Sunday, September 17, 2006

If 100,000 people comment on this post...

then I'll be surprised by the volume of commentary that Isoceleria has achieved. A bit honored, but overwhelmingly surprised. So here's the deal. If you're a member of the college Facebook-conscious crowd, you probably witnessed the phenomenon of Threesome Dude, aka Brody Ruckus, in the last couple of weeks. If not, here's a quick rundown.

Early September 2006, a Facebook group appears advertising "If this group reaches 100,000 members, my girlfriend will have a threesome." Your personal ethics and mores nonwithstanding, that's a pretty ambitious goal. And one that the Facebook community was perfectly eager to support. The literal hockey-stick growth of this group was nothing less than astounding. A couple thousand members one day, tens of thousands the next, and over 100,000 in a mere few days. Then the landmark was changed: 300,000 members, and he gets to take pictures. Then he got that. The next watershed was supposed to be "Largest group on Facebook lets me shoot videos!" And then, the group pulled a Roanoake.

Next day, it was gone. No more Threesome Guy, no more Universal Goal of Happiness and Unity for Facebook to shoot for, and not even a scrawled Croatoan in its place. Now, its fractious remains stand: "I didn't need a facebook group to get a threesome," "I will blow up my car if this group reaches 500,000 members," etc. So what happened to Mr. Ruckus and his "red-blooded college male" aspirations? Apparently they were not real. And neither was Brody himself.

The whole thing was a put-on, an act, sponsored by Ruckus music. This group, weighing in at nearly 500,000 members at last count, certainly put a strain on the servers. And when Facebook realized that "Brody Ruckus" was not, in fact, a Georgia Tech student, they pulled the plug (more to free resources than out of any spite). So how does Ruckus itself tie into anything? Ruckus gives you free music, legally. Except... wait, you can't burn CDs of what you download, and you can't put their music on an iPod or other sort of mp3 player, and you have to use Ruckus's crappy media player to be able to listen to what you download. Ah, but if you pay a certain rate per song, you have the liberty to do that. Free indeed. Evidently Ruckus has a contract with Georgia Tech that permits this enlightened era of free (except in certain circumstances) music downloading (but not burning or transferring to an iPod). It was supposed to be a big deal. But. judging from popular opinion, most everyone realized how much it sucks and has not used it. Thus the need for Threesome Guy.

So Ruckus has a less-than-accepted music service, and a wildly popular fake Facebook group. How to connect the two? Obviously, with the effort and foresight that Ruckus put into Brody, there's no real "exit strategy." We're not going to have Brody reach the ultimate goal of largest Facebook group, then say "Thanks, guys," and leave with everyone feeling good about themselves. There's still no connection between the product and the advertisement. On the other side of the spectrum, we're not going to have a "Haha, suckers! This has been an advertisment all along!" because that would leave a whole lot of people thinking not such good thoughts about Ruckus. Hardly the desired effect of an advertisement.

The question, then, is what was the real plan? My theory is that it lies in a tenuous, but still existing, thread between the group and Ruckus music. Let's assume for a moment that Brody, if he hadn't been shut down, would have eventually reached his largest group status. So now, time for the videos to get posted to Facebook! These videos, of course, don't exist, but that's okay. Uploading them, of course, would have caused a violation of the Facebook Terms of Service, but that's better than okay. That's the whole point. Brody tells us, "Wow, guys, you are amazing, and so was the sex. Unfortunately, these prudes at Facebook won't let me post the pictures and video." Aww... how sad! People are generally down on Facebook at this point, not seeming to care that they agreed to this silly thing called a "contract" when they joined, and they demand reparations. Facebook won't give them any. (Note that Brody and Facebook would not have had to have any contact at all. This whole "fight" is another part of the ruse.) So enter Ruckus.

The great and magnanimous Ruckus, sensitive to the sexually-frustrated plight of the college student, then tells everyone in the group "We can't give you free porn... but here's some free music." Now, Ruckus is a hero, and everyone in the group goes from being Brody Ruckus fans to simply Ruckus fans. Adbertising mission accomplished.

Currently listening: Quiet is the New Loud, Kings of Convenience

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Initiation and Triumphal Return

Saturday, August 26, 2006: I tell my friend Matt, also a staff member in Glenn, that he probably couldn't guess the strange place where I was the night before. Interestingly, he guessed Beta, which is probably the frattiest fraternity on the Tech campus. While this was an imaginative guess, and in fact in some respects stranger than where I ended up, it was in fact not correct.

Where I was, it turns out, was the Masquerade. The Masquerade is a concert venue in Atlanta that has a part-merited but mostly undeserving reputation for utter degeneracy. (Broken windows and decades-unpainted walls don't exactly help its case.) Concert venue? Not at all strange for a college student. Shady concert venue? Not too strange, considering its prime downtown Atlanta location. The truly strange part was the concert that I was actually seeing.

The friend of mine that organized the venture told me "Zao is toward the hardcore end of metal." Toward? "Okay, so they pretty much are the hardcore end of metal." Add them to a headliner band called Throwdown and (without any description of any music that Throwdown plays) you have a decent image of that concert. Though there are many adjectives that could be used to describe me, "hardcore" probably isn't toward the top of that list. And neither is it toward the top of my musical preferences. The truth was, I had nothing better to be doing that Friday night, and as long as I had friends who were being proactive and constructing something to do, why not go along with it? College is about experiencing things that you'd never ordinarily do... or something like that.

My immediate conclusions regarding the concert were 1) "hardcore" still isn't at the top of my musical preferences and 2) I'm not sure that it's worth it to pay twenty bucks to hear some guy go "Gaaaaaah! Wahh rahh rahh rahh!" into a microphone for three hours. However, a chance encounter at the same Masquerade but a few weeks later added a few thoughts about live concerts in general.

This time, I was going as a favor to a friend who (understandably) didn't want to get raped in downtown Atlanta. Add the facts that this time, the ticket is twelve dollars, not twenty, and I get to spend Friday night with three girls (in a welcomed inversion of the typical Georgia Tech ratio), and I'm there. This one featured a handful of bands that were listenable but unremarkable (see? I don't even remember their names), and headlined by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Now, I had heard the name Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, but I'd never heard their music, and I was far from being able to actually recognize any of their songs. Oh well.

My first impression was a lot better than the one I had at the first concert, because more than one in twenty people were wearing something other than black. In fact, the people here actually looked... dare I say normal? Contrast this to Green Mohawk Guy at the first one. And despite the apparent normalcy at this one, the two were remarkably similar.

Okay, so straight off the bat, mosh pits don't make any sense. Various descriptions of these collected over the past couple of weeks have included "barbarian ritual," "emo kids practicing karate kicks," and by a member of some band or another, "dance moves." I remarked how strange it was that "dance moves" translates into "run into each other as fast as you can." Closely related is crowdsurfing, which basically appears to be "get alternately manhandled and groped while not even being able to stand on your own two feet." The strangest part of these pheonmena is the fact that you can't watch the band while you're doing them. Isn't the point of going to a live concert being able to see the band that's performing? Sure, you can give the "a live show is so much higher energy" argument. But how do you notice that "energy" if you're not paying attention in the first place, instead choosing to change the venue into a gladiatorial arena-sumo wrestling ring hybrid.

With that said, let's examine the "energy" assertion a bit more. Live performances are supposed to be more energetic, closer to a "pure" performance than a recorded one. Is this suggesting that during private practices and shows where the band is not out to prove anything or impress anyone, the guitarists jump around and spin on the stage? I've got a tough time believing that. And I'm forced to conclude that guitar-dancing adds virtually nothing to a live show.

My final and biggest complaint is that people in bands take themselves way too seriously. Is it necessary to swear at the audience between every song? I might be encouraged to jump or nod my head in time with the music if you suggest that... but I'm rather inclined not to when I'm instructed to "nod my [insert expletive here]-ing head!" The lead singer of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus seemed rather put off by the fact that not everyone in the world had been listening to them for the last two years. Apparently some interviewer made the grave mistake of asking him what it felt to be an overnight sensation. His (private) response to us was "We've been around for years. Do your [expletive]ing homework." And a huge cheer from the crowd!

That said... Decemberists concert October 27. Probably no mosh pit there. Anyone interested in going?

Currently listening: "Fantasy," Earth Wind and Fire

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Three Reasons

That Georgia Tech lost to Notre Dame. It had nothing to do with the Irish being a substantially better team; rather a mere few points of contention brought about our loss.

First, Tech’s return coverage sucks. I mean, you get a kickoff that lands nicely on the 15-yard line, or a punt that goes farther than you have any right to expect it to, and suddenly the Irish (or the Bulldogs, the Hokies, the Cavaliers, or any other team that Tech makes a general practice of losing to) are on your 48. Huh? Tech must get better at making sure the other team isn’t handed thirty free yards every time the ball gets kicked.

Second, we had some questionable calls. I’m not one to blame my football misfortunes on the refs… unless there was a call so egregiously bad that it may have cost the game. In this game, we had two. The personal foul call during Notre Dame’s second touchdown drive? I’ve heard two explanations for that one: late hit, and hit to the head. From my vantage point (and bias as a Tech fan) it looked like an in-bound, clean hit to me. Even if there was some incidental contact to the head, it was just that: incidental. Five-yard penalty, not ten. Second was Calvin Johnson’s reception late in the game. This was the only reviewed play in the entire game to be reversed on review… and I’d really like to see what they called “indisputable video evidence.”

Finally... Darius Walker. Need I say more? And to think he was on the verge of going to Tech.

Currently listening: "Brand New Colony," the Postal Service