Twenty-Two Year Reflection

One night, when I was twelve, I stayed up late to watch the ten o’clock news with Dad. It was the day of the first space shuttle launch, and we wanted to see the footage of the shuttle on the launch pad, the shuttle in flight, the shuttle lifting into space. (Dad possessed a strong conviction that manned spaceflight is important to our future as a species, and he imparted that conviction to me.)

We watched the entire newscast, including the end credits, which featured slow-motion images of the shuttle launch set to ethereal new age music. Dad was enthralled. The music, especially, captivated him.

He called the television station in the morning and learned that the song on the end credits was from the soundtrack to the Carl Sagan television series Cosmos. The song was called Heaven and Hell, Part 1 by someone named Vangelis. (Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire soundtrack would become popular several months later, making him a household name; his Blade Runner work was still a year away).

Dad went out that day and bought the record album.

He played it repeatedly, and we kids even played it when he wasn’t around. I liked Vangelis’ Alpha and Tomita‘s The Sea Named Solaris. But Dad — Dad played the entire album, loudly, whenever he could.

Though Dad bought the record for Heaven and Hell, the track he loved most was the Bulgarian Shepherdess Song. We hated it, and we told him so: the bagpipe-like instruments, the indecipherable lyrics, the strange shrieking of the woman’s voice all grated on our nerves.

But Dad loved it, and he listened to the song again and again.

One morning I woke, in darkness, to the Bulgarian shepherdess wailing from the living room. In our 1000-square foot trailer, sound carried well, and in this case, the volume was set quite high. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was impossible with that woman wailing.

I got out of bed and walked down the hall, through the kitchen, to the living room. I looked in at Dad. He was sitting, alone, on the edge of the couch, staring out the window at the still-black dawn. He was dressed for work, in his business suit; his wild curly hair almost looked neat.

“Dad, I’m trying to sleep,” I said.

He didn’t seem to hear me.

“Dad,” I said.

“Go back to sleep, bug,” he said, but he didn’t look at me. His expression didn’t change. He stared out into the blackness.

“But Dad…” I said.

“I said ‘go back to bed’, bug,” and though his appearance was unaltered, something about his voice told me it was best not to disobey.

I crawled back in bed and lay in the dark, listening to the Bulgarian shepherdess again and again and again, wondering what it was Dad was doing, sitting alone, staring into the darkness.

A while later I heard the front door open and close, heard Dad clip-clop clip-clop down the walk to his car. Skrp, skrp. He scraped the ice from the windows of the Datsun 310GX. The car door slammed. As he pulled away, the Bulgarian shepherdess continued to wail from the living room.

I’m older now, but I still listen to the Cosmos soundtrack; it’s a great album. In fact, I own it on vinyl, cassette tape, and compact disc, and at the end of March I purchased the deluxe expanded edition of the album (which is better than the original in some ways, worse in others — I like both).

I find myself drawn to that song which I hated in my youth, the Bulgarian Shepherdess Song. I still don’t understand the lyrics, but I think, perhaps, I understand their meaning. I understand what Dad heard, I understand what he was doing that morning, staring out at the darkness, listening to the shepherdess sing.

He was thirty-five. I am thirty-four.


On 20 May 2003 (04:53 PM),
Dana said:

Shall I hazard a guess? Is someone feeling the inexorable march of time wearing away at the strands of his life? Has the Christmas (or Birthday, or whatever) sweater become threadworn and shabby, with inexpert patches at the elbows and loose threads dangling from the edges, ready to pull the whole thing to bits?

Or am I projecting?

On 20 May 2003 (07:55 PM),
J.D. said:

Nah, I was just feeling a bit melancholy after hearing the song, and I started to think about Dad.

Although, if you substitute body for sweater, perhaps your analogy is apt. 🙂

On 20 May 2003 (08:11 PM),
Dana said:

Not analogy, metaphor. At least, that’s what I was aiming for. Ah, well.

Are you ready for surgery?

On 20 May 2003 (10:13 PM),
Dave said:

I think that there comes a time for every man (I can’t speak to the woman side of the coin, of course) at which we realize that despite our promises as youths, despite our best intentions, and most of all despite our best efforts to be someone or do something different than that which we see around us, we take stock and realize that our youth is gone and that we have become that which we feared most- our fathers. Sometimes that’s not a good thing. Sometimes it is. Most off all I think that we just feel very keenly the loss of the illusion that we could have changed and that we had a choice in the matter coupled with the sudden shock of being confronted with a reality that we thought we had a lot more time to change.

In the course of my practice I’ve seen men handle this transition in many different ways. Count yourself lucky, JD, that at the end of the day your father came back home. Many don’t.

Ok, I’m done being maudlin for the evening.

On 20 May 2003 (10:57 PM),
Virginia said:

What can I say? I miss him!! Why was I blessed with a life span of (at this point) 10 more years than my brothers? At this time Steve knew he had cancer. If he was thirty-five it would have been the winter of 1980-1981. Ice generally
comes in Dec. or Jan. Mom, your Grandma, was also dying of cancer. We had just found it out.
She died July 3, 1981. One day when I was down at Steve’s place he had just bought a CD of Enya. He loved the song “How Can I Keep From Singing” That was in the early 90’s. By that time he had resigned himself to his condition. He was a great person.

On 21 May 2003 (08:02 AM),
Nikchick said:

I have two handwritten books of poems that I collected in high school. About half are my own poetry that I thought represented my best efforts at the time. The other half are poems from issues of Patina, or poems that I exchanged with JD, Andrew Parker, and Mitch Sherrard. (Strangely, I also have poems from David Carlson and Darren Misner…)

I also have one poem that Steve wrote and that I find just as touching today as I did when I was an intense, naive, romantic 14 year old. This is it:


If I do not sing,
My music
Will break its bonds
And cause great damage
To my soul
And maybe yours.

My music is love.
My music is freedom.
My music is joy.

My song is for you.


I’m almost having more fun watching the soccer games than I did playing in them. I march up and down the sidelines shouting at my teammates, clipboard and stopwatch in hand. They’re doing a great job. Already, in two games, we’ve scored half as many goals as we did in all ten games last season. Joel has been outstanding in goal, and the entire team seems to be playing at a higher level despite having practiced less to prepare for the season.

Last night’s game was played on artificial turf, which I’d never actually seen close up before. The field was H-U-G-E, much larger than any of the other fields on which we’ve played, and the players felt it. The ball was fast, too (especially when compared to the jungle in which we played last week). The other team had some skilled players, especially the women at right- and left-wing, and they mounted some impressive attacks. Joel and his defense were able to fend off most of them, though, and we penetrated several times, converting twice. Pam had an impressive assist. (We failed to convert on a heartbreaking sequence in front of the opposing goal: the other team’s keeper had come out after the ball, but our striker eluded him; we tried repeatedly to put the ball in the net, but couldn’t find the opening. Eventually the ball sailed wide of the goal.) The 2-2 tie is our second-best result ever. (We won only a single game last season.)

Driving home after the game (listening to ABBA — can you believe it?), I began, as I so often do, to engage in self-reflection. I was driving home from Portland for the twelfth time in fourteen days. I have four more Portland trips scheduled in the next week. How did I get to this point? When did social interaction become so important to me?

After college, Kris and I experienced a long stretch during which we rarely had social engagements. None of our Willamette friends lived nearby, and I had not yet reconnected with my high school friends. We did things by ourselves (we watched a lot of television), we did not seek social contact. It was clear to me that, as my Myers-Briggs personality type might indicate, that I derived energy from solitude.

Over the past decade, however, our circle of friends has grown substantially. We spend a lot of time with other people. For two years, we did spend most of our free time with Mac and Pam, but we’ve since returned to spreading our attention among a wider group of friends.

I love it.

I love spending time with Jeremy and Jennifer, watching their children grow. I love having dinner with Dave and Karen, discussing history, comparing cultural differences between the East Coast and the West Coast. I love discussing books and music with Aimee and Joel. I love playing games with Mac and Pam. I love seeing Andrew and Courtney. I love the time with larger groups, too: time with the MNF group, the soccer team, the book club, the photography classes. I look forward to creating new friendships, learning more about Ron and Kara, Craig and Lisa. I’m excited about re-establishing old ties with Nicole Lindroos and Andrew Parker and Jim Osmer; perhaps I’ll even finally get the courage to find Mitch Sherrard. I love interacting with my extended family, and with Paul and Amy Jo, through this weblog.

How did I get here? When did I pass from being and introvert to being an extrovert?


On 13 May 2003 (11:39 AM),
Drew said:

We love seeing you as well. Wish it could happen more often. Perhaps you should consider moving a bit more north…closer to friends, closer to Kris’s job, closer to the amenities of PDX.

On 13 May 2003 (11:46 AM),
J.D. said:

Oh, I’ve considered it, but that’s about it. I met the other Andrew at his mother’s house in Sellwood the other day; she lives just a block from The Iron Horse, not far from Caprial’s. It’s a nice neighborhood, filled with older homes, which appear to be affordable. I could see myself living there.

I’m not pleased with our current location. It’s neither country nor city. It’s some unholy mix of the two and it gives me little pleasure.

Unfortunately, my better half isn’t so keen on moving to Portland as I am, despite the fact that it would reduce her commute signficantly.

Perhaps others might have better success persuading her to move…

On 13 May 2003 (06:21 PM),
better half said:

The Crime Lab is scheduled to relocate to Clackamas in 2005, so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. This would reduce my commute from an hour each way to half an hour, but I’d have to drive instead of taking the bus.

If only there was a way of transporting my garden en masse… alas, I am loathe to leave it. Kris

On 14 May 2003 (04:34 AM),
kaibutsu said:

Aye; that switch from being the introvert to the extrovert is an unsettling one, once you look back and realize it. It was art school what did it to me.

On 14 May 2003 (06:35 AM),
Lonely in Alexandria said:

Try moving across the continent to a place with no social network whatsoever and then you’ll see whether you’re and introvert or an extrovert. Might it be J.D. that you are comfortable in your social surroundings which allows you to be gregarious? If you lived where “nobody knows your name” would you still be considered an extrovert?

On 14 May 2003 (06:50 AM),
J.D. said:

This is an excellent question, one for which I have no answer. It takes guts to do what Paul and Amy Jo did. I don’t know if I could do it. The closest I’ve ever coming is moving away to college. But that move was only thirty miles!

On 14 May 2003 (06:54 AM),
Wife of Lonely in Alexandria said:

Paul (aka Lonely in Alexandria) is getting at something here. I think one can enjoy the company of one’s good friends and family without self-identifying as an extrovert. Aren’t many of us extroverts at times and introverts at others? Haven’t you known someone who is always surrounded by people, yet know one really knows that person. Someone who recently met that person might say that she was an extrovert, however, someone who has known her for years might call her an introvert because even though she’s always with people, she holds back much of who she really is.

On 14 May 2003 (06:56 AM),
Wife of Lonely in Alexandria said:

I meant “no one” rather than “know one.” Blame it on my raging headache and all the crap I’m having to proofread today.

On 14 May 2003 (09:06 AM),
Dana said:

Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I now know that you underwent a radical reconfiguration of your personality while you were in college. You shifted from being a devout, evangelical Christian to your current agnostic/athiestic-type beliefs.

I think, as a consequence, you sort of cocooned a bit — introspection takes a lot of energy and brain power, and other people distract from that. Likewise, I get the impression that it took a while for you and Kris to settle in to life together (I remember in college hearing that you’d NEVER get married because it just wasn’t important).

Now, however, things are more settled. You know who you are, you know where you fit, and you and Kris have worked out how you fit together. You are reaping what you’ve sowed, socially speaking, building a more complex, interactive social structure on top of the foundation you put together yourself (well, with help from Kris).

If you moved someplace else (Florida, for example), well, I think you’d have to undertake some of this again. You wouldn’t have the long-term friends handy to reconnect with. You might find yourself having to be more solitary because it’s harder to develop casual connections to people.

Being a displaced person myself, I find it difficult to establish the kind of life you have because there is no place where a large body of people who have known me for decades lives. My college friends and my family are the closest I come to in that regard.

So, are you an extrovert? I would say yes, and you probably always have been. You just spent a number of introspective years doing interior remodeling.

Well, IMHO, anyway. 🙂

On 14 May 2003 (09:15 AM),
Tiffany said:

Jd, this is a totally unrelated comment… The Army considers your website �not secure�. I only know this because Mon and Tues of this week I was in MD and tried to access your page on an army server. Each time I would get a �Will not display. Web page not secure.� However I was able to access all kinds of shopping pages during class!
I really liked the spider photo.

On 14 May 2003 (09:31 AM),
Dave said:

Just to add my two cents, I’m not convinced that based on your presentation here, you’ve carried your burden of proof in asserting you’re an extrovert, JD. Instead, I think that Paul’s point is well taken. You are comfortable within your sphere and have come to welcome the contact of people within that sphere, perhaps even depend on it for a certain portion of your view of yourself. Would you welcome the same level of contact with complete strangers? In other words, would you actively reach out to people you didn’t know because you felt you wanted/needed the additional personal contact? At some point, probably, but would that point come sooner or later compared to the average individual? That’s how I would define an extrovert as opposed to an introvert. Not that I’d generally take the position that you’re an introvert, however. As someone who has been accused of being downright misanthropic, I’d say you’d have a looooong ways to go to get to introvert.

This is not to say that you haven’t changed over the course of the years, but speaking as one person who has probably known you for longer than most, but for that momentary divergence into “evangelical Christianity” (to use Dana’s terms) I think you’re remained fairly consistent in how you relate to others. My recollection is that you’ve always had a fairly outgoing style and I’m sure that your report cards said that you worked and played well with others. And looking back, I can’t think of anyone that you did not get along with fairly well (other than the snobby people who only wanted to play with other snobby people, but who cares about them).

Speaking as a dedicated introvert (who lives with a dedicated extrovert) Thag will now retreat to his cave.

On 14 May 2003 (11:19 AM),
Amy Jo said:

To JD’s better half (aka Kris)–Wouldn’t Sellwood or Westmoreland be nearly as close to Clackamas as Canby?

On 13 May 2004 (11:08 AM),
Gwen said:

Did you know that Tammy used to be an introvert? Grandma used to look at her and say, “Quiet waters run deep.” She changed in the eighth grade, and now I am quite sure that it wouldn’t matter if she was with friends or strangers, she is soundly an extrovert, (I think:-))


Before my love affair with U2, I had a fling with Asia.

I mentioned the other day that the first record album I ever owned was Paul McCartney’s Tug of War, which was given to me for Christmas of 1982, when I was thirteen years old.

The first album that I ever bought myself, though, was Asia’s eponymous debut. I didn’t know much about the group, and had only heard bits of “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell”, but I knew I had to have the album. The opening strains of “Only Time Will Tell” touched my thirteen-year-old soul deeply.

Jeff and I pooled our money and, at the Beaverton Fred Meyer, we bought a copy of the album on cassette tape. Mom’s car didn’t have a tape deck, so we had to wait until we got home in order to listen to the album. We went into my bedroom and shut the door and turned up the volume:

Heat of the Moment
by Asia

I never meant to be so bad to you
One thing I said that I would never do
A look from you and I would fall from grace
And it would wipe the smile right from my face

Do you remember when we used to dance
And incidents arose from circumstance
One thing led to another, we were young
And we would scream together songs unsung

It was the heat of the moment
Telling me what my heart meant
The heat of the moment showed in your eyes

And now you find yourself in ’82
The disco hot spots hold no charm for you
You can concern yourself with bigger things
You catch a pearl and ride the dragon’s wings

It was the heat of the moment
Telling me what my heart meant
The heat of the moment showed in your eyes

And when your looks have gone and you’re alone
How many nights you sit beside the phone
What were the things you wanted for yourself
Teenage ambitions you remember well

It was the heat of the moment

Telling me what my heart meant
The heat of the moment showed in your eyes

We listened to the opening strains of “Only Time Will Tell” again and again.

We loved this tape, and within months the track listing on the side of the cassette had been rubbed away from use. Amazingly, the tape itself held up well. (In fact, it’s sitting next to me, in a box filled with tapes, as I type; I’ve not listened to any of these tapes since 1995.)

Dave was an Asia fan, too. We’d sit around his room or my room and we’d do junior high geek things: read comic books, play Dungeons and Dragons, browse the yearbook rating the girls (on a continuum that ran from “dog” to “okay” to “fox” to “fox!!!!!!!!!”). Dave had the album on vinyl, and I loved to look at the gorgeous, detailed cover art, a dragon rising from the sea. All of us liked to draw the Asia logo: the pyramidal As, the Z-like S, the triangle over the band’s name.

Back in the olden days, we didn’t have the internet to keep us abreast of coming album releases. Teenaged boys who relied on their mothers for transportation were lucky to spot a new release in the department store. Such was the case with Asia’s second album, Alpha, which was released in the summer of 1983 or 1984. (I think it must have been 1983, because Dave and I were still on speaking terms; I can recall listening to the album with him.)

We didn’t know what to think of Alpha at first. The first album had been straight-ahead rock-and-roll. The second album was more meditative, more contemplative, almost like New Age power rock (if that makes sense). The first single, Don’t Cry, felt unpolished, as if something were missing.

Don’t Cry
by Asia

Hard times you had before you
I knew when I first saw you
You girl you’ve always been mistreated, cheated

So leave it all behind you
It took so long to find you
I know that we can last forever, ever and more, more, oh

Don’t cry now that I’ve found you
Don’ cry take a look around you
Don’t cry it took so long to find you
Do what you want, but little darling please don’t cry

I knew I’d never doubt it

I was so sure about it
Don’t think of all that’s been before

I’ll hear you when you’re calling
I’ll catch you when you’re falling
Don’t worry I will always be there, like never before, or, oh

Don’t cry now that I’ve found you
Don’ cry take a look around you
Don’t cry it took so long to find you

Do what you want, but little darling please don’t cry

This seemed, even then, like Asia’s attempt at a the perfect pop song, but it fell desperately short of the mark. The lyrics were terrible. But I loved it.

I loved the album, too. During the start of my freshman year of high school, I listened to Alpha all the time: at home in my room, in the car, at soccer practice (on the jumbo-sized boomboxes so popular then), in the back of the speech room. I loved the cover art for this album, too, the deep jungles, the mysterious pyramid. The art was even better than that of the first album.

Soon, though, Asia faded from my mind. That fall I was introduced to U2, and all other music took a back seat to my boys from Ireland.

Time passed.

Once I got my drivers license, Paul Carlile and I would make regular trips to Tower Records on 82nd to scope out the import records: the cool U2 singles, the Tears For Fears 12″ singles, the early Thompson Twins albums. The week before Thanksgiving 1985 I was scanning the cassette tapes when I stumbled across a new album from Asia. I bought Astra without knowing anything about it.

I didn’t like Astra at first, and it languished on the floor of the Datsun 310GX. I was more intent on listening to New Order and The Cure. My teen-aged angst was important to me; I had brooding to do, and Asia’s music didn’t lend itself well to sullenness.

With time, though, I emerged from my cocoon of bitterness and rediscovered Astra. I loved it.

During Custom Box’s infancy, we boys were required to work in the shop after school, slotting and gluing boxes for a pittance. We hated it. The only thing which ameliorated the forced labor was that we were allowed to listen to whatever music we chose. Astra was one of my top choices — as were the other two Asia albums — and it joined U2’s War, New Order’s Low Life, The Cure’s Head on the Door, The Dream Academy, and Planet P Project in heavy rotation in the shop.

I went to college and I forgot Asia.

Then, last night, as I was browsing the iTunes Music Store, I stumbled upon an album that collected all of the early Asia that I knew and loved plus B-sides from the singles, songs I’ve never heard. There’s no way that I could resist downloading

Voice of America
by Asia

I heard you on the radio some other time
From some forgotten studio way down the line
So long, so long I’ve waited now to hear you again
That song, that song will still remain, it’s become an old friend
And now, the tears are in my eyes, the sound you can’t disguise
The truth comes back from lies and all I want to hear

Voice of America, ooh, America
Voice of America, ooh, America

And then you came in stereo calling to me
And so I watch the videos across the T.V.
That sound, still ringing in my ears from a decade ago
Around, around my head, the sound from my radio
I thought, that after all these years
The tears, the growing fears
That I would never hear
Never again

Voice of America, ooh, America
Voice of America, ooh, America

Asia never produced great art, but they produced music I loved.


On 13 May 2003 (07:30 AM),
Amy Jo said:

Have you heard the South Park version of “Heat of the Moment?” If not, and you are a sport, maybe Paul will be kind enough to send it to you.

Amy Jo

On 13 May 2003 (07:37 AM),
J.D. said:

I am a sport!

I’m aware enough to recognize that my affinity for Asia is, shall we say, camp.

I love Asia, I love Abba, I love my old comic books. This is childhood stuff, and measured by objective criteria, most of it isn’t very good. But it sure is fun.

Bring on the South Park parody! 🙂

On 13 May 2003 (09:01 AM),
Dave said:

I had the sheet music to the Asia album, “Don’t Cry” and Astra. Probably still do somwhere, mouldering away next to the complete works of the Eagles and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” & “The Final Cut”.

On 14 May 2003 (08:29 AM),
Joelah said:

Tell us more about the infancy of CuBoServ! Did all the bros. work there? How many hours did you work? Were the machines invented back then that you use now? Did working the entry-level jobs back then give you greater insight into management of the current CuBoServ? Or do you not feel that management need understand the actual details of labor? And for fuck’s sake, post some pics of this historical moment. You spend so much time reflecting on the past, yet I’ve never seen a photo from way back then. This is, of course, a demand rather than a suggestion.
(Thanks for your continuing help on playing keeper.)

Mix Tapes

Like a lot of other people my age, I’ve always liked to make my own mix tapes (or, now, mix CDs). In junior high, Jeff and I made primitive mix tapes by taping from the radio. We preferred to tape from KSKD because they didn’t talk over the music. We made some great tapes, filled with early 80s power rock and new wave and disco remnants, but these formative works have vanished. They’re probably buried in a box with a bunch of Neil Diamond LPs and Mannheim Steamroller cassettes, waiting to be discovered twenty years from now.

Eventually we began to buy records and tapes. (My first record, a Christmas gift, was Paul McCartney’s Tug of War; Jeff’s first record, also a Christmas Gift, was Men at Work’s eponymous debut album.) The first tape that I can remember us buying (jointly, I believe, though Jeff will surely correct me if I’m wrong) was Asia’s first album. We sat together in my bedroom, cranked the sound, and played the opening strains of “Only Time Will Tell” again and again. I’m sure this was one of the first signs for my parents that we were lost to them, we were entering young adulthood and would never be their babies again.

I don’t remember when I made my first actual mix tape. It wasn’t my freshman year of high school, and it may not even have been my sophomore year. Around this time, though, I came up with the brilliantly original idea — or so I thought — of constructing a tape which collected only my very favorite songs. I had too many favorite songs; I had to make two mix tapes.

Those first two mixes are lost, probably loaned to some high school girlfriend and never to be recovered again. The oldest mix tape I still have is Mix #3: English Mix, a tape filled with the likes of Vitamin Z (“Burning Flame”), Thompson Twins (“Lies”), Alphaville (“Forever Young”), Tears For Fears (“Madworld”) and Duran Duran (“Hungry Like the Wolf”).

My first good mix was Mix #4: Soda Pop Music, a tape that I put together soon after New Order’s Brotherhood was released in September of 1986 — I placed two songs from that album on the mix. I played this soda pop mix over and over. I wore out the tape and had to dub a new one (which, of course, caused the sound quality to suffer, but I didn’t care). The new tape eventually broke and I had to splice it together with scotch tape. (How many of you can remember splicing your favorite cassette tapes back together with scotch tape? Sometimes one had to actually unscrew the case of the cassette to fish out the other end of the tape. It was a maddening process, but sometimes it was worth it.) I still have that tape somewhere, but a couple of years ago I converted the mix to CD. The tape held 90 minutes of music, and a CD only holds 80 minutes, so I was forced to remove three songs, but I think that only made the mix stronger.

Mix #4: Soda Pop Music
(a mix by jdroth — November 1986)

  1. Don’t Change (INXS)
  2. Chipmunks Are Go! (Madness)
  3. One Step Beyond (Madness)
  4. Poison Arrow (ABC)
  5. Look of Love (ABC)
  6. I Melt With You (Modern English)
  7. President Am I (Slow Children)
  8. Genetic Engineering (OMD)
  9. Goddess of Love (OMD)
  10. Red Skies at Night (The Fixx)
  11. Radio Free Europe (REM)
  12. If I Was (Midge Ure)
  13. Every Little Counts (New Order)
  14. Chequered Love (Kim Wilde)
  15. Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran)
  16. Close to Me (The Cure)
  17. Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) (The Icicle Works)
  18. Catch Me I’m Falling (Real Life)
  19. Original Sin (INXS)

This one mix opened the floodgates and suddenly I was making mixes for friends and family every couple of weeks. I made Mix #8: Checkerboard Mix, Mix #11: Summer Nights (and Mix #12: Summer Nights, part two), Mix #14: Voices in My Head, and Mix #25: Soda Pop Music II. None of them were as good as my first soda pop music mix.

I went to college and was pleased to find that Willamette had outstanding audio equipment available for personal use in the library. During my freshman year I’d borrow records and tapes from my friends and I’d trundle across campus to the library where I’d set up a regular duplicating studio: while I was recording a record to tape in one room, I’d be dubbing tapes in two separate rooms. And what did I do with all of this newfound music? I made more mixes of course!

I made mixes for Amy (Mix #31: A Dinner for Two and then, after she left for Germany, Mix #38: Holding Back the Years). And I made mixes for Kris:

Mix #44: Music for the Anatomy
(a mix by jdroth — 28 March 1989)

Side One: Music for Your Legs (and Hips)

  1. Our Lips are Sealed (Go-Gos)
  2. Rock Me Tonight (Billy Squier)
  3. Devil Inside (INXS)
  4. Beds are Burning (Midnight Oil)
  5. Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)
  6. Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis)
  7. Heard it Through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye)
  8. Crocodile Rock (Elton John)
  9. I Want Your Hands On Me (Sinead O’Connor)
  10. Destroyer (The Kinks)
  11. Hello, I Love You (Adam Ant)
  12. Grown Man Cry (The Rolling Stones)
  13. Talking Loud and Clear (OMD)

Side Two: Music for Your Arms (and Lips)

  1. You’re My Home (Billy Joel)
  2. Crazy Love (Helen Reddy)
  3. Gypsy (Suzanne Vega)
  4. Without Your Love (Roger Daltry)
  5. Baby Mine (Bonnie Raitt)
  6. On Your Shore (Enya)
  7. Every Breath You Take (The Police)
  8. Verdi Cries (10,000 Maniacs)
  9. Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin)
  10. Lover Man (Communards)
  11. Sea of Love (The Honeydrippers)
  12. I Just Want to Make Love to You (Muddy Waters)

Of course I wasn’t the only one making mix tapes. Jim Osmer gave me an advocacy tape filled with his favorite bands (fIREHOSE, Screaming Trees, The Pixies, They Might Be Giants, Husker Du, Red Hot Chili Peppers), and another tape he called The Blues According to Jim packed with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, and more Muddy Waters. Amy sent me a tape from Germany. Heather Butler sent me a tape for my birthday; she called it the pink album. Since Heather and I have become estranged, this is one of my prized possessions of our former friendship.

the pink album: I was nineteen, now I am twenty
(a mix by Heather Bulter — March 1989)

  1. Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go? (The Harvard Din and Tonics)
  2. Miss Italiel (Plastic Bertrand)
  3. Can You Feel It (Jane Fonda and the Jacksons)
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Willie Nelson)
  5. Jungle Love (The Time)
  6. One (A Chorus Line soundtrack)
  7. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183, first movement (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  8. Something’s Coming (Barbra Streisand)
  9. And She Was (Talking Heads)
  10. Heart and Soul (Huey Lewis and the News)
  11. Something’s Coming (West Side Story soundtrack)
  12. America (West Side Story soundtrack)
  13. In a Big Country (Big Country)
  14. One (reprise) (A Chorus Line soundtrack)

During my junior year I made my second great mix, Woman Unchained, a mix comprising only songs by women (and one song by Tears For Fears). I’ll post the track list later.

The summer after I graduated from college, I worked in the A/V room at Tokyo International University of America (a story for another time). I had access to many fun toys, including a sound system connected to two VCRs and a laserdisc player. Well. What fun it was to make mixes incorporating songs from my favorite movies! I’m still quite fond of my single-sided When Harry Met Sally mix, which features songs from Singing in the Rain. If only I could have come up with a second side…

I continued to make mix tapes throughout the nineties, though I lost track of my numbering system somewhere in the 120s.

The year I bought my first CD-burner was a revelation: I could rip all of my CDs to mp3s on my hard drive! And then came Napster: I could download difficult-to-find songs! And then came mp3-manipulation software: I could create seamless segues between music tracks! My favorite technology, though, was my soundcard and its ability to record from external audio sources. Suddenly my old scratchy vinyl records could be converted to digital music (complete with pops and clicks). I spent several weeks converting hundreds of songs from vinyl albums and 45s to mp3. I’ve made three mixes from these vinyl tracks, the best of which was the first:

Clinging to Vinyl
(a mix by jdroth — 05 May 2000)

  1. Heading for the Moon (Cyndi Lauper)
  2. Mirror Man (The Human League)
  3. Talk About the Passion (R.E.M.)
  4. Europa and the Pirate Twins (Thomas Dolby)
  5. Going Down to Liverpool (Katrina and the Waves)
  6. If You Were Here (Thompson Twins)
  7. Johnson’s Aeroplane (INXS)
  8. Stand or Fall (The Fixx)
  9. October (U2)
  10. Don’t Change (INXS)
  11. Love of the Common People (Paul Young)
  12. Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) (The Icicle Works)
  13. Madworld (Tears For Fears)
  14. Left of Center (Suzanne Vega)
  15. Pop Goes the World (Men Without Hats)
  16. Chequered Love (Kim Wilde)
  17. Space Age Love Song (A Flock of Seagulls)
  18. Haunted When the Minutes Drag (Love and Rockets)
  19. Modigliani (Book of Love)
  20. I Don’t Mind at All (Bourgeois Tagg)
  21. I Need You (The Eurythmics)

Notice any similarities between that mix and my very first mixes?

I have a special file in my desk which contains lists (and partial lists) of songs for future mixes. Scattered across my hard drive are dozens of Winamp playlists featuring mixes-in-progress. I have an uncompleted bluegrass mix, a still-to-be-finished “Best Damn Abba Songs Ever” mix, a half-finished mix of a cappella covers of U2 songs, somewhere there’s a nascent heavy metal mix, and I still haven’t finished the science fiction mix you all helped with earlier.

The best thing of all? Kris likes to make mixes, too. When we go on long trips, we take turns listening to each other’s mixes. She has a penchant for bitter women. I tend to like repetitive synthpop. It’s great!

Here’s a list of previous entries featuring mixes I’ve made:

Maybe I’ll make a new mix tonight…


On 09 May 2003 (09:40 AM),
J.D. said:

Here’s a mix that I love but Kris hates. The segues between the tracks are s-m-o-o-t-h and the music gets me jumpin’:

Funk Is Its Own Reward
(a mix by jdroth — 15 November 2002)

  1. It’s Just Beginning (Jummy Castor Bunch)
  2. In the Hand of the Inevitable (James Taylor Quartet)
  3. Funky Music (White Boy) (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic)
  4. Theme from S.W.A.T. (Rhythm Heritage)
  5. You Sexy Thing (Barry White)
  6. Mr. Big Stuff (Jean Knight)
  7. Monkey Drop (New Jersey Kings)
  8. Get Down On It (The Gap Band)
  9. We Want the Funk (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic)
  10. Lady Marmalade (Patti Labelle)
  11. Green Onions (Booker T and the MGs)
  12. Light Years (Jamiroquai)
  13. Brick House (The Commodores)
  14. Pick up the Pieces (Average White Band)
  15. I Like Girls (Fatback)
  16. I Think It’s Better (Jill Scott)
  17. Love is Rare (Morcheeba !?!?! — yup, Morcheeba)
  18. Theme From Shaft (Isaac Hayes)
  19. Sex Machine (James Brown)
  20. Rock Wit U (Alicia Keyes)
  21. Take the L Train (Brooklyn Funk Essentials)

This is quite the funky mix, and plenty of good listenin’.

On 09 May 2003 (09:49 AM),
J.D. said:

Last fall, Paul Carlile came up and we spent a day together, mostly huddled around the computer listening to music. He and I both love ethereal electronica type stuff, trip-hop, etc. This awesome driving mix was the outcome of that session:

Passengers: A Driving Mix
(a mix by jdroth — 15 October 2002)

  1. Announcement (Arling & Cameron)
  2. Voulez-Vous (Arling & Cameron)
  3. Lebanese Blonde (Thievery Corporation)
  4. Hell is Around the Corner (Tricky)
  5. Nights Interlude (Nightmares on Wax)
  6. Breathe (Telepopmusik)
  7. Intermezzo (Arling & Cameron)
  8. Gorecki (Lamb)
  9. Days Go By (Dirty Vegas)
  10. Signs of Love (Moby)
  11. Battersea (Hooverphonic)
  12. Sea People (Emiliana Torrini)
  13. Slug (Passengers)
  14. Your Blue Room (Passengers)
  15. Always Forever Now (Passengers)
  16. Different Kind of Blue (Passengers)
  17. Beach Sequence (Passengers)
  18. Miss Sarajevo (Passengers)
  19. Tears in Rain (Vangelis, from Blade Runner)

For those who are unaware, Passengers == U2 and Brian Eno, sounding very much like The Unforgettable Fire. This is a great mix, perfect for long night-time trips. It’ll put you in a high-mental-state trance and make the miles melt away.

On 09 May 2003 (10:53 AM),
Tiffany said:

It is funny. I have more music in common with you then with Rich! He loves to make mixes, but never labels the stupid CDs so; he can never fine the CD that he wants when he wants it. I have made a few mixes, but am not that committed.

My first music buying experience was unpleasant. In 4th grade I wanted �Michael Jackson Thriller�, yes, I am ashamed to admit that now. So, I saved up my allowance and headed for the BX (military Wal-mart). There were two album covers at the store, so I picked the photo I liked better. Only to find out that I pick up the extended single album and not the whole album. I was devastated, cried to Mom, who went and bought the right one for me. J

As a side note, Rich has a whole box of records that we keep moving around. We do not even have a record player to listen to them on!

On 09 May 2003 (01:29 PM),
tammy said:

Heyyyyy! What do ya mean, “how many of you remember splicing your cassette tapes with scotch tape”. Like nobody does that anymore . We just taped a cassette tape with scotch tape a couple weks ago. Are you implying we’re way behind the times!?

On 09 May 2003 (05:26 PM),
Lisa said:

J.D., I recently realized that you provide a forum for vaporing on at the world, and I thought I’d give it a whirl.

A friend of a friend has become famous for his annual CD mixes. (I think he may give them at Christmas.) Each year he puts together a variety of songs that have been interesting or meaningful to him. His name is Jay, and the mixes are called DJay 2002, and so on.

As onlookers (onlisteners?), Craig and I love going to Kaylene and Matt’s, where DJay is often the choice in the CD player.

Sooo… If you’re affirming your dedication of mixes, perhaps it’s time to create retrospective of the music that you’ve enjoyed over the year, fiscal quarter, lunar month, or whatever.

The first album I bought (bicycled to Grand Central before it was purchased by Fred Meyer) was Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair when I was about 14. Fine album.

On 10 August 2003 (04:42 PM),
Brenna said:

How nice to see that someone else besides me remembers and appreciates Bourgeouis Tagg! I’ve also made my share of mixes, and used to fill the last 1-2 minutes on each side with random stuff off the radio (pause the record function, find a radio station, unpause, record 5-10 seconds, pause again, find new station, and so on). Quite enjoyable, and the results were pretty funny at times.

On 14 August 2003 (11:18 PM),
Korrie said:

Hey, I have an interesting situation that you might be able to help me with. My boyfriend is a 19 year old Marine that lives in Cali and I’m a 16 year old high school student that lives in Kansas. We talk for hours every night and we are truly in love. A few days ago, he asked me to marry him. (Don’t worry, we are going to wait until we are both through college until we actually do) I was wanting to make him a mix tape as one of my ways of saying yes. Think you can help me with the details? If anyone has ideas or wants to help, my e-mail is [email protected]


Debbie Driscoll, another member of our soccer team, is conducting market research on video phones. Debbie’s recruited Joel and Mac and me (and Kris’ sister, Tiffany, too!) to help test one system.

I’ve always been fond of the concept of video phones; they’ve been present in science fiction for decades (The Jetsons, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc.), but they’ve never made it into our homes.

Our group is testing a computer-based video phone that operates via four components: a webcam, a microphone/earphone headset, a broadband connection, and a piece of software that ties all of these together. Last night was the first chance I’d had to test the videophone in action.

Here’s a screenshot from my conversation with Mac (click to open a larger image in a new window):

The videophone is fun to use, despite my initial skepticism.

It’s not without its problems, though. Image and sound quality are poor at times, and may degrade over the course of a call (more testing will determine this, I suppose). The videophone headset incapacitates my computer’s speakers; if I want to play a game or listen to mp3s, I either have to wear the headset (which has only one earpiece) or crawl around behind the computer, unplugging and plugging wires.

In order to actually get paid for participating in this market research — you didn’t think we were doing this for free did you? — we need to complete a journal entry after each call. For example:

Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 21:56:44 -0700
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: J.D.’s Videophone Post-call Journal 1.05

Call Date: 06 May 2003
Start time of call: 09:50 p.m.
End time of call: 09:57 p.m.
Who did you speak with? Mackenzie Smith
They called me / I called them He called me.

What was fun about this call? Why?
This call was fun because both the video quality and the audio quality were the best for any call yet. Mac’s voice was perfectly clear, though he sounded as if he had a cold. The video was not perfect, but that’s probably because I had adjusted the video quality to the lowest setting after deciding that it had no affect on my calls with Joel. Another fun thing, though not wholly relevant, was that Mac and I were both able to tell that things Weren’t Quite Normal: he noted that I was at Kris’ computer instead of mine (because the videophone software refuses to install on my computer) and I noted that he had flipped his video image.

What was annoying? Why?
There was nothing about the call itself that was annoying this time. I was most annoyed by having to wear the headset. I would have liked to be able to use the in-camera microphone and to listen to Mac via my computer’s speakers. (I have concerns that the videophone’s headset will prevent me from using my normal speakers because I’m too lazy to crawl around unplugging cables and plugging them back all the time.)

Please list the features you used.
Mac called while I was in the middle of another call to Joel. The videophone would not let me answer Mac’s call until I had ended the call to Joel. This feature seemed pretty straightforward, though I would make one change.

What changes would you like to make to the videophone system? Why?
It seemed sensible to me that if I were to tell the alert box that I wanted to connect to Mac, that it would warn me that doing so would disconnect from Joel and then give me the option to do so. Instead, I had to cancel out of the alert box, disconnect from Joel, and then take Mac’s call. Of course — and you already know this — what the three of us *really* wanted to do was connect for a conference call.

I wonder if the difficulties in speaking with Joel stem from the settings he’s given his hardware, either in the control panel, the individual drivers, or the videophone application itself. Maybe the three of us (Mac, Joel, and myself) can get together and compare notes regarding our setups.


I’m curious to see how we use the videophone during the next few weeks.


On 07 May 2003 (09:34 AM),
Joelah said:

Here’s why the videophone is exciting. I’m saying this because we all know immediately why it sucks. It’s exciting to me because I believe it creates a very new kind of conversation. I’m a frustrated English major, I live for conversation. I’m not good at chatting, I yearn to find “the point” in most of my interactions with other humans. So the videophone, by making us confront grainy and unflattering visuals of our friends, is inherently hostile to chatting. So, we try and have conversations (thus far mostly about the videophone itself) but meanwhile our BODIES are doing the chatting. We cannot make eye contact with each other, so we listen to each other’s voices while staring at the way Mac’s shoulder hunches when he stresses a certain word. J.D. flicks his fingers when he’s got several things to say in a row, then abruptly stops, leans back, and makes his face expressionless when I interrupt.
I want to take this further. I want to have these strange visual conversations with my friends while doing physical things that interfere or affect verbal meaning. Like shaving, or reading a magazine. Kris and Aimee tried to do some chatting while J.D. seemingly pranced in the background (or maybe that was just the way JD moves when no one else is around). In response, I stood behind Aimee and lifted up my shirt. Instant voyeurism.
I was fortunate yesterday to actually have something to show people while we were talking. I had made mosaic out of broken shards of tile, so when I felt like we had to show something to each other because our bodies were doing more talking than we were, I ran and got it. I showed it to JD, who was confused. What the hell was this fractured blue square that had suddenly replaced Joel’s ridiculous chin-stroking? JD didn’t know about the mosaic project, so it took some conversation to convince him that, it was okay, the mosaic was a friend, something to be excited about. This was a fascinating moment. Instead of speaking to a three-quarter profile, he was talking to me looking at a grainy image of a somewhat sloppily created piece of home art. I felt like the very first grandma who ever hauled a murky, grainy daguerrotype of little Amos out of her leathern satchel and thrust it unexpectedly at an innocent stranger.

On 07 May 2003 (09:55 AM),
J.D. said:

Well said, my friend. You’ve touched upon things that never would have occurred to me.

Videophones, if the technology takes off, could introduce a new fundamental form of communication. It’s strange using one because it borrows elements from communication devices with which we are all familiar — telephones, television, computers — and integrates them into something new, something familiar yet strangely disconcerting.

For example, as I observed to Joel last night, when he holds an object (such as his mosaic) up to the camera and he is obscured from view, my natural reaction is: aha! I cannot see Joel, therefor he cannot see me and, thus, it must be safe to pick my nose. It doesn’t work that way.

And there is something about the videophone that brings about greater exhibitionism, new ways of sharing. Especially for friends and family who are separated by distance, such as Kris and Tiffany, the videophone allows sharing that might not occur often. If Tiffany, for example, gives birth to twins, Kris might not meet them for months or years. Yet, through a videophone, she could see them (and the rest of the family) every day. (I keep thinking that it’d be nice if Paul and Amy Jo were doing this study, too &mash; we could meet their pets, see their house, etc.)

I’m curious to see how Kris’ parents like the videophone. I don’t know how often they visit Tiffany and Richard, but if they do swing by Palm Desert in the next month, we’ll have to arrange a video conversation.

Again, what would really be cool is the ability to do conference calls with the videophone. It’d be great to have a joint call with Dana and Andrew, for example, or with Mac and Joel.

The cool thing is: this videophone technology is available now. I’ll have to check with Debbie, but I don’t think this software is secret. I think it’s out there, in the wild, available for anyone to use. All that’s required is a webcam and a microphone. If this isn’t some top-secret software project, I’ll post a link to the download site in case any of you already have the required equipment and want to join the fun.

On 07 May 2003 (12:58 PM),
J.D. said:

I checked with Debbie, and she says that anyone with the proper equipment (webcam and broadband) can download the videophone software from the Interval Media web site.

It’s not likely that many of you out there meet these requirements, but if you do have the proper equipment, and you install the software, give me a buzz. As you might guess, my username is jdroth.

On 07 May 2003 (01:22 PM),
Tiffany said:

I first want to say that I am not having twins! Not happening, are you taking Mom’s side on the baby issue?

Mom would love this idea. But both Kris and I would find talking to her on a video phone even more annoying then talking to her on a phone. She would be trying to hold up things for up to see and running to get ‘just one more thing’. I do no think that the folks are going to be here this month because I have trips the next few weeks.

I did notice that your inserted phone is much less clear then the image I got of Kris.

On 07 May 2003 (01:47 PM),
Dave said:

The geek in me finds this concept quite appealing, however, the slightly luddite streak in me compels me say that I like the fact that people can’t see me picking my nose when I’m talking to them. As, no doubt, do they. At times I appreciate being a disembodied voice.

On 07 May 2003 (09:37 PM),
Drew said:

Okay, okay, West Wing is a damn fine show.

On 07 May 2003 (10:30 PM),
dowingba said:

I think I would prefer the “phone-based” videophone to a “computer-based” one. I just can’t make myself trust computers (or other digital media) to handle sensory data like sound/vision, especially in a “real time” situation like a phone call.

On 14 May 2003 (10:44 AM),
Dana said:


Using the videophone connection last night worked fairly well, I thought, even if I didn’t have a camera. Did you figure out if it was Mac’s call that caused you to lose audio?

I definitely think you need to suggest the answering machine functionality, though. And some support for interoperability with other software, possibly through a server-based translation from one protocol to another (or client-based support for a wider range of protocols).

Just my suggestions, though. It worked well long hop, sound was good, and sliced through the firewall with no problem from my end. Didn’t even have to reconfigure.

On 15 April 2005 (11:57 AM),
lemec said:

je veux avoir plus d’information sur les videophones


This week’s Photo Friday assignment is small.

I had hoped to make a photograph in which ‘small’ was represented by contrasts in scale: a small ant next to a gigantic apple, a small infant held in his father’s hands, etc.

This isn’t going to happen. I don’t have the time.

Instead, here is a previous photograph of a small object: a dandelion photographed with my 105mm macro lens (exposure unrecorded).

[close-up photo of a dandelion]

The Beyond the Basics photography field trip was held this morning in downtown Portland. I had high hopes for the trip, but, just five minutes in, I broke my tripod. I forgot to lock one leg segment, and as I was digging my camera out of its bag, the tripod collapsed. The cheap plastic head shattered. Since the entire tripod is cheap, there’s no separating the legs from the head. This is a good excuse to buy a nice tripod, but I can’t exactly afford it at the moment. If you know of a good used tripod for sale, please let me know.

Warren allowed me to use his tripod for the rest of the field trip; it’s a huge, heavy beast, but after using it, and experiencing its stability, I understand just how cheap my tripod was.

We spent a part of our field trip in Ladd’s Addition, a relatively nice Portland neighborhood constructed around a series of large roundabouts (they’re too large to just call traffic circles). I used call this area “the Black Hole of Portland” because before I knew the streets well, I’d often get sucked into the center roundabout and not be able to find my way out. I hadn’t ever considered taking photographs in the area, but it’s actually a fantastic location. There are several public alleyways, lots of old trees and flowers in bloom, and there’s even some relatively interesting architecture. I’ll return there myself in the future.

Next week in David Falconer‘s class, we’re taking a field trip to Portland’s Saturday Market. This ought to be fun, but it’s going to be a little intimidating. I don’t have much experience photographing strangers, and that is, essentially, what we’ll be doing.

In preparation, I did some research on photographers’ rights. I found a lawyer’s viewpoint, and some useful information from an experienced photographer.

Before class on Saturday morning, I drove out to take some photographs of a field and a barn near Gribble Road. As I was setting up my equipment, an old man from the house across the street came out to see what I was doing. He seemed wary of my presence.

He introduced himself as Paul Grand, and when I told him my name, he brightened.

“I knew your grandpa, Noey,” he said, and I knew that he was telling the truth. Grandpa’s name was Noah, and only his friends and family called him Noey.

“Your grandpa used to get tired while driving, and he’d stop to take naps along the way home,” Paul said. “I’d drive home from work — I worked at the Oregon City post office — and see Ol’ Noey parked along the side of the road, sleeping. One day he ran his car off the road right up there” — and Paul pointed to a ditch near the Van Gordon house — “and I was outside so I ran up to make sure that he was okay.”

“‘Are you alright?’ I asked.”

“‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I was tired, but I thought I could make it home. I guess I fell asleep while driving.'”

Paul and I talked for about ten minutes. His daughter graduated from Willamette University, so he was excited to hear that I had, too. He told me about other people that had photographed his property (which extends on both sides of the highway). In the end, he granted me permission to access his land at any time, even the property set back from the road. Outstanding! I’d been eyeing an old barn of his for the past few weeks…