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An airplane in-seat entertainment center filled with movies you don't want to see

Fly the meh skies

Fly the meh skies published on No Comments on Fly the meh skies

I know, powered flight is a modern miracle, and I should spend the few hours it takes to whisk me from one coast of North America to another suffused in wonder and awe. But when I get up at 4:00 am for a 6:00 am flight, that level of presence and centeredness is a little out of reach. Even at 20,000 feet. So permit me the quintessentially First-World Problem of meh-level in-flight movies.

In fairness to Air Canada, there’s one category of in-flight movies not listed here: I Would Be Betraying Alex If I Watched This Without Her. (Which is why I passed up Spy this morning when it became clear sleeping wasn’t an option. You’re welcome, honey.)

(I drew this somewhere over Saskatchewan. I’m in Toronto right now, on my way to Boston for Inbound 2015. Wave and say hi if you’re there, too!)


2010 in review: Facebook without Facebook

2010 in review: Facebook without Facebook published on No Comments on 2010 in review: Facebook without Facebook

Here’s the next cartoon in my ret­ro­spective of 2010 in social media. I’ll be posting the individual cartoons all week – but meanwhile, here’s the whole thing in video.

The Bourne Connectivity

The Bourne Connectivity published on 2 Comments on The Bourne Connectivity

This one came to me while I was watching an episode of Burn Notice (please hold your applause until the end of the post), where Michael, Fiona, Sam and Jesse have realized they have a piece of unspeakably important information in their hands. And maybe a decade ago, I would have found their dilemma compelling.

But today? In a few minutes, they could post it to Tumblr, Posterous, WordPress, 4chan and – just for the hell of it – Plenty of Fish, with plenty of time left over for Michael and Fiona to agonize over their relationship, for Sam and Fiona to explore their rivalry for Michael’s attention (I suspect they each had emotionally distant parents), and for Michael and Jesse to finally acknowledge the sexual tension between them.

It’s possible I’m overreaching. That may have to be a two-parter.

My point is this: time was when a screenwriter’s greatest enemies were the studio system, writer’s block and, well, other screenwriters. But now writers working in the action/adventure/suspense/blowing-stuff-up genre also have to contrive ways to deprive a character of connectivity.

So to the action movie clichés of which wire to cut and cars slamming into fruit carts, you can soon add batteries running low, cell phone jammers, and “Why did I choose AT&T?”

Freeze! Zoom in! Now enhance. And fart rainbows and turn lead into gold.

Freeze! Zoom in! Now enhance. And fart rainbows and turn lead into gold. published on 3 Comments on Freeze! Zoom in! Now enhance. And fart rainbows and turn lead into gold.

It’s getting to be a joke: the magic things cops can do with computers. “Wait – there’s a reflection in the teakettle! Magnify! Enhance! Now pull a DNA sample from the image! I don’t care, just do it – boost the power if you have to! Crossmatch it with every person named Brent in the continental United States! Damn, this new version of GIMP rocks!”

Annnnd… DING! Three seconds later, up pops the photo of the perpetrator, out go the cops to haul him in and America sleeps a little more soundly tonight.

We’ve grown to accept this, partly because without these little storytelling cheats our streets would be crawling with fictitious master criminals executing horrific, if imaginary, atrocities. And partly because we have a tacit understanding with directors that they’re going to keep us entertained, and there’s nothing pulse-pounding about “Well-elp, might as well take the rest of the week off while this thing renders.”

But maybe what really sells us on the idea of magic high tech down at the precinct is that, deep down, we kind of wish it were true (never mind the bladder-emptying implications for civil liberties and privacy). If we were being stalked by a sociopathic ex-con determined to exact a terrible revenge for our having sentenced him to 30 years in prison, well, dammit, we’d want those nice CSI people to have every tool they needed to stop him in the nick of time.

And maybe, just maybe, that technology could trickle down to, say, the prosumer market. “Computer… draw cartoon!”