My Pal Puddy | The Far Corners

My pal Puddy listening to patriotic songs in his office.

Hello my dear readers! Again I have been negligent in keeping up with my audio travels but I think if you watch Channel One you know exactly why it is important not to visit your audiophile friends all over the world right now. I have been spending time at home and I continue to listen to great music on my vintage system. The days are long but the music is still flowing like a breeze from the Caspian through my humble abode in the exclave. One exciting development in my recent life started with an unexpected phone call from a very old and now very famous audiophile friend from my old neighborhood named Vlad.

Back in the 1990s I used to call him Puddy because he had a secret passion for watching Seinfeld and in the original English if you can believe it. Now he has been working in a top position in the government for over 20 years so he doesn’t allow anyone but me to call him this.

(The nickname stuck not because Puddy resembles the recurring character on the television show but because his voice starts to sound like the beloved American actor Patrick Warburton when he becomes very angry at our teasing him for liking Seinfeld.)

Words by Modest I. Predlozheniya

Puddy called me because he said he was bored and he was calling me to help him rekindle his love for audio. He had been working on an international project for over four years but it did not succeed and now he is trying to find a new hobby. “I have been spending more time listening to my audio system,” he told me. “But I have been busy for so long that all of the technology is so new that I do not know where to start!”

“Which streaming services have you tried?” I asked.

He sounded confused by my question. “Streaming services? My doctor put me on Flomax many years ago and I have not had any problems with streaming…”

“No no no my friend,” I interrupted, knowing in advance this is a man who does not enjoy being interrupted. “I am talking about digital streaming services for playing music through your computer.”

“Oh,” he replied. “I think I know what you’re talking about now. Many years ago my top audio men brought in a huge hard drive that was full of my favorite music. But it was too big and in the way so I had to hide it in a broom closet on the fifth floor of my home.”

“Everybody stores their music in the cloud now,” I tried to explain. “You see, the ‘cloud’ is a—”

It was Puddy’s turn to interrupt me. “My friend, I know all about your cloud.” With a sinister edge, he added, “You can trust me on that.”

The American audio writer Nan Pincus.
The American audio writer Nan Pincus

Nan Pincus to the Rescue

Fortunately, my dear readers, I am not just a Part-Time Audiophile staff member but a true fan as well. I read all of the reviews. I was particularly interested in Nan Pincus’ review (linked here) of the Primephonic streaming service for classical music and while I was reading it I couldn’t help but think that Puddy should immediately sign up. He is an avid classical fan and partial to a wide and varied group of composers such as Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky and Borodin and Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky and Balakirev and Shostakovich, but he is also partial to the patriotic songs and echoes my love and respect for Eduard Khil even though Puddy will tell you that he was a fan long before I was.

(It is not a particularly smart thing to call Puddy a liar so I will merely tell you under my breath that I have known a love for Eduard and his amazing and clear voice longer than anyone I know and I will leave it that.)

I suggested Puddy read the article from American writer Nan Pincus and perhaps even subscribe to the Primephonic streaming service if he enjoyed what she wrote.

I could hear Puddy chuckle to himself when I said that. “Modest,” he said, “I do not ‘subscribe’ to anything but a wholesome and pure love for Mother Russia. All I have to do is snap fingers and I am premium club member.” Then he hung up the phone, dear readers, and I was left with my thoughts.

Primephonic playing great music from Mother Russia for Puddy.

Your Free Trial Membership Is About to Expire, Comrade Puddy

After two weeks I received another phone call from Puddy. I could hear the excitement in his voice as he told me his adventures with Primephonic since we had last spoke on the telephone. “Modest, I finally understand why the Americans are so fond of the word curate,” he told me with the same nervous tone my father the engineer used just before he would go hunting for vacuum tubes in the forest. (That is a long story, dear readers, but suffice it to say I could view the Ulyanov factory from the roof of my house.)

“Why is that, Puddy?”

That is when Puddy launched into a passionate monologue about his ability to curate his favorite classical music in a way that would suit him and no one else. “I have made my own radio station that plays all this music I want to hear without asking too many questions,” he explained. “Sometimes I only engage the filters for melancholy and energetic and instantly I am hearing my favorite pieces from the Russian greats!”

I started to agree with my old friend that Primephonic was an interesting digital streaming service and that is when he interrupted me. “Modest, I have an idea.”

I am very familiar with those words coming from that voice, dear reader, and it sent a chill up my spine that is usually quite rare outside of Yuribey and Gyda so you know that it was a very cold chill. “Lay it on me,” I said. That is a new hot phrase that the kids in the exclave are using.

“You know I love to listen to Shostakovich string quartets when I am feeling happy, Modest, but what happens when I am feeling blue? The only music that can bring me out of that cold black and empty room that is my soul is patriotic songs of Mother Russia!”

“Yes, my friend. We all feel the same. You know my love for Eduard Khil.”

“Yes, I do, Modest, even though that love is not as deep and abiding as mine.”

There was a long and thoughtful silence before he started over. “I want a streaming service that knows when I am in the mood to hear a song about standing on the deck of a ship and waving goodbye to my friends and family before I head out to the sea and bring back food for our comrades and when I am in the mood to hear songs from women who are working hard in their homes with the children while their husbands are away at sea bringing back food for our comrades.”

“Yes, my friend, that is probably a difficult algorithm but I feel like we will have streaming services that are this intuitive in the near future. And I will stand in line and buy two when that day arrives!”

Puddy was silent again. Then he said, “Near future? Why, we have the technology now!”

Puddy does not enjoy Eduard Khil as much as I do.
Image courtesy of Russia Beyond

The Workers’ Digital Streaming Service

More weeks passed before Vlad called me with news of his progress. “We are building the data base, Modest. It is going much faster than expected since there are only about three or four actual patriotic songs from Russia with endless variations on those themes.”

“Yes, that is true.”

Puddy briefed me on the progress and what his team had been able to accomplish. The software programs and downloads developed by his team had been integrated into his existing system so that he could shout out Shiroka strana moya rodnaya, Mnogo v ney lesov, poley i rek! and a lovely female voice answers Ya drugoy takoy strany ne znayu, Gdye tak vol’no dyshit chelovyek. and his favorite playlists begin.

“Those old recordings must sound wonderful on your system, Puddy. Do you still have that system that was in the newspapers? The one Dimitry used to play Machine Head and you threatened to send him to the gulag and he thought you were serious?”

Vlad chuckled for a moment. “No, my friend. They took that hi-fi out of here many years ago. I don’t know what my system is anymore.”

“Puddy! You do not have a stereo hi-fi system to listen to your favorite music? How does this happen to a man with your power and stature?”

“Oh,” he replied, “I didn’t say that I have no system. I do not know, however, where it is. I just tell the room what I want to hear and the music just starts playing. And it sounds beautiful and perfect every time just like the orchestra is in the room with me.”

“Puddy, what are you talking about my dear friend? You tell the room and music plays?”

“Modest, my friend, I will have to get you one of these for review. It is very difficult to obtain otherwise. You can write about it for that American website, whatever it is called.”

So stay tuned, dear readers, for my upcoming review! I have a feeling it is going to be a rave.