Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Seeing Eye to i(Pod)

(or, An Ode to Apple's Newest Baby, As Dear to Me as One of My Own (If I Had Any))

It's smaller than the palm of my hand. It's blue and has a nice soft brushed finish, with a smooth white clickwheel that makes the sweetest clacking sound when you use it, like marbles falling together in a soft bag.
It is smarter than I am.
Of this I am certain.
It certainly knows more music than I do.
Dad engraved the back with his e-mail and phone number, so no one wants to steal it now. I'm going to buy it a holster and some skins and even a cocoon so I can take it anywhere. But I'm always real careful when I take it somewhere; it's either in my ears where I can hear it (and feel it), or in my purse or pocket. I always check. I don't want to lose the most advanced piece of technology I've ever owned.
Still, I haven't really learned much about how to take music on and off of it. Dad and I put a lot of music on the new computer, but it's not all stuff I want to listen to. Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads, for example. Depressing and twangy, unpleasant to listen to. Grace Jones' "Slave to the Rhythm". Urgh. I gotta sit down with the tutorial CD and figure all that stuff out.
So what do I listen to? Well, I got a whole album of Dispatch, of Death Cab for Cutie, of ellipsis..., of Moloko, but it shreds my earbuds. So does M.I.A. Lots of classical, which is nothing but background noise for me. Good studying music, though. Must transfer to a different playlist.

iTunes will bankrupt me. The iPod holds 1,000 songs, and unbelievably, I've filled it to about 850 right now. Some of those are coming off for good (like the Grace Jones and the Jim Brickman piano sludge), and I'm going to put the classical on a separate "Music to Study By" playlist so I don't get a minuet every other time it shuffles the songs. But there's so much else I want! Show tunes, Led Zeppelin, more Death Cab, some good choral music--not to mention all the music i hope to educate myself about in Berkeley. Luckily for me, the editors/publishers of Dirty Linen live down the street. They're giving me lots of names and people to check out.
I love the shuffle feature. It makes listening to music a more active brain process, wondering what will come next and always feeling a little off guard.
Some people claim that their iPods have moods; that when they set it to Shuffle it seems to pick songs for a reason, not just randomly. I am convinced that this is absolutely true. The Apple people swear they ran all sorts of complicated formulae to make sure Shuffle was absolutely random, but I don't know. For sure, it will almost never play more than one song from the same album consecyutively, or even within a 10-song grouping. And if it were truly random, occasionally you'd get a perfect sequence of songs in an album, say, or alphabetical songs, or artists, or something, and I don't think that happens. And it raises all sorts of A.I./I, Robot-type questions about its little anodized brain.
Mine, for example, loves "Rebecca", as covered by the Ford S-Chords (it seems to love all the S-Chords songs, actually), my Arabic music album, ellipsis..., the Pyrates Royale, and amusingly, Garbage's "Androgyny". It also plays lots of classical, but that's because I have something like 180 tracks of that. Other songs, like Nina Simone's, never make it to my ears.
I love trying to figure out its little digital personality. I do worry for the state of my hearing, though. Between the already loud bus ride, the ambient office noise (especially the evil folding machine), and now the soundtrack injected straight into my aural cavities, I'm going to need a hearing aid before I'm 30.
The one thing I prefer about LiveJournal to Blogger is that at the end, you can put down your current music. If my life were a movie, the melancholy parts would have the Lost in Translation soundtrack's "Alone in Kyoto" overlaid on them, and the credits would roll to Nickel Creek's "This Side".


Cad Grublygold said...

Garbage is my favorite group………ya know……me being a bum an all.

Captain Chris said...

How to get out of the buying songs deal - get Ares, it's free and copyright infringementacular.