The Vortex of Audio Horror

When I was a kid I liked a comic book about a muscular guy in the year 4000 who wore a, well, “tunic”.  Kind of homoerotic, but my sexuality was ambiguous when I was eight.  Magnus, Robot Fighter was an orphan raised by a kindly sort of Zen robot to be able to break steel with his bare hands.  He needed to do this because humanity was being taken over by evil robots run by a mega-corporation, and people needed a champion.  Magnus would Karate-chop the robots in the neck and they would go “SQUEEEE!”, indicating they would no longer operate and trouble us.  Pretty macho stuff, huh?  I needed to click into some of that man vs. tech energy in order to face cleaning out some of the awful abandoned technological garbage waiting for me in THE VORTEX.

Hmm.  I have a lot of CDs that have not been shelved.  The racks are just inside the storage room.  Oh well…

Looks safe enough from here.


As soon as I had opened the door, I knew I had been ambushed.  The cables coiled, hissing like snakes.  Mice, power cords, obsolete peripherals and manuals for items long discarded lunged at me.

Extension cords, RCA cables, power strips, phone plugs, mic cables.  They wound around my feet and ankles.  I was a ship, floundering in a Sargasso Sea of wire and plastic.

The boxes of adapters were laughing at me!  “What’s your next project, Mikey?  You gonna try and hook your headphones to hell? Ah-HA Ha hahahaaa!”

I couldn’t breathe.  I grew dizzy.  I looked around in desperation to the only organized area, the transfer station I’ve begun setting up to digitize boxes of less-favored records.  That calmed me down enough to catch my breath and bolt back out of the room.

Once upon a time you could just plug in a TV, adjust the antenna and get a program like magic through the air.  Those days are gone.  It took me a month to hook up the TV monitor, the DVD/CD player, the DSL router, and the satellite box to the A/V receiver for the 5.1 speaker system.  First I had to read the dictionary-sized manual that came with the equipment.  When that failed, I borrowed a teenager.  Between the two of us, we figured it out and did the calibration.  I still haven’t hooked in the VHS, or the phonograph.  Maybe I won’t.  I may give up and move away from those formats.  I haven’t even begun considering what to do with the cassette player, the DAT machine (digital stereo tape cassettes), and DA-88 (digital 8-track recordings).

I don’t have enough free time to enjoy all the movies and show episodes I record to the dual-tuner PVR as it is.  Between what we have in iTunes on the computers and the digital music channels on satellite, I can already access more music than I will ever be able to absorb or appreciate.  The time would be better spent singing and playing guitar.

It’s so beautiful outside in spring.  I’m glad I stopped to look, think and write.  It isn’t so simple to simplify when you have been as immersed in tech as I have.  It will take time.  I will take the time.


Filed under humor, Technology, Television

43 responses to “The Vortex of Audio Horror

  1. That room looks just like a room in my father-in-law’s house. His particular addiction is computers. Every time somebody he knows upgrades, the old computer goes in his room. Or the attic. Or the garage. His wife is nonplussed.

    Good luck with the simplification process.

  2. I’m amazed how infested that room is after only less than a year of living there, right? Thanks for an amusing post. Now then, I believe this is a carrot sticking out of your coffee mug. The eye boggles. Tell me this is not a carrot sticking out of your coffee mug.

    • I’ve been amassing audio equipment for at least 40 years. After several purges, I still have waaay too much. What’s pictured in the room now was after I got rid of 9 boxes worth. I’ll just have to keep chopping down those robots.

      It is a carrot in the last photo, but the coffee mug is full of tomato juice. I insist upon both eating better AND acting like Bugs Bunny while doing it.

      “eeehhh, (crunch, crunch) Tanks fer readin’, doc.”

  3. ahh the carrot and tomato juice, is because of your new desire to live healthier. The pic did baffle me though. Im glad someone else asked the question.
    My brothers room looks just like that with patch cords everywhere. But they hang on hooks. Your space looks rather well organized to me. Enjoy your sunshine and fresh air. 🙂

    • Yes, indeed. I’m sticking to the newer, rawer way of eating. We love organized space, with minimal furniture and possessions, but we are still struggling to achieve it. The bottom floor of the house is great, where bedrooms, kitchen and living room are, along with those wonderful windows. The 2-sided loft upstairs is attracting all the clutter. That’s divided into my wife’s workspace (big desk, tons of shelves) on one side, and the “man nest” with the entertainment system and vortex on the other side. I have those hooks and racks for cables, but they are somewhere buried under the cables themselves. I’ll have to keep chopping away at the piles. The last photo is by the upstairs “reading/writing” spot (with window) on her side of the loft. I often blog from there.

  4. Wayne Green

    lol. looks like the contents of my kitchen drawer. It seems no matter where I live there is always one drawer that will accumulate wires, batteries, screwdrivers, headache tablets, sticky tape, non working pens, screws and other such related stuff :D. Still you can never have to many connectors 😀

    • If you can’t walk in the room, you have too many connectors. I have about five times too many. And now that I’ve examined it, I’m beginning to think keeping all these obsolete machines and content formats is a bit loony. But, you are certainly spot on about junk drawers. Mine’s the center top one of the dresser in the guest bedroom.

  5. Woman

    Hummm… those cords and power bars look oddly familiar…

  6. I’m utterly speechless. So different from the pics of your lovely serene loungeroom!

    What I look forward to is the day when we can do away with cords and wires and cables altogether. We have technologies, so maybe one day soon.

    Moving the nest under my desk to clean is a nightmare.

    • I expect I’ll be dead before we can live cable-free. People assume that the term “wireless” is accurate, but full-size wireless speakers still have to be plugged in, and whatever transmits to them has to be plugged in, and everything rechargeable has to have a plug-in charger, and all the stuff has to get hooked up to a central distribution point such as a receiver/amplifier. Batteries are getting better and lighter all the time, but they remain extremely toxic and hard to dispose of when they wear out. Power and fuel issues is a whole ‘nother post, but thanks for giving me pause to think about it, Robyn.

  7. Squeeee! I enjoyed this. Strangely enough you seem to have enough time to write articles for you blog which, by the way, has enjoyed a nice face-lift. Glad you’re getting visible…somewhat 🙂

    • I’ve only ever known him to be this visible? Was he different before?

      • It’s the “slow reveal”, something I learned from Sally Rand. Jollof and I have run into each other on and off since my earliest posts. When I began blogging I was resistant to offering any kind of personal detail. Eventually I understood that since we learn by our experiences, telling stories about mine would better explain my opinions. So, I’m now more visible, even if you don’t see my face.

    • I quit the second job, and now work 30 hours a week. One reason was the desire to write more. Nice to “see” you too!

      (This lovely, wacky Nigerian writes a hilarious blog. Because they are so often subject to shaky economies, disease and loonies in government, Africans have a remarkable, resilient sense of humor.)

  8. We got a new TV and sound system one year ago, and it literally has taken me a year to get all the cables figured out. Actually, to be honest, I still have a couple things I can’t figure out.

    • Get yourself a teenager. Preferably of the geek or nerd variety. They never give up. Back when I did mixing and editing for films, they had full-time guys who set up the rooms and hooked up all the gear. All I had at home was stereo. This is my first 5.1 setup, though I have had a 720p wide-screen TV for years.

      • My kids are pretty close to the point where they’ll be able to help me with this stuff. They’re already teaching me video games I don’t understand.

      • LittleBro

        Daughter T has a fancy new TV. But only a little assortment of crappy stereo bits. So I gave her my Marantz amp that is older than she is, as well as some other gear, and hooked everything up recently.

        Except for the TV. I had to buy a fancy (read: costly) adapter box and optical cable in order to translate her digital TV audio output into the ancient analog audio input on the amp.

        But it worked. My old A-V Nerd skills came in handy again – a young-‘un (granted, she’s well past “teenager”) turned to an ol’ fart to get things to work, and there was success. I wonder if she only asked me to do that for the sake of my grandfatherly ego?

        • Maybe. That, and we work cheap. To be entirely honest and violate the 4th text wall, I also enjoy using the system now that it is hooked up. It’s much harder to leave that room to enter a room full o’ crap.

  9. Best keep your surge protectors, mice, and a spare keyboard. all of those are liable to wear out. Funny as all get out though.

    • You are quite right, Lisa, however I think 23 extra surge protectors and 9 spare mice is excessive. I don’t need a spare keyboard. I have two entire spare computer systems, a laptop and a tower. They still work. They just aren’t as zippy and cool as our new Macs. I blogged for my first six months from the old Compaq laptop. (Windows belong in houses, not in computers.)

      • I love Windows (esp. since I haven’t used anything else) I have a Compaq desktop I’ve had now almost 8 years and my netbook has windows 7 which is just like heaven (I personally have never been to heaven, but I’m sure it’s on or about right)

  10. I actually know people who don’t have a computer and don’t use a cell phone. Amazingly, they function successfully in the world.

    My life has gotten simpler as technology advances because I just can’t keep up. I watch less TV now because I don’t know how to record shows to watch later. I don’t take photos anymore because I don’t know how to get the photos from the camera to the computer. I have a cell phone, but that’s all it is–a phone. If this keeps up, I will end up spending my days in the garden watching for hummingbirds. Hmm. That doesn’t sound so bad.

    • Sounds delightful to me. I expect to follow a similar path gradually. I came to computers rather late compared to my geek friends, being in my mid-thirties when I got my first one, but I love ’em. They make it easy to manipulate sound and to compose and store music. The entertainment system was almost an afterthought. I felt it would be nice to be able to hear the surround sound remixes I had made for classic films at home.

  11. Well, the leftovers and spare parts isn’t much different from, say, 50 years ago. It’s funny how as everything becomes more compact we end up with just as much if not more “stuff” 🙂

  12. Dude, your window sill is a work of art. Nothing else matters.

    On a side note, I had every issue of MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER for years. In fact, till just a couple of weeks ago. Now my Young Daughter’s Boyfriend has them. If I find out they’re worth something I’m gonna be sooo pissed….

    • You are quite right about the windows, and the show I can see through them.

      Out of curiosity, I looked up the trading values for original copies of Magnus. Near mint copies of the Gold Key ones go for around $175. Very fine, for about $50. The Valiant series from the 90s only cost $5. Reprints are as good as originals to me. I just read them. They aren’t an investment. The only traditional collectibles I had were coins and stamps, but those collections were stolen when I was in my 20s and I never went back to collecting anything except films and music that I happen to like. And audio doodads, which I did from a severe lack of focus.

  13. I just want you to know that I hate wires and cables of any kind. I went into full bitchfest mode when I saw those pictures. That is what Hubby’s corner in the basement looks like. Yes, he only gets a corner…in the basement. Needless to say, I just flew into bitch mode when I saw your pictures. I was about to karate your neck except I can’t see it…because you’re invisible.
    P.S.: I’m pretty sure that comic book falls under gay porn. Not there’s anything wrong with that.

  14. I’m not kidding, cables and adapters and wires scare me like you wouldn’t believe. I haven’t watched a movie in months because I’m too scared to set up the DVD player.

    I love the comic book! At least he wasn’t wearing a dickie…:)

  15. I super-heart that you have DA-88 recordings. Mine, along with my two reels of 2″ tape, were lost in a bad relationship.

    • Not only the recordings, but I have the machine too! I have no idea where I’m gonna put it, or the rack it’s in. At one time I was going to build a home studio. I think I used the machine twice. I was always using the ones at work instead. I have 1/4″, 1″ and 2″ analog tapes, from various studio sessions over the years. I’m drowning in recordings of little interest to anyone but me. I should probably just wipe them, since getting them transferred is such a pain.

      I’m sorry for your loss, but dating knob jocks is almost as risky as dating drummers. I am glad you stopped by to tell me, though.

  16. I think you may need Magnus to protect you from some of the things that may lurk in there!

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