Monday, July 26, 2010

Something Goofy

I was walking down the street when a gerbil leaned out of his car and waved me over. Naturally, I wanted to know what he had to say. My mistake! It was a she, and she wanted to know if I had any plans that night. I did, I was meeting my pet Jujube for dinner and a massage, and I told Ms. Gerbil so. Well she didn't take this very well at all and drove off in a huff. This was strange for two reasons: one, we had just met so why would she be so mad at me and two, she have driven off in a huff when she drove up in a car. Very odd.
Anyway, I kept right on hopping, bopping, popping, stopping, shopping, and mopping along down the road. Not too far after that I was accosted again, this time by an albino monk seal wearing the most fantastic hat I have ever seen. I would try to describe it to you, but I would not be able to do it justice. Also, don't try to imagine it because there is no way your imagination could match the awesome that was Mr. Toadstool's headwear. Mr. Toadstool, that was the albino monk seal's name, asked me if I had the time. I wondered the time for what and asked. He shook his head, his whole neck really (which you would know if you've ever had the pleasure of watching a monk seal indicate the negative), and restated his question by asking me if I knew what time it was. I did. He was sad I did for if I hadn't he would have been able to show off the brand-spanking new (how is something brand-spanked exactly) he had strapped to his flipper. I apologized, of course and told him that if he would like he could restate his query once more and I would answer in a fashion more appropriate for his needs. He sighed that it was too late and the moment had passed and then flip-flopped his way down a nearby alley. This was sad really as I have never seen a watch strapped to a flipper and now I suppose I never will.
Just then the demon in my pocket began to clamor for my attention. I had been ignoring it all day on account of this quite annoying bill collector who had been trying to contact me. I swear, miss two or three payments on your hydropyrodynamic insulating blue lettuce aggregateor and they just won't leave you alone. Rather than answer I pulled the demon from my pocket and flicked him squarely and firmly on his not unsubstantial nose. This, as you could expect, angered my little red friend and he began waving his hands all over preparing some demoniacally evil spell which he cast in my general direction. Having a demonic spell cast at you is somewhat disconcerting, you would think. And you would be right most of the time. But not this time. This time you would be dead wrong. Because my demon, along with being such a small fellow, is also not very good at his devil-making ways. That's why he was demoted (or demon-moted as he likes to quip) to pocket demon. So his spell bounced harmlessly off a button on my shirt, turning it into a small flower. He managed to look pleased with himself. After all, how easy would it be for me to button and unbutton (flower and unflower) my shirt now. He had caused a Grand Inconvenience.
I choose to ignore the flowering of my shirt button and returned him to my pocket where he could rant and rage to his black heart's content. It was then that I noticed an unattended two-wheeled conveyance on the side of the road. Looking left and right, north and south, up and down, left and right again (you can never be too careful), I stole away on it. It had been quite a day and nothing lighted a day up like a little mischief. I couldn't think of any mischief which is why I instead settled on theft.
As always happens, as soon as I'd committed theft-in-place-of-mischief mischief sprang to mind. There, right in front of me, was old Mr. SillyFingersMcGeestien. He was always so mean to me and Jujube (my pet, if you remember)! Once he even chased us down and hung us by our littlest toes while he played “It's a Small World After All” on the saw over and over and over and over and over and over again. I can't even remember now what we had done to deserve such harsh treatment. Oh wait, maybe it was because we painted the windows of his house black and then set his cabbage on fire. Or maybe it was because we danced on his rooftop in high-heeled Beatle boots all night long the day after his prized petunias had mysteriously dissapeared. (That wasn't us, we don't do dissapearing petunias. I have it on good authority that it was Grande the Greek Geek that did the dissapearing. We paid him to.)
Anyway, mean old Mr. SillyFingersMcGeestien was in my sights. I prepared myself for serious mischief levels and, as I passed him, shouted out that his parents never loved him and he was adopted and his sister would never return his phone calls. All of these things were true, which I knew from opening his mail, and I felt quite smug about my total burn.
Unfortunately, my total burning of Mr. SillyFingersMcGeestien distracted me from my piloting of my bi-wheeled method of transportation. It wasn't until I turned back to facing the front, which happened to be the direction I was headed since these things are no good for going frontwards sideways, that I saw I was headed directly towards a Cream Cheese Hole! Now, since you are a learned person, as I expect you are, I don't need to describe the appearance of a Cream Cheese Hole nor do I have to describe what fate awaited me upon impact. This is quite nice as describing these things would put back into the mindset I was in at that time and that is nearly almost quite as bad as being there the first time, which I also was and wouldn't want to be again.
Needless to say, I didn't make my date with Jujube that night and spent several days wandering the far reaches of the cosmos in search of a wet nap and fourteen oddly-shaped rocks. Sometimes it's just not worth leaving the Batcave.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why I Collect (or How I Judge the People I Meet)

A few days ago I happened upon the new Rush documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage. I found out about it earlier this summer and my inner (and outer) music nerd lept for joy. It's not a filmed concert, it's an actual documentary about the history of Canada's greatest export! I need this dvd, right? I need it. Must have. After all, it's not like if I waited a month it would be out on Netflix and I could queue it up and watch it. Oh, wait...But Netflix makes me send it back. If I own it I could watch it whenever I want. That's what's important. It can be on my time. After all, a person could watch a documentary dozens of times, right? Actually, I could. Especially one about Rush. So I bought it. I took it home, unwrapped it, read the liner notes, and carefully put it on the shelf with my other music-related dvds. That's where it goes. Near every spoken word dvd Henry Rollins has ever released, next to Slayer's concert film, just to the side of my Dream Theater live double disc dvd, and, well you get the idea. It certainly wouldn't go up by the science fiction section, or the Ah-nold section, or the Kevin Smith section. It goes with music. Duh. All the music-related dvds I've bought and watched, er, dozens of times over the years.

* sigh *

Why do I own these things? Why can't I leave a book store without at least one paperback under my arm? How come music stores seem to have a hypnotic power over me, making me sure to accidently find the album that I kinda was thinking about maybe checking out someday and look it's even a decent price ok I'll buy it? Do I need these things? I know I don't need-need them, not in the food, water, shelter kind of way. But in the happy to own them way I do. Books are the killer. Libraries abound. They are free. I could go in, find a book or three, take them home, read them, and then return them. I used to do just that all the time. Before I had a job. But I don't want to take them back. I want to have them.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I've always wanted to have a room in my house that was a massive library. One room, wall-to-wall book shelves stuffed with books. Tall, like you need a ladder to get to the top few shelves tall. With a few big comfortable chairs to curl up in. Perfect. And I need a lot of books to fill this imaginary room that only exists in my head because I'm a teacher and will never make enough money to actually have a house like that. And it would be cool to have a similar music/movie room as well.

This summer I moved a bunch of stuff from California, where my parents had been storing it for three years, to Hawaii. I should be more specific. I moved my collections of music, movies, and the rest of my books to Hawaii. Why? 1) Because I want them near me in case I want to read/listen to/watch them, even though I don't know if I will. I am one of those people that goes, “Oh, I read this book seven hundred years ago and I own it and I think that I'd like to read it again right now.” So...there you go. Pairing the stacks down was hard. And 2) So that when I move away I can put all these things back into a different box and pay for them to go back to the mainland. And so that we can go buy more bookshelves on which to display them.

I think that last sentence really gets to the crux of this whole issue. I try to shed as much of my inner bullshit as possible, which takes a lot of asking myself the all important Why and trying to give a real answer. And that's the answer I came up with. I like having them on display. My ego gets a huge kick out of showing off these things. It says, “Look! Look at my superior taste. Gaze upon these books which I have read which you have not read. Gasp in wonder at the rare and highly important bands which I listen to. Look at my films and understand what a deep person I am.” And I know that my ego is full of shit. But I can't help it.

But I understand now why I do it.

It's how I judge you.

When I go to a new person's house I do three things. First I will scan for your bookshelf. I will then make my way towards it and evaluate you based on its contents. Do we have things in common? Do you have Azimov, Heinlein, Moore? Can I see any Clarke or Gladwell? Perhaps some King or even Rowling? Any Rollins or Shakespeare? This part is normally easy. Most people have bookshelves out where they can be seen and easily gotten to. Hopefully they have more than one. With the advent of the e-reader judging people like this might eventually get more tricky, but I'm not worried. People won't get rid of most of their books. You can learn a lot about a person from their personal library. At least, I hope you can.

Next, I'll try to find your music collection. This is becoming harder and harder. If you still cling to CDs, as I do, I will thumb through them, looking for Aerosmith, Metallica, Kings X. God help you if I can't find any Beatles. How extreme, how varied, is your taste? But now many people have gone digital. Getting someone to let me look at their iTunes account is trickier and sneeking a look at it seems more openly invasive, like a scene from a Ben Stiller movie where things just get worse and worse and worse and worse until you leave the theater because god that kind of comedy really isn't funny sometimes.

Lastly (normally), I find your movies. You must own at least one Star Trek movie, don't you? Do we have similar tastes in film? Any Kevin Smith? What actors do you seem to favor? Any director that keeps popping up? What's your sense of humor, Bill Murry or Judd Apatow? Do you have any documentaries or concerts on display? Are you an indy nerd?

And recent;y I've gotten in to video games so if I see you have a system, I'll judge you on the games you play too.

Let me be clear: I am under no illusions that this works, that I can really learn anything important about anyone by looking at their various media. But it gives a pretty good surface look, doesn't it? Lets me know if our tastes are similar. When there's a lull in conversation can I fill it with a Spinal Tap quote?

And that's why I like having my stuff out, why I like buying stuff. I assume, in my ego and self-centeredness, that everyone else does the same petty shit I do.

My toys are my way of saying, This is my basic me, this is the Me I want to expose to the world first. So I go out and spend money, knowing full well that it's silly. But hey, it could be worse. I could judge you, and want you to judge me, on the looks, sexual orientation, occupation, or religion.

See, now judgment based on books, movies, and music doesn't seem so bad.