Oct 062017

Sometimes I like to pick out exactly what I want to listen to. And sometimes I like to be surprised.

You ever think about why it feels so good to have your back scratched or rubbed? A big part of it is that you don’t know what the person is going to do next. You can capture some of it yourself, but you know where you’re going. That robs it of its magic.

I’m looking for a good service to stream music to me in that backscratching sort of way—it knows what I like, but I don’t know what it’s going to do next. I need a “deep cut” knob.

I’ve tried most extensively with Pandora, which seems promising because you can specify a primary song or artist, and then “tune” it with secondary ones (called “adding variety”). But it’s just too ham-fisted and overbearing. It doesn’t do any “thinking” on its own. Examples:

  • If I give a thumbs-up to a Joan Jett song, the station suddenly becomes two-thirds Joan Jett or The Runaways.
  • It can’t fill in blanks with good guesses. If, for example, I have a Judas Priest station but one of its variety specifications is Nick Lowe, it won’t try to set an interesting range there. It’ll just play Judas Priest songs and Nick Lowe songs.
  • It just doesn’t “know” enough. I have a Simple Minds station that apparently only knows four Simple Minds songs. There are a dozen that are both worth hearing and should be common enough to make the grade.

I played with Spotify a bit last night, but it makes a very safe playlist that I could easily make myself. You say Black Sabbath, it says “Iron Man.” You say AC/DC, it says “You Shook Me All Night Long.” You say Boston, it says “More Than a Feeling.” Etc. It’s no better than turning on WTAK, and that’s a low bar indeed.

Amazon Prime stations are better than I thought they’d be, but mostly because I can skip as many as I want. For ’80s rock or the yacht rock station, for example, I’ll reliably find that every tenth or twelfth song is one I want to hear.

So whatcha got, BoWilliams.com readers? Do you have a way to listen to music that is good at “knowing” what you like and delights you with a surprise once in a while? I don’t mind paying a little, but I’d like to stay with Internet offerings (as opposed to satellite, for example) for the convenience.

 Posted by at 11:32 am
Aug 202017

The best advice on viewing the August 21 solar eclipse is to do it.

Watch the eclipse.

Experience it first. Document it second.

Guess what? It’s going to be cool. Guess what else? Many millions of people will be consuming the experience at the same time you are. Everyone will have remarkably similar photos and video. And, there will be plenty of professional photos as well.

I’m certain it will be a huge social media event. I’m also certain that it’s difficult to imagine an event less amenable to such.

Take some shots for yourself. Your kids standing in your driveway the day it was nighttime at 1:30 in the afternoon is a good one.

But you don’t have a scoop, OK? So don’t rush to document it at the expense of experiencing it.

 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Jul 302017

It’s been quite a weekend, and it’s not over yet. Watch for the #dinehsv hashtag to get all of the wonderful stories and pictures about this weekend’s food blogger tour. I’ll be writing both here at BoWilliams.com and at Rocket City Mom, and that hashtag will get you my work as well as everyone else’s […]

 Posted by at 11:45 am
Jun 272017

The signs pummeled us just as we crossed into my sister’s home state last week. She had warned me about aggressive speed limit enforcement in Virginia, and indeed, we were all of two miles across the state line when we passed our first pair of cruisers in the median—one aimed northbound, the other southbound. After I […]

 Posted by at 10:08 am
May 182017

Chris Cornell, lead singer and cofounder of both Soundgarden and Audioslave, has died at 52. He was one of my favorite musicians to come out of the grunge scene. God be with his family and friends. The first sugarless cola on the market was Diet Rite, a product of the Royal Crown Company, in 1958. […]

 Posted by at 1:33 pm

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