The Electric Creature of Prague

I’m looking around right now, assessing what it’s going to take to smallify my life back down to suitcase-size before my hosts return tomorrow, jet-lag weary, suitcases of their own in tow, ready to party. There’s not much actual cleaning to do; I’ve managed to stay on top of that. All the plants are still alive, which is good, but the table here and one corner of the room look like nests for some sort of beer-fueled electric creature. The nests are lined with cables and stray electronic devices, and are decorated with empty beer bottles. The beast is out somewhere right now, probably foraging behind electronic shops or perhaps on a beer run.

When the creature first began to haunt the streets of the city I imagine it may have raised a couple of eyebrows, but Prague is a live-and-let-live kind of place, and after a while this machine would just be part of the local color. In Japan, they would worry that the machine would eat too much and grow to monstrous proportions, and that it would then—in clumsiness or malice, it doesn’t matter which—destroy the city. In America they would kidnap the thing and take it to a secret facility deep under the windswept desert, where they would attempt to torture its secrets out of it. The creature would flash friendly messages on its flickering CRT face and would weep as it came to understand the cruelty of man, touching the hearts of the only two scientists in the facility who still had souls, who would then have sex.

Here in Prague, the creature is free to walk about, if walking is what it actually does, and people greet it with a polite Dobry Den. I don’t imagine it likes the rain too much. There’s probably an Internet café nearby that doesn’t mind it hanging around while the weather is bad. I imagine it makes itself useful helping customers access their email and in return is allowed to plug in and hang out, talking tech stuff with the staff, sipping pivo and snacking on electronics slated for recycling.

Its nest is here, though. Sometimes at night I can hear it coming and going, but overall it’s a good roommate, if a little sloppy. I’m not sure where it’s going to live when I clean up tomorrow. I suppose I should at least send it an email warning it what’s going to happen.

Music I can’t write to

I was sitting, staring at the work I should have been editing, and I was humming “Anesthesia” by Brenda Kahn. Why hum it when I can play it? I fired up Epiphany in Brooklyn and until it’s done I won’t be getting anything creative done. In the pauses between songs a thought or an idea might sneak in, but as soon as the words start I’m there in the scenes she paints with her words, an impressionistic sketch of a lonely landscape filled with lost people. In only a few words she builds whole people. Of course, all the detail comes from my own imagination, which is what makes it so powerful.

The same thing happened a couple of days ago with Tom Waits. I rationalize indulging in these pleasures when I should be working by telling myself that it’s emotional food I’m eating, that I can digest and turn into… uh, I think I’ll leave the metaphor there.

Often, you can tell if I’m being productive at the moment by looking at the the “Now Playing” section over somewhere to the right. The better the songwriter, the less productive I am at that moment. (Of course, just because I’m playing music doesn’t mean I’m writing at all, and if I’ve gone to a bar to write that section won’t update at all.) I’ve turned to Internet Radio lately to enhance my productivity; there are stations that play forgettable ambient electronica 24 hours a day. It’s nice, but it doesn’t get into the verbal part of my head. I’ll be switching over to that – after I play through this album a second time.