Web culture

Bi-winning

This morning, for some reason, I kept thinking about Charlie Sheen’s crazy 2011 interview. This became the subject of the lone tweet I made:

It’s the typical Twitter motivation – something is annoying me, so I will tell you about it and maybe you will be annoyed too. I didn’t give the tweet or the subject much thought after that.

Twitter NZ Herald

@martynpepperell also comes highly recommended

Then later in the day, I discovered I was part of the New Zealand Herald’s “Top tweeters’ top tweets” list. The Herald had asked New Zealand’s top tweeters for their recommendations and Peter McLennan had kindly listed me for my efforts with 5000 Ways. This put me in the company of such esteemed tooters as Caitlin Moran, Hamish Keith and the Radio New Zealand time pips.

It also left me feeling a bit inadequate. 5000 Ways is on summer holiday and so I wondered if people had checked out my Twitter feed, seen the lame-arse Charlie Sheen toot and decided to instead take triathlete Bevan Docherty’s recommendation of following Ricky Gervais. But as it happened, I gained a few new followers and 5000 Ways had a noticeable bump in traffic – which is pretty major, considering how dead this time of the year is for regular web traffic. (Last year the site had two visitors on Boxing Day, both from Greg Johnson fans.)

So, an increase in Twitter followers and a boost in web traffic. The Charlie Sheen tweet hadn’t put everyone off. And like Mr Sheen, who declares “I win here and I win there”, I suppose this double success also makes me bi-winning. Um, yeah.

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LJ, Music

Gardez l’eau

ITEM: I finally got around to watching “The Lost Boys”. When it came out in 1987, I was far too young and girly to see it (“The Labyrinth”, yes. Hot teen vampires, no).

Highlights included:

- When Corey and Corey’s characters meet for the first time. Their eyes lock over a rack of comic books. Magic!
- Jason Patric’s hotness.
- The rockstar mullets of the vampires, which surely were done so they look even more outstanding when they’re hanging upside down.
- All the vampire deaths are really awesome.

Actually, I should perhaps not post this and pretend that I’d seen “The Lost Boys” back in the day. Yeah, I wagged school snuck into the Embassy theatre. That’s it.

ITEM: At the moment the Disruptiv gallery is showing a selection of works designed to be added to “No Nuclear Fire For Amber” and pals on the VAANA mural. A number of local artists have been asked to come up with some new panels with an anti-nuclear theme, and six will be added to the mural. There are some quite good ones in the mix, and I’m glad to see aerosol art is being included this time around. This is because I am street.

ITEM: If you are making a television news story on South Auckland gangs and you want to make a point about the influence of Los Angeles gang culture on South Auckland youths, please be sure to use a video clip that is at least 15 years old, preferably something by NWA. Everyone knows that teenz are most influenced by the music that was in the charts when they were born. After all, my life is defined by the music of Gary Glitter, the Osmonds and the Wombles.

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LJ, Observatory

On the down low, yo

There was an article about blogs in this week’s Sunday magazine, part of the Sunday Star-Times. Written by journalist (and former blogger) Deborah Hill Cone, it was about how there is more to blogging than people arguing about Iraq, and that there are actually some interesting, well-written blogs out there. Cool.

(Of course, if you’re reading this, you already knew that, right? But rumour has it that some people still think blogging is about writing really radical and controversial stuff like “George W Bush makes me sick!!!!1″)

In the penultimate paragraph, there was mention of my *ahem* blog:

In The Secret Passage Mt Eden blogger Robyn uses annoying yoof vocab like “old skool” and “on the down low” – but she also writes lively posts about bad poetry, karaoke and appearing on the Jim Mora show.

I must make the following observations:

  • Yo, I don’t usually be using annoying yoof vocab like “old skool”, but on occasion when I be doing that shit, I’m taking the piss, yo. Word.
  • I’ve never used the phrase “on the down low”. I am so uncool I don’t even know what it means. However, I will endeavour to use it so I don’t disappoint any SST readers who come visiting.
  • Bad poetry, yes; karaoke, yes; Jim Mora,… what?! Another mystery. I’ve never been on the Jim Mora show. It’s possible this was confused with my appearance on National Radio in December, but that was hosted by Jon Bridges.
  • Lively posts? Hey, I like that description.

But the funny thing is that the URL to this site was published incorrectly. Tragically a www. was put before the secretpassage.livejournal.com, which results in a 404 error. Some smart SST readers ought to be able to figure how to get here, but others will be flailing about in cyberspace on the down low.

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LJ, Observatory

Distantly unfashionable, unfashionably distant.

There’s an interesting piece in The Observer where Zoe Lazarus, a trend analyst, talks about stuff. The bit that stood out for me was this paragraph:

“The Germans are quite stylish now, but the Austrians and Kiwis are generally the last to pick up on stuff.”

Well, how about that? (OMG, how embarrassing!)

I’ve always thought that even though New Zealand is incredibly geographically distant, that modern technology, communication and transport would keep us close enough to the rest of the world to keep up with what’s hot and cool.

But now that I think about it, New Zealand does seem a little slow to latch onto trends.

Take the mullet, if you will.

I remember in 1995 when the second issue of the Beastie Boys’ “Grand Royal” magazine had an extensive feature article on mullets. This is thought of by many as sparking the mullet revival. It was very cool to mock mullets. Then once mocking mullets became passe, mullets then became fashionable and the ironic mullet was born. In 2001 when I was in Melbourne I saw a photographer sporting an ironic mullet. It seemed strange, yet cool.

Last year, on Space, Hugh Sundae let his hair grow into a mullet. This caused much merriment and confusion on the Space forums. Because, um, weren’t mullets meant to be uncool and wasn’t Hugh meant to be cool?!!??!?!

This year the Mint Chicks released a video for their song “Licking Letters” that included their drummer with an ironic mullet nestled on his shoulders. This also caused confusion amongst people who weren’t sure if it was hot or not.

Oh, poor, distant, backwards Aotearoa!

I think this slowness to latch onto new trends and ideas has to do with population. I reckon that for most of us we don’t try new things until a certain number of other people have adopted them before us. For example, when I was 17 and living in Hamilton I wore a pair of Levi’s 505s to school. I was the first in the whole of the non-uniform wearing six and seventh form to wear a pair of baggy trousers (and a friend told me that they were too baggy and obviously needed to be taken in), but I wore the 505s knowing that all the cool kids in Auckland had 505s on their arses.

Ok, so let’s say that an average person won’t adopt a new trend until, say 100 other people have done it first. In New Zealand that’s 0.000025% of the population (which is a pretty small percentage), however, in the UK 100 people is a piddly 0.0000017% of the population (tiny!), so a in country with a larger population, new trends and idea are adopted much faster than countries with smaller populations.

Meanwhile, Zoe the trend analyst says, “Flat tops will replace mullets – we’ve taken the mullet as far as it can go.”

Ok, so we should see the death of the mullet finally reach New Zealand in 2007. But by then I will be in Berlin, as it is one of the “new centres of creative and forward-thinking people.”

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LJ, Music, Observatory

Items

Four items

1. This whole Mike King vs Newsboy thing is very entertaining. The cartoon that offended Mike King so much was in part made by two complete bastards/top blokes I know, Andy and Karl. I’m so very proud of them.

The deal is, there was a cartoon on “Eating Media Lunch” where a dog was watching a TV comedian called “Mike Queen” who was dribbling out some template comedy, much like Mike King does. The dog wasn’t laughing. This appeared to have offended Mike King and he left a really vicious-sounding, obscenity-filled voicemail message on the phone one of the “Eating Media Lunch” writers. However, the Herald today reported that Mike King reckoned it was “a joke”.

Well, jokes are usually funny. If I checked my voicemail and found a message from someone I knew calling me a “cocksucking cunt” and saying that my friend was “fucking with the wrong person”, I don’t think I’d be laughing. But if Mike King says this unfunny voicemail is a joke, then it kind of reinforces the cartoon dog’s opinion of Mike King’s comedy skills.

2. I saw a guy in a Ferrari Testarossa run a red light. Multiple cars had started moving in the other direction. He even going up a hill, so it’s not like he couldn’t stop. No one said it, but there was this kind of universal you wanker vibe. Then I was thinking, if you drive a Ferrari Testarossa around Auckland, everyone’s going to think you’re wanker. Even if you are actually a good driver, people are going to think you’re a wanker, so why not just drive poorly and fulfil their expectations?

3. I saw Paselode at the Dogs Bollix on Wednesday. It’s weird seeing bands when I’m wearing ear plugs. I couldn’t find my good ear plugs, so I had to use the foam ones I got on an aeroplane. They reduced the volume, but seemed to cut out the joy. It was strange.

4. I went to the yarn store yesterday. Specifically, this is the Spotlight store at Wairau Park. (I didn’t buy yarn, but I like calling it that, ok?). Spotlight is staffed by women who appear to be lower-middle class housewives who have thought that it might be nice having a bit of extra income. The store was a mess, with almost every aisle having stock strewn about the floor being reshelved. As I was browsing near the embroidery racks, I heard two staff members bitching about the Australian-based management. There seemed to have been some sort of executive decision made that no full-time staff would be working over the holiday rush. One of then reckoned it would mean a drop in sales. The other said she hoped it would, so that the management would realise how bad their decision was. Bags not working at or shopping at a store where the staff openly discuss how much they hate it.

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LJ, Observatory

Tits

Oh, it’s so hard being a woman in the music industry.

I just saw an interview on C4 with Julia Deans and another guy from Fur Patrol. Ms Deans was wearing a really horrible, boxy jacket that made her look like a grey square with a fluffy red head. The interviewer moved onto asking about “Lydia”, so bits of the “Lydia” video were played. Part of the video showed the sleazy guy who’s sitting at a nightclub table across from the blonde Lydia. Just as that part of the video played, the interview cut back to Julia Deans. The sleazy guy in his sleazy jacket cut straight to Julia sitting there in her horrible jacket. Then, to make things worse, the “Lydia” video came back and showed Julia looking really good as the sarcastic, eye-rolling, pierced nightclub singer. That made the Julia of today not just look like a grey square, but like a homeless person who’s gone on a job skills course and has been loaned an ill-fitting jacket for their interview as a toilet cleaner. Yeah, life is tough.

Oh, and then there’s the ruckus surrounding Dicko’s comments regarding Paulini’s dress on Australian Idol. She looked, as Murray so excellent put it, like a polished brass potato. Dicko advised her to either dress more appropriately or lose some weight. It was pretty blunt advice, and probably could have been worded better, but it was good advice. Paulini was performing a Destiny’s Child song when she wore the dress, so she probably had Beyonce in mind, but Beyonce is svelte, Paulini is not. Paulini isn’t overweight, she doesn’t need to lose weight, but on the other hand, she doesn’t have the skinny-ass figure that is necessary to get away with looking stunning in the dress she wore.

I’ve read reactions in the Australian media to Dicko’s comment, and some have hailed it as a giant leap backwards in getting young women to feel good about their bodies. Other people seem to have interpreted it as him saying her only options were to cover her hideously fat body from head to toe, or to start starving herself, develop a devastating eating disorder, and to drag the young women of Australia down with her. Oh no!

Really, all Paulini needs is a copy of “What Not To Wear”.

Oh oh oh. Waikato bitter (maaaate) had a funny billboard with “Winter. It’s outstanding”, and below it the billboard had two round shapes sticking out, like nipples under a t-shirt. A woman from the Women’s Health Action Trust complained to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board because she felt that the ad was offensive to women, particularly breastfeeding women. The ASCB ruled that the billboard was suggestive, not definitive, and was not exploitive or degrading. Very good. But then, in the article about this in the Waikato Times, the W.H.A.T. complainer was quoted as saying, “we really don’t support breasts being used for advertising.” Oh, while we’re at it, let’s lobby to remove human beings from all advertising.

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LJ, Observatory

Not to be

Somehow I’m on the bFM mailing list and every week or so I get an email advertising various bFM promotions. I usually just read and delete, but it wasn’t until today’s email that I’ve decided to unsubscribe from the list.

It was reading this that did it:

The White Stripes show next Tuesday is almost sold out. But you can score tickets galore thanks to Vodafone.

All you have to do is dress up as one of the White Stripes in their trademark red and white colours and come up to bFM during Hugh’s Breakfast Show any day between now Tuesday. The 25 best dressed look-a-likes will win double passes to the show. Cripes.

Oh, bFM. You make it so hard to love you.

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Observatory

Bad Magazine

I’ve moved flats (again) and I’m now living in a reasonably classy neighbourhood. I found in my letterbox a magazine full of advertorial, hawking stuff that rich people are supposed to covet. It has a cover price of $5.50, but it distributed free to suburbs such as mine.

It seems to be written by a bunch of writers who have to engage in creative writing exercises to write the sort of articles that they think that rich wankers who lead busy, stressful lives and have too much money, would like to read.

It doesn’t quite come across as being real, though. It’s like those rap videos where the rappers sit around with all their possessions, drinking champagne, showing how they are livin’ large, but you know it’s just a front.

The results are some of the most hilarious and sickening sentences I’ve read in a long time.

The magazine’s editorial starts with a call to arms:

“The mornings are getting crisper and winter is creeping up. It’s time to buy snuggly woolies and new ski gear.”

New ski gear every year? But of course!

First up was a section on organics, with a handy section of commonly held myths regarding organic food. This was my favourite:

“Myth #2: It’s more expensive
-Wrong. We bought meat from an organic butchery in Auckland and then went to the supermarket and bought the same meat and the supermarket was more expensive. And the organic meat was much less fatty.”

How creative to present their research findings in the written style of an enthusiastic nine-year-old (“and then we went to the beach and it was cool and I had an ice cream and…”). It’s also interesting that they dis “the supermarket” but in an article on the same page they praise a supermarket for stocking a large range of organic products.

“Lothar says the hardest thing about buying produce today is that it often comes pre-wrapped in cellophane and as any good buyer knows, it is imperative that produce passes the ‘smell and sniff’ test to confirm that it is in peak condition and not past its prime.”

I sometimes buy produce wrapped in cellophane. I do not ‘smell and sniff’ produce before I buy it. I am bad.

“Just reading the bill of fare will send shivers of pleasurable anticipation through the most seasoned gastronome.”

They could have written “menu” instead of “bill of fare” and “food lover” instead of gastronome, but no. Simple, concise language isn’t the sort of thing that busy, stressed-out people understand.

“This has got to be a godsend for busy urbanites. You know the routine – long hours at the office, tired and travelling home in traffic, asking “What shall we do for dinner?” Here’s the answer.”

Whilst it might seems that the answer would be to quit your job and go and live on a kibbutz for a year and get your life back, the answer is actually just a more expensive version of meals on wheels.

My favourite item was a list of “fashion faux pas”, allegedly according to Coco Chanel. I say allegedly, because despite the fact that Ms Chanel died in 1971, item number 12 was “do not buy makeup on the internet.”

There was also a shopping hints page, sponsored by a credit card company. Hints included, “always carry a bottle of water. Shopping can be dehydrating and exhausting.”

From an article about a fashionable shopping street:

“The whole street engenders a feeling of community spirit – even the metre maid had a smile.”

It’s almost tempting to go there to see if I can find this 100 centimetre maid.

This description, of an apparent nightmare situation, started off an article for a panelbater:

“It’s often hard enough coming to terms with the fact that your beloved German sportscar has been rammed up the proverbial through no fault of yours, coping with the insurance companies and reams of paperwork, imagining being without wheels for weeks on end and, to top it off, realising that you’re late for a meeting.”

It’s like, oh crap, your car’s been hit, that’s bad. But wait, you’re late for a meeting, that’s, like, a total disaster, dude! And what, you can’t call the office and say “I’m not going to be able to make the meeting. I’ve been in a car crash.” Or will this panel beater be able to fix up your beloved Deutch mobile so you can make it back to the meeting?

A gaggle of drag-queens pose glamourously next to a car. The article first defines what a drag queen is:

“This differs from the sisters of drag, the “trannies” who live as women and therefore are women.”

I’m reluctant to call anyone with a penis a woman, but if some bad magazine says men who live as women are women, then it must be true.

A page offering tips for not spending too much on a wedding says:

“Use invitation stationery that’s light enough when assembled for delivery that it doesn’t require more than one stamp.”

According to New Zealand Post, the maximum weight for a standard letter is one kilogram, so I guess that rules out using granite tablets to chisel the invites onto.

In an article for car grooming products, a story is told of a valet who saw a dirty BMW pull up and was expecting an equally dirty driver.

“To his horror and amazement, a well-known personality stepped out of the car, designer clothing and picture-perfect hair, and handed over the keys.”

This event permanently scarred the valet, and “even now, some years on, he can’t see her photo in a magazine without first remembering that car.”

Two pages offer an adult section. The highlight being a stripper service, offering “strobe and neon lights, smoke machines, mirror balls and techno laser graphics,” in case seeing a naked lady isn’t exciting on its own.

An article about the joys of a Maserati tells of “a day in the country” and describes “heading south”. But the accompanying pictures show the car at Piha beach, which is neither rural nor south of Auckland.

“The New Zealand equivalent of London’s exclusive Notting Hill will soon stand as an integral component in the make up of Auckland City’s exclusive Viaduct Harbour.”

No, it won’t. It’s just another harbourside housing development. It won’t be anything like Notting Hill. There won’t be a multi-cultural street carnival. Julia Roberts will not fall in love with Hugh Grant in Freemans Bay.

“Our eldest daughter told us recently how much she enjoys the regular ‘family dinners’ held at our home.”

Why the scare quotes around ‘family dinners’? Could it be that they aren’t really family dinners, that it’s just someone sitting on their couch with an up-sized burger combo?

An article titled “Stop being a victim”, offers safety tips for women who are sick of feeling vulnerable. Highlights include:

“I am fed up with the limitations these evil-minded muggers and rapists put on our lives.”
“Self-defence courses for women are NOT martial arts schools.”
“Women have a very strong 6th sense, but it’s not often we heed it.”
“Be safe at home – e.g. don’t hop in the shower if the ranch slider is open.”
“We want our lives back without fear and intimidation.”

The social event pages bring us pictures of the beautiful people at such events as “New Years Day at the Tauranga Racing Club” and “Hillary and Tracey’s Farewell”.

The back cover has an ad for a sports car rental company. It features a photo of the back of a Porsche with three women standing in it bending over so their bums were on display. The incredibly witty caption read, “It’s a REAR thing to hire a Porsche.

A bunch of arse, really.

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