Noncommittal fortune

17
Feb
2010

I love fortune cookies, but I admit to having some fairly specific ideas about what constitutes a good one vs a bad one. The best fortune cookies, in my opinion, are the ones that tell you something specific that is about to happen to you. Something  like “You will win a million dollars next tuesday” is an example of a good fortune cookie. Even something less specific, such as “A great day lies ahead for you” is within the range of what I consider a correct use of the form. On the other hand, I loathe fortune cookies that lack fortunes, as this is clearly a letdown and an affront to the definition of fortune. When (after enduring an entire meal of greasy take out) I open a cookie only to read “A rolling stone gathers no moss” or “A wise man thinks before he speaks”, I get a little bent out of shape. What kind of crap is that? Imagine my surprise when I received a kind of hybrid message in my fortune cookie this evening.

It read: “You should be able to undertake and complete anything.”

Come again? What is that supposed to mean? I mean, it has the advantage of addressing me directly, which is a good thing…but what is this “should” business? If it had said “You can undertake and complete anything” it would be a dull but expected compliment I guess, arriving in this way from a fortune cookie. But “should”? That throws a whole air of uncertainty into the mix. Is this a challenge? An insult to my current situation or some sort of rebuke? I scour my brain for all the things I have undertaken and left hanging, as well as for those things I thought about and didn’t undertake in the first place. And the nerve of those taunting smiley faces at both ends and those “lucky” numbers along the bottom…

Fashioned

14
Feb
2010

This is (apparently) Fashion Week here in NYC, and my friend Boris invited me along with him to one of the shows, that of South Korean designer  Park Choon Moo. Boris knows one of the guys organizing the show, so we got to go backstage beforehand where all the stick figure models were being made up and dressed. There seemed to be an awful lot of paparazzi snapping all kinds of photos. (especially of one short, severe looking, over tanned woman wearing a long straight black wig with bangs. I wonder who she was.) We then went out to the main room when the show was about to being and before sitting down I noticed how similar a lot of the men in attendance looked. I must have seen about 8 look-alikes, all sharing the same buzzed on the sides long on top haircut, the big pouffy wrapped scarf about the neck, and pseudo-military pants tucked into pseudo-military boots. Each making a statement no doubt about their total creative uniqueness. As the show began, I was reminded (to slight dismay) that one of the dangers in being over 40 is seeing fashion motifs from when you were 20 repeat themselves. Everything old is new again, after all, and always has been. That said, there were some really beautiful looks for several of the women. I didn’t really care for the men’s looks as much, but it was a lot of fun peeking into this rarefied world and watching the spectacle.

The Royal We

12
Feb
2010

I had a strange dream last night with a lot of moving parts to it. It really ranged across a ton of subjects, but I can only remember a few details. I was in some sort of hunting lodge type place with a bunch of people, cozy around a fireplace having drinks. To my right  was the Queen of England, and she was saying something about her father the King who had died in the year 499. I somehow knew she meant to say 1499, but still I called her out on it.

“You are telling me that you have been Queen since 1499? That is over 500 years. No way.” I said, with a fair amount of nonchalance.

“Of course not,” she said, “I became Queen much later, but my father did die at that time.”

Incredulous, I consulted with a couple of friends near me over a hot toddy. “She is either lying or crazy,” I said.

I don’t remember much else in the dream except some long house with a bunch of rooms where a group of us were staying. We were hanging out at one end and some middle aged, blond female benefactor kept calling me on the intercom from the other to ask me for help with something.

Food, glorious food

10
Feb
2010

I just finished reading Michael Pollan’s slim new book, Food Rules. In this small volume of 140 pages made up of 64 rules and a lot of white space, Pollan dispenses some mostly common sense advice about how and what to eat.  Rather, most of it seems like it should be common sense, but let’s face it, this country has a severely screwed up relationship to what we eat. Many of the things he suggests I have been doing for years. I stay away from soft drinks and avoid products with high fructose corn syrup whenever I can. But some of the most interesting and valuable things he is advocating for have to do with how we consume our food, and the culture around it. I have long complained about the fact that Americans judge value based on quantity instead of quality. Nothing disturbs me more than to hear someone talk about how great a restaurant was based on how much food was piled up on the plate. I mean, most people would rather have a heaping pile of crap than a couple of bites of something really tasty. Pollan points out that we should be eating more slowly, savoring our meals and that whenever possible we should eat with other people. We should (in a kind of Buddhist way, actually) pay attention to our process of eating and chewing, instead of plopping down in front of a TV. In short, we need to be more connected to our food and by extension our bodies. He also has a lot to say about food processing and what a terrible toll it has taken on our health. Some good advice has to do with not eating anything that has ingredients which you can’t imagine growing in nature. And of course a reduction in meat has all kinds of benefits that he points out. But what I like about him is that he isn’t an absolutist, allowing for the reality of our omnivore selves while advocating for a little moderation and perspective. Simple but highly recommended book.

Could have heard a pin drop

9
Feb
2010

Today I decided to go by the Apple store to pick out a new pair of headphones. I was a little peeved on my way over to tell you the truth, because I have gone through 3 pairs in the past 18 months. They always seem to break in some way, seemingly related to my using them at the gym. The cable cracks, or my sweat gets inside the microphone and causes the buttons to stop working properly or just fizzle out. And although there are several nice pairs out there that don’t have a control/mic on them, I prefer the ones that do so that I can use them with my iPhone. I was determined to find something more rugged. As I arrived at the headphone area of the store one of the (seeming hundreds of) Apple employees approached me with a smile and asked if he could help me. I motioned to my ears and looking him directly in the face told him that I needed new headphones with a microphone for my iPhone. He led me over to the Apple-branded headphones and I went off on a small tirade about how I had previously purchased them, and how they were crap, breaking after a few months. As I glanced at a number of the products hanging there, I emphatically stated how important it was to have a rugged pair that I could work out in. I must have gone on for a good minute as I was looking at the headphones, when I felt him tap me on the shoulder and apologize, telling me he was deaf and could I please look at him while I spoke. I was mortified, I hadn’t realized. But now that I was paying attention, his speech was in fact a bit muffled in that particular way, like the few deaf people I have had interactions with. I apologized profusely, and then overcompensated the rest of the time by over-mouthing every word that issued from me. While I was still basking in the shame of my self-absorption, he led me over to a pair of headphones he said were really great, and I had to stop myself from asking if he had used them. He took them out of the case and at least I could verify that the cabling seemed rugged. He told me that the sound was very high quality and as we were examining them, a colleague of his came over to tell me that these were really great and did I need any other assistance. A little too loudly (it seemed to me) I told the other guy that “NO, I AM IN GREAT HANDS HERE, THANKS” and sent him on his way. My Jewish guilt was really setting in and the guy asked me if I needed to see any other pairs and I just responded that if he thought these were the best that was good enough for me and I handed him my credit card.

And that, friends, is how I bought stereo headphones from a nice deaf man.

EPILOGUE: I have been listening to the headphones for the past hour or so, and I have to say they are quite good sound.

EPILOGUE II: The buttons stopped working in less than 24 hours and I returned them.