Archive for the 'ETC' Category

My “Top Music of 2013” List

Without any further explanation or unnecessary chit-chat, here are my TOP ALBUMS OF 2013:

ImageArcade Fire, Reflektor
Any follow-up to an “album of the year” release, such as Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” a few years ago, is likely to face either overwhelming praise, or more likely undue criticism.  Showing their mettle, however, Arcade Fire did what any great band ought to do: release an album that they enjoy.  They’re clearly in this as musicians and artists first — not for gaining notoriety, fame, and so forth.  It begs the question, though….is Reflektor as good as their last album?  Probably not.  But there are a lot of great songs on this record, and it is very clearly an Arcade Fire album.  They made the record that they wanted to, and I applaud them for that.  Notable favorite tracks:  Reflektor and We Exist

ImageThe Civil Wars, The Civil Wars
Another band following-up an incredible smash-hit album, The Civil Wars hit some interesting speed bumps.  Although the full story is not really known, there has evidently been some disagreement between Joy and John Paul.  They speak to each other rarely, if at all, which casts an interesting cloud over this entire album.  It feels sad.  Even the more upbeat songs feel somewhat forced, and it has a way of breaking your heart when you listen to it.  I’d be curious to know if folks who do not know the backstory get the same vibe.  I’m guessing they would.  Regardless, this album is wonderfully and beautifully made.  Compared to their last album, it feels less “catchy” from beginning to end, if you ask me, but is *technically* even more mature and fascinating.  Notable favorite tracks:  Dust To Dust and From This Valley.

ImageThe Dear Hunter, Migrant
This band continues to live under the radar, as far as I can tell, and I’m not really sure why.  My wife and I saw them open for one of our favorite bands, mewithoutYou, a few years ago, and we were blown away.  I had to grab their album.  Since that time, they’ve released a handful of records, including Migrant earlier this year.  It sounds less like a stage musical than my previous favorite of theirs, Act III, but there is a genius to this album that shows how talented their primary singer/songwriter really is.  They manage to write songs with an undeniable maturity, including lyrics that come across as meaningful without being preachy.  I love to see some real success happen for this band.  Notable favorite tracks: Whisper and Shame.

ImageEditors, The Weight Of Your Love
Given their last album, that I absolutely loathed, I was about ready to write these guys off.  Maybe a lot of folks felt that way, or maybe they got the hint that their last album was lacking in a number of ways, but the Editors of old have returned with “The Weight Of Your Love”, and it sounds great.  Evidently the line-up of the band has changed since their last release, but I’m not sure I would’ve noticed.  The lead singer’s voice is so unique, I think a backing polka band would still sound like an Editors album.  I mean that in a good way.  Whatever the recipe is, I hope it continues.  This is a great album.  Notable favorite tracks: Sugar and The Phone Book.

ImageLorde, Pure Heroine
I’m reluctant to admit that I only found this album about two weeks ago, but whatever……I really like it a lot.  I also can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I enjoy so much.  It feels a void, I suppose, of artists like Lana Del Rey (whom I also enjoy) that tend toward a style of music that I really don’t listen to.  It feels like hip-pop, but with a dark alternative twist.  Regardless, there is a simplicity to this album that I respect.  The music seems to fill only 40% of the speakers, but wonderful melodies fill up the rest.  It’s catchy, enjoyable, and even fun.  I don’t lyrically relate to a teenager from New Zealand, but she writes better than many artists I’ve heard.  Notable favorite tracks: Ribs and Buzzcut Season.

ImageThe National, Trouble Will Find Me
Although I was looking forward to a new album from The National, my expectations were fairly low.  Sure it’d be good, but it would par-for-the-course for this great band.  I was both wrong and right.  “Trouble Will Find Me” took me by surprise by being immediately incredible, and has since then continued to grow on me even more.  It’s at times heart-wrenching, haunting, foot-tapping, and even laughable.  For an even better experience, put on a pair of good headphones and enjoy the sonic bliss.  Want higher praise that that?  My Mom has since declared this as a “second favorite album of all time” for her — just after U2’s “The Joshua Tree”.  High praise indeed!  Notable favorite tracks:  Demons and Don’t Swallow The Cap.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS
Normally I’d write a small something for each of these albums, but I can lump them all together, in this case.  Each of these releases was highly anticipated for me, and instead became a huge let down.  Are they horrible?  No, not really, but they’re not very good either. 

The Head And The Heart, Let’s Be Still

Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You

Phoenix, Bankrupt!

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My “Top Music of 2012” List

Here it is…my top music list for 2012.  Enjoy!

Of Monsters And Men, My Head Is An Animal
I really wish I could remember how I heard about this band.  I don’t listen to the radio, watch MTV (as if it even had music), and I don’t use radio-like services such as Spotify, Pandora, etc..  It must’ve been word of mouth, I guess, but I’m glad it happened!  They strike me as a cross between the Sugarcubes (do all Icelandic females sing like that?) and Mumford & Sons.  It’s peppy, fun, artistic, clean, and just very enjoyable.  Definitely one of my top albums for the year.

Lana Del Rey, Born To Die
So…why on earth is Lana Del Rey on my top music list for 2012?  What can I say – I like this album.  I knew nothing about her when I saw this album advertised in the window of my local Easy Street Records shop.  The cover intrigued me, and I definitely expected something…well…different, which it certainly is.  But I liked what I heard, I enjoy her voice, and it was a nice segue from my usual musical tastes.  It was a couple of weeks later that I heard gripes about her as a person, about her boring performances, and so on.  No matter.  I was sticking to my guns, and it is definitely a favorite of mine album for this year. 
(NOTE: this is not a “clean” album, for those who care)

Metric, Synthetica
This is one of those artists that I’ve listened to from the sidelines.  I’m neither disinterested, nor am I a rabid fan.  I like their music, and Synthetica continues that trend for me.  It doesn’t sound as ‘genius’ as their previous release, Fantasies, but others may disagree.  They simply put out solid music, and I wonder why this band isn’t a worldwide phenomena.

mewithoutYou, Ten Stories
It was with some trepidation that I awaited the release of mewithoutYou’s newest album, Ten Stories.  Although I enjoyed much of their previous album, It’s All Crazy!, it felt like a step backward to me – and I do consider myself to be a fairly rabid fan of this band.  Ten Stories doesn’t quite harken back to their 2nd and 3rd albums (my favorites), but it does showcase how talented this band is – both as a group, and as individual musicians.  In some ways, this may be their most “commercially plausible” album, but as always it will be heard by far too few.

Mumford & Sons, Babel
It’s no secret that Mumford & Sons’ previous release, Sigh No More, was a surprise commercial smash hit.  Although their sound is polarizing to some, this group appeared to be able to do no wrong.  That usually makes for a worrisome sophomore release, which often makes or breaks a band.  When I heard the first single from Babel, I wasn’t sure what to think: it sounded good, but it sounded “safe” – just more of the same.  Is that necessarily a bad thing?  Truth be told, if you didn’t like Mumford before this latest album, this one isn’t going to sway you.  If you were already a fan, however, you’ll find new genius with Babel.  It’s just a tremendous album from a very talented group of guys.

Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods
Very few bands had as high of expectations with me as did the Silversun Pickups.  Their previous release, Swoon, wasn’t just a favorite from that release year, it was actually a favorite of mine for that decade.  Yeah…a lot to live up to.  Thankfully, Neck of the Woods does not fail to impress.  It’s definitely the signature Silversun Pickups sound, but with a darker (perhaps more electronic) flavor.  If Swoon was an instant classic to my ears, then Neck of the Woods was a bit of a slow burn that eventually flared up.  Seeing them in concert earlier this year was just icing on the cake!

The Shins, Port of Morrow
I don’t necessarily set out to have an “album of the year”, per se, but the thought crosses my mind.  Some years, such as last year’s favorite Love & War & the Sea Inbetween by Josh Garrels, are obvious choices for me.  Other years are more difficult.  This year, however, I think I can honestly say that Port of Morrow by The Shins is my absolute top pick for the year.  Having already perused several “top albums of the year” lists for 2012, I’ve already seen this album on many of them.  It’s just very, very good.  But it was also a bit of an unknown quantity upon initial release, seeing as this is a completely new line-up of musicians, save for the primary singer/songwriter, James Mercer.  Their previous release, Wincing The Night Away, is another favorite album of mine, but fans of that album may not necessarily enjoy this one in the same way.  Port of Morrow is decidedly less strange, less experimental-sounding, and (in many ways) more commercially acceptable – but not in a “these guys sold out” sort of way.  Not at all.  It’s just great song writing, and the track “Bait & Switch” is probably one of my favorite Shins songs ever.  What really put it over the top for me, though, was a realization that I felt happy after listening to it – almost like slipping on a favorite sweatshirt or pair of slippers.  It has a vibe that’s difficult to find these days.  Great work!

                                           – HONORABLE MENTIONS - 

Starflyer 59, IAMACEO
Nothing ground-breaking here.  Just classic, very good Starflyer, though I probably prefer My Island or Changing Of The Guard a bit more.

Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel
As a self-proclaimed Fiona Apple fan, I was anxiously awaiting her new album, and I was not disappointed.  I also wasn’t totally blown away either.  The Idler Wheel is probably her strangest song writing to date, but there’s a lot to enjoy on this release.

Atlas Genius, Through the Glass (EP)
We first heard about these guys as they were opening up for Silversun Pickups during their most recent tour through Seattle.  But we really liked what we heard, and subsequently grabbed their EP, Through The Glass.  Definitely anxious to hear their full release, whenever that comes out.

Josh Garrels, Love & War – B Sides and Remixes
I can’t say that remixes and b-sides typically excite me much, but Love & War & the Sea Inbetween was such a powerful album for me last year, I jumped at the chance to grab more of this material.  What can I say?  The remixes are great, and the b-sides – songs left off of last year’s album – are as powerful as ever.   Will it make new Josh Garrels fans?  Probably not, but it certainly rewards the fan base he already has.

Thanks for reading.

My “Top Music of 2011” List

Here you are: my list of the Top Music of 2011…and in no particular order, save for one.  You’ll know it when you get there.

The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow
This album came completely out of left field for me.  Someone (somewhere) mentioned it — probably on Facebook — and the “duet” factor sounded interesting.  I listened to an early release of the title track, Barton Hollow, and it sounded great to me, so I waited patiently for the full release.  Strangely enough, the title track (and first single) is not necessarily representative of the rest of the album, which may put some folks off.  In fact, the remainder of the album is considerably more mellow.  That said, this is a great album if you’ll give it some time.  Would I like to hear more of their upbeat stuff?  Sure.  Maybe next time.  But this is definitely one of the best albums to have been released this year.

Death Cab For Cutie, Codes & Keys
Let me be clear on this point: I’m not really a fan of Death Cab For Cutie.  I have nothing against them, of course, I’m just not part of their fan base.  Still, I heard the first single from this album, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I decided that the rest of the album needed a good listen-thru, and I’m glad I did.  It just sounds like typical “Death Cab” stuff, if you ask me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all.  Is it ground-breaking?  Not really.  But it is very good.  Funny thing is… I don’t feel like Death Cab ever really writes any choruses into their songs – it’s just one verse after another.  Good stuff, though, and very enjoyable to listen to.

The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
This album was released very early in 2011, so it’s likely to be overlooked by some.  That said, it was also the first album of the year to truly capture my attention – and I’m not necessarily a long-time listener of The Decemberists.  What can I really say about this album, though?  It’s just a strong release thru and thru.  Some favorites include: “Dear Avery” and “This Is Why We Fight”.


Jane’s Addiction
, The Great Escape Artist

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be including a Jane’s Addiction album on my Top Music of 2011 list.  It seemed impossible, but here it is.  For some background, I’ve been a long-time Jane’s Addiction fan – dating back to their “Nothing’s Shocking” release – but their most recent releases have not necessarily captivated me.  Good?  Yes.  Great?  Not necessarily.  So, it was with some skepticism that I grabbed The Great Escape Artist and gave it a listen.  (I’m so happy for subscription music services!)  Quite simply, I was blown away.  Perry Farrell sounds great, the songwriting is top-notch, and (surprisingly) the album is very clean.  On the downside?  It’s probably one of the worst album covers I’ve seen in a long, long time…

Manchester Orchestra, Simple Math
Having arrived late-to-the-game with Manchester Orchestra, I was very much looking forward to their latest release, Simple Math, and it didn’t disappoint.  In fact, I easily consider this to be their strongest album yet.  It seems that Manchester Orchestra is growing up in many ways: lyrically, most of all, but also musically.  There is still an experimental/indie vibe to their songwriting, but it totally works.  Some personal favorite tracks include: “Simple Math”, “Apprehension” and “April Fool”.  Just a solid album.

Josh Garrels, Love & War & The Sea In Between
I wouldn’t normally choose a “best album of the year”, but in this case I feel absolutely compelled to name one: Josh Garrels’ “Love & War & The Sea In Between”.  There is no doubt in my mind.  What started as a mere suggestion from a friend of mine (thanks, Tim!) was followed up by an email from NoiseTrade.com with a link to this album.  I figured that I might as well.  The first song caught me off-guard.  It was more haunting and mellow that I figured it would be.  It also sounded a lot like Damien Jurado, which wasn’t a bad thing in my book – but could certainly be polarizing to some.  By the end of the third song, I was absolutely sold…and hooked.  This is not only the most solid album I’ve heard all year, it’s probably one of the best I’ve ever heard.  Seriously.  Even better?  You fall in love with the first half of the album, and then quickly realize you’ve only partially tapped the beauty of this release.  Your favorite tracks shift on a daily or weekly basis.  But nothing has struck me more about this album than the lyrics have.  Beautiful.  Challenging.  Heart-wrenching.  Encouraging.  And everything in-between.  If you’re still reading this paragraph and have not yet downloaded this album, then do yourself a favor: head over to NoiseTrade.com and download it for free.  You can thank me later.  And thank you, Josh Garrels, for what is easily the best album I’ve heard in years…

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Mutemath, Odd Soul
A very solid release from Mutemath, and I definitely prefer this to their last one.  Still, not as strong as their self-titled album.  I’d like to see the old spark rekindled with these guys.

The Dear Hunter, The Color Spectrum
Having first heard them when I saw them open for mewithoutYou, I was very impressed.  Their last album, Act III, is one of my recent favorites.  Still, this latest release is actually a combination of nine EPs that they released in 2011.  It may be a great album, but I just can’t make it thru it the entire way…

Switchfoot, Vice Verses
Just a great album all-around.  Not mind-blowing, necessarily, but very good.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS

Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
I’m actually a bit of a Coldplay fan, so I was very much looking forward to their latest release, Mylo Xyloto.  I heard a few early tracks and I began to get concerned.  Then I heard the full-release, and…well…I basically had no desire to listen through it again.  That’s a bad sign.  Perhaps in a few months it’ll “click” with me, but I doubt it.  I don’t know what happened here…

My “Top Music of 2010” List

It seems to me that 2010 was an interesting year for music – at least as far as my (personal) musical tastes are concerned.  This year felt more “tame”, if you will, as compared to the very powerful albums that were released in 2009 – including Silversun Pickups’ “Swoon” and Neko Case’s “Middle Cyclone”.  Perhaps more interesting is the fact that several new-to-me artists are on this year’s list.

Having said that, here is my Top Music of 2010 list, in no particular order.

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Jakob Dylan, Women + Country
I confess that I would never have grabbed this album if it hadn’t been for the mention of Neko Case as part of the project.  In fact, the earliest accounts of this album sounded like a collaboration between Jakob and Neko, but that wasn’t the case.  Instead, we have a very Jakob-focused album with Neko (and her backup band, it seems) providing most everything else.  The result, it turns out, is really quite fabulous.  With the infamous T Bone Burnett at the production helm, Jakob has released a collection of songs that is arguably the strongest we’ve seen since the first Wallflowers release – and perhaps even stronger.   The “twang factor” is very high with this album, but that’s bothering me less and less these days, it seems.  All in all, a wonderful release.

Broken Bells, Broken Bells
Evidently The Shins are on an extended hiatus since releasing their last (and very successful) album, Wincing The Night Away.  In the meantime, front man, James Mercer, has fruitfully collaborated with producer Dangermouse to release a surprisingly non-Shins and yet very entertaining album under the name Broken Bells.  Mercer’s unmistakable vocal-style mixed with the slightly hip-hop-flavored undertones of Dangermouse’s production, Broken Bells is at times sparse, electronic, spacey, and moody.  Quite honestly, I love it.

New Pornographers, Together
I’ve had very little time to enjoy this album, thanks to the lack of accessibility via the Zune Pass after the album’s initial release, but as you already know, anything involving Neko Case is probably ok with me.  I’ll confess, though, that the band name has been a turn off for me (and likely others, I would assume), but there’s no denying that this is a powerful release from a talented group of individuals. Pop-inspired folk tunes, is probably the best way to describe it.  Favorite tracks include “Crash Years” and “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk”.

Starflyer 59, The Changing Of The Guard
Although I’ve listened to Starflyer 59 off and on since the mid-90s, I wouldn’t have considered myself a “fan” until recently.  In fact, it was probably their My Island album that I fully enticed me to embrace their impressive catalog of  work.  Having said that, I find that their more recent work appeals to me much more than their earlier stuff, which is likely quite opposite of the long time Starflyer fans, of which there are many.  In any event, The Changing Of The Guard is probably my favorite release from Starflyer, with the incredible track, Cry Me A River, as one of my favorite songs of theirs.  I’m sure that this album is not shoegazer-ish enough for the hardcore fans, but a release this strong may just usher in a whole new era of Starflyer fans.  If you haven’t already, give it a listen.

Interpol, Interpol
In my opinion, Interpol has been releasing stronger and stronger albums with each release – and this album is no exception.  Although I still consider this band to be an ‘acquired taste’ – primarily due to the droning vocal style – this may be their most commercially acceptable release yet.  Interpol remains, as always, moody and melancholy, but they have a very ‘indie’ feel about them that I really enjoy.  “Always Malaise” and “Memory Serves” are among my favorite tracks.

Spoon, Transference
How do you follow up an excellent previous album?  Well, if you’re Spoon, then you probably attempt to alienate a portion of your new found fan base with an album that is at times genius, eccentric, and (perhaps) entirely purposeful.  I say that because I get the feeling that Spoon intentionally held back on this album – perhaps in an attempt to not dig too deeply into the Top 40 lists – and in the process limited their commercial appeal with Transference.  Don’t’ get me wrong: there is some absolutely genius material on this album, but it never seems to reach the magnitude of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.  Maybe that’s exactly what they were hoping for…… or maybe this album just isn’t as good.  I don’t really know, but I still like it.

The National, High Violet
My good friend, Ken, recommended The National to me a couple of years ago.  Again, due to inaccessibility via the Zune Pass *and* my lack of interest from the 30 second audio clips of the album, I passed on this band time and time again.  For whatever reason, though, when I saw that High Violet was available, I snatched it up like a Christmas morning toy.  I’ve not been disappointed.  I would definitely consider The National to be an acquired taste, mainly due to the melancholy overtones and uber-low vocals, but for fans of Editors, Joy Division, or Interpol, this album is likely to hit the spot.  Bloodbuzz Ohio is definitely one of my favorite tracks.

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Strangely, previous releases from Arcade Fire did little to excite me.  I enjoyed the song Keep The Car Running just fine, but the rest of the album felt pretty lackluster to me – and certainly not worthy of the hype that it received.  Just my opinion, of course.  I wanted to like Arcade Fire, but it just didn’t do it for me.  The Suburbs, then, was met with fairly reserved expectations, but there was an undeniable sparkle to this album.  I’ve found it engrossing, artistic, and challenging.  Quite honestly, this is a very good album.  The biggest surprise to me?  The fact that this artistic, quirky band receives so much commercial success.  Most of the “good” music goes largely unnoticed by the general public.  Anyhow, this album is well-worth your time.


Over The Rhine
, The Long Surrender
As my wife recently reminded me, the very first music I ever played for her (aside from my own music, of course) was Over The Rhine’s Patience.  Needless to say, I’ve been listening to this band for a long, long time.  Not only that, but I considered their album, Ohio, as my top album of the decade for 2000 – 2009.  I like this band a lot.  I will confess, though, that as they’ve moved toward a more “jazzy” sound, I’ve probably been less enthused with their releases – the difference being “really good” vs. “incredible”, in my opinion.  We had the opportunity to download The Long Surrender as part of a pre-release purchase, which is why I’m including this album in my 2010 list, even though the general release is set for early 2011.  In any event, this album is probably closer to their last release, The Trumpet Child, than any previous release – and that’s exactly what you’d expect.  Having said that, The Long Surrender is slightly less jazzy than their last, and has all of the genius elements that you expect from Over The Rhine.  My wife and I were also fortunate to have seen them “live” very recently, which featured much of their newest album, so we feel more intimately acquainted with this release and the stories of the songs it contains.  Not my favorite OtR album, but a very good album nonetheless.

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As always, thanks for reading.

When Pigs Fly! (The iPhone Experience: Day 1)

Don't do it... it's poisoned! JUST TELL US HOW YOU FEEL
Before we get going here, let me make something very clear:  I hate Apple.  I’ve hated them for years.  I hate seeing those cheap white ear buds in people’s ears.  I hate seeing that glowing piece of fruit on laptop lids.  I hate seeing people standing on the street corner petting their iPhone as if it brought some sort of pleasure (and maybe it does).  I hate iTunes.  I hate hearing the words “MacBook Pro”, “iPod” or “iMac”.  In fact, I’m beginning to hate any reference to a lowercase letter “i”.  I hate it when Apple is successful.  I hate seeing their billboards or tv commercials.  I hate seeing that purple, “spacey” default background in OSX.  I strongly dislike Steve Jobs (I try not to *hate* people) and generally think he’s a pompous egomaniac.  In fact, I generally view Apple Computers as a marketing powerhouse that bends nearly every word they say, and with little-to-no recourse.  Sometimes I wish the company would just go away, like they nearly did over a decade ago.

That’s how I feel.  Deal with it.

SOME HISTORY
Before you write me off as a complete freak of nature, though, let me explain some of my background with technology and computer companies.  You see, when I was still in grade school, my parents owned a small computer store in Anchorage, Alaska.  They sold IBM PCs, PC JRs, Vic 20s, and Commodore 64s.  Those were real computers.  I grew up using tape drives, dot matrix printers, BASIC, and DOS.  It was gritty, exclusive, and geeky.  I loved it.  Still, back in those days Apple Computer had a very strong foothold in the home and business markets.  Like most every other kid, I used them in school for programming, reports, playing Oregon Trail, and whatever else.  Apple and IBM lived in a 50/50 type of market, depending upon which year you were looking at.

Ahh, Windows 3.1 In the late 80s and early 90s, however, a little product called Microsoft Windows started to make some serious headway.  Neither technically superior nor particularly impressive, Windows began replacing DOS on PCs as the interface of choice.  Sure it wasn’t gritty and grubby like the command line stuff, but it was “PC”.  It seemed like the right thing to do, and so I stuck with it.

Shortly before I was married, the next big iteration of Windows – Windows 95 – sprung onto the scene.  More important than any technological advances was the market saturation.  Microsoft, not the PC market as a whole, had shifted the tide from a strong Apple influence to the Windows world.  In the years that would follow, Microsoft Windows would find itself with over 90% market share.  At that same time, I was getting into building, fixing, and selling computers for a living.  Shortly thereafter, I began work as a “systems administrator” and have been working in this same field ever since.  What types of computers have I been working on for most of these years?  Why Windows systems, of course – servers, desktops, laptops, phones, and so forth.  Microsoft has, in a matter of speaking, kept me employed for many years.

WHY, MAN?  WHYYYY?
I say all of this to somehow explain how and why I could’ve come to having such a hatred of Apple Computers and their products.  They have been a threat to my very livelihood, or at least that has been my perception.  As they’ve become more and more successful over this past decade, I’ve seen my relevance waning somewhat.  As with most threatening situations, the “fight or flight” response kicks in, and neither choice is especially pretty.  It certainly hasn’t been with me.

Not really how I feel... I guess I should’ve seen the signs several years ago.  My good friend and long-time PC buddy, Andy, decided to get a MacBook.  No warning, no discussion – he just bought it.  I actually found out from a mutual friend who told me, “Andy said not to tell Scott”.  For some strange reason, it was a blow to me.  I wasn’t angry at my friend, of course, but rather I felt threatened by the tide of users starting to reconsider Apple once again.  Not too long after, a co-worker purchased an iPhone with a similar caveat — “don’t tell Scott”.  This same sentence has been uttered probably half a dozen times.  Evidently, and without my even knowing it, I became the anti-Apple guy.  Rather than shrug it off, however, I dug in, squared my shoulders, and began to fight.  Here’s the deal with starting a fight, though: you gotta know what the victory, if it ever comes, will look like.  Otherwise, you just end up swinging your arms ad infinitem with no end in sight.

I’ve never been much of a fast learner.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END
A few weeks ago, after repeated frustration with my Android phone (MyTouch 3G… more on that in another posting), I decided that something had to give.  I had to get a phone that I could live with.  Unfortunately, my choices were fairly limited, seeing as how I *had to have* full Exchange sync support, ability to use the phone with T-Mobile, and a smattering of other “must have” and “would really like to have” requirements.  Then it dawned on me: perhaps I could start to tame this hatred of Apple by forcing myself to use their product.  Not only that, but the iPhone – aside from being an Apple product – fit nearly every criteria that I had for a workable phone solution.

I swallowed my pride and set out to get my hands on one.

Yesterday, March 15th, 2010, I received an iPhone 3GS (16GB).  Not my first Apple product, mind you, but the first that I’ve purposely intended to use – and to a great extent.  Also, the irony of me (ME… of all people!) using an iPhone has not been lost on my family, many of my friends, and especially my co-workers.  It’s both a complete non-event (cosmically speaking) and a radical quantum shift — all at the same time.

MOVING ON FROM HERE
So, here we are.  I have an iPhone.  I’m using it.  I make phone calls on it, browse the web, take pictures, and so forth.  I still don’t really like Apple, but maybe that’ll change.

That all-to-familiar unlock screenStrangely enough, I’m ok with myself and this decision.  That may seem like a dumb thing to say – it is a computer company, after all, and just some stupid technology – but you don’t know my brain.  It was a difficult decision to make, but I’m alright with it at this point.  Some of my PC/Windows-lovin’ buddies may call me a turncoat, but that’s ok.  I’m really not.  I will gladly toss this iPhone off of a tall bridge when the next Windows Phone Series devices come out – assuming that they’re as good as they look – but that may still be awhile.  I would also rather use Windows 7 than anything else.  I know my roots, and those are hard to dig up without some very considerable effort.  If some of those roots are as “angry” and “hate-filled” as my first paragraph of this post, however, then I’m happy to be rid Yeah...I covered the back with a picture of Ronald Reagan!  So sue me!!!of them.  Life is too short for those kinds of words and emotions.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be blogging about my experience with the iPhone – both the technology at hand (see what I did there?!) and the changes in me.  It’ll either be extremely exciting or excruciatingly boring.

Like you really have anything better to do than read my blog.

Comcast puts up a fight

Actually, the funny thing is how little of a fight this was.

So, I found out last night that our $19.99/month Comcast High-Speed Internet was increasing to $42.99/month.  Yikes!  Double-the-cost for the same service.  No thank you.  I decided to ‘chat’ with Comcast and either “lower my cost” (most desirable), “lower my service”, or “change service altogether” (least desirable).  All that said, I was not going to pay almost $50/month, after taxes, for just my Internet connection.  That was not an option.

To that end, I started a ‘chat’ session with Comcast customer service to see what options I had.  I was fully expecting some wrangling back and forth.  Instead, here’s what actually happened (with names, etc. changed to protect the innocent):

=======================================================================
user Guest_ has entered room


Guest(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:40:56 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Order Information
analyst ComcastDude007 has entered room

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:41:07 GMT-0800)>

Hello Guest_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. 
My name is ComcastDude007. 
Please give me one moment to review your information.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:41:10 GMT-0800)>

Hi! You can call me 007.
I hope you're doing great today!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:41:10 GMT-0800)>

Do you have an ACTIVE Comcast account/service
in your new OR current address?


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:41:25 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Yes, we have an active account.

Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:41:34 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Address is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:41:50 GMT-0800)>

awe3

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:41:52 GMT-0800)>

My apologies for the typo.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:41:54 GMT-0800)>

Awesome! Thank you very much for your continued patronage and loyalty to us. We really appreciate it.


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:42:08 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

thanks.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:42:07 GMT-0800)>

I understand that you are interested to order -Internet $19.99 for 6 months- Am I correct?


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:42:27 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Actually, I need to see about our current pricing.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:42:37 GMT-0800)>

You're most welcome!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:42:38 GMT-0800 )>

Sure thing.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:42:40 GMT-0800)>

Please let me take care of that for you.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:42:59 GMT-0800)>

You may visit https://www.comcast.com/localization/Localize.cspx?Referer=/shop/buyflow2/products.cspx to check for our promotions as well

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:43:10 GMT-0800)>

To ensure integrity in your account, please verify your account number OR the last FOUR digits of your SSN.


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:43:40 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Actually, we are currently a Comcast customer.  I need to figure out what we're CURRENTLY paying for our service.  I think it just increased quite a bit.

Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:44:00 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Last 4 of my SS are... XXXX

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:44:11 GMT-0800)>

Thank you for verifying.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:44:46 GMT-0800)>

Yes, your paying $54.95/mo but I can lower it to $19.99 for 6 months. Shall we go ahead?


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:45:05 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

That would be *perfect*.  Yes, please!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:45:22 GMT-0800)>

Sure thing.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:45:27 GMT-0800)>

Great news! I am proud to offer our next 
generation Triple Play with FREE HD! It 
includes cable, internet, and phone 
for just one low price. Get yourself and 
your family an entertainment-filled home now!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:45:49 GMT-0800)>

Please wait one moment while I process your order/request.


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:46:06 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Thanks, 007 smile

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:46:36 GMT-0800)>

You're welcome, Guest

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:09 GMT-0800)>

Thank you for waiting.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:13 GMT-0800)>

Account: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Order: 1000xxxxxxx
Succeeding Monthly Fee w/ tax and modem rent:$25.47

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:16 GMT-0800)>

Congratulations! You are all set.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:16 GMT-0800 )>

Before you go, have I resolved and answered 
your reason for chatting today in my end?


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:47:40 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

Yep!  Everything resolved. Thanks again.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:56 GMT-0800)>

Great!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:57 GMT-0800)>

Thank you.

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:58 GMT-0800)>

You're most welcome!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:47:59 GMT-0800)>

It's a pleasure to serve our most valued customer
such as you. Hope to hear from you again soon!

ComcastDude007(Thu Dec 17 2009 13:48:01 GMT-0800)>

Have a good one. Cheers! smile


Guest_(Thu Dec 17 2009 10:48:03 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time))>

You too.

=======================================================================

What I find most humorous is that I never actually requested a reduced monthly price.  It was pretty obvious, I suppose, when I mentioned that our “current monthly bill had just increased quite a bit”, but after that the rep just gave in.  No fight necessary.

Perhaps the goal is to make the customer feel “in control”, which is fairly effective.  Whatever the deal, I like the fact that I’m getting our Comcast service for $19.99/month again.

Hmmm.  Maybe I should’ve requested that pricing for the next 12 months…

Hey! This is serious. (1st-Person Shooter Disease)

I feel for these guys.  I really do 😦