On Bonus Tracks

Most of the time, I consume music in the context of albums. After I wrote that sentence, I got up and put a record on, which has become my preferred way of listening to music when I’m at home. I’m constantly scouring eBay to find some of my favorite albums on vinyl at prices that aren’t extortionate.

Because of my affinity for listening to an album front to back, I’ve come to generally loathe bonus tracks.

The problem is that the artists I listen to (and, I think, most artists in general that aren’t produced and managed into homogenous oblivion) take the time to curate the songs they record into a single, cohesive whole. This is generally ruined by bolting a song onto the end, even if it’s a really great track by itself.

Take, for example, Saves the Day’s Stay What You Are. In high school, I was a huge fan of this album, in part because I had friends who loved the band and we voraciously consumed everything they released. While my friend Peter was in Japan, he bought the Japanese version of the album for my best friend Sun, which had a bonus track at the end of it. Sun insisted that this extra track, “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven” was a natural part of the album, even though it was a B-side recorded during the Through Being Cool sessions and released much earlier on Vagrant Records’  Another Year on the Streets compilation. None of this mattered to Sun; the song was pressed onto her copy of the album, and the song was awesome, therefore it was always meant to be there.

Listen for yourself to the way “Firefly” ends and how “Sell My Old Clothes…” comes out of nowhere:

Firefly
Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off To Heaven

“Firefly” has the kind of finality you generally find in album closers. It opens with a fast beat and a sense of urgency before calming down halfway through, giving way to a sense of resignation. The lyrics deal with a significant other that is obviously not good for the narrator, but who provides enough fun to be worth the self-destruction, at least in the first half. The slightly downbeat second half implies that maybe the whole thing isn’t really a good idea, even as lead singer Chris Conley insists the whole thing is worth it: “to me you are the light/from a light bulb that breaks sometimes/and the tender warmth inside/is released into my life” gives way to “know I’ll burn for you tonight”.

“Sell My Old Clothes…,” on the other hand, deals with a relationship that’s already ended, and Conley’s jealousy of his former partner’s new relationship. He wonders what this new person has that he doesn’t, and then describes the amount of time he wasted trying to make it work, before deciding that it’s not worth thinking about anymore in the song’s final moments.

I suppose you could sort of make a case for the two songs being connected in terms of Conley’s fear of self-destruction leading to dissolution and then regret about the way things turned out. But even if there’s a tenuous thematic link, when you listen to the songs, it’s clear that they are from completely different recording sessions.

Compare this to Strung Out’s “Cemetery” and “Don’t Look Back” from their album An American Paradox:

Cemetery
Don't Look Back

Strung Out included “Don’t Look Back” on the first 10,000 copies of their album, which is kind of fun from a collector’s standpoint, but was very annoying when I had all of my CDs stolen about 10 years ago and tried to track down another copy with the bonus track. I hit up many used CD stores and asked to hear many different copies before successfully stumbling on one of those first 10,000 copies. I still listened to CDs daily in the car at the time, and never trusted the process of burning lossy MP3s to CDs, even though I don’t have anything remotely resembling  golden ears.

Note the way that “Cemetery” ostensibly has the same kind of finality that “Firefly” does, except that it has that teaser at the end, implying that maybe the band isn’t done with their set just yet. The song’s lyrics deal with feeling like the city of LA is holding the narrator in place, doomed to watch society decay around him.

“Don’t Look Back” also deals with stagnation, but is more about growing up and realizing that change is necessary. The thematic link is once again a little tenuous, but I think that the songs can be taken together to create one overarching theme: change can feel impossible, but in the end life demands it.

The music of the two songs reinforce this theme. “Cemetery” is mid-tempo, fairly downbeat for the band, and has an ethereal feeling to it. The transitional instrumental is downright haunting, complete with difficult-to-decipher spoken word. Then “Don’t Look Back” kicks in with a slightly faster transitional tempo before kicking into high gear right before the lyrics start. Unlike the jarring shift from “Firefly” to “Sell My Old Clothes…,” everything about the juxtaposition of the two songs feels intentional.

To end with “Cemetery” creates a much more pessimistic view of life than Strung Out generally employ. I feel like “Don’t Look Back” should have been a standard part of every pressing of the album, but I guess it’s kind of a nice bonus to early adopters. When Strung Out recorded Live in a Dive shortly after the release of Paradox, they included “Don’t Look Back,” making a joke about how most of the audience had no idea that the song existed, and that the band itself was confused about what exactly it was about to play.

For me, “Don’t Look Back” is the exception that proves the rule. I’ve occasionally picked up “deluxe” versions of albums that include an extra track or two, and I’m almost always disappointed by them, because bonus tracks tend to be unnecessary at best, terrible filler at worst. After all, if these bonuses were going to be great, why not include them in the album in the first place?

Review: Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode One was disappointing. It was nice to be back in Rapture and spend a little bit of time with the city as it existed before crumbling prior to the events of the first Bioshock. But the combat was a little too familiar and the experience was over almost before it began, ending with an information dump/cliffhanger that made my head spin. If the plot had been doled out a little better over its running length, the abrupt ending would’ve been a little easier to stomach. Knowing that it was just the end of the first half of the experience and there would be a months-long wait for the second half just made the whole thing more aggravating.

This guy made the end of Episode 1 an aggravating experience.
This guy made the end of Episode 1 an aggravating experience.

Good thing, then, that Episode Two is so much better in just about every conceivable way.

I’m going to avoid talking about the plot as much as I can, because it deserves to be experienced without even minor spoilers. That said, Episode Two puts you in Elizabeth’s shoes for the first time, and it’s not just a voice-and-skin swap. She’s significantly more fragile than Booker, and has to rely on stealth to get her through most splicer-infested areas, especially on the game’s hard difficulty. She has a couple of new plasmids and weapons to help her in this endeavor, along with a stealth indicator that appears above her enemies, but none of it feels out of place, and the execution is consistently fun (and this is coming from someone who is generally terrible at stealth-based games).

Although I still essentially finished the game in a single sitting, it was a much longer sitting than I expected. I spent most of yesterday playing through it, and although I died a good bit (and this time out death is always permanent, another first for the series), most of the time I was moving forward, picking off splicers, listening to new audio diaries, and filling in previously-unexplained backstory for both the original Bioshock and Infinite. If creator Ken Levine had to retcon a lot of these details into the Bioshock mythology, you wouldn’t know it playing through Burial at Sea. It feels like this was always going to be the ending/beginning, a bridge between the two games that makes perfect sense of the jarring connection initially uncovered in the final moments of Bioshock Infinite.

The crossbow was my favorite way to pick off unsuspecting enemies throughout Episode 2
The crossbow was my favorite way to pick off unsuspecting enemies throughout Episode 2

Taken together as a whole, Burial at Sea is more than worth its rather high (for downloadable content) asking price. The ludonarrative dissonance that defines the entire series (why the hell am I sitting at a vending machine buying bullets when there are unhinged junkies all around? Why do I open up desks and drawers scrounging for money and eating and drinking everything in my path?) is still present, but so is the stellar writing and acting, which come together for another sucker punch of an ending. Just like when I finished the original story of Infinite, I stared at the credits scrolling by trying to process what I’d just seen for a few minutes.

I know that the world of Bioshock will continue to grow, but Burial at Sea feels like the end of an era (and considering the recent shuttering of Irrational Games, it most certainly is). I generally feel the same way about DLC that I do about bonus tracks on albums: sometimes good additions, but often unnecessary and almost always nonessential to the point of distraction. But this is different. If you’ve played both Bioshock and Infinite, and want to spend a little more time in Rapture figuring out what makes it tick and how it all came tumbling down, it is absolutely worth your time and money to pick up Burial at Sea.

Replay: Interstate ’76–Completion

(Note: I actually wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, but just now got around to making the screenshots for it. I am still kinda terrible at blogging)

Shortly after my last post, I hit a brick wall. I had previously decided to play I’76 on the game’s middle difficulty, Champ, after breezing through the first couple of missions. I am also a glutton for punishment and am known to play games on harder-than-optimal difficulties for the greater sense of accomplishment and to prolong the experience artificially. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I honestly get more enjoyment out of finally getting through a tough section of a game. But that’s the topic of another post entirely.

The point is, Scene (the game’s name for the single player campaign’s missions) 7 was kicking my ass. I read through a little bit of strategy for the game as a whole and the mission itself, and remembered that one of the game’s great keys (which you can totally ignore) is a sidearm mechanic where you can pick off a car that’s in the red by aiming your .45 out the side window of your car. If done right, it can drastically diminish the amount of time and ammo spent on each opponent, and once the mission’s over, you’re more likely to get undamaged loot to add to your own car, because you didn’t literally blow every car up to complete the prior mission.

The dreaded cops who stalled out my progress for so long
The dreaded cops who stalled out my progress for so long

One thing I had never even messed with before was my car’s armor and chassis distribution. After many deaths at the hands of Scene 6, I finally made it through by armoring up as much as possible and killing enough of my corrupt cop opponents in a short enough time to limp through their removed roadblock. I also had to regularly shut off my engine to avoid the radar lock of a helicopter overhead.

I’m spending so much time describing this one mission because it’s honestly where I spent a pretty good chunk of my total time with the game. None of the game’s other missions provided nearly the level of challenge this one did, thanks to its leap in difficulty coupled with my own poor strategy in the first few scenes resulting in less capable gear than I otherwise could’ve had. Once I made it through that, things were pretty smooth sailing to the conclusion, despite the fact that I was less than halfway through the game at that point.

A mid-to-late game escort mission. Once again, I'm impressed how much the lighting changes the overall feel of the mission
A mid-to-late game escort mission. Once again, I’m impressed how much the lighting changes the overall feel of the mission

The game’s developers tried to vary the mission structure as much as possible, providing a number of different escort missions, protect-this-building objectives, and even a brief (and kind of silly) stealth scenario, but generally the goal was to shoot the other cars without getting blown up myself. There are a couple of mazes and a few light puzzles (like a water tower that blows up into a ramp to jump over the wall of an otherwise impregnable fortress) as well, but I think when all was said and done I spent maybe 5 hours with the single player campaign. If this were still 1997, I could hop online and blow up the cars of some strangers, but as it is, I’m kind of sad it’s over already.

 

Before and after of the water tower/ramp. The first time I tried to use it I flipped over and had to restart the mission
Before and after of the water tower/ramp. The first time I tried to use it I flipped over and had to restart the mission

I should take a minute to talk about the game’s music. Though the funk soundtrack that accompanies every mission can feel a little dissonant sometimes, for the most part it adds to the late-70s atmosphere of the game. One track in particular has a pretty perfect “shit just got real and you need to fix it immediately” urgency to it, and it’s no surprise that the game’s final cutscene uses it to good effect. I actually had trouble getting the soundtrack to play during the game’s missions, so I manually queued up each mp3 (originally Redbook audio that could be played in any CD player) and set it to loop before I started each new scene. I put a couple of hours into trying to get it to work properly, and the expansion that comes with GOG.com’s downloadable version of the game works as intended, but for whatever reason, I had to settle for a workaround in order to get the complete experience.

Overall, I’m glad that I took the time to get it running (more-or-less) properly, because it brought back some good memories. I can picture being downstairs in my parents’ den, upstairs at my friend Bret’s, and in my cousin Matthew’s kitchen, all locations of computers where I originally played the game. Certain songs and line readings in particular brought me back to a time when afternoons and weekends were for video games, my parents’ disdain be damned.

Replay: Interstate ’76–A Shaky Beginning

Interstate ’76 was first released in early 1997. I played the demo around the same time, and somehow managed to get my hands on the full game shortly thereafter. As I mentioned before, I played a whole lot of demos as a teenager, but somehow in this case there wasn’t a significant gap between “played demo” and “acquired full game”.

Something about the game’s 70’s funk aesthetic struck a chord with me. The soundtrack was awesome, the voice acting solid and the plot surprisingly involved for a car combat game built on the MechWarrior 2 engine. I played through it at least twice, once at home and again at a neighbor’s (his family’s computer was much faster than mine and so played the game at a better framerate). I think I played through some or all of it again at a cousin’s, actually.

The game was not particularly complicated, but it had a good hook of blowing cars up, salvaging them for nicer parts between missions, and putting those parts to use before acquiring even nicer stuff. By the end of the game, the humble V6 you started with has given way to a V10, .30 cal machine guns have been replaced by 30mm cannons, and so on. Since you’re acquiring everything from the husks of your former enemies’ cars, they are perpetually more powerful than you, but that’s kind of how vehicular combat games work.

One time, I was playing the game at home after school, and suddenly the game’s protagonist, Groove Champion, reacted to my taking a beating in the car by deadpanning “ohhhh shit.” My Dad heard, and assumed it was me that had swore, and grunted out my name in that disappointed way that only a father is capable of. I insisted it wasn’t me, but he didn’t believe me for a second. I didn’t get in trouble for it, but I was a little annoyed that he thought I’d so casually swear at a stupid video game. I didn’t, and still don’t, swear in front of my parents.

I decided to replay the game because I had fond memories of it and I wanted to see how it held up in terms of the experience. Also, it was the first thing I thought of. Either way, I created a lot of extra work for myself. While the game was easily found on Good Old Games (GOG.com), it was essentially broken out of its virtual box. Some Googling for workarounds led me in the right direction, but after a few hours of effort, the frame rate of the game was still too high, causing the physics to break and resulting in an unplayable mess.

After a couple more hours, I finally found a simple solution that effectively solved the problem: forcing VSync and limiting it to 30Hz, hard-capping the game’s framerate via nVidia Control Panel. The whole experience reminded me of the way things used to be before video standards and Steam, though I do wonder if trying to play today’s games in another 15 years will yield a similar experience. I also did some shortcut modifying to get a Glide wrapper working (and tried some third party solutions with little success), which really changes the look of the game.

I’ll have to see how things shake out, but so far having Glide support is the most interesting thing I’ve done since I started this experiment. The game’s software mode is perfectly passable as far as gaming engines of its vintage go, but with 3d acceleration, the lighting adds a certain amount of subtext to every mission. The second mission in particular is much more striking with its as-intended sunset setting, as opposed to a slightly darker brown terrain with slightly darker blue skybox in the software engine (click for bigger):

i76

Now that the game is working properly, I’ve sped (pun vaguely intended) through the first third of the game, and once again finding myself remembering some of the game’s more memorable lines and scenarios, just like with Half-Life. Hopefully I’ll power through the rest in the next week or so and have another write-up ready when I’m done with it.

Any suggestions on what I should play next? It has to be something I’ve already played before, but I would consider playing the full version of a game I’d previously demoed, which opens up my options significantly.

Replay: Half-Life: Uplink

I remember most of the circumstances surrounding the first time I played Half-Life: Uplink. At the time, my family’s computer was nestled upstairs in a spare room for reasons I can’t recall, and I’d just acquired the latest PCXL magazine (rest in peace), which contained the demo, among others. I’d already read a little bit about Half-Life and the accolades it was beginning to amass, but there was nothing like experiencing a bit of it for myself.

I played a lot of demos in my teenage years, in part because it was fairly easy to convince my parents to buy me eight dollar magazines as opposed to fifty dollar full-length games, and each of those magazines generally contained hours of entertainment. Then again, my parents actively discouraged my gaming habit, so if they understood the kind of timesink they were enabling, they might not have been so acquiescent.

A few of those demos stand out. The first episode of Duke Nukem 3D, which I experienced (optimally, I think) at 13. Diablo, with its unsettling intro and truly terrifying encounter with the Butcher. Heroes of Might and Magic. Quake. Conquest of the New World, with a demo so long that I spent an entire evening not-quite-completing it.

But none of these had quite the same effect as Half-Life: Uplink. As I played through it today, I mostly remembered the events and layout of its maps, to the point where I felt a wave of deja vu hit when the NPCs started talking at me. I’m not sure if it’s because I played through it a bunch of times after that initial run, or just because it was so memorable to start with, but it wasn’t something I’d expected.

The demo itself is interesting because it’s not simply a slice of the main story. Instead of spoiling any of the experience of their superlative single-player campaign, Valve opted to build a little novella of a demo using the assets and scripting found in the real deal. It doesn’t last very long, but it has some fun moments involving marines rappelling in from an exploding roof, a half-finished burn-everything-and-bury-it job by said marines trying to destroy evidence, and a closing scripted encounter with one of the game’s most formidable foes.

Although the game looks terribly dated by today’s standards, the overall logic of the maps and the scripting and AI hold up very well. Just like I always have, I chose to play the demo on hard, and it had a consistent level of difficulty that had me constantly scrounging for health and (to a lesser extent) ammo, which is certainly the intended effect. I’ve read about Valve’s ability to control the player’s experience, and that was in full force here. At times, it felt more like survival horror as I made my way through the environment, hoping to survive long enough to get the next medpack or ammo pickup.

It definitely felt tuned to compensate for compulsive quicksaving, a habit I fell back into pretty quickly. I also found my muscle memory returning for Half-Life’s weapon selection system, despite having not played it or its sequel in many years. Enemies soaked up bullets and were generally hardy enough to withstand my frontal assaults, so I had to remember how to circle strafe and use corners effectively, since there were no chest-high walls or cover system to aid me. The AI still seems pretty smart after well over a decade, but its overall reaction time feels tuned to be just a little slow to allow the player to come back around a corner and get the drop on a marine or an alien that was previously staring right at you when you turned it.

Overall, I’m glad I took the time to replay HL:U. I like replaying games, to take off the rose-tinted glasses of the past and to judge them on their merits relative to today’s offerings. If all goes to plan, I’m going to start replaying some of the full-length games that were important to me growing up, writing about the experience as I go. Consider this a first taste.

How to Fix a Flashing, Unresponsive Squeezebox Boom

The Squeezebox Boom is basically the world’s best alarm clock. It streams music from your computer’s library via WiFi, can be set to any alarm schedule, and even has an ambient light sensor to dim itself when you are ready to go to sleep, among other features.

So imagine my dismay when I arrived home one day to find its buttons blinking and nothing on the display. Logitech built in a number of ways to hard reset the device and its firmware, but nothing I tried would bring it back to life.

I took to the Internet and found that one possible solution was to reseat the Boom’s WiFi card. I didn’t see any obvious way to take it apart, so this idea seemed like it was going to require a lot of time and specialized tools. The directions I found to do it were also vague at best, so I put it off.

A few months later, in a fit of inspiration, I decided to bring what had become an expensive paperweight back to life. The project was a success, so I thought I’d post some detailed instructions and pictures so I can help others get through the process.  The only tools required are a Torx 10 screwdriver and something flat to pry out the speaker grilles.

First, pry the grilles out from the top, toward the middle. In the picture below you can see the gap you’re aiming for. I used a flathead screwdriver, but something flat and plastic would be less likely to damage the grilles.

IMG_1383

Once you’ve pried both grilles out, you’ll see four Torx 10 screws flanking the display/buttons. Unscrew all of these, but be careful as you finish, because there’s an electronic ribbon connecting the front piece to the circuit board underneath.

IMG_1391

The front circuit board has five screws holding it in place. The screw in the middle is kind of camouflaged by the board itself, so be sure to unscrew it before you try to pry the board out (this may or may not be something I fell victim to). Note that now there are two electronic ribbons to contend with, the green one on top, and the yellow one on the bottom. These ribbons are notoriously fragile, so proceed with care. I actually pulled the green one out when I did this, but was able to simply press it back into place. I was lucky.

IMG_1385

Once everything is unscrewed, you’ll notice that pulling out the circuit board is made more difficult by the mini-Molex-like clip that provides power to the display. Unlike the ribbons, this clip is pretty hardy, so don’t worry about using too much force to yank it out. Just be aware that once it pops out, you still have to basically hold the circuit board in place because of the ribbons.

IMG_1387

On the backside of the circuit board is what we’re really after: the WiFi card. It has clips on the left and right holding it in place, but even when unclipped, it doesn’t travel very far. At this point, pull it out slightly to unseat it (don’t worry, it won’t even come all the way out) and then press it back in and reclip it in place.

IMG_1388

Put the circuit board back into its place in the Boom’s chassis without screwing anything back in and plug it in. If the Boom goes through its usual startup process, congratulations! You’ve fixed your Boom and can reassemble it. If you still get flashing buttons and no display, you can still unseat the WiFi card and everything should work fine over Ethernet. This may require snaking some cable under your bed and/or some sort of WiFi bridge to make work in a bedroom, but I’d rather be able to continue to use the World’s Best Alarm Clock than have the convenience of a simpler setup.

Song of the Day: The Decemberists – The Crane Wife 1, 2, and 3

When The Decemberists put out The Crane Wife in 2006, they edged just slightly from story-song-pseudo-folkrock into progressive rock territory, most notably with the 12-minute The Island: Come & See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel The Drowning, which is every bit as pretentious and meandering as its name suggests.

But while I eventually came to like that track a lot (along with the rest of the album), what really struck me as interesting even on first listen was the way the album’s title track was split into two, telling the end of the story as the album’s opener and then circling back to tell the beginning near the end. This sounds kind of pointless and cumbersome, but The Crane Wife 3 is a great album opener and although there’s a clear narrative thread between parts 2 and 3, part 2 ends on an emotional note that’s dulled a little by transitioning right into 3.

That said, when I saw that the band had recorded the song in narrative sequence for their live album We All Raise Our Voices to the Air, I was excited to hear it that way for the first time. I’m sure they’ve been playing it that way live for a while, but I’ve never seen them do so. It takes more than 16 minutes to listen to the whole thing, but I promise it’s worth it.

Listen: The Decemberists - The Crane Wife 1, 2, and 3

Song of the Day: Rx Bandits – Decrescendo

I meant to post this last July around the last time I went to see them live, but I never got around to it. This used to be their show closer, and was an amazing way to go out on a high note. For a few years they even added a drumming-duel-as-intro to the song between drummer cgak (née Chris Tsagakis) and either a drummer from one of the opening bands or another member of RXB. It was a great way to build energy for the pounding, staccato intro.

Decrescendo itself represents everything that is/was awesome about the band (it’s unclear whether their current split is permanent or not–though I’d guess it’s not). It’s the closing track from 2003‘s The Resignation.Though I think they got a little too proggy and technical in their last full-length effort, the mix of complicated riffs and beats, emotional lyrics and just a hint of bombast here make for a potent combination. I’m sad that they no longer close with it, but I got to see them do so a bunch of times and it’s immortalized on their 2007 Live at Bonnaroo set (iTunes link because it’s not available on Spotify or at Amazon), and in a few other places, including Rx Bandits Live: Vol. 1.

Rx Bandits - Decrescendo

Song of the Day: We Were Promised Jetpacks – Circles and Squares

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, but I’ll try to get back into the habit of it, because I love inflicting music I listen to on other people and also writing about it.

Anyway, today’s song is the opener on WWPJ’s latest album, In the Pit of the Stomach. It’s a propulsive album opener, setting the stage for slightly mathy post-punk to come. It should be noted here that I know that it’s post-punk because I’ve been told it is. I generally don’t have much concept of music genres, especially post- anything. Regardless, the whole album is a good time, though it rarely fires on all cylinders quite the way it does here.

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Circles and Squares

Notes from The Great iPod Experiment: The End

6 months, 27 days, 8 hours and 36 minutes. This is how long it took me to listen to the 11.5 days of music on my iPod exclusively while driving in my car (side note: Wolfram Alpha can do some pretty cool things). The fact that I spent more than a third of a month in my car in just under 7 months is a little frightening, but that’s a different can of worms.

I still plan to write about the minutia of listening to M-Z, but I really wanted to write something about finishing the whole thing, and it’s already been a month and a half since I did that.

Overall, it was a pretty satisfying experience. Like any project, beginning felt almost foolish, like something I was never going to want to finish, but even as I finished A (easily the longest letter of the entire endeavor) I felt like I had accomplished something. Eventually, inertia started carrying me and I became militant about finishing.

The last time I did something like this I listened to (fewer albums of) physical CDs and I was in my car a lot, driving back and forth from Federal Way to Bellingham to hang out with college friends while I took a year off. This time around the time in my car was mostly spent commuting from Issaquah to Seattle for work, although there was one camping trip that provided a nice 10-hours-in-three-days boost.

When I was finished, I culled a few albums from my iPod playlist, but not a wh. 30 gigabytes seems like a capacious amount of space, but I like a lot of music, and I tend to be loyal to the bands I listen to, so I have a lot of albums by a lot of artists. As it is, I deleted a few albums, added a few I’d either failed to sync or had acquired after the whole experiment started (I refused to make any changes to my iPod midway through) and ended up with no space once again. I could keep making cuts to make room for more new music, but as it is I was surprised at some of the stuff I’d already deleted, so I’m loathe to continue cutting out music that I know I enjoy listening to occasionally.

And yes, this is as #firstworldproblems as it gets, but it’s still vaguely upsetting.

Over the course of listening to about 400 albums by 138 artists (exact numbers elude me since, again, I’ve already changed the playlist) I missed a few things. While this arguably takes away from the purity of the experience of listening to “everything” on my iPod, I’m not really worried about it because I didn’t cheat on purpose, it just kind of happens. And it was only about an hour of music that I missed, so they’re extremely minor omissions.

While I’m glad to be free from the tyranny of the alphabet, I was kind of at a loss as to what to choose once the last track was over. I think I chose something fairly close to the beginning of the alphabet, since I hadn’t heard any of that music for the better part of 7 months, but the moment was unimportant enough that I don’t remember anymore.

Chances are good I’ll do this again at some point, but while I proved that every song on my iPod is worth listening to in its own way, I generally like to have a certain amount of control over what I listen to. I still throw the whole thing on random as described here on a regular basis, but whenever the whim strikes me, I can switch over to a full album.