October 2nd, 2008

krazy koati

Riding the backs of giraffes for laughs is all right for a while

Given the choice I'll watch TV with the closed-captioning on. If I'm not watching the screen it's irrelevant, but if I hear something I don't quite get I can look up and the words will be scrolled off as I watch. My father likes closed captioning too, mostly because he can't hear anything except me watching my shows after 11 pm and this lets him see what's going on. It'd be on all the TVs in the house except that my mother can't stand it. In her case there's a perfectly normal minor psychological disorder for it: she can't force herself not to read words that her eye catches, and the continual flashing of words up on the screen means she can't half-watch TV and half-do anything else. Combine that with wanting to read a book and there's a hopeless conflict.

But the captioning is on in my bedroom, at least, where a TV was installed as part of a chain reaction I can't quite understand in which my parents got a new HDTV in exchange for some house work that my father did, and we threw out the TV set which had been in the living room because it was over a decade old and had imaginative new ideas for what colours everything should be in a process that required my finding where the recycling center was and then tossing the television set into the compactor, and somehow we had a new TV in the living room that wasn't either of these and now I think the TV in my bedroom is the one that used to be in my parents' bedroom, which is fine since it was the one I got for my grad student apartment back in 1995. You see why I'm confused.

All of which is preliminary to the minor thing which had me watching the set in wonder and fascination: on Boomerang was a block of Pink Panther cartoons, and someone had thoughtfully close-captioned all of them. So there was a steady stream of >> [ BLAM ] >> [ PLINK PLINK ] >> [ WHAM ] throughout the show. I'm curious whether the closed captioners like doing these cartoons because there's so little dialogue (Aaron Sorkin shows must be a real pain to transcribe) or whether it's a nuisance finding the right onomatopoeia for the occasion.

Trivia: Several days after his mechanical-scan television first succesfully broadcast his first TV image in 1924 (of a Maltese cross) John Logie Baird was evicted for failing to pay his rent. Source: Please Stand By: A Prehistory Of Television, Michael Ritchie.

Currently Reading: The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned From The Market's Perfect Storm, Robert F Bruner, Sean D Carr.