Thursday, September 23, 2010

pale kings and princes

Pale Kings and Princes
Fat reviews everyday life
(an illustrated and illustrative diversionary tactic)

0. Introduction

It appears as though @todf and I are completely correct: we are in fact living in the world of They Live.

Work, leisure, work, leisure: a surly administrative assistant shoving a binder clip into my cheek, forever; botched, aborted weekends spent getting called into work, first as tragedy, then as farce; a sad struggle on my part to appropriate the existing totality of my productive forces, not only to achieve self-activity, but also merely to safeguard my very existence.

1. Leisure

The other week, The World's Best Girlfriend in the World and I went and saw William Gibson do a reading from his new book, Zero History.

It was a pretty good time. The selection--though I haven't read the book yet--was a little odd, as it was heavy exposition, with a lot of plot-advancing recap and a ton of dialogue. Some of Gibson's recent obsessions were trotted out: pho, clothes, obsessive feds and their interactions with civilians. The book sounds more Spook Country than Pattern Recognition, and the reading was frustratingly without any Q&A session, but I look forward to reading it.

And, just like the last time, it was fun to hear Gibson run through his own work. Particularly charming: he's getting up there, and he has that half-mushy voice that hints at needing a little more dental work1, very soothing and engaging; one of the characters he was reading had a distinctive kind of government-work hard-boiled world-weary speech pattern, acronym-heavy and abrupt, insistently authoritative, and Gibson's manner could not be less suited to delivering material like that. This disconnect was oddly endearing.

The passage he read some years back for Pattern Recognition was basically just single-character-passing-thru-milieu-and-reflecting-on-it stuff, which was great, and he read it beautifully. It might not have served well to sell the novel, since the material was a little abstract and musing, but it made for a great time.

I didn't have him sign anything. I've almost never had anything signed. Getting a book signed seems particularly weird: is it somehow if the writer touches it with a pen? They made the whole thing with a pen! (or something similar). I've never quite grokked how their formalized scribble is supposed to make it mean more.2

Gibson, however, of course, is accommodating and patient on the topic.

2. Work

My new job had me working at different desks every day for a week or so. I had a thought to do a little photoessay about desks before I get to them, while I'm using them, then the cleanup. My desk environments are notoriously a nightmare. Co-workers flinch when they walk by my desk (it's probably not because of me).

This is the only picture I actually got around to taking, I think. It was taken around an hour after I got to a stranger's perfectly clean desk for the first time. The situation worsened considerably thereafter, clutterwise.

3. Leisure

I went to a baseball game.

I got a hat. The hat is a gimmie hat, therefore a meshback. In my bag, it got stained with coffee before I even made it home. For fuck's sake.

4. Work

I have a new co-worker. She doesn't think she needs to deploy footwear when we're in company-wide meetings.

You know, because it's totally appropriate and acceptable to have bare feet in public.

5. Appropriating the Totality of Productive Forces

I spend a lot of time at work untangling my headphone cords, every couple weeks.

I broke a cable on my computer, when it locked up worse than I've ever had a laptop lock up before. Seriously, it was a snow crash, if that's a real thing, but a different kind, without the random spray of electrons onto a screen on account of how that's not how laptop screens work. Among other nightclustermarefuck shit the thing pulled, it was making a hideous squealing noise I couldn't stifle--I started yanking cords out with passion and alacrity.

When I started shoving the plugs back in, after a couple-three hard reboots, apparently I was ungentle at least once. On a mission to replace the cable, I ended up at Radio Shack.

Radio Shack hurled me back to the Christmas of 1984. I'd started expressing an interest in music, I guess. My mom kicked me four tapes3, and her dad gave me a tape deck.

Unfortunately, the Old Man did one hundred percent of my Christmas shopping every year--every year--at Radio Shack, so what I ended up with was a mono-playing chimera, suited well neither for recording nor for playback. It was this and a clock radio for me well into high school, as far as music consumption went. The main surprise here is that the modern, or anyway current, version of the device costs forty wing-wangs. That's a lot of wing-wangs.


1Okay, sure, he's Southern, and gentle of manner, and the sound system wasn't great. I am very very much not trying to insult the man: he is one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite humans. I wish at no time ever to insult him.

2I exclude here the base commercial value-increase, but that actually only moves the problem to someone else's valuation. While introducing the "I'm a colossal cocksucker" factor, if you're getting it signed deliberately to sell.

3For completeness' sake:
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
AC/DC, Flick of the Switch
Ric Ocasek, Beatitude
Richard Pryor, Something or Other

4Half of the point here was to show my terrible photo of Gibson from the reading, and the picture I snuck of my co-worker, Shoeless Lisa Jackson, in a meeting, but apparently those photos have gone to live with a nice family upstate. Will update when these images are available.


Update! Here you go.

2 Comments + Unabashed Criticism:

Blogger d.d. tinzeroes said...

1. In the deskcube photo, is that your jacket/coat thing hanging there? I never saw you as a beige/tan coat kind of guy...

2. The tape deck. Is that photo new? Was it actually for sale at Radio Shack (in which case you Literally stepped in to xmas '84)?

12:31 PM  
Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Yeah, LL Bean town coat. I like it a lot.

I basically use that when it's cold or will rain and my old blue jacket when it's warm and dry. Picked up a greenish windbreaker, but I don't like that one as much as I'd hoped to. (It gives me a kinda funny retired Air Force colonel vibe.) I also picked up a super-cheap P coat, which I love, but which is WAY too warm for California like 363 days of the year. Sometimes I sleep on the couch and use it as a blanket.

Someday I may write a thing about giving up hoodies.

2. That tape deck photo was taken not two weeks ago in the Berkeley Radio Shack. I shit you fucking not.

10:18 AM  

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