Tuesday, October 24, 2006

So, Playtex is getting a lot of airtime lately advertising it's pseudo-revolutionary sport tampons. I don't wear tampons or play sports, so it's difficult to be critical, but low and behold, I'm going to do it anyway: commercials and the website are tooting the three uniquely sport-friendly levels of protection (which they have dubbed, in a rare moment of prepositional confusion, "levels to protection") including a "one-of-a-kind backup layer (that won't let you down!)", "Unique 360 degree coverage", and a "Contoured Applicator with a No-Slip (trademark) Grip."

No-Slip Grip on a sport tampon applicator? Do they expect that their olympain clientelle will be inserting the tampons mid-sprint?

No goal, Playtex. No goal.

Saw Flags of our Fathers tonight. Pretty standard WWII flick, maybe a little less impressive than I was expecting: perhaps in an effort to collapse a book of 400 pages into a movie of only just over two hours (despite how long it felt), they went for a non-linear approach which made it difficult to follow, especially when considering that, throughout the whole movie, you only really got to know three characters, though you were expected to know all of them by name to make sense of it. There was the leitmotif battle scene gore, easily passed off as a nessecity to accurately potray the horrors of war but, in reality, just as much an attempt to drive in the younger male audiences, and the old men suffering from flashbacks to drive the cautionary morale of the story: war is bad. Also, an interesting storyline involving the hardships a Native American soldier encounters as he fights for the nation that has so mistreated his people. But, overall, I felt little watching this movie, as I do watching any historical movie that lacks a central romantic relationship. Perhaps it's my own disinterest in history; perhaps, it's a generational thing. Either way, what I did find fascinating was this: the moment the very first credit hit the screen, myself and the ten other patrons under fifty stood up immediately, and made a bee-line for the door, exasperated by the thirty minutes of slow-moving epilogue and wrap-up. I heard a forty-year-old man make a cynical comment to his son about the length as I left, but looked at those who were still seated: the majority of the few seats that had been sold for the Tuesday afternoon showing were occupied by elderly patrons, all of which who were still staring up at the screen, thoughtful or teary-eyed, their hands held up to their faces.

Guess I just wasn't part of the target audience.

After the movie, with time to kill, I went shopping. Among other places, I visited Bookland, currently Brunswick's only large bookstore, once part of a small chain. Emily and I were particularly fond of the one that graced the Tontine mall in Lewiston, eventually bought out by Mr. Paperback, and, more recently, shrunk to a third of it's previous size. In it's hayday, however, I went every chance I got: It was there that Emily and I met and obsessed over Randy, the only boy she ever dated who turned out to be just as gay as her. I discovered Charles Bukowski there, sitting in a chair adjacent to the poetry section and leafing through "Love is a Dog from Hell" for an hour or so each time I went, before I could finally afford to buy it. I discovered recently, when I started looking to buy the very same book as a Christmas present for my Father-in-law that the Mr. Paperback serving in it's place has a terribly inadequate poetry section, which is more than can be said of Waldenbooks in the Auburn Mall or Books, etc. in Falmouth, both of which seem to have gotten rid of their poetry sections altogether. Not unlike myself, these business have evolved past the overly emotional medium; still, it seems more my perogative to do this than theirs.

I eventually found the book, gratefully, at Border's in Portland. I've always loved Borders for the same reasons I love Bookland and Barnes and Noble and even the evil and fictional Foxbooks from You've Got Mail: a mix, I suppose, of literary fascination and raw materialism, with just a hint of starry-eyed ambition to be among the names that line the shelves. Overwhelmed with these two distinct kinds of greed and surrounded both by cultured, intelligent people and all the materials I could need to rise to their ranks, I am happy in my wanting, unable to grow bored. It was because of this feeling that I was particularly excited about an application I submitted months ago to the Border's which is opening in Brunswick, and particularly discouraged when it seemed as though they would never call back. They did, eventually, and last week, I got word that I was hired as a supervisor, to begin training this friday for the store opening in mid-November. I'm happy about this turn of events: retail, in my experience, is infinitely preferrable to the food industry, and starting as a supervisor at the store's opening presumedly means I'll be in a fine position for promotion to management in the store's first years. Still, something the interviewer, who was downright angry for a human resources employee, said was bothering me: she mentioned how angry and threatened the owner of Bookland had been rather bitterly, saying that there was more than enough business for everyone, if they can simply compete. It didn't occur to me quite then that it's not so realistic to expect that it can: an independent business, the Brunswick bookland is one of only two remaining, and it seems tradtionally naive to bank upon the loyalty of their current customer base: hell, for ten dollars an hour, I'll be working for the enemy.

The guilt of this gave me pause before I went into Bookland tonight. I sat down with a Dover Thrift Edition and read a short story by Sherwood Anderson, thinking of how I used to by these books back when they were all a dollar or two, because they were all I could afford, but never read more than a few pages of any of them. I strolled through the kid's section, at the same corner of the store as the one in Lewiston had been, and realized that I couldn't remember the exact layout, any longer, of the place I once frequented. I don't know why Bookland in Lewiston had to sell, though it certainly wasn't for competition; presumedly, it must have been because the majority of the Lewiston population can't read. But when Bookland in Brunswick, always sweet with the smell of books and baked goods, closes, we'll all know why.

Like a gold-medalist passing the torch with one hand and flinging her soaking Playtex into the audience with the other, this, I suppose, is progress.