28 May 2009

The Mixed Tape Grows Up

I was at a party last week and had a hilarious discussion with a bunch of music lovers who were all old enough to have fond memories of mixed tapes. And yes, I know that CD compilations and iTunes playlists serve the same function. Symbolically, however, when it comes to the blood, sweat, and tears involved in using music to pour out your soul to the object of your affections, the digital versions pale in comparison. It used to take hours, if not days, to put a proper tape together. Stacks of LPs and 45s at the ready, along with a notebook to jot down possibilities in terms of tracks and to note tape counters so that "The Song" could be found easily when that special someone wanted to play it over and over and over again . . . Of course, I do not mean to suggest that selecting songs for a CD compilation or an iTunes playlist is a straightforward matter,* but the act of putting the mixed tape together--beyond the selection of the songs--was quite a bit of work.

I have received quite a few excellent compilation CDs and digital playlists over the past few years, but they were gifts from friends who were keen on introducing me to new music, for which I am always very grateful. It's been a long time, however, since anyone made me a mixed tape. And even if they did, what would I do with it? I haven't had a tape deck in ages. And to be honest, most of the guys I've dated recently are happy to just buy CDs for me, for which I am also grateful. So it's been a long time since I've experienced that giddy feeling I used to get when a guy reached into his pocket and pulled out 90 minutes of affection that took him forever to get just right . . .

. . . until Monday:

Now seriously, how fucking cool is that?

So yeah, it's still digital, but what it lacks in the effort involved in actually putting the music onto the USB stick is more than made up for in the design. Oh, and the music selection is fantastic, too. Okay, it's slightly stalkerish, but fantastic nevertheless.

Naja, falls Du irgendwann hier landest, nochmals vielen Dank.

*I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and just ignore iTune's Genius ;-)

21 May 2009

September 26, 1983

Aside from the fact that this was three days before my 23rd birthday, more importantly, it was the day that an all-out nuclear war was narrowly avoided.

We are all familiar with the images--from comic books and films--of the superhero calmly diffusing a situation that threatens to destroy life on planet Earth. This is the stuff science fiction thrillers are made of, with "fiction" being the operative word here.

Well meet Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov.

Faced with satellite warnings that the Soviet Union was under nuclear attack from the United States, Petrov--with precious little time to react--decided that the warnings were some sort of malfunction and did not escalate the situation, which would have resulted in the Soviets counterattacking. The story of this frighteningly unbelievable day can be heard here until May 27.

Obviously, this story isn't new, but I had never heard Petrov discuss it in his own words. Warning: this 30-minute piece is not for the faint-hearted. While listening, I realized that there were a lot of things being discussed that I really didn't want to know. This includes the speculation, for instance, that one of the reasons that Ronald Reagan moved to towards more open discussions about existing nuclear arsenals, was due to another close call (perhaps initiated by the US), which remains classified. He was also concerned that the more technologically sophisticated the weapons delivery systems become, the more room there is for error.

In short, the fewer opportunities there are for men like Petrov to say, "No. Do not launch."

17 May 2009

Congratulations Luke!!

Remember this guy?

Well yesterday he graduated from Colgate University. So here's a shout out to one of the coolest and smartest guys I know:


Luke, since I'm not there to buy you a dozen drinks or sing obscure funk tunes from 1973, I'm sending 22 seconds of our 7th floor past instead, as a little reminder of some of the silliness we used to get up to.

Luke hard at work . . . checking out YouTube

Looking forward to more silliness in Berlin ;-)

Enjoy your celebration!!

15 May 2009


You know how it is . . . you're up late working on a project. You're home alone for the weekend because your flatmate is in France and her son is with his dad. Determined to finish your work before going to bed, you head into the kitchen for a cup of tea, glance up at the clock, and see THIS:

Now, I don't know about you, but I've never seen a clock do that . . . except in a horror flick. And that goes extra double for a German clock, which must be second only to a Swiss clock in precision and all that shit. Soooo, that leaves me with two choices:
  1. The Mercury Retrograde is a lot stranger than I have ever imagined.
  2. There are some crazy-ass German poltergeists loose in my flat.
I'm going to assume the answer is #1. However, just to be on the safe side, I have come up with a strategy for dealing with number #2. Being the brave lass that I am, I made a deal with the spirit of the clock: I'll stay out of the kitchen tonight, if it stays out of my bedroom. I put on some Ella Fitzgerald, followed by some Feist for good measure, just in case it found that Thom Yorke tune (Black Swan) offensive . . . well, you never know, spirits have feelings, too. At least, I can imagine they do. Okay, screw it, all I know about ghosts came from that Patrick Swayze film.

Okay, I did finish my work and I am going to bed. I am even going to turn the lights off (aren't I brave!) and pretend like this is just another normal night, which means that Jeff Buckley will now sing me to sleep. I think a ghost would enjoy that as well.

See you in the morning!!

12 May 2009

A room with a view

Victoria Park

I finally made it into the park a couple weeks ago, which is absurd I grant you. Still, there's something to be said for experiencing it like this . . .