Tag Archives: Radio

How 37-Year Olds Consume Media

By Matthew Petty (37 years and 2 months)

This has been a bit of a thing recently (read: “about 3 weeks ago”), although my delay in posting this means I’ve missed the boatwagon a bit, but never mind eh? Caveat – the fact I disagreed with the previous attempts at this tells me to state that despite my use of the word “we” throughout, I actually mean “me”. YMMV. We Are All Individualsâ„¢

We have nicked (quite) a few of the sentences from this chap – he hit the nail on the head and we see no need to change what we agree with. Yes, yes, laziness and plagiarism, piss off.

Radio
Since we grew out of the demographic that Radio 1 is aimed at approximately 13 years ago, and since we don’t want to submit ourselves to the reactionary mitherings of Wogan and so on (he’s the voice of our parents after all), Radio 4 is the way to go. We listen to the radio a lot, but generally only talk radio like Radio 4 and NPR (now that we live in the US). We have plenty of music to listen to otherwise, and there’s always Last.fm and Pandora for around the house. We let our car’s Sirius satellite radio subscription lapse when we realized we didn’t need (or want to pay for) 150 channels of highly-focused music, talk and sport that we never listened to. Even if Patriot Radio is hilarious, and even if she wanted me to keep it just so she could listen to the Grateful Dead channel on the freeway.

Television
We don’t watch that much television. Sometimes a series comes along which grabs us, but we can rarely be bothered to play catch up with everything. Others seem to like “keeping up” with DVD box sets and Tivos, but we feel that if we miss out, it’s not the end of the world. We watch several cooking and lifestyle shows if they happen to be on when we’re relaxing and in need of distraction and kid ourselves that it isn’t their aspirational qualities that attract us. We can’t use iPlayer because we live in the US, but it’s not so much of a problem.

Newspapers
We buy newspapers when we move house, to use as wrapping, but otherwise all our news is got from the radio, and from online sources. We no longer feel that print media has any inherent advantage over electronic, especially given their compromised position on advertising and the powerful political and business influences of their owners. We feel that the free sheets were a blight on the landscape, physically, intellectually and aesthetically.

Music
We’re tired of all the bullshit about labels and DRM and people being treated like criminals for wanting to listen to stuff in their own way. We advise people not to buy from iTunes, but to buy a physical object and rip it. We’ve bought music on vinyl, tape, CD and downloaded it too – and we’ve downloaded from P2P to get hold of the stuff we already own on tape and vinyl, to avoid having to pay for it again. We’ve bought a few odds and ends from DRM-ridden shops like iTunes, and we regret it. We still have the remains of our collections of vinyl, and tape compilations that friends made for us many years ago. We no longer own a dedicated CD player, but our amp and speakers are still god for piping noise from iPods and PCs. We own a last-generation smartphone and a current-generation iPod, as well as a little SanDisk gadget for clipping to the shirt.

Telecommunications
We are wary of the “walled garden with barbed wire fences, a gator moat, sentry towers and opaque immigration policy” that the iPhone represents, despite the attractive face it presents. We would like to go the open route – when the is current contract is up, we may get a G1 (but we hear stuff about that too). We remember when our town had the area code 0234, then when it changed to 01234. We remember when London’s code changed from 01, to 0171 and 0181, then to just 020 (and we can’t understand why some people still think it’s 0207 and 0208). We absorbed the changes without too much fuss, because we knew that technology and expansion and progress means change. We remember answering the phone with the number. We remember leaving messages for friends with their parents or roommates. We remember not having a phone at all in one college house, an incoming-calls-only phone in another, and a payphone in a third.

Internet
37 years olds are adept at using the internet. Many are victims or veterans of the dotcom bubble. Friends Reunited introduced us to social media and reconnected us with everyone we ever lost touch with from school. We deserted Friends Reunited when it became clear that it was just the same people we didn’t regret losing touch with in the first place. We tried each new network when it arrived. MySpace is a mess full of hipsters with the same old sleeve tats. However, it’s useful for keeping up with friend’s bands and other stuff like that. We don’t believe that there will be many more “MySpace Bands” who break through using the site for grassroots support, but won’t be surprised when the print media trumpets it when it does happen.

Facebook is for baby photos, wedding photos and party photos. People who put up baby photos seem to get most of their adult interaction via Facebook. Women who put up wedding photos look forward to the day when they can put up baby photos of their own. Married men have more married friends to hang out with. People who post party photos keep a close eye on the relationship status and are keenly aware that their profile picture makes them look better than in real life.

The above is lifted almost directly from Dan Wilson – thanks Dan – but I would add this. We are a bit exasperated that people seem to believe that Facebook is the internet. There were all the tools that Facebook provides before Facebook existed, they just weren’t all in one place for easy access. But now everyone is in there, and it’s great at first. This means that we have many friends in Facebook, which is like a big bright room with harsh lighting, salesmen watching everything you do, billboards everywhere, and people clamoring for your attention everywhere you look. We also have a smaller group of friends outside of Facebook, in various forums, blogs, and independent sites everywhere, and we wish we could take our Facebook friends by the hand and show them the “real” web.

Twitter is great. It is the most immediate form of semi-interactive communications we use at the moment.

Gaming
We have (board) game nights with friends, which started with Trivial Pursuit, but when that got a bit tedious and tense, we switched to Taboo, which is much more fun. As children we had Sinclair ZX81s and ZX Spectrums, Texas Instruments TI99/4As, Commodore VIC20s and C64s, BBC As, Bs, Electrons and Masters. The song “Hey Hey 16K” was written for us. We have MAME set up, and play many old games with hearty helpings of rose-tinted hindsight – Defender, Robotron, Smash TV, Strike Force, Galaxian, Galaga, Asteroids, Bombjack – many of them for about 30 seconds before realizing how unreliable a reviewer nostalgia can be.
Modern games are great, but we don’t have a powerful enough PC to do them much justice, and we can’t justify a full-on console. We may get a Wii, which we will invite our friends round to play.

Mathew Robson
We have no idea why a lad who should be w*nking, drinking Merrydown cider in a graveyard and listening to Radiohead is writing plausible memos for an evil merchant bank. At his age we hated Thatcher and thought that a Labour government would make everything better – and now we are in the unpleasant situation of being an expat watching the Labour government go under, while the unutterably smug filth of the Tories wait in the wings to take their place. We did our work experience at Halliburton Geophysical (truth) and a local screw and bolt merchant. We still listen to acid house when we need the energy to do the laundry.

In a later post, perhaps I’ll address all the gaps in this, and analyse what these statements actually say about me. No TV, hardly any radio? A bit true, but not that true. Add this to the increasingly voluminous “To Be Continued” file.

Bah Humbug – No That’s Too Strong

I did not want to emerge from my cocoon this morning. I have the clock radio on loud to encourage emergence, but I find that if I put my head under the covers, I can listen comfortably. I was up late last night wrapping presents, packing my suitcase and preparing the apartment to be left for a few days. I’m driving up to LA this afternoon, and then Cassie and I are going up to Orinda to spend Xmas with her brother’s family. It will be ace.

The nostalgia centres of my brain are on overdrive at the moment, as has been noticed by friends, but I love Xmas, always did. I don’t come from a particularly large family, but when we were all together, it was a happy time. I like presents, obviously, and as my fortunes have improved, I enjoy buying gifts for people. I have been frustrated at my own lack of foresight and gift-buying imagination sometimes, especially when I see the wonderful array of one-off stuff available on the net. But in general it’s an exciting time for me.

I’ve taken to calling it Xmas in recent years on this blog. It’s partly a Futurama reference, and partly trying to avoid the religious connotations. I’m not religious or superstitious (the same thing, aren’t they?). Xmas for me has always been about the season, the colours and atmosphere, the food, the music and the imagery. I have no problem with the disconnect from the original meanings, be they Christian, Pagan, or other religion.

I have no shame in telling you that I love Xmas music. My favouraite Xmas song is Greg Lake’s I Believe In Father Christmas, which has an anti-war message (of course, for the time) but also a couple of interesting lines about about belief. Plus the Troika melody, which always brings a tear to my rheumy sentimental old eye. Also in the running:

This morning, the blaring radio had an item about the Humanist winter celebration, HumanLight, which is celebrated on December 23rd, halfway between the winter solstice and Xmas. Humanists gather, sing songs, play games, and do all the regular Xmassy stuff, but with an emphasis on reason-based (as opposed to faith-based) beliefs, and trying to create a peaceful and prosperous future for all.

While the imagery of HumanLight doesn’t appeal to me, and the music I heard on the radio certainly doesn’t, I appreciate the effort to make something concrete for this time of year. There’s a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing around this time, where if someone asked me why I was using all the decorations and religious imagery, I’d have to make some general comments about liking the season (much like here).

Does that mean I would like to get rid of “traditional” Xmas? I don’t think so, I’m too fond of it. But it may be necessary in the future. The War Of Attrition On Christmas, perhaps.

Anyway, I appreciate the HumanLight sentiment. All the best for the season, and I wish you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year!

Result

I’ve not said much about the US election campaign swirling around me in my first few months living in the US. I’ve not felt confident enough to express my hopes. If you talk to me, I’ll explain who I wanted to win. But here, I don’t know - I think there are so many political commenters, I’ll leave it to the experts and the articulate.

I went home on my own last night, and used the TV to watch the results coming in. I was flipping between NBC and CNN. I preferred NBC, even though their graphics were a bit shiney-shiney. I like NBC anchor Brian Williams, he’s very funny when he appears as a guest on the Daily Show. I don’t watch TV news normally. The KPBS newsroom just looked a bit sad and, well, publically funded. “No commercials; No mercy!”

California lags behind of course, due to the vastness of the country. So Obama was announced President-Elect at 8pm local time, just as the CA voting closed. It was pretty clear by then, but still it needed to be stated. It was kind of funny that they were in a commercial break, and when they returned, the news was announced as if it had happened about a minute ago. Why didn’t they break from commercial to bring us the news?

I enjoyed watching McCain’s “gracious” concession speech. I used quotes there to show that the general concensus is that the speech was gracious, not to show that I don’t think that. He even managed to quiet the booing hundreds when he mentioned Obama – a nice change from whipping them up yesterday and throughout the campaign. Palin said nothing. Good. She’ll be back though, despite being a major reason people voted against McCain.

I was folding laundry while Obama gave his speech. It was fine, no surprises (apart from the puppy!). He’s a good talker, no doubt. The part where he would end a paragraph with, “yes we can” and the crowd would respond irritated me a bit. It sounded like a church service with the little interruptions from the congregation that I only see when I go to weddings. Or like Adama from Battlestar Galactica saying, “So say we all!”.

I was also watching a few websites – CNN, NBC, NPR local affiliate KPBS, FiveThirtyEight.com, Twitter, and of course, LittleGreenFootballs.com. All were slow to update, but that may have been my PC being an old one of Cassie’s, until I can get my proper one fixed. Seeing as all the results came from the Assoicated Press, it was just a case of the various channels interpreting the data. It was pretty frutrating at times, seeing such a big disparity between the channels, and waiting for the refresh.

It was also frustraing that all the news sites I was looking at didn’t mention the ballot measure Prop 1A for a Californian High Speed Rail system. This is dear to me because it is the project  I was (kind of) brought to the US to work on. If it had failed, there was a risk I would have no project to work on – although I had been assured by my masters that I would have been found something else to do. The stationery cabinet needs organising, for example. We need firewood for the approaching winter.

I found that KPBS had the most detailed local results. When I went to bed, I was a bit nervous, but the Trader Joes pizza and Karl Strauss beer helped me drift off. Prop 1A was trailing in the results, with about half the precincts having returned their totals. When I awoke, however, 95% of the precincts had returned, and Proposition 1A had passed!

Other good news (IMHO) from the ballot measures: Prop 2 has passed (food animal welfare); Prop 3 has passed (childrens hospitals); Prop 4 has failed (doctors informing parents about abortions on minors).

Bad news: Prop 8 passed, in a shameful display of bigotry and paranoia. Replace the word “gay” with the word “interracial” in the measure text, and see what you get. “But think of the children!”. Oh grow up. In California of all places! “But the Bible says…”. Stop. Your holy book does not apply to everyone.

Also Props 7 and 10 for renewal energy and alterntaive fuel vehicles failed. Fair enough, the price of oil is coming down now. You thick f*cks.

I spoke to Cassie a couple of times. She was with her roommate and a few friends in LA, having a little Election Night party. We were nervous at first, then relieved, then nervous again as the votes for the California Ballot Measures came in. Cassie told me her roommate Brendan looked like her nephew on Xmas morning. Big grin.

The atmos in the office is quiet (then again it is just 8am). I think many people will be happy, but equally as many will not be. Unfortunately, some of those are people who think Obama is a secret Muslim, and that abortion should be made illegal, and that God said marriage is one man and one woman, and why should I have to teach my children about gays? So no party poppers here. But there will be some secret smiles in the corridors.

All this, and I didn’t even vote!

I Got Your Tagline Right Here!

Tonight on Radio 4, in the 6.30 comedy slot, The Hudson and Pepperdine Show spews forth. It may be quite funny, but I won’t be listening after hearing the desperate ad spot over breakfast today. The two female perpetrators bicker about trying to find a tagline for their show, but keep using other advert taglines like “Every Little Helps” and so on, and the whole thing is so funny that I rinsed my cereal bowl, brushed my teeth and went to work.

But I want to help, being the charmer that I am, so here’s some suggestions.

  • The low-rent French and Saunders
  • The even-lower-rent Mel and Sue, if that’s possible
  • Not in the least funny
  • How the fuck did this get commissioned?
  • Your license fee in action
  • So funny, you may well self-harm as an excuse to leave the room

Oh by the way, I also won’t be listening because I’m off straight after work to help Esther and Bill celebrate their engagement! Congratulations guys, looking forward to a good Pre-Nup Sup.

London Gets The Olympics

I heard the happy shouts on Paddington station from my window. London wins something! Wonderful, I guess. Not much of a sports fan at all, but it’s still cool.

And the celebrations begin!

Unfortunately, this means lots of crappy comedians, and the kind of people who email PM on Radio 4, will be telling all sorts of crappy ‘Urban Olympics’ jokes about what events will be added, for example

  • 100m dash carrying a stolen car stereo
  • Synchronised Happy Slapping
  • 1500m Trying To Be Funny in an email to PM on Radio 4

And so on.

Linda Smith, Panel Game Debutante

I was doing my usual Sunday evening pottering last night, which involves stalking the corridors and chambers of Petty-Stewart Towers my flat, picking things up, putting them down somewhere else, ostensibly to get ready for the working week ahead, but still somehow leaving myself with a mad rush in the morning, desperately cramming bits of paper and electronics in my pockets as I dash for the train.

While doing so, I heard the, ahem, dulcet tones of Linda Smith yipping and mewling from the withdrawing room. Now this is not so unusual, because Radio 4 tends to be on all the time in the kitchen, and let’s face it, if there’s a panel game of any kind on Radio 4, Linda Smith will be on it.

F*cking Quote F*cking Unquote devised and inflicted by F*cking Nigel F*cking Rees, for example, or Just A Bleeding Minute, you name it, she’s on it. She clearly sleeps under the desk in the Radio 4 Panel Game Studio, emerging only to appear in the News Quiz or whatever, alongside those other denizens of Panel Game Purgatory, Andy “I wrote a series once” Hamilton, Jeremy “If the kids are united” Hardy and Paul “Not as funny as Tony Hancock” Merton.

But no. This came from the TV. A quick glance (and Mairi) told me it was the new show Mock The Week, which it appears is a game where members of the panel compete with each other to be as smug as possible, while referring to front-page news stories in a cursory fashion.

And there she was. Sandwiched between Hugh Dennis and Rory Bremner (what an image), both positive beacons of self-satisfied glee at being able to present pub-level satire on national TV as if it was in any way shape or form dangerous, biting, or cutting-edge. And while I knew this already, I was once again shocked at how much Linda Smith looks exactly like she sounds.

The Radio 4 Panel Game Studio now has cameras in it, and Hattie Hayridge’s lawyers are battering the door down.

And now on BBC Radio Four, the shipping forecast…

Trying vainly to get to sleep wouldn’t be the same without the strains of ‘Sailing By‘ at 00:45 on UK BBC Radio 4, followed by the Shipping Forecast. This string of numbers and names is sometimes soporific, sometimes annoying, and sometimes, it manages to be quite evocative.

ukship3

Click below to see more information (or a vaguely related link) about each area. All links open in a new window.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, Southeast Iceland

Some other sites concerned with the map…

You Will Feel The Need To Vomit

OK, so the possibility of nuclear destruction our friend the atom, slow or fast, is bad enough, but how about the possibility of sonic destruction?

Hawkwind discussed it in their chilling classic, Sonic Attack. Well, I say ‘discussed’, I actually mean recited a tract of Moorcock apocalyptic barminess over a backing of overdriven synth noodlings and feedback. Effective in headphones, while lying on the floor in the dark, brain stewing in acid, or so I’m told…

The US military have long had an interest in so-called ‘non-lethal’ acoustic weapons. But some people believe other research looked into, shall we say, non-non-lethal applications. But they’re just nutters and crackpots surely?

Perhaps not. During that wellspring of negative creativity, The Cold War, accidental discoveries were made which brought the possibility of a functional, and truly terrifying, sonic weapon into range. French scientist Vladimir Gavreau’s experiments nearly killed him and his fellow researchers, the ‘infrasound’ of about 7Hz produced by their apparatus coming close to destroying their bodies from within.

As well as the physiological effects of unusual sound, the psychological effects should not be ignored. I used to share a house with a couple of girls when I was at college. Sound good? It wasn’t. One of them had the CD single of ‘Dreams’ by eye-hiding cod-soul warbler Gabrielle. It was the only CD she owned, and she set it to repeat. And repeat. In those weeks, I knew how Manuel Noriega felt.

And finally, what about the subconcious? What about the sentient? What about a sound, or a piece of music, that wants to live? That wants to propagate itself, through whatever channels it can, before becoming the only sound in existence? Impossible, you say. Nonsense, you sneer. Well, laugh now, because The Human League’s The Black Hit Of Space is waiting in your record collection…

“I knew I had to escape. But every time I tried to flee, the record was in front of me.”