Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yappety Yap

Ye Gods and Pickled Catfish, somebody tear me away from the App Store! If you think that apps themselves can be a waste of time, can you imagine a more insidious drain on one’s life force than the addiction to browsing for them?

The thing is, you know going in that it’s going to be a time-waster! Once you get past the tried-and-true essential apps -- the Evernotes and the iBook readers and the like -- and into the badlands of more than half a million unfiltered apps all craving your attention, it’s pretty much obvious from a casual skim-through that most all of them are unnecessary, or knock-offs of better apps, or hack jobs, or all of the above. 

Of course, no sooner do you realize this and prepare to tear yourself away from the App Jungle when something catches your eye: that one-in-five-hundred application that either does something just really extraordinarily cool, or else adds a completely new layer of functionality to your phone or tablet and thereby opens up whole new vistas of possibilities for you.

In the latter category, for me, are Paper, LetterMPress (literally a complete letterpress printing outfit living in my iPad), and AnimationDesk, all of which are so good that they had me glued to the App Store for hours to see if I could find anything else as flat-out fantastic, anything else that would open similar doors in my mind. I didn’t. 

Failing at substance, I found style aplenty, too much aplenty. Don’t even get me started about the inventive and gorgeous games that go for as little as ninety-nine cents a whack -- in nothing flat you can fit yourself out with an arcade that would have made your nine-year old self go into a sugar coma.

My iPhone is now so tricked-out and pimped up with gimmickry that I want to grab people on the street and force them to look at it. There’s the clever little innocent-looking  steampunk calculator that’s actually a working Secret Recording Device. There’s the complete, fully-functioning set of carpenter’s tools (not that I do any building, but it is awfully cool). There’s the complete three-dimensional vintage penny arcade. And that’s just for starters.

I have apps to tell my fortune and apps to track ghosts. I have apps to draw and paint in and apps to journal in. I have a toy theater, a telegraph that will post Twitters in morse code, and a fully-functioning darkroom.  I can tell if it’s raining in Kookamonga, shoot a round of mini-golf and even tell you where the cheapest gas in town is. I can calculate that I have been sober for 43 days.

I have spent so much time diligently gathering all the tools that I could possibly need to do the work that I need and want to do, to reclaim the creative person that I used to be. I’ve got the biggest damn sandbox right here in front of me, with every color of sand you can imagine, and more tools to mold it than I know what to do with.

Instead, I keep going back to the blasted App Store. I keep hoping that the Magic Key is there, the Magic App that will unlock whatever it is that’s holding me back, that’s making an Avoider out of me. In fact, they even have apps that help me examine why and what I am Avoiding and do their best to help me stop -- well, step number one would be to stop using self-help apps, I guess...

They have these apps that work absolute magic, some of them; really, with the best of them it does seem almost like magic. If they have apps that can do all of those things, there must be one that can make me into the person that I want to be.

Or, to put it in the terms of a very old joke: five hundred thousand apps piled up in the Mac App Store alone. With that much manure, there’s just got to be a pony in there somewhere.

-- Freder. 

PS: Have you noticed? This blog is not using generic or “borrowed” graphics anymore. Everything you see here is authored by me, even the pitchers.

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