Showing all posts tagged: humour

Put your Palace Cinema wine glass in the cup-holder carefully

25 June 2024

Whether they are a part of an on-going series of light-hearted clips by Australian cinema group Palace Cinemas, remains to be seen, but the two I’ve caught to date, on their Instagram page, have been pretty witty.

The first is in response to the apparent problem of patrons nicking the cinema’s wine glasses. Why would anyone do that? An Australian chain of discount stores sells six wine glasses for less than five dollars. So why take the cinema’s? It should also be noted the cinema’s glasses have their logo emblazoned upon them. People visiting your house are going to know where they came from.

Fun fact: the wine glass clip cleverly riffs off the old Piracy is a Crime ads, that used to screen, some years ago now, prior to cinema screenings in Australia*.

The second clip is a glimpse of a cinema employee’s work day. Just be careful with the cup-holders…

* Interesting, I tried to click through to the Piracy is a Crime video through a DuckDuckGo search engine result. I was greeted by a “ is blocked” error message. YouTube is of course owned by Google/Alphabet. Are they blocking access to the video platform via competing search engines?


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A book about ferns: the truth of the three-hour Gilligan’s Island cruise

24 June 2024

Gilligan’s Island was a slapstick American TV series which ran from 1964 to 1967. Despite its popularity, the show was cancelled shortly before filming of a fourth series commenced. I first saw reruns of Gilligan’s quite some time later. A number of movies, featuring most of the original cast, were made between 1978 and 1982. For all its goofiness, and ludicrously fanciful storyline, the show’s appeal has not waned, since production ceased over forty years ago.

Much of the allure lay in the way a group of mismatched passengers and crew were forced to get along after being marooned on an unchartered island, somewhere in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. Among them were the wealthy and the working class, the chic and the collegiate. Most of the laughs were generated by the titular character, Gilligan, the well-meaning though bungling first mate, of the shipwrecked charter vessel, that all had been aboard.

But the premise of Gilligan’s Island, about seven people setting off on what was meant to be three-hour cruise, has been a constant source of speculation. And conspiracy theories. For instance, why was the millionaire, Thurston Howell III, carrying a briefcase full of cash? Further, why did he board the charter vessel with dozens of suitcases of clothing? And what of the professor? Why on earth was he on a fun cruise with a cache of scientific paraphernalia?

I wrote about this topic in 2008, after reading an in-depth exposé by Gilligan’s fan, and writer, Adam-Troy Castro, published on the no longer online SFF Net website. I’m glad I posted a number of excerpts from Castro’s article, in my piece, as they may be all that’s left of the original article.

But, long story short, no one aboard the S.S. Minnow, the shipwrecked charter boat, was out on any three-hour cruise. Howell wanted to cross into international waters, and make a big drug buy. That explains the cash he was carrying. The professor meanwhile, had brought analysis equipment with him, so he could check the contraband was the real deal. Everyone else on the Minnow had their not so wholesome reasons for being there.

Although my post is sixteen-years old, it still comes up in search engines results, which says a lot about the enduring popularity of Gilligan’s Island, together with the intrigue of the show’s peculiar premise. And then the other day, during my weekly login to Facebook (FB), an article about the professor, posted on the Classic Stars FB page, popped up in my feed. If you’re a fan, it’s well worth a read (and I don’t think you need to be a FB member), but this is possibly the most salient sentence:

The Professor’s backstory identifies him as Roy Hinkley (though his actual name is rarely mentioned during the series), a high-school science teacher who was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His principal expertise was as a botanist, whose purpose in joining the ill-fated voyage that stranded the castaways was to write a book to be titled “Fun With Ferns”.

So there we have it. The professor was not on board the charter vessel so he could test the authenticity of goods Howell was allegedly buying, somewhere on the open sea. The great big mystery can finally be laid to rest. The professor was there researching a book about ferns. Plants, not illicit drugs. Nor was anyone else, therefore, up to no good.


How though does going on a three-hour cruise, where nary a fern is to be seen, with an excess of laboratory equipment no less, help in the writing of such a book? Oh no: we’re by no means anywhere near getting to the bottom of what was really happening on this “three-hour cruise”…


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An extremely simple way to detect potential late bloomers

5 June 2024

Colonel Sanders founded KFC at age sixty-two. Anna Mary Robertson Moses AKA Grandma Moses, started painting when she was seventy-six, and had an illustrious career spanning twenty-five years. American actor Kathryn Joosten began her Hollywood career aged fifty-six.

These are just a few examples of people who are considered to be late bloomers. Those who found their calling in life at around the same time their contemporaries were either retired, or gearing up to cease working. That potentially means if you’re of a certain age, someone in your peer group may be about to step into the starting blocks.

But who might that be? According to London based writer and speaker Henry E. Oliver, there a few tell-tale signs:

  • Look for people who have been successful in the past
  • Look for people with secret lives
  • Look for the people who don’t fit in
  • Look for loners and those who are happy to change their context
  • Put up a beacon

Yah, put up a beacon is an obvious one (actually, I have no idea what that means). But forget the beacon. If you’re looking to find a would-be late bloomer among your friends and acquaintances, look-out for the ones with secret lives. Shouldn’t be too hard. Oh wait.

If someone has a secret life, that means — or is supposed to mean — no one else knows about it. While that may sound like a problem, it’s in fact only a detail. All we need do now is work backwards to identify the late bloomers in our lives. Start with the beacon. I assume that’ll stand out. Then pick out the loners, and those who don’t fit in. After that, anyone who has been successful previously.

Once you have four out of five, it’s just a case of finding out if they have a secret life. And that’s a simple matter of posing a discreetly worded question. You could say something like, “Oh hey, did I tell about an old friend of mine, [insert name of fake friend here]? Turns out they’ve been living a secret double life for a couple of decades.”

If your acquaintance seems startled, it might mean you’re onto something. Then you could follow-up, by saying “But that’s nothing you’d know anything about, right?” If their immediate response is a hasty successions of no’s, that it’s as good confirmed: your friend has a secret life, and could well be a late bloomer in the making.

Spotting potential late bloomers is easy when you know what you’re doing…


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The maybe immortal photon, the key to everlasting life?

25 April 2024

Light may have an infinite lifetime. Who’d have thought? Even after the eventual, possible, heat death of the universe, photons may live on as beacons of light in an impossibly dark cosmos… maybe:

One such candidate for a truly stable entity is the photon: the quantum of light. All of the electromagnetic radiation that exists in the Universe is made up of photons, and photons, as far as we can tell, have an infinite lifetime. Does that mean that light will truly live forever?

Sounds like life everlasting to me. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? If we could, somehow, infuse our consciousness, our living essence, into photons, could we — to lift a line from the Space Odyssey novels written by Arthur C. Clarke — preserve our “thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light?”

If so, we could then dispense with the botox regimens, followed by cryonics. This is an idea totally worth looking into.



Is the Sun conscious? Can a great ball of fire think for itself?

5 April 2024

Maybe I’ve been watching too much of Universe, the Brian Cox made documentary about, well, the universe, and am way too willing to take in all manner of ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. So when this article (PDF), exploring the possibility the Sun is a conscious entity (of some sort), written in 2020 by Rupert Sheldrake, appeared on my news feed recently, my curiosity was piqued.

Meanwhile, field theories of consciousness propose that some electromagnetic fields actually are conscious, and that these fields are by their very nature integrative. When applied to the sun, such field theories suggest a possible physical basis for the solar mind, both within the body of the sun itself and also throughout the solar system. If the sun is conscious, it may be concerned with the regulation of its own body and the entire solar system through its electromagnetic activity, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections. It may also communicate with other star systems within the galaxy.

If the Sun could talk, what might it say to us? Maybe, “do something about climate change before it’s too late.” Or, “always wear sunscreen when in my presence.”

It’s a fun idea, solar consciousness, but I’m not sure we’d ever hear Brian Cox going along with the notion. I’ll defer to Star Trekin’! in the meantime: it’s consciousness; but not as we know it…


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You don’t get 100,000,000 followers without telling a few stories

15 August 2023

After reading Move fast and beat Musk: The inside story of how Meta built Threads, by Naomi Nix and Will Oremus of The Washington Post, I’m certain the story behind the launch of Meta’s rival to Twitter, Threads, is ripe for adaptation to the big screen.

In exactly the same way The Accidental Billionaires, the 2009 book by American author Ben Mezrich, about the founding of Facebook, spawned the 2010 David Fincher made movie, The Social Network.

All the ingredients of a thriller-like race against time are there. Trust me. So here I am, calling action.

First, opportunity presents itself:

The mercurial Musk had just taken over Twitter. Amid the ensuing chaos, [head of Instagram Adam] Mosseri’s boss at rival Meta smelled opportunity.

Next there are senior Meta executives on family holidays in Europe, taking breathless phone calls from their boss in the middle of the night:

It was nighttime in Italy, and Mosseri spoke softly to avoid waking his sleeping wife. The group discussed Twitter-like features they could add to existing apps, including Instagram.

What? Enhance an existing app to make it look like something it isn’t? Are you for real? No, the boss wants to land the legendary three-thousand pound marlin here:

Zuckerberg, however, had a different idea: “What if we went bigger?”

Now that exact requirements are understood, and the enormity of the task at hand can be seen in the cold light of day, the inevitable panic begins to set in:

“Oh God, we’ve got to figure this out, because [Zuckerberg is] very excited about this,” Mosseri recalled thinking. “Sometimes you can tell when he kind of gets his teeth into something.”

The last thing, of course, you want to do is disappoint the boss. But you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough get going:

With a mandate from Zuckerberg to take a big risk, Mosseri assembled a lean, engineer-heavy team of fewer than 60 people to hack together a bare-bones app on a breakneck timetable more reminiscent of a start-up than an entrenched tech giant.

That paragraph sounds like it packs a punch, but a sixty person team is hardly “reminiscent of a start-up”. Instagram, which Threads is built upon, was, at the beginning, the work of two people, Michel Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But who cares? This is the movies, and all audiences want is a great story.

And size of the development team notwithstanding, there were challengers aplenty. Mainly what product features not to include, rather than what to ship:

To keep things moving, the Threads team punted thorny decisions and eschewed difficult features, including private messages and the ability to search for content or view the feeds of people you don’t follow.

But the clock is ticking. No one knows when the competitor — he who must not be named — might snatch back possession of the ball, and wrest the game away from the team we’re barracking for. But (naturally) such fears prove to be unfounded:

That night, a “core group” worked together at Meta headquarters while Mosseri and other team members chatted on an internal messaging forum, watching the sign-ups pour in. Mosseri recalled astonished team members asking, “Are we sure about these numbers? Can someone double-check that the logging isn’t messed up?”

And there we have it, the happy ending. One hundred million app signups. But wait, how can you call ever declining engagement, and plummeting time spent on the platform, a happy ending? Of course you can’t, but don’t you see where this is going? Wait for it. Wait for it. To a sequel, of course.

Watch this space, you will not be disappointed.


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Legal Lullabies: find hidden TOS sleep inducing algorithms

4 August 2023

How many hours of sleep are lost, each night, across the world, to the likes of Facebook, TikTok, Twitter/X, Instagram, and (maybe) Threads? Too many to count, I’m guessing.

But there may be a panacea, by way of, ironically, the same tech companies who developed these sleep depriving products. Legal Lullabies (how about that domain name, hey?), from the TLDR-Institute (The Lazy Data Research Institute), takes the terms of service (TOS) of tech companies and converts them to a sleep inducing lullaby. Reading lengthy TOS sends me to sleep, during the middle of day, when I’m wide awake, so they’d surely work a treat late at night.



Announcing the winner of the 2023 Lyttle Lytton Contest

24 July 2023

Last month the winners of the Lyttle Lytton Contest were announced. The Lyttle Lytton is a literary prize, but not of the usual variety. Instead of celebrating the good or excellent, Lyttle Lytton honours the worst of the worst. In this case bad, or terrible, would-be opening sentences from novels that will likewise turn out to be awful. The lines are not taken from actual published works though, instead they are devised by contest participants vying to write the best bad sentence they can think of.


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What to do when no one likes the quirky links that you curate

11 July 2023

Well this wasn’t part of the plan. Imagine you’ve set yourself up as the editor of a (possibly informal) email newsletter featuring (what you consider to be) interesting, funny, and quirky links.

Except no one you send the newsletter to (possibly whether they wish to receive it or not) seems to find anything you’ve compiled to be the least bit amusing. Welcome to the world of online (sort of) publishing. The only consolation (maybe) is no one can unsubscribe.

But stick with it I say, you never know when you might strike a chord with someone one day.


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Are you a movie buff, or a Buzzfeed movie buff?

30 April 2023

According to Buzzfeed, if you’ve seen the following fourteen movies, you’re a movie buff:

Methinks a number of movies, one in particular, have been omitted from this list…