Thursday, July 24, 2008

the past past tense

not much humor to be found in the recent court case brewing over the illegal alien who is alleged to have killed a father and two sons and is hiding out in San Francisco under protection of its current sanctuary city laws

but Fox News of course rolls on with its pillaging of the English grammar countryside:

"Can Widow Of Slained Husband, Sons Sue To Overturn Sanctuary City Laws?"

Fox News has introduced us to the past past tense

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

FOX News Grammar Watch

things the Fox News spellchecker cannot detect:

"Jailed Track Star Asks Asks For Help From President"

stuff that would get a junior-high yearbook editor fired, or at least a B- in the class.

...but this isn't a junior-high yearbook, this is a nationally-televised grown-up news network.

i would say that they're in too much of a rush to catch mistakes but with all of the endless re-hashing of news items throughout the day that i see i can't say they have a justification to stand on that particular leg.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

the LOLkid effect

chances are that if your computing experience includes the following two things:

- a pair of speakers, in either stand-alone or headphone variety
- instant messaging with Trillian (the all-in-one app that combines your AIM, Yahoo, and MSN, etc. IM applications)

that you have heard the spirit-lifting peal of a child's laughter whenever you or the person you're conversing with types "LOL" in response to some hilarity-inducing quip that was just sent by the other party

this LOL kid appears, based on multiple observations of mine, to have broadened his reach outside of instant messaging into the medium of film and television (maybe beyond that too; is his pure innocent squeal bouncing off of meteorites as part of a government attempt to contact alien life?)

on more than one occasion i've been watching a movie or tv show and suddenly, "hahhahahahaha", there it is , the Trillian "LOL" kid laughing it up, his young voice hanging in the air above a bunch of kids that just ran by the screen or are enjoying the great taste of Cocoa Puffs or something.

(seems i'm not alone in noticing this phenomenon - this less-lazy-than-me blogger also posted a sound clip of LOLkid, feel free to take a listen)

Crowdspark laments the dearth of actual laughing children available for sound mastering in media

pay no mind that this guy scooped me on the subject by a year and five months

Recent occurrences of LOLkid include:

i saw a pretty weird but good (but really twisted) movie called Oldboy that i recall had some childhood flashback scene where LOLkid made an audio appearance (or maybe it was LOLkid's adopted Korean cousin)

also, most notably and in his most dangerous role, LOLkid pops up in the new Rambo movie as one of several Burmese (Myanamerese? Myanmaran?) village children playing chase amongst the thatched straw huts in happier times - moments before the evil military rides through and blows them all up.

it's just kinda strange - i'm sure, in Rambo let's say, that when they were filming the kids running around and playing the kids were more than likely actually laughing and generally sounding like happy kids. did some grip record over that audio while making a kick-ass mix tape for the cute caterer's assistant?

who knows, LOLkid probably just has a very persuasive agent; trust me, after you've heard LOLkid once you'll find yourself noticing him a lot more often, guaranteed

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


if you watch any amount of evening TBS (and if you have the need to catch up on reruns of Family Guy, The Office, and Everybody Loves Raymond, chances are that you do) you may have seen one or two of TBS' newest marketing venture:

Bitcoms (i think they're called bitcoms, something like that)

basically it's thirty seconds of a comedian/comedienne doing stand-up in front of a small club crowd.

BUT, if you listen closely, you'll notice that it's actually a commercial!

they're real subtle about it though, like the following exchange about I Can't Believe It's Not Butter:

Lady Comic: so i'm eating healthy now; no-carb, low-carb, all-fruit, no trans fat[and so on] [audience laughs for some unknown reason]

Lady Comic continues: but i just can't give up butter [mild joke about spreading it on a roll or something] that's what's so amazing about I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.....[trails off into some minor praise of the product previously mentioned]

the crowd..LOVES it

too bad for them that they don't get to enjoy the full-length actual commercial for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter that follows the bitcom.

up until now, i had absolutely no awareness of any of the 'comedians' who have appeared on this particular entertainment(?). that is, up until now.

Chris 'Kid' Reid was just on, shilling for Sonic. i didn't immediately understand the 'Kid' moniker until i realized i was looking at one half of the previously famous Kid 'n Play duo (current whereabouts of Play unknown), the very light-skinned black guy with the mile-high fade haircut who was on record as having partied during the 90's on several occasions in, or at least adjacent to, a house. (to his credit his current haircut is much more restrained). his whole deal was basically a rhyming talk-song about going to the drive-through and bringing back food to his girlfriend.

i believe the joke was that he ordered cheese on his burger and mistakenly felt that this aspect made him unique apart from others.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

10-4 good buddy

gotta love AM talk radio

in the spirit of the previous post just published, here's a slightly different example of media laziness / distortion that i encountered just yesterday:

turned on , i think, 1560 AM, here in Houston on the way home yesterday and caught the radio guys marveling over the latest batch of Stella Awards, instances
of ridiculously frivolous lawsuits.

#1 was this:

Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, who purchased a new 32-foot
Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game,
having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph
and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to
make herself a sandwich.
"Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and
overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not
putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the
driver's seat while the cruise control was set.
"The Oklahoma jury awarded her - are you sitting down? - $1,750,000 plus
a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result
of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might
also buy a motor home."

of course, a quick search on the internet shows that and the other cases
mentioned to be completely made up:

completely made-up crap read as fact on public radio, which no doubt many people heard, much ire / indignation was raised, and many other people were told about it secondhand.

how do i know? because i was one of those people - i drove straight from work to the Astros game to meet my wife and told her about it. i was sensible enough to say that i hadn't checked out the veracity of what i'd heard but i didn't have the chance to do that until at work this morning; so any people sitting near us at the game might either A) have overheard and be (misleadingly) outraged, or B) know that the case was fiction and think me a moron.

of course there are stupid lawsuits out there filed by greedy lawyers and mouth-breathing "victims" looking to score some quick cash, otherwise we wouldn't have "Caution: do not use hair dryer in bathtub with water", "Caution: Do Not Drink Paint" warnings.

point is that people who spread information to the public (even if it is on measly AM radio) should at least have enough professional self-respect to do an internet search before they start reading as gospel truth some mass-forwarded email that popped up in their hotmail inbox.

purple monkey dishwasher

the title of this post comes from a Simpsons episode where, during a teachers' strike at Springfield Elementary, Bart spreads a rumor amongst a crowd of teachers that Principal Skinner "claims that the teachers are going to crack any minute". this gets whispered amongst the strikers and, in the time-honored tradition of that child's game Telephone, the message gets changed and appended as it bounces from person to person until the penultimate teacher races up to the head striker to announce:

"Skinner says the teachers will crack any minute, purple monkey dishwasher"

i hear and see this all the time on video and radio media (especially AM talk radio) where somebody says something in the news and the media commentator either hears or reads about it secondhand, gets some of the details wrong, and then proceed to get all bent out of shape about the misinformation that they think is unblemished truth and proceed to spread that inaccurate recollection to other listeners, who absorb the commentator's take on the story as fact.

current example might be the Wesley Clark comments on John McCain's presidential bid:

here's an excerpt of the comments he made:
"In the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war.

"He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he has traveled all over the world, but he hasn't held executive responsibility," Clark said. "That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded - that wasn't a wartime squadron."

Moderator Bob Schieffer, who raised the issue by citing similar remarks Clark has made previously, noted that Obama hadn't had those experiences nor had he ridden in a fighter plane and been shot down. "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," Clark replied

AP article on Kansas

so basically Clark is asserting that McCain is saying he is qualified to be president based on his military service and the experiences it provided; that in itself is a debatable claim and as i'm not sufficiently versed on the candidates' platforms i won't agree or disagree with it here.

for terms of discussion here, though, in print and voice media there was an outcry of people against Clark claiming how dare he belittle McCain's service to his country, etc. the "getting shot down" comment seemed to get the most stand-alone observation and if you look at that quote without the context of the rest it does sound a bit snarky. so this ball got rolling that Clark was trash-talking a veteran, which stirs up a lot of instinctive resentment and patriotic outpouring from listeners who A) love their country and/or B) were in the military or had a friend/ loved one in the military at some point.

doesn't seem to me that trash-talking was ever intended; even in his remarks Clark made note to say he praised McCain for his service, he just didn't find it an appropriate reason (if indeed that is what McCain is using as his #1 argument for the chief executive spot) that McCain deserves to be president.

why not address whether Clark's assertion about McCain using "military service" as basis for presidency is true? or compare length and type of public service between Obama and McCain?

(Author's note: I had to struggle to overcome Steven's Banality Interia in posting these questions as a more preferable method of discussion)

gets on my nerves because this type of politic-Telephone game is quite good at derailing and preventing rational discussion that might otherwise move us forward in talks on politics, the economy, global conflicts, etc. i can only hope that the media voices committing these acts are doing so out of ignorance or laziness and not deliberate manipulation for ratings or agenda (but i'm not holding my breath)