Sunday, February 03, 2008

Random Thoughts

Many years ago, before the four-wheeled behemoths, chrome, tail fins, Edsels, sameness, SUVs, tiny, tinny deathtraps, and hybrids took over the automobile industry, there were grand cars with doors opening in a better way than they do now. I'm referring to the front opening doors in the rear. You know, so they can both latch in the middle of the car. You can see them in action in the older movies. To me, they're much easier to get into and out of. Perhaps the modern day dresses, being shorter and less flowing, make the difference? Perhaps the designers just wanted things uniform? Aerodynamics? 'Must make a change from year to year---any change.' Who knows? But it would be nice to see them again.

I like puns, especially good ones. But, I always worry about people who cringe, groan, and roll their eyes when hearing a pun, no matter whether its good or bad. But they're hypocrites, I say! They may groan, but they really like them. Any chance they get, they'll form their own and bring attention to them by saying: 'No pun intended.' 'No pun intended' my foot. They intend them. And who's the biggest user of puns? No contest. Headline writers for newspapers and online efforts use them all the time, sometimes to draw attention, sometimes because the writer falls in love with his own words. Long live good puns! They're a sign of intelligence---a rare comodity in the average news writer. Please, provide toleration-only for bad puns. But, for the most part, puns take a conscious effort from the speaker or writer, and that's always to be praised.

Imagination in the movies or on TV---from the viewer, that is---is generally no longer permitted to exist. You want death, gore, guts, and blood? Well, they're no longer going to be referred to, they're going to be shown in all their glory. Fade out for a love scene? Not any more. We're seeing all the hot and heavy details. If I want porn, I can go to the proper movie. If I want a story and good acting, I once found it in the movie theaters. Too bad that isn't quite the case anymore. Would old-time radio shows have any adherents today? Would anyone understand them or be able to visualize the storyline? Orson Welles' Mercury Theater version of 'War of the Worlds' would never scare anyone today. A quick check on the Internet would blow the whole thing---unless you check out Area 51.

Now that I think of it, who are 'they?' That's what I've heard all my life. the ubiquitous and undeterminable 'they.' 'They' do this. 'They' do that. [singular or plural] If 'they' can reach the moon, why can't... 'It was the sixties, and they all did it.' And no one owns up to being 'they', whether the contextual precept is right or wrong; so I guess whoever 'they' are, they'll remain in their linguistic limbo for some time yet. 'Chickens! Come forth and identify!'

I'm being turned off by televised sporting events. With all the flashbacks, in-game interviews, instant replays, and annoying graphics, there's little enough time left for the actual game or race. When I tune in, I have no idea what's going on. A guy hits a homer, and I see the thing replayed a dozen times, not to mention the flashbacks to a previous inning, earlier in the year, or previous years--but, then I did mention them, didn't I? How many times can a guy score the same touchdown without confusing the audience? As for the playoffs and all star games? Forget it. I've seen three-ring circuses with less pomposity, garishness, and self congratulation from the advertisers, commentators, and players. And don't get me started on the 'pre-game shows.' Bombastic, condescending, and sometimes arrogant are the usual know-it-all participants. Who can speak [yell] the loudest? Voice-over reaches a whole new level.

Older movies [as I get older, I watch older movies; you know, the 'one time' modern ones] and much current TV often include death and death scenes. But, does anyone talk about them? Noooo! 'Is Mr X dead?' asks the girl breathlessly, through tears of sadness. The doctor either stares at her, starts reciting a lengthy preamble, or gives a gentle nod---the latter being of the type of action that could mean almost anything: Don't ask me; I don't know; I'll call you later; No, he's not dead, he's leading an aerobics class; No, he's gone to better things: taming the 'Ghost Riders in the Sky'; Who are you?; Are you busy tomorrow night? Or what am I doing here? Fade out. Anything but a straight answer: 'He's dead. I'm sorry.'

Why can't TV chefs understand the old kitchen tricks? Do they really think no one could cook before they showed up? Why must they act as if they're the only ones who know how to perform in a kitchen? Case in point: putting oil atop the water being boiled for pasta cooking. History knows that oil calms an angry sea or boiling water. [Sure, it fouls the sea and kills vegetation, but it does prevent the sea from roiling over.] Hey guys! It's not added for flavor, but to keep the cooking pasta and water from boiling all over the stove. Do these 'experts' actually think the average home cook always uses the proper sized pot of water in a professional cooking-staged area, thus preventing a boil-over? I doubt it. So, take heart readers, the TV chefs don't always know what they're talking about when they attack old kitchen secrets, such as our adding of oil for cooking pasta. The starch in the pasta can cause a boil-over if the pot isn't big enough or the amount of water is too small---a normal occurrence in many households.

I wish sporting event promoters would engage talented amateurs to sing the National Anthem before the games or races. The tune demands and expects effort of the highest quality. The so-called professionals and 'stars' generally mangle it, have lousy voices without the electronics, turn it into their own poorly-voiced style, or don't even know the song. 'What National Anthem?' The occasional amateurs usually do a great job. I know it's a difficult song, but the amateurs put effort into the singing of it, while the professionals usually throw it off as a 'photo op' or publicity action.

The word is H-a-lloween, with an 'a', and not H-o-lloween with an 'o'. I was listening to a major TV station newscast about that time, and everyone involved---including the interviewees---pronounced it incorrectly. But, then, that's been the case for years, and all my comments have fallen on hollow ears. And the correct name is Sleepy Hollow, and the headless horseman still tosses a pumpkin on H-a-lloween. Remember, it's 'All Hallow's Eve' and not 'All Hollow's Eve.' Departed souls are not usually 'hollow.'

Words 'they' or 'their' or 'them' are constantly misused as pronouns for a singular noun. My son is not a 'they', but a he, him or in the possessive, his. Your daughter is not a 'they', but a she or her, or hers. Your child is not a 'they' but a him or her. Ability to properly speak with agreeing nouns and verbs is a reasonable expectation from the media, as it is from the average American. It's amazing what vocal errors come out of mouths with the annoying, pure white teeth on the screen. 'Look! See me in the dark!' It really doesn't take too much extra effort to speak correctly---when you know how to do it. [Advertising executives take note.] Sentences can easily be reformed to make the needed point. [Don't leave school early!]

Thus are my random thoughts for today. When my brain gets older and more wrinkly, I'll voice some more.

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