Saturday, August 28, 2004

This Semester I'm taking...NYC 101a

Everyday I learn something new in this city. Today, for instance, I learned things about the subway: Even though stations A and B are connected on the MTA maps by a pretty line of the same color, and said map indicates train X does stop in stations A and B, sometimes, just because (say, it's a Saturday, or after 2:49 p.m.), train X doesn't stop in station B, and you have to actually get to station B to find this out. Usually, there will be a sign there that says "X train to Bronx." Sometimes, X train stops on two sides, but one side goes to the Bronx, and the other side goes to Coney Island. You get all excited because you didn't get confused like last time and jump on the first X train you saw, which goes to Coney Island, nope, you waited for the one that goes in the direction of the Bronx. Twenty or so minutes after standing and waiting with no sign of the Bronx-bound X train, however, you look at the sign and wonder if you are missing something, like maybe you need to utter incantations while turning, thrice widdershins, to get the train to arrive. Then you see the sign also says on weekends, Bronx-bound X doesn't live here. Then you get to spend lots of time running up and down stairs and hopping on trains Y and Z to get back to station A, oh yes you do. It is especially fun if you have 40+ pounds worth of unwieldy shopping on hand. I also learned it is possible for the subway to get so hot that you can feel sweat form and gather between your shoulders, then run down your back and right down into your asscrack, where it pools and leaves you with a decidedly unpleasant, not-so-fresh feeling. I learned that, even stinking (as one can begin to do after spending an hour lugging giant bags around the labryinthine bowels of the steamy subway system) and cursing (as one does after banging the sharp-edged contents of said bags against one's shins and ankles for the thirty-seventh time) and rocking crazy pit-, back- and booty-stains and the saddest wilted natural you ever did see (because one failed to anticipate any of the aforementioned woes and prepare by coating oneself head-to-foot with various sweat, frizz and odor-fighting chemicals), a fool working on a Goodwill garbage truck will try to holla. And, like, mean it. And these are the lessons I would like to give back, as thanks for all those I learned today: Oh MTA, if a train is not running, or is drastically behind schedule, make an announcement. Within ten minutes of the delay. It would mean so little to you, and yet so much to the hundred-or-so of us milling about, looking pissily down the track like a bunch of melting lemmings. And if you cannot be sodding bothered to make an announcement, air-condition some shit so we at least don't all stank by the time the air-conditioned conveyance arrives. Oh Goodwill garbage man, no. No. No you do not try to talk to a cursing, stinking, sweating woman carrying big-ass bags uphill in the heat, unless it is to offer her a hand, and even then, you know what, no. Because there is nothing, NOTHING, you can say in that moment to get her from thinking "What the holy-rolling hell was I thinking, dragging all this shit home from Brooklyn" to "Yes, big boy, I do have a minute, and I do find men twice my age wearing work gloves and holey tee shirts erotic, and yes we can do a little somethin' sometime." I mean, seriously, brother, where is your head? Tomorrow's lessons: Learning to PEE--Project, Enunciate and Emote--while relaying your story of homelessness on a loud, moving train.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Oh, Damn.

Does anyone not agree that this is the finest man in the world? I'm leaving now, I swear!

The New New Plan, Part II

Oh Lawd, y'all, I almost had a fit just now. I tried to put on a skirt I wore the other day and couldn't get it past my hips, and damn near died. 'Cause for real, I wore that thang just a couple of days ago, and I could not believe I gained that much in two days! And this is one of my fat skirts, too? Hell naw! I was about to start a screaming-and-crying jag the likes of which haven't been seen in this town since Liza went apeshit on David's ass for using her MAC eyeliner without permission. Then I realized I had the damn fly zipped and buttoned. Teehee. I'm makin' that coffee now.

The New New Plan

Today I need to take care of a whole lotta isht. I had a new plan for the weekend that involved many things, like to get up at 9 and get going, but it's 10:30 now. This is the new new plan. In no particular order. I have to start my diet and exercise regimen (again) and drag my behind around the reservoir three or four times. I need to go buy materials for a project at work and have the plan for that sorted by the end of the day. I need to do some editing of my real writing and have it ready for my graduate thesis advisor by the Monday after next, and I need to start NOW. I need to drop by the drug store and Fairway to pick up some thangs. I need to make myself some coffee, stat.

There and back again.

Well, Sid made it to Philly in one piece. A strange twist of fate led to me being driven there in a livery cab, one of the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Cars you see blocking all the damn intersections between midtown and the Upper Blank Sides. That was nice. Strange, but nice. You think it's awkward to talk to your cabby for 10 minutes in NYC traffic? Try 4 hours through the Poconos. Don't ask. Actually, the driver was really nice. He gave me some good tips on screwing the wireless communications industry back, for once (sign all your friends and family up with the same wireless company, spend a few extra dollars per month for mobile-to-mobile minutes, and then just be on the phone all the damn time--like, eight hours a day), and turned out to be from the same region of India as a really good friend of mine, so we hit it off, despite the fact that I almost got us lost three times, fell asleep twice, and doubtless drooled all over his nicely conditioned leather seats. I feel like I made a new friend. I certainly know more about him than I do about some of my old ones. When our little journey came to an end, I was kinda sad to see him go. I wasn't the one paying for the actual fare, but I felt compelled to tip him $20, which is hardly enough to cover a trip from Manhattan to Philly, but I am rather poor, so that was the best I could do. He looked shocked, and tried to tell me he'd had too much fun to take a tip, but the man has a family to support, so I wasn't takin' it back. The funny thing is, I was taking the hired car to my grandparents' house, so despite my poverty, I rolled up to their door looking like I was being chauffered around. Which I guess I was, but that ain't my normal means of transport--I'll walk 60 blocks to save $4, you know. But my grandfather, who was waiting at the door to greet me (love my Pop) was so tickled, he went around telling people I pulled up in a limo. There seems to be a trend toward exaggeration amongst my people. I don't know why he was so excited. I mean, it was just a Town Car. Hell, he drives a Continental (which he got after selling his own Town Car), so it's not even like he doesn't see 'em every day. But I couldn't get him to stop telling folks the limo story. Sigh. Tuesday, I did actually pull my train-hop in reverse, and made it back just fine, TYVM, but I realized that it was actually so much more expensive than the Chinatown deal that I might have to risk a little gang violence next time. I stopped at home long enough to shower before taking off again for my parents' place in suburban CT, where I shopped, ate too much, and gave my little brother a butt-whupping in Monopoly for his birthday (HBD, Tinky Foster!) before zipping back today and collapsing in a sweaty heap before my computer. My "vacation" was approximately 120 hours long. I spent about 13 of those hours in transit, and traveled something like 800 miles. My behind is tired.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The A Train

A for Ass, that is. I need to get from NYC to Illadelph on the morrow, and I need to figure out how to do it, which shouldn't be all that hard, but after a solid 9 hour workday without a break for food, drink, or making numbers 1 or 2, I'm having the damnedest time figuring it out. A normal person would go Amtrak, but Amtrak is $125, so you know that's out for this miserly miss. Greyhound is only slightly better, ringing in around $70, which, in Sid money, could still furnish a whole room, so hell no, I won't go (Greyhound, that is). The various Chinatown buses will get me there, eventually, for $20 roundtrip, but since they always overbook and there may or may not be a gangland-style knifing of drivers involved once I manage to actually get on a bus, I think I'll pass. That leaves a tangled web of mass-transity goodness, which only the criminally insane (or broke) would try to unravel. It seems to involve a Penn Station-Trenton-30th Street train-hopping plan, but given the fact that I have managed to get myself lost in Brooklyn trying to get from the UWS to Chinatown, and that all three of those three stations feature various dangerous and/or criminal elements I generally try to avoid, I'm thinking I could end up bleeding in a gutter. In Baltimore. Damn.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Congratulations to our 11th visitor!

If the counter reads 11, you're really the 10th lucky visitor to the site!* Yay, double digits! If you're in the city, I'll even give you a cookie! *The first visit was me, before I blocked my own IP address, you see.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Brushes with celebrity

For someone who hates Urban, I sure spend a lot of time there. Went today to get another bunny rug for a friend, and saw a minor celebrity--at least I think it was the guy who played that annoying Carlos character on Third Watch--shopping. He's tiny. Not that he looks all that tall on the show, but still. Anthony Ruivivar, that's his name. I don't think anyone else noticed him, though, so maybe it wasn't him. Or no one (including Sid) cared to confirm it. Is it worse to go unnoticed or to be recognized and have no one care?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Heaven on Atlantic Avenue

The Atlantic Terminal mall (at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. in Brooklyn--B, Q, 2,3,4,5 at Atlantic Ave.) is discount heaven. There's a brand-spankin' new Target, and a DSW, and a Burlington Coat Factory, all in one place! Why don't I live in Brooklyn? The rent is lower than on the UWS, and it has all this cheapster bounty. Oh wait, I don't pay rent. That's why. But if I decide to stay in New York after my current gig ends, I'm moving to Brooklyn. I went to Target. I love Target. It just opened two weeks ago, and still it has clearance items. Now I have a purty blue rug for my kitchen floor, a scale for my bathroom, a set of cutlery with drawer organizer for my grub, a magnetic dry-erase board for my fridge, and filing trays for my desk, all for under $25. I went to DSW (that's a discount shoe warehouse for the unitiated). Know what I got? Waterproofer. Know what else? Leather and suede cleaner. Know how much they cost me, combined? $8.15 with tax. Know how much they cost me if you factor in round-trip tribute to the MTA gods of transportation? $12.15. Know how much less that is than the pre-tax price of waterproofer alone at Tip Top Shoes? $0.84. Savings with taxes factored in? $2.85. So who done good? Sid.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I'm moving to Philly.

After today's sudden torrential downpour, I thought it might be wise to pick up some water and stain protector for my lovely new kicks. You know, the spray kind. So I went back to the Tip Top joint to get some. When I got there, the nice salesman who helped me yesterday (a grandfatherly type whose dignified, bearded mug inspires trust) came immediately to my aid, asking if there was a problem with my shoes. Fantastic customer service here, I thought to myself. I told him I was there for water-proofer. Even though that was something I could easily have gotten at the register myself, he escorted me over, took a can down, and hung around until the cashier was ready to ring me up. Looking out for the customer. Old-fashioned service. Brotherman kept a death-grip on that can though, right up until he handed it over to the cashier, so I never got a good look at it. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about the excellent service at the store, so I didn't think too hard about it. "That'll be $14.95." Say what? Say. The hell. What? Not being known for my subtlety or grace, I believe I made some yokel comment like, "Holy crap, are you kidding?" before I could stop myself. Smooth. She was not kidding. "It's $12.99 plus tax." So I didn't get it. 'Cause that's crazy. I have never in my entire waterproofed-boot wearing life spent more than $5 for a can of waterproofer. I figured, being New York and all, it might get as high as $7. Never in my wildest speculations did I imagine it would get over $10. And do you know why? Because there isn't a water-proofing goddamned product in the world worth fifteen goddamned dollars, that's why. If it cleaned, shined, and conditioned my shoes, finishing them off with a lovely meadowflower frangrance and the sparkle of a sheen of genuine pulverized diamonds, it would still only be worth about seven fiddy. Christ. No wonder brotherman was holding on to that can. He didn't want me to see the price. Maybe he thought if I didn't find out until after it was all tallied, I would be too embarassed not to pay. He was wrong. As hell. On the way out, he had the nerve to say, "Maybe you can find it cheaper at a shoe maker, sweetheart." Well, yeah. I could hire somebody to go out and get it for me for less than that. Maybe. Hmph. And now another brick has been hacked from my wall of "everybody-is-fundamentally-good" naivete. Customer service, my ass. That was all about the commission. I mean, I'd love to help a brother out, but I ain't payin' three times what some isht is worth. Damn. I might go back and get another pair of those shoes, though. Never hurts to have a spare.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

10 Things to Love About Bollywood Films

1. Musical numbers. Lots of Bollywood films have intricately choreographed musical numbers involving casts of dozens, and who can complain about that? Even in the most unlikely films, the most commonly-assumed-to-be-inappropriate places, there are musical numbers. Case in point: Mission Kashmir, a film about a family in a region rocked daily by atrocious violence and political scheming. A musical number featuring two of the stars reconciling sweetly, and humorously, after a fight, ends with one of them being blown up in an assassination attempt on the other. In the middle of the movie, not the end. Someone wrote that scene, and then kept writing that script. And yet, I don't hate Mission Kashmir. In fact, I've rented it twice. Let's see Hollywood try to pull that off. Pshaw, I say. Pshaw. 2. Run time. Owing to the fact that there are so many musical numbers worked into the story, they can run over 3 hours long. That's twice the filmi goodness! 3. Can Tom Cruise do the running man? Nope. But Hrithik Roshan can. Nevermind the fact that he's wearing taper-legged pants when he does it. Or that he is doing it at the start of the new millenium, instead of 1989. That's still deep. 4. French cinema often shows people the way they are, foibles and all. Hollywood cinema is a big ol' lie, showing people behaving in the ways we'd like to think we behave. Bollywood cinema is complete fantasy, often having little or no basis in truth, probability, likelihood, possibility, common sense, or anything else that would suggest a given plot would ever actually happen. And yet, they are so much fun. 5. Shah Rukh Khan makes the best faces. Okay, it's one face, in lots of different movies, and seems to be used to express amusement, puzzlement, deep thought, fear, surprise--any emotion at all, really--but hey, I'm a fan. 6. Makeup artists that can put Pammy Anderson's infomercial-product-hocking friend Alexis Vogel to shame. Never is makeup on a woman so obvious, without being obtrusive, as it is on a Bollywood starlet. Awards should be won my friends, awards should be won. Okay, that was only 6. Owe you 4.

Patience is a virtue...sometimes.

So, with two days in a row off, Sid decided to sleep in. Noonish, when I woke up, I decided to drag my ass out to Brooklyn, to (finally) go to the new Target on Flatbush Ave., since apparently Manhattan is too, well, siddity to have a Target of its own. Being culturally siddity, yet pursificatorily cheap as hell, I love me some Target, so I will make the trip--Sid needs a bath rug, and ain't nothing I'm gonna drip all over on a regular basis worth more than $10. Now, getting to Flatbush Ave. from where I live is no big deal, so long as I walk a few blocks to get to the subway on W72nd and ride that sucker to Atlantic Avenue. So I did walk the few blocks. But you know what else is on W72nd? Why, Urban Outfitters, the hipster mecca I love to hate! So I decided to go there first. Y'all know that, though I hate Urban prices, I love Urban sales, so I drop in now and then. Last time I went, I got a $90 rug for less than $15. That time I spotted the cutest little bunny bath mat, for an entirely unreasonable $20. I checked it out online, and they were on sale for half price, but Urban, being the money-grubbing bastard-entity it is, also charges nearly $10 shipping if you spend less than, I dunno, $50 or so, which would have meant a paltry $1 in savings, so I decided to wait, patiently, and check out the price later. Sure enough, today, in store, guess what was selling for $9.99, with an extra 50% off? Who got her $20 bunny rug for $5? Mwahahaha! I also picked up two sets of tub toys marked down from $8 to $1 each. So I got $36 worth of schwag for a whopping $7 today, and never had to spend an MTA-allotted dime. Sweet. Patience is a virtue. Somtimes. And sometimes you just need to handle your shit fast. All aglow with my thrifty triumph over the metaphorical retail Man, I stopped in Tip Top Shoes (155 W72nd, a hopskipjump away from a Krispy Kreme, woohoo) for a quick look around, and fell in love with these sporty little jammies. Now, normally discount shoe shopping is an experience akin to an opiate high for Sid, who friends know will go on an interstate (or Internet) quest to "score" her shoe hit at the right price. Unfortunately, some dingbat woman on a similar mission felt obliged to bring along her effing terror of a grandchild, spoiling the experience for everyone around her. While Dingbat Grandma chatted and sent salesmen scurrying for shoes, her eightish grandson ambled around the store trying to tear down displays with a shoehorn. Seriously. Now, I know it's hard to step out with a child. Really, I do. But goddammit, if you're going to do it, control the little monkey. Now. Not when you get home, not when you get outside, not even in a whisper, which is a clear indication to the child that they are the ones in control, 'cause mommydaddy is afraid of what other people think. Now. Nothing brings a point home like humiliation before witnesses. I hate it when folks take their kids out and just let them run wild, because that means everyone around them will be doing the damage control that should be the child-walker's responsibility. This point would be totally lost on DG. When the little hellion finally reached a peak of irritating destruction and DG seemed clearly unwilling to exert any control over him, the salesmen stepped in to take away the shoehorn and shoo the little PITA away from the displays. The little monkey just walked away, ignoring the salesman, until his granny finally spoke up. The kid's response was to drop his weapon where he stood and move on to another display. The beleaguered salesman, who clearly has done a good job raising runts of his own, picked it up, shoved it back in the kid's hand, and told him to give it back the right way. DG, being now forced to acknowledge her charge's misbehaviour, half-heartedly chided the kid, made some "Really-he's-gifted-but-has-ADD-and-his-mother-and-I-can't-control-him" remarks for the benefit of anyone who could hear, and then promptly went back to ignoring his misdeeds, giving the lie to her "we-try-so-hard" schpiel. The kid went and pulled some other stunt, and the salesman told him to sit down with his gran; then the little punk started trying to tear up the chair, and beleaguered salesman was pissed. At that point, he gave up trying to control the kid and asked DG, the person who should have been watching him, to at least try to bring him to heel. Now, it's a damn shame when store staff have to check you and your rugrat once. But twice? The shame! Or at least, the average caretaker would be ashamed. DG, however, was not. In fact, the hussy got huffy, and blew up at the salesman. It went something like this: "I can't help it, he has ADHD! It's a sickness! We've been dealing with this for three years!" And other lame excuse-making and so forth. Now, pardon my presumption, but I am pretty sure I and all those who witnessed this exchange thought, "Bitch, if you knew he was a hardheaded little beast who liked to act up in public, why the hell did you bring him along?" Again, a point which was clearly lost on DG. The salesmen, no doubt scenting a discrimination suit at her pregnant mention of "sickness," backed down as fast as they could, which is a shame, because they were not in the wrong to take her to task. She should have taught monkey-boy a lesson by taking him home and giving him a time out, or whatever, as soon as he started to misbehave, rather than selfishly inflicting him upon everyone else so she could try on some damn Clarks. For reals. It seems a lot of relatively well-off children these days are being diagnosed with behavioral "disorders," but having seen the lack of control their parents exercise (due to guilt or fear or disinterest or whatever), Sid thinks that a good two-thirds of them are really just bad-ass kids. If they were poor, people would just say they were bad-ass kids. Why do these little monkey-behinds (and their errant parents) get to claim illness? It ain't right. That woman should have handled her bidness. Not one to be distracted from a discount hunt for long, even by irritating kids and their irritating grannies, I turned to my shoe-fitting task. They didn't have my regular size, but fortunately the shoes ran large and I could wear a full size smaller. I considered thinking about the shoes overnight, but they only had two pairs in the color I wanted, and I really lurved them, and in a city with 8 million people, there is a good chance that three women who wear the most common shoe size in the nation want some orange kicks on the same day, and I did not want to be loser #3. I bought my happy shoes of light. Handled my bidness right quick, sirrah.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Oh, la petite singe!

The cutest little baby ever, right here, dedicated to princess lala. Das' cute, right? And if you liked that, look at this.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

This is a trip right here.

But it isn't nearly as disturbing as the Before and After on the previous page. This was just too funny not to share. The whole sight looks like there are a lot of altered images and outright misrepresentations, but this was a good one. I will never look at the movie Gremlins the same way again. Though I am pretty sure whoever drew this comparison hasn't seen Gremlins 2: The New Batch, because there are creatures in that one with far more resemblance to her new look. It's a damn shame, because she was such a pretty girl before the stupid plastic surgery.

Friday, August 06, 2004

A moment of silence, boys and girls...

Rick James died today of natural causes. He was 56. I can't wait to see the obit on It's bound to be better than this one from the NYT.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Migraines, Diane Sawyer and the Prince of Darkness

Why do the people in the Excedrin commercials always have crazy eyes? Is it supposed to be some migraine common denominator? I've known people who get migraines. They don't have crazy eyes. Hmmmm. Who the holy-rolling-hell approved the voiceover for previews of Diane Sawyer's interview with Tom Cruise*. "Hear what it's like for Tom as a single dad." Watch as he makes "I'm bearing up under the strain of single-fatherhood" faces at her vaselined lens. This is journalism? The hell, you say! I'm sorry, am I supposed to be sympathetic? Shut. The Hell. Up. Single dad, my ass. He's got nannies. And doesn't the redhaired giraffe have the kids most of the time (with her nannies) anyway? Where is the hard-lined questioning delivered to Whitney and Bobby? Oh wait, nevermind. Ooooooh, I hate broadcast! Goddamn, producer folk, have some integrity! Asskissers. *This rant** was only mildly colored by my anti-Tom Cruise bias. That man looks like he uses his dragon teeth to eat babies for breakfast, which is only a slight step up from Dick Cheney's suspected habit of bathing in the blood of infants and virgins to maintain his unnatural reign outside of Hell, his true domain... **Those who know Sid also recognize the irony of this criticism.

Get your geek on

So, call me all sad and out of the loop, but I just heard about Noreascon Four, this year's Worldcon, annual mecca of SF fandom. It will be in Boston this year! Yippeeeeeeee! I must go. The sucker won't be in this country again until 2006, and even then it'll be out in Cali. Now, I love me some sci-fi, but I ain't goin' back to LA to get my geek on. Dang. It's a minor quandry figuring out if I can swing convention admission ($50-80 per day or $200 for the whole shebang) and the round-trip Chinatown bus. Which I guess means I am not a true fan, since people save up for months to follow this thing around the world, and I'm whining about $100. Still, I reallyreally want to go. The problem is more a matter of logistics (can I get any of that time off?) and finance (do I want to spend a quarter to a half of my monthly student loan debt to hang out with people wearing homemade chainmail? [Yes. Ooooh, yes.]) than lack of desire. Not to mention, I'm not sure any of my friends are geekly enough to go with me, and I don't want to go all alone (wanna join me?). I love spec fiction, but sometimes I do feel a little bit fringe of the fringe. There are plenty of SF/F fans of color, but the writers in this genre are few and far between: Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due. I wonder if mine would be the only brown face in the crowd. I'm goin' anyway. I just wonder.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Jesus makes another cameo.

There are some things that should be left well enough alone. Big Butt magazine is one of those things. The other day, internet superstar friend and I went looking for a copy so she could decide whether she wanted to be featured (tastefully, or as tastefully as possible in a magazine called Big Butt) in its glossy pages. We didn't find it then, but we found it today. Sweet baby Jesus in a jerkin, it was horrific! I suppose the number of big-arsed ladies willing to aim their fannies at a camera is low, and the number willing to do it minimally clothed lower still, but damn. Couldn't they have found some moderately attractive subjects? Some who would be willing to put in the effort required of a nudipants centerfold? You know, like taking a makeup lesson, or, god-I-hate-admitting-I-know-anything-about-this, waxing their hairy bums! Blech. Eeew. Twitch. 'Scuse me while I gouge out my eyes. ISF always poses clothed and tarted up, and so she will not be shakin' what her mama gave her for BBM. We also made our way to Crumbs, a really yummy bakery (The corner of W75 and Amsterdam), where I got a delicious minicupcake in strawberry buttercream flavor, which was actually even more delicious than the cupcakes at Magnolia, so I won't have to make any special trips to the Village to get my grub on. Then we had dinner at Jacques-Imo's, a Cajun place on W77 and Columbus. I ordered crawfish etouffee, a dish I got often at the Border Cafe during my time in Cambridge, and she ordered the fried chicken platter. I got a bland version of the dish I loved, and she got a plate with three very skinny, sad looking pieces of fried chicken (topped with a slice of jalapeno each, which I guess was supposed to make it more appetizing). The food was decent, but not great, and massively overpriced: the fried chicken alone rang in at $16, which is just sacrilege. I mean, damn, it's fried chicken! We could have gotten the same dishes better, and cheaper, on 125th St. We should have gone to Popeye's. Probably could have gotten a complimentary copy of BBM there. Dang.