Monday, November 30, 2009

Let Mrs. Brady Help You

Is there something you need help with right now? Something I haven't yet covered? Call Mrs. Brady! She wants to help.

Called the FloH Club, Florence Henderson is on call to help you with your technology needs. Subscription rates cost $124.99 for six months or $249.99 a year, and promise to solve ALL of your problems. Technicians are waiting by the phone to take you calls seven days a week, 8 a.m. through 2 a.m.

Henderson spoke to the New York Times last month. She said:

“I didn’t grow up with this technology,” she said. “It’s like learning a new language.”

Now, as a proficient text-messenger, Skyper and active member on Facebook, she wants to help others learn to do the same.
Later, she calls her service "roadside assistant for computers"!

And, I guess she doesn't have an equally savvy daughter to blog about these things for free! Admittedly, this blog has covered a great deal of pop culture over the course of NaBloPoMo, and also taken Twitter to task. (Henderson won't tell you how to identify a juggalo or reply to a Tweet.)

Anyway, if you have needs, you know where else to turn!

Additional Resources:
The FloH Club
Here’s a Story, of a Tech-Support Lady…, New York Times

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ryan Seacrest's Jobs

I know, Old People, is does seem like Ryan Seacrest is everywhere. Yet! He is not on your beloved Dancing with the Stars. Just E! and prime time!

Here's an abbreviated version of his working resume:
  • American Idol, host
  • American Top 40 (radio), host
  • Denise Richards: It's Complicated, executive producer
  • Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest, host
  • E! News Daily and E! News Live, host
  • Larry King Live, occasional substitute
  • Live with Regis and Kelly, occasional substitute
  • Keeping Up with the Kardashians, executive producer
  • Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, executive producer
  • On Air with Ryan Seacrest (radio, TV since cancelled), host, producer

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Technology William: Twitter Celebrities

You're on Twitter. You're posting and replying!
The celebrities are too! (There's a good chance Oprah or Ashton Kutcher brought you to Twitter.) Where are they? Right here:Are they real? Twitter is currently using a system where celebrity or well-known profiles are verified. You can check the profile's verification by looking for the blue check mark next to "verified account."

Please, keep in mind the above list is only the beginning! Take the liberty to find someone for yourself.

Additional Resources:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson: Billabong

When I was in middle school, the Washington Post published an article about popular skateboard brand Billabong. I nearly worshipped the local skate shop and Pac Sun (then Pacific Sunwear), but I generally strayed from Billabong in favor of Independent, Volcom, Girl, and DC. Nevertheless, I was cornered and accused of supporting not just an asshole (the article was not favorable), but also a pothead. Beacuse, you know.


(For the record, I didn't know! I don't know what a bong was! I'm fairly naieve.)

Well! A billabong is something else:
Billabong: Stagnant, unmoving water. (Australian.)

Australian English word meaning a small lake, specifically an oxbow lake, a section of still water adjacent to a river, cut off by a change in the watercourse, cf. an oxbow lake.[1] Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Despite some claims of a Scottish Gaelic origin,[2] the word is most likely from the Wiradjuri term bilabaƋ.

I think the Washington Post, and an Old Person, owe me an apology.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Technology Lesson: Shopping and Online + Getting the Best Bargains

My family pulls names every Thanksgiving for a Christmas gift exchange, and naturally, there was much debate regarding the spending limits and getting the best deal. Now, my family members agree that getting up before the sun rises to scoop the best Black Friday deals is far from ideal, but some Old People may disagree, and as a master Internet shopper, that worries me.

So before you camp out in front of the store at 3 a.m., I thought I'd extol my tips to Black Friday shoppers (and my mom), in hopes of providing both solace to your wallet and some shut eye.

  • Big-box stores do not always control, or share ownership under the same entity, as the official Web site. (I think this is silly, confusing, and counter productive.) This is worth knowing as prices in store, and online, may not match. Check the Web site to verify that the store will match online prices in-person before confronting a lowly employee to demand reparations.
  • If you choose to buy online, you may have early deadlines. Plan accordingly. Most merchants have posted their deadline by now, so be sure to check that before you order.
  • Worried about your private information? A store's Web store is generally safe. Buying from an unknown merchant? Look for the VeriSign logo or pay using PayPal. Verisign is generally a sign that the Web site has been verified as "safe." PayPal will transfer funds from your credit cards or accounts to the merchant without providing the merchant your private information. is also considered safe and does not provide your information to merchants.
  • Most stores provide their ads online. You can compare all ads, including the ones you accidentally recycled, side-by-side in your Internet browser to compare the best prices. Because, before you join the mobs, that's what you need to do: Compare prices from one store to another, and compare the discount from the original price. Is 15% worth the missed sleep?
  • You should also compare online. I like to use as a barometer as it will offer a bevvy of merchants, from the manufacturer to big-box stores and individual sellers. I feel like I get a good idea of the range or prices.
  • Is there a store you know you'll frequent? Sign up for the mailing list. Mailing lists often include weekly coupons, and are more likely to include special savings and coupons during the holiday season. Borders and Barnes and Noble e-mail weekly coupons customers can print at home and bring to the store. American Eagle and its related companies are having a special one-day sale online. Mailing lists also include the much beloved coupon codes, a series of letters and numbers you enter near the end of your online transaction for additional discounts. Mailing lists are free, and if you decide you receive too much e-mail, you can always unsubscribe.
  • Many Web sites are devoted to providing you with the best deals. Some will re-direct you to the direct site, some will provide coupon codes or printable coupons, and some will host the deals on their own. Here are some resources to get you started:
    Cheap College Gamers
    Coupon Cabin
    Coupon Mountain
    Fat Wallet
    Gamer Hotline
    Retail Me Not
    Tech Bargains
    Tech Deal Digger
    woot! (an article about this site is forthcoming)
    I also like to check Consumerist's Morning Deals and Lifehacker's Deals of the Day.

  • You can also search the Web for coupon codes for discounts and free shipping. Add "coupon codes" to the name of the retailer or merchant in an Internet search. You may find a code for free shipping or a discount. Retailers are smart to this now, and some may be blocked. I feel like this is sneaky, but I also can't afford anything full price. (So yes, I do it, all the time.)
Advantages to Online Shopping
  • Many retailers and merchants offer free shipping.
  • Coupons coupons coupons.
  • There's usually a larger selection of sizes, styles, colors, and number of items in stock
  • There are often lower prices online, and the prices are offered post-Black Friday
  • Free shipping, free returns, in-store returns, and special online prices are often available
  • ...And if free shipping isn't an option, it probably is if your order meets a minimum price requirement. If the order is from a larger retailer, such as Target or, see if you can combine the items on your shopping list to reach the higher price point. (Don't get just one thing if you might end up ordering again, or getting the item elsewhere.)
  • Less stress, more sleep.
  • I take a special joy in shopping online in my pajamas while watching crap TV.
  • You can have time to hem and haw over items. (And no one is trampling you for the same item.)
  • And, you have a bigger selection. You can buy anything you want.
Disadvantages to Online Shopping
  • Shipping can add up when it's not free.
  • You can't try anything on. Or pick up the item to feel it or examine it. (Sizing charts are usually available for clothes, and many items are reviewed online.)
  • Shipping can take longer than a "few days," and waiting for an item to arrive is sometimes stressful.
  • Some retailers will accept your order and then e-mail you hours later to let you know that the item is out of stock. (Looking at you, J Crew!)
  • ...That's all I've got, people. I love online shopping. I bought kitchen gadgets, a giant tub of Utz chips (shipped to Oregon!), fashion tape, clothing (in fact, I bought a hoodie last Thanksgiving from the confines of a hospital bed!), and handmade goods from Etsy last year. Nearly everything was online. And it was awesome.
Well, that's all the help I have for now, Old People. It's 11 p.m. EST here, which means it's time for me to turn in. Here's hoping none of you are camped outside in the rain and winter weather advisories waiting for a good mauling over that Xbox.

Additional Resources:
Lifehacker's Guide to Making the Most of Black Friday, Lifehacker
Busting Myths About Black Friday And Cyber Monday, Consumerist

What A&E Owns

And what does American Eagle Own?

American Eagle owns:
  • 77 Kids
  • Aerie
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Martin + Osa
Well. That was anti-climatic, wasn't it?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What A&F Owns

So! We know what Nike, Viacom, Yahoo!, and Gap own. What about Abercrombie and Fitch? (Have you been boycotting one store but not the other(s)? Oh noooo.)

Abercrombie & Fitch owns:
  • Abercrombie Kits
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Gilly Hicks
  • Hollister Co.
  • Ruehl No. 925

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Gap Owns

Yesterday we looked at Nike, following Yahoo! and Viacom. Today, Gap.

Gap owns:
  • Athleta
  • babyGap
  • Banana Republic
  • Editions
  • Gap
  • GapBody
  • GapKids
  • GapMaternity
  • Old Navy
  • Piperlime

Additional Resources:
Gap Inc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Nike Owns

Following this month's unnoficial series about who owns what...

Nike owns:
  • Air Jordan
  • Cole Hahn
  • Converse
  • Hurley International
  • Nike
  • Nike Golf
  • Nike +
  • Nike Pro
  • Nike Skateboarding
  • Niketown
  • Umbro

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Culture Lesson: Alternative Newsweeklies

An alternative newsweekly is a city-centric magpaper that focuses on local and national news, and provides additional, less traditional, coverage than the average daily newspaper.

Alternative newsweeklies are usually released weekly and free to the public. (They subsist on add revenue.)

Here’s some copy I lifted from the Wikipedia article because I am clearly a busy woman (and it seems, when my mom knows about something, I’m lazier):

Alternative papers usually operate under a different business model than daily papers.[citation needed] Most alternative papers, such as the Houston Press, the Los Angeles Free Press, the Village Voice, the New York Press and the Long Island Press are free, earning revenue through the sale of advertising space. They also often include ads for adult entertainment, such as adult bookstores and strip clubs, which are prohibited in many mainstream daily newspapers.[citation needed] They usually include comprehensive classified and personal ad sections and event listings as well.[citation needed]

Many alternative papers feature an annual "best of" issue, profiling businesses that readers voted the best of their type in the area. Often these papers send out certificates that the businesses hang on their wall or window. This further cements the paper's ties to local businesses.

Alternative newspapers represent the more commercialized and mainstream evolution of the underground press associated with the 1960s counterculture. Their focus remains on arts and entertainment and social and political reportage. Editorial positions at alternative weeklies are predominantly left-leaning, though there is a small contingent of strongly conservative and/or libertarian alt-weeklies. Their styles vary sharply; some affect a satirical, ironic tone, while others embrace a more straightforward approach to reporting.
Newsweeklies provide many of the same services as a daily newspaper. In addition to local and national news, plus a deep devotion to the code of journalism ethics (I’ll argue a deeper devotion, personally), you can get your sudoku and crossword puzzle fix.

Newsweeklies also syndicate columns in the same way Ann Landers might be found in city dailies nationwide. Except, instead, newsweeklies syndicate racier comics and columns such as The Straight Dope (it’s a weekly column much like this blog, but more reverent), Savage Love.

To the detriment of journalism education, the only newsweekly in the Newseum is New York City’s Village Voice (which is perhaps the best known example). A copy of the Voice is the Newseum’s history hall and mentions newsweeklies in passing as the rebellious, pot smoking, little brother of Real Journalism. (Bite me, Newseum.)

Many newsweeklies are owned independently. In recent years however, newsweeklies have been purchased in much the same way as daily newspapers. The Tribune Company, which owns the Baltimore Sun, the Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune (among others) previously owns altweeklies Hartford Advocate, New Haven Advocate, Valley Advocate, and Fairfield County Weekly. Village Voice media owns fourteen publications, and Creative Loafing, which has been languishing in bankruptcy court, owns four, including Washington City Paper and Chicago Reader.

*Disclosure note, I freelance for Baltimore’s newsweekly, City Paper, and happily worked as an intern and research assistant.

Additional Resources:
Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
Alternative newsweekly Wikipedia article
Village Voice Media

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson: "Man" As A Prefix

I love a portmanteau more as much as the next guy copy editor, but I am not a fan of unnecessary, overly gendered, additions to our pop culture vocabulary. Despite my misgivings, new, inane words, may be here to stay, and continue to grow in our ever expanding lexicon, so we might as well as shoulder the burden by tolerating its existence when we can't stamp it out. (That's right, Old People, stamp it out. You have my permission to correct open a discussion with the misbehaving whippersnappers!)

Most newfangled portmanteaus are my thing, but the one trend that most decidedly is not is adding "man" as a prefix to...just about anything. The general idea seems to enhance an action via an implied Y chromosome, but the effect is an emasculating, sexist term implying the meaning of the regular word is doubly wussy, because, at its default, its inherently womanly.

The most egregious of the man as a prefix is mantrum, the male tantrum, because a childish tantrum can be, apparently, manly. The word proliferated last month in reference to Jon Gosselin (and the whole affair sounded emotionally abusive, how brave, manly, and Brawny-man like is emotional abuse, anyway?) As we all know, Jon Gosselin is a bastion of gentlemanly behavior.

With disgust in mind, I present a variety of man- words, wherein "man" seems inefficient:
  • man bag, mansatchel, man purse (items used to carry things—messenger bags, briefcases, book bags—used by men)
  • manbase (mostly male fanbase)
  • man bench (a bench a man sits on, preferably outside an area, while waiting for his woman)
  • man brush (hairbrush, comb)
  • man cave (underground layer where a man does his manly things, playing Playstation, surrounded by neon beer signs, a game table, and surrounded by dank, dirty carpet; a feature men require on House Hunters)
  • man cleavage (butt crack, butt cleavage)
  • man cry ("To be emotionally or physically sad enough you feel the need to cry, but don't because you're a man.")
  • man cold (a cold)
  • man decorating (any "decorating" done by men*, specifically Christmas)
  • man period (moodiness)
  • manscaping (hygiene)
  • mansentials ("all things that are needed by a true man")
  • mantrum (tantrum)
  • Manwich (brand name for canned Sloppy Joe's introduced by Hunt's in 1969; eaten by adorable children in the commercials; “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.”)]
  • Hegan (a male vegan; particularly perplexing to me, as I know twice as many male vegans as I know female vegans)
Remove from your lexicon, forthwith!

Additional Resources:
Gosselin's Gal Pal: Jon Throws 'Mantrums', ABC News (What is 'gal pal' anyway? It's his girlfriend.)
Virility Wikipedia article

*For the record, my job at home is decorating. (Admittedly, I am too lazy or too busy in some seasons to get it done, but Christmas is mine. Last winter, when I was mostly immobile, I dictated.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson: Tweet vs. Microblog

I've noticed that the Twitter explosion has had an unfortunate affect on Old People (and some Young People): the term "tweet" is used interchangeably for long, short, analogue, and digital updates. At the risk of face-palming myself to the afterlife, I thought I might step in.

Tweet: A short 140 character update posted to one's Twitter account. Please note that the update must be 140 characters or less and must involve Twitter.

Microblog: A very short blog. When I was in college the in-class rule was a 200-word minimum. (200 words was also an idea goal, no one wants to read 5,000 words in a single entry.) If your contribution to the Internet is a few sentences at its maximum, without a specific structure (inverted pyramid or otherwise), you have a microblog. A microblog is quick, brief, and may include a photo, audio clip, or bit of text.

Blog: A singular post to a Web site. Like this one. An article on The Huffington Post, an update in a person's LiveJournal, is a blog. Again, if it's 200 words, it's no longer a microblog. A blog can be closed to membership, but it is not an e-mail.

How do you know what to call the item in your hands?

Did you post it (or are planning to) post the update to Twitter?
You have a tweet.
Is the item longer than 140 characters and not going to Twitter? You have a microblog.
Is the item longer than 140 character and going to Twitter? You have a tweet. It needs to be edited or it won't post. (If you post from your phone Twitter will cut you off after 140 characters.)
Is the item 200 words or more? It's a blog. Post that baby online!
Is the item offline? It's not a tweet, dude. It's not a blog, or a microblog.
Is the item spoken? Then it's words. Coming out of your mouth. Don't get smart by calling your words "tweets."
Is the item an e-mail? It's an e-mail. An e-mail may be public discourse in the eye of the law in a libel suit, but it's not public enough to be considered a blog, even if the material is sent to 1,000 of your closest friends and family. (That is spam.) It's not a blog. Don't get smart with me, Mom.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Yahoo! Owns

Yesterday we looked at what Viacom owns. Today? Yahoo!

First, Yahoo, like Google and AOL, owns its own subsites. These include Yahoo Alerts, Answers, Autos, Education, Entertainment, Fantasy Sports, Finance, Foods, Games, Greetings, Health, Horoscopes, Maps (Directions), Personals, Real Estate, Shopping, Sports, Travel, TV, and Weather.

Yahoo! owns:
  • Babel Fish – Yahoo! acquired the translator in the late '90s or early '00s.
  • Fire Eagle
  • Flickr
  • FoxyTunes
  • HotJobs – Yahoo! purchased HotJobs in 2002 and later add its name to the title.
  • IndexTools – Purchased and later renamed Yahoo! Web Analytics.
  • Upcoming
  • Zimbra
Additional Resources:
Yahoo! Everything

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Viacom Owns

So many channels, newspapers, and stores are larger entity. Today, we examine Viacom's ownership. For example, Martin + Osa is owned by American Eagle, Hollister is owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, and Nike manufactures Converse.

Viacom owns cable and satellite network, Paramount, various Web sites. Viacom is No. 3 media conglomerate, ranking behind Disney and News Corporation.

Viacom split in 2005, forming "old" Viacom (now called CBS Corporation) and "new" Viacom.

Viacom owns...
  • BET Networks
    BET Canada
    BET Gospel
    BET Hip-Hop
  • MTV Networks
    Atom Films
    Addicting Games
    Comedy Central
    Country Music Television (CMT)
    CMT Pure Country
    CMT Canada
    MTV Tr3s
    MTV Hits
    MTV International
    MTV News
    Nick 2
    Nick Jr.
    Nitrome Limited
    Spike (formerly TNN)
    TV Land
    TV Land Canada
    VH1 Classic
    VH1 Soul
  • Paramount Motion Pictures Group
    MTV Films
    Nickelodeon Films
    Paramount Home Entertainment

    Paramount Vantage

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Culture Lesson: Soul Cake

Are you confused about Sting's new song "Soul Cake"?

Let me help you. Soul cake is a "small round cake which is traditionally made for All Souls' Day to celebrate the dead." MMMM!

The more cakes you eat, the more souls you save from purgatory. Now be a good Christian and eat some cake! If belatedly. But in my defense, Sting's album is kind of Christmas-y (and based on this novel).

Additional Resources:
Soul Cake Wikipedia article

Monday, November 16, 2009

Culture Lesson: Christian Audigier, the man behind fashion and asshattery

Christian Audigier is a French fashion designer responsible for the decline in American fashion and increase in visible douche baggery as the primary force behind Von Dutch and Ed Hardy.

Audigier is also the man behind Smet. (Fun fact: the Web site is blocked from my office's server. Is it because Smet is appallingly ugly?) You may recognize Smet as the brand frequently emblazoned across the chest of Ghost Adventures leader Zak Bagans or the focus of a competition on Rock of Love Charm School. (Don't look at me like that. Junk television is my main weakness!)

Whatever. Audigier is a rich, rich man, and here is the background on his fashion empire:

Von Dutch Named after artist Kenny Howard (1929–1992), the label is best known as the brand on Ashton Kutcher's head during the years he appeared in Punk'd and forcing trucker hats on the heads of million across our great nation.

And let us not forget that Howard was a neo nazi.

Ed Hardy Named after artist Ed Hardy (b. 1945), the label is known for its cheesy, tacky, and tasteless large-scale artwork adorning clothing, car air freshners, cologne bottles, and Jon Gosselin. The real Hardy was a student of tattoo legend Sailor Jerry (1911–1973), which explains the "throwback" style of the clothing line, which features tigers, babes, sailors, anchors, dice, miscellaneous wild cats, meant to look like tattoo flash. It's like a non-permanent tattoo! (Please note that Audigier's bran site is

Audigier licensed the rights to Hardy's style/images in 2004.

Smet is Audigier's clothing line with French rock and roll super star Johnny Hallyday. Both were featured as judges on the aforementioned episode of Rock of Love Charm School.

Crystal Rock is Audigier's clothing line with his daughter Crystal. Daughter and clothing were the focus of a particularly opulent episode of My Super Sweet 16:

Today Audigier is better known for his friendship with Jon and Kate Plus 8ight star Jon Gosselin and his proliferation across MTV network(s).

What's most important here, Old People, is that you stray from wearing a shirt with a tiger's face and studded with crystals. (You won't even find Audigier in his clothes.)

If this has you feeling a little down, Funny or Die published a satirical video last month:

Additional Resources:
Christian Audigier Web site
"brand" Web site
Von Who?, OC Weekly, 2004
Trucker Hats, Tattoos, and Madonna, Business Week

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Half-Assed Lesson: Large Hadron Collider

(hat tip to my friend Becki; the video's star is Kate McAlpine, you can read more here)

This video should explain, in full, what the purpose of Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is and what it does. If it doesn't, I present CERN's explanation followed by a short, tidy list (it's my birthday) regarding the Collider:

From CERN:
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.

Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.

There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.
  • The LHC was built to observe smashing protons.

  • So scientists (CERN) can properly observe Higgs boson. Higgs boson is related to the Standard Model. Scientists expect, if the Standard Model is correct, a single Higgs boson every few hours.

  • It's cost billions. And it's huge.

  • Prior to the first proton firing in September 2008, and official "opening" the following month, morons across the globe were convinced the device would open wormholes and we would all die. The machine was turned on, we did not die, and then it sputtered.

  • It was turned on last month after a year of repairs. We have not yet died.

  • The project has been plagued with problems. There have been vacuum leaks, helium leaks, and problems getting the whole thing running. So it hasn't actually been on long enough yet to anything to be properly observed.

  • And, from Wikipedia:
    The novel Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown, involves antimatter created at the LHC to be used in a weapon against the Vatican. In response CERN published a "Fact or Fiction?" page discussing the accuracy of the book's portrayal of the LHC, CERN, and particle physics in general.[60] The movie version of the book has footage filmed on-site at one of the experiments at the LHC; the director, Ron Howard, met with CERN experts in an effort to make the science in the story more accurate.[61]
    OK, if you're reading Dan Brown, I'm not sure I can help you learn anything.
Additional Information:
Official Web site
Wikipedia article
Large Hadron Collider Rap Video Is a Hit, National Geographic
The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate, The New York Times
Is The Large Hadron Collider Being Sabotaged from the Future?, io9
Large Hadron Collider switched on after year of repairs, The Times Online

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Culture Lesson: GWAR

Oderus Urungus (GWAR) by Miles Tsang
Photo of Gwar's Oderus Urungus by Miles Tsang

GAWR is an American metal band well-known for its raucous live shows, use of fake blood and colored substances, and elaborate costumes. The group is not Old People friendly, but is mildly enjoyable in its bad behavior revelry.

A list, for quick learning:

  • GAWR was founded in Richmond, VA. in 1985
  • Singer and founding member David Brockie, 46, performed in Death Piggy, a band that used "crude props" and performed "mini-plays" to accompany its music.
  • Brockie is GWAR's singer and performs as "Oderus Urungus." Urungus has a cuttlefish for his male reproductive organ. The prop sprays a fluid substance into the crowd. (Most of GAWR's props do.)
  • Brockie was arrested in North Carolina in 1990 and almost deported—Brockie was a Canadian citizen at the time—for obscenity.
  • And Brockie is, fittingly, a correspondent for Fox News' Red Eye. It does not appear thatRed Eye recognizes that Urungus is a fictional character, with a man in a suit. Video below.
  • Costumes are created from foam, laytex, and rubber. (Insert GWAR-appropriate (dirty) joke HERE.)
  • The group includes theatrics during its live show. In addition to spraying substances on the crowd, celebrities are "lampooned." Former President George Bush has often been a focus of the show, as have Ronald Reagan, Hitler, Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Osama bin Laden, and Bernie Maddoff. The celebrites are impersonated via puppets and band members/assistants in costume. When I saw GWAR at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, in December 2007, one "celebrity" included Hawthorne Heights' Casey Calvert. Calvert died accidentally in his tour bus the previous month. The crowd booed and I was effectively done with GWAR.
  • "Lampoon" is another way of saying beheaded and frequently getting a giant wang shoved up the butt. But there's also fire dancing and generic freak show features! Because the point is more about a horror funhouse, no matter its probable resulting revulsion for Old People.
  • In addition to the above Jerry Springer video, GWAR has appeared in Viva La Bam, Mystery Date, S.F.W, Zoolander (without costumes) and Empire Records. The group also wrote a song for Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door.
  • The group was nominated twice for Grammys but lost to Metallica and Nine Inch Nails.
  • GWAR performed at the 2009 Gathering of the Juggalos.

GWAR live Toronto, 2008 by Miles Tsang
Photo of Gwar's crowd covered in blood by Mark Coatsworth

Additional Resources:
Official Web site
Gwar Wikipedia article
Oderus Urungus of GWAR becomes correspondent on Red Eye,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Culture Lesson: Rickroll(ing)

A Rickroll is an Internet-born prank wherein one person promises or entices another with something interesting or desirable but instead sends Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."

At its most simple, and primitive, I might send my mother an e-mail with a link that promises vacation photographs, but instead loads the YouTube video for the song. Alternatively, I might receive an instant message regarding Mad Men spoilers and instead find myself at a Web site playing the video.

Millions have taken advantage of the hilarious, seemingly inoffensive prank, turning the joke into an international phenomenon.

Thankfully, the Rickroll is so beloved as an Internet meme that it has been taken offline! Flash mobs have taken to the streets with protesters wearing khaki trench coats and carrying boom boxes, while similar tactics have been brought to the doors of Scientology centers by protesters representing Internet pranksters Anonymous. Four Eastern Washington University games were "interrupted" in March 2008 with an Astley impersonator who was supported by lip syncing fans and Anonymous impersonators.

Naturally, the meme has spawned other memes. The Barackroll features the president reciting the words to the song and another merges Obama's "Never Gonna Give You Up" speech with a John McCain rally. Other versions include Kanye West and political pundits, and the term itself is used for a generic Internet-based bait and switch of any kind. (I promise not to Rickroll you with "Raining Blood" Mom and Dad.)

Here is a BarackRoll:

43-year-old Astley is a good sport: Not only did he call the Scientology protesters "hilarious," he told The L.A. Times in the same interview that he thinks  the phenomenon is "bizarre and funny." Astley also thanked 4chan founder "moot" in the 2009 Time 100. (Astley penned the piece, and also called the movement "bonkers.")

In the ultimate display of good humor and sportsmanship, Astley joined Cartoon Network to Rickroll the entire American public:

Rick Astley performed on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float! The puppets on the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends float sang "With A Little Help from My Friends" and "You're My Best Friend" in 2006 and 2007 respectively, but the nationwide Rickroll far surpasses any past or future plans. My general impression at the time was a head scratch across the U.S. instead of the Greatest Rickroll of All Time, but I suppose what this blog is for. Now it's my hope that Old People across the land will have a grip on the cultural significance and joy related to the Rickroll.

18 million Americans and more than one year later, Wired has declared the prank dead. I disagree, but only because my love for the song runs so deep that I'm not yet tired of it...Old People, I won't stop you from Rickrolling your colleagues, peers, friends and family.

Additional Resources:
Rick Roll Wikipedia article

Pop Up Video "Never Gonna Give You Up"
Rickroll Database (Enter a URL to see if it's a Rickroll.)
Web Scout exclusive! Rick Astley, king of the 'Rickroll,' talks about his song's second coming, L.A. Times
moot, The 2009 Time 100
Wired's Guide to Hoaxes, Wired

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Culture Lesson: Internet Meme

This is a Lolcat
This Lolcat is an example of an Internet meme

An Internet Meme (pronounced "me me") is an Internet-based in-joke, usually with a silly, awkward, or odd basis, which spreads quickly across the Internet.

A meme can be a strange, funny video found online or a combination of images and text. The context ranges from crude to cute (think laughing babies). Memes can also spawn from self-promotion or corporate advertising. However, better known memes are accidental overnight sensations. The meme may often find a home outside the Internet, but in most cases, a meme is picked up by newspapers and nightly news long after the meme has finished its run.

Here's a description from Web site Squidoo, who recently ranked the top 10 memes:

An internet phenomenon or a meme is an image, video, phrase or simply an idea that spreads from one person to another seemingly for no logical reason at all. When people see a meme, no matter how silly it usually is, they find it amusing for one reason or other and forward it to their friends; soon millions of people know about it, thanks to how fast the information can spread online and the viral effect.

I like Wikipedia's definition, so I'll share that too:

At its most basic, an Internet meme is simply the propagation of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the Internet (for example, email, blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc). The content often consists of a saying or joke, a rumor, an altered or original image, a complete website, a video clip or animation, or an offbeat news story, among many other possibilities. An Internet meme may stay the same or may evolve over time, by chance or through commentary, imitations, and parody versions, or even by collecting news accounts about itself. Internet memes have a tendency to evolve and spread extremely quickly, sometimes going in and out of popularity in just days. They are spread organically, voluntarily, and peer to peer, rather than by compulsion, predetermined path, or completely automated means.

There's not much else to know, really. Old People will likely scratch their head after seeing various contributions to Lolcats, so, Old People, just know it's silly, kind of odd, marginally funny, and an inside joke to the Internet's peoples.

To defense my dismissive attitude, Bobbie Johnson, technology writer for The Guardian, wrote in 2008:

Most internet memes fall into that category - a mixture of context, insanity and peer pressure that creates a snowball that's funny for a bit before becoming ubiquitous and tiresome.


Some well-known memes include Lolcats, Courage Wolf, Fred, and Crasher Squirrel. (Old People, I want you to know I didn't know who Fred was, until I saw his face plastered all over stuff at FYE last month.) Check the links below for more lists and examples of popular memes.

Additional Resources:
Internet Meme Wikipedia article

List of Internet phenomena Wikipedia article
Know Your Meme
, a meme database!
Top 20 YouTube and Video Memes of All Time, Mashable
Top 10 Internet Memes, Squidoo
The Internet and Memetics, Garry Marshall, an apparent academic paper detailing and examining Internet memes
How Boxxy brought the web to its knees, The Guardian
I Can Has Cheez Burger, the Lolcats home page
Lolcat Wikipedia article
Crasher Squirrel Wikipedia article

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson: Natch

Natch (pronounced Naaah-atch; rhymes with batch, latch, catch): An abbreviated, one-syllable version of “naturally.” Frequently used in Internet-based editorials to convey as sense of easygoing knowledge.

Examples of "natch" in action:

Today, he got to show that he has a newer model (2.0 version, natch)—the Wall Street Journal reports, "The Dow had been flirting with the 10000 level throughout the session, and finally reached the psychologically important mark around 1:22 p.m. The measure hasn't traded at that level since Oct. 7, 2008, and hasn't closed above 10000 since Oct. 3, 2008."

("Dow 10K Hat Guy Gets To Wear New Dow 10K Hat Today!" Gothamist)

...White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who explains with her infinite wisdom what America is doing wrong and reveals her favorite president (Kennedy, natch).
("Helen Thomas On Doing The Right Thing, Gay Marriage" Jezebel)
The driver, in an SUV (natch) was tailgating, weaving, speeding, and otherwise acting like a maniac (and in full violation of the Vatican’s recent edict on the "pastoral care" of fellow road users).

("Drive Like Hell" How We Drive)

Go forth and type like Young People!

Additional Resources:
Urban Dictionary definition
Wiktionary definition

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Technology Lesson: RSS

RSS: An abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. RSS allows you to subscribe and share ("distribute") news, blogs, audio, and video in the form of "feeds."

The similarly worded definition from The Associated Press Stylebook:
An abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication. A protocol for subscribing and distributing feeds that notify people of new entries on news sites, blogs, podcasts or other online information sources. Also RSS feed.
And from Wikipedia:
RSS (most commonly translated as "Really Simple Syndication" but sometimes "Rich Site Summary") is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.
What does that mean for you? It means timely updates from your favorite sources without having to visit a site's address. (It's like getting an e-mail when your site updates.) To take advantage you need a news aggregator (see here) or feed reader. I use Google Reader, but there are a variety of options available to you!

Additional Resources:
RSS Wikipedia article
What Is RSS?
RSS feeds: A primer, Unclutterer

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson: Jerbang

Jerbang is a slang word for people who hang out with juggalos.

OK, that's not fair. "Jerbang" is a somewhat derogatory term for sloppy and slovenly young men and women who revel in an offshoot culture devoted to extreme beverages, poorly orchestrated heavy metal, and a feigning disinterest in moral values. In short, a juggalo is a jerbang, but a Korn, Limp Bizkit, and mall rat is a jerbang too. To be certain, you would not lovingly call you roommate, child, significant other, or friend a jerbang. But you would certainly reserve it for anyone in line to see Buckethead (he's a 40-year-old dude who was in Guns N Roses from 2000–2004 and wears a white mask and—I kid you not, Mom—a KFC bucket on his head).

I learned the word from Andy Sandimas, and because the word had such a significant impact in my vocabulary during my college years, I asked if she would provide her own definition. She obliged over Twitter, writing:
a nu metal kid who shops @ hot topic, wears baggy clothes, spike jewelry, is kind of trashy, usually 12 – 21
The following, rambling, definition was provided on Urban Dictionary. It could use some editing but otherwise more than suffices:
a jerbang is any kid that looks like they are falsely debating suicide every day of their life. the type that wears so much eye make up they cant see their feet. they dress in all black and talk about raving even though none of them know what a rave really is. they shop and work at hot topic and spencers and thinks clowns are cool and so is fire. they dont associate witheach other even though they all think they are the darkest most put upon member of the human race and that basically the world is out to get them even though they are mostly all trust fun kids because seriously who can afford $130 raver pants with streamers hanging off of them and still say they are low income and hated. nthnx.
they listen to icp and may refer to themselves as a juggalo while indulging in such beverages as faygo. they think that korn is really heavy and they feel jonothan davis's pain when he sings about his father touching him. they secretly dislike slipknot because they yell too much but they think they are cool anyway because they all wear masks. rage against the machine was cool because they hated the government and most jerbangs all think that che gueveras face and the anarchy symbol make them peace leaders and doing something to help the government be cleansed.
Harsh! But I worked at Hot Topic one summer in high school, and therefore, dutifully agree.

Additional Resources:
@andysandismas' tweet (background may be NSFW)
Jerbang, Urban Dictionary
LOL Jerbang (a blog devoted to sharing photographs of jerbangs with humorous captions)
Hot Topic Core, Your Scene Sucks

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New, biased, labels

Hello, dear readers!

You may have noticed new labels affixed to lessons. "Things we like" and "things we do not like" were added at the end of October. I added them to assist readers and my mother, who sometimes poses the begin of a philosophical debate by saying, "Now, don't yell but do we like X?" Since the blog answers why or why not, I thought it would make it easier.

Alternatively, when something is on the tip of your tongue, it will help cull the entries. "I know I didn't like those religious nutjobs, but I can't remember your name!" Never fear, dear reader, you're thinking of the Westboro Baptist Church!

I also hope this will make it easier for your to point your finger and shriek, "You're biased!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Delete Tweets

Oh, crap, you there's a critical typo in your Tweet! You can't edit Tweets, but you can delete Tweets. Here's how:

FIND the Tweet you want to delete in your Twitter feed. Note that when you hover your mouse over your Tweet you see a small star and a trash can.

CLICK the trash can.

OH CRAP. Are you sure? Twitter is concerned. Note Twitter's concern that this can not be undone.

You're sure? CLICK OK.

Good job! Your Tweet is deleted.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Delete Your Twitter Account

Oh no! It turns out you hate Twitter! Well, that's OK. It's easy to delete your account, and I'll try not to take it personally.

The first thing to do is turn on your computer, open your browser, and log in to Twitter.

Then click the SETTINGS link at the top of the navigation bar on the Web page.

At the bottom of the page CLICK DELETE MY ACCOUNT.

Twitter will take you to the above page. Look at that poor, crying bird! Why would you make a cartoon bird cry?!

Make sure you read Twitter's information on this page before continuing:

Before you delete your account, know this:

  • This action is permanent: account restoration is currently disabled.
  • You do not need to delete your account to change your username. (You can change it on the settings page. All @replies and followers will remain unchanged.)
  • Your account may be viewable on for a few days after deletion.
  • We have no control over content indexed by search engines like Google.
  • If you're creating a new account and want to use the same user name, phone number and/or email address associated with this account, you must first change them on this account before you delete it. If you don't, the information will be tied to this account and unavailable for use.
So you're good, then? OK.


Poof! You're gone! Success.

If you're sure, click TKTKTK.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Recover Your Twitter Password

You signed up for Twitter! You learned how to log in! But you forgot the password your daughter set up for you your password. Don't panic! I'll show you how to recover it.

You might have already tried to log in to Twitter. If you haven't, but know you forgot your password, open your browser and visit

Following similar lessons from logging in, click the blue box at the top right of the screen. After suffering the indignity of a log in, or recognizing that you've forgotten your password, click FORGOT YOUR PASSWORD?

Twitter will direct you to the above page. You will need to type your e-mail or Twitter username.


Twitter might ask for your phone number, too. Since I've provided my phone number to Twitter, I had to provide my phone number. (Providing your phone number will enable you to Tweet from your phone.) Enter your phone number. Click SEND INSTRUCTIONS.

Twitter will let you know if your information is on file. If not, you won't see the above confirmation and will be asked to provide your information again.

Check your e-mail. A message from Twitter with information for resetting your password should arrive soon. Follow those instructions to reset your password.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Reply to a Tweet

This week we've learned how to sign up, sign in, and post a Tweet. Now I'll show you how to reply to a Tweet.

Before we begin you will want to turn on your computer and sign in to Twitter.

Below is a screenshot of my Twitter homepage. For this lesson, I want to reply to @iexitmusic's Tweet. @iexitmusic is my good friend Christina, who is also authorized as an author for this blog.

If I move my cursor over the left end of Christina's Tweet, a small grey arrow will appear. Click the arrow.

Twitter has put Christina's name in the box at the top of the page, as you'll see below. When my reply posts to Twitter's timeline, it will include a link to Christina's specific Tweet.

After you've clicked the arrow and given the Twitter user's name, provide the content of your reply. For this example I said I'm a fan of Mastodon.

After completing your message, click REPLY:

After you click Reply, Twitter will post your Tweet and it will appear in the timeline.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Post a Tweet

You've finally joined Twitter and signed up for an account. It's time to start Tweeting!

This is your Home Page.

Direct your cursor to the text box at the top of the page. You want to type in the area that asks WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Type your Tweet in the text box. Note the number at the top right of the text box. Twitter will help you count characters as you type. I have 46 of 140 characters remaining.

When you are satisfied with your Tweet, click UPDATE or assertively hit the ENTER key.

After a successful update, the Tweet will appear in your timeline. Look, there it is!

Now that you know HOW to Tweet, be sure to read this guide by Maggie Mason for The Morning News to help keep your Twitter etiquette in check.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Log In (and out) to Twitter

This is what you see at when no one is logged in. (If someone is logged in, skip to the bottom of this page to see how to log out.) At the top right-hand corner you'll see a dark blue box with rounded edges that says SIGN IN. Click the box.

This is what the screen will look like after you click SIGN IN.

Type your username in the top field, under USERNAME OR EMAIL. If you forget your username, try typing the e-mail address used to sign up for Twitter. You will need to move your cursor, using the mouse, or track pad, to this field.

Enter your password in the second field under PASSWORD. You will need to move your cursor, using the mouse, or trackpad, to this field.

Click the blue button under your password. It says SIGN IN.

In theory, you'll see your page displaying your friends feed, a play to enter Tweets, Trending Topics, and more. You can see my Twitter feed, from last week, above. But Twitter will also take you to the last Twitter page you visited after your sign in, so after I signed in I saw this instead:

the Twitter page for Tanya from The Real World. (Moderately embarrassing!) So if you've signed in and you see someone else's page, including a page you haven't visited, don't panic. If you've signed in, and the navigation bar at the top right looks like this one, click HOME. If it brings you to your Twitter home, you've succeeded.

If not, sign out, and sign in using your login.

When you're done with Twitter, here's how you log out:

Click SIGN OUT, located in the navigation bar, at the top right of the page. This screen shot is taken from my home page on Twitter, but the navigation bar is at the top of every page. After you've clicked SIGN OUT, you'll be taken to the page you see before your signed in.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Technology Lesson: How to Sign Up for Twitter

So I've convinced you that Twitter has its benefits? Here's how you sign up for an account.

So! You're ready to do This Thing! You can sign up anywhere on Twitter's Web site, but we'll start here at Click the green box. It says SIGN UP NOW.

This is what you see after you click SIGN UP NOW. You'll need to fill out this form to continue.

Fill in your first name. You can fill in your last name too, if you want. Or, if you prefer an alias, enter that name instead. (Keep in mind, you can be found through Google. If you Google my name, my Twitter will be one of the results.)

Enter your desired username. For this example I've filled in OldPeopleLesson. I've used all of the available characters. Note the green check mark next to the field. No one has signed up with this username, so it is OK to use.

Now enter a password. You'll need at least six characters. Twitter advises that you "be tricky." Try a combination of letters and numbers, and make sure you will be able to remember it. I've provided links with advice regarding password selection under Additional Resources.

Twitter thinks my password is "Good." But if I make my password more complicated...

Twitter will call my password "Strong." You should aim for a Strong rating.

Provide Twitter your e-mail address for account verification. Twitter will provide a check mark if your e-mail is verified. (For example, if I typed an address that didn't exist, or typed "" by accident, instead of ".com", Twitter would let me know.)

You'll also have to type the words under your e-mail address. This is to verify you are not a robot (or "spam bot") and a real person. The words are provided in an image. If the text is too hard to read, click GET NEW WORDS. You'll be provided with a new set of words. If you are vision impaired, or just need additional assistance, click HEAR A SET OF WORDS to hear the provided words.

There is also a small check box under your e-mail address. If the box is checked, Twitter has permission to send you updates. If you'd rather your didn't receive e-mails, uncheck the box. (You probably want these e-mails. Twitter rarely sends message. E-mail is generally reserved for changes in Terms of Service or you receive direct messages or new followers.)


You've done it! Congrats! Now Twitter wants to help you find friends already on Twitter. Twitter is going to search your address book for friends. Twitter can search Yahoo!, GMail, and AOL e-mail accounts. You're probably safe providing your password, but if you're not comfortable you can skip it. You can do so by clicking "SKIP THIS STEP" under the CONTINUE button at the bottom of the page.

Twitter's next page is a list of famous people on Twitter. You can see Fred Durst and Floyd Mayweather are two suggestions. Feel free to scroll through the suggested members. You can skip this too. Update: As of November 16, this may no longer be a feature.

After skipping, or completing, those steps, you'll see your Twitter home. This is what mine looked like when I finished. At the top of the page, under WHAT ARE YOU DOING? is an area I can type my Tweets. After I've typed my Tweets, I can click UPDATE to send my Tweet.

To the right I can see my friends, replies, Trending Topics, and more.

You should eventually get an e-mail from Twitter confirming your account. I must have accidentally deleted the e-mail, but I'm fairly certain it's fairly similar to the one below, which Twitter sent when I signed up two years ago:

Now that you have an account, it's time to start Tweeting!