December 9th, 2004


I'm all muzikal.

I finally gave in and downloaded Itunes, and now I'm archiving all my music CDs on my computer. I'm doing this for a bunch of reasons. For one CDs are fragile and I don't take the greatest care of mine, so it's probably a good idea to save the data somewhere. There's also the danger of loaning stuff out to people. I lent one of my favorite CDs, Sublime's self-titled one, to a friend and he never returned it. I wish I had archived it before lending it out since it'd be nice to be able to listen to it from time to time. Another reason is, of course, convenience. It's nice to be able to listen to a song without popping in the particular CD it's on, and of course to be able to switch around between various songs without changing discs. Sometimes you just want to listen to Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" followed by "Anything You Can Do" from the Annie Get Your Gun soundtrack followed by some Frank Zappa, then some Kid Rock, and end with some Springstein. Okay, maybe YOU don't, but I might! Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's the 'mixing it up' factor. I've mentioned before how I tend to be very conservative with my music choices, often not listening to certain songs or albums just because I'm not ready for any new input at a given moment. Well I don't mind ARCHIVING some of the unlistened music and I'm hoping that once it's in the system I'll be more willing to actually listen to some of it. I need time to warm up to things and this might help. It certainly can't hurt.

I like Itunes in a lot of ways. The interface is very clean and efficient, the ability to archive music into non copy protected MP3s is appreciated (not because I want to be sharing it all over town but just because I'd like to be able to switch it between hard drives and computers without worrying about a counter.) It has a very extensive database of track listings and the like to draw upon, so far none of my CDs has gone unrecognized, and it's highly customizable. That being said there are some things I find irritating about it, chief among them being the genre tags. We can start with the "Alternative & Punk" tag. Whoever thought this one up obviously doesn't like music much, because the category is so ludicrously broad as to make it virtually useless. Any time you can put Rage Against the Machine and Dashboard Confessional in the same musical category something has gone horribly wrong with your archiving system. I have very eclectic music tastes but even I don't consider Fountains of Wayne and Limp Bizket to be in the same genre, even if I can appreciate both. Limp Bizket isn't even alternative OR punk anyway, if anything it's "Commercial crap" or "Rap/Metal fusion." If Limp Bizket is Alternative what's it an alternative to?

That brings up another issue, which is that the tags seem to be applied almost at random. Why is Ben Fold's Five rock music but Smash Mouth is alternative? It's just weird that a program that seems so well designed for music lovers would have an archive with this kind of weirdness in it. It also has a very limited view of what qualifies as "Metal," but the Metal/Rock divide has always been unclear so I'll let that one slide.

I don't mean to come off as some sort of super-anal guy who cares primarily about the labels of the music I listen to, because I'm not, but if you're going to have categories you might as well be specific and accurate. I presume the genre labels exist so that people can sort their music based on type and listen to whatever type they're in the mood for. How many people think to themselves "Gee, I'm really in the mood to listen to some R.E.M. OR some AC/DC right now." (Both are in the "Rock" category.) I'm going to hazard a guess and say not many. I've seen other programs that have neither the popularity nor the commercial value of Itunes divide music up into many more categories, sometimes excessively specific categories (R.E.M. was put under jangle-pop, whatever the heck that is). I prefer that to the sweeping catchalls of Itunes, although I think the ideal would be to have a big category and a sub-category, the best of both worlds. Specificity is important too, I know that Itunes can't hire someone to listen to and genre select every album out there but there should be an easy interface to lodge a complaint about a genre selection and they could let the user base sort it all out. I'm pretty sure that the Itunes population at large would not put Barenaked Ladies under Folk. Until that happens I'll just have to sit here and pretend that I agree that Alice in Chains and Spin Doctors reside in the same musical genre.

Oh, and it puts Frank Sinatra under "80's Music" while Randy Newman goes under "Pre-1950s" stuff. Jimi Hendrix goes under 1990's, despite the little known fact that he died in 1970 and did very little performing after that. It's not perfect, that's all I'm saying.

In more personal news I'm still doing basically okay, still frustrated with how I'm doing, basically just muddling by. I feel okay with my progress despite its limitations, mostly because I think that my internal advancement is proceeding at a breakneck pace even if the results aren't clear on the outside. I'm doing a lot of thinking, watching less TV, and motivated in ways I haven't been before. Life transformation takes time, and I can't expect to become who I want to be in a day or a week or a year or a decade. Progress is what counts.

On Wednesday while lunching with my boss at a Korean restaurant I saw the most beautiful girl sitting in the booth behind him. I couldn't focus on our conversation, which was about important issues, because she was so fucking distracting just sitting back there eating and talking with her friends. I'm never sure what it is about these women that I find so striking. I don't think she was the sort who most people would think of as drop dead gorgeous but there was just something about her, the way her eyes moved, the shape of her face, her dark hair, I don't know. I've been accused of falling prey to striking beauties with alarming frequency, and while I don't believe that to be the case it is interesting to me when it does happen. I could talk about the feelings of inadequacy and shame it brings up in me, but frankly why bother? I've been through those literally dozens of times. Instead I'll just say that I'm sorry for people who are NEVER struck by the beauty of a gorgeous female, because it's an experience that can't be matched. I've been to many places in the world and seen some of the great sights, from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to the Coliseum in Rome. Let me tell you that a truly beautiful woman beats them all, hands down, no questions asked.
  • Current Music
    Jane's Addiction

Eeks addiction

On second thought this music archiving thing could get very addictive very quickly. It's already 4:15 AM and though I slept some earlier I didn't intend to be awake past 2:00. I had to get over a thousand songs on my computer first though, and then I was in the middle of listening to something and making play lists, and well you know the story I'm sure. For someone like me who LOVES experimentation and mixing things up this could become a real issue, as I wonder "What would happen if I followed Led Zeppelin with Bing Crosby and led into Weezer and then Randy Newman's 'Leave Your Hat On'" (the answer is, of course, a beautiful collection of sounds.)

On the plus side I'm really looking forward to burning some exercise CDs with this, which should help my health in the long run. With this program I can make sure that I get ONLY upbeat songs that get my blood pumping from a wide variety of artists.

Dyna-Moe Humm is a really fun song. I could make some broad sweeping statements about how pop culture was so much more creative way back when or how this song could never be played on the radio today and thus might not find an audience, but who cares? It's everything a pop song should be. Catchy, fun, dirty, and singable. Frank Zappa is just the sort of offbeat musician that I appreciate and I think it's too bad he's starting to be forgotten. Not everything he did worked, but the stuff that did? It's sheer bliss.
  • Current Music
    Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Hitler and Bill Clinton shared at least one thing in common: They both loved saxophone music.

I only got two hours of sleep last night. I think my mother has some sort of actual device that tells her when someone has gone to bed late so she can bang around early in the morning in an attempt to wake them. I think it's a small wrist mounted thing that beeps whenever she could be waking someone. She likes to call at 7:30 AM when I've been out late too. It's really quite remarkable. The army should hire her for interrogations.

In other news I've discovered an ITunes genre classification so clever that I can only tip my hat to it. Someone classified one of my Wagner CDs as JAZZ. That's right, when asked what genre music by one of the most famous Romantic Opera composers, a man who died well before the 20th century and whose racist viewpoints are widely known (I expect rpeate to demand proof) someone responded Jazz. I'm going to choose to view this as a joke by some clever lad who wanted to remonstrate against the views of the famous composer by lumping him in with an art form invented and perfected by people he would have found distasteful. I'm going to do this because to do otherwise would leave me weeping on the floor over the state of my generation, and I don't have time for that. I'm sorry to be writing so much about ITunes, really I am, but it has been a long time since I've seen this much disinformation and foolishness concentrated in one place, especially a place that is otherwise an example of competence and at least adequate design. There've been like 10 TV shows that have made the "Tivo thinks I'm gay" joke but I've yet to see anyone talk about the fact that ITunes thinks Wagner is Jazz. Personally I think it's easier to make incorrect assumptions about someone else's sexuality then to think that a composer wrote music in a genre that didn't exist while he was alive (and that he most certainly did NOT progenerate.) That's just me I guess.
  • Current Music
    ITunes Party Mix- Party at my place you bring the wine spritzers!