Monday, May 18, 2009

Absent M (2000)

FROM THE ARCHIVES, May 18 - This originally posted on, 6/15/00.


There is an advantage to having chosen a flawed record label name, and this advantage took only ten years to mature. Although half a decade late in landing a web site, at no time was I in any danger of discovering that some 14-year old boy or Dutch pharmaceutical company had already scooped up the domain name. Came time to register, and there was waiting patiently, tapping its tiny foot, casting a forlorn eye on its tiny watch. Recalling the recently spawned All The Good Domain Names Have Already Been Taken industry folklore boilerplate in most major newspaper business sections, I registered, hit return and let fly a wee sigh of relief. An hour later, doubt crept in. Had I settled? Why hadn't some entrepreneur already jumped on this word? What's so wrong with my word that no one wanted it? What, my business name's not good enough??

These are rhetorical questions and some of you may have already eyeballed why... Absent M Syndrome. There aren't many words in the language with defects on a structural level, but I apparently have managed to find one. Of the two M's in "Vermiform", the first is routinely dropped like a corrected typo in the course of day to day human contact. I have a file folder containing a decade of misspelled mail-order envelopes, bank statements, NSF notices and even a letter from my own distributor, to some company named "Veriform" or "Veriform Records". Hesitant production people have left ugly voicemails , Yes, I need to speak with whomever is in charge of accounts payable at... uh.. veriform records?... V-E-R-I-F-O-R-M.

For some reason the second M remains untouched - I've never received a single letter addressed to "Vermifor" just as I've never once been addressed as "Sa". So what gives? What is it about this particular placement of this particular letter? It is a mystery of anthropological proportions. Does my use of M pose some sort of threat, perhaps cause offense? Or is the dilemma rooted in biology? Is there a rogue lump buried deep in our primal brain matter that this seemingly insignificant letter arrangement sends into a hissy fit of misfiring neurons? If so, I have to wonder if the M droppers - folks I have more than once dismissed as microscopic nincompoops - could actually be in some sort of trouble. Could my M Index, quietly tallied over these ten long years (In 1995, for example, mail customers were misspelling on 1:18 scale - by 1999 it was 1 in 12), offer some crucial diagnostic insight into the mad cow disease of the next era? Remember; dyslexia wasn't ID'd as a disorder until printed matter came along. Of the many, many technological advances born just since 1990, it wouldn't surprise me if at least one graham cracker sized new-economy wireless communications gizmo is already covertly disrupting human mental processes, and I wouldn't put it past my two little M's, Experimental & Control, to have cracked a statistical nugget that won't be tapped for another fifty years in the fight against whatever this scourge turns out to be.

And if it's not some sort of bad omen, I hereby demand my Ms back. Enough is enough. I've been more than reasonable with all of you. Time for some answers. There is a "" registered to the List & Data Services Corporation of Arlington, TX, and I have a sinking suspicion they hold the next piece to this puzzle. As of this writing, their site was in hiding, server unlocatable...