Pictured: Not my toddler, but this game is all I hear in the house anymore.
Island Packet — The Internet is chock plumb full of awful parenting advice, blank scare tactics and a bunch of stuff that people just make up (like there’s really a guy named “Benedict Cumberbatch”), but now and again it hits on something: It was on the Internet that I first read of “iPad addiction,” a new addition to the ever-turning Carousel of Things to Fear Regarding Your Toddler. (Since I live in the Lowcountry, I’m still keeping my No. 1 as “snakes and spiders,” and yes I realize those are two things but I’m convinced they are in cahoots.)
The cause of iPad addiction is simple: Parents in need of a few sweet moments of work or dishes or not-playing-robots time grant the child a brief electronic distraction. But the effect is simpler: Before long the child gets really super crazypants attached to the device, and when you try to eventually take it away for something imprudent like “a bath” or “eating,” the child contorts his face into a demonic visage of rage and shrieks murderously, for like a half an hour, in your face, even during a bath.
GateHouse — Oh my God you guys the best thing just happened: my Mac finally broke! For good! It’s totally useless! THIS IS AMAZING!
Wow, this, I don’t need to tell you, is fantastic news if you are 1. a dippy Mac nerd and 2. a Vrabel, because the regular replacement of even sleek sexy Apple objects, whose very existence demands expensive upgrades at regular intervals, does not come easy to Vrabels.
Which is not to say that we eschew technology. My 80-year-old Uncle Jim, for instance, last year brought home a forehead-slappingly monstrous new iMac, one whose screen was easily large enough to humiliate most of the movie theaters in my hometown. It was terrifying, not just because my family wouldn’t have been more surprised if he came home and announced he had just purchased a previously undiscovered Jackson Pollock from an auction in Amsterdam, but whatever, it was way cooler than anything we had.
And what did he do with this glorious piece of sleek gorgeousness? He literally set it up on a desk that has been around since before I was, next to a computer called a Commodore Amiga that he literally purchased in 1989, on which we literally spent spent visits there playing hours of “Zac McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders” and which is literally STILL SITTING WHERE IT SAT IN 1989. I haven’t the foggiest notion if it functions or even turns on or has been totally gutted and is housing a family of vagabond gerbils, but it is there, this wonderful metaphor or progress, of the inexorable march of technological improvement, of my family’s still-lively inability to even remotely begin considering to throw things out if there is any chance it can serve some vague purpose down the road, or, failing that, if they can sell them to people for Bears-ticket money.
I suppose the Nelly Furtado cover on this promo art is a pretty good indicator of how popular this thing is, huh
GateHouse — Do you know those annoying, pretentious, patronizing Mac people, the indigestible elitists who swear by their little ivory-colored best friends, the ones who wear small T-shirts with clever slogans on them to work, the ones who schedule days off of work to watch Steve Jobs’ keynote presentations and the ones who shake their heads in sympathetic bemusement at their friends with “drivers” and “security patches” and “several hundred dollars of Norton-based expenses”? Yeah, that’s me. Please take your shoes off and leave your Vista laptops in the car — we don’t serve their kind here.
I am a Mac nerdperson because, much like my indestructible Honda and this previously blue Cubs hat from like 2001, they’ve worked, really well, for a long time. I realize this may not be the common experience, and I can actually hear my reflexiveMac-hater friends clickity clackity-ing up witty rejoinders, but to them, as always, I say: You are probably using them wrong. Try checking the instructions.
For example, I have a nearly-destroyed five-year-old iPod that has basically been through the MP3 version of the Bataan Death March; it has been dropped and kicked and nearly put through the washing machine and almost fumbled into the sea, but the damned thing just will not expire, like that liquid metal Terminator, or John McCain. The front screen is now in a state of such unreadable scratchiness and pixel blowout that you can literally only read titles if you hold the device at a 40-47-degree angle to your nose, and do you know what? IT STILL WORKS FINE. I’m scared of it, to be honest.
3:58 p.m.: Wait, is this my fault? I did download the Avett Brothers leak this morning. Or was that a virus? Did the Avett Brothers foul up my Mac? Can the IT department see that? Where’s my passport? Is my resume updated? OH GOD, IT’S IN MY GMAIL.
3:59 p.m.: Oh thank goodness, it’s not just me, it’s everybody. Wait, IT’S EVERYBODY! GMAIL IS DOWN. CRIMINY ON A SALTINE CRACKER, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?
This TV looks absolutely nothing at all like the one in my house.
GateHouse – Alright, someone explain to me the TV Thing – specifically, the Giant TV Thing, the genetic impulse that’s caught on during this luminous holiday season that’s making everyone point their monster SUVs to the Giant Electro Store and obtain the largest, LCDest, most plasmalicious television they can afford, and by “afford,” I mean, “pretty much not afford.” (I’m seeing subprime mortgage people lurking outside Best Buy these days, clipboards in hand, wearing capes, I’m just saying.)
You could fill libraries with the stuff I don’t understand, but this particular shopping development has been troubling me ever since I realized I needed a column idea about eight minutes ago. But as what is apparently the last member of my immediate circle of friends to not have a television with the power and authority to order missile strikes on Iran and/or see through the fabric of time, I’m starting to think that the problem is me, and that the problem can only be remedied by spiraling further into debt in pursuit for a TV of absurd proportions so I can, I don’t know, see in glorious, incandescent realism several Choirs which will be Clashing.
I've written for the nice people at GQ, Time, Men's Health, Billboard, Paste, Nickelodeon's NickMom, brucespringsteen.net and The South Magazine. I'm also a syndicated humor columnist in "newspapers" and a father of two (the younger of whom has been personally approved by Bruce Springsteen) on the coast of South Carolina. Even longer bio/clips.