Sunday, August 16, 2015

Remembering a Fallen Nemesis: The Columbia House Record Club

Welp, the time has come to bid farewell to another great institution of the lost American cultural landscape.

Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to the Columbia House Record Club.

Actually, Columbia House Record Club ceased to exist ten years ago, when it merged with BMG. And they stopped selling mail-order music in 2009, so the ‘Record’ part of the club has been gone for some six years now.

Still, the announcement earlier this month made me wistful.

How I wish I could go back to a time when I could buy my record albums through the mail. You know, wait for one of those bimonthly club catalogs to come, make my selection, buy a stamp, send the order back, and then pay fifteen bucks for the privilege of waiting three weeks for the record to arrive. So much better than the way things are now, when you have to go online, choose your album from Amazon, pay for it with one click, and listen to it now.

Actually, I learned a lot from The Columbia House Record Club. A lot about business. A lot about life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Repaying the Debt #4: David Letterman

So tomorrow is David Letterman’s last show. It’s a remarkable thing. Some call it the end of an era. For me, the era of which Dave was part has been over for awhile now. But then again, I don’t even feel like I’m a part of the era in which I find myself.

I first met Dave sometime in 1984. I was fifteen or so, and I had recently talked my parents into letting me have a TV in my room under the pretext that I needed one for my TI-994A (if you don’t know what that is, google it). The TV was a little 13” black and white job. Offbrand, of course. Paid for it with my paper route money, or maybe I had started working at Lionel Playworld by then. The thing was, I was only supposed to use the TV as a monitor. And for the most part, I abided by my parents’ wishes. But late one night, I dared to turn it on. In the course of flipping through the six or seven available channels, I suddenly found myself confronted by the image of a pudgy, bespectacled man. His odd, distorted face completely filled the screen. I don’t remember what he was doing, or why he was so close to the camera. It didn’t matter. All I knew was that on my television was a man who looked like a Gary Larson cartoon come to life. It’s all I needed to see. I was hooked.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Brain Drool

Work continues apace on the novel (that pace being glacial (and not of the global warming variety, but of the older, proverbial kind)). In addition to consuming vast quantities of time, it is also absorbing nearly all my mental energy (you try drinking orange juice in your coffee instead of milk!). All I have room for anymore are the occasional oddball thoughts that will manifest in my brain, and then melt away through the voluminous gaps (the human brain is, after all, 90% air*). For some reason, today I have a few still clinging to my gray matter. I'm going to share them, if only so I can clear space for still more thoughts on Greek mythology, the many intractable problems of narrative writing, and how many ways I can come up with to describe rocks.

Parenthood: that glorious state of existence where the days pass like weeks, and the years pass like months.

Conventional wisdom isn't just an oxymoron; it's an impossibility.

Does this happen to anyone else? Listening to John Lennon's Imagine, and he sings the line: Imagine all the people/Livin' for today... I always have the same reaction. What is he thinking? Six billion people living for today? That's my definition of a nightmare. Knowing that we all have to come back again tomorrow is the only thing that keeps the social order going. Without it, we'd have sheer chaos. I think I must be missing the point...

* I have no idea if that is true.