PHYSICAL BOOKS - Already dying. As a writer, I do lament the passing of physical books (love the smell of printed paper), but Kindles are pretty cool and the books are cheaper. On the downside of that, now that just about anyone can write and e-publish a book without and agent or publisher (Smashwords will do it for you for free), the number of available books out there (shitty or otherwise) has exploded exponentially. One of the self-published children’s books currently available on Amazon was written by a convicted serial killer, who likes to write in the dark while naked, and his books are listed right up there with the John Grishams and Stephen Kings. There are so many books out there right now that my first novel only had to sell about five copies to rank number two on one e-book retailer’s bestseller list. Need more proof? Not long ago, several well-known authors collaborated to write an intentionally lousy book, loaded with typos, consistency errors and several chapters repeated twice. It was still published by a company called PublishAmerica, who specialize in convincing would-be authors they can actually write, while bilking them for thousands.
ALBUMS - Already dying. We knew this day was coming, and while I still mourn the demise of vinyl records, I have to admit CDs generally sound better and don’t wear out as fast. And they still sound better than compressed downloads. But services like iTunes are killing the album itself as an art form. Sure, some artists are best appreciated for their individual songs, but what about those who create music in which the songs are best listened to within the context of the other songs on the album? And say goodbye to the concept album, folks. On a related note…
RECORD COMPANIES - Musical snobs, who have always considered record companies as corporate machines appealing to the mindless masses weaned on American Idol, must be ready to cut their wrists by now. Now even those evil record labels are dying-on-the-vine, since every wannabe with a drum machine or a working knowledge of the tambourine can put their shit up for sale without their help. On a related note…
MUSICIANSHIP - Sure, you spent years honing your skills on a particular instrument. But who cares, now that anyone who knows how to click a mouse can compose their own music with same level of virtuosity? I’ve created five albums-worth of music (complete with orchestral background and blindingly-fast solos) with music software created in 2002. On a related note…
MUSICIANSHIP, PART II - Look at the sheer number of people who have spent countless days locked in their bedrooms mastering the most difficult songs on Guitar Hero and Rock Band, time which would have been once spent actually learning to play an instrument. On a related note...
ROCK STARS - What was once a possible way for the truly talented to make a living will become just another hobby, because a lot of people refuse to pay for music anymore.
DVD & BLU-RAY - Cannibalism in action. DVD quickly replaced VHS with its better picture quality, convenience and oodles of bonus features appealing to movie geeks. Then came Blu-Ray, which offered most of the same shit, only with a better look at Kevin Costner’s pockmarks. Now it looks like Blu-Ray might enjoy a shorter shelf-life than 8-Track tapes, since it turns out that most folks don’t really give a damn about a $30 Blu-Ray disc when they can catch it on demand for four bucks. Or better yet, steal it online. This is also proof-positive that the average person doesn’t care as much about picture-quality as they do about convenience.
NETWORK/CABLE/SATELLITE TELEVISION - Boxed sets, TiVo, the internet…you do not have to catch the latest episode on regular TV. Watch it whenever you want…commercial free. Never mind the fact that it is commercials which make this shit free to begin with. On a related note…
COMMERCIALS - Even without flipping to another channel, there are countless ways to avoid them now. But regardless of what you think of them, their demise will be a catalyst for the end of nearly everything you hold dear on your TV. The more you ignore the commercials, the more everything is going to cost.
THEATRICAL MOVIES - Technology vs. technology. The more advanced movie technology gets, the more advanced the handheld technology available to moviegoers gets, along with the self-righteous conceit that it is people’s God-given right to use said-technology whenever it suits them. And yes, I‘m talking about cell phones, the number ONE reason I now prefer to watch movies at home (and considering I'm a die-hard cinemaphile who feels movies are best seen in theaters, that is saying a lot). On a related note…
3-D - Already dying. Just as it was introduced in the 50s to combat the introduction of television, this is a last-ditch attempt by Hollywood to bilk moviegoers into shelling out $15 for a slew movies which,10 years ago, might have gone straight to DVD. With jacked-up ticket prices (to pay for glasses you can’t reuse for other 3-D films you might decide to see later on), Hollywood makes it obvious they don’t really give a damn about their product, and assumes you’re a dumbshit for buying it.
EDITORIALS - There was once a time when an editorial was printed in a newspaper as a commentary on current events, usually written by someone well-skilled in persuasive writing. Now anyone can vomit their opinions on any topic, and because of the resources available on the internet, they can present their ramblings with the visual professionalism of an essay by Walter Cronkite. On a related note…
CRITICS - Everyone is a critic now. Need proof? Check out the website, Ain’t It Cool News, written by guys with no regard for the basic mechanics of written English, but held in enough regard by studios that its founder, Harry Knowles, has been invited to movie premieres.
CIGARETTES - This one is actually one of the positives. Being a former smoker, I know this from experience. I tried for years to quit, and it wasn’t until someone turned me onto the E-cigarette (an electronic device which dispenses water vapor in place of tar and chemicals), that I was able to stop - cold turkey - and never smoke again.
LIVE SPORTS - It used to be fun (and relatively inexpensive) to attend live sporting events. But, like everything else, the cost of cheering on your home team has increased dramatically. That, and with the television coverage often providing a better view of the action from every conceivable angle (which you can often choose).
MALLS - Once the bastion for all of your shopping and socializing needs, malls currently have little to offer aside from the occasional novelty kiosk, the chance for individual family members to choose their own restaurant, and a place for the elderly to exercise without braving the elements.
MP3s & PORTABLE GAMING DEVICES - At this point, most phones allow you to listen to music and play games. Some people still use them to make actual phone calls. On a related note…
WRITTEN ENGLISH - Texting, where proper English is optional, is currently condensing the language into a series of numbers, abbreviations and acronyms. The only time punctuation is required is when the sender wants to include a stupid smiley face. Think I’m exaggerating? I teach middle school, and you’d be stunned to discover the number of students who think using such text terms as IMHO and OMG are perfectly acceptable to include in writing assignments. On a related note…
LITERACY - Why bother learning to read when you can just tap a symbol or picture? The ability to read is not required. That’s a picture of a printer…that must mean I can print. On a related note…
PERSONAL PRINTERS - I have a printer, but almost never use it. Almost any document I create, either for personal or professional reasons, I can either send as an attachment or transfer to my flash drive, to be printed out by someone else.
ACTUAL COMPUTER SKILLS - Aside from the folks who design the new techno-toys which make our current ones obsolete within six months, or the lonely hacks currently trying to create a virus that will make them all crash, most of us know truly little about how the technology we depend on actually works. We’re always hearing about how today’s kids are so-much more technically savvy than the previous generation. Really? Hey, I’ve seen kids use computers. Try taking away their mouse or touch pad and watch most of them flop around like a dolphin caught in a fisherman’s net.
SNAIL MAIL - Already dying. Just think…the number of angry, out-of-work postal employees will increase exponentially.
THIN PEOPLE - Pixar’s Wall-E may end up being the most prophetic movie of all time.
SNOW DAYS - There is going to reach a moment in time when most kids get their schooling online. While that may initially sound pretty cool, kids, think about this. There could be an apocalyptic blizzard outside, but online schools never close.
SKILLED DRIVERS - Already dying. Rants about people who talk or text on their phones while driving is already a cliché.
TRUE SCANDALS - Thanks to increasing technology, even a minor indiscretion by a famous person is a media-fueled scandal. An embezzling stock-trader is a scandal. Justin Beiber being slapped with a paternity suit isn’t a scandal. That’s a typical 17-year-old forgetting to use a condom. On a related note…
CELEBRITIES WHO ARE FAMOUS FOR A REASON - All you need to be famous today are, A) a rich and famous parent, B) a hot body, or C) being the biggest douche bag on a reality TV show. Andy Warhol may have had it right…someday we may all have our few minutes of fame.
NEWSPAPERS & MAGAZINES - Already dying. We know why, too. I’ll be the first to agree the demise of physical periodicals would do a lot to save trees and put-off global warming. There isn’t a single magazine or newspaper today that is worth hanging onto for more than a week or two. But, on a related note…
FACTS - The so-called Information Age has given-way to the Too Much Information Age, and Google doesn’t separate factual news from someone’s personal rants on the same subject. And the sad fact remains that a lot of people assume what they read or watch must be true. Don’t believe me? Try talking to someone who gets all their information from Fox News Channel.
SECRETS - Already dead. Everything you have ever done with a computer is still floating around out there, waiting for someone to grab. And I mean everything.
TV WEATHER PERSONALITIES - Unless you are damn good looking, your days as a weather forecaster are numbered, especially if you’re one of those who spend the first several minutes of your segment engaging in humorous banter with your on-air colleagues. It's a hell of a lot faster to get a forecast online.
MILITARY SERVICE - We’re already using pilot less spy planes, attack drones and smart bombs. There’s gonna reach a point when the military doesn’t actually need soldiers.
STRIP CLUBS - These are depressing places to hang out, anyway. Now, as long as you have a Visa card, you don’t even have to leave your house. And you can ‘finish the job’ without being arrested for indecent exposure.
SOCIALIZING & DATING, PART 1 - Not to sound like an old fogey, but I met my wife the old fashioned way, by actually being there in-person and impressing her enough to want to go out with me. I didn’t need some computerized service using data to match me up with someone it deemed compatible. I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t have hooked me up with her at all. Now you can skip all the rituals and formalities of traditional mating rituals and cut to the chase…is she gonna sleep with me or not?
SOCIALIZING & DATING, PART 2 - Again, not to sound like an old fogey, but we used to actually hang out at various places (sometimes even engaging in the ancient art of cruising) in order to socialize with our peers and hang out together. Now you can go on Facebook or Twitter and do the same thing…and you don’t even have to dress up for it. My own daughter has a ton of friends she never really interacts with outside of Facebook. On a related note…
CLASS REUNIONS - Granted, class reunions have historically been excuses for people to show-off what they have accomplished in their lives and see who's gotten balder or fatter. I didn’t attend my 25-year reunion because most of the people I actually wanted to contact again I’ve done so through Facebook. The best part is that I only have to show the best photos of myself I choose to post, so they don’t see how fat I’ve gotten.
LIVE CONCERTS - I used to attend a lot of concerts before they became so expensive that I needed to refinance my home just to go to one. The last concert I went to was Kiss a few years ago, and when the lights went down, it wasn’t a sea of lighters illuminating the arena. It was a sea of cell phone screens capturing the event. And indeed, every song the band performed was made available on YouTube the very next day.
CARS & OIL - The more we can accomplish without ever leaving the house, the less we will rely on these things.
PEOPLE WHO CREATE MUSIC, BOOKS, MOVIES AND VIDEO GAMES FOR A LIVING - Sure, we love getting them for free. Ask yourself this…would you do your job for free? Neither will they.
I wonder if spiders sometimes see their reflection and go, "AHHH!!!"
My daughter, a quite observational young lady, suggested that the pronunciation word fire should be officially changed to fiyah!(exclamation included), being that’s how it’s always pronounced in every fantasy movie and heavy metal song ever made. It does sound cooler that way.
Peanut Butter makes damn near everything taste better.
Stop acting outraged by crap spewed by people like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly. You are reacting exactly like they want you to. Haven’t you figure it out yet? What they are doing is an act (just like Andrew Dice Clay in the 90s). No one but the truly insane would boast being that jingoistic, racist, homophobic, misinformed, apathetic & misogynistic unless they are doing it for attention.
You know what's so cool about Ozzy Osbourne? The fact that he's not really a great singer, he knows he's not really a great singer, and he's open about the fact he's not really a great singer. Still, try to imagine anyone else singing his songs. Can't be done.
As a professional educator, of course I understand the importance of reading and math skills, but not at the expense of everything else necessary to function in the real world, such as being able to read a non-digital clock. Every year, not only do I have an increasing number of students unable to tell time, but they think it's totally reasonable to lack such a rudimentary skill.
More people need to be hit over the head with a shovel.
The number of folks who snap a picture of themselves for their own Facebook page shows just how alone so many of them really are.
Maybe if some people stopped spending their waking hours looking for racism, it would simply go away.
Try this experiment sometime...go to a mall, or simply walk down the street, and count the number of people you physically bump into because they automatically expect you to move out of their way.
I wish my iPad knew when my finger accidentally touched a link I didn’t intend to.
I would have enjoyed the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics a lot more if the NBC announcers would have just shut the hell up once in awhile.
To those of you douchbags who love to claim you’re ‘keepin’ it real’...what exactly are you keeping real?
Scott pried open their last case of Budweiser and passed one over. Nick leaned his rifle against the massive steel door protecting the compound and grabbed the bottle by the neck. After unscrewing and flicking away the cap, he downed almost half with a couple of big swallows. It was warm and bitter going down, but he was used to that by now. It had been years since he had a cold beer.
Scott smirked. "Might wanna go easy, Nick. These may be the last beers we drink 'till we get outta here."
Wiping his lips, Nick smiled grimly and shrugged. "Then why prolong the agony? Might was well pound it down right now." He finished it off and unceremoniously tossed the dead soldier to the cold stone floor, where it shattered into tiny shards. "Besides, we’re not ever getting out of here."
"Why do you say that? Dr. Fassler's plan might work, you know."
Nick leaned over and fished another bottle from the case, then regarded his nightly drinking buddy with amusement. "Really? A time machine? You really think that cockamamie idea is gonna work?”
Despite his suggestion to nurse the beers, Scott had already polished off his first and grabbed a second. “Hey, you were at the same meeting I was. The undead have overrun the world. There’s too many of ‘em. This bunker we’re guarding might be all that’s left of civilization. It only makes sense to go back in time to stop it from happening in the first place. Don't you think?”
"Dr. Fassler's not as smart as he thinks he is. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Scott scowled hard. “Who are you to say he ain‘t smart? I’ll bet you couldn’t build a time machine. You’re just a glorified mall cop guarding the door to a bunker nobody left in the outside world knows even exists. We watched Fassler climb into his own machine not-even five minutes ago and vanish. You don’t believe your own eyes?”
“Sure I do,” Nick replied, picking his rifle back up and slinging it over his shoulder. “Fassler’s a genius, and I’m damn sure he did manage to go back in time.”
Scott slammed back the rest of his second beer, loudly belched, then eyeballed Nick. “So what’s your damage?”
“Nobody knows where the infection started. You think a lab rat like Fassler is gonna trot the globe like James Bond and save us all? By building his time machine, the good doctor might have just killed us.”
Scott was incredulous. “What? How? Did you suddenly get drunk off of two beers?”
Nick smiled sadly. “You said nobody in the outside world knows our bunker exists, right?”
For the first time in three years, something suddenly pounded the outside of the bunker door, startling them both. Nick and Scott unslung their rifles and backed a few steps away. Both men clicked off their safeties in unison. As the noise bounced off the concrete walls of the complex, trailing off into oblivion, a new sound crept into their ears, a slow, hungry, guttural moan. This was joined by more voices of the undead, converging outside the door, pounding and clawing its steel surface in an effort to get inside.
“Fassler knows we’re here,” Nick bitterly whispered. “And he’s brought along a few new friends for dinner.”