Wednesday, April 06, 2016


The Bose computer speakers I saved up for came today.  I could have gotten them yesterday except that Amazon is growing so quickly that they redesign their delivery systems to keep up, but since the managers of such things are urban and grew up urban, they constantly make assumptions that interfere and malfunction in rural places, even small towns like Valier.  So the internet message that I got late last night saying that my speakers couldn’t be delivered yesterday because I wasn't home really meant that they’d left everything at the post office instead of going door-to-door.  This has taken me a while to figure out.  

The advantage of ordering on the Internet when one lives on the high prairie is countered by the blunders of such aspects as delivery.  People who work con games like having a PO Box instead of a physical address causes businesses to make an arbitrary rule against PO Boxes even if the physical address only matters if someone delivers there.  But I DID get my speakers.

Ray and Polly Stark recently did a review of a half-dozen computer speakers, Bose among them, and didn’t choose the one I’d already ordered, but that’s okay.  Their standards (and ears) are far beyond mine.  One of my classmates served a fancy UU church in Texas where the members were rollin’ in dough.  One of them gave him a desktop Bose for his office which made me extremely jealous; he said it really was as good as advertised.  It does sound good.

Rev. Davidson Loehr

Now I’m listening to  "Tannhauser"at the moment.  I have to stop typing to listen now and then.  I’ll be curious to hear the sound tracks for some of my streaming films, but not so eager to hear those of my favorite dark northern European mystery shows with mostly industrial sounds — humming, faint squealing, rhythms from strange sources, clicking of gears — very effective tension-builders.  When the police sirens signal arriving reinforcements, they almost sound cheerful.  “Hinterland”, “Happy Valley”, “Crossing Lines”, “Broadchurch”  I don’t like silliness.  I can barely tolerate “NCIS”.  (If “DeNozo” gets fatally wounded, I won’t grieve.)  Maybe I should rewatch the “Morse” series, just for the sake of the sound track by Barrington Pheloung.

My father concussed and walking

My father was a classical music fan and in the time period I’m going to start calling “BC” (Before the car crash in 1948 that affected his personality) he amassed a huge collection of 78 vinyl versions of well-known symphonies and concertos.  In that same time period we didn’t always have quite enough to eat, but he was on the road and didn’t notice.  My mother, who received her grocery money on a reimbursement basis, was proud of her managing skills.  We didn’t actually starve.  We’d just have “pioneer night,” milk toast with a kerosene lamp in the middle of the table.  And then she quietly began to do bookkeeping for the button business two women ran in the basement of their house across the street.

My father’s travel expenses were also reimbursable and he was slow sending in his invoices, which accounted for some of the tight squeaks.  On Saturdays he played his records as loudly as possible on the serious radio/phonograph where our annual growth was recorded in “bare scuddy” shots he took of us trying to see in the top.  My molecules still vibrate to the sounds. 

Innocent times are long gone.

Then I became a UU and encountered their taste.  I found out about “Pachelbel’s Canon” and “Pavane for a Dead Princess” and discovered that my father’s taste — indeed my heart-stirring fav, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor” — was considered sentimental, middle-class.  But that goes back to the days when I was small enough to stand on my father’s feet while he waltzed.  Pre-BC.

Prokovief is also for me linked to dance, mainly “Romeo and Juliet” which I saw performed by the Royal Danish Ballet with a classmate who daringly managed to steal the poster.  He was working in a cafe as the “salad man” and I signalled him that I was out front by playing on the jukebox “Ebbtide” twice in a row.

I do have a fondness for Respighi.  Highbrows despair of me.  The next thing you know they’ll be accusing me of saying I liked “Victor Young and his Singing Strings”  and I did.  For years I went around whistling “The High and the Mighty.

Remember when heroes smoked?

For decades I always did my housework on Saturday mornings accompanied by the opera, singing or whistling with them, and it went famously, full of energy.  Then Yellowstone Public Radio switched their scheduling to play the opera on Sunday evening.  Just as when OPB began charging $5 a month to watch Masterpiece Theatre, I dropped out.  (I dropped out of the housework as well.)  

Surprising how little it takes to prompt a deep change.  Even more surprising it is that marketers consistently go for the lowest common denominator and lose their most dedicated customers.  The opera solution was easy: CD’s and radio streams.  I could listen to "Madame Butterfly" as many times in a row as I wanted to.  And they made the OPB decision easy as well by programming for teenaged girls (all those nurses saving handsome wounded soldiers), the same way Vogue magazine began targeting them (fourteen year olds in daring evening gowns).  Evidently teen girls have a lot of discretionary income and no taste.

But I have no business being a snob.  I hop around, never analyze, free-associate to irrelevant things.  Develop prejudices.  For instance, my undergrad roommate used to start the day EVERY day with the Four Freshmen singing, “Redirect your feet to the sunny side of the street!”  I prefer the shade, thank you.  If I hear the Four Freshmen, I leave.

Winter was in my same year at NU, but I didn't know him.

This is a very quiet town, so silent that sometimes city people can’t sleep.  But when the wind is high — as it has been for days — the percussion of debris bits slapping the house punctuates the wailing reed instruments.  The cats burrow under the covers and I’m grateful for Bose speakers that have a lot of volume.  Now I’m playing all the free downloads from Paul Winter.  Sounds swell.  Now it’s "Villancico" by Danny Rivera but I don’t dare tell you what the association is.

One vacation I set out from Portland up the Columbia River Highway towards Browning with new Paul Winter cassettes and headphones for my also-new Sony Walkman.  I was somewhere way out there at dawn on a clear early summer day, highway deserted, enjoying a music high, speeding — until I thought I heard too many saxophones.  Finally, I checked the mirrors and saw the flashing lights.  I was slow pulling over because the road was narrow with few turnouts.

I sat waiting.  (“Do not get out of your car!”)  Long wait.  Probably checking the license on the radio.  Still long.  When I looked in the mirror again, here came the handsome young officer, gun drawn, cautiously sidling along up against the side of the pickiup.  Since it had taken so long for me to stop, he figured I was running away from him so I must be a desperado.  He had been trying to decide whether it were worth driving up alongside to stop me when I did.  Seeing my round old spectacled face and flyaround white hair was kind of a let down.  He gave me a ticket and a scolding.

Is that OPERA??!!

Since then I don’t wear earphones when I’m driving.  Instead I do what I did when I was dog-catching and on the dispatch radio:  I whistle.  All this technology can be a hazard.  But these Bose speakers are wonderful.  I’m on another music high, even if I’m not a kid.


Anonymous said...

I'm with the cat, TURN THAT THING DOWN! It's making the mountains dance.

I've waited a lifetime to learn to appreciate opera, but it doesn't seem like I'll ever take to it.

Classical or Winters, turn it up all the way babee!

Whisky Prajer said...

Those are good speakers, Mary -- I'm glad you got them. Fabulous what a difference they make to one's listening ears, no? Reintroducing music to the air in a house is ... terrific.

Mary Strachan Scriver said...

Given that my previous speaker (now dead) was the size of a tennis ball and had about the same auditory capacity, I'm very pleased with my new speakers!

Nice to hear from you, "Whisky."

Prairie Mary