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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #97
Sidereal Time and the Kidney
David Gunn
Sir William Bowman, an English physician dead on this date in 1892, made many fine discoveries about the human kidneys and eyes, including the fact that they shared many fine characteristics. A membranous sac that he found in the kidney and later named the Bowman's capsule had, among other abilities, the capacity for sight, albeit a bit fuzzy. He discovered that inflammation of mucous membranes in the eyelid, frequently misdiagnosed as conjunctivitis, were really urinary tract infections. Anatomical ductwork which voided the kidneys didn't open and close so much as they blinked. And the sticky matter which collects in the corners of eyes after a good night's sleep was made of the same material as kidneystones. All of this good data, plus other not quite as good, led him to theorize that the kidneys and eyes were one and the same organ, a hypothesis he parlayed into a small fortune with his invention and franchising of the dialybismusmatic, a dromedary-sized machine that performed dialysis and strabismus therapy while simultaneously measuring sideral time.

Sideral time, you probably know, is time that is measured sideways. It's used by smart astronomers to locate and lay claim to abstract celestial objects, and also by composers to realize abstract time signatures so necessary to placate today's demanding audiences. The sidereal day is 3 minutes 56 seconds shorter than the solar day. Musical compositions written in sidereal time are thus 3.56 times less likely to be counted correctly by players unschooled in sidereal mechanics. Here's how you at home can transform your own time to sideral time. Pull a clock off of the wall and carry it outside, taking care to keep the 12 pointing straight upwards. If it is during daylight hours, stand facing the sun. If it is at night, put the clock back on the wall and wait for daylight; then proceed as above. Now tilt the clock 90° to the right so that the 9 -- or the 3 if you're lefthanded -- is pointing straight up. Were you to stay there until tomorrow, you would save 3 minutes 56 seconds on the upcoming day, which you could later use as comp time. However, if you place the clock back on the wall rightside up, time will eventually catch up with you, and you will lose any you haven't already redeemed. The dilemma this poses to sidereal composers is that they never have enough time to finish their tunes.

Fortunately, the Seven Last Words of Christ -- a theme often employed by musical mercenaries looking for a quick Eastertime buck -- has escaped the clutches of sidereal time composers. At last count, no fewer than 211 legitimate composers have written pieces based on those seven words, mostly in regular duple, triple or pluperfect meters, and none using confounding sidereal time signatures. If I may assume the mantle of "legitimate" for a moment, here is my own version of The Seven Last Words of Christ.

    "Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!"

That was The Seven Last Words of Christ, or Le flambeau oriange, performed live on the 97th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which, excluding that last patently crass bit, is being brought to you in stereo and good taste without the distractions of sidereal time zones, urinary tract inflammations, or unusual shifts in the food chain cycle, which will be discussed another time in order to leave ample time now for WGDR's nexus of neuvo musique, Kalvos.