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Arbitrary and only slightly painful Friday

Well, the MRI was approved, though nobody called me on Monday or Tuesday to let me know.  So I simply showed up at the MRI door Wednesday at 8 and asked if I could come on in and have one.  After a little paper shuffling and a phone call, I got the thumbs-up, whereupon I put my keys and glasses in a locker and got ready to drink a tall glass of MRI juice.  Silly me!  I didn’t have an MRI before my appendectomy, I had a CT scan, and had to drink contrast dye.  You don’t drink contrast dye for an MRI.

Janet warned me that the MRI would be totally weird—loud and long and creepily claustrophobic.  But I thought it was cool.  It sounded a little bit like the opening of that NEU!* song “Negativland” followed by Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Autobahn.” So that’s today’s Arbitrary exercise!  What medical procedure have you undergone that reminded you of (a) German protopunk art/machine music (b) raga (c) reggae (d) kwassa kwassa (e) show tunes?


* Even though I hung out in the mid-80s with people who considered Einstürzende Neubauten good bedtime music, and even though I always did all my Kraftwerk, somehow I never heard of NEU! until the spring of 2008, one evening when I got into a cab at O’Hare Airport.  The driver was listening to some socialist “public option” station that happened to be playing a tribute to NEU! drummer and co-founder Klaus Dinger, who had recently died; the song they were playing as I got in was “Hallogallo,” the first song from the first album, and after a few seconds I asked the driver, “um, could you turn that up, like, loud?” (If you click on ye link you’ll find out why!) He was most pleased to do so.  Apparently, Dinger and Michael Rother were trying to compose a song that sounded like speeding along the autobahn, with the white lines and signposts flying by.  Suffice it to say that it was the best. cab. ride. ever, and I promptly bought two NEU! albums from the Internets when I got to my hotel.

I am, however, still waiting to find out what the MRI! says.  I was teaching two classes yesterday and then attacking a dissertation (thereby compelling the candidate to “defend” it), and didn’t have a chance to call.  This morning, I spent twenty minutes on hold before being told that someone would call me back.  So I’m just sitting here waiting for the phone to ring, listening to “Hallogallo.” Well, there are many worse ways to spend one’s Friday.  Have a NEU! weekend, everyone.

Posted by on 08/28 at 09:29 AM
  1. Chuck Grassley sez: “See, democracy works! Michael got his MRI, and he may even get the results! Must we continue all this brouha-ha-ha-ha?”

    Posted by neill  on  08/28  at  11:24 AM
  2. "If only we stop Obama from a government takeover of Medicare, the private market will soon invent medical procedures that will induce hallucations that you are not only watching Oklahoma but one of the dancers on stage. But of course that will never pass if we have Obamacare.”

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  08/28  at  11:28 AM
  3. Come, come, Sherman, the health-insurance bureaucrat and the seekrit Muslim socialist should be friends.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:34 AM
  4. The freezer section in a grocery store here emits a harmonic drone that sounds just like the beginning to a Sigur Rós song (although I can’t remember which one without going back to the freezer section). I do hope their next CD involves specially tuned kitchen appliances.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:42 AM
  5. I also am a big fan of the motorik (as you see, you are not the first to have the “white lines and signposts flying by” revelation).  In addition to Neu!, you might also like Michael Rother solo; try Katzenmusik for that crystalline Conny Plank production and multitracked pearly guitar lines.  And have you really done all your Kraftwerk?  People say that, and then it turns out that they skipped the first three records and jumped right to Autobahn.  Coincidentally, I just heard about a massive Kraftwerk reissue box set, which skips the first three records and jumps right to Autobahn.  Hmph.

    Capcha: “french”.  Wrong side of the Rhine there, my friend.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/28  at  12:04 PM
  6. During my colonoscopy, I had the same feeling I get when I listen to country music.  Does that count?

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  01:23 PM
  7. Dang!  I thought my Kraftwerk was done.

    you are not the first to have the “white lines and signposts flying by” revelation

    It’s not my revelation; that was what somebody (I don’t remember who) said on the socialist “public option” radio—that’s why I said “apparently.” But I should have made that clearer.

    The night in 1977 when Kraftwerk played the Ritz and helped ignite hip-hop has to be one of the great moments in the history of globalization.  As Afrika Bambaataa put it:  “Kraftwerk—I don’t think they even knew how big they were among the black masses back in ‘77, when they came out with ‘Trans-Europe Express.’ When that came out I thought that was one of the best and weirdest records I ever heard in my life.  I said, ‘scuse the expression, this is some weird shit! Everybody just went crazy off of that.  I guess they found out when they came over and did a performance at the Ritz how big they was. They had four encores, and people would not let them leave.” From David Toop’s Rap Attack, p. 130.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  01:24 PM
  8. During my colonoscopy, I had the same feeling I get when I listen to country music.  Does that count?

    That counts double if you sing “I Had a Colonoscopy When Colonoscopies Weren’t Cool.”

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  01:27 PM
  9. Now I know where Wilco stole their song “Kidsmoke” from!  Hear it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuNP_rFu91I with a strange little vid.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  01:39 PM
  10. No, my bad, I misread the post.  Anyway, I guess their intention was realized for you in that cab ride.

    I did know that TEE was really big among hiphopsters, but even of the later records I prefer Man Machine and Radioactivity.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/28  at  02:04 PM
  11. You were listening to Sound Options* (also available via podcast), and the episode you heard was the one that also introduced me to NEU! Credit the “white lines and signposts” comment to either Greg Kot or Jim DeRogatis.

    Can’t think of any musical/medical convergence, but I just returned from a grocery store that was playing “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” by They Might Be Giants, which should count for something.

    *or maybe Sound Opinions

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  08/28  at  02:12 PM
  12. The nipple ductogram done on my left nipple made me cringe about the same way really loud industrial noise music does.  But the latter doesn’t usually make me faint.  Not sure if that makes it better or worse.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  08/28  at  02:14 PM
  13. Now that I think of it, a grocery that’s into Irving Berlin-style songs would be better off playing “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” as its subliminal message might boost sales of crackers and tacos.

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  08/28  at  02:16 PM
  14. What with one thing and another I’ve had three MRIs over the past decade or so. After the first one I asked the technician if he had ever seen “The Ipcress File” but he was a humorless character with the bedside manner of a tree stump. Next one, though, I amused myself for a while recalling Nigel Green, wearing the regimental tie of Her Majesty’s Seventh Imperturbables, saying “Now listen to me… now listen to me...” Nice Cold War paranoia movie.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  03:17 PM
  15. Nipple ductogram!  Yow!  As Sigourney Weaver says in Galaxy Quest, why is it always ductograms?

    OK, so ye medical centre just called.  Here’s the deal.  Disk profusion and cord encroachment between C6 and C7 with compression on the nerve root; C5-C6 spur with no encroachment.  Severe foraminal narrowing at the C5-C6 level.  Recommendations:  P/T (got that covered already!  Seven great exercises to do each morning, and they do a great deal to help) and a followup evaluation by the very guy who did Janet’s surgery two years, who’s the most terrificest neurosurgeon ever.

    If this is the end of my beer-league hockey career I’ll have to write a post all about that.  You have been warned.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/28  at  03:34 PM
  16. The sounds emitted during my MRI reminded me of the soundtrack from ‘Tommy’ - big, beefy guitar licks! And yes, that was a government-paid-for MRI, approved by my doctor and no one else.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  03:40 PM
  17. One of the things about NEU! and Klaus Dinger that I think is cool is that they called their beat the “Apache beat.” (Which probably says more about German ideas about Native Americans than anything else.)

    From the Wikipedia entry:

    ‘’Probably the most cherished element of the NEU! oeuvre is what is often called the “Motorik” beat (a portmanteau combining the German words ‘Motor’ and ‘Musik’wink - although the band themselves did not use this term, Dinger himself later referred to it as the “Apache beat”.’’

    When Klaus Dinger died last year, several obits mentioned Eno’s remark that the Apache beat
    was one of the three great beats of the 70s, along with James Brown’s funk and Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat. See, e.g.,


    That being said, I’ve had no medical procedures that recalled the Apache beat but many show tunes do give me a headache.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  03:52 PM
  18. Oh, anonincanada, like your government didn’t totally get between you and your doctor when you were in the MRI.  I can see it from here!  With a glowing heart, I see it rise, the government of Canadia getting between you and your doctor!

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  03:53 PM
  19. Ok, not that I don’t like it, but Hallogallo sounds like a recipe for falling asleep on the autobahn.  I think it needs to end with a bigger cymbal crash.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  04:00 PM
  20. I had a colonoscopy long after I could ever be cool again.
    But I like the Krautbeat.

    Posted by Hattie  on  08/28  at  05:07 PM
  21. When I was 13, I waited 4 hours in a NY emergency room with a broken arm and dislocated wrist. Thank god it wasn’t socialized medicine, or I would have had to wait 6 hours. Among the people who came and went while I waited were a boy who had a very sensitive appendage stuck in a zipper, a man who, when asked what the problem was, removed his bandaged left index finger with his right hand and waved it in the nurse’s face, and a 250 lb. woman with hemorrhoids. I’m thinking a little Kraftwerk in the background would have completed that scene nicely.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  07:09 PM
  22. Not that this truly represents an arbitrary example, but i was recently working on producing the Beloved music festival and felt like i was trapped inside the early 1990s with a constant loop of ENIGMA with László Hortobágyi, much like the transglobal projects. 

    I had looked forward to reading Muller’s new book (1970) Glauben und Denken der Sioux in grad school, but shortly thereafter, i was inundated by the incredible passion for all things American Indian by the Germans (phone calls, requests for information and resources particularly letters of introduction to various tribal leaders, etc.).  Never really got that thread of their culture.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  08:00 PM
  23. The nipple ductogram

    Not exactly Robert Ludlum’s finest work, but he needed the money.

    And I’ll never understand you kids and your “music,” even if I live to be forty.  Reminiscent of the sound of an MRI machine, and that’s a good thing?  Beethoven is precessing in his grave, like a nucleus with a non-zero spin in a magnetic field.

    Anyway, whenever a particular dentist I patronized as a child had me on the nitrous oxide, the radio in the background always seemed to be playing the same very peculiar song, which in retrospect is reminiscent of German protopunk art/machine music.  And the one time I was put through a checkup at the Mayo Clinic, there should have been show tune accompaniment as I was whisked from room to room.  There, I’ve arbitraried.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  10:44 PM
  24. Nitrous oxide? For realz? Dentists in socialist countries like Germany haven’t used that shit in 35 years at least. It’s all local anesthetics over there (or none, if the patient so chooses).

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:54 PM
  25. d00d, in anarcho-socialist countries like Symbionia the dentists totally use whippits and have done for more than 40 years, though I have to think that the government has no business getting between you and your nitrous.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  12:02 AM
  26. sickness can surely take the mind where the mind doesn’t usually go.

    Posted by skippy  on  08/29  at  12:13 AM
  27. Glad your prognosis is along the lines of relative wellness, Michael.

    To answer the AAOSPF question: None. Not to one-up, but my MRI was nice and strange—but sadly lacking a soundtrack—because I was, well, gripped in an exquisite madness as my internals were shutting down, beckoning the Reaper away from one of his dates with Neko Case. (MRI cost six grand or so and didn’t tell anyone anything useful. That happens when you’re merely poisoned. Health insurance paid 2/3 of the $24k total—they refused cover the whole thing. Too expensive!)

    Ah, these memories, thanks to the serendipitous call-and-response of world-class blogging. Kraftwerk has always made me giggle, they’re so damned catchy. Alas, your Autobahn citation threw me. There’s more than one snappy German hit single named Autobahn? (Skimming is not reading; I am becoming convinced of that.)

    The Alterna-Bahn video is amusing—that one guy sure digs it—and you have to admire a serious-looking work that simultaneously parodies itself. Start forking clothing into those fiery 55-gal drums and you’ve taken the roundabout to Repo Man.

    I really enjoyed learning that it’s called the motorik beat.

    Posted by David J Swift  on  08/29  at  02:20 AM
  28. Goodness—“internals shutting down” sounds even scarier than the phrase they used with Janet, namely, “imminent danger of paralysis.” I think you one-upped us both, David.  (And yeah, why would they do an MRI if you were within the grasp of the Reaper?) Anyway, thanks for snapping me out of it—I’ve been worrying all day about “cord encroachment” (the exact phrase, which I see I was too wigged out to type at the time, was “moderate cord encroachment,” and I wanted an exact number in millimeters), and occasionally I forget that this prognosis is, indeed, along the lines of relative wellness.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/29  at  06:39 PM
  29. Getting a tooth drilled is very industrial music. However, getting a cervical biopsy made me want to wail like Kathleen Hanna.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  08/29  at  07:21 PM
  30. Have you ever watched that show “Spaced”?  It’s fucking hilarious.  There’s a minor character on it who is an E’d out club kid (it’s very British), and yet he’s almost the only character on the show who is fully and properly employed, as a bike messenger.  Anyway, there’s a running joke where any kind of rhythmic sound sends him spiraling off into danceland.  About 1:12 in, you can see the joke. The entire show is hilarious.  Some individual scenes may be the funniest 1-2 minute bursts ever on TV.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  08/29  at  07:30 PM
  31. Amanda’s #29, sadly reminded me of my own surfer’s ear surgery and residual industrial-like tinnitus.  Having your ear canal drilled and chiseled is not at all a medical procedure worth undergoing, regardless of the lack of preventive information back in the old days (not unlike living and working on the beach the first 22 years of my life without sunscreens--but dermatological interventions over the years were never as harsh). 

    The other weird noise that gets to me, both in electronica and in day-to-day living, is that very high hertz hum of CFB ballast (the cheaper lights more than the newer better made ones).

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  09:22 PM
  32. When I broke my nose, and had to have it reset, they shot me full of nembutal and morphine and then the surgeon painted the inside of my nose with liquid cocaine.

    He then inserted a pry bar into my nose and moved it back into place. When he came at me with the dull grey metal tool, he looked like the monster/psycho/nutcase killer in almost every slasher movie I’ve ever seen.

    Still, it was fun.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  11:33 PM
  33. Best part of “Hallgallo” is that certain parts can be looped and you wouldn’t even know it, also then you can create an infinite remix.  Motorik!

    Fave Neu! copycats Stereolab.

    Secret trashy fave Neu! copycat song “Reason is Treason” by Kasabian.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  08/30  at  12:16 AM
  34. Spyder: Want the key to the German psyche? It’s Winnetou!

    Posted by Hattie  on  08/30  at  01:08 PM
  35. Thanks Hattie, you reminded me i have some of Ursula Beyrich’s handbooks, a few of which were her homage to May.  One, from the 1970s, compares the Middle East wars to the Indian Wars in the US.

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  06:58 PM
  36. No, no, Michael. I got better. So our collective socialist family-value thoughts are with you.

    In fact, I pray to an idol specifically made for oppotheists (it’s the world’s greatest literature, symphonies and art compressed into a 2 x 3 x 6-inch brick) for your speedy readaptation. Moloch can log on to its wireless connection to transfer the whole zipped karma file.

    Meanwhile: your blog has piqued my interest in finer points of drumming. Beyond watching Bob’s bass pedal for cues. What randy, laid-back yet oddly propulsive beat is this? R Thompson’s “For the Sake of Mary.”

    Posted by David J Swift  on  08/30  at  08:33 PM
  37. I am so old.  Anymore I listen to the Balanescu 4tet covers of Kraftwerk more often than the originals…

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  12:10 AM
  38. I had a CT scan way back in, like, 1979 (or thereabouts).  The rhythm of the whirring gizmo sounded something like anapestic trimeter, which my Tourette’s-inflected cognitive process (aptly, the diagnosis for TS came from the doctor who gave me the CT) distilled into the essence of baseball arguments in the nowhere-near-KC-or-St.L-Missouri Ozarks:  “The Cardinals!  The Royals!  The Cardinals!  The Royals!” etc.

    Definitely the Royals, btw.

    Posted by Lance  on  08/31  at  12:13 AM
  39. Now that you mention it, there was a government bureaucrat in the MRI machine with me....

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  09:12 AM
  40. I don’t really like German protopunk art/machine music, so the procedure I had that reminds me of it is: a TEEE. Trans-esophagal echocardiogram. A process by which they half knocked me out, numbed my throat with a local anesthetic and then inserted sonogram equipment down my throat past my esophagus to take a sonogram of my heart. I was only partially unconscious during this process; they give you a fair amount of local anesthetic to ensure your gag reflex doesn’t act up, and some general anesthetic to keep you from freaking out, but they like you to be partially conscious and able to respond to requests during this horrifying procedure.

    As for reggae, I listened to Bob Marley when I was on the way to a tour for Auschwitz, and I had “One Love” going through my mind as I walked through the crematoria remains, so I guess I’ll have to go with something Mengele for that one.

    Showtunes remind me of getting a PICC line put in ("peripherally installed central catheter,” essentially a long term intravenous line into a vein--a line is then run through the vein to your heart), but mostly because the person doing the operation kept humming Jesus Christ Superstar while I was immobile.

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  04:11 PM
  41. Don’t know how I forgot about Autobahn’s Nagelbett. Not that they would care.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  12:20 AM
  42. reminded me of Autechre

    NJ drunk driving lawyer

    Posted by NJ DWI lawyer  on  09/06  at  07:06 PM
  43. That is what i do when I’m offered a pillow that i think is too soft and will cover my face. It’s also much better for your back when you sleep on your stomach to use a flat pillow or no pillow, as the pillow will make your back bend at an angle that is not healthy.
    I have to sleep on my stomach. I can’t fall asleep on my back unless I’m exhausted or sick and whenever i roll on my back, it’s only because my bladder is full and i wake up right away. I can’t use soft pillow because I hate having anything covering my face and inhibiting my breathing. I don’t suffer from claustrophobia. It’s only when sleeping on my stomach do i feel this way.

    Posted by Online fire science  on  09/12  at  12:51 AM
  44. It reminds me my story.  Recently, my son’s pediatrician recommended to my wife that we have a CT scan done of his head because his head was in the above 98th percentile range. They wanted to check for hydrocephalus. Now, even the doctor said my son was proportionally correct (the rest of him is big too), and showed absolutely no symptoms, but the doctor ordered the CT scan just to make sure.

    When my wife told me about the planned CT scan and why it was being done, I immediately felt uncomfortable. CT scans are much more powerful than X-Rays and infants are more susceptible to getting cancer from radiation than are adults. Certainly an MRI or an ultrasound would be much safer as they don’t involve radiation.

    So I called the doctor’s office and spoke to the nurse, the nurse told me I was “being irrational” several times. Which actually only served to piss me off, as she couldn’t cite any non-anecdotal evidence to back up the “safety” of CT scans on infants.

    Second opinions: I spoke to one other pediatrician, two radiologists and one radiology tech. The results: The pediatrician give me a vague “It’s probably as safe as anything” and that I should “listen to my pediatrician”. The radiologists and the radiology tech all stopped me before I could finish my first sentence “For my infant son, what do you think of preventative CT scans for.."… “DON’T DO IT”. The radiologists were unanimously in agreement that CT scans while important when time is of the essence should be avoided on infants for preventative means. One of them even gave me a photocopy of one of the radiology publications she reads that was on this particular topic (only more focused on children in general).

    While there are no long term studies of CT scans on infants specifically, there is some pretty simple math that might make you raise an eyebrow: A CT scan is 500 to 2000 (depending on the study) times more powerful than an x-ray. Infants are 3-10 (depending on the study) times more likely to develop cancer when exposed to radiation than adults are. So.. on the low end, that’s the same as me putting my head in an x-ray machine and pressing the button 1500 times. On the high end it would be 20000 times. Either way, it sounds stupid unless it’s completely necessary.

    In the end, we got an ultrasound of my son’s brain, no sedation, no radiation, and the picture was very clear and definitive (because he had a “good” soft spot). My son was 100% normal outside of just being big.

    Advice: If you’re worried, double check your doctor’s advice with other doctors. Do you own research. Be wary of radiation exposure for kids that aren’t sick. but if your kid might have a head injury or is immediately ill get a damn ct scan, it’s faster than anything. (I am not a doctor. Do not take this as medical advice. This is encouragement to question your pediatrician if you think anything sounds suspect)

    Posted by iphone 5 cases  on  09/23  at  06:40 PM





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