By Shamus Posted Friday Jun 15, 2012

Filed under: Movies 176 comments

Uh… no content today. Or tomorrow, probably. And now that I’m thinking about it, Sunday’s looking a little iffy, too. I dunno. But WAIT! Here’s some LOL RANDUMB stuff from YouTube:

Link (YouTube)

So you’ve got that going for you. Enjoy your weekend.

EDIT: Now that I’m thinking about it: Note the “snow” they use to transition between vignettes in this movie. When was the last time anyone saw real, actual broadcast snow? In the US we went all digital a few years ago, and a vast majority of the population was using cable long before that. I don’t know when, but at some point televisions defaulted to showing a blue screen when it was set to a dead channel, instead of blasting you in the face with full-volume white noise. (Always hated that when channel-surfing at night.)

The point is, it’s entirely possible that among the ten million or so people that have watched this video, some are probably teenagers who have never seen actual broadcast snow and might not even understand where it comes from.

Also: Remember having to adjust the timing on a TV to keep the image from “rolling”? That vanished at the end of the 70’s for me, and I don’t see any references to it in popular culture. I see people ironically using old TV test patterns (or parodies of such) from the 50’s, but the process of fiddling with the vertical alignment on a TV seems to have faded from memory. I seem to remember there being a horizontal alignment knob as well, but in my experience you never needed to mess with that one. Turning it would just cause the image to shear one way or the other.

Also, remember when I was young, thin, and my knees didn’t hurt so much? No? Well, there was a time. Trust me.


From The Archives:

176 thoughts on “asdfmovie

  1. Tharwen says:

    So, Shamus. Is this your first time with asdfmovie?

    1. Shamus says:

      My kids were quoting these things at me for weeks. I finally watched one, just to see what the fuss was about. Got a laugh out of me.

      1. ENC says:

        Didn’t even know they released a new one, thanks!

      2. Squash says:

        Just curious as to how your children got introduced to these. Mine brought the quotes home from school and then wanted to watch the vids on YouTube.

        People may be interested to know that just because your children are homeschooled doesn’t mean they are completely unsocialised. :-)

        1. krellen says:

          He already made that point in his autoblogography, though.

          1. It is one of those points that ends up having to be made constantly.

        2. Snort– our kids have WAY more social life than either of us did when we were in school. So much so that if you walk in our kitchen you have to assume that Skype is on and there is some kid on the other side, whether the kids are in there or not. :)

          And yes, the kids got introduced through friends– I think this time either from Texas or Arizona and knowing those kids they probably got it from friends in Japan (basing that on who is friends with whom and where they all live). I am suspecting that the kids in Arizona introduced this one and the kids in Texas introduced them to Hetalia.

          1. Mari says:

            I think the Arizona kids introduced the Texas kids to it, too. Although, in fairness, those videos are an accurate representation of my oldest girl’s brain output anyway so it was really just kind of affirming who she IS more than exposing her to something new. Years ago she was in the midst of a conversation and had some kind of mental pause and then resumed where she was before the pause except that was kind of out of sync with the conversation. Someone informed her, “Well that was kind of random.” Since then, her declared life goal is to be the most random person on the planet.

            1. Volfram says:

              That video is a lot of things(including funny and well-made), but “random” isn’t really one of them.

              Having had a reputation as a fairly random person… it’s not that amazing. You actually become rather predictable.

          2. crossbrainedfool says:

            Now I’m imagining the home schooled kids as some future network of Neal Stephenson-style series of bizarre connections and odd coincidence.

            “We need a backstage pass or [insert bad plot stuff here]”

            “Oh, let me ask Joe about that.”

            “Wait, who’s Joe?”

            “Buddy of mine – he’s the bouncer here.”

            “But you’ve never been to this city!”


            1. Volfram says:

              Given how much online chatting I did as a homeschooled kid, that is not terribly far-fetched.

            2. Mari says:

              Um, yeah, between the various members of my family we’re already well on our way to making this happen. I’m fairly certain the Youngs are the same way as are most people I know. The internet is a surprisingly small and incestuous place after you’ve been around it for a while.

    2. Eric says:

      Am I the only one who has watched several of these now, and have never, ever laughed at any of the jokes once?

      1. Mr Guy says:


        Thanks for asking.

      2. Alex the Too Old says:

        I had a sort of “this is funny” thought at several points but never physically smiled or laughed. I’m in shock over here – I never thought that any random humor could be too much for me (and my WoW guild would agree), but here it is.

        1. ps238principal says:

          Same here. At least their “random” isn’t the usual go-to “punchlines” of genitalia or profanity.

          I can see what they’re going for, but it’s pretty shallow. It’s like they saw Monty Python followed by some cartoons by Don Hertzfeldt and thought, “We can do that, but MORE!” They manage to make a bunch of different comedy beats all sound the same.

          1. Entropy says:

            Eh, this one is probably the worst so far. I think they are starting to run out of ideas…

        2. Aanok says:

          I sort of chuckled at a few moments, but never openly laughed at anything. And I frequent 4chan.

  2. Kdansky says:

    WTF did I just watch?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I shun you.Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

        1. Destrustor says:

          That was more traumatizing than funny, really.

        2. ENC says:

          I’m more of a llamas with hats fan.

          1. Destrustor says:

            But Caaaaarl….

    1. Nick-B says:

      More randomness:

      Well spent 30 minutes.

      1. Ravens Cry says:

        That’s *exactly* what I was reminded of.
        Actually, I think I might like that better.

  3. PurePareidolia says:

    Pretty sure I had a really old tv as a kid which did that.

    The static snow, not the random videos.

    1. Destrustor says:

      I currently have one that I sometimes use. It doesn’t blast full-volume static though. And it looks fairly recent too. Maybe one of the last few 4:3 models before the rise of flat-screens and plasma and stuff.
      Although I’m no expert and it could be 20 years old for all I know.

    2. Sean says:

      Man, when I was a kid, I had a TV that did the random videos between channels. Maybe less annoying when channel surfing at 3 am, but a lot more confusing.

    3. Tse says:

      My parents have a TV that’s about my age. 24 years old, in a wooden box and has 8 channels. Only 1 of them is needed, though, for the digital receiver. Since most channels in my country still don’t have hd versions, that old TV is used very often (my parents often watch different channels).

    4. Alex the Too Old says:

      Our TV is not more than 18 months old, but it has a RF input and if, while flipping through the inputs, you land on that one by mistake, you WILL get a momentary blast of static before it throws up the blue screen.

  4. Destrustor says:

    I will never grow tired of the Mine Turtle.
    So adorable. And deadly. And adorable.
    I watched this video about 15 times now, and 14 of those were solely for the Mine Turtle.


  5. Zaxares says:

    I remember the broadcast snow from a time when we had to manually tune our TV’s whenever we bought a new one. Or installed a console game system. … That seems like such a long time ago.

    1. MichaelG says:

      No one under 40 knows what these people are referring to either:

      1. evileeyore says:


        I’m 37 and I not only know what is being referred to, I experienced those things.

          1. dovius says:

            16, same

        1. Ah, beet me to it. So am I. Outer Limits used to FREAK my mom out so much. That and Dark Shadows.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Whats that boy?A simpsons reference?Ah!I can see my voice on tv!

  6. ClearWater says:

    There was a movie some years back about ghosts talking to us through the white noise of a TV. (Can’t remember what the movie was called but I suspect it was White Noise, starring Batman.) That would have been a boring movie if they made it now.

    1. ZzzzSleep says:

      Yep, White Noise with Michael Keaton…

      1. Dasick says:

        Poltergeist had the little girl talk to the “TV” people on a white snow channel

  7. Even says:

    I just wish there was more profound ways to imprint the perspective of earlier times on people who never experienced it. It just never really is the same if you’ve never experienced it first hand. Telling history through different mediums can only work so far. With the generations who lived through the World Wars quickly disappearing for example, their own unique perspective is soon gone forever and it’s something that will probably never come around again, given that it’s highly likely that the next World War is more than likely to destroy most of the civilization as we know it. While modern technology does give us more options for preserving that perspective, second hand experience just still isn’t quite the same as first hand.

    1. Alex the Too Old says:

      Such is the flow of history.

      I actually have the opposite concern – we’re NOT forgetting nearly as much as we used to. There’s a cutoff line in history, starting with WWII for serious stuff and Elvis for pop culture, and everything that’s happened since that line, we’re all still expected to know about in a fair amount of detail. Elvis is now as timely as Louis Armstrong was when I was in grade school, and yet he’s still considered a “current” reference. There is now a sixty-year band of extremely densely-recorded history that the average consumer of culture is expected to know in such detail that any reference from anywhere within it is supposed to be recognized and understood instantly.

      The line I described appears to have stopped moving once the Baby Boomers took over the media companies, and the amount of “current” pop culture knowledge you’re expected to have so as not to be considered an idiot is growing exponentially year-over-year. Small wonder that most people think about little else these days and are so easy to lie to about current issues that are actually important.

      1. Winter says:

        An XKCD that should very nicely illustrate the principle you allude to.

        I could comment further, but i will refrain for the time being out of politeness.

        1. Even says:

          I don’t believe that chart really applies that much outside the US. There’s maybe a 4 or 5 songs I’ve actually heard more than once and 3 of them have been the Finnish version of the same song, most of the time actually sung by people. The rest I think I’m only familiar with because of movies or that I’ve heard the name of the song mentioned somewhere. While the previous trio does remain a part of our Christmas tradition, most of our popular Christmas songs are from an older tradition.

          As for what Alex said; I believe the basis of your argument is sound, but I think the Baby Boomers may be only relevant to your own country in this case. That is not to say a similar thing isn’t happening elsewhere, but I’d believe it’s more of a product of an ever-increasing globalization and the amount of information one person can get bombarded with on a daily basis, in general terms. The specifics I’d think are mostly unique to each country and their culture.

          1. Alex the Too Old says:

            I do think this kind of cultural coprophagia is very much an American phenomenon these days. It seems like more and more of our new ideas from elsewhere.

      2. froogger says:

        Yes, very well put. Been wondering what this does to us besides shortening our attention span, and I think you’re right. Used to be lies were served by authoritative figures (politicians, clergy, company boss), whereas these days it permeates our culture on every layer by media and advertising. There’s hope though, as it’s never been easier to find a second point of view, but I still worry as most people just parrot others ideas. It’ll be a curious future.

      3. Eric J. says:

        It even happens in what passes for underground or counter-culture these days. Any kid with a spiked mohawk, who looks like they should be hanging out in front of CBGB’s in 1977 – is actually the equivalent of someone hanging out in front of CBGB’s in 1977 wearing a Zoot Suit.

  8. Alex says:

    I will never understand the popularity of the “asdf” videos. There isn’t a single redeeming feature to them. Not one clever second, not one laugh, chuckle or smirk. Not one word or action in them that ignites any sort of response, beyond grief for the time that has been wasted.

    They are the Lady Gaga of random humour flash movies.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      Humour is a wonderfully subjective thing.
      There’s also so clever call backs in these movies, like the guy being crushed by a car? That was the one the llama drove off a cliff three videos previous.

      1. Ed says:

        In addition to humor being subjective: I used to find these ridiculously funny when I was a kid, but I seem to have grown out of it somehow. I’m not sure if that’s a change in temperament or just a process of becoming mature.

        1. Sumanai says:

          Nice way of saying anyone who likes the video is childish/immature.

          1. X2Eliah says:

            Well, you could interpret him as saying that he grew out of humour as such. Which would kinda make sense, because we all know those grumpy old grownups don’t know how to laugh, right?

    2. Shamus says:

      Most people just say “I don’t get it” and move on.

      1. Johan says:

        Most people do the same with video games, but we do all have our quirks

        1. Shamus says:

          Man, I’ve been wasting my time. From now on I’m going to skip writing game reviews and just post , “Blah this games sucks stupid sucks and is dumb and Lady Gaga for some reason!”

          I take back what I said earlier. I think I can provide content all weekend!

          1. Shamus says:

            More seriously, I was more confused about the level of hostility, offense, and outrage that Alex was exhibiting for a video that clocks in at less than a minute and a half long. It just seemed strangely disproportionate to the crime of Being Not Funny for a Very Short Time.

            1. silver Harloe says:

              Someone on teh intarwebs likes something I don’t, or doesn’t like something I do. Must respond with rage and bile. Must crush them for having the wrong opinions!

              More seriously, how are you surprised by his outrage and hostility? Do you just ignore comments on game reviews and youtube videos so much that that you don’t realize that outrage and hostility over people having different tastes is the very driving force of the internet itself?

              1. silver Harloe says:

                (side note: if you do ignore comments on youtube videos and game reviews: congratulations! I wish I had that kind of discipline. that stuff is toxic)

            2. JPH says:

              Alex has been showing a lot of hostility lately.

          2. Johan says:

            Well we’re commenting on your blog, while you are the writer of your blog, so there is naturally a large gap in what sort of effort we’re wanting to put into it

            I’m just saying that it didn’t seem all that out of line to (quickly) express a negative opinion about something you genuinely don’t like

  9. Jjkaybomb says:

    I don’t remember having to adjust a TV for rolling, but I am old enough to remember having to mess with the tracking knob on the VCR. If the video was really poorly tracked, you could have that same whiteout noise. But besides a few encounters with old tech in my grandparent’s house, that’s the extent of my ‘old timey’ technology exposure.

    EDIT: Wait, there’s still snow on some TVs. Like, if you change the channel on the TV to something other than three… And I remember growing up seeing snow on the dead channels
    Is that just old TV’s? Or did they change it more recently than I thought…?
    I have no idea.

  10. TSi says:

    I remember using one of these old TVs at my grandparents and another we brought back from Australia twenty years ago.

    Still, my PC monitor ( Samsung P2470HD ) has many input possibilities, one beeing antenna, meaning I still get noise showing up whenever I want to switch from hdmi (PS3) to vga (PC) as I have to roll over the TV option in the menu…

  11. Erik says:

    I’m pretty sure its a setting on your TV. I know i can set my channel to default to a blue screen if theres no signal (or the signal is too weak).

    And when that is turned off, it still shows the static snow

  12. Tobias says:

    Here in Europe, satellite dishes are a lot more common then cable it seems.

    We still have some occurrence of broadcast snow if there is too much actual snow ( or rain ) in the dish.

  13. MichaelG says:

    The whippersnappers probably haven’t seen a blue screen of death either. It’s been years since I’ve seen one.

    1. Neko says:

      This is because the default setting is now to silently reboot and hope the user didn’t notice.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        I always turn that off, so at least I know something’s gone terrible wrong rather than guessing.
        That, and sometimes I think it manages to sort itself without needing to be rebooted but due to its over-zealousness it will do it anyway if you let it.

    2. Alex the Too Old says:

      My work computer still bluescreens ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. Especially if I hibernate it while it’s connected to Ethernet. It’s less than 3 years old, but it’s HP, so I guess that explains it.

    3. dovius says:

      I still get that often enough, since my PC alternates between “Made of Adamantium” and “Tensile strength of wet tissues” at random moments, so on two different days me accidentally bumping my foot against it can result in A) No problem, or B) The PC horribly dying and screaming for mercy, blue screen flashing desperately.

    4. anaphysik says:

      My little brother had a nasty case of the blue screenies on his laptop a few months ago. I was legitimately shocked that he had no idea what was happening. Kid was freaking out.

  14. ferry says:

    Eastern european teen here, and no such luck. In fact, when I was younger, we had a grayscale(why do people call it black and white?) tv. I got my share of snow.

    1. Alex the Too Old says:

      Maybe “grayscale” sounds too technical and people assume they don’t understand the term?

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Yup. It’s such a complicated word. Gray – scale.

        1. Alex the Too Old says:

          Using the word “scale” to refer to anything besides weight is surprisingly scary to a lot of people.

    2. Tuck says:

      Some early monochrome CRTs — both for computers and TVs — were strictly black and white with no intermediate shades. Green and orange were possibly more common.

      But the phrase “black and white” probably originally comes from printing, where it is black ink on white paper and mid-tones are depicted using various dithering techniques.

      (of course I’m posting this 3 days after the original comment, the likelihood of it being spotted is…low. But, we must fill in the hole that is the interwebs before somebody falls in!)

  15. Ringwraith says:

    Regarding some people not actually knowing where the ‘snow’ comes from due to being too young to be around it, it’s the same thing with the usual ‘save icon’ for programs, there will be a lot of people out there to day who don’t actually know what it is other than the ‘save icon’.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Fewer still will have seen an actual floppy (the old big ones). Pretty sure I haven’t (EDIT: wait, yes I have, just not many; I’ve seen more of floppy holders that have been repurposed).

      I remember when entire games came compressed on just one floppy (1.44M).

      1. GM says:

        Yep seen Floppies and still do,got them kept for sentimental reason´s.
        Really only played two games with Floppies as I remember Simon´s quest and Paint.

      2. Bryan says:

        1.44M? Luxury! I remember when they were 360K, and about twice as large, physically! (5.25-inch rather than 3.5)

        I also remember when they were 185K, and the same size (CP/M).

        I do not, however, remember when they were 8-inch and (I believe) held even less data…

        1. Eric J. says:

          Do you remember using a hole-punch to turn a cheaper single-sided disc into a double-sided?

          1. Peter H. Coffin says:

            “They even sold special-purpose punches to do the very thing. Called ’em ‘flippies’ instead of ‘floppies’, we did! Uphill! Both ways!”

  16. gyfrmabrd says:

    About the snow: Recall the very first line in Neuromancer? (If not, look it up. Deduct 10³ credit points on your way to the bookshelf).
    Now, I ask y’all young whippersnappers, what is the colour of a TV set tuned to a dead channel?
    Are “dead channels” even a thing anymore?

    1. False Prophet says:

      Neil Gaiman (who is friends with William Gibson) lampshaded this in the last chapter of Neverwhere (1996): “The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel.”

      1. Winter says:


  17. rayen says:

    let’s see, last time i got white noise and the rolling screen was probably my freshman year of highschool. so something like 9 years ago. in the main room of my house my dad installed a big antenna that picked up the public analog signals really well, but the little TV of mine in my room had it’s own little antenna (aka Rabbit ears) sitting on top that i had to adjust and mess with to get a channel. sophomore year this stopped when we got satellite and i got my own box in my room.

    Let’s really test age, anyone have a TV where you had either a button or switch or an entirely seperate knob for UHF and VHF? pop quiz; what does UHF and VHF stand for? Bonus what channels do they cover?

    1. Angie says:

      Did you ever put tin foil on the rabbit ears to improve reception? If so, remember messing with both antenna AND tin foil, and having the best, clearest picture show up when you were standing there with your hand on one or both, and fade back into snow and fuzz as soon as you took your hand off…? :P

      And yep, TVs had separate tuning knobs like that for most of my life. Ultra-High Frequency and Very-High Frequency. The upper knob went from channel 2 through channel 13, and the lower knob was everything else, although in actuality there were only a few channels — like six or eight max — that ever came in clear enough to watch in any area where I lived, and another handful that were in the TV guide but which were unwatchable. Most of the channels, especially on the bottom knob, were unused.

      Angie, who’s obviously way old :D

      1. rayen says:

        very good on the pop quiz. and no to the tin foil, but yes, very yes, to the clear picture until i took my hand off. god that was annoying. Di you ever have the problem where you could get good picture but not sound or vice versa.

        1. Angie says:

          Yes! I’d forgotten about that, but now that you mention it. [nod]
          I remember once when I was a freshman in high school, our English teacher assigned us to watch Julius Caesar, which was playing on one of the two local-ish PBS channels. The sound was okay, but the picture was very snowy, and I had no idea what was going on. :P


      2. Jeysie says:

        Worked with wonky radio antennas, too. The human body is a pretty good conductor of electromagnetic signals.

        1. Destrustor says:

          My subtlest of movements affect the reception of my very old
          Radio/alarm clock/phone-for-some-reason combo device, up to temporarily changing the channel. I guess I could try to better adjust the tuning, but the wheel is super-wonky and I dare not attempt it anymore. Also, getting close enough to adjust it would cause more interference, so I’d just adjust it in a way where it would mostly only work with me in that exact position.

          I should just buy a new one.

          1. rayen says:

            if you have an iphone/andriod, you already have one. it even includes a video screen and game platform.

  18. Mersadeon says:

    I barely remember broadcast snow, and I’m twenty. I WILL tell my children about it, though.

    I have no idea what you are talking about with the “rolling”, though.

    1. Angie says:

      It’s like… you know when you’re watching something like a wagon wheel rolling on TV? And depending on how fast the wagon’s going, it might look like the spokes are rotating backwards or standing still? It’s the same thing. The TV was projecting each image onto your screen, but the broadcaster didn’t know how big your screen was. You had to adjust the vertical hold (or spacing) such that the images are projected straight onto your screen every time. If it were a little bit off one way or the other, then the picture would “crawl” up or down your screen, with a thick bar between images, either quickly or slowly. It’s like, you’re trying to adjust everything so the wagon wheel looks like it’s standing still. Sort of. :)

      I hope that helps. [read/squint]


      1. MintSkittle says:

        A demonstration of vertical rolling:

        It’s actually a video for users of a particular brand of TV to get it to stop v-rolling, but it shows some v-roll.

        When I was a kid(I’ll be 30 in a couple weeks), we had a TV with knobs for both h-roll and v-roll, as well as color correction and contrast.

      2. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Nah, the broadcasters knew how “big” your screen was in lines… all of them were exactly the same. The trick was that each half-frame of broadcast including a “vertical blank” while the guide plates that moved the scanning electron beam around switched charges after the end of the frame to point back up at the top of the screen.

        The timing of this is *supposed* to be (back in the day) by the line frequency of the AC power fed to the set, and when everything was handled by local broadcasters in the short period before color, that was great. Everything ran bang-on in sync because the broadcaster used the same power grid as the receiver and it all magically lined up. However, for reasons too technical to get into here, when color broadcasts were introduced, it was necessary to unlock the vertical blank (and thereby frame rate) from the 60 Hz power to (IIRC) 59.97 Hz. And, as broadcasting power increased, it became possible to get television broadcasts from 50 or 75 miles away, on power grids not synced exactly to the broadcasters. (All power frequencies had to average out to 60 Hz over something like an hour, but second by second, they could drift from each other a little bit, as load on the grid changed.) So when things were a little out of phase, the vertical hold knob would change the frequency of the blanking by a little bit, allowing the user to bring things back into sync if they weren’t.

  19. A Gould says:

    I remember.

    I still have my first TV in the closet – 14 inches, color, with no inputs other than coax and whatever those little screws the bunny ears hooked up to. Big ass dial to change channels (and the secret smaller dial that let you “fine tune” channels (which let you change channel 13 from the Lame Educational Station to the Music Station at 23.)

    I’m never throwing that thing away. I don’t care.

  20. Eruanno says:

    I’m 21, and I remember the white noise! Woo! (I don’t remember the horizontal synchonizationmacguffin, though)

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I’m 19 and I remember white noise. Ah, white noise, the perfect excuse to play video games instead.

  21. Volatar says:

    I used a VCR that had to be manually tuned well into the 21st century. We also had a CRT TV until last year.

    On the other hand our computers have always been up to date.

  22. Andrew_C says:

    I’ve got a fairly recent big screen CRT TV (about 10 years old) which has buttons to adjust the vertical and horizontal hold. Got it from a charity shop when my nifty HD flatscreen was stolen.

    EDIT: never actually had to use them, though

  23. Lalaland says:

    I had one of those charming hobgoblin monsters complete with ‘push button’ tuning technology like an old car stereo, 10 minute ‘warm up’ time and the ability for even a solitary cirrus cloud to inflict the heaviest snow. And there was much rejoicing when we moved to somewhere with cable and got a new tv with a remote control (pronounced ‘zapper’ round my way)!

    Ahh the Ireland of the mid-1980s

  24. hborrgg says:

    I am part of the vest majority!

    1. Dragomok says:

      And I am part of the pants minority!

    2. HBOrrgg says:

      Am I really the only one who noticed this in the post? Rats, now I feel like I’m just really neurotic, or possibly crazy.

      Anyways all the CRT TVs still show the static whenever they don’t have any signal so I know it from that, but thanks to cable it doesn’t really come up when changing channels. Although I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it referred to as “snow” before, it sure doesn’t look or sound like snow. . .

      1. Shamus says:

        Ha HA! I fixed the typo and now your comment makes no sense! Retcon’d!

        More seriously: Thanks.

  25. Atarlost says:

    The only way I’m aware of that set adjustment made its way into poop culture is the Twilight Zone intro. I think the most iconic version is still “Do not adjust your set. We control the horizontal. We control the vertical…”

    1. Dragomok says:

      Which in turn is probably a reference to The Outer Limits.

      1. krellen says:

        Actually, Atarlost just mixed up the two. Twilight Zone never did they “we control the vertical” bit.

  26. Angie says:

    Anyone remember your picture going all snowy and the sound going all staticky if someone in or near the house turned on a blender or an electric drill or a vacuum cleaner…?


    1. HAhahah, oh yes. Drove my dad nuts since he was almost always watching a football game when my mom did it.

    2. Indy says:

      My TV still does that and it’s digital. I think technology hates me.

  27. I’m around your age but I grew up in the rural Midwest. My first TV had to be fiddled with a lot to get the one channel we could receive. We used both the horizontal and verticle knobs, had tons of snow unless you got the antenna just right (position changed with the weather) and when you shut off the tv it would take about five minutes to completely shut off, with the picture compressing to a single point as the tube cooled off.

    1. Tha tis how ours was. We couldn’t get cable until I was in my teens (lived in the boonies) and had a black and white for years until my grandparents ave us their old gigantic box tv.

  28. Tohron says:

    Kind of reminds me of the Gmod Idiot Box, but in 2D.

  29. Mari says:

    My day just keeps getting stranger and stranger. First it was some weird links on Facebook. Then I started reading blogs and there was strangeness. And then some kind of symphonic techno-metal version of “O Fortuna” and now this. Well, congratulations, Shamus. You were the final straw and now my head has exploded and there’s just a bloody stump of a neck and a big stain on the wall behind me. Are you proud or yourself? Your laziness has killed me. Live with THAT.

    1. Ha, wait, then your girls must not have been the ones who showed mine. Either that or they are totally holding out on you.

      1. Mari says:

        My girls hold out on me all the time. Apparently they’re afraid I’ll “get ideas” so they never show me the cool stuff!

    2. Jakale says:

      Any clue who did the O Fortuna cover? I know one by TSO that might count, but it’s always interesting to find another.

      1. Dasick says:

        This might be what Mari is referring to

        But Therion did a pretty decent metal cover of it.

      2. Mari says:

        This is it, but I’m warning you not to listen

        No, seriously, for your own sake do not listen. I’m a huge fan of Carmina Burana and I love remixes into other musical genres. But that thing I linked to above should be prosecuted as a hate crime against hearing people.

        1. Dasick says:

          You shouldn’t have linked it then.

          And you REALLY shouldn’t have linked that. :P

          1. Mari says:

            Yeah, that was pretty seriously heinous, right? But I’m of the school of thought that it’s better to give people what they want, even when I know they don’t REALLY want it, because better to find out in a safe environment with the support of people who love you than to discover these sorts of things on the streets from strangers, right?

            1. Jakale says:

              I did learn something from it. I thought techno was basically harmless, but that thing hurt. It was like someone took boss battle music and randomly placed in bits of O Fortuna with a few other random sounds. It reminded me of when I used to play around with keyboards in music stores, and got old just as fast.

  30. TMTVL says:

    So nothing today, tomorrow or the day after, huh?

    …Whatever we get monday’s bound to be great!

    1. Dasick says:

      This is exactly what Valve fans think.

      Except that their level of disappointment will be several orders of magnitude worse.

      1. Syal says:

        Yeah, cause we’ll get a Spoiler Warning!

        And an all-new installment of Josh Kills Japan.

        1. Dasick says:

          Even if they do get a HF3 or ep3, no matter how good the game is, it can’t compete with the hype surrounding it.

  31. This kind of discussion always makes me think of the Transformer Soundwave, and how my kids won’t understand what he transforms into or what the weird boxes he shoots out of his chest are.

    1. Mr Guy says:

      Or what that little icon that’s supposed to mean “call” is supposed to be. Or the one that means “save.” Or why we call it a “file.”

  32. Stebbi says:

    I like TV snow since it’s literally an image from the big bang. Ya see the snows pattern is generated by the antenna picking up the cosmic microwave radiation that emanates from the big bang.

    1. Agammamon says:

      Ya know, I wanted to check on this, since it seems unlikely (to me) that any significant portion of the static is CMB but the first jillion hits are for the big bang are for that damned tv show :)

      1. Stebbi says:

        Google gives

        From the site:

        The Big Bang’s Playing on TV

        Several members of the NASA Goddard COBE team work on WMAP. Like COBE, WMAP scans the sky over and over again, soaking up the ancient light from the Big Bang known as the cosmic microwave background. Microwaves are a low-energy form of radiation but higher in energy than radio waves. The cosmic microwave background blankets the universe and is responsible for a sizeable amount of static on your television set–well, before the days of cable. Turn your television to an “in between” channel, and part of the static you’ll see is the afterglow of the big bang.

        WMAP’s first big science announcement came in 2003, and it was a doozy. From studying the temperature variations–a millionth of a degree hotter here, a millionth of a degree cooler there–the WMAP team could deduce fundamental properties of the universe, including its age and shape, the ratio of matter to energy, the era when stars first ignited, and rate at which the universe continues to expand.

        1. Syal says:

          So… television holds the key to the mysteries of the universe?

  33. Agammamon says:

    Ahh, the good old days, when tv’s still had vacuum tubes and remote controls didn’t exist.

    I remember a time when pagers where something only rich professionals could afford – not even drug dealers carry ’em anymore.

    1. Jeysie says:

      I also remember when answering your pager was considered a chore, and where you took every excuse to leave it behind for a date or other engagement unless you were a doctor or other emergency professional.

      How we got from that to everyone having a cellphone they chat on while ignoring/irritating everyone around them at dinner/the cinema/the theater/etc. I’ll never know.

    2. Dasick says:

      Mafia II radio is full of this nostalgia stuff.

      They have infomercials about TV remotes and answering machines and dangers of smoking and such, and it’s presented from the perspective of someone who has never heard of those things before.

      It’s very good for atmosphere, but also hilarious as hell. *Sigh* how I wish M2 hadn’t run out of money to make the proper ending.

  34. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

    When I was a kid, we had a TV that had those adjustment knobs. It only had 12 channels! (I was born in ’85) Also, without snow, how would you know if you had your channel set to the same channel as your NES?

  35. ps238principal says:

    Shamus, you could do a blog post about the old media stuff that’s probably never going to be seen anywhere but as a trope in comics, cartoons and videos, such as:

    – The record scratch to indicate everything stopping.
    – Anvils.
    – Can openers (both ones you twist and the lever-ratchet kind).
    – Dial telephones
    – The sound of a tape being rewound or fast-forwarded.
    – Radio stations going silent as you pass under a bridge.
    – Murphy beds and fold-down ironing boards.
    – Hearing a TV emitting the sound of constant gunfire and assuming it to be a Western.

    The list goes on, but the first one (the record scratch) was the subject of of a 2005 story from On The Media.

    1. Stebbi says:

      Can openers are outdated? I just bought one last week and how else am I supposed to open cans?

      And anvils? I thought it was pretty standard to have an small anvil in your garage to fix tools that get bent and stuff like that.

      1. Jeysie says:

        Admittedly the manual ones are becoming a bit outdated. Either you use the more common automatic ones, or you’re using pull-tab lids.

        I still have my old “safety” ones myself, the ones that cut through the sealing glue instead of the can itself. One of the few “as seen on TV” thingys that actually works as advertised.

        1. ps238principal says:

          I was thinking of the pull-tabs, yes. They’re becoming more and more common on brand-name cans.

          Ah, there’s another one: Pull-tabs on beverage cans. I only find those with my old metal detector these days.

      2. ps238principal says:

        People with a decent workshop at all are becoming rarer, though that might change with the economy going south.

        I know very few people who even own a power saw, much less would have the inclination to repair something rather than replace it.

        Which reminds me, I’ve got a band saw I need to set up and play with soon…

      3. Adam F says:

        I use a manual can opener all the time too. Pull tabs are great, but they aren’t usually found on canned vegetables (as opposed to soups, etc)

    2. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      I am 27. I have both kinds of can openers. I have an anvil. I still have, and listen to, tapes in a tape deck and play VHS tapes in my VCR. I still listen to AM and FM radio.

      I don’t own any vinyl records or a rotary phone, but otherwise I (and even my teenage cousins) would know what all of those things are and how they work.

      Except for the ‘westerns’ thing. That’s totally true.
      Some technology doesn’t age as fast as others.

      1. ps238principal says:

        Heh. Speaking of VHS, I saw an interstate shoulder covered in VHS tape recently, presumably from someone putting a spindle from the cassette on their antenna.

        I thought, “Wow. Someone still had one of those and remembered that old trick?”

        As for your anvil, is it a small model for a workshop to be bolted to a bench (mine has a vise on one end), or is one that could be used in a clever road runner trap designed by Wile E. Coyote?

        1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

          Haha, it’s a small one with a vice. Though other than that it’s pretty much the same shape.

    3. Eruanno says:

      Don’t forget that people still use floppy disks for their save icons despite the fact they barely exist anymore (and the youngest people probably don’t know what they are if they saw one)

      1. Sumanai says:

        And those of us who used them for school work (one issued per student) are glad they’re gone. It’s not fun rewriting a document because the data was corrupted, and you had to work on it despite having a backup at home. And no, you were not allowed to save the file on the computer at school. Bonus fun if the driver of the school computer was corrupting them.

        Also Windows had/has does this nice little thing where it stops everything else whenever it writes something on a floppy disk. It was also fun to be forced to get a floppy drive long after USB-sticks came out, since a floppy rescue disk was the only reliable way of saving your Windows installation in the case of serious problems.

  36. silver Harloe says:

    I have one of those 60″ HD digital super tvs, and it shows snow when tuned to channel 3 (as happens when I turn off my dvd player before turning off the tv). However, I’m suspecting that some designer had someone write up code to generate snow to give old codgers(*) like myself a reassuring sense of familiarity.

    (*) 41. I know, I know. it’s a joke, son.

  37. Jeysie says:

    Here’s another for you:

    Once in a deviantART project, I wrote a short comic starring a bunch of doomed journalists called “This Concludes Our Broadcasting Day”, only for it to occur to me after I published it that, you know, a large chunk of the audience in question probably has never actually heard the phrase in question and wouldn’t understand/recognize the pun.

  38. Simplex says:

    Whenever I see a TV screen in “Mad Men” I wonder if the picture quality really was that bad in the 60s.

    1. Eric J. says:

      In Manhattan? I’m pretty sure it was. And most of the city got cable really, really late.

  39. cavalier says:

    Once again your post about ‘nothing’ ends up pretty interesting.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah. I love how this thread is set to surpass the previous thread on Saints Row 3.

      1. Dasick says:

        Oh that’s an easy one to crack. Nostalgia is a powerful self-propagating tool, and you just opened a can of it. *insert snarky played out remark about Nintendo, while never having owned (or been interested in) any of their current generation devices*

        What’s more surprising is that you hadn’t anticipated the interest boom for a topic a)everyone in your community can relate to and b)lets people show off their “hipster cred” and “life experience”*. Bonus points for including “random” in your initial statement, that’s a powerful yet pointless conversation mover.

        *Like me! I grew up in Russia, and we get about 10-20 years of culture/convenience lag, so a lot of those things you guys are talking about, not only I’ve seen, but I continue to experience.

        1. Sumanai says:

          How the heck is knowing about, or having personal experience with, old/analog technology “hipster cred”? By that logic everyone in old-folks homes are the biggest hipsters of us all. Especially old nerdy people there.

          Wouldn’t that also mean that Stephen Fry is a bigger hipster than any of us could possibly be?

    2. Lord of Rapture says:

      All posts are about something! This is a post about Nothing!

      1. Dasick says:

        A show about nothing? where have I heard that one before?

  40. Vextra says:

    Expanding on the topic of videogame nostalgia, I find it weird how mainstream movies continue to display games, even obviously fake composite ones made up to avoid copyright issues, as if they were from the mid 80s to the late 90s. To take a fairly recent example( of many), the 2010 romcom Going the Distance has the protagonist and leading lady bond over a game of Centipede in an Arcade. (Those things even still exist?) No lampshade is placed on the obsolence of this.

    There’s a legion of other examples, but I find it weird how artifacts of media technology from the 70s and earlier can survive in these forms but more modern iterations remain unobserved. I guess its easier to be up to the decade than up to the minute?

    1. ps238principal says:

      I bet there are several (many cynical) reasons for the use of old game cabinets in films:

      – Nostalgia for a lot of the viewing audience.
      – “It’s retro!” for the rest of the viewing audience.
      – Real arcades (if you can still find them) often have a bunch of older games because people do still play them.
      – Older games are likely cheaper than newer ones when it comes to movie rights.
      – A lot of prop rental places (assuming the location picked doesn’t just have the games there) probably have several old game cabinets.
      – The writers, directors, and producers are probably of the generation that played those games.

      What I found funniest in movies were the “no name brand” arcade games. The cabinets would be a solid color or have generic graphics on the side belonging to no particular game, and the sound effects would be from an old Atari 2600, Mattel Electronics hand-held game, or even that old “Merlin” light-up game that was shaped like a huge cordless phone.

    2. Destrustor says:

      Something that grates me is how you sometimes see the characters mashing a modern console controller while hearing the beeps and boops of games from a time where those consoles weren’t even a dream. And then they say things like “yeah I got to the last level!!!” or “oh no I’m down to my last powerup”.
      Outside of very specific nostalgia-aiming games and maybe remakes of old games, no game ever made in the last ten to fifteen years has ever used those sounds.
      I know that these are pretty much the only sounds almost everybody can instantly recognize as “game sounds” and that any other sound you could qualify as both “iconic” and “recent” would also be copyrighted somehow, but I don’t really like the way it makes games look like some stagnating “it’s all the same anyway” thing.
      It’s like making a movie with a brand-spanking new ferrari in it but using sound effects from the Ford model T. It’s just off.

      1. Syal says:

        And then we have Alan Wake, in which the television shows are from the fifties.

        The circle comes back around.

    3. Eric J. says:

      Or the SHIELD agent playing Galaga in Avengers.

      1. ps238principal says:

        I find that if they use actual arcade game noises for a computer game, one can (though it depends on the character) assume that they’re playing MAME.

  41. newdarkcloud says:

    I’m a little surprised you haven’t said anything about E3 yet. I mean, it doesn’t bother me since many other sites on the internet have been so eager to talk about it (OMG worst E3 evarrrr!), but since video games are a major talking point on this blog…

    1. Otters34 says:

      Eh, he commented on Twitter about it.

  42. HBOrrgg says:

    Is this turning into an interrupt Shamus’s break by giving him more topics to post about thread? Because if so I’ve got one:

    Every season the Spoiler Warning crew likes to throw out statements such as “This character has such good writing!” or “It was a good story but so poorly written.”, but I guess I must be as writ blind as I am tone deaf because I’m honestly not sure what the difference is. So why don’t you make a post about what makes writing good or bad when it comes to video games?

    1. Dasick says:

      EDIT: DAMMIT, Wall-o-Text. Sorry

      Tl:dr; version: “Good Writing” is about the actual implementation. “Good story” is something that is an interesting concept to explore.

      Hmm. That’s a tough one. I’ll answer the way I understand it, but it is very possible that the SW crew have a completely different interpretation of these words.

      I guess what they are referring to when they say that in the first case, it’s about the techniques of writing. A “well-written character” means things like the character making sense (backstory, motivation etc) and how well the character is integrated into the story (having the character say their thing when it is appropriate, being subtle about characterization but not too subtle etc).

      As for what makes a good story, even if it is poorly written, it’s all about how interesting the ideas introduced by the story are. In Alan Wake for example, the idea of the Darkness taking over people and amplifying their traits is an interesting idea, but the execution, ie the actual “writing”, is terrible, because you mow them down like zombies (which reduces the personal appeal) and their “amplified personality” is revealed through their combat taunts, and their combat taunts are… well, you know what their combat taunts are.

      The Taken could have been transformed into grotesque caricatures of themselves, where everything that was good about the character would be somehow defiled and corrupted. If the characters were well-written before being Taken, this would create a deep psychological understanding and powerful emotional connection with them – and that, at least in my book, would make for a well-written story as well as a good one.

      1. Syal says:

        I think a good character is an interesting character, someone you would want to see outside of the story they’re in (for good guys, anyway; good villians often are the story). So they need traits that aren’t directly tied to the story, and also don’t alienate the audience.

        And good story is one that is primarily driven by the characters in it. (Not quite the same as an interesting story, which is what you get with an interesting concept that can fit with any characters. Alan Wake is more interesting than good I think, because the concept of writing the world around you is intriguing but Alan himself is pretty bland.)

  43. Sumanai says:

    As has been mentioned by others, the blue screen on TVs is a function on the TV itself. It’s automatically shown when it thinks there is no signal. This can be problematic in some of the sets, since they decide too easily that there’s “nothing”. After all a bad image can be better than no image.

    The “rolling” didn’t vanish, TVs just got automatic tracking, similarly to VCR’s. If the signal is too weak though, you’ll have to still adjust it manually, like with tapes. (Had to do this in the 90s since a new channel came out and had few towers.) Unless the TV or VCR doesn’t trust you and decides to auto-track it after you’ve adjusted it to where you want it. (Had both a TV and a VCR that didn’t hold manual adjustments.)

    What’s annoying about the digital TV transmissions is that if the signal is too weak for the image to be displayed correctly, it can become a complete mess and there’s no adjustments you can do to get a faded image. So it ends up being an all or nothing deal. Not literally, there’s “good”, “bad”, “really bad” & “nope” quality even with digital. At least in Finland. But the difference between “good” and “bad” is bigger than in analog.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      There is no rolling for digital transmissions as until the frame is completely composed, the monitor cannot display the image. That’s just how the compression works. The closest that can happen is the “tearing” that happens when the compression is ramped up too high and there are too many changes from frame to frame to fit in the available bandwidth, and you end up with big blobs of artifacts until the frame-to-frame bandwidth drops or a fresh key frame comes in. *Usually* for DTV broadcasts, that’s no more than about 500ms.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.