User Unfriendly


With all the computer viruses that have gone around in recent months, I’m extra-glad to own an Apple computer. Not only are Apples generally immune to such things, but they also come in pretty colors.

I’ve feared e-mail viruses lately because of comments I made in my reviews of the Pokemon and Digimon movies to the effect that I think Japanese animation sucks and I hate it (I am paraphrasing). Specifically, the movement is stilted, the plots are confusing, and the voice-over work is apparently done by stammering robots.

This sort of talk angers anime fans, a passionate group whose devotion to their hobby is rivaled only by that of Trekkers and Hare Krishnas. Many of them expressed poorly spelled doubts regarding my intelligence, a few of them threatened bodily harm, and on one of their Internet message boards, they contemplated e-mailing me a virus.

Cooler heads prevailed, and the plan never went anywhere. But I think what they’re waiting for, really, is for me to turn from making fun of anime to making fun of anime FANS, which I am not going to do. I’ll let them continue living in their parents’ basements, discussing which imaginary female character they would most like to have sex with, and emerging into daylight only to get their new copy of Obsessive Loser magazine from the mailbox before waddling back to their computers, and I won’t make fun of them for it. Live and let live, that’s what I say.

Anyway, I love the Apple computers. I recently bought a new iMac, and I encountered only one problem with it: In an act of atheistic stubbornness, it refused to acknowledge the existence of my printer. My old iMac not only believed the printer existed, but in fact worked quite cooperatively with it. The new iMac, however, was more obstinate. I called it atheistic a minute ago; more accurately, it was agnostic, or perhaps dogmatic. It didn’t deny that there COULD be a printer; it just wouldn’t accept that the printer I was using was the correct one. As a result, it refused to even speak to the printer, possibly due to some age-old grudge the details to which I am not privy. (How could a true printer allow dot-matrix to exist in the world?)

I tried logic, I tried reasoning, I tried swearing — nothing could convince the new iMac that the printer existed. I even called the printer’s manufacturer on the phone, and a nice man there spent 45 minutes trying to reason with the iMac. We drew schematics and pie charts, demonstrating that as sure as the sun hangs in the sky, the Epson printer does indeed exist, and not merely because you can see it and touch it, but because I spent 200 freaking dollars on it, and this new hoity-toity iMac had darn well better start believing in its existence.

All of this was to no avail. Eventually, I had to buy a new printer, which the iMac accepted wholeheartedly, though I now harbor resentment toward the iMac, meliorated only by the fact that it has a DVD player. (I would love anything if it had a DVD player, including Genghis Khan.)

And so everything’s OK now, unless a computer virus comes along and ends this column just when I’m getting starte

Why does this column seem so short? Because it is. In the ongoing newspaper-world practice of favoring good looks over high quality, it was decided that "Snide Remarks" should be just long enough to run down the left-hand column of the page it appeared on and then stop (rather than going to the bottom, then "jumping" the last few inches to another page). This meant writing it about 250 words shorter than I'd been writing it. I argued that the column would be less funny in a shorter format, but the editor whose decision it was failed to understand my reasoning.

Fortunately, the editor above HIM, who really loved "Snide Remarks," said we might "revisit" the issue, which eventually meant we'd change it back to the way it was. For the time being, though, I made no secret of the fact that I could go on longer, were it not for the space constraints.

As predicted, the anime fans whose overreaction I was making fun of managed to overreact to this column, too. For background on the Snider-Anime War of 2000, read this column and its aftermath. The comments that were posted in response to the present column are archived here.