Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Has Anyone seen my Earworm?


Well never mind – there’ll be another one along in a minute. For at the moment, we seem bizarrely bombarded by earworms on radio and TV, in newspapers, indeed out of the very ether… not to mention the man at the Co-op checkout yesterday: 

"What’s that you’re humming?" said he.

"Hmm?" I rejoined appropriately but embarrassedly – people could hear me?!


Such is the puzzle of ‘earworms’. When I first heard it, this ugly word instantly conjured up an image from an ancient Star Trek episode, an image so terrifying and so utterly repellent that I shrink from linking it. 

(On vid anyway). But in the interests of space travel…
this is a Picture of the worm en route to Checkov’s ear, from where it will tunnel at leisure into his brain. (see The Wrath of Khan episode for gruesome details).

Anyway, the ‘earworm’ of today is a ludicrous term for a snatch of tune you just can’t get out of your head, so you evilly pass it on virus-like to anyone in your vicinity. As demonstrated perfectly by Daphne in the ‘High Crane Drifter’ episode of Frasier… (apologies for dreadful quality). 


In fact, I can't make the flaming thing work.  So -  just imagine Daphne gratuitously drubbing out a tuneless "Flesh is Burning NaNaNaNaNaNa", followed (Later That Afternoon), by everyone in the appartment mindlessly moaning the same tunelessness as they go about their everday stuff...  

But Why the sudden earworm obsession? Surely this earth-shattering phenomenon is not new… 
Hasn’t everyone been humming Bernard Cribbins’ Hole in the Ground since first it was dug?…   or The splendid Kinks' Thank You for the Days... and my personal constant, Lee Marvin’s merry rendering of I Was Born under a Wandering Star...

video


All unforgettable and tenacious snippets of joy.

(Though perhaps not for those on the receiving end). George insists my own musical scraps could do without the excess bars of doodlydiddly: "…Little old lady got mutilated late last night//Werewolves of London again..."  '(Diddelly diddelly again)'. 
(sadly-departed Warren Zevon’s fabulous Werewolves of London).  

Simple pleasure… but we’re now being told there is More to earworms than meets the… more than one could have imagined; that they might have a ‘Role to play’!  Psychologists and musical experts have been requesting earworm submissions... TV programmes have delved into the ‘function’ of earworms! 

Must they have a Function? – they just Are, aren’t they?   Like our cats… (incontinent little tinkers). 

You can actually buy earworms on the Net – something to do with Language-Learning, I think – and that reminds one of a Very famous  Babelfish:-



How jolly useful that would be if you stuck it in your ear!
 
Which takes us back to poor old Checkov, and shows that there are many ways to consider the earworm...

In conclusion, perhaps if one Took This Seriously and studied in depth the astonishing Mass of available info, one might learn something to one's advantage… 
And certainly to the advantage of all those within earshot

14 comments:

JW10 said...

Cracking post, Dolores. Good work with the videos.
I've experienced earworm before as both victim and offender. I'm talking of pass the tune earworm and not the Chechov wriggly one.
I've hummed a tune and then found that someone has "stolen" it from me and I have copied a tune I have felt was hummable. In our work if someone copies a tune he is shot down with the snorting retort: “Get your own song!”

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thank you greatly, JW. Vids were strangely Impossible this time - their appearance is thanks to your hints in past, and to George's decision to save my PC from my throwing it out the window.

"... if someone copies a tune he is shot down". A bit harsh perhaps, JW, but effective...

Jon said...

Forget the humming, DD, I frequently burst into snatches of song, much to the alarm of passerby. "Itchycoo Park" is a big fave as is one of yours - "Thank you for the days," though I sing the Kirsty McColl version, not that you'd know it.

Canary Islander said...

Kathy and I have been busy passing noseworms to each other all day. It started when I sneezed, and after a respectable pause, we both sneezed, and after another respectable pause, Kathy sneezed. Then we both sneezed, after which we got back to the beginning again, when I sneezed...

So thank goodnes for this blog, which gave me the idea of interrupting the remorseless cycle of sneezes by passing Kathy an earworm....

Me: HumSneezyhumhumhum...
Both: HumSneezyhumhumhum...
Kathy: HumSneezyhumhumhum...
Both: HumSneezyhumhumhum...
Me: HumSneezyhumhumhum...
:-)
Except I happened to cough as well...
:-(

Dolores Doolittle said...

No need to tell Us, Jon - we could hear you in the Loire Valley! (And sometimes back here in OldCountry, if the wind blows Bognorly).

Oh, Glorious Kirsty McColl, so cruelly taken.

And your voices barely distinguishable! Can you waft across a line or two of 'There's a Guy works down the chip shop Swears he's Elvis' please?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Noseworms, CI?! Is there no End to the suffering?

Thank GOODNESS you came up with a weapon - Noseworms will pay dearly today! (Have you tried Vinegar & Brown Paper, by the way)? Or is that for banging your head...
It's fun, anyway

Canary Islander said...

Dolores!
Three cheers for the Isle of Wight!
Your MP Andrew Turner voted against the government in last night's debate on an increase for the EU budget.

Yippee! (You islanders are a right honorable rebellious lot)!
:-)

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hurraaaaay CI! And Good for Him!
But you Tease, you know I'm Sworn to Secrecy on matters of rebellion (MI5 & stuff...)

Expat said...

You all know by now that musically I am Lost in the Sixties so all of this is above my pay (and melodic) scale.

And talking about the Sixties, I fear that despite the cataract surgery my eyesight is going. I tend to "block read" rather than peruse every word. I saw your header as "Has anybody seen my EARTHworms" and wondered how on earth (sorry!)they got into your radio!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Yes Expat, sixties music was FAB! Including my Everlasting favourite, the Stones. Mick has a splendid chateau just a hop from where we used to live in the Loire Valley, and is beloved thre - I used to take sandwiches and sit outside Gazing. He always eluded me.

EARTHworms - wonderful creatures with a tricky existence - terrific blog another time. Huge sympathies for your eye difficulties - frustrating as hell.

Canary Islander said...

Expat - it sounds as if we have a similar problem! But I sometimes wonder if part of my particular problem is a history of too much haste. Now I'm retired I'm trying to slow down my reading, and appreciate the ways that different people have with words, rather than just let the bare facts (so important when I was working) spring out of the page at me.
:-)

Canary Islander said...

I've just now remembered this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsY066wa08E

:-)

Dolores Doolittle said...

CI, sorry to hear about your Over-Hastey problems!

I got a Thing that might interest you at the Botanical Gardens last week... hardly bigger than a credit card, it houses many handy accoutrements including a Telescope and a Magnifying Glass and my favourite, an Invisible Ink Pen! Perfect for slowed-down reading - I now dangle it round my neck by the Compass.

Dolores Doolittle said...

It's Worked at last! Been trying to reply to you for aeons, CI - what is WRONG with this machine?! apologies again, JW, for further waffling on your blog.


As for your FIENDISH YouTube, CI... it's perhaps just as well my PC won't pop up the vid! I'd say it competes with Flesh is Burning!

Although, once past the first 2mins, the 'Enough is Enough' throb doesn't fail to get one up disco-ing round the kitchen. Oh the joy of the eighties...