Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Modern Things. Bah!

I recently watched this video.

It's fine, right? No problem. It does the job it's supposed to do, which is keep a baby's attention and teach them some signs. For me personally, though, after about as many seconds as I am years old, I started trying to figure out whether the sound of the waves synced up with the actual waves because it doesn't seem like that pristine audio could possibly have been recorded on a windy beach. The rigid, repetitive, perfect sameness of the whole thing started driving me nuts. See what I mean?

Now I'm no audio engineer, but I am pretty sure she's lip syncing. She's doing it really well, which made me think there was probably a click track playing over speakers with the vocal when they shot the video at the beach. So what a baby is actually watching is a person lip syncing to a click track, probably some keyboards, and the vocal, all pre-recorded. An impossible illusion.

Later on, in post-production, my guess is they took out the sounds of everything except the vocal. Then they added in some quiet background waves. Well, fine, we just want the best end product, right? Just using modern tools. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Except that everything new is like this now. Everything is this digitally enhanced illusion of perfection. Long before this particular video was even over, I started thinking what it would look like if it had been taped for Sesame Street in 1974.

Susan's hair would be blowing around, her pitch would be wavering. She might crack up a little bit. You would hear the actual waves as they broke. She would be singing loud to be heard over the wind and those waves. It would be a real, one-of-a-kind, human performance. Factors beyond the control of the producers would have an impact on the final product. Watching her, you would think it was something you could do yourself. You would be right.

But back to 2013 (sigh). Every professional piece of video and audio that young people watch and hear now has this layer of digital illusion built in. They grow up in an acid bath of impossible, inhuman, auto-tuned perfection. And anything that hasn't been perfected by auto-tune is ridiculed. You're Star Wars Kid. You're William Hung. Ha Ha!

I wonder what cumulative impact this has on younger, more impressionable people than myself. Might they think, "Oh, I could never sing like that."? Because if they did think that, they would be right. But what if they stop trying?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Major League Baseball Puts A Gun In Its Own Mouth And Pulls The Trigger

So every year for the past eleven years I've gone with some of my friends on a baseball road trip. We've gone to Kansas City (7 times), Milwaukee (2 times), Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis (1 each). (Yes, some years there were two, Mathlete!) When the Twins' schedule was announced several months ago, I was excited to see where we would go this year.

We ain't goin' nowhere. There are zero three-game weekend serieses with the Twins on the road against those nearby teams. Because Houston was moved to the American League, putting 15 teams in each league, interleague play has to happen every day that all 30 teams play. The schedule this year sucks rocks. But don't take my word for it, listen to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

The Twins finish May with two games in Milwaukee, followed by two against the Brewers at home. Gardenhire was disappointed that the teams won't play three in each park like they used to.

"It's the first time, for me, that we have Milwaukee for two and we go there for two," he said. "We always played three and three. It's a big deal for our fans to go to Milwaukee, and for their fans to come here. It's a two-and-two during the week. That's always a big deal. Tons of Twins fans go to Milwaukee and pack that place, and just the same way when they come and pack our place.

"I thought that's what it was all about. The natural rival used to be the Brewers. That was always a pretty cool series, three over there and three at our place. Now it's two and two in the middle of the week. A lot of people will have to take off work."

Or just not go at all. For the first time since 2001. Stupid. Stupid baseball. Stupid Bud Selig. (Smart Ron Gardenhire.) The inevitable accumulation of wives, children, mortgages, and real jobs couldn't kill our enthusiasm and our determination to make this annual road trip. But now it's just - poof! - not even an option. You did it to yourself, baseball. Did you want me to stop attending your games? Does anybody really give a shit what league the hopeless Houston Astros are in? Thanks for the memories and change it the fuck back for next year. See you then.