Sunday, January 24, 2016

What makes you laugh out loud?

Even before Saturday’s storm brought “much of the East Coast to a standstill,” as the headlines screamed, my getaway was planned.

It's an annual event scheduled for the short, dark, cold days of winter. The kind of days, and nights, where sheltering indoors seems preferable to venturing into the world. Too many days of this kind, with or without snow, and I begin to get cabin fever. I’m not the only one.

Years ago, after the world survived the previously unknowable outcome of Y2K, popular media began to focus on “Best of" lists of the previous millennium. Best movies, best songs, best films, well, you get the idea. A group of friends decided comedy was getting short shrift. Why not get together and devote a night to things that made us laugh. Timing was perfect, because it was winter, and dreary, and we all had cabin fever.

And so Cabin Fever Comedy was born. The participants are a small group of creative types, mostly in the video industry, who share clips, skits, and drinks (lots and lots of drinks). We tend to take over a quaint and proper B&B for the night, dragging in cables and equipment and media storage devices.

My biggest question each year, as I prepare, is this: What made me laugh in the past year? Deciding what was really funny is harder than you might expect. And with today’s political shenanigans, and volatile financial markets, I haven’t had a good laugh in a while.

I often find things amusing. Or clever. There are TV shows I enjoy, in which there are funny actors. And there are videos that make me smile. But what I’m really looking for are things that make me laugh. Out loud. And that have a good chance of making others laugh, too.

Occasionally, Cabin Fever Comedy presentations share visual tricks or innovations in the video trade. Or we watch really beautiful footage, while we “Ooh” and “Ahh.” But nothing says comedy like a loud, deep belly laugh. And those are hard to come by.

So I open the question to you, dear readers, hoping to crowdsource a little comedy. Things on kittens, practical jokes, and pratfalls won’t cut it. Nor will clips of late night talk shows or Saturday Night Live – been there, done that.

Got anything else that made you hold your sides, brought tears to your eyes, and had you begging for mercy so you could catch your breath?

I sincerely hope that you have…and will share. Cabin Fever Comedy is six weeks away, and counting.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Always on is not always best

I have become an eager consumer of quite a bit of technology, from mobile commerce and VOiP calling to streaming video, online chats, and Sirius radio. 

Technology keeps me connected to the larger world, allowing my small business to function seamlessly with global clients.

On a personal level, technology brings me more news and entertainment options than I could consume in ten lifetimes. Yet the best part of all these technologies is the most basic of features: the OFF button.

Less can definitely be more in this age of always-on communication and global news cycles. Enough can be plenty. And too much of a good thing can be a waste of time.

Case in point: I have on-demand video. I have Roku video streaming. I have Amazon Prime and Amazon Fire TV media player. I have Chromecast. I even have an old-fashioned antenna in my attic for over-the-air channels on secondary TVs. So, what did I ask for this holiday season? Netflix.

Don't get me wrong, I love the range of choice and new programming. But I would have to be laid up for years to see even a fraction of what's on my watch list.

Finding more time to watch TV was not among my New Year's resolutions. Instead, I was planning more days at the gym, adding an exercise class, taking advantage of this mild winter to hike the nearby fields and trails.

With technology, it seems that I can have it all, at least in terms of choice. But in reality, I should never expect to take advantage of it all.

Sometimes the best option is to turn off the TV, the laptop, the tablet, and the smartphone, and reconnect with the real world. Smell the coffee, or the roses, and take a moment to appreciate what's right here, right now.

No subscriptions, monthly fees, or updating required.