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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Voce del Bambino

It's so hard to find the middle ground sometimes, don't you think?

Life's topography is just so unpredictable and in such a constant state of flux, you can really addle your brain searching for moderation, striving for consistency, and aiming for the center often just lands you quite off target.

There are times where I feel like I take life far too seriously-- I worry constantly about my job performance, for instance, and whether or not there will be enough money to sustain and support eventual procreation and child-rearing. I fret about relationships and ethics and logistics that, in the end, probably won't matter all that much. It's a good thing I don't bite my nails because, by now, I'd probably only have gnarled knuckles left.

Then there are times where I feel guilty because I don't take life seriously enough. I often make light of serious issues, the plight of my fellow man is oftentimes amusing to me-- and not even in a schadenfreude kind of way like enjoying YouTube clips of people falling into rivers or tumbling down flights of stairs-- but the petty melodramas that seem to envelop people I know or with whom I associate are often comical to me.

And I laugh. Verily, I do laugh.

Sometimes, if my mood is approaching serious, I'll feel guilty for laughing. Other times, I don't give a shit, and I'll just laugh because, damnit, it feels good, like peeing in the shower.

(NB: I say this, but I don't actually know if that feels good or not. I suppose there's really no reason to think it wouldn't feel good. Interestingly enough, peeing in the shower is a pretty hot topic at work, and seems to be discussed with disquieting regularity. I have at least four coworkers who have openly admitted to urinating in their showers. I suppose, one day, I'll try it, out of just plain curiosity and/or the eventual gerontological incontinence.)

Yesterday morning, I was listening to NPR on my way to work, as I often do, more out of habit than out of a desire to stay informed about the often esoteric and far-removed events of the globe and its insipid inhabitants. As I mentioned on Facebook in a moment of pure drollery, it's amazing that I can listen to the news on the radio for a full hour and, at the conclusion of that hour, still have no idea what the hell is going on in the world.

But, I listen, because I think I ought to listen.

So, yesterday, I was listening to Morning Edition, because I'm white and wear glasses and drive a Scandinavian sedan and have a job where I get health benefits, and a particular story struck my ear in a very discordant and unfamiliar way. It was a story by reporter Kelly McEvers, about Bahrain detaining a physician who administered aid to protestors. McEvers described the circumstances surrounding the detention of the doctor, and then proceeded to introduce audio recordings of an interview done with one of the doctor's female relatives. McEvers explained, "We've altered her voice so authorities won't recognize her."

Which is good that she mentioned that, otherwise I would have thought this woman was a card-carrying member of the Lollipop Guild.

Honest to God, they made her voice sound like Alvin and the goddamned Chipmunks. It was ridiculous. It was Monty Python. It was... fucking hysterical. Of course, what she was saying wasn't hysterical at all-- it wasn't even mildly funny, like in an ABC sitcom sort of way-- it was very serious, in fact. For instance, she said,

"The guy who took him said just you can just wait outside. And then they waited for a very long time."

I mean, that's not even grammatically correct. It's not funny at all. It sounds like poorly-translated dialogue from "Dinner with André".

And yet, try to imagine it said in a voice that sounds like a three-year-old who's been sucking down helium for the past five minutes, and you'll be rolling around on the floor with your pancreas about to burst. Honestly, there were fucking tears streaming down my cheeks. And they kept quoting her, and it got even funnier. I was begging McEvers to stop, but she couldn't hear me. Because she was on the radio. With the helium woman.

It just goes to show you that even a vaunted news organization like NPR makes poor choices and/or outright mistakes. Like in their article announcing the death of Jack Kevorkian, where they talk about the first assisted suicide he ever performed:

"That's when Janet Adkins climbed into the back of his VW van in a suburban Detroit park, laid down and waited as Kevorkian put a needle into her arm."

An unbelievably pedantic and uncommonly helpful reader named Lili Fuller replied with a comment, writing:

"Within the text of this story, the writer has confused the past tense of lay and lie. Janet Adkins lay down, she didn't put anything down. Please, NPR, ask your reporters to pay attention to their usage. After all, your listeners expect you to perform to a higher standard than the rest of the media."

And if you think Lili Fuller is a stitch, just think about her saying that fucking annoying shit with her voice altered to sound like a baby.

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