Whaaat? I Can’t Hear You.

It’s so rare that I express any sort of kindness for ANY California politician from either side of the political spectrum, but today I am feeling a small bit of fondness for one Mz Anna Eschoo.


Loud TV commercials to leave quietly, thanks to FCC

The Federal Communications Commission today is expected to pass regulations requiring broadcasters and cable and satellite TV systems to maintain constant volume levels. The order, which goes into effect one year from today, “says commercials must have the same average volume as the programs they accompany,” says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Last year, President Obama signed into law a measure that Congress passed giving the FCC authority to address the problem. A Harris poll taken around that time found that 86% of people surveyed said TV commercials were louder than the shows themselves — and, in many cases, much louder. “It is a problem that thousands of viewers have complained about, and we are doing something about it,” Genachowski says.

While normal listening levels average about 70 decibels for a typical TV broadcast — 60 is equivalent to a restaurant conversation; 80 to a garbage disposal — levels on a TV channel can vary by as much as 20 decibels.

To comply with the new law, broadcasters can use audio processors to measure the loudness of a program over its entirety and adjust the volume of commercials accordingly, says Joe Snelson, vice president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. He said the goal is to avoid an abrupt change in volume when a show goes to commercial break.

Some broadcasters and pay-TV providers already have begun implementing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM). DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer says the satellite provider is “ensuring that our commercial inserts are at the proper volume level and … (we) are working with our programmers to be in compliance with the rules the FCC adopts.”

Similarly, Cox Communications plans to make sure that local ads and commercials on national networks “are compliant,” says Cox spokesman Todd Smith.

“Slowly but surely, consumers are going to get something they have been wanting,” says David Butler of the Consumers Union.

“I never characterized this as saving the Union,” says Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., the original sponsor of the bill. “But consumers have been asking for it. We may not have peace in the world, but we may have more peaceful homes.”

All that said, one *might* ask why, exactly, this issue had to pass through legislature.

I mean really, people.

Original link found on Shoeboxblog.com

Theme Thursday: Television

Ah but she was a beauty. With a light gray case, she sat upon a wobbly stand, gold tone painted spindly legs that ended in little plastic wheels. The early definition of “portable.”

The dial to change the channels was made of actual metal. It had saw tooth ridges on it. All the better for gripping and turning, I suppose.

The on-off button was also the volume knob. Tug that knob, and give ‘er a few minutes while the tube warmed up.

Soon a clear bright black and white picture emerged from a small dot in the middle of the screen. All three channels plus PBS!

“Karen! Change the channel!” Click, click, click. Turning the channel knob was a tactile experience.

That black and white Zenith was a purchase from the early years of my parent’s marriage. We’re talking 1950’s here. As a child in the seventies, it became a fixture in our living room.

One of my very, very early memories is from being toddler age. I would stand right in front of that television and grip its gray plastic bezel for balance. I didn’t grip too hard, because it would slide off, but just tight enough to keep gravity from winning.

I remember Walter Cronkite. He was giving a news update and showed a fairly clear film clip of soldiers carrying guns. This wasn’t a movie, it was the news.

I didn’t know what it was then, but it seemed bad. Walter’s face was serious. I stared at those men with guns rather intently. This image is still fresh in my memory. It took until adulthood to think back on it, on the timeframe that this must have occurred, to realize it was a news update on the war in Vietnam. I would have been three or so.

That Zenith with the stylized logo, the Z like a lightening flash, electricity zooming through the letters bring pictures to my screen, was where I stood too close to the screen and watched Dick Knipfing present the news of Albuquerque and New Mexico.

It was where I watched Sesame Street and soap operas and the Not Ready For Primetime Players on the first seasons of Saturday Night Live.

In the early 1980’s, my mom made a bold decision. It was time to invest in a color TV. This was long after most of our friends and neighbors had long since brought color screens into their lives.

Mom shopped and compared and finally she and Dad decided on a model from Sears. It had this fancy way of changing channels, you simply touched this little metal nub by the number of the channel you wanted! No turning a knob, simply a quick touch.

It was splendiferous!

And with the incoming color TV, the old Zenith black and white had to find a new home. So we carted it to our “Lake House,” really a single-wide trailer on a permanent concrete pad on a patch of land in Logan, New Mexico.

Logan is on the east side of the state, so the antenna on top of that trailer picked up the stations out of Amarillo. The Zenith black and white now reported ranch stock futures and the market price for pork and sides of beef. It entertained us after a day out swimming in the lake.

In fact, when my folks sold the place in Logan, that Zenith TV went with it. It still worked, by the way, though it took a heck of a long time for that tube to warm up.

They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

Today’s Theme Thursday is: Television

In Defense of Frank Burns

Lately, I have been subjected to a series of long and longwinded meetings.

When my latent child brain is subject to boredom, fascinating things happen.

So, when someone in a boring meeting made a comment that reminded me of an episode of M*A*S*H, it got me thinking about the characters which led me to…

Maybe over the years, we haven’t given Frank Burns a fair shake.

Stay with me here. I have a reasoned argument to present.

Changing the point of view on this to second person to make it more impactful, here is my defense of Frank Burns and why we shouldn’t hate, but have empathy.

Here we go:

Take the characters and situation and place them in the real world. Imagine if you will:

1) You work a job that is both dangerous and complex, and you are responsible for human lives. Being a doctor is actually very important to you. That said, your two coworkers (who you are also forced to live with) are not only arrogant and disrespectful, they are also complete alcoholics.

And yet, despite being drunk a fair percentage of the time, including while at work, they are viewed as the fair haired boys. Your boss overlooks their obvious addiction and goes so far as to tell you to get over it when you bring their questionable behavior to his attention. And you outrank those two buffoons!

Deep down you know that you, sober as a judge, will never be as good a surgeon as they are while drunk on homemade gin. That knowledge chips away at your self-esteem every single day.

2) You date one of the hottest chicks in camp, which is a good thing. But as I’m fond of telling my guy friends, “dating a very beautiful woman comes with challenges.”

I mean, she IS smoking hot. Fer chrissakes, they call her “hot lips”…the trouble is, there’s been plenty of guys who have sampled those hot lips. Your va-va-voom girlfriend is a notorious flirt and will openly discuss her partying with generals and colonels around the globe, and you’re expected to just take it with a smile.

She expects you to be a good military man and constantly compares you to her legendary father. Then she lets your roommates slide on their non-military behavior because, she reasons, they are so good at what they do.

And you become acutely aware that this chick is WAY out of your league. A little neurosis sets in as you try to hang on to the hottest girl you’ll ever lay a hand on in your entire life.

3) You get zero support at home. Ok, yes, there’s that cheating with Hot Lips issue which means you are not without some blame. And yet, a nice word in the mail from the spouse would be nice. You’d like to think your own wife would be in your corner, but she’s not.

Neither are your parents. And you don’t have any friends. It’s a lonely old world stuck in a grimy tent with two hotshot lunkheads mocking your inadequacies on a daily basis.

4) People call you Ferret Face. To your face. It’s not your fault you were the big loser in the genetic Olympics and wound up with a weak chin.

5) Your hot girlfriend pressures you all the time about getting married. This, despite the fact that you told her from the start you weren’t looking to leave your wife. It’s a constant nagging pressure.

Then she goes off on R&R one day and comes back engaged so some big, tall, athletic bohunk with a strong chin and suddenly your only friend in the world is now off limits.

And this causes you to slip off your nut. You really do love the girl, but maintaining the girl has been more than a weak-chinned man can take.

6) If you can’t have love or respect, then it sure would be great to be promoted to Lt. Colonel. People would be forced to respect a Lt. Colonel. A Medal of Honor would be nice too. That would really shut them up.

7) You are probably an undiagnosed case of Aspergers, or at the very least are prone to vicious bouts of OCD. But you get zero sympathy. Meanwhile, the chronic addicts are lauded and celebrated.

It’s a pretty solid case. The more I think on it, the more I feel a little bad for hating Frank all of those years. Perhaps time has been kind to ol’ Frank.

You know, no matter what Hollywood would have us believe, in life, it’s never as easy as “that guy is the good guy” and “that guy is the bad guy.” We’re all the bad guy. And the good guy.

And Frank Burns is misunderstood.

Photo found several places on the net but unable to find attribution. Will include attribution or remove at the request of the owner.

Word of the day: Obdurate

ob·du·rate   [ob-doo-rit, -dyoo-] –adjective

1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.

Ah obdurate. How I embody you so.

This word crossed my path again yesterday while watching an episode of Jeeves & Wooster, a fun British show that dates back to the early 90’s. The PG Wodehouse books date back much farther than that, some written in the early 1900’s and now in public domain (thus all loaded up on my Kindle!).

The Good Man introduced me to Jeeves & Wooster and I’m now hopelessly in love.

I love language and words, and Wodehouse certainly had a way with the Queen’s English.

So I sort of chuckled this morning when I turned to my blog idea generator, and this was the suggestion:

“When other people tell me what to do….”

Answer: I become obdurate.

I’m not proud of it. It’s just in my nature.

As the third of three kids born to a very smart and very in control family, I was “the baby” and thus everyone just, you know, told me what to do.

This certainly got me past many a hazard in my infancy, but there came a time, I don’t know what age, when damnit, I was tired of being told what to do!

So much so, that being told what to do made me act out.

It’s a trait that’s carried through to adulthood. In fact, it only became more deeply entrenched an increased in velocity.

One would think that this would make me a very bad employee. Actually, when it comes to managers I like and respect, I have no trouble being told what to do in the workplace.

No, Madame Obdurate is more of a home life kind of gal.

Which makes friends, family and loved ones *ever* so happy.

I find my tendency to dig in when someone tells me what to do really isn’t all that unique. It’s pretty much a go-to for most of us.

Because we’re all special little snowflakes, we want to do things our own damn way and I don’t care what you say and pa-tooey!


As I often say to my friends, you don’t have to be free of your emotional baggage, you just have to be self-aware about it.

See how I reel ’em in? Look at that face? Would she harm a fly? No, I don’t think so. But tell her what to do and WHAMMO! Obdurate all up in your grille!

Saturday is rantacular!

An open letter to the Bay Area’s NBC-11 (KNTV) television station

Dear programming directors at my local television station, NBC-11:

I’d like to begin our conversation by thanking you for televising Friday night’s San Francisco Giants baseball game on your regular ol’ not-cable television station.

For people like me who have gone back to days of yore by using rabbit ears to tune in my television, it’s fun to actually get a chance to watch my home team instead of only being able to listen on the radio.

The Good Man and I celebrated by eating bratwurst for dinner to get in the mood.

Very cool.

That said…

I’d like to kindly remind you that your whole reason for being in Los Angeles Friday night was to video and broadcast the game on behalf of your home viewers.

You know, the residents of the Bay Area? The SAN FRANCISCO Bay Area?

See, here’s the funny thing, by and large, on Friday, your viewers in the San Francisco Bay Area were all actively watching your fine station in order to see the Giants play baseball.

You know, the SAN FRANCISCO Giants?

So when you spend large portions of the game focused solely on Matt Kemp, giddy about Matt Kemp, how wonderful is Matt Kemp, showing us Matt Kemp in the dugout, Matt Kemp in the on deck circle, Matt Kemp picking his nose, you might fail to understand why I might be rather upset?

Why would I be this upset? Because %$!&ing Matt Kemp is a sonova$%#@ing player for the Dodgers!

How do I know this? Well, you see, I was able to take a gander at the front of his jersey. You might try this trick. Focus your freaking camera on him in every idle second, and you might get a close up look at the letters on his chest. Can you see it? Can you see it says D…O…D…G….


You are broadcasting a Giants game to Giants fans! Screw the Dodgers fans in the Bay Area! Who cares about them? They are not your core demographic!

I do not want to see Manny Ramirez unless he’s batting. I do not want to see Casey Blake unless he’s fielding a ball. I do not give one miniscule rat’s ASS about Matt Kemp unless he is batting or actively making a play.

And I give even less than a miniscule rat’s ass about all of the repeated views of Matt’s Kemp’s adorable little girlfriend Rhianna sitting in the stands.

Yes, we’re all very excited that Matt Kemp is dating Rhianna. Yes, she’s very cute. Yes, I know all you big sport broadcasting boys are squeeing with glee about the chance to film Rhianna sitting there with a hoodie over her head looking all cool. I know she’s like, oh my god, whoa, isn’t that the coolest thing ever, double squee!

But for f*ck’s sakes! Let’s just let the LA station broadcast the gratuitous lingering camera shots of their own players and their own players girlfriends.

Hey, here’s a cost saving idea! Why don’t *you* just use LA’s KCAL television feed for the next Giants-Dodgers game? That way I can, at the very least, listen to the dulcet tones of Vin Scully call the game.

At least that would be something interesting!


That said.

Saturday’s game is nationally televised on Fox. You know that that means? That means Joe Buck.

I guran-frapping-tee you that your crappy Friday night television coverage will hold up well by comparison to Joe freakin’ Buck’s uninspired and wooden-like call. I plan on feeling nauseated. Buck’s voice usually inspires that in me..

Because, NBC-11, you suck, but Joe Buck sucks worse.

And that’s something to build on.

Baseballically yours,


P.S. These are my pants. They are cranky. That is all.

Image found here.