Neighbor cat Albert relaxing after a sojourn in the rain this weekend.
On Amazon Prime last night, we watched an episode from the eighth and final season of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, which stars Larry David, co-creator of “Seinfeld”. Clearly, Larry had a huge influence on the Seinfeld series, and “Curb” is a hilarious show, too. A “Seinfeld” reunion is part of the plotline in the late 7th season.
Rather than gobble up the remaining episodes, we next turned to an episode of the short-lived HBO series, “Hello Ladies” (also on Amazon Prime). It stars Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais’ writing partner on the original British series, “The Office”. It’s about an out-of-it lonely guy on a quest for romance.
This episode ended with the Al Stewart tune, “Year of the Cat” (an easy year in Vietnamese astrology), in bitterly ironic juxtaposition to the story line. I can certainly identify with Stephen’s geeky character. It doesn’t hurt that he is a lanky 6’7″, which I also was when the song was on the charts. (I’m now a slightly less lanky 6’6″.)
1977 was the year of “Year of the Cat” on the radio, but it wasn’t my year for soft contemplative songs. But as sometimes happens, the brilliant use of a song as counterpoint in a movie or series forcefully reminds you how good it is.
This also happened to me with Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Sugar Town” in the third season of the HBO series, “Girls”. (The tune was written by Lee Hazlewood, born in Mannford, Oklahoma.)
I often missed the meaning of songs in the 70s, due both to inattention and my inability to parse out the lyrics. For example, at one point in “Year of the Cat”, I had thought he said “sweet Delores” when it’s really “Peter Lorre”. Pathetic.
So I went in quest of both the lyric and its meaning this morning. Quite a few interpretations out there, but on the most basic level, the song is about an unexpected romantic, cinematic interlude in an exotic foreign land (see lyrics and comments at http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/17850).
I now realize the song has grown on me. It probably helps not being as hung up on hot-lick guitar playing anymore.
In one of the comments at the above URL is a YouTube clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppIL5V-fcQ8) with a brief explanation of the lyric by Al and a TV performance (lip-sync) of the song.
All this research was done on my smartphone, and I now have an easy way to get a YouTube from it up to the big screen: Chromecast.
I copied the URL, but found that the YouTube app doesn’t have a place to paste it. So I pasted it into Google, hit search, and it asked which app in which to complete the action. I selected YouTube and up it came on the phone.
Paused it immediately, then clicked the ‘cast icon at the top right in the phone’s YouTube app. It found my Chromecast device and I selected it. The video appeared on the big screen, displacing “Morning Joe”, which I had ‘cast up there from a Chrome browser tab on the office PC.
When through watching, click the cast icon again and select disconnect.
Typical YouTube exploration is more natural with Chromecast than with Roku or other set-top devices.
Over the weekend, my Roku LT (back in service after the Roku 3 got fried by lightning) developed a new habit of going to sleep and not waking up until rebooted. I decided to do a Factory Reset and re-register it, but Roku’s servers were swamped by all the Xmas shoppers with their new Roku SEs. I put it aside for a few days and have been using the Chromecast and the TiVo instead.
The one big deficiency of Google Chromecast is that it lacks Amazon Instant Video. The two corporations are arch-enemies; Amazon does not support the Chromecast device and banned both it and Apple TV from their site; Google has not released any of its own apps for Amazon’s Fire devices.
So we watched the shows last night on TiVo’s Amazon app. But if you use Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc., Chromecast could do it all for you.
After Thanksgiving dinner last week, I showed one of our phone-centric nephews how to get his iPhone’s NFL Sunday Ticket app up onto our big screen TV. He liked it a lot.
The new Chromecast.
As a result, both nephews will be receiving the newest version of the Chromecast for Christmas. There is a really good deal at the Google Store today (“Cyber Monday”), 2 for $50. Since it’s for Christmas, I got them the festive red and yellow ones. The color will remind them to take the device with them after using it at friends’ houses.
The Year of the Cat, a year of ease and relaxation, comes every twelve years. The last one was 2011, next is 2023. But for Albert (pictured at top), it comes every year.