Friday, January 22, 2010

AT&T is letting something go to waste

AT&T and Verizon have been waging advertising war in their commercials lately, with Verizon touting their coverage area and AT&T retorting with Luke Wilson.

In this latest AT&T spot Luke starts off with the line: "Whether you use AT&T or Verizon, chances are at the end of the month you're gonna have some unused minutes laying around..." and then goes on to highlight that company's "rollover minutes" benefit, where those minutes are not wasted.

Watching that, do I find myself inclined to switch to AT&T? No.

Is it that I don't care about keeping unused minutes? No. Is it that I find Verizon's coverage to suit my needs? Eh, haven't really had to push it.

So is it that Verizon is really that much better? Maybe, maybe not, but I do know this: I don't feel any need to sign up with a company who puts presumably millions into getting a celebrity for a series of ads and can't even freakin' hire someone who paid enough attention in high school English class to know that the unused minutes would be LYING around, not laying around.

Clearly they are trying to market their cell phone plans to people who don't know the correct term, so I must conclude they don't want my business. As such, they shall not get it.

If only their copywriters could harness those unused brain cells...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Celebrating the achievements of other Dougs in the world

Roxxxy the Sex Robot, created by Douglas Hines. Here's the lowdown from a recent episode of the Colbert Report:
The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Roxxxy the Sex Robot

Colbert Report Full Episodes
Political Humor

Clearly some Dougs are way more motivated than I am.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guessing the Globes

Despite not having seen hardly any of the films nominated for the Golden Globes my wife and I still played our game of trying to guess the winners (see this post from last year about this same activity done for the Oscars) during last night's telecast. And out of the 25 categories I successfully anticipated the way the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voters would go in 13 of them.

The secret to getting over 50% correct? Gut feelings, along with having glanced at an article in Entertainment Weekly and one year-end list in L.A. Weekly.

Kind of makes me wonder why people bother to actually see the movies.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

There's no running away from the song in my head

In this recent post I discussed my brain's proclivity for having random songs pop in to my mind. (Go ahead. Read that one first if you haven't already. I'll wait. Done? Okay.)

Two morning's after the one mentioned in that post my mind gave me another such tune: Bon Jovi's "Runaway."

(Yeah, we'll touch on the specific track at the end of this post.)

So what pattern is emerging? The previous post noted Nirvana's "Love Buzz" (1989) as my brain's song du jour, and as "Runaway" came out in 1981 it appears songs that were released during these past two decades are too recent for my mind to have entered them in to those crevices from which these music moments emerge.

(As further proof I must mention that during the night after the "Runaway" incident, as I brushed my teeth, my brain commenced with Felony's 1983 new wave hit "The Fanatic".)


Perhaps there is something about the chemical development of the brain that makes the experiences of a particular age range more indelible. When really young the brain isn't developed enough for those memories to stick as well, and after a certain age the brain probably deteriorates to some extent. It's not that the brain cannot still think and reason, but the capacity to integrate memories diminishes.

Let's get something else about this acknowledged: When it comes to remembering music there's almost certainly a part of the equation that comes from the state of one's life emotionally; in one's teens and twenties one's emotional development probably makes the importance of the songs one hears then carry more weight regarding what gets stored in those crevices of the brain than what one hears in one's thirties and later. It's not that one cannot hear new songs and like them very much, not that one doesn't consciously know those songs just as well as the ones from earlier days, but the unconscious organization in the grey matter is not putting those songs on this out-of-nowhere playlist. Sure, a song that was recently heard can linger in the short term memory easily, but that's not the brain pulling it up from the depths; it's merely parroting what's on the surface.

Enough vague generalization. This started with what happens in my mind, and that's all I can pretend to know.

Was music more important in my life priorities when I was younger? Of course. How I feel about it now is not even close. It's not that I don't consider it somewhat important; it's still something to which I devote a reasonable percentage of my free time; I still acquire new music for the collection, but I don't follow the press, don't debate it, don't feel compelled to try to turn others on to what I like, nor do I spend time analyzing it and arranging it in year-end (or decade-end) lists. Seeing the bands perform live is not as urgent (in fact, I don't think I attended a single concert all of last year, although the wedding—both getting ready for it, and then later paying it off—played a role in that).

In short, it's not that I don't actively enjoy music still; it's that I merely enjoy it, without being as passionate about it. I'm not saying it's better that I'm not as obsessed with it (and on some level I lament that I don't still have that relationship with music... insert wistful sigh here).

And that, I proffer, makes it less likely for the songs from this era of my life to worm their way into those recesses of the brain from which the unconsciousness will pull out something for the personal soundtrack in moments when there's no other distractions.

Of course, it's possible that no one else in the world experiences this. Perhaps others' minds don't have an inclination toward having something "playing" in them when they're standing in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing their teeth or combing their hair; it's possible their brains just think about whatever they're apt to think (or not think at all). Or maybe they keep some source of sound—the radio, the TV, an iPod, something—going during all waking hours so their brains have some other focus, music-wise, and never encounter this scenario.

Some people cannot quiet the voices in their head; I can't stop the music.


Okay, now about the whole fact that it was "Runaway":

The mildly discouraging aspect of the morning's particular selection is that it wasn't even culled from tracks that I owned at one time. It's not that I hated the songs of the boys from New Jersey; I merely wasn't that into them. I heard them on the radio, but not because I sought out their tracks; it was nothing more than exposure due to occasionally regarding what was happening on the pop charts.

I vaguely recall coming across the video for "Runaway" on VH1 Classic while flipping around channels one night (under the somewhat specious auspices of a block they call "Metal Mania"; I suppose they were "metal" in some interpretation of that genre) many months back. That undoubtedly planted the seed that, in this manner of speaking, came to fruition earlier today. However, it doesn't explain why such was the fruit it bore on this particular day.

It's a decent enough song, sure, and not one where if it came on the radio I'd jump to change the station or anything. Still, the other noted track (Nirvana's cover of "Love Buzz") was at least one that I do have in the library, one that I actively liked and one which held a more significant role in my relationship with music.

I suppose such is the danger of having years of my life with the radio on. Riding in the car, while doing homework, and certainly as the background while working. Thanks to the radio I know the words to songs I don't even like much, only because I heard them over and over. So technically the random song pulled from the depths could have been something much worse.

That's not really making me feel better about what songs my brain will whip out in the future.

Well, whatever the unconscious throws on the turntable inside my cranium, it seems the one predictable aspect of its selection is this: It won't be something I only got into during the first decade of this century; that stuff simply came to the party too late.


Aren't you glad I shared? Now tell me what your brain does to you. Click the link below and fess up.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Just ain't the way it seems (can you recall my Love Buzz?)

I've written before of songs inexplicably popping in to my head (in this post it was "Arthur's Theme") in moments when it's quiet. It's not having annoyingly ubiquitous songs that I've heard recently (sometimes called "earworm") get stuck in there but ones springing from the depths of my unconsciousness. It's simply what my brain does sometimes. I've come to accept it, and now to be intrigued by what the mind will pull out.


One morning this past week the song that ran through my mind for no discernible reason while I was getting ready (i.e., one that I had not recently heard or had cause to think of): "Love Buzz" (the Nirvana cover of a Shocking Blue song).

What of that?


The change of the calendar puts the album on which Nirvana included "Love Buzz"—1989's Bleach— completely over 20 years old.

A child born the same day that Bleach was released (not that it was a milestone at the time, but sticking with the point of reference my sub-conscious chose for me) will this year be old enough to join me in a bar by the middle of the year. (If I still went to bars, that is.)

It was bound to happen (assuming I lived that long) that the world would reach the twenty-first anniversary of that album's debut but it's something that seems remarkable, even though it's remarkable only in how ordinary it is. Every marker for a particular time will eventually be twenty-one years gone. In the first week of 2031 the days we're experiencing now will be two decades and a year in the past. Somehow I doubt that those days that precede my 63rd birthday will strike me the same way if some random song that came out (or, by our current frame of reference, will come out) in 2010 pops in to my head.

I was about to ponder if this is the sort of reaction that someone who remembered the first wave of Beatlemania in 1963 felt when 1984 came around, but the parallel would only exist if that person were in his/her early twenties (give or take) in those first years of the '60s, and thus to be in his/her forties when L.A. hosted the Olympics and Reagan got re elected. (Of course, 1984 would not be as apt to inspire reflection as would the beginning of what is considered a new decade, but perhaps this hypothetical person was also a fan of George Orwell and would take that year as a time to ponder the passage of time, as I'm more or less doing now.)

It's not merely the passage of any period of twenty-one years; it's the passage of those twenty-one years from more or less one's twenty-first year until the twenty-first anniversary of that year.

In 2000 a song from my adolescence would not have elicited some reflection on the twenty or so years that had elapsed. No, it requires the perspective of taking those first steps in to adulthood, and then looking back at those from the first steps into middle age. (I'm not suggesting I feel like I'm on the precipice of middle age, but what other aging milestone term is there?) The forties are an age where one doesn't feel that old but the first decade of one's life where one can look back 20 years and see events that transpired while one was, technically, an adult.

We'll get in to that a bit more in another post. (Yeah. Something for you to look forward to.)


That I focus on the legal drinking age in the U.S. as my benchmark I cannot entirely explain. It's not as though alcohol has ever played a significant role in my life. Maybe it's more the implication about being able to walk in to a bar or a liquor store—without a fake I.D.—that connotes some significance, some tiny level of genuine maturity. (I know when I was 21 I was still pretty much an idiot, but I was far less of an idiot than I was at 18.) Maybe it's more a matter of hitting 21 being that point where one finally gains the full benefits (to the extent that being able to buy booze is a boon to anyone) of adulthood. (No, getting a discount on one's car insurance at 25—assuming one started driving at 16—is not worthy of being a milestone.) 21 is young, but somehow more than being a year older than being 20.

In any case, it's almost certainly this change: Over these past few years when I've met people who were in their early twenties—who were old enough to purchase a drink—and I did the math in my mind I would have that moment where I thought, When you were born I was I was still in high school, or, When you were born I was in my early college years, and now it will be, When you were born I was already getting in to this bar, and now here you are standing next to me ordering a beer, too.

People older than me are undoubtedly looking at that with a tiny bit of condescension, thinking, Guess what, Doug, you're old, and I would note that in my mind I've been old; this is merely a different phase of old.


The beauty of aging is that it sneaks up on you. Some might consider that a detriment, but the wonderful aspect of 21 years elapsing on you is that the daily routine kept you distracted from noticing it happening. Otherwise you'd never have an old song pop into your head  (that in your mind you still considered to be a newish song) and have a nostalgic rumination on how those intervening years have gone, and how glad you are that you're not still an idiotic 21-year-old, but take comfort that you still remember that song like you were.


Have a thought on this? Notice the link below for sharing. It might get that song out of your head.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Over at the photo site

What's been going on over at the photo site?

Well, there's some shots of the Thurston Lava Tube over in Volcanoes National Park (yep, more Hawai'i photos).

And then it shifts to Texas, specifically San Antonio, and the area near Eisenhower Park in that fine city.

And some silhouetted shots involving trees and the moon.

And then back in California, there's some shots of the first sunset in 2010.

And for those who aren't sick of the holidays, there's a bunch of shots of our Xmas decorations.

So if you have a little time for lookin' at pictures, click on over.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Love wars

During last night's first airing of The Daily Show there was a commercial break that featured back-to-back ads for dating websites eHarmony and (with no intervening spots).

I started to wonder:  As a married person am I supposed to be watching?  Are the advertisers trying to tell me something about into which demographic I should now fall?

But then the next commercial (for a car rental agency) had loud-mouthed former tennis star John McEnroe espousing both his famous utterance and my feelings on the prior two ads:  "You cannot be serious!"


This is why one should DVR everything and fast-forward through commercials.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Say cheesed

At events where a large group congregated (such as, for example, recent holiday parties) and those people assembled for a group photo, it's pretty much a given that a number of digital cameras will be proffered to the person(s) offering to take the picture, with the plea to "take one with my camera, too." If there are more than, say, five such cameras to be used (possibly fewer, depending on the patience of the group), it's almost certain that someone in the group will utter the sentence, "Come on, that's enough; those pictures can be emailed to the rest of us," and the assembled crowd will disband.

In that scenario, two things are almost certainly true:

1. The person who declared the number taken had been "enough" was not someone who did not get a picture on his or her camera; either the person did not had a camera, or the one offered had already gotten a photo taken with it.

2. In none of the photos that were taken will there be a single one where everybody in the shot is looking at the lens, with no one blinking or making a face that is less than ideal.

There is no herding large numbers of regular humans for the purpose of photography.