Monday, October 18, 2010 i spent my summer staycation, part 3...

And now, on a lighter note...

This one comes in under the heading of the Surrealism of Modern Day Life.

As part and parcel of the stay-at-home vacay must, perforce, involve a lot of old B&W movies on the big HD Plasma screen, possibly the greatest tech innovation since the bread slicer. However, if one wishes to archive said old B&W movies for later viewing (a/k/a "time-shifting", the first Supreme Court decision to be influenced by an amicus brief from H.G. Wells, and you can view it here, or just about anywhere on the web, but I prefer the case stated in purely legal terms because it is sooo much kinkier to think of the Nine in their august robes, playing around with precedent and antecedent as if wondering whether the Eloi and Moorlocks will still be using them tomorrow...)

Eschewing the standard complaints about any customer's relationship with Time-Warner cable, we pick it up with my last consult with the telephone person. After the usual unplug/replug/reboot routine, she asked me the question which we all know as the default penultimate "goodbye" line: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

The subtext of the projected conversation would be: "Of course not. My signal strength is rarely up to snuff, the TiVO-like box drops recordings and interruptions of service ruin movies regularly. What else could you do? Cut my rates until you get up to speed."

But we live in a polite society and so, to be polite, I made the archest query as unaggressive as possible. "Well, I was wondering if anyone could tell me why I get these little jaggies all over my screen--not constantly, but in clusters. So? Any ideas?"

And that's when I encountered Zombie Satellite Galaxy 15.

"Lady... you're joking? Right?" "..." "No?" "..." No kidding!" "..." "Really?" "..." (Just to put you in proximity to my phone to overhear this exchange.)

This is not anime; this is the world of Intelsat communications. You can read all you want about it from the link here but the reason it caught my imagination is first, that monikker. This is stuff to conjure with. It should be a song by The Fleshtones, or Shonen Knife, yes. More, Japanese magna, absolutely, and new project by Yamamoto or something. I mean, can't you see it circling the globe?--this dreadful sphere of dark menace, a black "x" over every navigation light, the solar panels broken and twisted as the sails of the Flying Dutchman? Following its set route of horror, every approach to other relayers causing them to flee in fear and confusion? Yes, it sounds like the worst sort of cheap melodrama; and I simply adore it.

Second, was a flash on an episode of "Max Headroom". Largely forgotten now, in 1985 (?) it was a spin-off from an early, and very successful ad campaign for MTV itself. Not to go into great detail, suffice it to say that it was, honestly, the first cyberpunk (well, 'lite') sci-fi TV show (have there been others?) and on a major channel, not basic cable. So the opening scene of one episode had the crusading telereporter (with the virus-like alter ego of Max) covering the annual Fall of Satellites. See, this was "20 minutes into the Future" (as the tag-line went, chronicling events something like 10 years to come) and it had become so easy to put up satellites, when they went bad, the most cost-efficient thing to do was to bring them down from orbit in a spectacular crash-&-burn display to shame the Perseid meteor showers. I ask you to go to the above link and regard the halo of extraterrestrial extras encircling our sphere and marvel at how such a cloud could so effectively mimmick our earliest conceptions of sub-atomic nucleii.

Which I would have suggested to the Time Warner operator, but, knowing their idea of efficiency, they'd probably send out mixed signals anyways and bring down my carrier right in the middle of "The Daily Show." So I dropped the subject and drifted off into a reverie about the movie I would have Joe Meek produce for me, "The Circuits of the Living Dead vs. Telstar..."

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