Monday, September 26, 2011

Afternoon Reflections

It's been a pretty good day so far. I start work in two days, so Monday and Tuesday are valuable as my final two wide-open vacation days. When you're unemployed, days and hours tend to bleed into each other and it's easy to lose them in weeks and months. But when you have a job, nothing's more prized than a day off. People are so funny, where "funny" is a euphemism for more unflattering and accurate descriptors.

I got cleaned up and dressed, packed up my laptop and some notebooks, and refilled my Cross. It was down to maybe a paragraph of ink but I couldn't find its refill bottle anywhere. Others, yes: four bottles of Noodler's ink, the Montblanc and the Waterford, but those last two were black and the Noodler's were all other colors. I'd been using a coffee-hued J. Herbin ink in the Cross most recently and it took me ten minutes to find it. The problem is that I have three very good and consistent locations where I store ink, but in any series it's easy to forget one item. This is easily demonstrated by simple and popular little tests. Name all of:

  • Santa's reindeer
  • the Seven Dwarves (Disney)
  • the Fraggles
Fewer to remember each time but always easy to forget one.

Hitting the sidewalk, I enjoyed the clean, warm afternoon air. The sky is overcast but glowing at a very bright tint of grey. I walked by a park and saw a talented unicyclist recording himself hopping up to slide down a steel handrail by his axle. Impressed, I applauded and he grinned. Next, I spotted an acquaintance across the street, someone I went to school with at SCSU and have run into a few times in Minneapolis. He was staring at me as if to recognize me, which caused me to stare and recognize him, and we grinned and waved and walked on. I was feeling so upbeat that I was sure something tragic was about to happen to me.

Instead, I uneventfully arrived at Spyhouse, got a small coffee and a snack, and parked myself in the quiet back room. I like it here but the men back here tend to be kind of creepy. They dress normally and they're clean and kempt, but they look up and glare like you've got the clue to a riddle they're trying to solve. I think it's what keeps women away from here, generally. Women do come back here but they tend to leave, or they sit around if they were here first. That's my impression.

I'm just sitting in back, watching people come and go. I've added to my story-a-day blog, I've long since killed the snack and coffee, and now I'm reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. As I opined on Facebook, Cline's very unsubtle with all the '80s/Atari/AD&D references and the book seems to have been written solely to show off everything he knows. Several times the plot derails or halts entirely until he's blown his geek wad, bragging and then laboriously explaining his heavy-handed allusions.

It's really an irritating read, but for some reason I need to see what happens. I started the book last night and stayed up way too late in the early morning, reading it. Now I'm over halfway through and will finish it before the sun goes down. I don't care about the stilted characters--Cline has overtly written himself into his little fantasy--but for some reason mysterious even to myself, I really need to see how this concludes. I've got to be honest about this, I'm embarrassed but I can't put this bad fiction down. My geekier friends will love this book much better than I do, but that's how it is. I'm one of those arrogant geeks who considers himself above the open-hearted social retardation, the unconstrained revelry one feels in connecting with birds of a feather, even when that connection is little more than litanizing threadbare pop references. There's no creativity in this novel: the main character's online avatar is driving the Delorean from Back to the Future with KITT's bouncing red eye mounted in front and Ghostbuster logos on the back, plus bolted-on references to Buckaroo Banzai. "If we don't steal other people's ideas, where are they supposed to come from?"

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