If you really want to get a sense of how trippy kids' shows can get, check out this intro from the classic HR Puffnstuff. Oh, I know that Japan has done its best to create some very surreal and bizarre anime for the past 30 years that have become even more crazy when adapted for the US, but Puffnstuff was just "Woah man, is that Mayor McCheese and a talking flute" kinda trippy.
Since I've been getting some nice responses from the two installments of Sesame Surrealism, and since it's too late to post a long and rambling lovehate about the minutae that is my pop cultured life, I give you Sesame Songs.
To refresh you on the basic concept, so many of the animated clips on Sesame Street, completely normal within the context of the show when we were kids, are odd to downright bizarre when watched on their own years later. The songs, however, were sometimes completely groovy and endlessly catchy.
Sunny days sweepin' the clouds away... I hope you are inspired to Do The Pigeon... that sounded dirty and probably illegal.
I remember, as children, we would get into a phase of being smart-asses with parents, teachers and friends... some of us haven't grown out of that phase, but that's the subject of another lovehate. We always sought the tangible and something we could sense before we would believe. It was this time that most of us would start questioning the faith we put in schools and churches.
And it was always the smartass in us who would question the teacher when they told us we would math or writing skills later in life. And it was the ignorant small-mindedness in us who would loudly proclaim, "If I can't see it, it doesn't exist!", or some other like absolute. And it was the same smartass in us who would find a thousand ways to disbelieve an authority figure until they trapped us in a simple geography loop like:
"Well, do you believe Iceland exists?"
And we'd say, "Sure!"
And they'd say, "Well, have you ever been there?"
And we'd say, "no."
And they'd say, "Well then, in your world anyway, Iceland must not exist because you've never seen it."
And we'd reply, "But it's in an atlas."
The truth that hammered home at that point, whether we realized it or not, was what do we put trust in, people or paper? I went through plenty of educational years where the text was gospel and the voice of the preacher at the pulpit was suspect. And now that a couple of decades are working through, I'm wondering how much has changed. Where do I place my trust these days when it comes to information about things from the useless and insignificant to things that are earth-shattering and replete with personal implications?
I'm not talking simple tendencies to believe here, I'm talking complete trust. There may the smattering of iconic Twitterers that you're willing to let guide you through your everyday tech news. There may be a number of bloggers that you're willing to accept suggestions from when it comes to your pop culture ingestion for the week. There may even be a some news outlets that you still believe completely when they report stories both good and bad. Where does our trust get limited with each and all of these sources?
If I get a phone call in the middle of the night from an unknown caller telling me to get down into my basement because a tornado is coming in five minutes, do I get out of bed and run downstairs. How about if I get that call from a neighbour?
In many ways the web has been the great equalizer of authority. While I find little reason to ever go to my MySpace page anymore, I remember how great a tool I thought it was for musicians when it first blew up because, in its nascent pahases, my music page offering up a list of a few songs was no different than the page allotted to some of the biggest recording artists in the world. The commonality between the design became the great equalizer and someone coming onto either page with no knowledge of either performer's works could make an unbiased decision on their musical likes and dislikes, not based on packaging, but on simple subjective like and dislike.
Early blogs allowed for this aspect as well, at least to a certain degree, but the proliferation of "professional" blogs and bloggers has driven a division between a trust based on content and a trust based on perception. If the content is not coming from the stylish "professional" looking site, are we less convinced that the content is true?
And as we move from the blog to the microblog (or essentially a status update) how do we then extend the trust factor. If someone who you just added to Facebook on a lark posts a status update telling you to disconnect your modem, reboot your computer and run a virus scan because a worm has just hit 90% of users on social networks, do you follow the advice? What if, instead of a little known acquaintance, it's a friend who you know is not that strong with computers? What if it's a random Twitter follower, or perhaps one of the Twitterati who should know what they're talking about? Do you follow any of these recommenders solely based on trust, or do you require back up that you could spend valuable time searching for while your hard drive gets more corrupted?
Are we that much different from the student who was willing to disrespect the authority without the paper and text backup? If the link attached to the warning, that directs us to a blog of unknown origin, spells out the threat in detail, yet we are unfamiliar with the writer of the blog, we are in a quandry. Do we trust a CNN.com story of a virus more than one we might pick up from a reputed tech blog? Do we still need to see the atlas page of Iceland?
If the web is the great equalizer, how are we redefining our concepts of trust around the presenters of such information. I don't know that there are any Edward R. Murrows or Walter Cronkites out there who completely own the undivided trust of this single medium. The web's anarchic authority subjectivity is messy business that I'm quite happy to have muddled and sullied by lies and half-truths, because the day information gets presented in blacks and whites instead of millions of shades of grays and browns it currently resides in, is the day the medium ceases to be culturally relevant and instead becomes as devoid as a newspapers and television reporting.
As much as I never know who to completely trust on the web, I do have faith that the truth is somewhere out there as opposed to the lack of the same faith I have with traditional media. They used to advertise indoor Monster Truck Rallies with "We're turning the arena into a GIANT MUDPIT!" Enjoy the mudpit folks; one day it will be gone and replaced by a parking lot with lots of flourescent signs and big box stores. For now, in web we trust - so say we all.
What can I say? In the context of the show, great learning moments. On their own, it's like someone dropped the brown acid at Woodstock.
I think a substantial precedent has been set here by Comcast in establishing a price for incidental and unwanted porn viewing. As Comcast is also an ISP of major import, doesn't anyone else feel that any porn I'm subjected to now as a result of pop ups or banner ads during my web browsing experience should now have a $10 credit attached?
I'm not buying into the fact that there's an expectation of porn on the web no matter what... I throroughly believe it... but I'm not telling Comcast that.
Comcast claimed “we did an extensive preliminary check on our technical systems, and everything appeared to be working properly when the incident occurred.” If everything was working properly, then maybe they planned on showing porn!
They originating network said "KVOA’s signal didn’t have porn on it when the station sent it over to Comcast." Maybe we can chalk it up to a wardrobe malfunction. Someone at Comcast starting flailing around in the throes of ecstasy while watching porn at the Comcast cable HQ when shoelace caught on a panel switch as they were falling off their chair.
Asking... Why no Web 2.1? How tasty are frogs? What's in an egg? And why does the CRTC piss me off so much?
I don't know if she drank so that she could help see Orson, but apparently Cheryl Mork of Saratoga, Wisconsin just couldn't stay sober (and out of her car) long enough to get convicted for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th offence of drunk driving. Instead, they had to package them all together in a tidy bundle that resulted in 3 years in prison, 180 days in jail, and 5 years extended supervision.
During her sentencing Mork apologize by sitting face first in a chair and saying, “I’d just like to apologize to my fellow human beings for putting their lives in danger.” Although she didn't add, "especially that 7th and 8th time 'cause I was really shitfaced! Na-Nu! Na-Nu!"
She was sentenced by Wood County Circuit Court Judge Zappen Jr., whose actions really hold little interest to me other than the fact that it has become my new favorite tongue twister... try it 5 times fast!
While I know that many readers south of the 49th parallel will have no idea what the CRTC is, and probably many Canadians won't either, I've had it with their ridiculous protectionist practices when it comes to primetime television.
I'm an avid television watcher. Some might call me an addict though I can't hear them because I'm watching Big Bang Theory. While many of you in the US are used to having local affiliates broadcast network shows and take advantage of being able to sell and show local ads to garner their revenue, the permissions of the affiliates only extend to their own channel.
The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission employs methodologies that have been prompted by the lobbying efforts of local Canadian stations and cross the line from logical to manipulative and destructive to the medium. In essence, the CRTC mandates that where a Canadian station is showing the same show as a US station that can also be seen by a viewer, the Canadian channel will "take over" the US channel for the entirety of the broadcast.
For example, I cannot watch Lost on WKBW from Buffalo (Cable 9) because at 9pm my local CTV affiliate is showing the same episode and Cable 9 becomes Cable 16 for the entire hour. Essentially, the cable providers have been ordered to redirect feeds to accommodate this protectionist regulation. Why shouldn't I have the right to watch to the show through a US feed if I want to? What harm does it do to CTV but for the chance their advertising will go down... and there's the rub.
Some of you might be thinking "what difference does it make if they're showing the same episode on both channels?" There are a few problems that are not clearly evident unless you are subject to it, but I'll try to illuminate:
- I should have the right to watch US commercials if I wish. Paying for cable gives me that right. While I admire the fact that the CRTC on one hand restricts the amount of paid ads a station can show each hour, this merely subjects me to the mind-numbing repetition of station promos every commercial break to fill in the gaps.
- Many primetime episodes from US networks are now tinkering with start/end times. Sometimes an episode runs for an extra one or two minutes (usually where a cliffhanger happens). Canadian stations don't only broadcast shows from one US network; they mix and match. If the 63 minutes broadcast of Fringe ends at 10:03 on Fox, but on Global Canada they've got an episode of Lipstick Jungle set to start at 10:00, the feed will often jump to the new show before the previous one fninished - ON BOTH CHANNELS. That means that even if I was watching Global, saw the switch, frantically switched to FOX, I'd still be watching the beginning of Lipstick Jungle instead of the end of Fringe.
- During a big television event (read: Superbowl, Oscars, etc.) US networks often debut new ad campaigns with high-end commercials that we will never get to see. I know that some of you can't understand the allure of seeing a new commercial, but trust me, it far beats seeing another promo for Corner Gas during the two minute warning of the big game.
- The Canadian uptake on HDTV has been very well implemented in some cases but annoying faulty in others. In watching the CTV-HD feed of the NFL yesterday the HD dropped out at least a dozen times down to SD for half a minute or more.
When I emailed the CRTC with this complaint earlier this year, they claimed Canadians wanted it this way and it was the law. First, if Canadians wanted to watch Canadian feeds, they could still do so. Second, laws evolve and are prone to change when people realize how wrong they are.
The CRTC has a place. The CRTC has a purpose. Its place should not be on a US channel that I pay for. Its purpose should be to offer me choice, not restrict it. If you're Canadian, go to the CRTC website, register a complaint and see how little they're willing to even discuss remedy. If you're American, be happy we don't spend billions of dollars each year on television programming, because if you wanted to watch our stuff, your government would probably be lobbied to do the same thing.
On the folly of citizen and network journalism and how Twitter might
plan on making money... oh, and girls being married to frogs.
I never thought I'd miss the days of some wide-eyed day-shift reporter who never thought they were ever going to do anything but read headline copy go painstakingly over a diagram or schematic 35 times while so-called experts, who were usually just whoever could be reached by phone first, were called to comment on the same picture. I never thought I would miss that until the Hudson River Splashdown.
What followed on CNN was some of the most painful reporting I have ever seen since the network kept vigil outside of Brett Favre's plane on the tarmac for 45 minutes when he came to NYC before signing last season.
I don't know, or want to know, the reporter's name as I've tried to burn all record of it from my skull, but CNN talked to a man who saw the plane touch down in the river from his 25th floor office and then disappear from sight behind other buildings. Ben Vonklemperer's moment in the sun was peppered with questions like: "Did the plane seem in distress?", "Were there any obvious signs something was wrong?", and "How do you think the pilot handled the situation?" This is a guy in AN OFFICE! One minute he's pushing papers around a desk and the next he's being called into services as a field correspondent in avionics.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as excited about the prospect of 10,000 points of information streaming in from an array of sources when a crisis arises. The web is equipped to deal with such information, the television networks are not. Two friends and I sat in front of the CNN web feed while this poor guy was being asked to wax intellectual about things he had no idea about, and one could tell from the tone of his voice that he was as dumbfounded at the questions as the viewers were.
Citizen Journalism is an oxymoron.
A citizen can witness, absorb, and even find ways to interact with a story. Their participation in a story is, in many ways, part of the story itself. A witness is flooded by perceptions from one viewpoint at one time. They are qualified to relay just that, one viewpoint from one time.
A reporter's job is to parse the viewpoints and opinions and statements and subjectivity and objectivity to craft what comes to be, at least with everything available at the time, a definitive statement about the events until the next definitive statement comes along. The web scares the hell out of real reporters and journalists. Let's face it, the concept of being "scooped" has always been the death knell of a story. If someone reports before you do, your story is derivative. Television news, with it's current technology, will ALWAYS be scooped by the web.
But reporters shouldn't be afraid of this. They should, instead, still take the time to craft the story instead of providing us the equivalent of a Twitter hashfeed over the air. This immediacy to journalism, while intoxicating to some viewers, yet strangely excruciating to me, has turned journalism into rehash and reporting into commercial fishing: let's cast a big net and see if we can come up with anything.
Twitter users are not journalists. They only qualify as reporters at the semantic level and, most often, the only real information their reporting in how many other people are tweeting the same things. Someone who snaps a picture on their iPhone may or may not be a good photographer, but they are certainly not a journalist.
Television journalism is dying because networks are trying to keep up with a medium that moves fast that cable news feeds or satellite hookups. The reason these so-called "citizen journalists" are getting any credibility at all is not because citizen journalists are getting better, but simply that traditional journalism is getting worse.
On a sliding scale between Ron Burgundy and Walter Cronkite, the credibility and attention to crafting a clear, concise story places almost all citizen journalists well below Burgundy. Traditional journalists, however, are showing themselves quite adept at closing that gap... maybe that's how they roll.