AUGUST 23, 2014 I'LL TAKE SPORTS FOR $200, ALEX
Chyron, the company that manufactured the character generator, provided a font library for their machine on 8-inch floppy disks. A few dozen styles were available. Some were offered in only one size, but there were several that came in five different sizes, providing flexibility.
One of those, called Korinna Bold, caught our eye. It was a fresh, relatively new font; the modern version had been introduced only ten years before. It had some flair, with the distinctive shapes of the P and the N and especially the U, yet it was sufficiently bold for sports television. So we chose it to build the full screens and lower thirds that wed need for baseball. Our new look premiered on a road game on April 6.
Unfortunately, by the time the team returned to Pittsburgh, the network was out of business, and our graphics package was never seen again. More details are here.
That same year, however, a long-running game show was being updated with a new host and a new look for syndication. And the producers made the same Chyron choice that Betsy and I had made.
Thirty years ago next month, Alex Trebek introduced Jeopardy! with the clues given in Korinna. The fonts still there three decades later. You cant keep a good idea down.
Here are some other notes.
Korinna was also used for the intertitles and closing credits on the 1993-2004 comedy Frasier.
Ken Jennings claims that when he had his winning run 10 years ago, the name of the show was still pronounced jee-OP-ur-dee.
And why is it called Jeopardy anyway? Alex could say, I told you that on the very first program, when I explained how the game is played. Werent you listening? Do I have to repeat the rules every 30 years?
AUGUST 19, 2014 MARRIAGE: NO ONE'S DOING IT RIGHT
Every live telecast has a format or rundown, a couple of pages listing the order of the various elements in the show and how many minutes each should last.
Years ago, cleaning up the studio after one such program, I retrieved a used format and discovered that one of the performers had not been concentrating totally on her performance. Her mind was on her marriage. She'd had a stormy relationship with her husband and had finally decided to give up, doodling these words in the margin of her format: The End. The End. The very very very end. Eventually there was a divorce.
Later, that incident inspired me to put together a little libretto, a sort of Greek tragedy with two characters and a chorus. I wrote the lyrics as if they were to be sung, including The End and some other fragments from correspondence of the time. However, I made no attempt to compose the music.
AUGUST 13, 2014 R.I.P. MORK
Last month I quoted some of Eric D. Sniders Twitter remarks, so it seems appropriate to pass on his tweets from Monday:
Depression doesnt mean sadness. Many peoples first reaction was Why was Robin Williams depressed? He had everything. To Erics tweets, Damien Owens added, Please remember that What are you depressed about? makes no more sense that What are you diabetic about?
Years ago, when I needed to do some research as an Oberlin College student, I walked over the repository of all knowledge on the campus: Carnegie Library. There, working back and forth between the card catalogs and the stacks, I eventually identified two or three books that contained some information on my subject. I carried them to a desk and turned the pages. When I found something I could use, I transcribed it in my notebook. Eventually these notes became the foundation of my little report.
But now theres an easily available repository of all knowledge in the world: the Internet. And its searchable by keyword! Theres no need to travel to a big library, no need to locate books using a card catalog, and no need to turn their pages. I cant get over how much easier this is.
This week, I was preparing an article that will appear on this website Monday. A small part of it concerns an obscure 19th-century preacher named John Ingersoll. He couldnt hold a job. None of his congregations liked him. However, I discovered, he was associated with a more famous revivalist named Charles Finney. And Finney later became the second president of my alma mater, Oberlin College. I'd discovered a connection with personal relevance!
Consulting the Internet, I opened a lengthy biography of Finney and asked my browser to find all the appearances of the word Ingersoll. And it did. Besides confirming his incompetence, the bio mentioned that in 1840 Ingersoll actually lived in Oberlin. Nothing was said of his activities there he didn't seem to have a pastorate but if he was in town, it seemed likely that at some point his friend Finney must have invited him to speak.
So I turned to the Internet again and searched for John Ingersoll and Oberlin. As it turns out, Google Books has helpfully indexed a volume buried in the periodicals collection of the University of Minnesota. The book consists of reprints of a semi-monthly newspaper The Oberlin Evangelist, beginning with the first issue on November 1, 1838. Google highlighted my search terms. Oberlin was highlighted on every page, but where was Ingersoll? Did I have to examine the 224 pages of fine print? No, I merely refined the search and found he was mentioned exactly once, on page 158.
Quickly checking my 1840 calendar (via an Internet application, of course), I determined that Thursday last would have been September 17. So now I had the exact date of a sermon that Ingersoll preached at Oberlin in Finneys presence as well as the text he used.
It would have been very difficult for me to unearth this nugget of history as a college undergraduate. We had no Internet access in the library in those days. We had only one computer, in a basement across the street. Now I have a home computer, and I can use it to do the research in a few minutes! I find this marvelous.
AUGUST 6, 2014 LEGISLATOR OR CAMPAIGNER
Excerpts of a blog posting yesterday from Frances McClure of Oxford, Ohio:
I agree. Excluding holidays and weekends, there are 250 days in a year, but since 1990 our Representatives have averaged only 112 days in session during the second year of their two-year terms. Theyre on vacation 55% of the time.
But lets look at it another way. Is it the goal of legislators to enact legislation, or is it to get re-elected? I suspect that its the latter. A Congressmans job is to keep his job.
Excerpts from David Bolings piece in the Washington Post a couple of months ago:
Our politicians are not on vacation. Theyve left Washington so they can devote full time to their true occupation.
AUGUST 3, 2014 WHO IS NORI?
Practitioners of every endeavor need to communicate using precise language. If the necessary terms dont exist, they have to be invented.
Terms. Terms. Elsewhere on this site you can find a chemistry spoof I wrote in high school. Complaining about contradictory terminology, I quoted an ancient Greek philosopher: As Plato said, Kynosis anopodes acthykus! Did Plato actually say that? I dont know Greek, so how could I have known the phrase?
After 50 years, I couldnt remember the source of the quote, so I Googled it. Google returned only one result my own scientific paper! So then I put the quote into a translation engine, and I discovered it was gibberish. In the manner of Sid Caesar, this high school junior produced what only seems to be Greek. So there. Now Ive set the record straight.
Suppose my map revealed we were coming up to a situation like the one below. Normally the first turn would be described as right at T onto Claibourne Road. The next would be left at sideroad onto Snyder Road.
But in this case, the rallymaster has covered these two intersections with a single instruction: jog right. Thats the correct term if the right and the left are less than a tenth of a mile apart. The rallymaster wants the rallyists to ignore Snyder Roads brief detour and resume the original heading on Snyder.
(Why is there a detour at all? Back when the farms and fields were first laid out, they didnt conform to a strict grid, so the roads that were later built between the fields couldnt conform to a grid either.)
Now in the situation below, I needed to inform Terry that he would make a left followed by a right. But this isnt a jog left, because there are no other roads involved. Concord Road swerves around the big field all by itself. I invented a term for this: NORI, for No Other Roads Involved. Id tell Terry hed make a NORI left. I also would warn him that soon afterwards hed make a NORI right, lest he think he was supposed to continue straight ahead into the driveway.
And now, though no one knows what acthykus means, at least you know about NORI.
JULY 28, 2014 REVENUE ENHANCEMENT
I like to pay taxes, said Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. With them I buy civilization.
I agree. Its part of the social contract, an obligation that we owe to our fellow Americans.
Diane Lim Rogers writes, Taxes are collected for a reason: to provide vital public services such as a strong defense, homeland security, healthcare, retirement and income security, education and training, and disaster relief.
But taxes come out of our pocketbooks. Although we all benefit from government, some of us think government is the enemy. We prefer to keep our pocketbooks closed, claiming the economy will benefit if more money remains in the private sector.
A new article called Paying Our Dues argues against this selfishness.
JULY 25, 2014 SIMPLE ARITHMETIC
A local furniture store is closed today. They say they need the time to prepare for their biggest sales event of the season!
Lets consider the implications of that phrase.
For there to be a biggest event of the season, the season must include at least three such events. (If there were only two, the sale that starts tomorrow would be the bigger of the two, not the biggest. I assume this business establishment scrupulously follows the rules of grammar.)
There are four seasons in a year. In the retail world there might be a dozen, for all I know: Halloween season, Thanksgiving season, Christmas season, Presidents Day season, Valentines season, and so on. But lets say there are four.
So at a minimum, the store has 3 x 4 = 12 sales events per year, or one every month. Rarely do they retail a recliner at regular price. Im reminded of those going out of business clearance sales that last a decade.
JULY 16, 2014 SNIDELY TWITLASH
In the summer edition of Snidely Tweeting, you can discover Erics opinions about living in Oregon, silly names, being Christian without obsessing over gays or evolution, and paying freelancers. And more. Peek, if you dare!
JULY 10, 2014 THE GHOTR ARE BEING TRY
Theres a website for booking hotel rooms called Trivago. In their commercials, spokesman Tim Williams inexplicably slurs it into Sheevago. At least thats what it sounds like to me and to other online commentators. Its like Chicago with the k sound in the middle replaced by a v. Or its like Dr. Zhivago without growlingly voicing the zh.
Its the company name, Tim! That word above all others should be distinctly enunciated. Treetr!
JULY 4, 2014 INDEPENDENCE DAY
Things I learned today:
Ive more than once seen a film clip of Bob Dylan early in his career in which the interviewer asks whether we should refer to him as a folk singer or a protest singer or something else. Having no definitive answer, after a pause Dylan jokingly replies, Im just a song-and-dance man.
That makes no sense to me. Dylan doesn't dance. Then I discovered this morning that he was merely repeating a decades-old self-deprecating quote from Mr. Yankee Doodle Dandy himself, George M. Cohan.
Dillon could also have used this George M. Cohan quote: I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right. (See what I did there?)
Things I learned growing up:
Sixty years ago, Dwight Eisenhower surrendered our nations independence. The President signed a bill subordinating the United States to God.
This was during the Cold War, of course. The young evangelist Billy Graham had told the Altoona Mirror in 1949, American guns cannot stop the philosophy of communism. The only hope for America and the western world is an old-fashioned revival of religion. And many in Washington had come to agree.
Congress inserted under God into the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a violation of the First Amendment, which says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. So writes the former Human Rights Commissioner of Traverse City, Michigan, MLynn Hartwell.
JULY 2, 2014 NIGHT WATCH
Alongside the alley near my apartment, there's a little enclosure where the neighbors and I deposit our refuse. It's collected when the sanitation trucks come around before dawn on Thursday mornings. Today was a muggy Wednesday, so I waited to take out my trash after sundown.