Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Consumerism Raises Its Ugly Head

[Magnepan IIB's]


Because I am more and more often confined to living in the little apartment on the side of my house, I have taken it into my head to make it more habitable. Because of the arrival of a second sofa given me by my sister Gail, I had moved the fat square Pioneer speakers from the front room, where there was no longer room for them, to the apartment where there was at least some. I began to shop for small, or at least tall narrow, speakers that might fit in the front room on each side of the television.

In the course of shopping I discovered that I have long disliked the fat square Pioneer speakers I bought in a thrift store many years ago. It occurred to me to wonder if that is why I so seldom listen to music. I was astonished to discover that I could get quite decent, even excellent, speakers from long ago for not much money on Craigslist. So I did.

I bought a pair of a long-since-superseded model (IIB) of Magnepan magneplanar speakers for not a whole lot of money. They are six feet tall, two feet wide, and two inches thick. They tower over the little apartment but I don't care.

They are accurate, clear, detailed, and present a large airy realistic sonic image. Suddenly music is good. Instead of hearing a smear of 'music' I now hear individual instruments and the timbre of individual voices. Music is enjoyable, fun, exciting again. Rich, even moving. Before I heard music as through a glass darkly. Now it is face to face. I feel like the scales have fallen from my ears and I can hear again.

Though there is plenty of bass in these puppies, the legend that there isn't is so well seated that I now have to shop for a subwoofer. Which I am now obsessing on.

The theory is that if one gets a good (read 'sealed enclosure' / 'acoustic suspension') subwoofer instead of a crappy (read
'ported' / 'bass reflex') subwoofer one hears each mallet blow on the tympani head instead of a rumble of smeared low frequency sound. Curiously, the good subwoofers cost from two or three to twenty or thirty times as much as the crappy ones. Though it is inconceivable they could cost a dime more to manufacture. Sigh.

Not only am I pleased with my new old speakers, I am pleased with myself as well. Instead of thinking of how else I might use the old Pioneer speakers, instead of keeping them because they are too good to toss away, I manfully drove them to the local thrift store and handed them over. They are gone from my sight and from my house. Out with the old and crappy, in with the old and not-yet-crappy.

Because of my exile from my house until tomorrow when the bride, now the young wife, and her family will depart, I can not yet paw through my dusty collection of CD's for forgotten treasures. But tomorrow.

In retrospect I am angrier than ever that those little Irish pricks stole so many of my best CD's last summer. A curse on their little Fenian asses. May the road rise up before them that they bash their stupid little snub noses on it.

[Correction: The little Irish pricks committed a considerable list of vandalisms, mostly from complete indifference to, and lack of respect for, other people or their property. (See comments.) But they did NOT steal any of my CD's.

As for Damien, it goes without saying that he did not take any of my books. What would he have used them for? :o) ]


  1. Anonymous11:03 PM

    Mazel Tov, Jack. I am so happy for you and know that you will thoroughly enjoy the richness of the sound. You will hear things that you had never even noticed before.

    "Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years." ~William F. Buckley, Jr.

    "Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music” Sergei Rachmaninov

  2. Anonymous11:30 PM

    Besides, consumerism is GOOD...but should preferably be called "shopping therapy."

  3. Anonymous1:30 PM

    I wouldn't shit on your cd collections you miserable old fart. What business would such a philistine have in your oh so eclectic music you pretentious sap. And I actually got a right auld whack of those Pioneer speakers. May the road rise up and bash your ignorant, self-righteous, and selfish head in or if not, let karma truely bite your ilk in the ass in this recession, that would be nice. No one stole so much as a sweet from that house.

  4. Don't feel bad that Anonymous won't shit on your CD collection. If you really want, I'll do it. And he must be someone who actually knows you. He knows you're an old fart.

  5. Anonymous6:31 AM

    Of course I know him, and he knows fine well who his Irish posters are, so this was a very low and childish dig on his part in my opinion. Noone stole shit which is why I took offence. Anyway enough on that, its not really talk for a public blog.

  6. Actually Damien is right. On going through the CD's in detail to alphabetize them I discovered that they are indeed all there. I owe him an apology.

    Not that I will give him one until he comes back and picks up the pile of cigarette butts he and his little pals threw in the daisy bush in front of the house. And gets the numerous pieces of chewing gum out of the handmade Persian rugs where he and they threw them and then trod on it. And stuck in various other places around the house. What are you, three year olds?

    Or where he and his pals stubbed out their cigarettes on the front of the house. Or replaces the washing machine load of towels they left wet to mildew instead of putting them in the dryer two feet away.

    And on and on. I believe the list of depradations ran to 34 items. Now that I have found the CD's it is only 33.

    But thanks for all the tea. And for the compliment. If you think my CD collection is "pretentiously electic" when there is no pretense about it, you are admiring it. And me. As well you should. I am pretty cool.

    Much like when you thought I read "Ulysses" to be seen reading it, when in fact I read it in private. And bought and heard the CD's in private before I had to live with other people. I am glad you admire me. But then again, I deserve it.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Christy is a different person to me for the record, Christy said the Ulysses comment, and I very rarely post as anon, hope that clears up any confusion, but yes, it was me that took offense to the accusations of theft. With regards to anything else, like I said, no place for a blog. And Jack I much rather my collection of LP's and E.P's with their rich art-work on the sleeves and different musical arrangements rather than that obsolete c.d. collection in a dusty stack that you hold so dear, so don't be too proud of yourself. Ulysses is perhaps the most overrated book ever and I would agree with Christy, something to be seen reading.

  9. Anonymous9:29 AM

    "Ulysses is perhaps the most overrated book ever and I would agree with Christy, something to be seen reading."

    So when did you read it and come to that conclusion Damien?

  10. Non of anon's business really is it.

  11. Anonymous4:05 AM

    Just find it odd how one can find Ulysses over-rated without reading it? (I'm assuming you never had)

  12. Well then, your assumptions are wrong aren't they anon.

  13. Anonymous7:26 AM

    You have read Ulysses?

    I take it that like Jack you read it in order to be seen reading it?

  14. No, just seeing what the hype was all about, and it wasn't my favourite ever read and I'm not about to start saying it was either, so you don't really have a point anon.

  15. Anonymous3:18 AM

    I think you are lying.

  16. Just for the record, I have read 'Ulysses' and it IS over-rated.

    The best 19th Century American novel is 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville. Best 20th Century American novel is 'Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Best 21st Century American novel so far is 'Yiddish Policemen's Union' by Michael Chabon. Best 20th Century Canadian novel is 'Fifth Business' by Robertson Davies.

    The English novel is a dark unexplored wilderness to me but I think highly of both Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

    With all due respect, everything Irish I have read after Shaw and Wilde and including Joyce is so self-absorbed as to be dull. And yes, I do mean Frank McCourt -- booooring.

  17. Jack, I agree with some of it. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" is a better book than Policemen. And I love Robertson Davies, but I don't know why I don't read more of him.

  18. Christy5:10 PM

    I discovered Walter Scott recently. Rob Roy and the Talisman were great reads.

    And Jack, that Joyce comment was mere irritation at the time, an off hand remark.

  19. The best 20th Century author has to be Kurt Vonnegut, sharp wit and brilliant books. And Christy, don't feel bad about your "mere irritation", its to be fully expected when your arguing against complete ignorance.