Saturday, July 21, 2007

Non-Archaeology post

Gentle readers, I must now confess to you a secret of most profound importance that may forever influence how you read this blog and view its humble proprietor. A secret so deep and dark that I hesitate even as I type this.

It all started in the late 1980s when I was first transplanted to Washington state as a green young graduate student. I didn't know anyone, no job, no place to live, a complete new start in a new place. The first year or two of graduate school was, indeed, difficult; every nightmare I had ever had about the rigors of grad school came to fruition. Lots of lonely days and nights and weekends spent studying arcane (not to mention boring and pedantic) scribblings on all manner of archaeological trivialities. Stressful in the extreme. Did I belong there? Could I hack it? Would I survive comps? It all made me question the road I had taken, one into a weird profession where future employment was uncertain at best.

So in those times of dark and dreary nights spent pondering many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten archaeological lore, I turned to something that. . .took the edge off a bit. Something that soothed my furrowed brow and made the hours a little easier to take.

I started off like most people, hearing from a friend who liked it, trying it a little here and there, getting more and more into it until I found that it was an integral part of my life. It happens so gradually that you don't notice it at first, until you one day find it difficult to live without it. It was common back then, especially in Seattle, so finding a source wasn't difficult. In fact, it was really what the "In" crowd was into. Still, it was personally embarrassing and I hid my addiction from most people, especially my family back home. At school, at work, at home, it was my constant companion, never demanding much of my attention except that it be there when I needed it.

It's fallen out of favor somewhat lately, but not with me. I've been hooked for a long time and can't see breaking out of it. I've told a few people about my habit, but mostly I keep it to myself -- until now. They say it helps to share it with others -- err, the secret, not the actual habit -- so now I am going to share with you, my loyal blog readers.

So now I admit freely and without guilt: I listen to New Age music.

Now, before you scream in fright and go off to read some nasty political blogs instead, hear me out. You can listen to this stuff without becoming or being some kind of rooty-tooty fresh-and-fruity Toltec Magician.

What is new age music, you ask? Tough to say, really. It's kind of hard to categorize; the signficata of the class "new age music" don't spring readily to mind. It's mellow usually, not terribly rhythmic, I don't think. Tends to have a strong melody, which I like. It's not exactly classical, but it often has a lot of classical elements. No backbeat, definitely. Most of the time I have it on while working because it hits that nice balance between being listenable and being distracting.

It covers a lot of ground musically as well (see Wiki page for some history and examples). From solo piano (George Winston, Michael Jones, Suzanne Ciani) to highly orchestrated and synthetic (Andreas Vollenweider, Tangerine Dream). Windham Hill is probably the best-known label, and most have heard Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas music. A lot of it tends to remind one of movie scores. Mark Snow's music for The X-Files and Millennium fit comfortably in the genre as well.

It's probably about the only thing "new agey" about me though. Herbal tea doth not pass these lips (except hibiscus tea, which I acquired a taste for in Egypt where it's called karkidea). I drive a car with a bad-ass V8. Birkenstocks are anathema in my universe.

Of course, while writing this post, I have Rush on. Hemispheres and Moving Pictures to be exact. (Download "The Camera Eye" from the latter; it rocks. Loud.)

I should probably do a quick few posts on cars and football and beer and death and stuff to reestablish my street cred wit' y'all.