Was It 2012 or 2112?

File this under Signs of the (Mayan?) Apocalypse: Rush Featured on NPR. Wow.

I recently saw Rush play a show in Atlanta. The crowd ranged in age from five to the mid-fifties, embracing both lank-haired teenage skateboarders and heart surgeons. And when the band launched into its ode to suburban anomie, “Subdivisions,” everyone got it. If you were a smart kid, you lived that song in your youth, and a little thing like academic tenure won’t make you forget it. And if you weren’t, you lived it too.

Update: D’Oh! My clever title was wrong. Fixed. Happy 21/12, by the way!

Moving CDs

Empirical evidence suggests that a typical CD jewel case weighs between 3.0 oz and 3 1/8 oz. Let’s call it 3.1 oz. I have to ship about 864 of them to Alaska. That means I’m shipping 164 lbs. of jewel cases.

Alternatively, I can move the CDs to binder cases like these:

CD Binder Case (1)

Each of them weighs about 3 lbs and contains 324 discs. Well, really, they have 324 pockets, but as you can see, I’m loading every other pocket with the album art/booklet for the CD:

CD Binder Case (2)

I figure I need six cases like that. That means I’m shipping 18 lbs, for a net savings of 146 lbs. Sounds good to me.

The best part is that, when I get there, I can put all six binders into deep storage, since I hardly ever listen to CDs, once I’ve ripped them into iTunes.

(Bonus points if you can connect the bottom picture with the title of the post. Hint: what is the first disc on the next page?)

Top Music in 2011

Looking at iTunes, I see my top song this year was “40 Day Dream” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I listened to it 137 times. A few of those must have been in 2010, since I bought it that October, but there’s no question it was one of my favorites this year. (Sadly, there’s no way with an iTunes Smart List to learn what a song’s play count was during a certain period of time.)

(Note that “40 Day Dream” is on the same (eponymous) album as “Home”, a song covered by Jorge & Alexa Narvaez in their charming YouTube viral video.)

Following “40 Day Dream” in my most-played list were “Bye Bye Bye” by Plants and Animals, “Buildings and Mountains” by the Republic Tigers, and “Can You Tell” by Ra Ra Riot, with 116, 111, and 106 plays, respectively.

As it happens, all those are digital downloads from Amazon. I have a handful of songs from the iTunes store, but only a few, since a web browser offers a much better shopping experience than iTunes does. Web browsers have offered tabs since, when, 1997 or so? But iTunes is pure-linear, and shopping on it interferes with other things you might be trying to do with iTunes.

If we subtract out all the digital downloads, leaving just songs that I’ve ripped from actual physical brick-and-mortar CDs, my top songs from 2011 were: “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “He’s a Pirate” by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer, “Mr. Roboto” by Styx, and “Africa” by Toto. (Don’t wince at my taste: serious musicians love that song! See track 11 here.)

The pirate song is from my collection of Film Music of course. The others are, like those I mentioned previously, from a playlist of music that has appeared on the TV show Chuck. If we subtract out “Chuck” music and “Film Music” then my top songs in 2011 were: “YYZ” by Rush, “A Raft of Penguins” by Ian Anderson, “La Villa Strangiato” by Rush, and “There is a Green Hill” by the World Wide Message Tribe. Also in the Top 10 list are the Genevan Psalter’s Psalm 124 by Calvin College, “Peace of Mind” by Boston, and “Just Showed Up (for My Own Life)” by Sara Groves.

So Now It’s Okay…

…to like Rush? That’s what it says in the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Both the book and the film attempt to come to grips with a band that has had the most unusual career trajectory, defying age and the loathing of critics to fly high for decades, with no end in sight.

I’ve been listening to Rush since they assumed control with 2112, and honestly, I don’t much care for anything they’ve done in about 20 years. I just checked iTunes, and the highest rating I’ve given anything they released since Counterparts is 3 stars. I gave that to “Faithless” on Snakes and Ladders, and “Vapor Trails” and “Earthshine” on Vapor Trails also have 3 stars.

Still, even if their work hasn’t done much for me lately, I’m glad they’ve kept trying. I’d hate to see Rush become a nostalgia act going from casino to casino playing nothing but the old standards.

Ah, but what standards! From Permanent Waves to Moving Pictures to Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows, Presto, and Roll the Bones: what great records! (Great live performances, too: my Amazon wish list has some of their concert DVDs. Hint, hint.) As an old headbanger, I’m glad that these kids today are learning the awesomeness that is Rush. (Check out this performance of “YYZ” for an example.)

Chuck Music

New music is one of the unexpected benefits of having suddenly discovered the awesomeness that is the TV show Chuck.

I hardly listen to the radio, and the radio stations up in the high desert are why. We don’t even get AM radio up here. There’s not much on the FM side either: a handful of religious stations, only one of which has any music to speak of; a country-and-western station, which I don’t listen to; and a classic rock station down in Palm Springs, whose music I’ve known about these last 25-30 years. That leaves KCDZ 107, the only truly local station up here. And, sadly, I don’t care for the music it plays. At all. (Sorry.)

But Chuck has all kinds of music, and I’ve only heard some of it. So, for example: “Now We Can See,” by the Thermals? Great song, and an awesome choice for the scene in “Chuck vs. The Ring” where Chuck and Casey tell Emmett they’ve quit.

Or “Bye, Bye, Bye,” by Plants and Animals? Again, an excellent song, and a perfect for the Parisian ending of “Chuck vs. The Other Guy.” (In part because it foreshadows the following episode.)

Or, from “Chuck vs. the Tooth,” how about — content advisory! — “Right Round,” by Flo Rida? (That link is probably NSFW, by the way.) There were a whole bunch of versions on Amazon (including about a dozen Karaoke treatments) so I got the one that wasn’t marked “explicit lyrics.” Well. It makes me wonder what they could do to make the lyrics any more explicit. It’s a good tune, though.

But there are also gems like “Mr. Roboto.” Kidding. I never liked the version by Styx, to be honest. But this cover version by Jeffster is awesome.