Jan 17, 2013

About Pluking Time

(posted by killre)

Somewhere, tucked snugly into a compact plastic case that probably has a broken hinge and might not even be the original, which itself is stacked haphazardly inside a slightly squashed shoe box, which in turn is packed inside a large cardboard box that had one of its lid-flaps torn away long ago (the other flap is mislabeled in faded black marker, and partly in cursive, which from what I gather is now akin to being mislabeled partly in cuneiform), which itself is--

Never mind.  You get the idea.

Somewhere, I have a cassette copy of a partially reconstructed, forty-minute (or so) excerpt from a Boston-based Top 40 radio show from 1961.  Back then, Top 40 was broadcast on the AM spectrum, which apparently meant the disc jockey had to shout into the microphone as if he was addressing his listeners through a third-story window.

The biggest telltale that the show has been reconstructed?  At one point the d.j., Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsberg (woo-woo, sound effect, for you-you), introduces another solid-gold blast from the past over the intro to the Playmates' "Beep Beep," a song which had been popular in the ancient era of three years prior.  Just as Ginsberg hits the post (if I may use the parlance of his profession), the reconstructing bozo splices in, with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer, a NOT EVEN ORIGINAL RECORDING of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."  For a radio aficionado like me, it's a little like finding out there's going to be a Three Stooges episode on in five minutes and then, five and a half minutes later, finding out it's one of the ones with Shemp.

So, anyway...
At another point on the tape, Ginsberg yells at his New England audience, "1961 is the only year in this century that you can write upside-down, and it'll read the same... and if ya wanna do it again, you've gotta wait until 6000 and 9."

I mention the above to throw into proper context my congratulations to you on surviving last month's "Mayan Apocalypse," the tag the media insisted we attach to the date which commemorated the auspicious event of one Mayan calendar maker turning to another and saying with a shrug, "That's as good a place to stop as any, don't you think?"

I know, topical as all get out.  As long as I'm airing make-goods, though...

Like a bad boyfriend or a mediocre husband, I let another date on the calendar slip by recently with nary a comment.  Our anniversary.  It was on January 6, 2006 that this site officially launched.  Seven years.  In some ways, it's a shame we didn't agree on an Official Dirty Word of the Year, to be changed every January 6th.  You know... for continuity.  It helps to have a theme.

On the other hand, it's probably for the best we didn't do that.  Since we are now into Year Eight, we'd have had to search far and wide to find a vulgarity that doesn't have the virtue of being restricted by the Federal Communications Commission-- yet.  Also, with George Carlin dead, we might actually have had to dream one up ourselves!  That would have meant committee meetings, endless votes, resentful infighting and no doubt some sort of back room deal.  Ultimately, we'd have grudgingly agreed to use the word Frank Zappa suggested on his album Joe's Garage... pluking.  After all it has a P in it, so it's funny.  Then we would have tabled next year's Official Dirty Word discussion until January 5, 2014.

On to other business.  You wouldn't know it by looking (unless you looked very carefully), but for most of the past seven years and change, this site has had four contributing editors, simultaneously.  (At least that many.  There may even be one or two I don't know about.)  As to why two of the others flew the coop and left Cap'n to do all the work, I couldn't say.  I could tell you why I took an extended sabbatical, but the whole sorry saga would bore you.  I will say that I spent the better part of a fortnight in late November 2008 living in a cave (in a place, somewhat ironically, named Maverick Canyon) meditating upon the precise denotational and connotational differences between the words historic, historical and histrionic.

Several things drove me to these contemplations.
One:  In California's Cajon Pass, there is a small highway sign which reads, "Historic Route 66 Next Exit."  Half a mile on, another reads, "Historical Route 66 Next Right."  Technically, both signs are as accurate as a road sign in California gets (which isn't saying much), but why are there two of them and why are they different?  My conclusion:  It is a manifestation of (a) a bureaucratic compromise, (b) idiocy in mid-level civil service or (c) both.

Two:  In the wake of Barack Obama's election to the presidency, none of TV's talking heads seemed able to agree whether it was historic or historical.  While the two words are obviously related, they are not precisely interchangeable.  Use of the word historical in that context is an example of either (a) a smug commentator knowingly undercutting Obama's achievement or (b) idiocy in mid-level journalism.

Three:  I think that four-foot-tall, bipedal, talking orange salamander with the green mottling and the crazy eyes may have been bi-polar, too.

Oh, did I not mention the wild mushrooms growing in that cave?  My bad.

P.S.... Bud "Shemp" Selig must go.


Tod Stiles said...

Route 66 had many realignments in it's history. I'm sure that stretch you mentioned is no exception.

Killre said...

Your point is a fair and accurate one as far as it goes.

Please allow me to clarify: The two signs both lead to the same stretch of the old road.