Category Archives: interweb

Indulged by the glimmer from Gypsy Star

I was on the Music Tampa Bay website yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an indie rock/music station in the Tampa Bay metro area (96.7 FM). I’ve interacted with the site before as I helped get the Pretty Voices on air on the station.

One key element on the Music Tampa Bay website is a Top-10 list of songs from local artists. It’s also directly tied to voting on the Top-40 of the station. I was looking at the list specifically to see if the Pretty Voices had any tracks listed at the time (nope). None of the listed artists or bands were familiar to me and that’s regularly the case with me and indie music.

What’s also regularly the case with me is checking out an indie artist because… why the hell not?

So, listed at #1 at the time on the Top-40 list was Gypsy Star, “I Feel Love”.  I jumped to Google and typed that in and instead of pointing to a version of “I Feel Love” on YouTube, it pointed to the song Paramour:

All too often what I hear and what I see is bland rock. It’s not the lyrcs that make it bland, it’s just the non-riff of guitar and everything layered on top of each other to make the tunes forgettable. This was not that. I was taken aback by a violinist and accordion being part of the arrangement. Gypsy Star describes themselves as being “dynamic folk / rock” and this sure as shit felt like it. It transfixed me through Monday night.

Yet, listening to the opening of the song again, familiarity crept in. I’ve heard another variation of this before, haven’t I? Listen to the song alone for a minute, without the show distraction.  Think about it for a minute.

It reminded me squarely of a song that “you can check out any time you like, but you can never” leave:

Don’t take that as a criticism, folks. I highly recommend checking out more of their tunes; they just released the album Under the Moonlit Night  in January. Listening to “Paramour” and checking out some of their other songs (like the previously mentioned “I Feel Love”, you can find “I Feel Love” here, it is on YouTube… Not in concert version) I’ve been left curious and surprised. Gypsy Star is only a Tampa Bay local group? They sure as hell look an sound like a group that should be seeing a broader playing area in Florida, in the US and perhaps around the globe.

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Film questions and opinionated answers that are one in Filmillion

A month ago, a little further back perhaps, I saw a post on Reddit pointing to a new web site that vowed it would predict the movie you were thinking of in 30 questions or so. Filmillion piqued my curiosity, so I gave it a whirl (more than once) and was left frustrated and disappointed. That’s not because of how well the site performed but by how flawed its questions (and movie guesses tend to be.

If there have been any database improvement or other site modifications to combat flaws isn’t something known by me. What is known is that I gave the site another run for the sake of writing this article. If it leads you to wanting to try it yourself remains to be seen, but here’s what I dealt with and the outcome.

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And down the stretch they come….! Thoughts on the Tampa Bay Lightning as the NHL season wanes

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Listens and flaws are found at Spotalike

It’s easy to come to a dead end when you’re trying to find more music of a certain sound, temp, or variety. I’ve posted requests for song suggestions before as proof of that. Suggestions can lead to other people’s tastes from a wide variety of performers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into you willingly following through on suggestions… Especially if you don’t know the artists.

There’s a tool out there on the web that I crossed last weekend, called Spotalike. It’s got a winter holiday motif that you need to ignore, that and it’s powered by way of Spotify. Simple directions: if you put a song/artist in the entry field, it’ll produce a list of what it considers similar songs. The first three entries tend to be by the same artist while what follows is a variety from other artists. What sold me on the entire tool is how I would enter songs from an easy-listening playlist that I have, and some of the first suggestions would be other songs from the list. The right similarity was there.

I also know it’s not perfect, though….

I like Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen; throw it in that easy-listen playlist because of the light music (side note: I need to find Bruce’s Oscar performance of the song where he played piano).

The problem here is Spotalike’s first suggestion. Born in the USA is a rocker with a strong beat, heavy lyrics and of course the famous chorus chant that people fixate on. There are others produced in the top 10 results that fit the bill (Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, One by U2) and others that make me shake my head and say “no” (I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith).  I guess this list is just proof no playlist suggested can be perfect, but some songs fit while others just seem to be a reach.

Yet the results for “Streets” aren’t what led to this post, no, no. I went with an early 1990’s rocker by one of the top axe men in music, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz:

That was off a top album in 1993 (but failed to crack the Billboard Top 100). The attitude, the energy, the guitar work by Lenny, it’s just fantastic. Is it a one-of-a-kind ode? Arguable; there are plenty of songs that could be suggested just for guitar work and early 90’s popularity (Green Day and Basket Case as well as Longview immediately come to mind).

Yet one-of-a-kind is how Spotalike seems to be looking at it as it stands. Upon entering the song and going for the results, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is the only song result. No playlist gets generated. It’s one thing for that to happen with an indie band (Pretty Voices are on Spotalike, for example, but don’t generate results) but for someone who has been so prominent in popular music and rock and roll to get brushed off? That’s either a flaw in the system, a business conflict between the powers-that-be and Kravitz’s camp or just an outright disrespect towards a musician someone at Spotalike doesn’t like. I’m going to side with the flaw factor. I’m sure it pops up with some other songs by popular artists.

This shouldn’t hold sway over you using Spotalike or not; there’s too much music out there to get hung up on flaws and misgroupings. So much music and so few quality suggestion tools exist. The system can’t be perfect but it seems like Spotalike is sound to one decree or another.

 

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The Beatles video, “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, missing in action no more

It’s arguable to write that the greatest song the Beatles ever recorded and didn’t release as a single was “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, which was released in 1965 on the album “Help!”. It’s a standard Lennon/McCartney scribed ode that has ties to “She Loves You” as if it were a sequel. I write that point here but I don’t link because trying to find the source I read has been fruitless (this line will be deleted if I do find the link). There are only two words on record for any member of the Fab Four speaking about the song: John Lennon told Playboy in 1980, “That’s me.” You can find more in-depth coverage of the song here. There are touches on other facts about Lennon / McCartney and history that may pique your interest.

I was introduced to the Fab Four in 1985 when my father won a VHS tape of “Help!” from 101 WCBS FM in New York. I was skittish and disinterested at first in watching as the tape opened up with the black-and-white trailer to “A Hard Day’s Night”, the film the Beatles made in 1964. Black-and-white film and disjointed snippets of Beatle songs from the movie just didn’t win me over (and what would you expect? I was 5 or 6 years old at the time). I fidgeted, I tried getting up, but my father put his hands on my shoulders and sat me down.

Then “Help!” started, with actor Leo McKern reciting cult tidings in what amounted to an execution ceremony. Though it was a dark setting, the color blazed (in comparison to that “A Hard Day’s Night” trailer and my interest ticked up. One thing led to another in the film and McKern’s character of Clang bellowed to his cult sect that surrounded him, “Where is the ring?! Search her! What has she done with the ring?!” The cult cried repeatedly “The ring?!” in response and then… then…

Then you see the fabled ring, a large red gemstone on a standard gold band. It just so happens to be on the hand of drummer Ringo Starr as a performance of the song “Help!” gets underway (in black-and-white… which meant nothing to me at this point) and truly the movie began as the Beatles performed “Help!”.

There were seven songs performed in the movie, with “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” being my favorite. Heck, viewing the film a second time, I remember my brothers and I rewinding the video to replay the song and sing along with it. We were won over. That’s not to say “Help!” didn’t win us over, or “Ticket to Ride”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, “I Need You” (George Harrison’s first composed song), “The Night Before, or “Another Girl”. It’s just the memory of this song in particular.

Director Richard Lester played with lighting but did a simple in-studio scene with John, Paul, George and Ringo. The hues and colors vary and smoke plays into scenes (hey, smoking was hip back then Ringo is doing it in some scenes of the song). I’d put this song, as a video; well ahead of the majority of music videos that also play the studio scene. And seeing it’s been 52 years since the damn thing was recorded, that should tell the music video director sect out there to raise their game.

You can’t find the song on YouTube though, and the simple Google search (which now produces extensive info results for most songs) only shows you amateurs playing.

Is there a business contrast playing out between Apple Corps LTD (the Beatles company) and Google? I don’t know. What I do know is that I started this write up fixated on not being able to find the videos from “Help!” on YouTube. Only a fraction of the movie performance of “You’re going to Lose That Girl” can be found.

A re-worded my web search just a tad (with quotation marks: “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” video, Help!) and lo and behold I found what has been missing via Vimeo.

“You’re Going To Lose That Girl” from Merritt Mullen on Vimeo.

Will it remain on the site? Dunno, though it’s 4 year lifespan tells me that it’s going to stay. You can find a low quality version of “Ticket to Ride” on there, as well as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (standard quality). The other songs are missing / have mixed in content.

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by | March 8, 2017 · 12:33 PM

The all-too-commmon ill communications of online dating

There’s one thing that tops every little caveat you can find ion someone’s profile on a dating site. Communications can top all, though it won’t lead to dating or a romantic relationship in some cases (all those caveats do play in to things that way), but it can be a positive and fulfilling experience for people participating in the shot-in-the-dark known as online dating.

It’s socializing, and it’s a necessity in life as well as trying to make headway with a stranger.

It’s not supposed to be a rare feat or a ungodly challenge, but it seems to be getting that way. In my experience, at least. While I’ve been on a multitude of dating sites oer the years, what has turned into a rarity is actually a back-and-forth message exchange. In fact, right now, I’m on Match.com (the top of the dating site pops… or at least the business leader of the game) and while I’ve been on it since October, I have not had a woman reply to a message I send them. While I’ve had women reach out to me on dating attempts in the past, none have attempted such in yyears.

It’s noteworthy the women who did reach out to me are still in my life (well, all sans one who I had a bad date with). All are friends. That’s an aspect of these dating attempts (or socializing attempts) that people ought to accept: The fact just talking to someone might earn you a friendship with someone who you hadn’t known before.

Yet socializing is a no-no, I guess. Are guys now supposed to come off like horny jerks and just go “Hey, babycakes! I like your smile and your profile piques me! Let’s get together and see how hot we  can make it”? It sure as shit should be more than “Hi, how are you?” which keeps a person blank in the simple socializing attempt.

What would be nice, I not negative, is simply a “No thanks” or reply of some sorts that indicates there is no chatter going to happen after sendcing a message. Is it rude? Not when I compare it to the silence that rules the roost. It’s still socializing, it’s also shutting the door that you’re just trying to crack open.

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The road to recovery becomes the highway to…where?

I’m choked up upon reflection this afternoon. I just had physical therapy formally end. Therapy that was assigned to me after the shit hit the fan in December 2016. It’s also exactly one week after I met the surgeon who saved my life on Dec. 6th, my opportunity to express my gratitude to the exact man who is a direct and true hero for my life.

Delusions had me thinking I really was dead in the immediate aftermath of emergency brain surgery. Logic, reality and time have made me wonder just how the hell I survived. Knowing my condition, the infamous genetic disorder NF2, and my medical neglect in recent years (lack of MRIs and communication with my doctors), it just mounted things against me.

Unfortunately, I have other things against me now that logic and reality sway before me in a mocking sense all the time. Lack of social interaction, lack of romance, lack of work, little productivity, empty dreaming of achievement…

Last time I dealt with these morale haphazards was the winter of 2003-04. John J. Fonts Esq., the formal version of my cutesy nickname, was once again recovering from necessary surgery. This time, the catastrophe looming without surgery or with a screw-up during the cut-cut was paralysis. That was defeated, say thank you and praise the maker.  What got me away from that maize of morale post-op was web design, sports and being a pioneer of the NHL blogosphere with the birth of the Tampa Bay Lightning blog Boltsmag.com. Boltsmag has turned into Raw Charge on SB Nation; you can find my old posts through the archives. It may not be an easy feat though. The site’s birthday is February 13th. Next week.

That was then though, this is now. And even then, the site did not financially show accomplishment to me (meaning ads, which I hate, did not pay me back or something). It did give me something to focus on in my unique voice as a writer, but it (and Raw Charge) were not much of a rewarding time investment.

Creativity and writing may still be where I go from here; I’ve been working on a potential book of poetry. It would be stuff I’ve written for the past 20+ years. I’ve also toyed around with lyrical verse and trying to get music made to turn it into song. I don’t know how to have a legit career as a lyricist but that would be an adventure worth taking for this man of rhyme and reason.

I’ve survived, yet I’m lost. I’m happy to be here but I’m in a foul spot of ugh, hold the pickle. What comes next may be nothing, it may be grand, and it may be a fulfilling whisper that makes me feel accomplished. Whatever the answer is, it is still in the process of becoming.

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Filed under Boltsmag, interweb, Medical, Raw Charge, The Life

Plenty of Fish and the Upgrade scam

When I was on Plenty of Fish in 2016, I “Upgraded” my account. That upgrade was just affording me a little more access to the site with profiles and this-and-that.

Between the lack of responses to social attempts and other judgments against POF, I cancelled my account in early fall. Done and over with. I move on.

Except in the payment area.  POF has charged me – twice – since cancellation to continue the “Upgrade” subscription (despite the fact I no longer have an account with them).Every 3 months I will be charged $38.75.

I emailed POF’s highlighted Customer Service email address (cs@plentyoffish.com) and lo-and-behold these two key areas of the email:

If you are an upgraded user, or have question about one of your payments, please send us a new email from the email address registered to your Upgraded POF account.

Replies to this email will be automatically deleted.

 

So, in essence, a customer service line that vows to ignore you? Pleasant, no?

Calling POF or your pay line (be it your bank, PayPal, or credit card company) may or may not get this resolved. In my case, I’m hearing impaired – while I can hear, I’m horrible with the phone.

Update 1: I contacted support again from another email address, this time I got no auto-response so someone may actually respond. The fact they weren’t clear about how my email wasn’t registered with their DB (when contacting from my original address) is an eye-rolling frustration-.

Update 2: Never a word back from POF after two emails sent over the past week. Great Customer Service, eh?

Update 3 [final update]: It’s 2:30 PM on Friday, Feb. 17 and I just received a refund notification and a payment suspension via PayPal.com. No direct response from POF. While this brings back th emoney taken by POF and stops the auto-rebill, it’s still a degree of cold social on their part. Never the less, mission accomplished.

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Airplay and fans for a certain band

Since August 2016 the Pretty Voices have been available on Jango to listen to. It’s already a subject that’s been touched on around here but what I’m going for now is to note something about the site that better reflects listening habits: Popularity.

There have been 17 total tracks made available from two albums; the pretty voices ep and Jangular. The latter album was released in May of 2016 while the former was released in December 2010. The band has really been pushing Jangular pretty consistently and my inclusion of their debut EP album wasn’t requested but I did feel like the rock fans wouldn’t mind hearing the whole enchilada and not just the most recent album.

I can’t say airplay has been consistent on my part. Two tracks have over 600 airings (Radishes and Control) while there’s one track that has only gotten 10 airings (Nancy Boy). Popularity does have a bit of influence over airings though; Radishes has 12 “fans” while the song that leads Pretty Voices on the network is El Camino with 14 fans (fans or the more common Facebook “Likes”).

I could keep sharing information here but let’s just go to the data and work from there. Note, this is listed by popularity order (most popular).

Song Name Album Plays Fans  
El Camino Jangular 577 14
Radishes Jangular 613 12
Grease Fire the pretty voices ep 443 10
Haircut Jangular 581 10
Crackle Pop Jangular 574 8
Control Jangular 662 8
House Party Jangular 371 7
Britney Jangular 572 6
Senius Genius Jangular 513 5
Hush Yer Mouth the pretty voices ep 220 3
First Rate the pretty voices ep 110 2
Uphill Tack Jangular 147 2
Pin Prick the pretty voices ep 100 2
Lost Weekend the pretty voices ep 120 1
I Found the Essence Rare Jangular 124 0
Mean Song Jangular 140 0
Nancy Boy the pretty voices ep 10 0

 

With the exception of Grease Fire, the pretty voices ep’s tracks haven’t had its content played much. Pin Prick has only gotten 100 plays (despite earning fans), so keep that in mind with the lack of plays for Nancy Boy.

All of this is more airplay than what happens with people surfing around YouTube. While I recently added the pretty voices ep tracks to YouTube, the tracks from Jsngular have been out there for a while with scant use.  Does that hinder the songs? No, it just shows that people have different habits with listening than using YouTube.

Nancy Boy will get more airings, as will other tracks in time…  but for the meantime, El Camino is ruler (online) of the band.

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Where on Reddit to promote your hockey writing

As one of the longest tenured bloggers tied to the sport of hockey (well, at least up until a few days ago when I stopped for the most part), I’d like to take a moment to try to make mention of a category on Reddit where you can have feature content from your blog posted.

If you’re a fan of the NHL or the sport of ice hockey in general, you’re going to go with the no-brainer of /r/hockey, which is the top spot for hockey coverage on Reddit…. and it gets bogged down with at-the-moment coverage, chatter, videos, etc.

Promoting feature writing, though? There’s a subreddit aimed specifically for doing that (though few people are posting within the group) called /r/hockeywriters.  Yeah, the name makes you think that this is specifically for The Hockey Writers authors, but it’s not specifically for them (unless I missed a memo).  It’s to help promote content from hockey bloggers who do feature write-ups on just about any network.

If you’re looking just for feedbavck (and that’s the last post done on the group), it’s probably wiser to post the request on a different group.  If you’re looking to promote a specific write-up you’ve done? Or promote a featured article written that you enjoy (not news — feature article) that sellsyou on the author of the piece, then /r/hockeywriters may be the place to go.

Downside: Less than 100 subscribers at this point. That can be remedied, can’t it?

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