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February 23, 2009

Eavesdropping For Fun and Profit

Eavesdropping For Fun and Profit
By Lisa Daily

Maybe I watch too much television, but lately I seem to be seeing a lot of commercials for a kooky little device called the SILVER SONIC XL.

What is ithttp://image01.bizrate-images.com/resize?sq=140&uid=926904410?  It's a sound amplifier that looks almost exactly like one of those wireless phone earpieces often found perched on the ears of stockbroker and lawyer types.

The commercial opens with poor old granny, unable to hear the church bingo numbers being called, who misses her one big chance at the $25 jackpot because she can't quite make out the goll-durned numbers.

"I had it!" she wails in despair.

Cut to Grandpa, whose quality of life has taken a tragic turn for the worst -- he can't hear what the characters are saying on his favorite episode of LAW & ORDER, or maybe THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR, and has to continually beg irritated family members to turn up the damned TV, or at the very least shout each word of dialog in his general direction. 

Thank goodness for American ingenuity and an infomercial with the solution to all our problems.  Just strap the 'ol SILVER SONIC XL on your ear, crank it up, and suddenly, you can hear a pin drop from 90 feet away.

Not only that, you can use it to turn up the volume on old mother nature, so you can hear the musical sounds of the rare two-billed red beak snifferfinch on your next birdwatching expedition.

Grandma, Grandpa, get ready to live the good life.

If the commercial stopped here, as sort of a cheap fix ($19.95!) for those with hearing loss, or even as an aid to make birdwatching even more edge-of-your-seat thrilling, I'd be saying, hey, more power to ya.


The info-tastic infomercial tells us that the breakthrough SILVER SONIC isn't just for those with hearing loss, NO, you can use the SILVER SONIC to spy on your neighbors as well!

"And because it resembles a cellphone ear adaptor, no one will ever know that you have SONIC hearing!"

Cut to Frank the Letch, dreaming of a threesome, listening in on the three hot babes across the room. "Wow, he's SO HANDSOME.  And he just moved in to the building!"

Cut to Julie the suburban housewife unloading the groceries from the trunk of her brand new car, smiling smugly as she eavesdrops on two female neighbors chatting down the block, "Wow, another new car!  They must be doing really well!"

If Julie lived in my neighborhood, she'd be a lot more likely to hear, "who the hell buys a new car in this economy?"

Every time I see these commercials, I am reminded of one of my very favorite quotes,
"What you think of me is none of my business."

New Car Julie and Frank The Letch,  this means you.



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My husband howls every time he sees this commercial. I confess...I am a restaurant eavesdropper. He says that would be perfect for me! LOL

The Hubs and I used to argue over "turn the tv up or turn it down" until I bought wireless speakers and set them beside each of our chairs. Maybe Grandpa could use a wireless speaker because with that amplifier, he'll hear everything EXCEPT what is on TV.

The eavesdropping on neighbors scene sort of makes me wish they were talking about the neighbor's philandering husband. But "who buys a car in this economy" is pretty funny!

HAH! I watch most shows on DVR, and I skip the commercials, so if this one didn't run during the Super Bowl - or the Oscars - what a GREAT show last night - I missed it the ad.

Here in Pittsburgh, you don't need equipment to eavesdrop. People carry on the most personal conversations anywhere they please, and no one even bothers to whisper.

Every time I see this, I'm reminded of the old joke: How do you make 100 little old ladies scream "F***!". Yell 'Bingo!'....:)

Then I start to wonder whatever happened to the concept of Privacy in this country....

Hey Ramona - was that you with Daniel Craig last night?

Yeah, Ramona -- is that your hand sneaking into the photo next to Daniel, with that little wedding ring showing? What's up with that?

Eavesdrop on the neighbors? I'm not sure I want to know what the immediate family is saying about me. Good grief.

BTW, those little earpiece things are ubiquitous here in LA, ever since last July, when the hands-free law went into effect. Boy, they make even the riffraff look like Secret Service agents. Will someone design one that doesn't look like an oversized bullet coming out of an ear?

I my neighborhood, eavesdropping is as easy as opening the window. Most of my neighbors get loud all by themselves. I do need to remind my wife to keep it down in restaurants and stores, you never know who is listening. Just last week the table next to mine in a restaurant was having a lively discussion of their children's sexting habits. Nice to know that somewhere in St. Louis county there is a well hung 12 year old that wants to show "the monster in his pants" to his cousin.


You crack me up! I always watch people in restaurants too. I don't try to listen in on their conversations, but I LOVE to watch body language to try to figure out if it's a first date, couple married for 15 years who hate each other, affair, etc.



The Oscars WERE fabulous last night. The image of Hugh Jackman in a tuxedo will forever be burned in my brain. (Although, I am trying to bury the whole "salute to musicals" deal...that was a bit over the top for me.

Overall, I have to say I thought this was one of the better Oscar nights in recent memory -- I especially loved the former Oscar winners paying tribute to the nominees in best actor/actress, best supporting categories.

Also there was far less of the hokey stuff this year, which I greatly appreciated.

Overall, a fabulous show.

Sean Penn was a bit of a surprise, but I was delighted that he won -- especially given the timeliness of his subject matter.

Although, was sad to see Brad Pitt missed out once again.

Is the guy just too freaking handsome to win an Oscar?

He's done some pretty good work.


Lisa, I totally agree with you on the Oscars. The opening number was appropriately low-budget, with the Slumdog set made out of aluminum foil and what looked like used paper towel rolls. For me, it's all about the gowns, and this year there were some truly lovely ones. I'm so glad Hollywood had gone back to the old glamour styles, instead of the ridiculously casual looks of the 1980s. If we didn't know that most of the gowns and jewels were donated it would be too much wretched excess. Frankly, there are so few customers for couture, I don't understand why designers would want to give their gowns to stars. You would think that these are their best paying customers.

The last time I was in NYC I spent a day going to museums by myself, and ended up having lunch at a very busy cafeteria at the Museum of Art. At the next table was a pair of older women, one of whom was advising the other on her life. Did I get an earful. Her son and daughter-in-law were outright monsters to her, if this woman was to be believed, and sadly it sounded justified. I got a whole new slant for at least a story out of the experience.

Oh for the love of Pete, give me a break!! Every time that commercial comes on I crack up, poor Granny and Grappy, their friends and family members don't seem to give a F***! They're over there in the corner with a hand cupped over their ear, begging to hear. Does Granny's friends even care that she's their ride home? Does Grappy's wife give a damn if he can make out what they're saying on his favorite program--Will you turn that down--in droning, nasally voice-- I would pay not to hear that voice. As a speech pathologist, I cringe everytime I see someone with those Ear Busters plugged into their ear, I know in a few years they'll be going to see their local audiologist. Sound amplifiers have been around for a long time and are of great value to those who are deaf or have suffered or born with severe hearing loss that can be helped with amplification--also extremely pricey--I can guarantee those won't work. So, if you have $20.00 plus shipping and handling to flush down the commode, be my guest. Me, I'd rather buy the Tarts books instead. As for Julie and Frank, be careful what you wish for, it may come true.

Oh by the way, the Oscars were GREAT! Hugh Jackman can come to my house and sing to his hearts content. He doesn't even need to bring the tuxedo, he can bring all that spandex that Wolverine wears instead, too yummy. I loved the tribute from past winners to present candidates and winners--lots of love shown there.

I put this eavesdropper commerical thing down to reality shows. Everybody is underthe impression that their neighbors have nothing better to do than whisper about them?

I think we're not hearing from Ramona today because she's--uhm--sleeping late.

My mother used to say that eavesdroppers deserve whatever they hear.

Funny blog, Lisa!! Can't say I've seen the commercial, but then I DVR everything and fast forward through commercials. I'm sure I'm missing some good stuff. Like, I held down the fast forward too long last night and missed the award for best animated film, which I really wanted to see.

I liked Hugh Dancy okay, but that thing where they have former winners make earnest speeches to the nominess before presenting the awards was absolutely cringeworthy. Not to mention that it eliminated my favorite part of the Oscars (other than the red carpet) which is seeing the film clips. Other than Slumdog and WALL-E I hadn't seen any of the nominated films, and now I won't know which ones are worth it!

I was glad Sean Penn won, though. Didn't need to see that movie to know he deserved it, and I liked his speech.

So, Michele, you can't back up a DVR when you've Fast-forwarded too far? I'm about to get one because a VCR can't change channels with the digital converter box, and I need to know these things. I may need to get an antenna up in the "attic" crawl space, too, if I want to watch PBS on a regular basis. (Dagnab new-fangled technology . . . .mutter, mutter).

Good Lord! I bought an iPod so I wouldn't have to hear the crap other people talk about. The last thing I want to do is amplify what other people natter about on the bus, the sidewalk etc.

I missed the first 25 minutes of the Oscars - sounds like I didn't miss much.

Nancy said: "I think we're not hearing from Ramona today because she's--uhm--sleeping late."

Right, that's it. Long night. *yawns*

Hugh says hi and, if his wife should ask, yes, the Vanity Fair party is an all-nighter.

Daniel says...I can't tell you what Daniel says. Mr. Typepad would combust.

My favorite part of the show was seeing Mickey Rourke wearing a pin memorializing his dog.

Ramona - I noticed that Daniel's tie was somewhat askew later after the red carpet. Really, honey, you need to pay attention to those details.

I also noticed that he barely glanced at SJP's pop-up cleavage. Obviously, he was still distracted from someone's, well, distractions.

As for Hugh Jackman - hel-loh gorgeous!

I liked the personal intros of the 4 major acting awards, but I did miss the movie clips. And to Ben Stiller - it was a sight gag, fool - the wandering during the naming of the nominees was rude and unnecessary.

And how about Sophia Loren?! 74 years old and she can still bring it!

Mary, you can absolutely back up, but I was going so fast that I simply didn't realize I'd missed the animated film category until the whole show was over and I'm going, "Hey, what happened with WALL-E??" If I'd realized, I would have backed up and watched it.

DVR is fabulous. You never have to miss a show you like. You can watch it on your own schedule. (I prefer to watch tv only right before bed -- rarely watch any other time.) And you never have to watch another commercial, or any boring parts. The Oscars were about 40 minutes long for me, and that was enough, it was perfect in fact!

Mary, yes you can go backwards on a DVR-slow, fast, double-fast, triple-fast and quadruple-fast. But if you delete the whole show before you realize you missed something, then unfortunately it's gone.

I didn't watch the awards show last night, but I'll check out the clips on hulu.com or the website of whatever station it was on. Instead I watched some short films that I downloaded for free on iTunes during the Sundance Film Festival.

Lisa, this is a really funny post. Everytime I see that commercial (which isn't much since I rarely watch TV any more), I want to howl. Especially the part where the guy is listening to the girls' assessment of him. IMO the funniest part is that the guy is a total dork.

I don't know if I'd want to hear people talk about me. I have enough self-chatter in my head about my appearance and what I do. Any extra comments would just drown out my own opinions of myself - good or bad. LOL

Have a great week all!

LOL Becky--I have the same problem, the true problem is when you start to answer that chatter back!!

Daniel looked super good last night!! Ramona, you're one lucky girl!

If those ear pieces worked I would buy one for my Mom. God love, her, she is an amazing woman, 81 years young but she is stone cold deaf in one ear and watching t.v. with her gives me a headache. She will never be able to live anywhere but her own house! Hopefully the people who might be tempted to purchase this rip-off can't hear the tv well enough to get the information. That's MY hope anyway.

OK, chiming in on the Oscars....I enjoyed the format with the past winners presenting (OMG--Sophia Loren, WOW!!!); Hugh Jackman is my new true love; I adore Anne Hathaway and she does have a talent for comedy but overall the show is TOO long. Cudos to Tina Fey and Steve Martin...we need more comedians on the show to keep us awake for the entire night! Sean Penn was a surprise and loved his speach. Guilty truth is I watch to see the gowns and jewels. I admit it.

I have to say...could I be more in love with Huge Jackson? No, I don't think I could. My goodness, what a hunk of maleness.

Oprah's after-Oscar party is on now in our area. Lots of great interviews backstage last night, and Hugh Jackman was just on. Swoon.

I can't watch the whole thing because I have to go out. Wah.

Oprah's show should be entertaining tomorrow, with the octo-nuts father on!

I love this kind of ad. It's like there's a parallel universe where everything is perfect except, OH NO! Your bra straps are always falling down! Onions make your eyes water! You're all toasty and warm and then the phone rings and you have to reach through the nasty cold air to pick it up, and LIFE IS RUINED! But wait! With this one, magic, "inexpensive" item, YOUR LIFE CAN BE PERFECT! And the narrators' voices invariably have this tone of sympathetic amusement--it's SO HARD living in a world where bra straps fall down but yet it's SO EASY to fix! It's no coincidence that so many of these things are called the "Magic" Something. They even magically multiply and grow associated appendages because WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Welcome to Happyperfectland where all the vegetables are chopped exactly the same size and the pasta practically drains itself, as opposed to that awful Clumsyhorridland populated by The People of Perpetually Slippery Fingers, the ones who can't hold a knife, cut paper, answer a phone, watch tv, trim their pet's claws, or dress themselves without courting life-threatening injury and despair. Okay, maybe they don't cure cancer, but can you doubt that in a world where bra straps stay on your shoulder AND enhance your cleavage, cancer simply doesn't exist?

Leslie, you are such fun! I want a bit of Happyperfectland for myself . . .

Must admit to having loved 95% of the A.Awards show--seeing Anne Hathaway nearly tear up while Shirley McClaine was complimenting her was worth any number of flat moments from previous shows. Hugh Jackman really showed his professional strength--focused, relaxed, no stumbling, no apologies, and dancing and singing effortlessly . . . oh, my.
The rule for things that go in your ears is: nothing smaller than your elbow! That is to say, save your $20 . . . protect your hearing/ears as much as you can. I find it amusing to see otherwise sane-looking people walking down the street talking to 'nobody', but those earpieces just don't thrill me. Then again, I've never worn hats for more than 2-3 minutes, either. Thanks, Lisa, for an engaging rant!

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