Tuesday, January 18

Olio: Vowel Sounds Are The Horrible Mutated Amphibian Epidemic Of Our Mental Ecosystem Edition

• "This is the first we've heard of it."

--Mike "Choirboy" Pence, yesterday, responding to the question of a reporter who accompanied the cameraman who'd been taping him on the dais at some sort of Dr. King Was Actually A Conservative Day function or other. Pence was responding to a question about yesterday's announcement of a national Pence for President Petition Drive. We were reminded of nothing so much as the surprise Courtney Cox displayed when she was spontaneously selected to dance with Bruce Springsteen.

(He's going to consider it, humbly. Just in case you'd started holding your breath already.)

• Indianapolis Star*: Lugar votes party line less often these days.

Yeah, he's down from 91, as a freshman, to 84; at this rate he'll be an actual moderate in 2096.

If you'd like to know what's changed in the years since he was Nixon's Favorite Mayor, let's let one of the local Teabaggers whose impotent challenge Lugar might face in 2012's primaries give you the scoop:

Hoosier Patriots co-founder Greg Fettig, who is among those working to mount a primary challenge to Lugar in 2012, said it's specific votes Lugar has taken that concern him, not how often Lugar has voted with the party overall. Fettig, whose group is aligned with the tea party movement, cited Lugar's votes to ratify a nuclear weapons treaty, to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and to help some illegal immigrants who came here as children obtain a path to citizenship.

"I think he's been in Washington, D.C., too long," Fettig said. "When you've been inside the Beltway all those years, you get infected by the liberalism that's prevalent in Washington."
• I walked through the room where my Poor Wife had local teevee news playing four times this AM, and three times (story, twice, teaser once) heard the remote reporter tell me a victim was shot in the had.

Is this the same everywhere, now? Where does it even come from? It's not a regional accent. As far as I can tell it's nothing but a second-generation Clueless impression. It's like turning on your teevee and finding that everyone born between 1972 and 1985 is speaking Scouse.

It's not the speech itself, of course. Although I find it about as unpleasant as an American accent can get, I can't think of any set of circumstances which would require me to listen to, let alone care, how Young Urban Careerists talk in real life. It's the fact of its professional deployment that's troubling. It's coupled--inevitably--with an assault on the pore unfortunate -ing form which, apparently at random, turns the ending to ANG or EEEN as though the speaker had been subjected to electroshock therapy designed to eliminate the dropped G and wound up with a vocal tic and the attitude of the whipped dog. God, if it only ended there! instead of hitching that to the Incontinent Mono-stress/War on Schwa business which produces sentences like:


before putting their hads down on their dasks, presumably. Except to this is added the Clueless Permanent Interrogative, so it comes out:


Which, first, I find damn near unlistenable, even if these people were imparting information I needed, which they aren't. It makes me wonder how they got through high school, let alone earning a major in Personality at some four-year college. When the Republican party stops hating teachers long enough to use this, and reality teevee, as evidence that public education is a dismal failure this blog will lurch rightward so fast you and your chaise lounge will be in the drink before you know what hit ya.

But there's more, for me, and maybe worse: name a profession that's more image conscious. I'm guessing that the lowliest cub reporter on local teevee is given his or her own image consultant at signing. I doubt there's a tie, or a hat, seen on-air that hasn't been vetted; I'd bet that 90% read at least one self-help book per month (and that 50% of those read nothing else). But the speech pattern isn't just wrong, or ersatz, it's mealy and benighted. It takes sides in the Great Anti-Intellectualism Debate in this country (assuming we're still having one, and it's not just a few of us yelling at the now-ex-girlfriend as she drives off for good) without admitting it does so. People who are paid to read English are no longer required to make a reasonable attempt to do so properly. How much less of an effort do they make to understand the shit they try to sound out? Who's going to say an administration should be honest, a legislature accurate, or a general forthright when he makes a tidy living for having substituted hair care for comprehension?

• At some point over the weekend I caught the locals teasing their upcoming two-minutes-per-hour national and international news coverage:

"Coming up at Six, the Republican leadership is finding it difficult to deal with the enormous Federal deficit."

Which I guess is intended to convey "It's not as easy as they said it was," but which, in fact, conveys Just How Little You Fucks Pay Attention, and How Easy It Is For Right-wing Talking Points To Dominate Your Coverage.

Did we do some sort of Dallas shower scene and erase all memories of the Bush administration earlier this season?

• I spent a couple hours yesterday moving A/V equipment around, and when I turned the system on to see if everything was connected right, Rachel Ray was on the box. She was telling her audience of unfettered manics what she was going to make For the Holiday, which I took to be Dr. King Day, as rerunning last year's Valentines Day program would have been a bit slovenly. And she's going from 0-60 in about 2.8 seconds on this, except it's teevee, and it's Rachel Ray, so she's going from 90-9000.

I was operating a different remote at the time; I couldn't just shut her off. And she screams something like "I going to do…MY Famous…MEXICAN MEATLOAF!!! or something, and the crowd goes nuts. Again, assuming that's possible.

I'm not sure what the "dish" was, exactly, but "Mexican" was definitely appended to it. This is not actually my point; I suppose someone at the production meeting had enough sense to 86 the Soul Food idea. Or maybe Jennifer Hudson cancelled. It wasn't the weird juxtaposition, it was the lunatic fucking screaming that got me. Honestly, if we'd been at Thanksgiving dinner at my inlaws', and I'd heard someone yell, "I'm making…MY Famous…CAJUN CASSEROLE!" I'd have turned to my Poor Wife and said, "Just think; six years ago doctors said Austin would never achieve articulate speech!"


* In recognition that the Star has made an actual attempt to clean up its comments section, we're going to quit calling it the Racist Beacon. It's still a poorly-written, evidently unedited right-wing screedfest and panting Republican demirep suitable for lining birdcages, but then, we don't expect miracles.


mds said...

"We were reminded of nothing so much as the surprise Courtney Cox displayed when she was spontaneously selected to dance with Bruce Springsteen."

Wait a minute ... what are you implying? Dude, spoilers.

And are we rooting for Pence to become a Presidential contender, or not? On the one hand, he's the stupid theocratic empenised version of Sarah Palin. On the other hand, that's probably not a sufficient impediment. And on the gripping hand, President Pence would manage to get this country the rest of the way down the crapper that much faster, which sounds more and more like a relief.

RobertB said...

Yes, the Clueless Permanent Interrogative could go away? And I'd not miss it?

M. Krebs said...

"It's like turning on your teevee and finding that everyone born between 1972 and 1985 is speaking Scouse."

If only.

timb said...

mds, i'm rooting for him. The entertainment for me will be immense, and he COULD win a governor's race in this benighted place.

Li'l Innocent said...

I was born in Minneapolis kinda halfway thru WW2 of originally NDakota farming/small business-owning folk of Canadian Scots/NewEngland English on one side, and recently-immigrated Minnesota Swedes on the other. So my Midwestern cred is in the ballpark with Mr. Riley's, or was once, anyway. I've lived as a linguistic semi-auslander among NY Metro people since I was 8.

I started noticing the linguistic change in the early-mid 80s. (What! Reagan again?) First sharp indicator thereof to swim across my ageing ken was the nationwide upsurge of first ValleyGirl patterns and then of the male equivalent, sometimes known, I understand, as "Dude". The Permanent Interrogative was closely meshed therein. I knew we were undergoing some kind of big shift when my younger brother, a responsible adult who at that time traveled in his work quite a bit, started talking a lot faster than he used to, and curving his phrases up at the end. Started doing it suddenly too - like at the beginning of some 4 or 5 month period around 1986 or so he wasn't doing it, and at the end of it he was.

Rapidity of speech is part of it too. I wonder if the increasing presence of Spanish has something to do with that, as in: Spanish>Southern Cal>teevee&movies>rest of the world. Because it is international.

I heard some 30s-ish Girl on the Street, opining about "Fargo": "I can't believe anybody talks that slow!"

bob_is_boring said...

"Clueless Permanent Interrogative"

Yikes and amen.

I attribute the shocking lack of communication - partially - to moving from Boston to Texas.

"Y'all got a pee-yun?"

"A what? Like a bobby pin?"

"No - a writin' pee-yun. You know - a ink pee-yun?"


Uncle Omar said...

Scouse? That would be an improvement over Geordie or Glaswegian. For years I have hoped that ESPN--The Worldwide Leader in Sports--would corral the North American rights to the Braclay's Premier League and hire Sir Alex Ferguson, Big Sam Allardyce, and 'Arry Redknapp to do the in-studio half-time commentary, with Tommy Smyth as the moderator. We would need sub-titles for that, just as most of us melanin-deprived folks needed sub-titles for "The Harder They Come" starring Jimmy Cliff.

heydave said...

So many.
First, glad to hear I'm not the only cranky bastard who can't stand spoiled speech from news casters. No w please tell me you shout at the teevee too.

Second, Did we do some sort of Dallas shower scene and erase all memories of the Bush administration earlier this season? Yes, yes we did. Duh.

Third, further glad to hear that Rachel's shouting brings out annoyance in you too! I have a friend who so painfully obviously must be thinking with the wrong head to tolerate that girl.

Bonus: word verification is "tersh" which may be a perfectly useful word for news caster types.

cleter said...

That "King would be a Republican" thing just drives me crazy. I think I'm going to start saying, to any right-wing nutballs that I encounter, that if Reagan was alive today, he'd be a Democrat, because the GOP has gone completely crazy. It's not true--I think he'd probably double-down on the crazy--but I'd like to see the spluttering.

Kathy said...

Ms. Maddow speaks as if she's still on Radio, and suspects her signal is weak.

D. Sidhe said...

Yeah, but she's cute enough that I turn the volume down and let her get away with it. Which has the advantage of making Chris Matthews' commercials quiet enough to be bearable.

Unknown said...

Funny you should mention the Star. It was actually the answer to a Jeopardy question (yeah, I know, but it's the only intellectual exercise I get these days) a couple of weeks ago.

Having only "heard" it described as the Racist Star, I had no idea what the correct modifier in its name was. Come to find out, its just the Star.

Who'd a thunk?