Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A detailed chronicle of the first half of our science experiment: dinosaur related asides and scatalogical humor provided free of charge

Disclaimer: Birdmonster would like to apologize in advance for the loopy rambling, misguided whatnot-ery, and slew of shameful "humor" that will ensue at the end of this introductory warning. Birdmonster is still drunk. Drunk enough to refer to itself in the third person, which is quite a feat, considering it's actually four people. Birdmonster needs to remember Mondays are for sleeping, cribbage double-headers, and home cooked crock-pot dinners. Gin is a poor substitute for all three. Next Monday: naps, cards, and stew. This Tuesday: ache-y noggins. Onwards:


When I started this whole "listen to music for 24 hours straight, then go 24 hours without it" thing, there were a few things I didn't properly account for. Firstly, I overlooked the fact that I never came up with a catchy name, which, as any scientist knows, is half the battle. When I discover a dinosaur, for example, I'm not going to name it anything that ends in "saurus." Instead: "Lord Awesome the Kick-Ass." What ten year old wouldn't love that? Secondly, I thought that music all day would be easy, enriching, and downright enjoyable. Like so many good hypothesis...es...es...hypothesees....es.....guesses, that was wrong, wrong, wrong. Allow me to explain.

It started easily enough. Alarm clock muzak jazz, relaxing bus ride with Ryan Adams and Primus (not exactly kindred spirits, I'm aware), croissant with Cinematic Orchestra. I was enjoying myself. I got to select my own private soundtrack for every piddling detail of an otherwise drab Monday. Suddenly, my bus ride seemed more poignant, my croissant more epic. I was a living, horrible art house movie where nothing happens.

Then, the little snags began. See, if you're really going for music all day, you need accompaniment while eating, while sleeping, while talking on the phone, while, say, squatting over the toilet at the office. (Which in itself brings up countless quandaries. What, exactly, is good pooping music? Are people going to be slightly perturbed when you walk into the bathroom, rocking out, with headphones in? At what point will this actually get you fired?) By eleven o'clock, the experiment was starting to be a bit of a hassle. I was talking to my boss with one earphone in, trying to explain, no, "I'm not horribly rude, I'm just trying to... oh I love this drum part" when I realized that yesterday wasn't going to be easy. I hadn't fully realized I spend about two or three hours of my work day haggling with people on the phone. This becomes much more difficult when Tina Turner is offering to be your Private Dancer.

I really noticed how burdensome the whole thing was on my bus ride home. Usually, the whole "music while struggling through the crossword I stole from the coffee shop" thing is really pleasant. The bus is empty and I'm trying to figure out who the only palindromic band with a palindromic hit single is (ABBA, by the way) and I'm on my way to the couch and a cozy book. But by 5 yesterday, I was starting to feel stressed out. My thought process was breaking down. It wasn't stupidity, per se, but complete distraction. At home I watched Jeopardy with my girlfriend (while listening to Cake but eating spaghetti) and struggled endlessly. I actually knew the final answer and had to spend twenty second pacing in circles like a skittish Labrador before actually remembering Edward R. Murrow's name, followed, of course, by berating the people on the television who got it wrong to the tune of "This Long Line of Cars."

Then, us Birdmonsters got to judge a local band contest at night. This was good because live music is far superior to recordings, and, quite frankly, I needed a drink. The problem was, I didn't need several. Half-drunk, I almost blew the whole thing when I went outside without my iPod and spent the next ten minutes humming to myself while pretending to talk to some guy who may or may not have been on serious uppers.

But I learned plenty. I learned that music all day, if you're diligent about it, isn't all that hard. It's just annoying. I learned you can overdose on your favorite thing in the whole world if you really put your mind to it. I learned there's a reason everyone loves the Beatles. (News flash: they're really good).

On Thursday, we try to go 24 hours without music. I'd try to do it today, but band practice would be fairly difficult. Until tomorrow.


elvette said...

In japan they reportedly have bathroom stalls that switch on the music as soon as you close the door. so refined. And when you open the door to leave, it plays a recording that says, "If it becomes necessary..."

When the muzak people came up with muzak, they found that they had to build in breaks every 20 minutes or so because nobody could handle it hour after hour straight (no surprise there), but maybe it's true for all music.

Not everyone loves the Beatles. I don't. I respect their place in the musical pantheon, but I don't actually enjoy listening to them. I used to be fine with them but now they just get more and more irritating with every listen.

birdmonster said...

You know muzak doesn't really make muzak anymore? A New Yorker article told me that. They basically design playlists for places like the GAP and Urban Outfitters and See's Candy and so on. Apparently, there's still a small market for God's Honest Muzak but they just aren't recording anymore. Oakland airport is a big fan.

Irritated by the Beatles, huh? Shocking. Downright shocking. I respectfully disagree. But I feel the same way about Dylan: I respect him, I just don't listen to him. I tried a while back...

Anonymous said...

i respectfully disagree with both of you. like em both. they both have not only interesting music (to some) but also intersting lives. an artists life is half the intrigue.

birdmonster said...

Anon: I'm usually alone on Dylan. I'm taking a course called "Make Me Like Dylan," taught by our singer. The cirriculum is burning his CDs & listening until I like one.

elvette said...

I'm generally neutral on Dylan, but I really liked "Don't Look Back," the 1965 rockumentary.

In the masters of rock category I'm partial to the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson, Pet Sounds era, or Phil Spector. (and talk about intrigue)

Katie said...

Concerning pooping music: my room is next to the bathroom so I typically decide everyone's pooping music for them. For example, my one roommate is quite the violent pooper; every time he takes a shit it sounds like World War 3 in the bathroom. Seriously...I had no clue asses could be so noisy! When he goes into the bathroom I make sure to put on something loud and obnoxious to cover the noise. (Unfortunately music will not cover the smell.)

Myself: Being a lady, I'm much more discreet. I prefer soft mandolin music to accompany my prolonged bathroom moments.

I can't write anything of great importance while music is playing. I can't read while music is playing. I've never understood how kids could do homework while music was playing. The people in this house will tell me stories and ask me questions while I have music on and they'll get no response. Music without words is an improvment but still terribly distracting.

Anonymous said...

katie: hence the left brain theory, you are a true musician whether realized or not.

birdmonster: on dylan, you are not alone. the general manager of the radio station i work at would definitely join you on the dylan thing. she, however, makes no effort to like him. you like what you like, maybe to you dylan is as german is to many, a dialect you cannot find the beauty in. only it would have to be more like you didn't like italian, a language many find beautiful...this may make no sense to many but it all ties back to a previous comment on a previous entry regarding music as a language. anyway, i am a bit tired as my radio show is at 6am and i must rise far before that.

derek said...

"i...decide everyone's pooping music for them." i laughed so hard when i read that, i may have pooped a little.

Anonymous said...

Go Birdmonster! To see a cool interview with the band check out http://www.rockinducedlabor.com/interview_bm.html

Jon Klein said...

The act of pooping produces an organic soundtrack of it's own. Especially moparrhea.

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