Monday, March 30, 2009

Twitter. My first 100 days.

Yes, I really am interested in what you are having for dinner.

My favorite part of traveling across Europe by rail was being seated with total strangers in compartments or facing seats. You conversed. You listened, you learned. Opportunities like this are rare in the USA. You're never seated at a restaurant table with strangers. Make contact with someone you don't know - and you often get the Travis Bickle treatment.

Patches the Pony said "Nay Nay, from strangers stay away." whilst kicking the living shit out of a sexual predator's car door. People fear that talkative strangers have an evil agenda . I'm distrustful myself. My first reaction is, "What does this person want from me?" Are you selling me something? Are you a panhandler? I think I'm being hit on if the conversation is started by the guy at the adjacent urinal. Sometimes (er, often) I'm having a misanthropic moment and don't want to talk to anyone. Sure. I've had a few pleasant exchanges with fellow citizens, but the mutual distrust prevalent in these parts has deprived us of many more.

The part of Twitter that encourages dialogue between strangers appeals to me the most. Everyday face-to-face conversation between friends and family is certainly treasured but is isolating. I'm encouraged to follow someone on Twitter because I find their patter to be entertaining, informative, or refreshing. It is understood that I am not looking for nookie or a BFF. I just want to read what people I don't know are saying. Holding a common interest is not prerequisite to gaining my follow. I don't want to be a guru and I don't need a guru. If I'm following you, I'm reading you.

Just following me isn't going to get you an automatic follow back. Spammers get blocked right off. I'm leery of those who already are following 5000 people and somehow need me in their collection for I am not a MtG card. I allow you to follow, but you'll have to show me some love. If I reply to one of your tweets and don't get acknowledgement, you're blocked.

Most folks will get a follow-back after a day or two . A percentage get immediate reciprocation. These folks put a little consideration into following me.

I am very selective about those I seek to follow. There are a few Twitter celebs that offer such good information that I am not expecting them to follow me back. (Right now, consulting thesaurus for synonym: following.) I have a few folks on board that seem to provide good links to interesting content. A few Twitterers keep me abreast of local events and trends. Some, of course, are friends and relatives.

My cache of Twitter treasures include those with unique views. They are literate. They are not self absorbed. They are unguarded in their messages. They don't care how many people are following them. They are discriminating when following back. These are the kind of people I want in my group. Strangers on a train.

I wrote this in response to those who try to impose their will on Twitter. I don't see the need for tips on how to gain more followers. I do not want to recite the Twitter commandments you have brought down from your lofty mountain. I do not want to be in your inbred group that constantly retweets each other. I don't give a shit about how many followers you have. I do not need to read about your disdain for those who clog up Twitter with non-marketing content. I do want to read about what you had for dinner.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Che, a 4 hour and 23 minute work of art from Steven Soderbergh, is a film I finally was able to see after a six month wait. I can only describe my anticipation as that of a Star Wars fan had when waiting for Episode I - The Phantom Menace to be released.

Syriana and Traffic, also by Soderbergh, rank among my favorites. I have a fascination with the mechanics and process of revolution. The point being here is that this movie was made to order for me. I thought the movie was [insert superlative here]

A review of the film is not in order here, but a description of my experience at the theatre is. Yes. The film is long. The time does not include a 15 minute intermission. It was a "bring your lunch" affair, which I think some patrons actually did. I cut back on liquids and arrived fully fed. A short drink from the water fountain at intermission was all that I required. I might add that Che did not have credits before or after either of the two parts. No coming previews. No movie trivia or ads. No messages. Nada. It started right at 7:15 without warning. Not even a producer's trademark was displayed. Part I and part II opened with a map of Cuba and South America respectively, The nearly 5 hours spent at Indianapolis' Keystone Art Theatre was devoted to watching THE film.

In lieu of showing the credits, viewers were handed a high quality playbill listing the hundreds of artists and technical personnel that worked on the epic. The admission was $15, which for a Saturday night and on a per minute basis, seemed to be a good value. The fact that I went alone defrayed the cost of the evening. Of the 70 or 80 that attended, I counted only six couples. No children attended. The crowd was taciturn. Not a peep. Che would have to rank as the worst date movie EVER.

If you are still not discouraged from seeing this masterpiece in this state, it (will be broken down into two films when begins playing "in theatres, everywhere"); wait. I still have a caveat:
If you do not know much about Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Cuban revolution , and US foreign policy in Latin America, particularly in the mid 2oth century, then this film will not make that much sense to you . Many of the passing references made assume an informed viewer. Soderbergh's style involves cutting to various times and places. This would only add to the confusion. Much of Che Guevara's story is omitted. In part one, the focus is the time between establishment of operations in the Sierra Maestra and the liberation of Santa Clara. In part II, Che's demise in Bolivia is the focus. His largely unsuccessful involvement Castro's revolutionary government is barely mentioned. I hesitate in designating myself a buff. I am, though, well read about the subject of the film.

Lastly, if you idolize the mythical Guevara, or are anywhere right-of center politically, you will probably be hung up by neutral portrayal of Che.

Esoteric, to say the least.