Friday, September 30, 2011

Trip to the Dade Battlefield State Park

Thursday I finally visited the Dade Battlefield State Park. Although I have passed it dozens of times, I never had the chance to stop by.

While I visited I brought my video camera and recorded my walking tour of the park. Feel free to check out the video.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buckethead at State Theater in St Petersburg, Florida 9/22/2011

I've been a big Buckethead fan for over 10 years. After being introduced to Buckethead by my friend Shelbs who was and probably still is a huge Primus fan, I bought Buckethead's Colma album.

After Colma, I picked up Buckethead's Monsters and Robots, then I dipped into the guitar great's back catalog and have been following along since.

I discovered Buckethead was not only a guitar virtuoso, but also one of the most creative musicians out there.

As the years past, Buckethead crept up my list of guitar greats I had yet to see.

I've seen Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Dimedag Darrell, Alexi Lahio, and Magic Red, but never saw Buckethead.

Finally, on September 22, 2011 at State Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida, I had the chance to finally see the bucketed one live. And outside of two minor complaints, he didn't disappoint.

Seeing Buckethead is visual experience as well as a musical treat. After his stage was prepared by a dreded tech in a hospital mask, Buckethead took the stage with his trademark KFC bucket on his head and dressed in black. Immediately he started his guitar wizardry with his fingers flying up and down the fret board. I'll admit, I am not good at memorizing the titles of instrumental songs, but I recognized a few songs from his classics Monsters and Robots and Giant Robot.

Buckethead is also part Carrot Top in his show. The dreded tech placed several toys on Buckethead's amp and speakers for the guitarist to play with during the show. These included a hand-held distorting mirror (like those in an amusement park House of Mirrors), a toy chainsaw, and of course Buckethead's nunchucks.

Seeing Buckethead whip his nunchucks to and fro was a treat I looked forward to. As was seeing Bucket put down the guitar and dance like a robot on stage. These are things Buckethead is known for. Of  course all the while he kept his bucket and Michael Myers mask in place.

Halfway through the performance the theme song from the movie Space Jam played and Buckethead walked to the front of the stage with a big blue bag. He reached in the bag and started handing out toys to the fans. Buckethead gave out Halloween masks, Star Wars toys, action figures, and other assorted goodies.

I guess that shouldn't be that unusual considering Buckethead has a song called "Buckethead's Toy Store", he runs his own "abusement" park, and he is the friend of children everywhere.

I was surprised however when the toy giveaway turned into a toy exchange and fans gave Buckethead gifts as well. If Buckethead saw something he liked, he simply traded toys with the fan.

Speaking of Star Wars, Buckethead is a huge Star Wars fan. As of course, I am. Needless to say, when he played the Star Wars theme song and the Imperial March, I got goosebumps. For real.

One of the strangest things about a Buckethead concert is seeing an artist that looks completely emotionless. That's his schtick and being a big fan, I get it. But to not see an artist smile, laugh, or talk on stage is an interesting phenomenon. The emotion of the show comes strictly from his music or the crowd.

This lack of emotion is part of one of my complaints. The show was only and hour and 45 minutes long. That's it. Granted, I'm not sure even I could have withstood three hours of guitar shredding, but not even two hours? It went by quick. And when he was done, Buckethead simply walked off stage. No bow, no cheering the fans, no thank yous. He just walked off as if his programing was finished and he had something else to do.

My other small gripe: Buckethead's t-shirt selection was awfully small. There was only one t-shirt for sale. And not only did it not have the tour dates on it, but it was an ugly white design.

Oh well, I guess that's another reason for me to visit Buckethead's Toy Store. I hope they have a clothing department.

Here is a video a fan took of Buckethead's performance Thursday night.

It might seem hypocritical for me to post this video and then complain, but I'll have an opinion piece soon on the absolute annoying trend of people who hold their phones up to video record entire concerts. You can enjoy the music without being a cinematographer. Trust me, it's possible.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Interview with Sam Ford on Social Media and Pro Wrestling

(This post was originally posted at The Wrestling Blog.)

Last year I was able to exchange emails with Sam Ford, Director of Digital Strategy at Peppercom and co-editor of The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era. Sam is also a huge wrestling fan who has written about storytelling in wrestling and even made an appearance on the Dave Lagana podcast. Sam was cool with me posting our social media-based interview here. Even though we talked in October 2010, many of these points are still very relevant, especially in the indy scene.

- How has new online media channels changed the process for independent wrestling promoters?

Sam Ford: I think social media has provided more opportunities to change the process for independent wrestling promoters than they have often picked up on. #1, the ability to tell stories between live shows now makes it possible to build feuds--and interest in shows--beyond just posters. Build up the matches beforehand. Increase the drama of the story between shows through featuring news and interviews on the site, etc. #2, the ability to connect various live shows together in a common narrative is now possible as well. As a regional promoter travels across cities in an area, online media channels actually gives him/her the opportunity to connect the events at each show to build an ongoing narrative. People may not be able to go to a live show three hours away, but what happens at that show can be woven into the storylines now. And, for more ardent fans, you might encourage them to more faithfully follow your promotion around from town to town.

- Is social media essential? Or can promoters get by with only traditional media?

Sam Ford: Social media isn't essential. Pro wrestling can still draw crowds through a promotional poster at the local grocery store. The issue is that traditional media makes it a new selling proposition each time. It's hard to gain and maintain regular ardent fans through the poster. A website and presence for the promotion acts in lieu of a local television show. Since most promoters can't afford or don't have the option of a weekly TV show for their region these days, the website offers that regular promotional vehicle to keep the promotion and its characters top-of-mind and to encourage people to plan for and anticipate the next time the promotion comes to town.

- How important is establishing/maintaining a community of fans for a promotion?

Sam Ford: It's always been important to maintain a community of fans for local wrestling to thrive. Local shows survive in part because it gives an excuse for wrestling fans to come together and see one another and participate communally in something they love: cheering their heroes, and booing their villains. Online tools just give us a chance to maintain community across multiple cities, to keep people connected between shows, etc.--especially important if the promotion's shows don't happen on a frequent basis at the same time and the same place each time.

- What is the biggest difference in how a promoter would use social media as compared to a wrestler?

Sam Ford: The promoter's focus is on his promotion and the storylines of his show. The promoter is going to be using social media to build a following for their character across all their appearances for multiple promotions. The key is for the promoter to come up with ideas that serves the wrestlers' goals of self-promotion while also building stories online. Getting talent to participate in online storylines, etc., can be accomplished by the promoter being sure to have permission to build stories themselves or to give tangible benefit to talent as to how helping build up a feud online will lead to greater ticket sales, a deeper following for their character, etc.

- What is the single most important tool a promoter can/should use to get the word out about his show?

Sam Ford: I think it has to do with networking with fan sites, etc., and doing something that goes beyond announcing a list of matches and results from a card. No matter what platform you use, how do you tell a story that compels people to come join you in person?

- What are some of the more creative endeavors you have seen in regards to promotions using social media?

Sam Ford: Because WWE has such a media machine behind them, we've seen them build storylines through their website and elsewhere in the past. But they haven't even taken great advantage. I have seen indy promotions have wrestlers/personalities bicker with each other in fan boards and elsewhere, start or further feuds with announcements on their site--special interviews--etc., that allow the storylines to go much deeper than a spot show can.

- What are your thoughts on continuing storylines through social media?

Sam Ford: I think it will be a real difference-maker for promoters once they get used to it, learn to do it well, and condition fans to look for it. The key is to build references to this online content into the show itself in order to drive fans back to the web to keep up with it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Light bulb jokes

As part of my training to be the next great comic genius, my lesson book, Comedy Writing Secrets 2nd Edition, instructed me to compose a few "light bulb" jokes as an example of triples - a tried and true comedy staple. So here are my answers to the few subject they suggested and one of my own:

How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb?


One to say we need to work together, one to blame the Muslims for the bulb going out, and the last to sell the opportunity to the highest bidder.

How many generals does it take to change a light bulb?


One to petition Congress for a new bulb, one to create a new unit of bulb changers in case this happens again, and the last to see how Patton would have done it.

How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?


One to represent the old light bulb, one to sue the lamp for damages, and the last to prevent the last light bulb from being screwed.

How many cops does it take to change a light bulb?


One to arrest the lamp for assault and two to get donuts.

How many auto mechanics does it take to change a light bulb?


One to give you an estimate, one to order the parts, and one to put it together wrong so you have to bring the lamp back in next week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cybercrime, potential, and the time to nail ISPs

Way back in July, I bookmarked a post from about arresting or prosecuting Internet Service Providers for the crimes committed by their users.

Over the last few months this post has inspired a lot of thoughts. I'll admit, one was "where did I put the link to that ISP post?". That's why you are getting this post now instead of in July or even August.


But luckily this issue is still relevant. Anyway, without further review, here are my thoughts relating to Internet Crime. And because the best way to fight crime is through kung-fu, they will be in the famous Magic bullet style - not to be confused with the other magic bullets.
  • First of all, I 100% agree that ISP need to be prosecuted. Not only for hosting virus spreaders, but also hosting child pornographers, hackers, and other sorts of online hooligans. ISPs will assert that they are providing a service, and that they shouldn't be held liable, but that's bupkis. ISPs provide a platform for media, no different than a newspaper hosts articles or a website hosts comments. If criminals abuse that platform, ISP should shut them down. Failure to do so means the ISPs are aiding and abetting.

  • Second, the authorities have a problem: the best developers, hackers, etc don't work for the authorities or the US government. They would rather go work for Google, Facebook, or other private firms. Compare that to engineers or other fields that are tied to government consumption. Outside companies pay more and as long as that remains, they will continue to be behind.

  • Consider the career of a young IT college grad: should he or she take a government job hindered by red tape, old methodologies, and far less pay, or a position with a new, forward-thinking, proactive, creative company? Unless they are incredibly loyal to the nation, it's not a hard choice.

  • Are ISPs licensed? Do they have to be? They should be and IP addresses should be associated in some way with the ISP, like social security numbers are associated with region. I don't if this is the case already. It could be.

  • If the government finds an ISP guilty, they should take away their license. Kinda like a liquor license. Depending on the violation, there could be jail time or a fine.

  • And finally, I think ISPs will be hurting when the government seizes all WiFi connections and finally treats the Internet like it does the radio air waves.