Steve Jobs and the Legacy of Marketing

Don't get teary-eyed until you read this... Then you'll hate me.

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. A lot of my friends have already expressed their gratitude for Apple products, and while I know that Jobs did indeed change the market and helped usher the computer revolution, I’m still a PC man.

This is not a slam on Jobs, people. I’ve used Apple products before. I had to while I was working with He Who Shall Not Be Named. I even own an iPod I like a lot. I can appreciate the simplicity of selling a product that anyone could use right out of the box, and I think Apple does a lot of things very well. However, I have one huge gripe with Apple products.

That would be Apple product users.

Apple Power by *theprodiqy on deviantART

Guys, Steve Jobs was a businessman and a nerd. He made and sold computers. Owning said computers does not make you part of the Apple community, some Borg-like collective of innovation. Using a Mac does not make you a genius. A Mac is not akin to the monolith in 2001. It is not a mysterious source of power that will grant you God-like abilities. Sure, an iPhone is handy, and there are many things it lets you do.

But it’s a phone.

I understand that a Mac is quite powerful and a handy tool if you want to work in film or graphic design. But it’s not THE tool. Back when I worked with HWSNBN, he had the latest, top-of-the-line Apple products. He could make gorgeous graphic designs and covers. He had the latest version of Photoshop and iMovie.

I could do the same kind of design on a four-year-old computer with a cheap Photoshop knock-off that was eight versions out of date. It took a few seconds for the filters and effects to render, but it was the same thing. I wish I could show the images, but Texas deer ranchers are VERY protective of people using images of their deer.

rainbow apple iphone wallpaper by ~MelissaReneePohl on deviantART

Look, Jobs was a very influential man. He was a very smart man who knew how to sell a product by making it more than a product and instead a part of the consumer’s identity.

So, with all the respect I DO hold for him, Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.

And to the rest of you, stop trying to push your Apple products on me like you were cheap drug dealers. I’ve dealt with cheap drug dealers. Your pitches are no better.

Steve Jobs Potrait by gadgets by ~viruskuman on deviantART

An Open Letter to Rebecca Black (And Anyone Who Wants to be Like Her)

She's everywhere! Make it stop!

April 8, 2011

Music’s dead.

At least, pop music is dead. I know, I know. Every generation thinks its music is crap. I’m too old if I start whining about the kids and their music and their Beibers and all that. Yes, I know that we’ve always had crappy music and the really good stuff is the stuff that gets remembered.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss the utter crap fest I’ve been hearing on the radio.

I stopped listening to the radio in about 1999, back when every other song was Backstreet Boys. I swore off radio and the closest thing I used for a while was Pandora. I really have only a cursory knowledge of popular music in the last ten years aside from what I see on TV, in movies, or happen to read about.

So, Rebecca, as a concerned artist, I want to tell you to stop.

You’re a celebrity. Congratulations. So’s Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian. Nice list. They’re pretty much famous for making fools of themselves. And you’ve joined them whether you want to admit it or not.

Let’s go down the list of things done wrong, shall we?

Rebecca Black: Friday by ~mexicanpryde2000 on deviantART

Your parents paid for the music video and recording.

Someone else wrote the lyrics.

The video is just one notch above “middle school project with a camera and pirated copy of Final Cut.”

All you did was get dressed and sing. And you didn’t even do that! You got Auto-Tunned for half the song!

Look, I know Auto-Tunning is the latest, best thing to happen to people who want a music carrer. Without it, Ke$ha would be an alcoholic with a camcorder drowning in her own vomit. Even without it, she’s nothing special. You, Rebecca? You had a dream. You wanted to be famous. Did you practice singing? Train yourself in poetry and songwriting? Listen to the classics of pop music?

No. Your parents forked over $4,000 dollars to get your face plastered on a song where your own voice isn’t even heard. It’d be like me paying someone to write Charcoal Streets over a weekend, then putting my mug all over the cover.

Rebecca black by ~ItalianxGal on deviantART

Plus, the lyrics? I’d ask for my money back.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I already have a headache. It’s the lyrical equivalent of white noise. It also proves that if you have nothing to say, say nothing at all.

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

Gotta have my bowl? Are you smoking weed? Are you on the dope!?

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

Yup. You’re stoned off your gourd, aren’t you, Rebecca?

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

You remind me of that scene in Knocked Up where Paul Rudd’s character gets freaked out by the number of chairs in the room. Just pick a damn seat!

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Also, people look forward to happy hour, 5 o’clock, lunch time, and the week’s episode of Criminal Minds.

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Okay, a few things. First of all, you’re thirteen. You’re frakking thirteen years old. What “partying” are you doing? Unless you’re snorting coke off a Justin Beiber CD or smoking that bowl from earlier, you’re not “partying.” You’re hanging out with friends at Chuck E. Cheese.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun

Well someone’s been reading The Secret. Hey, I can think about fun all I want, but it won’t make it so. I suppose one could make the argument that by moving faster, as you suggest, you could indeed use time dilation to make time outside your vehicle move at a much slower rate… But I doubt your songwriter knows how to spell relativity.

You know what it is
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

I’m sitting in a chair. My hands touch the keyboard. My fiancé is at work. Okay, now your turn to spout out more blatantly obvious observations. Also, any point to telling us your friend is on the right? And, from a grammatical viewpoint, what is “this” you are referring to? I’m sorry I don’t speak “street.”

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Wait, you’re hanging out with high schoolers? You’re what? In seventh grade? How are these friends of yours driving?! …Hold on. I thought you were already in the car. What-

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Friday isn’t the weekend, Rebecca. On Friday AFTERNOON, you can start enjoying the weekend. People still work on Friday. If you’re so stressed in eight grade that you look forward to getting down on the weekend, you’re either in a very work-intensive middle school or you have no concept of what it really means to be stressed.

I’ve never seen a more blatant example of clutter in my life, too. There are words and phrases here that are just taking space. It’s like the writer simply got the beat for the song, then played Mad Libs trying to fill the void… and the void stared back and said, “Screw you.”

Friday by ~PeaceLoveMulan on deviantART

Look, these lyrics were obviously written by someone who wanted to appeal to teens who think the weekend is about partying all the time and dancing in a brightly lit room, but clubs are full of sweaty idiots who smell like Bud Light because they can’t stomach real beer. Real parties with teens typically have one idiot who brought a controlled substance.

Everyone has a dream. I have mine. You, Rebecca, obviously have yours. And I’m not being unfair by critiquing this. “But she’s just a kid,” I can hear some of my readers saying. “Leave her alone.”

No. You put this out there, you get the same amount of scrutiny the rest of us get when we put something out. I’m not about to give you a bronze medal just because you tried.

You, and Beiber, and Ke$ha, and your ilk are overproduced performers who go hyped to the top. You’re like Episode I, but more annoying because I can choose to not hear Jar Jar. I keep hearing this stupid song everywhere!

Let’s clean out those brain lobes with some linkage.

  • And finally, let me leave you with two of the most awesome things in the world: classic Michael Jackson and Transformers. See you Monday!

Vocabulary, You Bastard

So many words! They're overpowering us!

September 8, 2010

Beck’s on vacation, Limbaugh’s just normal crazy, Bachmann is still her same old psycho-idiot, and no one’s really done anything stupid enough in censorship this week. At least, I haven’t seen anything.

Time for an English language rant!

Arguments often lead to a basic truth. Even if one side will never admit it, there’s often one point of view that’s more valid or just made a better use of evidence and logic. However, this assumes both sides start on equal footing. If you have one side labeled a devil while the other is white-washed and wreathed in angels and flowers, you’re going to get a very different public perception.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Language by ~Avalon-Shiranui on deviantART

Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice

If one side is for life, isn’t the opposite side for death?

That’s the first thing I thought when I first heard of this debate. The names are completely inadequate to frame the debate. You can always have, say, socialism versus capitalism since both terms which describe their points of view, but pro choice and pro-life both have names that are absurd.

“Pro-life” already implies that a fetus is alive from the point of conception. If you believe in a woman’s right to chose, you understand how problematic this can be. If the debate starts with the other side saying they want to save lives, because those lives are real (a circular argument), you’ve pretty much lost. Your side will forever be branded “pro-death.”

Facts vs Opinions by ~Mysterieux936 on deviantART


This is perhaps the only group I can think of that is named based on what it DOESN’T believe. A deist believes in a divine power but may choose not to worship it. A Christian believes that Christ is the son of God. A Buddhist follows the teaching of Buddha. An atheist believes in… atheism?

By framing atheism as the absence of a belief system when all other belief systems are based on their definition, it creates an instant hostility. We don’t call Jews “proto-Christians” any more than we call Buddhists “non-Muslims.” An atheist believes that the world and what we can analyze and interact with is all that exists. That’s it, but calling an atheist “materialistic” uses a term that’s also been tainted by meanings of greed.

Tied Up in Time and Confusion by *teagmcgillivary on deviantART

There are dozens of others.

Take, for example, “traditional family values.” Oh boy. I hate this one. The argument is never against Christian morality or fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. It’s typically framed in the context of “traditional family values,” a term that means almost nothing without knowing whose family you’re talking about.

And trust me. I wrote speeches for Congress. I learned to write five minutes of nothing. It hurt.

“Bigot” is another that’s been getting thrown out. If you don’t agree with someone’s philosophy, you’re a bigot, or at least that’s the way some people are using the term. That used to be called multiculturalism. I don’t have to agree with someone’s world-view to like or get along with them.

Okay, that’s it. I’m tired. On Friday, hopefully the new Charcoal Streets will be ready. It’s turning into my own personal Duke Nukem Forever.

meeting a deadline by ~Pockypuu on deviantART


  • This handy infographic on the Facebook vs iPhone vs Android app war is quite telling. No matter how much people complain about Facebook every time it changes something, it still manages to draw a crowd.
  • In news that is sure to get all you history-philes all nice and moist, footage of the blitz IN COLOR has been recently unearthed in England. It shows the war in a way we hadn’t seen before. Now I’m waiting for that 3D footage of Normandy.
  • Friends of mine in the Army have told me about MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) and the verdict ranges from gut-cement to “taste of home.” Ever wonder what other countries give their troops? I have to say, if given the choice, I’d go with the French MRE.
  • Money can’t buy happiness, but $75,000 a year can buy peace of mind. That’s the claim by a recent study. Apparently, $75,000 is enough to lessen stress. It doesn’t make you happier, but it provides enough financial security to help offset many crises.
  • For those who enjoy hearing about people’s disastrous sexual escapades, check out this ad for the worst gang-bang ever.
  • And finally, in the best news in cabaret punk since the formation of the Dresden Dolls… the Dresden Dolls are getting back together for a reunion tour! Check out the announcement trailer below.

Apples and Another Euphemism

We're all naked under our clothes. Think about it.

WARNING: The following post is Not Safe for Work. View at your discretion.

March 1, 2010

Our brains control the most basic responses and needs in our nature: feeding, fighting, fleeing, and mating. The last one, other than the “fighting” response, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Be fruitful and multiply! Wave your freak flag high! Drop it like it’s hot! Sex is supposedly like mp3’s. For every idiot paying for it, hundreds are getting it for free. It’s everywhere from advertisements to movies and music.

Recently, Apple deleted almost 5,000 apps from the iPhone store. These included programs that had everything from semi-dressed women cleaning your iPhone screen to women you could undress. There was no real pattern to the deletions since, for example, Sports Illustrated and Playboy kept their programs. The haphazard way in which Apple cut through the apps made me wonder about how many people think about sex and pornography, since this was the original justification in many people’s minds. According to Apple, they were responding to customer complaints about the sexual nature of many apps and how children could see them if they had an iPhone.

Oh, the children. Is there anything they can’t ruin for everyone?

As a society, we’ve long debated the merits of sex and erotica in art and popular culture in things like Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and the various pseudo-sexualized Disney acts from the Jonas Brothers to Miley Cyrus. Lindsey Vonn’s recent Sports Illustrated cover had many calling out foul since they believed it sexualized her, but sex sells. That’s the bottom line.

Art has always had a deep connection with human emotions, and sex is one of the most basic. We know this because the same part of the brain that controls the fight or flight response also controls sexual desire. People have no trouble with images of war, but why is a hint of sex or nudity a bad thing for many? Many of these apps are designed to do one thing and one thing only. Killing Nazis.

No, wait, scratch that. These apps are designed to titillate and arouse. That’s it. I can’t speak for all 5,000 apps, but the line between legitimate art, application, and the smut some feel is present in the iPhone is a very thin one. The distinction art has long had to grapple with is the difference between pornography and erotica.

Porn is usually classified as the depiction of explicit or sexual acts for the purpose of sexual excitement. Erotica is the depiction of sexually-stimulating or arousing images and content.

Wow. I’ll take “Troublesome Overlap” for 300, Alex.

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

By this definition, cheerleaders at high school football games shaking their assets would count as porn. A woman wouldn’t shake her body like that for someone unless she wanted people to observe and desire her body. The only difference is that the cheerleaders aren’t looking for sex.

At least not in any official capacity as representatives of their schools. What they do in their spare time is another matter.

Likewise, porn doesn’t have to be based on human physically. If someone had a balloon fetish, THIS could be considered erotica or porn:

In other words, anything that stimulates sexual thoughts can be easily classified as porn, and using sexuality to promote art in any way, shape, or form is bad, right? We can’t use sex, because sex is a dirty, filthy act you should only perform with one person you truly care about. I’m sure Apple did this with the best intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell. As a writer and artist, I’d say that the difference between pornography and erotica is artistic merit, but then you get into a debate on the definition of art. It’s one of those things that’s easier to show than actually explain.

Let’s look at a recent example from pop culture. At the 2010 Grammy Awards, Pink put on the following performance. Watch it and ask yourself if this is a case of selling sex and titillation or if it’s art.

A nearly naked woman showing off her toned body with acrobatics while dripping wet and performing a love song… Porn? It’s certainly personal and in your face. If we analyzed it like we would a piece of art, though, I’d say the stripping of the gown at the beginning is symbolic of opening yourself to someone else, that by essentially appearing naked, Pink not only exposed her performance, but her body, to scrutiny. She stripped off the gown at the line, “Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?” The water was a visual element for the song’s title, and the way the light caught the drops while they fell onto the audience created that effect of glitter in the air.

There weren’t any actions that could be taken as representative of any sexual act, and artists can appreciate the human body without instantly thinking of sex. The first time I drew a nude model for a class in college, it was late in the year and we’d become professionals in our own right. A body, like a word, is a tool for creating strong emotion.

How about *this* image?

come undone again by =mastertouch on deviantART

Certainly physical. Pornographic? That depends. Are we looking at its intent? Is it art because it’s nicely shot and isn’t about sex itself, but uses sexual imagery to convey a point?

What about this?

Weight of the World by ~ThePrincessPixie on deviantART

Naked bodies, emotion, but what makes these art and differentiates them from the kind of thing you usually have to provide a credit card number for on the internet? What makes these photographs art and the iBoobs… not.

Is it the juvenile “Bewbs!” response that separates smut from art? Again, that’s based on a personal response and not anything concrete. The iBoobs was one of the apps deleted from the store, and yet the above DeviantArt images are not only more graphic, they are of real people, real models, who use their bodies to make a living. The other is a digital effect of how a programmer imagines breasts move.

And right there we hit the first major speed bump.

One person’s smut is another person’s tease. Trying to regulate sexuality is a bit like nailing herded cats to a smoking wall. Or something. I think I just mixed three metaphors, but it doesn’t matter. Any time someone tries to object to content because it’s sexual, it’s not only easy, but expected you’ll find a gray area. While there are a few things most people, not all, could classify as art and classify as pornography, these extremes are difficult to pin down, too. Even if you do find the extremes at either end and decide on what is acceptable, it’s all still a matter of opinion.

I understand that people may feel objectification is harmful to women. Whether or not they’re right isn’t important for this discussion.

It is.

The point of this whole iPhone article is that most people will always have a concept of pornography, erotica, and sex that is either puritanical or non-existent. It’s one or the other. Were some of the apps in poor, even childish, taste? Sure. Should they be deleted because they are offensive? First, you’d have to define offensive and somehow justify Michelangelo’s “David” so we don’t have to tear it down. Then, make sure everyone believes sex and the human form are both inherently dirty and everyone has the same threshold for stimulation.

When you do that, for your next trick, I want you to teach Jar Jar proper English and fly under your own power.

By the way, if you want to view art, real art featuring the human form, check out the artist below.

LETS GO VIRAL by =mastertouch on deviantART