Tick Tock, Zap Zap

It might be a little expensive, but the new Apple Watch sure is pretty. And judging from the hype, it is the Invention of the Century. The Watch is the next logical product after the success of the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. My guess is the only reason that Apple didn't call it an "iWatch" is that they didn't want it to sound like an app for voyeurs. All of these devices have some important things in common: they look really cool, they're fun, and they're not something that anyone actually needs. The Apple Watch looks great and that's a good enough reason to buy one. But don't try convincing me that it will save you time and help you get fit.

The only way a watch is going to get you in better shape is by looking at it three times a day instead of eating. These watches won't be timesavers. People are going to spend their time staring at their watches instead of their phones. Of course, these are just my opinions. New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo seemed very excited about the Apple Watch in his review. He loves the fact that he no longer has to waste all that time, fumbling for his phone and taking it out of his pocket before checking for a "digital event." How much time does that take? Three seconds? (Of course, the New York Times is also the paper that recently devoted half a page to reporting the happy news that America is finally starting to embrace the electronic bidet).

The Watch notifies you of things by giving you little electronic taps on your wrist. Incoming phone calls and alarms "feel throbbing and insistent," and a text feels like a "gentle massage from a friendly bumblebee." Very poetic, but do you really want a massage from a bee? And when I'm out in public, I don't think I want any part of my body to "feel throbbing and insistent."

Let's face it. Most of what we do on our cell phones is not exactly essential to our lives. (Almost every day, I check the weather in Paris. I have no idea why, but it's fun). It's hard enough to resist a vibration from our phones now when we get a text, email, or notification. Are we really going to be able to ignore electronic zaps on our wrists? We're already at the point that many people sneak peeks at their phones when they're at an important business meeting. Couples even keep their phones at the ready when they're having a romantic dinner. And when that romantic couple rushes home, they won't need any mood lighting. Their cell phones emit just the right light.

There is a downside to taking your phone with you no matter where you go and what you do. Apparently, the more we turn on our phones, the less we turn on our partners. The birth rate in the United States has dropped about 7% since the advent of the cell phone in 1973. And it's happening all over the world. Japan – the home of electronic devices – is one of the nations that now have a negative birthrate. Coincidence? Who are we kidding? The cell phone may be the most effective form of birth control since the invention of the chili dog.

I'm no expert in statistics, but to me, these numbers suggest that many couples practice "phone-is interruptus." No matter how much fun the couple is having, they put on the brakes if their phone rings, buzzes, or plays their favorite song. And this behavior is only going to increase with inventions like the Apple Watch. Soon when you sneak a peek at your watch when he or she isn't looking, you won't be just checking the time. You'll be checking your texts. I'm not judging. I completely understand. After all, it's important to get that message from your friend who is sending you yet another photo of his dog.


Not content to merely allow the audience to enjoy this romp in their neighborhood theaters, those who are behind this film are being nice enough to offer all kinds of "50 Shades" merchandise, giving people the opportunity to relive the movie's sweetest moments in the privacy of their own locked rooms with creepy lighting. That those responsible for the film are anxious to try to make as much money as possible is certainly not shocking or deplorable. What took me by surprise are the range of the products and the places where they are hawking these things.

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We all remember how important Valentine's Day was to us when we were little kids. Don't worry. The "50 Shaders" have not forgotten the kiddies. There are even onesies that say, "Nine Months Ago Mommy Read 50 Shades of Grey." These darling items don't just announce to the world the mother's literary preferences, but they also hint at the circumstances under which that cute little baby was conceived.

No longer will you have to feel embarrassed sneaking into your sleazy neighborhood sex store in between the dry cleaners and the nail salon to buy some titillating toy. You don't even have to leave your house to get "50 Shades" items. You can order them from Amazon. The handcuff bracelets are a natural, and so are keychains with that special key, neckties that can be tied as tightly as you'd like, and charm bracelets with "charms" such as a blindfold and a riding crop. There is even a "50 Shades of Grey" board game, obviously ideal for rainy day family play when grandma and grandpa come to visit. At Amazon, with just a single click, you can buy the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and your own personal good vibrations.

There are also unofficial tie-ins with "50 Shades." Surf laundry detergent actually has come up with a Limited Edition "Flirty Shades of Surf." Their customers are encouraged to try Surf's "naughtiest fragrance yet." It's amazing that in the right hands and minds, even soap can be dirty.

For people who like to take care of all their errands in one place, you can get your "50 Shades" needs met at your local Target while you do your regular shopping. In at least one Target store, some of "50 Shades'" most intimate toys were right next to the children's toothbrushes. Leave it to Target to make the shopping experience as convenient as possible for the busy mom or dad.

Target does seem to be the perfect place to do your "50 Shades" Valentine's Day shopping, with just a slight change from previous years. The store's logo is, of course, that red circular target. Traditionally, on Valentine's Day, Cupid shoots his arrow into the target which is the human heart. For this Valentine's Day, that love target is just somewhat lower than the heart.

We are accustomed to many children's movies making some extra box to commercial tie-ins or merchandising. So it's not surprising that just as the current "Sponge Bob" movie was released, Little SpongeBob fans began begging for all kinds of SpongeBob toys. Some of these are just silly, but I admit that others are clearly destined to become cultural icons such as a classic Pants-Droppin' SpongeBob. When it comes to regular mainstream grown-up movies, it's not all that common for them to have merchandising tie-ins. I don't think were going to see a "Boyhood" doll that will amaze everyone when it ages over the next 12 years. Yet, there is no reason for us grown-ups to despair, thanks to "50 Shades of Grey" and the release of its tie-ins (puns intended).

Since "50 Shades" involves a relationship of punishment, dominance, and pain, it is obviously fitting that the movie will be released on Valentine's Day. Forget about that bouquet of flowers this year. Now it's time to "Say It With Leather."