Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away.

There is only one thing in the known universe that frightens me more than clowns. And that thing is: THE ROBOT TAKEOVER. There are two reasons why I have a subscription to WIRED magazine. The first reason is that section where they tell you what stuff is made out of (did you know that one of the main ingredients in Pop-Tarts is also a key component of spackle?). And the second, more important, reason is to keep up on the latest technological breakthroughs so I can stay several steps ahead of the impending revolution. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find my toaster sitting on my chest with its cord wrapping around my neck. That little bastard already murders my Eggo waffles. I don’t need it turning its attention to me.

Humans have an unexplainable drive to remove the humanity from everything they touch. We are a self-loathing species. We are also quite lazy. That’s why I guess it comes as no surprise that we want to automate even the simplest tasks. However, I don’t think giving our inanimate objects the ability to power themselves is the wisest direction to travel. Building a solar-powered car is an economical and environmentally-conscious project to pursue. Slapping a solar panel on a lawn mower and leaving it to its own devices is not so bright. That’s why I was so shocked to read that many large American cities are turning to solar-powered trash cans to help save time and labor. Let me repeat that…SOLAR. POWERED. TRASH. CANS.

Now ask yourself this question: why does a trash can need power? Once you’re done shuddering with fear and locking all your doors and windows, I’ll fill you in. See, these large cities are spending a bundle on sanitation crews. They go around the city collecting all the garbage, but sometimes the cans are only partially full or whatever. So, these solar-powered cans are equipped with heavy duty compactors that can help the receptacle hold more than five times the volume of a regular wire trash can. I guess, as the trash reaches a certain level, the compactor automatically kicks in and condenses the trash. Then, when the can approaches its limit, it sends a text message to the refuse removal team. I’m going to repeat that part too: THE TRASH CAN TEXTS THE GARBAGE MAN!

Is anyone else kinda freaked out by this?

Tell me that these solar circular files won’t become favorite dumping spots for mob hitmen. And, once the trash cans get a taste for human blood, there’s no telling what they’ll do to get it. Pretty soon, they’ll be using their texting skills to dial up Domino’s to deliver pizzas to their bottomless maws. And when pizzas aren’t enough to quench their desires, they’ll soon turn to the delivery people themselves. It will be a veritable bloodbath of limbs and pepperoni.

The only upside I can conceive from these self-aware monstrosities is the fact that urban squirrel populations will greatly decrease upon their arrival. Seriously. How many of you have seen the wanton lust in a squirrel’s eye as it dives into a trash bin to retrieve that extra bit of soft pretzel you carelessly discarded? Squirrels are demons on Earth. And if it came down to choosing sides between squirrels and robotic trash cans…well, let’s just say there’s nowhere any of us could hide.

After sitting in a corner and rocking myself back to calm, I decided to do a little research and see what else our stupid scientists are imbuing with sentience. Turns out, we’re really screwing ourselves over with our forward thinking. Here are just a few of the everyday items that will now be drawing life (and potential murdering skills) from the sun:

NECKTIES – Are we really such a trusting society that we would allow a self-powered noose to drape itself around our necks? Or are we inherently suicidal? This solar necktie is designed for that businessman on-the-go who needs to charge his cell phone as he’s power-walking through the metropolis towards his next million dollar deal. The saving grace of this contraption is that no one important would ever be caught dead wearing this ugly ass thing in public. The only idiots brave enough to wear this fashion faux pas are the same people non-brave enough to venture out of their parents’ basements. No sun = no neck-based killing machine.

FOUNTAINS – I hate to say it, but this one almost makes sense (aside from the fire hose-like potential to keep us under their control). What’s the point of having a fountain running during a rainstorm (which I like to call Mother Nature’s natural fountain…yeah, I frolic)? I don’t like giving artificial intelligence to any item capable of harnessing the unlimited power of water. However, do birds really need our help to get clean? And does it really matter if a bird is clean or not? They’re still gonna poop on your car. It’s just their thing. They can’t help it. Plus, they hate you. The trash cans texted me and told me so.

FANS – This is just a Moebius strip of retarded. You’re hot and want to cool off, but the only way your fan will work is if you sit out in the sun. Stay indoors. The sun can, literally, kill you.

——————————————————————————————–

People are stupid. No wonder we don’t see the coming apocalypse. I’m telling you, Stephen King had it right. Somewhere, at some time, a big rig with a Green Goblin grill is going to rev its engine and that’ll be the signal for all countertop appliances to strike. Housewives will be the first victims, followed closely by Best Buy employees, infomercial audiences and whoever it is that pushes the buttons on our global weather machine.

You’ll see.

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87 Things That I Don’t Care About (with some links).

You ever have one of those days where nothing really interests you? A day when no matter how many magazines you read, conversations you have or websites you visit, you just can’t find anything that makes you emote in the least. This day is just a dull, bleak monotony with no end. Even sleep is boring to me right now. Not one single dream.

The sad thing is, my chosen profession puts me in a position where I’m supposed to stay abreast of pop culture and current events so that I can weave these touchpoints seamlessly into my writings. Our clients strive to be relevant. They want to be on the top of everyone’s mind. While the perks of such a profession can be enriching (tax write-offs for comic books and concert tickets under the auspice of “research”), the downside is a barely uncontrollable urge to just hide in a dark corner and weep.

In order to temporarily stave off the dreadful power of creative burnout, I’m going to talk about all the things that I don’t care about. Some of these things will be described in sarcastic detail. Some will be appended with evidence of my nonchalance. And all of them will be promoted by my non-promotion of them.

Yes, the irony is not lost on me.

Anyway, here are 87 Things That I Don’t Care About (with some links):

  1. LOST – I haven’t cared about people stranded on islands since the days of Gilligan. Smoke monsters and polar bears are just updated versions of Wrongway Feldman and Dr. Boris Balinkoff. Look it up, youngsters!
  2. Bluetooth headsets – You just look like a tool when you’re walking in a crowded shopping mall talking to yourself about tee times. Seriously. Is your life that important that you need to be in constant contact with someone? Will the world economy collapse if you take an afternoon nap?
  3. Harry Potter
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. The Cleveland Browns – Win something, then we’ll talk.
  6. Free credit reports
  7. Amy Winehouse
  8. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  9. Turkey – The country, not the animal. Turkey, the animal, is delicious. It’s especially delicious when it’s sliced thinly and piled on a hard-crusted bread with watercress, Havarti and a smear of mango chutney. I’m not kidding. It’s superb.
  10. Superpoke
  11. Super Unleaded gasoline
  12. Superchunk
  13. “Super Duper” – Used as an adjective, especially in the lyrics to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” by one hit wonder Taco.
  14. PlayStation 3
  15. Lifetime television channel
  16. People who play the bassoon
  17. Ted Turner
  18. Professional wrestler The Blue Meanie
  19. Truck stops
  20. Preteen chick flicks about vampires
  21. This guy
  22. That new Star Trek movie
  23. Anything made out of gold (silver is less pretentious)
  24. Cash4Gold
  25. Kanye West
  26. Quilts
  27. Quilting
  28. Magazines about quilting
  29. Magazines about rock climbing (but not rock climbing itself)
  30. Pecan sandies – fuck those things.
  31. Songs about women riding horses
  32. Billy Baldwin’s film career (except for Fair Game…that’s a classic)
  33. Stores that sell $350 jeans
  34. Sporks
  35. Traveling anywhere by bus – Didn’t we outlaw torture in the US?
  36. Paintings of fruit
  37. Furniture that you’re not allowed to sit on
  38. People whose pet peeves encourage them to correct other people’s grammar
  39. Paddleboats
  40. The Colorado River
  41. The difference between bologna and salami
  42. Comic books about people who hate their jobs
  43. Coup d’états
  44. The Little Rascals
  45. Country music – Except for stuff that only sounds like country music but really isn’t…like some Neko Case and Jenny Lewis songs. However, I have extra contempt for stuff that is country music but pretends not to be. I’m looking at you, Wilco.
  46. Greeting cards
  47. Bumper stickers
  48. Department store changing rooms
  49. People who ride scooters just to be clever – I’m on to you.
  50. The bullriding monkey
  51. Umbrellas
  52. Scratch and sniff stickers – For my money, they could never nail down the smell of chocolate. It was always too sweet.
  53. Ukulele songs
  54. Small dogs – If I can accidentally step on it and kill it, it is not a pet.
  55. Flightless birds
  56. Electric can openers
  57. Kites
  58. The Canadian Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center – That’s just lazy.
  59. Trilobites
  60. Galactica 80 – Wow. That was just awful, wasn’t it?
  61. Hair dryers
  62. Shorthand
  63. Nicknames for basketball players – Let me guess, it’s going to have something to do with him being tall.
  64. Kentucky
  65. Superstitions based on weather
  66. Blue food – Not counting that funky milk stuff from the first Star Wars movie
  67. Origami
  68. The jackass at every Halloween party who shows up dressed as “himself”
  69. Cannibalism
  70. Commercials for life insurance
  71. Dancing With the Stars – Not only does the premise bore me, but they blatantly abuse the word “Stars” with apparent glee and relish
  72. Banana peels
  73. Organ grinders
  74. Mushrooms
  75. The Rolling Stones (except Paint it Black)
  76. Whooping cough
  77. This car
  78. Abstinence
  79. Staying up until 2am on a Thursday to watch The Pope of Greenwich Village, because I was under the impression that it was one of those underrated great movies of my generation. Instead, it was just sort of boring. And it was difficult trying to rectify both Eric Roberts’ perm and Mickey Rourke’s face in today’s celeb-centric world.
  80. Clothing for pets
  81. The new Beyonce album that Amazon seems to think I’d be interested in, based on me adding the upcoming Hold Steady live album to my Wish List. Correlation?
  82. Basing my entire workday around the latest announcements from Apple
  83. Deep sea fishing
  84. Balloons – What’s the point?
  85. Tricycles
  86. People who only want to talk to me about what they did today. Sometimes it sucks being a great listener. Might as well be a eunuch.
  87. Not winning the lottery.

Wow, I thought that would help me feel a bit better. But it didn’t.

Today: Did You Know?

Did you know that the most common HID lamps are mercury vapor, metal halide and high pressure sodium? I bet you didn’t!

Or how about the fact that Austin Energy’s LED lighting rebate of $300 per-kilowatt-of-capacity-reduced aims to cover about 30% of the upfront cost of LEDs to help businesses explore the benefits of this new technology? That’s amazing!

Were you aware that LEDs maintain 70% of their lumen value over the lifetime of the device? I didn’t think so, smartypants!

See all the wonderful things you can retain when you’re asked to write copy for a 16-page brochure on outdoor architectural LED lighting. I feel privileged.

And slightly numb.

Don’t Tase Me, Bro!

Man, I remember simpler times. Times when people didn’t get electrocuted for asking silly questions. Times when juries weren’t blinded by pseudo-celebrity and could actually find an obvious verdict. And I remember times when MTV actually played videos.

I know, that probably makes me look ancient in your eyes. I’ve lost all that “indie street cred” that I’ve been carefully building up for the last six months. I might as well just go back to my comfy day job, my beautiful family and my modern living.

But whatever you may think doesn’t change the fact that I miss the good ol’ days of chugging cans of MGD with my high school buddies while we stood around a bonfire critiquing the latest clips from Headbanger’s Ball. And wearing a lot of flannel.

Helloween. Fuck yeah.

I am a nostalgia whore. And just to prove it, this is my ultimate geek dream:

Don't underestimate the Force!

The Star Wars Home Theater. Simply stunning. Click on the pic for the full story of its utter magnificence. And then weep your tears of shame and inadequacy.

You’re pathetic.

One Step Closer to the Takeover…

It's watching you sleep.

A robot maker has created a real-life Pinocchio (minus all the lying and talking crickets). Thankfully, the thing can’t walk or talk on its own yet…OR CAN IT?!?!

How the hell do we know what this thing is capable of? It may be trying to trick us into believing it’s non-sentient just so we’ll let our guard down. What happens when it takes control of the lab and starts making clones? Then what, Buck Rogers? Huh?

And how come everything the Japanese make has pointy hair?

The future is creepy.

UPDATE: Seriously? This was made by an American? Hmm…I’m both proud and confused at the same time. Oh, and the robot is named after his actual, real-life son. Like, just in case his real son doesn’t grow up to be what he wanted, then he can just toss the kid in that rusty cage in the basement and let the robot take his place. I’m telling you people, it’s going to happen to us all one day!!!

Mixtapes 2.0

Remember when you were in high school and you used to spend hours slaving away at your stereo? You were popping cassettes in and out, deftly maneuvering the various buttons to find the exact spots to pause and play, all with one goal in mind: The Perfect Mixtape.

Many a soul-wrenching, life-defining (and ultimately forgettable) relationship was made or ruined by the track listing, the lyrics and the specific order of songs. Not to mention what you decided to call it (hopefully something “clever” with Side A and Side B having complementary names) and how much effort you put in to designing a cover. Slacker.

Hell, I still make mixtapes as inspiration every time I’m getting ready to start a big writing project, though these days I prefer to call them “soundtracks” because I’m a professional now, and yeah, I think pretty highly of myself.

About two years ago I stumbled upon what may be the greatest invention of my generation: The cassette drive.

PlusDeck2!

Install this drive in your computer tower and you can convert all your old cassettes into MP3s. How insanely perfect is that?

And, just yesterday, I found out that this exists:

Mixtape USB

It’s a USB device made specifically for modern mixtapes, complete with cover and track listing sheet.

More storage. Takes up less space. Lasts longer. Probably better for the environment. Definitely easier to compile and create. Holy hell, this is my Utopia…

With these two devices, it may not be too late to win back that girlfriend from 9th grade. You know, the one who broke up with you because her parents actually liked you. She got pregnant right before graduation and married the manager from Foot Locker. Then you ran into her while attending your cousin’s Little League game and pretended you didn’t know who she was, even though she was waving frantically and yelling your name and your dad kept asking who that “big” girl was with the two little kids and you told him to just keep walking.

Yep, a few Culture Club hits and a perfectly placed Billy Joel ballad will win back her heart for sure.

Ah, young love. How awkward.

Kill Your Television.

I have a DVR and I am completely unashamed by it.

I have been trying to slowly wean myself off the constant craving of those cathode-ray emanations for a year or two now (even while contemplating the purchase of a massive flat-panel plasma or specialized home theater projection system). Sure, there’s a lot of the typical “TV rots your brain” propaganda behind my decision, but more and more it’s just become inconvenient for me to consistently watch something that intrigues me.

That is, until we got the DVR.

My worldview has suddenly become crystal clear. Instead of being a slave to the Idiot Box (and I’m still waiting for my pal Alex to release the box set of his show), shushing my children so I can hear the Final Jeopardy answer or cutting a shopping trip short so I can make it home in time to see who gets cut from Hell’s Kitchen, I can now make the TV do my bidding.

See, my wife works retail, so her schedule is different every week. And our children are crazy and refuse to adhere to a consistent bedtime schedule. Not to mention the fact that, if I decide to do some channel surfing and come across a cartoon (any cartoon), they scream and cry until I switch back. It’s like trying to herd blind sheep by waving your arms in front of them.

The television in our house has become more of a weapon than a tool. Occasionally the kids (and me) are mesmerized by Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters or How It’s Made. Sometimes they actually want to learn. But, for the most part, I wield the remote like some parents wield a belt or the threat of a timeout. If I don’t like the way they’re acting, Spongebob goes away for a little while.

What I’ve noticed since the arrival of the DVR is, aside from the obvious possibilities, that I’ve become much more critical about what I choose to record. A lot of the time I’m in the house, I just have the television on as background noise or I want to unwind and I’ll just lounge back and keep flicking through the channels until something catches my eye. But the DVR is for the “important” stuff.

Here’s the current list of series being recorded in our home:

Rescue Me (FX)
Mad Men (AMC)
Flight of the Conchords (HBO)
Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (Travel)
Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (BBC America)

Rescue Me is my favorite show on television. Period. It has the perfect mix of funny moments and “I can’t believe that just happened” moments. Every single character is unique and has their own flaws, which makes for realistic viewing. I haven’t watched the first episode yet, but Mad Men appeals to me because I’m fascinated with early 60’s culture and I used to work in advertising. Flight of the Conchords is quietly ludicrous with quick, witty dialogue. And the other two shows just appeal to my outlaw chef sensibilities. Look, I’m not a real critic, okay? Most of my explanations toe a fine line between “I like it” and “Who cares?”

Just believe me, it’s all good stuff. And, once the new seasons kick in, I’ll probably be adding these shows too:

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Venture Brothers (Cartoon Network)
Heroes (NBC)
Kitchen Nightmares (US version on Fox)
Friday Night Lights (NBC)
30 Rock (NBC)
The IT Crowd (NBC, midseason)

Yes, I like (or, in the case of the new shows, should like) all of these too. End of review.

And this list doesn’t include the stuff that I try to watch when it airs…Best Week Ever, Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, The Soup, Man vs. Wild, Good Eats, Iron Chef America and a bunch of VH1 shows (still debating on that new I Hate My 30’s show). Plus, I’d like to check out TNT’s new show The Company starring Batman (Michael Keaton) AND Robin (Chris O’Donnell). And, holy moley, am I in trouble once college football starts up again…and the political campaigns hit their stride too…EEP!

You know, now that I look at this never-ending list of stuff, I realize that I haven’t begun to limit my television viewing at all. The only thing I’ve managed to do is shift around the schedule a bit.

Thanks to DVR, I’m now a couch potato strictly on my own time. More like a couch Pringle really…