3/30/2016
The Kim Ye-won spacetime aberration

It's ten to four in the afternoon and traffic is already terrible along the South Luzon Expressway. "But of course," I mutter to myself. "There is no such thing as rush hour anymore." That, and trucks are plying the route, although there never really are a lot of trucks along this highway when the sun is up.

For some reason the car's audio cable wasn't around, but I was still winging it. I want to listen to a radio station that's not from where I am. So, off to Monocle 24 I go, my phone playing it out loud even if the results will never be as good, turning it up just as my copy of Mamamoo's Melting finished. (Okay, it's our copy. The first thing Shalla and I own together. It had to be a Korean pop album.)

Traffic had really slowed down now. Could it be the idiots blocking the entire highway just to exit to Bicutan? Or Sucat? It has happened before, many times - a regular occurrence, actually. Ah, well, at least the stream isn't dropping, although I'd really rather be sleeping now.

This song from another Korean girl group went on. GFriend is this six-piece trading on their innocent images and their insane choreography; their third single, "Rough", became a really big hit in South Korea at the start of the year. Double-digit wins on music shows, that sort of thing. Also, I have grown to love that song, although it's mostly, likely, because I played it on repeat on YouTube just to figure out the choreography and feel inadequate in the process.

Surprisingly, however, the song was played at a slower speed than usual. Around a quarter slower, a third slower. It was just, well, weird.

"Could it be because of the traffic?" I thought. "Is the traffic really bending time so badly it's slowing down what's playing on my phone?"

And then I remembered it's not the first time it's happened.

I leave the radio on now, when I sleep. Well, actually, it's an iPad, a hand-me-down, with the speakers softly playing whatever radio station I was streaming that night. I never thought I'd be the kind of person who prefers to sleep with some sort of background noise on. Nothing too noisy, but some background noise, a constant stream of sound. I don't want to be alone with my thoughts as I go to sleep. Me being sleepy and alone, relatively - that is never a good combination, I'll tell you that.

I set my alarm this morning for half past three. I was going to drive my father to Merville; he's going to Ilocos with his father and brothers. I woke up just a minute before that. The exact moment I opened my eyes was the exact moment GFriend's "Rough" started to play, but I swear the song was playing a little faster than usual.

I should know. I have been listening to that song on repeat. It's the whole K-pop is a respite thing I mentioned a few essays back. That, and it is actually a good song, a pop song built properly - although, as I argued over on the music blog, it follows the template of the girl group's two previous singles down to the bone.

I tried sleeping again, but that little speed change was bothering me. And then the alarm sounded off, and that was it. I could never sleep again.

"Could it be because I'm so sleepy?" I thought. "Is my sleepiness really bending time so badly it's speeding up what's playing on my tablet?"

Buddies - that's what GFriend fans call themselves - really have a thing for the group's insane choreography, and especially, their similarly insane ability to pull it off perfectly. The group appeared on this Korean show once, and they were asked to dance to "Rough" at twice the speed. They, well, did well, so much so that some fans could not listen to the original now, because it's too slow. But at least you know it's faster, and you know by how much. This? That?

Well, I was bored. Traffic's terrible and all.

Inevitably I've been watching a lot of clips from Stephen Colbert's The Late Show. I've been a fan for a while now; even have both of his books. Well, "his" books, seeing as he's written those in character. He's funny and sharp, but he's also keenly interested in a lot of things; you wouldn't expect his contemporaries on late night to frequently host politicians, authors, historians and scientists. It was through his (second) interview with theoretical physicist Brian Greene that I understood the whole kerfuffle about scientists confirming one of Albert Einstein's theories a hundred years after he posited it.

Einstein theorized that - okay, forgive me, I am paraphrasing; I will be wrong - when two bodies interact, it causes reactions to the fabric of spacetime, very minute ripples that could change the way we perceive things, albeit in very minute, not-noticeable-at-all ways. Scientists recently figured out a way to measure it, and they detected those gravitational waves. So, there's that. The world is wide open again.

"Could it be I'm in the middle of a gravitational wave?" I thought. "Is that enough to bend time so badly it's affecting what's playing on the radio?"

A Doctor Who-ish answer to a real life question?

Maybe not. The next song they played was another K-pop song - Girls' Generation's "You Think", one of Monocle 24's very obvious go-tos, or I've been listening way too much - and that was also slower than usual. Also a quarter slower, a third slower.

Suddenly I remembered one of those things I learned when I decided I'd become a radio geek, to no avail. Some radio stations would speed songs up by a little bit so the whole thing would sound pacier. Or, well, so they could squeeze in more songs. Or ads.

But that can't be what they're doing, in this case. They're way too refined for that.

It's more likely they slowed down the song so they don't have to fill a few awkward seconds before they go to the news at four o'clock on the dot. They pulled that off. No awkward waffling; just the end of the slowed down song, a jingle, and the news.

It sounds very, very weird, though. I should know. I am being weird right now, suddenly being enthusiastic about K-pop despite what I said years before, and then spouting things of interest to nobody.

And don't get me started about Mamamoo.

And your responses...

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