Friday, October 30, 2009

Cranky Pants

Man, I'm not sure if it is the crappy weather, or if everyone is not getting enough sleep worrying about H1N1 or what but boy have people put on their cranky pants today. The worst part of this is that 'innocent bystanders' have to suffer for that most insufferable of qualities: entitlement. Both of the incidents I'm about to narrate could have been avoided if people just didn't assume the world revolves around them, or that the rules don't apply to them, or that everyone is out to ruin their day.

About an hour ago a gentleman came into the store and wanted to make a return. Here is, to the best of my memory, the transcript of his conversation with (unbeknownst to him, the worst person he could have possibly pulled this stunt on, let's call them Beth):

Customer: "I purchased this book yesterday because I couldn't find my other copy in my room. I found it now, and I'd like to return this. I'm returning this book."
Beth: "I'm sorry, but we can't do that. That is textbook; it's being used for a class. All books used for classes had to be returned by October 9th."
Customer: "But I just bought it yesterday."
Beth: "That... doesn't really matter, sir. The returns information is on that bright pink slip of paper stapled to your receipt..."
Customer: "I didn't read that. I didn't know. I'm returning this book."
Beth: "But you got in from the textbook aisle, right? And you didn't know it was a textbook?"
Customer: "Right."

long pause.

Beth: "OK, I'm going to make an exception, this one time..."
Customer: "Good, 'cause I make an exception to shop here. I've bought thousands of dollars of books here."
Beth: "An exception from what?"
Customer: "From shopping at other bookstores. From buying books on-line for a fraction of the price."
Beth: "OK, look, you've already won here. We're allowing the return. You don't have to yell anymore."
Customer: "Good, so let's just drop this, OK?"

long pause. transaction completed.

Beth: "Have a nice day." (said, amazingly, sans sarcasm).

There is lots to say here but firstly, even though I work here and have our best interests at heart, at the outset I hadn't taken sides. Our returns policy for textbooks is harsh, but it was enacted to prevent people from treating us like a lending library. Students would actually walk in, buy the book for class, and then return it an hour later after class was over. Most times the book would be damaged enough by handling, that the publishers we order from would deny us returns. In short, we're stuck with lots of books that don't look new and won't sell. Add that up every semester and in an unforgiving economy and yikes. No wonder bookstores are closing all over the place.

So yeah, the returns policy is harsh. And in this situation, I actually would have been inclined to cave. But it became very clear early on, perhaps the second "I'm returning this book" that this guy could give a care about us. He was used to getting his way, and in this case, being denied a return was the equivalent of telling him he failed at life. We were a tool at his disposal which when functioning correctly, always left him feeling better. Now I'm not sure if the whole "I already had the book" was true, or if he just did as he implies he goes out of his way to avoid, and his Amazon order just took longer than he thought to arrive. But the guy sure was a piece of work. We're not going out of our way to disservice you as an individual.

The second incident involved a woman who was asked to check her bag up front. She then proceeded to rattle on about how she "always hated this policy" and "been coming here for 20 years..." Well here's the thing. New people work the register every few months. To them it makes no difference if this was your first time in the store. And they aren't profiling. They are not judging you. You have to check your bag because everyone does. Everyone does because a few folks would like to fill their bags full of books and walk out with them. That, and its tiny and cramped in here. If everyone was walking around with a University sized book-bag stuffed with laptops and everything there would be no room to do anything. Don't be so entitled; it is unfair to give you preferential treatment.

rant over. sorry. weekend? ohsweetjesusyes.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

14 OF 69: Love You, Obviously / Like You Really Care

Oh, how we get so jaded so fast.

Its funny how all of those same things that get the poets all worked up, a beautiful sunset, a bright shining moon, when set in the wrong context can also make us pretty damn cranky. How fucking romantic, but I've been there.

There is something terrible about this feeling, something selfish and untoward. When you are single, even the sight of a couple holding hands can give one a bad case of snark. Holding hands? How cute. They must have just met. Roses? Nobody has ever thought of those before! You may as well have gotten that Valentine's bear from CVS.

Its odd, too, how this feeling is a mostly youthful one. I'm sure its far from universal, but I'd bet that most people who enter in this mindset are in their early 20s. So wise but so young. So old but so sensitive. A good reminder that not all emotions generated from Love are pleasant, far from it. And this one might be the worst.

Structurally this song doubles up its power by fusing the lyrics to a sort of beat-poet form. Very pared down, I can almost hear the finger-snaps at the ends of the line. And there are some dandies. The "love you, obviously" is a killer, it's delivery, with the 'obviously' splintered with cynicism just makes you roll your eyes. Oh dear.

Sadness and depression, from being rejected or let down? I get that. But then to turn the tables and make it so that everyone else who is having a good time, they're the walking cliches? Poor form. Yes indeed Mister Singer, you are a dancing bear and you look ridiculous.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

13 of 60: Fido, Your Leash is Too Long / Fido, Your Leash is Too Long

Ostensibly a song about sticking your nose, or perhaps other things, where they don't belong, "Fido, Your leash is Too Long" can be boiled down to a couple of pretty clever to semi-clever dog breed puns. I've never been a huge fan of this tune, mostly because I consider it a throwaway between two very powerful moments on the first album, the aforementioned "Book of Love" and the acerbically funny "How Fucking Romantic" (a paean to hipster dating if I ever heard one).

The bubble and pop of this song can't be entirely ignored though. The synthy, electro vibe is as silly as the puns, which in the end don't scan as puns at all. I'll give you shitzu for "shit, you"; but foxhounds has to be pretty garbled to come out "fucked."

Calling a cheating lover a dog is one thing...

rating: (an apropos) "puppy love"

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

12 of 69: The Book of Love is Long and Boring/ No One Can Lift the Damn Thing

A fascinating premise: a single book containing everything you ever wanted to know about Love. Every single relationship, the pit-falls to avoid, tried and true methods of landing that perfect person, all the crazy stuff anyone has ever done in It's Name. Some Borgesian mammoth of a text, conceivably infinite in size and scope. A document of humanity, or at least, the better parts of it.

And, of course, it is also the physical record of music. As the singer remarks, "the Book of Love has music in it/ In fact that is where music comes from." We're not just talking 'love music' but music. period. And that's not so unreasonable a theory, right? This song is also a reminder that music can also be read, both in a written form, with the clefs and lines and squiggles and all that, with words or without. And not just 'scanned,' but interpreted. My Book of Love would be filled with chicken scratches lining the margins, copious underlined passages and frequent "No, no no, no, no"s, "ew"s and "You're damn right!"s.

The Book of Love also occupies the center of the first CD of songs. I'm guessing that not everyone purchases all three albums at once, so for many of us, at least for a while, this song operates right at the heart of things. It's a weighty song, both in tone and in meaning, arguably the 'textbook definition' of Stephin's 69LS project. The voice, as always, is gravely and wonderful--as old as the Book of Love itself. I could easily picture this voice narrating the whole thing, droning on and on, and he must have been at this for some time now, because it's getting kind of ragged.

But then there are the beautiful moments, where Stephin sings what might be my favorite line of the whole damn piece:

"I love it when you read to me/
and you
you can read me anything."

It's such a romantic moment, he can't even say it all in one go. He breaks up on the most important word, 'you,' ends up repeating it, doubling its presence, and finally get that single line reading "and you". Another precise distillation of love. What is love? "and you".

rating: 'infatuation"

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