Monthly Archives: June 2010

Lame Adventure 66: The Kids Are All Right — Absolutely!

This week Milton and I attended a preview screening of an upcoming Focus Features film, The Kids Are All Right.  This film is one that I have been eagerly anticipating.  Why is that?  It’s a movie with lesbian protagonists.  Many films have been made about gay women, but few are well-told compelling stories.  What makes this one especially intriguing to me is that it did not seem like yet another cliché-riddled tale about women coming out, about women that are under age 20, or about women that are shallow harebrained idiots in plotlines with the emotional depth of the laundering instructions on a tube sock.

The Kids Are All Right theater display.

Much to my relief, The Kids Are All Right is a film that delivers .  It is a refreshing, witty, charming, poignant, and intelligent dramatic comedy directed by Lisa Cholodenko that she co-wrote with Stuart Blumberg.  It stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as Nic and Jules, middle age life partners that reside in the Southern Californa suburbs with their two children, 18-year-old college-bound Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and 15-year-old Raser (Josh Hutcherson).  Now that Joni is adult age, Raser urges his sister to find their biological father, an idea that she initially opposes for fear of hurting their moms.  Sullen Raser guilt trips his whip smart sister into doing the research and making the call.  The anonymous sperm donor, Paul, an amiable restaurateur played by Mark Ruffalo, agrees to meet them.  To both the kids’ and Paul’s surprise, they have an immediate rapport.

This is a story about an alternative form of family that at its core does not seem alternative at all.  Obstetrician Nic is the controlling over achieving breadwinner.  The plot pivots on her partner, Jules, the dissatisfied neglected half of the equation who is giving another business — financed by Nic — this time as a landscaper, a go in her quest to latch onto something to give her life purpose as she nears the empty nest syndrome.  Even though they have been together for decades and exhibit signs of taking each other for granted, Nic and Jules are both dedicated to raising their kids well.  Their mutual strong sense of family values is the glue that cements their bond.  They still exhibit sparks of attraction to one another, and when asked, they’re delighted to talk about how they met much to the dread of their children who are not shy to admit that they have heard this tale countless times.

The cracks in the bond between Nic and Jules are quickly apparent, and the sense that the relationship is vulnerable is illustrated when Nic objects to Jules going ahead and buying a truck for her business without telling Nic that she was doing so.  Nic is tightly wound whereas Jules is laid back, so she tunes out the issue Nic has about the truck.  When Paul, an endearing bachelor with a roving eye, enters the picture, Jules, like her children, finds herself drawn to him while Nic feels threatened and tightens her grip.  Paul, who had essentially forgotten that he donated sperm decades earlier, is drawn to the pro-family, pro-commitment life that Nic and Jules have created for themselves.  Every one of the central characters is so likeable, when the ending credits rolled, I left wanting to see The Kids Are All Right 2.

As Milton and I walked down the street reeking with the foul scent of baked trash, my normally ultra critical friend agreed that he enjoyed this film very much.  He also appreciated the glimpse of gay male porn star Gordon Grant on a DVD that slyly contributes to accelerating the plot.  In addition, he especially liked how Cholodenko directed a serious introspective scene where Nic suffers a shocking realization.  Cholodenko depicts Nic’s fragile emotional state through the audio track that sounds like she is drowning.  Annette Bening’s face is the perfect portrait of pain.  The entire cast, comprised of three of the best veterans working in film today, and two up and coming young stars, excellently brings these complex characters to life.  The only pithy insult Milton could deliver was a barb in the direction of the droopy blouse that a woman also attending the screening was wearing, “Now I know where all my old drapes went.”

Milton thinks this film has the potential to be quite a crowd pleaser.  I hope that he is right.  Although the unfairness of the illegality of gay marriage is not mentioned, watching Nic and Jules interact with each other and with their kids, it strikes one as absurd that couples like them, essentially ordinary people running a home, raising a family, and paying taxes, are denied a legal union in this country.  This film that is about so much that is all right, indirectly hammers home without hammering the viewer how our laws in forty-five of this country’s states are just all wrong.

Lisa Cholodenko has made a film that strikes a very honest chord about people gay or straight.  Reflecting upon the dearth of good films featuring lesbians, The Kids Are All Right is wonderful.

Posted below is the trailer.  It opens in select theaters (translation: major cities) July 9th.

Lame Adventure 65: Pride Baby!

Milton and I celebrated gay pride New York City-style this weekend by watching the LGBT Pride March from the sidelines on lower Fifth Avenue near West 16th Street.  As we played dueling digital cameras in the humid heat, we did not complain for it did not rain on our parade, something I feared might happen.  We also kept ourselves well hydrated.  I had my 20-ounce bottle of water and Milton guzzled an entire Poland Spring water truck personally before we shared a liter of refreshing mango (not served by Chris Kattan) sangria over dinner afterward.

The parade itself was an uplifting event.  Marriage, family, religious acceptance and equality were key themes.  We noticed many members of organized faiths marching.  In the forty years that this event has been taking place, it’s very moving to see the progress that has been made.  Milton and I both got lumps in our throats when we saw the contingency from the New York Police Department in their dress blues march past.  Forty-one years ago when the Stonewall riots ignited in Greenwich Village, the police bashed the patrons to the point of inciting revolt.  That was the pivotal event that started the pride movement that continues today, but who would have ever anticipated that a battalion of out gay and lesbian cops would march proudly in such a parade?  And they were followed by the out gay and lesbian firefighters.  What’s next out and proud Catholic priests and nuns?  Oops, better not go there.

The person standing next to me, an individual of indeterminate gender who I thought was female, but Milton swore he saw an Adam’s apple, doubled as a human vuvuzela forever blowing a piercing whistle to entice marchers to come her way.  Standing along side this exuberantly demonstrative parade-goer for three hours and forty-five minutes was a bit taxing for both of us.  The limited hearing in my impaired right ear is undoubtedly further decreased, but I pointed out to Milton that “Blow Tart” (our name for this person) was not the worst person in the world.  It was not like we were stuck standing next to Osama bin Laden and his dialysis machine.  Afterward, I asked Milton what he thought someone like Blow Tart did for a living.  He suggested in a droll tone, “Annoy people.  She’s great at her job.”

Posted below are some of our photographs and because we’re devils, a little video we shot of Blow Tart that we posted on YouTube.  This better illustrates why Milton’s knee-jerk response is “idiot” every time I mention this person.  Overall, it was a lovely parade, and we did have a great time.

Traditional parade start with Yikes! on Bikes.

Lovely Yike on her Bike.

Bride of Pride.

Grand Marshal Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard's mom.

Grand Marshal US Army Lieutenant Dan Choi, West Point graduate and gay rights activist trying to overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Horse drawn Wells Fargo carriage.

Parade worker cleaning crap emitted from Wells Fargo carriage horse prompting Milton to say, "Don't shit on our parade!"

Marriage fairness fighters.

Delta wants LGBT dollars.

Banner says all.

Banner says all but some of us fall between these two poles.

Still on the topic of poles, don't try this at home unless your name is Madonna.

Does not look any easier from this angle, either.

The blood rushed to both our heads just watching this. The dancer is 27-year-old Marlo Fiskin. Her partner is pedaling the bike.

Our senator Chuck Schumer!

A perfect day for a parasol and fan. Why didn't we think of that?

Hebrew National Pride.

NYPD Pride.

NYC Firefighter Pride.

Moms and bambinos.

Beautiful Pride Tot.

Milton's "what the hell" shot of Mr. & Mr. Smith.

If you got it, parade it.

Milton's sweaty paw holding a parade button he caught.

AOL ice cream truck giving out no ice cream.

Fellow bloggers!

Nice day to stroll in your underwear.

Topless girls in hard hats. Meow!

Topless boys clinching.

Mister Pansy Pride.

Buff guy that somehow caught Milton's eye.

Buff guy and buff bud endorsing TD Bank -- move over Regis Philbin.

Asian Pride!

Asian Pride boy feeling good.

Is that you, Courtney Love?

Boys from Peru flaunting it.

Boys from Peru swishing by.

Boy from Peru showing off.

In the mood to wear a top hat.

Peacock.

Wow.

Who the fuck is this bitch with a whistle?

Whistle.

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner -- "Isn't it great to have a name like Weiner on gay pride day?"

They agree with Congressman Weiner!

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Banner says it all.

Under Construction.

Drag queen in need of a Red Bull.

Cleopatra's assistants.

Big Apple Corps Marching Band.

Big Apple Corps Marching Band marching.

Big Apple Corps Marching Band tuba players or as Milton said, "They even have tuba players in this parade!"

Just legalize it.

Okay.

Rich lash mascara!

Pump your fist for pride!

In the spirit of La Cage aux Folles ...

Working out on lower Fifth Avenue.

Daddy-Mommy dearest.

As long as everyone's consenting ...

We want to do LGBT banking!

The talented Mr. Whip Man.

Gay guys for shower curtains.

Go Magazine girls.

Sexy girls marching on spring shoes. Acme brand like Wile E. Coyote's?

A lone Cagelle?

Unreal literally and figuratively.

Another angle on the unreal.

Michelle Dupree, whoever that is.

Pro LGBT Episcopals.

New York Law School girls when they're not hitting the books.

The Randy Blue Boys - up and coming, pardon the pun, gay male porn film company.

Smiling Randy Blue Boy.

Marching Pride pooch taking a breather.

Green party members letting it all hang out.

Gay City News ending the march. Note doggie in driver's side window.

Lame Adventure 64: “Do you need a bag?”

Wednesday, when I returned from my much too brief West Coast escape to my exalted position of low reward as floor and wall tile sample emissary between my boss, Elsbeth, and sidekick, Greg, I noticed that I was running low on breakfast cereal.  A week earlier Elsbeth and I locked horns over my eating my cereal during the ten o’clock hour instead of the usual nine o’clock hour, the hour before she enters the premises.  The conversation went as follows; Elsbeth is in her office and I am sitting at my desk situated outside her open door.

Elsbeth (bellowing):  Can you come in here?

Me (mouth full of organic wheat carbuncles):  No.

Elsbeth (dumbfounded):  What?

Me (mouth still full):  You heard me.

Elsbeth (insistent):  Come in here!

Me (chewing):  Is this an emergency?

Elsbeth (demanding):  I need you in here!

Me (slurping milk):  Hold on.

Elsbeth (breaking point):  Why?

I finish my breakfast and enter Elsbeth’s office with my ever-ready notepad.  Her hair looks electrified.

Me:  I was eating my cereal.

Elsbeth:  So?

Me:  There’s only a two minute window between crispy and mush.

It’s so exasperating having to explain the fact of cereal eating to Elsbeth, but her ideal desk-breakfast, the kind she usually denies herself due to staggering calorie content, is a bagel with cream cheese, an egg sandwich, or possibly her favorite indulgence, a sugary, buttery and flaky pastry.  I have never seen her spoon anything floating in milk ever.

Elsbeth:  You should have eaten your cereal earlier.

Me:  I couldn’t.  I was taking care of all the things you told me you needed done “first thing” this morning.  I had to delay eating my cereal.

I resist adding “because of you” but my superior knows exactly what I am thinking.   She also knows me well enough that she can hear the abacus inside my head calculating that for most of the 1,461 days that I’ve been sitting at that desk outside her door I have ingested my cereal by half past nine.

The cereal discussion concludes.

As for what it was that my Lord and Master wanted me to do with such urgency, it completely escapes my recollection.  It was not as remotely memorable to me as our sparring over my cup of organic wheat carbuncles, but I suppose that after 1,461 days of fulfilling floor and wall tile requests, they all start to blur a tad.

This week, when I return from my much too brief West Coast hiatus, Elsbeth is quite content to have me back in the fold.  For the two days that I have been absent, she has been unable to locate a box of tile color chips we received earlier in the month.  I walk over to her bookshelf, remove the box, and hand it to her.  She finds my powers of sample location in her lair remarkable.  I resist asking, “Can I go home now?”

Greg tips me off that although it is quite hot outdoors I will not suffer heat stroke since there is a welcome breeze.  Armed with this information, during my break, I decide to run my cereal errand.  Since it is warm, I travel light with only my i.d., some cash, and cell phone.  I traipse down to the Whole Foods in Tribeca that is near my office.

Once in the store, I pick up three organic bananas, and two boxes of cereal, items that are all I can carry without drop kicking anything.  I make a beeline to the express checkout, a little wary since there was that mishap the last time I was in the store when a fellow shopper failed to follow the rules and went to the wrong register wreaking a few moments of blood pressure raising havoc for me.  Fortunately, today I am in the company of Mensa shoppers.  Everyone has extraordinary powers of proceeding to the appropriate register without inciting any brouhaha.  When it is my turn to check out, I place my three items on the counter and have this exchange:

Clerk:  Do you need a bag?

Me (what I want to say):  How else do you expect me to carry all this stuff, on my head?

Me (what I do say):  Yes.

And I feel defensive about this response.

I understand the need to conserve and recycle, and I do conserve and recycle, but sometimes I think basic practicality is ignored.  On the other hand, I suspect that this line of dialogue has been programmed into this clerk, so even if I were purchasing ten boxes of cereal and nine bananas, he’d ask the same question.  Plus, many customers shop with their own bags, such as the ones that Whole Foods sells.  I would carry one of those bags if Whole Foods would pay me an endorsement fee.  Hm, one way to supplement my meager income.  If I were really thinking, or possessed a scintilla of the intellectual acuity of my fellow Mensa-member shoppers, I would have carried my own Whole Foods logo paper bag, possibly one of the many I’ve stuffed inside the storage locker at work.  Had I planned ahead, I would not be suffering a guilt trip now over saying yes to another paper bag.  Will I remember to bring my own bag the next time I do a cereal run?

Probably not.

Clearly, I’m ready for another, and much longer, vacation, or maybe I just need to do the truly unthinkable and eat a bagel for breakfast.  Then, when my boss bleats for me, I can immediately answer her call, and gift her desk with crumbs.

Lame Adventure 63: West Coast Getaway

Often, when people tell me about their vacations, my eyes glaze over, my mind wanders, and I think thoughts like, “Wow, if only this conversation could be put in pill-form, insomnia would be cured forever.”  Therefore, I will do my best to keep this discussion about some of the highlights of my recent West Coast getaway brief and hopefully, not too dreadfully dull.

This past weekend, I was in the San Francisco Bay Area visiting my family.  As a fatalist considering my 83-year-old father’s many later life ailments — three heart attacks, prostate cancer, and the latest, a second hernia, it occurred to me that before he is felled by a piece of errant space junk falling out of the sky, it would behoove me to visit him for Father’s Day, and so I did.  Even though he was quieter than usual, I attributed that to the discomfort he must have been suffering from the aforementioned hernia coupled with the mind numbing monologue that my brother, Axel, delivered about his two cats, Sidd(hartha) and Boo.  My sister Dovima’s dog, Thurber, the resident cat-hater, took Axel-matters into his own paws.  He would periodically jump on Axel, forcing my brother to give the far more popular canine, attention on demand.  How I love that dog!

Thurber the Hero

Fred the Family Fish

Back in 1994, Dovima produced a grandchild, Sweetpea, who I suspect my father finds more interesting than tales of Sidd and Boo, if only because she is pretty tight lipped these days.  Now that my niece is 15 going on 16, she is in a sullen stage that I personally recall can last well past 40, but unlike Axel’s cats, at least my niece is non-allergenic.  When Sweetpea is compelled to engage in conversation, the sounds emitted are showing signs of intelligent life.  I am hopeful that when she enters college, we’ll resume conversation, even if she steers it in the direction of what she should do to avoid turning her life into a sinkhole of failure like mine, and I steer it more in the direction of what she plans to do about me when I enter my dotage.  I feel very optimistic about the future of my rapport with Sweetpea.

As for Dovima, and my brother-in-law, Chuck, they were their usual affable selves.  Dovima chauffeured me to and from SFO at ridiculous hours and Chuck watched several YouTube videos with me shot by Ry, the beekeeping and chicken raising son of my best friend from college, BatPat.  Note to BatPat, Chuck wants a jar of Ry’s honey whenever he and Rick (Ry’s dad) get around to canning it or bottling it or however they plan to package it when it’s ready to go on the market.

Whenever I visit my family, they know that I must make time for BatPat, the woman who is closest to me next to Dovima.  In recent years when I’ve visited, BatPat and I have been attending winery tours in the Napa Valley, but since this past visit was confined to just the weekend, we only had time for an idyllic dinner at Scoma’s in Sausalito where she shared her latest Lame Adventure since we last got together in December.

Scoma's

View of San Francisco Bay from our table inside Scoma's.

Sailboat BatPat wanted that sailed past our table.

Artichoke and steamers appetizers.

BatPat's Filet of Sole entree.

My Ahi Tuna entree.

Fish plate BatPat loved.

My dear friend’s lame adventure concerned a middle of the night escapade orchestrated by her husband and son with a bee hive, a car sunk in mud, and a dangerous bee sting that required her daughter, Ra, coming to her dad and brother’s rescue.  Everyone avoided notifying BatPat about this ordeal because everyone was afraid that she would detonate if she were aware of this lunacy.  (It did remind me of knuckleheaded antics worthy of my pal from New Jersey, Martini Max.)  So, BatPat slept soundly through what could have been a monumental family tragedy had her fast-acting daughter not saved the day.  As annoyed as she was about her husband and son trying to ditch a swarm of bees in a mud flat in the midnight hour, she was very proud of Ra.

Afterward, we returned to BatPat’s house that I’ve renamed “Green Acres” in honor of her son’s back yard beekeeping and chicken farming.  Rick, her husband, a guy I’ve known as long as BatPat, was waiting for us.  He accessed for me a bevy of simultaneously repulsive and compelling videos on YouTube of the survivalist Bear Grylls eating bugs, larvae and dead zebra carcass in the more fetid than great outdoors.  As Bear downs his stomach-turning eats, never once does he say, “Tastes like chicken.”

Buddies!

Overall, it was a lovely weekend away from Gotham City with family and friends.

Back to reality mail not too smashed.

Lame Adventure 61: Tony Award Observations

Sunday night I tuned into the Tony Awards.  I had been looking forward to this broadcast, but I’m not sure why for it’s always a guaranteed letdown.  Seeing individual musical numbers and snippets of plays strips the shows of their vitality and depth.  Fela!, my favorite new musical, and Everyday Rapture, my second favorite new musical, both came across like two steaming piles of crap instead of fresh, innovative and highly entertaining shows.

Sean Hayes was the host.  He was quite the team player acting the fool in ballet tights, Little Orphan Annie get-up, and in the funniest moment, a Spider-Man suit, an allusion to the stalled Julie Taymor extravaganza that is taking years to open.  In an acknowledgement to a very controversial and absurd Newsweek article claiming that an out gay actor cannot convincingly play straight, Hayes engaged in a prolonged open mouth kiss with his Promises, Promises co-star Kristin Chenoweth.

Sean and Kristin PDA-ing Al and Tipper-style.

The show itself was full of dreadful moments from start to finish, outpacing the Academy Awards in that department.  There were odd pairings of presenters, the most embarrassing being Daniel Radcliffe, who I did not realize only stands four feet eight alongside six foot nine Katie Holmes.  Katie’s dinky husband must have suggested that match.

Bambi meets Godzilla.

In another head scratching moment, maybe a perverse nod to “Broadway” Joe Namath, New York Jets quarterback and (who knew?) “theater aficionado”,  Mark Sanchez, blandly introduced the musical, Memphis. Much to my dismay, the predictions were spot-on and it would later defeat Fela! for Best New Musical.  About ten minutes later, Catherine Zeta-Jones was on stage singing “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music.  Milton and I had seen her perform this number decently back in February, but this evening, she was making complete mincemeat out of the show’s signature song.  She was over-acting, her voice was off, even her makeup looked gruesome.  She reminded me of the audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln I saw when I visited Disneyland in my youth.

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Then, my phone rang.

Me:  Hello.

Milton:  Are you watching this travesty?

Me:  Yeah, what’s going on with her?  Is she nervous?

Milton:  I don’t know.  She’s butchering it. This performance could kill Stephen Sondheim.

Me:  I’m not feeling so good myself.

Milton and I remained on the phone for the rest of the broadcast, and watched more low-lights including the montage of all the Best Play nominees.  These were disjointed unidentified clips that made every play look like an equally pointless waste of time, defeating the central message of this telecast since it is a three-hour commercial for theater.  The musicals, as always, dominated the coverage.  Milton loved the performance of “The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles, but the splashy song and dance numbers shown from the other musicals Ragtime; Promises, Promises; Million Dollar Quartet; Memphis; Come Fly Away, were all pretty horrible.  When Fela! had its moment to shine, with the African-American cast dancing over the entire stage, Milton drolly announced, “CBS just lost Oklahoma.”  Many of the musicals were given long-winded introductions that made our minds wander.  We began talking about film.

Milton:  Do you know if that Joan Rivers documentary is available on channel 1000?  What’s it called?

Me:  Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. It wasn’t when I looked yesterday … Are you planning to see The Human Centipede?

Milton:  Are you kidding?  I wouldn’t pay to see that crap!  <pause> I’ll get it on NetFlix.

Briefly, the show got interesting when Viola Davis and then Denzel Washington both won for Best Actress and Best Actor for the revival of August Wilson’s Fences.  She gave a beautiful heartfelt speech whereas he seemed unprepared as he fumbled through his thanks, but she was a tough act to follow.  Milton was bored with Denzel’s remarks, and chose this moment to criticize his suit and creamy color tie.  Cate Blanchett, in a shimmering silver suit that won Milton’s enthusiastic seal of approval, presented the award for Best Revival of a Play to Fences.  I wasn’t as impressed with her outfit.  I thought it looked like something designed by NASA.

More odd presenters included Paula Abdul handing Bill T. Jones the choreography award for Fela! Even more perverse was Raquel Welch, who not only had a difficult time reading the teleprompter but also seemed to stumble through what was written inside the envelope confirming the old adage, “Once a bimbo, always a bimbo.”  Milton quipped that he would love to see her perform Hedda Gabler at a dinner theater in Boca Raton.  She presented the award for Best Revival of a Musical to La Cage aux Folles.  It later occurred to me that Milton has often said that if he had been born a woman, he would have wanted to have Raquel Welch’s body (I’m quite sure minus her brain), so it’s possible that someone overheard him, and that was why she was tagged as a presenter.  Of his ideal woman, Milton observed, “She looked better on Oprah.”

Towards the end of the show, some cast members from the TV series, Glee, performed Broadway show tunes.  Milton is a Glee fan, but he had no idea why this was happening.  I think it was a blatant attempt to hang onto the attention of younger viewers.  When Lea Michele performed the Barbra Streisand classic from Funny Girl, “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, Milton was so incensed, I thought he might rocket-launch himself out of his hand-cranked Barcalounger and strangle her.  Milton worships Babs.  Lea Michele sang the same arrangement as Streisand, and she did hit all the notes.  Milton grudgingly admitted that she did not destroy it, but there is only one Barbra Streisand, and she will be a tough act to follow.

Lea Michele ready to take on Barbra Streisand?

I later did some research and have learned that Funny Girl is going to be revived in 2012.  Bartlett Sher (who attended the same high school as my brother, Axel, but five years apart) has signed onto direct.  He has directed two previously Milton-approved productions, the revivals of South Pacific in 2008 and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in 2009.  Next season, he’s directing a musical adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 film, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.  The big question is who will play Fanny Brice, the role that propelled Streisand to superstardom.  Possibly Lea Michele was using this opportunity at the Tony awards as an audition.  According to Wikipedia, she has been performing on Broadway since age 8.  Milton and I saw her in Spring Awakening. She was Jonathan Groff’s pregnant girlfriend, Wendla.  When Milton reads this, I anticipate that he’ll spit fire.

After Memphis won for Best New Musical, the show ended so abruptly, Sean Hayes barely had time to say goodnight, before a second splashy number from this show could be quickly staged.  I switched to channel 1000 and told Milton that the Joan Rivers documentary is still not available on demand.

Lame Adventure 60: Skid Marks

Mid-week, intermittent showers soaked Manhattan.  Whenever I hear that there is going to be rain in the forecast, I remember to pack my umbrella and resign myself to the reality of a lousy hair day.  What I didn’t anticipate was doing a pratfall in the Chambers Street subway station where my feet fell out from under me and I slid across the slippery wet floor Looney Tunes style.  When my slide came to a stop, I hit my head with a thud.  Only flying feathers and the sound of a cuckoo clock were missing in my real-life cartoon.

A spot that is definitely slippery when wet.

A thought flashed through my mind, “Is this my Natasha Richardson moment? Will I be calling in dead at work tomorrow?”  Then, I remembered that her tragic head injury occurred in an elusive spot above her ear.  I hit the back of my head, possibly the portion of the skull that encases the scintilla of brain required to perform my illustrious job as Minister of Tile, a job that The New York Times, in a recent article, equated with “any job.”  No need for Milton to arrange to have my ashes spread over Fairway (good food), Film Forum (good film), and the Public theater (good theater) just yet.

As three women hurried toward me, I sprang to my feet and waved them off insisting that I felt fine, even though every bone inside my body was vibrating like a tuning fork.  As I descended the stairs leading to the subway platform, it occurred to me that I was feeling relatively okay at the moment, but I might not feel so great the next day.  That was a fairly accurate insight.  When I woke the following morning, I was so sore and so stiff, my entire being felt like it needed to be encased in a splint-style burka, or at least a modified pine box with cut outs for the arms, legs and face.

I considered calling out sick, but Elsbeth, my boss, is continuing to battle an offshoot of the Ebola virus.  After missing all of last week fighting this persistent bug, she’s shown up at work every day this week, half-deaf, congested and miserable.  What would I tell her?

Me:  Hi Elsbeth.

Elsbeth:  Where are you?

Me:  Home.  Sick.  I fell down.

Elsbeth:  Get up and come into work! <phlegm-filled cough>

Even though I have a full body sprain right now, it could have been much worse.  I could have broken something.  Some years back in mid-ski season, my old acquaintance, Felix Unger, broke a rib while skiing at a skill-level beyond his fetal-bunny slope area of expertise.  He did not make a full recovery until summer.  When his rib was almost completely healed in spring, a woman on a crowded A train, who didn’t want to hold onto a pole, slammed hard into him, subjecting him to immediate re-injury.  Riding the subway hurt is something best avoided, especially around germ-o-phobic passengers with no sense of balance.

On the train ride into work this morning, my wants were few, I could content myself with either a morphine drip, or a seat.  My express train downtown pulled into Times Square simultaneously with a local, so I crossed the platform and made a beeline for a row of empty seats.  I did notice a woman carrying a Whole Foods bag standing in front of that vacant row holding the overhead bar.  I assumed she felt like standing because she was getting off soon.  The next stop, 34th Street Penn Station, is another major transfer point in the route.  She saw me coming, she stepped aside, and I took a seat – right in a puddle of water!  Once again, I sprang to my feet.

Me:  It’s wet here!

Woman:  Yeah.

Me (exasperated):  Why didn’t you say something?

Woman (smug):  I already knew it was wet.

She smiled slightly, revealing her pleasure with my predicament.  I felt punked, but did not say anything further, even my tongue felt too sore to argue.  I moved over by the door in this leaky train and waited for my soggy ass to dry.  She continued to hover over that soaked seat for several more stops in apparent wait for more victims to do what I did.  I was waiting too, waiting to bark, “Don’t sit there!”  She eventually got off.  No one sat in that row by the time I reached my stop.

Don't sit here!

I could not help but wonder why someone would be so nasty toward fellow passengers hoping someone would sit in a sopping wet seat.  Was this her revenge for having to work in a carnival dunk tank?  I’m neither spiritual nor religious, but I believe karma is important.  When you consciously do something deplorable with the intention of making some unknowing sap miserable, having that stain on your soul will eventually haunt you somewhere down the line.  It might be the difference between taking a tumble in the subway station and getting up dazed — or lying helpless on the floor with a cracked skull, the reward for behaving like a nasty turd.

Brilliantly placed sign located nowhere near any wet subway station floor.

Lame Adventure 59: Intelligence Test

There is a Whole Foods, or as my sister, Dovima, prefers to call this market, Whole Paycheck, in Tribeca near my place of employ.  Since milk and the bananas I get – the ones that are called free range or possibly it’s whole trade – are priced the same as the Fairway near my apartment, I do not feel fleeced when I make these purchases during my lunchbreak.  Whenever I am in Whole Foods, I only buy what I set out to get, and therefore, I am a barnacle to my budget.  That is the only way I can afford to set a toe in this temple of gastronomy without agitating my acid reflux.

Whole Foods in Tribeca under cover of leafy trees.

The purchasing of two simple staples can easily be accomplished relatively quickly in the ever-evolving express checkout lanes.  Since this location’s inception, these checkout lanes have continually transformed.  Initially, there were two high definition TV screens for the two separate sections of registers, one section for registers 1 through 12 and the other for registers 13 through 24.  Inevitably, one section always moved faster than the other so the challenge was to determine which section that was.  Often, the faces bearing the more miserable expressions were a good indicator, but in New York, you cannot always rely on the disgruntled look since some people just naturally appear that way.  Specifically, I’m thinking about my millionaire landlady, Iris O’Gougely, but I digress …

In recent months, Whole Foods in Tribeca has switched to a more egalitarian one monitor for all registers approach.  How this works is there are now five color-coded lanes with big white arrows pointing downward, a simple way of communicating to customers where they should stand and wait their turn to go to a register while watching the screen above.

Stand under the arrows.

The monitor’s screen now has five fat stripes, the same color as each color in each lane.

Screen with five fat stripes.

Customers stand in the lanes, and as registers become open, a number appears in the color of the corresponding lane’s stripe showing the open register’s number.   A pleasant female voice simultaneously announces that number.  Working from left to right, the next open register then proceeds to the next lane’s stripe color.

This system is working with precision efficiency as customers follow instructions and go directly to the registers corresponding to their lanes.  Unfortunately, the system breaks down when I take my place in the yellow lane, a lane that is between the blue and green lanes.  In the blue lane to my left, stands my fellow customer, a jughead that I call Mr. Blue.  Up on the monitor, in Mr. Blue’s blue stripe, appears the number 12.  For added emphasis, the voice announces, “Register 12.”  A second or two later, in my yellow lane’s yellow stripe, appears the number 7, and the voice announces, “Register 7.”  As I am walking toward Register 7, I slam on the brakes for I see that Mr. Blue, who was supposed to head to Register 12, coincidentally the register closest to where he was standing and waiting, has gone to Register 7 instead.

Meanwhile, just as I am back-peddaling to Mr. Blue’s register, Register 12, I hear the voice announce, “Register 8.”  The customer in the green lane who is supposed to go to that register is Ms. Green, a woman wearing a hat that resembles a birdcage crossbred with an inverted garbage can.  She steps up to Register 12 instead.  As order briefly freefalls into chaos, I lose the ability to hide my frustration feeling sandwiched between dolts.  I morph into Darth Vader, emit a deep breathy groan, and flash Ms. Green the hairy eyeball.  She giggles, “I think I’m supposed to go to 8!”  She makes a fast exit in Register 8’s direction.  I resist suggesting in her wake, “Give the finger to Mr. Blue at Register 7 for me.”

I hope that Mr. or Ms. Red found their way to Register 12.