Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday, Friday

The inane lyrics of what I presume is the chorus of the now played-out pop culture meme known as Rebecca Black's "Friday"—namely, "Friday, Friday / Getting' down on Friday / Everybody's looking forward to the weekend"—do reveal a particularly adept assessment of life in that early teens period. At that age, one need not start to anticipate the weekend until the Friday immediately preceding it.

By adulthood we are looking forward to the next weekend before the current weekend is over.


And if we have a buttload of laundry and a bunch of housework to do, we may not be looking forward to the weekend all that much.


By middle age our aspirations for "getting down on Friday" are probably the literal act of assuming a reclined position so we can get some sleep.


"Partying, partying [Yawn]"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paying for the news

The New York Times has made another stab at putting online content behind a paywall, striving to be the one to start the push back toward people paying for the same journalism that they were willing to pay for in the days when we got stained fingers from the newsprint. Of course, the only reason that people nowadays lack the association of paying for online content is because there's so much of it available for free, and perhaps because years ago these sources of professional content underestimated the role the internet would come to play in our daily lives and started giving it away, figuring it was merely a way to promote their paper editions.

While there's always going to be those who will find the ways around a paywall, just as there's those who still download music illegally, there will eventually come a time when paying for quality journalism online will be as simple as it is to download music through legal sites such as iTunes, and it will become standard for people to pay to get at content. (We all adopted the cable TV model, where we simply accept the need to pay monthly to get our channels, rather than getting a free signal through antennae.) And there will then grow up a generation who will be baffled at the notion of getting someone's hard work for free.

Or journalism will have run out of money and we'll get the news through amateur videos on YouTube.

That's a likely possibility as well.

I guess we'll see in due time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Politics exploding in our faces

The military intervention in Libya and how it seems to undermine the idealism that the President offered in the 2008 campaign ultimately shows the underlying issue with politics: It's still full of politicians.

I honestly don't know were I in that position (and there's a reason that I do not go into politics) whether I would have deployed the U.S. military might in what is a civil war, and anyone who claims it would be a simple decision is fooling himself, but it does seem like the present mistake is that two and a half years ago Obama made many people think that he was not a politician, too.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rockin' the Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is a very pleasant place to hear music performed. The amphitheater dug into the side of a hill has areas for picnicking, and, on a clear night, a nice view. The last several performances of classical music we've seen have been at that venue.

Recently I saw a listing for an upcoming show scheduled for the Bowl: Poison and Motley Crue (with openers the New York Dolls). Yes, those glam metal bands who were popular in the '80s are co-headlining at the same place where the L.A. Philharmonic holds their summer concerts.

Is this denigrating for the Bowl? No. They've held concerts with rock bands before.

Is this denigrating to the fans of the bands? No. It's merely admitting that those who were apt to frequent the Rainbow Room or the Whiskey 25 years ago are now more inclined to sip a nice bottle of pinot than down shots, which they should already know.

Is this denigrating to the kids of today, listening to what is considered the hardcore music of the day? Yes, because they don't realize that in a few decades they'll be sipping chardonnay and paying through the nose to recapture the period they're experiencing now.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The danger of the sendentary lifestyle

A couple weeks ago I got a call during the day from a friend noting that he had an extra ticket for a panel discussion on the brilliant TV series Community (as part of PaleyFest), but that's not what this post is about. It's about the experience of being there and what happened thereafter.

So I met up with he and another friend after work and we headed to the theater where the event was. We got seats after the lights had gone down, and the only place we found three together we in the very last row of the balcony.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


On the topic the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and specifically of Mitt Romney having a reputation of shifting his positions to suit the audience (which all politicians must do, but for him it's a liability because what he's saying now seems merely to comply with current Republican views), a panelist on this political podcast quipped this was seen by many as "a deeper character flaw than merely the character flaw that allows you to be in politics."

It is something I've long believed: There must be something wrong with your personality to want to be in a position of power or authority.

Not that we don't all have something wrong with us, and not that we don't need some people to step up and be in charge, but that still doesn't alleviate the situation of our leaders being flawed and that flaw being why we allow them to be our leaders.

And what that says about the flaws of the rest of us is probably obvious.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reason #5 to avoid Spike TV, which shows the Star Wars franchise almost on a loop

Watching the Endor battle scenes of Return of the Jedi, where the stormtroopers are trumped by the ewoks, still tests my ability to suspend disbelief even after all these years.

Really, one should just skip every forest sequence and stick to the space dogfights (including the part where Admiral Akbar says "It's a trap!")—unless, of course, one has made a drinking game out of watching the stormtroopers (replete with their armor and blasters) flail each time the little costumed actors put them down with nothing but rocks and sticks.

Friends don't let friends Endor and drive.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A modest open letter to Social Media

Hi Social Media. I know we haven't had the best relationship. I never knew about Friendster until MySpace had replaced it, and even MySpace held no interest for me. (Back when I was in a band there was no such online outlet for us to promote ourselves, but any realistic appraisal of how we were would conclude it's very much for the best that we didn't have MySpace around.) Even after my wife and a number of others I knew joined Facebook I resisted—and I have fully admitted that by the time I gave in and signed up it was mostly just to get them to stop hounding me. With Twitter (now 5 years old) I'd dismissed it for the longest time and only signed up late last year, and my tweets have been very intermittent much of the time.

But I have kept at it (I log in to Facebook more often than most of the people I appeased when I joined) and have even garnered one bona fide follower on Twitter.

Anyway, Social Media, I need to apologize to you. Last week I went to an event where semi-famous people were assembled and I simply sat there and paid attention to what was going on, without tweeting a single thought, without snapping a photo to upload to Facebook, and even later on I didn't blog about it. I concede that by contemporary standards this lack of acknowledgment on any or all of your various outlets makes it as though I wasn't really there, that I did not enjoy it as much as I perceived I did while I was experiencing it, and that in your eyes I have brought disgrace upon myself and upon the entire network of people with smart phones/tablets/laptops with wireless cards.

I do hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I fully understand why you do not devote much of your valuable but limited attention span on me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Over at the photo site I have posted shots of tonight's perigee full moon (or "supermoon" as some called it). Although it was partially obscured by clouds here in Southern California, but that didn't stop me from getting some shots (and even more amazingly, I processed and posted them within hours of shooting them). Below are a couple to try to prompt you to click on over and check out the rest.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And his hair was perfect

This afternoon I walked past a Mexican restaurant with (not surprisingly) some semi-St. Patrick's Day festivities out on its patio. It wasn't that impressive, but there was a live DJ.

As I approached I heard the piano riff from Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London":

Now, while I didn't necessarily see the Irish connection, that was quickly supplanted by matters of greater importance and concern: That riff might not actually be the original song (above) but the crappy Kid Rock song "All Summer Long" which samples it.

When seconds later the I heard the late Mr. Zevon's voice singing the lyrics to his song, I breathed a sigh of relief, and chalked it up to the luck of the Irish.

Okay, no, that was a cheesy attempt at a pithy wrap-up to this post. But I was legitimately more happy to not hear Kid Rock than I expected I would be--and I'm usually pretty happy not to hear Kid Rock.

(And it's not like St. Patrick's Day in America has much to do with the patron saint of the Emerald Isle when you do even the slightest bit of research.)

Ha-oooh. Erin go bragh. Ha-oooh.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A thought of your own

The level to which something is important to you should not be dependent on how important it is to others.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A taxing job

With a month until April 15, tax preparers with storefronts pull out gimmicks to try to draw business. For example, on a street corner the train passes each day a person in a Statue of Liberty costume waves a sign to promote the service in the adjacent strip mall.

I'm not sure what specific association the costume is supposed to elicit regarding paying taxes—perhaps it's supposed t suggest liberty from having to figure out your own taxes—but that's how the owner has decided to go. It may be merely that it's a leftover Halloween costume that was readily available; I can't imagine, given the location, the store has a big costume budget.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lisp-ening to This American Life

Sometimes when I listen to This American Life and hear a writer tell his or her own story I think, I wish I had an anecdote that has both light humor and subtle profundity to tell.

However, then I realize that even if I did I couldn't get on the program; my voice, while certainly not one that would be considered good for radio, does not include even a hint of a lisp, and from what I can tell when it comes to writers telling their own stories the lack of a lisp is a deal breaker.

Ba-dump-chik. Sort of.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The other day I walked into the break room at work in the late afternoon and saw this:
And I pulled out my phone to capture what I'm sure the people at Sprite will want to use for their next ad campaign.

I'll even submit this tag line: Lemon-lime flavor that's thick enough to eat with a fork.

You're welcome.

(I shouldn't be giving this away for free, I know.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where Charlie messed up

I heard a theory regarding Charlie Sheen suggesting that part of why he was able to be tolerated and (on some level) embraced by the public despite repeated allegations of abusing women, going back decades, was because that was ultimately not completely out of character with his bad boy image. He played a womanizer on TV and that was popular presumably in part because people figured it was not unlike who he really was.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Speaking of social networking, in way more than 140 characters

The term "twit" means "to taunt or ridicule" (as a verb) or "a fool" (as a noun). That's from the dictionary. That's worth bearing in mind when one thinks of Twitter; the name suggests it's fools mocking things (or each other), and while in the realm of the internet that's hardly unique to tweets, there is the implication that Twitter's initial raison d'etre was to allow for foolish quips. That's not to say it cannot be used for more significant purposes, as it's apparent role in the recent "jasmine revolutions" in the Middle East and northern African nations have suggested, but it's probably best not to expect anything more of it.

Last week I was on a website (which seems marvelously old school compared to these social networking sites that seem more apt for smart phone apps) where there was a window to show a stream of tweets on the topic at hand (the Oscars, of course), and below the post in the comments someone remarked on this and noted how this showcased his complaint about Twitter: it's a bunch of voices crying out into the void, without eliciting a conversation.

Which, as I've said above, is not what one should expect of it.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Parents role with pop culture

On the Pop Culture Happy Hour this week the panel discussed what pop culture items they would share with children, and they hit on many wonderful things—much of which come from the time of my childhood (The Muppet Show, Schoolhouse Rocks). And while that all brought up great ideas for what I'd want to expose our eventual children to, there's still that extent to which I worry will become the stuff against which they'll rebel when they get to their teen years (in other words, the Patton Oswalt concern). Eh, but maybe there's no avoiding them getting caught up in whoever is the David Cassidy/New Kids On the Block/Justin Bieber of the day when they hit that age.

That may be a rite of passage even. Not that it was for me, but if we have daughters then I won't be the best comparison point.


I don't actually remember my parents attempting to influence the tastes of my sister and me when we were young (but then, I don't recall much of the years when our parents were actually still together). Even merely what they preferred for themselves that we would have heard or seen by proximity seems to have had, at best, a coincidental impact on the tastes of what I ended up preferring.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Huckabee doesn't know what he's talking about

Fox News contributor/presumptive presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appeared on Mike Medved's talk radio show last week to promote his new book. When the host brought up the topic of the Oscars--because what else would they talk about?--and the former governor noted having not watched the telecast, Medved steered the conversation into a criticism of Natalie Portman's pregnancy:
"...She got up, she was very visibly pregnant, and it's really it's a problem because she's about seven months pregnant...and she and the baby's father aren't married, and before two billion people, Natalie Portman says, 'Oh I want to thank my love and he's given me the most wonderful gift.' He didn't give her the most wonderful gift, which would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic."
To which Huckabee responded:
"...One of the things that's troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine.' But there aren't really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. ...Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock."
That comment led to a backlash against Huckabee, with some characterizing that as an attack against Portman. However, looking at the quote above, clearly it wasn't an attack (as he himself has stated in response to that backlash).

That's not to say that he isn't deserving of some criticism.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

More music mental meandering

When we look back and think the bands from decades past were so much better than today, does that not beg the question: Did people who were in their 30's and 40's twenty or thirty years ago, listening to the music of the day, think that the music from twenty or thirty years prior to that (so, forty to sixty years ago now) was so much better?

Is the period of what was better than now always a moving window that progresses as time goes on?


Will someday what passes for contemporary punk, metal, rock, etc., prove to seem pretty awesome (in two or three decades)?

(If you're in your teens or 20's now, please read this again in another decade or two.)


"Tomorrow, remember yesterday"
- "Nostalgia", The Chameleons (1985)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Fitting in with your music tastes

Television tends to be too populist to draw a specific picture of who the typical audience member is. Obviously the networks rely on the demographic data supplied by Nielsen to indicate who is watching, but with the ubiquity of TVs in homes it's not like one could make a general statement about all the audience members other than to say they're the people who put the show on (either live or later after having recorded it). There are exceptions to this rule, certainly, as certain shows have had a theme or sensibility that suggests their audience members find appealing. However, whether a show seems to appeal to eggheads or meatheads doesn't exclude it from appealing to people who may happen to enjoy eating Doritos chips. And that is what advertisers want to know; what you got on your SATs is less relevant than how much disposable income you are likely to have.

When it comes to music, which would seem to have the same general saturation as TV, it seems like by relative standards it's much more of a niche market for any given band or even genre. TV has diversity of content, of course, but the music industry has variety that TV could not hope to touch. With the online distribution methods it's also easier to get music out to even a modest fan base without the overhead that even relatively inexpensive TV programming requires. Thus, it can be more possible to suggest that the fans of a given artist do tend to share more traits than would a typical TV audience, simply because it's easier for that artist's audience to be a smaller, more relatively homogenous group. Even expanding it out to the analogous distribution method for music—radio stations—they tend to focus on a particular genre (hip hop, classic rock, country, jazz, classical, etc.) rather than having the diversity of programming that any TV network would have.

So, if the fans of a given artist tend to be people who exhibit attitudes or behaviors that you do not agree with, would you be less inclined to like the music of that artist, even if on its own merits you do find it appealing? Or at least would you be less likely to admit that you like it?