If I owned a ski resort, this would be paradise

If living on the prairies taught me anything, it’s that it’s far better to shovel 2″ of snow twice rather than 4″ of snow once. So in that spirit, I attacked the driveway here at 2100, clearing the roughly 3″ that had accumulated since Snowpocalypse, Round III began at ~1700. I then went and did other things for 4 hours, only to come back to five more inches — thank you, increasingly heavy snowfall! That took an hour to clear. There’s now enough snow around that I’ve run out of places to put it; my neatly-constructed piles are avalanching themselves, and I can’t seem to keep anything in place. I have given up trying to keep the sidewalk clear — I can’t even find the sidewalk anymore. Unshoveled areas feature suicidally high cliffs of snow, and I am dreading daybreak.

That's… remarkable!

So last month, Sirius-XM went ahead with their channel merger, blowing up basically every channel I actually listened to. Lucy, the alternative hits channel — gone. The System, a WorldSpace trance channel — gone. POTUS, kind of like talk radio without the morons — gone on XMSR Canada. XM Chill — horribly disfigured. Bluesville is OK, for now, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope for it. Thanks, Sirius-XM! I’ll be waiting to see if the Mariners suck before deciding whether I’m going to cancel my subscription.

What amazes me is that the only thing I actually wanted on Sirius — CBC on satellite — didn’t get merged over. Blows my mind. Buncha apes. I fail to see the point of paying for subscription radio services that don’t sound all that different from the crap that’s on commercial radio for free.

The only bright spot in the channel realignment is that I now get BBC Radio 1 — not a subset, not a stupid branding with a bunch of poncy accents — no, we’re talking about the real, live, actual Radio 1 feed from the UK. Of course, I’m too old to fit in Radio 1’s demographic, and I’m listening to it eight hours out of sync (hooray for 0300 programming in Britain!), but man, this is what satellite radio is supposed to be! I’d kill to be able to get radio feeds from other English-language radio networks. That’d be awesome.

But that’s not the point of this entry. I’ve been diving back into my music collection, and trying to find new and interesting stuff to listen to. Pop music these days mostly makes my teeth hurt, or makes me miserable; the last truly great new pop song I heard was (and I’m almost ashamed to admit this) Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love.” Everything sounds the same. So I’m back exploring what, for lack of a better term, could be described as “sonic landscapes” — instrumental, electronica, trance. Start with Sigur Ros and E.S. Posthumus and get stranger from there.

But I stumbled on this thing tonight, and it was so striking, so startling that I had to share. It’s Max Richter’s “24 Postcards in Full Color” (available on iTunes for the damned, but in a DRM-free format). This is 24 tracks, none of them longer than about 2:30, using a string quintet, a guitar, and a piano, with a bunch of other, stranger found sounds. The goal was, apparently, to explore — get this — the ringtone as a musical form.

Yeah, right was my initial reaction. But here’s the truly weird part: it actually works as music. They’re like, I dunno, musical amuse-bouches. It’s some of the strangest, most interesting music I’ve heard in a long, long time.