Seattle, Washington Tyra and Tesla

The 2008 video passed the 10 million mark on YouTube today.


It took 83 days to get there. The 2006 video took a little over 2 years to hit that number.

Seems as good a reason as any to post.

It’s been over a month since I’ve done a real update. So, let’s see. Where did I leave off?…

Flew back from Michigan and had less than 10 hours in Seattle to sleep and say hi to my girlfriend before I had to fly down to LA for the Jiminy Kimmel show.

I called Melissa from the green room before going on, but the reception was terrible, so I wandered out into the alley off Hollywood Boulevard.

As we talked, I noticed three men with enormous cameras taking pictures about fifty yards away.

"Who are those guys taking pictures of?…Oh. They’re taking pictures of me. Why are they taking pictures of me?…Holy crap. They’re paparazzi. Why are paparazzi taking pictures of me? Oh, right. They think I might be famous…They’re still thinking I might be famous. Wait. One of them is dropping his camera. He realized I’m not famous…Hold on! He’s taking pictures again. I might still turn out to be famous. No. No. He’s changed his mind. I’m definitely not famous at all."

Melissa was enthralled.

By the way, I had no idea about the falling off the rock thing. It really did shake me up a bit. It was, after all, like witnessing one’s own death.

Speaking of witnessing one’s own death, the following week I was invited out to New York to go on The Tyra Banks Show.

There was, I assure you, a probing, meticulously researched, and ultimately revelatory interview, but all I can scrounge off the internet is this tense, awkward bit at the end.

I like the part where she commands her audience to dance by saying, "Do it, audience!" She actually refers to her audience as "audience."

I can’t say I spent any time with her that wasn’t in front of a camera, and even that was very brief, but I did come away with some personal impressions. The crux of the show seems to be that every fathomable subject is somehow actually all about Tyra. My episode was ostensibly on popular YouTube videos, but it was really about Tyra’s favorite videos, with occasional digressions into the inexplicable popularity of videos Tyra doesn’t like.

I found it telling when she mentioned she’s allergic to cats, then appeared confounded that people enjoy watching cat videos on YouTube, as if the two things were related. It seemed she was saying: "Don’t you people understand? I’m allergic to cats!"

I’m not sure the term self-involved even covers it. It’s not narcissism. It’s solipsism.

Also, when did it become okay to ask someone how much money they make?

…but lest I should sound like I’m talking trash, I recognize that while boorishness and vanity are off-putting traits in person, they’re also enormously advantageous on television — especially when you’ve got a show named after you. I can’t imagine she’s encouraged to behave in a thoughtful or modest fashion.

And I suppose I should acknowledge that I have a web site named after myself and it’s basically about how every place in the world somehow ties back to me. So maybe I’m just projecting.

One cool bit from the show: they had the couple that made the Wii Fit video on. I seem to be unable to embed it here because of its "objectionable" content. Basically, a guy recorded his girlfriend playing the hula hoop game on Wii Fit. It was a lazy Sunday morning, she was in her panties, and she is truly a gifted hula hooper.

By way of comeupance, they had the boyfriend play the hula hoop game onstage while the girlfriend filmed. Then Tyra commanded him to do it again in his underpants. And since it’s television and the rules are you have to do whatever Tyra says, he did.

I was backstage and I can confirm he had no idea that was going to happen. But the girlfriend did. It was good TV.

The Tyra folks put me up in the New Yorker Hotel, which appears dumpy today, but in its time it was an art deco landmark and a destination of choice for noteworthy figures. Few were more noteworthy than Nikola Tesla, who spent the last 10 years of his life in the hotel.

The inventor of both electricity and wireless technology stayed in 3327, in keeping with his habit of occupying rooms that are divisible by 3. There he lived, forgotten and unappreciated, dreaming of time travel, teleportation, spacecrafts, death rays, and doing a whole lot of bitching about Einstein.

I poked around before leaving for the show.

Img_5763 Img_5761

Tesla died in this room in 1943.

There’s a default Kubrickian creepiness to any long hallway with a door at the end. The spooky factor increases dramatically when you hear whispers coming from the other side. I squealed and scurried back to the elevator like a frightened little girl.

The next week I followed Melissa down to Mountain View for her business trip to Google. While there, I followed up on an invite to give a "Tech Talk" on campus.

There’s an excrutiatingly unabridged version on YouTube, but I’m going to try to edit it down and put it up separately without any of my pointless tangents.

At the end of that same week, I came back home and gave a 5 minute Ignite talk at the Gnomedex conference.

As intense and stressful as it was, the Ignite format is a brilliant way to rein in speakers who have a hard time getting to the point. With five minutes, you really don’t have time for anything that isn’t the point.

That was a few weeks ago now and I haven’t had any more trips away from Seattle since. This is the longest I’ve stayed put all year. It’s bliss.

Oh, also, I got a book deal. I’m told it’s due out in May.