Friday, January 05, 2018

Jingle Bells Dementia Test

It's a tradition at Mixed Meters, part of our yearly war on Christmas (and on all the other solstice holidays as well).  Yes, it's a piece of music based on Jingle Bells.

Jingle Bells Dementia Test © 2017 David Ocker - 335 seconds

This season's offering takes inspiration from a test for senile cognition.  It's a real medical test.  Now that I've reached a "certain age" this test has been added to my yearly physical. 

You are given three unrelated words to remember followed by a distracting task - in the doctor's office that would be drawing the face of an analog clock at ten minutes after eleven.  Then you are asked to recite those three words from memory.  If you can remember them you are declared compos mentis for yet another year.  Hooray, I've got my marbles.

In the case of Jingle Bells Dementia Test, the distracting task is watching my video and listening to my music.  Much more difficult.  The words flash on and off very quickly.  Please pay close attention if you want to score well on this test.

The video is a long sequence of two-second clips, each one excerpted from the videos I have shot over (nearly) an entire year.  That's right, two seconds from every video - the good ones, the bad ones, the outright mistakes.  For me the result is kind of a year-end highlight reel.  You should be so lucky.

Luckily for all of us, I lost my previous camera returning from Hawaii in April (thanks United Airlines).  That was before I could download the pictures of the trip to my computer.  Otherwise there would have been lots and lots of two-second clips of lava and ocean waves.  Later I bought a new point'n'shoot to carry around in my pocket.  A better one.

To make this piece even more absurd, the short clips are presented in exact chronological order.  There was no shuffling things around to make a better presentation.

The last clip, the Crow's Aria, is the only exception to the 2 second rule, although it does adhere to the chronology rule.  I shot it in mid-December - it was too good a finale to add anything after it.  The crow is presented exactly as it was recorded, without video or audio manipulation of any kind (except for the fade out).

You might notice a particular non-Jingle-Bells-y musical leitmotiv associated with certain appearances of crows in Jingle Bells Dementia Test.  You're probably familiar with the magical minah bird from old Warner Brothers cartoons (I watched them on TV as a kid).   If so you will understand the reference.  If not, watch this 1943 cartoon short.  Be aware, however, that thinking on political correctness was very different back then.  More info about the Minah Bird here.

Finally, we end our broadcast with a story about another kind of political correctness - the farcical War on Christmas, as imagined by the fools at Fox Nudes
“Jingle Bells,” one of the most well-known Christmas carols in the world, is now being called racist.    A Boston University theater professor claims the Christmas carol has a “problematic history” because it was originally performed to make fun of African Americans.
If you want to read the original paper click here.  If you want to read about the right-wing backlash directed at the author click here.

In case you're wondering, Felix Mendelssohn (author of the minah bird/crow motive) never heard Jingle Bells.  He died ten years before Jingle Bells was composed.  One wonders if Felix ever witnessed a performer in blackface.

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