Dear Annie: My daughter, “Emily,” has been dating “Ben” for almost two years. Ben is a great guy, aside from one issue that’s been bugging me: He refuses to drive anywhere and instead has my daughter drive him. He says it’s because a few years ago he was in a car accident and has been scared to drive since. (He was not hurt in the accident.) He has Emily drive him to and from work every day. Emily never complains about it, but it drives me insane because Emily and her kids were also in a car accident a few years back and suffer PTSD from that accident. Ben is aware of this, but doesn’t seem to get it. He thinks it’s no big deal for Emily to get over her fear while avoiding getting over his fear. I want to say something to him so badly, but I haven’t. And every time I say something to my daughter, she gets upset with me. How can I approach the situation without making it worse? — Miffed Mom
Dear Miffed: Your intentions are good, and your irritation is understandable. But Emily is the one behind the wheel, figuratively and literally. When she’s tired of driving him, she can stop. Meanwhile, you can earn interest by keeping your two cents in the bank: If you avoid offering advice when your daughter hasn’t asked, she’ll be more likely to ask you for advice. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com
And once again, Annie Lane opens her column with an easy-to-answer question. [Eyeroll.] I don’t like her advice, either. Here’s the advice I’d give:
Dear Miffed: First, you need to abduct Ben at gunpoint. Take him to a hidden basement and tie him to a chair. Shine a bright light in his face and…
Oh, brother. I can’t go on. At any rate, her column actually got worse after that easy question:
Dear Annie: I agree with “What Did You Say” that mood music in TV shows often makes it hard to hear the dialogue. I would add that background noises meant to create “realism” also frequently drown out what the actors are saying. Isn’t the dialogue important enough to make it audible? Because the problem is in the show itself, it doesn’t help much to turn up the volume. If I turn it up enough to make out the dialogue, then the music and ambient noise are so loud that it is annoying.
My wife and I always watch shows with the closed captions on. We find that we even enjoy movies more at home than at the movie theater because we can have the captions on at home. It also helps a lot with BBC shows where the accents and British slang can make it hard to catch what is said. But it would be even better if the shows’ directors and editors highlighted the dialogue and turned down the sound effects. — Not Ready for the Ear Horn in Lafayette, Indiana
Dear Not Ready for the Ear Horn: You’re not alone. A 2017 survey found that 98% of people use closed captioning at least some of the time. While closed captions can certainly be helpful, some have pointed out that they’re far from perfect and, during some live broadcasts, the captions lag behind the visuals.
Well, that’s… a public service announcement for closed captions! All righty then. Because there are poor people out there who’ve never heard of closed captions! We need to send some missionaries to far corners of the world and ask these poor people, “Have you messed around with your remote control yet? No? Why not?”
It gets funnier, because as Annie Lane tells us:
A 2017 survey found that 98% of people use closed captioning at least some of the time.
And… we still need the public service announcement? It’s laughable.
(I love that cat image. I’m going to use it all the time. I can’t look at it without laughing.)
But then, Annie Lane ends the column with some actually helpful advice:
[Annie Lane talking:] The following letter writer offers another tip to try.
Dear Annie: With regard to the letter about TV dialogue: Very often the problem is that people have their TV set for “surround sound” audio as if they have multiple speakers when they only have the TV speakers. This causes the “background” track to be louder because the “voice track” is expected to be broadcast from its own speaker. — Kate H.
That’s some useful info from letter-writer Kate! But then Annie Lane follows it up with this closing comment:
Dear Kate: This is another possible contributing factor to the problem. The exact troubleshooting instructions will depend on the TV manufacturer. For anyone unable to easily find these audio options in their TV settings menu, it’s worth reaching out to the manufacturer’s customer service line.
Really? The exact troubleshooting instructions will depend on the TV manufacturer? Who the [bleep] knew?! You mean, there’s no consensus on how to program your remote?! Say whaaaat?
(Oh, hey. Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie and her boyfriend were declared incompatible because–get this–she used a PC and he used a Mac? And the computer repairman was like, “I’m sorry, but it’s never going to work out between you two,” because Carrie hit control-alt-delete on her boyfriend’s Mac, which was a huge no-no? I think such things should be taken seriously, so I refuse to date any man who uses satellite TV instead of cable. Hmmph.)
Actually, it’s not even true about the TV manufacturers. It’s not about the TV manufacturer, not anymore. All of our settings here in Meg World are created by our cable provider and are accessed through the cable’s remote and special add-on box. And you’ll get better luck reaching out to the cable company than trying to call a TV manufacturer about their 1998 box TV that was discontinued in 1999. Just sayin’.