Tag Archives: dogs

Lame Adventure 381: The Dog On the Plane

I have recently returned from visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by the back seat photographer.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by The Back Seat Photographer.

Excluding the nine hours of my life I burned getting there and the twelve it took to return to New York, were it not for the hassle of traveling, it was a welcome getaway. Whatever anxiety I suffered on the plane immediately dissipated when I was reacquainted with one of my favorite relatives, Thurber, the family dog.

The Back Seat Photographer's assistant.

The Back Seat Photographer’s assistant.

Because I only see Thurber twice a year, it heartens me that he remembers me. My sister, Dovima, thinks this is due to his natural canine instinct i.e., he knows that I am a dog-lover, a friend who’ll play with him and someone he can reliably count on to scratch that itch behind his ears. Splashing myself liberally with steak sauce might also encourage these feelings of mutual affection.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z's.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z’s.

When I was sitting in the lounge at JFK airport waiting to board my JetBlue flight west, I noticed that there was a fluffy mop of a pooch lying peacefully in the seat to my right. Her name was Ginger. She was so tranquil. I was impressed. I smiled at Ginger’s owner. I wanted to say something complimentary, something flattering, something that would make this woman beam with pride about having such a well-behaved pup. But I was a bit crispy fried from working at The Grind before racing to the airport. The best that mush-minded me could offer was:

Me: Your dog’s so relaxed. Is she sedated?

In response her owner was silent. She smiled shyly at me. I felt like a jerk.

When it came time to board, Ginger obediently entered her pet carrier. Once inside the aircraft, I was stuck in the middle seat between two women. The rotund woman radiating heat sitting on the aisle seat next to me noticed that it was not a full flight. The row ahead of us was empty. She asked a flight attendant for permission to move. It was granted. I was so elated with her taking charge, I considered proposing, but I decided it might be best that I take a vow of silence across the country. I wish I could say the same for the three-year-old of indeterminate gender sitting two rows ahead of me. This moppet shouted in an outdoor voice for the entirety of the flight — with fatherly encouragement. How I would have loved to wield a burlap bag full of mashed stone at him.

From the vantage point of my aisle seat, I saw that Ginger’s owner was sitting across from me but one row ahead. When we were airborne, I noticed that Ginger was once again out of her carrier. Her owner was cuddling her.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

The air conditioning was at Arctic-level so the cabin felt like a flying freezer. Snuggling a warm beast in a frozen tube at 35,000 feet must have felt comforting. I would have loved to stuff Ginger’s forepaws in my ears to silence that squealing kid.

A flight attendant with a figure reminiscent of a prison matron cross-bred with a brick wall motored down the aisle. Her peripheral vision saw something suspect. She instantly slammed her brakes, backed up, hovered over Ginger’s owner and read her the riot act.

JetBlue’s JetPaws rules and regulations insist that pets must remain in their carriers at all times. This includes during the flight as well as at the gate. This second rule I have seen violated on numerous occasions without incident. But seeing someone cuddling a pet on a plane was new to me.

Ginger’s owner did not object to the loud dictate. In fact, she didn’t speak. She obeyed. I wanted to break my vow of silence and pipe up at Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes:

Me (piping): Hey! What about telling Dad to make his brat shut the hell up?

Apparently JetBlue’s rules for demanding silence from a three-year-old shouting six hours straight in confined quarters requires that the kid simultaneously bust out a window, ignite a fire and demand more Terra Blue chips. Therefore, Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes was steering clear of that infinitely more combustible situation.

For the remainder of the flight, every so often Ginger’s owner would pick up the pet carrier and embrace it. Sometimes she’d zip it open and slip her hand inside to pet her furry friend. All the while, that kid loudly bleated and Dad gushed praise at his progeny. Outside of three soft yaps emitted upon landing, Ginger was silent as the dead. I swallowed a fistful of Excedrin and wished that JetBlue had a toddler-sized carrier that could be stuffed under the seat.

"Okay, let's take a walk!"

“Okay, let’s take a walk!”

Lame Adventure 363: Outsourced Lame Adventure – Riding in Style

For everyone that has read the previous installment of Lame Adventures, you are very aware that I am suffering melancholy over the pending close of my go-to neighborhood watering hole, the Emerald Inn. On the heels of the news of this tragedy, my workweek started with additional acid reflux for I finally got around to calling my health insurer. This call is the exact type I live to avoid. It’s right up there with having to make an appointment for an invasive procedure requiring intubation, coincidentally my least preferred type of hollow body-filling bation.

This was a call to argue a claim. I knew that my fifteen-day grace period to pitch a fit was quickly drawing to a close. Therefore, I had to suppress my gag reflex, ring them up, sail through several electronic prompts and one irritating disconnection, before finally getting through to someone with a faint pulse that fell short of his dream career, undertaker. The quasi-corpse did not tell me what I wanted to hear. Dreaded telephone conversations like that one are exactly why the Emerald Inn has served a medicinal purpose in my life for nearly thirty years.

Meanwhile, my boss, Elsbeth, had yet to arrive at The Grind. Her absence compelled me to multi-task. Task One was venting the little that remains of my mind into the cold dead ear of my insurer about why I was now being charged a king’s ransom for a routine medical procedure that had previously cost me little more than the court jester’s breath mints. Task Two was simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on my computer screen, should my Lord & Master send an electronic missive my way.

Sure enough, Elsbeth did send a missive. The Boss’s message was simple:

Elsbeth’s email: You’ve got to love this one!!!

Elsbeth's Goggles Dog iPhone gotcha shot.

Elsbeth’s Goggles Dog iPhone gotcha shot.

I certainly did! Here’s a bit of backstory: while Elsbeth and her husband, Stu, were returning to Manhattan from the country, she noticed The Goggles Dog looking her way outside the car window. The Boss instantly thought:

Elsbeth (thinking): This Goggles Dog belongs in Lame Adventures!

Striking a pose, it is evident that The Goggles Dog was in complete agreement with my superior. Is The Goggles Dog a Lame Adventures hound or what? I vote “woof”!

Lame Adventure 354: Gift Giving Insanity

Two weeks ago today my family and I celebrated Christmas.  We exchanged gifts and had the annual home cooked meal at my sister Dovima’s house in the San Francisco Bay Area.  As usual, it was scrumptious, not that I can recall anything I ate other than the cookies that my niece, Sweet Pea, baked.  I know the main course was something without cheese or tomato or lemon, the latter two acidic ingredients instantly activate my gastritis and make me spew hellfire.  I also know that it was not fish, since both Sweet Pea and my brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), are not fans of seafood.  My brother Axel will not eat red meat of any kind, so that eliminates beef as well as pork and ham.  My father loves turkey, but Dovima loathes eating fowl so soon after Thanksgiving.  None of us will go anywhere near veal since animal cruelty makes us all cry.  I know whatever we had, we kept it simple so it’s very possible that we celebrated the holiday with delectable bread and water.

Before that wonderful meal of — here’s another possibility — carrot sticks and crackers, we had appetizers.  I have no recollection of what they were, either, but I know that I did eat the equivalent of my weight in all of them including three fairly digestible paper napkins decorated with cartoon reindeer.  Then, we exchanged gifts.

Ever since the economy tanked, and my wages were decreased twenty percent four years ago this month — not one of my more treasured memories — affording  gifts has posed a challenge.  Every year as the cost of living increases, my meager alms are further stretched.  In years past when my pay was robust I could afford to give those near and dear presents of significant worth.  Translation: I shelled out for costlier crap.

Unfortunately, those days are now history and today, with such a scant pile of pesos at my disposal, I am forced to be creative or in the case of Herb (with a silent h), redundant.  For a second year in a row I have gifted my brother-in-law with the same present, a gum wrapper inscribed:

IOU a Gift.

My sister hinted that she needed an umbrella so that was easy.  I slipped five dollars to one of the umbrella guys that pop up all over Manhattan sidewalks the second a cloud bursts.  For my 85-year-old dad, I raided the supply closet at work and plied him with Post-its and paper clips.  As for Axel, I gave my brother a rusty, twisted nail.  That scored a huge hit with him.  Whispering this confidence lent it instant panache:

Me: They say that nail was used on Jesus.

When I told my pal, Milton, that I had gotten him a gift he admonished me:

Milton:  No, you shouldn’t have!

Abiding by his wish, I gave his Barbra Streisand pencil cup to my niece along with a post-dated check for two dollars.

Just as I thought I had finished the hell of holiday shopping I remembered that I had stiffed one of my most valued relations, Thurber, the family dog.  He completely slipped my mind the previous Christmas as well.  That year I rushed out to Target and got him a hard plastic mallard that landed with a thud literally and figuratively.  He made the definitive canine “I hate this toy statement” i.e., he buried it deep into a black hole.  It was more the equivalent of a black hole since he does not have access to a yard.  He shoved it under the couch and neither looked for it nor barked for some schnook or schnook-ette with opposable thumbs to retrieve it.  Possibly it remains there right now.

Worst. Toy. Ever.

Worst. Toy. Ever.

I know why that mallard was a dud.  Mouth feel.  Two years ago, I gave Thurber a Mr. Bill doll.  That toy not only had exquisite fabric-y mouth feel but it talked.  And yes, I tested it out in my own mouth.  It did feel very good.

Chew on this!

Chew on this!

Eager to repeat the Mr. Bill level of success with The Family Canine, I raced out to a neighborhood pet store where I found The Perfect Gift — a talking Curly from the Three Stooges.  It said several Curley phrases including my personal favorites, the more intellectually astute bon mots, “Soitenly!” and “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!”  Plus, the mouth feel was sublime.  The one hindrance was the price, $18.47 (with tax).  Would I really unload nearly $20 on a dog toy, considering that I had spent less than $20 on my entire family combined?

"I pronounce Curly a keeper."

“I pronounce Curly a keeper.”

Lame Adventure 350: Time Tales at The Grind

For the past few weeks, months or years, it’s been one of those days for me.  There I was at The Grind sitting at my computer that’s situated directly below a vent breeding mold faster than rabbits mating on speed.

Innocuous looking ceiling vent.

Fertile mold.

Mold shacking up over my head.

I was crunching numbers while thinking philosophical thoughts:

Me: I wonder if Trader Joe’s will have those brandy filled chocolate beans this year?  Did I lock my door this morning?  How soon before I’m as obsolete as a public pay phone?

Empty pay phone hole — metaphor for my future?

My loyal sidekick, Greg, shattered my deep thoughts.

Greg:  Are you busy?

Me (thinking): Just going blind doing math before segueing into regretting the entire trajectory of my life.

Me (saying):  What do you need?

He asked if I could go into Photoshop and add a simple date to a simple label for him. He was in a bit of a hurry and he wanted to simply complete one project before simply starting another.  This request sounded reasonably simple to me:

Me:  Sure, give me five minutes.

My computer had other ideas.

“No Photoshop for you simpleton!”

For ten agonizing minutes I am stuck in the intersection of Irritating and Annoying before I am granted access to Photoshop so I can fulfill this simple request.  Just when I am going to print the label with the simple revision for Greg, my lord and master, Elsbeth, starts printing the equivalent of the phone book.  Finally, I give Greg, who started working on another project in the intervening 45 minutes, his simple label that inhaled the better part of an hour of what remains of my simply depleting life.

A few weeks ago, Greg gave me the paperwork for a delivery of tile that we received.  Another of my illustrious responsibilities as Minister of Tile that makes practical use of my fancy film school degree is to date stamp paperwork.  I am the type that can never remember the date, so that’s why I wear a state-of-no-art Timex with date-telling capability.  My timepiece is the consummate chick magnet to grandmother-types that wet dream about watch faces with numbers as big as eggplants:

Waiting a New York minute to learn the day’s date.

My boss has strong opinions about architecture.  I asked Elsbeth:

Me:  Hey boss, what do you think about the Hearst Tower?

Elsbeth:  Which building is that?

Me:  That one over on 57th and Eighth.

The address did not ring the gong in my superior’s head so I Google image searched it for her while accessing my inner NPR reporter.

Me:  They finished the base in 1928, but due to the Depression, they held off building the tower until 70 years later.  It opened in 2006.

Hearst Tower base completed in 1928. Architect: Joseph Urban.

Comedy and Tragedy with plenty to laugh and cry about.

Elsbeth looked at the resulting eyesore, liberally dropped words like hideous, ridiculous and awful accompanied by a few f-bombs with i-n-g endings.

Result: super modern glass and steel tower by architect Norman Foster that’s been jutting out of the base since it opened in 2006.

I agreed that time was not kind to this project or to quote my liege:

Elsbeth:  What the fuck were they thinking?

Unamused muses at the base.

The crass guest that’s here to stay jutting out of the base.

This week Elsbeth highly amused my colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), when she revealed that the reason our shared drive runs slower than a pregnant snail carrying a boulder is because:

Elsbeth (exasperated):  People are downloading all their personal crap on it, like pictures of their dog!

Not this dog waiting patiently for his master to throw him a bone.

Nor Thurber, my family’s dog, looking anxious in this picture my sister Dovima texted me as he’s about to leave for the kennel.

A month ago, (not) Under Ling (anymore) was feeling significantly less mirth when she burned her finger using a glue gun.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) giving me the index finger.

Now a message to my seven loyal readers, for the first time in 350 posts, before subjecting myself to the next 350 Lame Adventures, this site is going on hiatus until after the November election. Since I prefer the shiny, fresh and nubile, I’m not the type that republishes past posts, but if you crave a fix of Lame Adventures-style junk food for your mind, preferably while bored at work or in the process of getting dressed down by your main squeeze for forgetting to take out the trash, help yourself to reading any of the 349 others.  Check out different years. You might even hit on a good one. If you need a nudge from me about where to go, my personal favorite is the one with the photographs.

Lame Adventure 330: From Barnyard Puppets to Neighborhood Pooches

Twenty-nine years ago when I was a freshly minted NYU(seless) grad, I found my no fee, rent-stabilized, gas and electrical inclusion (i.e., no charge for gas and electric), Upper West Side hovel in The New York Times.  After making the mistake of agreeing to take me on as a tenant, my Irish-Catholic landlady, Catherine McCrank (name changed to protect the demented), ordered me to sit at her kitchen table to write a list of house rules that she dictated. I made the Faustian deal to follow her rules for the life of my tenancy in her building.

Deal with the devil circa 1983.

Since Manhattan usually has less than a one percent vacancy rate and I had been looking for a garret for three months, I would have willingly signed a confession that I was San Francisco’s Zodiac serial killer between the ages of four and twelve just to land this affordable 312 square foot crash pad.

The first rule was No petsNo air conditioner which has haunted me brutally this summer appears further down the list.  Back to Mrs. McCrank’s No pets rule, she loathes animals, particularly dogs.  Some tenants have snuck in cats, and occasionally there have been dog visitors, but this has been a dog-free house as long as I’ve resided here and at this stage, I’m almost the oldest tenant in the joint.  The length of my tenancy shocks the younger residents when they ask that irritating question:

Younger resident:  How long have you lived here?

I used to give an honest answer but after a while I grew tired of hearing:

Younger resident:  No way! You’ve lived here that long?

Now when someone asks I handle it as follows:

Me: I can’t remember.  Forever!

Then, I laugh, and they laugh and what we’re laughing at neither one of us knows other than they’re probably paying a good fifty percent more than me in rent, so I suppose the joke’s on them.

Unlike Mrs. McCrank, I love dogs.  I grew up with a mutt I adored that hated my guts, Mean Streak.

Meanie on the lookout.

In the above photo, Mean Streak’s paw was bandaged from excessive nail biting; he was a worrier as well as a canine warrior.  He was also an excellent watchdog and I assumed that he barked and snarled at me to maintain his skill set. I never held his ferocious temper against him.

I always figured I’d eventually live in a place where I could finally have a dog, but after twenty-nine years living in this sweltering, albeit affordable, rat hole – where I’ve just renewed the lease to start year thirty, I’m resigned to the reality that this is never going to happen.  Therefore, the closest thing I have to a pet is Bill E., my newly acquired puppet barnyard goat.

Low maintenance puppet pet. Just dust off on weekends.

I also like to come and go as I please.  Dogs need a lot of time and attention.  I oversleep nearly every morning of my life.  If I had to add “walk Fido” to my to do list I’d never make it out the door in time to squeeze onto the jam-packed subway train for my commute downtown, sandwiched between satchels with enough space to fit a week’s provisions for a family of four.

What is in here, fifty copies of “Fifty Shades of Gray”?

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to my tale of no-pooch-for-me woe.

There’s Blanca.

“That be me!”

This adorable 9-year-old Westminster Terrier lives across the street from my brownstone with her always pleasant owner, A.  They’re quite a team and it’s probably a reflection that A, who is so cheerful, would have a mellow dog.  Possibly a telling factor in Mean Streak’s sour demeanor was that my childhood phone number was 1-800-LUNATIC.  Was that a coincidence?  Probably not.

Back to Blanca, seeing her and A on my walk to the subway station to head down to The Grind is a welcome start to my day.  Lucky for me, Mrs. McCrank did not have one more rule on her list, “No socializing with neighborhood dogs.”

“Arf you, Mrs. McCrank!”

Lame Adventure 315: Out of The Comfort Zone

Yes, I am away from my beloved island of Manhattan.

Away from my neighborhood theater that staged the Tony Awards Sunday night.

Live from New York [last Sunday night], it’s Neil Patrick Harris!

Away from The Grind where I steadily pigeon watch the day away when I’m not being tormented by our new and evil fax machine.

We’re accepting carrier pigeon resumes if either of you would care to apply. We’ll pay you in Girl Scout cookies.

Away from the subway train with its special brand of surprises.

Looky here, some cretin stuck their gum on the overhead pole!

The time has arrived for a vacation. I may even read a book.

72 pages in; I may actually finish reading this one.

I am in The Land of My Ancestors — the San Francisco Bay Area.  This is my second Comfort Zone.  I‘m freeloading off my sister, Dovima and brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h).  Friday, their daughter and my niece, Sweet Pea, is graduating high school. Sunday is Father’s Day so I’ll be with the man who gifted me with his narrow feet, significant nose and capacity to explode at the TV screen when my team or Rafa Nadal is losing.

Since I arrived a day early, Dovima was concerned that I would be bored out of the little brains I have left home alone with Thurber, the family hound.

“I’m not fun to hang out with doggie a mano?”

Dovima was also been worried that I might have difficulty making lunch for myself, but I assured her that I mastered the art of mediocre sandwich-making at age 45.  Meanwhile, Thurber and I were busy doing our own thing.

“You only power sleep on weekends? I do it daily!”

“Where’s the cat? He’s a great excuse to bark!”

“Put the camera down and lie on the floor like me! This feels sensational.”

I did.  Hopefully my pulled groin muscle will heal by the time I fly out.  Dogs are great but resist following their advice.

Lame Adventure 281: We’re in Good Company

Bet you can’t do this.

Leo the Care-free Border Collie showing off.

Neither can I.  In fact I’ll come clean.  I finally quit trying to catch Frisbees in my mouth after turning forty. By that stage in life I had invested in so much dental work, it was comparable to having a Mazda Miata parked in my kisser.  Therefore, I begrudgingly accepted reality and knew the time had come to downsize on the carefree frolicking in favor of keeping my two front teeth intact.  As for Leo the Care-free Border Collie’s impressive Cirque du Soleil maneuver while balanced gracefully on a flowerpot, that completely blows what’s left of my mind.