I was about 1400 words into a big, big screed when I remembered I have a column due next week for NRO, and heck: that’s a paying gig. In the interests of making my life easier I will move the content from here to there.

It’s not like I don’t have anything else to talk about. Gloriously busy day, although cold AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT that. Shoveled an enormous amount of stuff into the newspaper; by the time the week’s done I’ll have two columns, four blogs, one video, one personal profile, and a 50 inch feature under my belt. Did a radio segment, and then -

hold on, do you hear that?

Be quiet, be still. Measure the room tone, as we say in the business. Room tone is the ambient sound of a place, the air conditioning unit, the fan, the traffic outside, and so on. If you’re shooting a scene you have to have consistent room tone. Star Trek: The Next Generation had great room tone in the sound of the engines; you never noticed it consciously, but you would have noticed it if was missing. I used to get review copies of episodes, and they hadn’t been “sweetened” with FX, so they were missing room tone. You would hear the plywood squeak as the actors walked on the bridge.

When you shoot a scene sometimes you just let the cameras run to get room tone, so you have a bed you can put down to tie all the cuts together.

Anyway, what’s your room tone? Hard for me to say at the moment, since the classical station is playing. My wife works at the kitchen table at night and has the classical station on low, which drives me crazy; I can’t not listen. It’s not background sound; it’s meant to be engaged. A few minutes ago they played Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” that strenuously dolorous episode of piercing misery, and I thought someone should arrange it for a Dixieland band and play it fast, just as a palate cleanser.

So let me turn off the radio . . .

. . . there. Room tone is the fridge, barely. Makes you wonder how many movies with a science in the kitchen have the barely-audible sound of a fridge compressor, sending a subliminal clue.

Anyway, I don’t hear anything else.

And this is remarkable.

And I know this will probably jinx it.

But: it was six, seven weeks ago I googled a word and read the Wiki entry and nodded with grim misery to see what I suspected: there is no cure for tinnitus.

“I didn’t know you had tinnitus,” you say, and that’s because I am not inclined to write about such things. It set in after a cold. It did not go away: a high eeeeeee in both ears. It was there when I went to sleep and it was there when I woke up. About three nights ago I was writing an email to - get this! - a guy I used to know from local radio with whom I had a peculiar severance of the friendship for reasons I do not understand to this day, and B) called me up while doing a national radio show to talk about my UFO sighting, and C) popped up in the gossip column of my paper the other day with a mention of his radio career ending due to tinnitus. I wanted to send him a note and connect, if only to learn what I did that cheesed him off, if anything. I was in the middle of writing the letter -

when I realized I wasn’t hearing it anymore.

And the next day it wasn’t there very much.

And the next day it wasn’t there very much.

And for the last three days it’s not there very much. If at all. It’s barely perceptible. If it stays at this level, hallelujah. If it ever worsens I will know it can abate.

I used to read about tinnitus and shudder, but I could only imagine having to live with a constant ringing in the ears. And then it happened to me, and the only choice was to way: this is how it’s going to be, then. Acceptance and acclimation - followed by abatement. My old radio friend is a Godly man, and he might well chuckle: that was a test. That was only a test. In the event of a real emergency you will be instructed where to turn.

I’m just writing this for A) people who played the game, or would like to, and B) people who don’t care a whit about games, or don’t have the time - but would like to be reasonably conversant on the subject should it come up in dinner table conversation, and someone insists they’re not art, and have a pernicious influence.

I admit the game makes me want to defend my Zeppelin against other bad Zeppelins, and stand on the bridge watching one descend through the clouds in flames. It is likely I will never have this opportunity. Given all that, though, there’s moments like this:

It’s The Prophet. Father Comstock. You know from the moment you enter the game that he’s the one you’ll meet at the end, and you know how those things usually go. But by now you’re not on a mission to put him down, you’re following his daughter who is far more incensed about things; you’re confused and uncertain, and you hang behind.

It’s a very well-written scene, because you do not know what is going to happen. You can’t control it until the moment when you do, and I won’t tell you what follows - except that I had to stop, again, and take a breath, shaken and abashed. It’s just remarkable.

I wonder if she throws me the coins so I'll see the brand on my hand: AD. I don't know what it means.I know I'll find out this weekend, when I finish the game. Don't want to leave this world, but I will. Have to. Must.



Now, this week's batch of "Couple Next Door" cues, taken - I believe - from the depthless CBS EZ Cue music library. The story takes place in Italy now, so let's see what sort of piquant cues sum up the glories of Venice.


CND Cue #407 Let's-a take off-a our shoes and stamp-a the grapes!

CND Cue #408 Uh-oh questioning music, ending in the Chord of Domestic Satisfaction, but marred by a dissenting note.

CND Cue #409 Busy-city music with horns that call back to the Jaunty theme, but it all ends in a comic pratfall.

CND Cue #410 From the disc marked "Officious Generic European Music," I guess.

Now, X-Minus 1. It's one of those shows to which I keep returning; partly because the best shows are quite good, and partly because I forget what they're about sometimes. I've listened enough to skip the annoying ones, and there are some really annoying ones. After a while the robot voices run together and the dated view of the future is alternately amusing and sad. But weren't not here for that. The music? It's all over the place.

(I'm starting at #02 because there was one last week.)


X-Minus 1 Cue #02 The cue that signaled the start of the story: perfect for 50s sci-fi. To infinity and beyond! With trepidations!

X-Minus 1 Cue #03 This is it! Spaceflight! Now everyone in the orchestra go up one octave, and act like it’s thrilling to play a scale.

X-Minus 1 Cue #04 I volunteer. If only you heard this at the office when you said you’d do something. For some reason this makes me think of a Gerry Anderson TV show, or a movie where the credits say it was shot at Pinewood in 1967.

X-Minus 1 Cue #05 I’ll do it. Also good for the office.

X-Minus 1 Cue #06 It’s like an excerpt from a lost late-Romantic Russian symphony, except it goes full John Barry at the end.

X-Minus 1 Cue #07 Everything unpleasant about modern classical music, right here.

X-Minus 1 Cue #08 And it’d better be good. Again, office life would be more interesting with these music cues.

X-Minus 1 Cue #09 Apt for Star Wars, perhaps - stormtroopers marching over a desert planet.

Many more to come: I have dozens.



More happy United Way, with a different spotlight cause. Juvies!


United Way. 1959. Something has to be done.




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