Nothing but Networking

What does Facebook mean to you? It used to be what happens to students when they fall asleep studying. *rimshot* Now, it’s a global social networking site that even my mom visits. My mom has a Facebook page. MY MOM! A little back story to my mother’s electronic awareness. I got her Taken on Blu Ray for the fancy new Blu Ray player I had just picked out for her. It streams Netflix, You Tube, does the dishes, this thing is the new hotness. So, after setting it up for them and handing over the disc, I figured my work there was done and I could head to wherever I was heading to ( I go lots of places, like a nomad with great hair who bathes regularly). I get down the road a bit and I get a phone call from my mom. She said the DVD player is broken. For 400 bucks it better damn well be able to fix itself. Apparently I got them the directors cut as the movie plays for a bit then suddenly starts over. So I drive back to find they were watching the DVD menu for the movie and didn’t think just to hit play. This same person has a Facebook- with a picture of her and everything- so, that should give you some sort of idea of how Facebook has now become a norm in US society. If a woman who uses her iBook to largely collect what I can only assume is precious dust has a Facebook page, it won’t be long before rocks and trees do to0.

Now, you’re probably asking “So, what? Tons of people are on Facebook, what’s your point?”  Well, I’m getting there, jerkass, I had start somewhere. My point is exactly this: Tons of people are on Facebook and it’s actually taking the place of a real social network. Facebook is not a real social network. A real social network is actual flesh and blood friends and family that come over or do stuff with you. Facebook is a virtual social network where you can virtually do anything. Literally anything. Play card games, raise a farm, start a  zoo, whatever. How do I know you can do all this? Because the news feed that lets me know every little thing you’re  doing on Facebook. It also shows me how much time you are spending doing those things. Now, if you’re at work and need to look at anything besides another TPS report (If you don’t know what I’m talking about  you can be legally executed in 6 states) I understand that. However, some people must work all the time cause they are on there all the time!

I’m picking on Facebook because that’s the current big deal. Myspace, Friendster (which surprisingly wasn’t created in the early 90s),  the name changes but the game is the same. Don’t get it twisted, they’re great tools. I use Facebook and Myspace (even though  it’s become more like the run down mall only the most stubborn shopper won’t leave) to keep in touch with most of my friends back in the Sunshine State. It’s actually how I learned what was going on within my own immediate family a couple times. It’s times like that however, when social networking becomes a crutch. People rely on that newsfeed to find out what their friends are doing instead of just calling up. Also, that newsfeed can bring the worst kind of news too. Such as what a certain someone is doing with a certain someone else. People don’t want to look but, they just have to and drive themselves crazy over that certain whomever. (If you’ve been through this, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t don’t sweat it. Just another point of how deep the immersion goes).

More often than not it brings the most inane news too. I know you can set your particular feed to blot out certain news items, like the aforementioned Farmville cause why do I give a damn you found an imaginary lost brown cow? I don’t care how sad that icon of it is! It seems that no matter how often I block something Facebook releases another annoying app. Yoville? Really? What’s next,  Crackertown? Jewsylvania?

Marginally racist app names aside, the most grievous offense of social networking is the death of grammar and actual words. I know that texting and IMs fired the first gunshot into grammar’s chest but social networking has led to entire paragraphs and posts with the most shortened and jumbled nonsense. I have a friend (we’ll call her CR since names are frowned on in the blog world), she has a friend who spells her name Kris10! (That’s not her name, it’s a Myspace handle so, I can use it here. Although I think you can figure out what her name is. Not exactly The Da Vinci Code) This person is the worst offender ever at butchering the language I decided to major in. Text talk is for busy people who are at work or important people on the go. This girl is neither. “Hey grrl, wut r u doin l8r?” She is breaking at least 10 rules there. People who do that regularly should be shot in the genitals with a taser. Stop being so damn lazy and use your words like an adult.

Well, 900 plus. Not bad for the first one. It only took two months. Hopefully the next one, which will be on texting/ims, streaming/downloading music and movies, or a review of Sherlock Holmes (it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want) will be a little more timely.

Comp Out

I love technology. Always have. From NES to Wii, Walkman to iPod, rabbit ears to HD. It was always the best thing ever to me when I got it. My shoes had holes the size of golf balls and I ate cereal with water but, I had my gadgets. It’s only gotten better and cooler in the last 20 years. Everything does everything. You can bring up whatever you want at the click of a button. Stream movies, download songs, look at almost any celeb hottie in the buff, it’s all there.  It’s phenomenal and America has wholeheartedly bought into it. And as usual when people buy completely into something there are drawbacks. (See Religion and Politics)

There are the tried and true ones that have been around ever since leisure was thought to be easy to come by: Fat and lazy. People always seem to think that if you can pick something up that’s entertaining and can do so whenever you feel you’ll only want to do that one thing and will gain 400 lbs as a result. Are there people like that? Of course there are ,but there are also people who thought it’d be a good idea to use a curling iron as a sex toy. (Read the side of it sometime, that warning didn’t get there via foresight) But, I’m not gonna pick on the large and moronic, they get enough attention in my other blogs. I’m talking about what could ensnare anybody. And what could assist them too.
The next few blogs will be dedicated to looking at various virtual parts of our lives:

  • Technological advances that have become accept and even encouraged.
  • Social networking
  • Instant Messenger Services
  • Streaming and downloading

These are all great tools and terrible masters. It should be fun, especially given my love of technology. We’ll see if I can take a long hard look at my affair with all things electronic without the rose colored glasses. Should be fun.

Holloween

Yeah yeah yeah, I know it’s Halloween but, that’s one of my “clever” headlines.

Anyway, remember when Halloween was about candy, slasher flicks, candy, costumes, candy and candy? Well, now it’s just about getting out of the way for Christmas and candy. For instance, I’m at the store ON Halloween and they are already taking down the Halloween decorations! The day literally isn’t even over yet. It wasn’t even half over! The real fun doesn’t start till after dark. But, nope, Santa’s fat ass has gotten so big, it’s now sticking firmly into October. It’s like a holiday version of Risk. Christmas has conquered Thanksgiving, next is Halloween. People trick or treating with stockings instead of pillowcases. Handing out god awful fruitcakes instead of Baby Ruths, and people singing carols while trick or treating. Keep your filthy, soot covered hands of Halloween, Kringle! 

Now, I’ll grant you, seeing kids chuck fruitcakes back at the houses they got them from would be awesome. In fact, if kids want to start doing that now, I’m fine with it. However, gross foodstuffs vandalism  is not worth a parade of people coming to my door singing We Three Kings and expecting candy. It’s knock knock, treat or treat, candy, goodbye. And what happened to forcing kids to dress up?! I know for a fact those terrible costumes with the plastic faces still exist. And if you wanted candy, you breathed through that tiny mouth slit for at least 6 hours while the entire mask stuck to your sweaty face. And you liked it! Half the people that came to my door, HALF, no costumes. Just kids begging for candy. What it is this, Oliver Twist? If you don’t have a costume you better be ready to sing and dance your ass off, Artful Dodger. Or get creative. ME: “What are you supposed to be?” (Even if you can clearly see they are a skeleton or cat or blatantly out of costume, you have to ask. Apparently if you’re giving out candy your costume is a moron. and if you’re dressed up, you’re a moron whatever you dressed up as) The kid: “I”m supposed to be getting candy.” That’s worth a KitKat that may or may not have a razor blade in it.

So yeah, I’m blaming Christmas for all that. People don’t care about Halloween anymore. Well, except goths but, let’s face it, every day is Halloween for them. (It is! If you look like you crap ravens and bats, you’re a goth and the rest of us can freely use the “Everyday is Halloween” joke.) It’s all just going through the motions till Christmas. And if you live in a place where Halloween is still recognized by more than a little pumpkin on the calender, good for you. Hold on to it cause Santa Claus is coming to your town and he’s looking for revenge on Jack Skellington.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Christmas. In December. Even when I was a materialistic, present grubbing kid, I didn’t want it 365 days a year. Or even 60 days a year as it is now. It was a one shot deal where you got to wake your parents up stupid early and in the rudest way imaginable, so you can open presents. If you’re a kid, that’s the best concept ever conceived. Also all those relatives you saw on Thanksgiving? Now you really want to see them cause they come bearing even more swag. This holds true to this day for me. Except now I have to wake up and put out said presents. Karma is a bitch. So basically: Love Christmas, on Christmas.

Now, all the above said about Christmas taking up so much room, has given way to a new idea that is one of the worst of all time. It’s an idea called “Taking back the holidays.” Now, this is sounds nice, like maybe someone is finally sticking up for Halloween and Thanksgiving. WRONG! It’s people getting into fights about how their holiday isn’t as important as everyone elses. Which if you are a Christmas fanatic is just stupid. It’s the big thing and always will be. There’s no need to start the whole “I’m gonna say Merry Christmas and I don’t care what people think.” No one cares. and if you come across someone that does care, you are going out of your way to do so and you both lose. Congrats. Now, I’ve recently found out that this idea is not just practiced by paranoid Christmas people who think that two months just isn’t enough for this holiday. There are others out there who feel excluded cause their holiday isn’t as popular. Well, tough, they aren’t. If someone wants to have a Christmas party, it’s their party they can call it whatever they want. If you want to have a Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Tet, Ramadan (although, I don’t know what you’d eat) party, that’s fine. But, when you try to water down someone’s good time, they get as up in arms as you do about being excluded. Everyone just needs to shut up and have their own deal. Say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas all you want but, don’t go correcting people, you’re just gonna piss them off. And then people like me who already think the holidays get enough attention will be hucking fruitcakes at your door on Halloween.

Movie Facts

Alright, I’ve tried over and over to put up reviews of both The Ugly Truth and the new Harry Potter. I know both are late, which is why I used the word “tried.” So, I thought in the theme of movies, I’d put up some movie trivia. This won’t be a long blog but, at least it’ll be something.  Here goes:

First since I’ve been doing research on the Potter series since mid-July here’s some Harry Potter facts:

1. Alan Rickman was not the first choice to play Severus Snape. It was Tim Roth. (For those who don’t know Tim Roth, he was the Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs, the jerk in the cafe in Pulp Fiction, and finally he’s in the new show Lie to Me)

2. When Roth was unable to join the cast, Rickman was hand picked by J.K. Rowling.

3. Originally when Potter was optioned, Steven Spielberg was going to direct and it was rumored Haley Joel Osment would star. Rowling put the kibosh on that as she wanted an all British cast (thank GOD, by the way. Check out Secondhand Lions and see just how awkward and weird Haley Potter would’ve been).

4. The producers who optioned Potter had not intended on making all books into movies or even making them into a live action movie. They were going to make an animated feature and also looking to mesh together the books. Rowling also vetoed this (the first author worth a billion dollars is nobody’s fool).

5. Rowling approved all the final scripts (then again, maybe she is).

6. The Order of the Phoenix is the only movie not written by Steve Kloves. It’s writer, Michael Goldenberg, actually offered to write the entire series but his draft of Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected in favor of Kloves’. The producers stuck with Kloves from then on. (He choose not to do Order of the Phoenix. Yet came back for Half Blood Prince. I guess he only wanted a gold plated back scratcher.)

7. During the underwater scenes for Goblet of Fire, Daniel Radcliffe got two ear infections. (I think in the wizard world that’s called Bloodius Q-tippy)

8. After the Chamber of Secrets, the character Dobby was cut from all other films due to “time constraints” (yeah, right. More like irritation constraints. That guy was a sawed off Jar Jar Binks).

9. Director Guillermo Del Toro was offered to direct a couple films in this series however, he opted out to do the Hellboy films (this guy LOVES Hellboy. Here’s a small list of movies he turned down to do both Hellboys: I am Legend, Blade: Trinity, Alien Vs. Predator, and One Missed Call. Okay so, maybe Hellboy was the smarter move….).

10. For Half Blood Prince, the studio wanted to give Dumbledore a girlfriend (cause there’s not enough bloody romance in that movie more on that later) however, Rowling said that was impossible as Dumbledore is gay. She would make this public knowledge when the 7th book came out.

That’s enough Harry Potter, onto turned down movie roles and who was cast instead:

1. David Schwimmer was originally cast to play Agent J in Men in Black. He decided to do Breast Men instead. (See? Retarded movie choices aren’t just limited to Ben Affleck)

2. Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix. He chose to do Wild Wild West instead. (There’s really no need to insult him, he did Wild Wild West.)

3. Nick Cage also turned down the role of Neo, proving there is a God. God’s existence would later be thrown into question when Cage was allowed to remake The Wicker Man.

4. Chris Farley was originally cast as Shrek. His untimely passing opened the door for Mike Meyers. Side Note: After recording all his lines, Meyers thought Shrek would be better served with a Scottish accent. So, they rerecorded all the lines in a Scottish accent (no, I’m not making that up).

5. There was some debate over who would play Marla Singer in Fight Club. The studio wanted Reese Witherspoon while director David Fincher fought for Helena Bonham Carter. Fincher won out but, only because  Witherspoon turned down the role because it was “too dark.”  Instead she did Cruel Intentions. You know, the movie where Sarah Michelle Gellar sniffs coke out of a cross and makes a bet with her step brother where if he wins they’ll have sex in whatever way he wants (that’s got G rating written all over it).

Let’s close this out with some weight gain movie trivia:

1. In The Machinist Christian Bale had to get dangerously thin. He decided to start running insane amounts to lose all the weight. He got so thin however, he actually had to start walking as he didn’t have the strength to run in a straight line (or yell at crew members getting in his shot).

2. In Castaway Tom Hanks lost then regained 30 lbs in the course of filming. This took such a toll on his body, doctors told him if he ever does a drastic change like that again, it will probably kill him (I doubt this as he survived You’ve Got Mail).

3. For American History X Edward Norton put on 30 lbs of muscle (and it still didn’t save him from that terrible shower scene…).

4. In X-men Origins: Wolverine Liev Schreiber was told to put on a muscle suit so he wouldn’t look small compared to Hugh Jackman. In order to avoid having to wear the suit, Schreiber put on 35 lbs of muscle with Jackmans help (maybe Jackman can help him pick out a better name. Liev Schreiber looks like a junior jumble puzzle.)

5. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had to drop over 60 lbs when he transitioned from professional wrestling to full time acting (he would soon become the Scorpion King of retard movie choices).

So, there you have it.  A few movie facts you may or may not have known. I hope to put something up soon that doesn’t have numbering after a sentence or two. Keep your fingers crossed.

Transformers: Exactly What Meets the Eye

So,  guess what I saw this weekend? If you guessed a multimillion dollar explosion-fest filled with fighting robots, you would be correct.  I can sum this movie up in three words: Exploding Robot Fight. That’s it. I have done complete justice to the “plot” of this movie.

Before anyone reading this gets all upset because I’m blasting Transformer mythos, shut up and calm down. I’m the guy who didn’t care for the first one because Optimus F’N Prime needed the help of Shia “Lil Indy” Lebouf . (Seriously, if George Lucas, you know the guy who hasn’t written anything good since the late 80s, knew better than to let Shia be more than a supporting cast member, what’s your problem Michael Bay?) I know all about the Transformers, have the ORIGINAL movie (if you don’t know what I’m talking about then this paragraph clearly isn’t for you) and actually owned an honest to God Optimus Prime radio. It didn’t work or anything so it was basically a mock up of Optimus Prime’s head but, so what?! It was Optimus F’N Prime!!!

Anyway, I know Transformers and as far as getting help from humans, this movie was surprisingly better than Bay’s first attempt. As with most sequels, you take what worked in the first movie and do it about 2,000 times more in the second. If you like robots beating the grease out of each other and destroying landscape, you came to the right place.  All the humans really ever do is set up and get killed. I won’t go into details because if I had to sit through 2 hours of set up for the ending payoff, so do you. I will say this though, it’s almost amazing how ineffective we are. Which again, is fine because that’s the whole point of the Transformers. It’s called Transformers. They are the title characters. If the movie were called “Stuttering, shrieking jerk and his family save the world” it would’ve been directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (You see, their cars were actually aliens helping the family all along!! What a twist!!)

Speaking of direction, I know there are far worse directors who could have helmed this (see above).  Michael Bay is not that bad a choice with one glaring exception. Michael, really, only do the “spin completely around whoever/whatever we’re looking at” deal one time. You get to do that one time. And it had better be a damn good one time. The main fight scene would’ve been the perfect time. You might have even done it but honestly, after seeing that shot for the 300th time in 2+ hours, I couldn’t tell anymore. I shouldn’t have to take Dramamine with my popcorn. This isn’t the Blair Witch Project. A straight shot while the action just kinda happens is good enough. No one will look at a scene in that movie and go “you know what’s missing? Spinning! I want to know what’s happening all around them, at every single minute.”

As you can expect, there is absolutely nothing to these characters. Shia yells, Megan smolders, soldiers fire guns, blah blah blah. If anyone expects to shine in a Michael Bay movie, they are retarded (and don’t give me that Bruce Willis in Armageddon garbage. One goodbye speech to a teary-eyed Liv Tyler doesn’t count).  But again: TRANS-FORMERS. No one should care about the humans. At all. They could’ve cast a whole bunch of unknowns and it wouldn’t matter. The only bit of good casting was getting all of the original voices they could. Once again hearing Peter Cullen say “Let’s Roll” popped this fan boy.

The bottom line: This movie is good for what it is. It’s an action burger, topped with action sauce served with a side of action fries, and tall, frothy glass of BOOM!!!! If you don’t mind that kind of movie meal, by all means, dig in.

Commercial Suckcess

The DVR is the best invention of the last 10 years. You can keep your medical advances (until I need them) and your fancy cars (cause I can’t afford them). Not only can you fast forward through boring parts, you can watch the shows whenever you want. Just because you’re at a bar with your buddy watching the Magic lose in the finals, does that mean you should miss Jon Stewart’s hilarious headlines? It’s not your fault the NBA doesn’t know better than to just hand the series to the Lakers. It’s also not your fault the bars are cashing in on the fair weather fans by making “Magic shots” that are insanely cheap. You’re just an intelligent consumer. (Until you consume too many of those shots.)

Mediocre teams lucking their ways to championships aside (Hello, Arizona Cardinals!), laughing your hangover off the next day is not even the best part of a DVR. No more commercials. Ever. That is something on par with the moon landing. Recently, I had the unfortunate luck to watch a TV without a DVR.  Not only was XXX: State of the Union on (note to movie bosses: unless the world is being threatened by Big Macs or Small Children, it’s best to leave Ice Cube in the Barbershop)  but, the commercials I saw were like having your face scrubbed with steel wool.  As most of you know, commercials blow. They are 30 second spots of slow death while someone tries to sell you something.  The worst by far were by Geico and Axe deodorant. These actually made me want throw something through the TV (an honor normally reserved for Jessica Simpson, MTV Cribs and every FSU game since 04).

Axe deodorant, when did you lose your way? Your commercials used to be so good, we didn’t even care that your product didn’t work. It was a real simple formula: hot girls feeling up people. Hell, they felt up mannequins at one point. We didn’t care. You actually made enough money to start making real deodorant. And how do you sell me this non useless product? Guys spraying girls with underarm sweat. Have you been watching pornos from Japan? What’s next? Spray your girlfriend with volcanic diarrhea? Axe Baby Wipes! It’s like watching a 70 year old woman try and be sexy, it’s gross and kinda sad.

Same goes for you, Geico. Everyone loves your effeminate British gecko so much they don’t remember that he was a loud mouthed jerk at one point.  These guys already have a strike against them for spawning those retarded cavemen commercials (“Hey, I like those!” Shut up, you’re part of the problem). Which to throw gasoline on a tire fire, they actually gave those jerks a television show. Granted the show was mercifully cancelled within a couple days but, still, seriously?  The Geico Cavemen? Anyway, this blog isn’t about shows that people should be executed for greenlighting, that day will come (Looking at you, Daisy of Love).

The newest turd from that crap factory is this idea of google eyed money stalking strangers. Restaurants, Highways, this magical creep will follow you anywhere.  Wouldn’t you love to see that little bastard stuffed into a strippers G-String? Then I’ll tell you who’s watching. (Yes, they picked a catchy song but, The Song That Never Ends is catchy too. It’s also the leading cause of infant death syndrome. Look it up.)

What I can’t wait for is the inclusion of commercials into TV shows. It started with Seinfeld (Snapple?) and has continued here and there with House drinking Pepsi and Dexter eating some doritos. Actually, if Dexter could chop up and eat the Burger King, piece by piece, I’d buy a whopper everyday for the rest of my life. And if Dexter vomited The King on some girl he’s dating and popped an Axe breath mint….now that’s an epsiode worth saving forever.

Cinema Toast Crunch

If there is anything I love more than sarcasm and a nice, well cooked steak, it’s movies. Specifically, I love going to the theater. Yeah, the food is over priced. Yes,  the people are loud and annoying (and sometimes smell like a rotten egg fart).  I’m sure the floors haven’t been clean since Cuba Gooding Jr. was relevant. I don’t care. Having that giant screen and all those speakers and hearing people react to the movie is fan-damn-tastic. Most of my weekends are spent at the movies. From now until I don’t feel like it any more, I will start previewing movies on Friday and reviewing them on Saturday/Sunday. (Time and Interest permitting)

The first movie I saw this weekend was Year One with Jack Black and Michael Cera. It’s pretty much what the trailers lead you to believe: Jack Black being fat and ridiculous and Cera being the skinny meek guy with plenty of  one liners. And those one liners save the movie. Once Black’s penchant for the silly slapstick humor he parodied in Tropic Thunder gets old (and that’s quick) Cera’s constant never ending supply of uber-dry humor keeps the laughs coming. The plot is very predictable, with Cera and Black going from cave men, to soldiers to high priests and no one really notices. And both comedians have to contend with scene stealing David Cross who seems to just pop up randomly through out the story. Speaking of popping up randomly, cameos are everywhere in this movie. Paul Rudd, Hank Azaria, and Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse all appear. (I guess this is what they were doing while Judd Apatow tried to put Adam Sandler’s penis on film.)  It’s a decent comedy but I don’t think it will unseat The Hangover as best R rated comedy. They will probably learn the same lesson Cera pal Seth Rogan learned when Observe and Report got run over by Paul Blart: sometimes the R rating isn’t worth it.

Another movie I saw was the Da Vinci Code sequel Angels and Demons. Helmed once again by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.  (And no, Hanks doesn’t have the retarded Harvard mullet he had in the first movie. What was the deal with that? Does he get hair tips from Anton Chigurh?) It’s like a history lesson told by Hannibal Lecter on crack. The main characters speed around The Vatican finding dead bodies while Hanks spouts off historical facts to help legitimize the plot. That is literally the whole movie. The strange part of the movie, (besides making a prequel into a sequel) is that Hanks doesn’t bring much to the role. While he made The Terminal and Castaway even moderately interesting, he doesn’t add much to the part. The real star of Angels and Demons is Ewan McGregor. Playing the wide eyed Camerlengo (which sounds like an Italian candy bar), McGregor seems eager to actually give you your $10 worth. Everyone else just kinda sleep walks around him. Granted, the twists and turns of the movie favor that character (without giving anything away). However, from the first scene to the climactic finish, McGregor gives you everything he’s got. The bottom line is, this purposefully isn’t the snoozefest Da Vinci Code was. Howard and Co. do everything they can to keep your eyes glued to the screen without going all Michael Bay on you. Burning priests, gunshots and explosions litter this movie. If anything you won’t be bored.

One last movie I wanted to touch on is Moon starring Sam Rockwell. It’s about an astronaut that is harvesting samples of the moon (we have a title!) when his health and then mind start to go. As the crazy stockpiles, he begins seeing things like other people. This is Grade A insanity because it’s just Sam and the ships computer GERTY (played by Kevin Spacey). It has an interesting trailer with zero word of mouth buzz. Call it the best movie you’ve never heard of. It’s currently only released in about 8 theaters through the US and has taken in just under a half million. Keep an eye out for it.

That’s about it for this weekend. Transformers drops next weekend, we’ll see how that goes.