Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tell me about... your first kiss

The other day I was watching this fascinating talk by Jonathan Harris, a computer scientist and artist who has written brilliant programs that take the temperature of the Internet -- what people are feeling, thinking, writing about at any given moment.

One of the thing he says in the talk is that the same touchstones come up over and over again -- stories from childhood, weddings, deaths, the things that all of us experience in one way or another. We love to tell our own stories, not only because those stories helped form us but because they connect us to one another. Sometimes just telling a tiny part of your story is enough, which is the genius behind sites like PostSecret (warning: If you've never visited PostSecret before, prepare to spend at least an hour there.)

All this is an overlong way of introducing something I'd like to try on this blog every so often. For now I'm calling it "Tell me about..." but holler if you've got a better title. I'll throw out a common experience, and you tell your story in the comments.

Here's the first: Tell me about... your first kiss.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Readin' and rockin'

If you're free tonight, swing by the Visulite Theatre at 7:30 for the launch party for the new book "Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas." There's music from Steve Stoeckel, the Local Tomatoes and the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, plus readings from John Grooms, Sheila Saints and yours truly. I have made the dubious decision to read an essay that reveals my shameful connection to the Captain and Tennille. Come at your own risk.

My essay is (at least partly) about how you hang onto some of the music you loved as a kid. I wasn't exactly a kid when this came out -- I was 19 -- but it was on MTV, when MTV still mattered, and when I was 13 or 14 and we didn't have cable there was nothing better than going to my friend Virgil's house and gorging on MTV. I heard this on the radio the other day and it all came rushing back. So feel free to add your guilty childhood pleasures in the comments, but for now, you know this much is true:

Friday, May 09, 2008

E-mail disaster stories

I've been meaning to write about how someone on the Hillary Clinton campaign has a fine future in telemarketing. During the run-up to the N.C. primary, Clinton sent more e-mails than the Nigerian finance minister or even the nice people offering natural male enhancement.

Some days I'd get eight or nine e-mails from the Clinton folks, notifying me of everything from Maya Angelou's endorsement to a Chelsea Clinton appearance with the singer Sophie B. Hawkins (you might remember her from the song "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover", although I'm not sure that's quite as good as Barack Obama getting the nod from Bruce Springsteen).

Reporters tend to get more of this stuff than regular voters, but I'm wondering how many of you got peppered with Hillary e-mails -- and whether, after a while, they were more annoying than energizing.

(The e-mails from the Obama campaign always ended up getting caught in my spam filter. Make any symbolic point you'd like from that.)

Somehow this dovetails with this Freakonomics post about e-mails that get sent to the wrong person with disastrous results.

When I was at my first job we had a primitive version of e-mail that assigned each person in the office a three-digit number -- to send that person a message, you sent it to the number. I was on the night shift and was dating a co-worker. I wrote her a note -- nothing racy, something like "can't wait to get together after work" -- punched in her three-digit number and hit send.

Except it wasn't her three-digit number. It was the three-digit number that sent a message to the whole newsroom.

Did I mention that we had computers that beeped when you got a message?

One by one, I heard every computer start beeping... and then saw every person in the newsroom peering over their cubicles at me.

Not good times.

So what's your biggest e-mail horror story? Confess away in the comments.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm on XM shortly

Sometime around 12:05 p.m. I'm scheduled to be interviewed on XM satellite radio's POTUS '08 channel (POTUS being the acronym for "president of the United States"). I think we'll be talking about the Sunday package where we talked to 100 voters about the issues that are motivating them in this election.

This will also give you with satellite radio the chance to hear my voice, which I would describe as "obscene phone caller in training." Sorry, it's all I've got.