Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Russell Crowe? Australian for "Blasphemy"!

Some movies just shouldn't be re-made. The classics - those with characters whose shoes no one else can fill. How on earth could anyone else take the place of Bogey and Bacall in Casablanca? Or what about Pacino in The Godfather? Or Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany's?

Well, an audacious Aussie is about to try to fill some pretty big shoes. I don't think he can do it...but then again, I've read the book three times and seen the movie far too many to count. There is only one Rhett Butler, and his name is NOT Russell Crowe.

Is Russell Crowe the new Rhett Butler? Before you say "Frankly my dear, I
don't give a damn," wait till you hear who the Scarlett O'Hara will be. She's a
fellow Aussie but the two have never worked together. The film will be made by
"Moulin Rouge" auteur Baz Luhrman and the script is said to be a love story
based on "Gone With The Wind." Who's the woman who may rip the draperies off the wall to stitch together a fetching frock? None other than the bewitching Nicole
Kidman. The as yet untitled film starts production next year. Just keep Russell
away from the hotel phones.

That said, I'm not a Crowe fan anyway - I'll avoid just about anything with him in it, no matter what his blockbuster status. At least Ron Howard was smart enough not to pick him to star in The DaVinci Code, although of the three who made the cut, I wish he had taken Clooney instead.

(By the way, Happy Holiday season to all! My few days off left many a thought swirling in my brain, and I think I'll do some blogging on them over the next few days. But tonight, I sleep)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Gobble Gobble!

Wow, this has been a busy week. A true sign the holidays are indeed upon us.

But I'm not too busy to wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. Whether you're gathering around the family table for a tryptophan (sp?) overload, or eating your tofurkey by yourself (as I've done with the real thing far too many years to count), or anything in between - good luck, and may the holidays be a good thing in your life this year instead of a drag.

This year, I'm skipping town...I refuse to eat another turkey breast for one. See ya when I get back!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


It's a move that's giving a whole new meaning to the idea of the great literary texts. THe classics are going high tech. According to articles from CNN, the BBC, and numerous local newspapers , services are trying to summarize the ideas of Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, and Upton Sinclair to name only a few, into small, consumable text messages.

Now, I love Shakespeare. Once you get into his work, the rhythm of the language is amazing, and his audacity to create new language or slang to get his point across is admirable. TO me, these snippets will lose something. However, I'm no purist. This could open the classics up to an entirely new generation of people who don't have the attention span or the time or the desire (or all three) to sit down and start them for themselves. This could be their gateway into the old fashioned technology known as print on a page, or a book.

So I don't think I'll be signing up for the service, but should anyone try to condense Hemingway down to 160 characters or less, let me know. That I gotta see!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is technology turning us into veritable Luddites?

I had already started a great post about technology today when the phone rang. The substance of that conversation started me thinking. As for the other thoughts, well, you'll get them another day, don't worry.

So, a guy I know called me and told me he was thinking of switching his phone service. Turns out a company made the announcement they are coming out with a Skype wi-fi telephone. Forgive me if I get a few details wrong, as I know little about this technology, but basically, he could use his wi-fi router to make the service available in the whole house, and save money. This is because he could talk free to other Skype users, but would have to pay to talk to regular ol' folk like me, but he would do so in two stages - one package for minutes for calls coming in, and one package for minutes going out (We'll call them, "Skype-In" and "Skype-out").

He went on and on, extolling the virtues of this service over his current provider. Knowing, as I do, that this is a man who is hellbent on staying on top of gadegtry and technology, I finally had to stop him to make this observation.

Only the electronics/technology industry will ask us to step backwards and call it progress.

Think about it. Were any established type of phone service to insist that we pay for minutes by two plans, one for who's calling us and one for calls we make...we would be outraged. People would be switching away from BellAtlantic or Verizon or Sprint or whomever if our land lines chose to run like that, not to mention if cell service went that route. It's a pain and almost a step backwards. But because it's attached to a new "cutting edge technology" he's willing to give up that which we have come to expect, to accept something that rings of a throwback to the days of the party line, in order to have that cache of being "the first" or "cutting edge" himself.

And the phone industry isn't the only one doing it. Look, for example, at HDTV. It's no coincidence that more units are selling now. Until the last year or so, many units were not HD ready...so in order to see this beautiful new crisp digital picture, you had to get - you guessed it - the '90s or '00s version of digital rabbit ears! People who bought one of these units early on had to put aerials on their rooftops in order to even use their new high tech purchase. Wanted to cable to it? You needed a convertor box, and even then most cable systems fought having to carry the HD signals. Now, most units are HD-ready, and many more are heading off the shelves. It's not the only reason, mind you, but it's one that has opened people's minds and made them more open to the idea of shelling out that kinda dough for a TV.

Now, look at the auto industry. Imagine what would happen if Toyota (and I'm just grabbing random names here, folks) told us that in order to get a convertible, we'd have to have to have manual windows, or the hottest new car on the lot only came in puce, or the on board entertainment system only came in a 4-cylinder model? People who like puce, or don't mind manual windows, or those who ABSOLUTELY have to have the hottest car or the biggest entertainment system would be fine with it. The rest of us would likely high-tail it to another dealership to look for something that matches both our needs and our expectations.

I explained all of this to him, and asked if he was willing to allow technology - that which is supposed to enhance our lives - not advance his life, but rather reverse its course in that he would now have to spend time tracking three accounts of minutes and therefore eat into more of his free time. He said he looked at it as a cost savings. I say my time is worth more than that...his jury is still out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Quick like a bunny rabbit?

**Disclaimer - links in this post may not be work safe***

Ladies and Gentlemen, virtual sex has arrived. No, I'm not talking one handed typing in chat rooms or obsequious porn scattered about the internet, or even performance in front of a web cam. Sex toys are going high tech.

Before I go any farther, I suppose you're wondering why I even know about these things. Well, I have a friend who's quite a geek (meant in the most endearing of terms, trust me...after all, I find intelligence to be a turn on) who has gotten engaged. His fiancee lives a few states away. In the neverending search for the perfect gift, one of my friends discovered sex toys that can be activated by text messages or controlled remotely from a computer, and felt the need to share them with us before sending one to the happy couple. I just feel the need to share this with you because, well, I can.

We all know that the driving force behind propagating a technology among the masses isn't its utility for education or business applications, but it's ability to expand the amateur pornography industry. Usenet exploded when people discovered alt.sex.anything...the most frequented sites in the early days of the web were adult websites and chatrooms. Now, that same entrepreneurial spirit is reaching into the bedroom. Or should I say, across the bedroom?

Looking for an example? How about a toy equipped with Bluetooth that can be activated via text message, anytime, anywhere? (I'm trying to keep the text work/family friendly at least -
here's the link if you want to know more) Or the one that my friend ended up purchasing: The Internet Enabled Rabbit (Again, this link isn't worksafe - click at your own risk). For those who can't/won't click, here's a sanitized version of the description:

Across town or across the country, plug and play the Rabbit into one computer,
while the other operates the controls with a secure connection! ... And here's
another great feature: hook-up the Rabbit to your PC and gain access to dozens
of additional features...!
System requirements: Windows 98 and later, serial
port or USB adapter (sold separately).

Now, the first thing I thought of when I read this was "
The Grey Hounded Hare" - that Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs is at the dog track and sees the electric bunny decoy and spends 3 and a half minutes trying to save her from the dogs, only to stop her at the end of the track and get quite a shocking kiss! But the second thing I thought of was a book I read in college about technology and escapism. One of the chapters was about using technology and virtual reality to ease people who had social disorders into real human interaction, from crowd settings to sexual contact. What does this say about our society if we are now choosing to interact in ways that less than a decade ago were reserved for people with imbalances and disorders? Are we all heading toward some greater dysfunction? Or were the people we thought were slightly off, actually right all along?

You know, 63 percent of American families fit the definition of dysfunctional. That means they're the norm now. While you chew on that for a while, I'm going to go have some real human interaction before our rabbits and Bluetooth and computers and cell phones turn our very homes into convents and monastic cloisters.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Oh what a tangled web we weave, and not just when we practice to deceive (Sorry, Will!). We weave a spider's web of connections to the rest of the world every day that we live, every sphere in which we interact. And even when those spheres have no connection whatsoever, or so we think, we are often proven wrong.

Let me illustrate.

Today, I sat down at my computer and went to one of my
favorite blogs. The top post there referred, in turn, to another blog, which I went to and read. Then I read the comments. One of those triggered something in my mind that sent me to that blog, and I did the same thing there as well.

I stopped this mad web of click throughs for two reasons. One - I landed on a blog where the writer doesn't live far from me so I was curious to read their take on things; and Two - the topic itself. The writer was talking about connections, which inspired me to reflect on the clickery that landed me in his piece of the web....

However, in his piece, he focused on connections to the past, and how we hold on to items that remind us of people and times we can't recapture. We are a nation of packrats. But why are we keeping that thank you note from the baby shower gift of someone we haven't seen in three years? Why does that stuffed animal from the ex-boyfriend still grace the shelf of our closet instead of some child's bed? Are we holding onto the things because we can't hold on to the people who gave them to us? Is this our own futile attempt to stop time - by keeping mementos of better days out in plain view where they co-exist with our own current status?

Which brings me back to the beginning. Walk through your house. Look at the little things....not the painting on the wall or the dishes in the cabinet, but the books on the shelves, the earrings in your jewelry box, the CDs by the stereo. Who gave them to you? Why did you buy them? How long have you had them?

I'm sitting here at my computer, and without even leaving the room I can point to numerous connections. The vanilla body spray my grandmother gave me for Christmas last year. The Eric Clapton Unplugged CD that always makes me think of the night the guy I was dating at the time and I saw Clapton in concert doing blues - it was the start of an enjoyment of the blues for me... The journal that same boyfriend gave me when we broke up to help sort through where we went wrong. (Believe it or not, I never wrote a single word in it, but that's a tale for another blogging) . And there's the less obvious ones - the French-English dictionary I bought long ago because I loved my high school French teacher and that's the one she recommended...the shotglass collection inspired by my aunt...

There's a connection there to someone or something gone by...a situation or person you may not have thought of in a long time, but if you stop and ponder a moment, it's there. The people with whom you've come in contact with have influenced your life whether they know it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not. You have done the same to other people, whether they've told you so or not, whether they even know it themselves or not.

Rather impressive, and at the same time rather daunting, eh?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Another Reason not to mix Work and Blog....

Disturbing. Absolutely disturbing. On many levels.


PITTSBURGH (AP) - Is it right for a company to take an employee to court to learn his online identity -- then fire the person once the company finds out? That's the basis of a lawsuit filed by a utility worker who used a racial slur on a Yahoo! message board. Clifton Swiger claims Allegheny Energy and a law firm working for it filed suit against a "John Doe" to get Yahoo to give up his identity so the company could retaliate against him. Swiger claims the utility dropped the lawsuit less than a month after it found out who he was and the company also fired him. Swiger's message used a slur for blacks in criticizing the company's diversity policy. A consumer advocacy group that filed the lawsuit on Swiger's behalf says the case is an example of a company trying to silence an employee who had an unpopular message.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Time now for another interactive interlude

Found this on another blog - the Rate Your Life quiz....Here are my results: Looks like I'm smack on average in the over all score, better in some areas, worse in others...

I don't know why I like these quizzes, but I do...

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 6.6
Mind: 6.3
Body: 7.7
Spirit: 6.3
Friends/Family: 4.6
Love: 4.6
Finance: 8.4
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Battery Battle, Part II

I need a nap.

Between work and play and lots of shit going on in my life, I've not been sleeping much lately. Those are stories for another time, but last night, somewhere around 3:30 or 4 am, I finally shook off some of my worries and captured that elusive butterfly known as sleep.

Not for long.

Around 6 am, I started hearing a chirping sound. For a while, it worked itself into my dream...until it got louder and more annoying. I pulled a pillow over my head and tried to sleep through it, but I knew exactly what it was...my smoke alarm.

I'm a conscientious person, and I change the batteries every year when we fall back in the fall. And, it's
not the first time I've had this problem, so I quit fighting it, crawled out of bed, got the ladder, and changed ALL 5 batteries AGAIN!

Silence. Beautiful silence....briefly.

About 8 a-m, the chirping starts again. WTF?

I climbed up on the ladder yet again, checked each battery to make sure they worked. Instead of stopping, the chirping got more frequent. I needed a sanity break - so I made some coffee and sat outside reading the paper.



And it wasn't a bird.

Back inside I went and called the 1-800 number for help. They suggested that I take them down, clean them, and if that didn't work, to buy new batteries. A half hour later, I think I had the cleanest smoke detectors this side of a vacuum-pack, and still the chirp-chirp-chirping at my bedroom door....Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

Oh...sorry... a bit distracted there. Back to the story.

So out I went, to buy batteries, but when I tried those, they didn't stop it either. So I called the help desk again. After an hour on the phone with customer support and more moving of my ladder than I've done since the day I hung the pictures in my house, I have five brand new smoke detectors coming to me.

So much for all the cleaning I wanted to get done today...I'll be happy with some rest!