list

Worst Web-Page Design Practices of 2014

Personal opinion on what I feel were the worst web-page design elements encountered in 2014.  The internet should be a happy place and you should design and present your content without breaking the viewer out of their "groove" or "flow" just to pander yourself another follower.

Fair is Fair - My Top-5 "Desert Island" Songs.

Fair is fair.  The other day I posted about which music I absolutely loathe so it's only reasonable that I now post about the music which I count as my most-favorite.

I've given this a lot of thought.  At least twenty minutes or so.  Mostly.  Of all the available music, were I suddenly stranded on a LOST-like island somewhere, these are the song which I hope would survive on my magical iPod of Eternal-Battery.

I could literally listen to these songs over-and-over again, all day long, without going insane and wanting to do the post-office dance.  Every time I hear one of these songs, it's like hearing it for the first time.

So, again realizing that this is extremely subjective (you're going to disagree with most of my picks), here's my Top-5 Desert Island songs from most-to-least favorite order.  One last comment: most of this music is decades old.  One of the criteria, of course, being that the song be capable of witstanding time's test.  I like a lot, if not most, of today's alternative music.  However, who's to say if I will still like it as much, decades later...

#1 Battle of Evermore by Led Zepplin

Led Zepplin was obviously going to be in my top-5 lists.  The only thing that surprises me is that I chose this song over one of their older, bluesier, pieces.  I love this song.  Of all the music I've ever heard, it remains my favorite song of all time.  Not only does it tell a great story, but the music ranges from savage to delicate - peaking at all the right places.  At the end of this song, I'm wrung-out emotionally.  It's that great of a ride.

#2 Who Wants to Live Forever by Queen

I made a comment a while ago -- "if you don't love Freddy Mercury, you're dead to me."  Well, of all the contenders in the Queen portfolio, I choose this relatively little-known song.  It was made for the movie "Highlander", the original starring Christopher Lambert.  Queen did the soundtrack for that move and it was awesome.  (Both the movie and the music.)  This song plays while the newly-immortal Highlander watches his first love age and die while he remains young.  When listened to in-context, the song is bittersweet and poignant, conveying the emotions of grief and love.  Frankly, I'm surprised this song isn't played at more funerals.

#3 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath

This was the first album I ever bought.  It cost $5 brand new and the year was 1974.  My parents were horrified.  Heh.  (My second album was Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies"...)  What I love about this song is the soul-crunching bass riff that hits about 3-minutes into the song.  It's so incredibly massive that I've not heard anything done with the same levels of harmony since.  Nearly 40-years after it's release, this song can still get me thrashing and banging and is my tribute-selection to all things Metal.

#4 Sidewalk Hobo by Tony Joe White

I love the blues.  I listen to the blues constantly and it's been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember.  There are so many, many  great pieces of music in the genre that it's nearly impossible to select just one title.  From a young boy watching Louie 'Satchmo" Armstrong play "When The Saints" on live TV, to my Mother's favorite: Billie Holiday, to watching the now-departed Flash Terry play every week at Willie's Saloon, there's just too many to chose from.  John Lee Hooker, Aretha, Stevie-Ray, Buddy Guy, ... the list is endless.  In the end, as homage, I chose this song because, simply, it moves me every time I hear it.

#5 Pie Jesu (Requiem) by Charlotte Church

I had a hard time choosing my favorite classical music piece.  Not all is rock-and-roll and if I was to be limited to only five songs, then this one, specifically by Charlotte Church, would be my fifth.  I choose this over Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and even Beethoven.  I even chose this over Pachelbel's Canon in D which was the song that made me fall in-love with classical music.  I was first exposed to Charlotte Church while watching a, of all things, Craig Fergusson movie called "I'll Be There".  The movie was easily forgotten, the voice of Charlotte Church wasn't.

 

That's my top five.  I wish this was a top-10 list because there are so many others I could add.  The Who, Cage the Elephant, BRMC, Cat Stevens, Karen Carpenter, Rush, David Bowie, Barry White, Dean Martin, Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, The Hollies, Elton John, Janis, Nina Sinmone, Ted Nugent, Ray Charles... the list is endless.  Which explains why I have thousands and thousands of music titles in my collection.

Hopefully, my iPad/iPod will survive the crash intact!

Five Music Pieces That Make Me Wish I Was Totally Deaf...

I love music.  Good music.  And, of course, I realize that this is an extremely subjective and personal  theme to pretty much everyone on the planet not born profoundly deaf.

Music makes our hearts sing, our toes tap, our fingers snap.  It's poetry with acoustic accompaniment.  It's one of our most base forms of communication and expression.  Creating good music requires a level and intensity of creativity that probably less then three percent of the world's population is capable of understanding.

When we find good music, we cherish it, nurture it, follow it and, most importantly share it.  For we want others to be as moved by good music as we, ourselves, were moved.

Then, there's the other side.  The "dark side" of music.  For sake of argument, I'd be willing to concede that there exists forms of music that is so expressive, creative, and otherwise "deep", so profoundly artistic, that my crude and underdeveloped artistic sense could never hope to appreciate, even with a million years of continuous evolution, what was set before me.

On the other hand, maybe it really is a steaming pile of crap.

I listen to music most of the day when I am working.  When I am "in the zone" coding, I usually get there with the aid of music.  I have a large and eclectic taste in my range of preferred listening choices; I listen to everything classical, alternative, rock, rap, and metal.  And, as my hearing diminishes, I find that am holding on tightly to my music - grasping at every note, savoring it, storing it away in my memory for replay.  In other words, I am appreciating my music.

When the following song(s) hit my hears, I howl inside like the dog hearing a fire-truck siren.  I can't for the life of me understand why people qualify this as music, much less entertainment.  To me, it sounds like a drowned cat, screeching in a spinning dryer.  Like Yoko Ono.  So, without further ado:  my top five list of songs I'd rather never, ever hear, ever again.

#1 - Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones.

I love the lyrics to this song.  It's pure poetry and it tells a truly salacious story.  What I hate is the seemingly endless background refrain of "ooo-ooooh" that drones endlessly, tearing away at the lining of my brain until it's all that I hear.  I tried to count the number of  "oooo-ooooh's" once, but was so sickened three-quarters of the way through the piece, I had to quit.  And what really makes my ears vomit blood is the thought of the infinite number of times that song's been performed by the venerable Stones.  Infinite Performances times Infinite "ooooo-oooooohs" = please, dear Lord, kill me now.

#2 - Hey Jude by The Beatles.

Great melody, great lyrics.  A real pick-me-up kind of song.  However, three-quarters of the way through it, when whatever flop-mopped Beatles starts screeching "Judie-Judie-Judie" like a horrific Cary Grant imitation done by a rampaging drag queen gone amok, while the background vocals grind out "nah-nah-nah-nah" endlessly -- this is the point which I wish I could shut my mouth, pinch my nostrils shut, and blow my own eardrums right out of my skull.  Perhaps there's a pattern with music from the 1960's and 1970's where the lyricist felt it too difficult to actually come out of a drug-induced haze long enough to pen something intelligible for words to the song.  Whatever it is, it only serves to make the song suck.  And, sorry for trundling your sacred-cow Beatles off to my little bbq but, seriously, the song still sucks wind.

#3 - Neil Young and Bob Dylan

I'd like to find the record executive that gave that eunuch Neil Young his first recording contract and make him sit down, sober, and force him to listen to 20-consecutive hours of "Neil Young - Live" in a sort of Clockwork Orange-inspired force-feeding.  That cheese-grating voice of his completely kills his own lyrics - which I've heard are awesome but still to this day remain unaware of anything about his music other than the fervent wish that his testicles would finally drop.

Bob Dylan is a master poet.  His song lyrics inspire and enlighten.  However, if there was ever a lyricist that needed his own front man, then Bob Dylan is that poster child.  Unfortunately, if you take the actual lyrics out of the equation, Dylan's nasal whine drones on, and on, and on, from one song to the next, creating a homogeneous nightmare of nose-whistling, ear-numbing, jilting-cadenced pain.

#4 - Imagine by John Lennon

I don't care if I did misspell his name.  Of the fab-four, I think Lennon was the worst, by far, musically.  When he was assassinated in 1980-something (I don't even care enough to look up the date), the local radio station spewed-forth this crap song at least three times an hour for weeks.  Thirty-years later, I will actually hurt myself sprinting to the remote to change the station if this crap song hits the playlist.  What I hate the most about this song is that it's fluffy and idealistic, with no grounding in reality.  My granddaughter loves songs about bunnies and unicorns, but it's not a national treasure like this stinking turd.

#5 - Country Music and Opera

Yeah.  Even after living for, let's see, twelve years in the south-central US (Texas for the latter part), I can honestly say that I think country music has no redeeming value whatsoever.  Sure, it tells a story.  Sure, it's either Jesus-laden, or self-serving twaddle, but once you get past the "my momma got killed crossing the railroad in her pick-up on the day my dog got out of prison" theme, what's left?  I used to bartend at Willies Saloon when Garth Brooks came in to play (for free) while a marketing major (what's THAT tell you?) at Oklahoma State.  I hate everything about Country & Western culture - from the big stupid hats, to the big stupid trucks that have never hauled anything more substantial than a latte from Starbucks.  I've managed C&W bars and, let me tell you, every single solitary person yee-haw's when you put Joan Jett's "I Love Rock-and-Roll" on the playlist.

Opera is for tastes much more refined than mine, I comfortably admit.  I love classical music and there are actually some operatic pieces I can get through to the end but, for the most part, it's just overweight people screeching at me.  Remember that Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Vagner-esqe woman opera-singing at the rabbit?  All I can think of when I hear opera is her epiglottis (the dangly thing at the back of your throat) vibrating like a worm on crack.

So, apologies if I offended -- like I said: music is subjective.  This is what pains me and I fully expect most, if not all, of you to disagree.  I've got to go listen to some Yoko now - she totally rocks...