Saturday, September 29, 2007

Quote of the day: Chuck Lorre bares the painful history of the miraculous, revolutionary invention by that perfidious genius, Schlomo Tivowitz


Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki in The Big Bang Theory

"Thankfully, it isn't my nature to be bitter. But there are times in my life when I feel a little used."
--TV producer-writer Chuck Lorre, in the end card from the premiere episode of his new CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, reliving his brush with the infamous Schlomo T.

As many of you are aware, at the end of each episode of each show that Chuck Lorre [right] produces, buried after the end credits is a card densely packed with musings on some subject or other which readers gradually come to realize are mused by the master himself. Monday night CBS debuted Chuck's latest creation, an inauspicious-looking shebang called The Big Bang Theory, about a pair of to-the-nth-degree-super-nerd roommates who have a Super-Hot Chick move in across the hall in their dilapidated L.A. apartment building, the gimmick being that one of the nerds is conscious of his nerddom and has--obviously comical--aspirations to be, you know, a real boy. Ha ha.

I must have made my first stab at watching the thing as early as late Monday night, but the first five minutes or so was so discouraging that I postponed further investigation. I finally got back to it today, if only to be able to erase the damned thing--the hard drive of my (non-Tivo) DVR has limited storage capacity--and by episode's end felt ever so slightly more hopeful about the show's prospects.

But the real reward was this dramatic end card:
Back when I was writing and producing Dharma and Greg the only way to read my cards was to record each episode on a VCR and hit the "pause" button. This was not an easy task. The image wobbled like crazy making the tiny words of my weekly tomes very had to see. Then it hit me. What about building a device that records images digitally? Wouldn't this make for a much more precise "pause" function? I took my little notion to an impoverished computer whiz by the name of Schlomo Tivowitz. At the time of our meeting Schlomo was feverishly trying to invent an improved version of the George Foreman Grill. Schlomo's grill would contain a hard drive that remembered all the details of your last barbecue as well as an address book. I didn't really see the point of it, but not being a tech guy, I held my tongue and presented him with my idea. I will never forget his reaction. With hamburger-flecked spittle flying from his blubbery lips, he laughed, called me some very unkind names and demanded that I leave his mother's basement immediately. My hopes dashed, I went back to work on Dharma and forgot about my silly idea. Well, I'm sure you can figure out what happened next. The fact that you're reading this card right now should tell you. Thankfully, it isn't my nature to be bitter. But there are times in my life when I feel a little used -- usually when I've forgotten how to effectively grill a fatty piece of chicken.


For the benefit of nitpickers who may check and find deviations between the above transcription and the actual end card, a few words: C'mon, gimme a break. Probably Schlomo could invent a better system, but--as longtime readers may recall--my crack TV transciption system consists of a cumbersome process necessitated by the fact that the TV with the DVR is in a different room from the computer. So the process is, approximately:

(1) laboriously hand-scribble a draft transcription, usually on the back of an envelope or newspaper or the like;

(2) locate the particular envelope or newspaper or whatever that happens to contain the desired draft transcription (I can't tell you how often, between steps 1 and 2, it turns out that, for the first time in weeks, I've bundled up and disposed of the accumulation of newspapers, including the one that presumably contained the transcription in question);

(3) at the computer, attempt to decipher the scribbling of the draft transcription (having learned the hard way to eschew shorthand-style abbreviations, even for the most common words, on the ground that the best clue to the identity of a hard-to-decipher word is often the shape of the mystery scribble);

(4) return wearily to the DVR-equipped TV and attempt to plug the gaps in the draft transcription; and finally--

(4) keyboard the fully (or as fully as it's going to get) deciphered version of the draft transcription, taking care to introduce some strategic "errors" (or "typos"), to give the end result a more "human" look.

Probably there are already screen grabs and more efficiently produced transcriptions of CLP card #182 all over the Internet. But ask yourself: Did any of them require this amount of gratuitous and utterly pointless drudgery? I've thought of putting out a "TIPS" jar to allow readers to show their appreciation, but so far the exceedingly low volume of street traffic passing my computer has discouraged me.

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At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, for one, would enjoy reading the end cards, since I haven't yet joined the 21st century and purchased a TiVo.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger snooz said...

The highlight of my Mondays is the CLP cards after "Big Bang" and "Two and a half men". Thank you Time Warner for my DVR so I can pause them and write them down in a book totally devoted to these rantings. What, I don't have a life? On the contrary, it's reassuring to know that someone else uses the proverbial soapbox as I do...a truly cathartic and healthy avenue to flush the system. Snooz

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Chuckybooker said...

I love the quotes, they are awesome. Is there a way to have a Chuck Lorre quote of the day e-mailed to one's phone? If so...hit me up


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