Friday, June 22, 2012

Bug Juice

It's been hot. On the summer solstice, the temperatures were to climb into the upper 90s and linger there for several days. I was going to need lots of liquid, and I knew it. I generally buy bottled spring water. The kind from real springs, the kind that tastes clean, if clean can be said to have a taste. I buy it in round clear plastic bottles that don't leach the taste of plastic into the water. My tap water is good, but not New York City tap water good. Even so, the water here is the best of any place I've lived in Brattleboro. Except. Except it has an overpoweringly strong smell of what my aging brain starts to say is chlorophyll, then chloroform, and which eventually settles down into chlorine. The heat was going to take more liquid than I wanted to purchase or carry. Something would have to be done.

The answer came from my response to my having filed for early retirement. I filed on June the 6th, D-Day, the first day I was legally able to do so. I found that early retirement isn't when I turn 62 in early September, but when one is 62. My first month of retirement, the computer assured me, would be October. Two weeks later the paperwork in the mail told me that I could expect my check for the month of October to be deposited in my account on approximately November the 15th. My first thought, after the horror of having to work a little longer flashed through my consciousness, was to request someone pass the grape kool-aid. I decided to take the suggestion. Kool-aid is cheap. Except you have to pour in a cup of sugar for every two quarts.

I never realized how much Kool-aid tastes like liquid jello. I've been on a jello with sliced bananas and grapes kick for the last few months. It's a cheap enough snack. After that first shock of recognition, two words floated by as if carried on a slight summer breeze of memory. Bug Juice. There is a picnic table not far from the back door, isn't it under the boughs of a mulberry tree? There is a plastic table cloth of red checkerboard. There are paper plates and cups and napkins and I am four or five in the backyard of the house on Allen Street. It is too hot to eat inside. And it is the kind of humid in which even light cotton feels wet as it clings to the body. There is a slight summer breeze in the twilight. Floating along it are fireflies.

There is a long sigh in the present. I miss the fireflies. There seem to be fewer every year. I haven't seen any for the last two years. I searched the internet on the subject. Lots of people have noticed. Loss of habitat. Pesticides. Changing weather patterns.

I am four or five, and chasing fireflies in the backyard. A glass jar is in my hands. Its lid has many holes poked into it. I use it to try to capture the magic twinkling light because it is special, and I will be special if I can keep it with me, twinkling beside my bed as I drift away on the slight summer breeze.

I am 61 now and the world, and I, have changed.
I miss the fireflies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What have we wrought?

There are lots of things I have intended to post here, but I often lack the time and the moment passes. I should probably let this next bit go, but my dander is up, as we used to say. This subject isn't anything new, nor do I expect to let loose any comment which would earn a hallowed spot in the curmudgeon hall of fame.

One of the 'soft news' articles published today concerns people (invariably young - or at least much younger than myself) who use Twitter. Twitter uses a limited number of spaces for quick messages. The results have come close to destroying our ability to use language.

By way of example, I shall site a former resident of Brattleboro who now lives in Florida. He obtained a one hour time slot on our community radio station for which he pre-records a show which I then download and put into our automation program. In an email exchange discussing preparation of a new show (he was under the impression we hadn't used his previous effort) he wrote:

"yeah...the reason y i did do another 1 is because u didnt use that 1 so if u can use that 1 for tomm n ill get u a new 1 next week...."

In a world of abbreviated messaging, I suppose that I should applaud his creativity in communication. I am, however, appalled.

Things just got worse.

The article I noted above records responses published on Twitter regarding recent topics in the news. A current sample: "Who is Rodney King?", "Is it bad that idk who Rodney King is,  cause I don't."

Okay, fair enough. Name in the news, flashpoint for the LA riots, all of that was some time ago now.

But then there's comments like these, tweeted during the Grammy Awards back in February:

"who the hell is paul mccartney lomao he hella old!"

"im about to sounds naiive as F but who the hell is Paul McCartney??? this song sucks btw"

"Who tf is Paul Mccartney. ldgaf. Who he is he hella old too."

Okay, I'm horrified, but I'll let that one go, pop music has changed.

Here's the quotes that really got me:

"Wait! Titanic really happened? I thought it was just a movie."

"Guys, the Titanic was real! #mindblown."

"The titanic was real holly shit im never gooing on a cruise"

I was going to use all of this as a springboard to a minor diatribe against our modern world, but I've reconsidered and I think I'll just leave it there.

Monday, June 18, 2012

So much for "Private"

Back at the beginning of this year, there was a post on this blog which noted the birthday of an entertainer by the name of Sophie Tucker, who passed away almost 50 years ago. As an illustration of Ms. Tucker's style and song delivery - a style relegated to a time long gone - I created and posted my first You Tube video from materials in my personal files. The video comprised a song clip from a movie released in 1937.  The movie studio involved has been bought and sold several times, and there are hundreds of clips from that studio's movies on You Tube.

The clip was intended solely for use on this blog, and was thus marked "Private".

Today, I received  the following email from You Tube (owned by Google, which also owns Blogger, the host of this site):

YouTube help center | e-mail options | report spam
Dear --(I deleted my YouTube account name from this post)---,

Your video "SophieTucker.mpg", may have content that is owned or licensed by Quiz Group Pro, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.

This claim is not penalizing your account status. Visit your Copyright Notice page for more details on the policy applied to your video.

- The YouTube Team 

© 2012 YouTube, LLC
901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066


Of course I immediately took a look at my You Tube account. The video was still marked "Private". When played, my video had an advertising banner at the base of the You Tube frame.

I worked for many years in the movie business, many of them in the area of repertory and revival titles. I know a lot about copyrights, underlying copyrights (i.e. a song used in a film clip may not be owned by the studio who made the movie), etc. I have never heard of "Quiz Group Pro". I know who owns the copyright to the film clip, and I know who owns the rights to the music. Neither are owned by Quiz Group Pro. Nor are they licensed by Quiz Group Pro. So who is Quiz Group Pro? An internet search turned up a Russian marketing company which claims it is the #1 You Tube partner in Russia. "We run the most profitable revenue sharing programs on YouTube..."

Now, my account did not suffer any strikes against it based on their copyright claim - made against a PRIVATE video with a total of 13 views. To have such a claim, they are supposed to have on file with Google/You Tube a copy of the material that the Google/You Tube scearchbot utilizes to see if there are  sufficient similarities to justify their claim. I do not have money. If I did, I would notify Google/You Tube and demand to see the proof of this claim. Such action could open one up to a lawsuit. I did find notice of one person who went to court over such claims (don't know from who) and won, but it is still an expensive proposition. And, if I had money, I would take on Google/YouTube for even allowing such a scan in an area that was supposed to be "Private".

Although I was in no way required to do so, I deleted the clip. And the only reason I did so is that I will not provide the vehicle for someone else's free ride advertising revenue. 

Caveat emptor and all that.