Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Problem With Net Neutrality and Political Correctness and Clickbait Headlines...

You can stop reading if you wish to find an essay about why I think Ajit Pai is right and that political correctness is destroying society.

Over on Facebook, one of the groups I belong to is asking for the "worst song ever". Danny Peary, author of three volumes of books about cult movies expressed his ire regarding people who go to "Bad Movie Festivals" and view them with an air of superiority, knowing that they and their hip friends have all deemed ____ a bad movie.

All that to say that when you (apparently) ask the lay public what is the worst song ever, you are going to get several responses:

1. Truly bad songs. Badly played bad tunes with poor singing or some combination thereof. Sometimes, you have a perfectly well-sung or performed song, but with a creepy message. 

2. Songs that were MEANT to be bad. For example "There's a New Sound" by Tony Burello was supposed to be a commentary on the quality of music ca. 1953. It even came out on Horrible Records! He cannot sing, the melody is awful, it is repetitive, it has no chorus and it has weird sound effects

It became a hit, oddly enough.

3. Songs or genres that people don't like. I'm not fond of this school of thought, because that means that the hip have won. "Oh, ____ is just so bad! You aren't one of the cool kids if you like ____!"

Here is one candidate for my worst song ever:

Shaddap You Face” by Joe Dolce.  It's a personal opinion.

Before the popular use of the internet, there was a number people could call in San Diego, CA to leave a message about what was on their minds, or hear what other people said. The song they used on the recording that told you what the concept of the phone number was Dolce’s. One day, I called and I heard this. Keep in mind that I heard it 37 years ago, so it isn’t verbatim:

“I’m a reasonable guy, but some things bother me, like when hear some dude, shaking his booty to some jungle boogie...”, and so on and so forth. Well, there’s a jerk, I thought. The voice didn't mention race, but it was not hard to discern who he meant. 

On a subsequent day, with no knowledge of who owned what car, my brother and several other people found a business card under the windshield wipers of their cars. It was from the W.A.R.: The Wives of the American Revolution.

Actually, it was the White Aryan Resistance.

So, my brother and I decided to call the number on the card. What fun one could have in the days before caller ID. We got a recording:

“[urgent music]...The time? Not too far in the future. A marauding army OF (emphasis his) Blacks are coming for you, boasting about what THEY are going to do to your wives and daughters. “ Where are the guns? WHERE ARE THE G***D***N (asterisks mine) GUNS!?”, and so on and so forth.

It was the same voice from the message line. It chilled me then as now. I can still hear that voice.

This, of course, is no fault of Dolce's. I could make a minuscule case about the record playing into some Italian stereotypes,  but that is low-hanging fruit and not really more than eyebrow-raising in its content.

While certainly not my favorite, holds the dubious honor of worst song, but for an entirely different reason. I cannot think of that song without hearing that nazi's (de-emphasis mine) voice on the phone line.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. The man that you see on the background of this blog I reconnected with, because his daughter and I were friends when we were kids. We met online again and conversed for the first time since 1976 and for that I have Facebook to thank. She passed away and I got a chance to restart my relationship with her father, who told me after the funeral, "I always thought of you as my son". How much richer was my childhood thanks to people like my actual parents and an inherited one?

I was able to write and thank people like Marvin Kaplan for all the years of laughter he gave me in shows like "Top Cat" and "Becker". He was gracious enough to respond, too. He passed not long after, so I was able to "give him his flowers while he could see them", as it were.

Then, of course there is the other side of all of this personal connection. It has an addictive side, it can reinforce bad thoughts or behaviors because not only do you believe it to be so, you can have a chorus of people that agree with you. Hillary Clinton ran a sex ring? Sure! Here's "proof". Donald Trump said the GOP is gullible? Sure, and here is the "proof".

Idiots can always find each other. Via phone line, mail, yelling down the street, they'll hook up. The drag is that, in part because of Net Neutrality, it's boatloads easier now. Here is an excerpt from an article about John Boehner from Politico

"...Boehner worries about the deepening fissures in American society. But he sees Trump as more of a symptom than the cause of what is a longer arc of social and ideological alienation, fueled by talk radio and Fox News on the right and MSNBC and social media on the left. “People thought in ’09, ’10, ’11, that the country couldn’t be divided more. And you go back to Obama’s campaign in 2008, you know, he was talking about the divide and healing the country and all of that. And some would argue on the right that he did more to divide the country than to unite it. I kind of reject that notion.” Why is that? “Because it wasn’t him!” Boehner replies. “It was modern-day media, and social media, that kept pushing people further right and further left. People started to figure out … they could choose where to get their news. And so what do people do? They choose places they agree with, reinforcing the divide.”

It's a sad development, but it's true, BUT it is not an effective argument against Net Neutrality, as some might interpret this. The 'net has to stay unfettered. Sure it can be abused, but I'd hate to think that someone deems that my car is illegal because someone decided to use a car as a weapon. To quote Peter Parker's Uncle Ben (LOVE his rice...), "...with great power there must also come -- great responsibility!"


That is my opinion of Political Correctness. Be responsible for what you say. In this ever-changing world in which we live in, language evolves much faster. "Eskimo" and "Gypsy" are not only outmoded but to some, deeply offensive. I have no issue purging them from my vocabulary. If it means that Inuit or Yupik or Romani people can read this and not furrow their brow, I'm for it. Anything can be taken to an extreme. You can either be of the "Ya can't even call a broad a chick anymore" school, or you can scold someone because they said they were complained about "niggardly portions" at a restaurant at the other end of the spectrum.

I cannot say I'm immune to this. Someone posted a YouTube video regarding homophonic attitudes on Friends and as I watch, I'm having a tough time seeing how many of the excerpts are homophobic and I don't know whether it is due to me or poor choices on the compiler's part.

I do know that there were a lot of Korean-Americans that didn't mourn M*A*S*H's demise. I can understand that. Some of the actors portraying Koreans weren't Korean, a lot of them were incidental to the plot at any given time, none of them were regulars on the show. Some of them were cast for the "Ho, ho! Listen to them mangle English" factor. So, while I still do like a lot about the show, it is tempered by cultural insensitivity. This brings me to another point.


It is tempting to take today's morals and imbue them on an earlier time. In the "Watchmen"'s opening sequence we see a murder scene and graffiti written in blood over two women, that said, "Lesbians". Now, I don't doubt that in the 30's and 40's there was rampant and violent homophobia, but I don't believe that someone that targets two Gay women would write "Lesbians" in blood.

THAT is PC thinking gone slightly wrong. They would have written "Dykes" or some such. It undercuts the drama of the scene.

Now, when I was a boy, the Our Gang comedies ran every day. At first blush, there is a lot to cringe about. Some of the Black* boys are named for grains (Buckwheat, Farina), one scene had Spanky shake his finger in one of their faces, saying, "Don't show your ignorance". The "Kid from Borneo" features an ooga-booga native that keeps saying, "Yum-yum, eat 'em up" and he's mistaken for a cannibal.

Now, let's take a look at the times.

Certain musical sequences were put in a film with Colored (that was one of the words of the times, gang) entertainment that could be excised from certain prints so certain audiences would be spared seeing the occasional chocolate face. In the "Our Gang" comedies, all the kids are in the same gang, playing together. That was HUGE for the time. The series has been lauded for that, but society should not think that this is the pinnacle of diversity and stay in that spot. I was even schooled, unwittingly, by Mom about Lois Lane. As a boy, I saw her solely as a damsel in distress, getting in trouble and being saved by Superman. One day, I was looking at a Superman comic and Mom said, "Lois Lane was a hero to us girls! She was running around, getting those stories...". It took a while and I thought, for the time, that WAS a big deal and that's great, but why STAY there? We, as a people were not content to just be able to live until the end of the film and in 2008, I lived to see Barack Obama through TWO Presidential terms.

How bad is lack of context? Read this article and then read the comments. The comment thread is lousy with people that feel that the Hallmark channel is being unfairly criticized for its lack of diversity.

One comment reads, "So it's OK if we complain that BET is all black people?"

To which I say, "No, of course not."

White people have never needed their own TV network. There is no need for White-only movies or a Caucasian line of books. Why? For the longest time, it was ASSUMED. It's the default setting. People like Oscar Micheaux started film companies because of the lack of opportunities for Black actors. There are at least four Afrocentric TV networks on cable. BET, BET Her, Aspire and TVOne.

Four. And they were created for roughly the same reasoning that Micheaux used.

That is not a takeover. Why are people feeling persecuted? To be fair, the Hallmark Channel has not been where I looked to see cutting-edge comedies or gritty drama, but it never was. I think that raking them over the coals for what they've been doing for years is mildly disingenuous, even if it is spiking in popularity under the current administration. Hallmark is decidedly old-fashioned for better or for worse (and the worse is delineated pretty well in the article. IT'S NOT NEWS.

Far more sinister is Sinclair's wheedling its way into the cultural landscape. THIS is news.

Far more sinister is a poll that shows interesting numbers on discrimination.

You won't believe what happens next...

And there ^^ is your clickbait.

*No, I don't mind Black or African-American, but I do capitalize Black and request you do the same. Black's faster to type, too!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

"A Good Old Boy."

The only picture of Steve, Dad and I as adults.
My Brother from another Mother, Jason Stone and I are going to host a regular DJ night and if you asked me about our favorite DJ, I'd be a bit torn between our first night at Grits and Gravy in Charlottesville with the Rum Cove (Robin Tomlin) and DJ Colin Powell or our first Hip Drop at Ponderosa Stomp, but the title of this is MY favorite DJ gig and I know the answer to that one.

My family loves music. I grew surrounded by a lot of albums. Mom and Dad dug the classics, like Mussorgsky, Respighi and Bach, Mom liked Johnny Mathis and ANYTHING Hawaiian and Dad like Latin and various Island musics and could even tell you where a song came from either by style or by translating the lyrics.

Steve was big into Osibisa, Mandrill and Jimi Hendrix, which, before he got a Sylvania unit with a flip-down turntable (!) he played on a portable, but heavy Electro-Phonic turntable at the foot of his bed, which is why I call myself Electro-Phonic Brian.

Dad and I had a checkered history. Mom and Dad divorced, which devastated Mom and neither Steve nor I took it well, either. In the movie "Out of the Past", one of the characters was described as, "...a bit cold around the heart", which describes me, on some occasions. It put a bad seed of distrust in me for some time. In 1984, I reached out to him. He had remarried and gotten sober AND stopped smoking in a way that can only be described as typical Orva Phillips resolve. Two times, the doctor told him, if you continue to do _____, you're going to die.

So, he stopped. Cold turkey, no patches, no, "I only drink on holidays or at social events", he stopped.

When I called, he genuinely didn't believe it was me. After three or four, "reallys?" we started mending fences. I'm happy to say that we had a good relationship for the rest of his life after roughly eight years of not talking. 

Sometime before the divorce, Dad passed out at a funeral and that is when we found out that he had cancer. It destroyed one of his kidneys and a bit of his spleen. He recovered, or so we thought. Some years later, the cancer returned and it went after his brain. He could barely walk and if he tried to sleep he would have dreams that he was falling and wake up violently.

Dad didn't talk much, unless he was comfortable. He didn't say he was quiet, he preferred "reflective". If chemistry was the topic, well, then he could go on for days. It seemed like days. The disease pained him, so his sentences were not too horribly long, but he was cognizant in his last days. 

I can't speak for every child, but I have to have a report card. I need to know how I did sometimes, ESPECIALLY in my parent's eyes. He was facing his demise and he knew it. It is something when your Dad tells you that he's not scared of dying, because you know that he IS dying. It was not a happy conversation and it didn't end on a good note.

When I lived in Montebello, east of East L.A. (Dad lived in NY), I found a great compilation called "Bravos del Ritmo" at the local library and I couldn't get enough of it. It had so many wonderful names, like Arsenio Rodriguez, the La Playa Sextet, Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz, Ocho and Tito Rodriguez. I made a cassette of the highlights and tacked on a song by Miguel Poventud (backed by Yomo Toro) from the 1950s. 

By the way, the Miguel Poventud song was, "Si Me Pierdo en la Vida" which I later found out means, "If I Get Lost in Life".

I called him sometime after that. Of all things we talked about that day, Dad mentioned the tape I made for him. He was not perfect, nor am I. We could have done things differently, but I didn't want him to go to bed angry with me. It was one of our last conversations. Had I waited too long, I would have had to live with the words of our last conversation.  He was in such pain, all he could say was, "Can't talk...can't talk".

The night I called after I knew he received the tape, though, he said, "That! You're a good old boy, do you know that?" My best gig, to an audience of one.

Thanks, Dad. Come see us at El Myr. I'll play Hector Rivera for you. You'll love it!

I love you.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blood, Soil and Fields.

It's not my full-time job, but I am a DJ. I play vintage music, mostly Soul and Rhythm and Blues. It's not an act of defiance or bravery, it's just what I do.

I've done this several times in Charlottesville, to very appreciative crowds. I don't know where they came from, but I know where they were the nights we spun records. My memories of younger and older people, African-American and Caucasian, even, memorably, a woman in a wheelchair dancing to wonderfully obscure music brought out by my friends and I. No fights, no rancor, no death.

Three people are dead, others are injured, because of hate. My people are injured and dead.

I'm a Christian. Yes, I play secular music (and some Gospel too!), but I am a Christian. The white nationalists that marched and those that sympathized felt they were doing this in the name of various and sundry reasons, the loss of a statue, the "threat" of diversity and some have the nerve to say that they were doing it with Christian motives. Then James Fields of Kentucky and Ohio came along in a car and drove through the crowd, which injured many and killed one person.

This person hurt my people. My Savior would not endorse this. He didn't ride into town and trample disbelievers. A 32 year-old woman is dead because of Fields. Because of these hateful people, Berke M.M. Bates and H. Jay Cullen are dead. 22 families' lives have been disrupted, because of Fields. He, just like Dylann Roof, was apprehended, alive.

Eric Garner's family must be relieved about this.

One of the things chanted was "blood and soil". I have walked on the soil of Charlottesville, as well as the streets where the attacks occurred and the horror of the bloodshed that has resulted from the action of fools shakes me to the core. We are at once, goading war with one country, taunting another, failing to unite with many as a result of our non-support of the Paris Agreement and at home, we awaited the word of the government that seemed to say that these unabashedly racist attacks were to be condemned, BUT softened it to say that "all sides" were a concern when bigotry is concerned.

There is no mistake here. None. These people came out with a clear and concise message to hate and they did. David Duke favorably invoked Trump's name, or brand, if you will, hoping that this protest was a turning point for the country.

"Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!"


"Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You're all among the best this nation produces."

One tweet came after the other. Three lives were lost. The above seems to imply that his depth of condolence changes. Three people are dead because of this atmosphere of hatred. Death is the deepest of tragedies. There is no level to it.

A quick note here: As ironic as this will sound, electronic communication is horrible for nuance.

Another small aside: Does anyone else find it a bit odd that a pro-white protest used tiki torches?

What am I to find, should I decide to spin records in Charlottesville, which I hope to? Will I see more dancers or will someone deem that I am part of the tragedy of diversity and try to harm me? My prayers go out not only to the families of the dead and injured, but also to those who stood up against the marchers.

However, I feel I cannot call myself a Christian if I didn't say this as well. I pray for the white nationalists, too. In the Bible, Saul persecuted Christians and instead of condemning him, God saw that he was fervent, but wrongheaded. He then became Paul and there can be no doubt that he became a true man of God. It is my prayer as well that someone among them will realize the error of their ways. I pray for Trump as well, since he is at the head of the country. I HAVE to. It's in the contract.

It's difficult, though. The atmosphere of this country has either changed, or it is merely being reported more than it was previously.  I do feel that it is either being fostered.

It needs to be ended. It needed to be ended in 1866.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Five Reasons to Miss Sharon Jones or A Beginner's Guide to Grief.

Why am I sad, as a music lover/collector/occasional musician about Sharon Jones? When you deal with older musics, you have several roads that you travel.

1. Wasn't _____ great?
2. Wasn't _____ overrated? You SHOULD be listening to ____!
3. ____ WOULD have been great if not for _____.
4. These new people remind me of ___________, but they aren't as good.

Number one is the most common. Number 2 is the stuff of much debate among crate-diggers, critics and some musicians. 3 is the stuff of biographical sketches and books. 4 is as well, and that encompasses the stereotype of the elders shaking their canes at the foolish youngsters.

Sharon Jones was number one. She was great. No, she wasn't the greatest singer, even in her own genre, but that does not detract from my point, especially since another talent, who also didn't have the best voice.

Sharon Jones was number one.

I've spent considerable time in my life collecting music. Over the years, you get used to disappointments. There are people that you cannot possibly see, folks that are a shadow of their former selves, talents that are still great, but neglected, people that are in your wheelhouse or pretend to be and are more popular than one feels that they should be, great work being done, but is buried by bad distribution and/or bad production, shifty management, mental issues and substance abuse.

I saw Chris Clark ("Love's Gone Bad") and while she looked great and she had a good time, her voice was shot. A friend of mine saw Thurston Harris at a mall, roaring drunk and not really able to perform. Eli "Paperboy" Reed was absolutely chewed up and spit out by Warner Brothers in their quest to find the male Amy Winehouse. I would have paid any amount of money to watch Guitar Slim enter a club riding on the back of another musician, playing his axe with an extra long cord. The Misunderstood's "Before the Dream Faded" is a document of a superior band that left behind amazing music and resulted, at the time in only ONE issued 45.

You can't say any of this about Sharon Jones. She had a good and sympathetic label, good production values on her recordings, good writing, a fine voice and an energetic stage show and national exposure. Songtracking has become something of an art nowadays. I heard "Black Monk Time" by the Monks in a Powerade commercial, "Who Knows?" by Marion Black was used in an episode of "Weeds". However, imagine my surprise and the elation of my internal cheerleading squad when I heard Jones and the Dap-Kings' version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land".

I am of a certain age. I know full well that Jet Magazine used to list shows in which we made appearances. We NEEDED to see Black models because we needed to be told that we were aesthetically pleasing and worth something. Heck, I remember when it was just nice that we lived through a movie or a TV show. As of this writing, there is a Black President. Jones' achievements are muted somewhat by that, (for extremely good reasons!) but it cannot be stressed how big and significant Jones cultural contributions are.

The music scenes I deal with are quite esoteric and can even be quite catty. This person should be bigger, not this one, because they play the real whatever-it-is. This person/band is a carbon copy of that one. Their compositions are derivative, etc.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings were quite rare. ALL of the elements came together:

1. They started well and got better album after album. At no time do you hear dilution or impending commercialism detracting from their sound.

2. The songwriting was top notch and MAN, did it sound good. There are few fussier about production values than myself. It's almost always better to see a group like this live, but their recordings are quite vibrant and a very just document of their legacy.

3. Daptone Records are easily obtainable and their roster is nothing to be sneezed at. Charles Bradley, Saun and Starr or Naomi Shelton are worth a listen.

4. She appeared on David Letterman's show, Conan O'Brien's show and she even was set to perform at the White House last month, which she had to cancel, due to pneumonia. She was a success, with decent album sales and YouTube views in the millions.

5. No less than James Brown gave her his blessing. In the documentary "Miss Sharon Jones" ("She warranted a D-O-C-U-M-E-N-T-A-R-Y!", go internal cheerleading squad, go!).

It was all in place. It was many of my dreams come true. I was glad that I saw her twice.

And now she's gone.

Bless you Ms. Jones. You showed us that it was possible. Thank you.

And that is why we should grieve.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Test Every Spirit. (1 John 4:1)

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

Congratulations. If you are able to read this, you have a computer and internet access. This means that the above applies to us even MORE than it did before.

For "right" or "wrong" reasons, Donald Trump has won the Nation's Highest Office. I was discussing the portent of this with a man who has studied politics in far greater depth than I and while he called himself a "Democrat with a small d" he said that he was casting his vote for Trump and he went on to list reasons why he would not vote for Hillary Clinton. When I brought up the lack of political experience, he brought up FDR's keen business sense and suggested that "experience" is overrated.

How do we categorize this? Was the last eight years so ruinous that it required a correction? Was it too much to ask of the country to back a Black man and then expect folks to elect a woman? Was it poor vs. rich? Urban vs. Rural?


For me, it all boils down to, "Hail the Conquering Hero" by Preston Sturges. The plot is that a soldier (Woodrow) comes back from the Marines, not from combat, but for medical reasons before he sees combat. To spare his Mother's (a war widow) feelings, some Marines build up a gallant story about him.

The "Hail the Conquering Hero" Theorem: "Politics is a very peculiar thing...If they want you, they want you. They don't need reasons anymore... they find their own reasons."

When we elected President Barack Obama, we elected not only a brilliant man, but we voted for a cool, telegenic African-American man and his brilliant (and equally telegenic) family.

When we elected President George W. Bush, it was, in part, a repudiation of the sexual politics of the previous President.

Now, we have President-Elect Donald Trump and an overwhelmingly "red" government to look forward to.

Personally, I may lose in this proposition. I am genuinely concerned about the future of my Health Insurance, for example. However, who are among the biggest losers in this race?

The print media. The Trump camp might say media, but Ernst Lubitsch once said that the advent of sound in pictures meant losses in the ranks of actors that couldn't speak, directors that didn't know how to do more than direct traffic and writers who thought they could get by without writing dialogue. Lubitsch also said, though, that producers didn't lose anyone and that was where the talent was.

The internet has given us GOBS of information, without necessarily expanding wisdom, but it and the advent of Craigslist, destabilized the financial foundation of many newspapers. A Presidential candidate just won and not only was he endorsed by only one newspaper, he was denounced by USA Today, which NEVER has endorsed any candidate before. Almost every major poll on either side of the political spectrum had him pegged as losing.

That's is, well, shall was say, huge.

We may lose some of these organizations. Who will survive and what will supplant them? At one time a poll was taken in the country and the most respected journalist was deemed to be...

Jon Stewart.

A man that had a comedy show based on current events. John Cleese, called it sad that there is a section of the populace that gets its news from "Daily Show"-type shows and I agree.

So, what do we do now? We do what I have said we must do in any situation.

Pray and act.

However, we must do what the Bible says to do, " not believe every spirit". We must learn to sift through information and find wisdom.

Pray and act.

We must tell our children that the level of discourse from this last electoral cycle does not represent this country at it's best. We must strive to be informed, for the devil is not in the details, he's in the glossing over.

Pray and act.

And to you millions who held their noses rather than vote, I hope you can face your ancestors with a good enough excuse as to why you didn't.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Taking the Ultrasonic Concept to a Logical Conclusion (Sadly).

This had to happen sometime.

Found in Translation

Gregorio Cortez.  A victim of racism and bad translation.
There are many online photos that poke fun at how language is mangled.  They can be funny, some are condescending.

How important is translation?  Gregorio Cortez was accused of stealing a horse.  He spoke no English.  When asked by a bad translator, "Did you trade for a horse?" he answered, "No", because the words for horse and mare are different.  What he was effectively saying in that "no" was, "I didn't trade a horse, I traded a mare." This one distinction led to a manhunt and lost lives.

There are some sites that make the world smaller.  I have an Italian pen pal.  She speaks no English and I speak no Italian.  Through Google Translate, we are able to communicate.

Take a look at this ad and continue reading after you've seen it.

In the spirit of fair play, let us see how Google vs. Elan pans out. This is a German paragraph about a band called the Rattles:
"Im Dezember 1960 wurden die Rattles in Hamburg von Achim Reichel und Herbert Hildebrandt gegründet. Am 3. Februar 1963 gewann die Band einen Wettbewerb im Hamburger Star-Club und wurde daraufhin die erste deutsche Band mit einem Engagement in diesem Club. Im Herbst desselben Jahres nahmen sie ihre erste Single auf. Danach ging die Band für fünf Wochen auf England-Tour mit Bo Diddley, Little Richard und den noch unbekannten Rolling Stones. "

Google says it means:

"In December 1960, the Rattles were founded in Hamburg by Achim Reichel and Herbert Hildebrandt. On 3 February 1963, the band won a contest in the Hamburg Star - Club and then became the first German band with a commitment to this club . In the autumn of the same year they recorded their first single . Then the band went five weeks England tour with Bo Diddley , Little Richard and the Rolling Stones still unknown."

Now, this is how Elan translates it:

"The rattles in Hamburg, Germany by Achim Reichel and Herbert Hildebrandt were founded in December 1960. On February 3, 1963, the band won a contest the star-Club in Hamburg, and became the first German band with a commitment to this club. In the autumn of the same year, they recorded their first single. After that, the band for five weeks on England tour went with Bo Diddley, Little Richard and the unknown Rolling Stones. "

RESULTS: Google did well with the first sentence, kept the date in the same order in the second sentence.  The last sentence is very stiff and misses a conjunction between "went" and "five".

Elan's first sentence is basically correct, but clumsy and they did not capitalize the Rattles' name.  They get the date in the proper format, but don't capitalize Star-Club and "won a contest the star-Club" makes no sense without an "in" that Google caught.  In the third sentence, Elan correctly puts a comma between "year" and "they". The final sentence has the same problem that Google did.  The Elan translator also knew enough to put periods in without spaces beforehand.

WINNER: (barely) Google.  I would have put it this way:

The Rattles were formed in Hamburg, Germany by Achim Reichel and Herbert Hildebrandt in December of 1960. In February 3, 1963, the band won a contest at Hamburg's Star-Club and became the first German band with a commitment to this club. That autumn, they recorded their first single. After that, they embarked on a five-week tour of England with Bo Diddley, Little Richard and the then-unknown Rolling Stones.

Yes, I changed the wording a bit, but if this were an audio book, which would you rather read?

Let's try Japanese.  This is from Cutie Morning Moon's page.  Both Google and Elan knew the text I put in was Kanji and did a translation.

Hopefully, you will see the original Japanese below:


ELAN: "In the middle of 72 years, was doing with Hiroshi and Haruo Yuya back. Vodka Collins of Godzilla and future members are working together, and I was.
Mickey Curtis and Monsieur back again doing the morning TV, daytime radio, night do live very busy days were. Then I'm only Monsieur back to do."

GOOGLE: "In the mid of 1972 , back of Yuya along with Hiroshi and Haruo also I was doing . We Godzilla and future members of the vodka Collins had been working together . Mickey Curtis and Monsieur is doing back another of the morning television , daytime radio , night is day busy enough to do a live there were many . Then I began to do only the back of Monsieur ."

Elan gets the date wrong and the first sentence is a mangle. The second sentence is also garbled, as is the third.  Google gets the date right, but the first sentence is bad as is the second and third.

I had to go the English version of this page to understand what was going on. This is what I believe it should say:

"In mid-1972, I was backing Hiroshi (Oguchi) as well as Haruo Yuya.  [The band] Godzilla and future members of the band Vodka Collins were working together.  Mickey Curtis and Monsieur (another band) were working in morning television, daytime radio and between the days and nights there was a lot of live work to be had.  I went back to playing with Monsieur."

WINNER: Neither.  Google gets a slight nod for a coherent sentence fragment, "...future members of the vodka Collins had been working together."

So, while Elan purports to be a better translator than Google, both have their faults and you cannot beat the human touch.  At least not yet, you can't.  The Elan ad is funny, but not truthful.