Heard on TV

  • “I watch that periodically all the time” — unattributed
  • “Nucular” – History Channel, on the nuclear rifle
  • “mangible” – ad for manageable documentation services
  • “physical reform” – AZ Libertarian candidate, pushing for fiscal reform.
  • “measle thelioma” – ad for mesothelioma litigation services
  • Cadillac Escalade – “most important fecal of the year.”

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Captain Memo

Mondegreens, Mumbling, and Mis-speech

Examples of good speakers

In the world of public speaking and narration, not everybody can be a Mike Rowe or Max Raphael.

1) Mike Rowe does the distinct and recognizable narrative for many Discovery Channel shows. His speaking style is characterized by clearly enunciated and animated dialog. Continue reading

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Notes From All Over – or Not

I was reading a New Yorker article about Afghanistan. A successful independent radio and TV network there was said to receive grants from foreign governments and N.G.O.’s. All right, I’ve seen the abbreviation before, but could only guess it meant “non-government organization”. So I was goaded into looking it up on Wikipedia:

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any

There you go. Too bad we can’t Google magazine pages directly. No, I am not getting an iPad.

Getting to “or Not”, I’m always on the lookout for new gas stations on my road trips. I like to get in and out fast, so am willing to try stations a bit to the left of “off the beaten track”. That means making some mistakes, too.

NOT: Shell station, Lebec, California (I-5, on the grade up to Gorman). They boast two stations, a Shell and a Chevron. I tried Shell first. Red flags on all the credit card scanners: “Out of Order. Please prepay at cashier’s.” You know what that means: underpay, and you resume your trip with less than a full tank. Overpay, and you get to make another trip inside, stand in line again, and watch them figure out how to give you your change or modify a debit or charge. SO: I crossed the road to the other station.

NOT: Chevron station, Lebec, California. This one was cleaner and friendlier, but the pump LCD displays were absolutely illegible. I couldn’t get the pump to dispense. I had to go in and see the clerk. This is kind of rare, because I’ve been doing this for over forty years. She asked me if I hit the CANCEL button on my debit transaction when I couldn’t get the gas to pump. No. I had never had to do that before. She asked me if I lifted up the lever under the nozzle handle. Sheepishly: No. The newer pumps do this automatically, and I had gotten out of that habit.

The nozzle still didn’t pump well. I had to milk the handle trigger to get something approximating a full tank. The clerk had been very polite, but it’s not likely I’ll stop in Lebec again.

NOT: Lamont, California (about 10 miles north of Lebec, June trip). This town has one gas station that I could find. All I remember about it (or want to) was that the parking was practically non-existent, and you have to get a key to use the one tiny restroom. I think they were charging about $3.89 a gallon, too. Far be it from me to inconvenience them again.

NOT: Blythe, California (1st offramp).  It seems that I had been to BB Travel Center before, but something had changed, and it was in the air that you breath (or not), not the air in your tires. There are better stations in Blythe for those who can wait the extra few minutes to take the second or third offramp (or just drive across the Colorado River into Arizona and save over 20 cents a gallon). But I had to, well, I was anxious to make a stop as soon as possible. Something wasn’t right about this place. As soon as I opened the door to the “Travel Center”, I was hit with a heavy whiff of the problem. I surmised a pipe must have broken, specifically the one that empties into the sewer system or septic tank.  To my immense relief, it wasn’t in the restroom. There was an old gent eating lunch at a table near the door. The smell was still enough to gag a maggot. The old gent appeared not to notice. That doesn’t speak too highly for the quality of the food fare.

YES: I’m a fan of the PBS’s Poirot series, originally dramatized in Agatha Christie’s mystery novels, which I have never read, but now surely intend to. The PBS TV series stars David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. Suchet does such a delightful job in this unique role, and I never miss a showing if I can possibly help it. Tonight Suchet did a one-hour PBS “Masterpiece” special as himself, not as Poirot: David Suchet on the Orient Express. The Orient Express has been in service for about a hundred years, and ran for most of those years from Paris to Istanbul. Service was extended from the UK after completion of the “chunnel”. It rode for the last time in 2009. The TV show explained how the elegantly restored old railcars corresponded exactly to the passenger seating and sleeping compartments on Agatha Christie’s actual train trip. She got the details down exactly for the famous thriller novel. And David Suchet was as refined and personable as the Poirot character he plays, if not more so. A perfect TV special for train buffs, Christie fans, history hounds and anyone looking for one hour of very solid and informative entertainment.

YES: In that vein, I also enjoy Martin Clunes in Doc Martin, and he did a one hour special last month, in which we again get to be introduced to the actor as a person. Clunes toured countryside and oceanside  settings of England and Scotland, offering a thoroughly delightful hour of personality and travelogue. If you know the TV series, “Doc Martin” is a brilliant physician and means well, bringing to the show a monomaniacal devotion to the arts of healing and diagnostics, and a TV personality as thoroughly and insensitively abrasive as you might have the good fortune, in real life, to be exposed to only once in a lifetime. One desperately wants to like Doc Martin, but his embarrassing behavior is suspiciously like Asperger’s syndrome as one character in the show finally suggested. Somehow, he always gets past that to do the right thing, which is why I like the show. Martin Clunes (actor as a person) is winningly likable and personable. Like Suchet, it makes one appreciate how much real acting skill has been required to deliver to the audience such convincingly eccentric yet brilliant roles.

THE WEATHER here in Phoenix, officially 106F today, “about average” for this day and month. I arrived yesterday afternoon. The shock of walking from the air conditioned car into a 100-degree house is just wilting. A dip in the pool helped, but I felt like I was in shock for most of the evening. What you do, down here, is turn on the AC and let it cool down to 78-84 (78 the first day, to get used to it, and gradually adjust it up during the course of the week). If you shoot for much more than a 25 degree indoor/outdoor differential, the AC will run pretty much continuously, and you’ll pay for that in the utility bill, if not a huge repair bill. What I still can’t wrap my mind around: I can afford to cool the house down to about 80, in the summer, which is warmer than I can afford to heat the northern California apartment up to, in the winter.

Monsoon season is almost here. 10% chance of T-showers this weekend. Yippee!

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Lady Preacher

“And now for something entirely different” …

Joyce Meyer Ministries video. Screen capture.

Joyce Meyer Ministries video. Screen capture.

Good ideas are where you find them.

Below I’ve transcribed segments of a TV video from Joyce Meyer Ministries. No, this sort of thing isn’t typically “my bag.” But I noticed that Joyce Meyer’s observations might be really helpful in a family situation that makes so many of us so uncomfortable.

I tuned in this lady preacher on the TV, entirely by accident. It was on Discovery, one of those channels that carries early morning religious programming before the regular scheduled daily programming.

I listened to most of the Joyce Meyer broadcast (and it takes a lot for me to stay tuned to such broadcasts for more than a second) because she is good.

This likeable lady follows the grand “motivational speaker” tradition of the celebrated “Zig Ziglar” and others in the Sales hall of fame. I don’t always agree with this genre’s tactics. I can admire many effective styles even when I don’t buy into the pitch. And here, the caliber goes far beyond “pitchman” — to state-of-the-art persuasive speech. That she happens to be a preacher makes no difference. While I don’t happen to personally agree with the notion that prayer is the solution to obtaining the happiness and prosperity we crave in life, that makes no difference here either.

So – a personal “first” – I downloaded the broadcast video (Quicktime Pro needed). I transcribed the parts of the presentation that interested me. Perhaps you will find it interesting too. Minutes:seconds times cited below on the quotes are as played on the Quicktime video.

06:42 So Let me say again, you can pray for your family members but you cannot change them.

07:16 No matter how much you want your loved ones to be saved, you cannot make somebody love God. Oh I wish that I could, I wish that I could just unzip people and stuff em full of God and zip them back up and set them loose …

07:42 … but you can’t make somebody love God. And you know what, when I finally realized that, it took a lot of pressure off me. I can’t make somebody love God. Every person has to make their own personal choice.

07:55 And here again I really believe, yes, we’re called to preach to people, and yes, we’re called to share our faith to people, but I think sometimes to be honest we preach too much and we’re not as good of an example as we should be.
I think we just sometimes need to be a better example.

10:33 [Is] God just going around letting all your circumstances rule? … Can I tell you something? Look at me. You don’t have enough time on this Earth to waste it being miserable. Hello? I said we don’t have enough time on this Earth to waste it being miserable.

11:14 No, seriously, you know what? The longer you live the more you realize you don’t have time to waste. I’m not gonna waste any more days being mad. You offend me, I’m prayin’ for you. You hurt my feelings, I’m prayin’ for you. I’m not gonna live miserable any more. … You need to stop worrying about things you can’t do anything about.

At the time of this post, the TV video is listed on the Joyce Meyer Ministries webpage. Look for “10/29/2009 The Power of Simple Prayer”. Archives go back at least a month. Scroll back until you find it. Disclaimers: I’m not religious. As Meyer herself says, you can’t change that. It follows that this is not a forum for debating religious views, but there’s no legitimate reason to disrespect others’ beliefs. If you like, please feel free to use the “Leave a Reply” form on this post to reply with your own impressions of the video or selected transcripts..

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“Whale Wars”

Here is a TV “reality show” where a vessel of foreign registry tracks seagoing traffic, approaches and intercepts, shouts non-negotiatable demands at vessels flying the flag of friendly nations, and hurls stink bombs of butyric acid at those vessels’ crews.

You may be thinking, “Aah, I’ve seen this one, it’s more about those Somalian pirates.”

Unless you’ve watched Animal Planet (Comcast channel 51), you might not realize the ship is American. Vessels of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have had registry denied or revoked by the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.  The Steve Irwin currently plies its trade under Dutch registry. Continue reading

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Television Pandering

PBS ‘History Detectives’ Goes Paranormal

I still happen to think it’s deplorable and even morally wrong for the entertainment industry to pander to unfounded fears and superstitions of undereducated people who, for lack of better grounding in history and the sciences, actually believe in ghosts, monsters, and extraterrestial aliens infiltrating Earth.

This stuff is coming to PBS, but it’s straight out of the History Channel mindset:

PBS History Detectives

As early as the 1870s, Edison and other scientific minds explored psychic phenomena like mediums. They believed every living being was made of atoms that could “remember” past lives.

Did Edison make a machine to unlock the secrets of the dead? The wax cylinders could hold the answer. History Detectives travels to the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park in New Jersey to find out.

The key concept here is the framing of the question “Did Edison make a machine to unlock the secrets of the dead?”

It’s a matter of historical fact that Edison and many of his contemporaries were involved in “paranormal” research. A Google search on ‘Thomas Edison paranormal’ is instructive if you want to take a quick look.

But when a supposedly reputable 21st-century broadcaster asks the carney barker’s question “did Edison raise the dead?”, intelligent people don’t have to click the link and watch the video to find out, because we know a priori he couldn’t have, and therefore didn’t. The real question becomes: if the question isn’t aimed at the intelligent, who is it aimed at? Continue reading

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Curious George

Curious George

Curious George

I’ve remarked before that I often turn on the TV over morning coffee. Nothing demanding – too early in the morning for all that. History Channel often has something interesting.

This being the week before Easter, History Channel is running what amounts to Apocalypse Week. This morning it was catastrophic meteor strikes – extinction events. Overdone as it is, History Channel was trying to link this to biblical prophecies.

Discovery Channel was worse. Some new age lady preacher was yammering on about reaching out and embracing HIM in your life. I would love to know the story behind that slot.

There’s always PBS. Unfortunately for the senior set, the morning hours are pretty much dedicated to the kiddies. Curious George was on.

Curious George came along some time after I was raised. My friends bought Curious George books for their kids in the 70’s. Curious George always offers little learning lessions for the preschool set, but basically, it’s a kids’ cartoon.  It is about as innocuous and undemanding as you can get. I don’t watch it often, or for long. It’s great for doing my eye-drops, eyes closed for three minutes, with only the sound. Honest.

And Curious George was a re-run.

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MonsterQuest Revisited

Some time back, I lambasted History Channel for the revolting “It killed nine of my goats” sensationalism of their MonsterQuest ad teasers. This gosh-all-get-out promotional genre follows closely on the heels of the alien-abductor UFO show of Discovery Channel infamy.

But is nice to back-pedal when you find cause to re-evaluate a harsh stance. When I do my 3-minute eye drops, I can’t read, so I turn on the TV, to which I can at least follow along by listening. I watched MonsterQuest this morning and enjoyed it.

The segment was “Gigantic Killer Fish”, and already you’ll admit the title smacks of promotional hype, but the show didn’t follow that format. It was low-key, evenly narrated – almost like you would expect of a golf telecast – and the show doesn’t “shout at you” like so many of those in-your-face Discovery Channel shows.

The item here is that they are talking about freshwater fish. We all know about “Jaws” and the countless wonderful shows about ocean-going Great Whites, Tigers and Blues. This show was about freshwater Pike, Muskies (Muskellunge), giant catfish, and even whopper lake trout. It turns out that these species can grow, in time, to monster fish about the size of an adult human. They can do serious injury to a fisherman, or drown a swimmer. The show also covered reports of young children disappearing in the Amazon.

One feature I enjoyed was the hooking and landing of a giant Muskie the size of a man. The teeth on this fish are like something out of Jurassic Park. I appreciated the fact this was a catch-and-release operation. After posing with the fish, the fishing and photography crew let it go.

Most of this season’s upcoming segments are more sensational, and I will probably skip them: “Giant Bear Attack”, “Boneless Horror” (giant octopus), “Lake Monsters” (Nessie), Vampires (not the bat variety), and “Giant Killer Snakes”. To tell you the truth, this genre is closer to the reason I skewer TV sensationalism that preys on unreasoning fears, and it’s already been done too many times on too many shows.

It’s nice to know that even a sensational show can turn to a lower-key, fact-based science format once in a while.

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