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Friday, August 27, 2010


Home again from Sin City, and I'm not going to miss the 107-degree weather, nor all of the gassy people flying on Southwest, for that matter.  The real news however, is that unbelievably, I actually saw Barry Manilow in concert. Regular readers will know that my tastes run primarily in the symphonic works and progressive rock realms, so my attendance at the Manilow show may be something of a surprise.  It was for me as well- Susan's Dad bought her the tickets as a gift.  Now, I have nothing against Barry Manilow.  From years of sitting in my Mom's car as a lttle kid while she ran errands, I know all of his classics from AM radio.  (I also know Bread, The Association and Simon and Garfunkel as well, which generally for me is not a good thing as the damn songs pop into my head when I have insomnia.  That and "Skyrockets in Flight, Afternoon Delight." Luckily my Mom discovered broadway show soundtracks after I was old enough to stay home on my own.  Still, that one Simon and Garfunkel tune makes me glad we have an electric oven so I don't follow the song's example one sleepless night- and maybe Richard Cory was listening to Melanie when he shot himself).  Anyway, like I said, Barry Manilow is a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, and I wish him no ill.  In fact, there were a few very nice highlights to his show, even for the non-fan.  He plays a lot of nostalgia into the performance, and cracks a lot of jokes at his own expense ("as long as there are elevators and teeth, my songs will be famous," he quipped at one point), which was very endearing.  He played a piano duet with a video of himself from American Bandstand that was very good, and his cover of Cole's "Nature Boy" was excellent.  All throughout, the 50 somethings in the crowd went nuts- but this brings me to my biggest complaint about the show, one you won't believe.  It was way, way too LOUD.  I couldn't believe it.  The Yes show I saw at Townhall this past winter was no where near as loud (although in Barry's defense there was WAY more pot smoke at the Yes show, in fact I was so fuzzy from second-hand smoke, Susan started to resemble Cheech Marin to me by the time they finished playing "Starship Troopers.")  Seriously though, the monitors were way too hot in the midrange, which made all of the backups and the alto and trumpet very shrill, which was compounded by the volume.  I was quite surprised.  At one point I would have liked to have pointed out to all of the adoring ladies (?) in the crowd that they were being somewhat hypocritical had they ever lectured their own children about "turning down that racket."  But then, maybe the volume was up at the show so they could hear it at all. . .  bottom line, whether I appreciate him or not, Barry is an American Icon, and for the faithful, he did not disappoint.  It was a Vegas show through and through.  Tonight I'm going to try to post again- but this time about the 2 month old kitten who has co-opted our listening room. . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Haven't written much about this machine, and I need to take some better pictures of it now that the walls behind it aren't orange (what were they thinking?).  This player is very similar to the CDP 555ESD, especially from the front, and it came to me purely by luck- for $25.  Little did I know at the time.  It also uses the famous Phillips TDA1541A chip for its Digital to Analog Converter.  Some folks feel that particular classic has never been bested.  At the moment however, I'm not even using that DAC- I have the coaxial output of the CD player feeding the DAC in the TA-F630ESD, through which I am listening to a pair of Grado headphones.  Mostly violin stuff, well, mostly Sibelius violin stuff.  I'll check out what chip the amp is using- maybe I'm making a big mistake!  At any rate, a direct comparison with the SACD XA-5400ES would be neat, but lately I'm lucky if I get to listen to a track or two before I have to be doing something else.  The cats love the new carpet though.  As you've noticed, it's really their room.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Ever wonder why cats stare intently seemingly at nothing?  Old Wives' tale has it that if you look between their ears you can see what they are seeing. . .   oddly enough I do believe that I see a vintage WWII Wehrmacht PzKpfw V Ausf G (that's a Panther Tank for the uninitiated) passing by in the lower right.  But that doesn't seem to be what Holly is looking at. . .

It's a boy!

Having some second thoughts about Eddie Bauer's "Mist."  I had a more Stephen King color in mind, not the color that makes you run out and buy cigars and memberships to baseball camp.

Embarrassment of riches

One day you have no tape decks, the next you have two.  Pictured are a 3-head Sony TC-KA1ES, and a dual cassette, 2-head Sony TC-WA8ESA.  The WA8 is brand new, right out of the box- thank you, Mr. Sweda at Chips Unlimited of Patchogue, NY. The 3-head deck was a low-use eBay purchase.  I discovered an auction for an identical deck  of which a portion of the purchase price went to the Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary: http://www.blindcatrescue.com/ (please visit and give if you can).  I missed that one, but bought this one and gave to the rescue anyway.  These machines while nice, and including many features, are built in no way close to the standards of the ES machines of yore.  They are light-weight mass-market fare.  A TC-K730 or 890ES would be better, but they still command high sums, need maintenance that is costly and after I finish this project would sit idly collecting dust.  For the limited use these will get, I expect them to do the job.  A more involved review of their performance to come when I start dubbing David's band: "Stepson" on to CD.