My Ten Favorite YouTube Channels

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If you go out to YouTube today, you’ll see that they’re celebrating their tenth birthday! They gave us this video to celebrate…

I shudder to think what this blog would be like without YouTube. Any blog, for that matter. Or Twitter, or Facebook. We all love it. Sometimes I just go out and watch videos. You’ve heard of going to your happy place? For me, that’s YouTube.

My tastes in videos run more to old TV shows, music, and weird stuff, a lot of which is related to the first two. Here are my ten favorite “go to” channels when I’m just looking to be entertained.

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television (Fuzzy Memories): Have to start with this one, because it’s my favorite. The MCCTv now has their own website, but it started out as just Rick Klein, Mr. Fuzzy Memories himself, uploading videos that he had collected and that others had around the house of Chicago television. Not the actual shows, mind you, although parts of them are inevitably shown during the videos. We’re talking station ID’s, sign-ons and sign-offs, commercials, interstitials, Emergency Broadcast System tests, weather warnings, partial or full newscasts, and other goodies. One such goody is video of the night someone managed to hijack the signal of WTTW, the PBS station, and broadcast several minutes of himself in a Max Headroom mask being rude and obnoxious, and occasionally NSFW, during that night’s telecast of Doctor Who. This is the original upload; there’s a better copy on the Museum’s website.

Robatsea2009: Fuzzy’s channel is pretty much dedicated to Chicago television from the 1980’s and earlier. Rob’s channel doesn’t restrict itself like that: he has video from all over the country, maybe even Canada. Mostly commercials and promos, but he occasionally finds a real gem. This, for example. This is a Proof-of-Performance test done recently on all CBS stations. You probably didn’t see it, since it was aired overnight. If you woke up during the test, you probably thought you were dreaming.

RwDt09: This is a fantastic channel. RwDt09 assembles collections of introductions to TV shows. He has a series of videos called “Stay Tuned,” which choose a night and a TV season and shows introductions from all of the shows on that night. Others include intros from syndicated shows, new programs for a given year, obscure TV themes, etc. Here, for example, are shows from Tuesday night in fall of 1960.

NRRAarchives: There are four channels here. Most of the videos are from American Bandstand or The Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show. Here’s an example: a performance of “Rawhide” by Link Wray and the Wraymen.

The Oddity Archive: Ben, who runs the archive and the associated website, says this about the Archive: “The Oddity Archive is a web series that revolves around the “cultural dustbin”, especially as it pertains to media.” He produces longish videos on a wide variety of media-related topics on a more-or-less regular basis. Here is a shorter one on one of myfavorite subjects: test cards…

Simon’s Cat: A popular feature, especially among cat lovers, like me. We can relate to many of the misadventures, such as this one.

MuguMogu: This channel documents the life of Maru, a large and bushy cat who lives in Japan with his people and his feline friend Hana. Maru just turned 8; here is the video celebrating the event.

Johnnyboy792: From the looks of it, Johnnyboy just started, but his videos have been excellent. A lot of nostalgia, including his “Memories of” videos. Here’s his video on 1971.

Tommy Emmanuel: Tommy Emmanuel, CGP (the honor bestowed on him by the great Chet Atkins) is an incredible fingerstyle guitar player. There are a lot of Tommy Emmanuel videos on YouTube, but this is his official channel. This was his year-end message for 2013, including “Only Elliot,” a song that he hadn’t finished by that time, though it certainly sounds finished to me…

enra – motion graphics performing arts: I saw this group last year, and was suitably impressed. I think you will be, too. Their website explains that they’re “an entertainment unit which presents the ultimate fusion of images and live performance.” This is their “Metropolis.”

Congratulations to YouTube on making it for ten years, and may you have many more!

SEO Spam

If you run a blog on WordPress, chances are you’ve gotten the spam comment that starts “Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors” and goes on to tell you what, in this person’s humble opinion, you’re screwing up, following all of it with an offer to watch a video about what their amazing plugin will do to improve pages hits and blah blah blah. Save your time: I clicked the link, and it didn’t bring me to a page with anything whatsoever to do with improving search engine optimization. It took me to a page that was pushing one of those get-rich-quick schemes where you can’t leave the page unless you leave your name and email address, no doubt so they can send you hundreds of emails like normal spammers do.

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Uh, guys, word of advice: WordPress.com, which hosts this blog, doesn’t allow its users to install third-party plugins like the one you claim to talk about in a video somewhere. To the best of my knowledge, neither does Blogger, TypePad, or any of the other blog-hosting sites. You’re wasting your time. And, exactly how do you suppose that constantly dumping these spam comments on me gives me any confidence that your plugin will do anything close to what you’re promising and that it won’t unleash a virus that will eat my blog and infect every computer that visits?

Search engine optimization was a big thing a few years ago. The trick is to set up keywords both on your site and in your HTML that will result in your site showing up on the first page of a Google search. There are any number of ways to do this, among them looking at the most-frequently used keywords on sites like yours and using as many of them as you can to achieve the highest position possible. Kind of like I talked about during the A to Z Challenge, where companies would add strings of A’s in front of their names so they’d would be listed first in their category in the Yellow Pages (e.g. A AAA AAAAAA AAAAAAAAA Roy’s Termite Service).

Understand, SEO is a legitimate concern, and if your business depends on being listed at or toward the top of a Google search, you need to pay attention to it. At the same time, Google is messing with their algorithm almost constantly, and what gave you a high position on Google pages once upon a time is not guaranteed to give you the same ranking in the future. Google will also look at the location the request is coming from and what you’ve looked for and linked to in the past (yeah, they keep statistics on that, too) before giving you results. If your primary concern is page ranking, you might be wasting your time. And the search engines are getting wise to spamdexing, and actually penalizing sites for doing it. The way you talk in your spam messages, I can tell your plugin relies heavily on spamdexing. Why would I give you money to be penalized by Google and the other engines?

So, guys? I’m not interested.

Now to take on the people on Twitter who are willing to sell me 5,000 followers for the low, low price of just $19.95…

#TwoForTuesday: Lulu

BritishInvasion

You probably remember her singing the title tune from the movie To Sir, With Love. Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, better known as Lulu, has been around for over fifty years and still performs regularly in the UK. Her first hit record, the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” was recorded when she was just fifteen (it’s our first song today) and reached #7 on the British charts (#94 on the Billboard Hot 100) in 1964. Her biggest hit in the US was “To Sir, With Love”; it reached #1 in both the US and Canada in 1967. She had limited success in the US after that, although her 1969 hit, “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You, Baby)” reached #22 on the Hot 100; it’s our second song today. She also provided the theme for the James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974, though it wasn’t released as a single.

Lulu took a hiatus from recording in the late 1970’s, but has been recording pretty regularly since then. Check her website, which tells us that her latest album, Making Life Rhyme, was released on April 13. There you can find links to her social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify).

Lulu, your Two for Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Memorial Day

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Here in the US, it’s Memorial Day. We honor those who died in war with parades and cookouts, baseball games, and going to the beach. Veterans Day, in November, commemorates every service member, living or dead; it’s the day we thank our veterans for their service to this nation. Someone was putting up a fuss about this on Facebook (where else?), saying it was inappropriate to thank veterans for their service on Memorial Day. I don’t think it’s ever the wrong day to thank a veteran, regardless of the “official” meaning of the day. So, veterans, thank you for your service.

When I was younger, Memorial Day was May 30th, regardless of where it fell. If it was a Wednesday, you’d work or go to school on Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then go back to work or school Thursday and Friday. When the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect in June 1968, it, along with Washington’s Birthday (renamed Presidents Day), Columbus Day, and Veterans Day were moved to Mondays. I remember either the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (or maybe both) wasn’t happy and demanded that Memorial and Veterans Days be returned to their traditional days. Eventually, they got Veterans Day returned to November 11 (in 1978), and they decided that was a good compromise.

Memorial Day weekend has become the unofficial start of summer, even though it’s about a month before astronomical summer begins, just as Labor Day has become the unofficial end of the season. Another holiday, Independence Day (July 4) serves as the midpoint. Back in the day, we didn’t get out of school until the first week of June (Mom, who taught in the Chicago Public Schools, didn’t get out until the actual start of summer, circa June 20, later when there was a teachers’ strike in the middle of the year) and went back the Wednesday after Labor Day. The kids here in Georgia (and in much of the rest of the country) got out last Friday, and go back the second week of August. They just can’t win: true, the schools are air conditioned, but it’s still the dog days of summer. Guess they need the extra time to get ready for their standardized tests…

I think Canada celebrates Memorial Day today as well. Well, whether you have the day off or not, have a good Memorial Day.

The Week That Was for May 24, 2015

The Week That Was

Everybody seems to like this feature, which started during the A to Z Challenge and kept going because I wasn’t participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days this time around. Whether or not I choose to participate in ROW80 next time around, I think I’ll keep this going on Sundays, making Wednesday my check-in day if I do.

We had another good week here last week.

  • Monday’s entry was my entry into the “Blood, Boobs, and Carnage” Blogfest. I think I made a pretty good case for the TV show CSI: Miami as an example of all three. There were three CSI:‘s altogether (four, if you consider the latest entry, CSI: Cyber, starring Patricia Arquette, James Van Der Beek, and Peter MacNicol, which debuted at midseason), and everyone seems to have their favorite and their least favorite. All, save Cyber, have come to a close, with the original CSI: having its grand finale this September. It’ll be the end of an era.
    M. R. R. suggested that almost any 21st Century crime show would fit the theme. This reminded me of the recent Twitter meme, “If ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ were set in a trailer park, it’d be an episode of ‘Criminal Minds.'” Don’t ask why.

  • Tuesday’s featured artist was Cilla Black, considered one of the ladies of the British Invasion even though she didn’t get much airplay in this country. She and Dionne Warwick were great interpreters of the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, which gave me a great idea for the next Battle of the Bands. Tune in a week from tomorrow for that.
  • Wednesday, I noted the last show of David Letterman. I wasn’t particularly impressed with his show after it moved to CBS in 1993, and rarely watched it, typically only when I fell asleep during the news and woke up in the middle of it. My idea of late-night TV runs more to reruns of Perry Mason on MeTV.
  • Speaking of Perry Mason, Thursday was the 98th birthday of its star, Raymond Burr, who died in 1993 (the same year Letterman’s show started on CBS — we’re just full of coincidences here). While Mason was his most-famous role, he was also the star of Ironside, and was in a number of movies, including Love Happy with the Marx Brothers and, as Halfmoon Mollie pointed out, A Place In The Sun with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
  • We announced the winner of my most recent Battle of the Bands on Friday, over who did the better version of Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man.” By a vote of 10-6, Canadian jazz singer Jaclyn Guillou won over Hawai’ian singer Kainani Kakaunaele. Both women did a fine job, though, and you’ll probably hear both of them on a future Two for Tuesday.
  • Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness entry was prompted by the syllable “ke.” Naturally, my entry was about Keoke coffee.

This week, of course, we’ll talk about Memorial Day, feature another British Invasion artist on Two for Tuesday, another Stream of Consciousness entry on Saturday, and a few surprises (meaning I haven’t figured out what I’m going to write about). See you then!

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS SATURDAY: Keoke Coffee!

I saw the prompt for today (ke at the beginning, middle, and/or end of a word), and somehow Keoke Coffee came to mind. It’s like Irish coffee, but instead of Irish whisky, you add Kahlua, creme de menthe and brandy. The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons each of the boozes, 3 cups of black coffee, and whipped cream.

I stopped drinking alcoholic beverages years ago when they told me I had enough blood pressure for two people. I was doing enough of it that it was probably a problem, and I was surprised how easy it was to give it up. When you consider that the prescriptions I take don’t mix well with alcohol, you can understand why. To replace the booze in my diet, I started drinking coffee, soda, and energy drinks, all of which conspired to give me a stroke.

Now, I drink decaffeinated coffee (at Starbucks, since they don’t make decaf after the morning rush for some bizarre reason, I drink decaffeinated Cafe Americano) and water. I used to drink diet soda, but the aspartame had a bad effect on my sleep patterns (i.e. I was going to the bathroom all night), and it probably wasn’t doing my kidneys any favors, either, so I gave it up. A very interesting thing happened when I stopped drinking soda: my blood pressure went down even further. I’m not sure if it was stopping soda or replacing it with water that did the trick, but I think it was both.

Occasionally (i.e. every occasion I can), I get a Birthday Cake shake from Zaxby’s, a Jamocha shake from Arby’s, or a Frappuccino from Starbucks (my current fave is the White Chocolate Mocha, no caffeine please). I usually get the latter when Starbucks awards me a freebie (we’ve been gold card members since 2004).

Do I miss the drinking? Not much. Sometimes I crave a Jack Daniel’s and water or a beer, but we don’t keep any of that in the house. Just as well. Just like sometimes I want a cigarette, even though I quit about 25 years ago. I dream sometimes of sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, drinking espresso and smoking Gaulioses, or drinking absinthe and smoking at the Moulin Rouge, mostly because I’ve never been to Paris and never had absinthe. I have had Gaulioses, though: very, very strong and rough on the throat. At least they were in the 1970’s.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need more decaf…

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If you haven’t guessed by now, this is another Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. Linda Hill started this a while back, and she has all the rules and whatever.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Poetry Man” Results

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

I threw you a curve last week and chose two singers I had never heard of, Canadian Jaclyn Guillou and Hawai’ian Kainani Kahaunaele, as the competitors in a battle over who did a better job of Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man.” I enjoyed both performances myself, which is why I held this battle, and both women have good voices that I look forward to hearing much more of in the coming years.

The main critique of Ms. Guillou was that her jazz version of the song lost the melody, which I can see. It’s not unusual for a jazz combo to reharmonize a melody, and at times the melody can get buried under the arrangement. Ms. Kahaunaele, meanwhile, was both praised and critiqued for her performance; as hers featured just her voice and her guitar player in what almost seemed to be an informal jam on the tune, it put her voice up front, and some folks liked it and others didn’t. Again, I can see that. The voting went back and forth between them, and in the end, Ms. Guillou came out on top.

Jaclyn Guillou: 10
Kainani Kahaunaele: 6

Congratulations to Jaclyn Guillou, and kudos to Kainani Kahaunaele for a strong performance herself.

Be with us again on Monday, June 1, when we play this game again, in what looks like a Bacharach-David battle. See you then!

Happy Birthday, Raymond Burr

If I were to say “Perry Mason” to you, my guess is this is the face that would pop into your head.

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Raymond Burr (source: MeTV.com)

Raymond Burr would be 98 today (he died in 1993). As far as most people are concerned, he was the only man who could play Perry Mason. Back in 1973, Monte Markham starred in what was to have been a reboot of the series; it lasted a season and languished in the ratings. Everyone, it seems, was watching the reruns of the original series in syndication. My grandmother hated Markham as Mason; she said “No one can play Mason but Raymond Burr! Read the books, Burr is the Mason he’s talking about!” Funny thing was, that was what the producers of The New Perry Mason were saying about Markham.

It’s interesting to note that the original actor slated to play Perry was William Talman, and Burr was to have played Hamilton Burger. It was Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of the “Perry Mason” books, who suggested (no, insisted) that the two actors switch roles, and television history was made. Another actor that tested for the role was William Hopper, who got the role of Paul Drake. Here’s his screen test. Ray Collins plays Lt. Tragg, the part he played on the show.

But Burr played many more roles in the movies and on television. He played reporter Steve Martin in the US release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, and reprised the role in Godzilla 1985. He was in Love Happy, the last Marx Brothers movie. He played a number of roles on such shows as Family Theater, Chevron Theater, and The Ford Television Theater, when short dramatic plays provided much of the TV fare.

Maybe his biggest roles outside of Perry Mason were as Lars Thorwald in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window with James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Wendell Corey, and as Robert Ironside, the wheelchair-bound former chief of detectives of the San Francisco Police Department, in the TV series Ironside.

He was a philanthropist and was particularly involved with the USO, having made a number of trips to Vietnam and Korea. He and his partner, Robert Benevides, cultivated orchids and wine grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Port). There were rumors that Burr was gay, but nothing was confirmed until after Burr’s death. Now, we think nothing of someone being gay, but it was scandalous when he started acting.

Mary and I watch Perry Mason almost nightly; it’s on twice a day on MeTV, at 10 AM and 11:30 PM Eastern time. We enjoy watching for actors who went on to fame and fortune later. This past week, a couple of episodes aired that featured Jesse White, who played the Maytag repairman for many years, and Richard Anderson, best known for his role of Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man. One night, George Takei made an appearance; it took us a while to recognize him.

Happy birthday, Raymond Burr. You made the world a better place.

Letterman’s Retiring; Who Cares?


David Letterman (Source: Wikipedia/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CC BY 2.0 license)

When Johnny Carson retired from “The Tonight Show” in 1992, it was a big deal. Carson was the King of Late-Night Television, and none of the other networks could compete with his show. They had tried, but people were still tuning into Johnny after the late news, and every show that tried to compete didn’t get very far. With Johnny gone, who was going to rule late night?

Fast forward to tonight, when David Letterman hosts his last “The Late Show.” You can watch that, “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” on NBC, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC, “The Graham Norton Show” on BBC America, or anything else on the tube. Or you can read a book, or go to bed. Tomorrow night, you can watch “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS, or the other choices as before. Ho hum.

And that’s the difference between the two retirements. Where Carson’s retirement left a huge void that was soon filled with lots of alternatives for late-night viewing, Letterman’s retirement is really no big deal, regardless of what CBS would like you to believe. Many people think he should have retired long ago. Some believe he did retire long ago, but just kept showing up. On a few occasions, I’ve fallen asleep during the late news on WGCL and woken up in the middle of Letterman’s show, and it looked to me like he didn’t want to be there. Rumor has it he wanted to beat Jay Leno’s 20 years at NBC.

Well, congratulations, Dave, you did it. Enjoy your retirement. While you do your last show tonight, I’ll be watching a “Perry Mason” rerun from the 1960’s.

Do you think late-night TV has lost its relevance?

#TwoForTuesday: Cilla Black

You’re my World

Alfie

Every time I read about the British Invasion, Cilla Black’s name comes up, even though she enjoyed limited popularity in the US. It might be because she knew The Beatles, having worked at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, where the Fab Four played a lot of their early shows and were discovered by Brian Epstein. John Lennon asked Brian to audition her, but the audition didn’t go well. However, subsequently he heard her at the Cavern and signed her to a contract.

In addition to being a singer, Cilla has worked in television, beginning with her own variety show in the 1960’s, arranged by Epstein prior to his death. She’s been in a few sitcoms, including Surprise! Surprise!, and hosted a couple of game shows, including Blind Date, a show based on The Dating Game.

The two songs I selected are ones also associated with Dionne Warwick; the two worked extensively with Burt Bacharach and Hal David and recorded many of the same songs. The first is “You’re My World,” from 1964. It rose to #26 on the Hot 100 while going to #1 in the UK. The second is her interpretation of the theme from the movie “Alfie,” from 1965. Her recording only made it to #95 in the US, but reached #9 in the UK. There’s a lively debate on YouTube about whether Cilla’s or Dionne’s is the better version, meaning you could see it as a future Battle of the Bands.

Much more information about Cilla is available on her website, and by all means check out her other songs on YouTube.

Cilla Black, your Two for Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

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