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Awkward Silences: An Audio Treasury

This groundbreaking CD presents for the first time authentic recordings of the fourteen most painful awkward silences in history, restored and remastered for the benefit of future generations! These fourteen tracks present awkward silences ranging from the famous to the utterly obscure, each more unfortunate than the last. Listen in awe to the deathly quiet that greeted a bookstore customer's pathetic attempt to hit on a pretty cashier, and force yourself to hear the dead-air emptiness which met Japanese Emperor Hirohito when he chose to tell an off-color joke at the worst possible moment of World War II. You will be astounded and ashamed as well-meaning people on their first date, misinformed and over-opinionated community college students, clueless TV personalities, celebrated English kings, and even the Christian savior stumble clumsily into silences so awkward that previous attempts to preserve their actual audio have failed for years! For maximum effect, this CD contains only the silences that made the moments they tarnished so difficult to endure; the regrettable comments and actions that caused them have been mercifully removed. A very tiny booklet describing each awkward silence and its ramifications is included!


The Tracks

1) Awkward Silence #7, First Date of Kathy Ransahoff and Lawrence Motta (0:41)

There were no less than eleven pregnant pauses during the dinner which took place on April 11, 2002 at a Cheesecake Factory in Columbia, Maryland between Ransahoff, 24, and Motta, 25. The two had met at a Presbyterian Fun Fair two weeks before. While their first phone chat after that was easy enough, a prolonged meal-based date revealed obvious differences in their personalities, and their mutual shyness compounded countless shortfalls in the conversation. This track reflects the seventh and longest awkward silence, which the daters lapsed into after expressing a mutual admiration for, but not total understanding of, the Matrix sequels.

2) Garrett West is Asked to Describe a Good Customer Service Experience (0:29)

On November 12, 1999, twenty year old St. Louis resident Garrett West applied for a part time holiday position at an Office Depot close to his home. His interview with manager Wade Bettis was uninspired, and plunged into a sudden uncomfortable quiet when Bettis asked West to describe a very positive customer service experience he'd had recently. For a full twenty-nine seconds, West was simply unable to come up with anything, and Bettis was eventually forced to move on to the next question. West was later hired and worked for Office Depot without incident through December 28.

3) Sophomore Sam Tidrow Fails to Understand What a Key Word Means (0:18)

This track represents the silence that ensued at a 1987 Student Senate debate at San Jose State University. When the moderator of the debate, which was broadcast on the campus radio station, asked young candidate Sam Tidrow what he intended to do about perceived nepotism at the campus newspaper, Tidrow paused at length, looking down at his notes and drinking twice from his water glass. After eighteen seconds, it became obvious to the people in the room that he didn't know what the concept meant. He eventually asked the moderator to explain it to him. The damage done by this bungle may have been the deciding factor in his unsuccessful bid to unseat Student Senate incumbent Donna Ruiz.

4) Emperor Hirohito's Good Mood is Expunged, August 6, 1945 (0:10)

Japanese Emperor Hirohito had good reason to be cheerful on the morning in question.. He'd really enjoyed his breakfast very much and had just been told a most amusing ethnic joke belittling the Chinese when his defense minister approached him in the hallway. Hirohito saw the man's long face and decided to immediately relay the ethnic joke to him to lighten his inexplicably dark mood. He got through the entire joke, which culminated with the detonation of an atomic bomb inside the Chinese emperor's underpants, before he realized something was severely up. The defense minister, of course, had come down the hallway to inform Hirohito that the United States had just dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing seventy thousand people. A prolonged, spectacularly strained silence preceded this news, though in his memoirs the defense minister did reveal that he'd found Hirohito's telling of the joke to be "quite concise, and he did the voices really well."

5) New Girlfriend Makes Inappropriate Comment at Thanksgiving Dinner (0:35)

When Steven Bielemann of Bangor, Maine brought his girlfriend of six weeks to Thanksgiving dinner in 1984, he was hopeful that his family would accept and like her. Things seemed to be going well at the typically upbeat and well-attended annual meal when the topic of conversation unfortunately turned to the war in Iraq, which the girl in question, community college student Heather Connell, believed should be resolved by "just telling everyone in the Middle East that you can't have Islam anymore, because it's just so destructive." The Bielemanns, liberal Democrats by nature, could not respond for several moments. Steven Bielemann ended his relationship with Heather after four months.

6) Retail Staffer Suffers in Aftermath of Ill-Advised Flirting Gambit (0:39)

Timothy Brandt had always been looked upon by the staff at the Borders bookstore in Muncie, Indiana as a polite, pudgy repeat customer who could always be counted on to buy all the newest Star Trek novels and engage his favorite cashier, Jennifer Deal, in pleasant and meaningless conversation. That changed on a Sunday in August of 1997 when Deal asked him if he'd like to submit his e-mail address to be contacted about future Borders sales and promotions. Brandt responded, "Okay, Jennifer, but don't you be using it to instant message might get me into some really hot conversation!" Deal's face reddened as she silently prayed for the moment to pass. Sadly, the moment went on for several seconds before she finally told him to have a good day and handed him his change.

7) Television Broadcaster Gaffes in Final Color Commentary (0:11)

A 2003 pre-season professional football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins was the setting for a surprising rushing performance by rookie Bengals running back Ray Cleland. Cleland rushed for a total of 123 yards that night, and he had just broken off a 19 yard run for a first down when play-by-play man Mark Bateley commented on how quick he was, to which his inexperienced color commentator, Dave McCowley, replied, "Well, the thing about the black athlete is that they're just always going to be faster, we see it time and time again.....not as disciplined, maybe, but the speed is what really sets them apart." Following an agonizing silence, Bateley went quickly to scores from around the league, and McCowley resigned from his job without too much fuss a day later.

8) Actor Ryan O'Neal Makes an Odd Suggestion to a Legendary Filmmaker (0:20)

Stanley Kubrick's acclaimed costume drama Barry Lyndon won four Oscars and was named Best Picture of 1975 by the National Board of Review. Kubrick was always willing to politely listen to his cast's suggestions during filming, and one day Ryan O'Neal, playing the lead role in this adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, cornered the director on the set with what he thought was a unique and solid idea: to write a scene that took place on a pirate ship because, in his view, showing a pirate ship in the movie's trailer would get people excited. Kubrick's stony, soundless response is represented on this track.

9) Insufferable High School Dork Speaks Out of Turn (0:14)

Everyone in Michael Needman's period six History of Western Civilization class secretly cringed whenever junior Gabe DeLay's hand went up. The Rochester, New York student often injected long personal anecdotes and irritatingly jokey comments into the class discussions, but he outdid himself on March 6, 1978. When veteran teacher Needman asked someone to tell him what initiated the Great Depression, DeLay shot his hand up and responded, "It was because they ran out of ice cream!" To make this poor joke ten times more painful, DeLay fumbled his words a bit in his rush to be amusing and the comment actually came out, "It was because they ran ouce---they ran out of ice cream!" The cessation of sound that followed seemed to make everyone in the room a little stupider.

10) Charles D'Abret is Informed of Casualty Statistics at the Battle of Agincourt (0:09)

Agincourt was the site of Henry V's greatest military victory. On October 25, 1415, he led an absurdly outnumbered force of English soldiers into battle against Charles D'Abret's massive accumulation of French troops to decide the course of European history. Just before he died in action that day, a bewildered D'Abret asked a water carrier how many men he had lost compared to English deaths. On this CD is heard the embarrassed silence which met that query, after which the water carrier mumbled something about how 5,000 French were dead compared to about 200 on the British side. D'Abret was then heard to say, "Man, how come we suck so bad?" before he was felled with a sword to the chest.

11) An Elementary School Band Underperforms (0:16)

No one expected the first, second, and third graders at Green Creek School in Manitoba, Canada to make anyone forget the New York Philharmonic, but when they finished playing their first piece ("Here Comes Peter Cottontail") at a December 2000 concert before more than eighty parents and teachers, the sheer immensity of their awfulness and lack of musical coordination stunned all in attendance into an extended, shameful hush. Not even pity applause was heard for more than eleven seconds, and most parents saw no choice but to protect their dignity by leaving the concert long before it was over.

12) Jesus Christ Receives No Immediate Answer to a Very Important Question (1:21)

The tragic crucifixion of Jesus Christ did lead to his eventual resurrection and ascendance to the status of Savior, but his death itself was terrible and cruel, made worse by the fact that his penultimate cry of "Lord, Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?" was not met with a satisfactory response from the heavens. While Jesus and all onlookers waited patiently for God to come up with a valid reason for His son's awful sufferings, the quiet really drew out. Thus began centuries of awkward silences whenever religious elders were asked to explain why cruddy things happened to good people.

13) An Obnoxious Fan is Shamed by Transient Failure (2:00)

The Daldry family of Miami, Florida was only too happy to take Uncle Jack along to a Marlins game in July of 1998, even though his vehement hatred of opposing teams sometimes became extremely vocal when he was inebriated, and episodes of alcohol-induced belligerence had often ruined other perfectly good family get-togethers. Uncle Jack's demeanor set a new low standard that hot summer night when, after five beers and two separate ugly arguments with a nearby Mets fan about their past victories over the home team, he drunkenly dropped an easy foul ball which then rolled right into the hands of that same Mets fan. Instantly haunted by the incident, forty-two year old Jack launched into an eerily silent, spectacularly childish brooding fit which literally lasted the rest of the night and genuinely frightened his twelve year old nephew Scotty, who had to sit next to him. His uncle fell asleep in the car on the way home and spoke not a word to anyone until the next morning. The first two minutes of the three-hour awkward silence he brought down on the family which paid for his ticket is presented here.

14) Man's Search for Meaning Draws the Most Awkward Silence of All (10:00)

Since the dawn of time, Man has asked "Why am I here? What is it all for?" In response, the universe has given him no hint of a rational reply; just a whole lot of nothing. The ten minute awkward silence on this track stands for the thousands and thousands of years during which that silence has echoed and reverberated around Man's lonely brain.


CD concept, content, and design copyright 2004 by Soren Narnia