First a hologram, now this.

I wandered through the room as Lester Holt was laying out the pirate-rescue details on NBC, and of course I stopped. (I cannot walk past Lester Holt without stopping, I am so fascinated by his utterly immobile upper lip. My old neighbor, the ex-dental hygienist, theorized he’d had extremely good cleft-lip surgery at some point in his life. But never mind that.)

What fascinated me this time was the animation of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips. They needed an animation — a re-creation, based on information provided by the Navy — because of course reporters weren’t there. I don’t know how close the U.S. news media was able to get to the scene, but the correspondent on the scene was in Kenya, so that’s a pretty good bet. Anyway, the animation was very odd. You know those caricatures you see lately, where the caricature is all done in Photoshop? (Example.) No need to learn to draw when you can emphasize features with digital tools. It was like that — the “ocean” was plainly a water tank, the “ships” were toy models and the Somali pirates were symbolized by three black silhouettes; when they were “shot,” the silhouettes popped into the air and then flew out of frame.

Oh, hell — let’s just go spelunking for the damn clip. Here it is. Sorry about the Applebee’s ad.

I’m not opposed to re-creations or animated graphics. This one was just weird. And sorry, but I’m a word person. Describe it simply and clearly, and I can see it in my head. Lots of people probably think a lifeboat resembles a giant rowboat, however, like the ones in “Titanic.” So I can see the problem.

By the way, is there anything to these reports, about why the pirates feel justified in robbing American and European ships? I know, I know — failed state, warlords, etc. But if Italian mafias were shipping toxic wastes to my coastline to dump, I’d be pissed, too.

How was your Easter? Mine was lovely. We went to the Detroit Institute of Arts, not to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit or anything, but just to poke around. I hadn’t been since the big reno/reorg a couple years ago, so that was interesting — it really is a better museum now, with rooms grouped around ideas rather than strictly by periods. (Two ways of looking at an arch, Gothic and Renaissance, for instance.) Alas, we couldn’t linger with the Diego Rivera murals; there was some sort of presentation going on there, a dramatic storytelling thing that required a loud, screechy voice that echoed around the space and was not exactly conducive to art appreciation. Another time.

I also stayed away from my computer for much of the weekend, although I did finish my taxes and discovered, mirabile dictu, I’m getting a refund. Nothing like having a little money worry go away to make a person feel mellow and happy. Which is why I don’t understand Caroline Kennedy these days — glutton for punishment, or does she really think these things should be hers? The Vatican? Why not Ireland, or Luxembourg, or some nice, inconsequential minor principality with good food and a decent party circuit? Who in their right mind would want to grovel before Ratzi? As Michael Wolff puts it:

Caroline Kennedy has come to represent something that makes people crazy. Whatever she wants, people don’t want her to have. This is partly because she can’t but seem to act like she’s entitled to it. And it is partly because she does not seem to want to bother erecting the pretense that she is qualified for it (after all, she, of all people, knows that most politicians are not brain surgeons). And it is partly because her desperation is so apparent. She needs a job. Any job. Please. Which is not a good way to present yourself.

Well, yeah. Is being rich that boring? Having made one’s choice (to be quiet and wealthy and good), is it so hard to realize it doesn’t come with all the benefits one would like? This girl needs a good therapist.

And that’s it for me, today. Off to speak to a journalism class out in Dearborn and then to contribute to my IRA. And then to e-file.

Posted at 8:18 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media |

27 responses to “First a hologram, now this.”

  1. brian stouder said on April 13, 2009 at 9:16 am

    even if we judge that Somali’s Huffington Post (oddly proud) apologia for “our pirates” on the ‘thin reed’ scale, it’s STILL exceptionally weak. But whatever floats his boat (so to speak); that art museum sounds interesting. Maybe this summer the young folks and I will do Dearborn/UGRR/Tigers in D-town.

    btw – aren’t refunds great? For years, bean-counter types have told me that if I get more than a thousand bucks back, I should reduce the witholding rate and keep more of our money on the FRONT end, and that I shouldn’t let Uncle Sam have interest free loans, yadda yadda yadda. etc etc.

    I say “Pffffft”. A chunk of money in April is a very nice thing, period!

    672 chars

  2. Julie Robinson said on April 13, 2009 at 9:34 am

    We were both struck by the NBC animation–it appeared to have been done circa 1968. Was there no one on duty with graphic skills? We don’t normally watch any news on NBC, so I can’t compare it to what they usually have. I’m just grateful that Captain Phillips is safe.

    Easter Sunday was sunny and almost warm, and here in the Fort that’s as good as we can expect. Saturday we had a great time dyeing eggs, and yes our youngest is 21. He even posted the pix to his facebook page.

    Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

    538 chars

  3. whitebeard said on April 13, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Abysmal animation! Was it take your two-year-old to work on Easter Sunday at NBC and have him/her help out in the graphics department?
    But that was a feel-good story for Easter Sunday; the Navy snipers were incredible, the captain was saved and the U.S. Navy and their commander-in-chief are royally stirred up to do something about the pirates.
    I cannot imagine how the Repugs can twist that around to explain the failings, but I am sure they will try.

    456 chars

  4. jcburns said on April 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Well, believe it or not, they did use modern tools, but they tried to so something fancy…they motion-tracked the fake boats to the fake waves, and the result ended up looking especially..uh..fake.

    198 chars

  5. James said on April 13, 2009 at 10:09 am


    Just checked out the animation, and weird is indeed the word for it. It might have been 3D water, but maybe they put in a weird factor for the rate of change in the water. Can’t imagine them actually shooting water – too labor intensive, but you never know.

    267 chars

  6. MichaelG said on April 13, 2009 at 10:25 am

    That animation was pretty funny. It reminds me of some of the kiddy kartoon shows. No awards for NBC for that coverage. Everybody keeps saying that the Maersk Alabama incident is the first experience with piracy for the U.S. in two hundred years. That ignores the Mayaguez debacle of 1975 which, while it may or may not technically have been piracy, must certainly have been on the minds of those who were running the show off Somalia.

    492 chars

  7. moe99 said on April 13, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Let me be the first to go off the tracks, but here is a worthy followup to the Antwerp, Belgium train station video. Just think, we could all sing together using this method:

    245 chars

  8. billw said on April 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

    The animation was bad, but so was the whole report. I haven’t watched a teevee news report for many years and this was a reminder why. Two simultaneous information sources of varying quality to keep track of, offhand unsourced unchallenged statements presented with authority but contradicted by reading I’ve done on the net, a pointless low-quality animation that distracts attention from the narrative, the inability (without tivo) to go back and make sense of something or check other sources, etc. These teevee journalists need to learn to distill the facts into a coherent truthful story. Anymore, teevee journalism is for old folks who don’t know how to check sources on the net.

    689 chars

  9. brian stouder said on April 13, 2009 at 11:41 am

    “That ignores the Mayaguez debacle of 1975”

    Or Pueblo 1968

    62 chars

  10. mark said on April 13, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Perhaps Caroline Kennedy could be appointed Special Ambassador to Somalia to address the legitimacy of random acts of piracy for profit by drugged up Somalis as a response to the government of Somalia contracting away it’s coastal waters as a waste dumping ground.

    264 chars

  11. MichaelG said on April 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

    That’d work, Mark. She could wear them out with her liberal guilt.

    67 chars

  12. Sue said on April 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

    “And sorry, but I’m a word person. Describe it simply and clearly, and I can see it in my head.”
    It wasn’t until I heard a description on the radio that I really ‘saw’ it, and understood how incredible it must have been. Unless the radio person had the information wrong, it was three shooters, three bullets, three hits, and somehow they were able to do this on moving water, while missing the hostage. A word that is overused in most instances but perfectly correct here: awesome.
    My Easter: In an obvious ploy to keep political discussion off limits, we rudely took over the television as soon as we got to my in-laws, and kept it on sports all day, going between the White Sox game, the Black Hawks game, and the Masters. It worked. The main gripe point of everyone was that golf was boring and how could we expect them to watch it. An hour later, everyone had a player they were rooting for and later on the Tiger-Phil thing had everyone fighting for room on the sofa. A successful day.

    1003 chars

  13. alex said on April 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Ah, Lester Holt. I used to see him in the Starbucks on McClurg Court every morning back when he was an anchor at WBBM. Always thought his two front teeth were a tad off center.

    176 chars

  14. Julie Robinson said on April 13, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    And Sue, the snipers were also working at night! Pretty impressive.

    Thanks, Moe–I’m passing that one along to the music students in my life.

    145 chars

  15. moe99 said on April 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    amazon just got caught taking GLBT books off its virtual shelves:

    140 chars

  16. brian stouder said on April 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    So I tripped over a BREAKING NEWS banner at msnbc that Phil Spector’s murder trial jury has a verdict (soon to be released) and then, on the same page, I tripped again – over this story about a death behind the green door

    Together with the pirate stories, and the unhinged reaction to yet another Obama success from the right side of punditland, this has been an odd news day all around

    445 chars

  17. jeff borden said on April 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    One thing about Lester Holt that stands out –or stood out when he was in Chitown– was his genuine friendliness. He was one of the good guys. No name-dropping. No ego-tripping. He also wore a moustache while here, so maybe that lip thing you were discussing was hidden beneath those whiskers. He was in a “no-win” situation as the anchor of our sad sack CBS affiliate, which has been in 3rd place since a little before forever. I’m glad he’s doing well on the national stage.

    476 chars

  18. harrison said on April 13, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    nancy, you said:

    (I cannot walk past Lester Holt without stopping, I am so fascinated by his utterly immobile upper lip. My old neighbor, the ex-dental hygienist, theorized he’d had extremely good cleft-lip surgery at some point in his life. But never mind that.)

    another celebrity who had immobile upper lip was the actor jason robards, jr. he got it after facial surgery when he was in an auto accident in 1972.

    429 chars

  19. Rana said on April 13, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Not only was that animation jaw-droppingly bad, but so was the anchoring. It just reeked of the Portentious Voice of NOOZ! that turned me off of television news coverage a long time ago. Thanks for the reminder of why I don’t watch it!

    As for Applebee’s – based on my experience there, those pictures of food really ought to be called out as false advertising. I’ve rarely seen such sad, over-salted, over-cooked things on my plate as the time I was there. Lots of iceberg lettuce, too.

    493 chars

  20. alex said on April 13, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    At one point WBBM handed their losing news show to Carol Marin and gave her free reign to reinvent it, which she did. As I recall, she tried a show that was much more heady, more like the shows of Jim Lehrer or John Callaway on PBS. The ratings still didn’t budge for Channel 2, and in fact might have gotten worse.

    Carol got her serious news creds largely by way of very publicly jumping ship at Channel 5 when the station threatened to install Jerry Springer as a co-anchor in order to goose the ratings.

    EDIT: Rana, it’s amazing that people pay their hard-earned money for this when there are so many better alternatives, including what they could pour out of a can in their own damn kitchens.

    703 chars

  21. LA Mary said on April 13, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    The dish of what I assume is artichoke parmesan spinach dip, looks revolting in a tubercular sort of way. I work in health care. Everything is about disease.

    157 chars

  22. LA Mary said on April 13, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Just watched the video again, and now I remember what it reminds me of. My kids used to watch a show on Nickelodeon called Kablaam! and on that show was something called Action League Now, which had kids toys playing the parts in some adventure. It was a little better than that boat/ship animation. I think you can see Action League Now someplace online.

    356 chars

  23. Dexter said on April 13, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    …never saw animation like that…say goodbye to three pirates, courtesy of Eugene Field, and yes, the goddam shoe really did come down from the sky:
    “All night long their nets they threw
    To the stars in the twinkling foam—
    Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
    Bringing the fishermen home;
    ‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
    As if it could not be,
    And some folks thought ‘t was a dream they ‘d dreamed
    Of sailing that beautiful sea—
    But I shall name you the fishermen three:
    And Nod. ”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~……..and I get cash back, too, which is already spent, of course.
    And Detroit and the baseball world mourn Mark Fidrych,The Bird, killed at his farm, working on his truck. I saw him pitch one fine day in Cleveland, 1976. He was truly special, 54 years old and still much-loved in Detroit.

    937 chars

  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 13, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Can’t imagine why you’d think the Irish Republican Party is worth a donation, Nancy.

    84 chars

  25. Connie said on April 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    I get a big refund too, thanks to the various tax breaks for those of us who are paying our kids’ college tuition. And just like last year, the refund goes right into the tuition account to be recycled. One more year! No more FAFSAs!

    236 chars

  26. Dexter said on April 13, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I caught the last inning of the NY Mets opener at …gulp!… Citi Field.
    At least the Astros of Houston pulled the plug on Enron Field and changed the name ASAP…the Mets are opening a stadium honoring Citi!! It’s really very incredible. …ok now..chillin’ to some John Prine and Townes van Zandt tunes….

    312 chars

  27. Dexter said on April 14, 2009 at 2:34 am

    OK, I know sports takes a back seat at NN.C, but here’s my Freep post:

    Mark Fidrych was little different in fame than a pop band as huge as The Beatles. Everybody loved him.
    Little kids tuned in to his persona, old grandpas laughed and shook their heads and probably recalled the Dean brothers of the old Gashouse Gang.
    Young girls went crazy over him and old women gazed with approval.
    Above all, Mark made us feel good about ourselves.
    I would catch a report on the previous night’s game and it would make me feel good about doing eight or twelve hours in a hot factory, running and maintaining huge punch presses for the auto industry.
    He wasn’t a clown and he wasn’t really anything but a genuine star, and we all loved him. I would listen to the games on WJR and listen to J.P. give the recap in the morning on the way to work.
    I would drive to Cleveland or Chicago , too, for games on weekends or off days . We’d see Mark and say “hi! ” and he’d always wave back and sometimes exchange a few words with us. He was just special, one of my favorite people

    1070 chars