January 02, 2007

Loreena McKennitt's Ancient Muse

I'm a huge fan of Loreena McKennitt's music. I don't remember when I first bought one of her albums (probably The Book of Secrets), but it didn't take long for me to buy the rest. Her particular variety of celtic music has a mystic other-worldly quality to it, as if someone injected a bit of Enya into a more "typical" celtic vocalist.

In fact, her Wikipedia page says:

McKennitt is often compared to Enya, but is more grounded in traditional and classical invocations using literary works as sources of lyrics and springboards for interpretation...

I found that after writing this post and looking for links to information about her.

an ancient muse Browsing Amazon a few weeks ago to finish some last minute giftmas shopping, I happened across An Ancient Muse, her newest album. After I got over the shock of discovering that she's released album without me hearing about it, I immediately clicked the Amazon Prime free two day shipping button (all hail Amazon Prime!)

I've had the album in my hot little hands a few days now and have listened to it at least ten times. I think the highest compliment I can pay is to say that it's exactly what I hoped it would be: more of the same.

It's a worthy successor to The Book of Secrets, which has a 5-star rating on Amazon and over 440 customer reviews!

So many artists with a few albums under their belt decide to do something "bold" or "new" and end up disappointing the loyal fans that made them such a success. Not McKennitt. This album is classic Loreena. No surprises.

I love it.

My favorite tracks so far are "The Gates of Istanbul" and "The English Layde And The Knight", but the whole album is awesome. It further cements her among the ranks of my top five favorite female vocalists of all time. (Maybe I'll list the other four someday...)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:40 PM

January 15, 2005

Best Headphones Ever: Sony MDR-V6

In 1995 I first tried on a pair of Sony MDR-V6 headphones. I was working as a full-time Unix sysadmin (for co-op credit) in the Department of Computer Science at BGSU and my supervisor had a pair that he loaned me for a day. I was so impressed that I bought a pair the next day and it's still the only model of full-sized headphones that I buy.

The price has come down quite a bit since then. They can be had on Yahoo Shopping for less than $75 in a few stores. If you try Amazon, you'll find that they're currently not in stock (and seem not to be most of the time).

A few weeks ago I ordered two more of these. I wanted a newer pair for work and a pair for home as well. The ones I had at work were showing their nearly 10 years of age but still sounded excellent.

What's to Like?

  • foam padded earpieces that cover your whole ear and block out ambient noise
  • padded headpiece
  • 1/4" stereo adaptor included
  • excellent frequency response (the highs are clear and the lows are powerful)
  • the size adjustment mechanism works well and holds up over time
  • very long cord that never seems to lose its spring

If you're in the market for a set of full-size stereo headphones, I highly recommend the Sony MDR-V6 headphones. It's a proven design that's been on the market for at least 9 years now.

I'm seriously considering another pair just to have on hand 10 years from now when I need a replacement.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:23 AM

December 06, 2004

MC Hawking's A Brief History of Rhyme

Oh, I knew this day would come. According to Amazon.com the long awaited wide CD release of MC Hawking's excellent Brief History of Rhyme will be available on December 7th.

By my calculations, that's about 35 minutes from now.

Kick ass!

You may remember me writing about this back in June. I was lazy then and didn't bother to order the CD on the MC Hawking web site, instead hoping it'd become available on the iTunes Music Store or maybe Amazon.com.

Can you say 1-Click Pre-Order?

All hail Amazon.com!

Anyway, if you haven't had the chance to sample this fine masterpiece of music, I highly recommend doing so. My personal favorites are track #7 (Crazy as F#@k) and track #10 (F#@k The Creationists).

Posted by jzawodn at 11:26 PM

November 28, 2004

Where I can buy MP3s online?

I'm a loyal user of the iTunes Music Store (222 tracks and counting), but there's a lot of stuff they just don't have.

Say, for example, I have a sudden and irrational craving to own a copy of Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" (yes, the song from the original National Lampoon's Vacation). Where can I go to buy it?

I honestly don't know and it really bothers me. I figure there must be a few great places, but I just don't know any of 'em. If this was the year 2000, I'd just grab 'em off Napters, but the era is long gone. I don't mind paying for this stuff. I've done so 222 times so far. I just don't know who to give my 99 cents to this time.


(Oh, just FYI: John Hughes and Harold Ramis are both gods.)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:04 PM

July 15, 2004

Rating iTunes Tracks from the Keyboard

I may be a moron, but I can't seem to find a way to assign a rating to the currently playing track using the keyboard. The only way seems to involve the mouse and bringing up the track's info window, clicking to the "Options" tab, and so on.

There's no way I'm going to rate more than a handful of tracks using such a slow and tedious method. But until I do, the "Party Shuffle" feature produces far less than optimal playlists.

I want something as easy as the thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons on a Tivo. I hope that's not too much to ask for.

Hints, anyone? I've asked the all-knowing search engines for help and have come up dry so far.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:55 PM

June 23, 2004

MC Hawking CD Available!

As Josh notes, the long awaited MC Hawking CD is now available. And there's even a hilarious Flash "commercial" for the disc.

I haven't bought a physical CD in quite some time. But the iTunes Music Store isn't likely to carry it, so I'm ordering my copy right now.

Sadly, their on-line store doesn't accept PayPal, so I have to enter my fu*%ing payment info yet again. More on-line payment insanity I guess. :-(

Posted by jzawodn at 01:35 PM

March 31, 2004

The Longest Time

Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do
I'm so inspired by you
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Once I thought my innocence was gone
Now I know that happiness goes on
That's where you found me
When you put your arms around me
I haven't been there for the longest time

Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh
For the longest
I'm that voice you're hearing in the hall
And the greatest miracle of all
Is how I need you
And how you needed me too
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Maybe this won't last very long
But you feel so right
And I could be wrong
Maybe I've been hoping too hard
But I've gone this far
And it's more than I hoped for

Who knows how much further we'll go on
Maybe I'll be sorry when you're gone
I'll take my chances
I forgot how nice romance is
I haven't been there for the longest time

I had second thoughts at the start
I said to myself
Hold on to your heart
Now I know the woman that you are
You're wonderful so far
And it's more than I hoped for

I don't care what consequence it brings
I have been a fool for lesser things
I want you so bad
I think you ought to know that
I intend to hold you for the longest time

Posted by jzawodn at 10:59 PM

January 25, 2004

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life

Performed by Sarah McLachlan but the iTunes Music Store won't sell it to you.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:21 AM

November 25, 2003

Brian Eno's Music for Airports

cover It's rare that I recommend music, but I've recently decided that Brian Eno's Music For Airports is some of the best background music for writing.

I've owned this particular CD for at least 4 years but have only recently begun to listen to it with any regularity. A couple weeks ago, I popped it into the CD player while hacking on a book chapter and left it on repeat. Since then I haven't even thought of taking it out of the rotation. Like much of his other ambient work, its very subtle and just fades into the background as your concentration and attention focus back on the task at hand.

If you're a fan of Brian Eno or Ambient Music in general, I highly recommend it.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:48 PM