Wednesday, December 31, 2003

The Christmas Report

I am back, back from a land slightly colder and greener, and where people use their turn signals a little more than here in The Southland, as weather personalities call Orange County. Then they go back to Live And Continuous Coverage Of The Storm Of 2003, where they will keep you updated every five minutes about the tree that fell on someone's Lexus, before switching over to more pressing things, like coverage of A Day In The Life of a USC Cheerleader or something.

We have to keep our priorities straight.

Our drive to the Bay Area was long, as expected, with some truly inspirational bouts of bad driving on display. For those unfamiliar with the route from The Southland to the Bay Area of California, I'm here to tell you that it's straight. There is a stretch of about 3 hours that you spend on a road called Interstate 5, where you long for a pothole, a curve, a seven-car pileup, just to break the monotony.

Only a couple of things livened up the proceedings:

1- The Near Death Experience.
I try to nearly kill us every time we make this trip. This time was a little disappointing as the Near Death Experience occurred around the corner from our house before we even got on the freeway. I innocently looked the other way and next thing I knew the wifely friend was shouting something that I think was Swahili for "you are about to have a faceful of Oldsmobile!" and executing the traditional hand-on-the-dashboard maneuver so efficacious in high-speed collisions. Thankfully, I stopped in time and did not get a faceful of Oldsmobile.

Honestly I wasn't going all that fast, and if I had rear-ended the car in front, it would have resulted only in annoyance, but I went ahead and saw a tunnel with light at the end and Jesus and a pissed off goldfish whose water I didn't dechlorinate in the fourth grade, just to be on the safe side. This out-of body experience lasted only long enough for me to bother that John Edward guy and hide a few people's keys, and then I snapped back to my earthbound frame and quickly and vehemently denied there was any possibility I would have hit the car in front.

2- Infinitely Recurring REM
We were terribly excited to try out a new music system on this trip. The wifely friend had recently gotten an iPod as a bonus at work for being exemplary, which is an understatement if ever there was one. My bonus at work was a giftcard for Target and thinly veiled hostility, but I try not to complain. Anyway, we usually just bring along twenty or thirty CDs for the trip, which I select and she has veto power over. The usual process is "What is this white CD? Is it twangy? It's not twangy is it? Is it Nick Drake? We don't want to fall asleep..."

That sort of thing.

I should say that while our musical tastes do overlap in places, she prefers Industrial Dance Music and I prefer depressing music about death. Because we should always remember that we are but a step away from the cold, wormy grave, and frankly it's just irresponsible to go a few moments without a syncopated reminder of the fact.

We braved the mall a little while ago and picked up an iPod FM Transmitter for the car, since I have a CD deck and I couldn't seem to force the iPod through the little slot. Everything was going swimmingly for a time, as we selected our choices and beamed happily. Then, a couple of hours into our drive, we started to notice some distortion. This, we logically assumed, was due to the station we selected to receive the iPod broadcast being overcome by some Mariachi station, which are very, very numerous in this neck of the woods. Undaunted, we reset the iPod to another station, but with the same result.

A growing fear began to set in as we played tag with the Mariachi stations. Our happy Flaming Lips or, alternately, Russian Industrial Dance Music, would get all fuzzy and and soon would be pretty much unlistenable fuzz. There's nothing quite like the irritation of driving at night in heavy traffic at high speeds, with white noise blaring from your speakers.

Luckily, I had a CD along. It was an REM compilation which is actually really good, and relieves you of the inevitably lackluster five songs in the middle of every REM album ever. The problem was that we still had over four hours left on our drive, maybe five with the traffic the way it was, and after two times through the same CD, I was ready to fling that bad boy out the window.

OK, I thought, if I hear "Driver Eight, Take a break" one more freaking time, I can't be held responsible for my actions, and we were reduced to messing with the iPod again, until it was determined to be all my fault since I had been using the backlight too much and wearing down the battery. Then, all of a sudden, we figured out that we had the volume jacked all the way up on the iPod, and when we turned it down, the distortion disappeared.

All was once again happiness, and Michael Stipe no longer had to fear that I would find him and kill him.

3- The Christmas Robot
The Christmas Robot is the newest addition to our Christmas tree. He joins his friend Frog Dressed as Cowboy Sheriff as The Ornaments Most Honored.

The great thing about the Christmas Robot, which is frankly really weird and was found at Cost Plus and consequently was probably made by an eight year old in Thailand, is that it wants to kill you even as it wishes you love, peace and harmony. The internal monologue of the Christmas Robot sounds like this:

peace - and - love - and - KILL! HU-MAN! - and - baby - jesus - DEATH! RAY! - SMASH! - peace - on - earth - good - will - to - KILL! KILL!

The Christmas Robot is terribly conflicted.

47- That's All For This Year
It's New Year's Eve. We're planning on staying home and getting quietly crocked. My New Year's Resolution is to come in low and fast, out of the rising sun. And also, to take it to the next level. I hear people saying that a lot these days: "I'm taking it to the next level!" or "Man! That guy really took it to the next level!"

Whatever there is that is currently a level too low, I will endeavor to take that thing to the next level.

And maybe, well, possibly, I'll try to take this here blog to the next level and actually use Movable Type or something. But I can't promise anything. Honestly, it's more that I won't promise anything, but there you go.


Blog Archive