Poking Holes In Common Idioms

It is what it is.”

Not only is this completely redundant, but it also makes you sound as dumb as you are stupid.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

I personally have eaten almost every cake that I have had. I’m not really sure what else you do with a cake… unless you’re that weird cake farts lady. Side note: if you haven’t seen that video, you should, it’s totally gross.

Make sure to stop and smell the roses.”

I try not to do this, A) because I really don’t see roses growing on the side of the road, at least on my regular walking paths and B) because you might be late for something that’s actually important.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Yeah, Ghenghis Khan raped and pillaged half a continent and created the Mongol Empire… with a pen.

 “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

That just all depends on the kind of bird in question. A crow in the hand is worth nothing, and two crows in the bush is also worth nothing. An iPhone with Flappy-bird on it in the hand is worth a butt-load on ebay. Two iPhones with Flappy-bird in the bush is worth two buttloads on ebay… I mean they are sitting in a bush so they are pretty much free for the taking.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Unless the cover has a an Oprah book club sticker on it… then judge away my friend.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

Well that settles it… the egg came first.

Her, Directed by Spike Jonze

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Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, covers the strange and unlikely romantic relationship between Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his operating system. It has been a critical success and aside from a few extremely uncomfortable scenes, was one of the better movies I have seen this year.

Although the film is essentially about a man being in love with his computer, I did not find the plot unbelievable at all. In fact, the only part I was skeptical of was that Joaquin Phoenix would ever have a chance to go home with Olivia Wilde when he’s rockin’ a pedophile mustache that would give Jerry Sandusky the creeps. But the idea of someone falling in love with their operating system is not entirely far-fetched. I mean, personally, I think SIRI is a total B-word, but give her the ability to feel, learn, joke, love, and Scarlett Johansson’s voice… we’ve got ourselves a whole different kind of situation.

Even  if you could never see yourself having phone sex with Scarlett’s bodiless voice,  I am sure you can at least buy one of the underlining metaphors of the film. The film basically reflects the increasing disengagement that us humans have with our physical surroundings and the way we are dependent on technology.  How many times have you seen multiple people sitting next to each other but  all fully immersed in their iPhones? And how often have you been to a concert where, instead of watching the show, everyone is snapchatting it to someone else? We get so caught up in the thousands of conversations we have online or via text message, that we forget about our actual lives. In fact, this metaphor becomes even more apparent when the operating system herself isn’t even satisfied with one conversation.

SPOILER ALERT: The operating system ends up maintaining some astronomical amount of simultaneous conversations and even falling in love with a number of them, which she confesses to Theodore Twombly towards the end of the film. Her does a good job of subtly explaining how we are rapidly losing our interpersonal skills and in a not-so-distant-future might be able to get by without any real human contact whatsoever.

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Phoenix does a great job of getting the audience to generally feel his emotions and pain and you find yourself rooting for the success of his unusual relationship. The operating system, Samantha, breaks your heart with her Pinocchio-esque need to be a real human. She feels that the only difference between her and a human is her body, or lack thereof and she wants so badly to be able to touch and feel Theodore, but sadly she cannot.

It may seem ridiculous, but  midway through the film I actually started to see the operating system as a human and it really got me thinking. If an artificial intelligence has the capacity to learn, and feel and even have original thoughts, why couldn’t you consider it a human? It was Descartes, one of the most famous philosophers of all time, who said, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” which translates to “I think, therefore I am.”  Can Samantha, the operating system not think? Is she not self-aware? Did she not name herself Samantha!? You may argue that the difference between her and a human is the five senses. Well Samantha can’t taste, smell or touch but she can hear and see through the microphone and camera lens of Theodore’s cellphone. Would you say that a person born without a sense of taste or smell is any less human?

Now, I am not here to say that the operating system is a human or not, but I was certainly impressed with the way Her made me question what it is to be human. Despite me ruining a solid portion of the plot, if you have not seen it already, I highly recommend the film. If not for the poetic dialogue, the exceptional acting, or seeing Amy Adams in an almost unrecognizable role, then see it for some information about an innovative new use for dead cats.

Valentine’s Day

February 14th used to be a day to celebrate love. A day of card sending, of flower picking, of chocolate eating, of romantic gestures, of flying babies who arbitrarily shoot nubile tweens, teens and young adults with hormone-dipped arrows, of bloody sacrifices to Roman gods of agriculture, of Chicagoan mobsters massacring each other, of war-hungry emperors and secret illegal marriages, and of teddy bear giving… I almost forgot about teddy bears.

It seems strange to rant about the culture of my own generation, but I think someone my age needs to stand up for good old V-Day. Of course you all have heard it said that Valentine’s day is nothing more than a Hallmark holiday, and to some extent that is true. February 14th has been over-commercialized to an absurd degree, especially in the last decade or two. In fact, it seems as though my generation… the “Millennials”, are all but fed up with Valentine’s day. We feel pressured into spending our money on things like flowers and diamonds… and teddy bears, and we just don’t think this pressure is fair. We feel that the media is telling us how to put a price on our love and we should just be able to love each other every day for free.

“Valentine’s Day is a multi-million dollar industry” 

The media destroyed Valentine’s Day”

I love my wife/girlfriend the other 364 days a year… why should Valentines’s Day be so special?” 

I’m sure you have heard these things said before. Probably not direct quotes, but the essence is there right?. Now, I agree with all of these statements, at least on some level, but I am going to play a little devil’s advocate… wait… Cupid’s advocate.. yeah that’s better.

First off, let’s all back off the media, as well as the card manufactures, jewelers, restaurateurs, and flower shops for a second. They are simply supplying the demand that We have created. Maybe it is just because I plan on having a career in marketing one day, but I firmly believe the media and commerce are reflections of society and not the other way around. I also think that blaming the Valentine’s Day merch’ vendors, like Hallmark and Kay Jewelers, is nothing but a testament to how irrational of consumers We actually are. They are not forcing us to buy these things, they are simply giving us what we want. Maybe it’s our obsessive need to one-up each other, but there seems to be a somewhat competitive nature to V-day. We are competing against other couples to see who gets the best or most thoughtful gift for their Valentine and it has turned us all off to the true meaning of the holiday. I guess my point here is that we should stop blaming the media and Hallmark for ruining Valentine’s day, when we clearly did it ourselves.

Secondly, I am sick of the “I love my girlfriend every day so February 14th isn’t anything special” thing. IT’S A HOLIDAY… BRO… For the Christian’s in the crowd, you acknowledge every day, or at least you are supposed to, that Jesus Christ died for your sins. He is just as dead and his death is just as significant today as it was on Monday and maybe even last Thursday, right? Well allow me to introduce you to Good Friday. The single day you all celebrate and honor his martyrdom. Also what exactly is good about him being crucified? The name of the holiday just doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll get back to the point. Just because you have one day a year where you actively commemorate the death of your lord and savior, doesn’t mean you forget about him and the other 364 days you don’t appreciate his sacrifice. This is the same case for Valentine’s day. We may love our lovers every single day, and that’s great, but is it so wrong to have one day a year that we go out of our way to express this to one another?

It doesn’t matter which Valentine’s Day origin you choose to go with, there are tons of them. Maybe you want to honor a Priest named Valentine illegally marrying people in direct defiance of Emperor Claudius II, who forbid marriage because single men made better soldiers. Maybe you want to commemorate the Pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia, where basically a bunch of Romans met in a cave and murdered a goat and a dog and then proceeded to smear blood on all the crops and women. I’m not sure why you would choose that one, but hey it’s an option. Either way, Valentine’s Day today does not have to be a religious thing, it doesn’t have to be a lucrative greeting-card opportunity, it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, and hell, you don’t even have to have someone to call your Valentine. You don’t need reservations at a five star restaurant, just write “I love you” on the bathroom mirror when you’re done taking shower or something. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate V-Day, but don’t let some money or a weird hatred towards Hallmark cause you to lose sight of how important love really is.

This Valentine’s Day let’s all take a break from being cynical and simply set aside a day to celebrate the power of love.