Stevenator65’s Weblog

Technology, Commentary, Opinions, Reviews and Fun Happenings.

What’s Your Rap Name?

Do you like rap music, yo? Word, can you spit out some lyrics? Are you street? Ok, I’m just babbling. I only know two rap songs, Ice Ice Baby and Rapper’s Delight. But I have been watching The White Rapper Show on VH1 (is there nothing better on!) and it got me thinking. First, I am so out of touch with what is cool and hip, and second, the whole rap culture is very similar to the online culture.

I’m a music lover, and I use my gadgets to play music. I remember the pre-disco sound of heavy metal very well. That was a great time. Groups had names, and group members had real names like Robert Plant. It wasn’t until later that some of these members started getting personas instead of names, like Bono, the Edge and Sting. But where heavy metal was about volume and jamming, disco evolved into dancing, togetherness, celebration, and became a countrywide movement. Even Ethel Merman had a disco album. As a Chicagoan, I remember very well the backlash that followed the hedonism of the disco movement in the early 80’s when a couple local DJ’s, who are still working here, marked the end of the era with Disco Demolition Night at the old Comisky Park.

In 1979, a made up group sprang out of the New York music scene with a sound that wasn’t quite rock, and it wasn’t quite disco. It grooved and it funked, it was street and it had a beat, and it wasn’t exclusionary to any type of people, Rapper’s Delight:

I said a hip, a hop, the hippie, the hippie
To the hip hip hop, a you dont stop
The rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
Now what you hear is not a test – I’m rappin to the beat
And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet
Ya see: I am Wonder Mike and I like to say hello
To the black, to the white, the red, and the brown, the purple and yellow
But first I gotta bang bang the boogie to the boogie
Say up jump the boogie to the bang bang boogie
Let’s rock, you don’t stop
Rock the rhythm that will make your body rock
Well, so far you’ve heard my voice but I brought two friends along
And next on the mike is my man Hank:
Come on, Hank, sing that song

Today, rap has gone onto the stratosphere. There are many different types of rap now. But at it’s root is this song, and it’s humble lyrics. More importantly, rap is sung by personas, not groups. These personas become brands, like Snoop Dog, Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, and LLCoolJ.

Log on to an online forum and you’ll see personas as well. Icons, avatars, signatures and quotes costume one’s profile and add to the mystique one builds. Who’s behind the keyboard? Do they have gold teeth? Are they as helpful as they seem or are they after something? Either way, they’re projecting an image. They are selling a version of themselves to you. But that’s just my opinion.

January 19, 2007 Posted by | Opinions | 1 Comment

You Think Your Busy?

My last article referenced the fact that we are leading busier lives than our parents did. We all have utility belts loaded with gadgets. We’re all geeks, or wannabe geeks. And now that the earth has become smaller, we find ourselves traveling to other countries often, and seeing and working with people from other countries. Political correctness is not just an empty phrase, we literally have to live by it to survive and be successful, lest we be known as cavemen.

In fact, that reminds me of a great story, since this week marks the 14th anniversary of my father’s succesful heart bypass surgery. I remember joining my father for his initial appointment with his heart surgeon. My dad is a tough guy, but he was scared. When we met Dr. Saad, he was very professional and we could tell by his demeaner that he was talented and good. We had a nice conversation where he discussed the surgery and finally he wanted to know if we had any questions. My dad is a Jewish man, and this was a major surgery, and he asked, “Dr., are you an Arab?” The Dr. smiled broadly and answered, “Yes.” We all laughed and that broke the tension. Needless to say, everything went well.

So a couple months ago my Synagogue asked me to donate blood for their blood drive. Man, I’m busy. “But it only takes a few minutes and it’s a mitzvah, a good deed.” Of course I’ll do it. I get to the Synagogue and there’s a big bus out there, I knock on the door and they tell me to register inside. I go inside, tell them I’m here, and expect to pull my sleave up. Come on, I’m busy, I have a cell phone, a pda, a laptop and all that stuff. Somebody might call me or something. So they tell me to have a chill and fill out a form. The first one asks if I want to donate $20 to a cause, for which I’ll get roses for Thanksgiving. Ok, fine. Then I have to read a short pamphlet about giving blood. I’m like, hey, I’m doing them a favor and they’re taking all my frikin’ time. What’s up with that? So I read this pamphlet, then I start answering all these questions that were very personal. Have I been in and or lived in the UK? Have I paid for sex? Have I had a tattoo or piercing?

This was a serious questionaire! They weren’t screwing around. I started thinking about what kind of blood I would want if I were in trauma. Perhaps these questions weren’t so bad after all. Now, the funny thing is, I had just gotten my ear pierced. My middle daughter was scared to do it, so daddy showed her how easy it is, then she did it. I’ve since taken it out, but it was kinda fun to have an earing for a couple months. The nurse wanted to make sure I got it done professionally. She took my pulse and blood pressure. Everything checked out. Finally I was ready to donate. The donation took less than 10 minutes. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. Now Lifesource calls me every 8 weeks to donate. And I do. I’m not that busy anymore. That’s just my opinion.

January 17, 2007 Posted by | Opinions | Leave a comment

I Love the 70’s

I grew up in the 70’s. None of the moms worked. The dads all made enough money, it seemed, for everyone to live comfortably. We didn’t have wifi. In fact, the first computer I used was actually a punch card type. I think it was around 1973, in 3rd grade. We would punch cards to do simple math problems, turn them into our teachers, and get the results back two weeks later. If you made a mistake you were out of luck.

We were one of the first to get a vcr around 1978, and the first in our neighborhood to get a microwave, around the same time. But none of us kids had graphing calculators! We actually had to do algebra and calculus problems by hand. The early 80’s really changed our neighborhood just as I started high school. All of a sudden our local fast food establishments saw competition from national chains like Burger King and McDonalds. They had drive throughs, and we had limited lunch hours. Speed was becoming an issue in our lives.

Now we have all the modern conveniences, don’t we? My wife’s plain minivan has more power than any Cadillac made in the 1980’s. We have cell phones, lap tops, pdas, ipods, graphing calculators, push email, console games, information at your beck and call, drive throughs on every corner, Starbucks, 24 hour groceries, 24 hour workout clubs, online dating, online banking, ebay. I don’t have to leave my house to have groceries delivered with peapod, I can join forums and pretend I’m someone I’m not, you can do research in seconds where you once actually had to go to a library!

But you know what? With all those conveniences, we just cram more activities into one day! When I drive in the minivan with my family, my wife’s on the cell making plans, one kid’s watching a movie, one’s playing video games and one is sucking his fingers and playing with his woobie. And driving. That’s my opinion.

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Opinions | Leave a comment

Blue Light Special

I can’t tell if people are talking to me, themselves or to someone on their bluetooth headpiece. Sometimes I’m looking right at someone, talking to them, and I think they’re answering me, then they give me the “hold on” signal with their hands. What do I have to do to talk to them, call them?

And why are these funky blue lights flashing on these devices! Is something on sale? “Attention all shoppers, Toasters Ovens are now $19.99 in aisle 6. Irv, there’s a cleanup in Automotive.” Can someone turn those lights down? If you see one of those headsets in the dark it’ll scare you. You ever drive home at night and see someone wearing one of those out of the corner of your eye? That’ll wake you up real quick. Looks just like police lights!

What’s the deal with wearing one of those headpieces all day long? You sure don’t look like a cyborg. I say Bluetooth headpieces are the 80’s Power-Ties of today. Yup. In the 80’s the business status symbol was the striped power tie and suspenders (if you were new to the craze you wore a belt, too). Today it’s the Treo and the bluetooth headpiece. The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s my opinion.

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Opinions | Leave a comment