1. REGRET IS LIKE THE PROVERBIAL potato chip, which is why I am reluctant to taste even one. Living a reasonably full life keeps any real regret firmly in its place; i.e., away. Yet while I regret nothing, there are some experiences which I would like to have but either cannot or will not swap for whatever I’d have to sacrifice to realize them. Think of them as wistful might-have-beens or alternative pleasantries:
2. Steve Jobs doing his annual MacWorld thing. I have friends who are Mac users, and I have friends who are Mac addicts who never miss a product rollout. Yet I have never so much as seen a video of Mr. Jobs’ yearly tech unveilment. Something there is about consensual dedication to intelligent (or any) tools; it would be nice to see the Fearless Leader revealing to the faithful their latest obsession.
3. One more Grateful Dead show. I was never a full-on Deadhead, but would see them whenever they played to their Bay Area homebase, and whenever I could, mostly between 1981 and 1990; the best show I attended was three days at Laguna Seca Raceway in 1988, with camping and girls and everything. It’s true that “there is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert” — it would be nice to know that the last one was the last one.
4. A few years ago, one of the cable stations ran a couple daily episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This allowed for the taping of the entire series; they were also running daily Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, but we didn’t know then how good (sometimes better) a series it was; or we could now curl up some evening at Quark’s (or, for the hardcore, Vic’s) without bugging Netflix.
5. I think I passed up a chance to see DEVO live in the late 1970s or early 1980s. But I saw them in the ’90s, which was in some cases more interesting due to all the middle-aged punks with their kids. So it all works out eventually.
I DON’T LIKE THAT specific nouns are being co-opted for brand naming. Twenty years from now, some teenager watching Star Trek: The Next Generation
will say, “Hyuk! Data doesn’t look
like a smartphone!”
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE Renaissance Pleasure Faire and a guy named Greg Pursley, who hired me to help him sell fencing lessons in Elizabethan garb and accent. The Cardiff Rose was no mere concession but a virtual privateer, with each crewmember having a complete character history as an aid to improvisational acting. (Fun? “Those who know, grin.”) In the interests of all-in-one-eggbasketry writingwise, I’m including here my own, or rather that of “Will Thrustwell,” purple prose and all, just as written in 198…8? 9? It’s necessarily in-jokey for a tight circle of friends (and includes the origin of “Trolle Sweate,” a particularly potent potable with which “Thrustwell” is synonymous). Some of whom may get a bit of a nostalgic hoot hereout, others may simply enjoy. I know I did. (Even the “heaving, tortured bosom.”)
UPDATE: I just Googled “Will Thrustwell” on a whim. All I can say is, “If it’s not a pirate, it’s not me.”
Thrustwell’s Tale, or Beware the Bottle
(Being the Somewhat Revised, yet Mercifully Succinct, History
Senior Pilot of the
Set down by his good friend Peter Boggs, Special Correspondent to the London Illustrated News
Read more »
No, seriously: http://muppetswithpeopleeyes.tumblr.com/. WARNING: Kermit will give you nightmares.
“HA HA! YOU FOOL! YOU fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia!‘ But only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha–”
– Fezzini, The Princess Bride. Granted, he was trying to start a war at the time…
PASS IT ON. (WHY? BECAUSE, as Stewart Sternberg, who got the idea following a Twilight fan’s public ignorance of same, puts it: “(W)e owe it to ourselves to promote quality work and to invite the young into our fold, giving them a perspective and understanding of the traditions and tropes of our literary world … how it has helped us vent our angst, voice our identity, and celebrate our optimism.”
Science fiction (which I first grokked when I was seven; I didn’t discover fantasy until I was 15) taught me that things were possible outside my 1960s New Jersey existence: that some day, we might have space stations, an international computer network, cleaning robots and two-way TV — not to mention an understanding between races and nationalities that there are more exciting human games than trying to whack each other lifeless. Learning that others shared these secret goshwow dreams has, in some cases, helped me face another day; “being” a science fiction fan feels like membership in a vast underground culture of people who get it. That’s probably common to many in the pre-postpunk and earlier demographics but may not be so now that multimedia SF (film, TV, videogame, webcast) is more dominant than the book-and-zine scene of our youth — before Google and Harry Potter, or cheap access and cultural prevalence, science fiction and its acolytes led a more furtive existence. But the camaraderie’s the same — and likely always will be.
In short: Those who know not the joys of Vance and Bester, Leiber and Brown, Ellison and Sturgeon, Asimov and Clarke, or even bookbound Tolkien are, Arthur-like, unaware of their great heritage; from the first murmurs of Capek and Gernsback to today’s CGI-fueled cyberdreams — and those of us who remember the past are obligated to teach it. Squa tront!)
DELIGHTEDMAN! HIS SUPERPOWERS ARE HIS 100% Infectious Enthusiasm! the Smile of Impenetrability! and the deadly Triple Exclamation Point!!!
GENERIC FOOD. FOND MEMORIES OF shopping the Lucky’s store in Concord c. 1981 wherein a vast wall of white and yellow cans, boxes and bottles severally proclaimed “COLA.” “CIGARETTES.” “CHILI.” “DOG FOOD.” “BREAKFAST CEREAL.” “ART.” (That last is ironic, but if they’d only let in Andy Warhol and a big Sharpie we could’a had us a time.)
(For that matter, I also miss “Repo Man.”)
THE THINGS YOU LEARN WITH a computer: This is World Space Week, shining a pre-dawn beacon on the modern launchpad set, and in observational honor thereof I offer the Brooklyn Space Project: a father-and-son team who sent a HD-camera-and-GPS-equipped weather balloon to touch the edge of space. (Evidently these things are all the rage on YouTube, but it’s the first one I’ve seen.) My favorite moments were the weird electronic chorus at 60,000 feet (?) and learning that a collapsing weather balloon does make a sound when there’s no one in space to hear it scream. (Pun courtesy of Ridley Scott.)