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Monday August 21, 2000, 16:01

After probably a dozen years with call-waiting service on their phone, it always seems to cause a great deal of commotion when both parents are on the telephone and they hear the tone signifying another call coming through on the line. First, the negotiation as to who is going to hang up and who is going to take the call. The the execution, and finally, when they return from the call, the shuffling to get the other parent back on an extension phone. It is easier at that point to tell them to call me back at their earliest convenience.

People are always talking about the media glut. Or perhaps I just always hear them talking about it. Regarless, it is popular to point out that we (in whatever group to which you can relate) are suffering from way too much crap coming in from all sorts of media sources.

Realizing that this might not be such a bad thing in my life right now, where the majority of my days had been spent doing things to drive forward the business in which I was supposed to be deeply entrenched (like research on hardware vendors and thinking very seriously about how we can cram advertising down the throats of young consumers while not really being seen as the bad guys) I decided last week that I would busy myself with consumption and make very little to actually produce anything. Well, let me rephrase. It just seemed like a good idea at the time, on some deep, gut level. I don't think I actually gave it much thought.

Thursday was a night of a free concert. MXPX with Mest opening. Well, Mest never showed up, but the concert itself was fun. Starting with a free Bigwords.com t-shirt, my media consumption was already beginning. The concert, nothing to report but a bunch of teenagers smoking pot and wanting to mosh, but failing miserably. While I will say that the etiquette exhibited in the pit is fairly remarkable, it went a bit far, with people greeting each other before proceeding to pound the snot out of one another and overall looking like a bunch of teenagers with a bit too much awkward aggression than any sort of catharsis. It didn't have anything to do with the music, for one. Which then brings it to a level of violence as opposed to driven energy. And while I go to concerts for the group energy, energy generally driven by what is happening on the stage, the audience itself was rather dead, having waited around for a while before the band actually showed up, and not even getting riled up when prompted by the lead "So, you guys feel like you're in prison out there?" in reference to the police baricades erected between the stage and the crowd. A couple of shouts from the audience, but those watching seemed much more interested in doing their own thing than being invovled in whatever it was that was going on around them.

I used to enjoy going to concerts and standing on the outskirts of the pit, not wanting actually to venture in, but rather standing, watching and occasionally shoving people back in, getting my thrills vicariously through those sweating and panting on the floor. This time, either I'm getting too old, or the pit was just getting to stupid, but I felt a sort of combined pity and disgust when the pit formed and people scrambled to get out of the way. Also, the sight of the fat girl wandering out of the crowd, heaving and huffing for air, sweat dripping from her forehead, was just a bit too much for me to stomach.

Friday night involved a bookstore, a lamp, and a movie. I was tempted, while wandering through the bookstore, to take down names of books and go home and order them online, realizing as I was sitting in the little plastic chair between Mysteries and Fiction what a stupid idea this was. Not only did I finish my first book a day later (though I probably would have gotten much more sleep otherwise), but there is something nice about supporting your local independent bookstore. I mean, come on, you can't smell Amazon.com, right?

The lamp. Yeah, so I went to my local hardware store, which caters to the local college crowd and thus has a wide assortment of lamps and shelves and various other sorts of non-hardware-type things, unlike the other hardware store that has a lot of guys in suspenders and row after row of screws and plumbing supplies. I mean, I like both types, but I was looking for a lamp, so there I was. Also, I was looking to look at the staff there as this store employs exclusively by the sorts of bleached, dyed, pierced kids that will most definitely pull me in as a repeat customer. Ok, so the lamp is not important, nor is the conversation I had with the girl behind the counter. In fact, none of that experience was important at all as the only thing that happened was that we talked a bit about broken water-sensor-worms and then I went home. And I read. A lot.

The quick version: "Vertigo" and "Rear Window" followed by dinner on Saturday. Also, Revolutionary War battle grounds and a turkey sandwich. Sunday, a failed attempt to see a baseball game, reading by the river, walking around a city, and "Falling Down," on video tape.

Ah, reading by the river. It occurs to me that while dogs can run up, greet, and then decide whether to bare their teeth other or chase each other around playfully, people don't have those luxuries. Societal rules (which played another role in a conversation that I had the other night that I won't get into because, frankly, I didn't understand post-modernism enough to even barely grasp the gist of it and have intention of proving that I know nothing here) dictate that you can't just walk up to someone and start talking without seems smarmy. Well, not always, but for the most part. And in watching the woman bum a cigarette off of her lawn neighbor on the side of the river I realized that I should probably take up smoking just to have that catalyst to start a conversation with a stranger. On the other hand, it was hard to tell whether or not the stranger actually wanted to converse or whether he was just being polite. And, if he was just being polite, realizing that for him to say "I'm sorry I don't want to talk to you right now" could be construed as rude, rather than just truthful, causing the initiator of the conversation to ask "what's wrong with me that this man wouldn't want to talk to me?" rather than just "oh, ok."

But then again, I did not attempt to speak to any strangers, nor did any strangers attempt to speak to me (which probably says much about the fact that I give off a "fuck off" sort of a vibe, so I've been told) so all of this is mere speculation.

Realizing, at this point, that the remainder of my weekend was pretty boring to anyone who wasn't me, and not even all that exciting to those of us who are me, I will spare us all the bother and start babbling about something else now.

Or the same thing.

Media. Consumption. It seems that the more time I spend cramming words and images into my head, the less creative I get. Is it just the fact that I get fed up with myself, assuming, after reading everything that's out there that while I could go and do that (write a book, etc) that it's all already been done before and that what's the point? Or is it more that by consuming all this crap, the parts of my brain that store all of my experiences get displaced by the parts of my brain that have to store everything that I'm reading. Ideas for a story? Get those out of the way 'cause we've got to cram in the last half-hour of Vertigo1.

And yet all that I want to do right now with myself is to learn more and to consume more. More news, more politics, more fiction. Though to be honest, the web has gotten to be a rather bore recently. Not that there isn't anything new, but that perhaps maybe I've gotten too old. I complain that people are getting to be too cynical, that people don't stop and see the wonder in the world. But that takes a lot of effort, and it also takes the ability to believe that there actually is a lot of wonder left in the world. And I'm afraid that I've lost that ability. At least when it comes to the web. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, come on.

Wasn't I trying to get away from computers in the first place?

Tonight: Rehearsal for a play. I'm designing lights again. Finally.

(and now I will listen to Dr. Laura. Just for fun. Five minutes later I realize what a poor idea this has been.)

1. The last half hour of "Vertigo" was actually rather painful for me as I had consumed (while we're on the topic of consumption) a rather enormous serving of lemonade (which I had told myself I would never do again after seeing "Ran" at the same theater and doing the same thing that time) and, starting about the time when Jimmy Stewart's character meets up with Kim Novak's character again, and she tries to make him fall in love with her instead of the her that was the version of her that was presented as Madeline Elster and continuing through to the very end of the movie when I dashed out the door to the bathroom, and had to relieve myself of that lemonade and didn't really have much room in my mind for the movie, my bladder and anything else that I was supposed to be thinking about critically so that I could have an interesting conversation about it at some later date (for example, it has been said that there are striking parallels between Vertigo and Basic Instinct - I think - but that's nothing about which I could have anything intelligent to say after this experience).

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