Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ode on a Grecian Fonzarelli

Love Is Not a Fight - Warren Barfield (mp3)
La La Love You - Pixies (mp3)

My iPod died yesterday.

It was a clinical death, technically speaking. Time of death: 12:04 p.m. I was walking back to our house after a walk-through the dormitory, and I had scrolled to hear the theme song to "Rescue Me," otherwise known as "C'mon C'mon" by the Von Bondies, and when I pushed play, the thing just went paralytic on me.

I didn't even notice right away. Pushed play, kept walking, and realized several seconds later that no sound was flowing from my glorious machine, up through those heavenly small cords, and directly into my eardrums. Once I did notice, I tinkered, still not yet panicked. iPods can, on occasion, glitch out for a second. They'll freeze, or they'll lose themselves in a song, or whatever. So I tried the scroll wheel, and I tried all those little stupid standard things people do with small machines at moments like this.

When none of that worked, I did the Menu/Select double-tap -- a dance any long-time iPod Classic (or any other scroll wheel version) owner knows all too well. And when I did this, at first the Apple logo came up, and then, after that, an image I'd never before seen: The Red Circle X.

Upon seeing The Red Circle X, several expletives emerged from my vocal chords and out into the atmosphere around me, because I knew my iPod was summarily FUBAR.

Trying to maintain composure, I rushed back into the house as if I were carrying my own child back in from having discovered him or her drowning in a backyard swimming pool. The iPod was cradled lovingly in the palm of my hand, and my bottom lip trembled at the thought that My Precious might have died in so unceremonious a fashion. "No no no no don't do this to me," or something to that effect.

I gently laid it next to my mouse and began Googling with urgency. Images of Superman flying around the earth to reverse its rotation to save Lois Lane from suffocating in that miniaturized landslide inside that toy car flew through my brain. "iPod red circle x" I typed, and began the line-after-line clicking to find any and all possible solutions. I could rebuild it. Make it stronger, faster...

The main Apple site advised a series of actions, mostly centered around the "reset," or the Menu/Select act. The reset is to the iPod what defibrilators are to a human heart. I crashed the paddles once, twice, five times. Each time that damned Red Circle X popped up. I began trying more serious measures, all with the same nothingness in return. Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker!

Stuck in a serious stage of denial, I began to blame the Von Bondies and their stupid awful terrible song. Why the hell did I want to listen to that song? I've got almost 7,000 songs on my iPod for God's sake! Why why why that one?!?! Something as simple as a poor choice of musical preference could prove catastrophic.

I brought God into the mix. Totally serious here. I hardly ever pray, because my particular off-brand of Christian faith isn't particularly obsessed with the traditional prayer routine. But the thought of losing my iPod for any stretch of time was too much to bear. I had dorm duty last night, Jesus! Don't leave me in there alone without my iPod!

Why are you smiling? Why do you think I'm joking? Am I a clown to you? You people don't understand.

That iPod never leaves me. In the past eight or so years, I have not gone anywhere, done anything, at any time, when an iPod was not easily within reach. About four nights a week, I put it on 30-minute sleep timer and play it while I fall asleep. I play it in my office. I play it through a "jam box" (heh... I just used the words "jam box" in 2009...) when I'm in the shower. It plays when I'm on the scooter or in the car. I strap it to my hip when I'm making sweet sweet love. OK, maybe the emotional strain got to me a little on that last one. I've gotta learn to keep those to myself.

In SAT terminology, iPod : Billy :: E.T. : Elliot. I was dying right there with it.

Just as I was about to give up all hope and leave my precious sidekick for dead, I had a flash. Everytime I reset my iPod, it would click, but I couldn't hear the hard drive spin inside its beautiful aluminum casing. Maybe it was stuck. Maybe something inside that machine had lodged in a place it didn't belong.

So I slammed my fist down onto the face of My Precious. Were one to have observed this act, one could have construed it as an act of anger, of unbridled rage. I submit to you this was not the case. It was the act of any number of movie protagonists pounding desperately on a thought-dead lover's or friend's chest, screaming "Breathe, dammit! Breathe!!" It was the act of the Fonz, a.k.a. the Fonzie, a.k.a. Arthur Fonzarelli, hitting the side of Arnold's jukebox with his fist.

Sometimes, the only way to fix something is to hit it. My iPod spun back into life. I am once again whole.

Thank you Fonzie. You have once again shown me the path to enlightenment.

Both of these tunes and bands can be found on and iTunes. At least, I'm pretty sure.


Ralph Malph said...

Just one question? When you "Fonzed" the i-pod back to life did twins in poodle skirts emerge from no-where?

Bob said...

Beery, not to rain on your parade, but as one who has been there, it sounds like the beginning of the end. Enjoy it while it works.

Billy said...

Bob, I know. I realize that all I really did was put it back in "serious but stable" condition. But all I can do at this point is rage, rage against the dying of the light. And hit the damn thing when necessary.

The Big Nichols said...

Might be worth you paying the $15 for one of those music extraction programs that will pull everything off and put it on your HD. I did that w/ my old one, and it was well worth it. Saved me a lot of time and heartache, especially since I didn't own a lot of the tunes I had on there.

Jump the shark...

troutking said...

Fonzie? I always had you pegged as more of a Ralph Malph type.

AndersonEvans said...

I can't relate to you, for my iPod Touch truly is dead. I wanted the sun Billy, and it scorched me. The hackers seemed so sure of themselves, and I said to myself, "I can install Ubuntu Linux on my Hewlett-P, surely I can jailbreak this iPod, show Steve Jobs the blue collars are capable of deciding what goes on our iPods without his sick corporate deal with the makers of Monkeyball."

I'd heard about this really controversial NES version port of Rampage cooked up by some guy calling himself "Lizzie," and I wanted to be a part of it. I paid dearly. The jailbreaking software was too complicated, and for my lack of skill my reward is never to know what it might be like to play Rampage, the 1980s Godzilla/King Kong/GiantWolfGuy Simulator, with a touch-screen.

I took the iPod Touch my grandmother had given up her operation to pay for to every Apple Store in NYC and these acne ridden kids with fauhawx and neon t-shirts told me there was nothing they could do. Genius bar my ass, there wasn't even any booze!

My commute isn't so bad though. I sit on the subway and listen to nothing but the sounds of the homeless schizophrenic man telling me about women with spiders for genitalia... which surprisingly enough doesn't really lessen the effect the Pynchon novels are having on my psyche... I just reread those statements and I realize that I'm going to have to just go ahead and buy the Shuffle. I know I KNOW it doesn't even have a screen, I'm going to have to live with that ok? So get off your high horse, keep listening to your Dennis Leary playlists, and I'll try to fit one Harry Nilsson album on a little silver square that I can afford with a booksellers salary. Good day sir. I said, good day.

T.R. said...

I can feel your pain, I had a Mini go down in a ball of flames, and now I too am tied umbilically to my iPod Classic. Without it, I would get nothing done, or be able to drive anywhere. Here is to hoping I never play the Von Bondies, and never see the red circleX of death.

Alex Forest said...

Are you sure that this near death experience was not attempted murder? Maybe the Mrs. is tired of making sweet,sweet love with a sound track. Maybe your colleagues are tired of trying to compete for your attention. Maybe it is a conspiracy.