Friday, February 12, 2010


I usually dislike radio pundit humor. I don't find it offensive; I just don't find it funny. I find that it sounds forced, and is generally spoken by people who are not comical by nature. Anyway, last night I heard a sound bite that was the exception. "Governor Parnell made the news by announcing that he is not in favor of seceding from the Union." I shrugged. So what? The guy said it again, enunciating each syllable and adding frequent pauses. "Governor Parnell. Made the news. By announcing that he is not. In favor. Of seceding from the Union." I still wondered... eh? The radio guy seemed to see my confused look. "In most states," he laughed, "It would be news if your governor WERE in favor of seceding from the Union. Here, it's news if your governor is NOT!" That had me in stitches after I thought about it.

Speaking of the radio, on my drive home yesterday evening, I finally put my finger on something that had been bothering me. Brad Paisley's "Welcome to the Future" was playing on the radio. It's a "look how far we've come" song, about how quickly the world has been changing. It's a warm song, that speaks well of its writer and singer, but there's one line that's always bugged me, about how the narrator's grandfather had fought in the Pacific in World War II, but that today, "...I was on a video chat this morning / With a company in Tokyo."

Now, I understand that country music is like literature in that it's fictitious. It discusses real events, real feelings, and can evoke real emotions in the audience. But, while some of it is autobiographical, and undoubtedly a lot of it is inspired by true events, it's fiction. Poignantly told, realistic fiction, but fiction nonetheless. It's difficult to remember this when reading novels or listening to country music. Barbara Kingsolver discusses this from the artist's perspective in an essay, "The not-so-Deadly Sin":

Most people readily acknowledge the difference between life and art. Why, then, do so many artists keep answering the same question again and again? No, none of those characters is me. It's not my life, I made it up... I suppose I should be relieved when people presume my stories are built around a wholesome veracity. They're saying, in effect, 'You don't look like a sociopath.'

So I acknowledge that Brad Paisley does not work for a multinational corporation with colleagues in Tokyo.

What had been bothering me was this: You cannot have a video chat with Tokyo in the morning. You can have an emergency call with Tokyo in the morning, but not a video chat. The reason for this is that when, for example, it's 9 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, it's 10 p.m. in Japan. The time for non-emergency conference calls with Asia is the evening. The time for non-emergency calls with Europe is the morning. Anyone who's worked for a multinational corporation knows this.

Sorry, Brad. I love your music, but background research FAIL. :)


mdr said...

Japanese workers often work long hours and treated their companies as their homes. Their companies usually treat them as family as well. That is why small Japan that failed in World War II stood up so quickly as leader in the economic world for decades. Japanese might work at 10pm.

Arvay said...

Nobody's going to poke fun at me for having "issues"? I mean, really, who worries about things like this besides me? :P