Tuesday, May 17, 2005

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum.”

The Movie: They Live, 1988 (John Carpenter, screenwriter and director, from a short story by Ray Nelson)
Who says it: Rowdy Roddy Piper as Nada, a construction worker whose sunglasses give him the power to see aliens among us.
The context: Nada prepares to make some aliens feel unwelcome.
How to use it: When you’re out of bubblegum, but still have a job to do.

Today's quotation is proof that I do sometimes like movies that my brother Ed recommends. They Live is bizarre, surreal, unintentionally hilarious and highly, highly recommended, especially very late at night when your brain is not functioning at full capacity.

This morning I am pondering the uselessness of trying to be ecologically aware. Yesterday, I ran out of printer ink and needed some file folders, so went to Staples for all my home-office needs.

Across from the ink cartridges was a display with a sign: "Refill your ink cartridges for a fraction of the price!" According to this display, rather than spend $40 on a new color cartridge, I could spend $14 for refills that would give me the equivalent of up to five new cartridges!

Well... well... I've always been that kind of girl. Not only would it save me money, but it appealed to my sense of adventure and promised to feed my continuing delusions of self-reliance. Thoreau would not buy some pre-fab color ink cartridge; he would refill his own, and probably even make his own ink from walnut shells and the scrapings of boiled spinach leaves.

So I bought the refill kit.

Doubts about its ecological value set in immediately, because I couldn't help but notice that this package included four glass bottles plus a plastic syringe, as opposed to one foil-wrapped cartridge if I did things the usual way.

Following instructions, I laid newspaper on my work surface in case of spillage -- because with me, there's always spillage. I used my Swiss Army knife to pry off the top of the color ink cartridge, jabbing my left index finger in the process (the directions said "carefully," but do I look like a sissy?). I used the plastic syringe to inject each section of the cartridge with the matching color of ink: magenta, yellow, cyan. In between, I used the "cartridge flushing solution" (by the smell, rubbing alcohol dyed pink) to clean the syringe.

I replaced the top of the cartridge, put the cartridge back in the printer, and hit "print" on a brightly-colored program agenda one of my clients had just sent me. And... and... and...

And nothing. The cartridge isn't working at ALL. I took it out, shook it. No change.

If Staples weren't a half-hour drive for me, I'd box it all up and take it back for a refund. As it is, I'm worried about the environmental impact of just throwing these chemicals away. The cartridges, at least, can be recycled at the post office.

I'd like to say, "Next time I'll know better," but the sad thing is, that probably isn't true.


Anonymous said...

I feel vindicated _and_ pilloried. Good job, sis. You managed to say I have good taste in bad movies. In my defense, I am almost never out of bubblegum or rears to kick. Or is that windmills to tilt at?

Thanks for including one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies. Also, _They Live_ is a John Carpenter (_Escape from New York_, _Escape from L.A._, _Big Trouble in Little China_, and most of the _Halloweens_) movie, so I'd argue that the humor in it is very intentional.

Other 3 am movies I'd suggest include _The Rundown_, _Dirty Work_, and _Predator_. I ain't got time to bleed, so I'll stop here.


Anonymous said...

And Thoreau would have built his own computer out of wooden beads, wire and a wood frame too!