What Did You Say??

I was watching a Hallmark channel love story this past week – one of their typical “June wedding” movies.  And as I usually do, I had the captions on because, having the attention span of a gnat, I don’t always catch the dialogue of t.v. shows and the captions help. Usually. But in the case of this destination-wedding themed bit of escapism, the captions let me down. Big time.

I can’t be the only one to have noticed. I mean, I realize these movies cater to a very particular niche, but nonetheless, I’m sure they have a somewhat broad audience who, like me, partake in the weekly guilty pleasure. You’d think with the revenues generated by the romance industry, especially considering it’s Hallmark of all people, that there would be a higher quality of closed-captioning available. Well, you would be wrong.

Now, I realize that most captioning is mechanized these days and with automated translations come massive translation fails, especially when the actor on-screen is speaking a language the captioning program doesn’t understand.  I’ve seen some very good, high quality movies or shows where the caption states “Jane Doe speaking Vulcan…” or “John Smith speaking in High Valyrian,” which demonstrates an obvious programming flaw, but at least in those cases, even the caption program realizes, hey, I need to be respectful here even though I can’t make heads or tails of whatever it is they’re saying. If we’re really lucky, the movie’s internal production system kick in and the translation appears via subtitles built into the movie. Sadly, that’s not always the case, as proven by my foray into the wilds of Hallmark movies previously mentioned above.

So, as I said, the plot was centered around a destination wedding set at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico, complete with white sand beaches, turquoise water, the obligatory romantic tension between completely dissimilar people, and Spanish-speaking locals…you know how they do…in Mexico. With such a heads-up as to the setting of this movie, you’d think that a strategy would’ve been put into place to cover and possibly translate any oh, I don’t know, Spanish dialogue. But there, you would be wrong again.

I’ll set up one of the scenes in question for you – zoom in on a beachside table at which sits the starring couple, who just happen to have perfect teeth and great tans, and who also just so happened to be in love years ago though it didn’t work out because they were completely unsuited for each other and who now reluctantly find themselves thrown back together while planning the wedding of a friend and whilst doing so forget that they’re completely unsuited for each other and eventually fall in love all over again – but, BUT before they realize they are once again besotted with each other, it is time to try out different foods for the dinner aspect of the aforementioned wedding they are planning – hence sitting beachside, surrounded by food. Enter one Spanish-speaking local who, apparently flustered by the couple’s nitpicking at each other, does his nervous best to describe the food he has prepared – and the results are these impressively awful captions.

 

 

I don’t think that means what you think it means…

I pretty much had the same look of utter confusion, though admittedly my teeth aren’t nearly as perfect. So. Yeah. I’m hoping before Hallmark releases another movie with bilingual dialogue that they sort of up their game on the whole captioning thing — on so many levels. One can only hope, but in the meantime, I won’t hold my breath.

 

Holiday Rush

In the waning days of August, as summer inched closer to its end yet still had plenty of bite to put sweat on the forehead at the height of the afternoon, I was in a local store to grab a few items and, lo and behold, I saw Halloween decorations staring back at me. Really!? In August the merchandisers were already starting to push Halloween on us!? Halloween, people! I did a double take just to make sure I hadn’t maybe forgotten that I had previously slipped into a coma and having recently come out of aforesaid coma forgotten that it was actually the beginning of October. Nope. No coma. It was definitely August and before Labor Day fireworks were even being set up,  I was already being nudged to think about how I’m going to decorate my front porch for a night more than two months away!

Absurd, I know, but this is how the trend has been going for years now. Each successive holiday season, the celebration du jour has their products on sale earlier and earlier. My prediction? By mid-September (now-ish) we’ll start seeing turkey cartoons and cornucopia centerpieces. By the time Halloween actually rolls around there will be plastic sleighs and reindeer horns for sale next to cash registers. On Christmas Eve we’ll be able to buy chalky candy hearts with “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me” tattooed on them. After we sing Auld Lang Syne we’ll crack open a Cadbury Cream Egg which, by the way, has already been on sale for a week.

It’s getting crazy how early each consecutive holiday season starts but is it really that unexpected? Should we be shocked? We do live in an age of capitalism, so getting the jump on the competitor is how a business thrives. And who doesn’t like being reminded of these great excuses to eat more than we can fit in, see family we can barely stand, and drink more than we ought to? But when is it too much?? Keep pushing the clock back the way it’s been going and before you know it kids will be sucking on candy canes on their way home from the swimming pool.  Feliz Navidad!

Family Love

In the past few years my family has transitioned from something out of Full House to something more akin to Arrested Development. No, I’m not saying that we’re all in danger of going to jail for a slew of financial crimes (including light treason) and building houses in Iraq. What I mean, is that while we used to be all lovey-dovey nice to each other (at least where card-giving holidays like birthdays are concerned), somewhere along the way we changed and found out that using insults and sarcasm is a much more fun way to tell someone how much you cherish them. Only makes sense, right?

It’s become common practice for all of us to get each other the most mean-spirited (or sarcastic) cards we can get our hands on. And we have the best time shopping for these things! Standing in the aisle of the card store, grinning from ear to ear, oftentimes laughing out loud, and looking like an absolute fool as we pour over the selection combing for the perfect card.  It’s actually quite reminiscent of Grandma Mooney and the Case of the Vinegar Valentines, but without the malicious intent.

If the person is getting on in years, rest assured the cards they get will be all about how old they are. Prime example: Some of the grandkids gave their doting grandfather a Star Wars themed card. On the front it said “In a galaxy far, far away, a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long time ago…” Inside, “…you were born.” Simple but effective. Congratulations Grandpa, you’re old as dirt. And he LOVED it!

If age isn’t an easy target, don’t worry, we’ll find something to harp on…the choices are abundant once you really start looking through the card section. One loving daughter (I won’t name who) gave her mom a card that joked about how her breasts have a much closer relationship to the floor now than when she was younger. Hardy har har, right? Again, not exactly zingers from MENSA, but you get the point.

The really funny part is that it didn’t use to be this way. We used to play nice. We’d go the Hallmark route and buy cards with pictures of kittens or lovely scenes all over them and sweetly worded verses inside. Then this evolution happened and now it’s all out warfare in the stationary section. I don’t know what caused the change or who initiated the mean streak, but it’s been holding strong and has even been spreading to extended members of the family. It’s become disappointing to us when we receive a “nice” card…and it makes us rack our brain trying to figure out just what we did to annoy the giver that they felt the need to get us a “nice” card.  I know.  We’re weird.

No one is safe. Mothers, fathers, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles…all are fair game. And we’re not confined to just blood relatives either. Oh no no no. You come into this family and sure, we’ll let you have the nice heartfelt marriage. We’ll get you the gifts off your registry and we’ll tell you how happy we are to have you in our family (all true by the way).

But after a few years, when you’re good and hunkered down and we’re pretty certain you’re no longer a flight risk, we’ll take the kid gloves off and really let you into the family. After this proverbial “waiting period” you’ll know you’re truly part of the clan when on your birthday you get a card that implies you need to up your meds rather than one that gushes over your virtues (which I’m sure are very valid and gush worthy). A card that will hopefully make you laugh as much as we did when we picked it out.

Hurray, you’ve finally been accepted into the fold! That’s love right there. Because that’s how our family rolls.

 

family love