Tidying Report or: Does Vinyl Still Spark Joy?

I’ve been on a tidying kick for quite some time. Today I won a major victory by getting my daughter to join in. She went through her bathroom and filled up two bags of stuff to be discarded. Yay!

Tonight, while sitting in my entertainment room after watching a movie, I glanced at my vinyl collection. I wondered if it was time to do something bold: Get rid of all my records.

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I know how audiophiles always say that the sound from vinyl is superior. So I decided to do a scientific test to help me make my decision. I would listen to one of my favorite songs on vinyl, then on compact disc. If the vinyl version sounded far superior, I might want to keep my records. If I couldn’t tell the difference, or if the CD sounded better, then yay, lots of records to discard.

I had to select the right song for the test. I didn’t think about it too much, and I chose “Here Comes the Sun”, by The Beatles. I have this song on both vinyl and CD versions of the album called “1967-1970”, also commonly known as “The Blue Album”.

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I decided to listen to the version on vinyl first. Of course, I had to go through all of the ritual. First, I took out the album from the shelf. I pulled out the sleeve, and the record slipped out, because the paper had come apart. Yeah, I remember that. The record sleeve is far from indestructible.

I put the record on the turntable, cued up the tone arm, used my velvet dust brush to make sure the record was pristine, and finally lowered the tone arm onto the record. I noticed that the strobe indicator showed that the speed was off. The record was going a bit too slow. So I adjusted it until the speed was exactly 33 ⅓ revolutions per minute. Or as close to it as I could get.

Now it was time to listen. The record sounded OK. Back in the early 1980s I had played this record a lot, and as happens with vinyl, the grooves had worn down and the sound was a bit flat. But it still sounded good. No crackling or skipping. I had taken good care of my records.

Next it was time to listen to the CD. I had to remind myself how to use the CD player. I hadn’t used it for a long time. There was a way to select a single track and optionally tell it to repeat. I didn’t quite remember how to do that, so I just decided to select the track and hit play. First, I had to look at the CD box to find out what the correct track number was. Eight. The track number on the Blue Album CD for “Here Comes the Sun” is eight. On disc number two.

Just a few seconds into listening to the CD version was enough to convince me what I needed to do. To my non-audiophile ears, the CD sounds was far superior to the vinyl sounds. Goodbye records!

Then something happened. About a quarter way through the song, the CD player started playing “Come Together”, the next track. Track number nine. What happened? I thought maybe I stepped down on the floor to hard and caused the CD to skip, so I tried again, restarting “Here Comes the Sun”, track eight. And it happened again! I realized that it would be impossible for me to listen to the entire song on the CD. The CD was not scratched or anything, Just by sitting on the shelf all these years, the CD had deteriorated to the point of making it unplayable.

Boo. It seemed that all the money that I invested over the years in CDs was now sunk. I didn’t even want to try listening to any of my other CDs, for fear of being disappointed again.

Apparently, CDs are an inferior technology. A record could get scratched, maybe crackle a little, but at least, unless you really abuse it and scratch it deeply, the whole record will play. My father has old 78 rpm records from almost 100 years ago, and they still play (if you can find a turntable that plays that speed). But a CD, just because of its age, becomes a circular brick. It seems that entropy is not kind to CDs.

So, I think I won’t be discarding my vinyl collection just yet. Or maybe the answer is to dump all of the physical discs, both vinyl and compact, and just stream my music. Alexa, play “Here Comes the Sun”.

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Do Not Noisily Unwrap Candy Wrappers

I went to the Costa Mesa Playhouse today for the first time, with a good friend. It is a nice place to see a play. Only six rows. Not a bad seat in the house.

I saw this sign in the lobby and had to take a photo of it. I have to say the part about not noisily unwrapping candy wrappers is very much appreciated!

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Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of movies, since I got my MoviePass. And what I’ve noticed is that I don’t especially like the movie theater experience. I much prefer to watch movies at home.

What is it that I don’t like? I have to say it’s the people. Either a giant decides to sit in front of me, or someone behind me decides to put her feet up. (I’m not being sexist. Thus far, it’s always been women who put their feet up behind me. When a man does it, I’ll be sure to give him credit.) Or someone decides to sit in the seat right next to me (the horror!), when there are perfectly good other seats down the row. I can usually avoid this by sitting in the aisle seat, as opposed to a seat in the center. People like the center. At worst, I’ll have one person sitting next to me.

Another annoying thing about the movie theater experience is the young couple sitting right in front of me and making out. Don’t they realize that they are right in my prime vomit range? I won’t even mention the couple that brings their crying baby. But it seems that the thing that really gets me is the noise. Popcorn is supposed to be quiet, but people can make a lot of noise reaching into the paper bag for each bite. This can go on for the first hour of the movie! And, finally getting to the subject of this post, I hate the noisy candy unwrappers! So annoying, and they usually have a bucketful of individually wrapped candies. Combine that with the fact that you can’t rewind the movie like you can at home, and often critical dialog is missed!

Funny thing. Everyone at the play today obeyed the sign. No cell phones, no flash photography, no noisy candy unwrapping. But the sign didn’t say “No Talking”, and sure enough, someone starting talking! He was immediately shushed by many people. He talked again, and he was shushed again. Well, too bad I have to go out to a playhouse to see a play. They won’t perform one just for me in my living room. Huh!

You’re probably wondering about the play. It was called “Next to Normal” and was about a family struggling with mental illness of the matriarch. It was highly acclaimed. When on Broadway, it won four Tony Awards and a Pulitzer prize. The acting was excellent. It was a musical, and the songs were good, and the singing was excellent. Nothing memorable, though. It wasn’t Grease. Was it entertaining? Well, not really. It was extremely serious and heavy, and a little depressing. I was expecting something light and humorous, like Silver Linings Playbook. This play made me feel bad for each character in the family, as it was supposed to.

I’m glad I went, because I usually like movies and plays about mental illness. And it wasn’t unwatchable. I did enjoy a lot of it, just not as much as I had hoped. It made me think of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which is one of my favorite movies of all time, and which was mentioned by one of the characters before she went for her shock treatment. And I know what you’re thinking! One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about as serious and heavy and depressing as they come! Why the inconsistency in my entertainment between this play and that movie? Don’t know. Cuckoo’s Nest had Jack. I always like Jack.

 

Lost In Translation

I just finished watching a movie called “Lost In Translation”. I had recorded it on April 13, 2015, during the time that I briefly had a subscription to HBO. I have a collection of movies recorded on my DVR. But, the hard drive is failing, and I can’t record new shows, so I will have to get it replaced with a new model.

Apparently, Cox has a fancy new model called the “Contour 2 Record 6”. It has snazzy new features such as “smart search”, which searches for shows that it knows I will like, and a voice remote that apparently I can have a conversation with. It will also stream recorded shows to my computer or tablet or phone, in case I want to watch a movie on a screen that is small, smaller, or smallest. I don’t have an Apple watch, but I’m guessing this DVR would let people watch a movie on a watch as well. Haha, watch a movie on a watch. Get it?

I spoke with a Cox rep yesterday, and he explained that they would have to send someone out to my home to install the new DVR, and normally there would be a $50 charge for that. But, since my hard drive is failing, they would waive the charge. And the monthly charge for the new DVR is the same as the one I have, so win/win. He asked me when would be a good time to schedule an appointment.

I asked him if I could transfer my recorded shows from my old DVR to the new one. He said no, but once I have the new DVR, my new recorded shows would be backed up in the cloud. So when the new DVR fails sometime in the future, I won’t lose my content when I upgrade to a yet newer DVR. I told him I’m not ready to upgrade just yet, because I have too many recorded shows that I have to watch. Here is a sample of what I have recorded.

HBO movies. This includes Lost In Translation, Identify Thief, Man Of Steel, Match Point, Argo (which I’ve seen but want to watch again), Jersey Boys, The Judge, and lots more.

HBO series. I have all six episodes of season three of The Newsroom. That’s the reason I subscribed to HBO. Of course I watched them all the day they aired, but I keep them in case I want to watch them again. I also have 31 episodes of Bill Maher. And 45 episodes of John Oliver.

I also have all twenty episodes of season one and season two of Better Call Saul, some episodes of the new Cosmos (which I still have not watched), all six episodes of the new season of the X files–another one that I watched the day they aired but am keeping in case I want to watch them again. And the big prize goes to The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. When he announced he was leaving, I started recording all the episodes. He’s been off the air for almost a year, and it’s nice to be able to go back and watch episodes that are new, to me. I still have 159 episodes of The Daily Show that I haven’t watched.

So, as you see, I can’t return the DVR, because I have a lot of watching to do! I don’t know how I’ll be able to watch all that content. I also have 500 movies on my Netflix DVD queue. I think I’ll have to take some days off of work. 😉

Which brings me back to Lost in Translation. I had never watched it, but I heard good things about it. And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve had it recorded since April 2015, which, by the way, means that there was a good chance it was recorded before the hard drive started to fail, and it would be technically possible for me to watch it. I started watching it yesterday afternoon, and I just finished it today.

Capsule review: Entertaining. Interesting view into Japanese culture. Bill Murray played this old dude who, while in Japan, struck up a friendship with a young chick played by Scarlett Johansson. I looked up Bill Murray on Wikipedia and found that he was 52 when the movie was filmed, back in 2003. I am 54 now. So, I’m an older dude. 😦

When the movie ended, I felt glad that I had finally watched it, and I thought I would probably give it a four star rating. I usually rate movies on Netflix, because based on ratings, they tell me what new movies I will like. So, I logged in to Netflix, went to the Lost In Translation page, and found that I had already watched the movie back in 2004 (February 24, 2004, to be exact), and I had given it a three star rating. No recollection of that at all! You know what that means? After I watch everything on my DVR, and all 500 movies on my Netflix queue, there will be a whole collection of movies I’ve already seen that I’ll have to watch again.

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