SEPT. 19, 2019 YOKAY?
The most common single line of dialogue in scripts seems to be the question Are you okay? I hear it in every movie and TV program. In the final season of The Big Bang Theory, I counted four times in Episode 14 when someone asked Leonard whether he was all right. Usually it was because he had sneezed rather violently. Allergies.
Every show, whether comedy or drama, has at least one moment in which a character suffers an emotional or physical misfortune. (If there were no problems, there would be no story.) Another character sees the first character groaning in anguish and solicitously asks, Are you okay?
Despite the frequent appearance of that line in scripts, I don't remember hearing it often in real life. Well, there was one time, if high school can be considered real life.
It's also preferable to simply ignoring someone's suffering. An Australian suicide-prevention organisation is called R U OK?
I was just reviewing tomorrow nights starting lineups for the Latrobe High School Wildcats. According to the official roster, the defense includes nose guard Thomas Dovie and strong safety Donato Lonigro. However, theyre better known as T.J. Dovie and D.J. Lonigro.
Many young men these days call themselves something J. Can we assume J is their middle initial? Does J stand for Joseph or Jefferson? No, more likely J stands for Junior.
A couple of years ago, T.J. Beam pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His formal name was Theodore Lester Beam, Jr., so he should have gone by T.L. instead of T.J. But I suppose his father was known as Ted, so people called the new little boy Ted Junior. That soon became T.J., and that stuck.
Among Juniors, this is still a fairly limited phenomenon. Otherwise, we'd have celebrities like K.J. Griffey the baseball slugger, V.J. McMahon the wrestling entrepreneur, and D.J. Fairbanks and L.J. Chaney the late movie stars. Famous racecar drivers would include D.J. Earnhardt, A.J. Unser, and A.J.J. Foyt. In the Seventies, our President would have been J.J. Carter. President J.J.? That would have been dyno-MITE!
SEPT. 13, 2019 THE HIGH LONESOME SOUND
On this date 108 years ago, what was happening in western Kentucky?
Another town, just three miles from Livermore, has a puzzling name. Now I can reveal its source. My article is titled Marooned in the Bluegrass, and it's mostly about old bridges.
Many car keys come attached to a fob containing a little radio transmitter. At the press of a button, you can remotely unlock your cars doors.
Shut your mouth. Radio waves dont behave like that. They don't bounce off your body; they are absorbed by it. They dont reflect off anything inside your mouth (except your dental fillings, which only scatter them in random directions). Instead, they soak into your head, as we've learned from the alarmist warnings about cell phone radiation.
Yet some people insist that their fobs work better at chin level. Could this be? If so, is there a non-bogus explanation?
To automobile stylists, the beltline is the base of the windows. Above the beltline is the greenhouse mostly glass, through which radio waves easily pass. Below the beltline are fenders and door panels mostly steel, which radio waves dont penetrate.
But if you hold the fob at your beltline, as the man is doing with his left hand, youre holding it below the cars beltline. The radio waves dont have a direct path to the receiver. (Nevertheless, theyll probably get there by a roundabout path if youre not too far away. Maybe theyll first reflect off the underside of the cars roof and then bounce around the interior for awhile.)
Take it from a physics major: your mouth can redirect sound waves, but not radio waves. Unless you're an android, of course.
I'm watching a PBS documentary about Bakersfield country music (Merle Haggard, Buck Owens). The backstory: Okies packed up their cars to flee the Dust Bowl for California.
SEPT. 4, 2014 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
You claim that people evolved from apes, millions of years ago, says the creationist. But if the monkeys turned into humans, why are there still monkeys? Huh? Answer that one. You dont have an answer, do you?
No, I have another question. If our family is descended from Scottish people who emigrated from Scotland to the New World two centuries ago, why are there still Scotsmen today? Huh? You see, some Scots became Americans, but not all of them.
Clearly, not only have the people at Answers in Genesis not read their biology textbook. The people at Answers in Genesis have not even read Genesis! At least they havent read it beyond the story of Noahs flood.
Scripture clearly does not delineate Gods insistence on a single, exclusive union.
Therefore, Answers in Genesis, has God commanded his people to restrict their sexual activity according to the standards of 18th-century America? The way youd prefer?
No, he has not. The answers are in Genesis.
SEPT. 1, 2019 NONLINEAR REPORTAGE
An inverted pyramid is an eye-catching building. But the term means something else in journalism.
However, if the tale of an athletic contest is written in this manner, I get confused. I want to be led through the game step by step. How did it begin, then what happened, then how did it finish? That's hard to reconstruct if the story starts at the end.
Last week in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost 6-5 at Philadelphia in 11 innings. Let's analyze the game story from the next morning's online edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Now we've accounted for all the scoring, so there, in the middle of the game, the story ends! Wouldn't it be better to tell the tale in chronological order, as indicated by the gold line? Ah, what do I know?
AUG. 29, 2019 LESS IS BETTER
I follow a pair of critics who enjoy watching movies, but not forever. Apparently they think a good length for a motion picture would be about 80 minutes. One was planning to attend a revival of Gone with the Wind until he realized that the film runs 221 minutes, or four hours including the overture and intermission.
On television, I don't understand why documentaries need to consist of 690 minutes spread over five nights. The Civil War by Ken Burns was worth it, but most aren't.
Most of us in TV sports feel the same way. Although the director and the sponsors are hoping for an exciting nail-biter that goes into triple overtime with a lot of strategic time-outs, the production crew is rooting for a laugher. We want the game to end quickly so we can all go home.
Three weeks ago, Mark Vidonic posted, Today I had the shortest event I've ever worked. A six-inning Little League game: 1 hour, 6 minutes. In layman's terms, that's one inning of a Yankees/Red Sox game.
Other expeditious competitions? Matt Wolff commented, Bowling is the short sport of champions. (A two-person bowling match takes only about half an hour per game only 24 balls if they roll nothing but strikes.)
That's why I loved working volleyball, added Troy Wright. (A women's match decided in a lopsided two sets might require only 60 points and scarcely more than half an hour.)
I've happily worked both of sorts of telecasts myself. Even when I'm merely watching from home, I get bored with baseball halfway through. For auto racing, I much prefer a two-hour Formula 1 race to an endurance test like NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600, which took almost five hours to complete this past May. Cut to the final chase!
But if a trucker on the lower roadway wants to turn onto the upper one, how does he get up there? And when he does, will he have to stop and wait for the cross traffic to clear?
Another hazard is the conflict point at X, where a motorist may cut off our trucker. She's descending a different ramp, and after merging she needs to switch to the left lane because she doesn't want to exit. Meanwhile our trucker does want to exit, so he must reclaim the right lane. These maneuvers have to be accomplished within a short weave zone, the hundred yards from X to 2. There's a non-zero probability of sideswipes at the bridge.
A better solution has recently been introduced, the Diverging Diamond Interchange. The first DDI in this country opened only ten years ago. At last count, there are now 140 finished or under construction, with an equal number in the planning stages.
The primary road is for high-speed straight-ahead traffic; in the diagram below, we've colored it tan (eastbound and westbound). On the other road, slight curves and traffic lights may be allowed; we've colored it yellow (northbound) and blue (southbound).
Before the secondary road crosses over the primary, northbound lanes and southbound lanes switch sides. How British of them! This arrangement allows their ramps (gray) to turn right and left without encountering oncoming traffic.
At the diamonds, northbound and southbound do need to time-share the pavement by stopping for red lights. But each signal is red no more than 50% of the time, because there's no waiting for left-turn-on-green traffic to get out of the way.
At first glance, this diagram appears to depict a lot of confusing options, but really you have only two (other than continuing straight through). If you're on the expressway, you can first choose the right-hand exit ramp, then choose whether to turn north or south. If you're on the yellow/blue road, you can either choose the right-hand lane to turn right onto the expressway, or later choose the left-hand lane to turn left onto the expressway.
I've recently learned of an improvement to the DDI. Provided that enough land is available, simply raise the yellow lanes higher than the blue ones to make a Double Crossover Merging Interchange! Northbound traffic can cross over southbound traffic at each diamond, so no traffic lights are required.
AUG. 23, 2014 I'LL TAKE SPORTS FOR $200, ALEX
Chyron, the company that manufactured the character generator, provided a font library for their machine on 8-inch floppy disks. A few dozen styles were available. Some were offered in only one size, but there were several that came in five different sizes, providing flexibility.
One of those, called Korinna Bold, caught our eye. It was a fresh, relatively new font; the modern version had been introduced only ten years before. It had some flair, with the distinctive shapes of the P and the N and especially the U, yet it was sufficiently bold for sports television. So we chose it to build the full screens and lower thirds that wed need for baseball. Our new look premiered on a road game on April 6.
Unfortunately, by the time the team returned to Pittsburgh, the network was out of business, and our graphics package was never seen again. More details are here.
That same year, however, a long-running game show was being updated with a new host and a new look for syndication. And the producers made the same Chyron choice that Betsy and I had made.
Thirty years ago next month, Alex Trebek introduced Jeopardy! with the clues given in Korinna. The fonts still there three decades later. You cant keep a good idea down.
Here are some other notes.
Korinna was also used for the intertitles and closing credits on the 1993-2004 comedy Frasier.
Ken Jennings claims that when he had his winning run 10 years ago, the name of the show was still pronounced jee-OP-ur-dee.
And why is it called Jeopardy anyway? Alex could say, I told you that on the very first program, when I explained how the game is played. Werent you listening? Do I have to repeat the rules every 30 years? (You're in danger of losing some of your winnings if you give an incorrect response, and Jeopardy was considered a more intriguing title than the original What's the Question?)
The other day, I was dining in a restaurant when a man with three young sons was shown to the table next to me. One of the boys was an infant dozing in a car seat; the other two were ambulatory.
The middle child considered himself too grownup for a highchair. His father helped him up onto a regular chair, but he warned the boy he'd have to sit still. Of course, he didn't. Within seconds he was trying to climb over the back. Then he fell off. He wasn't hurt, but he began crying for his mommy.
To my surprise, the father stood up, picked up the sleeping basket case, and led the other two boys back to the restaurant's entrance.
Now I've often heard parents in public places admonish their unruly kids, If you don't behave, we're going home! But this was the first time I'd seen the threat actually carried out. And so promptly, too! No second warning. No this is is last time I'm going to tell you.
Alas, Dad didn't leave. He had just gone to fetch a highchair, as well as his wife, who apparently had been parking the SUV.
When the family reconvened at the table, the mother tried to insert the middle boy into the highchair. Predictably, he resisted. No! Don't want to!
You see, that's the problem with kids today. We try to make them happy by catering to their every whim. What do you want to drink? Do you want orange juice? Apple juice? How about some chocolate milk? The kids begin to feel entitled to have their desires always accommodated.
Why give them a choice? Can you always get what you want? You can't always get what you want.
Just tell them, We're serving orange juice, and that's it, whether you like it or not. If you don't like it, you can just go thirsty. What's that? You don't want orange juice? You don't want to sit in a highchair? WHO CARES? Listen, kid, we're in charge of this family, not you.
End of rant from childless old codger.