Category Archives: Alan Cross

The End Of Itunes???

This is a post about something I read on another blog, written by someone whom I respect and who’s opinion I listen to. For some time, there have been roomers about the iTunes Store being shut down, in favour of Apple Music and other streaming sites. This is not a good step forward for a number of reasons. Before I get into them, I want to try and give you their own perspective on why they want to discontinue the store.

They see this as a way to direct consumers to no longer purchase music but stream it instead, through Apple Music and as their way, of allowing you to get more for less money. They also feel that people are buying iPhones more these days and now that the iPod touch is on the way out, why not get rid of this pesky store. Also, they probably had this plan in place a while ago but, we won’t know about the real endgame until it’s too late, like when the store is no longer active.

I disagree with the shut down for a number of reasons:

We should be paying for songs and albums we purchase because paying for streaming doesn’t offset the cost of studio time and the hours spent, working on the songs. It doesn’t matter if it is in the Brill Building or whether it is in a crappy motel on the road. These songs don’t just come out fully formed and recording them can be equally time consuming. Think of all the overdubs and multiple takes a song goes through, before the final version is mixed and released to the unsuspecting public. Streaming doesn’t pay for all of that sweat and patients and time the artist takes to write and record an album, no matter who gets money from it. So, paying for downloads is the right thing to do and not for streaming services. Yes, it is convenient to download as many songs as you want at any time but, think about the artist and what he, or she, has gone through to make this music for you to own and listen to, on the radio or in your music collection.

Unlike streaming services, you can actually keep what you download from iTunes forever. You can delete songs and albums from your library but, you can get them back from your hidden purchases. Right? It’s not hard to do, if you take the time to go into the iTunes store and into your account. With Apple Music, you can get songs and if you don’t want them anymore, you can throw them away, like garbage. What does that say to an artist who has spent all the hours, months,years, recording a bunch of songs for you? This devalues the music and is a slap in the face to the writer and performer! I will give you part of an email I sent to the author of the post, which inspired me to continue this subject. This will repeat a lot of what I said here but, it is worth it.

With music we can stream, we can get it and discarded like garbage but with purchased music, we can get it and keep it forever to use when we see fit. with streaming sites like Apple Music and others, this devalues the music as opposed to those of us, who prefer to own our music. Don’t people consider the hours of work it took to record the songs that we hear on the radio and elsewhere?

I agree that the convenience of being able to download as many songs as you want without purchasing them is great but that doesn’t make up the cost in time at the artist took to write and record the songs that we hear every day. Not to mention the studio time and money spent with this work, by big name artists and even small artists who are cutting their teeth to get to a level equivalent to Taylor Swift or Adele, or even Linkin Park. I dread the day that iTunes shuts down because of all the money spent in writing and recording the songs being wasted, on streaming music. Is it another sign that album sales don’t matter anymore? Also, we won’t be able to purchase TV shows and movies anymore, to watch and to keep them. It is nice to walk around with your favourite movie or TV show in your pocket, which you have purchased and can watch again and again. With iTunes going down, we can’t do that anymore and there is another thing to consider, we are using data to stream music, TV shows and movies. With stuff you’ve purchased, you don’t have to use more data than you need, in order to hear or watch it. Yes, there is an off-line option but it is only available if you have paid for the privilege of streaming music then, you can use it.

Unfortunately, Apple does what they want without consulting the consumer first and they only apologized for slowing down iPhones with software updates, because it would be bad for business if they hadn’t spoken up. However, at least some of us are trying to express our opinions, such as the author of the original post, myself and hopefully other bloggers. If enough of us speak up, then people will listen to us and see that this could be a dumb move going forward. Here is the original post, which inspired my email and this entry.


Happy Belated Birthday

Hi friends. It’s better late than never to wish a happy belated b-day to Trent Reznor, who basically is Nine Inch Nails. He has been one of my favourite artists since 1994. He showed me that electronic music doesn’t have to be all bouncy drip, drip, drip. You can make it harder by distorting vocals and other sounds can be added, like the electric guitar.
I first heard Nine Inch Nails during a radio spot for a show with them on a bill with Soundgarden and Marilyn Manson. The first snippets of songs I heard was from March Of The Pigs and Head Like A Hole, highlighting the heavier parts of both songs. I went out and bought The Downward Spiral in December of that year and apart from the music, the packaging made me stand up and take notice. It was packaged in a Jewel case fit for a CD single, with the booklet in a cardboard package. Everything else I had bought, with the exception of Pretty Hate Machine, Further Down The Spiral and Things Falling Apart were packaged in anything but a Jewel case.
Now, the music is something else to talk about altogether. I mentioned earlier that he has added distorted vocals to the mix but he has used distortion in general as a creative tool, to enhance the mood of The music. He has even used instruments that wouldn’t be normally heard on a Nine Inch Nails album like: slide guitar and strings. The Great Below, which appears on the 1999 album The Fragile is interesting in that the singing is still Trent’s usual style but it is more melodic and the instrumentation reflects it.
When he writes instrumentals he likes to use out of tune melodies and notes, probably to enhance the mood of the music or for his own, or the listeners amusement. The all instrumental album Ghosts I-IV has loads of examples of this. It drives me crazy to hear that but I can let it go with Trent because if you think about it, it does add a rather strange element to the song, not to mention a peculiar dissonance to it. 
As a singer, Trent can sing a decent pop song if he wants but he doesn’t have to and he doesn’t. The closest he has come so far to singing normally is the song Find My Way from his 2013 album Hesitation Marks. He even goes into an almost bluesy vocal at times, which doesn’t bother me at all. I grew up on classic rock and Trent has covered such bands as Garry Newman and  Queen and sampled Queen a couple of times.
Speaking of sampling, I don’t hear that many obvious samples in Nine Inch Nails music, with the exception of the funky drum sample used in Perfect Drug, in the form of the Amen Break and his remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans by David Bowie. The only other obvious samples I can hear are from David Bowie in two remixes for Mr. Self Distruct and at the end of a remix of Head Like A Whole, where he samples Body Language by Queen. Oh, he even covers Get Down Make Love by Queen too, in a style more in step with where Nine Inch Nails was going musically. He even sampled both the song itself and the ending guitar of We Will Rock You at the end of the song, which I thought was kinda cool.
As for the remixes and remix albums he has released, I don’t have any problem with them. I’m actually more interested in remixes he has done for other artists. I have 2 from David Bowie: I’m Afraid Of Americans (NIN V.1 Mix) and The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Trent Reznor Alternative Mix). I like the remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans better than the original and the remix of The Hearts Filthy Lesson brings out more of the vocals in spots. If you know the song, you know what I’m talking about. You can find the original and the remix on David Bowie’s 1. Outside (Expanded Adition). You can find the original and remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans on the expanded Adition of David Bowie’s Earthling album and also on the iTunes version of the album, as a bonus track. However it isn’t listed as such on the normal Adition of the album.
As for his production credits, I haven’t actually bought that many of the albums he has produced over the years. The one that stands out for me, despite not being a big cellar and remembered by many people is the album by Two called Voyeurs with former Judas Priest and Fight vocalist at the time Rob Halford was pretty cool too. It’s a shame that it didn’t do as well as it should have but unfortunately, it didn’t have any Classic Halford operatic high-pitched vocals on it and the vocal style and dialect was unlike what Rob Halford would use normally. He actually stayed for the most part in a baritone range.  That may have been both the band and albums Achilles’ heel but I thought it was coo, bringing both the Trent Reznor production, together with the classic voice of Rob Halford. I think it should be rereleased on iTunes worldwide, just because. 
My favourite albums by Nine Inch Nails are a bit hard to pin down because they all have their moments of glory for me. However, if I had to pick 3 I would have to pick: Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, with honourable mention going to Year 0. I would have loved to have listed Broken as an album but it is only an EP but is still great in its own right.
As for books on Nine Inch Nails, my favourite and only comprehensive look at the band and Trent Reznor outside of Wikipedia  is done by Canadian radio host  Alan Cross. Just look up either Alan Cross or Nine Inch Nails on iTunes and you may find the audiobook. I learned more about Trent than I ever did with Wikipedia or hearing about Nine Inch Nails on the radio.
Well, that’s all I can say about Trent Reznor at the moment. For my Simpsons fans, check out my new Simpsons blog Simpsons Sunday at and I did mention Trent last year during one of my Simpsons Sunday posts in this blog too. In fact, I published it when Trent turned 50.
Anyway, I hope that Trent had a great birthday on Tuesday and the wife and kids are doing great too.

Lisa The Vegetarian… Veterinarian

Hi folks and welcome to another Simpsons Sunday. This week we have lost a key figure in the music industry, in the form of George Martin. He of course, produced The Beatles and many of their contemporaries, both managed by Brian Epstein and also bands like America and Cheap Trick. Without him, we wouldn’t have many of the vocal affects we hear today in many rock and pop songs, minus autotune. I can’t imagine John Lennon saying to George Martin “please make my voice auto tuned.” Hmm! Then again, maybe. He of course, hated his voice and always wanted affects put on it and well, George and his fellow engineers obliged. Need I say more?

Oh, let us not forget his importance in his producing comedy records too. For example: he produced some records by The Goons, which all 4 Beatles listened to on the radio, just like I listen to The Ongoing History Of New Music religiously each weeke. This inspired some college kids in England to form Monty Python, which inspired many other people to create similar comedy troupe and TV shows. This includes Matt Groening and even Matt Stone and Tray Parker, who created The Simpsons and South Park respectively. Without George Martin, would comedy be very different? I think so and to make what I just said more meaningful to you, check out this link for more. Thanks to Alan Cross for the following link.
He will be missed by millions of people in both music and comedy.

We also lost another important figure in music this week. If you are a fan of what is called either progressive rock or art rock, Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer died on Thursday. He was 71 years old and played keyboards in the band. He loved to use any keyboards with him at the time, to create interesting sounds. Just listen to a few ELP songs and you will know what I’m talking about. He will be missed by all in rock, and in particular, fans of classic rock.

I am looking forward to this weeks episode and as for last weeks episode, this weeks post will talk about the Parallels with it and the season seven episode Lisa The Vegetarian.

First of all, in the earlier episode the main part of the story takes place at a petting zoo, where Lisa is haunted by a talking lamb in her mind, telling her not to eat him. This of course, helps her make a decision to go vegetarian. In the latter, the main story starts at a water park where Lisa saves a raccoon, after bark pulled one of his pranks.

In the former, Lisa has a conflict with her Dad, about a barbecue which has only meat which he is throwing. He of course Rex it and Homer is understandably pissed. Lisa runs away from home and ends up with Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart and meets Paul and Linda McCartney. This is also where we find out that Apu is a vegan. Of course, Lisa has one of his veggie dogs instead of regular hot dog, for us meat eaters. I’ve tried tofu but I’ve never had a veggie burger or veggie dog yet. However, I bet you that I can tell which is which from a veggie or a regular meat dog.

In the latter, Lisa becomes an intern at a veterinary hospital, with guest actor Michael York as Dr. Budgie and he becomes her mentor. Lisa becomes very good at what she is doing, meaning helping animals get well but she also becomes arrogant too. I should also mention that she was supposed to be taking care the school hamster Nibbles. Unfortunately, Nibbles dies because of her neglect and focus on being a veterinarian. However, Dr. Budgie still is proud of her.

It’s funny that both Paul McCartney and Michael York are both born in 1942 and guested on an episode focusing on Lisa And her love of animals. I had been planning to write this post even before it aired, simply because of the title and the similar title of the previously mentioned episode from Season seven. The difference here is that Marge also has her own story, where she cleans up crime scene’s for Chief Wiggum. When she hears about what Lisa has done, she goes to clean up her baby’s tears. Also, Bart tries to get some sense into Lisa, after she starts to be rather arrogant in her helping of other animals. However, she doesn’t listen and that’s when Bart mentions the hamster Nibbles. Then, that’s when reality hits Lisa that he is on the verge of death and passes away.

I liked the episode and I am looking forward to tonights episode. That should be interesting and a Marge centric episode too.

On the birthday front, happy 69th birthday to voice actor Frank Welker. He of course, voices many characters outside The Simpsons and voiced Santa’s Little Helper and other animal noises until 2006. Now, Dan Castellaneta does the animal sounds or sound affects are used.

Well that’s about it for this weeks post. Check out Chris Ladesma’s blog. He is the Music Editor for The Simpsons and has been since day 1.
Also, check out Yeardley Smith’s blog at
Don’t forget about Marchez Vous, which is her women’s shoe designer company, which she started earlier in the decade. You can check out their website at
Additionally, for more news on The Simpsons, you can go to
You can also comment here or you can email me at and I will reply as soon as I can to all messages I receive. If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook you can comment directly to me that way too.
You can follow Simpsons Executive Producer Al Jean on Twitter and his Twitter handle is @AlJean.
He has ran the show since Season 13 and has ran it during Seasons 3 and 4.
Anyway, that is it for this weeks post. Talk to you again next Sunday

Teenage Mutant Milk Causing Hurdles

Hi folks and welcome to another Simpsons Sunday. Well I hate to begin this weeks post on a downer but I just can’t not talk about the passing of David Bowie. He was born David Robert Jones on January 8th 1947 and he died on Sunday night at the age of 69. He was a rock icon and he continually reinvented himself over his long career, both musically and visually. For example: he was both the thin white duke and Ziggy Stardust musically and visually, among other guises. He also branched out into electronic music and this includes a track with Trent Resnor from Nine Inch Nails called I’m Afraid Of Americans. He even worked with Bing Crosby on their cover of Little Drummer Boy and Peace On Earth, from one of dear Bingo’s last tellivision specials. He even recorded a novelty song called The Laughing Gnome, which was of great detriment to his career at the time of its release and became an embarrassment later on, when it charted after he became popular in the 70s. If you would like to hear it, it’s available on iTunes on his first album and on The Deram Anthology. I also recommend The Alan Cross Guide To Alternative Rock and you can also find it on iTunes or the David Bowie chapter as a standalone audiobook. You can also read up on him using Wikipedia too as well and there are probably other books about him out there too.

As for The Simpsons, his music has been used and he had been referenced a number of times. On the episode Homer The Whopper, Homer trained to the song Hero’s. In the episode The Musk who Fell To Earth the track Starman plays at the end of the episode. There are more but I’ll leave that to you to look up elsewhere on the internet.

I can’t think of anyone who has influenced more people besides The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Metallica. David Bowie has been a major influence on many genres of contemporary music from glam rock to alternative sub-genres like punk, goth, industrial, post-punk and every alternative sub-genre from the 1970s onward. You can drop the name of any band who has been labeled alternative rock and you can be sure that David Bowie has had some sort of influence on them. In fact, we wouldn’t have if there were no David Bowie there would be no Madonna or Lady GaGa. You could say the same for all alternative rock bands you can think of and let us not forget his work as an actor. Remember The Man Who Fell To Earth? Elephant Man and other movies he has had a roll in. He even played with Queen on the 1981 single Under Pressure and has played it during some of his own tours. This guy has done a lot and hopefully his buddy Iggy Pop will be around for a few more years. Yes, David played on the signature Iggy song Lust For Life and in his backing band. He even produced some of his albums including Blah Blah Blah, with the single Real Wild Child. I’m sure that where ever he is, he is entertaining everyone and having a great time, wheather he is waring a dress or whatever.

Another unfortunate death in the entertainment Industry this week is Alan Rickman, who is best known for his role in the Harry Potter movies. I wasn’t much into Harry Potter myself but the death is nonetheless significant. RIP To both David Bowie and Alan Rickman.

This weeks post is all about the most recent episode Teenage Mutant Milk Caused-Herdles and its plot. First of all, Miss Carol Bererra is Bart’s classes new teacher who is voiced by Sofía Vergara. I had actually never heard of her, until this episode was announced last summer! She is a retired Air Force Sargent and Bart thinks she is cute. He tries to be himself but he acts different toward her than he does to any other staff member of the school. She insists on helping him with learning, by tootering him on Tuesday afternoons after class and he agrees.

Meanwhile, Homer gets some milk at the Kwik-E-Mart, which Apu cells him after showing him a video. The milk turns out to have hormones in it which makes Bart and Lisa experience early puberty, with Bart growing a mustash and Lisa having “problem skin”, which Marge decides to help her cover up with makeup.

At School, Bart finds out that Principal Skinner also has a crush on Miss Bererra and Bart wants to ruin it by putting a firecracker up his but. However, she meets Seymour’s Mother and she dumps him. Oh, and Homer gets a refund on the milk after him and Marge discover that it was the reason for the changes in Bart and Lisa.

I hope that Miss Bererra doesn’t become another one time character in the long list of them. I think that Bart should have at least one person in athority whom Bart can look up to and have some sort of non combative relationship with. The fact that she is more forgiving than Mrs. Krabappel was and is a good thing. If she stays she can drive the point home that Bart isn’t just about being a mischievous prankster and can have a soft spot for someone in athority. We will see if she continues to play a significant roll in Bart’s life from here on in.

One more thing about the episode I liked was that Bart was actually nice to Seymour at the end, after he was dumped. It once again shows that Bart does have some degree of respect for him, despite terrorizing him and other staff any chance he gets. However I don’t think they will become friends as such again, like they were in the Season 5 episode Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song, unless he is permanently fired and I don’t see that happening again any time soon. If it did the rivalry between the two would be over and it would change the whole reason for Bart behaving like he does at the school.

Well that’s about it for this weeks post. Check out Chris Ladesma’s blog. He is the Music Editor for The Simpsons and has been since day 1.
Also, check out Yeardley Smith’s blog at
Don’t forget about Marchez Vous, which is her women’s shoe designer company, which she started earlier in the decade. You can check out their website at
Additionally, for more news on The Simpsons, you can go to
You can also comment here or you can email me at and I will reply as soon as I can to all messages I receive. If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook you can comment directly to me that way too.
You can follow Simpsons Executive Producer Al Jean on Twitter and his Twitter handle is @AlJean.
He has ran the show since Season 13 and has ran it during Seasons 3 and 4.
Anyway, that is it for this weeks post. Talk to you again next Sunday

Annual Blog Review For 2015

Hi folks. This is the annual blog review, for 2015. This year I have continued my Simpsons Sunday posts and the Weather Wednesday posts have also continued, until recently. This is because I haven’t had much to write about on this topic.

In my Simpsons posts I have discussed recent episodes that have aired at the time. Another thing I have continued to do is talk about characters within episodes. One of them is Kevin, who is a blind boy who appeared in the Season 21 episode Stealing First Base. I like how the writers have been respectful to the blind community as they could, but also playing up that this is a comedy. One thing I don’t understand is why the entertainment industry feels the need to have blind people touch the face, in order to recognize people. I don’t blame anyone from The Simpsons for this though. I highlight this because I am also blind from birth.

. Something else I have mentioned throughout this year and once last year was the stories written by fans, based on The Simpsons. I have read a few complete and partial stories this year and I must admit, the fans have a great imagination. Some have even created their own characters and used existing stories from episodes as a basis for their own story. One story involves Lisa and Nelson becoming a couple again, while Bart finds a new girlfriend. No, it’s not any of the girls we know of and it’s a new character created by the author.

I have even found some Sideshow Bob based episodes in which he wishes to make amends with Bart and in one episode, Bart dies from illness. If you would like the links to them, just let me know and I’ll send you the links.

I have even dabbled in some writing in the past couple of years too and my stories are based on blindness. One has Homer going blind because of a work related accident and Bart just goes blind out of the blue. They are their own plots and I haven’t completed either one of them yet but hope to at some point. I am using existing characters in my stories except for my Krusty one, where I create a character based on me. It involves Krusty’s father and was written before he was killed off in 2014. I may change it but I’m not sure yet. I’m not really sure if I will include the stories in the blog but I’ll have to think about it. Oh, my Krusty story does not mention blindness but involves Krusty retiring, again.

I can’t forget about the people who have also been a part of the history of The Simpsons from 1989 to present day, who have passed away this year. In particular, Sam Simon in March and Alex Rocco in July. I have written posts acknowledging the passing of both these two men and their contributions to the show. If you’d like to read them, check out the archives for either March or July.

Another thing I have also done is commented on recent events such as iOS 9 and new album reviews. I have published 2 such reviews this year on new albums by Disturbed and Queen. Thankfully the Disturbed album debuted at No. 1 as I had hoped. Another previous album I reviewed .5: The Gray Chapter by Slipknot also debuted at the top spot on the album charts. I wish I could take credit for this but I don’t have proof that my post had any impact on this.

I have also been writing about things such as: how the new music release day has changed from Tuesday to Friday. I think it is a win win for everyone, if everyone cooporates with each other. This post did not appear in this blog and was a guest post in another blog by Alan Cross. Here is the link to it.

If you have followed Alan on Twitter, you will have noticed that my 2 previous album reviews I mentioned earlier have also appeared in the blog as links to this one.

Another thing I have continued to do from time to time, is write about random things that have been on my mind. One such point of discussion was my dream about the school bus. I have yet to ride on one and well, hopefully I get to soon.

This year I took a further dip into the iTunes waters and besides the bands and albums I have reviewed in the past 2 years of the blog, I have managed to collect the entire essential albums from The Beatles. I have some other albums to purchase and I will have all the songs.

My favourite period of their Development is from 1966 onward and especially The Beatles (White Album) and Abbey Road. Don’t get me started on Let It Be, because I don’t like it except for a few songs And moments.

As for 2016, the blog will continue as long as I can write and for as long as I have idea’s coming out of me, about things that interest me. In writing about those things I insert points about my own life that go along with what I am discussing. It’s not that I don’t want to write about my life both past and present… I feel it may come off as I am complaining about how things have gone for me and how they are now. Actually, I have things to say about my life course that aren’t exactly flattering to people involved, in some cases and in others I have a great deal of gratitude for what they have done for me.

I would like to thank everyone who has followed me through the blog and also on Twitter and Facebook throughout the year. I haven’t been Tweeting much lately because of having to watch my data for this month. I will hopefully be back tweeting and retweeting and posting again in 2016. I also hope to have my Weather Wednesday posts return to the blog. It’s just been so quiet on the weather front that I have had nothing really to write about, without repeating myself. I like sameness but I also know that there is a need to move forward and I wouldn’t want to be writing the same post over and over again.

Anyway, this has been a great year for me and hopefully 2016 will be even better for all of us, no matter where we are in the world and in our lives.