Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Stuck at the office late. Again. Big frickin' surprise. But, my irritation at being in my office at this hour of the evening is tempered by the religious experience of listening to "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" in DVD-Audio. It's just frickin' fantastic.

I'll take questions now.

Q: What the hell?

A: I don't follow.

Q: What is this about pink robots? Are you freaking out up there in that office tower?

A: Yes. Yes I am, in fact. But not about the pink robots. I'm talking about the 2002 masterpiece of alt-prog-techno-rock, "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" by the Flaming Lips. It's one of the best albums of the last ten years. Or the next ten, for that matter.

Q: Is this just your opinion?

A: Not necessarily. A song off the album won a Grammy, for whatever that's worth.

Q: Why haven't I heard of it?

A: It won in the little-known "Best Instrumental Song" category.

Q: Ah, I see. And which song won?

A: "Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia)."

Q: I see.

A: Yes.

Q: It's that sort of album.

A: Yes.

Q: Sort of like something by...

A: Yes?

Q: What was that group with the weird album covers...

A: Yes?

Q: Yes.

A: Yes. They're a lot like "Yes"--if "Yes" had a complete suckectomy. Which is a tall order, because there's a whole lot of suck to suck out of "Yes." And I own the "Yesyears" box set, so I know from suck.

Q: Sure you're not freaking out?

A: No, I just pinched myself and it still hurt. By the way, the Lips also recorded a wonderful version of "White Christmas" that almost made it onto the Christmas album this past year. The only problem with it was that it sounded exactly like it was being crooned by Marvin the Martian through a cell phone, and I was trying to avoid the whole comedy thing. But a disc with the Flaming Lips's "White Christmas" and Tenacious D's "Cool Sh*t I Want" would be a hell of a Christmas release.

Q: And now you're watching a DVD of this robots thing?

A: No. I'm listening to the DVD-Audio of it.

Q: And that is different how?

A: It's not DVD audio, it's "DVD-Audio." An audio CD on a DVD. It's the "quad" of the new millenium, though you're not supposed to say that. You're supposed to call it "hi-resolution audio" because it has twice the resolution of CD audio and sounds incredibly sharp and defined. And it does. But the fun part is that DVD-Audio has five surround-sound speakers to work with. Most of the classical albums use the surround channels to give you a sense of the concert hall space.

Q: I see.

A: The Flaming Lips, of course, are a little more aggressive in their use of those back channels.

Q: I see.

A: When your Christmas songs sound like Marvin the Martian, you get into that kind of thing, you know? Drums that spin around the room and such.

Q: Ah. And will this "DVD-Audio" be the next big thing? Will I have to throw out my CDs and start over?

A: No, no, it's pleasantly doomed. The companies, in their brilliance, started a format war along the lines of VHS vs. Beta. Sony released its "Super Audio CD" as a direct competitor. So they've taken what was a niche product at best, and divided that little niche into two teeny-tiny nichelets. Sony has the Billy Joel catalog, while DVD-Audio has locked up the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan.

Q: Holy crap!

A: Yup. The demographic is apparently baby boomer technophiles with too much money and bad taste in music. It's taken a full year for anything decent to come out on either format, but it's finally happening. Beck's "Sea Change" is also a religious experience.

Q: You don't seem bothered that it's doomed.

A: No, I'm not. You'll recall that I was--and still am--a laserdisc enthusiast. So I know from lost causes.

Q: And you're at work right now?

A: Yes. Yes. YES! (sobs) I'm eating Chinese takeout, in fact.

Q: Listening to this DVD-Audio?

A: Yup.

Q: At work?

A: Yup. I got myself a good 5.1 speaker system and a SoundBlaster Audigy card. I figure that if I'm going to spend most of my frickin' days in this office, I might as well listen to good music while I do it.

Q: Isn't it distracting having pink robots over your shoulder while you work?

A: No more so than having a blog.

Q: I see.

A: Any further questions?

Q: Did you see the State of the Union address last night?

A: No, but Shannon filled me in by acting out the facial expressions of several people in the audience. I highly recommend her Hillary Clinton imitation.

 8:34 PM

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