Social Media Slime

I have been thinking about social media a lot lately. About how it’s not what it was in the early days – about how we’re all now just commodities trading our information for advertising. How all of these “free” services we use like Facebook and Twitter are really places where WE are the product being sold to advertising and marketing and data manipulation companies. I don’t watch TV, and I have ad-free YouTube, but the advertising is still there.

Like slime, all over all of our connections and conversations. There is still some good I think, on the internet, but social media reminds me more and more of the Frank Zappa song “I am the Slime”. (Which, by the way, I can quote in its entirety, having memorized it as a child. I have no idea why I memorized THIS song, but I can still quote it.)

I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed

I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can’t look away
I make you think I’m delicious
With the stuff that I say

I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozin’ out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don’t need you
Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you

Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That’s right, folks . . .
Don’t touch that dial

I’m pretty sure at this point the rights to all of us have long been sold. And yet… I still check twitter whenever I have downtime. I still post and curate on Facebook, and my grove advertises there. I page through Instagram before bed, looking at pretty pictures of fat activists, plus size yogi/nis, cosplayers, witches, pagans, and SCA folks. 

Slime, indeed. 

Behold, the Power of Facebook

I am not a Facebook apologist.

I frequently am frustrated with it, check it mostly to delete invitations to parties from friends I’ve not seen in 12 years and who live halfway across the country and to block applications from sending me junk mail. No, I don’t want to play Mafia Farm Pets with you. Sorry. But even I have to admit there are some things that Facebook does well – amazingly well, in fact.

Here, have a cookie and some tea, and let me tell you a story.

When I was a little bitty girl, about 6 years old, my parents “inherited” a piano from my grandparents, who had found it in the basement of one of my grandfather’s churches.

It wasn’t a new piano – in fact, it was a pretty old piano. But it was in good shape, and I wanted lessons, and they needed a tuner. Through some happenstance of fate, the newspaper, a phonebook, and who knows what else (the internet didn’t really exist back then, and we didn’t have a computer anyway), they found a young man who was studying piano performance at … some university nearby, and his father happened to be a piano tuner.

I don’t really remember his father (other than a few mental images of him waist-deep in our piano), but Misha (the late-teenaged kid) came to our house once a week or so for the next 4(ish) years, to give me piano lessons.

He was, by all accounts, a superb teacher.

I remember never feeling like he was talking down to me, and that he had me start composing music from the very first time I sat down at the piano (I still have some of those compositions? and to be quite honest, they’re better than some of the stuff I did in Music Theory I in college). I was too short to reach the pedals, so I played sitting on an old wooden chair with two phonebooks and an encyclopedia set on top. In the winter, he’d come in from the cold, and banish me to the kitchen to run my hands under hot water from the sink until they were warm enough to play. While he waited, he would improvise on various jazz tunes and whatever else popped into his head. I don’t know if I ever heard him play “classical” music other than what I was learning.

Thinking back, I probably did, but it was the jazz I remembered.

Around the time I was 10 or so, I decided I wanted to play the clarinet in the band at school, and was asked to choose between clarinet and piano for lessons. I chose clarinet. Then we moved to Texas, where I continued to play woodwinds, but still tinkering on the piano until High School, where I played in the Jazz Band. I wasn’t the best pianist, but I had fun, and I loved the music.

Every now and again I’d wonder how things had gone for him, considering that he’d been a pretty amazing musician and was playing in clubs even back then.  But Misha’s last name was, to a 6 year old, nearly unpronounceable thanks to the haze of fuzzy memories, and as such, I could barely remember it properly, let alone figure out how to spell it. I tried a few times to see if I could find him, but Google wasn’t that good, and… well, I was guessing wildly at a Russian last name.

Fast forward to this weekend, visiting my parents for my mom’s birthday.

Mom has a huge old box of music, inherited along with the piano, and in it are the books I used learning as a little kid. I went through them, having a happy walk down memory lane at the sight of songs like Grasshoppers Jumping and 10 Little Indians. I got to the end, and there in the back, on my little “Certificate of Merit” for completing the first book in the series, he’d signed his name as my teacher (as well as doodled all over it).

Misha Piatigorsky

I went to Google.

Turns out, our assumption that he’d make it as a musician weren’t far off. You can hear Misha Piatigorsky in a few different clubs in New York, listen to his stuff on Rhapsody, or buy his music.  But Google isn’t the theme of the post. Google let me know he really did still exist, and that he’d been successful.

The power of Facebook is in connecting people.

So thanks, Facebook, for allowing me to say thank you, 15 (or so) years later, to the guy whose fault it probably is that I’m still hanging on to the music.

Or at least, I can blame him for getting me started.

25 Lemming Things

Reposted from my Facebook page, because I am lazy and want to get double use out of something I spent that much time on. If you read it on facebook, feel free to skip it here, since it’s the same!

Ok, ok, ok already – I get it, 25 things meme attacks the internet and spreads like wildfire, destroying all in its path. Fine. I hate these things, because they’re like that icebreaker game “2 Truths and a Lie”. I never know what to say, and I always think of something more interesting to add later.

Either way, here goes.

1. I am incredibly “domestic” – I love cooking, sewing, knitting, crochet, the whole bit. I’m pretty good at all of them too, though I don’t do any of them (except cooking) as often as I’d like.

2. I’ve been actively involved in music since I was about 6 years old. It makes me a very sad panda that I don’t have access to a piano right now, and I’m looking forward to having “my piano” back when we move into our new house.

3. I love old books, especially the way they smell. I’d much rather have an old copy than a new copy, so long as it doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke (YUCK).

4. I was born in the suburbs in New Jersey, but I find myself very much at home in Texas (even if I don’t get to be a “real” Texan). Somewhere in me is a country girl, so long as i get to keep my internet.

5. I’ve been fascinated with history since I was very small, and it was my favorite subject all through school. It doesn’t even really matter what time period, I love learning the stories “behind the dates and wars” from our collective past. I majored in music history and minored in European history in college, and I would love to be able to take more classes like that.

6. I love gardening and growing things – flowers, veggies, herbs, whatever. Right now on my porch, I have a small collection of plants, and I can’t wait to have a real garden.

7. You know those punchy-bag things that dangle in the back of your throat (you see them a lot in cartoons when people scream)? That’s a uvula, and I have two of them.

8. I’ve loved Tolkien’s writing since I was very small, and my father and I read The Hobbit out loud to each other. In high school, I spent a long time working on the elven calligraphy that he uses. Even now, going back to read any of his work is like seeing an old friend again.

9. I am naturally very flexible – which is both a blessing and a curse. I love yoga, but I hate all the joint injuries I’ve had over the years. Also, it wasn’t so much fun being the test-dummy for all of the joint manipulation classes back when I was doing martial arts. On the other hand, I learned how to fall really well…

10. This is the first time in my life that I’ve not been involved in some form of music/rhythm and dance – ballet, rhythmic gymnastics, marching band (in High School) and then ballroom dance (all through college). I miss it, a lot more than I let on.

11. I’ve always wanted to learn Middle Eastern dance/bellydance, but there’s no way you’ll ever get me to do it where people are watching, which is why I haven’t looked into it seriously.

12. I love writing, but I absolutely can not write believable plot to save my life. Fortunately, the writing teachers I’ve had over the years encouraged my writing in ways that didn’t depend on plot, and I love being able to say that I’m a writer for my job (even if it’s not writing stories, but writing articles and for blogs).

13. I have very serious body image issues, and I know that they’re irrational, but I can’t seem to shake them. This drives my husband crazy.

14. I enjoy reading historical nonfiction, historical fiction, and fantasy, but I have trouble really getting into science fiction.

15. I can define moments in my life by the music that was going on at the time. This includes video game music, movie soundtracks, and canned musak in buildings.

16. I’ve been involved in a living history type group (SCA) for the last 6 years, and I love the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned through that organization. I know I have a better grasp on certain aspects of history thanks to the experiences I’ve had there.

17. I hate my cell phone. It’s hard to use and annoying, but I can’t replace it for another 14 months without paying retail for the new one.

18. I rarely have trouble falling asleep, especially if I do my little before-bed routine. It takes 15-20 minutes, and by the end I’m in sleep mode. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything for helping me STAY asleep.

19. I have two kitties – Max and Charlie. They are usually more entertaining than anything that’s on television.

20. I don’t have a “favorite” musical genre. I have “today’s favorite” musical genre, and that changes from day to day. Frequently, though, you’ll find jazz (particularly jazz piano and big band jazz), solo piano works, early music, video game music, folk music, movie soundtracks, rock music, uhh… ok so maybe I should just stick with “I don’t have a favorite musical genre”.

21. My favorite thing about my job is that I’m teaching people something – even if it’s a silly something. That, and I get to work from home.

22. I have excellent pitch (at one point, I had perfect relative pitch, though I’m a little out of practice), but I don’t have a strong singing voice. I want to take singing lessons to help fix this – especially after singing in various choirs for the last several years.

23. My husband and I have played video games together since we were just really good friends going to college in two different states. We played together over the internet – and we’re still playing together, even if we now sit within arms-reach of each other. Right now our game of choice is World of Warcraft, where he is a tank and I am a healer, but we’re both looking forward to Diablo III.

24. I have a strong innate sense of body movement/kinesthetics. This is probably why I’ve always loved dance/martial arts and am now doing yoga, but I hate “going to the gym”.

25. I am very particular about where and when I’ll discuss politics or religion, being that both of these are very private things for me (and I’ve been burned enough times to know better than to mention any of it publically). If you really want to know more about that part of me, send me message, or IM me, or email me.