Friday, December 30, 2011

My Random 2011 Rewind

These are a few of my most random things—a few random 2011 events that made a bunch of noise that bear honorable mention… before they fall off the edge of the earth, never to be heard from again.

Netflix becomes Qwikster–then becomes Netflix again. In a shameless (and transparent) bout of unabashed greed, movie-on-demand specialist, NetFlix, announced in September that they were splitting their business in half and essentially (over) charge customers who wanted to maintain a DVD-by-mail account with their new spin-off. Not since "New Coke" has there been a more infuriating attempt to tamper with something that works just fine. The outrage–and subsequent plummet in stock value–lasted only about three weeks before the Qwikster concept was six-feet deep. The best part? The Qwikster twitter handle was owned by a guy whose Avatar was Elmo smoking weed. Of course, that might have been how all of this started in the first place.

72-Days of Bliss. After just 72 days and one of televisions most expensive (and watched!) weddings, to the tune of $15 million dollars, porn starlet–er, reality TV personality Kim Kardashian files for divorce from NBA star, Chris Humphries. This is one of those instances where the news is the punchline. Kim, I'm a fan, but maybe next time, you could spend a little time off-camera actually connecting with someone before getting engaged. you know, talking, discussing values, planning a life together, family–all the usual suspects. This may help your next wedding last longer than one of your sex tapes.

The NBA's Pre-Christmas Town Hall. Here's an idea that has a 24-second shot clock; take overpaid players from a sport failing to keep in fan's good graces and post a live web-feed Q and A session for them to answer inane questions from adolescents. As an advertising, marketing and PR guy, I have two words for you on this one gang. Epic Fail. Hey, here's a thought, let's try and have a season that matters and maybe have at least ONE NBA story before the end of 2011 NOT be about the NBA Players and their "good-hearted" nature or how they have been wronged by the man. Guys when you make $5 million a year–you ARE the man. My favorite description of the NBA sadly still holds true–the NBA is a bunch of Rich White guys watching a bunch of Rich Black guys play ball (sigh).

Duke Nukem Forever Lost. It took forever to hit the shelves, but when 90's gaming fad and FPS icon Duke Nukem launched his latest title this past summer–well, the bullets weren't just flying at the in-game adversaries. In about the most disenchanting gaming sequel in recent memory, DNF proved it was an idea whose time had come… and gone. As a gamer, who actually played Duke endlessly in the 1990's I couldn't be more disinterested. Hey, gaming world, check this out; the next time a game title takes more than a decade to produce–move on. Because that's exactly what your audience has done.

The Herman Cain Mutiny. I don't usually wax politic in this blog, but for this bloke, I will make an exception. Coming literally out of nowhere to rave reviews by the GOP, ex-Godfather's Pizza mogul Herman Cain became the sweetheart of the conservative nation and served his slice of "I don't know about that" politics—with extra cheese. I suppose I should be past being surprised that our nation latches on to someone who knows less about politics and leadership than my 13-year old son, but his meteoric rise to prominence stunned us all. My favorite Cain-moment was the five-and-a-half minute bumbling non-answer he gave reporters concerning the answer to a hypothetical question over the handling of this year's Libyan conflict. Pure Gold. Check it out here. Well, I suppose this means the ultra-conservatives proved they aren't as racist as we all assumed they were. At least on the surface, anyway. If you need to ride the Cain Train (NOT my terminology BTW), you'll have to stand in line as the sexual harassment suits are still piling up.

There and Back Again: A Space Shuttle's Journey. July 21st, 2011, the final Shuttle Mission of the Atlantis was officially the last launch of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Having flown for more than 30 years, the Space Shuttle program always seemed as though it would be a staple of America's space program. As shuttles Endeavour and Discovery are lined up to be carted off to their final resting places, I reflect on the tragedy and triumph of three decades of space-age adventures. As a fan of perpetuating science, I look forward to a bright future for our space program.

Happy New Year!—to all my readers and tune in again as we start 2012 with new stories, more profiles and yes, more random rants and raves. Until then, I'll be in the corner...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Knock it off already!

Smart Phones have dug themselves into our pockets and our lives—and self restraint is nowhere to be found.

I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4S! As a devoted Apple computer minion, I couldn't imagine a more fitting way to round out my arsenal of social connectivity then by adding the world's best, fastest most sought-after Smart Phone. My home network, is now a thriving apple hub of metal and plastic models of the world's friendliest computer. To sum it up, my iPhone is the bomb–and I am afraid.

Very afraid.

Don't misunderstand, this phone is more powerful and has more features (comparatively) than two of my older Macs. No, what I mean is this phone–it has a way of consuming your attention, your focus and your day.

Ever been at the movies and had someone's Smart Phone light-up half the theater because they just had to check the latest twitter about Aunt Mildrid or what their favorite movie star is up to (by the way, exactly NONE of them write their own tweets or monitor their own Facebook pages). Or maybe you've been behind a fancy, slow moving SUV, moving roughly 22 mph. When you finally pass it–you guessed it–they're on a phone. What about the girl in the grocery store treating us to every detail of her boring-ass workday to a person on the other end who is just as disenchanted as we are. I have even heard stall-squatters in the men's room answer phone calls – while pinching a loaf! Are you kidding me? Dude, not only does no one in the bathroom want you to hear you promise to pick up eggs; milk on the way home to wifey, but—are you sitting down for this? oh yeah, you are–she can HEAR you on the toilet, dummy!

This overabundance of social disregard is due to the ADD Smart Phones have inflicted on all of us. I know, I get it. I'm guilty too (well, not of the bathroom stuff, that's just gross!).

There is a delightful charm these gadgets provide for us that makes us feel connected, be in touch and literally have the world at our fingertips. The number of traffic accidents has never been higher, work place productivity has never been lower and our fellow human beings have never been so distracted in the course of human history.

It has been my experience that none of us are using these phones to 1/1000th of their real capacity. Email, FaceBook, Twitter, you don't need a HAL-9000 for these. However, you do need a little common sense. We could all use a little less time in front of our three-inch screens and a little more real-time connectivity. Whoa. Did you see that? Hell, now even the real thing sounds like some social media initiative.

Maybe we're all doomed. Or maybe, we just need to unplug. The bottom line is–opps, gotta go… I have a new challenger on Words with Friends–!