Category Archives: Pop Culture

2013 Champ: Selfie


“Selfie” is the top new word of 2013, according to the Oxford Dictionaries. It’s a photo you take of yourself (usually on a cell phone).

Following close behind were:

  • Twerk. Thank you, Miley Cyrus, for popularizing this move.
  • Binge-watch: viewing a bunch of TV episodes in one sitting.
  • Showrooming: looking at a product in a store, then buying it cheaper online (which describes the relationship between Best Buy and Amazon).

I have never, to my knowledge, twerked. However, I’ve taken a few selfies (usually while holding our cat, Jordi). Pam and I occasionally binge-watch. And I admit to showrooming, most frequently at Barnes & Noble.

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The Scorched Earth Assault of the Smartphone

Interesting piece on about industries that are losing money because of the popularity of smartphones.

  • Handheld electronic gaming systems
  • Board games.
  • Digital cameras and camcorders.
  • Garmin GPS devices.
  • Portable DVD players.
  • Built-in car navigation packages
  • iPods (yes, Apple is cannibalizing itself)

Those are the ones mentioned in the article. I would guess these products are also affected.

  • Pocket calculators.
  • Daytimers.
  • Portable voice recorders.
  • Printed periodicals.
  • Photo albums.

What am I missing?

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Excuses for the Not-So-Well Kept Home

For all of us whose homes are not usually tidy and ready for unexpected visitors: here’s one I’ve never thought of using. It comes from the late great Phyllis Diller: “If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet them with, ‘Who could have done this? We have no enemies.'” Diller, of course, is more famous for the line, “Housework won’t kill you, but then again, why take the chance?” (With apologies to Mom.)

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Nolte Vs. Travis

Nick Nolte (left) and Randy Travis

For many years now, Nick Nolte has been the undisputed champ of the celebrity mugshot. But now along comes upstart Randy Travis, who apparently made a New Year’s Resolution out of unseating Nolte. In February, he was arrested for public intoxication while sitting in front of a church, but his resulting mugshot was nothing to write home about. So, on August 7, he gave it another shot.

This time, Travis was found drunk, laying on the side of a road, and naked. We’re talking serious points for both style and execution. Bonus points for resisting arrest. And this time, he gave the world a mugshot for the ages.

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Are Electronic Readers Hurting TV Viewership?

An interesting study from internet service shows that most iPad reading occurs 7-11 pm. We can probably assume that the same is true of persons with the other electronic readers, which ReadItLater couldn’t track–the Nook, Kobo, and dozens of others.

This reading is occurring during Prime Time TV. Are people replacing TV with actual reading? Tell me it’s not true!

CNN reported on this. The article noted that people may be multitasking–reading on their iPad with the TV on. CNN wrote, “It’s something of a return to a traditional leisure hour image: People settling down on the couch after the evening meal to read the paper or a book, possibly to listen to the radio at the same time.”

I find myself doing the same thing with my Nook–the TV is on, and I’m aware of what’s showing, but I’m also reading. And reading takes a lot more concentration, so the TV becomes background stuff. Sometimes, God forbid, I even turn the TV off completely!

The article points out that TV execs won’t like this, because they want your full attention. They don’t want you burying your head in a book, newspaper, or iPad during commercials.

But I think it’s great. Anything that encourages more reading.

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Lindsay Lohan Vs. the Judge

lindsay-lohan-mugshot.jpgI’ve been amused by Lindsay Lohan’s recent antics, supposedly losing her passport and all. She’s obviously got a good lawyer who is scrambling to keep her out of jail.Her name is Shawn Chapman Holley.

But on the other side is Judge Marsha Revel, an unsympathetic cynic of all things Lindsay. Actually, I think she’s been giving in too much. But it’s been amusing reading some of the exchanges between the judge and the lawyer.

This week, Holley asked the judge to let Lohan forgo wearing an alcohol-detecting ankle bracelet, because Lohan had to go to Texas to reshoot some scenes for an upcoming movie. So the judge checked with 20th Century Fox, the film studio. No reshoots were scheduled. The movie was well into post-production. Busted!

But this one really made me laugh.

Last week, Lohan missed a court-ordered alcohol counseling class. Holley said Lohan missed it because her uncle died.

“Did she go to the funeral?” Judge Revel asked.

“She did not,” Holley answered.

I love it.

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Making Divorce Way too Easy

larry-king.jpgBelinda Luscome wrote this tremendous (and very funny) column in the May 3 edition of Time magazine, called “Should Larry King’s Marriage License be Revoked?

The occasion is the breakup of Larry King’s eight marriage; she calls him the “octospouse.” She refers to other serial spouses, like Liz Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Mickey Rooney. And then she wonders why we allow this.

“In no other area of life can grown people flame out so often and so badly and still get official permission to go ahead and do the same thing again. If your driving is hazardous to those around you, your license is suspended. Fail too many courses at college, and you’ll get kicked out. You can lose your medical or law license for a single infraction. …So why do people who are committed vows abusers keep getting handed marriage licenses at city hall? If batters and violent offenders get only three strikes, why should bad spouses get more?”

The article is quite funny, especially toward the end when she gives some great tongue-in-cheek solutions. But amidst the levity is a lot of truth.

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Our Love Affair With Bluejeans

I was at Cunningham Optical this afternoon getting a new lens (just the right eye–again). As I waited, I noticed how many customers were wearing bluejeans. Every single person who passed by me was wearing bluejeans. It’s something I had mused over previously.

Bluejeans, it seems, is the Great American Uniform. It’s what we wear when we’re not working (and for some lucky folks, it’s what they wear when they are working). In a society that worships  individualism, we all prefer denim.

I came late to the bluejeans world. I didn’t get my first pair of bluejeans, I believe, in 9th grade. I remember feeling like a whole different person, that person being “not a square.” Back then, if I remember right, we just called them Levis. There were basically two brands: Levi Strauss and Lee, but the generic “Levis” got attached to both.

Now, of course, everybody makes denim pants, so the even more generic “bluejeans” is needed. I own denim by Levi Strauss, Sonoma, Eddie Bauer, and Lee. As I type, I’m wearing my Eddie Bauers.

When I went to Honduras last week, I didn’t take bluejeans. They can be stiff. Instead, I wore casual pants, Dockers. Much more comfortable on an airplane, and they can double as dress-up pants. I remember when Dockers came out, and for a while you wondered if they would supplant bluejeans as the Pants of Choice. But after this flirtation, we reverted to our tried-and-true denim, and let Dockers reign on Casual Friday.

Denim, clearly, has a death-grip on Americans.

And, from the look of it, the rest of the world.

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Blockbuster, I Really Really Loathe You.

Pam and I returned to Blockbuster for the first time since 2002. That’s how long we’ve been doing Netflix. We needed to rent a Playstation game for Cameron, my nephew. Can’t get those with Netflix.

Cameron: I stood in line for 30 minutes! Just to rent a game. Do you appreciate your uncle, or what?

The experience reaffirmed my membership in–and now, I realize, unbridled devotion to–Netflix. For less than $20 a month, we get 3 videos at a time, with a two-day turnaround, which means we could probably watch 30 videos a month, if we really tried. Plus, we can stream scores of other videos directly to our TV or computer.

The experience today reminded me of the insanity that is Blockbuster:

  • Drive to the store, several miles away.
  • Search for a parking spot in the terribly inadequate lot.
  • Browse the shelves, trying to decide what to rent.
  • The number of videos available is a tiny fraction of what you can get on Netflix.
  • You end up selecting something that’s available, whether or not it’s what you really wanted.
  • Stand in line for eons.
  • High rental cost.
  • Drive back to the store to return the videos within 5 days.
  • Late fees (no late fees with Netflix).

Considering the convenience of Netflix, how does Blockbuster even stay in business?

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Apple’s Glorious Decade

We obnoxious Apple fanatics love to gloat. And so, I offer you the Adweek “picks of the decade.”

  • Top Brand: Apple.
  • Top product: iPod
  • Ad Campaign of the Decade: Get a Mac.
  • Top Marketer: Steve jobs.

Of those wonderful “Get a Mac” ads, Adweek writes:

Apple always diverged from the ‘speeds and feeds’ ads associated with the computer category, but the brand really defined itself with the 2006 launch of TBWA\Media Arts Lab’s ‘Get a Mac’ campaign. That series of 60-plus ads brought some humanity into the equation by turning the machines into live-action cartoons. In so doing, the comic spots offer transparent understanding of the aspirations of its audience and how people identify–and connect emotionally–with technology.

The genius is in the casting. The Mac guy, Justin Long, is a younger version of Steve Jobs who is casual and comfortable in his skin. PC, personified by John Hodgman, as a rounder, paler Bill Gates, is a well-meaning geek with all kinds of operating problems. For Apple, the campaign managed the neat trick of making the brand look laid back and cool while it mercilessly skewered its rival.

Google was named Technology Company of the Decade, and Youtube was named Best Website. Missing in action is Microsoft.

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