M. Giant's
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Monday, July 05, 2010  

XM-I Getting on Your Nerves Yet?

Trash and I have recently discovered the fun of satellite radio. It's not that we were just now exposed to it; we just didn't get how to properly use it until now.

My parents had it in their pickup when they lent it to us a few years ago around Christmastime (we have since gotten better at cutting back on present-buying), and Trash locked it on the holiday songs channel. Which turned out to be less than satisfactory for both of us, because she didn't want to hear so many obscure Christmas songs and I wanted to hear no Christmas songs.

When I went to L.A. a couple of years ago, it was in my rental car. I liked it at first, because I had plenty of time to drive around before my meeting. But then it wasn't long before I realized that at any given moment, I was probably missing several hundred of my favorite songs on other channels.

But on this road trip, it's been a godsend. For instance, we didn't know you could get NPR on it. See, what normally happens on long drives during the weekend is that we're in the car during Car Talk, and then somehow, right when Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me is supposed to come on, we leave that station's broadcast area and enter a different station's broadcast area. And of course that station is playing "Car Talk" all over again, and by the time it's over, we're there. Instead, this time we got to hear "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" in its entirety -- twice!

Incidentally, this is also the first time I've ever heard all of the song "American Pie" on the radio without driving out of range before the end.

We also discovered that there's a comedy channel that's fit to listen to when M. Edium is in the car, described as "clean comedy." This is, unsurprisingly, hit and miss. You hear some good Mitch Hedberg or Stephen Wright, but a lot of what passes for clean is, by necessity, old, short, or just not that funny. Although we did hear a pretty good half-minute of David Cross the other day.

But Trash's favorite use for satellite radio is as a torture device. And the person she's torturing is me.

I have to hand it to her, she knows what I don't like. The 70s on 7, for example, is what you might call a "target-rich environment." I think that station does it on purpose. They've even got a feature called the "Jukebox of Cheese," so they have to be aware of it.

I can't even tell you all the awful tunes Trash has deliberately subjected me to in the last week and a half. But she can. In fact, she has been telling her Twitter feed. Which is protected, but I think the people being protected are y'all. I mean, it's bad enough that she's been inflicting earworms like "Baby I'm-a Want You" on her online friends without making them available for general consumption.

I could give more examples, but I've learned to cultivate a zen-like calm. For the really bad songs, I can often outlast her.

We've actually talked about getting it ourselves. There's not really a casual alternative station in the Twin Cities right now, unless you count the Current, and since they'll never again play that song you like that you heard them play once (or indeed play any other songs more than once), I don't. So maybe satellite radio is for us.

And to be honest, it's better than what she used to do, which was to play me "Midnight at the Oasis" on her cell phone. Brrr.

posted by M. Giant 8:35 PM 3 comments


Now you're just reminding me of the horrible morning I got in my car expecting to hear Drive 105 and was subjected to the horror of Love 105 instead. I just get most of my NPR in podcast form these days and plug in the iPod.

By Blogger Emily, at July 5, 2010 at 9:09 PM  

I, for one, was enjoying Trash's Twitter feed on the various songs she'd found. Except for that one day when she denigrated the ever-awesome A-ha. (Guess that was during the 80s on 8 phase...)

We got XM for our car right before driving from our home in western, upstate NY down to Orlando and back in February. It was very nice for the "not losing the station signal" aspect, but it turns out that a lot of the programming was repeated over and over again, at least on the 80s and 70s channel (my top listening choices when I was at the wheel) or the sports-talk stations (Hubby's listening choices when he was driving). As our trip coincided with Tiger's first press statement about his whole life debacle, I heard not only his stilted, robotic statement about eleventy billion times, but heard the same, subsequent commentary about his statement eleventy million times. Sadly, it was never enough in and of itself to put me to sleep during the 27 hours down and 24 back up. (We drove straight through both ways.) We also enjoyed listening to the movie score channel - it was fun to try to guess the music, and certain selections (like, say, the Imperial March or the music from The Natural) came on at very funny, coincidentally appropriate times during the trip.

We opted to cancel the service once we got home, though, because neither of us listens to the radio that much when in the car and if we do, we are fortunate to have adequate stations in our neck of the woods.

Oh, and I tweeted (twittered?) this to Trash during the trip, but my favorite way to drive road trip companions crazy is to read them bits of trivia or funny town names out of the atlas. You know, highest elevation point, state bird, etc etc. Just in case you guys keep your XM and you need adequate revenge for the earworms on your next long drive...

By Blogger Heather, at July 6, 2010 at 8:45 AM  

We're big fans of XM particularly since terrestrial radio in Baltimore sucks some pretty awful monkey butt, but it does seem that the playlists are not as "deep" as they used to be.

By Anonymous Tony, at July 9, 2010 at 10:41 PM  

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