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The Essay
Show #212
Easy To Play
David Gunn

Recently, two news items from wholly different sources caught my eye, that spot just behind the Zonule of Zinn to the left of my latissimus dorsi and, much as I tried not to, I was destined to draw a connection between them. The first originated in the classifieds section of a monthly municipal magazine from Texas. It said "Wanted: Clerk for the Village of Bee Cave (pop. 241), position open until filled, call so-and-so for application and job description." I read it twice before the neural net that keeps me from swallowing my Adam's apple linked the ad to a long sublimated memory. Bee Cave, of course! -- the tiny Texas tank town where the U.S. Army had relocated several hundred refugees from Roswell, New Mexico in 1957. A few neurons jumped a memory gap and I further recalled that the refugees were alien to the community in the best sense of the word. They were distant half-cousins of an intelligent ant-like race of extraterrestrials for whom the Department of Defense had had to create housing when it accidentally destroyed their spacecraft, as reported in this very forum last year. When scientists later examined the wreckage, they discovered an advanced astro-hydrodynamic technology that led to the invention of the water pik. But that wasn't all they found. Stowed away in stasis cocoons that comprised the very fabric of the craft's walls were 300 bee-like creatures which, when awakened, proved to have complex senses of taste and humor. But they didn't acclimate well to the south New Mexico climate -- there was nothing funny about the local ambulatory Venus fly traps that preyed upon them -- so they were bussed to Bee Cave, a federal witness protection program district 15 miles west of Austin, Texas. There, they gradually integrated into the community.

The second item was an e-mail originally from France via the University at Normal, Illinois. It was a call for compositional scores no more than ten seconds in length from a music ensemble that hoped to play 2,000 of them in the year 2000. The group, Ensemble Decadanse, whose coincidental anagram is Dada Scene, further stipulated that the tunes be "easy to play." It was then that my neural net snagged another memory tendril from amongst the dozens of argumentative dendrites and axons, and "easy to play" anagrammatized into "yeasty opal," the Benjamin Moore latex paint color used on the Bee Cave bee house interiors. Suddenly, a multitude of maddening melodies sliced through my head like a buzzsaw through split cannabis soup and I pictured ensemble members decked out in yellow and black striped costumes like those popularized by John Belushi and his Saturday Night Live cohorts in the late 1970s. The music that swirled from their instruments seemed easy enough to both listen to and to play, as it sometimes constituted a single note, but the incessant buzzing that accompanied their performing nagged like a pedophile in a nursery school. The pieces were short enough to begin with -- each under ten seconds in length, as stipulated in the solicitation -- but each time the group repeated a piece, it played precisely half of it. By the eighth or ninth reading, the length of some tunes constituted negative integers, in essence borrowing time from prior or future performances. The pieces appeared to be over before they were begun, even though some memory of them lingered in the minds of the audients. Ensemble members, too, began to diminish in size until they resembled dada caricatures of the Bee Cave refugees. Their musical instruments, however, refused to shrink, and soon were too large for the Lilliputed ensemble to play. Fortunately, for lack of a better, word, the Research Junta of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar has appropriated those very instruments from the ensemble and will feature them today as a tribute to Bee Cave, Decadanse and the absence of a scheduled guest on this 212th episode. And what does "easy to play" instantly suggest? Could it be Kalvos?