Posted in Conversation

Social Media Profile Tips 33 – 62

33) You can also exhibit the classes you have taken in college, and the social networks that you belong to on your blog profile. A lot of people describe themselves as parents and talk about positive changes they have made in life. You can wrap it up with your favorite strategy and feel materials.

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Posted in Lists

Social Media Profile Tips 1 – 31

This little series will provide you with a total of 120 different social media profile tips. You will be presented with an array of ideas for various information to include to your linkedin, twitter or any other social networking sites. The more individualized and professional content you put in, the higher the possibility that potential clients will want to be in your friends list, follow you or buy your merchandise. This type of knowledge can improve your confidence, power, credibility, proficiency, and it can establish bond and a trustworthy relationship with your clients.

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Posted in Music

Top 10 Hip Hop Music and Songs for October

For the 2nd half of 2011, new songs and new artists are entering the limelight. The likes of Nicki Minaj, Mike Posner, Miguel and etc.  Unlike last week’s Top 10, Lil Wayne’s single ‘How to Love’ went down to the 5th spot.

For this month, Dj Khaled’s collaboration with Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne made it to the top of the list. The song entitled, ‘I’m On One’ mad it to the top of the list this week. Continue reading “Top 10 Hip Hop Music and Songs for October”

Posted in Mobile Devices & Gadgets

The Best Of Nascar Racing Games

NASCAR is otherwise known as National Association for Stock Car Auto racing. But for many of us, we know it as one of America’s most exciting car race games. It even becomes cooler if we are in the arena where all the action happens; the raving of engines before the start off shot, the wild cheers as the cars gain momentum and try to outdo each in a cut throat speed. If we are closer to the race track we can’t help but hold our breaths as the multi-colored cars whizz past at a neck break speed.

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Posted in Books

Do I want to go to a Comic-Con?

Comic books. You either read them or you don’t. There’s not a great deal of gray area for people when it comes to reading and collecting comics. It’s a lot like anchovies- you love them or you hate them.

Luckily, I’m not here to write about comic books (or anchovies), but rather a series of events that more and more people can’t help but hear about in the news, on TV, in magazines and all over the internet… a Comic-Con.

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Posted in Mobile Devices & Gadgets

5 Good Things About the iPad

The world indeed became more interesting with the advent of the iPad. Designed to carry out countless tasks, the iPad provides the users just the convenience any person would desire from his or her handy-dandy gadget. Evaluating the pros of a must-acquire gadget, let’s tackle 5 good things about the iPad. Continue reading “5 Good Things About the iPad”

Posted in Epitaphs

Sunset Time for newcritics – 2006-09

Newcritics logo Over at newcritics.com, it’s time to close the front door, turn off the lights ’round the bar, hang up the closed sign, and walk out the back way for the last time. This little group culture blog, which began as an experiment in the winter of 2006-07, is putting its xml to rest and moving on. No heavy heart accompanies the closure; newcritics.com was never more than a nifty digital hang-out for a squadron of bloggers who wanted a convivial crowd to shoot the breeze with over conversations about film, television, books, music and the like. In that way, it fullfilled its promise brilliantly.

“That newcritics crowd,” as it was known in some corners of the cultural blogosphere, came together original over politics at the old roundtable in the back of the Algonquin Hotel, grew via WordPress, and convened virtually around esoteric filmfests, live-blogging Mad Men, and arguing about old Stones records. What a great group, especially the core of regulars: the gracious and fab M.A. Peel, who was most nearly my partner in organizing this temporary salon, the prolific Lance Mannion and the generous and witty Blue Girl, musicologists Jason Chervokas and Dan Leo, the serenely cinematic Siren and the erudite Robert Stein, the culturally agile NYC Weboy and the peripatetic Neddie Jingo, book maven extraordinare Maud Newton and comedy guru Dennis Perrin, Kathleen and Manny Maher (the Nick and Nora of our set), and the TV fashion bloggers Claire Helene and Jennifer Krentz, rock and roll wild men Tony Alva and the Viscount, the caustic Brendan Tween and film fanatic Chuck Tryon, to name just a few of the more than 50 bloggers who posted over there (not to mention outside linking support from Vanity Fair‘s James Wolcott, a fan of the cultural scrum, and a hearty group of regular commenters).

What a crowd! And it was a privilege to invite them to newcritics every week for a couple of years, and kick the cultural zeitgeist around the saloon for a while. I loved it. But the party’s moved on. To Facebook and Twitter and other venues. What we did there was for and of its time – entirely worthwhile, but always time-limited and impermanent. A long conversation, but one with an end.

When I wrote CauseWired last year, I included a brief description of newcritics.com in the book, because I’d gained valuable insight into online group dynamics, and because I saw that conversation itself as a cause worth supporting. I still think it is – but it’s also clear that it will happen elsewhere. In some ways, the glory days of personal and immediate blogging have passed newcritics by; but in another sense, it’s really just part of a continued evolution in social media. The conversations I’m having on Facebook and Twitter with some of the very same people who used to hang out at newcritics are every bit as good as the ones we had at this particular web address.

So let those conversations continue. And thanks for stopping by.

[Note: we’ll keep the archives up for a bit, then my guess is the site will go the way of all flesh. Comments are still on, but require full registration, so I don’t expect many. I’ll see you all at the next roadhouse.]

Posted in Music

Together Through Life: Darkness in the Groove

At this stage, the Bob Dylan test is simple: listen to a new record a few times and before you make your judgment, pretend it’s the work of a largely unknown old circuit rider named Robby Zimmerman playing bars and beer halls with his traveling blues band in the upper midwest.

Then decide.

By the high cultural standards generally ascribed to America’s generational poet, Dylan’s unexpected new album Together Through Life is light and occasionally pleasing, an interesting fourth record in a blues-based “comeback” that begin with his Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind in 1997. To Dylanologists and obsessive critics, it’ll never make the canon.

But to anyone scuffling through the the hard rain of springtime, 2009, the new Dylan record is a low and pleasing rumble of traditional blues and front parlor numbers, latched to the back-end of a cross country semi hauling one hell of a groove across the American wasteland.

If this were the work of an unknown veteran, in other words, the critics would be patting themselves on the back for their tremendous taste and ability to spot a new talent.

About that groove: the guitar work of Heartbreaker Mike Campbell and the accordion of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo weave a border cafe filigree of melody and rhythm, while Dylan’s touring band – bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George Recile, and Donnie Herron on banjo, steel guitar and mando – lay down a rich bed of sound that’s part vintage Chess sides and part nouveau Texas swing.

Dylan’s voice has never been scruffier, a lonely warble grooved with years aural scars. But in other ways, his singing hasn’t been this good in a decade. It’s crisply enunciated. And the singer sells the songs completely, even though most of the lines turn downward these days at the end, the antithesis of the characteristic upward snarl of “how does it feel?”

This 67-year-old Dylan knows how it feels and the songs – mostly co-written with lyricist Robert Hunter – tell small and personal stories. Dark tales with dark humor and lost dreams: Dylan knows it’s late in his game (and perhaps ours as well). “I feel a change comin’ on and the fourth part of the day’s already gone,” he sings over happy upbeat blues on the record’s best song. Then he adds: “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver and I’m reading James Joyce/Some people they tell me I’ve got the blood of the land in my voice.”

That he does. Most critics thought Dylan had finished his late-career blue trilogy (which also included Love and Theft from 2001 and Modern Times in 2006), but as Dylan sings in Jolene on the new disk: “I keep my hands in my pocket, I’m moving along, people think they know, but they’re all wrong.”

Posted in Epitaphs Music

Catechism Culture

A couple of weeks back, I met a friend for lunch downtown and wondered at the choice – an East Village UK-style pub, replete with an iconic red phone box out front. Fair enough, but an interesting choice of venue. I was early and perusing the menu when I realized at an instant why we were there. The famous fish and chips, halfway down the menu.

Of course. It was Friday. In Lent. And we’re both Catholics.

Not the daily Mass sort, yet the culture is so strong, so nearly biological, that it still persuades secularists to traipse at least at least an extra subway stop to avoid a meaty midday repast during the period of Lenten sacrifice that will conclude next Sunday. Palm Sunday is tomorrow, and Holy Week follows – concluding that particularly New York version of the liturgical calendar that adds the green of St. Patrick’s Day to the purple of the passion play.

On Ash Wednesday, one of my favorite bloggers, Lance Mannion, wrote about his formal break with the Catholic Church, noting that he’d been “holding onto my faith by the threads of a frayed alb anyway.” Lance’s post plumbed some of the gnawing away of formal church-based hierarchical religion in this country, but I was also struck by one of the comments: “I haven’t been to Church in years. But I’m STILL a Catholic.” And that blend of personal cultural and religious self-identification, which riles traditional (and conservative) Roman Catholics, hasn’t lost its power. Reading Lance’s Lenten post (and it was a Lenten post because Lance is still a Catholic) called to mind the lyrics of punk poet Jim Carroll’s Catholic Boy from 1980:

And they can’t touch me now

I got every sacrament behind me

I got baptism, I got penance

I got communion, I got extreme unction

Man, I’ve got confirmation

I was a Catholic boy

Redeemed through pain

And not through joy

And now I’m a Catholic man

I put my tongue to the rail whenever I can

Patti Smith, the force behind Carroll’s angry, poetic record, was a Jehovah’s Witness – at least until she hit New York, and quickly adopted Catholicism (the cultural variety) as the perfect canvas for poetry. Is there a more Catholic opening line to a song from 1970s than Smith’s iconic “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine?”

That the song was a reinvention of Van Morrison’s Gloria added to the hymnal quality – Patti clearly leaning on the in excelsis Deo side of the double meaning, fresh from posing as Mary Magdalene for Robert Mapplethorpe, himself an Irish Catholic divorced by sexuality yet entirely married in culture and personal reference. This was a common formula in 1970s New York. In 1973, Staten Island Catholic boy David Johansen asked with mock incredulity: “Then all the old ladies they are on their way to the church…yuh go ta church?” That same year, St. Rose of Lima Catholic grammar school graduate Bruce Springsteen cracked, “Nuns run bald through Vatican halls pregnant, pleadin’ immaculate conception” in Lost in the Flood.

I grew up on this stuff, in the years just after my service as an altar boy, and the incense never quite abandons the cultural DNA, even after the orthodoxy has fled; I’ve observed the same phenomenon among non-observant Jews who’ll still place the pebble on the headstone every time. You can’t shake childhood, and in middle age, it’s surprising what remains of the old relationship with the cassock and the ritual. Skinny young heretics like Bruce Springsteen harbor second thoughts in the years of thickening middles – witness his 2005 conversation on Devils & Dust:

In the garden at Gethsemane

He prayed for the life he’d never live,

He beseeched his Heavenly Father to remove

The cup of death from his lips

Now there’s a loss that can never be replaced,

A destination that can never be reached,

A light you’ll never find in another’s face,

A sea whose distance cannot be breached

Well Jesus kissed his mother’s hands

Whispered, “Mother, still your tears,

For remember the soul of the universe

Willed a world and it appeared.”

Another of my favorite bloggers, M.A. Peel, also had an Ash Wednesday post at the beginning of this Lenten season, linking this period of contemplation for Catholics to the world’s crisis: “Avarice is a mortal sin – the wisdom of that classification is now sadly clear.” And she posted a video and lyrics to the song Hallelujah by the brilliant singer/songwriter Rufus Wainright, culturally Irish Catholic on his mother’s side and quite conscious of it:

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

As my own children make their sacraments and some days are a struggle to reconcile their upbringing with my thin personal faith and disdain for the patriarchy of the formal religion, Wainright’s words ring like communion bells. The shadows and doubts and reason are all our own. I’m not alone, I think, in harboring an entirely personal relationship with a formal religion – or thinking the blaze of light is my own. No less of a  church-goer than John Updike riffed on that individuality of faith and identify when he accepted an award as a prominent Christian writer by a Catholic magazine in 1997:

“St. Augustine was not the first Christian writer nor the last to give us the human soul with its shadows, its Rembrandtesque blacks and whites, its chiaroscuro; this sense of ourselves, as creatures caught in the light, whose decisions and recognitions have a majestic significance, remains to haunt non-Christians as well, and to form, as far as I can see, the raison d’être of fiction.”

Updike’s identity, his Christianity, was portrayed in doubt and human failing wonderment, in the brutal light of clear-eyed observation and realism (very Catholic in practice). On his deathbed, in what may be the most moving pages of verse to grace an American magazine in a century, Updike didn’t shy away for a moment from either the doubt or the faith:

We mocked, but took. The timbrel creed of praise
gives spirit to the daily; blood tinges lips.
The tong reposes in papyrus pleas,
saying, Surely – magnificent, that “surely” –
goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the ays of my life, my life, forever.

When I was in Oxford last week, I stayed in student lodgings at Trinity College that were nicer than any hotel room I’ve ever seen in London. Trinity College was founded by Sir Thomas Pope in 1555. A devout catholic with no surviving children, Thomas Pope saw the Foundation of an Oxford college as a means of ensuring that he and his family would always be remembered in the prayers and masses of its members.

The gardens at Trinity are very beautiful, but one border of the College harbors a little secret: the gates constructed along Parks Road are purely ornamental and are never opened. Tradition holds they’re only swung open when a Jacobite monarch resumes the throne of England (and presumably ends the reign of the Church of England as the state religion). While I was there, the news was full of talk about PM Gordon Brown’s move to overturn the part of the 1701 Act of Settlement that bans Catholics from marrying into the royal family. Maybe the gates of Parks Road will be opened sooner rather than later, I thought, my Catholic upbringing going off like a ring tone set to the Angelus.

Flying home last week, I found myself 40,000 feet over the North Atlantic, wedged into what American Airlines dashingly refers to as a “seat” and holding onto sanity only by dint of the seatback video movies. The dinner cart came along. It was Friday. The choice came: “chicken or pasta?” And there, in some pain and without a conscious inkling, the DNA of the catechism kicked into autopilot:

“Pasta,” says I, only vaguely aware of my current timezone.

Posted in Poetry

After this our exile

This is a 1955 recording of T.S. Eliot reading ‘Ash Wednesday’ – strangely, it sounds much older, like an old phonograph cylinder recording, some bit of ancient audio cultural pre-history. That’s probably what the words and their delivery convey. I almost always read this poem on this day, so I thought I’d share:

Ash Wednesday