Tuesday, April 09, 2002

I did my spot on TechTV, and it turned out a little perverted. Appropriately, the problem was technology.

When you tape one of these pieces they give you a prompter control that you can manipulate to keep the prompter spinning ahead...in some news rooms there is someone there running the prompter, but the NYC bureau for TechTV has only one technician at night. If you've never used a prompter, it's a piece of glass in front of the camera off of which a reversed image of the words you are saying is bounced--it sounds complicated, but once you see one it makes sense. You need the control because your reading speed can really vary according to what's going on, so it needs to roll out dynamically...you don't want it to go too fast, or suddenly you are lost. You get the idea.

Normally I don't use them and just improvise, but it is tech week and I thought this would make things easier. The problem is that since *I* have to be the one controlling the knob, I need to hide the controller...otherwise America will wonder "Why is he twisting that knob?" So I hid the controller under the desk, which has a glass top and space where it would fit. I was set. I would nonchalantly adjust the flow whenever they cut away from me to show the host. I can track this on a monitor which is set up next to the camera.

Problem is, they didn't set up the monitor...for some reason the it showed just an image of me, not what was actually going out on the station. Thus I couldn't tell when the camera was off me, and so I kept getting caught darting my hand under the table, then back up to make a point, then under the table. Over and over.

Instead of America wondering,

"Why is he twisting that knob?"

it was wondering,

"Why does this man keep putting his hand under the table ever five seconds? Is he a pervert...a terrifying tech-oriented nerd sex pervert?"

Worse yet, Leo, who is the host, noticed it and talked about my hands on camera. Nothing like being embarrassed in front of 100,000 viewers.

Mike, what are you doing with your hands? Keep them where we can see them!

This only filled me with the fiery desire to tell him:

Leo, I'm touching myself. On national TV. Because that's what I do when I think about you, Leo. I touch myself.

I did not do that, of course, or this would be a really good entry. Instead I laughed and did this really bizarre physical gesture where I hovered both my hands over the table, in full view, and then made circles in the air, like the Karate Kid "wax on, wax off" thing. At the same time I emitted a low "ooooooooooooooooooo" noise. It was somehow the right thing to do, dispelling any awkwardness and making it all funny, but I'll be damned if I know why the hell I did that, or why it worked.

The spot should be playing over the next few days on the Screensavers, so check it out...then you can judge for yourself.