Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Top Three Internet Time Wasters

Technology is such a gift, but it can also be the ultimate time suck.

Time Waster Number #1: 
The WHO ARE YOU Quizzes 

The newest rage on the Internet are the Who Are You quizzes. Based on zero science, you’re posed a question such as: Which Disney Princess Are You? You’re then lead through a series of frames with six or more picture selections:
            Frame One: Pick a dessert
            Frame Two: Pick a sport
            Frame Three: Pick a color

Following your selections, your true identity is revealed. VOILA! I’m Princess Jasmine. (I’m ok with that.)

The other day I took the the quiz Which Downton Abbey Character Are You? I came up Isabelle and snorted.  Isabelle's a nurse. You won't fine me within a mile of a sick person.

And then there was the Which President Are You? I came up Thomas Jefferson...slave holder, adulterer. Seriously? No thanks!  I guess he was a pretty good writer, though....

What draws millions of people to these ridiculous quizzes? Are they just pleasurable diversions to make us laugh or does it pose a more insidious societal question of dissatisfaction with our lives? For myself, it provides a 60 second delay in checking homework, doing laundry, cooking dinner, picking up dog poop in the yard… you know all the things I'm SUPPOSED to be doing.

Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Papa Pear……

I’m relatively new to the game app world. Last year my 8 year-old nephew introduced me to Angry Birds. I played it so much I started imagining sling-shotting my husband and daughters into wooden structures for not taking out the trash or picking up their underwear off the bathroom floor.  Then, as if I hadn’t wasted enough time and expensive cellular data (thank you Verizon for the daily nastygram), Facebook got me started on Candy Crush.

The addictive nature of Candy Crush defies all logic. All you have to do is match three colors (four or five would be even better). Sounds like something a preschooler would enjoy, right? I can't explain it, but once you start, you can't stop. And now, as if time on the home computer weren't enough, I rely on Candy Crush for wait-time in the car. And I do mean WAIT. School gets out at 3:30. My twins generally stroll out the door around 3:49. Pre Candy Crush, this would have enraged me. Now, thanks to this colorful time waster, I have the patience of the Dalai Lama. 



This is the King Daddy of all time wasters. I log on several times a day to find out where my friends are vacationing, whose anniversary it is, or what general minutia people are thinking about at any given moment of the day. Meanwhile, the wet laundry has been sitting in the washing machine for three days. I don't really need to explain Facebook to you. I know you're in the trenches with me.

I tracked for one week how much time I spent on my top three time wasters. Total: Two hours! That’s eight hours a month, 96 hours a year! To think what I could have written in that time….it makes one weep. I wonder where we’d be if JK Rowling played Angry Birds in that little cafĂ© instead of crafting Harry Potter on napkins. Food for thought. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Downton Abbey-Olympics-Oscars Fix

The Olympics are over. Downton Abbey is over. The Oscars are over. If you too, are suffering from tv malaise, take heart.  My husband brought home the fix!

Picture last Friday night: The temperature hovered around zero all week, and everyone had a major case of cranky pants. The door flew open and Robert bounded in: “Guess what I’ve got!”

The girls stared at him fearfully.  The last time he said that, he presented them with an eight dvd set of The Algebra Tutor.

"What?" we asked, trying not to flinch as he reached into a sack.

Chariots of Fire!”

 I breathed a sigh of relief. The girls were horrified.

 “I don’t want to watch a movie about Romans!” cried Christine.

 “Dad, no," said Caylin, arms crossed.

“C’mon, you’ll like it,” he encouraged, pushing it closer as if they hadn’t quite seen the cover properly. “It’s about running.”

“How can you run if you’re in a chariot?” asked Christine.

Rob turned to me with his AREN’T YOU GOING TO HELP ME? raise of the eyebrows.

I answered him back with my YOU OWE ME FOR THIS ONE raise of the eyebrows. I turned briskly: “Girls, you’ll like it. We’ll make some popcorn.”

I pulled out the Stir Crazy, hoping I was right. I’d never seen Chariots of Fire. It was an Oscar winner from 1981. My experience with most Oscar winning movies is that they’re either horrific or deadly boring. Honestly, I’m more of a rom com kind of girl.

Popcorn made, lights turned low, the opening scene began with men running in slow motion along a shoreline. My first thought was Who wears white cotton to run through water? Then I listened to the score.

“Hey,” I grinned, “that’s the song from Vacation. You know—when Clark Griswold and his family run to the entrance of Wally World!”

 Rob stared at me, grieved.

“Well it is,” I sniffed.

We settled down and watched the movie. And it was great!  It completely filled the void left by this season’s end of my favorite shows:

Void #1: The Olympics. Chariots of Fire is about the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Coming off the overblown techno vomit of Sochi (and all modern Olympics to be fair), it was fascinating to watch a time when the Olympics were at their simplest.

Void #2: Downton Abbey. Set in the roaring 20’s, this movie provided all the Downton Abbey elements I love: snobbery, gorgeous costumes, lordly characters, even a dog.

Void #3: The Oscars. The fact that Chariots of Fire won Best Movie in 1981, and the fact that glamorous women and handsome men abound in this film, I feel like I’m at the Oscars all over again.

So in the end, we asked the girls, “What’d you think?”

“It was good,” they answered, already thumbing away on their phones. And that, my friends, is as high a praise as any.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Downton Abbey: The Dating Game

Jim Lange, host of the 1970's game show, The Dating Game, recently passed away. Enjoy this Downton Abbey tribute!

Announcer: From Hollywood, the dating capital of the world, it’s The Dating Game!  Here’s the star and host of our game, Jim Lange!

Jim Lange: Thank you! Thank you! Oh boy, have we got a show for you today! Time to meet our three eligible bachelors:

Bachelor Number One is a hedge-your-bets sort of fellow, who won't let a little thing like a fiance get in his way of finding true love. Only well-heeled ladies need apply. Give it up for Tony Gillingham!!!!

Bachelor Number Two suffers from Best Friend Syndrome. Women love him, but only because he’s the ultimate BFF.  Seeing him in any other light is impossible. You gotta give him credit, though, he keeps on trying. Let's hear it for Evelyn Napier!!!!

Bachelor number three leads a double life: crusading commoner by day, entitled baron by night. Watch out ladies, this hunk isn’t afraid to get a little dirty. A round of applause for Charles Blake!!!!

Now for our bachelorette: Mary hails from Yorkshire. Her turn-ons include feeling sorry for herself, hating her sister, and belittling Americans. This gorgeous blue blood is a mother, but you’d never know it by the way she acts.  Slim, trim, and primed to catch her next Mr. Right, meet Mary Crawley!!!!!

Mary: This first question is for Bachelor Number One. Tony, your name reminds me of Gillyweed, you knowfrom the Harry Potter books. I keep picturing you with seaweed all over your face. Would you be willing to change your name for me, and if so, what would it be?

Tony: Of course I’ll change my name! Anything for you, Mary! Tell you what! I'll change it to Crawley, so you won’t have to order new stationary!

Mary: Bachelor Number Two, you're setting off my gaydar big time! Don’t you think it’s time to step out of the closet? I mean your name is Evelyn. That should tell you something.

Evelyn: I don’t know what you mean! I’m your best friend! Don’t I tell you when your hair wave just isn’t working? Who’s been talking to you? If it’s Thomas, I swear he was only subbing for my sick valet.

Mary: Bachelor Number Three, I’ve got to be honest. I had zero interest in you 'til I found out you’re richer than Midas. Tell me, how will you spend your fortune on me?

Charles: My darling, I’ll build you the finest pig pens in all of England. Then we can mud wrestle whenever we feel like it!

Jim Lange: Well, Mary it’s time to decide. Will it be Bachelor Number One, Bachelor Number Two, or Bachelor Number Three?

Mary: Hmm. It’s a hard decision. I mean, there’s two sides of me…the good Mary and the bad one. Since Matthew died, I don’t know who I am! Well, that’s not true. It’s more fun being bad Mary. Ok, I choose…..Bachelor Number Four, Michael Gregson!

Jim Lange: But he’s not a contestant.

Mary: I know, but it will piss off Edith, which is way more fun than dating any of these men. That's all. You may go.