Jen's Musings

Friday, January 21, 2005

Mp3 Mutterings

There are several noteworthy news items that have come about in the past week or so. The first being the new Apple iPod Shuffle. This Mp3 player about the size of pack of JuicyFruit is Apple's answer to the masses who adore flash memory-based Mp3 players (or for people who don't want to shell out $250 for a mini). The Shuffle comes in two models, a 512 MB version for a mere $99, and a 1GB version for $149. The Shuffle is already a success because there is a nearly 6 week long wait to get higher capacity version. Flash-memory Mp3 players have traditionally had one advantage over hard-drive based players: there are no moving parts, thus they don't skip. This would make them the ideal music delivery system for athletes and people on the go.... or are they? What most people don't know is that the regular iPod and iPod mini both feature a 25 minute memory cache. The hard drive only spins for a few seconds at a time every few minutes to re-load the cache. That's pretty good anti-skip protection if you ask me. The hard drives of these products only spin I've had my pink mini since Christmas, and I've given it quite a beating at the gym and it has never skipped once. So if you can't decide between the Shuffle and the Mini, pick the Mini because it's very unlikely to skip, comes in 5 different colors, has a higher capacity, and has a display.

Next on the agenda, Sony has admitted that their stance on Mp3 players was wrong. Finally! Until last December, Sony didn't have a single hard-drive Mp3 player that ACTUALLY PLAYED MP3's!!! The "iPod killer" NW-HD was anything but because only music format it used was it's proprietary ATRAC format (which stands for Adaptive Transform Accustic Coding). So a person such as myself who already had 5 GB of Mp3's on their computer from the glory days of Napster (don't steal music), would have to go through a lengthy process to convert all the Mp3's to ATRAC before transferring them to the device. That's bad because it just eats up precious hard drive space storing duplicate files. Although Apple has its proprietary music format (AAC - which are actually MPEG4 files, but please don't ask me what AAC stands for. Best guess: annoying apple codex), iPods have always been able to play Mp3's. So, good job Sony for finally realizing they made a mistake. Maybe they should just focus their hand-held device energy on the PSP. I have $200 burning a hole in my pocket just dying to pre-order it!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


In my experience, popular youth fashion has had one objective in common throughout the years: to make the wearer look as bad as possible. Here's a brief throw back to some of the awful fashion trends of yester-year:

Hammer Pants (circa 5th or 6th grade): Ok, so you want us to look more pear-shaped?

Afro-centric garb a la TLC and Arrested Development (circa middle school): The brighter, the better, and oh so baggy. We were the whitest black and proud around.

Grunge (I personally stuck with this one for most of high-school): Lots of flannel, corduroys, army boots. I spent many a Saturday thrift-shopping for the perfect ugly flannel.

Towards the end of the grunge period, the movie Clueless was released. One of my favorite lines is when Cher says something like, "Guys roll out of bed, put on their baggy pants, cover their greasy hair with a backwards cap, and we're expected to swoon? As if!"

So, I thought that today's youth had broken free of this seemingly never-ending cycle of ill-fitting garb. After all, there was the logo-print trend, the low-rise pants revolution, and the demystifying of the thong panty. Britney Spears and NSync were the poster-children of high self-esteem and self-respect. People were no longer hiding their bodies behind layers of cloth

However, something has gone terribly wrong and I was confronted with this harsh reality at the Bright Eyes concert earlier this week. Never before had I seen so many people gathered in one place who tried so hard to look homeless. Guys were wearing faux-vintage blazers adorned with carefully placed pins and buttons over faux-vintage t-shirts, some with clever sayings, and meticulously mussed hair. The girls looked like faximilies of the Olsen Twins - pretty girls putting a lot of effort into making themselves look unatractive.

Who is to blame for this Britney-school-girl backlash? Heck, even Britney herself has climed aboard this fashion train wreck. Is the trucker hat to blame, or is this an inevitable rebellion against the label-whoreing days of the early-"aughties"? I for one, am going to try my best to sit this one out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bright Eyes Dimming

To celebrate MLK Day, my dear friend Edna and I went to go see the Bright Eyes show at the Riviera. Wow.. What a debacle! The first band, Tilly and the Wall, was pretty good, and I must say I was very impressed that they were able to pull off the substitution of a drummer for a tap dancer. Coco Rosie, on the other hand, was horrendous! The band was comprised of a female keyboard player, a guy beatboxing, and a woman "singing" (although singing is too good of a word for her.. she sounded like a cross between an alleycat orgy, a baby wailing, and traditional Indian singing). To top it all off, they performed beneath projected badly drawn-images of x-rated unicorn pile-ups. Times like those make me wish the "Men in Black" memory flashers actually existed.

Finally (and not a moment too soon), Conor Oberst and his Bright Eyes took the stage. He's releasing 2 albums simultaneously on Jan. 25th, however his current tour is only promoting the more "country" of the two albums. When I heard this, I immediately assumed they would play a good mix of both old and new. However, I was way wrong. Between Edna and I, we only recognized one song out of the entire 90 min. set. Don't get me wrong, the new stuff is good, and I would recommend to nearly anyone to buy their new albums, but I couldn't help feeling ripped off upon leaving the venue. I wasn't alone either.. between songs, one could hear booing and the names of his earlier hits being dropped. I am of the school that believes that a band must be thoroughly established before playing concerts consisting of nearly all new material... for instance, if U2 were to play a concert and play all their new stuff before a record were released, I'd be so happy to be amongst the privileged few to hear it first. However, Conor, you are no U2 - and I want my $23 back.