Rhinestone Ropers

Woohoo! My friend Melody made it to the top 48 on America’s Got Talent. She is one half of the Rhinestone Ropers. They are one of the 10 acts that got to go straight through to Hollywood without having to audition a second time. If you watch the show, make sure that you vote for them (if you vote, that is).

Number 12 Looks Just Like Facebook

This morning MySpace was no. 7 in the trending now on my Yahoo page. MySpace? I haven’t heard from them in forever. So, I went to read some of the articles.

The article from Fortune Magazine was titled MySpace’s doom was in its DNA. I must admit that the reason I got a computer in the first place was because of MySpace. Up until then I was a technophobic quasi-luddite. I had read WAY too many conspiracy theory books and was still in my bar codes are the mark of the beast and the internet is satan phase.

I liked MySpace because of it’s creative aspect. It’s where I learned html and how to make gifs. I got tips and tricks from people that I had friended. Later on, I was one of the people giving out the tips.

In his BusinessWeek article, Felix Gillette argues that MySpace users’ ability to tweak their profile designs was one of the site’s “first breakthroughs.” The developers had accidentally allowed users to insert HTML into their profiles, “allowing them to play around with the background colors and personalize their pages, leading to the site’s kaleidoscopic, techno-junkyard aesthetic, which became its trademark.”

For the site’s users at the time, this was a feature. For users who might otherwise have signed up, it was a bug. MySpace has almost willfully discouraged older people, smarter people, and more mainstream people from joining. Facebook, meanwhile, has kept tight control over its design, which has remained free of blinking graphics and gaudy color schemes. Your elderly aunt could join it if she wanted to. And as time went on, she did.

I was one of those people with the blinking graphics and gaudy color scheme. I would add, update, and alter my page all of the time, and yes, there were times when it looked like a cross between Las Vegas, Oompa Loompa land and a really bad acid trip… but I didn’t care. I was being creative. I was discovering new techniques and increasing my digitally artistic repoirtoire.

Some people didn’t like it. I would get comments about the flashing pictures or about how ‘busy’ my page was. At first I took umbrage. I would respond back with, “It’s called MYSPACE, not YOURSPACE. If you don’t like what’s on my page then unfriend and block me.”

People kept insisting that I ‘tone it down’, and after a while I did. I just got tired of the comments.

I still can't believe that people complained about my glowing Thomas Edison. I took me 5 days to figure out how to do that.

One day I signed up for Facebook. I had heard about it and decided to investigate. One I had signed up I spent hours trying to figure out how to change the page. I wanted to add my own flair. I tried to upload gifs and much to my chagrin the pictures just would not move.
What? Facebook doesn’t support gifs? What kind of crap is that?
No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get my Facebook page to be anything other that a big white page with nothing but text. How boring!

Once I finally admitted ‘I can’t figure out how to tweak this thing’ defeat, I quit going on Facebook. It wasn’t until I started getting friend requests from family members and old schoolmates that I started back up with it. It was still boring. I didn’t want to talk about what I did today or ask people how they were doing. I wanted to create.

The differences between MySpace and Facebook reminded me of that episode of the Twilight Zone called Number 12 Looks Just Like You.

Synopsis (from wikipedia):

Which one? You only have 2 choices. You can look like no. 8 or no.12.

In a future society, all young adults go through a process known as “the Transformation,” in which each person’s body and face are changed to mimic a physically attractive design chosen from a small selection of numbered models. The process gives everyone a beautiful appearance, slows deterioration due to age and extends a person’s lifespan, and makes the recipient immune to any kind of disease.

The motive of the Transformation is social harmony. According to Professor Sig, a psychologist with the Transformation service, “Years before, wiser men than I . . . saw that physical unattractiveness was one of the factors that made men hate, so they charged the finest scientific minds with the task of eliminating ugliness in mankind.”

"And the nicest part of all, Val, is that I look just like you"!

18-year-old Marilyn Cuberle decides not to undergo the Transformation, seeing nothing wrong with her unaltered appearance. Nobody else can understand Marilyn’s decision, and those around her are confused by her displeasure with the conformity and shallowness of contemporary life. Her “radical” beliefs were fostered by her now-deceased father, who gave Marilyn banned books and came to regret his own Transformation years earlier (we learn that he committed suicide upon the loss of his identity).

Despite continued urging from family, doctors, and her best friend, Marilyn is still adamant about refusing the operation. She insists that the leaders of society don’t care whether people are beautiful or not, they just want everyone to be the same. Her pleas about the “dignity of the individual human spirit” and how “when everyone is beautiful, no one will be” have no impact. After being driven to tears by the inability of anyone to understand how she feels, she is put through the procedure and (like all the others) is enchanted with the beautiful result.

Dr. Rex, who operated on Marilyn, comments about how some people have problems with the idea of the Transformation but that “improvements” to the procedure now guarantee a positive result, thus indicating that there may be modifications made to the mind as well. Marilyn reappears, looking and thinking exactly like her best friend Valerie. “And the nicest part of all, Val,” she gushes, “I look just like you!” The last shots are of her, admiring herself in the mirror and smiling.

I saw the episode for the first time when I was about 11 or 12. I totally related to Marilyn. I hadn’t read 1984 yet, so it was my introduction to the idea of totalitarianism and conformity.

I had experienced the comformity issue somewhat. As a kid, I had been pressured into Little League. I was no good at baseball. I was placed in right field and never caught a ball that came my way. I struck out every single time I got up to bat. I would walk up to the plate and the other players and parents in the bleachers would groan.
Why was I being made to play a game that I obviously wasn’t any good at or had no interest in?

Then there was the issue of my clothes. I wanted to wear the brightest colors. I wanted to wear the bell bottoms with the biggest flair, the hip huggers with the hippest hug, the shirt with the most psychedelic and trippy design and the widest belt available. I was told by my parents that people would think I was weird. I was also told the same thing when I acted certain ways.

When I wanted to practice twirling my sister’s baton I was confined to the basement. I had learned very quickly that doing so in the front yard would result in admonishment, strange looks and the occasional ‘sissy’ comment.

I eventually gave up the baton and turned to juggling. It was considered more appropriate and masculine. When I practiced juggling, I didn’t have to hide in the basement and people didn’t laugh or look at me funny. I remember thinking that they were both skills that involved manual dexterity and coordination, so “why should it matter which one I choose to do”?

Reading that article about MySpace this morning left me feeling sad. MySpace used to be fun. I lost interest somewhat after they changed it to be more like Facebook. Some of the HTML features were disabled. I could no longer be as creative as before.
I don’t know how much longer MySpace will last. I guess it doesn’t really matter since it is no longer the way that it was when I joined.

For me MySpace was about originality. Facebook has the look and feel of conformity. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular. Maybe everybody wants to look like Number 12.

 

Update:
When I went to the blogging section of freshly pressed, this was the title of the blog post that came right after this one.

Google Launches Google+, a Facebook Look-Alike.

It Speaks, Yet Says Nothing

Sometimes, when I go back and read some of the other posts that I’ve written I think, “Dude, you sound like a crackhead”! Such as with the post from yesterday. I guess that’s what happens when the write a post around the pictures instead of the other way around. IDK.

Today is the day that I call to see if I have jury duty tomorrow. It’s almost been two months and so far nothing. My sister’s friend, Mike, is coming in tomorrow, so more that likely when I call this morning the recording will say, “There WILL be a trial tomorrow. Please report to room blah blah at 8 am.”
In addition to calling the JD hotline, I’m also going to have to call the Bailiff afterwards and leave my new phone number.

Every Tuesday I get an email with trivia from Ken Jennings. There are 7 questions and I usually suck at them. The last question is always a list and you have to find out what the items have in common. This is the list from today:

7. What unusual distinction is shared by these historical figures? Julius Caesar, Thomas Chatterton, Cleopatra, James Cook, Lady Jane Grey, Leonardo da Vinci, Jean-Paul Marat, Montezuma, Horatio Nelson, Socrates.

I have no clue. I know that Caesar got stabbed, Cleopatra got bitten by an asp, and Marat was stabbed in the bathtub. I thing that Lady Jane Grey got her head chopped off. I’m thinking that the answer has something to do with the way that they died.
If you figure it out, let me know.

This was the final question from last week:

7. What unusual (and fairly specific) distinction is shared by all these movies? The Barefoot Contessa, The Brothers McMullen, Frankenstein (1931), Great Expectations (1946), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Night of the Living Dead, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Saving Private Ryan, Under the Volcano, Volver.

The answer is that they are all movies that begin in a cemetery. I didn’t get that one either. I had to wait until the answer came out today.

I just called and there is not a trial tomorrow.

In addition to being the smallest state west of the Mississippi, Arkansas is also the most boring. I guess nobody ever commits a crime. Either that or they all plead guilty.

Here’s a gif that someone posted on Tumblr. I thought it was cool. I think it’s Timothy Leary.

Timothy Leary was famous for this saying:

I never did any of that. I think the closest I ever came was watching a trippy Marshall McLuhan film in 9th grade Civics class. 

Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian who is known for coining the expressions The medium is the message and The global village. He also predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented.
His most widely known work is the book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.
My favorite of his media and their messages quotes is the one about television.

“It speaks, and yet says nothing”

I can agree with that. Even when I was a kid I remember thinking that television was the world’s greatest propaganda tool. People believe just about everything that they see and hear on television.

Electric Friday

The electrician came this morning to install a new ceiling fan in the living room, a new ceiling light in the kitchen, and a new ceiling light in the other bedroom. Ugh! I was kind of nervous when he was walking around in the attic. He was kind of large and I thought that he might fall through the ceiling. He didn’t. YAY!

I thought about attempting all of that myself, but I never made it past 7th grade wood shop. Electricity scares me. I still won’t get into a hot tub or jacuzzi because of that episode of Charlie’s Angels where some lady got electrocuted in a hot tub. Of course, it was rigged by the murderer, but still…

I don’t think I’m a pessimist or anything, but I always have the worst case scenerio in my head when I do stuff. Like…

It’s going to be MY plane that crashes.
It’s going to be the one box of Tylenol capsules that I buy that is laced with cyanide.
During a bank hold-up it’s going to be ME who is taken as hostage.

I hate being like that. I wish I could just get over it.

Anyway, it was kind of like that today when the electrician came. I kept thinking, “Okay, somewhere, something is going to be wrong, or messed- up, therefore preventing him from being able to accomplish the task”.

I guess that I just need to have more faith in people. IDK.

Anyway, I heard a new riddle today. I usually hate riddles, but this one cracked me up.

A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

I felt stupid because I couldn’t come up with the answer. When I heard the answer I was like, “OMG…DUH!”

Yesterday I reached the 100,000 stats mark on my other blog. I started it the same time as this one, but it gets a LOT more hits.

I guess I got lucky that I went to the stats page right after it had reached 100,000.

Also, yesterday, I ended up getting the most hits in one day. Most of the hits come from google searches. I almost hit the 2000 mark, but was a tad bit shy.

With the exception of that one day that I was featured in Freshly Pressed, I don’t come anywhere near that number on this blog. It’s usually between 50 and 80 a day.

Enough about that.

I’ve been one a diet for the last month. I already lost 2 belt loops. The pair of 38 inch waist shorts that I bought last week are also getting to be too big in the waist. I feel lighter.
I cut out all of the bad stuff. No soda. No sweets. I quite making cakes with tons of frosting.
I even started eating those yucky rice cakes.
I keep track of the calories with an app that I got for my iphone. It really helps a lot.

I’m trying to get down to the weight that I was in this picture.

That’s me in the middle. You can’t tell by looking at it, but I weighed 180. I’m 6 feet, so that’s pretty good.
That’s my brother, David, on the left. He lives in St. Louis. The guy holding the lady’s boob is my nephew, Nick. He has a doctorate in Journalism and teaches at some college in West Virginia.
One time I tried to read his dissertation, but it was WAY over my head.
Here is a sample from one of the pages.

Ummm…okay. Thanks for the info.

Hey, did you know this?

Well, I didn’t. Not until today anyway.

I don’t have any plans for tonight, but this seems to be the most logical.

Anyway, if you didn’t figure out what the answer to the riddle is, it’s the lions. Lions who haven’t eaten in 3 years are dead.

7 of the Coolest Things I Have Ever Seen

These are in no particular order.

1. Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped cantilever bridge on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area. It’s owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. To get there you have to travel about 20 miles on the bumpiest non-paved road I have ever been on.

I’m one of those people who has a fear of heights and had some reservations about walking out onto the bridge. Mainly because the floor is glass. It’s made with four layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass.

When I finally got the nerve to open my eyes and look down, it was awesome. Like some people, though, I couldn’t muster the nerve to lay on my stomach and look down.

2. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir

Le déjeuner des canotiers or "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

Renoir is one of my favorite artists and Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of my favorite paintings. When I went to Washington D.C. for my 50th birthday, I made sure that seeing it was at the top of my list of things to do. It is housed at the Phillips Collection.

I think the thing that surprised me the most about it was how big it was. You can’t really tell how big or small a painting is until you see it in person. When I walked into the room where it was housed I was amazed. I always pictured it as being much smaller.

I had studied the painting, so I knew who all of the people in it were. I tried to film it with my camcorder, but found out that was a big no-no. You could take pictures of it, but weren’t allowed to use flash photography.

Here are two of the best shots I got:

3. The House that Lincoln Died in

After Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater, he was taken across the street to the home of William Peterson. Boarder, Henry Safford, had been standing in the open doorway and gestured  for the doctors to bring the president inside.

When I saw it, aside from the guide, I was the only person in the house. It had very narrow hallways and the rooms were small. The guide stayed up front and let me walk around on my own. I kept waiting to see the ghost of Lincoln. I never did.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

This is the bed that Lincoln died on

 
4. Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever been to. I saw it for the first time when I was 13, and I’m pretty sure that it was the catalyst that sparked my interest in U.S. Presidents and presidential history.

You have to see it in person to understand how truly magnificent it is. It’s located near Keystone in South Dakota.

Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level.

5. Tommy Lee peeing next to me

Tommy Lee was the drummer for Mötley Crüe. He was also married to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. One time when I was using the men’s room in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I looked over and discovered that he was right next to me. I was like, “Hey, that’s Tommy Lee”.

I remember thinking to myself if I should look or not. I glanced down for about 2 seconds. No big deal.

I have also been in the men’s room with Sinbad and Richard Thomas, who played John Boy on The Waltons, but they weren’t peeing next to me.

That day that I glanced down at Tommy Lee’s business was the only time that I have ever broken one of the men’s public restroom rules.

6. Dizzy Gillespie playing his Trumpet

When I was 19, I went to a Jazz convention in Dallas. I was in college at the time, and played vibes in a jazz combo. During one of the recording studio seminars, they needed a vibes player, and I volunteered. Also at the seminar was Jazz Trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie. I was about 10 feet away from him as he recorded his part for the track. I was majorly starstruck.

On a semi-related side note, and NOT one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

Also, when I was 19, I went with 2 friends to see Buddy Rich in concert. We were sitting in the front row. My friend, Jack, started talking during one of the songs. Buddy Rich stopped playing and came down to the front of the stage to chew him out. I shrunk in my seat. You haven’t been chewed out until you’ve been chewed out by Buddy Rich.


7. Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

The famous Bonnie and Clyde car is a 1934 Ford Model 730 Deluxe Sedan. It’s on display
at the Primm Valley Resort and Casino, not too far from the Nevada-California border. The engine is a large eighty-five HP V8, and the transmission is manual 3 speed.

Also on display are:
* Certificate of authenticity for the Ford V8 as Bonnie and Clyde’s death car
* Original letter from Clyde Barrow to Henry Ford praising the merits of the Ford V8
* Clyde Barrow’s death shirt
* Certificate of authenticity for Clyde Barrow’s death shirt

I had originally gone to Primm to ride the Desperado, which, at the time, was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the tallest roller coaster in the world. It features a 60-degree, 225-foot drop; a 209-foot lift hill; and top speeds around 80 mph.

That first drop is really scary. The first time that I rode it, the lighter that I had in my front pocket flew out and hit some guy in the head that was in the car behind me. All pockets were supposed to be empty for that very reason. Anyway, he was fine.

It was after I had ridden the Desperado that I discovered the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car.

Of course, the are more that 7 things on my ‘coolest things I have ever seen’ list, but these are just a few in my top 50.

Those Horrible School Photos

I always hated school photos. With the exception of my first grade picture, every single one of mine has the potential to be placed next to the definition of the word “Dork” in the dictionary.

I had all kinds of potential, but somehow between the first and second grade something went horribly wrong.

First Grade

Awww, he's such a sweet child.

Second Grade

Hey Sherman, where's Mr. Peabody!?

Fifth Grade
My fifth grade photo was exceedingly horrible because:
1. My haircut made me look like a Conehead.
2. My mom let me pick out my own tie.
3. I look constipated.

NO, I am not Ernie from "My Three Sons"!!!

Seventh Grade
My 7th grade photo wasn’t too bad. At least I got rid of the conehead haircut, and kind of smiled…well, more like a smirk. But that shirt! ICK!

Ninth Grade
Okay, so what you don’t see in the photo is the big pink butterfly in the middle of the shirt.
Also, the faux sideburns are uber-hideous, the part in my hair is totally jacked up, and I have swoopy bangs.
At least I’m smiling.
Barry Goldwater glasses must have been in style that year. IDK.

Twelfth Grade
My Senior picture is one of the most awful things ever recorded on film. Believe it or not, I had actually lost my virginity by the time this picture was taken.
The hair is just super whack. You can’t tell from the black and white film, but both the jacket and tie are green.

I am placing the following photos into the post in hopes that one of those school pictures doesn’t show up (fingers crossed) as the featured picture when the post comes up on Freshly Pressed. That would just be so appalling.