Jon Carroll is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. As I no longer live in San Francisco (it's been 15 years, yikes!!!), I have to read him in cyberspace. I initially stumbled across his column while following leads on Mondegreens from The Word Detective. Coincidentally (I don't think so) my brother recommended him. So I have been reading his column now for several months. A recent column, Ludwig Von Linebacker, sparked a reply. I have most of the text, but it is missing a small portion that was added while in the AOL letter window. I assumed that I was saving all sent letters, but alas, that was not the case [ed note - it is now]. So rather than try to insert the text from memory, I just added a missing text notation with the gist of what I wrote. I have included his reply (please bear in mind that he is a professional writer, paid for his work, and so not prone to waste his talent on every fool with email) at the bottom.

Subject: All praise, No complaining

Dear Jon,

I enjoy your column very much. After reading your piece (is this the correct technical term or do I sound like a dweeb?) about watching football and listening to good music, I was reminded of my own independent discovery of this same wonderful effect. While yours was like a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup, mine was more like eggplant parmesan. Years ago, my father and I would watch CHiPs and Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo (which immediately followed) while listening to classical music. Just as you don't really need announcers anymore with football, you didn't need the plot and dialogue of those shows to enjoy the story and visuals. Ah, who could forget Peaches and Brandy (in case you have, those were the two babes on Lobo).

I have often wondered about watching football while listening to one of those mentally interesting by visually dull shows on PBS - which I could do with my TV-VCR-Stereo setup. I urge you to try and then write about the experience. You at least could tell your wife it was research for a piece (I'll continue to use this word until I hear otherwise), while I would have to put up with the ridicule of my wife, since she doesn't like either football or interesting but dull shows on PBS and therefore could not understand why anyone would want to double the dosage. If this is successful, maybe at last I could actually get to watch (well, in a manner of speaking) "The Ascent of Man" which, while my mind was wide awake, put my body to sleep in about 5 minutes.

If you know anybody in the cable business, maybe you could persuade him or her to set up the Hybrid Channel -- compelling visuals with great music. I know, that's what a music video is, but MTV and VH1 et al are missing the boat because they don't use proven material and try to disguise the ad as the content, like celebrity talk shows. Nobody wants to watch nothing but ads (which is why Letterman and Leno have to do their routines). No, we want to put Baywatch together with Beethoven's ninth, X-files together with Beethoven's seventh -- you get the idea. Baywatch does so well world wide because you don't need to understand the plot and the dialogue to understand the story or enjoy the show. That's the kind of visual content we would want - the kind that speaks for itself. [missing content here - I suggested an ESPN 3 - just sports and music without expensive and verbally challanged over-the-hill jocks]

Oh, if it comes to pass, I only want 10% for providing the idea.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Kevin Murphy

PS If you're bored sometime or have a deadline looming and need to procrastinate, you could check out my web page at The writing is so-so and the pictures pedestrian, but I have made great strides in getting it to load quickly. I don't get paid for it (the internet is the biggest vanity press in the world) and it isn't updated daily (I thought slavery was abolished in 1864), but if you've made it this far in my letter there is some slight chance you might enjoy it and therefore it would be my way of repaying you for my enjoyment of your work.

And Mr. Carroll's reply, which lifted my spirits at once and which I still cherish:
Very funny note; thanks.

Ah, the elegance of brevity; an elegance sadly lacking from my own work. I have so much to learn from the professionals.

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This page last updated 28 November 1997

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