Tuesday, April 30, 2002"Bringing Out The Dead"
A Labor Of Love
The gods and the remainder of my tax return has seen fit to grace me with the world's loveliest printer/scanner/copier/fax deal. Okay, maybe not "the loveliest", but a damn sight better than I thought I'd be able to get my scrimping and saving hands on. (I haven't bought a DVD in like, two whole weeks!)
I also got one of those gel-filled wrist rests for my keyboard, which kinda' feels like my wrists are resting on a big 'ol fat roll. And I'm okay with that.
So, rather than making scans of my middle finger and e-mailing it to all my loved ones, I've actually decided to do something constructive with my new toy. I'm working on restoring some old photos of my grandfather, a few of them dating all the way back to 1918. It's a very small collection we have, and a dear one, as my gramps has been gone for some time now. He was an amazing guy; an inventor, an adventurer, a prankster and a fascinating, respected intellectual. He hopped a tramp steamer to Caracas when he was nine and it was still pure jungle. (Just imagine a nine year old, with a machete, hacking a path through a fucking jungle!) He played cards with the infamous mobster Dutch Shultz (known to him and a select few as simply "Dutchie"), He chauffered Judy Garland to hotel after hotel when none in Boston would take her, as legend of her drunken rampages preceeded her. He spent World War Two wearing a bell helmet, in the depths of the ocean, welding the craters bombed into the sides of sunken war ships.
I have more fantastic legends and anecdotes about my gramps than I would ever know what to do with, the details of which are painfully sketchy in my memory. It kills me that he never wrote a memoir, and that he is not around for me to nag him into doing it.
I'm not sure if it's just because I'm missing him terribly right now, or if it's because I have been hunched, squinting at my monitor for hours and just now took a step back and really looked, but I felt compelled to share this with you. This is my first serious restoration. As you can see, there's a chunk of the bottom that was just a total loss. One can do a lot of things with Gimp and Photoshop, but this girl simply cannot wing wingtips, ifya' know what I mean. (I seriously doubt he was wearing wingtips, but it seemed like an amusing turn of phrase, one he would have appreciated.)
I wish he was here to see this, not because I want to be a show-off for him, but because he was dazzled by technology. Much like myself. He'd have been into all this digital frippery.
Take care, y'all, and be sure to listen to the people in your life; you never know when all you'll have left is their stories and a few faded images.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 12:54 AM#
Wednesday, April 24, 2002"About Thirty Two Days Ago..."
a tale I forgot to tell you.
It's cold. I'm late for work. My feet are going "crunch, crunch, crunch" in the leftover sand used to melt winter snow. Things are barely turning green, and there's just a hint of that green smell in the air, but mostly it just smells cold.
"Crunch, crunch, crunch" I go, and I start breathing through my mouth, a little louder than I need to, because I'm really lulled by the contrast of rythms. The Soul Coughing song "True Dreams of Wichita" is playing in my head with the perfection of a song heard a million times. The word "post-prandial" is, for some odd reason, laying on my tongue threatening to burst forth. It's a beautiful word and it immediately conjures the feeling inside me of stretching out on a velvet featherbed, naked, after a sumptuous meal. It makes me feel sensual. It makes me wish I could have stayed in bed, warm, for another five hours or so. Yesterday, the word du jour was "mullioned".
"Crunch, crunch, crunch" I go, missing the city, because I really want to get waylayed in a cozy bookstore right now. I want to be late for work but there's nowhere to be late for work in around here. I wish I could knock discreetly on the door of one of these gingerbread Campanelli ranch houses and have it open on a quiet, strange boy who would would smile at me, silently and sleepily, offer me coffee just how I like it, talk about movies and last night's dreams, and kiss me for hours. But there are no boys like that around here. No boys made just for me; to my exacting specifications.
"Crunch, crunch, crunch" I go, my step too determined to allow for shivering, wishing I had a local boy with cream & sugar lips, coffee and compelling ideas on tap, and soft sheets rumpled and sweet with that lovely, freshly-woken boy smell that I could crawl into right now and whisper; "let's take a nap..." as I nestle into a found spot still warm. I want to feel long, lean arms wind around me there, and a slightly cold nose tip pressing against the nape of my neck before the smooth stone of his forehead warms it again with a sigh down my spine. I want to share somebody's nonsensical dreamtrace in exchange for my own, and wake with that knowing feeling, even if we were both only imagining it. I want to roll over and grin, and see it mirrored back in languid eyes. I want him inside me, as smooth and easy as a kiss familliar, while we're both still half-asleep. Barely moving; sex at rest, as gentle as a pulse, because when it's that way I come like my whole body is dissolving into an illuminated mist.
"Crunch, crunch, crunch" I go, so busy wishing I had a warm place, a warm boy, to lay my weary self that I almost missed it; a pair of pheasant picking around someone's darkly paved driveway. I pause, turn my head slowly for fear that I will scare them off, but that's a fear unfounded. The male struts up to me as if we are old friends, and cranes his neck to stare hard at my favorite scarf, which is made with soft blue and green yarn by my aunt last Christmas. "Hullo!" I breathe, surprised, and he tilts his head to dazzle me with his tiny, sparkling, ruby-red eye. I smile as he tilts his head the other way and goes "blurk?" deep in his throat. I want to laugh in that stupid way you do when you see something so totally unexpected. I've never seen pheasant before, outside of crinoline and petticoat period films where they stroll around the emerald estate grounds of idle Marquises, dodging the wily rifles of valets. I'm painfully aware of how absurd it is to shoot something like this, and this makes me think, achingly, of my camera...at home.
"Hullo..." I say again, watching his odd little feet step so carefully toward me, as if it's me that might be scared away by any sudden movements. I didn't even know we had pheasant around here, but there are two; Mr. and Mrs. Pheasant, the latter of which is smaller and of more subdued color and wholly uninterested in me. She is picking through the scabby grass as it struggles to be born, and I worry that they will be separated if he decides to follow me, which he really looks like he is about to do. I cannot very well bring a pheasant to work; it's not "bring a pheasant to work day". I take a few tenative steps back to test him and he goes "blurk?" again, and lifts his funny little foot as if about to step toward me but doesn't. He's still staring at my scarf, the colors of a peacock, which a pheasant looks a little bit like, minus the fan tail, and I have the insane urge to take it off and wind it gently around his long neck for him to wear. The image is doubly amusing because he's still got his foot lifted, mid-step, and he keeps tilting his head at me curiously.
I step backwards again, fretting about my bus, driven by a lead-foot that very nearly eludes me on a daily basis, but I'm sorry to break the spell. "See ya around." I say, and as if he understands, he turns and heads back to the wife, still busily invading someone's lawn. All the way to the bus stop, I keep glancing over my shoulder, grateful that there isn't a lot of traffic down this street and that the birds are well out of harm's way. And grateful, too, to have met a pair of pheasant before I got completely lost walking down the streets of my own wistful longings.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 11:46 PM#
Thursday, April 11, 2002"Heartbreaker"
Technology is a motherfucker.
Whelp, I've had enough intimate moments with my new computer to be able to finally declare my unconditional love for it. It's an HP Pavillion 531w, preloaded with Windows XP. It has a 3.1 GHZ processor, 256 Megs of RAM, a 40 Gig hard drive and a built in c.d. burner. It appears, amazingly enough, unfuckupable. By that I mean that no matter what happens; no matter what ill-concieved software I install on a whim, no matter what conflicting drivers try to wreak havok, I could simply restore the system to the exact same state as when I bought it.
I've already had to do this once (Oh, Adaptec Easy C.D. Creator 4.2! Why hast thou forsaken me?!), and it works so well that my pessimistic ass kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did, of course, because this is a system that seems designed for your average "Joe User". I have mixed feelings about this.
Granted, there's something really nice about a fully pre-loaded system. One that does all the thinking for you. But then, I must be a bit of a control freak, because when I noticed that the only enclosed c.d. rom had, like, Microsoft Money or some such other useless shit, I got a little sweaty. Where is the included copy of Win XP? Where is the driver disk? Where is the freedom to monkey around someday when I get bored, format the sumbitch, totally fuck shit up, waste a good four hours trying to problem solve, and then feel like a kung-fu master when I get everything perfect? I can restore my system to a clean, pristine state, to its virginal condition on April 7th 2002 to be exact, with the push of a button, which eliminates the need to reformat entirely.
Well, where's the fun in that?
I consulted the user's manual about this matter, as most people should consult a user's manual, about 3 or 4 days after poking and prodding it invasively, and found that a backup of the entire system is stored, get this, "on a partitioned area of the hard drive inacessible to you." Hurmph! We'll just see about that. I think a .cab file search and a major c.d. burning is in order here.
In the meantime, my eerily perfect new system has decided to take a very prized leftover from my jauntily imperfect old system, chew it up, and then spew it in my face. See, I had this CDRW that had my entire (non-pornographic) internet history backed-up on it. There was a slew of really funny videos (Pinky the Cat mauling an Animal Rescue League handler, kids flying around on the schoolbus gone horribly out of control after the driver had a heart attack, some guys at a Japanese baseball game kicking each other down the bleachers, all my savage amusements.), every decent graphic I ever did in Gimp for about a year and a half, every website I ever designed (all evolutionary points represented), horror of horrors; every picture of a babe I ever downloaded (a huge archive of the choicest pix of Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Clive Owen, Tobey Maguire, Christian Bale...and on and on...oh, the humanity!), every written contribution I ever had published on another website, every encouraging letter from an editor I recieved in return, and, perhaps most painfully of all the entire BMW film series "The Hire".
Every one of those fucking movies was no less than, and often more than, 35 MEGS of cursing, kicking, all-night (off-peak hours) downloads on a dial-up connection, which was an almighty bitch, I don't mind telling you. I had every one of them, including the trailers (those at least 15 Megs each) and accompanying wallpapers neatly zipped together individually. Throughout the series' run, I remember waiting for around two weeks, with rabid impatience, for each installment to come out. In the meantime, I'd watch the last one over and over marvelling at how good they all were, particularly "Following", directed by Wong Kar Wai, and moon over how swave and hot Clive Owen was in all of them.
Well, looking forward to installing the series on a system and a display that could actually do them justice, along with enough RAM to bring it beyond the level of a choppy slide show, I dragged out the disk, slightly battered from overuse, and put it in the drive. I opened it to find it....empty. Not just the film series; everything. Endless assorted documents dating all the way back from 1997 to just last week, wiped out in an instant. My entire digital history vanished.
I took a deep breath, ejected the disk, restarted the computer, as if that would have anything to do with it, and checked it again, fingers crossed.
Yep, definitely nobody home.
I rifled my entire ROM library hoping desperately that I had just put the wrong disk in the wrong case, trying every CDRW I had ever owned, to no avail. I got this light-headed feeling first, and then a sinking, nauseous feeling in my gut as I realized the enormity of the situation, and how utterly alone in it I was. Really, who could I share this misery with? Who would understand my grief? Well, nobody, that's who. Who gives a fuck about my little binary/HTML/RTF/TXT odds and ends? Nobody but me. But the really amazing thing was, other that feeling utterly dazed and bemused, I really couldn't bring myself to care as much as I should.
If you had asked me last week if I could live without that one disk, I'd have said no. Emphatically. NO! Like the grainy little .MPG I had stored on it of a drunk guy answering a highway patrolman when he asked if he'd submit to a sobriety test. The shirtless, leglessly loaded hillbilly lifts an orange highway cone up, and, using it as a bullhorn, bellows a, long unequivical "NOOOoooooo!" into the statey's face through it. I pissed myself for ten minutes straight the first time I saw that, and, you know what? That clip still has the same effect on me. In fact, whenever anyone asks me to do something that I find unpleasant, that clip gets involuntarily called up in my mind and I have to use every ounce of willpower to keep from snickering in the asker's face. This is why when I'm standing, walking, or working by myself sometimes, someone will notice me smirking and say; "What?" and I'll answer; "Nothing, just thinking funny thoughts."
Lots of my funny thoughts were on that disk. And a good chunk of my sexy thoughts, too. Ewan McGregor lying fully dressed but wet in a bathtub, or freshly woken and photographed in grainy black & white looking disheveled in bed, smoking a cigarette. Joaquin Phoenix, snuggled in blankets, looking dreamy and soft. Jonathan Rhys Meyers shirtless in smeared eyeliner that looks like it's been worn all night, the eyes behind it suggesting a night doing god knows what, and really, isn't that sexier than having an illicit photograph of Jonathan Rhys Meyers actually doing god knows what? And let's not even get into the reams of fevered smut I had written on there, composed in varying states of delirium for various friends, lovers and mysterious, like-minded strangers. And some of my dreamy thoughts were on there too; ghostly shots of the calcified spires of Mono Lake, the better pix lovingly Photoshopped by my own hands, overlayed with strange colors until they resembled the Magic Rocks you buy in novelty shops and grow in a fishbowl. Gorgeously photographed glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, showcased floating in the canals of Venice at night, draped to hang over the waters from the bridges and lit from within. And, oh, shit, I'm just now remembering, a huge folder of high-res scans of the works of H.R. Giger that printed photo-perfect 8X10s suitable for framing. Places I wanted to go, artists I adored, strange moments that I somehow identified with.
The pneumonic effect that these words, sounds and images had on me, the pride I took in some of the work I had done, and the subsequent loss of them, is something that cannot be calculated. It was huge, let's just leave it at that.
So let's drink a toast to things lost; the stupid grief we feel when they're gone, and the elated sense of liberation that we don't want to admit exists that is pushing right behind it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get started on a new disk of random crap. Uh, make that two copies. Cheers!
posted by taiwan_on 'round 11:09 PM#
Sunday, April 07, 2002"Let me Axe You Something"
no wonder my head hurts...
Damn, I love Edward Gorey.
Got a new computer today, which was sorely needed. Didn't realize how slow my old one was. Well, I did, but now I really have something to compare it to.
I've been working on some new graphics and a completely new layout for the site. It'll be awhile until I get it all up there, but it'll be worth it, I promise.
At least now Photoshop won't be dragging it's ass. Uh.. as much.
Fuck, it's almost Monday and I've had no time to play with this thing at all. I think I feel a 24 hour flu coming on or something. Heh.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 11:50 PM#