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    Notes on America


    Didn’t Dannon’s low-cal brand of yogurt use to be called Light ‘n Lively? The stuff my mother brought home from the supermarket the other day was labeled Light ‘n Fit–which is okay, I guess, but it was kind of disappointing because, while I have no trouble staying fit, I could’ve used the energy.


    I’m having serious trouble not running out and buying all the cordless power tools you can now get. We have a spare room in the apartment that would be fine for a workshop…except for the noise. I’d like to be able to build a bookcase or two, but it’s not worth being the Noisy Foreigner on the Third Floor Who Now That I Think of It Has Kind of a Strange Relationship with That Nice Mr. Yoneda He Rooms With.


    Asian flavors and things are everywhere now. General Foods International Coffees had some kind of Chai Latte concoction; I almost fainted. Fruit-flavored things all come in mango, too, in addition to the de rigueur peach and apple and strawberry.


    Martha Stewart is totally our gift to the ages. Three thousand years from now, anthropologists will be examining her television show and commercial appearances as artifacts and writing theses like “This goddess united the cult of domesticity with the cult of the questing hero; her final sanctification came after she had weathered the archetypal passage from downfall to redemption.” I was flipping through the channels and landed on her Martha show just as it was starting. The opening theme was–does this woman’s brass go all the way down, or what?–the Swing Out Sister version of “Am I the Same Girl?” I almost died. When one of her ads came on, and she smiled that wide-cheeked, generous Polish smile and fixed us with her flinty death-ray eyes and bellowed, “Christmas is about giving [your credit card to the salesgirl when you’re buying Martha Stewart Living cookie sheets]!” I smirked inwardly and thought, Islamofascism doesn’t stand a chance.


    Can we get a pool together and maybe pay off everyone involved in the CSI series–all the way from Las Vegas to, like, Pigeon Forge, or wherever the latest incarnation is set–to make it GO AWAY? Or at least to hire some scriptwriters who occasionally know how to resist the obvious cliché one-liner? Just once in a while? You know, so that you could happen upon a rerun from a few years ago and expect Katherine to say, “Why did the SUV cross the road?” without Grissom’s doing that fake-contemplative look and answering, “To get to the other side”? It’d be nice to be able to keep my Orange-Mango Light ‘n Fit down, yeah?


    I love Fig Newtons with a passion that’s probably not quite salutary. When you see me, on this site, rhapsodizing about America, I’m not thinking of personal liberty or free speech or our crackerjack soldiers or any of that stuff–it’s the Fig Newtons.

    I wonder, though, whether food manufacturers could do us all a favor? When labeling one of your brand’s epigone versions, could you, like, be more clear about it? Yesterday, every time I grabbed at a food package, it took all my energy to dodge the Splenda/reduced-carb version, the fat-free version, and the low-sodium version. I think it’s wonderful that those choices exist. They warm my heart. Really. But if they’re only labeled with those penny-sized sunbursts that usually contain safely-ignored messages like “Now with even more buttery flavor!” it’s deeply confusing. I don’t see why I should have to work that hard for a box of Cheez-Its.


    Low-carb spaghetti?!?!


    I only get to observe from afar what the political and social climate is like here most of the time. It’s very heartening to see all the “Support our troops” signs and things. Many of them (like the bumper stickers) are obviously well-worn, but a good number are also very clearly well-maintained by their proprietors.


    Maybe if I just bought a cordless drill with a few power-screwdriver attachments included, Atsushi wouldn’t get upset? I could probably get pre-cut lumber somewhere–DIY stuff is popular in Japan nowadays, and that’s the only way I can imagine Japanese people’s being able to do it. But then I don’t get to have saws. My favorite part of Dad’s workshop was always the big, scary sharp tools, though it was probably wise of him not to let me “help” with, say, the table saw when I was, like, five. Maybe I should write Stanley and suggest they develop a range of noiseless saws, the way they have noiseless dishwashers now. Then I could probably fit a circular saw in one of my checked bags. (Nice surprise for the TSA bag searchers and all.)

    2 Responses to “Notes on America”

    1. Janis Gore says:

      Ah, yes, the TSA.

      Our friends from Wisconsin flew a tile saw with them to the coast to install a granite-tile countertop.

      The man is now on a terrorist watchlist.

      Probably for cause after the grief they gave him.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      What did they think he was going to do to terrorize the public with a tile saw in a checked bag?

      Me, I like the way the TSA scanner guy said, “I’m going to strongly suggest you take off your shoes and put them in a bin, too.” Wonder what happens if you give one a level gaze and say, “I’m not very suggestible” and march through. I’m guessing the TSA is not amused.

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