Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are blogs obsolete?

The question arises, naturally, as I make the choice now to continue these notes on my newly anointed Myspace page.

Haha, George has a Myspace page.  Does that seem like an absurdity?  Perhaps.  But you know, although some people like to imagine that I'm a luddite beyond hope, in truth, I'm more of a luddite with hope.  I don't fear technology (well, some of it I do, as would any sentient being).  But I do fear losing the things that really matter and that give our lives texture and value and meaning.

Anyway, should you be reading this, and should you have read any of my blog so far, and should you, by chance,  have any desire to continue this story...from henceforth you'll find my ruminations at

Blessings to all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Morse Key and Telegrapher's Paralysis

We think that getting Repetitive Strain Injury from using a mouse all day is a new thing.  Maybe not so.

Mid last century,  there was an affliction known as Telegrapher's Paralysis (also known as Glass Arm).  Like RSI, it was common among telegraph key operators who would frequently be called on to transmit up to 20 words per minute by rapidly pressing the Morse key.

I guess the term "Telegrapher's Paralysis" is obsolete, though it might perhaps be argued that the ailment is not, it's merely caused by a different technology.

In any case, there can be no doubt that morse key and telegraphy is obsolete.  And I don't know about you, but I think it's rather sad that kids today will never know the thrill of receiving a telegram, except by watching old movies.  

My favorite telegram scene is probably in It's a Wonderful Life, right at the end when Sam Wainwright cables to tell George Bailey that he'll cover him the money he needs.  

Would it be the same if it was read from an email?

I doubt it...for a start, you'd lose the "stops" (if you get what I mean), as well as the sense of important urgency.

I mean that was the thing about a telegram - they were only sent at momentous occasions in people's lives: births, deaths, and (in George Bailey's case) bail-outs.  In these days of Twitter it seems we constantly telegraph each other such trivia (hey, I'm watching a TV show!  Eating cornflakes for breakfast!), that the truly important moments are lost in the mix.  If we highlight every word on a page, how will we know which ones really matter?

And I guess that's what a telegram did.  Highlighted the moment - and every word counted.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a movie about me?

A very strange thing just happened to me today.

I was working, as per usual, at the library, and a woman started telling me about her laptop and how though it was only four years old, it had become obsolete.  She was disgusted about this, angry even, and somehow I ended up telling her about my encyclopedia.

Too sympathetically perhaps because then I discovered:

She's a writer, a kind of strange lady...from Scotland, of all places.  And she now wants to write a movie about me.

Is it a good idea for me to co-operate?  I honestly do not know.  On one hand, it may help my Obselidic endeavour.  I'm sure it would.   As they say, no publicity is bad publicity.  But I feel wary.    I have a feeling she's of the "don't let the truth get in the way of a good story" field of film-making.   Though you know...maybe in this case that would be a good thing.   

After all, what is the blockbuster to date?  A man rants, never raves; he catalogues, writes, collects, and dreams.  It's not exactly popcorn dark knight hoo-ha heaven.  Just day to day life...a sequence of events with no beginning, no middle, no hero and no end.  

Welcome to my life, Diane, my real life.  One may think it romantic, a last stand against the disappearance of everything we think matters.  But it's not.  It's just what I have to do.  Like opening a tin of tuna for my cat.  Not good or bad, not interesting or dull, just what it is.

And if you want to make a movie out of this??  

Good luck.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Protein Called Love

I've been thinking about this a lot recently.  What are feelings?  Can feelings become obsolete?

I know, we're launching into the realm of metaphysical esoterica, but consider it for a moment.  

There is a theory that love is merely an illusionary state, created by an increase in certain proteins in the body, in order to encourage the procreation of the species.  It's like your body creates a mental trance with these proteins so that you won't listen to logic and reason - at least not until the propagation is done.  Then the proteins decrease, and it's "see you in the divorce court".

Given that hypothesis, wouldn't it then be fair to say that if physical contact is no longer necessary for procreation - well, isn't then love obsolete?

Of course, saying love is obsolete would suggest that "love" even existed in the first place,  when in truth what we've been talking about when we say "love" is actually a protein.  So to be precise: the protein called love, that's what's obsolete.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the kindness of strangers

Since I started this project, something that has amazed me is how much people are willing to help.  Everyday, I phone up all kinds of folk - record store owners, typists, watchmakers, photo-developers - and ask them if I could interview them for the Obselidia.

And unbelievably, they (9 times out of 10) say yes.

I don't know if it's motivated by the desire to help me, or if it's because they too want their work recorded before it's gone.  Maybe it's because no one has ever asked them what they have spent many years of their adult lives engaged in (sometimes not even their own spouse) and they're happy to have the chance to share.

In any case, right here, right now, I just want to thank everyone who's helped me so far.  We're recording the world as it disappears, and I believe future generations will be grateful for this history.

And thanks especially to Sophie, the cinema projectionist, who has promised to share all the secrets of that world with me tomorrow night.

The kindness of strangers is a wondrous thing.  May it never be obsolete...

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Cinema Projectionist

I went to the movies this past weekend to see Elegy, and the beginning of the first reel was a little out of focus.  The audience mumbled and grumbled and then started calling out to the projectionist - who quickly fixed his error.

This got me thinking about cinema projectionists.  They're not obsolete - not yet, but I guess their days are truly numbered.

I remember watching a movie by Hungarian art master Bela Tarr and half way through this epic black and white opus about a whale and an insane asylum the projectionist accidentally (I assume, though I wondered if it was deliberate sabotage) played the wrong reel.  It wasn't the wrong reel from the right movie - it was something completely different, psychedelic technicolor, a beach, a family.  I have no idea what it was, but it woke up every sleeping member of the audience, that's for sure.

I've always like the idea that there's someone up there, lovingly playing the movie to the audience, making sure they see the movie they've paid to see in the best possible light.  And never getting any thanks or recognition for it.

So I guess, I want to thank them now.  For all their work.  They won't be forgotten.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lonesome George

I just found out - George may not be as lonesome as was previously thought.

Believed to be the last of his species (the Pinta Island Tortoise, subspecies Geochelone nigra abingdoni) - it is now thought that George is going to be a Dad!  The mother is of a different subspecies and it won't be known for a few more months whether the eggs are viable or not...but what hope this gives my heart.

Even if the eggs aren't viable, I'm just happy to know he's not all alone.  It can't be easy being the last of your species (trust me, as an ex-door-to-door salesman of encyclopedias I have some idea...), so to know there is some sympathetic creature there, giving him company, it means a lot to me.

Though maybe, I'll have to find a new blogger's name for myself.  Daddy George just wouldn't fit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

so little time

I haven't written for a long time.

Believe me, I know it's not important.  I'm writing to an empty space.  I'm aware of that.  No one's listening.  So I'll just say what I want to say and be done with it.

I'm curious about time and intention.

When I started this blog, I thought I'd write an entry every day.  Easy I thought, 10-15 minutes a day.  And now six months have passed and I haven't written a word.

The good news is: I've been working a lot on the real Obselidia and it's coming along nicely.  You wouldn't believe some of the people I've met and things that I've discovered.  My theory that the list of what WAS is greater than the list of what IS seems to be true.  Which of course means that my undertaking was far greater than I first imagined.  So I've kind of narrowed it down, and I've broken it down to sub-headings of obsolete things, so rather than just an A-Z of all items, there are articles on categories of things that become obsolete (ie. AUDIO TECHNOLOGY is one, OCCUPATIONS is another).  As ever, just on the off chance that someone is actually reading this, all suggestions are as welcome as ever.

So now I'm returning to this blog in a different spirit, it's true spirit, a place just to share what's on my mind, when I have time to share it.  Even if I'm just sharing it with myself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Game & Watch

Does anyone else remember these?

I was probably eleven years old when I got my first one (Fire, should you ask), and it seemed like the coolest thing on earth.

After that I got Vermin, and later the mighty Donkey Kong.

I remember that my dad went from thinking it was great (it kept me quiet) to terrible (I never wanted to do anything else).  Not that different from kids with their x-boxes today.

These are obsolete because now no one would carry around a console that only allowed them to play a single game - never mind a single game with such simple graphics and rules!  All you can actually do is move the guys with saving sheet to the left or the right.  

Simple games, single games.  Obsolete.  These will definitely get an entry in the Obselidia.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Before they disappear

Why a blog?  I've been asking myself this question for the last couple of weeks.  The Obselidia  is such a mammoth undertaking, far bigger than I had first imagined - and it consumes much of my time.   I've realized a large part of my job with it is to record things before they disappear.  Why wait until it's gone and write about it in retrospect, when you can catalogue the last of the species, so to speak? 

So, much of my time is spent tracking down things (particularly people) and getting to know what they do, before it's forgotten.

It' s not always easy, what I'm doing.  And I guess that's why I decided to start this blog.  Besides from my neighbor Mitch, I don't see too many people, and maybe I just wanted a place where I could sound off about whatever is going on.

Just reflect on this task that I have undertaken, share the highs and lows.  

Before they disappear.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

R.I.P. Eduardo Gonzales

You may have noticed that this is my first blog post in a couple of weeks.  I didn't mean to abandon this, just circumstances arose and writing felt beyond the realm of possibility.

You see, my old man passed away two days before Christmas.  It wasn't entirely a surprise - he'd had two heart attacks earlier in the year, but still...

Perhaps it's no coincidence that I started this project when I did.

My Dad was the last of his kind: a real gentleman, full of manners and style.  He was born in Mexico City to a Polish Jewish mother and a Mexican shoemaker who relocated to Los Angeles when he was still a baby.   Perhaps because of his immigrant heritage, and perhaps because of his nature, he was hard-working and always eager to prove himself, but equally he was drawn to glamour and pizzazz.

He worked, as much as he could, as a piano player.  He had some success in the fifties and sixties, playing with a studio band, and even wrote a couple of numbers that you might recognize.  It was the royalties from these that kept him going when in later years, he just didn't get the gigs.

In his last years, he suffered from ill-health that wore down his spirit.  He would frequently say there was nothing left for him in this world except the grave.  I know the feeling, and I've lived only half the time he did.

He loved jazz, he loved a good taco, he loved beautiful women.  He always dressed well.  

Sometimes I wondered how he wound up with a son like me.  I know he did too...

Dad, I'm going to miss you.