Trouble Me

I’ve always had a soft spot for newspaper films. “Spotlight,” “The Paper,” “All the President’s Men,” “The Post,” whenever these pop up, my remote control stops. Maybe it’s the story of the pursuit of ideas, the continued chase for what is really happening that they resonate with me so solidly.

Out of the recent round of commercials put together for the Super Bowl, the one that resonated with me that I can even remember it was the one produced by the Washington Post.

Check it out here:

Predictably, many internet folks aren’t seeing the forest for the trees, hitting the Post for buying Super Bowl space instead of hiring journalists. Or my personal favorite complaint that it is just a “leftie rag” or other such cultural  nonconstructive criticism.

The need for journalism has never been greater. One of the missions of the current administration has been to discredit reporting from the very first day. The screams of Fake News, the general atrophy of attention spans and a social media induced malaise about information seems to have resulted in a fear of ideas and information and a preferred stage of propaganda induced and narrative confirming subservience that renders most into baseless name calling on Facebook.

We seem to be scared of having our notions challenged, to the point where accusations come in case to threaten those notions. You hear “fake news’ and it is pretty fair to say the yeller of same has just heard something they don’t like.

While there are more avenues for transmitting and receiving data, our ability to process has been getting more and more muddled.

Blind Faith is a dangerous thing. So is looking for gossip ahead of information and that seems to be how many are digesting their informational mcnuggets.

A good friend and good journalist posited on his facebook page, admittedly opening a can of worms, asking “what we’d expect from the President’s State of the Union?” Aside from the usual waggishness including my own, there were a number of responses that took shots at the network his station is affiliated with and that just seemed weird.

I get wanting to defend “your guy” but such blind subservience reminds me about the late 70’s “Afterschool Special,” that mused how Germany evolved in the 1930s.

Learning new things, getting actual information, finding out more. These are all good things. They might not always be pleasant but they are worthy pursuits. It could reveal that some leaders aren’t who you think are, but you might have a more honest assessment of who they actually are. That is good.

Don’t be afraid.



Powering down…

I spent some time in the early 2000s as a “reboot monkey,” helping folks with their then new high speed internet connections. As jobs go, it was what it was, a way of keeping the bills paid. It popped back into my mind last evening, specifically this one guy who called and wanted to scream about all this stuff in the computer and “what your man put in the computer.” It turned out the computer was fresh out of the box and was loaded with all sorts of goodies for the new owner. The internet connection just opened the door to all these things. After he yelled at me for the requisite amount of time to feel manly,  we got things squared away, shut some things down, and he was online.

It came to mind last night as I am in day 4 of new phone ownerhood. The previous phone logged a couple of busy years and it was one of those windows I could afford to spoil me.  After 3 days of electroshock therapy from it flipping like a dead fish, and making a schmuck out of me, I was becoming one of those people, instead of periodically looking to see if it was a kid calling, it was anything and it was ridiculous and I apologize to anybody and everybody during that period. The almost ten year old reboot story came to mind and provided me with a sense of direction as I stripped the phone of the preloaded nonsense, quitting foursquare, yelp, aboutme in the process. There wasn’t anything come from it, just imagined connections, that haven’t mattered and weren’t going to, and were insulting to anybody who was actually there in the now.

So, notifications are off, as they were making me an idiot.

As they don’t matter, never mattered, all that it accomplished is that phantom buzz in your calf from where the phone was unnecessarily buzzing in your pocket. I thought I had this largely beat, having beaten my previous device into semi-silent submission, but sometimes you have to go that extra step to remember what is important and admit that you might just have an issue.

I don’t know if that stuff stems from uncertainty if you matter and getting too needy or social inept to make real connections, you take on whatever one you can get.

But as the noted philosopher Bill Murray once noted (in the climatic scene to the classic “Meatballs“), it just “doesn’t matter.” In this case, it’s the 4square check in, fb post that caused annoying buzzing.

I was asked if I got a tweet at lunch today, and it was actually good to say “No.”

Step one…


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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Lots of weather out there.

In this age of social media, I’m amused how basically having a place to post a gripe, complaint, witticism, that we don’t all have the equivalent of a digital barstool to mutter from atop of.  For every weather related facebook post or tweet showing how much snow landed, there is somebody else grousing that they didn’t get any.

Guess the Western New York snowbelt is living up to its name. Here is North Buffalo, we are looking at pavement. Hamburg, Orchard Park are looking at a foot or more. This, to me, isn’t anything dramatic. I might have even lost my wonder to a degree, because I’ve seen it before. I think that makes us the snow waistline.

That song, think about it, somebody is getting slipped  a mickey, but this is still the best version.

That said, it feels a bit like old school western new York winter. I took this photo on the way into the sabres senators game this week.
You could hear the water getting colder, but the wind chill was at your back at least. The walk back to the car? Not so pleasant.

So, I don’t get a little awed by the big snow fall that the southtowns are wrasslin with because that is sort of well, normal. When we got a few inches a week or so ago, we’ll instagrammed the beauty of it, but it didn’t slow anybody down at all.

Despite the “Battering” that CNN says we took, the four inches basically amounted to a condition my dad labels Wednesday. I suspect NBC and CNN covered not for the snowfall, but because our wings are better than the ones where the snow was really falling.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas? No, it looks like Buffalo usually does in December. Winter Wonderland? No, single digit wind chills aren’t part of that song.

Even as I write this, (morning on December 12) and can still see pavement, the Today show talks about Buffalo being hit by snow. It would be more accurate to report that half an hour south of Buffalo they got some snow. Those of us in the city were just cold.

In these days of shortened attention spans, that’s an important thing this city resident got out of my car, walked to my door and didn’t hit snow at all.

Exit Polling

I took my recycling down to the appropriate dumpsters this morning as I left for work this morning. In addition to the cereal boxes and other flotsam and jetsam, I had accumulated 28 large full color postcards having to do with the primary elections that accumulated over the past few days. It’s such a huge waste of money. There were a couple  that were addressed by hand, like some campaign worker just had cards and walked up to apartment buildings and just started addressing.

The common thread through all is that each candidate talks mostly about who they are running against and how they dislike that person. It’s basically a print version of noise, nothing is actually getting said, just a lot of rabble being roused. Whenever I read this, I can’t help but wonder what it achieves. I mean, I get it, you disagree, hence the whole running against each other thing. I picked a party because you have to for voting in primaries. But with the parties endorsing or disavowing candidates prior to the voting on primary day, I think that chases people away. You get that sense of “why bother,” and that is a little troublesome. Those who make the trek, probably aren’t as informed as they could as a result.

As my favorite fictional president once intoned, “decisions are made by those who show up.” I guess my take on that isn’t to believe what my junkmail is telling me.

It’s been known to fib.

A little less conversation

Back in the early portion of this decade, I spent some time as a reboot monkey, aiding patrons with their new “Hi-Speed Internet” Issues. It was a little like running a call in talk show for people complaining about things they didn’t fully understand. After a Florida hurricane, people would call after just getting electricity back wondering where the hell the internet was, and this was 2003. It always struck me as funny because almost nightly you’d get that guy to call in, that guy so empowered that he was just on the phone (and it was always a guy) that he would weave an impressive tapestry of obscenities and threats over what might or might not be happening on his computer. Basically, the dude personified Louie C.K.’s monologue about how everything is amazing, but nobody’s happy.

Almost ten years later and not only is high speed internet a standard home appliance, but it follows us around now. This all came back to me after the column in the link below. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News is (like myself) a twitter user and being a prominent guy, he gets a wide cross section of folks interacting with him.

The column struck me because it addresses one guy who closed his twitter account because folks were talking at him, about some failures. It was kind of ironic, because I think those of who jump onto all these social media connections do it to learn new mediums, understand more, but ultimately to make connections. And I’m that a byproduct of all the jocks and celebrities on twitter. You want to connect, celebrate the good stuff and all.

Well, can’t really do that without expecting to hear flack about the bad stuff either. Get shelled at home and the open door that is twitter (and the rest of social media) will let you know all about that, just as much as they will for the complete game win. Whoever said “opinions are like assholes, everybody has one,” was spot on, we just have more mediums now

Poetry and Pork Roast

I accidentally spotted two to three minutes of the NBA All-Star Game, good thing I was sitting down. One of my fellow wags on Twitter mused if we just couldn’t get rid of them (all star games) in every sport altogether. I wanted to protest that Hockey has had a few good ones and Baseball lends itself to a glorified pick up game, but I remembered the only Hockey game I could really cite was the All Star game in Buffalo and that was 35 years ago. So, I did the untwitter like thing and just shut up.

Got the call to work the Sabres and Penguins game today, and got the fuzzy end of the usher lollypop; checking tickets at the 200 level. To do this, you are closer to the door of a stairwell and bathroom than any tv or ice rink. So I spent the bulk of the game listening to the crowd as it sounded like something interesting might have transpired twenty feet away, but I was a glorified hall monitor. I chalk it up to a little dues paying. The upside is that you get to skate out early.  That allowed me to ride out with a friend to catch Poetry Night at the Woodlawn Diner. Not being one to suffer fools or pretention gladly, I was excited for this jaunt. Comfort food done with some care is an underrated commodity and the verse was a nice and different addition. A number of voices that spurred something in the imagination. It’s a small little place that makes you make some new friends as everybody just takes a seat whereever. Fun experience, especially to hear how others are having fun with words. Makes me forget the pronoun trouble I sometimes run into during my workaday wordsmithing.

Speaking of new voices and wordplay, I’m liking these folks a lot.

The Bright Side of Life

Maybe it’s the fact that the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates are the class of the National League, maybe it’s the largely rainless summer, these are murky times indeed.

Candidates are filling airwaves saying absolutely nothing that will affect voters welfare, but they all keep getting microphones anyway. I got a couple glossy mailers in my mail yesterday, where various candidates wrote about the guy they are trying to defeat. It’s annoying as it accomplishes nothing. Dear Candidate for (fill in office here), please tell what you would do if you got the job. Until you are ready to do that, stay the hell out of my mailbox.

The $14 for a month of HBO seems like a bargain, while the national candidates debate about… to debate

With the Olympics finally over (it seemed like a long time), you realize how weak NBC’s regular schedule during evenings really is. Do people really like “America’s Got Talent” that much? And, um, NBC, about postponing the conclusion of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies to show some sitcom’s initial episode? Not a red letter day when that decision came down.

It was nice to hear the Who close the London Games and being a smart border viewer, I watched on CTV, but given how Great Britain has such a vast array of legendary musicians, some of the choices for the closing were odd. The long tease to the “Fashion” segment made me think that we were going to get the first public performance from David Bowie in sometime, but no. Despite having died in 1991, Queen’s Freddie Mercury did the best job of getting the stadium crowd rocking via old concert video, but Jessie J should never attempt that song ever again. Out of all the performers, Eric Idle acquitted himself the best.

And what was Ryan Seacrest doing over there?

The 400th Verse

Here it be, another imaginary milestone, significant only in that 400 posts sound a lot more official than, well, 399. A few bon mots are rattling around my brain, so here is as good place as any to unburden.

The social media consultancy business must be lucrative as more people are getting into it. Given my job, if I can get to the supermarket in 3 impromptu marketing meetings or less these days, I’m doing okay. Other people swap kid pictures by the frozen foods. I avoid the craft beer section to submarine yet another FBML discussion with the guy who thinks he can fix what’s wrong with the page I’ve made for my employer. Is he right? Dear readers, (all 4 of you), you can be the judge.

I love the forum of social media, especially working for a not-for-profit. I try to be an early adopter of these things to see if there is a value that can be appropriated to further my cause. I’ve been working on a blog for those who want to accessibility of the Facebook page. It isn’t ready yet, but those are the tip of the iceburg. In this area, attitudes are kind of quaint and more than a little snobbish. I don’t believe any one medium is the key to anything, but there is nothing wrong with having a few more low or no cost avenues for getting the word out.

While Twitter and Facebook have become great avenues for getting a message out, of carrying on a conversation with our audience. There are some other options out there I’m not sold on, yet. While launching an “app” for my employer, I heard some folks dismiss twitter. While you aren’t going to hear socratic wisdom discussed in those feeds, messages do indeed get out and notes do get passed. I mention this as I try find where exactly I feel about four square. I play along a little, to see what it can do other than help me find a couple of fellow bloggers at a Buffalo Spree function.

Like any application, you can accumulate people based on people you’ve already accumulated. For reasons passing understand, the Colorado Transportation Authority wants to follow me on Four Square. Imagine the disappointment when they’ve find out that I’ve never been there, so that might limit my ability to check in on places of interest to them.

So, it is the digital version of direct mail campaigns I guess. Considering this region has people reading their papers entirely online, some cling to the Sunday tradition (that would be me) and others still kicking it old school with daily hard copies, it is good to be able to add another club to the bag.