Tag Archives: Twitter

Confessions of a Computer Junkie

I am an internet addict.  I once used the internet as a tool, but now spending time on the computer visiting the same sites repeatedly has become my primary form of entertainment.  Frankly, it’s not very entertaining.  I’m not reading books or watching movies the way I did before.  So, in order to break out of this bad habit, I’ve made a Lenten vow to cut the time I spend on the internet in half.  I’m not counting my work in photoshop, because that’s usually creative.  I’m also not reducing the time I spend writing, whether it’s for posts here or messages to friends.  These are too important and too satisfying.  It’s just not productive to check my visitor stats three times an hour, or twitter or facebook or email or ebay or YouTube.  So far, it’s working out okay.  I’ve read half a book in the last two days, and I’m even enjoying my time on the computer more than before.  I’m hoping that the time I spend away will result in more interesting blog posts, since the quality of what entertains me is reflected here.

I have another confession to make.  I spend way too much time on the internet correcting mistakes and submitting complaints.  I’m constantly removing my hands from the keyboard and telling myself, “You are not the internet police.  This is not your job!”  Here’s a good example.  Tonight my book club is discussing Willa Cather’s Death Comes For The Archbishop.  I got the book out of the library over the summer, kept it for nine weeks, and never got past page fifty.  We have a very good rule at book club—you can come if you haven’t read the book, but you can’t join in the discussion.  If I don’t go to enjoy the company, not to mention all the wine and snacks, then I’ll just sit at home browsing the internet again.  This morning I went to cliffsnotes.com (oh, the horror!) to read the summary in order to follow tonight’s discussion. There was a sloppy error in the synopsis, obvious even to someone who hasn’t read the book, so of course I had to submit a correction to the site.  Yesterday I complained to iTunes because I had to enter my credit card number and mailing address just to use the “like” button on an album page.  It’s bad enough that you have to waste time downloading an entire software package just to browse their store.  Spending less time on the computer will not reduce my urge to correct and complain, but I won’t have as much time to follow through.

I know I need to stay off ebay, but at least I rarely spend money there.  I have become fascinated by the selling of cancelled checks as “authenticated autographs.”  Seriously.  People are auctioning bank checks, either written to or by celebrities.  When they’re written to a celebrity, it’s the endorsement on the back that is the valued autograph.  Woe to any collector whose favorite celebrity had an accountant that used a rubber stamp!  My favorite so far is a check written by Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched) to a Hollywood grocery store in 1974.  It is the amount that intrigues me.  Back in 1974, you could buy an awful lot of groceries for $560.  Was she having a party?  Somebody has already purchased this gem, but not to worry.  There are two other checks written by Montgomery that are still for sale.  I can’t help wondering about the more recent checks, with account numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers on them.  They haven’t been blacked out and can be seen clearly in the images posted on the internet.  There really isn’t any privacy anymore.  Of course, with paypal and online banking, handwritten checks themselves will soon become antiques from another age.

The other night, I tweeted my intention to spend less time on the internet.  I woke up to find a whole bunch of new people following me on twitter.  Is this supposed to be an affirmation or a temptation?!

Update:  I got a friendly note from the webmaster at cliffsnotes.com thanking me for my correction.  ITunes sent a customer service survey asking me for my opinion of the response I never received about my complaint!

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My Year End Wrap Up 2011

Another year comes to a close, so now it’s time to reflect back over what entertained me in 2011.  I just looked at the wrap up from last year, to get an idea of how far I’ve come in twelve months.  It’s clear that my focus has shifted in two directions.   I spent a large part of this year with my head in London, after watching the 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables in March.  I also headed back to the past in a big way, once I started watching RetroTV and MeTV during a summer of unbearable television on the big networks.   These two obsessions have a major influence on my best and worst list of 2011.

Best Books:  Most of the novels I liked this year were written for children and teens.  I particularly enjoyed Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (the 2011 Newbery Award winner) and Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John.  Guitar Boy by MJ Auch and Countdown by Deborah Wiles weren’t perfect, but they each stayed with me long after reading.  My favorite non-fiction book was The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, which managed to make the periodic table interesting to someone who barely paid attention to science in high school.  The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan was a little book filled with some gems, and it goes into the “hard to categorize” category.  The funniest books were Demitri Martin’s This is A Book, and Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz & David Hayward.  The biggest disappointments were The Sherlockian by Graham Moore and The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz.  The lesson here is to give up on Sherlock Holmes in books and stick to the BBC.

Best Television:  The Big Bang Theory remains my favorite sitcom, just for being consistently funny.  The best line: “Let’s hurry up and watch this Star Wars blu-ray before George Lucas changes it again!” (Sorry for the paraphrase.)  NCIS consistently underwhelmed me, and I’m can’t help wondering if I’ll give up on it soon.  In spite of my declaration to boycott Masterpiece on PBS, I still watched and enjoyed Downton Abbey, Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen, Jason Isaac as Jackson Brodie, and the Inspector Lewis mysteries.  I spent my summer wrapped up in the old series Da Vinci’s Inquest, and my winter has been dominated by reruns of The Rifleman.  Overall, the television program with the biggest impact this year was the Les Mis concert on PBS.

Best Twitter:  Last year, Matthew Gray Gubler was my favorite tweeter.  He’s still whimsical and original, but now most of his tweets are links to his tumblr page.  I hate tumbr, so this is a big strike against him.  Sorry, Gube.  West End performer Hadley Fraser can be great on twitter, but he goes quiet for long stretches.  Ramin Karimloo tweets with sincerity, but all those tattoo photos freak me out!  Matt Lucas, Josh Groban and Yigit Pura have been consistently entertaining, and Shah Rukh Khan’s twitter feed has a good balance of the personal and professional.

Best Movies:  I did slightly better than last year getting out to see new films on the big screen.  I really enjoyed X-Men: First Class, The Descendants, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.   I’m not sure The Phantom of The Opera 25th Anniversary simulcast even counts in this category!  At the Frameline Film Festival, I enjoyed Kawa and Spork.  I have many more late 2011 films to see on DVD when they’re released in 2012.

Best DVDs:  I watched a lot of bad DVDs this year, just because they featured actors that I liked.  I really need to get over this habit!  While not necessarily bad, I endured a lot of fighting and CGI in movies like Thor, Captain America, and Centurion, just so I could see actors Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, JJ Feild, and Michael Fassbender.  I tried to watch all ten Best Picture Oscar nominees on DVD, but I faltered at 7½.  I did love The King’s Speech.  I hate to admit it, but I think my most entertaining DVD experience this year was re-watching JJ Abrams’ Star Trek with a friend.

Best StreamingDa Vinci’s Inquest and The Rifleman on hulu were great, even though I was also watching these series on broadcast television.  The worst: when Netflix split their charges for DVDs by mail versus streaming.  I tried a month of streaming only.  It was a disaster.  Nothing I wanted to watch would play without long pauses to reload.  Now that I’m getting DVDs only, the Netflix site doesn’t tell me what is available streaming only.  Netflix, you’ve got a long way to go before you win back my trust.  One free DVD rental for Christmas isn’t enough.

Best TheatreLes Mis and The Phantom of the Opera, obviously, even though I didn’t see either show live in an actual theatre.  I had some fun at San Francisco’s BATS Improv, especially seeing their Spontaneous Broadway.

Best Music:  I’ve spent most of my time listening to Josh Groban, Hadley Fraser, Sheytoons (Hadley Fraser and Ramin Karimloo), and Johnny Crawford.   Another favorite is the song Electricity from Billy Elliot (the stage musical).  Still, nothing beats Hadley Fraser singing Again.  The worst music this year?  Whatever was playing in the trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Gack.

Best Music Video:  It really doesn’t count, but I can’t help it.  I love Josh Groban Sings Kanye West Tweets.

Best Entertainment News:  Following the news from London about West End performers from the Les Mis concert has entertained me at least as much as the concert itself.  It brought me new friendships with fellow fans from all over, and it kicked off the practice of having guest bloggers here at The Ugly Bug Ball.  If I’m blogging less about the West End, it’s only because things are pretty quiet right now.  2012 promises some guest reviews of Ramin Karimloo as Valjean.

Entertainer of The Year:  Last year was easy.  This year, it’s difficult to choose.  Johnny Crawford is great, but he came along late, at the end of November.  I blogged the most often about Hadley Fraser.  He provided me with a rich variety of entertainment, between the Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera performances, the online news and tweets, the music recordings and the YouTube videos.  Still, Ian Tracey beats Fraser out for sheer volume.  Tracey has been working steadily since he was a teenager, and even without an online presence (no tweets, fansites, or facebook page) he provided me with the most hours of entertainment.  I’m going to have to declare a tie between Hadley Fraser and Ian Tracey.  Congratulations, guys.  There’s no prize, but you get my sincere thanks.  I’m sorry I can’t promise you my exclusive loyalty, because there’s always going to be a Johnny-Come-Lately waiting in the wings!

Hadley Fraser and Ian Tracey

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire in the Les Mis concert; Ian Tracey as Adam Worth in Sanctuary

Next: What I’m excited about in 2012.  Happy New Year, everyone!

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Filed under Actors, Literature, Movies, Music, Television, The Internet, Theatre

A Twitter Goof

twitter-matt-lucas-exchange-9-23-11

This was just too funny not to share.  It reminds me of a story Anne Murray told at a concert years ago, about some fans who gushed about how much they loved her, then asked her to autograph a photo of Helen Reddy.

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The Enation Tutorial

A beginner’s guide and 12 step program for becoming a fan of the indie band Enation.

1.  Watch General Hospital and become intrigued by Lucky Spencer and Jonathan Jackson.  (This first step can be swapped with many others, such as watch One Tree Hill, watch Saved By The Bell: The New Class, eat at Galeotti’s Restaurant, hear about this band from a friend, etc.)

2.  Visit the official Enation website.  Follow the link to CD Baby to check out the music.  Listen to the music samples.  Order three of the CDs because you can’t resist a good sale, but don’t tell anyone because it’s embarrassing to buy three CDs before you’ve heard a full song.

3.  Receive your three CDs in the mail and start playing them constantly.  Find a small problem with one of the CDs and feel delighted, because it means you get to send the band an email.  Get a response to your email and feel stupidly excited.

4.  Go to Ustream and watch the archived live concert, live rehearsal and live interview.  Find the answer to the question, what does the name Enation mean?  Then go to YouTube and watch the videos on EnationMusic’s channel, Daniel Sweatt’s channel (which are the funniest!), Jonathan Jackson’s channel, and then check out the fan videos.

5.  Go to facebook and “like” Enation’s fan page, and while you’re at it, “like” Jonathan Jackson’s page and Richard Lee Jackson’s page.  

6.  Go to twitter and “follow” Enation, Jonathan Jackson, Richard Lee Jackson, and Daniel Sweatt.  Add their twitter feeds to your Google Reader.

7.  Go back to the Enation official website and join Enation Army.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for your first “monthly” newsletter. 

8.  Go to the band’s Myspace page, if you can remember how, just because it’s there and you’re obsessed now.   Find some other fans online to chat with about the band, because you’re starting to annoy your friends and co-workers.

9.  Go to Amazon.com and order your first mp3 player so you can buy the Enation albums at CD Baby that are only available as downloads. 

10.  Go back to the official Enation website, order an autographed Enation photo from the band’s store.  Feel a little bit of disappointment when the photo arrives because it doesn’t have Luke Galeotti’s autograph on it.  Then see it as an opportunity to get it autographed when you finally see the band perform live.  Print out a small photo of Luke, because you’ve downloaded hundreds of photos off the internet, then stick it on the band photo and pretend he’s in the picture.

11.  Start buying lottery tickets, and hold off planning your vacation until the band announces another set of tour dates.

12.  Wait patiently (or impatiently) for the next concert, the next CD, the next tee shirt, the next tweet, the next DVD, the next book of poetry, the next video, the next monthly(?) newsletter…because now you’re hooked.

Enation (click to see big and even bigger)

 

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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.

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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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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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Tweets and Doctor Who

I hate Twitter.  The feeds take too long to load, too few tweets load on the page after you hit the refresh button, and most people have nothing interesting to say.   There’s one great big exception, though.  I love Matthew Gray Gubler’s Twitter page.  Gubler is an artist, filmmaker, and actor.  (He plays the skinny genius on Criminal Minds.)  His Twitter page is decorated with his weird drawings, and his tweets always make me smile.  He’s never crude or mean-spirited but always unique and eccentric.  This is a guy who sleeps in his LA apartment at Christmas in a special pup tent.  Whose favorite holiday is Halloween but he’s allergic to pumpkins.  Who always wears mismatched socks.  Who never takes himself too seriously.  These days I don’t even log into my twitter account.  I just go straight to twitter.com/GUBLERNATION.

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

So, did you watch the new Doctor Who?  I was really worried that the new doctor wouldn’t be as good as the last two, but I think Matt Smith has some nice qualities.  He looks like a cartoon with his square jaw, but he’s a sweeter, gentler doctor.  I’m not sure I like the latest costume, as it’s kind of ordinary.  It’s not a major distraction, though.

My favorite Doctor Who episode of all time (not that I’ve seen them all, mind you) is The Empty Child, from the season with Christopher Eccleston as the doctor.  I’m fascinated by stories about The Blitz (even science fiction), and besides, this episode introduced Captain Jack Harkness.

Update:  This is me, dropping in from the future, just like the Doctor would, to say that I’ve now seen the entire season of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who.  It’s January 22, 2010, so that took some time!  He really grew on me, and Amy Pond, too.  I love how the entire season looped around on itself, and the way the future Doctor was dropping clues throughout the episodes.  I’m still puzzled by the waving Amy and Rory in the distance, in The Hungry Earth, because I kept expecting that to come up again.   Maybe it will be in the next series?  Can’t wait!

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