Good, it’s not just me…

Found this article written by Amy X. Wang and appearing on

Apple’s iTunes is 13 years old today and its still awful

As a young man, I never would could have conceived of the idea of having my entire musical catalogue at my fingertips.  Further, it was unimaginable in those days that pretty much any and all albums/songs would be available to you from the comfort of your home and in a matter of seconds via legal (and for those who do it -not me!- illegal) downloading.

To the youngsters out there: Yes, there was a time back in the “good old days” when you wanted a certain album or song you had to drive to your nearest record store and scour the bins for the record(s) you were interested in.  And if the store didn’t have them, you had to special order it and wait a week or so to get your hands on it.

I’ve mentioned before how when I first got into David Bowie I was delighted to find (this was circa 1985 or so) a cassette copy of The Man Who Sold The World.  At that time, this was simply not a very easy album to find.  Nirvana didn’t even exist and therefore hadn’t done their “unplugged” cover of the song which brought it a large wave of attention.  “Bigger” David Bowie albums such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Young Americans, Heroes, and Scary Monsters were readily accessible but it was hit and miss finding some of the earlier stuff.

Anyway, this all changed with the arrival of the MP3 file and, to a big extent, iTunes and, more specifically, the iTunes store.  It allowed users to buy their album via the internet and, suddenly, you no longer had to trudge your way to a store with the hopes of finding something that wasn’t there.  Since the arrival of the iTunes store you also have which also features pretty much every bit of music available for purchase.

Thing is, and as the above article states, iTunes is an awful program.  Considering how much money it’s made for Apple, it is truly bizarre the company, which lives on a reputation for creating truly great products, nonetheless hasn’t been able to make it any better after all these years.

While I do use the program now and again to listen to music, I much prefer using other programs such as the Amazon music app or whatever the current Windows music player is.

But as the article notes, this may all be becoming irrelevant and the days of iTunes still existing may be coming to an end as streaming music appears to be the preferred means of listening to music to the younger generations versus actual music ownership.

For an older fart like me, it feels odd to not want to actually “own” things but the new generation is doing just that.  Instead of buying albums, they stream their music.  Instead of buying movies, they check out what’s available on netflix or “rent” a film via a movie service.  I suppose someone out there is trying to do the same for books as well.

On a tangential note, I read how some Hotels are catering to younger generations by offering “bare bones” hotel rooms with larger lobby/social gathering areas.  As so much of what they use is available on their smartphones, some in the younger generations no longer need Hotel rooms to have a large amount of things within them for their use.  They’re content with the minimum, which the older crowd may not be.

It’s a changing world out there, but you knew that already, right?

Brave New (Creepy) World

For the most part, I love technology and the advances being made.


Creeps are using a neural network to dox porn actresses

The upshot of this article, written by Darren Orf and found on, is that by scouring the internet for photographs and using face recognition software, some very creepy individuals are able to link porn actresses, many of whom may employ stage names and may try to keep their professional and personal lives separate, to their personal lives.

These links, by the way, may be inaccurate as facial recognition software is far from perfect though like most technological things, I can only see it getting better over time.  Regardless, this hasn’t stopped some of these creepy individuals from linking photographs of porn actresses with photographs of, say, graduation pictures or family life pictures and, essentially, “outing” women who may (emphasis on that word) also be involved in the porn industry.

Now I suppose there are those who will say: So what?  Some porn actors/actresses don’t mind being in the public eye and, indeed, promote themselves and their work.  So what if they’re exposed?

While some porn actors/actresses may indeed not mind the spotlight, there are others who may have done this as a one time lark or a short term money making job.  They never intended to make this a profession yet it will potentially haunt them for the rest of their lives, especially with people using facial recognition to “out” them.

Yet again you say, “so what?”  They got into the field, they should know the risks, right?

To which I would say: Look beyond pornography and you’ll find using facial recognition in this way is an extremely troubling invasion of privacy.

There probably are many, many situations where someone takes a provocative -and not at all necessarily pornographic- photograph.  There are occasions where someone is “caught” doing something mildly or moderately risque.  It could be a one time thing but because it was caught on camera it therefore lives forever.

As the facial recognition software improves, I can see how any “youthful indiscretions” could result in a person being searched out and, whether they like it or not, exposed for whatever actions are caught on film.

Imagine you are a reasonably well-behaved wo/man who takes your studies and/or career seriously.  Over the years you attend school, then college.  You earn your degree, get a stable job, and work hard to become successful in your field.  During that time you marry and build your loving family.

Ten years before, while you were still single and a very young college student, you attended a party and, uncharacteristically or not for the time, got drunk.  Let’s say you got so drunk you fell asleep on a couch or danced around or did something you otherwise wouldn’t had you been sober.  Your friends had a little fun with you and took pictures of your drunken escapade.  Nothing pornographic or even sexual, mind you, just young kids doing stupid stuff.  And then someone takes a photograph of this silliness and posts it online.

The photograph and the party may be a distant memory when, ten years later, someone uses facial recognition software and connects this single photograph of a young, drunken person in a silly position with you.  You’re outed and, worse still, your bosses get a hold of this information and suddenly your job and your entire career could be in jeopardy.

The party and your drunkenness (or whatever) may have been nothing more than a one time thing.  Hell, it could have happened several times over the course of those early years but you’ve cleaned up and the person you were back then is certainly no longer the person you are.

And yet because of this one photograph and facial recognition software, your present may well be affected by your distant past.

A most sobering thought.

Corrosive Knights, a 4/26/2016 update

It’s been…something…these last few days/weeks.  Time I was hoping to use on writing was hijacked by life events and yet I’m feeling giddy.


Because I finished the 8th draft “read-through” of my latest Corrosive Knights books (#6 in the series) and while it was a struggle to find the time to work through it (as well as to re-re-re-read it), towards the end of the book I realized/came up with something significant which clears up one of the bigger problems I had with one of the characters in the book.  This realization not only makes perfect sense, it also makes the book significantly better than before.

And the really funny thing about this is that in retrospect this change is so damned obvious I can’t believe I didn’t think of it from the very beginning!  The change fits so naturally into the story I doubt anyone will realize it was quite literally a near last minute change/add-on!

That’s the funny thing about writing.  While I don’t subscribe to the notion of “characters writing themselves”, there are times I’m surprised when something like what I described above happens.  Perhaps this change/add-on lay in my subconscious all this time and took eight revisions for me to finally “see” it.  Or perhaps it was one of those lucky breaks you get, where the stars align and all works out for the best.

I know, I know, I’m being very vague about this change/add-on but this is deliberate as it involves one of the bigger reveals toward the very end of this novel.

Anyway, as of this morning, here we are:

On task

Over my right shoulder and in that blue folder is the latest read-through of Corrosive Knights book #6.  I’m seconds away from starting the rewriting process and, once finished with this latest draft, will of course print the new draft (#9!) out and give it another revision.

We’re getting closer to the end but it is difficult for me to estimate when I’ll feel this book is “done”.  I’ll have a much better idea when this draft is finished, printed out, and re-read but as of this moment I suspect I’m at least two drafts away from finishing up (I know, I’ve said this before but, as I said above, it is difficult to estimate these things).

Regardless, I remain excited.  The book is progressing and with each draft I’m getting closer and closer to the end.

Let’s hope it comes very soon because I’m dying to get to the next novel.

Dreary days…

When news of Prince’s death was released yesterday, it was shocking.

Though I may not be the biggest Prince fan there is out there (hang on to your pitchforks for just a second), the fact that he passed away so suddenly and at the impossibly young age of 57 was a painful kick.

As I’ve stated many times before, I’m a HUGE fan of the music of David Bowie yet when his passing was announced, it was very sad but not terribly shocking.  There were rumors going around for a number of years as to Mr. Bowie’s health and his deterioration was obviously incremental enough that he had the ability to create and release one last, fabulous album as a way of saying goodbye.

The same cannot be said for Prince.

Again, I may not be the biggest Prince fan but  I’d have to be both blind and deaf not to acknowledge and appreciate his tremendous impact on the music scene as well as his skills as a musician.  Like many, my first exposure to him was with the album and movie Purple Rain.  I suppose that remains Prince’s single “biggest” success and the album featured such classics as Let’s Go Crazy, When Doves Cry, and of course Purple Rain.  He had other hit songs, including 1999, Kiss, and a personal favorite, Raspberry Beret.

Prince created a large amount of material and rumor has it there much stored away and awaiting an eventual release.  Perhaps with his passing some of this will finally see the light of day.

Prince was also the writer of this song…

Which was remade by Sinead O’Connor and became a huge hit…

In sum, Prince created great music and his death at such a young age is as shocking as it is senseless (I won’t go into the latest rumors regarding the cause…it will be determined soon enough).

RIP Prince.


POSTSCRIPT:  In case you haven’t noticed, 2016 has been a brutal year regarding deaths in the music industry.  Michael Garafolo over at offers a listing of music icons lost so far this year…

2016 has been a tragic year for music: A look back at the icons we’ve lost, from Prince to Bowie

Entertainment news…

A pair of entertainment related articles caught my eye between yesterday today.

First up is the news that, among a few others from different series, actress Stana Katic is leaving the show Castle:

Stana Katic and four other TV exits that stunned fans worldwide

For those who don’t know about the show Castle or Ms. Katic, it is a reasonably breezy murder/mystery type affair which started with a womanizing bachelor best-selling author, as they are wont to do, getting himself embedded in the NY Police Department for reasons (and they let him for stay on for… reasons).

At first the author, Richard Castle (played by cult/fan favorite Nathan Fillion) is viewed as an impediment to investigations but over time he becomes more and more a part of the “team.”  He is overseen/partnered with no-nonsense Detective Kate Beckett (Ms. Katic, natch) and over the course of the show we go through romantic tension between the characters followed by actual romance and, according to the article, the two characters are now married.

Anyway, here’s the show’s two leads.  Ms. Katic is (obviously) on the right:

According to the above article, after nine seasons, ABC last week announced the next season of Castle would not feature Ms. Katic.  The reasons for her departure were not made clear which, to my mind, may well indicate the parting was less than amicable.

I mention while admitting I’m not a fan of the show.  My full exposure to it was during a summer a few years ago where I caught several episodes worth of reruns on TNT or TBS and found the show fun and the two leads had plenty of charisma but it was not something I felt worth following beyond that.

Having said this and admitting my limited exposure, I nonetheless cannot see how Castle continues without Ms. Katic’s Detective Beckett.  Unlike other shows which feature larger ensemble casts, this show had other characters running around but the focus was clearly on these two and their interactions.  Further, part of the bigger storyline in the admittedly few episodes I saw was the fact that Richard Castle’s big literary creation was based on Detective Beckett.  Not only did he romance her but her character was the inspiration for the books he wrote.

Now, having her character suddenly gone has to radically change the show.  One wonders, did the show’s producers know she was leaving when they finished the previous season?  If they did, had they filmed something hinting at her departure?  Or will the new season simply start off with her character’s departure being a fait accompli?

Despite not following this show, I am intrigued to see if they can somehow overcome this very big change.  I hope they don’t just substitute another no-nonsense female detective in Ms. Katic’s place and try to start all over again.

The second bit of entertainment news involves former baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, an outspoken very conservative individual who finally said more than his employers, ESPN, could handle.  Thus his comments regarding transgender individuals cost him his analyst job:

ESPN fires analyst Curt Schilling over anti-transgender post

Mr. Schilling has made his sometimes controversial right wing opinions known for a while now.

What I find so fascinating is that he’s another of those people who make sometimes outrageous comments and then proudly proclaim their right to make their opinions known yet are baffled with the concept that when you make such statements, others have the very same right to make their opinions known regarding your opinions.

Freedom of speech allows for all people to say whatever is on their mind but while you’re certainly free to state your opinions, you have to understand that doing so does not somehow make you “immune” to having others react to those statements you make.

Especially when they’re inflammatory and controversial.

Worse for Mr. Schilling is the fact that the “others” who may react to your controversial statements can well be your bosses.  If they feel your opinions hurt the company’s image and having you remain employed by them is detrimental to their bottom line, then guess what: They have a right to fire you.

I’d say live and learn but considering the history of Mr. Schilling making statements like these I don’t suppose he has or will.

24 Worst Fantasy Movie Sequels…

…at least according to, which used their average of ratings to determine which sequels fell far short of the originals:

24 Worst Fantasy Movie Sequels

Though I haven’t seen all the movies presented, there’s one sequel among them that I feel deserves special attention: Ghostbusters 2.

Released in 1989 (the beloved original film was released in 1984), this sequel featured all the leads from the first movie, including Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigorney Weaver, and Rick Moranis…

…and, IMHO, it sucked.

I know there are those out there who are moaning about the Ghostbusters remake featuring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, but I never felt that kind of hatred because in the back of my mind I remember sitting in the theaters back in 1989 eagerly waiting for Ghostbusters II to start and, by the time the movie reached its silly climax, being so damned deflated.

According to, the original Ghostbusters (1984) scores an incredibly high 97% positive among critics, 88% positive among audiences while Ghostbusters II scores a far weaker 50% positive among critics and a slightly higher 61% positive among audiences.

Though there were clearly those who disagree with my opinion, Ghostbusters II just wasn’t for me.

Nonetheless, I entered the theater back in 1989 optimistic the film would be good and, as I sit here in 2016 I hope the new iteration of Ghostbusters winds up being a fun comedy.  It certainly can’t be any worse than Ghostbusters II.

Or can it?!

What happened to the dinosaurs…?

Interesting article presented on and written by Michael McLaughlin focusing on the above topic and some new theories regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs:

Dinosaurs had big trouble long before asteroid struck: Study

The gist of the article (SPOILERS!) is that while an asteroid impact may well have vanquished dinosaurs, there appears to be evidence suggesting the species was in a decline, from an evolutionary standpoint, by the time the asteroid actually hit.

What does this mean?

Well, it may mean the dinosaur would not have survived as a species even if the asteroid did not hit.  Which in turn may suggest the asteroid, while a “killing” event, may have wiped out a species already weak and heading to extinction anyway.

Then again, it is possible dinosaurs were at a weak point but might have rebounded and the asteroid ended that possibility permanently.

Or it could be dinosaurs were in the process of evolving into something far more adaptable to their environment.

At this point the study is fascinating and adds another piece to an already interesting puzzle.  While it does still appear the theory that an asteroid ended the dinosaur appears unaltered, the idea the dinosaur species was bound for extinction (possibly) anyway is an interesting new wrinkle.

Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” legal issues…redux

A couple of days ago (you can read it here) I noted the similarities between what is arguably Led Zeppelin’s most famous song, Stairway to Heaven, and Spirit’s Taurus and how a judge has ruled that a copyright infringement lawsuit can go forward against Led Zeppelin regarding this most famous song.

Now comes Paul Campos for to defend Led Zeppelin:

Led Zeppelin are not thieves: Stairway to Heaven fight rests on a nearly impossible copyright standard

In my post, frankly, I sided with the late Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California, the man who wrote Taurus and whose estate is now suing Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement.  I presented the below video which shows the similarities between the two songs:

I still believe Led Zeppelin took the riffs from Taurus in the creation of Stairway to Heaven but I have to give Mr. Campos credit for opening the argument up a little.

While he notes Led Zeppelin had taken material from others, it is clear, even to me, that Stairway to Heaven is far more than those very similarly sounding Taurus opening cords.

That being the case, it is to Mr. Campos’ credit that he has swayed my opinion, if only a little.  While I still feel it obvious Led Zeppelin “appropriated” those opening chords for Stairway to Heaven, it is equally obvious they created something far more intricate than those opening few seconds of music with their song.

Further, if Randy Wolfe, the artist who actually created Taurus, didn’t bother to sue Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement during his lifetime (again, this lawsuit was brought about by the Wolfe estate), then perhaps this is the strongest testament to the fact that he as an artist didn’t feel Led Zeppelin “robbed” him.

As with so many other things, we’ll see what happens…

This IS getting personal…

Yesterday I re-reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (you can read my review here) and noted there seemed to be a hard edged anger against it out there.  While films often elicit differing reactions, it seems like those who don’t like BvS really, really hate the film and some have gone way out of their way to slam it and those who do like the movie.

Well, the opposite seems to be happening with Captain America: Civil War (CA from now on).

The film, which is due to be released on May 6th, has experienced almost the exact opposite of BvS in terms of expectations.  While many were absolutely certain well before its release that BvS would be “terrible”, a very large number of people expect CA to be nothing less than fantastic.

Early word from advanced screenings seemed to confirm these positive thoughts.  Further, the earliest reviews were quite good.

But not every one of them. currently lists 18 reviews for CA and of these, 17 are positive and only 1 is negative.  In my comments yesterday regarding BvS I said things were getting “personal” to those who hated the film.  It now appears things are getting personal the other way regarding CA and fury descends on any who dare to speak negatively about that film.

The below link is to the single negative CA review presented thus far.  It was written by Michael Fairbanks and appears on

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

Frankly, I found this a well reasoned and intelligently written review even though it might wind up, to me, being all wrong (I very much look forward to seeing CA and hope it is at least in the same ballpark as the fantastic Captain America: Winter Soldier).

What is most striking about the review was that the author was clearly going into the film with high expectations and found, in the end, it didn’t quite reach the level he hoped for.  Mr. Fairbanks laments this while presenting very specific reasons why he found the fim disappointing.  In the end, he gives the film a mediocre “C”.  While hardly a devastating grade and only one review from one person, one would think based on the comment section following the review that Mr. Fairbanks just insulted everyone’s mother while simultaneously kicking their brand new puppy.

The negative responses to this review border on the hysterical and were apparently so overwhelming and (I can only imagine) vicious the editors of the site closed the comments section and posted the following:

Due to the overwhelming response to this review, comments are temporarily closed. We take comment moderation seriously and will be going through each comment to ensure it does not violate our Comment Policy.


I repeat what I said yesterday: Things are getting mighty personal out there regarding superhero films and opinions of the same.  For what its worth, the above review remains as of this day the only negative one CA is drawing and, for all we know, it might be the only one it draws.

It is also quite possible and even more likely there will be other critics and, indeed, common audiences that don’t find CA quite as good as others may.

Opinions vary.  They always do.

Is that such a crime?