Long Live the King

There’s much to admire about Larry King, not the least of which is his longevity—he began broadcasting his show via Pony Express during the Buchanan administration. There’s also the fact that he has achieved so much despite his strong resemblance to a large, partially shaved rodent. He’s also to be commended for his ability to shift rapidly between subjects (almost as quickly as he shifts between wives), both in his TV show (“Tonight, I’ll be talking about radical Islam with author and former member of the Dutch Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I’ll then be cooking a delicious and healthful egg-white omelet with funnyman Carrot Top”) and in his late, lamented column for USA Today (“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Nothing beats a nice, cold glass of pineapple juice... Went to see Legs Diamond on Broadway, accompanied by former Match Game host Gene Rayburn: Man, Peter Allen looks great in a tux!”). And so, Larry, I dedicate this wide-ranging column to you.

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Everybody knows that a good surround system can almost rescue the most hopeless of cinematic offerings. (Please don’t mistake this as an endorsement of screenings of Rob Schneider’s The Animal or, say, Speed Racer—it can’t work miracles.) But how many people use their surround systems to breathe life into their music collection? According to my own poll of the subject, I’m the only one in America who does. (Admittedly, my sample size was small—about a dozen friends and coworkers, as well as one very confused hardware-store clerk. In response to my question, he said, “I’ll check,” and walked away in the direction of plumbing. I put him down as a “no.”) I can’t say how it works with pop, but with naturally recorded classical music, it widens and quite dramatically deepens the soundstage. The instruments lay out in front of you so that you can almost look into the orchestra. Switch it off, and the whole thing collapses to the front. It still sounds good, but I can’t imagine going back to straight two-channel listening.

You can make your own furniture polish with a mixture of olive oil and apple cider vinegar (a tip I learned from former Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson producer Fred De Cordova).

Purists like to say (and by purists I mean guys who post frequentlyon Internet forums) that two-channel stereo is the Only True Way to Listen to Music. I would ask them, “Why two channels? If fewer is better, wouldn’t one speaker be the superior choice? If surround music adds something artificial, then so does stereo. There’s not actually any sound between the speakers, so the illusion that stereo creates is artificial and therefore wicked, yes?” (Purists feel strongly that surround sound for music is the work of a particularly wicked demon.)

Suzanne Somers—what a dish, huh?!—once owned a cat that looked a lot like British character actor Charles Laughton.

I love my plasma HDTV, but it buzzes like the last few minutes of The Wicker Man. (I’m guessing that fewer than 12 people have actually seen The Wicker Man, so I’ll cut to the chase and tell you outright that it involves a lot of bees. Bees and Nicolas Cage. Specifically, many hundreds of bees are poured into a mask worn by Nicolas Cage. Yes, I know, it sounds great, but is it enough of a payoff that you should endure the rest of what is one of the most idiotic movies ever made? No. No it is not. But almost. Almost.) I’m told the buzzing is due to the high voltages necessary to charge the gases in the cells, yet this brings me strangely little comfort and does nothing to minimize the buzz. The sound grows louder with high-contrast images and is very directional, to the point that moving your head 3 inches to the right will cause the sound to drop off quite a bit. Call me fussy, but I don’t like having to make minute adjustments to my head position while I watch a movie. So I found a solution: I mounted the TV slightly above head level, and I can’t hear the buzzing anymore.

The Goonies was a good movie. Why don’t you see the guy who played Chunk in motion pictures anymore?

When you put a Blu-ray Disc into your player, is it asking too much to be watching the movie within the next, oh, say, half hour or so? Because some studios make it very hard to get to the feature presentation. In order to do so, you have to hack your way through a thicket of ads, public service announcements, title slates for the studio, production company, the Blu-ray Disc authors, and the guy who provided the cold cuts for the set, then a baker’s dozen or so of movie trailers, then finally the BD-Live information takes over for a solid ten minutes, downloading extras you’re never going to watch. It’s like going into a restaurant where they make you wash dishes before you can get your meal.

I think there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to juggling-bear acts. They seem to be stuck in a rut. So, bears, hear me now: Add some singing, maybe a little dancing, and you’ll win me back.

I’m a baseball fan without cable, so the arrival of MLB.TV on the PS3 platform was like a gift from heaven. Every regular-season game is available both live and archived. Now that I’ve lived with it for a while, I’m ready to offer my review, which is... meh. Despite my robust highspeed Internet connection, the games freeze constantly and sometimes lock up my entire system. The gulf between expectation and reality is almost as sizable as it was with KFC’s bunless Double Down sandwich. I will never trust anyone again, ever.

So to sum up, pirates are all the rage again, but to be frank, their new costumes just don’t have as much panache as they used to.

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