Monthly Archives: July 2011

Lame Adventure 214: Wedding(s) Crasher

The brides.

Today is a lovely 91 degree day in the city – hot but not humid, and a perfect day to get same-sex married in one of the two pop-up chapels near Columbus Circle at the Merchant’s Gate entrance to Central Park.  The area seemed equally divided with well wishing onlookers as well as police and wedding staff.

Well wishing onlookers.

The crowd was behaved although one onlooker’s father, a grumpy tourist who was more hungry for his lunch than storybook-New-York-City-style-romance, continually groused to his wedding-loving-daughter:

Grumpy Dad:  C’mon, we’ve watched enough of this!  Let’s get lunch!

Wedding-Loving-Daughter:  You get lunch.  I wanna watch!

Grumpy Dad:  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Wedding-Loving-Daughter was adorable, and a thought occurred to me:

Me:  People meet at weddings all the time.  Give her your Lame Adventures card.

Then a second thought occurred to me:

Me: She’s at least thirty years younger than you.  You’re older than her dad.  And, hello, you’re not a cougar!

I kept my card and returned my focus to the festivities.

This event offered free weddings including officiating, photography, champagne, witnesses, and of most importance to every New Yorker, cupcakes, to 24 first come, first serve couples that responded to the Pop-Up Chapel web site.  The weddings are co-sponsored by an on-line wedding planning site called the Knot.  The number 24 was selected because June 24th was the date that the bill was passed to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.

The two chapels were selected from 56 design entries.  Two of the stipulations were that these chapels had the capacity to be constructed within two hours on the morning of the event, and they measure no more than eight by eight feet.  The winners were Kiss by Z-A Studio and a cube of rainbow ribbons by the design firm ICRAVE.  What I liked most about Kiss, aside from the simple elegance of the design, was that when separated, the two pieces could not stand alone.  Gee, if I was the sappy type, I might have popped a tear when I wrote that.

Here are some pictures of the two chapels of love Gotham City-style and some of the loving couples.  Click on this loving couples to link to learn a little about fourteen of the couples that were wed today.  They’ve been together between three and thirty-seven years or according to my abacus, an average of eleven years.

Sign and Keeper of the Sign

The Knot's staff.

ICRAVE's rainbow ribbons chapel.

Jay & John, together almost 37 years, exchanging vows.

Z-A Studio's empty Kiss waiting for next couple.

Deb & Jazell (in traditional dress), together five years after meeting over a cantaloupe, exchanging vows.

Congratulations!

Deb and Jazell mingling post-nuptials.

Next couple preparing to exchange vows.

Cameracrew recording ceremony.

Exchanging I do's.

Post-kiss under Kiss (missed kiss due to snail slow shutter speed).

Just married Tom & Scott after almost 30 years together.

Lame Adventure 213: Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you feel like a rambutan

Pictured below is an edible treat from Ruth, diminutive of Ruthless, my company’s fierce general manager (lightweights need not apply to work her job).

Dig in.

It was sitting with its chums in a bowl in the Accounting Department.  I asked Edith, the data entry operator:

Me:  Hey Edith, what are those things?

Edith:  Something Ruth picked up in Chinatown.  I’m stayin’ away.

Edith said this in a tone reeking of such disgust, to an untrained ear one might have had the impression that Ruth picked up the gift of scurvy for her staff.  These hairy lychee nuts did look rather homely to me, but homely in an interesting borderline erotic way if I were inclined to violate myself with skin ripping prickly things.  (Note:  I don’t have that particular kink.)  At least these conversation pieces were compact unlike this infinitely bigger source of visual pollution that’s been haunting West End Avenue ever since the economy tanked.

The password is, "Space Hog."

Currently, it’s parked outside my Upper West Side abode.  I do not begrudge whoever resides in this rolling eyesore.  That genius has certainly hit on a very cost-effective way to avoid the monthly pain of paying rent that’s “too damn high!

As I was exiting Accounting, Ruth called out my name, beckoning me to return.  I did.  She offered me one of her treats.

Me:  What are these things?

Ruth:  I don’t know what they’re called.  Take one.  Eat it.  They’re good.

Ruth takes one and puts it in my hand.  It feels rough.  If anything tastes remotely good to our Accounting staff, it’s devoured at warp speed, so I’m skeptical.

Me:  If they’re that good, how come your staff hasn’t inhaled all of them?

On cue, three members of her staff are on their feet walking toward me, curious to see if Ruth can get me to eat one.

Me:  Besides how do you open it, with a jackhammer?

Ruth takes one, digs in her thumbs and peels back the skin.  It comes off as easily as a horndog politician’s Dockers revealing the pale fleshy fruit within that does resemble a lychee nut.  Linda, one of Ruth’s minions, approaches:

Linda: Ruth, you’re a pro at peeling that off!

Ruth:  It’s easy, Linda, try it.

Linda has one on her desk.  She’s using it as a paperweight.

Linda:  I need to know the nutritional value.  Is it high in sodium?  Will it lower my cholesterol?

Ruth bites into the flesh, and makes a monosyllabic sound as if in ecstasy.  She insists:

Ruth:  This is really good you guys!

I like lychee nuts, and I think I would like this thing, too, but now I want to show it to Ling to find out what it really is.  Ling’s Chinese-American; she knows all the fruits and vegetables of her ancestors.  I hightail out of Accounting and make a beeline for my buddy.  I return to my desk showing off my treat.  Ling squints:

Ling:  What the hell is that?

Me:  You don’t know.  Isn’t it some kind of hairy lychee nut?

Ling:  I don’t think that’s a lychee nut.  Lychee nuts are smaller, redder and their bumps are different.  I really don’t know what you have there, but when you’re ready eat it, I want to know what it’s like.

Elsbeth, our superior was hovering, so for now it’s sitting on my desk serving as our conversation piece.  I did Google “hairy lychee nut” when I returned home and learned that it’s actually a tropical fruit called a rambutan that’s native to Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other places in Southeast Asia.  No mention of it being popular in Ling’s part of the world, the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border side of China.

For anyone that shares Linda’s obsession with nutritional value, here’s what the USDA has to say about canned rambutan packed in syrup.

USDA weighs in.

It appears to be a significant source of niacin, vitamin c, and manganese, as well as an addition to my now expanded vocabulary.

Update: as I was leaving work on Friday, I realized that in my usual bored-out-of-what’s-left-of-my mind haze, I completely forgot to eat my rambutan. Ling said:

Ling: You probably should have refrigerated it.  On Monday, it’ll probably be dried out.

I grabbed it off my desk and plopped it into my satchel.  Once in the confines of my inner sanctum, I attempted to peel it.  The skin was more resistant to shedding for me than it was for Ruth, and I got a big squirt of juice in the face.  Once stripped, the fruit was still plump.  As for the taste, it tasted very similar to a lychee nut, sweet and flavorful.  Then, I chased it with a Heineken to officially kick off the weekend.

The rambutan stripped bare!

Lame Adventure 212: Life Imitates Tee Shirt

One of my remaining affordable guilty pleasures since I have zero fashion sense combined with a tight budget is tee shirts with captions from my favorite New Yorker cartoons.  I like these tee shirts even more when The New Yorker emails me a twenty percent off discount code.  They provide the perfect compliment to Jack Purcell badminton shoes.

Pictured below is an actual New York City pigeon that I encountered as it was pecking at half a toasted bagel on West Broadway on a sweltering afternoon.  I thought:

Me:  How fortuitous!  I just ordered this tee shirt!

Where's the schmear?

To anyone as skeptical as me, no, I did not toss half a toasted bagel into West Broadway to get this shot.  It was fate.

Fashion statement.

Cartoon caption closeup.

The cartoon is by veteran New Yorker staff cartoonist, Roz Chast, and the tee shirt is available online at The New Yorker Store in sizes suitable for the entire family.  It is also available as a unisex hoodie, a mug, note cards, art prints (framed or not) and the original drawing is also for sale at an undisclosed price that starts at $1,900.  One could conceivably dedicate two months salary to this cartoon alone, if one suffered a massive head injury.  I’m content with just the tee shirt.

Lame Adventure 211: Garden Wars

In a futile attempt to escape the steam bath conditions currently smothering the Big Apple, I was walking down my Upper West Side block on the shady side of the street where it was easily two degrees cooler.  As I passed a garden in a co-op building opposite my humble brownstone, I noticed a sign planted in the foliage extolling we’re number one style bragging rights.  This garden had been honored with a block beautification award by the block association.

Blue Ribbon winner.

After looking at the sign, I took a longer look at the victory garden.

Thrill of victory garden

It looked cheesy to me with the four cement urns better suited for a cemetery, but possibly this plot also serves as the burial spot for a rich tenant’s cat, Four-paws. Then I wondered

Me:  Am I being snarky about this because I’m baking inside my skin right now, or is it because my building’s garden lost?

I crossed the street and inspected my building’s losing garden.

Agony of defeat garden

Granted, it’s looking pretty droopy these days, but it is boiling outside.  I’m not trying to make excuses, although the entire city is approximately ten degrees hotter than the basement in Hell right now.  Coincidentally, the architect for that basement is also the sadistic mastermind behind every underground subway platform in Gotham.  His primary source of inspiration was his oven’s broiler.  But I digress … When the rose bushes bloom in my building’s garden, they can look rather lovely.

I wondered if my building even competed in this contest?  Did we win second or third prize and were so offended we didn’t win first that we acted like sore losers and didn’t plant our sign?  Or, were we shunned because of that semi-toasted lump of green pine in the back right corner?

Can someone bring the sunblock over here?

This semi-toasted lump of green pine was my building’s Christmas tree circa 2009.  Back then it was a spindly pile of needles and twigs sitting on the radiator cover in the vestibule.  It was nearly overcome with the weight of ornaments and tinsel.  Milton called it the Charlie Brown tree but he also thought it was adorable.  When the holidays were over, the people that manage my building planted it in the garden.  It’s proven to be a hardy little tree, having survived its second winter, and now it’s weathering its second summer.

Buried in a January blizzard.

Trying to stand upright again in April.

This has prompted me to predict that in about fifty to a hundred years it could be the tree holding court in Rockefeller Center.  Yet, I don’t think it’s a Norway Spruce, so if it does hang in there for fifty to a hundred more years, it just might be the year-long Christmas tree in my building’s garden – and probably why my building’s garden is destined to forever lose the block beautification award.

Block Beautification Award Judges:  Those blockheads with that eyesore Christmas tree in the garden are once again trying for the block beautification award!  Unbelievable!

What I think my building deserves far more is the block association’s equivalent to the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.  Our garden might be eclectic but at least it has personality – and no creepy cemetery urns!

Lame Adventure 210: Lightening Strikes Twice

I was in Tribeca walking down Greenwich Street en route to Whole Paycheck mindlessly thinking about whatever it was that I was mindlessly thinking about at that moment, probably the usual — food or sex or did I remember to turn off the iron.  As I was approaching the intersection at Greenwich and Warren Streets I suddenly saw the elusive Google Maps Street View car for the second time in less than two weeks.  Click here to read about my first encounter with this exciting vehicle.

The right place at the right time.

How likely is this second occurrence in the annals of pretty unlikely occurrences?  Could it be right up there with the time I found that ten-dollar bill in the lint trap at my laundromat?  Then, a few weeks later, I opened that lint trap again and found a twenty-dollar bill.  I don’t need to play the lottery.  I play the laundromat.

Last week, there was a penny on the floor.  I left it there for the employees.

Back to my second Google Maps Street View car sighting in less than two weeks,  I was frantically digging my mitt deep my into my satchel in search of my camera while praying to myself:

Me:  Please, please, please catch the light so I can get this shot!

Finally my recent bout of crummy karma lifted, the light turned red, and Mr. Google Maps Street View Car himself, a very nice guy named Ray (I asked him, “What’s your name?”) even acknowledged me.  How cool was that?

Hey Ray!

After I gave him my Lame Adventures card and he realized I was yet another harebrained blogger, the musical cue was probably comparable to the downbeat. If I see him driving around a third time, I’ll probably find myself arrested for stalking before I can ask him any questions about this gig.  Or, maybe he’ll just floor his accelerator and leave me standing in a cloud of Gotham City soot.

Lame Adventure 209: Strange Beer-fellows

This is a public service announcement from Lame Adventures.  Although wine and sake are my alcoholic beverages of choice, I have been drinking much more beer as of late in order to pay my bills and make rent.  Last Thursday I was in Trader Joe’s on the Upper West Side when I noticed they had a brew called KBC Blueberry Wheat Ale.

The six-pack was on sale for $5.99, an even better price than the $14.99 I’ve been paying for a twelve-pack of Heineken.  I was more concerned about this being wheat ale and the thought of getting a raging yeast infection starting in the nether regions and rocketing up to my eyeballs I so irrationally feared the wheat in this beverage.  Then I reasoned that all beer is made with brewer’s yeast, so I told myself, “Relax.”

Oddly for me, my usual high degree of skepticism was completely dormant over what this ale might taste like.  In general I like ale, particularly Bass.  The fruit of choice, the blueberry, is one I like very much, too, particularly fresh blueberries atop the flavor-free organic wood shavings I eat for breakfast every morning at work.  Had the fruit been one I abhor such as the cantaloupe, I would have recoiled considering that as repulsive a flavor in ale as banana or prune.  I was also seduced by the price and reasoned even if it tasted lousy, the more I drank, the less lousy it would taste, reminiscent of Marlene Wackcrunch, a girl I dated in high school who physically brought to mind a platypus, but she was a great kisser, even more so when I was hammered on ale.  I also reasoned if KBC Blueberry Wheat Ale was indeed dreadful, I’d share it with my sidekick, Greg, who has far wider ranging taste in alcohol than I.  In fact, I would not be surprised if he eventually tells me that he’s downed shots of lighter fluid.  Hey, the guy’s a musician.

On Friday, I returned home from work, grabbed my first bottle of KBC Blueberry Wheat Ale, popped open the top, took a swig and nearly projectile spat it across the entirety of my sanctum sanctorum.  I was not mentally prepared for sweet-tasting suds that were so intensely blueberry flavored I thought I had just downed a pint of fresh fruit.  This is truly an ale that would go well with pancakes.  Until that moment, I had never considered pancakes and ale a couple.  Enlightening.  Disgusting.  I immediately grabbed a juice glass and poured a little in to see if this beverage was blue.  It wasn’t.

There was no way I was going to dump this fruit-flavored gag-inducing breakfast beverage concoction on Greg.  He would have truly needed a twelve-pack of Heineken to wash away the blueberry taste.  Over the course of the weekend, I somehow got all six bottles of KBC Blueberry Wheat Ale down thanks to a Secretariat-size dose of anesthesia I had administered to my taste buds.  Upon reflection, I would rate this beverage just a notch above Moviprep, a slimy, salty, lime-ish flavored colon cleanse often prescribed in preparation for a colonoscopy.  Buyer beware.

Lame Adventure 208: Losing Streak

This has not been one of my banner weeks.  Added to my bottomless pit of literary rejections, my screenplay failed to reach the finals in an important writing contest, Coco and I are in the doghouse with each other, and Rob Grill, the lead singer of the Grass Roots, a band that recorded a song I liked very much in my youth, Let’s Live for Today, that I recently downloaded on iTunes for 69 cents while feeling nostalgic, died from a head injury three days ago.  In a perverse way I feel responsible as if my funk is to blame for his demise.  Too bad my funk’s aim was off and it did not veer in the direction of Muammar el-Qaddafi, now that Osama bin Laden is swimming with the fishes.

As an illustration of my patriotism deficiency, I am not the type that’s inclined to eat voraciously when I’m depressed.  I did suffer an uncharacteristic craving for potato chips, a snack I seldom scarf, and I thought, “Hey, why not?”  When I made this impulse purchase I did not invest an iota of thought into the potato chip maker’s brand, Kettles.  As much as I like Kettles’ products, their user-unfriendly bags are designed to never open in a way that allows easy closure.  Their bags have a little notch in the lip at the top that I assume* the end-user is supposed to tear open the bag in this place.

*I make this assumption since Kettles does not include opening instructions with their potato chip bags; something I could sorely use.

Via the notch in the lip, I tore open my bag of Sea Salt flavor potato chips.  Pictured below is the end result, my inability to adequately open a potato chip bag.

Another blow to my self-worth.

It’s only a matter of time, possibly after three more apathetic hand dips, before the mutilated left corner of the bag commits suicide expediting the overall death of the freshness factor of the foil package.  One very American way to avoid quickening the descent into stale is to eat the chips within the bag in their entirety, possibly while kicking back a six pack and watching mindless crap on TV.  After that main course, for dessert, I could epically hate myself, fantasize about sticking my head in a noose, and then calculate if there is a way I can afford primal scream therapy on my scant wages.

As an alternative to increased self-loathing, and resisting the opportunity to grow a third butt-cheek in a single sitting, I’ve decided to travel the Plan B route in sustaining my chips’ freshness factor.

Chip and self-worth-preserving solution.

If anyone from Kettles should read this post, maybe you can reconsider how you seal your bags, unless this notch is an intentional ploy to motivate the consumer to eat your chips faster so we’ll be inclined to purchase more quicker.  Hmm.  I’m onto you Kettles and you don’t want to be infected with my current crummy karma.  Just ask Rob Grill.