Thursday, February 26, 2009

Headbanger's Ball

In normal times, when things are sane -- and when I am as well -- the title of this particular post would undoubtedly refer to an iPod playlist filled with AC/DC, Alice in Chains, Masters of Reality and a similar smattering of loud, fist-pumping rock. Songs that belong on this mythical playlist might include "If You Want Blood, You Got It" (AC/DC), Enter Sandman (Metallica), Light Up The Sky (Van Halen), Got Me Under Pressure (ZZ Top) and Thunderstruck or Big Gun (AC/DC).

Unfortunately, however, I'm in the throes of a busy period that makes most busy periods seem tame by comparison. I've got about six different things happening, all simultaneously, and just about the only thing to which I can look forward is that within a couple weeks I'll be winding down and Kaia will be an NYC resident.

Just that last part alone makes me smile, so I know I'm not hopeless...not completely, anyway.

But in the meantime, I've got two full weeks -- including weekends -- of work, stress, aggravation and bullshit full-on from waking to sleeping and all hours in between. Think I'm exaggerating? Try working 'til 11 with a remote connection, having work-related dreams -- nightmares, perchaps -- and then waking up before 6 to start the entire process over again. It could always be worse, and I remind myself of that pretty much on a daily basis, whether things are crazy or completely kicked back and mellow. So this -- the next couple weeks -- remains my seventh circle of hell moment (period, actually).

Some high points: I found a product that lets me funnel DVD's -- both regular discs and Blu-Ray -- into my media player, so I can keep all the movies I want to have handy at all at all times. I could stuff them into my iPod but despite the Touch being a great video player, I haven't bothered doing anything with videos on it aside from a few Family Guy episodes. Within a few years -- if not sooner -- I can see regular visits to (that site that Alec Baldwin -- the alien -- began shilling during the Super Bowl -- as well as others like YouTube, NBC and the other TV on the Net options both current and future. Based on how bulletproof using a media player is with a competent A/V receiver, I expect that within a decade most people will be doing what I've been doing, except I think the convergence will not simply be transferring downloaded/converted discs into a media player but instead having a media player that is the PC. The PC has become so ubiquitous in our lives that it has overtaken our social interactivity (chatroom, anyone?), our music (who doesn't have iTunes?), photos (does anyone use film-based cameras anymore?) and, most importantly, entertainment. So I expect that my experience now will be repeated millions of times over down the line, and I have a feeling many people will be using their PC's to control their TV's, their stereos, social lives and their business/work lives. Why this is all relevant is because I am really pleased at how -- relatively speaking -- simple all this crap is, even now. By the time it's simplified for the average single mother in Nebraska, it's going to be scary -- scary as in "will anyone actually be buying discs anymore, or will we simply be paying for the privilege of downloading content?" I ask these questions and they occupy what's left of my free-floating gray matter simply because I saw a rolling ad (ie a truck with a big sign cruising 7th Avenue this afternoon) mentioning that Virgin's Times Square Megastore was and is going out of business. Guess I Am Legend is now obsolete. It's at once disturbing to keep in mind that one day -- soon -- we won't have the option of buying discs unless we want to get them used in the East Village or as bootlegged recordings somewhere downtown.

If all this seems like a free associative rant, too damn bad -- although that's exactly what it is. As long as I'm focusing on crap that doesn't challenge me too excessively to think or use anything Pythagorean in my logic, I'm fine. But once I need to put more than 2x and 3y together, I'm back to my desk, bouncing between urgent matters and fire drills that need my attention yesterday.

In either case, some other random musings are Obama's address from Tuesday night, which I thought was fairly solid despite it being a lot of campaigning for keeping the faith and very little real solution, and the variety of good and bad TV television out there. A year or more ago, I remember hearing Tony Bourdain observe that the Food Network's ultimate failure would be that it strives for mediocrity, and his prescience is staggeringly accurate. The Food Network, once a bastion for entertaining and useful food-related programming, now houses such (sic) genius as Aaron "Coke The Van" McCargo Jr., Guy Fieri (who seems more talented at speaking Californese than actually showing people how and what to cook) and the dreadful hour-long colonoscopy that is "Chopped." It's genuinely hard to watch the network without self-commentary suggesting that there must be something better to do than watch TV. People like Ina Garten, Tyler Florence and Alton Brown -- simultaneously good at entertaining and teaching -- are a minority on the network, and (Blatant Prediction) they will soon -- all -- disappear from the Food Network lineup.

This discussion is the indirect result of tonight's Top Chef finale, which was -- as per usual -- anything but expected, except for the fact that the participants all strive to impress and express themselves artistically through food prep. It's almost incredible, but knowing I've learned stuff from the show here and there really does make me feel like more than just some fixture on a couch. I'll never prepare a Beef Wellington or a Foie Gras souffle, but watching people transform ingredients that I can go get at Whole Foods or even Fairway into art impresses me big-time. In either case, I am increasingly amazed and, simultaneously, disappointed that as other networks -- Travel, BBC America, Bravo -- become increasingly adept at both entertaining and teaching people how to cook healthier and better, the Food Network panders to stupidity and low-class, low-end output. I know some people like Guy Fieri and Aaron McCargo, Jr. and Sunny Anderson and the Neelys, but they really inspire me to change the channel. About the only interesting thing about the Food Network over the last ten days was seeing a former Top Chef contestant (Arianne, from this recently-completed season) perform as a sous chef on a recent episode of Iron Chef America. Other'n that, the Food Network has become an excellent tool for me to get to sleep -- quickly.

I apologize for the nonsensical, masturbatory rant perpetrated above, but the luxury of forgetting about the massive intensity with which I'm dealing at work -- even for a few minutes -- was worth the obvious transgression. I can't say it won't happen again, but I can say that it was worth it to me, even it wasn't to the reader. My apologies again.


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