Category

Pop-Culture

"Pop culture is a reflection of social change."

There has been an emerging class of people over the last 5 years. They come from different generations including Millennials, iGen, Baby Boomers, Yuppies, and maybe even a few Silents. This new generation breaks free from the stereotypical age-constrained limit and fuels a market so connected to it, it’s a hard thing not to write about. Are you a part of Generation C? If so, then you may not need to read this post.

The Land of Connected Things

Whether or not you leverage technology to buy products, connect with your friends, or consume media, it’s here! And it connects us. It connects us to each other as well as entities we wouldn’t normally be connected to. Think superstore execs, or the pizza shop around the corner. There’s a way to interact with these entities that allow us to become intimate with them.

connected things

You can create direct links with a number of different businesses (and people). The Generation C environment is a content-centric computerized connected community. Simply put, we live in the age of connected things.

Generation C behavior

Ubiquity is at the center of Generation C behavior. With the advent of smartphones, we take the world with us wherever we go. We are connected all the time. The considered norm is to always be available. This behavior is known as Always On the Grid.

Digital Information Assimilation is here. Generation C loyalists consume a boat-ton of information. And some of it (okay, okay, a lot of it) is not necessarily accurate. With social media feeds being the “go-to news” outlets, we are seeing an increase in unsubstantiated information.

Which leads into the next behavior of Social Animals 2.0. We hang out online, we are more concerned with our Twitter feeds and hashtags then we are with our real friends. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, and new ones like Ello and Imzy (Imzy is super cool, btw!!) are keeping us more and more connected. We can find communities that we belong to and feel appreciated in.

social animals
Boldomatic Image

iEverywhere is the interconnected world. Now, Apple obviously has a claim to the “iWhatevs” but Generation C is living in a fully interconnected world. A world where personal data including identity, shopping preferences, interests and more all reside in the cloud. Services too! Big data, services, social networks—the “i” is here forever.

Millennials and Generation C

As stated before, Generation C can be any age group. It can mean your father or mother, your child at at 12, your friends from the Womens’ Council. But Millennials are setting the tone. They shape the consumer experience. According to BazaarVoice, it’s estimated that the group will have more spending power than any other generation this upcoming year. They’ll use that power to change the way retailers are thinking about shopping experiences.

Millennials paved the way for OmniChannels. Having a seamless experience across devices and platforms is critical for brands to compete in the Generation C landscape. We want personalized experiences. Being able to take a picture of a pair of pants in a store and then buying it online when we get home is an option we want. We also want to start the buying process on our laptops, but end up paying for it with our smartphones.

Most Millennials are Generation C, but not all Generation C are Millennials.

Mobile: The Medium of Generation C

Smartphones are the devices of Generation C. We use them to do just about everything in our lives. From social networking to sending emails to saving documents to buying products, can you imagine your life without one? Probably not, which is kinda sad, but I get it!

Commerce on smartphones has increased dramatically in the last 5 years. It’s expected to continue rising. I hear all the time “think mobile first” and “mobile-ready” — these terms just emphasize the true nature of Generation C’s connection to mobile. There’s an opportunity for brands to increase their standing by making their mobile experiences shine. Gen C people will bounce from a site that has a bad mobile experience. They’ll even bounce from a site that has a mediocre mobile experience. Brands should be putting time, money, and thought into the mobile side of their business.

The Gen C Direction

Generation C are just as prevalent as Millennials and other living generations, maybe even more so. More and more we are living our lives out through technology. Our circles are our social networks. Our experiences are mobile. We will just continue to see technology consume more of our lives and our interactions. Wait for it, if you’re not fully connected yet….you will be!

Special thanks to…

I’d like to thank Strategy& and PwC for their incredibly insightful PDF on The Rise of Generation C, which I referred to for Gen C behaviors. And BazaarVoice for their insight into retailer trends.

Hollywood is the place where dreams are made (…or crushed, but who wants to think about that!). Our desires and fears leap out at us from the silver screen and we live vicariously through the characters we want to emulate. The film industry has been big business since the 1930’s and continues to grow. Movie-making is magical, films take people away. In a sense, movies are kind of like a drug or addiction where they make us forget about who we are for a while. They fill that need within all of us that makes us yearn for something more. And there are those of us out there (you know who you are) that binge-watch the shit out of Netflix and Amazon Prime! Guilty!

But little do people realize that movies start with a screenplay! Before any of the actors get cast, or the director starts yelling, or the stunts and special effects take shape, a screenplay is written. It’s that script that acts as the starting point for movie-making magic. Look at all the movies out there, thousands of them, each and everyone of them have a screenplay. There are lots of writers in Hollywood and they need some more recognition than just the Best Screenplay Category at the Oscars. Well…I guess there’s the Writers Guild Awards too, but who watches that?

So, in matching fashion along with My Movie List — The Top 5, Honorable Mentions, and The Top T.V. Shows Ever lists, I’ve decided to acknowledge, recognize, and applaud the top 5 screenplays of all-time. As I think they are, obviously!

The Top Screenplays of All-Time…

First, I’m looking for a few things. Here’s my criteria:

  1. A single motive storyline, but with secondary themes and challenges.
  2. Ambition – I want to be taken to the outer boundaries without miserably flying over them.
  3. Strong Characters – Yeah, we need to have reactions to these people (we need to love, like, hate them genuinely).
  4. The Climax / Ending – this needs to be epic. Plain and simple. EPIC.

I’ll go on a 5 star rating for each category:

Storyline: 
Ambition: 
Strong Characters: 
Ending: 

I didn’t really want to do a countdown, so in no random order, here’s the list:

The Matrix (1999):

I would say I’m not a huge fan of Keanu Reeves’ acting (unless you’re talking about Point Break), but this movie just worked! And it’s because its screenplay was freaking awesome! In the opening scene we’re introduced to Trinity (played by Carrie-Ann Moss), she’s sitting in a dark room and cops come in and “try” to arrest her. This is also when we first meet the cold, calculating Agent Smith (brilliantly The-Matrixplayed by Hugo Weaving). A fight and chase ensues!

We finally meet Neo or “Mr. Anderson” who has a dubious suspicion that the Matrix is real. As the audience, we have no idea what the Matrix is, until Neo takes the red pill and we find out! This twist was incredible, it put the movie into overdrive and brought us to the outer limits. As the movie progresses, we root for Neo to be the “one.” The characters include Morpheus, The Oracle, and Cypher (the bad guy). In addition to the movie being action-packed, there’s also a love story, and a really cool ending with the helicopter and Neo being able to dodge bullets.

Storyline: 
Ambition: 
Strong Characters: 
Ending: 

If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a must watch!

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981):

Dr. Indiana “Indy” Jones is the man—seriously! Raiders of the Lost Ark was the original Indiana Jones movie, even though technically, The Temple of Doom was considered a prequel to this, I think. ROTLA was a phenomenal movie! Why, you ask? That’s right, because of the screenplay. The opening scene is intense and adventurous. It’s the one where Harrison Ford swaps a gold treasure that’s booby trapped with a bag of sand in an ancient temple and gets chased down by a huge rolling boulder. Enough said!

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Indiana Jones

The movie takes place in the 1930’s, and we find out this awesome adventurer is a professor and and archeologist. Upon his return, Jones finds out that the Nazi’s (who make perfect villains) are after his old mentor and that they are probably searching for the Ark of the Covenant. Indy is then tasked with finding the Ark before the Nazi’s. And then awesomeness occurs!

Indiana rushes all over the place to find the Ark, find his mentor, save the love of his life who’s bar he accidentally burned down in Cairo, and save the world from an awful fate, it’s just good ole’ plain fun! If you haven’t seen Raiders of the Lost Ark and think that The Temple of Doom or The Last Crusade (or god forbid The Crystal Skull) is the best Indiana Jones movie ever, you are sorely mistaken!

Storyline: 
Ambition: 
Strong Characters: 
Ending: 

Pulp Fiction (1994):

The non-linear, soft, wet mass of material that might be referred to as the best screenplay of all time — Pulp Fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love this film, in fact I wrote a blog post on Tarantino Films. But the “greatest screenplay of all time” — maybe! It’s pretty intense, and the flow of the movie hops around a bit. So we forget that Vincent Vega (portrayed by John Travolta, and the role that revived his career) gets gunned down after using the bathroom.

A dissecting movie that takes place in Los Angeles revolving around 3 (or 4) main groups of people. There’s the gun-wielding, lovestruck couple in the opening scene that stick up the restaurant they’re eating at. There’s Vincent Vega (recently back from hiatus in Amsterdam) and Jules, both of which are hitmen for the iconic LA gangster, Marsellus Wallace. And then there’s Butch (played by Bruce Willis), who’s a boxer and supposed to take a dive in the 5th (“you’re ass goes down in the fifth. Say it.”) in compliance with Marsellus Wallace’s wishes (or commands), but then kills the guy in the ring (which we don’t see as the audience).

Vincent Vega and Jules in Pulp Fiction

There’s some really awesome, intense (and pretty sick) scenes in this movie. The most memorable (and I’m not gonna say the gimp) to me, is the scene where Vincent and Jules recover Wallace’s briefcase. It’s Samuel L. Jackson’s famous scene where he recites Ezekiel 25:17 (“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides…”) – it’s a killer scene, literally. But there are also some really cool themes in this movie; the briefcase (we have no idea what’s in it, but everyone speculates that it’s Marsellus Wallace’s soul—not confirmed), the Bible verse, the bathroom scenes, the overdose scene (that was cool!), then there was the gimp scene (which was just awful!), and a really great scene starring Christopher Walken (“3 long years, I stuck this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass…”).

Storyline: 
Ambition: 
Strong Characters:  
Ending: 

So, if you haven’t watch Pulp Fiction, you’re doing yourself a big disservice!

Chinatown (1974):

Hands down the best gumshoe film ever made, Jack Nicholson is the bomb in this movie! Jake Gettis is a private eye in Los Angeles (think Sam Spade) and he’s hired by a woman to track her husband (infidelities and all..). The target is an engineer, Mulray, for the LA Department of Water & Power, and as Jake (Jack) follows him he begins to unravel a conspiracy plot.

Jack and Faye in Chinatown

The film uncovers a number of brutal truths; the water department is drying the land in the Northwest Valley so it can be bought at a reduced price, Noah Cross (the main antogonist) is a horrible father/husband/person-in-general, Mulray is murdered because he gets too close, dead senior citizen residents are purchasing land (conspiracy), and then there’s rape and incest. It’s pretty bad.

But the movie itself is so film-noir that it’s enthralling to watch. And that’s because of the screenplay. Jack Nicholson is phenomenal. Faye Dunaway plays the damsel in distress that Jake gets to save (but doesn’t), so it’s kind of a bad ending, which makes it pretty epic because we weren’t expecting it as the audience. John Huston plays the devilishly old villain that you want to strangle. And Roman Polanski directs this slick, perplexing, sleuthy mystery! It’s an older movie, but still stands the test of time, thanks to a unique, original screenplay. Check it out!

Storyline: 
Ambition: 
Strong Characters:  
Ending: 

Back to the Future (1985):

Back to the Future

“When this baby hits 88 miles per hour…you’re gonna see some serious shit!”

I know I said this was in random order, but this has got to be my favorite screenplay of all time! It’s got everything. The storyline is original and different. The ambition is oh so there (especially for 1985!!)! The development of good characters was strong and fluid, not forced. There was a happy ending, but left the door open for more sequels to come and they did, although, nothing will beat this original.

I don’t know how many times I watched this when I was a kid, lots, that’s for sure! It starts with the audience being introduces to Marty McFly (Hello, McFly!), a teenager and aspiring musician who likes to turn up the volume (he gets blown away by his guitar amp, lol). But Marty’s friend, Emmet “Doc” Brown meets up with him in the mall parking lot where Doc is eager to show off his new invention – a time machine! That’s right, time travel in a DeLorean. But Doc stole plutonium from some Libyan terrorists, and ends up getting gunned down in the beginning of the movie. Marty hops in DeLorean in Back to the Futurethe DeLorean and accidentally sets the time machine to 1955.

Basically, he travels back in time, inadvertently runs into his parents when they were his age, and hilarity ensues. He has to race against time to save his parent’s first kiss, help his father humiliate the obnoxious Biff, jam out at the Enchantment Under the Sea, and get back to the future, haha! He also needs to save Doc from getting shot by crazy, RPG-carrying Libyans, and that’s all dependent on a single bolt of lightning striking the clock tower, which is the “only power source capable of generating the necessary 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the DeLorean.”  Damn, that’s a lot to do!

The Back to the Future franchise is so popular that they ended up making a theme ride of off it, and I think there was even a Back to the Future day. The ending of the first Back to the Future was great; everything worked out, well, everything was better than just worked out. Doc doesn’t die, he puts on a bullet proof vest, the McFly’s are rich and Biff works for them now (not the other way around like in the beginning of the movie), and Marty ends up with his girlfriend, Jennifer (who is played by Elisabeth Shue in Back to the Future 2, not the first one).

Back to the Future Ending

“But, Doc, you have to back up, we don’t have enough road to get up to 88 mph.” – Marty McFly

“Roads….where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” – Doc

I swear, if you haven’t watched this movie, then we’re probably not friends! Do it, today! Watch Back to the Future, you’ll thank me.

Storyline: 
Ambition: 
Strong Characters: 
Ending: 

Alright, there you have it, my top 5 screenplays of all-time. You know, I just realized something. There’s not a single screenplay on here that’s written after the year 2000. Hmmm….well, I do feel as time goes on that movies tend to not be as good as they once were. I think the heyday of great screenplays were between 1970 — 2000, as seen on my list! Ok, hope you enjoyed!

Just like everyone else, I was enamored with the first season of Mr. Robot. Elliot Alderson, the unstable, ingenious, drug-addicted web hacker who dropped Evil Corp to its knees, captivated a nation and became the de facto hero of a debt-free nation. Elliot (and his Mr. Robot alter ego), along with his merry band of fsociety misfits, took down the world’s biggest capitalist conglomerate while capturing the attention of the FBI, making an enemy of an economic powerhouse, and dancing with a mercenary hacker group known as the Dark Army.

But….is that what really happened? Maybe…the truth is that season two has left too much up to the imagination. It’s already 4 episodes in and I’m more confused now than ever before. Some could say that’s the sign a good television show, where it gives you just enough so you keep coming back for more, but not enough to understand anything! Me — I’m on the fence about it! I loved season one so much that I’ll invest myself for season two even though the episodes are pretty boring and uncover things at an alarmingly slow rate!

Now, for those of you who are in the hacking world, or know a little bit about it, you’ll know that Mr. Robot brings to the silver screen a pretty realistic and accurate view of hacking. To read more about that, I’ll transfer you to a post here – The Unusually Accurate Portrait of Hacking on USA’s Mr. Robot — check it out, cool read! But I’m not here to talk about its accuracy, I’m here to ask what happened to it. What happened to Mr. Robot? Are people liking this second season, or are they hating it? Again, I’m on the fence, either it’s the worst follow up season to an award winning first one, or it’s the most brilliant sequel season to have ever graced television history. I’ve got thoughts on that later!

But before that, let’s recap season one of Mr. Robot…

Okay, as we all know, season one was just phenomenal. It. Was. Awesome. Period. It takes place in probably the greatest city on earth, NYC, and is riddled with shady characters, uncovered truths, and accurate hacking lingo, which just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Each episode is titled like a computer format file: eps1.0_hellofriend.mov, eps1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg, eps1.2_d3bug.mkv, etc. The first episode we are introduced to Elliot, who’s the main protagonist. He’s a weirdo too, but hey, aren’t most hackers? He works for a company called All-Safe that does cyber-security for the biggest conglomerate in the world, Evil Corporation. More about them later!

elliot-alderson
Elliot in his ominous hoodie

Elliot also hacks people’s social media, email, and personal accounts, but he does it to “get close to them” like he eventually tells his therapist. But he also does it to take down rotten m*the#[email protected]!! like the one at the end of episode one who distributed child porn.

During the first few episodes, we are introduced to the merry band of eccentric outsiders that make up fsociety including:

  • Darlene – Elliot’s sister (that we don’t find out about until close to the end of the season when Elliot forgets she’s his sister and tries to kiss her, ewww!), she’s the elusive, dark, part-goth hacker who is kinda like Elliot’s right hand and has a strange connection with the unscrupulous Dark Army.
  • Romero – the weed-smoking/dealing, wily hacker who isn’t completely sure of Elliot.
  • Mobley – a DJ, a hacker, tech support for E. Corp, a trusted internet source who can post anything to Wikipedia, and a loyal soldier to the cause of taking E. Corp down!
  • Trenton – the Persian hacker who doesn’t say much, but believes in what fsociety is doing.
  • Mr. Robot – aha! The leader of fsociety, and Elliot’s alter-ego. But we don’t find this out until the second or third to last episode of the season. Wonderfully played by Christian Slater.

Now remember, in season one, Elliot was being recruited by fsociety. We don’t find out until later that he is the leader of fsociety. And that truth, that Elliot is kinda crazy, calls into question if any of it was really real? I mean, did they even take down Evil Corp.? I’m getting ahead of myself.

We meet some other people in the first season too:

  • Angela – Elliot’s childhood friend and co-worker, she got Elliot the job at All-Safe.
  • Terry Colby – the CTO of E. Corp. who gets set up for hacking into E. Corp’s system
  • Tyrell Wellick – The interim CTO after Colby gets arrested, and a hacker as well (or a guy who really knows his computers). When he meets Elliot he tells him he uses a “Linux box” which Elliot admires.
  • Gideon Goddard – Elliot’s boss at All-Safe
  • Shayla – Elliot’s neighbor and drug-dealer (sort of), they also end up having a relationship.
  • Cisco – Darlene’s ex-boyfriend and kind of a liaison between fsociety and the Dark Army.
  • Philip Price – the CEO of E. Corp. He’s super cryptic and really quite creepy. We see a lot more of him in season two.
  • Krista – Elliot’s shrink who is super nice and mild mannered. Elliot hacks her life and ends a relationship (in an illegal way) that could’ve been really devastating for Krista. She does not turn Elliot in to the authorities.

Each and every episode in season one unveils another piece to the puzzle. Another progression in the plot to take down a corporate giant. Another cog in the wheel that keeps the story spinning. Throughout the unfolding season one, there are so many surprises that keep you mystified yet makes you feel like you’re getting closer to the truth.

Crazy (and awesome) surprises in season one (if you haven’t watched season one and plan to, stop reading – NOW!!):

  1. Elliot meets the hacker group fsociety through a rudimentary hack of All-Safe systems to infiltrate E. Corp. and ends up leaving the file where it’s found (which fsociety asks him to do).
  2. Elliot meets Shayla’s connect and supplier of morphine, Fernando Vera (he’s a big asshat!), who abuses Shayla, so Elliot puts a stop to that by alerting the cops to his stash of drugs and his online social selling of them.
  3. Tyrell Wellick enjoys beating up homeless guys, but at least he pays them to do so — weird, man!
  4. Terry Colby covered up a toxic waste leak that gave hundreds of people leukemia including Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother, so that’s how we understand their tight connection.
  5. Angela infects All-Safe’s systems using her infidelious (not sure if that’s a word) boyfriend’s computer. His name is Ollie and he’s not really important. He’s an asshat too!
  6. Vera kidnaps and subsequently kills Shayla to get Elliot to hack him out of prison because someone puts a “hit” out on Vera. Which ultimately ends up being his own brother (Isaac Vera) who wants Vera dead. Vera kills his brother and escapes. My guess is that we haven’t seen the last of Fernando.
  7. Tyrell Wellick kills the wife of Scott Knowles (the new CTO of Evil Corp chosen for the position instead of Wellick) and eventually becomes a suspect in that murder, rightfully so.
  8. Angela does some shady shit to get Terry Colby to confess that E. Corp covered up the toxic waste leak. She essentially sells her soul to the devil (Evil Corp) to get a PR job there, which in season two, she excels at. I definitely want to know where this is going.
  9. Gideon (Elliot and Angela’s boss) is suspicious about the story Elliot spun about the hack on Evil Corp and turns the hacked server into a honeypot. Typically, a honeypot is a mechanism set in place to detect some sort of behavior or action. In this case, Elliot did not realize that Gideon was on to him and that kinda screwed up the relationship with the Dark Army.
  10. Elliot fixes the relationship with the Dark Army by meeting with Whiterose, a transgender woman who is obsessed with time, she allocates one minute for Elliot’s meeting and he pleads his case convincing her to resume the aid of the hack.
  11. Elliot Alderson is Mr. Robot, who is the persona of his dead father, but I mentioned this already! Darlene is Elliot’s sister.
  12. Tyrell Wellick (oh and I forgot to mention his wife is into BDSM, she scares me!!) ends up getting fired from E. Corp but starts to work with Elliot to take them down.
  13. Elliot blacks out for 3 days and ends up waking up in Wellick’s SUV. He has no memory of the hack on Evil Corp., which apparently succeeded throwing the world into chaos. And Tyrell Wellick is no where to be found!
  14. The final scene in the final episode in season one shows Elliot opening the door after someone knocks on it, but we never see the visitor. As the credits roll, we see Whiterose dressed as a man talking with Philip Price (E. Corp’s CEO) about the hack – very interested in this!!

As you can see, there were many surprises and they were spaced out beautifully in the first season. Each episode gave you answers, but also left more questions. It was really awesome to see the hack succeed. Now onto season two!

Season Two of Mr. Robot…does it make any sense?

Season two opened with an extended episode (or two episodes put together). And Elliot is out of the hacking game, he’s gone analog! He purposely took himself out of the game because when he’s not his alter-ego, he cares about the world and what happens to it. He doesn’t want to do bad (or what heElliot and Mr. Robot playing chessperceives as bad, because let’s face it, if the credit card companies got taken to their knees, it wouldn’t be horrible. Well, I’m not entirely sure about that!) things, and thinks that Mr. Robot is ruining his life and the life of others.

Elliot moves in with his mother, where there is no internet, no computers, nothing he could get his hands on except for notebooks that he writes in constantly. He is still seeing Krista, his mild mannered shrink, and is telling her the truth about what he feels, thinks, and sees. She is trying to help him through it. But we also see a few new players come in in season two:

  • Leon – what appears to be Elliot’s best friend from the neighborhood. Leon just discovered Seinfeld and likes to talk about it a lot to Elliot.
  • Ray – (played by the funny Craig Robinson, who isn’t that funny in this!) is a person from the neighborhood who recruits Elliot to do a migration of his website. We don’t know what type of a website Ray has, but it’s definitely shady because he employs some ruffian tactics with his previous web developer and has a tough-looking thug accompany Elliot while he’s doing the migration.
  • Dominique – the pretty, ambitious, young, and feisty FBI agent who is hot on the trail of fsociety because of her investigation into the E. Corp hack.
  • Elliot’s mother – she just sits on the couch and watches TV. But Elliot tells us she’s “tough.”
  • Susan Jacobs – E. Corp’s head council, she’s known as the “Madame Executioner” because she’s stops lawsuits from impacting Evil Corp and in a lot of those lawsuits people died.

I didn’t really like the first episode of Mr. Robot’s season two. Why? Because it didn’t really answer any questions. But apparently my opinion doesn’t really matter because based on this first episode, season two received critical acclaim. Huh? Really? Let’s recap the two-part episode one of season two.

Episodes 1& 2 of Mr. Robot’s Season Two…

Tyrell Wellick records an fsociety video that’s sent out to the world taking credit for the E. Corp hack. Tyrell Wellick has disappeared. Elliot maintains a really boring routine living at his mother’s house, he gets up every morning, has lunch with Leon, visits with his church group, then watches the basketball games at the neighborhood courts. He is essentially trying to beat his own mind, or Mr. Robot, from rearing his ugly head and doing anymore damage than he already has. So he doesn’t go near computers and writes everything down in his journals.

fsociety hacks into Susan Jacobs smart home, where they turn her music up, turn her temperature down, scold her with hot water in the shower, etc. She ends up leaving her posh New York house and goes to her other place outside the city. fsociety take up residence and make her smart home their temporary headquarters. They then execute a hack on E. Corp’s bank and ransom their money, making Scott Knowles burn 5.9 million dollars in the middle of Central Park donning an fsociety mask. 5/9 is significant because May 9th is when the E. Corp hack was executed.

Angela continues to climb up the company ladder at E. Corp by not making nice with her co-workers. She Angela at E. Corp officesis shrewd and different than she was in season one. She talks with news outlets demanding certian interview questions not be asked and the like. It also appears like she’s abandoned the lawsuit she really wanted to go after in season one.

Gideon meets with Elliot, he tells him that he needs to “do the right thing” and tell the FBI what he knows. Gideon has been cooperating with the Feds and Agent Dominique. While Gideon is at a bar, he meets a guy and they make small talk for a few minutes. Then the guy takes out a gun and shoots Gideon in the throat, killing him! The last scene in the two-part series opener is the phone ringing and Elliot picking it up. The voice on the other end of the line says “Bon-sour, Elliot” and is clearly Tyrell Wellick’s voice.

I know, right?!? WTF is going on???

The next two episodes are even more confusing. We find out the Romero is dead, it looks like someone shot him in the face. Did Elliot kill Romero, remember when Mr. Robot pointed a gun a Romero? Well…that was actually Elliot doing that! Dominque also finds fsociety’s arcade headquarters, that they threw a party at to cover their tracks. But the FBI finds a shell casing!

We see that Whiterose and Philip Price are clearly working together, Whiterose telling Price to “stay on schedule” – whatever that means. We see more of Joanna Wellick, Tyrell’s BDSM wife, who is trying to get Tyrell’s severance pay from Scott Knowles, who won’t pay up because of his grief over his wife’sWhiterose, Mr. Robot murder that really looks more like vengeance and not grief.

We have no idea what’s going on in Elliot’s head. He is kidnapped by government looking agents in black Suburbans that take him to a warehouse and shove wet sand down his throat. But it’s actually all in his mind and Mr. Robot is trying to get him to throw up the Adderall pills that he took that ultimately help him ignore Mr. Robot’s tempting pleas to get back on a computer.

Ray is super shady and is trying to recruit Elliot, but we’re not sure what type of business he’s in. We don’t know how Leon and Elliot met, but they are best of friends (if Elliot could really have friends) and they hang out pretty much all the time. Mobley finds Romero’s body and thinks it’s the Dark Army hunting fsociety down, so he (along with Trenton) start to doubt Elliot and also Darlene.

Philip Price invites Angela to dinner with a few of E. Corp’s executives. At the end of that dinner, Price gives Angela a disc that contains incriminating evidence on the two execs they went to dinner with and implicates them in the toxic waste leak coverup. Elliot and Mr. Robot play chess for the ultimate price of Elliot’s mind and control, nobody wins! But Elliot finally gets back on a computer and helps Ray, only to find that he’s doing some shady stuff! Oh boy, here we go again!

Thoughts on Mr. Robot…

I’m not sure where this will lead. As seen in season one, there were so many twists and turns (in a good way) that really kept you guessing, but it also gave you something every episode. Season Two just seems to take. It doesn’t give you much of anything, but I’m still invested because I need to know what’s going on.

Evil Corp definitely doesn’t seem to be out of the game. And with fsociety needing new digs, they seem to be on the defensive. They really need to be on the offensive and continue to clobber Evil Corp. In the Evil Corp's logo - Mr. Robotfourth (last) episode, Elliot (in a flashback) said that the hard part would be after the attack. Not the attack itself, but the fallout. That fsociety would have to keep up the pressure. The only problem is that Elliot isn’t keeping up the pressure, Darlene is trying to do that. But as we all know, there is no better hacker than Elliot Alderson.

I think there was a turning point in the last (fourth) episode of season two. Elliot finally got back on a computer. That’s what this season needs—Elliot online!!!!! Because let’s face it, without Elliot doing what he does best (hack), the balance wouldn’t work. We need Elliot online to get this season going again. Elliot needs to let Mr. Robot take control, and conquer the big bad wolf that is Evil Corp. That’s the only way I see this show getting to where it needs to go. But the writers might have different plans.

I know this — if Elliot doesn’t get hacking again soon. People are going to get hurt, more so than the ones who’ve already been hurt. People are going to get caught too! But, I guess you could say that if Elliot gets back to hacking as well.

Again, I’m not sure where this season is going, but I want to tell Elliot one thing: Elliot, for the sake of your viewers, get yourself up and get yourself together, it’s time to hack the world!

I just finished watching The Hateful Eight and I had to write this post. I was NOT a fan of The Hateful Eight, it didn’t quite hit me like Inglorious Basterds or Jackie Brown did. Let me start by saying I think Quentin Tarantino writes and directs some really phenomenal movies! They’re hip and non-linear, a little violent and outrageous, and just plain fun to watch. Tarantino has directed 8 films (which, a few he also wrote, and acted in), they are the following in chronological (or linear, hehe!) order:

  1. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  3. Jackie Brown (1997)
  4. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
  5. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
  6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  7. Django Unchained (2012)
  8. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Now, just so you know, Tarantino has written and acted in other films. True Romance being one of my favorite Tarantino-penned films, but also Four Rooms and Dusk til Dawn.

Before I get in to my top 3 Tarantino films, I’d like to talk a little about his style over all. He’s definitely over-the-top, but I find most of the time, it’s over the top in a good way. Either with the ultra-violence where you know a head would never explode like that or super long fight scenes where there’s no way any one could endure for that long, Tarantino’s films are novel, to say the least.

He also surrounds himself with a lot of controversy, mainly around a certain racial slur. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the N* word used more times than in his films Jackie Brown and Django Unchained. He’s gotten a lot of criticism from African-American film directed Spike Lee, who believes that Tarantino is infatuated with the N* word. Honestly, I think he might be too. But no matter how you look at it, Quentin Tarantino’s films are pretty damn good!

Top 3 Tarantino Films

 

Jackie Brown pointing a gun

 

  1. Jackie Brown: I consider this film Tarantino’s sleeper film. It was an homage to 70’s blaxploitation movies like Foxy Brown and Shaft. The movie follows Jackie Brown (played by Pam Grier in a revival of her old roles of the 70’s), an airplane attendant who smuggles money for a man named Ordell (played by the charismatic and frightening Samuel L. Jackson), he’s a gun-runner. But Jackie gets picked up by the feds while smuggling in some money and cocaine, she gets arrested, and Ordell is afraid she might “roll” on him. He bails her out of jail using Max Cherry, a bail bondsman, who picks up Jackie and starts to fall in love with her. Jackie, being the smart woman that she is, devises a plan to double-cross Ordell, get the charges against her dropped, and keep most of the money for herself. Spoiler alert — she does just that! Ultimately this movie is about romance, a romance that was lost between Jackie and Max Cherry. But it’s also about a strong woman, who against all odds comes out on top, and finally gets the life she deserves. Jackie Brown is number 3 on my list of Tarantino films, if you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out!
  2. Pulp Fiction: Could you not see this one coming? Pulp Fiction gets a lot of praise and I’m about to give it some more. It’s one of those non-linear movies that Tarantino is known for. It follows a few different stories that ultimately intertwine in the end. Wikipedia calls it a “neo-noir crime black comedy” — I call it awesomeness wrapped up in 154 minutes. The opening Vincent Vega and Jules in Pulp Fictionscene to this movie is a couple (played by Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) sitting in a cafe who decide to stick up the joint and rob everyone in it (the film cuts out, but it eventually cycles back to it). Then the film introduces Vincent Vega and Jules (two of Marsellus Wallace’s hitmen) who are sent to retrieve a briefcase. There’s an iconic scene where Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Jules, recites a bible verse then shoots a guy. They get the briefcase, but (and this is a recurring theme) no one knows what the briefcase holds. Every time someone opens it, there’s this gold-ish, red hue that illuminates from the briefcase. There’s been lots of speculation as to what’s in the briefcase, but you never really find out. Butch, a boxer, then meets with Marsellus, who is an L.A. gangster. Butch is told to take a dive in the upcoming fight, but ends up double-crossing the most dangerous gangster in Los Angeles. He goes on the run and the two hitmen are sent after him. Butch ends up killing Vincent Vega, who was the root cause of Marsellus’s wife overdosing on heroin. Vincent works with Jules and while they killed the man who stole the briefcase, they were also shot at several times but with every single bullet missing them, this makes Jules have an epiphany and he vows to leave the gangster lifestyle. The two hitmen end up in the diner while the couple at the beginning of the movie are robbing it. Jules let the couple go free, but not without retrieving his wallet that says “bad mother*cker” on it. I haven’t even gotten into talking about The Wolf, or Vincent and Mia winning the dance competition, or the gimp!! This movie is an all around adventure, and one that will most likely stand the test of time!
  3. Inglourious Basterds: That’s right! This is my favorite Tarantino film, it’s just really really well done. It’s well written and well-acted. This movie is about World War II, and a group of Jewish-American soldiers who travel light and kill any Nazi they see. They’re lead by the all-wise Aldo “The Apache” Raine (played by Brad Pitt), he manages this merry band of Nazi-killing troopers into enemy territory to hopefully end the war. The opening scene in this movie gets you right from Inglourious Basterds holding a knifethe beginning. There’s a man chopping wood at a tiny little farmhouse somewhere in rural France. Nazi jeeps are seen coming up the road and he tells his daughters to go inside. Then we meet Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz – he’s amazing!!), the Jew Hunter, who knows that the man chopping wood is hiding a family of Jews under the floorboards of his house. He orders SS soldiers to shoot them, but Shoshanna, the youngest family member, gets away. Years later (and the war is in full force), Shoshanna owns a movie theater where high up people in the Third Reich want to view a movie that depicts the Germans in a good light and killing a bunch of Americans. She starts to devise a plan to kill all the high-members of the Third Reich. Ultimately, this movie is not even close to being accurate surrounding the events of World War II, but it is quite entertaining. It’s a long movie, but there is excitement at every turn. The Germans have given the Basterds nicknames and there’s a violent scene where the Bear Jew beats a German with a baseball bat. Hans Landa strangles a well-known German actress for helping the Americans, and then Aldo carves a swastika into Hans Landa’s head (the end scene), it’s a great scene! In the end, the movie theater gets burned to a crisp along with all the top members of the Nazi party (they make great villains!) This movie is an up and down ride from beginning to end and Hugo Stiglitz is awesome!

Tarantino makes some really unique movies. I know not everyone likes his style of film, but I find them refreshing, fun, and edge of your seat good! However, I did NOT like The Hateful Eight, that’s originally why I decided to write this post. It’s in non-linear fashion, but I didn’t think the story line was that great and the use of violence seemed to be there because it could, not because it added to the movie. Of course, I won’t let one movie deter me from watching more of his films, I’ll continue being a Quentin Tarantino fan.

The summer of 1995 was a good summer! I was 14 and I mowed lawns all summer long. Every Friday my mom would drive me down to Blockbuster Video, so I could rent a boat ton a movies to keep me busy for the entire week. Honestly, I must’ve spent over $1,000 that summer. Oh, the memories….and the hours spent watching movies. As a sidenote—for those of you who were born in the mid to late 90’s, I don’t expect you to remember Blockbuster Video, but bear with me and I’ll explain.

What is a netflix?

In my last year of high school I remember hearing about this service called Netflix, it would drop a movie in your mailbox and then you could return it when you were finished watching it. I remember thinking “man, that’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard of, people will just keep the movies and not return them, ha!” – Boy was I dead wrong, of course, I was also 17 and knew nothing about technology or innovation.

Then this little company took root and got traction. More and more people started using it, people like my parents. I can still remember the first movie we got through the mail (it was Zoolander) and we slowly started to scale back on going to BlockBuster Video as much.

What were you thinking, Blockbuster?

The interesting thing is that in 2000 Netflix was offered up to Blockbuster for $50 million! But, little ol’ Blockbuster declined. So Netflix came out with an IPO, or initial public offering in 2002 selling 5.5 million shares of stocks at $15 a pop. And for those of you who don’t know—an IPO is when a company goes public and offers shares of the company to the public.

Now, for those of you who remember Blockbuster, you’ll remember the sections they used to have. Obviously there were the New Releases, there were Action, Comedy, Horror, Drama, the list goes on…and you might remember the “employee’s recommendation” section. At my Blockbuster, there was Dave. Dave always made the best recommendations. Movies like True Romance, The Big Lebowski, and Heat. But what Netflix did was virtualize that whole process and made it custom to you—the user! Pretty neat, eh?

Basically, Netflix maintains this system of reviews and ratings. They have an algorithm they dubbed “Cinematch” – clever, very clever. Users can rate a movie from 1 to 5 stars (1 being bad, 5 being fantastic), then Netflix will pull out (or mine) the data. Based on a user’s prior movie preferences and the ratings that they give those movies, Cinematch will predict what movies a user is more likely to want to watch and serve those movies up. It’s kinda cool, but then there’s that part of me that thinks I might be missing out on something if this experience is super personalized. Of course, personalization is what most users want. And Netflix has given it to us!

“The problem with binge-watching Netflix…is that you lose 3 days of your life.”

Then Netflix came out with “streaming” and this revolutionized the way humans watch TV. Netflix (and Amazon Prime) made things like cable, commercials, and network TV not as glamorous. If I can quote Wikipedia – “By 2010, Netflix’s streaming business had grown so quickly that within months the company had shifted from the fastest-growing customer of the United States Postal Service’s first-class mail service to the biggest source of Internet traffic in North America in the evening.” — That’s pretty crazy! Being a member of Netflix, I know you are allowed to have different profiles on your account. Profiles make it easy for you to share your Netflix account with your girlfriend (or whoever) and have different streaming experiences. Again, experiences that are personalized and tailored to you.

In 2013, Netflix started its own award ceremony called The Flixies. The ceremony honors the viewing habits of its users. Certain categories include Best Bromance, Best Guilty Pleasure, and Best Marathon TV Show to name a few. Haha – that’s all I have to say about that!

Now with the advent of streaming, Netflix had to finagle some pretty interesting and expensive movie/tv rights to the shows it’s allowed to have on their service. They had to make exclusive “pay TV window” deals with both major and midline studios that offered certain streaming rights, which (mind you) are different than distribution rights.

Now we see Netflix start making their own films. They first started out with House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright Penn as the “thick as thieves” husband and wife political duo and Americans went bonkers over it. Then came Orange is the New Black and Americans went bonkers over that too. Then shows like Daredevil (which I went bonkers over!) and Jessica Jones, Bloodline, and Marco Polo. They also came out with comedy like the series follow up to Wet Hot American Summer, and Fuller House. Netflix has a boat ton of kids shows that are all original. They also picked up a few series that got canceled like Longmire, The Killing, and Arrested Development. We also see Netflix making feature films as well.

What’s next for Netflix?

So…what is next for Netflix? As of right now, Netflix services over 190 countries world-wide. They have over 70 million subscribers. They are also coming out with about 70 or so new TV shows and about 30 new feature films. Wow! And that doesn’t include documentaries, specials, or mini-series. So, wow, again!

In my opinion, Netflix is taking over the world, but that’s not it. They’re taking over cable TV, all I watch on cable is the news, but there are so many other channels/outlets for that. They’ve taken over Hollywood, well kinda, they are making a lot of movies and TV shows, and quite frankly I can’t remember the last good movie that came out of Hollywood. So, Netflix started as a mail service, it would drop a DVD in your mailbox and you could return it whenever you were finished watching it. Now, Netflix is a global company that’s worth more than CBS. And I don’t think this monolithic multi-media giant has any intention of slowing down. Hey, it works for me as long as I can watch my programs!!

And the top T.V. shows list continues…

Only this time, it’s the top tv shows ever, of all time! I know, I know..how can you really tell what the greatest tv shows of all time are? Well…I’ll start by saying this… these TV shows are the ones I love the most and have watched them over and over again.

So, a few guidelines for this:

  • The TV shows have to be over, that means no more episodes to come, otherwise it could end up sucking well after this post is already written
  • There will be no sitcoms in this list, not to say there might not be comedy (actually there probably won’t be), but no sitcoms
  • This can be both cable network TV shows and premium channel TV shows, obviously channels like HBO and Showtime have some really kickass shows

That’s it for the guidelines. But one quick note, I couldn’t get the ordered list to go from 5 to 1, so it goes from 1 to 5, however, this is a countdown. Out of my top five favorite TV shows, number 1 here, is actually my number 5, get it? Ok, cool! Without further ado, let’s just get right to it.

The Top TV Shows Ever

  1. Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014): Hands down, the best motorcycle club TV show ever. I actually think this might be the only motorcycle club TV show ever, but I’d have to think about it. Well, there is American Chopper and CHiPs, but those don’t compare to the ultimate motorcycle club show. SOA was just awesome! It follows the lives of the men of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Originals), yeah…it’s a mouthful. Sons of Anarchy Everything rotated around a little town called Charming (a fictional town located somewhere outside San Fransisco), it’s where SAMCRO was headquartered and their fearless leader, Jackson “Jax” Teller (well, not until season 5), took care of business. This show had just about every known criminal element in it: Motorcycle gangs, the IRA, the Mexican Drug Cartels, street gangs, white supremacists, and more! As the seasons progressed, we see a lot of crazy shit happen. The club kills its own president, Jax kills his own mother because she killed Jax’s wife. Oh, the bloodshed! But it was well done, and well worth the hours I spent watching it! Bravo, FX, bravo!
  2. Carnivàle (2003 – 2005): This is one you may not be familiar with because it was only on HBO for 2 short seasons, but man, it had quite the impact on me! Carnivàle takes place amidst the Great Carnivàle tv show Depression and Dust Bowl era. It follows one lone carnival team of misfits, weirdos, bearded ladies, psychics, and more (aptly named Carnivàle). In the first episode, the carnival stops in a town called Milfay where they pick up a young man named Ben Hawkins. Ben is a healer, but doesn’t understand the magnitude of his power until Management (the unknown entity that runs Carnivàle) tells him what’s he’s capable of. The other story line follows a preacher that has his own special powers, which are seeing people’s darkest secrets and bringing them to light. The ending episode brings these two stories together and culminates in a show down between good and evil! It’s just a super cool exploration of the powers that man could possess if they weren’t actually men, lol! And the fact that it’s got Carnies, and takes place during the Great Depression, just makes this show so much worth watching. It’s cool, creepy, suspenseful, and has an awesome ending!
  3. Dexter (2006 – 2013): Ah — the killer of killers, the man of all men, Dexter! Yeayah! This show was awesome for a couple of different reasons. 1). Dexter gets soooo much justice. I mean, he really does. He goes after the bad guys!! Granted, he’s a bad guy, but not really. 2). Dexter is a serial Dexter's face wrapped in plastic wrapkiller…with morals, he’s got a moral code. Granted, his father had to instill that into him over years and years of practice, but he finally got it! The show really does make you root for the serial killer. Dexter works as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, where each season he encounters new enemies and serial killers. He also has to keep an eye out for his crazy sister, played by the lovely Jennifer Carpenter, and his girlfriend who has her own baggage as well as some kids that love Dexter. But every season brings another overarching story line, while Dexter still manages to kill on a weekly basis. Scouting out killers, he gets absolute proof of their ungodly deeds, and then wrapping them in plastic on a murder board where he usually yields a weapon that’s fitting for that particular prey. All in all, it’s provocatively suspenseful and wonderfully amusing. And I must say, I didn’t mind the ending. Everyone seems to have hated this ending, but not I! I actually thought it was rather befitting. Everyone thinks Dexter dies in the hurricane, but he fakes his own death and gets to continue doing what he does best…kill killers!
  4. Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013): Say my name…I’m the man that killed Gus Fring.  Walter White, the most deadliest chemist to ever have graced our living rooms! This TV show was almost number one, almost! When it first started, I didn’t know what to think of it. Here’s this high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer, and he wants to leave his family with some cash before he dies. Well…we all know how that turned out. Instead of doing what he set out to do, Walter White became the meth kingpin of Albuquerque. Going up against mid level dealers first, then taking on the cartel themselves, and finally ending in a hail of gunfire with the white supremacist gang he hired for muscle. Wow, was this show just fantastic. The acting was phenomenal. WalterWhite&JessePinkmanBryan Cranston was superb in his role as the unassuming chemist morphing into the bad-ass Heisenberg. And then there was Aaron Paul, as Jesse Pinkman, so conflicted about his role in Walter White’s transformation and the bodies that start dropping, he starts using and abusing the drug they’re cooking up. The dynamic between the two of these characters really made for great television. I believe they both won some Emmy’s, as well they should! I’m not sure America will ever have a show quite like this for years, if not decades, to come.
  5. The Wire (2002 – 2008): And the number one spot goes to…..The Wire! If you haven’t seen this series, then you really have no idea what you are missing out on. This TV show is by far, hands down, the best television show ever written in the history of TV. I know, bold statement, right? Just watch the show. It’s an in-depth character study of the people and life on the streets of big bad Baltimore. the police of the tv show 'the wire'All 5 seasons follow the players of the West Baltimore drug trade and the street level dealers. But each season is a different aspect of Baltimore infrastructure; Season 1 is the police, season 2 is the Baltimore port (the docks), season 3 is the politics, season 4 the school system, and season 5 the newspaper. So each season we see new faces and new characters among the old ones. Major characters will die off halfway through a season, it’s crazy. But for the most part it shows the efforts the police take to stop the drug dealers and the discipline the dealers adhere to to not get caught. It’s written by a guy who used to work for the newspaper in Baltimore and report on the police beat. It’s such a realistic view of life in Baltimore (actually, I have no idea because I’ve only driven through Baltimore), but from what I’ve heard The Wire hits really close to home for Baltimore street life. The series even uses real reformed criminals as some of the characters. There are literally dozens and dozens of characters in this series to name. But here are a few: McNulty – the hard drinking and whoring police detective that constantly pisses off his bosses; Bubbles – the drug addicted street merchant with a heart of gold who runs around all day selling whatever he can to get his fix; Omar – actually based on a real person, is the homosexual stick-up artist who robs drug dealers and whistles “the cheese stands alone” as a mantra when he’s on the warpath; Herc and Carver – the two street busting cops who are stupid yet smart at the same time; Avon Barksdale – the drug kingpin of West Baltimore whothe drug dealers of the tv show 'the wire' gets sentenced to prison time in season one; Bodie – one of Barksdale’s soldiers; Ronnie – the pretty DA woman who litigates the drug dealers and falls in love with Lieutenant Daniels, the African-American rising star of the police force, but still has a little dirt on him; Kima Greggs – the lesbian cop who isn’t ready to settle down; Stringer Bell – the gentleman business gangster and the right hand man of Avon; Lester Freamon – the real police who got put into the “evidence unit” after he ran afoul of his bosses; Marlo Stanfield – the young kingpin who takes over the Barksdale territory; Snoop – the weirdest talking Baltimore woman gangster you’ll ever hear; and the list just goes on and on and on…. But as the seasons tick by, you’ll be surprised at every turn because those who deserve it in this show, rarely ever get it in the end, but isn’t that how life goes? I’ve watched this series a few times and every time it gets better and better! Oh, and Method Man’s in it and he plays a real prick….he gets it in the end!

I know what you are thinking, it must have taken me a long time to watch all those episodes, and you’re right, it did. But every hour sure was worth it! I live vicariously through the characters on these television shows as I imagine most any of us do. I hope you enjoyed the list I put together for you and I hope you agree with at least one of these TV shows being on your top 5 list of all time! Let me know!

Technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories

I am totally enthralled with the Amazon Prime original series The Man in the High Castle, it’s ah-mazing and edge-of-your-seat kinda good! Seriously, check it out. But as I sit here and watch, completely enamored with what’s about to come, it dawns on me…. I have my laptop open. How can I be enthralled when the screen I’m looking at is partially blocked by another screen with a brighter contrast (*reminder to turn down my blue light now!)?

   …Technology is everywhere…

It’s there…all the time, where ever we turn. We wake up to an alarm on our smartphone or a buzz on our FitBit. We watch the morning news on our television while we surf articles on our iPad mini. We work all day behind a laptop or a desktop connected to our peers, bosses, coworkers, and friends. We drive to destinations using our GPS, we find destinations using our voices through the advent of intelligent assistants like Siri and Cortana.  Then we “veg” in front of our TV’s watching the latest episode of House of Cards and trying to beat our Angry Birds highest score on our Androids, while stalking our friends on Facebook and Instagram. Technology just isn’t in our culture…it is our culture.

So, I started looking at how I really used technology. And the above paragraph is a pretty accurate assessment. Except, I don’t play games on my smartphone (not much of a game-goer). But technology (because I work in it) is my career, without it, I could not do my job. Could any of us? But separated from work, which we all know is hard to do, how was I using technology?

Well…let’s just say I’ve let it take my life over. I’m texting my friend from WordCamp while I’m grocery shopping. I’m checking my Facebook idled at a red light, I’m looking up “where do I know that actor from?” on my iPad while I’m watching a movie. Technology consumes me…..but I see it consume a lot of people my age. Even my mother plays her puzzle games on her iPad while watching the evening news.

And that’s only one piece of the puzzle of technology in our culture…

The other piece are the feelings, the emotions, and the perceptions. People say all the time that they don’tPeople at a bar on their cellphones let technology affect them, but that’s not true at all.  I see people bogged down with technology at restaurants, too busy intrigued by what their childhood crush is doing at that very moment online to order their food and enjoy the process of eating out with real-life friends.

I hear people say (and write) on Facebook (and other social channels) that they “won’t let other people take them down” or “they aren’t going to worry about what others think of them.” Yet I’ll see from that same person they’ve written some long diatribe that counteracts their statements, and I’m not sure they realize it. Then I’ll read the comments and I’ll see that they definitely didn’t realize it. But here I am reading this rant and these comments and the feelings are all too real. Technology affects us all and in different ways.

Facebook rant image

Let’s look at the opposite end of that. Something really cool happens and we post it online. I bought a new motorcycle and instead of just going for a ride, I take pictures of it and post it on Facebook (this, I’ve actually been guilty of). Is my excitement from getting the motorcycle and the freedom you feel when you ride it? Or is it from showing it off to my online community of “friends”? Maybe both? Not sure if I’ll ever know. We take pictures, we say words to get validation or make a point. But is that point made, or that validation received? Or is that only our perception?

Technology is the vehicle for how we drive our lives and relationships forward

It’s a place we live—online, connected, available, vulnerable. It is, truly, the way most people validate their lives now—through the lens of a blue light. We celebrate our birthday’s online, our promotions at work, our child’s first step. It’s all super important online, what our friends and our peers think about these things, and how that makes us feel. But it should be about how we actually feel about these things.

But obviously, there is a flip-side to all that, as there is in life! People are sharing more than ever online, which can be a good thing depending on the contribution. We have access to information that was never possible before. People display their art, their music, their screenplay, their creativity, their passions all online. And that can be beautiful.

But as I sit here and reread these words, I realize yet another truth, that technology’s burdens to me could be someone else’s beauty….and vice versa.

So, when you’re online, do what you feel is right. Keep it in or out. Wake up to it, or not. Be connected all day or only a small fraction of the day. The reality is that there is no way around it, it’s there and will always be now. As time continues to move forward, those of us who remember what life was like without a computer will slowly fade. And our culture will forever be connected to technology.

In the words of Laurie Anderson, “technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories.”   

I wanna tell some goods ones and contribute to the culture, what do you want to tell?

A new series on my favorite TV shows, aww yeah!!

*Disclaimer: Friends will not be on this list*

Hahahaha – I can’t stop laughing!! Why didn’t I think of this sooner! I’m not sure, I guess my first love has always been movies. What you can’t wrap up in an hour and a half, shouldn’t be filmed, ya know? Wrong!! There are some really great TV shows that I remember growing up. They carried me through my childhood, were my best friends, also my worst enemies, and at times my most non-judgmental babysitter. They are my top 5 TV shows – The 90’s – yup, that’s right!

MUPPET BABIES, 1984-1991
Muppet Babies!

But let me clarify – I’m going to call out TV shows between the years 1990 and 1999 with a grace period of 2 years – because let’s face it…if I do shows pre-1988, well…I was 7 (and younger), I’d most likely reference shows like Thundercats, He-man, and the Muppet Babies. Which, mind you, were all great TV shows, but maybe that’s a post for another day—my Top 5 TV Show List – The Toddler Years.

So, moving on to the list! And let me start by saying there were some real contenders here. My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, The Wonder Years, Party of Five, Martin, Quantum Leap, the list goes on. I had to dig deep, way back to the fringes of my pop-cultured subconscious to come up with this list. Read on, my friends, and prosper. Let the journey begin.

Drum roll…..please….no particular order.

The Top 5 TV Shows:

The 1990’s
  1. Seinfeld (1989-1998): Could you not see this coming? Well, you should have! It’s a show about nothing, so how could it not be the best? Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. Some of the most sincere people I ever had the pleasure of watching from the outside. I mean, these guys are really pitiful. They complain, they nitpick, they can’t settle down, they push kids and old ladies out of the way when the kitchen’s on fire. They are, in essence, all of us…..well, maybe that’s harsh. But they’re most of us, and man are they right on!seinfeld crewSo – here is the whole crew, in their own craziness, but by God, I love them. Each and everyone of them! For those of you who don’t know, they all end up in prison for one year for violating the Good Samaritan law (they taped a fat guy getting robbed by another guy with his hand in his pocket, while making fun of the guy who was getting robbed). Seinfeld, hands down, one of the best TV sitcoms ever!
  2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1991 – 1995): ….In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days…I pulled up to a house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the cabbie “yo, holmes, smell ya later..” Man, I could sing that song all day. And I did…and it drove my mom crazy! But here was a show that caught me right between my adolescence and early teenage years. I wanted to be Will, I was in love with Hilary, Uncle Phil was cool in his own way. There were two Aunt Vivian’s, which I always thought was weird, but that wasn’t really the focal point, was it? No! It was Carlton, the whitest white person ever! Just kiddin’! Overall, this show was full of laughter and joy and comedy. But there were some serious ones. Like the episode when Will got shot and Carlton started packing, but it was still kinda funny! Also the episode where Will’s dad comes back and then doesn’t take him on the road trip. I think this has been classified as one of the saddest Fresh Prince scenes ever!
    But it was still a great TV show, great show! And I’ll still haven’t stopped singing the theme song!
  3. The X-Files (1993 – who knows): The X-FilesDo—doo—do—doo—do—dooo (*insert whistling). Scully and Mulder are so hot right now! Yeah, buddy! I always knew they would bring this show back. It was just too good to let go. Aliens, the supernatural, El Chupacabra, more aliens, weird stuff, more weird stuff, this show was (is) awesome! With a capital AWE!! On every episode some mystical, unexplainable thing would take place, it would usually start with a murder or an abduction – Fox would come up some crazy theory on how it actually happened (and he’d be right!), then Scully would defunct it with her own scientific train of thought (which would be bullshit!). Now, on top of the cool, mysterious episodes there was this overarching storyline of Mulder’s sister who was abducted by aliens, but….well now that I think of it, I can’t remember what happened. There was a guy who smoked a lot, I know that! Ah… who cares—cause it’s back now! Sah-weet!!!
  4. Home Improvement (1991 – 1999): Tim “The Toolman” Taylor and his grunt (Ooo, oough, ough) was the only reason to watch this show because, let’s face it, he was a man’s man! Tim has Tim "The Toolman" Taylor and Alhis own home improvement show within the sitcom. Kind of like a show within a show. He would try to fix things, break stuff, and then Al would come to the rescue! Al was cool too, but in a square kinda way. And Mr. Wilson (I think his name was Wilson Wilson) who would solve all of Tim’s problems, but we would never see his face! And there was Jill, played by Patricia Richardson, she was an intelligent woman and we have no idea what she was doing with Tim (well…that’s not true, he was the man and he had his own show called “Tool Time”). The show dealt with all types of issues especially surrounding the 3 children. I stopped watching this show like halfway through the series because I got to a point where I feel like I out grew it, but from about 91 to 95, I totally dug it! And I think it won some awards, like Golden Globes. I wonder where the kids are now!
  5. Ally McBeal (1997 – 2002): I watched this show in my high school years, there was something other worldly about this show. Something…special. It was out there, if you know what I mean? Ally, she was this young lawyer working at the Boston law firm, Cage and Fish. On her first day of work she finds out that she’ll be working with her ex-boyfriend (who she’s still in love with) and that he has a fiancé who is also a lawyer! Oh boy!! But there was weird stuff going on in this TV show like a unisex bathroom (weird, right?), Ally fainting when she met people, the fantasy sequences, and then the endless romance and dating of everyone in the firm, man!! But when I was 17, I loved it! Absolutely loved it, and then in walks Lucy Liu – and I still love her, to this very day (can’t get enough of Elementary). Ling Woo was apparently not only a breakout role for Liu, but it signified the beginning of a strong Asian woman in television, so that’s cool!Cast of Ally McBealEither way, the show was enjoyable to watch and different than anything I had seen on TV up until that point. If you haven’t had a chance to check this show out, see if Netflix is streaming it!

So, all in all, those are the top 5 TV shows I remember from the 90’s. You may not like anyone of these, and that’s okay! Some of you may like every single one of them, and that’s okay too! But, on another note, it was difficult to whittle down this list, so I think this will be a series like I said in the beginning. Greatest TV shows – The Toddler Years. Top TV shows on Netflix streaming, etc. – I can do a lot there!

Peace out!

 

 

As you all may know, I am a huge fan of movies. From comedies to dramas, action flicks to super scary horror flicks, RomComs to film noir, documentaries to featured box-office motion pictures. I wrote a post on my Top 5 Movies of all time, which readers seemed to like. So, I promised to do an encore of the honorable mentions. I’ve given this some serious thought, went back through my movie mind rolodex and came out with some good ones that didn’t quite break the top 5 spots, but came just outside.

And the award goes to…

  1. Scent of a Woman: Hoo-hah! This unique drama unfolds in one of the greatest cities in the world — New York. But it starts in New Hampshire at an all-boys boarding school known as ‘The Baird School’ — super prestigious for young-uns to attend. Especially Charlie (played by Chris O’Donnell way before NCIS: Los Angeles), because Charlie is unlike the other boys and actually needs to find himself work over the Thanksgiving break and in walks Al Pacino.Scent-of-a-Woman-1992-Tango-scent-of-a-woman-3350187-600-900 One of his finest performances—he won an oscar for this role—Lt. Colonel Frank Slade. He’s not a nice guy, he’s totally blind, likes to drink Jack Daniels, loves woman, and is on a mission to kill himself. I know, kinda morbid, right? Throughout the movie the two become intertwined, each teaching the other something different. They go on “a tour, of sorts.” But all in all, Charlie shows the Colonel a different side of life and Frank teaches Charlie about life! There are a few really awesome scenes in this move: The Tango Dance, Driving a Lamborghini, Frank’s brother’s Thanksgiving dinner, and the end scene when the Colonel sticks up for Charlie at his school hearing.

    “If I were the man I was five years ago, I’d take a flamethrower to this place!”

    If you haven’t seen it, watch it, you’ll like it!

  2. Candyman: I have been on a mission since I can remember to find that one horror flick that really scares the sh!t out of me. Needless to say, I have yet to find one, but this next honorable mention comes super close. Candyman.. Candyman.. Candyman.. Candyman… not gonna say it again! This is a borderline B-movie, but it’s creepily eerie and fantastically frightening. It’s based in Chicago in the Cabrini-Green housing projects. This educated woman (played by Virginia Madsen) is doing a thesis on urban myths and legends (go figure) and she’s heard of the Candyman. As the movie goes on we learn that Candyman was a black artist, in love with a white woman, and was lynched because of it. He has a hook for a hand, a deep dark voice, and he’s followed by bees. candyman-hookThey call him Candyman because of the way he was lynched. Apparently, his killers spread honey on him and he was stung by a boat ton of bees, not a good way to go!! So, he wreaks havoc on anyone who doubts his existence, and obviously, there’s plenty of those people. Oh yeah, and the score for this film just adds to the eeriness, the music is like this orchestral deep string symphony, it’s super freaky! You want a good scare – watch Candyman. But don’t say his name 5 times in a mirror….because he’ll get you too!
  3. Groundhog Day: Bill Murray at his finest, I mean, really! His. Finest.

    “Ok, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties cause it’s cooold out there today.”

    There are soooo many good lines in this movie. Mostly all of them are spoken by Bill Murray. And the concept of the movie is just whimsical. Imagine living the same day over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. I don’t know if that would be completely awesome or completely awful.Bill Murray - Groundhog Day But Phil (Bill Murray) starts the movie off as kind of a dick. He’s a reporter and people don’t really like him in person. Then he travels to Pawxatuney, Philadelphia (I think it’s a fake place, but I could be wrong) where he covers the ‘Groundhog seeing his shadow’ story. The only problem is, he wakes up day after day to the same day. “What if there is no tomorrow, there wasn’t one today.” Then, in true Murray fashion, he finally realizes that he’s been a dick and changes. He lives the day as best he can, but after a bunch a days where he tries all this hilarious stuff. Comedy ensues, he kidnaps a groundhog, and then finally falls in love. And finally moves on from Groundhog Day.

  4. Full Metal Jacket: This is actually the first R-rated movie I ever saw! I remember thinking “wow, there sure are a lot of swears in this movie,” but man, what a flick! I don’t think this list would be compete without having a military movie in the mix. Full Metal Jacket is about the nitty gritty Marine training bootcamp and then the subsequent Vietnam War. It was pretty gruesome. The Marines pick on this one soldier (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) aptly named Sergeant Pyle. FullMetalJacketHe’s not carrying his weight and they throw him a ‘shower’ party, which is where the take soap wrapped in their socks, wrap him in a blanket so he can’t get up, and beat him senseless with the soap. There are really two acts to this movie. One, the bootcamp part. I think it gives a really accurate glimpse of what bootcamp was like in the 60’s. The Drill Sergeant (played by R. Lee Ermey) was phenomenal. He really captures the essence of the world’s most badass drill sergeant. And then Sergeant Pyle offs him with his Full. Metal. Jacket. Then he offs himself, which is hard-core to watch! Then there’s the Vietnam War (Act Two) which follows Joker (one of the other soldiers) on his journey through Vietnam. It’s a pretty long movie, but if you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend that you do! It’s well worth the watch.
  5. The Never-Ending Story: This is a story within a story. This movie actually starts off with a little boy named Bastian, he’s running from his bullying classmates and hides in a bookstore. There’s an old man with a really old looking book. He tells Bastian that it’s magical
    Never Ending Story Book
    Really old looking book

    and not to take it, but the kid takes it anyway. He hides up in an attic and starts reading, the neverending story begins. It’s about Atreyu, a warrior, in a far off fantasy world that’s run by a princess. The ‘Nothingness’ is destroying everything there, eating it up and spitting it out. So, Atreyu, along with this horse—Artax, they try to defeat the Nothingness through a long journey to the heart of it. They meet all these different characters and creatures. There’s a flying dragon—Falcor, sneezing giant turtles, the swamps of sadness, and this crazy scary wolf that embodies the Nothingness. Atreyu and the Wolf duke it out in the end. But the princess needs Bastian’s (coming full circle) help. Obviously, he helps. Then that cool dragon comes to “the real world” and scares off Bastian’s classmates. I loved this movie when I was a kid, love it! And if you haven’t checked it out, you’re never too old to watch it. That’s why it’s called ‘never-ending.’

There are many many more movies that belong in this list, but to make it more manageable for me, I’ll have to segment in groups of five. I think that’s fair!

Anyways, hope you enjoyed the breakdown of my honorable mentions. There will definitely be more to come.

The Xennials: A Micro-Generation of In-Betweeners

November 7, 2015
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So, as I’m sure some of you may have heard, or read, or seen somewhere online, be it social media, or a chain email (if you still get those), the idea of this micro-generation between Generation X and Millennials known as Xennials. I always thought this was Generation Y (my generation!), but I guess I was wrong as people believe that GenY is, in fact, the Millennial Generation. It’s believed that GenY was just an oversight, or under-sight, however you’d like to classify it is fine with me. The reality is there has been quite a bit of controversy around this subject as of late. I’ve been reading more and more articles on what peoples’ opinions are surrounding this non-existent, imagined, and underwhelmed generation. Yet, here I am, and here we are! We stand together, however far a part we may be, those of us born between 1978 and 1984, have got to be recognized. Because it is us GenY-ers, now known as Xennials, that made the transition between Generation X and Millennials possible. We are the Homo naledi that bridged the evolution of big generations together. We are, essentially, the missing piece that allows every other piece to fit nicely together in the puzzle of America’s living generations.

“And these children that spit on you, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations – they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” – David Bowie

Taking a look at the Living Generations…

Let’s start with a quick history lesson of the generations that are still represented in this nation right now. There is usually common ground amongst the “generation and generation gap” experts with the first four representative generations.

They are:

  1. G.I. Generation (1901-1926) – Needless to say, this generation is super old! But there are still a few left, and I would like to tip my hat to these people because, let’s face it, they’re awesome! They are considered the “Great Generation.” They fought the Great War and survived while never speaking a word about what they saw or experienced. They raised their families in the Great Depression and persevered in the face of overwhelmingly hard times.  They built an incredible infrastructure for our nation and never took credit for it. They’re loyal, honest, hard-working people, and I hope we don’t forget this generation. They deserve to be remembered, and remembered well.
  2. The Silents (or The Matures) (1927- 1945) – Considered the nation’s last innocent generation, they were a little quieter than their GI predecessors (hence silents). They didn’t make a huge splash and they didn’t have much to say. They got corporate jobs, they lived normal lives, and their dreams were that of the “true American dream” – getting married, buying a house, having kids, and retiring well. They listened to Big Band music, they read the newspaper every morning, and they were cautious people.

  3. Baby Boomer Social Security CardBaby Boomers 
    (1946-1964) Ahhh, my parents…your parents… all of our parents. The Baby Boomers boomed and, apparently, they did it in two different styles. 1). The love and peace revolutionaries of the 60’s/70’s. 2). The career-climbing Yuppies (young urban professionals) of the 70’s/80’s. I love this generation, there was so much diversity! There were hippies and hard workers. Woodstock, civil rights, and climbing the company ladder. Rock and roll was huge and non-violent protests were popping up all over the country on college campuses. They were the “me” generation and a generation of firsts. The first TV generation, the first divorce generation. They are now considered the Golden generation in the workforce, many of them close to retirement, but most of which will not retire at 65. The differing decades they’ve lived have made them incredibly wise and incredibly important.
  4. Generation X (1965-1980) – Also known as the “latchkey kids,” they were left to fend for themselves. Street smart, but closed off. Partied all night, but still got up in the morning. They were individuals, there was no “greater good,” there was only themselves. They were the forgotten ones, the ones that society left by the wayside. They did drugs in high school, cut class more than any generation and listened to the Sex Pistols, INXS, and Tears for Fears. They abhorred big business, didn’t care for the government, and at times, even hated themselves for being born. The were creative kids that gave way to real jobs, and they’ll have an average of 7 careers in their lifetime.

Now this is where it gets a little confusing…..and interesting!

According to many, the next generation is the Millennial generation, some call it “the first-wave” Millennial generation. Well, I think that’s crap! But for continuity, here are the remaining two generations:

5.  Millennials (1981-2001) – There are so many things we could call this generation – the 9/11 Generation, the Echo Boomers, the Boomerang Generation, some say GenY, others call it the MTV Generation (I disagree with these last two). They lived in an era of fast falling crime rates all over the nation. They had parents who wanted to be present and involved. They prefer to work in teams and collaborate with one another. They keep impeccable schedules, they have an overly optimistic outlook on life in a dim, no-real-prospective-opportunity reality. They get all their information from the internet. Libraries don’t exist. They sexted growing up, they had mobile phones in high school. Britney Spears was their idol, along with the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees (or is it 97 Degrees? Doesn’t matter!) They’re hopeful, they process the world as fast as they can, they’ve been told their uber special and expect something for nothing. They’re spoiled, and they don’t give a shit.


6. Boomlets (born after 2001) – I had never heard of this before, some call this generation Generation Z (cute!) or the Technology Generation. Apparently, they will change the way the American melting pot is viewed in terms of behavior and culture. Most of them will grow up with TV’s in their bedroom. They will have never known a world without computers. They will always be connected. Their status in life will be determined by how many Twitter followers they have and how many Instagram likes they acquire. Apparently, they will also be tired of hearing about “saving the planet” – known as Eco-fatigue, they won’t give a shit about recycling. This is the generation that will no longer have a childhood that’s played outside or played with toys, they won’t explore the woods and neighborhoods close to their homes. They’ll be in front of the computer and their parents will call it “learning.”


Childhood by the Lake

My Childhood:

Time for Adam to add his two cents…or three.

I have fond memories of my childhood. A time without technology and without the worries of everyday life. We played flashlight tag, and “guns & commandos” in the woods next to my house. I was able to pickup the phone and dial my friends’ numbers by rote memorization.

I remember how excited I was when my sister and I discovered we actually got MTV on our television set (and how disappointed my parents were with that discovery). I think the first video I ever watched was Runaway Train by Soul Asylum. We were the MTV Generation, we watched movies like The Breakfast Club and The Goonies 10 years after they were released and fell in love with them. We grew up with one computer, we had to use the phone to connect with the internet (dial-up). We had one TV, and we fought with each other because we all wanted to watch something different. Full-House, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then as we aged we watched shows like Blossom, My So-Called Life, and Dawson’s Creek. And we ate dinner as a family, but still went outside afterwards.

Talking ’bout my generation:

My generation is different, I assure you that! And we, cannot be lumped into these above buckets. I had angst as a teenager and believed in my individualism, but always knew there was the greater good. When I went to high school, cell phones where used by stock brokers, and they were enormous, I mean, seriously, they were as huge as your face and you could not fit them in your pocket. I remember I bought a beeper and thought I was the coolest kid ever! Man, did those things go outta style quick. I had a walkman, for years! And I used it, for years! I always knew technology was important, but I never really cared about it until much later in life. I have a lot of friends on Facebook, but let’s face it, I probably only keep in touch with 10 people on there. I still read books and consider them timeless gems, they will be the art of our generation and eventually become precious commodities (in fact, I’ve always wanted to write a novel about the dying breed of books, but I’m sure that’s probably been done before!). We grew up as the in-betweeners, and that’s a great place to be. The middle child, not too high, not too low. We weren’t experimented on and we weren’t held too tight. We were in the right spot at the right time and will always be able to adapt and change with the evolving tide.

For those of you who were born in between 1978 and 1984, you are the Xennials, and you will forever have the upper hand in the generational flow because you’ve lived the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Stand with me now, and stake your claim, we are here to stay!