Friday Filler – How Old Is Too Old to Be Creative?

Thank Grog It’s Firday!

What a week…

The news this week was full of awful stuff…with very few bits of good news worth watching.  So mostly, I didn’t. I knew what was going on…but it all felt the same, like we had been here before.   Kind of like this update….which is a whole lot of the same.  Some interesting writing…but otherwise, not much of a “game.”

It made me remember some of the crazy updates we used have as “normal.”  Chasing stuff…being chased by stuff…killing…maiming… No, wait…was that the news, or highlights from my home improvement projects?   I’ll get to that too.

And then, just when I thought things couldn’t get weirder, the  long-time, and now former Simpsons music  score composer filed a lawsuit against FOX, alleging  “wrongful termination and age discrimination.” And I was surprised that I had mixed feelings about that too…

So…many…mixed…emotions.  So many ants. And yes…I’ll get to that as well.
First Alf Clausen.  And yes…when you see his picture, you have to wonder if somehow the character on the “hit TV show” which featured a fuzzy alien, was named after him.

Now…as this article from “Variety Magazine” lays out, Clausen had been doing all of the soundtrack music for the show for 27 years. That is a LOT of music. And, it was all wonderful, no doubt about it.

However, when FOX “went another direction,” there is no doubt in my mind that it had to do with money, and not age discrimination.  Clausen was/is a great composer/arranger. However, in my estimation, his downfall came from his “old school” methods of using a 35 piece orchestra to record the scores. Thirty Five Hollywood Union Musicians….for hours and hours on end. That is a boatload of sprinkles in anyone’s book.  This isn’t the golden age of Hollywood.  This is the Netflix generation.

The real culprit here isn’t Fox, or Clausen, or the Thirty Five Union Musicians, it is technology. The suit lays out the facts, ” After he was let go, Clausen was replaced by Bleeding Fingers Music, a music production company co-founded by Russell Emanuel, Hans Zimmer and Steve Kofsky. The suit states that Clausen’s replacement “was substantially younger in age, who was not only paid less, but was not disabled.”

Uhm….not disabled? I’ll have to look up to see if “Conductor’s Shoulder” is covered by Medicare.   But, these guys aren’t lightweights.  Zimmer has a huge list of credits, and a ton of Oscars.  But, he is far, far less expensive, even with those credentials, because he is primarily a digital musician/composer.  One guy, with a ton of computer linked keyboards and samplers…playing exactly what he wants, when he wants -vs- a conductor/composer, with 35 guys on the Union Clock.  And side by side…you are hard pressed to know the difference, except that the rest of the guys at “Bleeding Fingers” can also do “young, hip, cool,” if they choose.

Technology is a beast. But, like the dragons in “Game of Thrones,” once you tame the beast, it is powerful beyond words. As I have recounted here, almost all of the music I did for the “Claymation Christmas Celebration” back in 1987, was done on some of the latest keyboard and emulators, using the very first MIDI and SMPTE controllers invented.

And yes…I stole the gig from another group, who played live…and hired loads of musicians.

When the orchestra played the music for the “Walrus Dance” in the special…it was me…and a set of keyboards…locked up to the video…so I could use the woodblock emulator in the Ensoniq sampler (which used the new 3.5″ floppy drives to swap media to my blazingly fast and  new IBM 286) to place the notes exactly.  I did it in my studio, in the woods, at a pay scale that was a couple of zeros less than a 35 piece orchestra.

This is  copy of one of the original “Ani-Matix” that they would send me to do the preliminary score, for them to animate to. Then, I’d go back and redo the music, to exact time frames, using SMTP to lock up the film to the music. No orchestra required. 

Things change. Sorry, Alf. But your way, just isn’t THE way anymore for TV. FOX needs all of the cash they can gather to pay the over-priced voice actors.
And yes…I have changed my position since I first wrote about Clausen’s firing. It was a sucky thing to do. But, was it illegal? Nope.

And speaking of sucky…while the writers seem to be back working overtime, there is little doubt that the “new format” is going to be  a variation on an expanded “Mini Update” that follows the same track…every update.  AND, THEY STILL HAVEN’T RAISED THE FREAKIN’ ITEM LIMITS!!!  Loads of new buildings…and every time I want to place one, I have to whack a tree, or a flower, or some waterworks.  I feel like a developer in post-War East Berlin. No flowers…no trees…just loads of concrete.

Where are the good old days, when you had stuff to chase…or things that chased you, or horrible little beasties that messed with your town (and no I’m not talking about taggers).

I was reminded of the “Good Old Days” of TSTO this week, when my “very good, very smooth (except for  the Jackhammer part) remodeling project took a turn into the macabre.

I was quite pleased with myself…having overcome the horrors of the cemented-in sewer lines and supply lines for the new shower…and cruising through the shower insert installation…

I was doing a bit of patch work on the back corner ceiling, in a closet….when…

But, before I go on, what you need to know, is that our house is sub-terrainian…with most of the lower level buried into a hillside. We see the occasional bug, or ant once in a while…usually a random scout.  So, I was not prepared when my hammer pierced the sheet-rock…and a couple of carpenter ants fell onto my head.

Then 5…then 10…and as I pulled back the sheet-rock…hundreds an hundreds.

I’d like to say I didn’t shriek like a little girl…but instead, let loose with a howl of new epithets with words not yet invented for the combination of disgust, horror, and anger that overwhelmed me.

Yep. You guessed it. The genius contractors had taken yet another shortcut, and just let the vapor barrier and concrete wall fall a tad short of complete in that far corner…near the dirt. Hey…it’s just a closet…who’s gonna know?

ME!!!!!!! DAMMIT!!  And the ants…that just kept coming and coming…to rid themselves of the intruder.

And yes…those little sumbiches bite hard, if they get a piece of you in their mandibles.

I kilt ’em.  Hundreds. With no remorse. THEY were the intruders. They were encroaching on my homeland (with an invitation from the lazyass contractor).  They had to go. And they did.

Now, I could go into a huge dissertation about current events…and getting rid of pests that are bad for you. But, I’m too damn tired.  I have 3 days to button up the project…including sheet-rocking, installing the vanity, and putting in new floors. Deb has her surgery Monday…so it has to be done…ants or no.

I’m sorry for Alf. But, he did well.  I’m actually kinda sorry for the ants…it wasn’t their fault they had a nice place to make a home that mostly wasn’t bothering anyone, until it was.  And I’m very sorry we seem to have a game that is stuck in “repeat the same motions”…much like congress on gun violence.  And, to be honest…I’m sorry I wrote that last line.  But, you knew it was just under the surface, after this week.

Keep on tappin’…. I’ll keep pounding, and painting, and flooring!

19 responses to “Friday Filler – How Old Is Too Old to Be Creative?

  1. You had a 2.5″ drive on your 286??? You must have been rich.

  2. Thanks all for your comments, feedback, stories and more. Always wonderful reading at the end of a long week. My sincerest best to a speedy recovery for Deb. Ants were our playthings growing up- with a magnifying glass or just a plain ol’ bic lighter…. ah their revenge not sweet! Tragic? Deathly in the movies but to a can of raid they are helpless alas”

  3. On going problem with kindle fire. More people complaining with this last event. Is this the beginning of the end?



  4. Hope all goes well with your wife’s surgery and she has a swift recovery. Will she be able to start the new school yr.?
    Sorry if this post is too long but I don’t have anything to do this morning and thought I’d share a story and give DIY guidance on killing carpenter ants a safe way.
    Carpenter ants are awful and bullies….esp. in your house. A few yrs. back I go into my bathroom and see a few of the creatures in the windowsill and on the wall by the window. I thought they were just a few random guys who came in from outside. Squished them and went on my way. Next time I enter the room, there are more and now they are covering more ground and I know I have a problem. Did some googling, found out a few things. The ones I saw were probably scouts and going back to the queen to report their findings. I don’t know what they found that could be so enticing in a bathroom but the queen must have been happy because every hour more and more would show up. I then went outside to see if I could find a line of shoulders marching their way from ground to window….. nothing! Which, in my mind, they were coming up from the basement. Well, my basement is reserved for laundry use only these days ever since it flooded a few yrs back after torrential rains and all my furniture was saturated and other things floating. ( I had it set up like a second living room and game room.). Today, it’s a damp and dark eerie place I hate to go. The basement is about 1,000 sq ft. with very high ceilings. I took my not so bright flashlight and explored but found nothing. Back to google. I found a recipe that guaranteed death to the soldiers and their queen. Off to the pharmacy to get boric acid, empty pill bottles.and cotton balls. At home made a solution of acid, sugar and water, soaked the cotton in the solution, made small holes in the top of the pill bottles, placed the cotton in the bottles and put the tops on. Some holes were very small so ants couldn’t get out of the bottles after feeding. Some were larger so ants could get back out and report their sweet findings and give a taste to the queen…..and eventually kill her. The next day I had trapped quite a few and saw less just wondering around. By the third day they were all gone and I haven’t seen one since. This was much better then having a professional come out and either tell me, for several hundreds of dollars or more, I needed to tear out walls and use pesticides. For a couple bucks I solved the problem………thanks, google!
    How did you kill a whole colony of ants? BTW, I had only a small amount of remorse for the takedown of the army.

  5. I’m on Alf Clausen’s side, except I feel Fox (flush with cash from Team Disney Burbank) should just settle this out of court and pay the man! I get how bean counters have sucked the Union out of Productions (TV and Film) – which is why the Beverly Hills 90210 reboot isn’t filmed in Los Angeles, it’s filmed in Canada (Pro Union here, anti bean counter kinda guy!) I have nothing negative to say about Hans Zimmer (he’s featured on my favorite album by The Damned – the Black Album (1980) & his Music Production Company, and yeah the voice actors are getting paid (they deserve it) while everyone else is enjoying the profits.

    I am sorry to read / see your immediate frustration with home remodeling \ making home improvements (here’s a good example of how I feel for you – I bought a Condo and like many in my community found numerous building code violations that took a nine-year legal battle for the developer to pay up on and fix the poor subcontractor work …. I had time on my hands, you have very little time and that’s not fair to you and your household!)

    I’m enjoying this Event, for what it is …. knowing there will be content (Event Prizes) most Tappers will appreciate. I agree that the “item limits” are stupid (so is that large vacant space adjacent to Springfield Heights!) and zero reasons why we have variants of existing Characters that are not voiced (when EA can just reuse existing dialogue).

    I will be done with Act 1 / Week 1 on Monday (I wish your wife Deb a speedy recovery from surgery) while taking weekends off from TSTO. Thank you chocolate baby covered Jeebus, for not giving me any game lag / game glitches!

    • Yep… spent about four hours yesterday retiring lights in the bathroom…that had NO GROUNDINGZ…which Infound out with a shock to the ear while standing on a ladder.

  6. Ants are an amazing insect. Unless they are in your house lol

    The out number anything living on Earth by Millions. Everywhere except Antarctica

    The biggest ant colony recorded was 3,700-miles wide. That’s the size of small states.

    It’s argued the weight of all the ants on earth outweighed all the humans on earth. Until the late 18th century.

    HAIL ANTS sign lol

  7. Rusty Shackleford

    Wow Patric, you had quite a week. There is a lot to process here so I will just offer some random thoughts: Digital technology has changed everything, it really is a game changer. My cousin is a union musician in LA, he has even done some work on the Simpsons and he hangs out with Seth McFarland. The union has been good to him. But the days of showing up, laying down some tracks and then hitting the golf course are long gone, and those days aren’t coming back.

    Said in a Grampa Simpson voice: in my day we had analog, it wasn’t just 1’s and 0’s like you lazy kids have today. Our output signals could take on a continuum of values. We didn’t write no sissy software to take out that turntable rumble, we’d wind inductors and use capacitors to filter that crap out. Then came the active filters using op amps, we would head on down to the Radio Shack and pick up a couple, plus the nine volt battery I earned from being in the Battery of the Month club. Boy did they have sound systems back then, faux wood grain finishes, heavy turntables with a strobe for calibration. Which brings me to my point, we didn’t have 1’s and 0’s, those analog signals were tough. We had this rhyme for the resistor color code, it went something like ….oh all I remember is that Violet gave willingly. Oh Vi, you were so hot…which reminds me of another story….

  8. P.s, I hope everything’s goes well with your wife’s surgery too man. 👍🏼

  9. Good stuff Patric, another good read while I eat my breakfast here in Victoria, Australia on a Saturday morning! I look forward to it every week.

  10. Did some work for Ensoniq back in the day. They were about 30-40 minutes from where I live (depending on traffic). One of the fruits of my bounty was the Ensoniq Soundscape, a truly amazing innovation in sound cards for the PC. Any game that targeted the card had immersive music and sound the likes of which you hadn’t heard in the days of the 386/486 machines.

    Was very similar to the technology they used in their samplers. The output from the samplers was amazing, especially stuff like the pipe organ, various types of pianos, strings, and brass.

    Took me back 30+ years there…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah those Ensoniq cards were top notch. I had one in one of my desktops. I remember keeping that card when I built my next PC.

      In one way I am glad I got to live through the digital revolution. So much of the theory I learned in college (and thought I would never use) is now everywhere and I helped bring some of this to life. But then I see all the crap being carried over this cool technology, and I see people with their faces buried in phones, and so my feelings are mixed.

      I admit to being a hypocrite as my current day job involves design/deployment of 5G networks.

      • I loved being on the bleeding edge of technology… Some of the earliest things we had were brand new and changed movie production and music production forever. Pretty exciting stuff… My entire huge studio was surpassed a few years ago by digital tools on my laptop. I still have loads of analog gear that I use for processing into the laptop, but one of my vintage mics alone costs more than the entire software and interface … Crazy

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I saved one of my favorite ham radio microphones, an Astatic desk microphone, made right here in Ohio.

          • Vintage mics are soo cool. I din’t Have anything like that. I was shocked however, when I went to get a diaphragm replacement for my AKG 414 B. Replacing the diaphragm literally costs twice what the studio program I use costs. There’s nothing like the sound of an AKG 414 though… Had to do it.

            No wonder people are making a mint on old gear. The new diaphragm mics just don’ have the presence.

  11. I remember when my daughter was being potty trained (shhhh don’t tell her im discussing it)…poor kid was sitting there all good and patient. We have lovely old sea-green 70s tiles in there. Still do. 1 was kinda loose. Why it chose that precise moment to fall to her feet is beyond me. Well…..behind that tile was the biggest swarm of carpenter ants i had ever seen. Needless to say potty training was set back a while. Stupid ants.🐜🐜🐜🐜 Stupid faulty 70s tiles. Lol
    Hope surgery goes smoothly Mon! Positive vibes…..swish!

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