Archive for May, 2008
Disturbing Trend 1 – Baby Names
Top 10 Girl Names
At first I thought that this was a joke. Madison and Addison? Aiden and Jayden? After checking several sources, I discovered that it was accurate. My age group has decided to turn a whole generation of kids into a British period novel. Those names read like the end credits of a Merchant Ivory film
The girls list sounds like an uptight group of prissy prima donnas. With the exception of Jack and Matt, any name on the boys list would have immediately gotten me beaten up in grade school. Aiden and Caleb may quite possibly be the wussiest boy names of all time.
Whatever happened to Steve and Jason, or Stephanie and Jessica? If I was planning on having a kid, I would name him something tough sounding like Mike or Tony. I would then instruct him to beat up any boy with these names, and never to date a girl with any of these names.
Disturbing Trend 2 – Movie Remakes
I know Hollywood has been remaking movies for quite a while, so this is nothing new. However, most of the movies selected for remakes were either classic or quite old. Now, not so much. The biggest source of movie remakes is now crappy old tv shows or video games. And another remake of The Incredible Hulk? The last one came out a few years ago! It’s actually such a major trend that it is now the actual plot of a movie.
Disturbing Trend 3 – Aspiring To Become Famous On YouTube
When I first saw YouTube, it was mostly just random funny clips. Lately it is mostly just cleavage and rap videos. However, what’s really troublesome is the large number of people trying to launch a career in entertainment through YouTube. That seems about as likely as becoming a famous actor by starting out in porn. This trend is so prevalent that these not-even-D-listers were the focus of Weezer’s latest video
Being famous without receiving the money that is typically associated with being an entertainer sounds terrible. It’s Rich and Famous, not just Famous. To quote Chuck Klosterman, “You will be the kind of person who suddenly gets recognized at places like Burger King, but you will still be the kind of person who eats at places like Burger King.” And since YouTube is free and will hopefully always be free, this is not a good plan for making a living. Someone needs to needs to sit these misguided individuals down and smack some sense into them. I recommend this guy.
Disturbing Trend 4 – Not Mixing Friends
I had forgotten what a trend this tends to be in St. Louis. Apparently, mixing groups of friends together for social gatherings has become even more taboo in St. Louis while I was gone. High school friends and college friends don’t mix. Work friends and neighborhood friends don’t mix. This trend is so strong that I don’t even see people trying it anymore. When this is attempted, these groups tend to congregate with each other and separate at parties.
I have decided that I will personally buck this trend henceforth. I was planning on going to the Cardinals game on Wednesday, so I called every guy in my phonebook and invited them. I’ll be mixing high school friends with college friends and work friends. I am predicting some kind of explosion or quite possibly a fist fight.
When I joined MySpace about two-and-a-half years ago, it seemed like a novel way to waste time. There were not too many people on the site yet, and there wasn’t a whole lot to the site. After six months, the site gained quite a bit of popularity rather quickly. Suddenly, there were tons of people I knew on the site, several of whom I had not seen in years. Seeing what several of my old acquaintances were up to without the hassle of talking to them on the phone seemed fairly convenient. I even talked my then fiancée into making a page.
Then a funny little thing happened. MySpace was purchased by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. This began the slow transformation of MySpace from a social networking site to a marketing tool. My wife noticed the transformation, and bailed on her page over a year ago. I decided to stick with it, continuing to post blogs and pics up until my wedding last October.
In that time I noticed that the advertising went from subtle to overt. Having sponsors is alright, but having the entire page as one big ad for whatever crappy movie Dane Cook or Jessica Alba just released gets a bit old. So was getting ten friend requests from local butt-rock bands or sexy singles in my area.
Even worse is how several of my friends’ pages have become mostly advertising as well. Letting me know your group has an upcoming event is fine, but posting fifteen all-caps bulletins about an event in a two day span is rather annoying. After the wedding, I moved my blog to Blog-City and I have been slowly pulling away from MySpace since. I’ve noticed that no one really comments anymore and several of my friends have pulled away from the site.1
Now it seems that the migration is headed towards Facebook. This seems to me to be mostly due to the aforementioned over-advertising problem that I also see affecting YouTube. This migration from Facebook seems to be such a trend that MySpace has recently started to feel the financial effects. Accordingly, Rupert Murdoch is now trying to buy Facebook.
This long winded explanation is my impetus for finally putting information on my Facebook page. More friends and less product placement seems like the way to go. For those of you who are reading this whom were recently contacted by me via Facebook: Hello! If your curious about what I’ve been up to, here’s a quick summary: I moved to Florida, got married, and recently moved back to St. Louis. Please drop me a line and say hello. I’m trying to do better at responding.
As far as MySpace is concerned, I have decided to do a little spring cleaning to my friends list. I will be deleting people that I don’t really know as well as a few chronic overposters.2
I’m not going to completely abandon MySpace, as I still find it amusing from time to time. Likewise, I don’t really see me logging lots of hours on Facebook. I have a home on the internet, and it is here at The Captain’s Quarters. Please feel free to join me here anytime.
1 When Bill stopped posting two survey bulletins a day, I knew that something had changed dramatically.
2 I’m looking at you Roller Girls
I am without a typical topic to rant about, so I thought I would post a random update about my life. First, as you may or may have not noticed, I added a couple of new features on the side column of my page. I thought about naming the new countdown “Days till the Death of My Youth,” but I decided “Countdown to Thirty” has a nicer ring.
I also added a completion tracker for my progress in Grand Theft Auto IV, which of course means that I am officially addicted to said video game. I started the game on Sunday, and I am predictably hooked. I figured that adding the completion tracker would be a good way for my friends to know how long I will remain submerged in my fortress of nerditude. I found an old clip that pretty well sums up what I will be up to for the next several weeks.
Besides tweaking my blog, I’ve been busy being social and seeing the town. On Friday I went to a local music showcase at the Pageant featuring my favorite local band, The Hibernauts. They put on an excellent live show, so much so that the Riverfront Times chose their cd release party last year as the best local concert of 2007. This was one of their last shows before they head back into the studio to record their next album, and there was quite a large turnout. I encourage everyone to check them out, so they can claim to like them before they sold out.1
Finally, I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate my lovely wife on her new job. Not only was she was hired back to the company she was with before we left for Florida, but she managed to get her former boss’ job. How amazing is that! This is a great opportunity, and I could not be prouder of her if I tried. Way to go darling, you deserve it.
1 I was wicked guilty of this back in the nineties.
Of all the places that I would expect to change dramatically in five years, I can safely say that I would not pick Branson, Missouri. This past week has proven me wrong. I spent two nites in Branson for a convention last week, and was quite surprised by how much has changed.
For those of you lucky souls who have never been, Branson was created to be a country/family-fun tourist destination in the foothills of the Missouri Ozark Mountains. This translated into an abundance of country music stage shows, craft fairs, buffets, neon signs, and all-around bad taste.
Most of the people I grew up with have agreed that Branson was specifically designed to torture young children in the eighties. A typical trip to Branson involved sitting through a show featuring an early version of the “redneck comedy” schtick, watching an old guy play the saw with a bow, standing around bored to tears while my mom looked at a table of wood carvings, and a day at Silver Dollar City.1
In the nineties Branson became known as a who’s-who of washed up celebrities from the sixties and seventies like Wayne Newton, Andy Williams, Tony Orlando and Yakov Smirnoff.
The rest of the town was the type of stuff that Clark Griswold would enjoy, like the world largest ball of twine. I went to college about an hour away from Branson, and made at least one trip a year down to openly mock everything in site, or to hit the water park and go-kart tracks. The last time I was there was in 2003 to visit the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre.2
In that time Branson has been quite busy trying to actually become Vegas For Christians. Branson now has the world’s largest indoor theatre, which features a musical about Noah’s Ark complete with live animals onstage. Sounds wicked lame, but the theatre looked nice from the outside. Branson spent tons of money to build a riverfront shopping and outdoor dining district. This was right across the street from the convention center/hotel where I was staying, and it was actually quite nice. It features a Vegas style water fountain show that shoots flames in time with “God Bless America.”
I had a chance to speak with the mayor of Branson for about twenty minutes, and she told me quite a bit about the future of her town. Apparently all of the investments are starting to really pay off. Branson is one year away from opening America’s first completely privately funded international airport, which is actually quite impressive. She said that despite only having 7,500 residents, Branson had 8.4 million visitors last year. The tourism industry has grown steadily at 3-7% over the last several years, and looks to do well this year despite the looming recession.
I actually enjoyed Branson for the first time in my life last week. This was because I mostly stayed around the hotel to enjoy the view.
Strange how a place that brought so much stress in my childhood years is now actually a nice place to relax for a few days.
1 The most boring theme park ever, featuring two super-lame coasters, way too many people in costumes, and an overabundance of the old-timey-tin-photo booths.
2 Shoji’s theatre is known for having million-dollar bathrooms. The first time I went inside the aforementioned bathrooms, I was using the fancy urinals with shave ice in the bottom when two huge rednecks with actual ten gallon cowboy hats walked in. The first redneck turned to his friend and said loudly “Damn, this shitter is nicer than my whole house.”
I have been back in my hometown for a month now. Despite the chilly weather I have for the most part enjoyed being back in St. Louie, with some notable exceptions. Accordingly, I am posting a special all St. Louis Edition of Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht. Please enjoy.
The Return of Downtown– Ach, Ja
The redevelopment that is occurring downtown is amazing. While the area still has a ways to go, it has made tremendous progress thus far. The recently opened Flamingo Bowl is cooler than Pin-Up Bowl on Delmar , and twice as big. A gorgeous, brand new block of first floor shops with second floor apartments is opening up this summer across the street from our loft. Construction recently began on the downtown Schnucks grocery store and the new garden project. I haven’t been this excited about downtown since going to the McDonald’s Riverboat when I was a kid.
The I-64 Countdown – Nicht Nicht
The closure of I-641 earlier this year sucks, particularly if I ever wanted to drive to Chesterfield for some reason2.
However, I think this redevelopment is actually a good thing and needed to happen a long time ago. What is garnering my Nicht Nicht is this “I-64 Countdown” sign that I pass by everyday on the way to work.
Not only does this sign remind me that this project is 19 friggin’ months away from completion, it also helps me to ponder my own death slowly as it counts the passage of time. Both great thoughts at 7:30 a.m. Thanks MODOT, money well spent.
2008 Cardinals – Ach, Ja
To say that the Cardinals have been a pleasant surprise this season is an understatement. Sports Illustrated, ESPN and The Sporting News all picked the Cubs to finish first and the Cardinals to finish fifth in the central division this year. The Vegas odds on the Cubs finishing first were 4-1, with the Cards at 15-1. Instead, the Cardinals won two of three against the Cubs this weekend, and they have the second best record in the major leagues behind the Diamondbacks. The Cardinals actually have a better record than any team in the America League. Let’s go Cards!
As an added bonus, there are actually tickets available for almost every home game this year. The high prices of tickets and low expectations for the team this year have resulted in most of the home games not being sold out. I can walk right up to the ticket window and get a seat for almost any game. In fact, last week we obtained four tickets for the Cubs game on Saturday, the fifth of July. Games like this used to sell out the first day tickets went on sale. A good team with available seats works out particularly well for me now that I live a twenty-minute walk away from the stadium.
The 100% Allergen Count In The Air – Nicht Nicht
I had forgotten how bad allergies are in the Midwest. St. Louis usually ranks somewhere in the top five in the nation for allergies . I know that moving back in Spring isn’t exactly the best timing, but damn the pollen is bad here. It’s so bad it actually lowered our new third baseman’s batting average .
City And State Leaders Being Proactive For A Change – Ach, Ja
Back in March I sat in on a fascinating presentation discussing an upcoming effort to designate St. Louis the Midwest air-cargo hub for China. China currently uses American companies like UPS and FedEx to ship most of its air cargo to America. Chinese leaders have indicated that soon they plan on shipping the cargo using Chinese planes. City and State leaders are putting their differences aside and are creating a concentrated effort to make St. Louis the place where these planes will land in the Midwest. The Chinese Ambassador visited St. Louis for a couple of day back in February, and several of our leaders over to China last month. So far everything has gone well, and I really hope it continues. This would be a great boost for the economy here in St. Louis.
NewsChannel 5 – Nicht Nicht
I forgot how pompous and narcissistic way our NBC affiliate is. I guess years of hearing KSDK’s ostentatious newscast must have numbed me into no longer noticing their pretension. They start off every newscast and commercial with “NewsChannel 5, First in HD.” I didn’t know it was a race. Why not follow it up with “First in Color,” or “First in Moving Pictures.” They’re running dangerously close to “NewsChannel 5, We Invented News.”
St. Louis Cuisine – Ach, Ja
I’ve spent the last month eating all the food I was missing in Florida, which apparently is a lot. Besides the seafood, Florida is rather bland when it comes to food. Bad pizza, bad pasta, bad barbecue. Accordingly, I ate at Imo’s, Pasta House and Bandanas the first week I was home.
People Who Won’t Shut Up About The Recent Earthquakes – Nicht Nicht
Wow, the ground shook for less than a minute. It rattled your porcelain plate collection. You’re dogs started barking. Who cares! Do you know what they would call our earthquake in California? Another Tuesday.
Bars Open Till 3 a.m. – Ach, Ja
St. Louis has some of the latest last calls in the country . While this can lead to trouble,
I still think this is a fantastic idea. Drinking till the wee hours of the morning have never caused anyone any kind of trouble.3
National Perception Of St. Louis – Nicht Nicht
Living in the South has made me realize the major differences between the South and the Midwest. The media tends to lump them both together, but they are quite different. NASCAR and confederate flags don’t really fly in St. Louis, unless you’re in Arnold. Yet for some reason, we’re lumped in as shit-kicking, pickup-driving, cousin-molesters while Atlanta gets a free pass. For example, here’s a fat guy from Texas making light of my hometown.
St. Louis has a long history of innovation, transportation, culture, industry and music. Being back home has really given me the desire to help make St. Louis the town it was and can be again. Finally, let me pay honor to my hometown with a clip of Dizzy Gillespe paying tribute on the Muppet Show with “St. Louis Blues.”
1 I have decided to stop referring to I-64 as Highway 40, or “Highway Faartie.” Please join me in calling this road by it’s proper name.
2 And that seems unlikely at best.
3 This is blatantly untrue.