10/15 -- Vacation, All I Ever Wanted.
Da Lips Lamp

So. How the hell are you?

I have to admit that I have no idea what to write about here, though I'm sure that won't stop me from filling the page up with my special brand of self-indulgent babble.

We've been on vacation for the last week, although we've been limited to day trips thanks to the necessity of having to give Rascal two daily insulin shots on a tight schedule. (I'm not complaining, mind you. I'll take him over a vacation trip any day.) He's doing better than he was during the last entry, but not quite as well as we might have hoped.

Last Wednesday we went to Dave and Buster's, a gigantic restaurant, bar, and arcade. If you'd asked my 13-year-old self what Heaven was like, I imagine my answer would have been "A lot like Dave and Buster's."

I learned two things about myself that day: I could get seriously addicted to gambling if I had more opportunity to do so, and I officially Don't Get the video games of today. I found myself sticking to the video poker and Tic Tac Toe games that held the promise of spitting out little prize tickets you could use at the arcade's prize counter in the back. Of course, you needed thousands of prize tickets to get anything that wasn't totally crappy and cheesy. But we managed to snag the "Lips" lamp seen above and one of those little kinetic sculpture things that's weirdly hypnotic once you get it swinging, so we wound up pleased with our day's haul.

As for the video games, bah. I know I'm supposed to be amazed and impressed at how realistic and detailed they all are, but you know what? If you need a telephone-book sized instruction manual to figure out how to play the goddamn things, I don't see what's supposed to be so fun. It's one thing on the home computer when you've got all the time in the world and don't have to worry about wasting quarters, but these big movie-sized deals with 100 different buttons and switches and triggers and levers and pedals and geegaws you have to figure out in order to last more than 15 seconds? Pfui. Too much effort, too little return.

Give me the stuff I played in the 80s. Give me Ms. Pac-Man. Give me Centipede. Give me Donkey Kong. Give me Galaga. Give me Asteroids. Yeah, their graphics were lame by comparison. But you didn't need four years of military training to figure out the stupid controls. "Here's the joystick. Here's the trackball. Here's the 'Fire' button. Go nuts." They were simple, and simplicity rules.

We restored balance to our universe this weekend by using Bill's state-of-the-art (give or take a year or two) Sega Dreamcast to play a "20th Anniversary" collection of Atari classics. The stark line art of Tempest and Battlezone never looked so good.

I keep going back and forth between seeking out coverage of the events stemming from 9/11 and wanting to pretend it isn't happening. On Thursday at Borders, I bought a picture book of New York City which has several beautiful shots of the World Trade Center.

I never gave the WTC much thought while the twin towers still stood. I can't even remember if I ever visited, although I must have. We lived in Manhattan until I was six, and I'm pretty sure my parents took out-of-town guests there a few times. I thought the WTC was dull stuff, personally. I was all about the Empire State Building back then -- that was the building King Kong climbed; that was the building where my friends claimed you could drop a penny off the top and kill someone on the sidewalk. That was cool.

But now, while entertainment executives are busily erasing the WTC from movies and TV shows, now that it's gone I want to really look at it for the first time. Of course I didn't need a book for that. The image of the WTC sneaks up on me in lots of places: in the background of the sign for the Wall Street Deli chain. On the cover of one of my 80s music compilations. It always happens when my thoughts are elsewhere; I see it and I flinch. And yet I keep reading exhortations everywhere: "Never forget. Never forget." For Chrissakes, how could I? How could anyone?

We were watching the DVD of "Hannibal" last night when reality intruded again: During one scene, the camera pans over the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" website -- and for no apparent reason lingers for a moment right on the photo of Osama bin Laden. After that, old Dr. Lecter couldn't help but seem pitifully insignificant, a rank amateur at this whole scary killer thing. So he likes to eat a few people here and there -- nobody's perfect, and that Krendler asshole had it coming anyhow. Call me when Hannibal murders thousands of people in one morning, and then I'll be afraid.

I don't know why I bought the DVD, honestly. I detested the book, but something about the lure of seeing Anthony Hopkins reprise Lecter made me give in and get the film. The movie did its level best to make a workable story out of that dreadful mess of a book and succeeded for a time, but the ending ruined it again. Even for someone like me who worshipped at the Church of Tarantino for most of her twenties, the violence towards the ending was just too ugly and too much.

I have to go back to work tomorrow. I'd rather not, but I'm grateful to have a job to return to at this point. Some other day I'll tell you about the round of layoffs that hit The Big Company shortly before I went on vacation, and how completely not reassured I am that those layoffs were the end of it. But not tonight. That'd just be opening up a whole new can of angst.

Post on the forum and I'll be your friend.

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville ...

Main Page