Day: August 27, 2013

Slow It Down And Play It Again

Each week, as I go through my RSS feeds, Twitter, email, and other mediums through which I find cool stuff, I come across things that I’ll open up in my browser but forget about. They may sit in an open tab for days, but at some point a mental alarm goes off and I think, “Well, I haven’t read that yet. Time to close it and forget about it.”

That happened a week ago with the freaky music item of the week, a slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” that people were buzzing about. It sat in a browser tab for at least four days. But each time I came across it again, I decided I didn’t have four minutes to sit and listen to it. Thus, as happens too often, I closed it and forgot about it.

Mistake.

Tim Carmody is guest blogging at Kottke this week. He reposted the “Jolene” audio along with the science behind adjusting the speed of a song and keeping it in tune. Then, he added several songs that he adjusted just to prove the math. I finally listened to “Jolene,” and it’s jarring. I don’t know if it’s good, but it’s pretty interesting to listen to.

(Non-footnoted aside: like most boys who grew up in the 70s, while I have no great affection for Dolly Parton’s music, a significant portion of my early joking career involved Ms. Parton. Thus she’s deep in my pop-cultural DNA. Plus, The White Stripes ripped this track up, so while I’ve heard the original less than 10 times, I’ve still heard a version of the song many times over the years.)

What’s really amazing are Carmody’s slowed down versions of Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.” And then, if you jump over to his Soundcloud page, he has much more.

These aren’t revolutionary re-workings of famous songs, versions you’ll want to listen to over-and-over again like the originals. But it’s a cool way to make your brain listen to familiar songs in a brand new way.

How To Make Your Own Slow Jams

Koana Islands

Wow, this fascinates me, and disturbs me almost as much. It’s an article about Ian Silva, a man in Australia who, through a combination of interest in maps and baseball, has created a very detailed, imaginary world. Complete with maps that look straight out of a real atlas and exhaustive records of the baseball league.

People in the Koana Islands love baseball. The first league play started in 1882, barely six years after the MLB. Between the top-tier, Triple- and Double-A leagues, there are over 180 teams spanning the island nation. Fans are so rabid that there’s even talk of expanding to a Single-A league, adding even more teams. If you’re a baseball fan, you might be surprised you’ve never heard of this. You’ll be even more surprised when you try to find the Koana Islands. That’s because the 32-island chain, with its nine major cities, 11 national parks, 93 million residents and a landmass that is equal to Spain and Sweden combined does not really exist.

It fascinates me because I spent hours as a kid staring at my grandparents’ world atlas when I visited them. I would, occasionally, draw maps of my own imagined countries and continents. And, of course, I loved baseball more than just about anything else when I was a kid. This could have been my creation. Well, I never stuck with anything long enough to do something this involved. But you get the idea.

Which is the thing that disturbs me about it, too. What was is it that sends some of us on paths where we have casual hobbies and diversions once we’re adults, and others of us into absolute obsessions like this? I had plenty of weird pastimes as a kid. I still have a handful of oddball interests that I don’t necessarily share with the world. Why do some people just read books, watch sports, maybe collect something while others spend their free time in an extra bedroom or basement obsessing over some esoteric amusement?

Oh, and this reminds me of the wonderful novel The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. as well.

Koana Islands

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