I’ve got an idea. Let’s put Google in charge. Of, like, totally Everything. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
My wife and I have perfected the art of screaming at the TV while Google runs a new series of ads promoting something called Google Play. The ads seem tailor made for millennials, those wacky creatures with birthdays in early 1980s to the early 2000s.
Google loves millennials. Also grandmothers using AOL on Windows 95 who only know how to open emailed photos of grandchildren and stalk the entire family on Facebook. But it’s mostly the millennials.
Millennials are the people in your neighborhood who get run over by cars while texting, fall down open manholes when walking down a sidewalk while texting, running over other people while driving and texting, listening to lectures in college and texting, working mundane jobs and texting, and, if the rumors are true, even use their internet-powered smartphones while sitting on the toilet.
Whatever Google poops out millennials soak up like a sponge. How about Google in your wristwatch like George Jetson? Yes, please! How about Google in a computer you strap to your face? I’ll look so cool! How about Google you wear in a ring on your finger? Yes, I do.
These are people living enhanced reality sorts of lives. Why just look at a boring street when you can wear goggles that superimpose text (in the font of your choice) and describe what’s in view so you won’t have to hurt your brain? And it’s free, not counting the 20% of display real estate devoted to blinking advertisements.
Speaking of which, the ad campaign for Google Play is promoting the ability to watch Hollywood blockbuster movies like “Yankee! Look at me! I am the Captain now!”
Of course, with Google involved, it doesn’t quite stop there. In Google’s opinion, while watching the movie, you should be multitasking. Perhaps using some Google Docs to manage your money. Manage tomorrow’s expenditures and consumption. Let’s devote about 20% of the display to that.
Google is known for search (an admittedly archaic service they continue to offer for nostalgic reasons) so of course they recommend that while enjoying movies. In the commercial the clever viewer realizes, “Holy shit! That’s Tom Hanks. Click pause. Let’s google that sum bitch. I bet this isn’t his first movie. What else has this guy been in?”
With proper utilization of the myriad of services offered by Google, it’s possible to give less and less screen to the movie itself. If done properly, the movie can be shrunk to the size of a single twinkling pixel, much like a real star in Google NightSky.
Of course, at that size, the only part of the movie that can actually be enjoyed is the audio, and that is easily overwritten by Google Radio.
A good movie prompts a feeling of suspension of disbelief. It takes you out of the moment. Google doesn’t like people who are present in the moment. That’s why they launched Google Omnipresent Stimuli. Movies should never get your full attention. They should just be a tiny slice of the stimuli spectrum. With advertising, of course.
“Yankee! Look at Google! They are the Captain now.”
Guru Fieldwork: Anthropology
It was a Tuesday
A day like another other day
I left my hermit space
For a nation in decay
I know, I know! I deserve what I get when I leave the house. Stepping out into the world is exactly like asking for it.
I can’t help it. Stuff happens. I guess it’s all my fault for observing it. If I was oblivious then maybe it wouldn’t bother me.
But what has been seen cannot be unseen. Leaving the house is where the empirical process of data collection begins.
Sometimes, rarely, it works in my favor. Like two weeks ago when we went to the movies. I had to pee so I walked into the auditorium-sized men’s room. Along one wall was a line of 20 urinals. I picked my spot and made a beeline. Along the way I spotted the guy. You know, the one asshole who exists in every social situation. He was standing at a urinal, doing his business with one hand, and talking away on the iPhone in the other. Millennials call that multitasking. I call it being a dill hole.
That’s when The Miracle happened in the blink of an eye.
Clackity clack clack clack.
The iPhone got dropped. And there it went! Zoom zoom! Clackity clack all the way across that pee-covered bathroom floor. The guy stood there, still holding his other device, and lamely watched it go.
It just goes to show that – sometimes – good things can happen. It was pure serendipity and, for one brief moment in time, I forgot all about pain. I was in the moment.
Last night I left the house again but the empirical results were decidedly not as fun. Not by a long shot.
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The Episodic Table of Plot Elements
If you have ever watched commercial programming on television you may already be aware of this, but sometimes the shows repeat plot points. Surprising but true. It generally works something like the instructions on a shampoo bottle:
- Hire a core troupe of actors and put them in a setting, like a meat packing plant or a sewer treatment facility
- Go through the episodic table of plot elements
- After a certain period of time, usually 3-7 years, replace the actors and the setting, like the actuarial tables dept. at an insurance company
- Rinse and repeat
When watching a show with my wife, within the first 30 seconds I’ll shout out the plot variation as soon as it is recognized. Trust me, she really loves this. “Oh, god, no!! It’s plot #42. Wacky birthing episode ending with a touching isn’t-that-thing-cute moment. I’ll be on the computer. Let me know when it’s over.”
Here’s a few excerpts from the episodic table:
- A previously unknown family member of a main character comes to visit for a short time (father, mother, brother, sister, child, etc.)
- A main character is extremely distressed because an extended family member gets engaged, married, divorced, is involved in adultery or illicit love affair and/or dies
- Two main characters are involved in a marriage proposal, wedding, break-up, divorce, adoption, pregnancy and/or birthing
Even with those three limited examples from the table the possibilities are almost endless. I bet they could be used to generate over 500 specific plots. Mother and cousin come to visit. Father and sister die. Brother and niece get engaged. Mother pregnant, father having an affair. Father pregnant, mother having an affair. Yep, the permutations are practically unlimited.
When watching Northern Exposure the other day I noticed one of the rarer elements. “Looks like #138 coming our way,” I shouted. A mute traveling performer had been courting one of the main characters for several episodes. Sagely, I predicted, “I’ll bet the mute guy is moved to speak in a moment that will be especially poignant.” It was so touching, that I nailed it, I mean. My wife couldn’t have been more pleased.
The episodic table easily applies to movies, too. George Lucas, for example, often calls crap like this “notes” that are repeated across films, again and again and again and again and again. Did I mention again? To make this point I’ll now transport you from one galaxy far away to a make-believe land of medieval sex, violence and political intrigue. It won’t require that much suspension of disbelief.
Or, as I like to call it, “A Note Ripped From Star Wars By Game Of Thrones.” Introducing element #78: The Fake Greeting.
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J.J. Abrams is your father!!!
It always a fun time when one of the Abyss family gets a moment in the sun. And by “family” I mean people we’ve blasted in the past. Here’s to you, J.J. Abrams. -Ed
There are so many great moments in the history of Star Wars:
Darth Vadar cuts Obi-Wan Kenobi in half with his lightsaber.
Darth Vader reveals that he is Luke Skywalker’s baby daddy.
George Lucas gets an idea for a new character to provide comic relief.
Disney Corporation gobbles up Lucasfilm Corporation.
The White House rejects a petition to build the Death Star.
J.J. Abrams announced as director of Star Wars 7.
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Worst Movie Bosses
Ever since I reviewed the movie Horrible Bosses this last Monday, I’ve been thinking about bad bosses as portrayed in the movies. You’d think by now I’d be an expert on this but I kind of struggled. I couldn’t think of very many.
Of course, the first one to come to mind was Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. I’ve seen that movie so many damn times. Lumbergh is a classic boss, always moaning about “TPS reports” (whatever the hell they are) and trying to get employees to work on the weekend. He’s not a very good listener, either, and becomes nasty when the consultants he hired turn on him. LOL!
Other than that, the only other bad boss I could think of was the Meryl Streep character in The Devil Wears Prada. Yes, I’ve actually seen that movie, but I barely remember it. Sure, she seemed like a biz-natch to have as a boss, but, deep down inside, didn’t she really care about her worker? After all, she told that other company they’d be idiots not to hire her and then there was that smile at the end of the movie that told us she was nice. You know, deep down inside. Not that it may have matter by then.
That was about it. That was all that came to mind. So I turned to the internet. Ah, I found something called “The Top 10 Worst Movie Boss” on Spike.com. Now we’re talking. Let’s see what they thought of that I didn’t.
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Hollywood’s summertime blues
Everyone say it with me now: Awwwwwwwww!
Poor, poor Hollywood.
Hollywood is feeling sad because the summer of 2011 had the lowest movie attendance since 1997. That’s so sad. So all you peeps in the industry only made thousands of times my yearly salary? Wow. I feel for you. Truly!
Because I am a benevolent guru, I’m willing to take a few previous moments out of my day to offer a little advice that just might help you out of your doldrums. Even though I know never in a million years will you listen or follow this advice. You’d rather die first, right?
The solution is simple. Make the movie going experience more fun than licking all the urinals in town.
The problem is simple. Your product is defective. Seriously. Who the fuck wants to go to a theater and sit with a bunch of rude and disgusting assholes?
Hey, I’m serious. Not once in my life has a movie theater ever given half a shit about my “experience.” Not once!
Not once have I ever seen a movie theater eject people for talking. For answering cell phone calls during the movie. (Even during United 93.) Or for any reason.
Never have I seen anyone ejected. Ever. The fact of the matter is this: Movie theaters have no system for proactively protecting the experience. Actually, I find that a bit mind boggling because that experience is their product.
In the world of business there is sometimes a principle which holds true: Don’t give a shit about your product and your bottom line just may be affected.
Fix that and maybe more people will decide to try your product again. Until then, fuck it. We’re willing to wait and watch at home.
Fix your product and they will come. I’m mostly talking to the theater chains here, but I’m also talking directly to Hollywood. They’re nitpicky about all sorts of other things, I think they should give a shit about their end users, too. They should team up with the chains to improve things. It is only to their own benefit. The reality is simple: If people find it too unpleasant to go to the movies they’ll eventually decide not to go, especially when faced with ever-growing exorbitant ticket prices.
Make going to movies fun again, dammit. Or shut yer bitching about declining attendance.