Thursday, May 16, 2002

I MADE A RARE VISIT to Luddite-land this week. The multimedia capabilities we have in this old house are staggering, but when it came time to render my recent spate of CD purchases useful, it turned out we weren't equipped to record a cassette tape.

I buy CDs, but I don't really listen to them -- at least not in CD form. (I went through an unfortunate period of buying CDs and not listening to them at all, but that's a different entry.) My music appreciation these days occurs pretty much in the car (still equipped with only a cassette player) and at the computer (with its subwoofer and its Windows Media Player and my MP3 collection from "ripped" CDs and the late, lamented Napster era).

We've maxed out the space in our living-room entertainment center, so my wife's cassette deck was in her office, hooked up to her computer setup. Attempts to record cassettes through that computer were stymied by the fact that such recordings would also pick up any Windows system sounds that happened along. So the component would have to join my early-'80s gear in our bedroom, replacing the Price Club dual cassette deck that gave out a year or two ago.

Next problem: My Technics receiver (dating to the first time silver was a fashionable color for stereo components) predates the CD player, and so the input jacks were basically equipped for a record player and one other piece -- obviously, the cassette deck. So I had to drag out a long-retired solution in the form of a Realistic-brand switching box made by Radio Shack, a Tandy corporation (before it became "RadioShack" and forgot its Tandy roots).

I had to unhook and rehook a lot of cables and try a lot of switching configurations, but finally I was able to make my cassettes. The first batch:

The Strokes, Is This It
The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
The White Stripes, De Stijl
The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious
Death Cab for Cutie (I love that name), The Photo Album
Belle & Sebastian, The Boy With the Arab Strap (much older than the others, but Death Cab needed a B-side)

Coming soon, after I buy more tapes:

Dashboard Confessional, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most and The Swiss Army Romance

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