Wednesday, February 22, 2006

figure skating and ipods

dick buttons is an ass. i wonder if nbc has purposely set him up to be the simon cowell or bill o’reilly of figure skating coverage – someone we love to hate, so we’ll tune in just to see how hateful he can be.

last night i stayed up entirely too late just to see what all the hype was about sasha cohen, and inadvertently discovered emily hughes, who rocked that ice, and two lovely Japanese skaters whose names i can't remember now. (i'm sorry it's just too early to be gathering links for everything for this post.) but at the same time i had to put up with dick’s scathing criticism. i’m not saying the man’s wrong about lousy technique or how someone blew a triple-flip – i’m just saying there are more polite, not to mention useful, ways of stating one’s opinion. if you say to me, “that layback was just awful – it wasn’t even a layback, the position was all wrong. she’s really being lazy here,” what i’d really like to know is, what’s it supposed to look like? looks fine to me – coming from a perspective of someone who watches figure skating once every four years. couldn’t he be a little more educational and little less of a prick?

dick buttons aside, i’m starting to formulate my own special reasons for why the nbc coverage of the olympic games sucks. i don’t mind the human interest segments – really, i don’t. y’all know what a sap i can be when the moment strikes. i have no problem getting personal backstories of athletes about to compete. i do have a problem with hearing that stuff during a competition, even if it's in the couple of warm-up minutes. you wanna do a separate segment on someone’s personal struggle to balance competition with family? fine. you wanna mention briefly that an athelete has been distracted by off-the-ice pressures and stress? ok. i can look up the rest of it if i’m interested. other than that, don't provide details about the guy's recent personal upheaval, whatever it happens to be. it’s unprofessional. it’s national enquirer. it’s soap opera. it’s embarrassing.


lately the issue of ipod usage has been knocking around in the back of my mind. i’ve written already about my own love affair with the cube brian got me for christmas, and i have to say it was really amusing to see olympic athletes rocking out with their tunes before they compete. i totally understand the need to block out the extraneous noise. it’s kinda cute that the jackets made for the american snowboarding team have special pockets built in for ipod storage.

i know that folks in big cities are loving their personal digital music players (not just ipods but other kinds as well.) they like to wear them on the subways, on buses, just walking around. i’ve heard it said as well that ipod use might contribute to isolation, which i can certainly understand. and hell, sometimes you want to be isolated. at work, my cube is a great way to keep unwanted visitors from telling me everything that has happened in their lives since the day before. (and if i want to hear you, i’ll unplug for a minute.) it also helps keep me focused during boring, arduous tasks.

strangely enough, i don’t use the ipod when i’m screwing around on the internet or writing blog posts.

i use it to walk and exercise, like many folks do. (can’t run at present, knees won’t take it.) and sometimes i’ll plug in while crossing the street to go to the grocery store. it’s very cool to have your own personal soundtrack playing whenever you like.

but it creeps me out sometimes, too. i wouldn’t ever plug in, say, in a grocery store. i just think it’s rude to be in an essentially social situation and tune yourself out, to where someone can’t comfortably walk up to you and ask if you know where the valentine's day m&m’s are kept. (not that i would ever really know the answer to that, you understand. *cough* ahem.)

obviously i can’t listen at home. even after duckie’s asleep, i’m not completely comfortable with anything that blocks out the sound of her waking up – mostly because the sooner i can pat her back down, the faster she goes back to sleep. usually. not so much lately, but usually.

and as for the hypothetical use of an ipod on an urban mass transit system, there is absolutely no way i consider it – mostly for safety reasons. it would be like riding blind, or without the use of any one of your senses in a potentially threatening environment. (although i could happily do without the sense of smell during such situations.) this isn't a product of 9/11 and the culture of fear, either -- this is just my needing to feel a little more aware of my environment when in a crowded situation.

we’ve been dealing with questions like this ever since the advent of the walkman – it’s just that ipods are cooler, more easily personalized, and of course less bulky. the issues of socialization and isolation remain essentially the same – perhaps differing in degrees.

any comments? whether you use an ipod (or other digital music player) or not, if you got an opinion, i’d love to hear it.

time to plug in and get back to work. ;)


SB Gypsy said...

I would use it on the train, and in other boring and monotonous situations. I used to use a walkman during art class, to help me concentrate. Not so much at a party, ;o) but the grocery store might be ok (gosh, I hate muzak!!) in fact, any place that plays muzak - like the doctor's waiting room.

andi said...

muzak SUCKS no doubt about it. and i am personally disgusted by the use of musical banality as a background for anything.

the grocery store here actually plays pretty good tunes - mostly oldies and some 80s rock (of the not-to-offensive variety, of course.) but muzak it ain't. thank goodness for small blessings.

long train rides i can certainly see how personal music players would come in handy, although i have always preferred to stick my nose in a book instead. and i can't listen to music and read for some reason (although i have no problem listening and working - which might give you an idea of how little my brain is actually functioning on the job.)