Archive for: March, 2007

Review, The Nintendo Wii

When Christmas rolled around, I was going to buy this for myself. I bought a smart phone instead. Now the Wii remains at the periphery of my perception. I have yet to see one in person, except once in the distance in a bar, surrounded by happy drunken twenty somethings. I heard secondhand that the sensor had broken and the bar owner rigged up two candles for the Wii to use to triangulate itself. What a strange contraption. Can you imagine fixing a Playstation 3 with candles? Even pioneers had that shit. If you went back in time and your Wii’s sensor broke, a guy who was driving a horse and buggy past your time machine would have the parts you needed to repair it.
You would still be sad, though, because only Ben Franklin would have the electricity to run it, and he kept it closely guarded in an ornate box with a quill pen and his lucky wig.
I hear about the Wii often. My roommate’s girlfriend got one. Old people are apparently playing them in the nursing homes. Always just in my proximity. Always just at the edge of consciousness, like a persistent memory of a girl whose hand you held in the back of a car and then never saw again.
Even though it is a nationally advertised product with several games made for it already, for me The Wii occupies a borderland, an ethereal in between place, a shadow that tugs at the mind.
Also, I hear that it plays GameCube games.

S. Murakami Turns Around

S. Murakami turned around to look
At the red haired orphan sleeping,
In the back seat of
A 1979 Lincoln town car

His head looked like a bundle of fire
The leather seats tan and clean
Sunbeams migrated on his skin
Saltwater was the silent ghost

A feathered band
Wrapped around his head
Collected his sweat and alien dreams
With cloth and plume and quill

“He has to come from somewhere.
I found him on the beach
But he says he comes from nowhere.”
She furrowed her brow.

The old man driving chewed on a cigar.
He steered with one hand
The dashboard and his sunglasses
Agreed to be the color brown.

“Agatha Christie disappeared for ten days once.
When they found her, she was living
Under the name of the woman
Her husband was having an affair with.”

The ocean passed them by
Like a Polaroid of the ocean
Someone kept dropping
Past the windows

“You look like Agatha Christie.”
S. Murakami said
She opened a bag of candy
And poured it into her hand.

“You look like a carrot.” the old man said,
Around his cigar.
There was no one
On the road ahead or behind them.

“Anyone who could see
Or care about
Your spiky hair
Is long gone off this island.”

“Or too old
To appreciate style.”
S. Murakami put a piece of candy
On her tongue and stuck it out at him.

“You forget I was around
When punk rock started,
Before you were born.”
It was true, he had been around.

“But it didn’t get good
Until after I was born.”
S. Murakami turned again
To face the road.

Part of the “Orphan Ascends In Green” series, a collection of poems about three travelers on an island overrun by zombies.

Review, Game & Place: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Land of The Dead

I played Oblivion for a week. I stole a horse and a guard killed me. Everybody seemed to get mad at me when I talked to them. A guy with a cat face stole my money.
I kind of don’t like this game. I tried to return it to Wal-Mart. Guess what? It’s easier to return a living-breathing baby.
I am going to give this game another shot, because now it is tethered to me forever like a stubborn balloon until I feel like I get my money’s worth out of it.
The night after I tried to return it, I dreamt I was sitting at a card table in the middle of a busy city street. A woman stopped and said, “Jason, is that you?” It was my grandmother, but younger. She seemed surprised to see me.
My theory? I hadn’t slept the night before, so that night I slept so deeply that I ended up in the Land of The Dead by accident. (My girlfriend’s theory? No, I probably didn’t.)
My grandmother asked me for my website address, and I wrote it on a scrap of newspaper for her after three failed attempts.
I guess they have newspapers and the Internet in The Land of The Dead. I bet the headline everyday reads “EVERYONE HERE IS STILL DEAD”.
When I woke up, I felt like I had traveled back from a faraway place.
Ironic, I think, that a sixteen square mile fantasy world full of mythical fighting skeletons and intricately detailed enchanted forests can never compete with a city street, a card table and a chance meeting with a now distant relative.

UPDATE: My girlfriend replies, “It’s hard for me to agree that you probably ended up in the land of the dead when the same night you sleepily asked me, ‘WHY are the Irish always putting SHAMROCKS on their cars???’ “

Review, Charles Mingus: The Complete 1959 Columbia Sessions

In a sleepy bout of music downloading last night around three in the morning, I put this album on my music playing phone, the very existence of which leads me to believe that I may one day have an advice giving toaster. I don’t know anything about Charles Mingus. I don’t know when he lived or died, or anything about his life. My deep and seemingly endless ignorance of Charles Mingus facts would make at least one person who cares very very deeply about him angry with me, I bet. How can I listen to Charles Mingus and not have taken the time to see what his face looks like?
Which leads me to wonder what something means when you see it and don’t know what you are looking at. What does it mean to listen when you don’t know what you are hearing?
I will wait and ask the toaster in ten years.
Dear Charles Mingus- I’m sorry I didn’t take the time. I like all these songs. If it makes you feel any better, I never know what I’m looking at, I never know what I am hearing.

Review, Rhapsody Music Service:

I’ve been signed up with Rhapsody for a while now. It works with my smart-phone, so like a cat that can cook breakfast, it has my begrudging respect. I like not owning the music, believe it or not. This is not to be confused with not wanting to own any music, ever. When you own music, it is like having an egg that you can crack at any moment and release a bird that must return to the shell when it finished singing. With this, the bird can fly away after a month and I don’t have to worry about where to put all the eggs.
Of course, music doesn’t care where you put it, unless of course it’s wrapped in my hated enemy, DRM, which Rhapsody songs are swaddled in. But they have only programmed it to die, to stop working, to leave the nest or however you’d like to think of it. Much like real life birds, they were made to make music and then fall from the sky.
That having been said, I don’t know if its Vista, or my USB port or the wires or the fat silver moon in the sky, but transferring a song from the Rhapsody client to my phone is slow as shit.
I usually have to pick a set of songs then leave my phone hooked up to my computer while I go sleep or sit on the porch or get ideas about the neighbors or eat ice cream and drink root beer at the same time to make miniature floats in my mouth or just live halfway in and halfway out of the city, wondering what people are thinking on the street.
When I come back, I’ve got a little tree with hundreds of birds on twice as many branches, all waiting to sing from my pocket.
Also, don’t call their tech support unless you like talking to an exasperated guy in another country who hates you and the software so much he wants to punch your grandfather’s coffin.

Review, Album: The Notorious B.I.G. “Greatest Hits”

There’s a new Biggie Smalls album out. I know this, because the record store downtown has a giant poster in its window of his head. It’s not really new, it’s a greatest hits compilation, but it’s a good chance for Mr. Wallace’s image to gaze out at us from the other side of the six-foot marker in the graveyard.
It got me to thinking about totems and graven images, and it got me to thinking of patterns. You see, you and I are patterns, software implemented into skin, acting on other patterns.
You see a dead man looking back at you from behind glass, and he seems to say, “I’m still a pattern, somewhere. I did a disappearing act, but see, here I am, looking at you. I am in many windows of many cities.” And you think about what it means to be gone, and you have to wonder if skin is all that can carry what makes you essentially you, or if there are vessels unknown to the senses to deliver us back into the world, into the store windows, into the radios, into dreams.
Those having been said, if you want to start listening to The Notorious B.I.G., listen to Ready To Die, especially “Everyday Struggle”.

Review of Tivo To Go Video Service

Tivo: Hey, man. Got this new video service. Take shows off your Tivo and put them on your computer…. or your smart phone.
Me: Really? That’s all there is to it?
Tivo: Yep. Try it now.
Me: Ok, I’ll just wait here for two hours while one show transfers through the network from the Tivo box to the computer.
Tivo: You got it.
Me (two hours later): This is just five seconds of the show and a blank screen for forty-five minutes.
Tivo: Yep. And you can play that on your computer or portable media device. You’re welcome.
Me: Et tu, Tivo?

Review: Logitech® FreePulse Wireless™ Headphones

I ordered a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones to sync with my smart phone and listen to music at work with. The earpieces were gigantic and the only way they stayed on your head was through the application of massive pressure through the headband, so it was a lot like having someone press two pies against your ears as hard as they could, except afterward there was no pie to eat. You couldn’t wear them on the street, unless you wanted to yell, “I AM WEARING HEADPHONES!” at everyone because that’s how it felt.
Also, because of the electrical tape I had to wrap around a crack in the band and the fact that they were wireless, it looked like you were some crazy guy who dug some massive headphones out of a trashcan and were just wearing them around without actually plugging them into anything.
“MUSIC FROM THE FUTURE!” I would yell, beating a trashcan with a stick I found, magic trashcan headphones affixed firmly to my head, quickly scurrying up a nearby tree at the approach of the police.
So I wrapped them in shipping tape and sent them back to Logitech, who promptly shipped a replacement pair back to me within a week.
This new pair of headphones was smaller, sleeker, and sexier. The bands that hold them to your ears look like a dolphin sowed them. The volume controls are so secret that I only found them by accidentally pressing on them, like a marble bust of a dead musician on the fireplace at Batman’s house.
The guy on the support line for Logitech said the headband was made of blue carbon steel. You know what? I believe him. If you ever shoot me in the back of the head, the headband won’t only deflect the bullet; it will convert the sparks into free mp3s from Russia.
Surprisingly, the thing I like best about these headphones is the sound they make as their battery dies.
When these headphones are close to running out of power, they emit a pulsing note that sounds like a manatee winning a medal, or the final tone of a robot that died saving your life.
Mostly it reminds me of a kick ass spaceship sinking to the bottom of the ocean, its gauges and dials warning the crew that they will soon perish, and if they have any art they want to look at or people they want to make out with they should do it now, for its bridges, decks & hulls were made for space, and who could have expected this?

Review Of Windows Vista & Heaven

Windows Vista is the new operating system from Windows. A of lot of people don’t care about it. In fact, I’d be pretty willing to bet that deep down inside, beneath the curtain of awareness and the veil of dreams, where the poets and executives and janitors of the soul all bustle and clamor for the attention of the waking mind, nobody anywhere really gives a damn about Windows Vista.
But Vista’s photo manager stole a trick or two from the flickr photo sharing service and implemented tags for photos. This means that for the first time I can sort my collection of over 7,000+ photos (all available for viewing here, unless you are reading this in the year 3000, when this is just an electronic cough unheard in a crowded room, blink for a second and its gone, now get back to searching for a way to escape Dinosaur Village).
So this frees up my time to think about Heaven. I don’t know if I believe in Heaven or not, I think that I do. I like the idea of heaven; it seems like a reasonable place where one might be able to store an episode of Veronica Mars on one’s smart phone. But what I want to know is, does anything you do in heaven really matter? Actions we take here inside the mortal coil have meaning and significance because of our temporary states. There is evil and death here, men of iniquity, liars, thieves and sociopaths. Their actions give contrast to our choices and frame our decisions.
In heaven, where everything is perfect forever and outside of time, does anything matter? If there is no peril, then nothing is at stake. If nothing is at stake, then what’s the point?
That having been said, I’d rather be hanging out in Heaven with all my photos sorted than with a bunch of thieving sociopaths here on earth.

Review, Logo/Illustration: Amazing Cat Pirate & Entropy

amazingcat.jpg

This amazing cat pirate is the logo for a scratching post I saw in a pet store. Entropy is a term to describe, in layman’s terms, the inevitable all-inclusive breakdown of all systems around us. Which means this amazing cat pirate’s hook will eventually tarnish and fade, and with enough time eventually break down or be melted down and become a golden ring or a tooth in another amazing cat pirate’s mouth.
This also means that this cat’s ship (“The Keeling Litter Box”, for those who are interested) will rot and warp, eventually sinking to the ocean floor or winding up in a ship graveyard.
Even his plundered treasure (golden bags of treats and scratching posts; also some of those plastic wheels with the little ball on a rolling track that he can bat around) will disintegrate eventually, perhaps even in the very chest he has his little kitty boot on.
And what of our fantastic kitty buccaneer? Will some scurvy dogs (sorry, the joke was inevitable) run him through with their swords? Will he abandon the sea life for catnip and rum?
Whatever his fate, though his decline is unavoidable, he will live forever in our dreams, just at the edges of our perception, batting the balls of our imaginations through the plastic cylinder of our dreams.

Review: Phil Collins Love Life

This review of Phil Collins’s love life is based on two reference sources: Phil Collins’s wikipedia entry, which like the tumultuous surface of our planet is subject to change or deletion, and the song “Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore” on his album No Jacket Required.
His wikepida entry states that he has been divorced three times. The significance of this is that even after he wrote that song, his British ass still ended up getting a divorce.
Isn’t that sad? That’s like writing a song called “Let’s Stop Stealing Each Other’s Time Machines” and then getting your Time Machine stolen at least twice after that, leaving you stranded in Dinosaur Village.

Review: CinemaNow Movie Download Service

Once again, another video I paid money for is locked down by a corporation. Even though my video playing phone could easily play the episode of My Name Is Earl I downloaded, thanks to CinemaNow’s ingenious locking mechanism that prevents me from viewing, syncing or even placing the file on my smart-phone, I can’t do any of that. This is like having a horse that can talk, but he isn’t permitted to speak because the words aren’t compatible with his mouth.
Go to hell, CinemaNow.