Cause that’s how Rick rolls, yo!

If you didn’t get the reference during the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, “Rick Rolling” consists of a blogpost or tweet resembling:

Instead of a cup of coffee from Starbuck’s, do something different today. http://tinyurl.com/56yeuf $5 can have an impact. Make it happen.

Curious, you click on the link…

No, really, click on that link. I’ll be here when you get back…

…and you get a flashback to that little diddy from the 80′s. This is “Rick Rolling” and YouTube pranksters have it down to a fine art. This variation remains my favorite:

Its title on YouTube reads “Hilarious Muppet Bloopers”, but 14 seconds into the clip reveals that you have, indeed, been Rick Rolled. Brilliant!

Today, though, all Rick Rolling artists were trumped by singer Rick Astley himself. Even though the overly-perky dinks from the Today show foreshadowed what was to come, the surprise was genuine:

So why am I dropping one of the whitest guys in the music industry (seriously…have you WATCHED him dance in that video?!) into the “Geek Chic” category? For one, Rick Rolling is very much a part of geek culture. It started with YouTube and has evolved into automated services that will Rick Roll you over the phone. (It happened to me. It can happen to you.) If you know what Rick Rolling is, this is a clear indication you surf the Net for more than just work. You surf for the fun of it. So, regardless of what level of geek you are, Rick Rolling is part of the lifestyle.

Second, the reaction to this nationwide Rick Rolling has been nothing short of priceless. Already there are grumpy Twitters and bloggers who have proclaimed that Rick Rolling is now officially done on account of MCA (Mainstream Corporate America) staging this “canned, lip-synced, hollow, and uninspiring” prank just to show they are “hip”.

I say to that: “Wow, you are really pissed you got Rick Rolled!”

This was an extremely clever and downright funny “in” joke for the fans of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and geeks everywhere. If you were in a different time zone and on Twitter, though, the surprise was spoiled. (Sorry about that!) Judging from the flurry of tweets in my feed, no one saw this coming. It was the Uber-Rick Rolling, and the millions enjoying the 82nd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade fell victim to it. Nicely played, and damn funny!

But the Cool Whip on this slice of pumpkin pie, and what makes this truly Geek Chic, belongs to Astley himself who jumped in with both feet and performed “Never Gonna Give You Up” from the Foster’s Home float. It is obvious that he “gets it” and doesn’t mind playing on the trend that his pop hit of yesteryear is now the Internet’s version of flaming paper bags of poo left on the stoop, Vaseline smeared on doorknobs, and whoopie cushions left in vacant chairs. Instead of copping a diva attitude and sneering at what people are doing with his hit single, Astley is shrugging and saying “Sure, why the hell not? It’s the friggin’ Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I get to be part of the ultimate Rick Rolling!” It took a lot of brass for him to perform in light of why his song is “popular” again. I admire that, and find it quite cool that even Rick Astley is getting a kick out of all this….

…and maybe that is another reason why some geeks are so mad now. Maybe — just maybe — they are coming to grips with the truth: This Rick Rolling is going to be hard to top.

This evening, I spent my 99 on iTunes for “Never Gonna Give You Up” to show my appreciation for this morning’s stunt. Good on you, Rick, and very Geek Chic! Here’s hoping this goofy fascination for your dance club hit nabs you a new recording contract. You already have an album title at the ready — “Rick Astley: Cause That’s How I Roll”.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

What’s in a Name?

I had something goofy-fun planned for this blog, but as it goes with blogging, writing, and ideas, I got an inspiration. It starts with my eventful yesterday at EEI Communications. The morning began with me being let go.

I’m only “mostly unemployed” as of Tuesday. I’m still a freelance instructor. I’m still available for public speaking events. I’m still working as a consultant. A problem with the freelancer’s lifestyle is if I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. Over the summer, one of my best clients — EEI Communications — came to me with a part-time position working logistics for all the trainers. It was a “trained monkey” kind of job, but it was income. In the end, I took pride in the fact I accepted a job nobody wanted and fixed a system that was severely broken. I was let go from this part-time gig not because I couldn’t do the job, but because EEI needed to make cuts.

So now I’m working on booking speaking engagements, landing freelance gigs, and finding a creative full-time position that would provide security. In my search-and-surf of opportunities, I came across Magpie. This service, in brief, puts ads into your Twitter stream. You set up how it works (i.e. for every twenty tweets, one ad with a Magpie hashtag is sent), and then are paid based on the reaction to the ad and how often ads enter your Twitter stream. The site offers you an estimate on how much your Twitter stream can earn, so I punched “TeeMonster” into my iPhone to see what would happen. According to Magpie, I could make somewhere around $7000 a month.

Woah.

GeekMommy‘s screenshot of Twitters using Magpie

I was all set to give this service access to my Twitter account; and then I thought for a moment about my last Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy, in particular my Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Moment. I had recently railed on an author for being a Twitter spammer. All this supposed writer does is pitch, pitch, pitch, and link, link, link in his tweets. This individual didn’t start out that way seeing as I block the TwitterBots that do nothing but spam TinyURLs. If it weren’t a hassle to weed through my followers, I’d drop this self-proclaimed weblebrity, but I’ve learned instead to tune him out. That’s how I regard Twitter if a post from this individual pops up. I zip by it because I know the tweet is simply pitching something and contributing nothing. This is an issue I’ve always talked about with Twitter and Social Media: If you want to use Twitter as a marketing tool, the secret isn’t pimping, but participating. You need to build a community, be part of the community, and actively contribute to the community.

That was bandying about in my brain as I thought long and hard about signing on with Magpie.

How would it look if every twentieth or, if I was feeling particularly aggressive, tenth tweet an ad related on something I was tweeting about suddenly popped up. How does that reflect back on me? This wouldn’t be like the free version of Twitterific where ads are interspersed throughout the stream. These would be ads with my handle, my face. Magpie is relying on the network and reputation I have fostered to help promote their sponsors, sponsors that I personally cannot vouch for. Did I really want to be associated with other free blogging sites or online services that I myself didn’t (or wouldn’t) use? Yes, when I call for sponsors on my podcasts, I pretty much will consider everyone and everything; but in those instances I know who is sponsoring me, I’m the one in charge of the ad, and I’ve got cash in hand. With Magpie, I’m offering up my stream and the frequency of ads, leaving the rest up to Magpie. That’s a lot of control I don’t have.

Apart from the mystery meat of sponsors that could latch onto my Twitter stream like remoras on to Great Whites, I lingered on how the Twitter community regards me. Let’s face it — I tweet. I tweet A LOT. I have, at the time of this posting, over 23,400 tweets. All that tweeting, and I blog, podcast, and do puppet shows for my kid’s school. (By the way, George and I are coming back for a Christmas show. I’m thinking a two-“man” Christmas Carol in twenty minutes or less…) I love Twitter, and those who follow me on Twitter know that. I don’t call my followers “Followers” but my network. It’s old friends, new friends, fans of my podcasts, and Social Media experts and enthusiasts. Yes, I get picked on a lot and tend to be the punch line to many jibes … but there is also a lot of respect out there granted to me. People ask me on both TeeMonster and ITStudios (my professional Twitter account) advice on podcasting and writing. The Crew (fans of MOREVI: Remastered) playfully pester me when the next episode is coming, and then give me assurance when things like my MacPro failing on me (yeah, that happened the day before the layoff…) occur. There was, at the time of my layoff, an outpouring of support, love, and — for a few in my network — resources offered freely and openly. My network respects me. In turn, I respect them. What is that respect worth?

I then returned to my WTF Moment from SGWF #41. Is that what I wanted to become? Less signal, more noise?

Magpie wants to put a price tag on my reputation and my name, and I am flattered that they put my potential worth so high. (I am confused, though, how my value dropped by $3000 when I performed their evaluation a second time on my laptop.) Even if I were to earn half of what Magpie estimates, it would be some nice fun money for me. I could travel a bit more with my books. I could take care of a few bills. I could spoil Sonic Boom with some fun tech toys. But is my reputation worth that? My Twitter Persona under TeeMonster can be described as many, many things, but the term “spam” has never been associated with my tweets. I tweet a lot, but it is always with my voice, my thoughts, my passions.

“What’s in a name?” my boy Will Shakespeare once asked. Quite a lot, it turns out. What’s a name worth to you?

A High Tech Voting Experience

As I type this, it is 6:40 in the morning, and I am quite proud of the people in my neighborhood and surrounding district. We got up and spoke at the polls.

The wait at the polls was made a lot shorter thanks to my iPhone and Twitterific. Wow! It wasn’t me going to the polls but me going to the polls…with a bunch of friends…from all around the world. I started sending photos to TwitPic, giving a play-by-play of the line status, where I was, and finally, when I was done. It is amazing how our personal tech (Social Media, iPhone, etc.) has changed the way we live. And this is why I am also filing this under Geek Chic. Even with my unkempt hair, my morning breath, and sleep funk, I was the sexiest voter there because I was tweeting from the iPhone.

Dead. Sexy. Geek.

Voting in Virginia is a terrific, orderly, and simple process. It is also quite geeky. First you show up with your license and registration. What’s handy is when you get your driver’s license or renew it, you are automatically registered to vote. Very nice. After you identify yourself by full name and address and you are double-checked by your photo ID (the afore mentioned driver’s license), you are handed one of these…

Feels kind of “Ye Olde School” but here’s where we go geek. After you pass the second checkpoint, you hand in your permit for an activation card (which looks like a tiny credit card) and then you wait for a hooded monitor to open up. When one is made available, you are ushered to one…

OHIO, FLORIDA, YOU’LL WANT TO PAY ATTENTION HERE!!!!

…and then you follow the instructions on the touch-screen. You are given a chance to review at the end, and then you vote. After a visual confirmation…

…you’re done. You hand the volunteer the card, get your sticker, and you go home. No dimples. No pull levers. All digital. High Tech Democracy. It can happen! (At least, in Virginia. I don’t know about elsewhere…)

What I was particularly impressed by was how many people on Twitter — especially those who were voting today — wanted to know where my votes were going. I was flattered and a little perplexed. Why would anyone really care how I vote? This is, after all, my choice. My voice. My opinion on who should be the representatives of America on the global stage. Would it change your opinion of me as a person or as a writer? Does it make me less skilled in my Podcasting (and now Blogging) Fu if I go against your political opinions? Will you deny me Halloween candy?

Sorry, that was yesterday’s post. I’m still a bit torqued over that one…

The polls are now closed in Virginia. If you want to know how I voted, here it is…

You may have issues with my choice and you know what — that’s cool! If you want to tell me here just how wrong I was in my choice, though, I will guarantee you those comments will not make it here. Why?

  • I waited until the polls were closed before telling anyone how I voted.
  • The choice is mine. I looked at both parties objectively, watched how they ran campaigns, weighed decisions they made on the road to the White House, and then I chose. This is what being an American is all about. Don’t tell me how to vote. Let me size up the options and I made the call.
  • How I voted in the election isn’t the point of this post.

The point of this post is that I got up and I voted. Did you? And if you did, did you speak your voice, or the voice of others? Regardless of the outcome tonight, if you voted, then you did what was right. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s your voice, your vote. If you are in a different time zone and haven’t voted, you still have time. If you want to contribute to my vote or try and cancel it out, you can…but to do that, you will have to vote.

Otherwise, if it’s just not worth your time and effort, I refer you to this wise Patron Saint of Talking Heads

With Liberty, Justice, and Trick-or-Treats for All

I will be so glad when this election is over. I remember the previous election was pretty intense, but both of W’s runs for the White House were nothing compared to this crossroads we are fast approaching…and I’m ready for this one to be over.

Everything I hate about politics has been put on display this go-round. Discussions between candidates, supporters, and mutual friends that resemble Monty Python’s Argument Sketch; political talking heads who have all the answers (which is why they themselves don’t run for office); and the name-calling and mudslinging from concerned political citizens that seem to crawl out from under rocks the month before the election.

What I really hate, though, are idiots who think they are making a powerful statement, and wind up hurting people in the process.

Boo! Supporting Obama? No treats for you

Yes, registered voter Shirley Nagel decided to make her statement about how scary she found Obama by denying Halloween treats to children of Obama/Biden supporters.

As a geek, I really disappointed by this.

Halloween is the coolest geek holiday. Why do I consider it a geek holiday? Because you get to play with motion sensors, fake blood, black lights, homemade brains, and sound effects to make your house the spookiest, scariest, wackiest house on the block. As George said, “It’s just like Christmas…only with ghosts, goblins, spiders, and haunted houses.” To add to the geek factor of working with D.I.Y. I.L.M., you are encouraged to cosplay. The same people that snicker and sneer at cosplayers during con weekends are the same people who go to elaborate lengths to pull of either clever conceptual costumes or replications of their favorite television or motion picture icon. This is the geekiest of geeky holidays where everybody can be a kid again.

Halloween is not — repeat, NOT — about politics. Halloween (and I’m talking Halloween in pop culture, not the literal holiday. Props to my Wiccan followers out there…) is about indulging in your goofier side, and no one casts judgment. They get into the spirit of the holiday. I friggin’ love Halloween. Turning trick-or-treating into a political platform is just thirty-one flavors of wrong, on all levels of Metamor City.

On a smaller scale, I had to deal with this kind of idiocy on Halloween. Sonic Boom and I went to a house that had a “McCain-Palin” Jack-o-lantern. (They even got the star’s dimensions right. A lot of love and care went into carving that pumpkin.) I almost said, “Now that’s the scariest pumpkin I’ve seen all night!” but I didn’t. Why? This was Sonic Boom’s night, dressed in her unicorn with basket in hand. Halloween was (and is) for her, and not for me to get snarky about how extreme some people are concerning their presidential choices.

As a geek, yes, I’m very disappointed. It is as a parent where I’m really pissed at this nitwit, Nagel.

Provided you are not stumped by the questions and rhetoric of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader”, Nagel, I’d just like to say to you as a parent: How dare you shun kids based on their parent’s voting choices! Halloween isn’t about you and your political affiliations It’s about the kids. The. KIDS!

I can only pray this idiot Nagel didn’t procreate. If she’s this way to the general public, what kind of ideals is she raising progeny by? Do you think a night at the Nagels would sound like this:

“Remember, my children, we live in a country where we are blessed with the freedom, but if people don’t think like you do, vote like you do, dress like you do, and pee like you do, then they’re freaks and you shouldn’t associate with them. Or their kids.”

Yeah, it might go something like that.

But wait, Tee, doesn’t she have the right to not give out her candy? (Thanks, @WilliamPall!) Of course. After all, Freedom of Choice is something we are blessed with in the United States. Sadly, much like another blessing — the First Amendment —  that freedom is easily prison-raped. Think about this scenario as a parent: Other kids are getting candy from this house. Your kid goes up and says “Trick or Treat!” The lady suddenly asks you “How are you voting this election?” You answer, and then she says to your kid “No treats for you. I now choose to keep my candy based on your parents’ political affiliations. Happy Halloween.” The child, lacking awareness or understanding of what just happened, looks up at you, tears welling up in the eyes, and asks “Other kids are going up there and getting treats. Why not me, dad?”

Turns out some kids did actually do this with their folks, and here is the final nail in Nagel’s coffin — her callous response to the press:

When asked about children who were turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: “Oh well. Everybody has a choice.” (from MSNBC.com)

Bitch, I sincerely hope there is a luxury suite in Hell reserved for you. Why? Because you turned a fun night for kids into a real-life horror show. You took out your frustrations and fears of a presidential race out on children who aren’t old enough to vote. And if you missed it earlier in this post — it’s not about you, it’s about the kids.

And if you stop to really think about it — what is the statement Shirley Nagel really made? She’s denying trick-or-treaters candy due to the kid’s parents political beliefs. Denied opportunity based on beliefs? Not very red, white, and blue, if you ask me. Sounds more akin to taking a constitution on The Constitution.

So please, registered voters in the United States — vote! Make the time tomorrow and vote. Instead of making statements around the water cooler, on Twitter, and during Halloween, go to where your voice will really sound its loudest: at the polls.