Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And in other news...

... a Starbuck's is closing. The cause of death was said to be a combination of the consumption of shitty coffee and an exploding head. (Ht: Lefsetz)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sick Day

I've been in the bed all day with a bug or imagined disorder related to one of the following causes: fatigue, strep throat, football withdrawal, Epstein-Barr Virus, Amazing Race withdrawal, the common cold, LOST anticipation, or avian flu. I'm not really sure, but I think it's probably a combination of all of the above.

Regardless of the cause of my incapacitation, it has left me with a lot of time to think. And that's not always a great idea...

• I have been enjoying a late bit of productivity in the songwriting department. Over the last year or so, I got into the bad habit of waiting to have a new idea before I wrote. Having finished the book to which I referred recently, I sat after the beginning of the year and began to focus more intently on my work. After several small victories, I realized once again that, by not writing every day, I rob myself of the benefit of my accidents. The results of my newfound productivity have made me smile.

• When I moved back to Athens in August, I decided that I was going to enjoy myself as much as possible while I was here. Because of this, I was paying very little attention to what I was eating, confident that I would be able to get back on track at a not-too-distant yet unspecified point in the future. After college football season ended, Meghan and I made a flexible pact to exercise and watch what we eat during the week, in exchange for looser guidelines on weekends.

Naturally, I have gained weight as a result. I have begun to notice that my old pants don't fit like they used to, and had considered buying new ones. Just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, I decided to weigh myself (which I don't do very often). I volunteered to Meghan that, if I weighed as much as a weight rhyming with schmoo-hundred-and-fifteen pounds, then I would immediately join a gym.

I stepped on the scale, and holy crap there was no way it said what it did. But it sure looked like it did. I was shocked.

I checked it again later, and realized that I had read it as being ten pounds more that it actually was. Nevertheless, it is still about fifteen pounds more than I feel is acceptable for me. Looks like I have some work to do.

• I did attend Geee-em-ee-YAY once again this year. It was, however, the shortest visit I have ever made to the conference. I left Athens at abut 6:30 on Friday morning, and was back by 4:30 on Saturday afternoon. I got lots done, and got just a little bit of time with friends. I did, however, get a very good book recommendation from a friend.

• I finally have pics of synchronized swimming. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Synchro de "Oh, My!"

Meghan, her father, and I went to a synchronized swimming meet today. Not in a million years did I ever think I would do this but I did.

Meghan's cousin is a member of the team that was coming to town to compete with Georgia's team (which is a club team). If the recap would have made the paper, the headline would have been something stupid like "Synchron-Ass-Kicking." Here's their version of the story.

It's totally boring to watch on television. And I don't suspect that you will find me becoming a season ticket holder. But it's definitely a much more demanding activity than it is often credited for being. And watching someone who knew what they were doing was more impressive than I thought it would be.

Still, during the weaker performances (all of which were by our club team) I couldn't help being reminded of this video.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Here's a short article in The Tennessean about the songwriting workshop I have mentioned here before. Sounds about right... ish.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How likely are you to vote in an online poll?
Very likely
Somewhat likely
Not very likely
Not at all likely free polls

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Death of The Cool

If you're interested in the music business, you should read Bob Lefsetz. He is loud and keenly aware of the ineptitude of the major music labels. I don't know if anyone who matters is paying attention, but I hope someone is.

In one of his recent offerings
, Bob compares the sales of the top ten albums of 2000 with the sales of the top ten of 2007. After showing (among other things) the disproportionately high drop in sales of the top albums versus the drop in total sales, he makes, and then develops, the following point:

People still want music. In prodigious amounts. They just don’t all want the same thing.

I find something marginally frightening and very interesting in the numbers and the conclusion he draws. I agree with him, and anyone who is paying attention knows that this isn't just happening in music.

Here is a list of the 100 top-grossing films of all time based on their box office gross and adjusted for inflation. You have to get all the way down to #19 before you hit a film (Star Wars: Episode I) that was released in the last ten years, and that was part of a franchise that is thirty years old. The next one? Shrek 2 at #29. A kids' movie! Next? Spider-man, based on a character that was created forty-five years ago. The reception of original material at the box office in the last ten years hasn't been nearly what it was before that time.

You can argue that that's a skewed way of looking at things. For a couple of bucks, you can get a crystal clear version of your favorite movie without moving your butt off the couch. So one would naturally think that people aren't going to the movies. But box office receipts reportedly have continued to trend up and outpace inflation for quite some time. People are going to the movies. They're just not going to the same movies as everyone on their block.

If you consider the changes over the last ten years in how we receive information, this should come as no surprise. I'm not telling you anything you don't know when I remind you that, ten years ago, you couldn't sneeze without finding a channel that played music videos. Flip channels for the next twenty-four hours and see if you can find an entire music video. If you were an Atlantan ten years ago, you listened to one of eight or nine major FM stations or a CD player when you were looking for music. Between the possibility of satellite radio (over 70 music channels on XM) and your iPod, your choices are far more numerous and customizable then they were back when. If you happen to hear a (or should I say "the") song by Starland Vocal Band on your radio, you can find similar material and own it virtually effortlessly, virtually immediately, from virtually anywhere. If you were bored in 1998, you may have rented a movie, or watched a VHS you owned. If you don't like anything on television this week, why not rent an entire season of an interesting series you have missed in the past? As of today, you will be able to do that from the comfort of your couch (which, if you're like me, is a couch that you did own ten years ago). Or you could, of course, watch any of the material you may have recorded with the touch of a button in perfect quality on your DVR on any of your 100-or-so television channels.

The point is not so much to be amazed at how much technology has changed as it is to realize how many more choices we have about the content we absorb.

Furthermore, there is a very good chance that you spend much more of your day isolated than you did ten years ago. I don't have the numbers to prove it, but I know that the number of phone conversations I have is a fraction of what it was ten years ago because of the ability to communicate by email, web site, IM, or text message. I know that I am much more likely to bury myself in my iPod on an air travel day than I would have been to haul around a significant portion of my CD collection. And long gone are many of the accidental conversations, the small talk, the word of mouth, and the shared impressions of our common experiences. I will listen to my Steely Dan and scarcely notice you and your Shins, Imogen Heap, Kenny Chesney, or Soulja Boy.

How many of this week's Top 10 singles do you know? My money says less than three for anyone who reads this, simply because no one is telling you what is cool.

We are as isolated from each other and as free to choose what content we absorb than at any time since the rise of the cities. Because of this, we share fewer common influences than at any time in memory. Ubiquity in media rides off into the sunset. For most everyone except the lonely middle-schooler trying to get some attention, "Cool" is dead.

So, what does all of this mean? I don't know. You can read Bob for some opinions. Or your can read Alvin Toffler, who said he saw this coming. I think the bottom line is that we live in a time in which I can more or less do my thing, and you can do yours. Hopefully, that's good enough for the people calling the shots.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Week In Reverse, some commercial music, and a quote

• Meghan and I saw Charlie Wilson's War this evening. I thought it was quite good, and thought-provoking in an all too familiar way. Having seen it, I am an even bigger fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman than I was before.

• At the beginning of the film, the trailer for Cloverfield appeared. This is one of those films that I don't think I would watch at home, but that I would watch at a theater. I am betting that I will be seeing it alone.

• Last night, Meghan and I made our way to the Stegosaurus for Georgia's basketball victory over Georgia Tech. This is the first time I have been to a men's basketball game since I worked at the university ending in 2005. Little has changed.

Meghan frequently accuses me of approaching the camera poorly. Pot. Kettle. Black.

The Hoop Dawgs had a good night in a season that has been better so far than prior ones, but not quite what many had been hoping for. I often wonder if we'll ever have another great season.

Remember '95-'97? "The Tub?" Taking out the 8 and 1-seeds in the NCAA tournament, just before losing (in double overtime) a game we should have won in Denver? Playing in the final game of the conference tournament? I miss looking forward to almost every night at the coliseum, and I hope days like that return.

• On Tuesday, we finally saw Jesus Camp. It was extremely interesting. It was particularly interesting in light of activities that took place over the weekend (which I may discuss at a later date).

• Monday was obviously the B(C)S title game. I had a great time watching the game, but whatever. I'll bet Fox isn't just real thrilled, considering this.

• Many of you know that there are some instances of commercial music that simultaneously freak me out and attract me. I have found yet another example, which happens to be minimalist (or just repetitive) and the longest commercial in history.

It also contains some really encouraging information. < /sarcasm>

• I have been reading Jimmy Webb's book Tunesmith. It's been a fantastic read, and has me excited again about my druther occupation after a period of time when I had asked myself whether or not it was worth it. Nearing the end of the book, my favorite passage is in reference to an advertising agency, and follows:

Their creative staff (fine arts executives) will come up with the "pitch," the storyboards, "lyrics" (they insist on calling them "copy") and a handful of musical concepts. These are the guys who can get tears in their eyes telling you about a new name they have come up with for a douche.
- from Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb. © 1998, Jimmy Webb

Saturday, January 05, 2008

New year, same old damn bullets

• School begins for Meghan this coming Monday. This would mark the official end of the holiday season, and that bums me.

• Speaking of the end of the holidays, I went to Cumming Forsyth County yesterday to help Mom and Dad remove and store the Christmas decorations. For those of you who have never been to my parents' house, you should know that Christmas items are to their home during the holidays as cuss words are to a federal prison. It took a little over five hours to get everything down and packed away.

That is, by far, the most depressing thing about the holidays - putting Christmas in a box, and putting that box in the basement.

• In more positive news, Georgia is slated to play Georgia Tech in basketball in Athens this Wednesday. Officials are hopeful that there will still be five eligible players enrolled at the university at tip-off.

• I was in line at a fast food restaurant this afternoon. The gentleman who was delivering the food through the second window had a large visible tattoo on his bag hand. And that, to me, was just strange. In my mind, I imagine people who get tattoos as very proud individuals. To plunge in stature from one worthy of tattoos to fast food employee seems like a significant fall to me. I don't know. Whatever.

• It seems like I have to trim my fingernails every other day. The frequency has begun to bug me so much that, after realizing today that it was time once again, I whined audibly about it. To make matters worse, this will theoretically continue for the rest of my life. That prospect is a little more overwhelming to me than it should be.

• If you're a fan of Lost, then you may know that the (probably strike-shortened) fourth season begins on Jan. 31 at 8/7c on your local ABC station. You may not have been aware that billboards for Oceanic Air have been popping up in certain key cities. If you are as crazy about this show as I am, you may enjoy visiting the site mentioned at the bottom of the boards, when/if you have time. I never thought I would like this show as much as I do.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"... a stupid idea thought up by intellectual midgets trying to protect greedy college presidents..."

I am so late to the show with my novice Sugar Bowl commentary, but I still can't get over what a horrible game the BCS caused to take place.

The first thing that comes to mind is how poorly the players of both teams have been treated in this situation. The Georgia players earned the right to play a competitive game against someone whose opposition would give them a chance to test their own mettle and prove their own greatness. They were robbed of that opportunity by:
- a BCS that required Hawaii to be chosen for one of its games, and...
- either the Sugar Bowl or Rose Bowl administration which could not get far enough past now meaningless traditions to create one compelling game.

The Hawaii players have also been mistreated by being allowed to participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision (puhhhhlllllleeeeaze... can't we call a spade a spade?). The FBS is far too crowded by fiscally elite institutions to accommodate the inclusion of schools that don't have the ability to compete. Players who should be at this level don't go to schools where they don't have soap in the shower. Whoever is leading kids to Hawaii to play football with hopes of a D-1 national title is either greedy or stupid.

The media's poor-mouthing for the Hawaii program is charming and all. But it fails to take into account that the NCAA makes accommodations for schools who don't have huge budgets. There is no room for whining about resources at the highest level. I have absolutely no sympathy for a university which puts its students in this position, nor do I pity students who decide to play for one (Besides... you live in effing Hawaii... you have nothing about which to complain).

I know that sounds elitist, and I hate that. But the fact is that the division is so big that we can't even come up with a consensus champion in most years. In its excessive size, the NCAA includes far too many schools that simply do not have the money, fan bases, or available talent to compete consistently with the fleet afoot. The NCAA should honor the intent of its divisions and reduce the size of the FBS so that all of its student-athletes participate in meaningful and compelling activities, rather than by continuing to sanction the misleading of its supposedly most valued associates into unrewarded excellence and empty victory.

Next, Fox announcer Thom Brennaman's commentary about Georgia's continuing to play football in the fourth quarter was short-sighted and inappropriate. (This is, of course, no surprise. Let's see, what did I call the Fox Broadcast of last year's title game? Oh, that's right... bush league.) When you're playing a team with an offense that is as potent as Hawaii's was most of the season, you can't score too many points. Plus, when you consider a few of the immodest margins Hawaii hung on its opponents this year, no two-digit winning score is too much - especially when it is brought about by players from the second and third string offense.

Oh, and Fox... let's not forget that you or your parent company brought us "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire," "When Animals Attack," "COPS," "The O'Reilly Factor," and "American Idol." Your moral indignation is, to put it mildly, misplaced.

In spite of all of these whining points, there are very bright spots among all of the shit the college presidents and television networks have left us. The young men who represent our school have done so as well as I could ever have hoped they would. Our coach has led with class (yes Florida, class) while refuting the notion that admirable people must allow themselves to be pushed around. Our team is in great shape for what could potentially be a most memorable season.

But that taste... I can't get that taste out of my mouth. That disgusting taste that James Carville (with whom I frequently disagree) tastes as well. Greedy, small-minded "leaders" are sacrificing my favorite sport for their own gain. And I am over it.