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Cake in the rain

This is funny: some organization condemning the use of music in "torture" (as opposed to things like thumbscrews and shredders -- I guess they leave that to some other group to worry about) is being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

HH: (Macarthur Park music playing) Welcome back, America. It’s Hugh Hewitt with Professor Philip Bohlman, president of the Society For Ethnomusicologists. Professor, at the University of Chicago, I think I’m with you, Professor, on Richard Harris and Macarthur Park. Is that torturous?

PB: (pause) Excuse me?

HH: What do you think of that song?

PB: (longer pause) Well, I don’t completely understand what you’re asking me.

HH: Well, we’re trying to figure out which music…is it because the music is louder, or is it the particular music that you’re objecting to being played to the jihadists?

PB: First of all, I don’t think the question is one of jihadi. I don’t…I think using that term is very misleading, and I’m afraid that it’s not a line of questioning that I find productive at all.

HH: Well, why is it misleading to use jihadi?

PB: Well, what is your definition of that term?

HH: Someone engaged in global jihad, in an effort to use violence to advance the return of the caliphate.

PB: Well, I think that this is not what we’re talking about here.

HH: Well, would you agree Zarqawi is a jihadi? Zawahiri?

PB: I don’t know how you’re using the term, and I don’t want to be baited into this sort of …

HH: I don’t want to bait you. But I’m trying to get to the key question, which is let’s say we’ve got Osama and Zawahiri in a room. Can we play music to upset them?

PB: There is no point in doing it.

HH: But if the professional psyops interrogators think there is, could we?

PB: You’ve moved the conversation away from the discussion of this particular position statement, and I think that I…that it’s only appropriate...what I think about, the conversation here is not what I think might happen if Osama is in a room. This is not…this has nothing to do with the position statement that the Society For Ethnomusicology put up on its website.

HH: Well, actually, I think it’s a concrete hypothetical example, or we could use Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Are you familiar with him?

PB: This…the hypothetical, we’re not talking about hypotheticals.

HH: No, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in custody. He’s actually…are you familiar with him?

PB: I am, yes.

HH: Could we use the Barney song on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

PB: No.

HH: Could we use any music on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

PB: What would be the point?

HH: I don’t know. Richard Harris could destabilize a lot of people.

It's true. Just ask Professor Snape.

Comments (20)

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I don't give a fig what any overeducated "expert" says. MacArthur Park by Richard Harris is torture, IM(seldom)HO.

This clown should apply to be a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, cuz he dances around the question beautifully.

What a maroon...

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

It must be pathetic, being an academic with sterling credentials, trusted and respected within your own circle, and you inadvertantly wander out into the real world and suddenly - BAM! - some actual guy is asking you real questions and insisting on a response however much you dance and misdirect and demand useless definitions and attempt to return things to a hypothetical plane.

Oh, wow, this reality totally sucks! Back to academia, Prof. Reminds me of that line from Ghostbusters:

"I've been in the private sector. They expect... results."

Confession time: I used to really like that "Cake in the Rain" song. I do have my weak moments.

As I recall, "MacArthur Park" is specifically mentioned in the Geneva Convention in at least three sections. And under "war criminal", Richard Harris is the given example.

marc [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I was afraid to reveal the fact that I liked that damn song, too. It 'hit' just at the right moment in school when I was first trying out the romance business.

Annalucia [TypeKey Profile Page]:

In the 1961 movie ``One, Two, Three'' (James Cagney's last) the young German revolutionary suspected of being an American spy is tortured by having to listen to repeat playings of ``Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini.''

As for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, I have only one word to say: electrolysis.

Ha ha, Annalucia! I remember that movie (but I don't remember that particular bit, I don't think I saw the whole thing).

BTW, it wasn't James Cagney's last, though it was for a while - he made some in the 80s including Ragtime.

I suggest actually listening to that interview on Townhall.com. It's worth it just to hear the good Professor's voice. What is it about lefty, Other-embracing philosophies that produce male voices which so inevitably ooze a vibe of lispy wussiness?

Another giveaway of the type of person you're dealing with in this guy: his seeming need to over-pronounce all third-world ethnic words. He practically pauses just to emphasize the gooey feeling it gives him to say off-gon-eee-stan every time he gets a chance to drop it into the conversation.

Good stuff. It's always funny and a little sad to realize people like this actually exist and aren't just created in the fertile imaginations of Ann Coulter.

marc: oh, I wasn't into it because of romantic impulses. I was just weird.

Russell: oh yes, the old "we will show how one we are with our cute little foreign pets by pronouncing the names of their countries 'just like' they do." Invariably they use the sort of rigidly exact pronunciation that the actual natives don't bother with. Bono was one of the main offenders -- I still remember wincing through his saying "Nee-kah-RRRAAA-GGGUA!" -- really hitting that hard "g" above and beyond all necessity and showing that he, unlike all the other Anglo-Irish squares who still said "re-NAY-sense" when they said "renaissance," can roll his r's like a Scotsman. The funny thing is I knew plenty of Nicaraguans and they didn't say it like that -- they used a much softer and more elided "Nicara-wah." And they only rolled the "r" once, they didn't rev it like a boat engine.

Daddyquatro [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I don't know if I can take it! 'Cause it took so long to bake it! And I'll never have that recipe agaaaaaain!
Bring on the waterboard.

meep [TypeKey Profile Page]:

My college boyfriend once used piped-in music (Steve Reich, and mainly "Come Out"... this was Reich when he was doing stuff with taking loops of differing speeds as his compositional technique...very trance-like, but also very annoying) to get an anti-social roommate to come out of his room.

I think the ethnomusicologists would be unamused.

The funniest bit of the interview was where the good prof objects to the term "gal".

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Dave Barry does some fine riffs on MacArthur Park in his book on the Bad Song Contest, including a hysterical high school band story that cracks me up just thinking about it.

No, I'm not going to recount them here. Go buy or borrow a copy of the book. It's worth it.

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Although I do have to say that I never hated the song, myself. Didn't like it, either, but I was, and remain, fascinated by its dumbness.

Meep: I hate people like your college boyfriend. They see someone who prefers to be alone, and their huge egos can't stand it. "I just want to bring you out of your shell." Okay, can I stab you when I come out?

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Huh... if somebody is anti-social, why would you want them to come out of their room? Personally, I don't get off on being around people who don't want to be around me.

meep [TypeKey Profile Page]:

To be fair, the ex-boyfriend used that gambit only once. He had to get the guy out to get the rent check or something like that. We certainly didn't flush him out so that we could have the pleasure of his company.

If the guy would have responded to people knocking on his door (even a "can you guys wait a minute!" if he were attending to personal biz), we wouldn't have resorted to musical torture. And if he didn't want to deal with other people, perhaps he shouldn't have gone into sharing an apartment with 2 other guys.

Owing rent is grounds for not politely waiting for someone to come out of his room. This guy sounded like he had problems other than anti-sociability. Us truly anti-social people are picky about our privileged status, and don't like being associated with the merely neurotic. Besides, we pay our bills -- we know that if we don't, we run a greater risk of having to deal with other people.

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I'm certain you're aware of Florence King's comment that true misanthropes are seldom criminals because in order to commit crime one must associate with people. It might have been in the same column where she wrote a misanthrope would read about solitary confinement and wonder why it was considered a punishment.

I've pretty much memorized everything she's written.

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