Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What was the first album you ever got and why is it special?

Simple question for anyone who stumbled on to my small blog:

What was the first album you ever got and why is it special?

I grew up with older parents and popular music simply wasn't part of my family's
everyday life. I can't remember my parents owning any records, let alone buying
music.   In hindsi9ght that was kind of strange since my father had started his
professional career working for a radio station and he had a lifelong passion
for audio equipment. He owned a surprisingly impressive stereo system, including
a preamp, tuner, turntable, reel-to-reel, and speakers.  I just don't remember
him ever using any of it.   My mother played violin and had sung in the church
choir.  Yeah, we all listened to the radio, but that was different than actually
going out and buying music.  Against that backdrop, my first album purchase
remains a clear memory; almost a rite of passage.

My family had just moved back to the States after five years in Germany (my Dad
worked for the Department of Defense and we moved a lot).  I had just entered
high school and one of our new neighbors had two sons.  James my age (and just
as dorky as I was).  The other son Chris was a couple of years older.  He owned
a decent stereo system, had a nice looking girlfriend, drove the family's old
Jeep Cherokee, and had accumulated at least 100 albums.  Hanging out with James
brought me into Chris' realm of influence and he took notice of my fascination
with his stereo.  He was nice enough to show me his stereo and introduce me to
some of the bands he liked.  In hindsight there was a bunch of MOR dribble in
his collection.  I remember he was a big John Denver fan and had a bunch of the
man's albums.  No criticism intended, but not my cup of tea.  He had some more
contemporary stuff; James Gang, Paul McCartney and Wings, and he owed ... 



"The Beatles 1967-70" ...  The Blue Album.  I'd heard Beatles
songs over the years; I'd even seen "Yellow Submarine",
but I'd never heard their catalog in such a concentrated
form - 28 classic tunes, spread over four sides.  And Chris
was generous enough to let me borrow the LP.  I remember
slapping the LP on the family stereo and just being mesmerized by the sound.   I kept it about a week and the returned it, knowing I had to get my own copy.





The closest record store (yes they existed in the mid-70s) was in Herndon,
Virginia.  I remember grabbing a $10 bill out of my piggy bank, hopping on my
Schwinn 10 speed bike and riding the old B&W bike path to the Herndon Penguin
Feather.   My school bus drove by this establishment every day, but I'd never
actually been in the place.   The store was actually in an old converted,
ramshackle white house.  About half of the space was devoted to music and the
other half was what you'd refer to as a head shop.  As a 15 year old I was
pretty clueless about that part of their business.   Well, I got to Penguin
Feather, walked in, started pawing through their stacks while trying not to
choke on the overwhelming scent of patchouli and there it was.  A sealed copy of
"The Blue Album".  I think I paid $7.00 for it.  I hadn't been smart enough to
bring a backpack with me, so I stuffed the album in my shirt and peddling home. 
When I got home, I  opened it up and can still remember the s
hock and pleasure discovering my $7 had bought me a clear blue vinyl copy of
the album.  It just looked so cool.

My first album.   I owned it for forty year.  I played it dozens of times over
that period; each time with loving care.  Along with thousands of other albums,
I  had actually listed it for sale years ago.  When it finally sold right before
Christmas I felt a deep sense of regret packing it up for shipment.   I almost
cancelled the order, but ultimately did not.  The irony is a couple of weeks
later I stumbled into a used LP store (there are still a couple in Northern
Virginia), and found a VG+ copy of the album, complete with blue vinyl.   I
snapped it up and think this one will stay in my permanent collection.   It's
hard to explain, but I'm now in my mid-50s, but holding "The Blue Album" in my
hands can take me back to a different time.  A time when I was young, stupid,
and carefree.   It's nice to occasional revisit that life.

Friday, January 23, 2015

AREN'T AMERICANS GREAT TOURISTS ?

I try to avoid posts that simply send you to another website, but this one was funny enough to make an exception to the rule.  And yes, this is the kind of smarts and behavior that makes Americans so popular in other countries.  Guy gets his dumb as* stuck in a sculpture entitled Chac├ín-Pi (Making Love). Wonder if his school has ask for the guy's diploma to be returned.  You can read the whole story at:

http://news.artnet.com/people/32-ton-marble-vagina-traps-us-exchange-student-46442

Thursday, January 15, 2015

WAKING UP TO DISCOVER I'M CULTURALLY OBSOLETE

So Wednesday morning I took my eleven year old to the dentist for a six month check-up.

While waiting for the dental technician to finish the cleaning and X-rays, I picked
up a copy of People Magazine that was lying in the waiting room.  It happened to be their 2014 best and worst issue.  I don't subscribe to People, but since I'd already read the six month old copy of Sports Illustrated and had no interest in the Southern Living magazine, People appeared to be my best bet.

What I quickly discovered is that at 56 I have become culturally obsolete and irrelevant.

Look at their list of Top 10 movies, I was aware of all ten flicks and even knew the rough plotlines for all of them.   Number I had actually seen ...  zero

Top 10 television shows.  Most are on premium cable which I don't subscribe to. I had heard of seven of the ten shows, though a couple were complete unknowns to me -    How to Get Away with  Murder,  Happy Valley ... never heard of them.  Seven out of ten would seem to be a passing grade except for the fact I had not seen one of these shows.

Top 10 songs.  Again, I take some comfort in having known all  ten of these artists, to say nothing of the fact I'd actually heard seven of the top-ten songs   I did check out Dierk Bentley's "Drunk on a Plane".   The title was too good not to check it out.   Sadly. I don't own a single one of the top-10 songs. 

Top 10 books - Was aware of six of the books; had read reviewed for most of them, and might actually read three of them at some point.   Number I had read to that point - zero.

Top 10 viral hits.   I had seen two of these clips the selfie taken at the Oscars selfie and the clip of President Obama being interviewed by Zach Galifankis

Top 10 breakups and weddings.   I recognized a couple of the names - I think Jennifer Lopez was on their continuing her long standing streak of marital disarray.  Thing is I really didn't care about either of those categories.  The break-ups aren't something to be proud of and  I suspect most of the folks on the wedding list will be on a future break-up list.

Anyhow, at that point my kid was done with his check-up (no cavities) and I had reached the end of my 2014 best and worst span of attention.  Culturally irrelevant and 56.  Bummer.

Friday, January 2, 2015

36 HOURS INTO THE NEW YEAR AND AMAZON HITS MY LIST

Wow, I actually made it a day and a half into the new year before something
pissed me off.   In this case Amazon.com.  Guess I'm not the only one with
gripes against this mindless entity.

I have a couple of thousand vinyl LPs listed on Amazon.  All of them are
original pressings, as opposed to reissues.   And that's where the problem
starts.

Amazon apparently runs some sort of background algorithm that looks at pricing. 
If the software detects that your asking price is outside of normal boundaries,
the company disables the listing until such time as you adjust your price to
bring it back down to an "acceptable" price range.  The software apparently
can't tell the difference between an original and a reissued product.

Here's the email I got from the company:

Dear Seller,

We are contacting you because we have detected potential pricing errors in your
Amazon.com product listings. To avoid a potentially negative customer experience
caused by mispriced items, we have deactivated these listings.

These deactivated listings are marked in Manage Inventory with a Status of
"Inactive (Pricing Error)".

To reactivate your listings, click on "Fix Price Alerts" and then on "Potential
Pricing Error" on the left menu to:

- update  your offer price, or
- confirm your offer price by setting "Your minimum price" and "Your maximum
price" in the specified columns so that your offer price is within the minimum
and maximum price range. We will alert you in the future if your price falls
outside your price range. If you do not use the minimum and maximum price
settings, our systems will continue to use internal data to help detect
potential pricing errors.

If you have a Professional selling account, you can also use the Inventory
Loader file or the Price & Quantity file to update your prices as well as your
minimum and maximum prices. For more information, search in Seller Central Help
for the terms "Unblocking Your Listings", "Inventory Loader", and "Price and
Quantity".

If you have questions or need assistance, log in to your Seller Central account
and click the "Contact Seller Support" link at the bottom of the page. For
feedback about this pricing error program, please send an e-mail to
listing-error-feedback@amazon.com.

Thank you for selling on Amazon,

Your Amazon Services Team

--------------- Listings with Potential Pricing Errors ---------------

Note: If you have more than 100 listings with potential pricing errors, only the
first 100 are listed here.

ASIN    SKU    TITLE    PRICE
B000VL1TYO    EV-1NOK-P13U    LACEWING [LP VINYL]    150.00
B001I3GMTQ    NX-2ALO-UHTD    Stereoequipe [Vinyl]    200.00
B002XDE4CW    P4-CHV7-E1NC    Ultimate Prophecy (Ogv) [Vinyl]    80.00


Out of curiosity I decded to see what was actually listed on Amazon for these
three items.

Again, my three are all original pressings.

Lacewing;  There are nine copies; all reissues ranging in price from $14.95 to
$23.72.  

Stereoequipe; There are four copies; all reissues ranging in price from $30 to
$48.99   The only original was mine. 

Ultimate Prophecy; one copy and it is a reissue with a price of $14.98. 

Again, in each case my listings were the only original copies.   Hard to believe
that Amazon would force a seller to lower their prices to match the lower price
of something that is inherently different.

Anyhow, I responded with comments trying to explain the differences between an
original and a reissue.  I'm thinking I wasted my time.

Happy New Year everyone.