What’s Happening In Town This Month


1st of April. Easter! Learn which of your friends have rabbit costumes they’ve just been waiting for a chance to use! That’s fun. Also learn which of your friends have egg costumes they’ve just been waiting for a chance to use! That’s a something. Good luck poking around the yard finding all your egg-costumed friends. If you miss any it’s going to lead to soooo many petty, passive-aggressive little quarrels. “Why would I go looking for you underneath the goldfish pond netting in the neighbor’s garage, Matthew?” “I don’t know, because you thought I was worth finding, maybe?” Maybe you should tie strings to your friends before they go off hiding. But where you are you going to tie a string around an egg? They thought about this way before you did, clearly. I don’t know what to suggest.

9th of April. Videotechque, the beloved and iconic longrunning institution, on the nation’s list of the ten most awesome video stores, announces it’s closing. The owners cite their advancing age, and the trouble in finding someone willing to take over even a place the whole metro area agrees is the best spot to find knowledgeable and friendly lovers of TV and cinema. But someone put Encino Man on to play in the shop, and the local alt-weekly’s business reporter stopped in while that was on, and asked about it, and after fifteen seconds of embarrassed stammering the owner just announced they were shutting down and it would be too awkward to go back on that statement now that it’s been made to the press and all. Really the movie isn’t that bad, it’s kind of dopily charming.

15th of April. Roving gangs of pedants wandering around the business district waiting for some unsuspecting person who’ll refer to the tax deadline as “the ides of April”, just so they can explain at length how the 15th is no such thing. This group of ten know-it-alls correcting each other is the biggest crowd downtown has had since the cleanup of the Unexplained Hardenberg Street Sewer Explosion of ’14.

16th of April. Roving gangs of accountants wandering around the business district talking about those dopes who forgot the tax deadline was the 17th this year.

18th of April. The library’s first Community Library of Stuff event turns out to just be chance for people to swap their old toasters with each other. Pretty good time all around though.

22nd of April. The Blitman Street Diner that’s a beloved and longrunning institution, on the alt-weekly’s list as one of the top two best places to hang out when it’s 3 am and you need to stare at a carafe of bad coffee and a plate of strawberry pancakes in a confused mix of fury and longing, announces it’s closing. The owners cite increases in rents and how hard it is to keep staff after someone’s just emitted a 65-second long scream of despair at the heap of plastic-packet creamer.

24th of April. So the club you didn’t know you needed in your life? The one for old-time radio enthusiasts who get together and talk about the stuff and even do re-enactments and sometimes perform charity shows? The one that’s got three people who’d go on to be the best friends you ever knew? The one that leads you into a minor but incredibly fun sideline as a voice actor, mostly recording stuff for museums or doing puppets for the occasional educational play for elementary schools? Yeah, that was meeting at 5:00 and you missed it. Sorry.

26th of April. That weird store on Holland Grove Road 3 that’s just got to be a front for something, because nobody’s ever seen any person going in or coming out from it, or buying it, and there’s no figuring out what they sell from looking in the window, and they’ve never run an advertisement in any known medium, and there’s like five different heaps of words somewhere in the window and on the door door any of which might be the name of the place but none of them clearly are, and the city tax records just list them as ‘PRODUCT SERVICES LLC’? They announce they’re closing because all the other beloved and longrunning institutions are closing and they want to hear some nice stuff said about them for a change. So gather your stories about finding the place weird and a little creepy!

30th of April. The County Line Road Merchants Association announces they’re putting covered scaffolding all along the sidewalks. This isn’t because of any construction going on. They just like the atmosphere it gives of being in a bustling, busy city.

What I’m Up To This Week


I’m just busy recording slightly stranger and more abstract covers of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” until people stop complaining about the original being the worst Christmas song ever. I’m not even sure it’s the worst 70s Beatle Solo Christmas Song. But it does get more exposure since you can turn on any holiday-tunes channel and hear it cycle around four times before John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” finishes its fadeout once. Ringo Starr probably has something that would be in contention too but I think these days we see how much fun he’s having on his Twitter account and nobody has the heart to tell him he had some bad song somewhere. He probably wouldn’t hear it anyway. I wonder if we could put “Wonderful Christmastime” to whatever beat it is you get from the Demo 4 button.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped eight points today, which nobody saw coming, setting off a good argument in the faculty lounge about the extent to which this trading is based on real market fundamentals and how much it’s just random noise. The consensus so far is that while everybody liked Community they’re kind of looking for reasons not to watch that thing Joel McHale is in now. Nobody knows how the conversation got to that point.

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An Open Letter To, Really, Every Social Media Ever


Dear Twitter Master Command,

Hi there. I wasn’t away. That’s the first thing. Also, you keep promising you’re going to show me fewer tweets like that. You need to shore up that wording. Do you mean you’re going to show me fewer tweets that way, as in that form? Where it’s four days after the original post and even the guy who wrote it can’t remember what he was making a sly, snarky comment about? Or do you mean fewer tweets like “the stuff my friends wrote”? I get the feeling you’re promising me that.

Because that’s the hip thing with social media. You all start out with a simple model: you have friends. Your friends post stuff. You read it. Sometimes you post back. Sometimes they post back. Their friends post back. The friends of your friends post. They’re whack jobs. Your friends’ friends keep posting. You come to like people less. You infer that your friend honestly sees no difference in morality or intellect or human decency between these people and you. The fight takes on a new intimacy. After enough of this you go outside, resolved instead to roll down a hill all day. You see a squirrel. That fact reminds you. You go back to answering your friend’s friend. Finally you stumble across an interesting discussion about whether Cringer remembers the experience of being Battle Cat, and vice-versa, and if so how. It has an exhausting pile of citations from the ramshackle He-Man canon. You come away feeling staggered but forgetting what you were angry about. Then you see it again. It’s a simple model and one that might work forever.

Except that’s never enough. If the social media works then it gets famous. And like Ian Shoales explained, once you’re famous for doing something you don’t want to do that anymore. So the media gets fussing around with algorithms and rearrangements of timelines. Instead of showing people what they said they wanted to see, you go and show them something they didn’t say they wanted to see. Maybe something they said they didn’t want to see. It’s a weird business model. Imagine if you were flying to Albany, New York, because you had urgent business there. You had to go to Huck Finn’s Playland and yell at the amusement park for it not still being Hoffmann’s Playland, even though Hoffmann didn’t want the Playland anymore and he was just going to toss it out.

But then the pilot announces that, you know, we’re going to instead fly to Columbus, the world-renowned “Albany, New York, of Ohio”. Would you feel well-served? I guess it depends whether you could find something to berate in the Columbus area. I’m sure there are. There’s at least two creepy houses in the suburb of Worthington, for example. I seem to be making a case for this. Maybe it’s other businesses that are missing out by just giving people what they wanted. (Do not berate the Worthington creepy house the guy lives in. He’s taken enough abuse.)

But what we expect to see, or expect to not see, or who we expect not to get in bitter quarrels with, is beside the point. None of this is what we really want from social media, not even the stuff we know we want to see, like the Animals Wearing Glasses Daily Picture.

What we want is to find something that’s profound and breezy. We want to experience something insightful and whimsical. It should be eye-opening without ever entering unfamiliar intellectual and emotional territory. We want something epic while still being intimate. More, we want to be the sole true confidant of an enormous crowd. We want to say something un-improvable yet tossed off in a heartbeat. We want to go viral while being that single candle that alleviates some one person’s darkness. We want universal truths that still fit snug where we are in life. We want to do something that’s going to get put on millions of t-shirts, and we want to get a cut of each sale. We want to be reblogged by people we watched on TV when we were kids. We want transcendence with a glace at our cell phones. And then we want to hit reload and get another transcendent moment at least as good. Give us that and we’ll hit ‘like’ or ‘fave’ or whatever silly thing you want. We’ll even pretend to look at your advertisements for stuff we’ve never even known anyone who would ever want interspersed with ads for the thing we bought last week on Amazon.

And that’s what social media is all about, Twitter Master Command.

Hoping you will see to and remedy this problem swiftly I remain,

Yours truly,

Sincerely,

I mean it,

@Nebusj

PS: Do it right and we’ll even forgive you suggesting Every. Single. Day. that we follow a person we wouldn’t run over with a forklift exclusively for fear of getting repugnant-person-guts in the forklift’s machinery.

PPS: Obviously Cringer remembers the experiences he has as Battle Cat. The interesting question is whether he remembers it as a thing he, Cringer, does while affecting a character, or whether he remembers Battle Cat as a distinct entity using what is sort-of his body. Please see enclosed citations, omitted for clarity.

Statistics Saturday: Is There Such A Thing As Excellance?


For the convenience of the people who compose surveys of my customer experience, I offer this list of some activities and whether or not I can imagine having a truly excellent experience doing it, and so they can save time trying to get me to figure out my emotional response to having done a thing.

Activity Have I Got A Conceptual Theory Of What An Excellent Experience In This Activity Would Require?
Buying a DVD box set from Best Buy No
Flying Economy Class between Detroit and Newark No
Visiting a Bar on Karaoke Night Yes
Renting a Kia Soul for Five Days No
Buying a 10-Pack of British-Made Kit-Kat Bars No
Visiting a Bar on Competitive Spelling Night Yes
Registering a Domain Name No
Searching Microsoft’s Online Help System for Ways in C# to Convert an XML file to a DataSet Data Structure, then Use the Output as part of an Inner Join operation in a LINQ Query Dear Lord No
Getting a Bag of Rat Chow from the Pet Store No
Joining a Roller Coaster Tycoon Online Forum No
Getting a Grilled Vegetable Hoagie from a Penn Station Sandwich Shop, Eating It (The Hoagie) Yes
Flying Economy Class between Detroit and Trenton, New Jersey No
Tire Rotation at the Dealers No
Sailing Around The World With LeVar Burton Yes
Adding Money To My Prepaid Cell Phone No
Visiting Battery World (Store) No
Visiting Battery World (Theme Park) Yes
Having a Service that Calls Me About the Time of Day I Feel Most Sluggish and Plays the Theme From Shaft Could This Ever Not Be Excellent?

NBC Cancels Entire Primetime Lineup; Will Air Reruns From ’90s


Since my last bit of humor reblogging worked out well for all involved, why not go again? Austin Hodgens is an indefatigable writer with pretty near daily mock-news articles, many of them focused on the center of general weirdness which is living in Maine.

This particular article isn’t, obviously; it’s a bit of more general absurdity directed at NBC, which kind of deserves whatever you might say about it. (Well, almost. I am at peace with NBC’s cancelling Community, much as I like the show, because I can’t very well say they didn’t give it plenty of chances to find an audience. I would have liked their final episode to feel less like an unfinished draft for the final episode, but I don’t think that’s NBC’s fault either.) Anyway, do please enjoy the article, and his other writings, if you do.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

NBC logo This is the time of year, Modern Philosophers when the television networks announce which primetime programs are being renewed or cancelled, and which new shows will be a part of the Fall TV lineup.

NBC, long mocked for its horrible programming, has decided to make a very bold move.  The network announced today that it was cancelling every show in its primetime lineup, and replacing them with reruns of old NBC hits mostly from the 1990s.

“We know it’s a bold move,” admitted the NBC executive who drew the short straw and had to face the media.  “But when you think about it, what choice did we really have?”

This Modern Philosopher is not a fan of the move.  I will certainly miss shows like “Parks & Recreation”, “Parenthood”, and “Revolution”.

Wow.  Is that really all I watch on NBC aside from “The Tonight Show” and “Saturday Night Live”?  Yikes!

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Community Events: Neighborhood Warning Night


Lesser Pompous Lakes, All Residential Neighborhoods, 6:30 – 8:30 pm: All residents are requested to go to their windows and look up and down the block to identify the most petty things their neighbors are doing that still annoy them. Get some sheets of paper and write these things down, then wad the papers up around rubber erasers and after ten or fifteen minutes go out and throw these things at the relevant neighbors. Meanwhile in the confusion a small squad of pranksters from South Lesser Pompous Lakes will be able to sneak in to City Hall and leave the cow. No don’t write that part in the e-mail to the newspaper, Jeremy. No, it isn’t funny to pretend we’re going to tell them why we’re doing it, now delete it before you hit send

Community Calendar: Streetlight Counting Day


Monday, August 5, 9:30 pm. The Lesser Pompous Lakes Office of the Comptroller invites all residents in and around the municipal area to take part in the fourth-ever Streetlight Counting Day. A half-hour after sunset please step outside, identify any and all streetlights in your area, and whether they’re working, and report back to the Office of the Comptroller. Asked if residents should decorate their streetlights or dance around them or maybe do a thing with flowers or papier-mâché the Comptroller-General said, “Yeah, sure, whatever, just send in the counts.” We can’t wait!