Thursday, April 23, 2009

A bug in your ear

Have you ever heard of an earworm? Well, if you've ever seen the 1982 "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" movie, you know how things like "ceti ells" can make their way into your cerebral cortex via your ear canal only to constantly irritate you, aggravate you, pester you, drive you mad, if not kill you altogether. But aside from Ricardo Montalbán introducing foreign objects into your Eustachian tube, what else can find itself passively lodged in there???

Well, of course, there's "Otodectes cyanotis" (ear mites), but those are really more common in canines, felines, and people who stick their ears next to and inside of the aforemetioned animals. For most of us out there, accidental manifistations of accidental audicle accessories includes the occasional Q-tips, water, giant wax balls, croutons (don't ask), and that damn song "Who Let the Dogs Out" (don't you know they have contagious ear mites???!!!)

The modern lexicon has coined such an annoyingly catchy song an "earworm." Much like a computer worm that infiltrates a computer and network without any user intervention, eating up vital resources and bandwidth, an earworm starts out as an unassuming , innocuous melody that passively overtakes your subconcious mind, leaving you singing out loud without realizing it, tossing and turning at night while you envision yourself performing the song at a sold-out concert, or performing an exorcism to rid the devilish ditty from your corrupted soul. You might find yourself singing than new "Free Credit" commercial jingle out loud while you're standing in the line at the grocery store where you're about to pay for your Doritos and beer on your credit card--that's just a little embarrassing, you might as well be wearing the pirate suit at that point.

Some people call them "songs that stick in your head," scientists have called them "haunting melodies" or "involuntary musical imagery," but the idea of a worm crawling around in your head feeding off your brain and doing serious damage to your nervous system is much more appropriate. And for different people, the worm is usually something different. Some people have stronger tolerance or immunity to catchy songs that infect most other people.

If you're a person who has never found yourself singing the "Macarena" while sitting through a boring business meeting, you're in the exclusive minority of people who live under rocks. If you think that you're too sexy to be caught with Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy," then you're nothing but a narcissist in denial. If you've ever ridden the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyworld without having nightmares and suicidal tendencies, then you're lying through your teeth! If you know what I'm talking about, and you've since recovered, then I'm so very sorry to bring up repressed memories. I would suggest listening to the latest Disney earworm before the image of creepy little animated children in sombreros and lederhosen resurface--that new song would be "Hoedown Throwdown" from the new Hannah Montana movie.

In a previous blog, I mentioned how I enjoyed watching the movie with my family and how "catchy" the song was. Thinking my daughter would enjoy learning the song and dance, I acquired the movie soundtrack and found a Youtube video that teaches the moves. Now that song not only plays 'round the clock in my head--I was doing the dance in my dreams last night, at least I thought they were me dreams until I woke up sweaty, tired, and singing the song--it plays constantly through the speakers in my house. I find myself now itching, sweating, going stir-crazy, asking myself "Who let these dogs out??" Stupid me!!!!!

So how can one rid themselves of these toxic worms? Letting them wear off on their own can last several weeks, which by then, you're family, if not infected themselves, is likely planning an intervention on your behalf or looking up the phone number to the psych hospital. The few moments my mind's not going "boom boom clap, boom de clap de clap," I've found sanctuary in another catchy worm I picked up over the weekend: M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" from Slumdog Millionaire (which no doubt infected many others previously when it showed up in "Pineapple Express")
All I wanna do is (BANG BANG BANG BANG!)
And take your money

But it doesn't take long for this temporary relief to be as bad, if not worse, than the infliction it was supposed to assuage, as the lyrics quickly change in my mind to
All I wanna do is (SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP!)
And just get some rest
Maybe writing about all this will help me clear my mind so I can again refocus on other things like feeding myself, personal hygiene, and, of course, sleeping. With any luck, I'll catch on to a trendy lullaby or a smooth, sleepy, relaxing instrumental song, that would actually be beneficial to my current state of mind.

Oh no . . . . I'm hearing Chuck Mangione in the back of my head. Why does it have to be a trumpet. A trumpet!!


Brenda said...

Wow, those music thingies are cool - at first I thought they were thermometers and I didn't understand how they related to the post, but now it makes perfect sense.

kwkorpi said...

They ARE cool. go to and register. Import the code and you're good to go. works too (do you capitalize a website when you start a sentence with it???), but you are stuck with the gaudy player.