Thursday, December 31, 2009

2000-2009, we hardly knew ya!

I planned to do a "best of the oughties" but found it complicated by the fact that there are years in the oughties when I didn't read a new book, others where I didn't see a new film, and others where I didn't buy a new album. I've overcome that, though. Instead of a list of the best each medium, I'll do "what I put all my money and energy into each year".


It was all about online for me. The last decade began with the shift of emphasis from Majordomo Lists and Usenet to Yahoo! Groups in 1999. At that time I was deeply immersed in herping (keeping reptiles) and Star Wars. Yahoo Groups was a perfect refuge for those of us leaving the old style internet and applying the social networking made available on the world wide web. Teh Internets had arrived.

Jimmy and Grumpy, December 2009

I had four young iguanas, and my interests centered largely around how to keep them healthy. Controversy, arguments and bitter pre-www partisanship prevailed. My posts were filled with guff on the Linnaean classification of kale versus collard, metabolic bone disease, calcium metabolism, UV light and vitamin D3 production. But I also wrote this message in June 1999 (to a new Yahoo group which had extracted itself from Usenet (rec.pets.herps) for privacy):

I usually get these crushes on movie stars in August. It's always somebody totally inappropriate and hopeless. Mad Max, The Mariner from Waterworld, Snake Plissken, and like that. (Oh - and Krycek from The X-Files.) Anyway, this year has been different, since I managed to start out with The Matrix only a few weeks ago.

Yeah, Bad Guys and iguanas. That's where I was, going into the decade.

2000: Phantom Menace Fandom.

Boy, did I make a lot of online friends in Star Wars fandom. Some of them are still with me today.

I loved Darth Maul (bad guy!) in The Phantom Menace and joined groups, including the famous DMEB, to read fanfic and post pictures. In January 2000, someone joined one group claiming to be Darth Maul and of course we internet types, as we do, played along, asking for more details of his Sithliness and claiming undying apprenticeship. Eventually, Darth Maul, with a flourish, revealed he was actually a human! A student who was overjoyed that he'd fooled us and we'd written him love poems! And what's more, he was going to tell the other students what gullible fools we were! A DMEBer wrote me to ask what she should do in the face of this betrayal. I said, What can he say? "I went to a website dedicated to dreaming about X, I pretended I was X and they asked me to carry on doing it?" BFD. The world will fail to beat a path to his feet. His audience will break out in spontaneous snoozing."

He's probably a grown man, now. I wonder if he's still a dick?

Darth Maul, bad guy.

2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Can't remember a damn thing about 2001 so HPSS wins hands down. I remember wondering why it wasn't Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The British book, the original, had "Philosopher" in the title. The American edition went with "Sorcerer", which, apart from being nonsensical (what is a sorcerer's stone?) also helped incite a horde of crazies into believing Harry Potter was a primer for Satanism. For the movie, they went with the divisive sorcerer. Go figure.

2002: Attack of the Clones

Yeah, Star Wars! I bought the action figures. Also got into Ewan McGregor fandom a little bit. Watched Pillow Book. Adored Velvet Goldmine. But I still loved the bad guys. Loved Anakin (bad guy), even with the whining (like son, like father) and the bad dialogue he was forced to recite.

2003: The Little Grey Fella (MP3 player)

Jason Isaacs fandom entered my heart. The star of The Patriot, the star of Peter Pan. I joined half a dozen of his fan lists, mostly on Yahoo. Colonel Tavington was popular, and so was Captain Hook.

Captain Hook, bad guy. This is one of Char's; I didn't color it. Or mask and desaturate, more likely.

STB offered to buy me an MP3 player and I remember saying something like, "Why? When was the last time you heard me play music?" But for Christmas 2003, I was given The Little Grey Fella, which weighed about a pound and held about 5000 of my digitized CD tracks. I started listening to music again. LGF went everywhere with me. In the car, where one would normally have like three CDs and not want to play any of them, you now had all your music. Listen to one track and it makes you want to play another. Yahoo groups, with its iguanas and Star Wars and Jason Isaacs – started to shrink about this time and music went into the ascendancy. A coincidence, I'm sure. The herper group started with 800 posts per month in 1999 to 2003. Now it's down to 20 per month. Facebook is given as the reason for the fall-off. Everyone's still chatting, just not chatting with me as I didn't make the move over. The Iguana List, moved from Liza Daly's iguana mailing list (a Majordomo list) to Yahoo Groups in 1999 started out at 2,000 posts per month for a couple of years. Now it's down to less than 50. I joined Sith Chicks in August 2005, when it was still fairly active. There's hardly a single post there now. I suppose because after 2005, there were no more Star Wars films!

2004: Photoshop

I learned Photoshop. It works like a darkroom, with layers and masks and dodge and burn and if you haven't done that 4rlz, it's all foreign. The way it handles each pixel is pure maths, too, so to learn the non-darkroom tools like channels you need to understand things about color only people who make monitors ought to have to know. After maybe 100 hands-on hours it starts to make sense. But you're still limited to photomanip unless you can draw, which I can't. If only Photoshop was the magic trick people seem to think it is.

2005: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter fanfiction was really taking off now. And man, was some of that ill shit. I'm English, where pretty much all of literature is about, or at least predicated on, public schoolboys getting off with each other so the slash was no surprise. But I wasn't prepared for the outpouring of psychopathy this series brought out. Well written, though. The huge pile of Harry/Draco fics overwhelmed me. They hate each other and want to kill each other and they love each other. There are a thousand ways to write that, and HP fanficcers wrote 100,000 of them. I preferred the adult Malfoy, played, of course, by Jason Isaacs. I do love the bad guys – I've mentioned that.

2005 was also the first time we started getting good data about UV bulbs for our iguanas. Arguments about UVB and secondary nutritional hypoparathyroidism began to abate for the first time since the (Jurassic Park-inspired) iguana keeping craze began. (Iguana care)

2006: YouTube

I discovered YouTube, created the previous year. Suddenly, I could find music like the Pretty Things online. On video. This changed my habits as much as the Little Grey Feller had.

I also heard about Led Zeppelin fanfiction for the first time. Real Person Fiction? Was that ethical? It was about people and events thirty years in the past. Okay. I gave in. Not that much difference between the young Jimmy Page and the young Darth Vader. Oh, and there was Battlestar Galactica. And I started this blog.

2007: Planet Zeppelin

Coincidentally, I joined a Led Zeppelin fan club just a couple of months before Led Zeppelin announced their reunion concert on 09/12 (held on 12/07). This brought a lot of new people and new fun to my life. I also joined LiveJournal, the premier fandom networking site. Kinda late. LJ is old media. I saw Robert Plant at the Green Man in August. I didn't know the person squashed next to me, arms on the stage, at the Green Man was a PZ member who would turn out to be a fast online friend once we triangulated our relative positions in an online chat and realized we had been crushed into intimacy for a couple of hours the month before.

2008: The Raconteurs

I spent most of 2008 on Led Zeppelin boots. I have over a hundred live concerts, now. I used to think of a concert as something that existed for you only, and was supposed to be ephemeral and something only the attendee could legitimately own. After a dozen bootlegs, I was listening to them just as recordings. I feel I've lost something fundamental there, but I've certainly gained something else. In a way, it's only a small hop from the 78 to the bootleg. Maybe it's time to put away the 40K year old paradigm, that a performance is just for those who were there.

The Raconteurs, not notably bad guys AFAIK

Even several hundred discs of new Led Zeppelin weren't enough for me, so I asked my LZ friends (I started a Yahoo group of LZ friends in October) what else was out there that was good. That was the first time I'd asked that question in the oughties. A couple of people replied with the usual suspects – which I didn't like – but one person said, try The Raconteurs.

I loved them. I bought both Raconteurs albums almost immediately. "That's Jack White, that is," someone explained. I'd never heard of Jack White, or heard of the White Stripes. A trawl through cyberspace was warranted yet again. Found a lot more music, but funnily enough never really got into the White Stripes. I bought the CDs but they rarely get played.

Jack White, not a known bad guy. I did color this one. It was a multigen jpeg and I emphasized the artifacts.

2009: Dead Weather Posters

I spent a couple of months in 2009 wondering whether I preferred the Kills or the Horrors – but when they played together in LA I couldn't get up the energy to go see them play together. Hadn't been to a show for years (apart from the Green Man). More fool me. In March, The Dead Weather (featuring Jack White and Kills singer Alison Mosshart, among others) debuted at a private party in Nashville. I was all over that. Six weeks later, they played their first gig. I spent the summer chasing after the Dead Weather and, for the first time, collecting posters.

Some of my Dead Weather Posters

Yes, there is Dead Weather fanfic. They are subject to Rule 34 like everything else.

I didn't even bother to go see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I downloaded about 20 live DVDs of bands, though.

New Year Resolution: In 2010 I will try to read a book. I used to like those.


Carroll said...

Ten years, eh? How is that even possible?

You're not missing a thing of value on FB, Lyle (am I remembering that correctly?) How many "urgent updates" does anyone really need about the morning's weather in Boise, what was being eaten for breakfast while all that weather was going on outside the window, and someone's plans to go on in to work after that breakfast is consumed? I tell ya, life's too short. There are books to read, words to write, and music to be listened to.

Onward now into the 'teens, and may the coming decade be good to you and yours!

Peromyscus said...

Happy New Year, Carroll! Nice to hear from you. I'd assumed everyone was having jolly fun on Facebook...nah, actually that's what I suspected is really going on. How is your lizard?

Carroll said...

Funny you should ask about the lizard...we've got today scheduled for her annual Big Adventure. Ornaments are off the tree & top of the tree's getting good sunlight from the clerestory windows, so after her daily visit to the Big Bathtub River, up she'll get to go :-) She's been eagerly eying that thing from her enclosure since the day after Thanksgiving.

As for Facebook, although you've addressed the predicted demise of reading, my personal belief is that FB and Twitter are collectively going to ruin the art of writing. I mean, come on. Anything that passes as "literature" in 140 characters? Give me a break.


(Apparently getting old and crotchety in Cupertino)

Peromyscus said...

I'm glad she's getting some sun and exercise.

Although a lot of morons use FB and Twitter, a lot of non-morons do too, and they are probably getting pretty good at what one article I read called "concision". I thought they'd made that up, but apparently it really is a word. Being able to make sense in 140 characters is like being good at haiku. Look at it that way!

Carroll said...

"Concision", eh? Well now that is indeed a most excellent concept. And I like your spin on the wordplay game theory.

One of my favorite advisees last year was a Math major -- no interest, or skill (so he thought) in writing. But I still remember how his eyes lit up when I drew the connection for him between writing and Math. Finite number of letters to work with -- virtually infinite number of possible combinations -- it's all matter of finding the right "formula" for each assignment. I suspect it's a conversation that kid is likely to remember for his whole life :-)

So, 140 character haikus? Come to think of it, anything that gets people writing, or communicating in any form for that matter, has my support.

Well done, Lyle! :-)

Are your critters all doing OK too?

And why, I am suddenly wondering to myself, are we communicating about all this so extensively in your comments section?

(Doh -- Because it's here!)

Peromyscus said...

"And why, I am suddenly wondering to myself, are we communicating about all this so extensively in your comments section?"

Because I'm not on FaceBook?

Janel said...

I like Facebook a lot. The system of organization is superior to anything I've tried before. It's better than Usenet, Groups, blogs and LJ, in my opinion. The thing that makes it cool is you can network with everybody but just hit 'ignore' on anyone who's being boring. You can still see them if you click on their name, but what shows on your news feed is only the non-boring people. I like it better than Groups because there's no group to either be a member of or not. No more feeling like the oddball, or tangling with someone and "this group ain't big enough for the both of us". Don't like 'em, hit "ignore", that's it. So it's like a customized group of only the people who want to hear what you have to say. Better than RSS because it's more live! The Wall is always interesting. I check it once a day. There's always new pics or funnies or something and it being from people I know makes it interesting. I wouldn't care about a stranger's vacation or new project or quote for the day. True, it might not be a fair comparison because it's the first place I've used my real name and interacted with real family and friends, so that causes a difference. But then I am becoming overall more real of late.

Janel said...

Love that pic of Maul in the t-shirt BTW. It's hard to respect a guy in a white t-shirt.


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