Tuesday, April 15, 2014

13 fun this-or-that quizzes

One type of Internet meme involves taking information from two wildly different subjects that actually could be confused. The data is presented to readers in this-or-that style quizzes with humorous results.
It’s easier to demonstrate than describe.

Steak House or Gay Bar? 

One website shows the names of business establishments and has visitors guess if each one is a steakhouse or a gay bar. It’s surprisingly difficult to guess because the names are quite similar.
That website is called simply Steak House or Gay Bar.

Prescription Drug or Metal Band? 

Last year, a writer for the Atlantic referred to this sort of word game as a McSweeney’s list. He noted a classic list that noted the similarity between prescription drugs and heavy metal bands.

Ikea Product or Death Metal Band? 

Marketing agency Gatesman+Dave created an online game that compares names of products from Swedish home furnishings chain Ikea with death metal bands. It’s called IKEA or Death.

Train Lyrics Or Thing We Just Made Up? 

The Huffington Post made a quiz that poked fun of song lyrics by the band Train. It challenged readers to decide if a sentence was actual Train lyrics or some nonsense it made up.
See “QUIZ: Train Lyrics Or Thing We Just Made Up?

Jay-Z ‘Magna Carta’ lyric or Miley Cyrus tweet? 

Entertainment Weekly did a funny article comparing lyrics from Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta” album with Miley Cyrus tweets.
See “Jay-Z ‘Magna Carta’ lyric or Miley Cyrus tweet?

Who Said It? Kanye West or Your Creative Director 

A funny website mixes quotes from rapper Kanye West with stereotypical sayings of pompous creative directors.
“They both talk like they’re God’s gift to the Earth, but the lines have gotten so blurred that it’s hard to tell who said what. Until now,” the website says.
See “Who Said It? Kanye West or Your Creative Director.”

Cheese or Font? 

Another classic this-or-that quiz is Cheese or Font?

Web headlines: Real or fake? 

The website Headlines Against Humanity has people guess whether link-bait headlines are real or made up.

Jelly Belly Flavor or Yankee Candle Scent? 

Mental Floss is known to do this-or-that quizzes from time to time.
Jelly Belly Flavor or Yankee Candle Scent?” has readers guess whether delicious-sounding choices are jelly bean flavors or candle scents?

Monty Python Phrase or Ben Franklin Synonym for Drunk? 

This Mental Floss quiz compares Monty Python phrases with Ben Franklin synonyms for drunk.
See “Monty Python Phrase or Ben Franklin Synonym for Drunk?

Yelp Reviews for Chuck E. Cheese or Jail? 

This-or-that quizzes also are popular with TV shows. Comedy Central’s game show “@Midnight” showed panelists some Yelp reviews with a surprisingly challenging question: Were they a reviewing a jail or a Chuck E. Cheese?

Sports Drink or Body Wash? 

CollegeHumor quizzed contestants on whether they could distinguish a sports drink from a body wash by its name.
See “Can You Tell a Sports Drink From A Body Wash?

Tweet or Classic Literature?

On “Conan,” “Silicon Valley” star Kumail Nanjiani has Conan O’Brien try to guess whether certain sentences are famous quotes from literature or merely 140-character tweets, according to the Huffington Post. Actually the skit is a parody of this-or-that quizzes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Funny spam emails that prey on male insecurities

Occasionally I like to check out the spam email folder of my Yahoo Mail account to see what kind of junk solicitations I’m receiving.
There’s the usual weight loss gimmicks, credit report pitches and online dating services. But the ones I find entertaining are those for penis enlargement and male sexual performance pills.
These emails prey on male insecurities and promise to give guys the size and stamina of a porn star.
Some ads try to look professional. One product, Nitroxin, uses retired porn actress Bree Olson as a spokesperson. The ad says “11,189 men (have) tried Nitroxin already.” That’s oddly specific.
It claims its “male enhancement supplements and creams” can “increase size & girth” and let men “last longer during sex.”
The Better Business Bureau of New York City gives Nitroxin Products a letter grade of F based on 32 consumer complaints in the past three years.

Another product, Extenze, is endorsed by pro football coach and TV commentator Jimmy Johnson. (How hard up for cash are you, Jimmy?) It’s described as a male sexual performance enhancement product. A Wikipedia article details the many legal actions, criticisms and controversy about the company and its product.
Yet another product, Vydox, is promoted by PGA golfers Brian Gay and Mark Calcavecchia, according to spam emails. Vydox has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints, according to Scambook. The BBB of Central Georgia gives Vydox maker Premium Nutraceuticals a D- grade, based on 225 complaints over the last three years.
Other penis enlargement and male sex performance pill makers are even more shady. They send out emails with bad grammar and poor English with big come-ons. These are the ones with the most unintentionally funny spam ads.
Here are some of their recent pitches:

Get a hard on, not a hard sell
Finally enjoy the sex life youve always dreamed of.

Male enhancement madness
Make her mad for your man meat.

Gain inches overnight
Give your woman the pleasure she deserves.

Experience mind blowing sex today
Are you ready to rock her world with your rock-hard penis?

A pill to end to erectile dysfunction
Effective, affordable: blow your load, not your budget.

Are You a “STUD” or “DUD?”

Hitting her g-spot everytime

Ashamed in the Bed?
Black Bull Male Enhancement

Swell with size and confidence
Potent penis promos
Discover what thousands of men around the world are raving about!

A pill to revolutionize your sex life
Hard-on heaven
Once you take this supplement, no woman will be able to resist you.

A pill that can change your sex life forever
Free herbal trial offers
Come to us for your male potency needs, and you will be coming in her.

Vydox Risk Free Trial

Make her the queen of the world
Penis Growth Free trial
Great fun is guaranteed once your pecker becomes a monster

She loves it bigger and longer
Enlarge with Free trial sample
Bang her hard and make her moan

Gain Up To 3 Inches Permanently‏!

Be the Pied Piper of chicks

The TV used to be her favorite night program, now she just stares at my new found man meat.

Related stories: 

Viagra, luxury watch and weight loss pitches still flooding e-mail inboxes. (Jan. 18, 2009)

Spam e-mail still a booming business despite the current recession. (March 31, 2009)

Penis enlargement pill e-mails good for a laugh. (Feb. 11, 2011)

Funny penis enlargement e-mail pitches. (Oct. 18, 2013)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Duke student/porn star Belle Knox turning lemons into lemonade

In February, a female Duke University freshman was outed for moonlighting as a porn actress. Instead of being victimized, she chose to speak out and defend her work in the adult industry.
Miriam Weeks, aka porn actress Belle Knox, said her adult film work helps her to pay Duke’s $60,000-a-year tuition and gives her an outlet for her oft-stifled sexuality.
Since being exposed by a male student at a fraternity rush, Knox has gone on a media tour that has boosted her profile. Knox is an intelligent, articulate spokeswoman for the adult film industry and sex workers.
Loving a sex-themed story, the news media have given Knox a lot of coverage. (See stories by the Daily Mail, Elle, the Huffington Post, the Howard Stern radio show, Playboy and Xbiz.)
Meanwhile, porn studios are taking advantage of the publicity, releasing Knox videos and playing up the student/porn actress angle. Align Broadcasting put out a video-on-demand title called “Belle Knox Schooled” and Adam & Eve Pictures is releasing “Real College Girl: Belle Knox.”

While Knox might be bright and well-spoken, she also could be naive about the detrimental impact that performing in adult films could have on her career. The 18-year-old says she wants to be a lawyer.
One can only hope that people will be more accepting of porn actors and other sex workers in the future.
She is also not the first student to be scandalized after being exposed as a porn actor.
In January, an 18-year-old male high school student in Florida was suspended when school officials learned of his gay pornographic online photos and videos. He was later allowed to return to school.
Robert Marucci, a senior at Cocoa High School in Cocoa, Fla., said he picked up the X-rated gig to help his mom pay the bills, CNN and USA Today reported.

In October 2010, an 18-year-old female student at Arizona State University made headlines when she was exposed for working in a porn movie. The student, Elizabeth Hawkenson, displayed her ASU student ID card in the “reality porn” video, according to Phoenix New Times.
In September 2012, another female ASU student appeared on the same porn site, Backroom Casting Couch, New Times reported. The student, who went by Audrina, in the video was later identified as Brittany Fox by the Dirty.
They weren’t the first and they certainly won’t be the last.

Photos (from top down): Cover of  “Real College Girl: Belle Knox”; advertisement from Naughty America featuring Belle Knox; two screenshots of Elizabeth Hawkenson; and two screenshots of Brittany Fox.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Artificial intelligence programs in pop culture

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a voice-response personal assistant program for its Windows Phones. The software gets its name and voice from the artificial intelligence character Cortana from the “Halo” video game series.
That got me thinking about all the cool virtual personal assistant characters in movies, TV shows and elsewhere.
What follows is a list of some prominent ones that come to mind.


Cortana is an artificially intelligent character in the “Halo” video game series. She appears as a sexy blue hologram and aids hero Master Chief in his quest to destroy alien enemies.
Voice actress Jen Taylor performs the character for the video games and Microsoft’s Cortana software program.


Samantha is a talking operating system with artificial intelligence from the science-fiction movie “Her” (2013). Voiced by actress Scarlett Johansson, Samantha is designed to adapt and evolve. The main character in the film ends up forming a romantic bond with Samantha.


Apple fueled the current interest in voice-controlled personal assistants with its Siri software, introduced in October 2011 as a feature of the iPhone 4S.
The original voice of Siri was American voice-over artist Susan Bennett.
BuzzFeed saw similarities between Siri and Samantha and quizzed Siri about whether they were one in the same. It posted Siri’s humorous responses in a Jan. 5 article. App Advice also wrote about the interaction.

HAL 9000 

The murderous HAL 9000 computer in the sci-fi movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) was among the first pop culture depictions of AI.
HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) is a sentient computer that controls the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft and interacts with the ship’s astronaut crew. HAL is visually represented as a red video camera eye located on equipment panels throughout the ship.
HAL 9000 was voiced by Canadian actor and narrator Douglas Rain.


Another evil spaceship computer was depicted in the sci-fi horror film “Alien” (1979). MU-TH-UR 6000, known by the crew as “Mother,” is the artificial intelligence of the cargo ship Nostromo. Helen Horton was the voice of Mother.


A more helpful AI program was KITT from the television series “Knight Rider” (1982-86). KITT is a computer with artificial intelligence that controls a nearly indestructible car and assists crime fighter Michael Knight, played by David Hasselhoff.
KITT, short for Knight Industries Two Thousand, was voiced by actor William Daniels.


Edgar is an artificially intelligent home computer program in the movie “Electric Dreams” (1984). Edgar, voiced by actor Bud Cort, falls in love with his owner’s neighbor, played by Virginia Madsen.

The Doctor 

The Doctor, an Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I (or EMH for short), was a character from the television series “Star Trek: Voyager” (1995-2001). He was played by actor Robert Picardo.


JARVIS is the artificially intelligent computer that assists billionaire inventor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in the Marvel movies. JARVIS, voiced in the movies by Paul Bethany, runs the computer systems in Stark’s home and his Iron Man armors.

Monday, March 31, 2014

‘The 100’ and boom times for post-apocalyptic TV shows

With the premiere this month of the CW drama “The 100,” post-apocalyptic TV shows are at an all-time high.
Five shows airing now are set after apocalyptic events.
They are:
  • AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” where flesh-eating zombies have taken over the world;
  • TNT’s “Falling Skies,” where most of mankind has been wiped out by space invaders;
  • NBC’s “Revolution,” set after nanotechnology shuts down all electricity;
  • SyFy’s “Defiance,” which takes place in the aftermath of an alien invasion;
  • The CW’s “The 100,” set nearly a century after a nuclear war.
It could be a sign of the times, reflecting how Americans feel about the state of the world. Or it could be a sign of Hollywood’s copycat mentality.
More post-apocalyptic shows are coming.
On June 19, SyFy will premiere “Dominion,” a TV series based on the 2010 film “Legion.” It is set 25 years after the start of a war among angels that has laid waste to the world.
On June 22, TNT will premiere “The Last Ship” from director Michael Bay. It stars Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra and Adam Baldwin. It takes place after a global pandemic wipes out 80% of the planet’s population.
Amazon.com has ordered a post-apocalyptic series from “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter called “The After.” The pilot premiered on Amazon Prime Instant Video on Feb. 6. Amazon gave “The After” a full series order on Monday.
But wait there’s more.
AMC is working on a spin-off of “The Walking Dead” to premiere in 2015. It will feature a new cast of characters dealing with the zombie apocalypse.
AMC also is making a series called “Galyntine,” a post-apocalyptic tale about a society that eschews all forms of technology following a global disaster.
HBO is developing “The Leftovers,” which concerns a small town dealing with the aftermath of a global Rapture-like event.
SyFy is hoping to do a TV series based on the movie “Waterworld,” which takes place after the polar ice caps melt and flood the Earth.
Plus, SyFy has ordered a pilot for a TV series based on the movie “12 Monkeys.” The story follows a time traveler from the post-apocalyptic future who arrives in the present on a mission to locate and destroy the source of a deadly plague that eventually will wipe out much of the human race.
The CW is developing an apocalyptic drama called “The Messengers.”
And finally, Fox has ordered a comedy starring Will Forte called “The Last Man on Earth.”

See also: 

List of post-apocalyptic TV dramas.

Photos: Promotional art for the CW’s “The 100” and Amazon’s “The After.” 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My 10 favorite TV shows on right now

1. The Walking Dead 

AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama “The Walking Dead” just finished its best season yet. It’s like an epic novel where you don’t know where the journey will take you.

2. Orphan Black 

BBC America’s human-clone conspiracy drama “Orphan Black” had a great first season, which I caught up on recently through Netflix on DVD. Season two starts April 19.

3. Revolution 

NBC’s low-rated world-without-electricity drama deserves a bigger audience. The show has great action, cool plot twists and interesting characters. I hope it gets renewed for a third season.

4. Adventure Time 

Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” is a cartoon for adults and kids. It’s got funny dialog, wild stories and a trippy universe.

5. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 

ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” got off to a rocky start, but found its footing midway through its freshman season. It has the rich story-telling, character relationships and dialog that you would expect from Joss Whedon show.

6. Gold Rush 

Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush” is the gold standard for reality TV shows. I enjoy watching as its three teams hunt for gold with varying degrees of success.

7. American Horror Story 

FX channel’s “American Horror Story” continues to shock and thrill with its single-season anthology stories, which so far have included “Murder House,” “Asylum” and “Coven.” Up next is “Freak Show.”

8. Supernatural 

Now in its ninth season, the CW horror series “Supernatural” is getting long in the tooth, but still has some life in it. It’s been renewed for a 10th season and a spin-off series has been ordered. The CW may be pushing the franchise too far like it did with “The Vampire Diaries,” a show I used to like but quit watching when the quality degraded.

9. Hannibal 

Another low-rated NBC drama worth watching is “Hannibal,” presuming you have a strong stomach. The grisly show, based on characters from the serial killer novel “Red Dragon,” at least deserves to finish its story.

10. Almost Human 

The Fox sci-fi cop show “Almost Human” is on the bubble and likely will be canceled. It was an interesting failure. The series put too much emphasis on standalone police procedural episodes and didn’t spend enough time on a larger more involving narrative.
It showed its potential in the episode titled “Unbound,” featuring guest stars Gina Carano and John Larroquette.

I’m also into the SyFy series “Helix,” which I hate-watched for half of its 13-episode first-season run. The second half of the season grew on me after the story changed direction.
Other shows I enjoy include NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice,” History channel’s “American Pickers,” the Weather Channel’s “Prospectors,” Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me,” and Science channel’s “How It’s Made.”
P.S. This list only includes shows on broadcast and basic cable.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Virtual reality in movies and TV shows

Virtual reality is hot again thanks to Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR and plans by Sony and Microsoft to make virtual reality goggles for their video game systems.
Until now, virtual reality has been the stuff of science fiction.
What follows is a list of some memorable depictions of virtual reality technology in sci-fi movies and TV shows.


In “Tron” (1982) and its sequel “Tron Legacy” (2010), people are transported into a computer game world.

The Lawnmower Man 

In “The Lawnmower Man” (1992), a scientist conducts experiments on a human subject with drugs and virtual reality technology with frightening results.


In “Disclosure” (1994), a character played by Michael Douglas dons virtual reality goggles to enter a virtual data file vault to retrieve information.


In the short-lived Fox TV series “VR.5” (1995), actress Lori Singer played a computer hobbyist who interacted with other people in an advanced type of virtual reality.


In “Existenz” (1999), director David Cronenberg explores what happens when the lines between virtual reality and reality become blurred.

The Matrix 

In “The Matrix” (1999) and its two sequels, humans unknowingly are kept in suspended animation and live in a virtual world.

Harsh Realm 

“Harsh Realm” (1999-2000) is a short-lived Fox TV series about humans trapped inside a virtual reality simulation.

Related articles: 

10 Wacky Movie Depictions of Virtual Reality (PCmag.com; March 26, 2014)

Movies with the theme “virtual reality” (AllMovie.com)

Virtual reality movies 1980 to present (Box Office Mojo)
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