CD writer - Friday November 27 1998    

Owing to the proximity of Thanksgiving, I had the day off from work, but I was troubled by a few "challenges" at the website and my vacation wasn't proving too restful (even though the worst of these challenges had nothing to do with me).
I wanted to use the car today, so I dropped Kim off at her place of employment, the Victoria Rose in Downtown San Diego. It's a yellow Victorian mansion very near the landing flightpath of airplanes coming in to San Diego International Airport. (Many of the planes leaving this airport fly directly over our house in Ocean Beach, some of them low enough to rattle our windows.)
Kim gave me a brief tour of her working environment: the several little rooms with massage tables, the hot tub, etc. The Victoria Rose is cozy inside, full of ruddy wallpaper, depictions of roses and ornate over-stuffed furniture. Perhaps it's just little too cozy; it kind of had that certain smell that makes little kids breathe through their mouths for the first fifteen minutes of a visit to Granny's house.
I drove to my workplace in Mission Valley to see if anyone was there, hoping I could get in and fix bug in one of my robots that was causing an inappropriate page to load at a high-traffic part of our website. My co-workers tend to be disturbingly over-industrious, and I assumed someone would be there toiling away, but the lights were all off and no one was there. I don't have a key, so I couldn't get in.
The several malls of Mission Valley were crowded with happy shoppers eagerly participating in the crass commercialism that always attends the official start of a Christmas shopping season in good economic times. I'm told that Furby, a robotic pet, is the rage this year. I wonder what it's like to be helpless in the talons of a Christmas toy rage, willing to go to irrational extremes to purchase something that a good fraction of everyone else has. Too bad such tendencies aren't accompanied by a insatiable desire to play Russian Roulette.
Truth be known, I played my part in holiday consumerism as well. I headed further up Mission Valley to the cute cluttered little computer store, the place where I bought my used monitor (still plagued by focus problems, mind you). A few minutes later I emerged with a new toy, the Hewlett Packard 8100 Series CD-Writer. It writes at 4X, it can handle rewritable CDs, and it was only $329 (about what I paid for my C-128's 5.25 inch floppy drive back in 1985). The oriental guy who sold it to me seemed to be making up the price right on the spot; a detail that I found most agreeably chinese. What with my good salary and glowing future, I can now afford such luxuries.
Most of the rest of the day I spent playing with my new toy, trying not create dud CDs with incomplete writes (a spectre that hangs over this particular media). I'm still in the initial carnal stage of product-enjoyment, delighting (for example) in the fact that recordable CDs have such beautiful golden colour on their operative surfaces.
I'm excited about my sudden new data storage and publication potential. Now I can do such things as, I don't know, sell copies of my website or record my own music without having to deal with anyone except potential customers.
In the evening, Kim and I went to Hillcrest on a search for dinner. We ended up in a transplanted English Pub, complete with a genuine British bartender. The poor bloke was terribly overworked, having to go back and cook us dinner when we wanted fish & chips. The other customers were a couple of older alcoholic day regulars, but soon a group of retro-mods showed up. Kim and I sat in a side room that smelled like the inside of a used vacuum cleaner bag. Three pints and two mediocre dinners cost us $30, too much Kim thought.

Later we returned to Hillcrest, going this time to Hillcrest Cinema to spend $15 to watch the latest Woody Allen flick, Celebrity. I found it to be an excellent movie. Despite the unpleasant fact that Woody used to screw his adopted daughter, he really seemed to be talking to me (and my subculture) with this movie. I related to it on so many levels: the constant self-defeating romantic dissatisfaction of the protagonist, the opulent hedonism, and the pretense of gatherings held in the name of art. I also got a kick out of the sly self-referential qualities. Among other things, this was a film about the dreary politics of making films, and there are plenty of hooks for self-reference in such material. I'd also like to say that I was most impressed with Leonardo DeCaprio's ultra-self-referential acting in this film. I haven't seen Titanic, mind you, and I'd just assumed there had to be something fundamentally wrong with Leo for him to be so popular with the teenage girlies.
Celebrity addressed the subject of celebrity from a refreshingly new perspective. The point wasn't the tired old Puritanical view that celebrity ultimately sucks because of how it leads us astray from our life's mission. The focus was more on celebrity's effects on near-celebrity, a fascinating subject that taps into my own personal motives for studying the human condition.

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