Sunday, February 05, 2006

Broken Record

More than once lately I've begun to type "sounds like a broken record," then dropped it because the figure of speech doesn't mean anything anymore. Who under 40 remembers what a broken record sounds like? The only people who use vinyl nowadays, as far as I can tell, deliberately play it like a broken record, scratching the disks back and forth. It's enough to make you cringe if you were one of those guys who treasured a turntable as a prized possession back in 1977 or so, jealously guarding it from dust and fingerprints and your kid sister's warped Lobo LPs.

But "like a broken record" remains a handy simile. Nothing quite replaces it. A broken CD? No, with that you get the same tone pulse over and over, a machine gun stutter of sound. A scratched record would skip at the end of a phrase, the amount of sound that fit in one revolution of the platter; if it was a 33 rpm, something about as long as "... sounds like a broken record ::thump:: ... sounds like a broken record ...."