I’m no twit.

It took me an awfully long time to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. If I had waited any longer, I’d have had to catch a train instead. I followed my friends and a few celebrities (David Lynch, for example). I quickly found that Mr. Lynch had much to say and that I wasn’t interested in a good deal of it. I was more frequently (though by no means regularly) interested in what my friends had to say, but most of them use programs like Digsby to send identical messages through Facebook, making Twitter completely useless for me. (I don’t kid myself that anyone actually cares what I write there.) I understand that many people enjoy hearing frivolous comments from their favorite celebrities and politicians, but I’d rather read their ideas in paragraph form. Besides, why follow David Lynch on Twitter when I can follow him — and his hair — on Facebook?

The FCC sticks its mits in cable deals.

For nine months and counting, the Federal Communications Commission has been mediating Comcast Corporation’s buyout of NBC Universal, Inc. from The General Electric Company. The Friday meeting of economists [link] at the FCC headquarters is interesting in itself. While Bloomberg L.P. has been a respected source of financial news, its role in the Comcast-NBCU deal is a peculiar one:  it has an interest in the deal’s outcome [link]. Assuming the deal goes through, what will happen regarding CNBC and Bloomberg TV? Will Comcast, as Bloomberg currently demands, be forced to sell CNBC, or will some other deal arise? It is a given that the FCC will not allow Comcast to purchase NBCU without some concessions, given that this will the first time one of the “Big Six” media corporations is owned by a television provider. The FCC may indeed attempt to use this deal as an opportunity to gain some regulation of cable content, as they have been attempting to do for a long while.

Speaking of mediation, the FCC has been keeping an eye on the transmission renewal talks between Time Warner Cable and The Walt Disney Company [link]. While this is not particularly unusual, Time Warner Cable has asked the FCC to improve the retransmission process before, and should difficulties arise in reaching an agreement before the 2 September deadline, the FCC may step in and set a precedent for future scenarios.

Finally, a happier story:  Dish Network has begun offering AMC (owned by Cablevision) in HD [link]. This certainly adds some appeal; I am sure that there must be a few discontent cable users who were holding back on switching and who will now reconsider. Mad Men, which airs on AMC, is the only television show I actually watch on television. I watch everything else on Hulu or on DVD. Now if I can watch Mad Men on Dish’s new “TV Everywhere” site [link], I might reconsider as well.

A letter of protest in response to Tommy Wiseau’s legal actions against the Nostalgia Critic

To whom it may concern:

I first heard of The Room several years ago, when a friend mentioned it. After looking up your site, I determined that purchasing The Room would be a waste of my money. However, a few days ago, after viewing Doug Walker’s review of The Room, I had decided to buy a copy. When I heard that the review had been taken down due to claims of “copyright infringement,” I changed my mind.

Mr. Walker’s review of The Room is in fact doing you a service. As stated in his video rebuttal to the legal action, Mr. Walker is introducing your film to people who have not heard of it, or those (like me) who have heard of it, but had previously dismissed it. In addition, his review is protected by the fair use guidelines of U.S. copyright law, as well as the sections regarding parody. Furthermore, there is a good chance that any alleged damage to Mr. Wiseau’s reputation is not punishable under the public figure doctrine regarding defamation. My perception of Mr. Wiseau was certainly not made worse by Mr. Walker’s review. It has, however, been tarnished by the actions that have been taken against Mr. Walker. I urge you to reconsider and to save the reputations of Mr. Wiseau and his associates by permitting Mr. Walker’s review to be republished to his website, and to enjoy the increased publicity and profit that will most likely result.

Sincerely, Jack Fisher

Independent filmmaker

*  *  *

Addendum — four minutes after sending my message, I received the following response:

If you can let your writer to contact us.

The fact is that the original material of “The Room” has been altered.

Thank you for your E-Mail.

I don’t believe I need to say anything more.

Agate Pass (Twin Peaks, part two)

For part one, click here.

WordPress will still not allow me to use italics in image captions, so please imagine that “Twin Peaks” and “Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk with Me” are italicized.

After my visit to Snoqualmie Valley, I spent a few hours in Seattle, where I visited Pike Place Market. From there, I spent several days touring the North Cascade Mountains, before taking a ferry across Puget Sound to the Kitsap Peninsula. It was here that I found my next Twin Peaks location. Continue reading

In Twin Peaks

WordPress will not allow me to use italics within image captions, so please imagine that “Twin Peaks” and “Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk with Me” are italicized.

I am a huge Twin Peaks fan. It’s my fifth favorite television show, and I’ve seen the entire series at least twice thrice (as of 9 July 2010). I’ve seen episodes one through sixteen (the good ones) at least four times. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen both the show’s pilot and Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk with Me, the 1992 prequel film. Since becoming a fan of the show, I’ve given the name Diane to my tape recorder — and my father’s Garmin Nüvi — and I dressed as Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole last Halloween.

For the uninitiated, Twin Peaks takes place in the fictional Washington town of the same name, in 1989. The local homecoming queen, Laura Palmer, turns up dead, and the investigation into her murder uncovers a web of mysteries and oddities. The show was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, and the latter left his fingerprints all over it — in a very good way. Twin Peaks encompasses many genres, from crime mystery to dramedy to soap-opera parody. Unfortunately, the executives at ABC demanded that Laura’s killer be revealed during the second season. After this revelation the show fell apart, effectively becoming the sort of soap opera it had parodied during its height. ABC did not renew the show for a third season.

This summer, I have had the pleasure of being able to visit Snoqualmie Valley in Washington, where many exteriors for the series and film were shot. What follows is a record of my trip. Continue reading

I’m a PC, and my innards aren’t a secret.

Disclaimer:  I am not I am not a “computer expert” by any stretch of the imagination. I have an excellent understanding of Microsoft Windows, a good grasp of Mac OS, and a decent handle on Linux. I have very little knowledge of the underlying code, and I can’t write in any programming language (except a smattering of Mathamatica code). I have constructed one computer with my father from parts bought at Fry’s Electronics.

I keep hearing about how my generation is supposed to be the most technologically advanced ever. Generally, I believe that. But my experiences over my first year of college have lead me to speculate that perhaps the Millennial Generation,  (also Generation Y — or “Generation Next” if you must) is not as proficient with computers as the public is lead to believe.

Sure, we all take notes on laptops, use the latest smartphones that our parents bought us, and “connect” with each other through Facebook , but do we ever stop to consider how our technology operates?

Case in point:  almost every one of my peers uses Facebook in some fashion. Many people use it as a tertiary means of communication (after face-to-face conversations and cellphones). In some social circles, it has surpassed email as the primary method of written communication. This casual form of conversation may be a reason why many members of my  telecommunications class can’t seem to write a proper salutation in their emails to the professor. In addition, many of my peers also use Facebook to stay posted on their favorite writers, musicians, political parties, cult leaders, and underwear brands. But is Facebook the best way to do this?

Personally, I do not think so. I use Google Reader to stay updated on the things I feel are relevant to me, and I still use email as the primary means to communicate with some of my friends — who also have Facebook pages. The point is this:  I experimented with several options, and chose the ones which worked best for me. Until recently, I believed that my peers did the same.

When I arrived at college, I was shocked at how little many of my peers knew about computers. Granted, almost every student at UGA owns a computer (or so it seems), but I have begun to wonder whether everyone knows how to properly and fully use one. For example, many of my peers fail to properly understand a computer’s file system. A few of my friends (and more of my relatives) fall victim to the erroneous belief that files lie within programs:

Me:  “Where did you save the file?”

Him:  “It’s in Microsoft Word.”

A more general problem, one that is far more common, often happens to those who had minimal contact with computers prior to receiving their first as a high school graduation present. Never having developed a method for organizing files within a computer filing system, these unfortunate souls usually do one of two things. Either they accept the “convenient” filing system that the computer defaults to (think Microsoft’s “My Documents” nightmare) or they invent one that doesn’t work well enough. Both scenarios usually lead to the same problem:  people completely lose track of their files, or they have folders stuffed with so many cryptically named files that they cannot find the pertinent ones. Even worse is when people don’t know the difference between the “Save” and “Save as” commands, or when they misunderstand it.

The underlying issue, which I call the “Mac mentality,” is common among people who don’t “get” computers, but use them anyway.  This is usually due to necessity or because these people (usually correctly) think that their lives will be made easier. But computers can be intimidating for the uninitiated; as a result these people tend to passively accept whatever sort of computer or software is initially presented to them, often without exploring program options or looking for alternatives. It seems that these sorts of people are suspicious of those who try to help them without being asked. For example, when I suggest to someone using Safari that she try out Firefox or Chrome, I am often met with what appears to be distrust, as if I were attempting to exploit her ignorance of computers for my own devious purposes.

Of course, I am by no means saying that all Mac users are technologically illiterate. One of my friends who claims to “know nothing about computers” uses a Mac, and he displays more proficiency with the thing than many of my other friends. He very rarely requires assistance, and then only with exceptionally stupid programs that no one can figure out, like the Mac version of Microsoft PowerPoint.

But, I hear you cry, what about smartphones? Every kid has one these days! First of all, speak for yourself, because I don’t have one. Second, smartphone interfaces are painfully simple. You touch a picture of the thing you want, and it appears. That’s it. No one cares how the thing actually operates. Just like  with our computers, we just trust that they will work, and when they don’t we take them to the local Genius Bar or Geek Squad. (Don’t get me started on that.)

Without a doubt, the Millennials use more technology than any previous generation. But in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent upon technology, don’t you want to know how it all works, so you can get the most out of your gadgets, and fix them when they go south?

Special thanks to my father for beginning the dialogue that lead to this post.

If my heart is the bird, then you’re the hot air balloon.

I love Owl City.

Now, before you judge me (though I don’t really care if you do), let me explain why:  Owl City’s songs make me happy. That’s all there is to it.

The complaint I hear the most about Owl City (which, for the uninitiated, is essentially one guy, Adam Young) is the following:  “Owl City is a rip-off of The Postal Service.” Whether Adam Young consciously imitated The Postal Service or not (I don’t care), the fact is:  I don’t like the Postal Service, but I like Owl City. There is something fundamentally different about Owl City’s music, namely that it’s upbeat and full of energy. The Postal Service’s songs, on the other hand, I find tolerable at best, and at worst, their dreary weariness grates on my consciousness.

Another complaint I often hear is this:  “Owl City’s lyrics are crap.” This depends entirely upon one’s definition of “crap.” Granted, the lyrics to many of the songs are apparently meaningless, at least intrinsically, but they are often chosen for purposes other than just their meaning. The following lyric, from “Sunburn” on the deluxe edition of Ocean Eyes, illustrates one of many instances in which words are chosen for their euphony:  “Implying that she’s the bee’s knees and I am the cat’s meow.” The consonance and internal rhyme of “she’s,” “bee’s,” and “knees” is pleasing to the ear (at least to mine, if not to yours).

I don’t think that the lyrics to any Owl City song are “deep,” as one poorly-argued diatribe accuses. In fact, I think it’s quite possible that “Fireflies” isn’t really about anything. But the words, while they may be devoid of inherent meaning, contribute to the feeling of the songs. And we’re back to my main point:  they make me feel happy.

Several of my friends might argue that I like Owl City songs due to the mental associations I have with them. I’m not entirely sure that isn’t the case. But I think that I enjoy Owl City independently of those associations as well. This, like every other point I’ve made in this post, is subjective, but then, so is all artistic appreciation. You may not like Owl City, but I do. And that’s that.