Updated on December 1, 2016
People of Earth, Furby has returned. And its beady eyes are aimed at your wallet.
For those not in the know, the original Furby was the Christmas gift of 1998, an animatronic, Mogwai-like fuzzball that spoke its own language when it wasn’tmaking rude noises. Like all fads, Furby was dying before its second birthday, and gone by 2002.
But wait! Furby returnedwith an upgrade in 2005, andagain in 2012. New versions have launched eachyear since. The $100 Furby Connectisthe most recent edition.
As with all Furbies, the Connect is plush and effusive and so annoying that one simply cannot comprehend its enduring popularity. It is designed for nostalgic hipsters and small children (6 and up per the box), andany parent who purchases one for their tyke is setting themselves up for immediatepsychological ruin. Let me put it this way:In my 25-plus years of writing about tech, thisis the only device I’ve tested that left my entire family pleading with me to turn it off within minutes of unboxing. Let me put it another way: Google “Furby” and the top question in the “People also ask” section is, “How do you turn off a Furby?”
And let me tell you: It is freakin’ hard to turn off a Furby.
Discretion has never been Furby’s strong suit. He hollers in pidgin English (aka “Furbish”) in an especially loud and shrill voice about nothing in particular, begs to be played with or sung to, and incessantly wiggles about like a kid jonesing on too many Froot Loops. There is no power button. With the Furby Connect, the toy ships with a “sleep mask,” which, when positioned perfectly eventually shuts the thing up. This is not instantaneous, however, taking as long as10 seconds to kick in. If you’ve slightly misaligned the mask or find yourself at all inebriated, Furby won’t go down at all, and you maywell fear that Furby has become self-aware and refusing toobey instruction, at least for the six hours of play time that four AA batteries will supply.
Of course, one Furby is buta gateway to a whole pack of them. Multiple Furbies will talk, sing, and fart in unison. The toy also is a gateway to the even more nefarious side of the Furbyverse: Furby Connect World, a mobile app that lets your Bluetooth-enabled Furby interact with a rudimentary video game designed for the 8-and-under set. Furby Connect World is a game where you hatch Furbies—dozens of them if you stick with it—and put them to work like virtual (yet cuddly) slaves. The reward? More Furbies, all of which mustbe exhaustingly fed, cleaned, and medicated in the increasingly chaotic virtual world. Your real Furby can even take an e-shit on a massive toilet that speaks volumes about the target audience for this game.
Paired properly via Bluetooth (which was not always a given in my testing), your real-world Furby will offer a running commentary about the goings on in the virtual-world game, hollering and screeching and laughing at the same damn thing, over and over. The game is playable without a real-world Furby, but doing so activates a Freemium version of the game. Some of the upgrades cost a pretty penny—so think carefully before handing your phone over to Junior.
I want to be clear: I’m not saying the Furby Connect is a bad product. It does exactly what it says it will do. What I am saying is that if you allow one in your home, you are mentally deranged.
To my family, I apologize deeply. That is all.
2/10 – Sad, really.
Updated on November 18, 2016
The inimitable Nic Cage plays Gary Faulknera samurai sword-wielding man who travels to Pakistan on a mission from God to capture Osama bin laden. And yes, this really happened. “>
The wild tale of Gary Brooks Faulkner, the 50-year-old Colorado construction worker who ventured into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden armed with a samurai sword and a mission from God, is a stranger-than-fiction story so bizarre its no wonder Hollywood snapped up the rights to turn it into a film.
When that film stars the one and only Nicolas Cage as the bespectacled hash-smoking Christian part-time handyman ex-con given to manic verbal diarrhea and fantastical delusions of grandeur, Faulkners eccentric life story zooms way past verisimilitude, speeding all the way back around to the kind of wonderfully insane art form in itself that we see too rarely from movie stars these days. Is it a bad performance? Is it good? Whatisgood, really, when Cage opts to put seriousness aside and embrace the crazy-eyed kookiness we love him for?
In other words: Cages star turn inArmy of One, directed by deadpan auteur Larry Charles (Borat), is right up there with the Nic Cagiest of Nic Cage roles. You might say it falls somewhere on the Cage spectrum between the coked-up cop antihero ofBad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleansand his impersonation of Charlie Kaufman inAdaptation. Brit comedy bad boy Russell Brand plays God, which should give you an idea of how serious and straight-faced an undertaking this is.
This is a film that lets Cage run rampant in nearly every scene like a bull in a china shop, which can admittedly become exhausting. And yet it captures the undercurrent of well-meaning humanity that drove the erratic, abrasive, but kind of lovable weirdo who truly believed he was doing the Lords work by bringing bin Laden to justice. (And, owing to a prior kidney condition, was supposed to be on dialysis treatment three times a week.)
Army of Oneis also a movie in which Nicolas Cage as Gary Faulkner, who returned home a media darling and famously made the talk show rounds, revels in the attentionand delights at the thought of Nicolas Cage playing him in a movie.
Its almost a shame how unceremoniously this gem of a Cage performance is being dumped into a mostly digital release by the Weinsteins (who have executive producer credits). Perhaps true Cage fans will catch it on VOD, in the privacy of their own homes, where no one can see you cackle at the sight of Nicolas Cage, gray beard and long ponytail, waxing poetic about chicken wings and lecturing strangers on how to buy toilets at Home Depot, delivering lines like They dont call me the psychic wizard for nothin! with nasally, wild-eyed gusto.
The real-life saga of Faulkners one-man odyssey was an epic misadventure for the ages. After getting the idea to hunt down Osama from God in a dream in 2004, the Greeley, Colorado, native made several attempts to travel to the Middle East. They included buying a 21-foot yacht he had no idea how to operate, which he planned to sail halfway across the globe in with no life jackets, no safety kit, and no training. He set off from San Diego and made it as far as Mexico before a hurricane wrecked it and sent him home early.
Another failed boat trip later and Faulkner graduated to flying, still with no conceivable plans for traveling in a foreign land. By the time he actually made it to Pakistan for the first time, according to the film, he spent a month wandering the slums of Islamabad, having a blast, and entertaining the locals. But he was no closer to finding al-Qaedas leader and sending him to America to face retribution.
Updated on November 6, 2016
Depraved new shocker The Greasy Strangler recalls a tradition of late night cult favorites, full of severed limbs, psychedelia and fecal matter
The Greasy Strangler hits the big screen this week and is a strange, grisly homage to cult films and to the midnight moviegoing tradition. From the mad, the bad and the weird, the shocking to the surreal, here are a few of the late-night movies that set the scene for greasy strangling.
With El Topo, Alejandro Jodorowsky did not think hed simulated a psychedelic experience, he believed hed created the psychedelic itself. It was the first midnight movie, an acid western and an eastern, an experiment in cinematic alchemy featuring occult symbols, castration, self-immolation, a man savoring the taste of a high-heeled shoe, a game of Russian roulette played in church. To the uninitiated El Topo was confounding, but to its devotees, it was a religious experience, like midnight mass with more marijuana.
A film about characters vying for the title of the filthiest person alive. As its tagline suggests, Pink Flamingos was an exercise in poor taste, but it was also a celebration of the outr, a tribute to freaks, degenerates, rejects, anyone whos ever lived in a crib and really loved eggs. It existed outside the system, beyond the fringe, beyond pornography according to New York magazine. It established Divine as a cult icon and defined the midnight movie. Pink Phlegm-ingo Barf Bags were distributed at screenings if anyone vomited during the film, John Waters considered it a standing ovation.
Enter the Dragon
It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. Enter the Dragon dropped Bruce Lee into a James Bond storyline, one with no guns and a whole lot more ass-kicking. It introduced Jim Kelly as a black power hero who beats up racist cops trying to keep him from the martial arts tournament where the film takes place. It brought the kung fu craze to America, graced us with the legendary cool of Lee, and taught us the art of fighting without fighting.
Dario Argentos Suspiria is a fairytale about a womens ballet academy run by witches where students die more often than dance. Like all great midnight movies, it ushers us into another world, one governed by dream logic. The hypnotic pull of danger drives its plot, as inexorable as a nightmare with images to match: a woman running through the woods, a blue-lit room inexplicably filled with coiled wire, yellow eyes watching in the dark, a McDonalds in Germany. Its a fairytale influenced by Bluebeard, Snow White and stories of witchcraft recounted by co-writer Daria Nicolodis grandmother.
The Warriors is Walter Hills modern Odyssey. The one and only Cyrus seeks to unite all the gangs in New York City, and delegates from these gangs come together to hear him speak. But hes shot and killed, and the Warriors are framed. Hill presents these criminal protagonists as classical heroes as they traverse the dreamscape of their city and battle their way home from the Bronx to Coney Island. Pauline Kael wrote that The Warriors communicated the anger of the dispossessed, but it also showed us their heart, their valor, and their cool leather vests.
A woman dressed as a nun kisses a bullet alone in front of her mirror, then aims a gun at an unseen enemy. This is Abel Ferraras Ms 45, also known as Angel of Vengeance. Zo Tamerlis Lund plays mute seamstress Thana, a woman raped twice in the same afternoon, who kills one of her attackers and keeps his gun. Ferrara and Lund bring humanity to Thana, choosing not to play her like a maniac but a woman dealing with PTSD. Ms 45 is like Death Wish from a womans perspective, the Platonic ideal of rape-revenge movies, and a powerful indictment of male violence.
Evil Dead II
In Sam Raimis revision of The Evil Dead, an ancient evil is unleashed in a cabin in the woods when passages are read from the Book of the Dead, and Bruce Campbells iconic hero Ash descends into madness and Kandarian demons. Evil Dead II had more humor and pathos than its predecessor: Ash kills his girlfriend when she becomes possessed and then he must fight his own hand and sever it with a chainsaw after it turns against him in a balletic, slapstick one-man show. Its The Three Stooges meets the Grand Guignol to create ingenious postmodern horror.
Updated on October 18, 2016
You asked for it and here it is: What’s a better way to follow-up the Things You Didn’t Know About Edward Scissorhands than with another Tim Burton film? The 1988 classic Beetlejuice contains more secrets than we thought to conjure up.
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Posted on October 10, 2016
Probably the first time I saw Clive Owen, it was in a film commissioned by BMW to advertise its cars. At the time, I didnt really care all that much about cars (I had one, and it was fine, and that was all I needed to know about that) but these short movies still had a considerable impact on me, mostly because they were so well-made.
The original series starred Owen as the The Driver, an otherwise unnamed protagonist with a flare for fine wheel work. They also starred BMW cars, which were very capable co-stars when paired with Owens keen ability to whip vehicles around in ways that frustrate opponents and get hard jobs done with a maximum of cool. The originals also featured a steady stream of star directors and on-screen talent, including then-power couple Madonna and Guy Ritchie.
Owens stoic Driver makes a return these many years later, having aged better than myself, and hes going on adventures with a new cast that includes standouts like Jon Bernthal (The Punisher from Netflixs Daredevil), Dakota Fanning and Vera Farmiga. The Escape isdirected by Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame, which means itll probably be better than most of the things youd pay $10 or more to go see in theaters today.
The Escapes inaugural episode (assuming there are more than one) will debut on October 23, which is just over a month away. If you didnt catch the original and are wondering what all the fuss is about, or you just want to relive the magic,check out this full playlistof The Hire on YouTube.
Updated on September 29, 2016
Before the first strains of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra echoed in movie theaters (and the public consciousness for decades to come), 2001: A Space Odyssey was a novel by Arthur C. Clarke. Stanley Kubrick made a lot of adjustments in his adaptation, and well give you the full tour.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a landmark in visual and cinematic storytelling, but it was a book first or not first, or simultaneously? We’re not sure. So, how did the story get from the stage to the screen? There were a lot of changes involved.
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Posted on September 23, 2016
For those of us who like to refurbish or repurpose old furniture, it can be like a treasure hunt when trying to find the perfect source material.
But once you do find it either on Craigslist, at a local flea market, or even sitting on the side of the road the DIY possibilities can be seemingly endless.
In the case of Instructables user AnitaH25, she found what she thought was the perfect old desk online for only $20. Thinking she would refurbish it for her home, she made the bargain purchase.
But once she saw it up close, she realized that “it had been given a very deep, shabby chic look. There was no way [she] could restore it without spending many hours sanding.” That’s when inspiration struck.
Scroll through below to see how this clever DIY-er turned her $20 find into the perfect sandpit play area for her niece.
Would you want a piece like this in your home or your backyard? Let us know in the comments!
Updated on September 16, 2016
Using ‘teleporting tunnels’ and creative editing, this POV Hot Wheels ride combines 8 different track sections into one epic joyride. In the video description, the team at 5MadMovieMakers add:
Each section worked on its own from tunnel to tunnel. The cart is powered entirely by gravity at all times. In total there are 11 cuts in the video, 7 between locations and 4 for slow motion footage.
The jump section and the loop section were filmed twice, once in 30 fps and again in 120 fps, and the final video cuts from the normal speed footage to the slow motion footage for the duration of both the jump and the loop.
Posted on September 5, 2016
Jennifer Pierre is flipping the notion that dolls are only for girls upside down with her new line, Melanites.
Pierre, who works closely with young boys of color, created Melanites to destroy stereotypes that constrict what masculinity can and cannot be while uplifting black and brown boyhood with her new line of dolls.
“When we stereotype toys into [the] girl category and boy category, it’s very problematic,” Pierre told The Huffington Post in the video above. “And that polarizing effect really doesn’t allow young children to use their imagination to create different spaces based on their personality instead of their gender.”
Melanites come in four different characters with a varying range of skin tones, facial features and hair types to represent different young boys of color. Pierre told HuffPost that she hopes the doll line will help young boys see the values of themselves and everyone around them.
“I’m creating dolls for boys because I want them to have a space that’s free of the pressures of hyper-masculinity and any other stereotype that tells them that they have to be this way or they have to express
themselves that way,” she said.
“You can’t be what you can’t see and our stories, our lives, our history everything that encompasses who we are it needs to be accurate,
it needs to be out there, that’s why I decided to do Melanites.”
This video was produced by Felicia Kelley.