|Didnt do much this weekend.
Didnt finish raking the lawn. Did the back on Saturday under a sweet blue sky; it was 70, at least, and it didnt feel like a chore at all. Jasper watched, and when I was done with the backlawn we played ball. Havent done that in months, but he can still fly up and catch it in midair. I tried to bang one off the fence, and it flew over the fence into the alley: dogs expression is just priceless. Deadpan. Looks at the fence. At me. At the fence. At me. Short bark: FIX IT.
So I did. So we kept playing and I didnt do the front lawn. Grilled a marinated pork dingus for supper - its this boneless flaccid tube of pork in a plastic sleeve, soaked in brine and pepper and various other powders. Put it on the grill, turn it a few times: delicious. But I encountered a cooking dilemma I still cant get my mind around. The package said: grill 20 minutes per pound. The wad of pork weighed two pounds. So, grill forty minutes. Right? But upon opening the package, I discovered that it was actually two porkwads of equal size. Meaning, each was one pound. Meaning, grill for 20 minutes.
But if it had been one piece Id have grilled it for 40.
I still cant figure this one out.
But Im tired. I had a nap today and Im still beat. Its this sofa sleep; Ive been on the sofa for eight nights straight now, and its lousy sleep, full of interruptions and disappointment. At 4 AM I woke with the certain conviction I had misplaced the twins, and after searching the immediate area I went upstairs. Sara woke to find me standing there. Im looking for the twins, I started to say, but thought better of it.
Didnt sleep much, then.
Didnt read the books I have stacked and waiting: the new Caleb Carr novella, an old Durenmatt novel thats been made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson, a piece of sociology called Losing the Race, and a book about NASAs Mars program that apparently includes a chapter about sending human brains to Mars. Just - brains. No bodies. Just Triskelion lobes on stems, I guess.
Didnt read any of those.
Did not watch the movies Ive purchased, because I am waiting for the new TV. I have decided on the 16:9. My wife has laid down the law: no big TV for the basement until I finish the basement. And that of course it the eternal, unending job. Stuff breeds down there. Tonight I went downstairs to rearrange a few boxes - two hours later I had nine boxes stacked at the foot of the stairs, waiting for the trashman. Its just incredible. But the end is in sight - in a mere month the TV will be installed, in its place of SHAME.
Cant have a big TV upstairs, of course. Why, people might think you watched television.
Didnt finish the basement. Didnt finish editing the last batch of video. Didnt make any headway at all on the design of the 6.0 version. Didnt finish scanning all the money. Didnt finish Elite Force. Didnt prepare for the rain on Sunday night that came when I was grilling supper - should have brought an umbrella. But the raindrops were warm, and it had been so long since weve had rain.
Didnt mind it at all.
|Got a game to review today: a Pluskat Sim. Its called Beachhead 2000. Youre defending a beach. Troop ships land, disgorge troops. You mow em down. They scream and crumple. Feeling frisky? Launch a heat-seeking missile at that schoolteacher-in-uniform down there. He blows up real good!
Its not a bad game, but it makes me feel uncomfortable; I feel as though Im the buzzcut old Nazi in The Longest Day who fought off the Normandy invasion from his pillbox. (Pluskat as the character's name; the actor's real name was - poor fellow - Blech.) While I played the first few levels I had a startling thought:
Wheres the first-person WWII game? Wheres the Saving Private Ryan of the computer game genre? (WARNING: There is already a Private Ryan Saved. Do you want to overwrite this Saved Private Ryan? YES / NO)
Sorry. Mere geek game humor there. Worst kind.
But really, wheres the game? Dammit, Ill write it; someone hook me up with the developers. It starts in a small town when you get your induction notice; you get drafted, go to basic training, get shipped overseas, and your adventure begins with Normandy. First person. The computer is the first tool that can tell the story this way; why is everyone wasting their time on these silly overhead-perspective strategy games?
Another day of feeling as though Im just a 2-D envelope of bones and gristle. Woke up on the sofa, again; getting up felt like I was unfolding an old brittle map. Sofa sleep is bad sleep. Its as if the sofa was coated with REMGard, a special chemical that prevents deep slumber and happy dreams. Went to work to do this and that; did this, and that. Went home, fixed dinner, tried to nap: nix. Klaxons in my head went off after seven minutes, warning me of all the things I had to do, so: Up. Coffee. Work. And so its been all night, alternating levels of this game (I have to review it) (Really) with columnizing and baby-placation.
The Peaceable Planet Burbling Aquarium with LSD-Simulating Lite-Show doesnt seem to be doing the job, but why I am surprised? Nothing does the job. Gnats too smart to be fooled by any of this stuff. Were trying to acclimate her to the crib; right now she regards it as the Pen, the Big House. Its a trick. Oh, shell enjoy it for a while, as you stand there and smile and tickle and talk, but then she gets this look: wait a minute. Im in the fargin crib. Ohhhh no. Oh no you dont.
Thats the . . . trying portion of the daily parenting routine. The rewarding portion comes in smaller doses, but the pleasure & pride & joy is much more potent than the annoyances and aggravations. Tonight, during our evening Tummy Time (the quantity of saccharine utterances I now make without my inflection even hinting at a slight small jot of airquoting irony is just . . . amazing) she brought her head all the way up. Sorry, rephwase: Awwwwww the way up! And it was just delightful - strong neck, big head, big eyes, big smile. I enjoyed the moment then ran for the camcorder in case she replayed it; of cours she did not, but she did bang her head on the changing-table mattress in a fair approximation of the incarcerated Quake 2 Marines.
Sorry. Game geek humor. Worst kind.
Walked the dog in the dark warm autumn mist. Highlight of the day, that; standing at the top of the stairs, looking down into the gorge at the light by the footbridge - just a simple moment of ordinary beauty, unique to this day, this place, this combination of time and dog and temperature.
Now, back to work. But first, this message: Ive gotten a lot of mail about the cessation of weekly updates, wondering if it was permanent, or baby-related. Its neither. Im just not going to add new stuff until Ive rebuilt the site to my satisfaction. Theyll be back in January. Lots and lots of stuff. Thanks for asking.
|Took the video camera back to the store. When I put in a tape, it tried to find the last spot onto which it had spat ones and ohs, and more often then not it couldnt - whereupon it would beep frantically and flash EJECT TAPE EJECT TAPE. Id have to reseat the tape. Half the time this worked, like giving a pacifier to a startled baby - but more and more it was acting up. Perhaps its just the tapes, I thought, so I gave it a new one. Beep! Beep! Eject! Eject! Stall! Pull up! I opened the tape slot, and found a slew of brown linguine. It had yanked the tape out of the transport path.
I no longer trusted the camera. Truth be told, it had done this from day one, and Id chalked it up to bad tapes. No more. Back to BesBi, the monstro-mart where I bought it. I had my receipt and my 4-year service contract.
The clerk looked at the receipt, the contract, the camcorder. He typed a few things into the computer.
I dont know if I can Deev this, he said. Ill have to ask Chris.
I said, and he repeated the same meaningless statement. Then he added: Chris is the manager.
Whats a Deev?
I dont know if I can do the Deev. Thats why I have to ask Chris, he said, adding, Im new here.
One more time. And a Deev is . . .?
Thats what its called when you can trade it right away for a new one.
Is this a word Im supposed to know? I said, with a cunning blend of herbs, spices, smiles and flaming irritation.
Never, ever ask a BezBi clerk a rhetorical question. They either go Nomad on you, and you have to beam them into deep space where they can explode safely, or they just - plain - hate - you. This fellow took the second path. I said, with a big grin:
Well, whatever Chris says, Im leaving here with a new camera. Im going to go over to cameras and get a replacement while you talk with Chris.
In cameras stood one employee, talking to Gramps.
Gramps had come to buy a digital camera.
Actually, hed just come to look at them.
Actually, hed just heard about these newfangled things.
Gramps was killing time.
Gramps had all day.
Gramps had questions. Where do the pitchers go, then, if theres no film?
Well, they can be stored on a floppy, a microdrive, a smartcard, a memory stick. Or some units have an onboard CD burner.
I see, said Gramps. And what do all those mean, exactly?
Sigh. The clerk gave me a sign to tell me hed be there in a moment. I was, after all the epitome of the Customer Who Knows What He Wants - I wasnt looking at anything, I wasnt moving, I was just standing off to the side like a big throbbing red dwarf with spiky lines coming out of his head. I considered going full Gore on Gramps - sighing, stalking, rolling my eyes.
How manyem pitchers they take, anyhow?
The phone rang. Scuse me, said the clerk, and he answered the phone. Answered a few questions. Seemed to take his time. I kicked myself for not having my cell phone. Id have called him right there and asked him to come over and help me since phone calls obviously take priority.
But I waited, and when my turn came I was quick: ZR-10. Exchange. I held up the 4-year Service Contract, making sure to smile. He nodded and sped off to get one. I watched Gramps - he festused his way to a woman sitting in a chair, waiting for him. Her expression said shed been waiting for him while he jawboned clerks since 1957.
The clerk brought back a camera. I took it back to the Deev window to see if wed be Deeving anytime soon. The Deeving clerk said, with no small amount of triumph, that theyd used the camcorder and it worked just fine, hence no Deev.
You didnt even ask me what was wrong with it, I said.
He gave me a look of pure hatred. I had him there. He knew it.
Whats wrong with it, he said.
Are you going to make the decision, or Chris?
Chris, he said.
I smiled! Broadly! Then Ill talk to Chris.
Chris came out from behind the Deev Room door. Hed read the memo: hate this customer. He asked what was wrong with the camera; I told him. Halfway through my explanation he nodded and swapped out the cameras.
Normally I wouldnt do this, he said, because its more than 90 days.
But youre doing it, I smiled, and I thank you.
He handed me off to a clerk who did the paperwork. Fill in this and sign here, she said. I did so. She ran the ticket through a printer, and to my astonishment I saw that it printed several paragraphs above my signature. I saw the words I have read and agreed to all the return and refund policies printed on the back of this receipt.
Thats a nifty trick, I said. Asking me to sign a blank sheet, then printing testimony over my signature.
She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. None.
And thats why I am buying my new big TV from Audio King. Not BezBi. Deev this, you sullen jackals.
|This new website just writes itself. I havent had this much fun since the Gallery 2.0, and I have the feeling that this one is not only destined to be a book some day, but its going to rival the Gallery in size, if not popularity. Its the first area of the site devoted to the 70s, and as such contains more stomach-riling crap than the meatiest recesses of the Gallery of Regrettable Food.
Bought the new TV today. This is the third TV Ive purchased. The first was a 18, 20 inch color set - dont remember exactly. It had a knob you turned to change the channels. This was before cable - or rather, before I got cable. I bought the TV when I got my job at TV Guide; it seems apt. I felt like I was coming up in the world. Later I bought a VCR, and invited friends over to watch - a movie! At home! We controlled the start times - and you could pause it whenever you wanted!
As entertaining and novel as these concepts were, they didnt come as a surprise to me or my peers, since we had grown up expecting these things to come our way eventually. Gnat will grow up expecting holodecks, Im sure, and shell probably get one. We grew up in a world where TV was always showing a level of technology slightly ahead of what we had at the moment. There was, in 1972, a show called Search. I loved this show. I can still hum the themesong, for example, and the shows been off the air for a quarter century. It concerned three secret agents who worked for a super-secret security company. You lost stuff, they found it. The agents wore tiny cameras (in the 70s, men wore necklaces, so you could just hook the camera to your swingin gold chain) and had 2-way communication devices embedded in their skulls. They talked to a room set up just like the bridge of the Enterprise; it was full of techs presided over by, of all people, Burgess Meredith, who sat in his captains chair like a gnomish Kirk. It was a great show for a lad of 13. I bought the novelization, of course; its still on the shelf in my room back home in Fargo. I reread it one night, and was surprised to find that Burgess character was named:
Victor Charles Richard Cameron.
They used the term VCR in 1972? Sure. Why not? Things are never as new as they seem. My gee-whiz tiny tiny DV camcorder uses the same tape-over-heads concept as the big clunky decks of a quarter century ago. This computer is a refinement, not a breakthrough. The game Ill play later tonight owes its parentage to a program written in 1958. The TV I bought to celebrate my TV Guide job was a refinement of the device they showed at the Worlds Fair.
Its depressing sometimes to realize how little has been invented. I want more Future Shock! More dislocating technology! So far, Ive gotten exactly what I expected: the tiny cameras from Search, the communicators from Star Trek (when will one of these cell phone companies realize how many people will pay $$ to have their phones make the chirp of a 23rd century Federation communicator?) and so forth. Okay, we have MP3s. Whoop. Big fat whoop.
This world isnt annoyingly modern enough for my tastes, sometimes.
But then there are the days when you get that New TV, and you cant wait to experience TV in a whole new way: Bigger! The 18 TV stayed with me until 1993. In 1990 I spraypainted it with faux-stone paint, and it looked damn cool; people always paused, ran their hands over its rough surfaces, oohed. But it was small. When we were evicted from Fortress Lileks (the building went condo) and moved to the stinky flat by the National Zoo, where you had to run the air conditioning blower full blast to drown out the sound of the loud copulating birds, I bought a 27 TV. It was - huge! Immense! None bigger! Now Star Trek looked -
Well, cheap. But Peter Jennings was fargin HUGE!
This TV has served us well. And it will continue to do so as our upstairs TV. But now comes the new new TV. Its big and its broad and it will show movies the way theyre meant to be seen. And as I sat there in the store, waiting for the paperwork, I looked at it, and I thought : now, finally, something new. A new way of watching movies. A new direction in home entertainment. And I thought of the last time I had this feeling, the certain knowledge that I stood on the brink of a bright new technological future.
We called it Quadrophonic Sound.
|Theres no time lately to do anything, because were always busy.
Doing what, exactly, well, that depends. Saturday we packed up the Gnat in the old car seat and drove in search of a sofa bed. Its for the occasional guest, and for me. For me? Yes, for me. Lately Ive been drinking so much I cant get up the stairs. And if I go get halfway up, well, I fall back down. Horrible noise. Wakes the baby. Do I want her first memory of Dad to consist of a sodden heap at the bottom of the stairs? No.
Thats a lie, of course, but I do need a downstairs bed. Until we get Gnat to inhabit her crib for more than 17 minutes at a stretch, Im on the sofa at night. Havent spent a night in the bed in a fortnight, and even that long-gone date was just one night after ten on the sofa. So a sofa bed would be nice. But you just cant go GET a sofa bed. They must be ordered, and as usual it takes a dozen months of Sundays for the factories, every one of which is located in South Carolina, to produce the items. If a foreign power really wanted to cripple America, theyd nuke South Carolina. Wipe out our furniture industry. Wed be dependent entirely on Swedish particle-board crap. Or Mexican resin chairs.
Theres your band name for the week: the Mexican Resin Chairs.
First we went to Elements, a store that sells to the Hip Young Urbanite market for whom style is more important than quality. You buy the furniture to impress someone so you can get laid - all well and good as long as you break up before the furniture falls apart. We bought a sofa there once, and I swear there wasnt a nail in the entire thing - it was held together by glue and staples. This time we got a clerk who seemed to recoil at the sight of our baby: oooh, yuck, youre going to ruin the demographic profile. He seemed utterly ready to announce they didnt have childrens room furniture, and was disappointed when we asked for a sofa bed. Well, some of the sofas came in sofa bed styles, but they were all special orders. And he made absolutely no move to show us anything. We took the hint and left.
Next, Room and Board / Retrospect. Its one big store, divided into two concepts, neither of which seems different from the other. Its full of nice stuff, reasonably priced, and overloaded with pretension. Its the sort of place where a sofa style is called The Truman and you dont know if thats the president or the designers childhood pooch. Not that it matters. Its just a great name! So - American!
They had a sofa bed, but it looked as if theyd skinned the dog from Blues Clues to make it. Thank you for your time, goodbye.
Daytons Home Store: bingo. A nice tidy sofa bed that fits the space just fine. (Its a spot in the sunporch where Jasper sleeps - in fact, hell be the one sleeping in the bed most of the time. I realized we should have brought him along.) Did they have one in stock? They did - but the warehouse couldnt get it to us for three weeks.
Why? Have they soldered the doors shut? Shot the drivers and buried them out back? Put sugar in the gastanks of the trucks?
No - they were just three weeks out on delivery.
Ours is not to wonder why; ours is but to buy, now, and let the company chew on the money for three weeks without giving us anything.