Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Star Wars, 8-Tracks, and Stairway to Heaven or Dim Really Needs to Lay Off the Sauce

Bear with me on this one. Xteen and I are starting to think about buying a house and one of the main reasons for this is that our apartment is starting to feel a tad on the small side. One giant reason for this happens to be the 1,500+ CDs that are housed in various wooden apparati that choke out every available inch of wallspace in the joint.

So, basically, we need a house because I'm an idiot and buy too many CDs. This I know.

But I was thinking to myself, "What if all of these CDs were cassette tapes? What if they were records? Where would I keep all of them?" And then it got me thinking more. Since I was born in the early 70s, I, like probably most of the residents of Dim City, can say they have been a part of five major types of music media: the vinyl LP, the 8-track tape, the cassette tape, the CD, and electronic music files. Now, don't get all uppity on me and say, "B-B-B-But Dim!!! What about Digital Audio Tapes???" Piss off. No one has any of those. And if you do, they're probably collecting dust alongside your beta max.

So, I was thinking about comparing the media (save the electronic music files) that we have lived through in three really important categories: Look, Portability, and Practicality.

I know what you are thinking.

"B-B-B-But Dim!!! What about SOUND?? Isn't that what it is all about anyway???"

Piss off.

My ears are ravaged from years of playing in loud bands and listening to Maiden, so I could give a crappin ass less about stuff like high ends, low ends, Nyquist frequencies, quantization noise, hertz, kilohertz, and islammedmyfingerinthecardoorandnowithertz. I don't want to hear, "B-B-B-But Dim!!! Jazz and classical music sound SO much better on vinyl!!!"

Go screw and listen to some RAWK, Junior!!!

So here we go:

The LP Vinyl Record:


Take away the goofy colored vinyl that seem to be collectors' items for people who get unreconcilable boners over concepts like the aforementioned Nyquist frequencies for a second. These are the same dolts that are fascinated by red pistachio nuts. But I digress...The black circle is just that. A brittle, black disc with a whole in it. Engraved in it, a solitary groove that winds around and can contain everything from Handel to Donna Summer without prejudice. Looking at an LP record, one could ask, "How much more black could this be?" And we all know the answer is "None. None more black." But the best part of the LP record was actually the protective cover. A nice, large, artistic representation of the music contained within. It could be iconic, like a Warhol-designed banana, or a collection of people that the Beatles would like to see at a fictional concert. Or, it could be something like these. Yeesh.


LPs were a little bulky and oddly shaped to lug around. You'd basically have to carry them under your arm, like schoolbooks, and pray that you didn't screw up and have the slit in the jacket facing to the left or right while carrying, which would result in the inevitable separation of the album from its protective sleeve and equally inevitable decimation at the hands of an unforgiving ground (see: Practicality). Storage is a factor too, because the only thing that fits them are milkcrates. And you need tons and tons of milkcrates for your albums. And that really sucks if you are lactose intolerant. Yeah, I just got the new Leo Sayer but I haven't listened to a single note, because I've been stuck on the can! You might make him feel like dancin', but he makes me feel like dropping a deuce.

And forget about the actual portability of the playing device for the albums. Unless you have an 8-mile long extension cord and a wheelbarrow, you are shit out of luck.


Cool thing about LPs, other than hearing that inital crack when the needle hits the vinyl is that you could rig your hi-fi to play stuff backwards so you could really tell if there were Satanic messages in "Stairway to Heaven". That's gotta be worth something more than Robert Plant's eternal soul, no?

A downside is that these things shattered more easily than Sam Jackson in Unbreakable. I remember holding a Star Wars record (my most prized possession at that time) in my little hands when I was a kid and having it slip out of my wee grasp and land on the living room floor, pulverized into more pieces than the Death Star after Luke blew it up (thanks entirely to Han Solo). I was completely devastated and haven't really completely forgiven vinyl since.

I have one other major problem with LPs. Each side could only really store about 30 minutes of music. For the most part, bands adhered to that strict time limit, but then, all of a sudden, it dawned on them and they said, "Hey, we're rock and roll! Fuck the rulez!!!" and the started to make the "double album", which was four sides of musical goodness. Problem with that came with the record players that were able to hold multiple records on the spindle at once and then drop the next one down when the one playing was finished (seemingly by magic). I seem to recall double albums, at first, having sides 1 and 2 on one disc and then 3 and 4 on the other. This fucked everything up, because you would put the double album on the spindle and listen to side 1, then side 3, then turn them over and listen to side 4 and then side 2. And with something like Pink Floyd's The Wall, listening to the songs out of order would make the plot of the album confusing, instead of crystal clear like it is when you listen in order. I know, Roger...we're all waiting for the worms.

Anyway, they somehow managed to figure out a fix for this using some sort of mathematical formula and finagled things so it lined up OK, but by then, no one wanted LPs anymore. They moved onto bigger and better things like...

The 8-track tape:

Before I get going on this, let me cut you off by saying that I do know that these things existed pretty much concurrently in the 70s, but we seemed to have an 8-track after a record player in our house, so this is the order I am going with.


A cross between a cassette tape and an Atari cartridge on steroids. Not exactly a chick magnet.


Smaller in size than the LP record, but significantly more chunky. Portable in the sense that you could listen to these things in your car, but not quite as portable as media yet to come.


This is where the shitstorm begins, because I would really like to meet the fucking genius to invented this thing. Here's my bright idea...we put music on a tape and make it smaller and more compact, so people can listen in their homes and in their vehicle. The size of the actual media is smaller, so you don't need to have a medicine chest full of Lactaid in order to store it. Is that a good idea?

Hells yeah! Any drawbacks?

Not a single one. Well, unless you count the fact that we have to split the music up into eight tracks (hence the name, dum dum) and when the track changes from one to another (which is completely arbitrary yet always in the middle of a song), the music ceases for three seconds and a "click" about as subtle as a sonic boom occurs before the music resumes. Other than that, it's aces.

"Hey man, throw on some Zeppelin!!"

And she's buyyyyyying a heav......



"Jimmy Page, man! Jimmy fucking Page!!!"

The Cassette Tape:


It looks like a, well, ummm, a cassette tape. You know. The main drawback to the look is that it took stunning and detailed album art and reduced to the size of a Shrinky Dink.


Now, we are getting somewere. The cassettes themselves were significantly smaller than the 8 tracks; you could grab them by the handful. Many cars had stereos equipped to play them and even carrying cases to hold them were relatively small in size and required little, if any, mass digestion of lactose in order to obtain. Portability of cassette tape players varied greatly. There was the "tape deck" which was small and easy to carry, thanks to a built-in handle, but setting the volume to anything over "2" ("4" was the lowest frequency a human could hear) caused the speaker to blow and everything, from Irene Cara to Foreigner, to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher. Which was actually a step up in sound. At least for Foreigner.

Then you had the boom boxes. The ill Run DMC-style box could hardly be described as portable as you needed a pulley system to hoist it onto the shoulder. But once you were able to get it up there, you were in good shape. Unless you count the spina bifida you developed from carrying around an 83-pound hunk of metal on one shoulder. But usually, the sound was kickin' and there was always those pimp canes to help out with your limp.

Then came the portable cassette player, universally known by Sony's product, the Walkman. People seem to only remember the late model Walkmen...the ones that were sleek; barely thicker than the cassette itself and weighed about as much as a ladybug. The one I seem to recall most vividly was the earlier model, generic, non-Sony Walkman, which was about as aerodynamic as a cinder block and was as stealthy as Darth Vader's breathing box. "The head cleaner is strong in this one..."


Again, like all media, a finite amount of music could fit on a single side, necessitating the buzzkilling "tape flip". The players were various and sundry. All shapes, sizes, and sounds. One drawback was, when either the player was hungry or the tape was frisky, it usually resulted in the once symbiotic relationship between cassette and player to turn into a murder/suicide. Once the tape was "eaten", more often than not, neither tape nor player could be salvaged. Alas.

The other thing that sucked was trying to find the beginning of a song on a tape. Unlike an album, which had a visible space between tracks, with a cassette, you were pretty much throwing shit against the wall and seeing what stuck:

"Dude, you gotta hear this 'Stairway to Heaven' tune, but you gotta listen to the WHOLE thing...the intro is so cool!!"

Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine...

"Oh wait, man, that's the wrong friggin side. Hold on."

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow...

"Oh shit, don't listen! That's it. Wait til I get to the beginning!"

"Dude, what the fuck's a hedgerow?"

"Nevermind...wait. I think I got it."

With flames from the dragon of darkness...

"Dude, what the hell is THAT? Is he reading 'The Hobbit'? Is that a mandolin? Are you listening to Jethro fucking Tull?"

"Man, shut up. I rewound it too far. That song's good, man. Even though a chick sings on it, it's about castles and shit."

And this goes on for awhile until they either find the beginning of the song or it's time to go play D&D.

They did invent cassette players that could actually "read" the spaces between tracks and you could program it to forward or rewind X number of songs. Unfortunately, these players were like $8,000. And by the time they came down in price, we moved on to...



Small and shiny. Dim digs. Artwork size drastically reduced from LP size, yet bigger than cassettes. Dim has mixed feelings.


Unless you are James Bond and some secret special spy shit no one's ever heard of before, it scarsely gets more portable. There are sleeves to store them in your car's visor. You can keep hundreds of them in a 3-ring binder, if you're not anal like Dim and need to have all the artwork prominently displayed along with the disc. Discmen are very easily to transport and pretty much every car made this millenium has a built-in CD player. The fact that it violently skips with every bump you ride over is a post for another day.


High ranking scores on this one. 80 minutes of music on a relatively durable, single disc. Even Tool has a hard time filling one of these puppies up. Only issue is that they look exactly like DVDs, so you have to be careful if you leave them lying around without their case because instead of listening to Josh Groban, uh, I mean, the White Stripes, you might find your car CD player desperately trying to read your copy of Fried Green Tomatoes, uh, I mean Rambo: First Blood Part 2.

So, what's the point of this whole post?

After careful re-reading of this whole thing, I think I finally came up with it:

The process of thinking about buying a house really sucks, so try not to buy a lot of CDs, even though it is tempting because they are small and shiny.

Happy listening,

- Dim.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

30 Seconds

Hey, have half a minute? Check out Dim's new poetry corner entry. And remember...cry. It'll make you feel better.

- Dim.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fish Guts and Casper the Artistic Ghost: Two Tales from Dim's Childhood

Since I don't have a single original thought lately, I decided to let this post (August 15) by RR inspire me and recall a couple of really brain-damaged things I did as a young kid.

The first was when I was just starting to walk. What age is that anyway? 2? 3? 11? I don't remember. Anyway, I was real little and stumbling around our house much like I do now after I have some Southern Comfort. Only back then, I was just totally strung out on apple juice.

Anyway, my mom had these fish called black mollies in a tank in the living room. They looked like this:

These fish were completely suicidal and used to jump out of the top of the tank and onto the living room carpet. My mom would invariably have to run and pick them up and put them back in the water. This was back in the 70s, so I don't think they had yet invented the high-tech stuff they have to keep fish in their tanks. Like screens.

Anyway, one day I am stumbling around the house in my Garanimals overalls and I notice these black things writhing in agony on the living room carpet.

Now, from an early age, my mother always taught me about the sanctity of life. So, my near-empty brain should have retained this information, one would think. Instead, my immediate reaction to seeing the mollies there was to yell, "BUGS!!!" and proceed to stomp the living bejeezus out of them all until my tiny Zips sneakers were completely covered with fish guts.

We didn't get another fish tank again until my parents were reasonably certain I wasn't going to do another Cherokee rain dance on them. And to this day, I swear to you, I have no recollection as to how my two turtles, Ding and Dong, met their demise.

Another example of how dumb I was when I was a kid occured maybe a year or two after the unfortunate Fish Massacre of 1974. We had this neighbor and every once in awhile this lady's granddaughter would come to visit. She was my age and I remember being quite taken with her as a lad of about 5. Her impression was intense, yet not long-lasting, because a mere 30 years since I laid eyes on her, I could scarcely provide you with a solitary detail about her, but she must have had some sort of weird Dim mojo thing happening, because this Jezebel got me in an assload of trouble.

Here's the story. We were out in the back yard playing and she had some chalk. Now, I ask of you: Would you deny Van Gogh a canvas or Shakespeare ink and parchment? But there we were, the two of us, budding with ideas of the most accomplished artistes of our age. And nothing to draw on.

Well, except for the back porch.

"Let's draw on the porch", she said sweetly.

Now, even my 5 year-old brain knew this was a bad idea. First of all, the porch was not mine. Second, even if it were, the porch is not something on which to draw with chalk. Easily, I could have gone into the house and grabbed some construction paper or a blackboard or something. I would save myself a lickin' and actually resist this foul temptress' attempt to get me in trouble and also show myself that I had self-control and the ability to judge what was right and wrong, even at such a tender age. I vividly remember all of these thoughts resounding in my inexperienced noggin. I also vividly remember my response to her utterly ridiculous and destructive idea:


So we drew like no one had ever drawn before. Until she got called in for lunch.

I was left there, holding the chalk, amongst our work: hers, impressionist, mine, Dada (I should have known we were doomed). When then it hit intense anxiety much like that which would later come to visit me annually. My mom was going to find out and my ass was going to get up close and personal with a wooden spoon. Unless...I made a pre-emptive strike.

I didn't throw Jezebel under the bus, no, no, no. I did what any other well-moraled child who needs to accept responsibility for his transgressions would do. I blamed the chalk drawings on the porch on this guy:

Oh yes. My brain came up with an ingenious plot destined to pull one over on my adult mother. Not only was I blaming the whole thing on a ghost, which is ludicrous enough on its own, but I'm blaming this on a fucking fictional, CARTOON ghost. How could I fail?

I went in the house and told my mother that she really needs to come out now and see what Casper did. He came down and grabbed our chalk and started writing on the porch. And, on top of it all, my idiot kid brain decided to push the envelope even further. It wasn't enough that I was actually blaming a ghost for my transgression, but I had to add that I actually tried to stop him!

"Mom, I told him not to do that because you would be mad, but he wouldn't listen to me and he drew on the porch and flew away before I could come in here and get you so you could see him do it."

I don't remember much of what happened after that.

See what a dumb kid I was? I'm all better now though. But I do know this...if I ever get in trouble with the law, I don't give a shit. I'm blaming it on the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Who you gonna call,

- Dim.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Elevator Etiquette

This post from FTNU got me thinking a little. March and I (along with some other co-workers) used to have this running list of rules about how to behave in the work environment. And since I am desperate for a new post and March isn't, I'm jumping on this one.

I work in a six-floor building. The first floor really doesn't have much going on in the way of office space. There's the lobby, the cafeteria, which you all know about, and some conference rooms. The second floor is littered with tenants from various other companies (who seemingly don't share the same dress code as us). And then, my company has floors three through six. I'm in the penthouse overlooking the homeless guy's camp near the exit for the interstate. Oh, the view.

Anyway, the first thing I do when I get to work in the morning is get on the elevator. Being on the sixth floor, you really wouldn't think there would be a lot of stuff that could go on that would piss me off, right? Well, think again. Because most people are idiots. Here's some elevator etiquette that I think should always be followed:
  1. If, at the elevator, I press the button to go up, I get on first. Plain and simple. I didn't exert my index finger simply so you could elbow me out of the way of my ride. There are three elevators, side-by-side. Just because you stand in front of elevator number two and that one opens up to reveal an unhindered ride to your destination (while I am standing in front of elevator number one, which opens up to reveal a donkey), doesn't mean you get to get on first, Monty Hall. You want to get on first? Get your sorry ass out of bed a nanosecond before I do and press the button yourself.
  2. Once in the elevator, shut the fuck up. Seriously. Unless we are extremely close friends, I don't want to hear about how sunny/cold/hot/humid/snowy/icy/windy it is. Guess what? It's NOT cold enough for me, the heat is NOT getting to me, and yes, I CAN believe all this snow. Look. I'm going to WORK. I don't like going to work. Therefore, forgive me if I am not chatty. If I am on a elevator ride on my way to pick up a $20 million lottery check, feel free to wax meteorology with me. Otherwise, shut your low pressure system.
  3. If we get on the elevator at the same time, or if I am already on when you get on, don't you dare say to me "Four, please" unless you somehow got both of your arms chopped off at the shoulder, drummer from Def Leppard-style, on your way through the door. Even then, use your foot, like he does. He plays fucking drums with his FOOT. I think you muster some strength and train that piggie went to market fat toe of yours to hit the 4 button. I'm not wearing a little red hat. I'm not the doorman. I'm not your bitch. Press your own friggin number.
  4. Turn off your cell phone. It never ceases to amaze me where people think they can carry on a conversation on their cell phone. First of all, it's beyond annoying to be in an enclosed space with someone and all you hear is, "HUH? YEAH! YEP! OK! YEAH! 5:30! FIVE!!! THIRTY!!! YEAH! OK! CAN'T HEAR YOU! YOU'RE BREAKING UP!!!" Ya think, Alexander Graham Bell? You are in an enclosed metal box deep within the innards of a building structure. You mean you can't get a signal? "Can you hear me now?" These are same idiots who would bring their Razr phone in while they are getting an MRI and wonder why they can't make dinner reservations.
  5. Unless you are in a wheelchair or you are carrying two duffle bags full of bricks, do NOT get on the elevator to go up or down one floor. They have these things called stairs and it just might do your bacon-double cheeseburger eating ass some good to use them.
  6. If you are waiting for the elevator and the door opens and there are people there getting off, wait until they are all off of the elevator before proceeding in yourself. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to get off at my floor only to have some impatient jackass try to get on the elevator while I am getting off. The elevator isn't a portal that brings you back to Cincinnati, 1979 to see the Who. Quit the bum rush.
  7. The depth in which you stand in the elevator should be proportional to the floor on which you are getting off. Say, you have two duffle bags worth of bricks that you are, naturally, you are only going up one floor. Don't go to the back of a crowded elevator, so everyone gets knocked around like a Weeble when you have to rush to get off before the door closes. Conversely, if you are getting on at 1 and off at 6, get your sorry ass to the back of the car so people don't have to limbo around you to get off at their floor.
  8. When the door opens, don't ask, "Going up?" We have color coded lights above the elevators. When the door opens and the light is white, it is going up. When it is red (as in the color of hell), it is going down. Colors are not just for paint-by-numbers sets anymore...they actually can symbolically mean things! It might be too much of a metaphysical concept for you to grasp, but do try to keep up with the evolution of man.
  9. As you are exiting an elevator that only you are on, don't press all of the buttons as you leave to be a smart ass. Yes, there are actually full-grown adults who like to pull this prank. And yes, I want to punch them all in the throat.
  10. Finally, do your best to hold the door when you see someone coming. No one likes to have elevator doors slamming them in the face, especially if you are the drummer for Def Leppard and are carrying two duffle bags full of bricks with your feet.
"Fifth floor: Hosiery, neckties, and outrageous pantaloons! Please try not to be a dink!"

- Dim.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Grab the Knitting Needles...

...bust out that macrame'! A new, yet 0ld, Dim poetry corner is up. Chin up, little trouper. It's not as bad as it seems.

- Dim.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Join the Club

So, we were walking through the parking lot of our apartment complex today after playing tennis and I was struck by the abject shittiness of one car in particular. Every complex has one. I'm sure you've seen one before. Hell, for all I know you saw the exact one I saw.

It's usually an early-to-late 90s model K-car of some sort. Hubcaps missing. Some sort of "pleasant" odor producing contraption either fighting for attention with the fuzzy dice from the rearview or mounted, proudly and permanently, to the dashboard.

The exterior is in rough shape. It appears to, at one time, been some shade of matte blue, but now, not only has Rusty Jones left the building, he's a vindictive bastard and seemingly used a spray bottle to douse the car with sulfuric acid on his way out the door.

The bumper, half-falling off, is adorned with such stickers as "Motorcycles Are Everywhere!", "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" (in 1992...not shown), and "My Other Car is a Piece of Shit, Too".

A brief look at the upholstery reveals what must have been the battleground for the knife fight between Ralph Macchio and Leif Garrett, displaying more stuffing than one would see on Thanksgiving.

You know the car, right? Hell, for all I know, you OWN the car.

But here's where it gets weird.

I look inside and cradled awkwardly on the steering wheel, is this:

Minus the key, of course.

I immediately asked myself, "What self-aggrandising son of a bitch would put a CLUB on a piece of shit car like this?"

And then I look at the dashboard and get my answer:

The same self-aggrandising son of a bitch who really thinks this is going to drown out the stench of uncleaned gym gear, Drakkar, and the wrappers from countless filets-o-fish:

Anyway, I can't believe the owner of the car is afraid of it getting stolen. If I owned it, I'd leave the doors open and the keys in the ignition. And let's not forget...the Club will only protect the car if someone attempts to actually drive off in it. That self-installed FM/Cassette stereo which hasn't worked the same since it ate a pirated version of Aerosmith's "Pump" (gag!), is still fair game as is the various and sundry fillets-o-fish wrappers and King Shithead's crown (above), if the thief can get the industrial-strength adhesive off.

The Club.

Now, this was funny in Swingers, one because they lived in L.A. and they steal everything that isn't nailed down out there and two, because the movie took place in 1996 and a lot of cars didn't come with, uh, I dunno, ALARMS!

Truth be told, if your car isn't good enough for an alarm, it really isn't good enough for the Club either. And I know what you are whining..."But Diiiiimmmmm.....the fact that I don't have an alarm is precisely WHY I need a Club!"

And I only have one thing to say to that argument:

Shut up. Nobody likes a whiner.

My car has an alarm. OK, I admit car has a faux alarm. It is six years old and there is a light above the steering column that scoldingly blinks SECURITY while the car is unoccupied. This is apparently more intimidating than a fucking Club, because my insurance company actually allows me a minute discount for having a light flash in my car that does absolutely nothing else.

In fact, if someone were to try to steal my car, I'm convinced that my big, bad SECURITY light will run away, terrified, and a Judas-esque WELCOME, MR. GRAND THEFT AUTO, SIR light will take its place. In fact, I'm also convinced that after said thief feloniously takes my car, William Daniels' voice will flood the interior and announces that "Dim's registration, which has his home address, is cleverly stuffed between pages of the car manual, in case you feel like paying him a visit and stealing all of his other shit."

You know, now that I think of it, maybe that self-aggrandising son of a bitch is right. Maybe the Club IS the way to go. At least when KITT turns against me, I'll be able to smash its control module into oblivion with the friggin thing. Because I know that day is coming. And I'm gonna be ready.

- Dim.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A New Dim Light...


Grab the Kleenex.

Don't forget. This crap is old and sad. Mostly.

Enjoy. Well, the best you can...

- Dim
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