Would Superman’s preference for women with the initials LL (Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris) be considered a fetish? Does he go to websites dedicated to LL girls? Is he just not attracted to women without those initials? Does love at first sight exist for him or is it love at first learning her name? Chime in.

There is something to be said about context when listening to pre-recorded music. The specific context being what that music is played on. I appreciate good sound equipment but I am not an audiophile. I’ve never had a really good stereo system; mine have usually been made from hand me downs and cannibalized parts of previous systems. I’ve had some good boom boxes in my day and my sound systems have always been good enough for me to enjoy my music on but nothing to make an audiophile squeal.

I do insist on a good pair of headphones. I never listen to the ones that come with the Walkman, Discman or iPod. But the context I want to talk about is not Hi-Fi but Lo-Fi.

My musical tastes are as broad as my sound systems have been and there is an interesting convergence at one particular sound system. My little Panasonic RQ A200 cassette player. It is a Walkman style cassette player with two little speakers built right into the front of it. The speakers are tinny little Lo-Fi jobs that are great for one thing; listening old Lo-Fi recordings. Especially big band swing from the 30s and 40s.

I’ve listened to the same music on my Hi-Fi systems, and there is nothing wrong with that, it is just that the music sounds more authentic on the Lo-Fi system. That is how people originally heard these recordings. They take me back in time to the early days of radio where everyone only got a peek at what it was like to hear the big bands play. It is not really what a live band sounded like but it is how a lot of people heard them; wishing they could have the band in front of them.

A favorite trick of period filmmakers is to have some one listening to a big band on a Lo-Fi radio and then cut to a scene of the actual big band in all its Hi-Fi glory; thus emphasizing how people were only getting a small fraction of the musical experience. But I find that small fraction fascinating. With today’s Hi-Fi technology you can feel like you are right there with our modern musicians as they record. We always have them right beside us. When I am listening on my Lo-Fi system I feel like I’m hearing something ephemeral. A moment from the past where people were out having a good time listening to a live big band and I am with all those other people listening at their radios. We are all longing to hit the clubs and listen to Jimmie Lunceford, Glen Miller or Tommy Dorsey swing our blues away.

And speaking of blues I also like to listen to old blues recordings on my Low-Fi Panasonic.

So remember to play your music on a variety of machines and you might just hear something new in that old stuff.

The drought continues as I only got two comics this week. Conan #25 and Red Sonja #6. I fear these two may fall off in the coming months as Sonja #5 was pretty mediocre and Conan is losing its writer, Kurt Busiek, after two more issues. I need some recomendations for new comics.

I have an iPod just like everyone else. It is not a big fancy one but when I need music on the go it’s ready to rock ‘n roll. I also have my entire CD collection on my hard drive as mp3s. I almost exclusively listen to music played on my computer or iPod. I fully embrace the digital age. It offers a lot of flexibility and ease of use. But one thing is missing. The mix tape.

I had an occasion to drive my sister’s car today which has a tape player in it. I never purchased one of those contraptions that plays the iPod over the radio so I grabbed an old mix tape made by my friend Bunch (of The Vault of Bunchness). As I was driving along really grooving to the tape I began to feel a little nostalgic. I’m sure some of it was because of the music but some of the nostalgia was because of the format. The mix tape.

What makes the mix tape special is twofold:

1) Ease of use. You pop the tape in and let it go. It’s linear and plays in the right order no matter what. As easy as mp3s are, in general, to use if some one were to give me the same songs digitally with a playlist I would have to copy them to my hard drive, integrate them into my music library, i.e. put them some place so I know where they are, and then load up the playlist and start from the beginning (make sure it’s not on shuffle). Not terribly demanding but not pop in the tape easy. Also, integrating them into the music library can be daunting depending how big and complex the library is. Even if not daunting sometimes I don’t want to bother trying to find a place for new music I’ve never heard before and may never even listen to more than once. If once. It is actually a little harder to keep order in a digital music collection than a cd collection.

2) Someone has thought about the music. Making a mix tape takes hours and the person making it is thinking about the music the whole time. If a person bothers to put together a mix tape it is because he cares about the music, how it is presented and how it fits together. What song goes first? How do I follow it up? How do I stop some one from being bored and turning it off in the middle? To make a mix tape is to share the love of music. People put so much time and care into mix tapes that they consider them little works of art.

Oh, and that thing I mentioned two paragraphs above about sharing music digitally with a playlist, well it never happens. People swap music all the time but it is usually, “Oh, you like Bob Dylan, well here are 15 albums”. I don’t know anyone who makes a mix playlist and mp3s to pass around. People play their mp3 players on shuffle rather than make a playlist. It is easier. Now if some on says, “Wow, you gotta check out this band” they drop forty song on your hard drive and who has got the time to listen to forty of an unfamiliar band’s songs? They just sit there. Unlistened to. Not so with a mix tape. Pop it in and let it run.

Mixed cds enjoyed a brief period of popularity but mp3s soon took over. All of the people I know who made mix tapes have stopped making them. The technology of the cassette tape is dead but nothing has replaced the communication tool that was the mix tape. I knew him, Horatio.

For your information here was the mix tape I was listening to Named “Rejoice! The Vault Re-opened 8/30/96”:
Fields of Fire by Big Country
Telepathy by Lene Lovich
Full of Love by Dr. Calculus
Don’t Box Me In by Stanard Ridgway
Marguya by The Trashwomen
Pants by Randy Newman
Sparkling Brown Eyes by Wanda Jackson
I’m Nin’Alu by Ofra Haza
Attack of the Molemen by The Dickies
Jungle Boy by Bow Wow Wow
Praying Hands by Clawhammer
Chu! Chu! Chu! by Carna Beats
The Monkey’s Uncle by Annette Funicello & The Beach Boys
Digital Tenderness by Adam and The Ants
Spinderella’s not a Fella by Salt ‘n’ Peppa
Mr. X and Mr. Z Drink Old Gold by Mr. X and Mr. Z
Beats to the Rhyme by Run -DMC
Something Inside Me Has Died by Kommunsty FK
My Work Is so Behind by The Residents

And that is just side one.

Another slow week for me at the comic shop. I only bought one comic: Jonah Hex #4. I also picked up Back Issue magazine #7. That came out in Dec 2004 before bought it regularly. I, once again, recommend Back Issue magazine.