipe neanderthals and denisovans out. And they succeeded.

And I really wonder about people who say they love animals. Surely there is a cutoff somewhere. Amoebas are just too small to see. Or even sense unless we are using scientific equipment. Why make ourselves responsible for their lives and deaths?

I feel no guilt when I kill an insect. Cockroaches and fruit flies and houseflies and locusts can end up almost taking over a place. Because of this I feel no guilt when I kill any of these creatures. Indeed I feel a little satisfaction. My satisfaction is only tempered by the fact I didn’t get them all. I for sure am a speciesist in this regard.

I heed arguments that honey bees are helpful in agriculture. But when they come around me I freak out just a little to make sure they don’t sting me. And if they get into my house, I am on a mission to kill them. I’m a bit speciesist about all insects.

Maybe I’m better with mammals. But mammals include rodents. Mice and rats are known for spreading disease. And with no real predators in Australia, plagues of them are the result. Much like insects, these creatures need to be killed. I’m a speciesist here, too.

I also think Alberta is a bit nuts here in the fact they kill any rats in their province. So much so that they say their province is entirely rat free. A rat population under control is enough for me. I don’t need Alberta’s level of perfection.

And beavers are rodents. This hardworking animal that doesn’t spread disease can be a nuisance when their dams flood land. But that flooding can be managed. So I leave these guys alone.

I have no qualms about dangerous predators being killed. I’m in the lowlands of southern Ontario and don’t mind the fact that whenever a black bear makes it into this area, it makes the television news. That’s how rare it is. So I can hike with a high confidence that no creature will kill me.

I am also a meat eater. I admire vegetarians and vegans for their restraint. Unfortunately they must be more aware about their diets to remain healthy. I admit it, I’m not willing to think about my food so much. For me it’s easier to remain a meat eater. Still I have more meals than I used to that are vegetarian or vegan.

I do wonder about vegetarians and vegans owning dogs or cats. It’s my understanding that both types of animals need meat to survive. I can imagine the nervous twitches on these people when they feed such pets. Or maybe this is the type of person that owns birds?

Anyhow, I’m a speciesist, you’re a speciesist, everyone’s a speciesist. At least a little it seems. If you are not, I’d love to hear how you do it!

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The Colours of Wealth

Centuries ago, they didn’t have an inexpensive dye for purple. But they did for the rest of the spectrum. So only rich people could afford purple clothes. The colour became associated with wealth. Royalty and nobles alike used to like to show off their purple clothes which the poor could never have.

But eventually purple dyes became cheaper. So the rich no longer cared for purple clothes to set themselves apart. Soon a new colour became associated with wealth.

The Americans began printing green money in 1861. They used green so it wasn’t in black and white and couldn’t be counterfeited by photography. By the time cameras that could shoot colour came into existence, the greenback was an institution. So in America green became the colour of money.

Even in Canada, green is known as the colour of money although our currency is multi-coloured. I can’t help but note that the Rosedale subway stop in Toronto is in one of the wealthiest areas of Toronto. Each subway stop is made a different colour. And Rosedale’s is green. It is much like the colour on the American currency.

So I would argue that green became the colour of wealth after purple’s long reign.

But lately a new colour has emerged as the colour of wealth. Trump is orange from the tips of his hair to the tips of his toes. His dyed orange hair is part of this. But most of it is from his skin’s fake orange tan. Only someone with money to burn would pay for things that make them look worse. And Trump does this willingly.

Expect orange to catch on with the wealthy. I’m certain that Trump’s bills and other legislation made it easier for the rich to make a buck. As well he probably cut back on taxes to the wealthy. Sure Donald was only thinking of himself but this also applies to those who make tons of money or whose relatives make lots of money. Trump’s style could be taken up by these people. Cheeto orange could become the new colour of wealth.

But the wealthy are typecasting themselves. Purple, green and orange are the secondary colours. That is, they are the colours that aren’t necessary because they can be made up of two primary colours. All you really need are the three primary colours of red, blue and yellow. Are the wealthy unnecessary parasites?

Maybe. There is talk about how extremely wealthy men are improving space travel. I do like to laugh at this because 53 years ago the government made it to the moon. And still, private enterprise hasn’t matched this feat. Don’t give me the BS that private enterprise is better than government when it is most decidedly not.

Like leeches on society, those extremely wealthy men are not paying 50% taxes on their money like they should. If they were, the government could use that money to come up with all the innovations that the private spacecraft companies have. But then we wouldn’t be able to congratulate Bezos, Musk and Branson for their “accomplishments”.

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Yet Another Grab Bag o’ Humour

Dean R. Koontz is a great horror writer. So much so that I think it is only natural to call him the king of horror writers. Some might protest but I think that history will bear me out on this one.

One obscure rejection of this I will take on. Some of you might call Stephen King the king of horror writers. But this argument I’d like to chain up, throw in a locked cage and sink under water where it belongs, never to be seen by humans again. There’s a big difference between the name King and the title of king. I would like to take those people to task for calling King king again.

Don’t you think that Stephen King is tired of being cast as a real king all his life? Open the box in your mind and set him free once and for all. Let Koontz be the king of horror.

* * *

Have you been hoodwinked into accepting gut flora as something current and scientific? Well it’s not. For the gut bacteria to be flora they need to photosynthesize in a place where the sun don’t shine. Since this is not possible, they aren’t flora. Start using the term gut microbiome. It’s longer but we’ll catch on to it eventually.

* * *

Remember real jobs used to include working in a factory. Have you worked in a factory lately? The vast majority of the people I know certainly don’t. These real jobs disappeared and hardly anyone does them anymore. They’re hardly the career they once were.

How about working on something like the Simpsons? A flaky job if ever there was one. But wait, it’s been going since 1989 which in general makes it a career for those who began with it. There are other shows following suit, too.

But that’s LaLa land. How about right here in my area of Ontario? Acting jobs on the stage are quite common here. There’s the Drayton company of theatres that have sprung up in small towns and even in Cambridge. There’s the Blyth Festival which showcases Canadian plays. There’s the Stratford Festival which has Shakespearean plays as well as others. There’s the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. And I haven’t even included any of the big Toronto shows which are also a reasonable drive away. People live as actors without even leaving my area of Ontario. Flaky jobs? Not so flaky anymore.

* * *

In my early days, I was brought up in a Lutheran Church, And not once do I remember Satan being brought up. Not in the sermons and not in Sunday School. It’s quite easy for me to imagine Christianity without any Satan.

Indeed, now I think that Satan was added as an after thought. Not because we need to have a Hell. But because we can now curse someone out when things go wrong, After all, cursing out God might lead to no good.

“Thank you, Satan!” er that is “Curse you, Satan!”

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Generation Non Violence

Despite the hippie-trippy peace and love thing, the Baby Boomers were decidedly not the non violence generation. Indeed they were the opposite of that. In their time of youth, roughly when they were about 18-30, was the prime time for muggings. Remember muggings? They were a regular thing in the 70s. Muggings are a physical assault or a threatened physical assault for the purpose of robbing someone. Peace and love? The irony is pretty heavy.

Statistics all over North America show that violent crime was at its peak during the Baby Boomers’ youth. Then there was a long decline in violence that continued from the end of the Baby Boomers’ youth all the way until a handful of years ago when violent crime began to escalate again.

So which generation was responsible for the dropping numbers? The numbers dropped during Gen X’s youth. Of course there should have been a drop anyway as there were fewer Gen Xers. But the continued decline is more than the scant numbers of Gen X youth would attest. Gen Xers as it turns out were less violent than the preceding generation.

I’ve been racking my brain for reasons but I only have come up with one that makes sense. The Baby Boomers had fewer adults per each youth. Adults over 30 who could help put the Boomers on the right path. Gen X, in North America was also known as the Baby Bust. There were more adults over 30 for each Gen X youth. Supervising the youth over this time was easier.

Why Millennials kept up the non violence of Gen X, I don’t know. Maybe it was the complete eradication of violence as a punishment in schools. Or the gradual disappearance of corporal punishment at homes in favour of the famous time out. Maybe participation trophies actually do help society at large.

Why violence has started to increase in Gen Z, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the thought that they might be the last generation ever. (As noted by their end of the alphabet moniker.) But honestly, Gen Z, it just started with Gen X being the unknown generation. X stands for unknown. Millennials were very early on known as Gen Y. Thus you were known as Gen Z. Don’t ask me what they will tag the next generation with.

Anyhow Generation Non Violence could be Gen X’s new moniker. As a Gen X member, I would love to see an agreed upon name for my generation instead of the placeholder Gen X. Gen Z start suggesting names now for your generation or you will be stuck with a placeholder name for most of your lives.

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Bodybuilders in Space

Bodybuilders in space might seem like a pipe dream to you but there is one reason why it might happen. Astronauts in significantly longer trips than to the Moon (like to Mars) will need to exercise at least 4 hours a day.

The reason for this is because people lose bone density when they are under weightlessness. Exercise slows this progression. More exercise means it is slowed even more. Bodybuilders are known for their exercise tolerance. So maybe they will be the first ones sent to Mars.

Otherwise, the first words we hear from Mars could be, “That’s one small step for a AIEEE! man , one broken leg for a man!”

Bodybuilders may be a natural, but they have this nasty habit of preferring to exercise with free weights. “No,” their commanders will tell them. “You must exercise with resistance bands.”

The argument will go on for a long time. Then the commanders will say, “Absolutely not. Every kilogram of mass means it’s more expensive and harder to lift the rocket.”

“Are you saying you want scrawny bodybuilders, too? That’s it. I’m out.”

It would seem that the bodybuilders to Mars program is over. But the commander will have one more trick up his sleeve.

“Have you thought about doing a space walk while en route? In it you can touch the outside of the rocket and say you are going to bench press the whole thing without the bench. Just move your arms like you are bench pressing the rocket and have the selfie camera filming it like you are at rest and the rocket moves.”

“But everyone will know it’s a trick.”

“And you can say it’s a law of physics. Each time you pressed the rocket it moved a tiny bit. It’s all relative you might say. They might even think you know something about relativity.”

“I know. I’ll say work out smarter, not harder. I’ll get my own chain of gyms and become a national icon.”

With that settled they only had to fiddle with the details.

But no matter how hard they fiddled, the bodybuilder refused any exercise except free weights.

And that’s why there will be no bodybuilders in space.

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