Category Archives: holiday

Lame Adventure 449: It’s the Most Familiar Time of the Year

New Year's Day hangover balloons.

New Year’s Day hangover balloons.

Sixteen hours into January 1, 2015, my holiday season officially entered the ether and the most familiar time of the year resumed. This happened when I encountered my first asshat of the New Year: a chap about my age at my go-to supermarket, Fairway. Fairway is a place where, a few years earlier on another New Year’s Day, the toes of my right foot were nearly severed by a girl not much taller than a walking stick burning rubber on a scooter in the produce section. Apparently, that moppet, with parental approval, was training to compete in the Dakar Rally via the broccoli bin. My market could serve double duty all year round as the Asshat Convention Center of America, or ACCA for short.

Fast forward to the ACCA around 4pm on New Year’s Day 2015. I am patiently waiting my turn in a cue of fellow shoppers to grab a hand basket. The man in front of me takes his hand basket that contains some detritus left behind by previous users of that basket. There is a trashcan nearby at the store’s entrance, but Mr. Asshat upends the trash from his basket into mine.

Me: Was that necessary?

Mr. Asshat looks back at me and cringes, possibly flashbacking on his nagging mother. I swipe out the detritus and dump it in the trashcan he chose to ignore. Sufficiently humiliated, he mumbles an apology before scampering down an aisle in a failed effort to turn invisible. But, I appreciated his civility, unlike the last asshat I encountered in the Old Year: a woman half my age reeking attitude.

She crossed my path on another reliable source of suffering: the New York City subway system. This episode in the series, Meet the Asshat, occurred on my second-to-last train ride before embarking on a two-week hiatus from The Grind.

Ms. Asshat was sitting on the crowded 1 local during the morning rush hour with her legs crossed, determined to give anyone near her the boot.

Shin kicker's boot.

Shin kicker’s boot.

Unlike Mr. Asshat in Fairway, my subway riding survival instinct warned that this was a Code Red Asshat, i.e., someone with the potential to detonate. Don’t provoke her. I got lucky and scored a seat allowing me to escape her foot follies. Everyone else near her came close to getting it in the shin. Her nasty expression screamed f-bomb. Fellow riders shared my cautious vibe and were mute around this volatile asshat. There are times when New Yorkers know to zip the lip.

Days later, I was in mellow mode visiting kith and kin in the San Francisco Bay Area. While in Sausalito with my best friend from college, BatPat, we strolled through a neighborhood of storybook-style houseboats docked on calm waters.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Many of these whimsical vessels belong to artists and writers.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

I flashed on ditching the steady stream of petty irritations that are such a key ingredient in big city life in exchange for the tranquility of a floating nest and the camaraderie of courteous neighbors with cool cats.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Bow's super cool houseboat home.

Bow’s super cool houseboat home.

But whom am I kidding? Within a month, or an hour, my blunt force trauma temperament would surface and I could be the resident asshat in Shangri-la.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

I am allergic to cats, I can’t swim and my astrological sign should be Seasick. I can do mellow by the shot glass, but my personality is frantic by the barrel.

Cool in principle but not for me.

The Neversail Ark: cool in principle but not for me.

Shortly after I returned from my California getaway, I was briskly walking down my block on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was five in the afternoon, a time of day that looks exactly like ten at night in winter, when I found myself doing a double take on what else? A sweating package identified as fresh chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

I don’t know what gave me the willies more: knowing that I reside in close proximity to a New York City asshat who re-gifts fowl, or later that evening, when I went out again and saw that there had been a taker. A few years ago, New York City was besieged with a bedbug epidemic. Have we graduated to salmonella sharing in 2015? Meanwhile, a New Year has dawned once again replete with a new crop of New York City asshats. The time of the year may no longer be the most wonderful, but it is certainly back to being the most familiar.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Lame Adventure 448: Anatomy of a Cronut

One year ago today, on December 29th, 2013, I started riding a spin bike. I also began eating primarily organic while practicing dietary portion control in an effort to shed the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in girth. My effort paid off. I’ve slimmed down significantly and no longer sound like a sputtering steam engine when I climb up a flight of stairs. Over the course of this holiday season, I’ve indulged, but I no longer eat like a starving hog. I consciously avoid foodstuffs that are like crack to me: cookies and chips. Muffins and bagels are not welcome on the menu anymore, either. Sandwiches and deli meat have crossed the line into edible enemy territory. My intake of red meat plummeted, as my consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains skyrocketed. I quaff much less alcohol and pump gallons more water.

Even though I have transformed myself into a disciple of health and fitness, I remain fully capable of savoring a gourmet pastry every once in a while, especially one that is almost as elusive as a winning Powerball lottery ticket: the Cronut. Ever since the Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street in lower Manhattan introduced this croissant-doughnut hybrid in May 2013, the eating public has been under the spell of these celebrated treats. For a while the only way to get one was to wait in a long line hours before the bakery opened at 8 am. Getting into a line at 5 am to pay $5 for a croissant crossbred with a doughnut was an act of masochism I could not bring myself to do. Ansel only bakes 350 a day so they sell out at warpspeed. Earlier this month I heard that Ansel has introduced an online lottery that happens every Monday at 11 am. I am always at The Grind at that time, so I suggested to The Boss that we do this. Elspeth gave this brainstorm her seal of approval and handed me her credit card.

The problem was that there is so much traffic on the Ansel web site, getting through borders on the impossible. All the heavily Photoshopped junk added to Kim Kardashian’s trunk had nothing on breaking the Internet when compared to ordering a Cronut online. The few times I thought I was getting through, my screen would hang or freeze and I’d get booted off the site. This was agonizing. As expected, the Cronuts were selling fast. Just when I was about to give up because Monday through Thursday’s allotment was sold out, I tried ordering two for Friday. A miracle happened and my order entered the shopping cart. But Elspeth is seldom at The Grind on Friday. I paid for the Cronuts myself and I gave my second one to my colleague, Godsend, as an early Christmas present. We had them on my last day in the office before I left for vacation.

The flavor for December was Valrhona Dark Chocolate Raspberry (with a splash of Chambord). What did it taste like? Immediate thought: the food equivalent of the most satisfying sex ever. Second thought: it’s perfectly balanced sweet and buttery layers of flaky pastry that’s simultaneously crunchy, chewy and messy. The delectable fillings, in this case chocolate and raspberry, have a tendency to spurt out. It’s best to eat a Cronut over a plate — what we did.

Suckers waiting on line for Cronuts.

Suckers waiting on line for Cronuts that might sell out before they gain entry into the bakery.

For those who order their Cronuts online, you bypass everyone waiting to buy theirs.

For those who order their Cronuts online, you have VIP status and can bypass everyone else waiting to buy theirs.

Tray of the pastry equivalent of gold bullion: Cronuts.

Tray of the pastry equivalent to gold bullion: Cronuts.

Gold tulip box containing our Cronuts.

Gold tulip box containing our Cronuts.

Voila!

Voila!

Godsend photographing the Cronuts.

Godsend photographing the Cronuts.

Godsend's Cronut shot.

Godsend’s Cronut shot.

Sideview Cronut.

Sideview Cronut.

Overhead Cronuts.

Overhead Cronuts.

Cross section Cronut.

Cross section Cronut.

Leaked raspberry Cronut filling.

Leaked raspberry Cronut filling.

I would consider enduring the torture of ordering Cronuts again online, but I am not in a hurry to do so. Since savoring my Cronut, I wondered about the calorie content. Woman’s Health Magazine reported last October that a single Cronut clocks in at a terrifying 1,330 calories with about 900 calories in fat.

Cronut nutrition facts.

Unpretty Cronut picture.

That is food for thought:

Me (thinking): Holy fried fat balls!

The sodium content alone contains enough salt to spread on a city sidewalk.  Good thing I’m riding that spin bike, but now I’m compelled to ride it to Mars.

The least pretty picture: Cronut grease stains.

The least pretty Cronut picture: grease stains.

For anyone adventurous who would like to attempt to make Cronuts at home, click here for the recipe.

Lame Adventure 447: Christmas Trees Of Gotham – Bitty, Beastly and Best

One of the most enduring symbols of the holiday season wherever you go in the country is the Christmas tree. Here in New York City, Christmas trees are not purchased in tree lots. New York City dwellers purchase their trees from sidewalk vendors.

Trees being pimped on Columbus Avenue.

Trees and wreaths pimped on Columbus Avenue.

For about a four week period from Thanksgiving to Christmas, New Yorkers not only sidestep the usual: each other, kids in strollers, elderly folks moving at a snail’s pace, dog walkers and walking dogs. Added to the daily dance of pedestrian navigation at holiday time is zigging and zagging around a forest of pine trees crowding the corners on what seems like every other block.

How tree-buyers get their trees home is another tale in the playbook of inconvenient. A Christmas tree cannot be delivered like a pizza. Christmas trees are takeout. In the thirty-two years that I’ve lived here, I have yet to see a delivery guy on a bike transporting a Christmas tree in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. New York City Christmas trees are brought home in a variety of ways starting with Manual: the woman I saw walking on upper Broadway struggling awkwardly as she hauled her tree solo. Next up, there’s Happy Teamwork Style: a guy duo effortlessly carrying their firry [sic] friend in tandem.

Not to be confused with this furry friend who is surely wondering, "When is my tree getting here?"

Not to be confused with this furry friend who is surely wondering, “When is my tree getting here?”

Reported in Gothamist was Irritating: a guy riding with his tree on a subway train. I am sure that some people carry their trees home in taxis, or for the privileged with a car, the Traditional Method: tying it to the roof.

Many apartments such as my own thumbnail-size sanctum sanctorum are too cramped to house a tree, so wreaths and mini trees are very popular. My building’s vestibule is decorated with the trinity of holiday adornment New York City-style: a mini tree, a wreath and a poinsettia.

Holiday decorations in Casa de la Shangri-la.

Holiday decorations in Casa de la Shangri-la.

I do not partake in tree or wreath purchasing but I am an avid tree watcher. Pictured below are some trees, infinitesimal to massive, that I have glimpsed in my neighborhood, as well as that iconic one in Rockefeller Center.

Good luck with that.

Planter Tree: good luck with that.

Nice display of stoop trees, but anyone needing to hold onto the banister is out of luck.

Nice display of stoop trees, but flirting with a lawsuit if anyone needs to hold the banister.

Apartment near my laundromat; looks like a tree purchased on Columbus Avenue.

Apartment near my laundromat; looks like a tree purchased on Columbus Avenue or maybe all the trees are wearing red bows in 2014.

Co-op building tree; I'd prefer a lower maintenance over a tree.

La-di-da co-op building tree.

My building's tree.

My building’s knee-sized tree: what rent stabilized tenants rate.

Lincoln Square tree in Dante Park a.k.a. the tree cross the street from Lincoln Center. Next to no one was looking at it.

Lincoln Square tree in Dante Park a.k.a. the 27 foot tree across the street from Lincoln Center.

Radio City Music Hall's glitz - a light show rather than an actual tree.

Radio City Music Hall’s glitz – a light show rather than an actual tree.

To see the Radio City Music Hall holiday tree light show click here.

85 foot 27 ton Norway Spruce attention whore in Rockefeller Center.

85 foot 27 ton Norway Spruce attention whore in Rockefeller Center.

Is it me or does this year’s Rockefeller Center tree look like a massive, misshapen blob in need of a manicure? Smothered in 45,000 lights cannot hide that this behemoth looks like a shaggy oaf. Possibly I’m being critical because I’m not a fan of big and bloated. I naturally gravitate in the direction of small and lean. My favorite holiday trees are not in windows, rooftops, plazas or parks. They do not
attract herds of gaping gawkers from near and far. Here are my favorite trees of this holiday season: The Trees of West 73rd Street.

First up, a sturdy trunk tastefully swathed in red and gold.

First up, a sturdy trunk tastefully swathed in red and gold.

Second tree in blue and silver: a shout out to those that celebrate Hannukah?

Second tree in blue and silver: a shout out to those that celebrate Hanukkah.

Tree Three: a slender number in formal attire ready for New Year's champagne.

Tree Three: a slender number in formal attire ready for New Year’s champagne.

The fourth in the series: Purple Passion tree.

Tree Four decked out in purple and silver  for those celebrating eggplant and flatware.

The fifth and the finest: the candy cane tree.

The fifth and the finest: the candy cane tree lovingly embraced by a bike.

Each West 73rd Street tree exudes New York City attitude and style. If I could have a beer and socialize with a tree, these are the trees for me. If I were able to interview these trees and ask them what they think of the trees purchased on street corners or the trophy trees that stop traffic they’d likely say:

The Trees of West 73rd Street: Fuhgeddaboudit!

Every time I walk past these five trees en route to the subway, no matter how late I’m running or how irritated I’m feeling, seeing these festively dressed trees lifts my spirits. Whoever decorated them did this with personality, care and flare and probably at their own expense. Possibly they did it just because they like seeing them. I know that I sure do. This cool, quirky, “all natural” quintet of trees will not be piled high on the sidewalk in round two of street hogging. What’s round two you wonder? That’s when the Christmas trees of New York City prepare to be converted into mulch. That tradition resumes December 26th.

Tree speck in street: swatch of suicidal pine needles.

Tree speck in street: swatch of suicidal pine needles.

Lame Adventure 446: Radiator Cover Gift Giving

Now that my father is no longer walking the earth this holiday season, my family is reduced to its essence: my siblings, Dovima and Axel, brother-in-law Herb (with a silent h), and my college student niece, Sweet Pea. There are also the animals: Dovima’s dog, Thurber, Fred, her geriatric fish (he’s 9; a year older than Thurber), and Axel’s two cats: Blackie, the feral guard-cat at work, and Bandit, the pampered, at home. Seven of the eight rate holiday gifts from me.

Sorry, Fred, you're screwed.

Sorry, Fred, don’t look so glum, but you’re screwed.

I am famous for saying:

Me: If I can’t get it online, you’re not going to get it from me.

I like fast. I like simple. If I must go to a store, as I did for my sister and Herb’s presents, I go at off hours when I know the crowds will be just the way I like them: anemic. After I exited The Grind on Friday, I blew into a store, found exactly what I wanted to get my sister and brother-in-law, paid, and was back out on the street in six minutes flat Toyota jumping for joy. Almost immediately, I suffered a flash of five alarm fire, heart attack-inducing panic. That was because I brilliantly left their gifts in a convenience store aisle when I absently put the bag down to pick up an eight pack of pocket tissues. Then, I walked away. I made it back to get their presents before the four second window of retrieval granted to preoccupied stumblebums had slammed shut.

On Saturday, I shipped my gifts to my sister’s house on the West Coast. I’ll wrap them during my upcoming visit. The gifts that I’ve ordered online are being shipped directly to her; how I’ve been sending my gifts for years.

Now that Trader Joe’s Brandy Bean season is over, and with necessity being the mother of invention, I rewarded my gift giving accomplishment with a bottle of port and a chocolate bar.

Happy holidays to me!

Happy holidays to me!

As I was entering my building with my treats, I noticed a tire pump outside the door.

Home is where the tire pump is.

Home is where the tire pump is.

I thought:

Me (thinking): My building: the gift that never stops giving.

Once again some nameless tenant, possibly the one who places the cardboard pizza boxes in the recycling can meant for plastic and glass, left this hand me down up for grabs.

Does this person also wear their shoes on the wrong feet?

Does this person also wear their shoes on the wrong feet?

If I were inclined to be Tightwad Incarnate to those near and dear, based on what tenants have left on my building’s radiator cover through the years, there are many offerings I could have given.  I occasionally photograph them. Pictured below is a selection. Often, there are books and magazines. Sometimes, appliances, including computer hardware. Once, a glove I lost was left there and once, I placed a glove I found on there. Hey, pay the good deed forward. With great regret, I did not photograph the samurai sword someone left in the trash a few years back, but that artifact from feudal Japan, or more likely, China via a Canal Street junk store, was not gracing the radiator cover.

This is the radiator cover as it is seldom seen: naked.

This is the radiator cover as it is seldom seen: naked.

Here it is with a trinity of plastic what the hells possibly produced by Acme.

Here it is with a trinity of plastic What The Hells possibly produced by Acme.

Acme what the hells.

Acme What The Hells. But anyone’s for the taking.

Currently, there's a soup pot someone no longer wants.

Currently, there’s a soup pot up for adoption.

And a calendar with both November and maybe December!

And a calendar with both November and maybe December!

In September 2012 there was an empty binder and card stock.

In September 2012 there was an empty binder and card stock.

A month later, there was the ceramic blob.

A month later, there was this glazed ceramic blob.

One summer there was The Mystery Box. It sat around for about a week screaming volumes about the lack of curiosity.

One summer there was The Mystery Box. It sat around for about a week screaming volumes about the lack of curiosity amongst the tenants.

These magazine paper wrapped boxes sat in the vestibule for several days last spring.

Magazine paper wrapped boxes that sat in the vestibule last spring. A few were taken by some schmuck or schmuck-ette addicted to clutter.

The annual Christmas tree that makes my friend Milton's heart melt as if it's a puppy. But I don't think it's up for grabs.

The annual Christmas tree that makes my friend Milton’s heart melt as if it’s a puppy. But I think taking it is theft.

Lame Adventure 443: Test Time

Last month I had an annual checkup. I was wondering if my doctor might notice my fifteen-pound weight loss. She did:

My Doctor: You’ve lost seventeen pounds from a year ago!

Me (thinking): I was seventeen pounds heavier last year? That’s like packing a terrier!

My Doctor: This is terrific. For someone your age, it’s not an easy thing to do. What made you do it?

Me (thinking): Feeling like crap and looking like crap.

Me (saying): I thought things were going in the wrong direction.

I didn’t mention that my gastroenterologist had read me the riot act about my weight, prompting me to invest in a spin bike that I strenuously ride four times a week for forty minutes a session. In addition, I eat significantly healthier and do something highly un-American: practice portion control. I steer clear of processed foods. I am no longer on eating terms with cookies, chips and bread.

On my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

Coincidentally on my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

All year I have been predominantly eating organic: mountains of whole grain, acres of leafy greens and fields of fresh fruit. Gone are the days when I’d slap together a sandwich in twenty seconds and toss a banana in my satchel for lunch at The Grind. Now I spend over an hour preparing cous cous, sautéing tofu and steaming vegetables for a low calorie, nutritious mid-day meal.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

As much as I hate cooking (and the subsequent clean-up), I hate feeling like flab on feet even more. Home cooking fresh ingredients is not only a cheap and healthy way to eat well but it keeps the lost weight off. My formula for staying fit is simple: eat less, eat well and exercise.

But now it is holiday season, a.k.a. eating season. My self-control will be sorely tested. I am not going to be eating less. That pimp, Trader Joe, has brought back one of my favorite seasonal indulgences: Brandy Beans.

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

I bought those the second I saw them — and brought them straight to The Grind. Sharing them with The Boss and my colleague, Godsend, allows me to eat them, but not inhaled in a single sitting, something that could happen if I were alone with them in my sanctum sanctorum.

I will be spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my long-time friend, Martini Max. With a name like that, he’s not the type who guzzles sarsaparilla. Max and I spend Thanksgiving Eve at his man-cave and Thanksgiving Day at his sister’s house. She makes a superb turkey basted in bourbon and butter. I am not much of a turkey fan. I think it’s rather bland, but turkey basted in bourbon and butter is quite tasty. If tradition prevails, Max and I will stuff ourselves royally on alcoholic beverages and appetizers. One year we ate so many deviled eggs, by the time dinner was served, they had expanded so exponentially they completely filled our intestinal cavities. I can say with authority that I know exactly what it feels like to be a hen. This coming Wednesday and Thursday are two days that I intend to thoroughly indulge, but I will practice restraint around those eggs.

In the weeks ahead, there will be more occasions when I will ditch my diet in favor of holiday conviviality, but I will still be riding my spin bike regularly, possibly closer to six times a week at five hour stretches. Come Christmas, my spin bike will remain in New York, cooling off, and I will be with my family. My sister, Dovima, who loathes kale, knocks herself out preparing food. She has some great holiday dining traditions.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

On Christmas Eve, she bakes a spiral cut ham on the bone. She uses the bone to make a terrific split pea soup. Christmas morning, she prepares pancakes and bacon. Christmas dinner, we have Chicken Marsala, a dish she hit on several years ago that everyone likes. There’s usually a night when she serves fresh cracked crab with incredible San Francisco sourdough bread. She also always has a stash of Brandy Beans on site as well as other candy and a bottle of port we quaff together. When I visit, Dovima gets great wine. My niece, Sweet Pea, bakes her brains out. Her specialty: cookies.

This is one test I am destined to fail, but I don’t mind. This is why I time seeing my doctor before holiday season. The masochism of my healthy habits will resume after the New Year.

New Year's Day breakfast.

New Year’s Day breakfast.

Lame Adventure 439: The Annual Halloween Scourge

As Halloween fast approaches, Jack O’Lanterns, black cats, creepy tales about ghosts and goblins abound. But my mind is drawn in the direction of something truly frightening. Something that has nothing to do with apparitions, zombies or cackling witches, but is infinitely more terrifying and gag-inducing:

Candy Corn

Candy Corn.

These pellets of tooth rotting mouth burn have been haunting the US and Canada since the 1880s. Made from all naturally bad ingredients — sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax and artificial coloring, the National Confectioners Association estimates that 25 million pounds of this poison are sold annually.

Doomsday scenario: candy corn, roaches and rats inherit the earth.

Doomsday scenario: rats and roaches feeding on candy corn inherit the earth.

The name candy corn always sounded so appetizing to me as a child. I liked candy. I liked corn. I still like both candy and corn. But every time I ate candy corn I would feel bamboozled.

Me (as a child): This doesn’t taste anything like candy or corn! It tastes awful!

It was too sweet, too fake and if I ate more than two pieces at one time, I would feel like I had a sore throat for three days. To my sensitive palate, candy corn’s most prominent ingredient is irritation with tooth decay a close second. Possibly I am in the minority i.e., someone who is not drawn to foodstuffs that are derived from dual-purpose ingredients. Carnauba wax can also be used on cars, surfboards and to shine shoes. Shoe polish is more appetizing to me. I like its smell, not to imply that I’d also like it spread on a cracker.

As for candy corn’s artificial food coloring, what might it look like without it? Marlon Brando is famous for saying:

Marlon Brando: The most repulsive thing you could ever imagine is the inside of a camel’s mouth.

As I imagine what candy corn looks like in its natural state, hardened repugnant fluids are crossing my mind. I’d much rather take a gander deep down a camel’s gullet, but while wearing nose plugs.

As I think about rank scents, the overly sweet, cloying smell of candy corn is noxious to me. When I whiffed the contents of this bag of it …

Purchased from It's Sugar, first cousin of It's Tooth Decay.

Purchased from It’s Sugar, first cousin of It’s Cavities.

My eyes started watering and I suffered a wave of nausea. If Wayne Newton had been playing on the radio, I would have become physically ill.

It baffles me why something so toxic does not come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Anyone pregnant, nursing or would like to live beyond age sixty should not eat this cacophony of bad chemistry. I looked at a cross section of a piece of one where the bottom fell out. It appeared stuffed with something. My first guess is bad vibes. My second is the active ingredient in toenail fungus.

Candy corn innards.

Candy corn innards channeling Dr. Scholl.

Considering that 25 million pounds of this blight is sold annually, someone must do the unthinkable: eat it. How can this be? Who are these people? Could it be scoring a big hit with small fry who have underdeveloped taste buds? Or, the elderly who are so heavily medicated that their taste buds are obliterated? Who likes these toxic lumps? I want to know. Are they inbred, do they have the intellectual acuity of a small soap dish, do they hail from the town of Stepford?

25 million pounds is 12,500 tons. The Statue of Liberty weighs 125 tons. Who in the US and Canada is contributing to ingesting the equivalent of one hundred statues of liberty made out of sugar, car wax and artificial food coloring instead of the infinitely tastier combination of copper and steel? Here’s a scary thought: could I know someone that eats candy corn? I must, but who could that be? Neither of my parents were candy corn eaters. My dad liked peanuts and my mother, cheese. My siblings and niece are not candy corn eaters, either, and my brother-in-law, Herb, likes waffles. I’m a product of a completely candy corn-free family. But someone in my orbit must be doing his or her part to keep candy corn thriving ever since Grover Cleveland was president. Confounded, I vented my frustration about this bottomless pit of orange, yellow and white scourge haunting every Halloween to my trusted confidant, my best friend, Milton. He responded to my tirade with a photo of his desk at his Grind.

Milton's desk at his Grind.

Sucker punched.

Lame Adventure 426: Am I Being Tested?

I admit that I will never be mistaken for someone who is conducting a passionate love affair with their day job. What I do is label tile, an occupation that is equal to tossing years of one’s life off a cliff, but I make an effort to consciously label tile accurately. Labeling tile is an honest, and at times, a stupid living. A recent example of stupid: I received a delivery of tile samples where I discovered I was missing two tiles. I notified the vendor that I needed two more pieces of three-inch square tile, one in the color, Latte Matte, and the other in Steel Grey Matte. Pictured below is what the vendor sent me in the follow-up delivery.

The story of my life in three tiles.

The story of my life in three tiles.

One of the many reasons why I enjoy living in New York so much is that I love the culture. It’s everywhere including in the street.

It's those krazy klowns: Kim and Kanye!

It’s those krazy klowns: Kim and Kanye!

But I also love the theater. Last week, my friend, Milton, treated me to the current Broadway revival of the musical Cabaret playing at Studio 54 starring Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams. This was my Christmas present. When Milton purchased the tickets in 2013, the best seats available were for this performance in July. We’re two patient people who were fine with celebrating our Christmas in July. For those of you who appreciate feedback about shows (the rest of you skip to the next paragraph): this is a terrific revival of a brilliant musical. We were both entirely in our bliss. Alan Cumming has been playing the role of the Emcee off and on since 1993. He was born to play this seductive character. Milton noted that for a guy who is not very handsome, Alan Cumming is so charismatic in that role, he becomes the sexiest guy in the world. This revival is a first for Michelle Williams who had never appeared on the Broadway stage before. She’s cast as Sally Bowles, a role I had only seen on film played extraordinarily by Liza Minnelli. Michelle plays Sally as someone sincere but with minimal talent. Her Sally is infinitely heartbreaking. When Liza powerfully belts the title song, Cabaret, in the film, I recall feeling uplifted. When Michelle’s Sally sings it earnestly on stage, I had the impression that she’s thinking that she’s going to follow the lead of the friend who died “from too much pills and liquor”. She was so vulnerable. We thought she did a fine job in that pivotal role. It’s a shame that she did not score a Tony award nomination. We thought she got robbed. It was a great night of theater in New York City.

Usually, Milton and I find ways to get discounts on our theater ticket purchases. One way is to subscribe to a theater company’s season. One of the theater companies we subscribe to is the Public Theater. Recently, we had to order all of our tickets for the 2014-2015 season. We got great seats at great prices on all the dates we wanted. I had the tickets mailed to my apartment. Imagine my dismay when I opened my mailbox to find our tickets in this envelope. My friend, Coco, suggested it could double as a skateboard ramp.

Special delivery.

Special delivery.

It rained buckets that day, but if my letter carrier had a beef with Mother Nature, was it necessary to direct the hostility on our theater tickets? This person had to shove our ticket envelope into my letterbox, and then they rolled and plunged two catalogs and that week’s issue of The New Yorker on top of the envelope. This took concentration and force. I told Milton that I sniffed the envelope and was relieved that it did not noticeably smell like urine.

There are days when I don’t feel like labeling tile samples, but I’m not going to take a hammer, smash them to smithereens, and send them off for display. By doing my job relatively whole assed, I can afford to attend the theater. As for my letter carrier, I’m unsure what to think other than I’m irked.

Irked!

Irked!

I wish he or she would invest in another way to express hostility, preferably far away from my mail, possibly at a more appropriate place like an active volcano. Occasionally, I have to junk discontinued tile samples. Maybe I should offer them to my letter carrier to throw when feeling rage.

At least our tickets are smiling.

Our tickets are smiling.