All right. I seem to be back for the moment, so I’m going to try to take up some of the blogging slack that’s coiling around my ankles. Knowing me, however, it’s bound to seize around one of my ankles and… well let’s just say it might be unpleasant for someone involved.

A while ago I noted on my On and On page that my CDs are arranged by color. I also disclosed that most people’s reaction upon learning this is incredulity. It honestly doesn’t seem so strange to me. Here’s what happened (i.e. how I exhausted all other possibilities before I did what I really wanted to do in the first place):

  • By Artist: This was unsatisfactory because (a) there were too many instances when two or three artists collaborated on a recording and I didn’t want to play favorites, and (b) I also didn’t like clumping all of the “Various Artists” compilations together in a big mass (how to subdivide them was not always clear). (c) Let’s not even get started on classical CDs (Composer? Conductor? Soloist? Ensemble? Title of most prominent piece? Didn’t I say we shouldn’t even get started on this? What’s that tugging on my ankle?)
  • By Genre: Oh, this would just never fly with my amassings. There’s simply too much material that straddles genres. When does slightly ethnic turn into “world”? What do you call it when a classical/avant garde composer teaches elementary schoolkids to play free jazz? When a bluesman decides to cut up stuff, loop it, and blend it?  When Native Americans play Scottish reels? When a jazz bandleader who claims to be from Saturn produces doo wop? And where does Fleetwood Mac fit with all of this? You get the idea.
  • By Date: This approach doesn’t work for some very practical reasons. Compilations once again are a bugbear (Date of compilation? Datespan of anthologized material?), as are reissues (which sometimes have bonus material from completely different periods). Ooh, is that ropeburn?
  • By Label: Getting obscure, but this is what is borne of desparation. Anyway, arranging by label is a non-starter because (a) too many outfits are owned by or were merged with others, (b) impossible-to-keep-straight sublabels are rife, and (c) oftentimes the same recording is reissued by some other label and it’s way beyond pann-crazy to remember which version one owns.
The end of the nonstandard section, followed by whites through the mmb complex.

The end of the nonstandard section, followed by whites through the pinks.

All of this enabled me to set up my 700 to 800 CDs (I just estimated, but thicknesses vary and some are lent out to acquaintances so I really haven’t a clue how many there are) By Color. Secretly I knew all along that this would be the best method, and simultaneously the most aesthetically pleasing. Of course, nothing in this world is a simple as we’d prefer. Sometimes prefer, I should say, since often it’s very convenient for things to be complicated. Where was I? I think I need some aloe vera down here. Oh yes, nothing’s simple, right.

Before I could sort by color, some preliminary extractions were necessary. Nonstandard packaging (sleeveboxes, digipaks, slim CD-ROM-type jewel cases without distinctive hue, et al.) were all relocated to the beginning, crudely sorted first by size and then by color. The tactile trumps the visual. Since it’s a relatively small number, organization of this section isn’t critical.

Then, on to the main event. Predictably it was no Roy G. Bivical walk in the park. Nuh-uh. You see, the spines of CDs wonderfully, delightfully, horribly, do not come only in the seven standard colors (and variations thereof) to be found in the rainbow. >thump!< Ow! Good thing my derriere is perfectly padded. So, a more free-flowing approach. Whites first. Quite a lot of them, hey! Okay, white with just black type, then monocolor type, then multicolor type, with digressions along the way for colored highlights and details. Needless to say white-with-black-type is still a sizeable chunk, so weight and overall real estate of said type is taken into account within that section. I know it sounds woefully obscure, but it works. At least for my twisted brain. Is the other end tied to an anchor?

The magenta/mahogony/brown complex.

The magenta/mahogany/brown complex.

Then it’s relatively fluid, transitioning to off-whites, tans, yellows, oranges, reds, the magenta/mahogany/brown complex, purples, blues, greens, grays, greys (just testing to see how closely you’re reading), and finally on to the blacks. Black, like white, is disproportionately popular among CD package designers, so the text-related subdivisions come to the fore once again. It wraps up, Finnegans Wake-style, with a few oddities: those that are nearly half-black and half-white. riverrun.

Purples through greens

Purples through greens

Blacks, nearing the end

Blacks, nearing the end

The net result is that I can zero in on the CD I want quite rapidly since I’ve internalized the colors and, more distinctively, the general aspect of all of them. Within a matter of seconds I’m in the right neighborhood and I can usually have my fingers on the desired one with having to actually read anything. I don’t claim to be a bizarre mnemonist like that weird Russian guy, but I’m quite certain that my limit for handling this sort of information is well beyond 800 items, and much more than I would ever own anyway.


nb: You will not comment on the disgusting teal walls. You will not comment on the unfortunate and repulsive teal walls if you wish to remain healthy.

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