Our Social World

I was thinking about how connected the world has become with the social aspect of various websites. It really is amazing how connected we’ve become with other people. I think that in the future we’ll be even more connected. For instance, right now if we want to become friends with someone we have to add them to each social network we use. This becomes tedious when we use a lot of different websites. In one scenario I might make a new friend. I’ll add them to IM to keep in touch. Of course, I’ll want to know what the person is up to so I’ll ad them to Twitter and Facebook. Maybe I want to know what their interests are and what websites they find interesting, so I’ll add them to Delicious and Digg. Oh, and when we get together and have a blast and take pictures I’ll want to see them, so I’ll add them to Flickr as well. I’m sure in the future in the natural development of the web, adding a person to all these will be much simpler (for instance, check out HelloMyNameisE.com for how they are doing it with mobile phones). Since this isn’t widely adopted yet, you still have to go and add one by one. That brings me to another problem. Deleting people.

When you finally want to break ties with someone, you have to go and delete them from every service and website. This is a giant pain. It’s amazing how much of our lives we share with others and even more amazing how much it takes to get them out of your life completely. Of course, even if you do remove them from the services, that doesn’t mean they are completely out of your life. They have the potential to keep tabs on you via your personal website, checking status updates on Twitter, checking images on Flickr, etc. It’s amazing how open we are with our data these days and how truly hard it is to break ties with someone. I wonder if services like HelloMyNameisE will allow you to remove the users just as easily as you add them. I think it is definitely something to look into. I wonder if, say in 10 or so years, we’ll see our openness backfire on us, or will we become even more social?

The Tori Paradox

Everyone knows what a Saved by the Bell geek I am. If you didn’t know that then did you really know me? I mean, come on. As much as I love the show there are a few things that bug me. The biggest thing is when the tough biker chick Tori came on the show and Kelly and Jessie disappeared. Now, the story behind the switch is that NBC wanted more episodes after the final season was filmed. Tiffany Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley, who played Kelly and Jessie, already committed to other things and didn’t want to film any more episodes. So what did the network do? They filmed additional episodes with a new girl, Tori, didn’t explain what happened to Jessie or Kelly, and stuck them in the middle of the last season. So in the last season we see Jessie and Kelly, then Tori, then Jessie and Kelly are back in time for graduation. This bugs me because there was no explanation and these episodes were clearly inferior. Then I started thinking, is an explanation really necessary?

I think back at my life. There are definitely times in my life when the friends I hung out with every day suddenly disappeared and I was no longer with them. Then all of the sudden, they’d be back in my life. This happened a lot in college, with both college friends and high school friends. The people I met while I was in college never knew my high school friends and I rarely, if ever, talked about my high school friends, just as the gang never talked about Jessie and Kelly when Tori came around. Then after college I started hanging out with some of my high school friends and some of my college friends disappeared. True, they were still in the same school on Saved by the Bell, but think about high school for a minute. It wasn’t that long ago. Weren’t there times when you stopped hanging with particular people, for no particular reason, then started hanging with them again? Maybe it was a busy semester for them, or you. Think about the people you’ve lost contact with and then later became best friends again. They are your Tori. Or you are theirs. Either way, while completely inferior to previous and later episodes, the Tori episodes actually do make sense. Even though Saved by the Bell is nowhere near real, that’s one part that is. Everyone has been a Tori or had Tori friends. You can sit there and watch episodes with Tori and not wonder where Kelly and Jessie are, just as you don’t always wonder where your lost friends went. So, no longer will I judge these episodes for the wool that NBC tried to pull over my eyes. I will judge them based on how good they actually were, which, except for the school song episode, they pretty much sucked.

Special Guest Stars

Do you ever watch television and in the credits you see Special Guest Star and then the person’s name? Then after all they list all of the special guest stars they list the people that are Guest Starring. My question is, when you’re an actor, when do you go from being a “guest star” to a “special guest star?” Is there like a check list worked into the SAG contracts? “Once the actor has met these qualifications they move from Guest Starring to Special Guest Star. Do actors aspire to make this leap? Is there a pay increase with this change in title, and if so, is it a percentage, or how is that worked out? I get that the actors that are deemed special are usually more well-known, but I can’t help but wonder, who makes the decision on when you can make the switch. Who decides that you are now mainstream enough to be classified as special? One person may be more well know to some than others. In fact, I know I’ve seen television shows where the special guest stars weren’t all that famous, but had been around (Hollywood, the producers, directors, or writers of the show) long enough to be deemed special. It’s things like this that keep me up at night (not really).

Memories

You know, it’s funny what a young man recollects. ‘Cause I don’t remember being born. I don’t recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don’t know when I went on my first outdoor picnic.  Oh wait, that was Forrest Gump, not me.  It really is funny what you do remember though.  The past couple nights I’ve fallen asleep listening to music.  Then I remembered something that for some reason always in the back of my mind.  When I was really young I remember being at my Grandma and Grandpa Schepker’s house.  They had cable and we didn’t.  I remember watching MTV.  Now, I couldn’t have been any older than 9 at the time.  I was probably younger.  I remember watching a black and white music video there.  What stuck out in my mind about it was how the video was shot.  Not only was it in black and white, but there were a lot of unfocused close-ups and what I would now call “lazy” camera work.  This was intentional.  In fact, it reminds me a lot of the same style of camera work that made the tv show NYPD Blue famous.  Those things, and not who was on the video, made an impression on me.  Years later, after seeing that video again, I realized that it was a video for a song called “Brenda’s Got a Baby” by Tupac Shakur.  Those who know me know I’m a huge Tupac fan.  It’s funny how I was connected with him that young, years before I became a fan of his music and it’s funny that I would still remember seeing a single video over fifteen years ago.  It was a good video though.

I’m Getting Old (School)

My favorite channel on XM is The Rhyme: Hip Hop from Day One. It’s an old school hip hop station. After listening to it almost exclusively since I got XM, I’ve come to a conclusion. I’m getting old. Real old. It used to be that old school was applied to the ranks of Kool G Rap, Eric B and Rakim, Kurtis Blow, Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, and other artists from that forgotten era. Every once in a while you’d see some late 80′s and early 90′s artists in the mix, like Tone Loc, NWA, and others. What made me realize I’m old is I was listening to the station one night and Tupac’s “Me Against the World” came on. Tupac is now old school?!?! I grew up on Tupac! How can he be old school unless… I’m old! More and more I notice that the songs I grew up on are hitting the old school stations and mixes. When did Leaders of the New School become old school? When did Snoop and Dre and Bone become old school? I’m going to be 25 in April. A quarter of a century old. Wow. I might as well retire now and go around yelling at little kids about how their music today sucks (it does) and how everything was so much better in my day (it was).

Ideology and Interests

I was watching an old George Carlin comedy special on HBO Comedy tonight and I began thinking about someone I used to work with when I worked at Domino’s in high school and college. I worked with this guy for about 5 years and got to know him really well. One thing that we both had in common is that we were both huge George Carlin fans. This always surprised me because he was a bit conservative and typically voted for Republicans. If you have never seen George Carlin do stand up or read one of his books, he is a really liberal guy. He hates government (Republicans and Democrats), he hates the Right Wing, hates religion, and is all about the freedoms that make this country great. Maybe it’s just me, but in order for me to like something, I have to relate to it. Could my friend have related to it even though Mr. Carlin makes fun of the very things that my friend believes in?

I once knew a guy who was the same way with music. He listened to a lot of hip hop and one of his favorite rock bands was Rage Against the Machine. They were a really liberal band, some might even say socialistic, yet this guy loved them. Sure, you can enjoy the sound, but if you don’t enjoy the lyrics, how could you enjoy the music as a whole? I know I don’t listen to music who’s lyrics I’m not particularly fond of. One might, and rightfully so, argue about the lyrics in hip hop and if you listen to it, you’re supporting the content. There’s no argument for me there. Yes, there are songs I’ve enjoyed that have lyrics I might not necessarily agree with. Heck, my favorite rapper is 2pac and I know he’s had songs I don’t agree with on content, but he’s also had songs in which I can fully stand behind the content. Typically, if I don’t relate to the music in any way, or don’t like the message in the music, I’m not going to listen to it.

So I guess my question is, what makes people enjoy things that usually go against their ideologies? Why does my conservative friend like Mr. Carlin when Mr. Carlin stands up (pun intended) against everything that most conservatives value? There’s no simple answer to this. Just a thought I had while watching the very funny Mr. Carlin.

You Forgot the Sauce

I was talking to my friend Trix today and we were discussing what’s on the menu for dinner tonight. She is having Chinese and I’m having BBQ hamburgers. This confused her a great deal. She asked if I meant grill. I asked her to explain the difference. I’m always curious to see how terms are interchanged depending on region (soda vs pop vs coke for example).

11:09:58 AM trix wants to go home: maybe i’ll get chinese food tonight
11:10:11 AM shep: oh, that sounds delicious
11:10:19 AM shep: i’m going to BBQ some hamburgers
11:10:31 AM shep: cause it’s supposed to be like 64 today
11:10:34 AM trix wants to go home: bbq them or grill them?
11:10:46 AM shep: what’s the diff?
11:10:57 AM trix wants to go home: doesn’t bbq involve bbq sauce?
11:11:02 AM shep: yes
11:11:06 AM shep: so i’m bbqing them
11:11:09 AM shep: hence why i said bbq
11:11:10 AM trix wants to go home: ahhh ok
11:11:13 AM trix wants to go home: never heard that
11:11:22 AM shep: heard what?
11:11:27 AM shep: bbq hamburgers?
11:13:52 AM trix wants to go home: yeah
11:14:00 AM shep: really?
11:14:10 AM trix wants to go home: yes
11:14:15 AM shep: you’ve never heard of hamburgers with bbq sauce on them?
11:14:19 AM trix wants to go home: like a hamburger with bbq sauce on it?
11:14:21 AM trix wants to go home: no
11:14:22 AM shep: really?
11:14:23 AM shep: wow
11:14:25 AM shep: really?
11:14:42 AM trix wants to go home: maybe some weird specialty burger at a restaurant
11:14:45 AM trix wants to go home: but not at home
11:14:56 AM shep: they are grilled
11:14:58 AM shep: then sauced
11:15:06 AM shep: and cooked for a few minutes with sauce on them
11:15:11 AM trix wants to go home: weird
11:15:12 AM shep: just like any other bbq
11:15:13 AM shep: omg
11:15:15 AM shep: seriously?
11:15:16 AM trix wants to go home: lol
11:15:23 AM shep: how have you not heard of bbq hamburgers
11:15:25 AM trix wants to go home: must be a southern thing

I’m completely dumbfounded by this conversation. Really. I understand people not from St. Louis never hearing of BBQ pork steaks. Pork steaks are traditionally a St. Louis area thing. It really shocks me that something as simple as BBQ hamburgers could seem so foreign to someone who lives only 5 hours away, near Chicago. I mean, when I think of summertime, I think of BBQs with friends and family, BBQing burgers and dogs. Do these “cook-outs” (and not BBQs) have signs posted that say “No Sauce Allowed”? Something I thought was “as American as apple pie” I find out is something that others have never heard of. So Trix, do you know what apple pie is?

BTW, St. Louis is NOT Southern.