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The Essay
Show #303
Bomb Grants
David Gunn

Pity the poor arts administrator! Ever since the new compassionlessly conservative federal administration has assumed disposition of the G and purse strings of the performing arts, funding for many programs, notably including commissions for new music compositions, has been sharply curtailed, making his already difficult job even difficulter. Gone are the easy-to-understand big print forms that required little more than a basic project idea, estimated time to completion, and denominations of currency required. In their place are confusing applications and questionnaires, whose pages often number in the hundreds, that require background checks and cultural profiling on affiliate musicians. Even more ominous are the numerous types of compositions that are specifically excluded from funding projects. Employing the philosophy that traditional methods of technique and structure no longer work -- the well is dry; all of the ideas that use them have been exhausted -- the Bureau of Fiscal Management of Music has disallowed funding opportunities to the following compositional methodologies: counterpoint, serialism, stochasticism, algorithmic rebuses, diphosphate harmonics, octotonality, asymmetric recontextualization, microtonality, macrotonality, macareñality, modal revival annoyance, polyp-chromaticism, canon fodder, music concrete and other building materials, rhythmocynicism, theme and variable-rate mortgages, frequency degeneration, sonata-allegory form, determinate aleatory, monopolyphony, acoustoelectrics, song-sneeze, hanging argumentative chords upside down over a vat of hot wax lips until they cry uncle, plus a host of others in the nether regions of the alphabet still awaiting discovery.

That said, one wily grant writer, who naturally requests anonymity, has, through the use of deceit and chicanery, managed to slip his projects under the Bureau’s radar screen. By applying for funds from the National Weapons of Mass Destruction Endowment and inserting the word "bomb" in the project name, he has received large piles of no-strings-attached money. Three examples:

Fish Bomb. Place a barracuda with a chronic case of hiccups into a transparent ShopVac® canister with 10 gallons of marine water. Turn on ShopVac® to low. As the water aerates, tap lightly on the canister with a drumstick. The thoroughly peeved fish will respond by thwacking its dorsal fin against the side of the canister, but its hiccups will cause unusual spasms in the cadence. Statistical analysis of the consequent rhythm can provide a basis for syncopated meters not normally found on Earth. May be used to confuse enemy surveillance mechanisms, or as rhythmic accompaniment for a synchronized chainsaw marching drill team.

Cray-Bomb. Procure from the Belize Larva Shoppe in Belmopan a Mayan Inchworm Potpie and place it atop the heat sink of a Cray Supercomputer. If the ingredients are truly fresh and not frozen, a keening of indeterminate pitch will result once the temperature of the pie registers 130 degrees. The Cray will respond to the wailing by attempting to harmonize in binary. Effective in jamming enemy wiretaps.

StatiCat Bomb. Lather the fur of a domestic long-haired cat's back with a venison roux. Now vigorously rub the cat's fur until a static electrical charge forms. Hold a mohair carpet runner six inches above the cat's back. As static electricity causes the cat hair to rise, replace the carpet with a sheet of typing paper. As the cat attempts to stroll off, its fur will rub against the paper, leaving behind streaks, blots and spots. Allow this paper to be pilfered by known enemy agents. To further confound the "other side," place the sheet of paper in front of a musician conversant in avant-garde performance procedures at the next ambassadorial soiree. Further entertainment at said soiree may be provided by filling a three-quarter scale papier-mâché cow or other ventriloquistic animal piñata with a mixture of candy corn syrup and fire ants. Attach to it a voice-activated whacking mechanism and hang both over the performing venue of the glee club. When the irate, sticky ants hit their marks, the resultant improvisatory choral shouting will provide the basis for a rich vocal composition.

In turn, we hope this 303rd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar also hits its mark, which is currently valued at 0.79 U.S. dollars on the Düsseldorfian Monetary Scale, and that you , our listening audient, will in turn hit the PayPal button on the appropriate website and dispatch your unwanted marks to Kalvos.