Friday, December 28, 2012
  From TB to TV

I've been hearing promos for the movie celebrating the evil life of mass-murdering psychopath Lincoln. Leaving aside the whole question of why we celebrate a sadistic devil who burned down half the country to maximize the profits of his railroad-trust masters, the most irritating thing about the promo itself is the voice that Daniel Day-Lewis uses.

DDL claims to have done lots of research on voices. Nope. If he did, he reached a completely invalid conclusion.

We don't have phonograph records of Lincoln, but we have numerous recordings of politicians near his generation. None of them talk in glottal fry. All of them speak publicly in a high tense nasal voice with plenty of 'music' and vibrato. It sounds strange, even Hindoo, to modern ears; but it was developed through long experience as the only way to penetrate a crowd before the invention of microphones and amplifiers.

Listen to Jennings Bryan, born in Illinois in 1860. Or Alben Barkley, born in Kentucky in 1877. Both close to Lincoln in generation and dialect.

NO PRESIDENT BEFORE BILL CLINTON SPOKE IN GLOTTAL FRY. In fact, no American male outside a TB sanitarium spoke in that register until roughly 1960. Glottal fry is a product of radio and TV. It's an intimate register, developed by pot-smokers and advanced by radio announcers who were able to 'kiss the microphone' while speaking. You cannot penetrate a crowd or even a room with glottal fry.


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Sidenote: Hindoo males speak in an annoying singsong alto voice for the same reason that old politicians did. In India this high voice is the mark of the upper castes, and they use it to penetrate the supposedly dull ears of the slave castes. Since they always use the squeal of command when talking to us Americans, we know what they think of us. We are the untouchables, they are the Brahmins.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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