Tag Archives: tile

Lame Adventure 139: Vacation!

It’s taken me fifty weeks to get here, but I’m finally on a seventeen day hiatus away from my job as the Minister of Tile, the crowded New York City subway system, bowls of taste lacking twigs for breakfast, and equally boring sandwiches for lunch that I chow down while staring dully at my computer screen when not envying the pigeons outside my window.

"We're free, you're caged!"

Essentially flavor-free, too.

Before leaving my place of employ on Friday, I wrote a list of what I need to remember to do upon my return on January 4th, so I am fully free to completely delete all things tile from my mind between now and then.

The Vagina Tile, I will forget about you! (Not really)

Is it barf or brownie tile, I will forget about you.

As liberating as it is to not find myself subject to Elsbeth, my boss, and one of her four questions that usually start with could you, did you, would you or can you, nor having to issue any dictates to my sidekick, Greg, that I start with “we” even though he knows as well as me, that I mean “you”, my first task this hiatus is to thoroughly clean my sanctum sanctorum.  Housecleaning does not rate very high on my to do list like seeing the Houdini exhibit currently on display at the Jewish Museum.  I so wish I could perform some abracadabra on vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting.

Crummy subway train poster photo of what appears to be a very interesting exhibit.

One bit of procrastination I seized this morning was responding to Zappos request for a product review of the black leather Jack Purcell sneakers I purchased in November.  I seldom write product reviews but since I’m on vacation and have switched gears from feeling sluggish about my get rich slow job to feeling sluggish about housecleaning, I discovered a level of enthusiasm for waxing at length about my sneakers I never realized I possessed.

Good sneaker, but runs a bit wide.

This weekend Milton and I got together for the last time until after I return from visiting my family for Christmas.  We ended our year of theatergoing the way we started it, by attending a work written and directed by one of our favorite up and coming playwrights, Young Jean Lee.  I don’t know what I mean by calling her “up and coming” since she’s 36-years-old, she’s been around for seven years, and has been subject to positive reviews in the mainstream press i.e., The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, etc.  I suppose when she writes her big breakthrough hit and is welcome in Utah she will have fully arrived and our interest will have waned.

Meanwhile, Young Jean’s work remains as original, challenging and edgy as ever.  Her subjects range from religion (Church), race (The Shipment), her take on Shakespeare’s King Lear (Lear), to now, feminism.  I am certain that she could create a theater piece around a can opener and we would find it provocative.  Her latest, a work-in-progress called, Untitled Feminist Multimedia Technology Show, recently played for four days between December 16th through 19th at the New Museum.

Closed December 19th, but hopefully will return when further developed.

Following a witty impromptu introduction by Young Jean herself, this ambitious work with an unwieldy title opens with intentionally corny stock footage video.  The show that follows is packed with intriguing and hilarious debate that both mocks and questions what is feminism.  The discourse is interspersed throughout with naked nymphs dancing – some lean, others large, prompting this exchange between Milton and I over beverages afterward:

Me:  I think I’m much too hard on my body.

Milton:  Hell!  After looking at those women, I should tear off my shirt and call myself Clark Gable!

Click the link below to hear Young Jean’s take on the holiday spirit as she sings the wonderfully cynical I’m Spending Christmas Alone (something I highly doubt that someone so cutting edge, cool and creative is doing).

I’m Spending Christmas Alone

In April she’ll be singing at Joe’s Pub with Future Wife.  Milton and I will be there.

Lame Adventure 105: Tile and the Packing Peanut

Anyone who works on the serf-side of the tile and stone world will tell you that this is a material where, if it can go wrong, it is guaranteed that it will because tile, a product that is often beautiful, is also synonymous with mental anguish.   Hand crafted artisan tile in particular is essentially a bitch goddess.

For example, a customer approves a sample of a ceramic tile that is white, the material is ordered, but what the customer receives looks yellow.  The sales associate is asked to explain this phenomenon.  A flurry of phone calls are made, samples are shipped back and forth, the customer grows increasingly frustrated and the sales associate descends into the second coming of Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend.

Or, something can go terribly awry with the installation.  The customer that paid a king’s ransom for a gorgeous stone goes irate, and even though the material was perfectly fine, he screams it is defective when it was the sub-contractor that did not supervise his crew, five brothers named Clem, that lied through their missing teeth to get the job.

My role in the tile universe is to oversee the tile samples displayed in all of my company’s retail showrooms.  Our showrooms are shrines to tile so it is imperative that what we display looks perfect.  The second I sniff the scent of anything peculiar, I hop onto my Acme brand pogo stick and propel myself into my superior’s office.  Recently, I noticed that a color code differed between a sample and a tile vendor’s literature.

Many times when I contact our vendors what I spew is the first they’ve heard of the situation.  My company has a reputation for being insanely anal.  In this instance, the vendor is a guy I’ve known for many years.  He is not sure if our sample has since been reformulated or the label was mistyped.  He offers to send us a mini-sample kit with a condensed version of his entire line at no charge.  Free is my liege’s second favorite four-letter f-word.

Liege brings to mind a quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V, “Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.”  I must urge my sidekick, Greg, to reference that bit of poetry to Elsbeth, our boss, but it might prompt her to ask me confidentially if Greg has masturbation on the brain.  I could suggest that she must have he and I confused, and also remind her that he is the one with the longer sideburns and I, the flatter chest.

I am sitting at my desk crunching numbers for a sample order I must place.  This task is so underwhelming that I fill the concert hall of empty space in my head with my total recall of Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire.  Greg approaches me.

Greg:  Hey, Elsbeth’s mini sample kit arrived.

Me:  Stella!

Greg:  Should we open it?

Me:  Sure.

I follow Greg into our warehouse and see a large box.  He slices it open with a box cutter.  We are now staring at a massive pile of packing peanuts that reminds us both of Cheese Doodles.

Packing peanuts for all!

This inspires us.

Me:  Let’s melt one!

The chosen one.

Greg scoops out a peanut, pops it into a drinking cup, and then pours hot water from the water cooler into the cup.  It dissolves instantly and our office reeks of corn.  All of our colleagues rise out of their stupor.

"I'm melting!"

Ling:  How bored are you that you’re melting packing peanuts now?

Under Ling:  I want to see the melted peanut!

Under Ling eye view.

The Quiet Man, the rock star working in the back of our office, removes his headphones and speaks for the first time since last Thursday.

The Quiet Man:  That biodegradable packing peanut you melted there is made from cornstarch so that explains why it smells like corn.  Technically, it’s edible, but I wouldn’t recommend you eat it since it’s unlikely that it was produced in food-safe conditions.  I’m sure they have no nutritional value, either.

Greg and I absorb this speech.  We resist the urge to applaud.  The Quiet Man reinserts his headphones and resumes ignoring us until October.

Me:  I’m sure they taste better than that bowl of organic twigs I called breakfast.

Looks like breakfast to me!

Lame Adventure 5: Lunch vs. Living

Possibly one of my most masochistic lame adventures is my daily lunch regimen during the work-week.  In the more than five years since I have commenced my illustrious career in competitive floor tile labeling, I have seldom deviated from bowling bagging my lunch Monday through Friday.  A take-out sandwich in any reputable (unlikely to include ptomaine as an extra ingredient) sandwich shop in the vicinity of my Tribeca area workplace would set me back close to $10 a day.  The thought of investing $50 of my meager alms on five overpriced sandwiches a week when I have to feed the ravenous theater and movie-going beast within puts my priorities in perspective.  Therefore, I have long been committed to making my lunch myself for dimes on the dollar.

Over this half decade, I have essentially eaten a variation of the same modest lunch every day, a homemade sandwich, a piece of fruit, and some kind of dark chocolate.  With time off for vacation, holidays, the infrequent sick day, an upper endoscopy, a mole removal, and the rare lunch out, I have calculated that I have eaten approximately 1,200 sandwiches since I was recently awarded the title Minister of Tile Labeling in response to my heated demand for a salary increase.  When my sister, Dovima, brags to her friends about me, they’re under the impression that I’m now a member of Parliament.

From this number of sandwiches you might assume that I’m very fond of the sandwich, but you would be sorely mistaken.  I’m certain that if I die and go to hell, the only foodstuff on the menu will be a sandwich, and one as appetizing as the kind I make, if you’re a fan of dining in state penitentiaries or kennels.


Yet, when I’m sitting with Milton, in a close center orchestra seat at a sold out performance of A Little Night Music on Broadway, where Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury take turns spitting on us, 48 weeks of mediocre lunches per year is a small sacrifice for such a satisfying pay-off.  In fact, I hardly notice the cell phones ringing and audience members coughing tubercularly during the singing of Send in the Clowns.  I am so grateful that eating years of crummy sandwiches is why I can afford to go to the theater, I am almost blind to the man sitting next to my dear friend, jumping out of his seat and applauding enthusiastically before the show’s finale.  As Milton dryly observed, “The clowns are here – right next to us.”