MIDDLE-AGED PLAGUE - The multitasking Norwegian


Multitasking is such a big thing with some people.

I mean, I think it's impressive if a person learns another language like whatever it is that they speak in Uzbekistan -- but for some of those who operate on 36-hour cycles instead of 24, listening to Uzbekistani fairy tales in the car while meditating (eyes open) and doing one's nails (hands at 10 and 2) is the norm.

These people are not.

Normal, that is.

Now the Norwegian Artist, who, when he uses a chain saw to chop wood, does not text at the same time, does multi-task when he paints, namely by listening to an audio book while he dabs.

This isn't really possible when you're writing, by the way.

(Try it sometime -- it'll drive you nuts.)

Given that the Norwegian Artist is one of the sanest people I know, his digital reading habits in conjunction with the wielding of his brushes apparently don't mess with his brain as much as living in constant contact with me.

Months after completing a painting, he looks at the image and remembers what he was listening to while he was working -- "Jason Bourne was driving through Switzerland as I was putting the finishing touches on that sail," he'll comment.

With my ability to read and re-read Agatha Christie novels because I never remember whodunit, much less what was done, I find this memory feat amazing.

When he isn't "reading," the Norwegian Artist listens to music, a frustrating activity in our household since none of the progeny knows how to work the plastic CD case holders enough to put CDs back in them, and every shiny disc we own is scratched, dented, clawed, marred, and burnished bronze.

So, in the effort to save money, I troll through the Dollar Delight Store in search of paintable music, and some of the time I come back with tunes worth listening to, which means that, most of the time, I don't. The Norwegian Artist has a stack of shiny discs, in their cases, that he listened to once, if that, and put away because he felt as if he were stuck in an elevator, out on the beach, with birds chirping in unison to Pachelbel's Canon in D.

I am learning, however, and I would like to impart to you my wisdom, accrued in a dollar by dollar fashion:

If the disctitle has the word "relaxation" in it, then the background behind the musicpulsates with wave sounds, wind whispers, or thosewretched birds -- sometimes all three. The resultant cacophony of noise overshadows any melody, and you find yourself with a tension headache and the desire to go off somewhere quiet -- like a treeless, waterless, cat-infested desert -- and relax.

The word "spiritual" in the title is no better, especially if the disc cover has rocks on the front: this means that there will be a series of knock knock and clanking sounds (the rocks, apparently) superimposed over a toneless and tuneless base.

Italian Cafe Music is a big, big mistake. Disconsolate, weeping Italians with accordions trash vaguely familiar rock songs from the 1980s.

Favorite Hymns -- any of you who spend Sunday mornings in cavernous rooms with long benches know how many verses the average hymn has -- and while it's bad enough struggling through the whole pile, plus the chorus, eight times, with the words -- it is far, far worse with a piccolo and a tambourine.

Smooth Jazz -- you know, for a dollar you don't get Euge Groove or Grover Cleveland. At some point before unconsciousness hits, you think you hear birds.

One time I struck gold with a virtuoso performance by some anonymous genius in Spanish Guitar. I loved this disc, so much so that I played it in the car -- over and over and over and over.

Untilone of the progeny -- none of them would admit to it -- pulled it out, couldn't figure out the plastic case contraption, set the disc on the seat, and sat on it.

On the bright side, it was still shiny and unscratched -- both halves.

But the Norwegian Artist has never painted a picture to it, because he has never heard it.

Carolyn Henderson is manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Find more of her writing at middleagedplague.wordpress.com.


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