So I am hanging in Toronto this weekend to visit a friend. She is one of my closest friends—we have known each other for over a decade. Oddly, we met over the Internet. She’s an actor; I visited her fan website for a school assignment and in time, a friendship grew out of our cyber-interaction.

I met quite a few people from this same online community and we have all become very close friends. Not only have we continued our friendships online throughout the years but we have also met offline in several forms, one gathering during a weekend of debauchery in Vegas.

It’s been exciting having these relationships, as we are all so different. While several of us are from the states, there is a woman from South America, one from Australia and quite a few Europeans.

I like that the Internet has helped encourage such diversity by way of relationships. I don’t know that I would have had the opportunity to do some of the things I have done and I certainly would not have met some of the fantastic people I have met if it weren’t for online opportunities.

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We tend to have an image in our minds of people that interact online are all gamers, mostly male, hiding in their basement amongst bags of cheetos and cans of Dr. Pepper.

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(This certainly does not define me; I am not a gamer, nor do I even like Dr. Pepper. Though I have had a cheeto or several in my lifetime.)

Where might this stereotype come from? At what point in our collective ideology was the Internet user constructed as anti-social?

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I open this post with an anecdote about the relationships I have formed to offer an example of how I believe cyberspace actually helps encourage social interaction among people, not limit it. It opens our world to a much bigger space and often helps us understand diversity with the vast access to people different from us, outside our geophysical neighborhoods.

So what do you think? Do you think the Internet has made us socially awkward, as many scholars will argue? Have you met people and formed relationships online with people that you have never met in “real life”? What might the implication be to limit our space to only physical interactions?

Dodge

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I tend to get wrapped up in late night Internet surfing. One of my distractions this past summer was pranks. You cannot believe how many people do nasty, vindictive things to their roommates, family members or significant others and then upload them to YouTube for all to see. And you cannot believe how funny I find them.

I feel bad, just a bit bad, about how much I love watching these pranks. Because for the most part, they are dangerous and people get hurt.

But wow, are these people clever!

It makes me wonder how many of these pranks would exist if it weren’t for the possibility of venues such as YouTube. I mean, I am sure that people have pulling pranks on each other for centuries but how much does a user-friendly digital platform encourage people to do really stupid things to each other?

Dove – Evolution

iWanex Studio, Photo Retouching

Sexism, Strength and Dominance: Masculinity in Disney Films

This was my first record player.

RecordPlayer

It was from Fisher-Price and it played pre-formatted plastic “records” that sounded like tin. I loved it. The sound didn’t bother me as I had the freedom to play my music (all children’s nursery rhymes) when I wanted to hear it.

My mother bought me a real record player a few years later at a garage sale. This is the first album I ever bought:

Saturday-Night-Fever

OK. Stop laughing. I was 10. Disco—and this movie—was hugely popular at the time. I must have listened to that album a million times. Though I have to admit, with older siblings, my tastes quickly moved from The Bee Gees and into more sophisticated music:

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This is the first CD I ever bought:

KateBush

It was 1989 and I remember it very clearly. I eagerly anticipated the release of this CD, having been a Kate Bush fan through much of high school. At the time, music was still easily available to purchase in album form and indeed, I had the album Hounds of Love, her 1985 release.

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While I can remember my first album and CD, I cannot, for the life of me, remember my first cassette tape. Which is odd since I was in high school in the 80s which means that overall, I did most of my music listening on this:

sony-walkman

I note the historical ride through my instruments of music listening because now, I listen to music on this:

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And this:

macbook_pro_late_2008

(OK, I admit that my MacBook is not nearly as new as this one but I am thinking Field of Dreams here: “If you build it, they will come.” If I post a pic of a new MacBook Pro, perhaps one will miraculously arrive on my desk overnight.)

As my listening pleasure has become a digital event, I realize that it is time to do something about the 7 boxes of unpacked CDs that have been sitting on my office floor since I moved here a year ago. Most of them are already ripped to my hard drive but I expect that once I actually open these boxes, I will find CDs I completely forgot about and it will feel as if I have a whole mess of new music.

I have prolonged this transfer of technology, however, because I think it will be very much like the way I felt when I made the leap from cassette to CD: as much as I loved the streamline of the CD and the larger format to read things such as liner notes and lyrics, there was something about that click of the cassette case, the smell of the tape, the need of the pencil to rewind the loose cartridge that I was going to miss.

And once I make that transfer away from CDs completely, I only have the digital version of “album art” which is small and not nearly as interesting as it was in the past. I am certainly a true believer in the betterment of our lives with new technologies and I support digital music otherwise I would not interact with it. But I will be melancholy when I sell those old CDs to a used CD store, especially Kate Bush’s The Sensual World. Just memories of the week I bought it and played it non-stop are special to my young adulthood.

What technology have you given up to move into newer forms? Are you sad to see it go?

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People of WalMart

I am a freak for Jaws. No matter how many times I have seen it, I am all over wtching it again. I mean, how can you NOT love Richard Dryfuss? and don’t even get me started on Quint. I have never seen a better drunk on film. I had to be about 9 when I saw it–in the movie theatre. I was terrified. Peed my bed that night. really.

Ithe film made me a fan of Roy Scheider–I have since seen all his films. but none of his flicks can comapre to his famous line: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

omg. has there every been a more bad-ass famous line in film history?

and might I mention….the credit closing in House is from a line in Jaws.

Seriously. see folks, it always, always comes back to House.

As I sit here composing this weekend’s blog entry, I am very much aware that I am a mere four hours from the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

And I am very, very excited about that.

I am a sucker for the VMA’s. They are and always have been a twist to the average award shows and I have never once been disappointed. Like most from my generation, I felt the impact that the VMA’s had on our popular culture as I watched Madonna pull off the first and best edgy performance at any VMA:

1984: Madonna, Like a Virgin

This was huge when the show first aired. Remember, this is pre-Internet—if you missed the VMA’s running that weekend, you had to wait for the rerun whenever MTV decided to air it as there was no YouTube to run to. And MTV didn’t run the repeat directly after the original show as they do now.

Monday in school found us all struggling to concentrate; everyone was talking about how scandalous Madonna was and a good half of the student population at my high school didn’t even have cable TV yet so a lot of people never even got to see it. When they started running the video of her performance, I—like most girls at the time—was glued. What? A wedding dress? Singing about being a virgin? OMG.

Once Madonna’s performance aired, everything changed. Live acts at the VMA’s become the hottest anticipated moments in music. I could fill a blog with all the performances that are stand-outs (which you can easily view with a good search on YouTube). These are some of my favorites, based on my excitement level when I first saw the performances air:

1988: Guns N’ Roses, Welcome to the Jungle

1992: Nirvana, Lithium

1999: Fatboy Slim, Praise You

2002: Eminem, White America and Cleanin’ Out My Closet

2003: Coldplay, The Scientist

But no one—no one—can top the Queen of the VMA’s: Britney. Madonna may make better videos (Express Yourself, anyone? Wow.) but Britney is the Queen of VMA live performances:

2000: Britney, Oops…I Did it Again

2001: Britney, I’m a Slave 4 U:

and of course:

2003: Britney, Madonna and Christina Aguilera:

She just rules that VMA stage, lip-synching and all. I’m really excited to see what Britney does tonight. I know she is touring and all, but I have a hard time believing Britney will miss tonight’s show. If anything, to get us past last year’s performance of Gimme More. Which I will not post here. Because in my mind, it never happened.

Yeah I know you are probably thinking this:

earworm

But that is not the type of earworm I have. I have this type. Yep, that song that sticks in your head continuously that you cannot possibly get rid of. And because I am prone to traits of OCD, I really own a persistent little bastard.

Unlike most people with earworms, they get a song stuck in their head and then its there until replaced by another song. Not me. I get an earworm and it is in there for days. Months. Years.

I went through most of my high school years with my earworm singing John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” (of course, at the time, he was Johnny Cougar. This was before he became John Cougar Mellencamp and his current manifestation of John Mellencamp. See, you all thought P Diddy was original in the name changing silliness). Here is that song, if you don’t recognize it:

In art school, I spent years with this little gem by The Cure, “Friday (I’m in Love)”:

Not a bad song but when you wake yourself up singing it every day—for years—it becomes bothersome. Somewhere in the late 90s, I got Will Smith feeding my earworm:

can it get any more embarrassing? That earworm loves to just burrow down deep inside my brain and make me totally miserable.

Then miraculously, some time last year my earworm finally decided to venture into something current. And behold: Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”:

Not a bad song. Quirky. And at least I was within range for a decent song.

And then this week, a new earworm has taken root. Yes, I am going to admit here what it is. Because I am both in awe and shock that this song is waking me from mid-slumber and it actually has me dancing around my office when I get it in my head.

I—and my earworm—love, love, love Miley Cyrus’ new song, “Party in the USA”. Cannot get enough of it.

How about you? Any earworms that you simply cannot get rid of? What is digging inside your head?