Saturday, December 09, 2006

Random Saturday

Random stuff...

1) Stocking up for Winter:

My beloved husband went grocery shopping and I have a great photo of the 5 (FIVE!) Kozy Shack Old Fashioned Rice Puddings now occupying the top shelf of the refrigerator, alongside the Sljivovica Old Plum Brandy (can't fault him for knowing what he likes ;-). Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't seem to want me to share the photo with you. So just imagine if you will...

2) Select iPod questions, posited here in case anyone out there has answers:

a) Is there any way to transfer music off of the iPod and on to the iTunes library on my hard drive (I've got no problem going the other way, from the library to the pod) so that I can then do a brain dump of everything from my pod onto my husband's (not that he would want this, but still)? I no longer have the music in my library because I deleted most of it, including that which was downloaded, to avoid clogging up the arteries of my hard drive.

b) Why isn't iTunes always able to retrieve album information (artists, song titles, etc) automatically? I just finished copying a stack of CDs and in one instance, iTunes recognized two of the three volumes in a set? Why not the 3rd?

3) I have not done any of my Christmas shopping yet (unlike some, who are breathing through their eyelids at this point). But I did spend some time at the bookstore last night (under the guise of Christmas shopping) and came away with these sooper-duper great finds:

a) Bill Bryson has written a new book!

If you've ever read his books, you already know that he is a prize (to quote the Wall Street Journal, "The wonderfully droll Bryson is unparalleled in his ability to cut a culture off at the knees in a way that is so humorous and so affectionate that those being ridiculed are laughing too hard to take offense."). If you haven't, you owe it to yourself to do so now! If you like Dave Barry (7.27 on the Gunning Fox index), you will love Bill Bryson (8.91, slightly more intellectual, if you ignore his occasional use of the "F" bomb which automatically rules out the strictest interpretation of "intellectual" in my book, but with the same biting wit). He covers a range of topics, from his real specialty of travel essays (A Walk in the Woods and The Lost Continent are personal favorites), to linquistics (Made in America and Mother Tongue), to, well, just about everything (A Short History of Nearly Everything is just that). In his latest book, a memoir, he talks about his middle class upbringing as The Thunderbolt Kid in 1950's Des Moines IA, where the only cheese they ate was "vivid bright yellow and shiny enough to see your reflection in" and "the only bread was white and at least 65% air." The only foreign food they ate was French Toast and the only spices they used were salt, pepper and maple syrup. No offense to Iowans, but even today, those whom I have met still live by these basic food principles.

b) And Keb' Mo' has released a new CD!

Keb' Mo' is also on my favorites list. I first came to know Keb' Mo' when my husband and I went to Eureka Springs, AR for a canoe trip a number of years ago. Only we never canoed (is that the proper spelling? Is canoe even a proper verb?). A great thunderstorm arrived and rendered our canoe trip dead on arrival. Instead we found ourselves in the middle of the Eureka Springs Blues Festival. We had no idea such an event existed, let alone when it might be scheduled (this was one of those serendipitous occasions ;-). So there we were with nothing to do but check out the festival. Unlike many festivals, this one was not outdoors. Instead, they sold tickets to shows at various venues about town, such as old hotel ballrooms, hotel basements, auditoriums, city hall, etc. Eureka Springs is a very small artist community and there are some interesting places tucked away in the old buildings. They sold tickets to each event separately, which made things difficult unless you knew all of the performers. The only names we recognized were Maria Muldaur, Reba Russell, and Tab Benoit. This was easily the "whitest" blues festival I'd ever attended, both in terms of acts and attendees, not surprising given that we were in Arkansas. It appeared that Keb' Mo,' whom we did not know at the time, was the festival's headliner, so we asked the ticket seller, "Who's Keb' Mo' and what kind of music does he play?" She responded with, and I am not editing her response here one bit, "He's a black guy." Oh, really? Well, we half expected that. Could you tell us a little more? Maybe like, oh, I don't know, maybe what instrument he plays, what style of blues, that kind of thing? That's what we should have said. Instead, we just bought tickets and took our chances because, well, he's a black guy. Sheesh! This is why I will never live in Arkansas. Turns out he's a darned good contemporary Delta blues singer/acoustic guitarist/songwriter. That evening, he played unaccompanied on stage, sitting on a folding chair, while we sat in the rafters of the municipal auditorium. It was clearly not the best venue for such an intimate performance but we loved what we heard and went on to see him several more times (in much smaller venues with much better sound equipment and better acoustics) and bought all of his CDs. His latest, Suitcase, is not a disappointment.

and, last but not least...

c) A hefty book (it must weigh 15+ pounds) containing what appears to be the complete life work of the Pythons (as in Monty Python). I found this on one of those discount tables where you'll find any number of odd books that nobody really wants but when you consider that it only costs $0.85 per pound, who can resist? And there are photographs of all 6 Pythons throughout the years, so really, a bargain by any standard.


At 10:34 AM, December 10, 2006, Anonymous Jim said...

It totally rocks my world that you are hip to Keb Mo. Sweet!

And Bryson too, although I didn't like Short History myself. It seemed too much like a bully pulpit for his atheism. I'll still read anything he writes though. He reel gud!

"Well my mother says she loves me
But you know she could be jivin' too."
-Keb' Mo'

At 11:59 AM, December 10, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Hey, I didn't know you were a Keb' Mo' fan too. Like butter, he is (real butter, no trans fat)! ;-)

And although I have the hardcover edition of Bryson's Short History, I have to admit that this is his only book of his I couldn't bring myself to finish. I found myself reading the first few chapters in disappointment as he dealt with the creationist/evolution issues in circuitous fashion. I will give him credit though for doing extensive research to write this book. After that, it was refreshing to pick up The Thunderbolt Kid where he's back to his old self again. ;-)

At 3:01 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger Stephen said...

2a: A quick Google search turned up this article and this one. I think one of those will work for you.

At 3:13 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Thanks, Stephen! I had no idea that I was not the only one frustrated by this. I was coming to realize that Apple (and others with a financial interest) probably didn't want us to be able to freely pirate from one pod to another, but where you already own the music and the iPods and are just looking for an easier way to back up and/or copy data, it seemed there should be a way. And now, I see that there IS! Thank you!! :-)

At 3:52 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger Rach said...

I just want to know how to make playlists on my ipod so I'll have to do some googling too!

At 4:01 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Eric's a pro at the playlist business. I'm guessing you just drag and drop while in your library (on the hard drive) and then sync that with the iPod. But don't take my word for it, or you may lose everything already on your pod! 8-} For what it's worth, I never allow the pod to sync "automatically" with iTunes because that would be a disaster (since I delete music files off of my hard drive almost as quickly as I put them on there)!!

At 8:23 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger DarkoV said...

Ahh! A man after my own heart. Hey, Gwynne, I mean it in the best possible way.
While I keep the Slivotiz in the pantry and the wodka in the freezer, I defintely keep the Kozy Shack Old Fashioned Rice Puddings in the refrigerator. There are not too many better things that one can obtain in a suprmarket than that. Why stop at FIVE! ?? I'm assuming your surprise at FIVE was that he had stopped there rather than going to the natural conclusion of 13, a Baker's Dozen.

Pour a touch of rum, Myers Dark if possible, in those Rice Puddings and life has turned truly good.

At 8:32 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger DarkoV said...

Re. Keb Mo: Loved him 1994 and 1995 with his first 2 major releases. Kinf of got less interested after 1998; thought he went way over into the soft side of blues. Haven;t listened to him since around 2000. What a shame. His blues talent was so evident. I can understand how he got tired of living the blues life, i.e., tight-financed. Family responsibilities, etc.

Sort of reminded me of what happened of George Benson, fabulous jazz guitarist gone the route of Kenny G.

At 9:32 PM, December 10, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

...gone the route of Kenny G.

Ouch! Oh, that's low. You can't go dissin' my boy like that. ;-) While I agree he's on the "soft side" of the blues (almost more of a folk artist with a touch of the gospel), he's a far cry from a Kenny G. or Robert Cray pop sell-out. But his first major album does continue to be his best, so on that, we also agree. Still, I like his latest one real good. ;-)

Now for the Kozy Shacks, I'm sure he only bought 5 not realizing that the new refrigerator is 3 cubic feet larger than the old one. Next time, I'm sure it will be more. ;-) And we do keep a bottle of Myers Rum on hand for just that purpose. Also good on the Povitica bread, and nearly every other Croatian dessert, as I'm sure you know. :-)

At 9:09 AM, December 11, 2006, Blogger DarkoV said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:13 AM, December 11, 2006, Blogger DarkoV said...

Apologies from my end re. Mr. Mo'. Cruel to be kind? I still listen to his first release and I get pangs as to where he could have gone rather than where he is now. A contemporary of his, Chris Thomas King is still keeping the faith, so we know it's possible. I feel with Mr. Mo', that he came onto that crossroad and did the deed.

At 10:26 AM, December 11, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Darko, I haven't heard Chris Thomas King but will seek him out on your advice. But now, if you're suggesting Mr. Mo' sold his soul to the devil (it's good to know that we now have a "How To" manual on this, BTW ;-), isn't that supposed to be in exchange for the ability to play better, not worse? I've no inside track to Mr. Mo's soul, but I'm guessing he didn't send in the requisite $100. ;-P

Don't make me tell you what I really thing of the J. Geils Band now. ;-)

At 10:31 AM, December 11, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Darko, your comment posted twice so I deleted the first. Didn't want you or anyone else to think I was truly offended by your comments. I value all opinions, right and wrong. ;-)

At 11:46 AM, December 11, 2006, Blogger DarkoV said...

Mr. Mo' sold his soul not for mo' fleet fingers but for the mortgaeg payments. An understandable exchange...just don't sing to me, "Dem Ol' Mortgage Blues" and expect me to not equate the moanin' with the loanin'.

Re. J. Geils Band...if you were insinuating that they sold out as well...Well, no need to insinuate; you're absolutely right. 'Nuff said about that disappointing set of events.

...and thanks for deleting my duplicate right & wrong comment. Just trying to cover all of the many bases...

At 6:07 PM, December 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you were trying to plug your ipod into your husbands computer and the itunes on there would not recognize the ipod and automatically transfer the music? i'm just curious because i want to make sure i'm understanding the dilemma because i tried this too, i think.

At 8:34 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

I have my iTune settings set to manually sync my iTunes library (on the computer) with my iPod. I do this because I don't keep the music on the computer, so an automatic sync erases everything on the pod (making the pod just like the computer...naked of most music). So while I can play the music on the pod if it's plugged into my computer, I can't copy the music from the pod to the computer and then copy it over to another pod. Make sense? Well, apparently, this is an intentionally designed barrier so that we don't go pirating from one another any more than we already do. but it also appears there are "solutions" available. Yay! :-)

At 9:45 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger mis_nomer said...

Hmm. I would just plug the iPod in and read it like a hard drive, but I must be missing something somewhere, since the solutions given seem so much more complicated..

I've only read one book by Bill Bryson (Short History) and I haven't read anything since. Maybe I will, since both you and Jim seem to think that Short History is not his best work.

Rice pudding? Hmm. I would like to see that picture :)

At 10:02 PM, December 13, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said... it like a hard drive

That's exactly what I expected to do...whuda thunk it would take a rocket scientist to figure out how to do it? Well, probably not a rocket scientist...just someone a little smarter than me, which doesn't take much when it comes to technology. ;-)

You read Short History?! You are a stud! Studdette! Or crazy. ;-) No, seriously, I imagine Bryson falls somewhere well below the bar for you, but maybe you should try In A Sunburned Country (his trip to Australia) since that one is a little closer to home for you. I enjoyed that one a lot. I checked it out from the library and even bought my own copy afterwards, for my private collection. ;-)


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