Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Was Going to Write About...

I read an interesting review in Salon this morning, in which critic Andrew O'Hehir runs through the new Conan O'Brien documentary, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. The review basically confirms one of those things you vaguely worry about with someone like Conan O'Brien -- that deep down, beneath the nice guy persona, fame has done to him what fame does best: turn him into a jerk.

Then I was going to talk about my own experiences growing up ad wanting to be famous, change the world, surf around on crowds signing autographs, and so on. I was even going to talk about Lady Gaga.

But FUCK THAT, because Windows needed to reboot. And what Windows wants, Windows gets.

I come not to trash Windows, or Microsoft. I worked at Microsoft for years, and I have nothing but good things to say about my experience there.

I'm also not here to get into a Windows vs. Mac pissing match, because honestly, even through the application of theoretical physics, I could not care less. They're two giant corporations and neither one of them needs me to like them. We've got Macs and PCs in our house, and I basically use whichever one is closest to my swollen, lazy ass at the time. So until one of them incorporates a user-seeking hovercraft into the OS, it's not going to matter much to me.

No, what I'm going to say is, for several teeth-grinding moments, I thought to myself "Maybe I should start using a typewriter."

I used to use a typewriter. I mean back, wayyyyy back, when I was like five. Literally five. My dad had a behemoth IBM electric typewriter that he either borrowed or stole from work, and I would sit happily in front of it, typing little stories into the bottom half of a sheet of paper, then adding crayon drawings to the top half. Then I'd use a three-hole punch and some yarn to bind pages together (along with a construction-paper cover, natch) and voila! I was zining before zining was cool.

I don't remember much about the books I used to write when I was five. As far as I know, none of them exist anymore. I do remember that one of my stories was about a flea-breathing dragon. I also remember that before I brought one of these stories into show-and-tell, my older brother and his friend recommended that I add a twist to my character, in that he smoked grass.

Since I was five, I thought they meant grass, like the stuff in the lawn. I knew my dad smoked cigarettes, and the idea of smoking blades of grass was just the sort of silliness that cracked me up at that young and tender age. So sure, I added it. I mean hell, all I needed to do was untie some yarn and pop in a new page.

I read that story at school. I remember my teacher asking me where I got the idea about smoking grass, and I told her that my brother John had suggested it. She nodded, and I never heard anything else about it. But I have to imagine she tracked him down in his fifth-grade class at some point that day.

Anyway, this was pretty much just one big digression, huh? Brought to you by Windows 7!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Horrible Reading Habits, Revealed Via Kindle

I love my Kindle. I remember vividly swearing (that is to say, both my memory and the swearing were vivid)  that I would never get one because I would never be willing to trade in the tactile pleasure of an actual physical book. I would never compromise the pure, aesthetic reading experience.

Y'know. That bullshit.

Here's the thing. There's really no tactile pleasure involved in carrying around a dozen books, much less the thousands of books that a single Kindle can handle. I get to bring a library with me on the bus, people. A library.

So, anyway, since books on the Kindle still cost money, I've not only been catching up on my reading, but I've been catching up on my reading of the classics. There are tons of free, Kindle-ready books out there that you can download for no charge. Namely all the books you were supposed to read in high school. Or college. Or ever.

Which brings me to my point: every time you finish a book on the Kindle, it invites you to tweet the fact to the world, or to share it on The Facebook. This is probably something I will never do, because:

A: It will reveal all the books that I'm just now reading that I feel like I should have read before now. I mean, I'm nominally a writer here. I feed my wife and kid with words. Not in the literal alphabet soup sense, but you know what I mean.


B: It will show just how damn slowly I read the books that I should have read like a million years ago.

I mean, I thought I had read like a hundred books in the nine months since I got my Kindle. Then I counted.

Twelve. I've read twelve books.

I feel like an idiot, honestly.

I know this guy (and fellow writer) named Richard Dansky, and the guy reads books like I read soup labels. He writes book reviews, and sometimes he has to start over because he's just finished another book in mid-sentence.

There! You hear that? That was him finishing another book right now.

So, anyway, don't hold your breath for my tweet about Anna Karenina.

Though, spoiler, she dies at the end.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Social Network Class Note Meme

The Joker stops by to mess with Mark's head in the Social Network.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Sarah Palin History Hour

My Fellow Americans,

As most of you know, today sure is an extra special day in American history. It was on this day in nineteen forty-(inaudible) that the Allied troops launched the mama grizzly of all beach assaults on the Kaiser's armies, which was known as D-Day, with the D standing for "Doggone it You Nazis, Enough is Enough Already!"

On that day so many centuries ago, American troops lined up with troops from other countries such as Britain and the Iraq and gave those pasta-eating Germans a good old U.S. of Ass-kicking. Brave American heroes such as Sgt. Nick Fury, President Ronald Reagan, and Tom Hanks did their darndest under the leadership of General George Washington to cross the Delaware and make that perilous landing on the beaches of Norway.

And it's a good thing they did, for if they hadn't, the spread of communism would have spread unabasted, covering the world with an evil crimson glow, kinda like one of those Sherwin-Williams paint logos. But instead of a paint can, it would be the hammer and wheat-cutter thingy, and instead of paint it would be the red, red blood of freedom-loving people everywhere. And bald eagles.

But with a little pluck and American know-how, our boys in blue easily won the war that day, and forced Hitler to renounce his famous oath: Ich bin ein Berliner.

Ich bin indeed, Hitler. Ich bin indeed.

Today, we must remain as vigilant as ever, which is why Todd and I spend at least 13 hours a week patrolling the Aleutian Islands. Like any blue-collar American family, we rely on nothing but our rugged individualism, our trusty Winchester 30-30 rifles, and our Sikorsky 300C helicopter, which we call Stinger, which was a name we had in our back pocket just in case I got pregnant again.

We haven't tagged and bagged any commies yet, but rest assured that if we see any of those pinko freedom-haters crawling through the scrub toward American soil, our wolf-hunting skills will not go to waste.

In conclusion, I'd just like to ask God to bless all 47 of these United States, and to quote the famous Paul Revere in saying: I'll be back. 

(Also, please be sure to tune in for syndicated reruns of Sarah Palin's Alaska, broadcasting every Thursday at 3am on a local access cable channel near you.)