Showing posts with label vinyl records. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vinyl records. Show all posts

02 January 2017

2016, Looking Back



by Jan Grape

Let me see if I can recall or at least look back at a some of my blog articles of 2016.



Winter, a year ago

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, suit
Last January, I had the fun of driving to Fort Worth to attend the wedding of my only granddaughter, Jackie Lee. Also experienced the agony of my left knee locking up and staying locked the day before the wedding.

I did get to the wedding but I had to ride in a wheelchair that I had to buy and had to be pushed down the aisle and all around during the reception. Not fun, but the wedding was fantastic and Jackie and A.J Vaughn are settled in their house and jobs.

Jackie is teaching English and coaching Freshman Girls Basketball while A.J. manages a restaurant where they both worked while attending college and where they met.

Spring

In May, I did a Proud Mother act and asked my son, Phil Lee if I could reprint his article about his new discovery of Vinyl records. How he bought a turntable which did not have an automatic arm or the convenience of stacking several vinyl records on the player. It was however, quite revealing when he learned how much better listening to vinyl records as compared to digital recordings once he hooked up to a great sound system. All the nuances on the vinyl that you actually missed on digital. Of course, the ease and convenience of digital music is nice but if you want to really hear and enjoy bands that you enjoyed in the earlier days then listening to vinyl is just another way to have a great experience.

Autumn

In late September, I had the wonderful grandmother experience of watching my granddaughter, Jackie coach her Freshmen Girl's team in a basketball tournament. It was one of those, and I don't know what they're called, maybe progressive or round robin. Where as long as you keep winning you keep playing until you ave played three games. There is only about a two hour rest period in between games and you don't leave the gym. You hydrate, snack, go to restroom and then are ready to play again. Jackie's team the Lady Rebels won the first, second and the third games and in doing that, won the tournament. Their first but don't think it will be their last.

I did write about attending Bouchercon in New Orleans. I had not been able to attend a mystery con for 10 full years so was so excited to get to go and see old friends and make new ones. Bouchercon is the huge con for writers, editors, agents, booksellers and fans. The fact that it was set in New Orleans was exciting. I had not been there in maybe 30 plus years and it it still an awesome city. The food is fantastic and the people gracious. These cons are planned and executed by volunteers and they always do such a wonderful job. My hat is off to all the vols this year and especially to the person who does the programming. It's not easy to deal with so many author egos, all wanting to be on a panel and hoping to gain a little free publicity and recognition. So Kudos to Judy Bobalik and Jon Jordan. If you get a chance to attend a mystery con like Bouchercon, then by all means go. Volunteer to help if you live nearby.

Winter again

Now my final event of this year I went to Nashville for Christmas to spend four wonderful days with my daughter Karla Lee and my oldest grandson Riley Fox who now lives in Portland OR and I had not seen him in three and a half years. Also go to meet his lady love, Coor Cohen which I had not met before and we had a great visit. Spent a little time with Cason Fox, my Alien, my grandson, whom I wrote about a few years ago when he lived with me for several months. Met two of my daughters great friends and their mothers, which was fun. And time with my daughter is always special and it always goes by much too quickly. However, I try to adhere to the old saying that relatives visits are much like fish, after three days you must throw them out.

2017

I don't know what 2017 will bring us. I'm a bit discombobulated from the election and  angry and sad. I'm hopeful that things will not be as bad as I worry they will be. It seems like kindness and consideration of other people has gone out the door. But I hope and will try to rely on good friends like the writers here and writers all around the country that we can keep working to give love, honor and kindness a chance.

I hope 2017 will bring each of you, good health, happiness and many, many book and magazine sales.

Happy New Year everyone.

02 May 2016

Proud Mother


by Jan Grape and son, Phil Lee

Today I have to succumb to being a rather prejudiced mother. My oldest son, Phil Lee, wrote a rather interesting ad entertaining blog this week and I decided to reprint it here. Think y'all will enjoy it.

In the photo at right, Phil Lee is the dark haired young man on the right. Middle is my daughter, Karla and left is my son, Roger Grape.

Lee Editorial Noise


After over 30 years, I have fallen in love once again with vinyl records. Yes, I know, I am about 5 or 10 years late to this fashionable party, but I am finally back where I started after all these years. I think that LPs started to build up steam about 2007 and have been rising every year, fueled by interest from old geezers to young hipsters.  I know a few of you out there never really left, and still have record collections and nice systems that you have faithfully maintained. But in my lifetime going from LPs and 8-tracks to cassettes, CDs and then totally digital, I never dreamed I would ever own or buy or play or enjoy these artifacts of yesteryear, but here I am once again. Let me back up a bit…

About 2 years ago, I purchased an amp to add to our speakers in the den. My plan was to enhance audio for the TV, and then also have a way to plug in a dedicated ipod for digital music. That worked out great- but I noticed the music quality was not really that impressive with the volume cranked up to a decent level. For years, I have enjoyed the convenience of  itunes on my office computers and in the car, but never really played digital music on a higher end system. The compression of digital files has left us all with an inferior, muddy sound- and certainly not anything most artists and musicians intended us to hear when listening to their creations.

However even with all the shortcomings of digital music, the ability to discover a new band online, and then within seconds purchase a track or an album, (or for some people, steal it) and then instantly hear it- still feels amazing to me. Also the convenience and portability to have access to all your music on a tiny device is something I never dreamed would be possible in my lifetime. Patton Oswalt has a funny bit about how if he could go back in time and confront his younger self and explain how in the future every song in existence will fit on something smaller than a cassette tape. (and his teenage mind would be instantly blown) He then compares how jaded our youth have become with this technology-  it's just something they have grown up with, and holds no magical amazement that greeted us older folks when it was released.

Although with all that being said, it's really an odd acceptance we've all grown accustomed to over the years: this trade-off of convenience and accessibility over audio quality. A lot of that stems from compression, the device and the environment that the end user experiences, limited by computers, phones, tablets, etc. I recently saw a Dan Rather interview with Jack White. When discussing technology, White draws a comparison between streaming movies online and digital music. He admits that it's great to have the convenience of enjoying movies on the little screens of tablets or computers or phones. But then he adds: when you drive past a movie theater, everyone agrees THAT is the real place you go to experience a movie in its intended format and environment. And the equivalent finished product for the music industry is vinyl and a decent sound system.

 A couple of years ago as I continued my quest for better sound, I stumbled on to Neil Young's Kickstarter campaign for his new PONO music player. It looked intriguing at the time- a way to play high resolution music files in the car or on the home system. I asked my son about the concept and he just laughed at me and said: "just get a turntable." I was hearing more and more about the revitalization of the LP market in recent years, so about a month ago I walked in to my local Best Buy. They had  exactly one turntable- very bland, very basic, and its big "feature" was a USB port so that you can transfer all your old records to digital. Ouch- not really what I had in mind!


I did some online researching and found the answer: The Orbit, a really sweet turntable made by a small company called U-Turn, located in a suburb of Boston. Three guys in their 20s set out to design and manufacture a turntable that looked cool and sounded great for only $150, and to somehow make it here in America. They had a successful Kickstarter campaign, and as of Fall of 2015, have shipped over 10,000 units. They did not quite make their original price point- but came close as their base unit sells for $179. They also offer an interactive online customization tool that allows you to select color, platter type, cartridge and a few other options.
  
http://uturnaudio.com/

The ability to support an American company- especially one that manufactures an electronic product, is very rare in this day and age! The majority of the turntable elements are made here at home in various locations across the country- although some of the inside parts are from overseas. Everything is assembled by hand at the U-Turn facility. Customer service is excellent- and if you have any issues, changes or future upgrades, you are dealing with someone in the Boston area, and not from an out sourced overseas imposter.


Reviews looked solid and the photos were great, so I quickly made the plunge. I've had the unit about 2 weeks and continue to be amazed at both the sound and the look. I can turn up the volume and hear a sharpness of detail that's been missing for decades. I've already had 3 or 4 "goose bump" moments hearing specific sections or little nuances that have been hidden within songs from my favorite old bands from the 80s. One of the greatest joys has also been re-listening to newer bands I discovered only in the last 10 years or so.  Up until now, my only point of reference for those bands has been limited to compressed digital songs. But now on LP, the clarity and detail really shines. It's a night and day difference of listening experience.

I know its just stupid nostalgia, but putting  a record on the platter, and hearing that "bump" as you carefully drop the needle down just feels strangely familiar and comfortable.

Holding an album in my hands, looking at the artwork or reading the notes or lyrics is a long forgotten pleasure.

Even playing some of my old stuff that have a bit more crackle and pop during the quiet moments only add to the experience.

I have the turntable in my office, so although a lot of its use so far is typical background music while I edit, I have noticed an entirely different feature that was really unexpected. Playing a record requires more effort- there is something so primitive about the technology, and about the entire process. You can't really pause it, and you have to be there to pick up the arm at the end of a side. (this unit has no auto return)  It almost feels more like an event in and of itself. Sitting and doing nothing except listening to the music and watching that disc spin is all you need. Playing entire album sides have also an added benefit. I am already enjoying several buried "deep" tracks that I long neglected during this age of just downloading  favorite digital songs, and ignoring those other lesser tunes that did not immediately grab my attention.


So if music matters to you- consider going old school and embrace the vinyl once again. My only regret is not taking better care of my collection. I found one box, but another is still MIA, most likely in my attic. Of the records I did find, most are warped- but all in one direction, so at least I still get to enjoy one stable side.

DISCOGS.COM is also a great resource for buying and selling LPs from around the world.


Share your vinyl memories below in the comments section, and thanks for listening!

www.leeeditorial.com

NOTE: from Jan
Phil's turntable is sitting on furniture my Dad made in late 50s early 60s.