sopping scrap of newsprint
Friday, December 22 2000
There's something about the song "Cortez the Killer" by Neil Young (actually, I'm listening to a nearly identical cover by Built to Spill) that reminds me of how existentially tiny we as individual human beings are in the grandness of the Universe. "...offered life in sacrifice so others could go on" Neil sang of the Aztecs, making it seem, when viewed from a great enough distance, as if their individual life forces propelled them to behave in a manner not altogether different from ants. The same is true of the line "They carried them to the flat land, but they died along the way." With an entirely different metaphor, with an entirely different point to make, Neil Young has managed to sum up the antlike qualities of human societal behavior better than in any other place in rock and roll. Perhaps that's not saying much, but it's notable nonetheless.
Later in the day one of the guys at work was cranking a surprisingly listenable set of classic rock and I realized that Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" pretty much consolidates all of recent world history into something resembling the meaningless swarming of ants. Was Billy Joel still snorting cocaine when he wrote that tune? My housemate John insists that all of Billy Joel's finest work was done when he was using lots of cocaine (but not yet sleeping with supermodels). Every time we see Billy Joel on one of those VH1 Behind the Music Specials John gets all excited and points at Billy's chubby, unremarkable face and squeals, "Can you believe that fucked Christie Brinkley?"
I've been fretting of late about the lack of a formal mechanism for putting SQL code live on the UK site, so I've been investigating how to perform automated DBA-type work from the web. The big accomplishment of today was a mock Query Analyzer that works entirely within web pages, allowing me to do ad hoc queries from any web browser. It packs a powerful punch for less than 200 lines of code; its functionality is actually a little like the Query Analyzer for Microsoft SQL 2000 because I even included an object browser. And before anyone gets any ideas, yes, it's secure.
Just as I was returning to work from a late lunch, I noticed that a leak in the second floor of my building (one that had just started an hour before) had widened dramatically and was pouring in a sort of Niagara off the upstairs walkway down into the downstairs patio. The leak was also indoors, inundating the cubicles back by the poor suckers who code microsites for numbskull contests and promotions. When the power was ordered shut off on our floor, it was effectively the beginning of the long Christmas weekend. I told my contractors they could split, and then I did the same myself. I decided to drop in on Bathtubgirl to install a Linksys router I'd ordered for her. It was a sunny afternoon, but the air was cold and clammy and I was glad I'd added a sweater layer during lunch.
Bathtubgirl was in the middle of a webcast when I arrived. This guy named Dave Waterman was there wrapped in a towel and his segment involved reading weird and crazy news spontaneously emailed in by someone known only as "the Mad Faxer." I was impressed; Dave did an excellent, radio-friendly job which, though comic, added a certain gravity impossible to achieve with nearly-naked chicks dancing in puddles of lukewarm colored water.
For whatever reason, everything is more difficult and error-prone at Bathtubgirl Central. The Linksys router, which I installed without incident on my home network, refused to work reliably on Bathtubgirl's network. It would make a PPP connection which would last about a minute and then drop away never to return until the router was rebooted. I didn't know what was going on; I thought maybe I could configure the problem away but this just wasn't possible.
As I struggled, Bathtubgirl kept needling me with unnecessary questions that I didn't feel like taking the time to answer. When, for example, I randomly turned on the DMZ host option, she saw me do it and angrily demanded to know why I was "exposing" her to the internet. (The text with this option reads, "This feature sets a local user to be exposed to the Internet. Any user on the Internet can access in/out data from the DMZ host. Enable the feature as you wish to use special-purpose service.") I tried to explain that before she had a router, she had always been exposed to the internet, and that you have to be exposed to the internet on some level if you want to be able to do anything useful with the freaking thing. My tongue and throat were sore and rapidly getting worse as my aggravation level escalated. But she was utterly unrelenting, demanding to know "what all this IP Address stuff is about." Mind you, actually trying to explain things did no good either, because she'd cut me off in mid-explanation (she didn't really want to know, see) and ask some other question. Can you imagine what it's like to have a sore throat and be given the task of explaining Fast Fourier Transforms to a four year old with ADD? That was my torture.
It was an enormous relief when I finally allowed myself to concede that the router must be defective. I put Bathtubgirl's network back together as it had originally been, ate some pizza she'd ordered, drank some beers I'd picked up, kicked back and relaxed. The tension lifted and Bathtubgirl seemed happy again. "Why can't you be my brother?" she asked.
At 10 PM Dave Waterman and Eva emerged from Eva's basement nest of seduction in time to help with another show. This one was supposed to feature the sultry Spanish Omelette, Dirtygirl, reading original horoscopes. But Dirtygirl has a new boyfriend who happens to be a friend of Tommy Lee of Motley Crue (the boyfriend even has Tommy Lee-style facial hair), and she had decided to skip out with the boyfriend and go to Tommy Lee's house to hob nob and party with the silicone celebrity people. So Bathtubgirl was forced to read the horoscopes herself. These weren't even original horoscopes, but I think it added enormously to the comedic aspect of the readings that, as she performed them, Bathtubgirl held a sopping scrap of newsprint ripped from the LA Weekly. She grumbled a little about Dirtygirl's absence but she couldn't justify complaining too much; it's not like Dirtygirl is paid anything to perform her shows. And I'm sure hob-nobbing with washed-up rockstars ranks much higher in LA socializing hierarchy than reading horoscopes in a lukewarm puddle of colored water. But she ignores the nascent popularity of Bathtubgirl.com at the peril of her own LA success! During every show the emails pour in and are fussed over one after the other to the delight (and stickiness) of fans worldwide. Where else can you send email to a girl in her bathtub and then sit back and watch her respond?
Bathtubgirl has a powerful asset with Eva, the Basque chick who lives in the basement. Given how dedicated Eva is to every multi-tasked nuance of stage production (from music to lights to emails to answering the door), I sure hope she's getting a good discount on her rent.
Those of you who haven't used the Spies.com search function don't know what you're missing. People with sites on Spies (there are several dozen) tend to be one or both of two things: 1. super geeky or 2. completely wacko. This search unearths all kinds of documents, including ones not linked from web pages (there are plenty of those on my site!). Doing a search for "" is particularly entertaining. Give it a try!
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