Monday, January 21, 2013

Coming Around (Revisionism)

"Coming around" on an issue is  can be the product of:

1. Careful skepticism with diligent observation
2. Intellectual consideration
3. Proud and stubborn egotism with denial

Well, I've come around recently on a few issues of ludicrous superficiality, so of course, I'll share them. I can also assure you that method #3 was the vehicle in which my change of heart appeared (because with my brick-like intellect and dull gaze, I am incapable of methods #1 and #2).

When I see "PREMIUM" or (God forbid) "LUXURY" on anything, I dismiss it out of hand.  Undershirts that cost $100 or "hand-crafted fruit jam" for $15 is a sucker's bet.  Even $4 for a charred cup of Starbucks is beyond senseless.  There is nothing shaving cream, shampoo, sea salt, or soy sauce can do that would justify a premium designation.  

Then I tried this:

Occasionally (VERY rarely), the premium tag indicates proportionately increased value.
80 cents per cup?  Are you insane?  I railed against it in my own house, refusing to try it because I thought that Mrs. had wasted money on a premium brand.  I made a careful cup of it when nobody was home, and tried it.  Utterly fantastic.  My plan was simple (see #3 above):  I had to deny that I had ever railed against it instead of admitting that I had been a very vocal jerk about it.  

What else?

For walking around the city in winter, they do work.  Now all I have to do is convince everyone that I had never, NEVER spent nearly 45 minutes mocking and articulately ridiculing them element-by-element over martinis at a local gin-joint in the financial district in early December.  I'm NOT saying that I now think they look okay.  I'm saying that I am NOW willing to look silly wearing them.  Big difference.

I also came around on this brand as well:

At the Fly-fishing Show - Marlboro, Mass.

Baron out of Sweden makes interesting bag/luggage lines (some are attractive, some are a bit freaky), and I had dismissed it out of hand as well.  I got their briefcase/shoulderbag and a piece of luggage, and I have to give them high marks.

I wanted something low-key for a briefcase, and this fit the bill.  I had long ago given up on the Orvis Battenkill line for traveling.  And though it's not sexy, LL Bean will take back any piece of luggage when it wears out.  Buy once, and you'll have something (not the original) for decades.  For a large suitcase into which we can all pack for a week, get an LL Bean one, because they will make good on their guaranty even though the baggage checking process will brutalize it.  Again, I'm not endorsing anything, and have not received anything from anybody.

***Note: If you travel by plane on a very regular basis, checking bags accelerates the wear and tear seemingly exponentially.  If you mostly travel by car, or by carry-on, the dynamic may be drastically different.  If your luggage is dusty, dry-rot may be your enemy.

To review: the way I tend to approach things is to obnoxiously dismiss them out of smug self-righteousness, later accept and adopt them fully, deny that I had ever spoken ill of them, and ultimately recommend them for the reasons that had made them popular in the first place.  This hilariously duplicitous approach allows me to hear harmonies when the rest of the world hears (cognitive) dissonance.  In other words, I swear that I sing on key, it just that the rest of the choir is off.

.--. .-.. .- -.-- .. -. --. / .... --- --- -.- -.-- / --- -. / ..-. .-. .. -.. .- -.-- ---...

Handmade cane rods (Germany) at the show in Marlboro.

 A briarwood pipe (not unusual) with a split-cane inlay (unusual).

 The streams in Virginia where I love fishing.  Though I don't get there as often as I'd like to.

 Small native brook trout in vivid colors hide in these whirls, pools, and pockets.

Boston below. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

V V To the Rescue

Vineyard Vines is generally overpriced for my tastes, as I prefer the strategy of waiting it out until clearance opportunities arise. Like a good Yankee, I'm selectively allergic to expenditure. In over a decade of near-constant business travel, I have never forgotten to pack anything, save the time in 2006 when I forgot cuff links. On Sunday evening, after the usual painful goodbyes to the lovelies in my household, it was somewhere in the airport security line when I remembered that I had not packed any socks.

On the other side of the x-ray-nudie-peeping-Tom scanner, a Vineyard Vines shop was about to close. I bought the last five pairs of socks they had. They were offered at a fraction of what I thought they would have been, and because they were solid black, not even the cutesy little whale on them had made them appealing enough to go for full retail. The market forces were in my favor as they lessened the penalty for my absent-minded ness.

A week in San Francisco with conservative and business-safe black socks.

A woman sat at the table next to me with her friend and droned on about her recent trip to Paris. I will spare you the details, the inescapable volume of it forced me to learn more than I cared to know about her 10 days there. From what I could gather, she spent her entire time using her iPhone to plot jogging routes throughout the various districts of Paris, and described each in excruciating detail. Instead of casually strolling in and out of cafe after cafe, sitting and reading, eating and drinking, this vapida spent her vacation there in Lycra and headphones following some route on her phone, and ignoring the worlds greatest restaurants, eschewing conversations with locals, refusing to smoke, abstaining from heavy cream/butter/salt, neglecting the worlds finest wines offered for a pittance, and disregarding the endless art, beautiful clothing, or one of the thousands of parties. I learned all of this in the time it took me to ask for my check and leave.