Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, September 28, 2007

An increasingly insular world?

Oh. My. Goodness.

For a screenplay I'm writing, one of the characters listens to a PLD (personal listening device - in his case iPod), so I got myself a refurbished iPod on ebay, and my world. Is. Rocked.

As much as I love music and to listen to Stephanie Miller's podcasts (I'm at boot camp while she's on these days), I am totally ensconced in my private cocoon of music and merriment.

It has been a pain in the derriere getting all the iTunes software and programming set up, switching the music format from Windows music player (some songs do not reformat from WMP to iTunes, sadly) and trying to keep the iPod from downloading a bazillion episodes of the "Stephcast" with the wrong episode dates, and directing them to the wrong category ("album") so I'd recommend you drop by your local Apple store *first,* before tackling this on your own if you are even slightly computer challenged.

I'm going there this weekend to get the quirks out of my new PLD BFF.

Of course Apple folks want us sad little PC users to switch over to the hip, kewl, wow! and now! MAC anyway, so I think they make it just frustrating enough to consider it.

The sound quality is amazing. Fantastic. A friend is wiring his new house so that he can plug his iPod into his sound system and all the house speakers will play his favorite songfest programmed in it.

I have 237 songs programmed, an audio Sherlock Holmes book and some Stephcasts which fills about half of my little 2G memory. I'm as happy as a little canary who didn't pass the physical qualifying me to work in the coal mines.


Here's the but.

I'm so thrilled listening to my music, it's difficult to interrupt my ecstasy. I'm reluctant to listen to people or the news or --

I play it while I'm driving - which I realize is not a good idea because I can't hear anything else in or outside the car - unlike the old Walkman, whose padded earphones allowed other noises to be heard. [Edited to note: um, good thinking, CP. I discovered listening to PLD's while driving is .. how do you say .. illegal.]

And of course it means I'm not listening to any radio stations. Surely *they* are not becoming obsolete?

Speaking of which, podding reminds me of when I worked in radio. I was news director and morning anchor at four different popular stations in the Seattle area. Music stations. Pop, rock, alternative songs. Which we'd crank up to decibels that made our sound proof rooms shudder. Our bodies were imbued with the music.

When we didn't do it to the room, we'd crank up the music in our professional mega-headphones, drilling our eardrums with MUSIC!

Because of my news work, I had to limit my exposure to these experiences, my hearing remains quite remarkable. My hearing becomes near dog-sensitive when I lie still - when I get a massage, the soothing music volume is too low for the masseuse to hear, but it's just right for me.

Unfortunately, I knew a lot of disc jockeys and musicians whose hearing was so severely harmed by doing this, they literally became either near-deaf or actually lost all their hearing.

Because of their hearing loss, they couldn't crank the music up loudly enough in their hot massive headphones to hear what they were playing, but we could hear the music pouring out of their sound-proof headgear across the room.

Maybe they just felt sound vibrations like Beethoven did when he went deaf.

My heart ached for them. Imaging loving music so much you want to work with it all the time. And these men and women knew music. And artists. And musical history. And instruments.

Then being cut off from that beloved sound except in memory, and ultimately from their jobs -- they kept screaming into the microphone because they couldn't hear themselves speak.

I find myself cranking my iPod as high as the "good old days," then remembering the folks who lost their hearing because they cranked, and try to keep blasting to a minimum.

Then I think of all the kids I see wearing iPods everywhere and wonder what their worlds are like. Are they cranking? Are they they happy in their insular pod worlds?

They're insulated by their music - not all sorts of music, but just the stuff they like. It's called "narrow-casting," contrasting with the idea of "broad-casting" all sorts of things to general audiences.

I'm fortunate because, as Phoebe Snow sang, "There ain't no music I can't use." I listen to *everything.* I enjoy every musical genre except songs with misogynist and homophobic lyrics.
That's good because as a film director I need to have an extremely expansive awareness and understanding of music, because each film has it's own musical character.

I'm currently working on a screenplay to be made that involves Chinese characters, so knowledge of a wide range of international music is crucial.

And I shuffle.

That means my music is scrambled up when it plays so I don't only listen to one artist forever unless I want to repeat the piece a bazillion times, which I'm also known to do.

As I say, when I'm podding, I am happy to have no human interaction except that of the singers or musicians or audio book or a radio show played at a time I can listen. That's my little pod world, and it pleases me.

I can see that limiting my pod time is in my future because I could have these little ear pieces stuck in my canals all the time, singing along, dancing like a crazy woman and be happy as a little clam escaping chowder duty.

Yes, I know the pods also download TV shows and youTube and all, but heaven help me if I got distracted with that. I am, however, going to buy episodes of 30 Rock on iTunes.

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