The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


Trust Me, I’m Going Somewhere With This
November 16, 2008, 6:02 am
Filed under: Media | Tags: ,

When I was in junior high school (which would have been roughly between 1979 and 1981, but I don’t actually remember which year it was within those), some of my classmates got religion all at the same time and affirmed their new faith by burning all their Led Zeppelin, Queen and Styx albums because if you played them backwards, they were telling you to worship Satan! I guess they went to see the same traveling preacher at some weird church in town and, um, were moved. It creeped me out how it all happened simultaneously.

I remember kids that were stoners on Friday and by Monday they were all looking like they scrubbed themselves with SOS pads and dressed neater than usual and telling me that rock music was evil and I was going to hell and I needed to burn all my record albums too (of course, some of these kids laughed at my musical tastes at the time). I’m not saying my junior high school became like the Village of the Damned or anything with a bunch of pretty blond boys and girls running around with weird eyes, but there were a good 3 or 4 classmates that bought into it, and everybody noticed it, including teachers.

But let’s examine this whole playing albums backwards thing. You made what is presumably a lifetime commitment to something (or more like, you’re now committed to making a pest out of yourself to people who have religious beliefs that are different from yours and really don’t want to hear your sales pitch for freaky-deaky fundie black helicopter end-times paranoia) but you did it on the basis of hearing what you think or were led to believe were satanic messages on record albums when they were played for you *backwards.* The way they weren’t intended to be listened to.

By that logic should we play commercials backwards? Newscasts? Campaign speeches? I bet that would have been real interesting in this most recent election cycle, and there’s plenty of room for each side to spin what the other is saying to suit what they’re selling. And we think the only thing we would have learned from that is that Sarah Palin has an annoying whiny voice whether you listen to her talk forwards or backwards.

OTOH, could this have been used to convince the “Obama is a Muslim in cahoots with terrorists” crowd otherwise if we played his speeches backwards? Let’s face it, the “OIAMICWT” crowd won’t take Obama’s own word for it no matter how much that myth has been debunked over and over and over again. Or, would playing John McCain’s speeches backwards have convinced people he wasn’t really a Bush-bot? Hard to say, it would have depended on who was doing the spinning.

That’s all academic now — Barack Obama will take office on January 20 thanks to rational Americans (including myself) who were fed up with the other side, Oklahoma’s 7 electoral votes be damned.

Almost 30 years later this still kind of blows my mind. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to make a major change in your life, whether it’s adopting a religious faith or a new diet or whatever. But if the reasons are grounded in reality and the result of something that would normally happen, then good for you. For example, I had a health issue a couple of years ago that forced me to cut certain things out of my diet (nuts, beans, corn, seeds). It’s hard to deal with but I have to deal with it so I had to make the change if I don’t want to, basically, have my intestine explode one day and kill me or something (I admit a weakness for Reese’s peanut butter cups. Smooth peanut butter — or the stuff they put in Reese’s peanut butter cups — I was told was OK. I guess it’s OK, I’m not dead yet. But the crunchy stuff? No way). But in the case of my diet there were real, SERIOUS reasons behind making a major life change. Changing your life based on playing music albums backwards … ummmm, not the same thing!

I wonder what happened to those kids. I wound up in high school with some of them and haven’t seen any of them in at least 23 or 24 years.

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Because Everybody Has to Be Good At *Something* (UPDATED 10.28.2008)

UPDATE: Gotta love these.

————————————

Texas A&M fans don’t have much to cheer about football-wise this season, but you wouldn’t know it from these smack videos from AggieReport.com (via YouTube). Click the magick words for the Oklahoma State video.

Deadspin took notice on October 23:

Their football team may 2-5 and winless in their conference (and they haven’t even played Oklahoma or Texas yet), but the Texas A&M boosters behind AggieReport.com are winning at least one battle this season. Their smack-talking YouTube videos are a surreal little slice of internet joy.

Click to see the Kansas State, Iowa State, and Texas Tech videos.

The OSU video was posted in late September and seems the most disappointing compared to the KSU and ISU videos, which are hilarious. I would have thought by the start of this season people had finally decided the press-rage, screaming, angry Mike Gundy rant of a year ago had finally exhausted its usable comedy material, and this attempt to lurch out every last precious drop of it seems a little halfhearted. Either way, at least OSU — largely the redheaded stepchild in this state when it comes to college football — has a good team to cheer for if it gets everybody’s mind off the loss of untold millions of Boone Pickens money, necessitating the postponement of OSU’s grand plans for whatever they were going to do with it.

Actually, the unfortunate news about Pickens’ donation probably would have made for more smack gold if the overall real-life situation (i.e., the fact that we’re careening head-first without a helmet into a deep recession/potential depression) wasn’t so starkly bleak.

Texas A&M took their report card home to Mommy and so far she’s sticking this to the refrigerator with a cheesy magnet:

18-14 loss against Arkansas State
28-22 win at New Mexico
41-23 loss against Miami (FL)
21-17 win against Army
56-28 loss at Oklahoma State
44-30 loss against Kansas State
43-25 loss against Texas Tech

with games upcoming versus Iowa State (as of right now this game could be billed as the Big 12 Toilet Bowl), Colorado, Oklahoma, at Baylor and at Texas. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Aggies could go winless in conference. I anticipate and dread a little what the clever kids have in store for the Buffs, Bears, Sooners and Longhorns in video form.



An Open Letter to KRXO, the Only Remaining Tolerable Music Station in Oklahoma City
October 6, 2008, 7:57 am
Filed under: Media, music, Oklahoma | Tags: , ,

This is borne out of the last several months of being forced to listen to KRXO every night at the supplemental job that I took a while back and have since quit (not because I got sick of listening to KRXO, which as far as Oklahoma City music stations is a hell of lot more tolerable than the others). But still … nobody’s perfect.

Dear KRXO,

It appears that your classic-rock format really seems to be stuck in a rut. Not all of your audience is made up of people that were stoners in high school that may or may not still be stoners, but they’ll get back to you on that after they’ve gone to get some munchies. With that in mind, I hate to tell you that maybe the repeated servings of Led Zeppelin, Queen, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, and ZZTop are, well, getting boring and its time to mix it up just a little bit more?

I maybe don’t listen to KRXO as much as I should (sorry, National Public Radio comes first as far as my listening habits are concerned) but I noticed when listening to your station for an extended period of time over this past summer, that you’d throw in songs by the likes of U2 or The Police or The Cars. That’s good, I guess, but wait a minute: When you went classic rock years and years ago, didn’t you promote yourselves as “no punk, no funk, no elevator junk?” Hey, weren’t these bands back in the day considered “New Wave?” If memory serves, yes! This then to me begs the question, “What do you consider ‘classic rock’?” Do you measure it in terms of timelessness, popularity, or what? Careful, there, you’ve kinda been playing bands that would have been verboten in your mix about 15 to 20 years ago. What gives?

Look, if David Bowie (let’s face it, Bowie is in a class all by himself because he didn’t fit neatly into one of rock’s myriad sub-genres. He did a little bit of everything and across multiple media considering his film work. Maybe he’s beyond everyones’ scope here) already has a place on KRXO’s approved “classic rock” mix (how many times have I heard “Space Oddity” or some other Bowie evergreen on your station), and if you’ve already tried to squeeze in U2, The Police, and The Cars, then the following artists such as R.E.M., The Clash, The Cure, Talking Heads, and The Ramones should be added that by definition fall under “classic rock” based on the following criteria:

a) It has been 25 or more years since each band published its first legitimate recording. And some reputable rock critic, or more, has declared any or all of these bands among the greatest of the last 25 to 30 years, and they’ve been tagged with big words like “influential” and the like (if I’m not mistaken it was The Ramones touring the UK in 1976 that actually helped inspire the UK punk movement). And in some cases, the music itself, at least to my ears, grows timeless — The Ramones’ short, fast, simple songs could be a product of a few minutes ago or a few decades ago and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

b) In the case of some of these bands (not all), one or more band members is deceased — sad but true, an artist’s contributions grow in value when they are dead and, therefore, are rendered incapable of producing. The Cars’ Ben Orr is dead, so is The Clash’s Joe Strummer. So are 3/4s of the original Ramones. Let’s face it, KRXO, your playlist as it is is full of dead people: Most of Lynyrd Skynyrd; John Bonham; Freddie Mercury; Bon Scott, the original singer from AC/DC; that guy from T. Rex; Jimi Hendrix; 2/4ths of The Beatles on those occasions you actually play The Beatles outside of that 7 a.m. Sunday morning program of yours … I could go on with the necrology but I think you get it.

The upshot of this is: Sorry, I kinda thought being dead was a requirement to be played on your station.

d) As a 40something, this is some of the music of MY youth and I want to hear it again too and it would be nice to hear it when I’m not near my computer so I can stream a channel that would gladly program that and nothing more.

And let’s face it, sometimes you get “attached” to something and have a little trouble letting it go:

During one particular week this past summer, somebody insisted on playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” at some point during the graveyard. Why was this? Couldn’t you play anything else? Every damned night for about a week, usually between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. you broke out with this song and deftly sandwiched it between, oh, say, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band and yet another playing of “Rock And Roll” from your worn-out copy of Led Zeppelin IV. Why? It’s not a great song, to me it’s one of the also-rans in the Queen catalog. But hey, at least you’re not playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the 9,999,999th time (and that total includes the 50-ish times I’ve heard it on your station again in recent weeks).

Let’s see what else you overplayed during the graveyard this past summer. Oh, yes. REO Speedwagon and Journey were annoying when they were in their prime — both groups just a little bit too clean cut (despite being long-haired) to be scary authority-flauting rock stars, thanks to frontmen that were about as threatening as Beanie Babies, and yet not-clean-cut enough otherwise (Moralistic Scold: “He’s singing about loving, and touching, and squeezing … and he’s not singing about a stuffed animal or bathroom tissue!!! Horrors!!!”). And yes both bands (or I guess what’s left of them) played shows at the Zoo Amp this past summer (I think it was the Zoo Amp, but anyway), and I guess you were getting everybody excited for something that would probably have been a bigger deal sometime between Ronald Reagan’s first and second terms of office. In that case I can understand the repeated playings of chestnuts like “Keep On Lovin’ You” (groan) and “Don’t Stop Believin'” or “Wheel In the Sky,” respectively.

You could maybe do just a teeny bit better. After all, you’re the only tolerable music station left in Oklahoma City — thank you for not playing country music, or meth rock, or teeny-girl pop. And certainly thank you for the OU Sooners games (although I wish you’d also broadcast the Sooner men’s basketball games — believe it or not I can’t get KOKC worth a damn down in Norman after sundown inside the building in which I work).

It isn’t like I’m asking you to become The Spy (although I really really miss that station), but it would be nice if you were less the soundtrack from Dazed and Confused (and don’t get me wrong, that was a great little movie). And I’m not asking you to change your format and start playing “alternative” rock — frankly, programming alternative rock has been a failure — twice — in Oklahoma City (and both times it was done by Clear Channel-owned stations, so its entirely possible that it was the wrong company doing it! C’mon, Renda people, you could probably do it better, why not give it a shot?)

But I am saying maybe its time you sit down and re-examine what constitutes “classic rock.” Not all of us want to hear the crap on The Buzz, we’re too liberal for country music and don’t want to be put to sleep by everything else.

Thank you.

— ster.



Did Kern Get Death Threats or Not?
March 13, 2008, 9:37 am
Filed under: Media, Oklahoma, Serious stuff | Tags: , , , , ,

The Tulsa World (amazingly, a major metropolitan newspaper in Oklahoma not owned by anyone named Gaylord) is reporting that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is now sifting through the thousands of e-mails Kern has received in the wake of her homophobic tirade released last week by the Victory Fund via YouTube.

[OSBI Spokeswoman Jessica] Brown said Tuesday, “There are a lot of e-mails to the representative that say, ‘You ought to die,’ rather than, ‘I am going to kill you.’

“I wouldn’t characterize them as death threats,” she said.

But Brown said OSBI computer analysts are working to find the senders and that some might be interviewed to assess their intent. She said it’s possible that the OSBI will refer some to district attorneys for prosecution.

So, what was it? An unintentional exaggeration to rally her side to her cause? Kind of a disproportionate version of a little kid telling her parents that the big mean bullies were out to get her? Who knows, but — if I’m reading the Tulsa World correctly, if she wasn’t wholly forthcoming about receiving death threats, I think that’s kind of sorry.

But keep firmly in mind: Death threats are in and of themselves inappropriate, even if they’re aimed at someone like Sally Kern. Sad to say though, that which should take place of death threats and other petty bullshite — i.e. open communication and rational adult dialogue about issues — are things that I seriously doubt that Kern and those of her ilk would have any interest in seeing as how their minds are pretty much made up and absolutely positively nothing will change them.

(Hey wait — rational adult dialogue? Does someone who equates homosexuality with terrorism sound like a rational adult? What the hell am I saying?)

I felt like poking around sites such as the American Family Association, the Eagle Forum, and Focus on the Family to see where Kern lifted some of her talking points … but I had just eaten a (rather lousy) chicken parmesan TV dinner and I felt it starting to come back up, so I stopped, not wanting to exascerbate the nauseated feeling.

What’s really sad for me is that I’m so caught up in the Kern thing that it’s diverted my attention from that which keeps me going in March: The buildup to the NCAA Tournament. All five of my dear readers know how much I love the roundball. But it’s hard to ignore this state embarassment in light of how badly Oklahoma wants to play with the big boys (including the possible acquisition of an NBA team whose Oklahoma City-based ownership group wants to move them here). Remarks like Kern’s don’t make the rest of the nation want to let go of those dated, negative stereotypes about Oklahomans that have nauseated me and so many others for years. The timing is just horrible on a lot of levels.



Thanks Sally Kern. You Have Made Me Ashamed to Be an Oklahoman.
March 10, 2008, 6:49 am
Filed under: Media, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

Just when I try to fill my thoughts with the people, past and present, that make Oklahoma a wonderful place to be associated with, including the likes of S.E. Hinton, the Flaming Lips, and Wayman Tisdale, along comes something like this that serves to be a cold, hard slap in the face that not everything is fun and frolic in the Sooner State, and I’m thrown back into the dark reality of things that make me absolutely ashamed to be an Oklahoman. This is one of those times.

Hat tip: jmbzine.com.

Click on me to see the YouTube video posted by the Victory Fund.

Sorry for being slow on the uptake, but I needed a few days for this unbelieveably repugnant screed to sink in. This has become a national thing, which has been noted, briefly or not, on numerous sites. The original publishers of the video did not reveal the legislator’s name (Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, District 84) but anyone who’s been here long enough can put two and two together easily enough.

It’s pointless for me to repeat the clarion call to write to her — many others in the blogosphere are doing that — but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let her know that her worldview isn’t wholly embraced:

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 332, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

(405) 557-7348

sallykern@okhouse.gov

Kern, the wife of a Baptist minister and a onetime schoolteacher, has used her position in the Oklahoma State Legislature to introduce bills that can be summed up gently as nonconducive to the cause of progressivism (read: Moving into the 21st Century instead of back into the 20th Century) in the state of Oklahoma. A fairly thorough (and admittedly slanted towards my point of view on things) summation of some of her legislative action can be found here. (hat tip: Okie Funk).

If people in Oklahoma don’t want to be the subject of derision, ridicule and hateful stereotype by the rest of the nation because they are still viewed in many segments of American society as ignorant hicks and religious nuts, then why do people keep sending individuals like Sally Kern to the Oklahoma State Legislature?

Mrs. Kern is entitled to her opinion, however sickeningly ignorant it is, as I am entitled to mine. That said, in all my years of public education (mind you, my years in the public educational system were from 1971 until 1984) I was never subjected to a so-called “gay agenda” and no one I know that has children in public schools now talk about their children being subjected to a “gay agenda.” No one that is gay/lesbian has ever tried to push any kind of “agenda” on me. They aren’t in the business of “pushing an agenda.” They are in the business of living their lives, working at their jobs, being active in their communities, and everything else that most Americans do in their daily lives.

OTOH, I do find it very interesting that another group has been actively trying to push an agenda on me and the rest of the state (if not the whole country) for quite some time now. That group would be fundamentalist Christians (like Sally Kern), whose arrow-narrow (and often literal) interpretation of the scriptures is sometimes laughable and often frightening. And more often than not — in Oklahoma and elsewhere — they are the ones that are behind any push to restrict women’s reproductive rights, to restrict the teaching of certain scientific subjects in schools, and to constitutionally mandate that “marriage” should be defined by their own narrow dogmatic definition of marriage.

So, who’s the group with the agenda that wants to subjugate Americans to their lifestyle?

And by the way, Mrs. Kern, equating homosexuals with terrorists — smart move, lady. Tell that to the multitudes of Oklahoma Citians that lost a friend or loved one, or had a friend or loved one maimed and scarred for life, on April 19, 1995. Or how about State Senator Andrew Rice, who lost his brother at WTC on September 11, 2001? That statement alone absolutely mocks those who have been touched by *real* terrorism, and if you find it in your heart to be ashamed of anything, it should be that.

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Using a Tiny Bandage to Mend a Severed Limb?
January 19, 2008, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Media, Sports | Tags: , ,

From Becoming Somebody

Excerpt fun:

It would be fine if NBAE simply came out and admitted to the public that it is no longer trying to compete with credible sports-information web sites, publications, and TV networks, but is instead in the business of painting a rose-colored image of a sport often immersed in one PR disaster after another — players fighting with fans, players firing off guns outside strip clubs, coaches and executives sexually harassing employees, and referees involved in gambling scandals, to name a few. If it is so concerned that the truth will spoil its image, then it should maintain control of its product and all relevant methods of its dissemination. It should stop covering games, teams, and player news altogether and focus only on corporate and community initiatives. It should be honest with itself and its fans. But by entering into the highly competitive arena of live-event and news coverage, the NBA clouds the line between information source and PR tool.

I rarely go to nba.com — if I want to see game recaps and box scores, there’s Yahoo! Sports or espn.com (although that four letter word is probably a drunken rant for another time). I’ve never, ever figured out why nba.com bothers with game recaps and box scores to begin with when there are scads of *other* sources for the same thing. It is disconcerting to read the author’s account of how a postseason game recap was retooled so as not to offend a certain young uber-star and the apparel company with which he is closely associated. Why bother when the original, unadulterated account was already posted on other sports-information sites? Who is the NBA kidding here?

I certainly agree with the author, but I’d also like to add that maybe the NBA should be careful with how it covers its community and other initiatives. I’m sorry but the bad publicity that has beset the NBA in recent years isn’t going to be magically erased by showing This Player reading to a wide-eyed, pee-panted pack of grammar school children, or That Player collecting donations for a food bank, or This Other Player and Some of His Teammates putting up the frame of a Habitat for Humanity house.

Those are worthy, noble and good things, mind you (although — I think good works tend to matter more when they aren’t being breathtakingly documented for public consumption), but it bothers me that the NBA’s publicity wonks think its necessary to bludgeon everybody over the head with it.

This is just me, but when you’re Joe or Josephine Fan and you’re black and blue from all that, when you turn on ESPNews or open up the paper and see that Player A got caught discharging a weapon outside a titty bar, or Player B was accused of raping some girl, it just makes the otherwise noble mission of the NBA’s community service program akin to using a finger bandage to mend a severed limb.



Meth Rock Is the New Alternative?
January 17, 2008, 12:33 pm
Filed under: Media, music | Tags: , , , ,

Via The Lost Ogle and OklahomaRock.com

Want Oklahoma City radio to suck less? Play something besides country music, right-wing hategab, substandard and repetitive sports talk, two different varieties of moldy oldies, maybe one or two urban stations that sound almost exactly alike, and multiple varieties of religious music.

… and, now, as a comment-leaver on OklahomaRock.com (linked above) so eloquently and succinctly described it, “Meth Rock.”

Look, seriously, I think many of us can agree that commercial radio sucks balls (deregulation has something to do with this but don’t make me explain, because I’m tired as hell right now). I myself listen to NPR most of the time if stuck with “terrestrial” radio (and I’m not always near a computer and investing in satellite radio is kind of down on my list of financial priorities behind things like food, shelter, medical bills, other bills, fuel and clothing. In that order).

And so, yeah, the corporation that owns KHBZ-FM thinks all of a sudden that it can bite the tail off a certain kitty (i.e. longtime rock market leader KATT-FM) by playing the same shite they play (FWIW, this format is known as “active rock.” Isn’t all rock “active” when you think about it?). Some industry observers see this as actually a wise move — i.e. KHBZ taking the ratings fight to the Big Mean KittyKATT With the Razor Claws, but in fact is an exercise in futility where the ultimate losers are listeners in Oklahoma City (and all the suburbs) who, depending on tastes, are again denied *other* formats deemed less marketable or whatever other reason researchers want to illustrate with whatever the hell it is they call market research.

And if their research indicates that OKC rock listeners want to hear even more Pantera, Atreyu and Tool, then everybody else be damned.

Until KHBZ’s format change, effective January 14 (following a weekend all-Metallica-all-the-time stunt), its format was, for lack of a better way to put it, alternative rock, which in and of itself could be a misnomer. Is it really “alternative” if its friendly enough for a mega corporation like ClearChannel to put on its air?

Rival corporation Citadel had something resembling a bright idea a few years ago when they launched The Spy, which played a grand mix of contemporary alternative rock (at least “contemporary” a few years ago) with vintage punk and new wave and so forth. Of course, this was too good to last and it became Spanish-language La Indomible. Old farts like me and baby hipsters kids wanting to hear some of what should constitute roots music for them wept.

On the other hand, do those of us with somewhat iconoclastic musical tastes NEED to be served by terrestrial commercial radio? We can hear pretty much what we want on satellite radio, or via the radio streams that come with iTunes (lots to be had when you click on “radio”), or our own CD collections of bands we love that everybody else has never heard of. In which case, I’ve probably wasted a lot of verbiage over nothing — corporate radio sucks. Always has, always will.

But what does OKC’s radio dial tell about Oklahoma City, a metro that’s dying to play with the big boys and raise its profile above the usual and often negative stereotypes that have persisted for generations? I don’t know if that’s really a fair question but I’m going to ask it anyway and I’d like to hear some answers.

And if you don’t want to answer, that’s okay too.