placing tiny ads
Sunday, November 5 2000
"Placing tiny ads."
I'm watching Sunday infomercials, and Don LaPre is back in full (if canned) effect. I love the way he bobs his head and extends his dipthongs to add gritty boyish emphasis to sentences at regular two second intervals. "Imagine being able to afford that house, that brand new car!" - salesmen of quick money schemes always feel the need to remind their audience the value of money. Even credit card companies, companies selling Platinum cards to people who should be pretty familiar with what one does with money, even they make a point of reminding me that I need money to buy status symbols. But Don LaPree's basic infomercial hasn't changed much, even in the face of the internet steam roller. It seems to be trying desperately to attract the average dumb American who, while disatisfied with his place in the economy, is comforted by a money making scheme that doesn't require any "new knowledge" - knowledge of computers. Think about it, what is the point of spending money "placing tiny ads" buried in newspapers when an internet strategy is both much cheaper and can reach far more people?
By the way, Bathtubgirl.com appears to have successfully gone viral. The site has had six thousand hits in the past 24 hours, and only 1000 hits the 24 hours before. They're all coming from a wide variety of sources, many of them email.
Needing to get some rather complex work done, I actually went to work this afternoon. The NT-based machines at work are more stable and take far better advantage of available memory than my Windows ME boxes at home. While I was there, I actually did some workplace work too. It's easy to find yourself working on weekends when you're a lead developer running a team of programmers who need things to do during the work week. It's a little like teaching in that way.
In the evening I went to visit Nina, the girl whom I knew as a child through her father Ralph, a friend and colleague of my father. Ralph was actually in town, visiting from Ottawa, Ontario, and his visit had precipitated a somewhat urgent need for me to drop by. I'd been to Nina's housewarming party several months ago when the world was different and I was living with Bathtubgirl. But a lot has changed.
The last time I'd seen Ralph was 16 or 17 years ago, when I'd visited him in Canada with my father. He still looked the same, if perhaps somewhat more frail. He's 70 years old now.
We talked about this and that. Like my Dad, Ralph is trained geochemist. He sees great complexity and beauty in crystals and is thinking about writing a book to expose the greater public to this oft-ignored aspect of creation. Somehow this led to a conversation about the silicon crystals used in the manufacture of semiconductors, a field about which Ralph knows nothing at all.
It takes years to develop perceptions about human behaviors, and so it is with me. I noticed today, as I'd never noticed as a young teenager, that Ralph never gives eye contact until the very end of a paragraph of speach, and then only for an instant. He has the calm deliberation which I've long held as an architype of Canadians generally. Perhaps this feature is now exaggerated by Ralph's age, but his daughter Nina is much the same way. Consequently, I felt my speach racing around theirs like a little kid on roller blades through a shopping mall full of the strolling elderly. In a momentary burst I could get off a whole minute worth of speach, and then I could sit back and wait around for them each to respond with typical Canadian deliberation.
Friends of your parents are much like relatives. There's a similar feeling of reflexive familial obligation to them. This was made clear when Ralph started talking about my other relatives, particularly my uncle Bob DeMar (now and Chicago) and my aunts Barbara (in Connecticut) and Dotty (in Orange County; I've visited her exactly once). He seemed to assume that I kept in contact with them, and he spoke of them almost as if they were part of some sort of mutual shared family. I nodded my head agreeably and made all the right noises, but the fact is, the only connection I maintain to these people is through things my mother tells me. I've understood for a very long time that you get the right to choose your friends but your family have something of the unchanging quality of the past. As I have opened up to a lot of things through the years, I've been carried further and further from my ideological roots.
But at the core of my ideology, some things haven't changed at all, and we touched on these things repeatedly during our conversation this evening. In the context of Santa Monica and Greater Los Angeles, Nina and I have been repeatedly exposed to the crass materialism of this place, where nothing seems to matter so much as the late model German car you drive and the stylishness of your shoes. Both Nina and I agree that it's particularly bad here, that it's repulsive, and that it's difficult to find people in this area who aren't superficial in this way.
Have you hugged your BMW today?
Al Gore, with his artistically-removed bulge artistically restored.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next