Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Walking down the hall at work. Think of something I need to say to Wonder Woman.

Crack the cellie. Speed-dial home is two buttons: "2" and "Send."

They beep as you press them. Number pad is an E, Send button is an A.* Completely ordinary perfect fifth, perfectly simple quarter-notes: Bink-bonk.

Nobody in his right mind would think anything more of it.

But somebody cheerfully not in his right mind, somebody whose probing thumb has played the buttons with just the right rhythmic inflection, might hear the first two notes of The Greatest Melody Ever Written, and go off down the hall singing gently to himself:

Meet the Flintstones
They're a modern stone-age fa-mi-lee...

And then completely forget what it was he wanted to tell Wonder Woman.

My cell phone is not the only thing I have this trouble with. TiVo, that masterfully designed and life-changing contraption, plays little beepy tones as you operate it. All very well -- it's often good that buttons give audible feedback as you press them, and the little melodies are quite ingeniously illustrative of the functions they invoke without being obtrusive -- imagine your computer being that feedback-intensive every time you clicked on a link in a web browser or opened a document. You'd Cheney it** in no time. But with TiVo, you don't mind.

Except when you fast forward. Let's face it -- zapping commercials is what we all crave to do, right -- the whole reason we bought the damned thing in the first place, no? Well, TiVo has invented a little punishment for the musically inclined -- perhaps the first phase of an Evil Design to prevent us from ever zipping past a commercial message again.

You can fast-forward at three speeds. The first speed, invoked with one click on the Fast-Forward button, appears to be about double real-time. This is not fast enough to satisfy the truly impatient commercial-zapper. It's the second click on the FF button that delivers the goods. Yes, you think. That's worth the extra $20 a month!

As you click the first time on the FF button, you get C-D. An interval of a major second. Two half-steps. Tinky. The second click, to the Perfect Commerce-Killing Speed, the Speed TV Executives Love to Hate, is another major second, this time D-E. Tinky. So in the hands of the experienced TiVo jockey, it becomes eighth notes, C-D, D-E, Tinky-tinky, which absolutely inevitably sets this off in the Jingo cranium:

Tinky-tinky, hello Fadder
Here I am at Camp Granada...

It's hell being me.

*I checked it in Garageband.

**Hey? You with me on this one? Huh? To Cheney something -- shoot it right in the fuckin' face! I'm a neologistic genius!


fgfdsg said...

Sweet Jeebus, how I hated that "Hello Muddah" song as a kid.

Was it the dorky inevitableness of the rhythm? Was it the plodding beat? The repetitious melody?

Or was it the fact that Australian Kids don't go to Summer Camp which meant the whole song made absolutely no sense to me?

Incidentally, they played 'cricket' instead of baseball in our version.

Matt said...

Hey Neddie, is this guy a distant cousin of yours, perhaps?

Akatabi said...

Beethoven's girlfriend: "You, Ludwig, a great composer? Ha Ha Ha HAH!"

H. Rumbold, Master Barber

caphill said...

I thought Hello Mudder (aka "Dance of the hours" from La Gioconda) began B-D-D-E. Or mi-sol-sol-la for us movable-do types.

Spread some love to our omniscient overlords: sqzafbi agent today!

XTCfan said...

Empathize with you on this one, Ned. The demon progression for me involves a ring on many of the phones where I work, where the progression is first a fourth up, then down an octave (so, for example, G-C-C), in a rhythmic pattern of quarter note-eighth-eighth.

Can you imagine what it's like to go around thinking "Byyy Mennen!" every work day?

Pretty soon, urwolg

Neddie said...

My god!!!

Xtcfan IS JACK BAUER!!!!!!

That's what makes me want to qfizzcm!

The Viscount LaCarte said...



XTCfan said...

You've blown my cover, Ned. Damn you. Those who don't know me can find out more about me here. Add me to your friends list!

Viscount ... you bastard. Next time I see you I'm going to make you listen to the new, totally atonal concerto by pvdjavhk

eggy1 said...

It's not just gadgets with musical tones, either.

Our line printer at work regularly chugs along to the exact rhythm, I kid you not, of the theme to "Green Acres."

bop bop a BE bop-
bop bop a BE bop-
bop bop a BE bop,
bop bop a BE bop,
bop bop a BE bop-


Ol' Pal D said...

No way! I have all of my wife's friends categorized by which tune goes with their number - there's the "Yankee Doodle", the "Nutcracker" (particularly apropos, actually...)!

deamx - "stop/drop/shut ’em down open up shop - perp!