Thursday, August 30, 2007

Husbands, Wives, Cell Phones

A cousin from the Old Country passed this along to me. She's female and a wife, so no nasty comments about misogyny or marriage, please.

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In the House & Home section of today's NYT, there was a short blurb about a Book Stool. Available at Conran's, these "stools" consist of paper, books, possibly even fabric or blankets (that you have lying around causing much domestic misery) and two cotton/nylon straps with the plastic connecting pieces you see on backpacks. You provide the material to be strapped and Conran will provide you, for a hefty fee of $39.00 (excluding delivery) two 88 1/2 inch pieces of cotton/nylon straps.

This is killing multiple birds with 2 straps. Those books, newspapers, and magazines that have been a thorn in your ever-loving spouse's(ELS) side can now be turned into something truly useful. YEs, another place to sit one's carcass on. Why, you can finally have that 12 place dining set you've been mulling over for the past 23 years. If I play my cards right...hmmmmm, let me do some cipherin' here.

12 stools.
$39 each.
That's $468, about the price of 2 decent chairs or one exquisite chair.

O.K., if I can convince the ELS that rustic/rural is in this year, I can substitute 12 of these for one of this, saving roughly $466. If I start her off with the price of one exquisite chair @ $468 or $5,616 for twelve chairs and then negotiate down to 12 decent chairs @ $2,808 for a dozen (because I am, after all, a reasonable man), my "savings" would increase from the initial $466 to a whopping $2,806.

You know where I'm going with these savings, right?
That's right! To the nearest brick 'n mortar or Internet bookstore, since I'll be needing more filling material for these book stools! So, I'll be decorating and accumulating at the same time (and that's even taking into account the insualting I'll be indirectly doing by accumulating additional books).

Hey, Gwynne, this is how you CPA's do your cipherin' when you're about to tell a client how much you saved them, right? Think there's a future for me in the post-Enron accounting world?

I'm waiting for the CD version of these Book Stools. Sittin' on CD's. Sound good? Let me get to cipherin' that possibility.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Getting the Once-Over

I'm not sure at what age I was when it first happened, but I know that when the "warmies" were shooting through my nerves (as opposed to the chills) when I was the recipient of the once-over for my attitude/mind/personality rather than for my physical appearance, I could be finally classified as mature. Or, maybe just clingy/desperate for any signs of attention. It's a "thin line"-"coin flip" sort of thing, isn't it?

In a electronics super store recently, I was just such a recipient of a positive personality once-over. It had been a while, so it was a most welcome trip back to that land of perceived coolness, even though it was only a 10 minute visa I was traveling on.

It was this past Tuesday that I was combing through the aisles looking for Talib Kweli's new CD, Ear Drum. Tuesday being the industry release date for all new recordings, it wasn't a surprise to see other folks searching for their artist's new release as well. This particular retail establishment uses the $9.99 CD price to lure in buyers so that they spend additional bucks on items they'd had no earlier intention of procuring. So, while the price of the CD is low, the trick is finding the CD's as their filing system is burdened with no logical scheme. Temporary tag-teams are formed by mutually interested consumers. I was parked in the pseudo-Rap aisle which was intermingled with the Country selection. Somebody was using Ray Charles' broad musical sweep as their guidelines for this layout, I assume. After seeing an equally frustrated CD-seeker perusing the bins, I sidled up to her.
Old Fart (Medium height white guy with graying hair (whiter than usual due to minimal beach visits): "Excuse me, who are you looking for?"
She (Medium height athletic African-American woman in very stylish nurse's uniform, max. age of 30, equipped with finely manicured hands that she could, if she wanted to put 2 fingers together, snap me out of existence with a simple move): "Oh, it's an artist who just released a new Cd, Ear Drum"
OF: "Oh, you mean Talib Kweli's new album."
She (Shooting me that welcomed once-over): "Hmmm, why yes. I've looked over in the "K"s.."
OF: " too and then I looked in the "T"s as well, cuz you..."
She: "...never know how they file things.."
All Together now: "Here!!

So, with minimal talk, we split off to different parts of the store in search of the same thing. She ended up asking that rare species of mankind, a knowledgeable sale clerk, who grunted and gestured toward a general direction in the bowels of the store (N.B.: This same layout logic applies to the location of milk, butter, bread, p' butter and jam in a grocery store. You have to run a gauntlet of purchase temptations before reaching your initial desired item). I was still applying my quick-fingering skills in the regular CD racks when she came by with 2 copies. She handed me one with another approving musical choice once-over. I thanked her. For the CD. Thanking her for the older-guy-once-over would have negated all of the poz from the look. I then hauled my newly charged personality and CD over to the register.
Clerk (In auto-play mode): "Find everything you were looking for?"
OL (Offering more information than Clerk really wanted, so a "Do I Give a S_ _ _?" flag was being raised as I said.."): "Oh, yes. Found much more than expected. It's been a good day in retail land."

So, off to listen to Mr. Kweli and also Galactic's latest release , which just arrived in the mail. Very interesting combination, as Galactic's new effort, From the Corner to the Block, was done jointly with quite a few hip-hop and rap artists. A review, of sorts, will follow shortly.

As will some blurbs about another visit to that fantastic place in western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

Here's a great recent interview of Mr. Kweli on Studio 360 by Kurt Anderson.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reasons for Reading

From Neurology, in research-speak, it was noted that one can make "deposits" to one's Cognitive Reserve (CR), which can come in handy when one is perambulating around a heavy lead environment. The NYT, in its weekly Tuesday Science section, in human-speak, concluded that "good readers retained much of their skills (skills involving attention, memory, mental calculations and decision making), even as they, too, were suffering damage to their nervous systems (from heavy lead exposures)."

I love that term, Cognitive Reserve (CR). For those of us who are readers, an actual health benefit seems to be self-generating when we slog on through books. Now, for some of us, let me be a name-dropper and mention Ms. Jagosaurus (who seems to read books once a week through the advanced concept of Laying of Hands and absorption), this Cognitve Reserve must be overflowing past the brain's storage capacity. It's as if she's generating her own electricity and her meter's turning backwards. CR scientists should investigate if these CR deposits can be inter-brain transferred, you know, like the money we switch back and forth on our Internet bank accounts to dupe ourselves into thinking that money, contrary to the law of physics, can be in two places at once.

And now we''l be able to answer that Tennessee Waffle House Waitress' question, What ya readin' for?

Well, to increase my Cognitive Reserve, of course!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What's with "Verging on Pertinence"?

I am not too clever by half, quarter, eighth, nor even thirty-second. I am more the Wal-Mart/K-Mart shopper who has sneaked into (when it used to be) Lord & Taylor when the guards were distracted by the blinding reflections from some other shopper's jewels. I'm brown-bagging at Le Bec Fin until the Maître de spies me and gives me Le Heave-Ho. I'm a borrower and a borrower who almost always gives credit to the borrowee. Lately, pangs of guilt have kept me awake at night, twitching in bed like shrimp on a hot plate. I've been doing this blog of self-delusion for over 3 years now and have never written anything about this blog's title.

Well, it's basically a cannibalization of this book's title. Nothing to read into the short story, "Verging on the Pertinent", contained within the book. Simply a strong draw on my part to the book's (and story's) title. Nothing more.

I came upon Verging on the Pertinent by Carol Emshwiller back in the very early '90's. I'd never heard of Ms. Emshwiller before; the title of her book at a bookstore simply caught my eye. An odd combination of words and a suggestion of a sly joke, it seemed to me. The selection of short stories in this book number only 17. The book has just a little over 135 pages. 135 dense pages. In a few of the stories, I felt as if I dropped in on a party that's been in swing for a few hours. From the first sentence, I was trying to catch up to something all of the characters in the story already seemed to know about and weren;t willing to let me in on. I wanted to psssst! and ask one of them some questions, before the story got way past my ability to comprehend it. So, I'd simply turn back pages to the beginning and start again. Ms. Emshwiller considers herself a science-fiction writer and her other books certainly demonstrate that genre nicely. This book, however,reminds me of the short stories of Katinka Loeser, Peter DeVries' spouse (whom he met when she was "when she was bouncing quatrains off the moon, too". The stories begin within the confines of a humdrum reality and then take off to visions that test the reader's patience at times while inducing one to re-read the stories almost immediately. Her stories don't stick with me in their entirety, but certain portions of her stories are permanently embedded. Like Loeser's writings, Emshwiller's are quite frustrating. In a good way. Both are quite accomplished word-smiths; it's just that their products, for me at least, lack a smoothness that promotes a continuous read. Perhaps that is their intention. Read one story. Mull it over. Put the book down. Come back a week later and commence with the next story. I would not recommend any of Loeser's or Emshwiller's books because you'd most likely be cursing me midway through any of their stories, although you'd probably trudge on and finish them anyway. Let me just label both of these writers as frustratingly enjoyable and leave it at that.

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