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Craig Wruck: There's room for fun in your perfect world

I’ll stick with real life, even with all its imperfections. Experimenting and failing, practicing and growing, I think that’s the way to live, even if it seem out of step these days.

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Post Bulletin columnist Craig Wruck.
Post Bulletin file photo
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The scene opens with a group of young children, all dressed up in perfect formal attire. It’s a school orchestra playing the opening notes of Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. You might not be able to name that tune, but recognize it as the theme from the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the triumphant background music from numerous videos.

Closeups show the students intently playing their instruments proudly performing for their audience, finally centering on a young girl playing her violin. Badly. Very badly. In fact, even to my untrained ear, this orchestra sounds just awful.

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Cut to a woman, carefully coiffed, perfect in her appearance. She is grimacing, understandably so because the students are exploring new ways to slaughter Strauss’s music. The camera pulls back revealing the perfect woman is sitting behind the steering wheel of a car. As she rolls up the window and reclines her seat, the squalling sound of the young performers is blocked out and she relaxes with a broad smile on her face.

In the final scene the perfect woman is driving while the young violinist enthusiastically yammers about her performance. A smirk crosses the woman’s face as a mercifully perfect sounding orchestra completes the Strauss score.

It’s only a 30-second television commercial for a luxury SUV. Apparently, buying this car will help in my quest for perfection and, when I encounter something that’s less than perfect, I can just roll up the window and ignore it.

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No thanks, that’s not for me. I’ll stick with real life, even with all its imperfections. Experimenting and failing, practicing and growing, I think that’s the way to live, even if it seem out of step these days.

You may not realize, most recorded music today is routinely run through digital signal processing before it is released. This “harmonizer” technology listens to the recording, detects when the musician was a bit off key, and automatically makes a correction. The result is a final recording that sounds perfect. Harmonizers are cheap and ubiquitous. There’s even an app for your smart phone.

That popular song, you know the one that stirs your soul with the pitch perfect vocals? Chances are it’s not just the singer’s talent, but also a bunch of dancing bytes on a silicon chip that made those sweet sounds. Even worse, you are in for a disappointment when you have the chance to hear the song performed live unless, of course, your favorite singer travels with a harmonizer – and many do.

This ruthless pursuit of perfection is spreading like a virus. Computer generated graphics can fix just about any visual flaw. In fact, the brand name software Photoshop has become a verb, as in “We’ll just photoshop that later.”

When actors don’t deliver their lines perfectly, movie makers use something called Automatic Dialog Replacement to fix the errors. Over time, movie goers start to expect that conversations should never be punctuated with “umm” or “ahh” and always flow perfectly without pauses or stutters, even though talking to real people is never that way.

But, back to the children and their orchestra. I hope we will listen and encourage them to be creative and pursue their dreams, even if their performance is not always perfect. Growing up should provide plenty of opportunities to experiment and practice, even fail, while learning and growing. Let’s all celebrate those experiences and never, ever, roll up the window to block the noise. Perfection takes time and work but, as Mary Poppins said, in every job that must be done there is an element of fun. That’s real life.

Craig Wruck describes himself as a relentless optimist. He is a retired college administrator who recently relocated to Rochester to spend more time growing up with his grandson. Send comments on columns to Jeff Pieters, jpieters@postbulletin.com.

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