Friday, April 18, 2014

Self Help Radio 041814: Cassettes

Today's show celebrates a piece of dying media that was very important to me for many years.  The cassette used to be a big part of nearly everyone's lives - & now has been relegated to the realm of aficionado & nostalgia.  The show, however, is more celebration, than elegy!

You can listen to it now now now at the Self Help Radio web site, where it might just fit on a ninety-minute cassette tape.  If so, here's side one & here's side two.  What would normally be written on the J-card is listed below.

As always, be kind - rewind!

(side one)

"Cassette Squeaking/Venetian Blind" Charlie & Todd _Party Fun With Recorders Volume 1_
"C30 C60 C90 Go!" Bow Wow Wow _Girl Bites Dog_
"Cassettes" R. Stevie Moore _Kaffeeklatsch_
"On Tape" Pooh Sticks _CD86: 48 Tracks From The Birth Of Indie Pop_

"Mix Tape" Michael Shelley _I Blame You_
"I Have Made You A Mix Tape" Daniel Ledwell _Two Over Seven_
"Compilation Cassette" Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern _Pram Town_
"Mix Tape" Stephanie D'Abruzzo & John Tartaglia _Avenue Q - The Musical_
"The Black Cassette" My Favorite _A Cult Of One_

"The Cassingle Revival" The Lucksmiths _Where Were We?_
"Cassette Revival" King Bear _Cassette Revival Therapy EP_
"Books On Tape & 45s" The Casino Ashtrays _Long After The Commercials Have Ended_

(side two)

"I Still Like Cassettes" Brother JT _The Svelteness Of Boogietude_
"Play Me A Tape" Miss Kittin _Batbox_

"Tape From California" Phil Ochs _Tape From California_
"Hiss On The Tape" John Martyn _Well Kept Secret_
"Tape Recorder Man" Momus _Folktronic_

"Tapehead" Francis International Airport _We Are Jealous We Are Glass_
"Veronica Made A Tape" Horowitz _Frosty Cat Songs_
"Cassette" Oh No _Dr. No's Oxperiment_

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whither Cassettes?

I am going to wax eloquent about cassettes on tomorrow's show, so I want to save something for that.  But here's a nice collection of musings about cassettes that may put you in the proper frame of mind for the show.

The weird thing is, putting the show together has made me feel like I miss cassettes more than I really do.  That's a little disturbing.

Okay.  Gotta go work on this week's Self Help Radio.  I think it'll be all right.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Preface To Cassettes: The Ultimate Fate Of Mix Tapes

I was a teenager during most of the 1980s (I turned 20 in 1988) so I believe I was at the prime age for the use of the cassette as a vehicle for romance & sharing: the mix tape.  Nowadays there are places online where you can gather songs; back then, you had to press record at the right time when you put the needle on the record.  I made hundreds of them, for several girls, & a lot for my male friends.

One great mix tape I got when I met a fellow who loved Tom Waits.  At the time, I had never heard anything by Tom Waits.  He offered to make me a tape of his favorite Tom Waits songs, but he asked, "What have you got?"  I was really into Nick Cave then, so I made him a Nick Cave tape.  Later on - it's sad I can't remember this guy's name - I asked how he liked it.  He loved it.  I loved the Tom Waits tape.  We couldn't agree who got the better bargain.  That was probably my best mix tape exchange.

There were bad experiences, too.  I was crazy about this chick named Amy, who shared a similar musical taste to me, & made her a mix tape in which there were, apparently, a lot of songs she already knew.  I expected it would convince her to be mine.  Instead, she said to me, "You're making me hate songs I used to love."  That relationship didn't go anywhere.

Mix CDs, though more convenient, & of course with much better sound quality, seem less personal.  I guess the whole process of sitting in front of your stereo, taking the records out of their sleeves, cleaning them, putting them on the turntable, turning the tape recorder on, playing the entire song, then making sure you pause before the next track on the LP starts - not to mention the process of scribbling in the tiny lines on the tape's cover - or whatever you call it - all of this took time & care.  & once it was done, you couldn't move the tracks around, like you can on a CD before you burn it.  You had to think about the tracklisting before you started.

& what has happened to all the mix tapes I've made?  Probably all thrown away, long ago.  Most of the women I made mix tapes for probably got rid of them after they got rid of me - & anyway, as the years went by, they also probably got rid of the cassette decks.  They used to be standard in cars; they aren't any more.  I know many people who've even gotten rid of their CDs, prefer to keep all their music on mp3s in an iPod &/or some kind of "cloud."

To be sure, I'd hate to have to sit down to make an actual mix tape again.  I miss vinyl much more than cassettes.  (& yes, I know, both are still around.  There are even cassette-only record labels.  I just don't collect anything in cassette or vinyl anymore.)  I hated the sound loss in cassettes, & of course I hated when the tape broke or got eaten by the player.  I have a couple of cassettes that I played too often, & have been demagnetized, & I keep them imagining I can play them again one day to save them - though I probably won't be able to.

But I think of the mix tapes I made with fondness, & would love to see some of them again.  I would also love to see some of the people I made them for again, too.  Probably, though, they, like the mix tapes I made them, are lost to me forever.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For Lack Of A Better World

Take this quiz, quickly.  No quibbles!  It's quality quizzing:

1) Do you or have you ever maybe even once?


2) Did I ruin it for you or is that your thing?


3) You had the chance, you took the chance - how do that make you feel?

a-I suppose
b-I thought so
c-I got it
d-I demure

4) The one you love loves you not.


5) Hold your breath if you want to live.


6) Have you made it this far?

c-Matinee Idol

7) Your score indicates:

a-I have a pulse
b-I have to go
c-I have strange feelings that I can't explain
d-I must've been blind

8) You meet Leonard Cohen in early 1983.  You say:

a-I'm your man
b-Bob Dylan
c-That's no way to say hello
d-(Throat exercises)

9) A quiz should have at least ten questions, right?

a-That's a good question
b-Check out my website
d-Bob Dylan

SCORING! If you answered any of the questions correctly, give yourself five points.  If you answered any of the questions incorrectly, go ahead & give yourself more points so that you can feel better about yourself.

A score of 160 or more indicates you accidentally took a test by Cosmopolitan, but your relationship is all right.

A score of 20 or less indicates you probably shouldn't think what you think about the Greek God Dionysius, since he's real & knows what you're thinking.

A B+ or higher moves you quickly past second grade & into fourth grade.

A C or lower is average.  A D or higher is not.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spoiler, A Lert

This is something my brain often does: it will separate the syllables of words that begin with sound "uh" as represented by the letter a, like alert, or again, or ahead, or askew.  It will assume that the letter a in the word is actually an article & will try to make sense of the word in that context.

For example, the phrase "Full speed ahead!" will seem, if I am exhausted or otherwise not paying attention, to be saying, "Full speed, a head!"  This will confuse me.

Or as the title of this blog piece seems to say: there's a lert named Spoiler.  But what's a lert?

I know from my readings in etymology that there's a linguistic term, called rebracketing (also called misdivision), in which words like "napron" & "nadder" become, because of how people decide to pronounce them, "an apron" & "an adder."  One word that goes the other way is "notch" - it used to be "an otch."  But it happens more often that the consonant is lost from the word, not that a consonant is gained.  (Not a gain! my brain says.)

But my brain is practicing a sort of rebracketing & the interesting thing is that most of the words - unlike alert - are words in their own right, like gain, head, & skew, with the a added as a prefix.  That might be the reason my head does that.

I remember when I was learning the days of the week, it helped me to learn to spell them to pronounce them, in my head, how they were spelled.  So Wednesday, which is normally pronounced Whensday, became, to me, Wed Nes Day in my brain.  My head still pronounces it that way.  I'm sure I sometimes will say it that way.

When I was young & my brain was limber, I could hold those words separate & know they were still the same word.  As I age, I think those mind-shortcuts are slowly unravelling up there, with consequences like this one: when someone says "the door is ajar," I have to rally myself to remember that that means it's partially open - not that someone has replaced my front door with the biggest mason jar I'll ever see.