Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Candy Crushing Your Dreams and Life Savings

So that facebook game Candy Crush Saga has gotten out of control. In fact this morning, I went to work for a bit and then came home at lunch time and my roommate was still laying in bed, still obsessively trying to beat level 35 of Candy Crush.
Like with all game playing, I've noticed a couple of different stages that build to the dark place of the totally consuming obsession. 
First (once you get past the absurd initial declaration that you will never give in and play this silly game), there's the phase where you are just "trying the game." This is where the danger begins as you start having fun and maybe even some early successes. This is where you begin thinking "I'm so good at this! Finally my life has purpose and I am good at something." You literally begin to value this game as a good judge of your self worth and intelligence. You are a gladiator and this is your battle where you will take down a lion. Everyone is cheering you on.

Next, there is the phase where you are "hitting a wall." This is where all that success and fun comes to a screeching halt when you stop succeeding aka winning. All games are designed to rope you in with early success and then become more challenging. During this phase the distant memory of the rage filled frustration of solving algebra problems on a math test seem like happy memories of easier times. You begin to NEED to solve this level or score on this game. Nothing else in the world matters but this. You are sitting there playing and all of sudden look at a clock and realize it is three in the morning and you never even had dinner. And you now fully understand murderous rage.

Then comes the next phase-"exaltation." The utter bliss of finally having gotten past that road block and moving forward. You ARE awesome! And this game is proving it. You may not have your life together in the conventional sense-sure you pay rent and bills a bit late, you haven't been to a dentist in who knows how many years, and the most meaningful relationship you have is with a cat, but this game is showing that you really are a winner who can make things happen. So you keep playing.

The final phase that envelops you into this sordid life of addiction is a repeat of the "hitting a wall" phase, but now, knowing you got past that first obstacle so triumphantly, you are led by a false confidence that you will be the victor. It's like being in a relationship with a total asshole but sticking around just because his occasional compliment makes you think he'll change. So you continue to play, wasting hours of your life, your hands curled in arthritic claws with the tense excitement of anticipating your move. Time doesn't matter anymore. Nothing matters as much as this game and winning. Days, weeks, months, go by.

If any of this seems familiar, be afraid. 
But I went through all of this so that in relaying a headline of the day, you find yourself relating to it, rather than scoffing about what a moron this guy is. I mean, what happened here is extreme and absolutely stupid and irresponsible, but if you have spent hours of your life obsessively playing any game (or maybe even stopped reading this blog because the mere mention of Candy Crush sent you into the shakes until you started playing it again immediately) you are not too much better than this dude. 
Meet Henry Gribbohm of New Hampshire.

He spent his life savings of $2,600 this weekend at a local carnival playing a carnie game called "Tubs of Fun" while trying to win an XBox 360. (Retail value about $300.00) After spending the first $300 of his money-aka the retail value of the prize itself, he entered into total obsession and went home to get the rest of his life savings in cash which he blew on the game. Gribbohm told the press that he was convinced the game was rigged as he couldn't fathom why he just couldn't get those balls into the tubs. All he got to show for his time and effort was a giant Rasta Banana with dreads. I'm sure his kid will love that toy as much as he would have loved a college education. 

Now before you judge this man and his ill-conceived plot to be a winner too harshly, think to yourself-how long did I spend playing Candy Crush saga today?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Coffee, Tea, Me?

Virgin America airline has added a new in flight feature that makes flying the friendly skies much friendlier. Using the built in monitors on every seat, fliers can browse the passenger map and the airline's food and drink menus, then pick a treat and send it to any passenger on the plane, paying with their credit card. Passengers can also message each other through the monitor-possibly setting up a meeting by the bathroom. Virgin excitedly announced this new in flight flirting system on facebook earlier this week to help passengers get "lucky."
This is ridiculous and yet so intriguing. I do feel a long flight could be made so much more interesting with the addition of flirting-especially this elementary school-like flirting of sending a "do you like me? check yes or no" kind of message.

But all this flirting, winking, online dating, matchmaking....why? Are we desperate? Are we more lonely in this connected age of technology? What ever happened to the romantic chance encounters of the past? Is that something that only existed in Frank Capra films? I don't know. But if some one sends me a cocktail next time I'm flying, I won't turn it down. I just highly doubt it will all lead to a romance. But who knows? At the very least I see a plot for a great rom com here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oh Brother

As everyone looks to heal and have justice delivered, people are also feeling the need to find closure through understanding the unthinkable of why the Tsarnaev brothers bombed the Boston Marathon.
19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has reportedly told the FBI that his 26 year old brother, Tamerlan, was the driving force behind the planning and execution of the attacks as he had become increasingly militant in his interpretation of Islam.
But what made this younger brother follow his older brother's lead so blindly and willingly?
I have a younger brother and when we were kids, I made him do lots of things.
Here is me making my brother dig a hole to China.
I made my brother play with Barbies, I made him keep secrets, I made him dress up and wear make up, I made him do ballet with me, and I made him take the fall out for games gone wrong. But by the time we were teenagers, those days of sibling manipulation were gone. He still loved, respected, and admired me, but he wasn't going to be made my fool. He was his own man-a man that was not wearing a feather boa and pink Tinker Bell lipgloss.
But is it a different sibling dynamic when it is brothers?
Brothers joining forces in terrorism seems to be a theme. There were three pairs of brothers involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and in 2008, three brothers were convicted for planning to attack soldiers at Fort Dick.
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Boston's Northeastern University explained that "There are a lot of criminal enterprises where you have brothers involved. It is almost always the older brother who is the leader.....Typically the younger brother looks up to the older brother in many ways."
I am not an expert in criminology or familial relationships, but when I think of brothers whose behavior is directly derived from their need to gain attention and acceptance from one another and their father, I think "Arrested Development," which is making it's triumphant return with new episodes on Netflix next month. (If for some reason you are not familiar with this brilliantly written show-go quickly and find a device to watch it on.)
Those Bluth boys may hold the key to understanding the deep bonds of fraternity.

Just think of awkward baby brother Buster, so desperate to be with and accepted by Michael and GOB.

And older brother GOB, wanting to be the first choice of his father and believing himself to be entitled to take over as heir of The Bluth Company, despite middle brother Michael being the more obvious and reliable choice.

The actions of the Bluth brothers when they collaborate on "Arrested Development" are often misguided and cause disaster because of their constant bickering, battling egos, and inability to ultimately trust one another. They all want to be the man that leads their failing family, with a patriarch accused of many things including treason for building houses in Iraq for Sadaam Hussein, but instead they just manage to bring the family down further.
To see an example of the dynamic of brothers in action, we can look at the episode "Making a Stand." In this episode, Michael tries to follow his father's wish that Gob be included in the business. Gob tries to introduce his new business idea accompanied by his usual magic trick fanfare, but his idea for selling the Bluth Company blueprints to "our Mexican friends from Columbia" is shot down by Michael for not making financial sense, and for being illegal. Their sister points out their father's ongoing scheme of goading Michael and Gob into fighting each other, which George Sr. believed would make his sons tougher. And then Michael finds out that Gob's whole Colombian plan had been instigated by their father, and feels that his father is still trying to create tension between Michael and his brother. Meanwhile George Sr. had arranged a job for baby brother Buster at an Iraqi toy shop, but upon finding out that the toy shop owner wanted to employ him to use his lack of a hand to scare off shoplifters, Buster quits. Michael meets up with Gob to try to create a new start for them working together away from their father's influence, and suggests that Gob opens a banana stand of his own, but Gob's competitiveness leads him to set up his new banana stand across from the original family banana stand, and is going about winning business in an aggressive fashion. Upon hearing from his father that Gob's banana stand had been making a lot of money, Michael and Gob become embroiled in competition using increasingly desperate tactics, including scantily clad women and fireballs. As events disintegrate into yet another fight between Michael and Gob, Michael finds out that George Sr. was behind the banana stand idea as a way of laundering money for the Colombian deal, and formulates a plan for the two brothers to get their own back on their father.
As Gob and Michael discuss their plan, which uses J. Walter Weatherman-an amputee man that their father used when they were children to scare them into learning lessons, they find out that Buster disapproves of their use of a one-armed man, but they ignore their whiny baby brother. Michael and Gob go to tell their father that they had put a stop to the Colombian deal and warn him that the Colombians may have reason for revenge. Michael asks the Guatemalan painters working in his parent's apartment to help out with the plan by posing as kidnappers while Gob tells his father that Michael is planning to fake a kidnapping to scare him.
George Sr. calmly waits for the fake kidnapping, but after the kidnappers arrive, is felled into a metal trunk by one of his disgruntled disguised employees. While he is trapped in there, Michael and Gob set about re-building Gob's banana stand, to stand in as a South American hut, inside the apartment. Once George Sr. is released from the trunk inside the fake hut, he is greeted by Gob, Michael and the disguised painters, who then attempt to threaten and frighten him. Just as Michael is about to reveal his identity, George Sr. grabs a gun and starts shooting. Just after a man's arm flies off, Michael realizes that the man must be J. Walter Weatherman, and that his father has turned the tables in a plan of his own.
As Gob and Michael start to fight, ostensibly because Gob had spoiled Michael's plan, they roll out of the hut and Michael appears to have fallen over the balcony. After George Sr. panics, Michael reappears, unhurt, having directed his own lesson towards his father. Meanwhile Buster has picked up a gun, and he is targeted by policemen wielding guns themselves. The policemen shoot when Buster does not drop the weapon as ordered and his hand flies off, spurting blood, causing Gob, Michael and George Sr. to panic. Michael quickly realises that it was Buster's fake hand that was shot off. Buster had a lesson of his own to teach: that they should not use a one-armed man to scare someone.
Now, while I in no way intend to make light of the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers, I do seek to understand how one brother could get the other to become involved in such an unsavory plot. And looking at the dynamic and actions of the Bluth brothers, especially in the episode detailed above, "Arrested Development," does seem to offer a key to understanding the psychology behind it all. (There is also this great article by Helen Rittelmeyer which compares the "Arrested Development brothers to the characters of Dostoevsky's 19th century novel "The Brothers Karamazov.)
It will be interesting to follow how people react to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's allegations that he was following his brother's lead. It doesn't make him any less guilty or any more sympathetic, but it does bring to light how society, in all cultures and throughout time, have clearly done to boys what George Bluth, Sr. did with his boys, which is to put them in constant competition with each other, making them feel that they must win the respect of the patriarch and be the dominant one. And while there is no evidence that the father of the Tsarnaev boys is at all involved, the relationship and interaction among this family undoubtedly played a part in what would lead someone who is being described as a well-like, laid back teenager to join forces with his brooding brother in a horrifying terrorist attack and then say "my brother made me do it."

Mars, You're So Manly

NASA geeks shared their sophomoric sense of humor with the universe by having one of the Mars rovers draw a giant dick on the red planets surface.

This, like Rule 34, is also one of the world's inalienable truths, if there is a blank canvas, a penis will be drawn on it. I know this to be absolutely true. I have a chalkboard wall in my kitchen.

Monkey See Monkey Do

I beliebe that Justin Bieber's antics and bizarre behavior is nothing new. He is simply Michael Jackson for a new generation. And I fear for him, because we all know that tragedy that befell upon the talented, but troubled Jackson.
I came to draw this comparison after hearing all the talk about Bieber's monkey, Mally, who was gifted to him for his recent 19th birthday by a music producer. The monkey was then confiscated at an airport because the Biebs failed to have proper paperwork for the primate. And today it was announced that Mally the monkey will in fact stay in the shelter and hopefully be placed in a better home.
Bieber's monkeying around immediately brought to mind Jackson's fondness for a chimp named Bubbles.
And before I knew it, I was pondering and googling and finding many other shocking similarities between the two princes of pop who started out as Pretty Young Things and all that early rise to fame may be the cause of the bizarre behavior and downfall of both.

Two Princes: Bieber's morph into Wacko Jacko seems to be only a nose job away from completion.

1. The aforementioned pop primates.

2. Crotch grabbing-the signature move from Michael Jackson has become an adopted maneuver for Bieber as well.

3. Show cancellations-In 1999, Michael Jackson cancelled several shows abroad. Bieber has been having a tumultuous European tour recently filled with an on stage collapse, cancelled appearances, and late starting concerts.

4. Their concerts are starting to look alike.

5. Strange bedfellows-While Jackson was put on trial for allegations of being sexually involved and sharing his bed with young boys, Bieber has also had his share of allegations including a baby daddy scandal and his on again-off again controversial relationship with Selena Gomez.
Both cover their faces in shame.

In conclusion, this incredible similarity is most likely all part of Bieber's plot to take over pop. He was quoted as saying "I model my career on the decisions Michael made."
Time will tell.....But keep an eye out for Bieber having botched plastic surgery, sleeping in a oxygen bed to stay young, and maybe he will even slowly turn black. Is Neverland Ranch up for sale?

Friday, April 19, 2013


I've been a bad blogger lately. Sometimes you get so busy living life, you don't have time to offer your reflections on it. But I will be back serving you my cheeze and whine!
In the meantime, with everything that has happened this past week in my hometown of Boston, I feel better about not being part of the internet feed of inundating everyone with more images and thoughts on a subject that is already so upsetting.
Sometimes we actually need to unplug to recharge. 
The world can be a terrifying place, and while the world wide web of blogs, social networking, and reddit news feeds can offer us all an outlet to express ourselves, share our fears, our experiences and knowledge, our thoughts, our theories, and our strength in the face of terror, it can also cause us all to become solitary and more obsessed. Obsessed not just with the horrors we are facing, but with ourselves and what we are saying and putting out there in this culture that craves "likes." 
Actions speak louder than words. Imagine if everyone who took to the internet to find solace through writing about things that were upsetting went out in the world to do a good deed or be a helper and healer?
It was said that it is human nature to run towards the blast. And the tragedy at The Boston Marathon appropriately taught us to run. Don't run away in fear or run towards the danger to photograph it, to comment on it, or continue to stare at it until the image drags you down in despair. Run towards it to help from wherever you are. And never stop helping. Even if it is a long, hard race to peace that seems impossible. We need to get up and be part of the run. We saw beautiful examples of this on Monday in Boston just as we have seen many times before when tragedy strikes. And as we are seeing in West Texas-another community suffering today.
There are no words or images that can help us understand why things happen or make us heal any faster but it is through our actions that we can get things done and be the good that we need in this world. So sign off and go out and join in the marathon to do good today and everyday. 
Just run.

This is Team Hoyt. Every native Bostonian or fan of the Boston Marathon knows of this father and son team who have run in the marathon 30 times. I stood on the side-lines every year waiting for them to go by and cheer and wave at them. They embody the spirit of the Boston Marathon and our need to keep moving for good even when things seem too hard or hopeless.


Friday, April 5, 2013

The Secrets

Finally, the insider tip on how to stay model thin! Eat tissues!
Yes a body in need of fitting haute couture needs Puffs indeed.

Thanks for bringing me dinner, hun!

Lunch on the go.

This diet, that will undoubtedly be all the rage this summer, get it's own cookbook: "Tasty Tissues: How To Lightly Flavor Your Filling No Calorie Snack," and be bigger than Atkins Diet, was revealed to us by former Vogue Australia editor Kristie Clements in her new tell-all book.
Clements says:
“I was having dinner with a New York agent who said to me that a few of the girls had resorted to eating tissues,” she said. “I’d never heard of such a thing. I said ‘Oh, what did that do?’ And, apparently, they swelled in your stomach and made you feel full.”
Bon appetite skinny bitches.

Meanwhile Huffington Post reported today about another diet that is much more my speed-the "boozy diet"-which apparently is the secret to longevity according to 101 year old Nancy Lamperti of Staten Island. Her daily routine includes having two glasses of wine at lunch, taking a nap, having a Southern Comfort in the afternoon, and then having beer with dinner. She's done this all her adult life and is a happy and healthy centenarian. Oh and in addition to her drinking, Nancy is a big fan of watching hours of cable TV. This lady and I would get along.
In fact, Virginia Tech researchers published earlier this year that people who DON'T drink are 19% more likely to die than those who do.

So what did we learn here? Go have a couple tissues and some wine and you'll stay thin and healthy for years to come. There's no way this plan can fail.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bad Boy

The reality show that really opened the door to all the other reality shows-"Cops." Such a guilty tv pleasure. I just never can get enough of those busts of morons with missing teeth pathetically resisting arrest shouting "I don't deal crack!" And "Cops" has now been on the air for an unbelievable 25 years.

What is also hard to believe is that this guy wasn't on "Cops" because this is the best bust ever.
19 year old Dandre Moore in Mississippi was pulled over and arrested with nearly 400 pill of oxycodone and another bottle of pills with Xanax-all of which he was most likely selling as there was $5000 of cash in his glove box. Oh and he also had an ounce of marijuana---in his underwear. 
Now as if all that wasn't amazingly criminal, this dude brings it on home by having a toddler in the back seat and by the fact that when he was pulled over he was driving with his knees so he could "double text" which means he was texting on two phones-one in each hand. Busted.
Just reading this report, I hear the theme to "Cops" in my head.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rocket Scientist Obit Sends Feminists To the Moon

We all wonder what we are going to be remembered for. Family life is a big part of who we are, but it's often our accomplishments outside of the home, the things that help the greater good, that we feel most proud about having left as our mark. I think that is the root of the problem with the much criticized and hence re-edited New York Times Obituary for rocket scientist Yvonne Brill.
The controversial obit for a women who broke barriers to become an acclaimed scientist opens with "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children."
This is absolutely a problematic description of a woman who patented a propulsion system that would be used by communication satellites, was honored by NASA and President Obama, and is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. And while the obituary does give all of her accomplishments outside of family life as well, it is not hard to feel that those accomplishments are downplayed by emphasizing her being a wife an mother first. Many readers questioned, would a man, with everything being equal, have been given a written send of like this? Maybe a male rocket scientist would be remembered most by his family for napping in an arm chair watching sports and enjoying a good beer. Now would that be sexist too?
Yes. This obit is sexist. I will say it. But! I also feel that maybe these domestic "woman-things" are accomplishments that this woman was equally as proud of.  She undoubtedly loved her husband and children and probably did make a mean beef stroganoff for them. And who is to say that memories of those simple pleasures, in the end, were not as important to her as being a rocket scientist.
While I manage to find offense with almost everything, there's a part of me that can't help but feel we are over-reacting a bit here. I mean, the headline does say "Pioneering Rocket Scientist" and the picture shows her beaming with pride as she is honored by the President. It's not like it was a picture of her barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and was headlined as "Mother, Wife Dies at 88." And also let's consider that those who are mourning her most are her family, to whom she was a wife, mother, and cook.
What it comes down to is this. As much as we strive to leave a legacy in the greater scheme of things, it is those whose lives we touched most frequently and most deeply with whom we will leave a true lasting legacy and maybe a taste of beef stroganoff in their mouths.

I Heart NY Art

NYC is a cultural mecca filled with art and surprises around every street corner. That's what I love about it.
Yes, seeing things like this on a daily basis really keeps you inspired.
And right now the city has an offering of truly unique art to experience.
First we have Academy Award nominee turn art object Tilda Swinton at the Museum of Modern Art. She arrives when she wants, unannounced, and enters a glass box to nap. That's it. That's the whole exhibit. Watch Tilda nap. Maybe. You don't know until after you've paid your over-priced admission fee if she feels like showing up and napping. So avant garde.
Wonder what happens if you kiss this androgynous sleeping beauty? (Remember that speed dating art installation in Kiev?)

Next we have the New Museum which has brought it's newest exhibit "Recalling 1993" to every street corner in the city transforming pay phones-which really at this point are practically museum relics-into audio exhibits with never-before told stories and memories from that neighborhood in 1993. So go travel throughout the city on a scavenger hunt for rusted pay phones to hear about events including the World Trade Center bombing, the club kids culture at Limelight in Chelsea, and the opening of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" in Midtown. You can even hear an account of  Times Square from late night tv personality and sexpert Robin Byrd. This just all confirms that the 90's are so hot right now-from fashion to music to stuff-it seems we are all trying to relive that dream of the 90's. So to experience this art, just pick up any pay phone and dial 1-855-FOR-1993. I would also make sure you have some Purell if you are going to be handling those phones. But there is something so nostalgically awesome about using one of those things again. Oh and in case you are wondering, you won't need a dime to call 1993.

And finally, the "piece de resistance" in the NYC arts scene. Former President George W. Bush's gallery premiere last night of his paintings of puppies at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Ave. 

Ok....that last one is an April Fool's joke. But for a second you believed it because it's as plausible as pay phones being time capsule art or paying to see someone take a nap. 
I think we've entered a new period in art. I like to call it the Post-Instagram era where anything is a filter away from being art. 

Open the Door to Spring

So it is spring! Finally. And springtime really is a magical time as the sun warms and the grass turns green and flowers bloom. Strolling through the park you half expect to see fairies dancing in the air as well.
And it turns out there may in fact be evidence of that in San Francisco, CT at the Golden Gate Park where a tiny door, less than 12 inches high, has mysteriously appeared at the base of an elm tree.
The door appeared about a week ago and has obviously been drawing a lot of attention from the internet and viewers coming to see it in person. While it truly is unknown how it came about or who it is for, many speculate it to be the work of gnomes, elves, or fairies or to be an "Alice in Wonderland" kind of portal.

I think that while this is undoubtedly some sort of art installation, I think it is wonderful none the less. It's an amazing thing to have child-like wonder and believe in magic.
And also, I think it should come as no surprise that there are fairies in San Francisco.