Monthly Archives: March 2010

Lame Adventure 27: Movie Madness

Milton wants the world, or at least anyone inclined to log onto Lame Adventures, to know that he has purchased the Blu-ray version of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin to watch on his new 42” LG flat screen TV.  Possibly he’ll follow this perversity with wearing Givenchy to clean his bathroom.  If his drain is clogged, I’ll give him a cup of my Pequa – my big ticket tax return purchase (see Lame Adventure 6 for those exhilarating details).

Battleship Potemkin cover art

It upsets Milton that I am not a Battleship Potemkin aficionado, but I do have the capacity to recognize why this 1925 Marxist propaganda film is considered a masterpiece.  Between the ages of 15 and 23, I had seen Battleship Potemkin at least five times, but once was more than enough.  In fact, all I really needed to see was the Odessa steps sequence to grasp why every film scholar dead or alive (and Milton) declares this brilliantly edited film a classic.  It is the first of its kind, and it influenced the editing of every film that followed.

I get it.

The first time I saw Battleship Potemkin, at age 15, I chose to do so on my own because I was a budding film-whore and I was aware that it was considered seminal cinema.  I simply had to see it.  It did not occur to me at that tender age that I would major in Film in college, and attend four different universities – majoring in Film in each of them – and I would be subject to seeing this one particular film in each and every institution.  If anything, I was ready to enter a mental institution just from having seen Battleship Potemkin so many times.  Our government should add screenings of Battleship Potemkin to the torture to-do list.  Yet, I am sure that would be a violation of the Geneva Convention.

I know I definitely sat slack-jawed and bleary-eyed through screenings of Battleship Potemkin when I was a student at San Francisco Sate University, UCLA, Stanford and NYU, the school that reluctantly awarded me a BFA after I finished an incomplete in … Watching Battleship Potemkin.  That’s a joke folks.  Actually, my incomplete was in something equally preposterous, Writing.  Every time I saw Battleship Potemkin, it seemed to double in length and the print, probably the same one shuttled from university to university, atrophied further.  The last time I saw it, its 66 minute run-time seemed to balloon to a day and half.  If I never see another black and white close-up of a maggot, I know I’ll die a little less miserable.

These boots were made for stomping.

Not the best place for a woman ...

... Or baby to be.

Odessa Steps sequence wide shot aka, "Get me outta here!"

Although Milton and I have known each other for several years, Battleship Potemkin never came up in any of our many film-related chats until a bone-chilling evening in February before a screening of Jan Troell’s wonderful epic, Everlasting Moments.  We were talking about editing, or possibly Milton was talking about what older actresses are looking fat these days, and I changed the subject to editing.  Battleship Potemkin came up which channeled a negative memory and deep groan from me.

Milton insisted that now that I am a “mature age” – I turned the dreaded number ickity last year, I will now “love” Battleship Potemkin.  I told him, “Are you crazy?  I could live to be a hundred and ickity; I will never, ever love Battleship Potemkin!”  I would sooner love listening to a concerto of forks scraping slowly across dinner plates than finding myself watching that silent hell a sixth time.  That sixth screening would undoubtedly expedite my death considering that I had to chew through almost an entire roll of Rolaids to stomach The Blind Side.

Should my fortunes, which have in the past sixteen months, been in a state of free fall, change in an upward direction, and I am no longer gainlessly employed and contemplating subsisting on cat food in Central Park in my golden years,  I might consider investing in a high definition TV and Blu-ray player of my own, and maybe, just maybe, give Milton’s copy of Battleship Potemkin a glance. Hey, if it is torturous viewing, I can always pop out that disk and pop in something divergent like Martini Max’s copy of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Watching that Russ Meyer lunacy never grows old to me.

The original Pussycat Dolls in boots made for stomping.

Lame Adventure 26: Put a Sock in It

Mid-week, after work, I usually do laundry.  For many years, I’ve been going to a laundromat near my sanctum sanctorum.  The manager and the staff all know that I’m a regular.  Last year at work, on a stifling hot summer’s day, I took a flying leap over a furniture dolly that ended in a hard fall leaving me with a monumental bruise on my right leg.  The next day, while wearing shorts, I visited my laundromat to do my wash. The bruise had entered the abstract expressionist painting stage.  I walked past one of the clerks, a gruff squat woman, who was reading a newspaper.  I said, “Hi.”  She muttered the same from behind her periodical.  When I was walking out, she lowered her paper and asked, “What hell happened to your leg?”  I was unsure if she meant “what in the hell happened to your leg?” Or, did she look at this massive discoloration and think, “That looks like hell”?  I appreciated her concern.  She’s a tough love type.

Lately, the regular staff has not been around, and the new clerk is someone who speaks little English.  A week ago, when I was in the middle of folding at 7:30 at night, she asked, “You done?”  I said, “I’m folding.  Don’t you close at 8?”  She said, “I want to go home.”  I said, “So do I.”  She walked away.  I did not feel any love.

This week, I make sure to finish faster should the clerk want to shutter early.  I again appear to be the only customer.  When I am waiting the final few minutes to pull my load out of the dryer, a guy that looks like Weird Al Yankovic’s brother enters.

Weird Al

He has something bulky tucked under his arm; a folding bike.

Date bait.

He is also the Sock Terrorist.

The Sock Terrorist pulls out his sopping wet laundry from a washer and slaps it on the folding table.  In return, I want to slap him.  Who does something so epically inconsiderate in a public laundromat?  I suffer in smoldering silence and then my dryer stops.  I proceed to fold at the sliver sized folding table reserved for Ken-doll sized apparel.  The Sock Terrorist finishes doing whatever oddball sorting he is doing on the serious folding table.  I consider finishing my folding at the big kid’s folding table, but it now looks more like a small pond, so I remain put at the space reserved for doll house residents.  The Sock Terrorist tosses his load in the dryer I had just used.  He has his choice of twenty dryers, but he specifically chooses that one.  I am quite sure this is an intentional decision.

That is because I suddenly realize that I’m missing a sock.

In the midst of the Sock Terrorist’s load I can see my sock in what is now his dryer.  The musical cue at this moment is a downbeat.  I have to address this sock matter to the Sock Terrorist.

Me:  Excuse me, my sock’s in your dryer.

Sock Terrorist:  (tone dripping with false surprise) Really?

Me:  Yeah, see it, the brown one?

Sock Terrorist:  My, my.  You’re going to have to wait.

Then, I notice that he’s deposited 42 minutes worth of quarters and it’s 7:40.

Me:  Do you realize that she closes at 8?

The Sock Terrorist exploits this question to make his Donald Trump meets Pepe le Pew move.

Sock Terrorist:  Not for me.  Tell you what, give me your number, let’s work out your sock situation together tonight.  Sound good?

In response to this proposition, I resist hurling every morsel I’ve ever eaten since exiting the womb.  Instead, I resort to Plan B and continue conversation with this dweeb.

Me:  I’m not giving you my number!  I just want my sock!  When you pull your stuff out of the dryer, please give it to the clerk and I’ll get it tomorrow.

Rebuffed, the Sock Terrorist clutches his bike in furor.

Sock Terrorist:  (livid) You work that out with her!

He is possibly thinking that I’ve blown a phenomenal encounter, the chance to find myself romanced by a geek with gold card-style laundromat access, whose signature drink is Grey Goose & Sprite, and favorite foreplay maneuver is tying his date to a chair scantily clad in a ball-gag.  Just as the Sock Terrorist exits in a huff, the clerk approaches.

Me:  What time are you closing tonight?

Clerk:  (In perfectly clear English.)  I don’t speak English.

Me:  My sock is in that dryer.  That guy with the bike just now –

Clerk:  What guy with bike?  No bike in here.

Me:  That was a bike.  It folded.

Clerk:  Like towels?

Me:  Yes.  That guy has a bike that folds like towels.  My sock is in his dryer.  See it, that brown sock?  I want my sock.  What time are you closing tonight?

Clerk:  I don’t know what you’re saying.  I close at 8!  Always close at 8!

Me:  This doesn’t have to be a big deal …

What I was really thinking was a variation of a recent Joe Biden quip, “This doesn’t have to be a big fucking deal.”  Biden’s inability to contain himself from swearing enthusiastically when he embraced President Obama at the Health Care bill signing ceremony did amuse me.  This ceremony might now be remembered as the swearing ceremony.  I so wanted to swear at all of these idiots throughout my entire laundromat ordeal, but unlike our Vice President, I instinctively know, there are times when YOU DON’T CURSE.  I especially don’t curse when I want something, in this particular case, my sock, and I would like to think if I ever embraced the commander-in-chief in front of an open microphone at the presidential podium, I would not gush, “This is so fucking cool!”  But, hey, I’d think it.

To conclude my sock debacle, the clerk writes on her hand, 8:15.  I interpret this to mean one of two things, she is closing at that time or she wants me to read some Bible passage about lost socks.  I return at 8:10, dreading to see the Sock Terrorist again.  Has he cooled off and is he now going to try to seduce me with Zima and Pez?  Or, has his seething escalated and he is planning to beat me with a solid brass Bob’s Big Boy figurine?  Fortunately I miss running into him. The clerk hands me my sock and I am free to bolt.

Together again.

Lame Adventure 25: Suffering the Stupids

Elsbeth calls me into her office to assist her in writing six emails of a confidential tile-related nature.  I will reveal that if there are three words in the English language that could compel my boss to go Ninja in a nanosecond, blue, pink and green would be the winners these days.   As we are writing and rewriting, Elaine, our Marketing Director, pops in and announces, “Sharon Stone is in the showroom!”  I joke sarcastically, “Hold me back!”  Then, I return my attention to the task at hand.

Elsbeth says, “If you want to go down there to see her, go ahead.”  I say, “Nah, let’s get this over with.”  Elsbeth insists – note, insists, “Are you sure?  Go down there.  We’ll finish this when you return.”  I repeat, “Nah, let’s get this over with.”

Yes, my boss twice suggested I stargaze and twice I said, “Nah, let’s get this over with.”

If I worked for a horrible boss, somebody life-sucking, demeaning and hateful, I could scream, “That goddamn bitch kept me tied to my chair while Sharon Stone was lying on the floor in our showroom looking at a mountain of tile I invested years of my life labeling while paparazzi were staked outside!  How fucked up is that?  This was a gift from the gods blogpost, but I got screwed because I work for Satan!  My boss is ruining my life!”

No, I can’t say any of that.  Elsbeth probably wanted to see her herself, but since we were working, she was hoping I would be inclined to say, “Sure! Let’s both go, Boss!”  In fact, if I had a single functioning brain cell at that moment, maybe, just maybe, I could have compelled Elsbeth, who could be a professional photographer, to have taken the gotcha! shot of the year for my blog, but what do I do?

I suffer the stupids!

Possibly, Elsbeth would have said in response to my photograph request, “Are you out of your mind?  She’s a customer.  I’m the owner!  Do you want us to lose business?”  Therefore, I could have asked Greg, my sidekick, to take that gotcha! shot for me.  Afterward, as I am flogging myself numb over this, Greg – who had no idea that Sharon Stone was in the building — says, “Sure, I would have done it – had you asked.”

Determined to bring my masochism to the next level of humiliation, the final one being writing this post, I reveal to Milton that Sharon Stone visited the showroom today.  He’s thrilled and gushes, “How did she look?”  I grimace, and admit, “I didn’t see her.  Elaine told me about it … Elsbeth even encouraged me to check her out.”  Milton looks horrified, “Why didn’t you do it?”  Lamely, I admit, “I was thinking about tile.”  <sigh>

Sharon Stone while filming "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" near my place of employ.

Lame Adventure 24: Getting Around

In the more than twenty years that I’ve resided in Manhattan, I have never owned a car, but I do have a driver’s license, even though I’ve seldom had a need to drive.  Milton has never owned a car nor has he ever had a license.  We are both hardcore mass transit users, which is pretty typical of many New Yorkers.

Recently, while standing in a crowded 2 express train on my way to work, I became fixated on an ad showing Edie Falco in her Showtime TV series called Nurse Jackie.  I was in my usual early morning stupor, so although I was staring at a picture of Edie Falco, I was not fully focused on who or what I was looking at.  In fact, I initially thought I was looking at an image of Ellen Degeneres in hospital fatigues and I wondered, “Why’s Ellen Degeneres dressed like a nurse?”  Maybe it’s just me at my most bleary-eyed, but I think she and Edie Falco bear quite a resemblance.

Nurse Jackie

Ellen

Although I am not a car person, I often read about cars online, primarily as a form of procrastination away from writing my play, a mystery about an endearing half deaf short person of indeterminate race and gender who suffers food addiction.  One car story I recently read was published in The New York Times about the new four door 500-horsepower Porsche Panamera Turbo that costs $132,600 for the low-end model and $157,040 for the in-your-face edition with every available option including a working toaster oven.  It is possible I may have imagined the toaster oven since that was not mentioned in the Times’ article but I have been craving Pop Tarts.

For the more budget conscious Porsche enthusiast with a family, a model will soon be available with a V6 engine starting at a modest 75 grand, or seventy years worth of $89 monthly Metrocards to strap hangers like Milton and me.  No matter what model is purchased, all four seats will comfortably fit any passenger who is 6-feet-2; this was a demand of Wendelin Wiedeking, Porsche’s former chief executive who is that size and apparently so diverse, he’s comfortable with being both the motorist as well as the back seat driver providing GPS service.

After reading about this new family-friendly Porsche, I called Milton.  We’re both trying to wrap our brains around the necessity of a sports car suitable for people with kids.  It strikes us as perverse for we think of sports cars as two seaters for people heading to a fun and sexy rendezvous.  Of course, you want to get there fast, because you’re eager to have fun and sex.  We do not think of sports cars as being available in a size that accommodates parents traveling to hunchbacked spinster Aunt Helene’s with bickering children alternately whining, “Are we there yet?”  Is anyone in that group in a hurry to eat coffee cake with a judgmental geriatric that loathes restless, bored small-fry?  Milton thinks this Porsche’s target demographic is a quartet of wealthy gay guys heading to Provincetown, and then added, “I’d get a Lexus.”  If Milton and/or I were to ever ride in a Panamera, if only around the block, considering that the Times compared it to the bullet train, it would probably behoove us to pop Dramamine before take-off.

Porsche Panamera - the vehicle that will get the kids to school at warp-speed.

Back in the day, my family-guy dad drove GM cars.  In 1968, he upgraded from Chevys to Buicks.  That was the year he purchased his first LeSabre.  It was so big, so powerful, so comfortable and so solid, I recall referring to it as “a rolling couch.”  It was in an electric blue color with a black vinyl roof, and had other extras including air conditioning and a shrieking alarm that my grandmother instantly activated even though my father had shouted at her, “Ma!  Don’t open the door yet!”  My dad’s LeSabre was the envy of the entire neighborhood.  Mean Streak, our slobbering dog, was not allowed to ride in it.  I asked Dad what he paid for that car.  He said, “About 82-83 hundred.  That was a lot back then.  It was top of the line.”  I did not tell him about the Panamera.

1968 Buick LeSabre - a family guy's muscle car.

Lame Adventure 21: Dragging Forward and Bumbling Back

My colleague, The Quiet Man, sits in the back of our office buried in a mountain of work.  Occasionally TQM comes up for air or to voice a complaint.  One of the things TQM loathes is the hour change.  He likes getting an hour back in fall, but despises losing that hour in spring.  TQM and I are on the same page about this.

When I was a kid, my father was fond of bellowing about the hour change, “Why don’t they just leave it the hell alone?”  My father had good reason to take the hour change personally.  He was a factory rep for the Bulova Watch Company.  We had 37 watches and clocks strategically placed throughout our house, and I knew that Dad had numerous live samples in his line.

Every Saturday on the weekend of the hour change, Dad would hole up in the garage with our dog, Mean Streak, and change the hour on all of the sample timepieces in his line.  While performing this bi-annual ritual, Dad would curse in a low voice and Mean Streak would snarl softly in a display of canine solidarity, or maybe he just relished this opportunity to be fierce without reproach – as if any member of our family would dare cross our forever-angry mascot who only obeyed my father.  When Dad finished resetting all of the timepieces in his line, he and Mean Streak would tour the entire house and do the same with all of our watches and clocks.  I am sure at those moments my father regretted not being like his buddy, Al, who sold rings.

Since I only have two watches and two clocks, resetting my timepieces is hassle-lite.  Resetting my biorhythms is an entire other issue.  All day I have been feeling cranky, but at least in my current job, I do not have to work weekends.  That was the absolute worse and this happened frequently when I worked a job in the Armpit Department in network news.  Sometimes I would draw the short straw in the schedule and find myself assigned to the Sunday half of the weekend shift when the hour change took place.  This memorably happened on Sunday, October 31, 1999, the day the hour fell back that year.

Early that morning, off the coast of Nantucket Island, EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed killing all 217 on board.  When I worked in news, I would immediately turn on the TV upon rising so I was aware of this horrible event.  My shift started at 8 am, but I knew it was going to be a heavy news day, so I figured it was imperative that I arrive at the network early.  Therefore, I skipped my morning workout, and performed my ablutions at warp-speed.  At 7:10 am, I was polishing off a bowl of cereal, when my phone rang.  I answered and the caller was my supervisor, Stupido Dipshit, a stunningly incompetent woman I despised just a tad less than my department head, a shallow, egotistical, corporate brown-nose I will refer to here by the pseudonym, Waste O. Space.  The following is a transcript I’ve committed to memory:

Stupido:  What the hell are you doing home?  There’s a big plane crash … someplace!  [Note:  Stupido never watched the news nor read a newspaper, so she had no clear idea about what happened anywhere.] Waste O. Space called the office looking for you!  You’re supposed to be at work right now!  Do you have any idea how late you’re gonna be?  Your shift started at eight!  What am I supposed to tell him?  Give me a good answer!

Me:  The time is 7:10.  This weekend I turned my clock back.  I suggest you and Waste do the same.

Stupido:  Oh, shit!  I had no idea the hour changed!  Now I gotta tell Waste O. Space to reset his clocks!

I hung up the phone.

Einstein the Cat, trained by Waste O. Space.

Lame Adventure 20: Look Ma, No Hand!

This evening, Milton, Albee and I went to the theater.  We saw Christopher Walken who’s starring on Broadway in A Behanding in Spokane, a new play by one of our favorite playwrights, Martin McDonagh, who has written two of the best plays Albee and I have never seen staged, The Pillowman and The Beauty Queen of Leenane.  On our way up to our row A mezzanine level seats, I overheard a guy talking on his cell phone announce, “I’m seeing A Beheading in Spokane … No, it’s a play — I’m in New York.”

There were no beheadings anywhere in this play, but quite a few disembodied hands.  As for Christopher Walken, he owns the role of Carmichael, a menacing guy with some loose screws who’s in search of the hand that was taken from him 47 years ago.  Walken’s delivery, timing, and body language is spot on from start to finish.  He’s great fun to watch.  Near the play’s end he haphazardly tosses something out a window that had the three of us choking with laughter.  If choking on Christopher Walken’s on stage theatrics is how I’m meant to check out, I would die happy.

Another well-timed comic moment is when Zoe Kazan climbs up a radiator pole at warp-speed.  At the risk of sounding like a Zoe Kazan stalker, this is the third time I’ve seen her on Broadway, and I’ve enjoyed watching her in each role, first as Marie in a revival of Come Back, Little Sheba, next as Masha in The Seagull, and now as Marilyn in Behanding.  Hm, all three of her character’s names begin with the letter m.  What does this mean?  Probably that I have too much time on my hands if I’m thinking of minutiae like this, and then as further proof of my crackpot-itis, I write about it here.

For anyone who’s a Christopher Walken fan like Milton, Albee and me, A Behanding in Spokane is must-see theater.

Christopher Walken as left handless Carmichael.

Lame Adventure 19: What’s wrong with this picture?

There are times when all I need to do is enter my building’s vestibule, and there, a lame adventure, will be waiting.

This is for real.

Fortunately, this is not my mailbox, but I happen to know that the previous tenant who had that mailbox was Mamie Gummer.  Who’s that, you ask?  Try the actress-daughter of fourteen-time Academy Award nominated-loser, Meryl Streep.*  A very courteous young woman; Mamie held the door for me once and I thought, “Huh, that girl looks a helluva lot like Meryl Streep.”  Possibly, Mamie decided she could no longer bear residing in a building where the letter carrier slammed the mailbox shut on the mail.  Well, I continue to live in this building, and there are times when my mail looks like whoever placed it in my mailbox did so with a plunger. What happened to the art of delivering mail?

Pictured below is Leon E. Jones – the Rembrandt of letter carriers.

Leon radiating excellence.

For more years than I care to reveal, Leon delivered my mail with dedication and consistency.  His was one of the first numbers I input into my cellphone back in 2000, Leon was so vital to my well-being.  I had always vowed that I would move by the time he retired, but I also vowed I would move to Canada both times George W. Bush became president.  This proves that my vows are hollow, for I have yet to even visit Canada and I am now the third longest residing tenant in my building.  Leon the Lion of Letter Carriers retired in 2006, and I remain, living here in the era of the inferior delivery.

A portrait of pathetic.

*In anticipation of hearing from my fellow movie maniacs, I am aware that Meryl’s been nominated a total of sixteen times and has won twice, but can any of you, aside from Milton, take The Lame Adventures Challenge and name the films where she scored her victories off the top of your head(s)?