Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

The Anniversary Post – 2015 № 30

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Aug 17, 2015 @ 11:09 am PDT

userpic=anniversaryThirty years ago today Karen and I got married (in Woodland Hills, by Rabbi John Sherwood Z”L). Here’s looking forward to at least thirty more years…

(to the tune of the “William Tell Overture”)
Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary

Pour a cheerful toast and fill it, Happy Anniversary
But be careful you don’t spill it, Happy Anniversary

Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary
Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary

Happy she and happy he, They’re both as happy as can be
Celebrating merrily, their happy anniversary

Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary
Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary

We now state emphatically, it’s happy anniversary
Not another day could be, a happy anniversary

Ooooo Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary
Happy Anniversary
Happy (slow)
Happy (slow)
Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy (fast) Anniversary!!!

(Gioacchino Rossini; arr. William Hanna / Joseph Barbera)

Many years ago I saw a post on LJ that suggested an interesting tradition for anniversaries: For each year that you are married, post one thing that you love about your spouse. This year marks year № 30:

  1. I love that she keeps her head in a crisis.
  2. I love that she knows how to calm me down when I start panicking.
  3. I love that she helps me think logically when dealing with big ticket items or expenses.
  4. I love that she knows how to think through situations logically.
  5. I love that she is a very loyal friend, going out of her way to help others.
  6. I love that she is able to express herself very well, and convey information the information to others in ways they can understand.
  7. I love that she is a very good cook, coming up with creative gluten-free dishes.
  8. I love that she is willing to put away the laundry.
  9. I love that she pulls off very nice parties.
  10. I love that she has a good decorating sense.
  11. I love that she cleans up nicely :-)
  12. I love that she puts up with my disappearing off to Boardgame days and my working on the highway pages.
  13. I love the needlecrafting and fabric arts that she does (that is, the results–I’m less enthralled with the stash).
  14. I love that she knows how to deal with our daughter when I’m getting frustrated.
  15. I love that she was active in our daughter’s school life.
  16. I love that she is willing to deal with family situations I don’t want to deal with.
  17. I love that she is willing to deal with contractors and repair critters.
  18. I love that she doesn’t spend too much on quilting and fabric supplies :-).
  19. I love that she has similar tastes in friends to me.
  20. I love that she enjoys going to the theatre with me.
  21. I love that she understands that I’m not romantically inclined.
  22. I love that she puts up me when I’m dealing with my headaches.
  23. I love her compatible music tastes.
  24. I love that she’ll take my car in to get serviced, as opposed to saying “It’s your problem. Deal.”
  25. I love that she and I can have wonderfully intelligent conversations.
  26. I love her creativity.
  27. I love how she has helped raise our daughter into a bright, capable young woman.
  28. I love that she enjoys doing the “Berkeley Run” with our daughter.
  29. I love that she reminds me when it’s time to do the Anniversary Post.
  30. I love that she helps me take care of my health.

Of course, this list doesn’t include the things I love about her that I can’t post publicly :-). Maybe next year. You’ll just have to wait and see.

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Who In The Hell Do You Think You Are — Revisited

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Aug 16, 2015 @ 7:32 am PDT

Jesus Christ Superstar (Rep East)userpic=repeastBack in early July, I attended the second performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at REP East Playhouse (FB) in Newhall. I wasn’t that impressed; the show wasn’t up to REP standards. My wife driving my daughter’s car back to her in Berkeley this weekend afforded me the opportunity to go to the closing performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. I’m pleased to say the show is 200% better. Yes, I put that in bold (well, “strong”) for a reason. This is a remarkable turnaround, and I’m delighted that the show went out with REP’s reputation for quality professional theatre intact.

So what happened? The weekend after we originally saw the show, the performances were cancelled so the show could retool. REP was reworking the show to bring in live music. Additionally, the actor playing Judas (who we had found problematic) left the show. This, combined with getting the sound mix right, made wonders for the performance — instead of leaving lukewarm, I left enthused over the performance.

As for the book…. well, the book still has its problems, but at least I could understand it a bit better now. I did find that seeing it a second time brought out some nuances I didn’t catch before. In particular, I felt a distinct parallel between the desire of Jesus’ followers to fight the establishment they didn’t like with the battles going on against the Vietnam War when this show was written. That may explain why it was so popular in early 1970s.

Chris Loprete (FB), who I had previously admired as Pontius Pilate, moved up to the Judas role and was spectacular. He sang clearly, and with the right emotion and power, and made the role work.  I also enjoyed his little nuances and reactions. This was head and shoulders above the previous performer — I was extremely impressed. It was how the role should have been played.

Moving into the role of Pilate was Kevin Becker (FB). Becker did very well with the role, with good singing and strong performance. Pilate only has a few scenes, so it is hard to say much more. His main performances come in the second act, and he was strong there.

There were also a number of other problematic areas corrected. In particular, the microphones on the actors were corrected, and you could hear everyone clearly. This was an amazing difference. I also thought that Michael Davies was much stronger in his scene as King Herod — there seem to be some nuances changed in that performance that suddenly brought forth the right tone. The remainder of the cast seems to have grown into their roles — of course, being able to hear them clearly makes a big difference. In particular, I noticed the trio (Eriel Brown (FB), Laura Norkin/FB, and I’m guessing Tara Cox/FB) and their singing and dancing much more, and it seemed to work better. I was also able to appreciate Alex Bowman (FB)’s Peter a lot more.

About the only remaining problem was that some of Jesus’ songs were at the upper end (or above the upper end) of the Benjamin Patrick Thomas (FB)’s range, and the stretch didn’t always make it. This wasn’t a major problem, however; overall, I believe that Jesus’ had gotten stronger in performance as well.

A significant change was the addition of a live band, consisting of Rick Pratt (FB), Justin G. Horwitz/FB, and Connor Pratt/FB. Live music made a significant difference, both in musical quality and musical timing. Live music for a show is a thing of beauty, and I believe and hope this is a REP tradition for the future. The band sounded wonderful.

Some things still struck me as odd: The set painting still didn’t make sense (even after having it explained — it was supposed to evoke 1970s Ocean Pacific design, but I don’t see the connections), and there were still some odd lighting flashes and points where performers were in darkness. But with all the other fixes, these nits moved to the background. Overall, I enjoyed the show much much more.

This was the last performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at REP East Playhouse (FB). For the next two weeks, J. T. Centonze (FB) moves from behind the bar to direct A Company of Wayward Saints by George Herman. J.T. is a busy man, as he is also opening Off Kilter Kilts (FB) in Pasadena. You can get tickets for A Company of Wayward Saints through the REP Online Box Office.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I subscribe at three theatres:  REP East (FB), The Colony Theatre (FB), and Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Next weekend, we’re back at REP East (FB) for “A Company of Wayward Saints“. After that we’ll need a vacation … but then again we might squeeze in Evita at the Maui Cultural Center (FB) the last weekend of August. September starts with Tom Paxton’s last concert at McCabes (FB) on September 12, followed by “The Diviners” at REP East (FB) and “First Date” at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB). October will bring another Fringe Festival: the NoHo Fringe Festival (FB). October also has the following as ticketed or hold-the-dates: CSUN’s Urinetown (end of October – 10/30 or 11/1);  “The Best of Enemies” at The Colony Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/10); and  “Damn Yankees” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/17). As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

Doubles and Singles: News Chum for Everyone

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 15, 2015 @ 3:07 pm PDT

userpic=observationsNow for the rest of the news chum, which seems to fit into the theme of doubles and singles — that is, we have a bunch of groupa-twos and a few singlets:

Chips In The Stew: Technology News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 15, 2015 @ 2:25 pm PDT

userpic=verizonIn my continuing quest to work down the saved links, here are a collection of links associated by the fact that (a) they are related to technology (and perhaps cybersecurity), and (b) they were interesting to me. Note also that I’ve added some links to my post on Windows 10.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite operating system, Android. Here are some Android related articles:

Let’s now look at Windows and other software:

  • Evernote. Evernote is a wonderful note-keeping software than runs on your phone and your PC. Here’s how to make it more secure.
  • Libre Office.  I think in the battle of Free Office Suites, LibreOffice has won. Here’s an interesting article from a LibreOffice developer on the lesson’s learned from its success. [ETA: And if you still use OpenOffice, here’s why you should ditch it and move to LibreOffice]
  • Firefox. Although Firefox has improved greatly, it still sneaks in stuff. In this case, it is prefetching (or at least, pre-building the TCP connection) when you hover over links. Here’s how to stop the behavior.
  • Thunderbird. No article here, just some shared experience. We recently switched over to Office 365 and Exchange 365 at work. In the Lotus Notes era, I was lucky enough to have a Notes IMAP server, and happily used Thunderbird. It was a pain for calendar entries, however, saving the ical file and reloading it into Google Calendar. Here are some things that make my life easier — perhaps they will help yours. First, install the Exquilla Plug In. It is $10 a year, and allows Thunderbird to talk Microsoft Exchange. You’ll need the Outlook Web Address, and you’ll need to make the change in the URL they show. Next, at least temporarily, install the Manually Sort Folders extension. This allows you to move your Exchange account to the top and set it as the default. You can disable it when done. You should be prompted to turn on the Lighting calendar. After you have done so, add the addon Provider for Google Calendar. You can now add a new calendar and link it it to your Google Calendar. Remember to synchronize whenever you start up Thunderbird. Although you can’t accept events directly into the Google Calendar, you can accept them into your local calendar, and then drag them to Google. [EDITED TO ADD: An Update: Nevermind. This seemed to be working at work… until it wasn’t. There appears to be an interaction between Lightning and Thunderbird that causes it to (a) keep losing the folder pane, and then (b) keep crashing on startup. I had to disable Lightning and the Google Calendar Provider. Sigh.]

One last useful article: What to do when a CD or DVD is stuck in the drive.

Let’s Fly, Let’s Fly Away

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Aug 13, 2015 @ 10:28 pm PDT

userpic=psa-smileThis is a busy busy time, and the chum is accumulating. To whittle it down a little, here are some articles related to things that fly:

 

Watching Flying Bernstein Explain The Ceremonial Dances…

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Aug 09, 2015 @ 9:53 am PDT

Muse/ique 2015 Planet Bernstein Part IIuserpic=theatre_ticketsLast year, we took a … detour … from our conventional theatre when my wife discovered the Muse/ique Summer of Sound. This year, we were prepared and we went looking for Muse/ique (FB)’s shows. The theme this year has been Planet Bernstein, which has been an exploration of all things Leonard Bernstein. The one event we could fit in was the summer session on the lawn of the Beckman Auditorium at Caltech. Titled “Jazz/Genesis”, this session explored how Leonard Bernstein and his collaborators rewrote the rules for jazz, transforming and fusing it into classical jazz.  It featured Dee Dee Bridgewater (FB) as the guest artist, adding her interpretation and improvisation to the mix (I last saw Ms. Bridgewater, IIRC, when she did The Wiz at the Ahmanson in 1977 or 1978).

[In case you are curious, Part 1 on July 11 was “Cosmic / Collaboration”, and explored Bernstein’s influence on collaborators such as Copland, John Williams, Jerome Robbins, and John Lennon. Part 3, which alas we must miss, is on August 29 and is titled “In/Side Story”, and is a counter-cultural exploration of West Side Story, including performance, poetry, and dance.]

Last night’s program focused on Bernstein’s influence and interaction with other music creators such as Dave Brubeck, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Mike Simpson, and Stephen Sondheim.  It featured the Orchestra of Muse/ique (see below) under the direction of Rachael Worby (FB), the “Artistic Director, Conductor, and Connoisseur of the Counter Conventional” for Muse/ique. Alas, Muse/ique does not provide a program with a list of selections; based on my notes, these were the selections that were performed (along with some additional notes):

The Muse/ique orchestra, under the direction of Rachael Worby (FB), consisted of (I’m using the style of Muse/ique here): VIOLIN 1 / Ana Landauer, Lorand Lokuszta (FB), Eric Wuest (FB), Rafi Rishik (FB), Joel Pargman (FB), Carrie Kennedy (FB) / VIOLIN 2 / Agnes Gottschewski (FB), Neel Hammond, Susan Rishik, Florence Titmus (FB) / VIOLA / Yi Zhou (FB), Shawn Mann (FB), Brett Banducci (FB) / CELLO / Peter Myers (FB), Joo Lee (FB), Rebecca Merblum (FB) / BASSES / Mike Valerio (FB), Don Ferrone (FB) / FLUTE / Sarah Weisz, Angela Weigand (FB) / OBOE / Claire Chenette (FB), John Yoakum (FB) / CLARINET / Stuart Clark (FB), Damon Zick (FB) / BASSOON / Damian Montano (FB) / HORN /  Steve Becknell (FB), Nathan Campbell / TRUMPET / Marissa Benedict (FB), Chris Eble (FB) / TROMBONE / Nick Daley (FB), Brent Anderson (FB) / TUBA / P. Blake Cooper (FB) / TIMPANI / Theresa Dimond / PERCUSSION / Jason Goodman (FB) / DRUMSET / Mike Shapiro (FB) / KEYBOARD / Alan Steinberger (FB) / CASTING / Brady Steel (FB).

In general, I enjoyed the show: very pleasant music, in a very civilized picnic setting (they provide tables and chairs, even). I have only one major quibble: and that is not with Muse/ique, but with Caltech. For whatever reason, the clowns at Caltech (FB) decided to schedule a wedding right now top of the Muse/ique performance. Based on the Caltech master schedule for wedding photography, this was either the Oganesyan wedding party, the Manougian wedding party, or the Loza/Orozco wedding party. It is unclear which was the culprit, but the wedding party appeared to be in the courtyard of Dabny Hall, and was blasting rock music towards Muse/ique, spoiling the entire atmosphere. For such an intelligent organization, this was poor poor form, Caltech.

Alas, this show was a single performance, but if you’re in town, you can catch In/Side Story on August 29. For more information, visit the Muse/ique website.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I subscribe at three theatres:  REP East (FB), The Colony Theatre (FB), and Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Our last concert of the weekend is a MoTAS event (so no writeup, whew!):  Concerts on the Green in Warner Park (with a Neil Diamond cover band). The third weekend of August is calmer, but only because we moved theatre off the weekend because my wife is driving my daughter’s car back to the bay area. As for me, I might very well go back to see the revised “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB) — they are returning to have live music and I expect that will make a significant difference. The third week of August may see us back at REP East (FB) for their “secret seventh show”, which has been revealed to be “A Company of Wayward Saints“. After that we’ll need a vacation … but then again we might squeeze in Evita at the Maui Cultural Center (FB) the last weekend of August. September starts with Tom Paxton’s last concert at McCabes (FB) on September 12, followed by right now is mostly open, with the only ticketed show being “The Diviners” at REP East (FB) and a hold-the-date for “First Date” at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB). October will bring another Fringe Festival: the NoHo Fringe Festival (FB). October also has the following as ticketed or hold-the-dates: CSUN’s Urinetown (end of October – 10/30 or 11/1);  “The Best of Enemies” at The Colony Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/10); and  “Damn Yankees” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/17). As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

The Odd Man Out

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 08, 2015 @ 1:22 pm PDT

The Fabulous Lipitones (Colony Theatre)userpic=colonyWhen you are talking about situational humor, you can never go wrong with a situation that involves an odd man out, or as they taught on Sesame Street: “Which one of these things is not like the other?” This is the premise of the current show, The Fabulous Lipitones,  at The Colony Theatre (FB), which we saw last night on a rescheduled ticket.

The Fabulous Lipitones (written by John Markus and Mark St. Germain) tells the story of a barbershop quartet in small town Ohio (London, Ohio). They had just finished qualifying for the nationals in Reno when their lead singer dropped dead of a heart attack (leading to the first joke of the show). The remaining members: Howard Dumphy (a home caretaker for his wife), Wally Smith (a pharmacist), and Phil Rizzardi (owner of an exercise and tanning studio) have to decide what to do: break up the group, or find a new lead. After some internal bickering about what direction they want to take the group now that their lead is gone, a fortunate call on speakerphone leads them to an employee of a nearby auto shop: Bob, who has a wonderful singing voice. When they ask him over to audition, they discover the truth: His full name is Baba Mati Singh, and he is a Sikh. As they say on the elevator, hilarity then ensues.

At this point, many stereotypes kick in. Bob has to explain the difference between Sikhism and Islam, while dealing with a group member who is a closet racist. The group is also dealing with the cultural differences between grey-haired pasty white men and a sikh from India. So insert all your “your a terrorist”, “it’s a ceremonial knife”, and such here.

But the thing about situation comedy — and the reason it has been so successful all these years — is that it is funny. It isn’t deep; it isn’t necessarily thought provoking. It is a pleasant way of passing a few hours with your fellow humans, laughing away at the funny situation. Don’t go looking for a classic farce; don’t go looking for a deep and sophisticated comedy. This is broad situation comedy, and it works. Who knows — as this is the California premier, maybe a TV executive will see this and decide to make a TV series out of it. It could be an improvement over many shows currently out there.

As usual with the Colony, the performances are top notch. John Racca (FB) plays Howard Dunphy. The interest aspect here is that Racca actually injured his leg after the first performance, and is walking with a cane. Although not part of the character conception, it fits the character well (even if it does mean he must exit stage left to go upstairs). Racca gives a very personable characterization of the character, including the wishy-washy nature of his decisions, and has a lovely voice. Steve Gunderson (FB) plays Wally Smith, a 60-something virginal druggist who really wants to keep the group together — giving the impression that this is his only outlet. Again, wonderful comic timing and singing voice. Dennis Holland plays Phil Rizzardi, the fitness buff of the group who really wants to walk away from Barbershop because it is so out of date. He’s also the racist of the group. Again, he has a great voice.

This brings us to the odd man out: Baba Mati Singh (Bob), played by Asante Gunewardena (FB). Asante plays the fish out of water well, and had the comic timing to hold his own against the old men. Again, a lovely singing voice — and more importantly, a singing voice that blended well with all the others to form a great Barbershop Quartet.

Additional voices credited in the program were provided by Larry Cedar (FB) and Kevin Symons (FB).

The production was directed by John Markus  (FB) (one of the authors). The direction worked well — the director not only knows the story well but how to direct sitcoms — and was designed to bring out the humor in the situations. What was interesting was how the direction had to adapt to the aforementioned actors’ injury.

In addition to a number of traditional barbershop numbers, there was original music by Randy Courts, with lyrics by Mark St. Germain. Musical direction was by Sam Kriger, with Choreography by Murphy Cross (FB).

The scenic design by David Potts was different than I’ve seen before for the Colony — a curtain in front of the main scenic area, with a few scenes played out before the curtain. It was clear that this production was written with a proscenium stage in mind and was adapted for thrust. Still, the scenic design itself worked well to establish place, especially when combined with the properties design and set dressing of Colony regular John McElveney (FB), and the scenic art of newly-engaged Colony regular Orlando de la Paz. The lighting design by Bill E. Kickbush worked well to establish the place and scene, and the sound design by Drew Dalzell (FB) was what a good sound design should be: unnoticable.  The costumes by Dianne K. Graebner (FB)  fit the characters well, although my wife had some potential considers about the Sikh costumes. Remaining production credits: Art Brickman (Production Stage Manager); Patricia Cullen (Casting Director); David Elzer/Demand PR (Public Relations). The Colony is under the artistic direction of Barbara Beckley.

The Fabulous Lipitones continues at The Colony Theatre (FB) through August 23. Tickets are available through the Colony website. Discount tickets are available through Goldstar. Although it is isn’t anything deep, the show is an enjoyable way to spend a night out together with someone you love, laughing away.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I subscribe at three theatres:  REP East (FB), The Colony Theatre (FB), and Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: The rest of this weekend is concerts: our summer Mus-ique show on Saturday, and Concerts on the Green in Warner Park (with a Neil Diamond cover band) on Sunday. The third weekend of August is calmer, but only because we moved theatre off the weekend because my wife is driving my daughter’s car back to the bay area. As for me, I might very well go back to see the revised “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB) — they are returning to have live music and I expect that will make a significant difference. The third week of August may see us back at REP East (FB) for their “secret seventh show”, which has been revealed to be “A Company of Wayward Saints“. After that we’ll need a vacation … but then again we might squeeze in Evita at the Maui Cultural Center (FB) the last weekend of August. September starts with Tom Paxton’s last concert at McCabes (FB) on September 12, followed by right now is mostly open, with the only ticketed show being “The Diviners” at REP East (FB) and a hold-the-date for “First Date” at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB). October will bring another Fringe Festival: the NoHo Fringe Festival (FB). October also has the following as ticketed or hold-the-dates: CSUN’s Urinetown (end of October – 10/30 or 11/1);  “The Best of Enemies” at The Colony Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/10); and  “Damn Yankees” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/17). As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

Perhaps There’s Another Approach For More Space

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 08, 2015 @ 10:46 am PDT

userpic=ipodIf you’ve been reading my iPod posts for a while, you know that a growing concern of mine is what I will do when my iPod runs out of space. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I like owning (not leasing) my music, and having control of what I listen to when I want it. I like not being tethered to a data plan (or at least consuming it with music); I like being able to listen to all my music when I have no network connection. As background, I’m currently at 36308 songs taking 136 GB, plus podcasts, leaving about 12GB on my iPod Classic (7.5g, 160GB) free.

Previously, I had been exploring alternative high-capacity Digital Audio Players.  There were a number of leading contenders: Fiio, Astell and Kern, and iBasso being the primary ones. They all stored their data on microSD cards, but all had suboptimal user interfaces, could not handle smart playlists, and required use of different media managers.

About a week ago I began to ask myself: why go for a standalone player? After all, if the key aspect was storage of music on an SD card, I could likely find an Android phone that could take a card (iPhone have no external storage support). The most likely player looks to be Rocket Player. They also have a premium version. I’ve seen comments that it supports smart playlists, but who knows if they are compatible with iTunes smart playlists.  But it looks like there is a wide variety of players available (see also here). PlayerPro seemed like a possibility, but it looks like there are currently playlist problems. There’s also DoubleTwist, which has some interesting syncing capabilities with iTunes.

With music on Android, there would also be the question of how to manage it. The best solution is, surprisingly, iTunes (with an add-on called iSynchr that allows iTunes to talk to Android). Of course, this would have the question of how long iTunes would continue to work with the add-on. Doubletwist is also recommended, and presumably it works best with the DoubleTwist app. I haven’t seen any recent surveys, however, and most I’ve read indicate that iTunes with the iSynchr is still bettter. However, even using the phone, there is still the problem of battery life: playing music on the phone decreases the overall phone battery.

The best solution, of course, is to keep using the iPod. But, you say, iPods are no longer made and they max out at 160GB. Perhaps the stock ones do. There are adapters out there that permit a modder to replace the iPod hard disk with a SDXC flash card — supposedly up to 256GB. They could likely take the iPod to more storage (software permitting), if they do the full SDXC standard that goes to 2TB; however, cards larger than 256GB are not available yet. Yet.  Google News has also been pointing me to this article about turbocharging a classic with an SSD up to 1TB. This in someways is less expensive as one can use an mSATA SSD — where getting 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB is much less expensive. There is a fellow that sells the needed adapters; he has even made a 1TB iPod. His website has a whole batch of interesting posts about such mods, including tutorials and recommendations on drives to use. He even compares the different types of storage.

The one drawback to upgrading the iPod is: I’m a software guy, not a hardware guy. I wouldn’t be comfortable attempting to make the mod myself.  I’ve dropped email to three local iPod Repair shops: Northridge iRepair, Repair Stop Northridge, and uBreakIFix. Northridge iRepair responded quickly, noting that they had tried this with a personal iPod, and had been able to install it just fine — but it wouldn’t boot up. My guess is that they ran into a media problem — evidently, not all mSATA drives work, just as not all SDXC cards work. So hopefully they will try some more and get things working before it need it.  I’ll update this as more folks respond.

My plan forward at this point is to… wait. I’ve still got 12GB to fill — that should take about a year. When I get close, I’ll switch from synching all to just synching playlists, and make some music on the computer only. That may give me another 2GB of play, but hopefully it won’t require reloading the iPod when I make the change. I may also explore converting the older of the two iPod Classic (iPod Primero) to SSD — either a 256GB SDXC card (although if I want larger storage, if the interface works, all that means is getting a larger card) or a 512GB mSATA drive. It all depends on price and the success of the installer on working with particular media.