Tag: Futurama

Day 999: Buh-Bye, So Long and Hallelujah

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It’s a completely valid question.

For the past 50 or so days I have been fielding one question more often than most: what am I going to do for Day 1000? Will the final kilograph reflect upon the 999 that came before, like some extended clip show of my greatest guffaws and most aww-rending moments? Will I spend my final entry in closing-credits mode, thanking those who have made this all possible and put up with my considerable dearth of free time over the last 2 years and almost 9 months?

In short… no. While my original intent was to meander down that self-serving footpath for my final article, I decided that I would only do so if I could cite the Wikipedia page that had been created about me – as it turns out, that doesn’t exist yet.

In order to figure out my final missive, I felt I should turn to the moulder of my wisdom, the sage oracle who has helped to shape my morality, my perception, and even my understanding of the world: television. I have experienced the highs and lows of series finales – certainly at least one of them could illuminate the road to a poignant, entertaining, and (most of all) worthy coda to this monstrous undertaking.

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My first option is the beloved trope of bringing back a classic character for the finale. In my case I could introduce a surprise cameo by Yoko Ono, Craig David, Mary Nissenson, or if I really want to stretch to my roots, Phineas Gage. I could style the entire piece in a blend of haiku, musical theatre and secret code (did anyone ever figure that one out?). It sounds trite and cliché, but that’s always a place to start, isn’t it? Read more…

Day 735: Real Winners Come From Harlem

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When I was eight years old, my dad took me to watch the Harlem Globetrotters play. I don’t remember much of the game (I suspect they won), but I’ll never forget the lesson they taught me about comedy: nothing is too sacred to become fodder for a laugh. Athletes pour their sweat and souls into mastering their craft, they face each game with grit, determination and a professional intensity, yet here are a lanky bunch of goof-offs, mopping the floor with the hapless Washington Generals and having a great time.

One can find a sort of nihilism in this, I suppose. A victory for class-clowndom, or an existential detachment from the rites of traditional consequentialism. To my eight-year-old eyes, it was none of this – it was pure fun.

The Globetrotters exist within a strange bubble of competitive sport: their primary focus is to provide entertainment, but they must also perform with the precision of a perpetually competitive unit. There is no famous equivalent in any other major sport, suggesting that basketball alone lends itself to physical antics and slapstickish showboatery. Or maybe no one feels they can pull it off with the deft sense of showmanship that the Globetrotters exude.

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It may surprise you to know that the headquarters for the Harlem Globetrotters is located in Phoenix, Arizona. This is not a case of an owner retiring to a warmer climate; the team has actually never been based out of Harlem. They were launched in 1927 in Hinckley, Illinois, and spent most of their early years centered around the greater Chicago area. So why slap the word ‘Harlem’ in the team’s name?

Simple. It’s exotic. Read more…

Day 554: The Fictional Elite

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Some lucky soul (or souls) claimed the Lotto Max on Friday night, the Canada-wide lottery that often stretches its jackpot to $50 million. This was one of those big-money draws, and I was denied the prize once again, for the silly inconsequential reason that I didn’t buy a ticket.

Who among us hasn’t imagined how our life would change with the sudden injection of eight pre-decimal figures in our bank account? Every year, Forbes magazine drops its list of the wealthiest humans on the globe, and because I know my name will never grace those pages, it’s with only the mildest of interest that I check to see if the big winner is Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or some Saudi Arabian prince, floating on a sea of oil.

I don’t wish any of these people ill-will, but they really don’t have a tremendous effect on my life so I just can’t get excited about their appearance on the list. But Forbes also prints another list. These wealthy money-hoarders may not be technically “real”, but some of them are a lot more interesting than the ones who top that other list. These are the Forbes Fictional 15.

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As you may have guessed, the Forbes Fictional 15 is a list of the wealthiest fifteen fictional characters, as compiled from numerous sources, including books, movies, cartoons, comics, TV shows, and using the authors’ best guesses as to their respective fiscal value. Forbes started printing this list in 2002, and though they’ve skipped a few years along the way, the list has become a curious cultural touchstone. Folklore and mythological characters are exempt, as are real people that we simply wish were only fictional. Read more…

Day 460: The World Of Tomorrow… Yesterday!

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Every so often, a new technology grabs the public’s attention by the short hairs and doesn’t let go until it has gone mainstream. The iPad caused massive line-ups, earned gazillions in pre-sales, and offered the world an entirely new way to stream pornography. The first portable mp3 players showed us the potential for listening to all our illegally-obtained music on the go, without the fascist constraints of a 74-minute audio CD. And the first time I tried out a car with a back-up camera, I wanted to hit the highway in reverse, just because I could.

But the great innovations seem to space themselves out. We can watch the tech news for leaks, and we can visit the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every January for a look at some of the new innovations in TVs, computers and sex dolls, but in the not-too-distant past, the world would get together and watch the future explode into being. All at once.

Take, for example, the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

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The idea emerged from the murky depths of the Great Depression. A bunch of retired NYPD officers came up with the Fair as a way to lift America up from its economic funk, and attract the world’s attention (and hopefully a lot of its money) into New York. The scientists on board were hoping to flood the fair with the wonder and majesty of modern science, but former police chief Grover Whalen pushed for a heavier focus on technology and new products. The toys would get the people’s attention. Read more…

Day 323: Snowclones Are The New Black

With a name that sounds either like a horrific northern ocean storm or a delicious frozen treat, a snowclone is actually a snippet of language that we make use of all the time. Perhaps too often.

As a writer, I try to be mindful of avoiding clichés. It’s almost impossible not to let one slip out like a fart sometimes; they are so tightly woven into our collective colloquia they tend to fit in with the rest of the language. A snowclone is a customized cliché. If there’s a catchphrase you can’t help but spew like seltzery spit bubbles into every one of your conversations, this allows you to tweak it a little, paint some flames on the side and make it your own.

The Los Angeles Times’ David Sarno defines snowclones as ‘memechés’, a marriage of memes and clichés. Glen Whitman is the guy who coined the idea originally, basing it on the well-worn trope of: “If the Eskimos have # words for snow, then X surely has Y words for Z.” People throw in whatever words and numbers fit their present circumstance, and because their audience is familiar with the original concept behind the saying, the tweaked phrasing works. Read more…