entertainment in the future
Friday, June 22 2007
setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
This morning it was exceptionally cool and windy, with the sort of gales from the north that cause me to fear sitting in front of my computer in the laboratory, which could theoretically get whacked by the spontaneous toppling of a large damaged pine a dozen feet to the north.
Today at the last minute John, my old housemate when I lived in Los Angeles, got back to me and said sure, I could come to his place in Philadelphia for the weekend. So I tidied up some loose ends and hit the road. I followed the route that Google Maps suggested and went south to the east of Philadelphia on the New Jersey Turnpike and then cut westward on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I'd been up and down the NJT many times, and I'd never known that it passed within a few miles of the Delaware and beyond it (across a hitherto-uncrossed bridge) Philadelphia.
The last time I'd seen John in person had been nearly two years ago. Such spans of time become common as a friendship ages. He's still living in the same duplex, and I got to see what he'd done to his kitchen after the Adderall-aided wall demolition we'd done when I'd last visited. Where the wall used to be there's now a large granite-crowned island with a gas stovetop. The walls are painted in a tasteful (though somewhat unusual) combination of greens and blues. When John inevitably sells the place to a stereotype-confirming gay couple, he'll be sure to tell me about the many thousands he made on it. (He's constantly telling me about the latest estimate of my Los Angeles condo's value, which he tracks at zillow.com. It's up above $670,000 now, though when I sold it I only got $300,000.)
We ended up spending the evening watching television under the influence of Vicadin and Adderall. The prescriptions came from a medical connection and, in the case of the vitamin V, could be justified by a brand new tear John recently made in his replacement cruciate ligament, which had been harvested from the knee of a cadaver. For teevee, John doesn't actually have cable and instead uses a Mac Mini attached to a large flatscreen panel as his complete (and compact) media center. Most of what he watches comes via iTunes, which he manipulates with a tiny remote using a simple-but-intuitive full-screen application. His set up struck me as futuristic in a two-years hence kind of way. John also has an iBook and had spent an extra $100 for the black model. This had been in answer to the rhetorical question, "What color iBook would Batman have?"
We started our video entertainment by watching a pirated copy of Michæl Moore's latest movie Sicko, which hadn't even been released to movie theatres yet. Talk about entertainment in the future! (I'd downloaded it using BitTorrent a week ago.) Sicko had a couple dull parts, but it otherwise laid out a perfect case for a single-payer socialist fix for the broken American medical system. Moore's idea of taking the abandoned 9/11 first responders first to Guantanamo and then to Cuba itself was pure genius.
Next John tried to have us watch A Scanner, Darkly, but I found it unwatchable, and not just because of the cartoonified live action video style. There was also a lot of dialogue, much of which I found more irritating than interesting. John loves the movie, as do many other intelligent people, so perhaps this just means that I am an idiot.
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