Just switched off a radio interview so boring it could peel paint off the walls. (Really. I was getting paint chips in my hair.) Broadcast interviews are difficult, and I’m not one to throw stones, but making one this bad is a two-person job. There’s a certain sort of talker (and writer) who is never content to say “October” when he can say “the month of October,” or better yet, “the month in autumn that falls between September and November, which is to say, the month of October.” The only way to get these people to the point is to step in when they’re drawing a breath and redirect them a bit, but that’s a tricky business — be too abrupt and you sound rude; even the bored audience starts thinking, “Jeez, let the man finish his sentence,” although the sentence was meandering around the room with no period in sight.
Terry Gross has a well-deserved reputation as a skilled questioner, but I’d love to hear one of her raw tapes sometime; I would expect she has the benefit of some good editing. And even she can’t work miracles. I once heard her confess to being so bored in an interview that she actually fell asleep, and woke up when her lolling head hit the microphone.
I’d like to hear that one.
The person in the interview today was talking about Islam, and was distinctly American. But he had that tic you hear sometimes where a person tries to give a foreign word the native pronunciation. So Koran becomes “K’urahn,” etc. Spare me. Did you ever see the video of the initial interrogation of John Walker Lindh, the Taliban kid? Raised in NoCal, when he was questioned by the CIA he put on this preposterous Arab accent. “My fahther’s name…is Frahnk.” Talk Amur’can, kid.
Notice how many reporters say “Neek-a-rah-gwah” but never call the capital of France Par-ee?
Low-intensity rant over.
Here’s one I’m even less enthusiastic about: The iPhone. Oh sure, as a Mac-head I assume the usual kowtowing position in the direction of its elegant design, intuitive interface, blah to the blah. I won’t, however, be an early adopter. I blame my mom.
My mother never carried a big ring of keys. Her car keys were on one fob, house keys on another. She never fell for those all-in-one wallets, either, that holds all your cards, all your money and your checkbook, too; she carried all three separately. It’s obvious why: So when you lose one, you don’t lose everything. As it is, it’s terrifying to think of all I’d lose if my laptop were nicked, but even worse to imagine my laptop fitting into my pocket, too.
On the other hand, how wonderful it would be, as a journalist, to carry your one-man-band in a shirt pocket — to be able to write, take pictures and send the whole shebang back to the office without having a 5-pound device digging into your shoulder.
As for the phone, all I can say is: It’s Cingular. Beware.
Someone once wrote about the language of technology on the big screen, how there’s something about slamming a phone down that becomes part of the conversation, and the cell-phone era just doesn’t have an equivalent. Or rather, it didn’t, but the popularity of the folding phone sort of gave it one — snapping it shut is a gesture that can be performed quietly or angrily. When I saw the iPhone’s flat surface, my first thought was, great, another keypad that’ll have to be locked, and my second was, gotta get a new gesture for hanging up.
“Light Sleeper” was on last night, a film I ordinarily have a great deal of affection for. However, after last night, I see Alan’s point when he said, “Boy, is this pretentious and depressing.” The Call/Michael Been music on the soundtrack may have been the tipping point, especially since the budget seemed to have only allowed for one song, and so over and over the score told us that it feels like the world’s on fire. OK, OK, we get the point. Actually, the setting indicated that New York City was going through a garbage strike, but “it smells like the world’s an old rotting piece of fish” isn’t nearly as romantic-sounding.
Nice cast, though — Willem Dafoe, Susan Sarandon, Victor Garber, David Clennon (!!! my fave !!!), with Sam Rockwell and David Spade in bit parts with character names like Jealous and Theological Cokehead. (They’re the worst kind, aren’t they?)
As you can see, I’m plainly tapped out. Discuss the Surge if you’re so inclined. Throwing more good lives away, or something worse?