My Cocktail of Choice: Tom Collins (Inspired by Sealab 2021)

sealab 2021 tom collins

Sealab 2021 would take a simple “static” scene like this and somehow turn it into comedy gold.

I don’t drink cocktails often, but when I do it’s a Tom Collins. There are different ways to prepare it, but the main, best way is: gin, soda water, sugar and lime juice. Usually served with a maraschino cherry. It’s a gentleman’s drink. If I’m in a scenario where I frequent the same cocktail lounge enough to be recognized by the bartender, I’ll usually just show up and say, in a Kennedy-esque accent, “Fix me a Tom Collins, just the way i like it.”

I got into it after watching an episode of the now defunct Adult Swim cartoon Sealab 2021, which was basically a comedy sequel to the classic 1972 Hanna-Barbera cartoon Sealab 2020. In this version, it’s  all the same characters, except they’ve all gone slightly insane after spending too much time in their laboratory at the bottom of the sea, isolated from the real world.

Sealab 2021 pretty much repurposed images and scenes from the original, straight-forward “adventure” series that was Sealab 2020. It was basically a re-mix of the original, characteristically stilted 70’s style animation, with crazy new plotlines inserted a la What’s Up, Tiger Lily? The writers placed new wacky dialogue in the old characters’ mouths, based on what the characters seemed to be doing in the original scene. The freshness, the randomness of the humor owed in large part to the “writing prompts” that were those select 70’s Hanna-Barbera scenes. They forced themselves to work within that framework, and it paid off.

Well, at least that’s how it started. Eventually the animators started taking more liberties and creating their own material from scratch. New characters showed up. The training wheels were cast aside. From that point on, the show got progressively weirder and weirder. I always preferred the more “writing prompty” Hanna-Barbera based material, but the weirder original stuff had its own charm too.

sealab 2021 red dawn

Sealab’s brilliantly random take on the Cold War, “Red Dawn.”

Do you remember it? This show came out at the same time as the Aqua Teen Hunger Force. This was in Adult Swim’s infancy, when they were still broadcasting micro-shows that were only about 10 minutes long. These cartoons would sometimes play back-to-back, filling up the better part of a full 30 minute time slot. Aqua Teen, of course, went on to have a very long and successful run. Even a feature film. It’s still on the air, I believe.

Sealab 2021 could have easily held its own with Aqua Teen, could still be on the air to this date, except tragedy struck fairly early on. It was a great cartoon right up until its vocally charismatic star Harry Goz, who played the even unpredictable Captain Murphy, tragically died. They tried to replace him with another character (voiced by his real-life brother), but it never really worked, as Captain Murphy was the reason to watch in the first place.

Anyway, there was an episode, “Red Dawn,” that spoofed the cold war movies of the 60’s, mainly Dr. Strangelove and Failsafe. This was right around the time the show started really branching away from the 1970’s source material. In this episode, the characters interacted with a version of John F. Kennedy, who was trying to help prevent a weird communist alternative version of Sealab from initiating a nuclear holocaust.

I’ve always been a major fan of John F. Kennedy’s charisma, and I found the Sealab version of him so entertaining. With his stuttering, high-pitched New England accent he kept ordering Tom Collinses for himself and his brother, regardless of the grim scenario unfolding around him. I tried and failed to find a convenient video clip on Youtube. Or even a photo of Sealab JFK. But trust me. If you’re a fan of Adult Swim’s brand of comedy, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force or the great Space Ghost Coast to Coast (another gone but not forgotten classic), Sealab 2021 is definitely worth a look.

It’s an interesting alternative to the irreverent, often insensitive adult cartoons of the present.  Sealab 2021 didn’t rely on the inappropriate or the sensational. It was funny for weird, completely random reasons. It was unique.

So whenever I order a Tom Collins, I always think of Sealab 2021 as I take my first sip. It takes me right back to the early 2000’s. Rest in peace, Sealab.

Kinda hard to sum the show up in just one quick clip, but here’s a taste of Sealab 2021’s random, wacky vibe:

This post was based on the following Daily Post writing prompt: Captain Picard was into Earl Grey tea; mention the Dude and we think: White Russians. What’s your signature beverage — and how did it achieve that status?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/pick-your-potion/

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When I Murdered A $20 Bill and Hid the Body

ripped twenty dollar bill

Is this a photo of $20 or $40? You decide. —photo by Bill Carson.

There’s been a $20 bill sitting on my desk for three months. It ain’t going anywhere—it’s been ripped in half. By me. What happened was I was in some weird NYC bodega trying to buy a nice carton of about-to-be-expire-anyway milk, and that’s when the gypsy who minded the store told me he only took cash. I, of course, had anticipated as much. I whipped out my money clip—yes, I carry a money clip as opposed to a wallet, for reasons I don’t want to get into in this particular post—but when I tried to liberate the $20 bill tucked tight into the clip, the thing ripped cleanly in half like Darth Maul.

It was an infirm bill in the first place. Extra worn down and silk-like and faded. If it had come into the possession of a responsible government official, he would have taken it to the bank post haste and had them officially retire it. But no, I’m not a government official. I’m just an idiot with a money clip and a diaper-rashed $20 bill. Now available in two pieces!

Luckily I had some younger, more spry paper money on my person, so I paid for the about-to-be-expired-anyway milk with that and I tucked the two halves of my twenty into my back pocket. When I got home I immediately verified that the two halves accounted for all necessary material to reconstruct the full twenty. If a little refugee triangle of twenty had fallen to the floor during the initial tear, I’d surely have a harder time convincing anyone to accept my wounded twenty as legal tender.

Because that’s what was at stake here: the monetary value of the bisected strip of paper that, at one time, was a twenty dollar bill. A lot of questions spring up (for me, at least) when it comes to taping back together a torn in half paper-money bill. The biggest one being: how can the recipient of my taped-together twenty know that all material is accounted for? Sure, they can eyeball it, can even compare it in size to a second, uninjured twenty; but, short of whipping out a microscope and ruler, how can they know for sure the bill’s 100 percent?

Surely there’s some kind of rule of thumb here. I’m sure a quick Internet search will tell me all I need to know. Something like: if the bill is 70% accounted for, it’s legal tender. Or perhaps 51 percent accounted for would make the most technical sense. But no matter what the number is, how can the clerk in question ever be sure that the taped-together bill qualifies. Like, what if I were to hand a clerk a weird horizontal, zig-zag 51 percent half of a twenty dollar bill? How could anyone, even a seasoned bank clerk, accurately establish that the segment of paper qualifies? They’d freaking need a team of NASA Rover designers to figure it out!

Likewise, what becomes of the other 49 percent? The other weird horizontal zig-zag strip of former paper money? If the tear had been done cleverly enough, a shady fellow could probably make the 49 percent look as big or even bigger than the 51 percent. Meaning, if you go to the right bank hungover bank clerk, you can pass off you 49 percent as legal tender. Turn a twenty into a forty.

Of course, a store/bank clerk could always just shrug and say, “Uh, sorry sir, but store policy prohibits me from accepting your weird fraction of paper money.” But that’s a total cop out. Said clerk should at least come up with an official ruling as to whether or not he considers your fraction of paper money official legal tender or not. Who hired him anyway?

The fact of the matter is, my bisected twenty dollar bill is 99 percent accounted for, material wise. I can’t say 100 percent, because surely some microscopic fibers were lost in the original tearing. I’m pretty confident my twenty dollar bill is still a twenty dollar bill. But this knowledge doesn’t ease my suffering.

I haven’t even bothered to tape it back together yet, if you want to know the truth. I’m too embarrassed at the idea of handing some clerk somewhere a taped-together twenty dollar bill. Basically, I don’t want to do that to the clerk. It’s cruel. Because, damnit, how could he know for sure? He’d like freak out with indecision and perhaps quit the workforce entirely.

So what’s happening here is that my severed twenty has become a sort of permanent fixture on my desk. Whenever I need money, I just hit up the bank or ATM, as if the Darth Maul twenty doesn’t even exist. One of these days I’ll face my fears and tape it together and try and pawn it off as a real bonafide twenty.

Or, if I’m feeling particularly daring: a forty.

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Warner Brothers Throws a Hail Mary, Changes Title of “Edge of Tomorrow” for Home Release

Edge of Tomorrow Groundhog Day copy

“Did you hear those idiots are changing the name of our movie to Live Die Repeat, even though $70 million in advertising said otherwise? Just shoot me.”

I can’t believe they’re doing this. It’s just sad.

A few months ago I wrote a glowing review of the Tom Cruise summer tentpole film Edge of Tomorrow. Sadly, despite my best efforts, that film went on to bomb at the box office. In its theatrical run the film made about $100 million off a $178 million budget. Yes, this is indeed bomb-ish.

What can ya do? Really, I can understand why it bombed, despite its being a fun, well-made action flick. I didn’t think it looked that good in the trailers. Plot-wise, the film looked like it was going to be a sci-fi version of Bill Murray’s loved 1986 film Groundhog Day. Been there, done that, was my general feeling. I would have never bothered to see EOT in the theaters at all, but I was treated to complimentary tickets and had nothing better to do. Yes, I left the theatre that day pleasantly surprised, but you can’t enjoy a movie unless you get your butt to the theatre in the first place. Apparently not many folks did for this flick.

Fast forward a few months to present day, when Warner Brother—the studio behind the film—is prepping the movie for dvd and Blu ray release. Understandably, WB is hoping to recap some of their money with sales from the home release. Plenty of blockbuster summer flicks make most of their money after the initial theatrical run anyway, so WB isn’t necessarily expecting Edge of Tomorrow to turn water into wine here. All it would need to do to make up for its own $78 million deficit is to have reasonably OK dvd sales.

According to Kagan Media Research, summer blockbuster Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, eventually made $498 million in DVD revenue, compared to its $314 million haul at the box office. Briefly, I skimmed Kagan’s numbers for other big tent-pole movies, and the numbers seemed to suggest that yes, home video sales are where the real money’s at, perhaps owing to Hollywood’s strategy of releasing films on DVD soon enough after those films’ theatrical run that they could benefit from the original wave a marketing.

So it’s not unreasonable to think that Edge of Tomorrow could at least break even in its afterlife as a DVD/Bluray. It’s probably even likely. And Warner Brothers doesn’t even need to do anything special—just freakin ship the thing to Best Buy.

But Warner Brothers has, indeed, decided to do something special. They decided to get greedy, and I think it’ll cost them this time. What they’re going to do it completely rebrand the movie. Change its very name, as if it’s a blog post that failed to get enough hits. You see, WB really thought it had had a hit on its hands with Edge of Tomorrow. Its eventually bombing must have really flabbergasted them. Some real shoulder-shrugging must have been going on.

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“Edge of Tomorrow 2: Live Die Repeat” Starring Sharknado’s Ian Ziering

Ultimately, the WB execs in charge clearly decided that the moviegoing public had simply been misinformed. Apparently, the title “Edge of Tomorrow” doesn’t adequately suggest the potential of the film’s home run premise. It doesn’t tease the film’s time-travel conceit blatantly enough. Therefore, for the DVD release, why not go with a brand spanking new title? Let’s rock the boat!

I’m telling ya, these WB execs must have really been impressed with the whole Groundhog Day meets Matrix premise. It, like, blew their minds.

This is completely asinine, of course. People didn’t see this movie probably because of the Groundhog Day time traveling conceit. Like me, people saw the trailers and thought “Aww, that’s just like Groundhog Day. Unoriginal Hollywood hacks! Boo!” People didn’t not see this film because they didn’t get the whole live/die/repeat plot device. Likewise, people didn’t not see this film because the name “Edge of Tomorrow” failed to tease said plot device. Because by that logic, nobody should have turned up to see Groundhog Day itself, because it wasn’t, after all, a serious film about the origin and commercial significance of that particular holiday.

But the folks over at Warner Brothers have decided to go all in. If they’re gonna lose, they’re gonna lose big.

And what is Edge of Tomorrow’s new name? What is this magic new name that’s going to turn this film into an unlikely mega DVD hit?

The new name is “Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow” I’m not kidding. Basically, Warner Brothers’s master plan to redeem Edge of Tomorrow is to make it sound like it’s its the crappy direct-to-DVD sequel to itself, maybe starring Ian Ziering or somebody.

I could be wrong, but here’s what I think’s probably gonna happen. John Doe walks into best buy curious about that Edge of Tomorrow film he’d missed in the movies. John Doe can’t find Edge of Tomorrow, but he finds Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow. John Doe shrugs his shoulders and says, “Well hell, I don’t want to see the crappy direct-to-DVD sequel before I even saw the original! I’m not buying this junk! Where’s Sharknado?”

By doing this, Warner Brothers is negating the very trend responsible for most movies’ successful DVD afterlife: the piggy-backing off the film’s original theatrical marketing. Warner Brothers is essentially saying, “People wouldn’t watch the movie when we paid $70 million advertising it as “Edge of Tomorrow,” but they’ll definitely flock to Best Buy in droves now that much of that initial advertising momentum has faded off and, either way, our film doesn’t even have the same name anymore. Hey, who’s got the coke?

When nobody reads one of my blog posts because my headline sucked, I eventually go back and change the title. After all, why not? I have absolutely nothing to lose. Poor Edge of Tomorrow, though. It’s like the physically talented who gets picked last in gym class, and then sprains his ankle before he can even participate at all.

Read my original review of Edge of Tomorrow

Read more about WB’s bizarre, unprecedented rebranding of Edge of Tomorrow here.

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10 Benefits of Watching Movies Alone on Your Laptop

watching movie on laptop

“Watching movies alone on your laptop liberates you from all distractions…pretty much.”

Ever try and watch a “serious” movie and your movie-watching buddies just won’t stop making dopey comments the whole time, ruining the experience for you? I’ll answer this for you: yes. Sometimes it’s better to be a loner. Unless it’s a comedy—which are always better to watch with other people—or a lame movie you don’t really care about in the first place, you’re probably better off with the old headphones-and-laptop method. Here’s why…

Why It’s Better to Watch Movies Alone On Your Laptop

  1. No distractions from the outside world.
  2. You can pause the movie whenever you want to check your email, if need be.
  3. You can conveniently monitor and re-prioritize your music/porn downloads at the bottom left of the screen, should you feel the need.
  4. You can jump over to WordPress real quick and tune up tomorrow’s post, should it strike your fancy.
  5. You can keep your finger on the pulse of Facebook; be the first to Like your friends’ silly comments, if you’re into that sort of thing.
  6. You can quickly investigate interesting Yahoo! headlines via RSS, should you want to.
  7. You can heat up your crotch with computer-warmth, to the point of first-degree burns, if you’re into that.
  8. You can take a nice refreshing break when your laptop runs out of power halfway through the movie, should you want to.
  9. You can extend said refreshing break for as long as an hour while your ancient laptop struggles to reconnect to the Internet.
  10. Once you finally get back to the Netflix homepage, you can abandon your in-progress movie at any time in favor of a more interesting looking alternative in your colorful Netflix queue.

Like I said, when you watch a movie alone on your laptop you can really tune out the world and focus on the task at hand. I highly recommend it.

What about you, Reader? Would you prefer watch a “serious” movie alone, or with a bunch of people who are likely to make dumb comments the whole time?

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The Cheapest Way to Time Travel

Cluttered-Reciepts

“Where we’re going we don’t need roads…”

Time travel exists, and it’s free. I discovered it last year when I was getting ready to move. You see, I’d accumulated way too much stuff, way too much junk, and so I figured I’d do a classic purge. Lighten the load. I’d start with some of the outdated files I kept in the back of my closet. There was a leaning tower of manila envelopes in there, each one stuffed to the brim with receipts from the previous ten years. I barely needed to save those in the first place, I certainly wouldn’t need them after my move.

But one of the whole reasons I’d kept them in the first place was because I enjoyed the security of knowing I’d held onto them. Just in case it becomes necessary one day to prove what I ate at Chipotles on 03/11/2008. Once you throw a receipt out, it’s gone. Like you were never there.

So what I did was I dumped the contents of all the envelopes into a big pile and I started rifling through them. I could probably throw out the McDonalds ones and the Chevron ones, I reasoned, but maybe there were a few in there I might want to hold on to. Car repair, new computer, big stuff like that.

So I got to work, and an interesting thing happened right away. Just about every little receipt—even the boring ones for McDonalds—triggered an image in my head. A memory. Maybe not a specific “There was an old lady who kept eyeballing me” memory, but a cocktail of images and feelings associated with the time and place indicated on the receipt.

I’m gonna keep going with my McDonalds example. I found a McDonald’s receipt for the McDonald’s by the place where I worked at the time. Yes, all McDonald’s are similar, but each one has its own special personality, especially based on where in town it’s located. I hadn’t thought of that particular McDonalds in about five years, but now the memory was fresh in my mind.

And with it came memories of the gas station with which that McDonald’s shared its building. And with that, I recalled the Target directly across the highway from that McDonald’s. I remembered people walking around in the Target. I remembered the Starbucks they had there. I remembered how I felt on a saturday morning walking around Target with a cup of Starbucks coffee, looking for polo shirts. I remembered the sushi place right next to the target. I remembered going there and ordering some weird chicken meal, and they’d served it in crumply aluminum foil and there was a hair on it.

Really, I could surf the memories all day if I wanted to. So what I did was I took that McDonald’s receipt and put it aside. I figured I’d hold onto it in case I wanted to time travel to that zone again at some point further down the road.

Of course, the surfing didn’t end there. Every receipt I looked at—every one—brought back memories that my brain had long ago placed on “standby mode.” Even if I couldn’t remember when or why I went to establishment indicated on the receipt, the address and date would usually do the trick.

“Oh, yes, I remember going on that trip to Sacramento with such-and-such a friend!” I could usually reverse-engineer a receipt in this fashion until it finally clicked where, exactly, the receipt had come from. “That’s right! We went to get coffee but the place was crowded so we went to that weird diner with the blow-up Godzilla behind the counter!”

Another receipt relegated to the “save” pile. I knew that without that receipt, I’d have never again in my life thought about that diner with the Godzilla behind the counter. I’m not a big “selfie” guy. No silly photos of me doing things to the Godzilla existed. And I just wasn’t ready to let go of that Godzilla.

I ended up throwing out quite a lot of my receipts, but only after amassing a large pile of “greatest hits.” I still have them, in case I want to go time traveling again.

Readers, I recommend this time travel method to you. Don’t throw out your receipts, not even old and faded ones. Give them a moment of your time, give those waves a moment to collect and swell. You’ll visit places you’ve forgotten that you’ve forgotten.

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Anatomy of a Milk Pilferer

milk carton

“Oh he’ll never notice—it’s still practically FULL!”

We’ve all been there. A big-ass bowl of Cheerios ready to go. You poured half the friggin box into the massive porcelain bowl. You’re hungry as a horse. And then you pop open the refrigerator and you realize you had forgotten to buy more milk the last time you were at the store. There’s a big brand new bottle of milk in there, yes, but it’s not yours. It’s your roommate’s. He’s not even here right now. He’s away for the weekend.

So what do you do?

If you’re like anybody else alive, you shrug your shoulders and help yourself to some of your roommate’s milk. I mean, it’s just one little serving of milk, right? It’s basically a brand new bottle; even after you steal the milk, the bottle will still basically look full! Your roommate probably won’t even notice anything’s gone. And if he does, you can always come clean and pretend you’d forgotten to tell him you pilfered some milk.

So you go ahead and pilfer the milk.

Now you’ve done it! Now you’ve done it! You’ve set off a chain reaction that will soon result in the murder and cover-up of your roommate’s milk bottle. Yes, that’s right. By the end of the day, before your roommate returns from his/her weekend getaway, you will have murdered and hidden that very bottle of milk.

Don’t think you’re capable of milk murder? Don’t think you’d be able to rationalize stealing every last bit of your roommate’s milk, and then hiding the carton like one of the freakin Goodfellas? Well I got news for you: we’re all potential milk murderers, so long as the circumstances line up just right. Don’t believe me? Check it out…

Timeline Leading Up to Total Milk Pilfering and Coverup:

  • 8:05 am: Subject rationalizes stealing a small amount of Roommate’s milk for his Cheerios, due to the fact that the bottle is basically full anyway. Roommate won’t even notice!
  • 8:10 am: Subject finishes first round of Cheerios, but there’s still a bunch of milk leftover in the bowl. So what Subject does is dump in more Cheerios to make everything nice and even. But now there’s way more Cheerios than milk, so Subject goes to the refrigerator and borrows even more of Roommate’s milk. Afterwards, there’s still plenty of milk in the bottle, but you can definitely tell somebody’s been pilching from it.
  • 11:45 am: Subject makes himself a ham sandwich. But there’s nothing to drink. Except, of course, Roommate-milk. Subject studies the milk bottle for a few minutes, trying to rationalize stealing more milk. Finally, Subject shrugs shoulders, concluding that it’s already obvious that somebody’s been drinking the milk. Why not steal just a little more and then simple come clean when Roommate returns. Offer to buy a new carton, perhaps? Subject smiles and takes the milk.
  • 2:03 pm: There’s still nothing to drink in the house, and the day is getting hot. Now that Subject has decided to offer to buy Roommate a new carton of milk, Subject figures current carton of milk is now his property. Subject pours a nice huge glass of milk and chugs it. Now the milk carton is only about 20 percent full.
  • 5:40 pm: There’s still nothing to drink in the house, so Subject goes to the kitchen and pours another massive glass of milk. Chugs it. Now the milk carton is only about 5 percent full. Basically empty.
  • 5:41 pm: Subject looks at mostly empty carton and decides to just drink the rest of it. Why leave just a little, right? Subject chugs the rest of the milk directly out of the carton. Subject burps. Subject places the empty carton back in the refrigerator as a sort of IOU for the roommate.
  • 5:42 pm: Subject looks at the empty carton of milk in the refrigerator. Subject starts to smile like a creepo. Subject thinks about how if Subject disposes of carton completely, Roommate may not even remember Roommate ever had a brand new carton of milk. Roommate will just see an empty refrigerator. Roommate has a busy life and will probably not specifically remember buying that particular bottle of milk. What Roommate doesn’t know won’t hurt Roommate.
  • 5:44 pm: Subject crumples up empty milk carton and drops it directly into the recycling bin out by the curb, Goodfellas style.
  • 7:45 pm: At this point, Subject has completely forgotten about the whole episode and is Netflixing Twin Peaks season 2.

How bout you, Reader? Even murder a carton of milk? Here’s your change to come clean!

For another milky Cheerios article, check out If Cereal Bowl and Toilet Bowl Can Work Together, So Can We.

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Regarding People Who Take Their Merry Time at Crosswalks

crosswalk teletubbies

People of all colors and creeds can get power-drunk on pedestrian right-of-way.

When you cross a pedestrian crosswalk, the cars are supposed to not kill you. They should stop. You, the pedestrian, totally have the right-of-way. You have the power, yes, but will you be a philosopher king, or a tyrant? It’s up to you.

There’s nothing that gets me pounding my steering wheel faster than a crosswalk abuser, someone who revels in his/her moment of pedestrian right-of-way. You know what I’m talking about. When someone just takes their leisurely time crossing over from one side of the road to the other. As if to say, via body-language, “You bitches are gonna wait for me, as per the law!”

I don’t get the mentality, I really don’t. I’m not wired that way at all. Me? I don’t care who technically has the right-of-way; I derive no pleasure out of being the sole cause of stoppage for two whole lanes of traffic. Nor do I take for granted that people are even going to stop. I’ve actually been slammed into and thrown across the street by a car that failed to stop at a crosswalk. And one time I almost ran over a whole mini-family trying to cross a similar crosswalk. So no, I don’t take cross walking for granted. I don’t revel in the power. I hasten my pace and get my butt across the street!

It’s like these people draw energy from the frustration of those drivers they’ve just made stop. They feed off the frustration and anger. This is their moment, afforded them by their community’s traffic laws, to be top dog, head honcho, king of the hill, and they’re in no hurry to let it go.

I’m not asking that they break into a sprint. Walking is fine. It is a crosswalk, after all. But I’m telling you, sometimes I see crosswalkers slow down the minute they hit the crosswalk. As if they want to milk this rare moment of streetwalker status and pedestrian power. I’ve freaking seen people stop in the middle of the street and take their merry time responding to a text.

What I’d like to see, really, is just a token amount of speeding up. You don’t have to even go any faster, actually, just look like you’re going faster. Definitely don’t go slower! Also, maybe give a friendly nod to the nearest stopped car, as if to say, “Thanks, friend, for obeying the law on my behalf. I won’t keep you longer than necessary.”

Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s about the power, or simply because these people are completely, woefully oblivious to the existence and/or feelings of other people. Perhaps in the head of a crosswalk abuser, there’s nothing but me, myself, and I and hamburgers. That line of five cars waiting for your ego-centric arse to finish sauntering across the street? Don’t worry, it doesn’t exist.

As for me, I’m always thinking about what other people are thinking. To a fault, perhaps, but at least I have a more well-rounded perspective on the world around me. There are, after all, other people in the world around me. I’m not the lonely Spider creature from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Show some consideration for your fellow man, how ’bout? Does it really have to be you against the world? Let me guess, you’re were raised by meathead, cro-magnon parents who told you to “use your fists” if anybody disagrees with you. Great advice, that. If you live in Mad Max’s post apocalalitic Australian outback.

Or maybe I’m just jealous of those crosswalk brutes. Maybe I wish I wasn’t so considerate of other people. But Compassion 1.4 is the operating system I came with. You can’t just change operating systems—you have to buy a brand new phone. Really, I feel like an Asimov-model Robot, governed by the 3 Laws of Robotics, which essentially say I can do anything I want except abuse my crosswalk privileges.

What about you, Reader? Are you governed by the 3 Laws of Robotics like me, or are you an unfeeling crosswalk brute?

 

 

 

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The “Walking With A Basketball” Dilemma

basketball-justin-beiber

When you walk to the park with a basketball, you can either carry it like a tool, or dribble it like a man—there is no road between.

I used to live by a nice public park with well maintained basketball nets. It was maybe a mile from where I lived, so I’d walk it. You couldn’t really drive anyway because there’d usually be nowhere to park. So yeah, you walked. The most direct path would take you through a popular downtown stretch.

Lot of eyeballs watching to see how you handled the walking-with-a-basketball dilemma. What is the walking-with-a-basketball dilemma? Well, it’s when you have to decide between dribbling your basketball all the way to the park, or simply holding clutching it to your chest the whole time, and therefore looking like you don’t have much confidence in your dribbling abilities.

Why is this an issue at all? Why not simply dribble the darn thing all the way to the park and shut up already? I mean, it is a basketball, right? Meant for dribbling?

Well, first of all, dribbling a basketball on a mile walk through a populated, high traffic area is hard, stressful work. Especially when you suck. You have to be real careful not to bounce the thing off your shoe or the curb or some pothole, because then it bounces out in the middle of the street and cars careen out of control and slam through flower shops.

I mean, if the park is right down the street, an easy straight shot, you don’t have a dilemma at all. You can probably just dribble the basketball the whole way there. Anyone watching you will think you’re a real baller. They’ll think things like, “I bet if I challenged that dude to a pickup game, he’d kick my freaking ass!”

But when your course takes you on a lot of twists and turns, cross-walks and traffic signals, crumply sidewalks and bloated, invasive tree roots—you got a real dilemma on your hands, pal.

Because check it out: you can’t really split the difference between clutching the baseball in the crook of your arm and simply dribbling it like a man, because the alternative is worse than either. The alternative is you can sometimes dribble and sometimes clutch. Like, whenever you’re sure you can handle a few dribbles without the ball bouncing off the toes of your shoes, you can go ahead and risk it. And then, when you have to do something scary and dangerous like crossing the street or something, you can just clutch the basketball like a football.

This might seem like a reasonable enough alternative, but let me tell you in no uncertain terms: it’s not. It only highlights your lack of skill, your basketball insecurity. You look like you think you’re getting away with something. “Oh yeah, I totally got me some skills,” you might think, “I just don’t feel like showing them off all the time, ya know?” Trust me, you look like a tool. You ain’t fooling no one but yourself.

Your options are simply to hold the ball the whole time, or dribble it the whole time. Dribbling, of course, is the far more dangerous decision. You bounce that sucker off your foot even once, and everybody just saw you. People could be laughing at you from a thousand directions and you’d never even know it. Just how confident are you in your dribbling ability? That’s the question.

Then again, if you somehow manage to pull it off and dribble the whole way without catastrophe striking, you’d get mad respect from anyone who happened to monitor large chunks of your journey. When I see a guy or gal dribbling up and down a crowded city street, patently unafraid of trip-ups or mishaps, I really do think highly of that person. That person got balls.

On the other hand, if you clutch the ball like a football the whole walk over, you are immune to dribbling catastrophe, yes, but you have decided to live with a stable-but-certain amount of ridicule. Anyone driving or walking by will see you clutching that ball when you should be dribbling, and they’ll think you’re a basketball pansy. They’ll think, “I bet if I challenged that dude to a pickup game, I’d kick his ass!”

But hey, at least you’ve made a decision and stuck with it, right? There’s something to be said for that. You’ve embraced who you are. You’re cool with it.

I guess the question is: how do you want to be sized-up on your walk to the park? Are you cool with strangers assuming they can mop the court with you? Or would you rather risk everything to be the dribbling-to-the-park guy who everybody fears.

It’s up to you.

 

 

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When a Movie Crosses over from Predictable to Unpredictably Predictable

picard face palm

“I can’t believe the director just keeps DOING that!”

I watched a lame, by-the-numbers DVD movie the other night, and something unexpected happened: I observed and catalogued a brilliant new cinematic phenomenon. Basically, the movie, The Purge (starring Ethan Hawke), was so outrageously predictable, Iit crossed over into the unpredictable. Let me explain.

This movie was poorly written and directed. There’s no getting around that. You lose confidence in the filmmakers very early on, and after that you’re just watching because it’s fun to yell at the screen.

Not that it matters much to this article, but the overall concept of The Purge was kinda fun (for a horror/thriller): in a mildly distopian future, American citizens are given one day out of the year to just go buck wild and murder and burn and destroy and whatever. The point being, this one-day cleansing of deep dark animal urges sort of cleans the slate, and for the rest of the year everybody’s happen and non-murdery. Lowest crime rates ever!

I can buy into that creepy, evil-government concept. Very Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. In fact, I’d be surprised if this idea hadn’t been pulled from some long lost episode of one of those very shows.

the purge review

The Purge: Prepare to be Utterly Shocked With Predictability

The Purge, of course, has no idea how to properly exploit its own interesting premise, and instead craps the bed with forced scene after forced scene. The movie takes place entirely in one high class house—which I’m totally fine with. There’s a cool movie to be made with that approach.

But I sort of wanted this movie to be Straw Dogs on Meth. What we get, quality-wise, is basically Sharknado without the Sharks or the Ado.

I’ll forgo the scathing point-by-point movie review. I’ll just say that this is the kind of movie where the guy you thought was going to be the bad guy turns out to be the bad guy. The person you thought would show up at the last second to save the day, shows up at the last second to save the day. All twists and turns happen with exactly zero finesse, zero subtlety. As if the filmmakers, themselves, weren’t sure if the events were supposed to be surprising or not.

Anyway, on to the newly discovered cinematic phenomenon. I call it “Unpredictably Predictable.” As I said earlier, every plot point, every twist, every reveal in The Purge was telegraphed as if by Bat Signal. Things happen in the first five minutes that totally suggest a later plot twist, and [drum-roll] that very thing eventually happens, right on cue.

But here’s the thing: some of these events are so outrageously telegraphed, so freaking obvious, that you actually start to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. You say, “This movie sucks, yeah, but there’s no way they’re gonna go there. It’s totally a red herring or something.”

But then, of course, the movie does go there, and as a result you’re actually somewhat surprised. You couldn’t have predicted how predictable this movie was going to be!

And then, after that particular plot twist had come to pass, you’re relatively sure that the next telegraphed plot point won’t actually come to pass. Surely that one was a red herring or a fluke or something. Surely the filmmakers aren’t going to do the obvious twice in a row! That would just be too outrageous…

Read my review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

And then, of course they do! And once again, you’re surprised at how epically unsurprising this movie has turned out to be. And the process of course keeps repeating itself. Surely the filmmakers aren’t going to pull an obvious plot twist three times in a row. That would be epic! That would be record-setting! It just won’t happen! Even when factoring in the precedent they’ve set thus far, you refuse to believe another telegraphed plot twist is going to happen!

And guess what? It totally freaking does!

“Unpredictably Predictable” movies aren’t limited to surprising you with telegraphed plot twists either. These movies are usually so bad, so awkwardly slapped together, that you are absolutely side-swiped with shocking illogic pertaining to simple events and character reveals and reactions. “Wait what?” you’ll say aloud. “I thought he’d be sad that his daughter just died, but now he’s calmly talking about his recent promotion at work.” No matter how well-versed a cinephile you think you are, there’s just no way you could predict character behavior like that!

You can predict that a movie is going to suck, but sometimes the suckage is so unrelenting that the movie crosses the threshold and falls into the unpredictable. Crosses into a chaotic domain where you can no longer accurately predict what the filmmakers are going to do because your thoughts are too deeply rooted in logic and order in the first place.

What happens next is anyone’s guess!

Readers, have you ever seen any Unpredictably Predictable films? Which ones?

 

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Bathing Suits Are Above the Law, Period

speedo in public

“No Officer, it’s cool—It’s a bathing suit.”

I was driving by the beach yesterday and almost lost control of the car—there were these two girls walking around wearing t-shirts but no pants. Just swinging their arms, laughing, enjoying the day. Okay, they had bikini bottoms on, but the overall effect was that they were walking around in their underwear. I steadied my car and started thinking…

Why is it considered acceptable for girls to wear skimpy bikinis in public, but unacceptable for those same ladies to go shopping in their Victoria secret underwear? Again, not complaining. In fact I think somebody deserves a metal.

I’ve seen girls wearing some pretty skimpy, revealing, gravity-defying bikini bottoms that looked like they came out of the 70’s, and yet these women walked right by families and children with complete impunity. No motherly shrieks of disgust. No parental hands swung out to block children’s eyes. Because those were officially “bikinis” the sex goddesses were wearing, not underwear.

These particular bikini bottoms were likely made from less actual fabric/material than a typical pair of women’s underwear.

Same goes for guys and boxer shorts. I’ve seen dudes walking around with some embarrassingly short shorts—or even speedos—that pretty much looked exactly like terrible underwear. I think I’ve even seen a dude walking around just like the girls I mentioned at the beginning of this post—he wore nothing but a long t-shirt and black speedos underneath. Black speedos in particular? Gross as hell. Speedos are another thing, actually; I don’t even want to get into them. (that sounded pretty bad, yet accurate).

I’ve even worn too-short bathing suits as underwear on select laundry days. I noticed exactly no difference. Completely forgot I was wearing a bathing suit under my jeans.

If you ask me, bathing suits have an alarming amount of leverage over the public consciousness. They keep getting smaller and smaller, and nobody seems to give a fig. But go ahead and try and wear a big saggy, knee-length pair of grandma “bloomers” on your next trip to Kohl’s. See how far you get.

Are skimpy bikini bottoms/speedos really so different than underwear? The material is usually different. A quick (and exciting) Internet search told me bikini bottoms are sometimes made with alien materials such a elastane, and polyamide. This as opposed to the silk or cotton (both softer and lighter materials) common with women’s underwear.

Well la di freakin’ da!

Okay, so bikini bottoms have a bit more body to them, or something. This makes for more separation between mother nature and the outside world. Fabric-wise. But what about when it comes to overall skin coverage? I’ve seen some thick bikini material as thick and sturdy as the weave of a 1980’s shoelace, and with a similar diameter too. Are we comfortable trading material thickness for much less material?

Face it. “Bathing suits” have carte blanche. Period. Just say it’s a bathing suit and nobody can really say anything (as long as there’s a water source reasonably nearby). Think about this for a minute: a big hairy greasy dude can power-walk his way down a crowded downtown shopping district, wearing nothing but a sweaty t-shirt and black speedos, as long as he’s heading in the general direction of a nearby swimmable water source. He’s wearing less material around his “business” than if he was wearing freaking Hanes tagless boxer/briefs!

But here’s the most important point. Not only are you not supposed to say anything to the above dude, you’re not even supposed to think you should say anything. As a culture, we’ve long ago agreed to a Clockwork Orange brainwashing session that left us completely unable to register the bathing suit/underwear double standard. Bathing suits are above the law.

Not that I want to walk around the local beach community flaunting my Hanes tagless, but if I did I’d be tackled by cops/security guard post haste. Not if I wore circulation-strangling speedos though!

I’m pretty sure if you scissored out a little 2 inch by 2 inch square of polyester, taped it to your left thigh, and then paraded around town completely naked (except for the square), you’d be totally fine. As long as you kept shouting “I’m in a bathing suit, I’m in a bathing suit, you can’t stop meeeeee!”

What about you, Reader? Do you think bathing suits have too much leverage in our culture? Will they be running as a third party in the 2016 elections? Weigh in!

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