16 Apr 2010

From a book I'm reading ("The Oxford Book of French-Canadian Short Stories"): "You cannot reason with a woman when she in in full possession of her faculties, much less when she loses them."

I mentioned yesterday that I'm scanning (digitizing) photo album pages with my flatbed scanner. This would normally be drudgery except for the fact that I'm listening to old cassettes as I do it. From 1976 to about 2003 - 27 years! - I made mix cassettes of music and records I was listening to at the time; I used to listen to them in the car when I was driving. "Car tapes," I called them. When I drove home on weekends from Camp Pendleton my Dad used to ask, "Well, was this a one or a two tape drive?" It depended upon traffic.

I think I have nearly a hundred of car tapes, all easily accessible via an innovative storage system 3M came out with in the Seventies that I still use. These were stackable, interlocking, spring-loaded plastic boxes. I made black dymo labels to put on the red plastic faces... I always thought they looked quite nice. Now perhaps my son-in-law would call them "vintagey" (which is the tactful term he used to describe my spinet's sound). These cases were actually standard equipment in late 70's Porsche 911's, a few of them mounted in the center console back when car cassette decks represented luxury. I used to display the 3M cases proudly in my audio bookcase - but they now reside in drawers.

It's funny... the music in drawers upon drawers of these things and more can now reside in one cigarette pack-sized iPod.

Anyway, it's fun to rediscover songs that I liked twenty years ago and have forgotten about. It's the closest thing I have to a time machine. Want to go back to June 1985? Pop in the cassette. In fact, I have a 1983 Elton John song running in my head as I type this, "Kiss the Bride." (We now know that Elton John was really more interested in kissing the groom.)

I think old audio formats are groovy. I shall never give up my Lps, for example. In fact, I listened to one yesterday... The Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band's "Music for Non-Thinkers" from 1958. Horrible. My wife yelled down from the kitchen, "Is that who I think it is?" (Meaning P.D.Q. Bach, I suppose.)

As may be obvious from the above, when I was a teen I was really, really into audio. I had a quadraphonic system in 1972, when they more or less first came out. And when I was in the Marines I had a quadraphonic system in my VW Beetle!

Always interested in the next Big Audio Thing, I recall a scene in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) when Alex is in his room and wants to listen to some music. He takes out what appears to be an impossibly tiny and futuristic-looking Deutche Grammophone (their yellow label is unmistakable) recording of Beethoven's Ninth and inserts it into a component. I was always intrigued by this - what format was this? I recently acquired the DVD of this film and froze on the scene... it was nothing more than the lowly lo-fi microcassette - used generally for small dictation devices - with packaging made up by Kubrick's prop people to make it appear as if it was pre-recorded DG release. Hmf.

I watched a decent British heist film last night, "The Day They Robbed the Bank of England" (1960). It wasn't really film noir, though. Some heist films - "The Asphalt Jungle" (1950) is the best example - can be noir if they have the right fatalistic tone - this one didn't have it. But it was still fun, as I love London and its history. For instance, when they called the Bank of England "The Old Gray Lady of Threadneedle Street," I was acquainted with the nickname. I also knew that the Walbook was a river that flowed underground in London. It's neat to see things like that appear in a film. And it brings back fond memories of when my daughter and I did the B of E tour last year, and munched sandwiches outside of the Royal Exchange. I WANT TO GO BACK.

Ahhhh... Friday. The weekend looms. There's a Navy Band chamber music performance at a local church tomorrow and my convertible, hammock, local yard sales and all the other usual factors in my weekend will be present as well. My bride and I will probably also watch another installment of Goombah Theater. I might even Kiss the Bride.

Have a great weekend!


  1. I suppose ripping my favourite albums as lossless and buying Bose headphones counts as audiophilia? I'm getting a receiver soon, hopefully a Yamaha 5.1 with Denon speakers, center channel, and subwoofer.

  2. I thought it was the Portsmouth Symphonia.



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