Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Clothes And Other Warm Delights In Eureka Springs

Kelly’s childhood friend Penny is with us, making her annual summer visit. We’ve taken her to Silver Dollar City a time or two, to a llama farm, to Dolly Parton’s Stampede, and, of course, to Bass Pro Shop more times than I care to admit. This year, we decided on a day trip to Eureka Springs. If you have to go to Arkansas, and you can’t go to Hot Springs, that’s as good a place as any.

The first store we saw after parking was this one, which kind of worried the girls. I’m not sure which freaked them out more, the thought of them having to undress or the possibility of the grown-ups shedding their clothes, but it turned out to be a fun little shop.

Our purpose in going to Eureka Springs was the art, as there are several galleries with a fascinating mixture of textures and talents. None of them allow photographs, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but the art makes the drive worthwhile.

We have a more personal motivation, too, shown by this section of the mural above. One of Kelly’s relatives is a well-known artist who was instrumental in establishing the current artistic community in the area, but I will leave it to Kelly to tell that part of Louis Freund’s story.

The girls were more interested in the shopping, and there was no lack of variety there, everything from the extremely tacky to the lovely in clothing and jewelry, something for every price range, but most of it out of ours.

Libby found some bargains, getting a purse, several rings, a jewelry tray, a hair band and a leather bracelet for not much more than $20. She also found a friend roaming free in the store.

Along with a couple of cute rings, Aubrey also found a friend, but just like at home, their friends don’t really play well with each other. Luckily for us, these two girls enjoy the hunt in shopping, rather than just the buy. They are content to spend much of the day just looking.

Libby sometimes could not contain her squeals as we came upon yet another dress shop. Or a jewelry shop. Or a shoe shop. Or a t-shirt shop….

As for Kelly, this is either a yawn – as she was up most of the night before, grading before finals deadline – or a reaction to the price of something the girls wanted to do.

 Adorable, yes, but the hats didn’t make the trip back home with us. Too bad for the hats.

I told everyone that Eureka Springs is populated by all the ex-hippies who couldn’t afford to move to Boulder, but I was the only one who thought that was funny.

The girls tried everything, from the fun…. 

… to the fanatic. That’s a photo of Guy Fieri, who must have brought his RoadShow to Arkansas at some point. We are big fans of the Food Network. At least, we were before we got rid of television.

Of course, no trip would be complete without posting on Facebook that Kelly and 3 others are taking a rest stop at the Big Cedar Lodge….

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Walnuts Classified As A New Drug, Subject To FDA Regulation

3 pounds of drugs in my fridge right now,
not counting the pecans.

I wish this was satire, an attempt by me to be funny. But it isn't.

Diamond Foods received a severe warning from the FDA that says, in part:

“… we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.”

Remember, now, we’re talking about walnuts. What prompted the rebuke from the FDA was a statement on the Diamond Foods web site that says, referring to the plant-based Omega-3 content natural to walnuts, “Every time you munch a few walnuts, you’re doing your body a big favor.”

Few scientists would disagree that Omega-3s in walnuts are good for you, and it is pretty well established that Omega-3s can “help reduce cholesterol, protect against heart disease and stroke, ease inflammatory diseases and fight depression,” research that Diamond Foods alludes to on their web site.

Yet the FDA warns Diamond Foods that walnuts “are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced conditions” and “they may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application,” which, as any drug company knows, costs millions and millions of dollars.

Walnuts are unsafe, according to the FDA? Isn’t this the same FDA that allows Lays potato chips to be labeled “heart healthy?”

Does anyone else wonder what’s going on here?

Read the complete article here, especially the citations at the end. It's not satire; it's spooky.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stop And Face The Music Or You Might Miss The $3,000,000 Violin Guy, Too

The man playing violin in the corner of this mass transit entryway is Joshua Bell, an award-winning violinist. His violin is worth more than 3 million dollars.

Because Bell is out of context, he is barely noticed, much less appreciated. During this performance, he collects $32, a big step down from the $100 per seat paid to watch him just two days earlier at a sold-out theater in Boston.

I doubt that I would have appreciated his performance, although I likely would have dropped a dollar or two into his case.
As this article from Dr.Mercola suggests, why not take a moment to recognize the beauty around us, especially in unexpected places?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our Town, Our Turn, Our Daughters

I was in heaven. Two beautiful daughters on stage for the college production of Our Town, and everyone wearing costumes carefully created by my beautiful wife, Kelly. It was wonderful, and, as I suppose art is supposed to do, it made me think.
I laugh at lines others do not seem to get, but I also cry freely when emotions are high, and there is plenty of emotion in Thornton Wilder's work. It drags at times, and is too preachy too often, but it makes well the point that life is short and that we better tend to our relationships while we can because even the best ones don't last long.

For example, when Libby Lu is on the ladder with her play brother, having a typical, meaningless brother/sister exchange, I wonder how many of us are reminded of our own siblings, of opportunities lost now that we are all older. After Gracie dies, and she goes back to her 12th birthday and talks with her mother, my heart aches because too often we just don't see the treasure right in front of us, or that used to be right in front of us.

Her line wounds me each time I recall it: "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it - every, every minute?" Like Jim Rohn says, most of us spend all of our time just getting through the day, rather than getting from the day.

Kelly and I are blessed. Our grandparents are gone, but our parents are here, and we both have brothers. We have children, some at home, others on their own. We have grandchildren. We have friends, we have some level of influence. We have each other. We have time, we have opportunity. Like most of us, we have a life too wonderful.
We realize that. If only we could schedule in a few hours to enjoy it....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Could There Be Anything Worse Than Using Your Phone In A Public Restroom? Apparently So....

I generally don’t pay much attention to the facilities when using public facilities, but in the past few weeks I’ve noticed a few things that seem odd.

Take this sign, for example. How would you like to be the person who has to clean this restroom, where it is necessary to ask patrons not to scale fish in the sinks.

This one, at our local minor league baseball stadium, doesn’t seem to have minors in mind, especially considering it is an advertisement for a radio station that plays We've Only Just Begun and You Light Up My Life.

It seems like a good idea, a switch that notifies the custodian, and perhaps management, that the restroom needs attention. But, logistically, um, how do you turn on a switch? Flowers and chocolates? Soft music and breathy whispers? Meg Ryan movies?

Finally, also at the ballpark, cup holders in the stalls, right by the commode. I’m no scientist, but I believe the technical term for that is eeewwwwww.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

If You Will Hold My Hand

If you will hold my hand, then I will hold my breath and cast my fate in the direction of my heart. I will put on hold my lesser dreams and reach for what is truly mine.”

It is rare to find a collection of words and ideas so profound that you stop and say “That is exactly right, perfect,” and you read and reread to take it all in. I’ve read millions of words, but few have changed my mind and my desires like Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power Of Intimate Relationships by Marianne Williamson, who I looked up because I quoted her once.

Find it, read it, if you dare. Then try to live it, if you can.

Here are parts of paragraphs from pages 26-27:

"Our deepest human need is not material at all: Our deepest need is to be seen. We need meaning. We need identity. Most people bear the terminal stress of walking the world unseen, a mere number or cog in a lifeless machine. Mystical romance is a space of resurrection and repair. It does more than help us survive a soulless world; it helps us to transform it.
"So many people say that they are looking for love, yet they are actually committed to never finding it. Many people would really rather not know of the scars and triumphs of the person who lies in their arms.
"Real love entails readiness to die to who we were, in order to be born again prepared for love, truly worthy of the romantic heights. In becoming romantic artist, we must pierce the armor that hides our hearts, and that piercing is not comfortable. It is horrible and painful. It can take years of tears to melt the hardness that develops in this world, covering our tender, gentler, inner selves. Tears for every devastating loss. Tears for every humiliating failure. Tears for every repeated mistake. Those who allow those tears, even honor those tears, are not failures at love but rather its true initiates. First the pain, and then the power. First the heart breaks then it soars."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Just How Many Unsupervised, Tech Savvy 8-Year-Olds With Smartphones Are There?

My brothers and I fought over who got the prize in our cereal box each week. With our corn flakes, we usually got one box of sweetened cereal a week, usually, Super Sugar Crisp, which had the best toys, including genuine Hot Wheels.

Later, the prize ended up on the box rather than in it, those cut-out cardboard records of The Archies that sounded like tin on my tiny record player that could not have thrilled us more.
By the time my children became cereal eaters who fought over prizes, the quality of the toys had gone way down, plastic rather than metal, generic rather than celebrity.

As the Internet became popular, prizes became available online, with secret words children could enter on special web sites. Each box carried the warning to be sure to ask an adult before getting online.

Today, after several years away from eating cereal, I found myself staring at the back of a box of Frosted Flakes, with scenes from the new Spider-Man movie. The kiddies can redeem the secret codes for free movie tickets. There is no mention of asking mom and dad for permission, because there is no web address.

Here’s what it says:
“Listen to your Spidey senses and grab your smartphone.”
“Go to the App Store or Android Market on your smartphone.”
“Download the ‘Kellog’s’ amazing Spider-Man exclusive app.”
“Point your smartphone camera at the scene to the right for an exclusive clip from the Amazing Spider-Man!”
Our children aren’t the target market for sweet cereals. They were teenagers before they got cell phones, and they still don’t have smartphones. Can it be true that enough unsupervised and tech savvy 8-year-olds have smartphones that a national ad campaign that requires them can be successful?

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger And Other Stupid Things Our Children Hear

Bruce Springsteen claimed he “learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school,” which doesn’t say much for The Boss. It may be bad news for me, too, because much of what I say is based on song lyrics and lines from movies. Hmmmmm….
I overheard one of our young teenagers quote a song, and it got me to thinking. The girls recently persuaded me to have the radio on in the car. Kelly and I never listen to the radio while driving. We would rather use that time to actually converse, especially with the girls, but I figure having the radio on is better than having them in the back seat with buds plugged into their ears.

The song quoted is Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You), by someone named Kelly Clarkson, who likely stole the idea from Friedrich Nietzsche. You remember Nietzsche, the German philosopher, poet, cultural critic and classical philologist. I suspect that’s where most modern singers turn when looking for inspiration, classical philologists.
The hook line is the claim that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but in addition to wondering what effect that has on the girls’ thinking, I wonder whether that’s true. Let’s consider….
  • Watching reality TV won’t kill you, but it won’t make you stronger.
  • Eating a chocolate bar a day rather than an apple won’t kill you, but it won’t make you stronger.
  • Tattoos hurt but won’t kill you and don’t make you stronger, just more ridiculous.

  • Spam won’t kill you, at least not quickly, but it doesn’t make you stronger.
  • Driving 60 in a school zone propably won’t kill you, but it won’t make you stronger.
  • CNN won’t kill you, but it won’t make you stronger, unless you call being misinformed stronger.
  • Aspertame won’t kill you, but – oh wait, the jury is still out on that one.
  • Procrastination won’t kill you, but it doesn’t make you stronger.
  • Cheating at school or cutting corners at work won’t kill you, but they don’t make you stronger.
  • Cheating on your spouse, breaking promises to your children, neglecting family obligations, those won’t kill you, but none of them makes you stronger.
What can you add to the list?
Personally, like so many songs, I think it is nonsense, but now another generation of listeners has the notion in their heads. Kind of like an earlier generation that grew up thinking “I hope I die before I get old.”

I wonder what they have to say about it now?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Favorite Female Singers Are Extras On Frasier

I don’t like women singers, really. Linda Ronstadt, I like, and Stevie Nicks, and Tracy Ullman. So what are the odds that my two favorite female singers both played one-episode bit parts on Frasier?
Sara Melson I checked out after watching the rerun with her appearance as Carrie, the men’s store clerk.
Last night I saw the Zooey Deschanel episode where she plays a childhood friend of Roz. Like a lot of people, I liked Zooey in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Elf and Failure to Launch. There’s just something about her, you know.

A year or so ago I was surprised to come across videos of hers on YouTube. Her singing was delightful, soulful and, well, perky. You know, one of those perky soul singers. I listened to her Hawaiian version of I Should Have Known Better and knew I had to have more.
A quick search on Amazon revealed not only an album of her songs, but an album of her songs for only $5. I immediately downloaded Volume One and listened to it nonstop for days. Then I downloaded Volume Two, still just $5, and liked it even better.
Then there was a Christmas album, too.

If you’ve not heard She & Him, head over to YouTube and give it a listen. Let me know what you think.
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