Tag Archives: thoughts

Before Reality Television

Before Cops and The Real World, there were news reels and home videos.  It could be a mere case of semantics, but this footage of Robert W. Woodruff reminds me much more of 21st century reality television than any decade’s evening news segment.*

The beginning of the clip reads:

16MM Home Movies Shot By Robert W. Woodruff And His Friends

Woodruff’s associates as The Coca-Cola Company gave him a camera in 1925 on the eve of his first trip to Europe.

The gift was accompanied by a note that read:

“It is with no idea that we could possibly keep check on you in Europe that we give you a motion picture outfit, but were are merely prompted in this gift by the knowledge, gleaned from past experience with you, that no ‘still’ camera could keep up with you.”

How brilliant.  The man himself knew that the most effective way of capturing the world through his eyes is with moving pictures.

For me, “reality television” might as well be called “tagging along.”  Whether or not the words spoken and spectacle aired are edited out of context is irrelevant.  When I watch these shows featuring people I never knew existed, I feel like I’ve been permitted to sit in the back seat and witness their highs, lows, and periods of stagnation.

* This interview with Coco Chanel, for instance, is more journalistic to me.

Who wants color bars in their mind?

To block out bad memories or images? Natalie Tran is brilliant.

“Where did you last put them?”
If they were where I last put them, I would’ve found the lost object by now, wouldn’t I have?

The reason why that doesn’t work in the real life is that people, and inanimate objects, have their own agendas.  The mechanical pencil will sprout legs and walk away.

How do you respond when someone asks “Where did you last put them?” when you cannot find a file on your computer?

“Yes, I’ve looked in My Documents, My Downloads, My Photos.  No, I clicked Save not Open File…”

As for the title of this post, if you could choose a visual effect to replace bad memories or a few seconds of imagery here and there, would you like color bars? If not, what would you choose?

Technologically Fantastical or just Unlikely?

Which of these apparati could actually be built, proven to operate effectively, and be available for retail in the next five to ten years?  Are there any already existing devices that perform similarly to what I’ve imagined?

A.  A computer keyboard outfitted with the hardware and software necessary to turn written words into music.  Notes, octaves, chord progressions are programmable.  Default instrument would be the piano with options to select major chords, minor chords, or both, and to adjust tempo.  Versions 2, 3, 3.14, and 411 would have options for guitar, violin, accordion, saxophone, and harp.  Initially, the keyboard would require a person to type the words; after a couple rounds of advancements, it would allow a person to import text.

I wonder what the book of Genesis would sound like as music “translated” from English words vs. from Greek.  What would the Constitution sound like?  Imagine the musical-literary possibilities!  A person could compose music through written language…without knowing how to read and write musical notes (yes, I know that not all musicians and songwriters know how to read/transcribe music).

B.  A plug-in for an e-reader such that a person can modify the grammar of a text to fit his own standards or to emulate another authorial voice.  Don’t like split infinitives? No problem, go to Menu–>Text–>Modify–>Grammar–>Unsplit Infinitives and no more “to boldly go” or “to stoutly dare,” instead, you’ll be graced with “to go boldly” and “to dare stoutly.”

Do you think you’d like this chapter more if it were in first person (as is the rest of the book)? No problem, go to Menu–>Text–>Modify–>Narrator Voice–First Person.  Wonder if this Candace Bushnell conversation would sound better a la Jane Austen?  No problem, go to Menu–>Text–>Modify–>Narrative Style–>Jane Austen (or Mark Twain, HP Lovecraft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, generic Beat poet, or George Halas if you prefer).


Not a fan of adverbs? Worry not, go to Menu–>Text–>Modify–>Grammar–>Parts of Speech–>Adverbs–>Eliminate (or decrease by 25%).

C.  A non-turn signal on the roof of an automobile that a driver would flick on to let other motorists know, “I am going straight when the light turns green; I am not going to turn right or left, so stop honking and getting so close to my car that I can see the pores on your nose in my side-view mirror.”

D.  A plug-in/app/other device that would enable a person to mute, beep out, or word-swap whatever word a person wishes not to hear.  A typographical version of it exists for online discussion boards so that curse words can be automatically replaced with neutral words of the administrators’ choice.  Could researchers and developers not apply it to the aural realm outside television programming?  For example, if Sven hates the word “lactate,” he could go to this device, punch in to the relevant fields “replace ‘lactate/lactates/lactated/lactating’ with ‘granule,'” and the like.  Or, “replace ‘hefty’ with ‘le fromage” so that if someone were to say within earshot, “I cannot believe my Aunt Maggie is still lactating after all that hefty feeding session from last weekend,” Sven would hear, “I cannot believe my Aunt Maggie is still granule after all that le fromage feeding session from last weekend.”


Oh!  And just for schnaaps and giggles, Sven could “replace one/wrong, me, you, money, leave, been, feeling, and filling” with “wong, ming, yoo, monkey, lee, bean, filling, and feeling.”