Tag Archives: General Hospital

My YouTube Summer

I wish I could be clever and write this like an anthropologist studying a newly discovered culture.  I can’t pull it off, so I won’t even try.  Still, I feel like I’ve spent this summer exploring several subcultures, so this is a field report of sorts.

I’ve spent most of my summer on YouTube.  Doing the math, I think I’ve watched over 800 clips since the beginning of July.  My netflix DVDs sit unwatched, my library books sit unread, and the TV sits neglected with the mute on.  Before July, I thought YouTube was a random collection of videos that were too short to give you any kind of meaningful viewing experience.  My computer was never fast enough to watch the videos without a pause to reload every few seconds.   Then I got obsessed with General Hospital and found out that almost every scene with my favorite actor could be found somewhere on YouTube, dating back all the way to his first appearance in 1993.  Of course, the soap opera videos go back further than that—I would guess as far back as the earliest VCR recordings made by fans.   I used to think once a soap episode aired, it was history.  It’s not as if old episodes of soaps get released on DVD like other TV series.  I knew devoted fans taped their soaps, but I couldn’t believe people saved all those tapes, since I always ended up taping over my favorite programs or losing my tapes when I moved.  Besides, soaps are on five hours a week!  (That’s 43 tapes a year if you record on slow play.)  The other thing I don’t really understand is why the clips are allowed on YouTube, with all the copyright violations that are involved.  Music seems to be the only copyright that gets strenuously enforced on the site.  I feel bad that the actor I like doesn’t get any royalties from these clips, and I feel like I ought to send him a few bucks every time I watch.

I’m still a little unclear on how all these videos get uploaded to YouTube.  I guess people transfer the tapes to DVDs first and then rip them onto their computers.  Ten minutes used to the the maximum clip length, but YouTube has just announced a new 15 minute upload maximum.  My favorite features are the queue and the playlist.  I can login to my free account, search for a bunch of clips, quickly add them to my queue, and then build a permanent playlist of my selected clips.  The autoplay feature means my queue or playlist just keeps on rolling until I need a break.  Queues and playlists are crucial when watching YouTube on  TV with a blu-ray player.  Without them, you’d be wasting all your time trying to type into the search field with the remote control.  With all these great features, I wish YouTube didn’t bury the instructions for using them on their website.  I stumbled across these features by accident and learned to use them by trial and error. 

Ironically, it’s the new technology that creates my biggest YouTube headache.  Television used to broadcast programs in a square format (sorry, I don’t know all the technical terms here) but now there is the rectangular format of high-definition.  When an older recording is uploaded in the HD format, without the aspect ratio being adjusted, the image gets stretched sideways and distorted.  This does really strange things to faces, and it makes me a little seasick when I’m watching.  The quality of the clips also varies a lot depending on the source material; night scenes are a muddle, blue eyes look black, and you can’t adjust the brightness/contrast or color balance on the computer media player.  

There’s a nice little community of YouTube folks, and they’ve been very friendly and helpful.  I have a growing list of subscriptions to different “channels, ” and I swap private messages with a couple of people who share some of my interests.  One lady in Canada helps me find specific General Hospital clips and fills me in on background information. 

Speaking of soaps and community, I’ve also been “hanging out” at a General Hospital fan forum, and it’s a genuine subculture.  They have their own private lingo, which I’ve had to learn just to follow the conversations.  They post fan fiction and fan art, and they take part in campaigns and online polls, trying to influence the guy who writes the soap.  (The poor fellow seems universally despised for turning this daytime soap into a Sopranos ripoff.)  They are passionate about their commitment to their favorite “ship” (a couple in a relationship, or two characters who they want to see get together as a couple.  “Ship” can also be used as a verb, but I can’t manage that yet!).   I’m a real lightweight, since I’m a new fan who enjoys the show without many years of history with the characters.  I’m not into fan fiction at this point, but I have been making banners for my forum signature in photoshop.   I’m getting pretty good at it, too.

Soon, a new season of television begins, and perhaps I will turn off the computer more often.  If the weather ever improves here in San Francisco, I may even go outside to play.  Until then, you’ll find me at YouTube.

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Sight and Sound

Don’t laugh.  I’m going to attempt a music review.  It’s probably an exercise in humiliation, since nobody in their right mind would take music advice from me.  I can’t sing at all, and I had to drop out of flute lessons in fifth grade when I couldn’t grasp the concept of “notes.”  It only got worse.  In college I was on sound crew for a production of Iphigenia, where I played pre-recorded tapes of bass lines while the composer played keyboards live.  I never once knew what was live and what was memorex.  So, music remains a foreign language to me, but I know what I like.  I just don’t know if it’s good.

Two weeks ago I got three CDs by Enation, an indie band fronted by actor Jonathan Jackson.  It’s probably a mistake to base your music selections on whether the musician is a good actor, but sometimes you get lucky.  (Okay, bad joke.  Jackson plays Lucky on General Hospital.)  I’ve listened to my CDs many times, and I love a couple of the songs, I like most of the rest, and I dislike none of them.  Well, there is this one thing…but I’m getting to that.  First things first.

These are the albums, in the order of their original release:

Enation: Soul & Story

Enation: Soul & Story

Soul & Story:  This album is very mellow, mostly acoustic folk, and deeply personal.  Jonathan Jackson wrote all ten songs, and one of them is about his daughter (She’s My Little Girl), and one is for his son (A Letter to My Son). 

Enation: World in Flight

Enation: World in Flight

World in Flight:  This is my favorite of the three, and it’s much more of a rock album than the other two.  All ten tracks are again written by Jackson, with his brother Richard Lee credited with co-writing lyrics on two songs.  Two tracks here are favorites: Permission to Dream and Everything is Possible.

The Future is a Memory

Enation: The Future Is A Memory

The Future is Memory: Live from the Northwest is a live album, but the songs that repeat from World in Flight are different enough from the studio versions to make it worth having.  It’s fun to hear Jackson sing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne.  I love the last song, The Coming Dawn.

I don’t know about all the other band members in Enation, but the Jackson brothers have deeply held Christian beliefs, and their faith is reflected in their song lyrics.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I listen to quite a few contemporary Christian groups and singer/songwriters.  I just have a problem with one line in one song, and it’s not a religious reference.  It’s from A Letter to My Son, and it goes “A home without a father is a home without a gun.”  Now, I hate guns.  I equate guns with violence, and unfortunately, some people have grown up with violent fathers.  To me, a home without a gun is a very good thing.  In the context of the lyrics, which are words of advice from a father to his young son, I assume a gun is being used as a metaphor for a protector.  I still find it disturbing, but I’m not going to stop listening to the music just because I don’t agree with this one reference. 

It seems to me that Enation has a bit of an identity crisis about the kind of music they play.  Somebody who’s only heard a couple of their albums might be confused at one of their concerts.  Their albums are much mellower and less electric than the live performances that they’ve posted online at Ustream and on their YouTube channel.  Still, I haven’t been to an actual concert yet, so I should probably reserve judgement.  It’s too bad I can’t get down to Los Angeles this weekend for Enation’s acoustic concert, since I have trouble at rock concerts these days. Really loud music causes me actual physical pain, and earplugs don’t help. 

It’s been amusing trying to follow Enation on all the online social networks available these days.  Lines get crossed, misunderstandings happen, and certain information is either out-of-date or just wrong.  Now, this isn’t criticism.  I find it a form of entertainment.  For example, a couple of days ago, a flier was posted on Jonathan Jackson’s facebook fan page that seems to say that this weekend’s LA concert is going to be broadcast live on Ustream.  But wait, could this actually be a reference to the live concert from two weeks ago?  There’s nothing on the Enation facebook fan page or website to clarify the information, and the tweets from the band don’t mention it either way.  Yet.  I’m watching and waiting.

Update: Enation tweeted that the LA concert is not going to be broadcast online.  I hate twitter, but it can be useful at times.

*************

This is a completely different subject, but it’s too exciting not to write about.  I got new eyeglasses today.  I can see!  My old glasses were so scratched that it was like viewing the world through a fog bank.  Now colors pop and everything is sharp again.  The scariest thing is looking at my hands.  When did they get so old?  Naturally, I’ve avoided looking in the mirror. 

 I ordered these new glasses from an online store for the first time.  It was terrifying, but it was so cheap that I couldn’t resist.  I used Zenni Optical because they are located in the Bay Area.  The total cost—with high index lenses, non-reflective coating, frames, clip-on polarized sunglasses, case, an extra fee for the strong prescription, tax, and shipping—came to $53.80.  I think that’s terrific.  The order took exactly two weeks.  The glasses are fine, but the frames do need some adjusting, so I will have to take them to a walk-in optician and hope it won’t cost too much to get them fitted to my face.

Hello, world!

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Lucky Spencer Grows Up

I’ve been watching old clips of Lucky Spencer on YouTube.  He’s a character on General Hospital, if you haven’t been paying attention.  I put together this collage of just some of his different looks through the years, as played by Jonathan Jackson.  Well, I don’t actually know if the photo in the water is from General Hospital, and if you’re really paying attention, you’ll see I slipped in one image of Jackson as Kyle Reese on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  Just because I felt like it.

Lucky Spencer as played by Jonathan Jackson.

I don’t have anything profound to add.  I just wanted to show off my mad photoshop skills.  (No copyright infringement intended.)

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Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Yesterday was one of those days when nothing worked for me.  We’ve all had them, I suppose.  It started the first thing in the morning when I was surfing my morning lineup of sites.  I was on zap2it.com checking out the Emmy nominations that were just announced.  I was delighted by some, like Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory and Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton for Friday Night Lights.  Naturally, I was disappointed that certain names were missing from the list, like Zach Gilford for Friday Night Lights and FNL for best drama series.  I’m happy about Alan Cumming’s nomination, but his name was spelled “Cummin” in the list.  Being the annoying person that I am, I typed the correction into the comments section.  The site’s obscenity filter changed my correction to “C******” and then blocked me from further comments.  Poor Alan C******!  Imagine having an innocent name that can’t bypass site filters.  Not that Mr C himself is innocent; nobody could mistake that. Anyway, I wonder how long I’ll be blocked…

The afternoon came, and I sat down to watch General Hospital.  It was a pretty good episode, with some humor added to the mix after a tense week.  Lucky Spencer was looking good in blue.  Then the last ten minutes of the show were preempted for breaking news about the Oakland BART police shooting trial.  Well, it’s been a big story and the news was important, since a verdict had been reached and it was about to be announced, but still.  Couldn’t it have waited ten minutes? 

I spent part of the evening attempting to watch Enation’s online concert on Ustream.  You guessed it.  Technical problems.  Not with the band—they were fine.  I guess my DSL isn’t fast enough, because the image was mostly frozen, and the sound came and went.  To the right of the screen was a live chat scrolling along, and it moved more than the band on my computer.  It took me most of the concert before I managed to login to the chat, and then my computer froze.  I was sitting there feeling critical of the chatterers for their spelling errors, then discovered that I couldn’t even manage to spell “hello” correctly in the chat window.  I gave up.  I’m going to try to go back to Ustream later and watch the archived video, but I don’t have much confidence that it will be any better on my setup.

While I was writing this post just now, my computer glitched and I almost lost this whole entry.  Fitting, isn’t it?

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Summer Heat

While most of the US is roasting in triple digits, good old San Francisco is cool and overcast.  My google toolbar says it’s 55 degrees (fahrenheit) at the moment.  We may get swallowed up by an earthquake at any moment, but I’m still grateful to be here!  Still, I don’t mind a little summer warmth, so here is my first annual list of Guys Who Are Heating Up Summer 2010 (in no particular order).

Alex O'Loughlin barechested

Alex O'Loughlin

Alex O’Loughlin:  I love this Australian actor, and I sure hope his third CBS series will stick around.  The reboot of Hawaii Five-0 begins in fall, and the trailers look promising.  This summer, both his cancelled CBS series have been airing, Moonlight (vampire in LA) and Three Rivers (transplant hospital).  I’d watch this guy in old reruns over stupid reality shows any day.  I didn’t see The Back-Up Plan in the theatres, so I’m waiting for the DVD release on August 24th. 

Matthew Goode:  Today A Single Man was released on DVD, and I was at the redbox at 8:20am to rent my copy.  I will be happily watching it tonight, as a reward for a full day of errands.  It’s awfully tough sitting here and not watching it right-this-very-minute.  I know Goode’s role in the film is small, but I just love him and Colin Firth (who probably deserves his own place on this list!), and I understand from friends that I will adore Nicholas Hoult after seeing this movie.

Zac Efron:  This cutie’s movie, Charlie St Cloud, opens at the end of this month.  Efron looks great in the trailers.  I read the book this film is based on, and it’s sweet and predictable and unchallenging, so the movie should allow me to sit back and enjoy the sights. 

Taylor Lautner:  See my last post for my impressions of Eclipse, but Lautner is the reason I bothered to see the movie, and he didn’t disappoint. 

Jonathan Jackson:  Not a lot is happening with his character, Lucky Spencer, on ABC’s General Hospital, but that gives me a chance to catch up on his character’s background.  As I said in a recent post, I just started watching GH and listening to Jackson’s band.  I’m responding to his GH character’s sensitivity, not to mention his delicate good looks.

 Joseph Gordon-LevittInception is opening soon, and I’m delighted to see this guy in a big film.  Well, I’m delighted to see him anywhere.  I’m a little worried about his haircut in Inception, but I know I can count on his performance being excellent.  He has never disappointed me. 

Russell Brand:  I’ve read My Booky Wook, and I love Brand’s unique way with language.  He cracks me up, too.  This is a guy who doesn’t have many filters, and he’s excellent at pushing boundaries too far.  I’m watching him with fascination wondering when he’s going to alienate everyone.  He reminds me of Pee Wee Herman, a twisted character created for a certain adult audience who became a mainstream hit, was given a real children’s show (which I never understood!) and then…well, you know the rest.  I’m not saying I want Russell Brand to blow it, I’m just not sure he can resist it.

So, who’s on your list?

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One Thing Leads to Another

The San Francisco Frameline Film Festival was held this year June 17-27th, showing LGBT films from around the world.  It’s the oldest LGBT film festival, and this year they had an Andy Warhol retrospective and many films from South America.  This was my second year as a volunteer.   I like to staff the hospitality table, where volunteers and staff greet the filmmakers.  It’s great fun, and as a volunteer you get a movie voucher for every shift you work.  Unfortunately, I’m still recovering from this malingering virus that’s been going around, so I had to cut back on my shifts and missed seeing most of the films on my personal list.  I did get to see the opening night film, a BBC production called The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, about a Yorkshire woman from the early 1800s who left coded diaries about her various romances with other women.  It was based on a true story, and it was sure different from Pride & Prejudice

I didn’t get to see the closing night feature, a film called Howl about Allen Ginsberg, starring James Franco.  Franco came to the screening, so I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to check him out.  I’m not obsessed with Franco like I am with a few dozen other actors, but he’s certainly on a roll right now.  The Film Festival showing came just before Franco’s return as a guest star on General Hospital.  Now, I can follow a couple of other soaps (I grew up with a mother obsessed with Days of Our Lives), but I’ve never watched General Hospital regularly enough to follow the storylines.  In spite of that, I started tuning into GH this last week to see Franco.  A few trips over to soapnet and wikipedia helped me to understand key plot points.  A friend who used to watch filled me in on more background character info.  This same friend loved Jonathan Jackson as Lucky Spencer (back in the 90s), so I started paying particular attention to him.  Next thing you know, we’re watching Jonathan Jackson in Tuck Everlasting and On The Edge, and I’m spending hours on YouTube watching GH clips of Lucky from 1993.  And this is how one of my obsessions begins. 

And it won’t end until I’ve watched every video, rented every DVD, checked out every website and fansite, linked up on twitter and facebook…it’s exhausting, but at least with the internet everything is faster.  Before the internet, DVDs, and even VCRs, it used to take me ages to work through one of my actor obsessions.  I would search through the TV guide looking for movies that were airing (yes, kids, there actually used to be movies shown on regular, non-cable TV!) and take endless trips to the library searching through periodical indexes and microfiche machines looking for information.  As a teenager I kept a card file of my favorite actors and all their roles—my very own low tech imdb.  Now with everything at my fingertips on the internet, I can zip through an actor’s entire body of work  in days and weeks instead of months, so then I have to move on to somebody else.

So at the moment it’s Jonathan Jackson.  He’s a musician as well as an actor, so a couple of his CDs should arrive in the mail this week.  His band is called Enation, and I like the brief clips I’ve listened to online.  I have no idea if I’ll actually like a whole song.  My taste in music is obscure, eclectic and weird.  Most people wouldn’t even call it taste.  It was a risk ordering the Enation CDs, but I love ordering music from CD Baby, and their summer sale is awesome (selected CDs, three or more, five dollars each).  The best part about ordering from CD Baby is the email you get when they ship your order.  I would describe it, but I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun.  Just order from them and see, if you haven’t already. 

Enation is doing a free online concert this Thursday, and here’s the poster:

Enation internet concert

I’ll be checking it out.  Hopefully my CDs will have arrived by then so I’ll already be familiar with some of the songs. 

Well, I’ve got to go back to YouTube now.  I’m up to early 1994, and little Lucky Spencer is in the hospital trying to avoid a mob hit.  Tomorrow I will tune into the current episode of GH to see who survived the car bomb.  It’s such a full life.

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