austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Where the air is rarefied

At a CD store which surprisingly had nearly just CDs, and only a very small DVD section, I heard something new and distressing. The audio system played Frank Sinatra singing ``Come Fly With Me,'' which was fine. But where the music should hold a note for a while, they had fractional or one-second blips ahead, getting quickly to the next bit of singing. I can't imagine what would possess a person, or even a corporation, to make such an editing of a song like that. The held notes and the vocal silence are not wasted time; only the sort of fool who doesn't appreciate the value of white space -- granted, there's altogether too many of them in the world -- would want them removed. Sinatra's great singing, yes, but it's better in the context of the band playing.

But maybe this isn't the vanguard of yet another assault on aesthetic dignity. It could be just that someone was fiddling with the remote and skipping sections, and they just happened to keep hitting at the instrumental pieces. Supporting this ``maniac with the remote control'' theory is that about a half minute before the scheduled end of the song it switched abruptly over to another big band piece (I forget which), and after a few more seconds switched to Andy Williams's ``Music to Watch Girls By'', for a good twenty seconds before jumping to something else, and I moved on to the street.

Trivia: The Gemini Digital Computer required twenty seconds after the power was turned on to run its start-up diagnostics. It was generally turned off to save power except for orbital maneuvers. Source: Computers in Spaceflight: The NASA Experience, James E Tomayko. NASA Contractor Report 182505. (Who, I'm sad to say, passed away recently, according to a posting of a Carnegie-Mellon University news bulletin.)

Currently Reading: What If? Richard A Lupoff, Editor. Stories of the 1950s that could have won the Hugo, but happened to come out a year Hugos weren't awarded, or which lost to another story or such. Includes Damon Knight's ``Four In One'', which everybody likes but is never anthologized, and Shirley Jackson's ``One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts'', which I think everyone assumes had won a Hugo. Plus Philip Klass's ``Firewater!'', one of nearly four science fiction stories featuring a businessman who isn't the villain, the target for that Evils of Madison Avenue fetish they had in the 50s, or just in this making-money game as a way to fund building spaceships.


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