November 29, 2010

"... Sinatra was a singularly fluorescent vocal phenomenon."

No, of course that's not what the NYT review of that new book about Frank Sinatra says. It says "Sinatra was a singularly incandescent vocal phenomenon."

Do you see my point? Incandescent means something. There is feeling and beauty in the concept that is missing — to the point of comedy — in the word "fluorescent."

Or maybe you are on the extreme end of the spectrum that has feeling and sensitivity to aesthetic details at one end and whatever it is you are on the other — logical, medicinal, remorseless. Maybe you are like those people who want to take away my incandescent light bulbs. What will it take to convince you that your perceptions are not the same as everybody else's?

***

Bonus literary reference:
Look, Mother, do you think I’m crazy about the warehouse? You think I’m in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that - - celotex interior! with -- fluorescent tubes?! Honest to God, I’d rather somebody picked up a crow-bar and battered out my brains -- than go back mornings! But I go! Every time you come in yelling that Rise and Shine! Rise and shine!! I think how lucky dead people are! But I get up. I go! For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever!

53 comments:

Drew said...

Pysch! We think she's here to talk about Frank Sinatra, but she's really here to talk about incandescent bulbs! Bait and switch!

MadisonMan said...

I would say he's incandescent because flourescent bulbs came later.

MadisonMan said...

..and I want to ask, re: that Tennessee Williams: Did you actually keep, and still have, your high school script?

Throw things away!!!

AllenS said...

Sinatra was in the spotlight for a long time.

shoutingthomas said...

I think you may be on to something here.

The liberal bureaucratic mind is obsessed with mashing everything down into the gray, neutral and average.

Once again, I recommend Henry Miller's "The Aid Conditioned Nightmare."

Drew said...

This is true: when I hear someone suggest that getting rid of incandescent bulbs is a great idea -- or worse, that they actually prefer fluorescent light -- I sort of back away slowly, as if I've encountered something not entirely human and I'm trying to avoid triggering my flight response.

chickelit said...

Fluorescence, properly understood, has its own inner beauty quite apart from artificial lights.

Fluorescence is more utilitarian. It enabled large scale DNA sequencing for example. Fluorescence also shed light on the inner workings of cells.

wv "bedingst" -sounds very German and very useful.

shoutingthomas said...

That should read:

Once again, I recommend Henry Miller's "The Air Conditioned Nightmare."

bagoh20 said...

"Incandescent" inplies a burning light, bright, but of limited duration that burns out quickly as it's components consume each other.

"Florescent" seem to suggest a less dynamic, but longer lasting light producing little heat with a less passionate and less satisfying output.

Sinatra was a long lasting incandescent.

Fred4Pres said...

Is Justin Bieber flourescent?

PETER V. BELLA said...

Althouse is in love with bulbs. Wonderful incandescent bulbs. The only kind of bulbs. The best bulbs.

Now, if the gummint would only stop their stupidity.

Ann Althouse said...

"I would say he's incandescent because flourescent bulbs came later."

I don't know about "flourescent" bulbs — sounds organic! — but check out the history of fluorescent tubes. They certainly predate Sinatra's career — as my quotation from "Glass Menagerie" — a play written in 1944 — proves. Tennessee Williams had time to get horrified by the tubes, so they must have been illuminating the workplace long before then.

Charles said...

I think we just might get our light bulbs back

bagoh20 said...

I suspect burning my fireplace for one evening's contentment expands my carbon footprint beyond anything fluorescents can fix. I need a giant fluorescent fireplace, with the smell-orama attachment.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Fluorescence is more utilitarian. It enabled large scale DNA sequencing for example. Fluorescence also shed light on the inner workings of cells.


Nevertheless, it still makes everything look like crap in my house. Paintings and other art items were NOT made to be seen in fluorescent light. Fabrics were NOT made for this lighting.

It gives me a headache and everything looks like crap.

virgil xenophon said...

"Luminous Maximus" in an art. about this subj. over at American Thinker quotes Dennis Miller on CFLs as saying: "I don't care what my electric bill is, I haven't worked my entire life so that my living room can look like a Soviet Bloc stairwell during a James Bond fight scene." LOL!!

MadisonMan said...

I suspect burning my fireplace for one evening's contentment expands my carbon footprint beyond anything fluorescents can fix.

Burning wood is pretty much carbon neutral, you'll be pleased to know. You're not putting any 'old' carbon into the atmosphere. If you're burning coal in your fireplace, however....

Burning wood does cause problems because of particulate emissions, but not because of carbon emissions.

peter hoh said...

on the other hand, if your experience of fluorescence was limited to seeing minerals in a darkened cave fluoresce, you might look at the word fluorescent in a (ahem) whole new light.

deborah said...

I have cozy memories of my grandmother's kitchen where, on either side of the sink, we could switch on the under-cabinet fluorescent lights. They gave an efficient, cheery glow.

William said...

Doris Day was incandescent. Frank Sinatra was numinous.

peter hoh said...

That "Candle in the Wind" chick -- she was incandescent, too.

Beth said...

I have 10-foot ceilings, so I like that those CFLs last longer and I don't have to climb a ladder to change them so often.

But! In one room I use a device to change bulbs, a long stick with a gizmo on the end that grabs the bulb and allows one to rotate it in or out of the socket; you get the picture.

That device does not adequately grip the CFL bulb, which, when you think about it, is not a "bulb" at all. And so I have broken two of the damn things now. The internets tell me I have to do a FEMA style clean up because of the mercury but I'm old enough to remember playing with mercury from a busted thermometer so I said "pshaw" to that. Still, I hate having a glass object crash down around me from 10 feet in the air, and so I'm done with those stupid unbulbs.

E.M. Davis said...

Just imagine the world looking like the beginning of Joe vs. The Volcano, and you'll understand my hatred for all things fluorescent.

But, I would never dream of banning fluorescents or their CFL cousins.

c3 said...

Althouse revision of the bible:

Your word is a fluorescent lamp unto my feet

traditionalguy said...

The quote out of Glass Menangerie is apt, because Tom was fighting being under control by a Corporate/Fascist wage system to put food on his Momma's And sibling's table. He wanted out. So he left Atlanta and went to NYC and found a creative life where he prospered. The flourescent efficiency at a wharehouse was a symbol the Tom counted for nothing as a replaceable cog in a machine. We need now that attitude as much or more than ever as King Obama redistributes us back into Tom's shoes.

MadisonMan said...

That device does not adequately grip the CFL bulb, which, when you think about it, is not a "bulb" at all.

I don't understand why CFLs aren't produced so there is a bulb surrounding the coil. That would mitigate the problem you face. I wonder why it hasn't been done much.

Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

MadMan,

What have you got against Tennessee Williams? At least he was able to translate his own personal demons onto the stage, say something perhaps interesting about the human condition, and not fall into the Next Great Critique of Capitalism, Apple Pie, and Motherhood trap! (Ok, so maybe that says more about the critics than it does about the playwright himself...)

"The warehouse is where I work--not know things about people!"

"I'm going to opium dens, mother!"

Who needs a script to remember stuff like this???

Beth,

"Unbulbs". That's perfect! Did you coin that?

Beth said...

Kirk, yep. I should copyright it.

MadisonMan said...

What have you got against Tennessee Williams?

I only have something against hoarding stuff you can easily throw out.

I say this viewed through the prism of someone who will someday clear out two or three homes of older people that are chock full of things that were saved for God only knows what reason. So I'd say the same thing if it was an Ibsen play, or (God forbid) Chekov.

edutcher said...

I've heard pros discuss Old blue Eyes' abilities as a singer. His technique was so natural that his range and voice were a lot better than people thought.

Much like Cary Grant's acting.

Crimso said...

"Or maybe you are on the extreme end of the spectrum"

In light of the contrast you are trying to draw, that was a clever phrase (see what I did there?).

ricpic said...

Sinatra started out clear incandescent and ended smokey incandescent -- both good.

Sofa King said...

MadMan -

Just about every place bigger than a convenience store that sells CFL's has the ones with the bulb-shaped plastic cover. Beth's complaint doesn't make sense.

I, for one, like CFL bulbs in some applications because I like the whiter white light. But preferences are subjective, and people who prefer incandescent bulbs ought to be allowed to buy them. It's not like I have to pay their electric bill.

Brian said...

The problem I've had with using CFL bulbs everywhere is the warm-up time. Which is why I have a mix of incandescents and CFL's, so when you turn the lights on, it's not so dim you can't see clearly in the room for 2 minutes.

I've also bought a couple of LED bulbs on sale, for track lighting. I would not have bought them if they had cost the original $29 a piece. And they are mixed in with regular incandescent bulbs so their bluish-white light is balanced out by warm yellow light.

As far as incandescents, wouldn't it have made more sense to limit the wattage? So you could still buy 60W bulbs for spaces where CFL's don't make sense, and LED's are too expensive?

Ann Althouse said...

"I have cozy memories of my grandmother's kitchen where, on either side of the sink, we could switch on the under-cabinet fluorescent lights. They gave an efficient, cheery glow."

Our under-cabinet lights are halogen. Much prettier.

And by the way, they've been there for nearly 20 years and I've changed some -- but not all -- of the bulbs and I've only changed those once.

E.M. Davis said...

"I have cozy memories of my grandmother's kitchen where, on either side of the sink, we could switch on the under-cabinet fluorescent lights. They gave an efficient, cheery glow."

Um, that sure sounds like sarcasm to me.

MadisonMan said...

Um, that sure sounds like sarcasm to me.

I wasn't sure. The memories might come from something other than the lighting.

traditionalguy said...

This year begins the end of Passivity as we have known it. No is the default answer to the old acquiescence in bad policy ideas because well meaning fools are pushing them. Every RINO that cannot figure that out is history. Go SarahCuda. Teach them Reaganism until eventually Congress can only make millions instead of billions by manipulating the productive Americans with myths of unicorns, windmill energy, Toy Trains, and CO2 Crises.

deborah said...

Not sarcasm. I guess if I have a point, it's that fluorescent light has its purposes, such as task lighting.

I won't buy the screw-in lamp fluorescents because I have children of child-bearing age, and lamps knock over easily.

deborah said...

And it was cozy to me when the rest of the kitchen was dark.

Althouse, love that picture. Thanks.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Incandescent is when something is so hot you can see by the blackbody radiation it gives off.

It's a great metaphor for the Chairman.

Fluorescence is, to my mind, scientifically more interesting; but it is a property of specific materials, and doesn't lend itself easily to metaphors. Perhaps you could say that an artist who has a muse is "fluorescent"--the muse gives him inspiration which the artist absorbs and then emits art. But no one would get it--only Dennis Miller would say such a thing.

I like the CFLs, myself, I've been using them since 1995, when they were superexpensive. However, that's MY choice and I certainly don't approve of the government legislating it for everyone.

Beth said...

Just about every place bigger than a convenience store that sells CFL's has the ones with the bulb-shaped plastic cover. Beth's complaint doesn't make sense.

That doesn't change my complaint at all; it just offers another, more expensive, alternative. I bought CFLs starting several years ago, in multi-packs, from Sam's Club. The plastic-covered models have not been around that long. If they're affordable, I'll get some. In the meantime, I still have a few rooms of curly unbulbs to deal with when they burn out.

AlphaLiberal said...

So, Ann, do you make any effort whatsoever to save energy?

A lot of people forgot the energy crises of the 1970s and how we pulled together as one country to conserve. We did so effectively and that broke the oil cartel's grip.

Well, our super-sized energy appetite is causing a lot of problems. From energy reliance on hostile regimes to structural trade deficits to mercury pollution and water consumption from coal plants.

But today, for some reason, conservatives are now against conservation, of energy, of our environment. You go to ridiculous lengths in this regard.

Anything to piss off the liberals, I guess.

Drew said...

But today, for some reason, conservatives are now against conservation, of energy, of our environment.

I have no problem with conservation. I liked "environmentalism" back when it was called "ecology." Now it's an 'ism' with all that implies. In fact, it's practically the state religion.

So I don't want the government forcing us to be Greenists any more than I want them forcing us to be Baptists. If conservation is a good idea, sell it in the marketplace of ideas. And don't require me to support this religion with my tax money.

AST said...

I thought he was all about turning the lights down low, strangers in the night and doing it his way. Doo-doo-bee-doo.

And who ever called him "Old Blue Eyes?"

Actually, I don't think of him as incandescent, because I he was a crooner. Incandescence is another word for bis when light is emitted by something made extremely hot by some force like electricity. If you want an incandescent singer, I'd pick James Brown, the hardest working man in show business.

Fluorescence is a different process as are LEDs and lasers.

Nobody has come up with a fluorescent flood light or spot light, although I wouldn't be surprised if there are LED lights that could fill the bill. Was Sinatra singularly light emitting?

Aw, crap! I just reread this and realized I'm up too late again.

Craig McNamara said...

Whenever I think of fluorescent bulbs, I think of the beginning of that forgotten Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie, "Joe Versus The Volcano," which opens with a pale, sickly Hanks toiling under the buzzing fluorescent lighting of some soul-sucking factory job.

Deconstruction on Madison Avenue
(A light-hearted blog on advertising and pop culture)
http://craigmcnamara.blogspot.com

SWWBO said...

I use incandescent bulbs to heat my chicken's coop and hen house in the winter - fluorescents don't do that.
Heat lamp bulbs are horribly expensive and put off more heat than I, as a farmer, need.

Unintended consequences - eggs are going to cost more because chicken coops and hen houses need heat in winter.

Maddad said...

How long would it take to cook a chocolate cake with a CFL?

Fat Man said...

And he loved the limelight.

Incandecent vs. Flourecent is a dead horse. They both will be replaced by LEDs and future generations will not understand what we were talking about.

melanerpes said...

Incandescence is thermal radiation, and so has continuous spectrum. Fluorescence is quantum radiation emitted when excited electrons relax to their ground state, and so has discrete (line) spectrum.

It is the difference between the roar of a multitude and the chirping of a clutch of sparrows.

Greg F said...

AlphaLiberal wrote:
So, Ann, do you make any effort whatsoever to save energy?
Like me Ann is in to the heating season. Now unless the laws of thermodynamics have been repealed CFL's inside the house will not save any energy. The extra energy an incandescent bulb produces is energy the heating system doesn't have to supply to keep the house at the desired temperature.

Karen said...

Two things (serious complaint first): My sister-in-law has epilepsy that has gotten worse over the years. CFLs make her shudders worse. On a lighter note, when we first started renting our current apartment, the nursery had CFLs and the walls looked a sickly pea soup version of yellow and the dimmer didn't dim the lights. Now that I put in incandescent lights, the walls are a lovely soft yellow and I can check on my daughter without turning the lights all the way on.