Imagine if you will, having a deadline where you have to finish a voiceover project in the next half hour or so. Part of the setup for your Macbook Pro is the bluetooth trackpad and keyboard.
I only use those items when I record, and I don't necessarily record every day. The reason I use them is so I can isolate the CPU fan in another room, leaving a nice, quiet work space in front of the microphone.
I turn on the keyboard, the icon on the screen shows me that it's engaged. I turn on the trackpad, no icon.
I opened the cap on the upper right end of the trackpad to see if a new battery might help.
This is what I found (left), only facing down, and not until I devoted about 20 minutes to attempting to extract it and its twin.
How do you remove a swollen battery from its enclosure when it's surrounded by corrosion and lodged tightly in its aluminum housing? Well, prying it loose doesn't work, so you have to bang it against something. It's only $69 after all, and if I break it, I can go to the Apple store and buy another one... for $69. And the Apple store is 15/20 minutes away. The whole trip should take an hour after parking, waiting in the checkout line, traffic. I'm still trying to finish my voiceover recording in half an hour. Time to start banging.
First few whacks: no movement. Do it again. Nothing. I know! I'll use some contact cleaner, some DeOxit spray right into the tube. What have I got to lose? It already doesn't work, and I might be able to fix it after all.
It was in the late 90s. Maybe it was 1996. I had been going to a songwriters' group in Hollywood every Monday night to see if I could get a grip on publishing and promoting my music… and of course, to learn a little more about the craft of songwriting.
Remarkably, any artistic home runs I'd hit prior to those meetings had become nothing more than wisps of memories. My current brood of songs, sadly, were systematically thumb-squashed by my panel of peers as well as by the moderator, an expert with his own string of successes. I was a nobody struggling and failing to become a somebody. I was a wandering minstrel in search of validation, but validation eluded me.
The other night I was pulled over by a policeman. It was a Saturday night. He was trolling I'm sure, for drunks. So was the other police car that was sniffing around this stretch of road. It was easy pickin's, like shooting fish in a barrel.
I produced my license and registration, proof of insurance, passed the follow-my-pen-with-your-eyes-to-see-if-you're-drunk test. My wife sat in the passenger's seat in a cold sweat wondering what I'd done, wondering how much this was going to cost.
"Have you ever been arrested?"
"Any outstanding warrants?" he asked.
"Nope," I answered. "Just speeding tickets." The beam of his flashlight finally turned away. "I'll be right back," he said. Then he left me to do some business in his patrol car.
It was an interminable wait, there on the side of the road with cars whizzing by, drivers and passengers with their necks craned thinking, "Look at that sorry bastard."
"The reason I stopped you," the policeman said when he returned, "is that you have a burned out headlight here on the driver's side."
"Really? It doesn't look burned out."
"Yeah, it's burned out. I'm going to give you a fix-it ticket. You've got 'til March 29th to fix it....."
We drove off to have dinner with our friends. "That light's not burned out," I said to my wife.
_Yes, Wordpress makes me sad. It seems to make others feel sad too, which is good, because then I don't have to feel alone on top of being sad.
It turns out that a musician friend of mine is on an extended artistic pilgrimage to Brazil. He thought it would be a good idea to keep his pals posted regarding his adventures while he was gone, and he decided that Wordpress would be the best medium for his broadcasts. "Not so!" he reported from his urban jungle location. He complained of bugginess, blank pages and general headaches. In other words, he complained that Wordpress made him sad too.
I can empathize. A long time ago (maybe 2003) I was building a website for a client, and the client asked if I could put together a blog for him. At the time, I didn't really know anything about blogs or why anyone would even be so presumptuous as to assume that someone would read theirs.
These three people display a modern-day behavior where individuals no longer have the ability to communicate face-to-face while sitting in the same room. Once a phenomenon only found in restaurants and coffee shops, it has now spread to living rooms, and probably, bedrooms. (Well, actually...)
Yes, it even happened to us. There we were, Deborah and I, sitting with our little nephew Noah in a highrise in a suburb of Milan, Italy, ignoring each other. Actually, it wasn't as pathological as I make it sound; Noah doesn't understand any English anyway, and I don't speak much Italian at all. Other than playing peekaboo, we didn't have much to talk about.
Only as we were walking out the door on the way to the airport did I realize that he understands Serbo/Croatian and that his mom actually speaks a little.
Click to enlarge.
It was like a fantasy: The carols playing, the giant Christmas tree, children on Santa's knee. One last sweep of South Coast Plaza mall and I'd fulfill my shopping duties for 2011. "Such a beautiful dress in this store window." I remembered having a crush on a mannequin just like that one when I was four years old. "Look at the interesting display in that one. I should take a picture of it," I thought to myself. "No. Never mind."
"Oh, look! They're serving champagne in that store! They have waiters. What's it called? Oh, it's called Assouline. Hmm. And it's a book store. I'm probably pronouncing it wrong."
Ah, French. So impossible for me to understand. So easy to mispronounce. Should I learn to speak French? No. Why? No practical reason, I suppose.
I have an American friend who speaks French. He moved to Paris with his wife. They got mugged on Christmas Eve. They'd seen a concert and were walking home when a small crowd of rowdy, bratty French teenagers came along. One grabbed his satchel. My friend tried to fight him off but failed. My friend's wife swore in English at the brats. She swore that she'd kick their asses if she got ahold of 'em.
My friend picked himself up off the ground. He'd lost his balance in the tussle. The brat ran toward the darkness with the satchel while my friend squinted, huffing and puffing, thinking dirty thoughts.
From the other direction, a whining, grinding sound swelled up from a dim alley. It was a Samaritan. The Samaritan was driving a Vespa. He'd seen what had happened, and like Batman to the rescue, he vowed to right the wrong done to my friend and his satchel.
The Vespa roared like only a Vespa can roar, thinly adolescent, yet insistently toward the thief. Four seconds later, the French brat was on the ground, tire tracks drawn up his back like a skunk's stripe, his face mashed into the sidewalk.
"Merci," my friend told the Samaritan as he took back his dusty satchel. "Joyeux Noël," he said.
The Samaritan responded in French. "You're not from around here, are you?"
Click to enlarge hand puppet.
I'm kind of lazy, so when I decided to rob that bank, I only disguised my hand.
Actually, what happened was that I baked something in a pan in the oven last night, took the pan out and removed the food, then a few minutes later decided to use the pan for something else.
The salad was ready. The potato was in the microwave. I had just opened a beer.
It didn't occur to me that the pan was still about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (down from 450) when I grabbed the stainless steel handle with my bare hand. At the emergency room they said, "I'll bet that really hurts."
A store window display in Rome. Click to enlarge.
The answer is, "You dream in English."
When you think about it, you can't sing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" in Italian, can you? (Look at the picture.) The song won't rhyme.
The creator of this store window display in Rome agrees. He/she knows that you don't mess with tried and true slogans and lines from Christmas songs. (Try singing, "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake" in Italian.)
They have a different approach in Asia, though, where anything goes. Look at a couple of examples of Christmas sloganry on www.engrish.com. example A - example B
Front of theater: Click to enlarge.
So why tear down a perfectly functional building when you decide that you don't want to use it as a movie theater any more?
Obviously, there's no reason to. Someone in charge in the Croatian town of Pula decided that they needed more parking spaces. Where better than in the movie theater?
Until 1990, it was called the Beograd Theater, then it was called the Pula Theater, then it was called the Sayam book store. Now you park cars in it.
Balcony of theater: Click to enlarge.
When my brother showed it to us, I asked him if people could sit in their cars and watched movies, just like in the good old days. (It was a funny thought as far as I was concerned.)
He looked at me quizzically and said, "No. It's a parking garage. They park cars here."
I said, "No... but wouldn't it be funny?"
"They park cars here now," he said.
He had a point. Besides, all the cars were pointed sideways which makes for a bad movie experience. (But still, don't you think it would be funny if they still watched movies there?)
An afterthought: I think there should always be a movie playing there... 24 hours a day. Maybe Easy Rider.
Japan's 1930s war tubas. Click image to enlarge.
_I've been mesmerized lately by a peculiar phenomenon that's been plaguing Los Angeles: Tuba thefts.
For what? Steal 'em for spare parts like a Cadillac Escalade? Hold 'em for ransom? Maybe even make music on 'em?
It appears that something called "banda," a type of polka-style brass band music from Mexico might have something to do with it.
Look at an example of banda music on YouTube.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, an abnormal amount of these sometimes mind-numbingly expensive instruments (worth as much as $5000 each) have been the removed from local schools during after-hours breakins.
Stolen by whom? Aspiring banda bandits, one might assume. I can imagine, if this theft trend continues, that in a matter of months one could assume that if he saw two banda groups in a given period of time, one of them would be serenading you with a stolen Los Angeles School District tuba.
But why would someone want to be in a banda group in the first place?
To pick up chicks, of course. What draws women like a tuba? (I once saw a didgeridoo player fail to pick up two girls on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. He failed because he wasn't playing a tuba.)
Curiously... on the other side of the world, a similar brass music phenomenon (minus the tuba thefts) has been sighted. It's in a town called Gucha in Serbia where, every year, the Gucha brass band festival and competition is held.
What's a Gucha band sound like? It sounds like a banda band. Click to listen.
(Hey, that tuba looks familiar.)