Posts Tagged ‘outside’

Holiday Spread

24 December 2009

Dear J-

I’m locked out of the house at the moment — in a senior moment, as I was rushing out the door, I left my keys on my desk at work, and I’m not about to drive all the way back just to retrieve them; holiday weekends you say goodbye to work with a fair amount of satisfaction and joy. So, instead, I get to slowly chill out and wait for whatever errand is being run to be over. It’s not like I don’t carry a surfeit of toys around (and indeed, this little guy can wirelessly pluck books from Gutenberg without much trouble, so it may be Count of Monte Cristo time before much longer). Alone. Do we spend our lives fundamentally apart, or together in pairs and groups? I like to point back to what all the baby books tell you: those first three months you just get to hold them as much as you want and no, they don’t mind at all.

Point is that we seem to be, from an early age, craving the company and touch of other humans — it’s all we knew, and all we want, really. I have to wonder a little at the self-declared loners; what have they experienced to make them shun others? You see it with cats, too: be mean often enough to a cat and you’ll learn just how aloof the felines are. We have lots of weird and wonderful things that make each of us unique and noteworthy; we don’t, necessarily, have to push folks away to make them want to come closer (absence does not always make the heart grow fonder, after all). Yet once again it’s Christmas all over the world (here in Pacific Standard Time I know we lag just about everywhere else) and where are you headed tonight?

If the Internet can be simplified to a bunch of tubes (thank you, Senator Stevens) then perhaps we can call life a bunch of choices — only there’s no save button so we can go back and make that decision over again if it doesn’t turn out the way we planned. Being alone is a choice; where you spend your time, how you approach your day, whether you make life easier or harder for people you’re around, is a conscious step taken along the path. Ignoring for now the potential theological implications of the uncanny coincidence between a Messiah’s birth and the Winter Solstice, it’s still my favorite holiday: we’re all making an effort to spread peace and love in the world, whether it’s kids in fear of coal-filled stockings or grown-ups mechanically parroting Merry Christmas to strangers and family alike. Spread it a little further this year.



Outside and About

8 June 2008

Dear J-

I’ve inexplicably received a subscription to Outside magazine. I suspect that it may be due to renewing a discount card at the local used video game store and, in response to the list rattled off by the bored-looking clerk (“Uh … there’s Official Playstation Magazine, Official Nintendo Magazine, Official XBox Magazine, …”) I responded that I didn’t need any of those, so clearly, they gave me the magazine targeted towards twentysomething slackers and video game folks. Either that, or I’m mis-representing a nice gift someone got for me.

As magazines go, it’s not bad, but not terribly memorable either: the last magazine I consciously subscribed to was Games, with many fond memories of hours spent poring over the different clever puzzles and game reviews it contained. Well, forty bucks later, I was having flashbacks again, but this time because the magazine was running, in lieu of new content, what they termed “Classic Games Puzzles” — which I recognized from twenty years ago. Plus I started to remember something distinctly less pleasant: I wasn’t very good at the puzzles then, and still wasn’t very good at the puzzles now, preferring (thanks, Mr. Larson!) to stick with what I call whodunits — logic puzzles, which showed up maybe once every quarter in Games. The next time I was at the newsstand, I invested five bucks in a book of logic puzzles and have since concluded that was an excellent buy, having lasted me nearly as long as a full year of Games.

But this is about Outside, a study in contradictions. On one page you have spiritual transcendence: the world is both bigger and smaller than we think it is, its natural wonders overwhelm and awe us; yet on the next, gear reviews aimed mainly at separating fools and money (if I’m spending $2 000 on binoculars, they’d damn well better go out and get the sights for me — while I sleep — download them, and put on a slide show when I get back, Nikon ED glass or not). So I note with some amusement how Marc Peruzzi’s (the resident grump) column (“The Big Idea”) in the July issue decries the ubiquity of surf culture, focussing on the money (selling out) and hypocrisy (how can surfing be so noble if it’s neither risky nor mellow?) of it, like that of any other sport. There are those (in other words, the majority) who feel that the NBA Finals were rigged in a way — Kevin McHale, GM of the Timberwolves, pulling a blockbuster trade of Kevin Garnett to the Celtics (McHale’s former team) and forming them into something formidable, just as Jerry West, formerly of the Lakers, retires just before Memphis sends their best player, Pau Gasol, to the Lakers, who promptly rip back through the playoffs following a few years of aimlessness with Captain Kobe at the helm.

What bothers me more about Peruzzi’s column is not so much the content (or malcontent, if you will), but the sneering attitude behind it. The whole thing faintly reeks of holier-than-thou (it’s a sweet, cloying odor) and of being able to pass judgement because, somewhere, somehow, someone’s decided he’s more hardcore than you, or whomever he criticises. It’s not the facts he cites, which are sufficiently compelling, or the advertisers he skewers, but the personal anecdotes he brings in just make him look like an ass and detracts from the overall tone of the essay. Oh, and note to the editor — putting this at the end of the column:

EDITOR’S NOTE: See page 110 to get styled for summer’s coolest sport. Shakka-gnar, brah!

only serves to prove that either you don’t actually read the content and/or you’ve missed the point.