Like 12.7 million other people this month, I downloaded FaceApp because it looked like a fun little phone app to play around with. For those who don’t know, FaceApp is a program for mobile phones that lets you take a picture and, using artificial intelligence, alters it by adding a smile, facial hair or glasses, among other things. You can also age a person to look older or younger than they actually are, with convincing results.
I got this idea from fellow Beckett writer Ryan Cracknell, who did the same thing with some baseball cards recently. (And Ryan — if my phone got hacked by Russian trollbots, I’m blaming you. 🙂 ) But even if my phone did get hacked — more on that in a bit — it was almost totally worth it, because I took some awful hockey cards and made them better. And by better, I mean more awful.
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #226: Mel Bridgeman
This may very well be the worst hockey card of all time, and allegedly, Mel Bridgeman will not autograph it. But maybe he would if his toothless scowl became a toothy smile. FaceApp to the rescue!
I will admit, I laughed for like three minutes when I made this card, probably because his teeth are the same odd gray color as his helmet. But it really does look like Bridgeman is happy to be playing for the New Jersey Devils circa 1982. That’s some powerful artificial intelligence programming magic right there.
1992-93 Pinnacle #233: Doug Gilmour (Sidelines)
Doug Gilmour is all dressed up in a vest, ascot and cowboy hat. But as the old song goes, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
Because it’s what you wear from ear to ear, and not from head to toe, or something. Anyway, let’s make Douggie 40 years older and see if he’s still happy.
I don’t know what’s creepier: the fact that FaceApp can convincingly make someone look a lot older than they actually are, or Doug Gilmour dressed up as a 70-year old cowboy. I’m leaning towards the latter.
There is also a “Glasses” filter, and an “Old Cool” filter if you want the person to be hip and elderly. I think this card would be what Jeff Bridges would look like if he were playing a 70-year old Doug Gilmour dressed as a cowboy. And if anyone could pull it off, it’s “The Dude.”
Speaking of old and cool, you know who’s going to be cool when he’s old?
2018-19 Upper Deck #192: Dustin Byfuglien
Aside from a little drunken boating, Big Buff can do no wrong in my book. I bet when he plays in Winnipeg Jets Alumni games in 30 years, he’ll look like the second card. He’s now the same age at the serviceman in the audience behind him, but age hasn’t diminished Buff’s big smile.
1997-98 Upper Deck #34: Jarome Iginla
I rated this card as one of the “Seven Scariest Hockey Cards” back in 2014. You know what would make this card scarier? You guessed it.
1978-79 St. Louis Blues Postcards: Barry Gibbs
I also ranked this as one of the creepiest hockey cards, mainly because of the way Barry Gibbs is staring directly into your soul. But I’m sure in the 1970s, women found him attractive. Mustaches were in, and between the curly hair and the neck beard, Gibbs had that whole Magnum P.I. thing going before Magnum P.I. was even a thing. But he’s missing that Tom Selleck smile, so let’s add one.
Yikes! Gibbs looks even more like a mass murderer. Let’s see if we can make him look even more intimidating with a beard and some aging.
Gibbs now looks like some sort of old, badass character from a Robert Rodriguez film, like if the character Machette was a hockey player instead of an ex-cop. FaceApp gets extra points for making some of the neck hairs gray.
Adding glasses seemed to make Gibbs a little less intimidating for some reason.
1998-99 UD Choice Bobbhing Heads #BH21: Patrick Roy
FaceApp will find the face — even if it isn’t attached to the body.
“Hi, my name is Professor Patrick, and I will be your Humanities 201 teacher for the quarter. This is my first year teaching at Colorado Community College, and I’m excited to have you all in my class.”
Thirty years later…
“Hi, my name is Professor Patrick, and I’m the Chair of the Humanities Department. I just returned from my sabbatical, and I’ll be teaching your class this semester. Oh, and I’m phoning it in because I’m tenured.” (NOTE: No tenured professor who phones it in actually ever admits it.)
2003-04 Upper Deck Magic Moments #MM-8: Wayne Gretzky
Speaking of professors, I once said that this card made Wayne Gretzky look like a professor at Hogwarts. But with FaceApp, I can make the Great One look even more like a wizard.
Seriously, Gretzky could be McGonagall’s brother or something.
I also played around with some not-so-awful hockey cards.
1988-89 ProCards AHL/IHL Ed Belfour
Ed Belfour before and after entering the Witness Protection Program.
1988-89 O-Pee-Chee #66: Brett Hull
I wanted to see if using the “Old Filter” made Brett Hull look like his father Bobby Hull.
It kind of did. Or, perhaps more accurately, like if Bobby Hull and Ric Flair had their DNA spliced in a test tube.
2003-04 Topps C-55 #66: Mario Lemieux
What if Mario Lemieux was actually Santa Claus in a Penguins uniform.
I’m starting to think that the “Old Cool” filter is really a “Make Him Look Like Jeff Bridges Filter.”
The free version also had very aggressive pop-up ads that would appear even when the app was closed, even when I was making a phone call, so I deleted FaceApp from my phone.
But the ads continued, and even got worse. They masqueraded as “Facebook” ads — but Facebook does not randomly serve ads while you are trying to text someone or browsing Twitter. And call me crazy, but I swear my phone’s battery life was draining much faster than before.
While there are numerous apps that can help you remove spyware from your phone, I didn’t have the time to research and test all of them, so I ended up doing a factory reset on my smart phone. As of now, things seem fine to have returned to normal with my phone.
So, if you do download and use FaceApp, please be aware that there are some security and privacy concerns with it. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.