28 August 2007

Durian Juice Sales are Thru the Roof!

Here's an actual posting from today's job offerings on craigslist.org. I hope none of us ever get this desperate.

Durian Juice Sales are Thru the Roof!

Date: 2007-08-27, 5:11PM MDT

The big money is always made by those that had foresight and took take action to get involved when a new product first gets launched. To catch the next big one: http://evans.michaeljonathandavolio.

  • Compensation: Based on effort
  • This is a part-time job.
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Phone calls about this job are ok.
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

27 August 2007

Burble, burble, burble

We camped at a fine spot by the river this past weekend, thanks to my pal's dad, who scouted locations and made sure we had the ideal setup. On Saturday, while everyone else hiked, I nursed my sore knee and sat in the river and read and wrote. I sunscreened up and shaded myself with an umbrella but soaked up some rays nonetheless. As I wrote, I giggled at the idea of the river talking to me, and answered, "Really? What?" The answers came: "Burble, burble, burble." Always the same, always different.

It was marvelous and relaxing to spend the weekend outside with my closest people -- this summer has reminded me how great being outside for nice, long stretches can be. My sweetie said he really wanted to make sure we got out more, and that's been a theme with my pal, too. Maybe I'll take my daughter to the Res today and we'll check out the boat rental options. I can even take a life vest that's just right for her now.

We'll just keep on appreciating summer while it lasts, because who knows what the rest of this year will bring. If you'll recall, as soon as fall turned to winter in late December, we were bombarded by blizzards. Then we had to shovel snow every day for some long stretches this winter. Spring was hot and lovely, with no late freeze to knock off blossoms and fruits here, but some freezes affected crops in Florida and on the western slope of the Rockies. August is usually parched-earth time here, but not this year. Usually the dry heat has bleached everything several shades lighter by now, from the leaves on the trees down to the blades of grass on the ground, but this year, we have had Arizona's August monsoons and the remnants of a tropical storm, and all our lawns are still lush a little longer than usual.

An aside: I have to admit that as often as not, when I'm not envying someone their perfect lawn, lawns remind me of a Muslim scholar's appalled reaction to the people in America he saw expending the kind of energy and fervor on their yards he believed more appropriately directed to Allah and service. It was enough to makes me say "hmmmm."

24 August 2007

Oh, the humanity!

Seeing this Crowded House appearance in the studios of Santa Monica's station KCRW stuck with me. It's not just the music but the talk that's memorable.

After the death of drummer Paul Hester a few years ago, Crowded House's other remaining musicians -- and Neil Finn's sons, Liam and Elroy, started picking up guitars and playing together. They felt good and decided to be Crowded House again.

I love the story Neil tells here (minute 17) about how Nick had sent out a terse text message putting a call out for a drummer; the next morning his text was quoted in a front-page story in the Melbourne city paper and they were subsequently swamped with thousands of applications. But they narrowed it down to auditions of 45 drummers in 5 cities in 10 days (!) and about midway through they liked Matt Sherrod in L.A.

So did we when we saw the re-formed band at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver. Sherrod (say sha-rod') has worked with another perfectionist, Beck, and it shows in his assured work. Here on this KCRW appearance we get another interesting story (well, Neil kind of makes him tell it): Matt's dad was a stuntman and Sherrod has fond but terrifying memories of his teenaged times spent with his dad teaching him to ride straddling two horses at once, also known as "riding Roman." Sherrod is happily stationery on the drummer's stool now, however, giving drive and power with beats that are supple and sophisticated, a nice fit for Crowded House's luscious catalog of songs. He's a pleasure to watch, too, as he's clearly digging on learning this entirely new river of music.

Neil's hissy fit when he couldn't pry his guitar pick out at the end of the third song was interesting, and some of the banter revealed the ego-jabbing, not-so-nice aspects of being in a band. Neil seems to like control, getting the last word in, being the smartest guy in the room. He gave himself an endearing bitch-slap at the end with his remark about "instant karma" catching up with him, but I bet he'd cringe if he saw parts of this performance again.

It's a pleasure seeing Elroy Finn here, btw -- I still have a shirt he signed for me when he was a little kid at the Fox Theatre one excellent night, and it's fun to imagine him off doing archaeology in Jordan with his pals.

I thought I might get emotional when I heard "Fall At Your Feet" here. I was feeling incredibly grateful to my husband for being there for me and incredibly sad about how I had earlier vanished so quickly that he couldn't give me help when I needed it. I had gotten tunnel vision and lost consciousness inside the theater and was helped outside by a medic. I couldn't even see properly again until my sweetie was right there next to me a minute or two later. I felt fine after cooling off and drinking a pint of water. I'd had a beer on not very much dinner and gotten overheated, I think. But I felt good again, happily relinquished my wristband, and then we went back to the show, which was great.

When we had gotten settled in a new, cooler spot next to the soundboard and under a vent, and my sweetie went up to tell our friends where we were, the memory of just before blacking out came back and I felt so sad at how vulnerable I had been. That's when the band played "Fall At Your Feet" and I just wept through it, in sadness and in gratitude to my sweetie, through the whole song. I still feel a little shocked by that whole sequence of events -- it was terrifying to lose control like that.

21 August 2007

The East Coast and all that that implies

This year for the first time I didn't feel like I was at home out east. It felt like a vacation place alone, and not a return to a refuge. (Although I did let myself indulge in a couple of moments of fantasy of grabbing up one of those $145 e-fares to Boston and holing up alone in a cottage somewhere to finish a few chapters or work out a knotty plot problem.)

Part of the difference came from staying in a different cottage. Through no fault of the perfectly lovely cottage we rented this year, this time we had no family connection to the place where we lived for three weeks. Every time we came and went we saw a heap of people and their bikes and towels in "our" cottage, the one my dad thinks of as "the Baringer cottage" although a Baringer hasn't owned it in the last ten years. Later, hearing my dad be able to joke about that name for that cottage with his aunt and uncle turned out to be a bright memory of the trip for me.

Talk, sunsets, those white, round shells I mistook for coins under the water, watching the tide come up the beaches, hearing new songs on the radio ("Ah, Mary" on WMVY), and knowing my way around made for wholesome and restorative vacation time. So did being with our friends who came out for the week. We went and heard a charming and proficient local band called Funk Salad at Nauset Beach and had a blast. The two martinis later put a nice cap and a dizzying spin on a very fun evening. (And I haven't felt any interest in repeating that experience since -- I always feel a little bruised the next day, you know, whether they are shaken or stirred.)

Being with my dad while he was learning about himself and his past was painful and a test of loyalties and keeping up appearances. It was a good thing, although I felt quite helpless to be of any aid except by just existing. I tried to remind him of an upside or two, like that he was trying to survive and that everyone in his family did survive -- which to him I realized later wasn't even close to true because his dad died two years ago, which he still doesn't feel is fair.

The thing that nags at me is that I'm seeing a trend in people of a certain age/health status losing the ability to look after themselves. They need more help. I'm seeing how on our own we are as we age. Perhaps even one person they can hand themselves over to on some crucial level and allow to look after them would make all the difference. But how do you help people find that? Especially people who are that cut off from others, like the fellow I rescued from his car? How do I help him from a thousand miles away?

But I love it here in these wide-open spaces. The little spot we've settled is precious to me; I love these trees and the fact that it's in the neighborhood where one of my best friends grew up yet I'd never in a million years have imagined I'd one day buy a house in that neighborhood. This year on Cape Cod I felt like if I'd grown up there I would be one of those people who couldn't wait to go west. I felt how much I love the wild enthusiasms of the west as opposed to the il n'est pas fait judgments, the old-guard reserve and wiles of the Europeans. I am so much more a child of the west, having spent my formative years in the thick of the forging of one of the last frontiers: the hippie movement.

Staying in Boston before I could feel my ancestors' feet on those bricks. This time, I felt my dad's family's presence but we saw a different view of the city and I didn't feel that homey feeling one bit. The apartments all looked to me like they'd be hot and cramped in the summer and dreadful in the winter, in a city of little warrens and caves and dens. If you're an underground sort I suppose it might appeal, but not so much to this sun-lovin' Coloradoan accustomed to her 300 days of sunshine each year (read that but hold the weeping over there on the East Coast -- there's enough rainfall on your coast already). All the crowds and the dreary winter weather seemed oppressive, not stimulating in the way of the Pacific Northwest's cafe culture.

By the end of our visit I couldn't wait to come home to my own yard, get away from that feeling like people were always wondering what my position was in the village, always testing to find me coming up short. Early on, I considered what it would take to become one of those people about whom they say, "I just couldn't imagine being there this summer without her!" and decided it would take an unnatural effort for me and dropped that idea. I wanted a vacation too, after all.

Yet somehow the talks and the hours in the sun in the gentle lapping waves of the bay, the little drives around when you connect more of the dots, the great books and movies and even TV shows, the comparisons of fried clams at multiple outlets of varying charms, the endless variations on the vacation house: all added up to a fine trip. This year, I didn't experience a feeling of returning to my roots nor even of upholding a grand tradition (although I do like that part, I admit). I just took a vacation.

And now... I'm baaaaack!

10 August 2007

OMG! What's with this Hollister business?

It started innocuously enough with a couple of tshirts bearing the moniker "Hollister." Then it was shopping bags. Then I noticed it was trendy as all hell among young people of a certain tender age. And I thought, what the ...?

Because when I lived in California, I spent five years in Santa Cruz, which wasn't too far of Hollister in the scheme of the larger state but in terms of culture it was worlds away. Hollister evoked lettuce and onion fields, carnivals and rodeos and the County Fair. Livestock, all the stuff that didn't happen so much in liberal, stoned, surfer's-mecca Santa Cruz (any given person was always at least one of those things).

I felt like I was going on a ride at Disneyland. It was like the line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride or for the restaurant, either guaranteed to complete the theme experience. When I walked inside the retailer's shuttered room into what felt like the inside of a boat perhaps, or a wooden chest stuffed full of thin, stretchy t-shirts in every configuration for young guys and gals.

The store answered my question when I looked into a lot of the stores at the mall and wondered aloud, "Where is everyone?" There are stores that are absolutely dead. There are stores that are sort of listlessly busy; they'll pick up when there's another good sale. But Hollister was jammed with people: teens, young college-age kids, their parents, and unstylish me (I would have gotten admiring glances if I'd been wearing my donkey gong t-shirt Leocadia made that I wore last night to the company picnic and got lots of compliments about, or if I had been wearing my hot-pink Where the Wild Things Are shirt, but no), both me and my kid outside the target age range for their products (although I did fix my gaze on one very cute top).

Later, I noticed that Abercrombie and Fitch has nearly identical dark shutters and this is a complete ripoff of their cutting-edge strategy. Thing is, it seems to be working. Now I have to ask whether they're all one thing. And my first few seconds with their Wikipedia entry confirms this!

It still strikes me as ironic that a town associated with earthquakes and fried artichokes is now the word on young shoppers' lists. That's marketing genius, turning that into giving the kids a way to project themselves back in time to a simpler notion of surfer dudes and bettys while giving the ones who think Abercrombie's too spendy or so last decade an obvious alternative (even if it seems a little too obvious). Simple stuff you wish you'd thought of first.

Speaking of which, the reason we were shopping in the first place was to find a rolling backpack for my kid. There are few options for the kid who must have something kidlike. I was willing to consider anything related, having seen the recent explosion in colorful luggage. But a wheelie, kid-friendly case was a tough item to find anywhere except the usual suspects: LL Bean, Lands End, and finally, Hanna Andersson. I thought: there's a great market. Design a simple, fun case for kids that they can sling over their shoulder or wheel as easily as they can pop the wheels out on their Heely shoes.