August 21, 2003

Shopping – It’s Not All Bad.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:09 pm

Arrrgh! raised the issue of shopping. She noted that, while she is not a great fan of shopping, there are exceptions to the rule, based on what it is she is shopping for. I offered up my two cents worth in her comment section, but I thought I would amplify my thoughts on the important issue of shopping.

Here are some of places I like to shop:

Liquor Stores.
I absolutely love wandering around liquor stores, the bigger the better. Around here, the big ones are Shopper’s World Liquor and Wine Country. The latter is a supermarket-sized store that sells a dazzling array of booze, wine, beer, and assorted accessories for the drinking person.

For example, the store has damned near an entire aisle devoted to Vodka, which these days is particularly glitzy, given the various designer-type bottles that manufacturers are bottling the wonderful stuff in. There are dark blue ones (Skyy), oddly shaped ones (Friis), and frosted ones (Belvedere, Chopin, and Grey Goose). Now there is also a mouth-watering selection of flavored vodkas (best enjoyed, in my view, direct from the freezer and neat). You can buy vodkas that contain hints of: vanilla, currents, oranges, green apple, hot pepper, cranberry, strawberry, peach, and cranberry. Yowza!!

I also get lost for quite some time in the huge bourbon section. I’ve tried most of them (I’m still working at trying all of them), and when I have a few extra bucks I’ll spring for the single barrel stuff like Woodruff Reserve, Blanton’s, Knob Creek and Baker’s. However, one can never go wrong with Maker’s Mark. Finally, for everyday use (i.e. to get perpendicular to the center of the earth after an aggravating day at work), there is the old standby, Jim Beam.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway has an excellent selection of spirits of all descriptions.

Book Stores.
I believe I could happily go to Barnes & Nobel several times per week for the rest of my life. I have been known to disappear for hours at a time in the History Section, and to go through the tortures of the damned trying to figure out how to leave the store with only one or two books.

And, just to make it even harder to drag yourself out of the store, they sell coffee, tea, juice and nice munchies.

I spend hours at the computer, but one cannot truly RELAX at a computer terminal. However, books go well with a comfortable chair and a place to rest your feet.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway looks not unlike a small library.

Record Stores.
I wonder if anyone under thirty calls these places “record stores,” because there is not a record (those black vinyl things) anywhere to be found in them. I’m good for at least two hours in a large record store, in part because I like so many kinds of music that I look at damned near everything in the store. I do, however, pass on rap, heavy opera, and the kind of jazz where the music seems to have neither a key nor a time signature.

The good thing about being my age is that I can often find real bargains in these places. You know what I mean – in those “bargain bins” where one has to painstakingly look at every CD to find the one treasure for four or five bucks. “Wow! Jay and the Americans Greatest Hits, $3.99!”

Anyway, I invariably leave with a handful of stuff.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway boasts a large collection of CDs, and a shitload of albums (the big, flat, black, round things in the cardboard jackets) and 45’s (the little, flat, black, round things, with the big hole in the middle) in the basement.

Musical Instrument Stores.
I worked in bands for more years than I care to admit (drums, vocals and a bit of guitar), and, once in a while, I still get called upon to “go public.” When I was growing up, our house was always full of music. My dad played guitar and sang his ass off (A native of the Garden State, he could sing country and western music better than some of the pros – Go figure). After supper, he would often drag out his inexpensive f-hole guitar and sit in the kitchen and sing the songs of Jim Reeves and Hank Williams, just to name a couple.

He bought me a cheap guitar when I was about nine and taught me the basic chords (which, frankly was about all he knew). Since then I also learned how to play the hell out of drums, and I got to be a better guitar player than my dad. Over the years I played in bands I spent countless hours in musical instrument stores, often buying necessary things like sticks, pedals, cases, picks, wires, amplifiers. I also have spent hundreds of hours “just looking.” I could easily smoke up an afternoon trying several guitars, both acoustic (I always like to play the 12 stingers) and electric.

Not surprisingly, the House by the Parkway is the home of an old guitar (a Framus) that I bought while I was in the Army, a Gibson Dreadnaught from the sixties that still sounds great, a Paul Reed Smith electric that damned near plays itself, a banjo (which I never took the time to really get the hang of), an electric keyboard, and, of course, a beautiful, full set of Ludwig black pearl drums (those were the money makers).

Here are some places I do not like to shop:

Linen Stores or Linen Departments in Stores.
My tolerance for looking at sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads and similar stuff is just about zero. I also notice that places that sell this kind of merchandise never provide a place to sit for those of us who are sometimes held captive there for a couple hours.

Clothing Stores.
I truly hate buying clothes. I absolutely, completely, and totally loathe shopping for clothes that I have to try on in the store. Unfortunately, one has to have clothing, so I try to: (a) buy as much as I can online, and (b) go as infrequently as possible, but each time I do go I buy lots of things, so that I won’t have to go again soon.

Home Depot.
How I hate that place. I follow the sage advice of Jimbo Fix-It, and limit my tool kit to a hammer, a roll of duct tape and a sturdy butter knife for those occasions when I cannot avoid dealing with a screw. Saws, lathes, planes, pliers, drills, nuts, bolts, lumber, sheetrock, and spackle just don’t do it for me. And, Home Depot has miles and miles of that awful stuff.

That’s all. I’m ready for a drink now.

New Gig, New Name.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:54 pm

My So-Called Blog has changed its name to “Babel On!”. As I mentioned before, the blog’s author left his job of democracy teaching in Russia and is headed for a similar position in Iraq. He has been sharing the details of the journey.

He described his farewells to people with whom he worked in Russia and with whom he had become fast friends in that foreign land. About this, he said what many of us know, but do not admit to ourselves, in similar circumstances:

I will never see any of these people again.”

… When you leave your friends and family in the States, you know you’re coming back eventually. When people leave overseas, there’s a finality to it that’s like death. I will miss the people here. I miss the people who have left before me. And I will miss this place.

At the moment, he is experiencing a visa-related delay, but for which, he would have been in Kuwait for training (which hopefully will include a “duck and cover” segment) by Tuesday.

He is a very interesting guy.

Update: Permalinks are slow and/or not working. The “farewells” post is dated August 19, and the “Visa-related delay” post is dated August 21. Scroll on!

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