Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just a-postin' for postin's sake

Had a bit of difficulty getting video from my new JVC Everio camera to work on YouTube. Unfortunately, YT destroys audio when it tries to convert AC3 into its native AAC format. But if I convert to MP3 first, it's all right. Slowly but surely am beginning to post video shot at the 2009 West Coast Ragtime Festival.

We did the Red-Rose-Rag-as-Elmer-Fudd routine in the finale concert. A few people in the audience really laughed at the "ever since the merger" line. All in all, everyone thought it went over even better than it did in Sutter Creek. I saw a couple people in the audience holding their video cameras, and I know one person who posts to YouTube was one of them, so hopefully there will be video of it online before long.

I also joined the featured musicians on stage in the mass final performance, playing my kazoo. Woo!

Got some snow on Friday night. It's melted here now but the hills are still white. It was already low-30s by 6 p.m. tonight. Gonna be a cold one. I'm really hating having to work in the garage in sub-freezing temperatures these days.

We saw Planet 51 and The Fantastic Mr Fox this weekend (well, the former on Thanksgiving Day). The latter film was much more amusing, but the whole 1950s feel of the planet in the former was kind of cute. I just felt like the concept was nice but it didn't really have many laughs. I was surprised by the amount of Spanish names in the credits. Discovered at the end that the CGI was all done in Spain. Interesting. Of course, Mr Fox was stop-motion animation. Funny visual gags and lines. Amusing character movements for action scenes. Just all-around nice movie.

I was going to write something else, which I thought of as I typed the title, but it has since slipped my mind. Sigh. Memory is the second thing to go... I don't remember what the first is.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mad Scientist Rag

My profile photo here was one that I took after waking up one morning and seeing my hair. I grabbed my camera and made a face as I took the picture. I thought that I looked somewhat like a mad professor or something.

A couple years later, or maybe just one, I realized that Mad Scientist Rag was a great title for a ragtime composition, so I wrote one. I used that photo for the cover of the tune, pasting my head into a jar of a "mad scientist's laboratory" stock artwork.

Anyway, a classically trained pianist just posted a video on YouTube of himself playing my Mad Scientist Rag.

Click the link above to view it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

20 years ago

I discuss my experiences from 20 years ago. October 17, 1989.

It is one of those milestone days for all of us who survived.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spotted some online Engrish...

I was curious about an order we received from Yong-In City, South Korea. I did a search for the city and came across the city's tourism web site. On it, they advertise the local amusement park.

Unfortunate choice of words for the top bit... or maybe they just cater to illicit affairs.

And the bottom bit: Amazing Water World, Caribbean Bay! ...complete with authentic Caribbean snow park?

Monday, August 17, 2009

My big stage debut

I'll have a version with HQ audio recorded with professional audio equipment from the front of the stage posted at a later date (that one will go to YouTube), but for now, here's a Facebook video of me doing my comedy routine yesterday with the Raspberry Jam Band:

I don't do the best Fudd in the world; that's for sure. I wanted to be sure it was loud enough on the mic too, which didn't help.

Many thanks to Will Perkins for holding my camera.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All Iranian ballet dancers have tremendous ears, which melt in the nitric acid splendidly

That was the first sentence of one of the "word-by-word stories" a bunch of us used to do online in the early and mid-1980s. I thought it might be fun to start one here. What do you think?

There are rules to follow:
  • You do not add punctuation after your word. Instead, the person entering the next word decides whether to put a comma, period, semicolon, colon or dash after your word. (Example entry would look like: ", and".)
  • Yes, sometimes you just have to write "a(n)" or "the". It's a boring job, but someone's gotta do it.
  • If you enter your word but find that someone else had written one at the same time and beat you to the punch, it is your duty to delete or edit your word to ensure that the sentence still makes grammatical sense (logical sense is entirely optional!).
After a while, I will compile the words into the main post and purge the individual entries, to prevent the comment list from becoming unreasonably long.

I'll leave the first word up to whoever wishes to begin!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Musical challenge

Although I never received any musical challenges from the "Keeper's Monthly Musical Challenge" thing on Paul's blog, either because he has begun working again (yay!) or nobody came up with any good ideas (boo!), there is, in fact, a big musical challenge coming up for me.

Saturday, I'm going to be rehearsing with the Raspberry Jam Band for a performance the following weekend of a musical comedy routine that I wrote many years ago but never have performed because it requires a musician who knows the routine.

The big challenge is that I haven't been on stage since acting class in 1990 (and even then it was just for the small class, so never for a full theater audience), and I've never performed on-mic, other than the PC or my camera with their auto gain control.

It's also been a while since I've done my Elmer Fudd voice... or Scooby Doo... But I think I can manage.

You see, bandleader Julia wanted me to perform with the band (as thanks for providing and composing music for them to play) after hearing how well I can whistle. But then in the course of casual conversation, she heard me do a bit of We Will Rock You as Mickey Mouse (yes, casual conversation with me can be strange -- actually I was mentioning how I thought of making video of me doing that, but then Wayne Allwine passed away and I thought it might be bad taste since my Mickey is his Mickey), so she thought maybe I could sing Lulu's Back in Town as Mickey, which I did a bit of on the spot to show that I could.

A couple hours later, though, I suddenly remembered this musical comedy skit that I had in my head, and asked if they play Red Rose Rag. They didn't, she said, but they'll learn it. I've sent them the "script", and we'll see how it goes in rehearsal this weekend. Then next weekend's Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival will be the moment of truth. If it goes over well, we could do the skit again in November at the West Coast Ragtime Festival.

Hopefully I'll have somebody hold my camera and record it at Sutter Creek.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lost in translation?

So the other day at the movies, we saw a trailer for the next Miyazaki animated feature, Ponyo.

I thought, "Huh. I hadn't heard of this one."

Then I went home and looked it up online. Oh, yes, I had heard of it. I had seen the original Japanese trailer, in fact.

But you might never know they were trailers for the same film.

The American trailer is basically ACTION ACTION OMG ACTION!!!! whereas the Japanese trailer presented a sense of wonder and adventure.

When did it become a crime in this country to promote movies based on their wonder & adventure content?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Super Sailor Obama saga continues

The third Sailor Moon playset installment of Tikistitch's hilarious posts featuring Barack Obama Presidential Action Figure is the funniest yet:

It contains links to the first two installments within this playset, though she has had other such posts prior to using the Sailor Moon playset as the "Super Shining Crystal Oval Office of Wonder".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Further adventures of President Obama, Action Figure

I have neglected to keep up with Tikistitch's LiveJournal lately (and everyone else's actually). That's a pity 'cause I may have missed more gems like this latest installment in her ongoing series of photo essays documenting the life of President Barack Obama, Action Figure!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oh my gosh! I'm playing my piano!

After all this time, you're probably wondering why I hadn't posted a video of me actually playing my piano myself.

There's my answer. I guess.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Great Mysteries of Life

There are many great mysteries of life.

One of them is: "Was that beetle in the washing machine before I put my clothes in it, or was it in my clothes to begin with?"

Another one is: "Was there more than one, and if so, will I find it/them when I remove my clothes from the dryer?"

There is much meditation on these questions happening in Tibet, I am sure.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Classic stuff

YouTube now has sponsored streaming of classic TV shows (and some rather recent).

For example, The Jack Benny Program, which features Mel Blanc as one of the regular cast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Behold, my player piano!

I got my player piano sorta working again.

Here it is playing the newest roll in my collection, with some old friends who came out to listen after more than a dozen years of hiding in boxes.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

License plate ponderings

I was thinking it might be fun to have a personalized license plate. In Nevada, a motorcycle plate carries a maximum of six characters.

Predictably, "KEEPER" is not available ("KIIPAA" is...).

Humorously, "CALIF" is available.

So what else is available, of toon or ragtime interest? Here are some:

YAKKO (WAKKO and DOT are not)
ZORT (POIT and NARF are not, but, for a car, "HA NARF" is, as is "NARFOLA" and "NARFADA")
EGAD (I have said "egad" since long before Animaniacs!)
AYPWIP ("Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?")
RAGTME (for a car, RAGTIME is not available)
DARN (don't DARN the luck! it's available!)
PU (my first online nickname; it's what I put on videogame high scores)
NO CAR (I like that!)

Although a straight number can't be used, "8T8" is available to make my lucky number of eighty-eight.

In case you're wondering, both "SKIPPY" and "SLAPPY" are not available. Neither is "SPEW"!
For a car, "CAVEGUY" is available. How sublime.
For a car, "BALONEY" is available! Yum yum doodle dum!
For a car, "RENHOEK" is available, you eediot!

Monday, March 23, 2009

PC up and running in Reno

But brrrr it's cold. I think they forgot to put insulation under the floor in my room, 'cause the floor here is much much colder than any other part of the house.

I rode my motorcycle in a snowstorm for the first time, yesterday. Whee!

I'll put together a video of clips I shot during the move and my first day here. (I didn't start recording until we hit snow on the Sierras, though.) I should be able to slap 'em together and post it tonight, so you'll see it on the right side of this blog in the "Recently Uploaded Videos" bar.

More details about my first day are on my LiveJournal.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Before I move to Nevada this weekend, I made sure to pay a visit to my
72-year-old father. It is from him that I got my sense of humor.

He agreed to be interviewed on camera, to tell some of his old stories. People have told him that he should have written a book about his life experiences (alas, spinal meningitis as a child erased his language skills and he never regained full literacy). This is the next best thing.

The first video just talks about growing up during World War II. It isn't as interesting as some of the later videos, but it's the start, so ... there it is.

Future part topics:

  • Playing stickball as a kid; getting Babe Ruth's autograph; learning how to hit from Roger Maris; ditching school to see games; how he was nearly drafted by the Yankees; Casey Stengel

  • Making deliveries for Alfred Hitchcock

  • Meeting Sophie Tucker

  • Pranks he inspired, and pranks he did as a kid; beating the odds set by doctors

  • More pranks as a kid; being a cross-country trucker; trucker story

  • His big accident, and the woman who saved his life; surviving downhill with no brakes in a tanker carrying 8600 gallons of fuel; more trucking stories

  • Making deliveries for "the family"

  • Cars; driving in every state but Hawaii

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Karaoke time!

You know you want to...

I had made the music in late 2007 for some anime cosplayers who wanted to do a Yakko's World parody and asked me if I could make the Yakko's World music without Yakko's voice.

Now to see who adds their own voice tracks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ragtime on the Silver Screen?

If these filmmakers have their wish.

It's an in-production feature-length documentary about the annual Old-Time Piano Playing Competition held every Memorial Day weekend in Peoria, Ill., and about the struggles to get new blood interested in ragtime.

Some folks I know are seen performing in it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby, You Don't Belong

There are zillions of movie trailers posted all over the internet. The movie studios don't seem to have a problem with this, so it was that I posted the Japanese trailer to Disney's Lilo & Stitch online when it had disappeared from Disney's Japanese site.

It makes for interesting academic study of the vastly different approach to the movie used by the Japanese ("One lonely girl; one lonely alien" who form a friendship) compared to the U.S. approach ("There's one in every family" wild untamed monster), and an example of the different way that trailers are made in general, e.g., characters doing their own voiceover bits, and use of an "image song" cross-promotion.

But now that trailer has been taken down because of a copyright claim by Warner Music Group. Yes, a Disney trailer, taken down by Warner.

This is because of the "image song". Disney commissioned WMG to produce an "image song" for Lilo & Stitch. An excerpt of it -- Baby, You Belong by Faith Hill -- is included in the trailer. Indeed, the trailer was the song's world premiere. This is how the business of "image songs" works. They're inspired by the movies, then included in trailers with the information written on the screen of the artist and album name, and also are promoted on web sites along with the movie. And it goes both ways; e.g., the music video for this song includes clips from the movie.

So it seems that WMG doesn't know that the excerpt of the song is in the trailer because they put it there. It plays for all of five seconds (enough to hear "Baby, you belong / Baby, you belong") toward the end of the trailer before it fades into the background and Japanese voiceovers go on top of the rest of the chorus.

Although there are hundreds of movie-trailer sites online, I can't seem to find any information on how or if they got permission to display the movie trailers. It might just be a case of "turning a blind eye", which means I can't go back to YouTube and point out that Disney allows the trailer to be posted. I could theoretically protest the claim by pointing out that WMG licensed the song to be put into this trailer, but as I don't own the trailer, I'm not sure that would help much.

So I might have to let the trailer die (which would be unfortunate for the academic comparison reasons stated above), or I can replace the audio on it with random music YouTube allows, and put up a big Annotation on the video explaining that WMG was so stupid that they don't know about their own marketing. I could still potentially put up Annotations that present the dialog in the trailer (I'd have to work on transcribing some of the Japanese; I can understand parts of it already), even without the audio... and quietly offer the original audio to those who ask.

It's really a shame that something like this gets taken down, yet people get away with posting full episodes of TV shows that are out on DVD, and even full extras from DVDs. I really hate seeing that stuff online, because it's perfectly available for sale. Excerpts, fair enough, but not the whole shebang. I keep getting asked if the Animaniacs "deleted scenes" that I have posted are on the DVDs. Duh, no. If they were, I wouldn't have posted them!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Low

Our company sells products through our web site, but we also accept purchase orders on 30-day credit terms from companies if the order value is over $1000. Anything lower than that must be pre-paid by using our web site or sending a check or bank wire, because we just don't have the manpower to go chasing after our money constantly when people don't pay up after 30 days.

Yet occasionally, companies do fax us POs for under the $1000 minimum.

Today, a company sent a fax with a purchase order expecting 30-day credit terms on a purchase of two small ribbon cables totaling $3.80.

Sorry -- you expect us to print two extra copies of the invoice and mail them to you, wait for your check, then spend even more postage to mail that $3.80 check to our bank? I don't jolly well think so.

We didn't even call them to tell them to place the order on our web site; the amount of time it would take to pick up the phone and call them is worth more payroll than that!

And now... the saga of "Duh, Hey, Louie!" Better known as DHL.

As you may not know, DHL, just a couple years after buying out Airborne Express to get into the U.S. domestic shipping market, has now left the U.S. domestic shipping market with an announcement that they "are still committed to our U.S. customers" -- just for international shipping.

One of our vendors in Austria shipped some inventory recently to our location in California. When it didn't turn up for a while, we checked with DHL. "Oh whoops. Your package was mistakenly shipped to Philadelphia. We'll get that sorted right away."

Next day, it did not turn up. We checked with DHL again. The package was now in New York City. "Oh whoops again. We'll definitely fix it this time. It'll go on the next plane, we promise!"

And so it did -- only, the next plane was not going to California; it was going to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

In the immortal words of Steven Pudner, "How could they get that wrong??"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Iconic Poker Game

The bombshell of probably needing to move to Nevada jarred me out of thinking about this silly scene that I was forming in my head today.

Well, now I'll write it out stream-of-consciousness and hopefully it will make sense. It'd be funnier if I acted it out, I'm sure.

This started when we were playing a card game Saturday night. I often say silly things, and I said, in a voice you might expect from a boasting poker player, "You better watch out; you better not cry; you better not pout; I'm tellin' ya why: Santa Claus is COMIN' ta town!" Y'know, like he just put down a winning hand. So that got me imagining Santa with a Cuban cigar playing poker with other holiday/iconic creatures. Eventually I came up with a line for Cupid after imagining him also smoking a cigar and how some people might think that was a ripoff of Baby Herman.

And now, the scene as it had formed in my head today at work prior to having a bomb dropped on me:

The seating positions around the poker table are in a C shape. From one end to the other it goes Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, New Year Baby, and Cupid. However, Cupid is late and has not shown up yet.

SANTA is smoking a cigar. He puts down his cards triumphantly on "comin' ".

Ya better not shout; ya better not cry; ya better not pout; I'm tellin' ya why: Santa Claus is COMIN' ta town! Heh heh heh! Er, I mean, Ho ho ho!

EASTER BUNNY (throwing down his cards in defeat)
Oh, a full house!

TOOTH FAIRY (likewise)
Nice hand, Santa, dear.

SANTA begins raking in the dough, but is interrupted by NEW YEAR BABY.

NEW YEAR BABY (putting down cards)
Goo goo ga!

Oh ho ho! A royal flush! He's got ya good there, Santy!

SANTA (disgusted, defeated)
I'd like to royal flush that brat's diaper. Phew!

Well at least he wears one, unlike our missing player.

What's taking him, anyway?

Oh, here he comes now!

TOOTH FAIRY is somewhat embarrassed by CUPID entering, wearing nothing but his quiver with two arrows in it, carrying his bow. CUPID speaks with a rough Brooklyn accent. He takes his seat as he speaks.

Hey, sorry I'm late. I got held up 'cause of a stupid cabbie. This guy, I don't know if he recognized me or what, but he was just goin' ON and ON about his freakin' sad excuse for a love life. Eventually I couldn't take it no more, so I whipped out an arrow and ZING! right through the heart. Beautiful shot, if I do say so myself.

Oh, that was nice of you, dear.

Nice? What are you talkin' about, lady?

TOOTH FAIRY (touched)
Working in your off-season to help him find love.

Working? I said I shot him through the heart, didn't I? I'm late 'cause it took me a while to dispose of the body.

TOOTH FAIRY (slightly shocked)
But aren't those magic arrows?

Yeah, they both come back all magical like, but one's for doin' my job; the other's for self-defense.

And... this was self-defense?

Of course it was! The guy was drivin' me freakin' crazy. I mean what was his problem? It's a hundred degrees in the freakin' shade; does it seem like it's freakin' Valentine's Day to you?

The others have no argument.

Hey Santa, pass me a Cuban, would ya?

SANTA gives CUPID a cigar. As TOOTH FAIRY speaks, CUPID motions over a red-nosed reindeer of Santa's as he bites off and spits out one end of the cigar. He then touches the bitten end of the cigar to the reindeer's nose, thus lighting the cigar.

You shouldn't smoke those things, Cupid, dear.

What, are you gonna lecture me on my health now?

No, it's just that people will think you're Baby Herman.

CUPID is annoyed, but before he can speak:

That's hardly fair. Cupid has been around much longer.

Yeah. So, what, now every baby with a cigar is a ripoff of Baby Herman?

CUPID (even more annoyed)
Hey, hey, watch it, fluffy butt. I ain't no baby, all right? I'm a CHERUB! There's a difference!

If you say so, dear.

Googy goo!

Yeah, what he said.


And what did he say?

What are you? Deaf? With those ears? He said to deal the freakin' cards already!

You mean you can actually understand him?

What, do you think I'm stupid or somethin'? Of course I can!

EASTER BUNNY leans over to SANTA

Must be because he's a baby!

Ho ho ho ho!

CUPID is really pissed off now at the second baby remark. He stands back up and begins wielding his bow.

All right; that's it! I've had enough o' you two!

Cupie, no!!!

CUPID pulls out an arrow and fires it at EASTER BUNNY and SANTA. It flies through both of them before magically returning to its quiver.

Ah yeah! Two-for-one shot! I've outdone myself.

How could you??

After a short beat...

EASTER BUNNY (lovingly)
Oh, Santy...

SANTA (lovingly)
Oh, my little bun-bun...

Oh dear.

Oh Christ! That was the wrong freakin' arrow!


Somewhere, somewhen, I had a line where the Tooth Fairy asked Cupid why he didn't fly in, and he said something about not wasting his energy when he's off-duty 'cause he wants to keep his figure. But somehow it didn't come out when I just wrote it now. So there.

Anyway, now it's out of my head, and I can go to bed.

And yes, the "I'm not a baby; I'm a cherub" line has been in my head since Saturday night. It's purely coincidence that Paul ended up posting his cherub picture today!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yes, that's the full version of my nickname

It's a long story. I'll tell ya if you want. Just know that it derived in some strange way from my real name.

So, does anyone know why Blogger/Google always defaults to showing everything in Japanese on my system, or how to change that? I can read and navigate the pages in Japanese decently enough, but certainly not as easily as if they were English.

My normal "blog" is here:
It consists mainly of things that I think my friends might be interested in, and only occasionally mentioning stuff that I actually did.

And my YouTube account is, predictably:
It consists of videos of ragtime musicians, videos of interest to cartoon fans (primarily the Animaniacs/P&TB/Freakazoid crowd), videos of racing simulators, and the occasional video of me doing voices and a few videos of places I go to or critters outside the house.

I also have a rarely checked MySpace page:
I just have a bunch of links to audio recordings of me doing voices there, and an embedded YouTube playlist of people playing my compositions.

The "1st" is added in each case because someone already took "Keeper" ahead of me, even though I was the first person to use the name on the internet as far as I know. I began using the internet in 1985. Hoil! I'm a net.geezer!