The other day, the Washington Post postulated (pardon the redundancy) a lengthy missive dramatically titled Why My Guitar Gently Weeps: The slow, secret death of the six-string electric. And why you should care. Sales are down! Workers laid off! Stores in trouble! Only baby boomers still buy guitars! Chicken Little running around yelling “the Stratocaster is falling!” Etc etc etc ad tedium.

Despite its obligatory embarrassing factual gaffs (no, Mr. Democracy Dies In Darkness dunderhead, the Gibson automatic tuner isn’t an available add-on; it’s standard on their high end models), the article is occasionally almost correct. It’s hardly a trade secret that right now popular music is in the doldrums. Somehow, it manages to be both omnipresent and irrelevant. Joe Walsh says it best:

At the present time, this generation’s edition of pop is machine music minus humanity. It is programmed, precise, perfect, and utterly void of heart or soul. Hip-hop’s endless drone of endlessly repeated beats and loops is as boring as rappers forever proclaiming their greatness is banal. Music today is Gertrude Stein’s Oakland. There’s no there there.

These things are accepted because, sadly, their target audience doesn’t know any better. The current generation, and to a degree its predecessor, has limited if any exposure to true artistic, songwriting, and instrumental proficiency. Like every generation before, the current crop wants its own entertainment icons. They have no idea they’re being fed Cheez Whiz while being told it’s caviar. The concept of a concert being the forum for actual live music is foreign to them. It is perfectly acceptable to exchange big bucks for two or so hours of dance moves, costume changes, and popping out of trap doors, all set to a prerecorded soundtrack. Every note lip synced? Who cares! She’s my idol! SQUEEE!

Nevertheless, all is not lost. Music trends come and go; it is not beyond reason to expect the next genuine, rather than media made, music hero will be a lot more Beatles and a lot less Beyoncé. Country, even in its current popified form, remains guitar-driven, the hotter the solo the better. Gibson has rectified recent production year gaffes; the 2017 models are truly drool-worthy for guitar aficionados of all ages. (Speaking of Gibson, doubtless there is no connection whatsoever between it and its head Henry Juszkiewicz being the article’s chief target for slagging and how the Justice Department, during the Obama administration, targeted Gibson for illegally importing wood, this harassment including a dramatic raid with guns drawn on Gibson’s Nashville factory … only to have the confiscated alleged wood later sheepishly returned once it was proved the lumber was acquired lawfully, right? Er … right? Wait, what, Juszkiewicz is an outspoken conservative? Sheer coincidence!) And, unlike the article’s assertion, buying and playing guitar remains a pursuit for all ages. Evidence? Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your consideration Guitar Showcase in San José, California.

Guitar Showcase has been privately owned and run since the 1960s, boasting a veteran staff that knows their stuff regarding guitars and related items be they vintage and new. It’s long been my store of choice, the mysterious albeit not mythical Mrs. Dude having endured many a lengthy session of me trying various guitars and talking shop with the staff. (She levels the playing field by dragging me to and through the local scrapbook store, but that’s a story for another time.) Unlike a Guitar Center, home of the kids kranking it and not much else, Guitar Showcase is where the serious players shop.

Guitar Showcase’s clientele comes in an equal mix of two flavors: the, uh, seasoned people like me who always stop and look at something new Steve Miller has recently dropped off for consignment before getting on with things, or 18-25 year olds who are usually ridiculously good players. The store doesn’t have nearly a Guitar Center’s foot traffic, but enjoys a far higher percentage of buyers per customers. Introductory models, high flyers (Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters, Gibson Les Pauls and SGs, Martin or Taylor acoustics), and not the occasional high end vintage or new instrument all steadily march out the door. The bottom line is the store’s bottom line is not hurting. At. All. And there are a whole lot more boutique guitar shops across the land doing equally well.

So no, Washington Post, the electric guitar is not dying a slow death. Newspapers, on the other hand …

Summary:   Will Mars be the newest edition to the 19th Century British Empire or vice versa

Plot:  To the surprise of NASA the message “God Save the Queen” is discovered on the surface of Mars spelled in rocks.  The Doctor Bill and Nardole go to investigate and while the TARDIS decides to head back to Earth with Nardole on board the Doctor and Bill find a detachment of 19th Century red coated British infantry who accompanied an Ice Warrior back to Mars, the Brits are looking for wealth but the Martian is looking for his queen.  Will the both find what they are looking for and can they co-exist or will the first interplanetary war be between the armies of two Empresses?


Writing: The episode is a mixed bag, there are a lot of interesting twists but also a good supply of stereotypes, particularly concerning the soldiers of the British Empire. Yet the plot concerning the clash of empires works, and the Doctor Dilemma knowing what the future of both Mars and the Ice Warriors are is particularly interesting.  Furthermore we haven’t, at least on TV, seen much if any of female Ice Warriors which makes another interesting twist.  It was also a very Victorian ending.

Acting: The best job here belongs to  Adele Lynch’s Empress Iraxxa although her voice sounds a tad like the Queen of the Racnoss.  There is also Matt Lucas’ Nardole and Michele Gomez Missy who both do an excellent job.  Pearl Mackie is very credible and of course Capaldi is Capaldi.  I thought Ferdinand Kingsley but I suspect he was written that way.  The rest of the British foot soldiers are credible in their parts, stereotypical as they were.

Memorable Moments: Friendly aliens, Of course I can fix the TARDIS, Well you are victorian,  Surrounded by males

Doctor Who Flashbacks: Alpha Centuri of Peladon Fame (3rd Doctor Curse and Monster of Peladon) amazingly voiced by Ysanne Churchman at age 92 who last voiced the role back in 1974.  The portrait of Queen Victoria is the actress who played her opposite the 10th doctor (Tooth and Claw)

Oddities: The weapon that ties the men into knots seems kind of cool but very impractical.   Also I’m pretty sure I remember Nardole being able to fly the TARDIS.

Pet Peeves: I would think that once the first shot bounces off the Martian Armor someone might have thought of aiming at the exposed face and throat?

Great Quote(s) via transcripts

Godscare: Don’t move. I’ll sort this beggar out.
The Doctor:   No, no, no, no! You don’t understand. This creature is no threat. He may look like a monster to you
Godscare: I wasn’t talking to you.


Bill:  What, you can deal with big green Martians and, and, and rocket ships, but you can’t deal with us being the police?
Godscare: No, no, no, no, no. It’s just such a fanciful notion. A woman in the police force.
Bill:   Listen, yeah? I’m going to make allowances for your Victorian attitudes because, well, you actually are Victorian.


Godscare: Your Majesty, I have a request, if that may be permitted.
Queen Iraxxa:  Speak!
Godscare: That man was not one of us. Please, do not judge mankind by his cruelty or indeed by my cowardice. Spare my friends and my world.
Queen Iraxxa: Your request does you credit, soldier. It will be considered.
Godscare: God save the Queen.
British Troops: God save the Queen!
Queen Iraxxa: You will die with honour, with bravery, and in the service of those you swore to protect.
Godscare:  Thank you. You don’t know what that means. Thank you.
Queen Iraxxa:  But not today. In battle, soldier. To die in battle is the way of the warrior. Pledge your allegiance to me and my world, and I will ensure you have the opportunity.
Godscare: My life and my service are yours. [kneels] To the end.
Queen Iraxxa: To the death, my friend. To the death.


Final Verdict: 4 1/2 stars another good episode

Ranking of Season: 3rd of 8  That makes 4 episodes in a row that were of the normal standard I would expect from the series as opposed to what we got at the start.  Let’s keep the trend going.

1st Extremis
2nd The Lie of the Land
3rd Empress of Mars
4th The Pyramid at the End of the World
5th Knock Knock
6th Oxygen
7th Thin Ice
8th Smile
9th The Pilot

Top 10 Ranking in the Capaldi Era: Doesn’t place but not by much likely 11th if I went that low

1st The Husbands of River Song
2nd. Last Christmas
3rd. The Caretaker
4th  Extremis
5th. The Return of Doctor Mysterio
6th. The Girl who Died
7th. The Witch’s Familiar
8th. Hell Bent
9th. Mummy on the Orient Express
10th. Face the Raven

Kate Stewart: (to Clara) The Black Archive. Highest security rating on the planet. The entire staff have their memories wiped at the end of every shift. Automated memory filters in the ceiling. Access, please.
Atkins: Ma’am.
Kate Stewart: Atkins, isn’t it?
Atkins: Yes, ma’am. First day here.
Kate Stewart: (whispering to Clara) Been here ten years.

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor 2013

There is a lot of fuss being made concerning the delay of the Senate Health Care bill until after the 4th of July recess, memeorandum today is full of such stories both attacking the bill and celebrating every problem it has.

What’s interesting about this is how familiar it all sounds.

After all wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that the House healthcare bill was pulled from the floor before a vote and the media and the entire never Trump world confidently predicting that it meant the doom of the Trump agenda, only to see a modified version of said bill pass just a few weeks later ending in a decisive victory for the President?

Watching the media confidently celebrating the delay in the Senate version of the bill you would think these things didn’t take place, that none of it was ever written about, that none of the video of every single panel confidently predicting failure for this administration that ended up being wrong ever existed.

There are plenty of reasons why the media is hated, but if they really want to understand why people don’t trust them, it’s because they take us for fools without the memory of what they told us just a few weeks before.

I find it quite insulting myself.

So let me lay it out there, the Senate Healthcare bill is going to pass.  It might take a week, it might take a month but it’s going to pass.

And when it does as the congress goes into conference committee to iron out the differences between the two bills I predict that we will be seeing the very same conversations that we’re seeing today, confidently predicting doom and gloom for their political foes rather than reporting news.

After all it produces better ratings.