Friday, July 14, 2006

Reading So You Don't Have To

I picked up this month’s Esquire after work tonight, and read a pretty good chunk of it on the ride home. Three things stuck out to me as compelling/funny/scary, and I figured I’d share them. This way, you don’t have to read the magazine. (Of course, you don’t have to read this post, either. Live free or die.)

1. The cover story is a profile of John McCain, and it begins with a description of his recent commencement speech at Madison Square Garden to the graduates of New York’s New School university. Many students of the very liberal institution silently protested McCain’s presence, turning their backs to him. Others were less polite:
The body of McCain’s speech -- a considered, sometimes arcanely eloquent evocation of tolerance and civility -- is interrupted by hecklers who are bold, loud, and sometimes obscene.
At a certain moment, McCain is talking about a friend, a “militant anti-Vietnam War activist” who died at 47 and left a young family behind. “At which point, a kid in the crowd points at McCain and cackles.”

Later, in the car, a staffer talks to McCain:
He asks his boss gently if he heard the student laughing. McCain is quiet. He did not, apparently. “I’m glad I didn’t,” he says after a long beat. “That could have been very bad.”
Is it just me, or is this exactly what we require after Bush’s reign? My fear is that the caricature of Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy” (and I’m not denying there’s a basis for the caricature) will cause voters to pretend it’s 1993 again, when what we really need is a credible president who approaches things with some measure of grace but won’t let us forget the world is an unstable, dangerous place, and also isn’t afraid to channel some well-deserved righteous anger to knock a few New School students upside the head.

(The article also features a very funny aside from McCain, describing the pathetic nature of Bush’s approval ratings: “When you get down to the twenties, you’re talking about paid staffers and blood relatives.”)

2. I laughed at this exchange in a sidebar interview with actor John C. Reilly. Reilly's in an upcoming comedy about NASCAR, a sport in which, as you know, sponsors' logos are plastered all over the automobiles:
Esq: Who would you want sponsoring you in real life?

JCR: To tell you the truth, I don’t believe in corporate sponsorship. I’ve been offered many times to do ads and promotional things. That’s not why I got into acting. I think it’s a slippery slope for actors to start trading on their personalities... You just asked a funny question, and I gave you an overly serious answer.

Esq: That’s okay--

JCR: Wilkin & Sons black-currant preserves. That’s my favorite jelly.
3. In an ask-the-doctor column, a reader inquires about the safety of playing iPods at high volume. Ahem.

The doctor writes: “The bottom line: Keep your iPod at or below 60 percent of its maximum volume.”

As an experiment, I tucked the magazine under my arm, reached into my pocket for the trusty iPod, and adjusted it to what might leniently be described as 70 percent of its capacity (in any case, it was definitely higher than 60). I could hear the music, but it helped that I knew it. If I was listening to something for the first time, I don’t think I could’ve quite made it out. Which, of course, told me two things. 1) I’m listening to my iPod too loudly almost whenever I listen to it. 2) The train noise must be at least as loud as my iPod at full volume, and I’m in the train, at bare minimum, an hour and a half every day. Oh, and so two other things, I guess: 3) I’m likely to lose most or all of my hearing any minute now, and 4) I should (even more) seriously think about relocating.

But today wasn’t all about Esquire. When I got home, I found an L.L. Bean catalog in my mailbox. Here’s my favorite excerpt from that puppy:
Our popular Comfort Mocs(TM) a lightweight, breathable style for summer. We built these with a smooth mesh upper that feels good against your skin and lets cool air circulate around your foot. They have the same flexible EVA cushioning as our original Comfort Mocs.
They damn well better.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

JayDub, didn't you ever see those mockalogs that were done about L.L. Bean in like the '80's? It's about the easiest catalog to mock, expect for or course R. Petersen's catalog. -- Tavia

11:09 AM  
Blogger JMW said...

What are you saying, Tavia, that I'm shooting fish in a barrel? That I'm losing my edge? That I'm not tackling the catalogs that are really difficult to mock, like, what -- Sears?

And no, I didn't see any mockalogs in the 80s. Getting into what I was like in the 80s would turn sad for everyone awfully quick, so it's a subject best avoided.

12:50 PM  

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