Creatures on the Canvas: Horror Invades Art

Not for nuthin', but it seems horror is everywhere these days. I've been feeling extra ghoulish of late myself, to be honest. I guess it's because it's Halloween? Whatever the case, I'll start off by apologizing for the back-to-back bizzaro posts on bilious bloodletting and horror hysteria. Next time, I'll author a post dedicated to ponies or something.

But back to it: Today's recommendation is a real treat, both for horror film followers and fine arts fans alike. Go ahead and indulge your inner Tales from the Crypt keeper and check out this "Horror Inside Fine Art" contest by Worth 1000, courtesy of Mario Bucolo Museums Blog, a site which touts itself "a blog about museums and culture."

The contest is a whirl of digital imagination where painting, legend and film collide to provide a raison d'être for pop cultural experimentation; it is digital art at it's best, to be sure. So I say, move over MoMa! Online is where avant garde art lives today.

Anyway, scroll down through all of the Photoshop-enabled creations. “Samara Lisa” is one of my faves, as it's a wry, immaginative twist on the ubiquitous Mona Lisa painting, and out of all the Mona Lisa entries, it's by far the cleverest. “Comte de Darkness” is another one I like, mostly because I'm a big a fan of Legend. “Roticelli” is good too: It looks like the guy in Boticelli's "Portrait of a Youth" took shrapnel to the face before zombiefying, turning this classic painting on its head.

Some entries are lackluster, but whatevz; all are fun. Maybe a few of these could work as crafty Halloween costumes? What do you think? And which entry is your favorite? Let me know, creatures of the night!


Mystery Trailers Hype Gore Galore

Hands down, digital is the ideal medium to hype up and build buzz around an upcoming film, this because online allows marketers to cast a wide-enough digital net across The Long Tail, leverage behavioral targeting techniques with skill, pique curiosity, and hone in on the desired audience with laser-guided precision.

Moreover, the Internet encourages innovative, creative ways to build up a marketing campaign before a movie opens that are not plausible in traditional media and that can help ensure a first weekend box office slam-dunk. This is always a cool phenomenon to watch. I will forever be a sucker for hype, I have to admit, especially when it snowballs online.

So on this note, and after my two-second analysis of the status of online entertainment marketing, I give you three movie trailers meant to leave you with an itchy case of what-was-that whiplash:

1. REPO! The Genetic Opera. Is this a musical? Is it sci-fi? Is it splatter cinema meets musical torture porn? Whatever it is, it looks awesome. Think of it as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, only more gore, less gay. This movie is gonna blow up next year, I'm pretty sure. The fact that Paris Hilton stars (and sings!) in it is a marketing ploy that will pay off in spades. Check out the teaser trailer here.

2. Cloverfield. So no one knows the real name of this much-anticipated, J. J. Abrams-produced monster movie, but many Internets tip "Cloverfield" as the most probable title. This "what the...?" inducing trailer has been causing endless speculation in the mainstream media since it first reared its head in cinemas this past summer, playing for packed movie houses before Transformers, and it's been gaining momentum online ever since. It looks like it will offer audiences a good dose of gory goodness, or at the very least, provide moviegoers with no-frills, feel-good frights and jump-out-of-your-seat jolts. It's one for the books.

3. Mystery movie trailer. Here's a "trailer" that might probably not be a film trailer at all, but the ending is still pretty freaky. If it's not a movie, it totes should be. What the hell is this castaway building?

Handheld camera shots a lá Blair Witch, singing henchmen hell-bent on disembowelment, Internet hype and marketing mayhem. It looks like 2008 will be an interesting year for celluloid. Thoughts?


Digital Pings to Primp and Preen

Is it just me, or do you find the ping factor excessively annoying? Let me explain: Throughout the day, as I plug away at the office, I’m constantly interrupted by different types of digital notifiers calling for my attention: email alerts, meeting reminders, Google alerts, IM messages, RSS feed updates, incoming VoIP calls, virus scans, Facebook updates, and even cell phone calls and text messages.

I believe that's the entire list—I might be forgetting something. The point is, my computer sometimes feels like the 4th of July, with windows and pop ups blanketing my screen without care or compunction.

Every day, I am forced to cull through these and separate the urgent from the important from the remind-me-later, and then trash the thanks-but-not-necessary and the waste-of-my-time. I find this irksome, since it’s hard to focus on a single task at any given moment and it makes me feel like I’m treading water instead of getting any work done.

Amidst the madness, however, there’s the one-off, totally inspirational, captivating or useful blog post or e-mail that makes it all worthwhile. And if it wasn’t for computer pings, I would never remember anyone’s birthday, to be totally honest.

As I uncork the most urgent pings and follow through on these, I become decidedly glad that my computer keeps track of my obligations for me, and a sense of accomplishment settles in. After all, there’s no way I would remember everything on my own. Sure, an agenda could help I guess, but it feels crass and I would treat it askance. I need digital pings to remind me of my day-to-day commitments, to clip away at the useless, and to keep me from dropping the ball.

So what about you? Can any of you claim you don’t depend on digital pings to get through you day?


I Want My Own Reality TV Intern!

Ah, the life of interns. It can be exciting, it can be cut-throat, and sometimes, well, it can be a little degrading. It can push doors wide open when you play your cards right: If you’re lucky and skilled at jockeying for open positions, you can give yourself a shot at life in the fast lane.

The pressure is on and the stakes are set high: You know that at any moment you can severely mess things up, have an entire project go off the rails, and bring death and despair to an entire industry. Or at least that’s how it seems after watching an episode of The Hills.

Alas, interning isn’t the stuff of intense drama, at least not usually. But it can, however, shed compelling light on the ins and outs of a particular career and help you find out if you can hack it in your field of interest. And thanks to the Internet, we now have high-profile interns sharing their experiences through blogs and articles of their very own, posted on corporate websites.

If you are exploring career opportunities, I recommend you start by checking out what these up-and-comers have to say. These blogs are a unique, insider’s view at what goes on behind closed doors. Tap into them for a real treat.

My friend Claire, who’s working at Bravo TV, has started an awesome blog as part of her interning gig at Project Runway. Her posts read like the down-to-earth, thinking woman’s version of The Devil Wears Prada. Not to mention, they’re LOL funny. If you’re into style and entertainment and want to know what it’s like running into famous TV folk at the office, I sears recommend you check out her blog.

By the way, another friend of mine who works in PR just hired her own personal assistant straight out of reality TV. That's right! She now has a pseudo-famous employee at her beck and call. How cool is that? I definitely need to get my hands on one of those, fer sure. Plus, I really need an assistant. A celebrity assistant, no less. Who doesn't?


Political Automotive: Zero to 60 in 3.5?

For the past couple of days, I’ve been putting together a user-friendly glossary of vehicle parts and features for a corporate client's online help center, and as a result, I’m feeling straight-up Motor City--more so than ever before. I've suddenly turned vehemently vehicular. Automotive to the core! That's right, baby!

Ahem. Anyway, to honor this carefully cultured enthusiasm for all things Car And Driver, I felt like penning a post in tribute to that grand, global industry that’s gifted us with cruise control, hybrids, and variable valve timing (oh my!).

To look for fresh ideas, I started perusing my e-mail inbox this morning, when lo! An unread day-old message from a fellow colleague that my hurried eyes had inexplicably missed. It included a URL to a nifty little online game, created by ABC News, called Candidates and their Cars. Check it out! It's quite amusing. Do you think you know your presidential candidates? Are they being consequential with their political stance against global warming? Can you match them to their wheels? Put them and yourself to the test!

Most of these candidates drive American cars, which is always good politics, I’m sure. Those who don’t, drive hybrids, which is also a political plus. Solid. There are a couple of gas-guzzling Republicans, a Democrat with a mystery machine that runs on E85, and a lone 'vette enthusiast. One candidate purportedly drives some sort of ghetto Ford Focus. My favorite ride is McCain’s.

Anyway, go ahead and play the game. The political race is on: Will knowledge of the candidates' rides sway your voting preferences? Do you even care? Let me know!


Screenwriters Call Dibs on Profit 2.0

So Hollywood screenwriters are all up in arms about not getting enough dough from Web 2.0 and are calling a strike. Basically, they're fighting over residuals from new media and compensation over work distributed through mobile and online. They want their cut, and they want it now. The consequence is clear: If there's no settlement, the world will suddenly be devoid of those hokey scripts churned out daily out of LA that seem to keep this globe a-turnin'. Reality TV might take over for good. Reruns could rule the land.

Hmm. Ok, I get it. That could be serious. I think. But my question is: Do these copywriters know anything about Web 2.0 that they seem so adamant about collecting from it? I'm all for writers getting paid for their work, but part of me can't help but think this is just a bunch of entitled geeks gunning for the studios so they can keep pretending they're cool and influential or whatever.

My point is, if these Hollywood screenwriters understand new media so profusely, why aren't they using technology to their advantage, rallying troops online, using 2.0 to spread their word (content), and stirring up some support on the Web? And why, when things are down to the wire, haven't they been able to churn out an effective and realistic proposal to monetize their work online, aside from a percentage of DVD sales?

To me, this seems another case of old media realizing too late in the game that the Web is driving nails into their coffin; they're desperately vying to hold on to good days gone by. And producers are doing the impossible to prevent others from taking a dip in their revenue stream, whether it comes from online or off.

Old media can blow chunks, and will inevitably blow away like daffodils in a storm. Soon this will all just be a flash in the pan. Is it really that big a deal if prime time takes a hit? I don't think so. Bring on those reruns. Want to see where scriptwriting is headed? Click here for a sneak peek. It might not be award-winning work, but it evidences this much: The testing grounds for new entertainment--both from an artistic and a business standpoint--are being laid out on the pages of MySpace and YouTube, not on cable or network TV.

So what do you think? Are the screenwriters' demands totally called for, or is this just old media wriggling desperately to survive a changing landscape? Can the Internet somehow strip this strike of its intended impact?


Way Cool! 80s Pop Culture Explodes Online

Pop culture hit a high note in the 80s, fer sure. Neons and New Wave lit up the land. Are you one of those who yearn for that totally awesome decade? No need to fret: Online offers a veritable treasure trove of 80s digital memorabilia for the pop cultural connoisseur—from movie reviews to photos to trivia and games, you’ll be elated to find anything and everything to quell that bodacious appetite for 80s pop culture. To the max!

By the way, no one can call themselves a true pop cultural literato without a deep-rooted knowledge of the 80s. Don’t know who Max Headroom is? That deserves a techno-stuttered "spazz-o-rama." If you never wanted to play Global Thermonuclear War or wished to be friends with Molly Ringwald, you better start reading up some online. And go buy a Rubik’s cube or something, STAT.

Anyone who doesn’t know the 80s but claims pop cultural supremacy should be dragged through the coals for their heinous crime. For example: I was googling pop cultural quizzes online so I could link to one from this post and was appalled at what I found: quizzes like this one asking users to name all the members of New Found Glory. Please. Gag me with a spoon! (NOTE: I know the answer, but that’s beside the point.)

For all you 80s lovers, here are some online destinations designed to tickle your joystick or floppy disk in all the right places. Wondering if you are a true child of the 80s? Click here and find out. Want to put your 80s movie knowledge to the test? Play this Vh1 game, and decide if you’re more Revenge of the Nerds or Heathers. Finally, for some He-Man turned on it’s head, don’t miss The Skeletor Show. It’s no Jem, but it's still truly outrageous!

So what’s your fave thing about the 80s? Hit me with your best shot!


Fun Times: Kitschy Christianity

Check it out, it's Talking Jesus action figures! I so want one. I wonder if the cross and nails are sold separately? I dunno, but I do believe Wal-Mart totally has the right idea—as long as they make sure there’s no toxic lead paint in these probably Chinese-made toys and whatnot (as one commenter joshed, "How would you go about recalling Jesus?").

And by the way, I think Catholicism is by far the best branch of Christianity. We have loads of nutty fun! Perishable food apparitions, flying nuns, cryptic codes, singing monks, loopy saints, wacky exorcisms. I love it. I’ll forever have a sweet spot for the Catholic in me. So pass down that rosary! I can always use it as a lethal whip to fend off evil doers.

In honor of all this kooky Catholic fun, check out this light-hearted post featured earlier this week on Guanabee poking fun at the latest saintly sighting. It’s Pope John Paul II in a bonfire, you guys!


Advertising Rising — And We're Watching

There’s nothing like a snarky blog ripping on a ridiculous ad campaign to really get me going. That’s why I love the Internet and everything that spews out of it. The parody, the sarcasm, the lively ads. The Web makes for a digital platform that gives us a chance to examine and tear apart the marketing almighty with a distinct guerrilla edge.

And I must say, ads today rule. I’m sorry, but they really do. Not only are they an increasingly valid form of artistic expression, they also have the power to color and enlighten anyone’s day, and can even raise awareness by providing fantasy fodder for frustrated frumps. They can also severely offend.

Ads range from the dim-witted to the super clever, from the kill-me-know creepy to the LOL funny. And one thing’s for sure: Advertising pushes creative to the limit. After all, how many viral videos are actually quirky, inspired ads that hit a comedic bull’s eye, surprising us from where we least expect it?

A well-executed ad campaign is a tasty treat for media junkies like myself. And if an ad blows chunks, it’s all the better. We can go off on it online. This is because Internet has paved the way for a new kind of ad consumption, helmed by the deconstructive skill of nonplussed advertising watchdogs ready to point out how deliciously absurd the business of selling really is. No doubt, ads have become true pop cultural compasses.

To better wrap your head around what I'm talking about, check out this review of the Snorg tees ads, courtesy of Logged Hours. It’s a riot. I haven’t laughed this hard since running across Adrants’ assessment of the Quiznos’ “not lacking any meat” campaign, featuring a (sexually frustrated?) sappy Asian woman letting out a spastic laugh. Awesome. Both are poignant observations on the ludicrous yet alluring nature of the advertising industry.

So what do you think? Are ads adding something positive to our cultural discourse? And if this is so, can we effectively bite back at advertising execs through online and hold them accountable for crappy creative?


It's Official: There's No Deep Six'ing Hot Gossip

Can't get enough of Britney, even if her latest slip-ups have entered the realm of the cringe-inducing? Has the celebrity game of musical rehab thrown you into a tizzy? Are you losing sleep over the latest blog trysts with the pseudo-news du jour covering B-listers and celeb-politicians? It's all good. You're not morally off-kilter: It's merely your survival instinct turning tricks, apparently.

No amount of hard facts can stem the rising tide of juicy gossip, and there's an evolutionary reason for this. That's right. Check out this article featured in yesterday's Science section of the New York Times, sent my way by one not-at-all-gossip-averse friend in Brooklyn. The article attests that gossip "promotes the 'indirect reciprocity' that made human society responsible." No matter how rational we may be, hearsay and second-hand accounts way in more heavily on our decision-making process than hard truth and figures. Why? Basically, it helps us get along and thrive as a society and whatnotscientific fact.

Take that, level-headed lobbyists of fair and balanced journalism! Score, media spinsters and PR! Gossip seems to trump facts time and time again, and molds our society with forceful sway.

Duh. It doesn't take a scientist to tell you this.
Publicists have known it all along. But now you know for sure: Even the most artless snoozes care for what others have to say, no matter what they say. It's been hard-coded into our DNA and it is essential for our survival as a species.

So don't buy into the hype that totes gossip as an insidious social evil. It does more good than harm, yes sir. No need to read the studies—you can totally take my word for it.

Next time you see a supermarket tabloid screaming sex and scandal on the news rack next to the latest issue of The Economist, make sure to thank the Creator for our impervious instinct at social prying. It's the reason you and I are alive and kicking—even though our collective psyche may end up a little damaged. In the end, the perception of the truth is more important than truth itself. Dare to disagree?


If Digital Doppelgangers Turn

I was watching The Island last night trying to keep myself awake and wondering if I would ever own a clone of my very own. I, unlike others, wouldn’t be riddled with guilt for bringing a doppelganger to life as a medical just-in-case. Then it struck me though: I have clones online haunting the trackless waste of cyberspace—What if they all fuse together into an uberforce of artificial dark cunning and turn on me? After all, I’ve dabbled in personal avatar creation on many an occasion, more so than most I think; and then there's the looming threat that at some point technology might pull a Matrix on us.

Check this out: I have a Second Life, an IMVU avatar, and a Digg profile, plus active profiles in Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendster, Hi5, and aSmallWorld. I'm also a Wikipedia contributor. I’ve spread my online persona so thick that sometimes I feel I’m more real online than off. Is the Internet undercutting my true self? After reading fellow blogger and friend Ryan’s post on her experiences with MyCybertwin.com, I was immediately enthralled by the idea of having a fake me taking care of my most quotidian conversations. I immediately created my own CyberTwin and let him loose on my friends. Although the conversations were totes retarded, it was fun having a virtual Juan chatting away with my online contacts. It was evident it was a fake. But is this a foreboding of something creepier on the horizon?

What’s your take on this? Can digital doppelgangers gain precedence over the real you, to the point where you yourself become irrelevant? If so, can the weather ever lift, or is this exponential? How much can I nurture my own online persona before it Frankensteins into an unstoppable force that feeds on itself? Am I being a paranoid alarmist?


Stay-At-Home Extroverts A Digital Downer

After Thomas Friedman unilaterally announced in the New York Times that the digital generation is way too quiet (labeling it Generation Q), my upchuck reaction was to go online and hate on him on the comment strings of various blog posts and news articles alike. I mean, c’mon! Quiet? If anything, the Internet generation is more opinion-prone and noisy than any other that came before it. Friedman’s assessment did not go down easy with me—after all, I spend most of my time using online as my own personal soapboax, and I know I’m getting heard. I’m proud to say that I’ve skillfully learned the particulars of Internet patois, and I like to think I wield this language with understated professionalism.

After thinking about it some more, however, I’m starting to believe Friedman’s observation was actually teeming with tenacity--more so than I would have ever cared to admit. Here’s my reasoning: The Internet—and on a wider scale, technology in general—used to be the exclusive terrain of techno nerds and Asperger’s geeks. After all, it is easy to tune out through technology when your EQ is on the short end of the bell curve. Now though, being IT literate is a must for anyone who wishes to make meaningful (and lasting) connections with others or for the professional who wants to plump up his or her career. More than this, the Internet has given us the opportunity to work from virtually anywhere—no need to leave our place of residence. Ha! Here’s the rub…

Now, many socially adept professionals have confined themselves to their homes. It is not odd for me to find many a friend on a Friday night at home, hair unwieldy, clothes disheveled, going at it on their laptop computers, desperate to yap it up with anyone who crosses their way. If I was coming home dead tired after a day of hard work, the last thing I would want to do is chat the night away with a smelly roommate in ratty clothes that has spent hours consumed in the Web. A total downer indeed.

Stay-at-home extroverts are a silent byproduct of the digital explosion. I believe high-powered driven types should salvage the wreckage and get office jobs, even if technology allows them to work from home. So what’s your take on this phenomenon? Are we all slowly and silently turning geek?


Your Cell Phone's Rebel Yell

No no, I’m not talking about the ringtone you pulled off some shady site to let everyone else know just how unique or with it you really are. I’m talking about phantom cell phone vibrations! Check out this nutty article featured on Yahoo! News yesterday; it’s right up my alley, and tailor-made for all you crazy cell-phone-and-BlackBerry-toting professionals. It’s creepy, it’s kooky, and it’s a sign o' the times. And I kind of like it!

Is your love affair with your phone causing you ringxiety? It seems a lot of us are sufferers. Here’s one guy quoted in the article who I know a lot of you can totally identify with:

“Jake Ward… claims to ‘pre-feel’ a new message or call. ‘I'll feel it, look at it. It's not vibrating. Then it starts vibrating,’ he said. ‘I am one with my BlackBerry.’”

I like to think I am also one with my tech tools. My laptop’s my favorite friend of them all. I’ve tapped into that otherworldly force much maligned by hokey teen scream movies such as Pulse; but rather than haunt me, this techno-force empowers me.

The iPhone is definitely my next purchase--once the technology becomes available in Costa Rica, that is. I too, want socially sanctioned carte blanche to surf the Web wherever I might be, in detriment of face-to-face interactions. If only I could grow an iPhone off my hip. So what do you think? Are you also a sufferer of “fauxcellarm”?


Church of Pop Becomes Her

I decided to take a cue from copyranter today and partake in random image searches on Google for my next collaborative online project, “Church of Pop” (there’s already a site up online called “The Church of Pop,” which is light years behind from what Church of Pop will be all about--and out of spite, I refuse to link to it). Anyway, my search for “church pop” yielded the above image, among others, on the first SERP.

The art caught my eye; I find it both telling and alluring, aesthetically refined yet eerily empty. So I have decided to post it here on my blog. Think of it as your first look-see at what Church of Pop can offer on-the-go online readers. A sneak peak at a soon-to-be website that will be slathered with pop culture iconography and will swivel with the centrifugal force of instant literary and philosophical allusions. Fast-food philosophy at its best, no doubt.

Sounds heady? Kludgy even? It won’t be! I promise. It’s a fun exercise in postmodern collective self-expression (we're still ironing out a few kinks). Plus, it will include a myriad of lofty analyses from recent pop music hits, dating all the way back to the 70’s. “Um…What?” you may ask. Just wait and see.

So... do you have some ideas to make sure Church of Pop makes waves online? Send them my way!


Infoterrorism Unhinged — And Redefined

Terrorism on the Web is by no means spectacular, especially if you are one of those assembly-line jihadist jerks jonesing for media attention and hoping to garner some of that sought-after shock and awe for your own screwy cause. After all, it’s not as cinematic as blowing up buildings, and the experience will be devoid of rattled, helpless infidels running for their lives all bloodied and dazed. No gore, no good.

It’s no secret, however, that terrorists are adept at using information technology to power up their efforts to spread their injurious ideology and recruit many an ignorant Mr. chip-on-his-shoulder as zealously as possible. But information terrorism seems to be, ostensibly, a far more sophisticated concept than that which any religiously-fueled and violently-punctuated movement could ever leverage with skill. Check out this definition of infoterrorism, courtesy of Infoterror.com:

"Infoterrorism is the art of disrupting the media control of your enemies by pointing out paradox… it is transacted mainly through writing."

Democratic undertones, literary innuendo, resilience... Okay... I’m down with that, sure. In fact, It sounds like something I would be happy to sink my teeth into. I wonder if I’ve already dabbled in some form of information terrorism, as I feel I’ve used my writing to deconstruct and claw at societal assumptions and media fortresses myself, from this very blog.

To be honest, I thought information terrorism meant cyber-attacks on corporate IT systems—not so, according to some online thinkers. Which is all the better: At times, running counterculture against established media seems like my cup ‘o tea. But the question remains, am I bold (or crazy) enough to call myself an infoterrorist? Are you?


Stick It to the Man! Sort Of...

I’ve been itching to revisit my old, riotous ways. Today I’m feeling improperly impish and want to stir up some trouble online while I’m at work. Or at the very least, I want to feel like I’m breaking the rules. The problem is that I’m such a square I’d feel remiss to do anything too crazy. So what to do? Last night I was conversing with a friend online and he pointed out that I’m not really a square; I’m most probably a rhombus. Whoa! A rhombus. I guess this means I still have some sort of edge left in me. I’m not sure, but now I feel like I have to brush up on my geometry.

Anyway, let’s get to it. Let’s wreak some online havoc!

Here's the most wicked I could muster up today: Say hello to--drum roll please--WeProx.com! This is a nifty little site that doubles as the wannabe-insurgent’s online weapon of choice by acting as a free proxy. It's not too radical for those faint of heart. Here's the deal: WeProx uses a CGI script that allows you to browse any and all sites anonymously and guilt-free. Are IP and URL-based blockers getting you down at work? Not a problem! Now you can revel in the deliciousness of your own subversive ways and go exactly where you want to go on the Web without the paranoia that IT will sound the alarm and track you down like a rabid coyote. And better yet, no one will know it was you. There is one downside though: you’ll take up a chunk of bandwidth at work—plus, the site crawls at the speed of dial-up. But who cares! You get to feel naughty.

For those of you who feel this is a little too close to dirty dancing with the digital devil, here are some Flash-based online games from Adult Swim that will still inspire fiendish delight (you’ve got to try Bible Fight!). After all, we are all rebels on the inside, cheating the system at any chance we get. Right?


When Big Words Blur

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”
—Ernest Hemingway

The oldest trick in the book when it comes to writing is also the most trite and transparent. One thing I’ve learned throughout the years as I’ve evolved and matured as a writer is that writing is effective only when the author has something to say and says it concisely. This demands the use of carefully-selected words to paint as precise a picture as possible. In the digital realm especially, being pithy is the rule of thumb.

Long-winded copy is a surefire sign that the person who penned it had little to nothing to say, and simply wants to impress or confuse his or her audience. This is especially true when a so-called scribe moans unimaginatively on and on without vigor or focus. Talk about smoke and mirrors!

For a light-hearted jest at clotted writing, check out this automatic online complaint letter generator, courtesy of my friend alf. To use it, simply populate the fields with the name and info of anyone whom you wish to bitch about and hit “Complain.” The tool will instantly generate a meandering complaint letter that says absolutely nothing of substance but does so in perfect grammar and “impressive” English. Check out a snippet of the missive I generated for myself:

“Juan is lacking in the social graces. In reaching that conclusion, I have made the usual assumption that I strive to be consistent in my arguments. I can't say that I'm 100% true to this but Juan's frequent vacillating leads me to believe that his older taradiddles were unpleasant enough.”

Wha? I’m flippant and socially ungraceful? Who knows. Who cares! At least I know that today, I don’t have to resort to the kind of writing trick that leaves readers spinning and scratching their heads.


Our Days Might Be Numbered

Here’s a pre-Halloween treat for all you gore fans shambling sloppily on the Web. Raise the roof for the walking dead! There’s something about zombies that hits a chilling nerve with me. I’m hooked. The whole idea of the dead coming back to create hell on Earth by dismembering the living and eating them alive--especially when converted into social commentary--is at once ridiculous and compelling. On the one hand, zombies are hardly the stuff of political insight, meant only to provoke fear by way of unnatural grotesque (no matter how sucky your day has been, at least your dead uncle isn't munching away at your face, right?). On the flip side--I wonder how much zombies accurately reflect where we stand as a society. Are we surrounded by a social poison that turns thinking men into mindless walking drones? Either way, I find the undead viscerally fascinating.

Anyway, I digress... Back to the main point of this post! In celebration of all things horror (and honoring the fact that it’s a weekend), here are the top four zombie movies I’ve seen of late that I enthusiastically endorse. Check out the clips—nothing beats pints of blood wildly splattering unchecked over rotting minions of undead:

4. Resident Evil 3—So you think you can domesticate zombies? Think again! And who knew the undead didn’t even need human flesh to survive? They just crave carnage, apparently. Click for the trailer here.

3. 28 Weeks Later—Because the Dad turns zombie and still manages to skillfully open doors with his all-access pass. And what about the two-second microscopic glimpse we get at infected blood? Awesome!

2. Dawn of the Dead—The remake. There’s nothing more terrifying than that little girl at the beginning of the movie who everyone thinks is Sarah Polley’s daughter creepily jolting up into place and then charging at the bedroom hungry for flesh.

1. 28 Days Later—Slice up your friends no-mercy style! Who cares if there’s a chance they might not be infected? Now here’s a movie that gets it. I know, I know, they’re not really zombies, as they haven’t technically died yet. Whatever. The infected in this film still own any other zombies out there.

I heart zombies. Do you have any films to recommend? Let me know… and long live the undead!


Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Pop Ups

Digital media pulls at and molds our everyday experiences in ways unquantifiable. The impact is as exciting as it is difficult to pinpoint; however, as more of us turn to the Internet as our primary means of communication and entertainment, everyday life seems to blur ever more speedily into a postmodern swirl of haphazard and disjointed media experiences.

During an energetic conversation with friends today over Taco Bell takeout and mystery soda, we ended up discussing the possibility that Humpty Dumpty was actually left-handed. Our revisionist theorizations on old-school nursery rhymes were punctuated by ADD-style literary remarks and wacky and disconnected (Western) cultural references. At one point, when I felt my head was spinning out of control into a colorful oblivion of pop media imagery, a friend of mine snapped: “This conversation has too many pop ups!” Ha! What a spot-on way of putting it. I felt Flash ActionScript bubbles and link preview panes popping up around us faster than Google generates an HTML search engine results page. Amidst the multilateral, all-over-the-place back-and-forths, we managed to stay on track. We concluded that Humpty Dumpty was in fact left-handed: The coming together of our disparate media musings confirmed this.

Vh1 was way ahead of its time indeed. Just like the info-nuggets on Pop Up Video, we need maps and callouts to guide us through the maze that is the media so we can focus on the topic at hand and still be true to the tenants of postmodernism. The digital realm is the key. Need to get something on lock? Look it up, blog about it and link to it, no matter how random it may seem. In the end, everything will strangely jive together!


Calling Occupants of Cyber-Commentary Craft

The Internet is all sorts of wacky. This is exactly what makes cyberspace great. Internet A-listers shine not because of their accomplishments, insights or constructive contributions to society, but because of their kooky, off-center, and downright outrageous views and behaviors. After watching the first Chris Crocker video a few weeks back—you know, the “Leave Britney Alone!” vid that sent shockwaves of discomfiting disbelief across all things digital—I was suddenly convinced that I needed a new spark for my line.

My conclusion: I need a cause of some sort that will give me license to yell at and slander others and perhaps even victimize myself somehow. I used to marvel: Why are online commentators so quick to slam each other and troll around in websites and tell each other off using crafty word puns and clever pop cultural references? Now, however, I wonder: Who do I have to unapologetically offend or severely freak out to guarantee myself a first-class ticket on the digital controversy train and ride it all the way to the topsy-turvy lands of I’ve-finally-made-it-online?

Of course, I’m only kidding. I do not want the kind of decadent digital destiny that has cemented others into public ridicule and hyper-scrutiny online, nor do I wish to hurl insults left and right. Yet, I would be lying to myself if I didn’t confess I do want some of the magic and magnetism that a lot of high-profile onliners seem to wield. To them I say: “Cyber-commenters, I am your friend!” I know, there’s a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous, between the offensive and the funny, and between the compelling and the put-me-to-sleep boring; but if I want to keep making a mark, I need to go bold. So keep sending those digital light bulbs my way!


Beware Online Observers: Social Spam Attacks!

Heads-up, network-savvy social Internets, you or someone you know could be next! It seems no one is truly safe from cyber-attacks and pervy porn pollution. Check it: Today, suddenly and without warning, my cousin was the unlucky victim of a growing form of pseudo-identity theft. Someone or something hacked into her personal hi5 profile and sent out a spam blast that littered the hi5 walls of all her contacts with sexually charged quick-hello messages. Here’s the faux compliment I was creatively conferred with:

Hi Juan, I was just looking through my friends, you are hot!!! I would love to hang otu sometime. You can check my real profiel here. www.tinyprofiles.info/sweetthing88

Now, I’m assuming whoever authored this completely unimaginative solicitation was aiming for digital vérité by including obviously-on-purpose typos, but to me, it made the whole thing more annoying. Clearly an impostor.

Not to mention that my cousin would never say something half as retarded as that. If she really wanted to lay it on me by telling me how hot she finds me, she would do so in a sophisticated, tongue-in-cheek kinda way. And I’m actually supposed to believe that she has another profile in some random-ass website--her real one, no less--and that she took the time to craft a fake, less exciting profile on hi5 to save face with all her friends? Give me a break!

Anyway, the situation was actually totes hilarious, as was the unending torrent of pings, e-mails, and puzzled private messages that rained on my cousin after the cyber-spam attack. She was mortified at first, but then simply let it go after sending an assertive e-mail to the hi5 webmasters expressing her outrage.

I know hi5 is the poor man’s Facebook, but none of us, no matter what social network we choose to partake in, should be subjected to this kind of outrageous digital distress. Today, it was my cousin on hi5. Tomorrow, who knows? Are any of us safe?