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Category Archives: technology

21st Century Frights

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It’s that time of year when people go out of their way for a good scare. Just look at all the spooky hayrides and haunted houses. But if you think about it, there’s plenty of stuff in daily life to frighten us all the way to next Halloween. They simply need some catchy names, such as:

NIGHT OF THE EVIL GPS

TEXT MESSAGE OF TERROR

THE DOOMED HARD DRIVE

CREATURE FROM THE PLASTIC SURGEON’S OFFICE

GHOST OF THE ABANDONED VIDEO STORE

SATAN’S CHOLESTEROL TEST

INVASION OF THE VIRAL VIDEO

THE DEAD BLACKBERRY

CURSE OF THE ZOMBIE ‘FRIEND’ REQUEST

AUTOCORRECT HELL

NIGHTMARE AT THE MOBIL STATION

THE SURLY BARISTA’S REVENGE

I WAS A TEENAGE I.T. GUY

Do you dare to think of any others?

Calling All Movie Fans – Best Phones in Films

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Phone technology may have changed wildly over the past 100 years – from those nutty handsets that looked like metal daffodils to today’s sleek cells – but it hasn’t stopped screenwriters and directors from putting phones front and center at key moments in the action. Here are some of my favorite movie phone moments.

THE STORY OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1939)

Might as well start with the birth of the telephone. Don Ameche does his able best as inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who makes the first successful phone call when he spills a chemical on his lap and inadvertently phones his assistant, Mr. Watson (Henry Fonda),  in another room.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)

This is more like it. In one of the best films of all time, Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant play fast-talking newshounds who make a row of old phones look like cutting-edge technology. They swing those handsets around like samurai swords, carrying on multiple conversations at lightning speed.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart played one of the most romantic phone scenes in movie history here, when they shared an earpiece and receiver. Makes you wonder how many potential relationships have been spoiled by speakerphone.

DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954)

A fateful phone call is the centerpiece of  Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant thriller. A devious husband (Ray Milland) has blackmailed a thug to murder his unfaithful wife (Grace Kelly). The murder is set to  take place when the wife answers the phone, except …

PILLOW TALK (1959)

This silly film about gender politics and double identities grows sillier and more odd with each passing year. That said, it is undeniably iconic in its look and sensibility – including its enthusiastic use of the split-screen phone call.

FAIL-SAFE (1964)

This, for a generation, was the ultimate phone call: The one between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. that would determine whether global nuclear war would occur. Our old friend Fonda plays the American president who must come to terms with the Soviet premier as warheads threaten the world. What’s terrific here is the cold, unfeeling vibe the phone itself exudes.

ANNIE HALL (1977)

Amid the many killer jokes in “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen includes two great phone bits. One is the way Tony Roberts keeps calling his office to tell his “people” where he can be reached. The other is Jeff Goldblum’s cameo as a guy calling his therapist because he can’t remember his mantra.

THE VERDICT (1982)

What an incredible actor Paul Newman was. I’ve watched this film many times and I always marvel at Newman’s total commitment as a washed-up attorney with one last chance at redemption. Much of the character’s desperation comes through in phone calls. Not only that, but the entire movie hinges on – wait for it – a phone bill. Swear to God. And there’s a ringing phone in the final scene that is absolutely haunting.

LOCAL HERO (1983)

Movies don’t come any sweeter than director Bill Forsyth’s story of an American oil company stooge (Peter Riegert) who is sent to purchase an entire Scottish fishing village in order to build a refinery. Scotland here is a magical realm, and the only connection to the corrupt, wider world is this little phone booth.

WALL STREET (1987)

Far from a great movie, but it speaks strongly to a particular American era. Never before, and never after, would you see those dopey, gigantic mobile phones.

GOODFELLAS (1990)

For another view of phone booths, check out Martin Scorsese’s mob masterpiece (okay, ONE of his mob masterpieces). Robert DeNiro beats the crap out of this phone booth, after getting some sad news about poor Joe Pesci.

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)

It’s kind of a perfect, profane time capsule of great writing and acting. David Mamet’s penetrating drama about shabby real estate salesmen just oozes with delusion and deception. All the icky sales calls are just icing on a rancid cake.

SCREAM (1996)

Give Drew Barrymore her due. She nailed this scene in the ironic/iconic  horror flick “Scream.” Tell me it didn’t give you a chill when Ghostface asked, “What’s your favorite scary movie?”

THE MATRIX (1999)

Let me be clear. I love “The Matrix.” Love it. But there’s something hilarious and crazy about the way so much of this film revolved around trying to find a decent landline.

PHONE BOOTH (2002)

The third of our phone booth trilogy, this one I think does a great job of using phone technology to make a point about how exposed we feel as individuals in an increasingly-watchful society. Then again, I could be way off. It’s a Colin Farrell thriller, after all.

THE DEPARTED (2006)

To me, this is the best use of the modern phone in a major film. Another Scorsese mob picture (this one set in Boston), it allows its characters to use their cell phones just as often as real people do. There’s even texting! But you know what I liked most? The way Jack Nicholson’s mob boss opened and closed his cell in an aggressive manner that completely mirrored his King Of All Men attitude.

So those are my picks. What are yours? This is The Jimbo List, signing off.

9 Facebook Changes We Never Want to See

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People are still fuming about the recent changes to Facebook, but it could have been a lot worse. Here are some new features and changes we really would have hated.

SQUIRMVILLE – Friends, relatives and co-workers pay a fee to rummage through your old posts about them.

POKES PLUS – When someone pokes you, you actually feel a sharp pain in your side.

SCROLL OF SHAME – Continuous scroll of every embarrassing nickname or taunt you’ve ever received.

ACEBOOK-FAY – At random intervals, everything on your Facebook wall is changed to Pig Latin.

NEW GROUPS GALORE – Includes “People You’ve Been in Car Accidents With,” “Dudes Who Share Your Middle Name,” and “Other People Who Like Dinty Moore Beef Stew.”

LOOK WHAT YOU’RE MISSING – Fun activities of people who unfriended you now appear at the top of your news feed.

LIKES?YIKES! – Suddenly all the music, movies and activities listed on your info page revert to what they would have been when you were 14. Starland Vocal Band anyone? Anyone?

SUPERCHAT – Every five minutes, a friend is invited to chat about a) the weather b) their vacation or c) the weather during their vacation.

CLICK THIS – The pointing index finger symbol is replaced by a pointing middle finger.

Feel better now?

 

Dog Days of Summer Hashtags

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Sometimes, a Twitter hashtag says everything you need to know about a person’s state of mind. These are a few hashtags I expect to see shortly.

#mosquitoesareevil

#sickofmylawn

#imisslongsleeves

#mydadneedsamint

#evenmysunburnissunburned

#toomanyclams

#dewpointblues

#flipflopsarekillingme

#deargodmakethebarkingstop

#mybeerturnedwarm

#swimmersitchisabitch

#neighborswithbagpipes

#forgotaboutsummerreadinglist

#whendoesschoolstart

9 Ridiculous Electric Car Names

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As much as we all want electric car technology to keep getting better, I think we also know in our hearts that good marketing is going to be just as important for success. Manufacturers would do well to avoid the following names:

Ford FZTTT

Plymouth PLUGGER

Audi OVERLOAD

Honda SOCKET

Saab SHOCK TURBO WAGON

Toyota JOLT

Subaru OUTAGE

Chrysler CORDLESS COUPE

Nissan HUMMINA

Papal Tweets I’d Like to See

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Now that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has officially tweeted, it’s only a matter of time before he learns the lingo of Twitter and allows his personality to show. Here’s what I’ll be looking for:

OMG! It’s crazy hot under this hat!

@POTUS Yes, it IS a bitchin’ set of wheels. I’ll DM you the name of my car guy.

My bad – I thought MT meant Mass Tweet

I’ll bring the wine. RT @DalaiLama Wii bowling L8R, guys?

#Crusades #clergyscandal #fail

NO! The guy who played Cliff on Cheers is NO RELATION!

Always meant to tell you, @DFlutie, nice toss.

Bless U, Tweeps!


7 Celebrity Scandals Our Grandparents Would Never Understand

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The recent misfortunes of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and his Twitter account are hardly the first time a public figure has had to explain away a potentially embarrassing situation. But it does represent a relatively recent phenomenon: activities involving the use of technology that would leave our elders wondering where they went wrong. And asking what a DVR is.

Pulling A Weiner – Using your Twitter account (or allowing a hacker) to send out a digital photo of your legislative package. See also: Favre-ing

Going Lohan – Texting in court after being caught “borrowing” items you could have paid for with the millions you earn each year. Related: Going Winona

The Full Britney – Stepping out of a limousine in a short skirt, in front of a phalanx of photographers, with no cover page for your legislative package.

Texting While Tiger – Trashing a world class career by cheating on your wife with multiple women and leaving a digital trail as long as the fairways on the back nine at Pebble Beach.

Being Balloon Boy – Pretending to accidentally launch your 6-year-old son into the atmosphere in a balloon, just to get on TV.

Setting Foot in Rex-Ville – Completely distracting your NFL team’s focus when videos pop up on the web showing you calling a blitz against a woman’s foot.

Lights! Camera! Kendra! (And Kim, Pamela, Paris, etc.) – Starring in a sex tape and later being shocked when it surfaces on the Internet.


 

9 Awful Ideas for iPhone Apps

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Sometimes there shouldn’t be an app for that. Seriously. As we hurtle ever closer to the day when there are more smartphone applications than there are people who use them, here are nine app ideas that need never see the light of day.

Poorsquare – Tells you where you’d be right now if you had more money.

GoogleErp – Digitally whisks you to the nearest spot where you’ve been violently ill.

PayPaul – Automatically sends your bookie $100 every time you think about betting on the Lakers in the playoffs.

iSHUV – Transforms any smartphone into a working meat thermometer.

GodotGo – “Waiting for Godot,” 24-7 (no waiting).

LikeLike – Inserts the word “like” into every sentence of any text message or ebook.

MugShotz – A gallery of celebrity coffee mugs.

iCoaster – Allows you to use your smartphone as a beverage tray.

TMZzzzz – Continuously updated video clips of paparazzi eating dinner alone, hunched over the kitchen sink.