Monthly Archives: June 2010

The New Generation of Talent Shows

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll.

I’ve never claimed to be topical. I’ve never claimed to be current. Which is why today I write on the phenomenon that is…YouTube. A few years too late? Absolutely, but I only just started blogging, so I have some catching up to do.

When I was young, there was “Star Search,” helping to find talented singers, dancers, comedians, and, of course, who could forget the crucial spokesmodel category?

“Star Search” eventually faded, and ultimately, in its wake, came shows like the ever-popular “American Idol,” in which I personally lost interest after season two; “America’s Got Talent,” which I watch occasionally; and “Last Comic Standing,” which I still watch fairly regularly.

But along comes talent’s greatest asset, video-sharing sites like YouTube. Gone are the days where it takes years to get “discovered.” Now you can be well-known in a week. It’s extraordinary, really.

Take 13-year-old Greyson Michael Chance (Twitter, YouTube). The video of him playing piano and performing a cover of the Lady Gaga song “Paparazzi” has been viewed by over 25 million people, and Ellen DeGeneres (Twitter) herself has created a record label just to sign him. This is the point where my mother says, “Come here,” so she can smack me for not being more talented at something. When you’re jealous of someone half your age, perhaps it’s officially time to throw in the towel. (Well, okay, it’s hardly the first time I’ve been jealous of someone half my age. And, really, I threw in the towel a long time ago, so…)

But it makes me wonder. Are the people who post videos that ultimately go viral – that is to say, videos that wind up being unexpectedly viewed by large numbers of people – really prepared for the fame (or perhaps notoriety) that they experience? Should an unknown 13-year-old boy suddenly be exposed to massive numbers of fans without any preparation? Shouldn’t people have to work for their fame? And, perhaps most importantly, does everyone deserve fame? After all, Justin Bieber was discovered thanks to YouTube, and don’t even get me started on that arrogant little – ahem. Sorry, I digress.

I would love for my blog to be read by large numbers of people – eventually. But I wouldn’t want it to jump from 20 people who read my stuff to 100,000 people in just a short period of time. I use this to hone my writing skills, to improve so that perhaps one day I’ll write well enough that people will want to share my articles with others (speaking of which, that fun little toolbar at the bottom of each post lets you do just that quite easily).

Not that it matters. YouTube (and its resulting celebrities) are here to stay, for better or worse. And don’t misunderstand me. Plenty of good comes from it. I just hope that the far larger number of people who don’t wind up being discovered – especially younger people – don’t give up on their dreams just because their video didn’t go viral. Take it from someone who used to give up on everything – you have to keep dreaming. Without dreams, we basically have nothing to live for.

Well, I can honestly say this post veered considerably from what I had in mind when I first started typing. And maybe that’s the best kind of writing.

Now I’m going to go film myself singing a Lady Gaga song.

Hmm. Then again, maybe I won’t.

Until next time, thanks for reading.


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I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll with the punches.

Having never seen the original series, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of “The A-Team,” but I have to admit, I found myself thoroughly entertained. But, then again, it’s an action flick starring Liam Neeson. Chances were pretty good, indeed, that I’d enjoy it, considering “Taken” is one of my favorite movies. Add Jessica Biel on top of that, and I’m surprised I wasn’t in line opening night.

As with any good action movie, suspension of disbelief is a necessity. Fortunately, I tend to walk around in a nearly permanent state of suspended disbelief (would that just be “belief”?), so it wasn’t particularly difficult. It’s not likely that you’re going to hear me say, “That could never happen!” when I’m watching a movie. In fact, it’s highly unlikely you’ll even catch me watching a movie that could actually happen.

“A-Team” is quite well-cast, with the aforementioned Neeson and Biel, and Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley (from “District 9,” a movie I’ve yet to see but I think I’d like immensely). Cooper already has a special place in my heart for having starred in “Alias.” And I’ve been a fan of Biel since her “7th Heaven” days – y’know, in the early years when “7th Heaven” actually didn’t suck. A surprise was the appearance of Gerald McRaney. I’m probably one of the youngest people alive who actually fondly remembers his TV series “Major Dad.” (Factoid: McRaney is married to Delta Burke, of “Designing Women” fame.)

And though no one will get this reference, there was also a fun little Easter Egg in the movie, as listed in the credits of a movie playing on screen was an actor named “Reginald Barclay,” which happens to be the name of a character played in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” by Dwight Schultz, who just so happened to play Murdock in the original “A-Team” TV series. But that’s enough “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

Several exciting trailers preceded the movie. I definitely can’t wait to see “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” with Nicolas Cage. And “Predators”? Um…joygasm! Not to mention it’s by Robert Rodriguez. And, finally, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” which looks like a geek’s dream movie.

I leave you now with this trailer for “A-Team.” If you like action comedies, I suggest you see it post haste.

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Summer Weight

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll.

So, they say that most people have a winter weight and a summer weight, right? And people usually weigh less in the summer and more in the winter, what with the holidays that occur in that time and the yummy goodness that is pumpkin pie and all that.

I, on the other hand, continuing my lifelong trend of being annoyingly different, actually gain weight in the summer. I find it easier to be active and exercise and everything else in the winter, when it’s cooler and there’s less to do, than in the summer, when it’s hot and sticky and I generally have a (slightly) more active social life.

Case in point, I woke up a few days ago and, contemplating how annoying the treadmill would be, I decided to weigh myself, hoping that my weight would be the same as it had been a couple of weeks ago, and I’d settle into a simple maintenance plan instead of a weight-loss goal, until the motivation hits me again (which it will).

Now, let me rewind a bit and inform you that, over the past several years, I’ve actually managed to lose 40 pounds. This certainly isn’t “Biggest Loser” speed or numbers, but I’m quite happy with it. I generally stay within a few pounds of 200, and I’m content to remain there. It’s easier to keep off when you lose it slowly anyway.

So, a few weeks ago, when I was around 205, I wasn’t thrilled, but that’s still what I consider tolerable. I figured if I was around 206ish, I wouldn’t bother with the treadmill for now, and I’d just keep an eye on my weight and, when it starts to increase, I’d start with the cardio again.

I wasn’t expecting 208. That was harsh. And unfair. And some other words that I won’t say in case some younger eyes are reading this.

I saw that, my eyes widened, my stomach dropped. “I shall start working out hardcore once more, until I get back to a more reasonable weight,” I proclaimed in my best Renaissance-style voice.

Then I turned on the TV and ate breakfast. And, with the sugar rush that Corn Pops can provide, I was struck by an epiphany.

“As long as I’m under 210…”

I’m sure this particular attitude won’t last, and I’ll be back at it in no time. But on the off chance it does, don’t be too surprised if, one day, I open my blog thusly:

“I’m Nathan, and this is how you roll me onto my side, out of my bed, out of the house, and down the hill.”

(Leave a comment and tell me your weight-loss stories!)

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Kennywood Park – A Blast from the Past

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll.

Every once in a while – or for some of us, myself included, somewhat frequently – it’s fun to be nostalgic. It’s fun to look back at our past or perhaps even further back into years long before we were here. I think that’s why I love Kennywood Park so much.

Kennywood has been around since 1898, when it started as a picnic spot due to its scenic views of the Monongahela River. But I’m not really writing this as a history lesson. You can go to Wikipedia for that. (Speaking of Wikipedia, most of the pictures I use in this article came from there, so thanks!)

What I love is that, while many parks insist on constantly updating, having the latest and greatest, Kennywood chooses to preserve its past. Most of its rides have been around for a while. The park itself is a designated historical landmark, as are some of the rides, such as the carousel.

Kennywood is an old-fashioned amusement park, so many people probably overlook it, opting for thrills instead of fun.  It’s important to recognize the difference; I liken it to the difference between shock humor and things that are actually funny. Though Kennywood offers some thrills – Phantom’s Revenge (a hypercoaster), Exterminator (an indoor “spinning mouse” coaster), and Pitt Fall (a drop tower) among others – most of its rides are calmer but still remarkably enjoyable. Its three wooden coasters – Thunderbolt, Racer, and Jack Rabbit – have stood the test of time. The Pirate, which just happens to be my favorite ride, may not be wild, but it produces what my cousin Stacey so accurately describes as that “whee” feeling, that tingle in your stomach that you get when you hit that sensation of weightlessness. And you don’t come off of it feeling sick (unless, as I discovered at my last visit, you are already feeling a bit nauseous before you get on – getting old sucks).

And don’t even get me started on the food. There’s just something about amusement-park food, isn’t there? Perhaps most popular are the Potato Patch French fries, which aregenerally considered a staple. I get them every time I’m there, though I admit, I’m starting to prefer other treats, such as the pizza, over them (which may be Kennywood sacrilege tantamount to three days in the stocks).

Kennywood is a trip into the past, to a time when families spent more time together, teens had fun that didn’t involve getting wasted, and the most exciting thing was running from one ride to the next. As I get older, I find that I appreciate it on a wholly different level than I did when I was a kid, but it hasn’t lost any of the fun, charm, or aesthetic nuances that make it my favorite summer hangout.

Enjoy the video of Stacey and me riding Racer, and if you like what I write, be sure to share my blog. And, if you didn’t notice the link over there on the right, you can follow me on Twitter @howirollblog. Once I get a few followers, I’ll start tweeting.

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