Audio Grins

Cartoon by Charles Rodrigues.

In a flash of inspiration last week I decided it was time to sort through the mass of paperwork squirrelled away in my office. You all know how it goes: never discard anything as you never know when you might need it. We should all, of course, relegate all of our important stuff to computer files where TikTok can access it instantly. But it would take me weeks to do that, and China is likely uninterested in my ruminations on audio and video stored willy-nilly in my file cabinets. I tossed away hundreds of files in this clean-up, slimming down the clutter but likely removing information I'll need tomorrow (but would never have needed had it been left alone).

One file folder I am keeping contains random stabs at humor. Much of it is unrelated to audio, video, music, or movies but deserves a place in my file cabinets. Some of it makes heavy use of puns, the most sophisticated form of comedy: "Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine"... "A plateau is a high form of flattery" ... "A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart! Inelegantly worded public signs also make an appearance. Laundromat: “Automatic washing machines: please remove all of your clothes when the light goes out" ... Secondhand shop: “We exchange anything — bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife in and get a wonderful bargain?"

But among the files are a number of audio, video, and music gems. A cartoon by Corky Trinidad, then of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, spoofed (but not without irony) an event titled "50th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor.” The assembled press corps was crammed together with equipment labeled Yamaha, Sony, Nikon, Hitachi, Canon, and Minolta — all Japanese brands. Another find, this time by music critic Martin Bernheimer is a review of a performance of the Puccini opera Turandot in San Francisco in 1985 or thereabouts. The review was biting, and the singers weren't the least of the offenders, according to Bernheimer. The titular lead soprano, he quipped "... can sing loud — sometimes softly too — and she can sing long and she can sing high. She doesn't do any of these things with special distinction or finesse, however, and, dramatically, she still conjures up unfortunate images of a Katisha who has strolled into the wrong mock-Asian charade." (For readers unfamiliar with the latter reference, Katisha is, by design, an unappealing character in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.)

The cartoon at the head of this blog is from the late Charles Rodrigues, a regular contributor to many publications including Stereo Review, the precursor to Sound & Vision. And yet another tongue in cheek audio entry, for which I can't find the author, is below. I've edited things a bit, but the words are all those of the original author. I can't say I agree with them all, but then I rarely agree with all of anything!

Laws of Acoustics

Truth 1 – Any idiot can design a loudspeaker and, unfortunately, many do.

Truth 2 – You can say anything you want, who's to prove you wrong?

Truth 3 – [In speaker design,] the right amount of magnet is the right amount of magnet.

Truth 4 – The only transient of significance in the audio business is tranquility. It is also the briefest.

Truth 5 – Accuracy of reproduction is determined by how well a sound system models someone's warped set of preconceived notions.

Truth 6 – In audio, as elsewhere, foolproof systems prove the existence of fools.

Truth 7 – Price buys not performance but paranoia.

Truth 8 – The most outspoken experts on concert hall sonic reality have seldom, if ever, been to a concert.

Truth 9 – The more money spent on an audiophile system, the less time spent on listening to music.

Truth 10 – In a minimum phase system there is an inextricable link between frequency response, phase response, and transient response, as they are all merely transforms of one another. This, combined with minimalization of open-loop errors in output amplifiers and corrective compensation for nonlinear passive crossover network loading, can lead to a significant decrease in system resolution. However, this all means nothing when you listen to Pink Floyd.

Truth 11 – All small state-of-the-art manufacturers are really manifestations of Phineas T. Barnum

Truth 12 – The audio business is no place for reasonable people to make a living.

Billy's picture

I really miss these cartoons from the old days, of course, even more, I miss how young I was then. Nothing like laughing out loud over them and not having your arthritic joints shutter in pain.

Randolph2's picture

I didn't download TikTok because it took too long. Why not try a cookie clicker instead? I think it's much better.

oilumiun12's picture

It's wonderful to be back on your blog after a long absence. I've been waiting for this project for a Fnaf while.

andree23's picture

The audio, video, and music gems you've uncovered, including the cartoon by Corky Trinidad and the biting opera review by Martin Bernheimer, add an interesting layer to your Watermelon Game collection. The cartoon's ironic take on the "50th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor" event, with Japanese brands symbolizing the press corps' equipment, cleverly uses humor to convey a thought-provoking message.