Thursday, June 21, 2012

"How Are You Doing?"

You ever look at someone and just know that they're going through something awful? You don't know what it is, but, whatever it is, it's killing them. You can just tell.

Since you don't really know them, all you can do is say, with all sincerity, "How are you doing?" -- which sounds so inadequate since it's what we all say to each other every day without really meaning it.

But you say it. You say, "How are you doing?" And this other person puts on a brave face and says, "I'm okay. How are you?" But you can tell they're just being polite. They're dying inside.

"I'm good, thanks," is what you say next, even though what you should be saying is, "Hey, you seem troubled, friend. Is there anything I can do?" But that would be sheer madness, because of the risks involved (being misunderstood or taken advantage of or laughed at or whatever).

But what if you made a real connection instead? What if, instead of just being polite, you reached out and thereby saved someone from what was killing them? Just by asking, "How are you doing?" and meaning it and then listening to them tell you what they're going through?

Almost none of us does this. But we should, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Re-reading Savages by Don Winslow

So, I re-read Don Winslow's novel, Savages, today.

Yeah, that's how long it took. I started this morning at about 5. It's now 3pm and I'm done. Plus, I took a lot of breaks. That's how quick Savages goes down.

I did this because I'd heard about Oliver Stone's adaptation coming out soon, and I wanted to revisit this wicked little piece of entertainment.

As I've mentioned, Savages moves fast. Constructed of about 290 little cut-scenes that, as often as not, sort of meld into one another, the book reads like a ready-made screenplay. No wonder Stone was all over it.

Savages tells the story of a threesome who live a kind of idyllic SoCal lifestyle until their particular business (growing & distributing a kind of super-marijuana) garners the unwanted & predatory attentions of a Mexican cartel.

Things spiral pretty quickly out of control, sparking (of course) a big showdown.

It's all pretty standard crime-thriller stuff, but Winslow carries it off with a certain panache. He's an efficient storyteller, and even his most precious stylistic excesses come off as harmless. The narrative has a relentless, gas-pedal-to-the-floor pacing that's really fun.

While I recommend Winslow's book, I can't wait to see Oliver Stone's adaptation of it. Even when Stone makes a bad movie, it's still interesting, and Savages provides substantive grist for the mill of Stone's imagination.

NOW SERVING at Grouchy John's Coffee Shop: Milk Cookies from Tuff Cookie Bakeshop

These shapely cookies come to us from Tuff Cookie Bakeshop, and they're both delicious & cute.

Get them while you can!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Bit Of Wisdom From Fiction

Available from Amazon
From one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors:

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.

- from American Pastoral, by Philip Roth.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What Occupies My Thoughts Today

This is the tidbit that has occupied my thoughts today:

Art, though, is mortal. It breaks, burns, decays; it's thrown out in the trash, blown up in wars, and buried never to be found again. Ancient Greek literature contains mention of thousands of sculptures and paintings, yet none of the paintings survive, and only twenty-four sculptures from a seven-hundred-year period are clearly attributed to individual sculptors. When the Moghuls invaded Persia during the thirteenth century, the first six centuries of Islamic painting disappeared. More than 90 percent of medieval manuscripts have been lost. Even such a popular and recent genre as eighteenth-century Dutch painting had suffered a loss in excess of 90 percent by the end of that one-hundred-year period. Art can outlast humans and is sometimes the only evidence left of entire civilizations, but it is hardly immortal.

What lasts is the desire itself to leave some trace of ourselves indelibly in the world, and we keep looking for new ways to fulfill it.

- from In The Desert Of Desire: Las Vegas and the Culture of Spectacle, by William L. Fox.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New at Grouchy John's Coffee Shop: Behold Darth Puffy!

Despite his soft, huggable appearance, the force is strong with this one...

Anyone who has spent any time with GJ himself knows of his affinity with the Dark Lord of the Sith, so anything Darth is always welcome around here, even when it's cute and small and bound to bring a smile to a small child's face.

And special thanks to Melissa for this 3-month anniversary gift to Grouchy John's Coffee Shop!

Friday, June 1, 2012

MORE NEW ITEMS: Alien Cookies at Grouchy John's Coffee Shop

Aliens have invaded the pastry case at Grouchy John's Coffee Shop!

Made by Tuff Cookie Bakeshop, these sugar cookies are both cute & delicious and provide some sweet accompaniment to your caffeinated happiness.

Help defend the planet! Get these cookies before they take over the world!

New Items: Bacon Buns and PB & J Brioche at Grouchy John's Coffee

The Bacon Bun from Bread & Butter Bakery

The PB&J Brioche from Bread & Butter Bakery
We're always trying new things at Grouchy John's Coffee Shop, and Bread & Butter Bakery has been kind enough to give us these new items for our pastry case.

The Bacon Bun is big, tasty & decadent, mixing the sweetness of a sticky bun with the hearty goodness of BACON!

And the PB & J Brioche is a delicate construction of peanut butter-infused bread filled with fresh strawberry jam.

Both of these items pair beautifully with a hot coffee or latte, and are a great way to start your day.

By the way, supplies are limited, so get here fast!