TUESDAY APRIL 11 2006
The Water Feature contractor came today. He’s the new guy. Just signed on to the team. Burly mofo, too. I think that’s his new name for the duration of this episode of contractor clusterfargery. (Boy, I’m not swearing as much as possible, eh? The Water Feature does that to me.) But he’s a genial guy, so I’ll call him G. Burlymofo. He took a look at the project, and since it’s hard to tell what’s wrong by looking at dirt and a pile of rocks, I filled him in on my suspicions: insufficient water in the lower tank, and /or a fatal leak somewhere. Keep in mind that the contractor told me a few weeks ago that his new guy pegged the problem without even examining the site: not enough water! Apparently that was a different new guy than G. Burleymofo, because he was agnostic on the issue of water volume.
He said he’d have it up and running the next day. I smiled and said he didn’t have to say that. Really.
“There’s no reason we can’t,” he said.
Sigh. I wanted to give him a volume I have in the archives downstairs, a book about Strange and Curious Things science can never explain.
First, "water feature" is the worst sort of jargonese. Like "plant material" and "thunderstorm activity" it doesn't even rate as jargon; it's hair-splitting done by professionals (landscape designers and teevee weather forecasters, respectively) who operate on the periphery of science but don't do any themselves. And it gets picked up via the tube, which for my money makes it worse than the incessant misuse of "parameter" we endured half a generation ago, which at least was based on misunderstanding what you read.
Second, aren't "water features" played out yet, even among habitués of Target? Don't get me wrong; I have a couple of friends with gorgeous outdoor fishponds, and we considered putting in one ourselves a decade ago before realizing there's nowhere on the property that gets enough sun. But good Lord, the casual viewer of HGTV has now seen 2,120 of the things installed, and there must be enough artificial waterfalls across American back yards to negatively effect salmon fishing.
I know, I know, kicking at Lileks is often akin to arguing with Andy Rooney, but here's the thing: Rooney, at least, is a genuine curmudgeon. His problem is he's about 50% shy of the needed intelligence to pull it off in public. And yes, I turned curmudgeon sometime before I got my driver's license. But you cannot do it while simultaneously enthusing about battery-operated toilet brushes or a child successfully coloring within the lines for once. The only time Lileks manages a convincing sneer is when he's talking shit about someone who works for a living.
Which is, I think, a metaphor for his other career. He's got new graphics on the site; lo and behold, it's a series of comically anachronistic Fifties era domestic illustrations. Stop, you're killing me.