Sunday, December 28, 2008

Found! Data for Future Taxidermic Analysis

Date: 12/27/08
Found: $8.75 in second car of 1:23pm off-peak Mid-Town Direct to Penn Station
Current Status: Colin McGrath's tip jar after performance at Rockwood Music Hall, Allen Street, LES, Manhattan.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Another Brick in the Wall

James E. Campbell, the principal of my all-American white trash rodeo of a high school, had devised a fool-proof system to guarantee posters hung on campus were official: he would sign them all in the lower right-hand corner. Unfortunately for James, I had fifteen periods of Graphic Art Shop a week and a hellbent obsession to plaster Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd lyrics up and down the corridors of higher learning. I mean, how deep is it when Robert Plant sings? I had a responsibility to spread the genius. 

(I saw a lion he was standing alone with a tadpole in a jar.)

Graphic art shop nestled across the hall from Wood Shop, Metal Shop and Ag Shop. I did a little stint in Wood Shop but sniffing glue in the backroom with the rest of the class really wasn't my thing. Metal shop doubled as a free labor internment auto mechanic camp for the bus depot. And the Aggies kept to themselves, identifiable in their gang 4H jackets. But graphic art shop, well, it featured some interesting advantages:
  1. There was a dark room.
  2. Mr. Kreider fancied himself not so much a teacher as a print shop operator. He rode the school printing press like the father in A Christmas Story rode the oil furnace in the basement.  The fact that 20-odd teenagers happened to be in his immediate vicinity never really captured his interest or attention. It didn't much register if some or all of those teenagers disappeared for lengthy and random intervals.
  3. We had an unlimited supply of typesetting equipment, paper of all sizes and rubber stamp fixins.
On the downside, our apathetic ink-smeared teacher would select one sacrificial lamb each class as his assistant to run the printing press. He'd make you keep an eye on the paper rollers. Cross your fingers nothing would go awry, because if you touched the press, there was a solid 50/50 you'd be lit up by an electric shock transforming you into paralyzed Andy Gibb until you fell on the floor and your hand lost contact with the steel. 

I made it a point to be as inconspicuous as possible at the top of the hour. I had my aforementioned obsession to attend to. 

(But but but around the town it was well known when they got home at night their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them within inches of their lives...)

First, we collected a random sampling of official posters featuring the official James E. Campbell signature from a cross section of campus locations. As long as you had a lavatory pass, no one would bother you if you were out and about in between bells. Luckily we in Graphic Arts Shop were honing our craft and probably a reputation for irritable bowel syndrome. We manufactured a skid of first-rate lav pass forgeries. There were a lot of entrepreneurs at AC High School. Most of them sold speed, pot and meth. We Graphic Art Shoprats sold forged documents and rubber stamps of teachers' signatures. You could custom-order your dad's if you paid up front and brought in a clean original.

After an in-depth handwriting analysis spanning at least four hours and involving practically everyone in Graphic Art Shop, we fashioned a prototype of James E. Campbell's John Hancock. This prototype was taken into the dark room and burned onto film, then onto a press plate. From there, it was as simple as printing 1000 copies on poster-sized paper. Suddenly, the hallways were filled with much more colorful signage options and my dream of plastering the poetry of classic rock the entire way up and down C Hall was realized. 

Through this experience, I picked up on the crucial nature of details, the value of teamwork, and that you can't rely on glue-sniffers for even relatively simple tasks. It was probably the most I'd learned all year.

(If there's a bustle in your hedgerow...)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Blurry Trajectory of Irony

Foregoing the bliss of ignorance, I stepped up to the newspaper machine. 

Clink. I deposited quarters in the slot, pulled open the hinged door. The newspapers were piled up inside. I leaned over and grabbed one. My glasses fell off and landed inside the machine. The door slammed shut.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Channeling Great Grammy Frimmer: Smackdown in China Town

Bubby R always said Great-Bubby Frimmer hoisted thrifty to a radically new level. Fabric shopping with her... oy vey. It always turned into a farshlepte krenk already. She'd haggle with the clerk at Woolworths, for the love of Got.

Suddenly, I recalled this ancient family kvetching in the middle of the whole affair on Canal Street. Actually I was on Broadway, just south of that enormous kinky reggae impenetrable sidewalk swarm that goes on down there 24-7. But I was not there to buy a Rastafarian bobblehead. I was there because I couldn't go back to the Lower East Side, where I had overwhelmed myself in the claustrophobic labyrinth textile warehouse firetraps. They made me all shvitsy. I suffered a panic attack in the woolens aisle and had to call Lynn to talk me down.

That's why I went on the Yelp! and pinpointed a fabric storefront of managable proportion. Despite the risks to my psychological well-being, I was hellbent for Velvet. I had this grand vision to create a decadent table strewn with velvet and set with a magnificent feast.

And thankfully it was a eureka moment there on the fringes of Chinatown. Out front the fabric store was an industrial laundry cart filled to the brim with scraps of faux fur, shimmery satin and velvet. So perfect for an opulent banquet fit for pirate.

I picked out half the cart before I realized nothing had a price on it. I hauled my take inside the store and found the alter kaker shop owner.

"How much?"

He picked up the piece on the top of my pile. "$5 for this one. And for this one.... $8."

And instantly, like magic, I turned into Bubby F. "What?! Gonif. $5? $8? I'm a shnook to you? See that stain? See that rip? I'll do you this favor and give you $2 tops for that one and $4 for this one."

We went through the ENTIRE MOUNTAIN of fabric in this fashion. Approximately an hour later we had dug down to the last scrap... a fragment of electric blue feather boa. This is when the moment turned contentious and the bickering dragged on for long enough that both of us forgot the total price we had previously agreed to. The shop owner threw up his hands and spat "$40 for the lot of it. That's it. Take it or leave it."

I decided to take it, tokhis oyfn tish, but when I got up to the cash register I only had $38 in crumpled bills. The cashier took it.

Zay Gezunt.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Please Claim: Foreign Objects Present in Our House Subsequent to Banquet of Sir Francis Drake

  • One Wooden Sword (Painted)
  • Two Handbags (Black Coach and Decadent Fuchsia Number)
  • One Seasoned Fish Head on a Stake with Tinsel
  • One Small Treasure Chest Containing Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg) and eight Chuckie Cheese Golden Tokens
  • One Black Lace Shawl
  • Turret-less Brownie Castle that keeps getting smaller every time I go in the kitchen.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Recieve: CraigsList Delivers

No one would ever accuse me of being slightly OCD because slightly is an adjective I rarely manage to achieve.

Right now I'm all over CraigsList again. But this time, I'm the buyer. I got the crazy flipper fingers scrolling through lists of used furniture and household oddities at least twice a day. Ha ha, you know I meant every twelve minutes.

When I hit refresh, bloop bloop bloop, day or night, new posts dance before my eyes like sugar plum fairies. Good clean fun only available within densely populated areas. All these things I never dreamed I could drag home for such small scheckle. So far, I've bought Christmas lights ($10), an electric disco ball ($10), a fuzzy rug ($90), an iron ($5), a fancy teapot ($20) and aromotherapy essentials ($5).

This is where the hangers come in.

The ad said the hangers were new, wooden, 80 for $30. I asked if I could get 40ish for $15. Seller agreed to the terms. Except she had a trick up her mild-mannered sleeve. I had to throw away my large to-go coffee container because the whole episode rapidly turned into a two-handed operation.

We shelled out our $15, and she gave us our 40 hangers. Except she threw in a ginormous box of about 200 more hangers as a parting gift.

Holy sweet merciful fuck. This box of hangers dwarfed regular-sized boxes of hangers and presented unique physically demanding challenges. People took great pains to avoid us teetering down the sidewalk. I really needed that whole cup of coffee and cursed more than was probably entirely necessary. But in the end, our reckless endangerment of others was worth it. All my pants now have homes of their own. So do my pajamas, towels and socks.

Perhaps vous is in need of a sturdy hanger to dangle your finery? 50 cents each, two free with purchase of a dozen.

I love the CraigsList.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Found! Data for Future Taxidermic Analysis

Date: 11/25/08
Found: One Dime in Second Floor Ladies Room, 1719 Route 10 East, Parsippany NJ.
Current Status: In back right pants pocket of brown chinos, hanging in closet at residence.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Avoid the Ones in the Rain Ponchos: A Scientific Study

What I find most remarkable about the tourists walking on the sidewalk in Manhattan, god bless their economic contribution, is their solid refusal to accept that they are not riding in a car. They are nakedly vehicle-less on the crowded streets, meandering along sandwiched between millions of us actually trying to get someplace on time.

Current Working Hypothesis:
  • Tourists in denial: although on foot, retain delusion they are somehow in automobile.

Two Preliminary Observations Supporting Hypothesis:
  • Families cluster on the sidewalk as if they were enclosed by a four-door sedan. Dad on left, mom on right, two kids in the back.
  • Out-of-towner discussions ensue as if occurring inside a car with the windows rolled up.
    Case Study:
    Fanny-pack woman on a street corner waiting for light to change waves around a map and exclaims, "Where are we? I think the Empire State Building must not be on this street. I said we should have turned back there."
    Her husband replies, "No, I think it's up ahead on the left."
    Meanwhile, a dozen locals are close enough to breathe on, all of whom wonder silently why nobody has asked them to point toward the Empire State Building. New Yorkers do not understand that tourists sneaker along inside invisible autobody pods.
  • Tourists loudly protest and complain about rudeness when they get bumped by another pedestrian. Accustomed to traveling comfortably seated inside a buffer of glass and steel amidst orderly traffic patterns, they are not used to the open-air, full-body exposure to others, jostling in lassez-faire sidewalk free-for-all mayhem.
Scientific Inconsistency Refuting Stated Hypothesis:
  • If one of the visiting pedestrian meanderthals or 4-abreast mall-walkers was driving along in their pick-up truck, they would likely not squeal to a complete stop in the middle of the highway to admire something shiny in a shop window.
    And then wonder why they got rear-ended.
  • Further analysis is required.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things that are Sluggish

  1. Power Tools with less than 10,000 rpm motors
  2. Big Black Houseflies in autumn
  3. Decisions made by a committee
  4. Tourists on the sidewalk in midtown
  5. Skis in deep wet powder
  6. Nightfall in mid-summer
  7. Robitussin pouring into the little dosing cup
  8. The Acceptance of Change
  9. Karma going around and coming around
  10. Tractors on the highway

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Memoirs of a Truant

I had a little problem with truancy growing up. There were key reasons for this:
  • School started hella early.
  • I had largely figured out how to successfully stay under the radar and not go to school, or not go to school until after lunch period, at least three days a week. So showing up at 0-dark-hundred hours for the other two days really cut into my busy schedule, as well as disrupted my biorhythms.
  • I had fifteen periods of graphic art shop a week my senior year and it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep myself entertained.
In case you haven't figured this out by now, we lived in bumfuck. The same percentage of my graduating class went to college as went to jail. There were no AP classes, no fun electives, no clubs (except 4H) and the principal would at one point be hospitalized for mental instability.

Avoiding school attendance is actually easier than you might imagine. Mostly, the trick is in the planning. You have to put on your Dr. Evil cap early... as in the year before. You must get yourself scheduled for study halls, gym class and/or gifted and talented periods in the morning. As many as possible and back-to-back. Because here's the thing:
  • If, during the first week of school, you do not show up for homeroom and study halls, the teacher simply assumes that a roster error has occurred and you are really supposed to be somewhere else. They will strike your name from the roll-call roster. In my personal and rather vast experience pulling this stunt, they will never double check that you are, in fact, somewhere else. Or, shall I say, somewhere else besides your bed.
  • If you do not show up for gym class, the teacher will also assume you were not scheduled to be in that gym class and strike you from the roster. Since every student is scheduled for at least one gym class, she will assume you are in another gym class. When it comes time to grade report cards, the teacher will not double check against class rosters to ascertain that you are actually in a gym class. She will just give you a "B." She will assume that if she doesn't remember you, you weren't particularly good and you weren't particulary bad.
  • Not showing up for gifted and talented requires a little, but not much, additional foresight. All you have to do is dredge up some serious passion for a discipline requiring "field work." Biology is generally a safe bet. You tell the teacher you will be outside by the edge of the school yard collecting airborne particles, for example.
Not being scheduled for a lunch period is the mark of an elite truant. Very few can manage the extreme corruption required to stack up 3 or 4 classes in a row where everyone thinks you are legitimately somewhere else. Plus you have to get yourself in one of the earlier lunch periods. It took me almost 3 years to manage this feat more than one or two days a week. Which is when I became a level 18 Defiantly-Not-A-Morning-Person.

Found! Data for Future Taxidermic Analysis

Date: 11/15/08
Found: One Dime in back pocket of pants purchased at HousingWorks Sample Sale on 17th Street
Current Status: Still in same pants pocket.

Found: One Nickel near Cashier 26 at Whole Foods on 7th Ave by 25th Street.
Current Status: Gave to bartender in lobby of Rubin Museum as part of tip for good Mohito.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11|11 Hail the Wale!

Today is National Corduroy Day. Hail the Wale! I did not indulge in any festivities. Frankly there were none. Celebrating is such a waste of time anyway, I used the hours and got busy with some more productive endeavors.

Like I took a moment to ascertain the contents of my desk at work in a proactive fashion. Seems I've collected one entire drawer full of extra footwear. Mostly sneakers, but a few clogs wormed their way into the mix. Sometimes an office worker just needs an emergency change of shoes and it is important to be fully prepared. Either that or my shoes at home are escaping the lousy closet conditions by migrating to my office.

I also have a drawer full of cereal (hot & cold), a drawer mostly full of pants and another drawer where I store papers people have given me which don't really look that interesting. The papers are organized chronologically, oldest on the bottom. I'm thinking when the drawer fills up I'll probably recycle them.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Ancestoral Journey and Ultimate Taxonomic Classification of the Penny I Found

On January 5, 1970, my great-grandfather, Louis, dropped dead from a heart attack at the corner of 7th Avenue and 28th Street. He had just come from the subway.

Personally, I would never take the subway to 28th Street, as this would require the #1 train and everybody knows yo' mamma can waddle faster than the #1 train. My great-tseidy must have hopped the #2 into Manhattan from his apartment in the Bronx, and then switched at Penn Station on 31st. Why he just didn't schlepp the last three blocks on the sidewalk confounds me. Maybe it was really cold out.

Over the summer, I was taking my own advice and clipping down 7th streetside, when I spied a lost penny on or about the historic 28th street block. I picked it up. It turned out to be a 1942 Wheat Penny. The scene was very dramatic in my own mind.

I toted the penny home and lined it up in a row of other important streetfinds: two large washers, and two bolts, one of them hollow. I had a few words with my Uncle George, a numismatist (thanks Bob), who placed a value of $65 on the coin. Uncle George was uncertain as to the resale on the other items.

Right after that, my collection disappeared. On Cleaning Lady Day. Suzanne said I really should call up the cleaning ladies and have words with them, but I decided to hold out.

For a full two weeks, my washers, bolts and penny were nowhere to be found, despite fierce searching. Finally, I uncovered them in my underwear drawer. Nothing like a bolt to freshen up your panties.

Carefully, I lined up my recovered caboodle on green felt. I am going to label each item with the date and location of its discovery. I will consider various methods of classification, with a goal to nail down a scientific taxonomy for the cataloging of roadbooty.

This will be big.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boo. Shocking Suburban Yard Excitement.

When I came home from work yesterday, I would have parked in the driveway except for this ginormous blown-down tree. Here's a tally of how much Tom owes me:
  • On Saturday, I told Tom he should move his car from its normal parking spot or I would probably burn a hole in it. He begrudgingly complied. He was very "busy" upstairs playing with his computer. I noticed his sour look despite my welding helmet, which really does a number on your capacity for astute observations. I crank it up to the max-14 total-darkness setting. Which is why I have a tendency to weld thumbs and fiberglass autobodies. Tom re-parked completely over on the bleeding edge of the driveway. He knows this.

    Later that afternoon, we went to the City for a long weekend. Which meant Tom's car was still parked way over there when the tree fell down. And crushed the exact spot where Tom's car has normally been parked every single day since forever.

  • After I paused in stunned surprise and quietly google-eyed the smashed oak blanketing our driveway with tree carcass, I came to understand that Tom's car, although unscathed, was totally stuck back there. I also beheld the sleety snowy wintery mix and the impending darkness.

    So I went inside, put on a pair of purple track pants, my ski hat, my ski gloves, a parka and work boots and I cleared out a wide swath. I hauled a massive bonfire-sized pile of big slimywet branches off the driveway. I clocked myself in the head with a dangling trunk stalk. I tore a page out of Andrew's book and sawz-alled a little bit. Just so Tom could drive out his car.
Currently, I am contemplating various payback opportunities.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Pitfalls of Complimenting Household Appliances

While vacuuming:

"Wow, look at this little Hoover go. It really sucks!

...I mean, in a good way."


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Minor Literary Glitterati John Hodgman

We were ten minutes late for the 7pm appearance of John Hodgman at the Barnes and Noble on Union Square. Luckily, John Hodgman was also late. At first, I was happy we didn't miss anything, but then I started to wonder how many Karma points I had redeemed in the transaction. This bothered me until I found two shiny pennies on the street on the way home and I knew I was square with the gods.

To keep the mostly pasty-white and bespeckled geekmo crowd occupied until his tardy arrival, Hodgman had commissioned an opening act, a folk singer named Jonathan Coulton.

Later, we learned that Jonathan had been born feral and raised by woodland creatures in Connecticut, but outwardly he exhibited few traces of his seedy past. Except his buckskin shirt and Davy Crockett hat. Initially, I enjoyed Coulton's songster antics with an air of flighty inattention, but when he recited all the U.S. presidents in precise historical order, I realized the act was a potential Learning Experience.

John Hodgman is a minor television celebrity: the PC guy on the Mac ads. He started out as a freelance writer, which is largely how he wound up reading from his latest book at the Barnes and Noble. His almanack, The Areas of My Expertise boasts an information-packed ensemble of complete world knowledge arranged in useful order. Hodgman claims to have performed some research in preparation of the book, but it was scant, haphazard and largely accidental. Most of it, he made up himself.

In the TV ads, Hodgman comes off as a self-effacing moonfaced nerdnick. In person, he's more of a moonfaced smacktalker. Mainly it was a Woody Allen sort of funny affair, but every so often I kind of wanted to beat him up. Undertones of meanie sharp-tongued pantywaist color me slightly violent, apparently. I mean, it's a fine line between comically conceited and just conceited.

Tom and I were too cheap to buy the hardcover and too lazy to stand in the book signing line. We picked up Hodgman's first book, now available in paperback. Then I pitstopped into Gap Body because I needed to buy underwear, or so called "gatkas" when you are speaking with your litvisch bubby.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Touché Tushey

What if you were riding on the train with your husband, or anybody really, sitting in one of the butt-to-butt two-seater benches. The window on the left and a metal arm rest on the right sandwich you both in place pretty squishy-like.

And what if somebody rolls up and asks if they could sit down between you.

"Excuse me, could you shove over a bit? I can get in there. I know I can get in there." They try to Vulcan mindtrick you into believing they can mash their whole self into the two-inch sliver of unoccupied space on the bench seat.

Maybe they'd like clench their hiney cheeks together in an effort to appear less horizontal. You'd be like, say what? and get all scowly-eyed and intractable. Or maybe you'd pull a New York and pretend you didn't hear anybody talking in hopes they just silently give up and go away.

I ruminated for an hour over this possible circumstance. I have to plan out my reaction just in case.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Photo from Party Scores High on Awesome Meter

A photo of Michael and Tom at the Festival of 504 Lights last Saturday came out great, some even describing it as "amazing." The picture, part of a larger work-in-progress by the visionary self-portraitist Michael, was taken at approximately 11pm and represents the zeitgeist of that twilight hour... the time betwixt the first cocktail and the one right before a hard-nippled gentleman of the hands-on variety started whipping out his junk in the backyard.

"Michael spent an inordinate amount of time in the planning and conceptual phases of the photograph," said bystanders close to the shoot location. "He said he strove to achieve an allegoric representation of the unbearable lightness of being."

Experts are divided as to the artistic inspirations underpinning the photograph. The largest opinion pool posits that both the choice of subjects, the pose and the moodiful lighting closely emulates the famous Charles and Georges Durand-Ruel painted in 1882 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir:

"I have never seen this painting before," claimed Michael vehemently. "Art history is not a required course for pharmaceutical technicians."

As for the future of the photograph, it has already captured significant acclaim amongst Michael's clatch of Facebook friends. While clearly the standout shot in the album, other notable pictures include several of the fabulous party's hosts, Andrew and Tracie, looking both chic and casual glowing beneath the light of 504 candles.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Battle of the Carpet Hair Booty

Subsequent to The Giant Green Chair Catastrophe of 2002, I am fully onboard with the notion that bringing home measurements and fabric swatches is a worthwhile pursuit. Things look different in real life than they do in the store. Which is why I asked Rick, the excitable carpet salesman, if I could take a slice of #63 Honeydew Flotaki carpet to test it out in situ. To my dimay, Rick claimed he didn't have any Honeydew for take-out. What a pill.

Yet I was not to be deterred, launching immediately into a persuasive and rational dissertation on why Rick should spare me a square. Certainly he could count on me to return it. I have a well-deserved reputation for bringing back carpet swatches, even when nobody wants them back and is frankly surprised when I show up with a pile of matted pile. I made it clear to Rick that I'm a relentless, guilt-ridden greenie and carpet is made from a petroleum derivative.

Rick remained steely-eyed, limp wristed and completely unmoved by my unimpeachable logic. So I resorted to whining and he must have realized this could go on for a while. In the spirit of teamwork and because he probably had plans that evening, Rick came up with a Nobel-prizewinning compromise. He got himself an Exacto knife and cut off a selection of carpet hairs, which he handed to me bouquet style:

I carried my little bundle home like the carpet hair stalks were made of gold.

So how do you think the carpet will look?

Here's another angle so you can get the full effect:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Intervention

My brother Sethie calls me up:

"Did Mom call you?"
"About Dad?"

"Yeah. And the Dots."
"I don't know if it's possible to be addicted to Dots."

"So did you figure out why she thinks he's addicted to Dots?"
"He buys them in bulk from the Mennonites. And he eats a whole box while he's driving."


Monday, September 22, 2008

Facebook Coagulates the Gene Pool

About half my Facebook Friends have the last name "Thomas." They happen to be my cousins. My prodigious uncles discharged a goodly number of little Thomases into the world wide web.

Or maybe I just don't have a whole lot of other friends, thus increasing the proportion of Same Last Namers in my overall Facebook Friend pool.

The Facebook is smart. As well as forward thinking. And interested in geneology for the purpose of bringing kinfolk together. It gave my Friend list the once over and must have noticed I have a thing for 15 - 25 year-old pisanos sporting the "Thomas" surname.

A little notice popped up identifying "People I Might Want To Add to My Friends." Thus notifying me as to the whereabouts of my potentially long lost cousin, Michael Thomas:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tom on The Dogs in the Closet

I wear the same things pretty much every week. I'm not really what you'd call a clothes hound."


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Harry Potter is Dangerous as a Terrorist so We'll Need to Take Away Your Freedom to Protect You from His Dastardly Band of Devil Worshipper Magicians

To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves. ~ Claude-Adrien

After the Nazis torched all those books in 1933, most Americans realized with horror that burning or banning books just because one group didn't like the storyline was censorship. And censorship is what separates democracies from fascist regimes. If you can't read what you want to read, you are a subject and not a citizen.

Did you ever hear anyone say, "That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me?" ~ Joseph Henry Jackson

How much must you fear an idea before you attempt to banish the thought from the planet? Do you think that just because you stick your fingers in your ears and go nah nah nah nah nah nah that the idea will curl up and turn to ashes? Do you think that you are protecting your children by shackling their brains and pretending that no one is gay or agreed with Buddhism or got their period or disobeyed their parents? Do you fear your children will forget your teachings if they so much as glimpse a differing view?

Why. Why are you so fearfully insecure about the cogency of your beliefs?

I fear for America. I fear evil aliens have snatched the bodies of the voting public and they will crush us in a bloodless revolution. No one will know what happened until it is too late.

This is a list of books which organizations Sarah Palin belongs to have wanted banned:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Ro wling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Ro wling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Ro wling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Ro wling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Ronald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Ronald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gil ly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Ronald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Great Uncle Elliot Gone Wild

I have spoken to my great uncle Elliot a grand total of three times in my entire life and one of them was when I rocked the duties of Flower Girl at Ronnie's first wedding. Since Uncle Elliot had missed my Grampy's funeral last week, he drove up from Florida to pay his respects and visit my grammy, his sister. They would bond and reminisce. Speak Yiddish Pig Latin like they did when they were ten and think they're hilarious.

Just to see how she was doing, I called up Grammy, who broke out her mad skills in slathering AWKWARD across an otherwise straightforward phone call. She asked me point blank if I wanted to say hello to my great uncle Elliot. Ummm. Sure.

Uncle Elliot required little if any prodding to launch into a tale about his years at Radio City Music Hall playing in the pit orchestra. He'd watch the girls audition for the Rockettes. The first cut was a test. The Silver Dollar Test. They'd make the girls hold three silver dollars. One between their thighs, one between their knees and one between their ankles. The auditorium would get very quiet and then you'd hear a silver dollar drop. CUT!

I said, oh. ok. well. it would be nice to see you while you're in town.

And Uncle Elliot replied, Yes, I'd like to see your set.

I can't be sure, he's 85, he was low talking, but I kind of swear that's what he said.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Grandpa R : Rest In Peace

My grandfather's yarns string together all I know about his life. He always told the same stories. Just the facts. Using the same words, the same inflections. Any number of current events could trigger a hasty rocket launch into one of his memories. And once commenced, you would. always. be treated to the whole gantzeh megillah.

A dozen years ago, Grampy maybe had twenty tales he'd rotate through. More recently, he winnowed the lot down to about five. He must have known we'd heard every one of them countless times before. But the past held so much more promise then any present-tense conversation ever could. My grampy liked to be the center of attention.

Grampy escaped with his family from Romania after the Bolsheviks invaded and it became dangerous to be a Jew. He lived in the Lower East Side, eventually moving up to the Bronx. I got the feeling he was in a lot of street fights, but the fisticuffs always broke out in the space between his stories, so we never really got a full-frontal view.

Early on, Grampy hung with the no-goodniks. (Like the Italian kid who galloped past my grandparents strolling down the sidewalk on a date. The kid shouted "Hey Curly!", told my grandma he was pleased to meet her, and then said he had to go because the police were chasing him.)

Grampy had some sechel. He ran numbers in the backroom a poolhall for a bookie. He worked in the family fur business mid-town as an admittedly subpar nailer and as a floorboy. (Once he stuck scissors into a light socket in an attempt to fix it, shocked himself. His father ran over all farkrimpteh because Grampy ruined the scissors.)

Grampy danced in the Savoy Ballroom (with Ella Fitzgerald) and started a club called the Croes Nest on Croes Avenue above 174th street where he met my grandmother. He went into business driving a truck, went bankrupt and got in trouble with the mob.

Grampy went to war when my dad was two, came back two years later. He said he grew up in the army. I think he probably straightened up. Took advantage of the GI bill and got a college degree at age 38. Was proud of his work, his hatch-cover patents, his negotiating prowess. He was the first in his family to speak English, to graduate from high school, the first with a college degree. The first to have a white collar job and a house in the suburbs. He had a lot to be proud of and he liked to talk about it.

I have a few present-tense memories of grampy. The way he danced with grammy at our wedding. How he helped me determine whether it was better to buy or lease and measure for window treatments. Reading in Hebrew at Passover. "Chatting" with me on Prodigy. Yelling at me for being a disrespectful nudje. Singing made up songs about his old friends Tabachnic, Garonic and Moisch Mendelson while driving irradically in the car.

Grampy told me one of the biggest regrets in his life was that he never thanked his boss at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a guy named Abbyaddy. Abbyaddy let him study when he really should have been working.

One of my regrets is that I never knew my grandfather in any other time except before I was born. Although... many of the stories Grampy told happened when he was younger than I am now. And I don't have any stories of my ill-spent youth I'd think progeny might find fascinating. Even on the first telling.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Let them Eat Cake

Back in the Paleozoic era about fifteen years ago, I was popular with the Ladies who Lunch. The ones who live in Peapack, eat tiny sandwiches and complain about the help. They would hire me to design their party invitations, personal stationary, and campaign materials for an occasional kid's student council run.

Newsflash, and you might want to jot this down: if you want to kick some major high school ass, get your mommy to hire a professional advertising agency to lock down your run for class president. I am proud to say our candidates never lost an election.

My assistant Dmitri drove down to Mary's place. Possibly, he needed to drop off press proofs for our crushingly successful "Vote chRis" campaign. The first time I had gone down there myself, I met Mary's houseboy who twittered on endlessly about the terrible ordeal of finding ribbon to match Mary's satin pumps.

It was a fine spring day. Dmitri drove through the service gates and somehow took a wrong turn on one of the roads leading up to the main house. Luckily he saw Mary motoring across the property in a golf cart. She gave him directions. He asked her where she was headed in the golf cart. She said, "What's the point of having a pool if you're all sweaty by the time you get back to the house."

Yes, exactly.

Luckily for my soul I found other ways to make a living.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pack Rats Unite For Art!

Before yesterday's epoch-shattering visit to MoMA, I used to think there was nothing more to picking up assorted rusted roadbooty in the parking lot then rampant OCD. But now I know better. I'm doing it for Art. Because I am obviously on track to become an Artist. And possibly not an Artist starving for a reason.

We saw a Mark Dion exhibit in the CurioKammer area on the second floor of the museum. Dion (b. 1961) "bases his installations on the methods of categorization found in natural history museums. He filled this cabinet with curiousities found in the museum's sculpture garden."

Eureka! I will become renowned within art circles for my provocative juxtaposition of lost pennies and clevis pins. I am going to empty my pockets and start taking this seriously.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Title of my Book will be, "Help! A Large Raccoon and his Two Friends are Beating My Ass COLON: The Story of Defending the Cat Door At Our House"

From: Stacey
Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 10:54 AM
To: Erin
Subject: Complex plan of action

Hey there,

Thanks so much for offering to feed our cat while we are at the beach. Ok, so we have a very complex multi-layered approach to the Raccoon Situation. Here’s the Plan:
  • We have fortified the Raccoon Fence with additional sheet metal, duct tape, bolts, WD-40 and ammonia. We are little concerned about the ammonia as it may repel the cat as well as the raccoons. I was a little heavy handed. If you come in and the food is not eaten at all, please put food in the Auxiliary Locations as specified below.
  • Inside the basement, there are two food bowls. One at the bottom of the steps and one at the top. We are keeping this approach because if the raccoons find one food bowl they tend to not go looking for another one.
  • The food bag is right on the top of the basement steps inside the door. Please keep the door closed as if the cat gets up stairs he will spitefully rip our furniture to shreds and if the raccoons get upstairs they will eat everything except the condiments in the refrigerator. They may actually eat the condiments in the refrigerator.
  • There is an auxiliary food bowl on the front porch.
  • There is another opportunity for an auxiliary food bowl on the back deck. In the old cat box Tom attached to the top of the fence. Unfortunately, turns out, the raccoons can shimmy up there, but if you come in the morning Alex will have first crack. We didn’t put anything in the bowl in there now, thinking it is for emergency use only if all other tactics fail.

You’ll get a purple heart after this one.

(PS: The radio in the basement blaring WPLJ, Hits of the 80's, 90's and Today, is the last prong in our defensive strategy. Do not be alarmed.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How much for that Weed Wacker?

Mary's mom heads over to the neighbor's house for the yard sale. All the goods are spread out over the yard. She browses.

Until somebody comes out and tells her they're just cleaning out the shed.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tom and the Mysterious Hair

"Look at this hair in the cat bowl. It's black and white with a sprinkling of tan. Do you think it is Alex's hair? I hope it's not a raccoon hair."

"I'm going to pluck a hair from Alex for comparison purposes. Probably the most exemplary hairs are in his hindquarter."

"I didn't actually hold the two hairs next to each other. But I think the hair in the cat bowl came from Alex. I really hope it came from Alex."

"The other option is we could put piles and piles of food outside so the raccoon doesn't have to come inside. But that would only be only if we were really desperate."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tally. Ho! Artists and Copywriters on Math™

It all started when Andrew got the ball rolling last night and afterwards I couldn't get it off my mind. I spent most of this morning fantasizing about calling up my Intellectual Property attorney and telling him that I want to get a business process patent for "Math." Not old arithmetic, mind you, but New Math.

First thing my IP lawyer will ask if we created "Math" less then a year ago because you have to file within a year. Absolutely, yes. It's fresh. It's shiny as a polished multiplication table. As far as you're concerned anyway.

Then the lawyer will ask if every time we've used our "Math" we've noted that it is our proprietary methodology. Oh certainly. Math.™ ©2008. For sure, every time any kind of numeral sniffs around any other numeral for any purpose whatsoever.

Ok, the lawyer will say, can you describe the functionality that your Math offers. Snort. Of course. Anyone can see it's so obviously revolutionary.

Then I will patiently explain that the next-generation Math we employ is relatively incomprehensible to Old Math practitioners. For example, in our style Math, six to the sixth power could be anything between 36 and several hundred, depending on how many people are involved in figuring out the answer and whether it is before or after 10am.

In New Math, the answer to any problem, from your basic addition/subtraction to trigonometric function action, can be determined vis-a-vis lengthy heated conversations and people crawling around on the conference room table. Snacking can speed progress. Everybody needs a pencil sharpened just perfectly and a lot of time and energy is exerted in this area.

At the end of the maximum length of time that think-tank participants can possibly take it, someone decides what the answer is. Or what the answers are. In New Math™ sometimes there is more than one answer. I mean, one answer is good and all, but more is better. If you have more than one answer, then you can give a rotating answer every time you get asked the question. Based on the reaction you get, you can adjust your response the next time. Or maybe decide to use particular answers with certain demographics or in certain situations, as deemed appropriate.

I'm thinking we charge a modest licensing fee if anybody wants to deploy our methodology. It'll be closed-source because we're money grubbers. And also because the complete lack of repeatable process makes any sort of interfacing mostly unattainable. We will offer Certifications in Math.™ Could be the math of choice for investment bankers and sub-prime lender types, I'm thinking.

Dig it, Digit?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flea Market Ahoy!

The real problem is the general public’s inability to deal with the hazards of flea market culture. That’s why most go retail. But for me, there’s nothing like the thrill of wondering if must-have rubberized binoculars are covered in some kind of dramatic and dangerous fungus.

My fleamanship circumference extends from West 17th north to 25th. Sometimes I take the free shuttle to the Hell’s Kitchen market but Deborah the ex-glass blower has a booth on the corner up there and man can she talk a blue streak. Plus she tries to sell me repurposed safari gear that’s like the household goods equivalent of a comb-over.

Personally, I think the famous Antique Garage on West 25th is overpriced. But it’s a good shortcut to the Goodwill flagship store if you go in on the south side. Then you can stroll over to the open-air market down the street. You can wheel your Smarte Carte right over everybody’s feet on 6th Avenue. It doesn’t bother the tourists because they all wear adequately padded leather sneakers but the omnipresent flip-flopping New Yorkers sure get pissed off. Whatever. (One time I saw a chick in flip-flops sideswipe a piece of stray birthday cake on the sidewalk and icing oozed up between her toes. The horror of it all turned me anti-flip-flop.)

My rule of thumb is to offer 75% of the asking price after a long pause where I do the math in my head. If you offer less, you might get yelled at. I took a big chance the other day when I offered $5 for a pair of faux leopard skin loafers. I didn’t realize how big a chance until later on when I witnessed the same vendor turn tomato red and burn out his larynx screaming at a guy for offering a purported ridiculously paltry sum for a box of buttons.

Today, I scored two mid-century sofa tables, 6 African silver thingies, and a string of green glass beads (the big ones). Plus the dishes from the Boonton Auction, but that's a whole other tale.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Ink Problem

I had this enormous tattoo. A full back plate depicting some swarthy military hero in a pith helmet and a colonial jacket. A banner fluttered out under him that read "Viva la Columbia."

Shit. I never saw the "Viva la Columbia" in the tattoo book when I picked it out because there was a smear on the page. I don't have any family from Columbia. I never lived in Columbia. It would be weird to get a tattoo in commemoration of a country because they export a decent coffee bean. I could not wrap my head around how to justify this tattoo.

Thank God it was only a dream.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sofa Tour 2008

We concluded The Sofa Tour yesterday. The journey had stretched on endlessly, but we persevered. We knew the meaning of privations and of hardships. We looked at every sleeper sofa in this entire city. The very last one we saw. Was the One.

Participating in the victory celebration was Kirstie Alley. No, she really didn’t participate in the victory celebration. She just happened to be in the store at the exact same time that the Farewell-to-the-Sofa-Tour credit card transaction went down. Truthfully, she couldn’t have seemed less interested in our triumph.

Nonetheless, we did view the appearance of Rebecca Howe mid-Sofa purchase as an auspicious sighting. The next leg of our journey, The Sofa In Situ, bodes well.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tom on Tour De France Logistical Considerations

21 days. 10 guys on a team. summer. Wow.

That's a lot of laundry. They probably have a washing machine on the team bus.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

清少納言 Things that are Loathsome

When someone has wrapped their entire body around a pole in a crowded subway train and someone else coughs to indicate their annoyance. How loathsome. If a person is sufficiently clueless to body block all the other strap hangers, then hacking up a lung nearby will only communicate you have a tenuous grasp on the purpose of language.

When you share a moment with someone who exists five seconds in the future, she will always finish your sentences for you. When she realizes she’s skittered too far ahead and can’t see you behind her, she frantically gropes backwards through the darkness of time to find you. She jitters wildly between her moment and yours. It is exhausting to be around her.

When you share a moment with someone who lives inside her own mind, for her, the moment is like a dream. When you dream, no matter what anyone does, it is done for you or against you. When you dream, your perception becomes a reality in which you are the only driving force. When you dream, your reactions are always dramatic because you’re the star of your own daytime REM talkie movie.

When you share a moment with someone who lives in the past, his eyes roll back in his head as he recalls the time when this moment transpired. He will tell you with certainty that your plan won’t work or you’ll blow out your knee. Or he will tell you the long and winding story about the time when it happened. Nothing important occurs in the present, everything meaningful has already finished.

It is loathsome when you only realize the price was negotiable after you bought it.

You managed to get tickets for the third row and have just seen a magnificent show at Lincoln Center. The clean light memory of the experience fills you up like helium and holds you aloft. It is loathsome when some nebbish who got in for free complains the show ended so shortly after his late arrival and he thought it should have gone on for another hour so he could have seen more.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Local Housecat Spends Holiday Weekend at Home

In a surprise move, local housecat, Alexander T. Nash, forewent the opportunity to spend the long weekend in the city. He cited a need to curb the recent surge of lawless chipmunk activity on and about the left perimeter sidewalk area.

Nash, 5, said, "Someone's got to do it [sweep the property of rodents.] These striped lawn monkeys are no petty foe to toy with."

He further noted, "Besides, why would I want to be seen with a person who actually forgot to pack ANY clothing and walked around Chelsea for three days in a sweaty green Gygax-era dungeons and dragons T-shirt? So 'Lost' reject. I don't understand how it is possible not to realize you are hauling a TravelPro with nothing in it but a couple magazines and a pair of brown socks."

Asked if his three days guerilla solo had produced results, Nash commented that he had tirelessly prowled around for a minimum of 2-2.5 hours daily. He did take a short break to watch the Macy's Independence Day fireworks on NBC.

"Despite the pyrotechnics being the biggest and most spectacular in the world, everybody knows you can't see anything but the FDR elevated highway if you spectate outside in the rain like some people I know."

Friday, July 04, 2008

How We Knew It Was Gay Pride Week

1) Our waiter had on a rainbow colored T-Shirt with "I had a bowl of bitchy this morning" printed really big on the front.
2) He was also wearing a matching skirt.
3) He greeted Tom and me as follows: "Hello, ladies."

Pad Thai in Chelsea, 8th Ave at 16th St.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Days with My Favorite Sadomasochists

We bought a property on Friday. During the closing, the seller's real estate agent kept offering to give us ("the enemy") stuff. The seller's real estate attorney looked ready to squeeze his head and crack it like a nut.

Tom and I huddled under the conference room table to escape from stray fisticuffs and evil death stares.

Meanwhile, our very own real estate agent's assistant fiddled with her extremely low neckline and wondered aloud why her Blackberry kept sending email messages all by itself.

I was about ready to poke needles in my eyeballs. Here's just a taste of the backstory. There's more where this came from, but I will spare you.

The Cast in Order of Appearance

Robert H: The Seller's Real Estate Agent
Jane: The Seller
Alan Esq: The Seller's Real Estate Attorney
Stacey and Tom: The Buyers

- - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In a message dated 6/25/2008 4:38:48 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Robert H (the seller's real estate agent) writes:

This email is sent ONLY to Jane (the seller), and Alan Esq (her real estate attorney). At this point, it is a Secret Internal Communication amongst the seller's dream team.

Hi Jane,
For reasons beyond my control, your attorney has failed to provide the buyers' attorney with a list of certified checks which the buyers' have to provide or this closing on friday will be delayed.

I really like Alan Esq. I think he's a great attorney. However, do you think you could have a CHAT with him about his lack of attention to your real estate closing.

If he needs some assistance sending an email, perhaps he just needs to Turn On his computer. I'm sure a few choice words from you will help him provide the closing information needed to close by friday.

Since there is a 2 hour time difference, this little problem may be cleared up by the time you get this email. I have great faith in alan's professionalism. I'm sure this little problem will disappear today.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
On Jun 25, 2008, at 11:33 AM, Alan Esq writes:

For this email, Alan Esq sees fit to cc: the ENTIRE CAST including me, Tom, our lawyer, our real estate agent and our real estate agent's assistant. So now we all get to read Robert H's original email. Way to publicize your own incompetence, Alan Esq! I guess if you're going to take the time to churn out a nastygram, you might as well expand the size of your readership.

I will deal with Mr. H directly with regard to his false and defamatory statements.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
On Jun 25, 2008, at 12:33 PM, Tom wrote:

Wow, this is going smoothly.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
On Jun 26, 2008, at 1:45 PM, Robert H wrote:

Dear Alan,

As agreed after the closing, I agreed to send a retraction to all parties involved. I am now keeping my promise I made to you today.

I sincerely apologize if any email I distributed caused you great professional umbrage. As per your later email to me, it was absolutely never my intention to publicize defamatory falsehoods regarding your practice of law.

Everyone makes mistakes but only a few people are honest enough to admit their own. I admit I made a mistake. I hope you can accept my sincere apology.

Best Regards,

Robert H

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two - Four Inches is the Difference Between the Back of a Head and the Artist on Your TicketStub

I have devised an ingenious scheme for increasing my personal elevation above sea level. This skill is essential for general admission shows wherein Only the Tall Can See the Stage.

The secret lies in footwear. Besides the towering platform base needed to jack you up an extra 2 - 4", a light shoe tare weight is also required. Afterall, you can't actually WALK in these shoes so you have to carry them in your backpack to the venue.

Along these lines, I have noticed an interesting statistical anomolie. No matter what doorstep you select to sit on to change out of your commuting shoes and into your stilts, and despite the fact that it takes sub-two minutes to execute the transaction, a resident of the dwelling whose entrance you are blocking will inevitably return home at the exact moment when you have each foot in a different shoe and a sock hanging off his railing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Richard Cheese feat Lounge Against the Machine : Webster Hall : June 21, 2008

Richard Cheese held my hand. He looked deeply into my eyes and sang about some chick in a green shirt named Vanessa's hoo-ha. It was such a highlight.

At Webster Hall, there is always this big Big big Black dude security guard named Lowes. Lowes sits stone-cold and bulging biceps cross-armed in front of the stage. For entire shows, he steely eyes the crowd and keeps us in line via the silent promise of Unilaterally Assured Destruction.

Not even once, have I seen Lowes succumb to the merest facial twitch. But when Richard Cheese broke into a little swanky Vegas-style Shake Ya Ass by Mystikal, I spied full-on, teeth-baring, LOLing. There is something inherently fabulous about a very white man in a tiger-skin tuxedo sahaying around crooning X-rated gangsta rap.

In light of his musical genre, Richard "Dick" Cheese's stage show was not unexpected. Nonetheless, I wouldn't have predicted the hijinx. The man is hotly smarmy, brazenly greasy, semi-sober, yet broadly captivating in his bountiful array of flashy tuxedos.

The band was "the tightest we've seen in this place," according to Tom. The drummer's ernest Patty LaBelle impression may have tipped off the compliment. Or the height of the piano player's vertical leaps. Or maybe it was the lingering impact of Cheese's inspired selection of moi for some audience participation.

From my standpoint, there was one vital flaw. If the guy standing in front of me was my superhero nemesis, he would be named "The Pendulum." People, don't you realize if you toggle your torso back and forth like a drunken demon, everybody standing behind you of equal or lesser height is forced to rotate in the opposite direction lest we stare at the back of your bald sweaty head all night?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Didja Hear The One About....

What do you call it when you get stuck in the airport for hours?


Well, Melissa thought it was funny at the Sushi Lounge yesterday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kashi Masterpiece

My pop is an artist. His medium is cereal. Cold cereal. He layers together high terrariums of flakes and nuggets and mini-biscuits. Masterpieces in glass bowls.

My father's most productive time is in morning. He starts by flinging open the doors of two cabinets entirely packed with cereal boxes. He squintily eyeballs his vast palette of shapes, colors, textures and sizes of pressed grain and dried fruit. He carefully selects the most inspiring for his chunky canvas. Sometimes he pre-blends a concoction of granola and raw oatmeal and flaxseed into a large plastic container. He uses this like primer. For foundation purposes. Flattening it out in the bottom of the bowl.

Clean kitchen counters are not a priority for pop. He loses himself in the process of creation. He takes into account density, mass and buoyancy. He works for varied texture, coordinated color and structural integrity. When the milk and/or applesauce is layered in, the design must stand up to the rapid liquidation.

Pop is a frugal craftsman. He pilgrimages to Lancaster on buying trips, visiting the horse and buggie drivers who trade in expired cereal at steep discounts. He is a fanatical collector of coupons and one time mom had to page him in Big Lots because he became so engrossed unit pricing Cheerios he lost track of time.

Happy Father's Day, D!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sex in the Suburbs

Jen's mad delight on and about Sex in the City: the Movie +
Her shepherd-meister herding skills =
Almost all the OC Girls in the Morristown Clearview Theatre Friday night for the 7:30 showing. Despite the veritable fiesta platter of Labels and Love, Melissa could not be deterred from going down the shore.

"Labels and Love." That's the Carrie-proclaimed theme of the movie. A sensitive exploration into the inner lives of brutal shopaholics. As the movie trundled on, I myself decided to slip into something more comfortable. Like a coma.

For the sake of accurate reporting, which I have never purported any aspiration to achieve, my review of the movie would contain the following three points:
  • All the loose ends from the TV show have been tied up nicely enough for Saks 5th Avenue.
  • A tiny meaty nut of plot is embedded inside an enormous foo foo fruit of cashmere, silk and blue peacock feathers
  • You would think that such smart and independently successful women would be a little less into tartan hotpants and a little more into ten-pin bowling, current events, the solar system, low-carb diets, high-def TV, the Yankees payroll, hybrid cars, delft china, the Olympics, aromatherapy, hartke bass amps, or anything... anything else that exists - past, present and future, in all discovered and undiscovered dimensions.
We knew what we signed up for when we bought the movie tickets. After the credits rolled, we hustled ourselves over to Pazzo Pazzo to fulfill our duty and drink a round of cosmos. Unfortunately, the cosmos at Pazzo Pazzo were unlike any cosmo in the cosmos. Undrinkable to the sensitive pallet. After a smallish brawl with the bartender, we wound up with margaritas on the rocks. Speedwell Avenue is maybe a half step down from Greenwich Avenue.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sprinkle-Spangled Fix Cures What Ails You, Bro

Man rushes into new loose tea store on 9th avenue between 41st and 42nd street. He stops short just inside the tranquil Zen doorway. Wide-eyed and frantic, he twirls around in panic circles, finally bursting out: “Cupcakes? Cupcakes! Where are the cupcakes?”

Tiny hippie shopkeeper peers over her red-rimmed glasses: “Cupcake bakery moved around the corner, Mister.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Etiquette of Flinging Vegetables

At lunch with the bike club, Dad got some spinach lodged between his front teeth. He chiseled away at it with his fingernail. Finally, success! The spinach rocketed through the air and landed in Scott's coffee. Plunk.

Scott didn't notice.

Dad didn't mention it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Running with Jennifer

One mumble from Jennifer about maybe slightly possibly kind of thinking about taking up running after Gavin was born and Tom immediately bellied up as Coach. He snapped into action about a half hour after Jennifer's obstetrician gave the all clear on exercise. Coach Tom fired off a series of running route maps, conveniently located around Jennifer's neighborhood and complete with mileage and topography notations.

Tom followed up with advice on proper sneaker fitting and how not to look like a roadnoob. A liberal sprinkling of phone consultations ensued, topped off with the proclamation that his protege would race in the spring. Jennifer was to pick a 5k out of the race forum and Tom would run with her. Wax off, Jennifer-san!

Race day finally arrived last Saturday. The turnout was big. Eric showed up with Nabeela, Adison, Gavin and a Camera as big as Gavin. Donna and Bob were also in attendance. Although Jennifer's First Five Kilometers was, of course, the main event, the secondary event was that Sethie and I would escort Jack and Ella on their first legitimate 5k. (Recall last December when Mary "Rosy Ruiz" clipped the back two off the Big Chill race course, pushing Jack, Ella and a boat-sized stroller across the finish line in a disqualified sub-30.)

As a result of adversities like obsessive-compulsive disorder, leaving late, being pulled over by the law, or maybe just for the sheer drama of it all, the Nutch and Mary squealed into the parking lot after the race had already started.

Because I am magnanimous, I patiently waited for Sethie to assemble the baby jogger. Then we securely strapped Jack and Ella into the baby jogger. When we finally made it over the start line, it was a whole bunch of minutes post gun going off and long after every single runner, jogger, slogger and walker had vanished into the distance. Luckily there were a lot of pokers so we only achieved wildly dead last for maybe a couple kilometers.

Around midway, we eye-spied Jennifer and Coach Tom up ahead on the downside of a big hill. Jennifer looked frisky of foot and very aerodynamic in her new light blue Nike running shirt.

The crowd went wild for Jennifer's highly photographed finish. She commented later that Coach Tom's training had paid off.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Newsflash! Cher Is Really An Indian

If you are interested in the real Cher's indian heritage, click here. What follows concerns a really fucking awesome party:

There was electric in the air at the recent Lip Synco DeMayo competition. Against the backdrop of a construction worker, a grease monkey, a cowboy and a nurse, the Indian was as tall as a five foot five inch tree.

Her headdress was mighty. So was the ensuing rendition of YMCA. It was a hightest fantasmo right through the last verse where the young man does it all by himself and puts his pride on a shelf.

I thought the Indian looked sort of familiar, but I didn't connect the dots until she took the stage again four acts later, this time decked out in a reckless black body suit and platform space boots.

Yes. It was Cher. She is really an Indian. This heritage has never come out, even during the Insider Star Club luncheon at the annual Cher Expo where such intimate topics as Cher's six tattoos have been reviewed in excruciating detail.

Congratulations to Tracie who took the top prize at this year's deadly Lip Synco DeMayo competition.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wedding Reception Top Music Picks
by Henrik Johan Ibsen

Most partygoers are familiar with the moderately lewd 1969 Rolling Stones song in which singer Mick Jagger boasts of getting forcibly laid by a divorcee in New York City who covers him in roses prior to blowing his nose and then his mind. Whenever asked, I recommend "Honky Tonk Women" for wedding reception set lists.

On one hand, you are cheering about being heaved across a barroom queen's shoulder and taken upstairs for a ride. On the other hand you have just celebrated the sacred vows of marriage and:
  • All the flower girls in their sweet taffeta dresses are shakin' booty
  • The bride's boss, rigged out in pearls and sensible low heeled pumps, sashays through what could only be described as high energy square dance.
  • The bestman is out there boogying with his sister.
  • It is discovered that strappy sandals and ruffled gowns are not the best outfits for grinding.
My other mofo favorite nuptial tunes include: "The Stroke'" by Billy Squire and "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. These can easily be repurposed for any affair where you might have occasion to dance with your great aunt.

Friday, May 09, 2008

My Birthday Day

At first, I fancied really going back to basics for my birthday. Maybe spend the day fasting on nothing but dark green leafy vegetables and little scraps torn from the bible. It would be all like zen and I would rediscover my inner child.

But then we decided to go to the Village and look at real estate and I glimpsed this in a window:

I think it's some sort of B-movie martian in a decorative saddle. It changed my perspective on the day and I decided to live life to the fullest because you never know when a lead pipe will fall from a scaffold and clock you right in the bean.

We enjoyed five hours noodling around in other people's closets and wrestling with the "why" in the question of The Legion Action Figures Posed in Mock Battle Inside Somebody's Kitchen Cabinets.

Subsequently, it being my birthday and all, I decided I was keen on a delicious snack of my choosing. I had 2.5 cups of coffee, spoonfuls of brownie and a lovely lump of seaweed. Then we spent about half an hour shopping for sectional couches at George Jensen in Chelsea. Because everybody knows when you need a nap, the slick move is to shop for upholstered furniture.

I made several phone calls while testing out a brown leather number. Tom said it was poor form to put my feet up on the coordinating brown leather ottoman. This bugged me because as Tracie pointed out, it is the Week of Stacey-- when the menace is left unchecked but everyone has to smile in wry amusement.

The Week of Stacey: May 8 - May 15. Mark your calendar.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lip-Syncho De Mayo : Dirty Love Trio Brings A-Game

I don't regularly fling myself around the kitchen to the frantic and thunderous beat of my new favorite earcandy for no particular reason. I am building stamina for the brutal Lip Syncho De Mayo annual contest at Tracie and Andrew's. Unfortunately, such high-level competition requires more than stamina. People come to play.

Yet the voting pool is a fickle fickle mistress. In a shocking turn of events, the Dirty Love number was passed over for a place on the podium.

The routine, which defied all reason and social order, lasted approximately four and a half minutes. Marc presided over the Frank Zappa ruckus with Bacchanalian charm, a fuzzy black headsuit and a dragon air guitar. Claire, obviously corrupted by dangerous peer pressure, sported black tights, frisky gold sandals and a brazen poodle fetish. She worried that her children would find out she was out after midnight drinking beer, socializing and shakin' her money maker unsupervised. She commented, "My kids keep encouraging me to stay home and hang out in the basement playing Risk."

Meanwhile, looking like the love child of a sinister B-movie villain and Gandalf the Wizard in trucker shades, Bill loomed over the high energy dramatics. According to Bill, the bold and provocative number was the culmination of a month of rehearsals, 27 years of late-night guitar playing, and six weeks of lengthy phone conversations with famous local Crunk star, Solja Boy. He noted for the record that he has never eaten a crayon and this has neither improved nor diminished his mad skills in the lip-sync space.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Revenge of the Flower House

So feast your eyeballs on my eight-passenger spinch leaf. Spawn of the Flower House in the middle of the front yard.

(For full appreciation of the scale, please remember Tom has a giant head.)

So let's caucus people. Do we all finally agree that the Flower House is, and always was, a veritable hurricane of inspiration and foresight?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Do you know Kung Fu? Caus’ you’re kickin.’

I'm back at kung fu at the YMCA dojo. I know it's exciting to dream of a brilliant Lord Voldemort-y nemesis because it challenges you and all that, but I have a few hypermobile vertebrae. So I'm training for a nemesis likely to hoist himself on his own petard. My sensai told me if I don't want to take the throws, I can be excused.

Nonetheless, she invited me to the class Bar-B-Que this afternoon at her house. This kind of lifestyle - hard drinking, hand-to-hand combat, Benadril - takes its toll on your body. The antihistamine only came into play because about 10:30am, a yellow jacket infiltrated my sweatshirt and stung me seven times about the neck and shoulder region. It was harrowing. But I'm white belt tough. I grabbed the yellow jacket in between my bare fingers and squashed it like a bug.

My sensai lives next to an illegal daycare. They put a trampoline out in the mini-yard and let the kids jump on it from the roof. Keeps 'em occupied for hours. Although at least once, my sensai has had her quiet afternoon on the patio interrupted by an incoming child.

About a year ago, the outlaw nanny neighbors put their house on the market and my sensai went over there for an under-cover walk through. In a modern twist on the warmed-over "toy chest" concept, they had hammered nails all over the walls. Floor to ceiling. And hung toys off the nails. Barbi dolls warranted two nails, one under each armpit. A plastic lawn mower dangled over the stairwell making it very difficult to circumvent the landing.

The house never sold. Obviously the neighbors never watch HGTV "Designed to Sell." They'd have known about the universal allure of neutral colors. They'd have painted all the toys beige.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Crowd Goes Wild; Tom Runs The Boston Marathon

Beantown goes recklessly patriotic for Patriots Day. The citizenry celebrates the vision and fortitude of our founding fathers with all the usual fanfare, like beer in plastic cups at 10am. There is also a lot of flinging one's self around and shrieking encouraging words into an endless expanse of multi-colored, spandex-clad marathon runners.

They don't call it The Poeple's Olympics for nothing. Just like you have to qualify to run the race, I think you have to qualify to spectate the affair. You can't just stand there like a googly-eyed lump, as is so prevalent amongst lesser crowds. You need spirit fingers, bullhorns, sharpie markers, balloons, drum sticks, pompoms, and maybe a good high kick.

Bib #6739 trotted in to the finish with no orthotics and one massive blister. Yet despite defeating Heartbreak Hill and 26.2 miles without an iPod, Tom was frisky enough to immediately deck himself in a new Boston Marathon 2008 windbreaker.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Home Improvement According to Grammy R

My Grammy R has been known to tell other people's relatives that their liver patê could be better. She has been known to do this at soaring volume in the middle of Tom's and my engagement party.

But my Grammy has wrapped her head around more than just liver patê. Yesterday she clued me into some ancient family wisdom. She said that a husband and a wife need to work as a team to make a house a home. She passed on to me her home improvement strategy, which she has perfected over her sixy-five year marriage:
  1. Decide what you want to do.
  2. Discuss with your husband.
  3. Go out and buy whatever you want.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

LIke Moths to the Flame on the Front of the Hudson Hotel over there on 58th Street

Nothing says Friday Night like hoofing around the Village at 4am in pursuit of a public defender and an Ethiopian, aka Kerry's sister and her sister's boyfriend. We found them at the Little Branch Bar, a cross between a crowded speakeasy and your mother's basement with a lot of people in it.

I drank a rum buck made out of real ginger and real ginger juice. It was good. I love ginger. One time, I loved ginger a little too much and ate an entire jar in one sitting. (Please keep in mind that what may seem like an assbad idea to some people may seem like a genius move to other people, especially if they have had between three and seven beers.)

How it became 4am confounds me. One minute we were circling the block between 59th and Tenth searching for a bar actually located on 53rd and 9th; the next minute it was three hours later and we missed what could be considered the entire set of the band my friend's friend's friend was fronting; and then suddenly we were downtown late night in pouring rain desperately seeking Susan.

In the bonus round, Tom and I actually got off the train at the same PATH stop where we had parked our car. Not something I take for granted these days. Especially in the proximity of sunrise.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What has the Next Generation Come To?

"Can I get a hit?"

- College freshman kid to a girl at the show on Monday night. A wild girl, brazenly sucking a toke. On a Marlboro Light.