And my point is…

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?

Posted at 11:32 am in Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

9 responses to “And my point is…”

  1. Laura said on January 11, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Ah, Miles Drentell. My favorite bad guy.

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  2. brian stouder said on January 11, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    So the other night I was bored – won 3 games of Free Cell and then lost two (I hate losing streaks!), and shut the computer off. Pam had left the tv on in the living room, and was working on a scrapbook page. As I searched out the poker (gotta check msnbc before lights out, y’know) I noticed that Courtney Cox was on the screen…and then I thought – boy, it almost looks like she’s using a vibrator in this scene – and as I was drawn in, it became clear that her character was indeed!

    In subsequent scenes over the next 20 minutes, she alternately deployed the toy again, and had an unsatisfying romp with a male-model/athlete type. I don’t know how they can make a series out of this, since I suspect we’ve seen the whole formula.

    Anyway, the odd intimate behavior of Ms Cox’s character (a driven, careerist media woman) was reminding me of something…and then the next day it hit me: Faye Dunaway in Network!

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  3. LA mary said on January 11, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    What is there to say about the surge? More lives lost and no end in sight? It’s horrible.

    I heard the most amazing thing on some call in show on NPR about three weeks ago. There was a general, not sure which one, taking calls about the war. A national guard soldier who had done two tours in Iraq wondered why there were so many reserves and national guard soldiers in Iraq, and so many full time Army guys in places like Germany. This general actually said that they didn’t want reserves and national guard guys to feel like second class soldiers. They wanted them to be right in the thick of it. This particular caller asked him if he was serious, and offered to be considered second class and out of harms way.

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  4. John said on January 11, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    My friend Bob and I have a running joke about Latino TV reporters who speak in perfect English, then get to their name in the sign-off and go all Spanish on you. Can’t say there’s anything wrong, of course. It just always make me laugh.

    You also reminded me of a great phone slammer I used to sit across from in a newsroom. The desks weren’t big and we were, literally, less than four feet apart. He was a great guy and an excellent reporter, just intense and overcaffeinated. I recall many times when he’d slam the thing down so hard there would be a lingering “ringggggggggg.” I also remember, fondly, many moments of: “SO WHEN THE F#@K WERE YOU PLANNING ON CALLING ME BACK? THANKS FOR NOTHING?!” SLAMMMMMM. (pause), then, quietly … “So whatchu workin’ on Carp?”

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  5. Dorothy said on January 11, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I’m praying all the time that my brother-in-law, who is National Guard, does not get sent to Iraq. He already did a year in Kosovo, and got back about a year ago. Seems like it’s putting off the inevitable.

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  6. brian stouder said on January 11, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    to paraphrase my response the subject was raised in Leo-land –

    I thought it was a fine, firm, and firmly realistic speech, for a change.

    It took much too long for him to get to this point, but it sounds like his thinking is finally moving in the right direction. Anyway, that is my sincere hope.

    (this was answered by one of the crankier Leo-land libertarian loons; otherwise the subject dropped.)

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  7. basset said on January 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    that wasn’t Carp in OKC, was it?

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  8. LA mary said on January 11, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    If you had seen the beginning of the show it was even more formulaic. It’s a show called “Dirt” and Courtney Cox plays a hardbitten tabloid/gossip rag editor. You can make up the dialogue for this show all by yourself. Another one of those.

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  9. Bob said on January 11, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    In my opinion, Diane Rehm is the best in the business at keeping interviewees on track and at reining in guests whose passion overwhelms their sense of civility.

    I enjoy listening to Terry Gross, but some of her guests have me reaching for the off button after a few minutes. Some people who get paid for writing books can’t speak a sentence that isn’t littered with multiple instances of “y’know” and “umm-ahh” and “like.” In an apparent attempt to sound introspective and insightful, they come off sounding like 70s stoners. They use more air time for meaningless noises and superfluous words than for content.

    I want to reach through the radio and slap them and scream, “Make a point or STFU, you babbling idiot!”

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