Bootcamp Day 22 — Radio Disney

Today was a hellishly busy day at work, leaving me no time to listen to XM. So it’s just as well that today’s Bootcamp assignment was Radio Disney.

I listened for a short while at home this morning, until my son demanded I turn it off — a demand to which I was quite happy to agree. In the short time we listened, I heard more about Hillary Duff than I needed to know, as well as being treated to a McDonald’s commercial and some vaguely music-like noises.

Even though I don’t have XM in the car, I got more Bootcamp time on the way to work by listening to the local Radio Disney AM affiliate, KMKY/1310. Again, I was treated to more information about Hillary Duff, including her sister’s name (which I promptly forgot, and which turns out to be more difficult to find via Google than I would have expected (for those of you who are curious, it’s Haylie). And one of the songs I heard appeared to be the theme of a program I’d seen in the TV listings for the Disney Channel.

I decided that I didn’t need to try to work to the sounds of Radio Disney, and as it turned out, my day didn’t even make that an option. But I did tune in one more time to KMKY/1310 on the drive home — and they were having some sort of contest, and pushing yet another Disney product.

I have a friend who has two daughters, 11 and 13, and he says that they listen to Radio Disney frequently, as well as watching shows on the Disney Channel. I guess boys and girls are different, because the only Disney demand in our household is for trips to Disneyland. And I’m pleased about that.

I am grateful about one aspect of my Radio Disney experience: they didn’t play “It’s a Small World” during the time I was listening. I don’t think I’m going to give them another chance.

Shabbat Shalom!

Bootcamp Day 21 — XM Pops

XM Pops has been the most-listened channel in our house since we got XM in early December. Its goal is to play the basic repertoire, and it succeeds admirably in that goal. When we tune in, there’s always something familiar, and it’s always enjoyable.

There are times when I’d like a bit more humanness on the channel, giving a bit more information about the music, but otherwise, it’s just fine. And when I want to hear something more adventuresome…well, that’s why Bootcamp has been so educational.

Bootcamp Day 20 — Deep Tracks

Back on January 13th, when Bootcamp visited the 70’s, I wondered where all of the music I’d listened to during that decade had gone.

Today, that question was answered as Bootcamp moved on to Deep Tracks. This was yet another channel which I hadn’t had a chance to listen to at any length, but which I expected to like when I got around to it, and today was my chance.

I awaken most mornings to KDFC/102.1, which I usually turn off immediately, and that’s it until it’s nearly time to leave for work. But this morning, I prevailed on Jeff and Diane to let me turn on the XM radio right after breakfast so I could get started with Deep Tracks. And I wasn’t disappointed — my instant reaction was, “I haven’t heard that song for a long time”. Unfortunately, the song in question was The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Rain on the Roof”, which was never one of my favorites, but it did set the mood of rediscovery for the day.

I had to go back to FM for the drive to work — I used to like the Greg Kihn show on KUFX/98.5, but the music/talk ratio has been deteriorating for a long time, and today was no exception. And, of course, they tend to play the same few hundred songs all the time — Boston’s “Just Another Band from Boston” was the only song I heard during my drive (I gave up and went back to KCBS/740 for news).

When I got to my office, I fired up the XMPCR to continue listening to Deep Tracks, and decided I’d see if I could get a request onto their queue. The DJ (I think it was Earle, but I’m not sure) answered right away, and we chatted for a bit (including a discussion of Bootcamp and of this weblog). I had two requests in mind — I wanted to hear pretty much anything by Quicksilver Messenger Service, but he’d just played something by them, so we moved on to my second request, “The Intro and the Outro” by the Bonzo Dog Band. I was afraid he’d tell me it belonged on Special X, but he didn’t — instead, he said he’d play it in six minutes. And he did, just in time for me to hear it before my first conference call of the day.

I kept listening, albeit usually as background music, all day, and enjoyed it immensely. I must admit to tuning away when the Grateful Dead Hour started, though — I do have my limits.

I’ll be back to Deep Tracks frequently. Strongly recommended!

Bootcamp Day 19 — Real Jazz

One of the nice things about living in the Bay Area is having a full-time jazz station, KCSM/91.1; I’m a member, and it’s been one of the presets on my car radio for a number of years. But they talk a lot. Sometimes, it’s good, when they’re talking about the music; other times, it’s not so good, when they’re going through the Jazz Datebook or asking for support (I know that they have to run pledge drives — that’s how they got me to join in the first place — but I don’t have to like them). And reception could be better in a lot of places. But still, it’s one of the FM stations I listen to most often.

So I expected to enjoy today’s Bootcamp channel, Real Jazz. And I was not disappointed. I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve heard today, whether I was using it as background or foreground listening (more background than foreground, I’m afraid). The only real problem was a timing problem — today is also Mozart’s birthday, and I’d also like to be listening to the All-Mozart day on XM Classics. But it’s ok — I’m sure we’ll be listening to Mozart at home.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep listening to jazz at work — definitely worth a preset!

Bootcamp Day 18 — Discovery Radio

I hadn’t gotten around to listening to Discovery Radio before today — for that matter, I haven’t watched much on Discovery TV even though I’ve had it on cable and satellite for many years. Both the radio and TV stations are loaded with interesting shows about various topics (I’m listening to one on synthetic memories now). But they require one to pay attention to get any value out of the time, and it’s hard to pay attention to the radio while doing the kind of work IBM wants me to do.

I could definitely enjoy listening to this channel on a plane, or at the gym, or even while driving — but it’s not something I can deal with at my desk. I’m giving it a “B” despite being unable to listen to it here, because what I did hear was very good.

Save Special X!

Today is a special, and sad, day at XM Bootcamp. XM announced changes to their channel lineup at CES; those changes take effect on February 1. Four channels got the axe — three which were sourced from Univision and played Latin music, and one XM original: Special X.

Special X plays anything and everything, starting with the weird and getting stranger from there. Of course they play traditional odd stuff, like Weird Al Yankovic, Tiny Tim, and Mrs. Miller, and they play the Dr. Demento show frequently — but you can hear that on the regular radio dial if you look carefully. Special X goes farther: they have a six-hour surf music extravaganza (“Wax My Woody”); there’s the weekly Polka Party; I just listened to “Sci Fi Hi Fi”, which is just what you’re afraid it is; they feature cartoon music on “Wabbit Tracks”, and they can get even stranger — I survived an episode of “The Fabulous World of Parrot Training Records” earlier this morning.

No, it’s not a channel which appeals to everyone; it’s not even a channel which appeals to me all of the time — and I don’t think it would make good background music at work. But it’s a channel which makes XM special, and I will be very sorry to see it go dark next weekend.

But the badges WERE stinkin'!

We’re just back from the first BADGES (Bay Area Dining and Geocaching Enthusiasts Society) dinner, where I picked up Cassie, my first travel bug. Now I have not only to get her to France (that’s easy), but I have to find a cache big enough in which to leave her (and that may be tricky).

Cassie the Travel Bug: On her way to France...maybe. It was good being able to put faces to names (or aliases), but there was one small problem with the event — if you used the marker the hosts provided for the name tags, you wound up with, very literally, a stinking badge.

Bootcamp Day 16 — America

When I was growing up, I claimed to like almost all kinds of music — the only kind I was sure I didn’t like was country.

Of course, when I was growing up, there weren’t as many different sources of music as there are today — the idea of 60 channels of music, each playing a somewhat different variety, was as wild an impossibility as being able to choose between more than three TV shows would have been.

So the only country music I was ever exposed to was whatever was being broadcast on WXGI/950 — and I definitely didn’t like it. As far as I could tell, it was all the same song, twangy and irritating.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are many more kinds of music than I heard as a kid, and I’ve learned that I like many of them — not all, by any means, as the “F”s on my Bootcamp Scorecard show. But I have rarely gone back to a variety that I decided I disliked.

So I thought I was being generous when I predicted a “C” for today’s Bootcamp channel, America. And when I first tuned in this morning, my initial reaction wasn’t very favorable — the music was twangy and irritating.

But then Larry Gatlin’s “She Used to Be Somebody’s Baby” came on, and I realized that there was more to country music than I had known. I would have thought I was listening to gospel music, except that there was a bit of a twang in the voices.

I kept listening for a while and enjoyed most of what I heard; then I turned it off and went to work. I set the XMPCR back up, and tuned in, and again, I liked most of what I heard. There were even some songs which I knew and liked, such as Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” — I just hadn’t thought of those songs as being “country”.

Hey, there’s another familiar song on right now — Alison Krause’s “Man of Constant Sorrow” — I know the song (if not this performance) from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?“, a movie I really liked (especially for its music).

Today’s Bootcamp experience was a pleasant surprise, and I’ll be back for more (though I can’t decide between giving it a “B+” or an “A-“). Definitely a solid end to the week, and a huge improvement over the last couple of days.

Shabbat Shalom!

Bootcamp Day 15 — SquiZZ

After yesterday’s experience with The Rhyme, I was confident that SquiZZ would be a significant improvement in my XM diet. But I didn’t have high hopes (as you can tell from my expected rating of “C”).

I was pleasantly surprised when I tuned in — the music was a bit harder-edged than most of what I like to listen to, but not so hard-edged as to irritate me. And when I listened this afternoon, I enjoyed Grant, the announcer. But I wasn’t crazy about the lyrics of a lot of the songs — it wasn’t as bad as on The Rhyme (and I dread the day Bootcamp visits Raw), but there were still more Strong Words than I like to hear in my music.

I can see coming back to listen again from time to time, but I don’t think SquiZZ will earn a preset from me.

I guess it was random!

I flew home from Tucson today; unlike Monday, I didn’t have to go through secondary security screening. *whew*

The flight (on Horizon) was very nice — in other words, I had an empty seat next to me and no one in front of me reclining the seat. It was too early in the day to have a beer (Bert Grant’s Deep Powder Winter Ale, from the Yakima Brewing and Malting Company), but I did give it careful consideration, because it had been quite tasty on Monday afternoon.

Perhaps the best part of the flight, though, was the time. My meeting wrapped up last night, so I changed my reservations and took an 11:10am flight out of Tucson (we actually were “wheels up” at 11:07!) and was home well before 2pm. And so I’ll be having dinner at home with my family instead of at an airport — much nicer!