Ear Worm (January 19, 2011)


 

After several thousand opportunities to view this commercial (most often during NFL football games – I wonder who Apple’s target audience is?), I have altered my opinion of its theme song. It is purposefully catchy, so much so that I often find myself waking in the morning with its sunny notes on the brain. Initially, this made me hate the tune, the iPad product as well as the overexposed company itself (Team PC, laptop and Blackberry!).

However, when nodding in and out of a multi-stage nap in front of the TV this past weekend, my semi-conscious began to take note of the interesting musical progressions comprising this deceptively simply ditty. As a music lover, and with my curiosity piqued, I came to learn that the tune is called “Never Stop,” by an artist named Chilly Gonzales. Let it be known that I am a fan of anything bearing the moniker “Chili” in all its various spellings – the food, the singer from legendary girl group TLC, and of course Chilly Willy the Penguin.

The 30-second clip begins with the light, percussive off-rhythm sound of snaps. A few moments later, a pretty neat piano refrain is added. Let it be known that I am a fan of the ivories, though I never learned to play. I never recovered from the simple joy of the “Heart and Soul” duet danced out by Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia in the 1980s flick Big.

Midway through the sample, hand claps can be heard on top of the snaps and piano. And finally, a fairly awesome bass line completes the wordless composition.

Funny that when I realized I enjoyed the song on its own merits, rather than running from Apple constantly forcing it down my throat, I no longer minded its persistent occupation of brain space.

I still won’t buy an iPad, but “Never Stop” certainly does its job. You can’t stop the beat – or its association with the technological best seller.

 

A Crackberry Addict in Withdrawal (September 14, 2010)

office-sign-blackberry

Back in November of 2009, I made the jump from a “regular” cell phone, the kind that only allowed me to make and take phone calls, while painstakingly typing out text messages (arguably, this task was not even worth it). After much consideration and deliberation, I chose the Blackberry 8330 in red – to match the color of my hair, naturally. My sister Jen, part of an all-Apple-products-all-the-time family, urged me to go with the iPhone, but that just seemed too complicated to me. The Blackberry offered the necessary upgrades I sought in my communications life: easier texting, picture messaging and Internet surfing ability, without all the expensive apps tricks and hoo ha.

Those who know me best might identify this decision as the defining moment when my ability to interact with other humans in a normal fashion took a nosedive. Even I was taken aback by the ease and speed with which I became a full blown addict. My problem began innocently enough: a perusal of the New York Times or a review of celebrity gossip as I waited for trains or appointments. However it wasn’t long before I found myself waking up in the middle of the night after losing a battle with insomnia, then immediately reaching for my Blackberry. Hey! If I couldn’t sleep I might as well find out who had been in contact with me, or what I had missed in the world as I tossed and turned. Soon I found myself trained like Pavlov’s dog: at the first red flash, indicating the receipt of a BBM, SMS or any other type of acronym, I was physically unable to stop myself from attending to it. Friends, family and my husband half-jokingly lamented that I was no longer able to look them in the eye whilst having a conversation. I am a multi-tasker by nature but clearly my habit had introduced insidious consequences on my personal life.

Last Saturday, as I enjoyed a rainy 9/11 bike ride through the ‘hood, I gave little thought to my trusty Blackberry, riding shotgun safely in my canvas carry-all bag. It’s not as though I make calls and check emails while weaving through traffic. But I was comforted by her presence, ready to be unholstered at any moment. What if I witnessed a crime or fell off my bike? I needed to know I could update my FaceBook status, I mean call the authorities, immediately!

So remember that canvas bag I mentioned? Yeah it turns out that canvas is not water proof. Hell, I am a writer not a physicist. When I returned to my apartment to dry off, and I think you know what I am about to say next here……she was gone. The magic scrolling ball, deliverer of so much web enjoyment, was kaput.

Nearly frantic was I. It took every fiber of my being not to wake a sleeping Eddie with a Gladiator-style explosion of grief followed by scorched Earth. What was I to do with myself now?

I placed a frantic call to my wireless provider and ascertained that my Blackberry was still under warranty and could be replaced (Customer Service Rep: “You didn’t by chance get the device wet, did you? Because that would nullify the terms of the warranty.” Boop: “How dare you!”). The catch? They were unwilling to let me have one off the shelves (‘cause you know I asked). Instead I received the positively dreadful news that I would have to wait 7-10 business days before getting my fix again via UPS.

Though I imagined all sorts of horrors, the end of life as we know it, the inability to maintain a fledgling writing career with nothing more than a desktop PC, I had a surprising knee jerk reaction when the customer service agent offered me the use of a temporary loaner phone. Unequivocally, I answered in the negative. Apparently, even Boop has a line and knows where to draw it. There seemed to be something so desperate about accepting a second-hand, possibly germ infested device simply because I didn’t believe I had the self-possession to endure a week of analog communications.

Today is Day Four of my Blackberry-free sentence, and you know something? The timeout has done me a world of good. I feel more human again. I have stopped relegating the people I love to “conversation between text” status. Like all enjoyable addictions: booze, drugs, sex, I need to learn to have a healthy relationship with my wireless device before I can return to it.

My withdrawal period even provided me with extra time and mental bandwidth to develop a great business idea: a Blackberry Betty Ford clinic. Genius!

The Case of the Ex (April 22, 2010)

ex-boyfriends

Trying to get settled into my new life (apartment, job, a bundle of freelance projects that seems to grow everyday) has left me exhausted, not to mention woefully ignorant of anything important in the realm of news. I have stayed abreast of pop culture through furtive Blackberry readings of Perez Hilton on my daily commute (cut to image of Boop hanging her head in burning shame). Therefore, instead of one of my signature topical rants, you will keep getting anecdotes from my daily life until I can find time to re-enter the larger world.

My new office, located at Lake and Clinton is, quite literally, a stone’s throw away from one of my former employers, a company called Information Resources. I worked at the consumer spending tracking company from 2005-2007 while completing my Master’s in English Lit. at Northeastern. If you have ever seen the movie Office Space, or are familiar with the similiarly named TV show, The Office, you will be easily able to bring an image of IRI’s employees and work ethic to mind. It is, without the shadow of a doubt, the silliest place where I ever did time. I mean that in the best way. Full of happy hours, sloppy floor parties, hookups, rumor and innuendo, I am not sure much work ever got done. This may be part of the reason the company has gone through massive layoffs since I left, but I digress…

Boop was a single graduate student during her tenure at IRI, and I will own upfront that I was a great partaker in the aforementioned bundle of shenanigans (see paragraph above). My fellow employees and I got on, as Forrest Gump might say, “like peas and carrots.” I had nicknames such as “The Prom Queen,” “The Happy Hour Genie,” and “The Makeout Bandit.” It is all too true. During those freewheeling single days, I did use my place of employment as a de facto dating service. And not unsuccessfully either. Eddie and I met while he was a consultant at the company.

The problem is that some of my failed dalliances remain very much employed at IRI. I like to think I have morphed somewhat into a more respectable person since I left the halls of Information Resources: married woman, graduate, thriving career of sorts. Long gone are the days when I did three or more messy rounds of after work cocktails per week. My liver and gym routines will not allow it.

However, I cannot reasonably expect my discarded paramours to recognize my newfound maturity. So each day in my new role at Illinois Partners contains the same routine: I disembark from the Metra and run like hell for the safe confines of my building’s vestibule. At 5:00, I skedaddle back to the Ogilvie Station with sunglasses firmly in place, praying to avoid running into anyone who hates me.

This plan carried me through a full week free of the ghosts of boyfriends past. However, my luck ran out on Tuesday afternoon as I was lazily returning from lunch. The enemy always seems to attack when your guard is down.

He was getting out of a cab and oh no! It was the worst possibility of all: Kiran, the guy I left to get together with Eddie. The fact that Eddie and I have been married for 2.5 years, and Kiran’s own status as a happily married fella with a one year-old daughter, lulled me into the belief that perhaps we had grown, and could have a cordial conversation with bygones being where they belong.

Wrong. I could see recognition wash over Kiran’s face, followed closely by what can only be described as a look of withering scorn. I prayed very hard for the sidewalk to open up and swallow me, a la Baby Jessica down the well, but that shit never works when you need it to. So I braced myself for the stilted, unnatural conversation that was to follow.

It took all of about 30 seconds, but of course the discussion felt like hours. I left with the distinct impression that Kiran thinks he “won” because he has a child at this point and I don’t. Ah yes, baby making as some sort of contest: yet another reason I don’t go there. I didn’t feel the need to explain to him that there’s nothing at all wrong with my eggs or Eddie’s sperm. Let my personal choice make him feel avenged if it means an end to sidewalk nastiness.

It’s only week two at the new job and there’s at least five or six former suitors left for me to run into. Stay tuned…