Writers Beware

May 8, 2017 – Replacing human jobs with computers is nothing new. However, to realize that robots will replace five million jobs by 2020, according to Digital Trends, or half the jobs within 30 years, according to Business Insider, is frightening.

Thankfully, I am a writer so I don’t have to worry about replacement, right?

Scrolling through the LinkedIn feed recently, this headline caught my eye: “What if Hollywood Replaced Writers with AI?” Of course, I clicked to read more and discovered that artificial intelligence algorithms wrote a short film, It’s No Game. They made it into a short film and cast David Hasselhoff to star the main role.

That’s right. AI wrote every line of the screenplay. All seven minutes and 40 seconds of it.

At first, I thought, how cool. A few seconds later, I began to feel envious. My human brain has been plugging away at this game for years, and though I consider myself lucky that I receive a paycheck to write nonfiction all day, I haven’t had any real success with fiction, my real passion.

I watched the film, and although I can’t wrap my head around the technology, or if the guy who programmed the AI could be considered the actual author because created the “author”, I’m back to thinking it is cool. Weird, cheesy and nonsensical, but cool. How did AI come up with a plot? It didn’t make any sense, but there was still a solid plot. And how did it write that ever so evasive first line? They are my biggest struggles.

I’m also relieved to see that with the product AI put out, human screenwriters aren’t likely to lose their jobs anytime soon. But in 50 years, who knows.

A bedtime snack?

April 24, 2017 — I used to work with a woman who bragged about giving her kids Benadryl before long car trips to make them sleep.

If she’d known about Kush Cakes, she could have saved herself from the awful stares of her co-workers when she told us about it.

Kush Cakes, advertised as the ultimate psychedelic brownie, are made with ingredients that are legal in every state by a licensed pharmacist and with a formula to help support relaxation and sleep. They also contain hemp protein, melatonin, valerian root and coco, and have a logo that resembles another hemp product that you might be familiar with.

Although the manufacturer says that the brownies are for adults only, especially those who need to relax after consuming energy drinks to fuel themselves at work all day, I’m sure the Benadryl mom would have an easier time giving her kids a brownie with rather than a teaspoonful of nasty tasting medicine.

I like the idea of eating a brownie before bed over popping an Ambien. At least Kush Cakes don’t have a history of making people do weird things like sleepwalk in the nude, or eat everything in the kitchen without any recollection. However, they are pricey.

Find out more about these delectable goodies at www.mykushcakes.com.

Need a Good Laugh? Surf the Web.

March 13, 2017 – The beauty of the Internet is that there is always something new to discover.

I came across a site appropriately named watchitbackwards.com, which is devoted to providing a good laugh to movie and television fans.

The premise is that story lines in reverse create a completely different and humorous outcome. Some plot lines even improve. For example:

“If you watch The Wizard Of Oz backwards, it’s about Dorothy escaping Oz by running away from the Emerald City and getting home to Kansas in a flying house.”

Or, “if you watch Pretty Woman backwards, it’s about Richard Gere transforming Julia Roberts into a hooker.”

And my favorite, “if you watch Scarface backwards, it’s about a man who gives up cocaine and crime to follow his dream of becoming a dishwasher to earn enough money so he can visit Cuba.”

The site is updated frequently, so even the latest Oscar nominations have been added. And if you’re clever enough to come up with your own backwards movie or television show, the site welcomes submissions.

Listening to the Silence

silence5February 27, 2017 – When I worked in PR and advertising back in the day, we spent a lot of time assembling media packages. My co-workers and I would amuse ourselves by discussing the deeper questions in life while working the assembly line of brochures, trinkets, and press releases. It helped pass the time.

I once posed the question – would you rather lose your sight or your hearing – and received a witty response from a co-worker. He said, “My hearing, so I don’t have to listen to this absurd conversation.”

We chuckled; he had a quick sense of humor. Still, the go to response for most people would be to keep their sight. Getting through life without it would be difficult. However, the thought of never hearing a baby’s laugh or a beautiful piece of music is enough to make me at least ponder the question.

I began to take notice of how often I was surrounded by silence after that conversation. In the office, I sit at my desk surrounded by white noise and the sound of my co-workers typing on their keyboards; in my car I listen to the radio; At home, it’s conversation, the television or music. Even when I go to bed at night, the sounds of the ceiling fan or the humidifier fill the room.

The last time I drove to work in silence was several years ago when my battery light came on as I was driving onto I-95. I managed to pull over and quickly restart, but fearing it would happen again, I pulled back on the road after turning off the music. I surrounded myself with the sounds of silence, and because the windows were shut, even the traffic seemed hushed.

It made me ultra-aware of what is going on around me, and affected me in other places outside of my car; the clock in work that sits above my desk, for instance, began to drive me crazy. Oddly, I could hear it tick, and had to turn on music to drown it out. I’d never noticed it before.

There is something about silence that is appealing. As long as there isn’t an annoying clock ticking in the background to spoil it.

On Skipping the Academy Awards this Year

88thoscarshomepageFebruary 3, 2017 – A few weeks ago, I wrote a post focusing on the Golden Globe Awards and how I looked forward to them, even though I had not seen any of the nominated films. With the Globes covering television, many nominations included shows I watched so I wouldn’t be completely lost. I also promised to see as many nominated films as I could to prepare for the Oscars.

Now, I’ve changed my mind.

I am a movie fan and always watch the Oscars. Even though they drag on in the middle during the technical awards, I’ve enjoyed them since early childhood. This year, it will be the first time in 45 years that I won’t be in front of the television on Oscar night. Weird thing is, I’m OK with it.

So, why did this decision come so easy?

On Monday morning, I saw news clips of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the second of the big three of award season. I didn’t realize they’d been on Sunday night, and instead of feeling devastated I missed them, I was relieved since the clips showed focused on politics. I made up my mind right then that I would skip the Oscars on purpose to avoid the political madness.

There is a time and place for everything, for political protests and speeches and sharing opinions. I applaud people who march for a cause, and who discuss politics around the dinner table (to a degree). However, it saddens me that it’s taken over entertainment venues like award shows and Facebook. If I want to hear news about politics. I can turn on one of the cable news channels. Take note celebrities and my list of Facebook friends who are split evenly into both sides of the political aisle: I already know how you feel. I turn to you for entertainment, fun and friendship—not your political agenda.

Rarely do I offer others with my political opinions unless they ask for it, and I wish our celebrities and my Facebook friends would do the same. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I’ll bet the majority of the public feel the same.

That’s why, my friends, I am skipping the Oscars this year.

It Does a Body Good

imagesJanuary 27, 2011 – Quick! Name a sound more appealing than a baby’s laughter.

I don’t think you can.

Laughter is important both mentally and physically, whether you are a child or an adult, because it instantly improves your mood. It also works your abs, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts your immune system, and reduces pain by releasing endorphins.

It’s documented that people who have a positive outlook on life—those who tend to laugh freely—are better equipped to fight disease. Like crying, laughter also releases pent-up emotions, and brings more oxygen into the body, which makes the Joni Mitchell lyric ring true… “Laughing and crying, it’s the same release.”

A wise man once said, “We don’t stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing.” Here’s a little something to keep you young.