Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Monday, February 25, 2008  
There's a ton of existentialism in The Simpsons. And that is the beauty of a good episode. When the writers nail it, they really, really nail it brilliantly. They lampoon it, but to do so they clearly have to know it, have experienced it, and therefore also sympathize with it while lampooning. They make fun of Homer, but, they take him just to the brink and then make us realize in many core ways we're no different than Homer.

You’re sitting there thinking, “Whoa, Trillian, I beg to differ with you on that. I am in no way like Homer Simpson.”

Okay. Great! Good for you! Congratulations. You apparently have a rewarding and fulfilling job you love, working for bosses who are kind and truly care more about their employees than the company bottom line. Apparently there aren’t any sycophantic yes people following senior management around like drooling puppies at your workplace. Apparently you don’t struggle to make financial ends meet. And when some wind-fall does come your way, you don’t struggle between paying off your credit cards/putting money away for the kids’ college/replacing the car that’s nearing the 150,000 mile mark and gasping for repairs. You must have great neighbors you love having next door. So you don’t know what it’s like to have obnoxious neighbors who bug the crap out of you, but are basically good people so you feel guilty about finding them obnoxious and you’re stuck living next door to them anyway so there’s nothing you can do but deal with them. You never feel the desire to get away from your life and the pressure at work and home by doing something you know you shouldn’t do. You never want to avoid going home or responsibilities at home or work. Wow. Lucky you. Can we do a life swap for a few weeks?

The rest of us will just be over there living our less than perfect lives beating our head against walls and feeling despondant over the zeitgeist around us.

There are classes in The Simpsons - mostly cultural studies classes. What someone, perhaps me, needs to do is create a course on existentialism found in modern life and compare and contrast the duality and conflict and struggle of the American people as evidenced by the FOX network airing complete opposite programming, both long time American favorites The Simpsons and American Idol.

As a people we're depressed, confused, bored and most of us know this ship is sinking. We've been tuning into The Simpsons for almost 20 years (depending on when you count the debut – on Tracy Ullman or when they got their own show) to get our schadenfreudistic pleasure from laughing at The Simpsons. All the while (most of us) knowing full well the reason we find it funny is because we're one or two steps away from that life ourselves. They’re taken to an extreme, but the themes ring true. We laugh, but most of the time deep down, much as it might pain us to admit, we're laughing with them, not at them. And that's a key element. Crazy as they are, we understand, we sympathize. We, well, we care. It’s a kind of self effacing schadenfreude.

But then "we" turn around and tune in to American Idol. Mind numbingly stupid, offensive, formulaic, ridiculously self absorbed recording industry vehicle and swindle on the American public. "We" love to sit and laugh at the bad contestants. We sit there waiting for last week's favorite to stumble on a difficult tune, turn in a "pitchy" performance or wear an unflattering outfit or hair style. It’s schadenfreudistic pleasure without the self awareness and sympathy that’s behind the schadenfreudistic comedy of the Simpsons.

The duality and conflict of the popularity of these two shows with overlapping viewership is interesting on a sociological level.

Is it marketing baby, marketing?

In the case of The Simpsons, no. The Simpsons defies all television marketing and demographic logic. Pop culture phenomenon? Maybe at first. But really they’ve always been more of a noumenon. Sure, there are sight gags and low brow jokes which don’t require a lot of gray matter. But the sight gags, low brow jokes and “eat my shorts” bit would have only given The Simpsons a couple of seasons. Even on FOX. But, as their 20th year approaches (or is here, depending on your opinion of anniversary date) it’s time to give them (the writers) credit for brilliance unrivaled. They’ve gone beyond phenomenon. Those days are over. The phenomenon ended when the last Eat My Shorts t-shirt was sold in the mall.

It’s time to give them credit for being something more than a pop culture phenomenon. Something more than a noumenon. In the Bartman/Eat My Shorts t-shirt heyday, yes, it was marketing, baby, marketing. People were wary of this new network, FOX (rightfully so). Mainstream dolts thought it was a cartoon with a bratty kid. Kids didn’t really understand a lot of the humor, and it was on Sunday night and they had to get ready for school the next day. Were it not for the interest in, and success of Married with Children, another early FOX success story, The Simpsons may not have ever hit their stride and found their niche. Married… aired on Sunday nights and quickly found an audience. That all important 22 – 36 year old demograph. If you write it smart, funny and hip enough, they will come. And oh, sure, the few people who knew who Tracy Ullman were at the time eagerly tuned into her show and saw the original segue bits which were The Simpsons. And oh, sure, a few of those people liked The Simpsons and were interested to see if it could flesh out into a full ½ hour show on its own. Poor Tracy Ullman. Brilliantly funny, but her show was axed and the little yellow cartoon family still airs on FOX Sunday night 20 years later. So yes. In those days it was marketing, baby, marketing. The Married… crowd and few Tracy Ullman fans got hooked on the Simpsons, word spread, and voila, marketing, baby, marketing. Phenomenon, baby, phenomenon.

But those days were 20 years ago. Those original Bartman and Eat My Shorts t-shirts are so old they’re considered kitschy retro, ironic vintage, and funny nod to the ‘80s. (And you have to hope Groening and clan had the foresight to nail down a hefty licensing agreement. I, for one, would love to see the original contract between Groening and FOX. How hungry was he and how desperate were they? I’m guessing it’s a far cry from the dubious FOX contract American Idol contestants are forced to sign.) Twenty years and a lot of brilliant (and admittedly, some very lame) episodes later, The Simpsons is as sharp and layered as ever. There is something for everyone. It takes us to the edge of insulting our intelligence and then soothes our synapses with profound societal and sociological insight. Basically: Just like real life.

Yes, really. Think about it. One of the standout episodes is the flashback to how baby Maggie came into being. Things were going well for the family so Homer could finally quit the drudgery and demoralization of his job at the power plant and pursue his dream career: working at a bowling alley. Okay. Maybe your dream career isn’t working at a bowling alley, but, we all have a “bowling alley” dream career. If I had a bazillion dollars and could quit the monotony, agony and demoralizing job I call my career, I would love to have a rock shop – go around collecting rocks, tumble and polish them and serve the rock hounding public. No. There is not a big rock hounding public and no one ever got rich selling rock tumblers and rock tumbling supplies. It’s debatable that anyone in the rock hounding trade has ever been able to keep a roof over their head and food on the table solely on their rock work. Logic and practicality and a need to survive keep us from our “bowling alley” dream jobs. And along came baby Maggie, more expenses and Homer had to eat humble pie, swallow his pride and dreams, deal with reality and return to work at the power plant. So much for his dream job. Did he resent Maggie? Probably. But this is Homer and he’s not capable of connecting lofty concepts like resentment and existentialism. Instead when old Burnsy gives him an office plaque reading Don’t Forget: You’re Here Forever, Homer covers it up with photos of Maggie so it reads: Do It For Her. Awwwwwwww. Homer redeems himself for a moment there.

We know about existentialism and see it so clearly and cleverly and funnily woven into the episode. Others unfamiliar with existentialism see it as a touching moment of tenderness for Homer. Either way, stupid as Homer is often portrayed, these moments of existentialism/tenderness redeem him to us. He’s human and he’s not as stupid as he usually seems. Whether or not we want to admit it, we’re Homer. Homer, rightly or wrongly, has learned to enoble the void, deal with his life, exert free will, by finding escape and camaraderie by drinking at Moe’s. Maybe you don’t drink, but you probably do something to exert your free will, a way to escape the monotony of your life and justify your diversion by counting off the ways in which your life sucks, demanding job, financial stress, unfulfilling relationships. You may not sit on a bar stool, but we all have diversions which we use to ignore our responsibilities. I swore I’d keep religion out of this but there are people (probably not reading this blog) who use religion as their escape and a way to avoid the realities, monotony, and fears of their lives. I find it ironic that they exert their “free will” by doing and believing exactly what their church tells them to do or believe. But hey, whatever gets you through the night. The rest of us drink (where everybody knows our name), or take drugs (Cymbalta? Prozac? Zoloft? Lexapro? Paxil? Elavil? Remeron? Nardil? Wellbutrin? Effexor anyone?), spend a little too much time at the gym (and insist it’s for health benefits), go shopping (credit card debt and mortgage foreclosures are at an all time high, we didn’t get there by spending quiet evenings at home with the family), spend inordinate amounts of time online (thank you, Al Gore, we love the internet), take vacations we really can’t afford (hey, we all need a break, so what if it takes five years to pay for it? Enjoy it while you’re young!), stick our noses in books (can you really read too much?!) watch television we know is bad and don’t really even like that much…

American Idol, yes, that’s a pop culture phenomenon. Well. Depending on which definition of phenomenon you want to use. If you use the “an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition” then yes, it’s a phenomenon. It relies solely on sensory response. What the viewers hear and see on the screen before them, and why they tune in two or three nights a week, season after season, has little to do with logic or cognitive intelligence apart from the senses. Someone sings badly or looks “funny,” the judges scoff, criticize and make fun of them, further stimulating the viewers’ ears and eyes, viewers laugh. It’s very basic, low maintenance, little effort entertainment. There isn’t a lot a gray matter involved in any aspect of American Idol. It’s a cheaply packaged, heavily marketed insult to intelligence and swindle on the music listening public. So the fact that it has endured several seasons is a phenomenon. There’s no noumenon aspect to it whatsoever. It’s cheap, formulaic, rudimentary and forgettable. (Quick! Who won third season?! If you are proud to assuredly shout out the correct response in seconds without the aid of Google you are at the wrong blog.) Oh sure, I can see the guilty pleasure aspect of it, I can see the “eh, there’s nothing else on and I had a really rough day at work” aspect to it, I can even see the “wow, he/she is really cute” aspect to it. But we’re not talking culture. We’re not talking insight. We’re not talking about anything we can relate to on any significant level. (Unless you are a future Idol hopeful, in which case I suggest you do a lot more than study the weekly episodes.) It’s throw-away entertainment, trash television. And that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that. Hey, I’ve been known to watch Gilligan’s Island. Trash television does serve a legitimate purpose. We can’t be all intelligent and insightful all the time.

What’s disturbing about American Idol is that people, many, many people, take it very seriously. And not only do they take it seriously, they think it’s real. They believe in it. They spend the money to call or text in their votes week after week. And these are not innocent children. Many adults buy into it and love it. Think it's harmless entertainment. Lemmings.

Lambs to the slaughter.

Historically a new century is a little shaky on its legs for the first few years and then big things start happening. Innovations, politics (revolts, overthrows, wars), cultural renaissances and the like get into full swing. So sure, when it debuted in the early ‘00s, Idol and all its global iterations was “typical” new century, not sure what the heck is going on here entertainment. In other words: Vaudeville.

Vaudeville had its place and laid a foundation for better things to come. (Insert dissertation on the popularity of The Three Stooges and the decline of Western civilization here) But it’s now 2008, people! C’mon! The lethargy from the hangover of the ‘80s is no longer a valid excuse. Culture is lacking. Big time. Our zeitgeist called and it wants us to do somethinig.

For the purpose of this blog we’ll call culture art, literature, music, movies, theatre, dance and food. I do firmly believe politics and religion are cultural, as well, but I’ll save that for another day or a five volume book. I included food because food has become a form of entertainment, elevated (or demoted, depending on your point of view) to something much more than nutrition to keep our bodies working.

There’s a good book on this very topic by Joe Queenan. Published in 1999, Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon is a good starting point for the study of the dumbing down and numbing of minds in terms of culture in “our” time. It was an apt and telling look at culture in the post-‘80s confusion and hangover.

I laughed when I read it, knowingly, sadly and sometimes guiltily. I remember thinking it was a good summarization of the end of the 20th century. I tucked it away and thought it would be funny to look back and re-read it ten years later. I remember thinking surely things would change for the better in the coming years of the new century. I predicted I would get a kick out of reading about the woeful state of zeitgeist in the '90s written by as a lament against that very zeitgeist.

I cheated. I didn’t wait for ’09. I picked it up again last weekend.

I was so, so, so wrong back in 1999. And American Idol embodies all of what’s wrong and all the ways I was wrong.

Back in '99 I gave “us” too much credit. I relied on history to salve my fears and concerns about the state of the world, culture, and life in general. I thought surely, as in the past, the new century would bring changes - exciting, maybe sometimes scary or weird, but changes.

Heck, I thought my own life would bring changes. I'd met a great guy and I was falling very deeply in love. I didn't know it then but I was on the brink of being egaged and planning a life and future with the man I trusted, loved, liked and thought would always be there for me and with me. I was generally happy with the direction my life was taking.

And now here I am. My personal life story mirrors society's and culture's story: Things looked promising, it seemed like we were smart and moving forward, the future didn't look ridiculously wonderful, but it didn't look bad, either. It seemed like we were finally getting a grip on reality and were dealing with it and even having a few laughs about it. And yet, here we are. 2008. My life has changed very little for the better and a lot for the worse. Ditto society or culture.

And yes, the century is young.

Yes, it’s unfair to judge the century when we’re only eight years into it. But. Um. In case you haven’t noticed, things aren’t really “happening” out there in the world.

Obviously the biggest issue this century is 9/11 and the subsequent political weirdness. (Bush, Iraq) Yes. I’ll grant us that. 9/11 was a hard punch in our collective gut. I’ll cut us a lot of slack for ’01 and ’02. Looking back, I can suspend my personal music tastes for a minute and theorize about the advent of American Idol in 2002 and why it was so popular. It had a ‘90s kind of cultural diversity/melting pot quality. They were a nice group of diverse kids, but none of them were “too” diverse. There was something for everyone, but none of them were too much of anything. They were safe, edgeless. They played in Peoria and in East LA. They were as generic as the pop songs they were given to sing each week. They were non-threatening. The biggest threat to our fragile and sensitive hearts was Simon Cowell and his scripted, badly delivered criticisms. Which could explain why “pathetic” seemed like such harsh and shocking criticism to off-key warbling.

That was then. This is now. Bush is in his second term, Hussein is gone but the murder continues in Iraq, no one seems to be concerned about North Korea. Political life goes on and on and on. Are we so caught up in the monotony of nothing changing that we aren’t demanding more from our culture? Surely “we” are not happy with the political landscape, continued death toll and apathy toward real threats.

I know, I know. We’re just little citizens, we can’t change the world. True enough in a lot of respects. But. Not at all true in others. Believe me. If no one tuned into American Idol for just two weeks, FOX would axe it faster than you can say Greg the Bunny. We can’t change the world, but we can change the channel. We can create something new and different.

For crying out loud, Castro, Fidel swutting Castro, stepped down, willingly, from his dictatorship in Cuba. Um. Things are happening. It’s time to move on with our culture. Where are our Impressionists, Surrealists, DaDaists, Expressionists? Where is our Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino? Where are the Scot Fitzgeralds, the Gertrude Steins? The Rachmaninoffs, Debussys, Ravels? Heck, I’d settle for a Gerswhin. Maybe the century is too young to judge. It’s too soon to tell. It’s only 2008, give it a chance, right? Well, yes, right.

But. What’s emerging in culture? I don’t see much. And I’m “out there.” I go to live concerts and hear the new bands. I go to galleries and see the new artists. I read. A lot. I watch so many movies my mailman has a special place in his bag for my Netflix deliveries. I try new restaurants.

And what do I see, hear and taste? A lot of safe, edgeless corporate backed generia.

I don’t know why. But I know it bothers me. And it explains the continuing success of American Idol. Maybe it’s a new, higher breed of existentialism. Maybe we’re so apathetic and tired and in an anti-depressant stupor that we just gave up and accepted our generic corporate sponsored fate. Rent Idiocracy for this century’s answer to Orwell’s 1984. The truth is out there but very few people realize it pertains to them. American Idol seems harmless, but what it’s doing to society as a whole, in terms of disposable “culture” and the over marketed mind-numbing of society is cause for concern.

And yet, if you tune into FOX on a Sunday night when there’s not a NASCAR race or football game, you’ll find a safe oasis in the cultural desert. If the writers of The Simpsons can not only do it, but keep it on the air successfully for 20 years, there must be other people out there who can do it, too.

But who…who has the insight and the ability to reach a global audience…who can get past the corporate sponsors and small minded, bottom line watching producers, agents and publicists? Who can prevail without marketing or media spin? Who? Who can do this? We are here, we are out there, but we’re not represented.

Well, not so fast with the decline of humanity.

There is one thing I forgot to mention.







Blogging, baby, blogging.

Blogging is the cultural renaissance of the 21st century. Well, at least thus-far. It’s all we have to show for ourselves. And frankly, the quality of blogging is declining. We need to inject some new life into it or it, too, will soon become an American Idol generic vehicle for corporate sponsors and marketing.

Right now, blogging is power to the people. But sadly, a lot of blogs, perhaps even some you read, are “sold out” to sponsors. I have never pimped out this blog and I never will. Sure, I could use AdSense, I could make a few pennies for click throughs, but I’m not doing it for money. I still have no idea why I do this, but, I know for certain it’s not for money. I’m in marketing for crying out loud, if I wanted to make money on a blog I could. I think. I mean, I hope I could. But. I’m not quite desperate enough to sell all my ethics, morals and principles. And words. And thoughts. The second a blogger opts to make a penny via their blog, is the second they sell out. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I mean, sometimes there’s honest public service involved. And yes, I link to books, and music, and art, and movies. And maybe some of you even buy my recommendations. So yes, just “as bad” in terms of marketing. But. I’m not making any money on it. It’s simply one friend telling another about a book or band or artist. It’s true independent press. And that’s really cool. And that’s about all we have going for us thus far this century. And that's why, even though my medical bills are staggering and at my current rate of repayment won't be paid until 2012, I won't pimp out the blog. Rest assured. There are no sponsors, agents or producers here.

But even blogging and corporate sponsored blogging has me concerned. There are official American Idol blogs on the FOX website, but all The Simpsons have is an email newsletter. D’oh.

I’m a history buff and a sociology dork. So this will come as no surprise to anyone. I like to look at vintage advertising. Sure, it’s good for a laugh, the novelty aspect of times gone by can be very humorous. When you look at turn of the 20th century advertising you’ll see a lot of dubious products which fall into the category of snake oil.

Do I think everyone was so naïve back then that everyone bought these products? No. And I hope 100 years from now people don’t think that I, and everyone else, believed what they saw and heard on infomercials and bought the products. The same was true then as it is now: If a product is good all you need is a little brand awareness to nudge a segment of the population into plunking down money for it. And under the umbrella of brand awareness and target market grew the concept of image and branding. Some of this is simple logic: You’re not going to sell hair growth tonic by using a bald spokesman. But there’s a bud of a deeper message which came into full bloom in just a few years. Image. Those lovely Coca-Cola Gibson Girls and the beguiling Maxfield Parrish beauties on GE calendars were selling a fantasy, a stylized image which suggested that these products were used by these lovelies and if you are, or want to be, lovely, too, surely you will buy into this product and be part of the fantasy.

Okay, that’s an easy concept in marketing. And it’s interesting to look back on those days and read and see what was popular, what was held up as important, socially significant. You know what you see advertised back then? A lot of highly stylized illustrations of beautiful people hawking products which will make the buyer more beautiful. Times haven’t changed that much. It’s all about image and beauty. Or so the advertising of the day would have us believe. They didn’t have television back then, so, there were no “reality” shows. And no Jerry Springer or Maury Povich to serve as an ode to the common man. Or woman. Unfortunately we are leaving that legacy to future generations. They will be able to look at more than print advertising for a peek into our life and times. And we’re leaving them American Idol. Do you want your grandchildren to think you watched and listened to that pabulum? Do you want them to assume you voted for your favorite Idol? Do you want them to think you liked Ryan Seacrest? No? Feeling helpless about this?

You’re not. Thanks to Al Gore and modern life, you have a tool. Blog. Blog to your heart’s content. Blog your brains out. Let’s look at it another way. American Idol = bourgeois. Blogging = a voice against mainstream fodder, the bourgeois. You can sit back in an existentialist funk, or a anti-depressant haze, or credit card shopping frenzy, or, you can blog.

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