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Anthropomorphic bladders

Okay, what the fuck? Behold, a drug commercial featuring a cartoon bladder:

Yes, the very organ in your body designed to hold liquid waste before you violently expel it out your crotchular orifice is now a whimisical animated character. I saw this commercial by accident while picking up breakfast at a local restaurant a few weeks back, and honestly thought I was hallucinating because I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet. But no, before a showing of Interstellar at my local theater, the ad popped up again before the previews began.

I understand that frequent urination is a medical problem, and that drugs to treat it are fair game for advertising. But why not just show someone running to the bathroom a lot, like other ads have? It’s pretty easy to get the message across that way. We don’t need this creepy goddamned visual aid. Worse yet, what the hell kind of horrible alternate universe does this poor woman live in, where no one else is disturbed beyond compare by a sentient cartoon urinary organ?! Even the woman’s doctor seems okay with it!

As if a living bladder dragging someone around isn’t horrifying and disgusting enough…it gets so much worse.

The advertisers have partnered with a smartphone app called “RunPee.” Based on the website of the same name, it’s designed to let you know at which point during a movie it’s best to take a piss break. This is supremely annoying for many reasons. First off, it’s rather insulting to the filmmakers that an app exists to literally point out sections of your movie that are apparently so boring that people should go to the bathroom instead.

Second, and this is the big one…this app encourages checking your goddamned phone during the movie. Sure, there’s a timer function on it so you can set it to vibrate whenever you should go drain the lizard, but how many people are actually going to do that? No, they’re going to sit and fuck with Facebook and the like while the glare from their screens annoys other patrons.

I can’t stress enough how much cellphone use in theaters bothers me. (Most public use of cellphones bugs the shit out of me, to be honest.) Now that companies — and soon theater chains — are actually promoting use of your phone during the film? Fuck that. This sort of behavior will absolutely guarantee that I’d never set foot in a theater again. It’s bad enough that ticket prices are ridiculous, and that movie theater crowds suck in general, constantly talking and otherwise being rude…but cellphones are the irritating frosting on the shit cake.

If you need to piss at the theater, just do it before or after the flick. Try not to load up on sodas and whatnot during the movie, as we’re all happier without your distractions, not to mention creepy cartoon bladders on the big screen.

Oddball childhood fears

Let’s celebrate Halloween the old-fashioned way: with a healthy dose of fear!

It’s no secret that I watch plenty of horror flicks during the Halloween season. While specifically setting aside time to view them on a routine basis during the fall is a somewhat recent tradition — only over the past ten to fifteen years or so — it’s not without precedent. I’d watch scary movies with groups of friends during high school and college (often in the background of Halloween parties), and when I was a younger kid, I’d try to find some on television late at night or when I was over a friend’s house, even though I forbidden from doing so by my parents. I certainly don’t blame them; when I was a child, I was naturally much more fearful of the world around me, and bits of movies and other stuff could frighten me. The last thing my folks wanted was to wake up to me screaming from a nightmare at three in the morning! Of course, that’s exactly what happened on those occasions I did not listen to reason. And thus, in the spirit of the season, here’s a few frightening things from my childhood that stick out in my mind the most.

  • Gremlins. Everyone loves this movie. Believe it or not, it wasn’t the little monsters themselves that scared me the most. Sure, they were nasty-looking and everything…but what really scared the shit out of me was Stripe’s grisly death scene. As if the slow melt into a rotting corpse wasn’t enough, his skeleton popping out of the fountain nearly gave me a heart attack. I couldn’t watch the movie at all for many years after that, but fortunately, I got over it by the time the sequel rolled around. When I saw Gremlins 2: The New Batch, I laughed my ass off.
  • Aliens. I saw this film before seeing the original Alien, as was common amongst my age group. As with the first film, the titular creatures are truly scary, and have cemented their place amongst the horror elite despite the science fiction setting. Before I’d even seen the movie, I knew what they looked like from magazines and such. But here’s where it gets weird: when I actually sat down to watch the movie with my old man shortly after it came out on home video, I got scared before any of the xenomorphs even appeared onscreen. This was definitely a case where my imagination grabbed the football and took off down the field. When I eventually watched the film in its entirety, it wasn’t nearly as scary, and rapidly became one of my favorite flicks…which it remains to this day.
  • Cows. Yeah, you read that right. I was apparently afraid of cows. I say “apparently” because I honestly don’t remember it; this was when I was a toddler, to hear my father tell it. (And he loves telling this story, many decades later. In fact, he still loves picking on me about Aliens and Gremlins, too!) However this irrational bovine fear started, my old man certainly put the cap on it: he hid behind a door in the dining room, and had my mother convince me there was a cow in there. I didn’t believe her, but curiosity got the better of me, and I timidly entered the room. I couldn’t see my dad, but he made a loud “MOO” noise that reportedly made me jump out of my own skin and flee. What the fuck?! Anyway, I don’t recall any of this, like I said. And I guess it’s all irrelevant anyway, because cows and their various products are delicious. I want a burger.

What monsters from the past scared you? Better fess up quick; they’re standing right behind you.

Science fiction literacy and idiocy

I’ve to come the realization lately that I can’t understand old science fiction novels. It’s not like I’m reading foreign translations, but for all the sense they’re making to my brain, they might as well be.

I grew up on classic science fiction, as my father read piles of the stuff in college, and saved all of his books in an old cardboard box…which I subsequently raided as a kid. Those were my escapes back then, as I didn’t have many friends nor was I allowed to have any video games and such. Anyway, I read through the pantheon of the greats: Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. LeGuin, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle…that list could go on and on all day. You get the idea.

Once in a while, I’ll nab a classic slab of literary scifi that I missed from the library. I’m not going to name specific titles; I already feel like enough of a moron without you people snickering at me for not understanding 200-page novels written in the 1960s. The point is that I’ll read some of this stuff, and I’ll feel completely lost. They’re not poorly written by any stretch; in fact, many authors’ command of literary devices is astonishing, resulting in rich worldbuilding and characterization.

Which, sadly, is apparently too much for my brain to handle. I don’t get it; I didn’t have a problem in the past. The only explanation I can think of is that maybe it’s because a lot of modern science fiction that I enjoy is written more like a dramatic television show or big-budget action movie. (Given how idiotic most blockbusters are nowadays, I’m probably not helping my case.)

Or, maybe I’m just growing dumber with age. (Don’t you dare patronize me.) All of the junk I’ve crammed into my mind over the years is probably overflowing, anyway, and stuff’s bound to slough off. I wish I could ditch the bad stuff rather than things I enjoy or other useful skills, though.

iPod, you can’t

Recently, it came to pass that the Apple iPod classic is gone. I’ve got one of those 160GB beasts, and the device is invaluable to me. I can load most of my music library on to it, and it’s a godsend at the gym, when I go for walks, on long car trips…all sorts of things.

But now, the only options left for buying a new iPod is the “older” iPod Touch, which tops out at only 64GB and runs $300. This is yet another way Apple is slowly pushing me out of their ecosystem; granted, iPod sales have been dropping, and Apple’s true aim is to consolidate everything into their insanely profitable iPhone line.

This makes sense to an extent, as most people just stream music or listen to bits of it on their phones. However, dedicated music fans and other audiophiles are a significant minority who require a lot more storage space. It’s also very important to note that iPhones are very expensive, don’t have anywhere near the storage capacity of a larger iPod, and are of course are locked to pricey cellphone service contracts. (If you buy the phone without a contract, it’s even more expensive.)

If worse came to worst, I’d hate to have to replace my iPod with a different brand of player; there’s not much out there, and I’ve been unable to find any that sync correctly with iTunes. Rebuilding my entire music library into another desktop player would be a colossal pain in the ass, as I have a ridiculous amount of playlists.

The good news is that the iPod community seems rather dedicated and vibrant, and there seem to be many options for repairs and replacement parts. I’m hoping I can hold out as long as possible, at least until a solid successor comes along. Expensive smartphones with limited memory and terrible streaming audio? No thanks. I’m not paying exorbitant data fees, and I’m sure as hell not renting my music.

I can’t eat anything

It’s getting really goddamned annoying that just about every foodstuff is “bad for you” in some way, shape, or form. I’m not even talking about overeating; I’m well aware of the fine concept of “everything in moderation.” But it seems that every other day, something else gets tacked on to the list of things I need to avoid. Excess sugar, fat, salt…fine. But it doesn’t stop there.

Lately, it’s artificial sweeteners. This is irritating because it results in a no-win scenario, and I ain’t Captain Kirk. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided, fine…but you’re supposed to avoid real sugar, too. So what the fuck option do you have left?!

I know there’s plenty of shady stuff wrapped up in dietary fads and the like. Unfortunately, given my history of medical problems, most food and additive warnings make me nervous by default. Worse, I can’t do too much about them, because it’s impossible to avoid everything; I cut down when necessary, but that tends to leave most meals unfulfilling. Food is one of the few things in life I can always enjoy, and our culture is fucking it up.