Red Seinfeld is a contributing volunteer “citizen-columnist” for his town’s local Record Pilot. He writes weekly musings on culture, technology, and the humorous ups and downs of single fatherhood. He is 54, divorced, and teaches Environmental Science at Northport Middle School in Long Island, New York. He loves the color brown. This is his blog.
WELL, IT'S TRUE, FOLKS. I BOUGHT IT. Ol’ fashion Seinfeld is the proud new owner of a Macintosh PowerTop LapBook.
Congratulations On Your Happiness
After the overwhelming response to last week’s column, “Should I Take A Bite Out Of This Macintosh If I’m Afraid I’ll Get A Worm?”, a razor thin 8 to 6 vote decided I should align myself with the talented Mr. Justin Long and purchase an Apple Core Intel Processor. Justin, you’ve clearly made the delightful Drew Barrymore a happy lady, and I’m thrilled to report, your casual, mediocre charm has worked wonders on the part of my brain that makes decisions.
Confusingly, one must purchase Apple products exclusively from their own brick & mortars (while I respect Apple's stance, nobody beats The Wiz). So, despite a crippling fear of crowds and commercial culture, I strapped on my Jansport, packed a snack, and hopped on the M21 bus headed for the airport-sized Roosevelt Field Mall.
I must explain - prior to Tuesday, the closest I’d come to entering a shopping mall was joining a picket line of alarmed parents outside a Dick’s Sporting Goods store to request the ‘i’ in ‘Dick’s’ be replaced with a tactful asterisk. I’m no pest, but my son Matthew wants to buy field hockey cleats and a volleyball - not skanky, yellow-paper Chinatown smut, folks.
Needless to say, I was a little nervous as to what to expect from one of the largest malls in the country. So, upon arrival, I bit my lip, said my Hail Josephs, and with clenched fists, walked through the colossal sliding glass doors into another world.
“Holy cow, now that’s a pizza pie-a!” I humorously exclaimed upon entering the complex. This joint was big! Yet, suddenly, awe turned to terror as I became swept up in the orgiastic current of lights, sounds, exotic smells and people. The mall had invaded my senses with such might that I was forced to find a nearby Spencer’s Gifts to take a knee and regroup.
After buying a simply gut-busting Austin Powers keychain for my son (“Yeah, Baby!”) and refilling my canteen at a beautiful, brackish water statue fountain literally inside the mall, I was ready to venture on. Following a hesitant 5 count (which had to be restarted multiple times), I was off, swimming in a mad, mad sea toward my destination.
As I turned into the mall’s west wing, things changed from chaotic to rather euphoric. As the intoxicating scent of Aunt Annie’s cinnamon & pretzel concoction entered my nostrils and blood stream, all I saw turned to a pleasant blur. An Armenian man smoked from a smokeless cigarette as beautiful Russian princesses lured me to their kiask of handmand, centuries old T-Mobile cell phone covers. Suddenly, there it was; the white glow of neon bulbs piercing my pupils with enough power to elicit 16 consecutive, head-clearing sneezes.
It’s hard to put into words the immense spiritual experience one has walking into an Apple Store, but I will bet you all the sand in Cairo it feels similar to how Bono felt the night he discovered his incredible talent. If anyone has doubts as to whether Macintosh is leading the technological revolution of our time, one look at their translucent spiral staircase and you’ll be sold.
I’ll be honest, since purchasing my Mac, I haven’t felt this creatively energized since seeing Jim Henson slap a woman for exhibiting poor stichmanship on a Gonzo foot. Simply by owning an Apple computer and becoming a proverbial “Mac Guy”, not only do I feel I understand Obama more, but gosh darnit if colors don’t seem brighter. And I say that as someone who is legally shade-blind, physically unable to detect the degree in brightness of a given color. Mr. Stephen Jobs has done an incredible thing.
While I feel I am extremely slowly beginning to understand the basics of computer operation, I think owning a LapBook - a Mac at that - is a good place to start. However, I have yet to tackle perhaps the biggest giant of 21st century robotics: The InterNet. Once Netscape has installed, I’ll be reporting back from my middle school’s computer classroom to observe the future of the human race – our middle schoolers – using the world wide web on their terms. Until then - Happy Downloading!
HOLA, READERS! “Hola,” I’ve been reminded, is the Mexican word for “Hello,” as Maria the Computer Study Area Operator at my local library will attest. Maria has been gracious enough to help guide my first foray into the digital mind trip that is, “Inter-Net” or “Web”, or for sci-fi movie buffs, “The Matrix”! (Note: Readers have noted the striking similarities between said film and my 1995 autobiographical novella, Well, I’m Going To Die: One Man’s Unlikely Acid Experience During The Rio De Jenairo Electrical Blackout of 1981 . An infringement suit has been filed in my cabinet drawer marked “Potential Infringement Suits.”)
In last week’s column I vowed to embrace the technology of the 2000′s and explore the apparent advantages computers have to offer. So, for the first time, I am writing not from behind my Devry University embossed typewriter, but an actual Dell Personal Computer! I’m using “software” (No, you don’t WEAR it!) called “Windows” (the name of my brother Brian’s high school Doors cover band) which, when having “loaded” (a term my mother applied to Father after a day at the races) brings you to a screen that could, in a way, be described as a virtual “Desktop”.
What’s nice about a computer’s “Desktop” is that behind all the “things” you can click, Maria has demonstrated how one designates a custom picture as a backdrop. Now, before jumping to that snapshot of baby Elliot perched inside a clay flower pot as if he were a vivacious Dandilion himself, you may want to note the first rate photography Windows provides on file. Take, for instance, the arching desert landscape balanced by rich, royal blue sky. Stunning.
Be forewarned: After around three to four minutes of inactivity, the screen will be “saved” by hypnotic displays of swirling color and abstract visual chaos (a similar unsettling experience is detailed in Chapter 9 of Well, I’m Going To Die…). Recoiling in fear isn’t necessary, I found — it’s merely the computer’s way of conserving energy, a move Filmmaker Al Gore would surely approve of (Idea Alert: "A Conveinient Loose Tooth” would be a funny name for a children’s book about fairies!).
At this point, I felt ready to open a “Word Document”, the program that mimics a typewriter’s “Blank Page”.
To reiterate, this world of computers and technology is new to me. Staring across the grid of arrows and small, blinking vertical lines can feel daunting.
Clippy: A Warm Soul
What an absolute joy it was, then, to meet a friend who understood my virgin-like hesitance, who could guide and nurture my journey into the unknown. No, it wasn’t the wonderful Maria this time; she was on her cigarette break. Rather, I am referring to Clippy, the animated paper clip who resides with such enthusiasm and infectious wonder in the lower right hand corner of the Word Document window. Clippy’s ability to offer invaluable tips, shortcuts, and suggestions with affability and wry humor could, frankly, draw comparisons to—I’m sorry, it’s true—Dr. Ben Stein’s glory days as a freewheeling trivia game show host on Comedy Central.
EPIPHANY ALERT: The remarkably Web savvy 14 year-old and self-proclaimed “Latina Princess” sitting to my right - a title proudly displayed on her shirt in beautiful, rhinestone cursive - just typed this on her screen: ;P
The pleasure is mine,
Do you see it? It’s a specific code that uses characters to evoke a face winking while sticking out its tongue in a playful, flirtatious manor. I’m speechless.
Is this a sign of what’s to come from my exploration of the World Wide IntraMatrix? I sure hope so, because for the first time in my life, I’m experiencing the intoxicating thrill of breaking the stagnant, time-honored rules of classically written English my father swore violently by for so many years.
Sorry Dad. Time’s a fickle fish. There’s a new language, now: The Language of Choice. The choice to be foolish and have fun with words. The boat’s here, folks. Either get in or get out; women and children first, followed by the Next Generation of Everyone, Everywhere. (Note: Titanic was a great film but stretched the truth in some areas of the script.)
Seinfeldians, I have to admit: I may be turning into a techno-freak-geek after all.
Red Seinfeld is a contributing volunteer “citizen-columnist” for his town’s local Record Pilot. He writes weekly musings on culture, technology, and the humorous ups and downs of single fatherhood. He is 54, divorced, and teaches Environmental Science at Northport Middle School in Long Island, New York. He loves the color Brown.
OK, PARENTS, HERE’S YOUR SEINFELD POP QUIZ FOR THE DAY: What’s Twitter? How about Google? MySpace? Wiki-peedee whosie whatsie?
Look, this 54-year-old Environmental Science teacher remembers seeing things move fast (Keith Richards’ fingers, anyone?), but today’s technology is a whole other ballpark frank.
Folks of my generation can attest, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with the new-fangled computer mumbo jumbo all the talk show hosts gush about each morning.
I'll be the first admit I’m no Felix the Clever Cat when it comes to home computers, beepers, and baby monitors - local residents have likely spotted my 1992 aqua blue Astrovan with its “I’d Rather Be Whittling” decal displayed prominently on the passenger-side window. Becoming stuck in this “Digital Web” the Regises and Ellens of the world have been going on about simply does not hold up to a day at the duck pond, crafting fine, commemorative train whistles.
Read 'Er & Weep
…Or does it?
As loyal Seinfeldians – my readers - will recall, I’ve typed my weekly column from my 3rd floor attic for the past 13 years. I park myself behind the same trustworthy personal typewriter that I’ve owned since my time as a continuing education student at Devry University.
So, while picking up my 7-year-old Matthew from his Tiger Schulmann’s Youth Karate Training Facility last thursday, it came as quite a shock to hear the following words exit his orange Gatorade-stained lips:
“Doctor” (I’ve trained him to address me as his superior), “what’s a ‘tyyype ryyyderrr’?”
Sweet Saint Agustus, my son was finally learning to put sentences together (Good Boy!). But also, had the word “typewriter” really never entered Matthew’s cauliflowered, 7-year-old ears? How could it be, that the same mature toddler who Googles & Lycos’s his way through countless meals despite my tireless, full-throated screams could not recall the fundamental text printing tool of our time?
Could it be that for Matthew’s generation, the computer has replaced the typewriter as the dominant, most efficient tool for word-processing?
Honestly, I don’t think so, I can’t see it.
Look, I’m not one to embrace the idea of change, the notion of adapting, nor the theory of human evolution for that matter. However, this episode involving my son has opened my eyes. Maybe I could at least try to explore the Computer and InterNet, and see what all those morning talk show hosts rave about after all...
Seinfeldians, I invite you to join me on a journey in exposing ourselves to all the 21st century has to offer. Let’s try it on for size; see how it fits on our balding, overweight heads (life’s too short, folks–we have to be able to laugh at ourselves)!
I hereby pledge to open myself to popular culture and the mysteries of new technology, and each week, report back to you, my loyal readers. Hopefully, my experiences may serve as a guide to helping you move successfully along the road to tomorrow.
So plug in folks! Let’s explore! See you next week!