“The Internet”

hmm, I didn’t have a solid plan when I started this review. I simultaneously wanted to do a running list of “‘the internet’ thinks this, ‘the internet’ thinks that” and a traditional intro, body, rating, conclusion review. Unfortunately I had neither enough entries for that running list or a fully fleshed out concept for the traditional review, so we get a questionably coherent mishmash of both.

hmm #2…I scrapped the list I had when I realized how long the traditional part was. The list wasn’t very good anyway. Anyway, enough meta.

Notice those quotes up there? The ones around The Internet? Those signify that we’re not talking about the actual internet. Nope, we’re not discussing millions of computers, countless low-level hardware thingies that are probably made by Cisco, nor little understood software and protocols that link all of it together. In fact, we’re not even talking about the 750ish million people that use the internet. We’re talking about those people, the one’s that both provide and fuel almost every stereotype about the modern “geek.”

the internet
The most famous parody/stereotype of “the internet.” It’s funny because it’s true.

“The Internet” is almost a collective consciousness; the phrase “all your base are belong to us” means less than nothing to those not part of “the internet.” But those in that club thinks (or at least thought at one point in time) that it is hilarious. “The Internet” loves being first to know about something that’s become “pop-culture,” and isn’t afraid to hold that against you. In fact, here’s a disturbingly complete list of pieces of internet culture. Some of them never caught on with the general public, but some will look quite familiar.

The anonymous nature of participation on the internet (no quotes) allows for those who care too much about something that is inconsequential to spend time (hours, days….years?) and defend their work because there’s someone else on “The Internet” that probably is working on something just like it. These two people will hate each other and will develop fanboys, the offical animal of “The Internet.”

Because the internet is so unfathomably large, there’s stuff about everything. Without going into history, the type of people who were first using the civilian internet, were (standby as I stereotype and generalize)…well, let’s call them the type of people who had the technical background or interest to have the means and abilities to connect to the internet. Stereotypically (and accurately), these aren’t the people to have “mainstream” interests. I’m not necessarily judging what those interests might be, but needless to say, the population at large doesn’t share those interests. Being that college campuses were some of the first places people could experience what would become “the internet,” students with the interest and ability to participate in the internet made some of the first “home pages,” sites dedicated to whatever their left of mainstream interest happened to be. Combine that with the fact that much of the internet traffic was coming from other college campuses, a huge social network of young people who normally weren’t part of a huge social network developed. Before “the internet,” college campuses also served as larger-scale examples of the comic book store phenomenon, with numerous people with non-mainstream interests meeting enough people with those same interests to create a community where discussions could take place about those interests beyond the “Comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, and etc. suck and so do you” stereotypically presented by the “mainstream.” Members of “the internet” would indignantly mention that I skipped the discussion of BBSes, IRC, usenet, and other things that our readership wouldn’t care about.

Oddly enough, “The Internet” doesn’t really have much to say about music. Sure, there are fansites, but if one were to list influential music websites that are just websites, pitchforkmedia.com will probably be the only he can think of. I’d guess that this is because the world of music is simply too huge and diverse; genres are so monolithic that there can’t be a general-purpose site serving all of it.

Oddly enough, considering how similar members of “the internet” are, they have no central meeting point. That doesn’t mean there aren’t sites “they” frequent. Fark, sort of a weird news aggregator, serves as the general news-gathering device. To be fair to Fark, I know of no one, member of “the internet” or not, who didn’t get a kick out of it, at least during their first visit. If they want more scathing humor that specializes in topics of which “the internet” is conscious, there’s Something Awful. Both Something Awful and Fark have Photoshop contests; naturally the two subcommunities hate each other. Usually the Something Awful’s Photoshop efforts go over Slashdot provides computer news and some of the most frustratingly inane arguing about each and every story without fail. The Internet Movie Database, originally “property” of “the internet” is very much a mainstream internet tool and continues to be “the internet’s” definitive source for movie info, while Roger Ebert, the unofficial official movie critic of “the internet”‘s already high profile has managed to rise since “the internet” adopted him. His stance on video games turned off many, but there’s no widely agreed upon second place critic for “the internet” to worship. Computer hardware is taken care of by Anandtech or Tom’s Hardware Guide (or any of the dozens of other hardware reviewing sites). Aint It Cool News continues to be “the internet’s” movie site and, like SlashDot is famous for its attracting of relentless fanboys of particular movie properties. TheForce.net provides Star Wars news (an interest/passion among much of “the internet”). I’m sure there’s an unoffical official site for every science fiction property (I’m condescendingly including LOST in there, 411mania and insidepulse are popular (though both have expanded to cover pop culture and more traditional “internet” interests). Simpsons fans have The Simpsons Archive where you can find “episode capsules” where you’ll learn more than every wanted to know about everything about each episode of the show. Wikipedia and Google had begun as jewels of “the internet,” but Google has long since become the standard for all users and Wikipedia, for better-or-worse, is in the process of becoming the standard for informal research (and formal research by those that don’t realize that an encyclopedia that has a more detailed entry for the Green Lantern than for the Watergate scandal might not be the best source of information).

The above wasn’t an all-encompassing tour of the popular destinations, but that’s a lot of them; each category could have more added and I glossed over some categories (such as shock sites, so it’s your own fault if you see something in three clicks that you wish you hadn’t).


“The Internet” receives two-and-a-half stars not due to its interests, but due to its attitudes. The ending of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back really captured the whole concept, with two guys previously unfamiliar with the idea of the internet going after (and beating up) everyone that trash talked them on a movie website, not unlike Aint It Cool News. Aside from the fact that much of “the internet” has become used to anonymous, consequence-free trash talking, the significance is that the “mainstream” still doesn’t understand the whole community, why anyone would visit, much less create, comment, or contribute to a websites devoted to, of all things, Star Wars action figures or the intricacies behind how the episodes on the Simpsons DVD’s aren’t 100% complete.

The Something Awful “Photoshop Phriday” examples came from the Paintings of Light competition parts 1 and 2.

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9 responses to ““The Internet””

  1. You left out YTMND! hehe. YTMND is the embodiment of everyting that is stupid about the internet.. and at the same time is the extreme of how memes are formed, come, and leave just as fast. If you have not checked it out yet.. you should. http://www.ytmnd.com.

    Also check out the wikipedia entry on it.. it will explain some things.

  2. Good site. I remember the original “you’re the man now, dog” uhh…meme. I guess that makes me part of “the internet,” though this is the only little corner of the internet where I share my opinions.

  3. […] March 12th, 2006 Dan At this point, I’ve realized that the readership is very selective in terms of what it considers interesting enough about which to read an entire review. Being that Nate’s and my interests, though not identical, can be said to not be all that enthralling to whatever we’d consider the readership-at-large, and this is another one of those reviews that is more-than-likely out of the realm of interest for most of you, feel free to suggest future topics as you gloss over this one. My short list of best albums ever is very short. #3 tends to vary depending on any number of factors, #2 is always “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, and #1 has been “Keasbey Nights” by Catch 22 since the first time I heard it in 1998. I’d evangelize for it (if that’s a correct usage of that word), but it’s music that is only appealing those that already like that type of music. This part will sound like every other description/write-up of the album in 1998, but it combined punk, ska, and hardcore elements in a way that didn’t simply add a ska-inspired brass section to a punk band (Less Than Jake, I like you, but I’m looking in your direction) or a lead singer who alternated between hardcore yelling and regular singing so he could, you know, “show that he had a sensitive side.” I’m not one to get much out of the simple fact that people in band are (or aren’t) skilled musicians, if I were, I’d be a Rush fan, but most write-ups of Catch 22’s album in 1998 mention the “chops” of the brass section. Bitter much? I think the “volume 2” part is just used so retailers can more easily keep track of the two albums of the same name and same songs. Though a hugely popular album, “Keasbey Nights [1998]” is part of a genre where popularity is usually measured on one or two scales of magnitude down from “pop” popular music. Pretty much any fan of non-MTV punk music and what people with too much time on their hands call the 3rd Wave [of] Ska has heard of the album; they might not all consider it the best album ever, but it is generally held in universally very high regard. In briefest terms, “Keasbey Nights, Vol.2” is a 2006 released re-recording of that same album that came out in 1998 by a different band (Streetlight Manifesto) that includes some of the original members of Catch 22, notably the original lead singer who was also the one who was the songwriter for the whole thing. Oh yeah, he also left Catch 22 less than one year after Keasbey Nights came out. Moreso, he’s the founder of Streetlight Manifesto. Not to turn this into story time, but we see how there is a lot more to this, um, “re-album” than you might expect… Like I said earlier, the album was popular among a very limited group of people, but if anything, that group is rather passionate. If you look around the internet, you’ll see numerous “stories” about why that lead singer/songwriter, Tomas Kalnoky, left Catch 22, and not to contribute to “the internet,” but I think I remember hearing an audio interview with him where he said that he left to go to college and touring definitely wasn’t conducive to that. A fair number of websites say that there was a dispute between him and the record company, though I’m not sure why he’d choose to distribute his new band’s CDs through that same label though. To be honest, the reason he left doesn’t matter to anyone but him and 1998 Catch 22 (like a lot of 5+ person bands, they’ve shuffled their lineup a bit, just like Streetlight Manifesto). But, to contribute to “the internet,” let’s assume that the mystery situation that made it so he felt compelled to re-record and re-release a CD from 8 years ago, let’s unsafely jump to some unfair conclusions that, being that we’re decidedly removed from the actual people involved (and it’s not our business), will attempt to explain why. No matter the talents of the original members of Catch 22, the strength of the album came from Kalnoky’s songwriting. Catch 22’s follow-up album, “Alone in a Crowd,” was mediocre at best. To be fair, their most recent album, “Dinosaur Sounds,” is perfectly acceptable, as it seems they got comfortable writing songs that weren’t trying to sound like ones that Kalnoky would have written. Kalnoky’s leaving relatively soon after the release of Keasbey Nights created a number of problems: The other guys in Catch 22 were aware of the success of the album (for a time, it was Victory Records’ all-time highest selling album, and Victory is not an insignificant record label in the punk/hardcore world). When the reason for their success (Kalnoky) left for whatever reason, they were probably pretty miffed at him as he was almost singularly responsible for their success. So, that’s the band being mad at the all-of-a-sudden checked-out lead singer and songwriter.Instead of calling it quits or re-organizing under a different name, Catch 22 shuffled the lineup and continued being a band whose drawing power was defined by someone no longer affiliated with the band in any way. Not that Kalnoky considered Catch 22 his baby, but Catch 22’s livelihood stemmed from his songs. Not to judge anyone’s moral character, but he would have been crossing a long asking them to break up the band when he quit, while they would have been crossing a line if they would’ve said he would’ve been being unreasonable had he asked for that. Again, who knows what happened, but it ties into the release of “Keasbey Nights, Vol. 2.” So, that makes the checked-out lead singer and songwriter miffed at his former (by his choice) band.At two Catch 22 concerts I attended in 2003 and 2004, the audience had huge reactions for “Keasbey Nights” songs and merely receptive reactions for anything made by the band since Kalnoky’s departure 5+ years earlier. This’ll be enough to get those in Catch 22 a little miffed at themselves, if only for the fact that their most popular work was done by someone else more than half a decade ago. It’s weird to think of it in these terms, but at the time I said to the friend with whom I went to concerts that it’s like Catch 22 became their own cover band. The thing was, they weren’t even a very good one. Songs from Keasbey Nights, even though they received the biggest reactions, were played with the littlest precision or care for getting the right notes, or most tellingly, were played at obscenely fast tempos, giving the impression they were trying to get them over with. Now that Catch 22 has two (and supposedly a 3rd coming out in June 2006) post-Keasbey Nights albums, they have enough material to play only their “own” songs, though “Catch 22” is still emblazed on their fans’ favorite album, so there will be fans upset that they didn’t play any of the “old” songs.One of the tracks which included spoken “thank-yous” on the 1998 album now has two computer voices doing a question and answer about why the record exists. Apparently someone was planning on a re-release of the 1998 album, and Kalnoky says that the recording quality of the original album was so bad that he’d feel like the fans were getting screwed over if they were going to be buying the same album. Significantly, the fact that Kalnoky is no longer in Catch 22 and most likely had nothing to do with the decision to repackage the original CD means that his re-recording of the album with Streetlight Manifesto makes it so any re-release of the unenhanced 1998 album is entirely pointless “artistically” and commercially for both the current Catch 22 and the record label both bands share. In fact any other re-release of the 1998 won’t go over well at all now that it’s been done.Being that the world of punk and ska music isn’t exactly the realm of millionaires, a feud doesn’t really accomplish much beyond the principle of it all. Kalnoky has sort of gone out of his way saying that there’s no bad blood anymore, and everything’s fine, but it’s doubtful that “Keasbey Nights, vol. 2,” which has a computer voice saying “In the end, this will piss people off, and that’s all that really matters” isn’t related to this non-existent feud. So, aside from making it so a Catch 22 (in name) re-release won’t ever happen, Keasbey Nights, Vol.2 also makes it so Catch 22 will be put in a tough spot in concert, considering that their already one-step-removed connection to the songs on Keasbey Nights was strained even more with the guy who actually singularly wrote the songs re-recording them with his new band. At that point, one could argue that Catch 22 really needs to move on and face the fact that other than their name is on the album, they’re more Kalnoky’s songs than theirs. Also, related to the previous point, when I saw Streetlight Manifesto, once in 2003 and once in 2004, Kalnoky was definitely not into playing any of “his” Catch 22 songs. There’s no way he wouldn’t expect the fans to want to hear some of them, so I was surprised that the only Catch 22 song the band played was “Giving Up, Giving In” which is probably the last song fans would want to hear from Keasbey Nights. In some figurative sense, his re-recording of the album with his band might re-establish some sense of artistic “ownership.” To be honest, I’m obviously sort of into “only they know what’s going on” territory, and my life would be enhanced in no way if I knew what was really going on as they say. I’d say that I’d rather everyone get along and they all get filthy rich from the sheer awesomeness of even the 1998 Keasbey Nights album. If they don’t have the personalities to mesh well in a band, that can be that. Oddly enough, I’m thinking I haven’t actually covered the CD itself. I guess I was so enthusiastic about the original album and I was sort of caught by surprise by the release last Tuesday, that the whole situation seems interesting in a “behind the music” sort of way. Of course, I’m not a journalist; I’m just some schmuck that can use Google, like everyone else on the internet. Speaking of “the internet,” Tomas Kalnoky has quite the collection of fanboys out there. Few of them will admit that Catch 22’s post-Keasbey Nights albums have any redeeming value, and just as baffling, they’ll say that Streetlight Manifesto plays perfectly in concert, which having been to two concerts and having MP3’s of two others, the music is just too fast to be played perfectly by anyone except robots. I don’t expect perfection, but when people trash one band (Catch 22) for missing notes while ignoring the fact that another (Streetlight Manifesto) does the same thing, the whole “fanboy” thing is obvious. (Note, my take on how Catch 22 plays their “old” songs is a different issue than whether or not they miss notes.) Anyway, the album itself… Well, imagine pizza is your favorite food for effectively forever. You really like pizza. Then imagine that someone just showed you that unknowingly, you’ve just been eating plain pizza, and there are toppings out there that make it even better. It’s like that. I sort of literally know the original album backward and forward, so it was immensely familiar while the enhanced fidelity of the recording (specifically, that you can hear the words instead of vocal mush, and each instrument can be heard individually) made it something new. Small lyrical changes are peppered here and there while there are numerous inconsequential (but not pointless) musical changes, namely in the horn riffs. You get the impression that Kalnoky said, “I’ve always wished that trombone part went bum-bum-bah instead of bah-bah-bum.” For those that listened to the heck out of the original album, it’s fun to listen to what’s really the same CD without with being exactly the same, similar to listening to a live version of favorite song. Universally the solos are stronger than on the original album. What little negative I have to say about the new recording might be just a sign that I don’t know much about audio recording, but it sounds like in addressing one of the issues of the first recording (the different instruments, singing, etc.) sort of getting lost in the audio mix, they over-boosted the trebles. The tracks were hard to listen to with headphones in my MP3 player which had a zeroed equalizer and the headphones I always use without issue. Boosting the treble makes the sound stick out and more “piercing” but I can’t say it doesn’t sound a bit tinny. Also, specifically on the first track, “Dear Sergio,” the mix just sounds “off:” the lead vocal seems to only be mixed into the right channel while the harmony is only in the left, and I’m not sure that’s how it’s usually done. The “problem” is less pronounced depending on where I’m listening to the track, but it was annoying the first time I heard it. But that’s nitpicking. Keasbey Nights, Vol. 2 by Streetlight Manifesto receives five stars due to the strength of its source material and the whole “toppings make pizza better” thing. It’s not an album that has been “covered,” it’s more-or-less the same people (sort of) just doing it over, better with higher quality recording equipment. The original album would also receive five big stars whether or not this re-recording existed. The issue is whether it’s worth buying the new if you already have the old…I’d say yes, as for those that hold the album in high esteem, the two versions are more accurately “different” than “better” and “worse.” Many of you are familiar with my dislike of “gimmicky” anythings, so if you ever listen to this album (either version, though the fidelity of the newer one makes it more obvious) you might notice how Pachelbel’s Canon is D is more or less inserted into track #07. Yes, this would obviously be a gimmicky thing, but when you take the time to write in the 4th, 5th, and 6th(?) parts of the Canon, it’s not gimmicky, it’s ambitious. […]

  4. […] May 1st, 2006 Dan Part 1 of 3 With the all-but cancellation of my second loudest talking point, Arrested Development, three months ago, my TV habits have unexpectedly and ambitiously changed. For many years, the only section of calendar showing “appointment TV” was Fox’s Sunday night from 8-10. Initially anchored by The Simpsons and The X-Files, over the years I’ve regularly watched Malcolm in the Middle, King of the Hill, That 70’s Show, Family Guy, Futurama, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Arrested Development, and most recently Free Ride. I never watched most of those shows again after a either move to a different night (That 70’s Show, Malcolm in the Middle) or before 8 on Sundays (King of the Hill, Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle [again]). The Simpsons’ decline too many years ago makes/made the 8:00 slot more of a sentimental appointment with some memory from my past (maybe), but it’s rare that I don’t catch at least some of the Sunday night shows. (Most recently, I’ve watched Family Guy and Free Ride.) I hate the Internet. (click the image for full-size) Arrested Development, originally airing at 9:30 was the best show to come out of the Fox Sunday night, even better than when The Simpsons was what we remember it being like “when it was good.” Generally I’ve found that of the people to whom I recommended the show, it’s pretty easy to pick who will like it and who won’t. Plenty of people are on the record extolling it as the best show ever, and while I’d agree, I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been covered ad nauseum by that community. Oddly enough, Arrested Development has very much become similar to one of those things that I don’t really have a problem with, but the fans are just so obnoxious that I think even more negatively about the item/object/concept than I normally would or should. In the case of Arrested Development, I’m so positive about the show, that the fandom merely tarnishes whatever memory I might have of it, not the actual show itself, if that makes sense. I don’t think that it “revolutionized” the sitcom (it was sort of on for only three seasons) as some claim, it was just the shining example of a different way of presenting 30 minutes of comedy. For the three seasons it aired, my routine was watch it when it aired, download the widescreen rip on bittorrent, then watch the bejesus out of it until buying the DVD’s the day they were released. The airing of the last four episodes (all shown in a two hour block one Friday night in February) after more than a month of knowing those would most likely be the last episodes of the show hit some note with me in that even though I downloaded the episodes, I have yet to watch them a second time. Considering that I’ve watched every other episode of the show between three and too many times each, I realized it was odd I had/have no desire to watch the last four again, especially considering that they were some of the best episodes of one of the best shows in the history couch-potato-ery. I’m not sure it takes too much effort to correctly read into it; similarly, I own all of the Calvin and Hobbes books, but I’ve never read the last one though I’ve owned it long enough to have read it many times. For a solid two months, there were continual rumors about where Arrested Development might end up after that Fox made it obvious it wasn’t wanted by shortening the season to 13 episodes. “The Internet” held out hope, but “the internet” ignored the fact that any channel picking up an expensive-to-produce, bottom-of-the-ratings-heap show must not enjoy making money. It was a sad time for many, with (literally) the best show in the history of ever wrapping up. Fox showed the last four episodes in a two hour block directly against the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, almost two months after the most recent airing of the show. In other words, lots of time to “discover” something new. As great as it was, Arrested Development was not “perfect” in terms of 30 minute television. As widely reported, practically none of the characters were likeable (Michael Bluth was dysfunctional in his own, realistic sort of way, and heck, even Annyong was a jerk to Buster). That’s not what I look for in a show, but there are plenty of lady-folk who need to empathize with characters and figuratively “hug it out” with their TV icons. I don’t know if it was searching-for-ratings-related, but the first episodes of the show established that Michael Bluth had relatively recently become a widower, and the show touched on the challenges of that situation in terms of how it affects teenaged children and the dating process for said widower. Of course, the show still packed in the zaniness, but there was something more there that from the second season and on was ignored. One could tell the writers avoided detailing the how and why of Michael’s wife’s death (she was said to have cancer some time in season 2 or 3), leaving the issue wide open for future episodes, but it was left unaddressed as the show moved toward (admittedly HI-larious) wackiness, zaniness, creative wordplay, and, uh, whimsy. Again, I didn’t need that “emotional resonance” from the show (or any show for that matter), but lesser men consider it a requirement for their TV intake. Some fault the show for its reliance on jokes that only dedicated (meaning, weekly) viewers would get. That’s not a fault; that’s putting faith in your audience. Of course, it makes a niche show even more niche by creating both a high learning curve and too many inside jokes, but that’s more of a problem with what I’ll say is the “concept of the show” instead of the show itself. Returning to its problematic fans, they’re super-quick to say, “you don’t ‘get’ it, so you’re stupid” completely ignoring the fact that much of the humor depends on earlier episodes and the fact that some people just don’t get much out of the site of a grown man in a mole suit destroying a model train village in front of a group of “Japanese investors” in an homage to Godzilla. The fact that someone might not think something like that is funny doesn’t affect that I still think it’s the best show ever; the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but many of the fans use their opinion of the show (of it being the best) as a reason why everyone should think that jokes like that are funny. The Ghost of Arrested Development receives five big stars. Sure, the body’s still warm, but with Mitchell Hurwitz, the creator, saying he wouldn’t want to be involved even if it picked up by a (fiscally irresponsible) network, it’s gone for good. And I’m ok with that. The time before the last four episodes were aired provided an opportunity to sample other channels’ wares (which we’ll look into later in the week). The series finale was just about perfect, and as I watched it end (into the sunset, of course), as much as I complained that it was no longer going to be on the air, I didn’t want there to be any more episodes. It was that good. It was Arrested Development. Jung ner lbhe frpergf? […]

  5. […] July 31st, 2006 Dan Now that is a triple-word-score $5 title!(all ridiculousness aside, stick with me, I’ll explain what I mean by that later. I really couldn’t think of a more condensed name for the concept.) Those that know me and read the website (I’d wager the two are almost mutually exclusive — except for the ragtag bunch of misfits that Nate drags in) know that my Youth was marked by complete, abnormal interest in a variety of subjects. I’m not sure of the exact order, but it went something like this: dinosaurs, space, birds, Star Wars, airliners, fighter jets, and what I’ve sort of landed on now, computers and cars. That’s all well and good as it could be, and until very recently (yesterday, to be exact), I thought these phases were the be all and end all of “where I was” at a particular time, the landmarks (or buoys) on to which everything in my past had been tied. As in, when I’d page through my old, binding-suffering-because-of-overuse copy of Audubon’s Field Guide to North American Birds (1994 edition, of course), I’d remember X, Y, Z that happened around that time. Same thing when looking through my old space books, the binders I put together about airplanes, my dinosaur toys, etc, etc. I had thought that those were it for “way back when.” I think the reason for thinking in these terms is that each stage stands alone as a very discrete point in time. I can’t put my finger on exactly when I was interested in airplanes, but it was after such-and-such and before other such-and-such. Obviously, this isn’t how life goes, it’s rare for there to be a finite and complete “end” to something. Sure, I still remember bits and pieces from each “stage,” but I’m not usually adding more to whatever it is that I know and remember about each. I hadn’t put much thought to it, but these academic pursuits really only have memories about the particular subject associated with them, sitting in the cold, convincing myself that I was always just one more roll of film away from taking a picture good enough for Birder’s World with my crappy camera, and on and on. That’s the sort of thing I remember when I look through my old bird books. That’s all well and good, but as I’m looking at it now, I must not have been a very interesting kid, only remembering things related to these rather niche interests. So that leads us into yesterday. Oh, the memories. Sort of. I have a bit of a soft spot for sneakers; my Oakley Twitch review might’ve shown that, but being that I limit my purchases to the shoe in question, it’s quite under control. Recently, the Nike Free 5.0’s have intrigued me. I have one pair of what I’ll call not-sitting-around sneakers, so I definitely don’t these sneakers, but I think they look nifty, and having tried them on, they’re very comfortable in their own, unique way (just like Nike would have you believe). So, this sneaker-centric internet browsing led to a corner of the internet I knew existed but didn’t realize quite how serious they were. The sneakerheads/shoeheads. All things considered, that’s fine. There’s no better place than the internet to complain about how “Nike’s reissue strategy really screws over the collectors because they claim a colorway will be limited, then change the packaging and sell it to everyone.” God bless the internet. Anyway. All this led me to this exact page, a history of all the Air Jordans. At first, there’s little significance there, I’ve never owned a pair of Air Jordans, they were way out of what my mom decided my sneaker price range was and by the time I was buying sneakers myself, they were still way too expensive, and more importantly, I wasn’t really into basketball sneakers anymore. But where this comes together is how big a deal sneakers were for elementary and middle school boys (that’s not a universal thing, but consider it a blanket statement). Looking through the list of Air Jordan’s, the first ones I remember as being “the new ones” were the Air Jordan 5’s, released in 1990. I was 8, but I can remember who the first person I knew that had them and how much I wanted them. I remember seeing the kids wear them for intramural basketball games at the East Side Youth Center, and on and on. And these aren’t people or things I’ve even thought of since then, way back in 1990. Oddly enough, going through the rest of the Air Jordan’s up until 1996’s Air Jordan 12. I had no intention of purchasing a pair then or now, but I remember talking about the new colors that would come out every month or so with my more athletic-minded friends at the time, many people I hadn’t thought about since then (until randomly looking at pictures of sneakers online), and oddly enough, the first time I really thought about the interior details of my middle school, something I thought I had forgotten since the day of my 8th grade “graduation.” It goes on and on, looking at any of the high profile sneakers from 1990-1997, lots of stuff I didn’t realize I remembered. But it ends there in 1996/1997. Sneakers after that don’t elicit anything. I thought about it for a while, and I realized why. That’s when simple things like sneakers were phased out by a more serious interest in music. Like anyone “young,” I had always enjoyed TV, movies, and Top 40 radio, but around 1996/1997 (14 or so years old) most everyone has had a couple serious years acquiring his or her own personal taste in music. Before that point, oddly enough, sneakers provide those “temporal landmarks,” but after that time, it’s really music that reminds me in that same way. Of course it’s not just music, there are all sorts of “touch points for memories:” textures, smells/scents, pretty much anything, even the way a Chevrolet Lumina’s steering wheel feels. But none of this is news to anyone, we’re all simply interested in different things at different times in our lives. I had sneakers, but I’m sure other guys (and girls) have video game “sponsored” memories (I have some of those, mainly from being at friends’ houses, what with my mom associating video games with some sort of figurative devil) or memories when you find a Goosebumps book in the basement of your house. Navel Gazing Part 2: Sneakers as Temporal Landmarks receives three-and-a-half stars due to its main point’s obviousness as the review went on. The hyper-ambitious title perhaps hinted at possibilities left unanswered and avenues unexplored. Also, I’m a firm believer in sneakers being the ultimate artifact of contemporary design for point in time (heck, look at that Air Jordan overview, and see how the shoes from the early 90’s, with their neon colors, which were the new hotness™ way back when — my goal for the too many pairs of Oakley shoes I have is that they’ll be a bit more long-lasting in terms of style), and I’ve not touched on that concept one bit above. […]

  6. […] September 14th, 2006 Dan The first in what might be a series of reviews. I was at the bookstore the other day, more-or-less stocking up for what ended up being a fictional trip to China, and after picking out a selection of books, I wandered over to the magazine section of Borders. The goal of magazines at a newstand-type setting is to catch customers’ eyes, so they completely overspend and make an impulse purchase instead of saving oodles of money with a subscription. My eyes wandered across the fast cars, the cleavage, and the heroic-looking sports poses, and I stumbled across the word “Pirates” in a large, offensive typeface. Next to it, in smaller type, “Magazine.” YES! Whether it was a magazine for pirates or pirate enthusiasts, I plopped down my $7.95 (minus 2 stars right there), and put on my ridiculin’ hat. Some communities should just stay on the internet. I’ve never been a fan of people taking things I don’t care about too seriously. I could make some sort of list here of examples, but at the end of the day, let’s just admit that the list would contain pretty much anything you could think of, and the real challenge would be in the taxonomy of it all (grouping Hershey’s Chocolate Enthusiasts with people who love Mike and Ike because of the whole candy thing). In the “hobbies I don’t respect” category, we’d find the Renaissance Fair fans, people that dress like comic book characters, movie characters, Star Wars characters, and so on. Though these people bother me in concept, for the most part, they’re off in their own corner of the internet, arguing about whether Qui-Gon Jinn could beat Saruman, then dressing up and living out the fight and getting out of breath, so hey to each his (or, rarely in this case, her) own. So, when “they” crossed over from internet phenomenon into a group seemingly legitimate interests, I did not like it one bit. Obviously this magazine was created to capitalize on summer 2006’s second biggest movie, X3. So, what exactly does one put in a what will (in theory) end up being a quarterly magazine? Well, judging by the cover alone, not buxom wenches, some pirate history (Blackbeard & the Queen Anne’s Revenge), pirates in pop culture (Pirates of the Caribbean), profiles of people bringing “pirate” back (Pat Croce), the details of the construction of the ill-advised Christmas gifts that people’s grandmother’s buy on QVC (The Artistry of Baltimore Knife & Sword), as well as treasure hunting (Jean-Michel Cousteau), and other piratey sounding things (Jamaica Rose, whatever that is). All-in-all a good mix for the overly enthusiastic, but at a rather full 88 pages, they’re going to struggling for content after, I don’t know, issue #1. The Bookshelf’s experience with the printed word proved two things 1) we can do anything we set our mind to do, and more seriously 2) one issue is easy – two, not so much. In all honesty, people that collect such things probably love to know the detailed process that goes into making collectable swords and knives, and again, there are probably people out there interested in doing something as close-to-pirate-like-as-possible such as a real-life treasure hunt, but really, you’d think that advertisers would realize that addressing the potential customer with “You be wantin’ to be a pirate?” or things like that might get old after, I don’t know, five pages. Pirates Magazine Premier Issue – The Cover receives two stars due to the fact that even though I have no respect for their hobby, it seems address things that I’d be interested in if I were a pirate enthuasiast. I’ve yet to really delve into the magazine, but so far, in terms of its art design, it’s somewhere between “professional” and “Look at all these buttons in InDesign!” I mean, there’s enough Times New Roman to kill a, um, giant sea-faring enemy of a pirate and some of the ads look like something from my high school year book, but there’s something to be said about what might be called its “rustic” charm, and the authors do a reasonably good job avoiding easy pirate jokes. But, paging through, I can’t help but notice items in the magazine geared towards “re-enactors.” That’s really the bottom of the barrel in terms of “geekdom” — see the left side of this chart. A special note about this chart: It was made by that Lore guy who beat us to the whole “reviewing anything” schtick, and we’re still bitter about it, especially considering the quality and accuracy of the chart. Anyway, judging the the magazine by its cover alone, it gets those two stars (two stars off for the only-for-enthusiasts pricing and one star for the whole ‘promoting things that really shouldn’t be promoted’ thing). It really reminds me of “Chew” magazine from Calvin & Hobbes, with Calvin enthusiastically reading the whole issue very seriously while Hobbes just didn’t get it. (Bill Watterson probably meant it as some not-too-subtle jab at crass consumerism, and that was even before the internet catered to even “nicher” interests). I’ll leave with this: I’m not particularly interested in anything, and I’d never pay $8 or even $10 for an imported British car magazine. Twice. I also live in a glass house. […]

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