Calculate your chances...negative...negative...negative!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Did people, as in non-audiophiles, think vinyl "sounds warmer" than CDs before that became the mainstream conventional wisdom? I get tired of people parroting that line like it makes them some kind of golden ears when they probably wouldn't know the difference between warm analog and a wet fart. Yes, some records sound better than some CDs. But, some CDs sound better than some records.

The whole line comes from the early 80, around the dawn of CDs, when one could make a blanket statement like that and be pretty much right. At that time, CDs were often times mastered from tapes many times removed from the masters and 80s digital equipment was could be harsh sounding.

However, things have changed a lot since then. Mastering engineers have gotten better at mastering for CD. Equipment has gotten better and it's become standard practice to find the lowest generation tapes for transfer.

In fact, I would make the argument that there are few companies these days putting out records that sound halfway decent, let alone better than their CD counterparts. Though so many label brag about how many grams of vinyl their pressings are*, it's what's in the groove that counts and too often what's in the groove is clipped, sibilant and thin sounding.

Of course, my favorite part of this whole thing is that term "warm". I can't think of any other word people throw around to sound like they know something but it's actually too vague to mean much of anything. I've heard "warm" used to describe everything from something with too much low end to the old hissy, high end rolled off sound of tape. So is warm over bassy or treble deficient?

If people prefer listening to records, that's cool. I know lots of people do, but it always seems to me it has much more to do with aesthetics than a true honest opinion of sound. Records have a hipster snob appeal nothing digital will ever have. The large artwork is usually more impressive and there's still few things as nifty as colored vinyl or a picture disc.

But I have a really hard time taking someone seriously who is trying to tell me they prefer the "warm" sound of their beat up old records on a crappy plastic turntable with a stylus that has needed changing for fifteen years.

* and heavy pressings are another fine example of audiophile snake oil. Yeah, heavy LPs can sound better, but it's not a guarantee. 200 grams of recycled vinyl is still going to sound like shit any way you slice it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I've been on another YouTube posting bender. If you're into stupid commercials from the 80s, I'd recommend you check me out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

More Drive-In!

This may be my favortie drive-in intermission clock of all. Yeah, it doesn't have the cool 50s flavor, but I really dig the 70s computer/techie style. Plus, all that great Optigan music. I really wish I had a better copy of this. The DVD I ripped this from doesn't look much better.

(BTW, this is the whole almost 10 minute sequence. There's some clips that are clearly older in here, but I left them in because they're fun anyway.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PS2 Shotgun Reviews

The other day I did something I hadn't done in a while. I actually fired up my PlayStation 2. Those who know me know I used to be a bit of a videogame geek. I suppose I still am, to an extent, but my interest is almost entirely in old arcade machines, not anything new.

Still, I'll always check out the bargain bins just to see if anything is out there. I haven't had a chance to play anything though as my wrist problems were making that nearly impossible. Post surgery, I'm actually able to play videogames again, so I decided to see what stuff I'd acquired in the time since.

First off, I had to relearn how to use my damn PS2. See, I went all l33t hax0r on it and got a little too clever for my own good. Part of that is, I run the games off a hard drive now which helps as I was starting to get the dreaded read errors. Plus, I can play imports with no problem, which for me, is something I use a lot.

I started out with Tekken 5. I finally broke down and bought the gigantic Tekken 5 collector's edition (or whatever they're calling it) not because I like Tekken, but because it comes with a rather sturdy arcade stick. Fry's had it marked down to $35, which was a good deal. The stick is still in it's break in period and I hate the fact that the buttons are convex rather than concave. It's also gaudy as all hell. Still, it works pretty well. I don't like it nearly as much as my gigantic controller I built for my supergun. Still, it's a keeper, I think.

I fired up Tekken 5 but didn't end up actually playing the game. See, they ported the arcade Tekken 1-3 as part of the game (and you don't have to unlock them! Thanks Namco!) so I screwed around with those for a while. Tekken 1 just feels to me like a flat imitation of Virtua Fighter. Tekken 3, which I played a lot in an old band, is still kind of a scrub fest. The best thing about the disc so far was Starblade which you can play while the game is loading.

Moving on to Capcom Fighting Evolution, I find the use of the word evolution to be curious as this game is pretty much a cut and paste compilation of older Capcom fighters. I mean, literally, the character sprites were just dumped in from older games. They didn't even use the recently redrawn sprites from any of the Vs. games. Gameplay is pretty much by the numbers as well. It's also a bit dissapointing to have such a small character roster with such notables missing and to have a quarter of the characters present from a game never released in the US (Red Earth.) I'd say pass on this, unless you're a completest.

I also fired up Radirgy Precious, a game I didn't care much for when it first came out on Dreamcast. See, I love shmups and I love the fact that they're still releasing Dreamcast games in Japan. But this game bored me. Pretty to look at, but it's one of a growing trend of shmups where half the stuff on the screen can't hurt you. Boring! I though the PS2 version was supposed to be tweaked somehow, but it's more or less the same thing.

Finally, to end on a positive note, I'm entirely in favor of Sega Ages Vol.25: Treasure Box. I've honked off fanboys in the past by saying Treasure is overrated, and I stand by that claim, but when it came to the Genesis, they were nearly flawless. This volume of the venerable Sega Ages series has three of the four games Treasure developed for the Genny; Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy and Alien Soldier. Gunstar Heroes is probably the best run and gun Contra style game I've ever played (though I think it's a little too easy) and Dynamite Headdy is a severely underrated platformer. Personally, I think Alien Soldier was the exact game where Treasure swerved off the track and became more concerned about huge boss battles (the game is pretty much nothing but boss battles) and gimmick gameplay, but at least one can acquire this for less than what the real Genny cart goes for on eBay. In my situation, I had to appreciate the irony at playing these games on a PS2 perched on top of my Laseractive meaning I could have just as easily played the real deal if I'd wanted.

That's it for now. I have tons of other PlayStation games I haven't cracked open yet. Maybe someday.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Call me Mr. Tibbs (Drive-In)

Sometime last week, I bought a bunch of drive-in intermission films on DVD-R. Why? Because I'm a crazy bastard who actually wants to watch 12 hours of crude animation and unappetizing food. Actually, it's another weird nostalgia trip for me as we used to hit the drive-in growing up. I think the most recent film I remember seeing with the family at the drive-in was Ghostbusters II. But, I remember seeing other stuff like Stripes and Star Wars a little farther back than that.

Coincidentally, because I hadn't told her I bought these discs, my fiance suggested we take in a movie over the weekend and let's go to the drive-in. She'd never been. I don't think I've been since the mid-80s when there were actually several drive-ins still operating in Indianapolis. Today, the Tibbs is the only one left.

Tibbs is a four screen drive in showing first run movies. The admission is $9 and the snack bar prices are reasonable. I was a little disappointed they don't have the speaker boxes anymore, but I wasn't terrible surprised. The FM sound is a lot better than I remember drive-in FM radio sound being.

And that brings me to the fact that drive-ins are not for people who would get bent out of shape over not having 5.1 surround and THX optimized screens. Part of the charm of going to the drive-in is the throwback feel to the place.

Of course, the other part is seeing a movie in your car. I can't emphasize enough how sweet that is. I love movies but I hate going to them because I hate people. Plus, it's very difficult for me to not riff on movies. I've been doing it since I was a little kid; it was just something we did to amuse ourselves growing up.

Tibbs is also very appealing to the anti-corporate side of me. It's family owned. You do get bombarded with Scion and cellphone ads in between shows, but the amazing thing is, the films actually start when they are listed as starting. No fifteen minutes of prevues and commercials before the show. Yes, there is the standard ten minute intermission I mentioned above, but that's part of the drive-in experience.

I only wish they had more of the old intermission films showing. :)

So, that's the deal. You can see two films in your car for $9 and the money is going to actual people, not a faceless corporation. You can't beat that, really.

Here's an old InTake article about the drive-ins close by...

BTW, we saw Ricky Bobby. Kristen liked it. I felt it leaned too heavily on very cliche French and gay humor. There were a few scenes worth watching. I think we took in five minutes of Little Man, or whatever the current Wayans brothers travesty is called before deciding to call it a night.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A recount of the first 15 Minutes of The World of Sid & Marty Krofft at the Hollywood Bowl

Y'know, I have a real high tolerance for TV and movie schlock. In fact, one could almost go so far as to say I'm a bit of a masochist when it comes to video. And I have a real soft spot for the work of Sid & Marty Kroft that defies all logic. But even I have my limit...and apparently that end of the road sign reads...

The "TV G" box would indicate this program is safe for all ages, but I honestly think you'd have a case for child abuse showing this to children. Really I tried here. I got about 15 minutes in and wanted to claw my brain out with a rusty melon scooper.

Not to say TWOS&MKATHB (as I'm going to abbreviate it) didn't have it's moments in those first fifteen minutes:

Right off the bat, the Krofts are hitting us with the hard stuff. Johnny Whitaker from Sigmund and the Sea Monsters lipsynchs an incredibly lame song apparently titled "Friends." At any rate, the word is repeated over and over and over ninety million times. Aside from Whitaker looking like if Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka had a Mini-Me, the highlight of the performance was this epic struggle with the mic stand:

During the song, they do a few crowd shots, presumably to show young Johnny's friends. The obviously overdubbed crowd noise sounds like everyone is having a blast, but let's just see what's really going on.

This exact same clip of this girl shows up about 3 times in the portion of this show I actually watched. What's really funny is, the rest of the show seems to take place in the pitch black night where as she's obviously in the day light.

I think she kind of looks like a baby that just shat itself.

This boy looks serious, like he's planning an escape route.

This little girl is my favorite. She looks like she's about to cry.

Another satisfied customer.

Well, mom looks like she's enjoying it. Daughter looks like she's in pain.

Anyway, shortly after this, Johnny jumps off the stage to shake hands and it's like none of the kids want to touch him. Then a couple of kids woosh down the isle to greet him. It smells like a plant to me.

Here's a pan over the audience they did:

Bored bored bored. And back the other way:


Call it foreshaowding, because up next it's the Brady Bunch Kids. (It also magically becomes night, but nevermind that.) No lipsynching for the Bradys. Bum notes and uneven mic levels are the order of the day. But I'll give them credit, they gave it their all, espically Bobby, even though they were clearly under-rehearsed and fighting some silly coreography.

The only thing that could make this worse is knowing Greg is singing "Long Tall Sally" here.

Cindy gets thrown around a lot though, and that's a good thing.

Speaking of Cindy, right after this sequence, she screws up a vocal (who could blame her? I'm suprized she didn't barf after having Greg throwing her around...hell, just touching her. I think there was even groin to groin contact there *shudder*) and makes this fantastic "I just fucked up" face that I can't get a decent capture of. There's lots of Bradys giving each other the oops face in their clip. No matter. The canned audience loved it anyway.

The Brady thing goes on waaaay too long. I think they did half the American Graffiti soundtrack in their time slot. Finally, after that, we get some real Kroft stuff. But you know what? I don't even care. Why? IT'S ANOTHER HORRIBLE SONG!

Jack Wild comes out with Sparky from the Bugaloos and various sundry other Kroft characters and sing some song about where's H.R. Pufnstuf. I DON'T CARE ANYMORE. This was the point where I realised I wasn't really watching a Kroft show, I was watching a wretched 70s variety show.

Why was the 70s such a decade for these things? Did people actually watch them? Were the drugs really that good back then?

I watched the first song and I'm going to spare you screencaps. There was nothing redeeming about it except I don't remember Sparky's butt being so bulbous. I watched part of the second song and I had to throw in the towel.

The other thing that killed this for me was that they got ringers for Witchiepoo and Hoo Doo. Not that I ever saw them, I didn't make it that far. But watching the opening credits, they showed clips and it was clearly not Charles Nelson Riley and Billie Hayes reprising their TV roles. I always thought the kids on these shows were horrible but the adults playing villians were awesome. I mean, I forgot these people actually did things other than appear on Match Game '74!

So, there it is. The first fifteen minutes of TWOS&MKATHB. The horror...the horror...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bow down before greatness.

Apparently I am an electronic music pioneer and didn't even know it. Or so says the "Encyclopedia FunTrivia".

According to them, I wrote the Moog novelty tune Popcorn. Here's the page but for those of you who don't feel like scrolling through that ugly mess, here's a screencap of the money quote:

Now, you may be asking, how do I know they mean me specifically? I know there are millions of Rob Guernseys out there. Trust me, I get confused with the others all the time.

Well, here's the deal. Once upon a time, when the internet was new and all web pages looked like your average MySpace page, I had a web site where I was documenting oddball records I'd bought at thrift stores (sound familiar?) The site, which moved from Anglefire to IUPUI, is long gone and I never bothered to get it hosted elsewhere. This of course means the virtual world is without information on such classics as "Accutrack 2000 Demonstration Record" and "Lonnie Don Talks to Teens."

I still find pieces of it here and there, even though it hasn't been archived. For instance, one of the soul/funk sites ganked my pictures of the Sy Mann and the Brothers version of "Shaft." (I ain't mad at 'em.) But the one thing, other than the aforementioned Accutrack demo record, that keeps coming back is this damn Hot Butter album I wrote about.

At the time (mid 90s) no one else was covering any of this stuff on-line. So, the simple act of throwing up a page about something made you an Internet expert on whatever the subject was.

What happened was, the record in question was a fairly popular novelty tune and I wrote about it. Someone wrote me asking about it. You can still see an archived version of his site here but you're going to have to highlight to actually read it. Because of that guy, I was the expert on that record for a few years.

Where that Encyclopedia FunTrivia site above got the idea that I wrote the song, that's anyone's guess. However, I'm pretty sure they got their info from that guy I liked to above as their little blurb reads like a sloppy cut and paste version of his summary of my page. Because that page is the only place my name is linked with that song, I'm certain that's what's happened.

All I can say is "where my royalties bitches?"

I'm also wondering how I managed to write a song released three years before I was born and penned three years prior to that? Damn I'm good.

Oh, and if you don't know the song, here's a corny MIDI file to annoy your loved ones with.

PS- Big respect to Gershon Kingsley, the man who actually wrote "Popcorn".

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Where's Robo?

I suppose I've hit that middle slump everyone who starts a blog must hit. That is, after an initial flurry of posts, posting slows to a trickle, when the blogger can be bothered to post at all. This is usually followed by abandonment of blog which then usually becomes overrun with comments like this:

"hi i really like your post on this subject it is informative an d well thought out. for the best in hot teen online poker please go to..."

I actually have a legit excuse or five. Well, I think they are legit anyway. So, here goes:

First off, my apartement is almost unliveable. It's hot as satan's ass in there and it looks like the inside of a thirft store (see any of my previous "thrift score" posts for possible reasons why, at least for the second part.) So, I'm in the middle of purging stuff like a squad of cheerleaders the day before prom.

Right now, most of my living room looks like a loading dock. There's stuff packed up waiting for payment, there's packing material stacked up all around, there's stuff waiting to go back to the thrifts, etc., etc., etc. A lot of my spare time is being spent on eBay when I'm not sorting through stuff, trying to decide what to keep and what to lose.

I also decided, since I'm going through all this junk anyway, now would be a good time to catalog everything. I sprung for some software which is making life a lot better. Still, it's not an entirely easy process and it's pretty damn time consuming.

In the process of doing this, I realize I've either lent out or lost my favorite Miles Davis CD; a Japanese import with is going to set me back $50+ to replace. I am not happy about that one bit. However, I'm suprized that's all that's come up missing. Somehow, I've managed to keep all this stuff straight in my head for years. I have no idea how that one got away.

The records are going to be a real bitch to catalog. Everything else I can scan the barcode, which for about 65-70% of my CDs covers it. Most of my records are pre-UPC and that project is going to involve a lot of manual entry. Anyone wanna be my intern?

Where was I?

OK, there's all that and I'm spending most of my evenings eBaying stuff or scanning barcodes, sitting in my drawers, sweating my balls off. If I'd been blogging the past few weeks, pretty much every entry would read just like that.

Other than that, things have been ok. Really, I just haven't had much to say. I told you all about the Free Zone changeover, I mentioned Svetlana's show (we got blown off the stage, btw,) and I haven't been thrifting much lately as I'm trying to get stuff out. Umm...really that's about it. Hope you all have been well and in a few weeks I plan to be back on track and have some more interesting things to say.