WHAT? – GARRY ARMSTRONG

This is a lengthy comment to a blog posted by the imminent eminent wordsmith known as Evil Squirrel.  Squirrel’s blog For whom the Beltones ... was a humorous look at the history of aids for the hearing-impaired and the advertising of the 1980s.

Squirrel, this is truly evil. Maybe even blatantly racist if I can find an angle. I love it! You’re yelling to the choir with this one.

garry and tom walpole TV

As you may know, I have needed hearing aids since I was a kid, back to the days when they were the small portable radios with a wire and earpiece. It was damned humiliating for a young guy.

As time went by, technology upgraded me to tiny, all in the ear aids. They were invisible on TV so it was great for me since I wore my aids all the time at work — except when I did live shots. Then, I had to replace one of my hearing aids with the IFB thingy which allowed everyone to talk directly into my head. Everyone could — and did — talk at the same time.

Sometimes there were two or three dozen people talking and shouting into my IFB as I calmly did my live reports. And smiled.

Often (simultaneously), the other hearing aid would pick up frequencies from nearby radio towers. I had a myriad TV people shouting into my IFB while Air Traffic Controllers yelled into my hearing aid. I calmly delivered the live reports. Then I went out for a few drinks.

72-BW-TV-Camera-Studio_02

Marilyn actually saw and heard a tape of one of these live shots, The station had accidentally recorded the stuff coming in through the IFB instead of the sound track for the story. She was awed. How could I function during all the clamor? Looking back, I’m awed too. I’m an awesome guy. That’s why they paid me the big bucks (not).

I interviewed Eddie Albert when he was filming “Yes, Giorgio” in Boston. Eddie was sunbathing along the Charles River. He smiled when he caught a glimpse of my tiny hearing aids. Pulled his out for comparison. A lot of “WHAT?” went down that day.

Fast forward to the present, I have the current behind the ears model hearing aids. My hearing is getting worse.

Huh? Can you hear me now??”

Garry with Terriers - Dogs

Postscript:

I didn’t always wear my hearing aids on a regular basis. Back then, it was worse (much) than being called “four eyes”. One night changed my whole attitude.

My date had reached that critical point where you wonder if “it” will happen. The lady answered my query. I misheard her answer.

End of evening.

TELEVISION STUDIO IN LIVING BLACK AND WHITE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Any kind of Camera or Photos of Photographers

This week’s topic is Any kind of Camera or Photos of Photographers. Any camera from a SLR, DSLR, iPhone, vintage camera, lenses, obvious camera equipment. Also allowed in this challenge is people taking photos.

This was an actual TV show in progress. The pictures were almost sepia because of the color cast of the studio lighting. In a couple, I used some antique effects. I really love the way TV cameras look, the big, unblinking eye.

NO ONE WILL NOTICE

No one will notice.

Our cat, Big Guy, was a very smart feline. Beautiful, sweet, funny. We lived in Boston back then and he was not allowed outside. Between the traffic, disease, and stray dogs, it was not a world to which I would expose our gentle boy. Of course Big Guy wanted out. I could not blame him, but there was no way he was setting paws onto those mean streets.

Big Guy

Big Guy

Yet, every once in a while, we would have the door open, bringing in packages, or coming, or going. Big Guy, tail at full mast, would walk out the door towards the street. No running. Measured steps.

No one will notice,” he must have thought. “I’ll just casually stroll out and inspect the neighborhood.” Of course we noticed. When his attention was called, he looked at us as if to say, “What? Don’t I do this every day?”

Then there are the dogs. Bishop, the size of a small, but extremely furry pony, calmly walking out the back door. Like it’s an everyday occurrence.

Or Bonnie, with her long black claws clacking down the hallway, in her ongoing attempt to get into the laundry basket,  or Nan, trying to steal the mouse from my computer. They are sure no one will notice.

Last night we were watching Castle. The bad guys were trying to kill them. The last of the good guys had been shot and was in the hospital. Castle and Beckett decide to interview the guy — secretly, in his hospital room. Except … you mean … no one will notice this famous author and his cop partner going into the room of a heavily guarded near-victim?

Beckett and Castle were working under the same fundamental belief as Big Guy. No one will notice. We’ll just casually stroll into the hospital room, no problem.

Castle-Beckett-crime-fighting-couple

Sure enough. When the scriptwriter is on your side, anything is possible. Of course, it got the guy killed, but he was merely a guest star, so it didn’t matter.

In real life, everyone notices. I have never successfully snuck anyplace without someone hailing me, asking for my identification, or deciding they need to chat about something. Maybe it’s me. I do not seem to have a stealthy bone in my body.

Sad, but true. Despite the premise in so many television shows and the belief of my dogs that no one will notice whatever they do … not even that big furry butt skulking towards the forbidden exit … I never get away with anything. Ever.

Probably it’s time for me to give up my plans of becoming the next great international spy. You think?

HOW TO WRITE VERY POPULAR ARTICLES FOR YOUR BLOG

From WordPress, today’s Daily Prompt:  Hindsight — Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.


Oh come now. Really? I don’t even have my first post. I deleted it years ago. Does WordPress believe all its followers are baby bloggers who have written 10 posts and started blogging the day before yesterday?

Not exactly me. But, in the name of playing into the irrationality of the moment, I’m going to post my most popular ever post. I’ve rewritten it several times. It has gotten more than 11,500 hits in two versions and a couple of thousand more in other rewrites. Most of the views accumulated during the first 24 hours after I published it … more than half during the first hour or two.

Despite it being no great shakes as posts go, it went sort of viral. Go figure, right? This is a perfect example of why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of post is going to “sell.” How much research, writing craft, thought, and soul you can put into it a piece … and no one is interested. Research is irrelevant. What matters is that it catches popular fancy.

The only way you can almost guarantee popularity is to figure out what is the “latest thing” buzzing around the Internet, then write about it. Preferably with pictures. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It doesn’t have to be factual, accurate, fair, or in any way important. It absolutely doesn’t have to be original and will probably sell better if it isn’t.

If that is what you want as a blogger, good luck to you. The Internet welcomes you. Bring on your rumors, gossip, slanderous out-of-context quotes. Be sure to use, as sources, those who don’t know the difference between opinion and fact and don’t care.

Find some salacious photographs. Publish them. Don’t worry about copyright infringement because no one else seems worried about it. I won’t read you, but lots of other people will.

And now…


 THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – REDUX, REDUX, REDUX

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

TV Camera - 23

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut.

If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind. Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing could never happen. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow.

The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

Thank you to Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS for the link to the YouTube video.

The lyrics follow.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side
They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again

It took me fewer than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.


NOTES:

1) According to one of the show’s producers, the show is based on the Blitzen Trapper song. The group was compensated for its use. It isn’t plagiarism, merely bad writing.

2) If the writers don’t want us to assume the same rules apply in the TV show as apply in the real world, they should not pretend the show is about FBI agents who are part of the élite unit of an actual law enforcement agency. If you don’t want to play by the rules of the real world, create a fake world where you can have stuff fall up because gravity does not exist. You cannot have it both ways, at least not if you want anyone to believe you.

3) I wrote this post September 2012 as a quick comment on what I thought was poor script writing — and un-credited use of someone else’s material. If you wish to continue arguing anyway, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’d appreciate being left out of it.

4) I’ve written a follow-up post to this about morals and Hollywood. You can find it here, if you’re curious. It’s called “Gazing Through to the Other Side: Hollywood and Moral Character.” It alone has gotten more than 1200 views and it’s a better piece that the original … but that’s just my opinion and as the author, clearly I don’t know anything.

HEROES ON HORSES, MASKED (AND NOT)

I grew up with the Lone Ranger and Tonto racing around my bedroom. Until I got the wallpaper, I was sure he was the Long Ranger … as in “he rode a lot and covered great distances.”

The original Lone Ranger and Tonto — Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore

Other girls had Disney Princesses, but I had “Hi Yo Silver, the Lone Ranger Rides Again!” Although my walls did not play music, I could hum well enough and I had many a long chat with Lone and Tonto, Silver and Scout as I lay abed in the evening pondering the meaning of life and how I could convince my mother to let me have a horse.

Eventually, as I rounded the corner into adolescence, the Lone Ranger and his trusty Indian Companion (who had led the fight for law and order in the early west) returned to those thrilling days of yesteryear whence they had come. They were replaced by plain, off-white paint. I would have preferred to keep Lone and Tonto, but the paper was old and tattered. It was time for me to move on.

This did not end my allegiance to this great first love of my young life. I don’t know what it is about masked men on horses, but Zorro and Lone made me woozy with unrequited love. As the years rolled on, I became very attached to Tonto — not as Tonto the character, but as Jay Silverheels, the actor– whose career I followed long after the Lone Ranger had ridden into the sunset.

NOTE: Tonto isn’t a Mexican and didn’t speak Spanish. Tonto, according to Native American sources, was a Potawatomi word meaning “wild one.” Although it is also Spanish for “fool”, that was not the intention.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto fought the good fight. They never asked for thanks and would ride away rather than deal with gratitude. They were the best of the good guys. Whenever I’m not sure what choice to make in a morally ambiguous situation, I can always ask myself “What would the Lone Ranger do?” I know the answer could only be right.

THE DAILY PROMPT – MY HERO

TACHYON WAVES, WARP DRIVE, AND INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES

Garry and I have been watching “Star Trek: Next Generation.” We missed the show’s initial run. 1987 through 1994 were our busiest years. Rebuilding a life. Restarting a career. Buying houses. Getting married. Moving. Moving again.

Watching TV wasn’t a big item on our agenda.

BBC America is showing the series, albeit not in any particular order. We are catching up, watching two or three episodes per night.

star trek next gen cast

They do a lot of tech talk on the Enterprise. I accept it with alacrity. No problem. Pass the warp drive. I’ll have a side order of tachyon particles. I understand that science as well as I understand ours.

Which is to say, not at all. Tachyon energy is crucial to all kinds of weaponry and fuel. They are part of what powers the warp engines on the Enterprise. The warp engines are what lets the Enterprise be the Enterprise, travel at speeds faster than light … fast enough to explore the universe. Slither through wormholes. Travel through time.

For your information, a tachyon particle moves faster than light. The complementary particle types are luxon (particles which move at the speed of light) and bradyon (particles which move slower than light). If you live in the Star Trek universe, tachyon particles are as common as dirt. Or electricity.

I understand exactly as much about tachyon waves and warp drives as I do about the internal combustion engine. True, I studied this stuff in junior high school (middle school to you kids). The information didn’t “take,” and whatever is going on under my car’s hood is a mystery. As is the electricity that powers this computer. As is all technology.

enterprise next gen

Effectively, everything is a mystery. I understand the technology of the 24th century exactly as well (and as much) as I understand the technology of the 21st. I am equally comfortable in both.

How many of you know how the stuff you use all the time works? I know how software is designed, how code is written and compiled. I used to know how to do a little coding. In the end, though, I have no idea why code does anything. Why, when you compile a program, does it work? It’s just text. Why does it do what it does?

Why does anything work? Tachyon particles, warp drives, internal combustion engines, electricity, cell phones, WiFi. It’s all the same. Magic.

And now, back to the Enterprise, already in progress.

THE UNTOUCHABLES ARE UNMATCHABLE

Garry is devoted to old television series, amongst them “The Untouchables.” Starring Robert Stack as Elliott Ness.

Robert_Stack_Eliot_Ness_1960

Dum-de-dum-dum. The FBI enforcing … (ta-da) The Volstead Act. Prohibition!

What a great show. When the cops are annoyed with you, they beat the living crap out of you. If that doesn’t get you to spill your guts, they’ll toss you off the train. While it’s moving.

You have a problem with that? You too are disposable.

Nothing namby-pamby about these guys. They don’t even pretend you have rights. You know you are dirt under their feet. They treat you accordingly. Like dirt under their feet.

This is a show that never made the slightest apology for being racist or pretended to have any interest in fairness, truth or justice. Violent and single-minded, they pursued people who broke a stupid law: a law against selling booze.

Compassion and restraint were for sissies. Nor were these guys overly worried much about legalities. They said “We are the FBI. You will obey!”

And everyone did. This is the FBI at its purest. Not just above the law. They are the law.

Elliot Ness Real GuyMy favorite moment in tonight’s show was when the boys, ignoring even a nod to national borders, take the FBI bus into Mexico to track down the guys who kidnapped their witness. “The bus broke down three times and the trip took 10 hours,” said the stentorian voice of the narrator.

“So what?” I said to Garry. “We live in the country. That could describe my last trip to the grocery store.”

I love television. Especially 1950s crime shows.

WHEN LEGEND BECOMES FACT – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

I am writing this with mixed emotion. It comes in the wake of pre-election, shared conversation about truth and honesty in today’s news media.  I’m old school, with more than 40 years logged as a TV and radio news reporter. Truth always came first with me regardless of pressures from elsewhere. It still does, even in retirement.

I’m a fan of western movies. Western heroes. Western myth. I subscribe to John Ford’s “print the legend” motto. But that’s contradictory if you take a close look at Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”.

Today I watched a show on the “American Heroes Channel.” You can guess what the channel is about from its name. This “documentary” says that a diary penned by one of General Santa Ana’s colleagues mentions that (gasp) Davy Crockett didn’t go down fighting but was, instead, executed following the battle — “like a common criminal” — to quote the narrator.

Alamo_replica

We’re told that a total of seven defenders survived the historic battle. The usual number of surviving combatants is listed as three, but the total list includes 50 — slaves, couriers, scouts, women, civilian combatants and non-combatants, children plus a few people whose presence is disputed or uncertain. The “documentary” offers “evidence” via a computer reconstruction of the Alamo. It re-examines (fake, real, falsified, forged, accurate, fictional) documents of the battle. You can take your pick because whoever put together the show wasn’t willing to make a clear statement on the subject.

The story unfolds, accompanied by popular scenes of Davy Crockett portrayals by Fess Parker and John Wayne, supposedly ready to strike a dagger through the heart of the legend of the Alamo. We’re shown teams of historians re-examining roads in and out of the Alamo. But time and mother nature have eroded whatever new evidence is being sought by these researchers. This is just a single documentary and we have no basis on which to judge the authenticity of the so-called newly revealed evidence.

Supposedly, the idea is to raise doubt about a beloved piece of American history. Their conclusions leave you wondering why they bothered. They have no new evidence one way or the other. Moreover, would it matter if they did? It wouldn’t change anything, and if they had evidence, would anyone believe them? Or care?

Personally, I stand with Truth, but adore myth. It doesn’t have to make sense.