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So I took a longer vacation than I thought.  I'm still at home, but I haven't touched my computer for days except to look at e-mail in a half-interested sort of way.  I hope you all had a good holiday, and for those of you who are members of the present-giving and -getting religions, I hope you made out like bandits.

I got something from an unexpected source; American Express sent us an i-Pod Shuffle as a thank-you for spending ridiculous amounts of money using their card this year (not a good thing in and of itself, mind you).  It's very pretty (silver), and while I am light years behind everyone else in terms of updating my technology, I did manage to get it loaded and am listening to it right now (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Brompton Oratory).

For the record, it took me a day and a half to work out how to get my cds onto the dam thing.  Yes, five hours of it was the excruciatingly slow download speed of my computer, but most of it was me being even slower.  I don't read directions well (or at all, says Bob), and I am not the most patient of people when it comes to new technology.

You may all laugh like loons at my expense now, I don't mind.

After swearing a lot, I has musics.  And very nice it is, too.  But it wouldn't be like me to enjoy this thing without coming up with several reservations and telling you all about them (while listening to They Might Be Giants, Birdhouse in Your Soul).  Nothing is without philosophical problems, and being who I am, I keep working until I ferret them all out and fret mightily about them.

Just think of me as your own personal Andy Rooney (with much cheaper graphics than 60 Minutes).  More hip, perhaps, younger, undoubtedly, but old fashioned, mistrustful of technology, and twenty times as cranky.  We both look at new things and think "where's the disaster?", and I bet he really loves that bit in The Towering Inferno where the newest technology (or any technology) fails as much as I do.

Which brings us to the i-Pod, in any form.  Most of us have used music occasionally to set the mood, and I think pretty much everyone appreciates a well-composed and utilized movie soundtrack (I am partial to the new Dawn of the Dead soundtrack - Johnny Cash, The Man Comes Around).  Given the opportunity to live our lives to a personal, 24/7 soundtrack, tailored to our every mood, why resist the temptation to plug in, switch on, and tune out the real world?

And here's where the redoubtable Mr. Rooney and I twist our knickers in completely different directions.

Andy (who has an eternal grudge against the young) (which, compared to him, is now 98% of the world's population), when faced with any isolating technology of this type, will grumble about how it makes people selfish, that they don't pay attention to the world around them, and will get run over the next time they fail to use any of their other senses and try to cross a busy New York street against the light.  He'll snark about how they don't care about birdsong, the sound of the seashore, and the dulcet tones of their parents telling them to clean their room.  For good measure, he'll throw in the information that a generation of i-Pod users are going deaf because they play their music too loud.

All good arguments, assuming that a) you care about screeching city pigeons, b) you still live with your parents, and c) you like to blast your music so loud that individual ear cells start waving little "on strike!" signs in protest.

But as far as I'm concerned, what you choose to do to yourself is not my business.  If you want to shut out the world, then many poisons exist, from real drugs to WoW and Guitar Hero (wear earphones).  If you're not big on birdsong and waves lapping endlessly on a shore, then you're not missing out (or you can download the recordings from i-Tunes' new "Nature" section).  And if you go deaf, then I can practice my somewhat rusty sign-language skills on you.  No skin off my nose.

What doesn't work for me about the i-Pod is the singularity of the musical enjoyment.  Maybe it's because I'm a musician, maybe it's just that I like inflicting my musical choices on other people, but I want to share the experience of a beautiful piece of music.  For thousands of years, music has been a communal experience, something that draws people together in, well, harmony (not always perfect, but you can't choose your fellow musicians some of the time).  When I listen to a piece that makes my heart soar and brings tears to my eyes, I want to share that experience.  I want to see if Bob likes it, too.  I want to share this deep experience that only the perfect piece of music brings me.  When I dance with my husband in my new house on Christmas Eve, I want both of us to feel the beat with one heart.

The personal nature of the i-Pod denies me that moment; the one where the perfect song comes on the stereo, and we spontaneously start dancing in the sunlight.  The chance to harmonize with the melody; the moment when you simultaneously turn to each other and say "this song is AMAZING!!!".  If we're both sitting listening to our own music, we lose that connection.  For me, that's as big a loss as a bardic circle where no-one performs.

That's the romantic side; there's a darker side that is directly related to how big a fool of myself I'm willing to make in public.  Music is a total body experience for me; if it's a good melody, I want to sing or harmonize with it.  If it's got a good beat, I want to dance.  If everyone else is listening to the same tune, it's not as silly-looking or sounding.  While I am more than wiling to dance to my own personal music, I prefer to do it to a beat other people can hear, at least sometimes.  And singing without backup instruments is excruciating for other people to deal with (you know you do it, you just don't know how loud).

That being said, the i-Pod has distinct advantages, especially in public spaces.  You may think Pretty Ricky is the best thing since sliced bread, but personally, I want to smash any stereo playing it within moments of you hitting "play".  The i-Pod solves this problem for both of us.  The old Walkmans had pretty crappy earphones; if the sound was turned up louder than subsonic, everyone around you could hear every note.  The new earbuds seem to solve that problem somewhat.  And I like listening when I'm on my own doing embroidery; 8 hours of music and I never have to get up to change the cd, plus no songs I don't care for (for legal reasons, every cd has at least one song you can't stand).

I think it's a device for when I'm alone; when I'm with Bob (or anyone else), I'd rather be with them than remote.  Like talking on your cellphone instead of talking to the person you're with for hours, the i-Pod encourages one to value the input of technology rather than the input of living beings.  I still like it (Pet Shop Boys, Rent), but I'm inclined to use it sparingly.

Besides, I'm quite partial to birdsong.

And I have this great song I want to play for you...


( 15 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Dec. 31st, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
I am troubled by the decidedly solitary venue of enjoying music these days. While I enjoy music that doesn't enjoy top-40 airplay, I do miss the common experience of music that we all shared when I was young. Is it a coincidence that the music played at social gatherings tends to be older stuff that we all remember in common from the radio (before personal music systems separated us from everyone else)?

As for the I-pod, I don't have one...after spending weeks loading everything on my computer, I find that my truck is my I-pod, and my commute is the largest space of time I get to listen to anything.

Dec. 31st, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
You know, I don't think it's the advent of personal music systems that destroyed our common music experience. I think it was the decision of radio programmers to segment stations by target audiences. You can't turn on one channel and listen to a wide variety of music. You can hear "classic" rock, oldies, top 40, but you cannot hear a mix of it...
Dec. 31st, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
Radio really did make themselves stale and boring with limited playlists and automation to save money.... pretty foolish actually when you see how their audience went away when they found they could create their own personal playlists. Radio gave up their role of introducing their audience to new music in an effort to play it safe. Look up www.kpig.com , yeah it has a lot of alt/country and folk, but at least it is chosen by humans and I hear stuff I've never heard on them every day, especially good music that never cleanly fit into a catagory.
Jan. 1st, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
106.5 Charlie FM Trust me.
Dec. 31st, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
One last gasp before the old year dies (Song Title; search?)

One Song, Glory-Rent??

I have to say I love my i-Pod, but I spend tons of time on the road driving for work, so I just hook my baby up and transmit it over the car stereo. I also enjoy having the music availible to me on the Computer upstairs. That way when I am doing the "all-day-organizing" fest in the library/craft room, I have something to listen to for HOURS upstairs. And I can have my 50 hours of broadway musical soundtracks and not drive my hubby to suicide.. :)

Jan. 2nd, 2008 10:58 am (UTC)
Bingo. :) Paraphrased, so not as easy, but well done. You win internet cookies (or carrots, depending on your New Year's resolutions.
Dec. 31st, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
Hear! hear! on the not sharing part. My other problem is that I have no way to hook my iPod into my car stereo. I have the nifty iPod Touch - I NEVER would have bought this thing - I won it at work. I say I would never buy it only because these things cost serious money and burning a CD of music that I like is pretty darn cheap.
Anyway - what I wanted to say is that hubby bought some speakers for the iPod. They are tiny little things, but get the job done and were less than $20. It's a great option for when you want to share or when those earbuds start giving you a headache. (I had to buy the marshmellow buds bc the iPod ones gave me a headache every time.)
Dec. 31st, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
You could always get an ipod dock for when you are at home,


the benefit is external speakers, so all may hear, and you get to utilize the ton of music an ipod can hold so that you don't have to keep changing scratch-able CDs.
Dec. 31st, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
...and it's *pink*
Dec. 31st, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
I started to post a response, but when I got to the end the LJ interface told me that 8058 characters was well over the 4300 character limit... so I posted to my own blog instead.

So... nevermind. But if you want to read it, go ahead. If you'd like to read it and aren't already password-admitted, just drop me an email at KatTheStrange@aol.com... I had to password-protect it when my travel blog suddenly went very, very public.

Oh, and I love TMBG... Birdhouse used to be the song I'd play at the end of all of my radio broadcasts.
Dec. 31st, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
Way before iPods, back in ye olden days of LP records, I was of the "listen to music woefully alone in my room & be morose" gothic persuasion, so music has always been something of a personal experience. The only communal enjoyment was at dance clubs, which it still can be (if I were to drag my lazy old ass out of the house ;-).

So iPods are simply the same emo-experience writ in a tighter circle w/out having to annoy my parents/roommates/husband w/the continual drone of the Cure & the Smiths. Not that I do that these days, but y'know, when I get in that mood, I can pop on the earbuds. Actually, these days, I'm obsessed w/wacky podcasts, but that's another story.
Dec. 31st, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yep, I'm a Nerd
I love my iPod, but mostly use it at work and bopping around the Beltway to listen to free downloads of news programs.
Dec. 31st, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
I'm with you-a lot of the time I don't want my music to be personal, I want to share. So for Christmas my husband, who is the best man ever, got me both an iPod book box (where the iPod snaps in and plays through the speakers) and a dock for our home stereo. So I can share when I want to, and use headphones when I don't.

Dec. 31st, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
Being a technogeek, I've had an 80GB iPod since about fifteen minutes after they came out. We have a stereo with a dock at home, and actually I think my wife and I have heard *more* of each other's particular musical selections since we got them (she has one too) than we ever did before. Now when we're in the mood for some background music, it's just a matter of deciding whose biggest playlist to pop on. :D Having iPods has not made a dent in music being a communal experience for us. They are awfully groovy to have though when riding a train (having those white earbuds in is a remarkably effective sonic shield against random local crazies trying to strike up an unwanted conversation about their opinions of the health benefits of powdered beet), taking a long trip alone, or listening to much loved tunes that one's spouse considers preferable only to the sound of a dental drill. Oh and then there's video! Portable video rocks! \o/

I ♥ my iPod.
Jan. 1st, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
I love love love love my Ipod, no idea how I lived with out it.
I have my "Most Awesome Bag" which is a messenger bag like bag that is supposed to look like a jam-box. It has controls and speakers on the front of it and my I-pod slides into it and voila.
I almost always have it with me when traveling. I will have it at 12th Night if anyone wants to see it.
I also have an I-home which is an under-cabinet radio in my kitchen. It plays AM/FM, the audio from any TV station it can pick up (I get the 4 networks) and it has a slot to slide the I-pod into. It keeps me motivated when I am doing something horribly boring, like cleaning my fridge.
My MIL gave me a small set of speakers as a stocking stuffer this year that is about the size of a tube of lipstick and plugs into the earphone jack. AND my Scion has an I-pod jack for the stereo.

So yea, its the ultimate in portability, before I had a floorboard full of CDs, never could find what I wanted to listen to. Now I have my entire music library in one place and I can share music with anyone at anytime.
( 15 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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