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Living in Chicago, by way of Dayton, OH and Havertown, PA. Contact me at atozpod@gmail.com.



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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thursday October 5th

Day 105, Session 34:
Location: I'm grumpy heading home. It's dark before I'm on the train. I'm home but have missed The Simpsons.
First song: Born Again by Badly Drawn Boy
Last full song: Bouncing Around the Room by Phish
Progress: 476-479 of 4424
Total Songs Heard: 406

Only managed to hear 4 songs today. Nothing particularly memorable either. I ended up being away for a few days after this. Went to Western Maryland for a friend's bachelor party. My friend Jon was introduced to his soon to be wife by their shared dry cleaner. That's pretty much the strangest, "how we met" story I've ever heard. (Seriously, beat that! Why hasn't someone developed that match-making dry cleaner into a TV series yet?)

While in Maryland we went clay shooting. You'd probably be surprised to find out I'm not much of a gun guy. We made it through 4 stations before I finally hit my first target. It was a tremendous feeling of relief when I finally hit a target. My brain had locked in on the idea that I was never going to be able to succeed. As the afternoon went on, I never got close to being good, but I did eventually get to the point of being semi-competent. Semi-competent felt really good when compared to the fear of complete failure.

What does this have to do with the songs of today?
The first time I heard Bouncing Around the Room was on a mix tape made for my housemates and I back in college after we entertained a few girls that were visiting one of our friends for a weekend. Even though the tape wasn't specifically for me, I had spent a lot of time that weekend with the girl who made the tape. At the time, I hadn't had anything even resembling a date for going on 18 months. Getting that tape made me feel semi-competent again and ended a long period of brain failure-lock. Semi-competent was so much better than complete failure.

In the end, I guess this story disconnects though... I don't have any plans to go shooting again any time soon. Too many bruises.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday October 2nd - Evening

Day 102, Session 33:
Location: Once again leaving work after 6 what the fuck? Riding the train home.
First song: Body by The Presidents of the United States of America
Last full song: Books Are Burning by XTC
Progress: 464-475 of 4424
Total Songs Heard: 402


Boo Time by Moxy Fruvous was song number 400. After taking 50 days to get from song 200 to 300, it only took 18 days to get from 300 to 400. That is a much better pace. For more numerical breakdown, please see the previous post.

One of my favorite things when buying a new cd is finding out that there is bonus music included. It's one of the things that just doesn't translate as well when downloading music over the intranets. When you're downloading music you see every track that being sent your way. But when you buy a cd, there's always a chance that the first time you listen to it, you'll be completely surprised by a song that does not appear on the track listings. (Obviously this doesn't apply if the first time you listen to a cd, you're using your computer to listen to it. Seriously, try your new cd in a stereo first,
or better yet, listen to it in the car on the way home. Either way, quit ruining the surprise!)

I was a little disappointed that there turned out to be only 3 different songs in my library titled Bonus Track. Although I guess most musicians name every song, that way, if they release more than one cd with a bonus track, they'll know which song to play in concert. If the set list just said Bonus Track it could lead to total musical anarchy if everyone in the band started playing a different song (although I also think this would be kind of cool.)

Here's the three Bonus Tracks I heard:

by the Bogmen - The Bogmen were great because I think I was the only one in my group of friends who liked them at all. "Life Begins At 40 Million" was in heavy rotation in my person collection in 1996. I saw them open for Barenaked Ladies in Cincinnati in spring 1996. We got there kind of late, so all I really remember was seeing their lead singer spinning around and around and around during the last song of their set. For some reason, that was enough reason for me to take a chance on their cd. Bonus Track seems to fit exactly what a bonus track should be, a 51-second instrumental that sounds like an outtake pulled from the studio recordings. It would have been kind of pointless to include as its own track because it doesn't fit into the rest of the cd. But I think the band realized how much fun the track was and wanted to let fans in on it too.

by Jackopierce - There are 2 or 3 Jackopierce songs I like. This isn't really one of them.

by Wally Pleasant - Could have been titled Sunday Morning. Just guitar, banjo and Wally singing about that feeling you have on Sunday morning when you wake up and realize that for a few more hours you can take a step back from the world. It's true too... for those few minutes on Sunday morning responsibility is nil. Your #1 option is
to just stay in bed. A few hours earlier and you're trying to live up the freedom of Saturday night. A few hours later, you're perilously close to Monday and having to start all that shit again. But Sunday morning, you can just lay there not worry about anything for a little while.

Man, I really want to go back to bed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Monday October 2nd - Morning

Day 102, Session 32:
Location: From my front door to the train to the desk through hour one of the work week.
First song: Bleed To Love Her by Fleetwood Mac
Last full song: Body by Bush
Progress: 442-463 of 4424
Total Songs Heard: 390

To mark the first 100 (and 2) days, it's time for a statistical breakdown:

Number of songs I've counted myself: 390****
Number of songs iTunes says I've listened to: 396*
Average number of songs heard per day: 3.9
Listening sessions: 32
Average number of songs per session: 12.1
Number of files** on the iPod on day 1: 3925
Number of files on the iPod now: 4424
Number of files added in the last 100 days: 499
Average number of files added per day: 4.99
Average progress per day: -1.09 files***
Estimated completion time: Never if I'm adding music at a faster rate then I'm listening!

*I'm going to stick with my count, because going back to figure out where I made counting mistakes is too much trouble.
** "Files" on the iPod represents everything, songs, podcasts, videos, whatever else they count. I'm hoping I have not added more than 389 songs.
***This rate doesn't really alarm me, I don't think I've added that many songs. Plus these first 100 days were plagued with long listening delays (moving and laziness mostly.) I think over the next few weeks we'll see tracks per day increase greatly.
****I realized just now (the day after this was originally posted) that my math was off just between this post and the last one. Once upon a time I was good at math.

Most commonly heard artists:
Moxy Fruvous - 23
Barenaked Ladies - 18
Simon & Garfunkel - 16
They Might Be Giants - 13
Badly Drawn Boy - 12
Ben Folds Five - 11
Ben Folds - 9
Rufus Wainwright - 8
Sufjan Stevens - 8
Toad the Wet Sprocket - 8
The Jayhawks - 7

The only one on this list the least bit surprising was Simon & Garfunkel.

About today's songs: Bleed to Love Her is from "The Dance" a live reunion concert that Fleetwood Mac put together some time in the late '90s. I really didn't care at all for Fleetwood Mac until one fateful night my senior year of college. At the time "the wife" was just "the roommate of the girl I had briefly dated that summer." In fact, she was dating someone else at the time. In the course of the summer we had grown pretty close and I had been hinting in the best possible way (broadly) that perhaps we should date instead of her and this other guy.

This particular night I had decided to go to bed early (which was 100% different than every other night in college when I partied til dawn.) About 30 minutes after I had decided to go to sleep there was a knock at my door, and who should appear but "the wife." Apparently she and the other guy had broken up earlier that evening and she was kind of upset about it. We ended up talking for a few hours until she eventually fell asleep lying next to me in bed. While she was able to sleep, I couldn't sleep at all. The adrenaline from the combination of excitement and confusion was way too much to allow me to sleep.

Early the next morning, "the wife" got up and went home to finish sleeping in her own bed. I still couldn't sleep, so I turned on the tv. The only non-church/non-infomercial thing on that morning
(it was Sunday) was VH1 showing "The Dance." I sat up through the entire hour of Fleetwood Mac and, no doubt aided by my super awesome frame of mind, greatly enjoyed the whole thing. That specific turn of events gives Fleetwood Mac a special place in my mind.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Friday September 29th - Evening

Day 99, Session 31:
Location: Since it was Friday night I was obviously taking the train home before a night of wild partying.
First song: Black & White by Sarah McLachlan
Last full song: Bleecker Street by Simon & Garfunkel
Progress: 429-438 of 4413
Total Songs Heard: 378

John Mayer is at it again.

So I "heard" two different songs today called Blank. One was "by" Wilco and it exactly matched what you expected from a song titled Blank. It was 25 seconds or so of silence.

The second song called Blank was by one Mr. John Mayer. You may remember him from an earlier post where he brought his guitar to a party so that he could eventually hit on your girlfriend. The theory established in that post was that you can't trust John Mayer. You can probably guess where this is going. Here, in it's entirety, is John Mayer's version of Blank.

John Mayer, what the hell is wrong with you? You can't even stop playing your damn guitar for 4 seconds! How am I supposed to trust you not to hit on my girlfriend when you can't even quit playing your damn guitar for 4 damn seconds!? Be on the look out for this guy people, he's a liar and he wants everything that's yours.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday September 29th - Morning

Day 99, Session 30:
Location: The only good morning to head to work... Friday!
First song: Bittersweet by Moxy Fruvous
Last full song: Black by Pete Yorn
Progress: 420-428 of 4413
Total Songs Heard: 368

9 tracks - 6 of them by Fruvous. 5 of them related to the song BJ Don't Cry (seen in an earlier post as B.J. Don't Cry.) Apparently back in October of '98 (while I was still in college, so a long time ago, sigh) Fruvous did an entire set during a show in Massachusetts where every song was preceeded by a narration of a different part of BJ's trip. Trip to where? I'm not sure exactly. I've tried downloading the rest of the show through the magic of the intraweb but I haven't been able to find an active seed. But just the fact that they were willing to put on a show that was part concert, part audience participation story-time gives you another pretty good idea of why I loved those guys. By the time this project is done we're all going to be sick of me continuously supplying reasons why I loved Fruvous and why I'm sorry they're on (permanent) hiatus.

A welcome to anyone who ended up here from a link on my new account at facebook.com. That's right, facebook now allows old people to sign up for accounts, and since half my sisters are active there I thought I'd sign up so I can keep tabs on her.

Also, welcome to anyone who ended up here after using Google to look for "zip gun plans." Um, you're in the wrong place, sorry for the confusion.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thursday September 28th

Day 98, Session 29:
Location: On the train, leaving work late. Why am I leaving work at 6:30?
First song: Bingo Addict Grandma by Wally Pleasant
Last full song: Bitter Boy by Truck Stop Love
Progress: 413-419 of 4413
Total Songs Heard: 359

I've updated the template around here. The last one was beginning to look a little too... blue. I think this looks cleaner and is hopefully easier on the eyes. If you have an opinion on this change, or there's something else you'd like to see on the page, please use the comments section.

Birdhouse in Your Soul, from "Flood" by They Might Be Giants is one of my all-time favorite songs. I'm not sure why exactly, the lyrics don't make a whole lot of sense. I only know that whenever I hear that song I end up feeling happier for the 3:20 it's on. Well, almost all of the 3:20. When I first got "Flood" I owned it on cassette, which meant most of the time I was listening to it in my car. Just over half way through the song, there's a car horn that plays. Every time I was listening in the car and got to that part of the song I'd hear the car horn and immediately scan all mirrors to make sure I hadn't just cut someone off or run over a kid or something. If I had been crossing the street when this song came on I would have whipped my head around nervously at the horn. Lots of time in high school was spent driving here or there, always with a destination in mind. We weren't the types to 'cruise' we just happend to be lucky enough that 2 or 3 in our group had cars which meant lots of driving around singing along to tapes.

The only thing I miss about tapes is the mix tape. There's nothing wrong with the mix cd, but the mix tape gave you more time for music, and 4 different opportunities for statement songs (the first and last of each side.) I made mix tapes very rarely, but when I made them, they were very good. I had to have a specific reason to make one (almost always meaning "I needed a girl to make them for.") I've meant to go back and attempt to recreate some of those tapes on cd, but it wouldn't be the same.

Bitches Ain't Shit by Ben Folds is part of my continued love for rap songs that aren't performed as rap songs (see also the previously mentioned Back, Baby Got by Jonathan Coulton.) I'll put together a mix cd for you once I've got enough tracks to fill it up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Monday September 25th - Evening (right before napping)

Day 95, Session 28:
Location: For the first few minutes of the ride home, before falling asleep.
First song: Billie Jean Medley by Moxy Fruvous
Last full song: Biminy by Hello Dave
Progress: 398-401 of 4316
Total Songs Heard: 352

Once again sacked out on the train on the way home. I only remember 4 tunes before the sweet sweet rocking of the train put me to sleep. From all the times I fall asleep on the train (you know, 2 so far) you may think that I have some sort of crazy sleep disorder. That's not the case at all. It's just that I desperately cling to the hours of the day when I'm not working. For me, work time is any time that I'm not free to do what I want. So yes, technically my work day runs from around 9:15a until around 5:45p. But in my mind, my work day begins the first time the alarm goes off in the morning and I'm fighting the battle of snooze (around 7:15a) until the moment I step off the train on the way home (usually around 6:20p.) The entire 11 hours and 5 minutes in between there is all devoted to getting myself ready to go to work, being at work, or getting home from work. 11 HOURS!!! Almost half my day. Leaving only 13 hours left for play. In order to maximize those hours I tend to stay up later than I should and get less sleep at night than I should. Even 6.5 hours of sleep a night (a good night for me,) cuts my play time in half. If sleeping for 20 minutes on the train (which is still technically part of the "work" part of the day and where all there is to do is read and sit and listen to music) gives me 20 more minutes play time from 1:00-1:20 AM at home (where I can be on the internet, play playstation, watch a movie and drink a beer... all at the same time!) then train sleeping is where it's at.

Seriously, think about that for a second:
24 hours in a day = 11 hours in "work" mode + 6.5 hours to sleep + 6.5 hours to play

And my work life isn't that bad. I could skim some time from the work hours by transferring some more to the sleep time in the morning. Plus I only have to work an 8.5 hour day and my job is tolerable. What about the people who hate their jobs or have a 3 hour commute or work 10 hour days?

No wonder so many people are unhappy most of the time. The people who are really happy are the ones that really enjoy their jobs and have a very short commute and don't need sleep.

In conclusion, lack of play time is fucking us all up! Play more! (Reading this counts as play unless you're at work.)

3 of the 4 songs I did hear today were Dayton related:
Billie Jean Medley is from a Moxy Fruvous concert at Canal St. in Dayton. A great night all around and one that I'm very lucky to have a recording of.

Biminy by Hello Dave was their most popular song when they would play at UD. Oddly enough they're a Chicago based band and I've seen them once or twice since I moved here, but it's never been quite as great as it was seeing them in college.

Billy & the Mystery Box is a song by Heywood Banks. Heywood is a touring comedic singer and a really nice guy. I met him several times during my Dayton radio days. I feel a little bad about having this song though. Apparently when I was cleaning out my desk at Z93 after getting fired, one of Heywood's cds ended up in my box of possessions. I always meant to take it back, but after the whole firing thing, I really didn't want to show my face around there again. Which was really too bad. Except for the peckerhead boss who fired me, I really liked almost everyone else who worked there, but after that morning I only spoke to one of them again (and I haven't heard from him in years.) My time at Z was the happiest I've ever been working, probably because being an on-air radio personality was a lot like playing all the time. I loved my job and my commute was short.

I still needed sleep though, so I guess it wasn't perfect.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday September 25th

Day 95, Session 27:
On the train and at my desk at work.
First song:
Between Song Banter by Moxy Fruvous
Last full song:
Bikers by Ben Folds Five
379-397 of 4316
Total Songs Heard: 348

The wife and I recently became homeowners for the first time. In a development that I'm sure will shock anyone who has owned a place before, not everything has gone smoothly. Turns out our basement takes on water. Yep, takes on water through one of the walls despite the previous owner signing a document saying the basement had never taken on water, and an inspector looking at the walls of the house and saying "no water here." Seeing the water come flooding into our bathroom immediately filled me with two thoughts:

1) This is America, we'll sue! Surely between the previous owner and the inspection company someone should have been up front/noticed the whole water in the basement thing. Sadly, according to our lawyer, unless the cost of fixing the problem is huge, we're basically SOL and should chalk this up to the costs of being a home owner. Personally I think that is bullshit, but I don't have any sort of lawyerin' background, so we're kinda forced to take his word for it.
2) We abandon the house and move! Sure financially this is a horrible idea. I'm pretty sure we're still on the hook for the place even if we do abandon ship. One of today's songs however gave me an idea of where we could go. Before we do take this radical plan, I thought it would be best to come up with a list of pros and cons for moving to Big Rock Candy Mountain. (BRCM from here on out.)

One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was burning
Down the track came a hobo hiking and he said boys I'm not turning
I'm headin for a land that's far away beside the crystal fountains
So come with me we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
Con- "A land that's far away" - we live about a 6 hour drive from the parents now, it'd be nice to live a little closer to family. A land that's far away sounds farther away.
Pro- "
beside the crystal fountains" - Crystal fountains sound nice, would probably raise local real estate values making eventual resale easier.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains there's a land that's fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars are all empty and the sun shines every day
On the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees
Where the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Pro- "land that's fair and bright" - Assuming they're talking about the weather, who could complain about fair and bright?
Pro/Con- "handouts grow on bushes" - Less panhandlers is good, but I'm not sure how the larger ramifications of a bush based economy would work.
Con- "you sleep out every night" - I like sleeping indoors.
Con- "the boxcars all are empty" - It sounds as though there may be bandits on the way to BRCM which are robbing the boxcars. May also indicate mafia presence in town. Either way, someone was waiting for what was supposed to be in those boxcars, now it's gone.
Pro- "and the sun shines everyday On the birds" - Again, sunshine is good, and who doesn't like birds.
Con- "and the bees" - I've long been an advocate of bee eradication. Bees in BRCM allows the eventuality that those bees will cross breed with Africanized Killer Bees. Nobody wants killer bees in their town.
Con- "
and the cigarette trees" - Smoking is gross.
Pro- "
Where the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings" I like singing bluebirds and, while I'm not a huge lemonade fan, who could argue with lemonade coming straight from springs? Unless you're worried about the potential soil instabilities that the root systems of an underground crop of lemon trees could cause, then this could be a Con.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft boiled eggs
The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay
Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Con- "In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs" - With the previously alluded to crime problems in BRCM and the surrounding area, I'd like able bodied cops around should problems arise.
Con- "
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft boiled eggs" - I've never had any problems with bulldogs so I see pulling and replacing their teeth to be unnecessarily cruel. Soft-boiled eggs? First of all yuck, I prefer fried or scrambled. Second, I'm assuming if the eggs come out pre-soft-boiled I wouldn't be able to use them in recipes. What if I want to bake brownies or make a cake?
Pro- "
The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay" Nothing wrong with either of these things.
Con Con Con- "
Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow" - What?? I was all for the general nice weather in BRCM, but this is going too far. I like the occasional rain, and I love a nice snowstorm every once in a while. I like my life with seasons. If I wanted warm and sunny every single day, I'd move to Arizona. I suppose the fact that the wind don't blow makes it very difficult for different weather fronts to move in.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Con- "In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks" - I'm all for being lazy about socks but after 3 or 4 days mine really start to stink. Mulitply my sock stink by the population of BRCM... ewwww.
Pro!- "
And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks" - Holy shit. Alcohol streams? The strongest pro-BRCM argument yet.
Pro/Con- "
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind" - Polite brakemen, good. Blind bulls near the railroad tracks, possibly bad for both train and bull.
Pro- "
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too" - When I was kid I didn't much like stew, but now I occasionally will indulge in stew. When I was a kid I liked whiskey. Now I love it and indulge as often as my liver will allow.
Con- "
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe" - I don't think paddling a canoe through my dinner and after dinner drink is particularly sanitary.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin
And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in
There ain't no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picks
I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Con- "In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in" - With the obvious crime problems in BRCM we'll need strong jails to keep the criminals in. Add in the quick and easy availability to alcohol and you'll also need some strong drunk tanks to allow folks to sleep it off. Tin jails serve neither of these purposes. These rampant crime issues should more than offset any property value bumps from the crystal fountains.
Pro- "
There ain't no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picks" - As long as they still have the internet, I'm ok with the lack of hand tools.
Con- "
I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day" - Another sad wave at the fact that I'm getting older. Once upon a time sleeping all day seemed like a fine idea. Now, I want to spend as little time possible sleeping. There's too much playing to do to spend all day in bed.
Pro- "
Where they hung the jerk that invented work" - Working is teh suck and interferes more with playing than sleep does. I'm all in favor of hanging the guy who invented it.
I'll see you all this coming fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains
No, you won't. Upon further review, even with the current water in the basement problems, I believe I'm still better off staying in my current home. While it is tough to deny the BRCM pros of easy and easier access to alcohol, the cons of an unsustainable economic model as well as an apparent tolerance, even encouragement, of lawlessness make BRMC sound like a risky proposition for building a future.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wednesday September 20th

Day 90, Session 26:
Location: Wednesday morning at the desk.
First song: Believer by Ben Kweller
Last full song: Better Than It Was by Fastball
Progress: 362-377 of 4293
Total Songs Heard: 329

Number of the day: 5. 5 songs that started their title with the word "Better." Two of those songs were actually called Better.

Now I attempt to answer the question, which is the better Better?

by Clem Snide vs. Better by Jonathan Coulton (Available online here. Download it, it's totally legal!) Time for a best of 3 showdown!

What's it about?
Both songs are about a relationship. Clem Snide's song is about how two people in a relationship are better together. Coulton's song is about how he liked his girlfriend better before she bettered herself by having a bunch of cybernetic implants added. In other words, both pieces explore classic musical themes. I'm going to have to give a small advantage to the Clem Snide song because I haven't yet had the occasion to have a discussion with someone about their cybernetic implants.

Representative lyric:
Clem Snide - "Hours are like little rocks, stuck in your shoes. Ours is a love so strong, it'll see us through."
Jonathan Coulton - "
And you look like the victim of a surgical crime, a little Darth Vader, a little Optimus Prime. You used to be OK and I liked you that way, but I don’t think that I like you better"
Referencing Darth Vader and Optimus Prime? Advantage Coulton.

The music:
Clem Snide - By the end of the song it's a full fledged guitar/cello(!?!) break down. You wouldn't think it'd be possible to rock with a cello. This song proves otherwise.
Jonathan Coulton - Catchy guitar strumming, but it's the lyrics that drive this one more that the hook. Advantage Clem Snide.

So in this very scientific breakdown, it appears the better Better belongs to Eef and the guys from Clem Snide, but just by a bit. Unless I had to sing one of these at karaoke. Then I'm taking Coulton.