USE THE VOCATIVE CASE SPARINGLY
I encounter a friend and strike up a conversation, we rarely call
each other by name. She knows who I am, and I know who she is,
so we don't have to keep repeating those facts every few sentences.
movie or television dialogue, however, we the viewers can easily get
lost. It helps us greatly if the characters mention each
other's identity now and then.
course, this can be carried too far. I ran across an extreme
example the other day while idly surfing through vintage programs on
the cable channels.
rather familiar woman's face appeared. Is that Richie
Cunningham's mom? No, it's Harriet Nelson! And look,
she's talking to her husband Ozzie!
I was growing up, there was a long-running TV sitcom (1952-66)
starring former bandleader Ozzie Nelson and his real-life
family. It was called The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Levine says, There were no adventures. None.
This was the most boring family ever. We did watch the
kid on the right grow up, affect an Elvis-like curled lip, and become
rock 'n roll heartthrob Ricky Nelson.)
show I found on cable turned out to be part of a 1972 episode of Rod
Serling's Night Gallery, described here.
Ozzie played an incompetent inventor trying to make his fame by
bringing his wife back from the dead. Small problem: she hadn't
died yet. So he poisoned her.
the time I tuned in, nephew George had arrived on the scene and I
heard excruciating dialogue something like this:
Good evening, Uncle Henry.
Is Aunt Helena around, Uncle Henry?
Uh, yes, George, she's down in my laboratory.
Could I speak to her, Uncle Henry?
No, George, I'm afraid Aunt Helena hasn't been feeling well.
Poor Aunt Helena. Is there some way I can help, Uncle Henry?
on and on.
exaggerating, of course, and a couple of cops showed up towards the
end, but most of the dialogue consisted of George and Uncle Henry
addressing each other by name.
hard to believe that the esteemed Rod Serling had anything to do
with this script. He is credited with the teleplay, but this
segment is listed as Short film by J. Wesley Rosenquist.
Wesley, if that is his name, was the obscure author of a 1936
tale entitled Return to Death. This TV show is J.
Wesley's only credit on IMDb. If J. Wesley proved incapable of
composing realistic dialogue, I'm not surprised that J. Wesley never
received additional assignments.
When we in
the TV graphics business identify a person with his name in the lower
one-third of the TV screen, we call it a lower
third. Others may call it a Chyron or a
font, after the graphics computers that we use to
generate the letters.
theres an adage in our business: never font the President!
Hes too well-known, and it would insult American viewers
intelligence to have him thus identified.
rule applies to the Pope. And I once worked with a sports
announcer who thought it ought to apply to him as well.
broke this rule at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. It was
ten years ago, at the 2002 winter games
in Salt Lake City. My graphics for the world feed
telecast were seen in foreign countries but not shown to Americans.
producers felt we should have an identifier ready for each of the
major participants, including the head of state who was going to
declare the games open. I dutifully prepared this lower third
and photographed it for posterity. However, it was not actually
used on the air, so the rule remained inviolate.
CURVES IN THE ROAD
find certain small details attractive. For example, I like it
when a woman dramatically shifts her gaze beneath her bangs.
Grande did so in a T-Mobile commercial, asking, You're going
to choose navigation over me?
examples include Susannah Hoffs (in the Bangles' Walk Like an Egyptian).
then there was Catherine Zeta-Jones (in All That Jazz
from the movie Chicago).
cats use the slow
blink if they like us.
they're asking to be petted.
my life, I've enjoyed contemplating beautiful women or depictions thereof.
I was about eight years old, my parents would often take our 1955
Chevrolet out for a drive on a summer evening, just for the fun of
it, and I'd ride in the back seat. We usually had the radio on.
we were visiting my grandparents in Cambridge, Ohio, sometimes we
found ourselves 25 miles away in Zanesville. My mother would
get out of the car in front of a movie theater on Main Street.
While my father and I drove around the block, she dashed into the
lobby and bought three boxes of Majorette popcorn.
was good movie popcorn, plus I appreciated the drawing of the leggy
young lady with kernels popping out of her baton. (The
containers are still pictured on eBay and elsewhere. In today's
movie theaters, a typical small popcorn is twice as big
as these 1¾-ounce boxes but costs at least 40 times as much.)
also appreciated the design of the Chevy's rear window sill, not
straight and level but aesthetically curved. I'd stick my hand
out the window, palm down, and play with the wind. If I
slightly angled up the leading edge of my hand, the slipstream would
lift up my arm an early experiment in aerodynamics.
little details one remembers!
20, 2022 STAND
name is Buzz Aldrin, the second man
to walk on the moon. Neil before me.
Vidonic's son Ben came up with that one. I composited two
Apollo-era images (standing and stumbling) to illustrate it.
Murr commented, At least there's one funny guy in the
family. That's one giant joke for mankind.
month Chuck posted, Dropped an envelope that read, Do
not bend. Spent an hour trying to figure out how to pick
SLIGHTLY TAMER THINGS
league baseball arrived in 2002 at a brand-new ballpark in
Washington, PA, 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. The Wild
Things began play in the independent Frontier League.
next year, to publicize the new venture, the team invested in a
project to televise a few of its home games on what was then FSN
Pittsburgh. To keep costs low, they hired a very small remote
truck and a crew that included a number of students from Waynesburg College.
worked 15 of those telecasts, including the 2005 Frontier League All-Star
Game, between 2003 and 2007. It was fun, televising baseball
on a shoestring. Now, however, the games are only on radio.
years ago, major league owners were afraid fans would stop coming to
the ballpark if they discovered they could watch home games on
TV. But the opposite appears to be the case for the Wild
Things. Taking the games off TV after 2007 has hurt attendance!
to a feature
by Jenn Menendez in todays Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
During the team's first summer the stands swelled with fans and
continued to draw well for several years. Attendance peaked in 2007,
when the team drew 177,495. That number dropped to 160,444 in
2008 ... and 104,635 last summer.
Things attendance has dropped every year since 2007, and currently
ranks next-to-last in the 14-team Frontier League, averaging 1,624
per game (through Sunday) its worst average on record.
Trich (left), a member of the Ballpark Scholarships board,
attributes the falling attendance to factors other than the loss of
TV coverage. (I knew Leo 35 years ago when he was a Baseball
for Boys executive and a Washington city councilman.)
He explained to the newspaper, Most new facilities have a
honeymoon period. We were told two or three, and we got five or
six years. ... [Then] about the time the newness was
starting to wear off, the team itself wasn't playing that well.
We're Pennsylvanians, and we like our teams to win.
teams majority owner, Stuart Williams, offered a different
reason. My strongest sense of the big-picture problem is
the economy, Mr. Williams said. People don't have the
discretionary dollars right now.
Scholarships is hoping to boost its finances by drilling for oil on
the back forty. That would be a 40-acre hillside plot
overlooking the ballpark, presumably a prime location for Marcellus
Shale natural gas and oil development.
in my opinion, all they have to do is bring back TV.
WORLD WIDE WEBB PICTURES
long-awaited first set of images from the $10 billion James Webb
Space Telescope was released this week.
hour-long international TV show on Tuesday morning displayed a few
spectacular pictures including some explanation but perhaps
example, at first I could count only four large galaxies, not five,
in this view of Stephan's Quintet. I guess the
white blob in the upper middle is actually a pair of galaxies.
that was far from my only quibble with the show. As a retired
TV production guy, I couldn't help noticing lots of Earthbound
AUNT TILL? IS THAT YOU?
family photo that I can't identify has come down to me. This
might be my step-great-great-grandmother Matilda Sill Buckingham
Kean, who was born in 1829 in Monroe County, Ohio.
the Civil War, at the age of 34 she married a widower with three
children (including my future great-grandfather). That
widower's name was John Buckingham. To him she bore two
additional children. After John himself passed away a mere 22
months into their marriage, Aunt Till raised all five kids with the
help of her sister Emily.
month's 100 Moons article tells the story, quoting newspaper
clippings from as far back as 1891 that have also come down to me.
I RECOGNIZE ALL BUT TWO OF THEM
a movie, Eric D. Snider once remarked that he sometimes has
difficulty distinguishing one minor character from another if
they're female. Eric speculated that his gayness was the reason.
a straight guy, I've noticed the opposite effect. For example,
in the TV series New Girl I could easily identify the lovely
ladies in the front, Cece and Jess, but not the two generic males
behind them: Schmidt and Nick, or maybe the other way around.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (below), Dee and Charlie
and Frank are distinctive personalities, but who are the two guys on
the right? One is Dennis and one is Mac, and I guess one of
them is Dee's brother.
whether we're gay or straight, we don't carefully inspect the faces
of whichever gender attracts us less.
when we're from a particular group, we don't pay detailed attention
to members of other groups that attract us less, and we begin to
think those people all look alike.
BUT IT CAN BE
our speechifying this Independence Day, let us return to a subject I
nearly four years ago. This time, I've added some black and
white pictures to the words of television producer Aaron Sorkin.
He wrote them in the script for the first episode of his HBO series The
Newsroom. (Here's the scene
I'm talking about. And you might enjoy Ken Levines parody
university panel discussion includes a TV anchorman, played by Jeff
Daniels. An earnest young sophomore has a question. She
asks, Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?
liberal panelist responds, Diversity and
opportunity. The conservative says, Freedom and
freedom, so lets keep it that way. But the
anchorman is reluctant to say what he really thinks. The
moderator insists: What makes America the greatest
country in the world?
woman in the back of the hall has a suggestion.
anchorman finally blurts, Its not The Greatest
Country In The World, Professor. Thats my answer.
the panelist who touted Americas freedom, he says, With
a straight face, youre going to tell students that America is
so star-spangled awesome that were the only ones in the world
who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has
freedom. The UK. France. Italy. Germany.
Spain. Australia. Belgium has freedom. 207
sovereign states in the world; like 180 of them have freedom.
yeah, you, sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander
into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should
know. And one of them is, there is absolutely no evidence to
support the statement that were The Greatest Country In The World.
7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life
expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household
income, #4 in labor force, and #4 in exports. We lead the world
in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per
capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense
spending where we spend more than the next 26 countries
combined, 25 of whom are allies.
none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you
nonetheless are, without a doubt, a member of the Worst. Generation.
Ever. So when you ask what makes us The Greatest Country In The
World, I dont know what the f_ youre talking about! Yosemite?
sure used to be.
right: Lyndon Johnson hands Martin Luther King the pen from
the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons; we
passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars
on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our
neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat
right: The Apollo 11 plaque on the moon
built great big things, made ungodly technological advances,
explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the
worlds greatest artists and the worlds greatest
economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men.
right: Author Pearl S. Buck, John & Jacqueline Kennedy,
and poet Robert Frost
aspired to intelligence. We didnt belittle it. It
didnt make us feel inferior.
didnt identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last
election. And we didnt scare so easy.
left: Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite
were able to be all these things and do all these things because we
were informed, by great men, men who were revered.
first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America
is not The Greatest Country In The World anymore.
later does his executive producer say to him, You know what
you left out of your sermon? That America is the
only country on the planet that since its birth has said, over and
over and over, that we can do better!
the athletic teams of West Virginia University are relocating a
thousand miles to the west! Virtually, that is. We ought
to call the school West West Virginia from now on.
used to play in the Big East conference against teams like
Connecticut. Their major rival was Pittsburgh, only 75 miles
away. The annual WVU-Pitt game was known as the Backyard Brawl.
as of today, West Virginia is a member of the Big 12.
Theyll be playing against an entirely new set of rivals, the closest
of which, Iowa State, is 870 miles away by car. The farthest,
Texas Tech in Lubbock, is 1,465 miles away. Fans who want to
follow the WVU soccer team to a road game must either buy plane
tickets or take off a week from work.
basketball, the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and
Pitt was a series dating back to 1917. Of course, that history
meant little to the 2011-12 players and coaches. Only one of
WVUs players came from West Virginia, while none of Pitts
came from western Pennsylvania. Before WVU played Pitt for the
final time on February 16, WVU coach Bob Huggins was asked if the
event held any special significance. Not particularly, he
said. Were trying to get into the NCAA
tournament. We know we have to win some games.
it was mostly the fans who cared. Some of them had been
warring against the other school for the better part of a
century. Others were current students.
our biggest rival. Its the team you want to beat the
most, Pitt junior Ben Wachsman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazettes
Gary Rotstein in February. Junior Kiersten Williams
agreed. Theres really not much difference between
us, but theres just so much tradition there, you have to hate them.
Thats the ticket. Rotstein reported that The head
of the Pittsburgh chapter of WVUs Alumni Association, Bryan
Bond, 33, said hes felt some hard shoulder bumps
from Pitt fans when leaving Heinz Field in his WVU garb after a
the other side, according to Rotstein, veteran Pitt radio
play-by-play broadcaster Bill Hillgrove recalls the first three
words his daughter spoke EAT $#!+, PITT after listening
to that jeering chant as the Panthers bus pulled up to WVU Coliseum
years ago. Theres a hate factor there that I
dont think is prevalent in anything else Pitt is involved
in, Mr. Hillgrove said before Thursday nights game.
I think people in Morgantown grow up learning to hate Pitt.
course, hating your neighbor doesnt come naturally. As
Oscar Hammerstein II wrote in a different context in South Pacific,
got to be taught to hate and fear.
got to be taught from year to year.
got to be drummed in your dear little ear.
got to be carefully taught.
got to be taught before it's too late,
you are six or seven or eight,
hate all the people your relatives hate.
got to be carefully taught!
wonder which of WVUs new Big 12 opponents will be designated
the new target of detestation.
Pitt will moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference in another year or
two, and that will require the local fans to find an ACC adversary to
look down upon.
ACC has just announced a football scheduling model whereby each team
will have three primary opponents that they play every year, plus ten
other conference opponents that they play home and away every four
years. Which primary adversaries have been assigned to Pitt,
and how many miles are they away by car? Virginia Tech 322,
Syracuse 359, and Boston College 624. It's time to learn to
hate those Hokies.
heard that a college called UCF will soon be joining the
ever-widening Big 12 Conference.
where is this newcomer located? It's always identified by only
its initials, like UCLA. That's maddening.
what does UCF stand for? Some guesses:
University of California, Fresno.
Utah College of Forensics.
Unitarian Campus of Fargo.
Upper Cuyahoga Falls.
await further information.
now we hear that the University of Southern California and the
University of California, Los Angeles are going to be deserting the
Pac-12 Conference. They'll be joining the Big Ten, which
10 11 12 14 teams much further east
makes even less geographic sense.
hope the team buses are prepared for the 2,768-mile journey from
L.A. to Piscataway, New Jersey.