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Big Words Newsletter Bonus! ‘Why It’s A Good Idea Not To Taunt Your Cuisinart’

June 15, 2007

As promised, here’s a bonus essay from the next book (Slapstick & Superego).  If you’re not on the free bi-monthly newsletter list and you’d like to be, drop me a line at: bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com with ‘subscribe’ in the subject heading.  Enjoy!

Somebody get Stephen Hawking into a tech support van and put him on retainer, because the bulk of my belongings have officially become a lot smarter than I will ever be. After a well publicized and notorious longtime love affair with technology, I’ve tapped out what little intelligence I have left. Charlie and I hit the ceiling with the glass elevator last night and he was crippled in the maintenance shaft on the way down, breaking both legs, that goofy hat and his sternum. I’ve survived to tell the tale but my brain will never be the same again. I have been bested. We all live in a technophile’s cocoon that’s been spreading out since online bulletin boards transmogrified into the all encompassing internet and mix tapes went the way of the dodo to make way for ipod set lists to the tune of 30 gigs of ram. Something has died inside of me and I’ve reached a recidivist state of learning not unlike a Kelly Bundy state of total brain saturation. I refuse to learn anything more about technology because there’s just no room left in the left wing of my brain. It’s on dump out mode, and the synapses are hanging on tight to my universal tv remote programming instructions.

Now I am not a dumb man. I’ve read my thesaurus back and forth, I’ve read many great works of literature, and I’ve been devouring pop culture with an insatiable appetite for quite some time now. As far as gadgets and gizmos go, I am pro gadget and pro gizmo. On the campaign ticket, I strongly supported the gadget/gizmo bill of ’04, and make sure you pronounce ’04 as ’aught four’ in this case. But they’ve been doing their homework. Electronics keep getting better and more complex and it’s reached a point where I would have to take a weekend seminar at the Hilton to catch up. I just can’t do it anymore. I give up. They’re better than me and they’re too goddamned complicated. I have a fleet of remote controls on my coffee table and I don’t have a full grasp on how to operate any of them.

It all started two years ago when I got this computer (shhh! Keep your voice down, it could be listening!). I bought it like most men with more functions than I could ever possibly need as a means for touting the length and width of my personal computer penis, shaming others into a sad, shrunken condition in the worldwide web of a shower room we all share. Nobody needs this much computer, but that was the point. I’m not a fan of dropping three thousand dollars every two years, so I wanted to do it once this decade and be done with it. This computer has changed my life for the better, and I spend inordinate amounts of time accomplishing a great deal of things at a faster rate than my crash happy Mac from the last incarnation. Plus there’s the porn, of which much has been written. Like every other clown racing after the bandwagon shouting ‘Wait up! I’m ready now! Don’t leave me behind!’, I hopped on to the personal blog platform and rode it on to victory. Nothing is simple anymore. HTML stands for H.ow T.o M.ake L.osers (filthy rich). I tried in vain to spruce up my site and limped away from my computer feeling much stupider than I’ve felt in a long time. Lindsay took a college course on HTML and whipped up the changes in the time it took me to scratch my head like a baboon and fling my fecal matter at the wall behind the pc.

Some sites have been dumbed down considerably, but you still need a rudimentary understanding of computers to navigate them. It’s all lost on me. Fourteen year olds have MySpace profiles now that have better cg and production values than James Cameron’s Titanic, looking forty times better than clunky prototype web pages from 1992. Twelve year-olds are posting their debut movie efforts on YouTube. I spent three hours last Sunday trying to register an account with YouTube and ended up crying into a pint of mint chocolate chip iced cream. Like Algernon, I’m saddened because I’ve come to a full realization that I’ve reached my intellectual peak where this realm is concerned. Things will continue to progress and I will continue to lose touch with how to run them. In another ten years, I’ll be calling ‘the guy’ over to hook up my microwave oven with smart technology like a million other pampered yentas.

I’ve managed to catch five viruses in the last year and a half and should probably consider myself lucky. What a fool I was for thinking that purchasing virus protection would keep my computer free from viruses! Installing just one virus program is like peeling on one condom for a night in a motel with Pam Anderson. Its best to have two dozen virus protectors littering your desk top, and you should make a point of installing one new virus protector a week. You should also by the monthly virus protector protector updates to make sure that you have the latest protection for your eight hundred virus protection software devices. That industry is criminal. A friend of mine once hypothesized that virus protection companies unleash these unholy worms and Trojan horses on the net so that they can sell more software and I thought he was crazy. It actually makes a lot of sense now.

I got a nasty bug this week and we had to call in Lindsay’s brother to assess the damage. He spent two hours futzing around with my computer’s innards and at the end of the day he’d installed another virus protector. He’s been going to school for computer programming for two years. I should have charged him two years tuition and handed him an easy set up guide for installing your new virus protection device. I need a protection device to keep me from taking a fucking sledgehammer to my computer monitor because I shouldn’t have ANY issues after dropping three grand on a personal computer. I should be able to download multiple camera angled fisting amputee hermaphrodite golden shower porn with no firewall, unsecure web sites and a baker’s dozen full of cookies without batting a goddamned eye. The entire industry is more crooked than a State Senate cookout, and we’re too stupid to change it because we’ve become too reliant on it.

Last winter, I upgraded my cable package to include HBO for the final season of ‘The Sopranos’. They threw in a DVR with On Demand for a special three month promotion. Three month promotions with cable companies are the subscriber equivalent to taking a nice girl out to dinner and a movie before you rape her in the ass out in a deserted cornfield with a rusty flag pole. They treat you nice and then completely defile you. The guy came over, hooked it up and I will never be the same again. The luxury of being able to record five hour blocks of ’Desperate Housewives’ to watch on days off when there are no witnesses and by extension no shame or embarrassment cannot be assigned to a cash value. Time Warner cable assigned it a cash value up to and including a hundred and thirty dollars a month including taxes, fees and ‘we‘re the only company in town, so you‘re fucked‘ processing funds. In three short months, I’ve watched every season of every HBO original series ever conceived, created or aired. On Demand programming is my new passion, and it has replaced any intrinsic need to better myself ever again.

Two months ago, I was feeling good about myself and I waltzed in to an electronics chain and bought the ultimate HDTV rig on a whim. I’d been fighting the urge for over two years and snapped in dramatic fashion, going overboard in over-reactive excess and picking up a fifty inch LCD rear projection with a home theater system and an entertainment center spun from tempered glass. It took me three weeks to recite that last line and I’m all tapped out. The kid who sold it to me rattled off a list of features and benefits that I can neither utilize nor comprehend. I had little to no known issues with getting the tv out of the box and plugging it into the wall, but after that, it was all greek to me.

The back of the set had more inputs than Jenna Jamison and the receiver for the home theater is a new exercise in ignorance for me. I bribed one of my co-workers to come over and figure it out for me. I deferred to a higher power, admitted my powerlessness, and sat on the couch like a drooling idiot waiting for the picture box to start running my stories so that I could be told what to think and be pacified. I sucked my thumb in the fetal position rocking back and forth for two hours while he fluttered around behind this gigantic tube hooking up coaxial, input and audio wire in perfect harmony like some Faustian switchboard operator, effortlessly and purposefully. Something died inside of me that day, but now I’ve got my own home movie theater and there’s no logical reason to leave the house, exercise, or step away from the couch.

And now the next generation of game consoles has arrived, and they’ve taken a quantum leap in terms of functionality. Luckily I hooked them up coasting on what little instinct I have left in these matters. The contradiction with the new Nintendo system hinges on the fact that it optimizes the latest advancements in 1080 HD resolution and WiFi compatibility for the sake of playing games in their original 8 bit state. To date, I’ve spent over five hundred dollars to play Super Mario Bros., a game I played when I was 13. Nintendo is the devil. They continue to convince me into buying the same games over and over and over again. Being the last man on the planet to jump on board for online gaming, I went to a local superstore chain last night and purchased a wireless router. I didn’t even try. I dropped my balls into a desk drawer to be forgotten and asked the wife to hook it up for me because she has slightly more patience in these matters.

The salesman was quoted as saying that installation would be ‘a cinch’ and the box description for this new breed of anguish boasted ‘easy ten minute installation!’. Hopping into a time machine and finding a quantum physicist from the future savvy enough to hook up this infernal goddamned box would have taken at least twelve minutes, so I’m filing a class action suit. Lindsay spent two hours, any number of loud, colorful curse words, a half an hour on the phone with her computer gifted brother, and another half hour working the phone menu and talking to tech support and none of them had a good answer. The tech support team opened a ticket and would research the issue and email us back. They didn’t even know how to hook up their own goddamned device, so how can we be expected to?

We’ve officially invented contraptions that are not only smarter than us, but so complex that they are nearly impossible to install, operate, or understand. I’m firmly convinced that home theater receivers, computers, routers, and web design are set up so that only the top ten percentile of the world’s finest think tanks are capable of understanding them. This is a boon for the industry, as we’re getting used to paying someone to turn on our televisions and plug in our computers. It’s gotten too troublesome and it reinforces my ignorance. I’ve thrown in the towel. I don’t even want to approach trying to learn how to do it anymore. The progression of electronics in the last twenty years is staggering and humbling. In 1980, electronic handheld football ushered in the new era of interactive entertainment. Five years from now some fat, scruffy technician with a hereditary five inch asscrack showing will fire a chip the size of a fingernail clipping into the back of my medulla so that I can watch the latest hologram viewing of the six o’clock news and purchase Super Mario Bros. for a record 314th time for immediate play via Nintendo’s Stream Of Consciousness technology.

And I will be the last man on earth to buy or use a cell phone or Ipod. They’re both worthless. If I wanted to talk to people I wouldn’t have this much technology growing in my apartment. I barely use my home phone and screening my calls because I can’t be bothered to get up and walk over to the portable phone gathering dust on the base drives my friends crazy to no end. And what is the deal with these swiss army knife phones? I like having multiple toys so don’t try and shill me on a cell phone that takes pictures, employs text messages, stores music, streams weather and sports forecasts and changes your shorts for you when you soil them? Nobody needs that much functionality in a goddamned cell phone. Furthermore, I’m just now getting in to the joy of making mix cds. I’m a fan of buying a cd once and enjoying that, not buying the cd, buying individual songs for my hard drive, and buying song lists from web sites. I change my mind on eighteen track mix cds, so what makes you think that I have the time or patience to port 800 songs onto a hand held device for my listening pleasure? I’m the market you’re not getting to so leave me the hell alone.

I truly believe that SkyNet will go live in my lifetime. Our artificial intelligence is building up to it, so start googling John Connor right now because if we wait for tech support to do a troubleshoot on the T-4000, Schwarzenegger is going to be throttling my ass into a vat of touch-screen fryer grease in my kitchen. Everything in my house is smarter than me. My gadgets and gizmos are laughing at me when I’m not looking and cracking jokes at my expense while I sleep. Be nice to your cuisinart because some day it’s going to sprout legs and join in the uprising. That R.O.B. the robot in your attic is going to come downstairs with a meat cleaver and back you up against a television set that uses your cerebral fluid for HDMI reception. Game over, man! Game over.

The devil you don’t know bills at sixty dollars an hour,

Tom ’easy installation’ Waters

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