Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Music Monday: Blowing by

Time is always moving at light-speed, and few have lamented its swiftness as often as I.  But this summer has been especially quick.

I feel like I got to this summer movie an hour late.  I'm sitting here ready for it to begin, yet the calendar says intermission has already passed.  Oh well, maybe at least I'll be there for the climax.  Or more likely, as the September credits start to roll and everyone else is making their way out into the lobby discussing their favorite parts, I'll be sitting there wondering what just happened.  (And leaves are falling, in the lobby!  Because the lobby represents autumn.  Am I the only one getting confused by this film/seasons analogy?)

And yet, bygone years have taught me that the next one may be even more fleeting.  So lest I while away the last precious moments of this summer bemoaning its brevity, I should get in gear and see if I can't somehow figure out this plot.

I'd like to squeeze in a trip to Cincinnati yet this season to see the Reds.  And at some point a date needs to be nailed down for a white water rafting trip for which tickets have already been purchased.  But August is my busy time, what with the toddler birthday party circuit coming up and all.  And of course, all this has to be done before September, because that's college football season.  And that's a movie I never miss.

We did manage to fit in a canoe trip over the 4th of July weekend.  I always look forward to being in a place with no cell service.  It's nice to be off the grid for awhile.  That feeling lasts about three hours.  Then I'm looking to trade my soul for someone's WiFi password.

The canoe trip is ordinarily a most relaxing excursion.  The river virtually empty.  If you encounter 4 or 5 other canoes, that's about average.  But this year, there must have been a boom in the local water recreation industry.

There were at least 3 or 4 different canoe companies that had started up since the last time I was there, and they were all taking busloads of people back and forth.  My once quiet getaway now provided about as much peace and seclusion as an amusement park.

The river was an almost non-stop cluster of canoes and 10-year-old kids in kayaks.  It was my worst nightmare.  (Except in my nightmare I whack the kids in the head with my canoe paddle and they instantaneously regenerate into even more annoying versions of themselves.)

However, this was a nice twenty seconds:

Unfortunately, views like that were far between and way too few.  I think I'm beginning to understand the allure of becoming an astronaut.  It's the only way to get away from people anymore.  In fact, is that mission to Mars still on?  Seven-person crew.  55 million square miles.  I think I can handle that.  Can we go ahead and put internet there?  And a golf course.

I also found time to discover some new music recently, downloading the new album from Jason Isbell.  He's originally from Alabama.  And as with many local things, I'm not sure I have a good grasp on how widespread or popular he is.  But he was on Letterman, so... more popular than me, but probably not as popular as, say, the Beatles or Richard Marx.  Somewhere in between.

Anyway, it being Tuesday and all, I figured it was time for a Music Monday post.  The album is titled Southeastern.  The songwriting is splendid.  And this particular song has been stuck in my head for most of the past week.

"I had to summon the confidence needed to hear her goodbye / And another brief chapter without any answers blew by..."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Debbie does delusion

I have a friend.  I know, shocking.  We'll call her Debbie.  (She once wore a bonnet and bore a striking likeness to the snack cake empress, so we started calling her "Little Debbie.")

Some years ago, Debbie, her boyfriend, a couple other friends and I went to the Mardi Gras.  It was 1990-something.  We were young.  We had no idea what was in store....  OK, so I suppose we had some idea.

We would stay in Mobile, whose Mardi Gras celebrations, I learned, actually pre-date those in New Orleans by several years.  We'd check out the parades in Mobile one day, and drive over to check out the scene in New Orleans another day.

But this is not a Mardi Gras story, per se.  It's more of a Little Debbie story -- the friend, not the snack cake.  (Though I could discuss Nutty Bars, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and Banana Twins at length.)  It's  a story I had forgotten about until I was talking about imaginary friends with someone last week.  No, not my therapist.  Well, not paid therapist anyway.

Debbie is a sweet, sweet person, passive and a bit soft-spoken, which I suppose left her open to our, at times, incessant kidding.  She was always talking about these girls -- friends of hers -- that we never saw.  So at some point it became sort of a running joke amongst our little group of friends that these girls didn't actually exist and Debbie was just making them up.

Yes, long before Manti Te'o, there was Debbie. 

It was in Mobile that the whole imaginary friends thing sort of came to a head. 

One of Debbie's "friends" from college lived in Mobile.  We'll call her "Alison."  Debbie was to call Alison when we got in town and we'd meet up at some point.  "Sure we will, Debbie.  Whatever you say."

On the drive down, that's all we heard.  Then once we arrived, we weren't allowed to make any other plans until we found out when Alison wanted to hang out.  At long last, we were going to meet one of Debbie's friends.

She called Alison one afternoon to supposedly set up the rendezvous.  I want to say one of us grabbed the phone to see if there was actually a real, live person on the other end, but my memory fails me at this point so I can't be sure.

When Debbie got off the phone, we asked when and where we were supposed to meet her "friend."

"She says she'll just meet us downtown tonight."

In case you've forgotten, it's Mardi Gras.  There are several THOUSAND people downtown.  Tens of thousands.  And we're just supposed to bump into this girl "downtown???"

Needless to say, we never ran into her.  And as you might imagine, the teasing grew evermore incessant.

That was back in the days when we were all broke and limber enough to fit 6 or 7 people in one hotel room/two beds.  (Well, I'm still broke, but no longer quite so limber.)  To Debbie's credit, she did not require us to leave a space in bed for her imaginary friend.

Or make me give her any of my beads for flashing her imaginary boobs.

"When you're alone / And life is making you lonely / You can always go / Downtown..."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jumping the Sharknado

When I first heard about the Sharknado, I'll be honest, I thought it was real.  In my mind, I pictured a series of angry shark attacks in a limited geographical area.  Sort of a Bermuda Triangle meets the killer bees meets Jaws.  With all the freaky stuff going on in the world today, I figured, "Why not?"

Then I found out it was a movie.  And a sci-fi movie, at that.  And suddenly I had lost what little interest I ever had.

I was on Twitter Thursday night when the Sharknado began.  At least three out of every four tweets on my feed were Sharknado-related.  As is often the case when seemingly everyone jumps on the bandwagon of anything, I become even more averse to that thing.

I briefly considered unfollowing everyone who tweeted anything about Sharknado.  "That'll show 'em," I thought to myself, suddenly feeling like someone you'd most often find living in their parents' basement.  But as that would have left me only following about eight people, I decided to pass.

And then...

Someone made the mistake of tweeting something about Ian Ziering being in the movie.

And that's all it took for me to be sucked into the Sharknado.

Yes, while many guys may have been watching to see Tara Reid, I was not among them.  I was watching for the actor who once played the affable Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210.

You see, I have an obligation to watch any and everything featuring any former cast member of the original 90210.  (Except for Andrea. Blech!)  Why else would I have watched even the fifteen minutes I did of Tori & Dean: Inn Love?  Exactly.  There is no other acceptable reason.

For the few of you who may still be reading, er, wondering what Sharknado is, I quote from the ultimate source of all internet knowledge, Wikipedia: "Sharknado is a 2013 made-for-television disaster film about a tornado that lifts sharks out of the ocean and deposits them in Los Angeles."

Sort of a City of Angels meets Jaws meets Twister.

However, Sharknado was much more than just a movie.  It was, simply put, a Twitter phenomenon.  Soon I found myself making sarcastic comments about the movie with people I'd never met.  For two hours, that's all we did.  Even a few members of the Twitterati were chiming in.  It was such an in-the-moment, true-life experience... in a virtual setting, obviously.

In fact, I do hereby declare that from now to forever, all subsequent Twitter phenomena in which more than half of all Tweets in the world at any given moment are about the same topic also be referred to as a "Sharknado."

Some examples: "Boy, Twitter really sharknadoed last night."  "That UFO landing caused Twitter to Sharknado last night."  (Note: There hasn't really been a UFO landing. At least, not that the government will admit.)

For your confusion, I will be using the term "Sharknado" to refer to both the movie and the Twitter phenomena.

The fact that 1.4 million people watched Sharknado probably says more about the lack of halfway-decent summertime TV options than anything else.  Because it was bad.  We're talking  USA-Up-All-Night bad.  But the thing is, it was so bad, it was hilarious.  I would estimate SyFy spent upwards of five, six thousand dollars on the 1960's-era special effects.

What could have made it better?  I have two words for you: Brandon Walsh.  Well, any additional original 90210 characters really.  You telling me "Sure, Donna Martin graduated, but can she survive... the Sharknado?!?!" wouldn't have made a killer tag line?

But I'll take what I can get.  It was nice to see Ian Ziering not be typecast for once.  In Sharknado, his character is a California surfer and bar owner. As opposed to 90210, where his character was a California frat boy and club manager.  (I think we all remember the Peach Pit After Dark.)  So, very different.

I also have a few suggestions for future SyFy movies that I would like to see:  Dogcano.  Snakequake.  The scarier-than-you-might-think Hurricrane.  And the catch-all Zoonami.  And by "I would like to see," I mean, "I can't promise that I'll be watching."

One wonders what might possess SyFy to make such a bad movie in the first place?  Well, if nothing else, it keeps actors like Ian Ziering gainfully employed, so that they don't have to resort to a career in the porn industry.  I mean, even I don't want to see that.  Well, maybe.......  No, definitely not.

In closing, I'm sure this post has raised several questions in your mind, about me, about the world we live in... but mostly about me.  And I'm sure some of you are also wondering, could a Sharknado ever really happen?

Well, if you're referring to the tornado/shark natural disaster portrayed in the movie, my answer would be: I don't really know.  I'm not sure I understand all the science and meteorology behind it.

But if you're referring to the Twitter phenomenon which will now and forevermore be known as a Sharknado, my answer would be:  It already has.

"And I've given up hope on the afternoon soaps and a bottle of cold brew / Is it any wonder I'm not crazy? / Is it any wonder I'm sane at all?"

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

He lives

I made my little-ballyhooed return to Facebook a couple weeks ago.  The response was as you might expect.  A couple of "He's alives!" and one "Rumors of Bone's demise were greatly exaggerated."

But alas, I'm no Facebook Jesus.  Or even a Facebook Paul McCartney.  If anything, I'm more of a Facebook Luke Spencer.  Good for a few one-liners, then mysteriously absent for months on end.  But always, beloved by all.  (Wow, that last line sounds a little tombstone-ish.  Eh, I'll never come up with anything better.  Go ahead and chisel me in.)

November 28, 2011.  That was the fateful day of my last Facebook status update.  I had posted the following: "Why does Yahoo weather say it's snowing here, but when I look out I don't see ANY?  Am I... wait for it...... snow blind?"

And then, nothing.  For nineteen months.  No likes.  No status updates.  No passive-aggressive "Don't you love when someone lies to your face."  No "Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes, I've never felt more loved (by people I barely know)."

Nineteen months with no Facebook gives a man a lot of time to think.  And tweet.  But mostly, tweet.

Since my unceremonious return, the two questions I get the most are: Why did you quit Facebook?  And why did you come back?  And, did you know your Dad has like a hundred more friends than you?  OK, so three questions.

To be honest, I have given almost no thought to the first question.  I mean, who has the time for such ponderings when you log in to see one of your high school friends (Axl) has changed his profile pic and underneath it you read "Your dad and twelve other people like this."  (Is that tombstone ready yet?)

Top of my head, a few things do come to mind which contributed to my hiatus.  They include, but are not limited to:  Political posts.  People who seem to be in some unannounced competition to make their life seem beyond perfect and better than everyone else's, especially when you talk to said person almost daily and they do nothing but gripe and complain about their life away from Facebook.  Also, it sometimes felt like a contest for likes and comments.

And don't get me started on the typos and misspelled words. My God, the misspelled words! My blood pressure goes up forty points just thinking about them.

But mainly, I think it comes down to the fact that I'm just not a very social person.  And it is, after all, a social networking site.  It was just too much.  I like my human interaction in small doses.

So why am I back?  I suppose I had contemplated returning for sometime.  But ultimately, the straw that broke the Facebook-less camel's back was a single, kind post by a sweet friend.  It reminded me that there were a lot of good, supportive friends there.  And that I shouldn't let the bad and annoying behavior of a few rob the rest of the world of my brilliant-in-my-own-mind, if sporadic, statuses. Besides, it's becoming pretty clear Facebook is part of my heritage.

I can easily see Dad and I having a Frank and George Costanza Festivus moment, only about Facebook:
"Bone, Facebook is your heritage. It's part of who you are!"
"That's why I hate it."

Don't get me wrong.  It's still way too much.  Do you realize some people post on Facebook four or five times a day?  Who has that kind of time???  I barely had time to score twelve thousand points last week in Words With Friends.

And can I just say, I think we're all overusing the "like" button a bit?

"My dog died."  47 likes.

"My kid's sick." 22 likes.

"Darrin lost his job today.  No idea how we're going to pay the rent next month." 6 likes.

And now we're liking comments, too?  You can even like your OWN comment (which I have done, on more than one occasion, if you're curious).  Next we'll be liking likes.  "Hey, I liked your last status update, why didn't you like my like?"  These are the important conversations I imagine people to have.

The other thing I would like to know is where are all these overly-friendly people in real life?  I mean, I'm driving and people are cutting me off and honking and giving unflattering hand gestures.  And nobody likes anything or anybody at work.  People are griping about their spouses or clients or co-workers.

But put these very same people on Facebook, and magically they turn into the world's largest support group.  How fortuitous, as I've been looking for a new support group since my Jason-Morgan-Dependency group fizzled out a few weeks ago.

I should invent an app.  It would work with your Facebook page to give your friends more options than just liking a post.  There could be a "sympathy" button.  A "love" button.  (Sounds kinda kinky.)  A "BO-RING!" button.  If a post gets 10 "borings" Facebook automatically deletes it.  And of course, the ever popular "My God, are you on Facebook 24/7!?!?" button (also known as the "you are posting excessively" button).

I'm serious about this!  I think I shall be googling "Designing Apps For Dummies" later today.

Game on, Zuckerberger.

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"Looking at pictures on Facebook / Of your ex-girlfriend / At three in the morning / Never helped anyone..."