Monthly Archives: December 2011

Lame Adventure 265: Realistic Resolutions

Are you like me?  Do you start each New Year with a set of resolutions that you spend the next twelve months failing to keep?  What are we thinking when we vow to drink less, exercise more, or shed thirty, thirteen, or three pounds?  Could we make ourselves climb a mountain that is any higher?

A dozen years into this not so new millennium, I pronounce 2012 the year we divorce ourselves from the tired cliché of New Year’s Resolutions.  Let’s decree 2012 the Year of Realistic Resolutions!  If you are unsure how to proceed with traveling this uncharted course, allow Lame Adventures to be your guide.  Illustrated below are my own resolutions from 2011 as compared with those from 2012:

2011                                                                       2012

1.  Appreciate those with opinions that         1.  Avoid idiots.

differ from your own.

2.  Exercise a minimum of five times a          2.  Quit riding the elevator from

week.                                                                       the second to the first floor.

3.  Eliminate profanity from your                    3.  Substitute asshole for

vocabulary.                                                            motherfucker.

4.  Embrace aging.                                         4.  Dye hair monthly.

5.  Swim twice a week.                                   5.  Drink more water.

6.  Complete writing your opus.                  6.  Invest in a shredder.

7.  Learn a new language.                              7.  Learn proper use of the semicolon.

8.  Run the New York City                              8.  Walk more in Central Park.

Marathon.

9.  Stop cornering Milton into doing                9.  Start cornering Coco into doing

humiliating antics.                                               more humiliating antics.

10.  Be a better person.                                 10.  See number 1.

Lame Adventure 264: Don’t Mind the Nude Guy

JetBlue Snooze Kit

I ventured my way East via the JetBlue red eye out of Oakland, not my preferred flight, but it was at my preferred price: cheap.  The midnight hour flight boarded and took off on time.  The crew was the usual, pleasant and professional.  There were not any whiny toddlers or crying babies.  All was looking great.

I was sitting in the aisle seat.  There was an empty seat between me and the other passenger in my three-seat row.  He was a guy around 30 give or take five years.  His was the window seat.  He was a handsome, buff, well-groomed, coffee color chap with an elaborate sleeve tattoo on at least one of his arms.  I only like men for their minds, so I don’t look that closely at guys.  It’s possible that both of his arms could have been tatted.  He was taking forever to shove his carry-on crap in three of the overhead bins. I found that annoying. He seemed oblivious to blocking the aisle for a million waiting passengers.

Me:  Are you ready to sit down yet?

He sat.

Also, he was reeking of pot, but that doesn’t faze me.  He did have the munchies.  Typical.

As the plane takes off, he keeps grabbing his tee shirt and fanning it like he’s a blast furnace.  I ignore his antics.  After the captain gives the okay to reactivate electronic devices, he plays with his iPad.  He had every iGadget going — the MacBook Air, the iPhone.  It’s late. I’m tired.  The crew shut off the cabin lights so we’re flying in the dark.  I close my eyes.  When I open them I notice that he’s stripped down to just his tighty whities.

I think:  What the hell is this about?

I say nothing.  There are no small fry running around or are there any kids on this flight, but Jesus H. Christ, no way would I exhibit myself on a commercial flight.  I don’t even like my Special Someone to look at me when we get horizontal, upright, sideways, on the ceiling, etc.  So, is Mr. Natural intentionally trying to freak me out because he assumes I’m a demure middle age woman?  Is he blind to my motorcycle boots, the telltale sign that I’m not quite yet the Little Old Lady from Pasadena?  I do what I always do when I encounter some idiot clamoring for attention.

I ignore him.

When the flight attendants hand out snacks and beverages, they can fully see this guy is practically naked.  When one asks him what he wants, Mr. Natural chirps:

Mr. Natural:  Cookies!

I used to eat Cap’n Crunch when I got stoned.  The attendants, three women, act like everything’s cool with this nearly naked guy in our presence.  Do they know something I don’t?  Is he our Air Marshall?  Part of me think that by keeping cool about this situation it might be for the best.  Do I want JetBlue to land the plane in Wyoming to place Mr. Natural under arrest and then I don’t get home until five in the afternoon instead of nine in the morning?  Next, I wonder:

Me:  Am I being punked?

Yet, Ashton Kutcher seems to have other things going on.  I also wonder if Mr. Natural looked like Sydney Greenstreet, would his being nearly nude then be an issue?

Sydney Greetstreet aka "The Fat Man".

After a while, I need to pee.  When I return to my seat, Mr. Natural’s in his clothes again.  Great, this aberrant episode is behind us.  He needs to get up, so he does.  He returns with two fistfuls of more cookies.  I close my eyes and drift off to sleep.  When I open them and stir, I see on my TV screen showing our route that we’re leaving Iowa and entering Illinois.  And, oh yeah, Mr. Natural’s now napping STARK NAKED with his mitts covering the sausage.

Inside my head, I’m screaming:

Me (screaming):  What the fuck is going on here?

I long to take a picture of Mr. Natural for Lame Adventures, but I’m too intimidated.  He’s clearly a gym rat with biceps the size of cantaloupes.  If he hit me he’d probably knock me straight through my seat and through the seats of all the passengers sitting behind me.  Plus, the lighting is too low.  I know I’ll need to use my flash, and that could wake him if he really is asleep.  In addition, this guy is possibly just messing with my head.  What do I do here along side a naked man sitting next to me on a commercial jet?

I resume doing nothing.

Actually, I drift back off to sleep.  When I wake, we’re exiting Pennsylvania, and he’s clothed again.  I’m now wondering if I’ve made this all up in my mind?  My shoulder was hurting before I boarded, and I considered popping an Aleve, but I was concerned that it might make me feel loopy at 35,000 feet in the air.  I’m completely drug-free and I doubt I had any contact high from the pot field Mr. Natural surely smoked before boarding.  Later, when I encounter him again standing several feet away from me at the luggage carousel, he’s staring at me.  Even though I feel his stare, I act like he’s not there.  I get my bag first and split.

When I return home, I share this tale with my buddy Coco.  She’s super straight so I figure if anyone can explain to me what was going on here with Mr. Natural, she’s the source:

Coco: Who gets naked on a plane?!?!?!!! Who strips to their underwear!??!!! How are the stewardess’s ok with this? I have never heard of anything more inappropriate! Gross! Bare ass cheeks on the seat!!!!  Maybe he was a stripper. He obviously smoked some excellent pot because he did not give a rat’s ass about anything …. except for cookies.  This is total LA!!!! That is insane! I am speechless.

I could not have surmised this better myself.

Lame Adventure 263: Out of My Element and Into Nature

As my three faithful readers know, I am the consummate city slicker that thrives on soot, crowds and enclosed spaces. I view the outdoors as anything but great and a surefire way to activate my tree, grass, and fresh air allergies.  My best friend from college, BatPat, is my complete antithesis in this area.  The woman is a walking encyclopedia about birds, trees, flowers, the solar system, etc.  If it’s anti-concrete, glass or steel, BatPat is all over it.  She fishes, cleans it and cooks it.  I eat tuna straight out of the can feral-cat-style.  As opposite as we sound, there’s a glue or maybe it’s the super tankers of pinot noir that we’ve quaffed over thirty years that has kept us close for so long.  When we got together during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, she suggested we take a hike.

Me:  You want me to go on a hike?  Are there escalators?

BatPat:  It’s a flat trail.

I wince, squirm and make monosyllabic sounds in response.

BatPat: You can hear the freeway from the trail.

Me:  Really?  Okay, let’s do it.

BatPat drives us to Rush Creek in Novato (Marin County).

Rush Creek sign

It’s a general open space preserve with very specific dos and don’ts.

Rush Creek dos and don’ts sign.

For example bike riding, horseback riding, and dog walking (with leashed dogs) are all in the do column.  Shooting guns or as they call it, hunting, is in the don’t column along with smoking and lighting fires.  The idea of not getting my head blown off by a trigger-happy descendant of Elmer Fudd has great appeal to me.

As soon as we climb out of the car, a pile of horse crap the size of Delaware greets us.

A real pile of crap.

I suspect that the owner of the horse did not have a back hoe available to shovel the mess into a thirty gallon Hefty bag the way my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law Herb (with a silent h) are forever cleaning up after Thurber, the family dog, with sandwich bags.

“Leave it to you to compare my marble-sized droppings to Trigger’s.”

We proceed down the trail that lies ahead.

Looks flat from here.

I notice a tree that brings to mind the Six Feet Under Tree.

Six Feet Under tree.

Across from the Six Feet Under Tree is a tree that appears to be bending.  It reminds me of when I threw out my lower back something fierce in 2010.

Bad Back tree.

I walked at that angle for about a month.

We see a feather in a pile of oak tree leaves; one of the few feathers that has not found its way into an Alexander McQueen design.

Feather on oak leaves.

We look up into the branches of the tree.

Tree branches.

BatPat:  Wouldn’t you just love to climb that tree?

Me: No.  Not at all.  Never. I’d rather have a colonoscopy.

We see an egret.

Egret hanging out.

BatPat marvels at how it’s one with nature.  She has a bird, Buttafuoco, named by her son, Guinness.  Buttafuoco loves to eat mashed potatoes.  I suspect he’d be one with New York City.

Buttafuoco

As we walk past these branches we hear a bullfrog croaking.

Croaking branches.

We see a few ducks swimming.

Ducks enjoying a swim.

The next night I dine on duck; hopefully not anyone in this couple.

We see two more ducks hanging out on the creek’s bank.

A moment of calm in-between an hour of fidgeting

The duck on the left drove me crazy.  It was constantly fidgeting and scratching.  It took me forever to get this shot.  I hope I ate that one for dinner.

BatPat loved this red plane that flew over us.

Zoom!

It reminded her of a toy.  Between the combination of my snail slow reflexes and snail slow shutter speed this was the best shot I could take.

This crow had a set of pipes on it that were almost worthy of the Metropolitan Opera.

“Figaro!” Not quite.

I say “almost” because although it had power, the tune it was singing, “Caw, caw, caw,” was quite a cacophonous racket.  I think the phrase, “Shut the hell up,” might have been coined in response to its song.

BatPat decided we should climb this grade.

Where’s an escalator when you need one?

Me:  Hey!  That’s not flat!

BatPat:  C’mon, climb it!

Me:  No way!  That’s Mt. Kilimanjaro to me!

BatPat:  You’re taking a picture of this?  Do you want to look like an idiot to the entire Internet?

Me:  Of course I do!  I can’t let down my readership!  Do you think I can get an airlift from a low flying hawk?

I huff and puff my way up trying to not think about how one misplaced foot fall can surely lead to my death … of embarrassment.   Yet, I make it to the top.  Since I don’t have a flag to plant, I take another picture from the reverse angle.

Ugh.

We walk on.  I see another bird giving me another opportunity to get National Geographic.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

We continue down the trail.

More flat trail. Hallelujah!

We encounter a tree stump that irritates BatPat.

Where’a the rest of the tree?

When she last visited a few months earlier, the entire tree had been on the ground.  BatPat had planned on taking a family portrait with her husband, Mick, her son, Guinness and daughter, Hepburn.

BatPat:  Who moved the tree?

Me:  Tree poachers?

She’s relieved that the birdhouse is still in another tree.

Anyone home?

BatPat:  I wonder who lives there?

Me:  Why don’t you toss an acorn at the hole?

BatPat gives me the stink-eye.  We then return to civilization – her house where, appropriately, since we have birds on the brain, we eat turkey for dinner.

Lame Adventure 262: Picture Perfect

Apparently,  my sister, Dovima, has reached her statute of limitations with me constantly photographing, Thurber, the family dog.

"Christmas, is over, am I stuck wearing this red bow until New Year's?"

She has asked me to shoot a Christmas day family portrait of her with Sweet Pea, her daughter/my niece, and Herb (with a silent h), her husband/my bro-in-law.

Mr. & Mrs Smith with The Cookie Maker (yes, that be you, Sweet Pea)

In return, my sister, has taken it upon herself to shoot an action shot of me sitting in-between our pappy and brother, Axel.

Axel worrying about the sodium content of the Christmas dinner for everyone in America.

Lame Adventure 261: Christmas Overload

The Lame Adventures family dog, Thurber, is suffering.  Everything he got squeaks.  In fact, he did not seem like his usual perky self when I suggested:

Me:  Next year I’m gonna get you a squeaking Excedrin, Little Guy!  What do you think of that?

"God in Heaven, please make it stop!"

At Target, my sister found the equivalent of a Harry & David sampler with a squeaking sausage, pear, Swiss cheese, cheesy ball and bag of crunchy cashew nuts.  I gifted him with the purple squeaking duck.

"Hm. This doesn't smell like a pear."

"Hey! This Swiss is squeaking!"

"I'm trying hard to not appear to be suffering mental cruelty."

My niece, Sweet Pea, turned on the TV to the Yule Log.

American classic or why Europe thinks we're idiots.

"This is mesmerizing!"

"You change that channel, I'll bite your paw off!"

Lame Adventure 260: Child Labor

While my sister, Dovima, and I pound Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans by the fistful, her daughter, my niece and heir to my string collection, Sweet Pea, is busy baking all the Christmas cookies.

Excellent!

Gotta say Dovima has raised that kid right!  Sweet Pea is baking snowballs, press cookies and Oreo Truffles.

Snowballs, also called Mexican Wedding cookies or Sandies (a name preferred by our late grandmother, Vesuvius) are my favorite.  Sweet Pea is baking those first.

Cooling sheet of naked snowballs.

Bowl of powdered sugar snowball dressing.

Dressing the balls.

Unwelcome intruder.

Snowballs!

After baking the snowballs Sweet Pea moves onto another holiday hit, press cookies in the shape of Christmas trees.

Pressing away!

Pre-launch press cookies.

With the leftover dough Sweet Pea makes three freak-shaped cookies – one each for her mother, father and aunt, which we eat while watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the multiplex.

Freak cookies. Yum!

Company cookies.

A few words about the film; we liked it very much, but everyone spoke English with a Swedish-y accent.  This reminded me of films made back in the day when the bad guys whether they be German spies or Japanese military men always spoke English to each other with accents, probably because Hollywood has issues with subtitles.  Our real problem with the accents is that our three sets of middle age ears each missed portions of the dialogue.  Dovima is still banging her head against the kitchen counter since she entirely missed the twist at the end The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo resolving the mystery with Christopher Plummer’s granddaughter.  My sister’s new mantra is:

Dovima:  Idiot!

My brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), and I have tried to assure her that she’s not an idiot, just pretty deaf.  Herb even went so far as to claim:

Herb:  Honey, there were times during the movie when I wanted to stand in front of the screen with a hearing horn!

His attempt at delivering a comforting lament fell on deaf ears.

Overall, this film is a very entertaining thriller and probably even better if heard in its entirety.

Back to cookies, after baking the press cookies, Sweet Pea made some Pillsbury slice and bake for a friend of hers.

Not bad.

Product placement shot like Coca Cola and Marlboro cigarettes in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Dovima and I, the official tasters, tried a few of those.  Surprisingly, they were pretty good.

Dovima:  What do you think’s the center stuff that makes them taste so good?

Me: Probably a lot of hydrogenated fat.

Then, Sweet Pea made her own favorites, Oreo Truffles.  Just smash a package of Oreos to smithereens, mix in a brick of cream cheese and refrigerate for two hours or freeze for 45 minutes.

Pulverizing Oreos.

Mixing cream cheese with Oreos.

Truffles ready for chilling.

Thurber keeping his distance.

Outside cat taunting Thurber, "Hey Big Dumb Wuss!"

Highly not recommended for the lactose intolerant set.

Lame Adventure 259: By Request, How I Wrap Gifts

In a one-word answer: poorly.

My blogger buddy, Kathy, who is the Martha Stewart of Tennessee, has been egging me on to reveal my gift-wrapping style.  She anticipates a good chuckle at the expense of my incompetence in this department.  I hope I deliver.

On Tuesday, my unwrapped gifts and I exited my comfort zone, the soot coated Apple, to head out to the San Francisco Bay Area to spend Christmas with my family.  As I do every year, I am spreading my special brand of sour to my sister, Dovima, niece, Sweet Pea, and brother-in-law, Herb (pronounced with a silent h).

Since my finances have been in freefall for the third year in a row and showing zero sign of reversing, thanks to having a get rich slow job at Cheapskates R Us, it has been years since I have given anyone of either my nearest (my East Coast posse) or farthest (my family and best friend from college, BatPat) a gift they rate.  Fortunately, I am the intrepid-type, so I do try to at least give everyone that matters a gift that reflects some degree of thought.  Yet, I arrived suffering a mini-crisis for I completely forgot about getting anything for Thurber, the family dog!

"How could you forget me?"

This is the first year I’ve ever forgotten the hound. I felt terribly turdish.  On Wednesday, I raced out to Target with Sweet Pea and Dovima to get him something he can chew on.  I was leaning toward a squeaky chicken but Sweet Pea thought this purple mallard went better with Thurber’s fur color.

Quack.

I was drawn to the duck’s soulful expression, the same sultry look I’ve been known to give my special someone, Yakking Gadfly.  The clerk at Target, a guy about my own age – over 40, under death – eyed me and eyed Thurber’s duck.

Me (screaming inside my head):  What?!

I withheld my inner irate New Yorker and silently shelled out five clams for the duck.

Target Clerk (snarky):  Happy Holidays to you and your duck.

Then, he quacked.  I bring out the best in everyone …

Onto my wrap-style, but not with Thurber’s duck, but with my brother, Axel’s, original gift I literally spent hours researching.

Danny Shanahan New Yorker Magazine tee shirt.

This New Yorker tee shirt happens to now be a collector’s item!

Lame Adventures Readership (en masse; all three of you):  Why?

Apparently, The New Yorker is no longer producing mugs or tee shirts with any cartoon of a reader’s choice.  I’m outraged!   Had I known this, I also would have pounced on getting a few Michael Maslin cartoons on tee shirts.  Check out his wonderful web site here.  Now that these tee shirts are such rarities, I am sure I will score even more points with my brother, not that I think this will ever top the toaster-radio that scored such a hit with Axel ten years ago.

How to wrap a New Yorker tee shirt without a box:

Swipe a roll of your sister's gridded wrapping paper.

Cut gridded wrap with your pen lying on top so you do not misplace your pen again.

Place tee shirt on gridded wrap.

Fold tee shirt.

Fold wrap left.

Fold wrap right.

Accidentally photograph dart board on wall.

Accidentally photograph stars on wall above dart board.

While holding camera strap in teeth trim wrap.

Yes, that is drool on wrap from holding camera strap in teeth.

Wrapping finally cut to correct size.

Spend ten minutes looking for tape.

Tape sitting atop tags where it had been all along.

Taped wrapping.

Tagged wrapping.

Select blue ribbon in recognition of many Jewish friends that loathe this time of year.

Spend fifteen minutes struggling to unpeel backing from bow.

Peeled bow.

Voila!

Take a two hour nap.

Qaulification to enter Recycling Hall of Shame.

Lame Adventure 258: Let’s Discuss Holiday Cards

Due to my growing like kudzu contempt for the US Postal Service for their consistently crummy delivery of my favorite magazine, The New Yorker, I had decided that 2011 was the year I was going to join the legions of former holiday card givers and end my tradition of sending holiday cards out of spite.  I briefly considered e-blasting Jib Jab e-cards but I decided against that since most of us are already inundated with too much crap on the web.  Luckily for the US Postal Service, my dear friend, Milton, talked me into sending holiday cards this year.  He is right; recipients like to receive hand written paper cards, but considering that he was sending sixty, I’d be inclined to sign my name with a rubber stamp.

Around Thanksgiving I embarked on my annual search for the appropriate card in questionable taste.  Milton feels very strongly about sending traditional holiday cards.  Pictured below is his elegant greeting of the season that he found in his favorite card store, Papyrus.

A holiday card dripping with elegance, taste and a ton of glitter. The crease comes courtesy of my letter carrier, Alice Sneer.

Milton sent sixty of these beauties and in each he hand wrote a personal note.  In mine he composed this heartwarming sonnet: “Have a truly cynical Xmas!”

When I opened it half a pound of glitter fell out and I anticipate I’ll be seeing shiny stuff sparkling in my humble abode well into 2012.  That’s cool with me.  I much prefer it to the large economy size jar of 183,217 popcorn kernels that I spilled in my sanctum sanctorum’s kitchen 28 years ago.  I’m still finding those kernels through today which is amazing since I even had my kitchen floor replaced.

Traditional holiday card tied with swatch of real ribbon from my best friend from college, BatPat.

There used to be a hole-in-the-wall greeting card/gay male novelties shop on Christopher Street I frequented for all of my greeting cards called Alternate Cards.  The guys that ran the place were very quiet men of South Asian decent.  Forgive me for being so narrow-minded, but they did not strike me as the type of chaps that reveled in selling penis-shaped pasta or cards captioned, “My left leg is Christmas.  My right leg is New Year’s.  Come up and see between the holidays.”  Yet, this shop was the best source for off-the-beaten-path holiday cards in New York.  Unfortunately, they suddenly shuttered about three years ago.  I don’t know if it was for the usual reason terrific businesses cease to exist — their rent was raised obscenely high, or if they were actually a front for al-Qaeda.  I do know that I miss them terribly.

Card from my boss, Elsbeth, with note on the back, "This Card was Printed Letterpress by Hand on a 100-Year-Old Chandler & Price Platen Press." Excluded note, "This card was not purchased at WalMart."

Then I realized I could send holiday cards based on cartoons that were published in The New Yorker.  I decided I would do this forever, but forever ended this year when production of tee shirts, mugs, and greeting cards featuring New Yorker cartoons ceased.  That was another devastating loss.

Adorable card from my sister, Dovima, that instantly triggered my cat allergies.

Last summer, the fine folks at Café Press gave me a sweet deal on their Stranger’s Day cards by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.  I decided that they would be my new go-to source for holiday cards, but there was one barrier to this brainstorm.  Most of their cards were “eh” at best, and the few I liked said, “Merry Christmas” inside. I have several Jewish and atheist friends so that was a no go.

Hand-selected just for me card from my friend Martini Max.

Many of the funniest holiday greeting cards I’ve sent through the years were published by Noble Works, but I was at a complete loss as to where to find their cards.  I Google searched them and within a nanosecond discovered that they’re based in New Jersey, they have a vast library of a variety of greeting cards available online, I could buy my holiday cards directly from them tax-free, and if I needed any further incentive to hit my enter key, they were including free shipping, too.  As much as I would like to say that Noble Works online is my new go-to source for holiday cards, I have learned the hard way that this type of completely satisfied customer thinking invites a curse.  Therefore, I will offer my endorsement of Noble Works – and hope that this company outlives me.

My 2011 questionable taste holiday card:

What is not widely known is that this wabbit is a direct descendant of Bugs Bunny.

Lame Adventure 257: ‘Tis the Season for Anger Management

So I was in my market, the original Fairway on the Upper West Side, patiently waiting my turn at the deli counter.  My number, 83, is called by a deli worker; a woman that’s so short she might have been a circus midget in her previous job or a previous life, but I would never hold lack of height against anyone.  Hey, I’m short, too.  I tell her I would like one third of a pound of the roast pork loin.

She doesn’t know what that is.

I can see it but it’s on the far side of the glass cases.  It’s the weekend so the deli counter is a mob scene.  In addition, I’m standing near a meticulously made-up wisp of an elderly woman swimming in a giant fur coat that some guy probably gave her in 1950 when she was a knockout.  My buddy, Coco, who is rather petite and a knockout 2011-style could be this person in sixty years.

Christmas decoration to me from Coco.

This elderly woman also has a shopping cart blocking the entire lane.  It holds a single head of lettuce.  As I try to maneuver around her, her cart and a crowd of fellow shoppers, to point out the pork loin to the clerk, the elderly lady starts moving her cart at a snail’s pace blocking me further.  I make an effort to get out of her way.

Meanwhile, Angry Man, a guy about my age – over forty and under death — and coincidentally the winner of the Paulie Walnuts You’re Gonna Die and I Mean You award, won’t move an inch to let the old lady pass.  Now I have to move around him, her, and her shopping cart to show my pint-sized clueless clerk what’s the roast pork loin.  As I’m making my way around these three obstacles, she, equipped with half the strength of a newborn hamster, brushes him from behind with her cart.  This slight contact packs as much power as an infant’s fart.

Christmas decoration to me from Coco.

When I get to the side of the counter where I can finally point out the roast pork loin to my baffled clerk who’s so short I cannot even see the top of her head behind the glass case so I’m not even sure she’s standing there, Angry Man starts shouting threats.  It takes me a while to realize that he’s directing his tirade at me, prompting me to ask:

Me:  What?

Angry Man (screaming):  You shoved me!  Now it’s my turn to shove you and believe me, you’re not gonna like it!

He steps towards me ready to commit assault.  I step back.

Me (incredulous):  Huh?  Why do you want to shove me?

Angry Man (insistent):  You know what you did!  You’re rude!  You shoved me!

I know that there’s no point telling him that it was Miss Subway 1942 that was the culprit since she is also half-blind, long gone and he wouldn’t step aside to let her pass.  I decide to just pretend that I’m guilty of the offense to placate him.

Me:  I’m sorry, Sir, I wasn’t aware that I shoved you, but since I did, I apologize.

Angry Man (obsessed):  You shoved me!

Me:  Look at me, I’m tiny, I would certainly never intentionally shove anyone, much less a guy your size.

He’s at least a foot taller than me and 75 pounds heavier.   That frazzles him, so he pipes down.  Then, out of the blue, Miss Buttinsky, just the type that Coco would call – but not in these exact words, a “vagina-bag” standing next to Angry Man — and they weren’t together , volunteers her two cents:

Miss Buttinsky:  You shoved him and you know it!  You can’t get out of this by acting innocent now!

I instantly think:

Me (thinking):  Who the [sexual intercourse] are you?

Miss Buttinsky clearly wants to see blood and preferably, mine.  Her spouting off reinvigorates Angry Man.

Meanwhile my miniature clerk is now also yelling at me wanting to know if she’s holding the right deli meat.  I say:

Me:  Yes, one third of a pound please.

Angry Man is screaming at me again, the same nonsense about me being rude:

Angry Man:  I’m gonna make a fist and make you pay!

I think:

Me (thinking):  Pay for a blow job and relax!

I say:

Me:  That’s not necessary to threaten to assault me.  I’ve apologized.  It certainly wasn’t intentional.  Look around, this store is crowded.

I gesture around us at the mass of humanity and I stifle the need to murmur a scatological term meaning excrement knowing full well that I’m surrounded by enemies I never knew I had.

Angry Man again defuses.

Miss Buttinsky (self-righteous even though she did not see anything that happened involving either the now long gone elderly lady or me):  You should have said ‘excuse me’ to him!

I suddenly regret my life-long loathing of the NRA.  If I owned a pistol, I easily could have whipped her on the spot.  I choose to say nothing further and continue to completely ignore her.  Angry Man starts whining about me to another customer.  The tiniest clerk on the planet then gives me one quarter of a pound of deli meat even though I repeatedly requested a third.  I just take it and split feeling lucky to be alive and less mentally ill than my fellow customers.  I head over to the bakery hoping that Santa gifts my deli-peers anger management courses as stocking stuffers.

Since I’m on a downhill slide, I again encounter that elderly lady, who I have now decided is my own personal jinx.  In a plastic bag, I put both a sandwich roll and a sour dough roll, but I am oblivious to the bag being defective.  It has a hole.  My sour dough roll slips through and falls on the floor, but I don’t notice this.  I feel lucky that Miss Buttinsky and Angry Man did not witness this.  Surely, she would have tried to have me arrested for vandalizing the store and if this case would come to trial, both would vote in favor of execution.

I return home and hide beneath my bed for the remainder of the day.

Poster illustrating the few calm people that shop at Fairway.

Lame Adventure 256: Holiday Tales in Manhattan

Normally I dedicate my weekends to my top three career pursuits — power sleeping, beverage guzzling, and overall aimlessness, but this past weekend the forecast called for clear skies and perfect late autumn temperatures in the forties and fifties – excellent weather for shooting pictures here in the Big Apple.  The perfect pictures to take?  The window dressing decorations courtesy of the major department stores that put on a show every holiday season — Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s and whoever else has an interesting display to share with the fawning masses.

Forty-five minutes after the alarm kicked me in the head at seven thirty on Sunday morning, I was riding the downtown express train to Herald Square.  Even though Macy’s does not open until nine, crowds were already gathering outside the entrance to Santaland and the Puppet Theatre.

Beating the rush.

I suspect that New York Times’ top theater critic Ben Brantley will resist reviewing that show.  Macy’s theme this year, as it has been for a while, is Believe.

In case anyone misses it, Macy's has Believe plastered on the side of their flagship store.

Macy's Believe meter. Macy's believes. Seriously.

All this believing initially activated my gag reflex, but I quickly ascertained that this believing goes back to the Virginia O’Hanlon story – the tale about the quizzical girl writing the reporter to ask if there is a Santa Claus.  I am certain that any woman named Virginia must so wish that girl had been named Lucinda or Adelaide or Hiawatha instead.  I imagine that it must get head-banging-into- the-wall-excruciating having to constantly hear “Yes Virginia …” throughout one’s life … if I were cursed with the name Virginia.

Macy's "Yes Virginia" window display.

Macy’s also managed to tie in Jessica Simpson and Martha Stewart with their other windows illustrating the secret behind how ornaments are made.

Macy's animated Jessica Simpson ornament display.

In Martha’s window, I did not notice any mention of Teflon being a key ingredient as I considered her felonious past.

Macy's elaborate ornament ingredients display.

Overall, Macy’s delivered.  I give their windows a solid B for jaded adults and an A+ for the people that count most, the small fry.

I hightailed over to Fifth Avenue where Lord & Taylor’s flagship store is located between West 38th and West 39th Streets.  I arrived before the stampede, but this character clad for the season was clearly captivated.

"I love this so much I wish I had thumbs!"

Lord & Taylor is another department store with displays that aim to delight the kids and possibly inadvertently, the critters.  Everything looked like a dollhouse on steroids to me, but if I were decades younger or walked on all fours, it would probably rock my world.

The Cadillac of dollhouses.

Dolls skiing.

Gingerbread house.

Winter wonderland with Santa scene.

I’ve also always been a sucker for micro-sized Etch-a-Sketches and was pleased to zoom in on this one.

Scaled down perfection.

Another deft Lord & Taylor touch is that they have framed holiday drawings by children plastered all over their displays. Even though you see one kid drawing, you’ve essentially seen them all, if I were a youngster, I’d be thrilled to have my artwork on display on Fifth Avenue.

Six-year-old Kristen's masterpiece.

Artwork by kids.

For that alone I rate Lord & Taylor an overall A+.

I pounded the pavement up Fifth to Saks Fifth Avenue’s display that gives a cursory nod to the kiddies with an animated mannequin riding a bicycle through each window featuring couture fashion.

Together at last - animated mannequin riding bicycle and an Oscar de la Renta gown.

I thought their display’s mechanical theme was rather perverse.  Saks clearly has an eye on more sophisticated girls and boys.  It’s also where my hardcore fashionista buddy, Coco, shops.  She recently revealed to me that she was invited to the opening day of this display.

Me (pouncing):  You were invited to the opening day of a window display like it’s an exhibit at the Met?  What the hell is that about? It’s a department store!

Coco (defensive): I didn’t go!

Unlike Coco, I did go, but unfortunately the glare bouncing off the picture windows limited the number of pictures I can share.

Ackerman design with wheel in well-thing.

Stella McCartney design on mannequin on scale. Huh?

Olivier Theyskens design on another mechanical mannequin that turned wheel that did who-knows-what.

Overall, they scored a B with me, good, but not mind-blowing.  The fashion on display deserved better.

Lots of Old Glory flying outside Rockefeller Center.

I crossed the street and visited Rockefeller Center.

Angel Gabriel blowing his horn in Rockefeller Center.

Do the tens of thousands that visit Rockefeller Center know this?

As usual, they pull out all the stops on the tree and it sparkles even in daylight.

This tree is much more impressive in person.

As I inched my way up to the skating rink, the ice from below made me feel like I was standing in a freezer.  That got old quickly, especially as I consider that is how the air will feel on a daily basis for months on end soon enough.

Rockefeller Center drummer boy not hitting anyone in the head.

Rockefeller Center flags blowing in breeze over skating rink.

I resumed walking up Fifth Avenue; stopping to annoy a chocolatier at Godiva who I am certain would have loved to smack me with a spatula.

Dipping strawberries in chocolate.

Yum!

Once I lift my camera and start taking photographs, this prompts others to take notice and start snapping shots.   I have determined that picture taking is definitely an STD – a socially transmitted disease.

Next, I passed Henri Bendel, an eclectic department store I used to shop at regularly when I was fit and made an effort with my appearance.

Apparently the holidays means Rockettes Season at Bendel's.

Bendel's Rockette tribute continued.

As I glanced at my reflection and shuddered, it dawned on me that I probably have not set a toe in there in twenty years.

Towerless Trump Tower shooting stars at ground level.

Other pictures I shot in the area included Trump Tower shooting stars, and Fendi’s odd belt buckle celebration of the season.

Fendi's buckled building.

Maybe this is a subliminal message to shoppers to loosen up?

Then, there are the monuments to expensive jewelry that Marilyn Monroe memorably sang about in Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend from Gentlemen Prefer Blonds:

Tiffany’s!

Cartier!

Black Starr!

Frost Gorm!

Talk to me Harry Winston.

Tell me all about it!

Tiffany's

Tiffany's merry-go-round-themed window.

Cartier - show her you love her, give her the entire store wrapped in red ribbon!

Harry Winston's advice, "Get that ice or else no dice!"

Finally I reached 58th Street and Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and this year’s version of (to get Moulin Rouge! here) their Spectacular, Spectacular.

Bergdorf Goodman - the Louvre of holiday window dressing displays.

If there is only one set of holiday display windows to see in New York City, I suggest flipping a coin between Barney’s and Bergdorf’s but this year, Bergdorf’s is in a league of their own — miles ahead of the rest of the pack and that includes Barney’s.  Bergdorf’s theme is Carnival of the Animals.  Couture fashion combined with antiques and exquisite set design worthy of a Tony award.  Bergdorf’s windows are opulent, elegant, imaginative and simply breathtaking – across the board A+; must-see I Love New York-style extravaganza.  These pictures are anemic offerings.

Breaking the Ice.

Detail of Breaking the Ice animals. Note the leather muzzles.

Testing the Waters - Alexander McQueen display.

Detail of McQueen design, a genius with feathers.

Paper zebra.

Literally, this zebra's head is constructed out of paper.

Super paper-trained dog made from paper.

Snowbirds posing.

As I headed east to Barney’s on Madison Avenue at 61st Street, I was still feeling high from Bergdorf’s production, but I could hear the Lady Gaga music and I was again feeling excited.  I knew Barney’s had recently opened Gaga’s Workshop, but I didn’t realize that it would consume every display window.

The Gaga Machine.

Gaga's Crystal Cave.

Gaga's Boudoir.

I did not find it particularly holiday-themed and thought it could have worked just as well in March or July.  It was imaginative and I do find her entertaining, but I was not knocked out.  It would have been very disturbing to me when I was a small fry.  I am sure I would have been haunted until age thirty by the naked hair-covered version of her lying on a hairy chaise.

If this would not have terrified me as a child, the hair surely would have activated my allergies.

Still, overall, I’d rate it A-.

Following Barney’s I walked further east to Bloomingdale’s.  Their display is kid-proof, but when compared to this year’s family-friendly titans, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor, rather dull.

Good Deeds.

Penguins <yawn>

Santa and Reindeer boxed in.

Santa and Reindeer unboxed.

One novel aspect of Bloomingdale’s is an interactive component where you hit a button and a camera takes a photograph of you that appears on their Facebook page.  Personally, I think I’d rather appear on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, but that’s just me.  Bloomie’s rating B.

Although by now I was developing blisters on my left foot that were about the size of Donner and Blitzen, I continued with my hike in the hope I might see other sites worth sharing here.  It came as no surprise that Bergdorf Goodman’s men store offered more novel displays.

Santa Squirrel bearing gifts!

Reality Squirrel munching acorn near festive red bottle cap.

Athletic display of wolf making nice with penguins.

Talented display of cardinal in Alexander McQueen jacket.

As I walked west on Central Park South, I encountered the Columbus Circle Holiday Market.

Get. Stuff. Here.

How about puppets that look like Muppets?

Call it what it is, Material Things.

Surely, Santa was somewhere in this candy cane colored shopping megalopolis, if you had the mental fortitude I lacked to make your way through the maze of stands and the dense crowds.

Santa - nowhere to be found in here!

If there was a sign giving directions to Santa, I missed it.

The hour was approaching eleven thirty and I did not feel like walking over to Broadway to catch a bus or subway to my Upper West Side abode, but I was also too cheap to spring for a taxi. Therefore, I just continued to hoof my way up Central Park West with visions of liquefied juniper berries dancing in my head.  A few blocks north of the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, I noticed these feet.

Hmm ...

Then, I looked up at the owner of those feet, a very familiar cheery looking guy sitting on a park bench.  I thought I might be hallucinating.  To see if he was real, I approached him.

Me:  May I photograph you for my blog?

Very Familiar Looking Cheery Guy:  Sure.

Me:  Um … What’s your name?

Very Familiar Looking Cheery Guy:  Let’s not go there.

Me:  Can I call you Nick?

Nick:  Sure.

I took his picture.

"Nick"

Yes Lucinda, Adelaide, Hiawatha, and even you, Virginia, there is a … “Nick”.