Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Etc.--Books vs. Tablets, My Bridal Registry, Fireworks

Recently, I summoned up enough courage to put on a tie, get up before noon, and head into New York City for an in-house editing job. One thing that struck me as I took New Jersey Transit over a few days was the number of people reading from iPads or similar devices.

That's where I had a shuddering realization: I'm starting to hate technology, which means I'm on the edge of plummeting into complete fuddydum. Soon, I'll be complaining about sex on television and how today's music has no pep.

Technology has made me very happy. It allowed me to meet my fiancee (lovely girl, smart as a whip, plays the piano), make my living (look whose blog has sponsorship? Heeyy!), and maintain my apartment at temperature that doesn't make me sweat like Patrick Ewing.

But tablets and deep reading (the definition excludes magazines, newspapers, websites etc.)? It's a purposeless innovation.

I'm all for anything that gets people reading, but are the buyers of iPads, Kindles, et. al. really interested in the activity or are they into the gadget? The same way that buying a pull-up bar isn't going to automatically get you a sculptused body, a tablet isn't going to make you into a reader. That comes from embracing the culture of reading, which involves, well, life. It's having your parents read to you as a child, finding a book that spoke to you during a hard time. It's the thrill in finding that words and sentences have an ineffable magic, a redemptive quality, that means you have to read. It's never a choice.

We spend hours staring at a screen. We watch television, type e-mails, send text messages. It's nice to be able to take a break, slow down, and invest the imagination to entertain ourselves. Putting a book on a tablet puts reading on the same urgent, skimmable level as text messaging. And it's not. We can't forget that reading--intense, escape from the dreariness reading--has a soul. Technology doesn't. You do.

/Written from my iPad

--Went wedding ring shopping with the fiancee the other day. We were looking at rings, when the proprietor (who was helping us shop) commented that my future wife had a nice body.

Three things about this remark:

1.) How unusual it was. It's not like we were shopping for body stockings, unless a nubile figure flatters the ring in some way.

2.) I had no idea how to respond. This was a sweet lady whom I've known for years. "Back off, whore" seemed too aggressive, and "Really?" seemed like an invitation for disaster. Should have gone with my brother's option: raise my hand to the woman and declare, "Up top, bro!"

3.) The fiancee was positively tickled. Sure, she's flattered by a charming old lady's comment, but she screams bloody murder at the dude who made kissy faces at her during a toll stop at the New Jersey Turnpike.

Women, am I right?

--Speaking of marriage, we have a bridal registry. It's very nice, but it's stuff for the house and our life together. The fiancee also gets gifts at the bridal shower. I get nothing, except the joy of lugging gifts home. Thank you, no!

I think men would be a lot more keen on marriage, if there was a registry for them. With that said, let me get the ball rolling. We're registered at Macy's, but guests can also get me any of the following:

*NFL Blitz arcade game
*A pallet of Parmesean and Basil Wheat Thins
*The complete "30 for 30" series on Blu-Ray...and a Blu-Ray player.
*A shopping session with Walt "Clyde" Frazier
*A Tama drum set. Since it's my special day, I want a Keith Moon-sized set. Don't half-ass it. You love me, right?
*A week at Mets fantasy, make it, on the actual Mets.
*An IV drip of Dunkin Donuts' chai tea.
*A production deal for my unpublished high school play, "Diner Theater."
*Beard trimming lessons from Sean Connery.
*A vacuum cleaner. (We really need one.)

--A couple of weeks ago, the fiancee and I went to a minor league baseball game that featured post-game fireworks. I was joking around with my brother-in-law that the fireworks were going to be lame, but then a strange thing happened: About midway through we were captivated. Lesson learned: Like pizza, "Goodfellas," and SportsCenter, fireworks are never boring.

--OK, so I hated "Midnight in Paris." Michael Sheen was wasted. You know where he isn't? "The Damned United." Watch it.

--The only good thing about the royal wedding? TCM showed "Roman Holiday."

--Now that Oprah's retired, who's going to tell us what to read? Time to step up, Conan.

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