Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 27, 2013

Repetition is expected each morning, but diversity in music would be nice

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Sometimes I feel like Bill Murray’s fictional character Phil Conners in the 1993 motion picture “Groundhog Day.” That’s because each morning — at about the same time — on the drive into work the same song is playing on the local radio station. For some reason, the green Jeep Cherokee is only capable of picking up one FM radio channel — and the archaic cassette player in the vehicle doesn’t work. Neither does the DVD player in my other vehicle, the red Jeep. So my radio listening options are limited each morning on the drive into work.

The song in question is called “This Girl is on Fire,” by Alicia Keys. Maybe it’s just me, but the local radio station seems to be playing this same song at the same time every morning. Why is the girl on fire? It’s a strange song. The first time I heard it I assumed it was a part of the official soundtrack from last year’s motion picture “The Hunger Games,” or perhaps for the upcoming “Hunger Games” sequel, appropriately subtitled “Catching Fire.” Of course in the first movie the heroine Katniss was the “girl on fire,” or at least the girl wearing the dress that looked like it was on fire when she twirled around in hopes of impressing the masses, and earning sponsors before entering the futurist blood sport game that made Arnold Schwarzengger’s 1987 “The Running Man” look silly by comparison.

But after checking with Lifestyles Editor Jamie Parsell, I was informed there is no connection between the movie and the song. But I think the song in question certainly would have worked with the movie, which I might add I actually watched and somewhat enjoyed.

Some have compared “The Hunger Games” to the “Twilight” movies, but I only saw one real similarity between the two. They both had similar — and odd — endings. I never was able to get past the ending of the first “Twilight” movie. If you haven’t seen the original “Twilight,” you may want to pause here, as a spoiler is approaching. The movie ends with an attractive woman walking down a long set of steps with some wild movie music playing in the background. And that was it. The credits then roll. I was very confused by this anti-climactic ending. But the same thing actually happens at the end of “The Hunger Games,” although the situation is reversed. It ends with Donald Sutherland’s character, President Coriolanus Snow, walking up a large set of stairs with some strange music playing. And then the credits roll. Walking up and down a set a stairs is not a good way to end a movie.

Back to the whole daily repetition thing. I’m hoping the local radio station will find a new song to start playing in the 8:40 to 8:50 a.m. range. Because a little diversity is a good thing. And a new song every now and then would be welcomed for those of us with radios, cassette players and DVD players in our vehicles that don’t work correctly.

However, repetition is inevitably a part of the daily morning routine. First the alarm clock goes off. Then you hit the snooze button. Then it goes off again a few minutes later — and you finally force yourself out of bed. Then I turn the television on — usually to the “Today Show” — a bad habit considering its focus on fluff and not actual news. I know I have to go outside to get the real news.

I’m a bit of an old-school type of guy, so I walk down the road each morning to get my copy of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph out of the paper box. Sure I could just read it online, but old habits are hard to break. But before I do that, I normally have to let the cat out of the garage. He’s usually meowing as loud as he can by the time he hears me walking down the steps. Otherwise, if the cat is outside, he will make a mad dash inside and up the steps the minute I open the door to walk outside and get the newspaper. Then I have to walk back upstairs, pick him up, and carry him back outside. Pets can be quite a challenge — especially when you were not planning to adopt an animal to begin with. In my case, the cat decided he was going to move in with me. It seems I had no say in the matter.

From that point on it is a race against the clock to eat, take a shower, get dressed and be ready in time for work. That’s why I depend upon the local radio station to provide a little diversity each morning on the commute — as the morning routine is otherwise somewhat repetitive. A new song or two would be great. Maybe they could even play something from the 1980s or the 1990s. That would be different, and appreciated.

Or perhaps it is simply time to break down and buy a new CD player for the vehicle. The cassette player, after all, seems just a little out of place for the year 2013. I had to travel down to Blacksburg, Va., several weeks ago to actually find some old music cassettes that I thought I would be able to use in the cassette player. But after finding a wide selection  of old tapes in downtown Blacksburg, Va.., I then realized that the cassette player in the vehicle didn’t actually work.

I guess if all else fails I can turn the radio back on — but I hope a new song will be playing.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.