Me: Have you ever sneaked into a movie?
Fui: Sneaked? Don't you know how to speak English? The past tense of sneak is snuck.
Me: Um, if you say so. I guess I misspuck.
Remember these two long-ago folk singers? Better known this century as John and Moira Rose, they figure in a new article I've written called Up the Creek. It spans 46 years of media history, and right in the middle of that span we'll open up a TV control room where I think I worked.
SEPTEMBER 25, 2021 PRO vs AMATEUR STUDIES
Don't believe what the government tells you about the vaccines! shout the conspiracy theorists. Those injections don't work, and they'll poison you. Do your own research!
I have done some research in my time. In an academic physics laboratory, my partner and I measured the charge on an electron as 174 attocoulombs. (We were wrong, of course; the correct number is 160.) Then at a cable TV station, I confirmed that the viewers of Sheriff's Report tended to be older men. (Also, one out of six subscribers admitted to watching our local country singer Smiling Eddie.)
But doing my own research on a vaccine would be a much bigger task. I'd have to earn a graduate degree, spend a million dollars, and recruit thousands of volunteers to test the vaccine's effectiveness and safety. When anti-vaxxers say do your own research, that's not what they mean.
What they really mean is watch your favorite news channel or go on The Internet, ignore the professional opinions of actual medical researchers, and adopt instead the crazy opinions that I want to believe.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2021 MANDAWHATTIAN?
One of the favorites going into last night's 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards was The Mandalorian, with 24 nominations. It won a grand total of zero.
I'm not really familiar with The Mandalorian. I've occasionally encountered the title, ever since Season 1 was released with the launch of Disney+ in 2019, but I had no idea what it meant. (I did see the first Star Wars movie when it hit theaters 44 years ago, but I'm slightly older now and I've lost interest in that franchise.)
Ten years ago, I quoted from the blog of Pittsburgh's John McIntire. Here are excerpts:
What is capitalism, if not class warfare? The poor are trying to get rich. The rich are trying to get richer. Class warfare is built into the system! It's called human nature. It's called greed.
The rich are richer than ever before compared to the rest of us. So we want them to pony up some more so we can survive. What's wrong with that? They're still going to be rich. I want the rich to be around so that when we need money, we know where to find it. Welcome to the Willie Sutton School of Economics.
If we're a democracy and most of us happen to be poor, why can't we tell the greedy selfish minority what to do? But because they've duped so many of you into believing one day you'll be rich, you join forces with the wrong side, and the rich get richer, and, well, you know the rest.
I wake up after having fallen asleep in front of the TV. With bleary eyes, I check the clock on the wall.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 BACK TO SCHOOL
Above is a glimpse of how I looked when I joined more than 600 other young people enrolling at Oberlin College. During freshman orientation, 56 years ago on this very Friday morning, I wrote my first letter home.
My proud parents saved all my letters in a drawer. In due time the Internet was invented and I inherited the saved letters. Thus I've been able to post nearly 15,000 words and some pictures to this website, chronicling the weekly details of my college career.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2021 A WORRISOME PERSPECTIVE
Americans should get the COVID-19 vaccine, not only to protect ourselves but also to protect others whom we might infect. And we're told that until 85% to 90% of us are vaccinated, the virus is likely to continue evolving new variants that may be better able to evade our defenses.
Our puny efforts here aren't going to change the world, especially the regions where the virus has free reign. And due to global travel and commerce, as new variants emerge over there, there's little to prevent them from coming over here.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2021 COME ON IN, BUT DON'T ENTER
Across the river from where I live is a shopping plaza. If you look carefully at the right edge of this photo, you'll see a sign inviting you to ENTER HERE. But as you start to make the left turn, you're confronted with a big red sign ordering DO NOT ENTER. Which is it?
I shamelessly ignore the latter sign every week. Actually, of course, it's meant to ban wrong-way drivers from the exit lanes farther to the left. It could be better placed or better worded.
If I were the guy in charge of signage instead of just some persnickety local fellow with a computer, I'd arrange things this way. Much more welcoming.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2021 ISN'T "LIMU" EDIBLE SEAWEED?
Insurance commercials need amusing mascots. Otherwise they have nothing to say besides their claim to save you money.
But what should that mascot be? The folks at GEICO, tired of hearing their company name mispronounced as if it were GECCO, decided their spokesman should indeed be a gecko.
But the vowels aren't correct! The i in Liberty is a short i. The u's in Mutual are not oo but rather yew. The same goes for the u in emu, at least the way Australians pronounce it.
If the mascot's name were pronounced more like Lemuel, I would've caught on sooner.
Four years ago, Dirks day job took him to another city to work for Crains Cleveland Business, and he moved to the Chagrin Falls area in eastern Ohio. But he continued to make the two-hour drive back to Pittsburgh (where his wifes family lives) for most of our home telecasts.
He also made the time to spend with his two teen-age sons and their sports teams. And he found yet more part-time work closer to his new home. He operated the score bug for a few Cleveland Indians games. On July 27 of this year, he finally achieved a long-time dream: televising a no-hitter. Ervin Santana of the visiting Angels didnt allow a hit in defeating the Indians that afternoon.
Last Thursday, the Pirates were playing a single 4:05 pm game at Pittsburghs PNC Park, rescheduled from an earlier rainout. I wasnt going to be there, as I had a prior college football commitment, but Dirk was driving in to run the score bug as usual.
How quickly a friend can be taken away from us! A week later, I still dont know what to say. So let me quote from some of the online condolences.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2021 LOSING AN "IC," ADDING AN "S"
America has two major political organizations, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. But for some reason, when members of the former speak of the latter ...
What happened to the democratic ic? To me, this seems like intentional disrespect. It calls for retaliation in kind.
So listen up, Republans! When you're confronted with something you don't want to do, why do you immediately object that your freedoms are under threat?
According to PZ Myers, members of the Republan Party can't say their freedom [singular] is being taken away, since they aren't about to be enslaved. They aren't going to jail. They don't even seem to suffer any consequences. But putting that s on the end somehow implies a numerous and unspecified set of privileges are being taken from them. Those icky Republans!
SEPTEMBER 3, 2021 ZEROTH DOWN ON THE ZERO
Western Pennsylvania high school football has returned for its 108th year, although at least five schools (Butler, Beaver, Riverview, Westinghouse, and Hopewell) have canceled games scheduled for tonight due to multiple COVID-19 cases.
One week ago, local television screens brought us North Hills at Mars. As the teams lined up for the season's opening kickoff, I noticed that the Martians (no, they aren't really called that; they're the Fightin' Planets) had extended a generous welcome to their guests. On the TV scorebug, North Hills had been spotted 24 points!
A closer examination revealed that 15 minutes remained in the 12-minute first quarter, and the situation was 2nd down and 18.
Undoubtedly I was seeing a rehearsal version of the bug, never intended to make it to air. (The points were a reasonable prediction; North Hills ultimately won 37-0.) After the first play from scrimmage, the scorebug was flown off and replaced by the actual live 0-0 score, and all was well.
Except, that is, for a minor oddity. The white box to the right of the clock occasionally read FLAG, but otherwise it always displayed down, yards to go, and yard line even if those numbers had not yet been determined.
The last time I was involved with high school football graphics (three years ago), if we were still waiting to see exactly where the ball was going to be spotted, we weren't forced to guess. We didn't have to display 2ND AND 3 ON 47. We could temporarily say simply 2ND DOWN.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2021 ABANDONED?
In the last two months, a massive effort by the U.S. military evacuated 123,000 people through Hamid Karzai International Airport, including about 6,000 Americans. But a much smaller number of Americans, maybe 200, are still in Afghanistan, some by choice and some because they were unable to get to the airport.
Ellen Carmichael tweeted on Monday, Really galling to consider there are hundreds (if not more) of Americans and American allies knowingly left behind enemy lines, praying they won't be brutally killed, and not one member of the Biden Administration has even RESIGNED, much less been fired, over it. Absolutely disgusting.
However, those left behind had months of forewarning to flee. Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post writes that the State Department sent one notice after another containing dire warnings to Americans, imploring them to consider the coming pullout. A State Department communication warned on April 27, U.S. citizens wishing to depart Afghanistan should leave as soon as possible on available commercial flights. Many Americans ignored these warnings.
I don't want to seem cruel and uncaring, but if you're told to evacuate because of the approaching Taliban or the wildfire or the hurricane or to get vaccinated because of the virus and you refuse to comply, in most cases that's on you. You're responsible for whatever happens.