The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


To Tweet, Or Not to Tweet
January 10, 2009, 12:24 am
Filed under: Daily life, Internet | Tags: ,

I cannot make up my mind whether or not to join Twitter.

I follow a few Twitter feeds, but I am not sure it’s for me. One, I’m long winded. Two, it isn’t like I update this thing on a daily basis, what makes anyone think I’m going to log onto Twitter every day and answer the dear question, “What are you doing?”

So, what am I doing? I’m sitting on my ass at my desk in the kitchen at home which is redolent of Nag Champa and dinner that was eaten several hours ago (I took off work Friday). I have a cold, I’m kind of pissed off and I have a headache. The TV’s off (actually the TV’s about to be sold) and the BBC World Service is on. I may or may not rack out soon.

I think I’ll skip it.



“They’re Gonna Suck Hard, But They Have a Bright Future!” — Looking At the OKC Thunder
October 25, 2008, 2:21 pm
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , , ,

“Thunder” is the result of expanding air within and around a bolt of lightning. And assuming you’re mind-controlled by the all-knowing, all seeing oracle, the only thunder that means anything in Oklahoma City (other than the kind that Gary England and Rick Mitchell scare everybody to death about) is the NBA team that was relocated (more like hijacked) from the Pacific Northwest and used to be known as the Seattle Supersonics.

Yeah, they’re Oklahoma City’s problem now. Sure the fans will come out — the franchise sold out its season tickets in about the time it takes to get down Interstate 35 from OKC to Norman in thick rush hour traffic and with multiple lanes closed due to road construction. And this was at the same time when most of the state was gearing up for another season of gridiron glory from the Sooners and Cowboys. One wonders what affect the Thunder will have on Sooners basketball (some pundits have chosen the Sooners as preseason #1 in the Big 12 and have the best returning player in the conference, Blake Griffin) and Cowboys basketball (being coached by somebody Not Named Sutton for the first time since … uhh … a long time).

How patient will the relatively new NBA fans of Oklahoma City — now with a team of their very own — be with a team that last season as the Supersonics only won 20 games (but had Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant) — all extenuating circumstances aside, because I really don’t want to get into it anymore because even though I’m trying in my own cranky way to play along with it, it doesn’t change my feelings about how it all went down — I still don’t like it, but there’s a team here now, and maybe it’s time to look at them as a basketball team and not as either a political hot potato, a mogul’s toy or an excuse to hear “Oklahoma” mentioned in the media without it being associated with search terms like “college football,” “tornado,” “Sally Kern,” or “dogs.”

It’s now the cusp of the 2008-2009 Not Basketball Anymore season, my five faithful readers. Let’s take us a look at some of the season previews out there:

ESPN.com (general preview) ESPN.com (John Hollinger analysis)

… they are going to take more lumps. In order to set up their future, they’re operating as a glorified expansion team; fortunately for them, the folks in Oklahoma are likely to fill the arena every night anyway to welcome the state’s first major league pro sports team. (No, the Outlaws don’t count, and yes, this shatters my record for USFL references in a column).

That may give the Okies enough of a home-court advantage to steal a few extra wins, especially since this team is going to play hard. They did last season even while getting their brains beat in, and with all the hustling defensive types they’ve acquired in the past two drafts, they should only redouble their efforts.

Sports Illustrated (opposing team scouting analysis)  Sports Illustrated (season preview)

The new fan base had best understand that, beyond Durant, there’s not much O in Oklahoma.

Ball Don’t Lie (Yahoo! Sports)

The Thunder are going to be horrible this year. Kevin Durant still can’t buy beer, the roster is young, and the 492 draft picks GM Sam Presti has accrued have yet to be cashed in. Things are A-OK, though.

Presti’s obviously planning for the future, and he’s doing it the right way. The Thunder have a slim payroll (that could get even slimmer should they trade Chris Wilcox or Joe Smith’s expiring contract), they really do have a ton of first and second round picks coming down the pike, and Durant is so young that it hardly seems smart to try and rush things.

SLAMOnline

Presti is a general manager, but his business card should read: Hustler. He has assembled long-term talent in Durant, Green, and Westbrook and guys with reasonable contracts that other teams covet in Collison, Watson, and Smith. He also has a knack for coming out of trades with added draft picks and improved cap position.

Look no further than Kurt Thomas’s dealings last season. Presti agreed to take Thomas’s cumbersome contract off Phoenix’s hands, as long as Phoenix included two draft picks. He then turned around and flipped Thomas to the Spurs on the verge of their playoff run, acquiring yet another pick.

Even though most of these guys (except Desmond Mason and Joe Smith, acquired via offseason trades) wore Seattle green-and-gold last season, the Thunder — as ESPN’s John Hollinger says — are like an expansion team, and expansion teams in any league will toddle around for a few years and get their baby heads stomped by jackboots night after night until miraculously something comes together and they figure it all out and grow up. At least Major League Baseball seems to have figured it out, either that or there’s something in the water in Florida, Arizona, and Colorado.

The additions of Mason (who obviously is familiar to Oklahomans) and Smith (a well-traveled forward who, like new teammate Chris Wilcox, is a former Maryland Terrapin) might go a ways towards hurrying along that maturity thing depending on how long those individuals stay in OKC. The veterans who were around for the final years of the Seattle Supersonics as we knew them will contribute as well … but, I can’t help but think, not without some bitterness at the business-related issues that led to their being forced to make a professional shift from one of America’s more high-profile cities to a place that is still trying to bury negative stereotypes and the constant association with tragic recent history.

I’ve talked to people who are convinced that the New Orleans Hornets went from Western Conference doormat to Western Conference contender because they were showered with the hugs and kisses and warm fuzzies of the city that adopted them for two years after the Katrina disaster. Well, maybe — pundits weren’t kidding about the college-like atmosphere of the Ford Center (a live pep band would have been nice instead of the Standard Issue National Basketball Association Canned Audio Package, and that still wouldn’t have really done anything for what I find to be a rather plastic and forced gameday presentation) … but I still think it had way more to do with what New Orleans’ management did well before Katrina. They had the great good sense to use their 2005 draft pick on the twinkly-eyed, nauseatingly talented kid from Wake Forest. Even if Katrina had never happened and the Hornets had played in New Orleans that season, Chris Paul would still have been the NBA ROY because he has skills, knows how to run an offense, has some semblance of leadership acumen — you know, that boring, unemotional type stuff?

This should be a very educational season for everybody involved: the team itself, and the fans who still seem a little unsure how to embrace their new team but are going to do it anyway.



Picture Post: The OKC Thunder, Explained … sort of.
October 6, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , , ,

(click to view bigger version, thanks).



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.



Civil Disobedience For the Good of OU Basketball
February 19, 2008, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , , ,

Oh man this is all kinds of awesome, at least if its for real (you never know with these message boards). If its a guy trying to stir up stuff, I’d still say its a pretty good idea that I wish could come to fruition.

This post in the thread sums up some of the issues that some fans have encountered at the Lloyd Noble Mausoleum Center this season (that I also posted about here, in November)

My little brother has been stopped 3 times in the last 3 games trying to go down there, the last 2 I’ve witnessed. I walked down there and asked the yellow-shirted guy what was going on (nicely though) and I was basically told to mind my own business, he knew the policies.

… Why go to a game when you know SOMETHING will end up ruining the night. For alot of people right now, its just too much of a pain in the butt to go to an OU game. I thought this was a BS excuse until I witnessed some of the things I’ve seen this year. It seems that no one is on the same page regarding the LNC policies. You literally get a different view/argument/attitude fro every yello and blue shirted person there.

Sorry for the rant, but I am extremely frustrated with everything right now. We’ve got an exciting young team, an exciting young coach, and with the way things are going this should have been a really great year to watch a team grow (as they have). Unfortunately, I’ve spent just as much time watching people be harrassed as I have watching the games. Its not a rare occurence, its EVERY SINGLE GAME that something like this happens. I chuckle when people wonder whats wrong with attendance….. it wouldnt hurt to make things fan friendly.

I also got the evil eye from yellowtopped event staff this season too, and I’m sorry, those empty seats in the lower bowl are an abomination and should be an abomination to anyone who cares about OU basketball, and they can’t be real thrilling to Coach Jeff Capel (a guy who played his college ball in front of the rabid, nerdy Cameron Crazies at Duke) or the team either.

On occasion, they do allow fans from the upper level to move down to the lower level after the first media timeout in the first half (roughly five minutes into the game), but this does NOT happen for every game. I wonder if it SHOULD at the very least to help boost the atmosphere.

Mind you, Oklahoma is never going to be Duke in terms of college basketball, but I am disheartened and discouraged by the appearance that some powerful figures — never mind the cadre of fans that think Oklahoma *only* plays football and nothing else — approach OU basketball in terms of “oh, it’s there” but seem to do nothing to nurture it or try to help attract/build a fanbase.

Why is a revenue sport being promoted on the OU campus the same way they promote the non-revenue sports like wrestling and volleyball and gymnastics — with cheesy little vinyl signs on skinny metal sticks put up along Jenkins, Elm, Lindsey and Boyd? And this is to say nothing of the media coverage of basketball, which by comparison to the breathless, repetitious and all-out coverage of football, is a whisper (this from both the broadcast media and the print media The Oklahoman).

Oh sure, the games are technically “sold out” because the TICKETS are sold, but it would be nice to see butts in those prime seats week in and week out. I hate this “tickets sold” versus “butts in seats” dichotomy in determining attendance at sporting events, but if the owners (if a pro team) or administrators (if a college team) have made their money, well okay then but don’t try to tell me it was a screaming SRO crowd — that’s puredy bullshite if there ever was any. If I wind up watching an OU game at home on television, to see the prime EMPTY seats behind the scorers’ table is sickening — especially if some announcer announces that a “sold out” crowd is on hand to watch the game!! Television wise, everybody from Bob Carpenter (Sooner Sports Network/ESPNPlus) to Ron Franklin (ESPN, calls many a Big 12 game, both football and hoops) I’ve seen do this. Come on guys, don’t yank my chain. Last time I checked, the last thing I saw that was red, plastic and sort of looked like a person was a Rock’m Sock’m Robot.

Some of the yellowshirts are polite, some not, and all of them are doing their jobs (such as it is) and its probably thankless … but as long as Oklahoma men’s basketball is in a rebuilding/retooling mode — and will be for the next season or two still (thanks a lot Kelvin Sampson), would it just kill OU to try something radically different? Do they really have anything to lose? I really do fear that one thing that OU *could* lose if things remain status quo is Coach Capel, something I really do not want to see happen especially if its in the not-too-distant future — say within two or three years — because it will keep Oklahoma locked in “rebuilding” mode as it transitions to yet another new coach in such event.

Would the students show up more if the student seating were in a more prominent place (read: the first five or six rows in the center 2 sections on the side that FACES the TV cameras — OR, better yet, CHANGE THE CONFIGURATION OF THE COURT so that the side that faces the TV cameras is the one in which the benches and the scorer’s table are BEHIND the camera — this is how Cameron Indoor Stadium is set up, for example — and move the student seating to the first five or six rows of the center two sections on THAT side), giving LNC EVEN MORE of a home court atmosphere that’s HOSTILE (within reason — unless they’re Texas or OSU) to the visiting team?

Maybe this is just me but having empty seats, or what seats are occupied down there occupied either by Grandma and Grandpa or Stiff Collared Business Tycoon And You Are SOOOO Beneath Him who just sit in those great seats and golf-clap … I dunno, that atmosphere gives me many negative vibes. Imagine what national observers must think of this. And yet, in a way miraculously, earlier in this decade, OU held one of the longest home-court win streaks in all of college basketball — a streak that, if memory serves, ended during the 2003-2004 season, and OU still wins a big preponderance of its games at home — maybe in spite of the “home court advantage.”