and I quote

february 2013

click for permalink February 28, 2013

"That I can't watch the old "Is THIS the man who robbed you?" Yellow Pages ad at the drop of a hat is the Internet's greatest failure." — Posted by a random dude named Bruce on Twitter.

I could not agree more. The really weird thing is that I know exactly where that hilarious Yellow Pages ad came from. It was part of a highly visible campaign created by BBDO in 1995 or 96, just before my brief temporary assignment with the agency. It was my first job in Vancouver and I could see the drawing of the wild-eyed stickman with the spiky hair every day on my way into the office, framed on the wall of the hugely successful campaign's art director.

In the final seconds of the commercial (and in my mind every time I walked by his office) it was held triumphantly aloft by the overly confident police sketch artist as the visual punchline accompanying his single line of dialogue: "Is THIS the man who robbed you?" At which point the victim, who has just finished giving his painstaking description of the perpetrator with plenty of helpful details, sputters indignantly, "You can't draw!" It is hilarious.

Also, that "family breakfast" commercial for Egg-O waffles with the freakishly chipper yuppie seated at his kitchen table with a sock monkey and a weird green stuffed thing named "Neal." I've never been able to find that damned commercial anywhere online and I've tried at irregular but depressingly repeated intervals since the late 90s — which, yes, I realize sounds a lot like "since the late Cretaceous." I should probably avoid saying things like that. I don't want people to start asking me what it was like in the old days when we had to, like, sit through all those commercials when we watched a TV show. No binge-watching or live-tweeting; if you just had to see something, you planned your life around the network's schedule and then you couldn't even pause it to Google something or text your friends.

You: omg, did u see k-stew?
Your friend: crutches again? lol. wtf?

Speaking of which, I managed to successfully watch the Oscars online again, after only about an hour of flailing about, panicking and switching between three different laptops before finally finding a reliable live stream. Unfortunately it only worked on the one computer we can't currently hook up to the big screen (you would think, with all the cables and adapters we own, that this would never be a problem...), but thank god for Mr. Pink because the most reliable stream played without a hiccup on his mac. Meanwhile I couldn't get it to play at all on my laptop, where the site in question seemed to produce nothing but a buggy mess of popups, redirects and probably viruses.

And so but anyway, once we had sorted out our stream situation, I was able to sit back (more like lean forward at an angle over the coffee table but you knew that) and enjoy the last hour of the Oscars in the traditional manner — as god intended, so to speak — skyping with my mother while she watched them on TV, commenting at beyond-spellcheck speeds about who we liked, who we hated and what everyone was wearing, e.g.:


Me: Amy Adams... Bad dress/lovely girl/terrible hair. :( Hate to say it.
My mother: I didn't like Jennifer's dress either, what's with the damn butt frills?

The whole chat log is funny reading (surely I can't be the only one who reads them later when you have time to digest and ponder?), peppered with OMGs and YAYs on both sides with lots of extra vowels added for emphasis. Plenty of non sequiturs thanks to the time lag between typing and waiting or not waiting for replies whilst trying to keep up with the action, and the gradual sacrifice of precision, punctuation and grammar except in rare, hilariously lucid passages, e.g.:

Me: nice! I thought that dude from the academy was just going to lecture us about not downloading movies!
My mother: Sandra has the most intense neck!
Me: Yeah, what a weird thing to find myself agreeing with...

Also, I eventually figured out was that there was a 10-15 second delay between her direct cable source and my more scenic route, so towards the end I had to look away from the screen until the winner of the next category was announced lest I see any spoilers (e.g. My mother: ANNE HAthaway!!! lovely dress! Oh I liked the one she sang in better..). Needful to say, we enjoyed the Oscars immensely, especially considering we've seen, as usual, absolutely nothing (except of course Prometheus, the prodigal prequel to Ridley's Alien dynasty).


The only evidence of Prometheus at the Oscars (and rightly so) was the obligatory special effects nomination (lost to Life of Pi) and the presence of an even more inhumanly stunning than normal Charlize Theron. She was so far beyond the "best dressed" in attendance it was easy to forget that she was there for playing an evil immortal in one film and the less-interesting sibling to a sociopathic cyborg in the other (but that's no guarantee she won't be cybernetically resurrected in one of the inevitable sequels).


We dissed Seth MacFarlane (but not for the sexism), agreed that Richard Gere and George Clooney are aging well and that there were too many beards this year (and a really unprecedented number of old guys with long hair). We loved seeing Catherine dance and Adele sing, screamed when Christopher Plummer and Anne Hathaway won awards, and when Jennifer Lawrence won, I explained to my mother once again who she is and why she really should see Winter's Bone ("it's like a dark Ozark fairy tale"). She was delighted that Life of Pi won some major upsets and I was pleased that Quentin Tarantino took home his second after 17 years.

The best post-awards interview without a doubt was given by Jennifer Lawrence backstage when faced with an apparent mob of humorless idiots with press credentials. Being an extremely cool and unflappable chick, however, she handled all their insipid, insensitive and head-scratchingly inane questions with the utmost self-possession. Although she is the very embodiment of down-to-earth, fresh-faced humility, I like how she also doesn't bother to hide her natural "are you fucking kidding me" reaction to the inevitable, unenviable absurdities of stardom. Here it is on YouTube if you haven't already seen it on FB.

At The, you can see all the Oscars 2013 winners in pictures on one page and marvel at how many dudes with long hair, ponytails and/or beards were among this year's winners.

Finally, if all this fashion and celebrity talk has put you in the mood for something a little more penetratingly incisive and scathingly hypercritical, you can watch Cintra Wilson, one of the few people in the world I genuinely idolize, discussing her latest book, Fear and Clothing on Vimeo.


click for permalink February 17, 2013

Well, it's February and I'm sick as hell but at least I have a better excuse than "it's February," which used to be all the rationale I needed to authorize a complete immune system stand-down — albeit under the guise of confusing "war games" simulation type exercises of course (there's always that one smartass white blood cell asking: is this real world or exercise?). But no, this time I had to go all the way across the country on an airplane in the middle of winter to compromise my immune system... like walking into a kindergarten wearing a candy sombrero (but it was totally worth it — happy birthday, dad!).

Apropos of nothing, or perhaps its recent release on DVD and BluRay...

Point: What's Wrong With Prometheus (a Partial List)

and Counterpoint: Prometheus Actually Explained (With Real Answers)*

(*Note: Not all of which are entirely satisfying or even technically answers, but you've got to respect the effort, the initiative and, really, the god-damned, die-hard fanatical fandom of it all.)

In other movie news, the Oscars are next weekend and as always I haven't yet decided how I plan on watching them... but if previous years have taught me anything, it's that I will find some way to watch them in, or most likely during, the final hour. But wouldn't it make life easier to just bite the bullet and pay for cable? First of all, easier for one night and an irritable, distracted mess that actually knows who Kim Kardashian is for the other 364 is not my idea of a sane and reasonable trade-off; and second, I already pay for cable. How in the hell else do you think my words are travelling through the plastic and aluminum-alloy keys of my magical typing machine out into the great cloud™ in the Sky/ network of tubes and onto your glowing screen wherever in the heck you are?

(And btw, while we're on the topic, that little spinning globe over there on the right tells me that some of you are actually reading this in Lithuania... Jeddah... Belgrade... Tunisia (holy shit, really?) and even though I know how it works and that this is, after all (duh) kind of the whole point, it's still mind-boggling to me. How did you find me?! I know I'm not exactly SEO or Page™-ranked or whatever. Anyway, where are my manners? What I mean to say is, wow. Thank you for stopping by!)

It almost makes me wish I had comments... but not really. Because unfortunately, all the effort I'm willing to exert in that particular direction is already taken up managing the ghostly outline of a profile I've pruned my facebook presence down to, and maintaining my recently rather-too-high-maintenance YouTube account (which, like many of yours I suspect, exists for the sole purpose of remembering what videos I've watched so that I don't have to, in case there's something funny or interesting I want to share, discuss or rewatch 6 months down the road when it will once again be completely new to me). But this is becoming a source of increasing anxiety and paranoia as a tug of war regularly ensues every other time I visit because now the digital slumlords wish to exact the toll of my "real name" at the door before they allow me the privilege of logging in to watch their commercials. Honestly, it would be one thing if the world's most accurate open-source encyclopedia or the amazing All-Mart that is Amazon suddenly started harassing me to cast off my "confusing pseudonym" and stride their aisles unmasked and unencumbered, but think about this: if every website has an analog IRL, what do you think YouTube's is?

Ahh, yes. Now, who's ready to strip down to their Google IDs and wallow around in the great, glorious global overshare? Come on in... The collective unconscious garbage gyre is so inviting! You think I'm overreacting? Then I want you to march on over to YouTube right now, log in and find your history page, where it lists the last 100 videos you've watched. Got it? Mm-hmm... There are some good ones, no doubt, and some mildly amusing/embarrassing ones... and maybe some you don't even remember watching. Oh no... someone else must have been using your computer because — no, wait — that's right, now you remember... (stupid related videos). And there's that one some girl you don't even know (but you just don't have the heart to "unfriend") recommended... you didn't even think you clicked on it but the damn thing opened anyway. I know, you don't have to explain... I understand perfectly. Well, no need to skim the whole top 100, what I want you to do is send this list to (ahem, I'm sure that ubiquitous "Share" button is around here somewhere)... Wait, did I say "send?" How laughably old school of me! Post the list to facebook so all your former classmates, your parents' friends, your ex-boyfriends and girlfriends ( I know, "unfriend" is just so... final), your current coworkers and their significant others, your future prospective clients, bosses, investors, lovers, sons- and daughters-in-law and all their friends can see... Now what's the matter?

Well, nevermind. Here are some other things you could watch...

So it's been a month since Tom Scott test drove and um, reviewed FB Graph Search™ but it's only just launched to the Rest O' the World, so I think it's worth a rehash, if only for the opportunity it affords me to propose these cautionary words as our new social media mantra:

If it'd be awkward if it was put on a screen in Times Square, don't put it on Facebook. Oh, and check your privacy settings again." — Tom Scott

Tom Scott adds, "You may also enjoy When Facebook Resurrected The Dead." I know I did.


And then there's this. This is the best error screen I've ever seen, and I've seen some good ones in my day. You should read the whole thing. Yes, it's totally worth it. No, it does not go on forever (you'll thank me later for saying that).


And this is a brilliant animated short film; at the end of its eight minutes, during which I was at various turns gripped by suspense, thrilled by novelty and awed by beauty, I was ultimately left sputtering, "holy fucking shit."


And in other news the Typealyzer (which uses "psychological text analysis" to interpret the Myers-Briggs personality type of the writer) is getting better, bringing the Singularity/Robot Uprising/AI Apocalypse one step closer. I've tried running this site through it before and it's always been off by one variable or another, but now it can name that type in just one try.

The author of is of the type ISTP. (Correct!)

ISTP — The Mechanics: The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment and are highly skilled at seeing and fixing what needs to be fixed, making them ideally suited for engineering. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts...
ISTPs endure reasonable impositions without complaint — but if their "territory" is encroached upon, eroded, or violated, their quiet, easy-going nature is quickly abandoned in favor of stubborn and staunch defense of what they view as rightfully theirs.
Notable ISTPs: Donald Rumsfeld, Steve Jobs, Scarlett Johansson, Bruce Lee, Snoop Dogg, Erwin Rommel, James Bond and Boba Fett.

Ah, Rommel... You magnificent bastard, I read your book.

Interestingly, this is just one of many classifiers designed to analyze online texts for all kinds of purposes from the benign (those that claim to identify the writers' gender, age, mood and "tonality") to the inscrutable (one that says it "demonstrates connectivity between "consumers," "producers" and "transformers" of data within an emerging information and knowledge architecture," whatever the hell that means, while in reality it seems to be mapping global epidemics in real time using RSS data). Anyway, enough chit chat — I know what you're wondering and of course that was the first thing I thought of too. I just don't know if I can believe it. According to (double heh on the name, btw), " is probably written by a female somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and upset most of the time." Sigh... I still think it's a He (and a psychiatrist, which may eventually place me in the minority).

And finally I'll leave you with this...

(Americans Love Lists from Kirby Ferguson (of Everything is a Remix fame) on Vimeo.)