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Saturday, January 11 2020

Neil Peart: See You Again Sometime Down the Road...

Edited, and likely to continue to be edited, to tweak phrasing and add more links to articles.

The news was so unexpected. I was waiting at home to pick my wife up from the Metro station and go to dinner, and just decided to peek at Facebook for repack news. I saw a post from Scott Fybush saying he wasn't sure why Q107 in Toronto hadn't gone all Rush. That could only be bad news. I went to RushIsABand as I often do, and there it was.

I don't know that I'm ready to live in a world without Neil Peart. I know that he was retired and we likely weren't going to hear more music from him, but it was enough to know that he was out there, hopefully enjoying life in his well-deserved retirement. Living in the same world as him was enough.

My wife doesn't really get my relationship to Rush, unfortunately. My father is a Rush fan. I probably heard Rush in the womb before I was born. Some of my earliest memories are of listening to Rush in the house in New Jersey before my family moved to Virginia when I was 6. My first concert was Rush. My dad had Rush pictures and lyrics from some of his favorite songs like "Witch Hunt" and "Bravado" on the wall in the house. I spent my college years listening to Rush on a loop, essentially. I turned "Xanadu" into a unit of time that was 12 minutes in length. (My first year of college, it took 1 and a half Xanadus to leave my dorm room, get to the dining hall to pick up food, and come back and continue working on RabbitEars.) I used to wear a Rush wristband every day, until my last one broke. Rush lyrics are at the bottom of most of the pages of this website and in the signature sections of most of my message board accounts. Rush has never not been there in one form or another.

I had always wanted to be a drummer because of Neil Peart and Rush. I never became one, but I still drum my fingers along to things, in the car or on my laptop's palm rest. But he wasn't just the drummer, he was the lyricist. And quite the lyricist he was. I knew the word "alienation" a lot younger than most people would because Neil used it in "Limelight." He was not afraid to use the right word, even if it was a bigger word than one might expect to find in rock music. He wasn't afraid to put deep messages into Rush's songs.

The fact of the matter is that I felt like Rush spoke about me at times. I never really cared what other people thought, and wouldn't be where I am if I had. So did they. After their Caress of Steel album was poorly received, they were told to make a more radio friendly album; they responded, instead, by releasing the 2112 album, which had the 20 minute long "2112" as the first track, having decided they would prefer to fail genuinely than cater to the preferences of the label. Their music was full of messages that resonated. My favorite song is "Witch Hunt," about how people can be so easily whipped up into a frenzy over things they don't understand, even when there's nothing inherently bad about those things. I love "Subdivisions," about how people feel they need to fit in and how hard it is for people who don't. As you read about them, you'll find so many others identify with songs like "Subdivisions" or "Everyday Glory" or many others.

But beyond that, they are good people. I'm currently reading my sister's Christmas gift to me, Rush: Wandering the Face of the Earth, The Official Touring History. There's so much commentary from so many about how nice they were to people around them. And, of course, you're seeing it now in the outpouring in social media. I've seen multiple postcards on Twitter from people who had written Neil, and Neil found the time to write them back. People who got through to the shy guy who had no problem performing before thousands but couldn't handle receiving a compliment spoke of a wonderfully kind and gracious person. I fully believe it.

And it's not just me who feels such affection for these guys that most of us have never met. If you really want a sense of it, go watch the video of the beginning of the ceremony for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was something that Rush fans pushed for many years, and even other bands wondered why Rush hadn't made it in yet.

When I heard the news, for as many people quoted songs like Tom Sawyer, Closer to the Heart, The Spirit of Radio, Afterimage (about the sudden loss of a friend the group worked with), or The Garden (the last song on the last album), the first song I personally wanted to hear was Natural Science. I thought it was an odd choice for the moment, but when I was finally able to listen to it, I made the choice to have the lyrics before me as I listened, and I decided my subconscious made the right call. From the end of the song:

"Wave after wave
Will flow with the tide
And bury the world as it does
Tide after tide
Will flow and recede
Leaving life to go on as it was..."

It will be okay.


Lawrence Gowan of Styx performed part of Limelight last night. It's beautiful.

Proposal for a statue at Lakeside Park
Editorial on the memorial
Tribute to Peart overdue says mayor

Selected reading:
Geddy Lee
Donna Halper
Chris Stankee
Lesley Choyce
Mike Goldberg
National Post
The Guardian
Buffalo News
LA Times
National Review
Mike Portnoy on Facebook
Mike Portnoy
Philip Wilding
Diogenes Communications
Stephen Humphries
The American Conservative
Las Vegas Review-Journal
John Ivison
The New Yorker
The Globe and Mail
Scott Blitstein
Rolling Stone
Toronto Sun
The Star
Kenny Aronoff
Scott Travis
Patrick Lyons
Alexander Kunz
ECW Press
Kevin J. Anderson on Facebook
Velvet Thunder
The Week
Styx' Todd Sucherman
Prince George Citizen
Washington Post
Houston Press
The Chronicle Herald
Matt Crossman
A Fox News Sports Report Script - YouTube
Triumph's Gil Moore
New York Times
Hudson Music
Eric Garcia
Global News - Winnipeg
Vinay Menon
Sonic Perspectives
Ultimate Classic Rock
Godsmack's Sully Erna
Ross Halfin
Marty Morin
The Music Express
Max Mobley
Sound and Vision
Herald Extra
The Post-Journal
Charleston Gazette-Mail
Buffalo Rising
A Journal of Musical Things
Doane Perry on Facebook - "This was always my first question when I saw him. “Any pain?” I asked. “No pain”, came the reply. "
Kevin J. Anderson Photo
Pop Matters
Cato Institute
Inside the Setlist
SPIN - 5 Most Powerful Song Lyrics - I actually agree with four of five.
Chicago Sun-Times
Melita Hoffman
Casey Neill
Andrew Berthoff

Junkdrummer TV (on YouTube)
Gonzalo Lira (on YouTube)
Rush on South Park, Family Guy, Trailer Park Boys

A recommended playlist of songs that weren't top hits for those who want to hear some more obscure highlights:
Natural Science
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
The Pass
Working Them Angels
Good News First
Headlong Flight
The Garden

Thursday, December 25 2014

Merry Christmas!

Have a great day!

Friday, June 20 2014

Want Net Neutrality? Support Broadcasting.

(Disclaimer: The opinions below are strictly my own, and are not necessarily those of Trip Ericson nor those of his employer.)

I don’t know if you've heard, but net neutrality - the basic principle that the “series of tubes” that carry the Internet to your home don’t discriminate between one source of content or another - seems to be on life support. The FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules would seem to destroy the village in order to save it, allowing for “paid prioritization” that would seem to completely undermine the core principle of net neutrality. The Internet has exploded in opposition; when John Oliver gave a call to arms on his HBO show earlier this month it reportedly crashed the FCC’s commenting site, and on Tuesday several Democrats in both houses of Congress introduced legislation that would go over the FCC's head to outright ban paid prioritization.

Continue reading...

Friday, March 14 2014

Cable Pricing Versus Ratings

The Wrap had a very interesting article which notes how the most popular programming on cable doesn't necessarily get the highest payment.


The article neglects to mention that the broadcast networks outrank all of those channels by leaps and bounds, and are available for free with an antenna.

Thursday, November 14 2013

Appearance on Satellite Guys Radio

There was a bit of a technical problem and so while the show did go on, I don't think anyone was able to hear it. As such, here's the link to my appearance on last night's Satellite Nation:


Sunday, November 10 2013

Appearance on Satellite Nation This Week

This Wednesday at 8PM ET, I will be appearing on Satellite Nation. If you wish to listen in, it will be streamed here: http://radio.satelliteguys.us/

After the recording is posted, I will make a post with a link to the recording. Have a great week!

Thursday, October 3 2013

Passing of Terry Knab

I usually like to let dhett's excellent Arizona Station Update have the top slot here on the blog for several days before posting something else, but this month will have to be an exception.

I have sad news to report. Reader, contributor, and friend Terry Knab, of Springfield, Missouri, died yesterday afternoon (October 2) after suffering a pair of strokes on September 27.

Terry found me in March 2008, around the time that RabbitEars only had a text list of subchannels and not the extensive collection of data it has today. We chatted via AOL Instant Messenger, and his first message to me was a correction to the Springfield data I had, which was sparse at the time. The second day we chatted, the chat ran until 4AM and covered all manner of TV subjects. Our near-daily conversations after that rarely deviated from that subject. When I needed opinions on something, he always gave an honest and constructive opinion, and more than a few changes to site layout and presentation were made on the basis of his opinion. More than once, he was able to help me or put me in touch with friends of his who could help me with rather difficult issues I had with the site, like figuring out what font I had used to make the RabbitEars logo, and with testing of the Mobile RabbitEars code on hardware besides my own.

In more recent times, I got busy with work and other things in life. I still received messages from him at least once per week, and answered as often as I was at my computer to do so. Our most recent conversation of length was on September 17, when we discussed the sale of KCAU, WOI, and WHBF to Nexstar. I had been planning to chat with him last Friday (September 27) about the subchannel shuffle in Kansas City to get his thoughts and opinions, as well as any information he may have picked up that I missed (he did quite often), but he was not online. Later that evening, I saw the bad news on Facebook.

I feel very sad that I never got to meet him in person. In 2011, I nearly went to Springfield for a job interview and would have met him while I was there, but I was offered the position at Luken before that happened and thus never made it out there. I eventually hoped to get out to Springfield on a road trip with Elizabeth, and still hope to do so, though it won't be the same now.

Terry Knab. September 6, 1973 - October 2, 2013. He was 40. It was much too soon.

You will be missed.

Wednesday, August 28 2013

In Defense of OTA Broadcasting

Technology has radically changed how we consume video, and how we will consume it in the future. Though much of the current landscape still reflects the cable television paradigm that became mainstream in the 80s and 90s, we are fast approaching a critical point that will establish the new paradigm going forward, as on-demand streaming of TV shows becomes more and more popular. The Internet has blown the “thousand channels” once promised by cable out of the water with a seemingly limitless selection of video, all waiting for you whenever you want. Soon, your television and cable box could be replaced by a computer that can pull up shows from the Internet, rendering any older concept of the “television” obsolete.

Yet another aspect of technology may in some ways shake up the landscape even more, if only in how it shakes up our definition of a computer itself. This is the rise of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, devices that connect to the same Internet as more conventional computers even if they do so in ways that present themselves differently to the end user. There may not be any distinction between TV and Internet in the future, but these devices are counting on it, because they have no way to connect to cable TV other than by using the Internet as an intermediary. And if the Internet itself changes when we consume content, mobile devices change where we consume content. Ironically, this shift could make the question of “when” less relevant by making sure you’re never unable to catch your shows when they’re on (unless perhaps you’re behind the wheel of a car). Perhaps partly because of this, for the moment the consumption of content on mobile devices reflects the current cable television paradigm even more than the general landscape, with cable companies embracing the future they call “TV Everywhere” where any channel you can watch at home you can watch on your smartphone, tablet, or computer – if you “authenticate” with your cable provider.

The notion that in the future, there will be people that get all their video off the Internet in some way should give one pause, raising the question of what the implications are on a more basic level. What sort of infrastructure are we building for the consumption of video, and is it the right tool for all the jobs we might end up asking it to do?

Continue reading...

Tuesday, August 20 2013

The Future of OTA Broadcasting

There have been several posts on RabbitEars opposing efforts by the FCC to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters for the sake of wireless providers and touting the value of broadcast television, and many in and out of the industry have refuted the notion that broadcast television is an outmoded technology obsolete in the age of the Internet. While I sympathize with the cause and don’t disagree with the message (a change of heart for me), I think it’s worth considering why people might think the Internet makes broadcast television obsolete, and from that determine how broadcasters might be able to leverage their strengths to survive and thrive going forward.

Continue reading...

Monday, August 12 2013

The State of OTA Broadcasting

Hey everyone, Trip's been kind of busy since moving to DC, not entirely for reasons directly related to his job, so he's asked me to provide some posts to liven up the blog at least for the rest of the month. First up is something I originally wrote for Radio-Discussions.com back in March:

What would it take for people to start cord-cutting en masse? Well, what programming is available to them if they do? Here's the channel lineup I put together based on the lineup Trip was supposed to have during his time in Chattanooga, assuming an antenna capable of picking up any station on the plus side of that big gap from 15 to 4 dB (without directional bias because I don't know any of the technical specifics of that). I'm listing PSIP ID's based on what's listed at Trip's site, with affiliations in parenthesis when it's not clear from the ID's.

Continue reading...

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