Friday, December 26, 2008

No Love For Christmas

I was reminded on Christmas Eve that I'm not an attractive woman.

It was Wednesday afternoon, and I was at Petco picking up some stuff for our guinea pig. There was a line of several people, and one cashier. I was second in line, and a very attractive woman was ahead of me. The cashier, a slightly nerdy looking guy, called for the next person, and the attractive woman went to the cash register.

He began flirting with her immediately, commenting on the things she was buying (dog toys: "Some four-legged friend is going to have a great Christmas!"). He asked if she had a Petco preferred customer card, and when she said she didn't he extolled the virtues of it, then produced an application and began filling it out for her. Meanwhile, the line of people waiting to check out grew longer, and some began shifting impatiently on the feet back and forth.

Meanwhile, Mr. I've Got A Shot At This Good Looking Woman Because I Work At Petco was commenting on her address ("I've heard that's a nice neighborhood. I've always wanted to see what some of those houses look like on the inside."), her total expenditure ("You must be a very generous person.") and her outfit ("Did you make that scarf?") Finally he finished with her, and paused for a moment with a cheery look as she left. Then he looked up and saw me.

"Next person in line," he barked. "Leave the Timothy Hay in the cart," he commanded. "I'm highly allergic." (And you work in a pet store?)

My brief transaction was nothing like the preceding one:

"Do you have a Petco card?" "No." "Okay."

No offer to fill out an application for me, no comments about my merchandise or my outfit, no hinting about wanting to visit my neighborhood (he'd checked my ID when I used a charge card).

As I left the store I glanced back at him. No dreamy, wistful look at my departure, either.

At least our guinea pig was appreciative.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Charlie Says

I'm working my way through John Harvey's Charlie Resnick series, and I have to say that Harvey is a masterful writer. (I read a review of his most recent, and I believe last, in the series, and read it. It was so good I had to go the library and get the first 14 in the series.)

Theoretically these are mysteries, more precisely police procedurals. But they're really more like novels with a mystery woven in. The characters, particularly the jazz loving, sandwich eating, cat owning, slightly overweight Resnick, are lovingly drawn and very three dimensional.

I was initially drawn to the series because his most recent book takes its title from a Billie Holiday tune, a theme that runs throughout the book. Resnick listens to a lot of jazz, particularly early bop and from the period just before bop, and has cats named after Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Pepper Adams and Miles Davis (I'm sure if he acquires a fifth he'll name it after Charlie Parker). He slogs his way through the human scum of an unnamed English city in the midlands (it's Notttingham), fighting a losing battle and occasionally wondering why.

Many of the other characters — most appear in more than one book — are equally three dimensional, and the series will tell most Americans more about a certain segment of English life than most of us would otherwise ever know. (There are, as it turns out, many things one can do with a sausage besides eat it for breakfast.)

These aren't slam bam page turners — long stretches go by with little action — but they're riveting just the same. Try one and see what you think.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Love For Sale

I've now heard a good chunk of the Beatles "Love," the remix album by the son of the original Beatles producer, and it completely lives up to my expectations.

Which is to say, it's dreadful.

The concept is this: Giles Martin, son of George Martin, remixed, sliced, diced and mashed up a whole bunch of Beatles tunes for a Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas show. He assembled new medleys, slapped the guitar solo from one song into the break of another, swapped drum breaks and, no doubt, spent hundreds of hurs in the studio using all of the digital horsepower at his disposal.

The result, in my opinion, is like the old Stars on 45 records, where several current hits would be strung together using a cheesy disco beat.

I'm not a purist by any means, but this is no improvement.