Sunday, January 31, 2016

"we found this secluded little beach and decided to get naked and have a little fun."

P&O Cruises Pacific Islands VLOG | Noumea, Maré, Vila

In her channel description, YouTube video producer and poster, Tiyana Jovanovic, offers the following greeting to potential viewers:

"Hey guys! Welcome to my channel, where I vlog about the awesome things I do, food I eat, places I go, and people I meet. If your'e interested in travel, veganism, or social change then hit the subscribe button!"

And, in fact because I AM interested in food, travel, and people, especially when they are awesome (or even just medium awesome), I did. I'm also interested in reasonably attractive young women and very much in how they perceive the world and explain it to others - and I'm absolutely interested in how people use YouTube to accomplish such things. So, I 'hit the subscribe button.' I'm Tiyana's 3,878th subscriber, or so the little 'stat' field on her channel's info area indicates. We are now somehow connected, you and I,Tiyana :)

OK - These are some nice videos and this is a thoughtful young person. I like her posts, particularly the more recent ones. And, hey, she's only just about 20 years old (How do I know? I saw listed and I took a quick look at her video post of 10 months ago titled 'FIJI for my 19th Birthday VLOG'). Is she doing any serious exploring in this? C'mon! But frankly, it's charming that she's playing at the game of travel documenter and interesting that she has the means and time at this tender age to be off exploring the world. And yes, she's doing some rather touristy things. The 'native' demonstration of how to open a coconut with a sharpened stick under the palm thatch roof, for instance.  I still haven't made up my mind about all of the footage of her girlfriend and traveling companion who seems to enjoy shaking her swimsuit clad rear end at the camera just a bit too much. Not that I feel the need to cramp your style, girls. 

Has YouTube turned me into a voyeur? Would I admit it? Whatever...  I am occasionally intrigued , though, by witnessing the kind of stranger's personal vacation footage that this birthday video comes off as, even though it's presented on YouTube as something for the world to see. And THAT, I think is one of the wonderful and perplexing things about YouTube. All of this new media is available to us, allows us to do the very things that professional journalists and entertainment producers do, and gives us access to an audience, or at the least a platform from which an audience might become aware of our material and accept our invitation to view it. Clearly, I see this birthday video  less as an important travelogue about FIJI as I do a sort of unintended documentary about how a couple of young girls, intoxicated with the freedom of being out exploring the world, choose to take advantage of today's media to preserve and share their experience. So thanks for a perfect example of something I am struggling to understand, girls!
By the way, this video in 10 months of being posted only drew some 1,667 views, including mine.

I'd like to point out that, perusing the titles of this young woman's videos and having sampled some snippets of her later work, it looks to me like she has matured and grown into the role of self styled videographer nicely in the period of close to a year since her Fiji birthday opus. I just looked at 'What I ate today backpacking Europe | Easy, Vegan & Healthy!' Hey, this one probably won't win any awards, but the subject is clear, down to Earth and important - her treatment of it is mature and informative - and the video, itself, works just fine. I enjoyed watching it and learned a bit, too. You can't ask for much more than that from a 20 year old's art. Actually, from anyone's.

So how did I come to this kids videos? THAT's kind of interesting, too. Well, I like to watch videos about travel, and travel to South Pacific islands, especially. Over on the right hand side of my screen, where YouTube offers one videos that he might be interested in (based on the software's tracking and analyzing of what he's watched in the past) was a video offered to me titled 'P&O Cruises Pacific Islands VLOG | Noumea, Maré, Vil' As this one opens up we see the same, early approach to videos as the birthday piece... and there's the same girlfriend getting her rear end into the shot early on, too. Actually, there's another girlfriend here, as well,  and somehow, in this vido, the 'Girls Gone (just a little bit) Wild' spirit is charming and infectious. They are SO into the high of their freedom and one another's companionship... there are some nice shots of Noumea, New Caledonia, too. And there's a nice reggae track behind the shots of the gorgeous beaches and to-die -for, aquamarine crystal clear water. 

So why then, did this particular video draw 1 million, forty thousand views (as of this writing), while the later, more serious, and more worthwhile videos drew only in the 1 to 4 thousand views range? I'm not sure, but at 2 minutes and 32 seconds into the video our producer and star explains that "we found this secluded little beach and decided to get naked and have a little fun." and so..... <<<NON-PORNOGRAPHY WARNING!!!>>>... you do see, for a second or two. a young woman: attractive, but not a contender for those magazines and videos, you know the kind, who is wearing only flip flops as she clambers over the coral rock toward the ocean... and even though her gait is somewhat ungainly, you do get a full-on look at her naked ass... and then, it's back to more properly attired 'girls just wanna' have fun' footage as this 5 and a half minute video winds up and finishes.

So you tell me; is it the somewhat interesting, but truly, very pedestrian tourist footage? is it the charming insider's look at 3 young women thoroughly enjoying their coming of age, right of passage, getaway trip, or is it What's Her Name's bare ass, that got the attention of over a million viewers. Ah YouTube! I've got as many questions about it, as the many clues it offers me about our lives and times :) 

POST SCRIPT: YouTube channels function as blogs, allowing viewers to comment on the videos and on other viewers comments. Here's one that this particular video precipitated. I find it interesting...

"Martin Carré 5 days ago
hey the video in New Caledonia was real funny, I hope you guys enjoyed your short stay in my country, there is so much to know about this place. Good thing no one spotted you in maré while you were naked haha, i'm sure the locals would have talked about it for years. Here is a good example about what life is like in New Caledonia. Happy Watching -"

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kids REACT To FAT Barbie

Kids REACT To FAT Barbie (Lammily Doll) 

This video opens with a woman, who seems to be its producer and poster, explaining that she recently purchased, online, a Lammily or "Plus Size" Barbie Doll. Actually, there's nothing fat about this doll, but because it is proportioned realistically instead of being modeled on an unrealistic, idealized female body, it seems to be chubby in comparison. The woman also explains that the doll comes with stickers that can be put on the body so that the doll can be rendered realistically imperfect. She doesn't go into detail about what the stickers add (scars? blotchy spots? ringworm? other?) but she does explain that she gave her Lammily some stomach stretch marks because she has stretch marks, herself (huh???). She then explains that she "thought it would be kinda' neat" to give the doll to her 2 kids to see what their reaction would be. Her daughters, by the way appear to be 2 charming, very normal little White girls.

You guessed it, or at least I did, hands down the girls thought that Barbie is prettier and more the way they'd want to be than Lammily. These 2 little girls don't seem to have much problem with that. And if I were to read into the entire imperfect little social study done here, I'd say that if anything, these 2 little girls were showing remarkable patience and graciousness with mom and her ceaseless questions about which doll do you like more? and why? They seem to understand that some things just are, and that imposing questions on the experience is really unnecessary and makes little sense. I think the kids got it straight! - although, of course, I agree, too, that it is good to have alternative dolls for kids to choose IF  that's what THEY want. But we adults, as usual, seem to be f*&#ed up in all of this, uncomfortable with the fact that we just aren't certain about life ourselves and hyper uncomfortable that, on top of that, we have to guide naive, impressionable, and ever so delicate young souls (our children) through the difficult passages of learning how to live in the world.

Way back in the day, the Greeks created idealized human forms in their stone sculptures that represented the gods and abstract human characteristics. And later, painters, like Da Vinci, had formulas for perfect human proportions, even though they knew that they'd never find real-life models who would conform to them. Part of being human is understanding that there is the real and there is the ideal and we have to learn to make our peace with the fact that none of us are ideal. Even more disappointing, we discover that some of our fellow humans come closer to the ideal than we do. And, above all, we have to learn to live with that.

Do the 2 sweet little White girls in this video not understand this? They appear to get it and have no problem with it, although I think some hand-wringing adults like to think that they need to be saved  from the Psycho-Evil of Barbie dolls. NO, these kids seem to me to understand and accept this fact of life and would prefer simply to be left alone to enjoy "playing Barbie dolls" with little, unrealistic plastic effigies of young women with impossibly tight - cute - little butts, ridiculously attractive long perfect legs, and tresses of perfect, long and full, blond doll's hair.

Interesting to me that while the producer of this video seems to have attempted to set up a perfectly provocative situation that would resonate with the social indignation of a great many, as of this writing she has only scored some 68 thousand views in the 10 months or so that it has been posted. Even more interesting, she has turned off the "Comments" feature of YouTube. Hmmmm. What kind of comments was she expecting, I wonder? 

Friday, January 29, 2016

been there and dreamed that dream...

NAMM 2016 Highlights

(From Wikipedia) "The NAMM Show is the world's largest trade-only event for the music products industry.[2] It is held every January in Anaheim, California, US at the Anaheim Convention Center, and is one of the two largest music product trade shows in the world... The event attracts numerous famous musicians, many of whom are endorsed by exhibitors and come to promote their own signature models and equipment. NAMM is a trade-only business show catering to domestic and international dealers and distributors. The product exhibits are an integral part of the show, allowing the dealers and distributors to see what's new, negotiate deals and plan their purchasing for the next 6 to 12 months. Only employees and guests of the exhibiting manufacturers and/or NAMM member retailers and distributors are allowed to attend, along with credentialed members of the press."

While many musicians, amateurs, semi-pro's, pro's, educators, all sorts of wannabees and hangers-on, have heard of NAMM and would LOVE to attend, it's not for the general public, even if they are willing to pay for an entrance pass. BUT, there are so many videos posted on the NAMM theme that one can get something of an idea of what the show is and what goes on there. And, DAMN, I wish I could go, if only just once!

The videos that YouTube offers viewers are candid, off the cuff and in the moment little vignettes, although they feature big time products from big time manufacturers like, Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, PRS, etc. etc. etc. and the folks that these product lines and the promise of something truly new from them draw. And this often includes music stars and the those who work closely with them. But it also includes just plain music gear lovin' folks and if you're not familiar with this sort of guitar nerd-geek, well check out some of the non-star centered videos and meet some.

This video shows the sort of loveable, has visions of futuristic solid body electric guitars dancing through his dreams guy (there are mostly young men and aging men who retain this secret love as their tip of the hat to staying young).

This second video shows some very candid footage of "The Captain" a YouTube guitar video superstar I (think I) recognize from  many Andertons Music (UK vender) videos. Here we see him inspecting(?), reviewing(?)  a couple of the sort of wonderfully ridiculous new guitar models that in so many ways make electric guitars the stuff of wet dreams for the world's young men. I know  - I've been there and dreamed that dream... 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"...there is no greater pleasure in the world other than seeing, enjoying and experiencing new places and cultures on our beautiful planet..."

COOK ISLANDS, the magnificent Muri Beach at Rarotonga (Pacific Ocean)

Once you get into YouTube, I mean SERIOUSLY get into it, you make some discoveries and one I made early on was that pursuing series of videos, as opposed to singleton offerings, is what worked for me best. Since, that 'ah ha', I've followed a number of these series and Vic Stefanu's travel documentaries is one that I've enjoyed a great deal. By the way, if you 'click' on the name of a video's producer, which appears directly under the video player, you are taken to the 'home area' of his 'channel'

In the case of Vic's channel, I came across the following on 1/28/2016:

16,414 subscribers • 13,378,795 views
Joined Dec 16, 2010

A warm WELCOME to my channel dedicated to one of the greatest pleasures one can experience in life – travelling around our beautiful world. I try to record every interesting place that I visit with emphasis on cultural events, historic places, any location where nature is spectacularly displayed, locations with
art and interesting science exhibited, and, whatever else comes along the way. Enjoy my channel and drop me a message if  you see something that you find enjoyable, exciting or interesting, I will reply to you at Remember: there is no greater pleasure in the world other than seeing, enjoying and experiencing new places and cultures on our beautiful planet... Finally, no one ever regretted spending his/her money on traveling .........  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!!!!!!!

 He provides an email address in there and I actually was moved to contact Vic once. I wanted to congratulate him on having posted such interesting and entertaining videos. And, as my admiration had led to curiosity, I requested that he give some information about himself, I mean his original nationality, how he manages to finance his wide-flung, and exotic travels, and what the overarching purpose of all his traveling is. He actually did respond to me, above all thanking me for watching his videos, and although (as I recall) he  did state that my requests were reasonable, I haven't come across any more personal info about him yet. And actually, I'm fine with that. His job is to travel and produce these videos and my job is simply to watch them and be moved by what I see. That's actually a very good arrangement.

What do I like so much about Vic's videos? I've always been a keen appreciator of travel documentaries, having faithfully consumed all of the National Geographic specials, and their kin on broadcast TV. I especially loved the Globe Trekker series and the Michael Palin’s Palin's Travels  series, which I found on PBS. When cable TV became available, I discovered some fresher alternatives, the shows of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, to name a couple of the most successful. Interesting to me that as the size of the target audience, and consequently, the budget available to address it, shrank, the format of the travel shows loosened up. Or so it seemed to me. What I loved about Bourdain and his imitators is that his show had less of that look and feel of a big budget production, written by a team of writers and narrated by a world class voice-over star. The photography, while wonderful at times (especially the Bourdain show) still didn't have that look that I associate with extremely expensive equipment and large teams of "cinematographers". Overall, the look and feel of these very well produced shows, at least approached something I'd describe as 'just a real guy, showing other real guys some really interesting places and the things that go on there.’

Vic's videos, and those of many other 'guys' like him, self styled travel adventurers who document their journeys, push this genre even further, giving us a view of a guy who really is just a guy, as he goes to some places and records what he sees there in an even more casual manner. What's left behind is the music track in the background, the artful editing 'cuts' and without them the quick shift and face paced continuity wizardry, the aerial and underwater fish-eye perspective shots that only high maintenance Directors of Photography can provide, etc. What we are left with is something - even though no doubt, these low rent, one man band producers try to bring some craft to their offerings, too - that is infinitely simpler, more direct, more spontaneous, and more authentic to what this genre  purports to provide in the first place, the real experience of travel.

In this particular video we see Vic, as always, welcoming us and thanking us for watching his videos.  This time he is in the Cook Islands. Now that's a place that appeals strongly, conforming to theout of reach tropical paradise ideal of a destination, and one that, even though I am pretty well traveled myself, I am not likely to ever get around to visiting personally. He does a great job of bringing us along with him. The production problems, like the noise of the strong wind rustling the microphone's surface, and the bits of shakiness to his handheld camera simply add to the authenticity, making these videos seem
all the more like "the real deal." I especially like that at times in his videos he simply lets the camera run when trained on something like an empty beach with no action, at all, happening other than the lapping of the waves against the pristine white sand. Something the big guys would never do, but actually the minimalist sort of thing that resonates strongly. Thanks, Vic, and the many other travel video posters who offer travel experiences like this. Good stuff!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ladyboy Interview

Ladyboy Interview: Part 1of 2 - Bohol, Philippines 

Eat your hearts out, ladies! Because some of these babes are prettier, sexier, and absolutely more feminine than you are, and they're not even women. They're Ladyboys! Ladyboys, if you haven't heard of them, (hope I get this right) are transgender males who often dress and present themselves in public in woman’s' attire. The popular narrative about this is that Thais, and other Asian cultures, consider Ladyboys not to be precisely male or female, but legitimately something else, a 3rd sex. OK...

I've been to Thailand a good number of times and yes, one does see them mixing in "normal" (let's read that as average) hetero-centric society. In fact, the truly fascinating thing about ladyboys in Thailand, to me, is that unless THEY choose to make an issue of their gender identity, pretty much no-one else does... except, that is, foreign tourists who are fascinated by them.

The first time I heard the term, I had just climbed into a Tuk Tuk, one of those motorcycle rickshaws that serve as taxis in Bangkok. I wasn't seated behind the driver for more than a minute or two before he turned around and went into the common Tuk Tuk driver routine of trying to sell me something other than the ride. At first he offered me (what I understood to be the services of) a prostitute, asking if I wanted "a girl?" and when I declined that, and without skipping a beat, "a boy?" and then, not knowing what sort of taste I had in sexual partners for hire, he asked "you wan' ladyboy?" I declined that option, too, by the way; I was in town to see the temples and klongs, in other words looking for stimulation of a cultural, not sexual nature. My blasé and ready for any variety of tourist he might encounter, although determined to make some sort of sale, driver, then shifted into offering me bargains on emeralds or rubies, and then when I declined even that, as well, asked me "you wan' seafood dinner?" By then, we had arrived at the Sheraton Royal Orchid, my hotel, and I was left to ponder over a Chang beer in the lobby bar, the concept of Ladyboy. I found the term itself, so up-front and unabashed, so straight forward, but inelegant a use of language, to be interesting, as I found the matter-of-fact way it is offered in conversation. Here, was something truly different.

During the several tours of Thailand that I took over the next few years, I caught glimpses of ladyboys in stores and on the streets and on Bangkok’s modern Metro, an elevated rapid transit system that moves its population around the city. And, as I would see over and over again, the only folks who seemed to acknowledge them as something outside the ordinary were foreign tourists. 

Then, a few years after that Tuk Tuk ride, I was on a budget tour of the country and seated with my brother, (often my traveling companion) at a large group table, having lunch in, I believe it was, the city of Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand. As luck would have it our "waitress" was a ladyboy. She (I believe it is correct to call her that even though under her garments one would find biological evidence to the contrary) was late twenties, quite pretty and wearing makeup, but in this case with the larger hands of a man and that telltale bodily proportion of wide shoulders and narrow hips (the opposite a woman's) that showed her to be transgender. Chatting up waiters and waitresses is something I do ordinarily; I find this harmless acknowledgement of a fellow human's intellect and personality to be informative and fun. And I didn't see any reason not to engage this one in some polite chit chat about the city we were in, the weather, and the experience of serving tables... whatever came to mind. We had a pleasant exchange, one without any hint of either of us acknowledging that there was anything out of the ordinary happening. And in her mind, I feel certain, that WAS the case, exactly.

The peculiar thing about this, though, was that the biggest contingent within our dozen-strong tour group was a group of middle aged gay men from the New York City area. My brother and I (who are not gay, by the way) got along famously with these guys, who turned out to be great traveling companions... HOWEVER, they, who were seated to my immediate right as I had my little 10 minute chat with our ladyboy waitress, seemed to be very put off by my behavior. I guess, they simply couldn't get with the Thai program that ladyboys are just average people and there is nothing to make a fuss about or really, to even notice, about them. They are just more people in the eternal crowd of humanity that one shares the world with.

I was reminded of all this as I came across this video on YouTube.  Its creator is a guy whose successful and popular series of videos about his experience in moving his life to the Philippines, is one I've watched a good deal. His agenda is simply to show other Westerners what life is like in the Philippines. He is the very picture of a well adjusted, middle aged man, who earns part of his living (I think) describing in his videos his experiences and giving advice to others interested in following his example.  I've enjoyably watched his modest, but interesting, videos about the cost of living, renting apartments, dating Philippine women, dealing with immigration rules, etc. etc. etc. And, I guess, it is no surprise that eventually he would do one on ladyboys in the Philippines, as well.

What I like about this video so much is its authentic spontaneity. Apparently, he saw a ladyboy, one who was appealing in her dignified way of being, while shopping in a mall and politely asked if he could interview her. A charming slice of life, I think. The interview is quite revealing, as the interviewer casts about for worthwhile questions to ask,  and the ladyboy subject gives frank and heartfelt answers in response. One is left with the impression that this video gives a good view of the average life of the average ladyboy. This is a very unpretentious, very human exchange. Great stuff... great YouTube video! 

By the way, this series, as of this writing and according to the 'stats' posted alongside the videos, seems to draw in the thousands to low ten thousands of views per video. This, I think, is pretty successful, but not overwhelming, compared to some of the YouTube superstars' level of success in drawing views. Those guys draw in the hundreds of thousands of views, ordinarily. This particular video, the ladyboy interview Part 1, though, shows almost 160 thousand views, this morning. In other words, there's much more interest in this one. Further, there are a GREAT MANY videos by other producers about Thai ladyboys posted on YouTube. And I'll point out that while this one seems to me to be straightforward reporting about an interesting facet of life in a corner of the world where life is quite different from the US, not all of the video offerings in this ladyboy genre are so. Some of them seem to me to be motivated by, or drift into, pure titillation with something that both fascinates and puzzles us; something that we find appealing, but in a way that makes us uncomfortable.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

There is No Escaping Risk

Lange-Bogle 11: There is No Escaping Risk

One of the more perplexing things in life is that now that I'm retired and have a bunch of money, I have to manage it. As a young man I worked hard to get that money and now that I have it I can't rest, I have to work to keep it. And it seems like the world is one big conspiracy to make that difficult. Here we have a video featuring an interview with John Bogle, who according to Wikipedia

"is the founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group. His 1999 book Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor became a bestseller and is considered a classic within the investment community.), one of the greatest investers and authorities in investing in the world."

Let me tell you, this is not the sort of guy I would be caught dead listening to if I didn't have a bunch of money and a whole lot of confusion and fear about what to do with it.

By the way, there are tons of videos on YouTube about investing, many of them offering the same insights and advice and many of them contradicting one another and if you start watching these,  pretty soon you have to start wrestling with the issue of (all apologies to my banker friends) "Which money geek do I listen to, which bank dork do I trust?" I still haven't figured that one out yet, but if you get caught in this miasma (love that word) pretty soon you are involved in attempting to judge human nature through how the subject of a video presents himself  to the camera and audience. This, as a way to gain some leverage in judging who you can trust. And you know, even if any of this viewing doesn't help me financially, this is an area of personal growth that I welcome.

Talk about being overtaken, finally, by my own emotional maturity: clean cut, straight talking, dudes in suits is not a category of human I come to appreciate naturally. I much prefer to watch videos about authors, or musicians, or artists, or travelers or other sorts of adventurers. Chalk that up to immaturity, if you must. Still, another scary thing about all of this investment video viewing is that I've actually come to admire, even LIKE some of these guys. They may not be cool in the way I prefer people be cool, but they are smart and make good sense.

In this video you have Bogle explaining that retired people who shy away from taking any risk with their money, putting it in bank CDs for instance, are being foolish, as over, say, ten years, when one figures in inflation, they will lose 30% of their value, conservatively, or so he insists so confidently and matter-of-factly as he talks to the interviewer. Further, in his very understated manner, he throws in the stealth bomb that when you put your faith in things like those CDs "you've taken a big risk, by in effect,  speculating that the dollar will never change... and it never has and I don't think in our life time it ever will... when you look at stocks and bonds... stocks at least have a fighting chance to overcome inflation!" He goes on and on... and the interviewer who is seated alongside him takes notes on his legal pad about the smart and important things that he says. Ugh! I hate what he's saying and I hate that it makes such good sense.


Come to think of it though, so much of the advice I've received during my lifetime has come from older, not cool looking,  and ostensibly wiser humans - and it  gave the same unsettling, unpleasant feeling when I heard it the first few times: "Brush your teeth or you'll get cavities and have to get drilled at the dentist!" from my mother - "Save your money for when you'll really want it, don't spend it all on some nonsense right now!" from my dad - "Pay attention in class and get good grades on your report card so that you can go to college and get a good job when you grow up!"  from Mrs. Roberts, my 5th grade teacher, and "Lose some weight and exercise regularly so that you don't have a heart attack or stroke!" from my doctor. None of this went down easily and the advice Mr. Bogle offers in this video is no exception.

Interesting, that this video has (as of this writing) drawn only 4,366 views even though it clearly was created and posted by some sophisticated, successful commercial media organization. But maybe it's not surprising - after all, listening to and hearing stuff like this is not fun.
Whether I like the message offered here or not, though, I do love the title of this video. And I appreciate that it's a bit of irony that this specific piece of advice about what to do with one's retirement savings, when verbalized and in print, comes off as the poetry of an essential life truth: There is No Escaping Risk!