The Things I Do for Kelly Brown Meme

By request of the self-described Mrs. Lefty.

IF YOUR LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?
So, here’s how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend your cool…
7. When you’re finished tag some other people to do it!

OK, this is my iTunes thing, heavy on some mixed CDs I tried to make.

Opening credits: Why Did You Leave-the Heptones
Waking up: Loving Dub II-Burning Spear (OK)
First day of school: Elvis Presley Boulevard-Billy Joel
Falling in love: Incense and Peppermints-Strawberry Alarm Clock (this would only work if I had come of age in the 1960s – wait I DID come of age in the 1960s)
First song: Graceland-Willie Nelson
Breaking up: Neutron Dance-Pointer Sisters (must have been a necessary breakup)
Prom: The Twelve Gifts of Christmas-Allan Sherman (!)
Life: The Bells of Christmas-Julie Andrews
Mental Breakdown: Winter Snow-Booker T. and the MGs (this is a lovely song-must have been a gentle breakdown)
Driving: Big Big Love-k.d. lang (this works)
Flashback:’Til I Die-Beach Boys (has a certain dreamy quality)
Getting back together: Where Did You Sleep Last Night-Nirvana (I don’t THINK so)
Wedding: What They World Needs Now/Abraham, Martin & John-Tom Clay (yikes!)
Birth of Child: Long Time Gone-CPR (song about the death of RFK – ain’t THAT swell)
Final Battle: The Simpsons’ End Theme-JFK
Death Scene: 1985-Bowling for Soup
Funeral song: Death is Not the End-Nick Cave
End Credits: Lee Harvey Was A Friend of Mine-Laura Cantrell

Some of these are just BIZARRE (getting back together, wedding, birth of child), while a couple are actually dead on (final battle, funeral song).

Nope, I ain’t tagging nobody.
***
Maybe it’s my demographic, but I’ve never known anyone who I know personally who has posted on YouTube. Until now. Read this high-pressured sales pitch:
“I decided to go public with “The Scary Sock” and post it on You Tube. I figured “What the hell!” It’s certainly no worse than much of the stuff out there. If you want to see it again (with sound!), one can find it here.” (30 seconds)
***
Coolness test.

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I'm in a John K. State of Mind

When I was in high school at Binghamton Central, I was president of the student government in 1970. The radio and/or TV station WNBF got the student government heads from around the area to get together maybe six times a year to “rap”; that meant to talk, in those days. The guy from Johnson City HS was this long-haired freak named John. We really hit it off, and from time to time ended up at demonstrations together, at least one antiwar event which involved us running from tear gas. It was…fun, actually.

We lost track, and then I heard that he died a few years later, which was sad. But then I ran into him, which was just plain freaky. Seems that he WAS at death’s door, technically dead, but then was revived. Not only that, he was going out with an old girlfriend of mine. They got married; I attended the ceremony. We had some good times, and some not so good times together. Eventually, John and my ex split up. To be reductivist about it, he was largely at fault. He moved out of state – to Florida, I believe – and I lost track of him again.

Then I get an e-mail the other day from my ex-girlfriend, with whom I’ve maintained a friendship. There was an obit in the local (Binghamton) paper. John K. really was dead. He’d been living in Washington state, had gotten remarried, and was, in the flowery prose of obituaries – “a man of varied interests with a profound zest for life” – happy. He was 54. I don’t know what he died from – yes, I’m extremely curious, and more than a bit unsettled.

Actually, I think it’s a combination of things:

The depature of John Flynn from the Capital District YMCA, heading for Pennsylvania. I haven’t seen him much recently, but when I was on ther local (Albany) board for nine years in thwe late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw him quite a bit. The idea of regionalism is so hard to pull off around here, and John helped pull it off.

The departure of Albany Public Library head Jeff Cannell, heading for a post in the State Department of Education. Since I’m the VP of the Friends of the APL, I got to see Jeff a fair amount. I liked him, a refreshing change after his autocratic predecessor.

Then there was the passing of fellow church member John Scott, and the effect I know that must have on his family – the funeral was last Saturday.

Plus the death of my favorite Celtic, DJ at the age of 52 of cardiac arrest last week, has me in a bit of a mood, shall we say.
***
Bob Woodruff, the former ABC News anchor who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq last year, has a special on tonight (10 ET on ABC) and also will be on Oprah and Good Morning America today. His wife Lee, who used to attend the church to which I now belong, will also be on all of these programs.
***
Silliness tomorrow.

I’m in a John K. State of Mind

When I was in high school at Binghamton Central, I was president of the student government in 1970. The radio and/or TV station WNBF got the student government heads from around the area to get together maybe six times a year to “rap”; that meant to talk, in those days. The guy from Johnson City HS was this long-haired freak named John. We really hit it off, and from time to time ended up at demonstrations together, at least one antiwar event which involved us running from tear gas. It was…fun, actually.

We lost track, and then I heard that he died a few years later, which was sad. But then I ran into him, which was just plain freaky. Seems that he WAS at death’s door, technically dead, but then was revived. Not only that, he was going out with an old girlfriend of mine. They got married; I attended the ceremony. We had some good times, and some not so good times together. Eventually, John and my ex split up. To be reductivist about it, he was largely at fault. He moved out of state – to Florida, I believe – and I lost track of him again.

Then I get an e-mail the other day from my ex-girlfriend, with whom I’ve maintained a friendship. There was an obit in the local (Binghamton) paper. John K. really was dead. He’d been living in Washington state, had gotten remarried, and was, in the flowery prose of obituaries – “a man of varied interests with a profound zest for life” – happy. He was 54. I don’t know what he died from – yes, I’m extremely curious, and more than a bit unsettled.

Actually, I think it’s a combination of things:

The depature of John Flynn from the Capital District YMCA, heading for Pennsylvania. I haven’t seen him much recently, but when I was on ther local (Albany) board for nine years in thwe late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw him quite a bit. The idea of regionalism is so hard to pull off around here, and John helped pull it off.

The departure of Albany Public Library head Jeff Cannell, heading for a post in the State Department of Education. Since I’m the VP of the Friends of the APL, I got to see Jeff a fair amount. I liked him, a refreshing change after his autocratic predecessor.

Then there was the passing of fellow church member John Scott, and the effect I know that must have on his family – the funeral was last Saturday.

Plus the death of my favorite Celtic, DJ at the age of 52 of cardiac arrest last week, has me in a bit of a mood, shall we say.
***
Bob Woodruff, the former ABC News anchor who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq last year, has a special on tonight (10 ET on ABC) and also will be on Oprah and Good Morning America today. His wife Lee, who used to attend the church to which I now belong, will also be on all of these programs.
***
Silliness tomorrow.

I’m in a John K. State of Mind

When I was in high school at Binghamton Central, I was president of the student government in 1970. The radio and/or TV station WNBF got the student government heads from around the area to get together maybe six times a year to “rap”; that meant to talk, in those days. The guy from Johnson City HS was this long-haired freak named John. We really hit it off, and from time to time ended up at demonstrations together, at least one antiwar event which involved us running from tear gas. It was…fun, actually.

We lost track, and then I heard that he died a few years later, which was sad. But then I ran into him, which was just plain freaky. Seems that he WAS at death’s door, technically dead, but then was revived. Not only that, he was going out with an old girlfriend of mine. They got married; I attended the ceremony. We had some good times, and some not so good times together. Eventually, John and my ex split up. To be reductivist about it, he was largely at fault. He moved out of state – to Florida, I believe – and I lost track of him again.

Then I get an e-mail the other day from my ex-girlfriend, with whom I’ve maintained a friendship. There was an obit in the local (Binghamton) paper. John K. really was dead. He’d been living in Washington state, had gotten remarried, and was, in the flowery prose of obituaries – “a man of varied interests with a profound zest for life” – happy. He was 54. I don’t know what he died from – yes, I’m extremely curious, and more than a bit unsettled.

Actually, I think it’s a combination of things:

The depature of John Flynn from the Capital District YMCA, heading for Pennsylvania. I haven’t seen him much recently, but when I was on ther local (Albany) board for nine years in thwe late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw him quite a bit. The idea of regionalism is so hard to pull off around here, and John helped pull it off.

The departure of Albany Public Library head Jeff Cannell, heading for a post in the State Department of Education. Since I’m the VP of the Friends of the APL, I got to see Jeff a fair amount. I liked him, a refreshing change after his autocratic predecessor.

Then there was the passing of fellow church member John Scott, and the effect I know that must have on his family – the funeral was last Saturday.

Plus the death of my favorite Celtic, DJ at the age of 52 of cardiac arrest last week, has me in a bit of a mood, shall we say.
***
Bob Woodruff, the former ABC News anchor who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq last year, has a special on tonight (10 ET on ABC) and also will be on Oprah and Good Morning America today. His wife Lee, who used to attend the church to which I now belong, will also be on all of these programs.
***
Silliness tomorrow.

The Lydster, Part 35: Free to Be Me


When I started this blog, and specifically when I started writing about my daughter in this blog, I had planned to write more about how she was affecting me, rather than just about her. I may have fallen away from that. Here’s a slight return to form.

One of the things I know is true about me, with her, is that I have, apparently, no inhibitions when it comes to caring for her. We all went to church last Sunday morning – me, Carol, Lydia and her doll, which is named Baby. We all had nametags on, including Baby. Lydia wanted me to hold Baby for a while, as we stood in the communion circle, so I did so. The little girl across the way thought this was mighty funny, apparently; a grown man with a doll with a nametag during communion (no, Baby did not partake).

I remember when Lydia was five or six months old, and she was doing SOMETHING to make me crazy. I was so upset with her that I plopped her in the middle of the living room floor; Daddy needed a timeout. I’m sure she’ll make me crazy again, but I find that I’m a lot more patient with her now, even as she does stuff that would have driven me crazy a couple years earlier. She’s afraid of the monsters in her room, reportedly a typical childhood phase. Her mother and I just drive them from the room, but the going-to-bed process seems to have lengthened considerably in the last month. (I wonder if this is post-surgical trauma for Lydia.) Anyway, I’m more tired – again, and I had been doing so well – but it doesn’t annoy me. Concern, a little bit.

Anyway, she gives me lots of goodies to make it all worthwhile. Happy 2 11/12, Lydia!

Myths, Hoaxes, and Misinformation


So what IS that holiday we just celebrated on the third Monday in February? Presidents Day? Presidents’ Day? President’s Day? The answer, technically, is none of the above.
***
From an-e-mail, which cites Tom Joyner’s Morning Show as the source of information about NUD (Non Urban Dictate), “the acronym for a very subtle and little-known marketing term specifically directed toward people of color. ‘Non Urban Dictate’ – These three words essentially mean that a company is not interested in the Black consumer. A NUD label means that a company does not want their marketing and advertising materials placed in media that claim an urban audience (black folks) as their main target.

My reply: I doubt it. I could find no mention on Tom Joyner’s website and this company has to waste its time refuting its involvement with the claim. This group, breakthechain.org, busts the myth:
“BreakTheChain.or recommends against participating in boycott campaigns organized via e-mail chain letters. As you can see, this letter has failed to keep up with developments in the issue, has acquired incorrect information (and caused a great deal of hardship for the Urban Institute) and is even recommended against by former supporters. Break this chain.”
***
From friend Dan:

The “Pharisee Jew Big-Bang Conspiracy”. The last line is the best:
“I am convinced that rather than risk teaching a lie, why teach anything?”
***
From friend Don:

Masterpieces Or Fakes? The Joyce Hatto Scandal February 15 2007

“It was already one of the strangest stories the classical music world had witnessed. But the discovery of the late English pianist Joyce Hatto as the greatest instrumentalist almost nobody had heard of, appears to have taken a bizarre, even potentially sinister turn.

It was around a year ago that Gramophone’s critics began to champion this little-known lady, whose discs – miraculous performances, released by her husband William Barrington-Coupe on the tiny label Concert Artist – were notoriously difficult to get hold of. Such was the brilliance of this pianist across Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Dukas and more in a dizzying range – that it was worth making the effort to seek out Concert Artist to get these discs, and they became much sought-after. By the time she died in June 2006, Joyce Hatto was not only a sudden widespread success, she was a cause célèbre. To love Hatto recordings was to be in the know, a true piano aficionado who didn’t need the hype of a major label’s marketing spend to recognise a good, a great, thing when they heard it.

See and hear for yourself the incontrovertible evidence of an audacious recording hoax. Here we examine a track from [a CD], released under the name of ‘Joyce Hatto’, but containing 10 tracks originally released in 1987 and played by Simon Laszlo on a BIS CD.

The fourth Hatto track has been quite subtlely doctored: digitally shrunk in time by 0.02% – just enough to alter overall timings, and with no shift in pitch; re-equalised to alter the piano tone slightly; panned slightly to the left, where the original piano was central.
***
In response to an e-mail I received:

There is no deadline to register cell phones to the Do Not Call List, despite what you might have heard. Here’s some info.

You can also register by phone (1-888-382-1222) or online.

Read more about this.
***
Mark Evanier disputes whether Wile E. Coyote’s middle name is Ethelbert, even though it was the Final JEOPARDY! question last month.
***
Even the Wall Street Journal needs to comment on Anna Nicole Smith (by Tunku Varadarajan. Feb 13, 2007. pg. A.24)

“Anna Nicole Smith was also a lowbrow (or really, a narcissistic) version of the American dream — the American dream of only bravado and guile, bereft of character or principles or talent. She was proof that the dream applies even to people with nothing to offer but themselves. If she is a tragic and cautionary tale to Americans, evidence that the American Dream requires substance and character, she may be evidence of the opposite to outsiders who see only the magic of wealth and fame won through the mere presentation of self. She inflates the reputation of American possibility abroad, making it seem like anything is possible in America — even reward without merit.”

Ouch.
***
Finally, this bugs me, too.

The Posthumous Still Have It

A couple months ago, I noticed the Rolling Stone lunchtime poll for Best Posthumous Album. What was interesting is that the two albums that seemed to dominate, among those who actually knew what “posthumous” meant, or weren’t into fossilizing the Rolling Stones, picked Johnny Cash’s American V: A Hundred Highways (a Rolling Stone pick) and Brainwashed by George Harrison, both artists were born around this time of the month.
***
There seems to be three major topics among American Beatles fans these days:
1)Whether that Cirque du Soleil songtrack, LOVE, is any good
2)Whether Heather Mills McCartney is Satan or merely the spawn of Satan
3)What’s going to be in the next box set of American LPs. The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1, included Meet the Beatles, The Beatles Second Album, Something New, and Beatles ’65. Vol. 2 contained The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, the Help! soundtrack, and the U.S. version of Rubber Soul, all of which were released in 1965. There won’t be boxes of albums where the US and the UK versions are exactly the same (Sgt. Pepper, the White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, Let It Be). Magical Mystery Tour is off the table, because it was an American album that the Brits adopted. So what does that leave?
A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack- Originally on United Artists Records. It does have three Beatles songs, including the title cut, plus four soundtrack tunes not on Something New. But there are the five that overlap.
Revolver-the 11-song version instead of the 14. Do they really want to draw attention to this treachery?
Beatles Again/Hey Jude-The late Capitol/early Apple singles. But two of the HDN soundtrack songs are here as well.
The only album everyone agrees on is Yesterday…and Today. Why did I buy this at the Rexall store for $2.99, rather than waiting to get it from the Capitol Record Club? Maybe I was impatient. Why do I remember it cost $2.99?
Anyway, this is an odd album, oftentimes documented:
Side A
1. Drive My Car-Lennon/McCartney (Rubber Soul UK)
2. I’m Only Sleeping-Lennon/McCartney (Revolver UK)
3. Nowhere Man-Lennon/McCartney (Rubber Soul UK)
4. Doctor Robert-Lennon/McCartney (Revolver UK)
5. Yesterday-Lennon/McCartney (Help UK)
6. Act Naturally-Morrison/Russell (Help UK)
Side B
1. And Your Bird Can Sing-Lennon/McCartney (Revolver UK)
2. If I Needed Someone-Harrison (Rubber Soul UK)
3. We Can Work It Out-Lennon/McCartney (single)
4. What Goes On-Lennon/McCartney/Starkey (Rubber Soul UK)
5. Day Tripper-Lennon/McCartney (single)
My thoughts then: I love(d) Drive My Car. The album was good, but TWO Ringo songs? Also, What Goes On is in the same key as Day Tripper; I wouldn’t have put them next to each other.
My thoughts now: If you’re gonna butcher the UK albums, the pulling of four tracks from Rubber Soul, essentially one by each Beatle, was pretty deft. I know a number of folks who still think I’ve Just Seen a Face (from the UK Help album) is the better starting song for the Americanized Rubber Soul. Conversely, the three Lennon songs pulled from Revolver made the US version of THAT album lopsided, with 1 Ringo, 3 George, 5 Paul but only 2 John songs.
Oh, yeah, my copy of Yesterday…and Today got stolen in the Great LP Theft of 1972, so I’ll never know if I owned the butcher cover or not. It’s just as well.
Consider this my Underplayed Vinyl for the month.

Oscar 2006/2007 QUESTIONS

There was this recent newspaper story about famous local author Bill Kennedy
Oscar? He’s an old friend of this author
, in which “Kennedy uses his love of movies to help choose Academy Award nominees and vote for winner”. It occurred to me – again – that the process of voting is not directly related to the quality of the film, but many other factors. So, I’m going to make picks, based not on who I want to win, or who OUGHT to win (given the holes in what I’ve seen, I really can’t do that), but who I think will win.

* indicates the sparse number of performances I actually saw – all in the movie theater, BTW, as opposed to on DVD or video, which I contend changes the viewing experience

BEST ACTOR
Leonardo DiCaprio-Blood Diamond. If he’d been nominated for The Departed, i think he’d have had a better chance.
Ryan Gosling-Half Nelson. Well-received. No one saw it.
Peter O’Toole-Venus. The man’s been up, what seven, eight times before. Where’s the love?
*Will Smith-The Pursuit Of Happyness. Good, but isn’t going to win.
Forest Whitaker-The Last King Of Scotland. Not only as an actor, but as a producer and director. You know how Hollywood loves the hypenates: Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, pre-meltdown. He wins.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jackie Earle Haley-Little Children. Won some of the minor awards; wouldn’t totally shock me.
Djimon Hounsou-Blood Diamond. Wish I’d seen this. In the commercials, he seems to be in a constant state of rage. Anyway, I’m not hearing the buzz from the early awards.
*Eddie Murphy-Dreamgirls. The odds-on favorite, won lots of the early awards. But Norbit ads are not helping the cause. And he isn’t Hollywood friendly.
Mark Wahlberg-The Departed. Ptractically every pre-Oscar prognosticator had Jack in this slot, so I think it mitigates against Wahlberg.
*Alan Arkin-Little Miss Sunshine. Been around, likable film. I’m going against the wave and picking the salty grandad. (If I pick all the obvious choices, what’s the fun in that?)
BEST ACTRESS
*Penélope Cruz-Volver. It’s in Spanish, with subtitles. No.
*Judi Dench-Notes On A Scandal. She’s better than the film. Probably my second pick, and if there’s an upset in the category, she’ll win.
*Meryl Streep-The Devil Wears Prada. She’s already gotten her Oscar gold.
Kate Winslet-Little Children. Someday this woman, who’s been nominated more than anyone else at her age, will get one. Not this year.
*Helen Mirren-The Queen. Who I am to argue with EVERY major award-giving organization?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Adriana Barraza-Babel. Might win, but will be cancelled out by Rinko Kikuchi.
*Cate Blanchett-Notes On A Scandal. Won two years ago.
*Abigail Breslin-Little Miss Sunshine. Anna Paquin notwithstanding, they ain’t gonna give it to a kid.
Rinko Kikuchi-Babel. Might win, but will be cancelled out by Adriana Barraza.
*Jennifer Hudson-Dreamgirls. People applauded in the theater when Ms. 7th Place on American Idol sang. The “slight” that Dreamgirls not getting Best Picture may actually enhance her Hudson’s chances. My one concern is whether Dreamgirls plays as well on DVD as it does in the theater.
BEST DIRECTOR:
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-Babel. Heard it was a bit of a mess.
Clint Eastwood-Letters from Iwo Jima. With two well-regarded films, and that hyphenate thing going, Eastwood should have a chance. But the film is in Japanese, and I don’t see the older voters actually watching it. Moreover, he’s won recently; are people sick of him winning?
*Stephen Frears-The Queen. Nice little film, which I saw. Don’t think it’ll win.
Paul Greengrass-United 93. By all accounts, a respectful retelling. I’m guessing that some of those screening DVDs will stay in the shrink wrap. (Do screening DVDs COME in shrink wrap?)
Martin Scorsese-The Departed. Finally. When the speculation came up with him on his last two nominated films, it felt forced. But this movie was well-reviewed. It’s time.
BEST PICTURE:
I could make a case for any of them.
Babel-For those who like the convoluted style of Traffic or Crash.
The Departed-For those who want to show Marty and the cast the love.
Letters from Iwo Jima-Since it’s ineligible for Best Foreign Language Film by the Academy, let’s show our love for Clint here, without slighting Marty.
*The Queen-All the other films split the vote, and the monarch reigns.
*Little Miss Sunshine-The Screen Actors Guild Best Assemble film is dark enough that a comedy finally wins for Best Picture. Maybe it’s the fact that I REALLY LIKED THIS FILM, but I’m going to pick Sunshine. Or Babel. Or The Departed. Maybe Iwo Jima. The Queen? OK, Sunshine, even though it wasn’t even nominated for Best Director. (But if it doesn’t, it’ll probably win the Screenplay award.)

So, who do you think will win, and why? If you have a blog/web page and have already commented on this, please leave your link.

If I were to run out tomorrow night to see one more film before Oscar night, I would tend to look for the one that will give me the most major nominees for the buck, such as Babel or Little Children, but don’t know if I’ll have time.

MOVIE REVIEWS: Volver; Notes on a Scandal


On Washington’s Birthday weekend 1998, I saw five movies, four of them nominated for Academy Awards: L.A. Confidential and Mrs. Brown on Saturday. Afterglow (starring Julie Christie) and some strange French film on Sunday. Don’t remember which Oscar-nominated film on Monday, maybe The Apostle or The Sweet Hereafter. In any case, by Oscar night, I’d seen every film in the six major categories, (movie, director, 2 actor, 2 actress categories) except Ulee’s Gold with Peter Fonda.

On Washington’s Birthday weekend 2007, I saw two movies, both nominated for Academy Awards. By Oscar night, I will have missed several performances in the major categories. Ah well.

Grandma and Grandpa were up watching Lydia, so that Carol and I could see the Sunday film, Volver (To return), starring Penelope Cruz. I don’t recall having seen her in anything except Pedro Almodovar’s Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother), in which, if I’m remembering correctly, she played a pregnant nun. Almodovar’s Volver is the more conventional film. The returnee is the Cruz character’s dead mother. I enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery; Carol really enjoyed it. Almodovar tends to luxuriate over certain parts of the female body on occasion, such as their rears, and there’s what’s probably an extraneous shot of Cruz washing dishes, shot from above. Ms. Cruz has been criticized for her lightweight acting, but in this film, in her native tongue, the Madrid-born actress is wonderfully caustic, funny and passionate.

The Monday film featured Judi Dench, who I had seen nine years earlier in Mrs. Brown, and Cate Blanchette. Just from the previews, I knew that Dame Dench would be chewing the scenery, and she does, eventually, but so does Ms. Blanchette. My wife said she felt as though she needed a shower afterwards, and I understood what she meant. The Philip Glass score was too much – too loud, and occasionally too obvious and obtrusive. The performances are better than the movie, but I’m not sure that I can explain why.

It's All About Me, You, Us

Happy Ash Wednesday! Wait a minute, it’s Lent…somber and reflective Ash Wednesday. (Or is that just a function of post-Mardi Gras hangovers?)
Where are my Requiems? I need to play Requiems during Lent – Faure. Rutter. The German by Bach. Of course, Mozart. Gets me in the mood.
At least in the tradition in our church, we usually end the service with Allelujah, Amen, but during Lent, just the Amen until Easter.
***
Snow removal in Albany-ha! I’m not talking aboout the street snow, for which the city has justifiably been criticized, but the sidewalks, which after nearly a week of warming temperatures are still often impassable. Yeah, the city can fine people, but I’m talking about the social contract. I’ve been out at least thrice since the snow stopped to continually widen the path in front of our house. Meanwhile, there are people who seem to believe that the spelling of snow removal is s-p-r-i-n-g. We’re Northeasterners, people, we should know how to do this.
***
In re: this comment: “Two hours of television a week for me, dude! The Net is where it’s at!” – what’s the diff? User-Generated Content on TV (see Doritos’ Super Bowl ads). TV on the web (see the vast majority of newtork programming. It’s the message, not the medium.
***
And speaking of television, I find myself, disturbingly, agreeing in part, with former Reagan special assistant Peggy Noonan. She has a weekly column in the weekend Wall Street Journal called Declarations. This past weekend, she wrote a piece called They Sold Their Soul for a Pot of Message about the early Presidential race; the title reference is a play on words re: Esau in the Book of Genesis selling “his soul for a mess of pottage.”

The most dismaying thing I’ve noticed the past 10 years on television is that ordinary people who are guests on morning news shows — the man who witnessed the murder, the housewife who ran from the flames — speak, now, in perfect sound bites. They also cry on cue. They used to ramble, like unsophisticated folk, and try to keep their emotions to themselves. Anchors had to take them in hand. “But what happened then?” Now the witness knows what’s needed, and how to do it. “And when she didn’t come home, Matt, I knew: this is not like her. And I immediately called the authorities.”

Why does this dismay? Because it’s another stepping away from the real. Artifice detaches us even from ourselves.
***
Primary Research Group has published a new edition of The Survey of College Marketing Programs. The 170-page study presents more than 650 tables of data relating to college marketing efforts, exploring trends in television, radio,newspaper and magazine advertising, direct mail, college viewbook and magazine publishing, and use of web ads, blogs, search engine placement enhancement, and other internet related marketing. The report also looks closely at spending by colleges on marketing consultancies, market research firms, and advertising and public relations agencies.

The data in the report is broken out by enrollment size, type of college, public/private status, and even by the extent to which colleges draw their applicants from the local area. Fifty-five colleges completed an exhaustive questionnaire. A list of participants is available at our website.

Just a few of the study’s many findings appear below:

• 17.65% of the colleges in the sample make payments to search engines for higher search engine placement in searches. More than a quarter of private colleges make such payments, but only a bit more than 10% of public colleges do so.

• 15.69% of the colleges in the sample have used podcasts as a way to market the college. Podcasts were used most by the research universities in the sample.

• Close to 86% of the colleges in the sample publish a viewbook; all of the private colleges in the sample and three quarters of the public colleges in the sample publish viewbooks.
The mean number of (traditional print) viewbooks distributed by the colleges in the sample in 2006 was 12,954.

• 29.41% of the colleges in the sample offered a PDF version of the viewbook.

• A shade more than 23% say that they are printing fewer and fewer viewbooks each year

• More than twice as many colleges in the sample said that their volume of direct mail for marketing the college had increased over the past two years than said that it had decreased in this same period.

• About 61% of the colleges in the sample include a virtual tour of the college campus on the college website. Larger colleges were somewhat more likely than smaller colleges to have a virtual tour of the campus on the college website. Only 20% of the community colleges in the sample had a virtual tour of the campus on the college website.

• The colleges in the sample received a mean of 53.5% of their applications through the college website, and this figure ranged from 0 to 100%.

• 20.45% of the colleges in the sample have an employee on the college enrollment, marketing, public relations or admissions staffs who is assigned the role of responding to comments about the college or otherwise providing information about the college to bloggers.

• 13.7% of the colleges in the sample use any form of paid advertising service from Google

• Mean annual spending on advertising agencies was $28,800 with median spending of $5,000.

• More than 75% of the colleges in the sample published their own magazines about the college.

• Close to 80% of the colleges in the sample have advertised on the radio; both public and private colleges use radio advertising and college size is not a major determinant of radio advertising use.

• 26.42% of the colleges in the sample have advertised on cable television within the past two years.
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In the same vein as TIME Magazine naming me, I mean YOU, as the person of the year last year, Ad Age named The Consumer as Ad Agency of the Year. So this book review I came across interested me:

Let the Seller Beware by Frank Rose. Wall Street Journal. December 20, 2006, p. D.10

“Citizen Marketers” [By Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba; Kaplan Publishing, 223 pages, $25] offers a solid, sometimes insightful explanation of how the Internet has armed the consumer — which is to say, everyone — against the mindless blather of corporate messaging attempts. The stories it tells are not all negative by any means: For every vengeful YouTube posting there are countless blogs that celebrate products as diverse (and unlikely) as Chicken McNuggets, Barq’s root beer and HBO’s “Deadwood.” The author of a blog called Slave to Target confesses that the thought of shopping at Target stores makes her “simply feel orgasmic.” The point is that in the current era of blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, mashups, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and whatever is coming next week, corporate decision-makers are losing even the illusion of control. It’s a buyer’s world. Caveat venditor, as [the authors] note: Let the seller beware.

Last March, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 48 million Americans — roughly one-sixth of the population — were posting something or other to the Web. Given that this is a nation of consumers, much of what they’re posting involves some form of comment on consumer products, none of it authorized by the product maker. As the authors note, business people will find this “either astoundingly cool or somewhat alarming.”

The real story of “Citizen Marketers” is the rise o
f the activist amateur — “amateur” meaning not only a nonprofessional but also, in the original sense, one who loves. We’re seeing a fusion — a mashup, if you will — of two formerly distinct spheres, the private and the public. Privately held brands are being defined not by their owners but by unpaid, and often unwanted, public guardians. In an age when most discussion of the public weal can be filed under “commons, tragedy of,” this is a remarkable development.