Remember blank tapes?

I listened to a lot of 1980s heavy metal this past week. This is not necessarily unusual for me, but finally seeing The Wrestler last Saturday night probably contributed to it, as the movie’s entire soundtrack is made up of the music that got me through high school and college.

I realized how different things used to be after listening to three straight albums — The Scorpions’ Love at First Sting, Accept’s Metal Heart and AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock — that were all 10 songs or fewer and all around 45 minutes or less.

TDK blank cassette tape

TDK blank cassette tape

I had to laugh because it brought back memories of when I used to buy all my albums on either vinyl or CD (obviously depending on the time period) and transfer them to blank cassette tapes so I could listen to them in the car and on my Walkman.

I remembered worrying about the length of albums. If they were longer than 45 minutes, it really fouled up the entire taping process, because you had to use the B side of a 90-minute tape for the spill-over, and you couldn’t put an entire other album on it. If they were much shorter than 45 minutes, you had way too much empty space at the end of the tape, and fast-forwarding to the end was a pain in the ass.

I remembered the still-unresolved argument over whether there was really a difference between normal cassette tapes and chrome cassette tapes, and if the latter were actually worth the extra 50 cents or so. And don’t even get me started on the really expensive metal cassette tapes.

Is it live ... or is it Memorex?

Is it live ... or is it Memorex?

I remembered arguing that although the Memorex ad with the guy sitting in the chair getting blown away by the sound was an all-time classic, when it came to quality, TDK kicked Memorex’s ass up and down the block, at least in my opinion. So did Maxell. And Sony wasn’t bad, either.

I thought back on times when I left on a road trip, only to realize that the carrying case that held 12 cassettes — about 20 times the size of my current iPod and containing around 1% of the music — was never refilled, meaning that I’d have to listen to the same tapes I had on the previous road trip.

And anyone ever have the miserable experience of trying to clean out all of what was left of a destroyed tape out of your tape deck?

Yeah, I’d say music distribution has come a long way in the past few years. Wouldn’t you?

Headphones = go away

(Originally posted on my MySpace blog Jan. 17, 2006)

It started with the Walkman. Then it advanced with the Discman. And it’s really been taken to the next level by the iPod.

I’m talking about the explosion of antisocial behavior by commuters. I’m not criticizing it in the least. In fact, I’m probably among the group that’s most guilty of it. It is what it is, and it’s part of life. Deal with it.

But there are also way too many people who haven’t learned to deal with the existence and meaning of headphones.

In very general terms, headphones = fuck off, but there are exceptions.

The following are acceptable reasons to annoy me when I have headphones on:

  • You are an attractive female.
  • You want to set me up with an attractive female.
  • I’m on fire and haven’t realized it yet.
  • An attractive female is on fire, and the first person to come to her aid gets her phone number and a dinner date.
  • There is a large, angry Rottweiler charging at me with teeth bared.
  • You are an attractive female.
  • Did I mention that this behavior is acceptable if you’re an attractive female?

The following are completely unacceptable reasons:

  • Asking for directions. For the love of God, only about 50% of people in the street are wearing headphones. Go bother a member of the 50% who aren’t.
  • You’re a religious fanatic: So, let me get this straight … I just turned off one of my favorite Rush songs so I could hear you babble about Jehovah? You’d better hope whatever supreme being you believe in is truly watching over you, because you’re two seconds from a foot in your ass.
  • You need change: The last time I checked, although I may be carrying a few extra pounds, I don’t look like a Citibank branch. If it’s for the bus, for the love of God, join the 1980s and get a MetroCard. If it’s for a parking meter, the concept of keeping quarters in your car is apparently well beyond your comprehension, and you deserve a ticket.

The moral of the story: If you see someone wearing headphones, leave them the hell alone … unless, of course, I happen to be that someone, and you happen to be an attractive female.