Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Put The Gun Down

No, I haven't forgotten you. I've just been really busy. Frantic really. Okay no, not really. Just lazy. Too lazy to form complete sentences, even. But I saw this thing today. A quote. From Umberto Eco, who's my favorite author of all time ever, and if he's not yours, well then talk to the hand. What's that? Nabokov? Okay, I forgive you. Anyway:

"A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection - not an invitation for hypnosis." - Umberto Eco.
I am totally gay for Umberto Eco. Even if he is an icky, seventy-five-year-old degenerate Italian. His "Foucault's Pendulum" has been described, to my intense rage and rising bile, as a "thinking man's DaVinci Code". To mention Dan Brown's execrable bolus of literary offal in the same sentence as Eco's transcendental prose is a disservice to the master semiotician's oeuvre. Whoever said this should have their tongue ripped from their head by wild dogs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Does This Diaper Make My Butt Look Big?

I blogged a while back about some Greenpeace scheme to stop Japanese whaling by naming a humpback. They were asking the "community" to vote on the name of their new cetacean friend. Well, the results are in and, yes friends, MISTER SPLASHY PANTS has won the day! In celebration, I invite you to hug your nearest tree.

Why is Mr. Splashy Pants wearing a diaper? Are those his PANTS? His ... splashy pants?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Multi-Touch Madness

My brother recently bought one of them newfangled iPhones. For a while he couldn't stop yammering on about its revolutionary features, like lack of SMS and no camera. One of the selling points of the iPhone is the multi-touch feature which, capacitive touch-sensing geek-rhetoric aside, basically allows you to control the device by touching the screen. The oh-so-special part is that you can touch more than one spot at a time, pinching, spreading, rotating, etc -- sounds like college -- and the device interprets these gestures in an intuitive and seamless -- and purely platonic -- way. My complaint -- that this feature might go unappreciated by someone whose fingertips have been turned to little wooden blocks -- fell on deaf ears.

And since this revolutionary innovation in user experience was first extruded from the spit-shined anus of Cupertino's darling of the corporate suck-fest (stock symbol: AAPL), every cell-phone, MP3-player, and in-dash DVD-player manufacturer in the world has copied "creatively adapted" the thing whole-cloth. To be fair, most of them are going "touch-sensitive", rather than "multi-touch", and hoping this distinction will be lost on the techno-addicted consumers of chromed turds that comprise the majority of their markets.

The latest in line to fellate the status quo is Siemens. Strangely, they've forgone the creation of yet another touch-sensitive phone-thing in favor of a touch sensitive stove top. A touch. Sensitive. Fucking. Stove top.

It reminded me of last summer. I was suffering through a week or so of horrible hay-fever type allergies, and thought some Sudafed might help me through the pain (or at least dull my senses enough to not care). Reading through the directions, I was surprised to find, among the list of possible side effects, nasal congestion. Nasal congestion.

It's like the entire commercial world has been tied up, sat down, and smacked brutally about the head and shoulders with a baseball bat made of frozen stupid.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Guitar Player XOR Safe-Cracker

Sorry, no Christmas post. I had something lined up about how the war against Christmas parallels the War On Drugs, the War On Terrorism, and is really an expression of North American societal self-loathing, but I just couldn't pull it together. God I'm pathetic.

At some point, amidst the unwrapping, the face-stuffing, the food coma and credit card bills, my guitar arrived. Santa shipped it direct from China. My impish face glowed, my eyes lit in child-like wonder as I unwrapped it. Squeals of glee no doubt erupted.

I played it for about a week, but eventually I had to bring it into the shop for the "setup". This is something all electric guitars go through, usually before you buy it from your friendly neighborhood purveyor of musical oddities.

The setup is an array of delicate adjustments and fine-tuning that I couldn't be comfortable delegating to my own mechanical acumen (or dearth thereof), and so I had to give my baby up. I cried, but took solace in the fact that I'd see her again. I'm still waiting.

After a week of playing, I had basically lost all sensation in the fingertips of my left hand. The cold, tingly, frostbitten feeling was annoying at first, eventually soothing.

Someone said these are supposed to be calluses, a necessary step on the path to guitar mastery, but they don't really feel like calluses, like the kind you might get after a couple weeks of lifting weights, or shoveling dirt or something. If you've ever futzed around building model airplanes or the like, and accidentally gotten crazy glue on your fingers, it approaches the feeling I'm attempting to describe, a thin skin of unfeeling, coating your fingertips. The urge to gnaw on my own fingers until the feeling returns is unbearable.

Thus, along with the other trivial male pursuits of looking-without-seeing, listening-without-hearing, eating-without-tasting, and sex-without-loving, I now master touching-without-feeling. I think there's something ironic in there somewhere, that learning to express yourself through music, arguably the most direct conduit to human emotion, should require this deadening of the senses. And so now, these delicate instruments, my human hands, purpose-built for the business of feeling, with more nerve endings than the rest of my body combined, are denied their purpose, and die a little, that my music (such as it is) might live.

Is this a loss? Or a win?

I've heard it said, and maybe this is an urban myth, like becoming a ninja by dint of decades of studying with Tibetan monks, etc. But I've heard it said that safe-crackers actually use sandpaper on their fingertips, to remove the first couple of layers of skin in order that they can feel the tumblers of the lock clicking into place. I suppose the gist is of a heightened sensitivity to the mechanical puzzle before them. If this were true, then I have removed this occupation from the realm of possibility. In the quantum "many worlds" theory, I have amputated and cauterized the set of universes that are home to Cool Ranch Luke, master safe-cracker, in favor of that other set of universes containing Cool Ranch Luke, guitar player wannabe.

P.S.: If anyone out there knows how to get that little pencil icon to show up beneath my posts (the "edit post" link), let me know. In recent weeks, it has magically disappeared, and I miss it.