Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I’m Cool Like That

Sometimes things go out of style for no good reason. There’s a general consensus that said thing is pretty rad … and then one day, with no official meeting or memo even, we kinda all agree that said thing is out. And it simply vanishes without anyone even acknowledging it happened. Kind of like the younger sister on the show Family Matters. One show they had a little sister and the next they didn’t. They didn’t kill her off or send her to live with a relative. No explanation at all was given. They just stopped having a sister. Orwellian indeed.* I call it the Digable Planets Syndrome**. We have lost some very useful things and people to this syndrome.

To counter this unfair tossing away of things, I’m starting a campaign to bring things back that really never should have been exiled in the first place.

First up:
The four color pen! What a useful and awesome device. Four colors in one pen!! In fifth grade we all agreed that the four color pen was the key to unlocking our potential. The organizational implications were endless. And we all had a system. What was yours? Blue for math? Red for science? Or maybe you drew your color lines on time of day. Blue on Monday? Green on Wednesday? The sky was the limit. You and your 4 in 1 pen were going to change the world. But while you were dreaming, life was happening. We got PDA’s. We started dating. All of a sudden we felt silly having a fat pen in our hands in public. We stopped passing notes with heart dotted I’s.

QSN: Either they made the four color pen smaller or my hands got a lot bigger. As a kid I remember having to switch hands or use one hand to guide the other. But now I can write with the pen sans hand cramps.

My friends, the four color pen is back. And it’s not just for wide eyed kids anymore. I’m in a coffee shop right now proudly sporting my ink quartet. They still sell them at Staples and Office Depot. Grab one for yourself and one for the little ones in your life. This pen will change my life… if I could only remember what my system is.

ME: Was black for new jokes or blog ideas? Green is my things to do…blue is my things to do list and green is movies to add to my Netflix queue…maybe I’ll just use red for everything…

*Orwellian – refers to the world George Orwell created in his book 1984. Big brother was watching and could make people not only disappear but also erase them from history.

**Digable Planets – 90’s hip-hop outfit. That splashed on the scene with their hit “Cool Like That.” A ridiculously phat track but shortly after that we stopped messing with them. Maybe we can bring them back once we get the four color pen up on its legs.

QSN: Quick Side Note

Monday, January 05, 2009

RIP MySpace

So by now it’s probably clear to everyone that MySpace is dying a slow death. At least in the US and in Canada Facebook reigned supreme from the beginning. I know MySpace maybe went too skanky at times but this Facebook exodus, in my opinion, is a mistake.

MySpace was never perfect but it was home-grown and all it’s changes seemed organic and driven by users’ needs. Facebook seems like fun but, to me, is not very intuitive and is way too noisy. I want to be a part of an online community but I don’t want to live there and share everything about myself there. Why does everyone need to know every change? I know you can restrict people but even that is a pain. You ever try accepting a friend request on Facebook? It takes 30 seconds per add then they instantly ask you if you want to add more or suggest to that person who they should add. It’s virtual hand holding.

I’ll even concede that Facebookers seems to be a tad bit smarter than MySpacers. But where’s its soul. Facebook is high school relived. MySpace dropped out but kicks way more ass…shows more too…Which ultimately led to its demise. But take away all the scantily clad women trying to gain instant celebrity and you are left with an okay community that’s big but still small enough to morph and get personal messages from its creator. (Big Up Tom)

Facebook is like that person you date right after you break up with someone. They seem perfect because you focus on the ways that they are different from your Ex but all the while you overlook all their faults. It seems like destiny is smiling kindly down on you until it all crashes down and you realize this new one is the same, if not worse than your last one.

So what are you going to do, switch communities every 3 years when the new “hot” one comes out? And pretend it’s the best thing since sliced bread? Marvel, again, at how easy it is to find old friends? No online community is perfect. Eventually you’re going to have to find one online community and make it work. You’re not getting any younger.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Nobody Likes a Rat

So I recently found myself in a Chuck E. Cheese. Okay, I didn’t just appear there nor was I warped there. I went for my nephew’s birthday party. I took the G train to Northern Boulevard in Queens. That still didn’t stop me from repeatedly asking myself…”How did I get here?”

To call a bunch of New York City kids let loose in a virtual child wonderland unruly, is being kind. There was ticket theft, line skipping, game cheating and, although I didn’t witness it personally, I’m pretty sure some pizza swiping went down as well. To be fair, some of the game cheating was just the children and parents not knowing how to play the games. I saw one guy throwing balls at the Skee* ball machine. Throwing!! I’m from Coney Island so I’m a Skee ball aficionado. My Grandmother and I could have gone pro in Mixed Age, Mix Generation Doubles Skee ball (if there were pro Skee ball and if…) To see a grown man teaching his son to throw a Skee ball was sacrilegious and hilarious all at the same time. It doubled me over with laughter…or was it the outrage that sent my head to my knees?

QSN: It seemed the immigrant parents were the worse of the Skee ball offenders. Not only throwing the ball but also walking on the machine and placing the ball directly into the hole. Of course this made the machine tilt. To be fair to them though, I went to Japan once and I was thrown by Pachinko. And I’m sure if you put a Bocce ball in my hand without any instruction, I would ask for a bat.

In the end my nephew was terrified by the sight of Chuck E. Cheese. He finally begrudgingly came around as we kept smiling and showing that Chuck E. wasn’t too bad a guy by going over and touching him and taking pictures. We’re from New York; of course we don’t like a rat. And maybe Chuck E. is not a rat but any “mouse” that stands 6ft tall is, for all intents and purposes,…a rat! (Mickey Mouse being the lone adorable exception) Plus, NYC has become overrun with actual rats on the subway and on the streets. We’re sending our kids a mixed message.

PARENTS: Stay away from those rats on the street. They’re riddled with disease….Oh Chuck E.? That 6ft monstrosity?…oh he’s cool.

If you really want to prevent teen pregnancy, don’t give high school girls an egg or a bag of flour to carry around for a week. No, send them to Chuck E. Cheese. It’s the scared straight of teen debauchery. I’m pretty sure the two high school "Chuck E Helper" girls who flank Chuck E. and sing Happy Birthday every 20 minutes won’t get preggers until an appropriate age. Also, singing Happy Birthday to unappreciative kids and parents with a guy in a rat suit probably inspires them to have good grades as well. So, Chuck E. is also the scared straight of awful jobs.**

*Skee Ball - Wonderful arcade game that I play better than you.
** All honest work is fine by me but…you know…