Friday, April 11, 2008


WARNING: What follows will quite possibly be the nerdiest post in the history of Crushed by Inertia. You've been warned.

I did not realize Twitter had rules. Apparently, it does. Elaborate, unspoken rules governing conduct. What I'm saying is, I may have accidentally violated a Twitter rule. Even worse, I actually feel kind of bad about it. That's where I'm at right now, in my life...I'm actually concerned about my conduct on Twitter.

The whole thing started when my boss, @JasonCalacanis, encouraged his legion of followers (the "Jason Nation") to follow me. See, I feel like, if someone goes out of their way to follow me on Twitter, I should in turn follow them back.

This is not just common courtesy (although, if you asked me, it sort of is...what fun is a one-way conversation?) Twitter only makes sense if you follow lots of people, including some people you don't know.

When I first signed up, I only had a few friends. Most of them were in my office. It was dull. Not because we were boring. We just didn't need Twitter. We were all sitting right there.

Now that 1,000 people are following me, and I'm in turn following almost 1,000 people, my Twitter feed is actually kind of amazing. At the very least, it's functioning on different levels.

1. News feed

Twitter is just a collection of people commenting on whatever they are doing, reading, hearing or watching. Following 1,000 people means you're getting updates on several different current events at any given time. Twitter users, I've found, tend to read a lot as well as write, and I now discover 5-10 interesting articles or blog posts per day via strangers.

2. Social outlet

This one's kind of obvious. You can meet interesting strangers, network and get to know acquaintances better if you're just talking to people online all day.

3. Public art project

Now, now, hear me out. Just me writing little snippets about whatever I'm doing is meaningless. But 1,000 people doing it all day every day? Now that's fascinating. Browsing my Twitter feed on a random night is like reading an experimental novel (albeit one with a rather mundane writing style.) People, exhausted, flop down on hotel pillows as others get up, shower and head to work. Someone rants venomously against the cable company as another drinks "primo" at some place called "The Otter."

4. Perspective

I'm not saying that Twitter gives you an accurate, scientific sense of where people stand on anything. These 1,000 people I'm following are not evenly spread out around the world - current events in San Francisco get far more attention in my feed than those in, say, Burundi.

But there are people outside of Los Angeles, which is a start. I tend to forget, for example, that anyone remains a global warming skeptic. I haven't spoken to someone who honestly doesn't buy the whole "global warming" thing in a while. On Twitter, I read global warming skepticism constantly.

"Boy, it sure is cold today...Wish they'd send me some o' that global warming stuff."

And we all share a hearty laugh.

Anyway, I've really been enjoying reading my Twitter feed for all these reasons. And I'm not the only one.

However, I was told this evening (by more than one fellow Twitterer) that you're not supposed to follow that many people. That it's rude to follow people about whom you aren't deeply, sincerely interested. The reasoning goes like this: I'm following 1,000 people. I can't possibly read every tweet they write...Even if I had nothing else going on, the come in at a pretty steady clip. Therefore, I'm skipping all the incoming tweets, I won't be able to carry on a conversation and, thus, I'm abusing the system. (Or "spamming," to use their term.)

I'm not sure how widespread a rule this is. In fact, I'd always heard the opposite...that it's rude to not give people the benefit of a follow if they follow you, provided it appears that they actually contribute and don't just send out spam or random messages.

I'd say this rule keeps its adherents from getting the most out of Twitter. Also, I kind of disagree with this reasoning fundamentally. I mean, if I click "follow" on your Twitter page, am I really entering into an unspoken agreement to read everything you write? I frequently reply to random people on Twitter, and respond when people reply to me. It's not at all difficult to keep up conversations, really, provided it's a time I can actually devote some attention away from what I'm doing.

I'm not sure anyone has the expectation that I will copiously read all that they contribute...I certainly don't have that expectation of anyone. I get to what I can get to, and I just assume others are doing the same.

So, anyway, silly rule, I don't subscribe to it, if you follow me (@Lons), I'll most likely follow you back. I do have some Twitter suggestions, though...Not rules, but my own personal guidelines for Twitter conduct.

1. This one should be so obvious. If you're on the East Coast, don't blow what happens on popular shows on Twitter. Let me enjoy Chef Ramsay's put-downs the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

2. No more "Mmmm...[WHAT YOU'RE EATING]" posts. If you want to tell us what you're eating, at least say something more substantive than "mmm." Unless you were once a member of the Crash Test Dummies, and the tweet is meant ironically. (The exception to this would be if you are eating something interesting or exotic. "Mmm...antler soup" would be acceptable).

3. If you're going to set up some system to automatically post updates to Twitter, make sure it doesn't post too often. I don't need to know the status of your XBox Live account every three seconds, DnkeyPncher187, thanks all the same.

4. Don't send out random, aimless invitations. "Hey, anyone wanna go get some coffee?" This is like being the Twitter version of Michael Scott.

5. Don't bother posting a breaking news story if more than 2 hours has already passed. Yes, Charlton Heston died. We know. Very tragic.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Artie Lange Retires To Spend More Time With His Cupcakes, Heroin

Poor Baby Gorilla...After getting into a heated argument with his long-time assistant, the oddly-named "Teddy Microphone," it seems Artie Lange has quit his post at the Howard Stern Show. Too bad. I think he added a lot to the mix, actually, and am very sorry to see him go.

Here's how Mahalo described the incident, which I wasn't listening to because I lamely require at least 3-4 hours of sleep per night:

"While off the air Lange was having an argument with his assistant, "Teddy Microphone," regarding a financial disagreement. When Howard Stern asked that Teddy discuss the matter on the air, the argument escalated...The situation became physical, and the two had to be restrained. After Stern scolded Lange, he offered his resignation."

Apparently, he threatened Teddy's life at one point, and then told Stern "I'm not a good person ... I gotta leave ... I love you." At this point, Artie must just be immune to interventions, as I'm sure people have tried to help him before. But the whole thing seems like a cry for help. (Not to mention that tragic appearance on Donnie Deutsch a few weeks back that I blogged about here).

Some people are just too far gone, I guess...still, it's a shame. He's a really funny, likable guy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Teeming Masses Reminiscent of a Cecil B. DeMille Crowd Scene

The coffee fans really turned out today for the launch of Starbucks' new house blend, the Pike's Place Roast. And as we are with all Earth-shattering events that happen in Santa Monica, California, Mahalo Daily was there:

Monday, April 07, 2008


You ever just wake up with a song in your head that you haven't heard in a while? And then it makes you really want to listen to that song for the rest of the day? Isn't that weird?

Anyway, it happened to me today with Grandaddy's "Chartsengrafs," a great song from the Sophtware Slump LP that I haven't listened to once in probably 16 months. (I didn't even have that album in my iTunes. I had to track down the actual CD today.)

Ended up listening to the whole album. Really good for the most part, with some skippable, meandering tracks along the way. I still prefer Under the Western Freeway.

Mahalo Hot Stunnaz

The Mahalo Hot Stunnaz are in da houze:

Take that, people who don't think we make enough!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I'm not really questioning the basic premise of this New York Times article - that frequent blogging may lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. It's pretty obvious if you think about it. When you blog, you're sedentary. You don't want to take a lot of time away from the computer to cook or go grocery shopping, so you're probably eating junk food and crap. And because the Internet has made people accustomed to a 24-hour news cycle, anyone wanting to stay on top of all breaking stories in their area of specialty may be inclined to skip a few hours sleep each night. It's clearly not as active and healthful a career as being, say, a personal trainer, or high-priced call girl.

But I am questioning whether or not it's appropriate to turn the deaths of two bloggers and the illness of another into a fluffy trend piece like this, based on zero evidence that any of their assorted maladies had anything to do with their occupation. I mean, couldn't three middle-aged men suffering from health problems related to coronary disease within six months of one another be coincidental? A lot of middle-aged men have bum tickers, even ones who spend little to no time on the computer.

The headline on this piece is Bloggers Write Till They Drop. I'm sorry...this is just insensitive and inappropriate. There's no indication that these Marc Orchart or Russell Shaw died as a result of blogging, and even if they had, "drop" is not a polite way to describe someone's passing in a major newspaper. I didn't see "Heston Drops at 84" on any mastheads today. Plus, neither of the deceased bloggers were blogging at the time of their death; Shaw was sleeping!

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

This whole thing strikes me as a really thin basis for a story (I mean, complaining about sleep disorders and weight gain is way different than Death By Blog). It kind of comes off as another subtle swipe by the mainstream media at blogs in general. (Especially all this "it's a young man's game" stuff, which may be true of certain kinds of blogging, but not all...There's plenty of middle aged political bloggers and they all seem to be feeling fine, and ace political blogger Steve Gilliard died young.)

So when will the NYT run a piece about how all journalists and hopeless out of shape alcoholics who either burn out by the time they're 40 or become puppets of a corrupt establishment?

RIP Chuck Heston

Chuck wasn't the greatest actor (and he was kind of a wacko, politically)...but he definitely had a sense of humor:

One need only recall his brilliant cameo in Wayne's World 2 to know the guy could laugh at himself.

And though his performances tended towards the overblown and cheesy, the guy wound up in a lot of notable, and in some cases even classic, films. Touch of Evil, Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, The Ten Commandments, The Three/Four Musketeers, El Cid, Ben-Hur...It's quite a resume.

The Far Horizons
is also kind of a memorable film, though maybe not for the right reasons...It's a weird retelling of the Lewis and Clark story starring Heston and Fred MacMurray. Donna Reed plays Sacajawea, who gets it on with Heston's Clark, much to the chagrin of MacMurray's Lewis and the ludicrous French stereotype who had previously bought her from a warring tribe. This movie confirms that, if you're going to make a movie that's historically inaccurate, it's best to push the inaccuracy as far as it can possibly go.

Again, many of these are not great films, but they are big, memorable films, and Heston is the main, driving presence in them. The guy was a star, and though I was never a huge fan, you've got to give credit where it's due.

Fred Armisen: Professional Sketch Ruiner

Seriously, does anyone really like this guy? The worst is when he tries to do impressions - his Barack Obama is so bad, people wouldn't have been able to tell who he was trying to do without Amy Poehler playing Hillary right next to him. He sounds more like Kermit than Obama.

Last night (I didn't see the show, but caught up with some of it via Hulu), he ruins a perfectly reasonable sketch, in which the entire cast (pretty much) gets a chance to show off their Christopher Walken impressions:

Seriously...maybe this guy is a funny stand-up or something. But he's truly terrible on this show.