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The Essay
Show #87
In the Quemby Building
David Gunn
At first blush, the invention of barbed wire one and a quarter centuries ago would seem to have as much in common with Gastone Sarducciís serialphonic compositional technique as the lefthand flipper on a 1964 Leather Warrior pinball machine stored in the basement of the Quemby Building in Zacatecas, Mexico had on the devastating implosion of an uncharted binary star system in the far reaches of the only parallel universe known to man. Which is to say, rather a lot, really. When Illinois farmer Joseph Glidden married -- for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for at least an upper middle class income -- jagged bits of metal to a wire strand, he hadnít in mind to hasten the development of the American prairie by providing cheap fencing to protect crops of risotto and confine herds of cuttlefish. Rather, he had woven his design into a size 46-long robe which he thought would deter bees from alighting on him while he gathered honey from their hives on the banks of the Mesopotamian River. He hoped that his cloak of stingers, as he called it, would fool the bees into thinking that he was one of them, albeit one with lips fifteen hundred times bigger than theirs. For a while, the prickly charade worked. As he collected buckets by the honeyful, the bees sniffed and buzzed, but otherwise ignored him. Buoyed by his success, he relaxed and hummed the 14-tone row which forms the basis for the serialphonic technique devised by his composer friend, Gastone Sarducci. This got the beesí attention, big time. Responding to Josephís unwitting sudden output of exciting pheromones, they, along with representatives from several neighboring hives, engulfed him. Summoning remarkable apiarian powers, they lifted and carted him to a secret bee hide-out, whence he was never seen again.

And what of the pinball flipper/imploding star correlation? Last November, Quemby Disintegration Systems, a secretive computer applications company with convoluted ties to the Labrador Legerdemain League, placed on display in their southern Mexico headquarters a thought-to-be-extinct 1964 Leather Warrior pinball machine and invited local residents, visiting tourists, aliens -- both illegal and extraterrestrial -- and anyone else to test their skills. Whoever could ring the 100,000-point bell would win fabulous prizes. Scores of pinball wizard wanna-bes tried their darndest, and scores failed. But then a tiny, wrinkled man who seemed to drift in and out of focus, took his place at the pinball console. A crowd of onlookers paid him little heed as he launched the first ball and it caromed off the 1,000-point post straight into the exit tray. When he banged away the next three balls in quick succession and each traveled the minimum distance and tallied unimpressive point totals, they turned away and gave their attention to a scorpion ballet troupe which a peasant had taught to dance the fandango. The shriveled little man launched his last ball with a fervor best left to the imagination. Glancing off of the 500- point pole, the ball was catapulted to the top of the game field, hit the dreaded dead zone, and dropped like an albatross. As the small silvery ball roared towards the exit chute, a nearby wrinkle in the space-time continuum suddenly tilted the pinball machine 0.2 degrees to starboard, altering the ballís destiny. It caromed off the 2,000-point bell, then made a slow, serene descent into the area guarded by the lower left pinball flipper, the Atom Hammer. The man, his jaw set like a table for a dozen hearty trenchermen, waited, waited, then punched the lever harder than wranglers punch cows. The flipper did not disappoint. With a mighty crack, it sent the ball streaking towards the 100,000 point Instant Winner! slot. But mere nanoseconds later, the space-time continuum wrinkled again, this time causing an Algonquin Hole to materialize precisely where the Instant Winner! slot had been. "Poof!" went the silver ball, as it vanished into the sudden void. And then, as the ball was converted to energy in a scale analogous to the lips of Mr. Glidden compared to those of a bee, the earth convulsed, feeling the effects of the ball crashing into and utterly destroying the binary star system in the parallel universe, as transdimensionally projected through the collapsing Algonquin Hole.

That equation again: barbed wire is to serialphonic composition as a 1964 pinball flipper is to an imploding star, not to be confused with le flambeau oriange.

So you see, everything everywhere interconnects -- at least it usually does on Kalvos & Damianís New Music Bazaar, this 87th episode of which is valiantly staving off all disturbances in the space-time continuum which could lessen the gratification which you, our listening audient, may derive from this radiophonic broadcast. The only pleasure that I get out of all of this is still to be determined, one determining factor of which is valiantly now assuming the continuing role of Kalvos.