Music: Chilling passages

If this were one of the notorious clickbait websites, the title of the article would be “Five Musical Passages That Will Give You an Orgasm!”

But I have an elemental aversion to clickbait, so I’ll just share a few musical pieces with you that are guaranteed to give me gooseflesh. No matter how many times I listen to them.

In passing, those chills you get when listening to whatever piece of music gives you a rush come from a release of dopamine, the same pleasure chemical responsible for the joys of food, sex, and other more substantive things.

Note: These are not listed in any particular order – all of them can be my favorite at any given moment.

1) Allegri’s Miserere

Wait for the high “C.” Something like having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick, if that sounds familiar and you can relate.

2) Liszt: Les Préludes

The part that makes me weep begins at 14:02, but the whole piece is like Sara Lee’s All-Butter Frozen Brownies to my soul.

3) Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastorale)

This is the piece that was responsible for my first “music-gasm,” as it were, at a very young age – and Walt Disney is responsible. His use of this piece in the masterpiece Fantasia captivated me like nothing else had in my short 8 years.

The bit that always grabs me begins at 3:00 in the above clip, but the entire symphony is breathtaking. I know my parents listened to a lot of classical and broadway music when I was a baby, but this piece is the one that cemented my life-long love of classical music, and particularly that of Beethoven.

4) Barber: Adagio for Strings

Just this whole piece. If ever I feel like calling up melancholy anguish for the sorrows of the world, this is my go-to piece.

5) Beethoven’s Sonata 21 in C Major, Op. 53 (Waldstein)

Again, der Allermeister. Listen to Claudio Arrau knock my socks off, starting at 22:35, and then go back and listen to the entire masterpiece.

it goes without saying that there are many, many others – but these are some of the ones that come back to over and over again.

These are my favorites; go hunting, and find some pieces that move you in the same way.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Phishing: Watch those URLs

Today in my Yahoo! mail account:

Yahoo

If you click that “Sign In” link, you get taken to

http://www.oficinadentalpr.com/includes/drpbx/db/%5Bobfuscated%5D.php”

which is apparently a dental office in Brazil. (I tried contacting them to let them know that their website had been compromised, but their contact page seems to be malfunctioning.)

At any rate, this is what you get:

Yahoo2

Which leads you to the regular “Enter your critical personal information and credit card and bank data” page.

The ongoing lesson: Don’t click embedded links in emails. Just don’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Dear Congress: In case you forgot, reproductive freedom is the law.

In January of 2015, Washington DC approved D.C. ACT 20-593, effectively modifying the Human Rights Act of 1977 to ensure that people could not be discriminated against for their use of reproductive technologies (contraception, in-vitro fertilization, etc.). To wit:

“(c) For the purposes of this section, the term “reproductive health decisions” includes a decision by an employee, an employee’s dependent, or an employee’s spouse related to the use or intended use of a particular drug, device, or medical service, including the use or intended use of contraception or fertility control or the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy.”

On April 8th of this year, Joint Resolution H.J. Res. 43 issued by congress “disapproves” of the DC amendment.

It appears that Congress is trying to pry open the door allowing bosses to fire workers if they disagree with their employees’ reproductive choices.

Let no one think that by my posting this that I am in favor of abortion. With the exception of rare medical conditions affecting mother and/or child, or in cases of rape or incest, I sincerely wish people would opt for adoption. But until SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade, it’s legal, and employers have no right to discriminate against anyone for their reproductive behavior.

The ACLU may be taking things a bit too far with this article, which trumpets “Congress Just Launched Its First Strike Against Women and LGBT People Under the Guise of Defending Religious Liberty.” On the other hand, knowing how polarized the political and theological divide in this country is, they may be spot on. Only time will tell.

I could think of a hundred issues that I’d rather see Congress spending their time on.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

“Boom?”

And therein lies a tale.

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The above photo, found at reddit, illustrates he beginning of the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930. The top half of the image shows steam shovels carving away a hole for the foundation. Since Manhattan’s bedrock, ideally suited for the foundations of large skyscrapers, is closer to the surface in midtown and by the Battery, blasting was used to move that rock out of the way. (Historical note: the theory that this bedrock depth was responsible for the clustering of skyscrapers in those areas is giving way to other economy-based theories).

The procedure for this blasting was to drill holes in the rock face, have steam shovels cover up the area to be cleared with huge blankets made of twisted steel cables at least 1″ in diameter, and let fly. The resounding “whump!” was audible for blocks. The blankets were then removed, and the rubble cleared away by Mike Mulligan, Mary Jane, and friends. I loved watching this process as a kid, and construction companies would put windows in the walls around the building site so that rubberneckers could enjoy the spectacle. I was grateful to see these photos, as clear pictures of the process are difficult to find.

Earlier in life, however, there was a downside.

When I was about two, my parents lived in an apartment on Madison in the 90s. My room was next to the kitchen. One day I remember wandering into the darkened kitchen and beginning to play (I’m sure I had been forbidden to touch!) with the gas stove. It was cool to turn the knobs and watch the flame come on, and then turn them off and watch the blue fire dance around the burners before going out.

Remember this was in the early 50s: the oven had no automatic lighter, but you had to turn it on and stick a match down a hole in front to ignite the burner. I, however, knew nothing of that – all I know is that I must have turned that central knob, and when nothing happened, go back to the other four. However, the oven was filling up with gas, and the next time I turned on a burner, the inevitable happened.

With a roar, the gas-filled oven exploded. I was saved from serious injury by the fact that the oven door was taller than I was… when it blew open, it hit me on the forehead and I lost the front of my hair and my eyebrows, gathering a significant cut in the process, but my face and body were protected from the flames by the door itself.

I’m sure my parents were scared spitless, and relieved that I handn’t been killed outright. But my mother reported to me later in life that for a long time thereafter, when one of those construction blasts went off, my eyes would get as big as saucers, and I’d look at her, and ask “Boom?”

To this day I still don’t respond well to loud noises or being startled. I wonder if there’s a residual effect going on there? The most accurate of all Sun Microsystems “fortune” lines, at least for me, is “You will be surprised by a loud noise.”

Works every time.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Malware download from “eBay GMBH” (German Ebay)

Clearly not from the German version of eBay, but posting this here just in case anyone gets the same email and Googles for it.

Rechnung für [redacted] noch offen: Nummer 19879661
Sent By: Inkasso Ebay GmbH   On:Apr 04/22/15 12:59 AM
Forderung an [redacted].22 04.2015-Inkasso Ebay GmbH.zip (130 KB) | Download

Sehr geehrter Kunde [Redacted], Ihr Kreditinstitut hat die Kontoabbuchung zurück buchen lassen. Sie haben eine ungedeckte Forderung bei der Firma Ebay GmbH.

Aufgrund des bestehenden Zahlungsrückstands sind Sie verpflichtet außerdem, die durch unsere Beauftragung entstandenen Kosten von 43,90 Euro zu tragen. Wir erwarten die vollständige Zahlung bis zum 24.04.2015 auf unser Bankkonto. Namens unseren Mandanten fordern wir Sie auf, die offene Forderung sofort zu begleichen. Bei Fragen oder Unklarheiten erwarten wir eine Kontaktaufnahme innerhalb des gleichen Zeitraums.

Bitte beachten Sie, dass keine weitere Mahnung erfolgt. Nach Ablauf der Frist wird die Akte dem Gericht und der Schufa übergeben. Eine vollständige Kostenaufstellung, der Sie alle Buchungen entnehmen können, ist beigefügt.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Inkasso Voigt Marlon

Achtung: Dies ist ein Betrug. Keine angehängten Dateien öffnen!

Summary: I have an open invoice because of a declined charge with Ebay Germany. If I don’t pay immediately, a collection company will come after me and I’ll be reported to the General Credit Protection Agency. Notice that ZIP file up there in red, supposedly an invoice. Unzip it, and there’s another zip file. Unzip that, and there’s a file called

[redacted] Forderung 22.04.2015 – Inkasso Ebay GmbH.com (meaning, supposedly, a demand for collection.)

That’s a .COM file, or rather a simple executable file… in other words, a program. These are BAD NEWS for anyone who is foolish enough to open them. They’re just as bad as .EXE files. NEVER OPEN AN EXE OR COM FILE UNLESS YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IT IS AND WHOM IT’S FROM.

Interestingly enough, I ran a virus check on this file and it came up with nothing. However, submitting it to VirusTotal.com came up with this:

viruses

In other words, it’s a nasty. The anti-virus programs indicated came up with multiple offenders for this file – one example that I followed for illustrative purposes was Packed.Win32.Katusha.o, which is a Trojan that can connect to a remote IRC server once it has infiltrated a PC. Packed.Win32.Katusha.o will download harmful files from the server that will damage the infected machine even further.

If you run this insidious program, you have just opened wide a door to the criminal element, and your computer will be infected with keyloggers, other trojans, made part of a botnet of spamming computers, infected with the dreaded CryptoLocker, or who knows what else. It will, at the very least, cause you inconvenience, and at the very worst destroy all your files, give criminals access to your personal data and/or your email accounts, and cost you lots of money. These people are horrible individuals. They want only one thing – to make money at your expense, and they don’t care how they do it.

Don’t ever fall victim to them.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Stacia A. Hylton, what are you going to do now?

hylton-216

This is  Stacia A. Hylton, Directorn of the US Marshals Service.

south-gate-marshal-camera.si

This is a disgraceful scumbag, identified as a US Marshal, ripping a smartphone away from a woman who was recording police about 15 feet away. In the video this was captured from, he throws the device on the ground and kicks it away.

Ms. Hylton, since you don’t provide a general contact email address, this will have to be an open letter.

This individual has brought disgrace to your entire outfit, if your training program allows such wanton behavior. Reports say that federal agents are “investigating.”

Please, in the name of all that’s holy, don’t let this event fade away with a “proper procedure was followed.” How this abuse of power is dealt with will say a lot about your administration.

I will be watching.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Johnny Cash – Strawberry Cake

Saw this image float by in a collection of so-called “rare photographs,” and wondered about the back story.

EsAcUDX

The Internet, of course, has its own answer for everything:

johnny-cash-eating-cake-in-a-bush-high

But that’s not the real story.

cake

The photo is from the back of Johnny’s album, “Strawberry Cake,” accompanied by this text:

“On a hot summer afternoon in New York City, June and I walked through the zoo in Central Park. It was a hot dog and ice cream day. The place was crowed and giving up on the Hassle of working our way through the crowd, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the concert that night at the Garden State Art Center. As we approached the hotel, I saw a bum lying on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. He never even opened his eyes when I stood over him, June said, “Come On Honey” But I said “just a minute” I walked around him, hoping he wasn’t dead. My shadow fell across him and when I moved on, I saw his eyes flutter as the bright sunlight hit his face. He didn’t open his eyes, but I knew he wasn’t dead. “What are you doing?” June asked “I’m thinking about my friend here, “I said” “that could be me, you know” June came over closer and smiled at me. “That was you a couple of times.” Then she said again, “Come on lets go” The rest of the story is in the song. I became that man. I put myself in his place and my mind, he finally won. I wish I knew who he is, and where he is. I’d send him a piece of Strawberry Cake.”

Below you can watch a Dinah Shore episode from 1975 where Johnny describes the origins of the song and sings it for your listening pleasure:

Lyrics:

In New York city just walking the street
Ran out of money had nothing to eat
I stopped at the Plaza, that fancy hotel
Where you can check in if you’re well to do well…
The first of July and a hundred and four
I stopped at the Plaza’s front revolving door
I stepped in the door and went around for a ride
Treatin’ myself to the cool air inside
Then I found myself in a chandeliered room
Where people were dining and I hid in the gloom
My hunger pains hurt ’til I thought I would break
When a waiter brought out a big strawberry cake

Oh that strawberry cake
Oh that strawberry cake
Out in California them berries were grown
And into this city them berries were flown
For making that strawberry cake

Then I thought of Oxnard, just north of LA
Where I picked strawberries for many a day
Hard work with no future for the harvest was done
And I headed eastward a-travelin’ by thumb
And nobody wanted me here in this town
I felt like a stray dog they all kick around
Them berries reminded me of my bad breaks
I’m hungry and I want that strawberry cake

I deserve that strawberry cake
Deserve that strawberry cake
I ran and I grabbed it then out the side door
Into Central Park through the bushes I tore
Holdin’ my strawberry cake

I look back behind me and what do I see
The chef and headwaiter and the maître d
I had a nice helpin’ of cake as I ran
I gobble them berries as fast as I can
They’re closin’ the gap as I slowed down to eat
But the cake brought a new surge of power to my feet
I hid in the bush when the lead I did take
And I quietly finished my strawberry cake

I ate all that strawberry cake
That fine fancy strawberry cake
Someone at the plaza is without dessert
But for the first time in days now my belly don’t hurt
I’m full of strawberry cake

The rest of the text on the album reads as follows:

“By your possession of this album, you can consider yourself having been present twenty years ago in 1955. At the start of a career and it sound at Sun Records Studio in Memphis Tennessee, as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two cut their first record to a recently as September 1975. When Johnny Cash presented at London England’s Palladium his Johnny Cash Concert. From the standpoint of “Sound” to have been present at one would be the same as having attended the other. Times change, tastes change, and in order to conform some artists must change. Johnny Cash changed in keeping with the times; but as it turned out, not keeping with tastes. Many opinions were expressed to John and me, as to what should be done for the sake of conformity. Innovations were tried new arrangements, different material, engineering “gimmicks” but fortunately one item defied change. Through it all the voice and style remained constant and identifiable in some cases, nevertheless still there. If any change is perceptible in today’s recordings, as compared to those of twenty years ago, that change is of time as related to maturity of voice. This album, then, brings us around full circle. Back to the start of a career and sound. To point from which a digression was never needed. Here is what you have demanded. The basic honest, up-front Johnny Cash …. Better than ever.”

While I’ve never been the most devoted country fan – I’ve always preferred bluegrass – Johnny Cash stands out as a notable exception in my own playlists. He was a complex individual, one who was described as a “lens through which to view American contradictions and challenges.” (Miller, Stephen, Johnny Cash: The Life of an American Icon). 

Johnny’s music and his life and his relationship with his beloved wife June were sufficient to make him a larger-than-life figure who earned an indelible place in musical history. I’m glad I got to live in his era, and regret only that I never got to see him perform live in concert. His likes will not be there again.

The Old Wolf has spoken.