Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spreading the word by shutting up...?

OK, so an organization called Communication Shutdown is trying to make a statement about autism by saying nothing.  They're asking people to skip using Facebook, Twitter and the like on Monday, November 1 to get people to see how hard it is for autistics to communicate.

This makes as much sense as advertising hot dogs by giving away fish sticks.

Their argument is that social communication is one of the biggest challenges for people with autism. The idea is, if you skip using them for a day, you'll get an idea of how hard it is for autistics to use them.

How, exactly?  All it'll do is give you several hours of your day back.  Sounds more like national turn your TV off day than anything that's going to help autism.

You can more easily understand what autism feels like by logging on.  You know how hard it is to detect sarcasm online?  How without the inflection of voice and all the verbal cues we hear and see every day, you simply can't tell if a person is kidding or not? And how we have to resort on acronyms like HHOK (Ha ha only kidding) and NSAIRMI (No shit, asshole, I really meant it)?  You know how embarrassing it feels to ask "Um, sorry, but are you making a joke?"

Imagine what it's like standing in front of a person and not being able to tell if they're kidding. THAT'S what it's like being autistic, or someone with Aspergers or any of the other syndromes in what's known as the Autism Spectrum. 

High functioning Aspies and autistics are PERFECTLY good at communication.  It's the "Social" bit they don't get.  They don't have the wiring in their head that allows them to have empathy or grasp a joke.  It comes off as naivete or callousness just plain being weird.  It's as infuriating as being in a foreign country, barely being able to understand the language, the idioms and the humor, and constantly choosing the wrong word, and getting weird looks or outright laughed at.

Here's a slogan - "When you're autistic, you just don't get it".

The key to education is communication.  Greg Grunberg, late of Heroes and Group Sex and soon of Love Bites is spearheading an organization about epilepsy literally called "Talk about it".  All these recent "It gets better" videos are all about making sure kids understand that bullying will end, and things will improve.  And somehow this group thinks that NOT talking about autism for a day will help, save for the money they collect for all the people pledging to log off for a day? 

Now don't get me wrong.  I'd love it if other advocacy groups tried this publicity gimmick.  Like if Peta chose not to talk to meat-eaters, to show them how much less exciting their day would be without vegans in it.  They could call it "shut out the meat-eaters day" And I could call it "Second Christmas". 

And I'd LOVE to see Jenny McCarthy shut up for a day.  I don't see HER name in the mosaic of well-meaning people promising to skip a day tomorrow.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eat Shit and Die? THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE Should Be So Lucky!

WARNING: Not for the easily grossed-out (such as myself)!

To each his/her own, that’s my motto. Different strokes for different folks. Can’t please everybody. Still, to slightly paraphrase Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force, a person’s got to know his/her limitations.

The Human Centipede reached my limit, I’m afraid. Frankly, I couldn’t get any farther than the movie trailers on YouTube. I just can’t bring myself to sit through an entire movie—or even *ahem* segments of such—in which characters are kidnapped and forced to have their mouths surgically attached to someone’s anus to form the titular monstrosity. Hell, just thinking about it was my limit (my stomach is still a little queasy)! So call me a wuss if you must, but I simply can’t bring myself to sit through an entire film about a batshit crazy German surgeon who used to separate conjoined twins and now kidnaps people instead to achieve his lifelong dream of creating a human centipede. I will admit, however, that the trailers—did I mention there’s a sequel on the way?—had me laughing and cringing at the same time, even as my stomach threatened to rebel.

The Los Angeles Times
ran an excellent article in May pointing out the film’s unexpected humanity as well as its gross-out factor. That and the trailers are as close as I intend to get to actually seeing The Human Centipede, thank you.

I know my limitations.

Rated “C” for coprophagia.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Five-Pound Gummy Bear

Not five pounds of gummy bears.  That's perfectly reasonable; indeed, it's the main reason we joined our local warehouse club, so that we would have access to purchase of five-pound bags of gummy bears at any moment.

No, a single, uni-flavored gummy bear.

A gummy bear the size of a premature child.

For the same price as TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS of individual gummy bears.

The tri-flavored gummy costs six dollars more.

You'd better really like the flavor you choose.

12,600 calories.  If it could be converted directly into energy, it could power your car for a trip to the headquarters of the Bowflex corporation and back.

This is a classic example of a gift that was not well thought through. Sounds like a great idea, looks adorable, it'll get a round of laughs, but then YOU'LL go home and the poor recipient will have to live with the thing.  It might as well be a gummy albatross, complete with neck rope.

Other examples of poorly thought out gifts are those jokey sex toys you find in Spencer gifts, collectible items from the Franklin Mint, and children's toys containing loose glitter.

OK, let's try to turn this into a positive.  How can we make this palatable?

What if you scooped this middle out like a candy bowl, and filled it with assorted regular sized gummy bears, turning it into a fecund gummy matriach, ready to spawn chewy fruit-flavored progeny?

You'd still have a couple pounds of gummy-viscera to dispose of, but at least you've jazzed the shell up a bit.

You could dice it up and make them more finger friendly, but this removes the cuteness of eating a small candy animal.  Unless you're a Dungeons and Dragons fan, and you can pretend they're little Gelatinous Cubes.

Eventually, you'll find yourself adding "gummy" to all your recipes to use the confusticated thing up.  Gummite (the source material from which all gummy candies are made) melts readily into a honeylike goo which mixes well in hot beverages, but will never come off your dishes if you let it set up.

If you know (or care) little enough about the person that you think this would be a good gift, cut your losses and buy a gift certificate.  The same level of "I had to buy you SOMEthing" with much less "I think you are a sugar-obsessed horror who might just eat this while we watch if we're lucky".

Available from Vat 19