While I love gadgetry, I’m also very skeptical of it. When a new fad appears, I generally view the early adopters as tragically pretentious, and have no interest in participating in their little festival of douchery.
So, I’m almost always slightly behind the curve. As the rest of the world was falling in love with digital photography, I was still threading Fuji film into the camera my parents gave me as a high school graduation present. And while every hipster worth his designer sea salt was sporting the white iPod earbuds, I was lugging around my Sony Discman, and a seven-pound tote of CDs.
I’m not exactly proud of my lack of vision, but it does save me money. By the time I get around to appreciating the value of something, the prices have usually dropped. A few of my co-workers in California paid more than $1000 for their first DVD players. A thousand bucks! I probably paid $239 for mine, because I was a year late in contracting the fever.
And our Big Ass Television would’ve cost us thousands of dollars more, if I’d been an early adopter. Longtime readers of the site remember my years-long hemming and hawing session surrounding the purchase of that sombitch. But, in retrospect, my indecisiveness saved us tons of money
The one exception, that I can recall, is the CD burner I had installed in a previous computer, a year after I bought it. When I ordered that machine I was going down the list of upgrades, and decided I didn’t need a burner (who makes CDs?). I probably could’ve added it on the front end for $25, and ended up paying a couple hundred.
So, it usually works out in my favor, but not always.
Current things I view as kinda stoopid, but will probably end up loving in the long run: Blackberries, car navigation systems (I’m already starting to soften on that one), electronic books (like Kindle), and anything to do with Bluetooth technology (I mean, seriously).
Where do you fall on the technology adoption spectrum? Do you jump right in with both feet, or do you need to be convinced like me? I doubt there are too many full-blown Luddites reading the Surf Report, since, you know, it’s on the internet. But who knows?
Also, what gadgets did you originally mock, and end up loving? Use the comments link, if you’ve got anything for us.
Yesterday I stopped at a convenience store on my way to work, with the intention of buying a bottle of water, or some iced tea. And as I was perusing the gargantuan selection there (sweet Maria), something caught my eye.
Sunkist orange soda! I probably hadn’t had one of those babies in 25 years, and wasn’t even aware it was still in production. Just a couple weeks ago I was telling the Secrets about my experience with that stuff, and they didn’t know what I was talking about.
When I had my paper route, you see, there was a small corner grocery store (Cliff’s Market), where I’d stop for a drink on most days.
And while I enjoyed the Sunkist orange, I couldn’t buy it – because it always made me crap. It’s true. Within minutes of downing one of those foot-tall glass bottles, I’d find myself doing a wide-eyed Frankenstein march down the alley toward our house, praying my sphincter would hold against the mounting pressure.So yesterday I decided to buy one… I wanted to see if it still had the same effect on me. Extremely dangerous, since I was going to work, but this was science, dammit.
I twisted off the cap as I drove, and took a tentative sip: yum. It tasted exactly as it had during the Reagan administration. By the time I arrived at my job, the bottle was empty and I wondered if my decades-long streak of never crapping at work might come to an explosive, scattershot end.
Yeah, but nothing happened. I felt completely normal. Wonder if all the beer I’ve downed during the intervening years has shored-up my stomach, and made it less thenthative? I’m not sure, but the streak stands.
What foods cause you to do the stiff-legged scramble? Besides the normal stuff, like Starbucks, etc. Anything unusual make you sprint down the hall? Tell us about it.
And I’ll see ya tomorrow.
I read somewhere there’s a British version of Law & Order in the works. Law & Order: UK is what it will be called, and I wouldn’t mind checking it out, once it starts airing; I’d like to see who they choose to play EuroScrote.
As interesting as the new show sounds, though, how much more can they realistically wring from that franchise? Isn’t it fairly well spent at this point? Sadly, I suspect we might already be past the sell-by date.
But I’d like to do my part to keep it going, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. So, I’m going to recommend a few new variations (in TV Guide format), and turn it over to you. Maybe we can come up with an idea, or two, which will keep Law & Order chugging along for another decade or more?
I’ll get the ball rolling…
Law & Order: Scranton After a cuppa two tree prostitutes are found murdered in the city, Detective Scrotekowski zeroes in on a suspicious porketta vendor from Throop, in an episode titled “Murder, Or No?”
Law & Order: Hooterville Floyd Smoot comes under suspicion when a Haitian immigrant is found savagely beaten near the railroad tracks outside Crabwell Corners. An uncooperative Alf Monroe holds the key to the mystery.
Law & Order: Battle Creek Apple Jack crosses the line while trying to obtain a confession from a drifter suspected of killing a local celebrity named Crackle. Extreme pressure to solve the crime, brought by the victim’s two politically-connected brothers, threatens Jack’s sanity and career.
Law & Order: The Villages After a man is discovered murdered near a golf cart overpass, detectives learn the victim had many enemies – due to continuous bragging about his expensive titanium replacement hip.
Law & Order: TVH Regional detectives for the True Value Hardware Corporation travel to Ass Cyst, Arkansas, to investigate the suspicious disappearance of a beloved night manager, known as Bimbo.
Law & Order: Pleasantville Detective Scrotenreiter is introduced to his new partner, and is surprised to learn he’s in color. The contentious pair struggle with their personal differences, while trying to capture the notorious Mutilator of Whores.
So there you go… I wanted to do one called Law & Order: Bumfuck, but couldn’t really come up with a concept. You guys can take it from here, and maybe together we can save a great old TV show?
Use the comments link below.
And since we’re talking about classic television today, check this out. It’s the cast of the Gunsmoke radio show, which preceded the long-running TV program.
It starred Floyd the Barber as Doc, Cannon as Marshall Dillon, Mayberry’s Mayor Stoner as Chester, and a hooker with a heart of gold.
When the TV show was proposed, William Conrad reportedly auditioned for the part of Matt Dillon. And can you imagine Frank Cannon on horseback? Heh. They probably would’ve had to use Clydesdales, or concrete “horses” on rollers.
I read somewhere that Conrad never really got over the fact another actor became associated with the part of Marshall Dillon. He felt that he’d created the character, and the whole thing supposedly bothered him for the rest of his life.
And speaking of great TV, I’m in the process of watching the John Adams mini-series. Good stuff. I had a little trouble buying Paul Giamatti as a founding father, but he somehow pulls it off. I recommend it.
One scene I could’ve done without, however: Adams having awkward and grunting sex with his wife, while looking like Uncle Fester, full-on. I don’t think my face fully de-grimaced until morning.
Other than that… excellent, so far.
Now let’s hear your L&O ideas! It’s up to us to save the program, and the clock is ticking.
See ya tomorrow.
I found myself being drawn to the computer section at Sam’s (especially Sam’s for some reason), and standing in front of the machines giggling with wild excitement. All that RAM, all that hard drive space, the incredible processors… It’s a wonder I didn’t just whip it out.
My desktop now seems ancient to me. Internet Explorer gobbles-up my resources like a fat boy at a pie festival (I’ve switched to Firefox and that helped a little), and when Carbonite is doing its back-ups, I may as well just go fix myself a sandwich. ‘Cause nothing is going to be happening on that clickin’ and clackin’ computer for a while.
To be fair, however, it’s not nearly as bad as my old laptop. That thing was useless. My current home computer isn’t useless, just nowhere as slick and kick-ass as my new laptop. And when it comes to computers, I prefer slick and kick-ass.
So, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a new one. But it’s only the beginning stages of the illness, and it usually drags out for months, if not years. Yesterday, however, I threw everything into a state of disarray…One of the Well-Known Electronics Chains advertised a Dell with 6(!) gigs of RAM, a 640 gigabyte hard drive, an Intel quad-core processor, and a 19-inch flat screen monitor – for a very agreeable price. I showed the ad to Toney, and tossed the circular aside.
Then I returned to it, over and over again, which is never a good sign. And on the front of the advertising section I noticed something I hadn’t before: 18 months same as cash, on all purchases over $699. Damn! A good deal made even better.
I didn’t have an account with that particular store, so I applied online. And after I was approved the screen told me I could start shopping immediately. Just print out the acceptance page, it said, go to one of our stores, and knock yourself out.
So Toney and I drove over there. “Is this nuts?” I kept asking her. “Not for eighteen months, no interest,” she kept assuring me. “But is it nuts?” I’d say, starting the conversation-loop all over again.
We parked and went inside, and found the computer within minutes. Oh God, it was a thing of beauty; I nearly wept. We stood and admired it, waiting for one of the vultures/sales people to swoop down.
And nobody came. It was still fairly early, and the store wasn’t exactly slammed with customers. But the staff left us alone, which is the exact opposite of what happens when I’m just browsing in that joint.
I sighed, and went in search of someone willing to help us. And the first guy shoved us off to someone else, a girl with no enthusiasm for any of it. I told her what I wanted, gave her the printout from their website, and she scurried away.
Then: “Um, my manager says you can’t use this thing you printed? Um, he says you have to wait for the actual credit card to arrive in the mail?”
I knew it! Every time I go to that store, something happens to make my crazy. It never fails, and that’s not an exaggeration. “Your website says the exact opposite of what your manager is saying,” I told her, trying to keep my cool.
“Well, um, he says you can’t use this piece of paper? He says you have to wait for the, you know, actual card to come in the mail?”
“Why is something else stated on the website?” We were already repeating ourselves.
“Um, I don’t know? But maybe you could go talk to him, and he could explain it?”
Go talk to him? I don’t think so. He can come over here, and talk to me. But I’m not approaching the throne of some ass-faced twenty year old ball-pouch who thinks he’s a captain of industry.
“Forget it,” I said, and snatched the paper away. “I’ll just go somewhere else, where they actually want to sell computers to people.”
“OK?” she said, not giving a coal-black seahorse, one way or the other.
As we drove home I had rockets of steam blasting from my ears, and the profanity was being manufactured at such a pace, it started to pile up inside the car. And that’s the way I’ve left that store, many times. But what to do, since their main competitor is even worse?! What is it about big-box electronics stores? They make me insane.
I still wanted that computer, though. So I called their 800 number, and asked if I could order the thing online and still get the 18 months of free financing. “No,” was the very helpful and friendly answer. And isn’t that simply fantastic?
After I ranted and raved, and was moved further up the food chain, I finally found someone interested in helping me. She said she’d waive the finance charges for eighteen months, and gave me a name and reference number, in case there’s a problem.
However… I’d have to pay sixty dollars(!) for the computer to be shipped to our house. Sixty bucks!! No way, I said. So she suggested I pick it up at the store, for free.
“Will they give me a bunch of crap, because I don’t have the credit card yet?”
“They shouldn’t, sir.”
“I know they shouldn’t, but that doesn’t really answer the question.”
So, long story a little less long… I now have that kick-ass NASA computer; it’s currently in the fambly room, just a few feet away from me. I probably won’t have time to set it up until Friday or Saturday, but just the sight of those boxes makes my nipples explode with delight.
But how much you want to bet I have many, many hassles with the financing? Anyone care to take that bet? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I’ll leave you now with an assignment… A guy at work has his cell phone programmed so a different song plays, for every person on his contact list. If his mother calls, it plays a certain song, if his girlfriend calls, it plays another song, etc. Pretty slick.
So, I was wondering: what songs should my phone play if the following family members would happen to call me?
Help me out, won’t you? The see-thrus don’t have a phone, of course, but I’d like to prepare for the future.
And what do you guys think about new Surf Report t-shirts? Any opinions on that? Any interest in it, or is it too soon? Any color preferences, etc.? Also, if any of you are graphic artists and would be interested in maybe helping with the design, send me an email. I think it’s high time for a change.
And this concludes your Monday update.
I’ll see ya tomorrow.
Tuesday night, while in the throes of an uncommon cold, I went horizontal on the couch and watched four episodes of Green Acres in a row, then an entire DVD of Beavis and Butthead. And it was just what the doctor ordered. I felt a lot better the next morning (although I still wasn’t quite ready to go limbo dancing), and I credit my TV choices from the night before.
Mr. Anderson to the cops: “One of them calls himself Butthole, and the other one’s name is Joe. I believe they were Oriental.”
I think I dislodged twelve pounds of phlegm laughing at that line…
You know how everybody says they don’t know a person who’s actually participated in a national political poll? Well, I used to say the same thing, but no longer. Because yesterday afternoon Toney took part in a so-called focus group, at a local hotel, and represented thousands of registered voters(!).
She said they asked her a lot of questions about local races, showed her campaign ads and asked questions about them, then grilled her about McCain vs. Obama.
The whole process took about 35 minutes, and they gave her a crisp $50 bill at the end. Man, I’m jealous… I never get called for such things. Hell, I’d give them a hundred dollars worth of opinions, for their fitty.
Near the end, Toney said they showed her video footage of what was supposed to be average citizens from the area, pontificating about politics. They asked her if she believed they were really locals, or actors.
Toney guessed they were actors, and they asked why. “Because they’re all nice looking, and well-groomed,” she answered. And this reportedly triggered much laughter amongst the polling staff.
Buck sent me this picture today. It’s supposedly a toilet in the Ukraine. Not a urinal, but an actual toilet – in a ladies room.
Can someone please help me out with the logistics of such a set-up? What do you have to do, remove all your clothes from the waist down, including shoes and socks, and straddle that thing?
Good God. Can you imagine the splash-back? Forget crapping at work… I might not even be able to do it at home, if I had to deal with something like that. It makes me all nervous and anxious, just looking at it.
I asked Buck about the mechanics of using such an apparatus, and here is his reply:
You drop trou, squat and pray the back of your pants and underwear are far enough forward so as not to become a cloth catch basin. It’s the same thing as when you’re shitting in the woods while hunting–except there’s heat, privacy, and water to rinse things off. But now that you mention it–I see no toilet paper holder. WTF?
Do any of you have information on this curious Ukrainian crap-catcher? And what other ridiculous novelty toilets have you encountered in your travels?
Remember how I was having trouble reading, all of a sudden? Well, that’s over, and here’s the book that broke the spell. For whatever reason, I was into it from the very first page. Whew! I was afraid I was in the early stages of time-released retardation.
When I finish, I might feel confident enough to finally tackle The Stand. But we’ll see how it goes.
And thanks to Rhino Records, there are even more must-own CDs on record store shelves – mocking me, and calling me hurtful names. On Tuesday they completed their Replacements reissue project, by re-releasing the band’s four major label albums: all remastered, expanded, and fancied-up.
Here’s a brief overview, and your inevitable Amazon links:
The first two are stone-cold classic gottabuyems, and the last two aren’t too shabby either. Snap ’em up, before they start making you feel guilty.
And I’ll leave you today with a Question, based on a conversation Toney and I had last weekend: have you ever seen a ghost?
Toney tells a story from her childhood, in which her family was staying at an old farmhouse in Montana for a couple of months. Yeah… who knows? Sunshine was involved, so it’s best not to even think about it.
In any case, Toney says she woke up one night and thought she saw a lady ironing clothes in the middle of the room. Believing she was only dreaming, she allowed herself to drift back to sleep.
And the next morning Sunshine stumbled out of the bedroom, and said, “Man, I had the weirdest dream last night. I thought I woke up and saw a woman, in an old-fashioned dress, ironing clothes at an ironing board.”
So, there ya go. Have you ever seen what you think might’ve been a ghost? I haven’t, so I can contribute nothing to this one. But if you’ve got something for us, use the comments link below.
And I’ll see ya next time.
UPDATE: Jorge sends along these photos of another, um, exotic toilet. He explains:
My wife was in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and stayed with a family with this set up for a month or so during her training.
The laundry area is to the left of the photo and the hog pen is to the right. There is toilet paper, but no seat, no tank. Just a bowl. Afterwards you pour a bucket of water in to create the “flush”.
A few years ago I received an email from a guy in Raleigh, North Carolina, who claimed to be the host of a morning radio show at a local adult alternative station. Somehow he’d stumbled across the Surf Report, and was writing to tell me how much he was enjoying it.
Near the end of the note he mentioned that some of my updates were tailor-made for “performance.” He wanted to know if I’d be interested in possibly reading a few of them on his show.
Without thinking twice about it, I told him no. I’m not a “performer,” I’m a pasty-skinned guy who sits in a tiny room and types. I’m no good at public speaking, or even being the center of attention at a dinner party. Just the thought of going on the air with him, with the expectation of being funny, made my sphincter wink.
But he wouldn’t let it drop, and finally convinced me. He said we could record it, rather than going on live, and he’d fix any mistakes I might make, etc.
We probably did fifteen installments, before there was a format change at the station and we had to put the questionable exercise on hold. But, he assured me, we’d have it back up and running in no time. In fact, he said, we should think about syndicating it. Gulp.
During that period Jack Boston (as he was known on the air) and I became friends. We spoke on the phone many times, and our personalities and senses of humor meshed nicely.
Jack was no over-caffeinated morning show buffoon, going for the cheap laughs and non-stop sexual innuendo. He was smart and genuinely funny, and had an ability to root out the absurdity in everyday life. Our weekly over-the-phone recording sessions featured a lot of laughter – before we even got to the task at hand.
I remember one conversation in particular. He was telling me about a picture that had appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer. He said it showed some guy holding a big pot of soup, or something, and one of his hands was ghost white, for reasons unknown.
While we were talking I found the picture online, and we spent the next ten minutes riffing on that guy’s one freakishly white hand. I wish I had a tape of the conversation, because it was hilarious. Much funnier than any of my wooden “readings.”
One day Jack sent me an excited email, telling me he’d been chosen to host North Carolina’s Morning News, proclaiming it his dream job. This was a prestigious position, at a powerhouse station, and he’d be only the fourth host of the show since 1952.
I congratulated him, and followed it up with another message a week later. “How’s the new gig going?” I asked. And his answer was terrible.
He’d been feeling exhausted, and went to see his doctor on the afternoon of his very first show. Blood tests indicated he was suffering from “myoblastic leukemia,” and they’d immediately begun aggressive chemotherapy.
I still have that email, and in it he talks about what happened after a doctor uttered the C-word for the first time: Now I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had been called that by a future patient, but I’m certain I delivered it with much more elan than the others.
That was roughly two years ago, and Jack went into remission at one point, and returned to the air. I was relieved and hopeful, but when he suffered a relapse, I feared the worst.
I kept checking on him, but his responses became more and more infrequent. Eventually I stopped hearing from him at all, and then I read the sad news of his passing earlier this week.
I’m glad to have known Jack Boston, even if it was only through email and phone conversations. He was a great guy, and my most sincere condolences go out to his family and real-life friends.
I have a feeling, however, he wouldn’t be comfortable with our grieving. During the entire affair he seemed absolutely positive, never negative. Indeed, this is the way he closed one of the last emails I received from him:
In the words of I think it was Ol’ Lodge Feathers in the film Little Big Man, “My heart is soaring like a hawk.”