Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reality, What A Concept!

That line is from a Robin Williams stand-up show that was done in 1979 (aptly named "Reality…What A Concept"). This was at the time when he was on "Mork & Mindy", right when he was becoming a huge stand-up comic. I remember getting and listening to this concert on 8-track tape.

"What's 8-track tape" you say? It was one of the few types we could use back then for listening to music/recordings: first was record albums and 45 singles; then 8-track tapes and tape cassette tapes; then CD's came along and promptly blew everything away (but now we also have records again, because people like to hear the 'pops' and 'scratches'). 8-tracks were housed in these large, bulky cassette boxes and you could listen to them in an endless loop (unlike you could with a cassette or record)--but you could never fast forward or rewind them (like you could cassette tapes, or records (if you sat by the turntable and kept moving the arm back to the track, causing the 'pops' and 'scratches').

A quick "google" search shows that 8-tracks were initially made by the Lear company (for their Lear jets) but they wound up being put into cars; and they were also put into portable players (which we had one--a white one). They were also put into home stereo systems. We had one such system that had a "jukebox" like look to it (but it was not a juke box -- the front of it had some lights on it that would blink to the music). I still have it (it's in my basement); but I don't think it works (I don't have an 8-track tape to try it out on).

Surprisingly, 8-tracks had been around from the early 1960's and they stayed into the beginning of the 1980's. I say surprisingly because I only remember seeing them in the late 1970's early 1980's. But when Compact Dissc's were introduced, 8-tracks quickly dropped out of existence (soon to be followed by cassette tapes).

Now, the reason why I've brought up this ancient form of recording is because I have recently been listening to Meatloaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" album (which I now own on CD, but we used to own it on 8-track tape). The 8-track, like I said, would play the whole album in a loop, but it was never continuous. 8-track tapes had 4 levels (which is why they were able to put the whole album on it--and that it could constantly be played over-and-over again until (a) you got sick of it; or (b) you warped the tape). The problem was, there was only so much time that was available on each of the 4 levels. 8-track's had the unfortunate ability of cutting off a song in the middle (sometimes right in the beginning) of a song, switch to the next level and then finish the song.

So now whenever I listen to Meatloaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" on CD (which is truly a continuous format), I hear the breaks in the songs (because I had constantly listened to that 8-track tape). The same goes for anything I listened to on 8-track: The Eagles "Hotel California"; Styx "Cornerstone" and "Caught In The Act"; and Robin Williams' "Reality…What A Concept"--(which is a very funny album).

Well, this is not where I thought I'd be going with this entry. I thought I was going to write about how I have not gotten caught up in all of the reality shows offered (this Summer). I completely tuned-out "So You Think You Can Dance" (mainly because they changed the format). The only show I've been watching this summer is "Growing Up Twisted" (about the family of lead singer from Twisted Sister -- Dee Snyder). I can't say that the whole family is completely whacked, because Dee and his oldest son have their wits about them--but the rest of the family (wife, daughter and two other sons), they seem to be taking too much advantage of being under the microscope.

Now the Pocket Ferengei, he's a reality show nut. He will say he's not, but he is. Not only does he watch all of the car reality shows (Pink's All Out and Overhauling (is that even on anymore?), and anything else that has cars involved (am I reaching with NASCAR? I don't think so)); but he's been getting into the shows like River Monster, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, pretty much (almost) anything that shows up on Discovery. So, I guess, by association I watch them also (but I'm only in the room when they are on--I don't pay attention to them).

Well, that's all for me. Now that I've mentioned Robin Williams I think he's going to be my next top 10 list.

More later…Booboo

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