Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ear Candy

"Some more music courtesy Facebook's Apple Students group: "Stay" by Small Sins.

Now, mind you, this isn't music I'm getting now. It's music I downloaded two months ago, and am only finding now.

You see, when I plug my third-generation iPod into iTunes 7, the program kind of freezes in shock that I would be using hardware that old.

(Actually, it's because it's trying to determine if the 778 songs should be played gapless or not. I shudder to think what would happen if I had all 10 gigs of my collection on the player. Something involving smoke and fire, I assume.)

So Stay is sort of that happy alt/pop where the recording is intimate enough to pick up the singer's breathing and voice nuances. He sings in that hushed sort of hoarse loud whisper-but-not.

The kind of music that's cheery and happy and about love and life.

There's a bubbly arpeggio throughout the song that lends a lot to this feeling. That and the backup singers use their falsetto to chorus the lead with "you can stay if you want to."

All in all, you really only hear the arpeggio and the heavy boom-buh of a bass drum and snare. And now that I listen closely, the drummer's other hand is ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ing on a closed hi-hat.

It makes for a well-put together song, with a minimal amount of instruments. keyboard, trap and singer. Oh and the backup singers.

Check it out.

It's a shame that in this day and age people can't tell other people to go download this song or that song to listen to. The best you ge without committing to buy is a 30-second span someone somewhere decided was the part of the song you should hear in order to decide if you liked it.

May I recommend Pandora? Sure you can't buy the songs, but search for the song and -- usually -- Pandora will bring it up for you to listen to before departing on its magical voyage of discovery.


I think headlines are my favorite part of my profession.

Take, for example, this story about Britney Spears' divorce. The headline on Google reads "Brit Poised For Comeback; K-Fed Now Fed-Ex."

I love puns.

A restaurant in the area closed recently. The Victory opened in 1941 just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
So named to give its support and knowledge that the United States would prevail, it has served Hanover for like 68 years or something.

Sadly, it closed. Immediately, I suggested "Victory: defeat" as the headline (I think the one that ran was something like "Lost battle for Victory").
Also sadly, I have absolutely nothing to do with the headline process. As a general assignment reporter I keep my punny musings to myself. Or tell them to everyone around me.
Either way...

It took 'em almost 70 years, but the 'Japs finally won, as my grandfather would have said.

You see, he could get away with calling them that because one of them shot him in the head...

But you know, if I had the capital I'd rent the building and open a sushi bar.
Not because I particularly like meat and rice wrapped in seaweed and more rice, but because the delicious irony would make up for the fishy taste.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Compatibly Connectible

Hey so you have to love those commercials for Mercury, I think, where the guy and the woman are walking out of some office building, and he -- very dorkily, I might add -- has a pair of white earbuds draped over his shoulders, iPod in hand.

The woman says "we can take my car, you can plug that right in" and then the announcer (or maybe text flashes up on the screen, or both) says "iPod integration."

But then they get in the car, and, just like the Nissan Sentra and its slew of commercials featuring a John Heder-like dude who decides to live in his car for a week (Happily, of course, to allow a full film crew to "document." It's about as real as those sappy Coca-Cola commercials about "a group of friends who set out to make a movie."), he is presented with a stereo mini-jack to slap on his plastic-and-metal status symbol and rock away with the woman.

But wait, you ask. If the plug is all it takes to integrate your iPod, why do you have that silly white cord Apple put in the box? Oh yeah, for connecting the mp3 player to a computer.

There are cars that offer true integration. All of Honda's cars do, as well as other that escape my train of thought at this time.

The point is, those cars have software on-board to allow you to plug in the iPod and control your player through the car's sound system. In other words, not having to stare at a tiny LCD to navigate your playlist. Safer, yes. Apple-specific, yes.

Good, and bad (if you prefer any of the other mp3 players out there).

Sure, Mercury doesn't play favorites in that sense, but then why show an iPod in the commercial?

Well, for one thing, you aren't cool if you don't have an iPod. It's standard graphic design. Think back to your favorite television shows, and if those shows happen to be CSI: NY, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The West Wing, Sex and the City, How I Met Your Mother, and others I can't think of, then listen up.

Also pay attention if you watch TV at all.

Next time you watch, look at what computers are shown. Example: those annoying commercials with the Good Idea/Bad Idea guys.

The guy that wants to put a talcum powder ball on your notebook? PC
The guy that annoyingly suggests "Vehix TV, cool video test drives powered by wheels TV?" 12" Powerbook.

I just saw a commercial for Lexus, or something, that had a Mac in it. They don't display it prominently, but it's there.

Look at print ads as well. Nine times out of 10, if the ad isn't for computers or software, but it has a computer in it, it's a Mac.

CSI: NY has Macs at all the detectives' desks. Now come on. Who networks one department with brand-new Macs, and then integrates it with the PC-driven real world? No one. Set designers.

I won't deny Apple products are chosen often because they are just plain beautiful. They have the industrial design part of the business down to a big freaking T.

But with iPods its different. Sure it's 80% or whatever of the mp3-player market, but you cannot deny its a status-symbol.

Moral of the story? Don't confuse compatibility with connectivity. You can get any 15-year-old kid working at Radio Shack to install a sound system in your car that has an auxillary line you can connect to a stereo mini-plug and bypass the tape adapter.

Also, seriously look at all the shows you watch. Betcha there's a Mac in them.

Friday, November 03, 2006


To borrow from The Daily Show... (^).

So we've all been plagued by those ads featuring some old dude's shoes slowly stomping across some dusty floor while a voice tells us that black telephones = the man and the man is bad, and black telephones are a sign of our repression by the evil telecommunication companies or something like that.

The only problem with the ad is I can't really tell which side of the argument its on, and what it says doesn't quite make sense to me.

For the first time, I saw today an ad (I guess) from those evil telecommunication companies against (they say) evil Silicon Valley companies.
Like it's antagonist, this new ad doesn't really make sense as you watch it, and it kind of makes you wonder if this isn't some big joke.

The major difference is the ad rather blatantly directs its anger toward Google. It begins with "Do you feel 'Google'eyed about new telecommunications legislation?"

It then tries to tell you that by keeping the Internet free, it will cost YOU more. PITY the THOUGHT. Freedom costs something sometimes, and I would much rather pay a little more and get all my Web pages to load at comparable rates.

But I digress. Then the ad puts up a bunch of text in Google's signature font and signature basic colors.

Then it mentions "those evil silicon valley companies" and how they want to charge you for EVERYTHING. Oh no!

But wait, I find myself pondering, aren't all of Google's plethora of services free?? Why yes, Brendan, the voice inside my head affirms, they are free.

So when is Google trying to charge me money for what?
Their e-mail service? Nope. Free.
Must be the maps and directions. Oh wait, free.
Hey well what about the satellite images on those maps? Free.
Documents and Spreadsheets? Free.
News service? Free.
Well, they just bought YouTube, maybe that's it. Nope, YouTube is free, too.
The new application for checking your e-mail via mobile phone/PDA? Free.
Searching images is free, searching the Web is free. Hey, nowadays you can even create a custom search tailored to your specific interest and plop it on your site. But that doesn't cost money, either.

So with which bill, exactly, is Google trying to foot me?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


If you have a taste for bubbly, happy techno music (like Royksopp's radio-edit of "Remind Me," heard in the recent Geico commercial showing a caveman rolling down an airport conveyor), you should check out AGK's "Deeper" off their "The Liking of Things" album.

I think I got this song free from iTunes for being in the "Apple Students" Facebook group and redeeming some stupid coupon every week throughout September.

Actually, most of the music I got from that stupid redemption code (a slew of rap, hip-hop, alternative, rock and techno) is sort of like a radio station intermittently breaking through my iPod's songs to surprise me.

You see, 90% of the mp3s I own came from 2002-2003: freshman year. Napster had fallen the year before, Kazaa Lite still worked, and trading music digitally wasn't something about which college kids were worried.

ShipSearch was a great program, somehow taking everyone on Ship's intranet (i.e., anyone who plugged into the RJ45 outlets in the dorms, Seavers or Stone Ridge) and placing their shared folders in a searchable database. You search for a song, and browse the results. Grab what you want and it downloads amazingly fast.

Yeah, ShipSearch was great. Then the MPAA and RIAA started bison-hunting college kids for their participation in "music piracy."

That issue still gets me so mad. But another time...

Anyway, so I have a pretty good idea of what songs I have and what I'm used to, and what I've never heard.

The new music is kind of like a "hey, what's this?" moment. Which encourages me to use Pandora, and download more music I've never heard.

Of course, at 99 cents per song, iTunes isn't exactly the poor man's solution to building a 90,000-song music library.

But, at the risk of repeating Dwight, there's this Russian site where songs are only 2 cents a piece... Unfortunately, this Russian site is also under investigation by the FTC and what have you.

But I've never downloaded anything from there. I don't know what you're talking about, officer.

If your tastes run more toward techno infused with Duran Duran, check out "All This Love" by The Similou.