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Tuesday, Mar 7, 2006

If you have ever had the misfortune to enroll with a temp agency, you probably had to take some kind of exam that tested you on your Microsoft Word knowledge, and if you are anything like me, you were probably astounded by all the things it can do that most people have no need for. (You’d also know this if Word ever started autoformating your text and you couldn’t make the damn thing stop.) Word is an astonishgly powerful program; like the human brain, 95 percent of it probably goes unused on most people’s machines. To take advantage of its vast functionality, you have to see it as something other than a typewriter. You have to become a processor of words.

I get the feeling that the same is true of iTunes and similar such programs. These programs are not merely stereos that reside on your computer but are probably better understood as music processors. The options iTunes affords you to organize your music in myriad different cross-referenced ways enable you to listen to music in ways previously impossible—it’s not just the shuffling, but the manu ways in which you can shuffle; and the ease with which you can clump genres together or edit songs out you don’t like and compile spontaneous playlists via search criteria. I used to sit on the couch and read while music would play; now all the time I spend listening to music at home I also spend organizing music data. It’s not like I only listened to records when alphabetizing my collection, so this development disturbs me a little.

What iTunes does is make the data aspects of music more apprehensible that music’s aural qualities—one can interact with the data much easier than one can listen to the sound. It takes less concentration and has a more immediate payoff. It feels constructive. I can spent all night adding record covers to my ID tags and applying my preferred capitalization style (down for prepositions of 4 or fewer letters, up for all nouns, pronouns and verbs) and sorting through and devising more useful genre categories. But something is slipping away from me and I’m not sure I even know what it is, and I know that before long I won’t even remember that it’s gone. As an undergraduate I used to type my papers for class on a typewriter, and that seems unfathomable to me now; it’s as though it wasn’t me who did that because I never would do that now—I wouldn’t be able to, I’d be paralyzed with my fingers on the keys the first time I wanted to move a sentence or insert a introductory clause or qualification. Something similar has happened with listening to music; soon I won’t be able to hear a song without thinking about how I want to classify it in my own personal taxonomy.

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Tuesday, Mar 7, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Featured MySpace Artist
The Tamborines
“Looking Glass House” [MP3]
“Sally O’Gannon” [MP3]
“The Great Division” [MP3]
“What Took You So Long” [MP3]

Serena Maneesh
“Un-Deux” [MP3]

“Destroy Everything You Touch” [MP3]

The Czars
“I Am the Man” [MP3]

Zucchini Drive
“Sombre City” [MP3]

“Laika” [MP3]

“Say Hey There” [MP3]

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Monday, Mar 6, 2006

Anyone who has had Mexican Coca-cola knows its a different product than the vastly inferior American version. That’s why there’s a gray market in Mexican soda in America, where Coke tries to keep what it bottles in Mexico out of the States to protect the turf arrangements it has worked out with its bottlers. Why is the Mexican coke so much better? It has real sugar in it. The American Prospect‘s blog had several posts about sugar versus high-fructose corn syrup recently, pointing out that the point at which sugar became more expensive than HFCS, Amercians started becoming obese and soft drinks began to suck. Sugar is grown cheaply in the Caribbean and Central American countries, so why is it so expensive in America. What happened to CAFTA? The reason why HFCS is cheaper than sugar is that the American agribuisiness lobby—corn-growers and sugar growers in America—united to make sugar an exception to free trade so that sugar prices would remain high and the sales of corn would increase. So in short, just another way that America protects the profit margins of its businesses at the expense of the health of our children, who likely consume the bulk amount of HFCS.

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Monday, Mar 6, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

PopMatters Sponsor
La Rocca
“Sing Song Sung” [MP3]

Irish quartet La Rocca has just put the finishing touches on their debut EP, Sing, Song, Sung (Dangerbird Records), out February 14, in advance of their full-length, The Truth (Dangerbird Records), due spring 2006. Acclaimed producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Belle and Sebastian, The Thrills) manned the boards, helping create an album that immediately sounds classic yet innovative. Pop melodies, frantic guitars and clever keyboard lines provide a foundation for the introspective lyrics, evoking a band born of late-night jam sessions, Irish beer and brotherhood—whose songs you?ll likely be singing 20 years from now.

Frank London
“In the Marketplace” [real]
“Who Knows One” [real]

Band of Horses
“The Funeral” [MP3]

Dirty on Purpose
“Mind Blindness” [MP3]

Dressy Bessy
“Electrified” [MP3]

“Doctor Pressure” [windows] [real]

The Meligrove Band
“Everyone’s a Winner” [MP3]

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Sunday, Mar 5, 2006

It turns out that that the World’s Greatest Rock Band is OK with Chinese officials approving or not approving certain songs for their set: Rolling Stones To Rock China In April.  That’s interesting if only in light of the back and forth complaining between the Stones and NFL about who authorized or approved of Mick’s lyrics being bleeped at the Superbowl.

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