Dear John

30 years ago tonight I was working on the stock crew at a Winn-Dixie in Pensacola, Florida. As always, we had the store’s PA system cranked up, listening to the radio after hours as we worked. Suddenly the music was interrupted by a news flash that John Lennon had been shot outside his apartment in New York. At first we all thought it was a hoax, but as more reports started coming in, we realized it was true. John was my favorite Beatle.

“In My Life,” by The Beatles:


Yesterday afternoon Dave Scruggs told me about the Pandora Gadget – an interface into I’d never heard of either before.

If you haven’t heard of it, you ought to check it out. You can create various “stations” where you identify an artist or song, and Pandora will automatically grab music that’s similar and create a station that plays that type of music. It’s sweet. And the service is free!

You have the ability to vote thumbs up (play more like this) or thumbs down (don’t ever play this song again).

Here’s the expanded view:

And the smaller view:

I could sit at my computer all day long now. (As long as I keep the blinds closed & don’t see the nice warm sun shining down. 🙂 )

One issue I had when first getting started with the Pandora gadget: after I’d listened to a few songs and got hooked, it asked me to register. That wasn’t an issue. But the gadget UI wouldn’t allow me to scroll, and I couldn’t see all the entry fields, even in expanded view. I went to and registered there. That took care of things.

Try it out. You’ll be hooked.

XM satellite radio

I just returned from trip to Seattle.  The car I rented while I was there just happened to have XM Satellite Radio in it.  Cool!  A chance to see what the buzz is about.


One fun channel was “Cinemagic.”  I listened to it on the way to the airport this afternoon.  As I emerged from the parking garage in Bellevue and the radio found the satellite, I heard Samuel L. Jackson doing his Pulp Fiction thing.  God, what a great movie!  Just before his uber-cool lines about Ezekiel.  I’ve gotta go rent that movie tomorrow night.

It was so odd hearing sections of movies on the radio that way.

Kevin Spacey was next up, professing that he would “be whatever you want me to be” to his wife in American Beauty.  A song from the movie played, and was followed by Kevin’s first meeting with his daughter’s friend in the parking lot after the dance show.  Kevin has the ultimate set of geek / nerd / horny-teenage-kid lines.


Listening to them made me think about VOICES.  I don’t think mine is all that pleasant to listen to.  It’s certainly not a radio voice.  It doesn’t resonate well.

Listening to the actors, I realized a big reason why I like them.  It has nothing to do with what they look like.  It’s what they sound like.  It was about their voices.  The quality of their voices.  Tone and timbre.  Emotion.

I could sit back and listen to Tom Hanks do a voice over in any move (Apollo 13, Sleepless in Seattle).  Or Robin Williams (thinking of his soliloquy by the pond in Good Will Hunting.  Or Morgan Freeman providing narration in The Shawshank Redemption.

Kill the baby seal

One channel was very disturbing.  I don’t remember the entire channel name, but it ended with LM (where LM == Loud Music).

In a word: Shriek.  Yell.  Scream.  RAGE!!!!  (pick one, especially the last one.)

I couldn’t understand a thing the “singer” was screaming, but he was totally into it.  Driving distorted bass guitar.  Drums being pummeled.  Cymbals crashing.  And blind fury into the microphone.  I could hear the guy’s voice box ripping from his throat.

Like watching a bad car wreck… I couldn’t turn the channel.  I had to listen to more.  I could feel the rage building inside me.  Where’s my club?  I want to bash a baby seal.  NOW.  (well, that’s what I was thinking at the time.  I’m over it now.)

Yep.  That one was worth avoiding.  Whew.

The verdict

So am I going to buy it?

No, not yet, anyway.  I’d gladly pay the $10 per month (or whatever) for commercial-free music.  If I could pay on a month-by-month basis with no long-term commitment, that would be best.

But I don’t want to shell out the $200 (or whatever) for a special receiver.  Who knows if XM Satellite Radio is going to gain enough momentum to hang around?  I don’t want to own a cool collector’s item… just one more thing for the junk pile in the garage.

So the jury is still out.