Funny Story

By JoCo October 10, 2008

A couple of times since I put out those Thing a Week CDs I’ve gotten emails from people asking me why Code Monkey is in mono. Usually I was all “Huh?” and then sometime later would kind of forget about it. It’s not in mono, it can’t be in mono, why would it be in mono?

Well guess what? Code Monkey is in mono. I just noticed that the track I delivered to the CD production place way back when is about half as big as it should be BECAUSE IT IS IN MONO.

Nevermind that I didn’t notice at the time, nevermind that I didn’t even bother to check when people told me over these last couple of years. What’s amazing to me is that it hasn’t really mattered in any significant way. I’m sure I sweated like crazy over the stereo placement of this or that element during the mixing process, and then I just plastered over all those details with stucco, and turns out nobody really cares. Not even me, apparently. This is a lesson that I learned (or rather, failed to learn) many times over the course of Thing a Week: that thing you’ve been working on forever, buffing and polishing to get to that last 2% of excellence? It’s done. Finish it and move on. Hey, at least it’s not in mono, right? Because that would be a huge disaster with serious consequences.

And so you know, this error will be corrected in the forthcoming greatest hits CD “JoCo Looks Back” that’s being manufactured even as we speak.


Dan says

An even funnier story. (Or perhaps equally funny. Or maybe not even funny at all. I'm not a good judge of these things.):

This post emerged in my Google Reader at the exact same time my iTunes random playlist threw forth 'Code Monkey' to listen to.

And, of course, I read that it was in mono and immediately stopped playing, then deleted not just it, but every single piece of music of yours I own, such was my fury at your revelation.

Harsh, but fair, I'm sure you'll agree.

Sean says

Hahah, that's freaking awesome. I notice every engineering mistake I've made when I listen to a song. So much so that I find it hard to listen to, which puts me in a pickle because I'm so conceited and love listening to myself.

Nicolas Ward says

Given that "mono" is the Spanish word for "monkey", you should claim that this was entirely intentional, and congratulate all of the people who pointed this out to you over the years for finding your pun on mixing channels embedded in the song as distributed.

elliomeg says


Ironic, intentional or freudian slip that this post appears to have been added to the blog on Sept 19th, but was acually posted on Oct 13th...

(or maybe it's just the damned robots again?)

Joseph Devon says

The annoying thing is if you stop worrying like crazy about that 2% that you'll never lock down then you can slip into mediocrity.
And Ellio is right...why is it September again?

MitchO says

Arrr, JoCo be thinkin' back wistfully ta Talk Like a Pirate Day. This seadog suspects a connection with those hearty mates Paul and Storm's recent poll callin' fer a new holiday.

M_pony says

Heehee, oopsie! Nice to hear there's a 'hits' package coming already... you know.. for kids!

Kilted Dad says

You're just like Lucas, aren't you. This is all just to get us to buy the "Special Edition" of Code Monkey, with your fancy "Stereo". Next you'll have the receptionist shoot first. CODE MONKEY SHOT FIRST!

You better play Code Monkey in its original mono format when you're in Seattle in January, Joco, you're on notice.

Rob (not the boring manager one) says

Woot! A best of JoCo CD!!! Does this mean everything you've recorded, because really, you are the best. (does this sound to much like sucking up?)

Paul R. Potts says

Wow, you know that is also a "shame on me" moment. I pride myself on having pretty well-trained ears, I hear all kinds of details in mixes, can tell the difference between types of guitars and types of reverb and types of microphones and types of compression. I obsess about these things on my own recordings -- tweak, and tweak, and change plug-ins, and touch up tracks endlessly and re-export to fix a minor problem that no one has noticed but me.

And I've listened to that track many times. On headphones. And never noticed anything even remotely amiss. Some aspiring audio engineer I am!

AverageJon says

Does this mean that the original CDs are (like the stamps with the airplane upside down) suddenly worth a lot more?

Larry Fire says

Can you please share what tracks will be on the CD, when it will be released and how to order it?

Andrew says

Gosh give the man a break. He made a mistake and that track was released in mono. I'm surprised some people seem to be criticizing this, at least he admitted it. I looking at you Joseph Devon and Kilted Dad

Mark says

I think the greatest hits was a joke guys.

Lito says

Another funny thing is that the karaoke track for Code Monkey is in stereo.

Scott says

Your monkey has mono?

Russ Rogers says

Phil Spector thought Mono was better than Stereo. And most people won't notice the difference. And a half decent mono experience is better than a half decent stereo experience. I say release "JoCo Looks Back" in both Stereophonic and Glorious Mono! What would it cost? And there are some collectors complete-ists who would buy both!

MitchO says

The greatest hits is not a joke. Jonathan has mentioned in several interviews now that he's looking to parse down all the songs into a "primer"/"greatest hits" CD for folks. Would explain why he's poking around at older song files like Code Monkey.

hugh says

The track from the TAW feed is Stereo. The guitar is slightly to the left, cymbals slightly right.

sevinPackage says

I'm sure the concert video will be in stereo... I wonder how many great quotes JoCo got from the cameras in the audience... Maybe some could be included in the liner notes or the credits, just for fun. Don't let the video consume you, JoCo!

manstraw says

Russ Rogers, I agree as the article states that mono may be better for a live venue. I would say that it's easier to get right. But for a CD, stereo offers a landscape of pleasuring unparalleled by a mono recording. Yes, I said pleasuring!

Bob says

Even worse, "Skullcrusher Mountain" was recorded in Dobly.

Zach says

An official best of? Well, crud. Now my 'best of' mix tape will be moot. I was gonna submit the tracklist to you as a suggestion for if you ever did a comp, actually.

Know what? Screw it, I'll tell you what I've been using for mine anyway.

01 - The Future Soon
02 - Shop Vac
03 - Big Bad World One
04 - I'm Your Moon
05 - Furry Old Lobster
06 - Skullcrusher Mountain
07 - Mandelbrot Set
08 - I Feel Fantastic
09 - A Talk with George
10 - First of May
11 - I Crush Everything
12 - Baby Got Back
13 - That Spells DNA
14 - IKEA
15 - Code Monkey
16 - Drinking with You
17 - Re: Your Brains
18 - Kenesaw Mountain Landis
19 - You Ruined Everything [acoustic version from the Second Life concert]
20 - Creepy Doll
21 - When You Go
22 - Still Alive

I know you've probably already picked your tracklist, but maybe if you haven't you could consider something like this.

Note: I didn't include "Tom Cruise Crazy" because it's too dated and topical, and I skipped "Flikr" because it doesn't work that well for me without the slideshow, though making it a video bonus track on the best of would be awesome.

Jack F says

Even though it's easy enough for any of us to put together a track list, I still can't wait to see the "official" list. Now admit it. How many of you are going to immediately burn a mix CD with JoCo's list once it's known?

(Well, I mean admit it to yourself. No answers needed here.)

Percephene says

JoCo Greatest Hits will be awesome! Might have to fork out for the shipping to NZ for that one!

Strange that I read this today when last night I had a weird dream where Paul & Storm were podcasting in the dark with candles on their heads like kobolds til JoCo and I came in and snuffed their candles out before announcing our new knitted Thing a Week series. O_o

No more special brownies before bed for me!

garagespin says

Ha! Thanks for sharing, Jonathan...too funny. Pretty eye-opening too...I've been wasting way too much time on miniscule production cr#p with my own songs. It's time to move ON.

A. Lee says

As you once wisely said to Hodgman:

"Time + Hash = Crust."

Jim says

I'm not surprised to see you hadn't thought it through enough.

Andrew says

Maybe manager wanna mix goddamn final track himself.

SheeEttin says

Hmm. I never would've noticed.
I usually just have the left half of my headphones on so I can hear other things and shift the audio balance so both channels come through the left.
Even so, I don't particularly care for hearing (e.g.) one instrument in one ear and another in my other. (Effects like an instrument moving around between channels doesn't bother me. In fact, that I like.)

Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) says

The old saying goes, "the perfect is the enemy of the done". Case in point.

Andrew says

Will you be selling the stereo version online? CDs are so pre-2K.

IamTooch says

Please leave it in mono. If it was good enough for the Beatles, it's good enough for you.

Besides, it sounds pretty awesome the way it is. I always thought, listening to it, that the production I heard was "compressed" and was meant to emulate sixties AM radio. You know a "hit" as played by Cousin Brucie on "77-WABC." Well yeah: there was a good reason it reminded me of AM!

Paul R. Potts says

The stereo mix sounds better! And that's saying something!