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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Internet Memes and their history revisited

Internet Memes and their history revisited

The story behind LOLCats, I Can Has Cheezburger and other ‘meme’ sites.

So I herd u like mudkips.

Oh noez. Wer didz da floorz go?

Ceiling Cat is watching you …

If you don’t have the foggiest idea what we’re talking about, you’re probably unfamiliar with LOLcats, one of the stranger phenomena to emerge from the Weird Wide Web. Quite possibly, you also limit your associations to people who are reasonably sane.

LOLcats — that’s short for “laugh out loud” cats – are simply images of cats emblazoned with a giant caption reading along the lines of the oddball phrases above. Posted on public message boards to be shared by millions, these captioned critters have spawned an online craze.

(© Daniel Smith/zefa/Corbis)

Welcome to the world of Internet memes. Any nugget of digital media that has caused a major online buzz — a doctored photo, a video clip, a rumor, catch phrase or scam — can qualify as a meme. Typically, they first circulate in small online communities before being catapulted to fame by means of a few million clicks. The next thing you know, people are talking about LOLcats or laughing about Star Wars Kid and Chuck Norris Facts around the water cooler.

That’s the essence of Internet memes (rhymes with “dreams”): They are inside jokes that have hit the big time. They’re frivolous, though the best ones are genuinely entertaining. They’re viral and contagious, but not measurably bad for you.

Let’s back up a few years.


(© GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images)

What do you meme?

If you were to ask a philosopher what a “meme” is, she’d define a term coined in 1976 by an Oxford professor named Richard Dawkins. In a nutshell, Dawkins sought a simple term for a “unit of cultural transmission” — a complex idea that can be boiled down and easily shared. Fusing the words mime (for the replication of ideas) and gene (for the role genes play in evolution), he came up with meme.

Though Dawkins had something a bit more sophisticated in mind, some of the cultural units we’re transmitting over the Web today happen to take the shape of fat cats. LOLcats, the Internet equivalent of those porcelain kittens and puppies so beloved by grandmothers, first came to fame in 2006 and soon appeared by the litter on the image boards of sites such as 4chan and I Can Has Cheezburger. They draw millions of views because they are simple, innocuous and occasionally amusing. People apparently find them cute ’n cuddly, though in reality it’s kind of hard to snuggle up to JPEG.

(© GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images)

Another key to LOLcat popularity is the ease with which they can be created and shared. In the early days, way back in 2006, LOLcats could be generated easily enough by anyone with a crude grasp of Photoshop. Today, it’s effortless. With an online Lol Builder it takes no more than a minute to select an image, add a caption and post it for all to see (check the one we built while finishing this sentence).

However, you’ll need to have some grasp of “lolspeak” to write an appropriate caption. Phrases like “I’z in ur Internets” and the prototypical “I Can Has Cheezburger?” are characteristic of lolspeak, which is a distant cousin of l337speak. It’s not so much a language as a phonetic equivalent that leaves the reader sounding like a cross between Snoop Dogg and Jar Jar Binks.

Meme milestones

(© Meredith Parmelee/Getty Images)

LOLcats are neither the beginning nor the end of online memes. Where there’s a stage there will always be a steady stream of performers, and the Web has provided an audience of unprecedented proportions. Over the past few decades, a number of jesters have vied for the crowd’s attention with their online memes.

Most appear to be in the game for the laughs or a momentary flash of fame. More ambitiously, some are in it to promote an idea and turn it into a commodity: If an online meme gets so big that it rubs elbows with offline culture, advertisers will soon arrive with their wallets open. It’s a rare occurrence, but for meme creators and advertisers alike, it’s pay dirt.

For example, Hamster Dance (see below) became such a sensation that it led to bumper stickers, an album release and use in a commercial by Internet service provider Earthlink. The animated TV series “South Park” got a boost to its buzz when the pilot became a viral video hit. Budweiser’s “Whassup?” ads are an example of an Internet meme in reverse: They were first a hit on television, then crossed to the Internet when fans created spoofs using Super Friends and Teletubbies.

Here’s a selection of milestone memes (with thanks to Dipity for tagging them to a timeline), plus a handful of sites noted for their ever-growing archives.

DANCING BABY (1996) – a 3-D animation of a creepy baby doing a creepy dance. This meme jumped the shark when it appeared as an apparition to the title character on TV’s “Ally McBeal,” swiveling its hips to the ooga-chaka opening of the B.J. Thomas song “Hooked on a Feeling.”

JUMPING THE SHARK (1997) — a phrase connoting the point at which a concept has headed irreversibly downhill. It’s based on the episode of “Happy Days” in which Fonzie jumps over a shark tank on water skis.

BERT IS EVIL (1998) — evidence that the unibrowed Muppet from “Sesame Street” is the spawn of Satan, as substantiated by a collection of “Zelig”-style photographs.

HAMSTER DANCE (1998) — an animated GIF that featured rows of hamsters bopping to a tune from Walt Disney’s “Robin Hood” cartoon, which is sung as if the merry band of thieves were sucking on helium..

ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US (2001) — a phrase of broken English dialogue excerpted from the Japanese video game “Zero Wing.” AYBABTU became a battle cry among gamers.

GREAT WHITE ATTACKS HELICOPTER (2001) — a hoax image, handily debunked by Snopes.

STAR WARS KID (2003) — viral video of a teenage boy rehearsing his best lightsaber moves though armed only with a golf ball retriever. Hilarious to all but the poor kid on tape.

O RLY? (2003) — an image of a white owl with the giant caption O RLY? (“Oh really?”), used in online forums as a sarcastic rejoinder. The O RLY? owl was a precursor to LOLcats.

CHUCK NORRIS FACTS (2005) — widely circulated list of “facts” attesting to the awesomeness of the action hero (e.g., “When Chuck Norris does a push-up, he isn’t lifting himself up — he’s pushing the Earth down”).

DRAMATIC CHIPMUNK (2007) — a five-second video of a chipmunk (actually, it’s a prairie dog) glaring into the camera, synced to the soundtrack of a 1940s thriller.

RICKROLLING (2008) — an online prank in which users are unexpectedly linked to the ghastly Rick Astley music video “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Sites

YTMND.COM – You’re the Man Now Dog features creations based on user-edited images, video and audio.

ICANHASCHEEZBURGER.COM – unofficial home of the LOLcat.

SOMETHING AWFUL – community-generated comedy, in mixed media.

Why ask why?

At this point you may be wondering what memes mean and what purpose they serve the user. After deep consideration and analysis, we’ve arrived at this conclusion: very, very little. At best they provide some fodder for a slack-time surf on the Web when everyone thinks you’re getting some work done. Memes are made by people who have lots of time to kill, for other people who don’t.

For a site hosting memes, however, they provide the most valuable commodity on the Internet: eyeballs. When a site can prove a high volume of traffic, it stands to draw advertisers and gain hard value. Just ask Ben Huh, who with investors paid $2 million for ICanHasCheezburger.com after being impressed by the millions of page views the site was drawing every month. Huh, now the site’s CEO, estimates they will soon cap 100 million views per month. He’s capitalizing on the traffic with sister sites such as ihasahotdog (lol dogs), ROFLrazzi (lol celebs), Engrish Funny and Failblog.

If you’re actively seeking a distraction online, you won’t have to search for long. Someone out there knows that whether you’re bedazzled or bored by the current crop of memes, chances are good you will soon be surfing for more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Myth Busters 42 Weird things you never knew existed

42 Weird Things You Would Never Know!!

So you think you knew everything in the world, but wait till you get a load of this information and stuff I compiled. Happy reading.

1.) A shrimp's heart is in its head.

2.) The 'sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick' is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.

3.) Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over a million descendants.

4.) Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.

5.) If the government has no knowledge of aliens, then why does Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations, implemented on July 16, 1969 make it illegal for U. S. citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrials or their vehicles?

6.) In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
http://www.moviecitynews.com/arrays/images/2005/superman/BrandonRouthasSuperman.jpg

7.) A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

8.) 23% of all photocopier faults world-wide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their butts.

9.) Most lipstick contains fish scales

10.) Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

11.) If you sneeze too hard you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die. If you keep your eyes open

by force they can pop out.

12.) In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand.

http://www.quinntastic.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/pig.jpg

13.) It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.

14.) A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

15.) More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.

16.) Horses can't vomit.
http://www.aqua-fish.net/imgs/articles/goldfish3.jpg

17.) Butterflies taste with their feet.

18.) In 10 minutes, a category three hurricane releases more energy than all of the world's nuclear weapons combined.

19.) On average 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year.

20.) On average people fear spiders more than they do death.

21.) Ninety percent of New York City cabbies are recently arrived im migrants.

22.) Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

23.) Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.

24.) Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.

25.) It's possible to lead a cow upstairs... but not downstairs.

26.) Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

27.) It is physically impossible for you to lick your elbow.

28.) The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year

because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight

of all the books that would occupy the building.

29.) A snail can sleep for three years.

30.) No word in the English language rhymes with 'MONTH.'

31.) Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

32.) The electric chair was invented by a dentist.

33.) All polar bears are left handed.

34.) In ancient Egypt , priests plucked EVERY hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.

35.) An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

36.) TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.

37.) 'Go,' is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

38.) If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand 7 feet, 2 inches tall.

39.) A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/42/74159369_4c657fed77.jpg

40.) The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

41.) Americans on average eat 18 acres of pizza every day.

42.) Almost everyone who reads this blog entry will try to lick their elbow.


For more funny jokes visit the

Yo momma jokes site
Sharing Jokes site
Chuck Norris Jokes site

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Few Music artist who should call it quits by now

I have compiled the few music artist who should give it up already, call it quits, throw in the white hanky or better stop making music already!

I will not name names but their faces and pictures will tell the story.


10 Artists Who Should Stop Making Records

By Sean Nelson
Special to MSN Music


Even though the Who famously hoped "I die before I get old," plenty of veteran musicians have managed to stay relevant far past their predicted sell-by dates. Just look at Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, even Elvis Costello and Prince -- still making vital, interesting albums well beyond the age of 50. But what about the ones who don't age gracefully, or who don't know when to quit, who keep pumping out records year after decade? Some people just stay too long at their own party, and MSN Music is here to turn on the lights.





Madonna

In every imaginable way, the cultural force known as Madonna (as someone once joked, she could easily change her name to Phenomadonna) has transcended music, especially her own. Sure, she began as a pop star, but her legacy has been predominantly visual. The songs are Madonna delivery devices.

Have there been brilliant singles all along? Obviously -- right down to 2005's "Hung Up." However, the mere fact of her new album, "Hard Candy," makes it clear that Madonna's moment as a musical force has long since passed.

She defined the aesthetic of style as substance and gave birth to the teen-pop moment that keeps regenerating every few years. But despite whether she's a massive influence, she feels unnecessary. And pop can be a lot of things, but never that.




The Black Crowes

Remember the recent controversy in which Maxim magazine reviewed the new Black Crowes album before the writer had even heard it? Well, that is obviously inexcusable, but here's the thing no one seems willing to say: He was right.

You don't really need to hear a Crowes record to know what you're going to get, because you always get the same thing: roots rock with an overstated, Southern hippie twang. And it's coming up on 20 years since they had a good tune ("Remedy") to wrap their aesthetic around.

Absent a song, it's just dudes whipping their hair around a mic stand and soloing unto infinity, while a legion of hacky sacks bounce in time. You don't need to make a record to make that happen, dude.




The Who

Surely any list of the five most important rock bands of all time must contain the Who (they're No. 4 on my list; Nos. 2 and 3 are also on this list).

But let's be serious: Have they made a good album, or, OK, an important album since 1973's "Quadrophenia," which I don't even like that much but kind of have to grant you, otherwise we go back to 1969's "Tommy," because I don't like "Who's Next" (1971) that much? The answer is NO.

And it's not because they're old (though it is partially because their drummer died before he got that way). It's because people run out of gas, and Pete Townshend's gift for the short sharp vulnerability ran aground of Roger Daltrey's tendency to grunt and growl instead of sing.

"Endless Wire," the putative Who album from 2006 was one of the most painful listening experiences I can remember -- not one good song, not one good part. How was this the Who? Well, it wasn't. And now they're working on a new one. Here's hoping they never finish.



Ray Davies

A genuine heartbreaker on this list, Ray Davies, the songwriting master behind the Kinks, the second most important band in the history of rock music, has just released his second solo album, "Working Man's Café."

And although you'd have to think at least twice before suggesting that the man who wrote "Waterloo Sunset," "You've Really Got Me," "Lola" and about three dozen other perfect songs was anything other than a genius, you need only suffer through "Café" once to know that the pistons have stopped firing.

Davies' last solo effort, "Other People's Lives," was pretty slack, too. And while I'll fight to the death to support his right to do whatever he wants (if I were president, he'd be poet laureate), I humbly request that he stop making records -- at least till he remembers what he's good at: writing and singing songs about people he's actually interested in.



Joni Mitchell

This one hurts the most, because at her peak, Mitchell was basically the best there was, in the world, period. And then something happened. That something is called ego.

It was one thing for this former folkie singer/songwriter-turned-folk-rock innovator to compare herself to Dylan -- she had every right, especially in the mid-'70s. But when she started comparing herself to Beethoven, it was clear her editorial standards had gone out the window of her limousine.

She hasn't made a record you could even call decent since 1978 -- I would argue 1975, but still least 30 years. And "Shine," last year's "comeback" for Starbucks' Hear Music label, was effectively unlistenable. It may just be time for someone to get herself back to the garden. The great albums remain great, no matter how hard she tries to tarnish them.



Bryan Adams

Umm ... how to put this gently? Never good (not "Summer of '69," not "Heaven," not even "Cuts Like a Knife," which I heard just last week), and only getting worse with age. If indeed, everything you do, you do it for me, I have but one request: Pull the plug.




The Rolling Stones

It's such a cliché by now to make fun of the Stones' advanced age in relation to their live act that you almost forget how long it's been since they've made a good album.

The answer is 36 years. The album was 1972's "Exile on Main Street." If you want to be generous, you could make the case for "Some Girls" in 1978.

Either way, it's been at least three decades since "the world's greatest rock and roll band" could genuinely lay claim to that title. And yet, every time they mount a new tour, a new album comes along to diminish the worth of what should, in fairness, be called "the world's greatest rock and roll brand."

I know, I know, you can't always get what you want, but if a couple of grizzled old glimmer twins are reading this, I hope it's not too much to hope that, with the recent release of "Shine a Light," this could be the last time.



Elton John

As his coffers swell (to say nothing of, well, anything else), the man who managed at least three second acts as a legitimate chart presence hasn't recorded a viable note since 1989 (and that's if you're reeeeeally kind).

His dew-stained do-over of "Candle in the Wind" should have gotten him banished from polite society. Instead, it saved his bacon for the millionth time. How many "Lion King"s can he pull out of his straw boater before the whole toupee comes flying off with it? Time will tell.

But if he wants to make it to his 62nd birthday extravaganza with a shred of dignity, he'll call it a very long day instead of pretending that he can keep trying to pull off a return to roots as he does every so often ("The Captain and the Kid," "Peachtree Road"). The whole point of Elton John was that he had no roots in the first place.



Carly Simon

Never as shallow as Linda Ronstadt or as deep as Joni Mitchell (despite what a recent book suggests), Simon was a talented '70s pop radio artist and sex symbol whose best work is dusted with very affecting melancholy and a very sharp tongue. But she was never a major artist.

By the time the '80s rolled around, her work for movies had steered her into a synthesizer wasteland with lyrics full of vacuous sentimentality and humiliating nursery rhymes. And she's been coasting ever since.

Simon became the latest pop veteran to join the caffeinated ranks of Starbucks' Hear label in late April, but I'm sure I'm not alone when I say the anticipa-a-a-tion didn't exactly drive me crazy.

©Retna Ltd.

Def Leppard (see also, Whitesnake)

There was a time -- let's call it the early '80s -- when it seemed like this good-looking, young Zeppelin/Sabbath-lite semi-hard-rock band's hit strewn "Pyromania" LP was a perfect expression of the MTV-defined pop times.

Then a few years passed, tragedies beset the band and they managed to earn a big comeback, in the form of "Hysteria," featuring the unstoppably dumb mega hit "Pour Some Sugar on Me." That was 1987, 21 years ago.

In the meantime, it has become clear that the meaningless (though somehow sill stupid) lyrics, good-time party attitude and retrograde iconography is better served up by bands that are young and dumb, not just dumb.

Not because it's more rock to be old, but because anyone who isn't 20 has no business making music so brainless -- just ask their new album. Pour some ointment on them; they're done.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dumb Guy sells Life in eBay - says final price dissapointing

Guy auctions off life, selling price disappoints

Man put everything he owned as well as introductions to his friends on eBay


PERTH, Australia - A man who auctioned his life — his house, his car, his job, even his friends — on eBay said Monday he is disappointed with the selling price.

Ian Usher, a British immigrant to Australia, put everything he owned as well as introductions to his friends on the online auction site after a painful breakup with his wife prompted him to want a fresh start.

Bidding closed Sunday and reached $382,712 — an amount Usher said his house in the western city of Perth was worth on its own.

"I guess I'm a little bit disappointed at the final price, I'd hoped it to be a little higher than that," Usher told Nine Network television on Monday. "But I am committed to selling and moving on and making a fresh start."

He declined to reveal the buyer's identity, or what his next step would be.

Tony Ashby / AFP - Getty Images
Ian Usher, a British immigrant to Australia, auctioned his life on the Internet.


Usher said he had hoped to get at least $480,000 for his life — his house and all its contents, car and a motorcycle, a jet ski, skydiving gear, an introduction to friends and a trial period in his sales job — but that the final result was enough for him to make a new start in life.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

4 Sure Signs to know your suit does not fit

Signs Your Suit Doesn't Fit

A great suit doesn't look so great if it doesn't fit. Four ways to tell if your suit fits properly.


1. The jacket's shoulder pads are supposed to sit on your shoulder. If they droop off and leave dents in the cloth, the jacket's too big. Go down a size.

1. The jacket's shoulder pads are supposed to sit on your shoulder. If they droop off and leave dents in the cloth, the jacket's too big. Go down a size.


2. The jacket's sleeves should never reach further than the point where the base of the thumb meets the wrist. If they do, go down a size.

2. The jacket's sleeves should never reach further than the point where the base of the thumb meets the wrist. If they do, go down a size.



3. You do not need enough room in your jacket to house a family of raccoons. Go down two sizes.

3. You do not need enough room in your jacket to house a family of raccoons. Go down two sizes.

4. Pants should touch the shoes with only an inch of cloth to spare. Anything more should be taken up.

4. Pants should touch the shoes with only an inch of cloth to spare. Anything more should be taken up.





Monday, May 12, 2008

$315 Billion Dollars Skyscraper and you

$315 Billion Dollars Skyscraper and you

This batty bulk of money is absurd for anyone to visualize. Let's take a look, starting with the one dollar ... it's almost 6 inches long, and 2½ inches wide. It's almost as blubbery as an approved section of paper. Now we will abide to accomplish brainstorming and vizualize beyond and beyond pictures, with added and added money, and at the end I'm abiding that you will be afraid by these "mountains" of money, millions, billions. So if you are traveling to acquire so abundant money you'll charge some big deposits if you would like to accumulate them.















Thursday, May 1, 2008

Weirdest Laws from around the World Compiled

Top 10 Weird laws of the world

Weird laws that have to really suck.

Number 10: Most Middle Eastern countries recognize the following Islamic law: "After having sexual relations with a lamb, it is a mortal sin to eat its flesh." (umm OK, I’m sure the lamb appreciates that one)

Number 9: In Lebanon, men are legally allowed to have sex with animals, but the animals must be female. Having sexual relations with a male animal is punishable by death. (OK, like THAT makes sense...)

Number 8: In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman’s genitals, but is forbidden from looking directly at them during the examination. He may only see their reflection in a mirror. (Ouch!)

Number 7: Muslims are banned from looking at the genitals of a corpse. This also applies to undertakers; the sex organs of the deceased must be covered with a brick or a piece of wood at all times. (...a brick?)

Number 6: The penalty for masturbation in Indonesia is capitation. (Wonder how they enforce that one?)

Number 5: There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time. Reason: under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry. (Now let’s just think for a minute...is there any job anywhere else in the world that even comes close to this?)

Number 4: In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. (The husband’s lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner desired. COOL)

Number 3: Topless saleswomen are legal in Liverpool, England, but only in tropical fish stores. (Of course!)

Number 2: In Santa Cruz, Bolivia it is illegal for a man to have sex with a woman and her daughter at the same time. (We have to presume this was a big enough problem that they had to pass this law...)

And the wierdest law in the world is...

In Cali, Colombia, a woman may only have sex with her husband, and the first time this happens her mother must be in the room to witness the act. (I shudder at the thought. How many of us would be virgins today?)

By Ryan Burnham

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weird Conference draws those seeking a ghost of a chance

Weird Conference draws those seeking a ghost of a chance

Things that go bump in the night came out to play in the day – at least that's what visitors hoped for, Friday and Saturday at Ghost Rush 2008. The American Paranormal Investigations-sponsored conference focused on ghosts, phantom noises, strange temperature changes and weird, seemingly invisible movements.

Stationed at the historic St. George Hotel in Volcano, a tiny Gold Rush town nearly 60 miles outside of Sacramento, API founder Dave Bender watched as a group of paranormal experts, including "debunkers," "sensitives" and psychics – joined approximately 53 ghost buffs to discuss how technology combined with a bone-chilling gut reaction can pinpoint the presence of a spirit.

"It really is a scientific process," Bender, 36, said. "We utilize equipment, take readings and try to find, first, if there's a plausible explanation for what's going on."


The St. George Hotel, long believed to shelter myriad ghosts, is the ideal location, Bender said.

"Volcano, Placerville, Coloma – all these Gold Rush towns hold a lot of history," Bender said.

Bender launched the API in 2001 as a way to expand upon his paranormal interests. Now, the Sacramento-based group investigates approximately 100 cases each year, going into homes and businesses to explore hard-to-explain occurrences.

Armed with camcorders, digital audio recorders, electromagnetic field detectors and Geiger counters used to detect radiation, investigators gather evidence while a "debunker" tries to discern a plausible explanation for every last bump, shadow and hint of ghostly chatter.

Debunking the presence of a ghost is just as important as proving it, Bender said. Once you've dismissed any credible explanations, it's easier to focus on what is – or isn't – in front of you.

"A lot of people don't believe in this – they think it's too hard to prove the paranormal," he said. "But it's a very personal thing, and you and I might experience it very differently."

For Jason Lindo, a 48-year-old Sacramento "sensitive," that experience is purely physical.

"Sometimes I'll feel a compression in my chest – like an energy that's starting to build," he said. "Or sometimes it's a chill or (I'll hear) a voice."

So, has Lindo sensed an otherworldly presence here?

Yes – just not today. Yet.

"I came through here earlier when we were scouting a conference location," he said. "Then, I could feel an older gentleman and a young girl. Later I learned that a lot of the visitors at this hotel have also seen them."

Now, Lindo's still waiting for another encounter. He's confident they'll show up. It's just a matter of focus as well as the right ghost at the right time.

"There are a lot of people here right now stirring up the energy and the (ghosts) who want to be seen – the divas and the drama queens – will make their presence known."

Suzanne Briscoe is waiting. The 58-year-old Salt Lake City resident journeyed here with friends for the chance to encounter a spirit.

"I keep waiting for my husband to show up," she said, laughing. "But nobody's tapped me on the shoulder yet."

If that does happen, Briscoe said, she's ready to embrace the hard-to-believe.

"You have to be open-minded because sometimes you're just not sure what to believe," she said.

So far, she added, the conference experience has been refreshingly "normal."

"The people here aren't goofy or weird – no one's running around in turbans or flowing gowns," she said. "It's just a bunch of normal people interested in the same thing."

Her pal, 66-year-old Joyce Carter, sees it this way:

"I'm just enjoying my time here, going to the workshops and learning," Carter said. "I don't know if I totally believe in all this stuff – but then again, I don't know if I totally doubt it either."

About the writer:

* Call The Bee's Rachel Leibrock, (916) 321-1176.

Weird Furious electro-dance style sweeps France

Weird Furious electro-dance style sweeps France

PARIS (Billboard) - Enter any nightclub in Paris right now, and chances are you'll bump into a group of weird-looking teenagers, seemingly trying to rip their own heads off. If so, don't worry -- you have just entered the world of Tecktonik.

This electro-dance scene was born in 2000 at Paris nightclub Metropolis, and has gradually become an all-encompassing teenage lifestyle, incorporating a highly distinctive dance and dress code (skinny-fit trousers and tight T-shirts, Day-Glo colors and punk-inspired spiky haircuts). It's now ubiquitous in France: on TV, in newspapers and magazines, in discos, even in schools.

EMI France international development director Laurence Muller compares it to hip-hop.

"It involves fashion, visuals, music and dance," he says, "with maybe graphic arts a bit behind."
A man is seen with a 'Tecktonik' hairstyle in a hairdressing salon in Paris March 7, 2008. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)

Reuters Photo:
A man is seen with a 'Tecktonik' hairstyle in a hairdressing salon in Paris March...



It's also a brand in the purest sense of the word. "Tecktonik" and "TCK" are official trademarks, owned by Cyril Blanc and Alexandre Barouzdin, the two electro dancers who, eight years ago, launched Tecktonik Killer club nights, which mixed various electronic music styles with synthesized, repetitive voices and a high beats-per-minute rate.

"At first, we protected the name to prevent other nightclubs (from) advertising Tecktonik nights," Barouzdin says. "We did not mean to create a brand."

Now, however, a mind-boggling range of official Tecktonik products are available: from music compilations and a Sony Ericsson mobile handset (due in April) to clothes, jewelry, an energy drink and even two official hair salons.

DANCE FEVER

Blanc and Barouzdin also initiated the dance with exaggerated arm and head gestures, which spread through battles at Metropolis and then online, when dancers started posting their performances on video-sharing sites including YouTube, Dailymotion and Skyblog.

"Tecktonik videos are among the most-watched on our service," Dailymotion content director Martin Rogard says. He says traffic first spiked in March 2007 and then exploded with the release of Mondotek's hit "Alive" (Mercury/Universal) in November. The official posting of the "Alive" video alone has attracted more than 1.9 million views.

Around the same time, mainstream pop artists Lorie and Yelle incorporated the dance into their videos as Tecktonik hit the mainstream.

Unlike many musical movements, Tecktonik takes a stance against drugs and alcohol. Frederic Pau, program director of No. 1 France music radio network NRJ, praises it as "a healthy movement, with a good spirit." NRJ is organizing a Tecktonik tour, expected this summer.

Barouzdin and Blanc, who decline to reveal financial details, have licensed their brand worldwide to EMI Music France for music-related products. TF1 Enterprises -- a division of leading French TV channel TF1 -- acts as Tecktonik's agent for distribution licenses for other products.

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST

EMI France says its latest genre compilation, "Tecktonik/Vol. 4," is the most successful yet. The album, featuring such local acts as Hardrox and Dim Chris alongside international DJ/mixers including U.S.-based Robbie Rivera and Italy's Paolo Bolognesi, has shipped more than 230,000 copies since its December release, according to EMI. "Vol. 5" is due April 21 and will include a DVD featuring dance tips.

But despite the trademark protection for the Tecktonik name, the popularity of the movement has inspired other labels to release their own electro-dance compilations targeting Tecktonik fans.

"We don't need the word 'Tecktonik,"' says Philippe Solas, marketing director at Mercury France, which released Mondotek's "Alive." "(The style of) dance says enough by itself."

Barouzdin remains sanguine about the competition.

"Successes such as Mondotek help the movement live," he says. "The brand Tecktonik is just a quality label."

He also has plans to help the Tecktonik eagle symbol spread its wings internationally. Tecktonik Killer nights have already taken place in Morocco, Belgium and Switzerland; there are negotiations for events in Hungary, Russia and Japan.

Meanwhile, "Tecktonik/Vol. 4" has been rolling out internationally since February 18, and international artists are showing interest. Moby's single "Disco Lies" (Mute) was remixed by Tecktonik DJ Dim Chris, while a video shot by Dailymotion shows Janet Jackson discovering the dance.

"We have made her choreography proposals," says Barouzdin, who also claims interest from Kanye West and Madonna.

Pau has no doubt the movement will eventually catch on globally.

"All it needs," he says, "is one international artist or DJ to embrace it."

Reuters/Billboard

Very Weird But True

WEIRD BUT TRUE

By TODD VENIZIA

March 30, 2008 -- Cops in Salem, Ore., are on an epic quest - to find out who left a full suit of medieval armor at a bus stop.

The suit includes everything from metal boots to a helmet, and even has a shield.

The cops are hoping the nude knight will come forward, but he had better have a receipt if he wants it back.

*****

This year's book with the oddest title has been named - and the winner is "If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs."

The Bookseller magazine named the love self-help guide the winner in a close call over "I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen."

"Cheese Problems Solved" came in third.

*****

Outraged Ukrainians are crying, "I wanna rock!" after the nation banned all Western music from their train cars.

Riders used to listening to rock and pop hits now have to listen to obscure local folk music.

The ruling also applies to the nation's planes.

*****

A British teacher found a new way to get out of paying a parking ticket.

He successfully got the case against him thrown out because the ticket was placed in the wrong color envelope when it was placed on the car.

The ticket was in a black and yellow envelope, but because it was handed out by a private ticket-issuing company, it was not allowed to be that color.

Talk about bureaucracy.

*****



Unemployment offices in Britain are really working hard to get people jobs - they're even posting ads for work as pole-dancers and sex-chat-line workers.

One pole-dancing job offered $30 an hour to start.

A lap-dancing job said that no experience was necessary but that the job might "cause embarrassment to some."

A sex-line job was offering $100 an hour, but for that the applicant would have to be willing to appear in front of a Web cam alongside "nude adult images."

The job also has one extra requirement - it's important that the applicants be "enthusiastic."

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