Are you “App-Noxious”?

I admit it…  having a "smart phone" I have been known to whip it out in the middle of a conversation to look up some obscure fact, whether it is what movie some random actor was in or which album a deep cut was on. 

Thanks to the iPhone (which I do NOT own) and their Apps, there is now a name for people like me… "app-noxious."  Welcome to the new world where everyone is a know-it-all.. and we can double check our facts!

The Proposal That Will Shake The (comic) World

Back in the day, I was a big Archie comics fan.  I still have a lot of my old issues sitting in plastic sleeves in cardboard comic boxes, including some old issues that I acquired during my comic-collecting heyday that date back to the 50's and 60's. 

Since it dates back to my childhood, there are certain elements of the Archie mythology/lexicon that never change: Archie drives a crappy car, Jughead eats a lot while wearing a strange hat, Reggie is a jerk, and Archie is always torn between Betty and Veronica.

Today, while getting ready for work, I heard a segment on the news that shocked me: Archie comics has announced that Archie is getting married.  I thought it was a funny little segment, but I've already heard more about it than any other news item today.  People are paying attention – not just in comic discussion groups like this one, but check out this on line poll.  Wow.  A lot of discussion going on just because of a comic book character.  I'm also surprised that Betty is winning by such an overwhelming majority.  Perhaps we should take this as an example of our "anti-greed" and "back to simplicity" national temperament?  Or maybe people just think that Veronica is hot, but a bitch… 

My thought is that it won't be Betty OR Veronica.  Since the story is going to be set in the future, it is probably a means by which to introduce a new character and tell her entire back story.  Maybe they will do a "Archie goes to college" type of series.  Or maybe we'll see Archie doing keg stands and hooking up with a strange girl in the alleyway behind a club? 

Star Trek Movie and Explosions

Saw the new Star Trek movie last night – I won't do a full review, since it has been reviewed by just about ever other magazine, newspaper, and blogger out there.  Plus, I'm largely uneducated in the Star Trek oeuvre – I have never seen a full episode of the original series and just about nothing of any of the newer series.  I also haven't seen much of the movies either.  It just hasn't been one of those things that I've felt compelled to see. 

However, I'm very aware of the impact it has had on our popular culture – there are many quotes that have become part of our everyday parlance: "Set your phasers on stun," "I'm giving it all she got sir," "To boldly go where no one has gone before," "beam me up Scotty,"etc.  I'm glad to say that nearly all of them – along with the general sense of humor and self-aware kitsch – is present in the movie.  Again, not being a "Trekkie" I found the movie entertaining and thought they did a nice job explaining the origins of the crew, based on what I know.

Of course, there was a climatic space battle scene, complete with front shields fully powered and all phasers firing away at the enemy ship, resulting in massive, loud… operatic music. 

This is a trend in recent sci-fi action movies that I find disturbing – the final, climatic battle scenes aren't filled with the most mind-blowing explosive sound effects, but are instead shown along side quiet, nearly soundless clips or buried under soaring vocal choral music.  I don't get it – 100 years of sound technology development, and two hours of great sound effects, but when it counts, we get a crappy version of a Wagner throw-away or sound effects that make you wonder if the sound track is skipping. 

I say give me more – push the limit of the sound system!  I want borderline ear-bleeding effects that keep me from even thinking about what's going on.

Book Review – “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do”

Is there anything that is more a part of our everyday lives than driving?   Even if you're a die-hard pedestrian or cyclist living in the city without even owning a car, you still have to deal with them every day.  So isn't about time that someone write a book about driving?  Luckily someone has: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us).

Even better, it is a good book, though one that just may scare the daylights out of you.   I just finished it and I'm already finding myself analyzing my own driving and becoming more aware of the strange things we do when we drive.   Did you know that traffic circles (aka roundabouts, or a rotary) is safer than a traditional intersection?  But the reason it is safer is because it feels MORE dangerous, so we pay more attention.   It makes sense – you probably wouldn't think twice about driving through a four-way intersection while chatting on a cell phone, but going into a traffic circle?  "Sorry, I gotta go."  Or at least that what you SHOULD be doing.

Basically what it comes down to is this: driving is hard.  Like, ridiculously, amazingly hard.  None of us should be doing it.  There isn't a computer smart enough to handle all the things that need to be done while driving, and here we are, doing it while talking on a phone, sipping coffee, and flipping through radio stations.   We should all be dead, I tell you – DEAD!

Not only did the book appeal to my inner geek of wanting to know how things work, but it also provided some interesting insight into various cultures.  I had no idea that Belgium has such a disregard for authority (fight the power you crazy Belgians!) or that more people get hurt crossing streets LEGALLY in New York City than people who get hurt crossing illegally. 

The book does throw a lot of statistics and numbers at you – you'll never remember them all, unless you practice reading the Yellow Pages for fun, but it doesn't matter.  Vanderbilt's writing allows you to understand what he's trying to get at without having to parse out what the percentages and ratios mean – he's done the work for you and it makes for a fascinating read.

Just don't do it while driving!!!