Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Puzzling Puzzle of Useless Uselessness

Back in 2008, I created a multi-media alt opera entitled Communication Breakdown: A Journey Down the Misinformation Superhighway. This production featured an electroacoustic soundtrack to spoken performances by actors Penn Kemp and Jeff Culbert along with video projections by Maurice Carroll. It was presented at the McManus Theatre as part of the annual Fringe Theatre Festival.

The focus of the production was that the entire “libretto” consisted of the text taken from spam e-mails. For around two years, I collected junk e-mail via a couple of accounts that I deliberately set up as spam magnets. Over that period of time, I collected over 8,000 spams. With the assistance of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, I was able to use this source material to create an opera which was based solely on the content of these copious bits of annoying junk.

After spending months pouring over the e-mails, I whittled down the number to a usable number with appropriate content for the production. These ranged from scams to relieve your bank account of cash to offers of various sex toys and services. The amount that I was left with after the filtering process meant that I was able to provide enough raw material in order to make all three performances of the work different in their content. So, each of the three performances was unique in its own way.

Back in April of this year, I decided to start this blog in order to coincide with my retirement from the radio airwaves. That is when I revamped my website using WordPress.

I’ve found that WordPress has been a very useful tool in order to organize and diffuse my written thoughts via my blog and website. However, I have also discovered that it is just another one of those magnets from spam.

From the first day that I set up the blog/website, I started to get spam. This has come in the form of people attempting to post junk messages as comments on various blog post pages. Fortunately, the posts are moderated and I must manually go in to approve them before they get displayed on the site. In fact, the banner at the top of the page explicitly states, “Please note: Posts are moderated. This is a spam-free zone”.

This, however, does not seem to stop people from trying to bog down these page with incomprehensible gobbledygook. While most of these posts are filtered into a spam file folder, I still manage to get quite a few heading into the regular folder awaiting my consent to allow it to be posted as a legitimate comment on various blog post pages.

At this point in time, I wonder just why people can even be bothered to try to circulate this kind of garbage? What is the point? Apparently, some people have way too much time on their hands and it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy to waste their time.

Hmmmm…

I would imagine that in no time this post will soon be attracting even more useless offers to the comments section. Spammers are as welcome as a Hitler made of spiders.

Edit: Since this original posting, I decided to disable the comments function of the blog posts and web pages. The junk continued arriving. So, I disabled another function called “pinging” and the junk miraculously disappeared. I have noticed on my stats page that I still continue to get visitors coming via those scammy websites. But, they can no longer drop their dung on my lawn (so to speak). So long, f’ers.

Chris Squire 1948 – 2015

Bassist Chris Squire was a founding member of the band Yes. He passed away in Phoenix, AZ after recently being diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia.

Yes have been a part of my musical listening experiences for close to 45 years. While I likely heard some music from their first couple of albums on Detroit and Windsor FM radio stations back in the day, it was their third LP – The Yes Album – that really grabbed my attention. Of course, I was not alone.

Squire’s contributions to the sound of the band can not be overstated. His rippling, rhythmic and melodic bass work not only grounded the music¬†but, wove a unique sonic texture throughout the songs. I could never image their music with another bassist in his place.

In addition to his work with the band, he also released the solo album Fish Out of Water at the tail end of 1975. For me, this was the finest solo album to come out of the Yes camp. It’s an LP that I still spin on a regular basis. It still sounds as fresh to me today as it did forty years ago.

Here is a link to his obituary at Ultimate Classic Rock.

Chris Squire - A Fish Out of Water (Atlantic, CAnada)

 

 

Remembering Ornette Coleman 1930 – 2015

Ornette Coleman passed away on June 11th at the age of 85. He was a jazz legend who ranks among the greats such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis. While he probably sold less records than those two other artists, his influence on music certainly rivaled them.

Coleman’s 1958 debut album called Something Else!!!! in 1958 caused a stir in the jazz world that would continue to divide listeners and critics for years to come. His approach to melody, harmony and rhythm was part of his own view of what he called “harmolodics”.

His music was unique, inspired and inspiring. As with Davis and Coltrane, his sidemen over the years reads like a Who’s Who of jazz innovators. People like Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins all traveled though his groups.

I first heard Coleman’s music at some point in the 1970s. It wasn’t until some years later that I started adding his music to my collection. The advent of the CD era seemed to make it easier to find his recordings. These often included extra tracks recorded at the same sessions.

I also tried to track down copies of his albums on vinyl whenever possible. In the end, I managed to amass quite a large selection of his work in both formats (sometimes with duplication).

As my friend David Lee (jazz writer and former editor of Coda magazine) has mentioned, Coleman’s death is not a time for sadness. He was around producing his own personal style of music for decades. So, it is more a time to celebrate the work that he left us over so many years.

Luckily for us, Ornette Coleman did not die at an early age like Jimi Hendrix. In the latter’s case, we can only be left to speculate on what he would have done had he lived beyond the age of 27. In Coleman’s case, we were truly blessed to have heard his world of sound evolve over many years.

Ornette Coleman’s obituary from The Guardian