Strange little decade fetishes

24 11 2010

The ’80s are the new ’50s … and the 1990s are the new 1960s, I guess. Eh?

A bit ago, I was listening to the radio (which I haven’t done on a regular basis in years) and except for the sonic gyrations of Katy Perry, everything was pretty much as it was the last time I regularly listened. Or, more accurately, it was like a time machine of my teen years. Alanis Morissette was swallowing her jagged little pill, Weezer was rocking out, Gavin Rossdale was crooning sans Bush, Usher was doing some R&Bing. I looked up some Weird Al Yankovic videos for good measure, because that’s what we listened to when I was 13. And just imagine cruising through certain parts of Maryvale or South Phoenix (or down Boulevard in Atlanta) with Eminem cranked up. Yes. You know the feeling. Or you don’t.

At that moment, I felt that it could have been 1995 or 2000 again. Really, I felt like a time traveler, which tells you something about radio. So imagine that you made a time machine that goes back all the way to 1995, or perhaps a couple years earlier to when Kurt Cobain was still alive and young boys weren’t mourning in pea-green sweater-veils and stringy hair. My, how much the world has changed.

My thoughts immediately turned to the first “Back to the Future,” which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. In that film, the “future” is 1985. Heck, that’s almost before my past now. If you did a parody of that film in today’s world, you could have some kid go all the way back to 1995 and try to get their strung-out grunge-loving dad to marry their grunge-loving mom somewhere in a glamorized pre-hipster conceptualization of the Seattle rock culture. (You might want to bring in Weird Al if you’re planning any parodies.) Universal Studios is already working on the motion-simulator ride for its Hollywood and Orlando theme parks. Or not.

It seems like at the moment, the 1980s and 1990s are getting to be almost as fetishably foreign to us now as the 1950s were then. You already see a lot of romanticization of the 1980s, as evidenced by my recent iTune-age of the “1000 GREATEST HITS OF THE 1980s.”

Time and decades were a difficult concept for me to grasp as a child. “Happy Days” was the ultimate confusion. By that time in my youth, I had learned that there were old things and new things. But the advent of “Happy Days” was a layered mess of reruns of an old series that took place 20 or 30 years before. Very, very confusing for a youngster like me. At the time, people were fascinated with the 1950s in a very special way. Music from the era was all over oldies stations and was popular with other kids. (Side note: it won’t be long before the Phoenix, Arizona, oldies station KOOL FM will be playing Madonna instead of the Marvelettes.) Enter “Back to the Future,” which didn’t make much sense to me when I was very young. Particularly because the second film was coming out and they were going “back to the future” in the movie, weren’t they? But they had done that in the first movie? But that was set in the past, not the future … OK, I get it now.

Incidentally, Back to the Future (the first one) is one of the tightest films or stories I’ve ever seen, plot-wise, and I think that’s why its popularity has endured. Modern movies and films and music would do well to learn from this example, regardless of genre. The key to its memorable nature is its straightforward plot, built in two perfectly intertwined layers so that the time-travel plot is a device for the emotional exploration of Marty’s parents’ relationship. How many things have you seen that balance this dichotomy so well?

Anyway, the point of this post is: leg warmers are going the way of the poodle skirt, Happy Days was awesome, BTTF is awesome, and holy moly, Weird Al is still going strong. Oh, and Gavin Rossdale is still as appealing as he was back in the day. That is all.





Podcasting experiment

6 02 2010


The Big Chicken

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This here is the Big Chicken in Marietta, Georgia. I’m doing a little podcasting experiment since I was in GarageBand messing around with the hats project. It’s called “14 Miles From the Big Chicken.” I’m totally stressing out about whether that’s “14 miles from” or “14 miles to.”

Anyways. Here is an experimental audio podcast that I did (and even a little tumblr I started for it so it would have an RSS feed associated with it).

Weird, huh? I don’t know if I’ll do another one, but I thought it’d be fun.





Oh, Coco, say it ain’t so!

23 01 2010


Conan’s last Tonight Show

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

DISCLAIMER: I’m relating the personal angle I have on the Conan issue. I’m not taking sides on the Jay-Conan debate insofar as which host is better, which time slot is better, whether it’s better to have big hair or a big chin, whether these men are overcompensating for something, etc. I happen to be a fan of both men’s shows, but I choose to focus on Conan here. My opinions do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, their families, my family, subsidiaries, Vampire Diaries or tributaries herein or hereafter.

Last Tuesday, I wore all orange as a sort of thematically appropriate outfit (by accident, really). On Friday, I wore black.. All this weekend, I might just put that orange scarf back on as a tip of the hat to Conan O’Brien, who just finished his last show as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

The finale was touching. It started off with a monologue doing a few hits and jabs at NBC and pending unemployment, plus another one of those “draining NBC’s coffers” sketches. There was a mashup video pulling together footage of Conan running across the country with some favorite bits during the last 7 months. Tom Hanks came out with scotch for the host. Neil Young gave a touching performance of “Long May You Run.” And then Conan made a speech that almost brought tears to his eyes, and mine: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.” He said cynicism is one of his least-favorite attributes and thanked the network for how they treated him. It was a very touching tribute. And then Will Ferrell was Ronnie Von Sant as he performed Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” with guest players including Beck, Ben Harper and a cowbell. Magical!

It’s surprising to me how much a stupid show like this can get me riled up, and how sad I feel now that it’s over. Perhaps it’s because it’s hard not to live vicariously through him. Especially since over the years I’ve occasionally dreamed about saying “See ya! Wouldn’t want to be ya!” to traditional jobs and even going into a comedy or writing profession of my own. It’s for that reason I’m employed in a position where at least some creative latitude and individuality is encouraged. I feel connected in some way, like I have  a stake in his success.

Or perhaps it’s because what we witnessed tonight was the unraveling of one man’s lifelong dream, played out on our television screens. With the economy as it is, lots of folks surely can relate. Or, perhaps we’ve all fallen short of our own expectations on a less-public scale in our lives and we’re now both exploring our own sense of loss and hoping to watch Conan to see if he’s got any clues on how to handle such a situation.

Or, perhaps it’s because that was a darn good show and it would be a dang shame if this man can’t find a way to get back on air.

Maybe all of these.

I was so happy when I found out that Conan was going to host the Tonight Show, although I also felt bad for Jay Leno. I waited five years to see it, and it finally happened. When that video came up and we watched Conan run, run, run from one corner of the country to the other, my heart just leapt. And now I think if I watched the same video, I would cry. I feel like I know the guy. I’ve been sitting in my pajamas, watching that guy, for 13 years going on 14. I was an eighth grader when I first started staying up late and catching glimpses of the kind of goofy Harvard-educated comic with the pompadour. Watching Conan in my formative years literally guided my career. Hearing that he wrote for the Harvard Lampoon inspired me to be a writer as well. His quirky brand of wacky humor and intellectual substance was very intriguing to me. When he got married, I was heartbroken. Other girls were thumbing through Seventeen and Tiger Beat, and I was watching Conan O’Brien. I’m pretty ridiculous, I know.

Evidence of my quasi-obsession can be found in the Angelfire homepage/Conan fan site I created for myself in the mid-1990s, The Orange Baron’s Domain. With all the style and flair of HTML 1.0, it was both my first Internet presence as well as an expression of my own absurdity. The garish orange background is gone by now but let me assure you, that was something to behold when it was fully put-together. (And you can also find my old Mock Trial questions which are tacked on there kind of oddly. That was a spare-time hobby during my junior and senior years.)

In college, I made a point to talk to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog when Presidential Debate Road Show ’04 made a stop at Arizona State University on October 13, 2004. If only the Masturbating Bear had been part of the entourage.

Nowadays, I no longer want to marry Mr. O’Brien and I have a more realistic perspective on things, *LOL* giggle giggle. But I still enjoy the show. So when I see late-night strife happening to Conan, I’m a little hurt. But that’s Show Business, as they say. I’m still a fan of Jay Leno and I’ll support his efforts, too. It’s not going to be easy for the Big-Chinned One to retake his old time slot.

I really hope that online video doesn’t completely do in this TV star. The world would be a less-interesting place without comedians like Conan doing what they do. He’s smart enough and has built up enough cred from this experience that he’ll do well wherever he goes or whatever he does. It’s an exciting but scary time in the media. We’ll see what happens when he’s allowed to talk publicly again. For now, a few months of silence and pompadour-free airwaves await us.





Wow, that sucked: A look back at the “naughty oughties”

31 12 2009


Unopened bag of 2004

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This is a year-by-year look at the decade that saw me becoming a journalist and solidifying my identity, as well as blossoming from an awkward teenager into an semi-awkward adult-ish being.

There is a lot to go into here, but I will start out just going year by year. And, a look at my love of beer. It changed, you’ll see here.

I hope you enjoy this look at history through the lens of me. I mean think about all the politics, the economy, it’s all interrelated. I mean we started out with the attack, then the war, then the cycles of optimism and fear. Interesting decade.

  • 2000: Wrote for the school paper. Was the assistant fine arts editor, and then became entertainment editor. Was known as “Slim Saidi.” Dreamed about graduating from high school and hitting the big time, going all over the place, rocking the world. But first, settled on ASU.
  • 2001: Went to Office Max for Senior Ditch Day, a momentous milestone in my life (and the day I purchased Incubus’ Make Yourself at a Sam Goody-type establishment). Actually graduated from high school. Went to ASU, majored in computer science. 9/11 happened. I found out about it by overhearing conversations in the dorm restroom — about cars on fire, the world burning up, explosions everywhere, they said, and it was simply terrifying. It took a while for classes to be canceled, and I remember everything was so quiet.
  • 2002: My kitty-corner downstairs neighbor in the dorm died and it took three days to find him there — it was really sad. He had the room to himself. There was a burglary and ID theft at the family house while I was away at school, but reality didn’t hit until I was home for the summer. Had major ID theft problems for the rest of the year. Got my first real-ish job, by becoming a road service phone schlock at U-Haul HQ. Lasted a whole two months, but learned a lot and met some cool people. This experience convinced me that I was capable of holding down a job at a national company.
  • 2003: Snuck in through the back door of The State Press over winter break (figuratively speaking) and became the associate Web Devil editor. Decided I no longer wanted to be a computer scientist, and instead wanted to be a journalist, a humanities major, a geographer, a cartographer, a computer geek, maybe an engineer or scientist, really I couldn’t decide. Identity crisis a-go-go. Interned for the media office at the Desert Botanical Garden. Had my first beer this year, thankfully not around any cacti. Somehow I’d avoided it that long.
  • 2004: Became one of two “campus and administration” reporters for The State Press, and discovered I was obsessed with reporting. Worked at the City of Chandler a couple days a week, which created an insane schedule for me given everything I was doing. Turned 21 just before summer and right in the nick of time: Over the summer, traveled to Washington, D.C., and interned for Common Cause’s press office. Learned a lot, had a great time, decided that Budweiser was my Beer. (Not Bud Light) The third presidential debate was held at ASU in October of this year and I got to report on it, and even interview Triumph the Insult Comic Dog for the Web Devil.
  • 2005: The economy was still booming and ASU had ideas and new buildings practically coming out of its orifices. Got a reporting internship at the not-quite-defunct East Valley Tribune and then became Web Devil editor. Couldn’t find ONE job, so I got TWO jobs instead: Media specialist at Pan-American Initiatives at ASU, and also as a writing intern for Choice Hotels International. Drank.
  • 2006: Continued with my jobs but then at some point decided that the current situation was OK, but it was time to move forward. I somehow stumbled on CNN.com, applied on a whim, was accepted, freaked out, grabbed my father and four suitcases, flew out to Atlanta, found a lot of bad apartments, found a good apartment, said goodbye to my Dad, cried a lot, grew up and became a multimedia journalist in Atlanta! Drank a little, here and there.
  • 2007: Moved to a new user participation group that did mysterious things with “iReports” and “Exchange.” Got hired on full-time, and then became the first associate producer (full-time) for the budding User Participation group. Got my first taste of gourmet beer, in the form of a Blue Moon served at a going-away party for a colleague. A coworker explained to me that it was a “Belgian White” and I nodded and said mmm-hmmm-wow-awesome and then went home and did some research. Tried the Sweetwater Georgia Brown as well as the Hummer, and I was well on my way to beer snobbery.
  • 2008: The economy had been teetering a bit, but this is the year it really started going into the pooper. On the plus side, iReport started coming into its own, and I became a Senior Associate Producer. Moved out of my apartment in Dunwoody to a convenient place in midtown. Dealt with serious cockroach problems, moved to a less-convenient and more-expensive place and then went to Los Angeles to chill with the Murray scholars. While there, I met Kato Kaelin. He was pretty chill. Right after that, President Barack Obama was elected on a historic election night. Meanwhile, my taste in beer became increasingly snobby. Phoenix light rail launched December 27.
  • 2009: President Obama was inaugurated and the whole event was a big global Thingy that seemed unprecedented. The economy was much further into the pooper and we called it a recession. I didn’t seem to notice, as I single-handedly held up the country’s gross domestic product by traveling a ton and visiting San Francisco, Paris and London for the first time. Saw Cousin Julie get married in Wisconsin and was reunited with the family, most of whom I see maybe once every five years. Saw the World’s Largest Six-Pack in La Crosse. (Well I mean, just look at the Year in Review. You’ll see what I did in 2009.) My circle of friends practically doubled. Beer snobbery got even worse and maybe a tad pretentious, and the beers got darker and darker. Light rail celebrated its second birthday.
  • 2010: Let’s see what happens!




Merry Christmas and shiznatts

25 12 2009


Red palm

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

Merry Christmas from Arizona! It’s a little warmer and a little less snowy than in some places. And the traditions are a little different. For example, lights on palm trees at Glendale Glitters.

That night we had some nice German food and beverage from Haus Murphy and got so full that
we just had to walk around.





Not the Night Before Christmas Anymore

25 12 2009

OR: BUSTA X-MAS RHYME, YO!

Nerditor’s note: This is an unauthorized, potentially troublesome parody of “The Night Before Christmas” that you can read and love in its original format. What you’re about to read is a twisted, nasty, naughty, weird version of the traditional feel-good holiday poem with a little modern techie spin. I originally posted it on Twitter in 140-character-ish spurts. Some parts were omitted for brevity and to prevent mass-unfollowing from taking place, and so that I could finish by midnight ET for all my peeps on the Atlantic side of things. This is the uncut, unaltered, un-neutered, uncircumcised, mano a mano version of the parody. Enjoy.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Every keyboard was stirring, each mouse in the house;

We updated our facebook stati with care
In the hopes that likes and comments soon would be there.

The children wore snuggies pulled over their heads
But the copyright folks said to call it a ‘sleeved blanket’ instead.

Pa in his wayfarers and ma in her Uggs
Could not get to sleep without aid from drugs;

When all of a sudden, snow fell and the cold grew bitter;
I decided to post photos and update my Twitter!

But first, Windows told me to update my Flash,
Had to restart my system and empty my trash;

Lawnchairs, grills, flamingoes covered in snow
Gave warning that Jack Frost wanted to nibble my toe;

When what to my wandering eyes did appear
But a schmaltzy TV pitchman and eight robotic reindeer;

He wore a funny hat, his personality lively and quick
I asked him his name, he said it was Nick!

More rapid than eagles, Nick’s sales pitches came
And he whistled, and shouted, the robotic reindeer names!

“Now, Crasher! now, Necromancer! now, Hacker and Stricken!”
“On, Grommit! on Blooper! on, Blunder and Chicken!”

So up to the house-top the robots they flew,
With geeky griffin-like wings of metal, and Nick, too.

Then, in a ring-a-ling-a-ling, I knew a text had come.
Felt jolly buzzing in my pocket, so I typed with my thumb.

I’d asked, “Yo Santa, wat r u gonad bridge me?”
“Hot hoo hoo,” went another typo-ridden T-X-T.

CUT: [[[ Let’s skip lengthy description of Nick’s jelly belly —
The rosy cheeks, smoky wreaths, reindeer breath so smelly … ]]]

He stayed pretty chill though ash covered his suit and loot;
This North Pole pro’s hair was perfectly coiffed to boot!

A plethora of thingies he had stuffed in his sack,
And he looked like — was — a peddler opening his pack.

His CrackBerry — how it twinkled! his iPod how merry!
The LED’s were like blinking roses, iPhone case like a cherry!

His troll-like mouth was drawn up like a bow,
His ears pointy and Spock-ish and all logical, you know.

He wouldn’t stop smoking despite pleas to the contrary,
And just kept puffing away so much that it was scary.

He had a cute little face and a clear-cut beer belly,
Like a pregnant man with a dude-womb full of jelly.

He was stocky and big-boned, which is code for “chubby,”
But I wouldn’t say he was quite on par with a Teletubbie.

With twist of the radio dial and a pounce on his touchpad,
He chuckled a bit at the gumption of those yo-yos at NORAD.

[[[END CUT]]]

The Northern sales-lad worked quietly to not be a jerk,
Giving free samples of things we don’t need — such a perk!

I shuddered when he put his finger in proximity to his nose
Fearing he might be in H1N1’s throes.

As he veered for the chimney, I missed him like whoa,
But I knew he had peeps to see, places to go.

With the sound system cranked up, the sleigh flew out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all,” he said, “Cuz this Saint Nick’s jammin’ tonight!”





Stuff People Seem To Like #4: Elmo

13 11 2009

Let’s pause here for a moment to let a little literary Elmo-nalysis seep in.

As we say Happy Anniversary to Sesame Street (well a few days ago), we can’t help but love Elmo. He’s the quintessential Sesame Workshop creation and an archetype of childlike wonder.

I meant to write this post sooner but haven’t been feeling the greatest. As my recovery from the flu presses on, I could use a hug from a shag-carpeted red puppet with a high-pitched voice. For you see, there is more to this falsetto-voiced creature than meets the eye.

Most people would say Elmo is an archetype for the childlike innocent. He is at once charming and non-threatening, with his ambiguous gender identification and nearly asexual being. Elmo may “love you,” but he will never love you. If you catch my drift. He is, in essence, a child stripped of the requisite naughtiness and heartlessness of unbridled youth, sort of an idealized baby that can talk rather than cry. The fact that he produces no waste products (that we know of) adds to Elmo’s charm.

That being said, people are eager to fuddle the innocence of Sesame Street. One of the most popular posts on my blog is the Sesame Street Thanksgiving, featuring a certain feathered friend offered up as a main dish.

Is Elmo really so innocent? His fur is red, bright red, a color symbolizing passion — both for love and war. He really loves people. He is male-gendered.Perhaps the expression should not be “make love not war” but rather, “love Elmo, not war.”

Perhaps Elmo is all of these things at once, symbolizing our innocent hopes and dreams as well as the passion and zeal we feel both for life and other people. I cannot argue with the simultaneous poignancy and surreality of Sesame Street, when all is said and done. Elmo may have ambiguous taxonomy, but his love for humanity is unquestionable.