Monday, January 24, 2011

Puzzled about YouTube Blockers

Recently I heard again, "Beachcombing" a song by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris which had just breezed by me when it was released in 2006 on their album, "All the Roadrunning." This time, no doubt because some of the lyrics presciently connote the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I was more deeply affected. It opens...

They say there’s wreckage washing up
all along the coast
No one seems to know too much
Or who got hit the most
Nothing has been spoken
There’s not a lot to see
But something has been broken
that’s how it feels to me

We had a harmony
I never meant to spoil
Now it's lying in the water
Like a slick of oil
The tide is running out to sea
Under a darkening sky...

I went to YouTube (where else?) and was surprised to find very limited entries. It's become pretty common when one gets a penchant to hear some favourite song, to find videos with the music. Often these are pretty rudimentary, maybe just a still picture or two of the artist sitting there throughout. For "Beachcombing" there was a little more but if anything it would have been better to have stuck with the stills. Thus, for example, one YouTuber nicknamed McDaidUSA, chose to have this haunting anthem as back up to her or his reunion with relatives in Ireland's west country. This includes spots of barely comprehensible voice-over narration of McDaidUSA's big trip.

My sister searched about at my request and found another non-YouTube posting -- a Spanish language one. It was far worse than the travelogue of Eire, mainly consisting of panoramic shots of white-sanded tourist-y tropical resorts, punctuated by the occasional young lady in bikini. Indeed, the finale is of one such woman beaming with delight, captured in the accompanying screen-shot. It seemed to me that the melancholy tone and pensive lyrics were entirely missed by whomever assembled and posted this.

Idled for a morning (i.e. not wanting to work) I decided to rise to the challenge and splice together a slide show which was exquisitely (or so I think) timed so that the images synched with and were appropriate to the lyrics. Once done, I uploaded to YouTube and sent the URL to my sister who discovered minutes later that it had been blocked. Even though I'd credited and indeed promoted the album, a surly and chagrined little red face appeared with an unconvincing apology, ""This video contains content from WMG and UMG, one or more of whom have blocked it on copyright grounds. Sorry about that."

So have I got this straight? -- it's okay to rip off the artists and production company as back up for your so fascinating Irish vacation or to switch to Spanish and show tourist scenes and nubile beach girls? But, for heaven's sake don't give direct credit and try, at least, to jibe with the creator's seeming intent! Well, not to be stymied, here's the ouevre for your enjoyment whilst I figure out a way around the YouTube enforcers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't Miss "Entitled Opinions"

I seldom promo anything on this hitherto commercial-free hub of the North. But as today marks the return of my absolute favourite podcast, an exception is made. "Entitled Opinions" flows out from a basement studio at one of the world's finest universities, Stanford. The head honcho is Robert Harrison, a professor of Italian and romance literature there. The format for the show is that he kibitzes for about an hour with a leading luminary on subjects whose variety will astound. If I read the list correctly, it all began with a couple of shows about Freud almost 6 years ago, and then traversed terra creativa from conversations about Kurt Weill's music and life, through several excursions with Harrison's esteemed Dante to sessions on the Jesuits, tennis, the Blues, Emily Dickinson and Jimi Hendrix...and a whole lot more. What is striking for me is just how passionate and knowledgeable Harrison is on so eclectic an array of topics.

On top of this, as of last year, the opening switched from an old Enigma cut, to a haunting and voluptuous song which I could not track down for quite a while. Then, I learned that it was the Entitled Opinions team comprising several academics including Harrison and his brother, Tom. Harrison is a damn fine guitarist, adding to his intellectual and broadcasting abilities, the kind of Renaissance man that you are glad exists somewhere but are also happy that your high school rival didn't grow up to be! . The music group which he's formed, Glass Wave, has cut a fascinating literary excursion which, in contrast to other high-concept academically inspired offerings, is also just a real good listen. Eclectic as ever, Harrison's group with vocals by Entitled Opinions producer and Stanford doctoral candidate, Christy Wampole, travels broadly through canonical literature - Narcissus, Hamlet, Frankenstein, Moby Dick, Virginia Woolf, Poe's "Annabel Lee," etc. - not only making good music but also providing original and critical insights into the story-lines and characters of these classics. The cut, "Ophelia", for example, broadened my longstanding perspective on Hamlet, disabusing me of the belief that I had heard everything and much more that I ever needed about the play.

Well, the wait is over and another season of Entitled Opinions is now underway, alas with Christy departing so as to finish her dissertation. The opener is on Moby Dick. Listen, friends! Subscribe!