< Piro >
Tuesday - March 30, 2004
Two things before I get started here... first off, I'm holding in my hands the Dark Horse re-issue of Megatokyo Volume 1. Damn, this thing is so much nicer than the original version. The books have shipped and just have to work their way through the distribution chains to your favorite bookstores and comic specialty shops. So, all you people bidding on those last copies of Volume 1 on Ebay, you can stop now -- the re-issue is a lot nicer and only $9.95. Sheesh.
The second thing is just a small reminder that if you live in the Boston area, don't forget that I'll be giving a lecture at MIT this Thursday evening (april 1st) at 7pm.
Every once and a while I get an email or a random forum question that asks one of the "40 questions I get asked so much that the next person to ask gets beat to death with the Fan Appreciation Bat™." I've discovered that the more I stay up to date with the comic, the less of these I get, so there is a definite incentive for me to keep solidly to the 3 comic per week schedule. One of those questions is always "What happened to Largo's Cool Thing™" or "What exactly is Largo's Cool Thing™?"
The answer is, I don't think anyone really knows. The theory is that it is a extradimentional device that... well, I'll let you find out for yourself later in the story. Metaphorically, it's much easier to describe the idea behind the Cool Thing than what it might actually be.
Haven't you ever wanted something that was just... cool? Haven't you ever wanted some device or toy or thing that you have absolutely no real need for but the desire for it burns your soul until you can't take it anymore? You find yourself running out in the rain without a coat to get in your car just minutes before the store closes to buy one with the last bit of space on your credit card...
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has ever dealt with this moment of consumer driven insanity. The economies of industrialized countries depend heavily on this "Cool Thing Factor" to feed the bottom line. If consumers only purchased the things that we needed, I think the US economy would collapse, and all those credit card companies would go out of business. Think of all that money in excessive and draconian interest rates that these companies wouldn't be getting every month from us. How tragic. Imagine getting out of college with no credit card debt. How un-American.
But I digress. That's a whole 'nother rant.
I've had many "Cool Things" in my life. In fact, its kinda sad as I look back at all of the little purchasing obsessions I've had over the years. Ever spend months "researching" (aka "drooling over") something before that wonderful day comes when you place your order? Ever sit at work and hit the Fed Ex or UPS or Airborne website every half hour to track your package? Ever have have that YAY! moment when it comes up 'delivered' and you know that as soon as the work day is done (or before, depending on if you can sneak out early) you are gonna make a bee-line for the apartment complex front office to get your beloved package...
Yeah. Kinda sad, really. Maybe what's even more sad is that they are happy memories. I mean, I remember the first time I opened that box that had my new 23" Apple Cinema Display in it. I remember oogling over the cords and connectors and how nice they are. How sad does a person have to be to oogle over a cable? Sheesh.
The "Cool Thing Factor" doesn't always result in a purchase, of course. In fact, most of the time either the factor isn't strong enough to push you into the "Purchase zone" or the cost is far beyond your ability to raise and you find that your blood plasma isn't worth as much as you thought. Often, you just move on to a new "Cool Thing" to research and you look back, wondering just why in the world you wanted the previous item as bad as you did.
"Cool Things™" actually fall into two categories. Things like my Apple Cinema Display are 'usable items' - things that you still use after the initial glow wears off and you stop wiping it down with a dust cloth every 10 minutes. Those kind of "Cool Thing" purchases most of us can justify to some extent in the end -- Sure, I could get buy with something less, but it is still useful. A true and pure "Cool Thing™" is something that has no real use or purpose in your life, and there is nothing you can do to justify it's purchase beyond its pure "Cool Thingieness™"
One such item for me the Ipod. I don't know why I want one of the damn things. I work at home, I'm always in front of a computer, I have a nice set of speakers and music is always playing (I don't need to use headphones much, Seraphim is very tolerant :) and besides, I usually listen to streaming audio radio stations. Why on god's green earth do I need an Ipod? Worse yet, I have this little twitch that almost makes me want a MINI Ipod! There is no logic here. For what they cost, you have to USE the damn thing, right? So why is IpodLounge bookmarked on my toolbar?
Maybe the point about cool things is that there is some kinda weird primitive thing in our brains that the logical side of our heads can't quantify. It's probably the same part of the brain that made early man oogle of bright and shiny things. I don't think Largo really knows what his Cool Thing does or what it really is. It doesn't really matter. It's Cool, it's a thing, and he had to have it. Now I just have to keep quelling my own struggles with the "Cool Thing Factor". Wish me luck.
(the image linked above was crafted by "the peacemaker" and had been posted in the forums - pretty sweet rendering, isnt it?)