Monthly Archives: April 2011

Lame Adventure 182: Space Invader visits Tribeca!

Generally, my energy level plummets the second I arrive at the workplace and it rockets the instant I leave.  Wednesday was no exception.  There I was, the portrait of lethargy sitting at my desk, using the little that remains of my cobweb-cluttered mind proofreading the floor tile equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  My sidekick, Greg, had just returned from taking a walk.

Greg:  You know that graffiti artist, Space Invader?

Me (groggy):  Yeah.

Disclaimer:  the name Space Invader did ring an anemic bell but at that very moment white noise was predominantly playing in my head.

Greg:  I think I just saw one of his mosaics outside the parking lot on Hudson and Worth.

Me (still muddle-headed):  What’s the name of this parking lot?

Greg:  I don’t know.  It’s the one we walk past whenever we walk south on Hudson.

That reasoning now rings the gong in my head and jars me out of my stupor.  I regain full consciousness, indeed recall Space Invader, recollect watching the documentary film about street artists, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and hack up a feather.

Me:  Yes!  I know that parking lot.

Greg:  The mosaic’s starting to crumble.  It probably won’t be there much longer.

Me:  I should photograph it!

Greg:  You should.  It’s outside the parking lot.

I hurdle my desk and I’m in my boss, Elsbeth’s office, in a single bound requesting a Get Out of Jail Free pass.  She grants it.  Within moments, I’m hightailing down Hudson.  I see the parking lot but no sign of Space Invader’s mark.  Frustrated, I am wondering what Greg meant when he said this mosaic is outside the parking lot.  This parking lot is an outdoor parking lot.  Then, I step off the sidewalk and just as I’m almost hit by a beer truck …

Looking north on Hudson at Worth and simultaneously defying death.

Keep looking.


One rainstorm away from disappearing.

I return to my desk, satisfied with the sighting that was even more rewarding than the deeply philosophical street art I encountered when my friends and I were in the East Village last Saturday.

The Fickle Finger of the East Village.


Lame Adventure 181: Day Four (written on Day Five)

Over beverages late Sunday night, Milton and I agreed that the toughest aspect of a lovely three-day weekend is Day Four, returning to the grind – what we did on Monday as I write this on Tuesday, technically Day Five.

My friend’s weekend started a tad more sophisticated than mine.   Last Friday he scored a free ticket to the Metropolitan Opera’s new critically and now Milton-acclaimed six-hour production of Wagner’s “Walküre.”  Milton was so thrilled with this second installment in the staging of the complete “Ring” cycle, he completely forgot that he was ravenous until it was over.  Afterward, still donning the Brünnhilde garb he keeps in his closet for super-special events like this, he salted the side of a building and devoured it in one swallow.

Ravenous Milton.

While Milton was watching warrior maidens cry, “Hojotoho,” I joined my colleagues, Ling, her bf, Lowell, and The Quiet Man, at Wicked Willy’s, a pirate-themed bar, to watch my sidekick, Greg, alternately play saxophone, bass clarinet, and clarinet with his still-yet-to-be-named three piece band.

Greg fingering his sax.

Hanging out in college bars on a Friday night usually does not make my to-do list, but Greg promised me that he would not wear a pirate hat, so how could I resist hearing him play?   Check him out!

On stage, Greg was in his bliss, and afterward, he remained rather exhilarated too.

On Saturday, Milton and I attended together — with six of our favorite people – Ling, Lowell, Albee, Lola, Miguel, and our terrific fellow blogger, Enchilada, Young Jean Lee’s show called We’re Gonna Die at Joe’s Pub.  This provocative and incite-filled playwright commands the stage and delivers humor-inflected tales about what makes the neurotic life worth living — self-loathing, rejection, humiliation, alienation, loss and death.  What’s not to like on that play list?

Young Jean Lee

These downer themes are interspersed with pop songs she’s written played by her band Future Wife.  What should be an evening that makes you want to leave and immediately stick your head in the oven, actually closes with enthusiastic audience participation.  We joyously chanted, “We’re gonna die, we’re gonna, die, we’re gonna die and it’ll be alright!”  After we left, we felt so high, Lola declared:

Lola:  I feel like dancing!

So we went dancing … After doing a crowd-clearing move I taught myself called the Head Through the Windshield Bossa Nova, I shifted gears and went taping.  The video embedded below is ridiculously dark, but an image is there for those with fine-tuned imaginations that are willing to look very hard.

We’re Gonna Die plays three more performances at Joe’s Pub April 29 and 30.

Sunday night, Milton and I had 99-cent-seat tickets to see the staging of Born Bad at SoHo Rep, a fifty-five minute production about a dysfunctional family written by Debbie Tucker Green, who won the Olivier award for best new playwright for this work in 2003.   The ensemble cast is terrific and Leah C. Gardiner’s direction is inspired.  The play is not a conventional narrative, but vignettes illustrating the deep and disturbing divisions in a West Indies family, presumably living in the UK, where this black British playwright is from.   Much of the language is rhythmic and repetitive as characters beat each other almost senseless with their opposing recollections, opinions, and anger.  Basically, people choose to believe what they want to believe.  Milton was enraptured from start to finish.  For me, I nodded off a time or two or twelve in the middle, and briefly dreamt about Mr. Ed – who definitely never appeared on stage in horse-form or dialogue.  Yet, it did completely regain my attention again in the last third and the ending was powerful.  Born Bad has been extended through May 7.

Lame Adventure 180: “All I see is little dots …”

“Some are smears, some are spots,” so goes the lyrics to one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, titled Drugs.  I know that as my musician sidekick, Greg, reads this he’s snickering, but I truly do like that song primarily for the melody.  It’s too bad that it is seldom played on the radio.  I’d much rather hear Drugs over Ke$ha’s frantic warbling.

The Talking Heads' "Drugs" not exactly breaking records on iTunes.

Today is Good Friday, so I was a no show at the grind, not because I have an iota of religious conviction or affiliation – I don’t.  Since I’m also a non-breeder, I’m a proud God-loathing atheist.  I have noticed with fellow religiously indifferent friends and family that after they spawn, they feel the need to believe in something out there. I think this has more to do with fear for and love of their children than any sudden death-bed-type conversion that such a thing as a supreme being exists.

I had to have three eye tests and I figured that this day, rife with religious connotation keeping the God-fearers away, might be the perfect day for this pagan to get her testing accomplished.  I headed over to the Lenox Hill Hospital eye clinic on the East Side, a.k.a. The Land of the Punt Dog.  Pictured below is the waiting room when the woman wearing the denim jogging suit trimmed in hot pink exited to use the bathroom, possibly to vomit when she glimpsed her attire in the mirror.

Mine, all mine!

The first test entailed sticking my chin and forehead onto and against rests and staring at a light spot.  With one eye covered, dots of light sporadically flashed.  Every time I detected a flash, I hit a clicker.  This test seemed to take 329 hours, but it actually took my right eye about five minutes and ten seconds to get through it and the left, my stronger eye, four minutes and six seconds.  The technician, an extremely warm and personable Asian woman, told me that she’s had patients that have taken up to 18 minutes per eyeball to complete this test since they’re so lax to click.  She lamented that she often thinks she could have tested three patients in the time it takes to slog through the slow pokes.  This made me reflect that as a woman, my partners have always appreciated my capacity to come quick sparing them lockjaw.  I resisted sharing this factoid with the technician.

Then, I had to have my eyes dilated before proceeding with the next two tests.  When I signed up for these tests, I was not informed that I would need to be dilated, so I did not pack my shades.  I groused about this to the technician who reflected that the sky is rather overcast so it would be unlikely that my eyeballs will feel sheared when I step back outside.  As much as I wanted to grouse more, the voice inside my head that sounds exactly like a dulcet foghorn announced:

Voice Inside My Head That Sounds Exactly Like a Dulcet Foghorn:  Hey, dumb ass, you’re getting three extensive eye tests!  Why wouldn’t you be dilated?

After the technician inserted the dilation drops, I asked if it would be possible to read during the half hour wait.  She gently said that would not be a good idea for my eyes would be fighting dilation, delaying the process.  I returned to the waiting room, and parked myself into a chair thinking:

Me:  What the hell am I going to do now in this, the longest half hour of my predominantly misspent life?

Promptly, I fell asleep, periodically waking myself with the low hum of snoring.  Thirty minutes later, the kind technician roused me out of my slumber.

Me (rousing):  I don’t want to go to school.  Just five minutes more!

The next two tests were much shorter.  What I recall most from the second one was nearly being knocked off the chair with a flash of white light so overpowering I went momentarily blind.  Therefore, due to my jumpy eyeball choreography the technician had to retake that test repeatedly.  I loathed that test, as did she.

The last test had a sixties era psychedelic quality.  I stared at a dot in the midst of a zig zaggy pattern that made me think of people born a little after my parents generation — women in miniskirts and go go boots, guys wearing Nehru jackets with love beads.

Let's dance to "Aquarius"!

People my open-minded parents called, “Jerks.”  Again, my eyeballs were subject to yet another painful assault, but the technician was pleased since I managed to suppress any head movement.  She said I did well but was probably actually thinking:

Technician:  Hallelujah, I’m done with this idiot!  I can eat lunch and go home now!

She confided that I seem to have passed all the tests very well, my corneas are in good shape, and if anything looks irregular, it probably isn’t due to something horrible or terrible, but just to the unique shape of the inner workings of my eyes.  That was a welcome relief.

I left, entered daylight and felt like my eyeballs were sheared off.

Lame Adventure 179: Insult in a Tube

A creature of habit, I have brushed my teeth at least twice daily ever since early childhood.  My brother, Axel, liked to say that I shot off my mouth so much, I must have brushed with gunpowder.  When I was a small fry, my toothpaste of choice was my mother’s, Crest.  In my teen years I switched to Colgate because Axel bought into the myth that Crest’s parent company, Proctor & Gamble, was linked to the Church of Satan due to a controversy surrounding P&G’s former logo.

Devil worshipper logo?

Looking back I now think that links to the devil would have inspired heathens like Axel and I to not only continue brushing with Crest but to purchase P&G stock.  In the early 2000’s I went granola and switched to Tom’s of Maine because my then dentist, when I had dental coverage, suggested it would help me hang onto my remaining natural teeth longer.  It has thus far.

Unfortunately, in 2006, 84% of Tom’s was bought out by Colgate-Palmolive to the tune of $100,000,000 and it’s been downhill ever since as they scramble to make massive profits.  Once Tom’s was taken over by this corporate behemoth, the packaging has gotten flashier but the product within has been steadily shrinking.  What used to be a 6-ounce tube was gradually reduced to 5.5 ounces.

The good old days of Toms ... February 2011.

Much to my horror, when I went to the store on Monday to buy my most recent tube of Tom’s the packaging had shrunk an additional  8/10 of an ounce to a paltry 4.7 ounces.

The incredible shrinking toothpaste.

At this rate of 1.5-ounce reduction every three years, a tube of Tom’s should be reduced to approximately a .2-ounce size by the year 2020.  The approximate $5 price per tube continues to hold steady.  How considerate.

One of corporate America’s favorite ways to bitch-slap the consumer is to repackage less product for the same price, so the allegedly unknowing spending fool is paying more for less as the fat cats in charge just get fatter.  Tom’s spins itself as being a healthier product that’s good for both the user and the environment, even though since it was taken over by a cluster of greedy suits in a boardroom, it is now one of the biggest poster children representing the worst of transparent corporate greed.  The board of directors at Tom’s may not worship Satan, but they’re influenced by a far worse devil that’s forever ripping off the consumer and making record profits, big oil.

Tom’s web site boasts a ten-page “Find Answers” section where they discuss everything from if the stock is publicly traded to does the new tube signal a formula change.  Nowhere is the question addressed about why the product is continually shrinking but it still costs the same.  Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to ask and answer this question with Tom’s mint-flavored spin.

Why do you keep decreasing your tube size and not your price?

Our decreased tube size gave us the opportunity to improve the amount of space inside our recycled cardboard box to better meet our consumer needs!  The toothpaste inside all of our decreased tubes still delivers the same great brushing experience you have come to expect from Tom’s of Maine.  Nothing else in the formula has changed, just the size.  Enjoy less as you pay more you tree hugging sucker.

A tool of corporate greed, Sheryl Crow. My hero(ine), Patti Smith, probably would have told them to perch on it had they asked her.

Lame Adventure 178: Breaking Up

Milton and I recently saw the Broadway debut of a play written by one of my favorite playwrights, Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Motherfucker With the Hat.  It’s a dramatic comedy about Jackie, an addict in recovery who is certain that his longtime girlfriend, Veronica, has cheated on him, but before falling off the wagon he confesses his woes about his relationship to his sponsor, Ralph.  Bobby Cannavale, at the top of his game, plays Jackie, Chris Rock, in a solid Broadway debut is Ralph, and Elizabeth Rodriguez, a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company (where Guirgis is co-artistic director with Yul Vázquez) is spot-on as cynical recovery-averse Veronica.  Film veteran Annabella Sciorra effectively plays Victoria, Ralph’s unhappy wife, and Yul Vázquez, rounds out the excellent cast as Cousin Julio, Jackie’s wise cousin.

A slightly problematic title to advertise publicly.

I loved it.  Milton did not.  I thought it was a thoughtfully written piece with brilliant dialogue and plot twists throughout about how we perceive ourselves to others, how we deceive others, and how we have philosophies that often conflict with others that get us through life, “one day at a time.”   Milton disagreed.  He thought:

Milton (thinking out loud):  It was about nothing.

If this fast moving, wonderfully written play is not considered a homerun, in my opinion, it was at least a triple that scored the game-winning run.

Note:  Milton loathes baseball.

Possibly the title of this post might imply that Milton and I have suffered a friendship-ending argument following this play.  We had nothing of the sort. Who I finally did get around to dumping was my flabby, freeloading longtime cell phone carrier, AT & T, for buff, “I’m there for you baby” newcomer (for me) Verizon.

Ancient Cingular (now AT &T) hunk of junk cell phone on left. Svelte new Verizon cell phone on right.

I was under the false impression that Verizon, what I always assumed was the Cadillac of cell phone service, was out of my league.  I thought it would cost me more, offer fewer perks, and only carry smart phones, a gadget I cannot afford on my measly laugh-out-loud wages.  When my rent increased last fall, I was forced to disconnect my landline of 27 years.  Psychologically, sacrificing my 212 area code was demoralizing, but saving that extra $600 a year eased my financial pain.  Yet, my ancient cell phone had given me a new source of mental anguish.

When I tried to make calls from home on my AT & T dumb phone, it often took up to four tries before I could get a signal.  Usually, when I did get a signal on my AT & T dumb phone, the call would drop.  My 84 year old father, who has a heart condition, and considering the fact that he is 84 makes any issue with any organ including a wart on his thumb a serious issue, has complained to me about having to call up to three times to get through.  The last thing I need hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles is the idea that my crummy cell phone might expedite my dear old dad buying his rainbow.

While dining in a noisy restaurant a few weeks ago with Coco, I needed to make a call.  She let me use her Verizon iPhone and that was when I had my Verizon epiphany.  I decided that somehow, some way, I was going to make the switch.  When my AT & T service for the month was a day away from completion, I entered my neighborhood Verizon wireless store, explained to Angel, the very helpful customer service rep, that I only use my phone for talking and texting, and what I could afford to pay.  Within an hour he had given me a free Samsung dumb phone (that is smart phone capable), and the same package of minutes and texting that I had before for what I was paying with AT & T.

Qwerty keyboard. Sweet!

Verizon may not have rollover minutes, but I never used a single one of my AT & T rollover minutes so I did not care about that.  What I do care about is reception and dropped calls in my apartment.  Both problems are now eliminated.  Joy.

Recently I received an email notification from AT & T the Jilted about my final bill:

AT & T love letter. Click on image to enlarge.

Meanwhile, I’m still familiarizing myself with my new dumb phone. The one thing I have not been able to figure out is how to shut it off.  This was a concern during the play, but I know how to silent it, so I buried it deep in my satchel.  Before curtain, I made Milton test call me.  It didn’t ring, but it did vibrate, so I had a quick foot massage before the play began.

Lame Adventure 177: Soft-core Porn 67 Years in the Making

It was a chilly and rainy night, perfect to stay indoors and read The New York Times online.  I have had a lifelong affinity for animation, so I was delighted to see that there was a feature about Shamus Culhane, who was the lead animator on the famous “Heigh-Ho” sequence in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

My colleagues and I singing, "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, off to lowly paid hell we go."

This article did not dwell on Culhane’s contribution to this classic Disney film. Instead, it focused on the avant-garde images that he inserted into Woody Woodpecker cartoons he directed in the 1940s.  Tom Klein, a Loyola Marymount University animation professor, did the sleuthing where he detected that “Culhane essentially ‘hid’ his artful excursions in plain sight, letting them rush past too rapidly for the notice of most of his audience.”  Klein has published his findings in the March issue of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, titled “Woody Abstracted: Film Experiments in the Cartoons of Shamus Culhane.”

John Gilbert meet Amadeo Modigliani meet Errol Flynn: Shamus Culhane in 1932 when he was in his early twenties.

To illustrate the extent of Culhane’s unique style of artistry, the article includes hyperlinks to some of these Woody Woodpecker cartoons showcasing his abstract images.  I particularly liked the excerpt from The Loose Nut that shows Woody driving a steamroller through a doorway where the explosion of colors is shown in both real time and then in slow motion highlighting the abstract art aspect.

Now you see Woody ...

Now you don't.

Captivated, I clicked on every link.

Towards the end of the article, it’s mentioned that the shorts Culhane directed for Walter Lantz’s studio were more remembered for their visual humor.

“In 1944 he collaborated with the layout artist Art Heinemann on “The Greatest Man in Siam.” In it the Fastest Man in Siam bolts past doorways that are distinctly phallic in shape and peers at another that mimics a vagina.”

First I thought, “Huh?”


I next thought, “Where’s the link to that cartoon?”

It’s here, and even though it was made in 1944, it must still be too risqué for The New York Times online.  Fortunately, Lame Adventures has no standards.  Enjoy.

Lame Adventure 176: New Season, New Sneakers

Today is Monday.  The forecast looks very good with temperatures reaching close to 80.  This is the first day in 2011 I will not wear corduroy, denim, down, or my trademark motorcycle boots.

I will come to the office clad in a wet suit and swim fins.

Actually, as the weather warms, I will switch gears to lighter weight cotton and my other trademark, my Jack Purcell sneakers.  Unlike my female friends, I am a creature of repeated sartorial habits year in and year out, another word for my personal style that is anti-style.  Women never compliment what I wear, but often guys do, and not because they think what I wear is smoking hot, but because they see themselves wearing what I wear.  My taste in clothes is straight out of the Larry David Collection.

My fashion guru. What's not to like?

As with many people with little taste in clothes I am borderline insane when it comes to sneakers.  My sneaker of choice is the Jack Purcell, designed in 1935 by the Canadian world champion badminton player, named yes, Jack Purcell.

Jack Purcell, badminton dynamo.

Therefore, my sneakers are technically badminton shoes.  Badminton is a sport I know next to nothing about other than it’s played with what looks like dwarf tennis rackets used to smack shuttlecocks.  I seem to recall getting countless toy badminton rackets with plastic shuttlecocks as well as croquet mallets as a kid.  I was infinitely more interested in football and baseball, so I left this plethora of obscure sports toys in a pile.  Looking back, my mother probably saw the $3 price of a baseball bat and compared it to the pile of on sale $1 shuttlecocks and reasoned:

My Mother Reasoning: Let’s save ourselves two bucks and get her the shuttlecock.  She’ll never know the difference.

This is a precise illustration of what my mother thought of any of my actual interests.  Possibly, in a moment of motherly delusion, she envisioned me playing a graceful game of shuttlecock in a flannel gown with my sister, Dovima, and a third female, a nice dull drone of her choosing, not anything like the foul mouth, smart, tough chicks I’ve been drawn to like metal to magnet my entire life.

My mother's two fantasy daughters and possibly my brother in drag.

Meanwhile, with scenes of gentility playing on the Viewmaster in my mother’s head, the real me was aggressively whacking golf balls off the walls throughout our house with a rusty discarded five iron my father found in the bushes during a golf outing that doubled as a business meeting.  My demanding mother and grandmother forbade my natural athlete father from playing golf, but they had no control of what he did in the bushes.  He was free to find balls and clubs for my playmate, my brother, Axel, the mastermind that designed a golf course out of the layout of our home, and me.

The bathroom was the sand trap.

My mother, coincidentally, was the consummate clotheshorse and the most perfectly coiffed, made up, and put together person this side of Grace Kelly.  Imagine her dismay had she lived long enough to know that the fruit of her loins is a Larry David Collection acolyte.  Something I did inherit from my mother was a penchant for quality.  She instilled in me, “Don’t buy crap.”

With spring approaching, I needed a new pair of Jack Purcells and was going to apply some of my tax return funds in this direction.  What I wanted was shoes in brown leather, but apparently, that model has been discontinued.  Dismayed, I checked out the Jack Purcell web site and much to my delight found the “Design Your Own” option allowing the customer to design his or her own sneaker in cloth for $70 or leather for $75.  Leather color choices included brown.

Therefore, with a few computer clicks I was able to create the boring sneaker of my dreams.  A sneaker worthy of the Larry David Collection.


Upon opening the box, I was briefly overwhelmed by a toxic chemical smell that was so strong I momentarily blacked out, but fortunately, I keep my window open all year round, so the smell quickly dissipated and I regained consciousness.

Ta da!

They left off your blandness.

Gun boats!