Tag Archives: boredom

Lame Adventure 374: Disappearing Act

Over the years I have seen many plays and musicals with Milton. Nothing is better than seeing theater magic with one’s dearest friend and fellow theater whore. But every so often, we draw the short straw and see a dud. That is exactly what happened the other night when we attended the Lincoln Center Theater production of Nikolai and the Others.

Nice cover.

Nice cover. When can we go home?

Since we’re members of LCT, we get the discount ticket price, $40. Non-members pay $85. When we see theatrical gems like South Pacific for pennies on the dollar, we gloat, but when we see the theatrical equivalent of a sedative, we snore.  Or at least I did.

The play was set in the Connecticut countryside in 1948 where several prominent Russian artists living in the US have gathered for a languid talk-filled weekend. They talk, they eat, they talk more and I sleep. George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky are two of the characters. They’re collaborating on adapting “Orpheus” into a ballet. We even see a small preview of that ballet as imagined as a work-in-progress dance by the playwright Richard Nelson and the director, David Cromer. I regain consciousness for that dance segment, but when intermission finally arrives a fortnight later, I blurt:

Me: I feel like I’m being held hostage!

Milton blurts back:

Milton: If you want to leave right now, I’m completely okay with it!

Was I content with attending only $20 worth of this production? Even though I completely lost consciousness through approximately $18.47 worth of my ticket’s price, I have a natural aversion to walking out on shows that cost me my hard earned shekels. I reason that I can survive sitting though another hour of this yak-fest, but if we left early, I can also get a jump on cleaning my bathroom, a project that would be so much more stimulating. Milton senses my ambivalence about what to do. He turns Ninja and goes for the kill.

Milton:  What if you only have one hour of life left? Would you really want to spend it watching this?

What a horrible way to go, literally bored to death. I know I hate this play, but maybe there’s a pleasant surprise in the second act, maybe there’s a live animal on stage. Last month, when we saw the flaccid Broadway adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s there was a cat actor playing the cat called Cat. Milton observed about the cat that played Cat:

Milton: The cat was the only actor on stage that I liked.

Me: The cat’s what got me through it.

We later learned that we were actually watching the cat understudy for it did not look like either cat in our Playbill, Moo or Vito Vincent.

Mystery understudy cat at our performance?

Mystery understudy cat at our performance?

Back to our more recent situation with Nikolai, Milton reads his Playbill. His eyes widen in horror.

Milton: Oh, my! We just saw the short act. It runs another hour and a half after intermission!

Less than five minutes later, Milton and I are out on the street breathing in the cool night air. We embrace our liberty. Milton declares for all to hear on upper Broadway:

Milton: I much prefer breathing, walking, moving, anything to having to watch any more of that!

Me: Why was it even staged? It’s not very theatrical.

Milton: Michael Cerveris [the actor who played Balanchine] must have an expensive mortgage. Were you awake for any of it? Every time I looked over at you, you looked asleep.

Me: I enjoyed watching the actress that played the ballet dancer Maria Tallchief.

Milton: You liked her? How could you? She was so thin! All I saw when I looked at her were bones. Bones sticking out everywhere! Ugh! Eat a sandwich, please!

Me:  Date-wise, yes, I prefer women I’m not going to cut myself on, but I thought the dance sequence was good. Did you at least like the guy?

Milton: Yes, I did. He was beautiful. What buns on him!

Me: If you were so fixated on his ass, we could have stayed.

Milton: Those buns of fun weren’t enough to keep me in my seat.

When I return home, I finally read Ben Brantley’s review in the New York Times. This is my favorite passage:

“”Nikolai and the Others,” … cannot be recommended to people of limited patience. Honesty compels me to mention that there were an appreciable number of empty seats after intermission and that the elderly fellow behind me, who stayed on, snored heartily through most of the second act.”

Can of Red Bull atop trash can outside my building when I returned home. I would have needed at least three to retain some semblance of consciousness during that play.

Can of Red Bull atop trash can outside my building when I returned home. Every Nikolai audience member should receive a complimentary one with their Playbill.

Lame Adventure 164: Earwax or butterscotch?

It’s the usual dull days of winter at work.  The afternoon was crawling along so anemically, it was if the sands of time fell grain by grain.   I stared slack-jawed and bleary-eyed at my computer screen reading editorial copy written by my Lord & Master, Elsbeth.  She had repeated “traditional” three times in the span of seventeen words.  As Elsbeth struggles to write her prose, I struggle to maintain consciousness while editing that prose, but often I fail and my mind wanders.  While reading a sentence about glaze character, I can just as easily find myself wondering what I’ve lost more – change in couch cushions, socks at the laundromat, or sight of my life’s goals.

As Elsbeth’s handpicked assistant, emphasis on first syllable pronounced with a short a, and an alleged wordsmith, (pronounced with a loud, “Ha!”) one of the many hole-riddled chapeaus I don is as my liege’s editor.  Generally, how we write together is Elsbeth writes the copy first, I edit her, and she edits me.  This goes on and on until one of us collapses, enters a coma, or cries uncle.

As I sat multitasking — scrutinizing my superior’s text and counting the minutes before I could make my escape in the direction of something alcohol-infused, my sidekick, Greg, crept softly over to my desk and announced confidentially:

Greg:  Earwax.

In slow motion I roused out of my stupor, and looked over my shoulder preparing to fire back:

Me:  Is that your password, the name of your favorite band or your Twitter handle?

Standing before me my right-hand-and-left-middle-finger-man proudly displayed the thick coating of dark orange glue saturating a sheet of mesh-mounted mosaic.

Ta da!

Confirming Greg’s eagle eye for the repulsive, Ling declared:

Ling:  Ew that does look like earwax!

Encouraged by Ling’s disgust, Greg entered Elsbeth’s domain and again delivered his announcement.

Check this out!

I tuned out their discussion but Elsbeth followed Greg back into the sleepy minion pit merrily announcing:

Elsbeth:  Butterscotch!

My leader stood before my desk, eagerly awaiting my vote, but I lacked the energy to feign agreement.  I didn’t buy that copy, either, and frowned.  The cheer drained from The Boss’s face.

Elsbeth:  All right, it’s earwax.

Deflated, The Boss returned to her office.  I dropped my head atop my keyboard’s space bar while impersonating the hum of a weed whacker until quitting time.  Then I regained full consciousness, ambled my way down to the uptown express train fleet of foot, but made sure that the spring in my step did not catapult me into the track’s third rail.

Lame Adventure 37: Death on the Premises

It is 12:35 on a weekday morning.  Greg and I are at work standing in our warehouse.  We have just finished discussing some tile minutiae and he confides that he’s hungry.  Considering that most mornings he breakfasts on two cigarettes and three cups of black coffee, this admission doesn’t surprise me.  I feel fine having stuffed myself royally with a bowl of flavor-free organic oat sop a few hours earlier.

Me:  You gonna go to lunch now?

Greg:  Yeah, in a few minutes.

Me:  Should we get Elsbeth out here to take a quick glance at the layout for these boards you have to build?

Greg:  Sure.

Me (mumbling as I enter our office):  This should take two seconds.

I enter our boss’s office and ask her if she can take a moment to make a few mundane, routine decisions so Greg can proceed with his next cluster of projects.  Elsbeth walks with me to our warehouse where she inspects our layouts, and gives everything her seal of approval.  Now Greg is ready to jet in the direction of chow.  Just before returning to her office Our Dear Leader notices some sheeted glass.

Elsbeth:  What’s that?

Greg:  Basketweave.  I like it.

Elsbeth (pleasantly pleased):  It is nice, isn’t it?

Elsbeth turns towards me.

Me:  It reminds me of worms.

Elsbeth ignores my contribution to editorial comment.  She focuses her attention on how we can best display this material.  For the next half hour Greg and I are trying to help her solve this problem, running in and out of the office, digging through boxes, shuffling through samples in drawers in a futile search for some field tile or border that might work with it.  Nothing is quite right, until Elsbeth recalls a dusty two-ton display board packed with marble moldings she’s squirreled away behind my desk.

Meanwhile, Greg’s empty stomach is silently screaming, but Elsbeth is oblivious to his torture.  I conclude that Greg would make a model hostage, and remind myself to tell him to add that talent to his resume.  After another ten minutes of close scrutiny comparing the moldings board against the sheet of glass basketweave, Elsbeth has a very low-key “Eureka!” moment.  Display decisions are reached.  Even though Greg is ready to eat twenty square feet of salted ceramic tile right now, he stoically endures his own discomfort and does all the heavy lifting so I do not have to put anything away.  Then, 45 minutes after first telling me that he was feeling quite hungry Greg is finally free to leave for lunch.

Elsbeth and I follow Greg back out into the warehouse to talk about something else tile-related, when we hear him cry, “Awwwwwwwwww.”  He is standing near the door looking down at the floor.  Apparently, a little mouse, is in the process of dying at his feet.  Now, Elsbeth and I are saying, “Awwwwwwwwww.”

Greg:  What should we do?  I almost stepped on it!

Me:  Put it in a cup.

Greg gets a cup and scoops our dying visitor into it with a piece of cardboard.

Greg:  Do you think he’s dying because he ate some poison?

I look at the suffering little critter drawing its final breaths.  Even though I am not a mouse-ologist, I share an affinity for this helpless captive, checking out in clear plastic.  One can only hope its now in a better place, one full of cheese and sex.

Me:  No, I think this poor creature’s dying of boredom having overheard our discussion about how to display that basketweave tile.

RIP Little Bored to Death Mouse