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Issue number eleven




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Buy an Acoustic Recorder Today! by Greg Beatty

When we lost the ability to use electronics, I gave up all hope of ever hearing my sister's voice again. After all, she lives almost 100 miles away. But time passes, and humans adapt, even under occupation. This broadsheet, for example, was printed on a mechanical hand press in what used to be a garage.

And from the look of it, most of the components in Alan Jeapes's acoustic recorder used to be parts of other things too. The bellows used to be a hot water bottle, the punch cards carrying the programming are recycled credit cards (all useless now, alas), and the hand crank providing power incorporates gears from an antique handheld drill.

The tubes, however, are original, and they are Jeapes's secret, the thing that makes the acoustic recorder work. Though we rarely think of it that way, the human voice is a wind instrument. Jeapes spends hours with the speaker he's recording, whittling the tubes by hand till they match the speaker's timbre perfectly. He soaks the cords that are strung across the tubes in an herbal mash, and swears they will not only hold their virtue for decades, but that they will tighten with age as do the speaker's own vocal cords. You'll have to buy new tubes for each speaker you want to hear, but the core apparatus will serve to power as many speakers as your heart can take. (See the accompanying diagram for instructions.)

So, whether you have the luxury of paying scrip, or have to barter dried fish for it as I did, buy an acoustic recorder today. The tears that stain this parchment are evidence that the fish, and the charlie horse from pumping, are small prices to pay for the chance to hear family again.

Greg Beatty attended Clarion West 2000. He supports his writing habit by teaching for the University of Phoenix Online. When he's not at his computer, he enjoys cooking, practicing martial arts, and having complex interpersonal relationships. His short-shorts "Disciplining the Furniture" and "Vintage" appeared in Issue #9 of The Cafe Irreal.

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