The Monday Mess – The irony of good music – 19 Nov 2012

YupWelcome to the Monday mess, where this Monday we shall, mainly because I had most of this written, and I didn’t want to start anything else, via the medium of a small essay, take a flying look at the irony of good music. Will you still love me tomorrow?

I do not know this woman, she is just appreciating the irony of good music.
(Image courtesy of Morguefile.com)

In times gone by, that being the time before it was easy to get music off the internet and download individual tracks, the single used to be the selling point, and often the introduction to a new album. Originally the album was just a collection of tracks used to get more money from the consumer. Then Artists like the Beatles, The Beach boys, The Who, and many, many more utilised it for larger artistic statements. Record companies realised early on that they could make bigger profits from the album. Artistic statements aside, the album needed to be made, it needed to be sold, and some singles from the album was the way to sell it. Problem is, this often leads to albums with some good singles and some filler. Early Stones or Who anyone? The reality is there are good albums and bad ones. Singles are or were, not always a good indicator of how good the album is, or was. But unless you read reviews you had nothing else to go on other than the singles. Another problem is a good album does not always have good singles, or singles that catch on. Those albums might not get heard much no matter how good they are. Love’s “Forever Changes” being one example which has become a cult classic over time, and is genuinely a great album.

Of course this is the scenario in very general terms. Bands often built an audience through touring or word of mouth. But the point I’m getting at is a single is not always an indicator of how good an album is. The same tracks aside, you could almost say the two are unrelated. You could easily miss a lot of good music, and easily build up a collection of dross. The irony of good music, is that unless you get proper access to it, and a time to explore it, then you could easily not even discover it. Let me explain a little further.

Often good music or great music is layered, or the quality is not always fully apparent on the first listen or two. It takes our brain a couple of listens to decode it before the qualities begin to shine through. A quick listen on the radio isn’t going to get you that. But from the radio, that is what most people want. We more often need something that is catchy, that has the hooks that pull you in straight away. So receiving music that way, is mostly only a certain type of music. In most instances, anyway. That explains why when you buy an album, even one you soon come to love, it does not sound too impressive in the first listen or two. Unless of course it is full of catchy pop hooks. I cannot remember the amount of times I have bought albums and then had to give them a few days of plays to bed into my mind before deciding whether I really liked it or not.

Generally though, even if you don’t buy a lot of music, you will have some variety of taste. You might have been exposed to it from your parents, family or friends. You might be exposed to it through some constant radio listening, or certain tv shows. There will usually be something that didn’t grab you instantly but crept up on you over time. And there will be the opposite, something that stuck in straight away and sounded brilliant. But after a few plays that initial buzz has worn off. It’s ok but not that amazing. Then a few listens later and it is starting to do your head in. A simple truth in music is that writing music which is catchy, and stays with you, and maybe even reveals more detail over time, is difficult. Some are lucky to put together a good one on the fly, but repeating it? Not so easy. You see the irony of most good music is that it takes some time to grow on you, and reveal itself. It’s like a good friend, more just keeps on coming, even if the way you met was nothing special.

And if you survived that, or just skimmed over it, here is the same argument in “Nonet”:

To your ears, I do not sound like much

but I don’t give it up like that

I’ll tease, and let you taste it

draw you in, be your muse

wonder wat you missed

listen again

soon I will

grow on 

you

So with that, I’m signing off.

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: etymology.

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The Monday Mess – Mysteries of Monday revealed – 12 Nov 2012

(Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art)

Once upon a time a music fan called Elliot, would look forward to Mondays because that was the day new music came out. He could wander down the local music store, and browse the new single and album releases. It was fun, at least for a music fan. Now most of these stores have closed, and he moved to the US where for seemingly inexplicable reasons, music comes out on a Tuesday. Monday you have a lot to answer for. Sadly that is not your only crime. I believe you are responsible for the following mysteries:

    • Why Mondays are depressing – Because it is the start of the working week for most people. Time stuck in an office, time stuck in a factory, time stuck in a shop, time stuck some place. See where I’m going? Sure you pay the bills, but wouldn’t you much rather be at home crashed out on the couch eating chocolate and watching the best that cable tv has to offer? For my writing friends, you can replace that last bit about the couch with “sat at a desk, staring at a laptop screen, tapping away at the keys worrying about word counts”.
    • Why Monday is too tired – You spend weekend with your family or friends, or doing something interesting or fun, trying to put off the fact that Monday is coming. You expend too much energy, and / or get too little sleep. Or your couple of days on the sofa is over. Time to get up and do something again. But you just don’t want to…
    • Why Monday is too long to the weekend – Assuming you work the standard Monday to Friday, or maybe even including Saturday, Monday is the furthest point from your time off doing something you want to. Unless you prefer being at work to being not at work, in which case, you need to take a serious look at your life.
    • Why monday is responsible for your life disappearing – Because you spend all week waiting for the week to fly by so you can enjoy the weekend. Then the weekend moves even faster. So the cycle starts again. Before you know it, you woke up in March thinking it will be Easter soon, and actually its almost Christmas. Your child, just a few months old is now almost two. You are wondering where your life has gone. Then it’s Monday and you want to see the weekend again.

You would think I don’t like my job wouldn’t you? Actually it is not bad, but would I still rather be at home with wifey and child? Answer: Watch out for Monday. If you look over your right shoulder, it is there at the back somewhere sniggering at you.

Nonet, Tanka? This week “Monday” in three Haiku

Poke me in the eye
or prod me with a sharp stick
please not be Monday

Where once we were young
we were never growing old
then Monday did come

The finger beckons
new musical gift for me
lost in sands of time

Although on the other hand, it does bring with it the Monday mess.

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: Quincunx.

The Monday Mess – The having a day off, sort of, post – 29 Oct 2012

Yup, that’s right, you read it correctly. I’m having the day off in a blogging sense. Well sort of. I have other things to do this weekend. I’m keeping the post short. Here is a nonet about it. Don’t worry, you will be quickly on your way:

(Image Source: Microsoft Clip art)

“Nonet” to you, lets get on with it, to me:

One final time, I’m too lazy to delete it, Nonet = Nine lines, first line with nine syllables and dropping a syllable each line until the final ninth line has only one. The prompt, see above:

Yeah, whatever! Nothing much to say

time is short, having off today

best not stick around for long

the door will soon be closed

bye bye monday mess

don’t get attached

it’s only

a day

off

So with that, I’m signing off.

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: Qanat.

A blogging Holiday

(Image Source: Microsoft Clip art)

Yup, that sign is about to be me, although it might be a tiny bit longer than your average lunch break. I don’t need a break as such, but outside factors are dictating that a small break is required. Regular readers will be aware that I have a new paying job, and pretty much a new routine to go with it. It is sucking up a lot of my time and likely will do for the next week or two. Well actually it will continue to suck up a lot of time, but hopefully less in a week or two once I have a more settled routine, and a few technological changes give me a bit more internet access.

Often I will write some posts ahead of time (usually not the Monday one’s obviously), but I haven’t had much chance to do that. That is a shame as I have a few ideas ready. Some of them actually good ones.

So with that in mind, I am taking a blogging break with the intention of being back on Monday 24th September. I may blog sooner, but possibly not. It will also mean I won’t have much time to read your blogs, having less internet availability will tend to do that, but I shall try dip in from time to time over the period. On the plus side, you have one less blog to read for a week or two, saving you some small amount of time also.

So till then, have fun, and keep the blog flag flying.

Elliot

Lexicon word of the day: Iterative.

What I miss from the UK and what I don’t

Click on the picture to learn more about “Take me back to dear old Blighty”

So, at the moment I’m still in the UK. It is lovely to see my family, but I am missing my wife and son, a lot. I managed my usual Monday Haiku post, which got a little neglected after I published an awards post a couple of hours later. Then I added a post on Tuesday which were some reflections on the recent travel and how routine some of it is. Keeping with that theme I noticed a couple of things that I miss from the UK, and some that I’m happy to miss:

Things I miss

  • Family and friends – Sure I could have moved to get away from them all. I didn’t and often I miss them. I wish we could see each other more often.
  • The Observer (Sunday Newspaper) – I know I can read some of this online, but it isn’t the same as crashing out on the chair working my way through it, usually starting with the sports section, then moving onto the review section. The last edition had an interview with Martin Amis which just felt different reading it in the printed edition. Plus you get Phillip French in film reviews, and numerous other fab columnists like Victoria Coren.
  • Free Health care – Regular readers will know I like an occasional moan at the US healthcare system. Old Blighty has the NHS. It is not perfect, but it pretty much does the job, and leaves you with no debt other than the exorbitant fees charged to park near the hospitals.
  • Decent holidays at work – My last job based in the UK gave me 24 days paid holiday, paid bank holidays, and a sort of flex time where you could work hours up for extra days off. The average holidays in the US is 10 paid days. Enough said.
  • Character of the place – At first thought when on the way back from the airport, I thought lots of the area, the buildings and such, looked a little tired and run down. But at the same time it gives it a lot of character. And of course, there is the history. The architecture is a lot more varied than Southern California. It seems to have a bit more personality inside it’s run down look.
  • Cheaper Supermarket food – Generally speaking, food in the supermarkets is cheaper than in Southern California. Likely because there is only a few big chains, and they like to enter price wars to draw in customers. A loaf of bread isn’t too much over £1, but closer to $4 (£2.60) in Southern California.
  • British Chocolate – In the grand scale of chocolate that exists in my head, Brit chocolate isn’t the best in the world, but the variety and quality of snack bars is much better than the US equivalent. You can get some of it over there, but massively marked up in price. My wife will complain that it is difficult to get a Crunchie bar there.
  • QI, BBC4, and 6music – In media terms, I miss Stephen Fry’s knowledge quiz QI, the seasons of interesting documentaries that BBC4 does, and the different DJs and good music played on 6music. Actually I can get 6music via the net, but I’ve not seen it time delayed so I can listen to the breakfast show in the morning, and not as I’m going to bed. Satellite radio is good in the US, e.g. Sirius XMU, but that also comes with a subscription fee.

Things I’m happy to miss

  • TV Specials 1 – “Gary Barlow: On her majesty’s service” – The advertisement for this which I saw several f**k**g times within the first hour or two of arriving, almost made me pull my ears off. Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber and been commissioned to write a song for the jubilee. That show was about the making of that song. Really? Who gives a f**k???
  • TV Specials 2 – The nations favourite Bee Gees song – Honestly, that was a real show on this past week. I don’t care how much you like the Bee Gees. Why should I care which song the nation thinks is the best one?
  • The Weather – Good old Blighty. I get here, it is almost like Winter. For the first time in months I needed a coat. I think the sun might have gone on its own summer holiday. Guess how long it took to rain? Actually it did good on that score, it was at least 8 hours.
  • Run down and over grown – As you can read above, that also adds some character. But not everywhere. With the UK economy also on leave for a few years, cutbacks have included areas owned by the local authorities getting attention a bit less often. I’m probably generalising here, it is not like that everywhere, and the miserable weather doesn’t help any.
  • Miserable people at shop counters – They tend to force them to smile less in the UK. Many in the UK would claim the US is kind of fake in this way, in that the people of the US are forced to smile, it is not always that they want to. I say to this, I don’t care how fake it is, or whether it is or not. People in the UK might have initial novelty value to visitors with their “honest approach”, but I’d rather see a smile in the shop and some polite attention, than some miserable sod, seeing the day out and waiting to go home.
  • Not enough HD TV, or EPL football – I know, I’m a HD snob now, living in the US. Also I got to see pretty much every Liverpool game on US tv, which I would not get in the UK. Spoilt I am in that regard.
  • English Soaps like Eastenders – I know my wife likes the novelty of Eastenders, when she is in the UK. I used to watch it a lot when I lived here, but managed to ween myself from it, some time before leaving. But now they’ve killed off Pat Butcher. How can I visit “the square” now Pat has gone? US readers, look her up on youtube.

PAAAaaaaat !!!!

So as a surprise to me, there aren’t that many things I’m happy to miss. On the other things, there are lots of things I like about the US as well and would miss if I moved back here. It may be that I’m generally a laid back, positive person, so I don’t get phased by much. The stuff I’m not keen on kind of passes me by. Still cannot help missing some things eh?

Lexicon word of the day: inestimable.