Foreign Invasion

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Now I watch a lot of broadcast TV and you should too.  It’s the best way to gather information about the world other than the dark web but you aren’t ready for that. Patience.

When I’m not watching the #1 rated drama on US network television, NCIS, or one of its clones, on Sunday nights I sometimes creep over to the so-called “Public” television outlets on my high speed digital network.  Now today, in this 21st Century Comb-Over Era, perception and expectation are everything, and I expect to only perceive British accents over on what we will now call for brevity’s sake, the PBS television network.

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On a Sunday evening I expect to relax to some BBC 19th century parlor drama on my local public television station.  Some programs on Public Television are actually from other UK production outlets like the commercial ITV.  This is fine by me as long as they get the accent right.  I’m as free market as the next yob when it comes to high brow television. But what’s got me really upset now is that they are starting to screen inferior accented series from Australia and New Zealand on public television.  As if we couldn’t tell the difference between a British accent and an Aussie accent.  Some people may be fooled, but not me. When I see my Pride and Prejudice I don’t want anybody popping off to Outback Steakhouse during the sponsor breaks at pledge time.

Unlike the US, Australia and New Zealand are just down in the mouth British colonies that couldn’t make it on their own.  Australia is just a shabby California. There’s nothing high brow or hoity-toity about these convict transportation camps that would interest the more advanced American viewers of TV like myself.  It’s shameful to screen ersatz Brideshead Revisiteds next to genuine smart English television content.  You can always perceive when someone is trying to make it on the cheap. Substitute margarine for butter.  Made in Polynesia for made in the UK.  A downturn in pledge dollars doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in quality.  How much could reruns of Good Neighbors or As Time Goes By cost?  As in all British TV, economical production values are overcome by high brow accents and big words where smaller words would normally suffice on large budget US TV programs like NCIS.  That’s what the literate public TV viewer expects.  Not G’day or throw another kangaroo on the barbie.  Public TV has lost its rudder.

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Alistair Cooke – More American than Apple Pie

Now we accept Irish, Scots, and Welsh or even Indian accents in our public television content because these are necessary for verisimilitude especially when properly accented English people are really in charge.  This is only logical.  Every country has its aboriginal peoples.  Even America has Southern accents, but nobody is going to believe a documentary series about our founding fathers where people talk like they are from Atlanta or Sydney, people expect a British accent, and a low budget British production in some dreary castle would be even better.  After all who is better suited to present past glories than the British?  Nobody in America wants to see stories about small villages in the 1940s, or the 19th century in Australia or New Zealand and if public TV thinks they can foist this on American pledge givers as British programming just because cable network BBC America now gets the cream of British programming, along with the Star Trek franchise, well they need to wake up and smell the tea brewing.  Pasty complexions, bad teeth and posh accents are what we expect on Sunday night.

Now with Brexit on the horizon the fear is that even more Oceania programming will make it onto the lucrative US public TV market.  I say don’t stand for it.  God Save the Queen! Vote with your pledge dollars. Sure you can expect lower production values in British television as a result but these can always be overcome with longer words and posher accents.  More specials with dead 1950s and ’60s doo wop and pop groups are no substitute for high brow British mini series.

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One yearns for the days when Alistair Cooke introduced Masterpiece with the proper Theater sup-pended to it.  However, Alan Cummings, although with a Scots accent, is almost more an American staple than Cooke.  Now if only the current content were as good.

I say put the Theater back in Masterpiece and take the Masterpiece out of Mystery.  Don’t stand for inferior colonial programming.  The next thing you know they’ll be putting programming from the ultimate failed colony, Canada, on public TV.  The most patriotic thing you can do today is write to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or your local PBS station to keep our American public television exclusively British.

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Sorry

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In my favorite TV show, NCIS, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs has a list of rules that he uses to pretty much run his life.  Like rule number 9 is “Always carry a knife.”  Pretty useful, huh.  You could do worse, and probably do, by not writing things like this, that I tell you, down.  Now NCIS has really gone downhill since the Ziva and Tony glory days but some things are timeless, and Gibbs’ rules are one of those timeless things and one of his rules is “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.”  Well I’m gonna be weak here because 1) I’ve let you down by ignoring you dear blog time waster so long, and 2) I posted all those dumb book reviews from Booklikes.  Why read these days when you can watch TV almost anywhere, so why review books?  Time waster.  Life waster.  Bandwidth waster.  I apologize.

Now that that’s out of the way, I want to remind you; I don’t really want to say I told you so, but I told you so, so I’m going to say it:  the comb-over is a problem.  Way back in June of 2013 I said this.  Here’s the link:

Comb Over

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President Donald Trump with Convicted Felon Joe Arpaio

I know our world has other more serious problems, like the Mayweather-McGregor fight, or the Kardashians starting to wear down a few teeth, but now you see you need to go back over my prior blog posts and review my sage advice.  You’ll be better for it.  Our country will be better for it, and our planet will be better for it.

Mark Harmon has never sported a comb-over.  Remember, I told you so…

Trial bt Internet

Review:

Trial by Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case - Douglas Preston

I probably have rated it higher than it should be but it was quite thought provoking. Not so much another dissection of the trial that seemed to never end as the rampant online fury that surrounded Amanda and Raffaele, people that not only were blatantly innocent but who these people couldn’t have possibly known anything about other than what was fed to them via social networks, websites, and overtly biased media outlets. What possible stake could Jim Bob in Timbuktu have in the sad tale of one British student’s brutal murder in Perugia, Italy and the quite obviously framed defendants? Why wish the innocent guilty, and so vehemently, or care at all with everything else that is going on in the world?

Preston, yes that Douglas Preston of Preston & Child, does a good job of distilling the workings and psychology of online mob hysteria and retribution and how it starts and spreads virally. He focuses not so much on the details of this actual event as on the meta-level workings of the frenzy and how literally thousands of individuals can make death threats against someone they don’t know and don’t have any stake in based purely on mob dynamics and biological and social evolution.

Original post:
Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1207615/trial-bt-internet

No Future

Review:

Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored - John Lydon

Intelligent without being intellectual and always entertaining. And what about that whine? Lydon via Andrew Perry more or less chronologically recounts his life from a wee lad to the present time. A born raconteur, Lydon relates the saga of his life in the Sex Pistols and beyond and everything in-between. Full of laughs there are also decidedly more serious and tender moments than you would expect and Johnny comes off as a fairly serious person, not one for sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll but he’s seen it, just not participated. He’s refreshingly self-deprecating while at the same time you can see his actual pride in the things he has done. As you would expect he lives life to the fullest and has no time for fools.

 

Not as many sneers as you might expect.

 

All you english teachers stay away from this, Mr. Lydon has his own way of speaking and writing and it ain’t textbook correct. It’s more like listening to someone verbatim that knows how to speak but doesn’t know proper grammar.

 

Still, blind acceptance is the sign,
Of stupid fools who stand in line, like…

Original post:
Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1186563/no-future

Siamo Innocenti

Review:

Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir - Amanda Knox

Reams of paper have been wasted on this trial.  This and Raffaele Sollecito’s books are the only ones you “need” to read.  The rest are just full of idle speculation and rumor.  At the same time this book should never have been written.  Ms. Knox should have been off doing whatever it was she wanted to do after her year of Study Abroad in Italy.  Still we all know what happened.

For those of you that are still “on the fence” about Amanda’s culpability, well you must still believe the earth is only 6,000 years old and that the jury is still out on Galileo.  There was never ever a shred of evidence that Knox or Sollecito committed any crime whatsoever and an overeager media, public, police, and a prosecutor literally bent on a 17th century witch trial ended up taking one tragedy and trying to make it into three, the lone perpetrator safely ensconced behind bars for most of the time this mess went on.  The fact that Knox and Sollecito were both attractive and Knox American, strangely, or maybe not so, worked against them.

The writing isn’t great, but how can it be and stick to the facts?  There is enough mystery and suspense and truly bizarre hijinks without any authorial tricks.  It reads more like testimony than biography and doesn’t always convey what a fiction writer could have added to make the narrative a little more exciting at times.  Still, this wasn’t the writer’s goal and at times the necessity to reveal in detail certain personal details that should quite rightly have remained private can still make the (sane) reader squirm.

There are the usual superfluous photographs that we’ve all seen a million times, but at least Knox could pick out the pose this time.

I hope she and Raffaele make scads of filthy lucre off the affair, enough to never worry about money to at least make up for some of the misery and the loss of some of the best years of their lives.

I also hope somebody also remembers Meredith Kercher and her sad and terrifying violation and murder at the hands of some Ivory Coast drifter.  That’s what we should have been talking about the whole time.

Original post:
Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1169715/siamo-innocenti

Goodreads has stolen this blog . . . seriously

Author Douglas A. Anderson posted this from the multi-contributor blog Wormwoodiana:

 

“Yes, Mark Valentine and I were very distressed today to learn that Goodreads has usurped this blog and posted it at their own site, renaming it “Mark Valentine’s Blog” even though this blog is multi-authored. Neither Mark nor I gave any such permission for this action, nor did we know it had happened until today.

In my view, this moves Goodreads (owned by Amazon.com) into the top of the Corporate Scum Pile. We have sent requests for it to be completely removed, but this is something we should never have had to do, if the corporate raiders would leave other people’s stuff alone.

See it for yourself. Here is the URL for the stolen blog:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/33552.Mark_Valentine/blog

***Update. Thanks to Ryan (see comments), this now appears in snippet form, but it’s still misnamed as Mark”s blog when it isn’t.***

I hope this link goes dead soon.  Real soon.  And any inclination I might ever have had to join Goodreads is now gone.

The sad thing, too, is that both Mark and I now feel less inclined to post anything other than snippets of news here. All thanks to the unconscionable theft by Goodreads.”

Original post:
Gumbywan.booklikes.com/post/1157858/goodreads-has-stolen-this-blog-seriously

The Real King of Rock and Roll

This one is gonna get me in a lot of trouble.

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Elvis was good, hell Elvis was great.  He made colored music acceptable (or at least accessible) to prejudiced white folks.  He was also a great performer and really probably a pretty good guy all in all.  He could identify a great song.  He was criminally manipulated by his so-called friends and screwed by the US government.  But my friend, I’m sorry to tell you, despite all of this, he is not the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  No siree.  He is merely the White King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Not a bad thing to be really.  Right up there.

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So who is the real King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, you ask?  Chuck Berry.  That’s it.  The real King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Why?  Because he invented it, plain and simple.  The riffs T-Bone Walker was fingering, Berry was bending; that and four major chords says it all.  Johnny B. Goode is as much an autobiography as any blues song ever written.  At the same time Berry was bending he was also freeing rock and roll from its blues roots, making it acceptable for a white boy to sing and play it.  No more blues minor chords.  We’re off to feelin’ good now.  Off to the Beach.  Surfin’ USA.

Berry is the oh so woefully underappreciated inventor of rock and roll.  No longer would it be called “race music.”  So why is this self evident fact largely unacknowledged.  Why is Elvis the marquee while good ol’ Chuck is almost a footnote?  Why don’t we say:  “Chuck:  The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll?”  Because America was (is?) a racist society that is sculpted by the Media.  Chuck was Black.  Chuck was a Man (not a cute teenager).  Chuck was not the sleek white American ideal of what a star should be.  And heaven forbid that 13-year old white girls should swoon over a black man.

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So the next time you listen to Sweet Little Sixteen, Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music, Maybelline, Run Rudolph Run, Little Queeny, Carol, or the Sex Pistols, or Johnny Thunders, or the New York Dolls, or The Ramones, or The Beach Boys, or the early Beatles, or the Rolling Stones remember who the real King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is.

He could play that guitar just like a ringin’ a bell.

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Faster and Louder Part 3 (To Hell with the Boys)

tohellwiththeboysNobody likes the same music I do.  That’s because they’re stupid.  I like fast and loud songs with funny and intelligent lyrics.  Nothing too long in case you don’t like that particular song.  Then it’ll get over sooner and another, better, louder and faster song, will take its place.  Overamped guitars and just enough of a Johnny Thunders type guitar solo to make the middle 8 kick ass for the chorus and a lively end to the song.  None of that Jazz or Blues improvisation; never a weak fade-out ending, that’s for folk singers and singer-songwriters like the despised James Taylor.  Something you can pogo to and get a nosebleed.  Good times.

Even J.S. Bach knew this way back when (No, I’m not looking it up).  They didn’t have electricity, so no electric guitar; no faster and louder; it was just a dream.  Then they invented pipe organs.  Don’t need electricity.  All they needed was some dumb ass like you to keep the bellows going.  Herr Bach knew what to do with it.  Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  Fast and LOUD.  Creepy too.  You can go beserk to Toccata like Keith Emerson before he became too pretentious (get out your dictionary).  If you can climb into the pipe loft you can really go berserk.  Louder than a Who and Ramones concert together.  Blow your eardrums out.  The pedal notes will make your chest vibrate better than a Kanye West rap in a 2010 Cadillac.

They knew what they were saying when they said:  “Go for Baroque.”  I bet they were sweatin’ in the pews.  Toccata yo’ mama.  Good times that 17th century.  Kicked ass over the Middle Ages.

Fast forward to 1975.  London.  Kids sick of ’70s slower and softer music.  Glam is dead.  People want to hang hippies in effigie (I blame the ’60s for most of your problems).  A bunch of guys come together and want to make some music but it’s gotta be faster and louder.  They want to sound like the Beatles, only the good Beatles pre-St. Peppers Lonely Old Farts Band, or whatever.  They want to make music like the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, The Who, The Small Faces, all the good bands from the sixties, but it’s gotta be better.  And you know what that means:  faster and louder.  The genesis of The Boys.

Soaring harmonies and punk rock guitars, but with intelligence, tongue in cheek, and what’s most important faster and louder; actual songs that have hooks that you can pogo to or just go wild.  Forget poseurs like the Boomtown Crap or the Dead Boring Boys.  We mean Jam and Who songs with a little Ramones thrown in.  And actually singing, not some sod in a leather jacket screaming into a microphone like Dave Vanian.  Real harmonies and background vocals but still faster and louder.

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The problem was The Boys were too good.  Too punk for the “New Wave” pop poseurs and too pop for the punks.  What else can you say about a group that Joey Ramone and Paul Weller both said was their favorite band?  Weller even had a Boys sticker on his Rickenbacker (look at the cover of All Mod Cons).

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First there were the singles, then the eponymous (Did you put the dictionary away?)
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.  Next the magnificent Alternative Chartbusters, then their masterpiece, To Hell with the Boys, and finally the undeservedly maligned Boys Only.  How could I forget the notoriously tasteless Christmas Album by The Yobs?  Over the years a number of B-sides and throwaways have been reissued on CD, just proving that a Boys throwaway was a song most other bands would have killed for:  She’s No Angel, Schooldays.

A pitiful lack of recognition by the trendy fruity uninspired synthesizer music industry that became the early ’80s caused the band to break up.  Honest John Plain joined the worthless Lurkers for awhile, he wrote their best song, New Guitar in Town, and then went on to keep the flame alive in other places and with solo work with various backup bands.  Well fast forward again to 2014, The Boys are back.  Punk Rock Menopause.  Great title, eh.  Faster and Louder than even the old Boys.

I wish they would tour the States again.  I’d drive a long way to see ’em, and you should too.  Fly to London right now and catch a gig and pick up a Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic show on the side while you’re there.

I once drove 180 miles both ways on the same night to see a band, but that’s another faster and louder story.

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Fitbit Zip-shit

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Fitbit Zip Tracker

You know I’m here to protect you from the depredations of grifters and tricksters – flim-flam men and snake oil dealers.  You know that.  Well I’ve uncovered one of the most unethical and morally corrupt corporations out there and I’m here to protect you from them today.  My sad personal tale and my suffering should stand as a warning to all of you.  I’m willing to shoulder the shame that comes from admitting I’ve been bamboozled just for your sake.  I’m that big of a person.

Today’s whipping boy is the shameful and corrupt Fitbit corporation, makers of various fitness tracker devices that purport to help people digitally, electronically, track their fitness, steps, diet, and sleep.  Instead I’m going to show how this corporation is responsible for the death and disability of hundreds if not thousands of people here in the United States.

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The Culprit

Although Fitbit makes a number of high buck tracking devices, my particular expose has to do with the “affordable” tracking device called the Zip.  (see picture).  Well, this $50 piece of unadulterated crap and the corporation behind it are responsible for the most shocking lies and one of the most pernicious shell games ever played on people trying to extend their miserable lives.

I had one of these Zip pedometer trackers given to me by my sister for my birthday.  Now I’m carrying a little extra girth these days so I could stand to miss a few meals and take a few more steps.  I know this goes against the lifestyle I’ve laid out for you, but if I die who will take care of you, dear blog reader?  Nobody, that’s who.  So I may need to stick around a little longer than I’d like just to make sure you are okay.  Again, I’m that big a person.  My sister cares for my life and gave me this little canker as a symbol of her affection, so I could lose a few pounds and keep the ol’ ticker going.

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Worthless

Well I received the said device on July 14.  At precisely 10:15 am on August 4 the dog turd purported pedometer called the Zip stopped working.  It would not sync any longer to my Fitbit account.  I tried everything the worthless Fitbit troubleshooting guide website said to do to resurrect this little piece of hell on earth:  reinstall software, reset device, add as a new device, etc.  The computer saw the little thingy, my particular device, but kept insulting me by saying there was no account paired to the device.  I kindly contacted the Fitbit corporation by e-mail (no phone support, this should have started the alarm bells ringing) after doing everything the website suggested.  Little did I know that this would open one of the most damaging experiences in my short stay on this mortal coil.

After giving me a bit of a runaround about taking it back to the store it was bought at (Target), they reluctantly agreed to send me a new Zip.  They even admitted my device was defective.  I was as happy as a clam at high tide.  I even complimented the corporation, a certain Nancy R and the Fitbit Team,  in my e-mail and said I would recommend their company’s products because their customer service was so helpful.  Oh dear reader, did I make a grave mistake.

In due time the second implement of fitness evil arrived, a new Zip.  Groovy.  All is well with the world.  I disable the old device and log into my Fitbit account.  I insert the USB dongle.  I install the software (for the third time!).  The computer sees my new little tracker.  I go to “add a new device” and it asks me for the dreaded four-digit code starting with zero (this had worked with the first device).  To my utter bafflement there was no code displayed below the four little cubes on my computer screen.  I hit the “Try Again” button.  No dice.  I see that it says below to click here for help.  I click.  I see the same worthless troubleshooting guide on the Fitbit website.  Rage ensues.  I rail about the insidious device on both the Amazon and Target websites.

I notice something on the Amazon website, 10% of the ratings for the Zip are one-star, if you add the two-star, 17%.  I read the reviews.  All say the same:  “quit working, wouldn’t sync after X days, weeks, months.” (no more than the number 3 for X)  Is something fishy in Denmark?  Is there a faggot in the woodpile?  You betcha.  Fitbit has been flooding the world with these worthless little defective pedometer trackers for months, and knows it.  How do I know, because each one of these Amazon complaints has the same comment from Fitbit attached to it:

Randolph,

We’re sorry to hear that. We’re always happy to help you get setup. Please reach out (sic) to us at contact.fitbit.com for help. In your email, please include a link to this Amazon review, for reference. We very much look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Fitbit Support

Here is my Amazon review:

Piece of crap. Stick with Nike products. After my first Fitbit quit working (would not sync suddenly), complained to Fitbit and they kindly sent me a second one. When this one would not give me the four digit zero-code too, I tried EVERYTHING on the Fitbit website to resurrect both devices. The computer sees the device but either won’t give me the zero-code nor pair with my account. Yes, I did everything, I am not computer illiterate. I spent literally hours reinstalling software, etc. My time is worth something too. This is $50 wasted.

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Now here is the really criminal part.  Some people purchased these hateful things for themselves or loved ones because they love and care about them.  Maybe they spent their last $50.  They want them to live a bit longer, be able to spend more quality time with them before they take the big sleep.  Now what happens?  The device fails, not just ruining physical fitness programs but raising blood pressure at the same time.  And where, my dear friend, does this lead? Premature death because of the defective Zip device.  Peoples’ lives ruined as they abandon health regimes the happy Zip face promised them.  Heart attacks and strokes at the frustration of trying to follow the Fitbit “support” advice for the umpteenth time.  Do you see where I’m going?  This is not just having your iPhone break, not being able to text, but your very life essence drained as you despair about your wasted and now hopeless fitness program.  Bingeing on Twinkies now to soothe a savaged soul.  All because of the evil Fitbit corporation.

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Well dear friends, I’m not taking this lying down.  Well yes I am.  Trying to get MY blood pressure under control even as I pass the word on to you.

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Where the Zip will leave you.

I know,I know, I should have taken my own advice and always expected to be disappointed, and I see now how true this is especially when it comes to Fitbit.

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Crap