Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bacon Jerks: Now You Need An APP?

I am SICK of bacon, and people talking about it.  Every now and then -- meaning all the time-- the Internet decides it loves something so much that it simply has to vomit it back all over the rest of us.  USUALLY this only lasts a month or two, but sometimes it goes on longer: Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead, what's-her-name from the Hunger Games, the one who talks about poop? And NOTHING has shown more staying power than $($#&% bacon.

BACON JERKS exists, NOW, to make fun of those people, and the newest BACON JERK THING is "Oscar Mayer's Dating App For Bacon Lovers," called of course because people who think bacon is funny have no actual sense of humor, "Sizzl."

I learned about this on Huffpo, which is every bit as clickbaity as BuzzFeed but somehow avoids that reputation. HuffPo describes the basic idea of the app, which just takes your Facebook profile (Facebook is the AOL of the 21st century, mediating the Internet for people who are afraid of the 'wild' internet) and asks you some bacon-related questions.  Then you get to see if you are compatible with other people who like bacon! Wheeeee...?

The author of the Huffpo story says that

Shawn caught my eye, because he likes crispy bacon. I'm a chewy person. Since bacon opposites attract,  
Wait what?

we started chatting right away
She has a screenshot of their "chat"!


"Honestly?" How much courage does it take to say "I like a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich?" 

PLUS, Shawn puts way more effort into describing THE REST OF THE SANDWICH. Hey, Shawn we are about the bacon here so shut up about your lettuce and bread man do you think this app is called Breadlr? 

Look at the author's priceless reaction to Shawn's straight-up absolutely unironic description of the effect of  BLT on his mind: She explodes too! It is a match made in (Bacon) Heaven. 
Throwing caution to the wind, our intrepid writer asks him out:

 ice going, Shawn. "Science bacon." You didn't make me like bacon any better but now I like science a little less. The two went on a date and ate "peanut butter bacon burgers" (gross) and took exactly the kind of annoying pictures you would expect someone so stupid to take:

Now you've helped wreck, just a little, for me, science, Lady & The Tramp, pictures, and the classic Elton John song "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" (which you did via a bacon-related pun that also makes me dislike PUNS a little, and I LOVE PUNS.)

The "news story" which does not declare itself a sponsored post in blatant violation of FTC guidelines, goes on to heartily recommend that you try the App yourself, linking to it several times and including a helpful and totally not sponsored video that I didn't watch because I was worried it would make me punch my laptop.

App reviews on the Itunes store include one sad, sad lonely sad person saying they are "proud of the brand for being willing to do something like this." What is going WRONG IN YOUR LIFE that you feel the need to give props to a BRAND for being willing to PROMOTE ITSELF? "

*sniff* I was never more proud of Coca-Cola than when they unselfishly spent a zillion dollars on that ad campaign. C'mere you! Give us a hug!"

That review gets WAY worse. Here is the whole thing:

You had me at Bacon 

What a fun concept! Proud of the brand for being willing to do something like this!

Just wish the app didn't lag so much. It's caused a lot of sizzl ratings that I didn't intend for it to! Seems to get stuck a lot.

Other than that, I am just hoping to have a story for future grandkids...."well, we met on a bacon dating app. He liked thick cut, and I knew from that he was the one" 😂

There needs to be an It Gets Better for people like Adelmore.  One day, Adelmore, you will tell all your cats the story of the Sizzl(TM) ratings you didn't intend for it to.

Just when I thought there was no hope for humanity ever and was going to go down into the bunker, I read this review:

Best idea ever 

Never thought I would love again after my wife died in a freak fryolator accident. Tried Sizzl and met the bacon lover of my dreams in 5 minutes. We are moving in together next week.

Stristr is my hero.

Friday, September 18, 2015

You've got to read this awesome paragraph from "The Bone Clocks"

It's so great I read it twice:

THE BURIED BISHOP’S a gridlocked scrum, an all-you-can-eat of youth: “Stephen Hawking and the Dalai Lama, right; they posit a unified truth”; short denim skirts, Gap and Next shirts, Kurt Cobain cardigans, black Levi’s; “Did you see that oversexed pig by the loos, undressing me with his eyes?”; that song by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl booms in my diaphragm and knees; “Like, my only charity shop bargains were headlice, scabies, and fleas”; a fug of hairspray, sweat and Lynx, Chanel No. 5, and smoke; well-tended teeth with zero fillings, revealed by the so-so joke—“ Have you heard the news about Schrödinger’s Cat? It died today; wait— it didn’t, did, didn’t, did …”; high-volume discourse on who’s the best Bond; on Gilmour and Waters and Syd; on hyperreality; dollar-pound parity; Sartre, Bart Simpson, Barthes’s myths; “Make mine a double”; George Michael’s stubble; “Like, music expired with the Smiths”; urbane and entitled, for the most part, my peers; their eyes, hopes, and futures all starry; fetal think-tankers, judges, and bankers in statu pupillari; they’re sprung from the loins of the global elite (or they damn well soon will be); power and money, like Pooh Bear and honey, stick fast— I don’t knock it, it’s me; and speaking of loins, “Has anyone told you you look like Demi Moore from Ghost?”; roses are red and violets are blue, I’ve a surplus of butter and Ness is warm toast.

“Hugo? You okay?” Penhaligon’s smile is uncertain.
We’re still logjammed two bodies back from

. The Bone Clocks: A Novel (pp. 109-110).


This is a great book.

Friday Five: Five Things I Use My Phone For WAY MORE Than Just "Calling Someone On The Phone"

Last week Thursday I dropped my phone of 18 months, and that was the final straw: the glass screen shattered in about four places, and I had to get a new phone. (Turns out repairing a phone is almost exactly the same price as a new phone. VIVA AMERICA!)  That required that I spend several days without a phone, which for me was exactly the same as spending several days without one of the more important senses or limbs.  Actually worse: if you took away my hearing, or my legs, for a few days I'd probably be just fine. They close-caption Hulu.

That caused me to reflect on the important things in life, namely, all the stuff I wasn't able to do because I didn't have a phone.  Here are five of them:

1. Take Pictures.  I can remember when pictures were expensive, and rare.  When I was a kid, I got for Xmas one year a "Kodak Disc" camera that was going to revolutionize taking pictures: Easy to load film! No 'advancing' the film manually like a sucker! Only costs $132,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) to develop those 12 pictures!  I went to Washington DC and Morocco back in 1994, and I took about 100 pictures of the entire set of trips. That's 8 months!, some of it spend in a foreign country I will almost certainly never go back to again! That number of pictures probably cost me $300-400, total, by the time it was all done.

By contrast, I have taken over 2,000 pictures... since May. May 2015. I am one of those people everyone complains about, whipping out my camera at every possible opportunity, taking pictures of everything.  (If you complain about that or want to make snarky comments, shut up. Let people enjoy a moment they way they want to, not the way you want to. I'm not bothering anyone.)

I experiment with my camera, taking close-ups of things and trying to get imaginative shots. I take snapshots to remember things. I take photos of funny signs to send to people I know because I think they will be funny to those people, too. I have seriously thought about getting one of those mountable cameras so I could just wear it everywhere and stop the hassle of taking out my phone and opening up the camera, etc.  Who has that kind of time?

2. Find My Way Around.  The other day, I had to go to an office near my own Milwaukee office for a meeting. I used my GPS to get there. I have lived in or around Madison for twenty years and I still use GPS to go almost everywhere.  I take the boys for rides and just head out into the countryside, turning left and then right and then left and then right until we are lost, and then I pull out my phone and GPS us and head home.  (Unless we are out of cellphone range, as we were one Saturday morning, and I had to use dead reckoning the way sailors used to: Head east I kept thinking, literally piloting by the sun's position in the sky.  Too bad my car doesn't have a sextant.)

I have long joked about outsourcing my brain's functions, only it's not a joke.  With calculators I don't need to know how to do logarithms. With online dictionaries, I don't need to remember what a logarithm is. With Google, I don't need to remember hardly anything.  And now, with GPS, I don't need to remember where I live or where the grocery store is.  I can let my brain do important things, like yesterday when I had to go to a doctor's appointment on the other side of town.  I've been there lots, but I always forget exactly which exit I'm supposed to take off the highway, mostly because I have never made even the slightest effort to remember which exit I'm supposed to take. I just put the address into GPS, start my audiobook, and drive along with the friendly GPS lady ("Eisenhower") telling me when and where to turn.

3. Remember Stuff.  I have (had!) these two functions on my phone that would keep lists and notes, and give me reminders. It was an intricate system that would help me keep track of when and how much I exercise, various deadlines and dates for things that we were going to do, all sorts of things.  I have a million different things to keep track of: days when I'm in Milwaukee or Madison, which session of yoga I'm on (I do yoga now!), how much my last weight was, when the library is doing the "read to puppies" day.  I could do grocery lists and have them pop up on my phone on the way home from work so I'd remember to go to the grocery store.  It was wonderful.  Now, I have to recreate them all.

4. BOOKS.  I drive all over the place.  Not only do I drive to Milwaukee about 2x a week (four hours, round trip) but I go to court all over Wisconsin -- sometimes 2, 3 hours away.  I used to, in the Dark Ages, have to listen to the radio, or to CDs, but those are unsatisfactory because they're never talking about what I want to hear about, and I go crazy if I just listen to music for four hours straight.

With my phone, I can download audiobooks and podcasts and have a ready selection of things to listen to at any time. I've listened to more books than I've read this year, plus there are about 10 really awesome podcasts that are way better than anything on the radio.  With a phone, I don't even have to plan ahead.  When I had my big iPod -- it died and they can't be fixed, either, although Apple was going to give me FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS store credit for it. You know what five bucks gets you at an Apple store? Diddly/squat, as Berke Breathed would say.

PLUS, when my old phone went down I was only about 1% into Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, and now by having to wait nearly a week to restart it I've lost precious time trying to figure out (in a very very good way) just what the heck is going on in those books.

5. Playing Plants vs. Zombies, 2:  This is about the only video game that holds my attention anymore and yet isn't too hard to play. Videogames on consoles have a billion different controls, and I don't want to take the time to learn how to play a game like that.  The last time I played one of them was about 70 years ago, when The Boy beat me 70-3 on Madden NFL.  He could duck and twist and stiff-arm and control his passes.  I could move in SEVERAL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, sometimes the actual direction I wanted to go in.

Plants vs Zombies, or 'Zoms,' as Sweetie has nicknamed it, doesn't require a ton of hand-eye coordination, but it's still an action game.  I had only just gotten to the point where I was ready to take on the newest level when my phone died. I redownloaded the game, and have to start all over, which is fine, but I don't all the great plants like the banana and the coconut cannon, I have to replay the stupid Western level, and I had 93 diamonds, which doesn't mean anything to people who don't play but if you do play you're all Whoa man that sucks.  (Diamonds let you get the cool plants without paying. I don't pay for videogames.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

10 Minutes About ("The Bone Clocks" And The Difference Between YA And Other Stuff)

There was a moment the other day when I was reading The Bone Clocks, which has been pretty good so far (one of the books I look forward to reading and which I actually make time for) when I began to suspect that maybe I didn't like it.

It was strange: I began to think, despite the fact that I was enjoying the book, that perhaps this was a Young Adult book rather than, you know, a book.

I am not per se against Young Adult books; I don't really care what you or any other person reads.  This year I've read a lot of comic books, and I'm currently re-reading the book Spellsinger (by Alan Dean Foster), both of which are things that would give my mom conniptions when I was younger. She did judge quality of reading. I don't. Read what you want.  But I don't like Young Adult books.  I've read a few of them here and there, and found them uncompelling and unsatisfying.  The last book that I think could be classified as Young Adult which I read and enjoyed was the Harry Potter series.

Young Adult to me tends to present as a flatter read, less complex characterizations, not as many deep themes and personal insights, and overall more boring.  It doesn't grip me, doesn't engage my mind.  One of the things I like about reading is that it almost completely takes a hold of me.  A good book will absorb me and get me caught up in it, my mind working feverishly in all corners.  That's part of why I read so little these days, actually: I'm so busy and have so many interruptions and am sometimes so worn out at the end of the day, that I can't focus enough to really enjoy a good book, so I go for lighter fair, like Internet reading or TV.

That's part of how I judge a book: how much does it pull my mind into it, how much does it make me think. Not think like I have to decipher this puzzle but simply think like imagine the scene and wonder what happens next and empathize with the characters and so on.  That's part of why I can put up with Stephen King's interminable It: despite the fact that it is MILES too long, it's (mostly, about 85%) very engaging and just sucks you into the story.

Young Adult books do not do that for me.  I'm left sort of reading it while also noting that I'm reading it, and getting distracted by television, or the way my shirt feels, or whether my pumpkin is still growing in the backyard (it is!).  A book like Bridge To Terabithia is a perfectly fine book and I enjoyed it, I suppose, but it's, at its heart, too simple a book to pull me in.

I feel that way sometimes about old TV shows.  One night I found an old Three's Company on TV, and remembered how much I loved that show as a kid.  Watching it again, I was amazed at how slow and simple the plot was, how obvious the jokes and telegraphed the storyline was.  The same thing with Newhart, which I also enjoyed.  These were the Young Adult shows of television, without the wordplay and visual jokes and overlapping storylines of television I've enjoyed as an adult.  Consider the Jerk Store episode of Seinfeld, one of my all-time favorite episodes: It has four storylines, each of which overlaps the other and calls back to earlier episodes and interact with each other, and the jokes range from simple jokes like Kramer getting hit with tennis balls to more complicated, adult-level jokes:

GEORGE: So concerned was he, that word of his poor tennis skills might leak out, he chose to offer you his wife as some sort of medieval sexual payola? 
JERRY: (explanation) He's new around here. 
GEORGE: (hopeful) So, details?
 JERRY: (walking away) Well, I didn't sleep with her. 
 GEORGE: Because of society, right? 
 JERRY: (weary) Yes, George, because of society.
 Young Adult simply doesn't have that complexity, and because of that, I've sometimes decided not to read certain books, at all.  Eleanor & Park, by somebody, was a book that sounded good, so I requested it from the library.  When it came in, the blurb on the back said it was "YA".  I dropped it in the return slot, unread.  I didn't even want to try.

Which seems odd, again, because I am reading Spellsinger, which is about a guy who is transported to another world by a turtle-wizard, and he sings Beach Boys songs to do magic and fight off giant bugs.  His best friend is an otter.  This would seem to be on the same intellectual level as most Young Adult, but somehow it's not -- even though I read this book at 17 or so and enjoyed it.

It's hard to parse out, but the general idea for me is the aim of the book.  To me, Young Adult books aim at presenting a teenage world, and teenagers (on the whole) are less complicated and interesting than adults.  Their needs and thoughts tend to be self-centered, immature: everything is superimportant, even if it's not.  Most of the action is centered on how it affects the main character, which is often a stand-in for the (presumed) reader.  I know not all of it is like this, but most Young Adult books have at least some facets of those.

Adult books expand out the scope.  Even when they are written in first person, they tend to be books about how a person interacts with the world, and not every interaction, thought, or feeling feels like it rebounds back to how does this affect me personally?  This has the effect of making the story feel more universal, and a little deeper.  The actions people take are seen as affecting others directly, with less navel-gazing.

A good example of a book that is not a Young Adult book but feels like one is the His Dark Materials trilogy.  In contrast to Harry Potter, these books really feel grown-up.  Both feature precocious kids thrown into a magical world they didn't really know existed, but whereas Harry Potter dwelt a lot on Harry's own internal struggles to grow up and adapt to the world -- how does this affect me? -- Lyra's adventures involved her leaving her comfortable life to rescue her friend, Roger, and then undertaking even more travels because it was necessary for her to do so.  While Lyra occasionally feels sorry for herself, etc., the difference is marked in how each does things, and why.   Harry Potter faces Voldemort (the T is silent!) more because he feels destined to: Almost everything Harry does is because he is forced into it, rather than because he wants to. His powers remain undeveloped and in the end he 'wins' (Um, spoiler alert?) because of something his parents did.  That's a juvenile perspective: getting yanked around by fate, unwillingly, relying on others to help you through.

Lyra, meanwhile, goes against the advice of her daemon, then opts to reject some adult advice while opting to follow others; she has to pick and choose who to trust and makes those decisions sometimes without consultation. She, too, is a "chosen one" on whom everyone's fate rests, but she is consciously guiding her own role in this play.  That's what adults do.

The Bone Clocks, which is where I started this, was starting to feel like Harry Potter: the main character, Holly, starts out the book by finding out (mild spoiler alert) her boyfriend is cheating on her.  She runs away, and falls in briefly with a strange kid from her school.  By the time I'd gotten that far, as enjoyable as the book was, it was feeling Young Adult-ish.  So I stopped and googled Is The Bone Clocks YA? and learned to my relief that it wasn't.  So I've kept reading it, and hoping that this first part (which is, as I've said, pretty good) is going to grow beyond the limited, self-centered perspective.  There's hints that will happen, so I'll stick with it a bit.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

If you are going to write about writing perhaps you should be RIGHT about the things you are writing about writing.

From an article on Slate talking about why writers sometimes don't catch on, during a discussion of one writer's abilities:

 each of these flawed people is exquisitely drawn, from a man whose infertility triggers a cascade of cranky masculine self-doubt to a teenage girl whose ambition to become a tennis champion gets derailed by an incipient eating disorder. Thomas’ metaphors sing: “What is it about the first sip of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc on a mild spring day? It’s like drinking a field of cold, slightly shivery flowers.”

That is a simile.