The Universe is Laughing

March 18th, 2011

Jessica and I have been singing together pretty much since the first day we met, but it took us a long time to figure out how to do it properly. Something about our blend never sounded quite right. One day, we were in the car singing through Rites of Passage by Indigo Girls, and when we got to “Jonas and Ezekial” I think I was drinking some water or something and she got to the lead part — the Amy Ray part, the part I should be singing! — before I did. So I sang Emily Saliers’ part instead, which goes into the stratosphere near the end. I blew out my voice, but it actually sounded okay.

And that’s when we figured out the secret to us singing together: she needs to take the low part. It makes sense. Telemarketers call her “sir” and me “ma’am” when they get us on the phone. She’s got a deep voice, I sound kind of like the pimply-faced kid on The Simpsons. She fixes stuff in the house when it breaks, I suggest calling someone and paying them too much money to do it. She wears the pants, I look good in a dress. (Not that I do that sort of thing (regularly), but c’mon. These legs? Please.)

The other night we took a stab at singing one of our favorite songs, “The Universe is Laughing,” by one of our favorite bands, The Guggenheim Grotto. Not too shabby. I like singing the high part more anyway.

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Irene Cara Never Happened

March 4th, 2011

Acoustic ’80s is back in rehearsals and learning new material for a bunch of gigs over the next few months. That means we’re digging through our ’80s collections, picking out songs we’d like to try, and adapting them to our style. And sometimes that means changing the keys on the songs — especially the ones originally sung by girls. To find the right key for me, I use a pitch-adjusting program on my computer.

A couple of years ago, we were contemplating doing “Fame,” which you may remember from a movie, also coincidentally titled Fame. Or the TV show, which, holy crap, was also titled Fame. The theme song was sung by Irene Cara.

Well, I sure as shit can’t sing it in this key. So I lowered the song by five semitones. And this is what I heard.

Manly Fame

Two thoughts instantly came to me:

1) Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I shall name this version “Manly Fame.”

2) You know who this sounds like?

It’s Billy Ocean, seen here at 1/78th of his normal size and holding on to a Pick-up Stick for dear life. Maybe I’m crazy, but to me, the resemblance is uncanny. The key, the tone, presumably the beard — totally Billy Ocean. So at first, I was like, wow, if you lower Irene Cara five semitones, you get Billy Ocean.

But wait a second. What if Irene Cara is — and always has been — Billy Ocean raised five semitones? What if Irene Cara never happened?

Look, I know it’s a crazy theory. But Billy Ocean, though on the scene in the late ’70s/early ’80s, didn’t really hit it big until 1984. What if he was just used by the industry to create Irene Cara? His real name, Leslie Sebastian Charles, is even a female name!

Just think about it. Don’t come to a decision now. But have you ever seen them in the same room together?

We did eventually perform “Fame,” by the way. We just decided to perform it with our friend Jen singing lead.

Oh hi.

February 24th, 2011

It’s been just over three years since I’ve updated this website.

When I first started, I intended this site to be a catch-all for a million different things: personal posts, commentary on amusing and interesting links, and a space for me to write about music and pop culture. The site opened with a bang, thanks to some high-profile linkage from Jefito, Stereogum and AOL, and suddenly I had an audience, interested in reading what I had to write about Michael McDonald. I started two really fun series (I would much prefer to write “serieses” here but it’s not a real word), created a bunch of deadlines for myself to post new content for them, and found I never had time to post the other stuff I wanted to post.

Then the serieses (screw it, it’s my site, I’m writing it) moved over to Popdose, which is where they rightfully belonged, and then…I ran out of steam. My self-imposed deadlines kicked my ass and writing my posts became more obligations than outlets for enjoyment. I try very hard to stick to one rule above all others: if the thing you do for fun is consistently no longer fun, stop doing it. I already do things every day I don’t necessarily enjoy doing. There’s not enough time in the day to do other things I don’t love.

I still write for Popdose from time to time, and I’ll continue to do so — that’s where any new substantial music posts (or serieses) will show up. But I’m going to reclaim JasonHare.com as what it was meant to be all along: my personal musings on anything, be it music, theatre, pop culture, family, photos, links, whatever. I’m going to do it on my own schedule, which means it might be three times a day or once a month. Or never again after this post. I think I was scared to do this in the past because I didn’t want to annoy/mislead all the people that subscribed to the site for the reasons they visited in the first place. But at this point, I figure either you’ll subscribe, continue to subscribe, or unsubscribe, and all those options are okay with me. I welcome comments — everything worthwhile in my life is a dialogue — but understand if there aren’t any.

So hi and welcome, or goodbye and don’t forget to visit Popdose for all your daily pop culture needs.

Hi.

Mellow Gold, Chart Attack And Others…at Popdose

February 14th, 2008

It occurred to me this morning that there may be some people following jasonhare.com who either haven’t jumped on the Popdose train or may have missed my posts over there. As I mentioned earlier, the majority of my musical content will now be featured at Popdose, but when I do post an article, I’ll try to post an update here with a specific URL for you. In the future, you’ll be able to click on my author page at Popdose, and automatically pull up any articles I’ve written. For now, though:

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold: Come join us as we make fun of smug ol’ Paul Anka!

CHART ATTACK: 2/7/87: More than you ever wanted to know about Billy Vera!

Songs For The Dumped: Come find out why getting dumped on my ass reminds me of Ann-Margret writhing in baked beans.

Enjoy!

Pogue Covers HDTV

January 31st, 2008

We’ve had our big screen LCD television since the summer, and boy, do we love it.  Of course, that’s not saying much, since our previous television was purchased by myself and my college roommates in 1998 for $100, and had awesome green and purple spots if you watched for more than 30 minutes.  But we have the television, we have the surround sound, and it’s perfect.  And the Yule Log, broadcast in HD, looks totally awesome.

I came across another great David Pogue article in the Times today, in which he gets a Best Buy employee to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about HDTV.  I figured I’d know all the answers, but I’ll be honest: this one got me.

Q: OK, how about this one: 720p or 1080p?

A: These are measurements of how many fine lines make up the picture.

You’d think that 1080p is obviously better than 720p. Trouble is, you won’t get a 1080p image unless you feed it a 1080p signal — and that’s hard to come by. There’s no such thing as a 1080p TV broadcast (cable, satellite, anything), and won’t be for years. Even most games, like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, generally send out 720p (or less).

So the *only* way to get a 1080p picture on a 1080p set is to buy a high-def DVD player (Blu-ray or HD DVD). That’s the only way. *** Xbox????

[D.P. adds: Even then, you won’t see any difference between 720p and 1080p unless you sit closer than 10 feet from the TV and it’s bigger than 55 inches or so.

And even then, you’re not getting any additional sharpness or detail. Instead, as CNET notes, you’re just gaining the ability to move closer without seeing individual pixels: “In other words, you can sit closer to a 1080p television and not notice any pixel structure, such as stair-stepping along diagonal lines, or the screen door effect (where you can actually see the space between the pixels).”]

Q: But a 1080p set costs a lot more than an identical 720p set, doesn’t it?

A: Yeah.

[D.P. adds: At this point, he showed me two plasmas, same brand, same size, same model line, mounted one above the other: one 720p, the other 1080p. The fancier set cost $2,000 more — and the image quality was pixel-for-pixel identical.]

You learn something new every day.  (Like I probably paid too much for my 1080p television.)