Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Its Not Looking Good...

I'm not one that bangs on about Global Warming normally. Many is the time that I would disagree with those that hijack the media and tell us all of the dire consequences of the Earth heating up by a few degrees.

My own take is that the Human race has done plenty of damage is a relatively short space of time in the time-line that life has existed on this planet. The elements that came together to create the correct combinations that resulted in the diversity of life and gave us what is required to survive probably was being exploited from day one by any animal one the Earth, only because we supposedly have a brain and are more intelligent than other species(you may disagree on that point ;-) we have managed to do most harm and quickly.

Its not an exact science coming up with a model of how we believe the future of the planet will be. Nature will always toss a curved ball once in a while just to fox or catch you out. It was only a few years ago we were promised that we were heading for another ice age of some kind.
I'm not saying that we should not try and improve matters and save what we can of the Earth but what we do in one area seems to affect somewhere else and that could be for the good or bad of the planet.

The Human race may think it has a right to be here but just as we live on borrowed time individually who said that the Human Race and probably other species will remain here for good? The Earth had many millions of years to get to the point where it could sustain life or we could adapt to live in various locations.

Also, even without the burning of natural substances, seriously all the elements that made coal, oil or whatever took millions of years to build up and become what they did. You take anything out of the ground when it runs out, you find something else that is usable for some purpose but what do you replace it with?

It could be destabilising the world and helping to cause natural disasters, as certain areas in the mantle of the Earth may be weaker than they might've been or put under greater stress.

We all know that our part of the Universe will implode at some point(I'd like to see us attempt to stop that)That the Sun will eventually burn out or blow up or whatever. That a meteorite or Asteroid will probably smash into the Earth causing a catastrophic chain of events. Or perhaps a really big explosion from the centre of the Earth. Yellowstone Park USA is often given as a likely example but there are Earthquakes, Tidal Waves, Hurricanes. All we are able to do is attempt to pick ourselves up and try and start all over again.

And there's some other points that have crossed my mind...

The Earth is not straight on its axis,(Perhaps if it had been one of the poles would've melted even quicker than it has already)withe Sun beating down constantly. The Earth is slowing down, perhaps one day it will no longer spin and will stop altogether.

Its a fair bet that this will also mean that one side of the Earth will be in the constant Sunlight, whilst the other side will be permanently in shade and frozen colder than anyone could imagine. What will survive these extremes of hot and cold? All the stuff sloshing around in the centre of the Earth is cooling down or getting less as it sprouts up the surface.

What effect will that have? Why has the centre of the Earth not managed to burn to the surface or what surrounds it so the Earth collapses? I have heard scientists at a loss to explain what's happening in the centre of the Earth without looking out there in the Universe.

All we can do is live the life we have and try and make our time here as long as possible but the Earth was here long before we were, it was going through its phases and it probably will in the future with or without us.

We may've added to the problem and speeded things up but I suspect this would have happened anyhow. It will heat up and cool down until its very end.

All I can say is try and enjoy your time whilst you are here.

And on that happy note I'll close my blog for this entry ;-)


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Apologies for a lack of blogs...

How on earth does anyone manage to write as much as some do. Many are so entertaining and thought provoking. Adding images and captions and so much more. Oh, if only I could learn all that!

One day who knows...

I have already been beaten today by having a hard drive fail(and some thoughts stored there are lost)the subject this time was about our attitude to age. Another I will cover soon takes in global warming(well, I had to tackle that one)Do I believe it exists, can we do something about it?

I'm not sure that I have an answer but I do hope my thoughts are interesting, even if we disagree.

Its come my attention that again some of my regular readers who may like to leave a comment are having trouble doing so even though they are able to leave comments on blogs belonging to my fellow bloggers and I admit to being baffled as to why its a problem here as the settings look the same.

But I say hello to anyone who has spent time reading my ramblings and thank you. To those that I do know that have visited Hi to Raisins, Curmy, Rupe, Mango, Span, Gavin, Augustus, I do hope that I have not missed anyone...Some have yet to let me know that they are reading my musings

Take Care

Gildy xx

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Censoring of older material in a modern age...

A subject that I may very well return to.

At the end of what I say I'm not sure that I'll be able to offer a solution.

Some of my fellow bloggers/messageboarders that access UK broadcasting may be familar with the following story. I state the facts as I believe them to be and am ready to ammend or remove my post.

It came to my attention that two editions of a radio comedy series classed by many as a classic and being rebroadcast had been pulled. We're talking of a series that is around 38 years old. Various pieces of information put into the public domain suggest that they were dropped because in the present time certain words/terms used may be upsetting/unacceptable. Well, in this case it was because the programmes were deemed racist.

Many listening to the station want to hear the programmes as they were and are of the opinion that they are a social document of the time and perhaps to please those who are politically correct maybe an announcement at the start or end of the show could say that these programmes were broadcast when certain views were different/acceptable.

Its been done on other programmes.

Its a slippery slope to go down, but some parts could be edited to make them acceptable.

Did you know that a couple of words have been snipped out of or substituted already in Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers?

A listener decided to ask what the BBC's policy is regarding the rebroadcasting of archive material. Resulting in a feature appearing on Feedback where the public can quiz those who make and broadcast programmes.

I'm not sure that an adequate answer was given but the outcome was that one of the dropped episodes is to be re-instated at a later date(and the reason given for it being pulled)is now something on the lines that it originally would've aired at the time of the natural disaster in New Orleans where Hurricaine Katrina hit and part of the programme was set in that location and they were all talking with a Southern US accent. If anything it was a parody of the kind of films we've all seen about that area and the jazz music associated with that state.

OK...if it now gets replayed at a later date avoiding distress associated with that event(if that was the reason)but would it have aired again, had that listener not managed to get a response from the broadcaster.

The second has a couple of minor jokes that to call them racist actually makes them worse than they really are and compared to alot of material going out today are nothing at all. However, as its also been admitted that some material is edited I sat down with an original copy of the offending programme and with some editing I reckon all that would be lost would be 30 seconds at the most. One joke lasted around 6 seconds. Yet the whole show is now banned. The edits do if made do not affect the story.

The background of this particular programme is that its a parody of those British books/films of years ago where the British explorer/adventurer goes into the Jungle or some such location looking for some long lost treasure and usually ends up in battle with the natives. But as written the British being portrayed actually come out of it looking pretty stupid.

Is this ban because of the reaction that they think they'll get from some pressure group/listener/regulatory body resulting in a severe ticking off or a fine? Or because they do not wish to offend a certain section of society now part of the fabric of UK life? Is it because all stations can now be heard across the world and not just in the country of origin. I know years ago BBC programmes were edited so references to incidents that only a domestic audience would understand so when sold to another broadcaster in say Australia they'd not be puzzled because something did not make sense.

There have always been rules to follow when broadcasting, even in the BBC's earliest days there was a list of what was not allowed to be said on radio and producers/performers had to abide by them or find themselves usually suspended. Again, was that list BBC orientated or forced upon them by the Government at the time(maybe someone out there knows the answer to that)
During the 60's and 70's I think the broadcasters were allowed more freedom but we seem to be returning to a less open policy and yet as far as television goes when you see something such as Little Britain/Big Brother you could question whether anything goes!

But here's another anomoly...this decision was made by the management of that particular radio outlet and not necessarily within the guidelines across the whole organisation.

And radio guidelines on acceptablity seem to be different to those regarding television. And you can get away with more on television than radio. I understand that whereas television still has a kind of watershed where adult material is more likely to air, radio has never as such had regulation.

Perhaps radio has the raw deal because its speech that can offend and on radio be it song lyrics/speech its all language. What's also interesting is that the station playing the older material is the most popular of all the new digital stations and usually keeps or increases its listeners.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The World Of Celebrity

My Blog does seem to concern itself with media matters for now, I have no doubt that it will branch out but today I am concentrating on the world of celebrity.

What is a celebrity? Many things to different people. Should the term just mean someone associated with showbiz such as an actor, a comedian, a singer or take in perhaps someone that is featured in some major news story such as a politician or someone such as a Song Writer, Author, Record Producer etc...

Are the so called celebs we have these days more or less important than those we see, hear or read from years gone by perhaps from a time before we were here? Who makes the decision for us? Is it due to the enormous amount of publicity that exists these days fuelled by all the magazines, gossip featured on television and radio programmes, the constant rounds celebs do by appearing on as many media outlets as possible or in as many newspapers and magazines...promoting their latest offering? The Agent, the large media companies that exist and often have a finger in every pie rather than a certain area of the business. The PR machine that arranges everything.

But hold on, once Hollywood started churning out its movies from Charlie Chaplin's time, stories were being placed and the public demanded to read about their favourite stars and were whipped up into a frenzy. Idolisation of some public figures was great and the reaction probably fuelled by the publicity these stars were given at the time, look what happened when Rudolph Valentino passed away. Or for scandal mongers who can forget how the incident involving Fatty Arbuckle which destroyed his career even though in hindsight the accuracy has been questioned.

Then of course we had the gossip columnists that had great power such as Hedda Hopper. How many stories were orchestrated? How many stories that could've destroyed celebs of the day were covered up?

So is it really any worse these days? Has it always gone on? Or because of the immediacy of media these days and many things being instant and so many outlets being available has this actually made things worse that most of the time any programme unless its an actual concert, film or play is one long advertisement?

Or that any story is one long promotion?

What is a celebrity these days? I can only speak about the UK media but more and more people who once would've just been a person introducing or presenting a programme capable of reading auto cue or being able to keep talking are no treated as "Stars" an example would be our breakfast television presenters often being brought onto a chat show or a variety type show where they will be interviewed. As I write this a female who presents "Pop Idol" is being interviewed and from what I can see its just an excuse to mention another programme that will be on the same channel in a few days time.

Usually, its an excuse for the television channel by bringing them on to cross advertise another programme on the same channel but the person is introduced and brought on as though they are a major star with the audience in the studio whooping and hollering as though they are seeing someone such as Lauren Bacall in the studio and often as the audience is not shown you do not know if the audience reaction is genuine or been technically enhanced.

Many of those who get celeb status these days I find myself asking but what are they famous for. They turn up at various functions and get seen on camera but what do they do? They often do not have any television programme or appear in a film, have a record out and yet become "Famous" At least many of those from the past did seem to have longevity and a reasonably large body of work but as fame today is so fleeting this is how its going to be.

Or am I just getting old? ;-)


Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Much as I try to cut back on how much electric I use, I seem to use more each year. On the other hand I am happy to recycle as much as I can and in reality I buy very little that is over packaged and very rarely is my wheelie bin full or overflowing. Most of the electrical goods I own are used until they are no longer any use and I suspect(sadly)anything new that I may buy in coming months will probably last longer than me.

For a variety of reasons I am unable to get to sites where you can take your recyclable rubbish so when the local authority/council as many across the UK started getting into kerbside collecting of recyclable items I was quite happy to do my part. Its proved successful by all accounts for my location and yet If i take my own street, I can see approx 20 houses(including my own)and yet on average I see only 4 crates put out regularly.

The other problem is that after at least two or three years of the collection being organised whereas other towns and cities seem to take quite a selection of goods to re-use...our collection even though its a large Authority and in the heart of one of the main Members Of Parliament's constituencies...they collect very little.

I can recycle glass, paper and metal such as fizzy drink cans/food cans. However, I cannot put cereal boxes, cardboard or plastic(such as milk bottles)in the crate. If I could add them the main wheelie bin would have very little if anything in it. And this extra amount is not much more.
I do not have a compost heap but practically all the food that I buy is eaten but virtually any waste is eaten by the garden birds that visit so nature is benefiting. I say that its waste but it could be fruit, meat, bread, potatoes, just about anything.

Even a country such as America that gets criticised for being so wasteful there are pockets of people all over the country that do all they can to recycle. I have a friend who every week has 4 or 5 crates or bins which are specifically for certain products. Thanks to the media and the way statistics can be skewed often a whole population can be seen in a negative light and stereotyped. And like me she does all she can for the local wildlife that visits her garden.

I do wonder when some of my neighbours will be chased after for not putting out their crates as I cannot believe neighbours have not got some newspapers, wine bottles or cans to put out. And I understood that if the UK does not reach a certain target which Europe has agreed the Government or local councils will find themselves in effect being penalised/fined and that means in turn further money will be taken from us by a rise in some kind of tax.

Canned Laughter

It can be forgotten that blogs are read or have contributions from across the world so some subjects are specific to where the Blogger is posting from and I guess some sensitivity should be included if its decided that to talk of something controversial in the news.

So I am talking about...

Canned Laughter and the doctoring of an audience's response on live or recorded television/radio programmes. I think this is something that probably plays a part in practically any country that has a big media business.

Comedy or variety radio programmes were recorded or performed live in front of an audience especially in America during its golden years where it offered more than just phone-ins or dj's spinning records. Comedians of the day such as Fred Allen, Jack Benny or Milton Berle interplayed with their audience. It gave the performer something to bounce their performance off and probably added to to the effect and enjoyment at home so in that instance probably enhanced the experience.

As television was more complicated to produce and often meant halting the production, lots of retakes I guess it could mean that the audience present might get bored and/or not laugh at something they've seen a number of times.

Charles Douglas who was born in Mexico in 1910 and grew up in Nevada USA. He had a degree in Electrical Engineering and managed to get work with CBS Radio in Los Angeles but eventually moving into television having worked on live radio shows with Bob Hope, Jack Benny etc...
Charlie realised that audiences having watched rehearsals would not laugh as much at the same joke when it came around again as in the live transmission or recorded programme. So in the later years of radio the idea of playing in laughter from disc's but to do it with television was harder.

Somehow, Charles managed to invent a gadget that could add laughter at the press of a button. From what I understand there were a series of platters contained in a box with various sounds on them but they would rotate a certain amount of time and return to their original position until required again. He started getting called in by the Producer of programmes who would supply him with a script and feed the sound from the box into the mixing desk and it was very much Charlie's judgement where and what sounds would be added to the soundtrack whether laughter, cheers or applause.

Eventually, he started his own business and added more staff capable of using the machines and therefore more shows could make use of the "Laugh Box" the mystery of what was in the box and how it worked remained a secret for many years and any such box was padlocked and guarded from the gaze of eyes.

A backlash against what was seen as something false that might influence people at home did happen, even in America where it was invented. But it survived and was used on many of what you probably remember as favourites programmes of your youth such as The Munsters, Mr Ed, The Addams Family, Bewitched, I Love Lucy etc...

Where it gets a little uncomfortable is the fact that if you have a keen ear you probably are listening to laughs on say I Love Lucy and maybe hear the same ones on Mork & Mindy for example. They never changed and chances are those laughing have been dead for a number of years.

Then we have the problem what do you do with a series such as M*A*S*H* that has dark humour and a conscience and deals with a difficult subject. When I watched it originally as shown in the UK on the BBC being young I never suddenly thought "Where's the laughter of the audience?" it had no laughter track but in the 90's it showed up on satellite tv over here and suddenly I was aware that the laughter track was back and it did seem strange to have it included. Perhaps inappropriate.

To some extent American television is going back to using a live audience and generally the UK has tended to avoid using prerecorded laughter. So when it says "Recorded In Front Of Live Audience" it probably has still been tampered with. Though live, it is being combined or having parts of the sound sweetened by adding laughs from a machine.

Even some live events are tweaked here and there.

So that's the background...therefore in recent years and I think that it happens more in commercial television in the UK than the BBC or perhaps will happen more on BBC shows that are independently produced for them by other companies.

One that sticks out like a sore thumb has to be "Just For Laughs" I'll stand corrected and apologise if that can be proven to be a genuine audience. I'm not sure that with or without "Canned Laughter" anyone could say it is laugh out funny. The same these days with "You've Been Framed" and especially as it now is produced with just a voice over, its a fair bet its produced in some production suite. Another has to be the one ITV show with the Animal clips.

Most worrying are shows such as "Ant and Dec's Takeaway" where they give a shot of the audience and you can hear the audience cheering wildly amongst the sound of applause but none of the audience shown has their mouths open and are usually just smiling or they take a shot of the audience and though there is laughter to be heard it appears no one is actually laughing. So its a fair bet live sound is being enhanced in some way. Another practise that has been talked of and causes heated debate is that of turning up the reaction of an audience therefore its not strictly recorded laughter but nor is is it strictly how the audience reacted.

Then we have Stars In Their Eyes, the same problem. At the same point in every performers song, the applause comes in and finishes and sounds exactly the same. I can guess every time when it will start and end. I am sure that you can think of some shows yourself.

Once many performers and comedy/variety programmes were genuinely funny and had people who had learned their craft and the adding of laughter did no real harm but today the fact that it is needed so much begs me to ask how many of today's shows and performers are genuinely funny? And how much of what we see is fixed?

At least in the early days of Canned Laughter we knew that's what it was and therefore it was actually more truthful.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Is It Live?

A favourite gripe of mine is that often I do not care that a guest who is being interviewed is live in the studio on a magazine show or a news programme whether on radio or television.

My local commercial television on its news programme often insists on introducing a guest and after the interview the camera shows the presenters looking in the direction of the guest and they turn back to face the camera and you can tell that the guest is not there and probably did the interview hours ago. Another clue being that they do not give a shot with all of them in view. As most of these interviews are perhaps someone promoting something or not an urgent story does it matter whether we think its actually happening at that minute?

And now on the National BBC radio station Radio 5 the presenter has introduced a guest on the phone and made it sound as though it was a live interview but as a technical fault happened they had to come out of the interview, admit it was recorded earlier and start again. Its not the first time that I have sussed out things are a mixture of live/recorded. There is this thing now that we have to make the viewer and listener think it is happening now, this minute.

I have seen two tv shows going out as live with the same guest so one has to be recorded. A dj was guesting on an afternoon tv show as "Live" but switched the radio on and his programme was going out as though it was live. It can be both annoying and/or funny the way they try to fool the public. I wonder if they really manage to do so.