Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lame Adventure 302: Wacky Time

Recently, there was a lull in my workload at The Grind.  Since my ambition is a bottomless pit or possibly it’s just a pit, or maybe it’s more accurately described as a rut, but who am I kidding, it’s none of the above. I have no ambition whatsoever outside of a fondness for staring enviously at the pigeons roosting on the sill outside my window.

Let's trade places. You write this blog.

As it so happened there was a free moment in my schedule.  Truthfully my work-life has been a barren plain the entirety of this month, if not every day in the 2012 calendar year and I’m shedding brain cells faster than my final vestiges of fertility.  So there was an opening as wide as the sky in my day and I seized — to be honest here, I never seize, I’m inclined to drag myself, bitching and moaning loudly to give the impression that I’m accomplishing something arduous that merits my salary of a potato and health insurance.  Anyway, I used this wide-open-as-a-$10-hooker’s-thighs-moment to exploit the opportunity to research setting the time on the office fax machine from the hour in Guam to the precise minute in Gotham City.

That statement motivated me to Google the time difference between New York City and Guam.  I’ve discovered that Guam is actually fourteen hours ahead of New York. Our fax machine is two hours behind EDT.

It turns out that the time on our fax machine is set perfectly for Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Proving that point.

For a moment I consider weaseling out of my self-imposed mission by suggesting to my boss, Elsbeth, that we simply relocate our office to Scottsbluff, but even I have the capacity to realize that idea is utterly inane.  Instead, I consider proposing to my superior an alternative solution – we sell our fax machine to someone in Scottsbluff and we get ourselves a new one.  Yet, it occurs to me that setting up a new one would likely fall under my jurisdiction a.k.a., Perform Each and Every Thankless Task the Mentally Efficient Avoid.  I realize I feel like setting up a new fax machine even less than resetting the clock on the current one.  Since there is no rest for the bleary I have to figure out how to reset that clock.

I Google: how do i set the clock on the canon cfx-l4000?

Google takes me to a site called FixYa.  Back on November 7, 2007, someone named 1jennylyn asked the exact same question as me.

Approximately six weeks later, a dude named Rob F responds:

“There’s a button marked “Data Registration” in blue. This color means you 1st have to press the function button to make it work. Do this and scroll using the left right up down arrow keys till you find, date and time reg. Then follow your nose.”

I think:

Me:  Huh?

If my nose could talk, it’s screaming:

My Nose:  Leave me the hell out of this!

Did I mention that Rob F shared this solution on Christmas Day?  I suspect he wrote it clad in his underwear and lacks the Will This Make Me Look Like a Loser gene.

Since Rob F’s answer earned Best Solution and I could not find what other solutions he was competing against, even though my personal go-to remedy is one I call Shut It Off, Pull Out the Plug, Eat Something and Then Go Back to It, instinct tells me that will not work in the case of setting the time, so I decide to give his obtuse solution a shot.  Predictably, my nose fails me and I am a baffled button pushing cursing doofus.

Better name of site ConfuseYa.

My colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore) notices that I’m hovering over the fax machine in fury.  I return to my desk to Google another source of solution.  Unaware that I’m in the process of losing even more of the little that remains of my mind, she approaches the fax machine.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Hey, is there something wrong with the fax machine?

I suspect she’s itching to push some buttons, too. I morph into Charles Manson and growl:

Me:  Don’t touch anything!

Hand's off or I'll shoot you.

I find a forum on another site called Fix Your Own Printer.  A first responder named Sharpie is my hero.  This person has a different model of fax machine, the L4500, but he or she thinks that setting the time works the same on both units and writes a description about how to do this in such lucid English for Easily Frustrated Morons I would like to award this person a Nobel.

We're not on Scottsbluff time anymore (but God help my nose when Eastern Standard Time returns)!


Lame Adventure 301: Suicide by Sandwich

I don’t know where my mind was. I was standing at my grocer’s deli counter when a voice that sounds identically like mine speaks to the deli-man:

Voice that Sounds Identically Like Mine:  I’ll have a quarter pound of the chipotle chicken.

Considering my extensive history of gastrointestinal ills, it would have been considerably safer for me to have simply tossed a lit match down my esophagus than to eat the fire-coated fowl I ordered.  Yet, on Monday I did chow down that hot, spicy and heavily seasoned sandwich at my desk at The Grind.

Eat me.

I was in the throes of food porn ecstasy.

That sandwich was truly the best sex I’ve had in weeks.  I could have easily smoked a cigarette after the first half before indulging in the second.  Unfortunately, my dream lover was actually the devil ensconced in a cut-in-half baguette.

Within minutes satisfaction gave way to a firebomb exploding in my stomach and a proliferation of searing intestinal pain.  Pain so rampant it replicated the burning of Atlanta if this historic event would be reenacted inside the confines of my guts.  Guts that are forbidden to go anywhere near citrus, dairy, spice or flavor.  Guts that are usually fed bland bread and tofu sandwiches seasoned with tap water.

As the pain escalated, my left rib started throbbing.  I wondered if the heat from my innards that had transformed into a furnace had somehow cracked that rib.  All the while I sat at my desk nary betraying a hint of my agony excluding some low volume whimpering I stifled when I shoved a ball of string into my mouth that nearly ignited.

My gastroenterologist forbids me from taking any over-the-counter antacids, so a fistful of Rolaids chased with a shot of Mylanta was not an option to smother the blaze raging within.  Instead, I sat, going through the motions of my illustrious job, pushing paper from one side of my desk to the other, tapping a few keys on my computer’s keyboard that spelled jfhs nitvuh kndj yqwcoqwi, followed by loud opening and slamming of file drawers.

All the while my face reddened, hot steam was trailing out of my every orifice, I was sweating profusely, my eyes were tearing and my racing heart was feeling like it was going to explode within my chest cavity.  Delirious, I reasoned that if my ticker would detonate, I would be free to collapse with a graceless thud prompting my colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), to beckon in a concerned tone:

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Hey, are you okay over there?

Quickly ascertaining that I was buying my rainbow, my young friend would bellow in alarm:

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  We need an ambulance!  Does anyone know the number for 9-1-1?

In my Charles Foster Kane moment, with my final breath I utter my last word:

Me:  Chipotle.

My fantasies of taking leave on Permanent Vacation are shattered when my phone rings.  The caller is my buddy Coco.  I speak to her confidentially.

Me:  I’ve just polished off a chipotle chicken sandwich.  My guts are killing me.  I think I’m dying!

She absorbs my plight.

Coco:  I’m jealous!  You get to go home!  What about me?  I’m stuck here and you get to follow the white light?  Oh no, you don’t!

The white light never comes.  I quaff two thirds of the water cooler and survive the near death experience of my sandwich. Since my birthday is coming in ten days, I feel an obligation to my friends and family to stick around a little while longer.  Therefore, I will avoid flirting with The Grim Reaper via spicy sandwich and return to my regular diet of labor camp-style sustenance that I anticipate will eventually bore me to death.

My dear friend, Milton, once accused me of not liking music. What do you say to a misguided assumption like that?

Me: Yes, and I’m not a fan of the taste of water, and don’t forget that I’m addicted to soot and have a natural aversion to fresh air.

What prompted him to think this is that I have never owned an iPod, I seldom attend concerts and when I write, I do so in silence. I reminded him (probably after asking him to repeat what he said) that I have suffered significant hearing loss and I know that ear buds would just expedite my growing impairment. For the record, I do like music and water. As for my soot addiction, I come from a long line of city slickers so that’s genetic.

Something else I like is this fun post Milton has written about who is the greatest singer of all time.

Lame Adventure 300: Blogologues, the Spawn of Blogging and Theater

I confess that I am one of the most anti-social networking blockheads with a blog.  I space my tweets several months apart, I’m on Facebook under a pseudonym, I comment on very few fellow blogger’s sites and it took me at least a year into writing Lame Adventures before I realized that blogging etiquette requires that I respond to readers that take the time to post comments.

One fellow blogger that I did have the brain cells to respond to was Natasia over at  Obviously, my thoughts were instantly provoked when I heard from her because I liked the allusion to sunny urban weather in her blog’s name.  <cough>  Recently, she referred me to one of her blogger buddies, a very talented humorist, Jessica Schnall, who writes Alone with Cats.  Jessica emailed me about Blogologues, the brainchild of co-creators Allison Goldberg and Jen Jamula.

Jen Jamula (left) and Allison Goldberg (right).

Jess is the “third wheel” in this enterprise and was looking for bloggers to see the show and write about it on their sites.  Alli and Jen are also the Co-Artistic Directors of Lively Productions.  Now that I’ve seen Blogologues current production, Younger Than Springtime, they have my nomination for a MacArthur Genius Grant.  I realize that my endorsement will probably get them evicted from their homes, a pair of plantar warts, and a Darwin Award instead.

"Can you just focus on endorsing the show?"

I think that’s tragic.  Why Alli and Jen are such deserving forward thinkers is that they scour the internet for blog posts and other web-based gems that they then stage verbatim.  They have turned blogging, often viewed as a bottom feeding, self-serving outlet for attention whores, into a highly entertaining hour of brisk comedy theater gold.  Before any bloggers reading this squeal:

Any Bloggers Reading This (squealing):  Hey, I have a blog!  I’m funny!  Sign me up!

There’s no application process to Blogologues.  They find you.  So, keep writing those funny posts and keep your fingers, legs and eyes crossed.  For the back-story about WordPress blogger Jessica, read Natasia’s interview with her here.

Younger Than Springtime is comprised of sixteen blog posts crisply directed by David Hilder.  The posts are interspersed with jokes found on various web sites (Twitter, Texts from Last Night, Damn You Autocorrect, When Parents Text, Funny Siri, Overhead In New York, etc.) that are projected on a screen.  The show is an energetic production performed by an ensemble of five actors with impressive skills and spot on comic timing as they slip from one persona into another.

Seriously funny people from left to right: Dave Thomas Brown, Jen Jamula, Matthew Cox, Allison Goldberg, Wendy Joy.

Every member of the troupe had several standout moments, far too many to recount here.  I particularly loved Jen Jamula’s take on Gwyneth Paltrow as depicted in a post written by Amanda Miller from  I read the original post but what made the post even funnier was the addition of Wendy Joy as GP’s subservient maid.

Jen Jamula as a sorority girl reading a post written by Natalia Darque published on

Blogologues opens up the source material.  A post about blooming trees that is barely 100 words long that was published in was significantly more hilarious when set in the 18th Century and recited in a pompously serious tone by Dave Thomas Brown in the guise of a founding father-type.  Allison Goldberg deserves a standing o for a physical joke at the top of the skit that elicited a loud and sustained audience howl.  Ironically this bit of slapstick humor was not written in the source material.  They turned this diamond-in-the-rough post into a gleaming comic jewel.

Allison Goldberg (left) and Wendy Joy (right) in "Passover and Out" posted by Jessica Schnall on

The show winds down with Matthew Cox, a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, portraying the protagonist in a delightfully harebrained post written by Daniel O’Brien, senior writer for, that sends up The Hunger Games.  The precise choreography is sidesplitting as the four other members of the ensemble scramble re-enacting key moments from the film while Matthew tells Daniel’s tale.  Wendy Joy rates a particularly loud shout-out here.  Her contribution to the antics brought to mind Amy Poehler.

Matthew Cox and Jen Jamula performing David Holub's "A Word to the Graduates" posted on

This show is consistently funny and has something for just about everyone as it takes on allergies, various types of humiliation, 4th Graders, Passover, finger gloves, Ryan Gosling, sorority girls, commencement speeches, and that reliable chestnut, outdoor sex.

Dave Thomas Brown waving his gloves that are just for fingers posted by Helen Killer on

This hybrid of comic blog posts cross-pollinated with theater begs to be seen by a wider audience in other cities as wells as New York.  For now Blogologues Younger Than Springtime is currently playing Thursday through Saturday through May 5th at The Players Theatre in Greenwich Village.

The Players Theatre located at 115 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village.

The legendary Minetta Tavern located directly across the street from The Players Theatre.

The suitcase that reeked of skunk I stood next to as I photographed The Players Theatre and the Minetta Tavern.

If you’re a fan of blogs and comedy, and you live near or not too far, Blogologues is a fun date-night show based on a concept that has the potential to catch fire.  Tickets are $18 and in a show of off-off-Broadway audience appreciation this price includes a free drink and a vial of soap bubbles.  Life is fun at Blogologues.

See. This. Show.

Lame Adventure 299: Pointless Mysteries

Although I’m slightly less spiritual than a tube sock, as I was returning to my Upper West Side garret at Magic Hour after another productive day of clock watching on company time, I looked up at the sky and saw this holy card-style cloud formation.

Cloud porn.

It was the type of cloud-cluster that begs for a soprano singing choir soundtrack as a gigantic Supreme Being hand emerges with a pointed index finger.

This finger is pointing out what – the end is near, the end is far, the end has corporate sponsorship so now it’s negotiable and under contract?  Yet this being Manhattan, a more realistic soundtrack when those clouds part would be wailing sirens as that hand emerges, quickly upturns and flips the bird at the Jaded New Yorkers down below muttering in unison at the insult:

Jaded New Yorkers: Now I’ve seen everything!

After snapping my trademark crummy pictures of the mystical cloud formation, my thoughts drifted in the direction of my other recent encounters with life’s mysteries small and pointless.

Hand-free light shaft.

For example, every year, no matter what the holiday, my building has some pleasant reminder of the event.

Fragrant Easter lily.

This past Friday, I encountered my landlady in the subway station that’s three blocks south from my home base.  In a cheerful tone I declared:

Me:  That’s a lovely lily we have in the lobby!

She looked at me with an expression that translates as follows:

My Landlady:  Who the hell are you?

Then, she walked away.  I’ve been renting an apartment in her 18-unit brownstone for almost 30 years.  Possibly I’m being overly sensitive, but one would think there would be a glimmer of recognition that I’m her tenant by now.

My landlady’s inability to distinguish me from the Town Loon  aside, I’ve entered my annual spring funk.  My birthday is approaching soon and friends and family are frequently reminding me about it.  Over the weekend my father called and bleated enthusiastically:

My Father:  I can’t believe you’re gonna be (ickity) four!  How did that happen?

Me:  (Ickity) four happens next year!  Right now, this minute, I’m still (ickity) two!

[Insert awkward pause here.]

My Father:  At least you’ve never been fat.

That’s true but as my metabolism downshifts, I’m not feeling as svelte as I used to.  I’m developing a bit of a paunch and from certain angles in states of undress, I’m looking marsupial.  I know I need to exercise more and it would also behoove me to eat less crap and guzzle less beer.  Over the weekend, I wanted potato chips, but I decided to get the 40% reduced fat variety and limit myself to the recommended serving of just 20 chips, but who ever eats such a puny amount, much less buys the reduced fat version?

Bet you can't eat just 20.

To psyche myself into doing so, I reasoned that I must think as if I’m lost in the woods and I’m obligated to make these rations last to survive.

What 20 chips look like in a bowl with a sneaker.

What 20 chips look like in a bowl sans sneaker.

Then I thought:

Me (thinking):  Who am I kidding?  I’m in an apartment in the heart of Manhattan and I want to pound a high octane beer with these chips.

Yet, I practiced some restraint as I proceeded to inhale my 20 chips in one gulp like an anteater on steroids.  Thanks to my remarkable willpower combined with Mad Men being the only show worth watching on TV, I have yet to chow down the rest of the bag.

Last week at work, after finishing a 16-ounce tea chased with a 10-ounce cup of water, this flood of hydration nearly ruptured my bladder.

Chug a lug.

Fortunately, I could easily win Olympic gold if there was a competition for hightailing from my office to the bathroom in breaking the sound barrier time.  I switched on the light and saw an orchid, a gift to my boss, Elsbeth, soaking in the sink.

"Can a plant have some privacy around here?"

Tortured, I raced back to my office and announced to my superior:

Me:  Your orchid is soaking in the sink!

Elsbeth:  Oh!  I put it there!


Me (screaming inside my head):  Why are you doing this to me when I need to take a piss worthy of a herd of farm animals?

Me (speaking through gritted teeth):  I figured.

Remarkably, Elsbeth heard the earlier unasked question.  She moved the orchid quickly solving at least one more of my life’s pointless mysteries.  Now the orchid is sitting on the sink.

The bathroom orchid.

Lame Adventure 298: Untitled #298. 2012.

I asked my friend Albee if he was available to join me on Good Friday to take advantage of Target Free Friday at the Museum of Modern Art.  He said his only plans that day were to return some library books so we made a date.  After 4 pm on Fridays the $20 admission fee is spotted by the retail giant, Target.  I need a dental cleaning; I so wish they’d pick up that tab.

11 West 53rd Street entrance.

We met outside the 53rd Street entrance about ten minutes to four.  It was busy but there was no discernible line so we stood and chatted.  After we saw Roz Chast, the cartoonist for The New Yorker exit smiling, we decided to enter even though it was now five minutes to four.

Front entrance.

We walked into the bustling lobby and stopped to photograph the poster of the exhibit we were there to see, the 35-year career retrospective of photographer Cindy Sherman.

Dental work needed here.

I knew that the exhibit would prohibit photography.  Albee wanted to head straight for the sixth floor gallery, but I thought we might need a button or a badge to gain gallery entry.  We asked a person sitting at an information desk about this and were told that we needed tickets, “Go out that door, turn right and get one.”

Albee and I mirrored each other’s “how simple can that be” expressions.  We followed orders, marched through a sea of coming and going visitors to exit through a door leading out to West 54th Street.  We saw a few people trickling in.

Albee:  This line’s nothing!

Yet the longer we walked down West 54th toward 5th Avenue, the longer the line grew.  Albee amended his initial observation:

Albee:  I stand corrected.  Will we ever find the end of this line?

After walking past hundreds of people that had the same plans as us, we did finally find the end.  When we did, the line moved quickly and within no more than ten minutes we had our tickets and were back in the museum proper and making our way through the horde to the sixth floor gallery and Cindy Sherman-land.

Free ticket!

Just as I was looking at the “No Photography Allowed” sign, a woman whipped out her iPhone and snuck a shot of the monumental 18-foot tall mural of five Cindy’s standing against a backdrop of a black and white image she took of Central Park.

Cindy Sherman Mural. Photo from MoMA web site.

It really is not necessary to take sneaky pictures with one’s smart phone for much of the exhibit is available on MoMA’s web site.

A man fixated on Cindy wearing a worn expression while clad in what Albee called “a genitailia suit” and holding a plastic sword asked his companion, a woman:

Man:  What’s the message?

Woman: It’s just weird.

Possibly they were confused and thought they were entering an actual Target for free stuff.  For anyone unfamiliar with the work of Cindy Sherman, her subject is primarily herself in various guises and poses.  In earlier days her backgrounds were created with rear screen projections.  Today, she is adept with creating her backgrounds digitally.  She works alone and does all of her own hair, makeup, styling, props, the aforementioned backgrounds, etc.  In the case of her mural, instead of using make-up she made the transformations to her face digitally.  She is such an intense do-it-yourself type, if her images had musical accompaniment she’d probably write her own scores.  The exhibit, comprised of 170 photos, is silent aside from the overheard visitor’s comment such as one woman noting about an image where Cindy appears as four aging party girls that could have been called “Cindy Sherman’s Desperate Housewives”:

Untitled #463. 2007-2008. Photo from MoMA web site.

One Woman Noting (blathering loudly):  Oh look, she’s up there on the right hand side, too!

Albee (mumbling quietly): It’s not “Where’s Waldo”!

Much of what we saw was grotesque, disturbing, vulgar, witty and fascinating – often all at once.  Her career took off with a series of seventy black and white photographs she produced over a three-year period between 1977-1980 called Untitled Film Stills.

Untitled Film Still #6. 1977. Photograph of post card available in MoMA gift shop for two bucks.

These images bring to mind Hollywood, Art House, Film Noir and B-movie starlets of the 1950s and 1960s.  All of them are recognizable types for she has masterfully captured the various women of that bygone era that we can still see any day of the week when we switch on Turner Classic Movies.  Pretty impressive for someone that was only 26-years-old when she completed this series. When I was 26 I had finally mastered separating the darks from the lights when doing my laundry.

Aside from naming all of her photographs Untitled with a number, one of her favorite subjects is clowns.  This one, Untitled #424 elicited one shuddering young man to blurt to his female companion:

Untitled #424. 2004. Photograph of post card available in MoMA gift shop for two bucks.

Young Man: These are creepy man!

I could not have said it better myself.  As impressed as I was with the exhibit, if I was filthy rich and could afford to buy one of her pictures (which have sold for millions), I certainly would not hang it anywhere where I’d ever be alone with it.  There’s an eerie quality to her work and you almost feel the eyes following you.

When she entered middle age she took on women and aging with a vengeance.  Her series, Society Portraits, produced in 2008, are women that appear to be trophy wives of a certain age.  Many of them reminded me of Nancy Pelosi.  This one in particular gave Albee the willies:

Untitled #469. 2008. Photo from MoMA web site.

Albee: I don’t want to ever be married to that.

Another gallery that reeled us in is her History Portraits, a series where she takes on both genders that she produced between 1988-1990 that MoMA has aptly described as “poised between humorous parody and grotesque caricature.”

Untitled #213. 1989. Photo from MoMA web site.

Of course, this same phrase could just as easily describe what one sees while riding the subway at rush hour.  Got unibrow?

The exhibit runs through June 11.  Target Free Fridays start at 4 pm and lasts until closing, 8 pm.  If you visit, do what we didn’t do, get in line on the West 54th Street side of MoMA.  Follow our lead if you’d prefer to escape the crowd when you’re ready to exit, go through the Sculpture Garden, but try not to knock anything down.

Sculpture Garden residents.

Lame Adventure 297: Très chouette

I was walking down Franklin Street in Tribeca near my place of employ when I was distracted from my three favorite topics of mindless thinking – sex, food, and longing for the weekend, by an intriguing window display from an eclectic retailer I have easily blown past hundreds of times called Urban Archaeology.

Hey, look up!

This place is a New York institution that sells elegant bath accessories and high-end lighting to the 1%, but what I think is most cool about them is their collection of architectural salvage.  Years ago when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault on live TV and only found some cigarette butts and gum wrappers, it was probably because this place discreetly got there first.  If there is one retailer in the entire world where you could find the original wheel, this is the place that would have it.

What have we here?

We have this.

The cable TV network Showtime had ten designers in ten cities design specifically themed displays in exclusive store windows to celebrate the second season series premiere of The Borgias on Easter Sunday, April 8.  New York’s theme is Decadence and it’s won my vote for best in show.  This window’s designer, Todd Moore, did a spot-on job conveying extreme excess in a sensual blood-red and gleaming gold setting.

Lounging around.

No room for rubber duckies here.

The gold doubloon sprinkled on the marble floor was another nice detail.

Not foiled chocolate. I tried to eat one. Nearly broke a tooth.

Thoughtfully considering the Catholic elements of the series, that luxurious bedpost is actually a wrought iron gate once used at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  An Urban Archaeology exclusive, it can be yours for a $195,000 blessing.

$195,000 gate doubling as bed post. Pocket change. I'll take two.

Of course, my friends had their nits to pick.  After awarding the display his seal of holy approval, Milton slammed his critic’s gavel on the series and pronounced it:

Milton:  Not that good.

It’s equally possible that Milton could have declared it:

Milton (take 2): Not that bad.

I suggest this because he’s very aware that I can no longer afford premium cable stations on my featherweight wages, so I’m inclined to give the series sight unseen the benefit of the doubt.  Coincidentally, I also kneel at the altar of the actor, Jeremy Irons.

Jeremy and me (look closely).

My former colleague, The Quiet Man, who is now a Massachusetts-based escape artist, has never tuned into the series but he also granted the window display an upturned thumb.  He suggested one improvement:

The Quiet Man: Replace the mannequin with a real woman.

As for me, I’m thinking that bishop’s mitres might be making a comeback now, so I better get mine out of the dry cleaner’s fast.

If you’d like to see the other windows and possibly follow the Lame Adventures lead and vote for Decadence click here.

Vote Decadence today!

Voters are also automatically entered into a sweepstakes to live like a Borgia for five nights (guess you’ll want to sleep all day) in Venice, Italy.