Monday, October 20, 2014

In the Event of an Emergency

Today, I was reassured, via Twitter, that Facebook would inform my friends that I was safe in the event of an emergency.

This is either reassuring, or sort of chilling. I’m not surprised the old book of Face would know my location. I tell it where I am all the time.

But what I’m concerned about is, does Facebook actually know what constitutes an emergency? I mean, I’ve seen some of my virtual friends get pretty up in arms about things like broken heels on shoes, for example, or bad service at a restaurant. Will Facebook update my friends the next time I survive a substandard waiter at The Outback?

As comforting as it would be to have the support of that girl from high school whom I haven’t seen in twenty-three years, the one I wouldn’t recognize if I ran into her in the street, if say, my DVR box fails to record Scandal…do we really need our machines to do this much thinking and communicating for us? How many steps away from Skynet are we, really? Should I start stocking up on canned goods, I wonder? Or should I start small and start trying to like the food that comes in canned-good form, maybe?

Things are moving very, very fast. Already, poor Siri’s voice sounds silly and robotic in those HTC commercials. Even though she was a marvel just a few years ago, now, in comparison to the new phone-girl (Cortalana? Catalano? Who comes up with these names?) Siri seems like one of those video games from my childhood that looked like this:
This was actually seriously cool, once.

I guess everything is a marvel when it’s new, and then it’s a relic before you know it.  I just hope if there’s another rough hurricane season next year, Facebook will tell my friends to send snack food. And possibly a generator.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Lattes: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Since Ouija, a board game, has now been made into a movie, it’s becoming pretty clear that lots of common household objects now can and should be made into films.
You might think that the stunning failure of the movie version of the classic game Battleship would have served as a sort of a cautionary tale, but, guess not.

Probably there are lots of folks who keep remembering how successful those darn Transformers flicks turned out to be, and those were based on toys. 

So just in case there’s someone out there looking to take a chance on a great idea for a movie about an inanimate object, here are my pitches:

Glade Scented Candles

I don’t know I if you’re aware of this, but these candles are, and I quote, “Inspired by the best feelings in the world.” The best feelings…IN THE WORLD. That’s hard to argue with. And then we have the drama of the multi-layer candle: one candle. Two smells. It’s pretty epic. Maybe this film could finally be the one that brings smell-o-vision to the multiplex.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

This film has holiday classic written all over it. And, obviously, some smell-o-vision, as well as cross promotional tie-in possibilities.


This may seem like a harmless little item sitting in your desk drawer. But consider the sheer power. Once something is written, it’s pretty much there forever, unless you apply WITE-OUT. What if the power of WITE-OUT spread…what if feelings could be erased…or thoughts? The very fabric of reality is pretty much in danger.
This idea is gold. Well, it’s white, but you get the idea.

A Waffle Iron

This isn’t really a dramatic movie…just more like comfort food for the eyes and ears, perfect for that movie-release dry spell that hits right around January. Better yet, go straight for the taste buds and just scrap the whole filming-the-movie part, get a bunch of waffle irons, and have a waffle feast right there in the theater. I, for one, will buy a ticket to that show every time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloween Playlist of..Playlists

I've made a lot of Halloween playlists…I love music, I love Halloween, it's a match made in…well, in I suppose heaven sounds wrong, but you get the idea.

Rather than post the actual lists here, I've been making some lists on Spotify, and so today I'm sharing a few for this month we call October.

First up, we have the Classics…not necessarily classic rock…it's more that these are some of my classic go-to songs for this time of year.

Halloween Classics

Next, we have a more eclectic mix…many of these songs were part of my Pandemonium Mix for the Heaven & Hell themed party my best friend and I threw a few years ago. I turned my office at the time into Lucifer's lair with the help of some strobe lights and some of these tracks.

Pandemonium Mix

Finally, this year's playlist--at least so far! I went for a dark but mellow vibe this year...

B-Sides: Halloween 14

Always looking for new tracks for all these lists, so send some my way!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Completely Biased List of the Best Halloween Episodes of All Time

5. Freaks and Geeks, "Tricks and Treats"

Bill: "I'm sorry Steve Austin. I can't marry you. I'm mad at you right now. What? I'm sorry I can't hear you. Hold on I'm gonna put the phone on my bionic ear."

It’s Halloween in 1980, which is already awesome.
Someone actually asks Sam if he’s going out for “tricks and treats”—just like the Peanuts characters say in Great Pumpkin. No one has fun, and everyone ends up disappointed, kind of like a real life holiday.
"I'm not a little girl, I'm a bionic woman."

4. Buffy, “Fear Itself”

“I was just thinking about the life of a pumpkin. Grow up in the sun, happily entwined with others, and then someone comes along, cuts you open, and rips your guts out.”

The episode begins with a broken-hearted Buffy running her fingers through a bowl full of pumpkin guts…the bulk of the action takes place in a fraternity horror house that (of course, this is Sunnydale) goes very wrong because while decorating, the brothers accidentally summoned a real demon….and in the end, the demon turns out to be about twelve inches tall. 
Buffy steps on him like he’s a cockroach, and...end scene. 

 3.  Dark Angel, Boo

Original Cindy: "What the hell was that?!"
Max: Flashback. "Happens all the time."

The episode begins normally… as normal as a season 2 episode of Dark Angel can be, anyway. This is the season, after all, that took a perfectly awesome show, and added genetically engineered invisible geniuses, bug men, mermaids, and a dog boy. But the rest of the twenty episodes all take this mutant business very seriously. This one goes weird, and then it goes meta, and the whole thing ends up being just very terrible... but also pretty funny…and therefore kind of perfect for the most wonderful time of the year.

2. My So-Called Life, “Halloween”

“When I was little I, like, worshipped Halloween. And truthfully, part of me still does. 'Cause it's your one chance all year to be someone else.”

It’s not the best episode of this series, by any stretch, but any episode of this show is better than the best of lots of other shows, in my opinion.

Angela flirts with a ghost (for a realistic show they seem to go supernatural fairly often—there’s a ghost in the Christmas ep too!?) Best moment: her little sister, usually a throwaway character, briefly steals the show by doing a perfect emo imitation of her big sister.

1Buffy, “Halloween”

Giles: "And-and your…costume?"
Willow: "I'm a ghost."
Giles: "Yes. Um… the ghost of what, exactly?"

This could be a controversial choice…although Buffy ran for seven seasons, they made only three Halloween episodes. I’ve left off the season six outing, “All the Way.” In spite of some great one-liners, it’s the weakest of the three for me. I’m giving my top slot to season 1’s classic, if non-creatively titled “Halloween.”
There are so many quotable moments, but this one would probably win for me just for the moment when Willow, turned momentarily into a ghost by a spell which turns people into their costumes, walks straight through the library wall. Giles drops half the card catalogue, and his expression: priceless. Buffy gets a nice moment at the end when she’s turned back into the @$&-kicker we know and love. And, unusual for an early ep: Spike! The perfect Halloween cocktail.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bring on the Robots

So Infiniti is playing the snot out of this commercial for its new Q50—which includes “Driving Aids” which help you out if you suddenly forget, you know, how to drive.

To illustrate, the cotton-headed ninnymuggins behind the wheel in this spot manages to almost wreck not once but twice in fifteen seconds. Luckily, someone who does have a working cerebellum bought him a really nice car, so the car’s superior intellect took over and reminded him, “Hey, buddy—you have to stay in your lane.” And, a few seconds later, “When a car in front of you stops, you have to stop too—wait, never mind—I’ll do it for you.”

If it seems as though I’m anthropomorphizing the car, to be fair, in this case the car is the brains of the operation. If you remember the eighties like me this commercial gives you déjà vu, because—Knight Rider.

At the end of the commercial, the narrator intones, “It’s instinct to protect leaves you free to drive.” Or, not drive, dude, in point of fact.

But this is probably the direction we’re all heading. As a small percentage of the population becomes smart enough to make computers the size of a dime, or something, the rest of us get so dumb we forget how to even drive. The robots are probably taking over soon. We might as well just relax and go with it.

To wit, if we’re going to be Skynet’s slaves in a few years anyway, here are a few things I’d like help with:

It turns out different every time. Why? Is it possible that, like the hapless Infiniti driver, my emotions are distracting me and preventing me from always achieving the perfect cup? Send a robot, please.

Small talk
Much like driving and coffee brewing, small talk is fraught with peril. Once again, my emotions can get in the way. And also, what if I’m walking behind someone, and they stop, but I’m thinking about my deadlines, and I fail to stop? A Q50 failsafe would absolutely do the trick.

TV viewing
Let’s face it. It’s hard to hit that power button. Especially in the case of reality TV, how will I know when I’ve experienced enough moral superiority, and can shut off the device before crossing into pathetic-get-a-life binge watching? No doubt the clever folks at Infiniti can help.

In the meantime, I'm pretty bummed out that my car doesn't help me. The darn thing doesn't even chime when I leave the lights on, for lord's sake. It's kind of a miracle I'm still alive. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wearing Yoga Pants/Fearless

Last night I got sucked into a show I’d never seen before: Naked and Afraid. It’s a show about survivalists who sign up—willingly—to doff their clothes and get sent to a godforsaken armpit of the earth where they then try to survive for three weeks. The whole “try to survive” part is mitigated somewhat by the crowd of people filming them, and the team of medics standing at the ready. But, never mind. The contestants (participants?—after all there’s no prize) seem to take all of this very seriously. These are the sort of folks whose hobbies include composting and moralizing. Based on my limited viewing, many seem to call upon the spirits of their deceased loved ones to help them through this challenge. Often a ghost helps them to find shelter, for example, or an edible bug.

Throughout the episodes, the Discovery Channel ran promos with the next group of Naked and Afraiders listing their survival skills. As with all reality TV, as I watched, I imagined how I would handle the various situations. The answer is that I would immediately set about weaving some sort of leaf outfit. If there were no leaves I would of course promptly die of embarrassment. Let the medics try to explain that one to the producers!

I was also inspired to consider my own list of skills.

1.     I can deep fry almost anything.
2.     I can spot most grammar errors. I’m also reasonably good at managing not to point them out to people.
3.     Double coupons
4.     Sitting still for long periods of time.
5.     Misdirection through humor.

There may be a challenge show out there for me, but it probably won’t air on the Discovery Channel. I’m going with Food Network. In the meantime, it’s rather funny to watch a show like Naked and Afraid, while wearing comfy pants and eating mashed potatoes.