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Date archive for: January 2014

Foodies and Babies

Remember the Harryhausen’s scene from the Pixar flick Monsters, Inc.? A variety of furry, fanged, tentacled beasts are enjoying a civilized evening at a fancy restaurant, the kind where you have to pull strings to get a reservation. And the sudden appearance of a wide-eyed, pig-tailed human toddler — believed to be toxic — sends them all shrieking into the streets, summoning hazmat teams and inciting mass panic.

A five-eyed blob tells a news camera, “I tried to run from it, but it picked me up with its mind powers and shook me like a dog!”

An eerily similar scene recently played out in a super swank Chicago restaurant, sending foodies shrieking into the blogosphere for days on end.

It seems a party of four dared to bring an infant into Alinea, a sort of culinary art gallery, where the morsels of sculpted monkfish and squab resemble flowers more than food. Once named the best restaurant in the U.S., Alinea sells tickets in advance to its nightly tasting-menu-palooza at about $250 per person sans tax, tip, or wine — and believe me, when your dishes include fiddlehead fern, something called “mastic,” and, I kid you not, helium — you’re going to need a lot of wine.

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Sex Robots

There’s a scene in the new movie Her in which Samantha, the sultry-voiced computer operating system of the film’s title, talks up the benefits of being nonhuman.

“I’m not limited,” purrs Scarlett Johansson as the artificially intelligent heroine. “I can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously. I’m not tethered to time and space in the way that I would be if I was stuck inside a body that’s inevitably going to die.”

I’ll bet she never feels bloated, either. Or insists on switching over to Downton Abbey when the game’s gone into overtime. Or complains about the lingering lunchy onion stench on the breath of Theo, the lonely divorcé who buys Samantha and falls in love with her.

Both onscreen and off, modern society is flirting with the notion that technology can satisfy us in ways that flesh-and-blood lovers can’t.

Don’t believe me? Check out, set to launch this Valentine’s Day. For a monthly fee, the company will conjure up “believable virtual and real-world proof” that you have a girlfriend. Yup. You can order up voice mails, text messages, social-media interaction, cards, and even flowers from a nonexistent female in order to, say, convince a roommate you’re not gay, put an end to a coworker’s come-ons, or get your nagging parents off your back.

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