The final ersatz mix brings us to the year 2000, more or less.
The second assignment I got from the temp agency was for Carle hospital, where I was working in sterile processing (the area that prepares materials for the operating rooms and cleans and sterilizes the used equipment afterwards.) I was managing the inventory for the disposable supplies. It was pretty interesting and soon I was hired on for real, but switched to managing the reusable surgical instruments. I started out doing okay, but as time went on, the job got worse. The boss was an awful person, there was very little actual work for me to do, and I was bored most of the time. I killed hours at work on the Internet, downloading music on Napster and hanging out on various message boards. I also started hanging around in a private chatroom (called “chizat”) with Kurt, Anna, some of their friends, and some folks I knew from playing on a MUD for a little while.
My great teaching plan had failed and I was back at square one, after having wasted a lot of time and money. I thought about going to grad school for library science, but was not accepted into the program.
On the plus side, Becky and I bought out first house, a cute two-bedroom job with a great basement that was well suited for becoming my “geek room”. I had all kinds of dreams of hosting Dungeons and Dragons and other games there, but they were shot down; Chris and Becky had had some kind of falling-out and Chris decided he simply couldn’t stand to be in a house that she had been in. The house was within walking distance of the hospital and the bus stop, so we went from me driving the car 100 miles a day to only filling up the tank about once a month, which was nice.
Socially I was mainly hanging out with Chris and Christine (at their place, of course) and also a new friend I met through them, Dave T. We had a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game, we went out looking for action figures, and we talked a lot of geek stuff.
Getting out of the student teaching situation certainly made things better, taking a lot of stress off me. Also, the fact that I was bringing in income and not spending it quite as fast was good. But I was still feeling aimless and worthless. And my job just kept getting more and more miserable. I started looking elsewhere and eventually found something that would turn a lot of this around.
After the miserable dark ages of the mid-90s, I was finally starting to listen to decent music again. Napster was letting me try out bands I was unfamiliar with, and I scoured it voraciously. In addition, one of the people in chizat, Matthew, was writing his own Internet radio station called “Shasradio”, which was quite clever and ahead of its time, allowing you to rate songs and then tailoring its playlist towards whoever was listening at the moment. It also pointed me towards some new stuff. I was finally starting to break back out of the stuff radio was offering me.
- Propellerheads – Bang On
- Artificial Joy Club – Cheeky Monkey
- Apollo Four Forty – Stop The Rock
- Juno Reactor – Pistolero
- Supreme Beings of Leisure – Never the Same
These were some Shasradio favorites. The bit at the beginning of “Pistolero” (“I hate robbing banks!”) was an oft-quoted and referenced line in chizat. “Cheeky Monkey” starts with one of my all-time favorite lines: “I’ll give back your pogo stick as soon as you return my wasted time.”
- Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You
- The Refreshments – Banditos
- Ashtray-Babyhead – Mir
- Joydrop – Beautiful
- Kula Shaker – Tattva
- Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag
I don’t remember where I first heard these. Possibly Shasradio. That’s going to be something that happens more often from here on out. I ended up finding Ashtray-Babyhead’s (huh?) CD used, but it wasn’t very good.
- Fountains of Wayne – Too Cool for School
This is a great song that was only available on the Scary Movie soundtrack. Thank god for Napster.
- Less Than Jake – History Of A Boring Town
- 10,000 Maniacs – The Earth Pressed Flat
Two Napster discoveries. Less Than Jake I liked the name of and downloaded quite a bit of. After Natalie Merchant left 10,000 Maniacs they continued on with a new singer, but got no attention. This song is from that period, and I quite like it.
- Stone Temple Pilots – Big Bang Baby
- Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly
- Barenaked Ladies – It’s All Been Done
- Letters to Cleo – Here and Now
- Elastica – Connection
- Nirvana – About A Girl (acoustic)
So I wasn’t completely avoiding the radio. In between “Who Let the Dogs Out”, “Blue”, and “Mambo No. 5” they occasionally played something worth listening to.
- Hepburn – I Quit
I believe this is from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack, which is largely filled with a bunch of bombastic foolishness, but then has this little gem in it. We were huge into the show during this time.
- Garbage – Push It
Garbage pretty much came and went during the time I wasn’t making mixes, but we dug them and I made sure to include them in these gap-fillers.
- Veruca Salt – Volcano Girls
The last gasp before completely fading into obscurity.
- Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground
Some of the first mp3s I got were from Kurt. I had no idea what this band or song was for a long time because, despite modern operating systems being free of their earlier limitations, he was continuing to limit filenames to eight characters, so this was “SPIMP6U.MP3”.
- Oasis – All Around The World
- Fatboy Slim – Gangster Tripping
- Cake – The Distance
- Cracker – Low
- R.E.M. – Electrolite
Again, filling in some gaps for some favorite bands. R.E.M.’s Up album was such a downer that I went back to this lovely song (though, once again, tinkling piano.) I also wasn’t crazy about Cracker’s follow up to Kerosene Hat and went with a crowd-pleaser instead.
- Chumbawamba – Tub Thumping
Like everyone else, I called these guys “Chumbawumba” for a long time. And screw you, I still like hearing this song.
- Belly – Broken
Another thing Napster was good for: B-sides! And thus Belly breathes again!
- Sleater-Kinney – God is a Number
I felt obligated to love Sleater-Kinney, since they were the alt-rock darlings at the time, and I bought The Hot Rock expecting that I would dig it. I found them grating, only able to stand this song, which is still kind of grating. Sorry, guys.
- Counting Crows – Long December
Okay, okay, let me explain. Two things: first, Matthew of Shasradio was a huge Counting Crows fan, so I heard a lot of them there. And second, I really really love the line and the delivery of “it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls.”
- Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand
This is just the dead coolest song ever recorded.
Becky and I were grocery shopping and saw the discounted bakery items marked “Yesterday’s Cakes”. We both thought this would be an excellent phrase for something that is out of date, of the past. “I used to wear a lot of black clothes, but that’s yesterday’s cakes now.” We tried to make this a thing, but it never quite took off. Still, it’s a perfect name for this mix. And I am mighty proud of the photoshoppery on the front cover.
Click on the player below to listen to this mix!
(xspf player courtesy Lacy Morrow and Fabricio Zuardi.)