Audio Blog – I love Branch

Audio Blog 1

The above is my first shot at an audio blog. It costs $20 to buy the upgrade in WordPress for audio files, but I put it into a Powerpoint. In other news, I plan to get better at audio blogging.



  • Anaphora will repeat an opening phrase or word;
    Anaphora will pour it into a mould (absurd)!
    Anaphora will cast each subsequent opening;
    Anaphora will last until it’s tiring.”
    (John Hollander, Rhyme’s Reason: A Guide to English Verse. Yale Univ. Press, 1989)

Groundhog Day Trailer

Lebowski – starts at 1:15 – “I don’t like…”

I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.”

  • (Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, 1940)

Carmax Commercial



Music Notes

Caption Fail, Fail? or the difference between /f/ and /th/

I’m waiting for my video to load the closed captions on YouTube. I tried to speak in the clearest, most enunciated language of which I am capable. I want caption success. That said, I’m listening to myself right now, and I sound silly and kind of insulting. Let’s say the closed captions completely reflect my intended words. What would that mean? Should I send to the original caption fail guys and say, boom! enunciation, my friends.

Here is the address:

I really did like the caption fail on Christmas carols that was in Multimodality in Motion. I wonder if it would be more difficult to do songs. I’m sure someone has tried to do a caption of Lil’ Wayne. I just looked to see if I could, and I can’t figure it out. Can people caption videos that they don’t upload? That would seem a key feature of adaptability.

UPDATE: Sunday, February 10th

Okay. My overall reaction is that this tool is overall-useful and maybe the mirth at its expense is just mirth. To be fair, I tried to do the opposite of the caption fail guys and speak slowly and clearly. And that probably isn’t realistic. Also, since Melanie told us that the software listens for the voices of middle-class white guys from the Midwest, well, there it is. I think I also have a good shot at being a national, accent-neutral weather person. The actual text is in the blog below (#1 – #3).

1) Found poetry. The mistaken words / phrases in my caption fail(?) have a cool, oblique quality to them. The grammar is not impossible, just the word combinations. For example, “in poor taste” became “indian port eight”. It sounds kind of like a rock lyric (i.e. “I thought it was in poor taste / we met at indian port eight” with some fuzzy guitars) that everyone thought meant my drug dealer’s house but was actually my mom’s street name. Now, the most obvious caption fail was the exchange of ‘deaf’ for ‘death.’ The line that stands on its own (“She is deaf”) but becomes “She is death” is so stark but it actually happens three times. The irony that captions that might be used by people who are deaf to access videos on YouTube change ‘deaf’ into ‘death’ is pretty inescapable. There is something to be said for consistency, I suppose. Of course, since I was trying pretty hard for a faithful rendering of what I said out loud and my original purpose was to be clear, the caption fail didn’t follow that. I got the feeling that the guys we watched in class were speaking quickly / in an affected way in order to find some fun / poetry. In this case, at least, I was trying to be a party pooper — at which I largely succeeded.

2) Stir-fry text? I’m going to stay with similarities of caption fail and stir-fry. Andrews suggests that stir-frys allow you to make your own text with “spastic interactivity.” He means that, once he designs it, readers make their own. With caption fail, it’s like I make the original and YouTube makes its own with that interactivity. I would imagine that if I read the same passage more quickly or with an affected accent, I might get more words. In other words, I might get ideas for a new stir-fry if I did a whole bunch of caption fails. One other comment. YouTube capital-F Fails at names. Try to match these (one name garnered two different fails):

1) Zdenick                                                        a) j ke e

2) Anne Gere’s                                                 b) “bruce taylor”

3) Ruth Anna                                                    c) “this a demic”

4) JPEE                                                            d) “retainer”

e) “in years”

Though I imagine you might get them, it seems noteworthy that, like the stir-fry that switched the author of the quote at each mouse touch, proper names (except Michigan and Caribbean…) changed.

3) Patterns. Like I said, the caption tool worked (for the most part). One pattern was the inability to recognize proper nouns. Another one is the /f/ and /th/ sounds.  At least with ‘deaf,’ the mistake happened every time. Verb endings also change on a pretty regular basis — for example ‘describe’ in the original becomes ‘describing’ in the text. That is something I read over / ignored at first, but when nuance is important that lack of accessibility to the full spectrum of verbs might be an issue.


I remember a few things about the Zdenek article that I think are worth mentioning:

1) I read the article in Anne Gere’s Composition Theory class my first semester at Michigan. I remember really liking the article – it being one of those that made me think about something I took for granted in a new way. Who knew that closed captions often sucked? Why not figure out a great way to do closed captions since people with all levels of hearing use closed captions in some way? We didn’t talk about the article much in class though.

2) Ruth Anna, in my cohort in JPEE, is the person I have heard talk about deaf studies / education the most. She is deaf. I will try to avoid just repeating her views and stories as it seems an unfair burden on her and in poor taste (“um, I have a deaf friend, so I think I would know…”). That said, one of my favorite Ruth Anna stories is her describing how funny she finds it when closed captions describe music as [tropical music playing] or [scary music playing]. Since she has been (I think she calls it ‘profoundly’) deaf since birth, she has no idea what that even means.

3) I remembered the story about Pirates of the Caribbean cannibals, but I think I might have made up the [dead Bruce Willis says…] line; it’s written in the margins of my old copy. I think I just thought I was being funny.

I remember the article and want to write about it because I got stuck again on the idea of closed captioning the law, the anti-censorship, the accessibility vs. using the original TV show / movie as a kind of “available design” for the new design that would be accessible to more people (and be, in a way, wholly new). After Zdenek lays down his guidelines, he says:

“Captioning is an art. The captioner must contend with spatial and temporal constraints while being responsible to the rhetorical needs of the narrative…Captioning is not an objective science; it is a highly interpretive practice.”

That just doesn’t sound like something any third party could ever do (especially live, for TV events like the upcoming Grammy’s or the Super Bowl). When he says this, Zdenek intends for the reader to think about movies or TV. It is telling, though, that he mostly mentions Hollywood movies like Pirates or The Happening. No snobbery intended but if he is surely counting on the idea that the worst that could happen with a poor captioning effort is the lack of Johnny Depp’s jaunty voice (how would a caption describe that? or Orlando Bloom’s terrible acting for that matter? – [Bloom overwrought says…]). Couldn’t someone make an argument that a movie working to be a piece of art itself (one made by a director who calls him or herself an auteur) can simply never be translated? Zdenek spends time discussing the necessary attention to narrative arc and purpose, the things that make a movie. Unless the people associated with the movie itself are involved in the captioning, how would that work? A rhetoric of closed captioning would need to consider a whole set of new circumstances. It would be a great interview question honestly, asking a director how he or she would remake the movie without sound. You’d have to think that a whole host of other choices might have been made in the images with that knowledge. Okay. In some way, this is all overthinking. I imagine that people who are deaf (and others who watch movies without sound for other reasons) have a perfectly great time watching movies and would be quite happy to see the tweaks that Zdenek suggests.

That said, I thought about a few what ifs. What if the movie and TV makers were the ones redesigning the pieces for closed caption? Would they stop at better decisions on background noise? I tend to think they might want to do some different edits. What if films were redesigned? What could Jurassic Park look like if sound wasn’t lacking but simply never there in the first place? I can imagine something like a comic book, inserting text boxes on the screen itself – narrative ones on the top, speech bubbles, and object vibration lines for sounds. The image would be much busier but maybe more integrated.

Anyhow, I finished the article this time (like that last) kind of excited to think about all Zdenek’s ideas, but feeling as if maybe he hadn’t gone far enough in terms of a rhetoric of closed captioning. His suggestions seem pretty practical but, in the end, come up a little short for me.