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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

That’s Not ‘Love’ In the Air, Mister

Being under the weather last week, I nearly got away with forgot to mention an embarrassing little adventure I had on Valentine’s Day. Some days, I don’t even have to leave my office to dork up the joint. Whoopee.

There I was on Thursday afternoon, weeping softly at my desk, as is my usual custom. To cheer my mood — and take my mind off my throbbing sinuses — I was listening to a few MP3s. Specifically, I had Fatboy Slim’s Better Living Through Chemistry queued up, and playing loud. Maybe I was in a techno mood. Maybe I was comforted by the promise in the title — a little NyQuil (or tequila, or possibly lye) could be just the ticket to a happier, phlegm-free future. Whatever the reason, those catchy tunes were the only bright spot in a sad, sniffly, scratchy-throated afternoon.

“It’s uptempo, with a good beat. If I could dance at all without looking like an epileptic ostrich, I could dance to it.”

At least, they were. Until I re-learned, for the umpeenth time, that timing. Is everything.

(Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not into ten-year-old techno electro nu break funk jungle house bass beats, or whatever the hell such songs are classified as nowadays. I’ll walk you through the scant bits of info that are germane to the story.

I promise not to bop or crunk or beatbox or anything along the way. Lord knows no one wants to see that. Also, I could break a hip.)

So, there I was. Alone in the office. Weeping. Listening. Sniffling. Minding my own business. After a while, the song “Give the Po’ Man a Break” came on. I like the song. It’s uptempo, with a good beat. If I could dance at all without looking like an epileptic ostrich, I could dance to it. Good tune.

But Fatboy’s lyrics are not the highlight, so much. In fact, the only words in the entire song are those in the title. Three or four minutes in, the first vocal sample emerges:

Gee po manna break! Gee po manna break! Gee po manna break! Gee po manna break!

No, Mr. Slim isn’t revered for his enunciation, either. As a genre, the techno electro nu break funk jungle house bass beaters aren’t typically ‘Hooked on Phonics’, as it were. It’s usually easier to just call the tunes instrumentals, and treat the lyrics, such as they are, as another instrument or rhythm. That’s what I do, anyway. But folks less experienced with the music might have a different view.

Someone like, say, the new kid who started working in our office last week. Turns out he — who I gather isn’t so experienced with the Fatboy Slim oeuvre — needed to ask me a question that Thursday afternoon. So he walked into my office. While “Give the Po’ Man a Break” was playing.

None of which is all that troubling — except for one thing. Fatboy, you see, being an artiste, wasn’t content to simply loop the same vocal sample over and over and over through the second half of his ditty. Instead, he reprised it in shorter and shorter versions — treating it like another instrument or rhythm, just like I said. Me and Slim, we’re on the same page here.

The new kid, not so much.

Of course, it might have helped had he poked his head into my office during the actual instrumental part. Or the part where the whole phrase is looped, as above. Or even the next step along, when the tune shouts:

Gee po manna! Gee po manna! Gee po manna! Gee po manna!

That would have sounded like gibberish, sure. But the new kid would have probably figured I was listening to some funky Latvian pop music, or playing MP3s backward, or something. I have a bit of a reputation for doing weird shit around the office.

I know. Go figure.

But he didn’t walk in at any of those points in the song. Instead, he came in toward the end, when the sample is really chopped down and rapid-fire. So when he appeared in the doorway, my speakers were veritably blasting:

Gee po! Gee po! Gee po! Gee po! Gee po! Gee po! Gee po! Gee po!

Which, to the naive ear unwise in the ways of the late-’90s techno milieu, sounds an awful lot like a guy shouting:

Gay porn! Gay porn! Gay porn! Gay porn! Gay porn! Gay porn! Gay porn! Gay porn!

At eighty decibels. Over a pulsing backbeat. On my speakers.

I didn’t realize the misinterpretation right away, of course. It took a while to deduce, from the way the kid opened his mouth to ask a question, then stared wide-eyed at my computer for a bit, and then backed slowly out of the room. But I eventually figured it out, and realized how it must have sounded from his standpoint. So now I’ve got a whole new genre of odd stares and wacky rumors to work through, no doubt.

On the bright side, the new guy hasn’t been back to ask me a question for a whole week. Looks like this po’ man got a break, after all.

Permalink  |  4 Comments

4 Responses to “That’s Not ‘Love’ In the Air, Mister”

  1. kerry says:

    oh man, i have been away too long! that is hysterical! that has so made my crap day so very much better. :)

  2. Lori says:

    It’s now a month later and no new post. Whazzup, Charlie?

  3. CHARLIE!!! Time to start pounding the keyboard again!!!

    Hey, my standup is taking off a bit. Doing some benefits and some emcee work at our local club. Tonight I emcee for Sean Morey… The Man Song guy. It’s in my blood now. You still chasin’ the dream?

  4. Stash says:

    dude where are you???

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