Archive for February, 2010
Hey – sorry I’ve been away so long. Sometimes I’ve got a dozen things I want to talk about & sometimes I go a week with nothing to say. Funny, that…
Anyway, to make it up to you all, here are the instructions for accessing the WiFi at the Omni Hotel in Charlotte, NC. As you can see, it’s as easy as 1-2-3 (or something like that):
OK, it’s impossible not to compare, so here we go. Two groups of people who boldly claim, “We are the World.” Which group do you prefer?
Obviously, these are both wonderful causes, so I’m comparing only music videos here.
I guess I’m predisposed to prefer the original, since it’s how I first heard the song, and contains a larger percentage of artists that I know and/or identify with. That said, the new version is growing on me. I’m surprised by how much I like the rap breaks, both in the middle and at the end. I think what Wyclef Jean did with Creole lyrics and singing style went a long way toward making this an effort in Haitian relief, and not just a remake of the original song. I like the way they incorporated Michael Jackson into it (the image of Janet singing next to her brother is the first tribute to his legacy that doesn’t feel commercialized in some way), and I love the Ray Charles impression that Jamie Foxx threw in to honor another of the original’s stand-out artists.
On the other hand, I’m mystified about why they changed the lyrics to one of the verses (was there a religious objection to “As God has shown us by turning stone to bread?”). I’m surprised by Celine Dion’s choice to imitate, note for note, what Cyndi Lauper did with her part (with apparent coaching from Lionel Richie?), rather than bringing her own interpretation to the song. I think teen sensation, Justin Bieber, is going to get a big bump in face-recognition from singing the first solo (“There comes a time…”), but that most people will conclude that his voice was too weak to handle it. And I’m deeply, deeply troubled by the acceptance of auto-tune as a musical choice by folks Lil Wayne and others. If melodic singing isn’t his thing, then find someone else to do Bob Dylan’s part, please? That, or for heaven’s sake, someone please improve the auto-tune technology so it doesn’t sound like a robot attempting to sing such soulful lyrics!
In the end, I still prefer the original, but I’m glad they both exist. And if the new one is nearly as successful as the original in raising money for a good cause, then I’m doubly glad they put in the time and effort.
Short version: Avatar is a formulaic story with under-developed characters portrayed by good (but not great) actors. None of this matters a single iota. Because Avatar, you see, is not a movie at all. It’s a working prototype. A hugely successful demo of what blockbuster movies will look like in the future. And like most successful demos, it involved a huge investment of time, money and creativity to produce something that the viewer simply cannot take his/her eyes off of. The future is here, folks, and it is Avatar.
Longer version (WARNING: Spoilers lie ahead, although I’m pretty sure I’m the last one on the planet to see the film, so it probably doesn’t matter. Just in case, though, you’ve been warned):
Was amused to read that Kids Today have stopped blogging, more or less; they’ve moved the blurtage over to Facebook, which makes much more sense. The web is the Great Heaving Sea; Facebook is an auditorium. Tumblr is a flea-market. Blogs will either be for writers, or communities gathered around a particular ideology or subject, or ace aggregators who can spit out 30 unique links a day.
(Jason Bennion has some interesting thoughts on this too, which I will link to as soon as he gets his blog back up & running).
On balance, I can’t say I disagree with Lileks. Popularity-wise, Facebook is to blogging what blogging was to personal homepages back in 1995. That said, there are some counterexamples.
Take the week of January 25-29, 2010, for example. Someone (and who knows, really, how these things get started) declared it “Doppleganger Week” on Facebook. The idea was that you’d replace your profile picture with a picture of a celebrity who you’ve often been told you look like. So, by the end of the week, rather than reading status updates from your friends Joe, Mike, Janet and Kate, you’re reading updates from Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore. A waste of time? Sure. But hey – it’s one of those communal time-wasters that gives everyone something to schmooze about for a while, and isn’t that really what Facebook is for?
Now, flashback about 3.5 years ago, when someone sent me a link to a celebrity face recognition service. It being 2006, I blogged about it, rather than Facebook sharing it or tweeting about it. The resulting blog post contains a lot of celebrity images and links to pages about those celebrities, which not only makes it a valuable resource for Doppleganger Week, but also gives it enough Google Juice (hat tip: Jeff Jarvis) to show up at the top of the list in all sorts of queries about celebrity images.
The result? Here’s Facebook’s Doppleganger Week as viewed through my Google Analytics stats:
For the two weeks prior to Doppleganger Week (Jan 11-Jan 22), my little corner of the web here garnered 665 pageviews, with the Celebrity Look-Alike post accounting for just 18 of those.
For the following two weeks (Doppleganger Week actually seemed to last more like two weeks – Jan 25-Feb 5), the Celebrity Look-Alike post received 389 pageviews on it’s own, an increase of just over 2,000%. The site as a whole had 1,045 pageviews in those two weeks, a 57% increase.
The Celebrity Look-Alike post went from 2.7% of my traffic to a whopping 37% of my traffic during Doppleganger Week(s).
All thanks to Facebook. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cross-post this blog post on my Facebook wall, in hopes of getting that crowd to click over here and read it. Because I’m old-fashioned that way…
Ostensibly because of Valentine’s Day, the bookstore at my train station had a table in front of the store today covered with various books about love and/or sex. There were the titles you’d expect to see – The Joy of Sex, Karma Sutra, etc., but this one gave me a real chuckle:
Two days ago, I posted a picture of a Weatherproof Jacket Ad featuring President Obama that hung over Times Square. Several commenters noted that The White House had complained about the ad and asked me to check if it had been subsequently removed.
Well, I must say, I’m impressed with Weatherproof’s marketing department:
President Obama doesn’t want to be in our ad? Fine, then, we’ll go with four Presidents who won’t complain – because they’re dead! The text in the upper-right corner (click here to see it more clearly) reads, “Fit for a President.” Which one, of course, they’re not saying…