Bedlam in Cuckoo Store


In a Q&A thread that I write over at the forum of your favorite internet humourist Jay Pinkerton, I recently mentioned that writing “use to” as a past tense when you should be writing “used to” is a fast way to make me hate you. Naturally, this prompted the question of what might be a slow way to make me hate you. (It didn’t beg the question, of course; misusing the phrase “beg the question” is another fast way to make me hate you) I said that Chinese water torture would work, as would conspiring to deflower my as-yet-unborn firstborn daughter. But I could just as well have said “Bedlam in Cuckoo Store”.

There are three kinds of people, and there’s a larger but indeterminate number of ways of dividing up people into three categories. For instance, there’s people who like the serial comma, people who hate it, and people who don’t even know what a serial comma is. (If you’re either of the first two, you can see from that sentence which kind I am.)

But I’ve usually divided people into these three categories: funny, not funny, and unfunny. (There’s also “not unfunny”, I suppose, but that’s just a feebly polite way of referring to nice people in the second category.) Funny people are just that, funny. Not-funny people aren’t funny, but they know their limitations. Unfunny people love Chuck Norris, pirates, ninjas, bears, monkeys, and whatever the internet has decided to beat to death this week. (Have berserker Vikings been done yet? If not, they’re next.) Unfunny people don’t even realize their category exists; they think they’re funny. But being unfunny isn’t the absence of humour; it’s the antithesis. Unfunny people hit the discordant note that kills the funny vibe in a room when they chime in. They snatch up the humourous riffing being volleyed around by funny people and deflate it by spiking it right onto a nail.

You’d think that a satirical university newspaper such as the rag I used to work at would be staffed mostly by the first kind of people, but all three are employed. The funny people have the job of writing most of the copy. Not-funny people often get jobs laying out the paper, or selling ads, or organizing special events. And unfunny people are tasked with squatting on the couches in the staff lounge, eating all the pizza, contributing nothing usable, and making the editors wish they had a paid staff instead of volunteers so they could fire the dead weight. The editors are faced with an eternal struggle between trying to recruit new staff and simultaneously trying to drive away the ones they don’t want. To the former end, there’s the free pizza. And to the latter end, there was Bedlam in Cuckoo Store.

Bedlam in Cuckoo Store: I find the words themselves euphonious. Bedlam in Cuckoo Store would make a great name for an emo band in the vein of Panic! At the Disco, for instance. (By the way, my other favorite unused band name right now, though its origin is too involved to explain, is Jeffrey Tambor Rape Fantasy.) The actual sound of Bedlam in Cuckoo Store is every bit the cacophony you’d expect. Bedlam in Cuckoo Store was one of the tracks on a four-CD collection of sound effects we had lying around the office, and it indeed sounded like high noon at a Swiss clock shop. You can listen to and even download it for use as a ringtone here, if you find you’re not getting stabbed to death by strangers often enough.

I’m not sure why these sound effects CDs were in the office, but we put them to use. While the speakers for our stereo system were outside in the main lounge, the actual console was located in a small adjacent office with a lockable and relatively soundproof door. Occasionally, some of us would slip into this office, put Bedlam in Cuckoo Store on the stereo and set it to repeat infinitely, crank up the volume all the way, and lock ourselves inside for about an hour as the people outside were driven insane. It was pretty much the same technique that American PSYOP soldiers used to drive former Panamania dictator Manuel Noriega out of his refuge in the Vatican embassy, except if, instead of blasting kick-ass hard rock such as Guns n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”, they’d endlessly blared the random noise in the run-out groove on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

We didn’t always use Bedlam in Cuckoo Store. Another cut off that album that got a lot of airplay was the Polynesian Fertility Chant. The Dentist Water Drill charted highly too. Another time we put the opening track from the Clerks soundtrack on repeat, which is just a sound bite of Dante Hicks whining, “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” Fittingly, we were able to gaze through the window in glee at the seething face of our layout manager, who coincidentally bore close resemblance to Clerks lead actor Brian O’Halloran and was trapped outside in the lounge, as he attempted to batter down the door in a berserk fury.

So that’s Bedlam in Cuckoo Store, the easy way to slowly earn the hatred of others, and the smart choice of impatient bar-owners as the best closing-time track since Semisonic. I can’t wait to form my new band of the same name. I already know what’s going to be in the run-out groove of the first album.

4 Responses to “Bedlam in Cuckoo Store”

  1. 1 Candace

    I love this post so much! Thank you for explaining the difference between funny, not funny, and unfunny. The world is going to be a much better place because of this.

    *sips Roundtine*

  2. “Why do they call it Ovaltine when it’s delicious? They should call it Delicioustine!”

  3. 3 Adrienne

    I have been giggling quietly to myself for an hour — a far cry from that little audio clip’s original effect: homicidal rage. When I read the post’s title, I recognized it for reasons couldn’t quite put my finger on. That’s PTSD for you. But once the suppressed memory came flooding back, I was surprised how funny it is in retrospect. Wish I could say the same for some of the “writers.”

  4. 4 Matt

    I, on the other hand, read the title and burst out laughing immediately. If I hadn’t been at the office, I probably also would have shouted “Whatayidizz! Whatayidizz! Whatayidizz!”

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