Thursday, September 21, 2006

Radio Daze: Part Two

Another Thursday, another radio appearance for yours truly. In fact, today's episode was disturbingly similar to what happened the last time, actually. A little explanation.

You see, even though I'm a man of habit I tend to get bored pretty easily. It doesn't take a lot to get me un-bored. A good movie, CD or video game can do it for me. Other people generally don't, but that's not their fault. I'm somewhat of a shameless isolator with a disdain for small talk and conversational niceties. But, I'm getting all tangential and stuff. Today's excitement came in the form of another radio station contest. This particular contest airs every weekday on one of the local stations at 5:00 PM, and every day it has a different theme. It also happens that I have a knack for being able to get through on the phone line. I can't explain it. Perhaps I'm a fast dialer or something. I know the station has it's fair share of listeners - the ratings are very good - so I can't figure out why it never rings busy. Perhaps it's the karmic God of Radio anointing me holy after my years of tortuous toil in the industry. Or maybe not. Whatever - I got through. Yay me. Sort of.

The name of the game today was "Pop Culture Word Association" and the premise was simple enough. The DJ would name five celebrities and after each one the contestants would have to say the first word that popped into his/her head. No pauses allowed and if you didn't know the person he named, you were disqualified. The person who was best able to amuse the DJ would be the winner. Thus, this was not a contest in the strictest sense of the word. The winner was nothing more than a DJ's whim.

As it turned out, my phone line was the 2nd one picked to participate and as such, I knew there was no way I'd be declared the winner. Firstly, the person before me had been disqualified and secondly, as the first legitimate contestant to get through all five celebrities the DJ had no other answers to compare mine to, so I ended up getting a bum deal. After all, he's trying to make his show an entertaining one. He's not worried about whether or not his contest is actually fair. Still, it ended up being fun. Here's a transcript of how it went down, followed by some explanations for my answers.

(The DJ picks up the phone and talks to the 1st contestant - remember, I was the 2nd)

DJ: OK, you ready to play Pop Culture Word Association? I'm going to name five celebrities and you say the first word that comes to mind. OK?

Contestant #1: Yep. Go ahead.

DJ: OK. Here we go. Nicole Ritchie.

Contestant #1: Whore.

DJ: Jake Plummer

Contestant #1: Sucks

DJ: Dr. Meredith Gray

Contestant #1: Oh... um... whore, again!

DJ: Noooooo... you can't do that.

(The DJ then hangs up on contestant #1 and picks up my line)

DJ: Hey, you wanna play Pop Culture Word Association? I'm gonna name five celebrities and you tell me the first word that comes to mind. OK?

Me: Sho' Nuff.

DJ: Nicole Ritchie.

Me: Heroin.

DJ: Jake Plummer

Me: Choke.

DJ: Dr. Meredith Gray.

Me: Hack.

DJ: Katie Holmes.

Me: Herpes.

DJ: Ryan Seacrest.

Me: Toothpaste.

DJ: Nice.

(The DJ then proceeds to hang up on my ass without any warning whatsoever.)

Alright - so a little explanation is in order, I guess. I associated heroin with Nicole Ritchie because... well, have you seen her? She's disgustingly emaciated. No one finds this ridiculous weight loss suspicious? And yeah, the supermarket rags like People and US Weekly have screaming headlines like 'Nicole Ritchie's Diet Obsession' and 'How Thin is Too Thin?' but for once can't someone call a spade a spade and print a headline like 'Nicole Ritchie's a Smack Addict?' For God's sake, she was arrested for speeding and the stuff was found on her possession. Anyway, enough about her. Why the hell is she famous anyway? Probably because of bloggers like me.

Jake Plummer, for those who've never heard of him, is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He had a career year last year after several years of mediocrity, but after only two games this season, the townsfolk of Denver are already screaming for his head and want him replaced with rookie QB Jay Cutler (which is unlikely to happen, or so the scribes say.) Further still, Plummer brings his Broncos team into Foxboro, MA this weekend to face my beloved New England Patriots. I don't know who's going to win this game (I won't go on record as saying the Patriots will - not after two shaky wins) but I figured I'd do my part and pin the word 'choke' on Plummer in the hopes that that's what he'll do this Sunday.

I have no idea who Dr. Meredith Gray is. I'm a little embarrassed about this. I consider myself pretty well versed in popular culture and I feel like if she's mentioned in a contest like this I should have at least heard of her. I said 'Hack' simply because most television doctor's (like Dr. Phil et al.) can be described this way and it's not something that can really be argued with.

***UPDATE - 10:09 P.M.: I have since googled her name and found out that she's the lead character in the television show "Grey's Anatomy" - a show I'm proud to say I've not watched once. My masculinity is SO intact right now.***

Katie Holmes and herpes? Why yes, Dr. Gray. Herpes, indeed. Just take a look at this photo. Need I say more? Didn't think so.

As for Ryan Seacrest... well, I know that he's the host of American Idol (another show I can proudly say I've never watched, although since it's written about to death in the local newspapers it's impossible not to know the people's names) and I think he took over for Casey Kasem in hosting American Top 40 on the radio but other than that I don't know a blessed thing about him. I therefore honed in on the last syllable of his last name and thus, came up with 'Toothpaste.'

So no, I didn't win and unfortunately after getting hung up on, I got another phone call and wasn't able to hear what the actual winners answers were. No matter. I probably would have just gotten irritated anyway. Still, I was able to get some hearty guffaws out of the DJ for both the 'Herpes' and 'Choke' comments (why the latter, I have no idea. I don't even think it's that funny.) If I keep this up there's bound to be another prize pack in my future somewhere... and it will probably contain Season 1 of Grey's Anatomy, some heroin, and if I'm lucky, a tube of toothpaste. Hmm... maybe I should make more an effort with this small talk thing.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Foggy Music

I did something the other day I'd not done in a long, long time. I smoked a cigarette.


Ha. Just foolin' y'all. That there's a joke. It's been a little over four years since I put down the cancer sticks, and I haven't really looked back. (Incidentally, I know of only two, perhaps three people that read this that would have actually cared if I in fact DID smoke a cigarette, and I don't know - I guess I just felt like making their eyes widen in disbelief for a second. Whatever. Call me cruel.) No, what I actually did was something a little more mundane. I sat down for about an hour and listened to an album - in it's entirety.

I know, can you believe it? Who listens to ENTIRE ALBUMS anymore? Well, few people I guess, but that's the point. I used to listen to full-length albums all the time. In fact, during my late teens and early twenties, I was usually good for an album a day. Often times, I would listen to the same album on consecutive days - particularly if it was a new release (I must have listened to Achtung Baby alone for three weeks straight) - but I made the effort. It wasn't so much that I would set time out of my day to do it. It just sort of happened. I'd come home, and if I had nothing to do, I'd throw an album on. Hell, even if I had something to do I'd throw something on in the background, and more often than not I'd find myself getting sucked back into the music, ignoring whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. In short, I was a music freak.

I still am, I guess, but I'm a freak of a different nature (ha, ha, ha) and, I must confess, a bit of a worried one. You see, back in those halcyon days between 18-24, I worked in radio and saw lots of live bands, and although you might well have said, "Hey man, that Eric guy knows music like it's his friggin' JOB" in a tone of slight jest, you'd have been correct anyway. It WAS my job, and I knew lots of stuff about lots of types of music. In fact, it was something I was rather proud of. Radio being what it is, however, you can know everything about every band ever plus all of their lyrics and still barely crack $8.00 an hour. So, I put down the microphone and CD's and pursued a career in computers instead (and in retrospect, after seeing the money in that field, I probably should have just stuck with radio. I'm kidding, yes, but kind of not, too) and although it was considerably more difficult to follow the music scene with a career in technology, I still made every effort to keep music as an integral part of my life.

So, why am I worried? Because I think I'm losing my luster a bit. You see, making the effort to keep music a part of your life and actually doing that are two different things indeed, and a case could be made that I haven't been very successful with the latter. The album I just listened to is a perfect example. It was the 2000 debut release from a band called The New Pornographers entitled Mass Romantic - and quite frankly I thought it sucked (the first tune was fantastic, but it was mostly downhill from there.) But here's the problem(s.) I've had this album for six years - SIX YEARS - and prior to two days ago I'd listened to it a whopping one time. You'd think if I were going to realize an album was crap, I'd have done it a little more quickly. I don't remember what I thought about it the first time I listened to it either, which is unfortunate, because I probably could have saved myself the trouble and skipped it this time around (I am usually not one of those people that can warm up to an album with multiple listenings. If I listen to an album at least twice - and I do mean listen, not do laundry while an album is running in the background - and I don't like it, chances are very slim I'll start liking it on a 3rd or 4th listen. Few people are like that, really. I think that whole "you'll need to listen to it multiple times" excuse is just used by people searching for approval and who want you to love their favorite band.)

Secondly - and here's the disturbing part - this album was a chore to listen to. I kept checking the track listing to see if it were at all close to being finished and finally breathed a little sigh of relief once it was. But, I don't blame the album here. I blame me. This type of thing NEVER happened back when I listened to music regularly. Even if I hated an album, I almost always had the patience to listen to it through. More importantly, I trusted my judgment. If I thought it was bad, then I thought it was bad, and that was all there was to it. Now though, I listen to an album, decide I don't like it and wonder if there's something wrong with me because everyone else does (Mass Romantic was adored by many critics.)

I blame a lot of things. Me (although I mentioned that before - no need to turn this into a post about self-loathing), but also iTunes, Yahoo Music, Rhapsody, etc, etc... All of a sudden, we've become a listening public obsessed with singles again. Instead of appreciating an entire album as a piece of work, we listen to the best song off of an album and ignore the rest. I'm just as guilty as anyone else. A quick look at my iPod will reveal countless mixes and playlists I've made for myself which are, essentially, my favorite songs in a row - usually categorized by genre or theme. Almost none of these playlists features multiple songs by a single band. The recording industry has realized this too and has subsequently started churning out albums with one good song on them, and the rest essentially crap filler (don't believe me? Pick up Beyonce's newest release.)

So, is it me or the music? Tough to answer, I guess. Since I've gotten older and seemingly have less time, I have a much smaller tolerance for bad songs. Or, it could just be that I'm out of practice. If I get into the habit of listening to music again, will I become more appreciative of it? That depends on the quality of the recording being produced, I suppose. A bad album is a bad album any way you look at it. I think I need to sit on this for a little while and keep this experiment going. I hope further research reveals that, in time, I'll get my music mojo back. For God's sake, my happiness is at stake!

Of course, it could have just been a bad album.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Call A Do-Over

So, no posty type posts this weekend unfortunately, because I was busy doing other important stuff - like attending college football games (BC vs. Clemson on Saturday - BC wins it 34-33 in double OT. A good win, and one I'd be even more happy about if I didn't think of most BC students as spoiled, petulant New Jersey transplants. Still, I grew up next to the campus, and you have to stay loyal - even if it kills you.)

Oh yeah, I also spent way too much time buying bed sheets for my new bed - but after spending two hundred dollars on sheets, pillows, and all that jazz, I decided to ask some people who know about these things (my mother and two sisters) to see if they could confirm the fact that I'd been swindled. Their answer? Most assuredly, yes. So - over the next few days I'll be returning my newly purchased merchandise with a scowl and picking up other, similar quality bed products at places that sell 'em a little cheaper (and still 300 thread count. Yay!)

In any event, it's now Sunday night, and I'm both tired and grumpy and in no mood to write anything of relevance other than maybe, "Screw you, Bed Bath & Beyond" - and no one wants to read that. But, check in when I'm in a better mood - which should be soon hopefully - and I'll see if I can get something up here in a bit. Later.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Stay Tuned While I Go Do Other Stuff...

Letting one Friday slide by in silence is OK, but two? That's unacceptable. Busy days at work have kept me away, but I just thought I'd pop my head in and provide you with some stuff to entertain you on this fine day. You know, instead of doing work. I should have one of those "real type posts" up this weekend. Maybe even tonight, but don't keep your fingers crossed.

Click Drag Type - A whole bunch of fun little puzzles (Click on the last "Click Drag Type" link in the post to get started.) The write-up on the Jay Is Games website provides the best description:

"Each puzzle is entirely independent of the others and none of them provide any instruction as for what to do. Just as in an adventure-puzzle game, the journey is the reward and figuring out what to do is part of the gratification one receives from playing, but often only half the battle.

As the name implies, you will need to click the mouse, drag the mouse, and type on the keyboard to solve the puzzles contained within. Study each puzzle carefully and observe the behavior of each of its elements as you interact with them. Persevere and you will prevail."

Normally, that description would make me run away in fear of boredom. But these puzzles kept me sufficiently and pleasantly stumped for a goodly amount of time. Note the comments below for help with some of them.

[Edit 09/09/01 10:31 AM]
Alright - I've gotten two emails already from people who can't get past the first puzzle. They've gotten the key but are unsure what to do from there. Note the title of the puzzles - Click, Drag, Type - That means you'll have to do all three of those things. Now, look to the left and top of the puzzle window. Might there be something you can drag there? Something small? No? I think you need to look again, Mr. Magoo.

OK GO Treadmill Video: I won tickets to see these guys about a year ago and I didn't go, largely because I was familiar with their debut album and thought it to suck out loud. They've since released another album (the reason why they were touring) which I hear is much better, and more fun. I'm kind of regretting my earlier decision not to attend their show - particularly if they pulled off shit like this.