July 30, 2004

The Up Song

Note: This is an Everything2 daylog from June 18, 2003. I just had the daydream again while working on sharp tools.

Today I realized what my most common daytime idle fantasy is. Yes, this writeup is office-safe! By 'idle fantasy' I mean 'what my mind drifts to when I'm not thinking of anything in particular.' This does not mean 'what my mind drifts to when a woman walks by who...' but you get the idea.

If I had to name it, it would be The Up Song.

How best to explain it. Let's see, what is it composed of. Well, I drive a Toyota MR2. I like playing Descent. I am a spacenik. I hate traffic. I believe that certain events/activities call for particularly appropriate, crushingly loud music.

That's about it. It does fit together, really. See, I'll be in traffic, which will frustrate me. Then the scenario clicks in:

I flip the Magic Switch.
The car shudders slightly as it reconfigures, contours sliding smoothly into a new convex hull that is, if anything, a more violent red. At the same time, the car lifts perhaps six inches off the pavement, just enough to retract the tires (yes, like in Back to the Future Part II) and the dashboard flows in front of me, the steering wheel vanishing into the instrument cluster, the shifter sprouting a top end with several buttons and a 6-DOF ' coolie hat' that fits naturally under my thumb.

I pull back smoothly with my right hand, using my right thumb to slightly 'blip' the coolie hat upwards. My left hand moves to the large thruster/ throttle controller that has extruded from the door in over my left leg.
The MR2 pulls its sharp prow upwards, rotating around a line just at the back end of the doors. The nose now points at Deep Blue with an eager tremble. The vehicle shakes itself slightly, bobbling in the windstream of its motion and passing cars; from the taillights, a single wedged surface extrudes itself into a perfect aerospike engine and the blue flame begins to flicker along the base edges.

I reach for the dash with my right forefinger, just in front of the stick, and pop the MP3 play button that resides there waiting.
There is a crackle of the stereo system clearing its little solid-state throat, and then the opening strains of The Up Song pour from the speakers, the entire world waiting for the breakbeat and the drums and the Loops of Fury to commence. Expectation precipitates from the surfaces and shapes around me; I can feel it being pulled into my vehicle from the frightened faces of those in cars around me as they watch this strangeness, unable to escape, their cars locked into the same traffic mass as I was until a few seconds ago. A suggestion of quiet, calm yet eager voices can be heard behind the tones of music as my steed's systems talk to themselves, making sure that all hands are shaken and all of its various parts are ready to taste air.

As the Up Song hits the opening of the beat, my left hand of its own free will slides the throttle up forward, past the ignite point and past the Cruise detent into Launch-
Blue flame pours from the edges of the 'spike, meeting at the edge and morphing into a blurred, rushing thunder of power as it batters at the asphalt beneath the back of the MR2. There is a crackling roar, the sound of systems, air, and human ears stressed to the point of distortion, and (to quote William Gibson), gravity comes down on me with great soft hands with bones of ancient stone-

I flip up the shielded release button on the stick, press it down, ride the SLAM back into the seat and watch the world fall away beneath my windscreen, a lost forgotten lover-

and like that, I'm gone.



This, then, is the 'Up song.' I use Magic Carpet Ride as an example, because the initial seven or so seconds of the launch of the Phoenix ( Zefram Cochrane's Warp Ship) in Star Trek: First Contact is the best example of the feeling I want. Barely controlled power, riding the wave rather than directing, knowing that the Earth is back there behind me, made behind rather than beneath by the howling of my engines.

But what is my Up Song?

I don't quite know, yet. But you see, I plan on getting off this benighted rock at least once before I die, which means I'll have to undergo a launch of some sort. When I do, there will be music playing on my headphones, or better, directly into my skull if I can manage it - and I need to know, in advance, what that soundtrack will be.

I sometimes wonder if Shuttle crew and other professional Super-Uppers ever sneak music feeds into their headphones during launch. Especially if you can hear Mission Control, and they you, it seems like it'd be a crime not to have music at that moment - the sounds of human spirit in a moment of pure, bond-breaking freedom.

I wonder. Posted by jbz at July 30, 2004 6:46 PM | TrackBack

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