Techno-Scat

Here’s how I recently ended a discussion* with a co-worker who stated she didn’t like music by the Divinyls and preferred other 1980s New Wave bands.

“You’re an idiot! Christina Amphlett has enough wild talent to incorporate 1950s science fiction movie sound effects into her vocalizations by creating Techno-Scat! Amphlett didn’t imitate the usual jazz instruments like traditional Scat artists. Instead she imitated Hollywood’s classic representations of alien machinery, lab equipment and suspenseful scene background music and made it all part of the song, effortlessly inserting the unique vocals as emphasis on different words in each verse. Face it, with one tune Amphlett managed to completely humiliate the entire output all those other Road Warrior-inspired novelty acts! How did Dale Bozzio give her singing a New Wave edge? By dressing like Max Headroom in drag and imitating a robot with the hiccups!”

Here’s the proof that Christina rules over all others.

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Science Fiction – Divinyls (1983)

* Actually, she got in the last words, which were “Whatever. F***k you!” Still, a win is a win in my book.

I think people are the endangered species

“So, Dad. What’s with that big eagle head you mounted on your dashboard?”

“I like it. It’s watching over me.”

“Sure. Say, after the car crash who do you think will be watching over you when they pull that beak out of your chest, the Paramedic or the Coroner?”

“…”

That bird is as bad an idea as that Visor Angel thing.

Waiting for the DVD box set

One of the aspects of concern to the comic book industry are those fans who, rather than read their funny books piecemeal, prefer to wait for the collected edition to be published. This is done for various reasons but I don’t like my comic books that way. I don’t want to wait 6 months for an event to be over to read it, I need my weekly fix.

I am however starting to understand that philosophy when it comes to television shows.

Years ago before cable television the Station Identification spot was something done between commercials. Since there were basically only 3 major networks and one or two others in a local market it was more to comply with broadcasting regulations than to remind the viewer what network they were tuned to. Later, as a hundred or more stations became available cable networks were rightly concerned that viewers didn’t know, could not keep track or cared what station they were watching. So the channel identifier began to appear. The channel identifier was originally a logo that remained in the picture somewhere and was initially received as annoying and intrusive. It usually hovered in the lower right corner of the screen. It made people angry and also discouraged some people from copying a show on VHS. For a time it was thought the logo would turn off those who watched recorded shows and also served to mark any recording as a copy and not an original tape.

Very quickly providers responded to the complaints that the logo was in the way and was degrading enjoyment of their shows. Of the few channels I watched back then the SciFi network was the most clever in how they used the logos. When a show returned from a commercial break the logo appeared in full view and remained for only a few moments before fading to near invisibility, appearing as a watermark which could be easily ignored. After a few years most providers realized the channel identifier was a wasted opportunity for advertising. Now that people were used to the logo on the screen the companies felt that the opportunity to annoy their customers was something that could not be overlooked. The small logo became once again bothersome and intrusive.

With increasing frequency animated banner ads slide, linger and flicker across the television screen during a show. The amount and style of the advertisements have become ridiculous. In the two examples provided here from the SciFi channel the ads take up about half the screen and each one lingers for a few seconds too long. Formerly a minor nuisance they are now large enough and intrusive enough to ruin the enjoyment of watching a show. There have been instances on some networks and this show that I personally witnessed when a prop or reveal of a dramatic moment has been eclipsed by an advertisement for some upcoming program or appeal to buy items from the show at the official website.

So after watching Stargate: Atlantis last night and getting all cranky I decided from now on to pretty much wait for the season DVD to be issued before watching that show again and a few others I follow. The ever-present channel logo, is for the most part something I can ignore with little difficulty. But now the logos are now routinely used as the anchors for spamming banner ads and pop-ups for various shows and products, something that has caused entire computer companies to be created to combat on our personal computers.

I’m only one ornery dude but there are a lot of people on the fence about turning on their televisions anyway and regular viewership numbers are constantly falling even against new content and more channels than ever before. Maybe these companies need to think about not irritating their viewership and customers any more than they absolutely have to. After all, using a simple browser add-on removes 99% of all advertising and spam from internet sites and people routinely hack past the commercials on their digital television recorders. Given the technology available to the average consumer I’d propose that it wouldn’t take much for the Era of Advertising to be entirely a thing of the past.

The New Scarlet Letter

It is too bad that the folksy folks that Republicans court are so anti-science. If the GOP base embraced SCIENCE a bit more the race-baiting scam that John McCain enthusiast Ashley Todd perpetrated may have been successful beyond any campaign managers’ wildest, Rove-like power fantasies. Instead, the ill-thought out and poorly executed plan by Ashley to gain support for her candidate by inciting fear, one of the few tactics Republicans understand, backfired and will surely result in some people voting for Obama.

A little bit of SCIENCE would have ensured the hoax would have worked or at least had survived more time under media inspection. SCIENCE is a good part of everyday life in spite of some people insisting everything is derived from a mystical origin. Here are some aspects of SCIENCE that if factored in to the scam, would have prevented it from blowing up in her face like some sort of experimental-thing gone wrong.

BIOLOGY: People were not zapped into existence with interior workings formed of a single uniform substance like wax or, say, clay. People are full of meaty, brothy stuff. One of those things people are full of is the brain. While many people eschew the brain, I assume Ms. Todd possessed one. Too bad she didn’t use it that day.

OPTICS: Like brains, eyeballs have been around for millions of years. Todd missed the opportunity to use them effectively. A quick examination by Todd in any mirror would have revealed that something was wrong with her artwork and that the letter B was reversed. Then again, all the Republicans I know don’t actually look at themselves in reflective surfaces since they would then have a hard time living with themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised to find strips of newspaper strategically taped over much of the mirrors in Todd’s home, leaving only enough shiny surface to reflect a bit of her cheek. It’s easier to avoid meeting their own gaze that way.

Here’s my Ashley Todd joke:

“Wow. The guys who own that company must be totally rich!”
“What company is that, Ashley?”
Ecnalubma. They must have at least five cars at every hospital in America!

HISTORY: Morton Downey Jr. tried a similar scam a number of years ago. He got busted for it because of stupidity. Those who forget history are dumb and will repeat it. One of the things I learned over the years about criminals and grifters is that usually more than one person is required to be successful in any shifty endeavor. This is because from the viewpoint of the perp everything makes perfect logical sense because what they plan and execute fits perfectly their preconceptions of how things are. Many crimes are solved simply by someone else observing that the claims or circumstances do not fit in with reality.

TECHNOLOGY: As fallible as the internet can be when performing research a couple of simple search terms like “McCain” and “President” would have returned thousands of pages of wacky results and their content would have revealed to Ashley what a bad idea she was entertaining. Also, ATM machines have cameras now.

Fortunately for America, this time evoking fear ensured failure.