Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").
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blumpkins and other memes
Sunday, May 19 2013
Our friends Eva and Sandor came over for another of Gretchen's meals at around lunchtime. It was a bowtie pasta salad, unexpectedly delicious serving of plum scones, and a barley-and-lentil thing that tasted better than it looked due to the presence of sunflower seeds. Our guests had brought a bottle of vinho verde, which Gretchen mixed with fruit juice to make a sort of summery cocktail. But the weather was rainy and cold and not summery at all. Indeed, I ran a fire in the woodstove just to take the chill out of the living room. Hopefully this will be the last fire I'll have to make for the purpose of generating heat until October.
Over lunch, Eva told us the story of how the roofing contractors (for her Woodstock house) had left her door unlocked and swinging in the wind and then either stole three of her bottles of booze (including a $75 bottle of whiskey) or made her house available to a booze thief. The upshot of the story is that Five Star Roofing is not your best roofing option in the greater Woodstock, New York area. It's not even that their work is bad, it's the having to remember to hide your liquor that sucks.
In the early afternoon during a one or two hour period of non-socializing, I took a 120 milligram dose of pseudoephedrine to make the socializing to come easier. It was my third day of caffeine abstinence and I could feel a little discomfort and lethargy sneaking up on me. (By the way, anyone who things pseudoephedrine tablets contain caffeine is wrong; the whole point of pseudoephrine in my life is that it is a non-caffeine stimulant that I can easily buy.)
At around four, Gretchen and I drove out to Deborah's house in the greater Olive Bridge area. She has actually been living there for months, having moved there early this past autumn, but I'd never actually been to it. It's actually not all that far from the place she had been living in before, a place she'd had to move out of due to problems with mold. (And before that, she'd had to flee her house in Saugerties after it was flooded by Hurricane Irene.)
The occasion was a belated thank you dinner for all the people who had helped her move, thoug some of us (such as myself) hadn't actually participated in this particular move. Deborah had bought wine and some Hurricane Kitty beers, made some fake cheeses, a big pot of chili, and some polenta. Guests included Nancy, KMOCA Michæl and his wife Carrie, and BRAWL hostess Jacinta and her hubby Michæl.
Deborah's house is a smallish building made of concrete blocks, though it has none of the basement vibe one might expect. It's a cheerful space with lots of windows and a gas stove that looks like a vintage woodstove. In the back is a fenced-in yard for her dog Allou. In the front of the house is a bizarrely-tiled patio area surrounded by turquois railings; it looks like a parking area for a landspeeder on the Planet Tattooine. Deborah says her house used to be a bomb shelter.
Unfortunately, due to the small space and raininess outdoors, we'd been told not to bring our dogs, though Alou and Carrie & Michæl's dog Penny were present. Deborah had recently decided that Allou needed some training, so as we arrived, she told us to ignore him and proceed past him without even giving him eye contact. She had him on a leash and squealed and moaned because he so badly wanted to run over and love on us. But evidently there have been a few occasions where he has suddenly turned weird and lashed out, and Deborah was trying to instill some subtlety into his behavior. Eventually she let him off the leash and he was mostly okay, though he would occasionally get carried away, in one case licking me in the face and in the other wrestling Gretchen into a more satisfactory humping position. But he only got erections when he was being scolded.
As always with such a collection of funny, imaginative types, the conversation was a rollicking series of jokes, one spinning into another and then sublimating for awhile only to reemerge to be further elaborated. It all got started when Carrie brought up some internet memes the Seed Library guys had recently been talking about. The first was the idea of the "blumpkin," a semi-onomatopoeic word that is also sort of a contraction of "blow" and "dump." It means to suck a gentleman's penis while he is seated on a toilet defecating. Just that reveal was enough for howls of laughter, but once that settled down, we each further elaborated how blumpkins could intersect with our culture. I don't remember all the specifics, but I remember saying at one point that if a movie were to depict a blumpkin, it probably wouldn't earn a rating any worse than R, since nearly everything sexual or defecatory is visually concealed by the act itself.
The second meme required a browser window; Carrie and Jacinta wanted to be sure we all saw a dramatic reading by Michæl Shannon of an insanely bitchy letter sent by a sorority queen to her various sisters. Being a fully-realized thing in itself, there wasn't much any of us could add to that.
At some point we also watched the clip of the couple randomly asked to do karaoke by a teevee host appearing on a pump-mounted flatscreen. It's become viral sensation because the couple prove themselves surprisingly talented. (Being a Darwinist, I have to assume that a lot of these encounters were filmed before one was found that was memeworthy.)
Deborah's landlord walked past the house at one point, and she proceeded to tell us about him, his bitchy wife, and then the various neighbors. Everybody in her neighborhood aspires to live off the grid, and there are bulldozers and makeshift compounds scattered here and there back in the woods and in the fields (though for the most part the landscape is beautiful in a tumbled-down, neglected sort of way). Deborah met one of her neighbors after a deer was injured on the road and had to be euthanized. He came over with a pistol and dispatched the poor thing and now he's the kind of guy who hangs out in your doorway and doesn't know when it's time to leave.
In telling us about some music she'd discovered, Deborah brought up the subject of Bittorrent; evidently she is one of the six or seven people older than 40 in Ulster County who has used this method to get a desired unit of media. This led into a discussion of how the creation of media will continue in a world where everyone uses Bittorrent. Take HBO for example; nobody under 30 has a subscription to HBO, but a lot of people that age watch Game of Thrones. Who is going to pay to produce Game of Thrones after all of us old codgers die off? My favorite solution is to just have a surcharge on internet access that is used to pay producers in proportion to how popular their works are on Bittorrent. "But what about the people who don't use Bittorrent?" somebody asked. "We're in a transitional phase," I explained. "Some people will subsidize the experience for others [until the transition is over]." I then brought up the example of the DVR. Gretchen and I don't watch ads on basic cable, so we're not doing the work to pay for what we see. In effect, our entertainment is being subsidized by people who are too technologically illiterate to install or operate a DVR. But some day that segment of the population will shrink to nothing and some other funding model will have to take its place. Product placement is one idea, but how does that work in a medieval fantasy like Game of Thrones?
Since Deborah's party started early, we were back home before it was completely dark. Using Bittorrent like five or six other people older than 40 in Ulster County, I downloaded the latest episode of Game of Thrones shortly after the broadcast concluded and watched it immediately. Thanks, suckers with an HBO subscription!
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