Saturday, October 30, 2010

AT&T's lack of shame

I'm known relatively far and wide for being a grammar snob; am I crazy to keep up this vendetta? Should I just lighten up?

Happened to have the World Series game three on TV tonight and in passing noticed that the in-game AT&T World Series Trivia infographic read, from what i can remember, pretty much as follows:

"What was the last year in which the American League team won it's first home game of the World Series?"

AT&T is a major company with presumably a large marketing staff. Nobody along the chain, from the junior staff who researched and wrote it to the marketing manager who approved it to the tech guy that programmed it as an on-screen graphic, noticed or cared that they should have used "its" instead of "it's"?

You might say, "I'll bet you none of the viewers who read that sentence noticed or cared either", and I'd say that's part of the problem too.

Proper grammar and word usage, on their own, aren't really a significant issue; what's more important is that "it's" instead of "its" captures a downward trend in the state of professionalism. At one point in time, corporations' marketing arms were judged on both the effectiveness and the polish of their messages; if that goes, what can the rest of society and culture do but start sliding away as well?

Maybe "it's" and "its" don't bug you that much; how about if the trivia read "During the last half of the Rangers' season, how many of they're games went to extra innings?". Where's the tipping point? Do you think anyone in the AT&T brass saw to it that someone was fired or at least verbally ripped up for the written gaffe that millions of baseball fans saw splashed alongside the AT&T logo?

The muddled but sporadically depressing and brilliant movie Idiocracy has several scenes of a radically dumbed-down future in which slack-jawed people endlessly gape at mindless TV dreck and communicate basically in monosyllabic grunts. There are a couple of steps between a few proofreading errors and that reality, of course, but it does all start somewhere..

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back in my day... / Gimme now!

Could just be the thirtysomething in me talking, but I was listening to Adam Carolla's podcast today and in the course of conversation he made a remark about the intersection of youth and modern technology that I instinctively agreed with:

(not a direct quote but close enough)

" You feel a little bit sad for our kids growing up now, that they'll be able to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas in August, and that they won't give a shit about it"

It's really true; there's a certain balance between escaping the needless inefficiencies of the past and the ever-increasing accessibility of the present and near-future and in the end I'm not really sure what is ultimately better.

Back in the 80s and 90s when I did most of my growing up in a world devoid of recording technology there was an air of excitement when CBS rolled out the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. You saw the commercial announcement sometime earlier in the week and mentally marked your Transformers calendar, making sure to speed through dinner on the day of the show in time to plant yourself in front of the TV on time so as not to miss a minute. All bathroom breaks had to be handled during the allotted commercial time; any moment you missed being absent from the TV room would be one you'd have to wait another year to see.

During the golden years of the Simpsons my appointment in front of the TV on Sunday nights at 7 pm was pretty much non-negotiable.

Same thing in the water-cooler Seinfeld era, one of the more prominent last signifiers of the "collective media experience"; if you missed out on the popular show of the moment, you forfeited opportunities to enjoy it the next day a second time in discussion with your friends / coworkers.

Sure, it was all incredibly inconvenient when you look at it from afar - adhering to Entertainment's schedule instead of Entertainment bending to fit your life. However, the introduction of DVRs, iPods (from which I admittedly do enjoy tremendous utility on a daily basis) and all have removed the concept of delayed gratification from the entertainment equation and weakened the sentimentality and sense of occasion one can feel toward a particular experience.

Not going to be home to catch 30 Rock? Just set your Tivo to record it. Forgot to do that ? Just go watch it on Hulu....I suppose this could be a slight caveat as I think Hulu posts new shows a day or two after the original air date, but still a world away from "oh well , see you next year Charlie Brown".

Anything is in reach at any time, which is great to the extent of not being robbed of the chance to enjoy something meaningful/humorous/special but at the same time strips any media from truly belonging to a time or season, a moment in which you feel a bond however slight with a particular community.

Accessibility is a wonderful thing, no mistake - as one example I know that I'm more educated and enriched from many more possible sources than I could have known ten years ago, as a result of new technology's subservience to my go-go lifestyle: I load up my iPod with podcasts and listen on the way to, from, and at work about business and money matters from NPR's Planet Money team, general how-to (from the How Stuff Works guys), and get entertained by the likes of the aforementioned Adam Carolla, Kevin Smith , and others.

So having what I want when I want it or when I can access it has its share of good too, but I realize both its worth and its drawbacks based on my having grown up in a world of relative "without". My son and everyone else in his generation will grow up in an environment where on-demand media is the only existence they will know; telling Adam about my days in footy pajamas waiting eagerly in front of the (analog) television, getting a palpable charge of excitement (then, and even now the tremors swell from deep within my memory banks) from the sights and sounds of the announcing lead-in....

....will be a completely alien concept to him. How do you now effectively explain and instill that value of how having to wait for something, despite its short-term downside, heightens the overall mood of a moment and in the end typically makes for a greater overall experience?

In the end I'm sure this will just be my turn at the "in my day things were better because...", same as how LP records are better than CDs (another innovation of my day that will be an extinct relic before too long), Carson is the funniest late-night host of all time, and so on. I guess my generation is no more exempt than any of the preceding that maybe, this time, what's unfolding in the new landscape is detrimental to the human experience.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

September Adam

Two major breakthroughs in verbage this month!

"Yes" the all-important counterpoint to the more easily-learned and frequent "No"; also replacing the previous whisper-level assertion of "ah!"


child of the age of hip consumer products and commercials: "ah-pah" (Ipod), having recognized our designation of the Shuffle used to play his nighttime music. He even helps unplug it from the charger and plug it into the speakers

The Piggyback Rides Have Begun

Cornering The Elusive Adam-ant

Bedtime Amusement

So Fresh, So Clean

Kids Holding Hands: Registers An 11 On The Cute Meter

Airplane Rides Engender High-Altitude Drool

Playing It Cool In Adam's New Seaworld Gear

Mommy and Adam Cheering on Dad...

...For Kick Saves and Such

Adam Helps Dad With the Anniversary Celebration

Giant Ball!