Tag Archives: romance

Lame Adventure 421: My First Love

This isn’t the tale about the fetching ten-year-old blue-eyed blonde haired Latina vixen waiting to kick my ass in the schoolyard, encouraged by a devious sixth grader who claimed that I was sweet on her boyfriend, a guy with as much appeal to me as a dented hubcap. Vixen perched on the flagpole’s concrete base eating her breakfast: Fritos. When I entered the playground she called me over by my last name. I sensed danger; she was the type that reeked attitude. She also didn’t talk to innocuous kids like me. Even though I was a year older, she towered over me, a whippet thin and pasty white comic-bookworm. I kept my cool, walked over and groused, “Yeah, what?” My lack of intimidation threw her off her tough girl game. I might have been small but I was feisty, confident that I could talk my way out of this predicament. She got nervous and stammered, “You, you, you like Richie! I don’t like that!” I looked her straight in the eyes and said in a definitive tone, “You’re mistaken. I don’t like him.” Even though her complexion was dark olive, her face flushed crimson. I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen in my eleven years. She was flummoxed, unsure of what to do next. It was a standoff. I wondered if I was about to say ‘adios’ to my teeth. Instead, she offered me her Fritos. We also shared chemistry and she ditched Richie. Decades later, I’m still finding same sex love in the most unlikely places, but to reiterate, this tale is not about that, it’s about another of my life long passions: animation.

When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco, I had a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons with my favorites being any fare pumped out by Warner Brothers — Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. When I reached my teens in the Seventies I caught a screening of Disney’s Fantasia at the Larkin, a movie house that seemed determined to play the re-release of this masterpiece in perpetuity. It featured the early work of the animator John Hubley. He participated on “The Rite of Spring” segment. At that time I was enrolled in the Teenage Animation Workshop at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Not only did kids get hands on experience animating their own films, the instructors enlightened us about the pioneers of the craft, including Hubley, whose frequent collaborator was his wife, Faith.

Hubley left Disney in 1941 during the animators’ strike. Next, he joined United Productions of America where he created Mr. Magoo, based on an uncle. Due to the blacklist, he was forced to leave UPA because he refused to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Next, he founded his own company, Storyboard Studios. There, he made animated TV commercials, including the Maypo cereal ads.

With Faith, he continued to direct his own independent animated films, films that resonated with me. They often featured soundtracks with jazz greats. My favorite Hubley film is a timeless six-minute impressionistic love story made in 1958 called The Tender Game. The soundtrack features the Oscar Peterson Trio with Ella Fitzgerald delivering a satin smooth vocal on the song, Tenderly.

When I first saw this film about forty years ago, I was certain I wanted to be an animator. When I informed my mother about my goal, her reaction was comparable to what a mom of today might think if her daughter announced that she aspired to be a pole dancer. 1974 was decades before the arrival of Pixar. Animation, particularly the independent style of animation, was a guaranteed one-way ticket to the poorhouse. My mother feared that she and my father would be stuck supporting me forever. In college, I shifted gears and earned my degree in live action filmmaking. I worked for almost ten years in TV commercial film production. Eventually, I lost interest in making films on my own, preferring to write unmarketable screenplays.

In honor of the centennial of John Hubley’s birth, Manhattan’s Film Forum is holding two tribute screenings of his work. The first screening, this past Tuesday, included The Tender Game.

Ray Hubley delivering an introduction about his father before the screening.

Ray Hubley delivering an introduction about his father before the screening.

I attended with my colleague, Godsend. It was a delight to see this classic short in a pristine 35 mm color print.

When an event is shown for one screening it doesn't make the marquee.

Film Forum under blue skies.

Considering that this weekend starts summer, and all the promises that come during the warm weather months, embedded below is a crummy quality YouTube video of The Tender Game. The story is set in the fall, but falling in love is not seasonal, unless I missed that memo. Even though the characters are abstract the emotion is familiar, and the overall effect is quite charming.

 

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Lame Adventure 364: Favorite 4-letter F-word

Yes, that word is indeed free. The one that rhymes with luck is a close second. This is a Lame Adventure that touches on both, free and luck, but first some roundabout way of getting to where we’re going.

The current issue of Time Out New York is emblazoned with a headline screaming: WHY NYC IS THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD. There were three sub-headings, too: Best sex shops, Subway film series, and Splashy new seafood. Clearly New York City has it all from sex to film to fish.

Great story about the greatest city.

Great story about the greatest city.

The magazine lists 50 facts proving New York City’s superiority ranging from the iconic skyline, to bars that are open until 4 am, to bodega cats. One of my favorite city factoids is “Because New Yorkers live longer than almost anyone else”.  Apparently the third oldest person in the country is a New Yorker, 113-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones.  TONY thinks that a factor in the average New York City resident living two years longer than the national average is that the residents here “walk more than other Americans and eat fewer trans fats …”

I was recently walking down West 20th Street in Chelsea en route to volunteer usher an off-Broadway play staged at the Atlantic Theater Company, The Lying Lesson, written by playwright Craig Lucas.  In this drama, Carol Kane plays screen legend Bette Davis circa 1981. She travels to a coastal town in Maine for the dual purpose of purchasing a house and to reconnect with a flame from her youth. There are some spot on moments when she rails bitterly about her dead rivals, Joan Crawford and Miriam Hopkins.  Carol Kane captures the essence of Davis. It officially opens Wednesday, so that’s when the critics will weigh in.

Bette David eyes or Carol Kane eyes on poster?

Bette Davis eyes or Carol Kane eyes on poster?

As I was a block away from the theater, I heard an unseen woman exuberantly scream out the window of an apartment building:

Unseen Woman: I’m in love! I’m in love! I’m in love!

Next, I heard an unseen man scream, with a degree of exuberance to complement the woman’s:

Unseen Man (screaming): Yeah!

I resisted chiming in:

Me: I’m in turmoil! I’m in turmoil! I’m in turmoil!

Actually, I was rather charmed by the mystery woman’s declaration, but I wondered if the man was the woman’s source of joy or just a guy that heard her and was infected with her happiness?

When I checked in at the theater I met my co-usher; a pleasant woman around my own age who was wearing very cool glasses. We did not have to stuff Playbills, so we had time to kill before the house opened. My co-usher observed:

Co-usher: When I first saw you, I thought you were Fran Lebowitz.

I hear that occasionally, even though Fran is almost a decade older than me, makes piles of money, and is a very heavy smoker, so heavy that she advocates for smokers’ rights.  In comparison I am a pauper and such a dedicated non-smoker, I hate it when I have to walk behind a smoker on the street, even if that smoker is a sardonic wit who’s been compared to Dorothy Parker.  My co-usher, in an effort to play up her powers of lookalike observation added:

Co-usher: On the way here I saw someone that looked just like Johnny Mathis.

Me: Maybe it was Johnny Mathis?

Co-usher: It was a woman.

After the gig I was once again walking on West 20th Street en route to the subway train uptown.  There was no more yelling from the rafters about being in love, but I was now feeling pretty good since I enjoy seeing theater for free, something else that I think is terrific about living in New York City.  Fortunately, for my continued longevity, I had the capacity to resist blurting at the top of my lungs:

Me: I’m a volunteer usher! I’m a volunteer usher! I’m a volunteer usher!

Screaming that might get me smacked in the kisser with an airborne can of kitchen cleanser. The dense powdery kind. Then I looked down on the sidewalk, and I did have a very pleasant surprise; I saw a crumpled ten-dollar bill.

Actual crumpled ten bucks photographed later.

Same crumpled ten bucks photographed later.

No one that could have owned it was around, so I pocketed it.

With a spring in my step I entered the 18th Street subway station ten clams heavier only to see the electronic message board announce that all uptown local trains were running with delays.  Immediately, my world reverted to normal. I had the opportunity to use my second favorite 4-letter F-word. The one that rhymes with luck.

Lame Adventures 361: Air Raiding

Because a room with a view has always been preferable to one without, the price of air in New York City is becoming more expensive. Yes, the air is for sale, but not on sale.

Robin Finn, The New York Times, “The Great Air Race

This story is about real estate developers that build glass, steel and soulless monstrosities. They’re purchasing air rights. These rights, from surrounding low-rise properties, can cost the developers millions of dollars.  The sellers can make some serious change on these very lucrative deals. The downside for the sellers, as well as surrounding tenants, is living in the gaping shadow of a mile high blight.  Owning the area’s air rights basically guarantees that rich swells that buy into these flashy towers will have rooms with views and sun. So, yes, there is now an expensive price tag on the Big Apple’s air.

Even if I could somehow afford to live in a Blade Runner-style high rise, where I’d have to slather my chalky white pelt with SPF 110 rated sunscreen just to take a gander out the window at New Jersey, I’d take a pass.  I like small.  I like low.  I’m not into blinding sunlight, either. This is not to imply that I’d welcome living in a dark and dreary ground floor cell that faces a brick wall.  I do appreciate many of life’s modern amenities — running water, a working stove, a bed the size of Texas.

Overall, I prefer a dwelling with character.  I’m a fan of original moldings, high ceilings, exposed brick, carved staircase railings, pocket doors, bay windows, and if there’s a gargoyle or some museum-worthy sculpture jutting out of the stone façade, better yet.  Buildings built in the 19th and early 20th centuries are much more easier on my eye than any modern air-owning behemoth influenced by Jenga.

Houses on West End Avenue oozing character and probably high rent.

Houses on West End Avenue flaunting character.

Classic architecture strikes me as being built to last.  For example, if the ceiling caved in on me while I was visiting the Apthorp, Ansonia or Dakota, three coveted Upper West Side addresses, I imagine that I’d get killed instantly.

The Apthorp from behind.

The sturdy Apthorp from behind.

This is not exactly a comforting thought, but at least my suffering would end rapidly.

The Apthorp's rear entrance on West End Avenue.

The Apthorp’s rear entrance on West End Avenue.

In contrast, there is the ultra modern (circa 1975) Calhoun School, an architectural eyesore a few blocks north of where I live. On the plus side, it is a low rise.  On the negative, this building was intentionally designed to resemble a TV set.

If I stand in front of the Calhoun School long enough, will I get to see The Simpsons?

If I stand outside the Calhoun School long enough, will I get to watch Letterman?

If the Calhoun School’s ceiling were to fall on me, it does not strike me as a building made from the dense bedrock used in the more stately homes of my neighborhood.  Therefore, it is possible that if I was smacked with a chunk of the Calhoun School, I might survive that mishap, albeit paralyzed from the tongue down and left to suffer for decades. Another Calhoun School factoid: in 2004, four additional floors were added.  It now looks to me like an obsolete Seventies era TV with a pile of crap on top.

Even though a room with some view is nice, pictured below is the current view outside the window of my sanctum sanctorum.

Entertaining.

My entertaining view of urban wildlife.

I cannot claim when I invite a guest to my lair, I’m inclined to suggest in a seductive tone:

Me: Hey babe, check out the pigeon sleeping on the air conditioner outside my window.

I’m more inclined to entertain my guests in infinitely more creative ways rather than relying on purchasing a view in the stratosphere that would easily cost my life savings, if a collection of commemorative quarters could serve as a down payment.  Who needs a view when my guest and I can take turns reciting poetry, painting (my bathroom for starters), or I could serenade her with a rendition of Ho Hey on spoons slapped against my naked thigh?

Check out my commemorative quarters collection!

Check out my commemorative quarters collection!

I cannot deny that nighttime views of the bright lights in this big city can be romantic.  But, if the owner/occupier of that view is a shallow bore, it would be comparable to watching a TV test pattern or the Calhoun School’s cafeteria wallpaper.  Therefore, if I were in the company of someone enticing, I’d feel privileged to snuggle in a brownstone’s fifth floor attic apartment facing a bustling avenue.  In that case, I would hardly mind if every molecule of the air outside were owned by the Fat Cats of Gotham City.

If we get bored inside we could always indulge our sense of vertigo on the roof.

Rooms without a view that look cool to me

Lame Adventure 360: In the Mood for Sap

I have been so busy working on the final stages of My Manhattan Project, a project that I will unveil in the not too distant future, that Valentine’s Day almost completely missed my radar … aside from the gourmet cupcake that my boss, Elsbeth, sprang for.

If I were inclined to marry a cupcake, this would be The One.

If I were inclined to marry, this would be my soul mate.

Back to the present, here’s a Lame Adventures-style love story for sappy romantics:

That First Kiss

by

Lame Adventures-woman

Even though I bear a striking resemblance to a Chia Pet, I have had a fair amount of success with the lasses that prefer their women fuzzy and awkward.  Currently, I am dating Marketa.  My father, who is deaf as a post, refers to her as Marketing, a name that has stuck in my head.  To avoid any possible slips of the tongue, I have taken to calling my beloved, M.  She has a term of endearment for me, too: Yawn.

M and I met two years ago July in the upscale ablutions store she manages.  This is one of those stores where the staff wears white lab coats as they ring up a bottle of 8.4 oz oatmeal fortified shampoo to the tune of twenty clams.  A word to the wise: if you crave oatmeal on a chilly Saturday, but you’re too hung over to trot up the street to the store, so you nuke a third of a cup of your shampoo instead, suffice to say you’ll find yourself belching soap bubbles well into Tuesday.

Or, so I’ve heard that could happen.

When I met M on a Wednesday, she looked very thought provoking in her white lab coat.  Actually, I could barely concentrate on why I was there, ostensibly to replenish my significantly depleted bottle of shampoo, but I was so discombobulated ogling her I mistakenly purchased a similarly sized container of canine flea powder instead.  This gaffe proved fortuitous since it allowed me to return for another encounter with this vixen of my dreams.  To control my newly acquired white lab coat fetish, I reminded myself to think repeatedly of my similarly attired dentist, Ira Kluckhorn, who is also a dedicated practitioner of halitosis.  This helped me exchange the silly grin on my face for an expression akin to the gag reflex.

While exchanging the bottle of flea powder for oatmeal fortified shampoo, M and I shared a delightful dialogue.  Holding a pen in preparation for taking notes, M asked, “Is there a specific reason why you’re returning the flea powder?”

I offered, “For starters, I don’t have a dog. In addition, I keep my personal flea and tick problem under control with a sensitive skin unscented beauty bar.  Plus, I wanted to see you again.”

M scribbled, “TMI.”

She suggested, “We have an unscented beauty bar for dry, scaly skin like yours that I highly recommend.” Intrigued, she asked,  “Do you have any body piercings or tattoos?”

I reflected, “I have a single scar.  I once unintentionally crucified my left thumb with a staple gun.  I also happen to have a wide array of liver spots.  Do they count? One resembles a vuvuzela.”  Then, I wondered aloud, “Is your beauty bar available in a multi-pack for $5.99-ish?”

M matter-of-factly replied, “No.  Ours is only available by the three-ounce bar for eleven dollars each.  I love the vuvuzela.  It’s so melodic.”

I pondered her response for the length of a palpitation.  “Bargain.  I’ll take two.  Will you go out with me sometime, maybe to a concert featuring a vuvuzela-ist?”

She scribbled her number on the back of her business card and cooed, “I’m busy, but call me.  In November – after Thanksgiving.”

Encouraged, I spent the following four months organizing my humble abode into Venus Flytrap shape.  When Black Friday arrived, I called M.  The chat was overwhelmingly flirtatious.

“Hi!  Last July, you told me to call you after Thanksgiving.”

M asked, “Who is this?”

I reminded her about our flea powder exchange and her affinity for the vuvuzela. Then, I cut to the chase, “Would you like to see a film, concert, play or maybe all three in an evening with me?”  I considered adding “naked” but thought that suggestion might be premature.

M said she recalled my liver spot, and added, “Why would I go out with you?”  I explained that I was quite sure that she was a believer in love at third sight.  Then, I dropped the charm bomb, “I’m not a serial killer.  I’ve hardly ever been to Long Island.”  We started dating a week later, but M insisted on taking things slow.

I suggested that she don her white lab coat for it might be easier for me to recognize her were she clad in it.  M groaned, “You’re not one of those freaks that’s into me for that lab coat, are you?”  Quickly, I backtracked, “Wear whatever you like,” and suggested for added measure, “Or don’t wear anything at all!”  Maybe she’s a nudist!

For the next four dates, she wore a frock that distinctly resembled a burka.

Eventually, our relationship blossomed and I was confident that I could share a kiss with M without incurring too many of the maneuvers she had recently learned in a self-defense class she’d been taking.  Yet, I wanted that kiss to be magical and occur in a place with both privacy and lighting that would shave a few inches off my nose.

I recalled a quaint alley in lower Manhattan and surmised that if we were not mugged, she raped, and I murdered, this could yield a very romantic dividend.  Although we were heading to a play in Midtown, I insisted traveling there via this downtown alley would be resplendent.  As we neared the alley, I grabbed her hand and quickened our pace.  Just when I was about to pull her into a doorway for a Technicolor moment of bliss, we both slammed our brakes.  There was an unseemly splash of vomit that could have easily filled an Olympic-sized pool.  This prompted me to suggest, “Maybe it would behoove us to take a cab to the theater after all.”

Later that night, M took it upon herself to kiss me under a dogwood tree. It was a kiss that was memorably tender, caring and loving.  Such a nice offset to the five minutes of dry hacking I suffered afterward due to it being allergy season.