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Category Archives: Future Tom Grab Bag

The Opposite of Sports

quidditchSure, but suppose you don’t give a shit about sports. Not in a mean or arrogant way, you just don’t.

You don’t watch the games or the analytical talk shows and you don’t even know who the giant guys in suits on the shows are. You walk into a bar and it’s packed and you’re puzzled. Is it the 4th of July? St. Patrick’s Day? Was school cancelled for tomorrow and these are all a bunch of hammered teachers? Where did all these people come from?

And it turns out they’re all there to watch some kind of sports thing you’re supposed to know about. You can’t shake the feeling that a solid chunk of these people have to be pretending to care about the total strangers playing the weird game between commercials on thirty-five screens, but you can’t find any of them. These very, very similarly-dressed people definitely care.

Then you get on Pencilstorm and that’s what they’re talking about – sports. And it’s not like an average room where you can simply agree with the largest male about whatever he says with regards to sports and everyone will accept you. It’s writing.

People are going to be able to re-read and figure out that you’re just sitting here, not blogging while the other guys blog. You can’t nod your head through an entire blog post. And guess how long sports go on? Forever.

Normally what I do is I act like a smug prick about it. I’ll refer to your favorite team as “your favorite group of total strangers,” tell theatrical stories about not knowing about the sports you’re so excited about. Blog about it while you’re watching sports.

And you know, it’s not so much that people don’t like that, it’s more that they don’t care because you’re not sports. You just pop out of their minds like soap bubbles.

And then what you’re left with is people who don’t care for sports, but who like smug pricks. That’s a pretty narrow market.

SlothSo I went on over to Pencil Storm to try and gain their trust, thinking maybe I could get them to teach me about sports. I remembered how Princess Leia gave that Ewok a cracker, and how Elliot gave E.T. some Reese’s Pieces, and how the Goonies gave Sloth a candy bar. I thought, well they were all trying to gain trust, I’ll try that. And it went great at first, but when I ran out of candy and crackers, Johnny DiLoretto bit me and Brian Phillips threw his beer across the room and Colin made us all take naps.

I remember lying there in my new Pencil Storm Cubby having my time-out and thinking, remember when The Dark Knight made about $158 million on its opening weekend? Pretty cool compared to the second place movie  – Mamma Mia – which made almost $28 million. Still, that seems like a lot of money for Mamma  Mia, and the reason it did so well seemed simple.

Mamma Mia is the opposite of The Dark Knight. It was a good move releasing it against The Dark Knight, because everyone who wasn’t jacked about seeing The Dark Knight was really keen to strap on a pantsuit and drink in Mamma Mia.

So that was really the question I needed to ask the walls of my cubby – What is the opposite of Sports?

And in a serene moment with really mystical pipes and flutes playing, I suddenly knew. Downton Abbey. The very opposite of sports.

So I spent about six hundred words explaining that at the beginning of my Pencil Storm post, and then Hassler came stomping around, making Charlie Brown teacher noises about how four thousand words was too long for a blog post. He turned out to have a machete down his left pants leg, yanked it out and chopped the first third of the way-too-long blog post off, and so now you’re getting it reheated for your supper, blogosphere. Cause Tommy C. doesn’t feel like cooking.

The rest of the Downton Abbey post is right here.

This is me by the way when I still had some cookies, trying to get them to teach me about sports and microwave ovens and digital alarm clocks. Great bunch of dudes til the cookies run out.

Tell Me More

 

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Action Blogging, Volume One

Well, I don’t have much time today, I’m very busy and important, so you’ll just have to hop in my pocket and run around with me all day while I do the stuff I do.

Which means you’re up at six and we’re riding around in heavy traffic for two hours in a stony silence, because I can’t blog while I’m driving. Then it’s off to the park, where we run for two and a half very slow miles. So slow that at one point we pass a power walker long enough to have a brief conversation. Probably could have switched jackets.

But its cool, keep lurching. Finally it’s over and then again, no blogging in the bathroom so you’ll have to sit downstairs on the couch and then another short drive and I get to my building, and I find this going on:

Machine TwoIt’s strange. I have a lovely building and the staff is amazing. I have no complaints except sometimes the executives who own the place scuttle around in groups of six or eight, and they flat creep me out. Not because they all feel like they have to wear suits (which they don’t, it’s 2013), but more because I think they might be shapeshifting reptiles masquerading as humans. I have no concrete evidence, just the general vibe I was getting the other day when a bunch of them showed up in the sandwich shop and stood there watching me eat a bowl of chili.

But here’s the strange part. I have seen two types of window washers here at the Building I’m Not Going To Name. We’ll call this one Type A. The other kind is just a dude who sits on a board with a bucket and a squeegee and lowers himself down one story at a time from the roof. A time-traveling window washer from 1940. And it’s not like they got rid of him and then brought in this other guy with his gargantuan cherry picker. It’s more like they alternate. I’ve seen them both repeatedly, but never together.

I really wanted to ask the guy up in the cherry picker how they decided when to call him and when to call the guy with the board and the bucket. Does he know the guy with the board and the bucket?

Make a mental note, will you blogosphere? I need to remember to take that guy’s picture the next time I see him, and ask him if he’s just old school or what. He certainly does seem tougher than the man up there. Why does one get a 15-ton machine and one gets a rope and pulley?

Window Washer

So let’s go on over to his cherry picker, see if we can get him down here. But no, sadly, none of the buttons work and the brakes are on. I guess they make these things so that you drive them from up there, that way you only need one guy, and that way no one like me can stroll up while you are washing windows on the sixth floor, and drive you around the building to my window, go back up to my office, and then start asking you questions through the glass using paper and a Sharpee.

Clever bastards.

Oops, there’s security. Let’s go on upstairs and drink some coffee and Facebook for a while, make a few copies of stuff. Then back to the car and we’re headed out to the Licking County Courthouse where we have to walk into one office, hand them a piece of paper for them to stamp, and then walk into another office and have them stamp it, and then walk into another office and leave it with someone else. A monkey with a sign around his neck could do what we are about to do, but you can’t FedEx it in – someone has to walk it from room to room.

I’m their huckleberry. I love walking from room to room. Pretty soon we’re done and we are startled by this statue out front.

Statue One

First of all, I think it’s a pretty cool statue. It looks like real people, and that’s how I like my statues. It appears to be a little girl who is upset, and a nice gentleman trying to console her.

But look closer.

Statue Two

That’s a statue candy bar in the man’s statue hand. Does the little girl know this man? Or is this a statue of a little girl accepting candy from a stranger? We are getting a little bit creeped out by the statue, aren’t we?

Seems like I’ve seen these two before and the little girl’s outfit and her blankey weren’t painted last time. That’s a weird decision, out of the blue – Someone get out there and paint that freaky little kid statue’s outfit and her blankey.

All right now let’s take notice that people are frowning at us for examining the statues for too long. We’re just looking at them, dudes, that’s what they’re out here for, right? You guys painted them, some of you must have been looking at them. Do any of you clowns know where this girl’s statue mom is, I don’t like this guy. Dad Alert going haywire.

Yep, and there’s the crazy look, we get that a lot. Let’s just go ahead and hop back in the car and skedaddle.

 

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The Once And Future Tom

“That’s a damn shame,” says the detective, kicking the blogger’s foot with his hands in his pockets.  “He only had one more blog post til he could retire.”

“Same old story,” says an inexplicably superhot lab tech chickaroo, snapping gloves over her hands.  “These guys go out onto the blogosphere like it’s a playground or a daisy farm or something.  Start screwing around on the social networking sites, fall in with the wrong crowds…”

“Pretty soon their brains explode,” the detective agrees.  “They just get so…”

“Full of themselves,” the tech finishes for him, checking the blogger’s teeth for some reason, frowning in there with a flashlight.  “BLAM!  Like a beer in the freezer.”

“They never learn.  He got any ID on him?”

“Yeah,” the tech says, fishing something out of the dead blogger’s coat.  “Name’s Future Tom.”

And then the detective turns toward the camera and it turns out he’s really a bear, and he goes “ROOOAAAAAARRRRRR!!!”

Spang snaps up straight in bed, gasping and drenched in sweat.  His wife splits the air next to him with her remarkably strident flatulence, and mutters, “Christmas trees,” three times in a row, while Spang sputters and searches the room, patting himself down for his wallet or something. 

“What a terrible dream,” he says, fanning the air in front of him.  “I think I was a bear in that one.  A bear detective.”

His wife has a name, but nobody knows it.  Probably Veronica or something.  She waits five or six theatrical seconds just so he doesn’t start thinking it’s Time to Chat or anything, and then points out, “That sounds like an awesome dream, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“And Future Tom’s head had exploded from overblogging.”

“Well, as the philosphers tell us,” she mumbles to the pillow, “life is fleeting and we’re all circling the drain anyway.  He had a good run.”

“No, that was no normal dream.  I think something’s wrong, Veronica,” Spang tells her, narrowing his eyes and then turning for some reason away from her, where perhaps a camera might be if this were a movie. Then after doing that for a few solid, pointless seconds, he snags his laptop and pulls up Facebook.  Starts poking around.

“He’s not here,” he says finally.  “Future Tom’s not on Facebook.”

And Spang’s flatulent wife Veronica bolts upright, her expression gone wide-eyed and white.  “Oh.  My.  God.”

I guess Spang gets a little shut eye at that point and also loses interest in the phone, because the next thing we know, he’s over at Future Tom’s house, knocking on the front door.  Mrs. Future Tom answers wearing a flannel bathrobe, a pair of lit cigarettes hanging from her lips, a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a shotgun in the other.

“You from the bank you sumbitch?”  She mumbles.  “I’ll kill you.  I’ll kill you all.”

Spang stands there and blinks at her and she blinks back, then she closes one eye and really gets a look at him and then says, “Oh, howdy Spang.  I thought you was about six guys in suits from the credit union.  You want some biscuits and mustard?”

“No, ma’am,” Spang tells her.  “Just looking for Future Tom.  I had a horrible dream that I was a bear detective and he was like dead or something, and it was really tragically ironic because you know, he’s only got one more blog post before the year’s up.”

Mrs. Future Tom says, “How’s that now?  Yer some kind of bear?”

“No, I’m not really a bear.  That was a dream I was talking about, and now I’m talking about his blog.  You know, his blog?”

“…”

“How he puts up eight hundred words a day, and, like, blogs it.  Up on the Internet.”  Spang makes some typy-typy motions in the air in front of him.  “Facebook?  You know.”

“What with the what now?”

“All right, damn it.  Where’s your husband, ma’am?”

“I ain’t seen that motherscratcher since yesterday morning.  He’s probably off gambling away my butter-n-egg money, since that’s all he ever does.  Betting on them ponies and puppy dogs.”

“I see.”

“The puppy dogs race, mind you, they don’t fight each other.  Except Wednesdays.  Wednesday’s Dog Fight Night.”

“Sure.”

“It ain’t as bad as it sounds though.  Sometimes they let the horsies fight too, and shooooo-wwweeee.  They can fight, yes sir.  Ain’t nothing like a game of Horsie Versus Puppy Dog.”

“I see.”

“Here’s a few addresses where he might be,” she adds, and really helpfully has them written down already, which makes the scene end that much faster, really streamlines it, you know?

Spang jumps in his Ferrari, slams in the Magnum, P.I. soundtrack, and hits the gas.

Meanwhile, across the planet, the impending end of The Curse of Future Tom is ripping the fabric of society apart – turmoil in the Middle East, the shutdown of the federal government, people pointing cameras at Donald Trump and turning the sound on.  Pandemonium.  

A weeping species shakes their desperate fists at the sky and laments Why has Future Tom forsaken us?  Were the Mayans right and also off by about seventeen months or so, and also were they talking about a blog instead of the whole world for some reason?  All the pieces seem to fit.

“I don’t know,” Future Tom tells the bartender.  “I guess I just felt kind of like blowing it off today, you know?  I figured, screw it, 364 days is pretty good, no reason to showboat, right?”

The bartender is one of those old-fashioned types who wears an apron and keeps a ball bat back there and is always wiping stuff off.  He says, “You’re the boss, Apple Sauce.”

“Guess I just bit off more than I could chew, you know?  Couldn’t quite make it – close, but a man mustn’t push himself too hard, not to any ridiculous extreme.  That’s just too.  Much.  Blogging.  Eff it, right?””

“I know when I bite off too much a something,” agrees the bartender.  “I spit it out into a beer mug and give it to my cat, rinse it off good and forget about it.  I like to put my boot prints on the butt cheeks of the past, every single time I see that peckerwood.”

Glug, glug.  Future Tom smacks his lips and says, “Ahhhh.  That’s a tasty beer.  Say, Schmitty, you know where a fella could scare up a game of dice?”

And that’s when I walk in, pushing through the saloon doors, because I guess it’s sort of an Old West kind of joint for whatever reason.  Mainly cause I wanted to push through doors like that.

“Future Tom,” I tell him.  “I think it’s time you and I had another talk.”

And Future Tom stiffens in his stool – he’s always known this day would come – and then he turns and says, “You.”

I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say we reach an understanding at last, Future Tom and I.  Sure there’s a brawl, and yes, it goes on for several hours, like that fight in They Live over whether or not the black dude should put the sunglasses on.  Because Me and Future Tom are pretty evenly matched – that’s the sort of Kirk Vs. Kirk fight that could go on for eternity, except we fight like girls and yelp the whole time.

Thankfully, Spang bursts in and breaks it up, and then we all take our beers out onto the patio, where we hash out our feelings and concerns.  Future Tom seems to have some kind of issue with how much work I dropped in his lap last year, whereas I am much more concerned with what a crybaby princess boy he is, and how much he always complains.

We get it worked out, and then have a good, Sensitive Eighties Man cry about it, and then we’re squaresville.  I agree to give Future Tom two weeks off, and he agrees to completely, digitally shut the hell up for the entire time.

“You can have as much whisky and books as you want,” I tell him.

“Word,” he agrees.

Then we all kind of sit there, nodding and getting a little bored.  I tell Future Tom he’s writing a book when he gets back from his hiatus, a complete novel and he’s got three months to produce a final draft, and he just shrugs.  “Okay.”

After a while Spang says, “You know, I think I would have closed with the sort of allegorical one, you know, about running?  Seems more like a statement than whatever this is.”

“Totally agree,” says Future Tom.  “You’re dumb like that sometimes, Tommy C.”

“This,” Spang gestures around us at the cowboy patio bar we’re sitting around on, with our beers.  “This is just like you don’t want to stop typing.  Like the whole thing’s over and you’re just being stubborn and clingy about it.”

“Generation X dudes were ruined by Stand By Me,” Future Tom observes.  “You guys both look like you’re going to cry.”

Then he gets up and excuses himself briskly.  “Got something in my eye.”

Well, that’s plenty of that.  “I’ll tell you who the reader is that I’m going to miss most of all.”

And I put out my forefinger and swing it around until it’s pointing out your monitor, right at you.

“You are,” I tell you – and yes, I’m talking to you.

Isn’t that nice?

All right then, party’s over.  Everybody’s welcome to crash here but stay out of my ice cream and NO PAY PER VIEW.  Old Tommy C.’s going to get some shut-eye.

Peace.  (Thump.)

 
 

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The War On Ash Wednesday

Here we go again.  Have you noticed how retailers are trying to pander to radical Muslims, communists, Scientologists, and armies of bare-knuckled Buddhist monks, by refusing to hang up signs today which clearly read “HAPPY ASH WEDNESDAY AND NOTHING ELSE?”

It’s war, I’m telling you.  This country was founded by Native Americans who crossed the Iberian Straits or something, and never ever heard of anything Christian, and then Christians showed up and steamrolled over them fair and square.  We even put up a bunch of signs and roped off really nice reservations in the wastelands, and then whenever we brought in slaves from other countries, we gave them Bibles. 

Christian as all get out, yes sir.  And we printed money – what’s it say on it again?  In God We Trust? 

That’s right, so that trumps the Constitution and the First Amendment – BOOM!   

Sure, for appearances sake, we were all like, hey, all religions are “welcome,” and not everyone caught the air quotes, and the boat rides were pretty long, so fine.  It was a big country, we weren’t going to be total jerks about it, and lots of the non-Christian crowd had cash or they were willing to work a lot.   

But that didn’t mean it wasn’t Christian Land.  So the whole month of December, nobody say anything except Merry Christmas.  And on Ash Wednesday, that’s all you’re supposed to say as well.

Ash Wednesday.  The beginning of Lent.  That wonderful time of the year when magic is afoot, and America’s drive-thru windows dance and sparkle with the Golden Fruits of the Seven Seas, on bread.

The Fifth Season some folks call it.  For others, it’s the Season of the Fish.

And for others still, it’s got some sort of religious significance. 

But what exactly is Ash Wednesday?

I don’t know, man.  I got a lot of browser windows open right now or I’d google it.  It means lots of things to lots of people, and there’s no wrong way to think about it (as is my understanding). 

Like to me, for instance, it has always commemorated the day Ash freed a group of medieval screwjobs (who were in North America for some reason, unless that time warp was a Continent Warp, too), from the horrible, oppressive Deadites.  And so Lent begins, where we all give something up, the way Ash had to give up his hand and put a chainsaw on it instead.

Religious studies are REALLY complicated – I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Unless you’re in a church.  I’ll tell you what, last year at this time I went to pick my daughter up from some church group thing she was at with her friend.  I had no idea it was Ash Wednesday, because the retailers, as I said, were acting like a bunch of commie bastards and they weren’t having Ash Wednesday sales.

All the signs said “Hump Day” or “Ladies Night” or “Ten Dollars Unlimited Bowling til 5pm!”  There might have been Ash Wednesday signs at places which weren’t bars or bowling alleys, but how would I know?  Nobody ever calls me up and tells me anything.

So I go walking into this church to get my daughter, and I’m afraid I don’t know much about churches.  All I know is what my old man taught me, which was leave your wallet in the car.  So I walked in and it was one of these huge churches, with a snack bar and offices and gymnasiums and all that.

And I started seeing people walking down hallways with smudges on their foreheads.  The first guy, I just thought, heh – he’s got something on his face.  Then a few more and I thought, huh.  That’s weird.

Then I blarneyed into the Main Church Area, where they heal people and sing songs and rip people’s hearts out like in Temple of Doom, or whatever they do in there – all I know is I had to clap my hand to my face to keep myself from screaming.

There were about eight hundred people in the room with little black smudges on their foreheads, acting like that was perfectly normal.  It was a lot like they were all carrying Body Snatcher pods, and I kept expecting one of them to point at my clean forehead, his jaws yawning open almost folding his whole head in half.  Seeing.  Judging.  Pointing.  Screeching.

I reached for my back-mounted shotgun, but I had never owned one of those.  That was in Fallout 3.  Damn it.

So instead I just cruised along, nodding at people, flashing the Vulcan Live Long And Prosper signal around, smiling, winking.  And when I spotted my daughter I grabbed her and threw a chair through a window and ran out into the rain.

Then it turned out it was just Ash Wednesday, and that means everybody gets an ash smudge on their forehead.  Oh, I said.  Well, that’s not cult-like.  Not even a little bit.

Anyway, I forget why I wanted to tell you all that.  I guess it’s to let you know that the results of the Future Tom Fish Sandwich Roundup are in, and can you believe Arby’s won?  Their fish sandwich is fantastic.  Sure, you can go to Wendy’s and get a pretty decent one, too.  Have fun spending fourteen bucks on it.

And what’s with their new “natural cut” fries?  What did they use lasers before and now they’re back to knives? 

Life’s full of mysteries, isn’t it?  God Bless America.

Sigh. 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Future Tom Grab Bag

 

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The Nostradamus/Inspector Gadget Effect

Every time I read or see something Nostradamus predicted, it’s so vague I can’t believe someone is spending five seconds saying or typing it. 

There will be a great war, and an evil man, and then a big thing will crash! 

Sitting way back there in history, where you know, not much has happened yet, so if you don’t nail down a timeline, then pretty much anything you say is going to be true eventually.  I mean, I don’t care what year it is, there’s always going to be a Most Evil Guy In The World somewhere, and once in a while, he’s going to get some really evil stuff done.  And predicting future wars is like predicting future sunrises – might impress a two year-old, but not me.

Here’s my big prediction:  There will be a big spaceship crash in the next four hundred years.  And an earthquake in a great city by the sea.  A king will be cast down by his army!   

Look at me, I’m Nostradamus!

No, if I want impressed with predictions, I don’t have to look any further than Inspector Gadget, the cartoon I used to watch when I got home from school in the sixth grade. 

At the time – and if you don’t know, you’ll just be absolutely shocked – I was a serious nerd.   I know, it hardly makes sense.  You were probably thinking, quarterback or pitcher or a smooth-talking guitar guy.  But it’s not true.  In the sixth grade, I’ll bet I weighed about sixty-five pounds, and I was constructed entirely out of overcooked noodles and bailing twine.  That was about the right color scheme, too.  And I had glasses like an animated owl costume, and I dressed either in clothing that looked stapled together, or clothing that looked like a Tron tee shirt, because it was. 

And you’re probably thinking, but you were saved, right Tom, by your extensive mid-eighties knowledge of Atari computers?  And I’m sorry, but no.  No, that’s not correct.

But it was thanks to my computer knowledge that I first began to really vent at school about how unrealistic Inspector Gadget was.  Spotting the subtle flaws in the show was really something you needed a trained eye for.  Most people just looked at the show and thought, well, if that wasn’t real espionage equipment then they couldn’t put it on television.

I was particularly enraged by Penny, Inspector Gadget’s niece, and her computer book.

It was preposterous.  It was the size of a small tablet, it had more memory than every encyclopedia in the world put together, and most ridiculous of all, it could exchange information with other computer systems even though it wasn’t plugged into them!  

Total crap, I’d tell the frowning girl next to me on the bus, and she’d frown some more.

And now here I am, typing on Penny’s computer book.  And sure, that’s about all I know how to do with it, but if you put it in the right person’s hands, he could probably crash some stuff with it.  Get into Dr. Claw’s fortress, etc.

Penny used computer viruses back then.  How could she have used computer viruses?  Doesn’t that make you feel like screaming so hard you have to hold your face onto your skull?

Nostradamus and countless others have tried to predict the future, and no one got it right except for Inspector Gadget. 

Marty McFly told me there’d be flying cars and flying skateboards, and there aren’t.  In fact, not much flies at all that didn’t already fly in 1985. 

Star Trek said we’d unify the human race, achieve world peace.  Sure, we’re still a hundred years behind Star Trek, but it doesn’t really feel to me that we’re on track to hit that one, either.  That’s not the planetary vibe I’m picking up, dude.

The Terminator said the machines would rise, and then for some reason build other giant machines with robot motorcycles coming out of their feet to hunt us down – not a one.    

Mad Max said there’d be a nuclear war, and here I am with a totally useless wrist-mounted crossbow.   Did you know you can get pulled over for that?

 And George Orwell said that there’d be cameras everywhere and…

Well okay, George Orwell and Inspector Gadget.  But Orwell was warning us, and instead we’re all having a party about it.  We don’t want to live in a world where there aren’t cameras pointing at us all the time.  I always wondered, reading 1984, how would the evil, oppressive government get the cameras in our houses?  Now I see – we’ll buy them.

I am aware that the anthropomorphic dog from Inspector Gadget does not appear to have materialized, but I’m just going to give them that one.  It was hard to make a cartoon back then, for some reason, without a dog who wore clothes and drove cars.  They had to shake a moneymaker, you know, to get their prophetic message out there.  It was a means to an end.

Because the other thing that is coming, is cybernetics, and that’s what Inspector Gadget was, a cyborg.  It makes you wonder who Penny’s mom was, and why it was okay to drop her off with the weird, cyborg uncle for weeks at a time. 

We don’t know how close the government is to achieving work on the level of extendable robot arms, and a hat that has a helicopter folded up in it, but I’ve read some defense budget stuff, and you can bet your ass they’re working on it.

That’s all I got for you today, folks, my laptop reminds me of Inspector Gadget, and Nostradamus was on the grift.  This isn’t as easy as it looks, you know.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Future Tom Grab Bag

 

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Facebook Is The New HAL

All that’s missing is actual, spoken conversation, and that’s coming.  That’s got to be next.  Facebook’s going to start talking to us with a voice, and we’re going to use our voices to talk back. 

That’s sort of what they’re working on with the Jeopardy computer – it’s not about who knows the most trivia.  That would be absurd since you could load most of human knowledge into the computer.  It’s more like can a computer figure out what the hell Alex Trebek is talking about quicker than the human can click the buzzer.

They’re working on the smoothest possible communication with computers.  Old-fashioned talking.  Once they have it down, we’ll all use it for a while.  Just like we all walked around with those clip phones in our ears for about a year – remember that?

I’ll bet you’ll be able to make Facebook sound like whoever you want it to sound like, when it can finally talk to you.  And I’ll bet that sounds cool to you, until you realize that other people can make Facebook sound like you. 

If you were thinking about making Facebook sound like your favorite actor, but then you were creeped out by the idea of someone else’s Facebook sounding like you, then you were just planning to creep out your favorite actor.  What’s wrong with you?

They’ll probably try to regulate that, but they’ll fail.  My Future Facebook is going to sound like Kermit the Frog, because nobody could possibly find that creepy, and it would never, ever get old.

But right now, when Facebook talks to me using words on a screen, it’s HAL’s voice in my brain – and Facebook talks to me a lot.

Kind of follows me around when I first walk into the building, pacing me perfectly, letting me know what’s going on. 

Steve Spangler commented on your status, Tom.  Seven people like your status, by the way.  And Bill Vaughn likes your link.

But Facebook, like HAL, is disembodied.  Maybe in the future, it really will be a hologram that follows you around, but for now we’re stuck in our screens, and Facebook never leaves us, never runs out of suggestions.

You know who you should be friends with, Tom?  Mitch McCormick.

“Really.  Why is that, Facebook?”

Well, you have eleven friends in common.  You’d probably like each other since you like eleven of the same people.

“Okay, I’m looking at him.  That’s some dude doesn’t even ring a bell, no idea who he is.  You want me to ask some random strange dude, hey man, you want to be my friend?”

You don’t have toYou can just click the little X.

“I know, Facebook.”

I was only trying to help.

“All right!”

It turns out Facebook is not a terribly good judge of that sort of thing.  Like HAL or Data, Facebook can interact with humans, but Facebook can’t seem to really get in our shoes and see things from our perspective. 

Sometimes I get a few drinks in me and I do whatever Facebook says – remember that time I woke up and I had joined the NAACP, the NRA, the petition to make that one southern school let the lesbian couple go to Prom (even though Prom was over by then), and the Mister Peanut page?  Those were just the highlights, maybe seventeen others? Shooooo-weee!

I don’t know how much of that was Facebook and how much of it was me, but it was a good night, and Facebook was right there for me in the morning. 

You have twelve notifications, Tom.  Thank you, Facebook.

Facebook definitely gets a little creepy, too, the way it talks to me. 

Tom are you sure you want to poke your friend Trisha?  It’s kind of a big deal, and there’s no way around it – I’m going to have to tell her you’re poking her.  She’ll know it was you.

“Yes, Facebook, just poke my sister’s wacky pal Trisha, will you please?”

It’s kind of rude to poke people when they’re minding their own business.  I don’t even know why I have a button for it.  Let’s just leave her alone.

“Poke as instructed, Facebook.”

All right, Tom.  You’re the boss, Apple Sauce.

Shut up, Facebook.

And of course all that got me thinking about how HAL went all nuts and decided to kill everybody.  We’re way ahead of 2001: A Space Odyssey in that regard, in that we don’t give Facebook access to things like our air supplies or our power steering.  We’re of course assuming Facebook’s not a hacker, or yes, eventually Facebook could get access to both of those things.

But even in its current state, if Facebook wanted to screw with you, Facebook could screw with you pretty badly.  For example, if Facebook has suggestions and opinions about who you ought to be friends with, you have to imagine that on some level, Facebook is kind of frowning at a few of your current friends, thinking maybe they need to go.

Facebook could socially remove practically anyone from your life in a single night.  Just run around jumping on everyone’s threads in your name, dropping N-Bombs, claiming to love Fox News, Insisting Obama’s not a citizen, insisting he is, denouncing people who like Skittles, anything. 

Do yourself a favor and keep an eye on Facebook.  Facebook thinks it’s a little too smart for its own good.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Celebrities, Future Tom Grab Bag

 

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The Valentine’s Day/Venereal Disease Switcharoo

Well, they have the same initials and lots of people hate them both equally, but you’re right – there’s nothing funny about either of those things and it’s in poor taste to joke about them.  But screw it, right?  What is this, a daisy farm?

No, it’s a hard-as-nails, grittily realistic blog and the fact is, both kinds of VD can go hand in hand.  For example, one of them is the perfect day to apologize for giving someone the other one.  You’re welcome, big fella – that one’s on the house.  

Now, what I’m thinking is that I can help you out if you are one of those people who hates Valentine’s Day, with a simple exercise which you might be familiar with from The Brady Bunch or other seventies television shows.  Remember how Marsha Brady was nervous about taking her driver’s test, especially because Greg Brady said boys were better drivers than girls?  And how Mike Brady told her to simply imagine her driving instructor in his underwear?

Well first of all, I don’t recommend that as a good strategy for raising teenage girls.  As you can see, Marsha’s a little bit freaked out by her old, gross, male driving instructor.  I can’t see how that helped her at all. 

But, what do I know?  It worked on countless sitcoms, and what I am proposing is even easier. 

If someone is referencing Valentine’s Day in any way at all, even just by receiving flowers for it and smiling too much, then replace “Valentine’s Day” in your mind with “venereal disease.”

Trust me, synaptic pathways are organized alphabetically, by the initials of the concepts they represent.  It’ll be a snap.

For instance, that smiling girl at the front desk in your office is glowing with joy because her man just sent her Venereal Disease Flowers.  Nothing says Sorry About The Clap quite like flowers, yes?

Especially those people who really show off at Valentine’s Day, like sometimes Lexus commercials will suggest that you buy your wife a freaking Lexus for Valentine’s Day.  If anyone you know gets a Lexus for Valentine’s Day, then the VD Switcharoo will come in especially handy.

“I love Venereal Disease – my husband got me a Lexus this year!”

It’s like, damn – this year?  How often does the guy go to Vegas and don’t you think he should take a little more money – or possibly you – with him from now on?

I’d knock out a VD Switcharoo app for you to download if I knew how to write code at all and if I knew exactly, precisely what an app is.  The app could for instance alter every Facebook and Twitter post in your feed and remove the words “Valentine’s Day” and replace them with the far more hilarious “Venereal Disease.”

Consider the following Facebook post, altered slightly for my purposes, but representative of Super Happy Valentine’s Day Posts everywhere:

“I know that some people have a really negative view of Venereal Disease because they are in the sorts of relationships where all it means are obligations and consumerism.  Or  because they don’t have anyone to share it with.  But I’m wishing you a Happy Venereal Disease anyway, because I’m enjoying mine so much and it makes me think of you.  I am so thankful to my husband for a wonderful Venereal Disease!  Repost if your husband gave you a great Venereal Disease this year!”

See how you’re a LOT less interested in strangling this person now?  That’s because of the app I didn’t write and wouldn’t know how to.  You’ll have to use your mighty imagination to swap the words out yourself, but I know you can do it.  And you can bet your ass that far more than 93% of people will not repost that, either.

Now, as a word of caution – if you’re in a relationship with someone to whom Valentine’s Day actually means something, someone who takes this crazy ass Hallmark Holiday seriously, then you might want to think long and hard about the value you would place on your relationship with them, because not quite everybody in the world is amused by Venereal Disease jokes.  I know, it hardly makes sense, but different strokes for different folks, right?

So anyway, in that case, you’ll have to be extra sneaky.  Just say it correctly, while deep down in your heart meaning the gross one, but go ahead and allow the person to whom you are speaking continue to believe that you are talking about the sacred corporate greeting card holiday.  Heh.  Don’t you feel more hilarious already?

With your pals you can do it more directly, using the abbreviation.  “Whattup, Mitch, Happy VD.”  Then walk away snickering when he says thanks.

Or when someone asks you, say, what do you two normally do for Valentine’s Day?  You can just say, “Well, there are ointments and medications but we try to regulate the outbreaks using diet and exercise.  It’s a more holistic approach and it is what Tom Cruise would say, but it still works.” 

If they haven’t walked away frowning yet, go ahead and start helpfully removing your pants.

By the way, do you remember that commercial for Valtrex, where they warn you that in 70% of cases, herpes is transmitted to a partner even though there were no visible signs of outbreak?  And did you ever think, damn, that means 30% of the time, folks are having sex with their partners even though there is a visible sign of a herpes outbreak?  WTF is wrong with people?

Now, listen.  This part’s really important.  A lot of people celebrate Valentine’s Day with their children, and they give them little hearts full of chocolate, etc.  You need to understand that the Hilarity Factor is decreased by approximately seven trillion percent when you are talking to your kids.  Not even a skilled samurai comic expert could elicit humor out of a venereal disease joke directed at children.  That’s how cops and social workers show up at your door.

And no one’s going to give any credence to the theory that Future Tom so effectively blogged about the VD Hilarity System that it rendered you powerless to use it properly.  Take responsibility for yourself, all right?

Go ahead and use the Switcharoo, but like guns and vodka and trips to Vegas, you have to use it responsibly.  Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

In conclusion, Happy VD, Blogosphere, and I do apologize.  But I’m afraid you already read it – there’s no way you can unread it.

 

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