Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lame Adventure 273: “Says Who!”

The other morning at The Grind, I was passionately bellowing to my colleagues, my sidekick, Greg, and (not) Under Ling (anymore):

Me:  Never trust a woman that can pee standing up!

Although I now completely draw a blank about what we were discussing that I was so vehemently compelled to deliver that particular declaration at the top of my lungs, I clearly recall that at that very moment of me babbling, our boss, Elsbeth, entered.  I was instantly motivated to hit my mute button and change the subject to floor and wall tile, my specialty in her employ.

Before my Lord and Master’s presence pulled the plug on the lively conversation with the Gang of Two (note: our beloved colleagues, The Quiet Man, moved on last fall, and my buddy, Ling, received her Get Out of Jail Free card last Friday), (not) Under Ling (anymore) casually mentioned that she had read in the New York Daily News that tourists rank New York as the Number One city in rudeness.

This detonated Greg and I.  We trampled each other coming to Gotham City’s defense.  I concur with Greg’s blanket assessment:

Greg:  New Yorkers aren’t rude!  They’re aggressive!

And sometimes, first thing in the morning, just too damn loud.

My next career move, gluing sticky notes onto miniature wooden pallets.

Lame Adventure 272: The White Stuff’s Back

It last snowed in The Big Apple in 2011 on October 29th when a freak Nor’easter shattered October snow records dumping close to three inches of snow in Central Park.  I have resided in New York for almost 30 years and have never once experienced snow in October.  I was a bit miffed at the timing of that autumn snowfall because my old snow boots had sprung leaks from the previous hard winter.  Loathing boots that produce wet socks, I ordered replacement snow boots from the Lands’ End Ugly Style Great Price Collection on October 21st.

New snow boots. Ugly style. Great price.

I figured that was easily a month before I could possibly need them.  My new boots had shipped October 24th but I did not receive them until two days after that storm on October 31st.  Happy Halloween to me.

Fast forward to the present when I can finally wear my new Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boots.  I break them in when I drop a lit match on my kitchen floor and I stomp it out with my left boot.  The match is swallowed whole into the deep grooves of the boot.  Fearing that very soon my left foot will ignite, I risk an expensive neck injury and contort myself Cirque du Soleil-style to examine the boot’s grooves for signs of flame, or at least signs of the expired match.  There’s no sign of fire or any match detritus whatsoever.  I think:

Me:  Well, that’s odd.

Apparently my new Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boots have some appetite, or else my foot could spontaneously burst fully into flames and then cough up the remains of that missing match.  I’ll keep you posted.

Foot in Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boot with power to devour lit matches whole.

Since there’s nothing unusual about snow in January in New York City I venture outdoors to check out the action in Riverside Park.

Currier and Ives-y looking southern entrance to Riverside Park.

Eleanor Roosevelt statue wearing a shawl of snow as well as an insulting splat in the eye.

I imagine that kids that had been aching for an opportunity to go sledding down the park’s hills all winter are now in their bliss, but I notice this sign.

Shirley, you jest!

Upper West Side kids and their parents are clearly undaunted.

"We will not be denied!"

As I trek through my neighborhood I see more familiar sights of the season.

Unhappy Vespa, "Someone please tell my owner it's winter!"

Unhappier bike, "Why the hell can't you take the rest of me inside?"

Uncollected trash, "If bags had middle fingers we'd flash them at that annoying blogger-photographer in those Ugly Style Great Price Collection snow boots."

Lame Adventure 271: Mood Altering Substance

Thus far, this has been an irritating week commute-wise.  Although it is part of my charm to come into work twenty minutes late every morning, this week I have had extra assistance in the Department of Tardiness from the MTA due to signal problems plaguing the downtown 2 and 3 express subway trains.  Usually, I hop onto the express train at 72nd Street, and ride it to 14th Street where I transfer to a waiting 1 local to take me the rest of the way to The Grind.  Yet, this week, every time I have done my trademark hop onto the express, it’s been crawling like a constipated snail from one stop to the next.  It has been moving so anemically, local trains that arrived after I boarded the express have not only passed my train like it was standing still – and indeed my train had been standing still, but my moving-in-inches express train failed to catch up to the local trains that have bypassed my train.

This activates my ire as well as my gastritis.  Logically, I know it would benefit my overall health and well-being if I were not inclined to not “sweat the small stuff” .   It would also behoove me  to make a genuine effort to leave earlier, but I don’t have a choice in this matter.  If I recall correctly, my astrological sign is Disgruntled.

Furthermore, on Terrible Tuesday, as my practically paralyzed express train was doing the equivalent of Tai Chi moves from one station to the next, it dawned on me that in my haste to get out the door, I forgot to bring the quart of skim milk I pour on the bowl of organic, lightly sweetened tree bark-flavored cereal I had planned to eat at my desk.  Inside my head, I used the Lord’s name in vain — such a convenient time to be an atheist.

When I finally arrived at my place of employ, We’re Not Happy Until You’re Unhappy, a full half hour late, the first person I encounter is my musician sidekick, Greg. He’s looking cheerful.  I announce:

Me:  Signal problems!

Greg:  Sure, that’s what they all say.

I growl at him.

Greg:  I got you something.

Me:  I hope it’s a quart of watery skim milk!

I approach my desk and see this welcome sight.

Herbal essence?

My foul mood instantly evaporates.  Greg is looking at me, smiling slyly.

Greg:  You know, it’s that tea I told you about last week, Assam Hazelbank.

Me:  Oh, yes, that tea … my second guess!

Lame Adventure 270: That’s the Way the Cork Crumbles

I had recently discovered buried deep in my cupboard a bottle of 1996 Celebrity Cellars Bob Dylan Collector’s Edition One Reserve red table wine from Manteca, California.  This wine was given to me at holiday-time in 2000 by my former network news armpit division supervisor, the multi-talented Zimmerman.  Zimmerman’s multi-talents were two-fold – his head was a vast storehouse of knowledge of all things Bob Dylan and he was also a walking encyclopedia about the TV series, The Odd Couple.  He knew every word of every episode by heart and could recite each episode upon request.  Zimmerman was truly the Laurence Olivier of the junk food TV of my youth.  I will always remember him both fondly and ridiculously.

The Dylan vino, horribly photographed.

I held off drinking it for I recalled Zimmerman’s advice:

Zimmerman: Don’t drink it right away.

I am sure that Zimmerman did not intend that I should hold off drinking it for almost twelve years and spend the vast majority of those years completely forgetting about it.  He also gifted my former colleague and dear friend, Martini Max, with a bottle.  While sharing beverages with Max at the Emerald Inn, our favorite Upper West Side no-nonsense watering hole, I asked Max if he could recall what he did with his bottle.

Me:  Max, did you take Zimmerman’s advice and hold off drinking it?

Max:  I probably quaffed it in one sitting as soon as I got home.

Me:  I researched it online and discovered that it’s now worth $149.56.

Max winced as if he got hit in the head with an oak barrel.  Later, I called Coco.

Me:  Hey Coke, it seems like I’ve had a $150 bottle of wine sitting in my cupboard for almost a dozen years.  Do you think it’s any good?

Coco:  There’s only one way to find out!

That weekend we decided to guzzle this possible nectar of the Gods.  I hightailed downtown to Coco’s lair.  She had a backup bottle of Wyatt Pinot Noir on hand just in case our nectar tasted more akin to swill.

2009 Wyatt aka backup reserve.

Pictured below are the results of our taste test.

Whenever you chow at Coco's, you chow in style.

Holiday wrapped!

Holy crap, is that cork?

"Yes, it's cork. Nurse, hand me the knife."

"Let's try the old coffee filter trick."

"At this rate we'll have a glass by next Christmas."

"Maybe the flour sifter is a better way to go?"

"Much better way to go!"

First glass about to go down the hatch!

"This tastes like ammonia! Is my tongue stained?"

"Are you sure this is meant for tongue stains and when did you drink ammonia -- high school or NYUseless?"

Wyatt to the rescue!

Obedient Wyatt cork.

Happy Coco guzzling Wyatt!

I would like to conclude with two observations.  I recently discovered that a bottle of this Bob Dylan wine that was removed “from a temperature and humidity controlled wine cellar” unlike my cupboard that was completely lacking both temperature and humidity control over the past twelve years — sold at auction on January 12th of this year for $5.  The second observation is that Coco, even after an hour of floor scrubbing and vacuuming is continuing to step on pieces of cork.

The cork bits that refuse to leave until they're all completely embedded in Coco's foot.

Lame Adventure 269: George was Here

I am kicking off my three-day holiday weekend after work with my friend, Albee.  When I last saw him in December, we dined at a Spanish restaurant in Greenwich Village called Café Espanol.  The fare is simple,  home-style grub.  We decided to pass on ordering the house red and popped an extra seven bucks for a Tempranillo that the waiter suggested.  We also liked the wine’s name and label – Tempra Tantrum.

Ole!

After we paid, the waiter returned with our change which included a Where’s George? dollar bill.

Dollar bill with Where's George? stamps.

For those unfamiliar with Where’s George?, it’s a geek web site that tracks currency.  The site has been investigated by the US Secret Service because they used to sell rubber stamps and it’s illegal to deface currency.  The Secret Service informed Hank Eskin, who started the site in 1998, that the stamps are considered advertising.   That motivated him to  stop selling them, the Secret Service got off his back, and the site continues.

A not too big big deal to the Secret Service.

More Where’s George? trivia is that users are considered Georgers.  Apparently, unstamped currency may also be registered on the site.  These unstamped bills  are known as stealths in George-speak.  I imagine the vast majority of stamped or stealth Where’s George? currency has been entered by procrastinating students or glazed-eye types that work soul-sucking, get rich poor quick  office grinds.  Hm, what must that be like?  I don’t think anyone would take a pause during foreplay and suggest this buzz-kill:

Foreplay Pauser:  Hey, what do you say, let’s climb off each other and track all the cash in our wallets now?

I had encountered another Where’s George? single a few years ago shortly before visiting my niece, Sweet Pea, in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I thought that Sweet Pea might like to go online and track the bill.  She found that idea about as enticing as watching grass grow, but still wanted the bill.  Since I have such a winning way with children, I vaguely recall barking:

Me:  If we don’t track it, you’re not going to inherit it!

Although I was carrying my current Where’s George? dollar in my wallet (tucked in a side pocket) during my most recent visit West, I completely forgot about it since I’m infected with the same sky-size hole in my memory as my boss, Elsbeth, who recently asked me:

Elsbeth:  What day is it?

Me:  Thursday.

Elsbeth:  I meant to look at my calendar, but I forgot.

Me:  That’s why you have me.  [pause] What were we talking about, Boss?

Well stamped single.

According to Wikipedia, “As of December 19, 2011, Where’s George? is tracking 200,768,040 bills totaling $1,081,902,862.”

I looked at my bill and wondered where it might have been, so I went online to check it out.  First, I looked at some of the top 20 traveled bills.  One bill has traveled 24,000 miles since its initial entry in Newport, Vermont in November 2008.  I wondered:

Me:  Huh.  Will my bill top that?

Off to a snail slow start.

My Where’s George? bill was entered in Scarsdale, New York in November 2011.  Thus far, it’s traveled 17 miles to reach me.  Clearly, this Lame Adventures single has exited the starting gate at a crawl.

Lame Adventure 268: I Blame Life

From when I was a youngster until I was well into my forties, I loved Life cereal.  It was the right balance of sweet and bland – just like my winning personality (on a good day).  Then, three years ago this month The Big Negative happened.  My employer, Get Rich Never, slashed my wages by 20%. That pay cut, which spreads wider every year like the proliferation of middle age flab, was a wake-up call to me to eat healthier.

Ever since my salary entered freefall I do my best to steer clear of processed food and that includes my beloved Life cereal. Life contains two yellow food dyes # 5 and #6 and the additive, BHT — butylated hydroxytoluene.

The facts of Life.

According to Wikipedia, BHT is “a lipophilic (fat-soluble) organic compound that is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil and [my personal favorite] embalming fluid.”

Wow, talk about an appetite suppressant!

I make a conscious effort to only eat cereals that are organic and produced without preservatives.

Twigs, Flakes, Clusters and (they forgot to mention) No Flavor!

That same Wikipedia article about BHT cautions, “Some foods labeled as “no preservatives” or “no preservatives added” actually contain BHT that was present in the ingredients used to make the product but which does not require disclosure on the label.”

Huh, sneaky.

I had reasoned that eating better is one way to avoid having to see a doctor. Ironically, eight months into the horror of The Big Negative when I had assumed the diet of a self-denying ascetic that whips herself raw with a cat-o’-nine-tails and then cannonballs into an acid bath, I was diagnosed with such debilitating gastrointestinal disease, an illness I initially confused with tree pollen and grass allergies, it’s remarkable that I’m still alive.  Through medication I was able to quit taking in 2010, and a diet that has now removed almost every food with a hint of flavor from my menu, I have fully regained my health.   I’ll drink to that — even though I’ve been advised not to (as if that will ever happen).

Following my recent vacation where I allowed myself many lethal indulgences including bacon, brandy-filled chocolate, and a bottomless pit of fat and carbs, I returned home with such a prominent abdominal bulge I suspected that I was either transforming into a kangaroo or had swallowed my young.  In my case, that would be Thurber, the family dog, since my niece, Sweet Pea, is my height.

"Look at me ignore you."

What has any of this blathering got to do with Life cereal?  Since I’ve been feeling so full of figure, I have resumed my regular diet of steamed leaves sans stems seasoned with air, but one night after work, I popped into my market, Fairway, where I noticed they had Life cereal on sale.  Even though holiday season is once again history, I was overcome with temptation and I threw caution to the wind.  With a sweaty mitt I nabbed a box of the favorite cereal of my youth, declaring (inside my head):

Me:  To hell with the horrors of food dyes and BHT!  I’m destined to croak of something!  I’ll return to eating organic fortified mulch and wood shavings the rest of the year!

With a bounce in my step and a satisfied smile on my face that brings to mind the aftermath of carnal pleasure with a rare breed of romantic partner, a special someone not blind, brain damaged and added bonus, willing, I avidly anticipated the next morning’s breakfast when I would dive my spoon deeply into a heaping pile of Life.  I did just that and chowed down that bowl of sweet and bland fake colored oat squares with gusto.

An hour later, I was in the bathroom suffering what can best be described as a near-death experience that continued off and on throughout the entirety of the day.  I concluded that this might have been a side effect in a body that was a born-again BHT and food dye virgin.  Although I had some trepidation eating another bowl of Life the next day, I seem to have reestablished a rapport with toxic food chemicals, but once I polish off this box of Life, I’m going to resume my daily morning duet with Trader Joe’s Organic High Fiber O’s.  That cereal tastes much more like tree bark, but I doubt that it will expedite my visit to the crematorium.

I lean heavily left.

Lame Adventure 267: My Last Post … (boo hoo)

Since I was a somnambulant drooling slog at work this past week, and I’m currently feeling a bit under the weather, I need to once again travel back in time, so here it is, my last post about my recent vacation in the San Francisco Bay Area.

My sister, Dovima, ordered my brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h) to think of what we could do during my last day of freeloading visit.  Herb sat at the computer and began doing research.  She went out leaving Herb and I alone with Thurber, the family dog.

"I'm depressed. I like having you around."

Herb:  How do you feel about going to Bodega Bay?

Me:  Didn’t Hitchcock film The Birds there?

Herb (enthused):  Yeah!

Me (enthused):  Sure!  Let’s go!

Fast forward 24-hours later.

Dovima:  Bodega Bay!  Ugh!  Who wants to go there?  They’re screening animated films at the Exploratorium in the city!  You love animation!

Me:  Ugh!  I don’t wanna go into San Francisco!  It’s such a schlep!

Subtext dialogue:

Me:  Ugh!  I don’t wanna go into San Francisco and run the risk of encountering more exes I hope to never see again.  I have enough of a problem with that in New York.  Hey, I’m on vacation!

Dovima:  Why wouldn’t you want to go to San Francisco?  Everyone wants to go to San Francisco!

Me:  Don’t equate me with them.  I want to go to Bodega Bay!

Dovima:  You’re being ridiculous!  What’s even in Bodega Bay?

Sweet Pea:  Mom, didn’t they film The Birds there?

Dovima:  Don’t tell me that you want to go to Bodega Bay, too, Sweet Pea!

Sweet Pea knows she holds the deciding vote. Herb and I look at the resident teenager longingly.  Dovima looks at the fruit of her loins, threateningly.  I scream inside my head:

Me:  Remember, you’re my sole heir!

Herb screams inside his head:

Herb:  Bodega Bay is great!  What’s the problem?

Dovima screams inside her head:

Dovima:  I’m your mother.  You’re obligated to side with me!

Sweet Pea considers her options. The atmosphere in the house is tense.

Sweet Pea:  Yeah, I want to go to Bodega Bay.

Dovima groans.  I’m relieved.  Sweet Pea high-fives Herb who appears a little stunned to have won a round.  She sets him straight.

Sweet Pea:  You owe me.

Off we go to Bodega Bay – a car ride that according to MapQuest is fifteen miles longer than if we traveled to San Francisco, but I’m in my bliss for every mile we drive further away from Baghdad by the Bay, that’s every mile I’m further away from possibly seeing the conquests of my youth — Lila Floot, Jo-Bang Kramp, Darlene Cunnilackus, et al.

The car ride is pleasant for the most part excluding Sweet Pea repeatedly asking Herb two questions that he completely ignores but his almost inaudible sighs of exasperation indicates that he hears:

Question One:  How long before we get there?

Question Two:  Do you even know how to get there?

We finally arrive.  Dovima, who was still feeling residually foul losing the vote, anticipates that her One True Love is taking us to The Grease and Slop Diner, but Herb has another place in mind, an upscale restaurant called The Tides – that coincidentally is also the location where The Birds’ restaurant and boat dock scenes were filmed.  Today’s Tides were rebuilt in the 1990s.

The Tides

Both Dovima and Sweet Pea are very impressed with this choice – and they’re a tough crowd.  Herb told me that he recalled eating at The Tides in his youth and always wanted to return.

The restaurant is crowded so Herb gives his name.  When a table is ready his name will be announced over a loud speaker giving us time to wander around.  Sweet Pea is determined to find sites that Hitchcock used in filming so she and her mother take off in search of someone that knows.

Lobby card from The Birds with Suzanne Pleshette and Tippi Hedren autographs.

Framed Kyle B. Counts definitive story* about the filming of The Birds.

*To access Kyle B. Counts definitive article click this link, The Making of the Birds.

Herb and I do our own thing.

Enter at your own risk. We didn't.

Herb making friends with Neptune.

Herb and I think we hear his name so we find Dovima and Sweet Pea and approach the host who looks at Herb and asks:

Host:  Are you Marv party of four?

Sweet Pea (loud stage whisper):  Say you are, I’m hungry!

Herb (ignoring Sweet Pea):  No, I must have misheard you.

Marv, who looks like a middle linebacker appears with his party, three burly guys that bring to mind lumberjacks that left their axes in the car trunk, reinforcing the old adage that honesty is the best policy no matter what your kid wants you to do.

Finally, Herb’s name is called – and they get it right:

Host: Herb (with a silent h) party of four!

Dovima and Sweet Pea both order what I really want, fish and chips, but since I am scheduled to fly the red eye later that night and I have a delicate stomach, I deem it best to go with the broiled snapper.  Herb orders a mushroom omelet.

Dovima:  Are you going to get a glass of wine?

Me:  No.  I avoid alcohol whenever I fly.

My sister, who always assumed she knew me as well as herself, faints.  Sweet Pea springs into action and revives her mother.

Sweet Pea:  Auntie didn’t say she was going on the wagon, Mom!

We enjoy our meal as well as the lovely surroundings – huge glass windows with an expansive view of the bay.  Afterward, we go site seeing outside.

Direct descendant of birdy extras?

Fishing vessel returning with a fresh catch.

Birds of (fish) prey perched on rooftop salivating.

Docked fishing vessel.

Pelican hanging out literally and figuratively.

Dovima, Herb and Sweet Pea

It’s possible that I went a little crazy photographing seagulls.

Seagull posing.

"Whatever you do, do not photograph my left side!"

Nice ass ... if you're into feathers.

Seagull-style presidential pose ... possibly the next GOP presidential candidate front-runner.

There are also several whaling artifacts on the grounds.

Whale bone.

Whale jawbone.

Whale jawbone legend.

Unidentified big whale-thing, probably a hangnail.

Whaling pot the size of my bathroom.

You'd surely feel this if it fell on you.

We then pile into the car where Sweet Pea takes over as back seat navigator, hell-bent on finding the schoolhouse used in the filming of The Birds.  She and Dovima were told that it’s in the center of town, but determining which way to turn is a little confusing.  Dovima thinks we should go one way, but Sweet Pea insists with such commanding authority we go the other even Dovima urges Herb the Beleaguered:

Dovima:  Ignore me, listen to Sweet Pea.

He does and sure enough, my heir is right!

The Wooden Duck antique shop across street from ...

The schoolhouse filmed in The Birds! Coincidence that it's painted in the same colorway as The Tides?

The schoolhouse is now a private residence but I’ve read mixed messages on the Internet about the current owner allowing tours.  When these tours happen, if they do still happen, I don’t know.  It was closed when we visited, possibly because the owner knew that Lame Adventures was in the hood.