101 Uses for a Rabid Fanbase

Has it really been this long (33 years!) since the appearance of Simon Bond’s 101 Uses for a Dead Cat, (Since time immemorial mankind has been plagued by the question “What do you do with a dead cat?” ) a book that was quite remarkable in its day, a groundbreaking phenomenon of popular culture – something of an instant counter-reaction to the popularity of the Broadway musical ‘Cats’. The author/illustrator, who died a few years back, published several other books of drawings but there was no repetition of the immense popularity of Dead Cat.

Anyone who ventures into the commercial worlds of the arts is given all sorts of admonitions and advice about growing their brand and cultivating their audience, all leading towards the eventual reaping of the benefits of a widespread and numerous fanbase and yet, aside from taking their money, you never hear too much about the actual use cases for this collection. Is there really only one use, one purpose, one function for these followers? Well, two, if you include the old standby, the stroking of the ego.  Could there be more? I doubt I could come up with 101, but there are some things a fanbase might come in handy for, assuming of course that you don’t have an assortment of intelligent and configurable personal robots at your immediate and constant disposal.

A fanbase could wash your car. It takes more than one person to do a decent job of it. You have your scrubbers and your rinsers and your vacuumers and specialists in tire wiping and such.

A fanbase could do your shopping. If you’re like me, there are items you need that are only available at Trader Joe’s and others you can only find at New Leaf Markets, and then there are the generic brands where a Safeway or CVS will do just fine (apologies for the 21st century California references, but you get the picture). A fanbase can spread out, covering all these bases concurrently, saving time if not gasoline.

A fanbase could cheer on your child at his or her school sporting events. It’s obnoxious when it’s just one parent obviously rooting for no-one and nothing other than their child, but an entire booster section composed of unrelated persons? Priceless.

I’m sure there are many other practical if not sensible or rational uses for a rabid fanbase. Now, if only I could illustrate as wonderfully as the late Simon Bond, I might put together a viral cartoon book and develop a fanbase off of that! I would never have to wash the car again!

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Recommended: Wadjda

Wadjda is a film from Saudi Arabia, famous for being the first entirely shot within that country, not to mention the first feature film written and directed by a Saudi woman. It is now available for streaming in the US via M-Go and Amazon and elsewhere.

It’s a movie that tells a big story by telling a small story. In the small story, a young girl wishes to own a bicycle, and sets about doing whatever it takes to accomplish her goal, from selling things she makes to wheeling and dealing in the schoolyard, to competing in a Koran recitation competition which offers a prize big enough to cover the cost. While all this is going on, and we are getting to know this sly and delightful character, we are being shown a world we never see, the lives of everyday women behind the veils in Saudi Arabia. To me at least this was unknown territory, and there is a tremendous juxtaposition between all the commonalities of our own world – from the cars and kitchens to the shops and construction work – and the vast differences: how women are not permitted to drive, how they must cover themselves in public, how they worry continually about being seen by men who are not family. We have our Western set of supersitions, and they have theirs: don’t leave the Koran open! The devil might spit in it! There is nothing essentially different between these worlds except for all the man-made rules and nonsense (and how the women enforce it all amongst themselves, and reinforce it all throughout). There are no wasted moments in this film.  Every instant tells a story.

Dispatches from Techistan

As a programmer here in the heart of Techistan (a.k.a. Silicon Valley), I often get blind recruitment emails, many of which are unintentionally entertaining (recommended anyone interested in this particular topic should follow Shit Recruiters Say [@recruiterbro] on Twitter). Today’s was from a startup called Clinkle (rhymes with Tinkle), famous for being hacked before launch as well as their executive staff of former Netflix bigwigs, one of whom is described in this TechCrunch piece as a “get shit done guy”. The article goes on to mention that this executive is mostly known for his role in Netflix’s biggest fiasco, the “Qwikster” spinoff, where they tried to raise prices in return for less service while splitting your one account into two separate accounts for no apparent reason. One is tempted to take the term “get shit done guy” in the literal sense of “when he does get things done, they are shit.”

Even in this modern hipster world, it’s hard to believe that a CEO will freely use the word “shit” to praise his new VP of Operations! But the headlines never cease for this company. Here’s a good one:

Payments Startup Clinkle Lays Off A Quarter Of Its Staff [UPDATED: New Layoffs In Addition To 30+ Who Already Left]

Oh, and

Leaked YouTube Video & Tumblr Blog Reveal All About Stealthy Payments Startup Clinkle

The latest being this one from a couple of weeks ago:

Clinkle Gets Hacked Before It Even Launches

I feel sorry for the recruiters who must realize that any interested recipients of their emails will naturally check out the company they’re representing, especially when the subject line of the email is:

Exciting Opportunity at Clinkle!

Ratings Madness

It’s out of control. Everything conceivable is being rated on the internet with a predictable result of rampant spam, sock puppeteering, out-and-out fraud and completely unreliable information. What began as an attempt at positive crowd-sourcing naturally turned corrupt, as is the human way. On Yelp, for example, you can find star ratings for strip clubs, even ratings for individual strippers! My local bank branch has a 2.5 star average with 271 ratings. A bank branch? Digital Book Today, a site hoping to become an ebook selection gateway, requires a minimum average of 4 star reviews (and you will notice that ‘Bleak House’ by Dickens, for example. would not qualify, having only a 3.95 average). It all means nothing, and yet it’s pervasive and a situation that is only going to degenerate over time. In this case, multiple bad apples will eventually spoil the whole bunch.

scarcity and value and old people

Maybe old people were more highly valued when they were more scarce. Modern life expectancy has screwed that up. Now we survive things that would have killed us not so long ago, and we go on and on and on and on. No wonder health care costs so much and is only going to cost more and more. It’s the leading growth industry now, supplanting war which, come to think of it, used to have the exact opposite effect. It’s not a death spiral. It’s a life spiral!

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now that i know about highly experienced professional blog commenters, i can no longer believe in any comment i see on any blog. it’s just like tv commercials – i don’t believe that person is really suffering from dandruff or incontinence or is even hungry for that burger. those commenters can’t really think that president obama is a ‘communist’, can they? it’s just that someone is paying someone else to say whatever …