August 2006 Archives

For the latest Lonelygirl15 news, check the main page.

Ran into American Idol finalist Melissa McGhee last night at the Hangout.

Minor, not Big, goon.
She was there with the biggest goon I had ever seen. I have dealt with a lot of big goons, but this guy defined the genre. He was the quintessential big goon. If you looked up "Big Goon" in Merriam-Webster, you'd see this dude's picture. Interestingly enough, Big Goon, despite having his meaty paws all over her, is not her boyfriend -- at least Dave, who works with her boyfriend's mother, said so. Except Michael, another friend of mine, swears he's her boyfriend and he's known him for five years or something. Clearly, Melissa McGhee is living an interesting lifestyle for someone completely unemployed (save for singing the Star-Spangled Banner at Tropicana Field).

So we have a new Lonelygirl15 video... and it's a real piece of work. Bree and Daniel go swimming... and we see a side of Bree we haven't seen before. Specifically, her backside.

If you somehow missed this development, check the video.

Almost immediately, an eagle-eyed viewer with some botanical knowledge (see, I knew that line of questioning would get somewhere!) located the swimming-hole site:

rm59918rm (2 hours ago)
This was filmed in Southern California anywhere south of Fresno, along the foothils of the Sierra Mtns., or possibly in the foothills of the San Bernardino Range. The specific Nolari Parryi (Nolari Bear Grass) is indigenous only to that area. Bree walks right through a patch of it, without question, that is what that plant is.

Okay, so it's not a complete location, but it finally gets us out of Texas, Oklahoma, et cetera.

Meanwhile, Milo brings up Lonelygirl15.com frequent poster Jessica (with whom I've had a few conversations) and her apparent geolocationization placing Bree near Mountain View/San Mateo -- home to YouTube. There's also a Scientologist Delphi Academy 25 miles away that is home to short summer camps for the poor children of Scientologists.

And then you have an actual botanist who notices this and says yes, yes, yes, it's Southern California and if she says she lives three hours from the nearest mall she's lying. And yeah, there's a Delphi Academy outside L.A., and San Diego, and all over, really.

The swimming video is notable for a number of reasons, not least among them the evidence that it most certainly was edited by a man -- and probably not Daniel, or whatever his name is. The video is so obviously from the male gaze, yet uncomplimentary to Daniel, that it's practically prima facie. On top of all of this is my contention that the video was edited using Adobe's After Effects studio and the Magic Bullet suite. Now, it's possible Daniel pirated a copy, or something, but you don't see many 18-year-old kids running around with $800 video effect suites.

Things get better.

This gentleman commented in Bree's Myspace:

Following to "My Adolescent Opposite"'s profile, we see... DUN-DUN-DUNHHHHHHHHHH!

Is it a door closing? Is it a window opening? Is the guy just joking around? Stay tuned...

Wikipedia finally undeleted the Lonelygirl15 entry. If you have the time, unlike me, head over there and edit up a nice entry. It deserves it, we worked hard to get the entry undeleted.

John Green asks if Dan Brown might be Lonelygirl15's father. It would be more coherent than his books, that's for sure.

BusinessWeek's Jon Fine, usually a man commenting on more mainstream media content, seems pretty obsessed -- and here presents his email dialogue with the Richard Jewell of the Lonelygirl15 fiasco, Satanic director Brian Flemming.

Our friend Xanax posted in Virginia Heffernan's blog (boy, she seems depressed) that he still thinks it's Flemming.

Flemming adamantly denies it and calls us all a bunch of retards.

And here's an odd post that mentions LG15 and Delmon Young in the same post.

Oh, and apparently LG15 is an alternate reality game.

Back to school. Be good, kiddos.

For the latest Lonelygirl15 news, check the main page.

Germany has latched onto the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon and the debates over whether she's a hoax, scam, fake, authentic, real, or any other adjective one might use to bump up search results. The Frankfurt General Sunday paper had this to say about what has clearly become an obsession for those of us at EW: (translation courtesy the Babelfish [Edit: Babelfish sucked at translating this, I ended up doing it myself])

Frankfurt general Sunday newspaper
COLUMN: Politics (Politics? Leave it to the Germans to make Internet fads political); At present; S. 10
LENGTH: 1097 words
HEADING: Fair of the privacies; The generation Webcam has a new star: "lonelygirl15". Only: Is it also authentic?

TEXT: OF BERTRAM EISENHAUER FRANKFURT.

Thus. Either we hang it high, then we must talk about the French Poststructuralist Michel Foucault and about what he called "technologies of the self". Or we hang the thing substantially lower, which makes it about a girl and a boy, a matter out of America and around it, which the two make in the room of the girl. What darf's its? - imagined I.

Bree thus, the girl, announces herself every three, four days. Sh chats little over homework and books, which it read. At other times the sixteen-year-old girl, shows a a rather melancholischen tendency; first she doesn't want to talk about it, then confesses a controversy with her parents. Those parents had already forbidden, for example, going on a trip going with a certain Daniel, to the boy already mentioned; she had prepared for it, even Eiersalat [Egg Salad?] Sandwiches in such a way, but for one while it looked in such a way, as if Daniel was not allowed to go any further. If now sounds, as if Bree and I would be close to us.

Bree divides their small mostly privacies -- irrelevant for most of the world -- by video message with up to 500,000 further users of the Web Site "YouTube" (in German "DuGlotze"); here she goes by the name "lonelygirl15". "Broadcast Yourself" is the ambiguous slogan of this so-called video Community: "Make your own promo" - and at the same time "Make you to the promo [?]". Daily, then YouTube enumerates, places 35,000 new videos of at the most ten minutes duration. in spring 2005 they started the InterNet platform; between 40 and 100 million downloadeds a day for day one the Filmchen. It is a gigantic video chip bazaar of the global village, on which newscasts appear, likewise, like experimental home productions of sometimes amazing quality, puzzling Japanese television shows just like Stefan Raab and Harald Schmidt, regular music clips just like their Parodies. Two young Asians in basketball shirts about were with their extravaganten Playback version of the Backstreet Boys song "I want It That Way", with simplest means provided, for weeks the heroes of the Web and the photographs of the Rueckenmassage, with the George W. Bush Angela Merkel recently with the G-8-Treffen surprised - troubled, like some mean -, are with YouTube in nearly 50 versions; of it reached more than 340,000 clicks.

Particularly the literally very easy digital technology stimulated the confession urge of the generation Webcam. "lonelygirl15" does not find obviously nothing at all to place a video in the net in that she, with effectively struck down view from her large haselnussdunklen eyes, from a "strange" moment with Daniel - as likewise on-line "danielbeast" - reported. He helps to see her with the cut and in the background of their films had been magazine-reading often; now it had included a video arranged, in which Bree - a beauty of nature with a favourable bone structure anyway - looked owing to numerous slow motion pictures like the expenditure for the rodent [no idea -- but i love it] of "Friends" star Jennifer Anniston, the kokette the hair out the front capers. And because so many of their spectators would have addressed it on it, told "lonelygirl15" further, asked it Daniel simply whether he has her perhaps, well, at the end gladly; it answered, well, actually already and so. "and which also a little is strange at the thing: that Daniel probably watches now." An easy smile into the lens: "good one, Daniel."

Little surprising that this video with well 568,000 Klicks achieved the highest ratingses of all past episodes around the "lonely girl". The fusion of Naivite and authority, from Intimacy and spectator participation: simply irresistible. (Michel Foucault would say, the user there a witness of one of those practices, "with those humans from its life a work to make would seek, which carries certain aesthetic values and corresponds to certain style criteria", but of it you wanted to hear nothing.) Naturally there are such, which grumble her a "weinerliche cow" and worse beside those, which find "lonelygirl15" nice and visit its small continuation dramas again and again. Also they have it quite simply: With its own Web camera and little software can be provided in the hand turning a video comment to the newest Kapriolen of "lonelygirl15" - or also a satire, as those of the user "fortey", who made itself merry over their small girl clay/tone, including their over-clear sad Ausatmer.

Particularly to meet the Webcam Girl must meanwhile a suspicion: It is not a Schwindlerin, older, than it indicates, Amateur, but a professional one, an actress on the hunt for a television appearance possibly. It would not be the first talent, that would have been recommended with YouTube for larger; also the "New York Times" reminded already halfironically: "does someone give its own transmission to lonelygirl15 in broadband Hollywood, ' finally?" One the "lonelygirl15"-Kritiks- "gohepcat" steps themselves with verspiegelter sun glasses and straw cowboy hat before the own camera - feels it also as charming, but "a little too perfectly". The "dramatic elbow" of history around Bree and Daniel is, their allegedly spontaneous comments would sound "almost shakespearehaft" as after film script, it is too well illuminated. Why have, he asks, someone one month before Brees first appearance with YouTube register the address lonelygirl15.com for a fan Web Site? In addition, in summary finds "gohepcat": "if it is completely falsified, is brilliant." Another YouTube user commentated: "it is no matter whether it is falsified or not. It is maintenance, like television." Perhaps also "lonelygirl15" suspects and "danielbeast", how virtual its fame could be. After they the first public crisis of their relationship - which is in all other respects not yet clearly certain - behind itself had brought, placed it a video on-line, which showed Bree at the telephone. Faded in among them the wording of the discussion, which caused allegedly desired clarifying of the situation: - which you make afterwards? - Nix special. - desire to turn a video? - about what? - white not. This telephone call? - wouldn't that be boring? - Oh. Yes.

--

Well. There you go. Michel Foucault, everyone, and I'd like to thank the city of Frankfurt for doing my forthcoming article in Journal of Popular Culture for me.

The debate rages at Wikipedia over whether or not Lonelygirl15 should have an entry in the online encyclopedia. If you have an account, please go to the Deletion Review and chime in (preferably supporting Undelete) about the matter. It blows my mind how many Wikipedia editors think this is a non-issue, despite the fact that GERMANS ARE WRITING ABOUT IT AND SENDING IT THROUGH THE MICHEL FOUCAULT WRINGER.

Meanwhile, the kids over in the Lonelygirl15.com forums are trying to locate where in the world Carmen Webdiego might actually be -- I asked for closet botanists and horticulturists to give me a hand with that in my last post. Certainly, finding a place that has deer, gophers, and hummingbirds can't be that difficult. So far, it looks like West Texas or southern Oklahoma are the best bets.

Today's media:

Ben Werdmuller says this is the beginning of a long trend of viral marketing.
Matthew Ingram draws the Alice in Wonderland allusion.

On a final note, I want to express some amusement at the developing aspects of this story. The kiddos at the lg15.com forum have been wondering, as have many of us, how the identities of Bree and Daniel have remained so clouded for so long. Clearly, some clever kids are more apt at concealing identities than the CIA. Take note, Bush Administration.

And finally -- finally -- I think some of you are taking this too seriously. Yes, there's something strange afoot, but you all are so anxious to posit identities that you're getting way ahead of yourself. As one poster, named "skinkles," in Jon Fine's article thread (which, incidentally, has driven the majority of traffic here in the past twelve hours) has proposed, Bree is none other than actress Annie Kehoe. Let's look at the evidence.

Um, no.

Have a good day, kiddos! Happy first day of school! Auf Wiedersehen!

Click "Main" above (or the banner) for the most recent Lonelygirl15 news.

Before Lonelygirl15, a short rant.

While with some friends at Al Lopez Park on Saturday afternoon, my car was broken into (through the roof!) with dozens of witnesses, my new iPod stolen, et cetera, the Tampa Police took hours to come, and all the witnesses informed me "no hablo ingles." Fantastic. This is why I don't live in Hillsborough County. It sucks, and is full of criminals.

Yet my server stats (and emails -- hi Kyle! Hi Steve!) tell me you're more interested in Lonelygirl15. Fine. Here's the latest -- and it gets awfully juicy.

Virginia Heffernan, always on the ball with this stuff, points to Brian Flemming's analysis which she calls "too excellent." Flemming is a controversial filmmaker and is, apparently, A Satanist.

Flemming has some ideas about what we might be seeing soon:

I'm imagining the creators of this project scrambling right now to get the Bree actress back on the set and do some damage control. But who knows what has changed since the first series of videos was shot? Does the Bree actress look the same? Is the bedroom available? Does it look the same? I'm half-expecting Bree to show up, suddenly referencing current events and responding to YouTubers -- but she has a new haircut and her family has moved to a new house.

It's particularly creepy how after several months no one has come forward who claims to know Bree or Daniel. Certainly, Bree being "homeschooled" makes her a bit of an isolated individual, but Daniel allegedly is not homeschooled. Has no one recognized him yet? I've always thought he looks a bit old for his age....

Anyway, Heffernan fired back with accusations that Flemming himself is behind Lonelygirl15. Let's look at the evidence:

Flemming is a Satanist.
Flemming has made films questioning Christianity.
Flemming made a film about a young girl discovering Satanism. The film, formerly known as The Beast (relation to Danielbeast?), is now known as Danielle.

(The above is really courtesy Jon Fine at BusinessWeek. Fine's been chasing this case a long way, and had an interesting clue given to him: I got a very brief email in response to messages I sent to lonelygirl15 on youtube, which was signed Bree and very politely declined my request for an interview. Which came from an email address that had Bree in its name--but showed up in my email box as coming from Jane Jones. Jane Jones is very close to being a totally ungoogle-able name, and couldn't sound more like an alias if it was Jane Doe. This may mean nothing, but there's at least one major theatrical credit to a Jane Jones. )

Meanwhile, the kid who is responsible for making these connections, some Myspacer named Snoop, or Xerxes, or Bill Cosby depending on who he's talking to, alleges also that the woman found kicking off the trailer to Flemming's The God Who Wasn't There is OUR OWN BREE!!! See for yourself... I think he's nuts.

Maybe there's a relation, but I don't think "Joy" is "Bree." The doe-eyes aren't there.

Snoop/Xerxes/Bill Cosby's posts to the already-dubious Lonelygirl15.com are being deleted, so let your imagination run wild with this one, kiddos. For what it's worth, Flemming posted this a few days ago, after his first investigation into Lonelygirl15:

Adapting the epistolary novel form to YouTube still has some promise, however. I'm certainly ready to be fooled by another one. Or perhaps to perpetrate one.

Unless I really did perpetrate this one and I'm just trying to distance myself from it because it's now failing.

Just kidding.

You know me. I'd never try to fool anybody like that.

Anyway, I'd like to take this in a different direction. It's my opinion that the video of the hiking trip can reveal a whole bunch about where we're going with this. I need an expert horticulturist or botanist. I believe that anyone with significant background in plants can take one look at this video and determine in what geographic location it was recorded. I'm not a plants guy... usually. So I'm not the one to ask. Find your plant-expert friends and have them watch this clip. I really want to know where this was recorded.

Macbrick | Weakened | Lonelygirl15 links

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Click "Main" above (or the banner) for the most recent Lonelygirl15 news.

Apple has announced two separate battery recalls in the past week, one for G4 iBook and Powerbooks, and one for Macbook pros. Interestingly, my Macbook battery died yesterday -- and it's not covered in either recall. So it's off to the Apple Store at International Plaza today to consult with the Genius Bar and use my AppleCare account for the first time. The worst part about the battery being dead is that the 1.8GHz Intel Core Duo slows down to 1.0GHz when the battery's not working -- this is, apparently, by design.

Things have been interesting here at the Weakly. Not only is traffic up by a measure of 10x, we've had an interesting episode on local radio, where an email sent to WDAE PM Drive sports talk host Steve Duemig regarding the FCC and ESPN was reported as "I've just received an email from someone at Entertainment Weekly..." after which he read the email. If I'd been driving, I would have crashed into something, I was laughing so hard.

Finally, we'd be remiss to not report on today's blogospheric coverage of the Lonelygirl15 hoax/conspiracy/controversy/fakery/fake/etc phenomenon. First and foremost, the Grande Dame herself, the New York Times, in its print edition today pushed readers toward Virginia Heffernan's blog to read about Lonelygirl15. Heffernan's been printing excerpts of emails she's received from Bree, and also reveals an interesting post in her comments where she claims not to be a Christian.

So the plot thickens a bit.

Our (Albanian? Really?) friend Milowent informed us of a new post by Daniel in which he very clumsily admits he's headed to Bree's play -- but not to videotape it. It makes a man wonder what kind of play Thelemans put on. I have to imagine it's something like Sweeney Todd.

Fred draws an interesting comparison to William H. Gibson's book Pattern Recognition. The growth of YouTube makes Gibson's plot almost seem... well, Gibsonian.

Even branding guru Jack Yan has gotten in on the act. His take?

It’s sophisticated marketing, and an example of how we do not expect monolithic, portal-like brands on the modern World Wide Web. Not everything needs to be at a Yahoo! domain—the prevalence of Gmail accounts, even for businesses, is an example. We now expect certain (even a lot) things to be “outsourced” to external domains—hence, there is no sin for a large company to have a blog on Blogger, or a network to put videos on YouTube itself. If anything, this shows a connection to the public, a shift toward the One model that my friend Stefan Engeseth writes of in his book.
So far, Lonelygirl15 has played this marketing game according to this new book—I shall be interested to see what emerges from this point. Whether she is promoting something else, or herself, you have to admit this has a massive audience.

It's growing. And when the mystery's finally revealed -- or exposed -- it's gonna rock us all like a hurricane.

Lonelygirl15 -- the ball rolls onward

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For the latest Lonelygirl15 news, check the main page.

The Lonelygirl15 phenomenon is steamrolling forward, with some more major-market journalists giving it attention and some curious insights from other bloggers.

The New York Times' Virginia Heffernan outlines the myriad possible identities and motivations for Bree's bizarre narrative line in a great article here. I particularly like her calling it the "Dreyfus Affair" of our generation. Most interesting is the fact she seems to have been in consistent email dialogue with Bree -- and the emails are "forthcoming." Of course, one of her responses brings me a bit down to earth:

There’s at least three wars on (Lebanon, Iraq, Sri Lanka), terrorists are running amok, the housing bubble is bursting, the country runneth over with debt, the polar ice caps are melting, New Orleans is rotting… and ‘YouTube’ (television) is somehow ‘Important’. Wake up people!

Quit being such a killjoy, "Steve."

Meanwhile, today's Chicago Tribune took on the Lonelygirl15 issue:

Everyone loves lonelygirl15. Well, almost everyone. The doe-eyed coquette has almost 10,000 subscribed fans who seemingly adore her every word and roll of the eye.

The wistful teen is one of the latest additions to youtube.com's A-list of self-made, pajama celebrities.
The YouTube pop star calls herself Bree and says she's a home-schooled high schooler confined to her castle by strict parents. Armed with a pink boa, purple monkey and sidekick danielbeast, a.k.a. Daniel, Bree's video posts have garnered as many as 500,000 page views on one short film.

Bree's series of videos has even generated thousands of spin-off parodies, commentary and conspiracy videos in a community of unlimited growth.

In the past month, in fact, Lazy Dork, a 28-year-old attorney from Miami, challenged lonelygirl's popularity in a video labeling her an uninnovative bore. Now, Lazy Dork, code-named rickyste, is one of the top 30 most subscribed users on the site.

The lawyer said he posted the video as part of his mission to encourage people to promote and support quality videos on YouTube. "It's incomprehensible that people get so much fame for not really doing anything," he said. He and Bree currently are trading video barbs on the site.

This girl recognized one of her brother's songs used in one of the videos. The music was released under a Creative Commons license, allowing it to be remixed but for non-commercial uses. Others have recognized an almost exclusive use of Creative Commons-licensed music in the montages. A clue to authenticity, or vice versa?

My roommate, Jenn, asked me what I thought the elaborate ruse was designed to promote. Considering the introduction of ad-based revenue to YouTube, I figured it was selling nothing more than YouTube itself. Yet this comment in a post at Stereogum might be the most telling. It would also be the baddest-ass of all possible outcomes. I hope to high hell that this is what Lonelygirl15 is all about:

I think the word "fake" is incorrect.

I think the proper term is "someone's grad school thesis project on meta-trends and media manipulation."
Posted by: Skatelip at August 23, 2006 2:14 PM

Please, please, please have something to do with academia :-)

Lonelygirl15: The hoax debate at a national level

For the latest Lonelygirl15 news, check the main page.

While debate rages in the Wikipedia Talk Page for Lonelygirl15 (note how I keep bringing up new, mainstream news references that are completely ignored by the Wikipedia admins), and discussion continues in Costa's thread and the one here, a shot has been fired across the bow of authenticity. The pirate captain? New York Magazine's Adam Sternbergh.

In the upcoming 28 August issue, Sternbergh contributes the far-from-equivocatedly titled "Hey There, Lonelygirl;
One cute teen's online diary is probably a hoax. It's also the birth of a new art form." He talks about YouTube at length, but here's the parts we care about:

There are thousands of people who post video ­diaries on YouTube, and, by all rights, Lonelygirl15 should be just as annoying as the rest of them. Even more so, actually, since in all likelihood, Lonelygirl15 is a fake. She's a suspiciously photogenic teen who films first-­person confessionals in her bedroom, detailing the dramas of her so-called life. Most of them revolve around her ­study-buddy Daniel, who secretly (okay, not so secretly--is anything a secret in the YouTube world?) has a crush on her. This is all supposedly done without the knowledge of her religious, homeschooling parents. From her first video, posted June 16, she's doled out new chapters in two-­minute chunks, each with an alluring title such as "Boy Problems," "Dad 'Talks' to Daniel," and "What Did Daniel and Dad Talk About?" And lots of viewers are caught up in her micro-soap; her videos have totaled almost 2 million views, her "channel" is the fourth most popular on YouTube, and the New York Times' Virginia Heffernan recently lobbied for her to get her own TV show.

Along the way, people have started questioning whether she even exists, and for good reason: She's just a little too charming, her videos a little too well edited, and her story a little too neatly laid out. As such, her saga's taken on the brimstone whiff of ­viral marketing. Some skeptical YouTubers are posting short films dedicated to debunking her, while others wave a smoking gun: The domain name for her fan site was registered a month before her first video went up.

That's a little harsh. I don't think anyone's questioning whether Bree exists, just whether her story is fabricated or not. I'm pretty sure she's not an animatronic robot. It's the response from the YouTube community regarding Lonelygirl15's authenticity that really draw Sternbergh's attention:

Wouldn't this be the ultimate viral-marketing technique--to create not only the cute-girl phenomenon but the she's-a-fake controversy as well--And what about the other characters? Et tu, Headset Nerd? Of course, not everyone commenting on Lonelygirl can be part of the hoax (if it is a hoax). But they're all, in their own way, now part of her story. And presto: Just like that, Lonelygirl's tale goes from Web-based melodrama or viral-­marketing trickery toward something like a brand-new art form. It's the birth of WikiTV: a television show created by a broad community of participants and built not of sequential, hour-long episodes, but of two-­minute interconnected parcels. The story line is both linear (will Daniel get the girl?) and expansive (enter the Mirrored Cowboy!), and anyone can join in. I, for example, could don a tuxedo and eye patch, and post a video claiming that the Cowboy's a double agent. Then someone could post a video refuting me, now known as the Dapper Pirate.

Which means that, of all the possible outcomes to the Lonelygirl story, the one in which she actually turns out to be just some cute teen with preternatural editing skills will be the least interesting of all. The second-least-interesting outcome--and the one I dread, and half-expect--is that once her page views reach critical mass, she'll start popping open the Mountain Dews and talking about how deliciously refreshing they are.

The best scenario is that she's a sleeper agent in the employ of MTV, or VH1, or some as-yet-unidentified entity, and that others will follow her fictional lead. Imagine how much fun J.J. Abrams of Lost could have with a YouTube-based conspiracy story. Or forget that--imagine what fun you could have with a camera, a computer, and a catchy idea. Of course, as a necessary side effect, YouTube will be flooded with crap. (Or even more flooded with crap.) But the weak story lines will wither and the smartly crafted ones will blossom, just as Lonely­girl's have. And maybe this, and not some NBC shows for sale on iTunes, is the future of television--or the promised land of a new narrative form. If so, we might look back at Lonelygirl15 as Moses with a monkey puppet.

Moses? Unlikely. Aleister Crowley? More likely.

John Green wonders whether this isn't marking the dusk of traditional narrative and the dawn of the multi-element story:

I also wonder whether the eventual response to the paucity of realishness in books will be to abandon them altogether, at least in their book form, and instead to create narratives that combine textual and non-textual elements, like Bree and Daniel, or all the LOST stuff. Forty years from now, will the magic of books seem like snake oil compared to the heady narcotic of the really-realish hypertextual novel?

Part of me hopes that's the case, and part of me is horrified by the thought.

Irony? | The Lonelygirl15 debate

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Be sure to visit the Main Page for the most recent Lonelygirl15 updates.

In what is certain to ignite a fire in his Wikipedia-hating soul, Costa's blog is being used as justification for the existence of an article on... Wikipedia.

The issue? The great Lonelygirl15 debate. As in active discussion on CT's original post here, the nature of Lonelygirl15 is in considerable question.

It's my opinion that she's a hoax. Why?

1. The Aleister Crowley stuff is just too weird. Lighting candles in front of a framed photo of a man who was, in essence, a Satanist? I'm pretty sure there aren't summer camps for Satanic kids.
2. The editing, video quality, etc are too high quality for a couple high school kids.
3. If her parents really are that strict, they wouldn't allow her to be alone with a boy with the door closed. Did ANYONE's parents allow them to be alone with a member of the opposite sex with the door closed?
4. Her Lonelygirl15.com URL was registered VIA PROXY before she ever posted her first video on YouTube.

There's other reasons, but they aren't important. What *is* important is that there's no Wikipedia entry about Bree, Danielbeast, or anything lonelygirl15-related. The Wikipedia talk page gives reasons why editors argue there shouldn't be a page on the debate:

1. Lack of verification
2. Lack of citations
3. Lonelygirl15 is not notable

In response to the argument wondering why Ellen Feiss has an entry but Lonelygirl15 cannot, editor Brian replied:

Ellen Fleiss has many newspaper articles, magazine articles and even tv spots that reported on her. LG15 doesn't have any coverage. It doesn't matter if LG15 has 3 billion views at YouTube. All that matters is news, magazine, book, or other reputable source coverage. What is so hard to understand about that?

That response was written today at 1:30pm. Of course, there have been plenty of mainstream media references to Lonelygirl15:

New York Newsday, Cover Story, 17 August, by Megan Chan "Channeling into a new generation"
Denver Post, 1 August, "Click These"
Inside Bay Area, 23 July, by Candace Murphy "Today's kids have their own outlets for creativity"
The Times of London, 19 August, by Jonathan Richards "Worldwide acclaim for lonely girl"
AgoraVox, 21 August, by Matthew Ingram "What Is YouTube Good For?"

However, not all of those were easily accessible, and some weren't published yet when a Wikipedia user argued for a significant media presence by giving Population Statistic as an example. Editor Brian's response?

OK, for the Populationstatistic.com, it doesn't count as it's a blog.

Doesn't count? DOESN'T COUNT? If it was my blog, MAYBE he'd have a point, but it's my contention that all blogs count, and a blog like CT's more than counts. In fact, it's blogs that render the mainstream media pointless when it comes to the major internet debates of the day.

Tens of millions of people have watched the Lonelygirl15 videos. Yet there's no space to record the developments, the controversies, and the speculation for posterity? Because people like Brian decide that's not Wikipedia's for?

Maybe we should take a look at Brian's Wikipedia profile.

 Brian is a Director on YouTube.com
Brian is a Director on YouTube.com

So wait! The guy most opposed to the presence of Lonelygirl15 on Wikipedia is himself a video blogger! She is a competitor of his so of course he's going to want to diminish her importance... he probably feels inadequate that some teenaged girl is getting more attention than he is.

Anyway, the point of this was that CT is influencing decisionmaking on the very media he criticizes so heavily, and without even knowing it, and that's a fantastic coincidence. It's also a testament to his broad and enviable readership, or at least his ability to draw Google hits.

The baby with no name

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I'm not sure where I'm landing on the whole "Did John Karr kill JonBenet" case. I have, however, recognized an interesting and disturbing characteristic of the depiction of an infamous and long-ago crime.

From the New York Times:

It was not immediately clear when investigators began focusing on Mr. Karr as a potential suspect in a widely talked about case that some commentators had compared to the kidnapping and killing of the Lindbergh baby in 1932.

You've been hearing this a lot, right? That JonBenet was the most famous kidnapping/killing since "the Lindbergh Baby."

Why, 74 years later, are we still using such archaic terminology? THE LINDBERGH BABY HAD A NAME! Its name was, in the parlance of our times, CHARLES JR. Or just "Junior."

I realize the possibility of confusion relating to the name being the same, but that confusion exists every time a Jr. picks up the home phone (or when yours truly visits a gated community where both Sr. and Jr. live, and the gate officer calls the wrong house). Yet "Charles Lindbergh Jr." (technically he was III but in the parlance of their times Junior was exactly that: Charles Jr.) appears... nowhere. It's always "Lindbergh baby."

How many people today know the Lindbergh baby was male? Nobody, unless you've read the fantastic book Crime of the Century (formerly known as The Airman and the Carpenter) by Ludovic Kennedy. It's easily the best book on the trial and execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann. The movie starring Stephen Rea and Isabella Rosselini is fantastic as well.

Anyway, my point is this: it's 2006, and yet the media is still neutering poor Charles Lindbergh, Jr. by calling him "the Lindbergh baby." The child was nearly two years old!


Background on the Lindbergh, Jr. kidnapping

Metrics with no baselines | Banned from LiveJournal

I received my evaluations back from Spring Semester today. I seem to have done pretty well; on a 5-point Likert, ranging from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor), my mean was above 4.5 on all eight questions. "Overall rating of instructor" was 4.67.

Of course, without knowing what the mean scores for these questions are among the other doctoral students, or indeed, among the faculty, how am I supposed to know how well I am doing?

At Muskingum, they provided metrics on mean scores among all faculty to have a baseline against which to prove myself. Am I deficient in one aspect of my teaching compared to others? I could find things to work on.

It doesn't help that my students refused to be critical of me in their written comments. Here is a sample of answers to "What were the strongest features of this course?":

instructor enthusiasm and knowledge of subject
Tim Burke helped to make it even more interesting. His lectures are easy to pay attn to
Instructor: great personality great humor very knowledgeable about everything overall great guy
I liked how the material was related with good examples
Outgoingness of instructor. His willingness to give examples
The instructor by far was the strongest feature of this course
instructor motivated us to come to class, lots of enthusiasm
he is positive and made you want to come to class every day
funny and energetic

etc, etc. 38 comment sheets, zero critical comments.

If they're really concerned about making us better teachers, they need a stronger evaluative system. Providing us data on mean scores of the quantitative data would be a step in the right direction. Otherwise, I might suck as a teacher and not even know it.

--

In other news, I've been banned from Livejournal. I don't know why, exactly, but I can't access the site AT ALL. I can't even go to the main page. It appears they think I am a googlebot or something like that. It says it's a temporary ban, so we'll wait and see. It comes at an interesting time, as I was planning on cutting Livejournal off entirely this weekend anyway. Since more people use livejournal than, say, entertainmentweakly.com, my defunct Livejournal was stealing search results from EW. So everything was going to turn private over on that side anyway... and will be, whenever LJ lets me access their site again. Why am I a paid member there, again?

Oh, and I think I'm going to have to upgrade to MT 3.3 here soon, because stuff is starting to get a little clunky around here.

Rays game tonight -- go Tribe? I think? Go Rays? Luckily the one Rays-Tribe series last year happened while I was in Las Vegas and I didn't have to make these decisions.

Best. Soda. Ever.

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My Best Soda Ever list is rarely modified.

Junior High: Cherry 7up
High School: Kick (remember this post? Probably not, since it was like the second or third post I ever made)
College: Faygo Orange
Grad School: Schweppe's Ginger Ale
2003-2005: Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale
2005-2006: Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi
2006, August:

Diet Pepsi Jazz: Strawberries & Cream

Seriously, this stuff is freakin' awesome. It makes Wild Cherry taste like Faygo Diet Moon Mist. Find it now, unless you live somewhere it's not sold, which might be everywhere (I had to search like hell to get that link).... anyway, I could totally see the traditional Wimbledon snack being taken over by Diet Pepsi Jazz: Strawberries & Cream. It tastes like those "[X] and cream" suckers that were popular back in the early 1990s.

You know, the Lifesaver ones. They were only the best suckers ever. They're probably not made anymore.

It's summer, 1991. I'm twelve years old and getting ready to start the eighth grade. With the reality of having my mom for teacher the next year looming over my head, I busy myself and hide from my anxiety in two pastimes: playing baseball, and watching MTV. And it's the summer MTV introduces its last great innovation -- an innovation as simple as playing with blocks.

Not only does MTV still play videos in 1991, they really make an effort to reach out to diverse music audiences. Into hip-hop? Watch in the afternoon for Fab Five Freddy, Fat Dr. Dre and Ed Lover's Yo! MTV Raps Today. Evenings feature the Top 10 Countdown, and there is always the frightening Riki Rachmann's Headbanger's Ball on Saturday night.

I'm pushing hard against adolescence in a podunk farm town. Thank God for cable TV! MTV is my conduit to the pop culture world, and the "block" system presents the summer's hits to me in a convenient, portioned format.

Rap Blocks feature D.J. Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince's Summertime, Marky Mark's Good Vibrations, and LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out.

Rock Blocks hit you as hard as they can with Van Halen and Right Now, The Scorpions' Wind of Change, and Damn Yankees' High Enough (awesome sunglasses!). And oh, yeah, there's the new video from the first single off Metallica's new self-titled (or untitled) album. That one's particularly popular.

Pop Blocks introduce me to C & C Music Factory, who pledge they're Gonna Make You Sweat. Pop Blocks also play that Robin Hood video by Bryan Adams a lot and the double-alphabet combo of EMF and The KLF (my favorite video EVER) are part of the Pop Block schema.

Finally, you have Hit Blocks. Hit Blocks sort of combine whatever's popular at the moment, so you might have Amy Grant's Baby, Baby or R.E.M. and Losing My Religion or Boyz II Men's Motownphilly or Mariah Carey's Emotions.

Somehow, Paula Abdul's fancy Keanu Reeves-a-thon Rush, Rush manages to get played in every block.

Tonight I'm watching the Top 10 and there's a premiere tonight. It's a video that doesn't get an introduction from the veejay, but it pretty much speaks for itself. For five minutes my best friend Todd Stults and I stare at the screen. The song is beautiful. The cinematography is beautiful.

The girl is beautiful.

And I am forever changed as a human being. I see the world in a sexual way -- a way I hadn't even considered before. I know it was an important moment because even Adam Curry came on after showing the video, his jaw dragging along the floor, and managed to say,

"That's the hottest video ever made, and I think it'll be the hottest video forever."

Todd and I can't look at each other for several minutes after the video ends. And then we go back to behaving like kids. Except, at least for me, I feel a bit less like a kid.

And tomorrow I'm gonna buy the CD.


Fifteen years. Fifteen freakin' years since sitting on that beat-up sofa in the basement with the springs that stuck you in the back if you leaned the wrong way.. 1991 was a badass year for music -- and video. All the videos linked above are great songs with great videos (most of them the best video that act produced). And what I mentioned is just the beginning. It was a time when the music controlled MTV rather than vice versa. It's very possible Summer 1991 marks the zenith in American pop music -- a curve that began trending downward with the September release of a certain little record called Nevermind. Discussing the music of Summer 1991, however, is for future posts.

Tonight one of my favorite performers sang his signature song on Leno's Tonight Show. I don't watch Leno, but I usually catch his musical act while waiting out the gap between the [adult swim] midnight show (currently Pee-Wee's Playhouse) and Conan. And when he sang, in his perfectly-tailored suit, strumming that enormous Gibson, being a g*d man, the kind I want to be... well, those fifteen years melted away as easily as a scoop of ice cream on a Clearwater sidewalk.

I've never tested it, but I'm pretty sure that the majority of straight men and women alike would find Chris Isaak's video for Wicked Game more sexually titillating than anything Justice Potter Stewart might have "known when he saw it." The black-and-white video puts you into a trance; Herb Ritts' brilliant shooting, the simple, throbbing shuffle bass beat, and the slllllllllllow slide guitar servce as surrogate to the hypnotist's watch. Helena Christensen's complete lack of clothing or facial expression just add to the heat. As one YouTuber notes, even her nail police is perfectly chipped.

Seriously, all y'all be bustin' it up on the dance floor to your booty shake music... you're several degrees of magnitude below this sh*t.

And yet 1991 is years after "Wicked Game" was released. And the Ritts video, the one we can't help but see in a mind's eye projection whenever we hear the heavy delay-reverb of the Gibson guitar and silky Isaak falsetto, isn't the original video.

Heart Shaped World was already almost two years old by the time the Ritts video hit MTV around this time fifteen years ago. Whatever inclined them to take another shot at success as a single baffles me, but even more baffling -- considering the content and nature of the video we all know and love -- is who directed the original video:

David Lynch.

And boy, is it appropriately Lynchian. Go ahead, check it out for yourself.

Freaky, ain't it? Watching a music video that has the music, but visuals that make you want to slit your wrists, compared to usual, which makes you want to...

Quarter to three. Time for bed.

Back in action

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Entertainmentweakly.com and its associated networks are back online. And I am still, a week later, sick. Not sneezing and coughing so much anymore as general malaise. Curse you, Vegas.

We're slowly working on compiling Vegas Stories for future use. There will be maybe 20-30 of them at the least. All will be short snippets that you'll get on a daily basis. The themes will include celebrities beating me up, public exposure (you'll remember that was a theme of last year's trip, as well), Captain Morgan, and the realization that if you give your phone number to a girl, she's never going to call you. So never give your number to a girl. Ever.

Unless, of course, you don't want to be bothered.

Home! And the WSOP

I'm home. Busy doing laundry and decompressing.

If you have a soul, you'll read Pauly's take on the cultural nature of this year's WSOP. He encapsulates everything about the sexual and corporate nature of this year's tournament perfectly.

If you want to see the haggard face of a man nine days into his Las Vegas trip, look on.

I hope our entry title isn't too cliche... Last night featured some blunders we'll discuss later. For now, the Tim Burke World Tour 2006 rolls onward. From here it's to Memphis, Detroit, Toledo and finally Napoleon. Today's travel span started with the cab at 10am (PDT) and will end with my rental rolling up on Naptown at 1am, give or take.

Oh, and the shoes match the suit, in case you were wondering.

God bless McCarran Airport for their free WiFi and ugly-ass purple carpet. The feet inside those argyle socks and white buck shoes are hurting like hell, having been through some nasty abuse at the hands of my Stacy Adams. We'll explain it all when we get home.

WSOP... again

Live from the World Series of Poker Main Event, yet again. Today I'm standing at a table across from Adam, Dan, and Lenny from Pocket Fives. They're here covering the Main Event and, like me, do not have press passes. They've made their own little office next to the Doyle's Room suite, and next to the security guard who won't let them in the press room. It's where we sit and poach guys who do have passes, though the Pocket Fives guys are actual journalists compared to me.

There they are.

They just ended break. Poker Stars Blog has been covering a lot of the Poker Stars qualifiers, and wrote an article about Dave Matthews, the guy from Dayton I've been hanging out with all week.

You can read the article and see a picture of him here. It's an interesting case of mistaken identity -- though not in the way you'd expect.

I gotta run. Going to a baseball game tonight of all things.

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    This page is an archive of entries from August 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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