page 149

… I understand … things aren’t often planned …

I like to read magazines when I fly. They just seem to carry enough interesting information to keep me busy for a couple of hours at a time, without really getting me caught up in a long-haul reading session. I always try to buy a mixture of mags so that I can cover my moods and learn new things in a range of different areas. OK, and so that I can swap out the New Scientist magazine for Rolling Stone when a nice looking girl sits next to me. (Tip: never read a “men’s” magazine on a plane, you look like a complete wanker!)

It’s easy to get hooked in to a good story. You’re reading along and the story is getting interesting. You’ve turned the page a couple of times as it progresses, checking out the pictures before you start reading each page. And this is where some magazines make me wish that the editor-in-chief is on the plane somewhere.

(continued on page 149)

When I see that, my blood boils faster than the creation of a Dennis Miller analogy. What?!?! You want me to turn to the back of the magazine now? What?!?! A new story starts a couple of pages later, after the obligatory swatch of bad advertisements. Why am I flipping past stories I haven’t read yet? To the back of the magazine, where I’m bound to run into the scum of the ads — penis enlargement, term papers online, kama sutra videos, corporate logo watches, ugly women posing as models giving phone sex. Why?!?!

Is there some problem with finishing the story in one block? Why do I have to jump around? Since when did reading a magazine become a “Choose Your Own Adventure” experience? Is there such a thing as a defragger for magazines?

I have to imagine that it’s got something to do with marketing dollars — that advertisers can be gouged for more money when their ads are placed in the front of the magazine — apart from the back cover, of course, which is reserved for a Dell or Absolut ad.

Let me read my damn story straight through. To quote Larry Sanders, “No flipping!”

sound of silence

… people writing songs that voices never shared … no one dared … disturb the sound of silence …

The hard drive in my computer failed recently. Mixed luck had it that of the two drives inside the machine, the one with the operating system and the bulk of my files survived unscathed, while the one with all my ripped MP3s died a horrible, ticking, scratching death. On a side note, I took the opportunity to basically build a new PC and installed a new OS, but that’s not the point of the rant.

After getting the new drive in and everything hunky dory again, the task of ripping all my CDs reared it’s ugly, repetitive, tedious head. I think it might have been the fact that I had a little over a thousand CDs to do that really got me excited at the prospect. But off I went, ripping while reading email, ripping while doing my daily check of certain web sites, ripping while playing a game of Spider Solitaire before bed, starting a rip when I went to bed or to shower or to the gym or for a bowel movement.

And along the way, something from my past came back to haunt me with a passion. There was a time, in the early ’90s I think, where bands had either a really bad sense of humor, or just wanted to piss people off. Some of them still haven’t grown up and recent releases offer the same viciously annoying trait. Silence!

You know what I mean. You’re driving along, listening to a CD and all of a sudden, you get silence. It might be that after the last listed track on the CD you get five minutes of silence before a hidden track starts. It might be like the Cracker CD that has many tracks along the way of five seconds of silence. It might be like the Korn CD that starts at track 32 (or something like that), with loads of silence up front. Even an angelic goddess like Sarah McLachlan somehow fell victim to this pastime, putting a wonderful vocal version of Posession at the end of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, before her record company decided to put the enhanced data on Mirrorball Sessions into the first audio track, rendering many CD players and computers totally stupid in the process!

Why? Why? Why?

It’s just flat out annoying. I submit They Might Be Giants as another offender on Appollo 18, although theirs is not silence, merely 30-something songs of about five seconds each that really mess with you when you decide to play the CD in shuffle mode.

I like my music. No, I love it. But don’t make it hard for me to listen to it — that’s just downright stupid. And when someone has been a victim of a hard drive crash, it causes blood to boil when the 783rd CD to be ripped is another item of evidence in the “Case of the Sound of Silence”.

Thankfully, the practice seems to have died off recently. But if you know a band that is about to release a CD, beg them to do the right thing and forever hold their peace.