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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old April 29th, 2004, 10:17 AM   #1
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Is Cecil wrong?

I'm somewhat obsessed with the newspaper column The Straight Dope, written by Cecil Adams. On his Web site today (April 29) he reprinted a 1981 column in which he responded to a question about the definition of a gaffer with the following:

"You Arizonans are so literal-minded. The gaffer is the head electrician in a film production unit, and is mainly in charge of the lighting. He is aided by his number-one assistant, the "best boy," who also gets to be in the credits a lot of the time, right next to the "key grip" and the "second grip," the head handyman and his chief helper, respectively. None of these is a title I would be eager to insert in my resume. However, the electricians at least get to yell such satisfying cinematic admonitions as "slap a jelly on the baby" ("please be so kind as to affix a gelatin filter to one of the 500-watt lamps"), which more than makes up for minor embarrassments of nomenclature, to my way of thinking."

I thought a "baby" was a 1,000 watt fresnel. Is "the world's smartest human" actually wrong about something?
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Old April 29th, 2004, 12:26 PM   #2
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Ah, The Straight Dope. I remember when I first read good ol' Cecil, nearly 20 years ago -- it was a life-changing moment. The smart-ass know-it-all that I am now has Cecil to thank for it.

Now, let me wipe the tear from my eye and say that while I cannot confirm what a "baby" is, there have been some mistakes found in CA's columns. Although few and far between, these can mostly be attributed to his lackadasical editor, Ed Zotti (or so Cecil claims).

That said, my interest in the Straight Dope was waned in the past 5 years or so. I'm not fond of his innumerable "helpers" (can't recall his name for them) who seem to be writing the bulk of the material now -- they just don't have the wit or charm. The TV Show attempt was sad as well, and the website's forums are populated by some very annoying folks (at least in my opinion) -- of course, this can be said of many web forums, which is why 99% of my forum reading and posting happens here at the great dvinfo.net :)
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Old April 29th, 2004, 12:37 PM   #3
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Cecil's never wrong, except when he swallows stories about New York City mole people hook line and sinker, or relies on nuts like Jearl Walker to explain why the shower curtain blows inward. True that "baby" usually refers to a 1 kW light, but strictly speaking, it's any fixture that uses a steel plate welded to a 5/8" pin, the pin being referred to a baby pin, the plate being called a baby plate. Still, since the article was pulled from the archives, it may have been one of Cecil's earlier incarnations that committed the error, not the present Cecil (Ed Zotti).
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Old April 29th, 2004, 12:39 PM   #4
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I thought that "editor" Ed Zotti had *always* been Cecil?
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Old April 29th, 2004, 01:02 PM   #5
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According to their FAQ, previous Cecils, er, editors included Mike Lenehan ('73 to '76) and Dave Kehr ('76 to '78). Since the article in question was authored in '81, present editor Zotti would indeed have been the responsible editor.
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Old April 29th, 2004, 06:50 PM   #6
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So how do you say, in gaffer-speak, the light bulb in that baby needs to be changed?
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Old May 1st, 2004, 01:44 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Michael Wisniewski : So how do you say, in gaffer-speak, the light bulb in that baby needs to be changed? -->>>

Wrong thread.

;)
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Old May 1st, 2004, 07:46 PM   #8
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I thought I was the only SD freak in the world!

As far a Cecil being wrong, what was that quote?

"Cecil knows everything. He told me so, and Cecil has never lied to me."

It really has gone down hill as of late, and yes, the people on the board are a little "outthere."

lol
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Old August 31st, 2004, 02:53 AM   #9
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I just noticed--they published my query from earlier in the summer this week.
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