Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mike Nesmith Made Me Go To YouTube's Copyright Offender's School

Yesterday, I got an email from YouTube saying that Michael Nesmith had YouTube take down one of my videos, because of copyright  infringement. This surprised me, since that video has been up there for 11 years!   The video was a hilarious bit by Jim Stafford called “Little Bits and Pieces”, where he gets so drunk he doesn’t recall anything of the night before, and has to be reminded by others about the crazy, destructive things that he had done. 

 The video was of poor quality, since I had digitized it from an old videotape that had been through the wars. That video got a lot of great comments, had hundreds of thousands of hits, and made people happy.  I make no money from any of my videos on YouTube – it’s all for fun. Life is often difficult and depressing, so I want to share the enjoyment, when I can. 

After the video was removed, I remembered that the video was presented on Nesmith’s “Television Parts” show, which we never missed, always full of fun bits and surprises.  Jack Handy’s little bits were also gems.  They don’t make t.v. like that anymore.  Where would you see this stuff now?  After removing my version, I looked. There is one other version which does not seem to be approved for copyright.  In fact, there are MANY versions of Monkees and Jim Stafford songs and videos on YouTube which do not have the copyright information on them, except for the “Standard YouTube License” which all of mine have. So, if Nesmith is on the warpath, he’s going to be plenty busy, because my video is the tip of the iceberg.  Oh well..I guess that gives him a hobby.   Knuckle down, your work is cut out for you, Nez! 

In addition to deletion of "Little Bits and Pieces",  I had to attend YouTube’s Copyright School, to be able to log back into my account. This lesson is brought to you by animated characters named "Russell" and "Lumpy", fit for a 4-year-old. I learned about "Creative Commons", and using permissions. 


You have to go through a lot to get permission to post copyrighted material.  The video tells you (mostly) that you did a BAD THING and could GO TO COURT and BE SUED if you persist in posting copyrighted material.  

What is interesting is that when I initially posted the video eleven years ago, YouTube sent me an email about the possible copyright issue, but them added: ”It’s o.k., you don’t have to do anything now”, so when I read that, I promptly forgot about it.

YouTube's "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" tone leaves the implication that it is o.k. to post copyrighted stuff, as long as you can get away with it.  YouTube then places ads on all of your copyright-infringed videos - without your being paid for them, of course.  So, YouTube benefits when you post copyrighted material. They're in cahoots with you - until you are caught.  After that, they wash their hands of you. They don't want to be sued. It's all on you!  

After scaring the heck out of you about court and jail for your offense, Copyright School then encourages you to make “your own original videos”, and then shows Russell in a video that is so lame that it would be a publicly humiliating  to post it. YouTube would have to shut down and go out of business if that were the kind of videos posted there.  
In any event, I passed the test, getting only two questions wrong. I now have one strike against me on YouTube - three strikes, and they will delete my account, and ban me from having an account with YouTube, ever again.  I'm also listed as an "offender".  

After that experience, the first thing I did was to remove any and all videos that I had posted that I even suspected had copyright issues.  That included my most popular video on there, Martin Briley’s “Salt in My Tears”,  the hits and comments of which way surpassed anything else I had ever posted. 


I got comments from that every week.  It was the only version of that video on YouTube for many years, though there is one now that was actually taken from my YouTube video, and re-posted - the quality sucks, but at least you can see it).  Martin Briley himself enjoyed the one I put up 10 years ago, and made comments, answering questions from fans.  Here is part of our correspondence about it:

From: Debwong
Date: Feb 27, 2008 6:14 AM

DEB: You don't mind my posting your videos on YouTube? How ODD that you can't post your video on here.
Let me try to post it on my MySpace blog. Also, would you like to add a comment similar to what you have written here on my YouTube site under your videos? It would stir up more interest, have people waiting to listen to your new stuff, & purchase your music. Maybe place a web link, etc. As you may have seen, those clips are VERY popular, & have gotten thousands of views. BTW, my sister & brother-in-law really love "Hands on the Screen", have really wanted to see that one again - I think it's brilliant.
Cheers,
Deb 

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Martin Briley Production Services
Date: Feb 26, 2008 6:57 AM


MARTIN:  No, of course I don't mind you posting my videos, I'm very flattered. Sure, we'd all like to receive royalties from Utube but right now I'm happy that despite Universal's indifference, someone gets to see them. 

The irony is that Mercury ( which became Polygram which became Universal ) and ALL the record companies billed the artists back in full for their own demos, and yet if I try to post my own video on Myspace, they yank it! ( as they've done before on Utube)


Since you seem to be such an avid fan, I thought I'd make you aware that due to Universal's procrastination in releasing 'Salt In My Tears' ( and the rest of The Mercury Years ) on iTunes, I recently created a new master of 'Salt In My Tears' and released it on CD Baby. It'll be on iTunes pretty soon and I've been assured that once Universal hears about it they'll put the whole of The Mercury Years on iTunes with amazing speed! We'll see. The new release on CD Baby includes an acoustic version of 'Salt In My Tears' and two new songs.

Regards

Martin


So, I guess that was his “seal of approval” – but I had been burned.  Down it went.  No more Salt.  No more Tears.  At least on MY YouTube. 

Interesting to note that so many fine videos presented on YouTube are copyrighted, the majority of which, apparently, are used without permission.  What would happen is all of those copyright infringed videos were removed?  Would there be much left to watch on YouTube?

So, I did wrong, I was bad.  At first, I was upset that Nesmith did this, but I then remembered that he is also the one who gave permission for my daughter Kelly Peeples to use Monkees content in her “Daydream Believer” film short. The Monkees TV show was a family favorite, and Kelly was inspired to write about a young girl who had a crush on – you guessed it – Mike Nesmith.  Kelly & Rosanne (co-producer) even met Nesmith at the Taos Talking Picture Festival's Open Screen, in New Mexico, in 1998.   So, that was nice.   


Now, if you visit my YouTube, it is mostly old home movies, stuff from our vacations - buffalos in Yellowstone, falls in Yosemite, that sort of thing - and the antics of my cats (the cats are long-gone, but the videos remain).  Also, local artists performing, events, and such. The only one whose copyright is on those videos is mine.....though I doubt that anyone would want to share those, anyway.   

MORAL OF THE STORY:  If you have anything posted on YouTube that does not have the permission of the copyright owner, take it down.  Let the artist (or whomever) profit from their own work.  

P.S. - After I posted this blog, Michael Nesmith posted on Facebook about why he is finally claiming his copyrighted material.  He also posted a link to where others can view these videos, called "VideoRanch:  tps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj0voUzocNYrteaKivLXKLg

If I had known about it,l I would just have posted a link......much easier than posting videos. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pencils

 
From the time I could hold a pencil - as the saying goes - I loved to draw.  Pencils were prized an collected.  Pencils were such a draw for me (so to speak) I appreciated even the image of pencils.  My sister and I had curtains in our room that I loved to stare at.  The curtain design was of baby elephants holding pencils in their trunks, and an apple in one foot.

In grade school, we were given fat round, dark red pencils.   We were also given large sheets of brown ruled paper with wide lines on it.  Not sure why smaller hands were given larger paper and pencils?
 
Not all pencils were created equal, however.  I preferred the softer lead (graphite) pencils, which made for blacker, smoother lines.   After 3rd grade, we graduated to the standard, #2 pencils, and standard ruled paper, and knew that we were now “big kids”.  
 
Cut to an event traumatic enough that I remember it 60 years later.  It was the last day of second grade, and my teacher had given each of us a large chocolate pencil, with tinfoil wrapper that looked like a pencil. 
My two favorite things in one – chocolate and a pencil! I was enchanted. I was on my way home, holding my pencil up proudly, when a boy slightly older than myself pretended that he was an airplane as he ran towards me, wings outstretched, and broke my chocolate pencil in half.  He  laughed, and I cried.  I went back to the teacher, and told her what had happened – could I have another one?  But there were none left, and I went home crying into my broken chocolate pencil.

 

Facebook Follies

Sometimes it occurs to me how short life is, and how much time I spend on Facebook. These are amusing observations that I have made so far, many of which I have been guilty of, at one time or another:


Going to click the “laugh” button on a funny post, which instead lands on a post about someone’s father who died, when your browser shifts.

Posting news about something that makes you happy, which somehow turns into something else entirely when the respondents go on about how what makes you happy is not politically correct, or some other non-related issue, and then you have to delete your post, making you feel unhappy.

Clicking “like” and  on posts of photos of friends of friends that you don’t even know.

Posting a meme about something that inspires or outrages you with a significant message, only to discover that it isn’t true, after all.

Having to check with Snopes.com so often that the hits on Snopes makes their stocks skyrocket.

Saying “Happy Birthday” to someone EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Having FB friends that don’t seem to ever be on there telling you in person how much they know about you and your life – from Facebook!

Never missing a day of checking in to Facebook – even when on vacation – because you might miss something.

Lots of “selfies”. Through the years, trying to find better angles for “selfies.” Finally posting selfies of pets or long-shots of oneself.

Either that, or keeping one consistent photo of oneself which never changes through the years, like Dorian Gray.

Doing quizzes made up by pimply teens about where I might live, what superhero I am, or what color my aura is, and taking them half-seriously.

Taking pictures of my food when I eat out, so that my Facebook friends know that I’m eating out.

Sharing photos on FB of me with real-life friends when we go out, so that the rest of my Facebook friends know that I have a life.

Asking medical advice from my Facebook friends, before seeing my doctor.

Avoiding the copying and pasting chain letter posts which imply that one is a terrible person if they don’t respond and "share".

Checking in to a hospital or medical clinic, without giving a reason, thus alarming friends and family.

“Taking on” all of the sorrow from posts about FB friends' loved ones who have passed (human and non-human). Trying to learn not to empathize so much.

Posting an album with 150 photos of one’s children, pets, or vacation that time-pressed FB addicts have to “get back to”, but never do.

Making a comment that you think is funny, but no one else gets the joke, then deleting your comment, because it was causing offense.

Knowing which of your FB friends is high or has been drinking, just by their off-kilter comments.

OR...they have been hacked by their son or daughter, who is a real jokester.

Trying to figure out the meaning of a post when it is just one line without explanation, with little meaning to you.
You find that time goes way faster than you realized while on FB, and now you are late for work!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Day We All Went to the Moon

Where were you on July 21, 1969?  I know where I was.  At Steve Neill's house, watching the moon landing on his small black-and-white television.


The aroma of curry was in the air; Steve and his mom had a cook named Olvero who had just made curried chicken for lunch.  I also enjoyed the curried eggs that Steve would fry for us.  

Steve was the one who took me to see "2001: A Space Odyssey" at the Coronet in S.F., and he insisted that the only way to view it was by sitting in the first row, looking up at the screen. 


We did that several times (this was back in the day when they only way to view first-run films was in a movie theater). Seeing a movie many times back then was like a badge of honor. Something to brag about, until VCRs and cable t.v. entered the scene, when watching a film many times was no big deal. 

Steve aspired to be a special effects artist.  His room had various models of space ships hung from the ceiling, on dressers, and on a table. Steve would film the models with his Super 8 (later 35mm) movie camera on small sets that he created.  

But that day, our attention was focused on the moon landing.

This was not science fiction, but science fact - live coverage of an actual event, only dreamed-of until that day.  When Neil Armstrong stepped onto that surface - was it made of green cheese, as we were brought up to believe?  - the lunar dirt gave way to human footprints for the first time.  I just heard: "One small step....", and then we cheered.  I got chills. We were joyful, and amazed.  

I needed the lift of this historic occurrence.  Just three months before the moon landing, my 16-year-old sister was killed in a car accident.  I was 17, reeling from that loss, and still in that fog of grief and disbelief.  I needed diversions. Steve was good for that, and I am grateful he was there at that time. He later went on to become a special effects artist in Hollywood.  You can read more about Steve's career here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0624759/

As for me, I bought and saved a newspaper reporting the safe landing and homecoming of the astronauts. That is when I really cheered.  Here is that newspaper, which I still have - a bit worse for the wear, as am I - though the memories are as fresh as yesterday.





Other News on July 24, 1969: 



Appliances for sale that year: 


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Just Wining A Bit

Last time I was drunk was in 1969.  I was 17, with two male friends, and I drank a whole bottle of Ripple wine.  Ripple and Red Mountain were the alcoholic beverages of choice back then. This was before Boone's Farm Apple Wine, and the other "soda pop" drinks.
I only have bits and pieces of memory after drinking that bottle, which was done partly on a dare by one of my friends.   In essence, I blacked out.   Just before the black veil descended, we were watching a t.v. show about Vietnam war casualties, some of it pretty graphic.  My friends were discussing how they were going to dodge the draft. 

In any event, the next morning, my head felt like cement, and I was very nauseous, and have some memory of throwing up in the toilet a few times.

I was also naked, lying between my two - naked – male friends.  That I didn't forget.  When I asked them what happened the night before, one shook his head, and the other just smiled. 

After that, I decided that if I were to drink, it would be no more than two glasses per day. Sort of a "wake-up" call.  

Prior to that experience, I had one other drunken night where some memory is missing.  I was at a party in San Francisco, and had several cups of hot, mulled wine.....you know, with the orange slices floating in it, nutmeg on top.  It was deceptive, as it didn't seem like that much...but it was so good. Like dessert. I was also encouraged to have more, you know how that is?   "Have another glass - I made enough for an army!" said our proud hostess.  

I was wearing a very short fringed suede skirt and vest outfit, with pigskin boots to match.  Very sexy for that time.  Long story short, one of the other guests, a long-haired hippie dude about 6’4”, picked me up, and said he wanted to "....show (me) the City."  I weighed about 90 pounds at the time, so it was do-able.  He carried me up to Coit Tower, because I couldn’t walk, at that point.  He had me look through one of those view-scopes to see the City through it, but my vision was cloudy, and all I saw was fog.   He tried to make out with me, but I was too messed-up to reciprocate, so he brought me back to the party, and my friends drove me home.  Apparently, I had fallen asleep with my mouth open, in the car.  One of my friends described me as looking like a: "...sweet little bird with its beak open."

My generation also had other forms of chemical recreation. 
I tried pot, hash, and had mushroom (psilocybin) once. I wanted to fit in, but the effects didn't do it for me.  In fact, the negatives (paranoia, dizziness, nausea) made them not rewarding.  However, I enjoyed watching my friends partaking, and then laughing hysterically.  

From 1971-2001, I didn’t drink alcohol, save for a glass of champagne once, for New Years, I think it was in 1999.  My first husband Perry didn’t want anyone around him who drank.  I went along with that. It turned out to be a wise decision for my liver.  When I got together with my second husband Mike, we went to many art shows and parties, where a glass of wine was offered & received (helped calm the nerves).  

These days, when I do drink, it is two or fewer glasses, and not often. Last time was about 3-4 months ago. But I do enjoy that glass of red wine with spaghetti, pizza, or beef stroganoff.   I'll have a beer with Mexican food or fish 'n chips.  Just one. Burp!   


A photo of Yours Truly enjoying a glass of Guinness also wound up in a book, in 2009.



On rare occasions, there are family gatherings where a glass of spirits is included.  Then, there is the required drink at Malloy's Tavern, in Colma, after a funeral at Holy Cross cemetery, where we all get together, and have one...or two... for the deceased. That also includes a sing-along, for those who are inclined. Much better AFTER imbibing.



Now that I am 65, I think I have dodged a few bullets that I could so easily have caught, including the addiction to alcohol (especially with my family history).  There is still time, of course, for me to become a full-blown alcoholic.  But I really am not that motivated, and would rather spend $$ on other addictions.  Like books.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Mother's Cousin, Judy Garland

My mom was always told that she bore a resemblance to Judy Garland. (Mom could also sing). She was often asked if she was related to Garland. Little did she know that she was – a very distant relation.
 
Judy Garland (a.k.a. Frances Gumm) ‘s 5th great-grandparents William Batte Sr. and Mary (Stratton) Batte are my 8th great-grandparents (mom’s father’s side). William and Mary’s son William was the direct line ancestor to Judy; their daughter Mary "Polly" Batte, who married our 7th great-grandfather Richard Bennett, is our direct ancestor. These are the kind of surprises that keep me at my family’s genealogy research. 

 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Yard Sale Season and My $5. Vacuum Cleaner

It’s Yard Sale Season again! This time of year gets me nostalgic for those Saturday morning cruises for bargains that we took for so many years. Pacifica and the Coastside had a lot of treasures in those garages. We especially enjoyed the pack rats, those hoarders who finally had to let go of part of their stash, for cash. 

Think of it: all over the country, there are treasures hidden in garages and storage lockers that even the "Pickers" crew haven't yet unearthed! This is an ongoing American dream. 

Some sales are neatly set up, and organized.  This one in Pacifica made it easy to peruse the merchandise.

Yard Sale in Pacifica
This one was slightly less organized.  

A few sales reeked of bitterness or urgency.  
We didn't care, as long as there were DEALS. You can't get too emotionally involved.

I have always loved thrift stores, garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales and flea markets. Years ago, I worked for a large thrift store in Redwood City, which is now called "Savers". That was sort of a dream job for awhile. 
The huge variety of items which came in each day, in addition to the interesting people who shopped there, is worthy of a book in itself.

As manager of Thrift Village, in my green smock

In the Production room, where new arrivals would be sorted and tagged.
With that experience, embarking upon my eBay business in 2001 seemed like a natural occupation for me. My eBay name is “Not_New_But_Cool”. I always included  my card, with each item that I sold. 

My husband Mike and I would get out early every Saturday morning, so that we could beat the “early birds” in finding the best deals on what we thought might sell.  There would be signs on every corner, and then some. Some signs could be quite colorful, or clever. This one wasn't around when we were in business, but you get the idea! 



Note that the quality and selection of items at these sales had little to do with the signs.  Generic signs like these often led to the coolest stuff. 
While signs like these led to some of the coolest people: 


Tip for buyers: Always bring small bills. The sellers will appreciate it!  Be courteous.  If the seller says: "No Early Birds" respect that (though Mike will often point out that a few who ignored that rule were the first to get to the good stuff).  

Well over 4,000 positive eBay feedback ratings later, I can say that our success stories stand out, while our failures are swept under the second-hand throw-rug of “experience” and “lessons learned”.   In reality, if you count all of the hours I put into it – just after returning home with the goods – I was making about $1.00 an hour. On a good week. Here is just a minute sampling of items that I sold:

A very small sampling of some of the items that I sold on eBay.

What I learned about the things I was selling was a real education, and it was also great practice for product photography. 

Our living room is like a huge light box, windows on 2 sides, filtered light, and great for time exposures. Our camera was hooked up to our television set, which was a useful monitor. This experience has proved invaluable for when we do product photography for clients these days.  Using a large mirror for highlight & shape, we could make the items stand out over so many of the other images on eBay.

Some of the things that we found were slightly bizarre. 
Ranging from a petrified crocodile head to JFK doll, to campy logo "Closet Boy" hangers, with appropriate image.

  When money was scarce, I even sold a few of my own collectibles.  This included a hand-written letter from May Pang, who was Beatle John Lennon's gal-pal for a few months. That went for a couple of hundred dollars. 

Learning how to package items safely, and creatively was part of the job.  Mike & I would go “dumpster diving” for cardboard boxes, to save money. We learned that bubble wrap is like gold. At one yard sale, I found a lot of it lying around, which the person who was having the sale was happy to give to me. Packing with newspaper is not ideal – too heavy, and things would break.
A few packages for eBay customers,ready to be shipped out.
Dealing with bidders /buyers on a daily basis, I learned how to write up honest but provocative and factual listings. I always provided positive feedback when paid. Of the few times I gave negative feedback, it was earned, and served mostly as a warning to other sellers about certain bidders. That was in the minority, though. Now sellers can’t leave negative feedback, which takes away some of the seller’s options. That is one of many reasons that I don't sell as often on Bay anymore.


 
Pet peeves of garage sale customers: People who leave last week’s yard sale signs taped up, thus faking us out, and wasting our time. There are only so many sales you can go to within the golden hours of 7-10 AM. Luckily, most of the time, a practiced eye can detect a weathered sign from a block away. 


Other gripes: Folks who hold yard sales, and wind up not wanting to part with their stuff, after all. Or those who price their items higher than the market would bear. Irritable persons who would snap at you if you tried to bargain. We figure that bargaining is a part of it (certainly part of the fun of it).   We have seen a few fights break out, at these sales. 

There are things that you learn after awhile – that “Estate Sales” are basically held after someone has died.  These often do not offer "bargain" items, but you can never be too sure.  The "Estate" could be anything from a mansion to a trailer.  

Estate sales usually mean higher prices, and are often not worth it. That being said, some of our best selling items came from estate sales. You just have to know how to shop, and have at least a rough idea of what was trending. The variety of items we sold surprised even us, as we never know what we would find each week at those yard sales. That was the most fun of all...the surprises!
My daughter and I, checking out one yard sale. 

Kelly found a friend at one sale
Every week, we would see many of the same people at the sales (and they would see us). Some earned nicknames. There was the schoolteacher we called “The Book Man”, for obvious reasons....always gravitated towards the book pile. There was the “Stuffed Animal Lady”, whose car was filled with plush toys. There was also “The Junk Man”, who bought machine parts and repaired them. You could tell the folks who were buying to resell, and the ones who were in it just for the fun of it, just by the intensity of their demeanor.



I really enjoyed the citywide yard sale days.  Pacifica’s day for that is different than Half Moon Bay’s, so that we had two such days in the year to look forward to. Since everyone is having sales those weekends, prices are generally lower on stuff, as there is so much to choose from, and sellers know it.  Bargaining is an art. Part of it is like playing poker - if you see a great find, you don't let on.



We learned to pay more, however, for “Benefit” yard sales, those which donate the proceeds to a charity or cause. We don’t even attempt to bargain on those ones. There are certain ones we never went to, as we knew that they would be overpriced, and not for the resale-resale market. 

People often asked me what I sold. “Anything and everything”.  If that is too vague, I’ll specify some of the more memorable items: 


* Vintage books & magazines 
* All sorts of housewares, including vintage appliances; 
* An original Macintosh Computer, with case & accessories, that I got for $5. at a garage sale in Pacifica, and sold for $850.; 
* An antique wooden Madonna that I bought at a yard sale in El Granada for $2., and sold for $325.;
*Film CAMERAS  - lots of cameras! We even sold Mike’s old Hasselblad, when he switched to full digital photography; 
*A vintage model race car that Mike picked up for $1., and sold for over $200.; 
* Handbags:  Dooney & Bourke handbags that I bought for under $5., and sold for between $50. – $200.; 
*Vintage electric Farberware grills, which used to bring in good money. 
* Collectibles of all sorts, too large a variety to even list. 


But everything has a trend, and when we purchased a dozen Farberware grills during one of our last yard-sale runs, we couldn’t get rid of them. Timing is everything in the buying and selling on eBay business. That timing includes which day of the week you start an auction, as well as the time of the auction. Holidays are a mixed bag. 


Once we tried selling items twice and failed, we donated those items to our two favorite local thrift stores.  One is the Alternative Thrift Shop, located at 522 Plaza Alhambra, Ste D, El Granada, CA, run by Cindy Judkins.  


Another source is the Senior Coastsiders Thrift Store, which supports nonprofit programs for seniors and adults with disabilities on the Coastside.

My most lasting garage sale purchase was something that I kept: a Hoover Vacuum cleaner, fully-equipped, for just $5, from an over-packed garage. The seller just wanted to get rid of stuff!  That vacuum cleaner has worked beautifully for 12 years, now.  It truly sucks - and sucks hard....which is what you want in a vacuum cleaner.




In 2009, when our gallery moved to Main Street, I quit the eBay business, and went to work full-time at Spring Mountain Gallery, where I am now co-owner. We are too busy these days to take that time out for yard sales. But I do miss the fun of the find, and the art of the deal.