Saturday, December 31, 2016

What to Wear Cross Country Skiing: A Guide for Noobies

Most people are their own worst enemies when it comes to dressing right for cross country skiing. The possibility of being cold gives noobies panic attacks. They think to themselves, "It's better to be warm than cold because you can always take something off."

I'll grant you, there's some logic there, but only if you dress so it's possible to remove a layer and not be left in only your sweaty underpants.

If I were a brand new, or almost brand new, cross country skier, this is what I would wear. But first, let me run through my assumptions:
  • I'm assuming you will fall down a few times. It's almost inevitable, even if you are a downhill skier. Some of the best schadenfreude I've ever had the pleasure of indulging in was watching cocky-ass downhill skiers put on a pair of cross country skis for the first time ever. It takes them about five minutes to get their shit together, but those five minutes are bloody terrific.
  • I'm assuming you'll be doing a bit of standing around, either to listen to an instructor or to pause at the top of a hill and wait for everyone to clear out of your potential crash zone.
  • I'm assuming you are not skate skiing. In fact, I'm assuming you don't even know what skate skiing is. 
Also one last fashion pointer for downhill skiers:
  • Pretty much don't wear anything you wear downhill skiing to go cross country skiing, except maybe your underwear and socks.
  • This means, do not wear your hat, your coat, your pants and under no circumstances, your goggles.
Without further ado, here's your cross country skiing outfit checklist:
  • A running t-shirt, but take two with you so you can change at lunch. Something like this:

  • A thermal long sleeve shirt (not fleece). Something such as:
  • A vest. This vest should not be puffy, it should not be fleece. Go with something thermal with a high neck and a zipper in front like:
  • If it's really hella cold out there (like 20 degrees below freezing), or if you know for a fact you'll be standing around a lot, you could add this on top of everything aforementioned so you can easily remove should you start steaming in your own juices:

  • A shell jacket. This jacket should not be insulated, just windproof and breathable:

  • On your legs, wear one or two pairs of running tights or one pair of long underwear, not cotton. If you're going the long underwear route, get some polypropylene or whatever the new fangled version of polypropylene is called these days.
  • Some sort of waterproof shell pants. These shell pants should be breathable and not insulated. It's best if they have legs wide enough that you can get them on or off over your ski boots so you can strip 'em off when you go in for hot chocolate in the lodge:
  • Bring along three pairs of heavy smart wool socks so you can change if your feet get sweaty. Definitely not cotton. If you want to get fancy, wear one thin pair of smart wool socks, and then one thicker pair. This helps avoid blisters. Another way to avoid blisters is to put silk tape all over the back of your heels and then smear Vaseline all over it. You're welcome, tip of the year, there.
  • For your hat, wear a hat you'd see a runner wear. Some kind of low profile knit affair. Or wear a beanie or a doo-rag and a knit cap over the top of it. It should look like this:

  • Wear a fleece scarf or some sort of scarf big enough that it can cover your chin and mouth when you zoom down a black diamond or the wind starts blowing.
  • My hands get cold, so I wear lobster claw gloves. It'll be a little trial and error to find a pair of gloves that work for you, so bring every glove or mitten you own and try them all out. If you have a pair that are windproof but not too bulky, those might be your winners.
  • Hand warmers and toe warmers.
  • Tie your long hair back. It's a disaster if it starts snowing and your hair gets wet and plasters itself to the side of your face.

If you click on any of the links to Amazon above, apparently I'm supposed to get some sort of cut. They say I'm supposed to mention this. Check that box, even though I've had this blog for ten years and have never, not even once, received one red cent from anybody clicking through on anything. Not sure if this is because my biggest fan is my mother and she has a high tolerance for consumerism or if I never actually set up my Amazon account right. Either way, consider yourself in the know and have a great time skiing!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Penny Arcade Discussion Guide

To be candid, I was taken by surprise last night at Penny Arcade's performance at St. Anne’s Theater in DUMBO. Apparently, when I buy tickets to shows, I’m more of a “look at the pictures” kind of online shopper. Here’s the show promo:

I thought we signing up for some sort of drag cabaret. I thought there might be cake. I was wrong. 

In case you are unfamiliar with the work of Penny Arcade, as I was until yestereve, let me clue you in. She’s a 60ish ingenue formerly of the Andy Warhol set. She's hell bent to rage against the machine for 90 minutes. Except it’s not a rant. It’s art. This was a thing in the early 80s downtown.

I can distill 90 minutes with Penny Arcade into four bullets, and I mention this because it’s actually my main point. But here we go:

  1. Penny Arcade considers herself in the “control group” immune from the idiocy perpetuated by uptight suburbanites and their entitled lily-livered, gay and straight children who indulge in artisanal ramen and fancy cocktails and cry great wailing sobs when someone calls them by the wrong pronoun or dares to say something the hive mind rejects.

  2. Penny Arcade is in this "control group" because she has never seen Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Arc or Sex in the City.

    Also because in the east village in the 70’s, a plus-sized, topless beatnik jabbed a meth needle in her ass, right through her clothes, and she learned a valuable lesson that night.

    And lastly, because she is very smart. Much smarter than anyone who didn’t go to Max’s Kansas City every night for a decade and have words with Patti Smith.

  3. Penny Arcade bitches about slow-walking tourists who don’t look where they’re going and run right into you. She dislikes Hummer-sized baby carriages in Park Slope. She also has a problem with hipsters and cupcake shops. She pinpoints gentrification as a problem because local communities lose their unique identity.

  4. Maybe because of her "control group" status, Penny Arcade seems unaware of the 400-500 stand up comedians and 90% of the NYC journalism community who have already beaten the tourist, baby carriage, hipster and gentrification memes into one big-ass vapid chestnut.

    I gather there’s a certain cohort who loves Penny Arcade and it’s not a crew I particularly want to upset. First, she's well-loved by your old queers (her term) who were part of the larger-than-life Lou-Reed-ish scene back in the day, or at least were part of it in their imaginations. 

    Also there’s younger white folk sporting vintage hats hooting and clapping and desperately seeking… something. It could be truth. But I thought of another audience end game. It’s possible I’m rationalizing my evening.

    I could certainly watch Penny Arcade in the same way I watched the new Twisted Sister documentary. Or that biopic on Hugo Chavez or Anthony Weiner. The point isn’t trying to find the lessons in what comes out of anyone’s mouth, but to ponder why they believe what they seem to believe about themselves and about everybody else.

    It's all about the context-- seeing the chess board top down, not taking a queens-eye view on blind faith and because she lectured you for an hour and half. 

    In an ironic twist, I'd bet money that Penny Arcade would fucking hate to be anything other than the all-star big star of her show. In another ironic twist... she did berate us endlessly to think for ourselves. So maybe in the end Penny Arcade had her masterful way with me.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    We are Concert Champions

    To get into the luxury boxes in Madison Square Garden, you gotta know a guy. Or Diana. She gives you these big fancy red tickets and you plan all week how you'll approach the ensuite buffet. 

    Tom, Stacie and I arrived early. We wanted to take full advantage of the amenities. This was an astute move since Tom required six trips through the metal detector to successfully empty all his pockets.

    We stepped out of the damp and noisy crowd and into a serenely quiet private elevator reserved for suite guests. A tall man looking awfully suburban was already in there. He chatted up the elevator guy. He said to us in a jocular tone, "So nice to get out of the plebeian masses." We didn't do a fist bump or anything, but there were "same here" looks all around. 

    Then the suburban man told the elevator guy he was going to the 9th floor. We said we were on the 7th, closer to the stage. The man gave us a mock salute. We totally won that round.

    Upon arrival, we attacked the buffet. They had these tiny grilled cheese sandwiches and dip that looked like tomato soup. They had dumplings and sushi, a lovely arrangement of sandwiches and shrimp on toast. All this action went very well with adult beverages. 

    We lounged on bar stools at a bar table facing out over the stage. So Tom could continue to surgically clean out every single mango slice from the fruit plate. And when the steward handed out chocolate pretzel covered ice cream pops, we devoured them very suavely. 

    Billy Joel came out. Andy's friend the guitar player came out. We cheered wildly.

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    ...and Tom just laughed

    I went to the alternative doctor today to see what could be done about these sinus headaches. He looked at my tongue and told me my digestive system was weak. He advised me to immediately:

    1. Give up coffee.
    2. No dairy. No gluten.
    3. Quit drinking.
    4. Go to bed before 11pm. (He actually said 10pm, but given that 10pm is like the middle of the afternoon, I am deliberately not hearing that right.)
    I didn't even make it 2 hours. Tomorrow I will try again. 

    NaBloPoMo #28.
    2 More Days!

    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    Things I've Seen on The Sidewalk Lately

    1. A pressed cloth napkin on Greenwich Avenue near 7th.
      I imagine someone got up from a lovely brunch and made it the whole way out onto the street before the napkin static-clinging to their pants tumbled to the curb.
    2. A huge dead rat on 8th Avenue by 15th Street. The rat was grey and very well fed. It lay on its side, in the dead center (ha ha) of the sidewalk. Someone had carefully stuck a red baseball cap on the rat's head. At first, I thought it was a "Make America Great Again" hat, but it turns out it was not. 

    NaBloPoMo #27

    Saturday, November 26, 2016

    Changing of the Guard

    Friday turned into Saturday and family turned into friends. Then other friends bearing Gibson Les Pauls and Fender amps (twinsies!). And drums. And a ukulele. And some kind of weird cigar box slide guitar thing. We found Tom a microphone and. Band Night.

    Darcey with the recap:

    "I don't mind talking into a microphone. But singing...."

    "I can play Gs and As all day."

    "We should be called The Soft Pants."

    Now it's 1:30AM and we're watching old music videos. Everlong. Closer. Karma Police. Toxic.


    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    A Righteous Thanksgiving Agenda

    Our family knows how to do Thanksgiving. We stick to a tight agenda:

    9:00 - Arise.

    9:00-12:00 Eat Breakfast.

    12-4:00 Eat Lunch.

    4:00-6:30 Eat Dinner.

    6:30-7:30 Play heavily censored Cards against Humanity. Great for the under 10 and over 70 crowd. Also the 10-70 crowd.

    7:30- 8:30 Play some new charades game with the phone on your forehead that was on the Ellen Show and somehow Tom cottoned onto. Turn off all the lights and play a cut-throat game of hide-and-go-seek in the dark.

    8:30-9:00 Watch OK Go videos. Fight over which one is best.

    9:00 - Build an elaborate nest out of pillows for Mark to sleep in.

    9:15 - Go to Bed.

    NaBloPoMo #24!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    On top of a mouse chassis

    I don't know why Daniel Kitson doesn't wear velour trousers. I think he would relish velour. He reminds me of the kind of guy who would appreciate an excellent soft pant.

    During Mouse, Daniel Kitson's latest one-man show, don't get me wrong, his attire was perfectly serviceable. He looked comfortable. He's just so uncomfortable.

    I like Daniel Kitson. I want him to be happy.

    If this Mouse show were a painting, I'd say it would be this painting by Paul Klee:

    I'm imagining Paul Klee had just broken out a fresh canvas and dabbed some red on his brush, maybe to mix it on his palette, but no. There came a gigantic red drip, right in the middle of the composition. 

    Klee steps back from his easel and stares and stares and stares. Against impossible odds, he makes a painting that looks like it was supposed to have a giant red hypnotic dot in the middle of it.

    And so I imagine Kitson with this mouse thread of a story. He's a little spectrum-y so he's stuck with it. And then he manages to fabricate this whole show on top of a weird-ass mouse chassis. 

    I loved it.

    Here's the other post I wrote about a Kitson show: here

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    Frying Knots in Shoulder Blades

    I just had to shut off the juice on my new e-stim machine or TENS unit or whatever you call it.

    Naked electricity pours through four wires and gets a vice grip on your muscles. From there anything can happen, but mostly wild and unexpected flapping of the arms. I could easily be an extra in Beetle Juice.

    Daylight come and I wanna go home.

    This Healthmate of mine is the gypsy child of the chiropractor's big mama e-stim machine. She's a beast, that one. The nurse person starts her up and you can feel tectonic plates shift. It's like fifteen amazing minutes in El Dorado. Your knotted up back muscles emerge wobbling like a lump of freshly plated tartare. I had to have one.

    I was a jot leery of the vast array of mighty cheap e-stim options on Amazon. My mom said they also sell e-stims in the grocery store for $29.95. She advised, "I would not buy any e-stim you can purchase in the grocery store for $29.95."

    So I leveled up and got the most expensive one. It has twelve modes, like acupuncture mode and punch-you-with-a-brick mode. You can adjust the force with which you are beaten. I like to faff around the house looking like I have the nervous system of a magic eight ball.

    It's oddly delightful. In short intervals.

    NaBloPoMo #22

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    Things I am Dealing with Right Now

    • Counting the bass amps on and about the premises. 
      • Are there enough amps for band night?
      • Can you plug a guitar into a bass amp? 
    • Dealing with the glögg situation
      • Swedish Club Jul Fest rules
    • Exchanging tickets for a show on 1/21/17 when I will be marching in DC
      • Go to Box Office and stare them down
    • Pondering the recent Daniel Kitson performance at St. Anne's Theater
      • Lots going on there
    • Ruminating on something Greg said and ultimately disagreeing
      • Peeing on the toilet seat does not make you chaotic neutral.
        (that's a dungeons and dragons reference, in case you aren't cool like that)

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Apps for the stylishly OCD

    Stylebook App

    I got this app called Stylebook. I think most people use this app to design little outfits. I do not. I use it to amortize my clothing. I make a note every time I wear something, and then the app takes the cost of the garment and divides it by the times worn.

    Do you know what the per-wear cost is of what you've got on? I do.

    • These pants are down to $1.66 per wear because, as my friend Lynn said recently, "Every time I see you, you're wearing those pants."
    • This shirt is $9.16
    • These boots are $16.33
    • I'm not keeping track of the sweater because Tracie gave it to me.
    If someone said they were going to charge me 30 beans for closet access per day, I'd freak out. But here we are. 

    Another thing I'm keeping a close eye on is how long your average item lasts. I was thinking the other day that a sweater was looking a mite tatty. I checked how many times I've worn it. SIX TIMES. That's a bloody unacceptable tragedy. My online reviews are going to be incredibly data-rich. I can provide dates and times.

    A few conundrums have emerged. Like how long do you have to wear something for it to count as a wear? For example, what if you pull on your boots to run down to Duane Reed and buy some chapstick. Then you come back and take them off. Does that count as a wear?

    Or what if you have on one pair of pants to work, and then you come home and tug on some soft pants to watch some TV or go to the gym. Was it a two pant day in both cases?

    These are the complexities I wrestle with.

    Saturday, November 19, 2016

    NaBloPoMo at Brunch - Tom and Caroline Help Out

    At brunch, I was telling Caroline about NaBloPoMo-- this scribble-a-blog-post-a-day business. She said she wouldn't have anything to write about, because she lives in Solna. Solna is a suburb of Stockholm. In Solna, every day is the same; you go to work, you come home and then maybe you have 18 drinks, it being Sweden and all.

    Tom said that I definitely would have something to write about today and it was only 11:30AM. He said if he were me, he would write about how I gave the finger to some dude driving a white Pontiac. He said if not the white Pontiac affair, I could write about walking right past a guy jackhammering and failing to notice. 

    But WTF there were no goddamn cones or anything.

    I will not write about either of these incidents.

    If I were going to pick something to write about, I might write about a 100% cotton blacksmith tshirt I took a close look at later on in the afternoon:

    "it cannot be inherited nor can it ever be purchased
    i have earned it with my blood, sweat and tears
    i own it forever the title blacksmith"

    Even though I kind of dig the bad-ass skull and the sassy metatarsal finger wag, I did not purchase this tshirt for the following reasons:
    1. The drama. It's a pretty dramatic bit of fluff, all in.
    2. I concern myself with hammers and this scrawny ball pien doesn't appeal.
    3. Insufficient punctuation.

    Friday, November 18, 2016

    WWF Baby Action at the Morgan Library

    We were at the Morgan Library for Free Night with Greg. Here's a few snaps of one of the fireplaces. If it's not baby-on-baby fight club, what is it? 

    You see the one baby popping the other baby a fast clip to the chin? There's hair pulling and a really clutch eye poke.

    Also I think I spy some abs. One of the babies has a six pack.

    You don't really see the babies going at it unless
    you get within 20 feet of the fireplace.

    Babies Gone Wild at the Morgan Library

    It could be described as a major dust up. 

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 18 NABLOPOMO

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    Selecting a Restaurant 101

    When you arrive at the restaurant and the hostess asks "is this a special occasion?"
    You know you might have made a mistake.

    The place is not a sandwich shop.
    You reflect, "Maybe I should have worn something that is not a hoodie and jeans."

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 17 NABLOPOMO

    Wednesday, November 16, 2016

    Shirley you must be joking

    Tom said, "Look what we got in the mail-- the real estate property tax reassessment."

    I said, "What is it?"

    Tom said, "It's the letter where they tell us the property value they're going to base our taxes on."

    ....But that's not important right now?

    I never thought I'd actually have an actual Airplane moment in real life.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    The Grammy Show

    Cleaning out sixty-five years.
    Grammy moved into her home in 1960(?)

    Mary and I spent five hours helping Grammy sort through the stuff in her bedroom she wants to take to Assisted Living and the stuff that has to go. It was a five-hour lightning round beneath a cloud of dust bunnies.

    Our system was efficient. I would hold up a thing in question and offer some color commentary. Grammy would shift around in the desk chair we'd rolled in for executive decision-making. She would declare "Keep It" or "Donate It." Mary handled all backend management.

    As the MC of the operation, I noticed the Gramster getting a little misty eyed about parting with certain signature possessions. For example, the curtains and matching bedspread she sewed herself for one of the bedrooms a good thirty years ago. Maybe forty. They coordinated with an orange shag rug. 

    You could call it a white lie, or maybe you could call it me trying to make a hard situation easier on a beloved old lady, but I noticed that if I said that someone in the family wanted something, Grammy was more than happy to give it up. She adores her family, she wants them have nice.

    I boomed to Mary, "Mary! These curtains and bedspread would look amazing in the twins' room! You should totally take them!" !!!   !!!

    Mary said, "What?! Are you kidding? No they...." She looks over at me and my bulging eyeballs.... "Yes totally! they would look amazing! The kids will love them."

    Bag it up and on to the next drawer.

    Monday, November 14, 2016

    Do not underestimate the power of lip balm

    I like lip balm. Usually I have a vast array of tubes strategically positioned at home and in the office, handbag, backpack, pockets and tucked into the blankets of our bed. It's a lovely surprise when a Blistex rolls over your forehead in the middle of the night or you wake up in the morning with a tube stuck to your calf. So handy. Who cares if it leaves a mark.

    This Silk and Shine is silky, I'll grant you. It's not overly shiny and it's not my highest pick for moisturizing properties. You need to reapply way too often.

    Silk and Shine by Blistex.
    EOS is a decent balm, but kind of a scam. The product does not go to the bottom of the egg. It's a plop of balm perched atop a sort of plastic grate. When you're midway through the plop, the egg gets unwieldy. It's like scratching your face with a ball. 

    EOS Lip Egg. The best flavor is the pink one.
    But I'd go with the vanilla tube if given a choice.

    I'm sure everybody has four nasty-ass Lip Balms from last season affixed to the bottoms of their ski jacket pockets.

    4 Nasty-Ass Lip Balms. One of them is from Canada.

    I might have had nice things to say about this Blistex Five Star Lip Protection, but it melted in the car. Maybe it's good that it melted. When lip balm does not melt, I assume it is made of ingredients that do not exist in the natural world.


    Burt's Bees often has the tensile strength of iron ore.  Lip balm is unsatisfactory when a swipe of it pulls your lips right off your face. Lip balm should offer moisturization, not a way to jowl in slow motion.

    Burt's Bees often has the tensile strength of iron ore.

    Regular Blistex you can always count on. I like the tingle, very fresh.

    Regular Blistex is worth it. Nice tingle

    I bought the Soft Lips on Amazon. Won't do that again. It's pencil thin and I couldn't tell from the product photos online. Applying lip balm should not require excessive back and forth motions. It's exhausting.

    Badger brand is occasionally great, and occasionally not great. It's a risk. Take it if you're a gambler. Every flavor is it's own little flower of diversity.

    Generic Walgreens Lip Balm is made from the same substance as those fake wax lips you can get with or without vampire teeth. I especially enjoy the cherry flavor, which tastes like maraschino cherries and the wax scraped off wax paper.

    Soft Lips, Badger Balm and Generic Walgreens Lip Balm

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 14

    Sunday, November 13, 2016

    Now that I was a Moth judge and all...

    I was a Moth Story Slam judge a couple weeks ago, and now I believe I'm well qualified to weigh in on one-man-shows. I wouldn't consider that a stretch at all. And as it happens, we went to a one-show on Friday night. I'm not going to name this particular one man, because as they inform judges at the Moth-- it takes some brass to clammer up on that stage, so don't give anyone a score less than 7.

    This one-man was very forthcoming. He told us that he'd rented out the theater himself, paid for it on his credit card. He paid seven grand for a 15 night rental. The theater has 20 seats. Most of the audience got in with free tickets. Maybe 4 people paid $5. I don't need a formula in Excel to do the sad sad math.

    Tom and I discussed the following:
    • Why did the one-man not proclaim a one-drink minimum? If you give away free tickets, generally there's a catch. No one would be surprised. At least a drink minimum would offer one miniscule chance in hell of certainly not breaking even, but at least paying for a crif dog after the show.
    • Possibly the one-man did not insist on a one-drink minimum because he had another catch in mind. After the show, he wanted the audience to give him constructive advice. Theoretically. Except the workshop portion of the evening last about forty five seconds because he'd invited a guitar player to strum a few tunes to close out the evening.
    • Is it odd to invite a guitar player to close your one-man-show? If you were going to invite a guitar player, wouldn't you ask him to be your opening act? What is the purpose of a closing act beyond audience head-scratching and awkward hunched over dashes for the exit?
    • If you have a $7k budget (or credit limit) and your plan is to level-up your act, can you think of no better way to do it than to rent out a theater? Maybe you could have hired a storyteller coach. I just searched the Google and looks like there are 866,000 storyteller coaches. Wouldn't it have been a better use of the shekel to pay a per diem and get actual constructive feedback from an actual professional who has a modicum of interest in your success, even if it's purely transactional?
    I'm pretty sure why none of the above occurred. Because the one-man really had no interest in advice, especially advice that might slow down the time-to-limelight calculation. 

    I'd give the one-man a solid 7. 

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 13

    Saturday, November 12, 2016

    Desperately Seeking Peaceful

    Walking uptown, I came upon thousands of people shrieking "Build a Fence around Pence," and "Reject the President Elect" and hoisting placards talking about Love and Hate. I slipped between them, hopefully exhibiting my solidarity to the cause.

    But I wasn't staying.

    In the thick of the honking horns and chanting, I pushed into MoMA and went upstairs to bask before hallowed masterpieces. I turned up the music on my phone and just kind of stared.

    Ruth Asawa, Poppy 1965

    Klimt - Hope

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 12

    Friday, November 11, 2016

    Chopstick Profiled

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    Tom and I confidently stride into the Malaysian joint on West 8th Street in the Village. We know it's good, because in there, we're a definite minority.

    I pick up the menu and one of my fresh new chopsticks goes flying off the table. The waiter is attentive. He immediately swoops over with a new set.

    We order a mango salad. We eat the mango salad with our chopsticks.

    We order some dinner. The waiter bustles over with two forks. I look around. No one else in the entire place has been given a fork.

    Tom and I evaluate the possibilities:

    1. We were profiled, totally a priori. We look like people who can't work a chopstick.
    2. I did, in fact, perpetrate a chopstick mishap when I knocked the one chopstick off the table. It was deduced therefore that we cannot be trusted.
    3. When we ate the mango salad, our chopstick skills were observed and judged horrific. It would simply be too painful to let us continue.

    Or maybe the waiter is a considerate guy and just wanted us to have a native utensil option.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 11

    Thursday, November 10, 2016

    Pet Shop Boys in Morristown, NJ

    Saw the Pet Shop Boys in Morristown, out in Suburbia. (ha ha ha, that's super funny if you were a teenager in 1986.)

    We packed into the theater along with every other flavor of white people. All around us and up in the mezzanine, they bounced and shimmied and flapped a shoulder and knocked into an occasional +1 with crossed arms. Some were very tall and towered up in the front row. Luckily I had the foresight to wear some mighty big shoes. 

    Under the multi-colored lights, we looked green, red, yellow and occasionally blue. Our skin tone is an excellent canvas for LED pyrotechnics.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 10

    Wednesday, November 09, 2016

    Day-After-The-Election Attempt to Loop Time

    Audrey mentioned she collects old photographs. Old photographs of her family and also old photographs of random people with a descendant who had a yard sale and sold granny's black and whites. 

    I'm hip to this. The Momster picked up a thing for cabinet cards a few years back. Nothing like rifling through a pile of snaps laid out on the family coffee table and not recognizing anyone. Because, as it turns out upon inquiry, no one has any clue who the people in the pictures actually are. They were purchased at the flea market in the old Nichol's building.

    Mom comments on the expressions of soldiers in photos taken just before marching off to war, on hats and other fashion. It's kind of maudlin and voyeuristic and at the same time it's an honor to the dead. 

    A cabinet card from 1896. Dressed in their best, a family nervously fidgets for the camera.
    photo credit:

    Audrey brought up her old photograph fascination right before the lights dimmed and the star of the Encounter popped out onto the stage. And began talking about time. Specifically about how photographs aim to mess with time. Stop it. Subvert it. 

    Time ought to flow in a wide arc and loop over itself in a circle, according to The Encounter guy. Presume you're an indigenous person desperately trying to follow the loop back into the past. You're trying to gain some chronologic distance from the gringos and their deforestation and their oil hunting rampages. 

    In such a case, you do not want to get snagged and unable to time travel back to the good old days. You burn every evidence of the present including some white guy's camera and film. You take wild shaman drugs, and attempt to wash yourself around a temporal corner. 

    Except somehow you are locked in time. You are locked in that exact mess of a moment. Which repeats, night after night, on Broadway for a limited engagement until March.

    Oh, spoiler alert, there.

    But these old photographs are a tidy circle. They draw you back, right into the instant the flash bulb flashed. And flash bulbs were blindingly bright in those days. If you study the faces captured on film, you can, maybe, escape the present for as long as your modern-day ADD allows.

    Pic of my great-grandma Minnie. She was not a nurse.
    At the local photo parlor, you could dress up in a costume.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 9

    Tuesday, November 08, 2016

    Arriving at Broadway Theater with Razor Thin Margin

    photo credit: Playbill

    Casey, who has seen more Broadway shows than you can count on all your short hairs, says not to worry. We tip back a drink at the Iron Bar and the time is 6:56. 

    "The Encounter" starts in exactly 4 minutes. 

    There's a conversation with the waitress to get an extra glass of wine taken off the bill. We saunter into the theater at something like 7:01. The lights go down and the show starts. 

    It was clockwork under Casey's expert hand, but I don't think I'd try it unsupervised.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 8

    Monday, November 07, 2016

    Said no one. Ever.

    You're sitting at a table in a restaurant. You're having dinner with people you haven't seen for awhile. You're looking forward to catching up. The waiter comes by.

    Flat water is fine, you tell him.

    "And oh by the way, could you please turn the music up?"

    Said no one. Ever.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 7

    Sunday, November 06, 2016

    Cat's out of the birthday bag

    photo credit:

    Over the summer, Darcey, Tom and I drove upstate to Helen and Matt's place. The three of us listened to a podcast about lying. There's a quick test to tell if you are a good liar or a bad liar:  
    With your finger, you draw an imaginary capital Q on your forehead.

    Spoiler Alert!
    If you're a good liar, you'll draw the Q so that people facing you can read it. You'll place the slash on the Q to the left. 
    Spoiler Alert!

    Darcey, Tom and I took the test. We are not good liars. I'd like to say I waffled a bit on where to put the slash because I saw a glimmer of universal higher understanding. But really, it was only because I had a fit of dyslexia.

    Fast forward to a month ago when Matt emailed that he was planning a surprise birthday party for Helen. 

    I immediately began wringing my hands and sweating. After all, we had just taken a test that conclusively showed we are not good at this "Tell Helen you'll not be driving upstate, not texting about arrival times and food allergies with her husband, and then not hiding in the back corner of a private room in a restaurant waiting to shriek surprise at the birthday girl."

    Helen's a lawyer by the way.

    Props to us because despite the silent hysteria, Helen was (mostly) surprised.

    And what a beautiful weekend with good friends and festivity :-)

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 6

    Saturday, November 05, 2016

    Judging the Moth Story Slam

    At the Bell House for Moth Story Slam

    We were the best Moth judges ever, by the way-- Ellen, Audrey and myself.

    The theme of the evening was "Persuasion." The place was packed; in Brooklyn everybody has a story, even if they really don't.

    If you're a wanna-be Slam storyteller contestant, you stick your name in an NPR tote bag. If your name gets picked, you stand up on stage and tell a five minute story. That is judged. By me, Audrey and Ellen.

    Our first test as a judging team proved stressful. We had about 6 minutes to come up with a name for our team befitting the "persuasion" theme. It being autumn and jacket and boot season and all, I fixated on suede. Like Pure Suede. Or Purr Suede for a cat-themed approach.

    photo credit:

    Somehow I got from there onto the magic of pleather. Luckily, my team persevered without me.

    Right under the wire, Ellen came up with The Tipping Point, and we went with that. Two other judging teams rounded out the panel, "Baby You Know Talk is Cheap," and "Strong Arm."

    Strong Arm is a damn fine name.

    The Story Slam producer came over and gave us big scoring cards printed with huge numbers to hold up at the end of each story. We had to memorize the rules and judging criteria. I put my drink down for this part.

    Our highest scores went to a welder from Williamsburg and a woman in silver pants. Our scores were remarkably well-considered and consistently applied. At the end of the event, I firmly shook hands with one of the judges from "Baby You Know Talk is Cheap." It was a well-appreciated diplomatic overture.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 5

    Friday, November 04, 2016

    Middle of the Road

    We got tickets to one of those emerging theater shows that could easily spiral into a hot mess. The risk adds allure. So does the single digit ticket price. Tom looks around and says, "If it weren't for that guy behind us, I'd say we are the oldest people here."

    He chews on this observation for awhile. "Usually, when it comes to the theater, we're middle of the road, age-wise. Some old people, some whippersnappers. Not tonight."

    I decide to take a wide-angle selfie to document, for the record, that we are not the oldest ones in attendance:

    Old guy photobombs fake selfie.

    The old guy's fast, I'll give him that, the altacocker.

    But. Nobody in the audience cracks up when an actor mentioned "Bats Benatar" and the band kicks into a monster-mash banjo version of "We Belong to the Night."

    Furthermore, an actress dressed up as your grandma sitting on a chair perched on a table talking to a puppet says, "The child is sick, we need to go to the hospital!"

    And the puppet says, "What is it?"

    And Grandma says, "Oh it's a big building filled with sick people."

    And Tom snickers and I snicker and everyone else in the whole place clearly does not get the obvious Airplane shout out. We're surrounded by dead silence.

    Evidently, we are old enough to remember, but not that old. Middle of the road, I'd say-- if you take the mean and not the average.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 4

    Thursday, November 03, 2016

    The Manufacturing Furriers at 235 7th Avenue, New York City

    My grandpa, his brother and his brother-in-law had a business in the 1930s or 40s. They were "Manufacturing Furriers." I know this because a business card turned up:

    I do not know what a "Manufacturing Furrier" is or does exactly, but considering the number of fur coats and fur hats and fur muffs and fur scarves I've inherited and don't quite know what to do with, I'm going to state for the record that there was definitely fur involved.

    Yesterday, I walked by the corner of 7th and 23rd Street, the site of their former establishment:

    The former location of the
     "Manufacturing Furrier" establishment at
    235 7th Avenue in Chelsea
    Today, 235 7th Avenue is a Chelsea Papaya that is open 24 hours. Still not gentrified, this corner, although the jig is almost up. There's a Whole Foods and a Starbucks just up the block. Next thing you know, the Chelsea Papaya will be a Rag and Bone. Or a Manufacturing Furrier.

    The Manufacturing Furrier thing, I don't believe, lasted all that long. I recall something about the mob and getting chased around in a truck.

    Here's a snap of my Grandpa and Grandma, strolling up 5th Avenue around the time my grandpa was a bona fide Manufacturing Furrier with a business card to prove it.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 3

    Wednesday, November 02, 2016


    photo credit: NY Post

    I got a seat on a crowded A-train. A guy sporting a very pricey suit was not so lucky. He parked his strap-hanging self right in front of me. I noticed the details on this suit-- the meticulous thread around the button-holes, the cut, the fabric. His shirt was fancy. His tie was gorgeous. 
    And his fly was half mast.

    So much effort so completely demolished.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 2

    Tuesday, November 01, 2016

    2016 Halloween Recap & First Day of NaBloPoMo

    I called my mom. Ring. Ring. Ring. Call Connecting.

    "Two at the door!" Mom bellowed in my ear.

    Pop was in charge of candy distribution. Mom peered out the window and monitored trick or treat goings on.

    "Your father just asked a kid if he was dressed as Ernest Shackleton," she reported.

    Pop gave out mini-snickers bars. This raised my eyebrows. In the past, he's been more concerned about dental hygiene. He's treated the neighborhood to spider rings, pencils, erasers, and rubber lizards.

    Pop got on the phone. "I made a faux pas," he said.

    "Do tell."

    "A really little kid rang the bell. Her bag of candy was bigger than she was. I told her, 'Wow, there must be 50 cavities in that sack.' Her dad was standing behind her. He laughed and he had like three teeth."

    Meanwhile, back at our place, Tom was at the ready:

    A sad sad bag of candy

    This photo of a giant unopened bag of candy was taken at 8pm. Not one kid knocked on our door.

    Meanwhile, Riverbend Drive was a well-illuminated Halloween/Diwali major mashup. Jack and Ella brought in a haul. I told them the house takes 10%. Ha ha ha, said my nephew.

    Meanwhile, Darcey was one of the spinning La Calavera Catrina in the Halloween Parade. The Grande Dames of Death. As seen on TV.

    Dia de los Muertos!

    Wish I was everywhere at once.

    NaBloPoMo November 2016
    Day 1