Friday, July 27, 2018

As I Was saying...And Saying...And Saying

We know language is fluid. It is constantly expanding, even contracting. The lexicon grows to the extent that new entries to the OED are even announced. Perhaps not on the evening news, but announced just the same. The Hall of Fame adds such and such.

And nothing promotes new words and phrases more than the televised media. Talking heads.

I once read something where a talking head after being invited to offer their opinion on something was invited back to sound bite other issues. The producers liked them and asked them back. The talking head actually went to a joke writer so that they could sound profound and witty when asked to discuss something.

The scroll, chyrons and bumpers underneath their names tell of some exalted job description as "Senior Election Analyst", "Terrorist Specialist" or other jobs and titles that don't really exist. The ones I like the best when I pass the TV that's on in the other room, is when the speaker is younger than my daughters. It is amazing to me what they've been through and what they know. It's just a tad above zero. I love when they say "back in the day." But they do look good saying it.

My wife likes to listen to talking heads. They drive me crazy. I pretty much hate all of them, so thank goodness for multiple TVs in a household that has remained together for over 42 years.

It wasn't all that long ago when she told me they were "walking something back." What? The dog? No, a statement that was made, on where else, a talking head show.

"Walking back" has become the way to say, "taking that back." It is used so often these days that you wonder why something was said in the first place if it was so quickly "walked back." Nearly as good as "misspoke" which of course President Trump recently did when he discussed "would" and wouldn't after the Helsinki Summit with President Putin.

Another one, that's perhaps got whiskers on it but is still being uttered is, "having said that." Saying "having said that" announces that now, after their breathless analysis of something that if it were written down would span several lines of pint, adorned with clauses and phrases that if analyzed by diagramming the sentence would give you a picture of a sentence so cantilevered it could be a bridge.

After a breath is taken, the next part is the best. They say the opposite of what they just said, again using several lines of verbal print. It's as if someone has them by the cojones and they had to say the first part in order to stay alive. The next part is really what they want to say.

I think "transparent" is my new favorite. Everyone professes transparency, or thinks that's what we need. I take it it means the word is used to denote that there's nothing to hid. That's a big goal. Claude Rains in "The  Invisible Man" was very transparent, and only got tracked down by footprints he left in the snow. So, if you're transparent, are you not wanting to hid things, or are you wanting to hid things that no one will see? We'll see.

I do listen to talking heads. The talking heads that accompany any televised racing program. And there are daily racing programs if you tune into TVG, or lately MSG, my favorite, for racing from Saratoga for the next five weeks, then Belmont. MSG and FoxSports1 have signed a deal with NYRA to televise 100 racing dates. That's A LOT of dates.

A daily MSG broadcast right now includes commentary from 6! people: Greg Wolf, Maggie Wolfendale, Gabby Gaudey, Paul Lo Duca, Andy Serling, and either Tom Amoss or Frank Mirahmadi. Never have so many spoken so much to so few people. But I love it.

Greg Wolf is the "news anchor." Everyone else is connected to racing to some way. Paul LoDuca is a former Met and Brooklyn Dodger catcher, always introduced as such, but has ancestral ties to racing by virtue of his father taking him to the track when he lived in Brooklyn growing up. There is no better education received than that from a racetrack regular.

They are the glibbest people you could ever met. The Daily Racing Form is their teleprompter. Anyone who knows anything about racing can spew out a breathless analysis of a horse's chances in the next race. They go over the whole field in so many ways, naming everyone, that you really have to know what you're listening to to figure out who they like.

The phrase "having said that" must have been first uttered by a horse player. No one worth their $2 ticket will ever tell you the straight poop. They will hedge, hum and haw and circle back so much that you might as well not have asked them anything. They never talk about Russia, Stormy Daniels, Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, tapes, tariffs, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., President Putin, Donald Trump, Melania's clothes, immigration, or babies (other than horses). I love them all.

Reboot is another great word. Its meaning is to give something another try. A sequel, or take an old idea and rework it for contemporary audiences. It is usually uttered when the discussion is entertainment, movies, TV shows, recordings. But you can hear it on the more "serious" segments of MSNBC, CNN and FoxNews, GMA, and the Today Show when they want to tell you that something is being given another try.

Perhaps the best buzz word at the moment is "narrative." We are told that such and such is the "narrative" unfolding. Their "narrative" is not very compelling. "They need another "narrative."

The use  of "narrative" cannot escape parody, from the best of those you do parody, the cartoonists. The following was recently published in the WSJ as part of their 'Pepper and Salt' feature, now always found on the editorial page.

"Look, the product is okay; what it lacks is a compelling narrative."

"Narrative" of course is story. Story is too short, and doesn't have enough gravitas as "narrative." If you are old enough and hold onto memories of absolutely trivial things like I do, then you might remember the TV commercials "back in the day" for JGE, Jamaica, Gas and Electric.

These were the best. Jerry Rosenberg would tell the audience to come on down, "show us your union card at da door and you're in," in store for the best discounts on major appliances. Jerry, who had the bearing of a Brooklyn born cab driver and the patois of a punch drunk fighter, built quite a business with his 30 second pitches.

It didn't take long for there to be A LOT of JGE stores, dealing in all kinds of merchandise, usually shoddy, that was being offered at low prices. He was the Crazy Eddie of anything that wasn't audio equipment. JGE came and went fairly quickly, shut down by an avalanche of consumer complaints.

One thing you could count on, the commercials all ended the same way. Just like Jerry Carroll's ending fro "Crazy Eddie," "his prices are insaaaaaaaaane!" Jerry Rosenberg, (he eventually opened a short-lived disco) in a hard hat and T-shirt that rode up and showed his belly button when he raised his hands heavenward, JGE's commercials always ended with Jerry answering the question from the chorus, about what's real..."That's the story, Jerry?"..."thaaaat's the story."

Can you imagine if he said "narrative?"

No comments:

Post a Comment