Of Penguins, TVs, Soldering Irons: A Love Story

At the height of my Lazy Unemployed Son-of-a-Bitch phase last year, I found myself engaged in various e-mail transactions with shady third parties across state lines, hoping to secure a (questionably legal) wireless gaming system in order to practice Dr. Mario all day, every day.

seething eyes of a cheap plastic penguinGaming system arrives, parcel post. I’m on my fifth cup of coffee and still in my houserobe. I hook it up. A silly-looking penguin houses the wireless sensor. Thing weighs about an ounce. I set him up near the TV. Plug him in. Penguin’s eyes blaze red, I’m in business. I do not move from my position on the floor for the next seventy-two hours. The phone rings from time to time. I lose track of seasons. I’ve a beard. I am in serious need of a shower. I get up. I notice the wall wart protruding from the power strip. It’s connected to the penguin. It’s in the way. I want to move the wall wart. Move the wall wart. I want to move the wall wart. Move the wall wart, plug it in, and play me. Who’s talking here. Those aren’t the droids you’re looking for. He can go about his business. Move along.

I move the wall wart to another power outlet.

The penguin’s eyes are dull. He does not burn for me.

seething eyes of a cheap plastic penguinAround this same time I’d spent days studying an MIT grad student’s blueprints of incredibly useful creations forged from the guts of gaming systems using solder, brains and little else. I own both a soldering gun and a solder-sucker. Not a problem. Piece of cake. Time to operate. Let’s do this. Penguin I am going to give you Lasik, motherfucker. Before the week is through your eyes will shine blood-red, burn with the seething hatred of third-eye blindness, red like the walls of the Sea of Reeds in Exodus, burn burn burn, burn a hole in my couch if they must but red they will burn and goddammit you will work and I goddammit will be sitting immobile on my ass playing Dr. Mario growing a beard for the foreseeable future. Done.

The ending of this story involves three operated-on gaming systems and a fried, less-than-a-year-old widescreen Sony HDTV requiring in-house repair [photo]. Truth be told, it’s not something I’m prepared to discuss at this time. Ask me in six months.

Penguins aside, learn from my mistakes and solder with the pros at machine project this Saturday:

Saturday afternoon at 1pm – episode 11 of Dorkbot Socal, a monthly
meeting for people interested in doing weird things with electricity.
This will be our second open hack event with a special bonus soldering
demo for beginners (free, supplies will be provided). This is a nice
opportunity to get help/advice on an electronics project and socialize with
other humans while risking mild electrical shock. If you have a
specific project that you need help with, bring it along and our semi-experts
will attempt to help. If you don’t have a project and just want to
check out what other people are doing that’s cool as well. Bring your
friends, bring your projects, and bring your questions! Free!


Also of note at machine project, Saturday:

Saturday night at 8pm – episode two of “You to can play difficult
music”. Liam Mooney and Thadeus Frazier-Reed present new works which
investigate drifting deviations, genetic algorithms, and hidden forms,
using an array of simple choices to create complexity and wonder.
Volunteers will get to play an adaptation of the electronic game SIMON, fiddle
with the live performance of an innocent cellist (April Guthrie), trace
the tolerance of consumer electronics, and manipulate the very forces
of nature towards unseen ends. Participants will be sternly warned to
keep all hazardous materials away from mouth and eyes. Enjoy!


Finally, for our hundred-dozen readers who dial in from Pomona, something to do after the church picnic this Sunday:

Sunday afternoon 3-5pm – Ryan Taber and Cheyenne Weaver. As part of
our ongoing show at the Pomona College Museum of Art, Ryan Taber and
Cheyenne Weaver have installed a sculpture in the process of transforming
itself from a raft, to a printing press, to a giant map cartouche.
Please join us at the Pomona College Museum of Art this Sunday, March 5th
from 3-5 pm for light snackery and to view the installation
mid-transformation. Directions >