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Separated at Birth?
By Roy Rivenburg
Scientists have detected an alarming
genetic similarity between Phil Spector...
and this kidnapped Bichon Frise canine:
(Editor's Note: We
interrupt this website to set the record straight about
"linguist to the stars" Michel Thomas and his bogus World
War II claims.)
What Would Jesus Drive?: Here's the column that got ripped off and
circulated all over the Internet. From Sept. 6, 2000.
Medi-California Girls: Rock oldies get
updated for aging baby-boomers. Click here.
A Politically Correct Oz: What would
happen if the classic film were made today?
A Moment of Silence for Vanishing Sounds:
From the Dec. 19, 2004, Los Angeles Times:
Back in the prehistoric 1970s, one of life's little
pleasures was the ability to slam down a telephone on
annoying callers. Now, thanks to the rise of cordless
phones, the best you can do is fiercely poke the off
button or, if money is no object, throw the
receiver into a wall.
The slamming phone, like dozens of once-familiar sounds,
is headed for extinction. As technology advances, more
and more noises the pop of flashbulbs, the gurgle
of coffee percolators, the clatter of home-movie
projectors are fading into oblivion.
While audio junkies scramble to preserve samples for
future generations, psychologists debate the consequences
of this noise exodus. Some foresee a sonic revolution
one that could launch a surprising wave of silence
and perhaps force Hollywood studios to rethink the way
they tell stories.
Inside a bombproof vault a few blocks from the White
House, Dan Sheehy is surrounded by audio ghosts: the
clicketyclack of typewriters, the tumble of glass bottles
inside a soda machine, a 1960s-era telephone ring.
Here, sonic blasts from the past are entombed in a
hodgepodge of vinyl records, compact discs and reel-to-reel
tapes. "We are a museum of sound," said Sheehy,
whose job is to preserve America's acoustic heritage for
an obscure branch of the Smithsonian Institution.
Sounds are like smells, he says. They can transport the
listener to another time and place. The buzz of an
airplane propeller sends Sheehy's mind back to hot
afternoons in 1950s Bakersfield, playing in the yard
while aircraft sputtered overhead. "The sound
immediately triggers memories of time and temperature,"
A handful of obsolete noises are so ingrained in our
consciousness that filmmakers and advertisers still use
them to evoke audience reactions. In the 2002 movie
"Undercover Brother," for instance, a
phonograph needle scraping across a vinyl record signaled
an abrupt halt to the action.
The emotional power of vintage sounds might explain the
popularity of cellphone ring tones that mimic rotary
telephone bells. "It's one of the biggest ring tones
we sell," said Tom Valentino, president of Valentino
Production Music, the nation's oldest sound-effects
warehouse. In a similar vein, slot machines that pay out
vouchers instead of cash often play a recording of
cascading coins because research found customers missed
the jackpot noise.
To keep reading, click here.
Copyright © 2000-2008 by Roy Rivenburg
E-mail: Roy [at] offkilter.org