Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   all through the house
Monday, December 24 2001
My family has a tradition of Christmas and Gretchen's has one of Chanukah. Between the two of us, we had two possible ways of dealing with this disconnect: either celebrate both or celebrate neither. Neither of us was going to be stiffed on tradition, even though it wouldn't have bothered me to be so stiffed. So we're celebrating both. Gretchen even made inquiries into the specifics of my Christmas ritual, so I broke it down for her. There's a tree, usually cut the day before Christmas from among the native pines across the road, and there are stockings and they're stuffed with goodies by mother. Often there's a dead bird served for dinner. It's about as secular as Christmas comes, and about as ritualistic as my family can manage. Gretchen wasn't willing to have a Christmas tree in our brownstone, but she had an alternative solution (more on that tomorrow).
Meanwhile, I had some Christmas gifts I needed to buy. When I finally got out of bed sometime this afternoon (oh, the unsung joys of depleted serotonin!), I caught the subway into Manhattan and then uptown to the 72nd Street stop in the Upper West Side. From there I plied all the shops, even the monopolistic megastores we hate, in search of the Hedwig and the Angry Inch DVD. My old housemate John had told me he has a copy, and I figured that if anyone should have a copy, it really ought to be Gretchen.
But I couldn't find that damn DVD anywhere. In the Barnes & Noble, I was amused to notice that, though the rest of the store was a frenzy of postponed consumer activity, the massive computer book section was completely devoid of life, save for the lone staffer. There are several possible explanations:

  1. No one is interested in computers anymore.
  2. Geeks know better than to ask for computer books for Christmas.
  3. Geeks don't have anyone close enough in their lives to give them Christmas presents.
  4. Geeks know better than to give their girlfriends computer books for Christmas.

Gretchen and I had made plans to rendezvous at the Burritoville at 72nd and Broadway, and as I was heading in that direction, I suddenly saw her right there on the street. She wasn't looking at me at all, she was talking intently into her cell phone at the time, talking to one of her old Oberlin friends who happened to be in town. This friend was directly across Amsterdam at the time, talking on her cell phone. The two had just realized their proximity and made eye contact. What a rare convergence: all three of on the same intersection of the Upper West Side at exactly the same moment! All three of us went together into the Burritoville, although Gretchen's friend did not partake in the eating of burritos. It was an especially small Burritoville, dominated by single television playing an action adventure movie ripping off Indian Jones.
For Gretchen and me, the main plan for the evening was to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at a nearby Jewish cultural center called Makor. Hedwig, it seems, has passed its prime as a contemporary film and now is touring the "cultural center circuit." It's a new injection of joy for Gretchen, who'd been missing Hedwig in the theatre but had been unable to get in any other form. One can call the time between a film's theatre run and its release to video the "blackout phase" in its life cycle. When you really love a movie, as Gretchen does Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the blackout phase is difficult period.
This was to be my third Hedwig viewing, but it was to be Gretchen's tenth. I figured the movie would go better with alcohol, so I'd picked up a fifth of Iceberg vodka to mix with things. I tried mixing it with Burritoville lemonade, and it was not a good combination.
In the Makor theatre, though, I just drank the stuff straight. But the important thing was the movie. Every time I watch it, the movie is that much better. It's an exquisite piece of craftsmanship on all levels. And it always makes me cry. Then again, it doesn't take much to make me cry these days. I think I have constricted ducts draining my eyes and they well over at the slightest cool breeze or melancholy situation.

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