Reading and Music

I’ve been having a bit of a problem at home lately. They play music on Main St. now, for most of the day. They used to just do this around Christmas, but now they’re doing it all the time. They’ve got one set of songs programmed into the thing. It’s all basically soft rock, with a little jazz mixed in. Stevie Nicks, Seal, Sting, Sade, that kind of stuff. Lots of artists whose names begin with “S”, for some reason.

A few weeks ago, on a Monday night, the timer went wonky on it and it kept playing all night. Even with all the windows closed, and earplugs in my ears, I could still hear the music, and really couldn’t sleep at all that night. I (and at least one of my neighbors) called the police, but they didn’t know how to turn it off, or have contact info for anyone who could. (Supposedly, that’s been fixed if this happens again.)

While the music was bothersome before, this incident has reprogrammed my brain so that the mere hint of “Sweetest Taboo” (for example) starts to make me shiver and feel slightly nauseous.

This isn’t much of a bother on weekdays, since I only have to put up with an hour or two of it, between whenever I get home from work, and 8pm, when the timer (hopefully) turns it off. I’m generally watching the previous night’s Stewart and Colbert after work, so that drowns it out.

On weekends, though, I often like to sit around and read during the day, so this is a problem. I need to find some music I can listen to that drowns out the Main St muzak, but doesn’t distract too much from what I’m reading. I’ve been reading Zero History by William Gibson over the last week or so. I’m almost done with it. Yesterday, I used Fugazi’s Instrument soundtrack to down out the muzak. Today, I’m using turntable.fm, specifically the ambient/chillout and coding soundtrack rooms. I’ve discovered that I can get pretty good sound out of my iPhone by putting it in an old dock that I friend gave me a few years ago, and connecting that to my receiver via a mini-stereo to RCA cable, into the “tape” input. Previously, I’d just been connecting it by inserting the cable into the headphone jack, but the dock makes a big difference, for some reason.

I’ve really been digging Turntable.fm lately, by the way. This is one of those things that the internet is great for, but that usually goes wrong after a while. Right now, you can fire up turntable.fm, go into the right room, and there will be a few people with impeccable taste playing great songs for a crowd of maybe 50 or 100 people. No advertisements. No jokers coming in and playing Rick Astley. No spambots coming in and DJ’ing ads for boner pills. I’m not sure why it works, but I’m glad it does.

Also, about Zero History: good book! I’ve found that a number of things in it, sometimes just minor stuff, has sent me off to the internet to do a little research. Node Magazine and the Zero History blog have some good links. I’ve also found myself looking into Saharan guitar music and other odd stuff like that.

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