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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #302
Deadline!
David Gunn

Deadline! While the word may conjure an image of a small, defenseless, but attractive child sitting alone in a dark house that's surrounded by large growling recidivists under the control of a malevolent protoplasmic entity from Belize, and the telephone with which she, the child, might summon in-the-nick-of-time help is useless because the line that connects that phone to the outside world is dead, it is also used to connote a commensurate feeling of desperation as the end of the time limit by which an assignment is supposed to be completed approaches. I know. I've been there. I'm there right now. Not in the dark house with the kid, that is, but in the desperate last hours of contractual relationship between assignor and assignee. I am of the latter ilk.

It -- i.e., dealing with the deadline -- isn't a pretty process. In my case -- which is the consummation of a new musical composition for which I will garner certain inferred rewards -- as the length of time to the deadline shortens, so does my temper, my breath, even my trousers. What had been stylish bellbottoms now end 14 inches above my knees, resembling Speedo hot pants better suited to organisms more callipygian than me. Each breath I draw is likewise less capacious than the last, so by the time the deadline befalls, my respiration should approximate that of a larder beetle in estrus. And my temper. Even on the sunniest of days, a test of endurance for the most tolerant Good Samaritan, my irritability quotient has also risen to the point where even my furniture are avoiding me, making it doubly difficult to sit in front of my computer's cathode ray tube. Every time I involuntarily lunge for a musical idea, my chair makes a mad, inorganic dash for the door. Thanks to time constraints, the process, which is an allegory of a difficult and painful childbirth, now moves from the comfort of a cheerful wellness clinic with natural light and accommodating attendants catering to every whim to the gruff, let's-get-it-over-with attitude of an unlicensed technician in a dingy office preparing to induce parturition with a set of vise grips. The noble motive with which I began the musical construct has been superseded by the more immediate need of imminent closure. I feel more pressed than a rental prom tux.

It was not always so. Once upon a time, long before the small child was left alone and defenseless in the dark house, I allowed deadlines to be established, then draw nigh and ultimately expire with no more compunction than had I just decapitated a malevolent larder beetle in estrus. Cynically, I equated on-time delivery with the world's longest nosebleed -- each in its own way induced intracranial anemia. But then one day -- and, coincidentally, it was the same day the attractive young girl was alone in the house with the dead telephone line -- I found myself on the receiving end of a deadline. I could neither make calls nor receive them. There was simply no dial tone, which I at once realized was a metaphor for my cavalier attitude towards dead lions, about which Id had numerous disturbing dreams, particularly regarding the manner in which they were slain. (But which they are referenced here? -- the metaphors?, the dial tones?, the lions? Who can say?!) And ever since, present situation notwithstanding, I've come to regard la date-limite as a necessary evil in the birth, life and customary quietus of a musical composition.

Necessary evils are in abundance on this 302nd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar. Conversely, we are in short supply of both musical recidivists and dark houses, though a dark horse might fall under the callipygian spell of Kalvos.